[Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

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[Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Yaroslav Blanter
I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
apologize in advance.

Cheers
Yaroslav
_________________
I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
more complicated.

Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not so
much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first hit
— they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.

In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
"A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the number
of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content in a
meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They have
been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a large
scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources to
maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no problems
- there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American view
dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and sustainable
project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
steady development, and everybody is happy.

Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by writing
them ourselves?

Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit it
from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and a
laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course exceptions,
but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem. The
problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-) has
very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when they
grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be done
from a phone.

Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready to
take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well, and
very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be happy
if we do not lose them as readers.

I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
pages from a book.

Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
the rest of the text does not make sense.

The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.

This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that it
is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more complete.
Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable topics
and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there are
plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
make clips, everybody can.

The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles shorter
and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second, such
reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the project.
The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the community
is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops who
have no difficulties reading long texts.

I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now, but
on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to. Some
of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can be
solved. If anybody wants to solve it.

The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if I
come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up into
a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I currently,
at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company, or
a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and happens
to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of pieces
of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.

Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
000 edits.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Frederick Noronha
> However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
hit
> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.

Yaroslav, Which world are you talking about? North America and Europe?

When it comes to Asia (which I'm part of) and Africa, possibly Latin
America too, we haven't even written down 1% of the diversity of these
places. Leave aside getting it up onto the Wikipedia!

Of course, I agree with the suggestion for new approaches (if I read you
right). This is particularly true in a part of the world where much of the
discussion is still in the oral domain, is often not in print; when it's in
print, it is not digitised. Even when digitised, chances are that it's in a
non-English language, which is very hard to find very search engines. (No
wonder that some of the prominent people from our regions are continually
getting dismissed as non-notable, which I see as another form of 'systemic
bias').

Give it a thought, please.

Frederick Noronha
Goa

On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 03:05, Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> apologize in advance.
>

--
FN* फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या * فريدريك نورونيا‎ +91-9822122436
AUDIO: https://archive.org/details/@fredericknoronha
TEXT: http://bit.ly/2SBx41G PIX: http://bit.ly/2Rs1xhl
Can't get through on mobile? Please SMS/WhatsApp
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Yaroslav Blanter
Hi Frederick.

sure, I know. I am mostly writing about Russia, and I know there are a lot
of topics which are not covered. I am usually the first one who says that
there are many topics to even start an article on, and way more to improve.

But let us face it - if an English-speaking person looks for something in
the English Wikipedia they are most likely to find it. The articles I
create are definitely useful, but they get dozens of views per year.This is
one of the reason we lose editors.

But my point is that we are about to lose most of our editors - at least in
the first world countries which produce the most contribution in the
English Wikipedia, USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New
Zealand. I guess India is different, but the trend is global, I think it is
just a matter of time when it comes to that in India as well. And if
Wikipedia would die in these countries, it will die in India as well.

Cheers
Yaroslav

On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 11:14 PM Frederick Noronha <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> > However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> > much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> > already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> > or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
> hit
> > &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>
> Yaroslav, Which world are you talking about? North America and Europe?
>
> When it comes to Asia (which I'm part of) and Africa, possibly Latin
> America too, we haven't even written down 1% of the diversity of these
> places. Leave aside getting it up onto the Wikipedia!
>
> Of course, I agree with the suggestion for new approaches (if I read you
> right). This is particularly true in a part of the world where much of the
> discussion is still in the oral domain, is often not in print; when it's in
> print, it is not digitised. Even when digitised, chances are that it's in a
> non-English language, which is very hard to find very search engines. (No
> wonder that some of the prominent people from our regions are continually
> getting dismissed as non-notable, which I see as another form of 'systemic
> bias').
>
> Give it a thought, please.
>
> Frederick Noronha
> Goa
>
> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 03:05, Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> > this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> > that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> > comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
> target
> > audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> > Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> > several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> > apologize in advance.
> >
>
> --
> FN* फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या * فريدريك نورونيا‎ +91-9822122436
> AUDIO: https://archive.org/details/@fredericknoronha
> TEXT: http://bit.ly/2SBx41G PIX: http://bit.ly/2Rs1xhl
> Can't get through on mobile? Please SMS/WhatsApp
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Joseph Seddon-6
Ahhhh it's always nice to quote someone other than Mike Godwin and it seems
Betteridge's law of headlines is alive and well. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines


On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 10:26 PM Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Frederick.
>
> sure, I know. I am mostly writing about Russia, and I know there are a lot
> of topics which are not covered. I am usually the first one who says that
> there are many topics to even start an article on, and way more to improve.
>
> But let us face it - if an English-speaking person looks for something in
> the English Wikipedia they are most likely to find it. The articles I
> create are definitely useful, but they get dozens of views per year.This is
> one of the reason we lose editors.
>
> But my point is that we are about to lose most of our editors - at least in
> the first world countries which produce the most contribution in the
> English Wikipedia, USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New
> Zealand. I guess India is different, but the trend is global, I think it is
> just a matter of time when it comes to that in India as well. And if
> Wikipedia would die in these countries, it will die in India as well.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
>
> On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 11:14 PM Frederick Noronha <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > > However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> > > much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have
> been
> > > already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia
> -
> > > or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
> > hit
> > > &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99%
> chance.
> >
> > Yaroslav, Which world are you talking about? North America and Europe?
> >
> > When it comes to Asia (which I'm part of) and Africa, possibly Latin
> > America too, we haven't even written down 1% of the diversity of these
> > places. Leave aside getting it up onto the Wikipedia!
> >
> > Of course, I agree with the suggestion for new approaches (if I read you
> > right). This is particularly true in a part of the world where much of
> the
> > discussion is still in the oral domain, is often not in print; when it's
> in
> > print, it is not digitised. Even when digitised, chances are that it's
> in a
> > non-English language, which is very hard to find very search engines. (No
> > wonder that some of the prominent people from our regions are continually
> > getting dismissed as non-notable, which I see as another form of
> 'systemic
> > bias').
> >
> > Give it a thought, please.
> >
> > Frederick Noronha
> > Goa
> >
> > On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 03:05, Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> > > this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> > > that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want
> to
> > > comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
> > target
> > > audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> > > Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the
> first
> > > several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> > > apologize in advance.
> > >
> >
> > --
> > FN* फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या * فريدريك نورونيا‎ +91-9822122436
> > AUDIO: https://archive.org/details/@fredericknoronha
> > TEXT: http://bit.ly/2SBx41G PIX: http://bit.ly/2Rs1xhl
> > Can't get through on mobile? Please SMS/WhatsApp
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>



--
Seddon

*Community and Audience Engagement Associate*
*Advancement (Fundraising), Wikimedia Foundation*
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Benjamin Lees
You paint the problem as being about us adapting to changing
demographics.  I'm not so sure--if only because the notion of
attention-impaired millennials appears to be one of those
self-propagating ideas whose supposed statistical support turns out to
be fabricated.[1][2]  If the concern is about getting more _readers_,
by providing a digestible version of articles, Google already attempts
to do that, and I'm sure we'll see better efforts down the line.

I think the bigger problem, and I'm not breaking any new ground here,
is that our vectors for bringing people into the editing fold may be
shrinking.  Short versions of articles, whether we provide them or
Google does, do not readily lend themselves to participation by
outsiders.  Mobile devices are inherently challenging to edit with:
the WMF rightly has great people working to make it easier, but at the
end of the day, I don't know if I would have ever started editing if
I'd had to do it on a phone. (I hope my millennial brethren are
hardier than I am.)  And, as Frederick notes, even if someone gets to
the point of editing, finding sources that we consider acceptable is
going to be hardest for the areas in which we're most lacking
coverage.  These are hard problems, and I don't claim to have the
solutions, but I don't know if your proposals would help on this
front.

