Task force/Recommendations/Community health 5

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Outline: tools for community health

Question/Problem

New editors often don't know how to contribute, or where they might focus their efforts. Core editors seldom maintain heavy activity for more than 6-12 months, and often leave the project due to burnout.

Strategy

Better tools can support experienced editors, and reduce the learning curve for new users.

Implementation

  1. Create "What You See Is What You Get" editing interface
    • "WYSIWYG" for basic writing and formatting
    • "WYSIWYG" for renaming (not "moving") an article.
    • "WYSIWYG" for commonly-used templates, including citations.
  2. Make research easier to do
    • A comprehensive list of reliable sources
    • A web search engine that provides hits from this list of reliable sources
    • Simplified citations, including "WYSIWYG", and a web parser that can automatically extract author/date/title/etc. from articles at major news sites (e.g.: CNN, BBC...)
  3. Improve support and feedback by facilitating requests and responses
    • Allow "one button" requests for discussion and feedback, including peer review, second/third opinion, mergers, and deletions
    • Create pages or "Wizards" that match users to suitable work (including requests for discussion) based on skills, interests, and Wikipedia experience
  4. Simplify and facilitate discussion
    • Threaded-discussions with "WYSIWYG" interface and "comment box"
    • Make it possible to leave a quick comment to a user without leaving a "recent changes" page (including article history, editor history, and watchlists)
    • Allow "one button" requests for discussion and feedback, including peer review, second/third opinion, mergers, and deletions
  5. Make It Easier to Monitor and Maintain Changes
    • Allow users to watch categories
    • Allow users to create multiple or "tabbed" watch-lists
    • Articles should directly display their current quality level and existing issues

Assertion: better tools can support both new and experienced editors

Sub assertion: experienced editors are experiencing burnout

Fact: Active administrators have fallen in activity over the past two years.

Fact: Core editors on the most active projects are more likely to leave entirely, rather than scaling back their edits

Sub assertion: new volunteers take a significant time to integrate with a project

Fact: Wikipedians usually take around 200 days to reach the "core" of the top 10% most active contributors.

Fact: Wikipedians are most likely to leave within 15 days of registration.

Sub assertion: there are barriers to contribution that can be reduced

Fact: Volunteers claimed they were more likely to contribute if they knew how to edit

Fact: Volunteers claimed they were more likely to contribute if they knew where their efforts would be valued

Fact: Experts suggest that better tools can support existing editors and reduce the learning curve for new editors

Fact: the "usability initiative" has started to reduce these barriers, but may need greater resources, direction, and support

Assertion: Tools should simplify editing, research, discussion, and maintenance

Sub assertion: "What You See Is What You Get" should be standard for most editing

Fact: simpler editing has led to at least 30-50% more contributions on other Wikis

Fact: anecdotes indicate that WYSIWYG drastically reduces the probability that users abandon an attempted contribution

Fact: Wikia adopted WYSIWYG, and found a drastic reduction in the number of abandoned contributions

Fact: templates were optimized for experienced users, rather than new editors

Sub assertion: Tools should simplify research, reducing the learning curve for new editors, and providing support to experienced editors

Fact: Diverse volunteers are constantly aggregating reliable sources (sources with a reputation for fact-checking and peer review)

Fact: Large amounts of work and discussion revolve around the attribution of information to reliable sources

Quotes from Travis Kriplean study:

  • Wikipedia "demonstrates a major shift in emphasis towards attribution work -- making sure that Wikipedia is a source of knowledge where facts are attributed to sources"
  • "policy citations track global shifts in discursive and attribution work, suggesting that policies may be valuable as micro-level indicators of work activity"
  • "[P]olicies relating to attribution are more frequently cited than policies in other categories"

Fact: Community practices indicate desire lines to encourage research

Fact: Community practices indicate desire lines to simplify research and citation templates

Fact: references have been optimized for experienced editors, rather than new users

Sub assertion: Tools should improve how Wikipedians request and respond to requests for help and discussion

Fact: Volunteers have stated they would contribute more if they knew where their efforts would be valued

Fact: There is a strong correlation between those who stay on Wikipedia and those who participate in collaborative discussions

Fact: Processes for requesting discussion/feedback are suboptimal

Sub assertion: Tools should simplify and encourage discussion

Fact: There is a strong correlation between those who stay on Wikipedia and those who participate in collaborative discussions

Fact: WikiHow is supported by a healthy volunteer community

Quote from Jack Herrick interview:

  • "If you go talk to our community members, you will hear about a family feeling: community, friendly, open, welcoming, pleasant place to collaborate. Our ratio of men to women is far more skewed towards normal than Wikipedia. Our % of admins who we can identify, 43% are female. And that’s the people who make it to the highest level of wikiHow."

Fact: WikiHow makes talk pages more usable through comment boxes, instead of "edits"

Fact: WikiHow facilitates discussion by letting users leave messages without leaving "recent changes"

Fact: anecdotes indicate that WYSIWYG drastically reduces the probability that users abandon an attempted contribution

For further information and supporting materials, view Interface and tools for community health.