Grants:IEG/Targeted recruitment of contributors

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Targeted recruitment of contributors

project contact:




The project's aim is to recruit experts and organisations with expertise or resources to improve top impact Wikipedia articles

engagement target:

English Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons

strategic priority:

Improving Quality, Increasing Participation diversity

total amount requested:


2013 round 1

Project idea[edit]

There are many people with the knowledge, resources and interest to improve Wikipedia, yet they don't know how they can help or where to start. My experience with targeted requests to individuals and organisations to release images to illustrate particular Wikipedia articles, had a positive response rate of about 50%, proving that there is a great potential to attract contributors, if properly targeted and assisted. This entails precisely identifying how a particular person can help, minimising the required time investment, and assuring that the outcome is a visible improvement, and therefore rewarding for participants.

In a broader approach, this project would identify and contact people or organisations with expertise able to help improve high impact (over 5,000 readers per month) and high importance articles (listed as core article or identified by WikiProjects as High/Top importance), either by release of freely licensed material, small corrections, or quick article reviews. This would lead to immediate quality improvement and guidance for Wikipedia editors. The project thus aims to facilitate passing the threshold of making the few first constructive edits which are rewarding for the participant and are well received by the editorial community, hopefully leading to long term engagement. In this regard, the aim is that 100% of contributions invited by this project to have positive and visible impact.

While Wikipedia has been edited by millions, a few exceptional editors had high impact on driving quality, with 10% of all Featured Articles being primarily contributed by only six editors, and 20% of Featured Pictures contributed by only three photographers. This project aims to support quality improvement by attracting high quality contributions. It aims to explore three different topics (architecture, protected areas, urban studies), and document the lessons learned, so that successful processes can be emulated in the future.

Project goals[edit]

The aims are

  • immediate quality improvement of high importance and high impact articles, by attracting contributions from people and organisations with expertise
  • testing the effectiveness of targeted recruitment of expert contributions

Project plan[edit]


Scope and activities[edit]

  • Identify high impact and importance articles in need of improvement
  • Identify individuals (postgraduates, academics, experts, writers) and organisations (professional associations, libraries, museums, NGOs) with skills or/and resources to contribute and no conflict of interest
  • Contact potential contributors with a clear explanation of precisely how they can start improving Wikipedia. This includes letters, e-mail and/or meetings.
Tasks have to be clearly defined and contained, along the lines (these are just simplistic generic examples):
  • "please, could you indicate which are the 3 most important reference books for this subject matter"
  • "could you review the lead section and provide a brief critique"
  • "could you point us to the best available statistics on this subject matter"
  • "would you release image X to illustrate article Y"
  • Assists contributors to share their knowledge and/or resources, by helping with editing, posting article reviews on talk pages, uploading media files, etc.
  • Follow-up contact contributors, reporting on their impact
  • Summarise the lessons learned, so that successful processes can be emulated.

The time-frame is 6 months.

Tools, technologies, and techniques[edit]

  • Mostly individual time invested in research (how can an article be improved, how can that be done, who can do that), communication and editing


Total amount requested[edit]

  • AUD 15,000.-

Budget breakdown[edit]

  • Project management: AUD 13,000.-
  • Internet, telephone and local travel costs: AUD 2,000.-

Intended impact:[edit]

Target audience[edit]

  • All Wikipedia readers
  • Topic focus will be on my key areas of interest and expertise: architecture, protected areas and urban studies. This is necessary for an exploration project like this, as many aspects (copyright issues, data availability, expert time value) differ between subject areas, and thus it may be that particular topic might yield much better results than another.

Fit with strategy[edit]

  • Improving quality
  • Increasing and diversifying participation


  • If successful, the project will demonstrate the value of targeted recruitment of high-impact contributors, as opposed to general appeals for editing, and will provide guidence for further implementation. Principles and examples of success will be documented as a succinct step-by-step guide on a Wikipedia page to assists easy replication by other editors.

Measures of success[edit]

  • Metrics: (1) number of articles improved, (2) nr of media uploaded and impact (usage) in Wikipedia articles, (3) number of new active editors
  • Targets: 100% of contributions to have visible positive impact ; 50+ articles improved; 100+ media files added to articles; 30+ new active editors;


  • Elekhh over 3 years experience in editing Wikipedia, and involvement in DYK, Good article and Featured picture reviews, Portals, WikiProjects, etc. Participating in the Wikipedia Education Program as Online Ambassador. Good understanding of many Wikimedia projects as editor on Wikimedia Commons, German Wikipedia, Hungarian Wikipedia and others. Through targeted contact of image copyright holders, obtained image releases under a free license of over 30 images (examples) used in multiple Wikipedia articles.


Community Notification:[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.

  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.


  • In English we have a list of 1000 core articles here [1] and we have this list of 10,000 [2] here
  • Next you want to "Identify individuals" and "organization" how will you do that? Have you attempted this in the past? What subject area was it in? If so what success have you had?

Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:39, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Doc James for your questions. As explained above, my experience so far is with requests of photo contributions, the institutions included museums, universities and NGOs, the subject areas were architecture and protected areas, the success rate was around 50%. I will try to better explain the process I'm envisioning in the reworked proposal. --Elekhh (talk) 22:05, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes I have also had fairly good luck with donations of images. This seems to be the easiest step for most organization. All they need to do is sign there name to a realize and we take care of the rest if the content is already digitalized.
With respect to feedback Google sponsored an effort to provide this for some importance medical articles a few years ago [3] It unfortunately was not very successful. The issue generally is not that we do not realize that much of our content sucks it is that our number of editors are few. Those of us editing know how to find good sources. Some of us have trouble accessing them but that is a different issue. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:32, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for linking to that example, I find it really instructive. I guess it shows that there needs to be a good fit between expertise offered on the one hand and the interest of active editors on the other hand. It makes me think that when articles are selected, is important to survey in advance the specific interest and availability of editors. WikiProject importance rating and number of views might be good filters for a start but not sufficient as selection criteria. --Elekhh (talk) 07:07, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
The number of available editors matters. It's easy for a paid "donor" to overwhelm the available supply. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:05, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
The other issue is that most of the paid reviewers only reviewed a single article. So that you would teach one how Wikipedia works and than they would be gone replaced by someone else at the start of the learning curve. Wikipedia experience matters. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:39, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but the idea is this: if everything is neatly curated, both the reviewer and the editors will have a positive experience they will wish to repeat. Also I am not suggesting paid reviews here, as I think that raises sustainability and equity issues. My basic premise is that there are many experts who actually would like to contribute, but were not yet introduced to Wikipedia editing in a smooth and focused way. If they are assisted to cross that threshold and become Wikipedia "literate", than there is a much better chance they will continue contributing. --Elekhh (talk) 23:39, 24 February 2013 (UTC)