Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Renata St
>
> This is to some degree a question of balance in approach.
>
> Every day, thousands of absolutely idiotic, non notable articles get
> started that really have no point or hope.  Every day, new page
> patrollers find (most) of those, and they go "kerpoof".  It would
> largely be a waste of time to prod them, mark them "citation needed"
> talk to the new user.  The user never had any intention of
> contributing legitimately to an online information resource /
> encyclopedia, they're just trying to insult/promote/blab about their
> friend/school/work/favorite whatever.
>
> We could emphasize a more positive engagement intended to get the
> message to these people about what an encyclopedia is, what Wikipedia
> is, and what contributions would be appropriate.  But by and large
> these driveby contributions aren't intended to really stick.  They're
> an advanced form of vandalism, and the perpetrators know it.
>

That's what I though: "There is too much garbage coming in, too few admins
to police. There is no way that we can deal with this other than nuke on
sight and who cares about collateral damage -- we have a war to fight!"

Then one day I stumbled upon Distributed Proofreaders (
http://www.pgdp.net/c/) and proofread a few pages. I couple days later I
received *three* *personalized* welcoming messages & evaluations "this is
what you got right, this is what you should improve". I was shocked. These
people are overworked, they have huge backlogs, they are stricter about
quality than the pickiest FAC reviewer, yet three of them found time,
energy, and good will to write lengthy personalized messages for a newbie
who reviewed 30 book pages... If it was Wikipedia and I was a newbie with 30
edits, best case scenario I would have been slapped with {{welcome}} and my
articles with endless variations of  {{cleanup}}. This opened my eyes that
there *is* an alternative -- an unthinkable idea for someone born and raised
up in the Wikipedia battlefield zone.

The core of Wikipedia culture is battleground: fight vandals, nuke their
articles, whack them and quick! Yes, it is important for the integrity of
the encyclopedia. Yes, spam was prophesied to be the end of Wikipedia. But
what will surely kill it is lack of participation. And we are killing the
participation by whacking it with deletions, clean ups, bans, etc.

We have to make a profound choice in the culture here:
1) we continue with the whacking and scaring the newbies away (content
priority #1, people #2), or
2) we embrace the newbies and we let some spam through (people priority #1,
content #2).

So far we are steadily moving along the first route. I believe, it is time
we switch the priorities. People are important. It's the people who will be
creating content in the future, and not the other way around. Wikipedia will
inevitably fail without participation. And content... we are already the
largest and the best...

Renata
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

phoebe ayers-3
On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 8:47 PM, Renata St <[hidden email]> wrote:

>>
>> This is to some degree a question of balance in approach.
>>
>> Every day, thousands of absolutely idiotic, non notable articles get
>> started that really have no point or hope.  Every day, new page
>> patrollers find (most) of those, and they go "kerpoof".  It would
>> largely be a waste of time to prod them, mark them "citation needed"
>> talk to the new user.  The user never had any intention of
>> contributing legitimately to an online information resource /
>> encyclopedia, they're just trying to insult/promote/blab about their
>> friend/school/work/favorite whatever.
>>
>> We could emphasize a more positive engagement intended to get the
>> message to these people about what an encyclopedia is, what Wikipedia
>> is, and what contributions would be appropriate.  But by and large
>> these driveby contributions aren't intended to really stick.  They're
>> an advanced form of vandalism, and the perpetrators know it.
>>
>
> That's what I though: "There is too much garbage coming in, too few admins
> to police. There is no way that we can deal with this other than nuke on
> sight and who cares about collateral damage -- we have a war to fight!"
>
> Then one day I stumbled upon Distributed Proofreaders (
> http://www.pgdp.net/c/) and proofread a few pages. I couple days later I
> received *three* *personalized* welcoming messages & evaluations "this is
> what you got right, this is what you should improve". I was shocked. These
> people are overworked, they have huge backlogs, they are stricter about
> quality than the pickiest FAC reviewer, yet three of them found time,
> energy, and good will to write lengthy personalized messages for a newbie
> who reviewed 30 book pages... If it was Wikipedia and I was a newbie with 30
> edits, best case scenario I would have been slapped with {{welcome}} and my
> articles with endless variations of  {{cleanup}}. This opened my eyes that
> there *is* an alternative -- an unthinkable idea for someone born and raised
> up in the Wikipedia battlefield zone.

This is a really interested (and lovely) experience.

I am curious, apropos of this discussion: how many people remember
their welcome message? Did it make you want to stick around?

I do mine, and it did; it was short and to the point and led me into a
little discussion about grammar with my welcomer. I was kind of a jerk
about it, but they (an editor who sadly left the project not long
after) were kind enough to walk me through best practice. Then later
someone else recommended a topic for me to work on, and pointed me to
Wiktionary. It was nice, and gave me the impression there were real,
quirky people behind the project. This was all pre-templates, to date
myself.

I know we've had this discussion many times before -- welcome messages
help, they don't help, they don't make any statistical difference when
it's measured. But I'm actually curious about people's anecdotal
experiences. Presumably if you made it to Foundation-l you did stick
around, after all :)

-- phoebe

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Lodewijk
Would it make sense to have a "be nice" session at Wikimania to share all
kinds of experiences and best practices around this topic?

Phoebe, you sound like the ultimate person to organize such a session (in
case you did not yet propose such) :)

Lodewijk

2011/2/22 phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>

> On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 8:47 PM, Renata St <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >>
> >> This is to some degree a question of balance in approach.
> >>
> >> Every day, thousands of absolutely idiotic, non notable articles get
> >> started that really have no point or hope.  Every day, new page
> >> patrollers find (most) of those, and they go "kerpoof".  It would
> >> largely be a waste of time to prod them, mark them "citation needed"
> >> talk to the new user.  The user never had any intention of
> >> contributing legitimately to an online information resource /
> >> encyclopedia, they're just trying to insult/promote/blab about their
> >> friend/school/work/favorite whatever.
> >>
> >> We could emphasize a more positive engagement intended to get the
> >> message to these people about what an encyclopedia is, what Wikipedia
> >> is, and what contributions would be appropriate.  But by and large
> >> these driveby contributions aren't intended to really stick.  They're
> >> an advanced form of vandalism, and the perpetrators know it.
> >>
> >
> > That's what I though: "There is too much garbage coming in, too few
> admins
> > to police. There is no way that we can deal with this other than nuke on
> > sight and who cares about collateral damage -- we have a war to fight!"
> >
> > Then one day I stumbled upon Distributed Proofreaders (
> > http://www.pgdp.net/c/) and proofread a few pages. I couple days later I
> > received *three* *personalized* welcoming messages & evaluations "this is
> > what you got right, this is what you should improve". I was shocked.
> These
> > people are overworked, they have huge backlogs, they are stricter about
> > quality than the pickiest FAC reviewer, yet three of them found time,
> > energy, and good will to write lengthy personalized messages for a newbie
> > who reviewed 30 book pages... If it was Wikipedia and I was a newbie with
> 30
> > edits, best case scenario I would have been slapped with {{welcome}} and
> my
> > articles with endless variations of  {{cleanup}}. This opened my eyes
> that
> > there *is* an alternative -- an unthinkable idea for someone born and
> raised
> > up in the Wikipedia battlefield zone.
>
> This is a really interested (and lovely) experience.
>
> I am curious, apropos of this discussion: how many people remember
> their welcome message? Did it make you want to stick around?
>
> I do mine, and it did; it was short and to the point and led me into a
> little discussion about grammar with my welcomer. I was kind of a jerk
> about it, but they (an editor who sadly left the project not long
> after) were kind enough to walk me through best practice. Then later
> someone else recommended a topic for me to work on, and pointed me to
> Wiktionary. It was nice, and gave me the impression there were real,
> quirky people behind the project. This was all pre-templates, to date
> myself.
>
> I know we've had this discussion many times before -- welcome messages
> help, they don't help, they don't make any statistical difference when
> it's measured. But I'm actually curious about people's anecdotal
> experiences. Presumably if you made it to Foundation-l you did stick
> around, after all :)
>
> -- phoebe
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Yaroslav M. Blanter
In reply to this post by Renata St


> The core of Wikipedia culture is battleground: fight vandals, nuke their
> articles, whack them and quick! Yes, it is important for the integrity
of
> the encyclopedia. Yes, spam was prophesied to be the end of Wikipedia.
But
> what will surely kill it is lack of participation. And we are killing
the
> participation by whacking it with deletions, clean ups, bans, etc.
>
> We have to make a profound choice in the culture here:
> 1) we continue with the whacking and scaring the newbies away (content
> priority #1, people #2), or
> 2) we embrace the newbies and we let some spam through (people priority
#1,
> content #2).
>
> So far we are steadily moving along the first route. I believe, it is
time
> we switch the priorities. People are important. It's the people who will
be
> creating content in the future, and not the other way around. Wikipedia
> will
> inevitably fail without participation. And content... we are already the
> largest and the best...
>
> Renata

To me it sounds too much black and white. Indeed, there are points you
better not stumble across as an editor: engaging into battles over disputed
content (like Middle East conflict), writing articles on smth with disputed
notability, pushing POV or not getting immediately the image upload rules.
But I assume this is a relatively minor fraction of editors (though of
course it still represents a problem). I can not recall that I ever got any
templates in my articles (I have written over 500 of them since 2007),
except for a couple of times from a bot that there are no links to the
article, and that I ever got any angry comments from admins/other editors
concerning the articles I have written. The only serious problems I got was
when several trolls started to request a source on every word in two of my
articles, and this had nothing to do with the quality of the articles, but
with me being a sysop. So I believe the problem exists but is grossly
exaggerated (though for someone who has to fight for the notability of
his/her only article it may very well be the most serious and grave
problem).

Cheers
Yaroslav

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Michel Vuijlsteke-2
On 22 February 2011 14:14, Yaroslav M. Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> > We have to make a profound choice in the culture here:
> > 1) we continue with the whacking and scaring the newbies away (content
> > priority #1, people #2), or
> > 2) we embrace the newbies and we let some spam through (people priority
> #1,
> > content #2).
> >
> > So far we are steadily moving along the first route. I believe, it is
> time
> > we switch the priorities. People are important. It's the people who will
> be
> > creating content in the future, and not the other way around. Wikipedia
> > will
> > inevitably fail without participation. And content... we are already the
> > largest and the best...
> >
> > Renata
>
> To me it sounds too much black and white. Indeed, there are points you
> better not stumble across as an editor: engaging into battles over disputed
> content (like Middle East conflict), writing articles on smth with disputed
> notability, pushing POV or not getting immediately the image upload rules.
> But I assume this is a relatively minor fraction of editors (though of
> course it still represents a problem). I can not recall that I ever got any
> templates in my articles (I have written over 500 of them since 2007),
> except for a couple of times from a bot that there are no links to the
> article, and that I ever got any angry comments from admins/other editors
> concerning the articles I have written.
>

I don't think it has to be as obviously annoying as slathering templates all
over pages or wikilawyering the newbies away -- it's often much more subtle
how content/data seems to be considered more important than people.

One interaction I encountered recently is typical. Michiel Hendryckx, one of
Belgium's best-known photographers, started uploading fairly
high-resolution, good quality images to Wikipedia (well, Commons) on 3 July
2010. Stuff like this 1983 Chet Baker portrait:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chet675.jpg

The first message on his talk page was a request to confirm his identity
(which he did).

The second message was a complaint by Nikbot (no valid license for one
particular image). A couple of hours later, at 10:51 on 4 July, the next
message is from CategorizationBot, asking Hendryckx to add categories to his
images.

The third message, not six hours later, was this:

*Please categorize our images !!!*
You already have been asked by a bot to categorize your images. Therefore I
don't understand why you keep on uploading images without categories.
Uploading images without categorizing them doesn't make sense. Only
categorized images can be found!


I'm pretty sure the user in question meant really well, but *this* is what
that focusing on content over people means to me. It's in the small things,
the interactions that experienced Wikipedians take in their stride, but that
can end up scaring people away.

It's like the last message on Hendryckx' talk page, dated 1 February 2011: a
notification that one if this images is listed at commons:deletion requests,
and to "please do not take the deletion request personally... thank you!".
Follow the link to the discussion (
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Deletion_requests/File:Van_istendael675.jpg):
turns out the requester couldn't see the image. His/her first action was to
nominate the image for deletion. Took about three hours for someone to
confirm that no, the image works perfectly fine for them, and about five
hours for the original person to close the deletion request ("thanks").

Again: content over people. No personal interaction with the photographer,
no message on the photographer's talk page after the deletion request was
closed, nothing. The last interaction Hendryckx had on Commons -- on 19
February, almost three weeks after the deletion request was closed -- was a
baffled question (
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Deletion_requests/File:Van_istendael675.jpg),
asking what on Earth is wrong with the image, and that he'd like to at least
know why it needed to be deleted.

Again, I'm sure the user in question meant really well again, but here too:
content over people. Drive-by templating, shoot first, don't ask questions,
don't even provide feedback, trust people will read every last word in the
templates, etc.

Michel Vuijlsteke
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Renata St
>
> Again: content over people. No personal interaction with the photographer,
> no message on the photographer's talk page after the deletion request was
> closed, nothing.
>
> Again, I'm sure the user in question meant really well again, but here too:
> content over people. Drive-by templating, shoot first, don't ask questions,
> don't even provide feedback, trust people will read every last word in the
> templates, etc.
>

Precisely.

Renata
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by Lodewijk
On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 2:15 AM, Lodewijk <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Would it make sense to have a "be nice" session at Wikimania to share all
> kinds of experiences and best practices around this topic?
> Phoebe, you sound like the ultimate person to organize such a session (in
> case you did not yet propose such) :)
> Lodewijk

Sounds like a great best practices session, if well organized (focused
on techniques that worked, perhaps); I think we can all sit around and
give examples of problems all day long, but I'd be interested in a
Wikimania session in cross-wiki comparisons and ideas on what works
best on a broad scale.

