First Monday

Identifying and understanding the problems of Wikipedia's peer governance: The case of inclusionists versus deletionists

Wikipedia has been hailed as one of the most prominent peer projects that led to the rise of the concept of peer governance. However, criticism has been levelled against Wikipedia’s mode of governance. This paper, using the Wikipedia case as a point of departure and building upon the conflict between inclusionists and deletionists, tries to identify and draw some conclusions on the problematic issue of peer governance.


Main characteristics of peer governance
Leadership and benevolent dictatorships
A summary of criticism on Wikipedia’s governance
Case study: Inclusionists versus deletionists
The governance process, inclusionists and deletionists
Lessons for peer governance




The open source software Linux and the popular free online encyclopedia Wikipedia are considered as prominent peer production projects, where individuals voluntarily participate and, using mechanisms of self–governance, produce digital commons. Peer production, a term coined by Benkler (2006), is a third open mode of production that has become typical of the Internet recently, where decisions arise from the free engagement and cooperation of producers. Peer governance is a new mode of governance and bottom–up mode of participative decision–making (Bauwens, 2005a; 2005b). It is the way that peer production, the process by which common value is produced, is managed.

However, criticism has been levelled against Wikipedia regarding its mode of governance. According to some of this criticism, the power structure within Wikipedia is invisible, vague and opaque, giving rise to a tyranny of structurelessness (Freeman, 1970; Bauwens, 2008). Critical questions such as “what kind of problems does Wikipedia’s governance experience?” and “why does it happen?” are examined in this paper. The narrative of this paper is structured around the conflict between inclusionists and deletionists. In conclusion, some tentative enhancement proposals are articulated.



Main characteristics of peer governance

Coffin (2006) mentions some obvious characteristics of successful open source/p2p communities. Firstly, the membership is open and widespread, premised on participation. The free collaboration among the members is geographically dispersed, asynchronous and organized in networks. Moreover, projects are transparent and dialogues among participants are recorded, with the materials of projects like Wikipedia subject to open review (there is a mechanism for institutional history). So, at the first glance, openness, networking, participation and transparency appear as the main characteristics of governance in peer projects. More closely, these projects do not operate in strict hierarchies of command and control, but rather in heterarchies. They operate “in a much looser [environment] which … allows for the existence of multiple teams of participants working simultaneously in a variety of possibly opposing directions.” [1] According to Bruns (2008), heterarchies are not simply adhocracies, but ad hoc meritocracies which, however, are at risk of transforming themselves into more inflexible hierarchies. In addition, following Bauwens (2005a; 2005b), peer projects are based on the organizing principle of equipotentiality, i.e., everyone can potentially cooperate in a project — no authority can pre–judge the ability to cooperate. In peer projects, equipotential participants self–select themselves to the section to which they want to contribute (Bauwens, 2005b). Moreover, unlike panoptism (i.e., the way knowledge is distributed in hierarchical projects where only the top of the pyramid has a full view), peer groups are characterized by holoptism, i.e., the ability for any part to have horizontal knowledge of what is going on, but also the vertical knowledge concerning the aims of the project (Bauwens, 2005b).



Leadership and benevolent dictatorships

Stadler (2008) submits that leadership in peer projects is not egalitarian, but meritocratic: “Everyone is free, indeed, to propose a contribution, but the people who run the project are equally free to reject the contribution outright … The core task of managing a Commons is to ensure not just the production of resources, but also to prevent its degradation from the addition of low quality material.” Further, benevolent dictatorships are common (Bauwens, 2005a; 2005b; Malcolm, 2008). For instance, these can be found in Linux project where Linus Torvalds is the benevolent dictator (Malcolm, 2008) or in Wikipedia where Jimmy Wales holds that role. Coffin (2006) highlights the necessity for a benevolent dictator (who typically is one of the founders of the project), adding that the foundation developers and the early adopters set the project ethos as well. The founder, along with the first members, upholds the right to fork. Axel Bruns (interview with Bruns, 2009) defines benevolent dictators “as ones of several heterarchical leaders of the community, who have risen to their positions through consistent constructive contribution and stand and fall with the quality of their further performance.” It is obvious that through such leadership roles, they may need to push through unpopular decisions. As Bruns notes, “if they abuse that power, theirs become a malicious leadership” and what we should expect at this point is “a substantial exodus of community members.” Therefore, following Bruns’ narrative, “the continued existence of the project at that moment would depend very much on whether the number of exiting members can be made up for in both quality and quantity by incoming new participants.”



