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Submissions/Benevolent dictator, monarch, spokesperson - the evolution of Jimbo's role in the community

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
Benevolent dictator, monarch, spokesperson - the evolution of Jimbo's role in the community and the power structure of Wikipedia
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Dariusz Jemielniak
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Kozminski University
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

In a historical analysis based on qualitative, netnographic, participative study of Wikipedia community, I would like to analyze the transition of role of Jimbo from the "benevolent dictator", through constitutional monarch, to a face/spokesperson of the movement. I would like to point out the decisional points Jimbo met in managing his transition of roles (including the crucial one with resigning from active powers and the founder's flag), and link the trajectory of his actions with the power structure of Wikipedia. I would like to make a point that Wikipedia relies neither on anarchy/adhocracy, nor on bureaucratic structures typical for formal organizations, but rather on a carefully sustained balance of both of them, unusual for non-virtual organizations and possible only to cleverly executed anti-hierarchical rules.

I would also like to show how Wikipedic power relations resemble action research ideals executed in the so-called "search conferences", and what are the lessons for organizational scholars that can be drawn from Wikipedia power relations.

By an analysis of Jimbo's leadership and partial stepping down, as well as by participative management, enacted through impersonal personas (but based on authority built within the community by these personas for themselves - earned without external credit or bias), I would like to show in what way is Wikipedic organizational and authority structure different from other open-source communities (which, in fact, quite often create skill-based hierarchies, in spite of their seeming disregard for formalities).

I would like to show the long-term impact of the current structure and power relations (including common ever-greening gripes, such as the cabal, RfAs as running the gauntlet, and others, universally shared across many Wikipedia projects) on Wikipedic organizational sustainability. By shedding light on Wikipedia's past, I intend to project its future development in terms of bureaucratization, editors' equality, and (anti)elitism. Even though the conclusions are important mainly for the community, the outcome of this analysis should also have a practical external link, since Wikipedic power relations changes influence the possibility to collaborate with external experts and determine their retention.

Track (Wikis and the Public Sector; GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums); WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education; Technology and Infrastructure)
WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk (if other then 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Depending on the scholarship
Slides or further information (optional)
I will have proper slides prepared.
Special request as to time of presentations (for example - can not present on Saturday)

Interested attendees

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  1. Pundit 17:15, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. odder (talk) 11:01, 6 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. --Poupou l'quourouce 20:37, 6 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. GJK at Wikimania 18:33, 14 February 2012 (UTC) ... absolutely would attend this one.[reply]
  5. Yes, definitely. CT Cooper 20:32, 14 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Resident Mario 00:08, 16 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. HstryQT (talk) 16:21, 8 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Haxpett (talk) 23:18, 10 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. DerHexer (talk) 23:54, 13 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Aegis Maelstrom (talk) 20:06, 14 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  11. the wub "?!"
  12. Psychology (talk) 23:10, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  13. --Lilaroja (talk) 02:35, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  14. mako 05:48, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Zellfaze (talk) 14:50, 19 March 2012 (UTC) Extremely interested in this presentation.[reply]
  16. MikeLynch (talk) 19:10, 21 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Graham87 (talk) 12:09, 31 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Beeblebrox (talk) 20:57, 23 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  19. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:00, 6 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  20. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 04:18, 7 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]