Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Follow-up events/Cluster B
This page contains raw minutes from the discussion of the initiative cluster B: Improve User Experience, which took place on 22 January 2021. The minutes were cleaned up and merged from across different documents by the Strategy Support Team, and a summary of them can be found in the follow-up events report. The discussion followed a structured template (as shown below), which was also created by the Support Team.
Key indicator and objectives (WHAT)
What are the objectives of this initiative for the next 18 months?
Methodology for user experience:
- Better awareness and decision-making for user experience.
- Addressing barriers that prevent inclusive growth, diversification, and participation.
- Involve readers in the user experience research.
- If your preference is to listen rather than read, then you can consume an article without the need for additional local software and independent of what sort of device you use (Wikispeech).
- UX material and methods are shared prominently and the decision making path is defined
- Research is done and outlines barriers that prevent inclusive growth, diversification, and participation (includes a summary and communication of existing research)
- More community members are involved in UX activities
Resources for newcomers:
- Helping newcomers to independently learn and navigate.
- Starting to edit is difficult, so it is useful to create an easy start, make it easy to get started with small edits.
- Discoverability and understandability issue: onboarding materials (and documentation in general) are created with good intentions, but not with UX knowledge and experience
- Skepticism for newbies due to vandalism, data quality concerns. So there is a tension. We need to get that knowledge from the experienced editiors but also help them to be more welcoming to newbies
- Building Easy-to-find and easy-to-understand global repository of resources for newcomers, including onboarding media and guiding interfaces.
- Making the case to existing editors regarding the importance of supporting newcomers.
- An improvement in user retention
- Positive feedback on resources from newcomers
- Users are able to translate articles between any two given languages without having to deal with any complex wikitext and templates, and they can write new articles from scratch in their language (and use all the features that the English Wikipedia( has without having to manually import templates or gadgets.
- People can write wiki pages without having to deal manually with advanced wiki syntax features (especially templates, even in Visual Editor).
- There is a shared repository for templates and modules exists, and templates from wikis can be copied to it and become available to all wikis.
- Make translate wiki more user-friendly for newcomers.
- Creating a guide for translating materials (specifically for writing standards for gender neutrality)
- Creating a framework for translation tools across projects with better usability
- There is more participation from groups that are non traditional (e.g. groups in Asia using non-Latin script), indicating better support for these languages with tools, templates and the incubator.
- Material form the shared repository is used by x wikis
What are some anticipated obstacles or barriers to a successful implementation?
- Primary difficulties for retention:
1) Steep learning curve (cultural issue)
2) Behavioral patterns that affect mostly new users and conflict with the declared values of the community, such as:
- blameful/punishing response to mistakes and disagreements (cultural)
- Lack of motivation for seniors to accept newcomers.
3) No protections for newcomers from seniors and policy misapplications (governmental issue)
4) UX: dated technology, lacking the advancements of the last decade (IT issue)
- Safety issues are also important when it comes to onboarding new users. i now give a precautionary spiel to new users about safety issues to consider when choosing a username. This not only adds EVEN MORE information to learn before starting, but definitely dampens the mood and it breaks my heart a bit.
- There are different factors that influence the user experience that could be more challenging to tackle (e.g. administrators communication).
Implementation steps (HOW)
- (1) Communicating what is already happening
- This is what we are doing? Are you interested in participating? Are there others in the community that could be helping?
- Lack of awareness in the community about the importance of UX and what it is
- Lack of awareness how to improve this
- Connecting interested people with the work already happening is a low hanging fruit
- E.g. Growth team with newcomers
- As long as this network and consciousness is missing, it’s going to be difficult to regularly and consistently connect
- It’s necessary for communities to realize how it’s possible to collaborate
- CREATE THE SUPPORT STRUCTURE FOR THIS COLLABORATION
- To build the communication channel
- User-centred design (UCD) is missing in the m ovement
- Best practices between organizations, best practices for policies, best practices for help pages
- The pool of aware participants is needed
- Public discourse on improving UX as a community matter is needed
- Simply communicating what’s happening won’t be long-lasting
- Communities of practice
- EL: These are challenging to grow and nurture. Specialists tried that back in the days with tech ambassadors and tech translators - it's a job in itself to support a group while it's looking for its identity and it's trying to establish itself. Ben V. has more to share on this larger subject though.
- EL: My recommendation: let's try and start simple. Let's start with the people we have - those who have already provided their availability and flagged their interest in the subject. Let's show them what WMF has done so far and ask how they'd like to contribute moving forward.
- Design and research need collaboration/distributed across the movement
- How to empower contributors to improve UX in both design and research?
- Even if the Foundation is doing this work, it’s missing the shared responsibility and collaboration - what are the paths for contributors to get involved? UI might be too difficult
- EL: There may be many paths there. It ultimately depends on who/what you want to target:
- There may be grants for folks who want to commit to a project
- There's all sorts of paths for developers, https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/New_Developers
- Including outreach programs to fund them.
- There's a literal https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/How_to_contribute page with at least 10 different items on it!
- There's plenty of pages around hot topics such as "optimizing for mobile" (ie, https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Mobile_Gateway/Mobile_homepage_formatting , https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Recommendations_for_mobile_friendly_articles_on_Wikimedia_wikis, https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Reading/Mobile_Friendly_Content …)
- This is what we are doing? Are you interested in participating? Are there others in the community that could be helping?
- Involve representatives of designers, ux writers, technical developers, communities, and user profiles in iterative user experience (UX) design, research and result dissemination processes.
- Inform communities about the state of UX, collaborate on needs, and support them in taking responsibility.
- Let’s expand the wishlist - these are the ideas of the communities that are and will work to improve UX. The community has a lot of good ideas.
