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Learning patterns/Increasing editor retention

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Increasing editor retention
problemIncrease editor retention after a project or program ends.
solutionSupport new editors who join contests and events by making personal contact on and off wiki.
creatorKHarold (WMF)
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?[edit]

You want to attract new editors to your Wikimedia project, and you want them to keep contributing after the project is over.

What is the solution?[edit]

Contests are a great way to reach new editors and help them become part of your community. Many people may have thought about editing Wikipedia before and decide to start because they hear about a contest on a topic they are very interested in. Once a new editor has joined a competition, they benefit from the increased attention to their work and from the increase in collaboration or camaraderie that comes with contests.

How to reach new editors:

  • Use social media or partners to reach new audiences who are not already editing WP.
  • Have community members contact new editors directly to invite them to join a contest.
  • Promote your contest to participants in a Wikipedia education program or in workshops.

How to make your contest new-editor friendly:

  • Give clear instructions on the event page about how to register for the competition, and how to do any other important contest related tasks, like self-score.
  • Try to contact new editors off-wiki during the contest, either by email or on social media. Welcome them, let them know where to get help or ask questions. On social media, thank them for their contributions.  
  • Nominate someone to monitor the work of new editors, and offer assistance when needed.
  • Let the community know that there might be new editors active during a contest. Post a message on a WikiProject page or on IRC channels where active Wikipedians communicate.
  • Make lists of suggested articles or links to references on the contest event page.
  • Offer a special prize for new editors. You can set a threshold based on number of edits or how long they have had an account.
  • Ask Administrators to act as judges, or offer support to new editors. This allows new editors an opportunity to form relationships with respected community members.

How do YOU support new editors?

General considerations[edit]

When to use[edit]

When you want to hold an event to attract new editors to your Wikimedia project, and you want them to stay.

See also[edit]


Newbie-Friendly Event Page
  • “We made a short video showing how to register for the competition. It was amateurish, but got across all the information. We tried to check that everyone who registered opened an account on Wikipedia, then left them a welcome on their talk page with a link to all the editing instructions.” -PhysiWiki
  • “We direct them toward general guidelines and trust community members to support new users by monitoring their submissions and responding when they reach out.” - Kaarel
  • "As Wikimedians, we all have our style of searching for references. Some people told me that writing Wikipedia articles is like being Indiana Jones, being an adventurer. They want to do the exploring [for references] themselves. If you give them a list of references, it isn't as fun anymore. Except for newbies, who need some guidance." - alex
Contact new users off-Wiki
  • “Some people, especially people who are shy, really benefit by contacting them off wikipedia, it gives them a sense of community. When the registered, we asked people to leave their emails said the emails would be confidential. People responded well to that request, most of the people who registered were new users, appreciated the extra contact.” - PhysiWiki
  • "If we can discover their Twitter or social media handle, we thank them there. We say 'hey, this newbie is already editing WP, what about you? They start to feel proud of being a Wikipedian and they have new ways of contacting you if they have problems." - Alex
  • "We give people wiki love on other social networks like fb, post ranking on fb group and have gotten a lot of positive feedback about this, of course we don’t tag them unless i know them well and know they wouldn’t have a problem with it. If we need to contact a newer user about some problem with their article, we do it on email or in a Facebook message, rather than on their talk page. ” - wikiwomen
Personally invite new editors to join a contest
  • “Sometimes you see a new editor who is really active in a particular subject, so you reach out to them to join a contest and they usually run with it." - Alex
  • “Word of mouth is the best way to promote an event. People don't trust Facebook ads, they don't believe there is actually a prize. Instead we reach out to people personally, or we talk to them directly on Facebook.” - WikiWomen
  • “One existing editor personally contacts potential new contributors and invites them to participate in contest, works well since Estonia is small community.” - kaarel
Monitor and offer support to new uers
  • "We have a group of  10-20 wikimedians who patrol to welcome newbies. There is a button on contest pages to ask for help. If you click it, it takes you randomly to one of these volunteers, who are really patient and can mentor new editors."
  • “We direct new users toward general guidelines and trust community members to support new users by monitoring their submissions and responding when they reach out.” - Kaarel
  • “It can be hard for newbies to self-score, because they don't get it. With a self-score system, you need to pay attention to newbies. For example, leave them a talk page message to say "Hey, you need to keep track of your points. I did it for you the first time, but please do it in the future." - alex
  • “There is not an organized effort to help new users, but the contest does make all of the editing transparent, so sometimes someone may go and leave a note on the talk page of the new user about how something needs to be formatted.” - lars

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]