Talk:Submissions/Flagged revisions study results

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

The "uncertainty principle" of wikis!

Interesting! I just read the abstract of this presentation and thought to give an opinion, and link to another presentation. Although the application itself (“Flagged revisions”) look interesting at first sight, i am afraid that there is no way to give a reasonable yes or no answer to the question: "Does “Flagged revisions” prevent/discourage anonymous users from editing? Does it decrease the number of people registering for a new account?"

There is simply no way to know the answer in any definitive manner. Logical reasoning would assure not only that there is no means by which we can know what the social/psychological reaction of the anonymous participant is, but also, that we do know with certainty that the restrictive and preventive application is potentially harmful in those terms, and also in terms of delaying constructive and valid content. Thus, both process and content are subjected to conditioning, that of reviewing and approval. Further analysis would suggest that, along with our uncertainty of the consequence, the regulatory procedure of such an application might be harmful beyond our ability to detect it.

At the same time, the only benifit we get from this application is that the presented articles will never show vandalism in them; but this also means that registered/authenticated users will have to carry upon themselves the task of checking every article or entry in the wiki at a specific rate or regularity. This is in fact a tremendous task. For, in open wikis, the appearance of vandalized pages is itself a reason to fix vandalism, sometimes even by anonymous users. Thus, making counter-vandalism as much spontaneous and non-centralized as vandalism itself, helps create a natural balance between vandalism and counter-vandalism, without having to necessarily add to the tasks of registered/authenticated users.

Further, the factor of "immediacy" must not be undermined in any wiki: both on the practical level (in terms of adding and modifying content), and the level of the psychological experience of users. The idea that whatever you contribute, will take place and be real now, is very significant in the whole experience.

Finally, i think preventing unregistered users from full participation must only be based on grounds of necessity (i.e. when the input of vandals is a lot more than that of constructive contributors) rather than potentiality of improvement, for the reasons i mentioned above. Also, regulatory and restrictive procedures and policies should not be applied unless also by practical necessity, or if their leading to improvement does not at the same time involve a possibility of an undetectable harmfulness and regression.

Exactly problematic issues like these, among others, would be the subject of my presentation The Wiki as an Organism. :)

Thank you, Meeso 01:37, 19 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for your comments, Meeso. As I said at the end of the Q/A, I can give my perspective from a quantitative point of view. In this sense, I think that the trends in the evolution of editorial activity over time, and the trends in the number of new users registering for an account (possibly broken down by number of edits they make subsequently) could spot some light to answer these questions. My previous experience indicates so, though some other factor may also affect the global scenario. I agree in that the answers may not be definitive, but as far as the effort dynamics of the community is concerned, if we can see that, for instance, certain decision doubled the number of new users registered in a given month, and that growth happens at the same time as the moment at which the decision was taken... well, it would be really odd that both phenomena were not correlated at all.
Macro-level statistics about the community can provide some general inferences about the behavioral patterns exhibited by the community, but by now means will be able to give you insights about the inner motivations (or causes of discourage, if any) of authors, nor about their conscious feeling about the value of their time in the project. For that, the only one way is to merge these data with qualitative surveys. GlimmerPhoenix 23:02, 10 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]