New(ish) Work: Wikimedia Foundation

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Last year, I was engaged by the Wikimedia Foundation to do a usability and community deep dive into their Wikimedia Commons platform, thinking about how it might be improved or adapted with a critical eye on:

  • what the system is like for new folks,
  • how new institutional partners could be attracted,
  • a sideways glance at the Structured Data Commons initiative, and
  • some dreaming about what a future of the Commons platform could be like.

As well as an internal presentation to the WMF crew, I ended up writing a public-facing version of the work, How could Wikimedia Commons be improved? A conversation with designer George Oates, that was published in October 2018.

I ended up becoming really interested three main things:

  1. Differences in the administrative feel of different language communities,
  2. The diversity challenges faced by the platform, and especially comparing the way the “elders” of the community governed with how the community at Flickr managed to get along without too many car crashes. Very interesting to compare those two different, huge communities to see how different they are, and
  3. Organic vs top-down information systems and how that plays out in the intense Commons “category” system, a topic that’s dear to my heart.

It was super interesting and complex.

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