Talk:Task force/Community Health

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Archive 1


Thread titleRepliesLast modified
heros and villains916:57, 6 May 2010
Appointing Autoreviewers602:17, 13 February 2010
Getting from five recommendations to four: bury social networking?2119:29, 9 February 2010
Volunteer recognition2603:15, 6 February 2010
Survey INTERIM results1722:21, 4 February 2010
Proposed Strategy Task Force008:46, 3 February 2010
"logged-in only" editing608:33, 3 February 2010
Better late than never...? :)410:08, 27 January 2010
Former Contributors Survey105:12, 27 January 2010
Welcoming, motivating & recruiting new users: suggestions216:59, 22 January 2010
final five recommendations1314:47, 15 January 2010
Does anonymity give rise to hostility?721:05, 12 January 2010
Draft Recommendation 4 - aka Social Networking / Social Features needs your help!317:48, 9 January 2010
Finding and interviewing ex-editors4403:51, 30 December 2009
Frank's proposal621:00, 23 December 2009
Evaluating the recommendations (preliminary)523:50, 22 December 2009
Provocative ideas118:05, 20 December 2009
Alexa for stats119:59, 19 December 2009
heros and villains004:01, 17 December 2009
Binding mediated consensus decisionmaking on Wikipedia517:43, 15 December 2009
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heros and villains

Today, I noticed an editor claiming that "some of Wikipedia's defenders turned to vandalism", and that "truth has become less important". You know I have my share of criticisms for the community, but I wanted to look into these statements.

I checked the Wikipedia account. He is, indeed, a burnout from two weeks ago. He was blocked for personally attacking an editor in October. He had been pushing an unverified POV as far back as July. He has been a highly active editor since 2005. He has now retired, citing his failed effort to push an unverified POV as reason for leaving.

I'm kind of curious what people's reactions are to this kind of editor.

My reaction: Before I looked into his background, I found myself saying "he's kind of right, maybe this guy is a hero for calling out Wikipedia's problems". Then I looked into his background and found he was the worst kind of POV warrior, and had managed to survive on Wikipedia for more than four years. In his own mind, I'm sure he sees himself as a hero. And if I only heard the surface of his story, I'd have believed that he was a hero, trying to defend the Wiki. The whole situation makes me feel very uneasy, because it really is difficult to distinguish the heroes from the villains until someone flips out and "goes nuclear".

04:01, 17 December 2009

Wonderful subject! I don't understand why nobody commented since December 17th.

I think that we must always be allowed to be for the system as well as against the system. And the line between the the troll and the well-intencioned user who doesn't agree with some feature of a project is so subtle.

I wouldn't like this system of "community recognition" to become a system of community control.

I really wanted this topic to be discussed.

14:29, 4 May 2010

Wonderful subject! I don't understand why nobody commented since December 17th.

I think that we must always be allowed to be for the system as well as against the system. And the line between the the troll and the well-intencioned user who doesn't agree with some feature of a project is so subtle.

I wouldn't like this system of "community recognition" to become a system of community control.

I really wanted this topic to be discussed.

14:29, 4 May 2010

Thanks for replying... I myself forgot about this topic.

I think we're on the same page. We want people to be able to express disagreement and criticisms. But we don't want trolls, vandals, and POV pushers to disrupt the Wikipedia and then get away with a cheesy "free speech" defense.

What do you think the difference is? Do you think it's covered adequately by policies like "No Personal Attacks"?

16:40, 4 May 2010

Well, I am from where most users are Brazilians and Portugueses. Both these countries are recent democracies and the traume of dictarship is still present. In this context, people who fight against the "established power" will always have some allure of heroism.

I thing that we should avoid divide people into heros and villains because Wikipedia is not a battlefield nor a political experiment so there is no reason at all to be a hero nor a villain. And I really think it is important to have this in mind. I suppose that you agree with me that trolls cannot disrupt Wikipedia if they are not able to find support inside community. If community sees a problem when someone wants to be hero, trollism will never thrive.

I don't think policies like "No Personal Attacks" cover the difference between ill-intencioned users and people who want to express true criticism. Trolls are often smart and experts on gaming these policies. They will often make "general attacks", instead, which are much harder to recognize and punish even though general and fuzzy attacks may be as harmful as any other kind of misbehaviour, as trolls will try to destroy the trust among editors and sow discord. Trolls are usually critics of sysops so when they get blocked they can say it is a retaliation.

Possibly the great difference between someone who wants to help us out and a troll is that the first kind of editor will understand that Wikipedia is an open project and they can change and improve it by themselves. Trolls will keep on critizing instead of working on solving problems. That the reason I interpret "be bold" as "stop complaining, do it better".

How do you feel the things I told? Do you think it is the same in other communities?

18:36, 4 May 2010

I'm actually really surprised to find that your experience at the Portuguese wikipedia is very similar to mind. We definitely want to avoid categorizing people as heroes or villains, but there are some people who imagine themselves to be heroes. Their imagination is often wrong. :)

Most of all, you're right that "no personal attacks" has stopped being effective, and you're 100% right about "general attacks". I might never say "Lechatjaune is ruining Wikipedia". But I might say "people from foreign countries are destroying Wikipedia", or (your excellent example) "Admins with X point of view are destroying Wikipedia". And I get away with it, because it's not "personal", and there might be enough people who think I'm a hero for saying some kind of bold truth by criticizing non-English people or criticizing a group of admins.

And then they can play the "retaliation card". If you call me for my bad behavior, I can say that you're personally attacking me, because you don't like my point of view. It's all backwards!

I think you may be onto something very important with "no general attacks". No more attacks, period.

18:56, 4 May 2010

No general attacks. No attacks on people.

If there is a specific action you think is wrong then criticise that specific action, with citations and a specific suggestions for what that user should have done differently.

If someone has made an attack on some person ask them to edit their comment to criticise that persons actions instead - yes let us encourage people to edit and rewrite their contributions to discussion pages!

19:44, 4 May 2010

Appointing Autoreviewers

On EN wiki we have a flag for EN:WP:Autoreviewers. When users with this flag save a new article it bypasses the new page patrol as if they were an administrator. In the last few months I started looking for good candidates and appointing Autoreviewers in order to improve the new page patrol process; But I was surprised how many editors really appreciate it as a form of recognition of what they've been doing for years. I rather think of this as a direct form of community building.

23:44, 9 February 2010

People definitely appreciate being recognized. It's human nature. People want to be validated and respected for what they do.

I agree that strangely bureaucratic things like this can help people feel like they belong... whether they were intended to build up the community or not.

00:11, 10 February 2010


I will never qualify as autoreviewer ;)

21:17, 10 February 2010


I'll never qualify as a senior editor either. :)

21:32, 10 February 2010

I only qualify as a Wiki-outlander spending more time looking for references & citations in the web than actually editing the encyclopedia.

22:37, 10 February 2010

Never say never. :) For most experienced editors, these things would only take 2 weeks of effort to reach out and grab if they wanted them.

22:51, 10 February 2010

FWIW, in case of implementation of the FPPR proposal on enwiki, the usergroup of reviewers will bring this aspect of social recognition. But the important thing here is that it's not the primary objective of it, just a positive, and sometimes negative, side effect.

02:17, 13 February 2010

Getting from five recommendations to four: bury social networking?

Technically, we were supposed to have only four recommendations. Right now we have five on the short list. That's bad.

We may already have our four. There was pretty universal support for two of them: improved dispute resolution, and improved rewards/recognition. Those are already in. There has also been no opposition to "new/improved volunteer roles" and "new/improved tools". If we added those, we'd have our top four.

Which is a major reason I think we should abandon the social networking proposal. Sjc (who appears to be AWOL now), wanted to "bury" social networking features. I was sympathetic but on the fence. I've since moved towards stronger opposition, and other editors have shared that view. So in addition to it being less appealing than the other four, it also has significant problems. Social networking may make the cabal problem much worse, for a debatable benefit.

That adds up to support for blocking it. That said, I know that Bodnotbod worked very hard on it. I don't want to just abandon it without him checking in. Or if someone else wants to speak up for it, maybe we can discuss whether it's a better recommendation than any of the others, or if there are other ways to salvage it.

The deadline has passed. But I want to move on this before the 19th, to cement our top four recommendations and eliminate confusion.

16:03, 14 January 2010

I support adding Social features because I think that it has a large potential for bringing and keeping under-represented groups, particularly females.

Integrating into existing social websites is already happening. For example Wikimania 2009 had a Facebook page, as does Wikimedia Denmark. Many users have blogs. I think that finding ways to tap these features will boost user satisfaction.

16:48, 14 January 2010

I have significant issues with burying social networking as well - I am not a member of the task force, but I strongly support leaving it in... we don't know the outcome of the "cabal" issues, and we won't until we try it. We need to be open to experimenting with these things, and this is a request we hear over and over from users...

17:14, 14 January 2010
  • Shrug*

This task force was asked to form a consensus about 2-4 recommendations that would have the most impact. The other four recommendations came out of numerous discussions about what would be helpful, and have zero or limited side effects. Social networking represents a fifth recommendation that encountered significant controversy, and runs counter to the actual problem we identified: that there are actual factions who are coordinating to make Wikipedia a worse place.

I acknowledge that there is significant support for social networking, to match opposition. So it's incumbent on us to find a compromise:

  • We need to allow room for a fifth recommendation, and find a way to contain the cabal issue ... OR ...
  • We need to cut out the controversial aspects of the social networking proposal, and incorporate the rest into an existing recommendation ... OR ...
  • The supporters of social networking have to make a persuasive case that it is somehow a more valuable recommendation than the other four, and come up with the data to support it.

Is there a compromise that lets us salvage the social networking idea?

22:41, 14 January 2010

I started a recommendation for social features for the Reader Conversion task force. I'm using CH as a base but will modify it to address bringing the under-represented demographic.

22:46, 14 January 2010

Thanks FloNight. This is a compromise I can support, and I'll try to help out once you've taken a crack at it. I think there is a way to get the best from social features, without as many negative side effects.

