Grants talk:IEG/The Wikipedia Adventure

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Congratulations! Your proposal has been selected for an Individual Engagement Grant.

The committee has recommended this proposal and WMF has approved funding for the full amount of your request, $10,000

Comments regarding this decision:
We're excited to see where this project goes and look forward to learning along with you - wishing you much success over the coming months!

Next steps:

  1. You will be contacted to sign a grant agreement and setup a monthly check-in schedule.
  2. Review the information for grantees.
  3. Use the new buttons on your original proposal to create your project pages.
  4. Start work on your project!

Questions? Contact us.

Aggregated feedback from the committee for The Wikipedia Adventure[edit]

Scoring criteria (see the rubric for background) Score
1=weakest 5=strongest
Potential for impact
(A) The project fits with the Wikimedia movement's strategic priorities 4
(B) The project has the potential to lead to significant online impact. 4
(C) The impact of the project can be sustained after the grant ends. 3
(D) The project has potential to be scaled or adapted for other languages or projects. 4
Ability to execute
(E) The project has demonstrated interest from a community it aims to serve. 3
(F) The project can be completed as scoped within 6 months with the requested funds. 4
(G) The budget is reasonable and an efficient use of funds. 3
(H) The individual(s) proposing the project have the required skills and experience needed to complete it. 4
Fostering innovation and learning
(I) The project has innovative potential to add new strategies and knowledge for solving important issues in the movement. 4
(J) The risk involved in the project's size and approach is appropriately balanced with its potential gain in terms of impact. 4
(K) The proposed measures of success are useful for evaluating whether or not the project was successful. 3
(L) The project supports or grows the diversity of the Wikimedia movement. 3
Comments from the committee:
  • This could be the next big idea. Games can be of great help at improving difficult learning processes.
  • It could be an interesting case study.
  • The concept behind the proposal is quite innovative and could help retain new editors thanks to the proposed non-threatening environment.
  • Proposer seems able to pull it off.
  • Not so sure this could be replicated in other wikis.
  • Measures of success and budget descriptions are vague.
  • Wikipedia (or other Wikimedia projects) should not have a "welcome island" set-aside area which has a series of tasks they have to complete before "graduating" to the real experience.
  • Would like to see the technical knowledge to implement the program from the beginning, and a convincing explanation of how the program can be updated to reflect the implementation of the Visual Editor and Echo.


I like The Wikipedia Adventure concept, but I think the first open question is really key: "Who can code this game?" Do you have any leads? What's the basis for the $8000 figure for hiring programmers?--Ragesoss (talk) 04:25, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

I'm actually currently rethinking the coding piece, Ragesoss. I think a solution might be to shift the focus from coding an entirely separate game which emulated mediawiki and used javascript/php interactive elements, hosted using the already developed guided tours functionality. I've updated numbers to reflect that as it's my best plan at the moment, and it would be considerably less expensive since I could implement the tour myself, with only some help for design and userface interaction. This would also avoid finding a coder who can work on a mediawiki based project for 3-6 months for under $10,000 which was not by any means a given. I really love your MOOC idea btw, and would like to chat with you about it if you have time. We might have some areas of overlap or relative strength that could be borrowed/amplified among the two projects. Cheers, Ocaasi (talk) 03:40, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Good! I'm starting to learn the guided tours system as well, to integrate a bit of interactivity into the education program trainings. When you're ready to get started with guided tours, I encourage you to hang out in #wikimedia-e3connect. The developers working on the guided tours hang out there and are really helpful, and the needs for TWA will no doubt go beyond what guided tours can currently do. So being able to ask them about whether X is possible, and then filing a bug about the requested feature if it's not, is very useful. (They'll move on to other projects at some point, so getting started with tours now would probably be a good idea, if you can.)
I'm happy to chat about the MOOC project. If you ever use IRC, come to #wikimedia-moocconnect, or we could do some other form of chat if you prefer. I can usually make time during the east coast morning and early afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays (which is normally when I'm doing my User:Sage Ross (WMF) work).--Ragesoss (talk) 03:02, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Awesome advice. I'll pop into IRC this week. Ocaasi (talk) 03:43, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

The people stuff[edit]

I like the idea of experimenting with a new way for engaging new editors in learning about community norms, communication styles/forums, etc. Although the mechanics of editing are likely to get easier as software changes are made over time, soft skills seem to also present a learning curve for many new editors - communication styles and dealing with conflict come up as themes in gender-gap related research on Wikipedia. It feels like the teaching tools we've got for communicating community norms so far are many pages of policy, rules, and essays for people to get lost in, or mentorship/help approaches which depend on the availability & skills of other humans being present to teach. If this approach worked well in English, I wonder if/how you think it might be adapted for other languages? It seems that translating policy, essays or even mentorship programs to different scales/cultures doesn't always work as intended, but I'm curious to know how if a game might render or adapt in new ways.

