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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Editor Retention

News about efforts to increase the pool of active editors in the Wikimedia movement

Brainstorming about Wikipedia’s diversity

This post is available in 3 languages: English  • Svenska Deutsch

English

A large group of people from all over the world gathered in Berlin to find ways to improve our diversity.

It was a busy schedule (my workshop is the second one from the bottom in the middle).

Recently I was able to participate in the Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Berlin as part of a cooperation that Wikimedia Sverige has with Europeana, where we worked to create new collaborations and share experiences with GLAMs and Wikimedia Chapters.

During the fantastically well-organized conference (kudos WMDE, WMF, WMUK and WMNL for your hard work) I gave a thirty minute presentation, followed by a workshop on how the Wikimedia movement can use thematic edit-a-thons to attract under-represented groups to Wikipedia. This is something that we have already tried at Wikimedia Sverige during our three thematic edit-a-thons, where the focus was to encourage more women to get involved in topics like women’s history, female scientists and fashion. Thematic edit-a-thons differ from general edit-a-thons, as they focus on one particular topic, producing a burst of improvements within a field that is particularly weak. Thematic edit-a-thons also foster a sense of team spirit among participants since they usually share the same interests and expertise, which in turn facilitates cooperation.

Drawn from survey answers and conversations, the major conclusions that we have drawn from these events are (and remember that these are based on a small sample that might be culture specific, so it might very well differ from other chapters):

  • Cooperate with organizations that already have a a lot of women connected to them. They can help invite their members and share material and expertise (don’t forget the universities)!
  • There seems to be a great interest to be involved, we just have to find a good way to meet the female volunteers halfway. A central point seems to be to host events on a regular basis, but also try to add other fun additions like speakers, snacks, mingling and guided tours etc. (however these should not take too much time away from writing, as volunteers usually want to finish what they started during an edit-a-thon).
  • There are different subgroups within groups of specific interests and expertise. The different subgroups might not necessarily care to participate in the other groups events.

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What we learned from the English Wikipedia new editor pilot in the Philippines

English Wikipedia’s contributors are scattered across the globe, and this diversity of geographic representation gives us hope that we’ll someday fully realize our vision of making the sum of all human knowledge available to everyone.

People from some regions are editing the encyclopedia more than others, however. The majority of editors to English Wikipedia today are from Europe, North America and Australia. Contributors in Anglophone Global South countries like India, Kenya, and the Philippines are underrepresented, compared to the total number of English speakers and English Wikipedia page views from these countries. Looking for simple ways we might boost contributions from a country like the Philippines, a small team of staff from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Grantmaking and Learning group recently decided to run an experiment to attract new editors.

The pilot was not a success – there are no more active editors from the Philippines than when we started – but the team learned several things that may be useful for future experiments. In the spirit of fearless (and humanly imperfect, and interesting) experimentation, and because we think that there is just as much value in talking about what doesn’t work as what does, we offer here some highlights of what we learned.

Banner aimed at readers from the Philippines

Philippines pilot landing page, getting started with articles

The team selected the Philippines for this pilot because English education is high and there is a large readership of English Wikipedia (93,200 page views/hour) compared to other language versions. Editors from the region are underrepresented on English Wikipedia (less than 400 active editors/month). We also picked it because we understand that online communities tend to grow best when they can build upon themselves, with new people being supported by experienced editors, and English Wikipedia already has a small but active community of editors from the Philippines to build upon, including a WikiProject Tambayan Philippines.

The team started with some background research: A quick survey of readers from the Philippines showed that 81 percent of readers know that they can edit Wikipedia; 86 percent rate their English proficiency to be more than “good,” but only 36 percent of readers had actually attempted to edit Wikipedia. The most common reason given for not editing was that they didn’t know what to edit (38 percent) and the most common request for support given was having specific, easy tasks to do on Wikipedia (63 percent).

Philippines pilot landing page, getting started with user page

Based on this, we hypothesized that having a call to action that asked people in the Philippines to help improve content related to their country might encourage more editing. We ran banners encouraging Filipino readers to get involved by creating an account and a user page identifying themselves as part of the project. We then directed them to a list of stubs (short articles in need of more information) on various topics related to the Philippines that had been collected by WikiProject Tambayan Philippines. For new editors in need of extra support, we offered links to Wikipedia’s help documentation and to the Teahouse, but we otherwise did not interfere with the standard new-editor experience on Wikipedia.

