R at Wikimedia

July 9, 2011
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(This article was first published on Back Side Smack » R Stuff, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Last year Wikipedia rolled out a pilot program to use Wikipedia article creation as an assignment in the classroom. Students wrote articles on a topic area and rather than turning them into a professor and forgetting about it they upload it to Wikipedia and expose it to readers around the world. 24 schools inside the United States–including NYU, Georgetown and UC Berkeley–participated in the program and produced hundreds of articles.

Quantifying that progress is tricky, as the traditional assessment scheme on Wikipedia is very rarefied. Only one tenth of a percent of all articles are featured articles (the highest level) and a third of a percent are good articles. So the Public Policy team developed a new metric to grade articles in a richer sense without using the peer review process as a heuristic for overall quality. They were able to provide a very simple before and after for quality improvement on existing articles and some limited imputation on new articles.

At Wikipedia in Higher Education the Public Policy team presented their research to a group of professors, volunteers and Wikimedia employees. The best part of this presentation was all the underlying modeling and graphics were developed in R and displayed using ggplot2! The Foundation hasn’t released the complete report yet but I’ll link to it when they do.

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