I emailed Philippe and Eugene regarding the scope of the concept of quality and was answered that content quality was the mandate of this group.

In response I asked Eugene/Philippe why that was not clarified up front. I am waiting on a response.

I also asked Eugene/Philippe how we would go about getting approval to start a broader Quality Task Force more in line with what we have been discussing and making content quality a part of it. I am waiting for an answer on that question.

In the meantime, I went through the Wikimedia Strategy Task Force information. We can basically start any task force we would like to work on. See About Task Forces:

In addition, there are a few things that might be good for us to reference, cited on same URL:

n support of these mandates, each Task Force will be given the following:

   * Set of strategic questions which should guide their work
   * Contact list of topic advisors who would be willing to provide input
   * Guiding paper which identifies and provides supporting evidence for strategic priorities
   * In depth fact bases on Reach, Content, and Participation, including detailed data analyses
   * Tools and templates to support conducting interviews, doing analyses, and creating the final deliverable

I have seen the questions, but not the other line items, which I probably have just missed because I am not digging around enough. Does anyone else know where these line items are? If so, please point me to URL's.

I propose we either create a Quality Task Force with a larger more comprehensive focus, as we have been discussing, and make a Content Quality Task Force a sub task force of the Quality Task Force, or we choose to repurpose this existing task force as a Quality Task Force, to discuss all issues dealing with Quality, and include Quality of Content as a sub heading in our efforts.

My reasons behind this are relatively simple:

I believe that in order to improve the quality of content (one of our end- and very-important- goals) we need to address a variety of quality issues. If we address only content quality in a vacuum we could end up building on a faulty foundation.

Per a discussion with FT2 off-LT, I believe we can create a "skeleton" with resultant threads that will address many issues that affect quality content, and in the process identify faulty parts of the skeleton that, over time, can be addressed and corrected. This would take both an inside to outside and outside to inside approach simultaneously, and would allow us to make realistic short term and longer term recommendations. As FT2 suggested to me, making smaller changes can pave the way for later larger changes.

Could everyone weigh in on this?


your very tired facilitator.

And yes, we still need a weekly report, so please also contribute to that so I or someone else can finalize. :)

Bhneihouse05:26, 3 December 2009


  • Set of strategic questions which should guide their work

-- You've seen these.

  • Contact list of topic advisors who would be willing to provide input

-- We'll help if there's a topic you need advice on.

  • Guiding paper which identifies and provides supporting evidence for strategic priorities

--This is the Wikimedia-pedia section, linked from the left sidebar.

  • In depth fact bases on Reach, Content, and Participation, including detailed data analyses

-- Also in Wikimedia-pedia

  • Tools and templates to support conducting interviews, doing analyses, and creating the final deliverable

--Templates are on the main task force page.

~Philippe (WMF)06:44, 3 December 2009

I am most certainly going to botch how I say this, as I have now typed this five times in 24 hours and still can’t seem to say it right but here goes.

Ok. The information is there on Wikipedia. But

  1. I should have been told up front where all of this was and
  2. I shouldn't be expected to go looking for the information.

I am making a point of this to illustrate how absurd some of Wikipedia's assumptions are.

Task Force assumption: someone new to the Wikipedia taskforce will go looking for the information they (may not even know they) need.

Parallel assumption: someone new to Wikipedia will figure it all out on their own.

Task Force assumption: people will want to contribute to making Wikipedia better so they will put up with all sorts of behaviors, bad tools, etc.

Parallel assumption: people want to contribute to Wikipedia so they will tolerate a lot.

In the real world, people expect to have as complete information as possible to work from, made easily available, especially when they are not paid for their time. Also, people expect appropriate tools unless they are working for a nonprofit who tells them up front "hey, we don’t have money for good tools." In either case, this should all be disclosed up front so people can make decisions based on as complete information as possible. Eg, if I know I am volunteering under less than perfect conditions than I might choose to not volunteer because the conditions may make the contributing too difficult or more time consuming.

One thing most of you do not know is that I am disabled. I have asked for accommodations for my disabilities. I asked for an alternative for LT because one of my disabilities makes working in this sort of format very difficult. It is not that I cannot use it; it is that it takes me several times longer to cope with information in certain types of formats because of the disability. So something that might take someone with the same intelligence as me an hour will take me several hours. When volunteering especially, I want to maximize my results with minimum time, because I have other obligations. My request for accommodations was met with a statement that other people have difficulties with this environment with a reference that it probably wasn’t my disability. However, an environment that other intelligent people find difficult with is even worse with my disability.

