How is Wikipedia used by members of parliament?
How do members of the Riksdag use the Swedish language version of Wikipedia? How is the free encyclopedia understood by Sweden peopleelected? In the spring of 2013 Association Wikimedia Sweden decided to seek answers to these questions by allowing members to answer an online questionnaire. The survey included 15 questions: eleven are related to the Swedish Wikipedia, the residue are related background questions. The questionnaire were distributed to members 349 via email. It was, of course, each member is free to respond. The Association did not use any special enticement to increase the number of responses. However, members were reminded several times that the investigation was ongoing.
In Parliament sit 349 members during the mandate period 2010-2014 representing the eight political parties. Parliament is the supreme decision-making political community and for members duties include making laws, regulating taxation and deciding on the state budget. The mission requires beside good political touch, also opportunities for external environment monitoring. Though MPs are not left in the lurch without support functions, such as Investigation Service of Parliament och Library of Parliament. There is no shortage of internet-based encyclopedias and databases in parliament. Through the agency of the Library of Parliament, through the Parliamentary Intranet, the MPs gain access to a range of digital tools. From a Wikipedia perspective it is an important issue, how Wikipedia manages can cope in the competition. Therefoöre, this study aims to answer the following questions:
- To what degree do Members of Parliament use the Swedish language version of Wikipedia?
- To what degree do MPs use other online encyclopedias? We have chosen NE.SE and Britannica Online as two examples.
- To what degree do the MPs think that Wikipedia's content is reliable?
- To what degree do the MPs think that other members, in and outside his or her own party, are more or less supportive to Wikipedia's content than they are themselves?
- To what degree do MPs recommend or advise against others to use Wikipedia?
- What do the MPs think about the possibility to write and edit texts in Wikipedia?
- To what degree have MPs tried to edit texts on Wikipedia?
On Wikimedia Sweden, we believe we know that the research is the first we should do. We first focus on members' informationseeking's behaviour with a focal point on Wikipedia. Thematically this user-study is related to an earlier (2009) study, "Wikipedia - loved or hated? It was conducted on behalf of Region library Stockholm. At that time high school teachers answered a similar questionnaire.  If relevant, we have compared the outcome of the parliamentary investigation with the 2009 high school teachers' study.
Outcome and failure
The members could answer the questionnaire between April 7 and May 16 'Table 1' shows the high and low point in terms of number of submitted answers. Totally 96 MPs responded. 96 members equals to approximately 27.5 percent of the 349 elected representatives. The outcome was lower compared to expectations, namely at least one third of its members, 116 responds. The loss is 72.5 percent. We see several reasons. Factors to consider are the Members' limited time and their own priorities. You cannot exclude aspekts like indifference, nor survey fatigue: Wikimedia Sweden is far from unique in terms of suggesting activities for the elected representatives to take part in. Another reasons for failure may be that several members have been replaced during the mandate period. Some of the substitutes stated, that they were unable to answer the questions rightfully. A few members have declined to participate on the grounds that they are critical, either to Wikipedia as a project or to questionnaire, its design, or both.
Wikimedia Sweden considers it as an achievement to have attracted almost 100 Swedish parliament members to respond. We can argue that those who first answered, surely are those who are most interested in Wikipedia or appreciate Wikipedia the most. It is possible that the more positive are over-represented among respondents, while the skeptical or indifferent members avoid to respond. At the same time, we note that the amount of response forms a basis for fruitful discussions on how Wikipedia is used and understood in parliament. To all the MPS that we have had contact with, Wikimedia Sweden gives heartfelt thanks, for your participation and for your insightful comments.
Table 2 shows respondents divided by birth decades. More than two-thirds, 68 percent, of the respondents were either born in the 1950s or the 1960s. The result reflects the chamber age structure. Th average parliamentarian's age is 48-49 years. 
Women and men
Table 3 shows the percentage of male and female respondents. Behind 64 percent of the responses are Men. Men are slightly overrepresented in the survey compared to their share, 56 percent, in the chamber. Parliamentary women are similarly underrepresented in the survey: 36 percent of the responses came from female MPs while 44 percent in the chamber are women. In five cases, the respondents did not answer the question about gender.
Table 4 shows respondents' party affiliation. Compared to the balance of power in parliament, the Christian Democrats, the Green Party and the Left Party are over-represented in the survey, while the Social Democrats and the Sweden Democrats are under-represented. The participation from other parties reflects roughly their size in the chamber.
