- Please help the WMF Reading department complete the following sentence: We aspire for a movement where, in 2 to 5 years, readers... who need information on matters that seriously impact their quality of life can use Wikipedia to find answers they can trust, in a format they can easily understand.
- Where should WMF Reading department focus in order to fulfill the aspiration from #1?
- In which demographics and user segments?
Segment users by their needs. There is a large edutainment / infotainment segment who want to read interesting things on Wikipedia, or use it to understand their leisure activities better. Providing for that is a valuable thing but not the main thrust of our mission; features that make the site more flashy or entertaining or try get people to browse more random stuff should not be a focus.
There are various other segments, people in situations where the availability of a wide, deep, reliable and accessible information source can have life-altering consequences, and this should be the main focus of the movement. Health and education are two prime examples; so is, in a less direct way, information on topics related to major policy questions or social change. People belonging in these groups care a lot about reliability (or maybe not but will still be strongly impacted by trusting unreliable information). For some of these groups, accessibility is important (e.g. laypeople looking for medical information, people in poor living conditions looking for sustainable technologies, people in areas with poor internet connections), for some not so much (e.g. students will usually have the time and skill to figure out difficult or badly written text, and will have high-quality internet access).
These segments probably don't correlate strongly with demographics, although students and less affluent groups might be more often in serious need of information.
- On which distribution channel(s) and technological platforms?
We have two large distribution channels: search engines and social media. The first is mainly useful for people looking for specific information; the second is less targeted and makes it possible for people to encounter information that is important for them but they weren't aware they needed it. Both of those are important and should be examined, although the current culture and content formats of the Wikimedia movement are better aligned with search engines.
We should research alternate channels that can reach demographies not available via these channels (typically areas with poor or no internet connection), such as offline content bundles.
As for platforms, focus resources instead of dispersing them, and focus on the platforms where most of the users are: the desktop and the mobile web (which would ideally converge over time), and provide great APIs so that external players can cover other platforms.
- Across which geographies?
All of them; the Global South has a larger need for information but also much more severe accessibility problems so how much effort goes there should depend on how much ability we realistically have to bridge those.
- In which demographics and user segments?
- What approach should WMF Reading pursue to achieve success in the focus areas from #2, in order to deliver on its mission in a way that distinguishes the user experience in a meaningful way?
- Invest into user research and better metrics and consult with groups with similar challenges (journalists, educators, activists) to develop an ability to measure accessibility and perceived reliability and usefulness of content.
- Similarly, develop an ability to measure demand; something that - unlike page views - is weighted towards serious uses of our content.
- Facilitate expert reviews to measure actual reliability of content samples; research techniques to predict reliability over a wider range of content based on that.
- Expose reliability information to readers (e.g. somthing like WikiTrust); provide demand/reliability/accessibility information to editors so they can prioritize work (give the WP 1.0 idea some software support).
- Invest into research and consultation with groups experienced in the area to identify the main accessibility barriers (in the wide sense of accessibility; could include anything from no internet connection to inability to reading complicated English prose to lack of time or motivation to read long-form text) and work on removing them.
- Collaborate with reusers who are focused on reliability and accessibility (Google Knowledge Graph being the obvious example here); provide great APIs for fetching content (including sub-article-level content).