Self-Regulation: How Wikipedia Leverages User-Generated Quality Control Under Section 230
49 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2010 Last revised: 23 Oct 2010
Date Written: February 23, 2010
As Virginia Woolf once wrote, “[T]o enjoy freedom, we have…to control ourselves.” In the market for online information services, Wikipedia has done just that. Wikipedia has achieved astounding success via self-regulation. Wikipedia promotes user-generated quality control not as a legal obligation, but as a commitment to its educational purpose and values of its fact-checking community. In doing so, Wikipedia has leveraged the purpose of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into consumer welfare. Section 230 protects sites that engage in "Good Samaritan" policing of harmful material, with no requirement on the quality or quantity of such monitoring. Interactive sites should treat the statute an opportunity, rather than mere permission to thrive in the world of Web 2.0: those who can productively self-regulate, should.
Keywords: Wikipedia, User-Generated Content, Self-Regulation, Quality Control, Communications Decency Act, Section 230
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation