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

Mark delirium at hackish.org
Sat Jan 5 00:37:34 UTC 2013

On 1/4/13 5:51 PM, George Herbert wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 10:05 AM, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 4 January 2013 17:56, Mark <delirium at hackish.org> wrote:
>>> 1a. Do *not* pick a source that you have a particularly close personal or
>>> emotional connection to: it is not good to start with your own research,
>>> your supervisor's or colleague's research, a project of yours or that you're
>>> involved with, a nationalist/political/religious subject you feel strongly
>>> about, the history of your own family, etc.
>> This can be a problem in that people will become interested first in
>> fixing something they think is wrong because they know about it. I do
>> realise all the steps from that to here, and that a list of
>> instructions pretty much won't be read.
> Along the lines of noneuclidian geometry...
> What if we experiment (at least conceptually) with inverting that
> instruction?  Encourage people to write on subjects they know...

Hmm, I should've worded that more narrowly. I don't disagree with people 
writing on subjects they know (quite the opposite!). I have more in mind 
to avoid things that people have an unusually close personal/emotional 
connection to, which makes it more likely their editing will result in 

For example, I'm Greek, and know a bit about Greek culture, history, 
etc., and these are fine areas for someone to start editing in. On the 
other hand, a Greek choosing [[Macedonia naming dispute]] or [[Cyprus 
dispute]] as the first article one edits (e.g. to "correct 
misinformation") is less advisable, imo. It's certainly possible to edit 
reasonably in those areas, but I think it's a poor starting point, and 
requires some more experience with how to write neutral articles in 
contentious areas, and how to reach a consensus over what that even means.

Same in my area of expertise: editing AI articles is a great place for 
an AI researcher to start editing, but editing an article on one's own 
research lab, self, department, algorithm, etc. is not a great place. 
Unfortunately I often find academics primarily interested in the latter: 
the would-be-editor question I most often get is along the lines of, 
"how do I create a Wikipedia article on [my own thing]"? I do try to 
redirect this into suggesting they edit more generally in their area of 
expertise but not *specifically* their approach/self/lab they're trying 
to promote, e.g. think about what exists in a good textbook or survey 
article that's not yet covered well in Wikipedia, and work there. But 
I'd say that's usually not successful.


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