Task force/Wikipedia Quality/Barriers to quality


  1. Narrow demographics of communities probably leads to an imbalance in project coverage (with respect to the information demand as well as overall quality content) ([1]; [2])
  2. Quality users become disappointed and leave the projects.
    1. Rude behaviour leads to quality users leaving the project ([3], # 1.1, 1.2, 1.7 & 1.10)
    2. Technical, "political" and informational elitism may have a discouraging effect on less active or technically adept users ([4], # 1.3). Part of this barrier are the models of policy-driven policy and content (see here) and maintenance-driven policy and content (see here).
    3. Status of the user is defined by quantity, not quality of contributions ([5], # 1.4, 1.5 & 1.6).
    4. Quantity and speed of talk contributions rule discussions, at the cost of the quality of arguments made. ([6], 1.8)
  3. Tool set of WikiMedia software is limited and user-unfriendly, it discourages new users ([7]).
  4. Problem of "wiki-erosion": quality of content will erode to a level related to community size ([8]).

Narrow Population/Demographics

  1. Mostly male
    1. Men have a different working style in general
      1. Men frequently work non collaboratively or in parallel
      2. Men tend to be less community based than women
    2. Men’s goals are frequently different
  2. Mostly 20-35
    1. How do they identify themselves?
      1. Technically astute?
      2. Not knowledgeable to contribute in a meaningful way?
    2. Where are they in their lives?
      1. Job hunting?
      2. In their first or second position?
      3. Single/married/children?
    3. Their personal goals are not necessarily community oriented
    4. They do not necessarily have the maturity necessarily to successfully collaborate
  3. Mostly tech-heads
    1. Profile includes individualistic behavior not conducive to collaboration
    2. Profile includes a certain amount of possessiveness over knowledge
    3. Profile includes picking contributions apart rather than external vetting of proffered information leading to attrition of contributors who have different working styles
  4. Very few women
    1. Mature female users have more barriers to contribution
      1. Will tend to have a job and a family, as well as other responsibilities including extended family and community
      2. Will tend to have a higher stress load than men, even when given the same workloads, i.e. job and family
      3. Will tend to be the caregivers for extended family, i.e. older parents, aunts/uncles vs. male involvement in caretaking, even when male caretakers are available
      4. May have less tolerance for a process in which their work is gutted, because of time constraints and other pressing responsibilities perceived as more important that a contribution that may not exist soon after it is created
    2. Younger female users may also have barriers to contribution
      1. How do younger female users “see” Wikipedia
      2. What are the demographics of young female users/potential users and what is the likelihood they are using Wikipedia based on education, marriage at a young age, children at a young age
      3. How do younger female users identify themselves
        1. What is their focus in life
          1. i.e. contributing to a greater good
          2. getting on with getting their degree
        2. In the case of younger users who are not academic track, what are their responsibilities in life that may keep them from using/contributing to Wikipedia?
          1. Is Wikipedia likely to attract young female users who have already married/started a family?
          2. What sort of time constraints are younger females under that would restrict their participation in Wikipedia?
    3. Older females
      1. May have more time to contribute because children are grown and most have lost their parents or other relatives that they may have taken care of
      2. Immense knowledge base to draw from
        1. Academic subject matter experts
        2. Professional subject matter experts
        3. Personal subject matter experts, i.e. cooking, recipes, teaching younger people how to budget or manage finances
      3. Technology barriers likely more pervasive in this group
    4. Because of women’s collaborative skills and community/caring/nurturing orientation, it is likely that Wikipedia would not only benefit from their contribution, but should actively pursue involving more women
      1. Women tend to be community based
      2. Women tend to more easily work collaboratively
      3. Women tend to be less worried about “ownership”
  5. Young people
    1. How many under 18’s are involved?
    2. What is their barrier to contribution?
    3. What is Wikipedia actively doing to bring them in and get them to participate?
  6. Disabled population
    1. What barriers do they encounter?
      1. Mental illness/Brain chemistry disorder
        1. Processing
        2. Linear
        3. Argumentative tone may limit participation
        4. Contribution task a long process, i.e. someone with depression may have difficulty sustained a prolonged task, what can we do to engage them anyway and get them to contribute?
      2. Mobility
        1. Typing ability
        2. Ability to spend a lot of hours in front of a computer
      3. Sight
        1. What will a reader such as JAWS do with pages as currently set up on Wikipedia?
        2. How can we improve layouts or host alternative pages and keep them updated so sight impaired users/contributors have minimal barriers?
        3. Are we doing this work already?
      4. Hearing
        1. If there is an audio clip on any of the Wiki’s are we providing a transcript for hearing impaired users?
    2. What are we currently doing to engage this population?
    3. What can we do to remove existing barriers and encourage their participation?
    4. As a good community citizen, what responsibility does Wikipedia have to reach out to this community?

