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Research:“Newcomer Experience” pilot project - Advancement Email campaigns

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11:50, 2 February 2022 (UTC)
Duration:  2021-June – 2021-November
This page documents a completed research project.

Experiment report

Project undertaken as an experiment, as a collaboration by the Growth and Fundraising teams at the Wikimedia Foundation - as an addition to the existing email campaigns being undertaken by the fundraising team at that time.

Objective: internet users learn that they can, and how, to contribute to Wikipedia. They are prompted to begin contributing and to create an account to have access to features designed to simplify the first edits and learning process.

Hypothesis: if we invite donors, many of whom said they want to learn to edit, to create Wikipedia accounts, and we provide an easy entry experience, they will try editing and will contribute in a constructive way.

Actions: Directing donors to create accounts and then to the Growth features.

  • Campaign 1. Send ‘invitation to become an editor’ email to recent donors in LATAM countries who indicated that they would like to learn about editing.
  • Campaign 2. Link within ‘how to avoid seeing fundraising banners’ email to recurring donors in USA.


Donors received an email thanking them for their contribution and encouraging them to create an account on Wikipedia. The email led them to a special “Create account” landing page that continues to acknowledge them as a donor. After account creation, users were brought to the newcomer homepage, which contains suggestions for easy edits to get started.


For numerical data (emails sent, opened, accounts created, accounts which edited) for each campaign - see attached slides.

Slide 2 - summary of work/objectives
Slides 3-5 - the user's experience
Slides 6-9 - LATAM 'recent donors' email experiment
Slides 10-13 - USA 'recurring donors' email experiment
Slides 14-15 - overall analysis


  • Donors are reasonably willing to engage in email correspondence from the Wikimedia Foundation, are well-disposed to Wikimedia sites, and when they do edit it is classified by the community as constructive contributions.
  • However, donors are not, in general, willing to create accounts in order to edit merely due to being invited to do so. This is even when an easier ‘onboarding’ experience [decreasing the perceived distance between signup and first successful edit] is provided to them.
  • Donors who indicated they are interested in editing are much more likely to create accounts and edit, but still do so at relatively low rates.
  • Hypothesis: that people motivated to begin editing not by their affinity to the mission (indicated by being donors) but by affinity to a specific topic needing improvement on the website. Continued improvements in the newcomer features’ topic filtering and types of suggested edit activities is warranted.