I understand that you're still learning about game-mechanics as part of this project, but I'd also be curious to hear more about what you might have in mind for the game-like elements that distinguish this from just another guided tour. How do you think you might try to reward new editors in this approach to get them excited about continuing when they're just starting out? Siko (WMF) (talk) 05:02, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Two great questions.
1) Language portability: The upside is that Guided Tours is a supported mediawiki extension with WMF developers behind it. There's no technical hurdle to any other community adopting it, and localization efforts are already underway. The basic interface of other wikis is also uniform, so there's no obstacle there, and this will permit the basic site navigation and mechanical skills to be taught across the board. The design elements of the game, from start pages and progress trackers to guides/avatars and other imagery would also port over well, although there might be some cultural concerns about style and characters. Most importantly, I also believe that the essential core policies/pillars--neutrality, verifiability, and civility--are widely adopted by various other Wikipedias.
Ok, so what's different. Well, obviously language itself. The text on the dialogue boxes, interactive elements, questions, badges, and any other text content would have to be translated. We have precedent for this type of localization. On the plus side, it's not high-level language; on the downside, the tone of the script as developed is very intentionally helpful but lighthearted and that may not be easy to capture without care. The narrative of the script focuses around editing a hypothetical article Earth. This is based off of a simple English Wikipedia article and should be able to be translated. The issue of setting up the multiple sub-pages which this guided tour might rely on is more complicated, as that would require manual copying and set-up of pages. Plus, then the tour itself has to be written to update the locations of screen elements. This would be an involved task for sure.
Hopefully, the most portable aspects of the game would be the game dynamics (which I'll address below) and the evidence of effectiveness, which could motivate even a heavy workload to replicate. If a community identifies The Wikipedia Adventure as a significant benefit, they ultimately might just take our best practices, designs, script sketch, and concepts, and go write their own.

2) Game dynamics: Gamification is a controversial buzzword, but all it really means is taking some ideas about motivation from games and applying them to other non-game situations. Various Wikipedia projects employ several game-like features, even though we are often more comfortable thinking of them in other terms. Editors can see their editing statistics like their edit count, % edits reverted, article space edit %, edit summary %, % active days, edit count per active day, and most active day, and account age. One can follow English Wikipedia DYK stats while you earn DYK, GA, and FA credits; you can even see where you rank on lists of the most decorated editors. There are service awards, barnstars, WikiProject awards, personal user awards, and other awards--all which editors can show off on their userpages. We have WikiLove. There are userrights one has to apply for and membership positions such as OTRS, clerks, and committees. We have Bot flags for bot operators, contributor dashboards, trackers of articles created, and RFA scores... We have a Reward Board, an edit count leaderboard, anti-vandal leaderboards, a WikiCup, backlog cleanup drives...
Learning a new and challenging task provides an opportunity to provide editors with a feeling of meaningful growth, meaningful choice, and mutual dependence--all components of successful games. A) Meaningful growth involves paths to mastery with regular achievable goals in a way that doesn't overwhelm new users but provides visible progress and actionable milestones for tasks that matter. B) Meaningful choice means that the decisions of where and how to participate belong to the editor, that they can chart their own pathway towards success, traversing a variety of options and increasing opportunity. C) Mutual dependence is the social component to success, allowing editors to connect with their peers in a supportive way, to get feedback, and to earn recognition from others.
As designed currently, how can TWA provided meaningful choice or mutual dependence? After all, the game has a tracked narrative and it's played alone. On the other hand, editors can take it up at their own pace, they get to answer questions and try hand-on tasks, and the game simulates human interaction. Most importantly, the guided journey is written to be fun and even funny while teaching meaningful and important skills. It would permit editors hands-on editing experience on not-live articles, present them with regular knowledge-checks, welcome them into the role of being a Wikipedian, and do so in a visually appealing style. Completion of individual levels could be paired with 'real life' editing challenges, such as registering an account, fixing a typo, asking a question at a help board, adding a reference, etc. That provides an increasing level of realism and difficulty with increasing stakes. The mutual dependence component would be primarily from rewarding editors with a variety of task, skill, and role badges for their progress through and completion of the course. These badges are outward facing and communicate to other editors that a TWA 'graduate' has accomplished something. It's also fun and encouraging for some to see and earn tokens of their achievement. The real social component of the game is the spirit of invitation which pervades it. Editors are not invited to play a game, but rather to take a journey which leads them to becoming part of an amazing project and very real community. The send-off from the game's conclusion are hard links to places where editors can pick up in real life and apply the skills they learned in the game. So, the game is not so much social in function, but in context it is very much practice and primer on how to be a Wikipedian. Ocaasi (talk) 06:12, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Jane McGonigal[edit]

