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Wikicredit refers to practices about giving credit to Wikipedians for contributing content and developing Wikimedia projects.


Some systems for assigning credit to contributors were inherent from the early designs of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.

Terms of use[edit]

The Terms of Use for Wikimedia projects say that contributors must license the content they submit in certain ways. The most common way of sharing content on Wikimedia projects includes applying Creative Commons license all content submitted. The default license suggested for all Wikimedia projects has been CC-By-SA since June 2009.[1] This license includes a requirement that contributors be given attribution if the work is reused.

Wikimedia community attribution practices serve to credit people who contribute to Wikipedia when their contributions to Wikipedia is reused elsewhere. In practice, more than 90% of the time those reusing Creative Commons licensed content fail to provide attribution to the content creator.[citation needed] There is no coordinated system, either by any organization or a community effort, to police the use of proper attribution of Creative Commons licensed content.[citation needed]

Increasing indications that Wikipedia is edited by individuals[edit]

Increasing indications that Wikipedia is written by people could potentially convince more or our readers to become contributors. Attempts to study this are currently ongoing. About 20% of people who read Wikipedia are not aware they can edit Wikipedia.[1]

Edit counts[edit]

A user's edit count on Wikipedia may influence how other Wikipedians treat that user, and may influence a contributor's legitimacy in claiming any credit for developing content on Wikimedia projects.

While Wikimedia projects are supposed to host a commons, and while Wikimedia projects are supposed to be entirely collaborative, in some circumstances some users get benefit when other people recognize the contributions they have made to some Wikimedia content.

A major problem with using edit counts as a measure of anyone's contributions to Wikimedia projects is that this number is no judge of the quality of a person's work, nor its usefulness, nor of the work that a person has donated.

Proposals for giving credit[edit]

It has been proposed that more nuanced systems for giving credit to contributors to Wikimedia projects be developed.

Aaron Swartz proposal[edit]

In 2006 user:AaronSw did preliminary research which found that much of Wikipedia is written by casual contributors who do not engage deeply with the established and most active Wikimedia community members. Articles are developed by the casual contributors after which Wikimedia community regulars respond to it by copyediting and applying code to what they have shared. This was surprising because most public statements at the time described that Wikipedia's content was shared mostly by an established persistent community of contributors.

Aaron suggested that by better identifying the way that Wikipedia is developed, customized support could be designed for different types of contributors. In particular, Aaron was concerned that expert contributors who share information only occasionally get little credit for what they do and almost no support or recognition for the value of their contributions. This is because this demographic by definition would have no direct representation in Wikimedia community politics.

Byline changes[edit]

At the top of Wikipedia articles there is a byline which traditionally has read, "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". In September 2014 participants of WikiProject Medicine coordinated a trial of changing this byline to read, for example here for the article on breast cancer, "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia contributors".


ImpactStory is a web-based tool which seeks to count the number of times any given academic publication is cited. Among the counts that the tools performs is a count of the number of times a citation is referenced on Wikipedia. Here is an example:

See that it notes that this paper has been cited on Wikipedia a certain number of times. This tool gives credit to people whose papers are used to source content on Wikipedia.


Wikipedia:WikiTrust is the name of a MediaWiki software extension which uses an automated algorithm to calculate the reliability of contributors to MediaWiki wikis. It was developed in 2009, at which time there was some media speculation that it would be integrated into Wikipedia. After 2009 there was not much public discussion about this extension.

It was developed in a partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation and the Online Collaboration Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Automated calculation of contribution value[edit]

A problem with giving more credit to people who make more edits to any given article is that not all changes to any given article are equally valuable. There are systems proposed in the academic literature outside Wikipedia for assigning value to arbitrary portions of text in collaboratively developed systems, and this history of thought could be applied to Wikimedia projects.

Content persistence example. An example of word persistence between revisions is presented with arrows noting how "words" persist.
Simple web mockup. A simple mockup of the WikiCredit UI is presented as a home page/log in screen and a stats page.
Persistence project system. A diagram of the proposed system architecture for the Content Persistence Project is presented.

Recent advances in efficient tracking of authorship in Wikipedia[2] and past research on strategies for calculating the value individual editors have added to Wikipedia[3] could be applied to allow Wikipedia editors to claim credit for direct contributions to articles on a granular level.

It is not certain whether it would be beneficial to apply such systems to Wikimedia projects. Research on volunteer motivation patterns suggests that offering external incentives for intrinsically motivated actions undermines intrinsic motivation. Further, bad measures of what constitutes value could encourage disruptive behaviors in Wikipedia in the search for more wiki credit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Linksvayer, Mike (22 June 2009). "Wikipedia + CC BY-SA = Free Culture Win! - Creative Commons". Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  2. ^ WikiWho: Precise and Efficient Attribution of Authorship of Revisioned Content Proceedings of the 23rd international conference on World Wide Web, ACM, April, 2014 pdf
  3. ^ Priedhorsky, R., Chen, J., Lam, S. T. K., Panciera, K., Terveen, L., & Riedl, J. (2007, November). Creating, destroying, and restoring value in Wikipedia. Proposals from the Proceedings of the 2007 international ACM conference on Supporting group work (pp. 259-268). ACM.