Not my wiki

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Crystal wordprocessing.png This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some wikimedians or Meta-Wiki users, but may not have wide support. This is not policy on the Meta-Wiki, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.
See also: Why creating new wikis is a bad idea
In a nutshell: People prefer to work on their home wiki. Other wikis seem much further than just a single click away.

Wikimedia is a diverse collection of projects in many languages. That's great, because it gives many people a chance to find their own niche within the Wikimedia ecosystem. But—for reasons technical, psychological, and sociological—it makes it hard to coordinate activity across wikis. Contributors tend to stick to their home wiki, and rarely visit other wikis unless they have a specific purpose in mind. Other wikis seem much further than just a single click away.

The technical[edit]

The main technical gap between wikis is the watchlist, which is separate for each wiki (bug 3525). A watchlist on someone's home wiki can be a one-stop-shop for whatever activity might be of interest; it just takes a glance. Participating regularly on another wiki means doubling the work it takes to casually check in and see what's going on. Every new wiki means a new watchlist and a new page to scan when checking in. Even serious Wikimedians who try to keep track of what's going on across the Wikimedia ecosystem often go days or weeks between checking in on peripheral wikis.

The psychological and sociological[edit]

Editors are dedicated to their home wiki. Only a small portion of dedicated contributors identify as "Wikimedians"; many more are "Wikipedians", "Wiktionarians", "Wikinewsies", and so on. Parochialism is part of human nature. Active wikis are imagined communities; this gives them strength but also isolates them. One's home wiki and its accomplishments are a source of pride; contributors imagine themselves to be integral parts of the collaborative successes of the project. They therefore feel connected to home wiki accomplishments even when they haven't contributed directly to a particular accomplishment.

What happens on another wiki feels foreign. Things don't work the same way as on the home wiki. The density of editors is different. The look and feel of the wiki is different. The rules are different. Discussions that feel vital and important on the home wiki and attract a steady stream of attention may stagnate on another wiki.

Upshot[edit]

Don't organize important activities on other wikis when you don't need to. For collaboration and planning that is specific to one project, use that wiki. For activities that are broader than one project, use Meta if you can (especially if there are no specific technical needs that can't be easily met on Meta). Consider carefully the costs of using a more peripheral wiki. Barnraising is hard work, and in some cases can be counterproductive even if it succeeds—especially if the end result is merely to reproduce a subset of another more active community. Use the places where people already gather, rather than trying to draw them to somewhere new.

See also[edit]