Saturday, May 14, 2011

To get the message out

Lately I have given a considerable amount of time about the Wikimedia Foundation and how it gets its message out. I was thinking in terms of what I would do to improve the amount of information, the quality of the information and the impact of the information.


The views per month of the blog look good and, as the authoritative source for information it should be. A blog has more permanence then a post on a mailing list. Blog posts do end up in the results of the search engines. When I consider these statistics to the statistics of this blog, the number of readers will top 20K for May and is growing while the WMF blog relies on scandals to top the 35K mark.

The blog will do better when posts have illustrations and when it changes from announcement driven to story driven. Human stories are also lacking; a story like the one about Alice von Platen or the one about cashew sprouts not only get a surprising number of readers, they allowed me to raise some serious points.

The WikimediaFoundation website
As the Wikimedia Foundation gains more staff, permanent or otherwise, it becomes difficult for the community. The staff page is great but it needs work. Many people are missing and many pictures are three years old or missing. For some people there is a nice introduction but for others the info is a joke.

The community has to deal with these people. They are typically introduced so why not update the staff page at the same time. We are dealing with people and they are interesting .. one of the WMF newbies even has a Kiva background !!

Be good to newbies
Our community has a social problem. You can alleviate social problems with technical aids but in the end it will not work. Social problems take time, attention first. Consider newbie patrol is done by people who are on average still new to Wikipedia. It is sadly considered an entry level activity.

Even though we work hard on usability, Jakob's law indicates why we face an uphill battle: “users spend most of their time on other websites”. We need WYSIWYG even when our grey-beards hate it. We need more social features even when our grey-beards hate it. Technically we have to update the experience people get. This will help us keep our community fresh.

PS I will always consider a good story for on my blog..
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