Talk:Wikimedia Research Network/Archive 1

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Erik, have you asked any of the proposed members of this team whether they want to be involved? And wouldn't it be more appropriate if they chose their own leader, rather than having one appointed for them by the Board? I know it's useful to have an official position for purposes of external communication, but if the official position is going to be conflated with team leadership, wouldn't it be better if the Board merely approved a decision made democratically by the committee? -- Tim Starling 12:01, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

As noted on the page, this is a list of people I would like to invite, and an encouragement for others to suggest invitations. If anyone doesn't want to be on it, they can simply remove themselves.
As for the position of CRO, I don't see the conflation and would see it as potentially disastrous in terms of communications to have different people in functionally otherwise identical roles for external and internal communications. But I'm open to a community-based candidate election or approval process for the role of CRO in addition to the Board appointment, and would like to discuss this in the first meeting.--Eloquence 12:14, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Heh. Odd way to find I've been tapped for a position ;-) Peer Review, specifically herding through the article validation feature (a Project Manager is someone with responsibility and no direct power whatsoever), is something I'e been working on a lot of late, and a title may be useful. Jdforrester will be good for the role too - he's good value for sanity-checking in general - David Gerard 12:25, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Super, welcome to the team. We can talk a bit about the peer review strategy at the first IRC meeting.--Eloquence 12:48, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
where will the meeting be announced?
I'm going to send an announcement to foundation-l and wikitech-l and post it on this page once we have enough interested members.--Eloquence 16:08, 26 May 2005 (UTC)


I'm happy that there is more interest in the importance of research and that the Foundation sees the benefit of specialist's advice and profesional communication with other institutions. But I don't believe in such a hierachical, bureaucratic institution. I regret that you stuck in the traditional system and don't believe in the wiki principle. In my opinion science is meant to be free and does not depent on membership. I understand and consent the goal of a "Wikimedia Research Team". Perhaps I'm naive in thinking that Wikimedia is not comparable to other organisations - at least in some points. If you want to hire people and tell them what to do, then the concept sounds well. But as long as Wikimedia stuff is not my paid full time job, I prefer the open developement principle where you have to earn your merits with what you do and not with what you are. Maybe it's just that I don't want to take over responsability for another project and I hate IRC meetings  ;-). By the way there is no responsibility without power and vice versa! I prefer to take the power and responsability myself as long as I do Wikimedia research. I hope that a "Wikimedia Resarch Team" will improve the developement of Wikimedia projects. But I don't think so at the moment. -- Nichtich 19:09, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

As the page notes, everyone is free to join the team (openness) and the decision-making process is consensus-based (lack of hierarchy). So I feel that the team is very much wiki-like, more so than, for example, the grants committee with its private wiki. But I agree with you that the Team will have to prove its usefulness through its accomplishments, so I hope you will reconsider your decision in the future.--Eloquence 00:24, 27 May 2005 (UTC)


I have added my name, thanks for the invitation, but probably will keep a low profile, as battery is low these days. However, curiosity got the better of me. I don't mind to fulfill the non-official role of CDDD (Chief Database Dump Digging Dude) as I'm doing that already. :) Erik Zachte 00:04, May 27, 2005 (UTC)

Wikiman mutated by premature researchulation[edit]


Eloquence, this time you have gone too far. Your zealous iconic research efforts, heedless of standard procedure or protective measures in their race for glory, have mutated wikiman beyond recognition. You have screwed a lightbulb through his gut, and its unfiltered radiation has mutated his one fine head into three small ones. A great and noble (if slightly asymmetric) icon of Wikimajesty has been perverted. This cannot stand; the new trikiman monstrosity must be destroyed. +sj | Translate the Quarto | + 04:30, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

