Community Insights/Community Insights 2021 Report/Platform Evolution
Improving and modernizing Wikimedia’s technical ecosystem to respond to a landscape where artificial intelligence is creating content, rich media dominates learning, and the tools people use to collaborate work easily across a multitude of devices and require minimal technical capabilities.
As the Foundation works to improve the performance and accessibility of Wikimedia’s technical ecosystem, the Community Insights survey tracks changes in developer and contributor satisfaction with that ecosystem.
As we found last year, developers were moderately satisfied with the health of the MediaWiki codebase. A small majority indicated that they find the codebase safe, healthy, and sustainable (62%). More felt confident in the code’s applicability (80%) and appropriateness (72%) to Wikimedia projects, and agreed that MediaWiki deployment tooling was effective (63%). However, only half found that code development processes (50%) and MediaWiki deployment tooling (51%) enabled their contribution of high-quality code. Developers living in Asia were much more likely to indicate comfort with deployment tooling (62%), as were those living in emerging geographies (53%). Those living in emerging geographies were also more likely to find the codebase safe, healthy, and sustainable (72%) than others. We found no change in developers' satisfaction since 2019.1
When asked about the barriers to contributing code, volunteer developers indicated that they most often face a slow code review process (49% experiencing this most or all of the time). Another common barrier, unclear or missing documentation about how to contribute, was cited less often (35%). The least frequently cited barrier was an unhelpful or unfriendly technical community (5.3%). These barriers were also similar to those reported in 2019.2
Contributors’ Technical Satisfaction
As was observed last year, contributors were moderately satisfied with the Wikimedia platforms' ease of use (See Figure 3). While they were still least likely to know how or where to report technical problems that affect their editing, they were slightly more likely to indicate comfort doing so in 2020 (45%) than in 2019 (41%). The majority continue to report that they have the buttons or tools they need (73%), that the software works as they expect (72%), and that the software is easy to use (67%).
The improvement since 2019 in contributors' knowledge of how to report technical problems was seen particularly among editors of the Russian language Wikipedia with a 19 percentage point increase (to 63%) and Central and Eastern European language projects with a 12 point increase (57%), as well as among contributors to the Japanese language Wikipedia (a 12 point increase to 25%). Japanese Wikipedia contributors remained far less likely to agree that they know how to report a bug than others, as were editors of the French (35%), Dutch (35%), and English (36%) language Wikipedias.4
Contributors living in East Asia continue to show less satisfaction with the technical environment: they are less likely to say the software is easy to use (54%), that it works as expected (63%), or that they have the right buttons or tools to do what they need to do (63%) than contributors elsewhere. In contrast, youth under 25 and contributors living in Latin America or the Caribbean are more satisfied with the platform compared to others, with 74% of youth and 80% of those in Latin America agreeing that the software is easy to use.5
Contributors' satisfaction with the Foundation's contributions to the technical ecosystem were largely unchanged-- they were less satisfied with the process, and moderately satisfied with the product. As in 2019, respondents were particularly less satisfied with WMF’s collaboration with communities in the creation of software (see Figure 4). Contributors were most satisfied with the quality of Foundation-produced software (65%), with higher satisfaction among those living in Latin America or the Caribbean (77%) and lower among those in Eastern Europe (50%). Satisfaction regarding software prioritization (57% overall) was highest among those living in South Asia (84%) and lower for women (50%) and contributors to the English Wikipedia (47%). Satisfaction with the Foundation's collaboration when creating software was lowest among those in Western (42%), Eastern (33%) and Northern (33%) Europe, while much higher among those in South Asia (81%) and Latin America (63%).6 On-wiki administrators, who were less satisfied with the Foundation's software production across the board, were also less likely to agree with each item in 2020 than in 2019.7