- Future / follow-up sessions in different community spaces (e.g. ESEAP) with a professional facilitator so people can learn how to best forward their recommendations
- Clinics and meetings so everyone can understand what’s happening and contribute. At the moment it’s difficult for people not involved in software development to get engaged and provide feedback
- Options for contributions - If people are more comfortable telling their wish on video calls, give them that option
- Global conversations and targeted outreach
- Test and validate the usability of products with different user profiles (advanced editors, technical contributors, and newcomers reflecting the diversity we aim for).
- Involving readers in UI / UX feedback - proactively approach these communities and newcomers - what is holding back their participation?
- Enable microsurveys for long-term track of the user experience (Phabricator ticket).
- Actively approach future communities to help us create the content and UX and tools.
- Conduct research on how to encourage new users (who are not on our platforms yet) to join.
- Involve readers
- Allow regular readers to say: “thank you”
- Make it easy to give recommendations on what can be improved in articles.
- Find ways for encouraging readers to register and become more connected to the site (not as editors, but with a special environment suitable for them). This will allow them to customize the skin, have bookmarks, and from time to time we can give them information about the site and its background.
- Add a “Bookmarks” feature, so users can save text pieces in their user page.
- Design interfaces intentionally for a wide range of devices.
- Reform the Wikimedia Incubator to be more user-friendly
- Example of Incubator reform: Remove the prefixes
- Create more non-text-based materials that could encourage mainstream users other than researchers: for example, streaming videos.
- Make templates easier to use
- The transition should be gradual. Consider that some people will still resist the change, if they are comfortable with what we currently have, so people have to choose what to use by selecting their preferences
- Investigate why people are sharing images to instagram and not to commons. Can we make it easier with an easy upload button? 
- Organize workshops to overcome the “too technical” items of the wishlist
- Create a more formalized learning forum that brings together the different parts of the learning experience (e.g. sandbox, Meta, Mediawiki, etc.) in a more smooth and coherent way.
- Create more video tutorials and encourage communities to take part in creating them
- Create newcomer resources for Wikidata, especially for the “query” concept.
- Provide new support tools dedicated to newcomers (e.g. tips for editing, covering the basics)
- Provide tools especially for newcomers that will cover the basics (starting a new article, editing tools, etc.)
- Find simple ways to have people pressing a button on the article to ask for help, make a suggestion or thank people.
- Add pop-up pages that invite newcomers to portals, provide tips for finding sources that are culturally not so specific.
- Make the EDIT BUTTON more prominent
- Set up banners to invite readers to contribute, not just to donate.
- Newcomers can pick topics of interest when they arrive, and be paired with user groups or affiliates with similar interests.
- Give new users clear tasks to do, such as backlogs, which could be instrumented far more efficiently.
- I am facing the challenge of Wikipedia not being engaging enough for editing by circumstantial readers
- Making people register in the system so they can contribute with a smaller task - a campaign, register to make Wikipedia better - at the moment, when you register, it’s the same. The other way you can summarize, adapt your interface, upload easily.
- Simplify the platform, add more tools
- Realizing the described newcomer experience in 6-12 months 
- A body of research has been produced by the WMF on new users' problems and challenges, but this research doesn’t reach out to enough contributors.
- There is a project to work on better editing tasks and guidance for new users. Example: Getting to know Wikipedia in a 30 Days Challenge (in German).
- Organizing editing events for newcomers
- There is a need for a more simple tool for organizing edit-a-thon. It is difficult to track new user activities. The dashboard is confusing and difficult to use.
- Many people come to edit for edit-a-thons and do not get sufficient training on how to start. Most of their contributions get deleted and not accepted, which is indeed disappointing.
- Friendly environment
- Provide cultural sensitivity, safety, bias, and restorative practice training for current Wikipedians to improve ux for new editors who are trying to learn.
- There is a clear divide between communities with a lot of users and communities with a smaller number of users. There are a lot of contributors who don’t push themselves to the forefront and need support.
- Conduct research to raise awareness on gender issues.
Tools and Language support
- Cross wiki tools, discoverability of tools which types are reliable and people knowing what we have when it comes to tools.
- Provide translation support and standards for global, multilingual activities.
- Create a guide for translating materials, being clear and specific (e.g. about issues like gender-neutrality).
- Suggestion to create research or focused groups with community weigh-in to discuss these topics. Make sure language guides are created by the people that they affect!
- Translating into gendered languages has no clear rules. Little decisions made by volunteers on Wikipedia regarding gender-inclusive language can quickly become the norm, they need to be more thoroughly thought and discussed.
- Make templates easier to translate.
- all templates vary by language and project, which makes translations very difficult.
- Language as a barrier
- Some languages have formal varieties with a vocabulary that is hard to understand (e.g. Swahili, Hindi, Igbo). We need to make the language more clear to incite participation.
Who would like to take part in this initiative’s working group?
- Regional Hubs/ Collaboratives
- Thematic groups
- Engage professional people to facilitate meetings
- Engage professional people to be subject matter experts to engage in conversation with developing (not so technical expert) communities, newbies.
Who is/are interested in having additional responsibilities to coordinate this working group?
- Professional technical staff or translator to support setting up new Wikimedia projects
- Translating 500 technical messages is really hard for non-technicals.
- Technical languages must not be a burden to the volunteers, take initiative to hire someone to do as a bridge engineer (assistance on technical languages) and a linguist in the incubator project that will help on the interface friendly to the small language
- If there is a dormant community that is actively reading, but there is no technical person to help them, there might be forever stuck in their own language edition.
Tools and language support
- Increased investment in community wishes (such as dedicated staff), in order to include newcomers and smaller wikis.
- The recommendations.
- Room 3
- Room 2
- Room 1