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Message to community about community decline

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Ting Chen
Sun, 27 Mar 2011 20:18:39

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: [...]


Sarah
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 00:27:12

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


Stephanie Daugherty
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 01:10:03

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.


Jon Davis
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 01:17:06

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


Sarah
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 03:06:27

On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 19:17, Jon Davis [...] 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


Stephanie Daugherty
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 03:20:46

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.


Sarah
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 03:38:03

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


Jan-Bart de Vreede
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 17:10:58

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


Nathan
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 17:35:46

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


Fred Bauder
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 19:08:22

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


????
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 19:10:08

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


Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 22:17:38

Best post I have read in a long time.


Michael Snow
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 22:32:19

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


Virgilio A. P. Machado <vam@fct.unl.pt>
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 23:03:48

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.


MZMcBride
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 00:20:42

[On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10],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.


Sarah
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 02:04:52

On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10, Jan-Bart de Vreede [...] 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


Sarah
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 02:19:40

On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 18:20, MZMcBride [...] 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


Marc Riddell
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 02:40:37

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


Milos Rancic
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 04:57:19

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


Ryan Kaldari
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 05:56:07

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


Keegan Peterzell
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 06:16:36

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


phoebe ayers
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 06:17:01

On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 7:04 PM, Sarah [...] wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10, Jan-Bart de Vreede [...] 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


MZMcBride
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 07:26:04 (This post does not seem to be in the right time sequence on the list)

[On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 05:56], 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


Keegan Peterzell
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 06:38:17

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 2:26 AM, MZMcBride [...] wrote:
> 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

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


teun spaans
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 07:14:48

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM, Milos Rancic [...] wrote:
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


Keegan Peterzell
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 07:28:54

That is a good point, Teun, and work between Wikispecies and Wikipedia has done more to fill taxonomy than would anywhere near exist. However, participation and growth is not purely content creation and expansion. The content is most important, but it is impossible to do so forever on the English Wikipedia in isolation. If we want to focus on how to "get a Wikipedian", it is my firm belief that we cannot. The focus, in my meager opinion, is not on instructions, wizards, or templates. The solution is what we want to acheive: knowledge. This comes from helping new users and appreciating that our content is ridiculously misunderstood for the fifth most popular website in the world.

--
~Keegan


Kirill Lokshin
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:15:09

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:57 AM, Milos Rancic [...] wrote:
> * We need volunteer/community institutions. There are tons of frustrations because there are no ways to solve many problems.

Indeed. Unfortunately, the various groups within the community that might stand to lose authority/influence/etc. if such institutions were created will adamantly oppose having them, for fairly obvious reasons. I don't foresee anything significant developing in this area -- at least on en.wiki, and likely on the other projects of a comparable size -- without some level of WMF participation.

Kirill


Milos Rancic
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:18:55

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 09:14, teun spaans [...] wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM, Milos Rancic [...] wrote:
> 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

"Many" means "many", not "all"; "don't have a lot" means "don't have a lot", not "nothing". That includes the most of those who are not experts, but amateurs with good general knowledge and ability to find sources. It is one thing when you are able to write about some event from the history and completely other when you have to write about biological species.

Regarding to that and in favor of specific part of your position, community decline on German Wikipedia *before* English Wikipedia. However, articles on English Wikipedia usually have more information, as well as there are more articles on English Wikipedia. (But, it is likely that articles on German Wikipedia are better written.) So, simple answer "there is nothing more to write" is not correct.

But, "many people don't have a lot to write" is more precise [than "nothing more to write"].

Take my example... I used to relax by writing articles about sub-Antarctic islands on English Wikipedia. I usually wrote or updated article with a couple of sources and one or two NOAA photos. I stopped doing that when I realized that sources about islands are more and more obscure. It was not relaxing anymore, it became a real research. So, I have to find new way for useful relaxation. And the choice after that was not Wikipedia.

> 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.

We could start Meta or Strategy article with the list of ideas for motivation.


teun spaans
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:35:52

Hi Keegan,

Thank you for starting with a compliment! If your intention is to stress the point that we wikipedia is also a community, and not just a bunch of article writers, I agree. I am not sure what you mean with "our content is ridiculously misunderstood for the fifth most popular website in the world."

