Research:Wikimedia Summer of Research 2011/Questions

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These are the research questions about participation in Wikipedia, to be addressed in the 2011 Summer of Research in the Community Department.

Questions[edit]

Though we began with a very large set of specific questions about participation in Wikipedia and editor retention, we've tried to simplify the structure by creating this set of overarching questions, each of which may contain more detailed lines of inquiry. Please feel free to explore the pages and let us know if anything is confusing or missing from your perspective.

We'll also likely be tackling measurements of key activities listed in the contribution taxonomy project. Unless otherwise specified, research will focus on the English language version of Wikipedia. Also key to remember is that just to get the big picture, we're including questions that researchers inside or outside the movement may have answered partially before.

RQ1. How does the community's reaction to newcomer work affect retention?[edit]

The way in which the community reacts to newcomers' work shapes their perception of Wikipedia is likely to affect their motivation strongly. This question explores the effect of negative reactions like reverts and page deletions as well as positive reactions and no reaction.

RQ2. How does communication/socialization affect newcomer retention?[edit]

Newcomers to organizations like Wikipedia must adopt a set of norms in order to contribute successfully. This question explores how socialization tactics like personal communication (eg. welcome templates, warnings) and mentoring (eg. Adopt-a-user) have been adopted by the community and the effectiveness of these tactics on the retention of newcomers.

RQ3. How does the type of work that newcomers do affect their retention?[edit]

Editors' initial contributions and the success or failure they experience have could strongly shape both their perception of the quality of the community and their perceived likelihood of becoming successful contributors. This question examines the type of work that newcomers do in Wikipedia and how the type of work affects their retention.

RQ4. How do culture and geography affect newbie retention?[edit]

The degree to which demographic differences change the ability of editors to successfully engage with Wikipedia.

RQ5. How do editors work anonymously?[edit]

A substantial proportion of the edits to Wikipedia are from editors who choose not to create an account and instead have their edits logged to their current IP address. What do we know about this part of the community, are they changing? Are they experiencing a decline that is similar to the tail off of new editors with registered accounts?

RQ6. How does the user interface affect editor work?[edit]

Over the years we've made many changes to the way we edit articles, has this made things more difficult for newbies?

RQ7. How does endogenous policy affect editor work?[edit]

Much has changed in Wikipedia over the years. Are there changes in Wikipedia policies that intentionally or not have deterred editors?

RQ8. How does exogenous policy affect editor work?[edit]

As Wikipedia has grown the world has changed and some of those changes are a reaction to Wikipedia. Have changes in other organisations policies impacted us?

RQ9. How are editing patterns changing?[edit]

Developing an understanding how patterns of participation change over time and by cohort.

RQ10. What is the minimal healthy community size?[edit]

Develop an understanding between the total workload that is required to maintain the quality of Wikipedia and the minimum numbers of volunteers to do this work.