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Message to community about community decline
Dear all:

The Wikimedia Board of Trustees just completed its two-day meeting [1]
this weekend in Berlin. We devoted the longest time to discussing
declining trends in editing activity and our collective response to it.
I encourage everyone to review Sue’s March update [2], and the editor
trends study itself [3]. It is a deeply important topic, and each report
is only a few pages long.

The Board thinks this is the most significant challenge currently facing
our movement. We would encourage the whole movement - the communities,
wikiprojects, Chapters, Board, Foundation staff - to think about ways to
meet this challenge. We know many contributors care about this and have
worked on outreach and hospitality in past years. We are considering how
we can help make such work more effective, and ask for suggestions from
the community to this problem now and to invite discussion and
suggestions [4].

Greetings,
Ting

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Board_meetings/March_25-26
[2] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/March_2011_Update
[3] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study
[4] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:March_2011_Update

--
Ting Chen
Member of the Board of Trustees
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
E-Mail: tchen@wikimedia.org


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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 14:18, Ting Chen <tchen@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> I encourage everyone to review Sue’s March update [2], and the editor
> trends study itself [3]. It is a deeply important topic, and each report
> is only a few pages long. ...
>
> The Board thinks this is the most significant challenge currently facing
> our movement. ...
>
> [1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Board_meetings/March_25-26
> [2] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/March_2011_Update
> [3] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study
> [4] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:March_2011_Update
>

Hi Ting,

One of the things I wondered about the editor trends study is whether
it focused only on user names, as opposed to people.

It says: "Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble
successfully joining the Wikimedia community. Before 2005 in the
English Wikipedia, nearly 40% of new editors would still be active a
year after their first edit. After 2007, only about 12-15% of new
editors were still active a year after their first edit."

A simple explanation is that a significant percentage of new accounts
after 2007 were not new people, but people returning with new
identities, sometimes multiple ones. Any regular editor will tell you
that this happens a lot, for various reasons. Accounts are banned;
privacy is compromised; people acquire a certain reputation with an
account and want to start over; or they want a break from being User
X, for whatever reason, and become User Y for a while.

Did the study do anything to correlate number of accounts with number of people?

Sarah

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
I think that somewhere along the way we lost sight of many of the qualities
that make the wiki model work.

There are certain patterns, which a wiki community needs to follow to be
successful - beyond assume good faith, there are principles such as forgive
and forget that are just as crucial to community building. instead we punish
reputation endlessly -, once you make a mistake it follows you forever or at
least until you make a clean start. most people don't want to have to start
over every time they manage to offend someone, so I think we are becoming
victims of an increasingly cynical unforgiving and hopeless culture. The
editors that are left are either the ones with really thick skin, the ones
that haven't become jaded yet by community interaction,, or the ones that
create such a hostile enviroment.

We lack an effective structure for dealing with the more persistently
hostile editors- arbitration can only work so well when the abuse is subtle
and sustained rather than sharp outbursts.

We need both technological and social fixes to this problem. Edit histories
are both necessary and harmful. Community interaction in some cases needs to
be filtered - limiting who interacts with new editors sounds extreme but it
may be exactly the sort of change that helps us to ease new editors into our
community.
All these sort of things require interface changes to accomplish the needed
social changes.
This is the sort of area where the foundation should take a very active
role, because the mission itself is jeopardized by communities that are too
hostile for new members to be comfortable in.
Sent from my mobile device.
On Mar 27, 2011 8:27 PM, "Sarah" <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Wouldn't someone leaving & returning as a new username be a loss of 1 and a
gain of 1? Thereby being a net change of zero?

I'm sure there is some username churn in the stats, but I'd be surprised if
it was a significant portion (more than 1%) of tens of thousands of users.

