Jul 16, 2009

Where Wikipedia doesn't work

I have to wonder why Wikipedia community has so much trouble researching itself. Sure, we love to talk about ourselves - we have blogs, newspapers (Signpost), podcasts... but when it comes to serious research, the initatives fail one after another.

Wikidemia, Wikipediology, Wikimedia Research Network - all dead. Even the Wikipedia in academic studies is doing poorly if I am not there to update it - you'd think that increasingly more numerous scholars studying Wikipedia would at the very least bother to advertise their work - apparently not :(

It took us years to get a side wide survey in 2008 - and even it had to be done by outside scholars, with all the transparency and communication problems that implies (there were some rumors about making data set publicly available, but if there has been any confirmation, I am unable to find it). The community survey project, the General User Survey, was never consulted, and there are no signs that we will have a 2009 (or 2010) survey.

There are signs of hope. The usability project looks promising. The Foundation has recently hired a Research Analyst. Yet...

My general impression of this is CHAOS. Things are being done on many foras. There is the usability project, there is the Wiki-research-l listerv, there is Wikidemia, there is the Wikimedia Research Network, things are annouced in Foundation blog or via press releases, there are initatives of individual non-English chapters (for example, non-English surveys of users...).

Some time ago I tried categorizing research pages on Wikipedia and on meta, but it's a loosing fight, particularly since there is no central place to announce them (research is being done and discussed everywhere possible, from Wikipedia subuserpages to people's own blogs). There is little to communication between existing foras, which have different members are differ in openness and focus, old foras are being abandoned due to little activity, new ones are founded by people who don't know about the old ones, research efforts are likely duplicated in various places, and the cycle goes on... it's a chaos, and pretty messy one at that :(

I hope that the new Research Analyst (whoever s/he is) will start by bringing an order to this, and creating some central forum for all of those initiatives, preferably based on a wiki somewhere.

PS. If you know of Wikipedia research initiatives / foras I missed, do let me know. I wonder how big is the iceberg that I a tip of I am ranting about :)

1 comment:

Gible Fog said...

There's a bunch of research going on at the University of Waikato, not strictly about Wikipedia but rather about the less than obvious information that Wikipedia holds.

a google site search

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