Rules and Rule-Making in the Five Largest Wikipedias


  • Sohyeon Hwang Northwestern University
  • Aaron Shaw Northwestern University



Organizational and group behavior mediated by social media; interpersonal communication mediated by social media, Qualitative and quantitative studies of social media


An Erratum to this article was published on 10 July 2023.

The governance of many online communities relies on rules created by participants. However, prior work provides limited evidence about how these self-governance efforts compare and relate to one another across communities. Studies tend either to analyze communities as discrete entities or consider communities that coexist within a hierarchically-managed platform. In this paper, we investigate both comparative and relational dimensions of self-governance in similar communities. We use exhaustive trace data from the five largest language editions of Wikipedia over almost 20 years since their founding, and consider both patterns in rule-making and overlaps in rule sets. We find similar rule-making activity across the five communities that replicates and extends prior work on English language Wikipedia alone. However, we also find that these Wikipedias have increasingly unique rule sets, even as editing activity concentrates on rules shared between them. Self-governing communities aligned in key ways may share a common core of rules and rule-making practices as they develop and sustain institutional variations.




How to Cite

Hwang, S., & Shaw, A. (2022). Rules and Rule-Making in the Five Largest Wikipedias. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 16(1), 347-357.