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New paper on Wikipedia's decline 
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Unread post New paper on Wikipedia's decline
The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community; How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline

From June, not mentioned before. Co-authored by John Riedl, who we have mentioned before.
Deathless prose:
Quote:
Wikipedia has changed from "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" to "the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes himself, dodges the impersonal wall of semiautomated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his time and energy can edit".


They were helped by three WMF people, including one of Wikipedia's worst trolls.
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.

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Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:37 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
What I find most interesting is the role of semi-automatic tools in rejecting potentially valuable new editors.


Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:53 am
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
I think it's interesting that this comes from the University of Minnesota, where the flawed but nonetheless disconcerting "damaged views" study was conducted, which found that the more Wikipedia grows, the more likely the reader is to find an article in a "damaged" state.

Perhaps the Golden Gophers are developing a bit of a reputation in trying to appear to "want" to help Wikipedia, but basically showing its flaws via statistical analyses.

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Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:14 am WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
EricBarbour wrote:
They were helped by three WMF people, including one of Wikipedia's worst trolls.
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.
I've met Maryana, and she seemed a nice person; my impression was that she had never edited Wikipedia much, nor particularly drunk the Kool-Aid, but had come to Wikimedia simply as a job.

Be that as it may, trying to look up her work and private accounts in Wikipedia just now, I noticed an apparent bit of longstanding vandalism involving her name, perpetrated by a Newark IP:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... =457315186

:)


Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:20 am
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
EricBarbour wrote:
The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community; How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline

From June, not mentioned before. Co-authored by John Riedl, who we have mentioned before.
Deathless prose:
Quote:
Wikipedia has changed from "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" to "the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes himself, dodges the impersonal wall of semiautomated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his time and energy can edit".



It would be interesting to see similar analysis of contributors over a longer period. Analysis of newcomers tends to presume that those who get past all this have learned to survive. I have doubts about this.

All the best,

Roger Pearse


Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:08 am WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
eppur si muove wrote:
What I find most interesting is the role of semi-automatic tools in rejecting potentially valuable new editors.


I think this is actually a pretty huge factor. Marginal work comes in as a new article and New Page Patrol bags it and tags it in about 30 seconds with a bunch of impersonal templates. Those on the receiving end, not fully aware of site standards and practices or capable of producing footnoting markup tags are justifiably alienated to be on the receiving end.

What's really needed is to have the spigot of new articles tampered way the hell down. No starts possible until registration and 50 edits or something on existing articles.

New Page Patrol would be less stressed for time and their overuse of content templates could be more closely examined.

Of course, this is contrary to the hippie-dippy "more editors is more better" mantra that WMF keeps braying...

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Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:42 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Randy from Boise wrote:
No starts possible until registration and 50 edits or something on existing articles.

As a paid editor of new articles, I hope that your plan is never implemented.

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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Randy from Boise wrote:
eppur si muove wrote:
What I find most interesting is the role of semi-automatic tools in rejecting potentially valuable new editors.


I think this is actually a pretty huge factor. Marginal work comes in as a new article and New Page Patrol bags it and tags it in about 30 seconds with a bunch of impersonal templates. Those on the receiving end, not fully aware of site standards and practices or capable of producing footnoting markup tags are justifiably alienated to be on the receiving end.
That's one of the most pernicious problems they have to fix if they want "more editors".

The way to do it though would not be to prevent newbies from starting articles, but to be nice and nurturing to them when they do. However, Wikipedia does not do nice and nurturing very well historically. I guess they are trying with the Teahouse ... but I suspect it's too little, too late.


Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:38 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Randy from Boise wrote:
What's really needed is to have the spigot of new articles tampered way the hell down. No starts possible until registration and 50 edits or something on existing articles.


Sorry if I have missed something. But ... what is the problem with the creation of new articles by newcomers? (that's a honest question)

I tended to create new articles whenever, in my normal reading, I stumbled across something that would obviously be useful generally.

An example: One of my interests is Christian Arabic literature. This is pretty obscure stuff, and sometimes I find myself wondering who on earth someone referenced was. Naturally I would do a google search, and sometimes I would find something in Wikipedia. Often I would not.

If there was something, it might be under a variant spelling and so hard to find (because Arabic is a defective script which can be transliterated into English and German in different ways), in which case (in the days when I contributed to Wikipedia) I would create an article under whatever spelling I had started with (or had encountered along the way) and make it a redirect, and update the article with whatever info I had. If none existed, and I had had to search around for this, then I would start an article with whatever I had. (In such a way the original article on Michael the Syrian came into being).

I would have thought that this was a natural way for people -- especially scholars -- to become involved in Wikipedia; after having to conduct a search for some fairly basic information on someone relatively important, it seems only public spirited to donate that to the world.

That seems like a doorway into Wikipedia that it would be unwise to close?

All the best,

Roger Pearse


Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:44 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:
The way to do it though would not be to prevent newbies from starting articles, but to be nice and nurturing to them when they do.


I well remember starting to create an (uncontroversial) article and having the thing deleted while I was still doing the initial series of edits! I was *cross*.

All the best,

Roger Pearse


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
roger_pearse wrote:
Randy from Boise wrote:
What's really needed is to have the spigot of new articles tampered way the hell down. No starts possible until registration and 50 edits or something on existing articles.


Sorry if I have missed something. But ... what is the problem with the creation of new articles by newcomers? (that's a honest question)

I tended to create new articles whenever, in my normal reading, I stumbled across something that would obviously be useful generally.

An example: One of my interests is Christian Arabic literature. This is pretty obscure stuff, and sometimes I find myself wondering who on earth someone referenced was. Naturally I would do a google search, and sometimes I would find something in Wikipedia. Often I would not.

If there was something, it might be under a variant spelling and so hard to find (because Arabic is a defective script which can be transliterated into English and German in different ways), in which case (in the days when I contributed to Wikipedia) I would create an article under whatever spelling I had started with (or had encountered along the way) and make it a redirect, and update the article with whatever info I had. If none existed, and I had had to search around for this, then I would start an article with whatever I had. (In such a way the original article on Michael the Syrian came into being).

I would have thought that this was a natural way for people -- especially scholars -- to become involved in Wikipedia; after having to conduct a search for some fairly basic information on someone relatively important, it seems only public spirited to donate that to the world.

That seems like a doorway into Wikipedia that it would be unwise to close?

All the best,

Roger Pearse


The situation now is that there is a giant pipe dumping sludge into the system and it makes it very difficult for overworked volunteers to politely and correctly filter out the "keeper" material from the dreck on the fly. So much time is spent on crap that there is little time available to get earnest newbies up to speed. The process of identifying solid new contributors clearly needs to be improved. I think that requires the starting of a new article a more difficult proposition than it is — making earnest newcomers familiarize themselves with standards and practices in some way before starting a piece from scratch.

This implies a much lower garbage-to-volunteer ratio and therefore more time to spend on useful criticism of contributions of newcomers, as opposed to slamming on four cold and impersonal templates in 45 seconds.

WMF still measures progress on the project quantitatively, so fundamental reform of this sort is definitely a ways away. I do think that the logic of the situation, the need for expert contributors as the content matures, will pull the WMF in this direction eventually.

The New Pages queue is to be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:NewPages

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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Randy from Boise wrote:
The situation now is that there is a giant pipe dumping sludge into the system and it makes it very difficult for overworked volunteers to politely and correctly filter out the "keeper" material from the dreck on the fly.
I thought that turning off the ability of unregistered editors to create new articles (the "experiment" Jimbo started in 2006) was supposed to fix that. Oh, you mean it didn't? Go figure.


Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:25 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
roger_pearse wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
The way to do it though would not be to prevent newbies from starting articles, but to be nice and nurturing to them when they do.


I well remember starting to create an (uncontroversial) article and having the thing deleted while I was still doing the initial series of edits! I was *cross*.

