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Submissions/Real-Time Collaborative Editing

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Real-Time Collaborative Editing
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)

Will start with a brief presentation of an UX design for real-time collaborative wikitext editing (10 minutes) then participants will discuss issues raised.

Author of the submission
C. Scott Ananian (cscott)
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Collaboratively writing or editing an article can be an awkward process on a mediawiki. For new editors, the wiki is an empty place: all the other readers, editors, and authors are invisible. Even the article text is surprisingly fluid: while you were writing a supporting argument, someone else stole the thesis statement.

Real-time collaborative editing can help! Of course, there are difficult questions to solve: how do I find other editors? How do we record the "author" of a revision we wrote together? Within a session, how can I keep track of who wrote what, and who decides when we're done?

We have some initial attempts to answer these questions. The TogetherJS extension lets you try real-time collaborative editing today. And we'll review the user interface designs we presented at Wikimania 2014 which more thoroughly integrated collaboration into the viewing and editing process.

But there are lots of questions left. How do we find collaboration partners? How do we handle out-of-band discussion of the article being edited? Should we archive that discussion? Should we store drafts? When is the draft "finished"?

Floating further afield, we might imagine a Wikipedia with "circles of friends" and which highlighting content contributed by your "friends", richer revision annotations to preserve multi-party authorship information, persistent site-wide chat, and real-time updates to articles without page reloads. What would Wikipedia look like as a real-time community hub: where the people behind the pages are visible and available, and reading an article is interactive with the topic-focused community maintaining it?

Of course, all these new abilities will also introduce new types of bad actors. If real-time chat is pervasive, how do we handle harassment? What happens when your real-time editing session is invaded by vandals? If your presence is observable, how do we prevent stalking? Will visible authorship information incubate a "cult of personality" around editors? Will folks want to make meaningless edits just to have their name show up as having contributed?

Is the slow deliberative pace and anonymous character of editing actually a feature, not a bug? Is the pursuit of social features and immediate interaction a slippery slope?

At last year's Wikimedia we spent an hour presenting various ideas, designs, and code for real-time collaboration. Over the past year I hope that attendees have been thinking about the issues raised. This year I would like to turn the tables and, after briefly reviewing some of the content from our 2014 presentations, open the floor for discussion. How should collaboration work? How can we solve its problems? Let us begin to discover "social media with Wikipedia characteristics".

  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Slides from the discussion at Wikimania 2015


Etherpad: https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/Collab15

Special requests

Shouldn't conflict with other Parsoid team talks (Submissions/Wikitext_is_broken,_long_live_wikitext_(2.0); will add more if the team submits more talks).

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

  1. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 11:16, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Adamw (talk) 18:37, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Ocaasi (talk) 23:51, 4 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. guillom (talk) 23:55, 7 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. MarkAHershberger (talk) 10:24, 8 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Varnent (talk) 22:04, 8 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 06:47, 23 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Trizek (WMF) (talk) 15:47, 8 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Poco a poco (talk) 08:52, 12 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Maximo Perez Rivas (talk) 17:37, 16 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Ale201093 (talk) 2:56, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  12. NickK (talk) 04:57, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  13. MRG90 (talk) 21:00, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]