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Submissions/Wiki community best practices. Why are less people contributing?

From Wikimania 2010 • Gdańsk, Poland • July 9-11, 2010


This is an open submission for Wikimania 2010.

Title of the submission

Wiki community best practices. Why are fewer people contributing? (Especially as regards to en.wikipedia)

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)

Workshop or Presentation (Either can be made to work)

Author of the submission

Kim Bruning.

E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)

en:User:Kim Bruning

Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)


Personal homepage or blog

en:User:Kim Bruning

30-word contribution & benefits statement

Explanation of wiki best practices and why more people don't use them, followed by discussion on how to improve the situation.

Proposed time frame (1h or 2h or 4h)

1h (abbreviated) or 2h (more audience participation)

Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

The number of contributors to certain projects is dropping, and number of contributions is levelling off [1][2]. While people have many theories about why this is so, a simple application of occams razor and hanlon's razor shows that this is mostly due to the current communities no longer knowing how to use a wiki efficiently.

This presentation will discuss diverse wikis and wiki community concepts, starting at wardwiki and moving forwards towards today, showing how several key reforms impacted wiki usage and wiki efficiency. There will be a number of demonstration wiki's on hand to show these concepts in action. (depending on local network quality we might recruit some volunteers to help with this, or otherwise just run the wikis locally on a laptop).

Some things might surprise people:

  • Early wiki's had no talk pages, for instance; so had to rely on meatball:ThreadMode and then wiki:ReFactoring to meatball:DocumentMode. Some modern wiki's have started without talk pages too (such as http://tvtropes.org )
  • Originally, articles were not written in user space first.
  • The rules for No original Research, Verifiability, and Reliable sources are not part of the meta:founding issues.
  • Voting is (still) officially disallowed on en.wikipedia.
  • Several wiki-communities (including en.wikipedia) are actively hostile towards subject matter experts.
  • Administrators are not in charge of anything

You probably have a lot of questions:

  • So how did early wikis get anything done at all?
  • is working in main namespace really so much faster than userspace?
  • What policies are preventing new submissions, and what can be done about it?
  • If voting is disallowed, how does (did) one make decisions on en.wikipedia before?
  • If admins aren't in charge, who is?
  • In what ways are Subject matter Experts discouraged, and how can we change that, to get their input?

Several en.wikipedia policy documents are often misread. If there is time left, some of these policies can be discussed:

(presenter was maintainer of WP:Consensus, and wrote WP:BRD as supplement to that policy)

Quick Bio: My first edit to wikipedia was in 2001, and I've been a regular since 2003, admin since 2004. The admin bit was handed in in early 2005, but I still continues to do some admin activities and hold responsibilities to this day. (IRC-chanop on #wikipedia-en-admins , for instance.)

  • Helped with restoration of dispute resolution path with en:Wikipedia:Mediation_(2005) , including creation of Mediation cabal, which has trained several current mediation committee and arbitration committee members.
  • Helped set up the 5 pillars. (For history, see: [1] )

I've currently reduced my wikipedia activities, and this talk is probably one of the few opportunities for me to share what I've learned this past decade back to the community.



  1. http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/ChartsWikipediaEN.htm
  2. http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/ChartsWikipediaDE.htm
Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

People and Community

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

I'll certainly attend if submission is accepted (else I wouldn't be able to give a talk ;-)). I'll probably attend even if not, though.

Slides or further information (optional)

Presentation will be drawing material from:

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with four tildes. (~~~~).

  1. Gritzko 06:50, 8 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Jodi.a.schneider 19:01, 13 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  3. CaptainSwing 23:34, 16 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Arjunaraoc 10:59, 17 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Polimerek 12:43, 17 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  6. guillom 21:40, 17 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Headbomb 05:32, 18 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Drbug 14:08, 19 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  9. --Frank Schulenburg 23:10, 19 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Fuzheado 04:43, 20 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Sky Harbor 18:35, 21 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Essam Sharaf 12:37, 1 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Kocio 11:40, 2 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Cdani 12:16, 27 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Zack 03:22, 2 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Elya 20:29, 2 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Perohanych 18:52, 4 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Gustavocarra 13:49, 7 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]