Structuralist approach to Wikipedia

I have often been amazed by the speed by which current events and news content are added to Wikipedia. I thus tried doing a semiotic analysis about what encourages users to actively create content on Wikipedia, even though the content that they create is not related to their profile directly. This is unlike most other Web 2.0 technologies like social networks and virtual reality games, where the content created is directly related to user’s online profile. I thus studied a Wikipedia page to do a structuralist analysis of what motivates users to create content.

A Wikipedia page (snapshot)

Firstly, there is a “Login/Create account” link right on top of the page. On most of the websites which require authentication, we only see the words “Login”. Here, both “Login” and “Create Account” are spelled side by side. This encourages the addressee to create an account if he/she does not have one and also makes him/her feel at par with those who already have an account. This is the addresser’s way of saying that “we do not distinguish between registered old members and new members. Everyone has the same freedom and power to edit or create account”.

Secondly, the “Edit this page” tab on top is highlighted in bold as compared to the other tabs, emphasizing the creation of content. Most of the pages do not require the user to be even logged in, to create content.

Thirdly, there is a long listing of languages in the left hand column. The same page can thus be viewed in different languages. It accentuates the fact that wikipedia is not English-language centric but is global in nature, and thus motivates multi-ligual people to post content in their language as well.

Any other signifiers that you notice?


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