research trying to influence real-world outcomes by editing Wikipedia

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research trying to influence real-world outcomes by editing Wikipedia

James Salsman-2
This was in the recent Research Newsletter:

https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/127472/1/847290360.pdf

They found a correlation between the length of articles about tourist
destinations and the number of tourists visiting them. They tried to
influence other destinations by adding content and did not find a
correlation in the subsequent number of tourists, suggesting that the
causation flows from tourism to article length instead.

But I was taken aback by the last line of their paper, "using the
suggested research design to study other areas of information
acquisition, such as medicine or school choices could be fruitful
directions."

Are there any ethical guidelines concerning whether this is
reasonable? Should there be?

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Re: research trying to influence real-world outcomes by editing Wikipedia

Leila Zia
On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 12:52 AM, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Are there any ethical guidelines concerning whether this is
> reasonable? Should there be?
>

​How about contacting the authors directly and asking them if they have
considered the potential ethical challenges of extending the research to
the two areas they've mentioned in the paper? Their response may be as
simple as: sure, and we are aware of it. If they're not aware of it, your
note can help them think about it.

Best,
Leila​



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Re: research trying to influence real-world outcomes by editing Wikipedia

Kerry Raymond
I can understand the hypothesis whether longer school articles would attract more enrolments, but I am a bit bemused about the medical hypothesis whether longer articles about a disease would cause more people to have it or at least be diagnosed with it. What exactly is the medical hypothesis here? Is it relating to treatment articles or drug articles?

As for the ethics, if the information added to an article (school or medical) seeks to be accurate and satisfies the normal requirements (citations, NPOV, NOR, COI, etc), so what? Does it matter if it's done by a research project or done by anybody else? Do we know who did every edit on those articles currently or why?

It's pretty clearly an ethical problem to add incorrect information. I can see a possible ethical issue if one article was updated with good quality contributions and another was done in a deliberately sloppy way, to test a difference.

Kerry

Sent from my iPad

> On 29 May 2017, at 6:00 pm, Leila Zia <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 12:52 AM, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>>
>> Are there any ethical guidelines concerning whether this is
>> reasonable? Should there be?
>>
>
> ​How about contacting the authors directly and asking them if they have
> considered the potential ethical challenges of extending the research to
> the two areas they've mentioned in the paper? Their response may be as
> simple as: sure, and we are aware of it. If they're not aware of it, your
> note can help them think about it.
>
> Best,
> Leila​
>
>
>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Wiki-research-l mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wiki-research-l
>>
> _______________________________________________
> Wiki-research-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wiki-research-l

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Re: research trying to influence real-world outcomes by editing Wikipedia

James Salsman-2
In reply to this post by James Salsman-2
A followup by the same authors reviewed in today's Signpost reverses
their opinion on causality, asserting that I improvements to articles
about places increases tourism:

http://marit.hinnosaar.net/wikipediamatters.pdf



On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 3:52 PM, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This was in the recent Research Newsletter:
>
> https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/127472/1/847290360.pdf
>
> They found a correlation between the length of articles about tourist
> destinations and the number of tourists visiting them. They tried to
> influence other destinations by adding content and did not find a
> correlation in the subsequent number of tourists, suggesting that the
> causation flows from tourism to article length instead.
>
> But I was taken aback by the last line of their paper, "using the
> suggested research design to study other areas of information
> acquisition, such as medicine or school choices could be fruitful
> directions."
>
> Are there any ethical guidelines concerning whether this is
> reasonable? Should there be?

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