This report aims to grow community knowledge about Wikimedia Writing Contests using data, stories and resources. Also, this report can be used for planning future contests, exploring contest outcomes, and celebrating successes. The report includes:
Data from 39 contests about inputs, outputs and outcomes. The data include a total of 745 participants who added nearly 23 million characters to over 15,000 articles, across 11 or more different language Wikipedias.
Quotes from interviews with contest organizers, to offer context and first-hand insight around setting goals, planning and tools for writing contests.
Writing contests may be a good way to engage community and create content. The average contest had per week 3.5 participants, 64,712 characters, and 25 articles created or improved. In general, as the number of participants increased, the amount of content produced for writing contests also increased.
Retention rates appear to be high for writing contests, compared to some measures of editor retention. About 18% new users and 83% existing users made at least one edit three months after the start date of the contests. From interviews, program leaders explain they use specific strategies to recruit different types of editors.
Contest designs seem to vary widely and interviews with program leaders suggest that contest design depends highly on contest goals. Some of the elements that influence the design include: contest length, proportion of new users, and target contribution goals.
On Community “Some judges are people who used to participate in the contest…people change, they graduate from college and do other things. Maybe they don’t have enough time to edit substantially enough for six months to be competitive, but they have time to judge for a couple of weeks."
User:Shipmaster Producer Prize on Arabic Wikipedia
We need more data in order to draw stronger key findings about inputs (e.g. dollars, volunteer hours), outputs (e.g. bytes added), or outcomes (e.g. retention). This also means that we are limited in determining the following:
Costs for writing contests. Key costs for writing contests may include purchasing prizes, shipping prizes, and awards ceremonies, but other costs may exist depending on local context. In addition to dollar cost, we need more data around the important work of volunteers and staff.
Associating costs to outcomes. The report is unable to draw clear conclusions about how inputs influence outputs and outcomes without more data.
Other measures and outcomes. This report is limited to certain measures and outcomes about writing contests. Other outcomes likely exist which are not captured, for example: growing volunteer abilities for running programs and increasing collaborative editing, among others.
On Collaboration ”When you write regularly on Wikipedia, people do not normally notice your page, you are working in the dark...it is a much more collaborative effort during the competition times"
Use the report data for planning future writing contests. The report summarizes each input, output and outcome metric. For planning, program leaders and funders can use the range of data to know what is generally a high or low number for each metric. Tables are provided with data from each contest. This is available to offer readers access to local context information and contacts.
Increase shared learning about contests through data. Having more data and more measures are key to having a deeper understanding about writing contests and their outcomes. This includes online data (e.g. articles created) as well as offline data (e.g. budget, volunteer hours, motivation). Two ways to increase data is to increase capacity building around data collection, as well as improve data collection tools.
You are invited to visit and contribute to the new toolkit on editing contests. Learn about contest planning strategies, scoring systems and judging tools. Share your insights and ideas for how to run successful contests. Post your feedback, requests and questions so that we can build the best possible platform to serve the writing contest community!