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The Survey Support Desk
for Wikimedia Foundation staff, Wikimedia affiliates, and volunteers

Listen to collective voices and gather insights from people.

The Survey Support Desk gathers shared resources for surveys in the Wikimedia movement and:
  • Promotes excellence in survey design for learning and making decisions
  • Instills practices for creating memory about doing Wikimedia surveys
  • Fosters inclusivity and diversity in survey development and results
  • Conserves the valuable time of volunteers and staff

Online resources for surveys[edit]

Find the latest resources in the Wikimedia movement to design the best survey.
Documents icon - noun project 5020.svg Blank space.png General Administration Blank space.png Quick links for survey management
Checklist Noun project 5166.svg Blank space.png Strategy, management, and communications Blank space.png Is a survey the right choice? How long does a survey take?


  • Is an online survey the right choice? Before you embark on planning a survey, check to see if you are ready to start planning a survey. Generally, you should not do a survey if: You don't know who your audience is, you know your audience but don't know how to reach them, you don't have time or resources to do the survey.
  • Defining the scope and scale of the survey. The scope and scale of a survey will depend on your overall strategy: Why do you need to do this survey? By when do you need the data? Answering these questions involves talking to other stakeholders.
  • Other types of surveys. Interviews, focus groups, consultations. These are actually types of surveys that can help you listen to people.


  • Communications for surveys. There are many different forms of communications around surveys. Knowing each is important to help you plan ahead, and you might want to involve certain people, like external news organizations.
  • Involving communities and partners in your surveys. There are many great reasons for involving people in doing your survey, like improving your questions and getting additional helping hands.
  • Thank participants. It is hugely important to thank participants. They have volunteered their time to help you out. There are many fun and free ways to thank users.

Managing a survey[edit]

  • What to expect when doing a survey. Planning a survey involves many steps. Read this overview to consider all the steps, and how much time and resources you may need.
  • Tools for managing a survey project. There are many ways to manage or track progress for your survey project. Find checklists, spreadsheets, and other tools to help you oversee a project.
Noun project 288.svg Blank space.png Reaching people with surveys Blank space.png What is the best way to reach people with my survey?"

Choosing your audience[edit]

  • Who should you survey? Sometimes, it is not entirely clear who you need to survey. Determining who you need to survey is based on the goals of your survey and how you will reach those people.

Reaching users online[edit]

  • Getting a sample of users. For many online surveys, you rarely want to sample an entire population or audience that you are interested in getting information.
  • Survey software. There are many different types of survey software. While the Wikimedia Foundation provides access to Qualtrics, many also use google forms, survey monkey, or other tools. Which tool depends on what you are trying to achieve.
  • Reaching users on wiki. There are a few ways to reach users on the wiki. You can use CentralNotice banners, MassMessage and Watchlist notice. WMF Staff also have access to the QuickSurvey tool.

In-person surveys[edit]

  • Using pen and paper surveys. Pen and paper surveys have their own design principles and process. Like having a few techniques to make sure people fill out the surveys
  • Group surveys or focus groups. Focus groups are great for brainstorming, learning about a new community, or other information at the group level. Recruiting and gathering data from focus groups is unique.

Translating Surveys[edit]

Survey tools[edit]

There are many survey tools out there. The wikimedia movement has traditionally used Qualtrics, Google Forms, Surveymonkey, Limesurvey, and a new Mediawiki extension called QuickSurveys. The Wikimedia Foundation currently subscribes to and offers support for Qualtrics. To compare across these tools, see this google spreadsheet (still in development).

How to reach survey respondents[edit]

A "respondent" is the person who responds or answers your survey. The best way to reach your respondents is to first understand who you want to get your information from. In the Wikimedia context, here are some ways you can reach users.

  • Global mass message & talk pages
  • Central notice
  • Public mailing lists
  • Private email
  • Social media
  • Village pumps
  • Telephone/conference call (e.g. google hangout)

Noun project - crayon.svg Blank space.png Writing and designing questions Blank space.png What does a good question look like? What does a bad question look like?