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Try the new login and account creation on Wikimedia projects

An account creation and login process that is simple and pleasurable to use is a must-have for engaging more contributors to Wikimedia projects. On just Wikipedia’s English-language version, more than 3,000 people sign up for an account on an average day. These interfaces are often the first time a new editor interacts with the site, beyond consuming content.

We’re happy to announce that, starting today, users of all Wikimedia projects will be able to try a new look for our account creation and login. For about a week, we’re asking all Wikimedia volunteer editors to give the update a try and help us spot any nagging bugs or errors in translation. We’ll then enable the new forms as the default on all our wikis.

The new account creation (mockup)

The new account creation (mockup)

Help test the new forms

If you’re a current or prospective member of a Wikimedia community, we need your help. Please give the new interfaces a try, report bugs, or leave comments for us on your wiki’s preferred noticeboard.

We’re providing this week-long testing period–instead of simply rolling out the new interface with less advance notice–to get help making sure our localizations are correct and the interfaces will be bug free for the 800 or so wiki communities we support.

Both links above are to our largest and most active community, English Wikipedia, but if you’re a contributor to any other project, you can try out the new forms by simply appending &useNew=1 to either URL on your favorite wiki. You can also find more detailed, step-by-step testing instructions if you’re willing to go a little deeper with testing the forms.

How we got here

The new login (mockup)

The new login (mockup)

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Experiments team has been optimizing these forms, using weekly controlled tests to measure the impact of our new signup form and iterate on our ideas. (See our original announcement.)

Overall, the results of these experiments were encouraging. Using English Wikipedia as our proving ground, our most successful experiment gained around 800 additional signups over a two week period. The relative increase in conversion was 4 percent, from 28 percent to 32 percent of users successfully creating an account after visiting the signup page. The total number of new users gained will change based on seasonal trends. We also decreased the number of errors which held up users after they submitted the form by 14 percent.

This interface redesign marks the first time MediaWiki core (the platform shared by all our projects) is using the new form styles that we have experimented with in account creation, our new onboarding experience for Wikipedia editors, and in other features. The patterns we’re introducing via the new account creation and login, codenamed “Agora” by the Wikimedia Foundation design team, will now be able to be reused in a more standardized way by MediaWiki developers.

The redesigns we’re introducing to login and account creation are hardly radical. Simple use of typography, color and vertically-aligned form fields are not what could be called bold innovation in design. Nonetheless, we’re extremely happy to be releasing an experience that will make signing up and logging in less of a burden for the many contributors to Wikimedia communities, and thus enable them to create great, free educational resources.

Steven Walling,
Associate Product Manager

Wikimedia Sverige hosts first fashion editathon

This post is available in 2 languages: Svenska7% • English 100%

English

Friday, the 22nd of March, was a different and exciting day at work as Wikimedia Sverige had its biggest edit-a-thon to date – with 47 participants! Also the participants and the topic of the event were something that we unfortunately don’t always connect to Wikipedia: that is, women and fashion.

Participants in the Wikimedia Sverige fashion editathon.

Participants in the Wikimedia Sverige fashion editathon.

Wikipedia, as you might know, is very male dominated (only 9 percent of all editors are female!) and the topic of fashion is very poorly represented when compared, for example, to World War II. With this in mind this fashion edit-a-thon was the first in a series of fashion events that will take place around Europe in the following two years, coordinated by Europeana Fashion.

This edit-a-thon in Stockholm was organized in collaboration with Wikimedia Sverige, Europeana, the Nordiska museetEuropeana Fashion and the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University. It was especially fun that the Nordiska museet and the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp, as part of the preparations for the edit-a-thon, released hundreds of fashion images to Wikimedia Commons! For MoMu this upload was their first time working with Wikimedia and using Wikimedia Commons.

In preparation for the event, we had organized a workshop about editing in Wikipedia with the fashion students so that the actual edit-a-thon could, after some short presentations, get right down to the business of writing fashion-related articles. To keep up interest, and blood sugar, we served snacks during the day, as well as a lunch. We also took breaks and got inspired with a guided tour of the Nordiska museets’s fashion exhibitions, such as one on the power of fashion Modemakt. In the end, the productive day came together with a mingle with wine and canapés.

Almost all the participants stayed until the mingle, and several didn’t leave until 8 p.m., when the guards wanted to close the museum. At that point the event had lasted for almost 10 hours. Many of the participants also came up to us and thanked us for a nice event, telling us how proud they felt when pressing save and publishing their first edits on Wikipedia. These are the things that make me most happy and proud about this event. The goal with an edit-a-thon is, after all, not just to get more articles, but to get more active editors to Wikipedia and to raise awareness of how Wikipedia works in society.

