Campaigns frequently start in a number of unexpected places: a meeting of different Wikimedia movement organizers with different skills coming together and identify a shared initiative. Some examples include: Wiki Loves Monuments was an iteration on a previous less-than-perfect attempt to do photography campaigns in museums in the Netherlands; #1lib1ref and Women in Red both coalesced around conversations related to Wikimania in Mexico City; Art+Feminism started as a series of conversations between activists; CEE Spring and Wikimedia Asian Month were both driven by a desire to increase collaboration across their respective regions; and Wiki Loves Africa started as a way to inspire communities across Africa to organize in the Wikimedia movement.
Meta Organizers who coordinate campaigns are frequently inspired by different goals including:
- Filling content gaps
- Onboarding newcomers
- User retention
- Working with or meeting the goals of partners or funders
- Expanding the capacity of local communities
- Satisfying a personal agenda
Increasingly with a focus on the Movement’s Strategic Direction, Campaigns should focus on achieving the various conditions needed to make Wikimedia “essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge”, such as inviting new participants in our mission or filling gaps in fundamental or important knowledge.
When designing campaign ideas, it's important to ask the question:
- Who is the audience for the campaign and why will it appeal to them?
- Will the theme or topic of the campaign include both existing and new community members?
- What are the simple tasks that new contributors can do as part of the campaign?
- Does your organizing community and the audience for the campaign have sufficient expertise to participate in that theme or topic?
Like other kinds of Movement Organizer workflows, catalyzing campaign ideas requires both a mix of collaborative convening spaces and an understanding of the various kinds of tactics possible within the Wikimedia movement. If your community is interested in generating campaign ideas, we suggest:
- Convening a mix of existing community organizers and allies or partners you hope to activate to generate ideas. The Movement Organizers research highlighted how in-person collaboration allow for greater creative collaboration and trust.
- Focusing on contribution models that can appeal to both experienced Wikimedians and newcomers --- having multiple modes of contribution with different levels of complexity, makes participation more diverse and impactful in the campaign.
- Encouraging participants to think creatively about how to achieve the shared goals: a lot of communities fall back on conventional approaches to contribution because that is what they know or are personally motivated for (i.e. soliciting “anything goes” editing events where newcomers don’t know how to identify a topic, or running editathons, which, across the movement, don’t have high retention of newcomers). Some of the most successful campaigns in the movement have relied heavily on organizing strategies and practices that are not “typical” within the Wikimedia movement.
The bulk of the work for making a campaign successful typically involves the core team of meta organizers who coordinate a campaign in the months leading up to a campaign. The first iteration that a team runs a campaign typically requires a larger pre-investment in developing materials -- because they don’t have materials from previous iterations of the campaign or need adapt materials from other campaigns.
Sometimes the amount of time and energy invested in the first several iterations of a campaign may be disproportionate to the amount of content or community activated because of this startup investment. In subsequent iterations of running the campaign, certain kinds of work will decrease because of the ability to reuse messaging or other kinds of materials built in previous iterations, but other kinds of work may increase as the team try to iterate based on community feedback, or as more and more communities want to participate in the campaign.
Questions to ask before preparing for a campaign:
- What scale of time or energy is my team willing to invest in preparing for the campaign?
- Does the team envision this campaign or contest being implemented only once? Or is this going to be iterated on multiple occasions?
- At the end of the campaign, what scale or kinds of outcome will be successful for my team to feel good about the work? Does the team agree on that outcome?
- Does my organizing team include people with the different skills I need to be successful?
- If working with volunteers, is there enough redundancy of key skills in the team, that it would be okay for someone to step back from the work because of changes in their life situation?
- Many themes and topics will require some knowledge of supporting that community (i.e. affinity with the practices or discourse that the target community)
|Step in workflow||Approaches||Further Reading and Tools|
|Gather resources, allies and partners||At the beginning of a campaign, organizers typically consolidate their allies that they want to partner with and make sure that they are interested and able to contribute to the campaign. Partners typically include a subset or mix of the following kinds:
||Learn more about Wikimedia movement affiliates:
Learn more about developing partnerships in the movement at the Partnership and Resource Development Portal
|Build worklist and design participation tools||Creating a Worklist
Most campaigns or projects, have a curated worklist of some sort that focuses new contributors who don’t know how to find their own topics on Wikimedia projects or experienced contributors who want a simple and easy way to get started on an unfamiliar topic. A strong worklists reduces the amount of time new participants have to spend “figuring out where to start” and focus them on the activity at the core of the campaign.
