Wikipedia may be the biggest group wirting project ever. As non-linear, evolving, complex and networked texts with multiple authors, Wikipedia provides a great opportunity for student collaboration, co-production of texts, argument, and interaction ((Drs. Axal Bruns & Sal Humphreys, 2005, Queensland University of Technology).
Although the Internet is a global medium, Wikipedia’s users and creators have different backgrounds. They live in different countries, and belong to different cultures. So it usually leads to misunderstandings and problems in communication. And in week 10 I read an article just describing such cultural difference in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia.
According to Hofstede’s research, (he collected date from 116,000 IBM employees who are working in over 70 countries Cultural Dimensions), there are 4 cultural dimensions:
1. Power Distance. It describes the relationship between the higher-ups and lower-downs of a society and how human disparity and differences in power and wealth are dealt with (Hofstede, 1991).
2. Collectivism versus Individualism.
3. Femininity versus Masculinity.
4. Uncertainty Avoidance , it describes the extent to which people feel anxious or uneasy in unfamiliar or unpredictable situations.
After that, the authors give several hypotheses based on these cultural dimensions, and use data to support his assumptions.
Here are the assumptions that can be verified by his data:
1. The higher the PDI (Power Distance Index) of a country, the fewer deletions are made in that particular Wikipedia page.
2. The higher the IDV (Individualism Index) of a country, the less likely its people are to add or clarify information, and the lower the IDV of a country, the more contributions can be found in the categories Add Information and Clarify Information.
3. The higher the MAS (Masculinity Index) of a country, the more contributions in the categories Add Information and Clarify Information are found.
4. The higher the UAI (Avoidance Index) of a country, the larger the number of contributions is in the category Add Information.
Actually, all the counties listed are not including Mainland China, so I made several guesses of whether all the assumptions will also be applied for the users from Mainland China. I looked up the scores of China ranked in all dimensions (http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/map/hofstede-uncertainty-avoidance.html), and here is the results:.
1. Compared with USA who scored 40 in PDI, Mainland China scored 80, so according to the assumption; users from mainland China should have fewer deletions.
2. China belongs to the category of collectivism, so there should be more contributions of adding Information and clarifying Information.
3. China scored 66 in the dement ion of “Masculinity”, it belongs to the high level, so it indicates that there should be more contributions of adding Information and clarifying Information. It is in accordance with number 2.
4. China got 30 in UAI, it is pretty a lower score, so it means that there will be a lower number of contributions of adding information.
Then No. 4 and No 2&3 are contradictory with each other. I hope if I got time, I can gather some data from Mainland China to see which one should be right! Should there be more contributions of adding Information or less contributions of adding Information in Mainland China?
Pfeil, U., Zaphiris, P., & Ang, C. S. (2006). Cultural differences in collaborative authoring of Wikipedia. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(1), article 5. Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue1/pfeil.html