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WikiProject X Newsletter • Issue 1
Hi! Thank you for subscribing to the WikiProject X Newsletter. For our first issue...
Has WikiProject X changed the world yet? No.
We opened up shop last month and announced our existence to the world. Our first phase is the "research" phase, consisting mostly of reading and listening. We set up our landing page and started collecting stories. So far, 28 stories have been shared about WikiProjects, describing a variety of experiences across numerous WikiProjects. A recurring story involves a WikiProject that starts off strong but has trouble continuing to stay active. Most people describe using WikiProjects as a way to get feedback from other editors. Some quotes:
- "Working on requested articles, utilising the reliable sources section, and having an active WikiProject to ask questions in really helped me learn how to edit Wikipedia and looking back I don't know how long I would have stayed editing without that project." – Sam Walton on WikiProject Video Games
- "I believe that the main problem of the Wikiprojects is that they are complicated to use. There should be a a much simpler way to check what do do, what needs to be improved etc." – Tetra quark
- "In the late 2000s, WikiProject Film tried to emulate WP:MILHIST in having coordinators and elections. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable and ultimately fell apart." – Erik
Of course, these are just anecdotes. While they demonstrate what is possible, they do not necessarily explain what is typical. We will be using this information in conjunction with a quantitative analysis of WikiProjects, as documented on Meta. Particularly, we are interested in the measurement of WikiProject activity as it relates to overall editing in that WikiProject's subject area.
We also have 50 people and projects signed up for pilot testing, which is an excellent start! (An important caveat: one person volunteering a WikiProject does not mean the WikiProject as a whole is interested; just that there is at least one person, which is a start.)
While carrying out our research, we are documenting the problems with WikiProjects and our ideas for making WikiProjects better. Some ideas include better integration of existing tools into WikiProjects, recommendations of WikiProjects for people to join, and improved coordination with Articles for Creation. These are just ideas that may or may not make it to the design phase; we will see. We are also working with WikiProject Council to improve the directory of WikiProjects, with the goal of a reliable, self-updating WikiProject directory. Stay tuned! If you have any ideas, you are welcome to leave a note on our talk page.
That's all for now. Thank you for subscribing!
– Harej 17:21, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
That's it, the first round is done, sign-ups are closed and we're into round 2. 64 competitors made it into this round, and are now broken into eight groups of eight. The top two of each group will go through to round 3, and then the top scoring 16 "wildcards" across all groups. Round 1 saw some interesting work on some very important articles, with the round leader Freikorp (submissions) owing most of his 622 points scored to a Featured Article on the 2001 film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within which qualified for a times-two multiplier. This is a higher score than in previous years, as Godot13 (submissions) had 500 points in 2014 at the end of round 1, and our very own judge, Sturmvogel_66 (submissions) led round 1 with 601 points in 2013.
In addition to Freikorp's work, some other important articles and pictures were improved during round one, here's a snapshot of a few of them:
- Cwmhiraeth (submissions) took Bumblebee, a level-4 vital article, to Good Article;
- AHeneen (submissions) worked-up the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 article, also to Good Article status;
- Rodw (submissions) developed an extremely timely article to Good Article, taking Magna Carta there some 800 years after it was first sealed;
- And last but not least, Godot13 (submissions) worked up a number of Featured Pictures during round 1, including the 1948 one Deutsche Mark (pictured right), receiving the maximum bonus due to the number of Wikis that the related article appears in.
You may also wish to know that The Core Contest is running through the month of March. Head there for further details - they even have actual prizes!
If you are concerned that your nomination—whether it is at good article candidates, a featured process, or anywhere else—will not receive the necessary reviews, please list it on Wikipedia:WikiCup/Reviews. Questions are welcome on Wikipedia talk:WikiCup, and the judges are reachable on their talk pages or by email. Good luck! If you wish to start or stop receiving this newsletter, please feel free to add or remove yourself from Wikipedia:WikiCup/Newsletter/Send. Figureskatingfan (talk · contribs · email), Miyagawa (talk · contribs · email) and Sturmvogel 66 (talk · contribs · email)
WikiProject Research Invitation
We’d like to invite you to participate in a study that aims to explore how WikiProject members coordinate activities of distributed group members to complete project goals. We are specifically seeking to talk to people who have been active in at least one WikiProject in their time in Wikipedia. Compensation will be provided to each participant in the form of a $10 Amazon gift card.
