- 1 Introduction to Editing Events
- 2 What is your goal?
- 3 Having realistic goals
- 4 Preparation Question
- 5 Partner Organizations
- 6 Partner Role and Goals
- 7 Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
- 8 Preparation Question
- 9 Target audience
- 10 Working with underrepresented groups
- 11 Preparation question
- 12 Experienced-to-new contributor ratio
- 13 Creating a support team and finding help
- 14 Preparation question
- 15 End of Module 1
- 16 Module 2
- 16.1 Venue
- 16.2 Venue Challenges
- 16.3 Preparation question
- 16.4 Technology
- 16.5 Preparation question
- 16.6 Communications plan
- 16.7 On-Wiki communications
- 16.8 Public communications
- 16.9 Preparation questions
- 16.10 Event themes
- 16.11 Narrowing the focus of your theme
- 16.12 Preparing topics
- 16.13 Topics to avoid
- 16.14 Choosing your approach to editing articles
- 16.15 Focusing editathons on smaller contributions
- 16.16 Identifying existing articles for expansion
- 16.17 How to find existing articles
- 16.18 Identifying content gaps for editathons
- 16.19 Preparation question
- 16.20 End of Module 2
Introduction to Editing Events
Wikipedia editing events often come in different types, with different goals, for example:
- editathons -- event focused on a particular topic, with the goal of building awareness about gaps on Wikipedia and introducing new editors to that topic
- backstage passes -- events focused on exposing the collections, process or specialized knowledge of a cultural or research institution
- editing workshops/trainings -- events where building editing skills among participants is more important than creating content
- editing meetups -- events organized to support more experienced editors creating content, that are frequently scheduled at a regular time or place
- micro-contribution events -- in person events that focus on fixing a particular type of problem or adding small repeated contributions
This training focuses largely on the more thematic content-creation focused events, frequently called "editathons," while having advice or guidance that would be appropriate for other kinds of editing events. Editathons come in many shapes and sizes, from small events that last only an hour with a few people, to 72 hour events that include dozens of contributors. These events cover all kinds of topics, including, but not limited to:
- filling the gender gap, for example by covering women scientists or artists
- developing representation of indigenous knowledge or languages to fill systemic bias gaps on the web
- sharing deep knowledge from experts or institutions
- filling gaps about local history or heritage sites
Running an editathon or other editing event requires several different things: time, a space to gather, event runners who can facilitate understanding of Wikimedia projects, and a willing audience who wants to learn how to contribute to Wikimedia projects. Facilitating these gatherings can be challenging and involve many details.
What is your goal?
Before running an event, it is important to clarify why you want to run the event. Wikimedia communities frequently use contributing events to achieve a number of different goals.
A 2015 study of Editathons, found that most organizers ran this type of event to meet end goals such as:
- Build and engage a community
- Increase awareness of Wikimedia projects
- Increase the diversity of information covered on Wikimedia Projects
- Help make contribution to the Wikimedia community easier
- Increase diversity of participants in Wikimedia projects.
Having realistic goals
Though editing events can have powerful impacts, experience from the Wikimedia community finds that singular editathons or other editing events with largely new contributors:
- Do not have a high retention rate of new contributors, unless a very deliberate effort for follow-up with participants is made. See for example, the outcomes of the 2015 report and the 2013 Report. Contributors during these events may be able to be re-engaged later for other programs or activities, especially if your event is part of a series of events.
- Do not create very large volumes of content when compared to the productivity of experienced editors, online writing contests, or to more long-term mentoring of new contributors, like in the Education Program.
While creating a targeted, narrow content addition, editathons work best at:
- building relationships with host institutions,
- developing awareness about the Wikimedia Community
- developing awareness of knowledge gaps, and
- developing understanding of Wikimedia projects.
Throughout this training you will encounter “Preparation Questions”. These questions can be used to help you begin drafting the event plan for your event. Here is the first preparation question.
Preparation question: What are your high level goals for the event? What are the specific outcomes you hope to achieve with the event?
If you still have questions, find out more information about setting goals and targets on the Learning and Evaluation portal on Meta Wikimedia.
For many Wikimedia communities, editathons offer an opportunity to collaborate with local organizations. Editathons can be hosted in partnership with many types of organizations. For example:
- Libraries: libraries are one of the most common hosts for editathons. Libraries specialize in research, and often can support events and programs which promote research skills, local or specialized knowledge related to their collections, or promoting local community needs.
- Other GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and heritage organizations: GLAMs and institutions such as local historical societies frequently support editing events in an effort to share awareness of their particular area or field of interest.
