Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 133–144 | Cite as

Transparency and social responsibility issues for Wikipedia

  • Adele SantanaEmail author
  • Donna J. Wood
Original Paper


Wikipedia is known as a free online encyclopedia. Wikipedia uses largely transparent writing and editing processes, which aim at providing the user with quality information through a democratic collaborative system. However, one aspect of these processes is not transparent—the identity of contributors, editors, and administrators. We argue that this particular lack of transparency jeopardizes the validity of the information being produced by Wikipedia. We analyze the social and ethical consequences of this lack of transparency in Wikipedia for all users, but especially students; we assess the corporate social performance issues involved, and we propose courses of action to compensate for the potential problems. We show that Wikipedia has the appearance, but not the reality, of responsible, transparent information production.


Corporate social responsibility Ethics Higher education Information Transparency Wikipedia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA
  2. 2.University of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA

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