Cheers, Paul Foord

Ideological Segregation among Online Collaborators: Evidence from
Shane Greenstein, Yuan Gu, Feng Zhu
NBER Working Paper No. 22744
Issued in October 2016
NBER Program(s):   IO   PR
Do online communities segregate into separate conversations when
contributing to contestable knowledge involving controversial, subjective,
and unverifiable topics? We analyze the contributors of biased and slanted
content in Wikipedia articles about U.S. politics, and focus on two
research questions: (1) Do contributors display tendencies to contribute to
sites with similar or opposing biases and slants? (2) Do contributors learn
from experience with extreme or neutral content, and does that experience
change the slant and bias of their contributions over time? The findings
show enormous heterogeneity in contributors and their contributions, and,
importantly, an overall trend towards less segregated conversations. A
higher percentage of contributors have a tendency to edit articles with the
opposite slant than articles with similar slant. We also observe the slant
of contributions becoming more neutral over time, not more extreme, and,
remarkably, the largest such declines are found with contributors who
interact with articles that have greater biases. We also find some
significant differences between Republicans and Democrats.

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