Focusing editathons on smaller contributions
Research from the Wikimedia Foundation on New Editors and experience from program organizers suggests that teaching new contributors to write entire articles during in-person editing events can be overwhelming and does not help contributors continue contributing after the event. Instead, new editors work best on smaller and less complex, but repeatable, contribution skills. By using these smaller contribution strategies, organizing an event will be simpler and new contributors are more likely to be retained.
There are a number of ways to contribute incrementally to Wikimedia projects that show new contributors valuable quality, content-related skills. For example:
- The #1lib1ref campaign encourages libraries to run editathons that only add references to existing content on Wikipedia.
- The Smithsonian ran an event that encouraged folks to just add content to the Infoboxes on English Wikipedia.
- After batch uploads of media files to Wikimedia Commons, some events focus on adding these images to Wikimedia pages and then adding relevant contextual information about the images.
- Transcribing content on Wikisource is a common activity across many different language communities.
- Contributing to Wikidata can take far less time than Wikipedia because it does not require writing. Currently, however, introducing Wikidata and its editing interface to new volunteers may take longer than introducing Wikipedia.
Editathons or editing events focused on edits smaller than entire articles allow editathons to be run with a shorter window of time. This is because these kinds of contributions require less training of new contributors and those actions take less time. For example, many #1lib1ref editing events run for less than an hour in time. We recommend new organizers work with simpler contribution strategies to become more familiar with common activities in the Wikimedia community and to simplify event organization.