23:06, 14 January 2010

I think that's a reasonable position to take. But then there has to be some "give" by the people who support social networking features. There's a decent opposition to it on valid grounds. Do you honestly think that it's a higher priority with better impact than any of the other four?

... you know, since the "reader conversion" task force hasn't produced any recommendations, and since you think social networking could convert more female readers, it would clearly fall within their scope. We could polish it and add it under the "reader conversion" task force. Might seem like hijacking, but really, the task force is abandoned and needs someone to pilot it.

What do you think?

17:13, 14 January 2010

I think that incorporating social features and networking into our wikis and into our onsite philosophy has the potential to have the greatest impact because it could make some other of our recommendations doable.

17:27, 14 January 2010

(Hit send to soon) I think that moving it to Reader Conversion task force could work, as long as we note that we initiated it as a possible measure to assist Community health.

Many task forces have noted the overlap between the topics we each are addressing. I see this as good since it shows that we are on the same track.

17:32, 14 January 2010

Making room for it as a fifth recommendation, geared more towards reader conversion, might be a good way to salvage it. I can get on board with that. I read a few objections that social networking won't do much to help, but seeing as our other community health recommendations will have no direct impact on converting readers (except maybe the "find stuff to do" interface), it would be good to do at least *something* for reader conversion.

The remaining objections relate to forming groups for the purposes of advancing an agenda, and canvassing a group in a way that runs counter to building a consensus. I've said before that this is an objection I share, but I don't think it's insurmountable. We could at least mention the objection, and maybe even come up with a few ways to prevent it, or address it once it happens.

22:46, 14 January 2010

As it is up to the larger community to decide whether or not to actually implemt the recommendations or not, I think it is a good idea to pass this idea on to the community. Make notes about what the possible pitfalls might be. I don't think it is a good idea to drop a recommendation with great potential just because of the uper limit of 4 recommendation. Especially not as some Task Forces not has produced any recommendations at all, and the total amount of recommendations are less than initially hoped for.

09:30, 15 January 2010

Go for it. I'll link up a fifth observation if you set it up.

16:21, 15 January 2010

FloNight is already working on adapting it for "reader conversion".

But if you think it's a good idea, we can have a second version of the same proposal here, giving us five recommendations.

Or we could just post some kind of link to a single unified version.

Which makes more sense?

16:33, 15 January 2010

My preference is that it be endorsed by a group and not an individual. Community Health has so far not succeeded in coming to agreement on any proposals, so my preference is that (rather than being a recommendation of a single individual, as at community health where it is essentially just FloNight - and me by proxy), it be proposed by a task force. I think it carries more weight that way.

Sorry, Flo, for having you do it over there just to request that it be proposed here! Philippe

17:41, 15 January 2010

Got it. So to be clear, the community health task force will make five recommendations, which will include a cleaned up version of social networking. And we'll leave the reader conversion task force alone?

18:40, 15 January 2010

That would be acceptable to me.  :) If one of you would just add the new recommendation to the /recommendations page, or let me know what the page name is, I'll do it.

19:13, 15 January 2010

Done. Hopefully I haven't missed it anywhere else.

21:56, 15 January 2010

We propose social network project to "Expanding Content" task force

Let me move proposal to this task force.

I think it is reasonable to deal with social network features in one place.

21:48, 17 January 2010

This is a late reply... I understand the wish for integrating social networking features into the wiki site, as it allows for more direct discussing of issues evolving, but I have a fear: The fear, that it would lead to more closed groups of editors of an article, collaborating only amongst themselves, and rigorously protecting "their" articles from anyone else' edits. Can anyone refute that argument?

12:06, 9 February 2010

Social networking features could be as open as traditional message board, or closed as facebook groups. So I think it depends on the implementation.

12:23, 9 February 2010

I'm glad you share those concerns, because it's a concern that a lot of people have echoed. But as Dafer pointed out, so much depends on the implementation. The more open and broad the groups, the less likely they are to be promoting a narrow agenda. We already have WikiProjects, which have some problems but are generally pretty good about having a diversity of opinions.

I really really want to consult with the foundation on where they're going though, because I'm worried they might miss the potential for disaster.

15:13, 9 February 2010

I think i and Randomran raised loudly our concerns on the potential abuses of the social networking features.

@Randomran I think Philippe diligently transmitted our opinions to the higher-ups.

Bottom line if those features screw up blame the Foundation.

19:29, 9 February 2010

Volunteer recognition

OK, so - in re-reading the recommendations (particularly Volunteer recognition), I'm struck by the fact that while important, this isn't exactly revolutionary. In fact, it's so un-revolutionary that some of it is happening already, organically. I don't mean to minimize the importance, and I'm on board and think it's critical.

My question, though, is this: what's stopping us?

Really, what's keeping us from recognizing volunteers on a more widespread basis? What are the lever points? Where/why have we failed at this?

06:47, 15 January 2010

I agree that there's an organic process. However, I think it would be excellent to have WMF sponsored recognition. What we have is currently community-based. Something that comes from the top would be something that people can refer to when looking for employment and have taken seriously.

11:33, 18 January 2010

I think Philippe is really asking why we haven't done it so far. What do we need to get it in place?

Of the recommendations that Jayne Cravens lays out, which ones would fit the best with Wikimedia? Why?

And how do we pick who gets the recognition/rewards?

16:54, 19 January 2010

Thanks, Randomran, that is what I intended to ask.

17:07, 19 January 2010

To "why it hasn't been done so far" I guess you'd have to ask the WMF! I'm guessing that it's never felt to have been necessary before; the community saw explosive growth, so why dangle any carrots? Now we are in a situation (depending on which source you read and how you interpret the figures) where it's argued that the community is in moderate decline or possibly just stabilised. Even if it is stable, I haven't yet heard anyone argue that growth is not desirable, so I feel that effectively making volunteering more tangibly rewarding is going to help grow the community.

To get it in place I think we do need both financing and leadership from the WMF, which we can only secure by presenting them with the recommendation. I think any of the suggestions would be relevant and a good fit and I'm happy that the list is lengthy as it gives the WMF plenty of scope to make a decision on which they feel they could run with. I'd rather they have a list of, say, ten ways of recognising volunteers and them to choose some than present them with two or three and have them reject all of them and not feel moved to generate any alternatives, thus abandoning the concept all together.

And as to who is chosen; I don't see how the WMF could choose since the population of volunteers is too large (especially bearing in mind we're talking about something that will extend to other languages). The WMF could guide us in terms of how many people they can afford/have time to award and then I strongly feel it would have to be a community decision. You could cut eligibility at a stroke by saying "ten thousand edits required even to be considered". Yes, it's a blunt instrument and there will be injustices but any form of assessment will suffer from that.

Another criterion could be extending recognition only to projects of a certain size, which it could be argued would encourage projects to grow, so that they have access to them.

18:34, 19 January 2010

The point I'm trying to make is this: volunteer recognition doesn't need to be WMF driven. Ideally, it would belong to the projects, since they're close enough to identify the key people. Why are we waiting for the WMF to lead on something that could be done inside the community?

18:38, 19 January 2010

We just need a bit of "standardization" so recognition will be less uneven and unfair as it's now.

Projects will turn those new forms of recognition into their owns flavors.

19:22, 19 January 2010

The reason I feel it has to be WMF driven is that, in the case of certificates, they would have to produce them and they would have to create the barriers to prevent people just printing their own. They would have to be the custodians protecting the value of a certificate. I don't see how that can come from the community. Even if this task were ultimately farmed out to chapters the WMF would have to initiate this new idea and help chapters get up and running with this.

The same pertains to other things on the shopping list; if volunteers were to be recognised on press releases (as one of the ideas on the recommendation suggests) the releases would come from the WMF; the bulletin board idea would be located in the WMF offices; mugs/pins/key fobs would have to be funded centrally... etc.

19:35, 19 January 2010

Press releases and probably certificates would need support from the WMF for sure. Press releases require a kind of legitimacy that some random community member does not have. Certificates require money.

That said, I think the best custodians really are the community. Not to say that we don't have the foundation review some things... but the truth is it's hard to evaluate a great editor when you might have conflicting reports. Only people close to the community can tell you what would be egregious enough to disqualify someone from recognition, or what would be consistent with high community standards.

But at the same time, popularity contests can be really frustrating. And sometimes the people who are at the highest risk of burning out are the ones brave enough to wade into controversial areas, and stand up to a cabal.

This is a tough nut to crack.

00:20, 20 January 2010

I agree it will be tough going to get this right. But I think it's worth going for it. It will start off shabby and return some poor results but it will evolve over time and be subject to continual refinement and improvement; much like any article or policy.

12:16, 20 January 2010

So is consensus the answer? Do we nominate people, and the 100 most popular picks go to the foundation for review?

14:18, 20 January 2010

Maybe there are other ways around this by having the recognitions built into Community driven process.

For example, Wikiprojects could enter names of users into a pool and a lottery chooses which people get top recognition by the Foundation with the rest of the people getting mentions because their names would be linked to pages about the recognition/announcement.

Each Wikiproject could use their own criteria (within reason) for deciding the people to nominate. Content improvement contest winners and project coordinator would be examples of some people that I would expect to see nominated.

This process allows the Foundation to get involved with the recognition but not be burdened with the heavy task of selecting one volunteer over another to recognize.

14:41, 20 January 2010

I honestly don't like the idea of a lottery. That would devalue the recognition; I think luck should be left out of it and it should be based on merit.

14:59, 20 January 2010

The approach that I suggested would combine both merit and chance and allow for more people to be recognized more often. I think a process based entirely on voting would be too limiting in the number of people getting recognitions.

There are 100s of people across hundreds of wikis that are worthy of monthly recognition. We need to recognize as many people as possible. This is just a list of Wikipedias There are also hundreds of sister projects with hardworking dedicated volunteers.

