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The community health task force was assigned several questions to guide their work. Here are some data-driven answers to those questions.
What key measures of community health exist and how have these measures changed over time?
Wikipedia versus other projects
- Wikipedia attracts more than 95% of all Wikimedia viewers
- Growth in active contributors at other projects has peaked or stabilized
- A minority of volunteers make the majority of contributions
- The volunteer population is skewed towards young college educated men without families
- The number of editors leaving has increased more rapidly than the number of editors joining
- Active editor growth has stabilized across most projects
- Very active editor growth has stabilized across most projects
Activity of Wikipedia contributors
- Wikipedia content has shifted from exponential growth to constant growth
- Talk page activity has stabilized
- Contributions from anonymous authors have also stabilized
- Over time, Wikipedia contributors are now more likely to be reverted, especially less active contributors
What are the causes in the apparent decline in community?
- The top 10% of contributors on larger Wikipedias are more likely to leave than to scale back their edits, indicating burn out
- Activity at dispute resolution pages (on the English Wikipedia) has been climbing, indicating a growing culture of conflict
- The number of active administrators (on the English Wikipedia) has fallen since 2007, indicating burn out
- Broad agreement among experts that the community is becoming more hostile and closed
- Contributors are most likely to leave within 15 days of registration
- Contributors must "survive" for 200 days, on average, to reach the top 10% of contributors
- The number of reverts has grown steadily over time, especially for less active contributors, indicating an increasingly closed culture
- Comments from several experts that new users are finding the learning curve too difficult
How can these causes of the decline in community health be addressed? (i.e. cultural norms, technology solutions, communications)
- Volunteer recognition: Support and incentives for good volunteers.
- Social networking features: New tools for collaboration and communication
- Improved interface and tools: Making work easier and clearer for all editors
- Dispute resolution and decisions: Fixing consensus-building, decision-making, and dispute resolution. (And, incidentally, policy-making.)
- Community roles and governance: Improve governance, job assignments, and specializations (better administrative and non-administrative roles)
- Policy changes: Rethink policy (additions, removals, etc.)
- Vision and Goal-Setting: Set vision, goals, and targets to guide volunteers
- Research and Measures: Provide clearer measures of community health
This largely overlaps with proposals from the community:
- Volunteer recognition: See Category:Proposals for editor awards or rewards
- Social networking features: See Category:Proposals_for_new_social_features
- Improved interface and tools: See Category:Proposals for improving usability
- Dispute resolution and decisions: See Category:Proposals for reducing in-fighting
- Community roles and governance: See Category:Proposals for reforming policy and governance of Wikimedia projects
- Policy changes: See Category:Proposals for reforming policy and governance of Wikimedia projects
- Other: See Category:Proposals_for_volunteer_support
Are some projects more burdened with policies than others? If so, why and what has been the impact?
"Burden" is a loaded term.
There are policy differences between the different language Wikipedias. The German Wikipedia is considered more "exclusionist" than other Wikipedias, and was the the first project to embrace a policy of "flagged revisions".
Which policies have the most direct impact, both positive and negative, on contribution?
According to quantitative studies of across all Wikipedias, policy has no direct impact on contribution. Growth in active contributors has stabilized across all language projects, regardless of policy differences. This point was made clear in an expert interview, which stated: "Our results just showed us that this is true: policies have no influence on this stabilization effects. Instead, what is changing is the behavioral patterns in the community."
For more information, consult the interview.
Which policies are necessary for the functioning of the Wikimedia community? Which can be eliminated?
The task force has taken the position that the community wants to simplify, change, and strengthen policy, but they are not able to because of problems with consensus-building processes.
What 2-4 strategic opportunities for investment in improving community health would have the most positive impact on the attraction and retention of contributors?
The changes that would have the most positive impact on the retention of contributors can be found here:
Who is needed to support this strategy (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, individual volunteers, external partners), and what do they need to do?
These recommendations require:
- Financial investment from the Wikimedia foundation
- Moral support from the Wikimedia foundation
- Technical changes from volunteers and partners in software development
- Administration and maintenance from a small but active group of volunteers
- Buy-in from the community at large
Because the community is in a declining state of health, requiring community buy-in may create a circular problem. The community must come to an agreement in order to fix the community, but we must fix the community in order for the community to come to an agreement. Improving the community's decision-making processes is a top priority for the foundation for that reason.