Of course it’s also interesting to know what the direct outcomes of the event were:

  • We had 47 participants that registered their attendance at the Nordiska museet. Of these participants, a total of 30 were women (or 64 percent!)
  • 23 new users created accounts, either at the edit-a-thon, or at the preparatory workshop. Some of the editors sat together and used only one account.
  • Of the eight uploaded photos from MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp, four of these are used in Wikipedia. They are used a total of 12 times on various language versions.
  • Of the 362 images uploaded from the Nordiska museet, 57(!) of the images are now used on Wikipedia. They are used a total of 72 times on various language versions.
  • Ten new articles were created, from biographies to fashion photography and Sami costumes. In total, 67 different articles were edited during the day. Several participants also published their articles some days after the edit-a-thon.
  • Articles were edited in eight different languages (Polish, German, English, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Russian and Italian). Most of the contributions were made to the English and the Swedish Wikipedia.
  • 73 photos were taken during the edit-a-thon and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons! Could this be a new record from a single edit-a-thon?
  • Also five images from the Nordiska museet’s library were scanned and uploaded and are now used in various articles.

We are very happy with the outcome and hope to arrange more fashion edit-a-thons in the future! Perhaps this could be one way of changing the enormous gender gap? We hope so.

John Andersson (WMSE) (talk), Project leader for the Europeana Awareness project at Wikimedia Sverige

Timelapse of the editathon

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Wikipedia Teahouse Celebrates its First Birthday

Teahouse First Birthday Badge

Teahouse was launched on Wikipedia one year ago, with the hope that building a warm and friendly community space for new editors to connect with experienced Wikipedians might help decrease Wikipedia’s gender gap. The goal was to measure the impact of a many-to-many support system targeted at newbies. Would inviting newcomers to participate in a welcoming, social learning experience encourage more of them to continue on their journey from making that first edit to their 1000th?

One year later, the data shows that Teahouse indeed has a positive impact on the new editor experience for English Wikipedia, and demonstrates some promise as a gender gap strategy. New editors who visit the Teahouse make nearly 3 times the number of edits to Wikipedia articles than a control group with similar early editing patterns. They edit twice as many articles. They have twice the number of talk page discussions with their fellow editors, and they return to edit Wikipedia every week for nearly twice as long.

But Teahouse is about people and experience as much as numbers, and so to celebrate Teahouse’s first birthday, we spoke with Teahouse hosts and guests to learn about what the project has meant for them and what it might signal for the years still to come.

Gtwfan52 is a Teahouse host who first started editing Wikipedia on the day the Teahouse launched. He was invited to visit the space by Rosiestep, a long-time Wikipedian and one of the first hosts who brought hundreds of new editors to participate in the project’s early days. Gtwfan52 remembers coming for help with the Goshen College article. “I asked for an honest critique. I got a great one. They offered constructive criticism and specific instruction on how to do some things I had no idea how to do. This was followed up by some copyediting from Teahouse hosts once I put the addition in the article, and finally, by a very encouraging “atta boy” from Sarah [Stierch] at the Teahouse.”

Sarah Stierch’s gender gap fellowship at the Wikimedia Foundation sparked the Teahouse project in collaboration with Teahouse team members Heather Walls, Jonathan Morgan and Siko Bouterse.  Sarah also served as Teahouse’s first host and maitre d’. Gtwfan52 reflects that “without Teahouse and especially the kind words from Sarah, I probably would be long gone.” Today, he has made over 11,000 edits to Wikipedia and gives back to the project by hosting. “Teahouse is always friendly, and completely adopts my Dad’s favorite saying, ‘The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.’”

Gtwfan52 now has his eye on the next generation of hosts-to-be. Among them is Anne Delong, a librarian and computer programmer who started editing just Wikipedia 2 months ago. She told us, “I am used to material that is logical and arranged according to a preset plan. Wikipedia is more like a village where the roads have grown in random directions because that’s where the first people happened to walk. The Teahouse helped me get past that until I could see the underlying infrastructure and the people that are gradually article by article pulling it toward a cohesive whole.” What does Anne wish for Teahouse’s birthday? “I hope that the Teahouse hosts keep up the good work, and attract more super-friendly people to help out. What goes around comes around!”

