Monday, March 21, 2011
Tooting the horn with #statistics
The motto of the Wikimedia Foundation is "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment." When the statistics show that people are increasingly turning to Wikipedia, it is good news. When more localisations at translatewiki.net make it the 48th biggest wiki, it is good news.
It is good news when statistics can be influenced over time by our actions.
Good statistics show that our work is relevant and that motivates. When we get more traffic, it motivates. When we watch the localisation complete, it motivates. The most important task for statistics is to provide credible information and use it to motivate.
Motivating statistics are repetitive; you set them up and let them run. The key thing for them to work is presentation, automation and timeliness. When statistical analysis shows that we have not as many newbies and regulars, it does not motivate, statistics with the number of people in the Russian incubator do on many levels.
The challenge is not so much in doing an initial analysis; many people are poring over the raw numbers, it is in packaging them, automating them and finally getting them onto stats.wikimedia.org.
When the statistics show flukes, it is when our developers and our community have to be agile. Being agile and keep the MediaWiki development show on the road.