Preserving the margins: Supporting creativity and resistance on digital participatory platforms

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gabriel Mugar


Proceedings of the ACM: Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 1, Issue CSCW (2017)


Online participatory platforms like Wikipedia and Zooniverse are designed to welcome contributions from anyone, however, to contend with a high volume of contributions, a range of constraints are deployed that align opportunities for participation toward ends defined by the experts and leaders of such platforms. In this paper I draw on extensive ethnographic work to describe how users encounter and negotiate opportunities for participation on two participatory platforms, demonstrating how platforms can exhibit distinct spaces and opportunities for participation, in some cases heavily enforcing standards of practice defined by experts and leaders while also leaving room for emergent and even divergent and deviant behavior. In describing this tension between conditions of normative and deviant participation, I highlight the importance of supporting opportunities for deviant and emergent participation to occur, emphasizing that design which uniquely supports narrow modes of participation can prevent opportunities for more inclusionary practice and evolving objectives

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