[Foundation-l] help.wikimedia.org - Q&A site

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Fri Apr 6 23:55:33 UTC 2012

On Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 2:07 PM, Peter Coombe <thewub.wiki at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Wasn't there a proposal a while back for a Stack Exchange [1] site
> like this? It seems like the ideal software for it.

StackExchange and the open source OSQA equivalent are indeed powerful
tools and worth experimenting with. Anyone wanting to set up a public
instance of these or other tools to play with can do so through
Wikimedia Labs and of course the toolserver. See
https://labsconsole.wikimedia.org/wiki/Help:Access for Labs access and

We've focused on creating a more integrated help experience with two
projects, the feedback dashboard (FD) and the teahouse.

The FD gives new editors an opportunity to ask a question or register
a complaint. It pops into view the moment you first click edit, which
is a more obvious affordance than a separate help site you have to
find out about and visit. It's been active on en.wp and nl.wp for a
few months, and was recently activated on French Wikisource as well.
On en.wp, we register about 100 feedback submissions a day, and about
30-50 responses.

FD includes a few features which elevate it above ordinary talk page responses:
- an in-line response tool on the dashboard itself which shortcuts the
path to the user's talk page
- a "mark as helpful" feature which the recipient of a message can use
to indicate that they were helped.
- friendly email notifications (not the standard talk page notifiers)
- a leaderboard of top responders, which has been helpful at
incentivizing participation

FD for English Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:FeedbackDashboard
FD for Dutch Wikipedia:
FD for French Wikisource:

We're currently letting the project sit for a while to gather metrics
about any impact it has on editors who are being helped.

The teahouse is a less technical and more social initiative:

It is supported by some shiny templates and a nice little in-line
response gadget. But it's primarily an effort to mobilize lots of
people to engage in user-to-user help. As you can see, lots of folks
have signed up as hosts (people who respond), and early metrics
indicate that there's indeed a positive impact on retention.


IMO setting up a separate Q/A site would be in some ways a workaround
for Wikimedia's poor internal discussion system, and would incur lots
of disadvantages (detached from workflows, no easy login integration,
no easy integration of wiki markup / templates, separate technical
infrastructure with additional maintenance/scalability/security
burden, need for additional policy development on copyright, terms of
use, etc. ......). But it's worth experimenting with, for sure, if
only to find out what UI/UX patterns are worth applying to our own

LQT is on hold for now, because it's an overambitious and
underresourced project. We're going to start work soon on this

This is a larger effort to improve Wikimedia's notifications
infrastructure, and will lay the groundwork for messaging
improvements, as well as other next generation features. We hope that
we'll be able to improve user-to-user messaging features in this
process,  which would be a technical foundation for improved direct
user support systems.

For the tech side of things, our goals for next fiscal are still
draft, but give a good idea what we're thinking about (pending
approval of associated staffing/funding):

Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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