Talk:Task force/Reader Conversion

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Thread titleRepliesLast modified
Sticky Notes: Adding expandable comments to the margins - for beginners (no wiki code or markup knowledge required)017:11, 19 August 2011
Missing recommendations about how to increase participation in under-represented group.2317:00, 19 August 2011
Outsider's view re: contributions - more granular approach needed?800:13, 7 February 2010
Proposed Strategy Task Force008:49, 3 February 2010
Ownership419:39, 2 February 2010
What particular factors might have begun to inhibit participation in 2006, when we know it began to stagnate?1505:33, 2 February 2010
"logged-in only" editing111:41, 28 January 2010
Conversion hurdle race2922:56, 27 January 2010
Goals for increased diversity of participation320:59, 24 January 2010
small and medium wikipedias008:36, 24 January 2010
Introductions120:06, 20 January 2010
BBC reports results of study that wikipedia "lost" 49,000 editors in the first 3 months of 2009220:51, 19 January 2010
Social networking features recommendation for this task force220:45, 19 January 2010
Proposal from Frank Schulenburg000:02, 22 December 2009
Clay Shirky on the four primary factors motivating participation023:31, 7 December 2009
What key groups are under-represented, and why? How has their absence affected the Wikimedia projects?122:33, 2 December 2009
Question: would someone like to interview an aspiring editor?319:09, 2 December 2009
Added new research000:47, 1 December 2009
Article creation wizard205:25, 30 November 2009
some data on contributions004:32, 27 November 2009
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Sticky Notes: Adding expandable comments to the margins - for beginners (no wiki code or markup knowledge required)

This idea may have belonged on this thread, but for better or for worse, I started the discussion over at the village pump. Thanks for your interest!

17:11, 19 August 2011

Missing recommendations about how to increase participation in under-represented group.

The below question is important and needs to be revisited.

  • What key features/changes offer the greatest potential to increase participation, particularly from under-represented groups with a high potential to add value to the projects?

The answer to this question needs to be foremost in the mind of the Wikimedia Foundation Board and staff as they develop and implement the Strategic Plan.

14:51, 13 January 2010

Can someone define the under-represented groups. Thanks.

That said i thanks i have already discussed with Ramdoran a potential feature here.

14:01, 16 January 2010

The Reader Conversion task force did was assigned this area to focus on, but did not make recommendations.

14:14, 16 January 2010


16:13, 16 January 2010

I think a WYSIWYG interface is essential for increasing participation in these groups.

16:25, 16 January 2010

WYSIWYG is probably key for people who have tried Wikipedia at least once and got discouraged. The "community health" task force addressed that. But I think KrebMarkt is really onto something when he focuses on readers who have never even thought of contributing. Reader conversion might be even more important than improving participation from existing users.

06:41, 17 January 2010

There is a parameter i would call Wikicivilization rating.

It represents the difficulty to make an edit in a given article more complex and difficult it is and higher the rating. High rating would mean that an editor must have a good grasp of "Wikipedia culture": policies, guideline, article history, rfc, ArbCom ruling, etc... to edit an article in serenity.

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that everyone can edit. That's rich but what a new editor at the "barbarian" level of "Wikipedia culture" is de-facto allowed to do without being reverted, rebuffed or bite?

It's urgent to point at potential new editors areas with low Wikicivilization rating so they won't meet head on the "Wikipedia culture" wall.

08:38, 17 January 2010

Could the left menu contain a link to a page where the visitor can answer a few questions about who he/she is (education, profession, age, interests and so on) and then be given a list of articles that are in need of creation or expansion. In the local language project we have considered compiling a list of the most popular topics from traffic logs and search engines, to see what people want to read about and identify gaps in the Wikipedia content. If there is such a list and the list is filtered so that topics that allready has well written articles are filtered out, and if the topics are cathegorized, then anyone that answers the questions could be given a number of articles that are in need of creation or expansion.

09:13, 17 January 2010

Something like that ;)

We need a minimum of information of the users center of interests from there we can point at articles that suit there interest and capabilities.

Another idea is to use real life events and news to emphasize selection of articles related to the subject that need improvements or creation. After the death of Michael Jackson there was a renewed drive to improve articles related to him.

Anything that help to beat to pulp the ideas like "Everything is done here" will be useful.

Anything that make potential new editors to click on the [Edit] button more often is welcome.

11:03, 17 January 2010

Take a look at strategy 2 in the Local language projects recommendations, which is aimed at increasing content that are of interest to a wider cultural spectrum. The aim of a similar recommendation here would then be to make sure that the diversity of topics within a culture is all covered? I think the two recommendations could reinforce each others then.

11:27, 17 January 2010

Another idea could be to run campaigns on the Wikipedia pages where a certain topic is highlighted in the bannerspace that is used for the fund raising during some times of the year. There could be a topic of the week/month campaign where people are encouraged to fill in gaps in underrepresented areas. People could be given the opportunity to vote for what topic they want to have their own campaign, which could help identifying what topics are likely to attract editors. A couple of administrators could coordinate such a campaig, working with identifying what articles needs to be created or expanded within that topic and providing support to new editors.

11:48, 17 January 2010

I like this idea. We need to make sure that it is used to educate the person about all the possible ways to contribute.

Different people have different styles of editing or creating articles. Some people like to work on joint projects, while other people like to work alone. Some people like to start from scratch in their user space and launch and article as a well developed article, then shepherd it to a GA or FA. Other are happiest doing wikignoming by fixing spelling errors or grammar. We need to be sure to not put one style over others but work hard to embrace each person's contributions.

17:53, 17 January 2010

I think you're really onto something. If we rated the experience level of a Wikipedian (1-5), and then rated the complexity of an article (1-5), we could figure out if they're in over their head. If experience < complexity, give them a nudge. We wouldn't need to necessarily restrict editing. We would just have to give them a reality check: it's harder for a newbie to add something to a featured article that sticks, compared to expanding a stub. We could even flag certain tasks, such as nominating an article for deletion or creating a new article, as being more "complex" tasks that might require a higher experience level to avoid getting "bitten".

17:25, 17 January 2010

Giving a new user a guide to the difficulty of the task sound like a good idea. I would definitely support something that helps match users skill level to tasks.

But each person will be the best gauge of how quickly they want to dive into a task. Some people are new to WP but not new to either professional writing, and other people may know coding/wiki editing which gives them a big advantage over new people that are mostly here to share content material. But there are times when being a topic expert is really needed and the most lacking. So need plays a big role in the situation.

And having new user learn that mistakes they see can be corrected, and that other people will correct their mistakes, too. What makes a wiki work is collaboration model.

18:06, 17 January 2010

I think that's why we'd probably want to avoid being too restrictive. We wouldn't exclude Wikipedians based on their experience level. Only raise their awareness that they're about to do something that is usually what veterans do. There is always a risk of being reverted or making a mistake, but it's easier to handle if you know what you're getting into. Besides, someone who has experience outside Wikipedia would quickly prove it, and the disclaimers would disappear once it became clear that they did not need them.

18:40, 17 January 2010

A new user a guide to the difficulty of the task would be useful.

For putting a complexity rating on articles this is not doable as who will be qualified to set them at the start? Worst case is editors inflating it to fend off potential opposition on a given article.

Editing complexity is real factor but one that can't be objectively quantified each article while consensus can be found for rating tasks and processes difficulty.

So we are limited to make a selections of what can "safely" done by new editors and progressively have them involved in more "complex" contributions

18:42, 17 January 2010

I think we can be somewhat objective about it.

An article that is marked as a stub will be improved by nearly any edit. That's a 0/5 or 1/5, because most people will appreciate any effort to expand it.

An article that has been marked as a good or featured article will only be improved by editors with a great understanding. Those are 4/5's or 5/5's, because we expect the rate of reversion to be highest for these articles.

I guess that makes most normal articles a 2/5 or 3/5. More likely to be reverted than a stub, but not as likely as a featured article.

