Barriers to Entry

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Why do we care if people do not participate?

  • Burnout of the major contributors: Succession planning; the more casual participants, the more active, dedicated participants, less work for existing top contributors.
  • We want new leadership
  • More people, mopre diverse people means more ideas for solutions
  • Authors/editors do not represent the readers

What's keeping others from getting involved?

  • the community is already too big - can't get a feel for the community
  • no drive to share
  • affraid of getting sucked in
  • lack of feedback
  • confusion between wikis wikipedia
  • the name "wiki"; branding
  • wanting permission (feeling the need for permission)
  • not wanting to step on toes
  • needing to be convinced of the wiki way
  • unpaid work
  • unpaid vs paid work conflict
  • stopping their contributions when they don't get the recognition they expect
  • users are children
  • confusion with other software (ex: facebook, twitter)
  • privacy, safety, security concerns
  • good improvements to software are not always used
  • licensing, (c) of content (both understanding the (c) on otehr's content, and how their work will be (c)'ed).
  • too many shock levels

Possible paths towards a solution

  • On some sites, people can become "top contributor" quickly, so reward is not long in coming
  • Talk to users about the 90%-9%-1% categories of users, "which one are you? which to you want to be?"
  • Use the "related changes" feature to improve the sense of community
  • Show the activity stream, so users can see that the site is alive, that others are doing edits, too, that they're not alone
  • "Step" people in - instead of dumping all of wiki at them at once, sneak them in, one step at a time
  • Leave bad/inaccurate information on the site, to trigger people's reflex to fix it
  • Use a name such as "peer production" instead of wiki
  • Make it easier to navigate the copyright issue: for example, wikiHow takes you to a collection of Creative Commons images
  • Use a reputation system (ties in with friday's session on open companies)
  • A "community supported nagging system" - encourage users who've contributed just a little to contribute more or keep their contributions fresh.

What's in it for the author/editor?

  • Instigate great things ("Someone will run with my idea!")
  • Learning new things (technology, writing skills; access to training such as wikiHow's writing coach)
    • Not mentioned specifically during the talk, but you learn a lot about X by writing about it, and by the edits others will make, too)
  • Feeling useful
  • Inspiration to write
  • Use existing skills
  • New experiences
  • Being heard
  • Support, feedback, motivation from the community
  • Making the world a better place (like picking up litter; gardening/growing food for the mind)
  • Paying back, paying forward
  • Shared memory, global mind
  • Connectedness, belonging, breaking the loneliness

How we can take potential contributors through the "shock steps" by having them take baby steps

  • Get them to realize the wiki is useful and important
    • Make the wiki the only place to get information ("The party? yeah, it's on the wiki")
  • When getting requests for some information, answer with, "hey, I'll go make a wiki page about that".
    • Include credit for the idea to who brought it ("Mark suggested I write this page")
  • Send link to the page (email "we changed the location of the party - see wiki" with link)
  • Invite comments
    • But make it so the comments aren't archived; possibly anonymous, so the potential contributor doesn't feel their comment is a "big commitment")
  • Invite them to fix a small, specific mistake (a date, spelling)
  • Encourage them to add, rather than edit, with new content, or new angles/
  • Give them permission (over and over).
    • But in the end, it's much easier to evaluate someone's contribution once they've made it, so possibly, go towards more of a "why don't you do it, and I'll let you know"
  • Practice page (calling it "sandbox" may work for some users, but it's probably not obvious to many that it means practice page)
  • Unpublished "suggested changes", so they can make their change, but the changes don't go live until someone else looks at them
  • Encourage them to work on their personal user/"about me" page
  • Get them to look at the Recent Changes to "feel the community"
  • Recommend that look at the "articles requested"/red link lists/stubs. The "not perfect" article they may write (or they're afraid they would write) is better than no article at all, and there are no toes to trample.
  • Get them to request articles
  • Make sure their contribution is recognised, appreciated, etc. Add to their work so they know they're not working in a a vaccum, and so they can see that it's okay when someone edits "your" article
  • Use the reputation system ("like", new article boost, etc)


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