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Wikipedia leads in customer satisfaction, Google Translate and India, Citizendium transition, Jimbo's media accolade

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By Wackywace, extransit and Tilman Bayer

High Wikipedia customer satisfaction explained by user interface stability and non-profit nature

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a monthly report by a Michigan-based company that measures customer satisfaction scores on a scale of 0 to 100 for many companies in the U.S., included for the first time in its survey. The results have just been published: Wikipedia scored 77 out of 100, the highest among the four sites in its category of "Internet Social Media", while YouTube was second with a score of 73. Against entries from the "Internet News & Information" category – which may have been a better categorization for Wikipedia – we also do well, tying for second place with First place for informational websites was, with 82 points, five more than Wikipedia. Each result is based on 250 telephone interviews with customers in the U.S.

In a commentary on the results, Claes Fornell, a professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan and the founder of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, explained Wikipedia's good result ("more satisfying than most of the ACSI-measured news and information websites") as follows:

Like Google, Wikipedia’s user interface has remained very consistent over the years, and its nonprofit standing means that it has not been impacted by commercialization and marketing unlike many other social media sites.

Fornell contrasted this with the poor results for the bottom two in the social media category, Facebook and Myspace, which he said are due to "controversies over privacy issues, frequent changes to user interfaces, and increasing commercialization" on these sites.

The logo of the Bengali Wikipedia

Wikipedia, Google Translate and Wikimedia's India strategy

As reported in last week's News and notes, the recent Wikimania conference saw a presentation by Google that described the company's effort to increase the content in various smaller Wikipedia versions – "Arabic, Indic languages, and Swahili" – mostly using its Google Translate machine translation service.

In addition to the coverage and reactions mentioned last week, by CNet, The New York Times and a Wikipedian from the Tamil Wikipedia, the topic was examined at length in a front-page story in Indian newspaper The Telegraph, titled Wiki learns a lesson in Bengali. The paper focused on the reaction of the Bengali Wikipedia, which "took great umbrage and deleted Google-generated content because the translated material simply did not meet its standards." It cited two of the project's administrators (Ragib and Jayantanth) and Bishakha Datta, the Foundation's Board member from India.

Muddyb Blast Producer, admin and bureaucrat on the Swahili Wikipedia
The logo of the Swahili Wikipedia

Another recent blog post "What happened on the Google Challenge @ the Swahili Wikipedia", by Muddyb Blast Producer, a bureaucrat on the Swahili Wikipedia who is based in Tanzania, looked back at the company's "Kiswahili Wikipedia Challenge", in which university students were awarded prizes for submitting articles written using Google Translate (see earlier Signpost coverage). Muddyb appreciated the intentions behind the contest and its quantitative success ("we’ve got a huge number of [new] articles"), but had concerns about the quality of the added content which were quite similar to those of the Bengali and Tamil Wikipedians. He expressed disappointment that the contestants hadn't turned into sustained contributors, and were not responding when asked to help in correcting their articles:

Nearly all of them are gone now and left a lot of articles which often are not really state of the art formally and also linguistically ... they don’t care because they were there for laptops and other prizes (no need to be rude, but it hurts me pretty bad).

Such concerns about Google's and other projects assisted by machine translation was briefly mentioned in an article titled "The state of the Wiki in India" (a guest post on GerardM's blog last week), by Salmaan Haroon, another Wikipedian from India who had also recently attended Wikimania: "India currently provides the fourth largest traffic to Wikipedia according to, behind United States, Japan and Germany", with much more potential as "India is poised for exponential growth in terms of internet users". Based on a description of the country's language diversity and the role of English as a "lingua franca", he argued that the Wikimedia Foundation should aim at "establishing a strong user base first and getting a high visibility rate in India" (which might involve the English language Wikipedia more than those in smaller languages) "before a diverse base could be nurtured".

An article about Wikimania published by The Indian Express (Wikipedia, growing local) made a similar recommendation. The author, Gautam John, is involved in the process to establish an Indian Wikimedia chapter (which was already approved last month by the Foundation). He wrote that "the emphasis needs to be on boosting contributions in all Indian languages, including English – rather than just an 'Indic languages vs English' paradigm". Apart from the presentations about Google's translation projects, the article reported on Wikimania talks relevant for India, including Jimmy Wales' keynote and a presentation by Achal Prabhala, a Wikimedia advisory board member from Bangalore.

