Topics related to content quality
While I am still reading the old threads (still 156 messages to go), I thought it would be useful if I give here a summary of the discussion on the same topic we are having on ru.wp (ru:Википедия:Проект:Качество/Проблемы). This is strictly related to the content, not to the global changes in the community etc. Obviously problems of other projects can be different, but I think it is still good if I summarize it. In this message, I only list the issues, even though I have some ideas about the implementation.
- Low quantity and sometimes low quality of specialized articles (those which can not be contributed by the general audience) - science, social sciences, humanities.
- Sometimes even areas of general interest are not covered in a satisfactory way (if the are a bit off mainstream: for instance, on ru.wp we have very few bios of Hungarian artists, for whatever reason).
- Review articles are often sub-standard and non-existent (example: the article French music does not exist on ru.wp).
- We can not guarantee the preservation of high quality standards. For instance, if an article gets voted a FA, it means it has been refereed, and the structure has been discussed, etc. If now a new user comes and starts re-writing it completely, we can not do anything about this user if he is not cooperative.
- No guarantee that the info in the articles is correct (not even talking about contested topics).
- Articles created by newbies are often sub-standard (on ru.wp, IP-users can also create articles, in contrast to en.wp).
- Pictures are often not available (including Commons);
- Info does not always get updated on time (elections, sports competitions etc).
- The process of nomination of FA and GA is so difficult that many do not attempt; this smears the quality standards.
There are more points over there but they may be related to specific ru.wp problems.--Yaroslav Blanter 13:12, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
May be someone knows how to move this out of the Archive, I failed to do this. Thanks.--Yaroslav Blanter 13:42, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
Dear Yaroslav, thanks for this insight in the quality process of wp-ru. I find it most interesting to read. My Russian is still fairly limited and I wouldn't be able to read these discussions myself. I think a lot of the points of attention on wp-ru have already been touched in some way in our discussions.
Many of the points seem to have to do with a small community (even though wp-ru is one of the larger projects!) and are sad evidence for my "theory of wiki-erosion".
- Is there a lot of translation of content from wp-en and other projects to wp-ru? Is there a lot of translation from wp-ru to other projects (larger projects like wp-en but also small local languages like wp-kk or wp-be)?
- Wp-ru has implemented flagged revisions about two years ago (if I am correct). Can you comment on the effect of this on community size and quality?
Also, many of your points seem to have to do with project completeness. I think completeness is an aspect of quality from demand (the reader wants to find something, yet it isn't there) and for the project (it doesn't cover some relevant areas). The wiki-philosophy says that completeness will eventually be reached, no matter how long we have to wait. Can you explain what reasons the community of wp-ru has to doubt this philosophy?
Now concerning the flagged revisions. The current version has been implemented in Aug 2008 (before that, we had only flagged revisions for newly created articles). We only have the simplest review requirements: in order to be flagged, an article should not be vandalized, should contain categories, should have at least one internal link and a couple of more requirements. This is very useful, since it saves me a lot of time fighting vandalism in my watchlist, but we have not seen any increase in the number of editors because of this. We have about 500 editors (those who can flag articles) and about 500 autoreviewers (those whose edits get flagged automatically provided the previous version has been flagged); in some sense, these can be considered as "trusted users" discussed in one of the earlier threads.
Concerning the translations. Yes, we translate a lot, mostly from English, since this is standard second language for Russian-speaking users. There are less users who can also translate from German and French and a handful from other languages. Even though the translations are going slower than we would like to see, this is not the point I would like to make. The point is that for instance en.wp is an obvious place to search for good articles on US history, and even though we eventually translated only three of 50 articles on US state histories (and even these are not complete) I am sure another 47 will be translated within a reasonable period. I have more concerns about articles asy of Japanese interest. I assume ja.wp has a lot of quality articles on say Japanese theater which en.wp does not have (I just gave an example if I am wrong on this patricular subject pls replace it for smth else). We on ru.wp do not have enough Japanese speakers to identify and translate these articles. We have to rely on en.wp which first makes a quality translation (by quality translation I understand not just translation, which some users make with online translation tools, but also an adaptation of the articles: for instance, explaining some details obvious for Japanese readers and not at all obvious to British readers) and then translate it to Russian. And we do not have any influence on the first step of such a two-step process. At least some Meta project targeting the problem in a systematic way (going beyond 1000 most important articles) would be nice.
This is exactly the problem I tried to emphasise when I wrote about wiki-erosion. Some solutions would be:
- Move wikiprojects to meta;
- Actively search for specialist users on smaller projects and invite them to join the meta-Wikiprojects;
- The Wikiprojects at meta should make one or two 1000-article lists about their subjects (with links to FA/GA status articles).
The key seems to me more communication and cooperation between different projects. There is of course a huge language barrier, but being European, I think we can overcome this when we carefully read each other's comments.
The bias toward the Anglo-Saxon world due to more translation from wp-en (than, for example, from wp-de, wp-ja or wp-fr) is not just a Russian problem. At wp-nl, the same problem exists.
I agree with #1 and 3, but the language problem seems to be very much important here: the wiki-projects will apparently be functioning in English, meaning we need translations etc. As for #2, I thought as a measure of reduced participation we may introduce refereeing articles, not writing them. But I will write more on this point when I explain more on the specialized articles.
Now, specifically concerning the completeness. Yes, I believe that in many case we would have to wait too long. Let me give an example. I am a professional scientist, specializing on nanoscale physics. You know, acquainted with Nobel prize winners and so on. I know for sure that if we talk about the article, say, "Andreev reflection", there are 100 to may be 500 persons in the world, myself included, able to create a reasonable quality Wikipedia article on the subject. Most likely none of them is a Wikipedian and none of them will ever create such an article. (The article exists now on en.wp as a stub). We can wait of course till the number grows to 1500 and hope that some of them suddenly turn to Wikipedia (do not forget that most of them are active researchers who do not have time for hobbies). There are three different approaches to this problem, as I see it. 1) To approach individual experts and ask them to create an article (top-down approach). 2) To see when someone creates a stub and then approach to these experts and ask to referee the article and to help with building up the structure (bottom-up approach). 3) To rise the Wikipedia status to such a way that creation of say an FA would be equated in status to publishing in Nature (the most prestigious scientific journal). Then people would do it themselves. The #3 way is of course the most desirable, but not very much dependent on us in a direct way.
I will comment later today about flagged revisions too.