User:Timeshifter/More articles and less editors

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Active editors on English Wikipedia over time.png

There are more articles and less editors on English Wikipedia. Therefore editing must become more efficient, friendly, and welcoming for both occasional editors and active editors. Newcomers have the same problems whether they are editing new articles or existing articles. In either case it can take forever to resolve many content disputes. There are 3 main reasons for that in my opinion. One; lack of a friendly, quick, content dispute resolution method. Two; lack of something as simple as the ability to watchlist individual discussions on talk pages. Three; admin misconduct that drives away editors. Solving these 3 problems may help stabilize the number of editors. See proposal based on moderators after the charts below. Moderators are common on many other websites. Individual discussion watchlisting has long been requested. There are solutions, but they are being blocked for various reasons. Some subpage-based forums would be very helpful. See: Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 93#Convert Village Pump to Wikia Community Forum software and its subsections. See one of the Wikia Village Pumps, for example; the General Discussion one. The threads can be sorted by most recent reply, or by most replies. It is probably possible to adapt it to allow sorting by thread start date too.

See: The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration Community – How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline.

The English edition of Wikipedia has grown to 5,431,165 articles, equivalent to over 1,600 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. See: Template:Numberofarticles and history of Wikipedia.
The "holy-%$#!" chart. Active editors (blue) and the one-year retention rate (red) on the English Wikipedia.
Active editors over time. See more charts.

Editors are leaving for various reasons. Many editors have been driven away. See: User:Timeshifter/Userboxes.

Phase Portrait Unstable Proper Node.svg The lack of enough moderators and arbitrators drives away editors and donations. More info.
Phase Portrait Unstable Proper Node.svg Rude or speedy deletions of articles and categories drive away editors and donations. See also.
Phase Portrait Unstable Proper Node.svg Non-admin closures of articles and categories drive away editors and donations. See also.

Stats and charts[edit]

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Links and discussion[edit]

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For more info and ideas for improvement see:

News media and other articles[edit]

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Possible solution. Large group of moderators[edit]

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Create a large group of moderators
Moderators can only get involved officially if they are invited in by an editor.
The same moderator can both discuss and decide a content dispute
This is after a week of discussion on the article talk page, and if no consensus is otherwise reached.
Editors of an article can always reach consensus on their own
They can change or revise any content decision, even one made by a mod. That consensus has to be genuine though, and not pushed through without participation and discussion. The mod who made the last decision on the issue can reverse it otherwise. Then if an editor is not satisfied a new mod can be called in for another week of moderated discussion followed by their decision.
Any other mod can change a content dispute decision
After a week an editor can call for a different mod. Then after another week of discussion on the article talk page the new mod can make a decision.
Labeled talk archives for such moderated discussions and decisions
Titled something like "Moderated content disputes". That way it is searchable along with all other discussion for that article.
A moderator misconduct noticeboard
This is to ensure mod compliance with Wikipedia guidelines, and if necessary to get rid of biased mods who make decisions without adequate discussion, and who refuse to make content decisions according to WP:NPOV.
Full admins can act as moderators too
Some admins may have the time and interest at times to moderate content discussions.
The main point of this proposal is an additional group to resolve content disputes
Admin rights are no longer a part of this group or proposal.

More ideas[edit]

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More articles, less editors, and many low-quality articles. Many people try their hand at editing articles. Many are driven away by a lack of understanding, by intimidating warning messages, admin curtness and rudeness, fanboy groupthink among editors and admins, obtuse and byzantine content dispute resolution, and other unwelcoming things.

With the declining number of active editors on Wikipedia I see a lack of quality in many articles. I do not do much actual article editing anymore myself on Wikipedia. I edit much more content on other wikis where one can do it more efficiently with far less drama. Registered vandals waste my time here on Wikipedia. Moderation is very inadequate. I tend to post and run more. We need moderators who can handle content disputes. Moderators are common on other websites.

Unfortunately, admins are not the solution. They are not enough of them to take on the added burden of moderation. The number of admins is declining over time, the same as the number of active editors. See {{NUMBEROFADMINS}}: 1,262. The number of active admins is usually around half of that number. The Wikimedia Foundation requires a strict admin approval process for admins with undelete rights. See: Wikipedia:List of administrators‎ and Commons:Category:Admin statistics for English Wikipedia. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2012-06-18/Investigative report. The report is called "Is the Requests for adminship process 'broken'?"