- Universities and other research organizations: other research organizations can be good allies because they have expertise and a desire to build awareness about expert information across public platforms.
- Government or non-governmental / nonprofit organizations: various types of government and non-governmental or nonprofit organizations have knowledge that can be shared with the public with projects like Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata.
Wikimedia communities all over the world organize events with ever more diverse groups of partners. As an event organizer: make sure to innovate on who you work with, you may find surprising new partners who share your interest in promoting free, public knowledge.
Partner Role and Goals
Each organization type has different goals and needs from editing events. However, working with an organization for a editathon also enables a number of other opportunities:
- Organizations can provide space and logistical support (such as ordering food or providing access to computers with internet connectivity). Very few editathons pay for space, because they use public venues or donated space.
- Research organizations can provide sources for the volunteer editing to simplify the content creation process.
- Promotion of the event builds awareness for both the partner and the local Wikimedia community.
- Organizations are able toadvance public access to types of knowledge that they find important through highly visible digital platforms.
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Note that when working with partners, you need to make sure that you find partners who share similar goals to you, so that you can develop a shared plan that meets the goals of both you and the partner.
Some partner needs will be different than your however. When evaluating, the needs of the partner its important to:
- Avoid running events that may create a financial conflict of interest for participants, as this is strictly prohibited by the Wikimedia Conflict of Interest Policy.
- Avoid events that might be seen as promotional of the organization or partner helping host the event. Though promoting public knowledge and research relevant to an organization might be the main goal of the event, avoid promoting just one point of view at the event.
If you are concerned that the event might create conflicts of interest, consider reviewing the section in the Plain and Simple Conflict of Interest Guide on types of conflict of interest
- Can you think of a partner that can provide support for an edit-a-thon? What type of support can they provide?
- How do your goals and your partner’s goals compare? What is your plan to address those goals ?
After you establish your goals and capacity expectations with your partner, you should next ask: who will participate in the editathon?
Editathon planning, resources, and communications change significantly with different audiences. For example:
- Students and university faculty may only be available during certain times of year and certain times of the week. Students may not immediately understand why they may need to get engaged, so may need to be encouraged through extra credit or other pre-communication strategies.
- Working age volunteers may need for events to be run during weekends or non-working times such as afternoons or evenings.
- Working with professional groups, such as librarians, museum staff, or professional researchers, may require prior approval and support from administrators or managers at the organization.
Working with underrepresented groups
Many events focus on including underrepresented groups into Wikimedia communities. These underrepresented groups frequently face additional challenges that you will likely need to anticipate. Underrepresented groups may change your event's tactics, for example:
- If your goal is to encourage working-age women contributors, Art+Feminism has demonstrated that organizing child care and advertising this as part of the event encourages more participation.
- Working with ethnic, linguistic, or cultural minorities may require making the space a deliberate safe space where they will comfortable and welcomed through targeted communications strategies towards these groups.
- Working with some groups may require adjusting your tactics or working with local cultural expectations, such as with indigenous communities. For example the Australian Aboriginal people have restrictions on how traditional knowledge is transmitted.
- Working with senior citizens may require more helpers prepared to support other digital skills, such as using web browsers, digital library collections, and other software or hardware.
Once you have identified your audience for the event, you need to work on appropriate messaging to communicate your activity, goal, and why their participation matters.
For example, if your main goal is to train and engage women to be contributors to Wikipedia, the audience might need a message focusing on activism -- one that focuses on the key role of women advancing knowledge on the internet, for example.
Preparation question: Who is your audience? Write a message aimed at your target group that is inviting for them to participate.
Experienced-to-new contributor ratio
Before running an editing event, one of the more important questions you should ask is: Do you or your expected attendees have sufficient experience working with Wikimedia projects to support newcomers during the event? And are there enough collaborators to share the work needed to support the size of the event?
Though anyone can edit Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, each project and each language version of the projects have different cultures and practices. If you have some experience or training in contributing to the project, and feel comfortable guiding new editors through the process, you will likely have a successful event.
Most events that train new contributors, need sufficient experienced contributors on-hand to help guide them through questions. Community experience suggests organizers need at least one experienced contributor for every 5-10 expected new contributors. This allows experienced contributors to answer questions, and support new editors throughout the event.
Creating a support team and finding help
If you don’t have much experience yourself or would like more support, consider finding a partner or ally to be either available in-person or for online support. Typically the best tactics for finding partners will be:
- Wikimedia outreach communities, like WikiProject Women Scientists, Art+Feminism and Black Lunch Table, have developed fairly extensive training packets and networks of support for event runners with limited experiences. Connecting with one of these communities and participating in one of their trainings will help connect you with best practices, and find a network of support.
