As you may know from Sue’s March 2011 update, the Wikimedia Foundation has made it one of our highest priorities to improve the experience of new editors, and we thought we’d start right at the beginning: from when a potentially new editor makes an account.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Department has been studying how we can more effectively invite users who create new accounts to actually start editing. Since February, the Account Creation Improvement Project (ACIP) has been experimenting with different user interface messages and landing pages in the account creation flow (see their results and testing content to-date).
We didn’t have an A/B testing infrastructure that supported this work, so while ACIP has performed the first tests sequentially, we’ve now deployed a modification to our ClickTracking extension to English Wikipedia which will allow us to run multiple tests in parallel and record the results.
You’ll notice the “Log in/create account” link on the English Wikipedia will send you to several possible randomized log in screens, recognizable by the “ACP” identifier in the address. This is from the newly created CustomUserSignup extension. Over the next few months, we’ll be varying the look and messaging of these screens to see what kind of impact that has on new editors, and sharing our findings. Our testing framework will allow us to bucket-test small tweaks to the interface and measure the number of accounts created and edits made by users (in aggregate or on a per-session basis) who have gone through different flows.
What data we are storing
We are storing a new cookie upon visiting the “Log in/create account” page, with a lifetime of three months. This cookie will be used to track the following information:
- Which account creation messaging group the user was placed in (identified as ACP1, ACP2 or ACP3 for now)
- What version of the account creation campaign they recieved
- Whether the particular user made it to the end of the account creation process, or whether they dropped off after reaching the login screen or the account creation screen
- If (and only if) the user creates a new account, the number of edits or previews during the course of the trial
The information is associated with browser sessions (each of which has an individual unique identifier), not with an individual user or user account.
Anyone visiting the login page or the account creation page for English Wikipedia will have this
cookie set. This is to make sure that we always provide the same wording to a particular visitor, so as not to invalidate our test. We will stop setting this cookie at the conclusion of this work, though we will likely perform other similar tests in the future.
Because of the privacy-sensitive nature of the system, we have a limit on the level of granularity of our findings. For example, we won’t be able to create a plot of users vs edits, because we don’t have user-level data.
We look forward to the findings of the Account Creation Improvement Project, which will ultimately help us create a better sign-up experience for all users. Independent of this project, the CustomUserSignup extension may also prove useful to other outreach projects, by making it possible to create customized sign-up forms (e.g. for student workshops or e-mail invitations).