The purpose of this study is to better understanding the coordination practices of Wikipedians active within WikiProjects, and to explore the potential for tool-mediated coordination to improve those practices. Interviews will be semi-structured, and should last between 45-60 minutes. If you decide to participate, we will schedule an appointment for the online chat session. During the appointment you will be asked some basic questions about your experience interacting in WikiProjects, how that process has worked for you in the past and what ideas you might have to improve the future.
You must be over 18 years old, speak English, and you must currently be or have been at one time an active member of a WikiProject. The interview can be conducted over an audio chatting channel such as Skype or Google Hangouts, or via an instant messaging client. If you have questions about the research or are interested in participating, please contact Michael Gilbert at (206) 354-3741 or by email at email@example.com.
We cannot guarantee the confidentiality of information sent by email.
Link to Research Page: m:Research:Means_and_methods_of_coordination_in_WikiProjects
Thanks for your help with the Dual Survival article
I just recently got interested in editing Wiki articles and was adding episodes in to the Dual Survival wiki when it seems I broke the display. I kept trying to fix the display but everything looked fine in the edit section. I hated leaving it all messed up but I am very thankful that you fixed it.
WikiProject X Newsletter • Issue 2
For this month's issue...
Making sense of a lot of data.
Work on our prototype will begin imminently. In the meantime, we have to understand what exactly we're working with. To this end, we generated a list of 71 WikiProjects, based on those brought up on our Stories page and those who had signed up for pilot testing. For those projects where people told stories, we coded statements within those stories to figure out what trends there were in these stories. This approach allowed us to figure out what Wikipedians thought of WikiProjects in a very organic way, with very little by way of a structure. (Compare this to a structured interview, where specific questions are asked and answered.) This analysis was done on 29 stories. Codes were generally classified as "benefits" (positive contributions made by a WikiProject to the editing experience) and "obstacles" (issues posed by WikiProjects, broadly speaking). Codes were generated as I went along, ensuring that codes were as close to the original data as possible. Duplicate appearances of a code for a given WikiProject were removed.
We found 52 "benefit" statements encoded and 34 "obstacle" statements. The most common benefit statement referring to the project's active discussion and participation, followed by statements referring to a project's capacity to guide editor activity, while the most common obstacles made reference to low participation and significant burdens on the part of the project maintainers and leaders. This gives us a sense of WikiProjects' big strength: they bring people together, and can be frustrating to editors when they fail to do so. Meanwhile, it is indeed very difficult to bring editors together on a common interest; in the absence of a highly motivated core of organizers, the technical infrastructure simply isn't there.
We wanted to pair this qualitative study with quantitative analysis of a WikiProject and its "universe" of pages, discussions, templates, and categories. To this end I wrote a script called ProjAnalysis which will, for a given WikiProject page (e.g. Wikipedia:WikiProject Star Trek) and WikiProject talk-page tag (e.g. Template:WikiProject Star Trek), will give you a list of usernames of people who edited within the WikiProject's space (the project page itself, its talk page, and subpages), and within the WikiProject's scope (the pages tagged by that WikiProject, excluding the WikiProject space pages). The output is an exhaustive list of usernames. We ran the script to analyze our test batch of WikiProjects for edits between March 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015, and we subjected them to further analysis to only include those who made 10+ edits to pages in the projects' scope, those who made 4+ edits to the projects' space, and those who made 10+ edits to pages in scope but not 4+ edits to pages in the projects' space. This latter metric gives us an idea of who is active in a certain subject area of Wikipedia, yet who isn't actively engaging on the WikiProject's pages. This information will help us prioritize WikiProjects for pilot testing, and the ProjAnalysis script in general may have future life as an application that can be used by Wikipedians to learn about who is in their community.
