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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


News and information from the Wikimedia Foundation’s Strategy team (RSS feed).

Taking the stage: How we entered the Brussels Bubble

Big Fat Brussels Meeting April 2013. 1st meeting of EU-Policy Working group

Spring’s here again and we’re calling everyone to a strategy meet-up in Brussels! Join us in constructing our strategies and charming our way into EU policy-makers hearts and minds! Wikimedians along with all Free Knowledge enthusiasts are invited to help figure out our next steps in Europe. Prior knowledge about the Wikiverse or the intricate advocacy system is not necessary – diverse points of view produce better results!

Grouping the activists

At the first first Big Fat Brussels Meeting we discussed the inadequateness of the current copyright framework and focused on making some defining organizational decisions. As a result, a contact person in Brussels was implemented to monitor the EU, provide political intelligence, serve as a go-to point on EU issues within the Wikiverse and build up a network with other locally active organizations.

To establish our thematic focus, we mapped relevant issues (kudos to Anna Lena Schiller) and ran them in a community survey. The final step was to write out – as a group of European Wikimedia Chapters – a Statement of Intent, which was afterwards approved by the respective boards. This was done in London at the Wikimedia UK offices and will perhaps one day be considered the founding document of the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU. The whole process can be regarded as an effort to define our goals, as well as define those who will help achieve it.

Activating the group

The Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU monitored and analyzed exciting topics like net neutrality and data protection for their possible effects on Wikimedia projects. We were also challenged to appear on stage on a few occasions: We drafted model answers for the European Commission copyright consultation, requested a study on the “economic benefits of the public domain and open licensing to the European economy” and tried to save (+here) the Collective Rights Management Directive in a last minute attempt.

Developing Distributedly, Part 2: Best Practices for Staying in Sync

Staying in sync on a globally distributed team spread across timezones takes a lot more than using the right tools!

In part 1, we discussed the various tools the distributed mobile web engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation uses to stay synchronized. While the tools are critical to our success, it takes a lot more to ensure that we can successfully work together despite the geographic distances between us. Our development procedures and team norms are the glue that holds it all together.

As with the tools we discussed previously, the practices and norms I’ll discuss below are by no means unique to—or only useful for—distributed teams.


When you can’t just walk across the office or poke your head over the cubicle wall to sync up with a teammate, regular, structured moments for real-time, intra-team communication become critical. The mobile web team is a scrum-inspired agile team. As such, we use regular stand-ups, planning meetings, showcases and retrospectives to have some real-time, focused conversation with one another. Because we hold these meetings at a regular cadence and consider them critical touch points for the entire team, we think of them as rituals rather than regular meetings.

The WMF Mobile Apps engineering team holding a stand-up meeting with remote participation.

The stand-ups in particular are excellent for synchronization. Unlike traditional Scrum, we do not hold stand-up meetings every single day; rather, we do ours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We use this time to let everyone know what we’ve been working on, make commitments about what we will be working on, alert the team if there’s anything blocking us from getting our work done and quickly triage any bugs that have been reported since we last met. While we can always look in Mingle (our project management tool, see part 1) to see who is working on what and when, these brief meetings make it easier to raise issues and communicate about where further collaboration between teammates may be valuable.

Often, conversations about blockers and problem areas start during the stand-up and continue between the interested parties after the meeting has concluded. The meeting is kept short, time-boxed at 15 minutes, so there is little overhead; the meeting stays focused and we communicate just enough to keep us all moving forward.

The other rituals provide a great way for us to stay in the loop, bond with one another and allow the team tremendous influence over the product and our process. While their primary purposes are not about day-to-day synchronization like the stand ups, the other rituals are essential for reinforcing our self-organizing team. Particularly since we are distributed, these rituals are sacred, as they are the primary moments when we all know we can work together in real time.


Starting an education program for small chapters 1.0

Education program leader has to be a didactic teacher of Wikipedia principles.

Education program leaders have to be didactic teachers of Wikipedia principles.