Happened to my wife, twice, even though I had "primed" her on citing reliable sources etc. (and she did). I got both articles restored, and both made DYK ... but someone left to their own devices in a situation like that hasn't got a chance in hell. They will simply turn their back on Wikipedia.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Kelly Martin wrote:
Randy from Boise wrote:
The situation now is that there is a giant pipe dumping sludge into the system and it makes it very difficult for overworked volunteers to politely and correctly filter out the "keeper" material from the dreck on the fly.
I thought that turning off the ability of unregistered editors to create new articles (the "experiment" Jimbo started in 2006) was supposed to fix that. Oh, you mean it didn't? Go figure.


The idea is correct, but the standard of acceptability for contributions in 2012 (BLP rules, footnoting norms) is not what it was in 2006. The bar needs to be raised again.

As I noted in another thread: compare and contrast the 2006 state and the 2012 state of 5 or 10 articles, taking a peek at the difficulty of the edit markup, and you'll see Wikipedia is an altogether different animal.

Anybody can drive a car, but not everybody should drive a car, and there should be drivers' training and licensing before a person gets behind the wheel. Obviously, this is a bit of a false analogy since cars can kill people and stupid articles whisked to PROD or AfD can't — but the premise that there should be some sort of training and education about site standards before newcomers dive in is reasonable, I think.

Serious minded people interested in making substantive contributions to content will understand.

RfB


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
How about spending some of that saved money on a 'New Article Wizard?'

...and perhaps changing the edit link for unregistered and new accounts to a versioned copy of the actual article content, with a cookie on the newbie/vandal's system to show them their version instead of the actual one?

Changes to be merged in after review.

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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Zoloft wrote:
How about spending some of that saved money on a 'New Article Wizard?'

Like this one, or better?

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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:
roger_pearse wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
The way to do it though would not be to prevent newbies from starting articles, but to be nice and nurturing to them when they do.


I well remember starting to create an (uncontroversial) article and having the thing deleted while I was still doing the initial series of edits! I was *cross*.

Happened to my wife, twice, even though I had "primed" her on citing reliable sources etc. (and she did). I got both articles restored, and both made DYK ... but someone left to their own devices in a situation like that hasn't got a chance in hell. They will simply turn their back on Wikipedia.


My fetured list was CSD'd A5 using TW five minutes after creation. Gtstricky did respond to my talk page comment and remove the CSD template but how many newbies would have been able to deal with it?


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
thekohser wrote:
Zoloft wrote:
How about spending some of that saved money on a 'New Article Wizard?'

Like this one, or better?


Not like that one. One where you start with the proposed content, and then get guided through a subset of the rules.

There are so many friggin' bots that comb through content I'm sure they could be set upon to help fix a new article made by a newbie.

Not yet developed wizard wrote:
Now your new content will be scanned and tagged for other people to work on. Limitations and errors will be labeled so that you or some other editor can improve the content.

(upbeat music plays)

Jimbo Wales and Sue Gardner thank you for contributing to the sum of human knowledge.


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Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:57 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
The paper is covered in the current Signpost:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... t_research

Quote:
A paper to appear in a special issue of American Behavioral Scientist (summarized in the research index) sheds new light on the English Wikipedia's declining editor growth and retention trends. The paper describes how "several changes that the Wikipedia community made to manage quality and consistency in the face of a massive growth in participation have lead to a more restrictive environment for newcomers".[1] The number of active Wikipedia editors has been declining since 2007 and research examining data up to September 2009[2] has shown that the root of the problem has been the declining retention of new editors. The authors show this decline is mainly due to a decline among desirable, good-faith newcomers, and point to three factors contributing to the increasingly "restrictive environment" they face.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Randy from Boise wrote:
Serious minded people interested in making substantive contributions to content will understand.


And then will be killed by the first troll that passes by.

Serious-minded people interested in making substantive contributions to content are plankton in the Wikipedia food-chain. That's why academics don't contribute.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
roger_pearse wrote:
Serious-minded people interested in making substantive contributions to content are plankton in the Wikipedia food-chain.

:)


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
The future is groups working together and pooling their expertise. Wikis work if there is a common goal and sense of purpose, and that best works if you are narrowly focussed. When you try to be too broad you end up with either a lack of direction or a move towards the most saleable. Its a case of Harrod's foodhall vs Asda.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:
roger_pearse wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
The way to do it though would not be to prevent newbies from starting articles, but to be nice and nurturing to them when they do.