Moderators (mods) could be a solution to the lack of adequate content dispute moderation and resolution. Editors could ask mods to enter into discussion on an article talk page, and to make specific suggestions on how to settle a content dispute.

Content-dispute moderators versus WP:Edit warring[edit]

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WP:Edit warring. Since there is currently no adequate content dispute resolution the admins often use WP:Edit warring sanctions. WP:Edit warring is a completely arbitrary policy that drives away many editors. Due to its vagueness and arbitrariness WP:Edit warring is almost diabolically efficient in driving away active editors. It is inevitable that active editors will arrive at content disputes one after another, especially as they edit more and more controversial topics. After a few arbitrary admin rulings (it happens often with WP:Edit warring) even the most thick-skinned active editors often give up, and stop editing articles regularly.

Content dispute resolution is often a waiting game as to who outlasts who. Or editors join the legions of editors who have stopped regularly editing Wikipedia articles. The gamesmanship (waiting games, etc.) could be greatly curtailed if moderators were involved early on. Right now there is very little moderation. Guidelines are not much moderation since they are interpreted in many ways, or ignored.

A moderator has will have a certain acceptance from users since they have to be approved to become a moderator, and have to respect WP:NPOV to continue as a moderator. Otherwise, a moderator misconduct noticeboard will deal with them. So when editors in a content dispute ask moderators questions, especially about guideline interpretation, they have some assurance that the moderator knows something about what they are talking about. Many content disputes revolve around divergent POVs. Moderators will know that showing all significant viewpoints on a particular issue is the correct interpretation of WP:NPOV. Many content disputes can be settled in many cases by a simple understanding of the guidelines. But how are many editors going to figure this out?

Wikipedia has become like gang warfare at times. WP:Edit warring is the perfect tool for some admins who enjoy the fanboy groupthink cheers of their particular gang of admins. The best editing lately is done by WikiProjects who can overcome arbitrary admin rulings. On Wikipedia the admins frequently have to step in: WP:3RR, page protection, incivility warnings and blocks, etc.. These admins are for the most part unaccountable in any simple way. WikiProjects have a better chance of understanding all the obtuse processes necessary to get things done. Also, Wikipedia admin culture is ganglike in that it has a very paternalistic systemic bias. The vast majority of Wikipedia admins and editors are male. More female admins and editors are needed (see Wikipedia:Teahouse).

ArbCom does not deal with content disputes, except peripherally. It handles conduct disputes, personal disputes, etc.. It handles them poorly, because it ignores the content disputes at their root for the most part. It often blocks those in disagreement over content from the topics in question. Many times for a year, or indefinitely. It often blocks those currently most knowledgeable about a topic. Sometimes other knowledgeable people will show up. They often will again disagree on the same content. In the end the ArbCom rulings are often as arbitrary as the rulings admins make using WP:Edit warring. If things get bad enough the whole topic is put on WP:1RR and some admins are requested to monitor it on an ongoing basis.

That last part, the admins monitoring the situation, is actually a good thing. That is often what should have happened much earlier. It took years for this to happen with the Israeli-Palestinian topic area, for example. See WP:ARBPIA (see under "Further remedies"). Those admins monitoring the topic end up informally helping to resolve content disputes too. That is a very good thing.

We need a whole class of such moderators, but without having to go through the burdensome approval process required for admins. Admins only have to go through such a strict, abusive process because the Wikimedia Foundation requires it for any admin with delete and undelete rights. A separate class of moderators would not need a burdensome approval process. And anyway, with a moderator misconduct noticeboard overly problematic moderators will have their moderator and closing rights removed.

Wikimedia Foundation board and staff need editing and collaboration experience[edit]

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From Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2012-08-20/Op-ed is this: "Many Foundation employees don't understand editor needs because they are not editors." That explains a lot. I was wondering about the editing experience of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) board and employees. Does anybody know the percentage of board members that have little or no editing experience? I don't think there should be any board members who do not have adequate editing experience. How can people run an organization they do not understand? Same for employees. They should not have been hired to begin with.

Now that they are part of Wikimedia they need to do enough editing soon to get some real experience, or they should be fired. At least not rehired. It explains why the Board and some employees seem so out of touch. They get little feedback too. Because people can not easily integrate the WMF site watchlist, nor the Meta wiki watchlist, into the English Wikipedia watchlist. So people trying to communicate with them do not follow up much if at all.