The point can be made that Wikipedia refused to provide accommodations for a substantiated disability. In point of fact, under Federal law, I don’t even have to substantiate a disability, all I have to do is identify that I have a disability and make a request for an accommodation. It is really bad politics to choose someone to facilitate a task force to change what is wrong with Wikipedia and then not provide an accommodation for a disability.

Ok, again, I brought this up to make a point. If Wikipedia cannot follow the mandate of a law regarding accommodations, which is a gross point, then how will Wikipedia respond to finer points such as how a newbie needs to be treated in order to maximize the quality of their user experience and to break the barriers to their participation and contribution? This is a MINDSET, a paradigm that many of you live in because it has been with you so long you cease to even see it as an assumption that can be un-made.

There is a distinct lack of equity going on and many Wikipedians, Task Force included, may not even understand that it is happening. If there are deep assumptions that are not recognized, this may lead to truly unacceptable behaviors being accepted, i.e. new members searching for information so they can volunteer. That scenario probably shouldn’t be acceptable.

I received an email today that made me realize that even the people leading this project are subject to the same deep assumptions. In answer to the question about the scope of our quality inquiry I received the following comment. “The mandate specifies a focus on Wikipedia quality. What else would that be other than content?” This speaks of assumptions being made that close off the process of intelligent inquiry. There is an assumption that there is nothing beyond this point or nothing else of value here to address from a quality standpoint. I didn’t think that closing off the inquiry was something that we did at Wikipedia. But it seems that this entire task force process is based on the same assumptions that put Wikipedia in a disadvantageous situation in the first place.

So my question is: is there any way to engage in this process with a clean slate, without basing the Task Forces on the damaging assumptions that are already holding Wikipedia back? Is there a way to effectively include people who are new to Wikipedia, who don’t know where to find information, to prepare them, give them information, guide them (while respecting their acumen), and without them feeling like they are being put through torture to get something simple done? Is there an entirely new way to work, especially on this task force, that leaves behind old unworkable assumptions, and that accommodates not only disabilities but differing working styles so each team member is able to be as effective as they are capable of being?

Bhneihouse06:50, 4 December 2009

I'm sorry but I agree with Bhneihouse. This task force cannot restrict itself or close off the process of inquiry by simply leaving out some aspects of quality in its considerations. My first step in this process was to define what quality is in the broadest sense. I found out that aspects which define quality are separable but related. I don't object to focussing on aspects of content, but to ignore everything else seems impossible.

Woodwalker11:09, 4 December 2009

I share your exact reason for keeping our mandate broader. Philippe/Eugene's answer is an extra reason to make content quality our main priority, but I believe we can't do that if we don't address the project/form/demand aspects of quality as well.

I scrolled through the list of people to contact. I'm interested in contacting Ed Chi or Misiek Piskorski. I'd like to hear their ideas about statistically analysing aspects/factors of quality (apart from by feedback).

@Bhneihouse: good luck and take it easy. If you focus on the weekly report for this weekend you'll already do more than your fair share.

Woodwalker07:36, 3 December 2009

thanks. Tomorrow I hope to have put together a report from everyone's comments under the Weekly Report topic heading. :)

That sounds good, going after statistical data. There is more hard data I would like to comb through as well, but more on demographics and usership, perhaps trying to build some sort of picture of user expectations as well as the potential expectations of the user base we are considering going after. Ft2 has some good ideas on this I hope he will share -- a choice of interfaces with a choosable level of help -- but I don't want to share his ideas. :)

I think we should all drink hot chocolate with vanilla snowman shaped marshmallows. They actually make them and I bought some.

Bhneihouse06:56, 4 December 2009
Edited by 2 users.
Last edit: 08:53, 6 December 2009

Woodwalker basically speaks my mind. Your mandate is to address the issue of content quality: that's the thing that the Board and our partners at Bridgespan and our internal staff have identified for this task force. You're welcome to address other issues as well, but we'd like that not to be at the expense of content quality. If you want to go in other directions, fine, but please make content quality your priority for the January deadline. Additive ideas are fine, but please - as Brenda is fond of saying - make it additive. Don't replace the mandate. :)


~Philippe (WMF)17:58, 4 December 2009

"The Board, our partners at Bridgespan and our internal staff identified Quality as the focus for this task force." Nowhere in the mandate I was given, nor the mandate that was written on this website was the word content written. It was, as Eugene emailed me, assumed. Unfortunately, assumptions do not support anything, including content on Wikipedia.