-Jon

On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 17:27, Sarah <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Ting,
>
> One of the things I wondered about the editor trends study is whether
> it focused only on user names, as opposed to people.
>
> It says: "Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble
> successfully joining the Wikimedia community. Before 2005 in the
> English Wikipedia, nearly 40% of new editors would still be active a
> year after their first edit. After 2007, only about 12-15% of new
> editors were still active a year after their first edit."
>
> A simple explanation is that a significant percentage of new accounts
> after 2007 were not new people, but people returning with new
> identities, sometimes multiple ones. Any regular editor will tell you
> that this happens a lot, for various reasons. Accounts are banned;
> privacy is compromised; people acquire a certain reputation with an
> account and want to start over; or they want a break from being User
> X, for whatever reason, and become User Y for a while.
>
> Did the study do anything to correlate number of accounts with number of
> people?
>
> Sarah
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>



--
Jon
[[User:ShakataGaNai]] / KJ6FNQ
http://snowulf.com/
http://ipv6wiki.net/
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
> On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 17:27, Sarah <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
>> It says: "Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble
>> successfully joining the Wikimedia community. Before 2005 in the
>> English Wikipedia, nearly 40% of new editors would still be active a
>> year after their first edit. After 2007, only about 12-15% of new
>> editors were still active a year after their first edit."
>>
>> A simple explanation is that a significant percentage of new accounts
>> after 2007 were not new people, but people returning with new
>> identities, sometimes multiple ones.

On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 19:17, Jon Davis <wiki@konsoletek.com> wrote:
> Wouldn't someone leaving & returning as a new username be a loss of 1 and a
> gain of 1? Thereby being a net change of zero?

The conclusion of the study is that losses after one year were more
likely to happen after 2007. That could be (and almost certainly is)
because a higher proportion of accounts created after 2007 were second
accounts, which were then abandoned for third accounts, or to return
to the first one.

> I'm sure there is some username churn in the stats, but I'd be surprised if
> it was a significant portion (more than 1%) of tens of thousands of users.
>
> -Jon
>
I would dispute that, Jon, based on experience. That's why it would be
helpful to make some effort to identify how many people we're talking
about, as opposed to user names.

Sarah

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
I am really not sure how many of them are clean starts and socks. Probably
not a lot, but I also doubt that the number is insignificant. Given privacy
policies and people deliberately covering their tracks when using a new
identity, we probably can only guess at real numbers.

Hazarding a guess I would therorize the "returning" editor population to be
around 5-10% at any given time, at most.

Editors have a certain attachment to their identity so starting over isn't
exactly a choice taken lightly - its something done because events connected
with an old name make it more difficult to continue editing under it than it
is to break the attachment to ones identity.

Sent from my mobile device.
On Mar 27, 2011 11:06 PM, "Sarah" <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 17:27, Sarah <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> It says: "Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble
>>> successfully joining the Wikimedia community. Before 2005 in the
>>> English Wikipedia, nearly 40% of new editors would still be active a
>>> year after their first edit. After 2007, only about 12-15% of new
>>> editors were still active a year after their first edit."
>>>
>>> A simple explanation is that a significant percentage of new accounts
>>> after 2007 were not new people, but people returning with new
>>> identities, sometimes multiple ones.
>
> On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 19:17, Jon Davis <wiki@konsoletek.com> wrote:
>> Wouldn't someone leaving & returning as a new username be a loss of 1 and
a
>> gain of 1? Thereby being a net change of zero?
>
> The conclusion of the study is that losses after one year were more
> likely to happen after 2007. That could be (and almost certainly is)
> because a higher proportion of accounts created after 2007 were second
> accounts, which were then abandoned for third accounts, or to return
> to the first one.
>
>> I'm sure there is some username churn in the stats, but I'd be surprised
if
>> it was a significant portion (more than 1%) of tens of thousands of
users.
>>
>> -Jon
>>
> I would dispute that, Jon, based on experience. That's why it would be
> helpful to make some effort to identify how many people we're talking
> about, as opposed to user names.
>
> Sarah
>
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 21:20, Stephanie Daugherty <sdaugherty@gmail.com> wrote:
> I am really not sure how many of them are clean starts and socks. Probably
> not a lot, but I also doubt that the number is insignificant. Given privacy
> policies and people deliberately covering their tracks when using a new
> identity, we probably can only guess at real numbers.
>
> Hazarding a guess I would therorize the "returning" editor population to be
> around 5-10% at any given time, at most.
>
> Editors have a certain attachment to their identity so starting over isn't
> exactly a choice taken lightly - its something done because events connected
> with an old name make it more difficult to continue editing under it than it
> is to break the attachment to ones identity.

