I've been thinking about building a website to annotate the world. This concept was inspired by Eden of the East, an Anime I watched a while back (2009... wow, time flies). In the show "Eden of the East" is the name of a mobile application developed by several of the secondary characters. The app can recognize and provide details about objects, and is linked to a user database where people can post pictures to find out what they are. I want to build something like this that allows for the world to annotate photos, videos and audio.

I was talking to my dad yesterday during our car trip about the idea, and he asked the classic question: why would people contribute? Which then got me thinking about Wikipedia. Why do people contribute to Wikipedia?

@alwaysunday reminded me that ReplyAll did a great episode on a Wikipedia contributor. Which then led me to this Medium article about the same guy. The article and the episode are both interesting, but cover the same content of this impressive editor.

Because this is the internet, we have this article by David Golumbia which explains why this guy shouldn't be heralded for his work. But he does go into a lot of good background about contributing to #communities and "the best type of people" to keep in those communities.

Both of these articles quote a talk (and of course don't link to it). The talk proposal is online, as is a video of Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling's talk.

It's quite a good talk. Basically a few Wikimedians analyzed a bunch of interviews of editors to find out why they contributed to Wikipedia in 2011. Some of the reasons they listed that people participate on Wikipedia:

  • People who like Autonomy, #Wikipedia attracts people who like to be able to express whatever interests them.
  • The Jimmy Wales motivational change the world reason tended to only come up when prompted.
  • Topical interests: Someone is already obsessed with a topic, find Wikipedia from Google, finds the article wrong, edits it.
  • People who edit because they know people will use their work.
  • Perfectionists (this is where the quotes from both articles come from, 48:50)
  • The challenge (50 new pages with this thing I like to fix appeared last night)
  • People who like to write, express their talents as a writer
  • Responsibility for content
  • Plain old addiction
  • Feeling of recognition, peer validation
  • Self-expression
  • personal fulfillment

The point they got out of this, which seems like a reasonable outcome, is that Wikipedia needs better tools for editors, because they are for the most part, doing it because they enjoy it.

Something to think about.