[Wikimedia-l] Thanking anonymous users

Erik Zachte ezachte at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 17 02:55:05 UTC 2014

Here are some charts which breakdown edits into several categories, reverts are counted separately. Of course edits is not editors, but it could be indicative of changed behavior patterns/policies. In the ongoing reassesment of metric definitions one thing discussed is whether we should count productive editors separately (I think we do), and if so on what basis (e.g. x edits per week/month which survived y days of not being reverted).



-----Original Message-----
From: wikimedia-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org [mailto:wikimedia-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Mark
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2014 23:03
To: Wikimedia Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Thanking anonymous users

On 1/14/14, 5:56 AM, Tim Starling wrote:
> On 14/01/14 15:38, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:
>> On 01/13/2014 11:20 PM, Tim Starling wrote:
>>> The English
>>> Wikipedia edit rate has been declining since about January 2007, and 
>>> is now only 67% of the rate at that time. A linear regression on the 
>>> edit rate from that time predicts death of the project at around 2030.
>> That's...  come /on/ Tim!  You know better than to say silly things 
>> like that.
>> The abuse filter alone could very well account for this (the 
>> prevented edits and the revert that would have taken place).  :-)  I 
>> used to do a lot of patrol back in those years and - for nostalgia's 
>> sake - I tried doing a bit over a year ago.  The amount of "surface" 
>> vandalism has gone down a *lot* since.
> Reversing the decline in editor population has been a major strategic 
> priority of WMF for many years. You are saying you have never heard of 
> it before? Well, here is some reading material for you:

I have heard much about the strategic priority, but much less about the rigorous data analysis. In particular, I have yet to see a demonstration that there is actually a decline in what we might call the "productive editor" population, people adding things to articles or otherwise improving them. Instead what's usually quoted are raw counts, things like "number of accounts that have made >5 edits in a month". But of course this kind of "blind quantitative" analysis is not a legitimate social-science methodology, at least not if some extremely strong ceteris-paribus assumptions are first validated.

To just pick one hypothesized confound among many that have been discussed on and off, there may have been a decline in the joint population of "vandals + vandal-fighters". These are counted as editors by the ">5 edits" criterion, but between them produce no net editing, so a decline in their joint population is not a real editor decline, and an increase in their joint population is not a real editor increase.

Another hypothesized confound is that there has been a wholesale replacement of "recent changes patrollers" with bots. A loss of net-95 editors because 100 people who solely did recent-changes patrol were replaced by 5 bots that do the same job would be a decline of 95 raw-data editors, but not really a net loss in productive editors.

These confounds might, in the end, not account for much after all. But I have been looking and haven't found even an attempt to *really* substantiate claims that the number of actual encyclopedia editors has declined, versus just superficial quantitative analysis of the accounts-making-edits raw data.


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