I like it. Brace for impact as moron POV-warriors castigate you for being RGB-centric. Oh, and you've deliberately chosen a screw-in light-bulb to spite those of us who use bayonet fittings (not to mention the Beavis/Butthead gang who get a kick out of the word "screw" ;-). --Phil | Talk 08:57, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Sj, this logo is pure disco. Everyone loves disco. And excuse me, Wikiman? If the Wikimedia logo is a man, it's a man confined to a small space and frantically having a wank. Certainly we don't want people to get any ideas that have no basis in reality! The single true interpretation is this: The Wikimedia logo represents the synthesis of open policy (blue, open circle), community (red dot) and content commons (green field). Research shines a light on these three areas and the interaction between them. This, Sj, is the One True Way. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.--Eloquence 09:14, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
I thought it looked like a Dalek, myself. EL-E-VATE!
I think it should be a bayonet fitting. British ideas are so much better than American ones. - David Gerard 20:29, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, I suppose this all true (about the mutant and everything, I particularly liked the Dalek reference) ;-), but apart from an aesthetic point of view, as I said it on the list, I am very very very strongly against the use of any other logo than the official Wikimedia one for the research team, or any other team for that matter. We are trying to strengthen Wikimedia by consolidating decision making processes and opening them to a larger group. I believe the use of yet another logo simply goes against the coherence of the whole thing. So I'll make Klein's line mine for this once. NO LOGO! notafish }<';> 00:06, 31 May 2005 (UTC)



How do multilingual issues fit into the mandate of this group ? Does this kind of request also fit in its mandate ([1]) ? Yann 10:38, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

1) Yes, but of course we can only examine an issue if we have someone competent and willing to do it. So if you asked the Team to review a proposal for a Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian language converter, we might have to pass, or find someone with the necessary background knowledge to assist us. This is why I want technically competent people from all languages to join the team. Even someone who can't code PHP but who has a generally good understanding of technical issues would be very useful.
It seems that there are serious issues for Arabic and Farsi (see GerardM). Another issue is that Indian fonts are much smaller than Latin fonts. So far, the best solution is to define a class for these fonts, but I wonder if there is a better way to handle this. This ideal would be that the software recognizes the fonts and increase them accordingly. Yann 22:34, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
2) Looking at the specific bug, it appears from Christian's comment that white-space:pre had the desired effect. Is this not the case?--Eloquence 10:51, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Not really, because the "pre" cancelled all other wiki tags. So it is not possible to have bold or italic any more, for example. The need is a tag that just takes into account the CR at the end of each line, but does not change the rest of the wiki syntax. Yann 22:34, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Mission Statement[edit]

I hope we can devote some time on IRC to talk about goals and methods of the team, before we dig deeper into particulars.

I would like to propose a small amendment to the mission statement (rather here than on IRC so that I can put together a few coherent phrases :)) The statement mentions 'prioritize the needs of the individual Wikimedia projects'. the rationale explains : 'The task of identifying project needs is a massive one and should not be put on the shoulders of the developers.'

On mailing lists there has been quite some debate on the role of the WRT. Also today in the Dutch wikimeet with Jimbo the topic aroused sentiments. Gerards statement 'Building a cathedral in this bazaar is not likely to work too well.' expresses pointly what the concerns are about.

Some confusion about the role that the WRT sees for itself could be avoided by rephrasing this part of the statement and talk about 'facilitate the prioritization process' or words to that effect. I hope this is not considered nit-picking. Details can be important in a mission statement. I understand from the comments by Eloquence here and elsewhere that that is what he envisions as well, but the current phrasing can be misinterpreted.

I suppose everyone agrees that priorities should be set by the community at large, whenever possible. Of course sometimes reponsibilities have already been delegated, if not formally, then still in practice. Technical emergencies like an imminent outage due to an inefficient database scheme should and are resolved immediately by developers and systems administrators.

