User talk:Aschmidt/2014

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Upcoming IdeaLab Events: IEG Proposal ClinicsEdit

Hello, Aschmidt! We've added Events to IdeaLab, and you're invited :)

Upcoming events focus on turning ideas into Individual Engagement Grant proposals before the March 31 deadline. Need help or have questions about IEG? Join us at a Hangout:

  • Thursday, 13 March 2014, 1600 UTC
  • Wednesday, 19 March 2014, 1700 UTC
  • Saturday, 29 March 2014, 1700 UTC

Hope to see you there!

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Don't break the communityEdit

Hello, your recent posts to wikitech-l had a gist of usefulness that was worth capturing, though I'm not entirely sure I agree with the point. I tried to copy and refactor them on a wiki page, see above for the (obviously imperfect) result.

Relatedly: I see you subscribed Wiki Research Ideas/Volunteers. As part of Research:The sudden decline of Italian Wikipedia, I'm brainstorming a lot and comparing the 2013 trends to the other Wikipedias: so far I didn't find any comparable one, but I think and may be the most similar though from very different starting points. I have a hard time makings sense of, which may have had a huge drop of editors (from 7k to 6k 5+/m editors) or not; something happened in the central months of 2013 to editors with 5, 10 or 100 edits per month but I have no idea what or why. --Nemo 09:36, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Nemo, thanks for compiling the essay. I have copied the text of my three postings as a full quote to a page in my user namespace, and I've added a note to the essay page leading to the full quote.
I appreciate your research into the causes of the decline on Wikipedia language versions. We are also rather worried about that on German Wikipedia, as you can see from recent articles and related discussions on the Kurier.[1][2]
As to the summer of 2013, there was a sharp drop in activity by many active editors on German Wikipedia which was related to a dispute between Wikimedia Deutschland and the community about a project with German public broadcaster ZDF the community dissuaded the chapter to maintain, to no avail. This was about the ZDF Faktencheck.[3][4][5][6] A lot of editors quit WMDE or even became inactive. Apart from that I would like to draw your attention to some seriuos doubts we have about the official Wikimedia statistics. Erik Zachte has just announced on his blog that he found some errors in his script with regard to IPv4/IPv6 addresses, analysing the server dumps. However, apart from that the statistics are not plausible, as user:syrcro has just pointed out.[7] I wouldn't be surprised if the real decline in contributions would be even bigger than we can see from the official numbers published so far. What's more, there is no independent statistics available. We only have the numbers the WMF provides us with, and after all, every statistics is "political", in s sense. If you find new evidence, would you please let me know.--Aschmidt (talk) 01:31, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your reply. I'm very well aware of the ZDF controversy but I had not thought of relating it to those trends, especially as the highest classes of editors were not the most affected. I'll give another look, do you have ideas on how to verify the causation you propose?
As for WikiStats, the IPv6 error in question is minimal for the numbers I'm dealing with; in general, Erik Zachte is very serious about checking and correcting the reports of inaccuracy he receives and very open when an error is found. The metrics definitions are certainly "political", but WikiStats exposes so much data that one can read as one prefers, as opposed to topical research projects on Meta which offer one side at a time.
When WikiStats numbers are dubious, often some Toolserver queries can be used for a sanity check. In worst case one has to use the dumps but all their data is public (unlike some other researchers who use "secret" data). You could even run a fork of WikiStats with your own criteria if you wanted, as I did for Anyway, I'll give a look to those reports, is Erik Zachte aware of them? --Nemo 08:38, 8 June 2014 (UTC) P.s.: Update, WikiStats confirmed correct.
Thank you for looking into the statistics, Nemo. Even if such scripts are published, it is usually the same problem as with free software: Everyone may study the source code, but who will really be able to find a bug? :-/
Of course, there was another event last summer that really moved the community, viz. the RfC against VisualEditor. It was by far the RfC with the highest turnout for years. We had never expected to reach that many editors to decline the introduction of VE on dewiki over the weekend from late Saturday evening until Monday morning. 458 of 524 voted against (typically, some 150 editors take part in an RfC). This was due to massive indignation at the way we were treated by the WMF. Another RfC to allow any new MediaWiki software only after prior consent by the community failed because it did not reach the necessary two-thirds majority (only 182 votes in all).
I presume that the mood in the core community is passed on unconsciuosly to new editors and to those editing only occasionally. You feel and realise that there is "something wrong" in a project from remarks by other users, from the tone when you are addressed and so on. It will make them feel uneasy and make them go away soon.--Aschmidt (talk) 13:30, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Sure, I know the story of VE. I can't tell the exact consequences or the way ahead, but I know that most editors don't care at all about what the WMF or anyone has to say. As a chapter volunteer I have a thick skin because since 2008 or so the WMF has as its full time job to make me and us all feel miserable for volunteering our time and despite all their attempts to demoralise volunteers they've rarely succeeded. --Nemo 21:33, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
But the WMF's time has come by now. We have grown older, and any project, just as individuals, has a biography and a life cycle. It is born, it matures, it comes of age, and finally it comes to an end. On the one hand, there are the numbers on, and then, there is the story behind those numbers. People. Human beings who spend their life editing Wikimedia projects. As far as the core community is concerned, it's several hours per day for each and every one of them.
I'm interested in the bigger picture: It may have many causes that people stop editing Wikipedia, be it that they turn to something else, or be it that they are exhausted or frustrated by whoever or whatever. Now, at the same time, the influx of new editors decreases, too. It is my impression that we have failed to pass on the torch to the next generation. Wikipedia has remained infertile. As a result from this, Wikipedia will not grow any more, but neither will it stay the same because a wiki is a dynamic system which needs to be kept going, otherwise its content will become out of date or it will be vandalised, or it becomes less attractive, anyway. However, the party seems to be over.
What's more, readers also turn away from Wikipedia. The intro to articles as displayed in Google Knowledge Graph is enough to them. The rise in mobile clients makes the internet even more a passive experience. So, again, fewer of them are prone to become editors. But most of all, the majority of them do not see Wikipedia as a project for producing content. They think of it in terms of the reader only, and they are in no way interested in becoming editors. And then, also last summer, the NSA scandal drove people massively away from U.S. cloud hosters. Awareness about data-protection laws increased, and Wikimedia is one of those hosters displaying your IP address with each edit. So, from this point of view, the party seems to be over, too.
But, after all, we can only guess about all that. And that's mainly due to the fact that no one has ever done research into what makes a Wikipedian. That's what you cannot see in the numbers. I am sure that all this technical stuff the WMF focuses on will not be a solution to the lack in editors because being an editor is a way of life, it's not just a habit, but an attitude, and you can't bring this about by changing the technology of MediaWiki. You have to put people in the first place of your strategy because that's where it all starts. There's one thing for sure: If the party is over, there is nothing you can do to make this change. This is why I come to the conclusion that the constant stress we receive from San Francisco in any case will make the situation even worse. Remember the Titanic. Even if the orchestra is still playing does not mean that the ship's not sinking. --Aschmidt (talk) 23:21, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Or rather, even if the captain is still in charge it doesn't mean that he can control the ship: it's just his job to pretend he can, till he sinks as well. SF focuses on technical stuff because that's what you can do from a SF org, otherwise they'd have no reason to exist.
I don't see anyone in the world willing and able to really understand the full depth of the complex social dynamics of our projects from outside. So, some community members are probably going to list and "hunt" the editors who disappeared to directly ask them what happened: who knows, maybe that will work. In the end, it's our responsibility to keep the project going, not some entity's. --Nemo 21:17, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
The Wikimedia Foundation about itself in 2009
The latter is right, of course. If we want WP to continue we cannot simply rely on the Wikimedia organisations to fix the mess all projects are in by now.
But as to the role SF plays, they had a choice. It was Sue Gardner's decision to narrow the focus to the technical side of things and, e.g., to stop political lobbying as in the case against SOPA. She thought of Wikipedia as a huge, really popular website and nothing else. Not only now, but as early as 2009, see the PR video on Commons. I was against this change because, as I put it at the time, it will finally make Wikimedia just another computing centre somewhere with an bureau in the Bay area. But that's what it's become by now, with a software developer and former PR expert superseding Sue, as was requested. So, the question that remains after that really is what we as communities make of it.
I'm looking forward to your findings, Nemo.--Aschmidt (talk) 22:25, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

