This is the Wikipedia Cooperative or simply, the Co-op, a planned mentorship space on Wikipedia. This project is funded through a 2014 Individual Engagement Grant (IEG) titled Reimagining Wikipedia Mentorship. We will be using this space to pilot our mentorship space and help us test predictions we have and begin to answer questions we've posed regarding benefits for learners, mentors, and Wikipedia more generally. This project was largely borne out of an earlier proposal developed by Steven Zhang and the late Jackson Peebles.
This grant was officially initiated on 15 June 2014.
There are a number of help spaces on Wikipedia at present that have been successful, but we believe there are gaps in these spaces that ultimately do not allow editors to get the help they need. We want to make mentorship accessible to both learners and mentors by breaking down ways of contributing to Wikipedia into manageable pieces, matching learners to mentors based on the learner's needs and the mentor's skills, and focusing actual mentorship on the learner's specific editing goals rather than on a comprehensive understanding of Wikipedia.
Some initial research we have done in addition to existing work has indicated some issues with regard to mentorship that we intend to address in this project:
- One major reason that new editors become frustrated and leave Wikipedia is because their edits are reverted.
- In 2011, the median time for an editor to become adopted through the adopt-a-user program was around 4 days.
- In other online communities, isolating users outside the mainstream yields negative results with regard to work quality and connection to that community.
- In a recent and preliminary poll of about 25 editors who contribute to various help spaces on Wikipedia, we found that these mentors:
- ...were motivated to mentor because they wanted to share their knowledge and help editors with their needs.
- ...were mostly experienced in policy, article development, and formatting.
- ...are confident in what they are teaching, and feel that their expertise is helpful for the learners they teach, but are uncertain about what learners want to understand or what their goals are.
- ...interacted with a specific learner about 2-3 times per month.
- ...felt that mentorship did improve learners' experience of Wikipedia generally.
- Halfaker, A., Geiger, R. S., Morgan, J. T., & Riedl, J. (2013). The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia's Reaction to Popularity Is Causing Its Decline. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(5), 664–688. doi:10.1177/0002764212469365
- Musicant, D. R., Ren, Y., Johnson, J. A., & Riedl, J. (2011, October). Mentoring in Wikipedia: a clash of cultures. In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (pp. 173-182). ACM. http://www.tc.umn.edu/~chingren/pdf/papers/wikisym-2011-Mentoring.pdf
- Farzan, R., Kraut, R., Pal, A., & Konstan, J. (2012). Socializing Volunteers in an Online Community: A Field Experiment (pp. 325–334). Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work., Seattle, WA.
What do we want to know?
- How well does the Co-op benefit Wikipedia?
- What predicts how well the Co-op works for particular editors?
- What features work best in various help spaces on Wikipedia? How does the Co-op complement other programs? What gaps still exist?
- Why do learners seek out and continue mentorship?
The Co-op is being developed by a sizeable team of editors:
- Dustin York, focusing on graphic design needs
On our talk page, we will be providing monthly updates written by one of the grantees to keep you informed of how things are progressing, problems we encounter, and decisions we make along the way. We will usually update around the 15th of each month between now and December 2014.