Top areas of interest for Community Health task force recommendations
Top areas of interest for Community Health task force recommendations
Currently, the top areas of interest for Community Health task force recommendations are:
Volunteer Recognition, Research and Measures, Social Networking, Decision making: Dispute Resolution and Policy.
From looking at the decision table, and the comments on the various talk pages I see a strong interest in these areas.
The first three have concrete ideas associated with them and I think that we definitely can deliver them to the Foundation board as recommendations. The last one, Decision making: Dispute Resolution and Policy, is seen as an area of need, but I'm less sure that we have a concrete concise recommendation now.
Do we want to pursue these four recommendations? Or only the top three? Or am I totally off the mark? :-)
I agree with your post entirely. I intend to draft a recommendation on Social Networking this week. I'm struggling to get back up to speed today after the holidays but am hoping to feel a bit more inspired and energetic tomorrow. Most of the ground work is done. But where plenty of input is needed is in determining which specific features we would like to see. I think that it would be good to write up some specific features, rather than just say "WMF Board, we think you should implement some sort of social features but we don't have any ideas what they would look like."
I have some sketchy ideas of my own. But I don't use Facebook or MySpace. I have some idea of what sort of features they provide from my reading, but that's never the same as genuine experience.
Some of the ideas floating around my head are:
- Some option to subscribe to / follow other volunteers. The question then becomes what will that mean for the user in practice?
Some ideas (dependent on the idea that you will have some kind of personal 'social features page' to look at, distinct from your user page) are:
- For those people you follow, you can see what they've been editing.
- For those you follow, you can see what they're reading (which I guess might require that each article has an "I read this page" button, which would increase server loads, as would all these ideas I guess).
- And/or an '"I like this" button which could feed you data about friends liking an article and also generate "trending articles" lists where we can see what articles are currently the most popular reads.
- A faster way to message your 'friends' than navigating to talk page (though it should still be transparent and generate a publicly viewable history).
However, I do feel my ideas aren't that inspired. I sense that there are more exciting things that can be done but are currently out of my reach.
Other things to consider is "Can Social Features help WikiProjects"? Given more time I would have liked to open up a debate with some of the WikiProjects to ask them, as they would know best. It's getting rather late for that now. But we could at least state in the recommendation that such a discussion with the WikiProjects is desirable and that perhaps someone should take a lead in that area. They might benefit from some kind of modular page where they can see what fellow WProj members have been doing, improved communication facilities... all of which I guess would have to mean that joining a Wikiproject would no longer be just adding your name to a list but is somehow built into the software. The downside of this may be that setting up a new Wikiproject becomes more difficult.
Then there's portals. Could portals be more dynamic, showing a list of recent changes to articles claimed under the topic and listing potential 'friends' who identify with the topic?
Which might then lead to the question of; should we distinguish between portals and WProjects? Or could the two concepts be combined? That's only just occurred to me, so it's pure brainstorming.
I think that some of these features that you mention exist (at least in rudimentary ways) so there is a desire to use them. For example, there are special watch lists and noticeboards developed to aid in following articles related to living people. But adding these type of features requires coding and mark up that many people do not know so they are not commonly used (or used to their full potential.)
I agree that improved communication features could enhance the work of Wikiprojects and other different types of groups (such as members of Chapter members, committees, and task forces). Watch lists, notice board, Wikiproject pages, and portals are the most common ways that people communicate on site. Other people go to IRC, Skype, and mailing lists to overcome the problems that they encounter with the on site methods. But this separates those people from the other people that primary use on wiki features and communication methods. We need to encourage methods of communication that are inclusive and can be used on site. (I'm not opposed to off site communication but think that on better on site communication methods are needed, too.)
So, yes. I think that you are on the right track.
Can you teach me more about the special watchlists you mention? I'm not aware of those.
I'm not an expert about this type of stuff but I'll share what I know.
Basic inforamtion about watchlists is here. . Note that it discusses making a cross wiki watchlist.
This page discusses the BLP list that is developed from articles brought to the BLP noticeborad. 
As this page mentions, it is also possible to monitor all the pages that are brought to the BLP noticeboard. 
This is an example of a way that watchlists are used to aid in monitoring content.
Also, it is possible to use templates to make a grouping of pages that can be monitored. For example see the Wikipedia English Arbitration Committee template. 
This template is updated manually to include pages related to ArbCom. From this template a list of recent changes to all arbcom related pages is created. 
And users can subscribe to feeds that bring them updates to Wikipedia pages. I know that people can get them sent to IRC channels. I check to see if it is possible to get them sent by email, too.
Also see this anti-vandalism tool that includes a way to monitor your watchlist from your browswer.
People that are interested in cleaning up article have developed various tools to aid them in the work. See this page for a description of them and ways that people have grouped together to do it. 
Wikiprojects use templates, too, so it is possible to monitor a set of pages related to the project. See the Military history project related changes list that is created from their navigation template. 
Although these types of resources are available, I think that they are under used for a variety of reasons. More on that later.
Blimey! Lots for me to see there. Thank you. I'll check those out later today or early afternoon tomorrow.
I've had a look at those links now. Thanks again. I'm slightly at a loss of how to use the information you've given in the context of the draft recommendation, other than simply to draw the board's attention to them and say "can we make (some of) these a part of a Mediawiki interface, so that they're given an easily accessible front end, rather than looking like workarounds".
I'll ponder it a bit more as I work on the draft recommendation.
What needs to happen is for the features to be packaged and then offered in a way that encourages there use. But since we don't fully understand the complexity of how these all interface on w:en:MediaWiki, we can give specific details about implementation. I think that we need to go with a recommendation/proposal that backs up the need with fact, and give a general overview of what we would like to see happen.
I wouldn't say those are the top four. There are really six items on the shortlist, including new organizational roles and structures, and interface design. The ratings were just a proxy, based on what we knew at the time. And the numbers were still too close to say anything conclusive.
At this point, I would drop the research and measures thing as not providing much impact. Its impact is very long term, and probably will only confirm what we've gathered on our own: that editors are leaving, that conflict is increasing, and that many volunteers find their work difficult (and eventually unrewarding). I think there is value here, but not in our top four.
I'm also nervous about social networking features. For a lot of reasons, but I'd sum it up as abuse. There is already evidence that conflict and hostility are hurting community health, and I'd venture to say it's the biggest threat. When we make it easier for users to interact, we don't get to decide whether those interactions will be positive or negative. We'll get more of both. I'm not comfortable putting this in the top four unless we have a plan to control the negatives.
I'm going to get to work on all of them. I'll check in again at the end of the day.
PS: things are coming right down to the wire, so I'm going to be moving pretty quickly. Let me apologize in advance if I step on any toes. Please push back on me politely, if I become too bold.