Submissions/Wikipedia as Platform for Socially Translucent Design Exploration

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is a rejected submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no. 165
Title of the submission

Wikipedia as Platform for Socially Translucent Design Exploration

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

David W. McDonald, Michael Gilbert, Mark Zachry

E-mail address


Dwmc (talk) 20:02, 16 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Country of origin

United States

Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

University of Washington

Personal homepage or blog

David W. McDonald

Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The development of complex collaborative software is fraught with challenges. WikiMedia software overcomes many of those challenges by supporting a range of collaborative actions. Further, the wide range of wikis that rely on WikiMedia software provide a base of diverse and, sometimes, willing users with which to test new features and new capabilities. In short, wikis like Wikipedia that are built on MediaWiki provide a valuable socio-technical platform.

Our on-going research project is exploring the application of socially translucen design principles to MediaWiki as implemented by Wikipedia. Social translucence is a socio-technical term to describe how systems can facilitate sensemaking with regard to the actions of users large complex online environments.

Our stance is that social translucence is not something that can simply be pasted in or bolted on after inital system design. Social translucence should begin at the level of software architecture. The underlying software architecture of a system facilitates observation of different types of user activities within the system, the communications among the processes of the system, as well as the data that is stored and retrieved.

Our talk will include (1) key issues in designing for social translucence, (2) how we have used Wikipedia as a basis for socially translucent system design, and (3) a demonstration of our system, Re:Flex, which presents key editor relationships as they exist in Wikipedia.

We hope to have our system in good enough shape that attendees could use and explore what we have built.


Research, Analysis, and Education (Our work has some connection to the Technology and Infrastructure track, but we don't think our contribution is a direct fit for that track.)

Length of presentation/talk

25 Minutes

Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

Maybe (depends on our research travel funds)

Slides or further information (optional)

The underlying use case for the system is RfA evaluation of an editor. We are about to run some basic user studies of our system. Unfortunately we are not ready to provide general access to the system for the reviewers. We have an unannotated Re:Flex Screen Shot as of March 16, 2012. We recognize that there is a lot going on in the user interface. The talk and demonstration will certainly explain what is going on here.

Special request as to time of presentations

no special request

Interested attendees

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