2019:Research/Supporting deliberation and resolution on Wikipedia
|This is an Accepted submission for the Research space at Wikimania 2019.|
Abstract[edit | edit source]
Resolving disputes in a timely manner is crucial for any online production group. We present an analysis of Requests for Comments (RfCs), one of the main vehicles on Wikipedia for formally resolving a policy or content dispute. We collected an exhaustive dataset of 7,316 RfCs on English Wikipedia over the course of 7 years and conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis into what issues affect the RfC process. Our analysis was informed by 10 interviews with frequent RfC closers. We found that a major issue affecting the RfC process is the prevalence of RfCs that could have benefited from formal closure but that linger indefinitely without one, with factors including participants’ interest and expertise impacting the likelihood of resolution. We develop a model that takes several of these factors into account that is able to predict whether an RfC will go stale with around 70% accuracy a week after the RfC is posted.
One recurring issue we found was that it may take a great deal of effort for a single Wikipedia editor to read through an entire RfC and then formally close it. RfCs (as well as other discussions on Wikipedia) can grow to tens or hundreds of comments with many deep threads of back-and-forth conversation. We are now investigating the use of collaborative tools for discussion synthesis towards making the process of closing RfCs easier. The web-based tool we study, called Wikum, allows people to iteratively tag, group, and summarize small sections or subthreads of discussion at a time towards summarizing an entire discussion. It also supports multiple people working together to summarize a large discussion. Early studies of Wikum with 8 frequent RfC closers suggest that it can be a helpful tool for people closing large RfCs.
Authors[edit | edit source]
RfC work led by Jane Im (Korea University, University of Michigan).
Wikum work led by Amy Zhang (MIT).
Other collaborators are Christopher Schilling (Wikimedia Foundation), Jonathan T Morgan (Wikimedia Foundation), David Karger (MIT)
Session type[edit | edit source]