Talk:Strategic Plan/Movement Priorities

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Thread titleRepliesLast modified
Cultural Bias and TV Articles300:13, 4 November 2011
Encourage Diversity: For people with disabilities800:12, 4 November 2011
Date has Expired202:08, 20 September 2011
Quality301:47, 20 September 2011
Revised the section on stabilizing infrastructure501:39, 20 September 2011
Encourage Innovation - specific goals810:02, 20 May 2011
Incentives013:04, 25 April 2011
" Without a healthy and diverse community of participants, the quality of our content will suffer."1123:38, 28 February 2011
I think instead of looking ahead 5 years we should look ahead 6 months because wikipeida could change beyond notice in that ammount of time519:49, 22 October 2010
Death anomalies table306:00, 30 August 2010
diversity9404:17, 11 August 2010
Attracting new editors1209:08, 26 July 2010
Concrete priorities1000:06, 9 July 2010
Reduce Content Gaps and Improve Global Coverage1118:18, 20 July 2010
Edit review request216:50, 6 July 2010
"Community Health" measures821:39, 1 July 2010
Interproject collaboration007:52, 1 July 2010
simplified theory of change122:40, 29 June 2010
re-ordering the goals?222:39, 29 June 2010
A couple of concerns118:52, 21 June 2010
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Cultural Bias and TV Articles

I have been reading the comments about cultural bias, and, while researching some articles for Wikipedia, I have noticed something that you may not have considered concerning TV articles. In regards to television programs' overseas premiere dates, ratings, and reviews, the bias toward US and/or UK television shows may be unintentional. Availability of information on foreign media sites and a lack of knowledge of reliable media resources hinder some contributors' addition of vital information from foreign sources.

With some shows, the only primary and secondary sources available to Wikipedia contributors are US and UK news articles listed on major search engines. Pertienent information about the show in other countries do not frequently appear in the main search engines' top 20 pages. If the foreign articles exist, they may be buried deep within the English-language/American/British results (e.g., result #709.697 out of 1.000.000), or they may be in a language which the contributor's web browser does not support. Looking up the show by country when searching is one solution. It, however, takes a long period of time to search all 200+ nations for references to the series. When a contributor is in the process of a Featured Article review, searching each country individually becomes a disadvantage as the review process occur quickly.

In addition, if contributors find the online articles, the contributors may not know which foreign web sites could be reliable sources for additional information about a show's appeal or dislike. The American and British contributors know, or have some idea, of their reliable sources, but they may be unfamiliar with, for example, Zambia's major newspapers or television networks. The same could be said of international contributors writing about US/UK articles. One solution is to research the name of the media organization. Finding a reliable assessment of the sources sometimes means trusting Wikipedia's infomation about the source, as the encyclopedia is a trusted informational source for even contributors.

As I have stated, I have seen this firsthand. I have been researching the Numb3rs episode articles on Wikipedia since August 2009, and I am still working on them when I have the time. I would like to include the overseas premiere dates, ratings, and reviews for the episodes, but I have been unable to find any information from other nations. I know that there are articles about the series on other countries' media sites, but I do not know where to look for that information. Also, I had to research one source on Wikipedia to see if it was reliable since I had never heard of the site. (Gratefully, my source was reliable, and I was able to use the information in my article.) Being unable to complete my articles because of a lack of reliable sources should not be the case.

In an ideal world, contributors should be able to find the articles easily in reliable international sources. This is not an ideal world. A lack of information and/or a lack of knowledge about informational sources are not easy to overcome, especially when one bears the burden of writing accurate articles. Contributors' television articles would have to be incomplete in terms of cultural bias until they could find additional articles in reliable international media resources.

22:16, 17 September 2011
It is a fact though that the English lanuage Wikipeida has more articles then any other lanuage Wikipeida, the 3,735,000+ articles the english wikipedia has is more then any other lanuage which is why perhaps the English lanuage has more articles in English regarding countries that speak a foreign lanuage then a foreign lanuage country has English articles? Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 02:15, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
02:15, 20 September 2011

Mcjakeqcool, I was not referring to the English Wikipedia or to any other Wikipedia site. I was referring to the newspaper articles, magazine articles, and websites which we Wikipedians use as sources for our articles. Most of the time, we can find only the English-language sites as we research our articles. Sorry if I confused you.SciGal 21:13, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

21:13, 22 September 2011
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 01:09, 30 October 2011

@SciGal I research articles about information on the internet for purposes of editing wikipedia by using foreign Google search engines but I know what you mean about having less info about specific things I get the feeling it's because there is a smaller ammount of websites that are not in English then there are in English and the foreign lanuage articles are more recently starting to catch up which I think is why it is more harder to find non-English language sites then English 1s but it's other sites on the world web that are lacking info rather then info is what you're saying? I agree with that but there are definitely less Non-English articles then English articles on Wikipedia due to there being less sources avalible not in English due to there not being a smaller base of people who use the web who don't talk English then who do talk English. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 20:08, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

20:08, 29 October 2011

Encourage Diversity: For people with disabilities

The chart is showing contributors by age, gender, education, relationship and family. But what about disabilities? Blind and deaf users benefit greatly from the internet and could so from Wikimedia projects. But we have no figures on them. I strongly encourage making Proposal:Create an accessibility committee a top priority.

16:31, 5 May 2010

Serving the disabled is indeed important. Are you talking about a formal committee or an ad hoc group of volunteers. If the latter, I'd encourage you to form a Task force. You can do a lot of preliminary research, and you could easily formalize later.

21:05, 5 May 2010

I’m rather thinking about a formal committee. We started some kind of taskforce already, the Wikimedia Accessibility Initiative, and there always have been local initiatives. But volunteers can only do so much. Accessibility needs to be incorporated in the official strategy, we need people dedicated to this full-time.

06:42, 6 May 2010

I'm glad there's a committee already; it's an excellent first step, and I'm looking forward to seeing what emerges from it.

I hope that this group will think at a movement-level. In other words, don't just think about what the Wikimedia Foundation can do to improve accessibility. Think about what partners the community at large could do.

22:51, 11 May 2010

It would be interesting to explore what solutions people with disabilities could benefit from, and how such solutions could be implemented.

10:54, 6 May 2010

Indeed. For example, I am thinking about sign language avatars or videos to make Wikipedia articles accessible to deaf users. But in order to come up with improvements, we first have to acknowledge that we are lacking accessibility for a lot of users, then we have to get experts on this matter and let them investigate with real users with disabilities. The same way you involve users into usability testing. We can all make educated guesses, but that won’t help much. The WMF could either hire accessibility professionals and/or cooperate with companies such as The Paciello Group or SSB BART Group and organizations such as the American Foundation for the Blind.

11:07, 6 May 2010

As I said to Seb35 on Proposal_talk:Create_an_accessibility_committee. I think there is a great opportunity here to create a task force for exploring what such a committee would do!

20:31, 6 May 2010

Local accessibility projects (mostly en:Wikipedia:WikiProject accessibility and fr:Wikipédia:Atelier accessibilité) provided enough examples of what volunteers can do about accessibility. The community plays a central role in accessibility as they are the one to produce most of the content. And the community proved to be able to make accessible contributions when given appropriate tools and guidelines.

But it also pointed out the limits of a solely volunteer and community driven approach. The community lack expertise about accessibility, so project members are making a lot of mistakes and are not thorough enough. The English speaking WikiProject accessibility needs to be lead by an accessibility expert in order to do a good job.

MediaWiki's accessibility is not being improved. Developers cannot make accessible developments without the help from an accessibility expert, and are often making mistakes that worsen accessibility (for example, Vector was a huge regression in accessibility). And when they are given good advices, they often lack time to actually improve accessibility (even when the changes are easy to make). There is a need to employ an accessibility expert. The accessibility expert would provide advice to developers during the developments process, in order to conform to the most important accessibility requirements early in the developments process. The accessibility expert would also work on top priority accessibility improvements to MediaWiki and enable users to produce accessible content (en:ATAG approach).

In conclusion: we already made enough progress within the community. Now we need involvement from the WikiMedia Foundation in order to do a good job.

20:21, 19 September 2010

If the disability is mental and makes 1 understand less then simple english wikipeida serves for that. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 23:17, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

23:17, 30 December 2010

Date has Expired

At the introduction of the article, it says, "... so that we may finalize this draft by the end of May 2010". As a reader, I look at this and feel like I am reading outdated material. Can this portion be revised and, if necessary, include an update on whether a draft has indeed been published (since it is well beyond May 2010)? I'm sure a draft has been created, but as an honest, lazy reader, I do not want to spend the extra time to go searching for it -- and I imagine there are more of me out there.

04:39, 17 August 2011

Good point. I don't know what others think of this yet but I think it def. needs updating or rewriting.

16:44, 23 August 2011

I think it is time that the Wikipedian community who contribute to the land in this area of Wikipedia slaughter some more chickens so there can be some fresh meat processed into southern fried chicken which can be distributed - the wikipedian editors need to edit this section of strategy.wikimedia so it is up to date and fit for purpose but wikipeidans need to work together and share there're southern fried chicken with each over to achieve there're goals an move forward in this part of wikipeida by making edits n answering other User's questions. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 02:08, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

02:08, 20 September 2011

Added the following to the "Quality" goal and rationale, reflecting a key finding of the Quality taskforce:

Goal - Editorial processes to minimize quality lapses and ensure all articles meet some minimal standard are developed.
Rationale - While quality is hard to metricize, a key finding was that Wikimedia is far more likely to be judged in the public eye by its lapses or failings, however few, than by its successes. Attending to substandard material (including a simple baseline that all content should be able to reach and maintain within a short period after creation) is likely to be disproportionately valuable and create a perception of reassurance to readers. Substandard and fledgling content is also considerably easier to detect and easier for most editors to improve, compared to mature content.

FT2 (Talk | email)

07:16, 1 July 2010

continuous quality improvement process

i would like to see more proactive processes and actions.

for example the BLP case: rather than tag unreferenced BLP's until the number increases until there is a "crisis", implement a contest, process, team to edit BLP's to include references. this could be rolled out for all tags: tags are a suboptimal solution; better to recognize and fix as we go along in a continuous process.

train and mentor editors to include better formating, references, writing in articles. increasing the fledgling from stub level to C level from the beginning.

i would hope that the perception problem is not an excuse for putting out fires rather than fire prevention. merely monitoring new pages does nothing to improve the heritage content

14:41, 6 July 2010

Quality is important, usually measurement is involved in helping us assess how we are doing against our goals (KPIs). Sharing the progress graphically for quick comprehension of where we are in terms of rolling averages and against forecasts is useful and can help people see the macro (big) impact each of us individually makes to the whole, can increase engagement, loyalty and motivation. MikeBeckett 10:08, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

10:08, 20 May 2011

Remember people, there is NO "crisis" in Wikipeida today, just "chicken". Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 01:47, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

01:47, 20 September 2011

Revised the section on stabilizing infrastructure

I've been carefully sifting through the discussions over the past month, and I'm starting to revise the priorities page based on this feedback and my own thoughts. I just did a pass on stabilizing infrastructure and would love feedback.

I made one structural change and two significant content changes. Structurally, I split measures to "Key Indicators" and "Possible Targets." I think this is a better way to organize our goals, and unless there's strong objection or a better alternative, I plan on doing this with all of the priorities.

My content changes were:

  • I reworked the paragraph on financial stability to make it clear that revenues need to grow. This was very clear from the research of the Financial Sustainability Task Force and their subsequent recommendations.
  • I modified the measures significantly to account for these changes.

Let me know your thoughts.

23:18, 14 June 2010

«Wikimedia's revenue should increase significantly»: I don't understand why this is under "Stabilize Infrastructure" goal; it doesn't make any sense, because this is an underlying goal for the WMF to be able to do what it is supposed to do. Or rather, it suggests that this is the only area when the WMF is going to actually allocate resources, while e.g. I think that WMF should invest on innovation (usability, new features etc.).

19:03, 15 August 2010
03:09, 16 August 2010
I have seen relatively noticeable changes on both Wikipeida and Wikia. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 00:11, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
00:11, 20 January 2011

it makes long time i was looking for and first time i find something talking about the infrastructure of wikimedia / wikipedia. maybe it is not the exact place to tell my words, and if not please give the best place because i did not find it out.