And most procedural stuff (creating an article, renaming an article, deleting an article) is at least a 3/5.

We can definitely start there.

19:46, 17 January 2010

Starting this way may limit editors hijacking complexity rating.

I think we should eventually give a try to most proposed solutions. Now the question is how long it will take to implement them.

22:37, 17 January 2010

Yeah, it's definitely worth a shot:

  1. Editing stubs
  2. Editing non-stub articles
  3. Editing non-stub articles that have been tagged as under dispute, or that have citations in them (e.g.: presence of ref tags)
  4. Procedural tasks: moving, creating, deleting articles...
  5. Editing good and featured articles

That would be my strawman.

04:14, 18 January 2010

If you want the public to participate, stop trying to educate - or 'Wikify' - them! That is, if you want them here in the first place.

20:43, 19 January 2010

Unfortunately, the genie is already out of the bottle. It's not up to us to stop "wikifying" people. It's up to the thousands of users who have already been "wikified", and can leverage every process and tool to run circles around people who aren't.

I think it's literally impossible to remove the barriers. But the barriers being what they are, can we make them easier to overcome?

21:35, 19 January 2010

Increasing participation, improving the "WYSIWYG", removing barriers and avoiding discouragement... My friends, might not the Wikipedia:Sticky Notes idea help some of these things? I have created a section in the village pump here too. Preferably you would throw comments there :)

16:44, 19 August 2011

*Correction the idea is here: Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Sticky notes (It is currently linked from the village pump over at wikimedia strategic planning)

17:00, 19 August 2011

Outsider's view re: contributions - more granular approach needed?

I regret the length of what follows. I am the proverbial over-educated white male, and I've been reading Wikipedia for a long time, but I have contributed maybe 3 times over the last five years, and those were primarily corrections of obviously inaccurate information, or gross omissions. Here are some thoughts why it's been so little.

There is a wide range of quality and quantity of information from one article to another. One of the first determinations that I need to make when I am reading is how good that what I am reading is, and is this going to be sufficient, or do I need to look elsewhere, is it clearly written, and so on. I can roughly separate it a few broad categories:

- Complete articles on par or better than anything else out there. 5 of 5 or getting there.

- Large articles that are poorly organized but nonetheless useful.

- Large articles that have a lot of text are missing their point.

- "Junior" articles that are good overviews

- "Junior" articles that are not good for much, and stubs.

- Articles missing altogether

This is no news for many people, but there's a reason I put it here. Different types of contributors need to be attracted to different steps of "article evolution". For example, I'd like to have more information on robotics and motion control (my area of expertise). This is not easy task and I wouldn't take it up by self. But IF ONLY there was a process that make tackling tough subjects easier, I might contribute.

Something along the lines of:

- Identify the need for more articles/knowledge. An expert in a given subject area (e.g. robotics) may make a major contribution by filling a two-line text field at the top of an existing article with what's missing.(e.g. "Motion Control article needs links/info on Control Theory, particularly PID control."). The expert will most likely have no time to type anything else, but those comments are worth their weight in gold, complete with their self-rated proficiency rating. There has to be an editor that monitors this process. So this takes an editor and a few experts that will eventually identify the need. The addition requests should much simpler than starting a new page! Please. Three lines and a click, on the same page, no wading through discussions, comments or editing styles. Those who know a lot about something also know how hard it is to explain it clearly and succinctly.

- Once the need is apparent, the subject matter would move into "Early development" stage, where everyone is invited to contribute whatever, the more the merrier! The article should be labeled as such, tacitly, of course as not to discourage reading. The should be fewer (if any) "this article needs more citations" annoyances on it... it needs everything, citation and all, we know that already. Different editing strategy. It's valuable enough to have any contributions. This the stage where the most writing takes place, by the aforementioned 18 to 30 years old males with graduate degrees, in part because they have time to do so.

- Once enough is written, the article moves into refinement process, again should be labeled as such. This is when Wikipedia should contact the experts from step 1, as in "the people have written an article on the subject you deemed useful per your request, would you please be so kind to review the work and make suggestions". Most experts (myself included) would be willing to do this, although we'd have no time to do major writing (otherwise I'd publish a book). The "refinement" process would be a back-and-forth between contributors that wrote most of it, the experts, and the editors. If I review something I may be willing to associate myself as an "ongoing" senior reviewer - why not?

- "Maintenance" state is for those articles that are mature. This mostly requires editing, and, again, requests for what's missing.

I my humble opinion, a good part of Wikipedia needs to be reclassified according to something alike to this framework. There should be "knowledge developers" in addition to "editors". And they could benefit from training, as in real online classes that train people. The end result is ultimately as good as the core content; Wikipedia is running out of easy topics, harder/bigger topics require a more organized approach.

Again, going back to the very beginning - the determination of "what is this I am reading here?" also helps with "Oh, this is how it could use my help".

And another comment, just for reference: it took me about an hour to think and type this up. I am one of the "experts". My hour is worth about well into three digits of USD/hour, and I am working on a Sunday while it's sunny outside. I'd love to be able to write an article... but Wikipedia needs to recognize that there are more ways of contributing other than editing or writing.

Oh, and also, PLEASE build better editing tools! This 20-line textbox was good for 1995, and maybe some people love it... but surely does not help my productivity. I'd like to use the tools I am used to, how I'd like. The software should take care of the rest. In my case it's just MSWord (yes, whatever, it's just a text editor).

Thank you for reading!

01:13, 1 February 2010

This is a fantastic analysis for someone who has only contributed a few times. You've clearly read a lot of Wikipedia.

I hope other people read this and get some ideas. You have many good ones.

The basic idea: different articles have different needs, and there are different editors to fill them. If we could only organize volunteers along these lines, there would be a lot more productivity, and a lot less friction.

05:28, 1 February 2010

Randomran - thank you for kind comments!

It's a 2-dimensional table: (kinds of contributors) x (kinds of articles). Each "cell" has to have the right process set up for it in order to work well. Right now Wikipedia is like a single cell table: (18-30 year old males) x (all articles).

On a more general note, it would appear to me that this is one of the tasks that are central to Wikipedia/Wikimedia core mission. If Wikipedia wishes to stay relevant it has to develop new tools and processes for knowledge management. Editable web pages were a great breakthrough -- 15 years ago! And no, adding embedded video players and color tags does not count. There is such a room for improvement - graphical visualizations, realtime collaboration, information theory based reformatting, etc. There is a similar level of untapped potential in human development - i.e. training. I understand that doing something like that would be a major software development effort (and expense), but given the other choice (stagnation and decay), I think it's worth the risk.

10:31, 1 February 2010

Well, I realize that this is not the main point, but this assumes that the gradual-growth-by-spontaneous-collaboration-premise holds water. This has been part of Wikipedia propaganda from the beginning (just like the awful you-cannot-damage-Wikipedia-myth) but I have never actually seen it work in practice.

Of course I wholeheartedly support the idea that putting in meta-tags is not only pointless but counterproductive. - Brya 05:29, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

05:34, 2 February 2010

I'm not sure what you're getting at. Spontaneous collaboration was very effective to build up the encyclopedia initially. Now that the encyclopedia is more mature, it's obvious that spontaneous collaboration is more effective for some tasks than others. Stubs definitely benefit from that kind of attention, whereas featured articles require something more deliberate. I think this idea is brilliant, personally: there is this wave of unfocused volunteer effort that could be much more effective if it were nudged in the right direction.

19:47, 2 February 2010

Yes, I am sure that there were places where spontaneous collaboration happened and was effective. However, I doubt that is all that frequent. I meant what I said "I have never actually seen it work in practice", and I mean that literally: in my experience 'collaboration' all too often means some editors getting together and deciding that the core values don't apply to them or 'their' topic ("consensus"!). Certainly, given how diverse Wikipedia is, the model is nowhere near the norm. - Brya 05:08, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

05:08, 3 February 2010

Firstly, I think that this argument only supports the need for a better process. The only way to really find out if spontaneous collaboration works is to apply it to a problem that is suitable (such as a stub article, specifically, with proper guidance, etc.), get some data, and see what can be improved. Secondly, if there were to be no spontaneous collaboration, there would be no Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia does exist, some degree of collaboration did occur. How efficient was it - probably not superbly... but that's why it needs to be improved. It is a valid concern, no more, no less.

