What is the ultimate goal/vision for this project?
What if just by swiping down on your lock screen you could read what Wikipedia says about the place you are standing? What if you learned about a major world event on your tablet over your morning coffee from a free, neutral, source, with a transparent curation history and no transit through Apple or Google’s servers. What if each time a new Picture of the day is selected on Commons, or a new featured article is posted on a Wikipedia, hundred of thousands of people get excited and immediately start reading the work of dedicated, amazing editors and photographers…
What is the short term goal for this project?
Pilot initial notifications with beta users, limited release or a/b test by the end of Q1 2016/17, fulfilling our team's quarterly goal.
Why are we doing this?
Notifications are a standard part of apps of all kinds. Even many reference apps have some form of notification (the Dictionary.com apps have Word of the Day, for example). In a world where attention is determined not just by a web search engine, but by what appears on the lock screen of your phone, notifications may be a vital way stay visible and accessible, and to continue to provide a viable alternative to commercial, closed, sources of information. Wikipedia’s role as fact-checker and deep dive source for news content was recently highlighted by a study from the Knight foundation and the Foundation's own analysis of the impact of Prince’s death on wiki and on social media. Wikipedia is a go-to source of information in times of high demand for reference material on specific people, places or events. Notifications and widgets provide a way to channel that interest directly to Wikipedia, bypassing the need for aggregators or search engines.
How do we know we’ve been successful?
- Increased medium and long term (D3 - D30) retention (target TBD, prolly have a target specific to users who opt into notifications)
- "Good" click through rates on notifications, good opt in rates on widget/pushes ("good" TBD)
- Overall positive design research results
- Overall positive app store and OTRS comments
Notifications are a dangerous feature. The last thing we want to do is interrupt or annoy readers — we can easily avoid this, since we do not have a profit motive or leadership dictate to push this on users. This means we will have a long development process for this feature, including more on wiki talk on the affected Special pages, design research and development iteration before even beta testing.
Privacy and Data Flow
Many people may be concerned about privacy with notifications, and some users have a very negative perception of push notifications in particular. Often notifications seem like the result of creepily knowledgable centralized user profiles, or are distributed via backend servers provided by the platform (ie. Apple or Google). However both major mobile platforms provide a way for the app itself to “send” the notification, without need for contacting the platform owner's servers or storing their choices on our servers. This means user's notification preferences and history are no different, from a privacy and data ownership perspective, than their in-app reading history.
In late 2015, Jon Robson created a working notifications system for Wikipedia content and activity in browsers based on the proposed W3C Notifications API standard. Running on Labs, and featuring many of the same types of content described below, this provides an example of the potential for notifications about Wikipedia you can try now. Sign up here to begin receiving notifications in Chrome or Firefox.
Specifically he created a concept of trending based on a variety of factors around edits (total edits, total number of edits by logged in users, the ratio of edits per user). This feed is surfaced on pushipedia trending page.
Initial product principles
- Relevant in place and/or time
- Informative and factual
- Opt-in only, no central broadcast or distribution
- Not reliant on 3rd party infrastructure (only network transit is encrypted requests for content from Wikimedia servers)
- Subject to our privacy and license terms and policies
- Transparent triggers (no black box algorithms, clear explanation of when/why notifications will be sent)
- On-wiki content and curation
- Main and Special pages
- reading/editing behavior APIs (Pageviews and Recent changes)
- Educated non-fiction lover likes to queue up interesting things to read when he gets up, and enjoys having Wikipedia's best articles in that mix.
- Adult non-fiction reader loves reading the featured articles in his own language's Wikipedia. Likes knowing when a new one has been posted right on his phone with quick ability to save for later.
Curation: Featured article from a Wikipedia main page
- when new FA posted
- at user selected time
Today in History
- History buff, can’t stand social media notifications or messaging, but likes to start his day with a set of notifications from reference/education apps.
- Science nerd learns about Hedy Lamar from seeing her birth on the selected anniversaries timeline.
- at user selected time
- on update of Main page section on en
- Loves to see the beatiful pictures appreciates there are no ads, likes to save and share the best ones with his friends.
- Commons contributor who loves to see what image is picked each day, and makes it his lock screen background if its a particularly cool one.
