Perceptions of information products such as Wikipedia can depend on assumptions and stereotypes about the people who create them. As new Wikipedians consider contributing they are likely to apply such assumptions and ask themselves: “Are Wikipedia contributors my kind of people? Is this a group I’d like to belong to?” In this qualitative study I address the potential challenge of these questions by exploring readers and infrequent editors’ perceptions of Wikipedia contributors and their motivations. Through analysis of twenty semi-structured interviews, I find evidence of strong negative perceptions as well as positive ones which nonetheless prevent users from identifying with active Wikipedia contributors. I argue that these perceptions present a barrier to the progression of participation over time. I conclude by discussing the practical challenges of my findings for Wikipedia and other online collaborative systems.
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