Launching our semi-annual Wikipedia editors survey

On Wednesday, the Wikimedia Foundation will launch its first semi-annual survey (2011) of Wikipedia editors. A notification will be sent through Wikipedia to all registered editors, as everyone is eligible to participate. The Foundation urges feedback and participation as a way to get your voice heard. For more information, you can read the FAQ we’ve posted detailing the survey.

Using our community’s help, the survey was translated into 21 languages in addition to English, including: Chinese (traditional, Hong Kong), Chinese (simplified), Serbian, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Macedonian, Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, Hebrew, French, Finnish, Spanish, German, Danish, Welsh, Catalan, Bulgarian and Arabic. The Foundation will conduct the survey in languages for which translations are available, and for the remainder of Wikipedia language projects the survey will be available in English. With the exception of the UNU-Merit survey, this is the first time the foundation will conduct a survey of Wikipedia editors, with plans to continue surveying systematically and regularly from this point forward. A retooled version of the survey will debut in late 2011.

The current survey is being conducted with the following goals in mind:

  • Create a demographic profile of contributors to Wikipedia: We will collect data on age, gender, education, employment history, etc. This will help us refresh the data from the UNU-Merit editor survey data, and we are hoping that the use of cookies within the central notice will ensure that the survey is not biased towards more frequent editors. It is imperative to use this technique to ensure we collect reliable and valid demographic data.
  • Create an online technology ecology of contributors: We will collect data to understand what other online activities contributors pursue, as well as how contributing to Wikipedia fits into their specific online technology ecology.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of both editing activities and histories of contributors: This will allow the foundation to segment editors based on tenure and editing activities.
  • Understand editor interactions: The survey features a section designed to gain insight on interactions between editors. The foundation will use the data to inform interventions and increase editor retention. As we found in the editor trends study, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to retain and recruit new editors, and we are interested in hearing from editors about their experiences with their peers.
  • Perceived discrimination and its effects: The survey aims to understand whether editors perceive any kind of discrimination based on gender, race, nationality etc. The data collected will help the foundation inform interventions to increase retention and diversity.
  • Funding and feedback about chapters and foundation: Lastly, we will gather data to understand who supports the foundation through funding, and elicit feedback from editors about both chapters and the foundation in order to increase engagement.

We’re looking forward to participation from editors all around the world while the survey is active. Please spread the word, and thanks for taking the time to contribute your views!

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

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10 Comments on Launching our semi-annual Wikipedia editors survey

Cptnono 5 years

“The data collected will help the foundation inform interventions to increase retention and diversity.”

My impression is that the Foundation wants to see editors saying they feel discriminated against. “Support healthy diversity in the editing community by doubling the percentage of female editors to 25 percent and increase the percentage of Global South editors to 37 percent” (target for 2015) might not be possible for various reasons. Gaining more females will be a challenge and it isn’t sexism on the projects that are the issue. But forcing new policies to counter what is almost assuredly not the primary reason for the lack of diversity will give the impression of doing something.

I am curious to see the reaction from the Foundation if it turns out that perceived discrimination is low. Unfortunately, a follow-up survey will be needed if responses do initially appear to validate the concern since the detail needed to address it was way more than asked for. What is the actual prevalence of the issue instead of has it occurred in the last six months.

The questions invite editors to be victims. Of course some editors in a contentious topic areas (nationality is a big one here) are going to answer “yes” even if the edit summary and talk page comments were clear of any bigotry.

The amount of questions needed to actually gauge prevalence of discrimination will require a follow-up survey. But hey, if the Foundation wants to assume that the editor-base is full of racists and sexists who cannot edit neutrally then who am I to argue.

Barry Newstead 5 years

Thanks for the comments. The survey actually had over 5,000 respondents complete it, so it is a very serious (and largely successful) attempt to get feedback from the editor community. We are hopeful that we’ll all get valuable insights from this strong sample of the community of editors – many more than the “usual 6” ;)

In terms of questions we should have asked but didn’t, we’ll look at improvements for the next round…and I think we’ll add some free text comment boxes to enable respondents to add perspectives that might not have been captured well in a specific question.

On not being able to access the survey, apologies. We used a new approach for this survey. It was targeted to all logged in users, but the notice only appears for one log-in. This approach helped us deal with sampling bias issues and it limits the time that editors had to see the banner. The downside was that some people missed it and then couldn’t find it (because there was no alternate route into the survey). In future, we’ll put in place a plan B option that allows people to find the survey if they missed it on the notice.

Chad H. 5 years

The survey was shut off shortly after it was activated, doesn’t look as though anyone ever updated the blog post.

Andrei Filotti 5 years

I have posted a question on how to access the survey. I have received no response. Is anybody in charge? \\

Andrei Filotti 5 years

I still was not able to find a way to access the survey. Is this survey directed only towards a few selected editors or to all editors? I have several years of experience, have contributed with tens of thousands entries but still am not able to express my concerns. What is going on with this survey? Are you really serious or just pretending you are interested in our feedback? ~~~~

laura 5 years

I miss a lot of useful questions, for example in reasons to edit: improving the language presence on Internet or national reasons, very common in small wikis

Eingangskontrolle 5 years

I fear, that the foundation is not really interested in participants. Everything is very well hidden. Perhaps you ask the usual 6 again, who liked Vector so much.

Mani 5 years

Hi Neal, I am glad that you liked the survey. Questions on use of social media, including questions about Fluther & Quora, are to understand the online technology ecology of editors. Here is a link to FAQ about the survey and another for feedback

Neal McBurnett 5 years

I just took the survey and thought it was generally well done. I look forward to the results.

The biggest specific issue I saw was the question about Fluther and Quora. Fluther doesn’t even seem to rate an article on Wikipedia yet. Quora I also had never heard of. But you ignore the StackExchange sites, which produce great CC-BY-SA content which Wikipedia can leverage. I’ve been involved with the security site ( recently. The software is proprietary, but very well done.

Jason Hammond 5 years

I logged into Wikipedia today and saw the banner with the invitation to take the survey. But when I clicked on the link, nothing happened – no new web page loaded, no pop-up or new window opened as far as I can tell.

Worse, there’s a message that “This may be the only time you see this message” which I find very strange (and frustrating if the link won’t work for some reason.) Is the intention to collect replies from a random sample of editors or anyone who wishes to contribute? If so, is there a direct link to the survey?


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