Research:User reporting systems

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Duration:  2018-November — ongoing-
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This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.
Please contact the project lead before formally citing or reusing results from this page.


As part of the Community Health Initiative, we will be conducting ongoing research projects on user reporting systems. The findings generated from this research will guide ongoing community consultations, inform product decisions, as well as provide a more thorough understanding in how reporting systems operate, for both Wikimedia projects as well as peer platforms.

Projects[edit]

Enwiki Reporting system summary[edit]

Enwiki Reporting system summary

This project provides a summary of existing reporting systems, both formal and informal, that exist on English Wikipedia. It also defines some key terms for future conversations in this topic, such as involved users, the difference between formal and informal systems, and language for discussing broader concerns of community values and issues of labour. We find that some key issues with the current reporting system include its difficulty of access, eroded trust in current systems, the unstructured nature of noticeboards, and the clash between a desire for transparency and concerns over safety and privacy. We also find that informal systems, relying on existing relationships between editors, serve as an ad hoc private reporting system, as well as a complimentary structure to formal systems that can guide reporters through the often-tricky process of going through the official reporting procedures.

It is available as a summary report, with an accompanying diagram of formal reporting spaces on English Wikipedia.

User-to-volunteer reporting system rubric[edit]

Reporting System Rubric, Detailed Report

On Wikipedia, most content and conduct disputes are handled by groups of volunteers. Accordingly, reports of such disputes are first routed to them, and only in cases of immediate danger or outsized harm do reports bypass this volunteer system and go directly to the Foundation’s Trust & Safety team. At this stage in our ongoing project on creating private reporting systems for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, we could learn from investigating peer platforms’ implementation of private reporting systems.

Though many platforms online incorporate some form of reporting system, these typically channel user reports directly to an in-house or contracted team of employees. This makes them most analogous to the use of the emergency@wikimedia.org reporting channel. However, this makes them different to the types of reporting systems to which our community is accustomed, and thus the types of reporting systems we will be expected to use as a basis for design.

By conducting a review of existing best practices documents and research on this subject, we can create an assessment rubric to evaluate private peer-to-volunteer reporting systems. Some of the most prominent platforms using such a system include Reddit and Facebook Groups. We can run these platforms through this rubric, and additionally compare the current state of Wikipedia’s reporting systems, for a comparative understanding of these mechanisms. This project took place over February 2019.

It is now available as a summary report, with an accompanying detailed report. It is recommended to start with the summary document.

Edit-a-thon New Users Study[edit]

This is an ongoing project.

One of the key voices we want to include as part of the user reporting system project is that of new users, particularly new users who might be ill-served by the current system of noticeboards and talk pages. However, they may be difficult to contact, since they are unlikely to participate in community consultations, and do not respond as readily to research requests.

Therefore, we will be using edit-a-thons as a venue to meet new users, since these events attract many first-time editors. We will observe during a selected edit-a-thon, with the permission of the event organizers, and interview both participants and organizers. We aim to find out:

  1. What are new users' expectations with regards to reporting processes and outcomes?
  2. What are the strategies employed by new users to handle negative interactions on-wiki?
  3. What are some of the methods used by event organizers to handle negative interactions, both in-person and on-wiki?

See also[edit]