Jump to content

Task force/Community Health/Weekly Report 02

From Strategic Planning

Task Force Weekly Report: week of 2009-16-November

Task Force Name:Enhance community health and culture task force

Report of Activities

During this week, we:

  • Individual report: I had much less input on the wiki than I had planned in this reporting week due to a saga with our water heater (located in the room where I work on this) which required three successive days of electricians and plumbers which made working a bit difficult. Hope to get back to normal this week. --Bodnotbod 12:23, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Individual report: I surveyed all the research out there and found a huge gap. Multiple sources confirm that the community has stagnated, but there is nothing but a few anecdotes about why the community is in decline. I've found some interesting quantitative research that gives us a little bit of help. I've contacted the author of this research, and tried to get an interview. Randomran 16:25, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Individual report: I've been looking at some of the issues about and surrounding the impact of huge amounts of often undocumented, unexplained and frequently arbitrary implementation of policy in en.Wikipedia. This seems to me to be a large deterrent for a lot of people (myself included) and I was, I have to admit, quite astonished to discover the true extent of hostility and policy fetishism when I found an article I was creating on a website owned and operated by a subsidiary of NewsCorp, the world's largest (or 2nd largest depending on how you crunch the numbers) media business was speedied in less than a minute of its creation. This is not going to endear new users or relatively inexperienced users to WP (and it doesn't impress very experienced ones either).
  • Deletionism appears to be rampant and reminiscent of the worst excesses of the French Revolution under Robespierre: the concept of Wikipedia is not paper (wherever that useful and informative collaborative essay by early users of en.WP has gone (and probably speedied by someone whose agenda it did not fulfill)) appears to have been thrown out and that anyone who can type a Speedy Delete tag can attempt to, and often does, destroy considerable useful work and effort put in by users. In any event the arbitrary speedy tag was spotted and amended by an alert user; one wonders however how often the checks fail. This overall appears to be a symptomatic trope of policy-centric vandalism rather than a constructive use of policy as enabling mechanism. I personally am considering my relationship with WP very carefully after that little contretemps and I may very well abandon any further involvement with it. In any event if I do decide to continue I will be paying much closer attention to deletionism, and its friends, as central agents in affecting community health.
  • Digging deeper into the events, it transpires I have identified a wholly new species of editor: one that does nothing but tag, AFD and speedy. Take a look at this as an example of what I mean: [1] Momentarily I thought I had stumbled across a bot. Sjc 08:32, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Planned activities for next week

Please be specific and aggressive. It is okay to roll activities from week to week if necessary.

  • Individual report: I guess I'm going to continue looking at proposals and research as well as scanning recent changes a few times a day to see what's going on around the wiki. I will be hoping to find more proposals and data relevant to our TF and will perhaps join in conversations on other TFs if they overlap with ours. --Bodnotbod 14:06, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Individual report: I'm going to try to get an interview with the author of this quantitative analysis to see if we can find something more definitive about why editors are leaving, or at least how we can make them stay. I'm also going to come to a final conclusion about what research we *don't* have, so that we know what research we still need. Randomran 16:28, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Individual report: I'm going to finish catching up and look through relevant proposals. Henna 00:10, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Individual report: I am going to consider my relationship with en.wikipedia & wikia in general very carefully (see above). I may well step away (from en.WP) in the short term and possibly indefinitely. As an ongoing process with Wikinews I am also seeing how the Accreditation policy operates; if we are to expand WN & other wikia which have need of accreditation as a means to an end this will need to be a smooth and seamless operation. Sjc 08:34, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Resources needed

To complete our work, this task force needs the following resources or assistance:

Individual report: I would like to see fellow Task Force members continuing to update their 'favorites' page as, at the moment, I don't know the line of thinking of my colleagues (eg, what proposals do they think have merit? What themes are present in their favorites?) It would also help me because they may have found proposals I haven't even seen. With so many proposals it is unlikely I will view all of them, so I will be somewhat reliant on fellow TF folk to bring them to my attention. --Bodnotbod 14:11, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

We still need:

