January 22, 2022

Conference Paper: “Privacy, Anonymity, and Perceived Risk in Open Collaboration: A Study of Tor Users and Wikipedians”

The following paper will be presented at CSCW 2017 (20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing) in Portland, Oregon, USA, February 25 – March 1, 2017.


Privacy, Anonymity, and Perceived Risk in Open Collaboration: A Study of Tor Users and Wikipedians


Andrea Forte
Drexel University

Nazanin Andalibi
Drexel University

Rachel Greenstadt
Drexel University


Co-Author Website (AndreaForte.net)


This qualitative study examines privacy practices and concerns among contributors to open collaboration projects.

We collected interview data from people who use the anonymity network Tor who also contribute to online projects and from Wikipedia editors who are concerned about their privacy to better understand how privacy concerns impact participation in open collaboration projects. We found that risks perceived by contributors to open collaboration projects include threats of surveillance, violence, harassment, opportunity loss, reputation loss, and fear for loved ones. We explain participants’ operational and technical strategies for mitigating these risks and how
these strategies affect their contributions. Finally, we discuss chilling effects associated with privacy loss, the need for open collaboration projects to go beyond attracting and educating participants to consider their privacy, and some of the social and technical approaches that could be explored to mitigate risk at a project or community level.

Direct to Full Text Article
16 pages; PDF.

UPDATE: Wikipedia Research Newsletter has posted comments about the paper.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.