Bogleheads® Wiki 2009 annual report

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In a departure from the wiki's policy of neutrality, this content presents the personal viewpoint of User:Barry Barnitz.

May 13, 2009 marks the first anniversary of the launching of The Bogleheads Wiki. The wiki was publicly announced on May 21, 2008. The anniversary gives us a chance to pause and take stock of where we stand at present; to reflect on the past year; and look forward to what may come in the future. The future is a nebulous concept with a wiki, since a wiki's direction is determined by the combined efforts of its contributors. It is truly a bottom up enterprise.

Our Wiki statistics page provides us with the following numerical snapshot of the first year of our wiki experiment (as of May 5, 2009):


Statistics Most Viewed Pages Most Viewed Pages (cont'd)
  • Content Pages: 377
  • Views: 490,687
  • Edits: 13,016
  • Average Page Views: 37.70
  • Average Page Edits: 11.08
  • Registered Editors: 87


The estimate of wiki content pages consists of both finished and work-in-progress pages. It does not include "stubs", that is, short articles in need of expansion. Discounting the obvious fact that a wiki main page will be the most highly trafficked page on a wiki, the remaining Most Viewed pages are an indicator of reader interest. Reader access to a page can skew these numbers. For example, the Investing FAQ for the Bogleheads Forum page, and its hyperlinks, receive added traffic due to its placement on the bogleheads.org homepage.

The number of wiki editors represents 0.67% of the forum membership; the number of editors who have actually contributed to the wiki represent 0.33% of the 8,000 forum members who have posted on the forum. While member indifference was surely the major factor in these low wiki participation rates, the fact that the wiki had no direct permanent link on the forum until April 2009 and thus dwelt in relative obscurity for much of its first year also affected participation.

Retrospective: The Year in Review

Personal Reflections

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to all of the following:

  • To Alex Frakt and Larry Auton, for providing the server and software for the wiki;
  • To Ken Schwartz, Piperwarrior, Graviner, Simba, and Mikenz whose early contributions were critical to the creation of the wiki;
  • To Ken Schwartz, who administered the wiki from April to July;
  • To Cyberbob, LadyGeek, and Dan Kohn, among others, for providing technical expertise:
  • And to all those who contributed to the Wiki --Blbarnitz 23:13, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

The early days

The happenstance which led to the creation of The Bogleheads Wiki was casual, nondescript, and unintended. A simple forum post on money market funds triggered interest among a handful of forum members in experimenting with a wiki [see Bogleheads Wiki History and this report's Appendix for details]. A test wiki was established in mid April 2008, and the group of forum members managed to produce 45 wiki pages by month's end. On May 2, the group offered a proposal to the forum administrators requesting the creation of a forum run and operated wiki. This request was granted, and The Bogleheads Wiki was established on May 13, 2008. The small wiki staff migrated the test wiki pages over to the new platform over the next week, finishing this task on May 19. The Wiki was publicly presented on the forum on May 21, 2008.

In addition to learning to adapt to the new wiki platform, the small wiki staff undertook its first substantive project, the transfer of much of the forum's Research Library over to the wiki [see [[Wikifying the Reference Library]]]. This month long endeavor added an additional 90+ pages to the wiki.

The long hot summer

The creation of the wiki coincided with another major forum project, the forum written book The Bogleheads' Guide to Retirement Planning. The book editors informed us that the book would mention and promote the wiki. Given that the book would be published in late 2009 and read by readers in 2010 meant that, to be a credible source for the book's readers, we would have to continually update and refresh the wiki, since most of our wiki pages were authored in early 2008. The dimensions of this problem are clear when one realizes that the wiki had two editors undertaking this task over hundreds of wiki pages. By late fall, as a concession to reality, we deleted the most data intensive pages from the wiki as untenable.

In response to readership complaints concerning site navigation, we introduced navigation templates to the wiki over the summer. Unlike categories, which are automatic in mediawiki, a template must be manually created and edited, so this project (like all wiki projects) took time to implement.

To promote access to the wiki we introduced the "This Week on the Wiki" series of posts on the forum [see Appendix for details]. This series of posts has received reasonable views, inspired occasional comments, and has generated sporadic editor requests. The series was suspended in late February, 2009 due to heavy wiki administrative and editorial commitments during the late winter and early spring.

