Research report

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Overview

by Cormaggio - september 2005

The m:Wikimedia Research Network is a network of people interested in the development and improvement of Wikimedia's project needs and processes; a sort of long-term planning and steering group. It began in May 2005 with the provision of new roles outlined by Jimmy Wales in a letter to the foundation-l mailing list [1], one of which was Chief Research Officer, which was filled by Erik Möller. Erik then created the Network [2] (originally called the Wikimedia Research Team), and invited anyone interested to get involved and list their individual interests.

These interests are quite diverse, spanning technical, legal, and sociological fields, and projects to reflect and focus these fields are underway. These include issues pertaining to unified single login, article validation, collaboration with universities, and a general user survey to test the "state of the wiki", or rather the various wikis. A privacy policy is also being drafted. There have been three full meetings of the network so far, taking place on IRC, for which full logs are available. They have normally at some point in the meeting split between technical and sociological issues to give a better focus to people with those interests.

As evidenced by the Meta research page, there are many individuals doing research into some aspect of Wikimedia's work, mostly Wikipedia, and the WRN is a chance for people to work together on these ideas. However, the Research Network has come under criticism for potentially stifling these individual projects - though Erik Möller was adamant in setting it up that individuals collaborating on a particular research project would get full credit for their work. Wikimania 2005 was a great opportunity for people to brainstorm and share ideas for projects, many of which have yet to blossom.

The WRN is currently without a central co-ordinator, following Erik Möller's resignation from his role as Chief Research Officer as well as mainly from all other Wikimedia projects. This does not mean, however, that its work is not continuing, but it has given the opportunity for a further reflection on its goals and role in the community, as much as it needs to be done for the CRO position itself. Whatever the current situation, it will certainly be an exciting time to do research into Wikimedia projects as they continue to increase in size and complexity. Of course, any ideas on existing or future projects are always welcome, which you can do on the WRN main page or its talk page.

Announcements

New Chief Research Officer

On the 12 october of 2005, James Forrester has been appointed to the position of Chief Research Officer by Jimmy Wales. The exact nature of the role is in the process of being changed, and initial discussions can be found on Meta.

Chief Research Officer resigns

August 2005 : Erik Möller, the Chief Research Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation has submitted his resignation to the Board, stating that fruitful collaboration is no longer possible due to personal differences and a fundamental disagreement about the nature and scope of the role.

New appointements on the Foundation team

On the 25th of june, Jimbo Wales has announced the appointement of the following people on official positions within the Foundation organigram, and in particular as the Chief Research Officer: Erik Möller

As Jimmy Wales best put it, the board encourages these people to work closely with, and even helps to formulate committees within Wikimedia. These appointed positions do not have any special power within any of those groups, but serve as a point of contact to the Board, and to the community, to ensure that information is flowing between all concerned parties within their own fields of xpertise. The appointment is a reflection of the work these people are already doing in these areas, and should not be seen as a disincentive to others to become involved.