A summary of criticism on Wikipedia’s governance

Wikipedians describe their project’s power structure as “a mix of anarchic, despotic, democratic, republican, meritocratic, plutocratic, technocratic,and bureaucratic elements” (Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, 2008). As Bruns [2] points out, this passage shows something more than an “existing lack of clarity about governance structures” as well as “the continuing experimentation with approaches to community self–regulation which is currently taking place in a variety of spaces on the site.” Moreover, Bruns (interview with Bruns, 2009) emphasizes that there is a need to distinguish between different national Wikipedias. In this paper, I concentrate on the English version of Wikipedia, as the majority of literature deals with it. Its massive amount of content creates a number of governance problems. It is difficult for a relatively small group of administrators to keep track of everything that happens — or to express it in Bruns’ style (interview with Bruns, 2009) — “in the far–flung regions of the site.”

Moreover, committed Wikipedians are not sometimes enough to prevent committed vandals from disruption: “As Wikipedia has grown, Wales has been forced to impose some more centralized, policelike measures — to guard against ‘edit warriors’, ‘point–of–view warriors’, ‘revert warriors’ … .” (Pink, 2005) “We try to be as open as we can”, Wales says, “but some of these people are just impossible.” (Brown, 2007; Pink, 2005) Butler, et al. [3] point out that the hierarchy of roles creates “a class of people who apply the control mechanisms for the group: the administrators.” Forte and Bruckman (2008) underscore that the vagueness of the distinction among social and technical powers of the administrators leads to the accumulation of power in one section of the Wikipedia community. Thus, administrators are the enforcers of policy and take more authoritative roles “making more and more interpretive and ‘moral’ decisions about user behavior.” [4]

Furthermore, according to Bauwens (2008) a power structure in Wikipedia has been created, largely invisible and vulnerable to the tyranny of structurelessness, as described by Freeman (1970):

“Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a ‘structureless’ group. Any group of people of whatever nature coming together for any length of time, for any purpose, will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible, it may vary over time, it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities and intentions of the people involved. The very fact that we are individuals with different talents, predispositions and backgrounds makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate ‘structureless’ and that is not the nature of a human group.”

Freeman’s argument is that in seemingly structureless groups hidden structures may impose different things on the rest.

An unregistered user of Wikipedia I randomly contacted cynically plays on the words when commenting that Jimmy Wales created “the structurelessness of a tyranny” indeed. Another random user observes that Wikipedia lacks a “functional system architecture” and “functional social contract.” In fact, following a user named Yehuldi, “there is a social contract, and most users and most admins adhere to it. The fundamental flaw is that there is no way to deal with the minority of admins who don’t.” Bauwens (2008) emphasizes that after the recent debate amongst deletionists and inclusionists and the requirement of notability, “the editors are dominating the process, to the detriment of the more expert contributors of articles, and growth has stopped; on the side of the Foundation, it now transpires that the Board wishes to diminish the influence of the community and its voting rights.” It would be interesting to see the main points of criticism according to the relevant Wikipedia article (January 2009) entitled Criticism of Wikipedia: “The major points of criticism of Wikipedia are the claims that the principle of being open for editing by everyone makes Wikipedia unauthoritative and unreliable … that it [Wikipedia] exhibits systemic bias, and that its group dynamics hinder its goals.”