I well remember starting to create an (uncontroversial) article and having the thing deleted while I was still doing the initial series of edits! I was *cross*.

Happened to my wife, twice, even though I had "primed" her on citing reliable sources etc. (and she did). I got both articles restored, and both made DYK ... but someone left to their own devices in a situation like that hasn't got a chance in hell. They will simply turn their back on Wikipedia.


One piece of advice on this, which I only figured out over time: DON'T mark your new article as a stub and DON'T add categories until you've put enough work into a new article to have it half decent. Doing both of those things tends to attract new page patroller peoples and other gadflies who prod, tag up and otherwise interfere with your work.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
lilburne wrote:
The future is groups working together and pooling their expertise. Wikis work if there is a common goal and sense of purpose, and that best works if you are narrowly focussed.


Perhaps. But they only work if you have a common culture, run by a bunch of people who are accountable, open, honest and serious, and with something to lose if they act unfairly. A situation where anyone can turn up and start interfering with others will always bring the worst types to the front. Such behaviour is characteristic of third-world states, not of first-world democracies.

Those articles in Wikipedia which have made progress in the last few years have done so mainly because of the invention of the <ref> tag -- who added that? This spread because the users realised that people are more reluctant to interfere with stuff that is referenced (which doesn't stop utter headbangers, of course). So the use of this tag became a way both for valid contributors to add authority; for dishonest contributors to abuse with unreliable "references", and for the manipulative to use as a way to deter reverts on controversial topics.

All the best,

Roger Pearse


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
The study has now appeared in American Behavioral Scientist, and USA Today have done a write-up of it:

Study: Wikipedia is driving away newcomers
Quote:
Wikipedia editing rules and automated systems instituted in 2007 to increase the website's quality have driven vital new volunteers away from the effort, suggests a study.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
The WMF declined to respond to USA Today's request for a comment. I can understand why. There's just no way to spin this one.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Cla68 wrote:
The WMF declined to respond to USA Today's request for a comment. I can understand why. There's just no way to spin this one.


Two ways, deny everything and/or attack the people who did the study.

Place your bets now...


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Anroth wrote:
Cla68 wrote:
The WMF declined to respond to USA Today's request for a comment. I can understand why. There's just no way to spin this one.


Two ways, deny everything and/or attack the people who did the study.

Place your bets now...

Neither. If you look at the post that started this thread, you'll see that the authors were assisted by WMF staff:

Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:
Anroth wrote:
Cla68 wrote:
The WMF declined to respond to USA Today's request for a comment. I can understand why. There's just no way to spin this one.


Two ways, deny everything and/or attack the people who did the study.

Place your bets now...

Neither. If you look at the post that started this thread, you'll see that the authors were assisted by WMF staff:

Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


I did actually see that, doesnt mean it couldnt still happen. I suspect Keyes would be first against the wall.... ;) But I was referring to the researchers in general, rather than the technical support provided by the WMF staff.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Malleus wrote:
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?

See George III for one example.

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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
dogbiscuit wrote:
Malleus wrote:
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?

See George III for one example.


Henry VI and Edward IV. Sort of took buggins turn.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
dogbiscuit wrote:
Malleus wrote:
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?

See George III for one example.

In what sense did George III not reign? Granted that he no longer reigns, being long dead, but the phrase "reigning monarch" clearly refers to the current monarch, therefore "one of England's reigning monarchs" make no sense.


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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Malleus wrote:
dogbiscuit wrote:
Malleus wrote:
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?

See George III for one example.

In what sense did George III not reign? Granted that he no longer reigns, being long dead, but the phrase "reigning monarch" clearly refers to the current monarch, therefore "one of England's reigning monarchs" make no sense.

The phrase reigning monarch is nearly tautolgeous but GIII famous did not reign to the end of his life - he had the Prince Regent, GIV to reign in his sted towards the end of his days. The phrase also makes sense in other tenses - the reigning monarch at the start of the Crime War.

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Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:25 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
dogbiscuit wrote:
Malleus wrote:
dogbiscuit wrote:
Malleus wrote:
lilburne wrote:
HRIP7 wrote:
Quote:
This work would not have been possible without the support of the NSF (IIS 09-68483), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wikipedians who volunteered to help us perform the hand-coding work: Oliver Keyes, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling.


