Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2010 - Computers - 244 pages
Wikipedia the encyclopedia is built by a community—a community of Wikipedians who are expected to "assume good faith" when interacting with one another. In Good Faith Collaboration, Joseph Reagle examines this unique collaborative culture.

Wikipedia, says Reagle, is not the first effort to create a freely shared, universal encyclopedia; its early twentieth-century ancestors include Paul Otlet's Universal Repository and H. G. Wells's proposal for a World Brain. Both these projects, like Wikipedia, were fuelled by new technology—which at the time included index cards and microfilm. What distinguishes Wikipedia from these and other more recent ventures is Wikipedia's good faith collaborative culture, as seen not only in the writing and editing of articles but also in their discussion pages and edit histories. Keeping an open perspective on both knowledge claims and other contributors, Reagle argues, creates an extraordinary collaborative potential.

Wikipedia is famously an encyclopedia "anyone can edit," and Reagle examines Wikipedia's openness and several challenges to it: technical features that limit vandalism to articles; private actions to mitigate potential legal problems; and Wikipedia's own internal bureaucratization. He explores Wikipedia's process of consensus (reviewing a dispute over naming articles on television shows) and examines the way leadership and authority work in an open content community.

Wikipedia's style of collaborative production has been imitated, analyzed, and satirized. Despite the social unease over its implications for individual autonomy, institutional authority, and the character (and quality) of cultural products, Wikipedia's good faith collaborative culture has brought us closer than ever to a realization of the century-old pursuit of a universal encyclopedia.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Hi Ty borden what you doing tonight to know went my lunched today to saw mae lois today to know went hone that way today to know got home today to know write you a letter today to in june going to the beach to el governor motel room to know have good time to know tried today got home today to know busy today to know thank about you today to know lunch good today to hot outside today to know doing tomorrow,
Love Joanna,

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I love the concept and the work but I would like to see a forum for biodiversity on Earth. We need many famous people to contribute.
Thanks you for your work,
Vicki Breazeale
contact me at:


1 Nazis and Norms
2 The Pursuit of the Universal Encyclopedia
3 Good Faith Collaboration
4 The Puzzle of Openness
5 The Challenges of Consensus
6 The Benevolent Dictator
7 Encyclopedic Anxiety
8 Conclusion

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Joseph Michael Reagle Jr. received his Ph.D. from New York University, where he also taught in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. In 2010/2011 he is serving as an Academic Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

Bibliographic information