Contrary to popular expectations, a recent study published in Science Alert determined Wikipedia to be a much less egalitarian forum than envisaged. Researchers at Indiana University analysed 15 years of Wikipedia entries and found an “iron law of oligarchy,” an elite with power over the majority of the egalitarian system. Although power over other contributors was not intended as a goal, contributors can achieve ranks that provide additional editorial privilege. Thus, contributors to Wikipedia must be aware of paradigms, and they must be obedient to the archetype.
Currently over 30,000 people contribute to Wikipedia. However, the norms used for interaction and content editing and selection were established by fewer than 100 contributors. Eighty nine percent of norms were established pre-2004. Norms have not developed in the democratic fashion one would expect from an institution founded on the precept of equality of access. As a result, despite the ability of anyone to contribute to Wikipedia and the ability of anyone to edit an entry, successful Wikipedia entries need to comply with established norms. Professional writers with experience navigating these norms create more successful Wikipedia articles in terms of promoting content and by aligning with the archetypes established by Wikipedia.
Due to Wikipedia’s populist editorial policies, users can edit any article, altering text in variance with the intent of the initial contributor. However, this can be problematic if an inexperienced contributor creates a Wikipedia page but does not have the experience to ascribe to norms and maintain the original intent of the content page. Professional services can assist businesses or other organizations to navigate the community norms. Additionally, these professional services can monitor pages to assure continuity of content. Although most editors contribute in good faith, some work maliciously to alter content. Frequent attention is necessary to assure preservation of content.
As every language community supports different community norms, a professional service can create a Wikipedia page that aligns with the community’s manual of style. Global intercourse can be facilitated by experienced contributors.
As in many established bureaucracies, successful Wikipedia contributors bring experience with cultural norms, and they maintain these cultural norms into the future. These paradigms may strengthen or undermine an endeavor, but acknowledgement of the norms is necessary to navigate the organization.