Talk:March 2011 Update

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Feedback from New Editors

I am a new editor myself, and to me, the logical way to go about solving this mystery is to ask us what the problem is. I wanted to create this discussion so that newer editors could post their comments, and get feedback from more experienced editors. This way, we can get all the feedback from new editors in one place instead of a couple dozen places.

20:15, 12 March 2011


I think this is an absolutely fantastic thing, and thank you for it. Welcome to Wikimedia! Would you be willing to share your initial experiences? What kept you around and what could have scared you away?

20:31, 12 March 2011

One thing I did was to create a Wikipedia article for a number which was redlinked in a chart. I was upset to find my article rejected, as I did not initially understand notability. It took me about twenty minutes of talking to others on the help chat room thingy (I forget what it's called) to figure out why redlinks don't need to have articles created for them. I thought that making stubs would be better than having redlinks, and felt very discouraged to be informed otherwise. The basic problem is we don't know where to start editing. It feels like every time you make a contribution, you worry someone will tell you how bad it is. There's no shallow end, and jumping in at the deep end is not very appealing.

20:50, 12 March 2011

I am sort of a new user. I created my account years ago, but have very seldom done any edits. Mostly because markup is just not for me. In the meantime, I've participated in a couple of discussion pages. On one of them an experienced user was downright hostile from the very start. As if I was being a naughty kid or I was disrupting the article on purpose. I hadn't done any changes, I was just suggesting it be done. As I see it I had a logic argument that would suffice anywhere in the world. What they told me (or what I interpreted I was being told) was that according to WP policies my argument meant nothing. I found that profoundly unfair and frustrating. Add to that the fact that this editor were completely uncivil and hostile from the start and it's miracle I'm still here. A second experience was slightly civil. Once again I posted a comment on a discussion page of an article suggesting a change. This time a very civil experienced editor showed me the ropes and give all kinds of information on WP policy to explain why this change was unfitting. I did my homework, followed all the links, read them, ask questions to other users and came back to argue my case just to be confronted with a veiled threat that I was rocking the boat for no good and it may have repercussions. As I've never been blocked before and I don't intend to be, I just gave up. From then, I drifted towards the conflict-solving pages in WP. I thought I might be part of the solution instead of the problem. To my surprise I found the editor from the first story I recounted (easily a couple of years after I first crossed paths with him or her) in a wikiquette alert. All administrators participating in the discussion wanted nothing to be done, as this was an experienced user and a new user should know better than upsetting an experienced user. That is my experience as a new user, and this is the reason why I don't really contribute to article writing, except for correcting a typo here and there. Also, the site is not user friendly and it's really hard to A)find a project where to participate and B)learn how to actually participate. Help pages and templates should be written in really easy English, not the opposite. Asinthior 14:19, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

14:19, 17 May 2011

I can understand that, Asinthior. I don't think that more experienced editors should have "Diplomatic Immunity", so to speak. On the other hand, more experienced editors should hold benefit of the doubt/innocent until proven guilty. This testimony is evidence for the necessity of the Assume Good Faith policy.

23:45, 31 May 2011

Couldn't agree more, as long as one keeps on sight the fact that experienced users shouldn't be given more "benefit of the doubt" than new users. I mean, even when an experienced user has a good track record, he can still lose his cool and be despotic once (although I would argue some make a habit of it, creating a pattern of abuse). If that were the case, he should at least be sanctioned as a new user would be, if not harder. After all, they are abusing their position and experienced to harass new comers. It's like they are committing a double fault: they are being uncivil or hostile and they are abusing their power (their relationship to other moderators, their experience with WP policies, their know-how in general) to do it.

16:18, 16 June 2011

I also showed up and edited a few pages. One, the page for the CETME Model C, got completely re-written to be about the company, rather than the rifle. Did the old (useful) information get moved to a sub-page? Nope. Just deleted.

Welcome to Wikipedia.

You can tell by my editing history since then how successful that welcome was. Did I make some newbie mistakes? Sure. Did anyone offer to help correct them? Nope. I'd like to go back and make the CETME page useful at some point, but where's the payoff? At the time it was pretty obvious to me that my contribution was not welcome.

Wikipedia's useful, but take a look at the Metafilter discussion page about this topic if you want to see some comments from other editors that have not been retained. I'd still like to help wikipedia succeed, but I think the fifteen or twenty minutes I spent putting this reply together is about all I'm willing to contribute at this point.

21:58, 13 March 2011

I had similar issues with communication. If you read a bit further, you'll see this post, which was the first I'd been made aware that this lack of communication was not the accepted norm.

02:14, 14 March 2011

yes i do....

12:22, 15 March 2011
Edited by 2 users.
Last edit: 21:13, 12 March 2011

I'll start. Bulleted lists (Alt+0149) are nice.

  • As a new editor, it takes a lot of courage to make any edit much bigger than fixing typos.
  • (One of my first mistakes was to create an article that did not meet the notability guidelines--I was confused by the fact that a redlinked article might not need to be made, and assumed a stub was better than nothing. Something this teaches me is that first timers will not always understand the existing rules (and they were definitely not offered up early on to me by anyone or anything) and will not understand why their articles/edits are rejected. I'm not sure that all of you veterans out there think of things like that. Sometimes you assume that everyone knows the "basics". So far, notability is the only guideline I know, and then only because I got a rejection and then looked it up. People don't want to read thirty thousand articles on seemingly common sense/irrelevant guidelines.

My Ideas for Improving the System (which I'll add to as the discussion progresses):

  • Channel our enthusiasm-tell us how we can help so we can do something useful instead of wasting time by making editors undo changes.
    • Ask us about our interests and recommend projects for us to join.
    • In these projects, designate leaders who will delegate small duties to newer users, as well as mentors to help them if they need assistance (You'd not believe what seemingly simple things I still don't have figured out. Indenting this required about a minute and a half of screwing around with the formatting bar.)
    • Show us how we can be useful. Personally, I feel that I have nothing valuable to contribute, because I feel as if I am blundering around causing problems and not fixing any. This is very discouraging, and I still (after several weeks) have made no contribution longer than three words, simply because I cannot find anything to contribute to, and don't have very hopeful prospects of doing so in the near future. This is actually probably the longest thing I have written.

•Another idea would be to add rollover explanations: "Takes you to the _______ page", "Inserts a section of _______ text", "[verb]s a(n) [adjective][noun]", etc.

20:38, 12 March 2011

The biggest annoyance for myself was the lack of a "quick reference" page. I can't easily know which parts of a page are meant to be bolded/italicized without learning from experience. The editing window is also overwhelming...most of my complex edits involved looking for articles that used the formatting I wanted (reference/citation styles, lists, etc) and then copying and modifying them. Technician Fry 20:43, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

20:43, 12 March 2011

I've had the exact same problem. It would be good if someone would tell us how to add a title, for pity's sake! I like that when you click the "I" for italic text, it gives you a prompt ''Italic text''. Perhaps wikimedia could add "Title" and "Sources" to this toolbar? It is very frustrating to flip back and forth from the wiki markup page to the article you're trying to work on.

20:55, 12 March 2011

On the editing toolbar, if you click "Advanced" and then look for the word "Heading", and then select from the dropdown menu, it will give you the various heading titles automatically formatted. :)

Another great reference is at (the top one includes a one-pager on wiki-markup.)


21:03, 12 March 2011

Thanks for the tip (although the PDF won't load-or maybe it just takes forever). What headings go where? Page titles, section titles, subsections, etc.?

21:20, 12 March 2011

en:WP:LAYOUT is one of the most useful instruction pages. It explains the standard layout of a Wikipedia article. Even as an experienced user I still refer to it.

06:05, 23 March 2011

Also see Thread:Talk:March 2011 Update/The first experience for new users to the English Wikipedia-the initial post mentions several articles I had to think about to figure out the meanings of, proving the man's point. I've never read any of those articles all the way through, and I've only really looked much at the notability article, and then to find out why I had an article rejected on those grounds. He is right about seeing your first thing deleted--often, you get no explanation other than "Rejected-see Wikipedia: Notability" or some such unhelpful little red box at the top. Another thing I've found really annoying is the fact that common sense/personal knowledge is not a source. I can understand that, but I also know that the last thing I want to do is to go find a source for something I already know (like the fact that numbers evenly divisible by two are multiples of two and thus integers). I am willing to learn how to source, but I've met no one willing to teach me how to source. For that matter, I haven't met anyone except briefly. This is the first time I've actually held a good conversation. The chat room thing is great, but it isn't as helpful as this is. Usually you have to try to follow 2-3 different discussions there, and determine who you're talking with and whether they're responding to you or one of half a dozen other people.

21:10, 12 March 2011

All - Just out of curiosity, I dropped by Bronsonboy's talk page. The only thing there was the bot-generated rejected article note. That's an appalling way to treat a new editor, and I am embarrased on behalf of the community that we can't do better than that.

Bronsonboy - Thanks very much for posting your experiences here, and sticking with us.

23:33, 12 March 2011

Thanks for pointing that out, PKM... you're absolutely right. I dropped a welcome template with a series of my favorite links on your talk page as well, Bronsonboy, and - like PKM - I thank you for sharing your experience.

23:36, 12 March 2011
Edited by 2 users.
Last edit: 04:56, 14 March 2011

Glad to share, guys. Thanks for the template, Philippe. Could a bot be made to place that template on all new editors' talk pages?

As to the bot-generated rejection notice, PKM's comment was the first time I heard anything that would indicate to me that that is not the accepted norm. Perhaps it would be possible to create some sort of notification to whoever generates notices like that telling them when it is a new editor, so they would know to offer a bit more explanation? -Bronsonboy

  • (replying here for brevity) The bot-welcome idea has been rejected months ago: not all new usernames are actually new users. Many people just forget their username or password, then create another username every few days, and avoid being stalked by troublemakers who try to "psych-profile" them. Hence, when a new user is spotted in making rough edits, someone might decide to welcome them. Unfortunately, like life in the big city, beware meeting charming strangers: a person might pretend to truly welcome you, with promises of cooperation, perhaps getting you to reveal some private thoughts, then flip-out as jekyll-hyde in a debate with you, broadcasting your private viewpoint in a twisted way to others to totally humiliate you and win not just the argument, but the laughter of others who see you as totally insulted. That is just one form of utterly demented sick power-games being played by mental cases on English Wikipedia. Unfortunately, it is a psycho magnet for bizarre people, like showing your new car to a group of "average people" and having one person jump on the hood to say what great shock-absorbers, or another person gulp a beer and vomit down the side, while someone else spits on the window and they say, "Sorry, man, the wind...". For that reason, many people have requested that Wikipedia change to a trusted-user environment, with growing levels of access, so that demented users would be stopped before they vomit in too many articles. Unfortunately, if new users are told that it is really a Sickopedia-Wackopedia, then they are likely to be scared away, so the ugly truth is avoided most of the time. The hope for the future is to transition to trusted-user access, where new usernames would be limited to editing rare articles, and users would need to show long-term evidence of a balanced mental state to be allowed higher access. -Wikid77 04:56, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
02:07, 14 March 2011

No, please. That would destroy the whole point of its being a wiki and would definitively pinch off growth to a trickle. And illustrates fairly neatly the jump from "Vandals are a problem" to biting newcomers.

In addition, Wikipedia really needs to decide whether it wants continuing growth in number of articles, coverage of topics impacted by systemic bias, and for that matter expansion of placeholder 1-line stubs on things nobody has got around to yet - or whether it's more important to emulate Britannica and say "Can't have everything, quality is more important" and thereby lose unknown quantities of stuff none of the existing power editors knows about. I find the latter boring - that's why I edit.

Also, you're agreeing with my point about there being significant multi-ID use; which significantly messes up the stats.