The study gives a lot of facts. I am glad a lot of trends have been discovered. I am glad that the problem has not been shoved under the carpet. It does not go out, however and tell the why. I know why i have diminished my contributions - I only occasionally write articles nowadays - but what we need to address these questions is facts and analysis on the whole "lifecycle" of a wikipedian:
- what made people try to contribute to wp in the first place?
- what barriers did people encounter making them give up after their first, or even before their first attempt?
- what made people tick?
- why do people stop after they have been active for months or years?
- have their goals been reached?
- are there any typical volunteer patterns, for example the super nova who explodes with hundreds and thousands of articles and then stop, the slow but steady contributor who writes one article a week, the bot operator who wrote about a hundred articles and then decided to use bots instead? The manager who puts more energy in project coordination then in actual writing? The bureaucrat?
- What makes people stop after they have been long time volunteers?
- Have their ever been any surveys (we have their email addresses) on why volunteers left wp after contributing a long time?
There will be 'leakage' over all phases of the aforementioned lifecycle, but we can probably concentrate on just a few.


teun spaans
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:38:28

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM, Milos Rancic [...] wrote:
> * 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

Milos,

Fully agree with your remark about the WYSIWYG editor!


Nikola Smolenski
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 08:40:21

On 03/29/2011 09:14 AM, teun spaans wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM, Milos Rancic [...] wrote:
> 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

On of the perennial projects of Wikimedia Serbia is to try to reach out to various amateur organizations and show them how they could add to Wikipedia in their field. Examples include amateur astronomers, model railway collectors, Esperantists, birdwatchers...

> 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.

Perhaps something as simple as prominently displaying the number of article views would be very encouraging to contributors? (Although, I shudder to imagine the edit wars it could spawn...)


Yann Forget
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 10:43 AM

Unreadable message. From the next message, this is what it seemed to be:

On 2011/3/28 [at 19:10], ???? [...] wrote:
> 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.

Hello,

We are very far from that. All the issue is that of notability.

If we apply the current criteria, which is mainly applied on Western subjects, to other parts of the world, we could have 10 times more articles (villages and towns, local customs and food, etc.).

Regards,

Yann


Theo10011
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 09:40:24

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 10:43 AM, Yann Forget [...] wrote:
> On 2011/3/28 [at 19:10], ???? [...] wrote:
> > 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.

> Hello,

> We are very far from that. All the issue is that of notability.

> If we apply the current criteria, which is mainly applied on Western subjects, to other parts of the world, we could have 10 times more articles (villages and towns, local customs and food, etc.).

> Regards,

> Yann

I see two different points here, I believe what we need to focus more on is editor-retention rather than editor-recruitment. We seem to be looking at the situation with only cold, hard numbers.

The fact that the majority of editors are white male geeks as Kaldari said, is because they have the easiest access and time available to edit. There are far too many reasons the other groups are not at the same level of participation- technological, cultural, social, busy schedules, so on. We can not address most of them, we can inform a reader that they can edit what they read, but we can't force them to edit. It is beyond our reach to consider recruiting people who are not passionate about contributing.

The second issue as I see it, we might not be approaching the sum of all human knowledge but we're running out of what the core non/semi-professional community can contribute. We are at over 3.5 million articles (go Pokemon) on English wikipedia, we surpassed all other encyclopedias a long time ago. We just can't keep adding articles at the same speed as we use to, we have to accept that and actively focus on improving what we already have. New editors might not be the magic pill that we need here, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to editing, and they might just leave like some experienced editors.

Theo


Nikola Smolenski
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 10:04:53

On 03/29/2011 11:40 AM, Theo10011 wrote:
> The second issue as I see it, we might not be approaching the sum of all human knowledge but we're running out of what the core non/semi-professional community can contribute. We are at over 3.5 million articles (go Pokemon)

I strongly disagree. I see thousands of articles I could write outside of my profession if only I would have time and inclination. And I see missing articles even in well-covered topics like programming.


GoEthe.wiki
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 10:08:29

And even if that was true for the English Wikipedia, it certainly is not for other large Wikipedias, which seem to have the same trend, according to the study.


Milos Rancic
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 11:11:49

No, we are not approaching "sum of the human knowledge".

But, we are approaching some limits.

Let me explain it through one simple example.

Let's say that there is Wikipedia in X language with just one editor. That editor is expert in, let's say, medieval history and has passion toward chess. That person would spend years in: (1) writing basic articles -- although he is not astronomer, he knows that it is important to have articles like "Sun", "Earth", "Jupiter" etc.; (2) writing articles in medieval history; (3) writing articles about chess; (4) and, finally, writing articles about surrounding areas of medieval history and chess (let's say, ancient history and go).

If that person didn't stop because of lack of time or lack of satisfaction, it is reasonably to expect that he will at some point come to the situation where all articles are written according to his level of knowledge. (That's the ideal situation, but it also assumes the ideal systematization of the work on articles, which is not likely, too.)

We are witnessing similar trend on much larger scale. For example, if I want to write now something about one of the Anatolian languages, I have to spend today much more time than I had to while those articles didn't exist. Instead of using one or two legitimate sources, I have to check every fact and every source inside of the existing articles. And that's not beyond limits of my knowledge, but beyond limits of my willingness to spend in that way my free time. (Besides the fact that there are 2/3 chances to find a bureaucratic moron and spend the rest of the day in asking myself why I started to edit Wikipedia *again*.) Yes, I will spend more time in writing articles from the area of my expertise, but Anatolian languages don't belong there. And thanks to the fact that there are no Wikipedians who are experts in Anatolian languages and know English, we will have informative, but far from satisfactory articles (three most important articles haven't been significantly changed for two or three years: Anatolian languages [1], Hittite language [2] and Luwian language [3]).

So, yes, we are around some of the limits. It is, of course, far from any sum of knowledge, but close to our capacities. And those capacities are comparable among various Wikipedia editions as English is the language with the most of primary and secondary speakers and all of other languages have less (primary + secondary) speakers than it.

The situation "many people don't have a lot to write" also creates decline. Yes, there are many people who are able to write a lot, but even if 30% of "people" decrease their activity for 50%, it is 15% of decline. (Numbers are not so simple, of course, but we see inside of them decline in almost every aspect.) Visible effects are similar and connected to the situation "we wrote everything". BTW, if we wrote everything, we wouldn't have any activity. If there is no Hungarian who knows something which doesn't exist on Hungarian Wikipedia -- there wouldn't be activity on Hungarian Wikipedia. And so on.

And a note about translation: No, I wouldn't translate article about Hittite language from English Wikipedia. The article is not so good. And there are a *lot* of such articles in English Wikipedia: those which are not worthy of translation. So, the argument "But, they could translate articles from English Wikipedia!" isn't always true. Besides the fact that I've started to see more and more garbage-articles at English Wikipedia, as there are not enough editors to keep systemic consistency.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatolian_languages
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hittite_language
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luwian_language


Nikola Smolenski
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 12:03:50

On 03/29/2011 01:11 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
> Let's say that there is Wikipedia in X language with just one editor. That editor is expert in, let's say, medieval history and has passion toward chess. That person would spend years in: (1) writing basic articles -- although he is not astronomer, he knows that it is important to have articles like "Sun", "Earth", "Jupiter" etc.; (2) writing articles in medieval history; (3) writing articles about chess; (4) and, finally, writing articles about surrounding areas of medieval history and chess (let's say, ancient history and go).

> If that person didn't stop because of lack of time or lack of satisfaction, it is reasonably to expect that he will at some point come to the situation where all articles are written according to his level of knowledge. (That's the ideal situation, but it also assumes

I don't fully agree, because this person could continue editing in this way:

  1. Read a book / watch a film
  2. Write an article about it
  3. Repeat

Or in this way:

  1. Buy a specialist encyclopedia or a biographical dictionary
  2. Write anew a biography of every person featured in it
  3. Repeat

The problem isn't that all the articles will be written according to his level of knowledge, but possibly that:

  1. All the articles that he was interested in and are at his level of knowledge he already wrote.
  2. All the unwritten articles that he is interested in writing are above his level of knowledge.
  3. All the unwritten articles that are below his level of knowledge he does not find interesting to write.

wiki-list
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 12:21:23

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 10:43 AM, Yann Forget [...] wrote:
> On 2011/3/28 [at 19:10], ???? [...] wrote:
> > 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.

> Hello,

> We are very far from that. All the issue is that of notability.

Should I have put a "snark" tag on the above?