I am usually pretty overworked, tired and cranky at Wikimania, though
:) So perhaps I'm not the best person to run it! Someone should
propose it if there's interest though.

-- phoebe

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Erik Moeller-4
In reply to this post by Michel Vuijlsteke-2
2011/2/22 Michel Vuijlsteke <[hidden email]>:

> One interaction I encountered recently is typical. Michiel Hendryckx, one of
> Belgium's best-known photographers, started uploading fairly
> high-resolution, good quality images to Wikipedia (well, Commons) on 3 July
> 2010. Stuff like this 1983 Chet Baker portrait:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chet675.jpg
>
> The first message on his talk page was a request to confirm his identity
> (which he did).
>
> The second message was a complaint by Nikbot (no valid license for one
> particular image). A couple of hours later, at 10:51 on 4 July, the next
> message is from CategorizationBot, asking Hendryckx to add categories to his
> images.

This is where it starts. Thousands of our users have their first
interactions with a bot or with a user leaving a template. We're
unlikely to alter our practice to completely abandon bots and talk
page templates (although we can improve our software to give more
direct user feedback which makes bots and automated messages
unnecessary, e.g. for something like missing categories), but while
we're still using them, we really need to pay more attention to what
they are saying.

IMO every single Wikimedia project would benefit from dedicated
community effort to 1) catalog the most widely used templates on talk
pages, 2) systematically improve them with an eye on the impact they
can have on whether people feel their work is valued and the
environment in which they're contributing is a positive and welcoming
one. This is something that anyone can help with, right now.

The messages left by CategorizationBot are an example of the issues
with our current and approach. There's only very limited
acknowledgment of the user's valuable contribution, there's no
explanation what the message represents (is it a warning, a reminder,
what?), there's no invitation to turn off the message if it's not
wanted, there's immediate and unexplained use of jargon like "image
description page", and the overall message sounds like "You've done
something wrong, please fix it and ask for help if you need it". All
of this drives towards rules-compliance and against shared ownership
of community norms and practices.

Specifically with regard to this message, I've left some suggestions
for improvement here:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template_talk:Please_link_images/en

I'm not saying that the suggested changes are a vast improvement, but
I think that's the kind of conversation we need to be having.
Obviously we don't want fake friendliness and personality in our bots
and templates, but at the same time, I think we should strike a tone
and use language that's consistent with the culture we want to create.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Sue Gardner-2
On 22 February 2011 12:02, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:
> IMO every single Wikimedia project would benefit from dedicated
> community effort to 1) catalog the most widely used templates on talk
> pages, 2) systematically improve them with an eye on the impact they
> can have on whether people feel their work is valued and the
> environment in which they're contributing is a positive and welcoming
> one. This is something that anyone can help with, right now.

+1 :-)

I spent some time this weekend on New User Contributions on the
English Wikipedia, reading the talk pages of new people who'd been
trying to make constructive edits. I was trying to imagine the world
through their eyes --- what their early experiences felt like. Some
had welcome templates and some didn't, and many also had templates
added that were probably intimidating for new people (warnings and
corrections of various kinds, mostly).

So yes, I think efforts to make templates and bot notices friendlier
would be time well spent.

I also wonder if we do any templating that's meant to be purely
encouraging good behaviour. Like, "Your edits to [x] article were
constructive and useful: thank you for helping Wikipedia," or "You
have just made your 100th edit: congratulations." That kind of thing.
Does anyone know: do we do much of that? And if not, should we?

Thanks,
Sue

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

David Gerard-2
On 22 February 2011 21:38, Sue Gardner <[hidden email]> wrote:

> +1 :-)
> I spent some time this weekend on New User Contributions on the
> English Wikipedia, reading the talk pages of new people who'd been
> trying to make constructive edits. I was trying to imagine the world
> through their eyes --- what their early experiences felt like. Some
> had welcome templates and some didn't, and many also had templates
> added that were probably intimidating for new people (warnings and
> corrections of various kinds, mostly).


People see these templates and assume they're bot-created and nothing
to do with humans. Which is pretty close, considering many are placed
on pages using automated tools.

The wording on almost all needs severe culling. [[m:Instruction
creep]] was written in 2004 and remains largely unheeded in practice.

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Instruction_creep


- d.