Hundreds of Czech university students have had a “different” homework during the past two years. Instead of writing essays that end up in the teacher’s drawer (or worse, garbage bin), they took part in the Czech program “Students Write Wikipedia” and made a Wikipedia entry which will last and serve as a source for thousands of Internet users. Similar university programs are running essentially worldwide and notable initiatives have grown in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. However, smaller Wikipedia communities (i.e., those writing in a less common language, such as Czech with 12 million native speakers) sometimes still struggle to develop a “Wikipedia education program” of their own. This article is meant to be a guide for Wikimedians from all those small communities, explaining the most important steps in the way toward a representative, yet organisationally simple education programs.

I originally intended to name this post something like “Education program in 10 days” or “10 steps toward your own education program”. Then I decided to go for a less cheesy  heading – but the essence remains that this light-hearted post should present a simple and straightforward way towards cooperation with universities in your country.

Be modest in the beginning

I remember how excited I was when I decided to start the Czech education program. The important thing, however, is not to overdo the whole process. Easily, you may end up as a tired Wikimedian who replies to dozens of e-mails every day and motivated teachers haunt him/her in dreams. Really, start by running one or two pilot projects. Choose teachers in which you have a high confidence (e.g.,  your own ex-professors) and assist them as much as possible. Not only will it guarantee a successful project, but the teachers will feel good about the cooperation and will tip off their colleagues.

Learn to be a teacher of Wikipedia

One of your key duties is to be able to explain what Wikipedia is, how you can edit existing articles and how to add new. This is not as easy as it may sound. In your first lecture, you will try hard to say everything that can be said about Wikipedia. The students will, naturally, feel very confused. Over time, you will find out that there is really LITTLE that your students have to know in order to become Wikipedians:

  • Everyone can edit Wikipedia. You do not own or sign your articles. Everything is released under a free licence.
  • Every article must not plagiarize, must cite sources, must be neutral and deal with a “notable” topic.
  • This is the edit button, this is the editing window. Here you have buttons to add hypertext links, images and citations. Be bold!

And give them places to ask questions – as many as possible: Wikipedia environment, chat, social sites, e-mail, … be thoughtful of students’ preferences.


Who will lead the Arabic Language Initiative?

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

"Welcome to Wikipedia" (Wikipedia brochure front cover in Arabic)

In English

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to share the first draft of our Arabic Language Initiative strategy, and to invite applicants for the role of an Arabic Language Initiative Director (consultant) based in the region to lead the initiative. We are seeking a creative leader who is passionate about the mission of freely sharing the sum of all knowledge in Arabic. Great candidates will have an understanding of the challenges facing the Arabic Wikipedia and Arabic web content in general, and will have regional experience that enables him/her to navigate comfortably with communities from Marrakech to Muscat.

The Arabic Language Initiative was initiated in October 2011 as a catalyst strategy program alongside similar programs in Brazil and India. Our ultimate goal is developing a vibrant Arabic Wikipedia community that will build and sustain a rich encyclopedia that meets the aspirations of over 350 million Arabic speakers. Currently, there are 645 active Arabic Wikipedia contributors (as of April 2012) and we seek to expand this number to 1,000 within a year.

Over the past eight months, Wikimedia and the Arabic Wikimedia community have focused on empowering community participation in decision making, seeking out opportunities for partnerships in Arabic language countries, and learning from past and ongoing activities. Our approach for expanding the contribution base depends on online and offline programs. In April, we began work to design an editors contribution pilot program to develop new approaches to attracting and supporting new editors on Arabic Wikipedia. We have spent time in six countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia) to encourage the existing Wikipedia editors to build local communities and to form relationships with groups and organizations who share our mission and are interested in developing programs that help advance the Initiative.

We have already established partnerships with the Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) which provides partial financial support and seeks to develop supporting programs. We recently entered a partnership with Taghreedat, the popular Twitter-based initiative. They are planning to conduct Wikipedia workshops in a number of cities and are exploring other initiatives. We are working with groups in Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon to explore partnership opportunities and are on the look out for additional partners.

In July, we will conclude the first semester of the Education Pilot program in Cairo. To date, the seven participating classes at Cairo University and An-Shams University have successively contributed to editing 267 articles, adding more than 1.1 million bytes to the Arabic Wikipedia. We will be holding a workshop in Cairo at the beginning of July to review the results and plan the next steps for the program and we expect to expand the pilot in the coming months.