Besides, the spontaneous collaboration issue is just a part of the problem. In my opinion, the solution lies in establishing the framework that supports granularity, flexibility and careful refinement. Then, start addressing this smaller issue from within something that is moving in the right direction, as opposed to presenting the spontaneous collaboration as a "show stopper". That's not helpful. I can come up with 100 arguments as to why Wikipedia will never work. Heck, even if it is a show stopper - figure out a way to make it less of a show stopper and move forward from there. This is not going with the "gospel" - I am not suggesting ignorance, rather the opposite: take the problem into consideration, build a process that helps to isolate and study it. Do that while achieving the main goal, which is to grow Wikipedia, not to resolve the collaboration issue, although that may happen too.

05:53, 3 February 2010

In my experience, spontaneous collaboration happens all the time.

  • There's the asynchronous pattern, where one person creates a stub, another person expands it, another person researches and cleans it up, and someone else brings it to good or featured quality.
  • There's the "we both like this article" pattern, where two editors both care about the article and feed off each other. Here there are more conflicts. But when people are working in good faith, a little discussion can resolve the issues.
  • There's the "hey everybody, let's do something about this" pattern, where a bunch of disparate editors all end up working on an article. Lots of WikiProjects have a "collaboration of the week" that looks like this.

The only thing you're talking about is the canvassing-type collaboration -- a bunch of editors with the same viewpoint working together to enforce that viewpoint. I agree it happens too often, but I think the other types are at least as frequent.

What Alexkai is proposing would not feed into that. It would match editor skills with content needs. That's much more effective than throwing editors into the deep end, where they might not have the skills to improve certain articles, and there is no guidance about what those articles need.

00:13, 7 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!

08:49, 3 February 2010

There is a quandry at the heart of WP: what is authority? It has now grown so large that domains are fighting over the question: should Ignore All Rules (a WP base concept) have dominion over the preference for analytical commentary? What balance should be maintained between secondary (authority commentators) and original sources in some domains like History, where the original source trumps the commentator unless the commentator can display a wider context? The problem manifests itself in the maintenance of quality on a particular page: quis custodiet? We refute Original Research, but post anything, often by non-researchers. How is the tension to be maintained between a healthy IAR and the status-quo? Is there even a status-quo to be identified? Perhaps it's time for editors to be prepared to remove the mask: a declared editor should always be recognised in preference to a scaramouche. We thereby come to the nub of the question: should pages have a patron, a father-figure overlooking them with benevolent kindness, possibly representing their domain on one of the Project Groups? Should the Project Groups appoint patrons? And thereby we creep into a delicate field of ownership. I think it is now essential that the projects become more hands-on, and that disputes should be firstly invigilated by the relevant project itself. We may of course then find conflict between projects, where a page is common to several, but that is a bridge they can cross as and when, in goodwill.

17:25, 1 February 2010

That may be a very good question "There is a quandry at the heart of WP: what is authority? " Officially the project aims to put together the finest quality encyclopedia possible, and there is no authority whatsoever but only the NPoV, NOR, and V standard against which contributions are to be measured.

In practice, it does not work this way and there are lots of users that do claim and do exercise authority. Most of these don't hold by the NPoV, NOR, and V standard, but base their claim on a consensus and a community; their policing (and enforcing of whatever it is that they feel they are an authority on) scares away those that do follow the NPoV, NOR, and V standard. - Brya 05:45, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

05:45, 2 February 2010

I believe this to be one of the central challenges that Wikimedia faces today. The notion of "consensus" is often used as a crutch, because it's impossible to define "consensus" if you don't first define from whom you're trying to get consensus. This often serves as a paralyzing force: People are afraid to act, because they're waiting for consensus, when it's impossible to know if you have consensus.

I think the underlying question is: What can we do to empower individuals? In a way, the original principle of IAR (Ignore All Rules) was in the spirit of empowerment, but as the person who started this thread pointed out, we seem to have lost that spirit.

18:27, 2 February 2010

Hmmm, sociologically/pathologically interesting: I've never thought of IAR that way, but of course you're right. I've always considered it a "safety net" to prevent lawyering ourselves to death. It naturally follows that it's about empowering people to do the right thing... interesting pondering. :)

18:30, 2 February 2010

I think there's a relationship between consensus and IAR. Both were supposed to be good. But it's reached a point where both are used to undermine each other.

Ignoring all rules meant that you could be bold, and that you wouldn't have to wait. And that you were always allowed to pursue the "exception to the rule", where people had agreed upon the rule and the rule just didn't make sense. Meanwhile, consensus meant that you couldn't just do this recklessly. Consensus was what kept people talking to each other, trying to work out differences, and collaborating.

Now the consensus rule is used to stonewall and prevent discussion. "No consensus, sorry, you're not allowed to do it." And in the rare situation where there is some kind of consensus, where a bunch of editors have been able to hammer out a generally agreed principle, IAR is used by a vocal minority to keep the conflict going until there is no end.

It used to be that IAR and consensus caused the community to come up with newer and better ways of doing things. But now IAR and consensus are almost always used to prevent any change or compromise.

19:39, 2 February 2010

What particular factors might have begun to inhibit participation in 2006, when we know it began to stagnate?

One of the participants in discussion on my livejournal on this topic linked to a kerfuffle over pages being deleted in 2005 and 2006 and another person referred to a case where people who complained about admin actions got their accounts blocked. I have begun to look at deletion discussion logs and have requested access to data from page deletion and user block logs to see if I can verify whether or not there was an upswing of editors being blocked or leaving due to debates over notability.

If you have other theories for relevant patterns that we might query log or survey data for, please suggest them.

We might also develop strategies for further surveys or interviews of people who chose not to become editors or to stop editing in order to determine root causes.

00:32, 30 October 2009

This is a really interesting question, and the more data the better. Just to brainstorm some possible explanations: - By 2006, WM had more veterans to claim "ownership" for content, and make it hard for new people to contribute. - By 2006, Wikipedia was relying on "verifiability" to ensure quality (e.g.: featured articles had to be verified top to bottom) and avoid disputes, making it hard for new people to contribute. - By 2006, there were other major competitors for peoples' attention online that were just more fun and usable. (MySpace, Facebook, MMOs, alternative Wikis?) - By 2006, people felt more and more that the major content had been created, and there were fewer gaps in content that were large enough to inspire new contributors - By 2006, there was more infighting (e.g.: religious, ideological, etc.), with no end in sight, and people began to burnout more quickly. - By 2006, Wikipedia's reader traffic began to level off, and participation just followed by becoming less exponential - ... something else.

I think all of these (and then some) contribute to the dropoff somewhat. Some just a few percent, but I think we could confirm every one of these is a factor. Much harder will be to figure out which one is the biggest factor.

18:17, 30 October 2009

These are hard questions. When I first started editing there wasn't really any citation method in place. I just used to gambol around putting in what I "knew" and I wouldn't run into any resistance. My edits would stay even though I provided no citations. Things became more strict but I sort of grew up with things becoming more stringent in such a way that I just adapted as things became more "difficult". So I'm trying to think how I would have responded if, when I made my first few edits, I had been reverted with the summary "unreferenced". It's hard for me to see through the eyes of a newbie. That's something I'm going to have to try to do to come up with good answers for this task force.

