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Consider revising Junior Contributor definition
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Consider revising the current definition of Junior Contributors [1] to include a condition that they have contributed >X non-reverted edits to the main namespace (namespace 0).

Context: T234046#5669844


  1. 1. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project/Glossary

Event Timeline

MNeisler moved this task from Triage to Tracking on the Product-Analytics board.Nov 25 2019, 9:52 PM
ppelberg added a comment.EditedNov 25 2019, 10:24 PM

I edited the wikipage item for "Junior Contributors" to add a criteria of "at least one article page edit". You may want to revise this to "at least one article page edit that has not been reverted".

The history of the Article Feedback Tool should make it clear that talk-comments with zero-article-edits is not considered contribution. Chatter by non-editors has negative value on average.

I strongly suggest that the team add a separate metric to track talk-comments-with-zero-article-edits. I expect many or comments like that would be as IP. The team should track the percentage IPs that comment on talk without article-editing.

Thank you for raising this, @Alsee.

We are aligned in wanting to make sure the interventions do not promote vandalistic comments.

Potential proxies for this could include – as you mention – tracking the number of distinct contributors (IP and registered) who participate on talk pages who have made 0, non-reverted, article page edits.

As for the definition of "Junior Contributors", for now, we're going to keep the definition of as is [1] so as to avoid assuming all contributors who have not yet made an article edit are acting in bad faith.


  1. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project/Glossary

We are aligned in wanting to make sure the interventions do not promote vandalistic comments.

Actually, I think @Alsee was expressing concern about off-topic or unproductive comments rather than vandalism. I'm not exactly sure what he would include in that group (for example, if someone raises a valid concern about the article itself, but has no intention of actually editing, is that negative?) but it is a real category which is different from vandalism.

ppelberg closed this task as Resolved.Nov 26 2019, 1:20 PM

Thanks for clarifying, @Neil_P._Quinn_WMF. Let's move our discussion for what metrics we might monitor to approximate "unproductive" behavior to this ticket: T239231

Alsee added a comment.EditedNov 26 2019, 1:32 PM

Neil is correct. Defining contributor to mean 'article space contribution' has nothing to do with bad faith. Vandals generally don't bother with talk pages. The primary source of disruption is good-faith people arguing. Non-editors are more likely to create, expand, and persist in disruptive arguing.

The community will generally consider talk-edits with zero-article-edits to represent negligible or negative average value, not presumptively-desirable presumptively-positive "contributions". It's hard to keep my answer short. I'll try to limit the length, I'm happy to discuss more and deeper here or on-wiki if you want

The Foundation seems to be struggling to fully understand our "Not Social Network" and "Not Forum" policies. Our policies generally serve to either resolve disputes, or prevent disruption in the first place. These particular policies are about preventing disruption. I will try to refactor the idea. The first piece is that Wikipedia is a workplace. We are here to build an encyclopedia, and that is virtually our sole metric for everything. Second, the community experience is that "discussion" in general has various costs associated with it. Those costs range from insignificant, to time-sinks, to burning out valuable editors, all the way up to threat of catastrophic disruption of our work. Discussion is necessary to support our work, but discussion which does not directly or indirectly support our work carries undesirable costs and risks of disruption. We expect and accept some side-chatter between productive editors as part of a productive work environment. However users who have not edited articles and are not going to edit articles are not presumed to be "contributors". Almost invariably such users are not here to build an encyclopedia. That phrase, "not here to build an encyclopedia" is big with us. It's virtually a synonym for unwanted disruption. Talk activity by users-who-never-edit is a negative metric.

I'm not exactly sure what he would include in that group (for example, if someone raises a valid concern about the article itself, but has no intention of actually editing, is that negative?)

There's value here, but maybe not what you expect. First, what if a random grocery clerk offered you advice about the Foundation's Fundraising program? They have exactly zero experience in that job. They know squat about the Foundation's policies or requirements. On average, the random suggestion probably has little value.

Ok, let's assume we got lucky and this particular non-editor raised a valid concern about the article. We have an endless backlog of work that needs to be done. We divert one of our experienced high-wage-value workers to make this edit.... instead of doing whatever other work they would have done. Even if the suggestion was good, diverting an experienced editor to handle the non-editor's-suggestion has low net value.

However there is another source of value. We make the edit, and maybe the user is curious enough to view the edit. Maybe they're encouraged enough or curious enough or inspired enough to try making the next edit themselves. Maybe they join us as an active community member, learning the policies and gaining experience. Maybe they contribute contribute ten thousand high value edits - with the experience and knowledge equivalent of a high-wage worker. The chance of getting a new active community member is low, but the payoff is huge.

P.S. Edit conflict. I was typing and didn't see the "resolved" post until after I clicked save.

We divert one of our experienced high-wage-value workers to make this edit.... instead of doing whatever other work they would have done.

I would disagree with two of the assumptions here:

  • That Wikipedia editors won't decide to spend more time editing because of such concerns being raised. Contributors typically don't spend 100% of their free time editing, and hypothetically an increase in the number of such valid concerns could encourage a contributor to spend some more time fixing those issues.
  • That editors would need to be diverted to resolve the issue. Some editors specifically find value in helping new users (e.g. regulars at the help desk), so it's possible that they would actively seek out such comments on talk pages (e.g. by filtering recent changes to find such comments).

It might be interesting to look at usage of the {{Edit protected}} series of templates on the English Wikipedia; the templates are used to request edits to protected pages. The requirement that the template "should be accompanied by a clear and specific description of the requested change" probably makes the system less effective than it could be (some editors seem to go through the categories and decline everything that isn't a specific request), although there are almost certainly some instances where editors have chosen to honour non-specific requests even though it wasn't necessary for them to do so.

@ppelberg please reopen this task. All we've resolved is that there is no concern about bad faith. We haven't resolved that the issue of non-contributors are being included in the Contributors metric. It's a very low bar to expect ONE edit demonstrating someone is here to work on the project. Heck, if we set the threshhold at a single reverted edit it would at least demonstrate an attempt to contribute.

Perhaps a historical case will help:

A politically-fringe with thousands daily readers wrote an attack piece against Neils deGrasse Tyson. The website also ranted that our biography for Tyson should also be an attack piece... and the article linked to our article_talk. This sent a stream of probably THOUSANDS of political wingnuts to the talk page. Thank god we didn't have Flow. Not only would the horde have shut down many article pages, it would have shut down our community management pages. Instead, with standard Talk pages, we "merely" got hit for four thousand edits on that particular page. The disruption also spread across various other pages, at "merely" a toxic level. The result was massive stress and disruption. I think something like half dozen good editors got so stressed out that they snapped and had to be blocked.

These people were not "Junior Contributors". They had no interest in editing anything.

This issue is true every day across countless pages, normally it's just a lower and more diffuse problem. The metric is talk-only users.