Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/New feedback system for Wikipedia articles

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  • New feedback system for Wikipedia articles
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  • Have you ever felt the need to have some more powerful ways to discuss about the contents of wikiarticles? WikiComment is here to solve that for you.


Example of writing comment in wikiComment.
Image by Krusamägi, freely licensed under CC SA-BY 4.0.

Site that relies on the cooperation of people needs that users could easily exchange information. When there are some problems with an article you could always add some templates to specific places or point to them on talk page. But isn't it sometimes somewhat painful and time consuming to do that? Do discuss about some detail so that others could easily understand where is the troublemaker situated? Or just to focus on the issue itself and not the difficulty of pointing out its location?

Problem grows even greater when articles are written inside a Wikipedia Education Program. You may need to follow up hundreds of students and provide them feedback so that they could easily understand what should they fix. Rather tricky job when dealing with persons who have never before written to Wikipedia or when wanting to use assistants who have never created articles to Wikipedia.

Like in Estonia we have a course called "Estonian Composition and Conversation" in the University of Tartu, Faculty of Science and Technology, where there are on average 200+ participating students per year, who write articles into Wikipedia. We are keenly interested of providing good quality feedback, but with that number of students and with the use of the usual wikisystem, that is hard to achieve. So we needed to solve that issue.

When using the usual method (read: "the talk page"), you need to point out where are all of the mistakes located and then express your concerns about them. With a lot of comments that does get rather messy and it's hard to understand where are those comments directed to. So it's not a good medium for feedback in massive scale and not that useful for neither the students nor the person giving feedback. So the goal was simple: to ease the process of giving feedback to students who write wikiarticles as their coursework.

What we did was to create a system called WikiComment.

What that thing does? Well, at first it allows to add comments to exact letters/sentences/paragraphs to speed up the commenting process and make it easier to locate the issues. In addition to adding comments, it also provides various highlighting options and a possibility to strike through text. Secondly, it allows for better monitoring of the articles of interest. That means the wikiComment user has an information about which pages have been modified and he or she can easily check if the changes have solved the marked questions.

We'll hope that this will make it easier to focus on text and to the quality of writing.

Obviously WikiComment could be used outside the education initiative and in many other ways as well, but that is just how it all started. For example we'll soon add support for sites like Meta-Wiki, Wikisource, Wikivoyage, Wikinews and Wikiquote among others. Having a discussion about some details in grant request or talking about some local tourist sites might just had become easier. But to really optimize the system and to make it as good as possible we'll need your feedback. Please go on and test that site. If you have any suggestions, then just let us know.

Ivo Kruusamägi, Estonian Wikipedian