Wikianswers

This is a proposal for a new Wikimedia sister project.
Wikianswers
Status of the proposal
Statusunder discussion
Details of the proposal
Project descriptionSimply put: a Wikipedia of Questions & Answers. Whereas Wikipedia offers an entity-centric window into knowledge, this project offers readers a solution to their "known unknowns" with concise, accurate and openly deliberated answers to the daily questions they ask themselves, from the trivial & factual to the most profound & ambiguous. Imagine if this data helped AI in the Q&A space to be aligned with what humans decided through a collaborative process like Wiki rather than disconnected from continuous human input.
Is it a multilingual wiki?Many language versions
Potential number of languagesMany languages
Technical requirements
New features to requireSee below

Project descriptionEdit

The goal of Wikianswers is to let more people get to the knowledge they care about faster. Wikianswers is a conceptual extension of Wikipedia and in alignment with other project like Wikidata & Abstract Wikipedia. In Wikianswers, people can create and maintain Wikipedia articles that aim to answer specific questions. People can also volunteer questions for which they want answers (i.e. create an empty article with just the question).

So far Wikipedia has had great success harnessing simple yet robust technologies and connecting like-minded individuals towards a unique repository of knowledge. These Wikipedia articles offer a valuable entry point for the curious and have become a mainstay of the web & search experience. The unique data it is producing has also had many unintended consequences, from fueling a flourishing research community to bootstrapping the development of a variety of product around the world (e.g. google knowledge panel, search engines, virtual assistants, etc.)

Yet where it helps the curious with no particular goal in mind, it suffers in specificity. I currently need to read/search a whole article on fish even if all I really wanted to know was "how did schools of fish evolve?". Or how many nuclear reactors are being built in the world in 2021? Are figs full of dead wasps? Does Canada have a deregulated electricity market? How many foreign students are there in the EU? Will I be aware during general anesthesia? Where does morality come from?

So many Questions!

And Questions are a foundational pillar to the ecosystem of knowledge.

This project grows a new environment of knowledge towards becoming the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge

Why Wiki & AI?

Both AI and an Editorial process need to coexist and feed off each other. Current AI systems face tremendous challenges with respect to hard questions on a variety of topic, e.g. morality, politically contentious topic, human relationship, etc. Right now, the responsibility of determining what an AI Assistants can & should say is left to Tech firms to decide on. In other words, what knowledge is acceptable for their platform and brands to support.

Imagine if the space of Q&A knowledge was instead reinforced by what humans decided through a collaborative process like Wiki. Rather than collecting individual opinions, it aimed to build aggregated answers that we collectively can discuss, continuously edit and get behind.

TimelineEdit

TBD

How to participateEdit

Visit the discussion page

  • Add a question/concern for us to ponder on
  • Weigh in on those topics with your experience

BackgroundEdit

Related projects and proposalsEdit

There have been a number of related initiatives within and outside of Wiki, showing both the interest and challenges of this proposal.

Wiki proposal

Question-centric knowledge websites

Virtual assistants

  • Alexa is crowdsourcing answers

Search enginesEdit

Our web ecosystem has evolved to have the search engine hold a central place. So much so that user ask fully formed question with the hope of a concise Featured Snippet as answer rather than a full document that needs to be read.

While highly successful and useful, there is conceptually no reason why a search engine (of documents) should be the gatekeeper of answers. There is also no accountability for the answer in this process; whether a snippet is adequate, valid, or complete in answering a question is weighted against the convenience of a single answer snippet.

Wiki can do better.

It can offer a platform for the open deliberation of many opinions towards a well rounded answer to things that indeed need more subtlety than 2 sentences.

Q&A platformsEdit

Asking your fellow human being for answers to your question is just as human as eating or being curious. Asking questions is a deeply ingrained psychological habit and an amazingly crucial thing to do to simply function in the world. A manifestation of this reality is the emergence of Q&A platforms such as (quora.com, answers.com, etc.) that enable individuals to ask questions and others to offer responses.

One could argue then why should Wikimedia engage in that space? What does it have to offer? Great question, here's how this project is thinking about it.

External platform

  • Are under financial pressure to monetize the platform. Ads will ultimately erode trust and overall experience.
  • The dynamic is that everyone can offer an opinion and people can evaluate the expertise of each in assessing whether its a trustworthy answer
  • Duplicated efforts; why so many platforms?

Wiki

  • Ads free. Wiki is the ecosystem of free knowledge.
  • Trustworthy by its process. Wiki builds knowledge as a source-backed consensus from the revision of many. Wiki doesn't claim to objective truth, but a revision process that converge towards a reality that many can agree on.

Machine learningEdit

This project also recognize the ML fields of question-answering systems and see in its future a relevant synergy.

There are so many questions that it's hard to imagine human can answer them all by themselves. It's reasonable to think that the process of growing a free and large repository Q&A can be assisted by AI systems in a virtuous cycle. For example. user-generated content could later be utilized to retrain consulted question-answering systems, resulting in continual improvement. By having the human constantly in the loop ensures that the answers respect the highest standards of our collective ideal.