> If we apply the current criteria, which is mainly applied on Western subjects, to other parts of the world, we could have 10 times more articles (villages and towns, local customs and food, etc.).

If I look at the articles for villages in my area, they are mostly stubs and will pretty well always be so, as a lot of the interesting stuff is local history which is not available in main stream publications. Other than listing the pubs, the schools the bus timetable, and whether there is a Londis store, what else can be said about them? Well take this place:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Brington

the church in that place contains a whole book full of history. The Spenser monuments are some of the most important in the country. The pews have C14 - C16 carved poppyheads, the chancel contains the tombs of George Washington's grandfather, there is stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones ...

This place

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crick,_Northamptonshire

has a Romanesque font sat upon three Atlas figures, and is one of the most important such works in the UK. A few miles away is another nationally important Romanesque font:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Haddon

BTW that place also contains works by Pugin. And finally this place is chock full of works by Burne-Jones:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilsborough

Whilst much of it is recorded in Pevsner he is often wrong, and often doesn't mention things.


GoEthe.wiki
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 12:23:06

On 03/29/2011 01:11 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
> But, we are approaching some limits.

> Let me explain it through one simple example.

> Let's say that there is Wikipedia in X language with just one editor. That editor is expert in, let's say, medieval history and has passion toward chess. That person would spend years in: (1) writing basic articles -- although he is not astronomer, he knows that it is important to have articles like "Sun", "Earth", "Jupiter" etc.; (2) writing articles in medieval history; (3) writing articles about chess; (4) and, finally, writing articles about surrounding areas of medieval history and chess (let's say, ancient history and go).

> If that person didn't stop because of lack of time or lack of satisfaction, it is reasonably to expect that he will at some point come to the situation where all articles are written according to his level of knowledge. (That's the ideal situation, but it also assumes the ideal systematization of the work on articles, which is not likely, too.)

That's actually a good point.

How can we assess if editors are leaving because they reached the limit of *their *knowledge, or for other reasons?

Facebook, for example, has a rather annoying feature that if you try to shut down your account, it asks you why (and tries to guilt you into staying). Wikipedia does not allow you to shut down your account, but a similar (not so annoying, hopefully) feature could provide some more tangible data.

The absence of this data should not however ilude us to the fact that the editing interface is one of the major hurdles stopping people from contributing, followed closely by a lack of or aggressive feedback.

GoEThe


Milos Rancic
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 12:55:12

On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 14:03, Nikola Smolenski [...] wrote:
> The problem isn't that all the articles will be written according to his level of knowledge, but possibly that:

> 1. All the articles that he was interested in and are at his level of knowledge he already wrote.
> 2. All the unwritten articles that he is interested in writing are above his level of knowledge.
> 3. All the unwritten articles that are below his level of knowledge he does not find interesting to write.

Agreed. I simplified the reason. I would say that it is probably the most about the relation between required efforts and obtained satisfaction.

And as "absolute" amount of required efforts will just raise (needed knowledge for writing articles is just higher and higher), we need to think about "relative" amount of required efforts (making things more accessible) [and] about improving satisfaction.


Fred Bauder
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:16:45

[On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:21, wiki-list wrote:]
> If I look at the articles for villages in my area, they are mostly stubs and will pretty well always be so, as a lot of the interesting stuff is local history which is not available in main stream publications. Other than listing the pubs, the schools the bus timetable, and whether there is a Londis store, what else can be said about them? Well take this place:

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Brington

> the church in that place contains a whole book full of history. The Spenser monuments are some of the most important in the country. The pews have C14 - C16 carved poppyheads, the chancel contains the tombs of George Washington's grandfather, there is stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones ...

> This place

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crick,_Northamptonshire

> has a Romanesque font sat upon three Atlas figures, and is one of the most important such works in the UK. A few miles away is another nationally important Romanesque font:

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Haddon

> BTW that place also contains works by Pugin. And finally this place is chock full of works by Burne-Jones:

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilsborough

> Whilst much of it is recorded in Pevsner he is often wrong, and often doesn't mention things.

This

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Crestone,_Colorado

is the village I live in. Perhaps the rule have been bent a bit, but I don't really see that civilization has been harmed, by doing so. What is a reliable source varies with the context.