Wikipedia Culture

  1. Positive Observations
    1. Everyone is welcome
    2. Anyone can start anywhere to use or contribute to Wikipedia
    3. You don't have to be an expert to contribute, you can, and are encouraged to, gather work to illustrate your points
    4. Wikipedia can become a way to learn how to properly do research because it's demands for citations reminds contributors that information must have a solid basis
    5. Personal opinion discouraged/banned -- as a substitution for fact
    6. Hard work encouraged
    7. Ability to only minimally participate welcomed
    8. No entry is sacred or fixed
    9. Everyone with online access can benefit from Wikipedia
    10. Wikipedia seeks to “do good”
  1. Negative Observations
    1. Everyone is welcome, no matter how they behave
      1. Blocked users can return if they apologize
      2. Some blocked users learn to be good, but others just get better at gaming the system and wikilawyering
    2. Entire entries can get wiped out – it is as if someone’s work does not matter/never existed
      1. When entries inappropriately wiped out, time consuming for contributor/editor to restore the information
    3. Technical and informational elitism
      1. Interface and tool set allow/can encourage people who are more technically astute to control Wikipedia
      2. Being technical and logical trumps anything else
      3. The more you can pick apart an argument/knowledge, the smarter you must be
    4. Focus on value of contribution vs. just being a part of the community by using Wikipedia
    5. If you do not contribute you are somehow not part of the community
    6. Award system
      1. You have to have stars/awards/recommendations to “move up” in the chain of responsibility
      2. Much recognition is awarded without consensus or objectivity, making it hard to judge merit
    7. Some Disruptive Behaviors Are Allowed or Difficult to Eradicate
      1. Infighting
      2. Flaming (not allowed but still happens and is not necessarily cause for ban)
      3. Vandalism
      4. Reactionary responses sometimes based on incomplete reading of a post or incomplete knowledge of a subject.
      5. Even if the disruptive editor is sanctioned, the damage that they have done is not repaired
      6. Civility becomes a defense against all kinds of disruptive behavior
        1. Civil, but stubborn and uncooperative in discussions
        2. Civil, but pushes a point of view long after it has been discredited
        3. Civil, but frequently makes untruthful statements, intentionally or recklessly
        4. Civil, but constantly pushes Wikipedia to become something that it is not
        5. Civil, but tries to control an article or discussion by exhausting other editors
        6. Civil, but travels with a pack of likeminded editors who can overpower an article or discussion
    8. Picking apart knowledge without going outside the current discussion to independently vet
    9. Forcing contributors to defend knowledge, similar to academic defense of a thesis
    10. Current mindset may not be conducive to what Wikipedia portrays as its brand

Limited tool set

  1. Tool set inadequate for the job
    1. Clunky
    2. Linear
    3. Must understand coding to use it
    4. Not user friendly
    5. Newbies have difficulty with it
    6. Tool set gets in the way of contribution
  2. Tool set limited
    1. Media linked across projects
    2. Abnormal constraints for a web based encyclopedia
    3. Cannot replicate other websites due to limited tool set
  3. All Communication must be in writing
    1. Written communication is slow and cumbersome
    2. Written communication does not allow for facial expression and gestures
    3. Written communication does not allow for vocal and tonal variation
    4. Written communication does at least force it to be documented

Information base

  1. Not well rounded overall
  2. More even coverage in some languages than others
    1. What languages have the biggest deficits?
    2. Should all languages have the same kind of coverage?
    3. Should coverage be skewed to the amount of the world population speaking/using that language?
    4. How to determine what needs to be focused on for coverage?
  3. Big gaps in coverage
    1. What are these gaps?
    2. What subjects need to be covered?
  4. How does Wikipedia ask its users what else it needs to see on Wikipedia?
    1. People have ideas that they will not create pages for, that someone else may have expertise to provide content
    2. How to reach a younger audience and get them to participate in creation/ideas?

