HBS Case on Wikipedia

My colleague Karim Lakhani and I have just finished the first Harvard Business School case on Wikipedia.  Like Wikipedia itself, this case is available for free online and published under the GFDL.

It’s focal point is the articles for deletion process on Wikipedia’s "Enterprise 2.0" article, but I’ll use this focal point and the other information in the case for a much broader classroom discussion.  Using this case, I’ll talk with students about:

  • Why Nupedia (Wikipedia’s more formal predecessor) failed to gather momentum, and why Wikipedia has gathered so much.
  • Whether Wikipedia’s highly egalitarian and freeform editing processes and policies yield good results and, if so, how this happens.
  • How decision rights are allocated in Wikipedia.
  • The merits of the Inclusionist and Deletionist perspectives.
  • Whether Wikipedia really has become a "post-revolutionary Bolshevik Soviet, with an inscrutable central power structure wielding control over a legion of workers."
  • Whether the Wikipedia community practices the ‘right’ level of deference to the opinions and judgments of subject matter ‘experts.’
  • If Wikipedia’s policies are being correctly followed, what the fate of the "Enterprise 2.0" article should be.

Please feel free to leave a comment here (the online case itself has no comment capability) or, if you’d prefer a more private channel, email me with your feedback about this case.  Karim and I would like to hear what you think about it, and about the issues it raises.

We’d also like to thank HBS’s Senior Multimedia Producer Melissa Dailey for being an outstanding colleague and collaborator on this project.  This case would have looked very amateurish without her.