Case study: Inclusionists versus deletionists

Wikipedia faces several governance problems, each with various ramifications. In this section a particular issue related to Wikipedia’s problematic governance is investigated. We examined an internal struggle between deletionists and inclusionists. It is based on a three month study (January–March 2009) of relevant literature, internal e–mail lists, external Web sites concerning Wikipedia, and e–mail interviews with (ex–)Wikipedians (some of them randomly chosen and others selected on the basis of their involvement in contributing to the development as well as criticism of Wikipedia) and experts (Bauwens, Bruns and Hartzog have written extensively on peer governance). The aim was to document the discourse of a battle between deletionists and inclusionists and the governance process at work.

An article published in the Economist (2008), under the title “The Battle for Wikipedia’s Soul,” made widely known the internal struggle between two conflicting visions, the first one supported by inclusionists, and the second supported by deletionists. The inclusionists argue for a wide coverage of human knowledge, as Wikipedia should feature as many articles as users can produce. The maintenance of a certain relevance and quality for Wikipedia’s entries lies at the heart of detelionists’ arguments. Deletionists — who claim that Wikipedia should be more cautious and selective regarding its content. They point to, for example, entries for almost 500 fictional Pokemon characters, indicating that they are harmful to the credibility and public image of the encyclopedia. Many inclusionists maintain that such disparities will disappear on their own, under the condition that Wikipedia is less retrictive editorially, so that anyone can add content about anything. They argue that Wikipedia does not have space constraints like a printed encyclopedia. They point to the fact that a majority of visitors reach specific entries in Wikipedia via search engines, thus never seeing trivial entries. On the other hand, deletionists assert that a certain quality threshold for articles will make Wikipedia more successful. They claim that so many entries for trivial subjects will lead to Wikipedia not taken very seriously.

I will next examine the governance process in terms of this discussion.



The governance process, inclusionists and deletionists

The Wikipedia entry entitled “Deletionism and Inclusionism in Wikipedia” (January 2009) offers an illuminating account about the history of this conflict. Wikipedia follows some specific policies about content creation. These policies are specific but at times are also inconsistent and conflicting. Concerning conflict resolution and inclusion, there are pages titled “Articles for Deletion,” where apart from discussing content, refer to “differing perspectives on how to edit an ideal encyclopedia.” [5] When a given debate is completed, an administrator judges community consensus [6]. Entries which do not require discussion are immediately deleted by administrators (Riehle, 2006). If a decision of a administrator is disputed, the community discusses it in a field called “Deletion Review.” On some occasions, controversial disputes and issues spread across the Internet outside of Wikipedia. In some cases, in internal Wikipedia conflicts, persistent debaters can wear down their opponent (O’Neil, 2009). Barry Kort, a Wikipedian and a MIT Media Lab scientist, suggests [7] that the source of the conflict between inclusionists and deletionists can be traced to Wikipedia’s lack of a conflict resolution process over content. “Festering content disputes eventually become disputes over the demeanor of combative editors.” [8] In spite of the fact that Wikipedia has some policies over content creation, Kort notes that:

“Wikipedia has evolved a helter–skelter hodgepodge of WP:RULES which are mutually inconsistent and conflicting. Those who become adept at gaming the system can thus pick and choose among the hodgepodge of rules to clobber their adversary (and even justify a block or a ban).”

Hence, the resolution process over content gave birth to the battle between inclusionists and deletionists. During this conflict two associations were initiated by administrators — the Association of Inclusionists Wikipedians (AIW) and the Association of Deletionists Wikipedians (ADW). Each has a Wikimedia page, where their members, perspectives and principles are treated. Hartzog [9] noted that the Web pages of ADW visibly follow traditional organizational practices while AIW considers itself as a movement.

