As recently announced on this blog and in the Signpost, we’re planning to roll out a new experimental tool to capture article feedback from readers, as part of the Public Policy Initiative. It will be an opportunity for the user community to directly participate in the assessment and development of the feature if the test proves successful.

The “Article Feedback Tool” will allow any reader of an article to quickly and easily assess the sourcing, completeness, neutrality, and readability of a Wikipedia article on a five-point scale. In addition to being a way to measure article quality for the Public Policy Initiative, we hope the Article Feedback Tool could be a way to increase reader engagement by seeking feedback from readers on how they view the article. The tool should also give editors an easy way to see where an article needs improvement.

Improving article quality has long been a major topic for the Wikimedia community. However, scalable and reliable tools are few and far between to address this issue. The Public Policy Initiative provides a useful framework to run a pilot for quality assessment of articles. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of public policy-related articles. Comparing standard community self-assessment processes, opinion sought from external experts, and article feedback from readers (with the test tool) will help to provide the community with a better understanding of the strengths and limits of each system.

We hope that the Public Policy project will provide us with feedback that will help in the future development of the feature. From this perspective, the goal of this pilot is to provide the community with a “draft” version of the tool. We want to make deeper efforts to include the community of users in helping build new features, so we hope to assess this “draft” together and “edit it” for improvements. If the test tool is considered useful, the Wikimedia Foundation will allocate resources to improve it with your help and build a stable feature from it. In general, the pilot of this tool also reflects a shift in the Wikimedia Foundation’s development processes toward more systematic and iterative experimentation and trials with new technology, in collaboration with the community and other stakeholders. In the future, we plan to formalize this approach with an official “Wikimedia Labs” entity.

We’re still trying to figure out how to best accomplish this collaboration between makers and users of this tool. For now, we’re considering a “task force” (similar to those used in the Strategy project) comprised of users interested in assessing the feature’s strengths and weaknesses, working together with developers and designers. We’re open to other suggestions.

The experimental feature is planned for deployment on September 22 on a handful of pages with limited visibility. We will give you another update at launch. In the meantime, you’re warmly invited to look at the preliminary design and join the workgroup to participate in the evaluation of the tool.


— Alolita Sharma
Features Engineering Program Manager, Wikimedia Foundation