Citizendium still in transition after one year

Larry Sanger

An article in the Times Higher Education (THE) last week (University may be given the keys to Citizendium) reported that Larry Sanger, the sole founder of the free online encyclopedia Citizendium, was considering "handing the reins to a university or a scholarly press" as "one possible future model for governing the project" after his planned departure as its editor-in-chief. Sanger reported "interest from major universities in both the US and the UK", but also mused on the possibility of a department within a university or a non-profit think-tank as Citizendium's "sponsoring or parent organisation".

Around the time of the project's inception in 2006, Sanger had announced that he would step down after two or three years. In July 2009, after he had become largely inactive as editor-in-chief, Sanger recalled that promise and reiterated his intention to step down after a sustainable governance structure was set up. This prompted a journalist from The Financial Times to declare "Citizendium founder ready to jump ship", and to report that Sanger was "looking for a suitable institution to take over management of his pet project" at that time already.

According to the recent THE article, Sanger's "executive committee [is] in the process of finalising a charter for how to proceed." The THE also mentioned criticism of Citizendium, from claims that "the site had progressed too slowly" to "suggestions that the articles are less scholarly than they purport to be"; however, Sanger said he believed it is "just a matter of time before we become a leading online community and reference work". (See also earlier Signpost coverage: Role of experts on Wikipedia and Citizendium examined)

The article prompted Wikimedia Board member Samuel Klein (User:Sj) to reflect in a blog post (Citizendium: failure to thrive, in search of peace) on Citizendium's difficulties, while still expressing "hope for a proliferation of cousin projects, all competing to find the best way to spur collaboration around free knowledge". In particular, Sj wrote about the problem of article verification (called "approval" on Citizendium), asking whether full academic qualifications should be demanded from reviewers, or whether the academic field of Law in the U.S. could provide inspiration, where "the most distinguished reviewed publications" are law reviews that are run by students without degrees, instead of being peer reviewed.

Larry Sanger had last made headlines after reporting the Wikimedia Foundation to the FBI and to his political representatives for "knowingly distributing child pornography" (see Signpost coverage).

Jimbo: the 47th most powerful person in media

Jimbo named as 47th most powerful person in media

British newspaper The Guardian last Monday named Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia, to be the 47th most influential person in media in 2010 in their annual MediaGuardian 100 list, for which a panel of judges pick the 100 most influential media personalities of the year.

"Rather than writing about Wales we could simply point you to his Wikipedia entry – but beware of using the website as a single source. Its great strength – that its articles can be written and updated by anyone – can also be its weakness, although inaccuracies, both accidental and deliberate, tend not to last for long. Alabama-born Wales, who made his fortune as a Chicago futures trader, described Wikipedia as a 'charitable humanitarian effort to create and distribute a free high quality encyclopedia to every single person on the planet', one in which 'any reasonable person can join us in writing and editing entries on any topic'".

— The Guardian MediaGuardian 100 2010. Monday 19 July 2010


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Customer satisfaction

I notice that the consistency of the user interface is regarded as one of the reasons for Wikipedia's popularity and wonder whether experts such as those who were responsible for the recent catastrophic skin change will ever get a clue that most users don't like interface changes? Yngvadottir (talk) 02:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

"Catastrophic"? You mean the totally inconspicuous skin change that most people barely noticed at the time and have already forgotten about? +Angr 06:07, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I mean the skin change that broke the site either totally or in important ways (like . . . search) for users of several popular browsers and that was promptly rejected by most registered editors, that turned out to have been beta tested in a manner that did not take into account the needs of unregistered users (i.e. users as opposed to editors) and large minorities in use patterns (such as regular switching between different language wikipedias) or, apparently, quantify how many "tried beta" and promptly rejected it, and that has lost us an unknown number of users and been reverted by a very large number of registered editors - see next comment. How is breaking the site and driving people away not catastrophic? (And the number of negative comments that piled up in at least 4 different places afterwards, despite it being very difficult for nonregistered users - again, these are our customers, this site does not exist for those of us who edit - to find where to leave a comment, speaks to the depth of dissatisfaction with the change.) A story that the Signpost utterly failed to cover, BTW. Yngvadottir (talk) 19:42, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Signpost coverage of Vector/UI rollout:1 - (2009 prelim), 2 - (interwiki links), 3 - (search box), 4 - (logo), and 5 - (current user stats). So, yes, there could have been more, but there certainly was some. I do agree that we should have publicized the link to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/May 2010 skin change better, but there were links to it from a variety of places (Talk:Main page, Village pumps, etc). So, not ideal, but not utter failure either. -- Quiddity (talk) 00:08, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

