Slate Discovers The Power Law
from the 1-percent-of-a-big-number dept
The distribution of edits on Wikipedia is what's known as a power law, and power law distributions are ubiquitous in human societies. You can find power laws in the distribution of income, website traffic, book and CD sales, city populations, and dozens of other phenomena. Indeed, democracy itself is subject to power laws; the most politically active voters contribute the vast majority of volunteers and campaign contributions. The fact that Wikipedians' contributions follow a power law distribution doesn't mean that Wikipedians are telling "fairy tales about the participatory culture of Web 2.0." What makes Wikipedia different from traditional encyclopedias isn't a more "democratic" distribution of contributions, but the vastly increased number of people who are able to contribute when the encyclopedia is organized in an open fashion. This has produced an encyclopedia that is far more comprehensive than any commercial company could hope to produce.