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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘Teahouse’

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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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