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Marc Riddell
In reply to this post by Sue Gardner-2

> On 22 February 2011 12:02, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> IMO every single Wikimedia project would benefit from dedicated
>> community effort to 1) catalog the most widely used templates on talk
>> pages, 2) systematically improve them with an eye on the impact they
>> can have on whether people feel their work is valued and the
>> environment in which they're contributing is a positive and welcoming
>> one. This is something that anyone can help with, right now.
>
> +1 :-)
>
on 2/22/11 4:38 PM, Sue Gardner at [hidden email] wrote:

> I spent some time this weekend on New User Contributions on the
> English Wikipedia, reading the talk pages of new people who'd been
> trying to make constructive edits. I was trying to imagine the world
> through their eyes --- what their early experiences felt like. Some
> had welcome templates and some didn't, and many also had templates
> added that were probably intimidating for new people (warnings and
> corrections of various kinds, mostly).
>
> So yes, I think efforts to make templates and bot notices friendlier
> would be time well spent.
>
> I also wonder if we do any templating that's meant to be purely
> encouraging good behaviour. Like, "Your edits to [x] article were
> constructive and useful: thank you for helping Wikipedia," or "You
> have just made your 100th edit: congratulations." That kind of thing.
> Does anyone know: do we do much of that? And if not, should we?
>
I don't know whether or not it's done now, Sue, but it's a great idea!

Marc Riddell


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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Sam Klein
In reply to this post by Renata St
Renata,  I really loved this message of yours, and the reminder of how
awesome PGDP is :-)

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 11:47 PM, Renata St <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> We could emphasize a more positive engagement intended to get the
>> message to these people about what an encyclopedia is, what Wikipedia
>> is, and what contributions would be appropriate.  But by and large
>> these driveby contributions aren't intended to really stick.  They're
>> an advanced form of vandalism, and the perpetrators know it.

I don't think they are advanced  vandalism.  I see them as the first
step towards becoming a solid contributor.  Anyone who doesn't intend
to spam or vandalize, and has already done the hardest part --
learning that there is an edit button! -- is a community asset to be
helped and supported.

> That's what I thought: "There is too much garbage coming in, too few admins
> to police. There is no way that we can deal with this other than nuke on
> sight and who cares about collateral damage -- we have a war to fight!"
>
> Then one day I stumbled upon Distributed Proofreaders (
> http://www.pgdp.net/c/) and proofread a few pages. I couple days later I
> received *three* *personalized* welcoming messages & evaluations "this is
> what you got right, this is what you should improve". I was shocked. These
> people are overworked, they have huge backlogs, they are stricter about
> quality than the pickiest FAC reviewer, yet three of them found time,
> energy, and good will to write lengthy personalized messages for a newbie
> who reviewed 30 book pages...

We can learn a lot from them.

We need significant, persistent attention to this problem; not simply
a few social gatherings to talk about it at annual meetings.  Some
cross-project banner campaigns to promote being welcoming might help
-- but first we need specific welcoming projects that could use the
input of thousands of participants.

Two places to start:

1. Make a few newbie-helping pages *really* friendly -- moderate how
we use them, change local policy there, make them sources of joy and
acknowledgement.  Ask newbies mentored through those channels to give
back time to help others there, after their first week. (this helps
make it sustainable even if thousands of people show up there)

2. Set up a noticeboard to discuss hard problems involving supporting
/ biting newbies.  A place to discuss improving New Page Patrol,
improving and shortening template style used by major bots, improving
bot friendliness and sensitivity.  A place to review incidents needing
attention by welcomers and supporters (to balance attention by
vandalfighters)

To address 1.,  I've started monitoring [[WP:EAR]] and [[WP:WQA]]
(editor assistance requests, and wikiquette alerts) on en:wp, and
encourage others to do the same (or to choose other newbie pages to
watch).

To address 2., I am drafting a noticeboard about editing and
supporting editors, and welcome comments and contributions there:
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sj/EN
In my mind, this noticeboard would be a place to discuss how to fix
talk-templates, how to improve the guidelines for approving bots to
make sure they are sufficiently friendly, &c.  It could also have a
subboard for tracking 'incidents' to counterbalance pages like AN/I.

Regards,
SJ

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Sue Gardner-2
Sue Gardner wrote:
> I spent some time this weekend on New User Contributions on the
> English Wikipedia, reading the talk pages of new people who'd been
> trying to make constructive edits. I was trying to imagine the world
> through their eyes --- what their early experiences felt like. Some
> had welcome templates and some didn't, and many also had templates
> added that were probably intimidating for new people (warnings and
> corrections of various kinds, mostly).

You should try gaining the other perspective: thousands of edits each hour
from people all over the world, a decent-sized percentage of which are
purely malicious and another decent-sized percentage of which are completely
clueless.

Wikipedia's treatment of new users is a response to the fire hose of edits
that come into the site. The only way to fight such a stream has been to
develop quick or automated tools. Based on my numbers, the English Wikipedia
gets about 4800 new users per day. While it'd be nice to be able to welcome
every user individually, for example, it isn't practical on any large site.
If you were going to do something more useful than welcoming users, you're
talking about dealing with about 180,000 edits per day and an active user
base of ... maybe 10,000 users?

