Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Mani Pande

Results from the Japanese Editor Survey

We have blogged recently about the results from our semi-annual editor survey. Although the survey was conducted in 22 languages, it didn’t include Japanese, due to the March earthquake and ensuing Tsunami in Japan.  It is with great pleasure that we would like to share toplines from a survey of editors conducted recently on the Japanese Wikipedia. We fielded it for about a week in the end of July, and got 208 complete responses.  Like the semi-annual editor survey, the Japanese editor survey was available only to registered users of the Japanese Wikipedia and every editor saw the invitation to participate in the survey only once. The latter was done to control for bias towards more active editors.

The topline data covers all the questions from the survey: demographics, interactions with community members, technology ecology, and editing behaviors.  We are hoping that the Japanese community (as well as others) will check the data, conduct some analysis and provide feedback to us.

Please also check out the graphs for some key demographics of Japanese editors. The results from the editor survey in the Japanese Wikipedia show that the Japanese editing community is similar to others demographically: predominantly male, highly educated and slightly older than what we imagined our community to be before we conducted the survey.



Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the ninth in series of blog posts where we previously shared insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.)


Shedding light on board of trustee elections

As most of the readers of this blog are aware the Wikimedia foundation board of trustees  “manages the foundation and supervises disposition and solicitation of donation.” The community elects three members to the board of trustees. The rest of the seats on the board are shared between community members appointed by chapters, community founder and trustees with specific expertise appointed by the board.  If you are interested in finding out more about the structure of the board of trustees, please check out this diagram here. 

The elections to the board of trustees have been held annually since 2004. You can find out more details about the elections here.

But according to the Editor Survey, April 2011, only a small minority of editors has voted in the board elections. Thirteen percent of editors in the survey pointed out that they had voted in WMF board of trustee elections.  Among those who had not voted in the election, the number one reason for not voting in the election was they (45%) had never heard of the elections.  Thirty-four percent said that they were not interested in participating in board elections. We also asked the editors who stated that they had never heard of the elections if they would vote in the future since they now know about the board of trustee elections A majority (54%) of them said that they would be interested in voting in the future. In addition, 9% of editors pointed out that they had run or would like to run in the board of trustee elections, and the rest said they were not interested (84%) or were not eligible to run for elections (8%).

Reasons for not voting in board elections

We would like to take this opportunity to call upon all our community members to have their voice heard and participate in large numbers in the next board of trustee elections. The data also shows that there is a need to raise awareness about the board elections. We welcome your ideas about how we can do this. Please share your ideas through comments to this blog post.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the eighth in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey. Later in August we will be providing raw data from the survey and a final report to the community. )

Supporting user requests for mobile features, even editing

As you may know, the WMF strategic plan released last March set ambitious goals for our movement’s next five years. At the top of the agenda for the forthcoming fiscal year is to increase mobile page views of Wikipedia to two billion by the end of June, 2012 – a substantial increase from the current count of 726 million in March, 2011. To meet this goal, the engineering, strategy and global development teams are redesigning our mobile site to provide an enhanced reading experience and to introduce mobile-specific editing capabilities. Our current mobile website ( does not support editing, though our survey found that a small minority of editors (7%) edit desktop Wikipedia ( on their mobile phone. The redesign of our mobile site is also strategically important for us to meet our goal of increasing reach in the global south, as majority of that population will be accessing Internet through mobile devices in the near future, completely bypassing the desktop web.

We have had interesting, wide-reaching discussions within our volunteer community in an effort to understand what new functionalities can be in-built into the mobile site to meet the needs of our editors. Our Editors Survey, April 2011 also asked editors which editing features they were more likely to use if they were in-built into the mobile website.