I wish there were more here - and in other discussions - about the "Do we want new articles" issue. There's a widespread belief, not only among "deletionists", that the easy/needed/important articles have been written. That is simply not so. There are a staggering number of redlinks in medieval and renaissance history. Several Olympic medallists have fallen to the scythe of the recent unreferenced BLP deletion pushes, and looking at the NewPages page, I see specialists creating vast numbers of articles on older sports figures and figures in non-Olympic sports, so I know there are still gaps in our sports coverage. I know there are redlinks for older seasons in certain leagues and circuits. Despite the predictable problem of PR people creating articles on businesses, I know we are spotty on businesses, too, especially those that went out of business or were bought up more than a decade or two ago - in general, recentism is a big problem, but there are any number of reference works and other sources that make remedying it in such areas as sport and business not very hard. In addition, I find foreign-language Wikipedias a tremendous source of ideas for articles, and that goes double for the non-English Wikipedias, which started later. But it also goes for en., where our coverage of German and French companies is shockingly bad. (And not only companies. en.wikipedia has only 2 articles on stations on the Vienna U-Bahn.) Then there are all the landmark buildings in every country, all the pre-20th-century literary works ... redlinks abound. Also, new notable people and topics are emerging all the time. Not just news events, but tv and movie stars, technology products, styles of music . . . it would be easier if the newspapers weren't so determined to prevent us from seeing them online and using them for refs, but it really isn't that hard to see that we have only scratched the surface of the mineface here.

The projects seem at times to only pay lip service to the "It's about content" mantra. And I repeat, "content" does include expanding those placeholder stubs. They're an embarrassment.

03:38, 15 March 2011

I have what may be the world's simplest solution to multiple accounts. Have everyone (optionally) register their e-mail for account recovery purposes. No one should need more than one account unless they are hiding something or causing trouble. To ensure that several accounts are not registered to the same person, track IPs for which accounts are registered to which address. Any IP address with more than three accounts registered to it could be red-flagged by a bot to be investigated by a senior member, who could then take appropriate actions or issue warnings. I know that Wikipedia already tracks IP for unregistered users, and registered users (if they have good intentions) should not mind it being recorded by a bot (which would keep these IPs secret unless it flags them, as above). I'm sure that such a system would also help to get rid of wackos, cranks, and hooligans, as such people often get banned and just make umpteen different accounts so they can continue to be offensive. For users forgetting their login, have them put in their email address and a couple of preset answers to questions selected at the time of account creation (or later, via a userpage option or something) ex. (your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your middle name, the color of your first car, etc.). They could then be sent the information in a bot-generated email. I've seen similar systems on many other websites.

00:32, 19 March 2011

I've been a new editor several times, in the sense that I start editing, maybe make an account since I've forgotten the last one, and quickly get disillusioned and leave. This has happened maybe 4 times over the last few years.

What usually happens is I'll see a place I could contribute something interesting too, or that clearly needs more information or accuracy, and I'll go from there. Invariably my first interaction with the Wikipedia community is with either a bot or a person telling me what they think I'm doing wrong. They're often polite, sometimes not, but they nearly always come across as supercilious and condescending. I (and other people I know) get a real "I'm better than you" vibe from a lot of experienced editors, even some who probably mean well.

For instance, the first thing someone told me on one of my talk pages was that my completely innocuous username might violate WP:Gibberish and WP:Huh?. Other times I've run into people on the talk pages citing WP:I'mRight, WP:GoAway, and WP:YouSuck in a ridiculously overdramatized 'discussion' over edits. The fact that the senior editors are much more familiar with these wikipedia policies means that they will always be able to justify their position in an 'edit war' -- whether or not they are misquoting the policy. (WP:NPOV and WP:OR, for instance, frequently become arbitrary slogans that each side in an argument is defining in a completely different way.) Ultra-possessiveness of pages and subjects, and over-aggressive arguing, citing, and mis-citing of policies drive many people away.

And of course the most irritating 'welcome' to Wikipedia - and probably the most common - is to have your edit reverted or your new article deleted. Notability is the most common reason, and the issue of 'notability' is usually decided by one or two senior editors who may or may not know anything about the subject in question. Another version of this is when an edit is flagged or outright deleted due to 'citation needed' when the information is indisputable to anyone who has the most basic knowledge of the subject. Rooting through a poor-quality book to find a line that says the equivalent of "Botanists study plants" or "Surfing is a water sport" should not be a prerequisite for editing.

Well, that's my feedback. I'm not sure how to change such an entrenched culture, or convince senior editors to stop viewing whole swathes of topics as 'theirs' (especially, good god!, when they have no idea what they're talking about). But it needs to happen before Wikipedia becomes a place for casual users to edit.

06:01, 14 March 2011

I am encouraged to see considerable use of "citation needed" tags and/or cleanup tags rather than outright deletion. I do understand references and I have found it to be quite difficult to do it properly on Wikipedia. Is there a 'fill in the blanks' form or something similar to guide the user (and make it much easier to get consistent syntax)? Notability will always be a thorny issue, and some of the rules are kind of arbitrary (even though necessary). I have experienced a deletion, but it was accompanied by a reason and a link to a relevant discussion that explained it further. That not only prevented me getting upset about the deletion, but also gave me a starting place for working out how to do better next time. The human touch is very good, but we can probably also improve bot notifications with a bit of thought.

07:11, 14 March 2011

There are citation templates, but my experience of them is they are more trouble than they're worth. It's almost impossible to find out how to refer to an article within an anthology, a book with multiple authors and a translator, to say which edition you are using, to figure out how to add the Google Books URL for the page ref . . . and the output looks bizarre unless you are used to Harvard-style refs. They are therefore not mandatory, but are there for those who like them, and I understand there's a way to get a link to them into your toolbar, but it involves downloading a widget. Personally I prefer acceptance of multiple citation styles, it keeps Wikipedia open to editors from different places and fields, but folks have produced systematised aids in this - and umpteen other areas. There are some really industrious and helpful people on Wikipedia. I wish the mindset was more that that's good.

03:50, 15 March 2011

I think it would be a great asset to give users sources. For instance, if Wikimedia could acquire a large amount of miscellaneous information, it could be ordered, structured, sorted, etc. by users to improve articles. Just like writing a research paper involves sifting through the whole library to produce a concise, detailed essay, so should writing an article have a supply of resources. These sources don't have to be orderly, just accurate.

In counterpoint, if we have the information, it's probably already in the encyclopedia...

Edit: Is Wikisource a credible source? Just curious.

00:37, 19 March 2011

(This is off topic but I am not going to let that stop me.)

I think it entirely depends on what source one obtains via WikiSource - but they have been chosen because someone thought they might be useful. For example, yesterday I made this edit. That's not a very good source, not because it's on de.wikisource or because it dates to 1889, or because it's in German, but because it's another encyclopedia. Secondary sources - for example, academic works on the history of the Cologne archdiocese or on the 15th-century politics of the German states - would be better. But since I started by translating the de.wikipedia article, my next step was to check its references (in this case sources) and use those I can get access to. Today and/or tomorrow I'll look for other works I can cite, with emphasis on non-encyclopedic books and articles. And that isn't a bad source - that particular encyclopedia (and the one I cited with the next 2 edits) are known to be good. As it happens the older one is available on wikisource, while the newer one is online in a pdf or something similar. That's not really the issue in using them - it's their nature as sources that matters.

I think Wikisource is laudable, and very useful for older stuff (for example, de.wikisource also has the text of all editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales, but handicapped by being restricted to sources free of copyright. GoogleBooks gives me access to far more and I don't think Wikipedia either can or should try to beat GoogleBooks at the digitization game. It would be a waste of effort, and with regards to helping editors, it would be analogous to those books that collect together articles on both sides of an issue to make it easier for students to research their first ever research essay. There's always more stuff in the rest of the library, let alone on the internet.

19:25, 21 March 2011

I think the Wikimedia Foundation has done some research into the subjective experience of new users. More would be helpful, I'm sure.

The best commercial enterprises spend a great deal of effort researching what customers think about them, particularly new customers. We should invest some of the proceeds of the fundraiser into doing the same.

16:33, 14 March 2011

New user response is the entire purpose of this discussion.

00:38, 19 March 2011

Diminishing retention rates

Nowhere in your study I see anything about a test to see whether or not the same kind of people (age, gender, social background, IQ, education, working environment, accessibility to scientific resources) are signing up for Wikimedia projects like wikipedia. If the userbase changes, then changing the editor or the accessibility across different platforms makes no sense. If you statistically correct for all the factors that might influence your results, you might find that the kind of people that primarily signed up before 2005 still have a high retention rate, while the new kind of people (hypothesized to be teenagers and adolescents) have a relatively low retention rate but contribute to the overall results due to the vast numbers. Redtails 13:05, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

13:05, 11 March 2011

One anecdote does not a study make - but I may just be a counterexample to your hypothesis. Being an internet oldtimer, I appreciate the anonymity, so won't give full vital statistics. But I am not a teenager. I started fixing grammatical and clarity issues, created an account so I could create pages - then only created two, both translations from other wikipedias. I entered the wikicup - then never bothered to contribute. Part of that was because life got busy around about that time - but mostly I've become disillusioned before ever going through the normal honeymoon period.

The policies look good as written - but only appear to apply to some people. Many admins are clearly exempt from most, if not all, of the civility policies. "I've never heard of it", "I don't like it" and "it's not mainstream American" are primary reasons for article deletion. "No sources in English is another popular reason for deletion.

I haven't personally been bitten by this kind of thing. But it has produced a chilling atmosphere.

More in another thread, if I have time. This isn't the right place to point out that elephant, since it will be less noticeable here than in its own thread.


18:05, 11 March 2011

There are quite a few problems with Wikipedia today that make it virtually unusable for new contributors. Many of those have been touched on here already, but a few have not, or not to the point I think they should be:

1) The notability guidelines are a ticking timebomb. The first issue is that they are listed as guidelines, but are treated as hard and fast rules by most of the admins/editors. The worst of it is that the admins don't even seem to want to follow the letter of the guidelines anyways! Often "I never heard of this" is the justification and there is no recourse for a new contributor to surmount this. I know that there has been considerable discussion surrounding new procedures for dealing with this, as WP is want to do, but I think that's wrong headed.

1a) Admins/editors first need to be re-educated on what the word "guideline" actually means. I believe that this is the first problem that creates a situation where new users end up bullied by self-righteous admins who don't like to have their word questioned.

1b) Notability is a dumb guideline for the most part anyways. It affects wikipedia very little to have long-tail articles of limited interest. Disk space is virtually unlimited these days. If all that's allows on wikipedia are articles about things that everybody already knows about, then there's no point to the entire project! The point of something like wikipedia is to aggregate and summarize information on things people don't know!

1c) Admin counter arguments to getting rid of the guideline are always absurd (e.g. "we don't need to be seeing articles about people's goldfish", there's other, dedicated wikis for that kind of thing). Let's get real here. That's not the problem. The problem is when little known, to perhaps the general public, but perfectly notable within specific cultures and sub-cultures are removed.

Telling people to go put their trivia on dedicated wikis is pointless and insulting.

The recent mass programming language deletion gaffaw is a fantastic example of this. The abuse and dismissal of new users by established admins in the resulting discussion thread was inexcusable.

I wasn't a super active contributer before then, mostly because navigating past admins was virtually impossible and more thankless than bothering to contribute. But that incident has sworn me off of contributing completely until this is resolved.

2) There is no reason in the world for article length to be constrained to encyclopedia length articles. Like 1b above, if it takes a great deal of information to aggregate and summarize effectively all of the major points on a topic, then that's what it takes. The admin/editors seem to think they are working on an actual print encyclopedia for some reason. Digital space is effectively unlimited. It echoes arguments about the application of Latin linguistic rules to English. It's non-sequitur and moronic.