In any event, "slowly d[ying]" doesn't quite seem "imminent".  Call it
a side issue, but I'd prefer not to be clickbaited on this list.

Emufarmers, editor, a few edits

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/health-38896790
[2] There's gotta be some Person's Law I can cite here, right?

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Yaroslav Blanter
Yaroslav Blanter wrote in part:

>This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
>it is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
>complete. Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and
>without followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe
>notable topics and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in
>use.  Of course they still need to be made, but this is not such a big
>problem - there are plenty of school students who have their own youtube
>channel, if they can make clips, everybody can.
>
>[...]
>
>I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
>but on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
>articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
>read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
>categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
>needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
>references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
>and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
>Some of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a
>difficulty that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure
>this one can be solved. If anybody wants to solve it.

Regarding your subject line, I think
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines> very
clearly applies. :-)  No, the death of Wikipedia is not imminent.

I agree with a few of your points. For example, I agree that it should be
easier to edit from a mobile device or tablet. (Though the simple
counter-argument has often been that doing research sometimes does require
a physically larger working space and that's not really a fact to be
ashamed of.) I also agree that we need more and better multimedia within
wiki projects. In particular, we need better videos, better animations,
and better images.

That said, I'm not sure I understand what your concern is with long
articles or lots of text. As your post here and my reply hopefully
demonstrates, it's possible to have a long text and only interact with a
piece of it. In terms of user interface, it is trivial to hide or collapse
text if we want to. The default mobile view on Wikipedia collapses most
sections of an article and only the introductory paragraphs are expanded.
If readers find the default desktop view too overwhelming, we could hide
or not even load every paragraph on the initial view.

I think we want to be in a position where we have too much information and
can hide some of it or filter out the "noise" as needed, instead of being
in the opposite position of not having enough content and not being able
to adequately serve our readers' needs.

Or put more directly, if we have 50,000 words about the early life of
Britney Spears, someone who's interested in researching where she was born
does not need to read 50,000 words, they hopefully only need to read a few
words in an infobox or in the relevant paragraph in a section of an
article. Using Wikipedia and Wikidata as sources, we can also expand
interactions such as query/answer services that would allow a user to
simply ask "Where was Britney Spears born?" and get a direct, sourced
answer. The content is still the centerpiece, while we create and adapt
how the content is accessed.

A large part of what has made Wikipedia successful has been its open
license. Readers and editors enjoy and can embrace free content. If a
successor project comes along and can use the same free content in a
better way, we should welcome that. That isn't the death of Wikipedia,
that's a continuation and evolution of it, in my opinion.

And we should be open to a better future. The current model of having a
very top-heavy Wikimedia Foundation Inc. headquartered in San Francisco is
bad. While we never want to conflate change with improvement, there's
plenty of room for the latter.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Peter Southwood
In reply to this post by Yaroslav Blanter
Hi Yaroslav,
Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you have described reasonably well.
Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in mobile. This would not be needed for all articles.
Cheers,
Peter Southwood

-----Original Message-----
From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
To: Wikimedia Mailing List
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
apologize in advance.

Cheers
Yaroslav
_________________
I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
more complicated.

Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not so
much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first hit
&#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.

In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
"A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the number
of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content in a
meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They have
been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a large
scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources to
maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no problems
- there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American view
dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and sustainable
project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
steady development, and everybody is happy.

Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by writing
them ourselves?

Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit it
from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and a
laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course exceptions,
but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem. The
problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-) has
very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when they
grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be done
from a phone.

Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready to
take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well, and
very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be happy
if we do not lose them as readers.

I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
pages from a book.

Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
the rest of the text does not make sense.

The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.

This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that it
is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more complete.
Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable topics
and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there are
plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
make clips, everybody can.

The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles shorter
and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second, such
reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the project.
The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the community
is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops who
have no difficulties reading long texts.

I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now, but
on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to. Some
of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can be
solved. If anybody wants to solve it.

The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if I
come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up into
a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I currently,
at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company, or
a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and happens
to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of pieces
of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.

Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
000 edits.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Jane Darnell
I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
reflect editability and it doesn't.

On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Yaroslav,
> Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
> have described reasonably well.
> Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
> Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
> perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
> I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
> summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
> need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
> from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in mobile.
> This would not be needed for all articles.
> Cheers,
> Peter Southwood
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
> Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
>
> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> apologize in advance.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
> _________________
> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
> there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
> more complicated.
>
> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first hit
> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>
> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the number
> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content in a
> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They have
> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a large
> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources to
> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no problems
> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American view
> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and sustainable
> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
> steady development, and everybody is happy.
>
> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by writing
> them ourselves?
>
> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit it
> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and a
> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course exceptions,
> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem. The
> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-) has
> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when they
> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be done
> from a phone.
>
> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready to
> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well, and
> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be happy
> if we do not lose them as readers.
>
> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> pages from a book.
>
> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>
> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
> clip.
>
> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that it
> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more complete.
> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable topics
> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there are
> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
> make clips, everybody can.
>
> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles shorter
> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second, such
> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the project.
> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the community
> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops who
> have no difficulties reading long texts.
>
> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now, but
> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to. Some
> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can be
> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
>
> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if I
> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up into
> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I currently,
> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company, or
> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and happens
> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of pieces
> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
>
> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
> 000 edits.
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
> ---
> This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
> https://www.avg.com
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
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> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Zubin JAIN
>I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
pages from a book.

>Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
the rest of the text does not make sense.

>The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.

These are gross generalizations and the ideas are similarly flawed.
Anecdotes do not prove anything and while there is some evidence to suspect
that attention span is reducing ( Though there has yet to be consensus and
one should naturally be sceptical of any psychological finding given the
fields replication crisis). Under 18 people such as myself probably use the
site the most compared to any other demographic and most of us are capable
of using it as well as anybody else.

The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down has abousltley no basis on
fact and data, is only supported by anecdotes and stereotypes. This is not
to say that simplifying some Wikipedia articles and creating more video
content is wrong, Wikipedia should be inclusive to all including those with
disabilities or conditions that make the traditional encyclopedia
unsuitable but making those changes out of ageist assumptions of
generational decline is insulting.