Examples of this kind of list building activity includes:
As Wikidata becomes more complete and tools using Wikidata become more end user friendly, Wikidata lists can be a strong foundation for the workflist: for example, the Women in Red team is trying to transition as much of their data onto Wikidata as possible because to create greater visibility of potential women biographies across all Wikimedia communities and Wiki Loves Monuments is converting their database to Wikidata.
Building a worklist, by itself, can be a valuable contribution to the broader Wikimedia ecosystem of knowledge and can be a way to activate more experienced contributors before the campaign -- collecting potentially notable topics, consolidating off-wiki lists and sources, or enriching data on Wikidata all create a foundation for future contributions. Consider running a content drive with Wikimedians, librarians or experts before the main campaign focused on building the list.
Designing participation strategies
As a complement to, or sometimes a prerequisite for, the worklist is creating clear, simple and targeted ways to participate for the intended audience of the campaign. This can range from the very simple to the very complex:
If you plan to judge the content for rewards, prizes or recognition of participants you will want to develop a scoring strategy appropriate to the participation method. Here are some examples:
Organizer participation strategies
In addition to the content contribution strategy, you may have to develop a strategy for soliciting organizer support from local communities. For more information on this, see the Package activities for communities to replicate step.
A thought on designing participation
Note that you may not have to design for all of these types of contributions in the first iteration. For most campaigns, designing for a main focus during the first iteration, and then adopting and supporting good ideas or contribution strategies developed by participants in the first campaign for subsequent version allowed organizers to not get overwhelmed. For example, #1lib1ref started with only the Citation Hunt tool in mind and not anticipating in-person events which became central to subsequent editions; Women in Red didn’t use Red Link Lists, even though that is one of the currently most distinctive components of the project; and Art & Feminism didn’t anticipate needing to support events globally, but was focused heavily on supporting the content writing in its early stages.
Contribution participation tool examples:
Organizer support tools
|Develop messaging and timeline||Timing and timeline
Contests and campaigns can have a duration as short as a few days or a week or as long a month or multiple months. Depending on the activity you are doing, different audiences will have different capacity to absorb or focus for a window of time. When designing a campaign, make sure to evaluate your timing and timeline on the following:
Throughout the campaign or contest, it is important to have consistent messaging that helps broadcast the participation in the campaign and that local communities can translate, customize and localize for their needs. Some audiences, like very committed Wikimedians, will show up and participate in a campaign with limited outreach and communications. However, especially for external communities or networks, it's important to develop a strategy that appeals to that audience’s needs. During this activity, organizers typically:
Most external-facing campaigns maintain some sort of contact tracking strategy among the meta-organizers or on each local team’s tracking environment. There are typically two types:
|Package activities for communities to replicate||Typically campaigns have a series of in-person events or will have multiple local digital activities or events spread across multiple Wikimedia Wikis: it is important to package the anticipated method for participation in a way that organizers from multiple organizations, contexts or levels of experience in the Wikimedia movement can replicate it.
Increasingly campaigns are producing organizer focused toolkits to provide this support:
Additionally, new organizers may face challenges that they may not have experience with. If planning for local community activities, meta organizers might need to help local organizers connect with infrastructure or event partners who might provide venue or other infrastructure such as laptop, projector etc.. With Art+Feminism for instance, the central organizers distribute the organizing packages described above alongside support with connecting with Wikimedia trainers and other resources needed for the local event. In both Wikimedia Sverige’s partnership with the Swedish Embassies for WikiGap and BBC 100 Women editathons and the Amnesty and Wikipedia event supported by Wikimedia UK, the affiliate supported connecting local partners with Wikimedia Communities.
Editathon trainings and resources:
Campaigns in the Wikimedia movement typically have a very intense time bound contribution window, where a virtuous cycle of contribution, monitoring and communication can be used to increase the level of participation. This virtuous cycle is not always organic: participants may not be very good at communicating or recruiting more participants to the campaign and its important to support newcomers to the Wikimedia community to make sure that on-wiki local communities don’t bite newcomers and they stay engaged in the Event. Developing a plan for monitoring and supporting the contribution is important for building and maintaining momentum in the project.