19:33, 30 October 2009

As abandoned editor Rahere, there were a number of turn-offs: 1. Admin remoteness and slowness. I know, cost, but you're playing Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs's game a bit too obviously. Something this size needs charismatic leadership as the sine qua non - and that's rare. You must delegate a lot more through the Projects, and require them to get of their bums and lead. 2. Bot flyers - there seem to be more people inside Wikipedia doing it down than actually doing something to fix the problems. Why post a flyer complaining about something when you could get stuck in and fix it yourself? Are standards really that important? Are they really more important than IAR? More than content? If so, why not get specialists interested in that kind of thing to work? Orphaned pages have been beaten to death by the bots, not because of poor inherent value, but because they did not not meet the requisite statistical norm - I now destroy flyers on sight, on the basis that if the fly-poster doesn't have the knowledge or commitment to put his editing where his mouth is, then he lacks the credibility to comment - standards are not one-size-fits-all across all of academia. Who wants to read a page covered in years' worth of stickers? The most valuable bot of all, I think, would be a cleaner, going through pages deleting any bot flyer over two weeks old! I looked after the Albigenisan Crusade page for a bit, putting in citations at the request of a bot, posting totally unnecessary references to the source texts which are already indexed in parallel, being chronologies: when I checked, the bot owner told me I should know what I was doing and then flamed me, not for the quality of the citations, but for daring to ask him if he was satisfied thus far - so I desisted, see full records on the discussion page. I was then complimented by general readership on the quality of my work, and a page whose Good Article status had been withdrawn - and which remained withdrawn because of what is functionally administrative BS - none the less was adopted by the Schools History program with the request that editing should be cautious. You can't have it both ways, folks: if it's good in the eyes of the specialists, then it's good, period, regardless of what some ivory-tower merchant thinks, IAR. That page was orphaned when I arrived, was orphaned again after Admin killed the foster-parent by neglect, and remains adrift, despite its value. That is what happens out there, folks, all too often. Ah, and another thought for something that's getting out of control - Project Bands on discussion pages. All of this belongs in the footnotes - what the reader needs is a superficial intro, a deeper study linking out to more specialist pages, and a summary. 3. Lack of general support and positive feedback. Sign-up-here to projects doesn't really get any reaction, so you're steering your own ship without direction. 4. Lack of "If you need to know more, contact so-and-so". It would be cood on occasion to compare notes in advance. You are welcome to write to me privately on my old address - Rahere also runs an occasional LiveJournal blog, if you've lost that.

18:15, 1 February 2010

See also this proposal - Brya 05:20, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

05:20, 2 February 2010

[I did not write this here. This is just one more of the vagaries of LiquidThreads (it never stops finding ways to malfunction). - Brya 05:33, 2 February 2010 (UTC)]

05:29, 2 February 2010

A couple of relevant things:

  • Late 2005 and early 2006 were probably the period of most intense media attention for Wikipedia, particularly because of the Seigenthaler incident and the Nature accuracy study (published in late 2005, and spread widely in early 2006). So that was when the most new people were introduced to Wikipedia for the first time.
  • Nevertheless, the net article creation rate is jittery in this period, falling in early 2006 before continuing to rise, and peaking around July 2006.
  • The end of 2005 is when new article creation was disabled for anonymous accounts. One possible interpretation is that this blunted wildly rapid and largely uncontrolled growth that was happening at that time, even while continued media exposure kept growth up until mid-2006, by which time most internet-connected people in English-speaking countries had already heard of Wikipedia and later media exposure had diminishing returns in terms of attracting new editors.
  • The speedy deletion criteria, which are the main ways of enforcing the idea that Wikipedia is a serious encyclopedia and not everything or everyone can have an article, essentially developed into their current form between early 2005 and October 2006.
  • As Randomran and Bodnotbod note, the rise of citations and the associated norms are surely a factor as well, both in terms of more confusing markup and norms for what counts as quality content that won't get deleted.
  • The null hypothesis, I'd say, is the "low-hanging fruit" explanation: by 2006, most of the things that most people wanted to write about had already been covered.

--ragesoss 22:30, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

22:30, 30 October 2009

One other thing worth noting, which I think is relevant for the null hypothesis of "low-hanging fruit": while article creation peaked in July 2006, editing frequency actually continued to rise until peaking in March 2007, and has declined somewhat (but not dramatically) since then. So there is a lag of eight months or so between the peak in article creation and the peak in overall editing activity/number of active editors. One explanation is that by 2006, most of the articles that most people wanted to write about had already been created, but they didn't seem complete. By early 2007, most articles that people wanted to write about were not only created, but also pretty well fleshed out with few gaping hole for a newcomer to add sections to. --ragesoss 22:51, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

22:51, 30 October 2009

Interesting, ragesoss. I'm wondering if a similar lag time occurs on other language Wikipedias--we have the charts for these in "analysis" section of the task force.

23:13, 30 October 2009

Rageross has a really interesting theory, and it makes a lot of sense. If the same trend were true in the other Wikipedias, then we might be able to confirm that Wikipedia is experiencing a natural slow down in growth, rather than some failure of vision. said, my instinct tells me that "natural slow down" is only part of the explanation, and that there are lots of things we can still do to make the community more vibrant. But let's investigate, if we can.

23:55, 30 October 2009

Long mail ahead -- bear with me!

It seems to me that either A) article creation tends to peak at a certain number of articles, supporting the "low-hanging fruit" hypothesis. Or B) article creation tends to peak after a certain period of time has passed, or is associated with some other variable, and is unrelated to the number of articles. Which would debunk "low-hanging fruit."

So, from Erik Zachte's stats pages: New article creation in enWP peaked in July 2006, when enWP had 1.2 million articles. And, new article creation in svWP peaked in May 2006, at 162K articles.

That suggests that A, low-hanging-fruit, is false. If we looked at other language versions, and saw new article creation peaking at widely varying article counts, then A would be, in my view, thoroughly debunked.

Which leaves us looking for a different cause. I would say that then would leave us with three possibilities.

B1) If new article creation peaked across all language versions more-or-less simultaneously (meaning, on the same date), then I can only imagine that the cause is somehow both external to us, and global. Examples: a global blossoming of interactive sites lured away our editors, or, a terrible global economic collapse meant people everywhere needed to focus solely on paid work. (A non-external hypthesis: I also speculate sometimes: if Jimmy talked publicly, a lot, about quality post-Siegenthaler, then maybe that somehow engendered a large global increase in restrictiveness inside the editing communities. I can't think of any internal factor but Jimmy that would potentially have that kind of large global impact.)

B2) If new article creation peaked for each language version at roughly the same time post-launch (like, launch + five-and-a-half months), that would support the idea that our editing communities have a natural internal lifecycle. (That wouldn't mean the "natural" lifecycle was necessarily a positive one, but it would suggest that the cause of the peak is internal to each editing community.) I have sometimes wondered whether online communities have a certain period of time (possibly varying according to the nature of the community) during which they either thrive or fail: maybe that's true, and we have some of each type.

B3) If new article creation peaked for English on July 2006, and peaked for other language versions within a year afterwards, that would suggest to me that other-language-versions were possibly modelling their behaviours on the behaviours in English, regardless of their suitability. So for example, if "low-hanging fruit" were true for English, and English responded with a number of behaviours (such as more deletionism, more emphasis on "quality," higher barriers to new article creation, new focus on multimedia, etc.) -- then perhaps other language-versions started adopting those same behaviours, accidentally triggering a premature peak of new article creation. That hypothesis has always sounded true to me (anecdotally, people in other language versions have told me stories that tend to support it), but Swedish new article creation peaking before English suggests that is not true.

Does anyone have time to look at the stats pages and check a few other random languages for the date on which new article creation peaked, and the number of articles at that point? Because I am provisionally thinking, based on the Swedish example, that "low-hanging fruit" is not true.

22:07, 11 December 2009

Yeah, I've always thought that the low hanging fruit explanation is, at best, a partial explanation. There are definitely other factors at play, some external, some internal. ... and we can really only have an impact on the internal factors.

As far as I know, some Wikipedias are more liberal, some are more tight, and this has had very little impact on article or editor growth. The real issue is cultural and behavioral, and a culture acts without policy (sometimes in spite of policy).

I think there is much more support for the hypothesis that there is more friction in the community, due to its increasing size, and maybe due to the kinds of people it attracts, and the kinds of conflicts that have emerged due to Wikipedia's popularity. Check the rise in administrator incidents, and then use the same tool to look up Wikipedia:Wikiquette alerts. People are just fighting a lot more, and I'm not so sure that we've been able to address the real root causes of those fights.

I'd like to take a closer look at Erik's stats. It's unfortunate that the best study I've been able to look at has come from an external source. I think there are some important trends worth looking at.

22:27, 11 December 2009
Edited by 3 users.
Last edit: 11:26, 28 January 2010

The data presented from the earlier fact base work indicates that there doesn't seem to be a relationship between new article growth and participation in En, FR, De wikipedia:


What this data says is that participation tends to plateau after a period of time, but that the most active contributors get even more active in expanding content. I will also look for a visualization that Eric did - think it shows a similar take-off.

The data on increased reverts from Ed Chi speaks to the original question that Netmouse posed. This data actually raises a question about whether there really was much of a shift in 2006? Looks to me like there has been a rather consistent increase in reverts over time. This may speak to continuous tightening of editorial standards/control across the project over time rather than a one time increase.

One other helpful source of article growth info is Eric Z's visualization visualization

01:04, 13 December 2009

There's a lot of useful information in the wikistats in terms of cross-language comparisons, and there isn't much analysis that I'm aware of. Just from an initial eye-ball estimate at a few of the top languages, there does indeed seem to be a pattern of new article rate peaking around 6-18 months before editing rate and active contributors peak.

When I get a chance, I'll try to plot total articles against active contributors for a bunch of languages, which should give some indication of the extent to which the opportunity to start new articles (probably the most important form of low-hanging fruit) is what draws people into the community.--ragesoss 20:35, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

20:35, 5 November 2009

While this pattern is interesting, we should avoid jumping to the conclusion that the theoretical explanation for it that lead to this examination of the data (e.g. "most of the articles that most people wanted to write about had already been created") is in fact the most significant cause of the pattern. We should probably cross-reference with other data like number of people who are participating regularly, number of people with admin privs, number of people "touching" each article (or debating them on the talk pages), and rate of article deletion. It may be the case that a slow-down in article creation doesn't indicate a slow-down in the number of interesting topics people want to introduce to wikipedia, but rather that topics get harder to introduce due to an "entrenched" community watching and reacting to article production, and people get discouraged from trying to introduce more obscure topics that are not part of the knowledgespace of the existing editor/admin society (or even non-obscure topics) because they have less time to fiddle with an article all on their own, they start suffering cross-editing activity that requires merging, they get into debates/wars with other editors who have a different vision for the article, or their work (or whole article) gets deleted or tagged as needing improvement.

(The tags identifying how an article needs improvement are supposed to encourage good articles and more work on the articles, but I suspect that newbie editors find them challenging--not always in a fun way--and possibly discouraging.)

21:04, 5 November 2009

That's a lot of useful information. I almost always come to wikipedia logged into my user account, and now that you mention it I *have* noticed that there are barriers to creating (and editing) pages anonymously. Like Bodnotbod noted, we need to try to see through the eys of newbies as we consider these questions; editing anonymously from time to time might help with that. Netmouse 19:24, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

19:24, 5 November 2009

I have done a new analysis of wikipedia's growth. It seems that the new-article rate it fits fairly well a two-phase model: exponential growth (double every 11 months) until 2005, exponential decay (1/2 every 5 years) since 2006:

New article rate N'(t) - linear scale
New article rate N'(t) - log scale

The dots are the data, the solid lines are the model. The fairly abrupt transition in 2006 rules out the "low hanging fruit" theory, and the steady decline after 2006 (instead of a sudden drop and gradual recovery) rules out "bad media image". The best explanation that I can think of for the shape of that graph is by assuming that

  1. over 90% of the new articles are created by regular editors (as opposed to newbies)
  2. a reader only feels the need to register after creating one article as a IP user.
  3. regular editors leave or become less active with a half-life of 5 years or so
  4. the rate at which new editors were recruited was growing exponentially until 2005
  5. that rate dropped to nearly zero in 2006
  6. the cause was some change in wikipedia (not an event in the outside world)
  7. regular editors were not affected by that change

Assumptions 4 and 5 seems necessary to explain the exponential growth of the regular editor corps until 2005, and the lack of growth after that. Assumptions 1 and 7 seem necessary to explain why the new article rate did not drop immediately when the recruitment rate fell to nearly zero. Assumption 3 then explains the decay since 2006. Assumption 6 seems the only way to explain the abruptness and persistence of the 2006 drop in recruitment. Finally assumption 2 provides a possible explanation for that drop: namely, the policy that prevents article creation by IP users, that closed the main and most natural path through which readers used to become regular editors.

04:54, 30 January 2010

Signing the previous entry: --Jorge Stolfi 05:05, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

05:05, 30 January 2010

"logged-in only" editing

Yes, anonymous editing again. (I've cross posted this a couple of places.) 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.

01:13, 23 January 2010

Hello Randomran,

"Logged-in only editing" is something I find crucial to improve social interaction. I did recently some "under cover research" as unregistered editor and felt immediately the difference. (By the way, I would evoid the expression "anonymous user", because that has nothing to do with it. I can register as "Willy93" and be still anonymous.)

There is a huge gap between idea and reality. The idea is that every one can edit Wikipedia, simply by clicking "Edit" - editing - clicking "Save". But in reality, changes and especially non trivial changes are reverted quickly. It seems that many experienced editors do not accept unregistered editors and newbies. They have in fact re-interpretated the rules: Every one is accepted to edit, but only if he has already internalized our rules and wiki behavior.

When I once proposed to allow editing only to registered users I met quite some resistance from mailing list fellows: That that would be the end of the wiki, a "closed system" opposing to "our free and open wiki way". Actually, I wonder how free and open Wikipedia really is. I believe that the Wikipedians see themselves as a "knowledge pride parade" that marshes through the city, welcomed by citizens of which many are joining the parade. In the real world, the Wikipedia community has much more of a medieval castle with high walls and a severe entry control.

The recommendations of the task force say: connect volunteers more effectively, improve the abilities for collaborative work. My proposal is to make editing possible in only two ways:

1) Make it easy to report an error: pl.Wikipedia has a system where readers can simply report an error in an article. These comments can consequently be dealt with by volonteers, similar to the OTRS. Polish Wikipedians told me how useful this tool turned out to be. So, every one who ones to help can do that without learning Wiki syntax.

2) Become a Wikipedian: Someone who likes to edit himself should have to register because unregistered editors meet a lot of resistance if not hostility. If you are registered you build up a kind of "Wikipedian identity", and you become more trustworthy as time goes on. Then, a newly registered editor should be approached by experienced users, saying hello and welcome and asking what the newbie would like to do in WP. This would scare off many vandals but encourage the good willing newbies. They have the opportunity to ask questions, and if they feel that they do not need guidance, that is OK too. It is not about controling new people but showing them that we (take) care. A newbie might tell at that occasion that he is going to write an article about his company, and the experienced user could warn him that that is not such a good idea.

I do not want to say that this is the solution for everything and that Wikipedia can only go on with this. But we are doing wrong when we tell/allow people to edit Wikipedia without giving them proper preparation, without providing help. It is like telling people to go into deep water, without swimming lessons, without swimming aids and without a lifeguard. This might include not to *allow* people to go into deep water without ... some preconditions.

11:41, 28 January 2010

Conversion hurdle race

I decided to read again the results of the Wikipedia Survey (2008) in order to create a diagram that could help us better understand some of its data related to readers’ conversion. The position of each information on the diagram is based/inspired on the methodology of another survey previously conducted with German wikipedians.

Conversion hurdle race

According to the results of the 2008 Survey, 49% of the readers are “happy just to read” the content of Wikipedia. I called them “audiance” and decided not to focus any effort to convert them for the moment.