Wikimedia projects are built to be open and shared by users.

But the infrastructure still is very centralised as it is runned as the standard model of online applications : organization owned and runned serveurs and CDN.

for sure the application as to be runned on a secured serveur, for edition and logged contributors.

Concerning static caching and CDN

maybe in a future, some peer to peer option could be integrated so that wikimedia contributors can allows a part of their own machine to hold for this static data.

Even if it is only for archive save.

This would allow us to feel more implicated in the support of the project and this might be also a support of the project for little cost.

Is there any plan for such peer to peer CDN development for the future ?

22:09, 19 August 2011

Well this is my User page you could have asked at say Talk:Main Page/en or even strategic Planning:Site issues but though I notice that the editing system has changed in certain parts of our Wikipedia world giving options of newer generation formatted or orignal source text but I do notice that in this area of Wikipeida these parts are called Strategy.wikimedia I cannot find any contributions from you Lebrunxavier neither is your User credited to creating your own User talk so perhaps that is something that could be edited by another peer to another peer, for peer to peer to develop though you have to use word of mouth to other wikipeidans like editing other User's talk pages like you did myne to leave a message and just carry on editing to expand the Wikipeidan planet from each peer to the next peer, the more peers share contributions with other Users the more wiki:love is shown between the Wikipedian community and the more southern fried chicken is sold. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 01:39, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

01:39, 20 September 2011

Encourage Innovation - specific goals

Someone seems to be very into google and aardvark (two mentions). I am a little confused by the substance - I was quite happy with the way in which 'hotmail circa '96 worked' and don't see how it or 'word 2010' applies. What are the specifics of this - I'd say myself WSYWIG is part of it - better workflow tools, applications for latest mobile devices ( including editing ability! ). We need some definitives, not some general 'looks more like'. May I suggest something like 'Interface is easy and intuitive to use, with a number of innovative power tools to hand - Both for Reading and editing'.. Measures could be 'number of questions on how to use the interface reduced', 'Number of outstanding feature requests'.

17:32, 6 May 2010

I moved the list as it was when I came here to this discussion instead, because I agree it really needs specification of what's good with those examples, because it would be too radical to change the Wikipedia interface entirely to that of any of these:

  • Measures [How will we know we have achieved the above goal?]:
    • Measure: In 2015 Wikipedia is more usable because it acts more like Microsoft Word 2010 or Google Docs or Google Wave than it does Hotmail circa 1996.
    • Measure: In 2015 Wikimedia looks more like a mix of Aardvark (the company Google bought) and an MMORPG in that it automatically suggests activities that new members would be interested in such as contributing to certain pages or parts of certain projects. This would give Wikimedia better flow and hopefully help one-time contributors become active contributors.

Personally, I don't even remember Hotmail circa 1996, and I doubt that the part of the population that is less nerdy than me could familiarize with these examples very well.

And the sentence "What about using something like this for discussing what features should be built?", I think it belongs to this discussion, so I moved it here as well. I appreciate if it could be specified exactly what parts of that discussion are applicable and useful for Wikipedia as well.

07:07, 8 May 2010

I'm concerned about the innovation goals as well.

For me, I'd like to see Wikimedia adopt a culture of innovation. Specifically, that means encouraging experimentation and evaluation rather than discussing things to death and suffering from analysis paralysis.

There are a few possible ways of measuring this:

  • An open infrastructure for testing features and measuring their impact, sort of like an open Google Labs, where the community could see the impact of these measurements. A great example of this is what the Foundation does with its fundraising banner stats. Another good example is the opt-in beta process from the usability initiative.
  • Projects started and spun-out/ended. A healthy ecosystem should have both.
  • Experiments in general. One of my favorites is w:User:WereSpielChequers/Newbie treatment. Anyone can do experiments like these, and they result in data, not just opinions.


18:32, 12 May 2010

I agree that something like an experimental arena would be nice. At the bottom of there are backstage wikis like Wikimedia Laboratories and the Incubator. I haven't looked much into them, but they have the potential to play bigger roles.

17:01, 15 June 2010

Thoughtful edits, Eekim. However, I still consider an interface for WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing as a top priority, in order to reach out to the vast majority of the world population that is not familiar with editing in wiki code. Or is there perhaps a more appropriate place to highlight tech details?

07:37, 17 June 2010

WYSIWYG is definitely a top priority, but it is a tactical priority that will help us with the goal of improving participation. As such, I don't think it belongs under the movement's strategic priorities.

I also should note that the Wikimedia Foundation tech team has identified WYSIWYG as a near term priority. I hope they'll publish their plans on this wiki very soon.

22:28, 17 June 2010

I hope so too.

I also agree with your comment below, but something tells me you might have intended to put it in another discussion.

06:39, 30 June 2010

Totally agree with this. In order to encourage experimentation, we'll need to have better spaces for that.

For all of the heat that some of the smaller projects have taken, they have been some of the most innovative and experimental. We've borrowed a number of innovations that emerged from English Wikinews here on strategy wiki, for example. I think that this wiki has been innovative as well. From this standpoint, smaller wikis have a huge role to play. It's a bit easier to be innovative, because consensus is easier to reach. There's also a responsibility, however, to document and evangelize successful experiments.

22:27, 17 June 2010


I would like some feedback on the idea that some creative thinking is needed about the incentives for people to contribute to Wikimedia activities. It seems that people contribute because of both cooperative and reputational incentives. Do you think that there is scope for encouraging participation and the quality of participation in these endeavours by examining both of these types of incentives more completely?

I have been wondering about the potential role for Wikiversity in particular to better capitalise on aligning these incentives.A system of statistics that kept track of contributions to the development of an online syllabus, and links between teaching materials with performance on online tests could help align cooperative and reputational incentives. For example, people have a reputational incentive to demonstrate their knowledge by achieving well on online tests provided via Wikiversity. If statistics are kept linking a person's use of various teaching material to their achievement on an online test, a reputational incentive is also created for teachers or lecturers to contribute to the development of useful teaching material online (Wikipedia pages?). This provides teachers or lecturers with a performance indicator, relevant to their employment.

Other performance indicators for lecturers as potential contributors would include statistics tracking whether their journal articles are cited in Wikipedia articles, Wikiversity syllabi and the like. Reputational incentives could be enhanced with statistics appearing on a person's Facebook status. Some creative thinking in this area could go a long way.

Anyway, I would be interested to hear others' thoughts about whether examining the incentives and creating new systems of incentives might help meet a number of strategic objectives .

13:04, 25 April 2011

" Without a healthy and diverse community of participants, the quality of our content will suffer."

I don't expect you to change your focus, but I've not seen any evidence of the apparent cornerstone of this thing being true. On en, I've seen a ton of hard work from a small amount of mostly white, mostly male, mostly young, mostly from developed countries, mostly etc. editors improve the heck out of a ton of articles. I'll give you "healthy", but I don't think diversity has helped this project much. It would be nice, but various things that you can't change stand in the way, like our combative culture that seems OK to men but not women. So, you may want to focus on reality instead of platitudes, or you may not. Saying we value diversity while doing the same ol same ol is probably the best course available to us. Else, some real drastic changes and thinking are required.

One thing I would love to see is cross wiki watchlisting, since I'll have no idea if anyone ever replies to this since I spend my time on en. Anyways, carry on.

05:29, 5 May 2010

I think this is a fair criticism. I don't know if I'd agree with it. But it points to a bigger issue: no one has any data on this issue. We were supposed to have a reader conversion task force, but it seemed to fall apart. So no one has actually been able to point to instances where diversity has undermined Wikimedia's content quality. Maybe they're out there, but nobody has given it an honest search.

Mind you, it's safe to say that a lack of diversity may be undermining Wikimedia's growth. There's only so many young middle class white guys in the world.

05:34, 5 May 2010

"Quality of our content will suffer" doesn't imply that young, white men from the developing world can't write quality content. It implies that a multiplicity of views is required to reach a certain standard of quality, and that we aren't achieving that now and won't unless we have more diversity. Perhaps this can be reworded to clarify.

Regarding data, I think it would be good to track this to the best of our ability. The best data we have on diversity is the UNU-MERIT study, which has well-known problems. There's been no work done to my knowledge linking diversity to the current lack of quality on any of the Wikimedia projects. However, let's not get too caught up with data. Wikimedia is built on the premise that a multiplicity of views represented in an open, shared space will lead to high-quality content. If we're suffering in this regard (as we our), it makes sense to prioritize this.

Finally, regarding reality vs platitudes. We can make Wikimedia more diverse. There are many things that could be done, and by calling it out as a priority, we will hopefully galvanize people to take on some of these ideas.

21:29, 5 May 2010
Edited by 2 users.
Last edit: 20:52, 7 February 2011

There is nothing wrong with encouraging diversity but to a very large extent, discussing this is a big waste of time. It would be a major mistake to devote money and resources to investigate this. There are good reasons why the cross section of society that contributes to Wikipedia is the way it is. Regarding some of those demographics mentioned:

  • People with children are spending their time with their children. So unless the Wikimedia Foundation is willing to offer baby-sitting, expect that people with children will be under-represented.
  • Too many singles contributing? It's not too hard to figure out why: they are hanging out with their partner. Let me tell you, between editing Wikipedia and having sex, people are going to choose sex a lot more often.
  • Too many people with degrees contributing? It's not hard to figure out that those people know more and that's why they can contribute.
  • A disproportionate number of people from the developed world? Guess what?! That's who has the computers.
  • Regarding gender and age, these are complicated, but they are just the way things are and will be very difficult, if not impossible, to change. Those distributions' involvement may change as a result of society evolving but not because of us in any significant way.

Let us not forget the dark flip-side of this too: diversity can decrease the quality of the site in some situations. For instance, under-educated and younger populations will on average have lower quality edits than higher-educated and older populations. The point is that "diversity" isn't some magic thing that must be achieved and it has very little to do with the success of Wikipedia projects. The whole topic is mostly just a politically correct waste of time. The truth is simple: a certain fraction of the people who have the time and ability will contribute to Wikipedia. The current set of editors represents those people in proper proportion to their demographics.

Diversity should often be encouraged and there are easy ways to make some gains (e.g., an occasional link at the top of Wikipedia to a special note addressed to women encouraging them to participate more and explaining why would be an excellent way to reach out to women) but very little change is going to occur and not much effort should be spent on it.

02:49, 7 May 2010

Diversity within Wikipedia is unlikely to happen before it becomes a better environment for more of its editors.

The culture currently is suited to the comfort of its majority editorial population - single, white, men - often with a belief in their intellectual superiority and having the time and energy to devote to combat with any editors who challenge their view of themselves. That makes Wikipedia an unpleasant working environment for a lot of women... and also for the many men who aren't comfortable with socially combative environments.

The lack of diversity on Wikipedia may represent in some areas the state of society. But as far as gender diversity goes - and possibly age but I don't know enough to comment on that - it definitely reflects a male-orientated, combative culture. Since there are many areas of the net not dominated by this kind of culture - Project Gutenberg for example - changing this culture and the lack of diversity resulting from it is definitely a realistic goal for Wikipedia.

13:10, 8 May 2010

I'm curious, do you know any stats on Project Gutenberg and their diversity?

15:22, 8 May 2010
Edited by 0 users.
Last edit: 11:03, 9 May 2010

Sorry, should have clarified that the statement was purely subjective personal experience - and back in the 90's at that. I volunteered with Project Gutenberg for several years working on editing previously scanned in documents. The culture there was not combative or male-orientated in my (obviously limited) experience... but whether that was reflected in gender-diversity or any other kind of diversity I couldn't say - though I'll see if I can track down any stats. On Wikipedia I'm very aware of my gender - and my English reserved nationality! - in a way that didn't seem to be at all relevant there. I'd guess that the delayed publishing and hierarchy in editorial process helped with that. Things that probably couldn't be applied to Wiki - although the editors with admin privilleges go some way towards that and I'd personally like to see more of them around to create more leadership within the community. There may be other ways in which Gutenberg manage their volunteers that might provide useful pointers. If you're interested I'll go see what I can dredge up.


