Discursive practices in Wikipedia politeness discourse

Svetlana Sheypak

Punctum, 1(1): 108-123, 2015
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2015.0008


This paper discusses discursive practices in multilingual Wikipedia pages such as Civility, Etiquette, Consensus, No Personal Attacks, and Dispute Resolution. These pages explain to contributors the rules of collaborative behavior in a Wiki-community. The paper attempts to answer a question raised by Lovink and Tkacz (2011): ‘How do different language communities relate to and differ from one another in multilingual projects?’ A discursive approach is adopted in order to analyze politeness strategies on the multilingual Wikipedia pages. The discursive politeness practices recommended in the English, French, and Russian Wikipedia pages are analyzed through the concept of Face Threatening Act (FTA). In view of the criticism directed at the traditional FTA concept, we redefine FTA as a unit of discursive strategies. Our findings point out the divergence in applying politeness strategies to English, French, and Russian pages. Two hypotheses are advanced to explain their divergence. The first concerns the role of cultural variation, while the second concerns the role of ideological transformations in the process of knowledge production on Wikipedia.

KEYWORDS: Wikipedia; discursive practices; Face Threatening Act (FTA); positive/negative politeness strategies
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