User:EpochFail/Research recruitment

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Scholarly research of Wikipedia is useful for understanding the encyclopedia's content, readers, editors, history, current state, and future. These results also yield important knowledge applicable to other open content communities. In addition to driving scholarly knowledge of such systems, this work can also give results that can improve Wikipedia itself. Much valuable research cannot be done without Wikimedia community members who volunteer to participate in studies. This policy exists to describe a process by which researchers can obtain community approval to recruit participants.


This policy pertains the recruitment of research participants from the membership of one or more Wikimedia projects.

Types of recruitment[edit]


Many research projects can recruit from editors who are active in the community bulletin boards. Recruitment requests for projects of these types can be posted directly to the available, public message boards (eg. en:WP:VP) to solicit participation.

Targeted requests[edit]

Some research projects must recruit randomly from a specific subset of the community in order to maintain statistical validity. Random sampling requires that individual editors be contacted to participate in the study. However, contacting editors directly can be disruptive to editors' work. Because of the possibility of disruption, researchers must obtain approval from the community before contacting editors directly.

The recommended processes for obtaining approval is as follows:

  1. Create a project and list it in Research/Projects
  2. Notify the community of the recruitment plans
    • Post a link to the project page on a forum that is viewed by the community members that recruitment requests will be sent to. (eg. en:WP:VP)
    • Post a link to wiki-research-l
  3. Once questions have been answered and discussion slows, a straw poll should be taken.
  4. An uninvolved editor should be invited to determine consensus.

As a rule of thumb, if a researcher wants to contact an individual with the intent of collecting data for use in a study, and that contact is unsolicited, he or she will need community approval. Specifically, a researcher must obtain community approval to use tools within Wikipedia (e.g., talk page postings, Special:EmailUser) to contact Wikipedia users when all of the following apply:

  • The communication would be the first by that researcher and the user (automated talk page postings by bot do not count as prior communication).
  • The message is not personal communication.
  • The message is not related directly to work on a Wikimedia community's content, policy, or systems.
  • The user did not solicit the message.
  • The user is not a member of a WikiProject, work group, etc. managed by the researcher.
  • The user is not a current or recent participant in one of the researchers' studies.

Community members who have received a recruitment message have no obligation to participate any study. Users who do not wish to receive subject recruitment messages will be able to opt out by adding the template {{no_recruit}} to their user page. Researchers must not send subject recruitment requests to users with the no_recruit template on their user page.