On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
> curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
> easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
> discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
> extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
> 18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
> content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
> simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
> tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
> with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
> to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
> adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
> not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
> enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
> reflect editability and it doesn't.
>
> On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
> [hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Hi Yaroslav,
> > Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
> > have described reasonably well.
> > Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
> > Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
> > perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
> > I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
> > summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
> > need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
> > from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in
> mobile.
> > This would not be needed for all articles.
> > Cheers,
> > Peter Southwood
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> > Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
> > Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
> > To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> > Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
> >
> > I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> > this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> > that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> > comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
> target
> > audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> > Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> > several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> > apologize in advance.
> >
> > Cheers
> > Yaroslav
> > _________________
> > I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
> > Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
> > someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
> > talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
> > active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues,
> but
> > there are typically many other things going on there which make the
> picture
> > more complicated.
> >
> > Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
> > and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
> > articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have
> already
> > been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
> > out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on
> an
> > urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many
> articles
> > are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and
> they
> > need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular
> basis:
> > new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and
> so
> > on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
> > there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
> > terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not
> so
> > much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> > already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> > or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
> hit
> > &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
> >
> > In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
> > Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
> > contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
> > "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
> > 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
> > famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the
> number
> > of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content
> in a
> > meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
> > field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
> > professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
> > Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
> > professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
> > many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They
> have
> > been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a
> large
> > scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
> > despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources
> to
> > maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no
> problems
> > - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
> > is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
> > pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
> > differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American
> view
> > dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
> > drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and
> sustainable
> > project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
> > talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
> > steady development, and everybody is happy.
> >
> > Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
> > to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by
> writing
> > them ourselves?
> >
> > Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
> > There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
> > Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit
> it
> > from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
> > is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
> > aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and
> a
> > laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course
> exceptions,
> > but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem.
> The
> > problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
> > nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-)
> has
> > very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
> > interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when
> they
> > grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be
> done
> > from a phone.
> >
> > Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
> > They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
> > they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
> > typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
> > retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready
> to
> > take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well,
> and
> > very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be
> happy
> > if we do not lose them as readers.
> >
> > I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> > important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> > difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> > information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable
> of
> > watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> > pages from a book.
> >
> > Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate /
> the
> > best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know
> the
> > answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> > the rest of the text does not make sense.
> >
> > The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like
> to
> > be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious.
> Articles
> > must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need
> to
> > be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with
> more
> > voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> > further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
> > clip.
> >
> > This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
> it
> > is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
> complete.
> > Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
> > followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable
> topics
> > and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
> > they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there
> are
> > plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
> > make clips, everybody can.
> >
> > The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
> > not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles
> shorter
> > and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
> > generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second,
> such
> > reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
> > consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the
> project.
> > The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the
> community
> > is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops
> who
> > have no difficulties reading long texts.
> >
> > I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
> but
> > on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
> > articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
> > read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
> > categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
> > needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
> > references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
> > and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
> Some
> > of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
> > that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can
> be
> > solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
> >
> > The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if
> I
> > come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
> > within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
> > which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
> > forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
> > respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up
> into
> > a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
> > care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
> > Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
> > phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
> > forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I
> currently,
> > at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
> > happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company,
> or
> > a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
> > standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
> > of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
> > doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and
> happens
> > to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of
> pieces
> > of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
> >
> > Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
> > 000 edits.
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> > ---
> > This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
> > https://www.avg.com
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>



--
Sincerely,
Zubin Jain
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Anders Wennersten-2
In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
part of the article.

It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)

It should hopefully only be 1-3 sentences, and to state what is all
about and not a summary.

We do not live up to this recommendation all the time, but I have
noticed that he introducion part on enwp generally are very long, in
comparison

Anders



Den 2018-12-30 kl. 11:39, skrev Zubin JAIN:

>> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> pages from a book.
>
>> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>
>> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.
>
> These are gross generalizations and the ideas are similarly flawed.
> Anecdotes do not prove anything and while there is some evidence to suspect
> that attention span is reducing ( Though there has yet to be consensus and
> one should naturally be sceptical of any psychological finding given the
> fields replication crisis). Under 18 people such as myself probably use the
> site the most compared to any other demographic and most of us are capable
> of using it as well as anybody else.
>
> The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down has abousltley no basis on
> fact and data, is only supported by anecdotes and stereotypes. This is not
> to say that simplifying some Wikipedia articles and creating more video
> content is wrong, Wikipedia should be inclusive to all including those with
> disabilities or conditions that make the traditional encyclopedia
> unsuitable but making those changes out of ageist assumptions of
> generational decline is insulting.
>
> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
>> curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
>> easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
>> discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
>> extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
>> 18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
>> content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
>> simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
>> tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
>> with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
>> to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
>> adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
>> not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
>> enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
>> reflect editability and it doesn't.
>>
>> On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
>> [hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>>> Hi Yaroslav,
>>> Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
>>> have described reasonably well.
>>> Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
>>> Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
>>> perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
>>> I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
>>> summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
>>> need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
>>> from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in
>> mobile.
>>> This would not be needed for all articles.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Peter Southwood
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
>>> Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
>>> Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
>>> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
>>> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
>>>
>>> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
>>> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
>>> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
>>> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
>> target
>>> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
>>> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
>>> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
>>> apologize in advance.
>>>
>>> Cheers
>>> Yaroslav
>>> _________________
>>> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
>>> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
>>> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
>>> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
>>> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues,
>> but
>>> there are typically many other things going on there which make the
>> picture
>>> more complicated.
>>>
>>> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
>>> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
>>> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have
>> already
>>> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
>>> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on
>> an
>>> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many
>> articles
>>> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and
>> they
>>> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular
>> basis:
>>> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and
>> so
>>> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
>>> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
>>> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not
>> so
>>> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
>>> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
>>> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
>> hit
>>> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>>>
>>> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
>>> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
>>> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
>>> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
>>> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
>>> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the
>> number
>>> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content
>> in a
>>> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
>>> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
>>> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
>>> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
>>> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
>>> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They
>> have
>>> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a
>> large
>>> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
>>> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources
>> to
>>> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no
>> problems
>>> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
>>> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
>>> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
>>> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American
>> view
>>> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
>>> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and
>> sustainable
>>> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
>>> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
>>> steady development, and everybody is happy.
>>>
>>> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
>>> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by
>> writing
>>> them ourselves?
>>>
>>> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
>>> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
>>> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit
>> it
>>> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
>>> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
>>> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and
>> a
>>> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course
>> exceptions,
>>> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem.
>> The
>>> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
>>> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-)
>> has
>>> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
>>> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when
>> they
>>> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be
>> done
>>> from a phone.
>>>
>>> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
>>> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
>>> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
>>> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
>>> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready
>> to
>>> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well,
>> and
>>> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be
>> happy
>>> if we do not lose them as readers.
>>>
>>> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
>>> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
>>> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
>>> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable
>> of
>>> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
>>> pages from a book.
>>>
>>> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate /
>> the
>>> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know
>> the
>>> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
>>> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>>>
>>> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like
>> to
>>> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious.
>> Articles
>>> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need
>> to
>>> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with
>> more
>>> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
>>> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
>>> clip.
>>>
>>> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
>> it
>>> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
>> complete.
>>> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
>>> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable
>> topics
>>> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
>>> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there
>> are
>>> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
>>> make clips, everybody can.
>>>
>>> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
>>> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles
>> shorter
>>> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
>>> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second,
>> such
>>> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
>>> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the
>> project.
>>> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the
>> community
>>> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops
>> who
>>> have no difficulties reading long texts.
>>>
>>> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
>> but
>>> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
>>> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
>>> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
>>> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
>>> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
>>> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
>>> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
>> Some
>>> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
>>> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can
>> be
>>> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
>>>
>>> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if
>> I
>>> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
>>> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
>>> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
>>> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
>>> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up
>> into
>>> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
>>> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
>>> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
>>> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
>>> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I
>> currently,
>>> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
>>> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company,
>> or
>>> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
>>> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
>>> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
>>> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and
>> happens
>>> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of
>> pieces
>>> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
>>>
>>> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
>>> 000 edits.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
>>> New messages to: [hidden email]
>>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
>>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>>>
>>> ---
>>> This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
>>> https://www.avg.com
>>>
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
>>> New messages to: [hidden email]
>>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
>>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
>> New messages to: [hidden email]
>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
>

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

David Gerard-2
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Lead_section
says pretty much the same:

> The lead should stand on its own as a concise overview of the article's topic. It should identify the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points, including any prominent controversies. The notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences.

that is, the intro section should be a short standalone article:

> As a general rule of thumb, a lead section should contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs and be carefully sourced as appropriate.

