Thanks for bringing this topic up on the list. True, we do seek random
users from the Wikipedia community for our studies. But, like phoebe
mentioned, we usually expect a particular trait/quality in the users.
Generally, most studies are aimed at "experienced editors": those who have
been along for a while, who understand wikipedia policies and who make
significant contributions to any article/set of articles over a period of
It would be great if there were some mechanism to invite editors to
participate in our studies without giving an image of us being "spammers"
or "vandals". After all, all we need is a sizeable number of participants
out of millions of editors, which would not only make our research
credible, but also worth mentioning while contemplating future directions
for any Wiki based system.
On Nov 19 2008, phoebe ayers wrote:
On Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 11:54 AM, Piotr Konieczny
phoebe ayers wrote:
* The researcher has done the standard things
(posted on the mailing
list, on the village pump) and hasn't gotten any results; or has
semi-randomly posted on people's talk pages, potentially getting a
warning about spamming in the process
As a result:
* many of the same people (i.e. very visible contributors) keep
getting asked to participate in different studies; or
* the researcher is left with a self-selected group of people from the
mailing lists or other places, which may in no way represent 'the
community' (my hypothesis is that we have many small communities,
working under the greater umbrella of Wikipedia); and who may be
people who are particularly outspoken or disgruntled; or
There is an interesting tool:
If anybody wants a truly random sample of Wikipedia users, that's a good
way to do it.
Is asking for a survey spamming? That's a good question. If we could
raise it on a community page and get a consensus that it is not, than we
could potentially create a bot that could be fed a survey and would
deliver it to x random users via the above page.
This seems like an interesting idea for random studies.
Many of the studies I have encountered are looking for "some
experienced wikipedians" to participate, and that seems like a much
harder thing to pull off. The chances of getting an "experienced" user
who is willing to talk to you out of the 8 million registered accounts
on en:wp seems low if you go about it by trying to randomly poll
users. I think a lot of researchers want people who are 'experienced'
by some metric so they can give informed feedback on processes,
policies, social dynamics, interfaces... but it's also pretty common
that most contributors focus in on only a few areas. So how to get
experienced people who can speak to the questions you are interested
in, particularly if you're not a wikipedian yourself?