Research:Social media traffic report pilot

Created
18:17, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
Duration:  2020-February – 2020-May
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This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.
Please contact the project lead before formally citing or reusing results from this page.

View the report on English Wikipedia.

Social media direct a high volume of reader traffic to Wikipedia articles. These spikes may lead to increases in vandalism or other disruptive behavior. However, Wikipedia editors currently have no reliable source of information about which articles are receiving high volumes of traffic from social media at any given time.

We propose an experiment in which we will publish a daily report of articles that have recently received a high volume of traffic from social media platforms, to help editors monitor and maintain the quality of these articles. The platforms we currently plan to focus on for the experiment are Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube. The experiment will last for 1-3 months, after which we will evaluate the impact of the intervention through both analyses of editing activities on those articles and by eliciting feedback from editors who used the report.

Background and motivationEdit

Wikipedia articles are shared widely on social media platforms, by platform users and the platforms themselves. Wikipedia is huge and covers a wide variety of topics, any of which could be relevant to current events happening anywhere in the world. Because of the viral nature of information propagation on the internet, Wikipedia articles shared on these social media can experience huge, sudden traffic spikes. External events can cause an apparently uncontroversial, low-traffic article to quickly go from languishing in obscurity to being in the global spotlight in a matter of days or even hours. Furthermore, some social media platforms link to Wikipedia articles to “fact check” controversial content shared by their users.[1][2] The potential unintended consequences for Wikipedia of social media platforms using it as a free fact checking service in this way is not known.[3]

Currently, the Wikimedia Foundation makes aggregate counts of article views available publicly via the REST API[4] and the PageViews tool.[5] However, these counts represent total traffic (e.g. external traffic from search engines and news articles, or internal traffic from other Wikipedia articles). The Wikimedia Foundation does log information about the platform that traffic comes from (e.g. google.com, facebook.com) but this data has traditionally not been made available publicly due to sensitivity/privacy concerns. A highly-aggregated form of this referral data can be found in the monthly clickstream datasets.[6]

Despite the lack of granularity of the current public pageview data, editors still rely on this information extensively to monitor reader activity and support patrolling work. On English Wikipedia, the top 25 report[7] and the the top 5000 report[8] together received close to 500 views per day in 2019, which approaches the daily traffic of popular editor-facing pages like the Village Pump.[9]

GoalsEdit

  • Assess user acceptance and usefulness of the traffic reports
  • Elicit design requirements for improving the traffic reports
  • Assess the impact of traffic reports on editor behavior
  • Characterize the kinds of articles that receive social media traffic spikes
  • Evaluate the impact of social media traffic (vs. other traffic sources) on article quality
  • Identify potential disinformation or disruption campaigns coordinated via social media

Project planEdit

Phase 1Edit

February-March 2020

  • Create a single traffic report (a sortable wikitable) that is updated on a daily basis by a script
  • The report will contain information on all Wikipedia articles that have received at least 500 views from one of the four identified social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit) during the previous calendar day.
  • Each row in the report will also indicate..

The report will be implemented on English Wikipedia (in the lead researcher's userspace). The researchers will announce their 'soft launch' on the English Wikipedia Village Pump and on the Research mailing list for comment.

Phase 2Edit

April-May 2020

  • The researchers will monitor edits to the pages that appear on the list, and elicit reports of potential problematic edits (potential disinformation attempts) via a Qualtrics survey.
  • The researcher will elicit feedback on design, functionality, and future plans from community members on the project talkpages.
  • The researchers will determine next steps for the project beyond the 2-month pilot.

FAQ and report formatEdit

See: Research:Social_media_traffic_report_pilot/About#Frequently_Asked_Questions

See alsoEdit

SubpagesEdit

Pages with the prefix 'Social media traffic report pilot' in the 'Research' and 'Research talk' namespaces:

ReferencesEdit