Table 5 illustrates representation from constituency affiliation. All circuits are represented in the survey, except Gotland and Blekinge. Some biases in terms of representativeness is worthy of commenting. Replies from big cities dominate the survey. The responses from representatives of Stockholm community and Stockholm County comprises of 26 percent of the survey. The two constituencies are over-represented when compare with the balance of power in parliament, where they make up 19 percent of the seats. Even Östergötland and Jönköping are overrepresented in the survey.
Questions about using of Wikipedia and other encyclopedias
Table 6 displays the answers on the question When was the last time you used the Swedish language version of Wikipedia? All 96 respondents answered the question. Of them, 60 percent reported having used the Swedish Wikipedia during the last week. 82 percent of respondents used the It sometime within the last month, while 4 percent said that they had never used it. Table 7 and 8 show that respondents in the same period had used the other requested Internet-based encyclopedias to a lesser degree. 26 percent reported that they had used Wikipedia's main Swedish competitor NE.SE sometime last month, while a third of respondents replied that they had never used NE.SE. A common explanation for the lower use of NE.SE compared with Wikipedia is that NE.SE is a subscription service while Wikipedia is freely available. However, in the Swedish parliament NE and Wikipedia are equally easy to access through the intra net. The teacher survey from 2009, reflected the same tendency. Then 66 percent of teachers had used the Swedish language version of Wikipedia at some point during the last 30 days, while 37 percent stated, that during the same period had used the National Encyclopedia Internet Edition.  The using of Britannica Online showed a low degree regardless if compared to NE or Wikipedia. 11 percent of respondents said that they had used this tool sometime during the last 12 months. 88 percent said they had never used this English-language option.
A common question is if Swedish Wikipedia is reliable. What MPs think about the contents reliability is shown in the Table 9. 80 percent thought that the contents of the Swedish Wikipedia at least is fairly reliable. 20 percent chose one of the lower options regarding reliability. This can be compared to the measurement in the 2009 teacher survey, where 67 percent of respondents thought Swedish Wikipedia's content at least was fairly reliable, while 22.9 percent chose one of the more Wikipedia sceptical options.  the proportion of MPs who either chose one of the options very reliable or Not reliable at all went up to 6 percent. In order to know how MPs understand their colleagues, within or outside their own party, if those I are more or less critical to Wikipedia than the MPs are themselves, we asked the questions: do you think that other MPs in your party find the content on the Swedish Wikipedia reliable? and How reliable do you think, that MPs from other parties believe that the content is on Swedish Wikipedia? (cf. Table 10 and 11). A major failure suggests that these questions were a bit unpopular, and the answers gave no support for claiming, that other members would be more or less critical than the requested MP. Here, the result differs significantly from the teacher survey, where a majority of secondary school teachers 2009 believed that their colleagues were more critical of Wikipedia than they were themselves. 
Recommend others or discourage Wikipedia
Tables 12 and 13 summarize the responses to questions on whether MPs recommend or advise against using Swedish Wikipedia. The proportion of MPs who advised colleagues against using Wikipedia is almost negligible: 3 percent. The question seems to be easy to answer, because there was no failure at all. One-third indicated that they at least once in the last year had recommended Wikipedia to another member of parliament. The answers to these two questions indicate that MPs engage in conversations about information seeking and that very few think Wikipedia as something you should warn others for.
Writing and editing
As shown in Table 14, 83 percent of the respondents were at least fairly positive about the posibility of writing and editing Wikipedia. It was a better grade compared to the result of the teacher survey, where it was a draw. Now a slight majority either declined to answer or were less positive or not positive at all. Perhaps there is among MPs a perception that crowdsourcing works. A majority of respondents had not yet worked on it. As shows in Table 15, two-thirds have not tried to edit or write on Swedish Wikipedia.
- Approximately one quarter of the members answered the Wikimedia Swedish survey.
- 82 percent of the members had used the Swedish Wikipedia sometime in the last 30 days.
- 26 percent of the members had used NE.SE some time in the last 30 days.
- 4 percent of the members had never used the Swedish Wikipedia.
- 33 percent of the members had never used NE.SE
- 88 percent of the members had never used Britannica Online.
- 80 percent of the members felt that the content on Swedish Wikipedia at least was pretty reliable.
- 33 percent of the members had ever recommended a fellow member to use Wikipedia. This suggests There is a debate in Parliament about which sources of information you can use.
- 83 percent of the members were at least fairly positive to the opportunity to write and edit on Wikipedia.