Fred


????
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 16:39:49

Well my own village has a 'History' but I wouldn't bank on half of it being true. Travelling around, one comes across many of the same stories, indeed they are repeated in a number of village histories on WP. There are countless Four Crosses attributed to a Jonathan Swift story, or some other man of letters, and how many medieval 'Rose' pubs used to be the "Red Rose" or the "White Rose" until the War of the Roses. So one has to take a lot of it with a pinch of salt, and you can't really rely on the books either cos they are repeating much of the same thing.

But anyway with the above caveat there is a whole load of stuff to be discovered and written about, but it mostly involves original research. And BTW if the information available on English villages is poor, you should witness the paucity that is France.


Fred Bauder
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 17:19:53

Ghost towns in the American West are much written about.

Fred


George Herbert
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:12:16

On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:16 PM, Keegan Peterzell [...] wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:56 AM, 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.

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

> 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...

We certainly have some significant gaps. For something started by internet geeks, our coverage of computer science is really quite weak (ok for "end users", but very spotty elsewhere). Our coverage of other engineering fields is often atrocious.

There's a lot more content to get to. The community behavior problems in the way of getting to content annoy me a lot of days.

--
-george william herbert


????
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:13:23

On 29/03/2011 18:19, Fred Bauder wrote:
> Ghost towns in the American West are much written about.

Indeed: its part of the mythology.


????
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:19:16

On 29/03/2011 03:04, Sarah wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 11:10, Jan-Bart de Vreede [...] 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.

That is the same with everywhere. There are countless websites where one once spent an inordinate amount of time, adding content day by day, but which slowly but surely one visited less and less until one day one realizes that one has been gone a year or more.


MZMcBride
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 19:31:12 (This post does not seem to be in the right time sequence on the list)

[On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 18:12] George Herbert wrote:
> There's a lot more content to get to. The community behavior problems in the way of getting to content annoy me a lot of days.

I don't understand this comment. Which community behavior problems stop you from contributing content?

MZMcBride


Fred Bauder
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 19:06:47

Point of view editors who attempt to control the content of articles to advance their cause.

Anything they put into the article is gospel.

Anything you put in has a poor source or is original research.

This is not a new problem.

Establishing a minor point is the work of days.

Fred


Yann Forget
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 19:26:32

I experienced the same as Fred, and I stopped working on French Wikipedia because of that.

Yann


Fred Bauder
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 20:26:01

Anonymous multiple accounts combined with a secret ballot will in a relatively short time put the POV pushers in control of the projects, the chapters, and the Foundation.

We're doomed!!!!

Fred


Pronoein
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 12:07:15

A reminder about motivation, purpose and money.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc


Yaroslav M. Blanter
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 16:00:35

[On Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 04:57, Milos Rancic wrote:]
> * 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.)

Actually, I believe we lack of any systemic work on improving content on Commons as well. For instance, I travel a lot and I have (and I could have done) pictures of obscure places (including some in Serbia) which are completely underrepresented on Commons. I have never been approached by anyone, nor suggested to report on some pages, in order to make some pictures of some specific environments I would likely visit soon. I suggested it myself a couple of times and the general reaction was that I should not bother.

Cheers
Yaroslav


Fred Bauder
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:44:09

Well, I'm no better than you, I nearly always forget my camera, but if you have time images nearly any village or major feature of the landscape is always welcome, even such places as Hooper... or things such as bear turds.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/wiki/Category:Hooper,_Colorado

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/wiki/File:BearApplePoop.JPG

Fred


Yaroslav M. Blanter
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:59:26

I know my way to Commons which is substantiated by my contribution, and when I have smth to upload, I eventually upload and even sometimes write an article to include the picture, but I would not call it a systemic work. For me, an example of systemic activity would be the message on a designated page that the community YYY or a mosque ZZZ or a mountain WWW do not have any illustrations available on Commons, meeting a user who is going to travel to XXX or ZZZ or WWW but can not really look through all the Commons categories (when they exist anyway). At best this activity should be automated (even though I do not know how it can look like).

Cheers
Yaroslav


Fred Bauder
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 18:11:15

So coded, images needed, like a red link.