11:03, 9 May 2010

Yeah, I'm very interested. A lot of open source projects involve some friction and push-and-pull. So I'm curious which ones have been more welcoming. This is somewhat related to gender, but it's much bigger than that really.

16:21, 9 May 2010

I do not share your view, Dakinijones, and I feel strongly that it is deeply misguided. The idea that Wikipedia has a "combative" culture has taken a life of its own and, unfortunately, does not represent reality well. My experiences have been anything but combative and I encounter more people who are helpful, nice, and intelligent than those who are rude or ignorant. In that respect, Wikipedia is not much different than real life. Disagreements and even arguments naturally arise when collaborating on something. Nothing will change this and it has nothing to do with gender. It has a lot to do with people being passionate about making a good encyclopedia and sometimes that passion spills over. I believe strongly that Wikipedia is not much more "combative" than any other free and open collaborative project.

Suppose there existed a wiki-style encyclopedia edited only by women. Would this be some wonderful utopia where people do nothing but smile and sing while writing articles and then send each other baked brownies when they are done? We both aren't naive enough to believe that. My suggestion is that such an encyclopedia would be roughly just as "combative" as the current Wikipedia.

There's one last aspect of this that I want to mention. It's that part of the perceived "combativeness" arises from the success of Wikipedia producing a high-quality product. As the bar has been raised in terms of quality, it stands to reason that less people can make beneficial contributions. When these people have their edits reverted, they feel a sense of hostility from the other editors who have "blocked their additions". By definition, these editors are unaware that their additions lowered the quality of the article; and thusly the label of "hostile" or "combative" is unfairly achieved.

The notion that Wikipedia is excessively combative is a cancer. I passionately hate it because it is unfairly slanderous and largely without merit beyond what is to be expected.

15:36, 9 May 2010

I appreciate your point, Jason.

Dan Kahneman gave a wonderful talk at TED this past year. He noted that there's an important distinction between our experience and our recollection of that experience.

He shared an example of patients undergoing colonoscopies, a generally unpleasant experience (or so I hear). He noted that people who had longer procedures that ended comfortably recalled a more pleasant experience than those who had shorter procedures that ended uncomfortably. This, of course, does not map to the reality of the experience.

We have to be careful not to let our recollection of our experiences on Wikimedia projects unfairly color our actual experiences. I suspect that most people have a largely positive experience here, but the bad experiences are the ones that stick. To the extent that we can reverse this, we should, but self-awareness is the first step toward improvement.

21:42, 11 May 2010

We seem to agree that some level of diversity is critical for quality, and that we should aim for more diversity than we already have.

Your point seems to be that we should be realistic in regards to our expectations over what level of diversity is possible or even desirable. If that's a fair representation of your point, then I agree with it.

However, I think your analysis of leisure time is too simplistic. Over 10 million people visit FarmVille on Facebook every single day, and they are not all young, single men. You might argue that those people are not the type of people we'd want contributing to Wikimedia, although I'm not sure there's hard evidence of that either. Anecdotally, I know several people who play FarmVille regularly who would be great Wikimedia contributors.

The biggest point I'd like to make is that we shouldn't make the current diversity of our contributors for granted. We can make a difference. It starts by making a strong statement that diversity is important, then by following through on the low-hanging fruit for improving it. Moreover, let's be systematic in testing ideas and measuring their impact. It's easy to have opinions about all of these potential measures. Let's try them and see the actual impact, so that we're not just relying on opinions.

21:38, 11 May 2010

Well if not the quality of wikipedia, User: has certainly made a impact on some of the quality of wikimedia and to thank him making the community in Talk:Strategic Plan/Movement Priorties more 'healthy and diverse' I will thank and also keep people healthy by offering piping hot chicken with extra helping of Wiki:Love. Mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool 23:38, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

23:38, 28 February 2011

I think instead of looking ahead 5 years we should look ahead 6 months because wikipeida could change beyond notice in that ammount of time

I think instead of looking ahead 5 years we should look ahead 6 months because wikipeida could change beyond notice in that ammount of time, for instance I would doubt that it would have been concived that Jack Tweed has a article 6 months ago.

21:53, 8 May 2010

Sure. There's no question that we have to look both at the near future and the distant future. There's a pretty fantastic process overview that goes into some of these questions at this page.

16:43, 11 May 2010

I could not concieve changes to wikipeida more then 6 months into the future.

11:46, 26 May 2010

This is tactical thinking. Wikimedia will be what we make it to be in 5 years or 6 months. Strategy is all about defining a desirable future state and then making it happen. Don't let someone else decide what Wikimedia is in 6 months or 5 years because you won't like it. That's our job!

23:15, 28 May 2010


05:14, 29 May 2010

We can all decide together what wikipeida will be like more then 6 months in the future, but hopefully and most likley it will have a simalar function also purpose. But wikimedia can work towards achieve this for wikipeida.

19:49, 22 October 2010

Death anomalies table

m:Death anomalies table doesn't seem so important to be considered a key priority or measure of success...

18:15, 15 August 2010

This may come from Task force/Recommendations/Wikipedia Quality 1 (global projects).

04:42, 16 August 2010

Agree, not core for this level of report.

FT2 (Talk | email)

14:13, 22 August 2010

Ok, I've removed it. Other comments?

09:05, 24 August 2010

The male-female split on Wikipedia is almost inexcusable. I know that there's a lot of gender inequality around the world in general, but we can do a lot better.

But as for the other factors... are we sure that these are actually diversity issues? Common sense is kicking in, and it's telling me that people with no kids just have more time. People without partners just have more time. People in their early 20s just have more time. I'd even go so far as to say that people in academia just have more time.

I'm not sure if other people agree... but rather than arguing about it, it might be helpful to actually get some data about people's time use. Ask people with partners how much time they spend with them. Ask people with kids how much time they spend with them. See if we can find a correlation between someone's education status and how much time they're at work -- actually working.

Still, I agree more diversity is important. Just that it would probably need to focus more on ethnicity and gender.

21:44, 13 April 2010

I'm going to actually dispute this, while trying to find data: The quilting community (they're hot on my mind right now because they do online community building really really really well, and I went with Jay Walsh to a quilting show this weekend to see how it happens IRL) does a tremendous amount of stuff online: and their demographic is almost exactly opposite ours. When you hold the two against each other, I'm not sure the "no time/more time" argument holds water. :)

but Yeah, we need data.

21:53, 13 April 2010

Yeah, I freely admit that I'm going on "common sense", which is often wrong. I'm pretty busy these days. But let's try to find some data to understand what a reasonable level of parity might look like.

23:44, 13 April 2010

I was really disappointed to see the statistics for Wikipedia only centered around "life" statistics: age, sex, relationship status, etc. There were no statistics for ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ( a big one) socioeconomic status.

I even noticed when I setup my information for this part of the site ( I am new), there was no place for them to collect almost any information. It's extremely hard to analyze information that is not being collected. It could just look like this(all optional to answer):

Would you like to tell us more about yourself? What is your Ethnic back ground? What would you consider your race? If you have a religion, what is it? What is your level of income?

05:10, 6 May 2010

I think we'd all like to see more stats like these. And I think there are opportunities for many groups, not just the Wikimedia Foundation, to do this type of research. For example, most of the current stats were collected by UNU-MERIT, an external organization. I think it was a good first effort with many opportunities for improvement.

A great example of research done with the Foundation and some folks on this wiki collaborating is the Former Contributors Survey Results. I would love to see many more folks organizing research efforts like these.

18:07, 12 May 2010

Let's separate this into two points. It sounds like we agree that diversity across the board is a good thing. The question is, what's the right number? For example, if you believe that single people have more time than married people, is it realistic to aim for a 50-50 split?

This is a hard question. It's worth looking at the data, but it's also important not to get lost in it. I would reframe it the following way: Can we create different opportunities to contribute to Wikimedia projects that require different amounts of time? For example, the cost of fixing a factual error in Wikipedia is a lot lower than it is to write a new article. If we can create ways to encourage activities that take less time, that may be a way to increase participation and improve diversity.

22:35, 26 April 2010

That's a really good point. I think we could attract volunteers who have less time to contribute, but it's a question of streamlining those tasks through stronger interface, and steering new users towards low commitment kinds of tasks.

It's actually the same problem that happens in MMOs. If there is stuff happening in the game every day, then how can the game be friendly to people who only have time to play on the weekends? Nobody likes checking in only to find that everything passed them by.

16:56, 27 April 2010

This is an interesting point about the diversity of editors, particularly the "part-time" editors as opposed to those who seemingly do Wikipedia as a full-time job.

One of my major complaints about Wikipedia is that the decision making process seems to fly by in about a week or so. For those with a short attention span and like to settle issues quickly, that may work, but for those of us who are older and have lives beyond Wikipedia, there are often discussions and "consensus building" decisions that fly by so quickly that often I don't even know about them until the "consensus" has been achieved. I put that word "consensus" in quotes because often consensus is not achieved... except for the obsessive/compulsive types or the full-time Wikipedia editors who have chimed in... and the few passers by that happened to see the discussion too.

I'll be honest here too, this is one of the reasons I have never even bothered to apply for adminship on Wikipedia, as I'm sure I would be shot down for my lack of participation and I don't want to become the full-time admin that some of these zealots insist upon. I have experience with the admin tools on other wiki projects, and I do enjoy some of the heavy lifting and grunt work that goes with access to those tools as well.

Still, what I hate even more is if I'm part way through some side project that I know will take some time to complete, and then some eager-beaver editor not only undoes that whole project but throws up a RfD, kills off the whole thing, and then leaves a rude message (if I'm lucky) on my user talk page. At the very least, this constant rush on decision making is one of the things that is such a turn-off for me on Wikipedia that I rarely even engage in policy decisions any more and certainly don't make any extra effort to see what is going on... as it seems as though my humble opinion on the matter will be treated as irrelevant. That is a turn-off and something that does drive editors away from the project.

13:08, 5 May 2010

This is a really thoughtful reply. I hope other people read it.

19:28, 5 May 2010

I agree with Randomran, and I also agree with the essential point. We need to have multiple levels of contributions, and all levels need to be valued and respected.

21:52, 5 May 2010

Robert Horning, the dynamic that you describe plays itself out in various ways and definitely has an effect on the volunteer editor's level of participation in various tasks. And I think that we may be introducing bias into our decision making and our processes if we have allow them to be designed by our high volume contributors.

We need to find a way to include as many people as possible. One of the main reasons that women give me for not participating more is "too busy". I think that it is not so much a complete lack of time to make any edits but rather something more along the lines of the situations that you describe.

This problem was something that the Wikipedia English Arbitration Committee was faced with on a regular basis for our internal work. It is not a good practice to always have the decision making framed by the person with the most free time so it is important to put processes in places to make sure that the work is spread out across the broad spectrum of the group (be it a committee, wiki, or article).

09:57, 12 May 2010

FloNight, could you elaborate or give some examples from ArbCom? Dealing with the time differences and commitment differences between editors is a difficult part of consensus building and discussion. The squeakiest wheel usually gets the grease... or at least gets more attention than the other wheels.

15:28, 12 May 2010

Few years ago I did a set of interviews about women in Wikimedia projects:

There are a couple of more interviews which I didn't publish, but the general point is: Working on Wikipedia is extremely stressful. If you try to count female Wikimedians which you know, much more prominent female Wikimedians are not from Wikipedia, but from other projects and WMF/chapters: Commons, Wikisource, WMF, various chapters and committees.

There are some possible solutions:

  1. Make community much more friendly (this is a goal of the Community Health TF).
  2. Make new projects which would start with clear rules about aggression and attract women there.
  3. Social network is important, too. Participating in Wikimedia projects in the sense of causal activity should be more comfortable for women.

The point is that we will always have such split (between 8:2 and 9:1 males) if we don't have a stable basis for getting new female editors.

21:53, 3 May 2010

Thanks for posting the interviews. Interesting reading. I agree that changes are needed to attract more women and also to attract other people that WMF projects are missing.

22:13, 3 May 2010

(BTW, I should continue with interviews. Anyone who is willing to participate should take the interview :) )

22:18, 3 May 2010

I'd really appreciate some deeper analysis of the aggression people are talking about. I definitely think it's there. But it's so hard to point at a specific problem. Maybe if we could get women to talk about actual experiences, we might be able to figure out what kinds of aggression that we can reduce.

