Task force/Recommendations/Community health 6

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Outline: demarcate and strengthen volunteer roles

Question/Problem

Editors of all experience levels risk burnout due to hostility and conflict. Hostility is increasing.

Strategy

Make it easier to recognize editors who have a reputation of helping the project, and make it easier to recognize new volunteers in need of help.

Implementation

  1. Create a "senior editor" role for volunteers who have a record of good judgment, reasonableness, understanding of policy, and constructive behavior.
    • Clearly demarcate "senior editors" in their usernames/signatures
    • To become a "senior editor", one must demonstrate constructive behavior and understanding of policy by writing X number of featured articles
    • To become a "senior editor", one must demonstrate good judgment and reasonableness by resolving Y incidents at various noticeboards
    • A community discussion is not needed to confirm a senior editor, unless they have been previously been sanctioned, or they believe that they qualify with equivalent experience
    • Consider giving certain administrative/bureaucratic privileges to senior editors, to make such privileges open to a wider set of volunteers
  2. Protect new users by demarcating them, and help them find assistance from experienced editors (such as mentors, administrators, and "senior editors")
    • Demarcate new users in their usernames/signatures, so there is no excuse for "accidentally" biting a newbie
    • Strengthen mentorship roles with clearer behavioral criteria and responsibilities
    • Demarcate mentors and administrators in their usernames/signatures, so that new users can recognize helpful volunteers

Assertion: The community is experiencing increased conflict, which is causing volunteers to leave

Sub assertion: There is increasing conflict in the community

Fact: Editors across different projects have independently suggested that Wikipedia is growing more hostile

Fact: Experts broadly agree that the community is becoming more hostile

Fact: Activity at dispute resolution pages (on the English Wikipedia) has been rising over the past few years

Fact: Activity surrounding administrator incidents (on the English Wikipedia) has been rising over the past few years

Sub assertion: Volunteers are leaving

Fact: Active administrators have fallen in activity over the past two years.

Fact: Core editors on the most active projects are more likely to leave entirely, rather than scaling back their edits

Fact: Wikipedians are most likely to leave within 15 days of registration.

Assertion: Community roles should be strengthened, while striving to maintain openness

Sub assertion: Roles can have stronger recognition without stronger authority

Fact: Administrators do not have any additional power in maintaining or writing content

Fact: Administrators represent a position of trust in the community

Fact: Editors decline administrator privileges to focus on editorial roles

Fact: Wikimedia informally recognizes a variety of other roles

Sub assertion: Wikimedia is committed to openness, but gives special status to users where practical and necessary

Fact: Wikimedia projects are not bureaucracies, democracies, or anarchies

Fact: Wikimedia recognizes bureaucratic roles with strict requirements

Fact: Wikimedia recognizes administrative roles with strict requirements

Sub assertion: When volunteers recognize each others' reputations, collaboration improves

Fact: In principle, volunteers naturally build reputations, making their contributions less likely to be reverted

Fact: Data shows that experienced users are less likely to have their contributions reverted

Fact: Without past experience, there is no obvious way to judge another volunteer's reputation

Fact: Mistrust makes consensus-building and collaboration more difficult

Assertion: In addition to administrative roles, Wikimedia should formally recognize mentors and "senior editors"

Sub assertion: Writing a featured article demonstrates an understanding of content and collaboration, and is difficult to "game"

Fact: A study of utterances at featured articles shows that discussion is more likely to be collaborative

Fact: Editors must work to ensure that a featured article complies with core policies such as verifiability and neutral point of view

Fact: An article can only reach featured status if there is a consensus for that status

Fact: There is already a link between the reputation of an author and their contributions to featured articles (on the German Wikipedia)

Sub assertion: many reputable editors are not being formally recognized for their contributions

Fact: Reputation, respect, and feedback are motivating factors for participating in large collaborative projects

Fact: The vast majority of the authors who write featured articles have not been given administrator status

Fact: Many volunteers decline administrator status to focus on editing

Fact: Some projects, such as Wikinews, already offer a special "editor" status that is granted (and removed) by consensus

Sub assertion: encouraging editors to write featured articles will benefit community health (and incidentally contribute to quality)

Fact: authors who revised FAs and participated in talk pages were less likely to leave the project

Fact: Wikimedia projects are striving for greater amounts of featured content

Sub assertion: New users would benefit if experienced "senior editors" were clearly demarcated

Fact: New users cannot tell "at a glance" if an editor that they have never met should be listened to or argued with

Fact: New users may mistakenly conclude a volunteer's words or actions represent "the community", even when that volunteer does not have consensus authority

Fact: New volunteers would be more likely to contribute if they were less afraid of getting in trouble for mistakes

Assertion: New users and helpful volunteers need to be able to recognize each other

Sub assertion: there is a powerful cultural norm on Wikipedia that can be navigated with experience

Fact: Volunteers who make more contributions are less likely to have their contributions reverted

Fact: Experts suggest that newcomers have difficulty overcoming the initial learning curve to become active contributors

Sub assertion: New users would benefit if they could distinguish average editors from administrators, mentors, and "senior editors"

Fact: New users cannot tell "at a glance" if an editor that they have never met should be listened to or argued with

Fact: New users may mistakenly conclude a volunteer's words or actions represent "the community", even when that volunteer does not have consensus authority

Fact: New volunteers would be more likely to contribute if they were less afraid of getting in trouble for mistakes

Sub assertion: New users are sometimes treated roughly, partially because it is not obvious to others that they are new

Fact: Newcomers need to be treated differently from experienced editors

Fact: Volunteers are most likely to leave the project in their first 15 days

Fact: To some extent, volunteers would contribute more if the community were more welcoming

Fact: It is not clear who is a new user from pages such as "recent changes"