James,

A) Should we value editors with many edits more than editors with just a few? 
Your counter-example (editors who write a long article in one go offline) is 
canonical, and probably uncontested, so you're stating the obvious, no need to 
use a loaded term like 'offensive', and to spell it out as if WereSpielChequers 
wouldn't know this, or would disagree. I use the term 'core community' loosely 
myself from time to time, knowing full well that any precise definition would 
be incomplete. Incidentally I think 'very active editors' is a misnomer (which 
I started) for the same reason. People can be very active editors offline per 
the same example. [1]

B) Agreed, we should be careful to interpret a trend (-change) in a very basic 
metric, or what that metric actually tells us anyway. But again I think you're 
stating the obvious. The only thing that surprises me is your timing: I never 
heard you utter these nuances so much when veteran foundation staff and other 
core community members overemphasized (in my opinion) countering editor decline 
as a primary target (I tried to nuance this all along as much as I could). 

So yes, 'editor count' is overly simplistic, and so is 'inflation rate', 'gross 
domestic product', 'population count'. All of these are overly simplistic, and 
without further breakdown don't tell us much. Yet these simplistic metrics 
survive, because everyone understands them, and much less people want to know 
the underlying complexity (especially decision makers), and importantly: they 
are collected consistently for a long time (more refined numbers suffer more 
easily from definition creep, or being en vogue temporarily). The most refined 
metrics are often from one-off studies, valuable but not gaining enough 
momentum for repeated collection.  

I need to explain my statement which was re-quoted in this thread: "The growth 
seems real to me". I first and formost meant "To my best knowledge the numbers 
are reliable". I expect no bug or other artefact (WereSpielChequers asked me 
about that specifically). The code is time-tested and stable. There is always a 
change that a hidden bug surfaces in a changing environment, but I see no sign 
for that. So at face value the growth is real then, more editors pass the 
threshold. But giving meaning to that figure is a process of never ending 
dialectic.   

Lastly, a more philosophical comment: shouldn't we rejoice if a partially 
understood metric seems to give ground for optimism. IMO we should, as joy (and 
fear) provide the incentive to dig deeper. Our news agencies make a living of 
incomplete news. Any scientific knowledge is temporary at best, until 
falsified. I rejoiced when I read that traffic accidents decreased in last 5 
years.Then someone countered that road traffic declined overall due to dip in 
economy, so the effect may be temporary and not systemic, so I lost some joy. 
But I gained from the exchange.

Cheers,
Erik 

--

Notes/details:

[1] I would be interested to see how often this happens: writing an article 
offline in one go. My hunch is less and less, as more and more people get 
speedier access, and site submits happen faster, thus reducing 'involutarily 
offline editing'. 

[2] Specifics on the examples you gave: 

I find some of your examples in your first mail a bit far-fetched. Very active 
editors reversing each other ad infinitum, hmm, when was the last time you 
actually saw this? And (spam)bots are excluded from out editor counts anyway as 
much as feasible. In general edits on wp:en grew in 2015, while reverts stayed 
more or less the same: https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/PlotEditsEN.png 

In your second response you name some positive reasons why our editor count 
could be growing, and they seem mostly plausible to me. But here is also room 
for nuance: 'Faster load/save times make the site feel more responsive and so 
people can do more edits in the same amount of time.' would be high on my list 
to investigate, and maybe even be reason to question the gain. The uptick in 
January conincided with a major site performance boost (faster PHP). I can 
imagine people who edit heavy articles like 'Obama' (heavy in terms of links 
etc, with iirc almost a minute of submit time), would edit online in one go 
without intermittent submits, and now these same people went back to 
precautionary intermittent submits, thus accomplishing same amount of work in 
more edits, in which case our gain would be mostly our editors' peace of mind. 
Building on this: perhaps part of the decline in previous years came from 
slowing submits?

(disclaimer : all of the above is only my personal opinion)

-----Original Message-----
From: wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org 
[mailto:wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Robert Rohde
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2015 21:00
To: Wikimedia Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Increase in size of the core editing community

For enwiki, whose stats I happen to know best, one might say the bottom was 
actually around mid-to-late 2013.  The plateau and subsequent modest upward 
trend was visible first with occasional/new editing metrics like new active 
editors (>= 5 edits per month), but has since also appeared in measures of 
highly active editors (>100 edits per month).