02:55, 4 May 2010

See [1] for the charming list of "warning messages" that some users like to apply with special little programs for the purpose. Note that only the first level, complete with a falsely cheery "Welcome to Wikipedia!", is actually written to assume good faith. I've seen a case (User:Hammy64000) in which an editor was hit with four of the level 3 templates over a few edits. Note also that one of the programs automatically escalates the level of warning based on previous warnings, so that no human being need even take responsibility for deciding not to assume good faith.

Once bitten, if the newbie lashes back (e.g. User:James dalton bell), he can then be indefinitely banned for "incivility" (e.g. for calling "control freaks" the people reverting his edits and leaving these templates rather than explaining themselves.)

Wikipedia needs to distinguish newbies and protect their articles from deletion immediately after creation (there's actually a template for that but no newbie knows about it). We need to have a period during which their policy violations are politely explained. And even afterward we need to distinguish between the flagrant policy violations of vandals or those hostile to the project and those made by people with fundamentally honorable intent.

21:21, 4 May 2010

For me, the best way to describe the situation in general is that it reminds me of the climate for females in organizations in past in the 1970s or 1980s. It is not just a matter of hostility in general, or hostility directed at females specifically, although those are a piece of the problem.

Some of the issues can be broken down and explained one at a time. But it is more the situation where the sum is greater than the parts.

22:14, 4 May 2010

I really would like to have more interviews. We know from the 2008 survey that there are few women contibuting to Wikipedia, but there might be more reasons for that than we imagine.

22:22, 5 May 2010

Speaking as a male, I feel the problem now is too many female editors.
As males, we assume every other editor is male. Therefore when someone damages our favourite article, we will naturally respond as males, namely that damage had to have been both intentional and malicious. Our testosterone is boiling over at this point.
Occasionally, in these cases, the editor was female, and the "damage" was inadvertent and unintentional.

I know from personal experience if you engage in a little friendly banter with a "male" counterpart who is actually female, all sorts of trouble will ensue. It never occurs to that female editor that I am a male who believes himself to be conversing with a second male.

I have thought for a long time that there is a very simple solution to this problem.
The IDs for female editors should be displayed in pink. Label the girls as girls.
Then the boys will know when they are dealing with a girl, and will respond accordingly, which is to say, more nicely.
Now the girls are being knocked about as though they are boys. They are not accustomed to that and they really don't like it.

02:48, 6 May 2010

Frankly, everyone should be treated with a little more respect. It's a very small subsection of males who respond to that kind of banter. And many men can play that game, but it doesn't mean that it leads to a more productive or enjoyable experience.

04:19, 6 May 2010 I thank you for your honesty - you describe exactly the culture that I meet on Wiki: guys having guy-type banter because they assume all editors are male. No malicious intention just an honest mistake. As a girl, I can tell you the pink label for girls thing just aint going to fly. Is there anything else Wiki could do to remind you that you are in a mixed environment? Pink labels for everyone, maybe? A reminder at the top of the editing box that this is a mixed gender environment so play nice?

11:23, 9 May 2010

Thank you and Dakinijones for telling about your personal experiences on wiki. Getting these type of first hand accounts is helpful. Taking the discussions from a theoretical to real life examples reminds us that this is not merely a process driven exercise but is in fact meant to make the community stronger and our end products (articles) better.

Some of our editors are elderly and are not accustom to having young people speak with disrespect to them and I see this cause problems sometimes. And people with professional degrees can be surprised when the discussion are not of a professional nature but rather more of a ruckus at times. So I agree with Randomran that showing all editors more respect is important.

10:11, 12 May 2010

Let me echo FloNight's thanks. I also think your point about the elderly is important. We need to hear more experiences like these.

One way to make this more clear is social features, specifically more detailed profile information with pictures/avatars that are more prominently displayed in the appropriate places. It would be an interesting experiment to see whether this affected people's behavior toward each other. I would definitely think twice about my choice of words if the person I was responding to looked like my grandmother.

See Proposal:Social Interaction Features for an expansion of these ideas.

18:17, 12 May 2010

I think we should focus more on people who understand the content (not the formatting) To put it into context, Im 15 and I am a newbie of formatting, although i understand entomology, herpetology and uncertainty systematics quite well, although formatting kind of eludes me, however many of my friends of the same age dont understand the concepts however they do understand the formatting. So i think the results of the survey are dependant on formatting rather than free time what do you think?

20:44, 5 May 2010

Hi Mike, and welcome! I think most of us would agree that in general, we want to encourage people to focus more on the content and less on the tools. We're not there yet, but we're working on it, and I'm sure there are other ways we can encourage this.

21:54, 5 May 2010

I agree with you totally Gus

15:30, 6 May 2010

Housewives with college degrees have lots of time and the skills to edit, they just are using them here.

19:06, 7 May 2010

I think it is very important to note that everyone has the same amount of time to edit Wikipedia: 24 hours a day. After that, everything is choice, driven by how we prioritize. What we're really talking about is pushing Wikipedia higher on people's priority list. When someone says "X group has more time" what they are really saying is that X group is more likely to have less high-priority time commitments, and this makes them able to prioritize Wikipedia in such a way that they can edit more than other groups. One would assume that a married 31-year-old female air traffic controller with three children will prioritize Wikipedia editing at such a level that it may not get a single minute in the average day. A 19-year-old college student majoring in IT might prioritize it higher.

So then your questions are:

  • How can we cause Wikipedia to be time-prioritized higher in general?
  • How can we cause Wikipedia to be time-prioritized higher in groups where we lack diversity?

A major question underlying the above is: What affects time-prioritization of Wikipedia against other time commitments?

I actually am the managing partner with a management consulting firm and would be happy to do some pro bono work for the Wikimedia Foundation in this research area if it is interested.

03:41, 8 May 2010

Thanks, Noraft. This is an important point.

It would be wonderful if you would do some research in this area. It would be even better if you could coordinate that with folks who are interested here on strategy wiki.

As a way to frame it, I'd encourage you to think about the Wikimedia movement as your client rather than the Foundation. This, after all, is about movement priorities.

18:20, 12 May 2010

That would be fine as well, as long as I'm coordinating with a person or group of people officially representing the movement in some way. I'll be attending the Wikimedia Manila annual meeting Friday. Maybe I'll bring it up.

19:09, 12 May 2010

I'd recommend coordinating via Village Pump, possibly creating a Task force. And yes, it would be great if you brought it up at the upcoming meeting.

21:56, 12 May 2010

It looks to me that this point

So then your questions are:
How can we cause Wikipedia to be time-prioritized higher in general?
How can we cause Wikipedia to be time-prioritized higher in groups where we lack diversity?

is exactly the wrong one. It assumes that Wikimedia is the centre of the world and that it is entitled to valuable time of valuable people.

If a time-pressed person would decide to devote some valuable time to a Wikimedia project this person is very likely to find that this was a pure waste as the valuable content added fell prey to the normal Wikimedia processes and is gone or perverted quickly.

The whole approach sounds very much like Greece struggling with a budget deficit, crying out "give us more money, we need it badly!"

Why not focus on a strategy that aims at achieving the goals of the movement, rather than on trying to poor "good time after bad time". - Brya 06:28, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

06:28, 13 May 2010

I am _so_ late to this conversation. But I am interested in this topic, so I will contribute anyway.

It's actually a fact that females, at every age, are more time-constrained than men. That's been repeatedly proven by all kinds of studies, including very rigorous time-journal-keeping ones. Essentially it's because females, on average, spend more time care-taking for other people than males do: looking after kids, looking after aged parents and other family members, and so forth. Women also typically spend more significantly time on housework than men do. I can't recall specifics, but typically in middle-class and upper-class families the gap is significant (hours per day); in working-class families the gap is still present, but slightly less so (essentially because the working-class man works more at home than the middle or upper class man, not because the working-class woman works less at home than middle or upper class women). This is all well-documented across many cultures. It is also well-documented that on average, men spend more time and money on their leisure activities than women do. So, upshot: it is definitely true that women have less time to edit the Wikimedia projects, relative to men. There may be some unusually egalitarian cultures in which that is less true than average (e.g., maybe the Scandinavian countries) -- but in general, it is a cultural fact.

Philippe's quilting example is about something else, I think -- and this is where it gets slightly more speculative. Women do obviously have _some_ time for leisure pursuits. And they are probably disproportionately expending it outside Wikimedia. (What I mean is, if the average man spends let's say 0.009% of his free time editing the Wikimedia projects, the average woman might spend 0.0000001% of hers. Those are made-up cartoon stats.) I assume that's because men and women are socialized to be motivated by different things, and the motivators that are offered by Wikimedia are disproportionately valued by men relative to women. It's easy to speculate about specifics:

  • In general, women are socialized to develop quilting-type skills rather than computer-type skills. People like doing stuff they're good at.
  • It is possible that quilting is a particularly female-friendly environment -- e.g., maybe it's considered okay to have kids around, so it blends more easily into some women's lives. Editing the Wikimedia projects might be tough with kids underfoot.
  • It is possible that quilting offers more of the social rewards that women have been trained to value -- e.g., friendship, companionship -- compared with Wikimedia.
  • Women are socialized to caretake for others. "Quilting" may offer opportunities for that -- bringing wine, sharing food. Wikimedia may be less conducive for caretaking.
  • Men are socialized to be comfortable with argument. Women are socialized to value harmony. "Quilting" may be less argumentative than "Wikimedia."
  • Men are socialized to be confident. Women are not. One of the major impediments cited by readers who do not edit is that they feel they have nothing to contribute. "Wikimedia" may require more confidence than "quilting."
  • Women, because they have more responsibilities inside the home (caretaking, housework) may feel less inclined to enjoy home-based leisure activities. Wikimedia editing is likely most done at home. For people with lots of home-based responsibilities, 'leisure' may mean leaving the house -- eg, maybe quilting at the house of a friend.
  • Women are socialized to value other people's opinions. Editing Wikimedia is still a non-mainstream pursuit. Quilting may receive, in general, more social approval.
  • We know that people like to do things that they perceive as also done by "people like them." Therefore, if Wikimedia editing is majority male, that creates a vicious circle in which women likely perceive it as not done by "people like me" -- thereby making them less likely to do it.

This list is super-fast and not entirely serious, but you get my drift. Basically, I am saying that there is a boatload of real-world, outside-our-control reasons why women edit less than men. Because they have more demands on their time than men do, because they place a lower priority on their own leisure activities than men do, and because the rewards of editing Wikimedia are non-intentionally (not by design) are more appealing to men, in general, than women. Therefore, it seems to me that we will never achieve 50-50 editing parity: there are too many factors at play that we cannot influence. But, I do believe we can tweak our incentive structure, buy offering more rewards for women to edit, where possible, and taking away impediments to women editing, where possible. That would, I hope, bring us closer to balance.

Some quick examples of rewards:

  • Create messaging asking people to help us. In general, women are socialized to respond to requests for help.
  • Do more thanking -- more barnstars, etc. In general, women are socialized to appreciate being thanked.
  • Offer more opportunity for interpersonal relationship building. Offer mentors, meet-ups, etc. In general, women are socialized to enjoy personal interactions.

Some quick examples of impediments:

  • Continue removing usability barriers. Women are socialized to be less tech-comfortable than men.
  • Reduce curtness, especially with new editors. Women are socialized to be un-confident, to obey the rules, and to value harmony. Disharmony disproportionately drives away women.
  • Find ways to support varying levels of time engagement. This is discussed I think elsewhere in this thread, and it makes sense. If women are time-constrained, and Wikimedia rewards heavy investment of time, that will disproportionately disincentivize women's participation.

Final caveat: I'm talking about women in general; nothing I have said here is necessarily true of any one particular woman. Women vary widely; men do too.

Sorry this is so long -- LOL. I came to the strategy wiki to engage on the goals/priorities conversations, and got sidetracked here even though the conversation's really old! I'll participate more in the goals conversation over the coming few days, I hope.

