I am a user of a fairly large enterprise wiki based on MediaWiki. Recently, a colleague and I were discussing the merits of introducing a graphical editor to our wiki. There are not many options, and the best of these (FCKeditor) is good, but far from perfect. My colleague then referred me to a usability study being conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation (the not-for-profit that serves as the organizer for MediaWiki developers).
This study seems to be focusing on how easy it is for users to edit technically (i.e., using the tool itself). However, one of the results mentioned in a “sneak preview” post jumped out at me. If you’ve read my first few posts on this blog, you’ll know why:
All of our participants are Wikipedia readers, but had little or no experience with editing. Generally the editing process was not a warm and welcoming one…they voiced concerns about the rules, proper etiquette, formatting, and were naturally conscientious of and inhibited by maintaining the community expectations. When a few of them attempted to find answers to their questions about rules and etiquette, they were overwhelmed with the amount of information and documentation they encountered.
While I’m not “glad” that other infrequent and inexperienced users are encountering similar frustrations to those I had, I am encouraged to see official research documenting these shortcomings.