Proposal:Moving beyond moribund WikiProjects to new platforms for collaboration

Status (see valid statuses)

The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content.
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation.


In order to reverse the troubling trend of editors leaving Wikipedia (i.e. improve the recruitment and retention of new writers) it's necessary we move beyond moribund WikiProjects to new platforms for collaboration. This is already addressed, in part, by the "Attracting and retaining participants" portion of the current Wikimedia Strategic Plan. My proposal deals with how we get from where we are now (in en.wikipedia, littered with moribund WikiProjects) to where the Strategic Plan takes us: the introduction of more social/collaborative tools to the Wiki, including "Users would be able to join topical groups, based on their editing interests (e.g., “18th century American history)". My proposal is about how we get from here to there.


The MediaWiki platform, at present, is fair to poor at supporting collaboration, and moribund WikiProject corpses are increasingly blocking the path forward toward a new paradigm for a more collaborative Wikipedia. WikiProject History's collaboration of the month is listed as October...possibly an October from the previous decade. My attempts to revive teamwork and re-start collaboration on WikiProject History–here, and WikiProject Chinese History–here, have never been answered by anyone. We must put ourselves in the shoes of a brand new, yet talented, editor approaching en.wikipedia for collaboration on an article rewrite. Among editors, especially the newer editors, WikiProjects create the impression that collaboration is ongoing when it often isn't. Thus, it helps prevent new blood from launching new collaborations, stifling the collaborative environment that improves articles, fosters peace and understanding, and retains talented writers. The absence of a cordial, supportive, collaborative platform hurts retention and leaves behind an often caustic "lone wolf" culture that can repel women from the project. The Wikimedia team has understood for years that in order to close the startling gender gap, editing must be a much more social experience. The potential "whittling down" each year of our pool of talented writers is the greatest threat to Wikipedia, as we must increase the number of editors, especially expert editors, to be able to fix the sprawling hellscape of weak, inaccurate and incomplete articles that drag down the project (especially in the area of the social sciences and humanities, which correctly pointed out at today's 2011 Wikipedia in Higher Education summit). Retaining good people is the greatest danger to en.wikipedia's success; though edit warring gets more attention, WP:DONTBEADICK and dispute resolution is crucial to the extent it effects retention of editors. We really need to keep good editors around, and I believe a more social, collaborative platform would go a long way toward that goal. We also must transition to what the Wikimedia Strategic Plan to 2015 foresees as "topical groups" based on editing interests.


I propose that:

  • First, we as a community must recognize that letting dead WikiProjects lie around and block the paths of collaboration is not helpful.
  • Second, we need new criteria for flagging WikiProjects inactive. At present, many, if not most of the WikiProjects on the List of WikiProjects listed as green–active, are actually dead, done, only of interest to historians! [1] I propose 30 days of no posts or no response to inbound queries be the new criteria.

Action Plan:

  • More WikiProjects should be shelved. They should go through a three step process:
  1. Be labeled inactive.
  2. After they have been inactive for 60 days, they will be archived as historical in a designated corner of the project. Tough love.
  3. A more informal collaboration page anyone can edit will replace the archived WikiProject's scope, or it will be replaced by the Strategic Plan's "topical groups"
  4. After 8 months, the archived "historical" WikiProjects may be placed in compressed, archive files to reduce the megabytes of space they have taken up on Wikimedia servers. WikiProject cemetery of honor.
  • People defending their project from getting shelved is all part of the plan. The more editors coming out of the woodwork to revive WikiProjects, the better, and if they do so PRIOR TO the 60 days + 8 month period, it would be easy to restore them. After the 60 days and 8 months have elapsed, however, editors will have to stick to the new system of collaboration unless they can muster a real consensus (like with Deletion Review).

Key Questions

  • What's the new criteria for inactivity? I proposed 30 days of no posts or no response to inbound queries.
  • Who executes the shelving of dead WikiProjects? Admins?
  • Can the devs help create the platform for new, informal, "collaboration pages?"
  • What are the "topical groups" outlined in the Wikimedia Strategic Plan? When will they come on-line?

Potential Costs

  • Whatever dev time necessary to create the platform for new, informal, "collaboration pages."
  • Possible negligible cost savings from reduction in server load.

Proposal authored by NickDupree 03:57, 9 July 2011 (UTC)


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Moving beyond moribund WikiProjects to new platforms for collaboration.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. NickDupree 03:57, 9 July 2011 (UTC)