Feed the Gnomes - Wikidata Outreach/Requirements Analysis

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Requirements Analysis & Identification of Stakeholder Needs[edit]

The GT should not presume any prior experience with MediaWiki software or with other Wikimedia projects in order to accommodate and appeal to as many new users as possible. However, it should allow conditional logic or somehow else afford those who are more familiar with or seasoned contributors to wikis (for example, to Wikipedia) to skip certain sections of the module and/or access content that is more tailored or specific to Wikidata use.

The GT should include informational content that introduces users to Wikidata and the purpose and aim of the project, as well as showcase and/or describe some of its current and future applications and cool tools, like the Resonator. As with the Wikipedia Adventure, the GT should also include reference to guiding policies and core concepts of the project, such as notability, plurality of data (for example, the use of qualifiers to constrain the validity of an item’s property value), and community agreements for successful collaboration and resolution of disagreements. The GT should have opportunities to assess user’s understanding of concepts through micro task completion or multiple choice selection.

The GT should include interactive, instructional content and provide actions or prompt the user with tasks to complete.

These could include but would not be limited to the following tasks within Wikidata:

  • setting language preferences;
  • improving a random item by adding label and descriptions (for example, what to do when the label is possibly ambiguous, how to avoid time-dependent wording for descriptions);
  • adding more statements and new sources to an item (for example, how to look up lists of properties to determine best match when creating a statement, i.e. “how do I represent a German painter who is renowned for depictions of the Black Forest?”);
  • reporting an interwiki conflict;
  • creating a new item (for example, knowing to first search if an item already exists);
  • more ‘advanced’ tasks such as using qualifiers, proposing properties, joining or starting new task forces, working with tools, and creating bots

While the GT will first be created in English, efforts should be made to translate the content into as many other working Wikidata languages as possible through coordination of current Wikidata i18n volunteers and in consultation with ambassadors (as is the practice for new stages/phases of the project, for an example see the page on how Wikidata could provide support to Wikiquote)

The GT should be launched in conjunction with additional promotional tie-ins, activities, and materials. These could include expanded or new documentation, evaluation and design of information architecture and restructuring of pages (for the development of a portal for new users and mentors), creation of ‘toolkits’ for Wikidata edit-a-thons/hackathons, Wikimedia blog posts, collaboration with interested media partners such as OpenNews’ data-crunching fellows embedded in newsrooms around the world, development and issuing of badges for use on the Mozilla Backpack and educational platforms like MyEdu, and outreach to identified communities or users (like gnomes!) who are active on other Wikimedia projects and could stand to benefit from more direct engagement with Wikidata.  

Both content within the GT module(s) and other efforts should emphasize Wikidata as having a relative low barrier to participation in Wikimedia content creation and curation, and promote it as an alternative way of contributing to or improving Wikipedia (for example, by adding information to Wikidata for underrepresented topics that can then be used as stubs in Wikipedia, for combating systematic bias and gender imbalance, or in representing a plurality of claims or different approaches to knowledge organization through statement qualifiers).

A final, important consideration of the design of the GT’s module(s) will be how the content and framing of a new user’s orientation to Wikidata is expected to change as the project grows, and as project leads and administrators promote and advocate for a shift away from thinking of data as something to be added after-the-fact to other wikis and websites, and towards a data-first approach to web content creation. It is worth nothing that this is a shift not only affecting the world of wikis and collaborative distributed community projects, but one with considerable implications for the larger digital media landscape, especially with respect to considerations of content management, publishing processes, and responsive design. Previous Wikimedia projects have shaped the web as we know it—this is an opportunity for Wikidata to take a leadership role in thinking about web content and in data literacy by increasing knowledge and understanding of structured data and its potential uses and applications.

Given the anticipated and evolving needs of Wikidata orientation, as well as the importance of evaluation, I will also explore and document possible metrics for impact assessment of materials and contributions resulting from this internship project.