I agree with you about attachment, but lots of editors have more than
one account, so that issue needn't arise. A new account arriving in
2007 and leaving six months later might just as easily be an
established user having set up a new account, then abandoning it, and
returning to her old one. Or continuing to use the old one throughout.
There are lots of possible combinations here.

We had the same problem trying to guess the number of women at around
13 per cent. It was unscientific, but it did at least (sort of) fit
people's experiences.

But this editors' survey leaves the number of actual people we're
dealing with completely up in the air. We really shouldn't be saying
it's the most important issue we face based on that survey alone.

Sarah

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Hi Everyone,

It seems that our natural reaction is to immediately question the numbers and the underlying studies. We are Wikimedians and will not rest until we are sure that we are looking at 100% accurate numbers.

We could also look at this another way. Looking around me and talking to people about Wikipedia (and sometimes the other projects) I hear a lot of stories which demonstrate our inability to welcome everyone and motivate them to become regular contributors. The data strongly suggests the same thing. Instead of doubting the numbers, lets just assume that we are not doing well enough in this department. As one "old timer" told me last week: "Over the past years I have seen the community become more inward focused, more unfriendly to newcomers and more rigid.... and there was nothing I could do to stop it... "

While discussing this at the board meeting I heard examples of people that are doing great work in this area, but we need to do more. At a past Wikimania I asked someone what they did within the projects, her answer was: "not much"...."I just welcome new people and help them find their way". At that time (and I think this still persists on some level) we seem to value "true editors" more than those that perform other tasks. I don't have enough insight to see if this still the case, but my view is: helping new users find their way potentially has an impact that is way higher than editing...

While encouraging those that are doing this hard work now, I invite others to stop doubting the data, and simply focus on the fact that we have a lot of work to do and lets try to solve this together. It could be something simple like really helping out a new user once a week or sharing a great idea which we can execute together. Our projects are growing, and our contributor numbers are not growing with them. That is hurting quality, and at the end of the day... thats what we are judged on.

Jan-Bart de Vreede
Member of the Board of Trustees
Wikimedia Foundation

PS: Copied to Talk page on Wiki
> [4] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:March_2011_Update




On 27 mrt 2011, at 22:18, Ting Chen wrote:

> Dear all:
>
> The Wikimedia Board of Trustees just completed its two-day meeting [1]
> this weekend in Berlin. We devoted the longest time to discussing
> declining trends in editing activity and our collective response to it.
> I encourage everyone to review Sue’s March update [2], and the editor
> trends study itself [3]. It is a deeply important topic, and each report
> is only a few pages long.
>
> The Board thinks this is the most significant challenge currently facing
> our movement. We would encourage the whole movement - the communities,
> wikiprojects, Chapters, Board, Foundation staff - to think about ways to
> meet this challenge. We know many contributors care about this and have
> worked on outreach and hospitality in past years. We are considering how
> we can help make such work more effective, and ask for suggestions from
> the community to this problem now and to invite discussion and
> suggestions [4].
>
> Greetings,
> Ting
>
> [1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Board_meetings/March_25-26
> [2] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/March_2011_Update
> [3] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study
> [4] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:March_2011_Update
>
> --
> Ting Chen
> Member of the Board of Trustees
> Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
> E-Mail: tchen@wikimedia.org
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l


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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
The bar for contributing is higher. Whether because editing is more
technically challenging, or because the rules and standards are more
complex, or simply because more of what people know is documented than
it was 4 years ago... it's harder in a variety of ways for people to
contribute significantly on a regular basis (i.e. become regular
editors, as opposed to making several contributions and not
returning).

We can try to relax some of these barriers, but they grew naturally
along with the project; the needs of the project have evolved over
time, so winding back the clock to 2006 may not be beneficial in as
many was as some might think.

