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Wikimedia Movement Strategic Plan Summary/Increase Participation

From Strategic Planning

Strategic Priorities: Increase participation

The editing community is the lifeblood of the Wikimedia projects, and its continued health, diversity and growth is critical to the movement’s future. It is a core principle of Wikimedia that “anyone can edit,” and we want to have a huge and diverse set of contributors.

In recent years, despite continued growth in articles and readership, the Wikimedia editing community has plateaued near 100,000 active editors.[1] Our work is both unique and new, so it is not yet clear whether those numbers will prove sufficient to sustain mature Wikimedia projects such as the English or German Wikipedia.[2] It is clear, however, that the less-mature Wikimedia projects will struggle to grow further, unless their pool of editors expands.

This chart demonstrates the rapid increase and plateauing of active Wikipedia editors (in all languages) from 2001 through December 2010.[3]

Large segments of the world's population do not edit the Wikimedia projects proportionate to their real-world numbers. The people who write the Wikimedia projects are disproportionately male, young, and from countries in the Global North:[4]

  • Four out of five editors are male.[5]
  • Half are under the age of 22.[6]
  • Four out of five edits come from countries in the Global North.[7]

Increasing both the total number of editors, and their diversity, is a key priority for the Wikimedia movement.

We need to improve our dispute resolution processes to prevent editor burnout. We need to recognize and reward editor excellence.

We need to invite readers to become editors – particularly women and people in the Global South. We need to improve the editing interface in order to reduce barriers to participation. When people try editing for the first time, we need to support and coach them.

“Five years from now, I would love to see ownership and representation on Wikipedia from people who live in the 'broad Global South.'” Achal Prabhala, Advisory Board member

“To get people excited, we need to reinvent the product itself. It looks like a website created in 2001. It feels like that. To increase participation, we have to improve the platform.” Frank Schulenburg, Wikimedia Foundation Head of Public Outreach

Through 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation will:

Encourage the health and growth of Wikimedia communities and the projects they sustain.

  • Develop new features and tools, such as a rich-text editor, enhanced navigation, and social functionality, to make editing easier and more fun.

  • Support the recruitment and acculturation of newer contributors by encouraging a welcoming environment on the Wikimedia projects, as well as supporting community leaders who are eager to serve as recruiters, guides and mentors for newer volunteers.

  • Encourage diversity by conducting outreach among groups that have the potential to bring new expertise to the projects, as well as by supporting leaders from underrepresented groups in their efforts to cultivate new members from within their communities.

  • Support offline and social events to increase community cohesion and commitment to the projects.

  • Create products and services that support affiliation and excellence among Wikimedians.

Expand Wikimedia’s global footprint through catalytic investments and chapter support.

  • Design and deploy catalyst teams to pilot activities spurring growth in readership and editing in the high-priority areas of India, Brazil, and the Arabic-speaking areas of the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Support Wikimedia chapters with financial or other assistance to enable them to serve their local Wikimedia communities effectively, and contribute to the health and growth of the overall movement. A priority will be pursuing outreach to expand and increase diversity in the contributor base. 

  • Facilitate community efforts to create organizational models and structures that support the Wikimedia projects.
  • Support volunteer initiatives that fuel the growth of communities and projects around the world, including meet-ups, public outreach activities and other volunteer innovations.

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  1. Active contributors are defined as individuals who make more than five edits per month; very active contributors make more than 100 edits per month.
  2. As of November 2010, the English language Wikipedia contains more than three million articles; the German language Wikipedia contains more than one million articles.
  3. Source: “Wikipedia statistics – all languages, Jan 2001 to Aug 2010.” http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaZZ.htm#activitylevels
  4. For the purposes of our discussion, the Global North includes Australia, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and all of Europe (including Russia). The Global South includes Asia (with the exception of Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan), Central America, South America, Mexico, Africa, and the Middle East (with the exception of Israel).
  5. According to the study, over 86 percent of contributors were male. Glott, R., Schmidt, P., Ghosh, R., (2009) Wikipedia Survey – Final results. UNU Merit. Retrieved from: http://www.wikipediastudy.org
  6. According to the study, 50 percent of contributors were under 22 years of age. Glott et al.
  7. 83.3 percent of all edits came from the Global North. stats.wikimedia.org (2009-2010) Wikimedia traffic analysis – page edits per country September 2009 through August 2010. Retrieved from: http://stats.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/squids/SquidReportPageEditsPerCountryOverview.htm