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

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 00:50:39 UTC 2013

On Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM, Kim Bruning <kim at bruning.xs4all.nl> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 08, 2013 at 04:13:20PM -0800, George Herbert wrote:
>> >
>> > Note: Adds a threshold, thus negatively influences editor retention.
>> >
>> But we need to understand what's wrong with the current way of doing things as
>> part of the discussion.
> Consider a famous example in Japan: Several Japanese onsens had problems with
> Russian Sailors, so in the end they instituded a "no foreigners allowed" policy.
> This solved the probnlem nicely.
> I've also heard a story about a lan party in texas, where they had had repeated
> issues with people hurling slurs at girl gamers etc. so in the end they simply
> banned all female participants.
> The correct solution to newbies being chased off is not "ban them upfront". The
> correct solution is to deal with those chasing off the newbies ;-)

There is a tremendous difference between a clickthrough warning that
one might be wading into a dangerous topic, and a ban of a type or
class of users from articles or topic areas.

Some users who we would, in a total picture and retrospect, not want
to edit those articles (and be subject to potential or actual nasty
responses) will be driven off that article.  That's the idea working.

Some of those would be discouraged from editing elsewhere on the wiki
and leaving entirely.  That would be the idea having unintended
consequences beyond the specific purpose, failing in a
counterproductive way.

Some people would ignore the warning and post anyways.

Some of those would get nasty responses and leave entirely.  This
would be the idea failing.

Some will get nasty responses, recall the warning, and go edit
elsewhere.  This would be a suboptimal but ultimately successful
version of the idea working.

Properly considered, we'd look at how many people the idea worked for
- warned them effectively, either redirecting them to less
controversial topics or helping them be forewarned about the
controversies.  We'd compare with the people it didn't work for, the
failures and the counterproductive failures.

Additionally, we'd compare it with doing nothing, with how many
editors we're driving away now when they walk unawares into hornets

Additionally, we could compare it to alternate solutions such as
discouraging nasty editors from driving newbies away.

In a net sense, if we drove away more people than we saved, it would
be a loss to include it.  If it worked better than the alternate
solution it would also be a better idea.

You're presuming we'd drive away more people than we saved.  I don't
reject the possibility that that's true, but it's worth examining.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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