I don't see a practical way to recognize this large of a group of volunteers regularly unless we add a lottery component that hurries up the process some. I trying to be practical. :-)

15:25, 20 January 2010

I think we can recognize a lot of people, but higher accolades are obviously going to go to fewer people. If we're worried about repeat rewards, we have a separate category to reward emerging editors who haven't been rewarded before. Rather than throwing 1000 people into a lottery, we should recognize all of them, with 10% of them getting special recognition along some criteria.

I'm with Bodnotbod that a lottery would devalue the recognition and not really make people feel good about their contributions, nor would it motivate people to work harder. Being passed up because of a dice roll is more frustrating than being passed up because someone else did X more than you did.

15:57, 20 January 2010

Many people would some recognition but only one (or a few) would get the full recognition with press releases and be featured as a top volunteer.

I don't think the a formal process to select monthly winner(s) to profile in a highly visible way would result in a better selection than a lottery anyway because there are simple too many people that all do massive amounts of high quality work.

How would be organize it so that every wiki had a way to select people to be in the running for Wikimedia volunteer of the month and then give every wiki a chance to vote on the people. I don't think that it is practical to put the organizational structure in to do this every month. I don't see how we can move from the local level selection process on hundreds of wikis with multiple collaborative projects to the next step where the people are thinned out for top recognition and profiles each month.

I think the best we can hope for is a process that lets many different Wikiprojects (and other collaborative projects) nominate their own best volunteers and then let a lottery do the final selection of the person for the Foundation to feature in a high profile way.

I'm open to ideas about how your idea would work but I'm skeptical that we can get from local projects to top Wikimedia volunteer in a fair process that gives every one a chance to be recognized for doing the same quality of work. I think it would be an arbitrary choice so I wanted to label it as such by using a lottery.

16:29, 20 January 2010

OK, I think you're on the verge of convincing me, FloNight.

I agree that there's a definite problem with finding the man-hours to actually assess people for recognition-worthiness. After all, we really want people spending time contributing to project content. Not meta or parallel stuff that could be regarded as tangential to our aims.

A lottery does seem to be a good way of relieving the burden of having volunteers spending hours and hours running through someone's contribs. Although it does occur to me that, currently, checking someone's contributions is a little slow; you basically have to click through from one to the next. If someone were able to bring up, say, 50 contribs at a time (showing the actual edit content, not just the summary) then that would be a valuable tool for assessing what a user has been doing.

I don't really have a firm or fixed position on this.

20:43, 21 January 2010

If it *is* an arbitrary choice to feature someone in a newsletter, and we can only do it for a very select few contributors... then maybe it's a bad choice of reward.

There are other rewards, like senior editors, that can potentially reward everyone who puts in the effort to meet the criteria.

We really should focus on the best ones.

20:15, 20 January 2010

I think we should do a variety of these recommendations. Remember that this is a 5 year plan and everything is not going to happen at the same time. So I support both a senior editor and the Foundation recognizing volunteers in a high profile way.

I think the selection of volunteers to feature in press releases and in newsletters is a good idea, and would like to pursue it. I just don't see a way to have a completely community based process that leads to a conclusive result of a single person being "the one" once a month. Translation of everyone's entry so that all communities could vote is not practical on a large ongoing scale. I don't have a problem with the cream of the crop being narrowed by a lottery. I think it is preferable to eliminating non-English speaking people from the entire process.

21:13, 20 January 2010

Keep in mind that recognizing volunteers through news letters, press releases, and other promotional materials are only a small subset of the rewards that Jayne Cravens laid out.

  • Certificates can, in theory, be awarded to everyone who meets a certain criteria.
  • Virtual certificates too, which can be posted to facebook or websites or what not
  • Same thing with Wikipedia paraphernalia (stickers, buttons, mugs, pens, shirts)
  • Thank you letters too...
  • Senior editor status too...

There are other ideas that might be better for a smaller audience:

  • Inviting our best editors to participate in strategic discussions such as these, with a high profile role such as facilitator or team lead
  • Inviting our best editors to conferences and celebrations

I think that we should focus on the best three to five of these and try to apply them to Wikipedia.

I'm sorry to say that I've lost faith in the idea of featuring editors in newsletters, just because there are too many editors to do it in a way that is fair and would actually be rewarding.

03:41, 21 January 2010

Randoman, remember that our work is not primarily for Wikipedia. We are looking at all the Wikimedia Foundation wikis.

19:35, 21 January 2010

Oops :) Slip of the tongue. But yeah, I think we can apply a lot of those ideas towards other projects too. I think that publicizing individual editors is going to be hard. But we can do mass recognition of a lot of editors, special demarkers for great editors online and offline...

Are there any other forms of recognition you like, other than the newsletter approach?

01:01, 22 January 2010

I would encourage you both to be bold and remove any recognition methods from the list you don't feel will work for the projects. Or, perhaps even better, put a heading of something like "traditional recognition methods that won't work for Wikimedia" and place them there with your rationale for suggesting they not be adopted by the WMF; that way the board will still see them and have an opportunity to disagree. It is possible that ones we don't like might get support from the board and they, after all, have the power to make some of them happen.

10:41, 22 January 2010

I guess the question is which forms of recognition would have the most leverage, knowing that Wikipedia is organized how it is, and knowing that editors are how they are. I'm curious what others think. But I'll give it some thought too, and take a shot at it before month's end.

16:33, 22 January 2010

My suggestion would be usernames that scroll through the meta-banners or perhaps under the toolbox. This is currently done on a lot of gaming sites to honor the top players.

An mvp program would be quite nice.

Other than that...physical real world certificates, awards, trophies, and the likes would be something someone could show.

22:39, 22 January 2010

Yeah, I like those ideas because they don't require too many judgment calls. It's not like we're forced to choose between two qualified editors. We can give out a certificate to anyone who meets high standards. We can scroll through every deserving user name on the meta-banner. No lotteries, no "nomination board". Just merit.

00:22, 3 February 2010

Well there would be some judgment calls on certain awards...but for the others, that's pretty much it.=D

03:15, 6 February 2010

Survey INTERIM results

Here are the interim results from the first batch of responses to the survey - please note, this represents only about 12% of the total surveys sent out. This data could change radically, as could the interpretation of it, but it's an interesting peek into the results.

Task force/Community Health/Survey

08:17, 30 January 2010

This is REALLY fascinating. I know the results could change quite significantly. But a lot of it is confirming my experience.

In the long run, do you know if it will be possible to parse the research? For example, would it be possible to separate the results by the number of edits, so we can see if the main reasons for leaving are different for different classes of editors?

15:24, 30 January 2010

Randomran, my understanding is that we can dump the answers to a database and slice/dice them any way we want. Howie will know the answer better than I, though - I'll point him to the question.

23:18, 30 January 2010

Interesting. A significant number of the people responding say that they did not leave. It makes sense that they would be prompt responders (I think). So it will be interesting to see if later responders are similar in this regard. Thanks for the interim update.

16:06, 30 January 2010

Early data are interesting yet as FLoNight mentioned those are prompt responders. If next wave of replies confirm the initial trends then we are into something. Last number that could be useful is how former editors won't reply the survey which isn't quantifiable yet the survey being still under way.

07:14, 31 January 2010

It's important to clearly state that "the next wave" will be the folks that we mail in the next batch... We're dropping these about 10K at a time. After the first group, it sort of muddies.

07:15, 31 January 2010

Yeah, it will be helpful for the sake of the survey just to keep track of who the sample is / how we selected it. If it was alphabetical, or random, or whatever. It's always important that you can follow the trail back to how the survey was administered. Something to keep in mind whenever the next wave starts.

15:16, 31 January 2010

Howie, Philippe, and I chatted about the survey results earlier today, and I wanted to briefly report on what we discussed.

First, as FloNight points out, a significant number of people say they have not stopped contributing. That could be selection bias (e.g. prompt responders), or it could be that our definition of ex-contributors is too rigid. People who are relatively inactive contributors may not edit for three months, but they don't necessarily feel like they've actively left in those cases.

I think it would be useful to ask this question (e.g. "have you stopped contributing?") up front in the survey so that we can segment the responses accordingly.

Second, Howie did a comparison between these results and the results of people who said they edited 10 or more times a month. There were some significant differences. Specifically, people who edited 10 or more times a month were more likely to complain about conflicts within the community. They also were more likely to say that they still had something to contribute to the project. Most of the research tends to lump Wikimedians into contributors and active contributors. This segmentation suggests that we really need to differentiate between active contributors and very active contributors as well.

One of the challenges with these numbers is that they're self-reported. It makes sense to split out this data based on actual behavior.

Next steps:

  • Howie and Philippe are going to work on a second draft of the survey that will ask up-front whether or not the respondent has stopped contributing. We will also batch the surveys according to number of monthly contributions (1-10, 10-99, >99).
  • An amazing number (over 30%) of respondents said that they were willing to be contacted. We should contact them. Would someone here like to coordinate this? I think we should come up with a basic script of questions to ask, and then we should get volunteers to contact a set of respondents and talk to them.
00:33, 3 February 2010

I also want to point out two other possibilites for the "not stopped contributing" - a) I set up another account and am contributing there (ie, i hated my username) or b) I'm contributing without being logged in. Anecdotal evidence suggests there's some of both happening...

As for the "contacting" , we specifically asked about online chat, so this would not necessarily necessitate telephone contact.

00:35, 3 February 2010

I kind of had a feeling that this would happen. But this stuff is hard to do, and it's good that we learn from it and refine it. I agree -- we need to ask better questions up front to segment people into those who left versus those who just scaled back, and those who were active versus those who simply signed up and left. I think you guys have it under control, but I wouldn't mind keeping an eye on it before you finalize the new design.

I would also be very glad to help out with follow up questions. It might be good to make it transparent (without necessarily asking people to give up their anonymity), just so the paranoid types don't accuse us of fudging the results.

I am 100% unsurprised that more active contributors were more likely to cite problems with the community.

04:59, 3 February 2010

We'll post a draft here for feedback before sending out a second batch.

