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From CommunityData

The Community Data Science Collective is an interdisciplinary research group made of up of faculty and students at the University of Washington Department of Communication, the Northwestern University Department of Communication Studies, the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, the Carleton College Computer Science Department, and the Purdue University School of Communication.

CDSC members at the CDSC group retreat in August 2020 (pandemic virtual edition). Left to right by row, starting at top: Charlie, Mako, Aaron, Carl, Floor, Gabrielle, Stef, Kaylea, Tiwalade, Nate, Sayamindu, Regina, Jeremy, Salt, and Sejal.

We are social scientists applying a range of quantitative and qualitative methods to the study of online communities. We seek to understand both how and why some attempts at collaborative production — like Wikipedia and Linux — build large volunteer communities and high quality work products.

Our research is particularly focused on how the design of communication and information technologies shape fundamental social outcomes with broad theoretical and practical implications — like an individual’s decision to join a community, contribute to a public good, or a group’s ability to make decisions democratically.

Our research is deeply interdisciplinary, most frequently consists of “big data” quantitative analyses, and lies at the intersection of communication, sociology, and human-computer interaction.


In addition to research, we teach classes and run workshops. Some of that work is coordinated on this wiki. A more detailed lists of workshops and teaching material on this wikis is on our Workshops and Classes page. In this page, we only list ongoing classes and workshops.

University of Washington Courses

Northwestern Courses

  • [Winter 2020] History and Theory of Information — We live in an information age, with computers of unprecedented power in our pockets. This course seeks to understand how information shapes our lives today, and how it has in the past. It does so via an interdisciplinary inquiry into four technological infrastructures of information and communication—print, wires, airwaves, and bits. Co-taught by Aaron Shaw and Daniel Immerwahr.

Public Data Science Workshops

Community Data Science Workshops — The Community Data Science Workshops (CDSW) are a series of workshops designed to introduce some of the basic tools of programming and analysis of data from online communities to absolute beginners. The CDSW have been held six times in Seattle between 2014 and 2020. So far, more than 100 people have volunteered their weekends to teach more than 500 people to program in Python, to build datasets from Web APIs, and to ask and answer questions using these data.

Research Resources

If you are a member of the collective, perhaps you're looking for CommunityData:Resources which includes details on email, TeX templates, documentation on our computing resources, etc.

Research News

Follow us as @comdatasci on Twitter and subscribe to the Community Data Science Collective blog.

Recent posts from the blog include:

Update on the COVID-19 Digital Observatory
A few months ago we announced the launch of a COVID-19 Digital Observatory in collaboration with Pushshift and with funding from Protocol Labs. As part of this effort over the last several months, we have aggregated and published public data from multiple online communities and platforms. We’ve also been hard at work adding a series …
— Community Data Science Collective 2020-09-04
Are Vandals Rational?
Although Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anybody can edit, not all edits are welcome. Wikipedia is subject to a constant deluge of vandalism. Random people on the Internet are constantly “blanking” Wikipedia articles by deleting their content, replacing the text of articles with random characters, inserting outlandish claims or insults, and so on. Although volunteer …
— kaylea 2020-08-14
Tor users: An untapped resource for Wikipedia?
Like everyone else, Internet users who protect their privacy by using the anonymous browsing software Tor are welcome to read Wikipedia. However, when Tor users try to contribute to the self-described “encyclopedia that anybody can edit,” they typically come face-to-face with a notice explaining that their participation is not welcome. Our new paper—led by Chau …
— Benjamin Mako Hill 2020-05-22
COVID-19 Digital Observatory awarded Open Innovation Grant from Protocol Labs Research
Last week, Protocol Labs Research announced their COVID-19 Open Innovation Grant recipients and we thrilled to announce that the Community Data Science Collective’s COVID-19 Digital Observatory is among the awarded projects! Protocol Labs works to improve internet technologies through open source protocols, systems, and tools. The organization initially grew out of efforts to apply blockchain …
— Aaron Shaw 2020-05-22

About This Wiki

This is open to the public and hackable by all but mostly contains information that will be useful to collective members, their collaborators, people enrolled in their projects, or people interested in building off of their work. If you're interested in making a change or creating content here, generally feel empowered to Be Bold. If things don't fit, somebody who watches this wiki will be in touch.

This is mostly a normal MediaWiki although there are a few things to know:

  • There's a CAPTCHA enabled. If you create an account and then contact any collective member with the username (on or off wiki), they can turn the CAPTCHA off for you.
  • Extension:Math is installed so you can write math here. Basically you just add math by putting TeX inside <math> tags like this: <math>\frac{\sigma}{\sqrt{n}}</math> and it will write .