Complementing the above two studies are a design analysis, which summarizes the structure of the different WikiProject spaces in our test batch, and the comprehensive census of bots and tools used to maintain WikiProjects, which will be finished soon. With all of this information, we will have a game plan in place! We hope to begin working with specific WikiProjects soon.
As a couple of asides...
- Database Reports has existed for several years on Wikipedia to the satisfaction of many, but many of the reports stopped running when the Toolserver was shut off in 2014. However, there is good news: the weekly New WikiProjects and WikiProjects by Changes reports are back, with potential future reports in the future.
- WikiProject X has an outpost on Wikidata! Check it out. It's not widely publicized, but we are interested in using Wikidata as a potential repository for metadata about WikiProjects, especially for WikiProjects that exist on multiple Wikimedia projects and language editions.
That's all for now. Thank you for subscribing! If you have any questions or comments, please share them with us.
WikiProject X Newsletter • Issue 3
Greetings! For this month's issue...
We have demos!
After a lengthy research and design process, we decided for WikiProject X to focus on two things:
- A WikiProject workflow that focuses on action items: discussions you can participate in and tasks you can perform to improve the encyclopedia; and
- An automatically updating WikiProject directory that gives you lists of users participating in the WikiProject and editing in that subject area.
We have a live demonstration of the new WikiProject workflow at WikiProject Women in Technology, a brand new WikiProject that was set up as an adjunct to a related edit-a-thon in Washington, DC. The goal is to surface action items for editors, and we intend on doing that through automatically updated working lists. We are looking into using SuggestBot to generate lists of outstanding tasks, and we are looking into additional options for automatic worklist generation. This takes the burden off of WikiProject editors to generate these worklists, though there is also a "requests" section for Wikipedians to make individual requests. (As of writing, these automated lists are not yet live, so you will see a blank space under "edit articles" on the demo WikiProject. Sorry about that!) I invite you to check out the WikiProject and leave feedback on WikiProject X's talk page.
Once the demo is sufficiently developed, we will be working on a limited deployment on our pilot WikiProjects. We have selected five for the first round of testing based on the highest potential for impact and will scale up from there.
While a re-designed WikiProject experience is much needed, that alone isn't enough. A WikiProject isn't any good if people have no way of discovering it. This is why we are also developing an automatically updated WikiProject directory. This directory will surface project-related metrics, including a count of active WikiProject participants and of active editors in that project's subject area. The purpose of these metrics is to highlight how active the WikiProject is at the given point of time, but also to highlight that project's potential for success. The directory is not yet live but there is a demonstration featuring a sampling of WikiProjects.
Each directory entry will link to a WikiProject description page which automatically list the active WikiProject participants and subject-area article editors. This allows Wikipedians to find each other based on the areas they are interested in, and this information can be used to revive a WikiProject, start a new one, or even for some other purpose. These description pages are not online yet, but they will use this template, if you want to get a feel of what they will look like.
We need volunteers!
WikiProject X is a huge undertaking, and we need volunteers to support our efforts, including testers and coders. Check out our volunteer portal and see what you can do to help us!
As an aside...
Wouldn't it be cool if lists of requested articles could not only be integrated directly with WikiProjects, but also shared between WikiProjects? Well, we got the crazy idea of having experimental software feature Flow deployed (on a totally experimental basis) on the new Article Request Workshop, which seeks to be a place where editors can "workshop" article ideas before they get created. It uses Flow because Flow allows, essentially, section-level categorization, and in the future will allow "sections" (known as "topics" within Flow) to be included across different pages. What this means is that you have a recommendation for a new article tagged by multiple WikiProjects, allowing for the recommendation to appear on lists for each WikiProject. This will facilitate inter-WikiProject collaboration and will help to reduce duplicated work. The Article Request Workshop is not entirely ready yet due to some bugs with Flow, but we hope to integrate it into our pilot WikiProjects at some point.