As the task force mandate states, and as the emails from Eugene and yourself state, we are free to make this task force what we feel is appropriate. Personally I am going to take advantage of the current state of anarchy to work in what I estimate is in everyone's best interest and keep the focus on big picture quality because without it, quality of content is IMPOSSIBLE. However, I am quite amenable to working side by side on content quality issues. Above I have outlined a few steps towards quality content by outlining recommendations towards creating a community wherein we retain quality contributors by not alienating them by allowing abusive behavior that games the system. As far as I am concerned, we actually have enough information to make more recommendations than we are responsible for. So all we need to do is to put them in a cohesive format, and then we are relieved of this immediate obligation and we can refocus on the bigger quality picture to ensure that what we are working on isnt just a small bandage on a very large wound.

Bhneihouse23:22, 4 December 2009

This task force is free to work on additional issues, but content quality is what it was envisioned for. Based upon the background pages you were asked to review, this task force grew out of Emerging Strategic Priority 3, entitled "Improve Quality Content". The Task force related analyses and data on Wikipedia quality, linked from this task force page as background research are:

All of these reference content quality.

Content quality is a major issue. It's not something that can be disposed of quickly and simply. I implore you, please work on that as your primary task. Additional tasks should be additive, not at the expense of content quality.

~Philippe (WMF)23:34, 4 December 2009

Did you really think that any of us put our time into something we do not care for? I care for the content of Wikipedia. So do, I think, all the other people who are here on this task force.

As I said last week, I handle brands with care and Wikipedia's brand is something I care for.

In addition, we have all repeatedly been told we are free to do as we see fit regarding quality. i do not think any of us will forget that it is what we READ on Wikipedia -- the content -- that makes it live and breathe for all of us. Are you really going to argue the point that content quality is not directly related to the quality of the user experience? How can someone like Woodwalker continue to contribute quality content in a viscious abusive atmosphere? All Wikipedia will have left are the malcontents who wish to destroy and not build.

I think this is an issue, as I wrote yesterday, of assumptions being made and not challenged...i.e. that what you all figured out in the big picture pow wow is really what needs to happen. I know I will sound disrespectful here, but all of those recommendations for the most part came from people who work with the same assumptions I have been talking about. Some of those assumptions may be so deep that people do not even realize they have those assumptions. Try changing your thought pattern to call the color blue the word "red" and you will have an idea of what a deep assumption looks and feels like. By their nature, they are things that are taken for granted as givens.

Btw, I wasn't given any of the documents you listed in a "welcome" email after I accepted Wikipedia's offer to be a part of this. Another oversight by the PM's? Are there any other oversights I should expect to hear about later? Yes, this verges on heresy, but so far my work here has been continually hampered by oversights. If I had done this when at Chevron fifteen years ago, they would have already fired me. If I were a less flexible or less committed newbie, I would have left already.

Philippe, if you look at recommendations for content, if you have read every word on this LT page, you will realize that major work has already been done. Perhaps it is time to stop plugging quality of content, as many comments, today's by Woodwalker included, keep citing bad behavior as inhibiting good content. This is a larger issue than just focusing on quality of content.

Have a little faith in us.

Bhneihouse00:38, 5 December 2009

I don't think Philippe is saying "don't focus on bad behavior". I think he's just saying that if you do focus on bad behavior, don't lose sight of the main goal of your task force, which is quality.

I'm just visiting from the community health task force. There is definitely some overlap, and we can learn from each other, and reinforce each other. But I would hate it if there was no task force that wasn't making quality their top priority.

Randomran02:21, 5 December 2009

@Randomran and all:

I think from reading these thoughts and ideas from this task force that bad behavior may actually be the single largest factor inhibiting or blocking quality content.

  1. bad conduct keeps conscientious users from contributing
  2. bad conduct obscures the truth
  3. bad conduct interferes with the mandate of Wikipedia
  4. bad conduct interferes with the content itself
  5. bad conduct keeps Wikipedia from being a welcoming community for new users and for less experienced users

Randomran, isn't quality also your task force's highest priority, in truth, when trying to make the Wikipedia community healthier? Why else make the community healthier than to make the user experience better and the content of a higher quality?

