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

Federico Leva (Nemo) nemowiki at gmail.com
Fri Jan 4 08:18:12 UTC 2013

Erik Moeller, 04/01/2013 08:02:
> I'm wondering whether the key findings in Halfaker's recent "rise and
> decline" paper resonate with you:
> http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/The_Rise_and_Decline/
> Existing data like the above supports strongly the notion that
> well-intentioned, good faith contributors are much more heavily
> discouraged in 2012 than they were in 2004 or 2005, but this can be
> explained in significant part with the influx of bad faith
> contributors that have necessitated increasingly heavy handed ways to
> control against bad edits (Huggle, Twinkle, AbuseFilter, etc.) --
> which catch good faith editors in the crossfire -- as well as
> increasing expectations of what constitutes an acceptable quality edit
> / page creation.

The paper does contain good news though:
To explore Hypothesis: Norm formalization & calcification, we first 
looked for changes in the rate
of new policy creation following the introduction of a structured 
proposal process in 2005.
Figure 8 shows that growth of policies and guidelines began to slow in 
2006, just as Forte
(2009) reports. The results from our analysis of new policy/guideline 
proposals show that the
number of new policy proposals accepted via this process peaked in 2005 
at 27 out of 217 (12%
acceptance). 2006 saw an even higher number of proposed policies, but 
lower acceptance
with 24 out of 348 proposals accepted (7% acceptance). From 2007 
forward, the rate at which
policies are proposed decreases monotonically down to a mere 16 in 2011 
while the acceptance
rate stays steady at about 7.5%.
In other words, it would seem that en.wiki, contrary to popular belief, 
has developed a good immune system against bureaucracy norms expansion. :-)

The paper is actually of little use in this part IMHO, because:
1) we already know that users who joined in 2005/2006 are still 
disproportionately active in most community processes like deletion 
discussions and so on,
2) everybody knows that to influence how the wiki is run it's more 
effective to change a single word in an important policy than to 
establish ten new policies.

As for (1), I doubt the Wikipedia thought police is keeping newcomers 
out of discussions, but one can make them look so hard that newbies 
won't participate. However, it.wiki recently switched from the 
established vote-system for deletion to a discussion system as 
en.wiki's, and a year of data for the "new" system seems to prove that 
it increased the words spent and drove away old/unexperienced editors 
(with 3+ years or 51-5000 edits), while newcomers resisted, presumably 
to defend their own articles.


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