It would be fantastic if you would help with follow-up questions. Would you be up to coordinating the volunteers to help with this effort? Count me in as a volunteer.

08:17, 3 February 2010

Sure. I know a thing or two about primary research / surveys. But more than anything, I'd need to know what Howie and Philippe are trying to achieve.

13:48, 3 February 2010

Great! Just to clarify: by follow-up questions, I meant asking respondents follow-up questions. About 30% said they were willing to talk to someone about their experiences. I think it would be helpful if we followed up with as many people as possible. As Howie has said, it will add texture to the results, and it will give all of us a chance to get some one-on-one time with ex-editors. Who knows? Maybe it will help convince some ex-contributors to come back?

We would need two things: a "script" of questions to ask the various respondents, and volunteers to talk to 3-10 people per volunteer.

How does this sound? Others interested in helping?

15:42, 3 February 2010

Designing adequate follow up questions is tricky business. As you saw with the survey, you learn more as you go along that helps you come up with better questions.

We haven't leveraged the feedback from the open-ended questions yet. I think that would give us the best direction for asking follow up questions. I know we don't want to start invading privacy or anything. But certainly, we could aggregate some of the open-ended responses, and look for trends... that would tell us where to dig in our follow-up interviews.

05:54, 4 February 2010

Howie is working on response aggregation right now. :)

18:10, 4 February 2010

There might be multiple good ways to aggregate them, BTW. One is by the number of edits. But another is by the type of complaint -- some who said "complexity was/wasn't a reason", some who said "community was/wasn't a reason". The more we can parse and re-parse the data, the better.

21:31, 4 February 2010

I think Howie and Eugene are working on some word counts, clouds, etc... but I'm not sure exactly. :) Maybe they'll jump in....

22:21, 4 February 2010

I find the responses, although they have to be taken with an amount of caution, make me feel quite a bit more positive about community health as it stands.

15:48, 3 February 2010

Proposed Strategy Task Force

Hi everyone,

Over the past few weeks, there's been some great discussions about the task force recommendations. There's some great energy here on this wiki, and I want to start moving toward completion. That includes:

To get this work done, I'm proposing the creation of a Strategy Task Force. I hope that you all will read and help refine the proposal, and I especially hope that many of you sign up for the Task Force. Let's also move the discussions there so that we can have a central place to discuss next steps for strategy. Thanks!

08:46, 3 February 2010

"logged-in only" editing

Yes, anonymous editing again. I've been really skeptical of this, because I believe in openness, almost as much as I believe in privacy. But I found some new evidence that is worth weighing:

I did a lot of positive work as an anon/IP. But I was never treated that well. Definitely never became integrated into the community. Once I slipped into my username, I understood why. An IP feels like a ghost -- a username gives you the faintest outline of a person. And people were much more welcoming and supportive. I became part of a dialog and contributed more. And enjoyed contributing more. ... but I've never wanted to force anyone to sign up a user name if they wanted to edit... until now?

Honestly, if we want people to have a better first experience with Wikipedia, and users have better experiences than IPs... this starts to make more and more sense.

01:12, 23 January 2010

This would definitely be a bold change. It would be great if a project were willing to step up, be bold, and ban anonymous editing as an experiment. Perhaps it's worth discussing if the strategy wiki is interested in doing this?

18:12, 2 February 2010

I'm actually not sure it WOULD be great for a project to do this.

I think it's more important that it be done in a measured and careful way. I'm not sure throwing a full project on the experiment is really the way to go...

18:24, 2 February 2010

It's a tough one, I can see good arguments for and against stopping anon edits. As far as proposing this for strategy; there was at least one proposal suggesting this. I think it would have been worth discussing some time back if we really wanted to give the idea a chance. It's probably also fair to say that this option has already gone through the minds of most people on the WMF. In other words, I doubt there's anyone there that hasn't considered it. Since there appears to be nothing coming from them about it perhaps it's fair to assume that there's currently no interest in pursuing this?

19:59, 2 February 2010

You're right, it probably would have been better to discuss earlier. But if people are interested, I see no reason why we can't have that discussion now. Just needs someone motivated driving it.

I'm confused about your reference to the Wikimedia Foundation. Why are they relevant here? Don't the projects decide this policies for themselves?

20:02, 2 February 2010

I'm actually kind of opposed to this in principle, but mostly because the community has always had the conventional wisdom that IP editing = openness. But that interview gave me a new perspective. What if IP editing is generating more heat than light, and causing the community to close up? What if asking people to log-in first will actually make it easier for them to join the community? What if log-ins are good for openness?

Again, 20 Wikis on Wikia do it this way, and it supposedly leads to better content AND better community. There are no ghosts floating in vapor. People are people, and interaction becomes more human.

I wouldn't recommend just jumping in. But I'm very curious to get some data. A trial is exactly what we need, if we could figure out a good place to try first.

00:20, 3 February 2010

A parallel discussion is going on over at the Wikipedia Quality Task Force discussion page. I suggest we continue that discussion there.

08:32, 3 February 2010

Better late than never...? :)


I just wanted to let everyone know that the ex-contributor survey is live. Andrew started the first batch of 10,000 users this morning, and this batch will continue for the next few hours.

As an FYI, Philippe and Andrew identified a bug where 528 users received an email with an incorrect username. The bug has been fixed, so going forward, the usernames should all be correct. If we continue to have this issue, we will switch the salutation to something generic such as "Dear Wikipedia Contributor."

Regarding the survey:

Here is the link to the actual survey, but please do not fill it out as the survey is live: <contact Philippe if you need it>

The wiki page which contains the questions/answers may also be found here:

I've pasted the text of the email below.

We're sending out the survey in batches of 10,000 so we can throttle the number sent out depending on the response rate. We're targeting users that have made between 10-99 lifetime edits, none of which have been made in the past three months. We're also making sure the most recent edit for these users was in 2009.

Huge thanks to Andrew for all his work in getting the survey out. Thanks also to everyone on this thread for refining the survey. I'm really looking forward to seeing the results -- so far we've received 41 total responses (31 complete and 10 incomplete), which is very encouraging start :)


Ex-contributor survey email text

Subject: Survey from Wikipedia

Email Text:

Hello <username>!

We are studying the habits of Wikipedia contributors, seeking to identify and address reasons why people stop contributing. We noticed that you haven't made any edits in a while, and we're wondering where you've been.

We would appreciate 5 minutes of your time to complete an online survey. We're constantly looking for ways to improve our community and your responses will help us understand what Wikipedia is doing well and what we can improve on.

Please click on the link below to be directed to the survey.

Thank you for contributing to Wikipedia and for your help in improving our community.

The Wikimedia Community Health Task Force

The Wikimedia Community Health Task Force represents a group volunteers examining ways to improve the health of the communities for the Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia.

As always, we are very careful to protect your privacy. Responses will be reviewed anonymously and data will be presented in aggregate form only.

02:07, 27 January 2010

Excellent! And great that some are coming back in :-) Keep us updated.

03:31, 27 January 2010

Excited to see how it turns out. Will you be varying the edit count at all, and expanding the sample?

05:16, 27 January 2010

Like Random, I'm very interested to see the results of this, we should learn a lot.

09:13, 27 January 2010

Yea better late than never. It will add some spices in the late discussion over the recommendations.

10:08, 27 January 2010

Former Contributors Survey

I wanted to let everyone know that we sent out the first batch of surveys to former contributors today. The goal of this research is to get a better understanding of why contributors stop editing Wikipedia. More information on the survey may be found on this page: Former Contributors Survey. Results will be posted on this page once the survey is complete.

A special thanks to Randomran for the help in developing the survey!

02:38, 27 January 2010

My pleasure. Looking forward to the results.

How did you find the survey group? Oops, saw it in another post :) Any idea if you'll be targeting editors with more edits?

05:10, 27 January 2010

Welcoming, motivating & recruiting new users: suggestions

Hi, I'm a relatively new Wikipedian (started editing in November), and here are a couple of ideas I have on how to motivate & welcome new users.

A. Welcoming Users

1) I think that welcome templates that emphasize that the person adding the template is an actual friendly person who is happy to see a newcomer on Wikipedia are particularly encouraging (as opposed the informational templates with a whole bunch of links that look like they could have been placed by a bot). A friendly picture to accompany the message is nice too. Also, I'm guessing that the more the welcome is personalized, the better; ie, if a newcomer has just made a nice article on X topic, they'll probably appreciate knowing that you thought it's a nice article and were interested to see it. User:TeaDrinker did an interesting study on the affect of welcoming new users at: (Conclusion: welcoming new users who had not yet edited produced a small, but not statistically significant, increase in the probability that the new editor would edit). I wonder if it would be worthwhile to conduct other studies on the affect of welcoming new users of various types in various ways.

2) I was recently looking through the new article list, and noticed that quite a lot of new article creators had no welcome on their talk page. This was true even for a lot of the creators of new articles at the tail end of the list, with month-old articles. Some of these users had stayed active and had even made more than one new article; but no one had welcomed them yet. Maybe, welcoming new users could be part of the new page patrol? New users who have created new articles on the list but not been welcomed yet could be marked, just as new articles that have not yet been reviewed are marked. It might also be nice to post some friendly feedback about the article at this point.

3) One unfortunate affect of not welcoming new users rapidly is that the first communication with the new user is then likely to be something negative (like a message from a bot or a notification that their article has been nominated for deletion), which is discouraging. Maybe bots that are creating new talk pages could also place a notification somewhere to encourage welcoming of the new user? And people placing templates on new talk pages should be encouraged to place a welcome message first (which many people do seem to do anyway :-)

B. Motivating Users

1) One thing I personally find very exciting about writing for Wikipedia is that people actually **do** read the articles here. If I write an article for, say, my blog, my immediate family will see it; if I write for my school newspaper, my classmates will see it; if I write an article for Wikipedia, thousands of people who live around the world may read it. For users who are creating new content, I think that pointing new users towards the Page View statistics on the history page of their article, and suggesting how they can get more people to see their article (formatting their article nicely; linking from other appropriate articles; adding their article to categories; writing a DYK) will help to motivate them to remain active.