Arguments against this are often similarly absurd to the above (e.g. "we don't want to just replicate the internet here"). Well that's not what's happening. Get over it.

3) New user participation requires such a high bar to navigate, the deluge of inside acronyms, rules, guidelines, procedures and practices makes it daunting and virtually impossible for most people to work within the system. Established admins and editor are likewise de facto immune from all of this and operate at their whim. New users can't be smacked with a rule and then observe admin/editors behave contrary to that same rule and expect a good outcome.

4) Deleting things should be hard -- very very hard. It's not. It's very very easy.

The reward mechanism for new users contributing is very simple. You see your words and contributions showing up in Wikipedia immediately and globally, you can call your friends and family up and point them to it. You get the sense of satisfaction of having made a meaningful contribution to the world. That's the feedback loop.

Seeing hours of writing or editing revert seconds or minutes after submitting them is a tremendous turnoff. Nobody wants to give up their free time for something that goes immediately in the trash.

All users should be forced to try and improve submissions long before any deletion can happen. Only outright vandalism should be grounds for fast deletion. The vast vast majority of deletions are because the deleters are too lazy to improve what they don't like (despite flags for non-neutral POV or notability or some other B.S.). Deletionists should be considered the same as vandals. In my experience most deletionists are habitual and sociopathic. They do it because they can't create, so they destroy what other people have spent their time on.

If a user were to log on and just null out the content from page after page, that's how we'd consider it. Why do we tolerate deletionism?

If you see something in a non-neutral POV? Edit it! Bad grammar? Fix it! Disorganized writing? Fix it! That used to be the norm on wikipedia prior to 2005. Today, anything and everything just gets deleted. There is no incentive to bother to contribute because some overzealous bureaucratic pinhead comes along and deletes what you've written.

Anybody who deletes too frequently or too many times needs to be reviewed. Again, the recent programming language debacle should offer a textbook case of people up and down the bureaucratic hierarchy destroying knowledge instead of contributing through fixing.

22:19, 11 March 2011

Hear, hear. And I didn't even know about a mass deletion of programming languages. People who think they are improving the quality of Wikipedia by getting swathes of articles deleted are not thinking in terms of the end user - the person who wants to look something up. All too often, discussions revolve around editors, not actual users. The whole point of an encyclopedia is to contain recondite information and the whole point of an online encyclopedia is to integrate it into the matrix of more familiar knowledge. Not to provide yet another way for people to massage their egos online.

I've reached the conclusion there are far too many admins. Hence the prevalent mindset that deletion doesn't matter because "it can always be undeleted". Which shows total unawareness of the fact the editors who could improve it can't even see it or what's wrong with it. Only admins can. Somewhere admins went from being janitors to being sysops and prefects, like everywhere else online, and it's contrary to and detrimental to the spirit of the project. But these days that's who they promote to admin, and it's next to impossible to de-sysop someone.

05:34, 12 March 2011

As a quite experienced editor, I absolutely agree with the IP. There is an increasing divide between the inclusionist feel of most WP readers and casual editors and the hardcore deletionist attitude of most regular editors around. And the new page patrollers are often too much trigger-happy with CSD and PROD. Heck, the very existence of PROD is insane: basically it's a mechanism of the kind "I put a timebomb here; if nobody notices, this will get deleted".

17:46, 12 March 2011

It's also useful to consider the view of outside journalists who write about Wikipedia's increasingly visible deletion problem. I don't recall ever reading anyone outside Wikipedia complaining about finding too many non-notable topics here. But I have read people complaining about information that vanishes. To a typical reader, Wikipedia's notability requirements would seem like pure nonsense if the reader became aware of them. The reader doesn't care about what anybody else considers "notable" - if the reader wants to read about topic X, it's notable to the reader.

If Wikipedia wants to continue with its campaign of suckering new users into creating content which then gets destroyed, Wikipedia should forfeit its tax exempt status. Is there any other charitable organization that destroys as much intellectual property as Wikipedia? Deleting people's good faith work is not "charitable" in any sense I can recognize. The public is not asking to be protected from running across the occasional obscure topic on Wikipedia. Neither are many of Wikipedia's monetary donors demanding a smaller Wikipedia.

To the I.P.: I concur with your equating vandals and deletionists. (We might call them "vandeletionists".) Actually vandals are far less of a problem, because we have an arsenal of tools to combat them. But we have no tools to combat deletionists. In keeping with the principle that "bad money drives out good", deletionists have an automatic advantage over inclusionists, because inclusionists have no way to put points on the board. The best possible outcome for the inclusionist is a temporary draw, since an article can be nominated for deletion an unlimited number of times. A deletionist only has to delete one article, one time to (potentially) drive an inclusionist away from Wikipedia in disgust, whereas there doesn't seem to be anything an inclusionist can do that drives a deletionist away from Wikipedia. The only defense against deletionists is to work very, very hard to defend each article against deletion. But this only increases the damage done when deletionists win. You don't want to gamble your time to improve an article unless you are confident you will win. It's like the second law of thermodynamics automatically favors the deletionist.

To level the contest, we must have some way to delete the deletionists. For example:

  • A cap on the total number of articles that can be deleted per year, and caps on the maximum number of deletion nominations from individual editors, to force deletionists to be selective.
  • Escalating blocks against editors who only contribute to article deletion. It should be necessary for an editor to substantially improve at least ten articles for every article the editor helps to destroy.
  • Some sort of penalty for proposing a deletion request that fails, and for voting in favor of deleting articles that are kept. Currently all the penalties are against constructive editors who must gamble their time hoping that their edits will stick. Inclusionism is expensive, deletionism is cheap. There is no penalty for making vexatious deletion requests. That's backwards. We're treating good-faith editors as if they are vandals.
  • A statute of limitations. Deletionists should have six months maximum from the time of article creation to propose deletion on grounds of notability, after which the article defaults to "keep". If an article did not bother anyone for six months by being insufficiently notable, then it is insufficiently bothersome to get rid of ever.
  • Proactive review of new articles to assure editors the articles will not be deleted later. Currently there is no easy way to know whether any given article will get zapped at any time in the future. Articles should be stamped "deletion proof" so editors can edit them with confidence.
  • Requiring deletionists to provide credible evidence that shows net harm to Wikipedia from keeping an article. Offending a deletionist's sense of tidiness or importance is not such evidence, rather anything that offends deletionists making them lose interest in destroying content provides net benefit to Wikipedia.
02:10, 13 March 2011
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 00:43, 13 March 2011

4) Deleting things should be hard -- very very hard. It's not. It's very very easy. Yes I definitely agree with this. I've been contributing one or another for about 5 years now and I still find certain guidelines arcane. The jargon is forbidding and I have little understanding of all the template thingummies. Ultimately an encyclopedia seeks to encompass all knowledge, including what might seem irrelevant or trivial to others. There is no doubt a worthy desire for Wikipedia not to be a 2nd Guiness Book of Records, but on the other hand Wikipedia is not constrained by physical limits, so there is very little cause to limit the number of articles. On the other article themselves should be created with the user in mind. A short introduction to the subject is desirable, but again there is no reason to limit the length of the disquisition. Augusta2 00:43, 13 March 2011 (UTC) 00:38, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

00:38, 13 March 2011

I find the chart confusing--plotting quantity against percentages is not easy to interpret.

What I see is normal growth over time. I would expect the absolute number of editors to rise, and the retention rate to decrease.

By it's nature, editing is a 'as I have time' thing, and it competes with other activities.

I'd like to know retention numbers, and how retention is measured--since it is possible for someone to be very active in bursts, which can leave gaps in participation of over 1 month.

Making a WYSIG editor will be useful--learning how to use the editing system has a moderate learning curve which undoubtedly prevents some participation.

The ratio appears to be asymptotic.

22:01, 11 March 2011

I don't think anyone is saying that the trends are particularly unnatural in the evolution in the project. It's just that we're seeing negative effects from these trends, whatever their origin, and that we think the Foundation and community at large can do things about it to reverse the trend and be more open again.

22:16, 11 March 2011

The red line in the chart represents percentage of 1-year retention. The red line should be as close to a straight horizontal line as possible. That would mean that overtime, the same percentage of people stay for a year or longer in WP. What you see in the chart is that over time stay at WP for a year or more.

The blue line is telling us how many active editors there are in WP, showing a sharp increase during the first half of the evaluated period and a slow decrease trend during the second period. While the total number of active editors in WP has increased over time, starting in 2007 this number has started to decline slowly. But most importantly, this line is here to give us context. It shows that while total number or active editors increased, the percentage of them staying for at least a year has decreased. That means that if we would draw a green line showing the total number of editors that leave WP, i.e. that become inactive editors, that line would be much, much higher than the blue one.

In other words, on March 2007, when WP had the highest number of active editors (around fifty-five thousand) and was keeping 15% of them for a year or longer, WP had lost eighty-five thousand editors. What this is telling us is that there is a core of fifteen thousand to ten thousand active editors that stay in WP, while all new comers leave after a year. In other words the destiny of WP is at the hands of 10% of the editors. The rest just leave.

To answer one of your specific questions:

  • As by the chart, I interpret 1-year retention as a user that stops making contributions after one year. So if he would contribute today, and then again in 2 years, he would not be in this category.

Asinthior 15:52, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

15:52, 17 May 2011

This is a great discussion with many excellent ideas. Perhaps the creator could create a summary. It seems to me that the strongest ideas here are about making the deletion process more difficult to initiate; and imposing some sort of penalty on deletions that fail; and marking editors who delete more than they create. I also like building a "deletion proof" form for readers to check if they find the article truly worthwhile.

13:52, 21 May 2011

Newbies or Better information?

I'd like to throw out a thought here: should we worry about the decline in new editors? If we compare Wikipedia's history to the evolution of a similar Internet-based project -- the Linux kernel -- both share an important trend: more barriers to newbies (resulting in fewer newbies), yet a growing improvement in perceived quality. In the Linux community, the improved quality is due to the creation of a community of contributors who are encouraged & rewarded for participating; the fall-off of new blood is not seen as a problem in that community.

So what should the Foundation's emphasis be on: attracting more new interactive members (or contributors), or on improving the quality of the materials it provides to passive members (or readers), who are far more numerous? -- Llywrch 07:54, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

07:54, 11 March 2011


Three points in response:

  • I think that the two are interrelated. Each newbie brings something new on the table, a breath of fresh air one can say. The newbie may spot the need for a particular article thats not there, and possibly start a future FA article - improving quantity.
  • They may also spot lacunae in current articles and correct that - so they improve quality. Further, we need to maintain a sizable editors community in order to maintain Wikipedia.
  • People are not going to stay forever, they will scale down or retire at some point, hence you need replacements - maintaining standards.

