Finding the main issue on the web

How does Wikipedia talk over sharing economy?


First of all we want to understand how the topic of sharing economy and the lack of a "shared" definition issue are treated in the universal encyclopedia of Wikipedia. We have found four different ways, used by the experts, to define this topic: "collaborative consumption", "collaborative economy", "on-demand economy" and obviously "sharing economy". That's why we explored the Wikipedia history pages of these four articles, to see how they were edited during their life.


We searched our four definitions in Wikipedia, but we found out that actually "collaborative consumption" and "collaborative economy" have been redirected to the page of "Sharing economy"; "on demand" query, instead, was redirected to the page "Access economy". We explored the history of these articles. To get the three pages aborted and redirected to others, we used them as queries and found them as "(Redirected from 'query')" in the redirection target page.


Once reached all the articles, the next step was the investigation of the related history sections. Here we used the Digital Methods Initiative tool called "Wikipedia History Flow Companion". It allows to download a dataset with any changes that has been made to the pages, reporting for each of them information about it: edit date and time, user, user page, size (number of bytes changed), comment left by the user and his geographic position. Through the comments, we were able to distinguish edits in: article creations, redirection to other pages, add of references and add of "see also" links.

How to read it

The visualization above shows the life and the main changes made to the four Wikipedia pages. The first page created was the one about collaborative consumption, in 2010. After its creation, we highlighted some important events happened, like the addition of the reference to the book "What's mine is yours" by Rechel Botsman (the main influencer within this field). The page "Sharing economy", instead, was created much later, in 2013, and 2014, the content of the previous page was added to this one. A little time later also the page about "collaborative economy" was created, but with the only purpose to redirect to "Sharing economy". In a different way the article "On demand economy" was created only in 2015 and after a few months redirected to the page "Access economy".


In the academic world it emerges the lack of agreement on the label to assign to the phenomenon. However we found out that this controversy has been "solved" on Wikipedia by redirecting all other terms of the conflict to the "sharing economy" one. It has become the main container of all different shades of sense, even if created much later than "collaborative consumption".


Timestamp: 11/11/2015

Data source: Wikipedia history

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