In part of my, "make tag wikis awesome in 2012 initiative" I am looking at ideas that would improve the quality, quantity and exposure of tag wikis.

In theory, we could allow for bounties on tag wikis. The mechanics are a bit sketchy but the gist is.

  • Allow user to place a bounty on tag wikis
  • Users edit the wiki during the bounty period.
  • At the end of the process the person who placed the bounty can pick a "winner" or distribute the bounty amongst the editors.
  • We remain totally transparent about what happened so it can be audited for gaming and other nasties.

Is this a good idea? A bad idea? Waffles?

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Sure, a lot of the tag wikis are pretty crap, or non-existent. Also, rewarding people for creating tag wikis will also cause them to find those oddball tags that shouldn't exist and indirectly clean up the site a little. And strawberry waffles please, hold the syrup. –  animuson Jan 19 '12 at 6:37
Nordic-style waffles with fresh whipped cream and cloudberry jam. (It's not a jelly; it's full of delicious fruit bits.) –  Donal Fellows Jan 19 '12 at 11:22
I really like this idea. If more tag wikis looked like this one, people might find more value in visiting them. –  Tim Post Jan 19 '12 at 12:40
@Tim wow. That one looks really cool. –  Pëkka Jan 19 '12 at 14:17
@TimPost - Amazingly useful things like that are a huge help to the rest of the world, both for people new to the domain, as well as experts who may not have ventured into a particular corner before. Thanks for shining some light on such a great resource. –  cdeszaq Jan 19 '12 at 14:40
Note, regarding the Scala wiki, here's the original meta dump (10k only), Bill introduced it in the tag wiki here (which was quite empty prior). The credit for it (at the original version) goes to @Antoras. People have been building on it since. If bounties could kick wikis off in a similar way, I'm all for it :) –  Tim Post Jan 19 '12 at 15:14
Let’s at least make new tags have a useful Wiki, why not hide any newly created tags until a Wiki has been written and approved? –  Ian Ringrose Jan 19 '12 at 15:31
Perhaps you should make the tag wiki page itself more awesome, which would hopefully lead to people investing more time into it... –  Ivo Flipse Jan 19 '12 at 15:50
What is the status of this? Planned? Declined? Waffled? –  Shadow Wizard Jan 24 '12 at 10:19
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4 Answers

Edit: Tim Stone's comments conviced me that this (offering bounties) might indeed be worth a shot. But some points in this answer still stand, so I'm leaving it here.

I like the idea, I really do.

But I'm not sure whether it addresses the real issue: That Tag Wikis (at least to me) still feel like a suburb that isn't connected to the big city's transportation network, living in the shadow of a motorway. People from other parts of the city never see occasion to drive there; if you'll forgive the unfair and polemic comparison, Tag Wikis are a bit like a public library - dedicated volunteers keep it running, everyone knows they should go there to learn stuff, but very few actually do.

I'm not claiming I have a perfect answer for what to do, though. Maybe the tag main page and the tag wiki page need to be fused even more for them to become really prominent parts of the site? The sketch I made for the "portals" suggestion (now sadly gone due to difficulties with the CDN used by the sketching tool :( ) hinted at that a bit. IIRC, what it featured was

  • Show the most frequent FAQs in the tag page sidebar
  • Show top users in the tag page sidebar
  • Show jobs from careers in the tag page sidebar
  • Show excerpts from the tag wiki in the tag page's head (this is already being done)
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It's amazing how so many smart people are still at a bit of a loss when it comes to actually getting people to read the darn things. Even still, if a tag wiki has a huge list of canonical questions organized by topic, it would be of great use to people that cast close votes. Even if 70% of users don't read them, I think this feature would still help. –  Tim Post Jan 19 '12 at 15:31
@Tim yeah. My point is that more traffic to tag wikis might help grow a more stable culture of participation than one-time bounties would - but true, if the main tags somehow manage to reach the quality of the Scala one through a few contributions, that would already be an immense achievement. –  Pëkka Jan 19 '12 at 15:45
What I'm hoping for here is (in general) "almost every time I check out a tag wiki, it's awesome! Wow, I didn't even need to ask my question that got asked in a different form 600 other times!" (regex, I'm looking at YOU). Tag wikis are visible, new users just don't seem to care about them (which I suspect) or find them at all. Maybe this would help fix the 'don't care' aspect so we can figure out how much of a visibility problem they really have. –  Tim Post Jan 19 '12 at 16:18
@Tim that is a good argument. Offering bounties might indeed help there. –  Pëkka Jan 19 '12 at 17:09
I totally agree with your concern there @Pekka I am looking at adding a top level "info" tab on questions/tagged ... so it is right there ... got some other ideas as well. Agree that tag wikis need to be more of a destination ... the right column is mostly filler ... it can be way better. –  waffles Jan 19 '12 at 22:34
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I'm a little sceptical about whether the incentivisation introduced by bounties is 100% compatible with the collaborative editing inherent in the tag wikis.