At WP:Mumbai (under WP:India) we are currently innovating ways to attract "new talented editors" if one may call it so (especially the fairer sex, as Sue pointed out in an interview last year that seems to be a rare species on Wikipedia). I guess this stands for most other parts of the world. AroundTheGlobe 08:43, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

08:43, 11 March 2011

One way to think about this question is to quantify (even if approximately) the amount of information a new user needs to know to become a net contributor to Wikipedia. For example, how much does an editor need to know about editing on Wikipedia to create a durable new start class or B class article, which is adequately referenced and wikified, so it does not generate much cleanup work for the limited pool of other experienced editors. (By "durable" I mean an article that resists deletion. And by "how much" I mean how many bytes of documentation an editor needs to read and master, and how many hours of study this would take for various cohorts of people with different educational backgrounds. Organizations such as the USDOD which have been training recruits to fill standardized positions for many years have worked out a pretty solid understanding of their training requirements. So should we.) If a new user is not willing to put in the time and effort necessary to attain this minimal level of competence, then the editor's development may stall at a level that Fred Brooks calls "negatively productive". By Brooks' definition, a "negatively productive employee" is one who generates at least one hour of cleanup work for someone else, for every hour he or she puts in. Brooks' recommendation for such employees is to try to place them with your competitors. I would imagine that only a tiny fraction of the general population would have any real interest in reading and understanding enough of Wikipedia's manuals to attain a minimal level of competence. Particularly since we rely on self-study, in contrast to the rest of the world which relies on classroom training to inculcate complex technical skills. A new user's incentive to make that effort probably evaporates as soon as their first article gets deleted. Thus we really need a way to steer new users away from editing tasks that are too difficult for them, such as new article creation.

09:05, 11 March 2011

But maybe new article creation is unnecessarily complex. What is an article really? Text and a few citation links, neutral point of view, encyclopedic style. If it were only a matter of reading one page, then going through a wizard, anyone with a highschool education should soon master the basics.

There is no place for elitism here. Of course, some editors have much more experience than others, and they certainly form the backbone of the operation. But let's remember, Wikipedia is a project for everyone. Many hands make light work!

11:11, 11 March 2011

And what is encyclopedic style? I ask this question because I have been looking for an answer to that question -- more specifically, what is an encyclopedia, beyond something along the lines of "a collection of essays in alphabetical order, usually printed in multiple volumes" -- & have yet to find a useful answer. I suspect that "encyclopedic style" is one of those things, like obscenity, which no one can define yet everyone thinks she/he knows it when they see it. Unfortunately, such a situation only leads to more disagreements than agreements. -- Llywrch 18:19, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

18:19, 11 March 2011

There is no need for absolute agreement for a group project to function. If we had waited for an absolute, all-encompassing definition of the word farm and a thorough and complete explication of the concept of farming before any group of people planted seeds, we would have all starved long ago and there would be no civilisation as we know it. I'm being facetious, of course, but my point is that Wikipedia guidelines are quite clear that newcomers and their efforts are to be heartily welcomed, and that substantial knowledge is not required at the outset.

That being said, it is clear to me that most new article problems could be avoided by presenting (mandating?) a short, concise tutorial with clear examples (correct/incorrect) at a person's first edit and first article creation. This, paired with a simple, well-thought-out new article creation wizard would certainly reduce deletions and lessen the long-term workload for more experienced editors.

Here is how it can seem to new editors now: "Here, before you do anything, memorise this two-hundred-page manual. Then, when you begin editing, your work may suddenly and inexplicably disappear at the whim of some seemingly anonymous, malign entity or your modest efforts may unleash a torrent of harsh criticism from said entity."

Many experienced editors desperately need to reread and take to heart some core Wikipedia policies, such as Wikipedia:Please_do_not_bite_the_newcomers

20:45, 11 March 2011
"Here, before you do anything, memorise this two-hundred-page manual. Then, when you begin editing, your work may suddenly and inexplicably disappear at the whim of some seemingly anonymous, malign entity or your modest efforts may unleash a torrent of harsh criticism from said entity."

Actually I would say our main problem is that we do not adequately warn new users about this before they start editing. What you describe is the reality of how Wikipedia is: if you want to edit productively here, you had better read a lot of manuals (and read them repeatedly, because many of the concepts take time to sink in). Over on the Help desk, a lot of baffled new users ask Why was my page deleted? - they ask because they had no idea that Wikipedia has a thriving deletion industry that feeds on newbies, until after they got suckered.

I think part of our problem is our misleading use of the word "Save". Most people have used productivity software on their computers, which has conditioned them to expect that when you save something, it stays the way you saved it, until you edit it again.

On Wikipedia, "Save" doesn't mean anything like that. There is no predictable outcome from saving. Instead you are spinning the roulette wheel. Or maybe spinning the chamber of the revolver pointed at your head.

It's hardly surprising that we are seeing a drop in new users. What do we think happens when we delete someone's article? They probably get angry, and tell all their friends about how they got suckered into wasting their time. Word starts getting around that editing on Wikipedia is not a fun thing to do.

We shouldn't pretend that just because we think we have all these righteous and pure reasons for deleting articles, we aren't doing incredible damage to the way people perceive us.

00:51, 12 March 2011

Heavenlyblue, the question of whether complexity is necessary or unnecessary is central to software development (and Wikipedia is an offshoot of software development). See Accidental complexity and Essential complexity. I suspect most of Wikipedia's complexity is not accidental, because Wikipedia's collaborative model is pretty good at trimming cruft we don't need. If a particular rule or procedure has outlived its usefulness, users are pretty good at ignoring it.

I think the biggest barrier to new article creation is not learning wikitext markup, nor most of the common things lumped into the idea of "usability". Usability is about making software better for helping the user reach his or her goal. The problem on Wikipedia is that many new users don't understand or entirely share Wikipedia's goal. Many if not most people look at Wikipedia and think, "Aha! I can use this to share what I care about." Wikipedia's welcoming user interface encourages this mistake. Instead, people need to understand Wikipedia probably does not care about someone's noble cause, a word they made up, their garage band, their procedural knowledge, what they consider useful, or most of what most people value. Wikipedia is a very specialized project, not even remotely an attempt to build "the sum of all human knowledge". Many people who try to edit on Wikipedia would be better off editing on one of the thousands of small wikis that cater to special interests rather than sneering at them as "not notable" as we often do on WP:AFD.

23:02, 11 March 2011

Llywrch, Yes, it is absolutely worthwhile to worry about a decline in new editors. I also believe that quality of content is directly related to openness, and true openness can only be achieved through low-threshold access, which wikipedia does not currently have (by nature it is only available through internet, which still does not reach the whole planet etc.).

Sue, thanks for this study and the analysis. I do find these numbers fascinating and the discussions that accompany them (especially the work on female editors). I am still not quite convinced however about the magnitude of the problem. Yes, women are under-represented, as are Danes, Africans, Australians, retirees, and many other large groups of individuals. It would be helpful to say, select 100 articles from the 1911 encyclopedia and 100 articles from subjects on the WWII era (or any other notable event post 1912 copyright), and 100 articles that have been created on issues from on some US-based modern newspaper top-stories list and analyze the metadata on those articles, including the added edits to those 3 groups of articles over time.

Llywrch, I think it is an interesting idea to be able to offer different materials to passive members or newbies! I am not sure why you would want this for readers though. A more informative pop-up message to ip-users who have been blocked informing them what a block is would be a good start. I remember working for a company (no names) who used an intranet wiki extensively for product development and who linked back regularly to the live Wikipedia for detail information on basic terms. Their ip was banned probably because casual users there could not discern the difference between the two (or perhaps vandalism by disgruntled employees, who knows?). The people who worked there were completely dumbfounded by the message they saw (this was a few years back though). Jane023 09:19, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

09:19, 11 March 2011

Jane023, why do you "believe that quality of content is directly related to openness"? Is this a faith claim, or an observation based on some kind of evidence? Does anything in the real world work that way? For example, if we open up all the prisons, and eliminate police and door locks, will crime disappear? In every example I can think of, the way to increase quality is by weeding out incompetence and malice. There has to be a selection process of some sort, which recognizes and promotes competence and good faith. You want the recruitment to be open, of course, so you start the selection from the largest possible candidate pool. Wikipedia's selection process revolves around its astounding complexity. To edit on Wikipedia, a person has to be comfortable working within the minefield of things like en:WP:CSD, which punishes (often unwitting) transgressors with almost sociopathic indifference.

Also, why do you believe Wikipedia must be edited by everyone to achieve high quality? Isn't it more likely that once the pool of editors reaches some critical size, further increases in size will yield diminishing further improvements? (In other words, how many people does it take to write an encyclopedia? Ten thousand? One million? No previous encyclopedia has had as many editors as we do, I think.) If various groups feel less like learning how to edit on Wikipedia, how is that a problem? If Wikipedia's editors consisted only of white men, or only black women, as long as there were enough of them, they would still be a broadly diverse group. And Wikipedia is not supposed to contain original research. All we do is refactor information previously published elsewhere - and all that requires is the ability to read and write, not a particular gender or nationality. If the available sources themselves have bias, we have to reflect that bias faithfully, or else we violate en:WP:SYN.

09:51, 11 March 2011

Since I love to generalize, I will just go ahead and generalize on my earlier comments by saying that nobody is as smart as all of us. As to your remarks on prisons, though I am not sure how relevant that is to "openness", whole countries have been founded by groups of unwanted "criminals" from other countries... Jane023 13:45, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

13:45, 11 March 2011

Prisons are full of people who don't like to follow instructions made up by other people. In some cases the instructions are unjust, and then they are prisoners of conscience who may be admired in the future. But the typical prisoner is a person who does not cooperate very well with other people, for example someone who disrespects the property rights or personal rights of others. People who frequently get in trouble with the law (in a state with just laws) tend to be impulsive and with an ability to rationalize taking what they want by force. They also tend to be disproportionately young and male, for what it's worth.

I have heard of some countries that gained part of their population from penal colonies. Either those prisoners were well managed by people with fewer criminal tendencies, or enough of them outgrew their criminal tendencies as they aged to form a stable society. When criminals take over everything you may end up with failed state like Somalia.

Openness is great but only when accompanied by good faith and empathy. We want Wikipedia to be as open as possible to everyone who genuinely shares Wikipedia's goals. Most people do not share Wikipedia's goals entirely, and they can only choose to conform to Wikipedia's goals in their editing activity here if they read and understand the detailed description of what Wikipedia wants.

One of Wikipedia's goals, then, is that every editor will read and understand enough of the manuals to understand what Wikipedia is and isn't.

People who come to Wikipedia without any desire to read the friendly manuals are less likely to help, even if they mean well. Unless by some miraculous coincidence their personal goals align with Wikipedia's goals in every detail.

22:04, 12 March 2011

@Teratornis You might be a computer that only refactors information. I would not generalize that to everybody. Some people are actual human beings with passions, interests, beliefs and such ;)

14:40, 11 March 2011

It is true that humans are emotional. That is why humans are having a harder time becoming Wikipedia editors. To edit on Wikipedia requires essentially abandoning many normal human impulses, such as the urge to advocate for causes and write one's beliefs. Instead we are supposed to be neutral, and simply focus on refactoring previously published material without getting emotional about it. All we are supposed to do is summarize and attribute what other people have written about "notable" topics. The most important personality trait for a Wikipedia editor is wikt:sangfroid - the ability to remain calm for example when deletionists are calling one's work "crufty" and "non-notable".

I'm not suggesting Wikipedia's requirements for editors necessarily represent the highest possible form of human attainment, but rather that these requirements are distinctly unobvious to new editors. Most people who decide to start editing on Wikipedia have no clue what they are in for. They don't realize we have a thriving community of deletionists who have been getting better for years at destroying the work of successive waves of new users making the same new user mistakes. If we want to "fix" what is "wrong" with our "software", I'd suggest trying to make it more informative as to what editing on Wikipedia is really about. Editing on Wikipedia is about figuring how to defend what you want to write against the criteria for speedy deletion and all the other rules about what we cannot keep on Wikipedia. I'm thinking about those rules every time I edit. The new user probably doesn't even know those rules exist.

Imagine building a minefield, and noticing that fewer people are making it out alive each year. Is the solution to make the minefield look more enticing, so more people will blunder in without realizing it is a minefield? Or might it be better to clearly label all the mines before people step on them? I don't think it is charitable to lure people into a minefield under a false pretext. We should be honest about how many articles we delete. Why doesn't every first-time editor know that number?

