Building a signed network from interactions in Wikipedia

We present in this paper results on inferring a signed network (a “web of trust”) from interactions on user-generated content in Wikipedia. From a collection of articles in the politics domain and their revision history, we investigate mechanisms by which relationships between Wikipedia contributors – in the form of signed directed links – can be inferred based their interactions. Our study sheds light into principles underlying a signed network that is captured by social interaction. We look into whether this network over Wikipedia contributors represents indeed a plausible configuration of link signs. We assess connections to social theories such as structural balance and status, which have already been considered in online communities. We also evaluate on this network the accuracy of a learned predictor for edge signs. Equipped with learning techniques that have been applied in recent literature on explicit signed networks, we obtain good predictive accuracy. Moreover, by cross training-testing we obtain strong evidence that our network does reveal an implicit signed configuration and that it has similar characteristics to the explicit ones, even though it is inferred from interactions. We also report on an application of the resulting signed network that impacts Wikipedia readers, namely the classification of Wikipedia articles by importance and quality.

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