In order to convert the other half, the Wikimedia community should provide “specific topic areas that need help”, according to 42% of the respondents. It was the most requested “incentive” to help them to convert from just readers to contributors. Therafter I positioned this information on the top of the diagram. Some sort of assistance “to show them how to” contribute was also requested by 21% of the respondents and I positioned this information on the bottom of the diagram.

But even with the above described incentives, there will still exist two major "barriers" on the way to convert them. First, more than half of the respondents (52%) “think they don’t have enough info to contribute” and second “they don’t have time” (31%). I suggest we should focus our attention here to manage to convert many more readers. What do you think?

Finally, 33% of respondents mentioned that they “want to know how would other people benefit from their effort”. According to the approach of the German Survey, this information should be categorized as a “pre-condition” for people to join the Wikimedia movement. Information like this should be mentioned and extensively exemplified in order to assure new contributors that their effort really helps the movement towards a “world where any single person will freely share in the sum of all human knowledge.”

Any comments or suggestions?

13:44, 9 November 2009

I agree 100%. Well, it's hard to disagree when you link everything to specific data :) Half our readers are actually willing to contribute, but (1) 52% don't know where, (2) 21% don't know how, (3) 31% don't know when, (4) and 33% don't know why. We could show them where a new user like them could be helpful, and show them how to edit. But helping them find the time and the motivation is much trickier.

22:35, 9 November 2009

You're right, they don't know "where/what, how, when and why" to become a contributor.

We could try to answer their question about "when to find time to contribute" by creating a large variety of activities that request different amount of time and "why to participate if they feel they don't have enough info to contribute" by launching a campaign exlpaining that everyone has some good information to share with others.

What do you think?

02:25, 10 November 2009

Yes, if we could make it possible to do some things more quickly, and if we could flag those activities, I think we could really leverage some of our readers. Imagine if readers knew they could be helpful just by forwarding a news article to a WikiProject (or some other place where other contributors can mine it for unoriginal research). Imagine this were as easy as a click or two. That's just one example.

03:01, 10 November 2009

I'm skeptical of the premise of a campaign that says "everyone has some good information to share with others" (in the context of Wikipedia, at least; for some future version of Wikinews, that might be true). Everyone with basic literacy skills could potentially contribute usefully, but that's not based on having information to share, it's based on being willing and capable of doing the necessary research to collect, organize and present information. It's not about having information, it's about being able to find information. Most good work on Wikipedia is the product of editors learning about a topic as they go, not sharing knowledge they came to the project with.

I definitely agree about "creating a large variety of activities", and (per my other comment about the game-like features proposal) I think a lot of this could be done algorithmically without much need to hand-write one-off tasks.

03:11, 10 November 2009
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 14:02, 30 November 2009

I sometimes wonder if the fairly well-known "no original research" clause doesn't discourage people who don't realize that "no original research" does not mean "no research", it means that research that goes into building and editing wikipedia articles should be based on incorporating the work of others from other sources into this central repository.

I was thinking the other day that an orientation around "research that is good for wikipedia" or somesuch might help.

14:47, 10 November 2009
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 14:53, 10 November 2009

I mean I think it might help.

In case you didn't know (it took me quite a while to notice it) it's possible to edit your posts, or even other people's, via the "More" pulldown at the end of each post.-- 14:53, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
14:48, 10 November 2009

I really like the presentation of the data this way. It makes me think that the big hurdle (sorry for the add'l analogy) is making the user interface/process of contributing easier and more transparent. For example, a feature that would pull up the 10 articles in the area you're interested that need work. For example, a WYSIWYG editor.

22:48, 9 November 2009

That would work and it made me think of GoogleWave. One of the things that I like about the wave technology is that people would easily be able to invite new contributors to collaborate on a topic they believe the new particpant care about. It could help us answer the questions about "where/what", "why" and probably "how", as the inviter could give new participants the assistance they want. Imagine the impact of most of our contributors inviting new participants to join the movement.

02:40, 10 November 2009

Right now there is a bit of a cultural bias *against* inviting people to edit articles on topics they care about - in particular, when articles are nominated for deletion, there is a stong stance against inviting "meatpuppets" who care about the topic to join the discussion.

I think technology that helps invite people who know and care about a topic to edit it would be good, but I am concerned it would receive cultural resistance. We also especially want to make sure invited participants understand how to edit articles without introducing bias.

14:52, 10 November 2009

WYSIWYG seems to me like it would mainly affect the 21% "need someone to show how" class, and even then it would only partly address that group since there's much more to contributing effectively than just markup and non-editors realize that, often acutely.

This data actually makes me more skeptical of the potential of pure usability enhancement to broaden the editing pool, and makes me think that the biggest potential is in something like Proposal:Add game-like features: a system for introducing new users to the way that Wikipedia works and the useful things they can do without leaving them to fend for themselves in an endless sea of thankless tasks or take their chances in the article-writing area without foreknowledge of what is expected.

That proposal is partly inspired by the music discovery site thesixtyone, which has a great quest system for introducing newbies to all the neat stuff that you can do on the site. But there is also a fair amount of literature on games as teaching systems; well-designed video games give players a series of tasks of increasing difficulty and gives them a chance to apply what they've learned in earlier tasks to completing each new task. (This short paper summarizes some of the main ideas, which I think could be highly applicable to Wikipedia.)

02:53, 10 November 2009

Sage, its a good idea to recapitulate the proposals. Should we try to create a system to organize all the ideas related to readers conversion, according to the topics mentioned in the survey?

  • Proposals that help explain what to contribute? (topic areas that need help)
  • Proposals that help explain why to contribute? (how would people benefit from their work)
  • Proposals that help explain when to contribute? (people with little time to contribute)
  • Proposals that help explain how to contribute? (someone to show how to)
17:16, 10 November 2009


04:58, 11 November 2009

I like TSB's recap here.

  • Topic areas that need help: there have been many ways to improve this manually, starting with red links to portals to cafés. In fact, you need specialist educators to guide new writers in certain specialist fields. People who have a broad knowledge of the field and can say: oke, we're missing information there, there and there. Portals and cafés all depend on some leading figures to maintain them; too many slip away after the first spark of inspiration.
  • If you can explain what, you can also explain why. On nl:wikipedia we have an experiment to expand knowledge about Surinamese Marrons. We do have lots of professionalism at our side. The 'why' is no problem; the 'what' needs personal advice.
  • This shows, that the 'how' is more important than the 'when'. For instance: teach them to read what four books, and if they don't have time, to read two books to begin with. If they have read the two books, they will find time to read the next two books as well.
  • My recap is teaching and guidance. A small part can be done by the system; most of it comes from experienced users who guide and teach the less experienced. - Art Unbound 20:28, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
20:28, 22 November 2009

I would add another category: Proposals that make it more fun to contribute. Becoming an editor is often not about knowing why and how and what to contribute but about finding the experience rewarding.

15:11, 29 November 2009

I've started sorting proposals that are relevant to this task force:

Please dive in and add proposals that you find relevant. I suggest we limit it to concrete proposals that are relatively well-developed, rather than vague ones that amount to merely statements of goals or identification of problems. Feel free to move things around in terms of impact assessments, or add comments about why a particular proposal is over- or under-rated for impact. We don't have too much time before our recommendations are due.

16:30, 29 November 2009

As a college student studied intracultural communications. I've learned a lot about the attempts made by companies to diversify their workforce. Read up on this subject! I can't it stress enough! Get a critical socially (they are the ones who want to get a diverse work force) book on intercultural communications, and read the section on intracultural communications in the work place. There is so much helpful information you could learn and apply to helping reader conversion in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia's style of writing inhibits other cultures from contributing there knowledge. Wikipedia demands a uniform way of communication. We set standards on Grammar, being concise, and many other important things. These standards, though necessary, discourage other cultures from writing on Wikipedia.

20:34, 20 January 2010

I'm not really sure how you want to change the "writing style" of wikipedia. For different cultures there are different languages...though this may not be the most pertinent way to look at it.

