MediaWiki research: should we show the users when the page was last modified?

Wikimedia Foundation and community put very much effort in self-research. That’s obvious: Wikipedia is unique and there is nothing to compare it with.Today I’m going to talk about one of such projects, the small one. The project is related to the small timestamp that is now located in the very bottom of the website. The timestamp shows when the page was last modified.

Wikipedians got interested how the location of this timestamp can affect the user’s behavior on the wiki. For wiki projects it vitally important that users understand that they can edit pages. Why is that? Because most of the time the users produce the value of the wiki. So probably the intuition in this research was the following: if I can show the users that the page they are viewing not is an ever-changing object, this users will be able to feel that it can be edited by him.

So they tried to move the timestamp from the very bottom of the page to its right upper corner and make it clickable.

The result was that users started to click more on article revision history tab. The revision history is not a particularly nice place to see for non-technical-savvy user in my opinion but still I believe that some users were able to understand what it is. It was very¬†disappointing for me to see that the researches haven’t measured the correlation between the page edits and the new position of the timestamp, but they said that it was probably not very big anyway.

This experiment is one of the Editor engagement experiments that are all related to the users’ motivation to partitipate Wikimedia projects.