The following is a post I've put up on the India Program page on meta regarding
outreach (Please see:http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:India_Program/Outreach_Programs
Please do comment on the page itself; I'm posting it on this mailing list only to make
sure it doesn't slip your attention.
We have conducted over 13 outreach sessions in the past one month and have many more
events scheduled to participate in over the coming weeks. (Please see:
It's amazing that we're doing so many outreach events all over the country to
create awareness about Wikipedia, motivate attendees to learn about editing and training
newbies to contribute to Wikipedia in their own special way.
The single biggest challenge is that we don't know the actual outcome of these efforts
in most cases, and the results are weak when we have the data. I think most of us agree
that outreach can be made to work better. (For example, 2 outreach sessions conducted
recently by the Assamese community had about 80 participants, and 8 active editors emerged
- which is a hit rate of 10% - which is FANTASTIC!) For most other sessions, the results
have been closer to 1-2% or even lower - which is depressing. What makes outreach work?
How can outreach work better? Is there anything you need from me?
Over the past 3 months, I have been working on building a handbook for Outreach (Please
) where you
can get presentation material and tips. Please do go through it and help me build it.
My post consists of 5 (deliberately) provocative statements on the day of and the days
after an outreach session. These are framed with the objective of generating debate and
THE DAY OF
Hypthesis 1: Don't Shoot the Puppy: Outreach is not being done effectively and we
aren't adequately introspecting on what we can do better; instead choosing to lose
faith in attendees
Should we discontinue general introduction sessions completely and just convert everything
into Wiki workshops? Every second of volunteer time is precious and we need to make sure
that every second is made to count. The good sessions appear to be those where people are
actually shown how to edit - rather than just doing a song-and-dance about Wikipedia.
The best sessions are those where people have actual hands-on editing opportunity. Shall
we limit the intro session on Wikipedia to just 15 minutes and then spend 45 minute on
basic editing, 30 minutes on hand-on editing and leave 30 minutes for Q&A?
Not everyone is a natural presenter and might need help on basic outreach skills. Is there
value and interest in a capacity building roadshow where we help existing editors who want
to improve their outreach and presentation skills? Is it useful to pair up a good
presenter with a not-so-confident presenter when we are doing outreach?
THE DAY AFTER
Hypothesis #2: Staying in Touch: We assume the job is complete after the outreach session
when in fact the journey has only just begun
Can we gather (basic) information about attendees (e.g., names, usernames & email
IDs?) so that we can stay in touch with them after sessions?
Can we get feedback on sessions (duration, level of detail, quality of presenters, etc.?)
so that we can all improve? Do we need some sort of CRM solution for this or will
something like Google Docs suffice?
How do we get more folks to actually provide their contact details and feedback? Which of
the following will get higher response rates: asking for these just before the end,
immediately after the end or the day after a session?
Hypothesis #3: Nudge-Nudge: Newbies struggle with the most basic things - including which
article to select
Should we send links to useful wiki pages and tutorial videos where they can read up more
about how Wikipedia works and how to edit Wikipedia? Can we leave handouts on basic
editing after all sessions? Can we send them links to the actual presentations made at
Can we suggest / elicit potential articles that individual newbies will work on after the
workshop? Can we give them individual pointers on what they can do with each article by
reviewing them there-and-then during the session?
Can we schedule a follow-up session (even if virtually using google+ hangout) to clarify
any doubts about Wikipedia editing or otherwise - maybe 2 weeks after a session?
Hypothesis #4: Loneliness - Newbies feel alone and the only time they sense the community
is when their edits get reverted
Should we not encourage them to join project pages (such as the WP:INDIA) and/or the India
mailing list and/or their city/language mailing list to get involved with the community?
Can we involve them in COTM or conduct specific editathons for them?
Can we celebrate their successes and get newbies to talk to other newbies about how they
Hyptothesis #5: Black Hole: No one has a clue about the actual results of outreach
Can we regularly monitor number & % of active editors after 1 and 3 months of
conducting all events? Can we figure out % of mainspace edits from these newbies after 1
and 3 months? Can this be analysed to provide recommendations on how we can do things
Can we actively reach out to those who look like they are struggling? Do we need a CRM
tool for something like this?
Is it useful to track and attempt to co-relate age / profession / subject (if student) /
sex of participants to figure out what is likely to give greatest results?
I have been working to see how can we overcome these challenges and make our outreach
efforts far more effective. I'd love to hear from on the above. Some of you have been
actively involved in outreach sessions (attending or conducting or planning) an I'd
like to know your thoughts and suggestions which might serve as solutions for this set of
very real challenges.