Grants:IEG/The Wikipedia Adventure
An online guided journey, a learning tutorial, and an educational game designed to make an editor's first 100 edits a positive and encouraging experience.
total amount requested:
2013 round 1
Problem: Wikipedia is a very difficult environment for new users. In addition to a new interface, the community has its own policies and customs; and that is on top of the already challenging task of approaching the world of information with critical thinking and neutrality.
Reality: Very few people edit Wikipedia, far fewer than those who read it or who have the capability or interest to edit it. Many struggle for days or weeks to learn the basics. Most find the environment off-putting and intimidating.
Solution: Create an educational, interactive, instructional game using the Wikipedia interface which leads new users through a series of realistic 'missions' to familiarize them with the mechanics, navigation, philosophy, and practices of actual editing.
Goal: Have new users leave the game feeling capable to start editing, knowing what to do if they run into obstacles, and feeling some sense of success, pride, and possibility as new editors.
The game takes the user from the first rudiments of editing—registering an account, creating a userpage, basic markup—all the way through to more intermediate tasks such as adding images and references and asking for help at noticeboards.
There would initially be 6-12 levels to the game, centering around the hypothetical article Earth (actually a modified form of the Simple English Wikipedia's article on Earth). Earth was selected as a focal point, because it has literally universal appeal and avoids the cultural favoritism involved in choosing a representative article that may only appeal to some readers (e.g. The Beatles or Mother Theresa).
The user gets to experience what happens at a real article. It begins with an invitation from another user to work on the Earth article and involves interactive tasks such as typo-fixing, identifying reliable sources, crafting writing from a neutral point of view, understanding core content policies, and even dealing with vandalism and unconstructive edits.
The game focuses on more than just the technical mechanics of editing, infusing the script with mock interactions with simulated 'real' editors. Some of them are friendly, some are less so—and the user has the experience of learning about how to communicate in a productive and effective manner. At the heart of the game is the lesson of cooperation and collaboration, that what makes Wikipedia work is the spirit of the people who write it and that anyone can be a part of it if they learn a few basics.
At the end of each lesson editors would be given the option to complete one or more real tasks on Wikipedia, so that their progress in the game is matched by their progress as real editors. The ambitious goal is that new editors would not feel out of place or ignorant as they confront the actual editing environment of Wikipedia but instead would be prepared and even enthusiastic to get started.
Learning to edit Wikipedia is hard, frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming. The purpose of this game is to remove all of that and create a learning experience that 'curates' a person's first impressions and lessons of Wikipedia. So, rather than walk away from the site feeling like it is incomprehensible or worse—threatening, users will graduate from The Wikipedia Adventure ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the real site and community.
One of the Wikimedia Foundation's core goals has been new editor engagement and active editor retention. The Wikipedia Adventure targets these two goals by reducing the steepness of the learning curve to joining the community. If more new editors have a better first experience with Wikipedia's concepts and mechanics, more will go on to be active editors. If those editors are prepared to deal with some of the common pitfalls of the community, then they will be more likely to remain on as productive contributors to the community.
As a result of this game, Wikipedia will have another tool in its arsenal to educate new users and improve their initial experience as members of the community. In addition to general new editors, the game may have applications in secondary/higher education, recruiting non-technical editors (especially women and other underrepresented demographics), and also older editors.
This game serves the many, but in a personalized way. As an online game, it scales easily and can be delivered to tens, hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people. There is no limit to the game's potential exposure; if effective, it could be a standard element of welcoming new editors across all of our 280+ languages.
- How robust is the Guided Tours functionality to implement this game?
Scope and activities
- Refine the 12 level script (already drafted) into a coherent 6 unit narrative. Update the script to reflect new interface changes.
- Usability test the script on a selection of new editors to gather qualitative feedback.
- Research the capabilities of Mediawiki's guided tour extension
- Spec out the best approach for the game architecture given the technical capabilities of mediawiki and guided tours
- Develop a design scheme with a user interface/graphic designer
- Confer with experts on game design at a relevant workshop (likely GDC or Gsummit in March/April)
- Implement levels 1-6 of the game
- Bug testing: hands-on experimentation to fix code-related problems in the game
- Run a controlled test on editors who are presented with the game upon creating an account
- If successful, promote the game in the community and on relevant media, considering future outreach targets such as the Education Program, Wikipedian-in-Residence organizational training, etc.
Tools, technologies, and techniques
- Meetups at game development workshops
- Usability surveys for game testers
- Database queries for game users, to measure editor activity and retention
- CSS design assistance, images, possibly avatars, buttons, other graphics
Total amount requested
The total grant amount is $10,000.
- Travel to attend GSummit game design conference in April in San Francisco
- -Flight: $500
- -Conference: $900
- Expert consultation with a game design professional $400
- Books and literature $200 (to be returned after the grant as others desire them, will list myself at English Wikipedia Resource Exchange)
- User interaction and graphic design $3000
- Project management, primarily for implementing the levels $5000
This game will be useful to new editors, editors in the Education program, organizations who partner with Wikipedians-in-Residence, and anyone else who wants to learn how to participate in our community through an engaging and enjoyable simulated experience.