This timeline would suggest that at least some of the change predates what Lila 
put in place, though her team may deserve credit for the continued improvement.

In 2015, we are also poised for something of a transition.  The cohort of 
editors who registered on enwiki in 2006 have made more edits to enwiki than 
any other annual cohort in every year from 2006 to 2014.  If you choose any 
edit at random since 2006, the most likely year that the account registered was 
2006.  That cohort, a legacy of Wikipedia's great growth period, has had an 
outsized impact on enwiki editing for nearly a decade.
 (2005 and 2007 cohorts also have a strong pattern of continued editing, though 
not as huge as 2006.)  If current trends continue, the 2006 cohort will finally 
lose their crown in 2015.  The 2015 cohort is likely to make more edits in 2015 
than the 2006 cohort makes in 2015.  It will also be the second year in a row 
that first-year accounts have increased their total edit count, after seven 
earlier years of declining edit totals for first-year accounts.

I think there are plenty of reasons to be modestly optimistic.  I'm not sure we 
should every again expect dramatic growth, but if we can move towards a more 
stable or slowly growing community that would seem to make an apocalyptic 
collapse less likely.

-Robert Rohde



On Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 7:56 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:

> James,
>
> Yes, there is more to the story than can be told in the data that we have.
> On the other hand, it seems to me that it's a bit harsh to respond 
> like that to WSC's attempt to share good news. Perhaps you can also 
> think of positive ways to interpret the data, such as that the 
> increased speeds of page loads may be having a desirable positive 
> effect on the productivity of highly active editors.
>
> I believe that Aaron H. is working on ways to measure the "value" of 
> an editor's contributions. When that work is done, I hope that we'll 
> have a better measure for how productivity is changing over time for 
> different cohorts of editors.
>
> Pine
>
> On Sep 10, 2015 8:58 AM, "James Forrester" <jforres...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
> >
> > On 10 September 2015 at 07:21, WereSpielChequers < 
> > werespielchequ...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > A quick follow up to the signpost article of a couple of weeks ago 
> > > <
> > >
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2015-08-26/
> In_focus
> > > >We
> > > now have the August figures
> > > <https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaZZ.htm>, and August 
> > > has continued what we might reasonably start calling the new 
> > > trend. The
> English
> > > Wikipedia has more editors with 100 or more live edits in 
> > > mainspace
> than
> > > for any August since 2010. Across all Wikipedias combined the 
> > > figures
> are
> > > up almost as steeply with a near 10% increase on August 2014, 
> > > though
> this
> > > doesn't quite get us back to 2012 levels.
> > >
> >
> > ​Interesting data, but it's just data, not a conclusion.​
> >
> > Also, and a bit off-topic, "core editing community" is a pretty 
> > offensive term to use for "editors who make more than 100 edits a 
> > month", disregarding the continuing editors who make fewer than 100 
> > edits as non-core regardless of the value they add to the wikis; the 
> > normal term
> is
> > "very active editors" to avoid implicit disparagement.
> >
> > ​[Snip]​
> >
> > editors making 5 or more saves
> > > ​[is]
> > >  down
> > > across Wikipedia generally when comparing August 2015 with 2014.
> > >
> >
> > ​So, actually, your title​ is faulty and misleading. Instead, you 
> > could
> say:
> >
> >    - "English Wikipedia editor numbers continue to decline but
> meta-editors
> >    are up",
> >    - "Editor diversity falls as more edits are done by fewer editors", or
> >    even
> >    - "Beset by a falling number of editors, existing users of the English
> >    Wikipedia feel compelled to edit still more in their desperate
> attempts to
> >    fix things"?
> >
> >
> > But it's nice to have one metric be positive.
> > >
> >
> > ​I'm not sure it is.​ What is the nature and value of these edits? 
> > Two editors endlessly reverting each other counts as "more edits" 
> > but adds no value; one hundred editors each writing a beautiful 
> > Featured Article in a single edit counts as less "work" than one 
> > admin reverting 101 vandalism edits by a single spambot. What's your next 
> > step to evaluate this?
> >
> >
> > Yours,
> > --
> > James D. Forrester
> > Lead Product Manager, Editing
> > Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
> >
> > jforres...@wikimedia.org | @jdforrester 
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