I'm 100% with you both on this matter of having tried the obvious easy
solutions. If I hear one more person to propose outreach as the solution to
the gender gap or new editor retention, I think I will <insert threat of
choice here>. I do a lot of outreach here in Australia and, yes,
hand-holding works as long as you in the room with them but stops working
once they are at the mercy of the community (who will "attack" even during
the outreach). And also that kind of handholding is not scalable. We don't
just need 10 new active editors; we need 10K or even 100K new active
editors. It is indeed time to tackle the hard problem and that is changing
the "crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere". The solution
does not lie in training people to conform to that regime. Even if people
are taught how to engage with it, if people don't enjoy the experience, of
course they will walk away. Those of us still here are all probably as
stubborn as mules and with the hides of rhinoceroses (or just enjoy being a
bully safely hidden behind a pseudonym).
Although "academic standards of publication" appears to held up as the ideal
behind some of the Wikipedia quality guidelines, I must say they are higher
standards than I've seen enforced at most journals or in most conferences.
And certainly I've never seen the rigid enforcement of the nit-picking rules
in the Manual of Style. I do think we are operating our own version of the
Stanford Prison Experiment
only the difference is that they cancelled their experiment in about a week.
Ours has been running for years ..
The Wikipedia article above says .
The results of the experiment have been argued to demonstrate the
impressionability and obedience of people when provided with a legitimizing
ideology and social and institutional support.
"Quality control" is Wikipedia's legitimising ideology and our processes
provide it with the social and institutional support. When did you ever see
someone in an Article for Deletion discussion or similar say "let's look at
the big picture here, the WMF have a strategic priority to reverse editor
attrition or close the gender gap, let's consider our decision here with
that in mind". No, it's always "we must decide this according to our
raising any other point is discouraged (you get slapped down for it). Of
course, I question why WMF allows the community to make and enforce rules
when the outcome appears to be working against their stated priorities.
That's not strong governance, that's weakness. I don't think WMF needs to
control everything top-down (and indeed it would not be scalable if they
did) but they do need to set boundaries in some places in relation to the
community's control over policy and process to ensure the success of the WMF
strategic plan. For example, I would say that if a new editor creates a new
article which isn't obviously spam/vandalism, does it really matter to let
that article survive because it isn't notable enough according to the
guidelines for that category of article. At the very least could we defer
the discussion of deletion for a few months in the hope it is further
developed to a better standard by then? Perhaps a two stage process, first
communicate with the contributor(s) with *precise* concerns about how it
needs to be improved and they have a month to do it, and that help is
available (at the TeaHouse or wherever). (Feedback is often too vague,
saying "not notable" is not helpful and saying WP:ANYTHING is not helpful
either as it looks like a string of gibberish written like that and even if
the link is clicked, the resulting page is full of jargon and often
meaningless to the newbie).
Maybe we should introduce a karma system (like Slashdot). You can only do
certain actions if you have high karma. So "positive emotional" actions like
thanking, wikilove, writing nice sentiment messages, making uncontested
contributions to articles, etc earn you karma and only high karma people can
take "negative emotional" actions (undoing - other than vandalism),
proposing for deletion, voting to delete, because they reduce your karma
etc. This might at least slow down the out-and-out bullies who engage in
lots of "emotionally negative" behaviours .
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Aaron
Sent: Tuesday, 21 October 2014 12:08 AM
To: Pine W
Cc: WikiEN-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org; Editor Engagement; Rachel diCerbo;
Addressing gender equity and exploring ways to increase theparticipation of
women within Wikimedia projects.; Wiki Research-l; A mailing list for the
Analytics Team at WMF and everybody who has aninterest in Wikipedia and
Subject: Re: [Wiki-research-l] Research discussion: Visions for Wikipedia
Thanks for prod'ing the conversation. See also the discussion about
Wikipedia's decreasing adaptability on the Wikimedia analytics mailing list
IMO, the critical piece of evidence that English Wikipedia is suffering from
a lack of adaptive flexibility is the lack of any substantial change to the
treatment of newcomers since the massive decline in retention of good-faith
newcomers started in 2007. A secondary piece of evidence is the
increasing resistance to policy/guideline (formalized norm) changes for all
editors, but especially newcomers.
