Welcome to WikiProject Wikipedia Reform!
The goal of this project is to establish a place for discussion of ideas on Wikipedia reform. Presently, this function is performed by such forums such at Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals), Wikipedia:Deletion reform, and various policy talk pages. But we seem to be lacking a comprehensive, well-organized incubator of ideas for general reform that is conducive to the type of focused effort needed to make headway in addressing complex, systemic problems on Wikipedia. Moreover, many existing forums seem to have a bias of contributors in favor of the status quo. This WikiProject can be an alternate place for new ideas to germinate and, through the WP:BRD cycle, take a form suitable for successful presentation to community as a whole. It should be noted that, possibly due to some Wikipedians' desire to stop wikidrama at any costs, much criticism of Wikipedia has shifted off-wiki to forums such as Slashdot and Wikitruth. While any endeavor of Wikipedia's size is likely to draw criticism, it is not a good sign that outside sites are filling a void in systematic analysis and criticism of Wikipedia. A mature project should be able to handle and use internal dissension and criticism in beneficial ways. Indeed, every organization needs people who are willing to express a skeptical viewpoint, point out flaws and speak truth to power; otherwise, there is a potential for groupthink and the Abilene paradox to sabotage the organization's success. Accordingly, Wikipedia, and this WikiProject as well, should remain receptive to the constructive criticism.
Wikipedia faces some serious problems. As has been pointed out, our rates of article and contributor growth are slowing. To put it mildly, there is some question as to how well our processes are scaling to the increased size of this project. Large numbers of respected editors are storming off in disgust over incidents. It is not normal for this to happen in organizations on the scale in which it is happening here. Some observers believe that Wikipedia will eventually fail like a pyramid scheme, as the population of new people able and willing to contribute becomes largely depleted. Whether or not the situation is that dire, Wikipedia is not living up to its potential.
This project does not seek to be the be-all and end-all of Wikipedia reform. As this is a wiki, most change will continue to take place through good-faith edits and discussions elsewhere. And indeed, others may wish to establish parallel reform WikiProjects, to conduct research from a different angle; and this could be a good thing. We simply seek to analyze our problems more systematically than they have typically been, in hopes that will help better assess, and make a case for, suitable solutions. By testing hypotheses of what is wrong with Wikipedia, we can generate objective proof that will assist in formulating and supporting specific proposals for reform.
Exit interviews / attrition studyEdit
Many organizations have a relatively neutral party (e.g. an HR department) conduct exit interviews of departing employees to document why they are leaving. Many ex-Wikipedians have left messages explaining their departure. In a way, that they do so is a good sign, because it shows their continued interest in the encyclopedia and a desire that their views be taken to heart in improving the project. But it is not much good if we do not actually make use of this information to improve the encyclopedia. We should begin aggregating this information and also survey ex-users who have not left such explicit notices, in order to find out the root causes of the exodus.
Fix the system for implementing needed bug fixes and enhancementsEdit
Many bugs, such as the spelling suggestion feature, have been on hold for a long time. What is causing this? Are we short on labor? Do we need to recruit more volunteers willing to do bug fixes? Perhaps there are systemic problems? We should investigate what is going on.
In the case of the spelling suggestion, Wikipedia:PEREN#Search_should_detect_spelling_errors notes that there are already bug reports outstanding; see bug 974, bug 2486. Although these are currently disabled for performance reasons, it seems that as one of the most-visited sites in the world, we should be able to get this feature up and running at some point. There are many other long-unresolved bugs as well.