Bhneihouse02:58, 6 December 2009

You wouldn't be working on a good strategy if you didn't recognize how everything is interconnected. But I think the value of giving us different focuses is that we might notice different things. If we all focus on the same issues equally, we limit the value of the process. I think that's equally as bad as pigeonholing us into avoiding each other's issues.

Anyway, I'm here to help shed some light on the community health angles, and I agree community health is a big factor that inhibits quality content. Just don't lose sight of the underlying quality issue as you work on that.

Randomran06:50, 6 December 2009

Yep, agreed. While I see that these things are interconnected, I really want to leave community health issues, as much as possible, to the community health task force, or encourage you to at very least work in close cooperation with them. It doesn't make sense for every task force to emerge with exactly the same set of recommendations, all centered around community health. We recognize that community health is a problem. That's why there's a task force with highly skilled and motivated people working on it. I know that it feeds your discussions on quality, but please monitor their stuff and know that they're working on it, and drawing almost exactly the same conclusions you are. My hope is that you can feel freed of that particular aspect and move on to the other things that affect quality of content.

~Philippe (WMF)14:42, 6 December 2009

I must say the following. You guys seem to assume that only English wikipedia exists, and nothing else. However, I believe that whereas the content quality issues are more or less shared by all projects, other issues like for instance hostile behavior are very much different and can not be discussed as the main focus of this taskforce. I would therefore suggest to concentrate entirely on the quality content issues.--Yaroslav Blanter 19:31, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Yaroslav Blanter19:31, 7 December 2009

@Yaroslav Blanter: I wrote something similar in the discussion above.

Woodwalker11:18, 8 December 2009

I want to clarify something that has been bugging me and apologize if I was insulting or rude with one of my comments.

"I would have been fired..."

I meant and still mean for this to comment on the scale of the ramifications of a project that can bring in members including some newbies without properly preparing them or making readily available pertinent and germane information.

My comment is to say "if the task force which is committed to change cannot do it right, then who can?"

that about sums up my frustration. If I inadvertently dissed or insulted anyone I apologize and am very sorry. It was perhaps a poor way to say that they system isn't working, even at the "fixing this" level.

Bhneihouse06:58, 6 December 2009

I appreciate that. I was quite offended, but accept your apology and the spirit in which you offered it.

~Philippe (WMF)14:35, 6 December 2009

I am sorry to have offended you. In the future, please let me know if/when something I do/say offends you. Sometimes I am moving so fast by virtue of my life and it is not my intention to either hurt anyone or to abridge or negatively impact working relationships. I will say that currently my stress level is higher than it has been in some time. Unfortunately, this project has added to that. Not to say I do not want to be here or do not choose to be here. I will take more time in the future to think about things like this before I post.

I would like everyone on this taskforce to put themselves in my shoes. Throw a high level strategic thinker who is used to sorting out complexities and digesting them quickly into a system where simply typing in feedback is difficult. Being able to be effective grinds to a halt. Pause. Really think about that. Now magnify that 100 or 1,000 times for a newbie who isnt used to sorting out complexities and digesting them quickly. How do we get THAT person to (comfortably) add quality content? It is back to the "I am 'x"" statement.

Perhaps some percentage of bad behavior is actually frustration because of a perception that "Wikipedia isn't listening" or "Wikipedia contributing/editing is only for elites"? Can anyone here see how that perception can be crafted if the only way to contribute is knowing what is basically HTML? I have hand coded HTML (starting in 1994-ish and stopping a few years later then using software to generate code) and I work in Creative Suite and spent years in design and production of graphic design and web sites, yet even I cannot cope in this environment. What about ordinary Joe's and Jane's who have something valuable to contribute? How do they have any hope of creating quality content if it's difficult for them to express their thoughts on here? Or if their level of frustration is so high that they just choose to NOT contribute (as I have for a number of years.)? Think about this -- each one of us sees something wrong with Wikipedia or we would not be here. What is it we see as wrong? If we were the only one fixing it, what would we do? How would we re-make Wikipedia if no one else was looking/contributing?

Bhneihouse16:19, 6 December 2009

I am sorry the first line is a misquote. It should read "the issue of content quality: that's the thing that the Board and our partners at Bridgespan and our internal staff have identified for this task force."

Bhneihouse02:12, 5 December 2009