Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Archive for July, 2011

What summer research looks like at the Wikimedia Foundation

The first month of the summer research program in the Wikimedia Foundation has passed, and we’d like to share a quick update on the continuing work of our eight researchers in the Community Department, as well as some snapshots of what it’s like to be here at the Foundation during their time with us.

As our announcement described, the Wikimedia Summer of Research is a relatively short but intensive study of the Wikipedia editor community. We’re using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods, from large scale measurement via tools such as Apache Hadoop, to rhetorical analysis of widely-used templates. Most of our research questions focus on editors who have made between one and 100 edits (i.e. newbies).

Though our work is still very much in progress, our public documentation can be seen on Meta. The two dozen sprints so far could all use comments and questions from fellow wiki researchers and community members. Think of them as a rough draft that needs your help in polishing.

Beyond the particulars of our first weeks of collaboration, we wanted to share a photographic look at interdisciplinary research in action at the Wikimedia Foundation this summer. The following snapshots are of our recent planning day. Enjoy!

Steven Walling, Wikimedia Fellow,
on behalf of the Community Department research group

WikiViz 2011: Visualizing the impact of Wikipedia

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Wikipedia, and its impressive growth in content, quality, diversity, and readership, the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym) and the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) are jointly launching WikiViz 2011 – a call for data/information visualization experts, computational journalists, data artists and data scientists to create the most insightful visualization of Wikipedia’s impact.

WikiViz 2011 is about visualizing the impact of Wikipedia using open data. We want to see the most effective, compelling and creative data-driven visualizations of how Wikipedia impacted the world with its content, culture and open collaboration model. Potential topics include: the imprint of Wikipedia on knowledge sharing and access to information; its impact on literacy and education, journalism and research; on the functioning of scientific and cultural organizations and businesses, as well as the daily life of individuals around the world. In addition, we want to see visualizations of areas of knowledge, geographical regions, organizations and people Wikipedia has not been able to reach or has impacted less than one would have expected. In summary, the main goal of this competition is to improve our understanding of how Wikipedia is affecting the world beyond the scope of its own community.


The WikiViz 2011 Awarding Ceremony will take place on October 4, at WikiSym 2011 main venue, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley campus (Mountain View, California). The ceremony will open with keynote speaker Jeff Heer (Stanford University), on the impact of emerging visualization techniques to understand open collaboration today.

Three finalist teams (1 winner, 2 runners-up) will be invited to present their work at WikiSym 2011, in Mountain View (California). Travel expenses and registration fees will be covered for one delegate per finalist team. The submissions from these three teams will be showcased at the WikiSym 2011 exhibit, presented during the WikiViz awards ceremony and featured by our Knowledge and Media Partners (Unidad Editorial, Periscopic, Information Aesthetics, and Flowing Data).

Furthermore, Spanish media group Unidad Editorial will run a voting process in September, among the visitors of El, (the largest digital newspaper in Spanish by readership worldwide), to select the “Public’s choice” visualization among the top 10 submissions received. The winner will be featured in the digital edition of El Mundo.


The finalists will be selected by a jury composed of world-class experts in data visualization and social computing:

How to participate

Please, refer to the WikiViz call for participation to learn more details about terms and conditions to participate, submission instructions, selection rules and evaluation criteria. Only entries based on open data and licensed under a Wikimedia Commons-compatible open license will be considered.

Important dates

  • June 29, 2011: Challenge call for submissions.
  • August 28, 2011: Submission deadline (extended).
  • September 12, 2011: Winner and finalist submissions announced.
  • October 4, 2011: WikiViz awards session, WikiSym 2011 (Mountain View, CA).


For any questions, comments or interest in supporting or collaborating with this challenge, please contact the co-organizers at:

You can also follow us on Twitter: @WikiViz (tag your tweets with #wikiviz11).


WikiViz 2011 is the second of two data challenges the Wikimedia Foundation is organizing this summer. If you are interesting in building predictive models of Wikipedia editor activity, check out the Wikipedia participation challenge


WikiSym Wikimedia Foundation

Media Sponsors


Knowledge Partners

infosthetics Periscopic

Positive feedback works for editing, say Wikipedia editors

“Our brains and our behavior are driven by feedback loops. Harness their power and change your life,” points out Wired magazine in its latest cover story on how feedback can be used to change human behavior. Similarly, data from the Wikipedia Editor Survey, April 2011, shows that feedback from other editors – especially positive feedback – encourages more editing. According to the survey, Wikipedia editors reported that positive interactions and experiences with others made them more likely to edit Wikipedia, and, as a direct corollary, negative interactions and experiences made them less likely to edit Wikipedia.

The majority of editors pointed out that positive interactions (having grammatical errors fixed by another editor, receiving compliments and barnstars from fellow editors, and experiencing “their” article make it to front page) made them more likely to edit Wikipedia.

Percent who believe that following interactions make them more likely to edit

While positive interactions create positive feedback loops that encourage editing, negative interactions reduce the likelihood of editing. These interactions include the perception of being looked down upon by other editors, as well as seeing edits reverted without any explanation.


Percent who believe that following interactions make them less likely to edit

Fortunately for our community, every listed action leading to a negative feedback loop is an easy fix: treat other editors with respect and encourage their growth as a contributor, and every negative trend we see here could literally disappear. So please, Wikipedia editors, continue doing the good work and providing positive feedback to your fellow editors. The successful growth of our project depends on it.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the fourth in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)


Wikimedia engineering June 2011 report

Major news this month include:

  • the network setup in our new datacenter, that opened the way to new server setup and backups;
  • progress on features to encourage and facilitate participation, like the Visual editor groundwork, and the WikiLove button;
  • productive community testing on our now mobile front-end and the Kiwix download manager;
  • the release of MediaWiki 1.17.0;
  • the first commits by our Summer of Code students;
  • major progress on our code review backlog.

Note: This month, we’re trying out a slightly modified format for the report. Hover your mouse over the green question marks ([?]) to see a description of a particular project.