- Contacting a local Wikimedia affiliate. Editathons are frequently a core program strategy for local Wikimedia affiliates.
- Asking local professional communities that may have experience; for example, in many parts of the world, library communities will have individuals with experience teaching Wikipedia contribution through events like #1lib1ref and Art+Feminism or participating in the Wikipedia Education Program.
If you find support from others, consider splitting the activities and roles listed throughout this training among collaborators. For example, one person might focus on communications, while another person can focus on training and supporting newcomers, while another person can focus on developing on-wiki worklists or resources.
How many people do you expect to attend? Who do you expect to be your experienced helpers at the event? Have you found an organization who might be able to connect you with other experienced contributors?
End of Module 1
This is the end of the first section of the Editing Event training. After this training, you should be able to:
- Describe your goals for an editing event.
- Describe your audience for that event.
- Describe if you need to find additional experienced Wikipedia editors and how you can find them.
If you don’t feel confident doing these activities, consider reviewing the training again or reaching out for support through one of the communication channels listed on the GLAM-Wiki portal.
One of the first activities when planning any editing event is confirming venue plans. Once you have chosen a venue and negotiated a time for the event that is appropriate for your audience, it's important to think about other elements of using the venue for the event. If working with a partner, these will likely be simpler because your venue partner may be able to help.
Choosing a venue or promoting features of a venue may intrigue or encourage participation from both existing Wikimedia Community members and/or a broader public. For example, the '#72HorasConRodin Editathon at Museum Sumeo found that the novelty of staying overnight in a museum helped greatly increase interest in the editathon.
Common venue planning challenges that event runners encounter include:
- Ensuring that timing of the event and access to the venue are well documented for attendees.
- Some partners or host organizations will have limitations on how you access the spaces or will require ending the event at a particular time.
- If access to the space will be limited, make sure to create clear instructions for how to gain access for the event or if people planning to attend end up arriving late to the venue.
- Consider if the design of the space will prevent participation from potential participants, including people with limited mobility.
- Providing comforts and other support for the participants:
- Ensuring that food and drink, such as coffee, tea, and water, are available throughout the event. Food both sustains energy during the event and provides motivation and reward for attending the event. Though not all events include food, including food greatly increases morale and energy throughout the event.
- Deciding if you plan on including childcare at the event. Childcare is particularly important for audiences who are likely to have young families.
- Deciding if you want to include swag or other materials that can be handed out to participants.
- Identifying if the partner/host organization wants to provide either a presentation by one of the experts on the event topic or a “backstage pass” of the institution’s operations. These thematic opportunities allow the partner or host to share some of their mission and role in the event with participants.
Preparation question: Have you confirmed the details for the event venue? What comforts or amenities are you considering providing for the event? Can you promote the unique elements of the venue or the event as part of communications?
Technology is the second, and perhaps more important, component of venue planning. When running Wikimedia editing events, people will require computers with internet access, otherwise participation is not possible. Before the event, it's important to ensure that the technology at the venue can support the participants. Early in your planning you should:
- Identify if the venue has a strong enough WiFi network for supporting your size event, and that WiFi is easily accessible through a simple login process. If the WiFi requires a password, you will need to confirm the password in the weeks leading up to the event and provide participants that information during the event.
- Identify whether participants need to bring laptops or if computers will be provided. It’s always a good idea to have several extra laptops on hand for participants to use if devices don’t work or if they don’t have personal laptops.
- Ensure that there are sufficient power outlets for the laptop devices expected to attend. If not, consider getting powerstrips for the event or from the host institution.
- Ensuring that you have some type of presentation screen (large TV screen or projector), that can be used for live demonstrations.
Have you confirmed with the venue that internet, plugs, and computers can support the expected attendees? Do you have access to a projector?
Once the date and time have been established with the partner, it's important to start building interest in the event through communications. Typically these communications will be designed to reach two audiences: experienced Wikimedians through on-wiki communications and the more general audience that you identified in Module 1 through other communications channels.
To include the Wikimedia community and encourage participation from local experienced editors, it's important to build an on-wiki presence for the events. Best practice is:
- To create an on-wiki event page with the logistics. On English Wikipedia, the meetup listings and instructions can be found at: WP:Meetup on English Wikipedia. On wiki event pages, provide a powerful tool for the event: you can ask experienced editors to sign up for the event, list potential editing topics or list research materials that can be used by participants.
- Notifying your local affiliate about the event so that they can activate local volunteers. Affiliates are listed at: the movement affiliates page on meta.