  1. Data on why new users leave the community after less than 2-4 weeks.
  • We can get a broad measure of this by statistical analysis from the DB Sjc 09:43, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
  1. Data on why veteran users leave the community after more than 6 months to a year.
  • Interview data set against statistical data from the DB might help here. Sjc 09:43, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
  1. Data on policy differences between the different language Wikipedias, so we can study the impact of policies on community.
  • Note: there are 2 sorts of policy here: documented policy and unspoken policy. We need both if we are to draw meaningful conclusions and this looks problematic in the extreme. In this examination we cannot also ignore cultural, social, and legislative differences if the conclusions we are to draw are to be meaningful.Sjc 09:43, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

We have some anecdotes and personal experiences, but that's about it. Randomran 16:30, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

To that end we also need someone (I guess someone higher up on strat wiki, eg Philippe or Eekim) to put into action our survey of former users. --Bodnotbod 11:00, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I will chat with eekim and see what we can and cannot do on this front. I will report back to the task force as quickly as possible. I am in Brazil this week, but expect to be fairly functionally working, so I will try to make some progress on this. (Philippe, from Brazil and not signed in.)
Yeah, in the absence of other data (and it looks like there is none), we'll need to get that survey going. Or else we'll just have to take our most educated guess. Randomran 20:05, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
  • We need some hard figures relating to the speedying, reverting of edits and AFDing of articles. I am looking at *exactly* what stats we need but %ile assessments of SpeedyDelete/NewUser->NewArticles might paint an interesting picture as might AFD/NewUser->Contributions reverted/re-edited (within certain timeframes) may well prove illuminating.
  • These stats are not going to grow on trees, and the numbers and figures we need we can only get at with sql queries to the DB itself. I could probably figure out what the queries ought to look like with access to the DB (used to have direct DB sql access years ago, somehow it vanished one day and never returned without any explanation whatsoever). I could download the dump but tbh dling and XML parsing that amount of data we won't be finished by Jan 2110 let alone Jan 2010. Sjc 09:34, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Piskorski, in his interview (PDF) says that he interviewed 100 Wikipedians over instant messaging and that 50% of those people had left Wikipedia. The Task Force urges Philippe/Eekim to contact Piskorski or provide our TF with the means to do so, to see if we can get access to those interviews, they may teach us a lot about why people left. --Bodnotbod 18:02, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I will see what if any information Dr. Piskorski is willing to release to the task force. (Philippe, working from Brazil and not signed in).
Yeah, those 50 interviews have a lot of potential. Especially since his sample is random. Hopefully we'll get a good balance between a variety of opinions, while still finding some common ground between them. Randomran 20:05, 18 November 2009 (UTC)


This week, this task force wishes to recognize for their assistance the following users:

Other comments

  • It would also be helpful to know if there is time for a study of why editors are leaving, or if we're going to have to make educated guesses based on the anecdotes we have. Randomran 17:30, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • I note, with rising alarm (since today's addition to our TF page of the 12 January deadline), that some members of this Task Force haven't edited the wiki this week. JaapB hasn't edited since November 5th, JCravens42 since October 28th, SJC since November 9th. They may well be doing a lot of reading, of course, (if this is the case, then I plead with those editors to mention it in this report or to put proposals on their favorites page) but there's a danger that this TF is working at half strength, which is far from ideal. I had expected to be bouncing ideas around and debating a lot more and that's not really happening yet. --Bodnotbod 23:23, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I will try to send some follow-up mails on this asap; thanks for calling it to my attention. (Philippe, from Brazil)
  • I have probably intimated before that I have reservations about the deadline, if not let me take this opportunity to do so now. I now no longer think this Jan 12 deadline is a wholly unachievable target given the extent, reach and depth of the issues which affect the various wikia, I can pretty much guarantee it. I think if this subject area is going to be addressed properly we need more human resource, more time and better and much more clearly defined terms of reference and objectives. Sjc 09:09, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
  • There's nothing to stop the task force from continuing its work later, but the deadline is a hard one: the Board has to make strategic planning decisions within the context of the annual budgetary cycle, and to meet that cycle, this deadline has to be met. You may expand your work further afterwards, but we need something by that date. -- Philippe 11:39, 18 November 2009 (UTC)


Our notes or documentation can be found at:

Submitted by: FloNight