Building new functionality with unpaid volunteers means we depend on the willingness of those people to put themselves to a task. Common practice in OSF. They'll hardly be interested in priorities set by a committee. However they might be interested to get feedback from the community in an organized way about which functionality is desperately wanted. The committee might facilitate this by providing and solliciting arguments pro and contra, moderating the discussion and organize a survey, initiate a voting process or anything else to get good feedback from whomever cares about a subject.

I think the same argument applies when the experiment with paid developers is institutionalized. The foundation can give binding directions for paid tasks, but again it would be essential for the wiki spirit if those directions were widely and verifiably supported.

By the way I think it would also have been more fortunate when Eloquence had been appointed as Liaison Research Team instead of Chief Research Officer. Perceptions about what the title entails would have been different. Not to mention that his reputation, drive and visionary gifts make a title mostly redundant anyway :) Erik Zachte 21:18, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

Hi Erik,
thanks for your thoughtful comments. Please do feel free to edit the mission statement as you see fit -- we can always talk about the changes later if we disagree. The WRT can do nothing but develop recommendations and proposals -- to the Board, to interested volunteers, to outside developers, to the community, and so forth. Yes, these recommendations should have community support; in many cases, they will be the direct result of community input (I intend for the first priority list to be based in large part on Bugzilla votes). However, it is also important to me that the WRT can develop recommendations that do not come from the community, or that are controversial.
I want us to be able to say, "Sorry, but this is just not feasible, forget about it," or, "You are underestimating the security/usability/scalability issues that would result from implementing this," or, "This is an issue that is too project-specific, it should not be part of the mainline code - we can target it as an extension," etc. The key is, I think, to find a middle ground between expertocracy and populism. Listening to the community and staying true to one's own beliefs are not mutually exclusive. My goal for myself and the WRT is, to put it simple, to do the right thing, but to piss off the lowest possible number of people in the process. :-)
What does this mean in practice? One of the deliverables I'd like to have soon is something similar to development tasks, but up-to-date and properly organized, with multiple strategies of getting things done. High priority tasks where there's no volunteer interest could be developed into proper specifications; these specs could then be given to the Board, with a price tag, and a recommendation to allocate the required funds ASAP. As you say, such specs should be widely reviewed and supported before anything happens with them. Smaller, medium priority tasks could be given to new developers as a way to get started with MediaWiki. For larger, medium priority tasks, we could target outside developers. There's also the possibility of setting up donation funds for specific tasks, but that's something I'd only like to explore after we've had some more experience with paid development.
As for the title CRO, its usefulness comes into play primarily when talking to third parties. Perhaps it makes sense to have a separate title for the role within the Wikimedia Research Team, perhaps not. This is one of the issues we need to discuss at the first meeting.--Eloquence 16:47, 30 May 2005 (UTC)
Hi Eloquence, thanks for your reply. I remember the saying 'A camel is a horse designed by a committee'. Collecting community feedback should focus more on ends and less on means, I think, in other words more on requirements and less on implementation. The latter is where expert opinion should indeed prevail. Cheers, Erik Zachte 14:51, Jun 4, 2005 (UTC)


Hi all, I was really looking forward to joining the brainstorming discussion on IRC but something came up with five minutes to go and I couldn't make it, so sorry about that. As I said on the members list, I'm interested in any coordination between current researchers, and being of help to future researchers, more on the sociological / ethnographic end of things (which can feed into many aspects of usability/sociability etc). I'll try to write up a page on meta about my experiences, along with the paper I'm writing for Wikimania, which should give some indication of my thinking on Wikipedia's organisational learning, amongst other things (which seems like a remit of this team). However, since I'm extremely busy at the minute, I'll have to read the transcript of this meeting, when it's available, and try to find myself within the group. I also have to say that I think Erik has made a very good solid start in his initial communications on this project, which is encouraging. I'm looking forward to helping out in any way I can. Cormaggio 21:37, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I too had an overly interesting evening in a real life sense. My apologies for not making it. Could someone please put a log up? - David Gerard 00:44, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Editors for Wikimania Proceedings wanted[edit]