For an extreme case, [[World War II]] gets *five* long paragraphs for
its intro section.


- d.



On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 10:57, Anders Wennersten
<[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
> part of the article.
>
> It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
> it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)
>
> It should hopefully only be 1-3 sentences, and to state what is all
> about and not a summary.
>
> We do not live up to this recommendation all the time, but I have
> noticed that he introducion part on enwp generally are very long, in
> comparison
>
> Anders
>
>
>
> Den 2018-12-30 kl. 11:39, skrev Zubin JAIN:
> >> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> > important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> > difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> > information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
> > watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> > pages from a book.
> >
> >> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
> > best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
> > answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> > the rest of the text does not make sense.
> >
> >> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
> > be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
> > must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
> > be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
> > voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> > further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.
> >
> > These are gross generalizations and the ideas are similarly flawed.
> > Anecdotes do not prove anything and while there is some evidence to suspect
> > that attention span is reducing ( Though there has yet to be consensus and
> > one should naturally be sceptical of any psychological finding given the
> > fields replication crisis). Under 18 people such as myself probably use the
> > site the most compared to any other demographic and most of us are capable
> > of using it as well as anybody else.
> >
> > The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down has abousltley no basis on
> > fact and data, is only supported by anecdotes and stereotypes. This is not
> > to say that simplifying some Wikipedia articles and creating more video
> > content is wrong, Wikipedia should be inclusive to all including those with
> > disabilities or conditions that make the traditional encyclopedia
> > unsuitable but making those changes out of ageist assumptions of
> > generational decline is insulting.
> >
> > On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> >> I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
> >> curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
> >> easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
> >> discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
> >> extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
> >> 18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
> >> content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
> >> simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
> >> tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
> >> with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
> >> to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
> >> adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
> >> not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
> >> enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
> >> reflect editability and it doesn't.
> >>
> >> On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
> >> [hidden email]> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Hi Yaroslav,
> >>> Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
> >>> have described reasonably well.
> >>> Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
> >>> Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
> >>> perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
> >>> I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
> >>> summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
> >>> need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
> >>> from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in
> >> mobile.
> >>> This would not be needed for all articles.
> >>> Cheers,
> >>> Peter Southwood
> >>>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> >>> Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
> >>> Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
> >>> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> >>> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
> >>>
> >>> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> >>> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> >>> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> >>> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
> >> target
> >>> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> >>> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> >>> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> >>> apologize in advance.
> >>>
> >>> Cheers
> >>> Yaroslav
> >>> _________________
> >>> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
> >>> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
> >>> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
> >>> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
> >>> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues,
> >> but
> >>> there are typically many other things going on there which make the
> >> picture
> >>> more complicated.
> >>>
> >>> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
> >>> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
> >>> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have
> >> already
> >>> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
> >>> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on
> >> an
> >>> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many
> >> articles
> >>> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and
> >> they
> >>> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular
> >> basis:
> >>> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and
> >> so
> >>> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
> >>> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
> >>> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not
> >> so
> >>> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> >>> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> >>> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
> >> hit
> >>> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
> >>>
> >>> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
> >>> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
> >>> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
> >>> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
> >>> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
> >>> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the
> >> number
> >>> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content
> >> in a
> >>> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
> >>> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
> >>> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
> >>> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
> >>> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
> >>> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They
> >> have
> >>> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a
> >> large
> >>> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
> >>> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources
> >> to
> >>> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no
> >> problems
> >>> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
> >>> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
> >>> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
> >>> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American
> >> view
> >>> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
> >>> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and
> >> sustainable
> >>> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
> >>> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
> >>> steady development, and everybody is happy.
> >>>
> >>> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
> >>> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by
> >> writing
> >>> them ourselves?
> >>>
> >>> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
> >>> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
> >>> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit
> >> it
> >>> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
> >>> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
> >>> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and
> >> a
> >>> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course
> >> exceptions,
> >>> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem.
> >> The
> >>> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
> >>> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-)
> >> has
> >>> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
> >>> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when
> >> they
> >>> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be
> >> done
> >>> from a phone.
> >>>
> >>> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
> >>> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
> >>> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
> >>> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
> >>> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready
> >> to
> >>> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well,
> >> and
> >>> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be
> >> happy
> >>> if we do not lose them as readers.
> >>>
> >>> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> >>> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> >>> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> >>> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable
> >> of
> >>> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> >>> pages from a book.
> >>>
> >>> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate /
> >> the
> >>> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know
> >> the
> >>> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> >>> the rest of the text does not make sense.
> >>>
> >>> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like
> >> to
> >>> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious.
> >> Articles
> >>> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need
> >> to
> >>> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with
> >> more
> >>> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> >>> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
> >>> clip.
> >>>
> >>> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
> >> it
> >>> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
> >> complete.
> >>> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
> >>> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable
> >> topics
> >>> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
> >>> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there
> >> are
> >>> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
> >>> make clips, everybody can.
> >>>
> >>> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
> >>> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles
> >> shorter
> >>> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
> >>> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second,
> >> such
> >>> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
> >>> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the
> >> project.
> >>> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the
> >> community
> >>> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops
> >> who
> >>> have no difficulties reading long texts.
> >>>
> >>> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
> >> but
> >>> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
> >>> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
> >>> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
> >>> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
> >>> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
> >>> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
> >>> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
> >> Some
> >>> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
> >>> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can
> >> be
> >>> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
> >>>
> >>> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if
> >> I
> >>> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
> >>> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
> >>> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
> >>> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
> >>> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up
> >> into
> >>> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
> >>> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
> >>> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
> >>> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
> >>> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I
> >> currently,
> >>> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
> >>> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company,
> >> or
> >>> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
> >>> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
> >>> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
> >>> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and
> >> happens
> >>> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of
> >> pieces
> >>> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
> >>>
> >>> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
> >>> 000 edits.
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> >>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> >>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> >>> New messages to: [hidden email]
> >>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> >>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >>>
> >>> ---
> >>> This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
> >>> https://www.avg.com
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> >>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> >>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> >>> New messages to: [hidden email]
> >>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> >>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> >> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> >> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> >> New messages to: [hidden email]
> >> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> >> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> >
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Peter Southwood
In reply to this post by Jane Darnell
Jane,
I do not understand what parts you would split these things into, or how they would make Wikipedia easier to curate and edit. Could you link to an explanation or clarify the concept?
Cheers,
Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Jane Darnell
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2018 11:20 AM
To: Wikimedia Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
reflect editability and it doesn't.