23:48, 20 January 2010

I agree with you. And I don't think we can attract people from other cultures to work with us very easily. Coca-cola has spent millions of dollars in an attempt to get a culturally diverse work place and they failed. And most of the culturally diverse workers they attracted quit.

03:01, 21 January 2010

Imagine how much harder it would be for a project where nobody is getting paid for their cooperation. When you're dealing with volunteers, you have very little leverage to change their behavior.

04:14, 21 January 2010

Or for them to change our behavior. :) But you make a great point! we have very little leverage, It will be extremely hard to get intercultural collaboration on wiki media projects etc...Cozzycovers 06:14, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

06:14, 21 January 2010

I really like this graphic, but I think that "have confidence that their contributions will be valued and kept" (listed as factor by 25% of respondents) should be listed as a Pre-condition as well, or maybe someplace else I'm not imagining. It was listed by enough respondents that it seems missing from this graphic.

I think that confidence could come from a) better learning procedures and confidence that they understand how to format and cite material so it as acceptable and will be accepted b) better understanding of how to monitor pages and how to understand and respond to input from other editors (including nominations for deletion or critical tags like needs citation or notability) c) better tools for monitoring pages, like getting some form of email notification turned on for wikipedia d) an improved sense that someone friendly will be there to help or guide them e) possibly a way for people to recieve feedback or approval for their editing - letting people rate pages or particular edits, for example. There are awards like barnstars, but no speficic way to earn those rewards.

18:02, 10 November 2009

Thanks for your suggestion. I've just added this other "pre-condition" (contributions valued and kept - 25%) to the diagram above as well.

11:15, 11 November 2009

Awesome! thanks.

12:51, 11 November 2009
Edited by author.
Last edit: 01:54, 20 January 2010

There are several things that are preventing readers from becoming editors.

  • First and foremost is the lack of a decent WYSIWYG interface. Wikipedia's current editing interface is relatively obsolete and archaic. Newcommers do not understand how to start a new section, or sign their names. I would suggest a simple javascript editor such as TinyMCE.
  • Secondly, wikipedia lacks a modern communication system. Whereas most other sites use some type of IM, wikipedia largely relies on IRC which isn't newbie friendly. Creating/hosting some kind of easy instant communication system would make it much easier for newcomers to ask questions. Whereas most websites have forums, wikipedia has talkpages to which few newcomers can relate.
  • Thirdly, there is the fact of rampant deletion, the endlessly building bureaucracy, and the admins with covert motives. The content added by new editors is often reverted, and in doing so, the new editor leaves wikipedia. Or, as the new editor begins to edit more, they get stonewalled in the quagmire of bureaucratic policies represented through otherwise meaningless acronyms. Or worse yet, the new editor is met by an undiplomatic and nationalistic admin who uses his powers to harass the editor until he quits.

My recommendation would be to add a more user friendly, WYSIWYG interface, and possibly have separate interfaces with more options for more advanced interface does not fit all.In the future, Wikipedia should move more towards collaborative editing in which several users can edit a page at the same time. Wikipedia should also implement some kind of instant communication system rather than relying on talk pages.

There also need to be a series of simple video tutorials that show to the newcoming user how to edit Wikipedia and how to respond/communicate with fellow Wikipedia.

Ideally, I'd like to see wikimedia move to a more intuitive editing interface like adobe incontext.

Edit: I managed to elicit a response from Philippe ^.^ It's good to see you're still watching. I also wanted to suggest that a banner ad be run promoting editing, something similar in context to the ones used to solicit donations and the like. I will certainly have a look at those recommendations and offer my remarks there. Cheers!

23:18, 19 January 2010

Hi Smallman12q -

There are a couple of recommendations around similar ideas at the Community Health task force.... Task_force/Recommendations/Community_health - I'm curious about your thoughts on them.

01:25, 20 January 2010

I'm watching like a hawk :-)

01:55, 20 January 2010

I think many people are deterred from contributing because of the current editor which requires coding. Many people will give up editing if they have to learn Wiki markup first. Also some people (like myself, I must admit) know enough of the markup language in order to make edits but are still deterred from making edits because using code is simply more difficult than writing plain text.

I think a more user friendly editor would be a great improvement to the Wikimedia projects. If people see an interface that looks like the word editor they are used to the technological barrier to making edits will be reduced significantly.

Currently the "Editing help" link is hidden at the bottom of the page. Just making it more visible might make editing easier.

I really like the idea of having a list of needed edits and having it displayed in a prominent place. It is always easier to make a contribution if you know there is a gap and know that your work will be appreciated.

I also think editors might be encouraged to make more edits if they are able to get a reward for it. It could be as simple as other users writing a "thank you" to them, it could be high score lists like "Top 100 new editors" or "Top ten editors on Frisian Windmills" or it could be a competition where the best edit wins a small gift like some Wikipedia merchandise. I know that there are several problems in this and I don't know if such systems can be effectively protected against cheating but it was just an idea I got.

For those who feel they don't have the time to make edits there could be a list of quick tasks that would only need a few minutes of work. Not every edit has to be an academic paper in order to be useful.

The people who don't think they have anything to contribute might also be encouraged to make edits if there were very specific tasks. Instead of having a task that said "Improve the article on wild boars" there could be several other tasks more like "Describe the cultural associations of wild boars in Germany". This example might not be the best but if people are asked to contribute in a specific way those who feel they have nothing to add will discover how they indeed are able to add things.

-- 08:49, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

08:49, 27 January 2010

I absolutely agree. The current editing interface requires a specialized knowledge of markup...which in and of itself isn't very friendly. There ought to be more tutorials, more prominently placed, and a high score list would certainly encourage new editors.

22:56, 27 January 2010

Goals for increased diversity of participation

Edited by 3 users.
Last edit: 20:59, 24 January 2010

Different ideas, perspectives, and communication patterns will provide the projects with more talent. These benefits are seen in two areas:

  • problem solving
  • creativity

Cultural diversity increases problem-solving capabilities. No single person has the knowledge to resolve many of the problems we face. Diversity in culture on Wikipedia/Wikimedia will create valuable new approaches to problem solving. We steer towards traditional "either/or" thinking, while other cultures can make and develop diverse options to hard problems(John Oetzel, 215-216) .

  • Teams of people who are exposed to a wide range of opinions and perspectives, including beliefs that are different from our culture can make decisions and resolve problems better than teams of people not exposed to other opinions from people from other cultures(John Oetzel, 215-216).
  • Study's show the quality of ideas produced by culturally diverse groups are on average 11% higher than groups of culturally homogeneous people (McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1996).Cozzycovers 14:57, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Graphs 1.jpg


John Oetzel, "Intercultural communication: a layered approach", Person Education (2009) 215-216.

Graph on quality of ideas in teams of people (McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1996)
06:22, 21 January 2010

Definitely agree that diversity would improve our content, and our ideas overall. Different perspectives are always a good thing, even if you just end up reinforcing your original perspective in response.

16:33, 21 January 2010

This is very true.

10:46, 23 January 2010

small and medium wikipedias

... to develop a strategy for converting readers into editors ... I would like to distinguish between large and small Wikipedias.

Drivers of participation says: saw error I wanted to fix and I like the idea of sharing knowledge are some of the key motivators.

At small Wikipedias the first motivator is less important, because less text means less errors. Here the second motivator is more important. At large Wikipedias, there is only a small potential of contributors left that want to share knowledge. But there are more errors to fix.

My recommendation therefor is: Small wikipedias should look for contributors who want to share knowledge (maybe the main page could be improved at a small wikipedia to address these readers or a text at the top of the wikipedia could be added to speak to all the readers) and medium wikipedias should have articles with lot of errors. That means small wikipedias should write lot of small articles witch are easy to expand. That would help to increase the chance the article will be find at a search engine. One problem is that these small wikipedias have less experienced users. Maybe we could start a project to find an experienced wikipedian at a bigger wikipedia who could help in a smaller wikipedia (Mentoring)?