Fall revival

In mid November, taking a cue from a suggestion by one our forum members, we created and handed out "wiki buttons" for wiki/forum members to include in their forum signatures. In addition to providing a token of appreciation for contributing to the wiki, the buttons finally gave the wiki a physical presence on the forum platform and provided the first direct link to the wiki from the forum. While correlation of effect is not a valid sign of causation, we did begin to receive a trickle of editor applications after introducing the buttons, and a number of the new editors began contributing to the wiki.

The winter of our discontent...

While it is much to early to determine if our present small wiki staff can, like "the sonne of York" make a glorious summer, we can report on some promising major accomplishments executed as our first year draws to an end. Some of our newest editors possess technical skills, allowing us to tap into some of mediawiki's many capabilities. This has allowed us to successfully revamp our wiki Main Page and add copious lists, searches, and thematic link tables to the wiki. We hope these changes make it easier for our readers to navigate, read, and contribute to the wiki.

We also offered to give our Wisdom friends to the North access to our Wiki by creating a Canadian investment section. They politely declined this offer but used it to revive a moribund desire to create their own independent wiki. February 13 saw the welcome launch of our sister Canadian Wiki, Finiki.

Finally, the long anticipated first steps towards integrating the three iterations of the bogleheads.org site came to fruition in April 2009, as forum links to both The Bogleheads Wiki and bogleheads.org were introduced in the two most popular forum styles.

Present projects

Ideas

1) When you see a post you really like, rather than replying with a "+1" or an "I agree", say: "Great post. That should really be a wiki article. Would you like me to add that to the wiki for you?"

2) For people who can't bother to learn a (very easy) new software system, but have an article they know should be on the wiki, they can post it in a forum thread "Should be in the wiki". Then, Barry or I or others can move it over.

3) When you see a question that's been discussed a lot before, please put your answer in the wiki, and then include a link to the article in your forum reply.

Dan Kohn: Ideas- Forum Conversation #444084


Future developments on the wiki depend entirely on what forum members contribute to the wiki. Some of the initiatives being explored by current wiki editors are as follows:

  • Proofreader's Footers: We have added [[Template:Footer |footers]] to pages, giving our readers a way to easily cite wiki pages in forum conversations [see How to Cite at the foot of this report for an example]. The footer also offers a means by which to correct errors, typos, and bad syntax by providing a link for gaining editor access to the wiki, or by notifying an editor about an error. We hope you will participate in this very important task. The easiest way to edit a page is to become an editor, as you can quickly and easily make corrections. If you opt to simply notify us of an error, we will attempt to correct it as soon as possible.
  • Spreadsheets: We have added links to google.doc spreadsheets to the wiki. We are examining ways to offer download and edit capabilities to our spreadsheets. We hope that this addition will appeal to our forum's spreadsheet developers and users.
  • Automated data: We are looking into ways of importing automated updated data into the wiki.

We hope that more of you will avail yourselves of the opportunity to contribute to the wiki as we enter the second year of our experiment. Wiki editor Dan Kohn [see the adjacent quote box] has summed up one of the major imperatives for our enterprise.

Appendix

Bhwikilogo.jpg
Wiki Timeline
  • April 9, 2008: Barry Barnitz set up a wiki on his blog.
  • April 14, 2008: Barry transferred a page on Money Markets over to a newly minted "Bogleheads Wiki" and posted it on the forum.
  • April 15, 2008: Some forum members, picking up on this experimental wiki, expressed support for the notion of wiki along with an interest in joining in the experiment.
  • May 2, 2008: A proposal asking for a forum wiki was presented to the Forum Administrators.
  • May 13, 2008: The Bogleheads Wiki was established. Migration of wiki pages completed May 19.
  • May 21, 2008: The Bogleheads Wiki is publicly launched.
  • June 23, 2008: Bulk of Reference Library incorporated into the wiki.
  • June 23, 2008: "This Week on the Wiki" series of posts begins.
  • July 1 - August 30: Navigation templates created to facilitate horizontal movement through the wiki.
  • November 17, 2008: We initiated the wiki button.
  • February 2, 2009: We offer our Canadian forum members a Canadian category in the wiki.
  • February 13, 2009: The Wisdom launches Finiki.
  • February 15, 2009: The Bogleheads wiki forum was opened for wiki editors.
  • March 6, 2009: We introduced a new portal based front page, with accompanying lists and navigation aids.
  • April 10, 2009: A direct link to the wiki was established on the forum in two forum styles.