Grants:IEG/Studying content interest and editor engagement factors with new editors

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Studying content interest and editor engagement factors with new editors

project contact:


Marc Miquel


We want to promote engagement by surveying and teaching new editors while following their learning to understand which factors are essential to stay in the project. We will create courses to teach basic editing steps and measure editors activity to understand success.

engagement target:


strategic priority:

Increasing Participation

total amount requested:

4800 USD

2013 round 1

Project idea edit

If we want more editors or we want them more engaged, why don’t we study the factors which help engagement? We know from previous studies which are public that new editors drop before the first 100 edits. We know from motivation studies that editors keep on writing because they think it is fun and they support free knowledge ideology. However, according to the theory of engagement there are many other factors such as aesthetics, feedback, attention, challenge, affective, appeal, etc.

We can follow a group of editors, help them initiate in the edition process and then study their degree engagement. This would like interfering the process strengthening some factors like delivering information and doing suggestions. Our hypothesis considers that helping new editors to detect their informational interests in which they can contribute it might be easier to engage them in regular Wikipedia edition activities.

This projects for the first time aims to understand scientifically how engagement occurs in Wikipedia editing learning process. Consequently, we will create strategies to support it with new teaching materials. When we have more results on what triggers new editors into being regular editors in the community we will be able to design better strategies to expand the communities.

Project goals edit

The goals of this project are two:

  1. Study the factors which are more important for Wikipedia engagement with a large group of new editors in order to promote their learning and activity.
  2. Generate teaching material, report analysis and new design/MediaWiki proposals according to the obtained insights.

To accomplish these goals, this project divides its efforts in three phases.

A) Initially we need to revise the current Engagement framework in scientific literature and see how it applies to editing activity. Our hypothesis is that if we help the future editor to detect his informational interests in which he can contribute it might be easier to engage him in a regular Wikipedia. At this phase we will start preparing the materials and technological tools for the following phases.

B) A set of surveys/interviews must be prepared according to them, to later include them with tasks. This process would continue with the complements of teaching material and suggestions particularly to each new editor. Particpants for the study will be called using a webpage and their teaching will be both online and offline (at a place to determine, like a university or city hall center).

C) We will measure the editors’ activity with several metrics. These are:

  • Number of edits
  • Number of articles they created
  • Activity in discussion pages

All the information from the study and participants Wikipedia activity is tracked and conclusions derived from its analysis. Material is shared and results are published real-time. Finally, we will propose MediaWiki extensions to promote those ‘engagement points’ and insights we detected. Last results publishing will be in an academic journal to decide.

Phase A will take from April until May, Phase B from May until July, Phase C from July until August.

Part 2: The Project Plan edit

Project plan edit

Scope: edit

Scope and activities edit

  1. To revise the current state of art for Engagement in Social Media environments.
  2. To establish a new model including the factors and associated hypotheses in Wikipedia.
  3. To test users in the editing process with ad hoc designed tasks. This will be in a local Wikipedia like Catalan.
  4. To elaborate teaching material, iterate the process and track results.
  5. To spread the results in several languages; see their applicability to the other Wikimedia projects.
  6. To publish the results in an academic journal.

Tools, technologies, and techniques edit

Scientific method would be used in all this research, meanwhile the teaching materials would be created on the base of existing ones.

  1. Survey/Interview is the proper method to approach editor engagement in real-time test settings.
  2. Editing tracking from new users can be done with manual count or existing Wikipedia analysis APIs.

Budget: edit

Total amount requested edit

4800 $

Budget breakdown edit

  • project management = $2150
Indented line start-up = $600
Indented line personal interviews and qualitative = 450$
Indented line evaluation & reporting = $1100
  • tools, technologies, and techniques = $400
Indented line programmer (API tools coding/development for metrics) = $200
Indented line recruitment/website for materials = $200
  • logistics and participants rewards = $2250
Indented line wikimedia merchandise for volunteer giveaways for 40 editors = 2000$
Indented line logistics & interviewing budget for 40 editors = $250

Intended impact: edit

Target audience edit

Everyone! Conclusions from the study might benefit the whole Wikipedia community! Yet, it is true that the new editor’s recruitment might target a range of users, they must not be limited to young people or technically oriented. Also, the proposals according to the insights as well as the teaching material must benefit all kind of new users. The study will take place with a minimum of 20 Catalan users because of my current location. Everything will be translated and uploaded to export the project to other communities or apply its findings to the Wikipedia with the proposals.