- on update
- at user selected time
In the News
- She knew he died, but seeing him on "In the news" notification, makes her interested in why people admired Muhammad Ali. She saves it for later and learns more about him and his political and social impact.
- Man learns about election results in his ancestral homeland because of Wikipedia's global scope. He catches up on the latest events and really appreciates the NPOV. He uses references links to find new news sources for current events in his home country he didn’t know about.
- on update (i.e. watch list)
- on user selected time if available
- on page views spike
- on edit rate spike
- on social media mentions?
- User traveling to a new city. Finds a few articles about intesting places to visit there and saves them offline. As he tours the city, he's alerted when he passes near one of his saved places of interest.
- A young commuter learns about a significant place near the train station she visits every day, because it was recently in the national TV news, increasing views of the page and making it more "notable" and triggering a notification on her next day's morning commute.
Curation: Wikipedia Geodata API and Wikidata
- near location of a saved page
- near a location whose closest geotagged article meets a page views threshold (top % of page views in language?)
- near a location whose closest geotagged article meets an article quality threshold (only Good or Feature quality?)
- near a location whose closest geotagged article matches on user selected properties (“monument”,”museum”,”train station”)
- learning something is happening you otherwise would not have.. [INCOMPLETE]
- Young person reads that th terrorist attacks in paris is being heavily edited,... [INCOMPLETE]
- guy likes to be in the know in pop culture discussions and likes to use Wikipedia's trending to get the background on the latest. [INCOMPLETE]
Curation: pageviews API, edit rates
- as soon as available
- page view threashold
Saved Pages Changes
[AKA LOCAL WATCHLIST]Potentital stories:
- saved a news topic [INCOMPLETE]
Triggers: a page saved locally has an edit or threshold count of edits
Today Widgets are based on Apple's “Extensions” technology, and allow us to provide access to Wikipedia in the OS layer. This connects us more deeply with power users, and ensures that we control curation, privacy and code, rather than ceding that space to Apple or a private competitor.
- Waiting to meet a friend in a cafe in paris and learning about a place near you from your home screen, switching between english and french to improve your french
- Learning something new about a place near your train station (use page views trigger)
Curation: geodata API, Pageviews API and wikidata
- Likes to see what people are interested in/reading about in spanish, living in the US, keeps him connected
- Trusts wikipedia more than the news, likes to hear it first directly from the wiki
Curation: page views API, edit rate
Today in History
- history buff on vacation, reading Today on iPad lock screen by the fire, finding an event that interests
- looking at the calendar on the today screen, sees someone famous shares my moms birthday today, and it turns out they went to the same school, I wonder if she knew that, I’ll send her this article
- middle aged woman in europe appreciates seeing a beautiful photo in her today screen everyday without being tracked or registering for anything
- Father likes to check out the picture each day as he checks his stocks and score, and share the best battleship pictures with his son, who shares his love of marine history
In the News
- news junkie wakes up and reaches for his phone and reading Today on phone when he wakes up, appreciates that Wikipedia's content is non-commercial, global and neutral
- User in India likes having wiki in with his other info sources on the Today screen because its less US politics focus and less sensational than many international news sources
- A user wants picks up their phone and wants to pick up reading the article they last had open. Can do it by simply force touching on the icon (this is a currently possible, but the widget is more visual and contextual - it has an image and current section name)
Batteries Not Included
There are no immediate plans to tie this system to Central Notice or other on wiki broadcast or notification mechanisms.
A note about editing, watchlist and Echo notifications.
Although notifications in some form have a long and useful history for wiki editors, the much larger cost of integrating mobile app and on-wiki edit notifications makes that a goal outside the scope of a pilot test (integrating with the existing backends not architected for large scale mobile push, ensuring privacy and security, etc).
Additionally the iOS app is currently staffed entirely from the Reading team. Our team is tasked with creating great experiences for Wikipedia's readers. And specifically the apps team is focused on a strategy of improving the encyclopedia experience and experimenting with potential new ways of accessing free knowledge. Within the foundation the Collaboration team have been working hard for many quarters to modernize and improve the on-wiki web based notification system (aka Echo). However there is currently no concrete project or goals to tie that system into the apps.
- See this blog for many interesting studies on the effect of notifications on attention and user interest. http://pielot.org/tag/notifications/