Mobile contribution research

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Research brief[edit]

Problem statement:[edit]

In pursuit of the “New content” program in the Audiences department FY18/19 Annual plan, the desired outcome (Outcome 3: mobile contribution)is:

  • “It is easier for someone to contribute productively to Wikimedia projects on a mobile device, leading to more mobile edits and higher retention.”

In order to provide a clearer understanding of why people contribute to Wikipedia (or don’t) on mobile devices,  and what functionality and features “make the most sense” to provide for new and experienced contributors on mobile devices, this research is being implemented. Specifically, the outcomes of this work will answer the following questions for the Wikimedia Foundation mobile platform product teams (including apps and mobile web)

  1. Why do (and don’t) new and experienced Wikipedia contributors use mobile devices for contribution?
  2. Which types of contribution workflows and tasks make the most sense to provided on mobile devices?
  3. Which tasks should exist on mobile devices?
  4. How much of the ecosystem should exist on mobile?  

Research Goals[edit]

  • Provide a summary of previous research informing: “Why do (and don’t) new and experienced Wikipedia contributors use mobile devices for contribution?”
  • List of all the workflows in the contribution taxonomy which score well on “mobileability” criteria - to inform which workflows and tasks “make sense” to have on mobile platforms
  • Provide answers to  “Why do (and don’t) new and experienced Wikipedia contributors use mobile devices for contribution?”
  • Set of findings and recommendations synthesized from primary research and secondary research
  • Provide a clear perspective, backed by data, on “How much of the ecosystem should exist on mobile?”

Research findings[edit]

Research report with more details
High level summary of the findings from qualitative comments[edit]

(See the page numbers to the right of the finding description, for where to see more details about a finding in the pdf report uploaded to the right)

  • Contributors need help to do tasks on mobile. This is especially true for, but not limited to new contributors. Experienced contributors also need help, or reminders, for example to find the correct syntax or formatting for a specific task. How might we make it easier for contributors to find help when contributing on mobile devices? (pages 12-18)
    • We asked participants to rate the tasks they do on specific platforms (smartphone &App, smartphone & mobile web, smartphone switched to desktop and laptop) with: "easy", "OK, I had to learn" or "hard".
    • Tasks that were reported as "easy" for more experienced editors on mobile platforms, and laptops were reported as "hard" for new editors.
    • Also, some tasks that were reported as "OK, I had to learn" on mobile, were "easy" on laptops for experienced contributors.
  • Some things seem, or are too complicated to do, or are not discoverable on mobile devices. (pages 19-22)
  • Context switching reduces focus and efficiency. People have to leave the context of where they are working to find things or information they need to act. (pages 23-26)
  • There is a pervasive lack of understanding of policies, and policies are harder to discover and learn about on mobile devices. (pages 27-31)
    • If policies are being mis used for non good faith purposes, people who don't understand policies, also don't understand how to address miss-use of policies.
  • Places and tools needed for contributors to act, are not always easy to find on mobile. (pages 32-33)
    • if people don't discover talk pages, they may not know there is a community vs. just a big technical system, for example.
  • Navigation, selection and copy/paste are particularly hard on mobile devices. (pages 34-38)


Things to consider as we focus on designing for mobile contribution.[edit]

This is not directly from participants, but isights gained from reading through all the research I could find about mobile contribution to Wikipedia.

