(I reached out to Chato, Mayo and David to ask if they would like to present this work at the research showcase)

Emotions under Discussion: Gender, Status and Communication in Online Collaboration


Despite the undisputed role of emotions in teamwork, not much is known about the make-up of emotions in online collaboration. Publicly available repositories of collaboration data, such as Wikipedia editor discussions, now enable the large-scale study of affect and dialogue in peer production.


We investigate the established Wikipedia community and focus on how emotion and dialogue differ depending on the status, gender, and the communication network of the editors who have written at least 100 comments on the English Wikipedia's article talk pages. Emotions are quantified using a word-based approach comparing the results of two predefined lexicon-based methods: LIWC and SentiStrength.

Principal Findings

We find that administrators maintain a rather neutral, impersonal tone, while regular editors are more emotional and relationship-oriented, that is, they use language to form and maintain connections to other editors. A persistent gender difference is that female contributors communicate in a manner that promotes social affiliation and emotional connection more than male editors, irrespective of their status in the community. Female regular editors are the most relationship-oriented, whereas male administrators are the least relationship-focused. Finally, emotional and linguistic homophily is prevalent: editors tend to interact with other editors having similar emotional styles (e.g., editors expressing more anger connect more with one another).

On Aug 29, 2014, at 11:59 AM, Dario Taraborelli <dtaraborelli@wikimedia.org> wrote:

I too recommend the use of micro-surveys. The full rationale is here [1] but one of the immediate benefits I see is the ability to randomly sample from the population of newly registered users. It shouldn’t be particularly hard to set up an ongoing gender micro-survey to collect this data over time (it’s more a question for UX/Product: would this interfere with the existing acquisition workflow). We can also trigger a micro-survey at the end of the edit funnel and measure user drop-off rate by (self-reported) gender.

Product has concerns about adding extra fields to the signup screen: they may not be optimal from a UX perspective, but micro-surveys are the most flexible way of collecting this kind of demographic data without heavy MediaWiki engineering effort.


[1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:GuidedTour/Microsurveys

On Aug 29, 2014, at 7:01 AM, Leila Zia <leila@wikimedia.org> wrote:

On Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 4:58 AM, Dan Andreescu <dandreescu@wikimedia.org> wrote:
  • I wonder if we might explore ways to improve such a survey.  For example, we might include the gender question in the signup form for a small percentage of newly registered users.
This experiment sounds more useful than the current gender data.  Over time, it would also allow us to track retention rate by gender for those who answer the question.


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