It might be nice to improve some of the language in welcoming templates and
give personalized thank you messages for particularly good contributions,
but with finite resources, there are much bigger issues that need focus and
attention. (I'll side-step the issue of _why_ participation, as opposed to
article quality, is viewed as so important by Wikimedia for now.)

MZMcBride



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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Sam Klein
On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> You should try gaining the other perspective: thousands of edits each hour
> from people all over the world,
> a decent-sized percentage of which are purely malicious and

These we should handle in automated fashion.

> another decent-sized percentage of which are completely clueless.

These people who love helping others should handle in script-assisted fashion.

> Wikipedia's treatment of new users is a response to the fire hose of edits
> that come into the site. The only way to fight such a stream has been to
> develop quick or automated tools. Based on my numbers, the English
> Wikipedia gets about 4800 new users per day. While it'd be nice to be
> able to welcome every user individually, for example, it isn't practical on
> any large site.

This is a peculiar perspective.  The # of potential welcomers scales
with community size, along with the # of new users.   The only
question is what channels are in place to attract long-term
contribution and collaboration, and what sorts of activities are
amplified by good tools.

Currently, we honor and respect page deletion, anti-vandalism, and
user blocking, for two reasons.
1) there is a constant battle involved; it is one of the self v. other
wars that shapes our group identity
2) we have created a group of 'special' users defined around access to
those tools, so people who want to become admins spend time on that
work; and people who do that work are confirmed as special and imbued
with a halo of authority that (despite some claims that adminships
should be no big deal) seeps into all aspects of policy and
process-creation.


> If you were going to do something more useful than welcoming users,
> you're talking about dealing with about 180,000 edits per day and an
> active user base of ... maybe 10,000 users?

To be clear: those 180,000 edits per day are the source of future
active users.  By rejecting them or dealing with them summarily we are
simply committing ourselves to remaining at our current community
flavor and size (if there is no channel for becoming a champion
welcomer, people who like to socialize with and welcome others will
never join the community)

> but with finite resources, there are much bigger issues that need focus and
> attention.

The idea that we have finite human/community resources is interesting,
but a red herring.

30% of the entire Internet visits our sites every month.  We can dream
up any community structure we want, any combination of collaborative
channels, any set of creative or repetitive, simple or complex tasks
-- and find people interested in making that idea happen.  We could be
our own social network; we could ask people to participate in a local
photography project like geograph.co.uk and cover dozens of countries
in a matter of weeks; we could start randomly matching millions of
readers with one another as knowledge-seeking penpals.

Each of these would require designing appropriate channels and tools;
naming the work we'd like to see; and welcoming people who do that.

> (I'll side-step the issue of _why_ participation, as opposed to
> article quality, is viewed as so important by Wikimedia for now.)

We're far from covering 'the worlds knowledge' in any language,
dramatically so in most languages, participation is dropping, and many
of our best / most prolific current participants feel that it's
unpleasant rather than rewarding to contribute.  Whereas there is no
known impact on article quality stemming from being more welcoming
(aside from 'No September!' fear-mongering), and in fact history
suggests that more and more diverse participants likely has a positive
effect on overall quality despite the need to teach newbies how to be
an effective contributor.

SJ

--
Samuel Klein          identi.ca:sj           w:user:sj          +1 617 529 4266

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Aude-2
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 4:47 PM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 22 February 2011 21:38, Sue Gardner <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > +1 :-)
> > I spent some time this weekend on New User Contributions on the
> > English Wikipedia, reading the talk pages of new people who'd been
> > trying to make constructive edits. I was trying to imagine the world
> > through their eyes --- what their early experiences felt like. Some
> > had welcome templates and some didn't, and many also had templates
> > added that were probably intimidating for new people (warnings and
> > corrections of various kinds, mostly).
>
>
> People see these templates and assume they're bot-created and nothing
> to do with humans. Which is pretty close, considering many are placed
> on pages using automated tools.
>
> The wording on almost all needs severe culling. [[m:Instruction
> creep]] was written in 2004 and remains largely unheeded in practice.
>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Instruction_creep
>
>
Not on Wikipedia, but I recently wrote to my senator and got a template
e-mail response that totally didn't address my inquiry.  They totally didn't
look at what I wrote!  Boo!!!!  That left a terrible impression of my
senator!  Why would I ever want to deal with them again? Why waste my time!
Why ever vote for them? They don't care enough to listen to their
constituents. (duh, we know that, but still)

Quite sure if was a Wikipedia newbie and got templates on my talk page, I
would feel quite the same way.  Why bother with Wikipedia?  It's important
that a human listens and there is human interaction, and ideally it would be
awesome to expand the ambassador program and have people to help out newbies
more.  I don't know how much capacity we have but definitely would like to
see that.

Cheers,
Katie (aude)




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> - d.
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

metasj
I would estimate that we could reach a few thousand new people a day
who are not editors, but would be glad to do something practical to
help wikipedia.   That's my mental baseline for how much support we
could tap if we found a way to match each of those people to something
they wanted to do.

When we put out the call for contribution to the strategic planning
process, we got a couple thousand people who were willing to go
through quite an arduous process to help.  We could easily get ten
times that to do something more down-to-earth.

> It's important that a human listens and there is human interaction...
> it would be awesome to expand the ambassador program and have
> people to help out newbies more.  I don't know how much capacity we
> have but definitely  would like to see that.

So I think this is a question of defining what is needed, more than capacity.

If we put out a public call for 'newbie ambasadors', noting that
experience with editing isn't needed but an interest in learning how
others edit is, and asking people to help mentor new editors (you may
not have anything to edit about, but we will pair you with someone who
does and may be doing it wrong...  help them figure out how!),  I
think we could easily draw in a thousand solid new helpers a month to
a related program.

The question might become one of giving them all something to do every
week, so that they stay involved and interested.

But then MZMcBride could provide them with a constant stream of
clueless editors :)

S.

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Aude-2
In reply to this post by Sam Klein
On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 6:19 PM, Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>wrote:

>
> On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > If you were going to do something more useful than welcoming users,
> > you're talking about dealing with about 180,000 edits per day and an
> > active user base of ... maybe 10,000 users?
>
> To be clear: those 180,000 edits per day are the source of future
> active users.  By rejecting them or dealing with them summarily we are
> simply committing ourselves to remaining at our current community
> flavor and size (if there is no channel for becoming a champion
> welcomer, people who like to socialize with and welcome others will
> never join the community)
>

One aspect that bites particularly hard is the rapid speedy deletions of new
articles.  Yes, many are nonsense and should be deleted immediately.  Some
are more borderline, not obvious nonsense but have some major issue.

What about having some staging area to put articles in that otherwise would
go to speedy deletion?  Maybe userfy pages or some other place for them? One
possible way to do this is to require new users to make their first article,
with use of the article creation wizard (or similar tool) and have the pages
go into a review queue like:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Articles_for_creation/Submissions

Once they get one approved here, then automatically give them permission to
directly create articles.  Still, keep the wizard somewhere handy for
newbies if they want if for their second, third, ... article.

One aspect, not that easy to find, of the article creation wizard is there
is a live chat feature where you can ask questions and get help.  It's a
wonderful feature and the people in the channel are very helpful. (but we
would need more helpers there, if we were to scale this up)

I suggest we look at refining the article creation wizard and chat tools,
and evaluate ways to better incorporate into the experience for new users.

Cheers,
Katie (aude)




> SJ
>
> --
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> 4266
>
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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Sam Klein
Samuel Klein wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> You should try gaining the other perspective: thousands of edits each hour
>> from people all over the world,
>> a decent-sized percentage of which are purely malicious and
>
> These we should handle in automated fashion.
>
>> another decent-sized percentage of which are completely clueless.
>
> These people who love helping others should handle in script-assisted fashion.

[...]

>> but with finite resources, there are much bigger issues that need focus and
>> attention.
>
> The idea that we have finite human/community resources is interesting,
> but a red herring.

Really, it's a red herring? You're talking about making automated
anti-vandalism tools and implementing script-assisted tools for clueless
users. Who do you think writes those tools? While there's a sizeable
volunteer development base surrounding MediaWiki, most large tech projects
(AbuseFilter, LiquidThreads, UploadWizard, ResourceLoader, etc.) require
paid developers, of which there are precious few. Even "high priority"
projects can and do quickly get placed on the backburner (inquire about
LiquidThreads development sometime), so it's not so much a red herring as it
is the reality, as I see it. If you have contrary evidence, I'd be very
interested to read it.

While it's often overlooked, MediaWiki is the current bedrock of all
Wikimedia wikis and it clearly does not have an abundance of resources.
Wikimedia has a small budget; what isn't spent on outreach, fundraising, and
non-tech staff gets allocated to the tech side. With this in mind, I'll
stand by my statements that there is a finite amount of resources and that
it's wasteful to be devoting time and energy on the very low-hanging fruit
like the text of welcome templates.

> 30% of the entire Internet visits our sites every month.  We can dream
> up any community structure we want, any combination of collaborative
> channels, any set of creative or repetitive, simple or complex tasks
> -- and find people interested in making that idea happen.  We could be
> our own social network; we could ask people to participate in a local
> photography project like geograph.co.uk and cover dozens of countries
> in a matter of weeks; we could start randomly matching millions of
> readers with one another as knowledge-seeking penpals.