On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Yaroslav,
> Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
> have described reasonably well.
> Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
> Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
> perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
> I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
> summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
> need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
> from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in mobile.
> This would not be needed for all articles.
> Cheers,
> Peter Southwood
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
> Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
> Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
>
> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> apologize in advance.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
> _________________
> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
> there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
> more complicated.
>
> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first hit
> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>
> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the number
> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content in a
> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They have
> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a large
> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources to
> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no problems
> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American view
> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and sustainable
> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
> steady development, and everybody is happy.
>
> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by writing
> them ourselves?
>
> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit it
> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and a
> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course exceptions,
> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem. The
> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-) has
> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when they
> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be done
> from a phone.
>
> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready to
> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well, and
> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be happy
> if we do not lose them as readers.
>
> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> pages from a book.
>
> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>
> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
> clip.
>
> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that it
> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more complete.
> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable topics
> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there are
> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
> make clips, everybody can.
>
> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles shorter
> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second, such
> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the project.
> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the community
> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops who
> have no difficulties reading long texts.
>
> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now, but
> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to. Some
> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can be
> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
>
> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if I
> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up into
> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I currently,
> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company, or
> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and happens
> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of pieces
> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
>
> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
> 000 edits.
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
> ---
> This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
> https://www.avg.com
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Fæ
In reply to this post by Yaroslav Blanter
On Sat, 29 Dec 2018 at 21:35, Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB)

Facebook, is that still a thing? Gah, whatever is being posted there,
many of us Wikipedians are never going to see it. It would be nice to
see more people writing decent essays as blog posts rather than as
messages on a closed cynical data harvesting platform that makes a
multi-billionaire even richer.

There is a problem with the emphasis of (en) Wikipedia being on the
glory of ''creating'' an article. As a result many newbies and oldies
are driven to create lots of stubs and mediocre articles which may
never be much expanded. The primary criticism I hear from academics is
that the articrles for their subject area are ghastly, relying on
outdated sources, outdated ideas and seem so badly written that they
remain a concern for any student relying on Wikipedia as a starting
point for finding quality reliable sources for further reading.

Yesterday I was flagged on twitter about potential bias of "Feminist
views on transgender topics". It's a pretty sorry example which gives
an initial impression that the vast majority of feminists positively
hate trans people. However a closer read shows that the sources focus
on inflammatory writings, many sources and quotes being from the
1970s, so several decades out of date. The outcome is a polarised
essay which paints a social war, because that is what
self-aggrandising pundits, newspapers and social media focuses on,
when real life experience is nothing like this. Being a trans or
sexuality related article, sadly means that it is hard for newbies to
understand the special attention this gets on Wikipedia, with most
newbie edits being rapidly reverted and these contributors finding it
frustratingly complicated to talk about what they want to change.

If Wikipedia(s) are to have a revitalising period in the 2020s, there
needs to be more built-in ways to encourage and reward newbies to work
collegiality building up ''existing articles'', and to recognise that
those boldly trying to rewrite and restructure existing mediocre
articles to turn them in to good up to date topics are doing a far,
far more difficult and skilful thing than obsessive old lexicographers
trying to carpetbag red links.

Links
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_views_on_transgender_topics

Fae
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https://twitter.com/Faewik

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Anders Wennersten-2
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
Thats excellent. It is just then to live up to that guidline, and foster
people who can simplity the lead sections

For myself I remember how hard it was to get an educated physisct to
write of the Coriolis effect in the lead section to make it
understandable. He just squeemed that with simple language then it is no
correct. And in it there is animations but without proper text it is
impossible to understand

Anders

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_force is not easy to take in




Den 2018-12-30 kl. 13:23, skrev David Gerard:

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Lead_section
> says pretty much the same:
>
>> The lead should stand on its own as a concise overview of the article's topic. It should identify the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points, including any prominent controversies. The notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences.
> that is, the intro section should be a short standalone article:
>
>> As a general rule of thumb, a lead section should contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs and be carefully sourced as appropriate.
> For an extreme case, [[World War II]] gets *five* long paragraphs for
> its intro section.
>
>
> - d.
>
>
>
> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 10:57, Anders Wennersten
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
>> part of the article.
>>
>> It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
>> it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)
>>
>> It should hopefully only be 1-3 sentences, and to state what is all
>> about and not a summary.
>>
>> We do not live up to this recommendation all the time, but I have
>> noticed that he introducion part on enwp generally are very long, in
>> comparison
>>
>> Anders
>>
>>
>>
>> Den 2018-12-30 kl. 11:39, skrev Zubin JAIN:
>>>> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
>>> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
>>> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
>>> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
>>> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
>>> pages from a book.
>>>
>>>> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
>>> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
>>> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
>>> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>>>
>>>> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
>>> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
>>> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
>>> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
>>> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
>>> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next clip.
>>>
>>> These are gross generalizations and the ideas are similarly flawed.
>>> Anecdotes do not prove anything and while there is some evidence to suspect
>>> that attention span is reducing ( Though there has yet to be consensus and
>>> one should naturally be sceptical of any psychological finding given the
>>> fields replication crisis). Under 18 people such as myself probably use the
>>> site the most compared to any other demographic and most of us are capable
>>> of using it as well as anybody else.
>>>
>>> The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down has abousltley no basis on
>>> fact and data, is only supported by anecdotes and stereotypes. This is not
>>> to say that simplifying some Wikipedia articles and creating more video
>>> content is wrong, Wikipedia should be inclusive to all including those with
>>> disabilities or conditions that make the traditional encyclopedia
>>> unsuitable but making those changes out of ageist assumptions of
>>> generational decline is insulting.
>>>
>>> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>
>>>> I still believe we need to "explode Wikipedia", by which I mean split
>>>> curation templates, categories, lists and all other articles into more
>>>> easily editable and curatable parts. This enables better linking to
>>>> discrete Wikidata items while reducing the tedious task of curation for
>>>> extremely long articles. Your comments, Peter, are still based on the
>>>> 18-year-old idea of "it's the info that matters". It's no longer just the
>>>> content that matters. Content curation, once advertised as being super
>>>> simple (and still in the byline as "everybody can edit"), has become a
>>>> tedious and complicated task, and efforts to make it easier have resulted
>>>> with the visual editor for mobile, which still doesn't work for uploading
>>>> to Commons. We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
>>>> adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks. We should
>>>> not let Google decide which sentences to index first, but we should be
>>>> enabling those decisions to be made by human editors. Findability should
>>>> reflect editability and it doesn't.
>>>>
>>>> On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 AM Peter Southwood <
>>>> [hidden email]> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Hi Yaroslav,
>>>>> Several recent developments relate to this situation which I think you
>>>>> have described reasonably well.
>>>>> Short descriptions help a bit. But they are too short to help much
>>>>> Simple Wikipedia tries to keep things simple and easily understood, but
>>>>> perhaps concentrates too much on a small vocabulary.
>>>>> I do see a real need and a use for a "Readers Digest" or "executive
>>>>> summary" version of long and complex articles for people who don’t have a
>>>>> need for the full story, but as a complementary version, possibly linked
>>>>> from the top of a desktop view, and possibly the primary target in
>>>> mobile.
>>>>> This would not be needed for all articles.
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Peter Southwood
>>>>>
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On
>>>>> Behalf Of Yaroslav Blanter
>>>>> Sent: 29 December 2018 23:34
>>>>> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
>>>>> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?
>>>>>
>>>>> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
>>>>> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
>>>>> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
>>>>> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The
>>>> target
>>>>> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
>>>>> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
>>>>> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
>>>>> apologize in advance.
>>>>>
>>>>> Cheers
>>>>> Yaroslav
>>>>> _________________
>>>>> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
>>>>> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
>>>>> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
>>>>> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
>>>>> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues,
>>>> but
>>>>> there are typically many other things going on there which make the
>>>> picture
>>>>> more complicated.
>>>>>
>>>>> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
>>>>> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
>>>>> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have
>>>> already
>>>>> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
>>>>> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on
>>>> an
>>>>> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many
>>>> articles
>>>>> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and
>>>> they
>>>>> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular
>>>> basis:
>>>>> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and
>>>> so
>>>>> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
>>>>> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
>>>>> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not
>>>> so
>>>>> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
>>>>> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
>>>>> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first
>>>> hit
>>>>> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>>>>>
>>>>> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
>>>>> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
>>>>> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
>>>>> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
>>>>> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
>>>>> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the
>>>> number
>>>>> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content
>>>> in a
>>>>> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
>>>>> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
>>>>> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
>>>>> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
>>>>> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
>>>>> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They
>>>> have
>>>>> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a
>>>> large
>>>>> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
>>>>> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources
>>>> to
>>>>> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no
>>>> problems
>>>>> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
>>>>> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
>>>>> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
>>>>> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American
>>>> view
>>>>> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
>>>>> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and
>>>> sustainable
>>>>> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
>>>>> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
>>>>> steady development, and everybody is happy.
>>>>>
>>>>> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
>>>>> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by
>>>> writing
>>>>> them ourselves?
>>>>>
>>>>> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
>>>>> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
>>>>> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit
>>>> it
>>>>> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
>>>>> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
>>>>> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and
>>>> a
>>>>> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course
>>>> exceptions,
>>>>> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem.
>>>> The
>>>>> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
>>>>> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-)
>>>> has
>>>>> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
>>>>> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when
>>>> they
>>>>> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be
>>>> done
>>>>> from a phone.
>>>>>
>>>>> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
>>>>> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
>>>>> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
>>>>> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
>>>>> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready
>>>> to
>>>>> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well,
>>>> and
>>>>> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be
>>>> happy
>>>>> if we do not lose them as readers.
>>>>>
>>>>> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
>>>>> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
>>>>> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
>>>>> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable
>>>> of
>>>>> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
>>>>> pages from a book.
>>>>>
>>>>> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate /
>>>> the
>>>>> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know
>>>> the
>>>>> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
>>>>> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>>>>>
>>>>> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like
>>>> to
>>>>> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious.
>>>> Articles
>>>>> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need
>>>> to
>>>>> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with
>>>> more
>>>>> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
>>>>> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
>>>>> clip.
>>>>>
>>>>> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
>>>> it
>>>>> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
>>>> complete.
>>>>> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
>>>>> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable
>>>> topics
>>>>> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
>>>>> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there
>>>> are
>>>>> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
>>>>> make clips, everybody can.
>>>>>
>>>>> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
>>>>> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles
>>>> shorter
>>>>> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
>>>>> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second,
>>>> such
>>>>> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
>>>>> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the
>>>> project.
>>>>> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the
>>>> community
>>>>> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops
>>>> who
>>>>> have no difficulties reading long texts.
>>>>>
>>>>> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
>>>> but
>>>>> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
>>>>> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
>>>>> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
>>>>> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
>>>>> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
>>>>> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
>>>>> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
>>>> Some
>>>>> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
>>>>> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can
>>>> be
>>>>> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
>>>>>
>>>>> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if
>>>> I
>>>>> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
>>>>> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
>>>>> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
>>>>> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
>>>>> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up
>>>> into
>>>>> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
>>>>> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
>>>>> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
>>>>> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
>>>>> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I
>>>> currently,
>>>>> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
>>>>> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company,
>>>> or
>>>>> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
>>>>> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
>>>>> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
>>>>> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and
>>>> happens
>>>>> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of
>>>> pieces
>>>>> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
>>>>>
>>>>> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
>>>>> 000 edits.
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
>>>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
>>>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
>>>>> New messages to: [hidden email]
>>>>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
>>>>> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>>>>>
>>>>> ---
>>>>> This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
>>>>> https://www.avg.com
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Strainu
In reply to this post by Zubin JAIN
În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:40, Zubin JAIN
<[hidden email]> a scris:
> These are gross generalizations

