Executive Summary: Looking across Wikimedia community audiences
In mid-2016, the Wikimedia Foundation initiated a new survey process called Community Engagement Insights. This process aims to improve the alignment between the Wikimedia Foundation and the communities it serves. In this survey process, Foundation staff designed hundreds of questions that were organized into an online survey. Over 260 questions were asked in this survey to multiple audiences.
The executive summary below looks across the four audiences involved in the survey: Editors, Affiliates, Program leaders, and Technical contributors.
Looking ahead, the survey is being planned to repeat in 2017-18 fiscal year, and the survey will be distributed in February 2018. We need your help to keep improving this survey each year. You can help with community outreach, translation, or even survey planning. Tell us how you'd like to get involved >>
From January to February 2017, a survey was sent to four Wikimedia audiences.
The survey included questions from 13 different Foundation teams who needed to hear from communities about their needs, feedback and outcomes of the team's work. Teams were required to ask survey questions that were related to their long-term goals. Overall, the Foundation teams had six long-term goals for the four audiences :
(1) Growing communities
(2) Improving collaboration & communication
(3) Improving software
(4) Improving community health
(5) Improving capacity development
(6) Increasing access to resources
260 questions are available in the report.
The data in this executive summary represents the questions that were available to every single survey participant. Many of questions were only specific to one or two audiences. In addition, each Foundation team had their own priorities for using the data from this survey. So each team will hopefully be able to synthesize and publish what their key findings are and how they might use the results. To explore all the questions asked in this survey, please refer to the data & graphs page to explore more data.
Editors, or contributors, are people who add content or help to curate information on the Wikimedia projects. For editors, we sent the survey using mass message to 12 different language Wikipedias, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, as well as a sampling of all other Wikimedia projects.
Wikimedia Affiliates are officially recognized organizations who represent Wikimedia around the world. They include Wikimedia Chapters, Wikimedia Thematic Organizations, and Wikimedia user groups. For this survey, we sent the survey to leaders from each organization such as a board member, senior staff, or lead volunteer.
Program leaders are people who conduct outreach activities to help share Wikimedia to the world and to engage folks in contributing. Popular programs organized by program leaders include Editathons, editing workshops, editing contests, Conferences, Wikipedia Education programs, GLAM, Wiki Loves Monuments, other photo events, and several other programs. We sent the survey to program leaders who have been in contact with the Foundation in various ways, such as conferences, events, and as grantees.
Technical contributors are sometimes also called "volunteer developers". They include anyone who contributors to the process of improving Wikimedia technology, from those who submit bug reports, those who create bots and tools, and those who write software for the MediaWiki code base. We heard from volunteer developers in this survey through mailing lists.
The data in the questions below went to every single participant in the survey, regardless of which audience. This is descriptive data, which tells us who took the survey. To explore more data, visit the data and graphs page of the report.
The median response rate for editors was 26%. The overall response rate for affiliates was 53% and for program leaders it was 42%. Because volunteer developers used a convenience sample, we are unable to estimate response rate, but we can report that 120 volunteer developers started the survey.
1 – English (23%)
2 – N. America/W.Europe (incl. german french, etc.) (32%)
3 – Ibero (spanish, portuguese) (25%)
4 – Eastern Europe (Russian, other CEE languages) (31%)
5 – Asia/India (Japanese, Chinese, Other Asian) (24%)
The median proportion of editors who reported identifying as female was 10% across the language groups. The highest was 17% and lowest was 9%. The reported proportion of female participants for volunteer developers was 15%, for affiliates 28%, and for program leaders 25%. From all the data, about 1% reported identifying in another way so this proportion was too small to show in the graph. Across all the audiences, the number of respondents to this question was 3,228. As a result of the low response rate, this survey is potentially subject to response bias, so it would be difficult to compare the data to previous years.
1 – English (16%)
2 – N. America/W.Europe (incl. german french, etc.) (10%)
3 – Ibero (spanish, portuguese) (10%)
4 – Eastern Europe (Russian, other CEE languages) (9%)
5 – Asia/India (Japanese, Chinese, Other Asian) (9%)
For editors, our sampling strategy targeted some of the largest Wikipedias in number of editors, including French, Spanish, and Dutch. For this reason, many of the editors come from Western Europe (45.3%). We will need to compare to past surveys whether our sampling strategy for editors was more or less successful at involving voices from different regions around the world. In our sample, volunteer developers primarily came from North American and Western Europe, making up 62% of the total. Affiliates and program leaders had more proportional representation from the Middle East, Africa, South-east Asia, and Eastern Europe.
The median age for editors was 35 to 44 years old. The editor group that reported the youngest median age were Asia/India and Spain, Portugal and Latin America, with the highest median age was reported in Western Europe languages.
The median start year among the editor groups is 2010. Among editors, the most recently involved groups have a median start year of 2012 which are the Middle East/Africa Wikipedias as well as Asia/India Wikipedias Just behind these groups Eastern European Wikipedias and Portuguese/Spanish Wikipedia had the median year is 2010. Meanwhile, English, Western Europe, and Other Wiki’s have a median start year of 2008. Both Affiliates and Program leaders had a median start year of 2008. The group with the oldest median start year of 2007 are technical contributors.
From the activities listed below, Wikimedians across all audiences reported contributing online to the Wikimedia projects the most, and reported conducting research the least. Aside from contributing to the Wikimedia projects online, Editors reported most often participating in offline events (14%) or with a Wikimedia affiliates (12%). A greater proportion of Affiliate representatives, program leaders and technical contributors reported that they participate in a variety of online and offline activities, compared with contributors. Its important to note that the list below is not exhaustive of the variety of ways Wikimedians contribute to the movement.
E = Editors
T = Technical contributors
A = Affiliates
P = Program leaders
Make contributions or curate content
Attend offline Wikimedia events
Participate in online Wikimedia events
Support software development
Organize community programs/events
Participate in a Wikimedia affiliate
Apply for WMF grant
Note: The y-axis differs for each activity. For editors, we show the median reported percent from all the language/region groups.
Frequency of contributions to Wikimedia projects 
This survey has a higher representation of very active contributors (editors). We specifically oversampled very active editors in this survey, or editors who contribute around 100 times per month. Naturally, we should expect there to be many contributors who contribute more than once a day in this survey. We did not oversample volunteer developers, affiliates, or program leaders, yet these three groups have a high proportion who contribute at once a day or more.
Not including "Use Wikimedia projects and products", Technical contributors most often reported creating software, while the other audiences reported submitting bugs and testing new products the most. From the specified activities, documenting software products was reported the least.
From those who reported attending offline events, Editors, Affiliates and Program leaders reported attending local meetups related to Wikimedia the most. Among participating editors, the second most reported type of offline event was regional conference (38%). The second most often reported offline event for Affiliates, Technical Contributors, and Program leaders was international conferences.
Most respondents in the survey were aware of the Wikimedia Foundation before having taken the survey. The region that reported the lowest awareness was contributors from Spanish and Portuguese Wikipedias, who mostly reside in Latin America and Europe.
Among the editors who participated in the survey, about 22% have engaged with staff at the Foundation, while a much higher proportion of affiliate representatives, program leaders and volunteer developers engage with staff.
Explore Foundation team findings. Currently foundation teams are continuing to explore the results of their questions. Teams may publish their findings on their teams page. You can view the Programs team's report as an example. You can explore other team findings at Data and graphics.
Preparing for the next survey We are in the process of preparing for next year's survey. The goals of the survey for next year are to improve the response rates, especially for editors, by working on the sampling strategy and by increasing awareness of the survey on various Wikimedia projects.