Visits, but how many of those people contribute? 100,000 "active" users out
of 400,000,000 million views per month? Is that about right? You're talking
about .025% of visitors in this community you're dreaming up. Making bold
claims like "30% of the entire Internet" is great for Wikipedia advertising,
but drawing conclusions such as "we can make any community we want with so
many people!" is rather silly.

> Each of these would require designing appropriate channels and tools;
> naming the work we'd like to see; and welcoming people who do that.

More channels and tools? Sounds like more development work. Do you some
secret store of developers? :-)

MZMcBride



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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

Sam Klein
tl;dr:  we can attract thousands of new contributors with almost any
combination of skills and availability, if we ask nicely.  what should
we ask for first?


== Herring talk ==

On Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 6:50 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> The idea that we have finite human/community resources is interesting,
>> but a red herring.
>
> Really, it's a red herring?

Red herrings are real, but only seem to be related to the problem
being solved.  When discussing how to remove barriers to
participation, a premature limiting of what we consider based on
currently-identified resources is a (common) red herring.

Depending on context, the investment of energy into removing barriers
to entry may net additional community resources.  Or it may leave
total 'available' community resources the same, while expanding the
community or changing its balance.


== Tech talk ==

> You're talking about making automated
> anti-vandalism tools and implementing script-assisted tools for clueless
> users. Who do you think writes those tools? While there's a sizeable
> volunteer development base surrounding MediaWiki, most large tech
> projects (AbuseFilter, LiquidThreads, UploadWizard, ResourceLoader,
> etc.)

I love these large projects.  but the ones that make the most
difference to newbies and contributors (AWB, Twinkle, pywb) are often
'small' or bootstrapping projects.

> require paid developers, of which there are precious few.

There's a shortage of core developers.  There are quite a lot of PHP
developers who have built some sort of MediaWiki extension, or
otherwise hacked on it to make their own fork, however.  We have some
opportunities here to recruit more of them as well -- some way of
encouraging each downloader to get involved, or one-click sharing of
their local hacks with a global community?  I'm not sure; but this is
certainly another case of "how can we embrace people who take the
first step to join us" worth solving.


> While it's often overlooked, MediaWiki is the current bedrock of all
> Wikimedia wikis and it clearly does not have an abundance of resources.

A projects-wide campaign to improve mediawiki or attract new technical
contributors would also be a fine idea.


== Grep talk ==

>> 30% of the entire Internet visits our sites every month.  We can dream
>
> Visits, but how many of those people contribute? 100,000 "active" users
> out of 400,000,000 million views per month? Is that about right?

This is my point: a significant portion of our readers would be glad
to help Wikipedia, but don't know how.  (possibly half of all readers
never see an 'edit' tab, thanks to semi-protection.  many edit
anonymously.  roughly 10,000 new editors start editing en:wp each
month [over 1/4 the total "active" population!], but most quickly
leave, never even reaching the "10 edits" threshhold for
autoconfirmation on en:wp)

If we create a clear way to help -- for instance, by inviting people
who don't themselves feel they have anything to write to help others
learn how to write effectively -- we will start drawing on a pool of
"actively interested" users who are not editors but have time and
expertise to share.

> Making bold
> claims like "30% of the entire Internet" is great for Wikipedia advertising

Is it good for advertising?  (advertising what?)

I'm simply pointing out what a large, diverse readership means for our
capacity to attract involvement from groups with targeted combinations
of  interest, talent, and availability.

> More channels and tools? Sounds like more development work. Do you
> some secret store of developers? :-)

Often a 'channel' is nothing more than the definition of a project, a
wiki space for trying something new, and a social guideline for what a
group should be doing... a 'tool' can be nothing more than a new
template and a few modified bots.

We should perhaps be training another few hundred editors to maintain
and use bots and client-side scripts (this may be a good channel to
work on; anyone who'se made a thousand edits should get a basic
tutorial in this to help them make routine tasks easier), but I don't
see this as a bottleneck yet.

S

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Re: Friendliness (was: Missing Wikipedians: An Essay)

WJhonson
In reply to this post by Renata St
In a message dated 2/22/2011 10:16:25 PM Pacific Standard Time,
[hidden email] writes:


> There's a shortage of core developers.  There are quite a lot of PHP
> developers who have built some sort of MediaWiki extension, or
> otherwise hacked on it to make their own fork, however.  We have some
> opportunities here to recruit more of them as well -- some way of
> encouraging each downloader to get involved, or one-click sharing of
> their local hacks with a global community?  I'm not sure; but this is
> certainly another case of "how can we embrace people who take the
> first step to join us" worth solving.
>

AdSense Integration.
The ability for a MediaWiki install (retroactive to earlier releases) to
stick Adsense ads in where they want.
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