Nathan

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
> The bar for contributing is higher. Whether because editing is more
> technically challenging, or because the rules and standards are more
> complex, or simply because more of what people know is documented than
> it was 4 years ago... it's harder in a variety of ways for people to
> contribute significantly on a regular basis (i.e. become regular
> editors, as opposed to making several contributions and not
> returning).
>
> We can try to relax some of these barriers, but they grew naturally
> along with the project; the needs of the project have evolved over
> time, so winding back the clock to 2006 may not be beneficial in as
> many was as some might think.
>
> Nathan

That's right. We are expecting a lot more quality than we once did,
perhaps forgetting that it took some of us years to acquire our current
skills, such as they are. I think we need some less punishing way to
learn; although books like How Wikipedia Works, if consulted, are part of
the solution. Another is not going ballistic when mistakes are made by
newbies, or your "enemies".

Fred



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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On 28/03/2011 18:35, Nathan wrote:
> The bar for contributing is higher. Whether because editing is more
> technically challenging, or because the rules and standards are more
> complex, or simply because more of what people know is documented than
> it was 4 years ago... it's harder in a variety of ways for people to
> contribute significantly on a regular basis (i.e. become regular
> editors, as opposed to making several contributions and not
> returning).
>

Ah there is the reason, the sum of all human knowledge is approaching
completion. Well done to all.

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Best post I have read in a long time.

At 20:10 28-03-2011, you wrote:

>Ah there is the reason, the sum of all human knowledge is approaching
>completion. Well done to all.


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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
I'd have to say the enjoyment of cutting sarcasm is an important way in
which the community fosters the atmosphere we are concerned about.
Certainly it's something where I would admit some personal guilt.

--Michael Snow

On 3/28/2011 3:17 PM, Virgilio A. P. Machado wrote:
> Best post I have read in a long time.
>
> At 20:10 28-03-2011, you wrote:
>> Ah there is the reason, the sum of all human knowledge is approaching
>> completion. Well done to all.

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Don't worry, I'm sure everybody forgives you, even if some might
never forget. It's all in the archives and in your contributions,
right? Or have you been able to have "oversighted" some of the more
compromising material? That seems to work for a lot a folks.

At 23:32 28-03-2011, you wrote:
>I'd have to say the enjoyment of cutting sarcasm is an important way in
>which the community fosters the atmosphere we are concerned about.
>Certainly it's something where I would admit some personal guilt.
>
>--Michael Snow
>
>On 3/28/2011 3:17 PM, Virgilio A. P. Machado wrote:
> > Best post I have read in a long time.
> >
> > At 20:10 28-03-2011, you wrote:
> >> Ah there is the reason, the sum of all human knowledge is approaching
> >> completion. Well done to all.


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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Jan-Bart de Vreede wrote:
> While encouraging those that are doing this hard work now, I invite others to
> stop doubting the data, and simply focus on the fact that we have a lot of
> work to do and lets try to solve this together. It could be something simple
> like really helping out a new user once a week or sharing a great idea which
> we can execute together. Our projects are growing, and our contributor numbers
> are not growing with them. That is hurting quality, and at the end of the
> day... thats what we are judged on.

Hmm, really? Most of the concern seems to be about a faltering "movement,"
not about article quality. I'm not sure when it ever became popular to refer
to editing an online wiki site as some sort of movement; perhaps it's a
byproduct of the strategy sham or perhaps it predates it. In any case, I
think it's a bit weird, creepy, and unnecessary.

There's a theory that doing something like editing a free online
encyclopedia is a niche activity, with a finite amount of people who will
ever be willing to participate. If we accept this theory, it makes the very
strong focus on increased participation look rather silly.

I wonder if you've tried explaining how to use MediaWiki to anyone lately?
It's a fairly horrible experience that requires paragraphs to explain simple
concepts such as category addition or referencing. Going along with this
theory that we've brought in a majority of the people who are willing to
work on these free projects already, perhaps the focus should shift to
making their lives easier? And maybe from there, the pool of those willing
to get involved might grow a bit.

As I see it, the majority of editors don't interact with the hostile parts
of the community in any real way. Maybe some new editors receive a rude talk
page template, but most of them don't understand or bother to read these
templates.[*] New editors do, however, interact with the editing interface
quite a bit though, which is more hostile than any person could ever be.

MZMcBride

[*] I know I certainly didn't understand the talk page messages concept when
I first started editing. You see the orange "new messages" bar, you figure
out a way to make it go away, and then you move along with your editing.



