Research:Re:Flex User Studies

This page documents a completed research project.

Key Personnel

  • Mark Zachry
  • David McDonald
  • Anna DelaMerced

Project Summary

Screenshot of Re:Flex, a prototype information visualization tool for Wikipedia editing. Currently under development by researchers at the University of Washington.

This study involves introducing Wikipedia editors to a new visualization tool, Re:Flex, within a proxied version of Wikipedia. Participants in the study will be asked to do a set of short, scenario-guided tasks that the tool is designed to support, and provide their opinions about the tool. Study participants will be invited to the UW-Seattle campus for these sessions, which will last approximately 60 minutes. Observing these Wikipedia editors working with our tool and gathering their opinions about its design and functionality will help us refine the tool and provide insight into how such tools can support the standard activities of Wikipedia editors.



The study will be announced on Wikipedia pages associated with editors in the Seattle area and in related electronic communication forums (Internet chat, email lists related to Wikipedia). The announcement will invite interested and qualified individuals to contact one of the researchers via email.

Current editors who are interested will be contacted via email with an inquiry about their availability to come to the UW-Seattle campus for a study session. This message will inform them about the basic nature of the study (e.g., it is voluntary, participants have the right to discontinue the session without penalty or to not answer any of the questions). If they are willing to participate, they will be encouraged to move forward with scheduling the session.

The researchers will conduct the sessions on the UW-Seattle campus where participants will be given an overview of the study session, asked to sign a consent form, asked to use Re:Flex to perform a set of common editing-related tasks, and asked questions about their perceptions of the tool and its potential value. Upon completion of the session (or when the individual decides to discontinue the study), the individual will be thanked and given a gift card (~$20.00) or the option to donate their compensation to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Upon conclusion of the session, the researchers will prepare notes about the session, using researcher-assigned subject identifiers rather than real names or Wikipedia user names. Only researcher-assigned subject identifiers will be retained in the study data set.



The results of these Re:Flex user studies may be reported in research publications in public venues, such as the Wikimania, Wikisym, or ACM Computer-Supported Cooperative Work conferences.

The study will potentially influence the design of Re:Flex, which should be of interest to the general population of Wikipedians. Re:Flex and any related reporting of the user studies with aggregated/anonymous participant data will be publicly available, including via links on the research team members’ UW faculty pages.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection


These Re:Flex user studies have been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the researchers' home institution.

Benefits for the Wikimedia community


This research will contribute to the general knowledge of researchers interested in designing social media websites wherein activities and patterns of participation are made to be more evident to participants. It thus complements existing lines of inquiry in the Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Computer-Human Interaction communities of researchers.

Time Line

  • Summer 2012 - Complete Re:Flex user studies
  • April 2012 - Begin Re:Flex user studies
  • Jan-Mar 2012 - Test and fix Re:Flex
  • Jan-Dec 2011 - Build Re:Flex

Earlier Project-Related Work

  • Spring 2010 - Present demo system at CSCW
  • Winter 2010 - Build prototype system and conduct user interviews
  • Spring 2009 - Conduct initial research with the Wikipedia community
  • Fall 2008 - Begin project



NSF #0811210, Informing Social Translucence with Open Composable Online Reputation Systems



McDonald, D. W., S. Gokhman, and M. Zachry (2012). Building for Social Translucence: A Domain Analysis and Prototype System. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW '12).

McDonald, D. S. Javanmardi, and M. Zachry. (2011). Finding Patterns in Behavioral Observations by Automatically Labeling Forms of Wikiwork in Barnstars. In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym '11). Mountain View, CA.

Derthick, K., P. Tsao, T. Kriplean, A. Borning, M. Zachry, and D. W. McDonald (2011). Collaborative Sensemaking during Admin Permission Granting in Wikipedia. In A.A. Ozok and P. Zaphiris (Eds.): Online Communities, HCII 2011, LNCS 6778, pp. 100–109.

Gokhman, S. D. McDonald, and M. Zachry. (2011). Wiki Architectures as Social Translucence Enablers. Poster with paper In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym '11). Mountain View, CA.

Kriplean, T., M. Zachry, D. McDonald, and A. Borning (2010). Enabling Social Translucence for Wikipedia. System with paper presented at the ACM 2010 SIGCHI Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW '10).