Fit with strategy
This game would improve reach, quality, participation, and editor retention. The game would be designed to appeal to a broad audience who may lack the initial technical confidence, willingness to fail in public, and confidence with conflict that our current demographic of editors possesses. That may be useful for bringing in female editors, older editors, less technically savvy editors, and editors from university programs. Although the game would aim for broad appeal, the target design demographic is approximately college-aged men and women, as they have the educational background and digital skills which make them likely successful editors.
By giving new editors a base of skills and policy-awareness, the game should improve the learning curve and result in better contributions out of the gate. By improving editors' first experience with Wikipedia, they should be more likely to remain a part of our community. Last, by showing editors how to navigate the site, deal with disagreements, add and reference content, and understand the social dynamics of our community, they will be more likely to feel confident, capable, and self-sufficient in the course of their editing, and especially if conflicts or obstacles arise.
On a broader level, I would view this project as a learning experience deepening my research into motivation in collaborative environments. Combined with pilot programs on rewards, acknowledgement, identity and game dynamics, The Wikipedia Adventure would be a way to organize and further my exploration of this topic and bring back what I learn to the community to apply to other projects.
If the game design and initial testing is successful, the game could become a regular part of the onboarding of new editors through the account creation process. The game could be advertised as a way to introduce new editors to learn in a non-threatening environment. The game would leverage mediawiki and its established extensions and have the ability to expand lessons through community-contributed modules. The game could change to reflect new interface components such as the Visual Editor, and it could expand to include lessons/modules that appeal to demographics and skills. For example, we could create modules specifically for editors coming from a medical background or editors who want to learn how to upload and format images. The game could continue be 'built-out' by the community, providing an ongoing educational research which editors might 'play' as they continue their progress through Wikipedia. Last, the game's script and code would be released under open source, 'free' licenses that permit use, adaptation, or even commercial applications. That would be essential to allowing others to build on the platform.
Measures of success
- Script usability: qualitative feedback on the accessibility and appeal of the basic narrative and skill presentation
- Game usability feedback: qualitative and quantitative game function, utilization, and satisfaction
- A controlled experiment to compare the game's effect on editor activity and retention (number of edits and duration of time editing)
- Ocassi: I'm an English Wikipedia editor and administrator, involved seriously since about 2008. I have about 25,000 to the projectject. I have a history of article creation and mediation involving current events and medicine, working with new editors, creating help guides, helping out at OTRS, and creating/overseeing partnerships with organizations (like The Wikipedia Library). I'm also involved IRL in outreach to theW:EN:Philadelphia Museum of Art, participation in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia area Wikipedia-related events, a Wikimania 2012 attendee, and a board member of Wiki Project Med Foundation where I focus on outreach to organizations.
Please paste a link to where the relevant communities have been notified of this proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions, here.
- Update at English Wikipedia: W:EN:Wikipedia talk: The_Wikipedia_Adventure#Individual_Engagement_Grant_proposal
- Discussion from the past 2 years here: W:EN:Wikipedia_talk:The_Wikipedia_Adventure
Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.
- note There were 7 community endorsements from the Fellowship proposal in October: Wikimedia_Fellowships/Project_Ideas/The_Wikipedia_Adventure#Endorsements
- Endorse. Per the talk page, I think trying to implement an on-wiki learning game using existing technology (guided tours) makes this a totally feasible project for Ocaasi. And finding new uses for guided tours will hopefully also mean plenty of reusable elements that the community can deploy in other contexts.--Ragesoss (talk) 03:25, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
- Endorse: I think the results of this could be very interesting and get more users into Wikipedia. Bawolff (talk) 03:07, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
- Endorse When Wikipedia began, editors came in droves so they could fill in huge gaps in the encyclopedia. We have fewer gaps now, and we need editors with the capacity to improve what we have. It is much more difficult to recruit editors as a result and we need to think of new methods. This seems like a great one.Ryan Vesey (talk) 17:41, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
- Endorse I think this approach has great potential not only for introducing individual new users to the Wikipedia world, but also for addressing the problems we have experienced with the Wikipedia Education Program. I expect participants in the education program would welcome an introductory pathway that guides students in contributing constructively to the project in a way that protects both the students and the encyclopedia. Including a tool such as the adventure into program curricula promises to greatly improve academic outcomes. Jojalozzo (talk) 16:51, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
- Endorse I have always had a passion for gaining knowledge and enlightenment. I have been to college twice learning what I thought I needed to know to get where I thought I wanted to be; the only result being debt that paid for a major personal growth short-fall of what I'd expected and hoped for. I've always known the potential of using the world wide web to achieve anything one might think to achieve, but in my own searching for resources I've yet come up short still. That is until yesterday, while looking for free open source learning environments and having not much luck, when I came across Wikiversity. I can tell its still new and needs work but it seems to be exactly what I'm looking for; instead of being taught what i'm told is necessary, I can experience the world of knowledge through trial and error, growth by sharing, and contributing to the self along with the world (potentially).
- I am intensely intuitive and just from yesterday (finding Wikiversity) and today (finding The Wikipedia Adventure), I have this overwhelming feeling that I am (and we are) on the right track. I consider myself fortunate to have found these relatively new projects that I can be a part of and grow along side. I'm not familiar with the source or purpose of funding for projects such as these but the proposal itself seems to me a great way to get people involved in the existing Wikipedia project and by extension upcoming and future projects. It has renewed and peaked my interest in learning and sharing knowledge and information in a VLE more than anything else i've come across. Beaedyson (talk) 13:27, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
- Community member: add your name and rationale here.