I agree with pretty much all that Bob says here, except one important
point: This is probably correct for Wikipedia in English, and maybe a few
other very big languages.
A rarely remembered fact: most people don't know English.
In other languages there's much work to do in writing articles on math,
history, geography, medicine and what not (and dictionaries and textbooks
and public domain works), but a lot of potential people who would do it
fall into two categories:
1. People who know English and can read the English Wikipedia article and
don't notice that an article in their language is missing.
2. People who don't know English and can neither translate from the English
Wikipedia nor other English-only sources.
The upcoming Task List feature in Content Translation (
) will try to address this by
giving people a more convenient way to see the gaps and fill them, although
it will be only a technical tool, which cannot solve everything by itself.
As Bob notes, targeted outreach to experts will be needed as well.
בתאריך 28 באוג׳ 2016 22:27, "Bob Kosovsky" <bobkosovsky(a)nypl.org> כתב:
I've been active with Wikipedia since 2006. My impression (which
corresponds with data) is that 2008 was the year with the highest number of
editors on English Wikipedia. While it may sound good on paper, in some
ways it was a mess because of the frequency of vandalism. Nowadays I know
there are more automated techniques for detecting vandalism, but if you
want to increase the number of users just to make the stats look good,
you're going to get more dubious data into the encyclopedia as well as
frustration from editors who dislike spending their time on so much
maintenance (although I'm sure there are some editors who would jump at the
chance to make corrections all day).
I suspected from the outset of Wikipedia's creation that the project would
mirror the well-known "life cycle of email lists" as I've always believed
Wikipedia is a "social encyclopedia." I feel this well-known meme
accurately reflect's Wikipedia's evolution so I repeat it here as a tool
from which to learn:
*1. Initial enthusiasm* (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about
how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).
*2. Evangelism* (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list,
and brainstorm recruitment strategies).
*3. Growth* (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads
develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).
*4. Community* (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of
information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as
less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other;
newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone -- newbie and
expert alike -- feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and
*5. Discomfort with diversity* (the number of messages increases
dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start
complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if
*other* people don't limit discussion to person 1's pet topic; person 2
agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is
wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads
themselves; everyone gets annoyed).
*6a. Smug complacency and stagnation* (the purists flame everyone who asks
an 'old' question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are
rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues;
all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a
few participants; the purists spend lots of time self-righteously
congratulating each other on keeping off-topic threads off the list).
*6b. Maturity* (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants
stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many
people wear out their second or third 'delete' key, but the list lives
contentedly ever after).
I feel Wikipedia is at stage 6 (both a and b). Unless there's a significant
change in functionality and design, the days of 2008 will never return, and
we should stop bothering to think it's possible to replicate them (because
their existence was due to the novelty of the project).
Instead, I think Wikimedia projects should cultivate those individuals with
specialized knowledge. A lot of these people are in specialized
communities (for example educators, medical professionals,
researchers/scholars, devoted amateurs). These are communities which
formerly looked down on Wikipedia but now are reconsidering their formerly
negative opinions of the encyclopedia. I feel the as-yet small successes in
the medical and GLAM communities (I am sure there are others) show great
promise. Being part of the GLAM community, I know there are outreach
efforts underway to others within that community. Being part of WM NYC, I
know there's a lot of librarians involved in chapter activities--and most
of those activities take place in libraries or museums (often museum
Until this year, the WMF showed no real interest in continuous engagement
and dialogue with the community that edits the projects. I totally agree
with the person who said WMF needs to have a marketing department. This is
especially true for the kinds of research which marketers report on and are
typical of any organization, profit or non-profit. That would be a first
step: Understanding who are the variety of its users/editors from which it
can then create action items to determine how it can increase the number of
users by going after specific market segments. This would not eliminate
the "anyone can edit" ethos, but could be a more effective means to
increasing users rather than appealing to a broad public.
Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions -
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