Sunday, November 09, 2008

Happy with a Wikimania presentation

I waited for a two hour download to finish. I watched it and, it had me think again about what makes a small wiki work. The UNICEF developers have been working hard making MediaWiki usable for their communities in Africa. They had people test their improvements and, they made a difference. With the improvements more people contributed to their Wikis.

In their project 100% of the test group did not know how to create new articles. They just did not know how to. Having a button that helps to create new articles makes a big difference. Add to this standard templates for new articles and you have something powerful.

Other innovations are in helping understand the editing. The text is split in sections and the categories are shown to the right of the screen. This also stimulated participation a lot.

When people call Wikipedia a success, they are talking about a tiny fraction of our projects. The vast majority of the Wikipedias is small and is in need of both more content and editors. Usability is with internationalisation and localisation what helps readers connect to what we do and become editors.

With the UNICEF people having spend a lot of effort on improving usability, we only need to adopt what has been learned. I am sure that certain people will find that some things might be done differently, more sophisticated but for me this makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Adopting the lessons learned, the new functionality will stimulate our smaller and smallest projects. That would be good.

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