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Keywords:

  • community;
  • democracy;
  • Internet;
  • oligarchy;
  • organization;
  • Wikipedia

This study examines whether the Iron Law of Oligarchy exists in Wikipedia by analyzing how a key policy of the website regarding verifiability evolved into its current form. The study describes the decision-making processes of Wikipedia and shows that there are many factors preventing or slowing the development of oligarchy on Wikipedia. The study provides data advancing theoretical concepts related to the Iron Law of Oligarchy and the evolution of virtual communities and organizations; results and knowledge gained can also improve Wikipedia policies related to verifiability. Michels wrote: “who says organization, says oligarchy.” I argue that we should follow this with a caveat: “who says wiki-organization, says no to oligarchy.”