We will finalize the strategic plan after more community discussion and as we engage the Initiative Director. We welcome new ideas from the community and are seeking to support initiatives at the local level and/or new pilots on the wikis.

We believe in the strong opportunities of a growing and developing Arabic Wikipedia, and we need all hands in sustaining the growing momentum around the Arabic activities. Please keep an eye on our progress, share your ideas and actively reach out to us to become part of the mission that shall dramatically change the status of Arabic content on the web.


Moushira Elamrawy

Egypt-based Arabic Projects consultant



من سيقود مبادرة ويكيميديا للغة العربية؟
يسعد مؤسسة ويكيميديا أن تعلن عن انتهاء المسودة الخاصة بإستراتيجية مبادرة اللغة العربية، وذلك بالتزامن مع البحث عن مدير/ة (وظيفة إستشاري) لقيادة المبادرة. نبحث عن شخص مبدع، مؤمن/ة برسالة إتاحة المعرفة الحرة للجميع  ويتفهم طبيعة التحديات التي تواجه ويكيبيديا العربية ولديه/لديها قدرة على التفاعل بشكل سلس مع مجتمع ويكيبيديا العربي الممتد من المحيط إلى الخليج.

بدأت مبادرة ويكيميديا اللغة العربية في أكتوبر 2011، كجزء من المشروعات المُحفزة التي تضمنتها إستراتيجة المؤسسة، مثل مشروعي الهند والبرازيل. هدفنا الأكبر هو بناء مجتمع ويكيبيديا حيوي قادر على تطوير الموسوعة العربية لتلبي تطلعات ما يزيد على  350 مليون متحدث للعربية. حاليا يوجد نحو 650 مستخدم نشيط على ويكيبيديا العربية، ونأمل لدفع الرقم ليصبح 1000 خلال عام.

خلال الثمان أشهر الماضية، ركزنا على تفعيل مشاركة مجتمع ويكيبيديا في اتخاذ القرارات، وتطوير فرص التعاون والشراكة في الدول العربية، والتعلم من الأنشطة السابقة والحالية.  يعتمد منهجنا على زيادة عدد المحررين بالعمل على جذب مستخدمين جدد والترويج لويكيبديا سواء على الوِب أو بفاعليات وأنشطة على الأرض. في أبريل الماضي، أطلقنا برنامج المشاركة والذي يهدف لبحث وتصميم إستراتيجات فعالة تعمل على جذب مستخدمين جدد ومساعدتهم على التحرير، كذلك نعمل على الأرض في ست دول عربية مختلفة (مصر، تونس، الأردن، لبنان، المغرب والجزائر) حيث تواصلنا مع مجتمع ويكيبيديا في كل بلد لتمكينهم من قيادة أنشطة تعمل على جذب مستخدمين جدد، بالتعاون مع جمعيات أو مؤسسات غير ربحية، أو مجموعات عمل محلية.

لدينا بالفعل شراكات قائمة بالمنطقة، منها شراكة مع معهد قطر للحوسبة، التابع لمؤسسة قطر، والذي يقدم ببعض الدعم المادي ويسعي لتطوير برامج أخرى لدعم ويكيبيديا العربية، وشراكة أخرى مع مبادرة تغريدات الشهيرة بإطلاقها لحملة تعريب تويتر والتي تعمل معنا على عدة أنشطة مرتبطة بحملات على الوب وعلى الأرض، كما نعمل مع عدة مجموعات من الأردن، لبنان، مصر، الجزائر، تونس، المغرب.

بالرغم من أن أنشطة اللغة العربية حديثة العهد نسبيا إلا أننا أستطعنا بالفعل تحقيق قصص نجاح مثل برنامج القاهرة التعليمي الذي بدأ كتجربة في جامعتي القاهرة وعين شمس، والذي بالرغم من أنه لم ينته بعد، إلا إن الفصول السبعة المشاركة، استطاعت حتى الآن أن تضيف إلى الموسوعة 267 مقالة خلال الفصل الدراسي الثاتي لعام 2012، مضيفة أكثر من 1.1 مليون بايت إلى ويكيبيديا العربية خلال الأشهر الماضية.