Several (ex–)Wikipedians interviewed thought that this battle was detrimental to Wikipedia. G., a Wikipedia contributor, pointed out that “the time spent arguing fine points could be used elsewhere, creating content or solving other problems.” F., another Wikipedia contributor, remarked that “this inclusionist vs deletionists thing has been absolutely overstated. The majority of us [contributors] create and contribute content and do not participate in this battle, which after all only weakens our motive power.” Moreover, C., a prominent ex–Wikipedian once a deletionist and later an inclusionist, pointed out the problems with Wikipedia’s governance:

“The crux of the battle between ‘inclusionists’ and ‘deletionists’ is over what subjects should be considered ‘notable’ for purposes of inclusion in Wikipedia … I would not say that the policy itself is really part of the problem. Rather, it is open editing policy and the ‘consensus’ policy, and how they are administrated, that I identify as the more likely culprits [he means the instant and anonymous editing of articles] … . Wikipedia’s governance is so diffuse and dysfunctional, that even they don’t know how to describe it … I was interested to see that Jimbo Wales [nickname of Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder] effectively admitted … that Wikipedia’s policies were essentially made up as they went along. This ad hoc nature of Wikipedia’s governance, coupled with some basic flawed assumptions upon which the project was based, made all the drama with Wikipedia inevitable.”

However, C. clarified that the inclusionism vs. deletionism debate would still have taken place even if Wikipedia had a more rational and functional governance mechanism: “It’s just that it would have been less of a distraction” he remarked, adding that this conflict was not a root problem but a symptom. Bauwens [10] disagrees with C.’s remarks and maintained that the battle was actually a root problem. Bauwens suggested that when there are abundant resources, people do not have to fight over resources but instead self–aggregate. When there is scarcity, decisions have to be made about allocation through democratic, hierarchical or market mechanisms. Thus, following Bauwens’ view, “what deletionism does, is to artificially create a scarcity and hence a power mechanism where none was objectively necessary. So, [this battle] is a fundamental issue.” Concluding, Bauwens underlined that “of course you can argue that even with deletionism, an appropriate democratic mechanism may have been selected, and that would have mitigated the rampant power abuse … So, in a way, there are different levels of analysis, very much inter–related so that any root cause never exists on its own, causing all the others.”

Hartzog, in an e–mail exchange between me and Bauwens (2009), took the point further seeing inclusion and exclusion (as he prefers calling deletionism) as a consequence of drawing boundaries:

“The challenge in both communities and knowledge spaces is how to create aggregates in which boundaries are interpenetrated and overlapping. In knowledge spaces, it’s tagging, i.e., non–‘mutually exclusive’ categorization schemas. In communities, it’s cosmopolitan multiculturalism, i.e., non–‘mutually exclusive’ categories. I think that the problem has always been central to human civilization, but the information technologies … have given us an ease and speed that bring the problem to the fore.”

Hartzog ended his philosophical narrative with Adorno, saying that “we can’t avoid categories and boundaries, so all we can do, and we must do it, is to remain reflective and compassionate about our inclusions and exclusions.”

Bruns [11] considered the debate over inclusion or deletion as more suited to Britannica than Wikipedia — as “in Wikipedia’s digital environment, there’s certainly no commercial or practical reason to exclude any topic from being covered (unlike Britannica, where adding another topic requires more staff resources and adds further to the page count).” Therefore, Bruns [12] argued: “the question of whether a topic is worthy of inclusion in the encyclopedia now comes down more simply to a question of whether anyone is able to write a good entry about it — and ‘good’ here means both well–written and in line with Wikipedia’s core principles of NPOV, verifiable, and not based on original research.” Like F. and G., some of Wikipedia’s contributors I contacted, Bruns [13] wondered to what extent the importance of that struggle has been overstated and how much of this struggle between different philosophies is connected with day–to–day practice within Wikipedia itself. In other words, perhaps the start of a division is taking place, between those who are attempting to develop a conceptual framework for describing different schools of thought amongst Wikipedia’s contributors at a more abstract level, and those who continue to edit and develop Wikipedia at a practical, everyday level [14]. Bruns does not belittle the search for better theoretical frameworks to describe Wikipedia, as he believes it is important that Wikipedia is reasonably clear about what it chooses to cover or not to cover [15]. However, he suggests that the vast majority of Wikipedia’s users and contributors probably would not know that there are factions called deletionists and inclusionists, and would not self–define as one or the other:

“[They] may even say that in practice, the decision between including and deleting is made on a much more fine–grained, case–by–case basis that shows a great deal more complexity than a simple dichotomy is able to do. And that … is a result of what Wikipedia fundamentally is: it’s not a controlled, even controllable, well–organised mechanism for developing a reliable knowledge base that asymptotically approaches perfection through careful editorial quality control processes (as encyclopaedias of the traditional type may once have claimed to be), but something much more unruly — a sometimes messy, self–organising, continuously unfinished collaborative process that relies not on hierarchical structures, but on the wisdom of crowds for its quality control processes.” [16]




Wikipedia is about representations of knowledge, about unfinished artifacts in a constant process of creation and evaluation. It does not rely on hierarchical structures, but on the wisdom of the crowds for its quality control processes. This is undoubtedly a valuable lesson learned by Bruns (2008; interview with Bruns, 2009). It illustrates that Wikipedia is a peer project, most of the times, relied upon self–organized, uncontrollable, heterarchical structures. Of course, this does not imply that there are no particular requirements to be met. On the one hand, Wikipedia follows some certain rules (WP:RULES) for content creation, which are in some cases mutually inconsistent and conflicting. Therefore, administrators who are adept at manipulating the rules are capable of defeating their foes in order to justify a deletion, block or ban. Active and organized minorities often prevail over the uncoordinated majority and others.

Many critically commented on the lack of clarity of Wikipedia’s rules and on the absence of a functional conflict resolution process for content disputes, without turning these disputes into editorial slugfests. The majority of participants in this research suggested that there is an urgent need for reform. In particular, Kort [17] pointed out that “the whole Rules and Sanctions paradigm is ill–conceived and should be scrapped in favor of a ‘21st Century Community Social Contract Model’ consistent with collegial norms of academic and scholarly enterprises.” Further, it was argued that artificial scarcity, which the deletionist approach inevitably creates, leads to a need for a power mechanism. An inclusionist view, on the other hand, would avoid many internal conflicts. Moreover, from discussions with (ex–)Wikipedians, it became clear that this battle over content is detrimental to the project. This struggle facilitates an “unproductive need” for self–definition, while the case itself is much more complex than just a simple dichotomy.

The consensus of my discussions and interviews with experts and (ex–)Wikipedians can be very well reflected in Bruns’ comments [18]: “If those criteria [Wikipedia’s core principles — neutral point of view, verifiability, non–original research] are met, I can’t see any reason to delete a submitted entry — however obscure the topic may be.” Hence, a recommendation could be that the project return to its inclusionist roots. At the same time, following Kort’s proposal, an unambiguous community social contract model should be openly formulated to secure, protect, empower and enrich the peer mode of governance.



Lessons for peer governance

Wikipedia’s mode of governance is an unfinished artifact. It follows the constant reform and refinement of social norms within the community. However, open participation in combination with an increasing number of participants makes the situation more complex (O’Neil, 2009). By examining the battle between inclusionists and deletionists, it was understood that Wikipedia’s lack of a clearly defined constitution, or what Kort [19] calls a “Community Social Contract Model,” breeds a danger for local jurisdictions where small numbers of participants create rules in conflict with others (O’Neil, 2009). These challenge the sustainability of the peer project. Arguably, the degree of openness in every aspect of a peer project’s governance should be questioned and closely investigated.

During conflicts, persistent, well–organized minorities can adroitly handle and dominate their opponents. The values of communal evaluation and equipotentiality are subverted by such practices. As Hilbert [20] remarked group polarization is a significant danger that open, virtual communities face: “discourse among like–minded people can very quickly lead to group polarization … which causes opinions to diverge rather than converge … [so], it is very probable that the strongest groups will dominate the common life.” In these cases, transparency and holoptism are in danger. Decisions are being made in secret and power is being accumulated. Authority, corruption, hidden hierarchies and secrecy subvert the foundations of peer governance, that is openness, heterachy, transparency, equipotentiality and holoptism — the very essence of Wikipedia.