08:36, 24 January 2010


Hi everyone! I put a little bit of info about myself and some of my ideas about things that discourage readers from becoming editors on my user page. I look forward to working on this with you. Netmouse 01:11, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

01:11, 29 October 2009

I'v studied intracultural communications. I've learned a lot about the attempts made by companies to bring diversify their workforce. Read up on this subject! I can't it stress enough! Get a critical socially (they are the ones who want to get a diverse work force) book on intercultural communications, and read the section on intracultural communications in the work place. There is so much helpful information you could learn and apply to helping reader conversion in Wikipedia.

20:06, 20 January 2010

BBC reports results of study that wikipedia "lost" 49,000 editors in the first 3 months of 2009

I'd be interested to know people's thoughts on this report and how it might be relevant to our task:

23:43, 25 November 2009

To help out, you can find a link the study and Wikimedia interview with the guy who made it here. It might shed some more light on the problem, the causes, and the solutions.

00:34, 26 November 2009

How many people lost their jobs/businesses/homes - and regular access to a computer? Pl-ease!

20:51, 19 January 2010

Social networking features recommendation for this task force

I started a recommendation to add social networking features for the reader conversion task force. The Community Health task force developed it initially but I'm going to re-work it to make it more applicable for this task force.

20:25, 14 January 2010

Just want to echo my support for this. I think social networking could attract a different kind of user. That said, there is a dark side to social networking (harassment, organizing angry mobs). But I'm going to try to think hard about ways to contain those, or at least address abuse after the fact.

I'm willing to accept that objections shouldn't block this proposal -- only force this proposal to be the best design we can think of.

23:02, 14 January 2010


20:45, 19 January 2010

Proposal from Frank Schulenburg

Frank wrote a really good proposal for strategy wiki - i'm curious about your thoughts... Proposal:Improving our platform.

00:02, 22 December 2009

Clay Shirky on the four primary factors motivating participation

Hi folks,

I am going to cross-post this to multiple discussion pages here (Community Health, Reader Conversion and Quality) – hope that's okay with everyone. This is just a quick note, intended to be supportive and encouraging.

This morning I was at a little conference in Berkeley where Clay Shirky was speaking. And some of what he said was 1) applicable to the work you're doing here, and 2) suggested to me that you folks are on the right track. So I thought I'd share it :-)

Clay was talking about hobbies, which he says historically have been practiced in private – alone, or with family/friends. (Forgive me for equating Wikipedia to a hobby: let's assume we're defining hobby very very broadly.) Clay said that when hobbies were practiced primarily in private, there were two major intrinsic personal motivations for participation:

1) autonomy (nobody assigned me to do it, I wanted to do it)
2) competence (I am good at it, and by practicing I get better, which is fun)

Since the advent of the internet, “hobbies” have moved into the public sphere – they are now practiced in large groups, often with strangers, and the output is visible to others. Clay said that when that shift happened, two additional major intrinsic social motivations for participation developed:

3) feedback (I get more useful feedback than before, which helps me improve faster, which makes me happy)
4) reputation/respect (I can show off, and be publicly rewarded/honoured for being competent)

I thought this was really interesting, and particularly germane for the Community Health group, which has been talking about rewards. It's a pretty good framework, I think, for thinking about how to attract and retain project participants.

23:31, 7 December 2009

What key groups are under-represented, and why? How has their absence affected the Wikimedia projects?

Edited by another user.
Last edit: 15:00, 18 November 2009

Based on some of our discussions so far about barriers and incentives, I have added some ideas in the part of Participation/Attracting new participants and retaining existing participants#Ways that Wikimedia could attract new participants or retain existing participants, and I encourage the rest of you to add or edit that section based on insights from our work - we might pull from that list for our proposals next month.

Today, however, I invite you to examine the data in Participation/Participants_of_Wikimedia_projects#Demographics and think about what groups are under-represented, and what effect that's having on wikipedia. Further material is available in the survey here.

I have also written to the authors to see if we can get direct access to the survey data so we can cross-reference across characteristics that are currently reported separately, especially to see if any of the reasons for not contributing are more prevalent among under-represented populations.

In the meantime, knowing that most of the wikipedia contributors are young men without children, and from what you know about which topics are well-covered in wikipedia and what isn't, what do you think are important effects of the demographics of our contributors? Why should we try to better include under-represented groups? What knowledge might they have that we are missing?

14:36, 18 November 2009

Just a quick comment -- Netmouse, I think it is also true that editors are primarily clustered in Europe and North America: other regions of the world are less well-represented. Which leads to some parts of the world being better-covered than others.

These links might be useful: is a wikiproject aimed at countering systemic bias, primarily I believe geographically-based. is a blog post by Mark Graham, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. His analysis suggests that countries like the United States are well-covered in Wikipedia, and countries in Africa are least-well-covered. Germany is very dense with coverage; Chad is least-dense. (His work is based on geo-tagged articles, but the basic premise is surely accurate.)

Here is an article Mark wrote for the Guardian, covering the same substance.

22:33, 2 December 2009

Question: would someone like to interview an aspiring editor?

I've been corresponding lately with a donor named Jonathan, who lives in Texas. He's been a supporter of Wikipedia for several years, and has just recently started thinking about starting to edit.

In many ways, he would be an ideal Wikipedia editor: he is smart, literate, and shares our goals and values. He's been using Wikipedia for many years,and has a good understanding of what it is and is not. And, he's facing all the usual newbie challenges as he thinks about beginning to edit: he's not sure where or how to start, he's worried he has "nothing new to say," and he is wishing he had a mentor, or some other coaching/support.

I think an interview with Jonathan could be a useful piece of qualitative information for the task force: my guess is that 80% of the challenges he faces would be common to most/all new editors.

If someone here is interested in interviewing him / corresponding with him, in an effort to get a deeper understanding of "new editor" motivations and barriers, I would be happy to set that up: let me know.

(Just to be super-clear: he has never edited. He is thinking about editing, but hasn't tried yet.)

21:06, 1 December 2009


Do you know where in Texas he is, roughly? (Answer by email if it's private, if you'd like...) I'm there pretty often, I could do a face-to-face or just deliver wiki-love. :)

23:33, 1 December 2009

Philippe, yes, we can talk F2F tomorrow, when I see you in the office :-)

Yeah, please remind me to introduce you; that would work perfectly, and then you can introduce him to the appropriate task force if you think he could be useful for them. He's a lovely guy; he might be a great case study. Thanks :-)

04:30, 2 December 2009

Delightful. :)

19:09, 2 December 2009

Added new research

I have added new research to Reader conversion, a study from Berkeley, entitled "Readers are not Free-Riders: Reading as a Form off Participation on Wikipedia".

00:47, 1 December 2009

Article creation wizard

Dropping in from Quality Task Force, we found a tool that seems to be very useful for new editors: Article Creation Wizard. I'll also add from my experience (I've taught how to edit a Wiki to many dozens people) the main thing that scares them: 1) complex syntax (where is WYSWIG? or at least we need to "hide" complex syntax of infoboxes and cite templates from being seen by new editors - they click edit, see an infobox syntax, and give up... --Piotrus 00:53, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

00:53, 26 November 2009

Do you think it would help if for templates and infoboxes we could have a help link in edit mode - something that's like "What's this?" and newbies can click on that and get an explanation? I think one of the hardest things about templates and other magic is that it's non-obvious what they do and how they work. If people could easily access an explanation of any template, that could help. Contextual help, in other words.

22:43, 26 November 2009

Still too confusing :) Anything with complex syntax should be hidden (see en wiki, Template:Hidden), i.e. minimized with an option to expand (and de-expand) as a default setting. Editors should see full syntax only upon request (and could of course make it a default view mode via preferences). But we should not scare n00bies with complex syntax on their first edits.

05:25, 30 November 2009

some data on contributions

I know you guys are mostly focusing on how to convert readers into new contributors... But I came across some data on existing contributors that you may find interesting anyway.

Hope you find it interesting.

04:32, 27 November 2009
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