Do the researchers know that one of their helpers thinks that the father of one of England's reigning monarchs was just 16 yo?

:evilgrin:

What would an un-reigning monarch look like?

See George III for one example.

In what sense did George III not reign? Granted that he no longer reigns, being long dead, but the phrase "reigning monarch" clearly refers to the current monarch, therefore "one of England's reigning monarchs" make no sense.

The phrase reigning monarch is nearly tautolgeous but GIII famous did not reign to the end of his life - he had the Prince Regent, GIV to reign in his sted towards the end of his days. The phrase also makes sense in other tenses - the reigning monarch at the start of the Crimean War.

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Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:27 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
That will be enough, gentlemen.

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Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:09 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Quite a lot of coverage of the paper now.

Here is The Daily Dot for example: Nobody wants to edit Wikipedia anymore

Apparently, retention problems don't just plague the volunteer community. Tim Starling, one of the most longstanding WMF employees, recently asked on the Wikimedia-l mailing list:
Quote:
A count of office.wikimedia.org account deactivations suggests that about 59 people left the WMF in 2012, for whatever reason. To me, that seems like a lot of people. Maybe it's occasionally good for people to leave, but so many?

-- Tim Starling
Complete discussion thread here (apparently, the number also included some fellows and contractors).

There is also an ongoing thread on editor retention; again, the stand-out comment is from Tim Starling:
Quote:
On 03/01/13 22:46, Martijn Hoekstra wrote:
> Editor retention programmes have some data there. Check wp:wer on en.wiki.
> how the data for the other projects match up I don't know.

Yes, that page describes the problem in detail. But the suggestions
they offer under "how you can help" are along the same lines as
policies that have been in place on Wikipedia since 2002 or earlier.
It's been tried, it didn't work.

The problem is, some people want to feel powerful more than they want
Wikipedia to grow. Or even if they want Wikipedia to grow on a
cerebral level, exercising power over another user is immediately
pleasurable, and they don't have sufficient impulse control to stop
themselves from doing it.

It should be obvious that what is missing is discipline. An
arbitration committee with expanded scope, with full-time members
funded by the WMF (at arm's length for legal reasons), could go a long
way towards solving the problem. Some users will be reformed when
their technical power is threatened (be that editing or admin access),
others will just leave as soon as their reputation is at stake.

There is risk, because the editor population will probably be reduced
in the short term, and it's hard to know if it will ever recover. I
don't know if there is anyone with the power to save Wikipedia who
also has the required courage.

-- Tim Starling
A quite interesting discussion has ensued.


Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:39 am
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
I find this discussion interesting for these reasons: 1) it proves that there are highly-placed Wikimedia mandarins that grasp important bits of the truth regarding Wikipedia's decline, though none comprehend anything like the whole; 2) no one seems to have any solutions for the problems that they can see that have a hope in hell of being accepted by Wikipedia's dysfunctional community; 3) the discussion is quickly polluted by useless old Usenet farts like Fred Bauder and David Gerard blathering on about MUDs, shooter games, and the tired old "low hanging fruit" excuse.

Likely result: there will never be any sufficient consensus for any effective reform of Wikipedia from the WMF, and absolutely not from Teh Communitah. Sue Gardner's imagined future conversation about the fall of Wikipedia inches ever closer to being a present and real one.


Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:05 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Excellent.


Quote:
Risker risker.wp at gmail.com Fri Jan 4 05:48:46 UTC 2013 We have been, to some extent, the victims of our own success. We grew exponentially and not organically, and given the roots of our community, the usual group structural forms were eschewed. There was also practically no money for anything for a very long time (our fundraisers now raise as much in a day as they did in the entire year when I first joined up), and very few employees who kept the operation together with shoestrings and sealing wax, while everything else was left to the editorial communities (and the volunteer developer communities) to keep things going. This "flattened hierarchy" of leadership worked reasonably well with a smaller editorial community that had barely scratched the surface of content creation, but quickly showed itself to be impractical when editors joined in droves - many of them focusing on hand-to-hand combat with vandals. Those who loathed wasting their time cleaning up after vandals were glad to have this newer cadre join them; however, there was a palpable difference in their reason for becoming part of the community, and when the number of highly active contributors more than doubled over a short period of time, it was impossible to provide an effective process to help them learn the technical, policy, and cultural expectations. Efforts to try to remedy some of these issues have been largely unsuccessful, with an overwhelming proliferation of often-conflicting policies that are nearly incomprehensible to the uninitiated, an overabundance of badly written and poorly descriptive templates, and a dependence on automated tools for social interaction.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 23328.html