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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10, Jan-Bart de Vreede <janbart@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> It seems that our natural reaction is to immediately question the numbers and the underlying studies. We are Wikimedians and will not rest until we are sure that we are looking at 100% accurate numbers.
>
> We could also look at this another way. Looking around me and talking to people about Wikipedia (and sometimes the other projects) I hear a lot of stories which demonstrate our inability to welcome everyone and motivate them to become regular contributors. The data strongly suggests the same thing. Instead of doubting the numbers, lets just assume that we are not doing well enough in this department.

Similarly, regular editors will tell you there's a serious problem of
established editors leaving, because the quality of editing is still
too low. The problem with the survey is that it highlights the need to
attract new editors, based on some doubtful figures, without
addressing that experienced editors are becoming disillusioned.

Sarah

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 18:20, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
> Going along with this
> theory that we've brought in a majority of the people who are willing to
> work on these free projects already, perhaps the focus should shift to
> making their lives easier? And maybe from there, the pool of those willing
> to get involved might grow a bit.

It's been a regular theme since I joined in 2004 that people have
minimized the contribution of established editors. We highlight
research emphasizing the percentage of edits made by anons; or studies
showing the real problem is that newbies don't stay long. And we
emphasize an ideology that ignores creativity and talent by saying it
doesn't matter who writes articles -- which amounts to saying that
people don't matter as individuals. All are replaceable.

But I believe that when the history of Wikipedia is eventually
written, we'll be astonished by the very small number of people who
created, wrote and maintained this project. And every time one of
those people leaves, real damage is inflicted on Wikipedia's future.

I wish the Foundation would focus on nurturing those people. The
difference that would make would be truly amazing.

Sarah

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
> On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 18:20, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>> Going along with this
>> theory that we've brought in a majority of the people who are willing to
>> work on these free projects already, perhaps the focus should shift to
>> making their lives easier? And maybe from there, the pool of those willing
>> to get involved might grow a bit.
>
on 3/28/11 10:19 PM, Sarah at slimvirgin@gmail.com wrote:

> It's been a regular theme since I joined in 2004 that people have
> minimized the contribution of established editors. We highlight
> research emphasizing the percentage of edits made by anons; or studies
> showing the real problem is that newbies don't stay long. And we
> emphasize an ideology that ignores creativity and talent by saying it
> doesn't matter who writes articles -- which amounts to saying that
> people don't matter as individuals. All are replaceable.
>
> But I believe that when the history of Wikipedia is eventually
> written, we'll be astonished by the very small number of people who
> created, wrote and maintained this project. And every time one of
> those people leaves, real damage is inflicted on Wikipedia's future.
>
> I wish the Foundation would focus on nurturing those people. The
> difference that would make would be truly amazing.
>
Exactly! Nicely said, Sarah. One of the things that has made the Wikipedia
Project so powerful is the emotional commitment that has gone into its
creation and maintenance. Technology cannot do that - only persons can.

Marc


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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Let's start with a couple of simple facts:
* Our main product is Wikipedia.
* Wikipedia has been built on Internet.
* Wikipedia has been built by volunteer community.
* Mature Wikipedia editions have now a lot of articles. Many
volunteers don't have a lot to write.
* Mature Wikipedia editions have now complex social structures.
Complex social structures require social institutions.
* The main features of our software are 10 years old.
* During the last ten years Internet has changed.

However:
* Organizationally, we are focused on Internet just during fundraising.
* Volunteer community is valued just when it's been realized that
there are some problems.
* Except media (i.e. Wikimedia Commons), we lack of any systemic work
on improving content. (I don't count particular initiatives, like
cooperation between Wikipedia in X language and University in X
country.)
* Wikiversity, the last started Wikimedia project is old four and half years.
* Besides top bodies (Board, ArbComs), we don't have
volunteer/community institutions.
* New features are limited on those of limited importance.
* We are still living in 2005 or so.

