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Quantifying Spillovers in Open Source Content Production: Evidence from Wikipedia

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Listed:
  • Aleksi Aaltonen
  • Stephan Seiler

Abstract

Using detailed edit-level data over eight years across a large number of articles on Wikipedia, we find evidence for a positive spillover effect in editing activity. Cumulative past contributions, embodied by the current article length, lead to significantly more editing activity, while controlling for a host of factors such as popularity of the topic and platform-level growth trends. The magnitude of the externality is significant, and growth in editing activity on the average article would have been about 50% lower in its absence. The spillover operates through an increase in the number of contributing users, whereas the length of contributions remains unchanged. Edits triggered by spillovers involve only marginally more deletion and replacement of content than the average edit, suggesting that past contributions do inspire the creation of new content rather than corrections of past mistakes. Roughly 75% of the spillover is due to new rather than returning users contributing content.

Suggested Citation

  • Aleksi Aaltonen & Stephan Seiler, 2014. "Quantifying Spillovers in Open Source Content Production: Evidence from Wikipedia," CEP Discussion Papers dp1275, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1275
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    File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1275.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360.
    3. Spiliopoulos, K. & Sofianopoulou, S., 2007. "Calculating distances for dissimilar strings: The shortest path formulation revisited," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 177(1), pages 525-539, February.
    4. Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1999. "International Knowledge Flows: Evidence From Patent Citations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1-2), pages 105-136.
    5. Jones, Charles I, 1995. "R&D-Based Models of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 759-784, August.
    6. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wikipedia; open source; user-generated content; knowledge spillover; cumulative knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • M11 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Production Management
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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