Dear All,

The following is a post I've put up on the India Program page on meta regarding outreach (Please see: 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 see: 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 suggestions.


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


Hypothesis #2: Staying in Touch: We assume the job is complete after the outreach session when in fact the journey has only just begun

Hypothesis #3: Nudge-Nudge: Newbies struggle with the most basic things - including which article to select

Hypothesis #4: Loneliness - Newbies feel alone and the only time they sense the community is when their edits get reverted

Hyptothesis #5: Black Hole: No one has a clue about the actual results of outreach

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.