Question-answering systemsEdit

For further information, see Question answering.

Question-answering systems are "systems that automatically answer questions posed by humans in a natural language."

Question-answering systems can each provide one or more answers for a question and each provided answer can be supported by one or more justifications.

Multiple question-answering systems could be consulted for answers to a question, e.g., based on the domains of the question.

Question-answering systems could answer encyclopedic questions with answers which include inline citations to, quotations from, and hyperlinks to Wikipedia content.

Question-answering systems could answer factual questions utilizing Wikidata content.

A recent and interesting development is a question-answering system which answers moral questions: https://delphi.allenai.org/ .

JustificationEdit

Justification is "a concept in epistemology used to describe beliefs that one has good reason for holding." "Loosely speaking, justification is the reason that someone holds a rationally admissible belief."

Theories of justification include: foundationalism, epistemic coherentism, infinitism, foundherentism, internalism, externalism, reformed epistemology, epistemic skepticism, evidentialism, and reliabilism.

Means of merging multiple answers and their justifications from multiple question-answering systems into human-readable wiki content should be devised.

Answers to questions should be capable of providing supporting justifications in the form of arguments. Arguments could refer to models of decision-making processes, e.g., indicating a contextual prioritization of some values or principles over others.

Answers to questions and their supporting justifications should be capable of providing supporting evidence and data.

Answers to questions and their supporting justifications should be capable of providing supporting facts.

User-experience discussionEdit

This section presents user-interface and user-experience discussion for purposes of visualizing the proposed website and its pages. This content is subject to change.

Front pageEdit

As envisioned, the front page includes a "Wikianswers" logo, a text-input search box, and hyperlinks to and possibly elements from collections of questions. Types of collections of questions include: new questions, hot/rising questions, popular/trending questions, administrator-selected questions, and algorithmically-prioritized questions (see: Technical discussion § Question prioritization).

Text-input search boxEdit

As discussed in Technical discussion § Question suggestion, while users type their questions, they can be presented with suggested questions. Users could opt to select a previously-asked, similar question or to finish entering their query.

As discussed in Technical discussion § Question paraphrasing and Technical discussion § Question transformation, if the user manually types their question, there may be an additional page to view as algorithms could search for paraphrases and transformations of the entered query to present the user with previously-asked questions and, perhaps, with text summaries of their answers. Users, in this case, could opt to continue to a previously-asked question or to open a new question.

Answers pagesEdit

As envisioned, each answers page can provide multiple answers and each answer can have multiple justifications attached to it.

As discussed in Technical discussion § Question categorization, in the event that a question is new to the system, the question can be algorithmically categorized. These categories are to be utilized when selecting which question-answering systems to consult.

Next, the user views content automatically-generated by one or more question-answering systems and has the opportunity to edit the content.

As discussed in Technical discussion § Ranking answers and justifications, for scenarios where there are many answers and/or many justifications, we can consider that algorithms can score, rank, and sort answers and their justifications and that user-interfaces could elide these while presenting hyperlinks to view more content.

As discussed in Technical discussion § Decision-making systems, answers can be visually decorated, e.g., with gavel symbols, if selected by an automated decision-making system as the best answer. These visual decorations could also serve as hyperlinks to explanations detailing the decision.

Editing contentEdit

A detailed description of content-editing processes depends on whether server-side document-processing tools, annotations, and related user-experience concepts are supported. These topics are discussed in Technical discussion § Computer-aided document authoring.

It should be possible for users to edit answers and their justifications individually, without having to open and edit a larger document context.

It should also be possible for users to add and then subsequently edit a new answer to a question or a new justification to an existing answer without having to open and edit a larger document context.

Technical discussionEdit

Technical topics and discussion pertaining to this project proposal are available here: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikianswers/Technical_discussion .

Proposed byEdit

Alternative namesEdit

  • Wikiquestions
  • Wikiqna

Domain namesEdit

  • To be determined

Mailing list linksEdit

People interestedEdit

  • sNappyML 13:40, 19 December 2021 (UTC)

