Jimmy Wales on "community design" and introducing page histories
A recent book titled "Designing Media", by Bill Moggridge, contains interviews "with thirty-seven people who have made significant creative contributions to the design and development of media", among them one with Jimmy Wales. As summarized in a Guardian article last week, "Wales actually describes what he does as 'community design'. ... Wikipedia is not just an anarchic piece of crowd-sourcing: it's a carefully designed eco-system. ... It's often described as 'democratic', but Wales himself thinks of it more as a monarchy, with the writers overseen by moderators who are in turn overseen by the king – King Jimbo, as he's known." Wales also talked about how he introduced permanent page histories to Wikipedia's wiki: "In the early days, when I first set up Wikipedia, I really thought we were going to have to lock everything down very quickly", but then, after noticing that most edits were benign,
Very quickly I changed the software to keep all of the old versions because I realized that eliminates a major vulnerability. When the software was first installed, I think it kept five revisions. So people sometimes ask, 'What was the first article in Wikipedia?' and nobody knows because for the first few weeks or so we only kept the first five revisions, so the very earliest history got lost. I know what the first words were. I typed, 'Hello World,' which is an old thing programmers always do.
Are featured articles read more often?: A paper by four Spanish researchers, announced last month, looked at the articles that were awarded featured article status in the month of October 2009 on the six largest Wikipedias, and examined their pageview numbers (based on log data from the Wikimedia Foundation's Squid servers) in the months of September, October and November 2009. According to the announcement, "the results show that the featured article mechanism only increases visits to articles in the English Wikipedia, while in other top editions of Wikipedia the level of visits does not change when the articles are marked as featured" – with the exception of the Polish Wikipedia, where readership numbers rose in the month after promotion, while on the English Wikipedia they fell back to the September levels, too.
Artists illustrate Wikipedia: At Wikipediaillustrated.org, artist/illustrator Galia Offri and designer/educator Mushon Zer-Aviv have started a blog "to share the process of creating 26 illustrations to 26 Wikipedia articles (alphabetically ordered)." The project is planned to involve a workshop and a panel discussion at the Transmediale Festival in Berlin in February 2011.