See also my works in Google Scholar


  • Bot-based collective blocklists in Twitter: the counterpublic moderation of harassment in a networked public space.

    Geiger, R. Stuart and Lampinen, Airi. (2014). “Bot-based collective blocklists in Twitter: the counterpublic moderation of harassment in a networked public space.” Information, Communication, and Society 19(6).
    This article introduces and discusses bot-based collective blocklists (or blockbots) in Twitter, which have been developed by volunteers to combat harassment in the social networking site. Blockbots support the curation of a shared blocklist of accounts, where subscribers to a blockbot will not receive any notifications or messages from accounts on the blocklist. Blockbots support counterpublic communities, helping people moderate their own experiences of a site. This article provides an introduction and overview of blockbots and the issues that they raise about networked publics and platform governance, extending an intersecting literature on online harassment, platform governance, and the politics of algorithms.

    Also read this blog post summarizing this piece and project.

  • Old Against New, or a Coming of Age? Broadcasting in an Era of Electronic Media.

    Geiger, R. Stuart and Lampinen, Airi. (2014). “Old Against New, or a Coming of Age? Broadcasting in an Era of Electronic Media.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 58(3).

    “Broadcasting” is often cast as an outdated term—we are constantly told that we are in the midst of a digital/social media revolution that will make the unidirectional, mass communication model obsolete. In response, we argue that to consider the continued relevance of terms like “broadcasting” in an era of electronic media is to neither hastily disregard the legacy of these terms, nor cling to them too rigidly. In this special issue of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media written and edited by graduate students, we begin a new thread in the longstanding conversation about what it means for media to be “old” and “new.”

  • Defining, Designing, and Evaluating Civic Values in Human Computation and Collective Action Systems

    Matias, N. and Geiger, R.S. “Defining, Designing, and Evaluating Civic Values in Human Computation and Collective Action Systems.” In Proceedings of HCOMP 2014, Citizen-X Workshop

    Collective action is often described in terms of the relationships, learning, principled processes, and community capacities it fosters. Despite this, human computation and collective action systems are often designed and evaluated with system outputs in mind: the quality of answers, the number of votes, the accuracy of content created. In this proposal, we review literature on the design values of “citizen-x” systems, put forward a series of models for describing the civic values in “citizen-x”, and classify systems by those models.

  • Snuggle: Designing for efficient socialization and ideological critique

    Halfaker, Aaron., Geiger, R. Stuart., and Treveen, Loren. (2014). “Snuggle: Designing for Efficient Socialization and Ideological Critique.” In Proceedings of the 2014 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2014).

    We worked with a coalition of Wikipedians to design, develop, and deploy Snuggle, a new user interface that served two critical functions: making the work of newcomer socialization more effective, and bringing visibility to instances in which Wikipedians’ current practice of gatekeeping socialization breaks down. Snuggle supports positive socialization by helping mentors quickly find newcomers whose good-faith mistakes were reverted as damage. Snuggle also supports ideological critique and reflection by bringing visibility to the consequences of viewing newcomers through a lens of suspiciousness.

  • Bots, bespoke code, and the materiality of software platforms

    Geiger, R. Stuart. (2014). “Bots, Bespoke Code, and the Materiality of Software Platforms.” Information, Communication, and Society 17.

    This article introduces and discusses the role of bespoke code in Wikipedia, which is code that runs alongside a platform or system, rather than being integrated into server-side codebases by individuals with privileged access to the server. Instead of taking for granted the pre-existing stability of Wikipedia as a platform, bots and other bespoke code require that we examine not only the software code itself, but also the concrete, historically contingent material conditions under which this code is run.

  • The Next Generation of Scientists: Examining the Experiences of Graduate Students in Network-Level Social-Ecological Science

    Romolini, Michele., Sydne Record, Rebecca. Garvoille, Y. Marusenko, and R. Stuart Geiger. (2013) “The Next Generation of Scientists: Examining the Experiences of Graduate Students in Network-Level Science.”  In Ecology and Society 18(3).

    In the pursuit to confront pressing environmental issues such as climate change, many scientists, practitioners, policy makers, and institutions are promoting large-scale ‘network-level’ scientific research that integrates the social and ecological sciences. To understand how this scientific trend is unfolding among rising scientists, we examined how graduate students experienced one such emergent social-ecological research initiative within the large-scale, geographically distributed Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network.

  • When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?

    Geiger, R. Stuart and Halfaker, Aaron. (2013). “When the Levee Breaks: Without Bots, What Happens to Wikipedia’s Quality Control Processes?” In Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym 2013).

    In the first half of 2011, ClueBot NG – one of the most prolific counter-vandalism bots in the English-language Wikipedia – went down for four distinct periods, each period of downtime lasting from days to weeks. In this paper, we use these periods of breakdown as naturalistic experiments to study Wikipedia’s heterogeneous quality control network. Our analysis showed that the overall time-to-revert edits was almost doubled when this software agent was down. Yet while a significantly fewer proportion of edits made during the bot’s downtime were reverted, we found that those edits were later eventually reverted. This suggests that other agents in Wikipedia took over this quality control work, but performed it at a far slower rate.

  • Using Edit Sessions to Measure Participation in Wikipedia

    Geiger, R. Stuart and Halfaker, Aaron. (2013). “Using Edit Sessions to Measure Participation in Wikipedia.” In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2013).