Fred


Ray Saintonge
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 19:54:32

On 03/29/11 8:16 AM, Fred Bauder wrote:
> This

> https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Crestone,_Colorado

> is the village I live in. Perhaps the rule have been bent a bit, but I don't really see that civilization has been harmed, by doing so. What is a reliable source varies with the context.

And it's still missing a pronunciation. My instinct suggests that it should rhyme with "bone", but my experience questions my instincts.

It is very difficult for someone that is rule-bound to exercise the judgement necessary to adapt reliability to circumstance. There is always the lurking fear that a massive conspiracy is afoot to distort the image of a village of 73 souls.

Ec


Ray Saintonge
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 20:01:22

On 03/29/11 11:13 AM, ???? wrote:
> On 29/03/2011 18:19, Fred Bauder wrote:
>> Ghost towns in the American West are much written about. > Indeed: its part of the mythology.

Their inhabitants continue to be consulted.

Ec


Fred Bauder
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 20:15:01

Indeed, I myself have been invited to a recording studio to transmit oral history about Crestone. I told they I might be more useful if they asked about Wikipedia...

By the way Palestine, Texas rhymes with teen, not tine.

Fred


Ray Saintonge
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 20:22:34

On 03/29/11 1:43 AM, Yann Forget wrote:
> [On] 2011/3/28 [at 19:10], ???? [...] wrote:
>> Ah there is the reason, the sum of all human knowledge is approaching completion. Well done to all.

> We are very far from that. All the issue is that of notability.

> If we apply the current criteria, which is mainly applied on Western subjects, to other parts of the world, we could have 10 times more articles (villages and towns, local customs and food, etc.).

By way of a reality check I just looked at the Spanish "Enciclopedia Universal Illustrada", Vol. 51 published in 1926. This volume includes the not uncommon Spanish name "Reyes". It contains 25 biographical articles with that simple surname. (I didn't look at the various compounds so frequently found in Spanish.) Of these 25, Mexican author Alfonso Reyes has an article in both en- and es-wp. Mexican general Bernardo Reyes appears only in en-wp. I saw no trace of the other 23 in either project.

Ec


The Cunctator
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 21:01:51

A key problem is that it's difficult to find people who understand how Wikipedia works but also want to disrupt the status quo. Most currently active Wikipedians, pretty much by definition, like how Wikipedia works right now. Even if they are concerned in theory about overall community decline, the system *works for them*.

Changes to the system that would restore openness would probably make a significant proportion of the existing active editor base less satisfied. Right now, most Wikipedia editors enjoy having copyright paranoia, wikilawyering, arguing about "notability" and "reliability", etc. etc.

Also, people's influence is, in some sense, a factor of how large the editor base is. The smaller the editor base, the more your individual contributions count.

Instead of just asking Wikipedia editors for advice, I'd go to people who run and/or participate in MMORPGs, or people who have studied their social dynamics, like Cory Doctorow and Raph Koster (http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/01/taxonomy-of-social-m.html).

That said, I know that the active Wikipedia editors really are awesome and great people and are also REALLY good at collaborative editing. So maybe there should be a wiki-effort in the Wikimedia space on online communities and incentives and the such. Treat this problem as an editing challenge.


????
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 21:27:02

On 30/03/2011 18:44, Fred Bauder wrote:
> Well, I'm no better than you, I nearly always forget my camera, but if you have time images nearly any village or major feature of the landscape is always welcome, even such places as Hooper... or things such as bear turds.

Well if you leave the camera behind:

http://www.phizz.demon.co.uk/misc/centre_france.jpg
http://www.phizz.demon.co.uk/misc/tomb004.jpg

that is a problem.


The Mono
Thu, 31 Mar 2011 03:45:01

On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 1:18 PM, 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.

The problem is simple. Our top contributors leave. Because the way things work makes it simply intolerable.

  • 25%* of all respondents [in a survey of contributors] said they stopped contributing because
  • "Some editors made Wikipedia a difficult place to work"*

George Herbert
Thu, 31 Mar 2011 03:53:29

It's somewhat more complex than that.

Some respondents were banned or encouraged to go do something else.

Some were working on good stuff, and were driven away in frustration by things that should not have happened.

The former we want gone. They may be editing content, but they're doing harm to the rest of the community as well. The latter, we do not want gone, and to the extent the situation is driving them away (and driving away new editors who might start editing actively) we're in trouble.

--
-george william herbert