سننتهي من الخطة الإستراتيجية بعد طرحها للنقاش المجتمعي وبعد أن يتم تعيين مدير/ة المبادرة. كذلك نرحب بالأفكار الجديدة التي يطرحها المجتمع، ونسعى لمزيد من الشراكات لتحفيز مشروعات على الأرض أو على الوِب.

نحن نؤمن بالفرص القوية لتحسين والنهوض بويكيبيديا العربية ونحتاج لكل العون لمساعدتنا على دعم استمرارية الحماس المتزايد حول الأنشطة العربية، تابعونا، وتابعوا تطورنا، وانضموا لنا لتكونوا جزءا من المبادرة التي من شأنها تغيير مستقبل المحتوى العربي على الإنترنت على مدار السنوات المقبلة.


مشيرة العمراوي

مستشارة للمشروعات العربية – مقيمة بمصر

Helping readers improve Wikipedia: First results from Article Feedback v5

Figure 1. One of the feedback forms tested in the AFTv5 experiments (Option 1).


The Wikimedia Foundation, in collaboration with editors of the English Wikipedia, is developing a tool to enable readers to contribute productively to building the encyclopedia. To that end, we started development of a new version of the Article Feedback Tool (known as AFTv5) in October 2011. The original version of the tool, which allows readers to rate articles based on a star system, launched in 2010. The new version invites readers to write comments that might help editors improve Wikipedia articles. We hope that this tool will contribute to the Wikimedia movement’s strategic goals of increasing participation and improving quality.

Testing new feedback forms

On December 22, 2011, we started testing three different designs for the AFTv5 feedback forms:

  • Option 1: Did you find what you were looking for? (shown above)
  • Option 2: Make a suggestion, give praise, report a problem or ask a question
  • Option 3: Rate this article

The purpose of this first experiment was to measure the type, usefulness and volume of feedback posted with these feedback forms. For example, does asking a reader to describe what they were looking for (option 1) provide more actionable feedback than asking them to make a suggestion (option 2)?

We enabled AFTv5 on a small, randomly selected set (0.6%) of articles on the English Wikipedia, as well as a second set of high-traffic or semi-protected articles. A feedback form, randomly selected from the above three options, was placed at the bottom of each page. The feedback form was also accessible via a link docked on the bottom right corner of the page.  The resulting comments were then analyzed along a number of dimensions.


A new way to contribute to Wikipedia

We’re happy to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation has started testing a new version of the Article Feedback Tool, to engage readers to help improve Wikipedia — and to become editors over time. We’re very excited about this new development, and look forward to getting more people to contribute to Wikipedia as a result.

Earlier this year, a first version of the Article Feedback Tool (“Rate this Page”) was rolled out to all articles on the English Wikipedia.  The idea behind this feature was two-fold: to provide a measurement of article quality from readers and to provide a potential on-ramp for these readers so that some may become editors.  We found through our analysis that while direct quality assessment is a very tricky matter (a rating of the Justin Bieber page says as much about the rater’s opinion of Bieber as it does about the quality of the article), the use of ratings as a form of low-barrier participation showed promise.  We also received plenty of feedback from the community around how we might improve this feature.

In October, we began development of the next generation of the tool (AFTv5).  Instead of focusing on explicit quality ratings, we shifted the direction of the tool towards finding new ways for readers to help build the encyclopedia.  So rather than primarily asking them to rate the quality of the article, we are asking readers for their input on how to improve the article. We are still testing different lightweight quality metrics, as well.

We are approaching this development in several phases.  The first phase, which went live today, is a test deployment of three new versions of the tool on approximately 10,000 randomly selected articles on the English Wikipedia and on a small number of manually selected articles. For examples, see Android, Wikipedia, and Global Warming.

Here is one of the three versions that are being tested:

This new version of the tool asks the reader whether they found what they were looking for, and if not, prompts them to explain what is missing.  The intent of this version is to provide editors with some idea of feedback on what readers are actually hoping to see when they read a Wikipedia article.  This information may then be used by the editing community when deciding how to improve the page.  The other two versions also ask for reader comments, but with different questions: the second version lets you make a suggestion, give praise, report a problem or ask a question; the third version lets you review the article. These new forms were developed by OmniTI, a web development firm, and were based on designs created by the Wikimedia Foundation in collaboration with the Wikipedia community. To learn more, visit the AFTv5 project page.