20:38, 15 June 2010

ha! I just reread Philippe's quilting comment, and he was actually talking about _online_ quilting communities, which debunks all my face-to-face stuff. But most of what I wrote is still generally applicable, I think :-)

20:43, 15 June 2010
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 21:09, 15 June 2010

I think you're right it is still applicable. I also think the face to face stuff is important as well. With no scientific (or for that matter very unscientific) studies I do feel that the women who are in the community tend to value "personal" interaction more. Whether that's meetups, skype, IRC or just personal email conversations I feel they like to understand a bit more about the people they are working with then the men do.

The combination of online work with some offline interaction (even rarely) can increase the trust and respect level greatly. Of course that's speaking very broadly and there are obvious exceptions, as a man for example I highly prefer a lot of those personal connections as well. I know you had a post on Foundation-l... oh a month or so ago about how you had met one of the commentators people thought was being rude/abusive and therefore looked at him a different way because you had seen him to be much less so in person. I think it is things like that that are great examples. I know that I felt much more connected to the community after my first meetup and I think more interaction like that could be good both for women and men. Editing to replace sig, edited logged out

Jamesofur 21:04, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

21:02, 15 June 2010

Thanks Jamesofur; I agree with you.

And it's funny -- I wouldn't necessarily say that the women currently active on Wikimedia are particularly representative of their gender. (I hope that in saying that, I am being offensive to neither the women on Wikimedia, nor women in general ;-)

I do think it's possible that --even so--- some of them may, sometimes, display gender characteristics that are overrepresented among women generally -- e.g., as you say. they may be better at personal interaction. But I don't think we can assume they are generally representative of their gender.

Which is totally fine. In my view, the women active on Wikimedia today are in a similar position to the women who were starting to break through corporate glass ceilings in the eighties. (My mother was one of those --she was the first female principal in her public school board--, and I've worked with plenty of them -- they were all one generation ahead of me, so they were typically my bosses and sometimes mentors.)

There were a couple of things about those women that seemed to me to be characteristic // common to them all.

1) They weren't representative of 'typical' women. It's hard to define or even imagine what a typical woman is, but regardless, by definition, those early pathbreakers were unusual. For many, that meant they were unusually smart or dedicated or focused. (One of them, the first female mayor of a major Canadian city, had this line: "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult." Ha ha.) And some of them had characteristics that made them more-easily-integrated into corporate-male-majority circles, relative to more gender-typical women. For example, they might have a personal style that tended more towards authoritative than warm.... they might be more inclined to show anger rather than fear ..... they might tend to be less harmony-focused and less conflict-averse ..... they might like sports, or pretend to like sports, etc. etc. etc.

Similarly, I would say the women currently active on Wikimedia might overrepresent "typical Wikimedian" characteristics, more-so than "typically female" characteristics.

2) Those pathbreaking women in the eighties were often expected to represent all women and women's interests, which many of them _really_didn't want to do. They wanted to be perceived and evaluated based on their unique skills and characteristics and qualities. But because there were so few of them, they were often expected to represent all women, which many of them resented. (The same is true for any 'diversity' characteristic, of course: at the CBC for example, journalists from visible minority backgrounds often struggled with expectations that they would have special insight into their community-of-ethnic-origin -- which many did not have, and did not want to develop.) It was complicated: they wanted more women around in part so they would themselves be normalized... but they did not necessarily want to make increasing-female-representation their own focus of work.

I think the same thing is true, to some extent, for women on Wikimedia. Probably most would be uncomfortable speaking on behalf of 'all women,' and I expect that many of them would be happy to have a large volume of female participation in the projects, because it would free them to be 'just a person,' rather than 'unusual due to gender.' Free software communities talk a fair bit about this issue --- for example, in this classic essay by Val Henson here:

I am not disagreeing with anything you said, just commenting a little -- I will probably stop banging on about gender here soon, but I do find these issues really interesting :-)

20:08, 16 June 2010

I would really love for someone to do a true systematic study of motivations and barriers for both male and female contributors. I know that Wikisym this year is talking about having a meeting about researching Wikipedia; maybe I can find an ethnographer or something that I can really push towards this.  :-)

20:27, 16 June 2010
Edited by author.
Last edit: 01:28, 17 June 2010

I think that there are four three major barriers to entry on Wikimedia projects, and I don't feel that they are terribly different for women or men.

1) Usability: If you can't figure out wikicode, you can't edit to any substantive degree. It's as simple as that. Wikicode has grown ever more complex over time, but that's only because it has gained much needed functionality. A combination of two (user selectable) separate editors for Wikimedia projects might solve this, if that were possible: a normal editor, with standard wikicode, and a WYSIWYG editor (shutters), to which new accounts default.

2) Cabal: New users feel like they're being treated as inferiors by established users. They feel that their opinions aren't valued, and that their edits are patrolled. They're right:P. I do this to all newbies I encounter. I try to be polite about it, and I try to AGI, but I don't automatically trust new users (AGI is en.Wikinews's version of AGF. It's different than AGF due to the demanding nature of factchecking news). They usually don't know what they're talking about, and they may well accidentally mis-edit a page and require reversion. That's just the nature of being a newbie.

However, I recall being a newbie, and I didn't like how I was treated. I almost left Wikinews due to the rudeness I encountered, and the sheer, overwhelming weight of the bureaucracy on Wikipedia weighed down on me until I eventually quit editing (beyond minor copyediting). Simply being polite to new users would go a long way to fixing this problem, IMO.

3) I completely forgot: I have no idea what I was planning to write here, but it was awesome, I assure you.

4) Bureaucracy: As mentioned above, Wikimedia's (in particular Wikipedia) level of red tape has become so extreme that you need to sign forms in triplicate before you're allowed to edit any non-backwater page. Whatever happened to "the only rule is that there are no rules"? There are so many rules that new users feel overwhelmed.

Barriers aside, my feeling is that the gender divide is caused almost entirely by two things: 1) women not having as much free time, and 2) women just not seeing the point of participating in Wikimedia projects. These projects are set up with a reward structure similar to those in MMOGs: "increase your online wang" (edit count), "grind XP to level up" (gain admin power), "grind rep" ('win' community discussions *eyeroll*), and "camp spawns" (watch articles of your choice, revert whenever possible in order to show you're good at anti-vandalism). I'm not sure if you're familiar with MMOGs, but they are traditionally geared toward OCD males... and looky there! That's Wikimedia's prime target demographic as well;).

Removing the "grind" from Wikimedia projects, if that's possible, and revamping the reward structure so that it appeals to people that aren't OCD college age males should be our main priorities. I have absolutely no idea how that could be accomplished. For the record MMOG developers are having the same issues. They want to appeal to mass audiences, but are stuck with a total worldwide subscriber base of ~40-50 million due to the OCD nature of their games. Anyone who doesn't tend toward twitchy behaviour finds MMOGs boring in the extreme. The developers would like to change that and expand their audience... but how?

21:20, 15 June 2010

This is all really interesting -- and some of it is totally new to me. I'm going to do more reading on MMOGs -- feel free to point me towards useful stuff if you know any :-)

(Side note but also interesting -- the book CyberChiefs: Autonomy and Authority In Online Tribes, by Mathieu O'Neill. He studies, Daily Kos, Debian and us, and has some interesting observations about gender.)

21:58, 16 June 2010

Wow...I can't believe I'm joining this discussion just now! :P

While I wouldn't disagree that the "grind" really has a lot to do with editors joining (and subsequently staying) on a Wikimedia project, I think it also has a lot to do with how the projects' image, both internally and externally, has changed over the last ten years. In my part of the woods, people look at the projects as simply resources, and that's it. They see no incentive to edit because they think that people will be doing those things for them, and that's the mindset that we're working to change. On the Tagalog Wikipedia, we have an active campaign to encourage anonymous users and casual readers to edit, and though I'm not sure just how successful the campaign is, I can say that at least we get the message across.

At least here, MMORPGs are popular because not only do we make lots of them every year, and not only are they a billion-peso industry because of all the material that are being sold, but because they are capable of 'clicking' with the population. Now the question is how to make Wikimedia 'click'.

03:51, 18 June 2010

FWIW, everything that Sue says about men vs. women is probably true. But it's also completely incorrect in the following sense: Everything that women suffer in exclusion, men suffer in silence. There are lots of men who reluctantly tolerate the environment on Wikipedia. Don't mistake their (perhaps socialized) ability to do so as a sign that they prefer it. Everything that would make Wikipedia more 'female friendly'--WYSIWYG, clearly organized tasks, a non-ruckus consensus process, dealing with aggressive editors, etc would make the lives of men a lot easier too.

Just because a man fights, doesn't mean he likes to. Just because a woman quilts, doesn't mean that's her preference. We should focus on improving the product universally and not be overly tempted to believe in these very tempting and even accurate gender dichotomies. Flame wars never built an encyclopedia.

I'll just say this for emphasis: user interface, user interface, user interface. When editing Wikipedia is as intuitive as sewing a quilt (which is not even that intuitive), women will find their way in droves, and the men who have already populated the site will like it that much more for many reasons.

07:07, 10 August 2010

I find this [1] post on foundation-l today very interesting. Because if the arguments in the post are turned around, reducing the "skills required to participate" and making it more attractive to a more divere set of editors to participate, would make the editor community converge exponentially towards diversity.

See also:

00:32, 18 June 2010

I'd like to see how our demographics vary with general internet demographics. Having every gender and ethnicity represented will be fantastic, but we need to see where we are relative to general internet usage. I don't know the statistics off the top of my head, so we'll use Gardnerian made up cartoon stats, but if 70% of internet users are male, but 90% of Wikipedia editors are male, we know that we're even over-represented for the general population. Similarly, we may find that we're actually doing better than general internet demographics in some areas, and if so, we may find it useful to study why. If we can identify variables that we have some control over, we might use those to improve participation of other target groups.

14:04, 18 June 2010

Since 2005, the number of females and males online in the United States has been pretty close. See 2005 stats.. As this article points out, the lower percentage of females that use the internet needs to be adjusted to account for there being more females than males in the US. 2007 US stats shows more females on line than males. Being aware of these stats, I have long felt the difference in the ratio between male to female editors on Wikipedia English is a product of the WMF and Wikipedia culture rather than a biological gender trait or a more general socialization of English speaking women.

More current general world wide stats from the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future. Again, the overall gap is more narrow than found on WMF projects.

Of particular interest is the finding that more females keep a blog on the internet, and more females display photos on the internet. IMO, women engaged in these activities would be prime target for recruitment into WMF projects. At the present time, WMF is not doing a good job capturing the energy and interest of these women. (As Phillipe points out earlier in this discussion, some specialty topic dominated by females like quilting have a strong internet presence.)

IMO, women and other under represented groups will need to be invited/recruited, and the culture of WMF projects will need to be adjusted to accommodate them when they arrive if we will retain them as editors. Some of these changes are happening already such as the focus on making the sites more user friendly for people that are less technically savvy. But other changes will be needed, too.

It will be important to acknowledge the discomfort that current users will feel when proposals are made for changes. And we need to help everyone adjust to the idea that changes are truly needed in order for WMF to accomplish its mission.

16:44, 18 June 2010

Here's a link that might be interesting for people here -- a gender breakdown of user-contributed-content sites. (It actually labels itself as analyzing gender on social networking sites, but I don't think that's accurate -- or at least, I do not myself consider sites like Flickr and YouTube social networking.)

What's interesting is that the majority of user-contributed-content sites are female-majority -- including e.g., Twitter, Ning, Flickr, Facebook. Some of the reasons for that are obvious, and don't apply to us and the work we do. But still, it gives me some hope :-)

22:04, 18 June 2010

I'd be willing to bet that we could use articles of interest to women to introduce them to editing. For example, if we went to a large online quilting community and asked for their help in fixing up quilting related articles on Wikipedia, we might see an infusion of editors that represent groups that are under represented on Wikipedia (in this case, women). Existing online groups focused on a particular topic could have a WikiProject just for their area of interest. "Hey ladies, we need help with our quilting articles. We'd like to make a proposal for you to start WikiProject quilting. It benefits your online community, because that will get a mention in one or more of the quilting articles (e.g. in a "Quilting Associations" section or an "External Links" section or something) which will drive traffic to your website, and it helps us because of the expertise you bring in creating and maintaining quality articles."

Something along those lines might be worth thinking about.

