Steven Walling <steven.walling@...> writes: >
> On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM, Erik Moeller <erik <at> wikimedia.org>
> > On Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM, Steven Walling <swalling <at>
wikimedia.org> > > wrote:
> > > On July 11th at the next WMF Metrics & Activities meeting, myself, Erik
> > > MÃ¶ller, Howie Fung, Maryana Pinchuk, and Dario Taraborelli are going to
> > > deliver a short update on the state of Wikimedia editor communities. (For
> > > those not familiar:
> > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Metrics_and_activities_meetings)
> > This presentation will be at the meeting in 30 minutes. Don't worry if
> > you're interested but can't make it; the meeting will be recorded.
> The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALT8_Toyc0g now.
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Thanks for posting the video. My thoughts below went longer than I expected,
so I'll start with a tl;dr.
TL;DR: more is not always better in encyclopedia-building; please include
more analysis of the old-timers in your stats; the drama issues could
probably use a little bit of attention; find and help the community engage
the editors who interface with newbies; Wikiproject Med has tried to work on
recruiting scientists - a good idea; on curation and quality control, we
could use edit metadata; and please slow down and show you're actually
listening when it comes to Visual Editor.
1. Mixing up the gender and geographical distribution is a lofty and
laudable goal, but you may want to be a little careful of neglecting your
base. I also agree with a later comment that a high male ratio could
negatively affect the discussion process, which tends to be quite "testy" in
a few different ways, so more women could have beneficial side effects.
However, there are also risks when you change Wikipedia's population: for
example, if editing became mainstream in America Wikipedia's
secular-humanist/rational slant could be significantly eroded. I don't think
it is a big risk but it's something to keep in mind.
2. I was disappointed to hear that the analysis of active editors focused on
editors with 5+ edits/month. I'd like to see a stratified breakdown and it
seems like it wouldn't be hard to do. This plays into the caution above that
not much attention is paid to the long-term regulars, although the presenter
alluded to earlier research showing their staying power.
I've been following this list for maybe a month or two now and I'm a little
surprised that little to none of the regular wiki drama seems to leak out
and that the metrics made no mention of the drama. I'm sort of glad that
there is little drama in this world, but I hope it's not ignorance. For
example, the English wiki has been a bit more dramatic lately with some
high-profile admin and editor resignations leaving and concerns about unfair
processes (e.g., SMcCandlish). Some of it is just interpersonal and maybe
it's not different than usual, but it would be nice to have more than
anecdotal observations. There's also reoccurring controversies about
civility enforcement (I rarely bother to weigh in, but I believe in
enforcing civility). I think there might be a role for the Foundation in
researching these types of issues and streamlining some of the tools.
3. I agree that user experience is poor and I agree with all 5 points listed
in the reasons for stagnation. Poor social interaction is particularly
serious. Maybe there is something being done that I'm unaware of but as a
first start I would try to identify the editors who have a lot interaction
with new users and try to communicate with them. I'm not one of those users;
in the rare case that I see a promising new editor in my areas I welcome,
but I have never left a template without adding a short personal note
afterwards (the welcome template of Twinkle has no field for an optional
message, so it takes a little extra work). However, just today I noticed
that a newbie I mentored a little and who made significant improvements to
the PPACA (Obamacare) got hit by speedy image deletion templates with scary
"you may be blocked" bolded messages and no personal touch, even though the
images may well have been just fine. The templater probably templates a lot
of people and could use some mentoring, although how to approach that in a
polite manner is its own challenge (I gave him my 2 cents). This is also an
area where the community could develop yet more rules (oh fun!) to rein in
those who interface with new users.
4. On campaigns and editathons, I know the WikiProject Medicine, mainly
through Doc James, had been trying to engage with biomedical scientists and
doctors. This type of outreach is particularly nice because these are
exactly the type of smart and mature people you'd like to see building an
encyclopedia. We've also seen professors having their students edit medical
and biology articles, which can be a headache for regulars but probably
5. Improving workflow and moving past talkpages is fine and dandy, but Erik
mentioned curation from mobile devices, so I'll plug (again) an old idea
I've floated now and again: edits could have metadata which shows how many
people glanced at a particular edit (with an option to actually sign off on
it), and further metadata noting whether references were added and if so
were they fact-checked. There's a lot more to building a good encyclopedia
than more users, and in fact in some cases more cooks in the kitchen just
makes things harder.
6. When I did limited testing of visual editor again about an hour ago it
seemed OK, with a few improvements since I'd tried before IIRC. I'm
optimistic about Visual Editor and I generally think it looks clean and
professional and appears highly-functional, so some congratulations are in
order. However, I don't think the deployment decisions should be delegated
to someone very close to the development process, which is what it sounds
like is happening.
With that said, I think you should err on the side of caution and I strongly
urge you to be very flexible in scheduling the full rollout (taking the
comments by Dragons flight at
Wikipedia:VP/T#Amended_VisualEditor_deployment_schedule that the "list of
known bugs ought to be very short at each phase of deployment" to heart; see
bugs at https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/buglist.cgi?product=VisualEditor&
This has already caused a lot of strain with the regulars on the English
Wikipedia, and it is not clear that the developers are reviewing and
compiling all the feedback which has been made at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:VE/F.
One concern I have is how edit
conflicts are handled, since they are easily resolved by copying/pasting the
code in the current system.
While you can cite "CONEXCEPT" over and over, if you push people too hard
and cause too much disruption they may just quit, and if enough regulars
quit, that could lead to a cascading effect which the Foundation may not
even notice before its gone pretty far. But I think the bigger problem is
damaging the already tenuous goodwill between the groups.
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