News and notes
Wikipedians' surfing habits explored, Sloan Foundation renews $3M grant; brief news
Wikipedians' surfing habits explored
On the Wikimedia Foundation's blog, results from the Editor Survey that ran in April 2011 were published this week. They show that Facebook is the most popular online activity of Wikimedians with the social networking sites beating other activities such as watching online videos, using instant messaging and tweeting. Indeed, 68% of Wikipedia editors use Facebook compared to only 30% who use Twitter, while only 18% of Wikipedia editors play online multi-player games including World of Warcraft and uptake of online games such as Farmville and Cityville is limited to the same percentage. 29% of editors blog, whilst only a slightly lower percentage (22%) say that they actively contribute to the development of open-source software (including, but not limited to, MediaWiki itself).
Sloan Foundation renews grant
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic funding institution, announced this week that it will award a grant of $3 million to the Wikimedia Foundation. This is the second grant of this amount awarded to the Wikimedia Foundation from the Sloan Foundation's Universal Access to Knowledge component of its Digital Information Technology program. The Sloan Foundation's first grant of $3 million, awarded in 2008 and with effect through to 2010, represents the largest single grant ever received by the Wikimedia Foundation. In announcing its renewal, the WMF described the previous grant as having enabled the Foundation to "grow its core operations to support and sustain Wikipedia as a high-quality free knowledge resource". The Wikimedia Foundation is "delighted to have received this vote of continued confidence in its work".
Speaking for the Sloan Foundation, Doron Weber said that "Wikipedia embodies the ideal values of the world wide web and we are proud to be part of this bold endeavor to use the wisdom and the altruism of the crowd to create the biggest, most up-to-date and most open global encyclopedia in human history", whilst the WMF are confident that the funds will help with "increasing Wikipedia's quality, increasing the number and demographic diversity of its editors, and reaching more readers, particularly in the global south".
The English Wikipedia may have a declining number of active editors (blue) but the number of those involved in vandal fighting (red) is declining faster (logarithmic scale).
- Less vandalism and fewer vandal fighters: A Summer of Research investigation by EpochFail into "vandal fighting" on the English Wikipedia in the period 2007 to 2010 found that the amount of vandalism left for editors to cleanup has been reducing over the years and suggests that this could be the result of improvements in the quality of both edit filters (first introduced in March 2009) and anti-vandalism bots. The research also found that the proportion of editors involved in reverting vandalism has fallen over time, even as the community itself has contracted.
- Wiki Loves Monuments contest: The Wikimedia Foundation blog carried a post about the second annual "Wiki loves monuments" photo scavenger hunt, which is to be held in September in 16 countries across Europe. The contests are being organized by Wikimedia local chapters, and in some countries without chapters, local Wikimedians have organized the contests in their place. However, on the mailing list of the UK chapter, which is not taking part, volunteer Charles Matthews opined that the competition had lacked a "clear brief as to what that involved", a charge denied by project organisers.
- Language coverage investigated: Milos Rancic, an editor and board candidate in this year's elections, published his analysis of the state of language diversity within the Wikimedia movement this week on the foundation-l mailing list. He concluded that although 270 languages have had recognised projects, only 12 languages have projects in all 7 categories; his report prompted a debate about the optimal role of the WMF in supporting languages in decline, if any.
- Meetups: Community meet-ups took place last week in Bhagalpur (July 7); Pune (July 9); London (July 10) and Bangalore (July 10).
- Summer of Research underway at Foundation: The Foundation's Steven Walling posted images of the Summer of Research program. Details of the research being done can be seen on Meta.
- Article Feedback moves out of trial phase: Starting on 12 July, the ArticleFeedback extension will be rolled out across the English Wikipedia's 3.5 million articles. The deployment is expected to last some 10 days as new articles are added to the enabled list in batches, according to the Foundation's software deployments page. It is currently enabled for just 100,000.
- One new English Wikipedia administrator. Worm That Turned (nom) lives in England and works in the Information Technology (IT) field. He has been helping with OTRS tickets, and now will be able to handle things he previously had to skip over because he was not an administrator. (Information about new admins comes from their RfA or user pages, or from what they tell The Signpost directly.)
- On July 6, the Czech-language Wikipedia reached 200,000 articles and remains the largest reference work ever written in Czech, according to a report on the Prague Daily Monitor website, and has 679 active editors. The 200,000th article was on the ice hockey goalkeeper Ron Hextall, added by User:Gothic2. The article creation rate for Czech Wikipedia has been around 100 a day for the past three months. There were also important milestones for a number of other projects:
- The Asturian Wikipedia reached 15,000 articles on July 5.
- The Georgian Wikipedia reached 50,000 articles on July 7.
- The Croatian Wikipedia reached 100,000 articles on July 7.
- The Ukrainian Wikipedia reached 300,000 articles on July 7.
- The Cheyenne Wikipedia reached 100 articles on July 7.
- The Tatar Wikipedia reached 10,000 articles on July 8.
- The Kazakh Wikipedia reached 50,000 articles on July 9.