Research talk:The Rise and Decline
Signpost summary 
I thought I'd take a stab at further condensing this already condensed write-up so it can fit into a one-page Signpost summary. Below is my attempt to sum up the whole thing in a bulleted (highly glib :D) outline. I took some liberties on the recommendations; feel free to edit.
- Rise and Decline explained
- Decline: since 2007, there's been a slow and steady decline in new users entering the project. But why?
- Maybe it's because today's newbies suck. We explored this option through blind handcoding of thousands of newbie contributions from 2002 to the present.
- Result: turns out, not so much. Newbies are pretty much the same quality as they've always been. So why aren't they sticking around?
- Bots and semi-automated editing tools: they're impersonal and make experienced users less likely to stop and talk to or help out the newbie they reverted. The newbie isn't mentored, doesn't learn from his/her mistakes, and either gets blocked or leaves.
- Policy: it's become more calcified and difficult to change, and experienced users control its interpretation and development.
- Recommendations: 1) Make tools that optimize for good-faith newbies, not blatant vandals, and more good-faith newbies will be retained. 2) Make it easier for new users to participate in policy discussions and contribute to the social norms of the community. Restore the spirit of inventiveness, experimentation, and creativity that was present in the early days of Wikipedia, and tone down the bureaucracy.
What do you think? I think it would be good to keep this short, sweet, and to the point, and link to the Meta page and full paper for those who want to read further. Maximizes your chances of getting it to stick in people's eyeballs and brains :) Maryana (WMF) (talk) 20:34, 6 September 2012 (UTC)