To fix it, logically, we need:
* While offline and real-life activities are very important, we need
to be more focused on Internet. There are many options and many
approaches for that. I'll mention just two within one approach:
editing Wikimedia projects from Facebook and WoW would bring some
editors.
* Motivating volunteers to edit (not to participate in Wikimania or
join chapters) -- would help. Let's say, a plaque signed by Jimmy for
hard work would help. But, there are much more intelligent ways for
motivating volunteers without money and without competition.
* Organized work with universities and similar -- organized by WMF and
chapters -- would help in improving quality.
* We have a number of ideas here [1], but none of them has become a
Wikimedia project. I don't think that all of the proposals are bad.
* We need volunteer/community institutions. There are tons of
frustrations because there are no ways to solve many problems.
* We need, for example, WYSIWYG editor. Some more important features,
too. And it is not expensive.
* In the world where the funniest thing is to send an email, editing
wiki sounds really cool. In the world of virtual worlds, causal games
and watching what your friend from childhood is doing -- there is a
thin edge between editing Wikipedia and masochism. We need to provide
more fun.

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Project_proposals

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On 3/28/11 5:20 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> There's a theory that doing something like editing a free online
> encyclopedia is a niche activity, with a finite amount of people who will
> ever be willing to participate. If we accept this theory, it makes the very
> strong focus on increased participation look rather silly.

So we should just be satisfied with our Pokemon articles and leave it at
that?

I for one would like to one day see a Wikipedia that isn't obviously
written by people like us, i.e. white male American geeks. Maybe it
would include better articles on children's literature, cooking,
hip-hop, knitting, sharia law, wine, and African dance. Maybe it would
have more featured articles on books than video games. Maybe it's
article on sexism would be about more than just the Men's Rights
Movement. Maybe it would include statistics from places like Brazil and
Mozambique instead of just the United States and Texas.

Now that I think about it, I believe it would actually be a pretty
awesome website. Too bad we'll never let that happen.

Ryan Kaldari

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:56 AM, Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org>wrote:

> On 3/28/11 5:20 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> > There's a theory that doing something like editing a free online
> > encyclopedia is a niche activity, with a finite amount of people who will
> > ever be willing to participate. If we accept this theory, it makes the
> very
> > strong focus on increased participation look rather silly.
>


> Maybe it would include better articles on...hip-hop...
>
Ryan Kaldari
>
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>

I'm not a fan of either, but our coverage of hip-hop is strikingly more
evolved than American country music. Which says something about that part
of our userbase...

--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 7:04 PM, Sarah <slimvirgin@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10, Jan-Bart de Vreede <janbart@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> It seems that our natural reaction is to immediately question the numbers and the underlying studies. We are Wikimedians and will not rest until we are sure that we are looking at 100% accurate numbers.
>>
>> We could also look at this another way. Looking around me and talking to people about Wikipedia (and sometimes the other projects) I hear a lot of stories which demonstrate our inability to welcome everyone and motivate them to become regular contributors. The data strongly suggests the same thing. Instead of doubting the numbers, lets just assume that we are not doing well enough in this department.
>
> Similarly, regular editors will tell you there's a serious problem of
> established editors leaving, because the quality of editing is still
> too low. The problem with the survey is that it highlights the need to
> attract new editors, based on some doubtful figures, without
> addressing that experienced editors are becoming disillusioned.
>
> Sarah

The survey does highlight the need to retain current editors, as well
as new editors who do join; if you look at the graphs that are posted,
they highlight issues of retention (if someone joins, do they stick
around over the long term? is the number of active editors growing or
shrinking?) and retention was certainly a part of our board
discussions. I don't think that we can or should focus just on
recruiting new editors or just on helping out the ones we've got: it
should be both. As Sue said in her letter, "I believe we need to make
editing fun again for everybody: both new editors and experienced
editors." Things like making MediaWiki easier to use, or making our
social processes less of a pain in the neck, will arguably help
everyone -- it's not an either/or issue, or a zero-sum game. And if
there are things you can think of that would specifically help support
our most active and core editors and project leaders, then please post
those ideas too. (You might find the graphs from other languages
interesting -- what is it about Russian?![1]).

