Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 37 Number 4 2020 pp. 1047-1072

The Gender Bias Tug-of-War in a Co-creation Community: Core-Periphery Tension on Wikipedia

Young, Amber G, Wigdor, Ariel D, and Kane, Gerald C


Commitment to a neutral point of view is a pillar of Wikipedia culture. Despite a strong culture, the open nature of the community presents challenges for cultural assimilation. Central contributors who make up the community’s core engage in activism to combat traditional forms of bias. However, peripheral contributors may not adopt or adhere to the community’s cultural values and may reflect the very bias the community attempts to combat. These differences create tensions between central and peripheral contributors. Peripheral contributors are likely to contribute traditional types of information bias (e.g., bias against women). In response, central contributors may overcorrect in ways that reverse traditional biases. We compare gender bias on female and male CEO profiles and find evidence of bias that advantages women and disadvantages men. While peripheral contributors may dominate early in the life cycle of core-periphery structured open collaboration communities—due to the volume of contributions—the core dominates in the long term through sustained, systematic activism. Our results suggest that a balance of activity from central and peripheral contributors results in content with the most neutral point of view.

Key words and phrases: Online collaboration communities, digital co-production, core-periphery structure, digital collaboration, knowledge co-creation, gender bias, Wikipedia, CEO, online engagement, Wikipedia neutrality