Kittens and beer for everyone!
Wikipedia is now an undeniably good source of information on almost any topic. In order to continue improving, the community-edited site needs a continuous flow of volunteer editors willing to put time and energy into making new edits. And studies show that people are more willing to do that if they have been shown support by other people on the site.
Wikipedia's getting pretty well-filled out, so compliments are getting harder to come by and criticism is more available than ever. In order to step up the love, Wikipedia announced tonight that it has begun experimenting with and plans on pushing site-wide on Wednesday a new feature: the WikiLove Button.
The WikiLove Button is live on the Wikipedia test site right now and if all goes well it will go site-wide on Wednesday the 29th. It appears in the right hand corner of each user's page, in the form of a little red heart. Users are encouraged to click the button when they come across edits or other on-site activity that deserves commendation.
A click of the button will result in the launch of a Love Interface, in which the button clicker is presented a number of options for what kind of love to send and images to append to a free-text compliment area. The resulting declaration of support is published to the receiving user's account discussion page.
It's all semi-structured and closely monitored by the top nerds at Wikipedia in order that a more hospitable environment can be optimized.
I think it sounds like a very good idea. This kind of gentle social engineering to create a structure for the site that's more welcoming, accessible and effective could help produce a better product for us all (more edited Wikipedia content) and could help the site better serve us as people. Ultimately that is the point of all this, right?
Below: Semantic analysis of message text concludes that Wikipedians are too seldom nice and that they need a button.