There is a lack of quality group collaboration and discussion due to poor problem solving methods, and inadequate discussion software in the Village Pumps and elsewhere. LiquidThreads, used at MediaWiki.org, is an abomination, developed without broad feedback. It mainly got feedback at the near-useless Meta-Wiki. What is needed is more group problem solving, section watchlisting, and less reliance on support and oppose votes. There is some collaborative effort in Bugzilla threads, but the format is only partially compatible with MediaWiki formatting. All in all, Wikipedia could learn a lot from Khan Academy and its as-needed group problem-solving methodology. Some subpage-based forums would be very helpful too. See: Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 93#Convert Village Pump to Wikia Community Forum software and its subsections. See one of the new Wikia Community Central forums, for example; the General Discussion one. The forum threads can be watchlisted individually, and can be sorted by most recent reply, or by most replies. It is probably possible to adapt it to allow sorting by thread start date too. See also the old Wikia Founder & Admin Forums. Individual threads can be watchlisted, and it uses standard wiki discussion page editing which some prefer to the new forums. It also has the better, more complete, editing toolbar.

The WMF board and staff should communicate mainly via English Wikipedia. The Meta wiki should be transferred to English Wikipedia pages, or to the Wikimedia Commons. Then the Meta Wiki should be shut down. Along with the Strategy Wiki. They are near useless wikis responsible for terrible products such as LiquidThreads. Terrible because they got little back-and-forth intense feedback. Impossible without the discussion being integrated into the English Wikipedia and/or Wikimedia Commons watchlists.

I am an admin-bureaucrat on a Wikia wiki, and I currently have over 36,000 edits there. Wikia sucks in so many ways. Those in charge there have the same main problem that the WMF board and staff has. People get hired who have little or no wiki editing experience, and are often clueless. They reinvent the wheel, ignore feedback, and do not have open, transparent discussions.

One good thing about Wikia is that central, community discussions between editors across the wikis are very useful and productive. There are many expert coders participating. They fix innumerable problems caused by the Wikia staff and its software experimentation. Wiki admins add the custom fixes across many wikis.

Those central, community forums at Wikia are much better organized than the Village Pumps here, and have much better software. That is the model that should have been used for getting more feedback on LiquidThreads.

Visual editor[edit]

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"We're aiming for the Visual Editor to become the 'default' editor - that is, when you click the 'edit' button, you get the Visual Editor." -- Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-03-25/Technology report.

If the Wikipedia visual editor is as slow and buggy as the visual editor at Wikia, then there may be a serious drop in the number of edits from anonymous editors. I suggest leaving the wikitext editor (source editor used now) as the default editor. One would access the visual editor by clicking "Visual Editor". This would be the safe, conservative path of implementation.

I stopped using the Visual Editor on Wikia years ago, as have most regular Wikia editors I have communicated with. I even had to disable it in preferences because it severely slowed down my editing since I could not put the wikitext editor on top by default. I had to click on the wikitext editor tab (source editing) for almost every single edit. I had to do that because the visual editor was, and is, so buggy and slow.

Please be sure that we can choose which editor is on top in preferences. People will also need an option to disable it altogether because its loading in the background may slow things down too.

I am in the process of leaving Wikia and forking most of my wiki to a pure MediaWiki wiki farm. (March 2013). I am amazed at how much more work I am getting done. Wikia's many changes in many areas caused so many slowdowns in ease and speed of use. I had forgotten how fast a pure MediaWiki site is for mass editing. Please do not make the same mistake on Wikipedia. Right now Wikipedia editing is very fast. Let's keep it that way, by implementing visual editor as a background option, not as an abrupt in-your-face default option. Be ready to disable it and work on it further if the number of edits goes down. The purpose of the visual editor is to increase the number of edits, not lessen the number.

Since the number of active editors on English Wikipedia is declining it is important that editing be made easier and faster, not buggy and slower. So that the total number of edits goes up in spite of the declining number of editors. For the same reason content disputes need to be fairly resolved more efficiently. We need all this because of the increasing number of articles. See: User:Timeshifter/More articles and less editors. Here is a good summary chart below. It says the maximum number (ever) of active editors (5 or more edits in the last month) was 51,370 in March 2007. See also: commons:Category:English Wikipedia active editor statistics for more stats and charts. Active editors on English Wikipedia over time.png