2) The other aspect of writing for Wikipedia that I find particularly exciting is that on Wikipedia, users with many different views who live around the world work towards a common goal. Where else could I collaboratively write an article with people currently sitting in New York, Islamabad, London, Tokyo, Mogadishu, and Brisbane? I'm not sure how to translate this extremely exciting aspect of the Wikipedia community into actual policies for motivating new users, except to suggest that Wikipedians actively work on improving the diversity of the Wikipedia community.

C. Recruiting Users

1) I wonder whether it would be a good idea for service organizations/school groups/etc to be encouraged to edit Wikipedia? I could imagine, for example, a college chapter of Amnesty International organizing efforts to improve Wikipedia coverage on journalists in Eritrea, or a grad student reading group on statistics organizing themselves to improve wikipedia coverage on the statistics topics that they are reviewing. Does much editing happen through locally organized groups, and would this be a good idea? I could imagine negative effects of this kind of organized editing, too (ie, POV pushing).

2) One major source of potential editors seems to be users in mainland China, since about a billion people are deterred from editing Wikipedia by the Great Firewall. I see that there are some efforts to allow people to edit through the Great Firewall, but wonder if it would be useful to look into how to make it easier and safer for users in mainland China to edit Wikipedia.

Thanks, CordeliaNaismith 15:26, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

15:26, 22 January 2010

Thanks for joining in.

You are welcome :)

More we are the merrier.

16:07, 22 January 2010

Hey Cordelia, thanks for your ideas. I definitely agree that for a lot of new users, their first interaction is negative. Even in cases where they are welcomed, it's very impersonal and overwhelming. You get a giant template that's about as personal as Wikipedia's front page.

I'm not sure we can change how people welcome new users (let alone the fact that a lot of them don't get welcomed at all). Remember that it's a volunteer project, and people will blow off anything that they don't have to do. And if we make it so that they *have* to do it, we're back to cookie-cutter, impersonal welcome messages.

But one area where we CAN have an impact is making it harder to get away with "biting a newbie". We can't force them to be nice, but we've been trying to force people to stop being rude. It hasn't been working, though, because there's a ton of excuses. The two biggest ones, "I didn't realize they were new", and "I was in a hurry".

I had two ideas for that:

  • Put a "new" marker next to all new users. (Now you have to realize they were new.)
  • Make it possible to drop a comment to a user without leaving the "article history" page. (Now you can leave a comment as quickly as you can put in an edit summary.)

Maybe people will still be jerks. But then they will have fewer excuses for getting away with it, and we can do something about those problem editors.

16:59, 22 January 2010

final five recommendations

Based on our prior discussion, we narrowed down our list of potential recommendations to six. The great news is we now have five recommendations that are presentable to the foundation. We don't have a lot of time to improve them further, but I'm re-assured that submitting them to the foundation will be the start of a dialog.

There's a consensus that two of them are particularly important (although maybe we need more feedback to pin down the final details):

There are another three that need more discussion.

There's a significant overlap between all of the recommendations, but they all have a slightly different focus. I see the overlap as a good thing: it reinforces good ideas, so that the foundation is less likely to ignore them.

We don't have much time left. But before we scramble through the finish line, I just want to thank and congratulate everyone. I'm really pleased with the ideas and dialog that everyone contributed, and hopefully these final recommendations reflect that.

02:52, 11 January 2010


This team has been absolutely fantastic. Please accept my sincere thanks on behalf of everyone involved with the project.

It isn't over yet - now comes the fun part.  :-)


04:23, 11 January 2010

That would do for me but it will need much more fine tuning but the essential is there.

@Randomran You know my "not much impressed" stance toward FA makers. "Senior editor" qualifying with equivalent experience part will need more development and certainly have to make it into the final cut. FA makers have already the lion share in recognition and fame. Now if the "senior editor" can be used for recognition of the others Experienced & Quality contents makers then the better.

09:13, 11 January 2010

Re: Senior editors...

I'm definitely interested in "equivalent experience" too. I'm curious to see what ideas other people have to offer.

Completing a few FAs is a pretty high standard. So I couldn't imagine building a consensus for a more "impressive" standard than that. But my thinking was that completing GAs or A-class articles would be an equivalent, as would making a strong effort to save an article at a featured article review. Just that FAs are one of the only accomplishments that are awarded by consensus, and it was important to create a simple standard for "senior editor" that reflects community ideals without becoming a political contest (see RFA). Qualifying by approval of the community was added as a "catch all" to cover other reputable editors, but there's a lot of demand to avoid that kind of vote.

In my mind, it wouldn't be terrible if an experienced editor without any FAs were suddenly motivated to spend a few days building one. If they really understand verifiability and neutrality and so on, it wouldn't be particularly hard to do. But yeah, this idea is something we need to work on.

15:36, 11 January 2010

If you look at FAC, the process has a backlog. Many of the problems with promoting articles are due to copyediting type problems, image issues (Fair use problems and such), and other issues that are not necessarily related to core policy about neutrality or verifiability. Also, we have disputes on English Wikipedia between editors about FA and GA that cause people to leave Wikipedia. So, I'm not sure that the new status would resolve the problem. It might intensify them.

But that aside, I support the new role as long as we broaden the criteria to include more people that contribute to adding quality content. Like on Wikinews where they have editor as a status. Maybe make Senior Editor a role above novice editor. But I'm not sure that it needs to be exclusive to people that write FA. That is a very limited group and would cause massive problems if everyone tried to have their articles go through the FA process.

15:59, 11 January 2010

The backlog is a significant issue. But we can tackle it, if we discuss it. If we get more people involved in FAs, it's possible we could actually reduce the backlog. (e.g.: by requesting that people who nominate featured articles also participate in other FA nominations)

The challenge with "senior editors" is we want the status to be granted by consensus. WikiNews currently does a simple vote on each nominee, but Sue Gardner cautioned us against that. On larger projects like Wikipedia, the politics of RFA have gotten ugly, and senior editors shouldn't be a political position. Featured Articles are one of the few ways we can measure the quality of a contribution that still reflects consensus. Yeah, I'm sure there are FA discussions that get controversial, but I can't envision a standard for "senior editors" that somehow reflects consensus while avoiding controversy. Where you find consensus-building, you find at least some controversy.

We can definitely lower/change the bar for "senior editors", but the standard would have to:

  1. Reflect community consensus about reputation/quality
  2. Avoid some kind of political vote on nominees (although nominees could volunteer to undergo a vote if they are an exceptional case)

I think we agree this is an issue, so let's see what suggestions people have.

16:26, 11 January 2010

Reposting an expanded version of what i posted in the Wikipedia quality discussion.

  1. Understanding of Verifiability, Neutral PoV & No Original Research
  2. Contribution to GA/FL/FA and/or GA/FL/FA rescue
  3. Collaborative works, can play nice with others editors and find compromise
  4. Knowledgeable in Wikipedia inner-process (Notice board, request protection, sock investigation, etc...)
  5. Understanding of the inherent Systemic Bias and its own personal biases
  6. Ability to admit its own mistakes and apologize

FA won't make you a senior editor as some FA makers showed lack of judgment and will to reach compromise. The English ArbCom know a few of them :p

Another concerning point is "senior editors" subtly trying to spread their wikipedia vision on new editors unaware that other visions exist. Can we trust a notable deletionist multi FA/FL/GA editor to offer neutral guidance to new editors?

Well i said already plenty enough about "senior editors" and how much i'm not uber fan of them due to their probable inability to live up to our expectations. Let's community try them but for my part i fear that out laziness and bureaucratic handling people will make the FA maker = "senior editor" shortcut in their minds.

18:45, 11 January 2010

It might be more useful to continue this conversation here:


I included the noticeboard idea, because that's tactile. I agree with the others in spirit... but implementation is tricky. I think FAs and noticeboards cover a lot of them though, with a check on people who have been sanctioned for bad conduct in the past.

20:26, 11 January 2010

I have some thoughts/concerns about "volunteer recognition":

  • What is the appropriate entity to grant "formal" recognition? We have a board and staff, but their role is to support the content creation and editorial activities of the volunteer community, not to judge it; that's pretty fundamental to how Wikimedia works. We have chapters, but I would think those have a similar role. We have WikiProjects in various states of organization and activity. The WikiProject I know of has a "collaboration of the week"; it's run by one volunteer, and he gives out a "thumbs-up" to one editor every week, thanking them for "leading the way" on the collaboration. In short, my view is that it's entirely appropriate to have WikiProjects giving out awards, but I'm concerned about the legal entities getting into that realm. So, a question I'd like to explore would be "how can we encourage/support WikiProjects and similar groups to develop and sustain formal volunteer recognition programs?"
  • How are volunteers selected? For both the recognizing body and the volunteer body, I think it would be important to have a common understanding of how volunteers are selected. Two reasons": (1) it should be fair, so that a hard-working volunteer feels they have a reasonable chance of earning the recognition; and (2) it should be rigorous, to avoid embarrassment to the granting entity. (Imagine this: An award is given out to an anonymous editor, or an editor who was not thoroughly vetted, who wrote an FA biography of a politician. Later, either privately or publicly, it becomes known that the editor was the chair of that politician's fundraising committee.)

Several of you have been discussing the criteria, and I think that's a good discussion to have, too -- I would want to think about edits to a topic area, as well. For instance, creating high-quality stubs for the CEO's of all Fortune 500 companies, or uploading photos of all former heads of state in Europe, or taking photos of all significant buildings that have Wikipedia articles in a certain city. Also, volunteers who exercise leadership in their community, even though they may not be writing an article themselves; those who reach out to museums or educators, for instance.

00:37, 14 January 2010

Those are both really good questions. I think the recommendation was aimed at a more general level than that. First, we should do it. Second, there are a lot of smart ways to do it that work well with Wikipedia. That's the extent of what we have in the recommendation right now.