- You may want to run a Geonotice, which places a text message in front of Wikimedia Contributors within a particular geographic region. On English Wikipedia the listing for Geonotices can be found at: Wikipedia:Geonotice
Public communications can vary greatly by audience and goals of the program. Consider using the following:
- Creating a public and off-wiki signup page using a Facebook Event, Meetup.org event, or similar event registration site. These pages help with the following:
- New contributors to Wikimedia projects may have difficulty registering their interest on-wiki. Moreover, communicating with new contributors might be challenging if the only contact information you have is a Wikipedia User name (not all new contributors see messages on their talk pages).
- If there is a limit on the number of participants you can support at the event (whether because of venue size or number of experienced participants), you can become aware of too much interest during the sign up process and plan accordingly. Note that on public event pages, frequently more people sign up then actually attend.
- Doing announcement in venues appropriate to your audience:
- Email outreach, such as newsletters of partner institution volunteers or patrons
- Social media outreach, including targeted outreach on major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to influencers for your audience
- Targeted flyers in the correct venues for your audience (see examples, in the Wikimedia Edit-a-thon Poster category on Commons).
- Asking institutional partners to personally invite people who they think will be interested in the program. Many members of the public don’t understand what editing Wikimedia projects means: trusted staff at institutions can often encourage folks to participate, that might not take part in an edit-a-thon otherwise.
Do you know which communication venues you plan to use for reaching participants? Do you have a plan for when you want to make those announcements?
Most editing events have a theme that can appeal to your audience and encourage participation. A theme reflects the core concept of the event, and gives clear expectations to participants with regard to what they can contribute and learn by taking part of the event. Additionally, themes help people feel motivated to participate in the event. Members of the public who have never contributed to Wikimedia projects may not know why a broad call to “edit Wikipedia” is important.
Effective themes have the following characteristics:
- Your host organization or broadly available digital research platforms have significant secondary and tertiary research about these topics (see the English Wikipedia guideline for identifying reliable sources).
- At least one of the participants supporting the event is knowledgeable about the broad topic. Having a knowledgeable person available can help participants with little understanding of the topic, navigate the right research materials and place the correct emphasis on content.
- The topic will appeal to your expected participants. For example, Art+Feminism focuses on gender-activists, artists, and cultural heritage professionals as their audience, the theme of “Women in the arts” tends to appeal to all of these audiences.
Narrowing the focus of your theme
Narrowing your broad theme and limiting the potential scope of the contributions can help with topic identification (see subsequent slides). Common ways to narrow topics include:
- Limiting the geographic scope of the topic to the local region. Instead of “women artists”, you may want to focus on "women artists from Mexico City", if you are running an event in Mexico City.
- Limiting the sub-discipline of the theme. Instead of the “history of Washington, D.C.”, you might focus on the “economic history of Washington, D.C.” or the “history of the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.”
- Focusing on a particular event or point in time that reflects the broader theme. Instead of “French labor history”, you might focus on the “May 1968 events in France.”
Once you have refined the theme, the next step is identifying articles that are appropriate for the topic. If you find that you cannot develop a list of topics based on the narrowed theme, consider modifying it.
Online Wikimedia editing focuses on individuals finding pages they want to work on, and then contributing on their own time. In-person editing events work best when there is a narrow list of tasks that can be completed at the event. By preparing a list of articles that fit your theme ahead of time and pairing those articles with a handful of potential sources, you save participants from the complicated process of first picking a topic and then doing research.
When working with librarians or experts in the topic, they may be able to help you identify the source materials before the event and prepare them for research (by pulling them from library shelves for instance, or collecting links to open access source materials).
Topics to avoid
There are also a handful of existing topics that you should avoid:
- Topics with well-known or political disagreements about them. If there is widespread public disagreement about a topic, there is also probably widespread disagreement on Wikimedia projects. These kinds of topics, ranging from the Israel-Palestine Conflict to Alternative Medicine or Scientology, may accidentally expose the new contributors to aggressive editors or long-standing disputes.
- Topics with very active recent edit histories ( for a tutorial on reading Page histories, see: this help page for interpreting page histories). This article might be currently of interest to active editors.
- Topics about living people, especially if those people are directly affiliated with sponsor organizations or are not well-documented by reliable periodicals. Biographies of living people articles undergo additional scrutiny by other Wikimedia community members.
Avoiding high-conflict or high activity pages helps new contributors avoid creating content that might be rapidly removed from Wikipedia articles or creating content that may accidentally lead the new contributor into conflict-situations created by passionate editors.
