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Program guides/Writing contests/Plan

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Planning your program


You may already know what you want to accomplish by hosting a writing or editing contest. This section will help you identify and clarify your goals, as well as explain the different kinds of contests. You will also find tools that may help you identify topics exciting to your community.

Set contest goals: Ask the community what they want to do, and what they think is important
Identifying contest goals may sound more challenging than it actually is. If you are starting a new contest, create a space where interested participants can discuss ideas about what they want to improve on the Wiki or in the community. Common goals include: filling content gaps, engaging new editors, motivating long-term editors, improving content quality, or getting more volunteers involved in project planning.

The idea was to find a way to get more people who know about physics involved in WP. The main goal was not just how many pages were created, but to grow the number of people in the physics community on Wikipedia, so that administrators have experts they can ask to review content. We did that by asking experts to spend 30 minutes judging and leaving feedback on article discussion pages. - PhysiWiki

Example goals:

  • To build and engage the editing community
  • To increase contributions
  • To increase volunteer motivation and commitment
  • To increase skills for editing/contributing

Learning patterns:

Choose a contest model: Different kinds of contests do different kinds of things
The Wikiverse is full of different kinds of contests. Each one is unique. This section breaks down writing and editing contests into a few categories. Use these planning templates to choose a contest model that your community will love, and that works with the resources you have available.

Learn more about the contest models listed below:

  • High-Volume, Action Oriented: Description coming soon!
  • Content Gap: Description coming soon!
  • Long-Term, General Wiki Work: Description coming soon!
  • Cross-Wiki or Regional Collaboration: Description coming soon!
  • Short-Term, Specific Topic: Description coming soon!
Topic selection: Tools and resources for choosing a topic that will excite participants
Everyone has a different strategy for coming up with contest topics and work lists.

Content gaps are identified naturally, when people search for something and notice a gap. For example, the recent German Wings accident spurred a contest on air disasters.- Lars

Sometimes when making a list of articles, we make a few that are easy to do and then some that are harder. There is a balance, people can take the low hanging fruit, and others can go for the high ones. So there is fruit for everyone." - User:Kippleboy

Logic models
Logic Model: A visual representation of how a writing competition works. A Logic Model includes what you put into your program (resource inputs), what you do (program activities and participation), and what you plan to achieve (program outputs and resulting outcomes).

People and Logistics


What kind of resources you need to be successful? This an important step, whether you are planning a contest for the first time or have planned a contest before. In this section you will find guidance on how to build a team of volunteers, and links to research on budgets and timelines used in successful contests.

Build a team: Determine how much help you need and find volunteers and partners to support you
Some contests are very simple or are so routine that they do not require significant time to plan and run. First time contests and those that are longer or more complex may need support from volunteers, partners or Wikimedia organizations to assist with planning, outreach and judging. This section will help you identify what kind of support your contest needs and will offer suggestions for how to build a contest planning dream team.

The least amount of time an organizer might spend is 10 to 15 minutes to set up the event page, which updates the scoring bot. This kind of means that it is a low threshold for the competition. So you can end up running a contest on something like subway stations in Mexico City, which was not a resounding success. But it does mean you can go with really weird, small topics. - Lars

  • Plan project roles: Your team might include someone to coordinate prizes, judging, promotion and to manage the event page.
  • Find volunteers: How to find volunteers on wiki.
  • Judging tools and tips: This includes how to find judges, as well as tools for organizing the judging process.
  • Partners: Partners can help provide prizes, judges and promotion.
Timelines and Budget: Learn when to launch your contest and what costs to plan for
The timing, length, and budget of your contest will depend on many variables. In this section you will find links to analysis of previous contests that should help with these questions. You can also help current and future contests by following links to the contest discussion forum, to share your insights about costs and timelines.

Prizes and Awards


People who participate in contests are often driven by a desire to win a prize or gain recognition from the community. This section will help you determine what kind of prizes may motivate contest participants, and will provide guidance on how to pay for and deliver those prizes.

Pick a prize: Choose a prize that participants will value, and that you can deliver
Prizes can be very simple, such as a book or a trophy posted on the winner’s user page. Some contests offer more significant prizes, such as money, electronics, or vouchers for travel. Once you have figured out what kind of prize will motivate contest participants, you can get to work finding funding or donations to pay for them.

Before starting your contest, know that money is not everything, it’s not going to make your contest successful. Prizes won’t motivate them if they don’t want to edit, but can help them contribute more. - Samir WikiWomen Contest

Find resources to provide prizes: Learn how find grants, partnerships and donations to pay for prizes
By now you know that prizes do not need to be large or impressive to have a successful editing contest. Still, you may need to secure funding or have partners provide prizes. It is important to begin the process of asking for grants or sponsorship several months before a large competition.

It is very easy to get funding from people in the scientific community because they recognize the value of Wikipedia and because they want the prestige of being associated with the competition. 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

WMF Grants can be used to pay for prizes and other contest related expenses.