Peer governance is a suitable mode to govern large sources, working more effectively in abundance [21]. This constitutes the main argument why Wikipedia should return to its inclusionist roots, while a functional, scrupulous and scientifically designed resolution process for content disputes and an unambiguous community social contract model needs to be implemented.




As noted earlier, the main characteristics of peer governance are equipotentiality, heterarchy, holoptism, openness, networking, and transparency. “The aim of peer governance is to maximize the self–allocation and self–aggregation by the community, and to have forms of decision–making that do not function apart and against the broader collective from which they spring.” [22]

Wikipedia is constantly at risk of transforming itself into an inflexible, despotic hierarchy, while new disputes are emerging about the mode of content creation and governance. As the size of Wikipedia increases (in terms of both content and participants), it becomes more difficult and complex for a relatively small group of administrators to keep track of everything that happens “in the far–flung of the site.” [23] Co–ordination problems on interpersonal and interorganizational levels as well as gaps concerning the interests and the identities of the inter–Wikipedian communities result in governance crises, threatening the sustainability of the project. Active and organized minorities often prevail over the uncoordinated majority and others. Further, the vague distinction among the social and technical powers of administrators — who sometimes take more authoritative roles and make more ‘moral’ decisions about user behavior — leads to power accumulation in one section of the community (Forte and Bruckman, 2008). A functional resolution process for resolving content disputes and an unambiguous community social contract model are needed. Wikipedia may follow some rules regarding content creation, which, however, in some cases are mutually inconsistent and conflicting. Thus, administrators, adept at gaming the system, can pick and choose among rules, and defeat their opponents. Moreover, how do you balance participation and selection for excellence? In other words, “how to make sure that truth does not become the rule of the majority and that expertise can find its place?” [24]

In addition, artificial scarcity, the fundamental point of deletionists, leads to a need for a power mechanism. A line has to be drawn between the sphere of abundance, where self–allocation is natural, and the field of scarcity, where cost–recovery requirements demand choices. As has been articulated, for the latter, some formal democratic rules are needed. According to Bauwens [25]:

“Rules and requirements that select for excellence and function against external attacks are legitimate, but processes that protect a privileged layer are illegitimate and destroy or weaken both the self–aggregation and the democratic procedures. So, what can go wrong? 1) The sphere of abundance can be designed to create artificial scarcities, which create limited choices and therefore power to choose … 2) In the sphere of the Foundations, such as the Wikimedia Foundation, which manage the infrastructure of cooperation, a lot can go wrong … such as a lack of differentiation between community and private business interests, and the lack of community representation in the Foundation … So, when the private power of Jimmy Wales and the formal leaders of the Foundation mix and merge with the informal powerbase of the privileged editors, there is a lot of potential for abuse.”




Bauwens [26] suggested that in the case of Wikipedia it would be essential “to return the project to its inclusionist roots, i.e., recognition of abundance; the strengthening of democracy and community representation in the Wikimedia Foundation; full transparency and business divestment in the Foundation.” Based on my research, I side with a moderate inclusionist perspective of Wikipedia’s content. After all, to put it in Bruns’ style (2008), Wikipedia is about “representations of knowledge.” A bottom–up self–organizational mode is enhanced by the reform of rules for content creation, creation of a functional process for resolving content disputes and the formulation of an unambiguous community social contract model. These developments are crucial steps supporting the sustainability of the project and empowerment of peer governance.

While some worry about a danger of the tyranny of the majority, a notion of meta–governance — that is operating in a context of negotiated decision–making — will handle many issues. Bauwens, partly echoing Jessop (2003) on meta–governance, noted:

“A possible solution is to create a mirror page for experts, who do not make the final decision, but can point to scholarly weaknesses in the open pages. I would also recommend the allowing of personal or collective forks, so that people can encounter a variety of perspectives, next to the official consensus page.”