Despite the common perception (not including the SMS generation) that mobile phones are not well suited for entering text, 28% of editors in the survey said they were extremely/very likely to use a feature that allows paragraph and sentence editing, and 22% expressed support for a ‘creation of new article’ feature on mobile phones. We were surprised that editors pointed to a feature that would help upload pictures to Wikimedia Commons as the least likely to be used (only 21% provided strong support), although uploading a photo requires fewer clicks than writing text. Some editors (22%) also expressed support for anti-vandalism tools, such as Huggle, on the mobile phone.

Percent who are extremely/very likely to use the listed features

We have also conducted user experience research of mobile readers of Wikipedia in India and Brazil to understand how we can enhance the mobile reading experience. In our interviews, we found that one high-ranking feature on the wish list of mobile readers is the ability to save an article and read it later offline. Even among editors, 38% said they were extremely/very likely to use a feature that would allow them to save articles for offline reading or editing.

We are confident that with the help of our community (editors and programmers) we will meet our goal of delivering a phone-based Wikipedia to more people globally. We have several initiatives underway, including a new mobile survey and a call for testers of the mobile gateway, that require both participation and feedback to maximize efficacy.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the seventh in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)

Shedding light on women who edit Wikipedia

The Wikimedia Foundation has made a strategic goal of increasing volunteer participation, in particular by encouraging women to edit Wikipedia.  In the Wikipedia editors survey we analyzed the edit history of male and female editors to look at the key differences between the two genders. An analysis of self-reported edits by gender shows significant differences at the lower and higher end of the editing spectrum, but also shows relatively similar patterns between edit counts by men and women in the middle of the spectrum.

While women editors are more likely to make 1 to 50 lifetime edits compared to men, male editors are more likely to make more than 10,000 + edits compared to women. One-third of women editors reported that they had made between 1 to 50 edits, compared to 18% of male editors. On the other hand, a higher percentage of men (23%) reported having made upwards of 10,000 edits, versus 18% of female editors. There are no statistically significant differences among men and women editors within other groups based on total edit count.

A full 91% of editors who participated in the April 2011, Editor Survey are male, while 8.5% are female. The remainder (0.5%) identified as transsexual or transgender.

Much has been written about Wikipedia’s highly skewed gender distribution, including this recent NYT story.  WMF Executive Director Sue Gardner wrote this insightful blog post on the topic as well.

The Foundation is aiming to increase the number of women participants on Wikipedia from 9,000 (as of spring 2011) to 11,700 by spring 2012. We will accomplish this partly by introducing tools and features that making editing simple for everyone – including a visual editor.  We’ve also seen great success in the participation of women via our Wikipedia in the class room initiatives.  These efforts, which are expanding around the world, tend to bring in a much representative proportion of men and women contributors.

Keep an eye out for future product updates that will enable us to work towards our strategic goals of increasing participation. We have a tall task ahead of us, and we’ll reach it even sooner if we all put our heads together. This is one smart community.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the sixth in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)


Wikipedia editors contribute to social media streams too

Wikipedia is undoubtedly the most successful collaborative online experiment in the history of Internet. Wikipedia editors spend hours writing and researching articles that have made the project the success that it is today. But have you ever wondered what other online activities Wikipedia editors participate in? Results from the Editor Survey, April 2011, show that apart from the time that they spend online editing Wikipedia, editors are a lot like other Internet users: emailing, using Facebook, watching online videos on YouTube or other sites, using Instant messaging services like AIM and Google Talk, using Twitter or other similar micro-blogging platform.

Facebook is clearly more popular with Wikipedia editors than Twitter.  Sixty-eight percent of Wikipedia editors use Facebook compared to only 30% who use Twitter. Online gaming is not a popular online activity for our editors. Only 18% of Wikipedia editors play online, multi-player games likes World of Warcraft and 18% play online games like Farmville or Cityville.  Like the rest of the Internet population, using location-aware services like Foursquare has not taken off with Wikipedia editors with only 11% using these types of services.  The Wikimedia movement has had a strong affinity to open source and openness in general, so it is no surprise to see that some editors (22%) contribute to open source software.

