BayCHI Monthly Meeting on Wikimania

I attended the baychi meeting the other night (10/13) on wikimania.  It was a redux of the annual international Wikipedia conference, which was held at the end of August. It was an opportunity to listen to some local area presenters sharing some of their results and findings.

The first noteworthy speaker worth commenting on was the presenter from wikipedia. She shared some of their recent work on the site includes usability improvements. I was shocked to hear that they had not made any usability analysis or improvements to the site. Think of the millions of contributions and all those bad experiences.

During their studies they made several discoveries by testing non typical user / editors

  • Discovered more about the user types and the problems they have
  • Hard to see what and where the change had been made on the article
  • Overwritten contributions from the last time the visited
  • Could not figure out how to edit an article
  • Syntax is off putting and to technical

Other planned changes for the purpose of improving the site are:

  • search box location
  • search results
  • auto complete
  • pop up windows for tasks

It is a good thing that they are making improvements to the site its just a long time in coming. I was a little put off by the cavalier attitudes by some of wikipedia presenters and the lack of rigor for what they are doing. You would think that such a popular site would make stronger investments over the years and even now. But better late than never I guess.

The next presenter that was was noteworthy was from wikihow. If you are not familiar with it is is the worlds largest how to guide, or that’s how they consider themselves.

The site boasts:

  • 17 mm unique visitors per month
  • 62k article since 2005 linear growth

They outlines several goals for the site and part of their mission for the company.

  • Reasons for contribution
  • Editing is easy you have a lot more fun
  • Changed organization of content helped increase edit rates

Greater meaning

  • Practical instructions for people
  • Write and article and we’ll send a book to Africa 2,500
  • Hide ads – give uses a path out
  • Carbon neutral – mixed meaning depending on which side of the line you stand


  • Offered a free class on non violent communication
  • Goal to encourage civil enjoyable collaboration
  • Free to editors $250 to non editors
  • Free writing courses taught by live instructors

Overall it was a good panel discussion. I found that by just listeing to the presenters and seeing what they are doing gave me lots of ideas for how to leverage user generated content both at my current company and in my life.

If you attended as well I would like to hear your comments.


1 thought on “BayCHI Monthly Meeting on Wikimania

  1. Great summary– thanks 🙂

    One of my favorite tidbits from the night was when the founder of Wikihow talked about adding a dynamically updated box of “recent changes” to encourage people to see this as an active community. I seem to remember him saying this increased participation by about 10%. I wonder if other social sites like Yelp have explored creating similar things?

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