WikiLove: An experiment in appreciation

We all like to feel valued. According to the 2011 survey of Wikipedia editors (see top-line data), among 17 variables, “being looked down on by more experienced editors” is the most likely to cause people to say they will edit less frequently (69% agreement), while “having others compliment you on your edits/articles” is the most likely to cause people to say they will edit more frequently (78% agreement).

On the other hand, editing Wikipedia has tended to become harder over time, and the likelihood that new users will receive correction/criticism has increased. This is reflected by various efforts to code and analyze the experience of new users, such as the recent Newbie teaching strategy research sprint undertaken within the scope of our Summer of Research.


Warnings, teaching and criticism tend to dominate the experience of new users

This chart shows the relative increase and decrease in warning messages, praise/thank you messages, criticism and teaching messages over time.

The drive for quality and reliability has led to the development of sophisticated automation mechanisms that aid in socializing new users to Wikipedia’s norms, policies and conventions. The act of expressing appreciation for other users, by contrast, is a largely manual effort. Whether it’s welcoming new users, inviting users to participate in specific topics or discussions, recognizing effort using barnstars and trophies, or just sending a whimsical note, expressing appreciation is not an activity that is facilitated by the software — in spite of its known importance for people’s likelihood to want to edit.

WikiLove is a simple experiment in appreciation. It makes it easy and fun to send barnstars or whimsical messages of appreciation to other users. The tool was first built by Wikimedia Foundation developer and Wikimedian Ryan Kaldari as a small gadget, and the new editor engagement team at the Wikimedia Foundation has developed it into a full feature over the last few weeks.

wikilove screenshot

WikiLove is invoked from a user page by clicking the “Heart” icon.

How you can help

Currently, the Wikilove extension is only deployed on our prototype site.  While it’s a simple feature, we would still appreciate your help in testing and evaluating it.  To do so, create a test account on prototype (please remember to check the “remember me for 30-days” box — sorry, there is a known bug on prototype that requires the box to be checked).  Once your test account created and you are logged in, visit any userpage or user talk page.  You will notice a red heart icon to the left of the search box.  Click on the icon, send WikiLove, and let us know what you think by providing feedback on the WikiLove talk page.

wikilove screenshot 2


What’s next

Our plan is to enable WikiLove on the English Wikipedia on June 29 (we may push the date depending on any issues surfaced). Users will be able to disable the WikiLove feature by going to My Preferences → Editing → Labs Features and unchecking the box that is labeled “Enable showing appreciation for other users with the WikiLove tab (experimental)”.

The tool has built-in tables that will help us measure how frequently WikiLove is used, and allow us to understand whether its usage actually affects (new) editor activity. Irrespective of that, we’re also interested in exploring tools specifically built for welcoming new users and inviting them to edit articles related to their expressed interests.

We’re not presupposing that we know how appreciation can best be expressed in the many different languages and cultures that make up the Wikimedia community. The selection of barnstars and other forms of appreciation that we’re starting with is just that — a selection. Wiki administrators will be able to modify the user interface by following the instructions for customization — so that whether you want to award gifts of chocolate or stroopwafels or baklava, you can do so!

Howie Fung
Senior Product Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Erik Moeller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Categories: Features, Technology
17 Show

17 Comments on WikiLove: An experiment in appreciation

imtechnource 2 months

Very Interesting concept for give appreciation & Good idea
Keep going ! Wikimedia :)

Pratik - IT Consultant 10 months

i am late to read this but interesting stuff for open web. would check wikilove for sure

โปรแกรมจัดซื้อ 5 years

While it’s a simple feature, we would still appreciate your help in testing and evaluating it.

Christopher Wood 5 years

I’d prefer if you could “love” a particular edit… but that would require a lot of design work to be effective

Amanda 5 years

Hopefully this will work, with both users and administrators. I know in the past Administrators tended to side with one user over another without seeing the full story, such as when an administrator actually took the side of a user that was harassing another user by calling them down to dirt. Hopefully this will improve the situation with that.

Patio 5 years

Wikipedia understands Web 2.0+ concept very well. Social Medium “avant la lettre” Ansolutely Lovely Experiment. “Complimenti”

JSmith 5 years

I really, really hoped that this was a joke when I read about it on ANI. I am horrified to learn that it is not.

Roan Kattouw 5 years

@Avanu: We actually are working on making pages easier to edit and discuss, but this is a long process. In the meantime, this is a relatively easy and quick feature that we can just try out and see if it works.

Avanu 5 years

Instead of features like this, why not just make it easier to edit and discuss things in Wikipedia. Warm fuzzies may be nice, but I have a friend who won’t even look at Talk pages because of the goofy way that it works (with the indents and such). He’s an unbelievably experienced Web developer, been doing this since 1994, and he won’t mess with Wikipedia editing because it is so behind the times. But hey at least people will feel better about things while they’re trying to figure out the Wikicode.

Jozef Dekkers 5 years

I think this feature is great. But why beer? If the writer doesn’t drink, how is the beer a compliment? Why not a stinking cigar? If it’s for sharing an addiction. For some reason beer is still a socially accepted drug. Not to every writer, contributing to wikipedia.
So: excellent idea but it should only use a globally equal symbol. Stars, hearts, whatever.

Eingangskontrolle 5 years

I hope, that every version will have a chance to vote for or against the introduction of this gimmick. I feel there are still other priorities to be solved.

Ad Huikeshoven 5 years

A week ago I watched “Designing Online Communities from Theory”. In a long video a Stanford University professor shows research findings of interactions in online communities. He shows how positive feedback help retain newcomers. The wiki love button is clearly one step in the right direction.

Kun Dang 5 years

Showing appreciation by declaring “Love”? I suppose it will have to be, since “Like” has already been taken.

Nemo 5 years

«we’re also interested in exploring tools specifically built for welcoming new users»: I don’t understand why can’t just use welcoming bots or NewUserMessage extension like all wikis.

Mohd Asif 5 years

Love you WikiLove!!

Bown Smith 5 years

really good idea to enable WikiLove, best of luck wiki..

Swamykant 5 years

Very Good idea. I will surely show my love on wikipedia. All the best

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