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Coverage Bias on Wikipedia? Evidence from German Members of Parliament

On 7th  November 2016 (1-2pm) Anna Kerkhof, PhD Student at the University of Cologne, will give a presentation about “Coverage Bias on Wikipedia? Evidence from German Members of Parliament" in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mrs. Kerkhof will be available for questions and discussions. Her presentation is part of


We investigate whether Wikipedia has a coverage bias in its biographies of members of the current German Parliament (Bundestag). Biographies on MPs belonging to the Social Democrats (SPD) are, on average, shorter than articles on MPs from other parties. This correlation remains after controlling for individual characteristics and demographic properties of the electoral district. A Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition shows that at most 1/3 of the differences in coverage between the members of the SPD and comparable members of the Christian Democrats is explained by these observable factors. We discuss several potential explanations for these correlations. First, it could be that they are driven by unobserved heterogeneity between the politicians of the different parties, which might even lead neutral authors to allocate less space to SPD members. Second, the differences could be the due to partisan activities. We argue that partisan writers have no incentive to contribute to biographies of German MPs on the English language version of Wikipedia. To weigh up the plausibility of these two competing explanations, we compare the coverage of the politicians on the German Wikipedia with the English Wikipedia. Difference-in-differences estimation tends to support the role of higher partisan activity on behalf of the CDU/CSU.

The University for the Information Society