Over the past year, about 2000 questions have been asked and answered, 669 editors have introduced themselves, 1670 guests have been served and 867 experienced Wikipedians have participated in the project. 137 Wikipedians have served as hosts at some point during the year.

Edit counts by Teahouse visitors compared to control

Participants say the lively atmosphere of the space has been a key to its success. Host TheOriginalSoni said, “while most projects and groups had only one or two dedicated editors working endlessly to make things work, the Teahouse always had a steady stream of a bunch of cool and helpful editors who keep lurking around. Even when one of these editors is not here, there is always someone else to fill in.” Guest BeatrizBibi commented, “I’m glad to read words from real people, I always thought Wiki was about writing and reading alone.”

Last month was the most active month on the Teahouse so far: 46 active hosts answered 263 questions in the Teahouse, and 11 new hosts joined the project. Go Phightins! said, “I love it when a couple of hosts team up to answer a tough question and the proverbial light bulb goes off in the inquirer’s head.” Guest-turned-host Doctree agreed, “Yep, that happened to me. Thanks to Teahouse hosts, I began to really understand Wikipedia.”

What motivates these Wikipedians to give back to each other in the Teahouse, when there are so many other ways to spend their time? Gwickwire shared, “Teahouse enables me to empower other editors.” Yunshui reflected, “Helping new editors to build articles that meet the requisite guidelines and will improve Wikipedia is probably the most useful thing I can do here, and the Teahouse provides a tool to enable me to do just that.”

As Teahouse enters its second year, it continues to evolve. Ocaasi and Anyashy recently launched a new experiment with Teahouse badges, micro-awards to recognize hosts and guests for their participation. 11 different badges acknowledge contributions like asking a great question or giving a clear and helpful answer, and in total 250 badges have been given out so far.

To celebrate Teahouse’s first birthday, we’re giving out tasty cupcake badges, so, please drop by the Teahouse for a cup of wiki-tea and a birthday badge. In the words of Doctree: “The Teahouse is a model of civility and collaboration, an example of how Wikipedia should function. Keep up the good work…Wishing all a great Teahouse birthday. May there be many more.”

Jake Ocaasi, Wikipedia editor

Siko Bouterse, Head of Individual Engagement Grants

Mobile Beta: a sandbox for new experimental features

The Ellora Caves in India – uploaded via mobile!

In the fall of 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation’s mobile team released a new interface to Wikimedia mobile sites, adding a navigation layer that allows for easy opting-in to our experimental Beta site.

We created the Beta site as a prototyping area to house early work on features that could help us meet our goals for 2012–2013, which are to get 1,000 mobile users to upload a file to a Wikimedia project every month, and to explore mobile editing and other contributions to the encyclopedia. The Beta site is giving us room to unleash the full creativity of our engineers and designers without disrupting the user experience for millions of readers.

Since the release of the new interface, the number of users opting into Beta has increased dramatically—we now have over 100,000 Beta users and climbing! If you’re one of our Beta users and you’ve signed up for a free account on Wikipedia or a sister project, you’ll see the following prototypes live and ready for testing:

  1. Photo uploads. With the help of volunteer developers at the Bangalore hackathon and inspired by the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative, we’ve made it fast and easy to add an image to a Wikipedia article directly from your image library or the camera on your mobile device. Just look for the call to action at the top of articles that lack images in the lead section. Not only will you be illustrating the encyclopedia, you’ll also be donating your image to Wikimedia Commons under a free license, where it can be shared and reused by anyone in the world for free.
  1. Editing. Our goal for editing on mobile this year was to begin experimenting with a mobile editing interface for small, on-the-go contributions, like correcting typos or removing vandalism, and we’ve released a section-level editor on Beta that allows for that. In the future, we’ll be working to make editing more fine-grained, as well as optimizing the interface, so that it’s easier to input text on a smaller screen.
  1. Watchlists. The watchlist—a feed of recent changes to articles that a user chooses to “watch”—is vital to the health of Wikipedia content. It’s how experienced editors track changes to the pages and discussions they care about, and it helps keep vandalism and spam at bay. We’re trying out ways to serve this need for our current editors on mobile. We’re also experimenting with a watchlist view for new editors who may not be familiar with the feature, which presents the user with an engaging entry point into articles and highlights their continually evolving nature.

If you don’t have a Wikipedia account, create one on desktop or mobile and give these features a try! Just be aware that, as with all things Beta, features are prone to rapid change as we work to fix bugs and optimize the user experience.