Like everyone else I want perfect data, and like everyone else I tend
to be skeptical, and especially skeptical about research (I help
people differentiate between good and bad scientific research for a
living, and I've read a ton of good, bad, and mediocre Wikipedia
research). Like everyone, I want answers about who we're really
measuring (and where they come from, and why they came, and why they
stuck around). I want to know what the indicators are of a healthy
community, how we might measure that, and what things we might do to
encourage it. I suspect there is a grain of truth in many theories
(yes, the low-hanging fruit has been picked in the big languages, yes
people do take wikibreaks) and I want to see good ideas for accounting
for such things, and also for figuring out what else is going on as
well. But I also strongly agree with Jan-Bart: it's important to
remember that we simply have a lot of work to do. These lines are
pretty stark -- and even if imperfectly, they plot a trend which is
clear: "non-vandal newbies are the ones leaving," as the study authors
wrote.

And as for recruiting new participants, remember also that these
trends are occurring while simultaneously Wikipedia's *readership* has
skyrocketed -- we have millions more readers of the English Wikipedia
today than we did in early 2007, yet fewer active editors in absolute
numbers[2]. Why aren't people clicking the edit button? And if they
do, why aren't they becoming Wikipedians? These and many other
questions need to be answered.

The Wikimedia projects have set a model for the encyclopedia industry,
the internet, and the world. We, the members of these project
communities, have done something utterly revolutionary in ten short
years, and we are not just market leaders but also thought leaders.
But we don't actually know what the rest of the story looks like. Are
the projects self-sustaining? If so, for how long? Do we need to do
different things than we have been to maintain big language editions,
or get small language editions up to speed? Do we really have a
successful collaborative project -- is our quality good enough, do
processes work, do our current governance structures serve the mission
well enough? Should we be worried that everywhere you turn there are
people who use Wikipedia but don't edit it, or don't know that it's
editable, or tried to edit but felt they couldn't continue for one
reason or another? These are the questions that keep me up at night,
and I think the answers are at least in part tied to the numbers that
you see in the editing trends study.

I know these aren't by any means new questions, and many, many people
have done amazing work. The Foundation can hopefully help matters by
having the money & resources to do things like researching trends and
collecting the best ideas for making our projects better, and then
acting on them. But we cannot, and should not, do it alone.

-- phoebe (wmf board of trustees)

1. http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study/Results/Retention_Rates
2. http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia.org_audience_trend.jpg,
http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaEN.htm

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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 2:26 AM, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Ryan Kaldari wrote:
> > On 3/28/11 5:20 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> >> There's a theory that doing something like editing a free online
> >> encyclopedia is a niche activity, with a finite amount of people who
> will
> >> ever be willing to participate. If we accept this theory, it makes the
> very
> >> strong focus on increased participation look rather silly.
> >
> > So we should just be satisfied with our Pokemon articles and leave it at
> > that?
> >
> > I for one would like to one day see a Wikipedia that isn't obviously
> > written by people like us, i.e. white male American geeks. Maybe it
> > would include better articles on children's literature, cooking,
> > hip-hop, knitting, sharia law, wine, and African dance. Maybe it would
> > have more featured articles on books than video games. Maybe it's
> > article on sexism would be about more than just the Men's Rights
> > Movement. Maybe it would include statistics from places like Brazil and
> > Mozambique instead of just the United States and Texas.
> >
> > Now that I think about it, I believe it would actually be a pretty
> > awesome website. Too bad we'll never let that happen.
>
> I wonder, has any other part of the Internet followed this seemingly
> mythical trend that the Wikimedia Foundation is putting forward, where
> increased participation magically leads to better content?
>
> When I look around to other parts of the Internet with high levels of
> participation and very low barriers to entry, I don't hear much signal in
> the noise. For examples, look at the content of YouTube comments, Facebook
> Wall posts and comments, tweets, etc. Increased participation might build a
> bigger "movement," but a niche activity is still a niche activity, no
> matter
> how many strategic plans, consultants, and buzzwords are thrown at it.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
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I absolutely agree with MZMcBride.

Wikimedia content is build by millions of edits, uploads, and other
contributions by millions of people around the world. To become a truly
established user, however, is entirely different. It takes a certain
personality to participate an remain a long-term contributor. There is no
amount of software upgrades/extensions/bugs/gadgets or
policies/discussions/projects/surveys/mailing lists that will change that.
Our content will always be built upon those with the goal in mind, always
insurmountable, of any Wikimedia project.

