Research:Growth and diversity of Technology team audiences

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21:40, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
Duration:  2017-November — 2018-March

This page documents a research project in progress.
Information may be incomplete and change as the project progresses.

Program 4 of the Technology Department's 2017-18 Annual Plan involves improving the support that the Wikimedia Foundation provides to technical communities inside and outside the Wikimedia Movement who build upon and use our software products and platforms. These users include "code contributors, documentation contributors, bug reporters, API consumers, volunteers who build innovative solutions to on-wiki workflow issues, researchers who examine the data generated by the Wikimedia projects, value-added vendors who provide services and support based on Wikimedia free and open-source software products, and true 'third parties' who install and use FLOSS software produced by the Wikimedia movement on their own computers for various reasons[1]."



  • Technology product or platform: technological infrastructures or outputs of technology teams that are intended to be used directly by external audiences.
  • External audience: Individuals or organizations that use particular products or platforms developed and/or maintained by Wikimedia Technology. The current research focuses solely on external audiences--those who are outside the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • Usage: In this research, usage means more than simple consumption. Usage involves building something with or on top of a Wikimedia Technology product or platform. By this definition, Wikipedia readers are not included in the class of users we are focused on, nor are Wikipedia editors whose only interaction with Wikimedia Technology products is through directly editing the content of Wikipedia websites.
  • New/potential audience: External individuals or organizations that are not currently using Wikimedia Technology platforms, but who may be interested in adopting our platforms in the future
  • Adoption: the use of Wikimedia Technology platforms by new audiences for specific purposes, or the increased use of our platforms by existing audiences.

Problem statement[edit]

Outcome 2 of Technology's 2018-19 Departmental Program #4 involves measuring the adoption of Wikimedia technology by external audiences. The Technology department currently lacks a set of broadly-accepted, reliable, and meaningful measures for tracking the adoption of our technology by members of these audiences, which limits our ability to:

  1. measure the current and historical usage of our technology platforms outside of WMF,
  2. identify opportunities to reach new audiences and/or serve our existing audiences better, and
  3. measure adoption of Technology platforms (on a per-team or per-product basis) over time, including evaluating the impact of any future interventions we make to grow or more fully support our external audiences.

Research questions[edit]

This project is the first step towards developing these kinds of metrics. For each of the teams we work with on this project, we seek to answer the following questions:

  1. Which audiences are you currently serving? Who else do you believe you should be serving?
  2. How does your work support the audiences you currently serve? How could you serve these audiences better?
  3. How are you currently measuring adoption from these external consumers? If you don't, do you have any notions of size/adoption rate?
  4. What kinds of audiences are you serving (e.g. individuals vs institutions/organizations)? What is the geographical distribution of these audiences?


This study will consist of interviews with team leads in Tech involved in building platforms with an externally-facing audience and get them to articulate who their core audience is, and how to characterize adoption of their platforms.

At least initially, this research will not involve interviews with members of all Tech department teams. Rather, we will focus on teams that have well-defined external audiences, beyond other WMF teams/departments, and in some cases beyond the Wikimedia Movement altogether. We are conceiving external audiences for Tech teams as researchers, developers, data consumers who build other platforms or products on top of the software products (e.g. MediaWiki), research/analytics resources (including publications, specifications, dashboards, data APIs and datasets), and platforms (e.g. ORES, Toolforge, WikiData Query Service) we develop and maintain.

The anticipated output of this research will be an audience map for the audiences identified in the interviews, along with how the team that identified this audience currently communicates with and/or tracks tech adoption from this audience. Common communication channels and adoption metrics used or proposed by multiple teams will be highlighted for further investigation and evaluation as possible KPIs.


  1. October 2017: Develop interview protocol
  2. November 2017 - January 2018: conduct interviews with team leads
  3. January - March 2018: Analyze and report results

Teams involved[edit]

This list includes teams for which we have already identified products or platforms that have external audiences. This list may change during the course of our study, as we refine our definitions of audiences, products, and adoption.

  1. Analytics
  2. MediaWiki Platform
  3. Research
  4. Scoring Platform
  5. Search Platform
  6. Services
  7. Cloud Services


See Research:Growth and diversity of Technology team audiences/Report

See also[edit]


  1. "Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2017-2018/Final/Programs/Technology - Meta". Retrieved 2018-03-23.