In the coming months, we’ll be running user tests and collecting data on feature usage to help us figure out what’s working and what’s not. Ultimately, we aim to identify and promote the most promising experiments to the main mobile gateway and/or create apps that focus on specific contribution funnels. Our goal for the long term is to give potential and new editors the opportunity not just to read Wikipedia, but to take an active part in its continued growth.

Maryana Pinchuk, Associate Product Manager

Literature contest on Hungarian Wikipedia a success

Birthday cake at the award ceremony for Wikimedia Hungary

After six weeks of fierce competition, the Hungarian literature article writing competition came to an end with 47 editors creating 127 new articles on writers, their works and other literature-related topics. The top contestants received prizes including an Amazon Kindle, gift vouchers and Wikipedia hoodies at the combined Wikipedian meetup and 4th birthday celebration of Wikimedia Hungary. The ceremony was held on 1 December in a Budapest restaurant. We were especially happy that the competition included the participation of 13 new editors and eight formerly inactive editors who returned to editing for the competition.

The contestants had the chance to enter any number of articles in the six-week period between 5 October and 20 November 2012. The articles were then rated on a scale of 0-10 in five categories by a four-member expert Wikipedian jury. The categories included “completeness of coverage,” “length,” “layout” and “quality and the importance of the topic.” In the end the editors were ranked based on the total number of points they collected with their entries.

The overall winner of the contest was the user nicknamed Tao Kai, who contributed 17 articles on Chinese literature, including entries covering individual authors and works, but also such hitherto sorely missed important articles like the one covering Chinese poetry. Special prizes were awarded to the best new user, Moni79, who contributed two good articles on the novels Bouvard et Pécuchet and Mrs. Dalloway. The award for best returning user was given to Nobli, who translated two articles on Dickens’ novels from the English Wikipedia. The jury especially praised Hkoala‘s entry on the Hungarian historical novel The Fanatics, which was the only article to receive a perfect score.

Overall, the organizers were pleased that the contest successfully attracted new editors and created quality articles of important Hungarian and World Literature topics. The contest proved to be the most successful of the series of competitions organized by the Hungarian chapter and aimed at improving content quality, creating new articles and attracting editors. It seems that a concentrated PR effort, community goodwill and help, an easily approachable topic and valuable prizes are good combinations to achieve wide participation and attract new editors.

Going forward, we will continue to experiment with the contest model, while also being open to trying other methods to attract new editors with specialized knowledge.

Bence Damokos, Wikimedia Hungary

Coaching new Wikipedia editors by email

Workflow of the Taghreedat-Wikipedia editor project

Within the scope of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Growth and Contribution Program, the Taghreedat[1]-Wikipedia Editors project was piloted on the Arabic Wikipedia over four months between 1st June and 30th September 2012. The key idea was to attract new editors from among the followers of Taghreedat’s Twitter account, provide them with the proper training via online means (e.g. mails, tweets) and guide them through the basic steps of editing Wikipedia by requesting them to perform simple tasks on Wikipedia.

This pilot project concluded in a full study report showing the following key learnings:

  • Social media channels, such as Twitter, could be very powerful in attracting new enthusiastic editors to Wikipedia.
  • Sending emails to new editors with specific tasks, along with tutorials from the contribution portal, prompted a high rate of them to edit Wikipedia pages.
  • Coaching new editors on various Wikipedia editing techniques using a step-by-step approach resulted in converting a considerable portion of them into repeated editors.
  • On the average, editors who signed up under this program edit more often than other new users. This might be an early indicator that a project like this could make a meaningful contribution to the community of active Wikipedians.

Total number of edits made by Taghreedat volunteers on Arabic Wikipedia, along with the daily average of edits in each stage of the program.

The figure on the right plots the total number of edits made by 745 users who registered in this program (around 695 of them did not have a Wikipedia account before), showing an increase from 629 edits made before the program started, to 3410 edits by the time the report was prepared. The major milestones which contributed to the increase in the number of edits can be noticed when users started registration, and when users responded to the tasks of creating their userpages, wikifying articles, and categorizing them. The figure also shows the average number of daily edits, remarkably increasing from 7.8 edits/day during the registration stage to 36.3 edits/day at later stages of the program. This demonstrates the effect of more users joining the program since it has started, and that they are doing more edits as they become more familiar with Wikipedia editing.

