NBER Working Papers by Feng Zhu

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Working Papers

October 2016Ideological Segregation among Online Collaborators: Evidence from Wikipedians
with Shane Greenstein, Yuan Gu: w22744
Do online communities segregate into separate conversations when contributing to contestable knowledge involving controversial, subjective, and unverifiable topics? We analyze the contributors of biased and slanted content in Wikipedia articles about U.S. politics, and focus on two research questions: (1) Do contributors display tendencies to contribute to sites with similar or opposing biases and slants? (2) Do contributors learn from experience with extreme or neutral content, and does that experience change the slant and bias of their contributions over time? The findings show enormous heterogeneity in contributors and their contributions, and, importantly, an overall trend towards less segregated conversations. A higher percentage of contributors have a tendency to edit articles with t...
June 2012Collective Intelligence and Neutral Point of View: The Case of Wikipedia
with Shane Greenstein: w18167
We examine whether collective intelligence helps achieve a neutral point of view using data from a decade of Wikipedia's articles on US politics. Our null hypothesis builds on Linus' Law, often expressed as "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." Our findings are consistent with a narrow interpretation of Linus' Law, namely, a greater number of contributors to an article makes an article more neutral. No evidence supports a broad interpretation of Linus' Law. Moreover, several empirical facts suggest the law does not shape many articles. The majority of articles receive little attention, and most articles change only mildly from their initial slant.
March 2005What is the Impact of Software Patent Shifts?: Evidence from Lotus v. Borland
with Josh Lerner: w11168
Economists have debated the extent to which strengthening patent protection spurs or detracts from technological innovation. In this paper, we examine the reduction of software copyright protection in the Lotus v. Borland decision. If patent and copyright protections are substitutes, then weakening of one form of protection should be associated with an increasing reliance on the other. We find that the firms affected by the diminution of copyright protection disproportionately accelerated their patenting in subsequent years. But little evidence can be found for harmful effects: in fact, the increased reliance on patents is correlated with some positive outcomes for firms.

Published: Lerner, Josh and Feng Zhu. "What is the impact of software patent shifts? Evidence from Lotus v. Borland." International Journal of Industrial Organization 25, 3 (June 2007): 511-529. citation courtesy of

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