That's exactly the point here! Maybe not everyone is like that, but
the pattern is supported by studies. The question is: how do we
support (or, how do we make Wikipedia relevant for) this category?

> The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down
Nobody proposed that.

> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
> > adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks.

I had a conversation with Dan Garry in Cape Town about why categories
and navboxes are not shown on mobile and it seems they are not a
"thing" anymore (aka not used by the readers, which prefer navigating
through inline links). For the rest, I agree. What do you think of the
CitationHunt tool? Would it help if integrated in the normal workflow?

În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:57, Anders Wennersten
<[hidden email]> a scris:
>
> In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
> part of the article.
>
> It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
> it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)

How very interesting! I've always thought that Wikipedia should be
accessible for people with middle studies (highschool) but I've been
accused of trying to "dumb down" Wikipedia. Thanks for the idea!

More generally, yes, the introduction is the obvious candidate for
what Yaroslav is proposing, the question is how do you put it to the
best use? Are popups (currently enabled for anonymous users) enough?
Movies and visuals are complicated for most people, would an audio
help? Text to speech is pretty good (and dead cheap) these days and I
know WMSE has done some work in this domain. Would an audio of the
introduction help? What about reading the whole article?

This is a major topic, we should probably try to extract 2-3 ideas
that can be pushed forward from it.

Strainu

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Jane Darnell
In reply to this post by Peter Southwood
Well it is not difficult to imagine when you consider for example line
items in the case of list articles. Many lists could be split into such
line items and kept in a static assembled form by some sort of "assembly
template". Many of these line items are either articles or parts of
articles. Such "line items" may or may not have Wikidata items, may or may
not be suitable for Wikidata items, and may or may not be able to be
structured in any way, shape or form than the one they currently have. I
would like to be able to address these "line items" as "findable editing
snippets" in the wikiverse, possibly curatable by voice activation,
reversing the way we can sometimes get them read to us by Siri/Lexa.

On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 1:48 PM Peter Southwood <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Jane,
> I do not understand what parts you would split these things into, or how
> they would make Wikipedia easier to curate and edit. Could you link to an
> explanation or clarify the concept?
> Cheers,
> Peter
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Zubin JAIN
In reply to this post by Strainu
>That's exactly the point here! Maybe not everyone is like that, but
the pattern is supported by studies. The question is: how do we
support (or, how do we make Wikipedia relevant for) this category?

But it's not supported by rigorous evidence, a few studies and a bunch of
clickbait headlines hawking a decline narrative aren't things that should
be used as a basis for deciding that the encylvopedia is out of date and
Wikipedia should change itself to a primary video format

>> The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down
"Articles must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be
they need to be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain
clips, with more voice and less letters." Dumbing down seems to be a fair
summary of the proposal

On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 20:51, Strainu <[hidden email]> wrote:

> În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:40, Zubin JAIN
> <[hidden email]> a scris:
> > These are gross generalizations
>
> That's exactly the point here! Maybe not everyone is like that, but
> the pattern is supported by studies. The question is: how do we
> support (or, how do we make Wikipedia relevant for) this category?
>
> > The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down
> Nobody proposed that.
>
> > On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
> > > adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks.
>
> I had a conversation with Dan Garry in Cape Town about why categories
> and navboxes are not shown on mobile and it seems they are not a
> "thing" anymore (aka not used by the readers, which prefer navigating
> through inline links). For the rest, I agree. What do you think of the
> CitationHunt tool? Would it help if integrated in the normal workflow?
>
> În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:57, Anders Wennersten
> <[hidden email]> a scris:
> >
> > In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
> > part of the article.
> >
> > It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
> > it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)
>
> How very interesting! I've always thought that Wikipedia should be
> accessible for people with middle studies (highschool) but I've been
> accused of trying to "dumb down" Wikipedia. Thanks for the idea!
>
> More generally, yes, the introduction is the obvious candidate for
> what Yaroslav is proposing, the question is how do you put it to the
> best use? Are popups (currently enabled for anonymous users) enough?
> Movies and visuals are complicated for most people, would an audio
> help? Text to speech is pretty good (and dead cheap) these days and I
> know WMSE has done some work in this domain. Would an audio of the
> introduction help? What about reading the whole article?
>
> This is a major topic, we should probably try to extract 2-3 ideas
> that can be pushed forward from it.
>
> Strainu
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>



--
Sincerely,
Zubin Jain
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Yaroslav Blanter
Thanks for the reactions so far, they have been very useful. Let me answer
some of the points.