Choosing your approach to editing articles
There are two types of Wikipedia articles that typically get used in article-writing events:
- Existing articles: The best type of articles for Editathons are existing short or under-researched articles that can be easily expanded. This is especially true if the event runners are not experienced contributors to Wikipedia. Existing articles have already been on Wikipedia for some time, so have been reviewed by at least one or two community members as Notable (eligible for inclusion in Wikipedia). For example, in 2017 the Art+Feminism Campaign shifted to encouraging expansion of articles. Since they mostly work with new organizers and contributors, they found fewer incidences of articles being nominated for deletion or negative criticism from community members.
- New articles: Encouraging new editors to write new articles can be challenging: new contributors don’t always know how to integrate articles into Wikipedia in ways that other editors acknowledge as quality work. Additionally, by starting with new articles, new editors have to engage in some of the more complex components of content writing (such as deciding the structure and scope of the page). Nevertheless, some editathons require starting new content, especially when the editathon is focused on a topic less covered on the projects.
When preparing suggested articles for new contributors, consider having 5-10 more articles than you expect attendees. This allows for attendees to have sufficient amount of choice among the articles, allows folks to work on different topics if they get stuck, and accounts for unexpected attendees at the event.
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.
Identifying existing articles for expansion
Generally when looking for articles that new contributors can work on within your theme for the event, you are looking for several characteristics:
- Articles that are short or are missing common sections for articles of that genre. For example, biographies missing significant information on “Early Life and Education” or articles about organizations missing significant information about their history.
- Articles about concrete topics that don’t require expert interpretation of research to define scope. For example, articles about proper-noun people, buildings, pieces of artwork, or organizations are much easier to write than survey articles about well-studied academic fields or theories with many different interpretations. Topics with a distinct keyword that editors can use in searching for research materials helps significantly (such as a fairly unique name or title).
- Articles that don't have many footnotes or other references. This indicates that an experienced editor hasn't likely spent significant time developing the article, reducing the potential for conflict or that contributions will be removed.
How to find existing articles
When choosing articles to work on, it might require a bit of exploring in Wikipedia. The easiest ways to find articles are:
- Searching for topics of related interest to the editathon topic using both Wikimedia’s internal search or through external search tools like Google.
- Investigating categories related to the topic of the editathon. For information about navigating categories, see the help page on English Wikipedia
- Finding a WikiProject which might document the topic area and examining articles listed as part of the project. WikiProjects are listed on English Wikipedia at: the WikiProject Council Directory . Most WikiProjects have article assessment grids that can be used to find stub and start class articles which might be appropriate for an editing event.
Pro tip: If you are comfortable with Wikidata, it is possible to use Wikidata Queries to create comprehensive worklists for campaigns. The main tool for creating these lists, can be found at: Template:Wikidata list
Identifying content gaps for editathons
Many editing events want to create new content that helps fill gaps on Wikipedia. Although writing new content increases the representation of diversity on Wikipedia, new contributors can often struggle with a) finding a suitably “notable” topic, b) creating an article from scratch that is sufficiently “wikified” to pass through initial scrutiny from other editors, or c) figuring out the correct structure for organizing the new content. We recommend that less-experienced contributors to Wikimedia projects not encourage event participants to create new articles.
To help simplify the articles creation process, screen topics ahead of time and provide at least a handful of references for each topic to save research time among participants. To identify a topic that is likely appropriate for writing an article for in an Editathon, consider the following:
- That the article will meet the General Notabilty Guidelines: that the topic has lasting interest and there is significant coverage in reliable secondary sources (newspapers, magazines, books, academic journal articles) or tertiary sources (encyclopedias, etc). For editing events, it is a good practice to find at least 2-3 sources that editors can use to establish notability.
- That the article can be reasonably expanded through additional research using simple digital search techniques. By finding topics that are easily searchable, both Wikipedians and the new editors can either expand the articles or verify that the topic is actually notable.
- That the source materials for the topic are easy to read by your editing-event audience and cover various aspects of the topic. This ensures that the inexperienced editors can create content during the event about the topic that is sufficiently broad to make the article useful. Try to avoid topics that will primarily be covered in expert documentation if engaging non-expert audiences.
Make sure to create redlinks for the appropriate name for the article in the on-wiki event page. Also, its is a good idea to include external links to existing digital sources about the topic or work with librarians to pull off-wiki materials.
Have you identified enough topics to help orient contributors at your event to potential editing activities?
End of Module 2
This is the end of the second section of the Editing Event training. After this training, you should be able to:
- Feel confident in confirming the venue plans for your event.
- Develop a communications plan for your event
- Identify topics relevant to the theme of your event
- Creating a working list for event participants
If you don’t feel confident doing these activities, consider reviewing the training again or reaching out for support through one of the communication channels listed on the GLAM-Wiki portal.