[Wikimedia-l] Editor retention (was Re: "Big data" benefits and limitations (relevance: WMF editor engagement, fundraising, and HR practices))

Tim Starling tstarling at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 4 04:13:54 UTC 2013

On 03/01/13 22:46, Martijn Hoekstra wrote:
> Editor retention programmes have some data there. Check wp:wer on en.wiki.
> how the data for the other projects match up I don't know.

Yes, that page describes the problem in detail. But the suggestions
they offer under "how you can help" are along the same lines as
policies that have been in place on Wikipedia since 2002 or earlier.
It's been tried, it didn't work.

The problem is, some people want to feel powerful more than they want
Wikipedia to grow. Or even if they want Wikipedia to grow on a
cerebral level, exercising power over another user is immediately
pleasurable, and they don't have sufficient impulse control to stop
themselves from doing it.

It should be obvious that what is missing is discipline. An
arbitration committee with expanded scope, with full-time members
funded by the WMF (at arm's length for legal reasons), could go a long
way towards solving the problem. Some users will be reformed when
their technical power is threatened (be that editing or admin access),
others will just leave as soon as their reputation is at stake.

There is risk, because the editor population will probably be reduced
in the short term, and it's hard to know if it will ever recover. I
don't know if there is anyone with the power to save Wikipedia who
also has the required courage.

-- Tim Starling

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