- 33 percent of the members had ever tried to write and edit on the Swedish language version of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia in chamber's debates
Attached to the user-study, here a brief report of to which extent Wikipedia so far has been mentioned in parliamentary debates. A search of the Parliamentary protocols  shows that Wikipedia was mentioned in the Chamber's debates 14 times between 1 January 2001 and 30 June 2013. It is not an astonnishingly high figure compared to other things and other media players, for instance:
- Aftonbladet, newspaper: 280 Mentions
- Usama Bin Laden: 55 mentions
- Financial Times: 55 mentions
- Janne Josefsson, high profiled journalist: 7 mentions
- Winnie the Pooh: 12 mentions
- National Encyclopedia: 19 mentions
- Nobel Peace Prize: 27 mentions
- Svenska Dagbladet, newspaper: 447 Mentions
- TV4, tv-channel: 33 mentions
- Veckans affärer, business magazine: 27 mentions
- Wikileaks: 12 mentions
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic, football player: 6 Mentions
How do MPs use Wikipedia in parliamentary debates? It seems it is mentioned for mainly two reasons: to give the speaker support for their own definitions, second as examples of a modernity which signals the arrival of a new era or both. Wikipedia was mentioned in the Chamber for the first time during the parliamentary year 2005/2006 by the People's Party member Anne-Marie Ekström . There was a debate about asylum seekers with apathetic children where Ekström reproduced some of the Wikipedia article infants.  The same thing happened on June 14, 2007, the Green Party MP Gunvor G Eriksson quoted from am article on wellfare support, in a speech about livelihood support.
|Sometimes I have to say that we live in the Google era. We get used to things moving fast, and information is available by pressing a button on Google or Wikipedia. This offers great opportunities, but it is also a depletion. Public service must maintain the good ideals about offers of programs with quality and excellence for the citizens, at the same time people adapting themselves to the new situation of diversify and tough competitions. 
In a debate in 2011 about the civil society the Centre Party's representative Per Lodenius explained  that he had used the free encyclopedia:
|I did like most people nowadays and turned to Wikipedia: "In Swedish the expression often includes organizations like associations, educational associations, colleges and all other entities that are not part of the authorities. "Then it's quite clear what the civil society is. 
The only thing that can possibly be compared to some warning words against Wikipedia, more or less seriously meant, came in 2010 from the Moderate Party MP Walburga Habsburg Douglas  in a debate on globalization.
In her speech, Habsburg Douglas compared the content in to encyclopedias.
|In The National Encyclopedia it states: Globalization means that countries, companies and people in the world are becoming increasingly interdependent. And Wikipedia, write more in detail: Globalization can be seen as a collective term that refers to the international development of politics, economy and culture that followed by an extended and less locally entrenched worldview. It means in political view power shift from the national level to the top and intergovermental bodies, but generally globalization aimed mostly at how national economies continuously are twisted together. 
Outside the chamber's debates, Wikipedia is mentioned in other parliamentary documents. In several cases, Wikipedia has been placed as the basis for claims in the reports and motions, for example, in the report Follow-up of the state's commitment to sustainable cities and in a party bill from the Green Party with the title A greener city is a nicer city. In the last example, a report on trafficand transportation needs, members referred to an article in the French version of Wikipedia as an evidence to some of the allegations.
- Vilken valkrets representerar du i riksdagen? Engl. Which constituency do you represent in the parliament?
- Wikipedia - älskat eller avskytt? (2009) Undersökning, Regionbibliotek Stockholm
- Enligt uppgifter från Riksdagens informationstjänst den 28 juni 2013.
- Wikipedia - älskat eller avskytt? (2009) s. 10 ff.
- Wikipedia - älskat eller avskytt? (2009) s. 10 ff.
- Wikipedia - älskat eller avskytt? (2009) s. 10 ff.
- Riksdagens webbplats. Protokoll. Read 8 July, 20013
- Valpejl.se Anne-Marie Ekström. Read 8 July 2013
- Riksdagens protokoll 2005/2006
- Gunvor G Eriksson. swedish language version of Wikipedia. read 8 July 2013
- Riksdagens protokoll 2006/2007
- Cecilia Wikström. Artikel på svenska språkversionen av Wikipedia
- Riksdagens protokoll 2007/2008
- Riksdagens protokoll 2007/2008
- Per Lodenius. Artikel på svenska språkversionen av Wikipedia
- Riksdagens protokoll 2011/2012
- Habsburg Douglas Walburga Habsburg Douglas. Artikel på svenska språkversionen av Wikipedia
- Riksdagens protokoll 2010/2011
- Motion 2010/2011:T502 En grönare stad är en trevligare stad