Superprotect letter updateEdit

Hi Aschmidt,

Along with more hundreds of others, you recently signed Letter to Wikimedia Foundation: Superprotect and Media Viewer, which I wrote.

Today, we have 562 signatures here on Meta, and another 61 on, for a total of 623 signatures. Volunteers have fully translated it into 16 languages, and begun other translations. This far exceeds my most optimistic hopes about how many might sign the letter -- I would have been pleased to gain 200 siguatures -- but new signatures continue to come.

I believe this is a significant moment for Wikimedia and Wikipedia. Very rarely have I seen large numbers of people from multiple language and project communities speak with a unified voice. As I understand it, we are unified in a desire for the Wikimedia Foundation to respect -- in actions, in addition to words -- the will of the community who has built the Wikimedia projects for the benefit of all humanity. I strongly believe it is possible to innovate and improve our software tools, together with the Wikimedia Foundation. But substantial changes are necessary in order for us to work together smoothly and productively. I believe this letter identifies important actions that will strongly support those changes.

Have you been discussing these issues in your local community? If so, I think we would all appreciate an update (on the letter's talk page) about how those discussions have gone, and what people are saying. If not, please be bold and start a discussoin on your Village Pump, or in any other venue your project uses -- and then leave a summary of what kind of response you get on the letter's talk page.

Finally, what do you think is the right time, and the right way, to deliver this letter? We could set a date, or establish a threshold of signatures. I have some ideas, but am open to suggestions.

Thank you for your engagement on this issue, and please stay in touch. -Pete F (talk) 18:12, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

VE newsletterEdit

Hi there, here's a suggestion based on your subscriptions. If you want to receive the next VE newsletters in German, you might want to change the target of your page to de.wp here. (If you're fine with getting it in English instead, I suggest removing your name entirely, because you already receive the en.wp version; if you're not interested in the English version, remove your name from en.wp.) :) Best, --Elitre (WMF) (talk) 12:59, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your suggestion, Elitre (WMF)! I've removed my talk page from the global VE newsletter list because the English versions is enough for me.--Aschmidt (talk) 22:59, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
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