00:03, 19 June 2010

Yes, targeting specific groups to help cover our gaps in coverage seems a sensible approach. How would you envision this happening? Would it be informal invitations? Or would there be an organized effort to invite/recruit target groups and assist them in editing?

The difference (at least in theory) could be the amount of official staff support that the initiative/project receives.

If it is a formally organized effort, would this be an initiative that falls under Public Outreach or a separate program?

IMO, for this type of effort to be truly successful as a long term initiative it will need organized staff support to help maintain the momentum as volunteers come and go.

08:35, 19 June 2010

I disagree.

Paid staff are there to support and empower the volunteers so the volunteers can create and distribute the content.

Staff work on the software framework and foundation (easier editting, better support for other writing systems).

Volunteers do outreach. There is no "under-represented" group anywhere that doesn't have at least one representative here. That person is the start of outreach to their community.

10:12, 19 June 2010

The way I see it, the staff would not be doing the actual outreach work in terms of contacting outside groups. Instead, the work of staff would be helping provide the support structure and organization for the initiative. Currently, many of our wikiprojects and other initiatives fall apart because volunteers lack the time, and knowledge or skill about how to manage a project. An editor being enthusiastic about a topic does not mean that the person has the ability to lead a project. Having a staff person act as a resource would be helpful in many instances.

10:33, 19 June 2010

I think outreach can be done very effectively by the volunteers. You could basically set up target-specific WikiProjects that are not only tasked with maintaining articles on their topic area, but bringing in new editors. We could test this right now with existing WikiProjects. If it appears to work, we could then start creating WikiProjects in particular target areas.

For example, right now, I could go to quilting related Wikipedia articles, identify contributors who appear to have a good deal of knowledge about quilting, contact them and see about getting a WikiProject Quilting set up. Once it is set up, we have them recruit from outside Wikipedia.

I'm actually learning a lot about internal recruitment right now through my efforts with the WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors for the May 2010 and July 2010 Backlog Elimination Drives that they are doing (which I am coordinating). We made some changes to our marketing program that has resulted in more than double the number of signups so far, and may be triple before the July drive is over. I'm fairly certain that some of the techniques we've used would work for any WikiProject.

I also think that the Foundation would do well to never forget that the number one social need of human beings is the need for approval. This is why Wikipedians have collectively dumped tens of thousands of hours into creating service awards, barnstars, userboxes, and other forms of recognition. WMF can (and should) use this to its advantage, and besides, every nonprofit organization should have a recognition program for volunteers. An award designed and bestowed by WMF would motivate volunteers to move mountains.

10:29, 21 June 2010

Glad to see some good thoughts from the foundation on this. Outreach is a big part of it. But fixing the community is another big part: more accessible, easier learning curve, more friendly.

23:29, 20 June 2010

Sorry to revive a dormant thread. But this issue bugs me and I think it is more complex than the base numbers. At different times I have been active in very different parts of Wikipedia, and yes the mainstream vandal fighting, new page patrol and anything to do with deletion are I believe overwhelmingly male. Copy editing, article review and typo fixing are I think more balanced, or at least less extremely imbalanced. Of course on t'web no one knows you are a dog and some of our pinkest most "feminine" userpages and signatures have turned out to be middle aged men. But I've met some of these people on Skype and at meetups,

But I'm pretty sure that the actual article writing process is rarely the problem.

Equally the technology re infoboxes and all that malarky, we have editors who just fix bits of content, and as long as they are doing good work they are unlikely to get bitten. But newpage patrol and recent changes patrol are very male, and the race to find the right deletion tag for new articles can make the article creation process somewhat intimidating.

21:42, 23 July 2010

Well as it is now the English wiki article creation process is a sort of "Secure a drop zone for contents".

08:10, 24 July 2010

Daft (or perhaps not so daft) suggestion here. Female contributors are well represented elsewhere on the net. Facebook, LinkedIn, Livejournal, Myspace, 2nd Life.

Can we not design surveys on those which don't specifically mention the surveying organization (common to do market surveys "blind" as it prevents bias) but explores what motivates and leads to editing or involvement on those sites and how users on those sites see editing on other sites (such as Wikipedia and A.N. Other). Request if they would mind following up the survey, and offer a choice of rewards - paid-for credit on sites where users have credits, etc.

The aim would be to survey MySpace users and learn what motivates both genders and various broad age-bands to edit, also look at common motivators and demotivators on Wikimedia and see how MySpace users feel about those, and ask MySpace users how they see editing on (eg) Facebook and Wikipedia to get cross-confirmation and direct perceptions. Do the same on 2-3 other major sites. We might get to see what women and other minority groups feel and how Wiki editing is seen by others who do contribute on other sites.

We may not be able to influence the balance of web use in a culture but we should be able to find out why some sites have a better gender balance than us and what motivates female contributors on those sites (or demotivates on ours) that we're not doing, or providing.

(Useful resource: Benchmarking)

FT2 (Talk | email)

16:47, 24 July 2010

Having such surveys would surely be a good idea. I would be interested to know the results. But its probably not easy to find the right questions to ask. Wikipedia is different from a social network like Facebook. It has different aims. So it will be difficult to compare it and transfer the results. On the other side I am sure that the non WYSIWYG way of edition articles produces a barrier that is especially disliked by women.

09:14, 26 July 2010

I think a survey is a good idea too. But keep in mind that this is a VERY well-studied topic and we are unlikely to discover anything new.

According to a 2005 study, men are more "actors" and women are more "interacters" online. But even in the interaction space, Women are different. Women like to use the internet to interact with family, friends, and colleagues. Men interact too, but more with "special interest groups". (I guess that would include Wikimedia, since we're not family or face-to-face friends.)

There's some more recent stuff, since the eruption of social networking.

This one is more of the same... although an interesting/promising factoid is that UK women create more content. I wonder what kind of content that is, and if it's compatible with Wikimedia's vision?

A survey couldn't hurt, but it almost isn't necessary. There is a TON of literature out there about this topic.

16:37, 26 July 2010

There's a lot of research we could datamine. Not having read it my question would be, upon reviewing it, does it target our area of interest as outlined in my previous post?

I suspect they would give a lot of useful background, many answers, and inform our survey of areas to focus on, or questions that are already well answered elsewhere by specialist studies - but they wouldn't replace it. Our focus is quite specific.

FT2 (Talk | email)

18:05, 26 July 2010

Seems to me we just need to get more specific. There might be some scholarly papers about different types of content creation, and how it differs by gender. But there's always some value in a survey in being able to ask specifically about Wikipedia.

15:56, 28 July 2010

More allready existing information on the topic. Have not read it myself, but thought I better link to it from here as there seems to be quite a lot of interest around this topic and someone might be interested in digging into it.

22:46, 29 July 2010

Attracting new editors

I have spoken with many of my colleagues about Wikipedia and while almost all have used it at one point or another many are unaware that they are able to edit the content. We should run banners advertising this fact. This would be one way to get more people involved.--User:Jmh649 09:18, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

[[User:Jmh649|[[User:Jmh649|<span style="color:#0000f1">'''Doc James'''</span>]] ([[User talk:Jmh649|talk]] · [[Special:Contributions/Jmh649|contribs&#93

09:18, 5 May 2010

There have been a number of such suggestions before...but none ever seem to go through. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Banners_and_buttons/archive.

13:58, 5 May 2010

Hey, thanks for that... I couldn't seem to find any discussions on the topic though. I'm curious to know what holds people back from promoting the fact that anyone can edit.

14:48, 5 May 2010

I think a better link would be Wikipedia:Template:Wikipedia_ads.

I don't know what's holding people back...during some previous discussions (buried at the village pump), some admins expressed concern it would attract excessive vandalism.

16:43, 5 May 2010

It seems like an experiment worth trying. In fact, part of the banner could be to track the amount of vandalism, and measure if the promotion does more good than harm.

19:00, 5 May 2010

No data on this, but my gut reaction is that the people likely to want to vandalize already know they can edit, or will find out for themselves. In MY personal experience, the people who don't realize the open nature of wikipedia are older (40+) professionals. Wickedjacob 02:35, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

02:35, 6 May 2010

I think the meta point to take from this is that we should acknowledge the problem and experiment with ways to solve them. Wikia has done some great work with this. Here's my report from an informal conversation with Danny Horn on that work.

19:17, 12 May 2010

The fact that new users are less likely to edit short articles is a very interesting finding. It's also a bad sign: longer articles are more likely to have settled into a "status quo". Shorter articles NEED those extra sections to be written. (for video game articles, the typical article needed a section about the plot, a section about the gameplay, a section about reception, and a section about development.) But apparently editors are less likely to start a section than they are to expand one that's already there. The fact that editors are more likely to edit a section than click the top "edit" tab only confirms this.

Perhaps part of the WYSIWYG improvements could be some way to show what sections are missing? Or maybe we can drive newbies towards editing stubs, along with some suggested "sections" they can add, and how to make a new section.

23:46, 12 May 2010

How about this: With a probability of approximately 1/1000 (or let it be 1/10,000), when an anonymous user wants to read a small article that is not a disambiguation page (important!), the edit link is underlayed in red, and a flashy message says something like: "Did you know that you can change the content of (almost) any article by clicking the edit link above? If you can add anything to this particular article, why not try it out right now?"

Of course if we activate readers in this way there is a huge chance that they will add unsourced information and will be bitten by newbie-headhunters.

23:18, 15 May 2010

Either way, this problem is too important for us not to try it out. It's a overall idea. I somehow suspect that those stubs will be less protected, and that almost any edit to a stub will be perceived as a good one. So it's a win in the "good experience" column for new users, and it's also a win for content.

06:31, 16 May 2010

So has there been any decision as to whether or not or not to run "You can edit this page" banner ads?

23:43, 20 July 2010

I like this idea immensely, but second the concern as well.

If we're trying to get 1st time newcomers the main thing is to get them to make edits that are likely to stick and not be reverted or deleted or get warnings. For example, original research tends to be removed but accurate information with poor balance tends to be fixed and improved upon by others.

What's missing is interfacing that catches newcomers and guides them to a quick (user friendly) summary of what we look for in an article - "encyclopedicity" (a kind of topic that should exist), notability (evidence the world takes notice), at least one source, and no original research or promotion, should stand a good chance of covering it.

Also biographical articles have especially high standards and start with something else if not sure. We may want to exclude BLP stubs and stubs in certain controversial areas where it's hard to edit well without experience.

FT2 (Talk | email)

16:36, 24 July 2010

Thats the direction, I would go. Something like: "Articles of this kind typically have the following sections (aaa,bbb,ccc) which are missing here still. You can create one automatically by clicking on the titles." as a drop down option list right beside the edit button maybe.

So the idea is: having more different editing options. Even something as simple as an automatic "add an image" where you do not have to place it, but is sorted in a standard gallery beneath the articels' text and is then sorted out later by other editors. This way adding images or creating sections in articels could be made more easy.

The other idea about advertisement for the edit button. I am not sure, if people really do not know that they can edit every page in Wikipedia. But its worth a try.

09:08, 26 July 2010

Concrete priorities

Why doesn't Wikimedia have some absolute priorities written down somewhere? There are some groups of priorities that I have assumed are pretty universal throughout Wikimedia, but aren't really discussed anywhere. My views, which I think (hope) are held by other people too:

  1. Top priority: The goal. "A world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." Nothing changes the goal. No amount of anything is allowed to change or modify the goal, no matter what the reason. The goal is the final point, the top of everything, the grand purpose.
  2. Content. Nothing is an acceptable reason to harm the content, other than possible harm to the goal. We don't take out helpful additions to content no matter how many people the content will anger, no matter how much damage it will cause, no matter what happens. We abide by Neutral Point Of View, and all other policies, and keep the content as informative and helpful as possible, period (barring possible harm to the goal, of course). The content is a means to the goal, and that's all that matters.
  3. Community/Contributors. Nothing excuses harm our community, except for risk of direct damage to content or the goal. No amount of contributor damage may allow harm the content at all. (I think everyone agrees that a huge number of users saying "we're leaving unless this article conforms to our viewpoint" is not an acceptable reason for damaging content.) The contributors, in their helping the project content, are more important than anything else. The contributors are a means to building the content, this makes them more important than anything lower.
  4. Wikimedia (Foundation, chapters, PR and related stuff). This is more important than anything other than the goal, content, and contributors. This is also always less important than the higher priorities. We don't harm content no matter how bad it will make Wikimedia look; no matter how much money the Foundation stands to make if it does harm the goal is slightly changed, we don't change it; no matter what would happen to the supporting areas of the movement if it doesn't remove a contributor or otherwise harm the community (damaging their ability to contribute some way or another), we don't do it. (We make an exception for legal issues, as going against the law would be pointless, but there are no other exceptions.) The WMF exists entirely to support the contributors ability to help, and thus it supports the content, and thus it helps achieve the goal. This makes it more important than anything other than its purpose.
  5. Everything else in the world. (I can entirely see the reason not to write this down officially anywhere, just adding it here to complete the list.) As far as Wikimedia is concerned, everything outside is irrelevant, other than its ability to support the foundation and enlarge the community. We can never use the off-wiki world as an excuse to harm the goal, the content, the community, or the Foundation. If you're editing, you leave your views behind. If you're reading, we only care how much you're actively being informed.