About 43% of these registered accounts didn’t make any edits during the pilot program. On the other hand, about 20% of the participants made more than 4 edits. Considering that each task requires about one edit, it appears that a considerable portion of the users made further contributions, beyond just performing the tasks given to them.

Comparison between emailed users and average users by their number of edits

In order to understand the significance of these results, we compared the participants in this program with the aggregate of all users on Arabic Wikipedia categorized by their number of edits. The figure on the right shows that while only 1.7% of all users made more than 10 edits, 6.3% of the participants in this program did. In contrast, while 89.8% of all registered accounts on Arabic Wikipedia have never made any contribution, only 42.6% of the participants in this program remained inactive after registering.

As the number of registered users in this program increases, it might become difficult to coach, communicate, and collect data using the manual methods which we are utilizing in the current pilot. We are aiming at building an automatic system that offers a step-by-step training for interested users, while monitoring their performance, and collecting feedback from them.

Notes
  1. Taghreedat, a non-profit Arabic digital content community building initiative, has launched the Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program which targets regular Internet users and train them (both online & offline) to become editors on Arabic Wikipedia. Taghreedat’s Twitter account has currently more than 100K followers.

Haitham Shammaa, Contribution Research Manager

Improving dispute resolution processes on Wikipedia

In any large volunteer community, dispute resolution is a vital service that helps alleviate contentious issues and problematic behavior. On Wikipedia, where volunteer editors have made the online encyclopedia the success it is, resolving disputes is essential for maintaining a supportive space to continue writing and collaborating.

Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) Community Fellow Steven Zhang has spent much of his four years on Wikipedia involved in dispute resolution and has helped start the WikiProject Dispute Resolution, where a group of volunteer editors is dedicated to improving the processes for mediating contentious issues among peers. Furthermore, he has focused his fellowship at WMF on studying on-wiki conflicts and improving the mechanisms for resolving them.

Zhang has written an Op-Ed in this week’s issue of the Wikipedia Signpost, where he details the current problems with dispute resolution and possible solutions for improving them. Through his research, including a survey of editors involved in disputes, Zhang has identified salient challenges to improving the processes:

  • The main problems given for dispute resolution are its complexity, its inaccessibility, and the number of understaffed resolution processes available. Respondents want stricter action taken against problematic editors, and a simplified, more accessible process where closure can be brought to a dispute quickly
  • Opinions of dispute resolution are overall negative – while respondents rate arbitration as the best dispute resolution forum (one in three respondents rate it as good or very good), Wikiquette assistance is regarded as the worst (only 1 in 12 rate it as satisfactory)
  • Dispute resolution volunteers do so because they feel the process is critical to Wikipedia’s functioning — like helping people — or are motivated by the fact they’ve already received assistance as parties in the forum. Some respondents haven’t volunteered to help run the forum due to the unpleasantness of disputes, the prolonged nature of dispute resolution, poor past experiences or a lack of knowledge of how disputes can be resolved

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Pilot project on Arabic Wikipedia helps move the needle on editor growth

This post is available in 2 languages: العربية 7% • English 100%

In English

Snapshot of the Contribution Portal main page (Arabic)

Within the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Growth and Contribution Program, the first phase of a new contribution portal project was piloted on the Arabic Wikipedia over four weeks between 18th June and 17th July 2012. According to a preliminary analysis, it appears to have a positive effect on the ratio of new editors who make contributions to Wikipedia.

The key idea of this first phase was to create a page with a simple design in order to test the overall concept, while monitoring the ability of new users to perform various simple Wikipedia tasks relying merely on reading visualized tutorial pages. The portal was named Bawabatu Almusharakah (Arabic : بوابة المشاركة), which is literally translated as “Contribution Portal” or “The Participation Gateway”. It is meant to evoke a space which provides help as well as an being an entrance point for newcomers to Wikipedia, enabling them to contribute to its contents and share the knowledge they possess, while collaborating and communicating with existing Wikipedia community members.

Tutorial showing first steps in creating a new article, starting from the search box (Arabic).

The design of this phase of the contribution portal consisted simply of a main portal page leading to visual help tutorials. The main page of the portal starts with the question “What would you like to do in Wikipedia?”, followed by six buttons each listing a possible answer (create a new article, user page or redirect, fix a typo, add a reference, or post a user talk page message), and linking to a corresponding step-by-step tutorial page. For the first test of the concept, we tried to keep the page design as simple as possible to avoid any visual distraction. We also aimed to use as little text as possible in order to quickly guide visitors to their target page without requiring much time for reading. (more…)