[Foundation-l] A fundraiser for editors

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Tue Jan 3 23:08:12 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jan 2, 2012 at 8:53 AM, James Heilman <jmh649 at gmail.com> wrote:
> The fundraiser for money has been working exceedingly well with our
> number of donors increasing 10 fold since 2008. What we need now is a
> fundraiser for editors. I meet well educated professionals who use
> Wikipedia but have no ideas that they can edit it. We need to run a
> banner with the same energy we use to raise money to raise editor
> numbers. This idea has been trialed to a limited extent here
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Invitation_to_edit but the
> effort did not have sufficient data crunching behind it to determine
> if it works.


thanks for this note! The problem, as I see it, is that we know that
new editors, once they attempt to make their first edit, hit an
enormous number of barriers. Even if they master mark-up (which is a
big IF), they're likely to fail when their edits get reverted due to
lack of proper citations or other issues.

We built http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:FeedbackDashboard as a
way to surface what frustrations new editors have. Ignoring the noise
(people who shouldn't edit or who're trying to do harm), you'll get
the same issues again and again:
- basic editing is very hard
- communication via talk pages is very confusing
- copyright issues are complicated and unfamiliar
- article rejections or reverts feel arbitrary and unfair
- finding the right way to upload images is complicated

It's now possible to help those users with a built-in response tool,
and it's possible for new users to mark these responses as helpful or
not. Over time, this may surface easy ways in which the community can
ease the pain of new users. (FeedbackDashboard is on English and Dutch
Wikipedia and on Incubator. We're happy to install it on more wikis,
but it probably won't work well in smaller communities due to lack of

There are certain types of new user recruitment which do _not_ hit as
many issues. One is the high-touch recruitment at universities via
assignment or other means. It requires a fair amount of effort per
student, but provided that the preconditions are right, those students
tend to turn out high-quality work. The biggest issues have been in
India where the quality of edits was much lower than hoped for. See:
and related links -- again, there's lots of opportunity here to help
these students.

A second area is multimedia campaigns. While finding the right way to
upload is hard when you're a new user, if you point people directly at
a customized UploadWizard at Commons, the success rate is pretty high.
This has been demonstrated by community/chapter campaigns like "Wiki
Loves Monuments 2011" (~180,000 photos) and "TamilWiki Media Contest
(~5,500 photos so far), which have brought lots of new users into the

I'd love to hear other successes/failures. I'm skeptical about a
sitenotice/banner-focused approach until we've addressed some of the
_known_ issues that new users are likely to encounter. We could
shortcut things a little by focusing a lot on mentoring tools, but IMO
that would be more band-aid -- we need to address the fundamental
issues. Here are some of the things we're doing:

1) Steven and Maryana in the Community Department have been running
tests to see if different types of warning messages reduce people's
early frustration and increase their retention:

2) The Feedback Dashboard itself has response mechanisms, including
now a "Mark as Helpful" feature for new users to quickly acknowledge
whether a given response has been useful to them.

3) The Visual Editor, once completed, will hopefully reduce a huge
amount of the basic usability challenges people encounter. Projects
like UploadWizard help with that, as well.

4) Tools like AFTv5 potentially offer a casual entry-way into the
world of editing without the risk of reversion or other negative
experiences. Some users may only ever submit comments/suggestions, but
hopefully some of them will also "graduate" to editing given
sufficient encouragement.

5) Next we're going to experiment specifically with the mechanisms
used for patrolling and creating pages. See:

This is a frequent pain point both for new and experienced editors and
we hope we can take some of that away by working closely with the
community in reforming processes and tools.

6) After that we'll have to think about challenges like messaging
(talk pages are horribly broken), identity (user profile setup), and
affiliation (joining and managing WikiProjects etc.).

Lots to do :)
Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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