Monday, December 24, 2007

2007: The Year in Review

2007 was a very exciting year at en.wikibooks. Here is a brief recap:
  • Permissions: 3 new checkusers were promoted this year, bringing the total to 5. 8 new admins were promoted, for a total of about 29. I say "about" because we have a policy of desysopping inactive administrators, and several we desysopped this year. No new bureaucrats have been promoted, we currently have 4. Some users were nominated for Oversight, but the community voted not to allow oversight access. We discussed the creation of an Arbcom, but the community voted it down.
  • Policy: A number of changes, additions, and modifications were made to our policy pages. We updated policies concerning administrators, and we also made a number of changes to our inclusion criteria. Wikijunior inclusion criteria were completely revamped.
  • Appearance: The main page of our project was discussed on many occasions, and has been fixed/updated/modified regularly. Our primary discussion area, the "staff lounge" was completely reformatted, and was renamed the "Reading Room". A new designation called "featured books" was created, and has been very successful. We now have about 62 featured books, and more are added regularly. All the old message box templates were updated by stealing the template design from Wikipedia. Thanks Wikipedia!
  • Help: The "Help" pages, which have traditionally been an eyesore, have undergone a number of edits and improvements. Additionally, a number of new help books, and an entire help bookshelf have been created.
  • Organization: We added several new namespaces, including "Wikijunior:", and "Subject:" spaces. Old manual organization schemes, including the Bookshelves are being phased out in favor of category and DPL-based organizational schemes. Mass-categorization bots and volunteer efforts have been utilized to organize books alphabetically, by Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress numbers, and by subject.
  • Logo: A long-running logo discussion was stalemated in June because of last-minute problems in the color scheme of the selected logo. A new logo selection process was started in October and is expected to continue into 2008. A discussion has also been started to select the first official logo for Wikijunior.
  • Milestones: In 2007, we crossed some important milestones: 1 million edits, 90,000 total pages, 25,000 non-stub book pages, 8,000 uploaded media files, 60,000 user accounts. Some people estimate that we now have more then 5000 books, although this number is difficult to count accurately because old books are not always properly linked and categorized.
  • Donations: Wikibooks received a number of book donations, including 24 e-books from the United Nations.
  • Bots: A number of bots, automated and semiautomated clients, and other tools have been added to our roster for handling various tasks. Among these are page, book, and image categorization, discussion archiving, discussion aggregation, and other repetitive tasks. Several wikibooks users have adopted AWB and Pywikipediabot for various purposes. A bot policy was drafted and discussed, but never fully accepted.
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list of things that happened, only what I can remember and what I can easily find in the archives. It was, however, a very interesting year for Wikibooks, and I am hopeful that 2008 is even better.

Page Counts

It's been an interesting year in terms of page hit counting, to say the least. Wikibooks is being analyzed by the wikicharts page counter, and aggregated results are being kept on Wikibooks. These results are compiled per-book, and only the top 5o books are listed. Statistics have been running for about 3 months now, although only pages in the main namespace and the Wikijunior namespace are being kept. This means that hits to the [[Cookbook]] (which now has it's own namespace) are not being kept, nor are discussions in the talk or Wikibooks namespaces. Some people have suggested expanding the page counter to include these other spaces, but I dont know if there is enough interest to warrant it.

Here are some general pieces of information that we have gathered in 3 months of statistics keeping. Keep in mind that all these results are computed statistically, and are subject to my interpretation:

  1. en.wikibooks seems to get about 90K-110K page hits per month. This is only for the top 500 pages. This comes down to about 3000 hits per day. I think this is a reasonable, if low, estimate of readership
  2. Our three best books, consistently, are [[Blender 3D: Noob to Pro]], [[LaTeX]], and [[Human Physiology]]. Combined, these three books seem to get about 30K-35K hits per month. That's about 100 hits per day.
  3. The Main Page gets about 10K-15K hits per month (350 hits per day)
  4. Wikijunior, including the Wikijunior main page and all Wikijunior books, only seem to get about 1500 hits per month or less. Wikijunior books are rarely in the top 50 most popular books, despite our advertising efforts.
  5. For some reason, [[How to solve the Rubik's Cube]] is the 4th most popular book, for the last three months. It gets about 1 page hit per day or more. This single-page "book" is relatively lousy as far as books go, and it is edited relatively infrequently. [[How to use a Motorola DVR]] also gets an unbelievably high page hit count. Combined, these books get about 4000 hits per month.
These results are very interesting, to say the least, and it's helping us on Wikibooks to focus our attention on pages that people are reading the most. These results are limited, however. Some people have suggested installing Google Analytics as an opt-in gadget with our fancy new gadgets extension, although support for that has been luke-warm at best. We've also been promised that Wikicharts is going to be improved in the future, so that's something to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gadgets Extension

The gadgets extension was installed on all Wikimedia wikis yesterday, and already wikibookians have installed over a dozen javascript gadgets. With this addition has come a major refactoring, not only of global javascripts, but also of individual user's javascripts. Functions and features that had previously been global are being converted into optional gadgets. This way, users who do not want these features do not need to load them.