CommentsEdit

  • ignoring that you are trying to make a ai that can answer all the worlds questions, how is this as wiki? --GTbot2007 (talk) 18:05, 16 December 2021 (UTC)
  • As envisioned, the described wiki platform has a homepage where users type their questions. If their question has already been asked, then the user goes to an existing wiki page. Otherwise, the question is transformed and categorized, and, based on its categories or domains, one or more question-answering AI are delegated to to provide content. This machine-generated content is one or more answers for the question, each answer explained and argued for. As each answers page is wiki, users can edit them to correct and to train the AI question-answering systems. -- AdamSobieski (talk) 18:45, 16 December 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the "train the AI question-answering systems" should be firmly grounded as a tool to assist contributor in providing source and rationale in their elaboration of an answer and not a reader facing system -- SebastienDery (talk) 17:49, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
  • The wiki comes from that these are human curated and continually revised answers. Putting aside what AI can do, whereas Wikipedia shares knowledge with a "entity centric" lens, this would be from the entry point of a specific interrogation -- SebastienDery (talk) 17:49, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
Really? a) It's humans, and b) if the question isn't an article, you can a) make the article with the answers or b) press a button to show you related questions (using the same code that autocorrect uses). Is what your asking a genuine question? Username142857 (talk) 11:34, 1 March 2022 (UTC)
  • Ah! I think this is less about building a "Search" capabilities and rather offering a novel entrypoint for knowledge creation and dissemination -- SebastienDery (talk) 18:00, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
  • Which existing website (q&a platform) is nearest to your vision of Wikianswers? I am asking for this, because I can't imagine how this website could look like. Matlin (talk) 20:36, 28 December 2021 (UTC)
  • Hopefully it will surpass previous efforts. To answer your broader question about visualizing the website and its various pages of content, I added a new section: § User-experience discussion. AdamSobieski (talk) 09:35, 29 December 2021 (UTC)
  • What a coincidence I was also thinking about bringing q&a to wiki :D It seems like as it is the proposal is taking a strong AI centric view on what the product and process should be; wdyt of "firmly grounding AI as a tool to assist contributor in providing source and rationale in their elaboration of an answer and not a reader facing system"? If it's okay with you i would make some edits to the proposal and make it more "human centric". -- SebastienDery (talk) 18:28, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
  • Thank you. Yes. Enhancing the human-centricity of the project proposal sounds good. Please take care with the existing document outline as the content contains some intradocument hyperlinks. Do you mean by "not a reader-facing system" that you are envisioning that AI systems and argument technology would be tools for computer-aided document authoring instead of producing initial content in response to users' questions?
  • I'll make sure to suggest incremental changes; if you feel its eventually taking too sharp of a turn we can always create an alternate project. -- SebastienDery (talk) 12:02, 3 January 2021 (PST)
  • I'm envisioning that the power of having this being a wiki (as opposed to a tech-owned virtual assistant or a for-profit website) is that's its written by humans, revised by humans, for humans. I think a simple Wikipedia-like format would do the trick where individual pages are its own question where an answer will evolve. Codified argumentation is often too strict and cumbersome to scale, I would be concerned if we tried to build new tech on that front; the simple edit mechanism of Wiki should be enough to record the evolution of an answer and it counter arguments. If we assume this simple premise, what are the tools we can build that would accelerate contributor? I can think of a few and this is where I see AI shine! -- SebastienDery (talk) 12:05, 3 January 2021 (PST)
  • Similar to how Wikipedia and Wikidata try to maintain some parity I think a version of this project would benefit from contributing to Wikidata. Think triplets like "X is_a_paraphrrase_of Y". -- SebastienDery (talk) 12:07, 3 January 2021 (PST)
  • Thanks for this. I added "Wikidata could also be of use for storing data with respect to questions and question paraphrases." to the proposal content. In these regards, we could look at Web schemas for questions and answers for ideas. AdamSobieski (talk) 07:20, 4 January 2022 (UTC)
  • I like that the original pitch tried to be very thorough and cover a lot of topic/ideas. As it is I would suggest that we boil down to the essential as one can easily get lost in the details of the original idea. What do you folks think? -- SebastienDery (talk) 15:07, 3 January 2021 (PST)
  • We should add to the Talk page Talk:Wikianswers
  • What do you think of moving the bulk of the technical ideas to the discussion page? I think it'll help us focus the essential concepts of this proposal --SebastienDery (talk)
  • There is also the option of creating a new subpage, e.g., https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikianswers/Technical_discussion , with its own wiki content and discussion area. My initial thoughts are that attention to technical detail distinguishes this proposal from previous wiki Q&A proposals. Also, I think that this proposal would benefit from reviewing the most recent successful project proposal, Abstract Wikipedia, in terms of its structure and content. Perhaps we could keep the technical content on the main proposal page for now and, at some point in the future, move it to a subpage hyperlinked to from the main page? What do you think? AdamSobieski (talk) 22:28, 4 January 2022 (UTC)
  • 100% agree on the subpage! great idea. I would be keen to move it sooner than later mostly for the reason that there's a lot of material and it feel overwhelming at first. The strategy I would adopt is "Convince me in the first 30 sec of my reading through and then I'll click and poke around if interested" -- SebastienDery (talk) 14:37, 4 January 2021 (PST)
  • Ok. I moved the technical discussion to a new subpage. What do you think about moving the user-experience discussion to its own subpage? What do you think about moving this comments section to the discussion page?
  • 100% agree on taking a leaf from Abstract Wikipedia -- SebastienDery (talk) 14:37, 4 January 2021 (PST)
  • I agree there is a need to distill what is the essence of the proposal and how/why Wiki should take it on. My intuition is that this battle will not be fought on the technology itself but rather how does it position Wiki in the knowledge space going forward. -- SebastienDery (talk) 14:37, 4 January 2021 (PST)
The project: My first was the no. But now, yes. ✍️ Dušan Kreheľ (talk) 17:51, 7 January 2022 (UTC)
Yes! I would LOVE a Wikianswers! Username142857 (talk) 11:34, 1 March 2022 (UTC)