Pretty much the historical narrative that I give in the book.

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Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:21 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
From Heilman:
Quote:
I see some of the issues with long term retention of editors being that we have not figured out a method to effectively deal with sockpuppets.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 23332.html


But sockpuppets are an inevitable consequence of the open model, aren't they? Why is no one challenging that model?

Cedric wrote:
the discussion is quickly polluted by useless old Usenet farts like Fred Bauder and David Gerard blathering on about MUDs, shooter games, and the tired old "low hanging fruit" excuse.


Yes you can quickly see it disintegrating in front of your eyes as soon as those two get involved.

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Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:26 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Peter Damian wrote:
Yes you can quickly see it disintegrating in front of your eyes as soon as those two get involved.


Neither as far as I can tell actually do anything there except, pontificate about what it used to be like before the flood (and what happened to Enoch anyway), and otherwise get in the way.

But that is WP, if a hole, or drainpipe can be discovered that leads one away from the real issue, the rats will be down/up it.


Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:51 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Peter Damian wrote:
From Heilman:
Quote:
I see some of the issues with long term retention of editors being that we have not figured out a method to effectively deal with sockpuppets.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 23332.html


But sockpuppets are an inevitable consequence of the open model, aren't they? Why is no one challenging that model?

Because to even ask that question is the greatest wiki-heresy of all. Jimbo declared open and instant editing to be a "sacred" principle, never to be deviated from, in 2001. Teh Communitah immediately took him at his word. Though Jimbo's influence is much diminished today, this "sacred" principle is preserved.

Plus, one needs to consider all the gamers that infest Wikipedia. To introduce a "sighted revisions" model for all articles (a badly needed reform) would abolish nearly all of the game-playing aspects of Wikipedia in one fell swoop. The gamers would rather have the whole thing crash and burn than to ever submit to that.


Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:00 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Cedric wrote:
Peter Damian wrote:
From Heilman:
Quote:
I see some of the issues with long term retention of editors being that we have not figured out a method to effectively deal with sockpuppets.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 23332.html


But sockpuppets are an inevitable consequence of the open model, aren't they? Why is no one challenging that model?

Because to even ask that question is the greatest wiki-heresy of all. Jimbo declared open and instant editing to be a "sacred" principle, never to be deviated from, in 2001. Teh Communitah immediately took him at his word. Though Jimbo's influence is much diminished today, this "sacred" principle is preserved.

Plus, one needs to consider all the gamers that infest Wikipedia. To introduce a "sighted revisions" model for all articles (a badly needed reform) would abolish nearly all of the game-playing aspects of Wikipedia in one fell swoop. The gamers would rather have the whole thing crash and burn than to ever submit to that.


Actually, to be fair, Starling at one point suggests the use of requiring phone numbers to register, but it all went very quiet from there.

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Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:03 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Peter Damian wrote:
Cedric wrote:
Peter Damian wrote:
From Heilman:
Quote:
I see some of the issues with long term retention of editors being that we have not figured out a method to effectively deal with sockpuppets.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wi ... 23332.html


But sockpuppets are an inevitable consequence of the open model, aren't they? Why is no one challenging that model?

Because to even ask that question is the greatest wiki-heresy of all. Jimbo declared open and instant editing to be a "sacred" principle, never to be deviated from, in 2001. Teh Communitah immediately took him at his word. Though Jimbo's influence is much diminished today, this "sacred" principle is preserved.