    Many quantitative, log-based studies of participation and contribution in CSCW and CMC systems measure the activity of users in terms of output, based on metrics like posts to forums, edits to Wikipedia articles, or commits to code repositories. In this paper, we estimate the amount of time users have spent contributing. Through an analysis of Wikipedia log data, we identify a pattern of punctuated bursts in editors’ activity that we refer to as edit sessions. Based on these edit sessions, we build a metric that approximates the labor hours of editors in the encyclopedia. Using this metric, we first compare labor-based analyses with output-based analyses, finding that the activity of many editors can appear quite differently based on the kind of metric used.

  • Artifacts that Organize: Delegation in the Distributed Organization

    Ribes, David, Steve Jackson, R. Stuart Geiger, Matt C. Burton, and Tom Finholt (2013). “Artifacts that organize: Delegation in the distributed organization.” Information and Organization 23:1–14.

    Increasingly, organizations are deploying automated modes of technology-supported coordination that seek to replace rather than enhance human communication.  To study this phenomenon, we extend Bruno Latour’s concept of delegation  and apply it to thorny questions around the work of sustaining organization over space and time. As we show with two cases from the Open Science Grid, delegation is complex, fragile, and central to the nature of contemporary organizing. Specifically, we argue that delegation: 1) reconfigures the organization of work; 2) transforms how outcomes are accomplished; 3) redistributes responsibility for organizational decision-making; and 4) shifts the visibility and invisibility of both actors and their work.

  • The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community: How Wikipedia’s reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline

    Halfaker, Aaron., R. Stuart Geiger, Jonathan Morgan, and John Riedl. (2013). “The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia’s reaction to sudden popularity is killing it.” American Behavioral Scientist 57(5).

    This paper presents evidence that several changes that the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have lead to a more restrictive environment for newcomers. Specifically, the restrictiveness of the encyclopedia’s primary quality control mechanism and the algorithmic tools used to reject contributions is implicated as a cause of decreased newcomer retention. Also, the community’s formal mechanisms for norm articulation is shown to have calcified against changes — especially for newcomers.

  • Defense Mechanism or Socialization Tactic? Improving Wikipedia’s Notifications to Rejected Contributors

    Geiger, R. Stuart, Aaron Halfaker, Maryana Pinchuk, and Steven Walling (2012). “Defense Mechanism or Socialization Tactic?  Improving Wikipedia’s Notifications to Rejected Contributors.” In Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM 2012).

    In this paper, we first illustrate and describe the various defense mechanisms at work in Wikipedia, which we hypothesize are inhibiting newcomer retention. Next, we present results from an experiment aimed at increasing both the quantity and quality of editors by altering various elements of these defense mechanisms, specifically pre-scripted warnings and notifications that are sent to new editors upon reverting or rejecting contributions. Using regression models of new user activity, we show which tactics work best for different populations of users based on their motivations when joining Wikipedia.

  • “Writing up rather than writing down”: Becoming Wikipedia Literate

    Ford, Heather and R. Stuart Geiger. (2012). “”Writing up rather than writing down”: Becoming Wikipedia Literate.” In Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym 2012). New York: ACM Digital Library.

    We introduce and advocate a multi-faceted theory of literacy to investigate the knowledges and organizational forms are required to improve participation in Wikipedia’s communities. We outline what Richard Darville refers to as the “background knowledges” required to be an empowered, literate member and apply this to the Wikipedia community. Using a series of examples drawn from interviews with new editors and qualitative studies of controversies in Wikipedia, we identify and outline several different literacy asymmetries.

  • Black-boxing the user: internet protocol over xylophone players (IPoXP)

    Geiger, R. Stuart, Yoon J. Jeong, and Emily Manders (2012). “Black-Boxing the User: Internet Protocol over Xylophone Players.” In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (alt.CHI 2012). New York: ACM Digital Library.

    We introduce IP over Xylophone Players (IPoXP), a novel Internet protocol between two computers using xylophone-based Arduino interfaces. In our implementation, human operators are situated within the lowest layer of the network, transmitting data between computers by striking designated keys. We discuss how IPoXP inverts the traditional mode of human-computer interaction, with a computer using the human as an interface to communicate with another computer.

  • Participation in Wikipedia’s Article Deletion Processes

    Geiger, R. Stuart and Heather Ford. (2011) “Participation in Wikipedia’s Deletion Processes.” In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym 2011). New York: ACM Digital Library.

    We find that Wikipedia’s deletion process is heavily frequented by a relatively small number of longstanding users. The vast majority of such deleted articles are not spam, vandalism, or “patent nonsense,” but rather articles which could be considered encyclopedic, but do not fit the project‟s standards.

  • The Lives of Bots

    Geiger, R. Stuart. (2011). “The Lives of Bots.” In G. Lovink and N. Tkacz (eds.) In Wikipedia: A Critical Point of View. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.

    I describe the complex social and technical environment in which bots exist in Wikipedia, emphasizing not only how bots produce order and enforce rules, but also how humans produce bots and negotiate rules around their operation.

  • Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices

    Geiger, R. Stuart and David Ribes (2011). “Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices.”  In Proceedings of the 44th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS).

    We detail the methodology of ‘trace ethnography’, which combines the richness of participant-observation with the wealth of data in logs so as to reconstruct patterns and practices of users in distributed sociotechnical systems