Neat project idea, James!
You can ask for volunteers to share their watchlists, but I don't know
how you get a representative sample. But I think it's worth trying
since no one has done it as far as I know. And then you just clearly
describe your sample as volunteer selected and do some descriptive
statistics on it and show how those users compare to known Wikipedia
The database will tell you how many people are watching a page, if it's
more than 30. You could compare that to the number of editors of the
page.... Well, it's a start.
For what it's worth, I think my watchlisting behavior changed when I
switched from the default mode of showing just the last edit for each
article to the mode that shows all edits. Stuff that changes too often
got unwatched fast. :-) So if you do get volunteers, I'd collect
watchlist settings they use.
By the way, I wonder if the recent UI changes (moving from the word
"watch" to the star icon for watching a page) may have affected things
at all. A mundane but possibly non-trivial factor....
Good luck with it!
On 7/1/10 1:41 PM, James Howison wrote:
I'm working on a study for which I'd like to know more about editors'
watchlisting practices. Of course what I'd really like is to know who had what page
on their watchlist when, but I understand the obvious privacy issues there. I assume
those issues explain why that information is not (AFAIK) available in dumps etc.
I have read some great qualitative pieces which discuss watchlisting [e.g. 1], which are
very helpful (please don't hesitate to suggest others), but haven't seen
quantitative data, which our study calls for.
Failing exact data, what do we know about the distribution of practices of watchlisting?
Currently my plan is to assume that anyone who has edited an article in the past 6 months
has it on their watchlist. Obviously a very corse assumption. If we had any empirical
knowledge about these practices then I could use a distribution (e.g. editors have the
page on their watchlist at some % chance, altering depending on their number/tenure of
editing that page). I also don't have any way to estimate whether someone who has
never edited a page has a page on their watchlist (or assuming that some do, whether
there's any useful way to guess which pages they are likely to have on their
Grateful for any suggestions or reactions,
: Bryant, S., Forte, A., and Bruckman, A. (2005). Becoming Wikipedian: transformation
of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. In Proceedings of the 2005
international ACM SIGGROUP conference on Supporting group work, page 10. ACM.
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