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Learning patterns/Let the community know

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Let the community know
problemYou have an awesome idea for a project or activity, but it will only succeed if enough of the right people participate.
solutionIdentify people who you want to help out or show up. Reach out to as many of them as possible as early as possible, in ways that make it easy for the right people to hear and respond.
creatorJmorgan (WMF)
created on29 January, 2014
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?


A party that no one attends isn't much of a party. A wikiproject with no active members is a dead project. A new tool is only useful if people know that it exists, and want to use it.

Careful planning and hard work are not enough. However awesome your project idea is, the success of your project depends at least in part on other people. A community project needs a community.

What is the solution?


Figure out who you want to help with your project, and who you are doing it for: who is your target audience? Who has expertise that you can benefit from? Who shares your interests and might want to work with you?

Brainstorm ways of reaching these individuals and communities, and contact them with specific requests or general notifications. Especially during the formative stages of a project, there's really no such thing as too much feedback.[1] Use multiple communication channels whenever possible: post to community noticeboards and email mailing lists, invite people to join social media groups for your project or event. Make sure that people have a way of contacting you back to ask questions or get involved. Keep a record of people who have expressed interest in your project, so that you can contact them again.

Include an outreach strategy in your project plan. Include your answers to the questions above, and your initial ideas for how to accomplish your participation goals. Be prepared to revisit this plan on a regular basis as you work on your project and ask yourself whether you have done enough outreach, and received enough responses, that you are still confident that your project will be successful.

General considerations

  • Let the right community know. If you want a certain type of person or community to get involved, reach out to them specifically. The WikiArS project reached out to aligned WikiProjects,[2] to identify "image gaps" in their subject domains, rather than just posting notices to the Village Pump. On the other hand, the MediaWiki Data Browser project struggled to gain adoption among its intended user base in part because users were not aware of its existence.[3]
  • Let the community know at the right time. The PRChina project organized a series of 5 meetups on college campuses throughout China early on in the project. Holding these meetups early allowed this project to advertise its online resources among its target demographic and to brainstorm ideas for upcoming social media campaigns.[4]
  • Provide incentives. In WLMTH2014, we give small souvenirs/certificate as incentives for people to to volunteer their time to the contest.
  • Use medias as a tool. Medias could be a good tool to spread the word outside of the Wikimedia movement. For projects like Wiki Loves Monuments or Wiki Loves Earth this is a key element. In these kind of projects we have to balance between the Wikimedia community and people outside the community.[5]
  • Use as many tools as you can. Don't be shy. Use all tools you have to reach the community out. A banner on Wikimedia projects is the most powerful tool we have to reach people out. Before creating a banner, ask the community how to create it and in which cases it is allowed. In case you can not use it, do not ignore the rules. You have other options. Other ways to reach people out are mailing lists, social networks, medias or village pumps and embassies at the projects. Before paying for an advert, be sure you have used all of them.[5]
  • Learn about which channel was most effective. If you use a registration form before the event or a survey after that, ask people how they find the event or project out. That will let you know which channer was better or had more impact to focus on it for next events or change your strategy.
  • Post your event on Wikipedia:Meetups.

When to use

  • Like many Wikimedia processes, Individual Engagement Grants require community notification and discussion before a decision can be made. Being proactive about inviting people to discuss your project is likely to serve your project well. For IEG proposals, we suggest starting discussion by posting a notification in a venue appropriate to your project's target community - a Village Pump, mailing list, or wherever else people who will be interested or impacted by your project may gather. In the notification, include a link back to your grant proposal so they can learn more about the project and share feedback or endorsements if they want to.



See also

Education Toolkit Learning Pattern
This learning pattern is part of the Education Program Toolkit.
Go to the toolkit.


  • Founding WMBE we had the problem that different groups preferred different channels - mailing list, social networks, wiki, direct messages. This lead to some misunderstandings between community members. We've decided that there must be central communication channel that is always updated and official to ensure information coherence. This channel should be accepted by most. Additional channels are necessary, but must act as "additional broadcasts" of the central information. For WMBE we decided to build up a front-end website to act as the core channel.
  • The project "Script encoding proposals for Nepal" set up a webpage seeking viewpoints from the members of the user community in Nepal. This Nepal Bhasa Wikipedia page queried the community on their opinion regarding the need of getting their scripts into the international standard Unicode (which was a proposed Wikimedia project) . Once the project was approved and a meeting was set up, a supplemental Meeting page was added. It identified the meeting location, schedule, and links to documents. There was also some email interchange with others, notifying them of the meeting, but the email included a link to the Meeting page.
  • At the photo contests grant reports of WLM Spain 14, WLM Spain 15 or WLE Spain+Portugal 15 you can find which tools Wikimedia Spain used to reach participants out.
  • This is an important step when the success of a project also depends on the participation of volunteer members of the communities. In the case of the IEG revision scoring as a service, volunteers were contacted for labelling a big number of edits, something that would be harder to accomplish without their help.
  • Outreaching very early to relevant communities has played a crucial role during the planning phase of the StrepHit IEG project: it has enabled very insightful discussions with people who provided active feedback. Moreover, it has helped the identification of key people: setting up face-to-face meetings with them has also proven incredibly constructive.[6][7]
  • For Wikipedia Connection's Art+Feminism 2016 Edit-A-Thon at the Ohio State University, we had to reach out to the Ohio State and Columbus community to find participants and gain exposure. Some of the steps we took from within the university were to personally invite art professors and ask them to invite others that may be interested; forward an informative email to various departmental listservs (e.g. art department, English department, journalism, etc.); and hang up fliers across campus, especially focused within art/language buildings and libraries. We also reached out to the greater Columbus community by locating and contacting various art groups, such as CAW! Columbus. Finally, we also engaged social media by making various posts from our Facebook page and paying to boost those posts to targeted people in the Columbus area who had an interest in art, Wikipedia, and Ohio State - this was effective at getting viewership, but not very effective at getting people to attend. Overall, our efforts to let the community know paid off to get people to both come and be aware of our event and organization.[8]
  • When we started thinking about the Pan-Scandinavian Machine-assisted Content Translation project, we didn't even know about IEG until we contacted other local Wikimedia members; these people later became important in both spreading the news and evaluating the system, and we tried keeping them in the loop while updating others from the same and related wikis.[9]