Research:WikiProjects and Subject Area Activity (English Wikipedia)

James Hare
no affiliation
Piotr Konieczny
Kim Schoonover
no affiliation
Kirill Lokshin
no affiliation
Duration:  2015-01 – 2015-03
Open data project  Open data
no url provided
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This page documents a completed research project.

Key PersonnelEdit

  • James Hare, Project Manager, WikiProject X
  • Kim Schoonover, Designer, WikiProject X
  • Piotr Konieczny, Advisor, WikiProject X
  • Kirill Lokshin, Advisor, WikiProject X

Project SummaryEdit

WikiProject X is an initiative to improve WikiProjects and other subject-area collaborations on Wikipedia through research, design, and experimentation. The initial iteration of this project will focus on the English Wikipedia, though our final product could be adapted to other wikis. Our design work will be based on research on activity on existing WikiProjects and the articles that fall under those projects' scopes (as defined by WikiProject banners featured on those articles' discussion pages). This research will produce a ranked list of WikiProjects and WikiProject-defined subject areas by activity, which will serve as the basis of interviews.


In Part 1 we will collect the number of edits to each WikiProject talk page and the number of edits to articles within each WikiProject's area. For each month in 2014, we will analyze the number of threads started per month and the number of threads replied to in that same month. We will correlate those to subject-area article edits in the same month. We will control for WikiProject age as measured in the number of days passed since the WikiProject page was created. We will be testing the hypothesis that WikiProject talk page activity positively correlates with the number of subject-area article edits. This will be tested against the corresponding null hypothesis of no correlation. The compilation of this data will also produce a ranked list of the most active subject areas on English Wikipedia and of the WikiProjects with the highest level of discussion activity.

In Part 2 we will interview a random sample of editors within highly active, moderately active, and inactive WikiProjects and WikiProject-defined subject areas. These areas will be defined according to the data we received or other standard measurement of activity. Interview questions will focus on the interviewee's motives for editing and the interviewee's needs as an editor. Upon establishing the needs of the interviewee, we will ask questions about awareness of WikiProjects (or lack thereof) and use (or non-use) of WikiProjects. This will allow us to assess whether WikiProjects are adequately visible to editors, and if they are, whether they meet editors' needs as established through earlier questions. We will make our interview protocol available to the Wikimedia Foundation before carrying out this part.


We will publish articles and datasets through an open platform.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects ProtectionEdit

This research project involves interviewing human subjects. We will make our interview protocol available to the Wikimedia Foundation before carrying out this part.

It is worth noting that this research is part of an Individual Engagement Grant already approved by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Benefits for the Wikimedia communityEdit

This research will culminate in the development of a prototype WikiProject workflow, including re-designed WikiProject pages and other tools that help Wikipedia editors work together. Once tested on the English Wikipedia, these workflows could be adapted to other wikis.


This research will take place from January to March 2015, in accordance with the project timeline.


This project is supported by a Wikimedia Foundation Individual Engagement Grant.


External linksEdit


  • James Hare – jamesmhare