  • The various platforms (smartphone & Wikipedia App, smartphone and Wikipedia mobile web page, smartphone switched to desktop site, and lap/desktop) provide different views into what can be found and done on Wikipedia. Imagine if you started with a smartphone and didn't discover the lap/desktop view. You may have a much more narrow view of what is possible. (see pictures on pages 40 and 41)
    • the Wikipedia app is designed with reading in mind, and emphasizes a reading experience. A person only sees the article view, and nothing else unless they start to look for other things.
    • the Wikipedia mobile website is more focused on contribution, the pencil icon indicating "edit" is more prominent, and no lead picture shows right away. A person only sees the article view, and nothing else, unless they look for other things.
    • On the desktop view, one can see many options, there are tabs for "talk" pages, history, and all the options of places to visit and discover on the left side of the page.
    • Also, templated notices show up differently on the various platforms with various levels of information. This impacts both readers knowing or not about issues with an article, and contributors knowing about issues to understand how to address them.
  • Gadgets are detailed expressions of workflows. They might be useful patterns for designing workflows, but there needs be discussion and caution must be used. (pages 42-43)
    • Sometimes automated and semi automated workflows can contain biases or expected outcomes which might poorly impact contribution, if implemented without awareness.
    • For example, a semi automated workflow to protect the wikis, like Twinkle, might focus people only on protecting the wiki, instead of also helping new contributors to learn from their mistakes. This happens when content is deleted in order to protect quality or content in general, and no note is placed on the contributors' page explaining why. This is especially impactful when new editors' contributions are deleted with no explanation. They do not understand why thier contributions were deleted, and it impacts their ability to successfully act, or even sometimes to ever act again. Twinkle is also a very good way to protect the wikis by patrolling.
  • Many people come online for the first time using inexpensive smartphones, rather than lap/desktops. How might we better support people using inexpensive smartphones? (pages 44-45)


Recommendations for which tasks should be provided on mobile platforms.[edit]

Several sources were made to decide this prioritization. Please read through pages 46- 80 in the report for all the details on how prioritization was decided. This is not a full accounting of all the tasks and workflows that are possible, and which should be on mobile or not. It is a recommendation about the priority tasks that need to be findable and accomplishable on mobile devices for contribution, curation and moderation work on Wikipedias. This is by no means set in stone. It is only a recommendation to teams.

  • Contribution tasks and workflows
    • Priority 1
      • fixing typos
      • Copy editing (fixing grammar and clarifying meaning)
      • Updating article content with new information
      • Adding references / citations
      • Adding Wikipedia links
      • Adding media to articles
    • Priority 2
      • Adding captions to media on articles
      • Extending lists within articles
      • Translating content from one language Wiki to another
      • Creating new articles (AfC and directly creating a new article)
    • Priority 3
      • Adding / editing wikidata content to articles
  • Curation tasks and workflows
    • Priority 1
      • Checking references for verifiability, and fixing references
      • Tagging articles for clean up
      • Reorganizing articles (split, merge, re-name) - move
    • Priority 2
      • Patrolling, reviewing raw edit feeds looking vandalism
      • Deleting, proposing deletion of articles
    • Priority 3
      • Reverting edits
      • Reviewing, approving draft articles
      • Adding and/or editing categories
      • Editing info boxes
  • Moderation tasks and workflows
    • Priority 1
      • Welcoming new contributors
      • Updating user page
      • Discussing article content with other contributors on Wikipedia
    • Priority 2
      • Reviewing feeds of talk page edits looking to help
      • Helping moderate discussions on talk / user pages
    • Priority 3
      • Mentoring, providing help to new contributors
      • Reaching out to expand our community
      • Reviewing, patrolling new user pages


Updates[edit]

September 2018[edit]

  • Project brief completed, and project begun.
  • Gathering a group of people from the Audiences team who are working on improving mobile contribution features and functionality to be on the steering committee.
  • Gathering previous research and beginning to read and summarize any relevant findings to inform this research.

October 2018[edit]

  • held the first steering committee meeting
  • reviewed prior research to inform survey design
  • drafted survey design (informed by prior research)
  • coordinated with product analysts to pull a selection of random mobile edits from En, Fr, Hi, Cz and Ko Wikipedias in order to categorize those edits and get an idea of what kind of contribution people do on mobile devices. (mobile edit categorization will definitely be done on time for the En:wiki to inform the survey, but might not find resources to tag mobile edits in other wikis. This content can be used if we do the survey for other language wikis)
  • Working with product analyst to pull a list of new and experienced contributors to invite to participate in survey.

February 2019[edit]

  • Over 200 people participated in the survey. 144 experienced contributors (who have contributed 25+ edits), and 77 new contributors (who have contributed 5-24 edits).
  • Thank you to everyone who participated. Your responses, feedback, and suggestions, are being used along with other information to decide how Wikimedia Foundation teams go about improving mobile contribution to WIkipedia.
  • The responses were taken in and analyzed to identify patterns in the qualitative feedback, and to better understand how people experience tasks and workflows they do on various platforms one can contribute to English Wikipedia through.
  • Report written and shared with Wikimedia Foundation mobile platform teams, and others, and shared on this page.