We also researched what kinds of contributions editors make across several social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. Facebook dominates contributions in social media with more editors posting or commenting on status updates, and liking content on Facebook. Since fewer editors are using Twitter, fewer editors tweet or interact with other Twitter users. Blogging continues to be a platform for sharing for about one-third of editors.  Our data clearly shows that Wikipedia editors not only contribute to Wikipedia, but are contributors to different social media streams too.

Helping us better-understand Wikipedia editors’ activities around social media helps us make better decisions about which new features and technologies we should research for MediaWiki, the software that powers Wikipedia and thousands of other wikis online.  This data also helps us determine new ways of improving dialog and communication among Wikipedians, both on-wiki and off.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the fifth in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)

Positive feedback works for editing, say Wikipedia editors

“Our brains and our behavior are driven by feedback loops. Harness their power and change your life,” points out Wired magazine in its latest cover story on how feedback can be used to change human behavior. Similarly, data from the Wikipedia Editor Survey, April 2011, shows that feedback from other editors – especially positive feedback – encourages more editing. According to the survey, Wikipedia editors reported that positive interactions and experiences with others made them more likely to edit Wikipedia, and, as a direct corollary, negative interactions and experiences made them less likely to edit Wikipedia.

The majority of editors pointed out that positive interactions (having grammatical errors fixed by another editor, receiving compliments and barnstars from fellow editors, and experiencing “their” article make it to front page) made them more likely to edit Wikipedia.

Percent who believe that following interactions make them more likely to edit

While positive interactions create positive feedback loops that encourage editing, negative interactions reduce the likelihood of editing. These interactions include the perception of being looked down upon by other editors, as well as seeing edits reverted without any explanation.


Percent who believe that following interactions make them less likely to edit

Fortunately for our community, every listed action leading to a negative feedback loop is an easy fix: treat other editors with respect and encourage their growth as a contributor, and every negative trend we see here could literally disappear. So please, Wikipedia editors, continue doing the good work and providing positive feedback to your fellow editors. The successful growth of our project depends on it.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the fourth in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)


Majority read and edit more than one language Wikipedia

There are more bilingual and multilingual individuals in the world than there are monolingual, and the global community of Wikipedia editors is no exception.  According to the Editors Survey, April 2011, over half of Wikipedia editors contribute to more than one language Wikipedia, and an overwhelming majority (72%) read Wikipedia in more than one language.

Number of languages to which editors contribute

Number of Wikipedia languages which editors read


In addition, with an overwhelming majority of Wikipedia editors reading and editing English Wikipedia, English Wikipedia gets a lot of attention from Wikipedia editors. English Wikipedia has the largest and most diverse pool of editors with editors from other projects contributing to English Wikipedia. In total 76% of Wikipedia editors contribute to English Wikipedia, although only 40 percent primarily contribute to English Wikipedia.  93 percent of Wikipedia editors read English Wikipedia at some level, and about half  (49%) of them primarily read English Wikipedia. We can clearly see that editors who work primarily in other language projects are helping English Wikipedia grow.


Percent who contribute/primarily contribute to the following languages

Percent who read/primarily read the following languages


We’ll have a few more blog post insights from the Wikipedia Editors survey next week.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the third in series of blog posts exploring insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)


Wikipedia editor survey: Top-line data released

Last week we released the very first insights from the recent semi-annual survey of Wikipedia editors.  This week we’re releasing the survey’s top-line data.

The top-line data includes all of the major indications from the survey of editors: the demographics, questions proposed in the survey, and top-line responses.  We’re sharing this information now in order to allow the community to review the results, share them, and reflect on the data.

We will continue to share insights from the data over the next few weeks, as well as the entire dataset (which we’re in the process of anonymizing).  We will also be releasing a full survey report on-wiki that details the findings and observations, and reflects on how the insights impact the Wikimedia movement.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the second in a series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.)

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)

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