We've seen some follow-up work that suggests that Wikipedia's complexity
itself is a barrier for new editors and that these issues extend to
spaces specifically designed to support newcomers' work. There have been
some interesting efforts to address the symptoms of the problem. For
example, see WP:Teahouse, WP:Snuggle and Onboarding Research.
Personally, I think that the way forward is to recognize that hard problems
are hard because others have tried the easy/intuitive solutions already. I
think it is time to dig in and understand the fundamental, socio-technical
nature of Wikipedia. To that end, I'm working on building data resources of
strategic importance (see [9, 10, 11, 12]). I'm also working towards
experimenting with the effects of increased reflexive power by surfacing a
value-added measurement service. And of course, I'm advertising our
socio-technical problems at research showcase like the one Pine linked and
when giving talks (e.g. ) so that we can grow our army of wiki
OMG WALL OF REFERENCES:
1. Halfaker, A., Geiger, R. S., Morgan, J. T., & Riedl, J. (2012). The rise
and decline of an open collaboration system: How Wikipedia's reaction to
popularity is causing its decline. American Behavioral Scientist,
ng from  Figure 4, pg. 12
3. Page 17, table 2 and the two pgs preceeding it.
4. Morgan, J. T., Bouterse, S., Walls, H., & Stierch, S. (2013, February).
Tea and sympathy: crafting positive new user experiences on wikipedia. In
Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work
(pp. 839-848). ACM.
5. Halfaker, A., Geiger, R. S., & Terveen, L. G. (2014, April). Snuggle:
designing for efficient socialization and ideological critique. In
Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing
systems (pp. 311-320). ACM.
6. Schneider, J., Gelley, B. S., & Halfaker, A. (2014, August). Accept,
decline, postpone: How newcomer productivity is reduced in English Wikipedia
by pre-publication review. In Proceedings of The International Symposium on
Open Collaboration (p. 26). ACM.
7. Ford, H., & Geiger, R. S. (2012, August). Writing up rather than writing
down: Becoming wikipedia literate. In Proceedings of the Eighth Annual
International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (p. 16). ACM.
On Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:23 AM, Pine W <wiki.pine(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Both of the presentations at the October Wikimedia Research Showcase were
fascinating and I encourage everyone to watch them . I would like to
continue to discuss the themes from the showcase about Wikipedia's
adaptability, viability, and diversity.
Aaron's discussion about Wikipedia's ongoing internal adaptations, and the
slowing of those adaptations, reminded me of this statement from MIT
Technology Review in 2013 (and I recommend reading the whole article ):
"The main source of those problems (with Wikipedia) is not mysterious. The
loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male,
operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that
deters newcomers who might increase partipcipation in Wikipedia and broaden
I would like to contrast that vision of Wikipedia with the vision presented
by User:CatherineMunro (formatting tweaks by me), which I re-read when I
"THIS IS AN ENCYCLOPEDIA
to the wide garden of knowledge,
The deep rock of our past,
in which we must delve
The well of our future,
The clear water
we must leave untainted
for those who come after us,
The fertile earth,
in which truth may grow
in bright places,
tended by many hands,
And the broad fall of sunshine,
warming our first steps
how much we do not know."
How can we align ouselves less with the former vision and more with the
I hope that we can continue to discuss these themes on the Research mailing
list. Please contribute your thoughts and questions there.
 Lest this at first seem to be impossible, I will borrow and tweak a
quote from from George Bernard Shaw and later used by John F. Kennedy: "Some
people see things as they are and say, 'Why?' Let us dream things that never
were and say, 'Why not?'"