We are inviting members of the editing community to evaluate the quality of the comments coming in from each of these three versions of the feedback form.  The goal is to determine which of these versions is most effective at providing high quality feedback that can help improve articles.  Aaron Halfaker, a Wikipedia researcher from the University of Minnesota and a WMF contractor, has developed an evaluation tool that will enable Wikipedia editors to systematically evaluate the quality of the feedback provided. Assuming that these new versions provide constructive feedback, the next step would be to expose these comments in Wikipedia.  To that end, a “Feedback Page” is now under development with community input, and will provide a space where editors can view article feedback, moderate the comment stream, and promote the best contributions to the article talk page.

Oliver Keyes, a member of the English Wikipedia community, is under contract with the Wikimedia Foundation as a Community Liaison to involve editors in this project.  In this role, Oliver is moderating discussions, collecting feedback about the tool, and working with the development team to incorporate this feedback.  Many of the ideas that are in the current test versions came from discussions with these editors.  We will continue to work with the community very closely in the next stages of product design and development. If you’re part of the editing community and want to get involved, please email Oliver (okeyes at wikimedia dot org). Our immediate need is to help evaluate the comment streams generated by each option.  Very soon, we will also need editors to help us design the Feedback Page, which will be used to review and potentially act on the feedback comments.

We hope this new feature can help engage a broader community of readers to provide constructive feedback on articles, share what they know and contribute regularly on Wikipedia.

Howie Fung, Senior Product Manager

Fabrice Florin, Product Consultant

Arabic Wikipedia Convening

Yesterday was the last day of our first ever Arabic Wikipedia Convening which was which was held in Doha and kindly hosted by QCRI. For 3 days, Arabic Wikipedians, academics and technical specialists, shared their thoughts on improving the quality of articles, increasing the number of contributors and the different models of engaging Wikipedia in education.

This is probably the first time Arabic Wikipedians, who are scattered across the Middle East, get a change to meet in person. It was our pleasure meeting each of Ciphers, Abanima, Ahmad, OsamaK as well as Rami Tarawneh, who is among the early founders of Arabic Wikipedia. On the first day and after brief introductions, Rami told us the story behind how Arabic Wikipedia started; what were the challenges that faced the community during the early days and how Arabic Wikipedia policies changed along with time. For the rest of the day and for the following couple of days, the discussions revolved mainly around three main topics: Machine translations, education and outreach. We listened to the lessons learned from a machine translation project that was carried out in 2009 on Arabic Wikipedia and we had a presentation by Bala Jeyaraman, who gave us a detailed and impressive talk about a similar project that was finished last March on Tamil Wikipedia. Naren Datha, from WikiBhasha team, also gave a small talk about how their tool works. In addition to machine translation, Frank Schulenburg gave a brief introduction to how our global education program operates in different countries, then we listened to a success story by the coordinator of WikiArabi project. Our last day included discussions around possible online and offline outreach strategies that can leverage both the content and the number of contributors of Arabic Wikipedia, we were also introduced to Arabic Web Day initiative.

The discussion helped the community communicate on a personal level, and present its culture and aesthetic to enthusiasts who are considering using Wikipedia as a platform for enhancing Arabic web content, and to the QCRI team who are currently helping our Global Development department render a number of solid projects on the ground across MENA.

The global development team will leave the 80°F/27°C Doha in a couple of hours, heading to Amman for a one day visit to The University of Jordan, before we go to Egypt, for meetings with professors at Cairo University, and with the Arabic Wikipedia Community.

A year ago, Arabic Wikipedia was nearly 120k articles, with a community striving to start an action on the ground in different places, by applying a chapter model in different locations across the region. Our MENA catalyst project is now bringing new possibilities, growing a more solid vision, with feasible funding and a work-in-progress action plan.

We shall keep you posted with our next steps and research findings, meanwhile, wish us luck in our MENA endeavors, a region which is hot, in many different ways.