Proceedings of the first Wikimania Conference will be created publically at Wikibooks. I started with some accepted papers and a Guideline draft. Help is needed to create good proceedings. In the following days more authors will be told to upload their abstracts and articles. Unfourtunately submissions are very different in format and detail - more editors are needed to ensure a minimal consensus what to include in proceedings articles, how to do the layout and so on. This also included communication with authors. If you are interested just be bold: Comment and edit the guidelines. If you like to take responsibility for the proceedings then add your name to the list of editors. -- Nichtich 01:04, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I took the liberty of doing a little organizing: Category:Research_Team

Also a made a template for members: {{research team member}}

I am a member of the Wikimedia Research Team.

The team will study Wikimedia's content, technology and community, to identify the needs of the individual Wikimedia projects, to facilitate the prioritization process, to make recommendations for targeted development, to guide and motivate outside developers, to assist in the study of new project proposals, and to collaborate with researchers who are not part of the Wikimedia community.

I think we need to decide on user groups and naming conventions. And in any case we need to discuss this more in general aspects. Kevin Baastalk 03:33, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)



I've pondered over the name of the WRT a bit. Since we're essentially building a large network of people, made of smaller special interest groups, how about calling the whole thing the Wikimedia Research Network instead of Wikimedia Research Team? That might also avoid connotations of being a closed, small group, when we're trying to be as open as possible. Thoughts, objections?.--Eloquence 11:13, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I dunno. "Network" seems somehow too lose - not enough cohesion, suggests that it's all a bit fly-by-night. I don't think that "Team" suggests too much our being a close group.
James F. (talk) 17:59, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
But it is lose - no cohesion, all a bit fly-by-night. "Network" is much more better as long as there is open membership. -- Nichtich 22:29, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I like network. Some networks are extremely cohesive, if not physically, then in spirit, e.g. spy networks, underground resistance movements. Come to think of it, this connotation puts us below the general wikimedia community instead of besides it or even above, as some may fear :) But really wikimedia community is a mesh of networks anyway. Groups that focus on some special interest are networking de facto. Erik Zachte 23:23, Jun 6, 2005 (UTC)
"Team" does constitute working together, which is an important characteristic in this, though granted there is quite a variety of expertise and ideally (i'm guessing this is the general feeling) this will have enough membership to be broken up into "task forces" and so forth. Perhaps the entire aggregate of members is called the "network", and that network is composed of various "teams", the organization and constituion of which is dynamic, so as to fit the current percieved needs of the community. (the "task force" idea i got from JFK: he used ad-hoc "task forces" extensively during his presidency) Kevin Baastalk 04:51, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

As you can see, I have moved the page; however, I think we should retain the word "team" for individual workgroups within the network. More on this will follow.--Eloquence 10:42, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)


maybe you should also reconsider using the term "research" and call the network "Wikimedia Long-Term-Development Network" or sth. like that. The meetings have mostly consisted of discussing future MediaWiki features so far ... This is not exactly what I would call "research", even though it is of course important and interesting.

Best regards, --zeno 13:34, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Mailing list?[edit]

Does the email list exist yet? I just unsubscribed from wikitech since I don't think we're going to be discussing things there. --Reagle 17:37, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

No, not yet; currently unclear as to whether we will need one, given that we're yet to send a single email about it in the first place...
James F. (talk) 22:39, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I think there should be a logistics mailing list and will follow up on that; for now, I will use the email addresses of the individual members to make announcements. At present, there is a wikiresearch-l mailing list which is, however, not intended to be used for organizational issues like that. It is purely meant for researchers discussing issues related to the study of the content and the community of the projects. Study of the technology should take place on wikitech-l.--Eloquence 10:44, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)


The Statistics Department on en has some interesting research queustions, so perhaps this network could try to work with them in some way. Angela 17:22, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Recommendations to the Wikimedia Research Network regarding the scope of the initiative[edit]

