News and notes
Foundation reports editor trends, technology plans and communication changes
Citing editor statistics, Foundation presents upcoming product plans
Age (in "wiki-years") of editors who made at least 50 edits in 2010
"The beginning of the retention drop [red] in 2005 coincides with the explosion of active editors [blue]."
The Wikimedia Foundation's "Editor Trends Study" (commissioned in October "to help better understand the internal dynamics of our communities") was published last week. The summary lists five "early conclusions:":
- Wikipedia communities are aging [in terms of editor experience].
- The retention of New Wikipedians dropped dramatically from mid 2005 to early 2007, and has since remained low.
- This trend cannot be simply attributed to increased newbie experimentation or vandalism.
- Editor retention has not worsened over the past three years.
- The retention rate of long-time editors is about 75–80%.
In a letter to Wikimedians ("March 2011 Update", advertised via CentralNotice – the English version has so far received over 18000 views), the Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director Sue Gardner presented the study's results, interpreting them as follows:
||"Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble successfully joining the Wikimedia community. ... Here’s what we think is happening: As successful communities get really big, they naturally suffer growing pains. New people flood in, creating an Eternal September effect, in which the existing community struggles to integrate the newbies while at the same time striving to preserve the ability to do its work. It does that by developing self-repair and defense mechanisms – which in our case, turned out to be things like bot- and script-supported reverts, deletions, user warnings, and complex policies. All those mechanisms are obviously helpful ... But they’ve also made it harder and harder for new people to join us, which in turn seems to have made experienced editors' work harder as well.
She then went on to name "Openness Begets Participation" as a strategy to solve the problem ("I believe we need to make editing fun again for everybody: both new editors and experienced editors. ... Quality and openness go hand in hand"), and outlined "The Year Ahead", based on the Foundation's "Product Whitepaper" (Signpost coverage, "a comprehensive analysis of our product priorities" based on its 2010–15 strategic plan (with "product" being defined as "technology through which people receive and develop Wikimedia content"). The following priorities were named, some of them comprising already ongoing efforts:
- Create a visual editor
- Improve the newbie experience
- Support community growth in developing countries
- Serve audiences on all devices
- Create a delightful experience for contributing and reviewing multimedia
The 4,000 most active Wikipedians compared to the rest of the EN Wikipedia community as of March 2, 2011.
In related news, Kevin Rutherford recently analyzed the edit numbers of the most active editors on the English Wikipedia (by edit count), concluding that 27% of all edits have been done by a core group of 4,000 editors. In the last three years the number of edits needed to get onto List of 4,000 Wikipedians who have done the most edits rose from 5,000 edits to 11,426. Since the start of last year the number of editors breaking the 100,000 barrier has jumped by more than half, from 68 to 109, whilst the number of editors who have contributed over 200,000 edits has doubled from ten to twenty. This prompted a proposal to broaden the list from the 4,000 editors with the highest edit count to 5,000. So as of 9 March 2011, all editors with 9,168 edits or more are on the latest list (though some have opted out of being named).
Foundation staff: New positions for "Movement Communications" and data analysis, chief officer leaving
Last week, the Wikimedia Foundation posted a job opening for a Movement Communications Manager, a new position (reporting to the Head of Communications, currently Jay Walsh), whose purpose will be to "serve the Wikimedia community and Wikimedia Foundation staff by increasing the quantity and quality of communications between and among the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia community." The list of job duties, apart from those concerning the communication of the achievements of Wikimedia projects to an external audience, also indicates planned changes to the interaction between the Foundation and volunteers:
- Develop an internal, movement communications strategy for WMF that leverages pre-existing platforms (wikis, blogs, mailing lists, etc) and proposes new methods for bringing stories, mission-critical and general information to the 100,000+ strong Wikimedia community.
- Establish a Foundation-wide, information broadcast schedule to enable more predictable and consistent sharing of Foundation news, activities and accomplishments with the community."
- Build strong relationships with Wikimedia project representatives (Wikipedia and its sister projects), chapter members, and informal organizations (including student groups) to improve the quality and quantity of story-telling directed at users, contributors, media, and important stakeholders.
- Actively monitor and participate in discussions on mailing lists.
Another job opening was posted for a Data Analyst and Researcher who "on a day-to-day basis ... will create, mine and analyze data to help understand readers and editors of different Wikimedia projects, especially Wikipedia, across different geographies", and based on them create "reports, charts, graphs, maps and tables" to "concisely, clearly and meaningfully convey information for a lay audience, Wikimedia community and the foundation."
Outgoing CFOO Veronique Kessler
In other staff news, Veronique Kessler, who has been the Foundation's Chief Financial and Operating Officer (CFOO) since February 2008, announced she will leave for family reasons at the end of June, after completing the development of the 2011–12
- GLAM trip to India: Liam Wyatt (User:Witty lama) has published a report on his recent trip to India as the Wikimedia Foundation's fellow for GLAMs (collaboration with cultural institutions).
- Legal concerns about freedom of panorama and 2D reproductions in Germany: The German Wikimedia chapter recently published a legal opinion concerning the use of images on Wikipedia under German law, commissioned from its longtime counsel, Berlin law firm JBB. Regarding the reuse of reproduction photographs of two-dimensional public domain (gemeinfrei) works – the German equivalent of Bridgeman v. Corel -, it controversially stated that as long as the debate about the corresponding clause in German law (§ 72 UrhG) was still open, it had to be assumed that such reproductions "can not be used in Wikipedia unless the (reproduction) photographer has permitted the reuse". Another controversial conclusion was that while photos taken from a public place of copyrighted buildings and sculptures that are permanently located in such a place may be freely reproduced under the freedom of panorama clause (see also Commons:Freedom of panorama) as long as they are attributed, it is nevertheless not possible to publish them under a free license such as the CC-BY-SA, because the same clause (§ 59 UrhG) prohibited modifications. While presenting the expertise, Mathias Schindler from Wikimedia Deutschland emphasized that it "does not have an immediate impact on current practices, e.g. on Wikimedia Commons, and should be understood as a contribution to the continued discussion within the projects."
- Wikimedia Hungary report: The Hungarian Wikimedia chapter published its report for February 2011.
- Catalan report: The Amical Viquipèdia ("Friends of Wikipedia") association of Catalan Wikipedians has published its report for December to February.
- Wikimedia Netherlands report: Wikimedia Nederland published their report for February, mentioning among other things ongoing work on the upcoming Europe-wide "Wiki Loves Monuments" campaign
- New article feedback analysis: A further analysis on data from the pilot project exploring the use of the Article feedback tool has been published
- DMCA takedown: The Wikimedia Foundation recently received and acted upon a DMCA takedown notice by CEDRO, a Spanish author's rights society, concerning a link on the Spanish Wikipedia.
- More than 9000 articles deleted on the Hindi Wikipedia: In a blog post titled "Quantity over quality: The sad story of Hindi Wikipedia", Utkarshraj Atmaram (User:Utcursch) reported that over 9450 of its articles (nearly one seventh of all articles of the Hindi Wikipedia) appeared to be exactly identical except for one word in the lead ("XYZ is a village of Uttarakhand, India"), despite being over 5000 bytes long – the rest of each article was mostly filled by a brief history of the Uttarakhand state. The articles have since been deleted.
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