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The Longest Now

[MR 0b] Individual and project roles
Tuesday June 07th 2011, 2:24 am
Filed under: chain-gang,international,metrics,popular demand,wikipedia

The movement roles of individuals, informal groups, and our many wiki projects need to be discussed by a different group of participants, reflecting the diversity of community and editorial efforts that make our projects work.  This discussion will receive more attention from the current MR working group once its recommendations are published this summer, but can be pursued independently from the current formal-entity discussions.

This set of issues is very broad, perhaps the broadest set of issues raised during strategic planning.  Topics on organizational structure, dynamics, and communication all have analogies in more traditional movements and organizations.  However the constellation of independent wikiprojects, ad-hoc groups, and active individuals is closer to the structure of a town than that of a non-profit; and we have had less in the way of concrete advice on how to organize and plan such work.

By the same token, these issues are central to the original success of the Projects, and to pressing questions such as how to increase participation, openness of projects to new types of contribution, and communication across projects. What groups have the role of helping wikiprojects communicate about their work, or organize and maintain their efforts?  Responding to floods of new users?  Responding to spam, vandalism, and abuse of project policies?  Maintaining  accuracy and quality?  Who are responsible for protecting contributors who are harassed or placed at legal or personal risk?  Who manages messaging on the main pages and banners of the projects?  And who prioritizes updates and improvements requested by each project?

Anyone interested in starting this next phase of movement roles analysis is encouraged to do so on Meta – and to join the current working group even if the ‘formal entity’ topics are not of interest.

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Wikipedia loves editors: 2011 campaigns?
Saturday February 05th 2011, 10:16 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,Glory, glory, glory,popular demand,wikipedia

Wikimedia had a terribly successful fundraising campaign ths year, with a team of stats-loving traffic and feedback analysts learning a lot about our reading audience and how to connect with them. There was diverse support for the idea of running some banners to promote donating time and expertise and edits as well as money, and some general-purpose “discover Wikimedia” banners were run the first week of January, but this was soon overtaken by preparations for the (wickedly fun) 10th anniversary celebrations.

We should do more of this. The idea of inviting people more explicitly to edit, and running campaigns dedicated to this, is more fundamental to the nature of Wikipedia than fundraising itself. We should be thinking about all year round, spending as much time and effort campaigning for meaningful content contributions as we have for funds.

What would that look like? Here is one idea: WikiProjects could be encouraged to write copy for their own banners, from a hook to a detailed call for what they need. These would be run for a % of new visitors proportional to the project’s capacity to absorb new contributors. A few generic projects would be geared up for a larger influx of editors, and established editors would be asked to help work with those newbies (and to set up comfort zones where they can find and help one another).

The generic projects would ramp up slowly; with one month’s newbies helping welcome those who came the next month. Some new policies regarding working with newbies would need to be proposed on the major wikis, possibly with a group like the original Fire Brigade dedicated to helping the ambassadors and welcomers with the extra load. And the specific WikiProjects could continue to draw in as many new editors as they want, and could try out different messages to attract just the right sort of reader (including efforts at targetting specific kinds of readers).

What do you think? How would you reach out to readers if you could change the way the site looks? (What ever happened to the idea of highlighting the “edit this page” tab?) Over 1% of people who saw the best fundraising messages clicked through them — imagine what we could do if we showed all of those people that they could really edit.

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