Selecting who should be awarded goes hand in hand with figuring out who should select/grant the award. I suppose there is a very communitarian approach, where we trust a group of editors, but then there are risks of cabals. There is also a more objective approach, where we focus on quantifiable successes, but then we risk ignoring important qualitative factors. An editor who did all the requisite edits, but turns out to be a jerk. Or an editor who fell short of the metrics, but is respected by the whole community.

05:17, 14 January 2010

Randomran, thanks for the thoughtful response. I'm getting a clearer picture of what is and isn't the goal here, from your words and from reviewing the text again.

I think one of the things that contributed to my confusion is the way that Jayne Cravens' recommendations are presented. Her recommendations are not said to be this group's recommendations, but in the absence of some careful introductory text about how this group does regard the recommendations, I believe that is the natural assumption.

Her recommendations are much more specific than the "general level" you suggest; and furthermore, while I do not doubt that they are informed by "…experience regarding communications, community/volunteer involvement, and capacity-building for nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations/civil society, government-based community programs, and corporate philanthropy programs," they do not appear to reflect a very sophisticated understanding of how Wikimedia or its various sub-cultures and authoritative bodies operate. As any consultant will agree, general or preliminary recommendations are a very different thing the kind of recommendation that results from an in-depth client needs assessment and analysis.

So, I would suggest that we focus some attention on how her recommendations are introduced, lest we give the impression that merely implementing her specific recommendations is our general, strategic recommendation.

21:24, 14 January 2010

Yeah, I think Jayne Cravens did a fantastic job explaining what other not-for-profit organizations do. But we haven't really taken a strong position about which ones Wikimedia should focus on, and which are the most compatible with the community culture we have now.

For what it's worth, we have had very specific suggestions from the community here:

Category:Proposals for editor awards or rewards

We may want to pick out the best handful, and use them to build up some kind of ideal reward system.

23:05, 14 January 2010

In keeping with the desire for this recommendation to be a general framework/strategy, I think it might be good to put recommendations reflecting general non-profit expertise (like Cravens') and recommendations reflecting deep familiarity with the Wikimedia universe (like those from the community) in a separat, linked document (or an appendix). Then, we could focus in the main document on making a general recommendation for how such specific recommendations should be handled. What do you think of that?

00:08, 15 January 2010

That seems to make sense to me. I'd like to use the "general non-profit expertise" as supporting material -- proof that other people do it and it's a good idea. But it should all be used to support the best few recommendations from the community (which we should refine to make better).

I think the best place to start is to flag a few of the best rewards in that category. Are there any of them that you particularly like?

(Note: a new thread has been started on volunteer recognition, asking for something a bit more specific.)

00:33, 15 January 2010

Does anonymity give rise to hostility?

I wonder if there is a connection between the hostility towards new contributors and the fact that most of them have no user page and therefore no visible identity. In the past I followed quite a few cases where (a) the tone of the conversation with newly registered users who had no user page was much more aggressive than with such users who created a user page within their first edits and (b) the tone became more friendly, once the new user created a user page (i.e. long-term community members got to know who was behind that account). To sum it up: Is is perhaps easier to be unfriendly with someone you can't look into the eyes? Or: Can we improve civility by inviting new users to upload a picture and write a short paragraph about who they are as part of the registration process? I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

23:30, 28 December 2009

I've heard rumors about people feeling terrorized on Wikipedia, and people using personal information against each other. As much as it's a nice thought, I see decreased anonymity as fueling the potential for personal attacks.

03:32, 29 December 2009

I made the opposite experience: on my home wiki, I participate under my real name since 2005 and never had problems with personal attacks based on the fact that people could look into my eyes. And I can't see how "inviting" people to share some information about their interests (which are quite obvious after they've made the first 50 edits) fuels the potential for personal attacks.

Moreover, a growing number of people complains (on blogs, in interviews, etc.) about the fact that Wikipedia feels emotionally cold and "misses the chance to give itself a personal face".

But aside from anecdotes and rumours – how can we measure the effects of improving the human side of Wikipedia?

17:20, 29 December 2009

Yeah, I've always been very skeptical of editors who claim they've experienced real life harassment. Especially because there are editors who are so open about their personal lives and never encounter problems.

Other personalities seem to seek out and almost enjoy conflict, even masochistically so. They are the kind of people who would lie about being harassed in real life, or would have the kind of behavior pattern that would put them at risk. Honestly, banning some editors who love to stir conflict is as much about protecting people as it is about protecting the encyclopedia. Someone always gets hurt, even if only psychologically.

Anyway, I see this idea as (at the very least) doing no harm. So long as it's voluntary.

17:30, 29 December 2009

In my own experience, a large number of people on Wikipedia misuse anonymity to act in a way they would never act if everybody knew who they were. I acknowledge that for some people anonymity is important (e.g. users writing in topic areas that reveal their sexual orientation; people using their work time to write Wikipedia articles). But after being a Wikipedian for nearly four years now, I've come to the conclusion that the bad side of anonymity and sockpuppetry outweights by far the good side.

17:33, 29 December 2009

So, how about improving the registration process and testing the new feature for 2–3 months? E.g. Five out of ten users get an invitation to create a user page and upload a picture; afterwards, we track how many of them got involved in conflicts with other users (compared to the group of users who were not invited to do so).

Any other ideas how to measure success?

17:45, 29 December 2009

That's actually a pretty direct way to test it out, and it makes a lot of sense. Just make sure we test the pilot group against some kind of control group (I think that's what you meant). We can probably understand a lot about their experience from watching their activity at different types of pages (article space, talk space, project space), and particularly pay attention to their involvement in Wikiquette Alerts and what not.

17:53, 29 December 2009

I agree with Frank's general assessment: that there is some kind of correlation between civility and community members knowing one another.

For community members to post some information about themselves does not require that they expose themselves to attack. There are many different ways to represent oneself.

Like Frank, I have used my real name on Wikipedia and nearly every Internet-related community for the past several years, and have found it empowering and positive, almost without exception.

Other Wikimedians choose not to reveal their names, but post brief essays about their interests, their goals, or the kind of work they do off-wiki.

I believe there's a lot of promise in developing strategies that encourage Wikimedians to put a bit of effort into introducing themselves to the community.

Here is a page that may be of interest: w:Wikipedia:WikiProject Oregon/Introductions

21:05, 12 January 2010

Draft Recommendation 4 - aka Social Networking / Social Features needs your help!


I've put together a draft on social aspects here:


I feel a bit stuck, though. Would anyone else like to chip in? Be as aggressive as you like; I'm not greatly enamoured of the way I've drafted the section that has the bulleted numbers. If you're not feeling bold, please at least put down your thoughts, no matter how vague, on its discussion page. We are running short of time now, so I'd like to hear from everyone as soon as you're able.

12:02, 6 January 2010

Hey Bodnotbod, it looks good so far. I think there is a lot of good support up here. But you want to lead with the concrete recommendations. I guess that's the "memes" thing you have right now. The support can come afterwards.

I'm going to be pushing pretty hard on all the recommendations since we're coming up against the deadline soon. I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but just in case I seem very intense. Let's try to get our best four recommendations forward.

Of all the recommendations on our shortlist, social networking features make me the most nervous. It really comes down to one thing: how do we stop people from abusing social networking features? Social behavior and anti-social behavior go through the same channels and tools. Open those channels, and you see greater positives AND negatives.

Take groups. Groups function well when there are diverse points of view on, say, politics. But what if I put together a "pro-conservative" or "pro-liberal" group? In fact, what if I get even more sly, and just create a "conservative" group, and invite a slew of users (on and off wiki) who are pro-conservative? It's the same thing for anything. Homeopathy, Astrology, even Fiction seem to attract people who are very "pro"-biased towards that content, without considering issues like neutrality or weight.

Another issue is hounding. If we make it easier to follow what other users are doing, this will make it easier for stubborn editors to interfere with other users. The most active users will be able to frustrate less active users, and they'll leave. How do we ensure that people follow each other in a way that is collaborative?

... and not TOO collaborative? What if we have people following each other, forming an unofficial group with some kind of shared viewpoint? We're back to the group problem, with issues like canvassing, votestacking, and opinion cartels.

If we're going to facilitate greater social behavior, we need to simultaneously make it harder to engage in anti-social behavior. If we can't do that, I'd strongly push to postpone any addition of social features.

17:48, 7 January 2010

I agree with and share your concerns. However, I think that anything we can think of to make anything easier will always be open to abuse: easier editing? Easier vandalism. Easier communication? Easier to insult people. More inviting to people? More inviting to vandals.

So, whilst I share your concerns I think that we have to assume good faith and then we still have rules to sanction people behaving badly and will have to use those when needed.

13:08, 9 January 2010

I just don't think the benefit outweighs the cost, in this one case. Take "volunteer recognition/rewards" as a counter-example. Yeah, there's a risk that you reward undeserving or even bad editors. But that's a minor problem compared to empowering cabals. Cabals and factions and other battleground behavior might actually be THE problem we're facing (at least, much of the evidence points that way). And social networking makes it possible for those cabals to organize with increased effectiveness.

I don't think this means "axe social features", although it definitely puts it on the chopping block. What would save it? If the proposal also included some checks and balances. Ideas that try to close loopholes and exploits, or at least try to anticipate abusive behaviors and come up with remedies.

17:48, 9 January 2010

Finding and interviewing ex-editors

I guess to answer question 2 we need to find and interview people that used to contribute. One suggestion for this that springs to mind is to ask the question on any other forums we're members of. For example, I contribute to a fairly busy forum related to a national newspaper. I could just throw the question out ("has anyone here edited a Wikimedia project and stopped? If so, why did you leave?") and see if anyone bites.

Another approach is to go to the projects themselves and ask "are you thinking of leaving? If so, why?"