Each priority is always higher than lower priorities. Trying to judge long term affects doesn't work (i.e. no saying that damaging content to help build the community is fine because bigger community means better content on the long term, no saying helping the foundation by damaging the community is fine because the foundation will help the community become more effective on the long term). I think the servers/website fit somewhere into this scheme, I just can't remember where.

I have no idea who other than me agrees with this set of priorities. I've assumed for a long time that this whole thing was an "unwritten rule", but recently I've run into some comments and actions that seem to indicate that either this is under quiet dispute, or nobody other than me actually held these views and I was imagining it the whole time, or that some people just never caught on. Perhaps a discussion here might lead to something helpful.

Random ranting person

07:24, 7 July 2010

Something in line with the following?


Not at all as strongly worded as your priorities, and not exactly the same content either. But is it in line with your thoughts?

20:02, 7 July 2010

I'm very circumspect when we mention contents without saying that the content should be relevant to an encyclopedia of quality.

When people write the the sum of all knowledge they forgot that this knowledge should be pertinent & intelligible for the readers.

Too much informations just lower it to the rank of noise.

20:18, 7 July 2010

Yeah, the good news is most of these things are written down at Strategic Plan/What do we believe?-Principles of the Wikimedia movement. Otherwise, to nitpick, I'm always a little wishy washy when I see statements like "We don't take out helpful additions to content no matter how many people the content will anger, no matter how much damage it will cause, no matter what happens." I mean, if it's a helpful contribution, then why is it causing damage? Let alone, what's the bar for measuring if something is helpful?

I tend to agree with KrebMarkt that quality has to be a goal as well, especially when it comes to things that could create potential legal issues or otherwise threaten the reliability of the encyclopedia. I wouldn't say quality trumps adding content, but then I wouldn't say adding content trumps quality either. It's a difficult balance.

23:46, 7 July 2010

Actually, I was referring to additions that are helpful to the content as a whole, those which increase the usefulness and usability of the entire project. The content itself is a priority, and everything I said about protecting a useful addition also goes for proceeding with a productive deletion. If a deletion is a helpful change for the project, then it has to come before everything else. (The quality/quantity balancing act is an entirely different issue.) A chance to benefit to the community or the Foundation being lost is not an excuse for keeping harmful/useless content, or deleting helpful content.

Strategic Plan/What do we believe?-Principles of the Wikimedia movement seems rather vague, with no real firm points made, but it does give a very good outline of our past and current methods, as well as summarizing the Wikimedia movement. There are a lot of major prioritization issues left undecided and undiscussed, though.

Random ranting person

07:14, 8 July 2010

You know, i'm an awful Unbeliever and a first rate Skeptic Editor ;)

I think that too many contributors reflect currents consumerist societies with the prescribed idea that "More the better" declined into "More informations the better" and "More articles the better".

What is flawed it while it does give some quantitative feel good sense, it nevertheless results that too many subjects are covered in a superficial way as some editors sole answer on how to improve the coverage of a subject in Wikipedia is "More spin-out articles".

A year ago i heard a criticism of Wikipedia giving only an "Horizontal form of Knowledge" failing to be a more in-depth "Vertical form of Knowledge".

07:27, 8 July 2010

KrebMarkt raises some good points about how more isn't necessarily better. Seems like the random ranting person would agree. This is one of those tough issues to articulate. To me, it would be great just to be able to say "there is a balance between quality and quantity", or that "we have to balance our goal of summarizing all human knowledge with the goal of appearing reliable". But vision tends to operate at a high level, and can be vague. It's stuff like "let's go to China" but not "let's fly at a mid-price on a weekend and stay for only 2 weeks".

That said, if somebody wanted to take a stab at adding something to the Strategic Plan/What do we believe?-Principles of the Wikimedia movement, I'd gladly work with them to make it right.

16:45, 8 July 2010

How about adding a short section (to clarify a few points that may otherwise be taken out of context)? Example:

=== Corollaries ===
A number of corollaries exist to make the above useful. These include:
  • Knowledge is not necessarily the same as data - making available "the sum of all knowledge" has traditionally co-existed with recognizing the need for a degree of selectivity in the knowledge covered.

If we were going to add such a note, either as a short section or footnote, anything else important that would need saying?

FT2 (Talk | email)

19:48, 8 July 2010

Reduce Content Gaps and Improve Global Coverage

Edited by another user.
Last edit: 17:37, 8 June 2010
There are broad content holes in both quality terms and global coverage of knowledge.

I disagree. We have getting on for 3 million articles in en:Wikipedia. Pretty much every major topic you can think of is covered. If our coverage of minor topics is uneven then this reflects our readership and editors. It is not a defect.

If neighbourhoods in London which have historic records going back a thousand years have longer articles than cities in the USA which were founded less than a hundred years ago that is not a defect. I'm going to try and edit now. Peas have a look and see what you make of my effort.

10:55, 31 May 2010

Can't put my finger on what needs to be said just now. I just know the current version isn't it.

This should say something about improving coverage of basic topics in all major languages rather than worrying that the article on Baptists is longer than that on Buddism (or vice versa). Can anyone come up with better wording?

Going to sleep on it and try again later.

11:06, 31 May 2010

You have to consider that the demographic biases run deeper than you might think. There's a ton of stuff on popular culture, current events, technology. But even if you ignore imbalances on topics of regional interest (e.g.: regional histories, politics, arts), I've found the articles about business (accounting, finance, management) to be sorely lacking. People may have created the articles, but the content on them is barely better than a dictionary definition.

19:13, 31 May 2010

I've done a major rewrite of some of these sections. Can you look see if you can edit it to make it better?

I've taken out "Diverse viewpoints" as IMHO we want only want a neutral viewpoint. We do however need contributors with a more diverse set of experience and knowledge.


21:17, 31 May 2010

Not all of our projects have a requirement for a neutral point of view. :)

03:12, 1 June 2010

Yes but I still think my rewrite is better. Wikipedia is our flagship project and I don;t want to give the trolls any coer for their attacks on it.

06:47, 1 June 2010

"Not all of our projects have a requirement for a neutral point of view." Are you sure? Which projects don't?

Random ranting person

07:42, 7 July 2010

While we may have articles, this illustration demonstrates that the quality of those articles isn't even... that can result in content holes.... if something is poorly explained, that's a content hole. The mere existence of an article does not a high-quality article make.

Saying that it is reflective of our base is not good enough: we're trying to be encyclopedic, not just the encyclopedia of the stuff we know about easily.

18:20, 8 June 2010

Edit review request

This edit has added some good wording on communal innovation, but the section "Encourage Innovation" is a bit fragmented as a result (comunal innovation is mentioned in both paragraphs and flow is not ideal). Copyediting needed.

FT2 (Talk | email)

13:25, 5 July 2010

Everything looks good to me. I took a look at this section and made a small tweak to improve flow. (e.g.: first paragraph identifies problem, second paragraph focuses on solutions) But feel free to make further adjustments to get to where we need to be.

16:04, 6 July 2010

Main one I spotted is the platform isn't what's remained static. the modes of interaction, or interaction method, or approach to interaction, is what's stayed static. May be better wording for this? Also reversed sentence order to state what is needed, then why (not the other way round).

FT2 (Talk | email)

16:46, 6 July 2010

"Community Health" measures

Long post alert!

One of the things we want to track going forward is "community health".... which is multi-faceted, and doesn't lend itself to easy measures. There's been a lot of thinking and talking about community health ---- this post is an attempt to summarize and reflect back some of that discussion, and to express some of my own thinking about how we can best measure it. Here are some of the measures I believe we can/should be thinking about......

1) Total number of active editors.

The Wikimedia Foundation has been tracking "number of active editors" (>=5 edits/month). There are currently about 100,000 active editors in all projects. Many of us have I think talked about this extensively in various forums, particularly in the wake of the PARC work by Ed Chi, and Felipe Ortega's work which spawned a number of inaccurate and alarmist media stories, including one in the Wall Street Journal with the headline Volunteers Log Off As Wikipedia Ages. Essentially: the total number of active editors started to decline in 2007, after which it stabilized, and has been flat since. We don't know what an appropriate number of editors might be for the Wikimedia projects: for example, it may be that the mature projects require a smaller number of editors once they reach maturity, than they did in heavy article-growth mode. Nevertheless, 1) it makes sense to track the number of active editors, because if they plummet, we will want to know that, and 2) it makes sense for us to distinguish between mature projects and growing projects, and track active editors for both, because we would reasonably expect and want to see growth-in-active-editors in projects that are not yet mature.

2) I think we will also want to track retention of active editors. Again, I don't think we know what the "right" number is -- it seems reasonable to expect that there is a certain amount of editor churn, which might be completely normal and healthy.

Bear with me while I make up a construct here: Let's say there are two subcategories of editor. 1) Let's say half of editors are permanently committed to the projects. They will take wikibreaks due to the ebb and flow of their outside-Wikimedia obligations, but as a group let's say their numbers are stable. And 2) let's say half of editors are what we might call "life-stage" editors: they join us while they are in post-secondary education, edit for let's say five years total, then stop editing as they shift their focus to careers and family. That would suggest that every year we would lose 10% of editors, and that 10% would be replaced by new "life-stage" editors coming in. If that construct were true, we would expect to see a "loss" of 10% of editors annually -- and as long as they were being replaced by 10% new people, we would likely consider that perfectly fine.

So the first thing we need to do is establish a baseline -- figure out what is actually happening today. If there's 10% turnover/churn annually, that by itself doesn't tell us much. But if the 10 goes to 20, that would be cause for investigation. And if the 10 goes to 5, that would probably be a good sign.

3) I think we need an editor "engagement" or "satisfaction" measure. I was talking about this in the office the other day with a few people. We probably don't want to measure "happiness" -- because the purpose of the Wikimedia projects isn't to make editors happy, and in theory at least, editors could be super-happy and yet not very productive. (If for example they decided to have wiki-parties all the time, and they formed great friendships and had lots of fun, but didn't write any articles. ) But you do want to measure overall engagement/satisfaction. This is true in organizations too -- HR departments have learned over time not to measure employee happiness, but rather to measure employee engagement or satisfaction.)

We talked in the office about surveying departing/departed editors --as we did with the Former Contributors Study-- but we realized that's not on-point. In part because it's difficult to know who's actually departed -- one of the outcomes of the Former Contributors Survey was a bunch of respondents telling us they didn't feel like they'd departed; they had just been inactive for a while. (And some thanked us for prompting them to return, which was nice :-) But mostly it's off-point because the purpose of the measure is to help assess current community health, and "why people left" is only one small piece of that overall picture. It seems to me that the simplest way to measure community health is simply to ask people (via a regular survey) how engaged/satisfied they are feeling in their work on the projects.