Several of our users had interesting personal scripts, and these are slowly being converted into gadgets as well. In this way, one person's hard work can be shared with the rest of the community quickly and easily. Scripts that once had to be installed by all users manually are now being removed in favor of global, gadget-based solutions.

I think that this extension is going to play a big role at Wikibooks, because users who are not javascript saavy can benefit from many enhancements, additions, and modifications that our more advanced users have been implementing for a long time. I think it's a great addition, and I'm happy that it's been installed on Wikibooks and all other Wikis.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quick Logo Update

Just a quick update today about the Wikibooks and Wikijunior logo selection processes. Things are going generally well. There are currently 15 logo submissions for Wikibooks, but only 4 submissions for Wikijunior logos. We have seen a few submissions in the past few days, so I am hopeful that many more will come before we stop accepting submissions and move to the first voting phase.

This vote is most important for Wikijunior, which has never had an official logo. It's for this reason that I would like to see many more submissions for this, so we have a large selection to choose from. I know that there are some fantastic artists in Wikimedialand, so I'm hoping that we see a lot of great submissions in the coming days and weeks.

We haven't set any firm deadlines on when we will stop accepting submissions either, and since there have been so few submissions we are probably going to wait for a while yet before we try to move to the next phase.

Also, the logo submission rules for Wikibooks have been translated into german. If other people are willing to make translations into other languages as well, it would be a great help.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Multilingual Wikibooks

Wikibooks is already multilingual you say. Wikibooks is offered in over 100 languages. However, a new multilingual Wikibooks project has been proposed on meta that would act as a staging ground for multilingual work and coordination.

Think of a project where:
#Book translation projects could be coordinated
#Multilingual books, such as books on how to speak one language written in another, could be produced (or edited)
#Books could be donated and converted into wikitext (and then possibly translated into many languages)

Where commons is a multilingual media project, this proposal could be a multilingual book project. There is a growing demonstration of this new multilingual Wikibooks on the incubator wiki. It's an interesting idea that I hope gets some good attention in the next few weeks/months.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wikibooks Research

While doing some cleanup rounds the other day, I stumbled onto a book project being conducted on Wikibooks by Professor Curtis Bonk, from Indiana University. Professor Bonk, with whom I've had the pleasure of helping on other occasions has been studying Wikibooks, and Wikibookians for some time, and has even written some papers about us. I wrote about Professor Bonk in August. His website contains the lion's share of his information, but I've also been given copies of other papers he's been working on, and I've been informed that he is planning another study of Wikibookians, for which he needs volunteers.

In 2005 he did a study called "A Window on Wikibookians", and found out some neat demographic information about out little project. The majority (39%) of Wikibookians polled were between the ages of 18 and 25). Only 5% were over the age of 50. Strikingly, only 2.5% of Wikibookians polled were female. 50% had a bachelors degree or better, of which 54% had a graduate degree of some kind. 42% of surveyed Wikibookians were employed as teachers or professors.

Wikibookians who contributed to other WMF projects:
  • Wikipedia: 98%
  • Wiktionary: 34%
  • Wikinews: 19%
  • Wikiquote: 18%
  • Wikiversity: 14%
  • Wikijunior: 11%
Professor Bonk has been busy recently writing a few books on Wikibooks, such as [[The Practice of Learning Theories]], and [[Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies]]. You always hear about people doing cool research about Wikipedia, it's good to hear people doing the same for Wikibooks too.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


a new checkser candidate has been nominated, our first in a while. We at en.wb have 4 checkusers already, and some people say that this is enough. However, there are strong suspicions that we could be down to two of them within a year, and that's not even the worst case scenario.

Our first checkuser votes took several months to produce a positive result, and there were some nominations that were open for an entire year before being closed as futile. However, things have come a long way since then, and in less then a week our newest candidate is already getting close to the 25 vote minimum.

We've had some very active CUs, and some very diligent vandal fighters on Wikibooks, and we've seen a steady decline in vandalism because of them. This is, I think one of the big reasons why Wikibooks has seen so much growth recently.