These suggestions mainly concern following definition in the list above: "based on this research, make recommendations to the Board of Trustees for targeted development" which I would change to: "make the results of research permanently available to the wikimedia community, in a structured way"

The rationale for these suggestions is:

  • "formulation of recommendations": I'd cut that out of the scope, because that is something hampering research on wikip/media policies: traditionally, in wikipedia context, policies are developed by the community/communities, NOT by a scheme of research -> recommendations to those in charge -> top down implementation. Since WRN is a research department separated from where things are implemented there is no need to "formulate recommendations", which generally lowers the scientific level of research (while open to threats of bias towards the goals one wants to achieve). Further, there are enough clever wikipedians/wikimedians (in fact, all of them) who can read the findings of the research and decide for themselves what to do with it.
  • "present results to the board", I would make no distinction, just: "make available to the community", that is: without separate treatment of board members. Further I would put in the scope to make the findings of the research available on a permanent base, structured. Meta-wiki allows that, so I think that better than to write "one off" reports that are sent to a board. This seems all very self-evident to me.

--Francis Schonken 06:47, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Images and media files[edit]

I uploaded the images for my recent paper at commons:category:Wiki Research - how about collecting all our interesting images and media files there? -- Nichtich 8 July 2005 10:53 (UTC)

Erik's resignation[edit]

I think, in the shadow of Erik's resignation as Chief Officer [2], that it's important we don't lose momentum or lose all initiative. There hasn't been much activity recently (as per WiseWoman's question on when the next meeting will be) - apart from the recently created Wikimedia Research Network Privacy Policy. Fundamentally, it might be good to take stock of what we're about, where we are and where we're going. Would it be an idea to list all of our projects/activities somewhere, ie. what we've done and what we want to do? (Maybe just go over Wikimedia_Research_Team/Interests, which is a bit out of date.) But do we need to sit down and ask what we need again, or is everyone already happy with what they're doing? And are we going to nominate a person ourselves, as per Tim Starling's suggestion, or wait until someone else is appointed? Just trying to keep the ball rolling. If anyone wants to have an IRC meeting, then go ahead - I was just thinking on answerign WiseWoman that we were a little bit dependent on Erik for initative, and that isn't so good. Still though, I'd like to wish Erik all the best, and reinforce what a good job he did so far. Cormaggio 21:14, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Without Erik Moellers invitation I would not have thought of starting a General User Survey project when I'm already quite busy on several other projects. But after Erik's initial spark it was pretty much in the hands of other wikipedians like you. I will surely work on the php form needed for the survey, after adjusting wikistats and tomeraider script for new xml dumps and implementing unicode for EasyTimeline, which are all older commitments. I still hope Erik Moeller swallows his pride, not by giving in, but by not making this affair bigger than it really is. AFAIK everything was still open for discussion, although the board announced they had made a decision that was to made public only days later, and AFAIK still has not been. Erik Zachte 22:25, August 17, 2005 (UTC)
Sorry for any confusion, but the only decision to be announced was Erik's resignation, not anything from the Board itself. Angela 19:43, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Like Michael Snow, I wholeheartedly agree with your mail, Erik (Z) [3]. However I'm afraid I take Erik (M) seriously, I don't see him coming back - however much I'd like him to. In the meantime, we do at least, as you say, have our survey, and it's going quite well so far. Cormaggio 14:44, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

New meetings[edit]

  • Unified Login : I would love to see progress made on Unified Login, including an open meeting solely on this topic which is open to constructive criticism of the current design, and encourages feedback from the non-research community.
  • Unified survey : Again, there are many interested people who are not involved in development work who would like to use or contribute questions to such a survey; an open meeting just about this, to which economists and sociologists and census workers could be invited, might be useful.