Presumably the mechanics of editing the tag wiki would remain the same when a bounty was in place, by which I mean that the wiki would be collaboratively edited by multiple users? (As opposed to each user being able to propose their own version, as they do when answering questions).

With a fat bounty on offer, isn't there a reasonable chance that the collaborative editing would in fact not be collaborative at all and degenerate into an edit war?

Consider two users, A and B:

  • User A makes a great edit to a tag wiki
  • User B arrives and decides to cull user A's contribution, replacing it/substantially changing it in an effort to bag the bounty
  • User B would not be happy with this and would roll back user A's edit and/or substantially re-edit in kind

I'm not suggesting that we'll suddenly have an epidemic of tag wiki vandalism. It might just be that two users have differing opinions on a definition for the tag and feel strongly enough to "correct" each other.

Meanwhile, other users might be put off from joining in; and the bounty offerer has the difficult task of selecting a winner from the debris.

Therefore I think the ability to flag a tag wiki to a moderator's attention would be a sensible feature if we start offering bounties on tag wikis, so that we can at least police the flurry of editing activity.

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I disagree with the ability to flag a tag wiki for moderator attention. Right now, we have one gaming aspect of the site tied to moderation, flag weight, and quite frankly, it's a disaster when you combine the two. Now, if another gaming aspect involving reputation is tied to moderator function, it's going to be apocalyptic. I have no problem with gaming functions on the site, but when you tie them to moderator behavior, it pulls them away from protecting the primary focus of the site. A moderator's primary duty is to the content, not the game. –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 15:31
@casper How would it be any different to having the ability to flag an edit war on a question/answer for moderator attention (which we already have)? –  razlebe Jan 19 '12 at 15:51
It's not different with the exception that reputation is tied to it. (which is huge). When there's an edit war, there's no gaming element tied to the action (maybe a badge is involved, but we can't take away badges, you can go and do other things to earn them). If any amount of rep is involved, it puts moderators in power of influencing the game in a greater way. Granted, we can do that now, but with limited effect, and usually, only in the most extreme circumstances. Broadening that in even the slightest way should be done with extreme care. –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 15:57
@casper I respect your insight as a mod at the sharp end of dealing with these things. If you're right then I am truly sceptical of any bounty-driven system for incentivising tag wiki edits. If it can't be policed, it's an invitation to game it in the worst way. –  razlebe Jan 19 '12 at 16:03
Thank you for the comments. I think that I've fleshed out enough to make it it's own answer, so I'll post that from a moderator's (mine, not all moderator's) point of view in a bit. –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 16:57
@casperOne the flag weight game is something we are going to kill, I hate the game and it is going to die. The need for flagging and locking is a totally valid concern imho. At the moment activity is so low it does not matter. –  waffles Jan 19 '12 at 22:39
@waffles I'm asking for clarification just because I don't want my hopes dashed, when you say the flag weight game, do you mean flag weight in general, or do you mean flags on the tag-wiki? If the former, would you elaborate in a meta post (or an answer) or TL please? –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 22:43
@waffles And I don't have a problem with flags, I have a problem with the tie to gaming, just to be clear, it's obvious that flags need to exist and moderators need to tend to them. –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 22:44
@waffles I'm glad that flag weight is going to be killed. I'd suggest moving to a number of flags and %age of helpful flags based metrics instead, which is a lot more indicative of quality of flagging, yet avoids the current whinings. Oh, wait. I already did suggest that indirectly, and more directly to Jeff, which just resulted in all my comments being nuked right away. I'd also suggest renaming "Citizen Patrol" to "Raymond Chen" –  Lorem Ipsum Jan 19 '12 at 22:59
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I would want to have waffles an option to click Tags, select Featured tab and get to the tag that gives me a chance to earn some bounty for editing it.

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+1 for hand-drawn circles, -1 b/c they aren't red –  cdeszaq Jan 19 '12 at 14:41
Seriously, let's get pro people, replace HTML inline in Chrome and make a proper screen mockup. And I agree with @cdeszaq, that green is awful. Red is the proper color for hand-drawn circles. –  casperOne Jan 19 '12 at 15:28
@gnat this is a great idea ... I like –  waffles Jan 19 '12 at 22:40
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Rather than a "traditional" bounty system where there is a "winner", how about a system that indicates "User X will be awarding ### points to the most useful edits that are made before YYYMMDD." Then, once the edit period is over, that user can assign (or not assign) points as (s)he sees fit to individuals that made edits over the allotted time period.

I agree with @razlebe that the collaborative wiki aspect makes the tag wiki bounty system rather different from the QA bounty system since there isn't really a "winner" or a "best edit". Instead, there is a sliding scale of relative usefulness, and I think being able to dole out the "bounty" in a well-constrained fashion reflects this a bit better than a traditional bounty.

Obviously the level of complexity for this sort of a model is much higher than just a single winner getting an award, but a tag wiki is also (in my opinion) much more complex than just a question/answer.

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yes ... I like this suggestion –  waffles Jan 19 '12 at 22:40
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