Again, we need a baseline here. Let's imagine that at any given moment in time maybe 1% of active Wikimedia editors are unconstructive, don't share our mission and goals, don't really understand the work we're trying to do, and generally are unhappy because they're not aligned with us. They will leave us soon, but they haven't left us yet. And let's further imagine that at any given moment in time maybe 15% of active Wikimedia editors are feeling angry or unhappy about a dispute they're engaged in at that particular moment, although they are otherwise generally satisfied. And let's further imagine that 20% of the world is always going to report feeling dissatisfied, because that's just the kind of people they are. In that construct, we'd expect that a "normal" level of self-reported dissatisfaction would be 36%. So if we found ourselves with a 36% dissatisfied baseline, we would know that we're never going to get to 0% dissatisfied, but we might take steps aimed at trying to help some of the 15% be less situationally frustrated. In this construct, if we could get to something like 25% dissatisfied, that would be good progress.

So, I would say, we should launch a regular survey of satisfaction levels. It won't be easy to parse out the "bad fit" people from the situationally-dissatisfied from the constitutionally-dissatisfied, but that's what we should be aiming to do. And we should go in with the understanding that we'll never achieve 0% dissatisfaction, but that we should be aiming to trend towards less.

4) Editor demographics.

This is a really interesting and complicated piece, and there have been lots of good discussions about it in the strategy project generally, and on this particular page. Broadly, I think we want editor demographics to look more like the general population. I don't think we should aspire to map exactly against gen-pop, because I don't think that would be realistic or even desirable.


  • Some demographic skew is inevitable, and outside our control. For example, people in poor countries will always edit less --on the whole-- than people in rich countries, because people in rich countries have more leisure time, better connectivity and equipment, higher education and literacy levels and so forth. Similarly, women will likely always edit less than men, because they have less free time. We should still aspire to make it easier for those groups to edit, but they will likely never achieve representation-on-Wikimedia proportionate to their representation in the general population.
  • Some demographic skew is --at least partly-- open to influence by us. For example, we have speculated that women would be likelier to edit if they were invited and thanked, and if there were increased opportunities for face-to-face interaction. By thanking, by inviting, by having meet-ups and conferences, and/or by specific targeted outreach, we would likely be able to attract more women.
  • I hesitate to say this because it risks sounding elitist, but to a certain extent we don't _want_ gen-pop representation. I sometimes think the most important defining feature of Wikimedians is their unusually high intelligence. Jimmy has sometimes posed the rhetorical question: what kind of person edits an encyclopedia in their spare time, for fun? (Answer: smart geeks.) By that very fact, we know that Wikimedians are generally extremely intelligent. And we know that Wikimedia biases to encourage smart people -- a large part of reputation here is driven by doing work that visibly manifests intelligence, or is dependent on being intelligent. So, it makes sense to me that editors might skew better-educated-than-average, more professional-career-than-average, maybe even higher-income-earning-than-average. (I want to say here: I'm not saying that less-educated, less-professional-career, lower-income people are by definition less intelligent -- for many individuals for many reasons, that is of course not even remotely true. But I am saying that if Wikimedians are somewhat better-educated, more likely to be in professional careers, and higher income-earning, that shouldn't surprise us, and --as a fact by itself-- it shouldn't necessarily trouble us.)

So upshot on demographics: I think that we do not want to map identically to gen-pop. But I do think we should aspire to map somewhat more closely to gen-pop, particularly in the areas where we see a huge gap --- e.g., gender. I think the projects will be better and richer and more comprehensive if we have input from people who are currently underrepresented. So I think we need to use the UNU-Merit data as our baseline, and track change-over-time, with the goal of coming somewhat closer to gen-pop than we currently are.

This is a big long post! I'd be curious to know what you all think. Basically, for community health: do these proposed measures feel roughly correct...... are there measures that are really significant that are missing........

I think what I've written here is largely consistent with the goals-in-development on the "movement priorities" page -- essentially, I am wanting to talk a little about it here, before doing some editing of the page itself.

19:34, 16 June 2010

Zack (Exley, the new CCO) and I have done a little bit of thinking about what "micro-measurements" we could begin to track that would result in some trending that could roll up to community health measures. These are obviously very very detail oriented, and would have to be fairly carefully interpreted, but we've come up with, as a starting point:

  • Number of edits by admins
  • Number of blocks
  • Admins with most blocks
  • Number of speedy deletes
  • Number of posts to ANI
  • Number of new admins
  • Highly active admins
  • Admins inactive for 30, 60, 90, 120 days
  • Number of article deletions
  • Number of full process deletes
  • Inbound OTRS tickets
  • Outbound OTRS tickets
  • Articles with most reverts
  • Articles by edits (trending)
  • Number of Reverts
  • Number of edits
  • Number of new articles
  • Number of new files
  • Number of new users
  • Highly active users
  • Users inactive for 30, 60, 90, 120 days
  • Number of reports to AIV
  • Global blocks
  • Number of steward activities
  • Number of permissions changes
  • Help requests in #wikipedia-en-help
  • Previously active users who are newly inactive
  • Help requests using {{helpme}}
  • Ratio of human to bot edits
  • active users to admin ratio
  • number of orphaned articles
  • ratio of orphaned articles to total articles
20:31, 16 June 2010

That is a kind of hilarious list! But yeah, I can see the value in those measures. As long as it all could be viewed rolled-up into a single green/orange/red status, I would be happy :-)

Yours sincerely,
Sue "Simple Is Good" Gardner

21:34, 16 June 2010

Dear Dr. Simple is Good,

Absolutely. But in the meantime.... MOAR DATA PLZ!

22:43, 16 June 2010

Philippe actually nailed it, in my books. I don't think we've quite yet gotten to the bottom of what *really* affects community health, so we really need to track a lot of different numbers.

Satisfaction is probably more accurate than happiness. But the survey actually showed that some of the most dissatisfied editors are actually our most engaged. Not sure why that is. Maybe it's pathological OCD. Maybe it's that more engaged editors are willing to accept higher levels of BS. But the real point: we're not going to be able to measure health by checking the population for satisfaction and growth. Dissatisfaction and stagnation are the symptom, not the diagnosis.

The survey focused on newer editors... and it actually seems there would be three killer stats to look at.

  1. One would be how many editors abandon edits without pushing save. (Obviously some amount is normal. But like Sue noticed, it would be a huge sign of improvement to get from 50% abandonment down to 40%, or what not.) That would measure how easy and convenient people are finding it to edit.
  2. Two would be how many edits are reverted. Again, some amount is normal. But a revert shows a problem on two ends. On one hand, it shows a community that is hostile to change. On the other hand, it shows an influx of editors who may be making inappropriate changes that upset community norms. Whose fault is it -- the reverter or the revertee? It almost doesn't matter. As much as reverting is natural, we know that too much is a bad sign.
  3. Three would be activity at dispute resolution pages. Drama usually goes there. Drama will probably grow with the population (more people means more disputes), but if it's growing faster than the population then we have a problem with community health.

It would also be REALLY useful if we could slice up the dataset. Imagine that we could find out that we're getting more editors, but only for articles about music! Then we could look at other stats around music articles, and figure out what's helping that music sub-community grow while other parts of Wikipedia are stagnating. Numbers are just data. But when you can compare them to something, you can understand what the heck is really going on.

22:56, 20 June 2010

I love the idea of segmentation by article type, Randomran. I'm going to continue to think on that a little. Really great idea.

05:10, 21 June 2010

This was a really great thread. I took a pass at combining and editing all of the suggestions at Community Health/Metrics. I'd encourage you to post further ideas and discussion directly to that page.

22:08, 30 June 2010

Thanks for working on this... I fixed the link by creating a redirect.

21:39, 1 July 2010

Interproject collaboration

This was a second key finding of the Quality taskforce and attracted much attention and discussion during its work. I've added it in, and hopefully done it justice.

FT2 (Talk | email)

07:52, 1 July 2010

simplified theory of change

This seems kind of trivial, compared to the great discussion happening on diversity, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up that I did some simplifying and re-working of the theory of change section, including adding a footer description of what a theory of change is since I don't think it's that common a phrase. Hope this works.

00:42, 24 June 2010

Fantastic! Thank you, Laura!

22:40, 29 June 2010

re-ordering the goals?

I was thinking about re-ordering the goals so that they flow better from the theory of change - reach, content/quality, participation, then infrastructure and innovation.

This makes sense to me since infrastructure and innovation are more means to an end (i.e. the investments that are needed in order to have the impact that is desired - all knowledge to all people) so they should be stated last. Thoughts?

00:43, 24 June 2010

That makes a lot of sense to me. The infrastructure goals are very much there to support the other goals

16:43, 24 June 2010


22:39, 29 June 2010

A couple of concerns

My apologies in advance: I have not read through all of the discussion threads on this page, let alone many of the other pages, due to a lack of time and patience. I hope that you don't hold this against me here.

I have a few concerns if this priorities list is to be viewed as complete and fixed at some point in the near future. I've tried to set these out below...

"Stabilize the Infrastructure":

  • Other measures: "$X million should come through Wikimedia Chapters" - this begs the question of where the money is going to. Funneling to the WMF is probably not scalable, or even legal in some countries, but this is what is implied by the second section of the summary. My personal preference for the future would be to see chapters growing to a similar sort of scale as the Foundation is at the moment - e.g. following what WMDE has done so far, and extending that. In such a scenario, the foundation would tackle/coordinate international-scale issues, such as global website access etc., while the chapters would approach things locally, but also supporting the international work (e.g. hiring developers). This is a fairly brief summary of a complicated topic, but my point here is that chapters should not just be considered passageways for money to support infrastructure
  • Possible Targets: "99.9% uptime." I think you're missing some more 9's here. 99.9% uptime would mean downtime of ~9 hours a year, which is too much. The tech team do an amazing job on uptime already, though, so I think quantifying the current percentage of time that the site is up would be a good place to start here. Capacity is a bigger issue than uptime - given past (and present?) constraints on growth at Commons, and also (I believe, but am not sure) on potential technological innovations on Wikipedia (i.e. everything has to be as efficient as possible prior to deployment, which slows down the development process considerably).

Increase Reach:

  • "2015 Goal: Wikimedia has at least 680 million online visitors per month and at least X% of those visitors represent the Global South." - "Global South" isn't the best phrase to use, as it's not a north-south divide, as en:North-South divide describes. There doesn't seem to be a particularly suitable phrase, though - perhaps "developing world" would be better (but still not ideal)?

Missing topics:

  • Why isn't there anything about breadth of content here? I'm all for increasing quality, but we should also remember that there is a lot that we don't cover at all yet. Example: Wikisource is lacking huge swathes of content that it could host. Quality is a big thing on en.wp, where there's already a large quantity of content, but we shouldn't just be driven by en.wp here.
  • Partnerships with cultural organizations is a big thing at the moment, but it omits a lot of other organizations that partnerships could be formed with. Examples would include universities (common aim: to teach and share knowledge), companies in general (which typically have large amounts of content and knowledge hidden away or protected), news organizations (lots of background information, and interest in finding out facts, related to current events), etc.

I have other worries, which largely rotate around chapters and offline participation, but I think these are my main ones that are relevant to the wikimedia movement as a whole. Thanks.

08:58, 21 June 2010

Thanks for starting this thread, Mike. A few quick thoughts for you:

On chapters - This is indeed a long conversation. The vision for the chapters-Wikimedia relationship goes beyond a pass-through funding relationship. It is important for the movement to have effective chapters and I was encouraged by the discussion at the Berlin chapters meeting in April that focused on what they term "professionalization". I know that WMF is committed to continued support for Chapters to grow into strong, effective organizations in their own right. In fact, I'm going to be leading a team at WMF to increase our capacity to support chapters on a number of dimensions beyond our current grantmaking work.

On chapters funding flow to WMF - There is a need for some additional work to better define the revenue relationship. Arne and Jan-Bart on the WMF Board are beginning a process soon to wrestle with the structures that could work to both ensure that, as you note, the WMF can fulfill its global role, and chapters can fulfill these.

On "Global South" - It would be great to get a better word I agree, though it seems every term is laden with all sorts of unfortunate meaning.

On missing topics - From the strategy process, there was a lot of enthusiasm for partnerships with cultural institutions. It would be great if the group within the community that is leading this effort would capture their goals in this plan. While WMF doesn't have a specific initiative around this, there is no reason why a community group couldn't lay out a goal and also seek grant funding from the WMF or generate funding from chapters to support their work.

On issues, you didn't raise...I'd be interested in hearing from you on these. If you are attending Wikimania, it would be great to meet.

18:52, 21 June 2010
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