March 2011 Update/ja

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こんにちは!

皆さまのおかげで、ウィキメディアはこの十年間、めざましい成果をあげてきました。皆さまのお力に感謝いたします。

私はスー・ガードナーと申します。60人からなるサンフランシスコの非営利組織、ウィキメディア財団を運営しています。私たちはウィキメディアプロジェクト群のために、サーバーを買ったり、訴訟に対応したりしています。また、皆さまの仕事を支える技術的・社会的手段を作ることを助けています。この手紙の目的は、私たちが立案した計画についてお知らせするとともに、最近の編集コミュニティの傾向を示すデータを共有することです。

まず背景事項をご説明しましょう。想像できるほぼすべての尺度において、ウィキメディアプロジェクト群は繁栄しています。読者層は増え続け、ウィキメディアプロジェクト群は今、ひと月に4億人に届けられています。記事の数、記事の質も上昇しています。寄付する人の数は毎年前年より増えています。プロジェクト群にある素材は自由に伝搬していっています。たとえば携帯電話やタブレット、電子リーダーでも利用できるようになり、無数のウェブサイトに複製され、多数の異なるやり方で利用されています。以上すべては良いニュースです。

ですが私の仕事の一部は問題の方に目を向けていくことです。そして数か月前、ウィキメディア財団は、このコミュニティ群の内部力学をよりよく理解するために調査研究を依頼しました。その結果が Editor Trends Study (Results),[1] です。この調査研究では五つの大きなウィキペディア言語版が調べられました。対象になったのは、英語版、ドイツ語版、ロシア語版、フランス語版、日本語版です。

この調査の結果が、細部が完全に明確になってはおらず、やや粗っぽいことにお気づきでしょうか。これはミスではありません。私たちは知見を早い時点で公開し、これまでに得られた結果の解釈と理解を皆さんに助けていただき、この結果についてどう反応すべきかをコミュニティの方々と対話したいと思っているのです。この調査を実施するためのソフトウェアもオープンソースとしていますので、手法をみていただいたり、データを異なる視点からみていただいたり、他のプロジェクトや言語版を調査していただいたりすることもできます。

Editor Trends Studyから読み取れると考えていることは次の通りです。2005年から2007年のあいだに、新人参加者はウィキメディアコミュニティにうまく入っていくことがなかなかできなくなりました。2005年までの英語版ウィキペディアでは、40%の新規編集者が最初の編集から1年後まで活動を続けていました。2007年以降では、12から15%の新規編集者だけが最初の編集から1年後まで活動を続けていました。2007年以後にも、たくさんの人がウィキペディア編集者になろうとしていました。変わったのは、そうした人々がウィキペディアコミュニティの一部になれないことが多くなり、またそれが速く起こるようになったということです。ウィキメディアは、入り込むのが難しいコミュニティになりました。

こうした一般的なパターンは、他の言語版の調査でもあらわれています。

下記のグラフは英語版ウィキペディアでのそうした状況を明確にあらわすものです。これは、活動をしている編集者の数(青)に対して、その月に参加しはじめ一年後にも活動を続けている編集者の割合(赤)をあらわしています[2]。注目すべきことに、この傾向は、50回の編集を終えた新規利用者だけに限定してみても変わりません。つまり、お試し書き込みや荒らしが増えたせいではないということです。

参加1年後の新規ウィキペディアンの定着率(10回以上編集をしたかどうか) 対 vs. 活動的なウィキペディアン(1ヶ月に5回以上の編集):英語版ウィキペディア

この新しい調査は、私たちのコミュニティがおそらくこうした傾向の直接の結果として、高齢化していることを明らかにしています。編集者の年齢が高くなっているということではありません。活動期間の長さのことです。編集者全体に対して初心者が占める割合は以前より小さくなり、初心者の絶対数も減っています。これはすべての人にとって問題です。熟練編集者が増え続ける仕事を担わなければならず、ビューロクラットや管理者に加わる人がどんどん少なくなっていくからです。いままでにも熟練編集者はこのことを見てとっていましたが、今回はじめてそうした発言を支持するデータが出ました。

