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Task force/Community Health/Former contributors survey

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This page is currently inactive and is retained for historical reference.

Interim results available

Interim results are available at Task_force/Community_Health/Survey


The Community Health Task Force decided that it would be useful to ask former project contributors why they stopped contributing. The Task Force developed a proposal based on these discussions. User:Howief has been driving the further refinement of this survey and the mechanism for actually doing the survey.


The goal of this research is to get broad, qualitative information about why users are leaving. This is not a quantitative study involving thousands of users. Rather it's a study to get the pulse of why contributors are leaving Wikipedia (and other WMF properties).

Components of Research

  1. Online survey: There will be an online survey (via an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey). We will post a link to this survey at TBD locations on strategy.wiki. We will also contact previous contributors and ask them to complete the online survey.
  2. Real-time interview: We will also reach out to former contributors and chat with them in real-time (e.g., Skype, IRC). The goal here is to be able to dig deeper and allow the richness of a real-time conversation give more texture to our understanding of abandonment. While we will ask the same basic set of questions across interviews for consistency, we expect these interviews to be a lot more unstructured.

Who We're Targeting

  1. Casual contributors (e.g., users that have made a handful of edits, but then stopped. Based on some analysis of editing behavior, we are targeting users that have made between 10-99 lifetime edits, none of which occurred within the past 3 months. We're also filtering for users whose last edit was in 2009.
  2. Heavy contributors (e.g., users from the missing wikipedians list)

Survey Questions

1. Contribution Background

  • When did you start editing (year)?
  • When was your last edit (year)?
  • What was your username? (optional)
  • During your time as an active editor, roughly how many edits did you make in a typical month?
  • 1
  • 2-9
  • 10-99
  • 100-999
  • 1000+

2. Why did you start editing Wikipedia? (select up to three reasons)

  • I saw a typo or small error and wanted to fix it
  • There was information that I wanted to add
  • I like the idea of volunteering to share knowledge
  • I enjoy researching and writing
  • I was assigned to do it (e.g., by work or school)
  • I wanted to test Wikipedia to see if it was really open for anyone to edit
  • Friends of mine were doing it
  • Other (please specify)

3. Why did you stop contributing to Wikipedia? (select up to three reasons)

  • I was drawn into other commitments (e.g. new job, new hobbies, started a family).
  • I had contributed enough information to improve the articles I was interested in.
  • Writing an encyclopedic article is difficult and/or time consuming.
  • Editing and maintaining multiple articles takes too much time for me.
  • Wikipedia is too confusing.
  • I felt that I was often working alone, with little feedback or support.
  • I found the atmosphere unpleasant.
  • Some editors made Wikipedia a difficult place to work.
  • Other (please specify)
  • I haven’t stopped contributing.

4. At the time of your last edit, did you personally feel like you still had a lot to add to the encyclopedia? (1 = Not much I could have contributed, 5 = A lot I could have contributed)

5. What was your most rewarding experience with Wikipedia? Why was it rewarding?

  • (open answer)

6. What was your worst experience with Wikipedia? (Remember, all answers will be kept anonymous and no action will be taken. This is for survey purposes only.)

  • (open answer)

7. Did the difficulty of the work have an impact on your decision to stop contributing? (select up to three reasons)

  • Yes. Writing an article is too difficult, or too much work.
  • Yes. I had difficulties using the editing interface.
  • Yes. I had difficulties using the discussion interface.
  • Yes. Watching and maintaining multiple articles was difficult/took too much time.
  • Yes. I had trouble understanding the rules about Wikipedia content.
  • Yes. I had trouble understanding the rules about volunteer behavior.
  • No. The difficulty of the work was not a major reason in my decision to stop contributing
  • No. I haven’t stopped contributing.
  • Other (Please specify)

8. Did the community have an impact on your decision to leave?

  • Yes. I asked for help, but did not receive the help that I needed.
  • Yes. I did not receive much feedback or appreciation for my work.
  • Yes. I was warned or sanctioned and decided to leave.
  • Yes. It took too much time to discuss content and build support for changes.
  • Yes. Several editors were rude to either me or my peers.
  • Yes. Several editors were too stubborn and/or difficult to work with.
  • Yes. My work kept on being undone.
  • No. The community was not a major reason in my decision to stop contributing.
  • No. I haven’t stopped contributing.
  • Other (Please specify)

9. On a scale of 1-5, how likely are you to start contributing again? (1=Never, 5=Definitely, it's just a matter of time)

10. Please read the following statements and select all that you believe are TRUE.

  • I stopped contributing because of something that happened in my life: it had little to do with Wikipedia.
  • My personal life makes it hard for me to edit on Wikipedia.
  • I regret that I had to stop editing Wikipedia.
  • When I think back on my time editing Wikipedia, I experience unpleasant emotions such as anger or frustration.
  • I would (or do) tell my friends to try editing Wikipedia.
  • I think I am very different from the typical Wikipedia editor.
  • Writing a good encyclopedia article takes too much work.
  • Other editors make it hard for me to edit on Wikipedia.
  • Wikipedia does a good job of maintaining neutrality.
  • Wikipedia does a good job of maintaining accuracy.
  • Wikipedia does a good job of dealing with disruptive editors.

11. Is there anything else you would like us to know? (open)

12. Would you be willing to have someone contact you for a 10-minute phone call or online chat to further discuss your experience with Wikipedia?

Draft Survey

A draft of the online survey can be found here.


We will roll out this survey in batches of 10,000. Depending on the response rate of the first batch, we will decide how many subsequent batches to send in order to get a healthy level of responses.

The first batch of 10,000 was sent on January 26, 2010.