Dr. Christian M. Meyer

User participation
in the Internet era

Abstract. The World Wide Web allows various possibilities for users to contribute to dictionaries. This ranges from giving feedback or correcting errors to creating new dictionary articles and discussing language-related issues beyond the explicitly encoded knowledge. The ease of communication and collaboration between dictionary makers and users has enormous potential, not only for keeping the dictionary up to date and at a high level of quality, but also for developing improved, user-adapted views of and access to the contents of a dictionary.

In this chapter, we systematically study the different types of user contribution backed up by multiple practical examples found in existing online dictionaries. We discuss three major types of user contribution:

1) Direct user contributions refer to dictionary articles written or edited by dictionary users in a collaborative or bottom-up lexicographic process. We distinguish contributions to moderated and unmoderated collaborative dictionaries, and we put a special emphasis on the impact of the different types of users in the expert-layperson-continuum and on quality assurance measures.

2) Indirect user contributions include user feedback without the possibility to directly modify the dictionary articles. We discriminate between explicit and implicit feedback. Explicit feedback refers to suggestions, wishes, and corrections submitted by the users in a letter, by e-mail, or using web forms. Implicit feedback is provided by the users without any additional effort (e.g., in webserver log files).

3) Accessory user contributions go beyond the dictionary content by initiating an exchange either between the dictionary makers and their users or among the users themselves. The former includes blogs and newsletters or expert language services, and the latter refers to forums and user discussions about the dictionary as well as article votes.

We con­clude the chapter by discussing strengths and drawbacks of different types of user contribution, and we stress the importance of properly planning possibilities for user contribution to and involvement in any online dictionary.

Submitted: 30.06.2016 | Published: 01.10.2017