Content Growth and Attention Contagion in Information Networks: Addressing Information Poverty on Wikipedia

Kai Zhu, Dylan Walker, Lev Mucchnik, "Content Growth and Attention Contagion in Information Networks: Addressing Information Poverty on Wikipedia", Forthcoming at Information Systems Research

58 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018 Last revised: 29 Jun 2021

See all articles by Kai Zhu

Kai Zhu

McGill University

Dylan Walker

Chapman University

Lev Muchnik

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration

Date Written: June 5, 2018

Abstract

Open collaboration platforms have fundamentally changed the way knowledge is produced, disseminated and consumed. In these systems, contributions arise organically with little to no central governance. While such decentralization provides many benefits, a lack of broad oversight and coordination can leave questions of information poverty and skewness to the mercy of the system’s natural dynamics. Unfortunately, we still lack a basic understanding of the dynamics at play in these systems, and specifically, how contribution and attention interact and propagate through information networks. We leverage a large-scale natural experiment to study how exogenous content contributions to Wikipedia articles affect the attention they attract and how that attention spills over to other articles in the network. Results reveal that exogenously added content leads to significant, substantial and long-term increases in both content consumption and subsequent contributions. Furthermore, we find significant attention spillover to downstream hyperlinked articles. Through both analytical estimation and empirically-informed simulation, we evaluate policies to harness this attention contagion to address the problem of information poverty and skewness. We find that harnessing attention contagion can lead to as much as a twofold increase in the total attention flow to clusters of disadvantaged articles. Our findings have important policy implications for open collaboration platforms and information networks.

Keywords: User-Generated Content, Open Collaboration Platforms, Information Consumption, Attention Contagion, Spillover Effect

Suggested Citation

Zhu, Kai and Walker, Dylan and Muchnik, Lev, Content Growth and Attention Contagion in Information Networks: Addressing Information Poverty on Wikipedia (June 5, 2018). Kai Zhu, Dylan Walker, Lev Mucchnik, "Content Growth and Attention Contagion in Information Networks: Addressing Information Poverty on Wikipedia", Forthcoming at Information Systems Research, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3191128 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3191128

Kai Zhu (Contact Author)

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Dylan Walker

Chapman University ( email )

333 N. Glassell
Orange, CA 92866
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://dylantwalker.com

Lev Muchnik

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem School of Business Administration ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

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