Proposal:Make Wikimedia projects scale

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


A sub-proposal of Make Wikimedia scale. We should identify the purpose of our projects and how to make them successful.


For each project, we should to identify more clearly its purpose, and specifically:

  • how it's different from offline references and what is or should be its added value;
  • how it's different from similar websites and what is or should be its added value.

Then, we should compare the different language editions of that project, identify which are successful in reaching the purpose (see effectiveness) and spread the best practices.

There are many proposals for specific projects, but they should be inserted in a wider strategy for each project. The project-specific sub-proposals are tentative examples of implementation of this proposal/guideline.



Wikipedia: 96 % of total requests

See the chart: few of our users visit projects other than Wikipedia. And for Wikipedia, the English language Wikipedia has 50 % of the total traffic. This means that for Wikipedia we have lots of smaller languages which need improvement (see also Reach out by active promotion of content in wiki-weak large languages and Category:Proposals for language issues), and that sister projects are underdeveloped or underused, and need to be reassessed or better promoted.

Major Wikipedias experienced an exponential growth until 2007, then growth has decreased. But most projects have never experienced such an exponential growth, and have had a small, constant, fluctuating or even decreasing number of editors, then they never grew up.

This is probably related to MetcalfesLaw: «MetcalfesLaw has an effect on the WikiLifeCycle -- at some point explosive growth occurs as the value of the network exceeds the cost of participating». So, many projects never experienced explosive growth because the cost of the participation of editors never exceeded the value of the created content works[1]. Such insufficient value may be one of the explanations of the smaller number of page views.

Moreover, empirical experience suggests that a critical mass is needed to attract new contributors and make the project self-sustainable. Such a critical mass can be reached through automated or semiautomated addition of articles, although this is not a sufficient condition. For example, old users of it.wikipedia suggest that after all 8,000 Italian town articles were created many users were very amazed and happy to find an article on their own town, so they joined Wikipedia to edit it and then were heavily involved in the projects, which started an exponential growth.

Key Questions

  • How can we distinguish successful projects from unsuccessful ones?
  • How can we share best practices? Historically, the only true share of experience among projects seems to have been the migration of original en.wikipedia editors to found other projects with similar policies and values. The language barrier is great.
  • How can we implement solutions on all languages? Communities are independent, and often they don't have enough energy to go beyond all in a day’s work. What kind of empowerment is possible? Software/technical improvements from Wikimedia Foundation and various forms of partnerships/outreach by Wikimedia chapters?

Potential Costs

  • Analysis cost:
    • mainly done by the community (e.g. on this wiki),
    • hire someone to do a more specific analysis (a community building expert?).
  • Implementation cost: the cost of realizing chosen solutions.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Make Wikimedia projects scale.

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