23:24, 11 March 2011
Edited by 0 users.
Last edit: 19:45, 11 March 2011

I'm a newbie but very interested in these topics. For me quality increases through the diversity, accuracy, depth and engaging style of articles. Diversity is well served by newcomers, though they may not provide the accuracy, depth or engagement more experienced users do. I recently read about the diverse roles played by Wikipedians, and related to how each user takes on different roles. It seems that roles evolve too, and the role of a new user is to stir things up, inject new ideas, whereas an experienced user may spend more time refining, editing, mentoring and deleting. I imagine our goal would be to find ways of encouraging all users to adopt/retain the qualities of those at the other end of the experience spectrum so we can keep all aspects of quality high.

19:45, 11 March 2011

Even the Linux kernel puts in place systems to help newbies contribute: There are relatively easy "janitor" jobs listed for newbies; the source code is modular which reduces the amount a newbie needs to know to make their first contribution (though this is true of any good source code); and the GIT version control system, originally designed by Linux's creator, allows anyone to have a go at making and maintaining whatever changes they wish without requiring special privileges.

Besides that, you've presented a false dichotomy. Established users do not create "better information". I don't believe anyone thinks that newbies have less to contribute than established users. It seems silly to blame the newbies for the shortcomings of Wikipedia which are driving them away.

Of course we should worry about a decline in editors. The same issues are driving away established users. Pengo 14:06, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

14:06, 11 March 2011

I disagree that I have posed a "false dichotomy" -- or even a dichotomy. My intent with my original post was to question assumptions in Sue Gardiner's March 2011 update, the major one being that the decline in new contributors is a bad thing. (And, just to be clear, I am not expressing an opinion on her assertion one way or the other.) The Foundation, however, seems to treat this as a dichotomy: money is allocated to improve "community outreach", yet AFAICS none is spent on how Wikipedia -- or any of the Wikimedia projects -- might provide information better. Or better information. -- Llywrch 18:27, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

18:27, 11 March 2011

"Established users do not create "better information"." - it's not about information being "better", it's about information complying with Wikipedia's stupendously complex rules for allowable content. Established users are much more likely to have read pages like WP:CSD and WP:NOT, or at least to know that Wikipedia has such pages and a user community to enforce the rules.

Certainly there are people not editing on Wikipedia who have knowledge that could improve Wikipedia. But their kernel of knowledge acceptable to Wikipedia is wrapped inside the much larger sum of human knowledge that we don't want.

For example, consider Wikipedia's baldly elitist stance against procedural knowledge. This pretty much excludes most of the practical knowledge of people who work with their hands. On Wikipedia, you are not allowed to share your knowledge of how to paint a house, grow a garden, repair a furnace, etc. Instead we want editors to focus on useless topics like Heraldry. This restricts Wikipedia editing to the leisured class, which can afford to spend its time thinking about things with little or no practical importance. People who work with their hands and live paycheck to paycheck will have a very different perspective on what matters, and much of what matters to them does not matter to Wikipedia.

I'm not saying this is wrong, just that it is. Wikipedia has evolved in a certain way. I don't know how to make it evolve in a different way. I'm pretty sure wishing won't work. Not many people in the world know how to build a top ten Web site. A lot of those people happen to be at Wikipedia. They seem to like Wikipedia the way they have made it.

23:43, 11 March 2011

I wouldn't argue that because Wikipedia is a top ten website, the people who have contributed to it are experts in how to build one -- or even know more than the average person about this trick. Offer a product or service which meets or exceeds minimal standards of quality for free (as in beer), & you will find a ready market. Wikipedia's success was due to filling this niche.

No one connected with Wikipedia should consider ourselves geniuses just because we managed to be at the right place at the right time. Not even Jimmy Wales. Although almost of us commit that logical fallacy. Including Jimmy Wales.

05:27, 13 March 2011

I can't address your question from an information technology point of view, that's out of my field of expertise. I can, however approach it from a biological point of views. What has happened with WP over the course of these years is akin to artificial selection, i.e. a breeding program. Let's imagine we are talking about potatoes here. What you have in WP is an advanced cultivar or a potato that is resistant to certain diseases (e.g. vandalism), has a high yield (editors with high counts of contributions) and needs less resources (experienced users don't need other users to explain them how everything works). On the other hand, new users are like landraces, i.e. cultivars that were developed by ancestral populations during the domestication of the wild relatives of cultivated potatoes. They don't have any of the desirable characteristics of the advanced cultivar, but it has a much higher biodiversity. And that's the reason why breeders in general are perpetually trying to cross their advanced cultivars with land races and even wild species related to the cultivated one. Because biodiversity is the key to overcome the challenge of a changing environment. Going back to WP, and making the metaphor explicit, what you're missing by closing doors to new editors is knowledge. If you keep experienced editors because they know how to edit, you're keeping out new editors that may have a better knowledge of the topics needed to write good articles. Even if we would assume that current experienced users have all the knowledge needed for the articles in WP, in time that will change. Either because new articles will require new expertise or because knowledge may change (as it rapidly does in scientific fields these days) WP will need new people to stay current. And on that note, may I also add that I feel currently WP values editing savvy over expertise in a topic. Asinthior 13:57, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

13:57, 17 May 2011

en:WP:RequestedArticles has 400 groups asking 450,000 articles

A good plan would be to direct new users into the existing requests for new articles, such as en:WP:RequestedArticles, rather than have users creating so many articles about their favorite, rare people, which often fail en:WP:Notability and get deleted. There are some requests for a few more footballers and jockeys, but in the English Wikipedia, people have suggested having about 450,000 new titles, with just a few hundred being requests for more athletes. Similar sorted pages of requested-article lists could be developed for the other-language wikipedias.

On enWP, the structure of en:WP:RequestedArticles is a large "list of lists" which links to 400 sub-lists, each requesting specific article titles, with perhaps 1,035 articles requested in some of those sub-list pages. All together, including the obvious other articles which need to be created to support the requested articles, expect a total of 450,000 new articles. Hence, there is an enormous amount for new users to do, and it's not like there is no guidance; instead we already have a "plan for how to help" which was the main concern of 42% of readers in the November 2008 Wikimedia Survey. The hard work, needed to create those articles, is the research needed to find good sources, and explain what-the-heck some of those articles are about. For example, writing new article "en:Transposon tagging" in genetic engineering, requires a good introduction as to what the "tagging" means in relation to en:transposons. To speed the process in the other-language wikipedias, then the English lists could be quickly translated, and adapted to other languages, by deleting some requested articles from the sub-lists which are obviously inappropriate in some of the languages.

Each requested article often generates the titles for other new articles, as being the obvious support articles, such as new article "en:Fixed orbit" (as of electrons in the en:Bohr Atomic Model) led to the obvious "en:Stationary orbit" of satellites, along with major articles "en:Quantum physicist" and "en:Subatomic physics" (etc.). That is how a simple list of 100,000 new articles could lead to a million major articles, by focusing on the major concepts behind each new article. -Wikid77 16:31, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

16:31, 20 March 2011

Oh, just try to add something as red link to an article and watch one of the regulars revert. Wikipedia is complete, no red links allowed. WP:RequestedArticles is an obscure list out of article space that 99.9% of the readers have no clue it even exists.

05:08, 29 March 2011

Perhaps there some types of added redlinks which cause other editors to revert a change. I try to limit new redlinks to the most-obvious cases, usually for major topics such as "en:nursing pads" in breastfeeding, or en:string grammar in linguistics, or similar topics of major interest within a given subject area.

05:37, 10 May 2011


从所周知,维基百科非常复杂的编辑语法阻碍了大量非专业人士对百科参与的热情度。 相比较中国最流行的百度百科,维基百科的劣势在于:



04:11, 29 March 2011

A English translation for this thread:

Any people know that the edit system for Wikipedia is very difficult and stopped the non-professional people to join. Compare to the most popular encyclopedia in China - Baidu Baike, Wikipedia is bad at:

  1. Edit Wikipedia need to learn a lot of edit symbol but not in Baidu Baike.
  2. Wikipedia do not have a system to let people come and encourge them to join. But, Baidu Baike have a mark counting system and encourge people to join.

So, I suggest the following way to fix the problem

  1. Develop a article edit software or a web-based editor. It should have the following function: Do not need to understand edit symbol, and it is a WYSIWYG editor; can gererate code and easy to paste to editor or even can post without pasting.
  2. Have some encourgment for non-professional people to encourge them to join.

11:48, 31 March 2011


10:54, 4 April 2011

Translate: It is good to have a person to check.

I just think that we should work more for newbies.

07:17, 5 April 2011




如果维基打算加入激励非专业人士参与的措施,请务必注意这一问题。为了得到实质奖励(比如积分这类)而编写/创建词条的参与者我个人认为是比较危险的一类参与者。 ——某个无意点入此讨论的无注册帐号的路人甲

10:41, 15 April 2011


I think open the source of the software for edit and create article is good. I am a edit newbies and I have try to correct the wrong things in an articles. However, I saw a reminder of newbies and confirm edit make me feel sad.

I also think that Baidu mark scheme have a problem, its doesn't care about copyright violation, and make it quality bad.

If Wikipedia want to encourage non-professional people to join, please be mind of this problem.

07:40, 6 May 2011


12:19, 6 May 2011

I think GFW cause this ,we blocked to edit some pages.

I'm teriible sorry,my English is not good.But I want to say we can't edit some page like 6/24 , Liuxiaobo , Hujintao.With the develop of wikipeida,the about police page become more ,now in zh wikipeida those pages' editors are most in HongKang.The contenet of China,can't do any good for those pages. So I think we should set some vpn server and https servers.

04:53, 1 April 2011

HTTPS server is provided but blocked by mainland China. However, set some vpn cannot fix the problem. Just my few feelings.

13:55, 2 April 2011

Yes,some people in China can't get much truth than baidu baike,and baidu baike copying wikipedia,but don't obey CC BY-SA 3.0.we should do some things to baidu.

10:22, 17 April 2011


07:37, 6 May 2011

Insisting no easy articles remain to write

Many people have realized that there are thousands (perhaps millions?) of fun, easy articles which have not yet been written, including for the English Wikipedia (enWP). However, there are some people who, despite extensive evidence, seem to think all the easy articles have been created, "Wikipedia is done, and the fun stuff is over" (huh?). Plus, those people don't just think it's over; they absolutely, totally insist that there are, essentially, no easy articles left to write. The articles like "Orange juice" are done (created in 2002), so people must go to a "village in Africa" to get data to write about it. That viewpoint has a major problem: reality.

Using the enWP article "Orange juice" as a basis, I decided to run an extensive analysis of all similar articles, which took about 9 minutes to complete sufficient research: many easy articles are still needed. Of course, enWP already had "Apple juice" or "Cranberry juice" and "Clamato" from years ago. However, "Pineapple juice" is a mere redirect to "Pineapple" while other articles did not exist:

Conclusion of research: some people could have fun, all summer long, writing articles about juice drinks (and add photos), all summer.

There are many thousands (millions?) of fun, easy articles left to write. However, it is a bizarre illusion to imagine "all easy articles are done" (not yet), and very puzzling how some people utterly insist, "The fun articles are done– go away" to an African village to get data for another article.

05:20, 4 May 2011

A modest proposal for "incubating" new articles

Some posters in these discussions have felt that new editors are driven away because their initial efforts at creating new articles are deleted too quickly. After thinking on this for a while, I would like to propose a little experiment on the English Wikipedia, as follows:

  • Modify the speedy deletion procedure for criterion A7. No indication of importance (individuals, animals, organizations, web content) and criterion A9. No indication of importance (musical recordings), to delay deletion until the article is seven days old.
  • During the period before the article is seven days old, mentors could help the article creator improve the article, including adding citations to reliable sources establishing notability. After the article was seven days old, any administrator could still delete the article if it did not include a credible sourced claim to notability.
  • Run the experiment for a defined period, say three months.