What is really frightening is the 82 score for Fox News... As far as skin changes go, I went back to Monobrook and tend to forget Vector exists until I have to re-login.. Resolute 13:50, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Phoning up 250 people doesn't sound like a very large sample, I remember from the recent UK general election that a site which rounded up the various polls weighted heavily against any using less than a thousand! Lee∴V (talkcontribs) 19:07, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Lee, you're right. In many situations, 250 would be fine for a sample. But here, it's very tricky. No mention in the original of the demographic, the geographical area(s). Hard to tell. Tony (talk) 03:53, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Wikipedia, Google Translate and Wikimedia's India strategy

There is also a current thread on Foundation-l (Is Google translation is good for Wikipedias?) which has more interesting information. Regards, HaeB (talk) 12:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


As SJ and DG point out, at there are some potentially insightful infographics (and snarky commentary). -- Quiddity (talk) 00:17, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Indeed. Some are also at citizendium:CZ:Statistics. And for my own talk about Citizendium at last year's Wikimania (abstract, slides) I prepared another graph showing the interesting development of the median article length (in words), which has been steadily decreasing since 2007. (That graph ends a year ago, but the trend has continued.) This has to be taken into account when examining the number of articles.
Regards, HaeB (talk) 01:18, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
(Follow-up question and reply at commons:File talk:Lessons from Citizendium.pdf.)
Regards, HaeB (talk) 17:23, 29 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The THE article is also discussed in a thread on the Citizendium forums - it appears that some Citizens were surprised to learn about Sanger's plans from the media.
A glimpse at the work on the Charter, still ongoing after one year, can be had here.
Regards, HaeB (talk) 17:24, 5 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Jimbo named as 47th most powerful person in media

Three cheers for Jimbo! Kayau Voting IS evil 01:26, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Removed section

Article on Censorship censored

The Wikipedia Signpost have decide that you should not be able to read commentary on the problems with censorship. This is the first time commentary has been censored from the Wikipedia Signpost, however, evidently, speaking out against Jimbo Wales' actions in the recent Commons debacle is too controversial.

Since I started editing Wikipedia, I've created literally hundreds of Featured pictures, a dozen or so Featured articles, a couple Featured portals, a featured list, and various other things.

What has my reward been?

I've been harassed, bullied, and generally treated like dirt. An arbcom case was opened by Charles Matthews, then a sitting arbitrator, to punish me for not immediately agreeing to his request to reconsider a block, with no additional information than "I think it's a good idea". I instead sought opinions on ANI, and so Charles Matthews got his friends in the Arbcom to harass me for three months. After two months, they decided that they really should have sought other means of dispute resolution, and opened an RfC... which came out firmly in my decfense. This wasn't what they wanted, so they ignored it, attacked those who spoke out against me, and did what they wanted

It took a year for the Arbcom to finally agree to withdraw the case, replacing it with an apology, and detailing the many procedural and ethical lapses.

More recently, I've been blocked for having an arbcom statement slightly over the limit - while I was in the middle of a lengthy rewrite. The other user I was in dispute with also had a statement over the limit throughout that time... and was never so much as warned.

Wikipedia treats its users like shit, but, ironically, only the long-time experienced users. If you ever begin to become jaded, your upset at Wikipedia will be used to implement more injustices.

Here we see an example. At the start of the news cycle, I wrote an editorial, following the Signpost's stated guideance for such. When it was done, I was told that they no longer publish editorials, and, instead of raising a fuss, I offered to simply publish it as a comment to stories, and the thread discussing it was closed.

Two hours before publication, the editor of the Signpost deleted the comment, without telling anyone. I objected; he had participated in the discussion, and the discussion had been closed for nearly a week, with the comment ready for publication throughout that time. I had dropped my insistence on publication of editorials, or any attempt to revise the article into a non-editorial overview, based on what I had seen as the agreement.

Now, not only is talking about censorship censored, but even a private complaint about at the [ editor making grossly inaccurate personal attacks against me, based on patently false allegations, has been censored.

I quit. Both the Signpost, and Wikipedia.

Adam Cuerden (talk) 09:22, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

With no real knowledge of the issues you speak of, I have to point out: the Signpost isn't the venue for this. This week's story regards only his mention in The Guardian, and complaints about the recent scandal aren't particularly relevant. That's not to say that your point of view should be extinguished, but an essay, RfC, or the Village Pump would be a better approach; the Signpost is a community newspaper and not a blog or political organization. bahamut0013wordsdeeds 13:01, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
[Moving my comment to the newsroom talkpage.] -- Quiddity (talk) 02:17, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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