It might be beneficial to contact Jane McGonigal. The author of reality is broken. I don't know if she'd be willing to do any design help for free (although, if I'm not mistaken, $3000 goes to that?), but I would guess she'd be willing to provide advice. The concept of using games is write up her ally and she specifically mentioned WP:MMORPG in her book.Ryan Vesey (talk) 18:58, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

I'm familiar with Jane's work and indeed it informed my thinking on this project. Contacting her is a neat idea, although I imagine she's pulled in a lot of directions and might not be so easy to get. Still, it's worth a shot! Ocaasi (talk) 18:11, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

This looks awesome! / Wikimania 2014[edit]

  • First of all, this looks amazing! This is a really great initiative, with all sorts of applications to lots of groups! I really hope this is a successful project!!
  • Secondly - I'm running a bid to hold Wikimania in London 2014; it'll be decided whether we win in a few weeks. We're planning a very substantial public PR push and public engagement tracks/workshops, and I'd love for this software to be a significant destination for this attention. Please let's stay in touch over your progress, and to see how we can integrate this into our event. EdSaperia (talk) 10:11, 20 April 2013 (UTC)


Please link instructions on how to export this tool to other wikis. (I don't dare to ask about i18n.) --Nemo 12:11, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Scale in space and time[edit]

I found some code from this project which was useful for my own work. Out of curiousity, has this project scaled to any other projects? And is this project still ongoing? Gryllida 10:36, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

The grant is over but TWA is out in the wild! We are presenting it to new editors on ENWP through bot invites, help page links, and a Teahouse banner. It's being used at editathons and education program onboardings. A few communities have looked into or started trying to adapt and localize it, although it's a very big task. I am focusing my energy now on The Wikipedia Library but am always open to ideas to better use the game and its code. We did rerun metrics last month to evaluate long term trends and I presented about them at a gamification conference called GSummit. In the next 2 months I will write a blog post summarizing all of this :) Cheers, Jake Ocaasi (talk) 14:14, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Ocaasi SboutersePlease do put effort into making this program available for sister projects and languages. I don't know why the grants people didn't take care of this: impact is one of the most important criteria of an IEG project success (next to the feasibility of the resources).
I would like to encourage you to apply for another grant just to achieve the potential multi-language and multi-project impact this project may have. Gryllida 09:12, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Grants people here :) Agree with you, Gryllida that there is room for growth in this project. However, there are also human factors to consider here. Ocaasi only has so many hours he can work on Wikipedia projects each day, and the Wikipedia Library is his main priority right now (precisely because we are impact-focused, and that project demonstrated the most impact in its first 6 months!). As I understand it, the Wikipedia Adventure is very much available to anyone who wants to make a version for their own language/project, it simply takes someone with the necessary time to do so for their local community context (writing and implementing the script for each level, etc). If someone with some extra time on their hands wanted to propose working on multilingual support and community organizing to grow a global effort around this (and could demonstrate through data that this would bring measurable impact in terms of new editors' contributions, which I'm not sure the data from this project yet shows, even though I personally very much enjoy and admire TWA as an onboarding tool), I imagine IEG could still fund such a project (with Ocaasi serving as advisor?). Just a thought! Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 17:01, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Siko (WMF)Thanks! Could you please consider finding another grantee for this project?... I really like seeing things come to many projects. :) Gryllida 00:18, 17 July 2014 (UTC)