The Struggle to Define Notability: Wikipedia's Battle with Creators and the Balance of Customer Delight & Profits


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Aug 05, 2023

5 min read


The Struggle to Define Notability: Wikipedia's Battle with Creators and the Balance of Customer Delight & Profits

In the vast world of information sharing and documentation, two distinct issues have emerged as significant challenges: defining notability on Wikipedia and balancing customer delight with profits in product development. While these topics may seem unrelated at first glance, they both revolve around the idea of determining what is valuable and worthy of attention in their respective domains.

When it comes to Wikipedia, the struggle lies in deciding which biographical subjects deserve a place on the platform. As a Wikipedia contributor, I am well aware of the controversial nature of this issue. Notability, as a notion, is inherently subjective, and determining the border of a "reliable" secondary source can be a complex task. Additionally, the credibility of publications can vary depending on the country in question.

Out of the 1.7 million biographies on Wikipedia, only 20% feature women. This stark gender disparity highlights the challenges faced by creators, particularly women, in gaining recognition on the platform. Notability, in the context of Wikipedia, is determined by the presence of reputable, secondary media coverage. The more coverage a biographical subject receives from respected sources, the higher the likelihood of their biography being approved.

However, this approach poses its own set of challenges. For instance, what happens when the mainstream publications that typically report on creators and their achievements do not meet Wikipedia's standards of reputation? This was the case with Kkatamina, the third-most followed creator on a popular app with millions of users. While she had significant influence and impact in her field, the publications reporting on her achievements were not deemed reputable enough by Wikipedia's criteria. This raises questions about the reliance on secondary sources and the need to consider alternative forms of recognition.

Content creators, especially in the digital age, have the power to establish their own notability through their work. Their ability to grow their audience and impact is undeniable, with studies showing that 92% of consumers trust an influencer's product recommendation more than a celebrity endorsement. As the Creator Revolution continues to surge forward, it is essential to question the current system and contemplate how creators fit into the future of documentation and history.

One of the central issues with Wikipedia's approach is the gatekeeping of information sharing by a small group of editors, the majority of whom are male. This lack of diversity among editors can influence the content that is deemed notable and worthy of inclusion. As one editor aptly put it, "We cover what reliable sources cover." This highlights the reciprocal relationship between Wikipedia and mainstream media, where each influences the other.

Now, let's shift our focus to the world of product development and the balancing act between customer delight and profits. Netflix provides an intriguing case study in this regard. As the streaming giant sought to decrease customer service calls, they implemented a simple yet effective strategy. On day 28 of the free trial, Netflix sent texts and emails to new customers, reminding them that their trial was about to end and offering an easy cancellation option. This small intervention resulted in a significant improvement in subscribers' monthly cancel rate, decreasing it from 10% to 2% over two decades.

Netflix's success in balancing customer delight with profit can be attributed to their DHM model: Delight customers in Hard-to-copy, Margin-enhancing ways. Rather than succumbing to the temptation of buying excessive copies of newly released DVDs to handle short-term demand, Netflix opted for a long-term optimization strategy. This meant that some customers had to wait a week or two to receive new releases, but the company ensured that they received other movies from their list in the meantime. By evaluating the balance between delight and margin, Netflix made strategic decisions that aligned with their long-term goals.

However, the journey to finding this balance is not without its challenges. Netflix discovered that what customers say and what they actually do can be different. A/B testing, which measures behavior change, became a crucial tool for understanding customer preferences and values. It became evident that investing in features that customers truly valued was essential. Failure to do so resulted in a drop in paid conversion from 90% to 85%, translating to a significant loss of $50 million.

A/B testing, while valuable, is not without limitations. It cannot measure all the factors that influence customer behavior and decision-making. This is where judgment and strategic frameworks like the DHM model come into play. Product leaders must make decisive decisions, particularly in low-stakes scenarios, to avoid creating ambiguity and delay. By delighting customers in hard-to-copy, margin-enhancing ways, they can ensure long-term success.

In conclusion, the struggle to define notability on Wikipedia and the challenge of balancing customer delight with profits in product development are two complex issues that share common threads. Both require careful consideration of what is valuable and worthy of attention. For Wikipedia, the subjectivity of notability and the reliance on secondary sources raise questions about inclusivity and recognition. In product development, the need to understand customer preferences and values while maintaining profitability is paramount.

To navigate these challenges effectively, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace diversity: In the case of Wikipedia, ensuring a diverse group of editors can help overcome biases and broaden the definition of notability. Different perspectives and experiences can contribute to a more inclusive platform.
  • 2. Prioritize customer value: Product leaders should invest in features and experiences that align with what customers truly value. A/B testing can provide valuable insights, but judgment and strategic frameworks like the DHM model should guide decision-making.
  • 3. Be decisive: In low-stakes scenarios, avoid postponing decisions and creating ambiguity. Gather necessary data, but don't delay progress. Decisiveness is crucial for maintaining momentum and ensuring timely innovation.

As the Creator Revolution continues to shape our digital landscape and as product development evolves, these challenges will persist. It is up to us, as contributors and decision-makers, to find innovative and inclusive solutions that honor the value of creators and delight customers while maintaining profitability.

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