Moushira Elamrawy
Global Development Team

Wikimedia Foundation to Launch Arabic Catalyst

Wikimedia Foundation to Launch Arabic Catalyst

As many of you know, the Wikimedia movement strategy that was finalized in February 2011 re-emphasized the importance of Arabic Wikipedia to the achievement of the Wikimedia vision. The Wikimedia Foundation team has started in the past month to work on plans to support the growth of Arabic Wikipedia in the coming months and years. We want to learn about the region and the Arabic Wikipedia community and we would like to start some initiatives in the region to create new enthusiasm for Wikipedia and close the gap between Arabic Wikipedia and larger projects, such as English Wikipedia. There are close to 400 million people who speak Arabic and we want them included in our vision.

Our plans came in line with a common interest of Qatar Foundation’s computing research institute – QCRI team which was researching possible ways of supporting Arabic Wikipedia. They feel that the Arabic language community needs to have a great Wikipedia and they want to help us to build on your work in the community to attract new editors and try new approaches. We asked them to host a small working session with us, a group of leading contributors to Arabic Wikipedia and some outside advisors as a way for us to start making plans for the near future. We will be holding this working session in Doha on 20 and 21 October. While we will only have a few people there in person, we would like to hear your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges and have set up a space on Arabic Wikipedia; for discussion before, during and after the session. We will also capture notes to share the results of the discussion. We are excited to create the first of hopefully many opportunities for Arabic Wikipedians to get together in person.

Beyond the working session, the Wikimedia Foundation is in discussions with the Qatar Foundation the joint collaboration of a pilot and then a broader launch of our Global Education Program in the region. This initiative which has been launched in the United States and India presents a real opportunity to bring new forms of contributions to Arabic Wikipedia. We plan to support outreach activities you might want to plan locally as well as regional initiatives. We are taking another look at translation work reflecting on the experiences with Google’s translation work and experiences in other parts of the world. Finally, we want to hear from the community and like-minded groups about new and innovative ways to support the growth of the Arabic Wikipedia community.

This is bound to be a long journey together and we look forward to getting to know the Arabic Wikipedia community, to learning from you and to partnering with you to achieve our shared vision. We will have an IRC hour on Thursday, October 13 2011 at 20:00 UTC in #wikipedia-ar, to listen to the community suggestions and respond to any inquiries around the initiative. The conversation will be in English and Moushira will assist with translation if required.

Barry & Moushira

Barry is the Chief Global Development Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation based in San Francisco, USA. Moushira is a consultant to the Wikimedia Foundation based in Alexandria, Egypt.

Report for Editor Survey, April 2011

Blog readers and the wider Wiki community alike have waited patiently for both the final report and raw data from the editor survey conducted in April. We have good news: it’s finally here.

This post links to the landing page for the final report on Meta, which is available on meta wiki itself and as a downloadable PDF. In addition, raw, anonymized data in a CSV format is available on data dumps for download and further analysis.  We have also provided a codebook and documentation to aid in analysis.

The report covers the following research areas:

  • Editing Activities: What drives editors to edit Wikipedia? What are the different types of editing activities? How do the editors assess the different tools available to them?
  • Demographics: What is the educational background of editors? What is the gender and age distribution of editors? What are the differences and similarities among different groups of editors?
  • Women editors: What are the experiences of women editors? Do women editors have different experiences compared to male editors? Can women editors be segmented into different groups?
  • Editing community: What kinds of interactions do editors have with each other? What kinds of interactions are conducive to editing and what are deterrents to future editing?
  • Location and Language:Where do editors live? How many language Wikipedias do editors edit? Which language Wikipedia gets the maximum attention?
  • Technology and Networking: What kinds of technological devices do editors own or have access to? What devices do they use for editing and reading Wikipedia? Do editors use social media tools? How?
  • Foundation, chapters and board: What is the assessment of the foundation, its chapters, and the Wikimedia movement? Do editors participate in board elections?
We are really excited about sharing the raw data from the survey and urge the community and other researchers to conduct further analysis using the data files. Our report is a first cut at analysis, and we are hopeful that other researchers will conduct more analysis to answer some of the following questions: how does geography impact contributions? Are there differences based on tenure? What can be done to attract more editors to Wikipedia?

Such insights take time to develop, but we can assure you the results are worth the wait.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the tenth in series of blog posts where we previously shared 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)