If new editors are indeed being driven off because their first attempts to add an article are deleted, then we should be able to see new editors successfully nurtured into regular contributors. This is a circumscribed experiment in "incubating". It will require some extra effort from volunteer mentors. Suspense lists for "incubated" articles that have been nominated for speedy deletion can be maintained just as they are for image files, so this should create very little extra work for administrators, although they would have to review the article to see it had improved enough to avoid deletion.

To avoid complicating the experiment, I propose that speedy deletion continue to operate as it does at present for articles that are more than seven days old, and for all criteria other than A7 and A9. If this experiment shows positive results, expansion of the "incubator" concept can be discussed.

If anybody thinks this is worth discussing, we could take a proposal to the Village Pump.

02:12, 23 March 2011

Hi, on EN wiki we've been running a new system for nearly a year that works a bit like that. Unsourced Biographies of living people get tagged with a fairly friendly template that explains that we no longer accept unreferenced Biographies of Living people, and gives them ten days to reference it. Looking at en:Category:BLP articles proposed for deletion by days I believe that a fairly good proportion of the worthwhile articles get rescued by a small team of people. But I fear that few of the authors stay after being told that their article is being tagged for deletion. My preference is for something where we do a quick initial sift between goodfaith and bad faith articles, then while the newbies aren't aware that their article is vulnerable to deletion it gets a brief period whilst they and their articles can be helped Proposal:Speedy deletion - 24 hour pause for some articles. Crucially the stuff which needs immediate deletion would still get deleted just as quickly. But for the stuff that initially lacks context or where someone saves one sentence at a time this could solve the problem.

15:45, 29 March 2011

I like the bolder approach of suggesting that we move from 'deletion' to 'incubation, merging, and hiding'. Starting something and then getting a warning message - no matter how friendly - telling you your work's days are numbered... that's not the right way to enter a community.

On the other hand, hiding someone's work until they learn how the site works, and can later go back to it, makes sense. unsourced / less notable work can be quietly moved to their userspace, and a nice tidy list of their contributions included there. lightly notable work can be quietly merged as appropriate into the right meta-article (and in geenral we need better style guidelines for this).

And we should have a project or namespace or capacity to store verifiable but nonnotable information about everything in the world -- as that is also clearly in Wikimedia's mission -- at which point the cleanup process would simply be tagging/moving it appropriately.


23:32, 8 April 2011
Edited by author.
Last edit: 18:00, 21 April 2011

As I've pointed out several times now, you're assuming a newbie is logging on often enough to see the Tag in time. As I've also suggested, moving the article to that person's userspace makes a lot more sense - along with a note suggesting where it belongs, such as in a more general article. Just because a person is, for example, only notable for one particular event doesn't mean the information about that person isn't notable at all, just that it's in the wrong place. How does deleting that information help or encourage the newbie (or anyone) to contribute? Anyone who sees their entire article deleted (which means no history preserved for them to see) is NOT likely to want to spend more time to recreate it from scratch. They ARE likely to tell their friends and acquaintances what was done to them by 'the malicious Admins'. All you have to do is put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel and react if that happened to you. Why this insistence on doing the same thing over and over, when it's patently clear it's not working? I really do wonder if the goal here is to actually fix the problems, or to just make it appear they're being 'addressed'. Or, perhaps to come up with yet another excuse for why bullying is really a good thing. I wonder how many of the Admins kick over children's sandcastles at the beach, then laugh hysterically and call the children sissies for being upset. Not much difference, is there? And that's what you want Wikipedia to be proud of? Really? Flatterworld 22:41, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

22:41, 10 April 2011

Whether you move it to a sandbox or an incubator or you delete it or you tag it for deletion my fear is that the newbie will still feel that their article has been rejected. If we want to reject their article and we clearly explain why then that should be OK, but if their article can be rescued then I believe we should do so in mainspace.

09:21, 11 April 2011

See related topic "#Consider the en:WP:Article_Incubator" about current rescue of some deleted articles. In general, the support needs to be organized, and a deadline (even as 10 days) might seem overwhelming to a rare user who only imagined the promise of "anyone can edit" and now is faced with a deadline, to learn everything needed to save an article, in a get-a-life effort to abandon their home life and react quickly, before the looming threat occurs. Having seen numerous articles scarred by the shocking en:WP:AfD banner, I must also conclude that such intense, dire warnings of the ominous, impending "fix or delete" are equivalent to a long, protracted, slow-motion (and even cruel) death sentence to a new article. I have seen it far too many times: several people say, "Hey, I'd like to work on an article about Xxxx", and then when "Xxxx" is finally created, but soon tagged for WP:AfD, then even with 7 days to add their, previously, enthusiastic edits, the effect is, almost always, a death knell, a bell tolling of the approaching axe, and user participation nearly always halts (except for category setters). In fact, I think some (many?) deletionists fully realize the successful use of the mechanical witchhunt of attempted speedy-delete, followed by the shocking WP:AfD banner, and then those numerous, repeated, ultra-negative condemnations of the article. At that point, call in the medics to assess triage, to decide if there is any future potential for moving the article into the en:WP:Article Incubator.
After 6 years of WP, I have never seen, ever, a civilized approach such as, "Gentlemen, let's list the positive factors of the article, and focus on potential benefits of quick improvements, and then re-assess the updated page, to see whether this article can be saved." No, never have I seen that: it would be too much like educated people, collaborating, to reserve judgment and try to focus on an objective, neutral viewpoint about a topic. Instead, the reality seems like hate-mongering: many people are just, simply, ruthlessly vicious about their insistence to censor a topic which they, personally, want to see deleted. In fact, I think a major reason why many insulted people remain, after a vicious WP:AfD, might be that, perhaps, they plan to get revenge on the people who pushed to delete their articles. It gives them a reason to return to a hostile, negative evironment, despite the instinctive revulsion against returning.

02:59, 4 May 2011

Consider the en:WP:Article_Incubator

See page en:WP:Article_Incubator (begun September 2009) on the English Wikipedia, to learn more about issues which arise when incubating articles (for articles which are not ready, yet, for wide-open viewing). The associated category en:Category:Articles_in_the_Article_Incubator has recently had only about 80 articles, while over 920 articles (per day) are added into the total articles of the English Wikipedia. Hence, far less than 1% of the articles created, each month, are being incubated. However, the quality of each incubated article should be compared, as another factor to consider when creating articles.

01:56, 4 May 2011






其一,维基拥有许多语言版本的内容,不难发现,其实很多不同的语言版本对于同一个词条的详细程度是不同的。个人倒是不反对这种设定,毕竟不同的国家对于词条的详细要求的程度是不同的,但是我觉得不利用起这个优势,对于维基来说是浪费的。至少将其他语言版本的词条作为扩展阅读罗列在词条下面,我觉得是可以接受且能受到欢迎的。我注意到,虽然维基的确附带语言转换的功能,但是一旦切换了语言,其他版本的信息却是看不懂得文字。就以我刚才所查的管理层收购(Management buyout-MBO)来说,在日文和英语中的词条内容显然比中文质量来的高。但是这2种语言也只是我勉强能阅读的,更有30%的内容是我无法解读的,这就无法解决我所想了解的问题。如果维基能够在这方面做出个整合,我想还是会有更大的吸引力的。



11:49, 30 April 2011



这是一条当初未经讨论而被私自加入的规则。 经查询发现,“來源不明檔案”是未经共识而被一名叫shizhao的管理员加入的。而shizhao既是管理员,又是行政员(bureaucrats),还是監管員(Stewards)。这相当于执法者参与了立法,且未按规定流程进行。 但更严重的是,对这种违规行为,管理员UAL55非但不纠正,反而将其他人的修订视为“破坏”。

目前方针的修订中存在很多问题,特别是管理员有选择性地默许方针中的部分违规修订,而对纠正这类违规条目的修订却进行阻挠,使得【方针】中的部分内容体现的是少数强势群体的意志,而非“共识”,使得明知“非共识”的条目长期存在,编者却又无可奈何。参看Wikipedia:快速删除的标准的修订历史(2011年4月29日 (五) 17:32),管理员(UAL55)将试图移除“非共识”条目的修改视为“破坏”。

关于对该规则的质疑以及相关讨论请参看Wikipedia:快速删除的标准和【互助客栈/求助】中的讨论(])。 以及4月29日方针的修订历史。


目前中文WIKI百科似乎尚未引入仲裁机制,请问【方针和指引】的修订中存在这样的问题该如何解决? 假设【方针和指引】中的内容不能充分体现共识,会不会对中文WIKI百科发展的产生不利影响呢? -- 11:09, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

11:09, 29 April 2011


大部分的討論,多半都是集中在新手編輯者,然而我認為這樣討論忽略了更前期的因素。 目前維基百科的使用者可以分為兩種,一種是單純「使用百科」的人,這我稱之為讀者;另一種則是會參與編撰活動的人(當然他們也會使用百科),他們就是大家口中的編輯者。 我認為維基百科內容越來越完備的同時,也會使讀者越來越不再轉變成編輯者,因為他們認為維基百科沒有任何需要他幫助的地方。事實上,我曾編輯過的條目,就是我找不到的資料;我想找一份資料,但我發現維基百科沒有建立條目,而在我從其他書籍、期刊上找到我要的資料後,我「認為」我可以幫助維基,所以我嘗試編寫了條目。 維基百科仍有許多地方可以編輯,或者還有更新的知識等待填入,但隨百科越來越龐大,這些欠缺的地方越來越不容易發現,並且即使被發現了,也沒有誰會認為「這條目需要我去充實」,因為龐大的百科內容,讓人不自覺認為維基百科已經擁有足夠、比自己厲害許多的編輯者。因此,我認為必須要有一種機制,可以讓讀者知道,維基百科哪邊還有他可以幫上忙的,而具體的實踐方式,只能透過讀者與讀者,或讀者與編輯者之間的交流。目前維基百科只有編輯者間的交流,我認為這已經是落後的網路概念了。現在網路更傾向於,讓讀者成為新的編輯者,或者說嘗試去撤掉那條界線,讓任何人都可以簡單跨越——讓他知道我們需要他!讓他知道他可能知道我們不知道的事!


08:53, 29 April 2011

Open letter to Sue Gardner

Open letter to Sue Gardner


Virgilio A. P. Machado

18:58, 28 April 2011

Another simple explanation of editing trends

As a "niche" editor, the editing trends seem obvious to me. When I started editing years ago, it was quite rewarding to gravitate to a few very rudimentary pages on topics about which I had some expertise (eg. "shoelaces") and editing them extensively. Wikipedia has now been around long enough for countless experts in their field, however "niche", to have similarly gravitated towards their pet pages and fine tuned them. Today, I rarely make major edits to pages because they're all getting to be pretty good, and I feel pedantic making trivial edits. I can't see that a newbie has anything much to get their teeth into either. Ian Fieggen 03:31, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

03:31, 12 March 2011

I've seen the same thing in just three years of editing at en.wikipedia. Referencing has also improved—many currently well-written and well-referenced articles began with editors simply writing from their own experience, without supplying references. The bar for contributing is being raised all the time. So is the quality of the articles. Which begs the question - is the main purpose of Wikipedia to write a world-class encyclopedia, at which it is becoming increasingly successful? Or is it to create a welcoming and friendly online community, at which it seems to be failing? Obviously it doesn't have to be either/or, but the issues around the second question can't ignore Wikipedia's main purpose, which is to create a world-class encyclopedia.

