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Distributed Knowledge: It's a Wiki-World

Distributed Knowledge: It's a Wiki-World

As part of a recent collaboration with KL Communications, examined the five different kinds of crowdsourcing using sentiment analysis. For a more in-depth description of sentiment analysis and what we discovered about the public’s opinion of crowdsourcing in general, check out the first article in this series, The Five Crowdsourcing Categories Ranked: Popularity in Social Media.

We’ve already covered Crowdfunding, Cloud Labor, and Crowd Creativity. This fifth report (in the six-article series) aims to determine how the world’s social media users discuss and feel about the 15 top Distributed Knowledge platforms.

Here’s how we defined Distributed Knowledge for the purposes of this study:

Development of knowledge assets or information resources from a distributed pool of contributors. Crowdsourcing is used to develop, aggregate, and share knowledge and information through open Q&A, user-generated knowledge systems, news, citizen journalism and forecasting.


Distributed Knowledge is the most discussed type of crowdsourcing, with the category’s top 15 platforms garnering nearly nine million social media mentions during the examined one-year timeframe. There’s a reason, after all, that the cocktail party definition of crowdsourcing is “Wikipedia, for everything.” Speaking of the community-authored encyclopedia, Wikipedia ranks highest in “absolute buzz” among Distributed Knowledge sites, racking up 2,216,124 total mentions. Social news aggregator Digg comes in a close second with 2,118,646 mentions, followed by social news site Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet,” which garnered 1,747,223 mentions. Discovery engine StumbleUpon and TomTom, a GPS navigation company that crowdsources map info, round out the top five with 1,247,871 and 476,283 mentions respectively.

On the following tier, which shows the next ten most buzzed about Distributed Knowledge platforms, SlideShare and Quora occupy the top spots, followed by Waze, Urban Dictionary, and LibriVox.


Absolute buzz, while obviously a key indicator of a site’s popularity, doesn’t account for growth or decline in mentions over time — that’s where "normalized buzz" comes in. Quora, the question-and-answer service, gained the most traction in the Distributed Knowledge category during the observed timeframe. After outlets like CNN, TechCrunch, Scobleizer and others posted articles about Quora in December, site sign-ups and usage — and, concurrently, social media mentions — exploded late that month, and continued trending upwards until peaking in mid-February.

When we remove Quora from the graph, we’re can see a significant increase in mentions of Reddit throughout the year, though the site lost some momentum as spring gave way to summer (presumably, some Redditors started going outside instead of huddling in their basements, trolling the interwebz). Social media users, turning their backs on TomTom, also mentioned Waze more as the year progressed.


So now we know what Distributed Knowledge platforms social media users are talking about, but how do they feel about them? Waze experienced the highest positive sentiment of the bunch: over 94% of comments analyzed about the mobile navigation application were positive in nature. Conversely, the negative nancies talking about Reddit regularly disparaged the site, with just over 35% of comments that referenced the platform carrying disapproving sentiment — perfectly aligned with the average sentiment split for all social media comments, according to Netbase.

Stay tuned for the final article in this sentiment analysis series — which will examine Open Innovation platforms — on Thursday, February 16.

KL Communications is a leader in building and managing proprietary insights communities for a wide range of industries. Their proprietary IC2 community platform incorporates social media, crowdsourcing, as well as traditional research methods, which are aimed at providing partners with the tools and insights to keep them a step ahead of the competition.

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