18:56, 29 October 2009

These are good ideas. We could definitely use some more informal feedback. I'll try to think of something more scientific that we can do relatively quickly, so we have a more representative sample to work from. Randomran 21:02, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

21:02, 29 October 2009

Sounds good, Random. I might be wrong but I dimly recall there *was* a survey done that got input from leavers or those thinking of leaving. But I can't remember where I may have seen it. I have had some feedback from the newspaper forum I mentioned. I'll post it all when I have all the feedback. But so far it does seem to chime with what others have said and reported on here; that people were put off by fighting editing battles and being reverted.

16:37, 30 October 2009

That's interesting and pretty helpful. I guess it's the only thing that would make intuitive sense. People either leave on good terms because they have some exciting opportunities, or they leave on bad terms probably because of editing battles.

17:49, 30 October 2009

Then again, and I'm only half-joking, I think some people get addicted *because* of the battles :o)

19:26, 30 October 2009

Hehe. I know you're joking. But I think some amount of debate is healthy, and most people who love knowledge will love a good debate. The problem is when we create an environment where it's fun to compete for influence, and rally some troops, and try to get their "enemies" in trouble. Then we have a battleground, and it's less attractive to jump in, and burnout is more common.

19:31, 30 October 2009

I really like this informal approach of leveraging everyone's contacts--seems like a great way to pull valuable insights/perspectives quickly.

19:33, 30 October 2009

Yeah, I agree this is helpful. Just that we may need to take them with a grain of salt, since they may not represent the population at large. We should use them to brainstorm ideas and insights, but should avoid relying on them for firm conclusions.

19:36, 30 October 2009

I agree. Seeking out informal views is good as a way to get broader input about a matter. But we need to consider the views as a snapshot of a subgroup's thinking about the situation. Taken in that context, the insights offered can enhance our knowledge since they might fill in gaps or at least give us a sketchy idea of missing perspectives. By considering it this way we don't give too much weight to what might turn out to be a tiny minority opinion. If over time the opinions are repeated, then we'll know that we are on to something significant and we (or someone else) can more fully document the views in a more formal way. Our end product is part of a bigger process. There will be opportunities for others to take what we find and build on it if it is something interesting that we don't fully flesh out. FloNight 10:51, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

10:51, 31 October 2009

Totally agree, FloNight.

21:15, 3 November 2009

Why not ask some retired or inactive users directly? There must be loads of former users who activated email on their accounts and still have those email addresses.

21:40, 1 November 2009

Howie Fung, who's doing some work for the Foundation, is interested in doing an "exit" survey of contributors who leave. This is a good opportunity to combine interests and actually get this information. I'm pointing Howie to this thread so he can contribute himself.

In the meantime, I'd like to encourage someone to summarize this thread and to start collecting ideas on whom to survey and what questions to ask.

22:12, 3 November 2009

This is great news! I'd like to work with him on the survey. I think this has the potential to be our most useful source of data. But we want to get a good mix of questions, without overwhelming people to the point that they don't feel like answering.

23:16, 3 November 2009

We also need a different survey for different stages of leaving. Users we survey on the first, second or third anniversary of their last edit are likely to have acquired some perspective on their experience; whilst users who just posted "retired" on their users page more often than not will be back in a day or two.

07:30, 4 November 2009

Do you think we'd ask them different questions? Or would we just get different answers? If the latter, then we can probably just ask a few questions about timing up front... and then see if there are any trends based on that.

16:04, 4 November 2009

I've started summarising this at Proposal:Survey Former users

08:33, 4 November 2009

Thanks to Eekim for introducing me to this thread. I think it’s great that there are folks in the community who are keen on the idea of getting a better understanding of why contributors leave. I think the people on this thread have a good understanding of the pitfalls of doing research like this (e.g., representativeness of sample), so I’m not overly worried about us misinterpreting the information that comes back. I do think a meaningful distinction to make is very active contributor vs. someone who might have made a handful of edits and then left. My guess is that the reasons for leaving would be different for these two groups so it’s probably worth treating them separately.

I think the idea of contacting these users directly (vs. say an online survey) is a good one. This allows us to keep the questions open ended and not presume answers. We may not be able to contact as many users, but I think we'll get more textured information. I do think we should ask a set of questions which are consistent across each group. This will help us calibrate the data. But we should also stay flexible. I’m sure these conversations will lead us down unexpected paths, which is a very good thing. We can also do an online survey, but I think the objectives would be different.

22:56, 5 November 2009

Does this group have a good sense of why people are leaving? In reviewing all of the available research, two themes popped out really clearly to me: polices are a big problem, and people just aren't nice to one another! (You can find some of this research at Participation.)

I wonder if we could brainstorm potential solutions (via the Template:Recommendations posted up, for example) before looking for additional granularity via a new survey. My sense is that this group has good networks within the community, and you all also have a good sense of why people are leaving or not contributing more than they would otherwise.

It also strikes me that we're focusing heavily on ex-editors, though this task force is about community health broadly. Issues we might want to consider more generally include how we might make Wikipedia a friendlier place overall.

00:26, 10 November 2009

I think you raise a good point about making Wikipedia a healthier (friendlier, more productive) place for all editors. I think that reducing the turnover of ex-editors (both veteran editors and newbies who don't like their first few weeks) is important, but hopefully we can find some recommendations that will also make Wikipedia better for the people who have stuck around as is.

01:48, 10 November 2009

Not sure if this is a already known but: Ubuntu is a linux distribution, started afaik partially because of the harsh nature of the Debian project. One of the tools they use is:

Maybe we can look at what other (open source) projects did as well who where dealing with these issues?

08:53, 16 November 2009

That's a nice statement of ideals...

13:54, 16 November 2009

That's very interesting! I would like to learn more about the people who founded that spin-off. What prompted them to start Ubuntu, and whether it's improved things. Is there anyone influential in that community that we can interview?

16:35, 16 November 2009

Benjamin Mako Hill is a Wikimedia advisor and is a long-time Debian contributor. He also helped Ubuntu design its community process. Bridgespan interviewed him, but I don't see his notes under Interviews. John, can you provide some insight?

19:34, 16 November 2009

I think I now some slightly less influential people, I'll ask around Henna 00:07, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

00:07, 17 November 2009

Unfortunately, Benjamin Mako Hill hasn't gotten back to us just yet with approval to post up his notes publicly! But I'll start reaching out to Ubunut to set up time to chat. Do we have any key questions that we would like to hit on?

18:31, 17 November 2009

It is a vital question, and IMHO a survey of editors who left is likely to be one of the most informative and important initiatives that the task forces here could achieve. --Piotrus 20:10, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

20:10, 25 November 2009

Can I ask if you folks are moving forward with a survey?

I raise it because on the weekend, I happened to be reading the history of the enWP 2008 Mumbai attacks article, and I was startled to find that three editors who had made substantial, excellent contributions to that article have since "retired." These were great editors, and I would really like to know why they left, and what might have persuaded them to stay. I'm not suggesting their stories would necessarily be representative of other people's --- to me, it just reinforced the need for a survey, in general.

I also think JohnF is right, and both current and former editors should be surveyed.

18:34, 7 December 2009

+1 :)

18:46, 7 December 2009

Eekim is working closely with Howie on that.  :)

18:46, 7 December 2009

We'll be putting up a survey over the next few days. We've taken the existing proposal (at Proposal:Survey_Former_users) and will be condensing it so that it's a little easier to complete. I'll update the team once it is up and running.

00:53, 9 December 2009

Hey Howie, could we get a closer look at it before you throw it up?

I promise not to raise so much of a stink that it becomes too long. But just want to be sure that the most important questions are there, and take one last look at the phrasing. Some of the stuff we had was sloppy.

Let us know :)

01:44, 9 December 2009

Frank's proposal

Frank Schulenburg, the WMF Head of Public Outreach, has put up a proposal that I think is a pretty good summary of current needs and dreams. It's at Proposal:Improving_our_platform. I wonder what folks on this group think of it?

00:42, 3 December 2009

I think the main reason why many do not edit in WP and other of its sister's project is because of the community itself. Articles written by new users or perhaps registered by an IP address are usually checked again and edit thoroughly compared to articles written by frequent users. There seems to be discrimination and bias in editing articles.

For example, on Wikinews, article written by new users aren't publish directly as they will be check again. If the subject is not suitable, the article is deleted without any acknowledgment to them.

It is the perception in existing users that matters as it affects new users.

07:32, 21 December 2009

I think it looks really great. I'm looking forward to seeing him finish it off. WYSIWYG is a big one. In terms of community health, I think he's missing out on a lot of other complicated tasks that could be simplified.

The jury is still out on social networking, because there's the potential for them to be misused. I see it a lot like creating a bloodbank. If we do it right, there's a huge upside for community health. But if there are already diseases, a bloodbank becomes a vehicle to spread contamination.

21:45, 22 December 2009

Hi all, thanks a lot for your feedback. To me, the situation in a nutshell looks like the following:

(1) For new contributors it's not obvious what kind of support we need. People open a page and all links on that page are blue. And if they find something they can fix, they struggle with the wiki-markup in the editbox. And after they finally pushed the save-button, someone leaves a cryptic message full of abbreviations on their talk page and tells them how many mistakes they made. Or their edit just gets reverted.

(2) The same situation from the perspective of a long-term Wikipedian might look like the following: Thousands of people edit Wikipedia every day without knowing much about its rules and its specific culture. It looks like they ignore all consensus that the community has built over time. These "newbies" just seem to increase the workload of the existing community members – they write articles that need to be wikified, they ask questions about problems that have been resolved 4 years ago and in the worst case they try to push an odd minority viewpoint.

One of the biggest questions from my point of view is: How can we shorten the distance between these two groups? How can we make sure that both groups understand each other's perspektive, needs and worries? How can we help people to understand what kind of help we need? And what is the best way to reach out to people that have the skills and knowledge we need.

Please let me know what you think. I highly appreciate this conversation.

