On 29 September 2010 23:32, Andreas Kolbe
German Wikipedia has had pending changes
*globally*, in all articles, for several years now. Unlike
en:WP, where numbers of active editors have dropped
significantly since 2007, numbers of active editors in de:WP
have remained stable:
The stats on that page are pretty confusing, Andreas. Could
here what the relative figures are?
According to the tables, the number of en:WP editors with >100 edits/month
stood at 5,151 in April 2007, and was down to 3,868 in August 2010.
de:WP had 1,027 in April 2007, and 1,075 in August 2010.
You raise an interesting point, Andreas. I am not persuaded that pending
changes/flagged revisions have anything to do with the editor retention rate
at the de:WP. However, I think you may be right that the considerably more
homogeneous editor population, as well as the commonality in cultural
background, was instrumental in the ability of the project to jointly make
such a cultural shift. Indeed, the number of de:WP editors with >100
edits/month has remained very stable since January 2006. (The number of
en:WP editors was essentially the same in January 2006 as at present, but
hit its peak in April 2007. Let's not cherry pick the data too much, okay?)
As an aside for those interested in the historical perspective, the massive
increase in the number of editors on en:WP coincides with a massive influx
of vandalism, and over a thousand editors did almost nothing *but* revert or
otherwise address vandalism. As better and more effective tools have been
developed to address that problem - Huggle, Twinkle, Friendly, the edit
filters, reverting bots, semi-protection, etc - the number of editors needed
to manage vandalism has diminished dramatically. In other words, that
1300-editor difference may largely be accounted for because those whose only
skill was vandal-fighting have moved on. That's not to say there is no
vandalism on en:WP today; there's still plenty of it.
Observing from afar, it has often struck me that when almost all members of
an editorial community come from a common cultural background and geographic
area, there is a synergy that isn't found on projects where the community is
much more diverse. This is best illustrated in the large scale on German
Wikipedia, and some other European projects, where the community is visibly
more cohesive. In the smaller scale, certain projects with shared
cultural/geographic background on English Wikipedia, such as Wikiproject
Australia, are more accomplished at developing and meeting shared
objectives. These groups, whether large projects or small pockets within a
larger project, seem to operate in accordance with their local cultural
norms; in other words, they don't have to find common cultural ground before
they can move on to a discussion of a proposal.
It's my belief that the common cultural background of the de:WP editorial
community has been one of the keystones of its success in being able to
implement large-scale and project-wide changes, flagged revisions being the
most obvious. That common cultural background or focal geographic area
simply does not exist for the English Wikipedia; we're probably one of the
few projects where the same expression can be viewed as friendly, somewhat
rude and downright offensive at the same time, depending on whether the
reader is Australian, British or American (not to mention those who have
learned English as a second language, which also makes up a significant part
of our editorship).
Each project also has its own culture, but I confess that most of my
knowledge of the culture of other projects is anecdotal rather than
observational, so I won't venture to try to compare them.
When faced with dramatic increases in vandalism, en:WP created tools that
are largely developed by individuals and utilized by other individuals (with
the exception of semi-protection); de:WP developed a single unified
community response. The remarkably high quality of the tools used on en:WP
means that any new systemic tool has to meet a very high threshold for it to
be considered acceptable for wide-scale use. Perhaps that is the key
difference between these two community types: one places more emphasis on
making cohesive group decisions, while the other more strongly encourages a
range of solutions. I don't have any answers, just observations.
I find your analyse extremely interesting, I do believe indeed that
culture plays a role in how people approach their wikipedia-editing
and how harmoniously this actually works. However, I would not
discount the sheer numbers. The number of active editors is about 3,5
times higher in the English Wikipedia than in the German, for example.
This probably also accounts for a higher difficulty of achieving any
kind of consensus.
NB. This gmail address is used for mailing lists. Personal emails will get lost.
Intercultural musings: Ceci n'est pas une endive -