User Contribution in the Era of the Internet
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The World Wide Web allows various possibilities for users to contribute to dictionaries and encyclopaedias. This ranges from giving feedback or correcting errors to creating new articles and discussing language- or subject-related issues beyond the explicitly encoded knowledge. The ease of communication and collaboration between publishers and users has enormous potential, not only for keeping a reference work up to date and at a high level of quality, but also for developing improved, user-adapted views of and access to the contents of a dictionary or encyclopaedia. In this chapter, we introduce user participation as a new field of metalexicographic research, bringing together, as a first step, multiple isolated previous works using a common framework. To this end, we systematically study the different types of user participation backed up by multiple practical examples found in existing online reference works: 1) 1) Direct user participation refers to articles written or edited by users in a collaborative or bottom-up lexicographic process. We distinguish contributions to moderated and unmoderated collaborative works, and we put a special emphasis on the impact of the different types of users in the expert–layperson continuum and on quality assurance measures. 2) 2) Indirect user participation includes user feedback without the possibility to directly modify the lexicographic articles. We discriminate between explicit and implicit feedback. Explicit feedback refers to suggestions, wishes, and corrections submitted by the users by letter, e-mail, or web form. Implicit feedback is provided by the users without any additional effort (e.g., in webserver log files). 3) 3) Accessory user participation goes beyond the actual lexicographic content by initiating an exchange either between the publishers and their users or among the users themselves. The former includes blogs and newsletters or expert language services, and the latter refers to forums and user discussions about the reference work as well as article votes. We conclude the chapter by discussing strengths and drawbacks of different types of user participation. We argue that user participation research is an emerging field of lexicography in order to properly benefit from and provide better products for users.