00:20, 23 December 2009

Thanks Frank. I think you've described the problem well: shortening the distance between the two groups. New editors get frustrated when the task is confusing, and the other editors seem arbitrary. Veterans get frustrated when new editors seem reckless, and old disputes keep being revisited by new faces. I mean, this is THE problem as far as community health is concerned, and we're talking about a variety of solutions.

But there is a lot we can do with just the platform.

I was going to say "usability". But that grossly oversimplifies things. There are really multiple stages in the editor lifecycle, and a usable interface will gradually bring people from novice to expert. When an editor shows up and doesn't even understand how to edit and format something, just having WYSIWYG is a huge help. But as time goes on, you want to bridge the gap between new editors and veterans editors by making it easier to do the things that veterans spend a lot of time doing. I think one of the biggest gaps between new users and veteran users is research. I remember having a hard time with that when I showed up, but as I became more diligent with sourcing, I generally encountered fewer problems. There are other things that separate veterans from newbies, like spell checking, certain formatting conventions, and a sense of patience with the process... but tools can help with those too. I'd highly recommend making a list of common tasks and processes, and then think of ways to simplify them.

I have another idea that may seem counter-intuitive at first. To shorten the distance between veterans and newbies, we should limit what new users can do. This isn't to require them to jump through a ton of hoops. It's to give them time to work with the basics before they start getting themselves into trickier areas. The best way to traverse the distance is one step at a time. When new users jump too far ahead -- by modifying a featured article or jumping in on a contentious "POV dispute" -- they almost always get push back from people who have been there a long time. So the platform should work with the idea that certain processes or classes of articles may be off limits at first. (Or if we don't want to be that restrictive, make that stuff available with lots of asterisks and exclamation marks.)

I think you've even identified a step that's more part of reader conversion... before someone is a new editor, they are a reader. Helping people bridge *that* gap will be invaluable.

02:43, 23 December 2009


Thanks a lot for your feedback. I agree with you that improving the usability is only part of the answer. Do you know the Bookshelf Project? The goal is to create a core set of educational materials that help non-contributors understand the basics of Wikipedia. Some of these items will focus on existing guidelines, rules and community culture. I believe that explaining the community culture is a first step to bridge the gap between long-term contributors and newcomers (one step in that direction is a document created by Pete Forsyth recently. It is a case study on how an article evolves on the English Wikipedia).

But you were talking about a list of common tasks and processes and ways to simplify them. I find that idea very interesting. Can you give me some examples?

Thanks again.

19:48, 23 December 2009

You might want to get more feedback from other Wikipedians. There are a ton of external tools that have emerged to help out with Wikipedia. There are also a bunch of internal processes and tools that aren't particularly good. If I were to focus on the ones that veterans have the stomach to use, but new editors often find too tedious...

  • Finding reliable research. People link to key searches in the AFD template, but the searches are grossly inadequate. A lot of debate always ensues as veterans try to explain that a blog is not a reliable source. You'd bridge a huge gap between new users and veterans if you had a dedicated search engine that only surveyed a list of reliable sources. (e.g.: a white list approach, as opposed to a black list)
  • Doing a proper citation. Have you seen our citation templates? I imagine that even half of new users are willing to find a website that backs up their claims. It's not that different from posting a link in their facebook or their weblog, and then talking about it. But they probably just say "forget it" when they realize that citing stuff is confusing as hell. So a lot of stuff goes uncited, and it leads to disputes over facts.
  • Getting feedback on an article. I'm talking about the complicated process of peer review, especially. But I'm also talking about good article and featured article nominations. New editors probably work on an article, and wait for feedback, but then get nothing. Show them how to get feedback. Nominating articles for deletion or for merger too. Feedback is a key way to bridge the gap, and the most experienced editors constantly solicit feedback all the time. Maybe not just peer review, but at least a third opinion. Maybe even create a specialized "my first peer review" feature for new users, so that the veterans know to avoid using jargon, and cover the basics.
  • Merging two articles. Let's focus on that, because it could really help new users avoid controversy. New editors often get into trouble by pushing to delete stuff that could be merged, or creating new stuff that gets deleted when it could have been merged. If suggesting a merge were easier, it would happen more often, and solve a lot of conflicts painlessly.
  • Creating a discussion. I suppose liquid threads will make it a bit easier to have a discussion about an article. But there ought to be an easier way to create a centralized discussion that crosses several articles. Veterans do this all the time, but these discussions are tucked away in some complicated place that you're lucky to know where to even look.
  • Formatting an article. "What You See is What You Get" is only half the battle. The other half is making sure that "What You Get is What You Need". No sense on letting people create all kinds of wonky headings if there is only one established way of doing your outline.
  • Understanding a policy. Even just mousing over an acronym like "WP:V" should pop up a tooltip with the nutshell: "Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source." Key to this, however, is making sure they aren't gamed by veterans who link to mere essays (whether in good faith, or in bad faith trying to fool them into thinking something is policy).

That's just off the top of my head. I might be missing a really important one though. But all of these things will either help new editors function like veterans, help new editors learn what the community expects, or both.

20:59, 23 December 2009

Evaluating the recommendations (preliminary)

Hey guys. Put together a table and a discussion over here:

Task force/Community Health/Recommendation evaluation

Please check in at the talk page. We can discuss which areas of recommendation are worth working on.

21:49, 14 December 2009

Also, feel free to link to this table from other places in the task force, just for visibility.

21:50, 14 December 2009

I might have just gotten you more visibility than you want... I tweeted it. :) Will be interesting to see if anyone comes along and takes a look.

23:02, 14 December 2009

I doubt it. LOL

(but I hope I'm wrong)

02:01, 15 December 2009

Well, I've provided my figures on the table's talk page at last :o)

22:08, 21 December 2009

Thanks Bodnotbod! I replied to you there as well... mind updating the table itself now? This is a solid milestone, and we can put those numbers up so that we can continue our work.

23:50, 22 December 2009

Provocative ideas

Hi everyone,

Read an article this morning about visualizing human capital that I thought people here would find interesting.

My takeaway: If we had ways to visualize the sum effect of the great work from the community, that would go a long way in influencing how people work together.

Put another way, being able to show certain things can have a powerful effect on how people behave. We spend a lot of time debating policy as a way to influence behavior, but perhaps our biggest tool for leverage is our ability to change the environment. How much healthier would the community be if we simply had more human messages? Pictures of people on profile pages, even avatars? Etc.

This group has already done a tremendous job of discussing many of these ideas. Keep it up. :-)

20:13, 18 December 2009

I think the closest thing that touches upon this is social features. I agree that we could get much more out of the community if we could coordinate people and keep them talking to one another. The biggest challenge there, though, is making sure they don't coordinate attacks on one another, and build up factions. Unfortunately, Wikipedia has already gone there. It's something we will have to work on as we get closer to the deadline.

18:05, 20 December 2009

Alexa for stats

Hi, I am not a member of this particular team but I found some stats on It gives a breakdown of demographics and hits different Wiki projects get and from which countries. I think that data like this might be useful for the community health team as well as other team. [1]

14:30, 16 December 2009

Theo10011, thank you for adding this information.

19:59, 19 December 2009

heros and villains

Today, I noticed an editor claiming that "some of Wikipedia's defenders turned to vandalism", and that "truth has become less important". You know I have my share of criticisms for the community, but I wanted to look into these statements.

I checked the Wikipedia account. He is, indeed, a burnout from two weeks ago. He was blocked for personally attacking an editor in October. He had been pushing an unverified POV as far back as July. He has been a highly active editor since 2005. He has now retired, citing his failed effort to push an unverified POV as reason for leaving.

I'm kind of curious what people's reactions are to this kind of editor.

My reaction: Before I looked into his background, I found myself saying "he's kind of right, maybe this guy is a hero for calling out Wikipedia's problems". Then I looked into his background and found he was the worst kind of POV warrior, and had managed to survive on Wikipedia for more than four years. In his own mind, I'm sure he sees himself as a hero. And if I only heard the surface of his story, I'd have believed that he was a hero, trying to defend the Wiki.

The whole situation makes me feel very uneasy, because it really is difficult to distinguish the heroes from the villains until someone flips out and "goes nuclear".

04:01, 17 December 2009

Binding mediated consensus decisionmaking on Wikipedia

The English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee has used semi-permanent binding remedies on several occasions in very large and persistent content disputes. One of the recent ones had mediators assigned to help design and manage the approach to find consensus. After consensus was reached no change could occur for a designated period of time. I'll find the links if you are interested in looking at them.

21:20, 10 December 2009

Links to several recent Wikipedia English Arbitration cases that use binding mediation as a tool to resolve content disputes.

  1. w:en:Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Ireland article names Community discussion failed and administrators were chosen by ArbCom to design and lead a Community based process that would led to a binding decision.
  2. w:en:Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Macedonia 2 w:en:Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Macedonia) Community discussion with Arbitration Committee designated panel of three uninvolved administrators who assessed the consensus developed during the discussion, and reported the results to ArbCom and the Community. The results was appended onto this case, and the consensus as assessed by the panel will be enforceable as if it were a naming convention.
  3. w:en:Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Date delinking Community process that meets the ArbCom case requirement for date delinking and the case was amended with the Community based result.

Binding mediated community discussion has real potential to settle content disputes. The results of these cases need to be evaluated to see if ArbCom enforced binding mediation methods were effective.

18:03, 12 December 2009

That is very interesting! I'm impressed that it seems to have worked! (Has it?) "Binding mediation" could be a model worth supporting, or expanding on with further options that can assist in disputes in controversial topic areas.

If these disputes are settled, people would spend less time infighting, and more time getting actual work done. This could really reduce burnout and improve community health.

20:30, 12 December 2009

I think that the cases need a formal evaluation to see if they are working to resolve the editing conflicts.

12:05, 14 December 2009

I might have some more time later this week. Can you show me where I might look to see how things are going?

18:31, 14 December 2009

Good question :-) One of the places to look would be the cases to see if there have been blocls logged as well as looking to see if any clarifications, motions, or statements have been made. The admins involved might give good feedback about the matter.

17:43, 15 December 2009
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