Based on this and other research (links below), here’s what we think is happening: As successful communities get really big, they naturally suffer growing pains. New people flood in, creating an Eternal September effect, in which the existing community struggles to integrate the newbies while at the same time striving to preserve the ability to do its work. It does that by developing self-repair and defense mechanisms – which in our case, turned out to be things like bot- and script-supported reverts, deletions, user warnings, and complex policies. All those mechanisms are obviously helpful – after all, they were developed for a reason, in response to real problems. And they do their job: they do successfully help experienced editors preserve and maintain quality. But they’ve also made it harder and harder for new people to join us, which in turn seems to have made experienced editors' work harder as well. People tell me that editing back in 2001 or 2003 or 2005 was more rewarding —and more fun!— than it is today. I believe that some of that is ordinary nostalgia. But I think some of it is true.

I believe we need to make editing fun again for everybody: both new editors and experienced editors. Some of you will question whether we can do that without compromising quality. My personal opinion is that that’s a false choice, and a trap. Quality and openness go hand in hand: if that weren't true, Wikipedia wouldn't —it couldn’t!— exist. Wikipedia is the largest and best and most-used informational resource ever compiled in human history. Openness works.

So. Where quality assurance mechanisms hurt good-faith newbies, the answer to that is better quality assurance mechanisms, which will support quality while doing less unintended damage. Bringing in more new contributors will lighten the work load, and make the whole endeavor more pleasurable, for everyone. I also believe that we need to turn up the volume on activities that help acculturate new users and that make everyone feel appreciated and welcome.

Here are some questions we’re thinking about:

Should new editors be encouraged to share more about themselves on their userpages, so that good-faith people can be identified more easily and given support and encouragement? Should we build more automated mechanisms for editors to express appreciation for each other? Should we build automated tools for connecting new editors with experienced mentors? Do we need better tutorials? Should there be improved semi-public draft spaces, like on the Russian Wikipedia, to give new articles a chance to incubate rather than being deleted? What else should we do?

This is important work. It’ll succeed if you —the heart and soul of the projects, the people who are most active and most knowledgeable— work together, with the Wikimedia Foundation and with each other, to make it happen. The Wikimedia Foundation wants your ideas, your expertise and your support. And we hope you’ll be talking with each other too. This is about starting a new chapter in our history, opening our communities up further, while ensuring we create an ever higher quality resource for the world.

The Year Ahead

In February, we released the Wikimedia Foundation’s strategic plan, which sets our long-term priorities. Based on the strategic plan, we’ve completed a comprehensive analysis of our product priorities, the “Product Whitepaper.”

The editor trends data informs where we’re focusing our attention in the year ahead. Overall, our top priorities are focused on growing the community -- creating an environment that’s diverse and welcoming to everyone who wants to help. Some of these are projects that will increase the inflow and diversity of new editors, but we need to simultaneously increase retention. Here’s where we’re putting most of our energy this year:

  1. Create a visual editor: We’re creating a new editing environment for Wikimedia projects that’s simpler to use and doesn’t require users to learn any special wiki syntax. This work is just beginning, and new Lead Architect, Brion Vibber, will play a key role in helping get our software platform ready for this big change. This is a long range project – it’s a massive change, but we have to start now, to nurture a more open and diverse community together.
  2. Improve the newbie experience: We’re running a series of community and engineering experiments to improve the experience of new good-faith contributors. This will range from tools for expressing appreciation to community experiments around mentoring (learning from experiences like the German Wikipedia mentoring program and the Russian article incubator) to thinking about how to improve the interface for new users. Our goal is to do lots of parallel weekly experiments, and to continually feed lessons learned back into our product development process and to the community. We’ll create lots of pages where you can help with this, but feel free to comment directly on the discussion page here.
  3. Support community growth in developing countries: We believe lots of future growth in our projects will come from places like India, Brazil, the Middle East and Africa -- and we want to be there now, helping communities to grow around Wikimedia’s free knowledge mission. We’re helping to catalyze the communities, through both online and in-person activities. We’re also helping to remove technical barriers around text input and display in many languages. The India Programs Meta page, India mailing list, Brazil Catalyst Project Meta page and Brazil mailing lists are where much action is being discussed and coordinated right now. WMF has also expanded our grantmaking programs in support of global community and chapter initiatives.
  4. Serve audiences on all devices: Whether you use a smartphone, a low-end feature phone, a tablet, or you want access when offline, you should get the best possible experience. That’s essential for reaching billions of new readers, and for enabling people to edit who will never touch a PC. We’re just configuring this work now, but you can read more about our mobile strategy.
  5. Create a delightful experience for contributing and reviewing multimedia: Images, sounds and videos make our projects richer and better, and they are areas where we’re seeing strong growth in contributors, quality and quantity. They can also be lightweight entry opportunities: on-ramps for deeper involvement. We’ve started this work with the multimedia usability project (see report), but we’re not done yet. To avoid creating tension between quality and inflow, we’ll take a two-pronged approach that also builds out new review/moderation tools which are designed to be both socially aware and highly effective.

We’re continuing to invest in other areas, including improved discussion systems, quality review and labeling tools, and content packaging for offline use. There are also some important general site infrastructure improvements we’re working on. But the above five are our priority projects that we’re pushing with maximum effort this calendar year.

We’ll be partnering with Wikimedia’s world-wide chapter organizations in doing this work, and ultimately our success depends on partnering with you, as well.

Please get involved: look at the data and research, join our active projects, help us make our technology and our processes better. Be bold and do the unexpected - everyone is a leader.

Thanks for reading - we look forward to hearing more from you.

Sue Gardner
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Notes

  1. Editor Trends Study は、Erik Moeller の指導のもと、 Diederik van Liere と Howie Fung によって行われ、2011年3月11日に終了しました。
  2. See the study for more detailed breakdowns of cohorts of individual editors over time, and for data from other languages.

Further Reading

Diederik van Liere, Howie Fung. Editor Trends Study. March 2011.

Bongwon Suh, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, Peter Pirolli. The Singularity is Not Near: Slowing Growth of Wikipedia. In Proc. of WikiSym 2009. October 2009. Florida, USA

In November 2009, User:WereSpielChequers ran the Wikipedia:Newbie treatment at Criteria for speedy deletion study on the English Wikipedia, in which experienced Wikipedians posed as newbies to experience the CSD process through new people’s eyes. The experiment itself was controversial, with one critic saying “I don’t believe anyone is seriously denying there is a problem with the way newbies are treated.”

In December 2009, Mark Graham, a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, published an analysis of the English Wikipedia’s geotagged coverage that found coverage of Africa and China to be extremely weak. Graham concluded that “it is clear we are far from running out of topics to write about.”

The Former Contributors Survey, published in February 2010, found that about half of 1,200 lapsed editors said they stopped editing due to personal reasons. About a quarter said they stopped contributing because of issues with the community, including interactions with other editors they found stubborn or biased or bullying.

Shiju Alex has created a statistical report on the Indian language Wikipedias, covering 2010. In it, he observes that article creation in many Indian language Wikipedias has slowed, and “more language wiki communities have started focusing on the quality than the quantity.”

In February 2011, Sue Gardner published a blog post that collected together comments from women talking about their experiences editing Wikipedia, culled from dozens of online discussions that sprouted up in the wake of the New York Times gender gap story.

Wikimedia fellow Lennart Guldbrandsson and Head of Public Outreach Frank Schulenburg have launched the Account Creation Improvement Project aiming at increasing the number of people who create a user account and actually start editing.

User:Kaldari has made a script called Wikilove – with the goal of encouraging WikiLove within Wikipedia, by making it easy to add awards and gifts to people’s talk pages. You should install it! Use it! :-)