Wikipedia editors do it for fun: First results of our 2011 editor survey

Wikipedia only exists because thousands of people volunteer their time everyday to create, improve and maintain it. Many people ask: “who are these people?” and “why do they do it?” In April 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation conducted a survey of our editors around the globe.  The survey was available in 22 languages (thanks to the work of volunteer translators) and was completed by over 5,000 editors.  The aim of the survey was to better understand who the editors are?  What motivates them? What their experience is like? What their needs are?

It was really interesting to see who the editor community is, as this was our most comprehensive survey of editors.

WP Editor survey demographic breakdown

As has been discussed recently, it is an important priority for the Wikimedia movement to progressively add diversity to our community.  We have set targets in our strategy for greater participation of women and for rapid growth in the Global South.  These actions seek to both increase the size of the community (our goal is to grow to 200,000 by 2015) and to bring important new knowledge to our projects.

With all of the options people have for occupying their time online and offline, we always wonder: why do people edit Wikipedia?  One of the major answers: Editing Wikipedia is both fun in its own right and it feels really good sharing knowledge with the rest of humanity.   Few, if any, people do this because it is part of their job or they are seeking some sort of personal benefit.


This is something anyone can do, after all Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the first in a new series of blog post where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.  We will be releasing the data, report, and more insights over the next two months)

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5 Comments on Wikipedia editors do it for fun: First results of our 2011 editor survey

Yoshiharu Akita 5 years

How do you do?
We are Akita of the new comer.
It is Japanese.
Immediately, it is but as for Wiki, the basics are English and as for the people in the other? country, the person who can use English doesn’t connect with the world of? probably about how many there are because the people whom English can not talk to create Wiki by the independent language.
When it should improve there
It is thought of.

WereSpielChequers 5 years

I’d be interested in seeing the education breakdown of the editors we have who are over 21. I’d strongly suspect that there will be a high correlation between the 27% in the 12 – 21 age groups and the 39% whose highest educational level so far is Primary or Secondary. Of course I’m hoping that the 13% of our editors who are currently 12 – 17 years old will all get degrees in the next ten years, but I suspect next to none of them have so far. So amongst our editors who are 18 or over over 70% are presumably graduates, and amongst those of normal university graduation age or above my estimate is that over 80% are graduates.

Chricho 5 years

This survey was really a disaster: There was no simple plain hyperlink to access it, it needed JavaScript and Cookie stuff, the link appeared only once a day, no static link anywhere, not working with all web browsers, many people could not participiate because of such stupid technical reasons. There was a question if you are an IP-user, but for IP user it was not possible to access the survey. Bad translations… The survey should not have started under that conditions.

davidhrosen 5 years

I find this exciting because the top 3 (maybe even 4) reasons for why people contribute perfectly align with the goals of most corporations. That means they’ll be more willing to let their expert employees contribute their technical knowledge and enrich everyone. (Of course in line with Wikipedia’s policies, not to mention those at companies meant to protect secrets, yadda, yadda, yadda.)

Remi Bachelet 5 years

I’m a bit disappointed : big survey, lots of figures, but nothing as to giving some meaning to the results. If you cannot get assistance from researchers to problematize and test hypothesese, make at least some effort to answer clear questions “are wikipedians more educated than the general population ?”, “what are the biases of this study ?”, “how does it compare to previous studies and results ?”…

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