Looking ahead to recommendations: Ask Wikimedia to commit to more data collection

    That actually describes me too. "Too busy getting things done to be nice." Not that I'm nasty, but I don't think "hey, this guy could be a newbie, and might need some help learning things." If so, then the solution is helping people to manage their time, and showing people that integrating newbies needs to be a priority.

    Another reason for hostility, IMO, is that the project has just gotten bigger. It's the difference between a small town and New York City. In a small town, everyone kind of shares the same values, and knows each other, so they're not likely to have long and drawn out hostilities. They have disputes, but they can settle them themselves. But New York City is so big, and diverse, and anonymous, so people have more disagreements, and don't feel the need to be nice to someone they'll probably never see again. That's why NYC has a whole bunch of different community programs to handle its growth: groups for immigrants, workplace groups to welcome new employees, orientation leaders to integrate new students. The small town is its own community group. In NYC, you have to create hundreds.

    ... I just had that insight right now. I don't like to pat myself on the back, but I really like the analogy. :) I actually think it reinforces what you were saying about too little time. Randomran 21:06, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

    Randomran21:06, 23 November 2009

    < nods >

    One of my other lines of thinking to improve "community health" was to empower and publicise Wikiprojects. If people on a Wikiproject take newbies who edit "their" articles under their wing perhaps this would lead to a culture of people knowing each other more. So to take your analogy of The Big City, this would give Wikipedia distinct neighbourhoods where people could have more of a sense of community.

    I also thought that perhaps there could be a "Wikiprojects Charter" that members of Wikiprojects sign up to whenever they join a Wikiproject. So it could have, say, ten statements the user implicitly or explicitly agrees to and one of those points could be "I will welcome and encourage new editors".

    One way to empower Wikiprojects would be to give them better communication tools. This is where the idea of social features could come into play. Perhaps Wikiprojects could have a more dynamic hub showing activity on articles that fall within the project, tools to communicate with all project members, ways of seeing what members are doing.

    I guess the downsides are potential Wikiproject Wars where a sense of being on a "side" is fostered and the groups start to lock horns where there is an overlap on articles. For example the Wikiproject for a particular nation might run into conflict with Wikiproject military history because a patriotic view of a battle runs counter to a Western historian view.

    Bodnotbod15:52, 24 November 2009

    Since my best experience on Wikipedia was because someone plopped a WikiProject box on my user page (and invited me to remove it if I didn't want it, or join in if I appreciated it), I'm a huge fan of WikiProjects. I probably wouldn't have made the transition from new user to frequent user without a WikiProject. It's easy to feel lost in a huge city. But if you know the people in your neighborhood, or even just in your building, you have that support. You have people who can help you learn the ropes, settle disputes, discuss standards, help you with articles, and even give you a pat on the back now and then.

    The problem is what you said, where you get into group wars. I can't say I've had too many bad experiences when WikiProjects collide, because usually they care a common commitment to basic premises like verify things and don't push a point of view. (POV problems are sometimes challenging, at least projects agree in principal to be neutral.) The problem is with less formal groups. Groups who pour in from off-wiki like a website or email list. Or groups without any headquarters who kind of track each other's contributions and maybe send the occasional email or user page message. These groups are not organized around improving content, but around pushing an agenda. Formal WikiProjects are usually trying to reach a consensus. But the informal groups are trying to win a debate -- and once they realize that Wikipedia does not have "winners", they dedicate themselves to filibustering the debate, making Wikipedia a more hostile and unproductive place.

    A lot of this is leading us back to a good idea: social features. But it also leads us back to the hostility problem. Even with the primitive social features that Wikipedia already has, it's possible to coordinate drama and battles. We need to reconcile the contradictory goals of trying to make it easier to coordinate and help one another, while simultaneously making it harder for people to form gangs and mobs. That means having rules and guidelines where good coordination is allowed and promoted, but bad coordination is put to an end -- without sending the bad apples to pursue their crusade "underground".

    This is a tough challenge. But if we pull it off, it will improve community health exponentially. I think we've found the heart of our challenge.

    Randomran22:42, 24 November 2009

    Ah, it's gratifying to hear that about Wikiprojects. I personally have had no involvement with them apart from sensing their presence from the boxes you see on talk pages. It's good to hear that at least one of them is doing some kind of outreach by placing boxes on user pages. Perhaps we could consider some way of making it easier for Wikiprojects to issue some kind of invite.

    I have also seen FloNight suggesting elsewhere that we build on what is already on Wikimedia, which would make Wikiprojects a good target for recommendations.

    All that said, I keep having to remind myself every other day "this is not just about the Wikipedias"... so I don't know whether WikiProject cultures exist on other Wikimedia projects. Similarly, FloNight has made me aware that there's already quite a culture of "contests" on en:Wikipedia which might make a good foundation for the "rewarding editors" theme, but whether contests exist on other projects I don't know either.

    I'll write myself a To Do note to go around all the English projects and ask on the various Village Pumps and see if I can find out. I have been feeling a bit stuck as to what to do if I'm feeling a bit too tired to read the last 48 hours, so that will give me a meaningful task for tomorrow.

    Bodnotbod02:31, 25 November 2009

    Yeah, there's so much to read. Sometimes you have to take a break from reading dense reports, and sometimes it's good to just google around, or try to write down some ideas yourself. I'm sure that we can expand our ideas so they're relevant to all the Wikimedia projects, although I think our big community health challenge is really about figuring out why growth has stabilized and how to fix that.

    I've spent a lot of time trying to find data that helps us drill down into the problem. But I'm almost positive that it's going to end up reinforcing the broad solutions you're working on. I'm hoping to shift my effort from data gathering to discussing the actual problems very soon.

    Randomran04:03, 25 November 2009
    Edited by another user.
    Last edit: 04:00, 1 December 2009

    I definitely think we should make it more visible to experienced editors when they are dealing with newbies. Especially, I think when someone registered creates their first article, it might make sense to automatically tag it with an assessment that points out it is a newbie editor's first article. Alternatively, when someone tries to save a deletion or notability tag on a first-time article or an article created by an editor still in their first 15 days, we could throw up a nudge in the preview, sort of like the warning when a reference is inline without a reference/ tag, or give an error like you can set it to give if you don't provide a comment. Something that reminds the editor not to bite the newbies - you could include a check to see if they (or anyone) posted a welcome tag on the editor's page or other guidance before nominating their work for possible deletion.

    The challenge is that we don't want to make editing harder for people doing the good work/slog of deleting stupid vandalism, but we want to encourage people to be nice to well-meaning newbies. If a skeleton article is created, for instance, we might suggest an editor give it at least 10 minutes and a note to the creator before promoting it for speedy deletion due to lack of notability - lack of content in a first draft and lack of notability are not the same thing. hmm. We might alternatively prompt a newbie user to tag a draft - is there an {{earlydraft]] tag that indicates a user is actively working on an article and asks that it not be evaluated yet?

    Polite/nice process cannot be enforced, but it can be encouraged, and we can create infrastructure that helps that.

    --Sorry, this was me. I didn't realize I wasn't logged in. Netmouse 04:00, 1 December 2009 (UTC), 1 December 2009