04:27, 12 March 2011

That exact question, First Light, is what I raised here days ago. Unfortunately, the Foundation directs its attention -- & its money -- at supporting the community.

That might be because the Foundation doesn't see a way to encourage better quality without appearing to wade into the thicket of opposing opinions over content. However I see several. One would be to compile guidelines for what should be in certain kinds of articles -- a checklist, so to speak -- of the points an article should cover. This is an issue that has confronted me numerous times when writing article: what should an article about a town or city contain? Or what details of an individual's life should be covered in a biographical article? (It is remarkable just how many articles on famous intellectuals fail to include any discussion about their ideas or beliefs.)

But instead of engaging someone to create these guidelines or checklists, hiring people to perform community outreach is easier to spend money on.

06:02, 13 March 2011

I know others have raised this issue, including yourself, but I thought to raise (rephrase) it again because people are focusing too much on the details at times. I think guidelines and a checklist for articles are a great idea. We need real and concrete ways of helping newer users succeed at Wikipedia before they fail and leave in frustration. Like others, I learn through imitation, so early on I found articles similar to the new plant species articles I was creating, and copy/pasted my way to creating my own template for such articles. Not everyone works that way, so your idea of a checklist would save new users so much frustration.

I think part of the cultural problem (to over-generalize) is that encyclopedias tend to be written by basement boffins who don't specialize in warm and fuzzy human interactions. The other extreme (to exaggerate) is the people who come here hoping for a MySpace/Facebook social culture. Both are needed, and I think the Wikimedia foundation is recognizing the strength that a Facebook type of community can create. How to bring the two together is the question that should be asked, and why I phrased it the way I did.

15:13, 13 March 2011

Well, the paragons responsible for creating great literature have never been known for their social skills. My favorite example of this was the time the two most prominent literary artists of the 20th century met at a dinner party: James Joyce & Marcel Proust. After introductions were made, the two men looked at each other & one said, "I haven't read any of your works." -- "Well, I haven't read any of yours." End of conversation, & to the best of my knowledge neither bothered to read anything written by the other afterwards, nor spoke to the other again.

The fact that online communications only make it easier for someone to be thought of as rude -- as well as to be rude -- only complicate the issue.

21:48, 13 March 2011

I believe the information is available elsewhere: there are plenty of important areas of knowledge underrepresented in Wikipedia, not to mention some of the other projects. None of them might be in one's area of knowledge, expertise or experience. However, as an experienced wikipedian one may still be extremely useful and helpful to the less experienced editors. They need to learn how to write according to the wikipedia requirements.

The suggestion of article guidelines or better guidelines, ties very well with the Foundation strategy, outreach and a thriving civilized community. Once you have the guidelines, you need editors to write the articles according to those guidelines. Nobody would want to write guidelines, if there isn't anybody to follow them.

As a counter example, some of the paragons responsible for creating great literature have been known for their high social skills. It is also a fact that online communications make it easier for someone to be thought of as polite -- as well as to be polite -- makes it a lot easier to belong to a community where many forms of crime cannot be committed.

I would like to compliment Ian for his commitment to continue to contribute to Wikipedia; the correct reading of the reality made by First Light; and Llywrch excellent suggestion of added and/or renewed emphasis on article guidelines, once done it is a extraordinary time saver for anyone writing or expanding an article. Let me conclude quoting Robert Frost: "A civilized community is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity." There should be room in it for the "basement boffins", the "fuzzy humans" and all of us.

Warmest regards,

Virgilio A. P. Machado

01:20, 23 March 2011

@First Light: The main purpose is "to write a world-class encyclopedia", this seems obvious to me. The community is a means to this end, this is something we should never forget - certainly we need a welcoming and friendly community so that contributing to Wikipedia is a positive experience and people aren't driven away, but we must always have in mind the consequences for the real purpose of the project, which is the encyclopedia product. People "who come here hoping for a MySpace/Facebook social culture" need to be told that Wikipedia is not about the community - the community is a great thing, without a doubt, but it is a community with a specific purpose and a goal. Wikipedia is about its content. I think that "editors" who are in fact not editors but mainly talkers who don't really contribute to the content or to its maintenance can be detrimental to the project. Of course we need "meta talk", which is what we're doing here right now, we need to discuss the project and its policies, but people who become focussed on only this and lose the base of plain article work tend to get the project not a millimetre further. So, I agree with Llywrch that attempts to improve the "community spirit" should always be tied to actual article editing - in Wikipedia, it's not just about "how to be nice to each other" but "how to improve Wikipedia whilst being nice to each other" ;-)

As a main reason of dwindling editor activity, however, is not connected to questions of community spirit at all, but to the simple fact that easy, popular topics are now already well covered in the biggest Wikipedias (see also Thread:Talk:March 2011 Update/Lack of easily filled gaps), I think that in the future editors need more help regarding how to write good articles for niche topics, and how to find and use the increasingly specialist information needed for filling the remaining gaps.

19:07, 26 April 2011

Bullying in Wikipedia

I was systematically bullied and harassed out of Wikipedia after being an editor for over 3 years and contributed to a large number of articles which I often created and the articles were appropriately cited and referenced. I have no qualms in naming my experience as bullying. It is the truth. The majority of my inclusions were on articles related to the Dharmic Traditions and I feel that this had a factor in the bullying. I know my experience of bullying on Wikipedia is not an isolated occurrence. To my knowledge I am still indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia which I consider is indefensible and to run counter to Wikimedia policy. I hope this Wikimedia Foundation review will do something to counter such bullying which I am sure impacts on editor retention and inclusion of the editing community. I asked for an independent assessment of what transpired in my case but it did not happen. I still edit on Wikiversity. One of the last articles I created and edited was Open discourse which is profound given what transpired. B9 hummingbird hovering 09:57, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

09:57, 14 March 2011
Edited by author.
Last edit: 16:34, 16 March 2011

Yes, I am beginning to remember when B9 was blocked, because of using "flowery" wording to explain concepts in the philosophy of Dharmic Traditions. I tried to defend and stop the indef-block, noting the extraordinary work done by B9 to explain highly complex topics, but they would not listen to a moderate position. It was as if they had said, yes, he explained Einstein's complex ideas in 15 articles, but he just used too many words over 4 syllables long. While B9 had written about Dharmic religion, rather than relativity theories, the restrictive responses were similar. When I tried to request more tolerance for allowing poetic terms in some articles, then I became the target, with a growing warning that if I persisted in trying to allow broader, open-minded thinking, then it "could only end badly" for me, as well. I stopped immediately, because I have been victimized enough to realize than when an admin decides to come after you, full force, then there is almost no hope because very few people are of the mind to defend against fascist attitudes. That is the power of fascism: when people see a pattern of continual executions, or indef-blocks, then they will all become too scared to resist. That is the reason it typically requires a revolution to stop fascist attitudes. It will not come from a "grass roots" change; it must be overcome from outside, by a higher level of management. Power can be limited by term limitations to stop the growth of abuse from long-term admins, by removing them from office. I see no problem with allowing poetic words in literary or philosophic articles. I say let someone write, "Hamlet (Prince of Denmark) was described by his detractors as a deeply demented Dane distracted by distorted delusions" (as long as that is not in the intro of an article). There is a severe double standard against poetic wording, because another article would be allowed to say, "Sea salt is a neutralized acidic-base crystalized compound typically constituted from reverse electrolysis generating NaCl via reagents from Na2CHO3 and iodides in hydrolized marine solutions subject to primordial conditions of Kelvin coefficients: G = f(x3) + yk + B-1, where k is the median reduction of inverse x within an Eigen-vector n-tuple". Sea salt can be described that way (in the first sentence of an article!), but merely say "deeply demented Dane" and people get indef-blocked. That is the double standard in English Wikipedia. -Wikid77 17:58, 14 March 2011, revised 16:33, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

17:59, 14 March 2011

I also remember when B9 was banned. All I'll say about that subject is not all Admins have "fascist attitudes", & some people are banned from Wikipedia for, believe it or not, good reasons.

22:31, 14 March 2011

I'm so sorry, but there are no innocent bystanders in a corrupt administration, much less honest administrators. Tertullian aphorizes: de contaminatis contaminamur (De spectaculis 8) - "polluted things pollute us." Please also explain why and if banning some people for good reasons from Wikipedia justifies banning all others for no reason whatsoever. Are you condoning "throwing away the baby with the bathwater"? Shouldn't you be concerned with defending the victims instead of whitewashing the death squad?


Virgilio A. P. Machado

03:26, 18 April 2011


much apologies from the wikipedian community. I did not review your case but just feel it is the appropriate response here (just an intuition). B9, please do know that cabals do exist on wikipedia and sometimes you might be targeted for things you did before. The people will however traget you for unrelated things later on. The reason is that they don't want you to know who they are and their "beef".

03:57, 25 April 2011

Schools/colleges banned Wikipedia use in 2007-2008

This is just a quick link to news about the growing ban against English Wikipedia in schools and colleges (universities) during 2007-2008 (also in 2009). I thought this issue had been obvious, old news, but perhaps not, so I created a short enWP essay:

Although some schools considered the 2007 quality of articles to be a problem in misleading students, other school boards worried that Wikipedia was making student research "too easy" compared to traditional paper research, where in olden days, students would go to a large, printed encyclopedia and hope to find some (tiny) articles, or dusty books, about their classroom research assignment. Instead, Wikipedia article's were linking numerous online sources, or popular books, which made student research seem overly easy, to those school-board members.

Perhaps I remembered those years, clearly, in noting the extreme censorship caused by such bans, and the typical chilling effect throughout history. There is the famous saying, "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" attributed to Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S. President) and Benjamin Franklin (the "Grandfather" of America). So, I am intensely focused on effects of censorship. When looking for a trend which quickly shuts out participation, always consider official bans to have quick, devastating effects on people's behavior. Most people do not change because a few bio pages were embarrassing in news headlines, but ban use of a website in colleges, and thousands of people will stop very quickly. In 2008, half of all WP users were younger than 22 years. Censorship is not just a wiki problem: after the major inventions of WWII (the Scientists' War), in 1946 the U.S. military wanted to ban all scientific research, from industry or colleges, and fortunately, Albert Einstein and others were able to explain or stop that "bad idea" and allow open exchange of scientific studies, which thus changed the world. -Wikid77 06:33, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

P.S. This issue was discussed in reply to topic "#What happened in May 2007?".
06:33, 17 March 2011

In 1995-2005 educators were enthusiastic about the Internet as an exotic new environment. Then in the current era 2005-2015, when several projects (Wikipedia, Google Book Search, Google Maps, ...) have started to actually fill this new environment with real, useful knowledge, educators are worried that knowledge is too easy to find, far easier than in traditional libraries, and sometimes not as well researched. When students come back with term papers citing Wikipedia, the teachers' reaction is to ban Wikipedia. But the students didn't go to Wikipedia, they went to Google and Google returned the best of the web. So next time, students will go to Google and pick the second best of the web, because that website is not banned by teachers. How long will it take before teachers start to understand the web and Wikipedia's role within the web? A full decade?

16:49, 17 March 2011

What is the average age of teachers? When the current cohort of young Wikipedia users grows up, some of them will be teachers. Then they will encourage their students to use Wikipedia, and try to ban whatever has come after Wikipedia. The purpose of adults is to delay progress.

05:51, 22 March 2011

"The purpose of adults is to delay progress."? I urge you to reconsider what you wrote, and take the appropriate actions. Please.

