Wikimedia is the organization behind Wikipedia. The online encyclopedie is written by a community of volunteers. Any Wikimedians or Wikipedians around here? How to keep Wikipedia communities thriving?
What specific challenges are you facing @Ad_Huikeshoven? Are you seeing decreased participation?
@HAWK thanks for the reply!
Wikimedia Nederland held a survey last year (see the report.
Editors, and particularly new editors, are confronted with a challenging and confusing working environment. The environment is challenging because editors work together in a competitive online environment with people who are more, and in some cases less, committed or experienced. It is confusing because the communications are fragmented, because they probably fail to reach everyone at all times and because it is unclear what the rules are. This results in an aboveaverage number of conflicts and a working atmosphere that is regularly felt to be unpleasant. Rules and guidelines can help in this respect, but they will not necessarily improve the atmosphere. A change in the mentality of all editors, moderation and clear communications will contribute to a better working atmosphere, the recruitment and retention of new editors and more staffing diversity.
New editors A large majority believe that the constant inflow of new editors is important and think that new editors should be recruited. In order to ensure that new editors do not give up quickly, they should be welcomed and supported
Diversity To a greater or lesser extent, everyone understands that there are drawbacks to the lack of diversity among the editors. The atmosphere at Wikipedia is mentioned most often as the cause, and women refer to this issue much more often than men.
Working atmosphere Opinions were divided about the working atmosphere on the Dutch Wikipedia. More editors are dissatisfied than satisfied. The atmosphere was described as argumentative and suspicious but also as constructive relatively frequently. The combination of these three features is both positive and negative. Positive in the sense of: challenging one another and keeping each other on our toes; negative in the sense of: conservative and stubborn. The atmosphere was described as aggressive just as often as it was described as constructive; in combination with argumentative and suspicious, this is exclusively negative. A large group of editors have been approached on occasion on the Dutch Wikipedia in ways that they found inappropriate; a small group admit themselves that they have acted inappropriately: this finding can be interpreted in several ways.
Conflicts and conflict resolution The editors feel that the number of conflicts is high; two in five editors stated that they had been involved in a situation that felt like a conflict in the previous six months. If we compare this frequency with the rate of conflicts in an average organisation, it is indeed high. That is, in itself, not surprising since these are situations in which employees are dealing with one another in person. Opinions were divided about conflict resolution. There were more editors who said that conflicts were sometimes or never/almost never resolved satisfactorily than editors who said that conflict resolution was usually or always good. However, during resolution, there is probably always one party who is less satisfied than the other. That also emerged from the survey. Another striking finding was that a fairly large group is not aware of the number of conflicts and/or how they are resolved. Egos and stubbornness play a major role as the cause of conflicts. Rules/guidelines and moderation by trained officers are often proposed as the solution.
Social interaction Consultations between the editors are fragmented between numerous channels and they mainly take place through discussion pages. The editors only meet one another to a limited extent in person or online outside the Wikipedia environment. Furthermore, they make only limited use of Wikimedia mailing lists, blogs, newsletters or announcement pages, or of events organised by Wikimedia in the Netherlands or elsewhere.
Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland A large majority know about Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland and approximately a quarter of that group are actually members of the association at present. In general, people are satisfied with the work done by the association and the nature of that work.
@Ad_Huikeshoven: start with getting your volunteers act in a normal way, so new volunteers don’t get their posts edited or even removed because some old-school moderator thinks the article is not good enough. I quit posting and editing on wikipedia just because of this. /rant
You mention that a lot of this dissent (which seems to be the main issue) is caused by a lack of clarity around the rules. It would seem that clarification of those would be a good first step.
The change in culture to one that is more healthy would need to follow.
Does anyone else have experience with a community suffering from dissension and conflict?
(@Ad_Huikeshoven I would recommend changing the title of your post slightly to reflect the nature of this discussion. You might draw in further interested parties).
@Ivan_Kulis might have some interesting insight to share here. He specialises in organisational collaboration and change management.