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Learning patterns/Contest prizes that motivate

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Contest prizes that motivate
problemOffer prizes that contest participants want to win.
solutionPrizes do not need to be large or fancy to get participants excited. Figure out what motivates your contest participants and fits in your budget.
creatorKHarold (WMF)

Each month the most active Ukrainian Wikipedians recieve 'Zhuschivka mail'. The can of condensed milk is recognized as a trophy in their community.
In 2010 the winner of a Czech writing contest asked to have the 2nd prize, a glass paperweight, instead of the laptop that had been donated for the 1st prize.

What problem does this solve?


People participate in contests for all kinds of reasons. You may find that many participants may be willing to work hard for the chance to win a cash prize or a travel voucher. Others may be more interested in the competitive atmosphere and increased collaboration than they are in winning prizes. It helps to know what kinds of prizes motivate the participants in your contest. If they only care about recognition, you can spend your time designing a great scoreboard instead of applying for grants or looking for donated prizes.

What is the solution?


Writing and Editing Contests


Pick a prize that participants will value.

  • Consider the context of your contest participants and the resources they have, need or may want.
  • Experienced Wikipedians may not expect or accept a physical prize, but would appreciate an award posted on their user page, or recognition in a central community space.
  • Students or young people might prefer a cash prize to purchase books or electronics, or a certificate of achievement for good work that they can show on a CV[1].

Pick a prize that is in line with the size of the contest.

  • Short contest - small prize, i.e. books related to contest, knick-knacks from another country, gift cards to online stores.
  • Long contest - more substantial prize such as cash or electronics. Consider giving the winner the option to choose what they want as a prize up to a set value.

Photo Contests

  • "Prizes should be more attractive for the intended audience. (Doesn't need to be more expensive!) Prizes from sponsors should be sorted out before sending out PR materials. Chance of winning should also be advertised, e.g. one in six uploaders of WLM Thailand2014 got a prize."[2] - User:Taweetham

Things to consider

  • Someone from your contest team should be in charge of making sure prizes get delivered.[3]
  • Work with the resources you have, both in terms of time and money.[4] [5]
  • If your contest has international participants, remember to think about shipping costs and taxes when planning your budget.
  • As partners if they can donate a prize.

When to use



  • “40 of the students wrote something, at least 10 pages were very good, so not everyone got prizes but everyone who wrote a good article got a certificate. We got good feedback about certificates, made them feel better about not winning. Also, they could use it on their CV.” - Physiwiki
  • “There is more interest in bigger prizes and in travel-related prizes examples: $1000 travel voucher --1st prize from Estonia goes to Armenia; 1st from Armenia goes to Estonia.” - Kaarel, Estonia
  • “[The prize] is a substantial amount of money for someone living in this region. They can use it for whatever they want, sometimes people ask us to buy them a laptop or something else that they need, and sometimes winners donate their prizes back to the pool. Giving them the choice about what to do with prize is much more of an incentive. Most of the editors are young people, many are going an extra mile to edit Wikipedia, either going to an internet cafe or working on a five year old laptop.”  -- Muhammed, Producer Prize
  • "Books are a practical prize that is working for us right now, and they are references for Wikipedians. People like to get books related to the contest they participated in. We have given out tech goodies like an ipad that was donated by a partner or hard drive, or USB keys. People don’t appreciate the value of tech goodies or already have them." - Alex, Amical
  • “No prizes associated with the competition. Prize proposed last year, but no one (participants) was really eager for it, wasn’t worth following up on. Give out little banners or barnstars, but nothing tangible.” - User:Miyagawa, WikiCup
  • “A lot of people wanted to donate their prizes...people don’t like taking prizes because they don’t like paid editing.” - User:NewyorkAdam, Tyop Contest
  • “We are mostly targeting undergraduate students, 1st prize is 1,200 USD, so that is a lot of money for them. For a physics department, this is not a lot of money, but for a student it is very motivating.”  - PhysiWiki



See also



  1. https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/Writing_and_editing_contest_hangout
  2. Grants:PEG/UG TH/WLM 2014/Report
  3. "There is not a weekly prize. Our scoring bot also puts ribbons on the competition page and on the talk pages of the winners. Sometimes we get prizes, the National Library has donated books as prizes. I work for them, so I manage that. Last year WMNO tried to provide $25 gift cards, but it didn't go well because they forgot to send them out. I made a note to never, never ever build up a backlog of gift cards. It was a half year and sour faces all around." - Lars
  4. “Cheap prizes, such as books or leaflets, better than no prizes at all.” - Kaarel
  5. "Keep it easy. We ask someone at a local book shop to help pick books in our budget, letting winners choose books would be too difficult to coordinate. The cost to purchase and ship them is manageable and it is easy to scale the prize for winners, i.e. 3 books for first place, 2 books for second place and so on." - User:Kippelboy