Summary:Talk:Task force/Wikipedia Quality/Findings, conclusions and recommendations by Piotrus (as of 26 Nov)

From Strategic Planning
Starting point

Piotrus summed up some rough agreed points on quality editor departure and negative reinforcement (discouragement) and his early conclusions and recommendations:

  1. Internal wiki processes with regards to improving content quality (eg assessment/FA/GA) are functioning well are not in need of any serious reform.
  2. Number of editors correlates with article quality, and quality is threatened by a decline in editorship. In his view this is "the biggest danger to the project's quality and very survival is this decline, and recommendations should focus on stopping and reversing it".
  3. We should endorse solutions to increase editor uptake and decrease editor burnout or discouragement
  4. We should gather more information to survey departed editors, software to facilitate easy project-wide surveys in future, issue a call for academic studies on the observed decline in users; and encourage a peer-review outlet on Wikipedia research.
  5. People "edit Wikipedia because it if fun and otherwise personally rewarding"; negative discouragement must be strongly countered and limited (better than at present) to allow quality to be established.
  6. Many editors leave after attacks; those attacking tend to remain. It is rare that civility is properly enforced.

Specific recommendations:

  1. "we need to be more active with dealing with personal attacks and other civility violations. Telling editors to grow thicker skin is resulting in them leaving the project... [The] "Personal attacks noticeboard" needs to be recreated, and admins must be coached to treat personal attacks and other civ[ility] violations as seriously as 3RR".
  2. Editors who edit non-anonymously should be as well protected as BLP subjects. (Even one unfounded or exaggerated accusation against them under their real name could be a concern in some cases)
  3. More surgical remedies are needed than simple bans. Blocking users for a few substandard edits, when in fact their overall pattern is a concern, is common but sub-optimal. "[S]olutions like article / topic bans and probations, 1RR restrictions, civility restrictions, talk page bans, and such should be used more often. That said, an important qualification to their use is whether the editor sanctioned [sincerely recognizes] s/he did something wrong..."
  4. Harsher remedies may be a factor in sudden departures; more mentoring and a lot more focus on positive enforcement (recognition, awards, mediation, counselling, etc) would help.
  5. "It is very rare for [enwiki] ArbCom to recognize that editors who were in some ways disruptive are also constructive. Often, FoF/remedies will treat an editor who did few errors harshly, ignoring his good contributions and issuing a generalizing findings that he was disruptive, damaging his wikicareer, and ignoring his attempts to reform. I think it is imperative that ArbCom reevaluates its approach to editors and in particular, tries to be more constructive than destructive, in line with our policy that sanctions should be preventative, not punitive."
General discussion

FT2 agreed with "the sentiments" but was concerned that suggestions at this level would be very limited in terms of ability to change culture, and would quickly become "yesterdays news" -- "I like the ideas you have, but for my money we need to focus on what would make the most significant change[s] to progress quality, that once set up achieves the most, with littlest communal 'pushing'... anything that relies on telling a large number of users "do this instead" ("this" = some ongoing behavior change) is doomed to failure -- it'll be old news in a week, 99% won't hear in the first place, culture won't be changed by it, new users won't hear it"

Piotrus affirmed that "the biggest problem facing us is the erosion to due to hostility/incivility/crude sanctions, and our recommendations need to be very clear on the need to decrease negative reinforcement and increase positive ones" and that the suggestions were intended to guide specific (mainly positive reinforcement and support based) solutions.

FT2 was concerned that merely "saying nice things" and "too narrow proposals" would not help much for a user on the way out, and suggestions directed at Arbcom would not be of much impact either -- he felt we should focus on the community and identify recommendations with a permanent and pervasive effect that does not rely on a general statement "telling people what to do".

Piotrus was concerned that this focused on getting new editors but ignored the need to prevent erosion of established editors.

Bhneihouse wanted to see a bigger picture and felt this was too detailed at this point in time. Piotrus suggested the more general suggestions should be retained with a view to ways to make them practical; which was generally agreed.