Human factors/ergonomics research paper on leadership in Wikipedia wins 2013 Human Factors Prize

September 27th, 2013
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society congratulates Haiyi Zhu, Robert Kraut, and Aniket Kittur on receiving the 2013 Human Factors Prize for their article, "Effectiveness of Shared Leadership in Online Communities." The authors will be awarded the $10,000 cash prize and publication of their paper in the Society's flagship journal, Human Factors. Zhu will present her work at a special session on Wednesday, October 2, at the upcoming HFES International Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

The topic of this year's competition is human factors/ergonomics research on the effective and satisfying use of social media. The winning paper provides a practical guide for effective leadership in an online community, such as Wikipedia. The authors conducted a study on the commenting and editing behaviors of Wikipedia users by investigating four distinct types of leadership behaviors, the legitimacy of the leaders, and the experience of the people receiving the leadership.

The Human Factors Prize Board of Referees found that the paper stands out for the large scale of its analysis and use of machine-learning coding. The authors programmed a computer code to analyze and sort the leadership styles of more than 4 million messages sent among editors of Wikipedia pages. As one referee said, "The methodology is superb for a large-scale quantitative study given the inherent limitations."

"The winning paper highlights the timelessness of HF/E principles and the various ways researchers can test established theories in new communities, such as social media," said Nancy J. Cooke, chair of the Board of Referees.

The submissions were judged on criteria that included importance of the implications for social media, originality of the research, contribution to the HF/E knowledge base, and soundness of the methodology.

"We are extremely honored to receive this award," said Zhu. "Social media has become integral to how we live, work and play, and we hope our work and this award may encourage other researchers to further examine the human factors involved in making these social media systems more effective and successful."

Haiyi Zhu is a PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, social computing, and large-scale data analysis to understand the social patterns in online communities. She received a BA in computer science at Tsinghua University in 2009 and a master in human computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012.

Robert Kraut is the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He has broad interests in the design and social impact of computing and has conducted empirical research on online communities, the social impact of the Internet, and the design of information technology for small-group intellectual work. He received his PhD in social psychology from Yale University, has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, and was a research scientist and manager at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Bell Communications Research.

Aniket Kittur is an assistant professor and holds the Cooper-Siegel Chair in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His research on crowd-augmented cognition looks at how people can augment the human intellect using crowds and computation. He received a BA in psychology and computer science at Princeton and a PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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