--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Quote:Many volunteers don't have a lot to write.
This sounds like an opinion, not like a fact. Even on English wikipedia, we
still have about two hundred thousand plant species to describe, and
millions of animal species. And then I'm not talking about fungi and other
kingdoms

I do agree with some of your remarks about motivation. One way to motivate
people might be to provide more information on the process that google maps
uses to locate wikipedia artciles to its maps. It's much nicer if lots of
people actually read 'your' article.

Teun Spaans

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM, Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com> wrote:

> Let's start with a couple of simple facts:
> * Our main product is Wikipedia.
> * Wikipedia has been built on Internet.
> * Wikipedia has been built by volunteer community.
> * Mature Wikipedia editions have now a lot of articles. Many
> volunteers don't have a lot to write.
> * Mature Wikipedia editions have now complex social structures.
> Complex social structures require social institutions.
> * The main features of our software are 10 years old.
> * During the last ten years Internet has changed.
>
> However:
> * Organizationally, we are focused on Internet just during fundraising.
> * Volunteer community is valued just when it's been realized that
> there are some problems.
> * Except media (i.e. Wikimedia Commons), we lack of any systemic work
> on improving content. (I don't count particular initiatives, like
> cooperation between Wikipedia in X language and University in X
> country.)
> * Wikiversity, the last started Wikimedia project is old four and half
> years.
> * Besides top bodies (Board, ArbComs), we don't have
> volunteer/community institutions.
> * New features are limited on those of limited importance.
> * We are still living in 2005 or so.
>
> To fix it, logically, we need:
> * While offline and real-life activities are very important, we need
> to be more focused on Internet. There are many options and many
> approaches for that. I'll mention just two within one approach:
> editing Wikimedia projects from Facebook and WoW would bring some
> editors.
> * Motivating volunteers to edit (not to participate in Wikimania or
> join chapters) -- would help. Let's say, a plaque signed by Jimmy for
> hard work would help. But, there are much more intelligent ways for
> motivating volunteers without money and without competition.
> * Organized work with universities and similar -- organized by WMF and
> chapters -- would help in improving quality.
> * We have a number of ideas here [1], but none of them has become a
> Wikimedia project. I don't think that all of the proposals are bad.
> * We need volunteer/community institutions. There are tons of
> frustrations because there are no ways to solve many problems.
> * We need, for example, WYSIWYG editor. Some more important features,
> too. And it is not expensive.
> * In the world where the funniest thing is to send an email, editing
> wiki sounds really cool. In the world of virtual worlds, causal games
> and watching what your friend from childhood is doing -- there is a
> thin edge between editing Wikipedia and masochism. We need to provide
> more fun.
>
> [1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Project_proposals
>
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Re: Message to community about community decline [ In reply to ]
Ryan Kaldari wrote:
> On 3/28/11 5:20 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
>> There's a theory that doing something like editing a free online
>> encyclopedia is a niche activity, with a finite amount of people who will
>> ever be willing to participate. If we accept this theory, it makes the very
>> strong focus on increased participation look rather silly.
>
> So we should just be satisfied with our Pokemon articles and leave it at
> that?
>
> I for one would like to one day see a Wikipedia that isn't obviously
> written by people like us, i.e. white male American geeks. Maybe it
> would include better articles on children's literature, cooking,
> hip-hop, knitting, sharia law, wine, and African dance. Maybe it would
> have more featured articles on books than video games. Maybe it's
> article on sexism would be about more than just the Men's Rights
> Movement. Maybe it would include statistics from places like Brazil and
> Mozambique instead of just the United States and Texas.
>
> Now that I think about it, I believe it would actually be a pretty
> awesome website. Too bad we'll never let that happen.

I wonder, has any other part of the Internet followed this seemingly
mythical trend that the Wikimedia Foundation is putting forward, where
increased participation magically leads to better content?

When I look around to other parts of the Internet with high levels of
participation and very low barriers to entry, I don't hear much signal in
the noise. For examples, look at the content of YouTube comments, Facebook
Wall posts and comments, tweets, etc. Increased participation might build a
bigger "movement," but a niche activity is still a niche activity, no matter
how many strategic plans, consultants, and buzzwords are thrown at it.

MZMcBride



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