This blog recently saw a big surge in the number of visitors from Germany. With a little tracing, I found the following website: http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/wissenswert/studie-wie-wikipedia-markttheorien-widerlegt;2640653;0
The website is called “Handelsblatt Economy Newsletter” that reports “New trends in economics and business administration”.
It’s purely in German and the article specifically talks about the forthcoming AER paper Feng and I wrote about Wikipedia.
I used Google to translate the article, and it looks quite nice to me.
========Translated Article Below=========
LONDON. What a mistake. In the summer of 2002 reported the “Berliner Zeitung” as one of the first German media over the Internet Wikipedia – fascinated, but also skeptical: “But like the reservoir of knowledge also have large audiences and continually grow: In the near future it will not succeed, well, works of reference such as the Brockhaus outdo. “No six years later, told the Brockhaus publishing the end for the printed dictionary with – and Wikipedia now one of the most frequently visited Internet sites worldwide. Tens of thousands are working for free, voluntarily and without any fee.
A success story that brings economists provide explanations. Their traditional theories suggest that it would not even have the rise of the Internet lexicon may be. Why should rational individuals make the effort to write encyclopedia articles free of charge for an anonymous audience? Any Internet user can use the Online Encyclopedia, without himself contributes articles.
Thus, Wikipedia is what economists call a “public good” – an offer that will benefit all the people and by the use of which no one can be excluded. Classic examples of this are dikes and street lights. For public goods, so budding economists learn in basic, there is a big dilemma: There are strong incentives to freeloaders – to seize the offer without providing anything in return. The traditional economics postulates: the greater the number of potential beneficiaries, the more problems arise with free riders.
At least with Wikipedia is exactly the opposite is the case, shows a new study that appears in the upcoming “American Economic Review: The greater the number of potential readers, the more people are willing to devote their working hours for the online encyclopedia – probably because they draw mental satisfaction from the fact that their text be read by many others.
The scientists Xiaoquan Zhang (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) and Feng Zhu (University of Southern California) have this effect after the example of the Chinese Wikipedia page. They use the fact that the government in Beijing has repeatedly censored the site due to politically unwelcome information. From October 2005, for example, were Internet users in China, the Wikipedia page does not call for nearly a year. By blocking the target audience of Wikipedia has reduced drastically over night. Million Internet users were suddenly excluded. For Chinese people in Taiwan, Hong Kong and the rest of the world, the page remained available, however.
What impact that had on the activities on the website? The researchers focused on the behavior of users outside the People’s Republic of China – people who, despite barring further access to the site and could change them. Zhang and Zhu use the fact that all changes are recorded in detail in texts on the Wikipedia page, and conceivably relate to the country in which the authors live. They compared the activities in Wikipedia immediately before and after the lock. They noted: With the start of the blockade itself have Chinese-language Internet users outside the People’s Republic of considerably less interest in Wikipedia – suddenly they wrote fewer new contributions and extended existing texts much rarer.
“The participation of authors is not blocked by the blockade decreased on average by 42.8 percent,” the economists note. The reason: The level of cooperation in Wikipedia procure satisfaction of the individual authors – researchers are referring to “social benefit”. “The shrinking group size reduces this benefit,” they write.
One indication of this is precisely the authors, where the social aspect of Wikipedia was very important and intensively romped in the discussion boards of the lexicon, wrote at the beginning of the barrier significantly less. “Our study provides empirical evidence that social effects may be stronger than the tendency to freeloaders,” the bottom line.
The study shows once again: economists make a mistake when they explain to the people to pure egoists – they can not explain many phenomena of real life properly.