Fit with strategy edit

Increasing Participation is the main strategic priority of this project. Wikipedia is the most successful collaborative knowledge repository with a vast scientific literature. However, there is not any article referring to User Engagement, User Experience or any other field in relation to the user. Hence, the possibilities of learning something new and useful for future decisions and ‘wiki’ improvements are high. Not only it is important to teach new editors but to understand the triggers which facilitate them to continue with us in the community and helps them find their preferred activities. The effect it can have in creating better materials and starting new MediaWiki extensions for all languages can make a significant impact.

Sustainability edit

I expect the project results can be applicable across projects to benefit them and open a debate about which are the initiatives to reinforce engagement of new editors.

Measures of success edit

This project has different measures of success, first, in terms of scientific results and second, in material and design creation.

In the first case it is essential to obtain a clear answer about the elements which can increase effectively engagement: usability, teaching materials, task suggestion, etc. Since this project is partially a scientific research work its answers will be the seeds for future success. At the same time, in the user testing and interviewing process they will be suggested to write in Wikipedia and the number of edits and other factors will count as an important measure to estimate the projection of the study.

In the second case, the completeness and quality of the results reports, the teaching materials generated for the new editors and the proposal of MediaWiki extensions will count as a core metric for the project success.

Participant(s) edit

Marc Miquel, User Engagement researcher from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain) with professional incursions as User Experience in gaming and e-learning companies. I am now doing my PhD thesis in User Engagement in Wikipedia and I have experience in researching Wikipedia to present in Wikimania 2011 and Wikiacademy 2012 Berlin. The results from my study on ethnocentrism and Wikipedia topic coverage are available in RANLP 2011 proceedings. Also, I conducted annually the survey to Catalan Wikipedia editors with more than 600 answers on topics like article quality perception, usability or community dynamics. My work is to understand how engagement and persuasion occur and then promote them with new design solutions. I want to make a better world by creating technology which cares about users.

Part 3: Community Discussion edit

This sounds like a very good proposal and I would endorse it, but I don't think IPs are allowed to for obvious reasons. The loss of editors is the biggest problem our projects face and anything that helps understand the situation is very helpful to finding a solution. I'll add one comment. In the surveys I've seen on Wikipedia, people get discouraged if they are too long. This study can provide higly valuable information, so I would suggest gathering data in small pieces so as to not overwhelm the survey respondents all at once. It's probably a balancing act to get as much data as possible but not discourage people from completing the surveys. Best regards. 17:54, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Discussion edit

Community Notification: edit

I am in the process of notifying communities and other interested stakeholders.



Endorsements: edit

Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Understanding engagement factors through user research will help us to find solutions that better fit the community needs. Pginer (talk) 17:08, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
  • know and understand the needs of users is strategic. Having committed users is essential. knowing why, can refine the how. empower and engage people it's in the aim of WMF , a better understanding of how to do it is fundamental. --Mafoso (talk) 10:36, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I know previous research of Marc Miquel about self-referentiality in several Wikipedias and also I know his task preparing and analyzing user surveys in Viquipèdia year after year. I think that with his combination of technical and humanities skills he can tackle this project that combine research and technical/interface solutions. I support it. --Dvdgmz (talk) 22:52, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Marc Miquel is an innovative and original researcher, combining social science and computer sciences skills. He is also committed with a local "chapter" promoting Wikimedia mission. The research design of this proposal is good, and design having in mind other research developed at the WMF. All in all, I think this is an excellent proposal, --Lilaroja (talk) 20:25, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.