Re subject line: Obviously it is deliberately provocative to generate more
response and reach out to more people. Whereas what I write I do seriously,
if it stays a discussion of a dozen of people with the same views on the
subject it is probably useful.

Re milennials: this is clearly not a red herring. Just ask Facebook what
their demographics is and why the 18- generation is not using it.

Re introduction vs shorter articles:  I agree that a well-written
introduction is very important (though in practice it more often becomes a
battleground than not, and for most articles on my watchlist with non-zero
traffic it gets deteriorated with time, and it takes really a LOT of effort
of the community to maintain them). However, there are many other things in
the articles which are important as well, and I believe having
non-introductory pieces separately, written in a simple language, and
without excessive formatting is important. Currently, we can not
accommodate them within the articles - because there are too many details
to add, references, and formatting (the intro is an exception, it can
indeed be written simply without references).

Re fork: I actually do not believe in forking Wikipedia. One can fork
Wikipedia but so far all attempts to fork the community were unsuccessful,
and I do not think they will be successful in the future. I do not have a
problem with forking, I just believe it is not going to happen. What I
believe it will happen is a completely new platform suitable for new ways
of getting information. Just to give a perspective, imagine someone started
a project in the 1980s based on videotapes, and produced a lot of tapes. By
now they have either been copied to other media, or got completely
forgotten because nobody can play tapes anymore, at least unless one is a
very serious amateur or goes to a specialized library.

Re main point: People, let us be serious. We missed mobile editing (well,
at least this has been identified as a problem, and something is being done
about it). We missed voice interfaces. We are now missing neural networks.
We should have been discussing by now what neural networks are allowed to
do in the projects and what they are not allowed to do. And instead we are
discussing (and edit-warring) whether the Crimean bridge is the longest in
Europe or not because different sources place the border between Europe and
Asia differently, and, according to some sources, the bridge is not in
Europe. Why do you think that if we keep missing all technological
development relevant in the field we are still going to survive?

Cheers
Yaroslav

On Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 2:50 PM Zubin JAIN <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> >That's exactly the point here! Maybe not everyone is like that, but
> the pattern is supported by studies. The question is: how do we
> support (or, how do we make Wikipedia relevant for) this category?
>
> But it's not supported by rigorous evidence, a few studies and a bunch of
> clickbait headlines hawking a decline narrative aren't things that should
> be used as a basis for deciding that the encylvopedia is out of date and
> Wikipedia should change itself to a primary video format
>
> >> The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down
> "Articles must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be
> they need to be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain
> clips, with more voice and less letters." Dumbing down seems to be a fair
> summary of the proposal
>
> On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 20:51, Strainu <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:40, Zubin JAIN
> > <[hidden email]> a scris:
> > > These are gross generalizations
> >
> > That's exactly the point here! Maybe not everyone is like that, but
> > the pattern is supported by studies. The question is: how do we
> > support (or, how do we make Wikipedia relevant for) this category?
> >
> > > The idea that Wikipedia needs to be dumbed down
> > Nobody proposed that.
> >
> > > On Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 17:21, Jane Darnell <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > >
> > > > We need better upload interfaces for fixing spelling mistakes,
> > > > adding blue links, categories, media, and all other common tasks.
> >
> > I had a conversation with Dan Garry in Cape Town about why categories
> > and navboxes are not shown on mobile and it seems they are not a
> > "thing" anymore (aka not used by the readers, which prefer navigating
> > through inline links). For the rest, I agree. What do you think of the
> > CitationHunt tool? Would it help if integrated in the normal workflow?
> >
> > În dum., 30 dec. 2018 la 12:57, Anders Wennersten
> > <[hidden email]> a scris:
> > >
> > > In my little duckpond (svwp) we have guidleines for the introduction
> > > part of the article.
> > >
> > > It should use (simple) language to enable 14-16 years old to understand
> > > it (while the rest can use more complicated vocabulary)
> >
> > How very interesting! I've always thought that Wikipedia should be
> > accessible for people with middle studies (highschool) but I've been
> > accused of trying to "dumb down" Wikipedia. Thanks for the idea!
> >
> > More generally, yes, the introduction is the obvious candidate for
> > what Yaroslav is proposing, the question is how do you put it to the
> > best use? Are popups (currently enabled for anonymous users) enough?
> > Movies and visuals are complicated for most people, would an audio
> > help? Text to speech is pretty good (and dead cheap) these days and I
> > know WMSE has done some work in this domain. Would an audio of the
> > introduction help? What about reading the whole article?
> >
> > This is a major topic, we should probably try to extract 2-3 ideas
> > that can be pushed forward from it.
> >
> > Strainu
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
>
>
> --
> Sincerely,
> Zubin Jain
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

Lane Rasberry
In reply to this post by Zubin JAIN
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

David Cuenca Tudela
In reply to this post by Yaroslav Blanter
Answering the initial question: It depends on how you understand "death".
Wikipedia is the manifestation of a collection of algorithms running in the
minds of thousands of people. With time it could become less popular to run
that algorithm in your life, or you would like to try a different one. With
less people then the Wikipedias would be different as they are today. More
out-of-date information, less capacity to oversee the project, stagnation,
and perhaps eventually irrelevance. Myspace, digg, and winamp are still
alive, however people prefer other options these days.

I think it is important to move with the flow, and open new opportunities
for collaboration as the technology and our contributor base are ready for
them. Wikidata started 6 years ago, Structured Commons is in the making,
and who knows what could come next.

In the age of review manipulation and mistrust, I see opportunities in
identifying thought leaders, and building a balanced critique on a subject
based on multiple sources. Wikipedia does this partially, but it is not its
main aim. Assigning trust to people or organizations is something that the
community does quite well, so it could be applied to other contexts.

A snippet-pedia also sounds useful, specially if a topic could be explained
with different levels of complexity. Layman's explanations are really
useful and there are communities built around them (for instance ELI5 with
16 million subscribers), however their explanations are neither
collaborative nor structured, so it is quite difficult to improve them or
navigate them.

It doesn't matter so much that Wikipedia "dies", what matters is that the
Wikimedia community adapts with new projects that keep the spirit of
gathering, organizing, and sharing knowledge alive. Perhaps we could also
consider other approaches that could be executed in real life. With diverse
approaches, there would be different kind of contributors, aka more
diversity. I would definitely welcome projects that would attract 90% of
female contributors, even if they are radically different and they are not
a wiki. In the end our mission is to enable everyone to share knowledge,
not necessarily encyclopedic, and not necessarily using current technology.
Just because we have a hammer doesn't mean that all problems can be solved
with it.

