Research:Why editors reduce activity

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Contact
Piotr Konieczny
Duration:  2013-05 — 2014-2
GearRotate.svg

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.


Key Personnel[edit]

  • Piotr Konieczny

Project Summary[edit]

Abstract

The following empirical study of English Wikipedia will raise a number of questions relevant to voluntary organizations. With several million contributors, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, is one of the largest voluntary organizations in the world. A number of recent works on online volunteer participation have focused on understanding the motivations of Wikipedia volunteers for contributing, but little has been done to answer why the they burn out and drop out, despite the fact that the growth of Wikipedia volunteer population has mostly stalled in the past few years. The findings of this study should offer insights into volunteer retention and burnout, with a particular focus to the topic of the significance of interpersonal conflict in voluntary organizations. They also provide evidence that the existing literature may be significantly underestimating the impact personal conflict within organization can have on volunteer retention. Finally, the following analysis should have practical implications for the sustainability of the Wikipedia project.

Methods[edit]

Data is collected from a survey, in two versions: for editors who did not reduce their activity, and for those who did.

Editors contacted are the Top 300 most active editors as listed on on w:Wikipedia:Most Active Editors as of summer 2013. Editors were either emailed the survey or, if no email was available, contacted through their talk page.

Sample text for the still active editors:


Hi [NAME]

I am Piotr Konieczny, a fellow Wikipedian (User:Piotrus) and a researcher of Wikipedia (http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=gdV8_AEAAAAJ). I am currently (in collaboration with WMF) embarking on a project trying to understand why the most active Wikipedia contributors (such as yourself) may reduce their activity, or retire. We have a growing understanding of why an average editor may do so (see http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Former_Contributors_Survey_Results), but we have a very limited understanding of why the top editors would limit their contributions. Yet it is the top editors like yourself who contribute most of Wikiepdia's content, thus understanding this is of vital concern to Wikipedia's project future.

Based on my data (up to summer 2013) I believe you have not reduced your contributions. I would like to ask you four short questions 1-4 (if you disagree with my assessment that you have not reduced your activity please answer questions 5-8 instead). I would very much appreciate if you would take a minute and answer them. Please note this is not a mass email; I am contacting only few dozen of editors like yourself, and each response is extremely valuable. Your response will not be made public, and your privacy will be fully respected. You can respond simply by replying to this email.

Question 1. On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to reduce your activity in the future? (1=Never, 5=Definitely, it's just a matter of time)

Question 2. Why may you reduce your activity? Chose one answer which BEST describes that reason. a) because of new commitments (job, family, another hobby) or health reasons b) because of unpleasant atmosphere, conflict with other editors, or lack of respect (feeling undervalued) c) because of being overworked with Wikipedia needs d) feeling undervalued e) other (please elaborate):

Question 3. Do you agree with the following statement (YES or NO): a) some of the most stressful moments in my life were related to my involvement with Wikipedia

Question 4. Out of the Top 300 of most active Wikipedia editors (as of summer 2013), over a third have reduced their activity, with several dozens leaving this project completely. What do you think might be their reason?

Thank you, that's it! (The following Q 5-8 are only for editors who think they have significantly reduced their contributions). --

Question 5. Chose one answer which BEST describes the reason you have reduced your contributions: a) because of new commitments (job, family, another hobby) or health reasons b) because of unpleasant atmosphere, conflict with other editors, or lack of respect c) because of being overworked with Wikipedia needs d) feeling undervalued e) other (please elaborate):

Question 6. Do you agree with the following statement (YES or NO): a) some of the most stressful moments in my life were related to my involvement with Wikipedia

Question 7. On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to start contributing again (or return to your peak activity levels)? (1=Never, 5=Definitely, it's just a matter of time)

Question 8. If you would like to elaborate on the reasons you reduced your contributions, dispute that claim, suggest reforms to Wikipedia that would make it a better place for you to edit, or provide any other comments (including links to Wikipedia pages), please include them below:

If you have any questions or concerns about this research project, I would be happy to answer them.

-- Piotr Konieczny, PhD http://hanyang.academia.edu/PiotrKonieczny http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=gdV8_AEAAAAJ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Piotrus

and for the editors with reduced activity

Hi [NAME],

I am Piotr Konieczny, a fellow Wikipedian (User:Piotrus) and a researcher of Wikipedia (http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=gdV8_AEAAAAJ). I am currently (in collaboration with WMF) embarking on a project trying to understand why the most active Wikipedia contributors (such as yourself) may reduce their activity, or retire. We have a growing understanding of why an average editor may do so (see http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Former_Contributors_Survey_Results), but we have a very limited understanding of why the top editors would limit their contributions. Yet it is the top editors like yourself who contribute most of Wikiepdia's content, thus understanding this is of vital concern to Wikipedia's project future.

I am contacting you because you are among the top Wikipediana by number of edits, yet your editing activity shows a decline. I would very much appreciate if you would take a minute and answer the following four short questions. Please note this is not a mass email; I am contacting only few dozen of editors like yourself, and each response is extremely valuable. Your response will not be made public, and your privacy will be fully respected. You can respond simply by replying to this email.

Question 1. Chose one answer which BEST describes the reason you have reduced your contributions: a) because of new commitments (job, family, another hobby) or health reasons b) because of unpleasant atmosphere, conflict with other editors, or lack of respect c) because of being overworked with Wikipedia needs d) feeling undervalued e) other (please elaborate):

Question 2. Do you agree with the following statement (YES or NO): a) some of the most stressful moments in my life were related to my involvement with Wikipedia

Question 3. On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to start contributing again (or return to your peak activity levels)? (1=Never, 5=Definitely, it's just a matter of time)

Question 4. If you would like to elaborate on the reasons you reduced your contributions, dispute that claim, suggest reforms to Wikipedia that would make it a better place for you to edit, or provide any other comments (including links to Wikipedia pages), please include them below:

If you have any questions or concerns about this research project, I would be happy to answer them.

-- Piotr Konieczny, PhD http://hanyang.academia.edu/PiotrKonieczny http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=gdV8_AEAAAAJ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Piotrus


Resulting data will be subject to quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Dissemination[edit]

Results will be presented in an academic conference and journals. I will also try to make them available to interested community members, including by presenting the results here if the paper has been accepted for publication in a non-open access venue.

A working draft is available as of January 2014. Interested readers should contact the author by email.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection[edit]

Participation in this study is entirely at will.

As noted, anonymity, privacy and confidentiality of respondents will be respected. No identifiable details, user IDs, or such will be published or otherwise made public.

My research adheres to American Sociological Association Code of Ethics and w:Wikipedia:Ethically researching Wikipedia guidelines.

Benefits for the Wikimedia community[edit]

Understanding the reasons editors leave is essential for long term health of the community.

Timeline[edit]

Data collection: mid-2013 - early-2014. Data analysis: finished. Paper available as draft for interested parties (email Piotrus), now in peer review.

Funding[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Contacts[edit]