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Abstract

This article reports a cross-cultural analysis of four Wikipedias in different languages and demonstrates their roles as communities of practice (CoPs). Prior research on CoPs and on the Wikipedia community often lacks cross-cultural analysis. Despite the fact that over 75% of Wikipedia is written in languages other than English, research on Wikipedia primarily focuses on the English Wikipedia and tends to overlook Wikipedias in other languages. This article first argues that Wikipedia communities can be analyzed and understood as CoPs. Second, norms of behaviors are examined in four Wikipedia languages (English, Hebrew, Japanese, and Malay), and the similarities and differences across these four languages are reported. Specifically, typical behaviors on three types of discussion spaces (talk, user talk, and Wikipedia talk) are identified and examined across languages. Hofstede's dimensions of cultural diversity as well as the size of the community and the function of each discussion area provide lenses for understanding the similarities and differences. As such, this article expands the research on online CoPs through an examination of cultural variations across multiple CoPs and increases our understanding of Wikipedia communities in various languages.