Grants talk:IdeaLab/Identify knowledge or skill bottlenecks

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Comments from I JethroBT (WMF)[edit]

Hi Cirdan, and thanks for this idea around assessing the presence of skills in a community as a way to identify gaps in how editors are able to contribute and what bottlenecks may exist. I think this is a sensible approach of looking at community health, because it asks a fundamental question of whether editors are practically able to perform a lot of tasks that are routine or necessary on Wikimedia projects. Knowing what knowledge/skill bottlenecks exist on what Wikimedia projects would useful both to the Wikimedia Foundation, affiliates seeking to do more collaborative work with other affiliates, and for volunteers seeking training on particular projects. I had a few questions about how you wanted to proceed with this idea:

  • I recognize this may not be a project you can lead on your own. It looks like there is a good amount of support and others who are interested in the idea though. Have you considered contacting these volunteers to see how they might be able to support this work?
  • Do you think that any funding might be needed for this project? It's possible that a proposal based on this idea could be funded through our Rapid Grants program, as we do fund research efforts about the needs of Wikimedia projects.

Thanks, I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 27 September 2018 (UTC)

Hi I JethroBT (WMF), thanks for getting back to me about my proposal.
I haven't contacted any of the users who put their signatures in support, as they did not seem to understand that I'm not interested in bottlenecks in expertise regarding the content/topics of a Wikipedia and none of them replied to the comments I left below their declarations of support.
The project certainly requires funding to lead to reliable results, as it will require a lot of effort. I wrote up the proposal rather quickly, and although I've been thinking about this and related topics for quite some time, I don't think that the proposal in its current form conveys the research question clearly (you've summarized it quite well above, but none of the supporters seem to have understood it from my text). Hence, before this idea can move any further, the proposal needs to be improved.
I'm currently quite busy with two other Wikimedia-related projects, which I hope to conclude at the end of the year, and I'm definitely interested in pursuing the bottleneck identification further. However, while I'm happy to take the lead, due to real-life obligations my role in a research project likely cannot be more than that of an external advisor who helps with phrasing research questions and chimes in at an occasional workshop or conference call. I've been toying with the idea of facilitating "practice-oriented" Wikipedia community research for a while now, however, I'm still in the early stages of figuring out a feasible way to get this off the ground. I'm currently working closely with Wikimedia Germany's editor onboarding team on another project, and I will have the chance to speak with them about this proposal and other ideas soon.--Cirdan (talk) 07:52, 28 September 2018 (UTC)
@Cirdan: Thanks for the update and letting me know what your plans are. If it would be helpful, once you've had a chance to talk about this proposal with the editor onboarding team, I'm happy to chat with you over Google Hangouts or Skype to offer any guidance or help you find people who might be interested in this work. Let me know if that's something you'd like to schedule. Thanks, I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 15:42, 28 September 2018 (UTC)
@Cirdan: Hey Cirdan, just checking in to see if you had a chance to check in with WMDE's editor onboarding team about this proposal and assessing feasibility. I know you had said this isn't something you can really take on this calendar year, but wanted to keep in on my radar in case you think it's something that could be worked on next year. Thanks, I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 20:19, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@I JethroBT (WMF): Thanks for the reminder, I have not forgotten about the idea. I have just been elected to WMDE's board this weekend and will, among other things, work on the general topic of community health/editor onboarding over the next 18 months. I still think finding bottlenecks in the way I suggested is vital, and I will keep the idea in mind and develop it further.--Cirdan (talk) 17:58, 2 December 2018 (UTC)