Plus, one needs to consider all the gamers that infest Wikipedia. To introduce a "sighted revisions" model for all articles (a badly needed reform) would abolish nearly all of the game-playing aspects of Wikipedia in one fell swoop. The gamers would rather have the whole thing crash and burn than to ever submit to that.


Actually, to be fair, Starling at one point suggests the use of requiring phone numbers to register, but it all went very quiet from there.

WP admin at work:

Image


"I'm sorry, but the party you are trying to reach has a number that has been disconnected,


or is no longer in service. *snort* *snort*"



Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:23 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Kelly Martin wrote:
Randy from Boise wrote:
The situation now is that there is a giant pipe dumping sludge into the system and it makes it very difficult for overworked volunteers to politely and correctly filter out the "keeper" material from the dreck on the fly.
I thought that turning off the ability of unregistered editors to create new articles (the "experiment" Jimbo started in 2006) was supposed to fix that. Oh, you mean it didn't? Go figure.


If I recall correctly that was in response to the Seigenthaler incident, in which no new article was created. In other words, the "solution" to the problem was one that, if already in place, would never have prevented the problem in the first place, much like many of those high-profile and useless responses to 9/11 like not allowing you to walk your wife to the gate.

The key is to be seen to do "something" regardless of whether it can or would have had any affect on the problem you're supposedly trying to solve.


Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:43 pm
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Quote:
Because to even ask that question is the greatest wiki-heresy of all. Jimbo declared open and instant editing to be a "sacred" principle, never to be deviated from, in 2001. Teh Communitah immediately took him at his word. Though Jimbo's influence is much diminished today, this "sacred" principle is preserved.

Plus, one needs to consider all the gamers that infest Wikipedia. To introduce a "sighted revisions" model for all articles (a badly needed reform) would abolish nearly all of the game-playing aspects of Wikipedia in one fell swoop. The gamers would rather have the whole thing crash and burn than to ever submit to that.

Damn right. They will destroy it all before they will give up their "power" over it. I still think the only way Wikipedia can avoid self-immolation is to completely purge ALL the administrators, arbitrators, and hardcore trolls, and also purge the WMF's top leadership. That, combined with flagged revs and other changes to kill off vandalism and make sure knowledgeable content writers are treated with a little more respect than gamers and man-boys, might just barely be enough to keep it from declining.

And please, show Jimbo the door, because he is the most baleful and negative influence of all. Thank him for his 12 years of "dedicated support", give him a big ugly trophy, and walk him out.

None of this will happen. The very people pissing on each other on the mailing list are the ones who will prevent change.

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Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:31 pm WWW
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
Admin stats.


Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:35 am
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
EricBarbour wrote:
Quote:
Because to even ask that question is the greatest wiki-heresy of all. Jimbo declared open and instant editing to be a "sacred" principle, never to be deviated from, in 2001. Teh Communitah immediately took him at his word. Though Jimbo's influence is much diminished today, this "sacred" principle is preserved.

Plus, one needs to consider all the gamers that infest Wikipedia. To introduce a "sighted revisions" model for all articles (a badly needed reform) would abolish nearly all of the game-playing aspects of Wikipedia in one fell swoop. The gamers would rather have the whole thing crash and burn than to ever submit to that.

Damn right. They will destroy it all before they will give up their "power" over it. I still think the only way Wikipedia can avoid self-immolation is to completely purge ALL the administrators, arbitrators, and hardcore trolls, and also purge the WMF's top leadership. That, combined with flagged revs and other changes to kill off vandalism and make sure knowledgeable content writers are treated with a little more respect than gamers and man-boys, might just barely be enough to keep it from declining.

And please, show Jimbo the door, because he is the most baleful and negative influence of all. Thank him for his 12 years of "dedicated support", give him a big ugly trophy, and walk him out.

None of this will happen. The very people pissing on each other on the mailing list are the ones who will prevent change.

I think it's too late for any of that whether or not Jimbo and the WMF come to their senses. But they won't, so to use that word so beloved of Wikipedians, which makes my skin crawl whenever I see it, it's "moot".


Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:03 am
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Unread post Re: New paper on Wikipedia's decline
HRIP7 wrote:

613 active admins is about 600 too many.


Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:06 am
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