Submissions/Reflect: A Tool for Supporting Reflection and Active Listening

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010
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This is an open submission for Wikimania 2010.

Title of the submission
Reflect: A Tool for Discussion Summarization and Active Listening
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Travis Kriplean, Jonathan T. Morgan (Presenting Author), Lance Bennett, Alan Borning and Deen Freelon, Michael Toomim
E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences),
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
University of Washington
Personal homepage or blog
Project homepage: [1]
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

Wiki software has proven to be a powerful tool for collaborative content creation and refinement. However, wiki pages are less than ideal forums for hosting the threaded discussions that support this collaborative process. In addition to the technical challenges of conducting a threaded discussion in a wiki environment, the length and open-ended nature of many discussions creates sensemaking challenges for readers who want to come up to speed on a discussion currently in progress. The lack of affordances for sensemaking in these discussions can also have consequences for deliberative quality and productivity. Without a concise, persistent representation of the topics under discussion, the issues currently on the table, and the arguments already advanced by various stakeholders, Wiki-based discussions can lapse into lengthy monologues, shouting matches and (in some cases) edit wars.

In this talk, we present Reflect. Reflect is a lightweight tool for supporting reflection, active listening and the distillation of key points in lengthy deliberative discussions. Reflect introduces a second column into threaded forums. The second column contains bulleted summary points about what each respective commenter was trying to say. Anyone is able to add these summary bullet points. In this way, Reflect enables users to pull out the key ideas from other participants’ discussion posts. Moreover, Reflect encourages people to restate in their own words what someone else was trying to say before engaging with them, and provides explicit space in the design to do so. In some cases, this may help discussions from degenerating because of misunderstandings, rather than deep-seated disagreements. Each summary is linked to its author and to the text it summarizes, inviting all participants to verify the accuracy, neutrality and quality of the summary. Post authors can easily respond to summaries, such that they can indicate whether someone has accurately summarized a point they were making.

We believe that Reflect can offer distinct and complementary advantages for both page and project-level consensus-seeking activities. On the lengthy, open-ended discussions characteristic of Wikipedia talk pages, Reflect summaries might allow new arrivals to get up to speed quickly on the range of issues, positions and suggestions that have been raised already, so that they can confidently join in as productive participants. On pages devoted to project level discussions where participants are tasked with coming to a final decision, Reflect summaries could not only facilitate the discussion itself but also serve as documentary evidence of the deliberative process that led to the final outcome.

Reflect is currently available as a Wordpress Plugin, but we hope to eventually make Reflect available on a variety of platforms. We’ve begun initial discussions to integrate a version of Reflect into the MediaWiki extension LiquidThreads. Reflect will be customized to address particular challenges and affordances of project-level deliberations in WikiMedia communities. In this presentation we will present a full-featured interactive prototype of Reflect 1.0, and solicit feedback on the advantages, drawbacks and overall utility of Reflect as a tool for improving discussion quality in Wikimedia projects.

This work emerges from the same group that presented at last year’s WikiMania in Buenos Aires. (See “Tools for Supporting Deliberation on Project-Level Issues” [2]).

More information about Reflect, including interactive demos, are available here: [3]

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)
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Slides or further information (optional)

Reflect MorganWikimania2010.pdf

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  1. guillom 21:45, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
  2. Eekim 17:19, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
  3. Kocio 00:50, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
  4. Werdna 08:02, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
  5. --Phauly 14:13, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
  6. Natkabrown 18:31, 4 July 2010 (UTC)