+sj | Translate the Quarto |+ 22:41, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

New metrics[edit]

I am a big fan of metrics. Two in particular I would like to see developed:

  • How well Wiki[mp]edia is inspiring/attracting/getting active input from new blood
    Getting new users involved in local meetings, Wikimania, policy discussions, new wikiprojects, etc.
  • "Taking self seriously" metrics for individual projects. Submetrics like number of different pages about voting, number of active non-consensus votes, number of levels of access-control bureaucracy, proportion of meta-pages devoted to policy, proportion of mailing list posts or edits in which one user is slapping another one down.
    Very early projects are often either totally serious (no content) or totally laid back (only content).


As per Anthere's request [4], I've written up a short piece on the WRN for the upcoming edition of Quarto. I'd appreciate any comments or edits you'd like to make - and if you add anything substantial, please add your name to the article authors' list. Thanks. Cormaggio @ 22:50, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

thanks a lot. Not the time to take care of it right now, but I'll do in two weeks when I am back home. For now, I am head trying to dig in wikiversity stuff ;-) Anthere 04:03, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
Great - me too :-) Cormaggio @ 12:15, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia P2P[edit]

Thank you all for the great job you are doing. Sorry for bothering you. Could someone please program a Wikipedia P2P client? I think bandwidth and storage are a bottleneck, for instance in the Commons, and this could be a very cheap solution. I am no programmer, though. But I would install such a client on my computer, e.g. Thanks in advance, Longbow4u, 14. September 2005, 20:38 h (MEST).

neither bandwidth nor storage are a problem. kate.

Some ideas for research focus[edit]

What we really need is to pay and/or bribe and/or beg a developer to fix the performance issues of the 'rate this article version' feature. Then the highest rated version of an article would be prominently linked from the top of the most recent version of the article. It would also be neat if one could indicate whether or not particular votes were useful and if the most recent version of the article is still as good or bad (a cur diff would be displayed so comparisons would be easy).

Logged-in users would have the option of displaying the highest rated version of an article if and when available. But I think it is *very* important that we never have that as a global default; the big thing has going for it is the instant gratification factor and vandalism should not be hidden behind a higher rated but older version.

Also, at the bottom of each page there should be an automatically created citation line that gives the exact page version you are looking at. I see there is already a 'Permanent link' link in the sidebar - but who the hell is going to know what that means?

Another dream: The ability to rate other editors and trust by proxy what users you trust think of editors they have rated. No data on any one person's rating would be public; the data would only be used to filter out edits made by trusted members of the community so that more attention can be paid to those who are still unknown or who are known but not trusted. The major data processing for this feature could be done on the client's computer like this:

  • raw RC/ data would be downloaded to your computer
  • your user/ ratings and the user/ ratings of the people you trust are also downloaded (this would be incrementally updated as needed)
  • your computer would do all the sorting by user name/

The current system is just not scaling very well. If we want to open, then we need to invest in some serious software and hardware improvements. All of the above will have a very significant database hit, but I think it is all worth if since it should push us toward the production of better quality content. --Daniel Mayer 02:10, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Updates for meeting - Late November 2005[edit]

Looks like the meeting will be fairly sparse this weekend ;). I won't make it, so I thought I'd toss updates here.

  • Pinged Single_login_specifications at Todo:_Collision_Estimation about arriving at a collision estimation based on last meetings conversation. (no response yet)
  • I've revived the conversation at Share watchlists and summarized discussion from 2003.
    1. I hope that academic analysis of user watchlists will be insightful into how users interface with wikipedia.
    2. Furthermore, the interest clouds and user relationships (users watching users) hidden in this data might be used to foster community.

Regardless of inclusion in the meeting, I'd appreciate comments on Share watchlists and how it relates to this project. here 20:12, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Did this meeting take place? Is there a log if so? Cormaggio @ 12:43, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
Ah, yes, sorry about that. No, the meeting didn't take place, given the lack of interest. I will schedule one for a fortnight's time.
James F. (talk) 17:17, 22 November 2005 (UTC)