Wikipedia: A New Community of Practice? Is a 2009 book by British historian Dan O’Sullivan. The book takes an academic approach to Wikipedia, applying the ideas of theorists like Jürgen Habermas , Michael Warner , and Roland Barthes . [1]


O’Sullivan begins with an overview of group theory, and explored Several groups he Sees to be Juventa to Wikipedia: the Library of Alexandria , the British Royal Society , the French Republic of Letters (one focusing Denis Diderot and the Encyclopedia ), the Oxford English Dictionary , and the Left Book Club , a mid-century British communist publishing collective. For each group, O’Sullivan discusses the group’s aims; Its community and make-up; Its costs of doing business (transaction costs); Its relations with the public; And its legacy.

The second part of the book. Chapter 10, on the structure of Wikipedia, explains the use of ” talk pages ” and featured articles . Chapter 13, “Wikipedia and the Nature of Knowledge,” explores the question of expertise. In this chapter O’Sullivan claims a fundamental disagreement between Wikipedia’s two founders, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger . While Wales, an admirer of the economist Friedrich Hayek , believed in the wisdom of crowds and that Wikipedia would eventually converge to ideal pages, Sanger believed in the necessity of experts to ensure quality content. O ‘

The third and final part of the book explains how to use Wikipedia. O’Sullivan includes chapters on browsing and editing, and his longest chapter provides a 10-point schema to assess the value of Wikipedia articles. He uses the article on the Great Fire of London as an example, and a significant portion of the chapter reproduces earlier versions of it.


The book was reviewed academic journals in the Libraries and the Academy [2] and Library Review , [3] as well as in Wikipedia’s community-written newspaper The Signpost . [4]




Part I: Groups in History

1. Group Theory

2. The Library of Alexandria

3. The Royal Society

4. The Republic of Letters

5. The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

6. The Left Book Club

Part II: Wikipedia

7. Social Sites

8. Wikipedia: Aims

9. Wikipedia: the Community

10. Wikipedia: Structure

11. Wikipedia: Transaction Costs

12. Wikipedia and the Public

13. Wikipedia and the Nature of Knowledge

Part III Using Wikipedia

14. Browsing Wikipedia

15. Assessing Wikipedia

16. Contributing to Wikipedia

See also

  • Bibliography of Wikipedia


  1. Jump up^ O’Sullivan, Dan (2009). Wikipedia: A New Community of Practice? . Farnham, Surrey : Ashgate . ISBN  9780754674337 . OCLC  320696473 .
  2. Jump up^ Nicholas G. Tomaiulo, review ofWikipedia: A New Community of Practice? Libraries and the Academy10.2 (April 2010), 249-250.
  3. Jump up^ Charles Oppenheim, “Wikipedia: A New Community of Practice”,Library Review60.7 (2011), pp.624-5
  4. Jump up^ Wikipedia: Wikipedia Signpost / 2010-05-10 / Book review

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