Regards,
Micru

On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 10:35 PM Yaroslav Blanter <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have written a long text today (posted in my FB) which the readers of
> this mailing list might find interesting. I copy it below. I understand
> that it is very easy to critisize me for side issues, but if you want to
> comment/reply I would appreciate if you address the main issue. The target
> audience I was thinking about was general (not necessarily
> Wikimedia-oriented), and for the readers from this mailing list the first
> several paragraphs can sound trivial (or even trivial and wrong). I
> apologize in advance.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
> _________________
> I currently have a bit of time and can write on the future of Wikipedia.
> Similarly to much of what I write it is probably going to be useless, but
> someone may find it interesting. For simplicity, I will be explicitly
> talking about the English Wikipedia (referring to it as Wikipedia). I am
> active in other projects as well, and some of them have similar issues, but
> there are typically many other things going on there which make the picture
> more complicated.
>
> Let us first look at the current situation. Wikipedia exists since 2001,
> and in a couple of weeks will turn 18. Currently, it has 5.77 million
> articles. I often hear an opinion that all important articles have already
> been created. This is incorrect, and I am often the first person to point
> out that this is not correct. For example, today I created an article on an
> urban locality in Russia with the population of 15 thousands. Many articles
> are indeed too short, badly written, or suffer from other issues, and they
> need to be improved. There are new topics which appear on a regular basis:
> new music performers, new winners of sports competitions or prizes, and so
> on. As any Web 2.0 project, Wikipedia requires a regular cleanup, since
> there are many people happy to vandalize the 5th website in the world in
> terms of the number of views. However, as a general guideline, it is not so
> much incorrect to state that all important things in Wikipedia have been
> already written. Indeed, if someone looks for information in Wikipedia -
> or, more precisely, uses search engines and gets Wikipedia as the first hit
> &#8212; they are likely to find what they need with more than 99% chance.
>
> In this sense, Wikipedia now is very different from Wikipedia in 2008 or
> Wikipedia in 2004. Ten and especially fifteen years ago, everybody could
> contribute something important. For example, the article on the 1951 film
> "A Streetcar Named Desire", which won four Academy Awards, was started in
> 2005, as well as an article on Cy Twombly, at the time probably the most
> famous living artist. This is not possible anymore. This is why the number
> of active editors is currently dropping - to contribute to the content in a
> meaningful way, one now has to be an advanced amateur - to master some
> field of knowledge much better than most others do. Or one can be a
> professional - but there are very few professionals contributing to
> Wikipedia in their fields, and there are very few articles written at a
> professional level. Attempts to attract professionals have been made for
> many years, and, despite certain local success, generally failed. They have
> been going now for long enough to assume they will never succeed on a large
> scale. Wikipedia is written by advance amateurs for amateurs. However,
> despite the decline in the number of editors, there are enough resources to
> maintain and to expand the project. It does not mean there are no problems
> - there are in fact many problems. One of the most commonly discussed one
> is systemic bias - there is way more information on Wikipedia on subjects
> pertaining to North America than to Africa, and if a topic is viewed on
> differently in different countries, one can be sure that the American view
> dominates. But it is usually thought - and I agree with this - that these
> drawbacks are not crucial, and Wikipedia is atill a useful and sustainable
> project. Wikipedia clearly has its ecosystem, there are no competitors to
> talk about, and all attempts to fork it were unsuccessful. There is a
> steady development, and everybody is happy.
>
> Does this mean that everything is fine and we do not need to worry?, just
> to wait until missing articles get written, or even to help this by writing
> them ourselves?
>
> Absolutely not. To understand this, we can look again at the editor base.
> There are detailed studies, but, for a starter, it is a nightmare to edit
> Wikipedia from a cell phone. It is possible but not much easier to edit it
> from a tablet. The mobile version is different from a desktop one, and it
> is not really optimized for editing. This is a known problem, but one
> aspect of it is clear. Most Wikipedia editors actually own a desktop and a
> laptop. This brings them into 18+ category. There are of course exceptions,
> but the fact is that the editor base gets older, and this is a problem. The
> problem is not so much at this point that we all die and there will be
> nobody to edit Wikipedia. The problem is that the next generation (18-) has
> very different ways of getting information. And I guess they are not
> interested in editing Wikipedia, and they will not get interested when they
> grow up - possibly beyond introducing minor corrections, which can be done
> from a phone.
>
> Traditionally, students were always among the core of the editors base.
> They already have some knowledge and they still have time to edit. When
> they graduate, find a job and start a family, they have way less time and
> typically stop editing. The next group are retirees. Between students and
> retirees, we have a tiny fraction of dedicated enthusiasts who are ready to
> take time from work and family, but they are really not numerous. Well, and
> very soon we are going to lose students as editors. And we should be happy
> if we do not lose them as readers.
>
> I am 51, and I do not know much about the 18- generation, but I know two
> important things about them. They have a very short attention span and
> difficulties to concentrate. And they get a graphical and visualized
> information much more easier than texts. For example, my son is capable of
> watching three or four movies per day, but he has difficulties to read 20
> pages from a book.
>
> Well, the first question is whether an encyclopedia is an appropriate / the
> best format for them to get knowledge (as it is for us). I do not know the
> answer. What I write below assumes that the answer is positive, otherwise
> the rest of the text does not make sense.
>
> The next question is what should be done. How Wikipedia should look like to
> be accessible to this generation? The answer seems to be obvious. Articles
> must be short and contain a lot of graphic information. May be they need to
> be videoclips. Short clips. Or, at lest, they must contain clips, with more
> voice and less letters. If one needs more detailed information or just
> further information - one hops to the next article or watches the next
> clip.
>
> This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that it
> is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more complete.
> Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and without
> followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe notable topics
> and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in use.  Of course
> they still need to be made, but this is not such a big problem - there are
> plenty of school students who have their own youtube channel, if they can
> make clips, everybody can.
>
> The most difficult question is how this can be realized. I believe it is
> not possible to just transform Wikipedia like this - make articles shorter
> and simpler and spit them. First, this might be good for the young
> generation, but this is still not good for the 18+ generation. Second, such
> reforms should be either be approved by Wikipedia community through
> consensus, or be imposed by the Wikimedia Foundation who owns the project.
> The likelihood of either is zero. Just to give one argument, the community
> is, well, the community of editors, of the same 18+ people with laptops who
> have no difficulties reading long texts.
>
> I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now, but
> on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
> articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
> read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
> categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
> needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
> references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
> and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to. Some
> of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a difficulty
> that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure this one can be
> solved. If anybody wants to solve it.
>
> The status of what I have written above is science fiction. I am sure if I
> come with this proposal to a village pump of Wikipedia, it will be dead
> within a day. In addition, it requires some modifications of MediaWiki
> which can only be done by the Foundation. And I am not really looking
> forward for the Foundation implementing this either. I have a lot of
> respect for some of the Foundation employees, but it has now grown up into
> a big corporation now and behaves as a big corporation, where some people
> care less about the product and more about other things, and some look at
> Wikipedia editors, aka "unorganized volunteers", as some annoying
> phenomenon, which they can tolerate but are not willing to listen to. My
> forecast is pretty pessimistic. Unless a miracle happens (and I currently,
> at least not from my perspective, do not see any reasons for a miracle to
> happen), soon or late will realize this, It might be a startup company, or
> a non-commercial. And Wikipedia will stay as it is, and, after the
> standards change many times, it will not be readable / accessible to most
> of internet users, and will slowly die. And the results of what were were
> doing for 20 years will disappear. This is a usual development and happens
> to almost every human activity. We know that only a few percents of pieces
> of Ancient Greek and Roman literature survived until now.
>
> Yaroslav Blanter, editor and administrator of the English Wikipedia, 125
> 000 edits.
> _______________________________________________
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--
Etiamsi omnes, ego non
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