04:20, 18 April 2011

That essay about the "Wikipedia bans" mixes various almost unrelated phenomena. Mostly, colleges and schools rightly said - with the support of the WMF's communications manager - that students should not be blindly citing "Wikipedia" as a source of information. Which should be uncontroversial - students should be clicking through or visiting the library to read the actual sources cited, for obvious reasons. But a few of the articles concern the w:Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (and a subsequent resubmission), a mercifully failed effort to ban children from accessing any kind of user-submitted content on social networking sites, possibly including Wikipedia (with the FCC being able to rule at whim about what is included or not). Such a ban, among other things, expresses either an incredible naivete or an unspeakable deceptiveness about how children are abused, when we consider that, by contrast to the perhaps seven children that might be saved by such a law as detailed in the article, there are estimates of hundreds of thousands of children being forced into prostitution in the U.S.[1] This was truly one of those cases where the tribal witch doctors were asking for statues to appease the gods when what they needed was penicillin to stop the infections. The good news is that DOPA didn't pass... the bad news is that the U.S. still hasn't freed these children, as might be achieved e.g. by a carefully regulated legalization of adult prostitution. Wnt 23:16, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

23:16, 21 April 2011

The role of Discussion Page, the proper place to requests and discussions.

Discussion Page it is the right place to point out article’s issues and not rightly in article’s main page. So nobody should put warning tags or citation requests in front page by obvious reasons (bad taste, ant-esthetical, aggressive, room’s pollution, bossy and impolite). Doing that is equally the same that trashing the article and consequently an awful propaganda to Wikipedia’s readers. Without doubt it is a rude attitude, besides, the reader must have the choice of reading the issues and not be aggressively obliged like happens every day in more and more articles.
Wikipedia is completely made and exposed by its articles. Therefore, it is easy realize that who do that it is not really helping but actually vandalizing Wikipedia’s image.
What everyone must to do it is to copy the problematic pieces from article and paste in page’s discussion, never in main page. There, in discussion page, it is the proper place to make discussions and point out issues.
Those masked as '”professional critics” who, by the way, never have time to truly improve articles but always have to damage the article’s main page, and anyone who insists on put tags (or requirements) in article’s main page should be blocked for vandalism (and lack of a real contribution).

13:55, 19 April 2011

WP:WikiBullying to empower bullying

Bullies rewriting the policies: I found yet another power-game disappointment when I went to the enWP essay "en:WP:WikiBullying". I had imagined that the shortcut "en:WP:BULLY" would link to some new group of concerned users, or some WikiProject, where several people might try to offer help with investigating concerns when a person feels bullied. No way. Instead, that essay appeared to be the exact opposite, where the wording seems to emphasize no one is allowed to stop other users from doing anything they want to any article which someone else wrote. Plus, if there are any complaints about bullying, then the essay advised to go to en:WP:AN/I, which is already a notorious forum where extensive bullying has occurred in the past, including allowing severe insults against newcomers, with no "support group" to help defend against the typical AN/I crowd, of people who already know every trick to condemn anyone who is being targeted.

Hence, the essay "WP:WikiBullying" gives the ominous appearance of actually being the reverse, as a "Bullies Manifesto" which preserves the right to "delete any section" of an article, even if someone embeds a comment "Don't delete this section". Evidently, the essay advises that no one can stop a deletion, as if removal cannot be limited simply because consensus is needed with the author(s) of that section. You see, to stop a bully from deleting any section he dislikes, and request consensus, would be "bullying" him(!). I seem to remember the danger of the "Foxes guarding the henhouse"....

English Wikipedia is, indeed, quickly spiraling down, devolving into a Kafkaesque system, where "the inmates are running the asylum". Why? ...because any support group who says, "Don't act that way" will quickly learn they have no real power and will ALL be ignored by troublemakers. Hence, policies about bullying must be written by outside objective management; otherwise the bullies, themselves, will re-edit the policies, to slant or twist the definition, where "bullying" means anyone who tries to stop them to wait for consensus. Wikipedia has become quite the interesting social experiment, which shows what can really happen when no external controls are imposed on a self-serving group. We cannot stop them from inside, but at least we have the evidence of how it happened. There should have been better controls on policies, where only certain trusted users were allowed to define policies, in a rational manner observing the need to wait for consensus. -Wikid77 09:18, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

09:18, 17 March 2011

I just read that essay -- I didn't know it existed until you mentioned it, Wikid77 -- & I did not get that impression from the essay at all. In fact, my impression was the exact opposite: all users are permitted a great latitude of license in contributing to Wikipedia, & it is wrong for another person to intimidate another from exercising that license.

Can you be more specific what portions of this essay gives you, Wikid77, a clear impression that bullying is allowed on Wikipedia?

18:22, 17 March 2011

So sorry, again. Do you need any kind of essay to have "a clear impression that bullying is allowed [intensely and extensively practiced] on Wikipedia?"

04:36, 18 April 2011

I'm not accustomed to Wikipedia rules, so my comment might be irrelevant. If an editor makes edits to damage an article, it's more like vandalism than bullying. It is bulling only if he damages the article because of it's author. (if he follows another editor to undo him)

I doubt in Wikipedia one can forbid everybody else to edit "his" section of an article. I think that, for a controversial section, comments like "don't delete this section" should be in the form of "don't delete this section, see talk page" and arguments for that section on talk page.

09:27, 18 March 2011

The core of it all

WP etc is not so much about contents, as a study in dominance.

If aligned with studies in United Nations, we might actually get somewhere.

16:44, 16 March 2011

I'm not sure of what you mean. Is it that at Wikipedia, bureaucratic intrigue is practiced at a level matched only by university faculties and 15th-century popes, or that in Wikipedia politics, the infighting is so vicious because the stakes are so low?

03:34, 18 April 2011

Not a change in Wikimedia, but a change in society


I believe the effect we are seeing is not only attributable to a change in the Wikimedia community, but in society as a whole.

People spend more and more time on social networks and exploring new technologies. While being on Facebook, they do not come edit Wikipedia pages; they might share some of the pages on Facebook or Twitter, to support the discussion, but it does not imply editing. Also, while Wikipedia may be easy to read on a portable device such as a smartphone, it is not necessarily easy to edit on those devices. I remember clearly reading an article about one of Isaac Newton's relatives with my smartphone, noting a problem with it, and writing a note in my agenda to edit it when I got home and had access to my laptop computer.

We also have to realize that a lot of people just READ Wikipedia, and don't want or need to EDIT. So there's no need for them to join. Most of my own visits on Wikipedia are just to read and not edit. We could compare the situation to a hobby club: many people become members in order to learn, but will never go in front of the room to give a conference. Visitors to public libraries read the book, but don't all start writing notes in them (thankfully!)...

Also, there is a saturation level which is eventually reached: it goes with the market -- only so many people will ever drink Coca-Cola, and not more than them; the Coca-Cola Company may do more and more publicity, but it will not affect the number of drinkers. The same applies to Wikipedia and all other Wikimedia projects: once all of the target audience has been reached, there is no possibility of expanding any further.

Creating and editing pages may be difficult for some people. I recently started a MediaWiki-powered website, and one of the visitors told me he "didn't find the way to create a page", even though I explain the procedure clearly on the front page. (My project is now dead, despite an initial high level of interest, because almost nobody edits.)

Finally, we can't force people to join our project... (And here I'm torn between :-( the sad face and :-) the happy face, as I wouldn't want to be forced myself, but I certainly would like to (gently) force some people to join my project and Wikipedia as well!)

That's just my two cents...

CielProfond 15:47, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

15:47, 12 March 2011

Most of time my iPhone is the last place I'd want to edit Wikipedia (give me a big screen and a keyboard anyday). But there is one exception.

I love to travel around Australia, visiting small towns. When I arrive at a place, I pull up the Wikipedia entry for it (I love the mobile version of Wikipedia for reading, incidentally). Often there isn't much of an entry. So when I am standing beside historical noticeboards or plaques etc in the town, I think "I should be adding this info to the Wikipedia entry" but it's too hard to edit on my iPhone.

What I love about Facebook when I'm out and about is its "take a photo and upload to Facebook" in its iPhone app. It's not so easy to enter your status as text on a smartphone but it's easy to do status-by-photo. So I just load a photo of a sign that tells people where I am. If the mobile Wikipedia (or a Wikipedia app) could do something similar, that would be great. I envision something that works like this on my iPhone:

I search for the Wikipedia page I want in the usual mobile reading mode. There is a option then under the "W" button to "take photo". This takes and uploads the photo of the information on the plaque etc and attaches it in some temporary way to the Wikipedia page. Then when I revisit that page on the non-mobile device (i.e. back from holidays or using a PC in an Internet cafe), I get a message "You have uploaded photos for this page" and I can click and see them and then do whatever edits I want to do using them as the source. Note I am NOT saying upload the photos onto the article itself to be visible to others (although I might do that as part of the post-processing). I just want them in a kind of "to do" area and I need some reminder that I have these "To Dos" when I visit a page (or I visit my user page).

Of course, a To Do list would be useful quite apart from out-and-about-with-phone scenario. If there could be a TO LIST for an article-and-user-pair, then when you look at your user page, you could see all your TO DOs for any article. And when you look at the article, you just see your TO DOs for that article (or perhaps see the TO DOs for other editors as well -- useful if many people are active on a article so you could collaborate rather than tread on one another's toes).

23:06, 12 March 2011

Those are great ideas.

Some editors do add to-do lists to the talk pages of articles (example here), but a real to-do list as part of the software would be great. - PKM 23:45, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

23:45, 12 March 2011

Facebook makes uploading photos easy by ignoring copyright law. I wonder how long they can get away with that? Wikipedia (and Wikimedia Commons) have complex and difficult procedures for uploading photos because we account for the dreadful complexity of copyright law. See the links under commons:COM:EIC#Copyright for an introduction to the copyright nightmare and how it impacts a free content project like Wikipedia. Facebook simply pretends none of that stuff exists, therefore uploading becomes easy.

07:44, 22 March 2011

I think that the Coca-Cola example is apt. Are there better examples of what I think might be happening? For example look at the shift in TV comedies between the early 50s and the late 50s as the number of televisions grew in the United States. Early on, television was dominated by comedians from New York City, with New York sensibilities and experience in the Borscht Belt. That changed not because the nature of society changed but because the demographics of the watchers changed. The first television were sold and stations set up were sold and set up in cities, particular New York with more urban sensibilities. As the number of televisions expanded, more rural people started buying TVs, and the percentage made up of New Yorkers and urbanites shrank. The audience was no longer as dominated by the urban. You had a shift from Sid Ceasar to Johnny Carson.

Is the same thing happening to Wikipedia?

Perhaps Wikipedia has reached nearly its maximum market size in the United States and other Western countries. Perhaps there is something particularly American about Wikipedia with its openness and lack of hierarchy. An Asian society Wikipeida ain't. Just look at where Wikipedia is based. Is there any more American place that San Francisco and Silicon Valley? Ameicans have always volunteered more and donated more than others. As Wikipedia expands into different markets, demographics change. People in other places do not volunteer as much but off-line and on. Like changing comedy shows maybe the audience has changed and so there are fewer of the types of people who are attracted to editing.

Or maybe it is like the menu of McDonalds. McDonalds might be a world-wide phenomena but in each country it has adapted itself. It is not the same McDonalds in Hong Kong, Vienna, New York and Smallville. Is some places McDonalds sells lattes, salads and milk shakes, but in others it is fried chicken, rice and spaghetti. In American McDonalds, you clear your own table; nearly everyplace else people are paid to do that.

Perhaps the early adopters, those most likely to be persistent editors, have already been captured by Wikipedia. Perhaps all the low hanging fruit -- uber-volunteering American early adopters -- have been picked.

02:53, 16 March 2011

Bad news from the real world about "market saturation" with Coca-Cola:

Another point. Are we talking about readers or editors here?

06:32, 16 April 2011
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