[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
Sat Jan 5 10:26:43 UTC 2013

Aaron Halfaker, 04/01/2013 23:57:
> Forgive me, but:
>>  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,
> How disproportionately active *are* the 2005/2006ers and is the problem
> solving itself or getting worse?

I've no idea of course, I'm not able to produce updates for papers I 
read (and embarassingly enough, not even to quickly find the paper in 
question on my hard drive). :-)

>>  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.
> I'm not sure I agree with this statement.  It certainly depends on the
> importance of the single word and the potential ten new policies.  Do
> you know how the influence of policy works and can you prove it?

I don't see why the burden of proof should be on me: you are the one 
claiming that non-multiplication of policies is a problem, a very novel 
concept to my mind.
I suppose that some useful research could be done on the "verifiability, 
not truth" motto, which in the end was killed: a big example of 
NoRespectForHistory I'd say; maybe a nice achievement for the recent 
editors you'd think.

> As Oliver stated, there's a big difference between just knowing
> something and having a good reason to know it.  In this paper, we
> explored quite a few intuitive explanations for the decline and reduced
> them dramatically.  A lot of "known"s became known to be wrong in the
> process of our analysis (e.g. that the decline was caused by the
> declining quality of newcomers).
> I'd go farther than Oliver though to start we all gain a lot by using
> data to beat back assumptions that were wrong and supporting those that
> are right.  It's not just academics that are empowered by knowledge
> based on big data analysis.  Both the community and the foundation need
> to know the scale and trajectory of certain problems in order to
> prioritize and act effectively.  The intuition of individuals is
> invaluable, no doubt, but it is no substitute for data on important
> patterns that are difficult to observe.

Again, I never said the contrary.


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