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Quantifying spillovers in open source content production: evidence from Wikipedia

Aaltonen, Aleksi Ville and Seiler, Stephan (2014) Quantifying spillovers in open source content production: evidence from Wikipedia. CEP Discussion Papers (CEPDP1275). London School of Economics and Political Science. Centre for Economic Performance, London, UK.

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Using detailed edit-level data over eight years across a large number of articles on Wikipedia, we find evidence for a positive spillover effect in editing activity. Cumulative past contributions, embodied by the current article length, lead to significantly more editing activity, while controlling for a host of factors such as popularity of the topic and platform-level growth trends. The magnitude of the externality is significant, and growth in editing activity on the average article would have been about 50% lower in its absence. The spillover operates through an increase in the number of contributing users, whereas the length of contributions remains unchanged. Edits triggered by spillovers involve only marginally more deletion and replacement of content than the average edit, suggesting that past contributions do inspire the creation of new content rather than corrections of past mistakes. Roughly 75% of the spillover is due to new rather than returning users contributing content.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D2 - Production and Organizations > D24 - Production; Cost; Capital and Total Factor Productivity; Capacity
L - Industrial Organization > L2 - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior > L23 - Organization of Production
L - Industrial Organization > L8 - Industry Studies: Services > L86 - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M1 - Business Administration > M11 - Production Management
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2014 16:29
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:03
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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