[Foundation-l] On certain shallow, American-centered, foolish software initiatives backed by WMF

Liam Wyatt liamwyatt at gmail.com
Mon Oct 31 08:27:11 UTC 2011

On 31 October 2011 07:40, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Teofilo wrote:
> > The WMF has been recently backing softwares that are a breach of
> > "Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not" (1). Recently a totally stupid pink
> > heart was added to user talk pages, making people believe it is
> > Valentine Day everyday, with the result that Wikipedia is now being
> > used as a social network or a game.
> >
> > [...]
> >
> > (1)
> >
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NOT#Wikipedia_is_not_a_blog.2C_webspace
> > _provider.2C_social_network.2C_or_memorial_site
> I think the term you're looking for is "wikiafication". Maybe
> "Wikiafication"? I suppose it's not quite genericized yet, so capitalizing
> it probably makes sense.
> I've had a draft e-mail sitting around for months now that I've been
> meaning
> to send on the subject. MoodBar, WikiLove, etc. are all forms of
> Wikiafication. This is dangerous, as Wikia largely sucks, so any attempted
> emulation of it is a risky proposition. That isn't to say that Wikia gets
> nothing right, but for the most part, it's a pretty bad user experience at
> a
> social and technical level.
> There is also the tangential issue that mingling Wikia
> development/engineering projects with Wikimedia development/engineering
> projects further erodes the already tenuous divide between the two
> organizations. There's been talk (more than talk, really) of Wikimedia
> working with Wikia on projects such as the parser rewrite, as it serves
> both
> organizations' interests. That's true, to be sure, but the costs of further
> close collaboration may outweigh any benefit.
> MZMcBride
> I'm not going to disagree with the complaints about MoodBar, WikiLove etc.
for being a diversion from our core purpose, but equally there are very
good reasons for these things that have been mentioned too. The primary nub
of contention being that they are of greatest benefit to new users (who are
not really able to defend themselves on foundation-l) whilst being largely
irrelevant additions to experienced users. Because the WMF is (rightly,
IMO) focused on reversing the decline in editor numbers, much of their
developments will suffer from this tension. There are valid arguments on
both sides but I believe that's where the tension derives from. Also as I'm
not familiar with Wikia-wikis I won't comment on the quality/usefullness of
their software.
I'm not trying to write this email to point out problems, but to point to
positive things instead...

I would like to point to a new kind of WMF development work that's underway
as a particularly useful, interesting and positive development. The New
Page Triage concept and associated "zoom" interface which is designed to
improve Recent Changes Patrol: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/New_Page_Triage
 Now, I'm not a regular new page patroller so the feature will not affect
me directly, and there are certainly lots of features/design
issues/workflows/interfaces that will be wrong and will need dramatic
changes before going from the concept stage to the in-production use stage.

Why I'm particularly excited with this page is that it represents a WMF
development project that addresses the issue of new user retention (by
improving the quality of their first interaction with the community) by
assisting the EXISTING users to do their work better. By looking at this
kind of thing the WMF software team is loudly saying "we're all in this
together" which needs to be applauded. The existing community, especially
the hard-core who do a disproportionately large amount of the work, need to
feel like they're not "part of the problem" but "part of the solution" in
reversing the editor-numbers decline - and features like New Page Triage
(and/or others like it) are a brilliant way of doing this, IMHO.


Peace, love & metadata

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