Hi Zubin,

I'd like to respond to this in multiple ways.

1. Yes, there are lots of rules and guidelines with varying degrees of
clarity and authority. This seems to me to be an understandable outcome of
a bottom-up process for developing many of Wikipedia's rules and
guidelines. I think that many of those rules and guidelines were created
with good intentions, and the complex nature of an encyclopedia requires
considerable thought being invested in the encyclopedia's structure.

2. However, the maintenance, coordination, organization, and harmonization
of the guidelines and rules is difficult with the diffuse nature of
Wikipedia and its community. A Wikipedia community, such as English
Wikipedia or German Wikipedia, could by consensus delegate some
responsibility to a committee for one or more of these functions. If a
community wanted to make such a delegation, there would also need to be
people who have the time, skills, and willingness to execute the role well.
A chronic problem with Wikipedia communities is that we have far greater
need that we can possibly fill with our limited human resources.

3. If we move up a level of abstraction to consider "user friendliness", of
which the rules and guidelines are one aspect, we probably can make
improvements, although again we are limited by human resource constraints
(and also by financial constraints). I am working on a long term project to
develop training resources for English Wikipedia, Commons, and Wikidata. I
hope that these resources will decrease the steepness of the learning
curve. I believe that similar work is already happening for Italian
Wikipedia and German Wikipedia, and that at least one other person is
working on improving the documentation for Visual Editor on English

4. I think that in-context help for Wikipedia and its sister projects could
be very beneficial. However, the Wikimedia Foundation is not Google,
Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, or Apple. WMF does not have dozens or hundreds
of spare engineers, designers, and researchers who can be easily reassigned
to work on improving the interface. WMF does have a significant amount of
money its its reserves, and I believe that a good choice would be to shift
the WMF's priorities away from increasing the size of the reserve and
toward improving the interface.

I realize that this is a complex and perhaps disappointing reply to your
thoughtful email. I think that we can make improvements on user
friendliness in multiple ways, that some of this work is ongoing, and that
perhaps WMF can be convinced to spend more resources in this area.

Thanks for speaking up.

( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )

On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 5:42 AM, Zubin JAIN <jain16...@gapps.uwcsea.edu.sg>

> Hello,
> As a rare newcomer to the Wikimedia project, I've been thinking of some of
> the factors that seem to discourage me from contributing and one of the
> primary ones seem to be the fact that the way the administration is
> organized and rules enforced is often vague and unclear. The definition and
> the method of collection of the vague idea of "Consensus" aren't easily
> found and take a lot of digging to get out.
> A lot of the guideline is often mixed with philosophical rants that often
> seem to contradict each other and has grown in size to the point that it's
> unreasonable for any newcomer to have read through it all. The project
> designed to work on consensus and community often seems unresponsive and
> automated as anarchic communication structure impedes effective
> communication by forcing users to learn an obscure markup language just to
> communicate.
> I'm wondering if there have been any whitepapers on addressing these
> problems especialy the ones about bureaucracy, reading through the news I
> remember a lot of hay being made about a decline in Wikipedia editor from a
> few years back but that seems ot have faded. Is there any hard data on the
> future trajectory of the project?
> --
> Sincerely,
> Zubin Jain
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