Design process[edit]

  • Asking the right questions. Asking the right questions is difficult. It involves making sure that the survey goals are clear, and that the questions and response options are designed well. If you have no experience with survey question design, the learning module "Designing Effective Questions" is a great place to get started.
  • Testing survey questions. There are generally three to four rounds of testing survey and survey questions. The first is testing with colleagues. The second is testing with the users you want to reach, which includes both question review and testing of the final survey software.
  • Specialized questions. Some questions are very particular. Whether its questions for WMF Grant programs, or questions related to private information (e.g. gender, age, etc.), or other questions that might be particular to the Wikimedia Movement.

Question tools[edit]

  • Survey templates '(coming soon).' Since many Wikimedians have been doing surveys, we are collecting surveys and making standard templates that can be used and re-used.
  • Use the Question bank for ideas. If you are looking for survey questions, use the survey bank to find question you might need.
  • Tools for question design. There are many, many resources out there to help you learn how to write a good question. Here are some favorites.
Noun project 607.svg Blank space.png Privacy & Data Blank space.png How do I ask for personal data, like gender? What are the policies for storing data?

Survey legal practices[edit]

Legal disclaimers[edit]

  • Writing legal disclaimers. If a survey links from a Wikimedia page, you must include a disclaimer. The type of legal disclaimer will depend on where you live, whether inside the U.S. or outside the U.S.
  • Contests, giveaways, and sweepstakes. Many times, surveys include free gifts for random participants. There are many U.S. laws based on giveaways and sweepstakes. Make sure you are informed.

Open data[edit]

  • Collecting data with personal information. Working with personal information (e.g. gender, race, age, etc.) has many laws. Learn the laws and practices for working with this data.
  • Open access policy. The Wikimedia Foundation has an open data policy. This includes posting information about your research on as well as sharing your data publicly.

Privacy of participants[edit]

Privacy is important, and Wikimedians often have higher expectations around privacy than others.

  • When setting up a survey with an outside vendor, consider their privacy policy carefully.
  • Securing their explicit consent to publish the privacy policy externally can be valuable, especially if their own web site uses technologies like tracking cookies.

Book designed by Benny Forsberg from the Noun Project.svg Blank space.png Analyzing and sharing survey results Blank space.png How do I process the data? What is the best way to report survey data?

Reporting quantitative data[edit]

  • Quick guide to presenting data. Most surveys should always present a basic list of data, like response rate, completion rates, and descriptives to help readers understand the quality of the data being presented.
  • Creating basic descriptives. Surprisingly, you can learn a lot with basic descriptive data. Learn about what this means and how to present it.

Reporting qualitative data[edit]

  • Overview of qualitative analysis. Learn how to do some basic qualitative analysis.
  • Tools for qualitative analysis. There many tools to help you with qualitative data. Dedoose is great, and you can even use spreadsheets for simple qualitative analysis.

Direct support for your survey from WMF staff[edit]

Noun project 410.svg Blank space.png Quick Support[edit]

Quick survey review, access to tools, etc.

UserAvatar.svg Blank space.png Survey Consults[edit]

In-depth support and guidance for your survey.

Email for any of the following.
  • Getting a Qualtrics account
  • Ask for support with survey software
  • Have your survey reviewed by an expert
  • Any fast question about surveys

If you need more than one hour of support for a survey, please email at least 4 weeks before the survey needs to go out to users.

Frequently Asked Questions[edit]

About the Survey Help Center

This center offers support to Wikimedia Foundation staff, Wikimedia affiliates (e.g. chapters, user groups) and Wikimedia users to improve insight and feedback from all users. We gather and offer resources and support with (1) Survey strategy and goal setting, (2) Planning and process for surveys, (3) Designing your survey and questions, (4) Distributing the survey, (5) Analysis and reporting of survey data. We can also provide guidance or connections for support with communications or other needs related to surveys.

Who runs this service?
What is the process for designing and running a survey?
What does the timeline look like?
Who can I go to if I need help sooner?
What if I missed the 3 week notice?
About Surveys
Why survey?
How can I use survey data?
What is the best way to design a survey?
How can I make sure to communicate results?