Splitting this out from the GLAMs/Chapters thread, I continue to regularly
wonder whether we need stricter guidelines and guidance in the area of
experimenting on Wikimedians.
Erik mentioned trying to further implement A/B testing in software
development, but to me that quickly raises consent and trust issues. My
view is that Wikimedians should be treated as colleagues, not customers.
Of course the stark reality is that A/B testing on users (typically
readers, not editors) during the annual Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser
has been a major component of the Wikimedia Foundation's growth.
Worth repeating, from <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Experiments>:
Current practices in Web analytics reflect their commercial origins. For
better or worse, the greatest motor behind the use of Web analytics has
been the profit interests of online retailers and social networks, for
whom the user is a commodity. These profit interests have profoundly
shaped the discourse of Web analytics, setting both the tenor and the tone
of debate (consider the values implicit in "funnels," a term of art).
A thoughtless application of Web analytics to Wikimedia wikis would import
a moral outlook that is incompatible with (and, indeed, rightfully
offensive to) its community. It also wouldn't work well, because neither
Wikimedia wikis nor their editing communities are for sale. It is
therefore crucial that technical efforts be accompanied by a process of
reflection, the goal of which should be to articulate criteria for Web
analytics that express and promote the broader ambitions of the Wikimedia
movement and the moral commitments that underlie it.
I think this about sums it up better than I ever could.
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