In peer projects, the reintroduction of certain elements of traditional organization (hierarchy or market; project–based organization) contributes to their sustainability (Loubser and den Basten, 2008; Benkler, 2006). These elements are, after all, part of what it is understood as peer governance — an heterarchical, hybrid mode of organization. Bauwens’ proposition of allowing experts to have their own distinct voice (even in the form of a mirror page) corresponds to Forte and Bruckman’s [27] interpretation of Ostrom’s (2000) principles: “the continued presence of the old–timers, who carry a set of social norms and organizational ideas with them,” contributes to the sustainability of the project. In addition, a distinction is required for the social and technical powers of administrators, in order to avoid power accumulation. End of article


About the author

Vasilis Kostakis has studied business science, information management, political theory and technology governance at the University of Macedonia (BSc), University of Amsterdam (MSc), and Tallinn University of Technology (MA). At the moment, he is a Ph.D. student at TUT on technology governance and a member of the P2P Foundation.
E–mail: kostakis [dot] b [at] gmail [dot] com



This paper is based on author’s M.Sc. and M.A. theses filed and approved by the University of Amsterdam (2009) and Tallinn University of Technology (2009). The author is deeply indebted to Wolfgang Dreschler, Rainer Kattel, Anna Snel, Rik Maes, and George Dafermos for their comments and encouragement. Moreover, he wishes to thank Michel Bauwens, Axel Bruns, Paul Hartzog, Mathieu O’Neal, Barry Kort, and all the Wikipedians and the ex–Wikipedians, who participated in the research of this paper. Had it not been their contributions, this paper would not have materialized. In addition, the author acknowledges helpful comments made by anonymous reviewers of First Monday. Last, but not least, he acknowledges financial support from the Estonian Science Foundation grant 2009–2010 for research on “Public Administration and Innovation Policy.”



1. Bruns, 2008, p. 26.

2. Bruns, 2008, p. 140.

3. Butler, et al., 2008, p. 1,107.

4. Forte and Bruckman, 2008, p. 8.

5. Rettberg, 2005, p. 9.

6. Wikipedia, 2009. “Criticism of Wikipedia” (January); Wikipedia, 2008. “Wikipedia: Protection policy” (October).

7. Interview with Kort, 2009.

8. Ibid.

9. Interview with Hartzog, 2009.

10. Interview with Bauwens, 2009.

11. Interview with Bruns, 2009.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. Interview with Kort, 2009.

18. Interview with Bruns, 2009.

19. Interview with Kort, 2009.

20. Hilbert, 2007, p. 120.

21. Interview with Bauwens, 2009.

22. Ibid.

23. Interview with Bruns, 2009.

24. Interview with Bauwens, 2009.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Bruckman, 2008, p. 10.



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The following table contains the names and roles of the interviewees as well as the methods and periods of the interviews:


Table 1: Interviews for this paper.
Bauwens, M.Founder of the P2P FoundationE–mail exchange (semi–structured interviews) & Google Talk chatFebruary 2009
Bruns, A.Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology. Author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and beyond: From production to produsage (Peter Lang, 2008)E–mail exchange (semi–structured interviews)February 2009
Active member & author of Wikipedia ReviewE–mail exchange (semi–structured interviews)February 2009
G. & F.
Active (ex–)Wikipedians & Wikipedia Review users (randomly chosen)E–mail exchange (structured interviews)February 2009
Hartzog, P.Ph.D. student at University of Michigan working on PanarchyE–mail exchange (semi–structured interviews)February 2009
Kort, B.MIT Media Lab scientist & Wikipedia contributorE–mail exchange (semi–structured interviews)February–March 2009
Yehuldi & two anonymous Wikipedia usersUsers of Wikipedia & Wikipedia ReviewThey participated in a discussion that took place in Wikipedia Review forum (; membership is required). I did not actively get involved in the discussion.January 2009


The full content of most of the interviews has been published at;; and,, accessed 28 July 2009.


Editorial history

Paper received 27 July 2009; revised version received 6 March 2010; accepted 11 March 2010.

Creative Commons License
This work is in the Public Domain.

Identifying and understanding the problems of Wikipedia’s peer governance: The case of inclusionists versus deletionists
by Vasilis Kostakis.
First Monday, Volume 15, Number 3 - 1 March 2010