Photo by Beko, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Beko, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Putting numbers behind our stories and activities helps the community and the public to better understand what is happening on the ground, and how our movement programs are making an impact. Understanding how programs work in the Wikimedia movement has been a learning curve, that required not only learning new concepts, but also a change in practice: with strategic planning came the need to collect metrics that could better demonstrate the impact of the work done by Wikimedians all over the world.

Our movement’s shift toward evaluation and learning has come with some trade offs for program leaders: while this new practice has not always been easy to implement, it has greatly grown our understanding of programs.

In the beginning

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We started with conversations about expected changes, how we could measure them. Then came the logic models and spreadsheets, handwritten surveys, and A LOT of manual collection of data, which demanded huge time from Wikimedians. For example, a Wikimedian hosting an editathon in a museum would have to rely on participants signing up and potentially also collecting usernames manually at the event. After this, our Wikimedian-host would have to upload the username cohort to Wikimetrics, and run the corresponding reports choosing specific metrics. With the Magic Button, this process improved. Now it’s just about to get better.

The Programs and Events Dashboard helps manage online and offline programs including editathons, workshops, and education courses. The dashboard is being designed to work in any language and any Wikimedia project. In the Dashboard, Wikimedia program leaders can share program information and training materials, participants can pick up articles to edit and review other’s edits, and everyone can see what participants contributed as part of the program and overall contribution statistics for the program.

This new program tool makes for a better Evaluation experience for program leaders, both by making it easy to collect metrics, and to access the cumulative program data. By automating the process of collecting data, time-consuming manual collection is out of the way for program leaders. There are other aspects that build towards better managing process: the new Programs and Events Dashboard allows program participants to quickly learn easy markup, like how to write their own signature; see who else is working on the same article, which allows to avoid editing conflicts and increase collaboration; Wikipedians are able to sign up to review edited articles to make quality control easier, and organizers can share training resources for participants. All in one place.

Using the dashboard is very easy. You can login with your Wikipedia username through OAuth and create a program right away. Among other variables, you can enter home language, home project and start and end dates for your program. When you create your program, the dashboard generates a link for people to enroll, where participants can assign themselves articles to work, or review articles created by others.

Rapid access to cumulative data

Probably the most sought after feature is the ability to rapidly access cumulative program data. At one glance, users can see number of programs, editors involved, words added, article views, articles created, and uploads to Wikimedia Commons. By increasing data accessibility, we believe this new tool enables learning across the movement: it allows to set reasonably high expectations for new programs, and it also makes the feedback loop shorter, to re-adjust ongoing programs.

Easier access to other organizers

By showing the usernames of the program organizers, we give one step forward in better connecting program leaders across the movement to share expertise. This feature contributes to the key community factor that makes programs work.

We hope that this new tool encourages Wikimedians to keep doing the work they are doing across the movement, and serves as a tool to imagine even further possibilities for Wikimedia programs. We would also love to hear from users what features are missing and what could be improved in the Programs and Events Dashboard. As you start using the tool, please email eval@wikimedia.org and tell us how you like it!

María Cruz, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Learning and Evaluation team
Amanda Bittaker, Evaluation Strategist, Learning and Evaluation team
Jaime Anstee, Senior Manager, Learning and Evaluation team

Please leave feedback about the dashboard on Meta.