Recommendations (with critiques in italics)

  1. Wikipedia is at a cross roads
    That is not a recommendation, and "Wikipedia's Brand" has no relation to quality.
    Likely it would if only such a Brand existed.
    1. Wikipedia needs to decide what its brand is, so the brand can drive behavior
    2. It needs to decide exactly what it is doing and how it is going to do it
    3. It needs to take a hard look at how it has been operating and what is not working, consistent with its brand, values, mission and goals
    4. All policies, rules and procedures need to be consistent with the brand, not as lip service but as something that is lived
    5. Wikipedia needs to lead by example
  2. if Wikipedia wants to truly be a world encyclopedia it has to start reaching people who are offline
    That recommendation has no relation to content quality.
    Nor does it relate particularly to Wikipedia; its online character dominates its nature.
  3. perhaps Wikipedia needs to work at furnishing computers to areas of the world that do not have many, and to poor kids who need access, whatever area of the world they are in
    That recommendation has no relation to content quality.
  4. Wikipedia needs a more diverse contributor base
    That is not a recommendation and there is very limited data supporting the idea that diversity has any relation to content quality beyond content coverage
    It is a recommendation, and depending on the direction of expansion of the contributor base it could contribute hugely to quality.
    I agree, and stand corrected. I am copying the recommendation below.
  5. Wikipedia needs to be more even handed in the information that is covered
    That recommendation is so unclear (what does "even handed" mean?) that it's impossible to say whether it relates to content quality.
  6. Wikipedia needs to start cultivating a kid audience for contribution
    I agree with this recommendation: I believe we should support beginning editors of all ages
    In many ways, Wikipedia already is an educational project rather than an encyclopedia (and losing the struggle to educate). I do not see any benefit in bringing kids into an environment where they will be shot at, or where they will form child packs doing the shooting.
    1. This brings them in earlier
    2. It teaches them how to use and contribute
    3. They have an immense ability to learn the curve of participation, help contribute for households and bring in an older audience by showing them how to participate or helping them participate
    4. Kids need knowledge, it’s the only thing that elevates their life and their purpose in life
    5. By collaborating early in a safe environment with the right rules and policies, Wikipedia is in a position to teach kids skills they need in their entire life, not just online at Wikipedia
  7. Wikipedia needs to show by example
    I agree with this recommendation, but it is too vague for me to be able to endorse it. We need specific Foundation and project policy changes to support continued increases in quality.
    1. It needs to be the gold standard of collaboration
    2. Rules and policies need to be forged that make it not only a safe place to collaborate but also teaches people how to collaborate, and improves overall culture not only with knowledge but with skills

Another attempt at breaching barriers to quality

  1. Wikimedia projects need to support beginning editors of all ages;
    Perhaps, but what does it have to with quality and especially barriers to quality?
    That proposal is carried forward from the ideas above. This will cover inclusion of new users, our only renewable source of editorial talent, inclusion of beginning English language users, and the developmentally disabled. These proposals are intended to breach the barriers to quality.
  2. Wikimedia projects need to treat their top-line volunteers at least as well as established educational, communications, and other respected nonprofit organizations treat their most important volunteers;
    This is hopelessly vague. What "established educational, communications, and other respected nonprofit organizations": there are myriads of them. And in what respect?
    That is currently under Quality Task Force discussion. Cash may have advantages over community recognition, especially for volunteers who want to stay anonymous, perhaps because they were threatened or do not want their employer to know that they edit
  3. Wikimedia projects need to take concrete steps to ensure that they do not contradict established policies; for example:
    Very vague: what established policies?
    As below, avoiding these barriers to quality:
    1. Implying that the elimination of anonymity could improve content quality; or
      Nobody real is implying that? Looks like a side issue.
      It has been implied, repeatedly. It is one of the issues recognized as "Foundation" and "perennial."
    2. Allowing obvious exceptions to established policies to stand.
      Vague. (BTW: I do not expect to live to see the day when the English Wikipedia will start to enforce NOR, NPoV and V)
      We've already seen the start; I'm sure we'll not see the finish.
  4. Wikimedia projects should use flagged revisions for biographies of living people
    That would be Wikipedia projects?
    On the contrary, I believe the encyclopedia would be best served if all Wikimedia projects adopted that policy.
  5. Wikipedia needs a more diverse contributor base, and can achieve that by implementing outreach proposals, e.g.:
    1. Proposal:Publicize reference desk services and article readership statistics
    2. Proposal:Tutorials for finding peer-reviewed secondary literature
    3. Proposal:Volunteer Toolkit