Partners may provide prizes such as electronics, travel vouchers or even cash prizes for larger contests.

Templates, Tools, and Bots


Simplify contest coordination and improve participant experience by featuring important information through event pages, using bots and automating tracking tools.

Event Pages: Create contest event pages that will attract and delight your participants
Event pages are a central meeting point to a group of people who may not normally work together or who do not know each other but share a similar interest. It is important to create an event page for your contest that will both help people get the information they need as well as provide a collaboration space to set and achieve achieve shared goals. A good event page can also help to build excitement and mutual support among contest participants.

"...when the competition is happening everything is linked to the event page, everybody goes through the pages and checks them out and improves them because they want to help...it feels like a festival." - PhysiWiki

Bots and automated trackers: Find tools to make contest coordination faster and easier

"There is a bot pulls together all the different submissions, judges make sure they meet the requirements to be included: sufficient length, “good” article, etc. WikiCup would not work without a bot." - User:Miyagawa

Other tools
* Wikimetrics: Tracks user contributions at different points in time.
  • Wikimetrics Training: Wikimetrics learning module.
  • Central Notice: Allows for large-scale announcements across Wikimedia wikis via banners. Can be geo-located and shown to both logged-in and anonymous users. Helpful in promoting your event!

Participant Support


About 18% new users, and 83% existing users, made at least one edit three months after the start date of the contests.[1] In this section you will find strategies to increase editor retention in your contest through effective promotion, tools to increase participant motivation, and strategies to welcome and support new editors.

Promote: Choose the best promotion strategy to reach your target audience
There are many ways that you can promote a contest. Your strategy will depend on the participant audience you want to reach and the partners you are working with. For best results, begin promotion at least one month before the contest begins, and plan to make a big announcement on the first day of the contest. In this section you will find tools for promoting your contest both on and off wiki.

“We started promoting two months before the contest because we were targeting students so that they could join the class and learn basic editing skills first. Timing is important. If you do promotion right before the contest it is too late, but if you do it too far in advance they will forget.” - WikiWomen

“One existing editor personally contacts potential new contributors and invites them to participate in contest. This works well since Estonia is small community.” - Kaarel

"We reach new communities by contacting new audience leaders, for example, sending a press release about a week before a contest to organizations who have a large following of people who might be interested in the topic."

Reach New Users:

Reach Active Wikipedians:

Motivate: How to get participants to edit early and edit often
People who join contests tend to be competitive. Motivate these participants with scoreboards or progress updates. Less competitive people can be motivated by a simple 'thank you' or by increased attention to their on-wiki work. Check out the links below for tools and ideas to make your competition fun for everyone.

"Gamification or sense of competition drives people. Normally, I start writing and make myself a leader, this encourages people to follow. Then I stop and they pass me. I am like the rabbit in a greyhound race." - User:Kippelboy

"During the contest we use social media to send thank-you tweets to top contributors to encourage early participation. This gets re-tweeted and can go 'viral' in our small community. We publicly thank a lot to our top users." - User:Kippelboy

Encourage: Welcome new editors to your community and encourage them to stay
Contests are a great way to reach new editors and help them become part of your community. Many contest participants 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.

"I don't think there is a single person who doesn’t think of themselves as welcoming to new people, and there are a lot of people on Wikipedia who see that as the main goal of their work, to be welcoming to new people. But there are some people who are very strict and they go according to the rules, if they don't like something they erase it right away and they don't realize that this sort of attitude pushes people away from Wikipedia. During the competition, when a new users registers we can see everyone and we can see progress of the pages and if someone is mean to them we can see it and intervene." - PhysiWiki



When people contribute to Wikipedia, everyone wins! But it wouldn't be a contest if there weren't a winningest winner. Learn different ways you can recruit judges and determine the winner of your contest.

Judging systems and logistics: Plan your judging process and how to manage challenges
You probably came up with a strategy to judge your contest during the planning stage. Of course, things do not always go the way you planned them. In this section, you will find tips for how to manage judging processes. You can help expand judging resources by sharing strategies you have used when you encounter problems during the judging phase.

"Plan your judging system in advance, you shouldn’t feel stressed out by the volume of work." - User:Newyorkadam

Scoring rubrics: Choose a scoring system that works with your resources and goals
Contest entries can be scored based on a variety of factors. Some systems are very simple and count only bytes, images, words or articles created. Others are more complex and may use tools or experts to assess the quality of contest submissions. It is best to determine how your contest will be scored in the planning phase, but ultimately having an effective system to collect scores is most important when judging a contest.

"Our scoring system has grown quite complex, because of people who gamed the system. We added in these rules to circumvent that. Even though it is quite complex, it is predefined and people know what it is. If I started a competition on a different Wikipedia, I would start with a simple scoring system, and just add on complexity as needed." - Lars

"Self-scoring systems make people feel active on the contest. Gets community engaged, encourages wikipedians to check each other’s and talk to each other, and try to beat each other." - User:Kippelboy

See also


- Professional Writing and Editing help