Before the Campaign Engagement Window, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the organizing team ready to support newcomers and participants in the campaign? Do you know how to monitor and supporting participants?
- Have you begun preparing update communications, so that it is easy to send out updates to participants during the campaigns?
|Step in workflow||Approaches||Further Reading and Tools|
|Targeted contribution||If communications and participation strategies go well (see above description) individual contributors and local communities will start contributing to the campaign. During most Wikimedia Campaigns unexpected or exemplary contributions.
If contribution does not happen how you hoped, consider reevaluating your communications or contribution strategies with the following questions:
Many campaigns, contests or newcomer invitation strategies don’t work in their first iteration: that is okay; iteration and learning from these experiences is how the WIkimedia movement identifies gaps, opportunities for new activities or
|Monitoring participation||Work with local teams, judges and reviewers to monitor the quality of the content being created and provide feedback to the contributors. Most events or campaigns devote time and energy as part of the campaign to finding high quality example content for communications and for showing examples of ideal content for folks who are just beginning to participants.
During contests, it's important to monitor and provide feedback so that contributors have an opportunity to improve the work that’s not up to par. Moreover, most campaigns involving newcomers encounter deletion or other both negative and positive community interactions.
|Communications for engaging contributors||Provide regular updates such as weekly statistics, leader of the day etc. to motivate existing and engage new contributors. Communications often highlight the participation of communities and stories about individuals involved in the campaign as a way of both encouraging strong participants and reminding other participants of the opportunities related to the campaign.
Here are some good examples of ongoing communications about the campaign content:
Campaign followup is a really important of organizing campaigns: it is an important part of the long-term impact of campaigns, a moment where high quality contributions and organizing can be recognized, impact communicated, and lessons learned shared with the broader Wikimedia movement.
|Step in workflow||Approaches||Further Reading and Tools|
|Follow-up and re-engage contributors||Followup communications
If the contest wants to identify and support some type of recognition or scoring based on quality or quantity of impact, you may need a planned judging process. For example, Wiki Loves monuments goes through several rounds of first National Level and then international level judging of photographs using the Montage Tool.
Announcing Winners and Awards
Many contests or campaigns have competitive rewards. Some projects focus on intangible awards, such as barnstars, recognition through award ceremonies, or supporting the content as featured content. Other projects provide something tangible: internet access, gift cards or cash rewards, swag, or materials. Consider getting more tangible rewards as in-kind donations from partners.
When announcing Winners, consider creating a blog post, press release, or other broadcast of the content -- its a good way to educate the public about how individual contribute to Wikimedia projects. Examples include the annual announcements from Wiki Loves Monuments and Wiki Loves Earth.
Moreover, award ceremonies can be good ways of taking something that sometimes feels abstract (contributing to an online community) and make it practical. Moreover Award ceremonies are good ways to encourage press, partner awareness, and recognition of volunteers.
To ensure contributor retention, create a follow-up plan for notifying and engaging folks after a campaign. Some campaigns and contests, like WikiProject Women in Red, have natural “homes” for ongoing participation after the campaign -- developing a WikiProject for ongoing contribution is a good way to do that.
Other projects like #1lib1ref and Wiki Loves Monuments rely on local organizing teams to keep track of participants, and engage them in local Wikimedia activities. Encouraging local organizing teams to work with local Wikimedia affiliates to keep them and campaign participants involved involved.
Most programs, outreach and campaigns in the Wikimedia movement do not have high ratios of retention of newcomers. Consider running experiments with your campaign and community to improve retention and sharing those experiments with the broader movement.
|Evaluate and report||Evaluation is important for campaigns and contests in a number of ways: first it can help articulate the impact of the work for sharing and communication subsequent the campaign; second the visibility of impact can encourage others to participate in future campaigns or create their own inspired by your work; and last by learning from what did and didn’t work when organizing an event.
Most campaigns have impact reports of some sort, to help both individual participants and the wider community see and understand the impact of the work. These reports are also useful for helping partners and funders understand the work that you have completed. Here are some example reports:
Describing learning and identifying next steps
Campaigns involve iteration, experimentation and often innovate in how Wikimedia communities. Some communities describe the learnings in the general reports (see Reporting Impact) but additional reflections on what worked, what didn’t work and how to implement improved support for the program can also be helpful. Examples of these kinds of communications include: