I'm the Product Manager for The Wikipedia Library, thanks for starting this
conversation! Let me start by providing some background context around how
and why the criteria are set this way.
Way back when the library started, it was an uphill battle to get
publishers to agree to participate. While some were happy to jump right in,
others were very wary about making their paywalled materials free for a
nebulous group of folks from around the world. The editing requirements
were primarily designed to convince those publishers that the only people
who would be getting access to their materials were active Wikipedia
editors who would be using their access primarily to contribute to
Wikipedia. The initial requirements were actually even higher than they are
today, at 1000 edits and 12 months of activity. We lowered that to 500
edits and 6 months around 2015 because it was clearly excessive. Last year
we added the 10+ edits/month and no active blocks criteria as we shifted
~half of the publishers to the instant-access model where no applications
are required. I think those two criteria are pretty minor compared to 500/6
(if you don't meet the 10 edits criteria you can make them all in the space
of an hour and get access again right away).
Unfortunately, lowering the requirements isn't quite as easy as simply
making an internal/community decision. Almost all publishers who provide
access via the library sign an agreement with us. We don't pay for access,
so adding new publishers is entirely dependent on convincing them to join
the program. That agreement currently includes the editor activity
criteria. This means lowering the requirements would necessitate going to
each publisher, having them agree, and then likely signing a new agreement.
This was enough of a challenge when we made the 2015 change, but by now we
have something like 80 partnerships and the criteria need to be the same
for all publishers, so this would be quite the undertaking. That's not to
say it isn't worth the effort, I just want to clarify what's required.
In terms of who qualifies under the current criteria, the figure is
somewhere around 57,000 active editors in total today, obviously with more
receiving the eligibility notification each day.
In terms of lowering the requirements further, I do agree in principle that
it would be nice if newer good faith editors were able to access the
library, but we need to balance this with publishers' willingness to
continue providing this free access. When we say '500 edits and 6 months of
editing' this generally puts folks we're pitching to at ease, and makes
them confident the program isn't likely to be used by people who aren't
actively editing Wikipedia and have simply registered a free account to use
the library for personal reasons. I'm not sure what the boundary is there,
i.e. whether we would be as successful if we said '250 edits and 3 months',
for example. I'll also say these numbers aren't hugely data-informed. We
didn't analyse at what edit count/tenure threshold we can be confident in
saying 'this is an active and engaged content contributor' versus 'theres a
chance this user has made trivial edits simply to get access', but that's
certainly a research project I could see being useful here, rather than
making an arbitrary change that we can't justify with data.
Because of the work involved in changing these criteria I'm very hesitant
about doing so, but I'd love to hear what you all think and whether the
above changes your perspective at all.
> On Wed, Jul 27, 2022 at 1:38 PM J West <jessamyn(a)gmail.com> wrote:
>> I can absolutely see lowering the number of edits required, but it
>> might also be worth looking at or adjusting what sort of edits we are
>> looking for or adjusting them per-resource though that might get
>> messy. For example, people who are creating articles need to have a
>> different, and one could possibly argue higher, level of Wikipedia
>> literacy and familiarity than someone doing automated edits. They're
>> both valuable! But may have different needs w/r/t the Library.
>> As someone who approves people for a few different WL resources, I see
>> basically two kinds of applicants
>> - People who just apply for access to ALL WL resources and just are
>> rolling the dice about whether they'll be accepted. What they apply
>> for doesn't match their areas of interest or expertise or even editing
>> areas, or their qualifying edits are all profile page edits
>> - People who apply for a narrowly-tailored set of resources that match
>> their editing expertise
>> I guess the larger question is whether WL resource access is seen as a
>> perq for longer time editors or if it's supposed to just be a tool to
>> help people edit Wikipedia.
> Thanks for sharing that's valuable to hear. I would put money on the fact
> that a lot of helpful new editors who don't yet qualify wouldn't even
> bother to apply, for lack of awareness or just giving up after seeing the
> requirements on the main landing page.
> Your larger question is definitely the right one. I would say that if our
> mission is to give everyone on the planet free access to the sum of all
> knowledge, we need to treat it like a resource that's available to anyone
> who wants to make a good faith effort to create and edit articles. The bar
> for access should be the minimum necessary to ensure that you've shown real
> interest and ability to make use of the library. If there are limits on the
> volume of editors who can participate, there are other tools we can use
> like making access expire if you don't use it. (Do we do that already?
> Pardon my ignorance here.)
>> Jessamyn West
>> box 345, randolph vt 05060
>> On Wed, Jul 27, 2022 at 4:26 PM Steven Walling <steven.walling(a)gmail.com>
>> > I wanted to start a discussion on lowering the threshold for access.
>> Very very very few people qualify for the current requirements of 500+
>> edits, 6+ months editing, 10+ edits in the last month, and no active
>> blocks. In fact basically this excludes any new editor no matter how good
>> faith and helpful they have been. Even just lowering one of the account age
>> or edit count thresholds would go a long way.
>> > I recently was pretty shocked to discover this high of a bar for
>> access, after recommending the library as a resource to a new editor who
>> has been doing a great job and (as a young student) could use access to
>> academic source material in creating science-related content. I won't name
>> them, but as an example this editor has over 300 edits and has created just
>> over 50 articles, mainly for missing plant species.
>> > Do the participating institutions require this level of exclusionary
>> criteria? How can we gather data to show them that there are good content
>> contributors being excluded here?
>> > These requirements seem pretty absurd especially since many of the
>> largest resources in the Library, like JSTOR, give any random person with a
>> Google account access to 100 free articles per month. The risk profile of a
>> Wikipedia who say has,100 edits and 1 month of experience has got to be
>> less than that? We should pilot a threshold like that.
>> > Steven
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Senior Product Manager, Moderator Tools