From November 2019 - February 2020, the Wikimedia Foundation, UN Human Rights, and volunteer editor communities around the world participated in the #WikiForHumanRights campaign to add and improve knowledge about human rights on Wikimedia projects. The guiding theme of the campaign focused on two key elements: the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and youth empowerment in human rights.
The campaign combined local community events, a social media campaign, and partner engagement to ask everyone to learn about and improve knowledge about human rights on Wikipedia. This report outlines the impact of the campaign, key successes, and recommendations for future content-driven campaigns.
Background of UN Human Rights and Wikimedia partnership
This pilot campaign was the first major collaboration between the Wikimedia Foundation and the United Nations Human Rights after we made a commitment to partner in August 2019 at Wikimania in Stockholm. This long-term partnership aims to bring richer, quality knowledge about human rights to Wikimedia projects to ensure people everywhere know about and understand their human rights. New content will be created in multiple languages and highlight local contexts so that it resonates with audiences globally. This collaboration builds on existing efforts in the movement from UNESCO’s Wikimedian in Residence, John Cummings, and Wikimedia Argentina’s highly successful WikiDerechosHumanos project to expand and amplify the movement’s work in human rights.
Community participation and content drive 
- We tracked more than 721 Wikipedia articles edited in more than 12 languages by 210 editors.
- Collectively, volunteers added more than 486,000 words to Wikipedia.
- 287 Wikipedia articles were created specifically for the campaign. (This is a subset of the 721 articles edited mentioned above).
- We saw participation in 12 language communities, with at least 8 in-person events across 6 countries.
- The Programs and Events Dashboard reports 8.7 million pageviews on content edited for the campaign, with nearly two-thirds of the pageviews on English.
Social media reach and engagement
- 588 social media posts using #WikiForHumanRights
- 14,326,962 potential people reached on social media
- Most engaged countries on social media: USA, Netherlands, Uganda, India, Ghana
- United Nations Human Rights provided guidance and review of more than 60 proposed human rights topics that needed articles and/or improvement on Wikipedia.
- United Nations Human Rights messages on Twitter received the most engagement of any post about the campaign on social media with 392 likes and 199 retweets.
- United Nations Human Rights helped promote the campaign through a blog post announcing the campaign’s launch, and another post sharing key results.
Key campaign insights
Overall, the campaign was a success with good engagement from volunteer communities and significant reach of messages that align Wikimedia as a resource for knowledge about human rights. Here are a few key insights we learned from this campaign:
Communities used the campaign to forge new partnerships.
- Notably, in Armenia, the local community proactively reached out to the local United Nations offices and were able to begin their first outreach events around human rights topics.
- Similarly, in Uganda, the community partnered with their local Goethe Institute to contribute and improve articles for the campaign.
Communities adapted the campaign for local needs and contexts.
- Across the campaign, we saw communities recognize the gaps that existed in their core topics about human rights. In wikis like Armenian (hywiki), Macedonian (mkwiki), Swahili (swwiki), Serbian (srwiki), and Bengali, participants chose not to focus on the theme of youth, but rather fill in key concepts such as the “right to life” and other rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- On English and Spanish Wikipedias, the communities paid significant attention to biographies of activists.
- After Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate was cropped out from an AP photo, the community in Nigeria took this recent news opportunity to host events called “WikiForBlackClimateRights” to add and improve coverage of African Climate activists.
Communities deployed different ways to “participate” in the campaign that aligned with existing projects and events.
- Eastern European languages participated in the campaign as part of existing on-wiki writing drives, for example, through their “Editing Weekends.” (see Serbian and Macedonian)
- In Argentina, Finland, Switzerland, Uganda, and Tanzania, communities explored how to expand work with existing institutional partners to include a human rights element. For example, in Tanzania and Uganda, organizers created co-branded edit-a-thons with Goethe institute and #1lib1ref (an existing, annual Wikimedia campaign for librarians and teachers) to include a human rights-focused theme of their edit-a-thons.
- English Wikipedia’s Women in Red highlighted human rights activists in their monthly theme.
Recommendations for future campaigns
Create campaign benchmarks and experiment with new tools to understand our impact.
- The Programs and Events dashboard, the main tool used to understand the impact of events and other Wikimedia community programs. Our dependence on registering individual editors on the Programs and Events dashboard, meant that we likely missed some contributions from the campaign and it restrained what kinds of edits we could track.
- For future campaigns, we recommend experimenting with more targeted tools to track our success and the impact of content-driven campaigns - expanding on Petscan and Wikidata-driven topic lists to automate tracking and reporting where possible.
Pre-plan for greater community support in activation of the campaign.
- Participating communities needed access to campaign information earlier to prepare events, contact potential partners, and prepare other community activation strategies for the content-driven campaign. Our timeline meant that community organizing started only a month out before the campaign started.
- Coordinating community outreach and support to participate in the campaign, led by Luisina Ferrante from Wikimedia Argentina and Alex Stinson from the Wikimedia Foundation, was critical in creating clear, streamlined outreach for affiliates and communities. We recommend utilizing and scaling up a similar dedicated community outreach and affiliate liaison role for future campaigns.
- We also recommend beginning community outreach at least two months in advance (where possible) of the campaign activation date to allow community organizers and individual volunteers adequate time and resources to plan for their participation. We also recommend surfacing grant resources (where applicable) and communications resources early in this outreach process to better support volunteers with resources to organize their participation.
Narrow in on a single, compelling campaign topic.
- There was no existing, active Wikipedia editor community dedicated to contributing articles on the two campaign themes - youth empowerment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (For example - topics surrounding gender equity and medical information have active, dedicated communities that contribute articles around these topics). Without an existing editor audience contributing content on those topics, it was more difficult to generate engagement in the campaign.
- In the future, we recommend narrowing in on a single topic and selecting a campaign theme that has a more dedicated community interest in the subject matter. This will also enable more concise, compelling messaging to help promote the campaign.
Create clearer pathways for newbies and readers to support the campaign.
- While we encouraged everyone to get involved in the campaign by sharing knowledge about human rights on social media, the opportunity for new editors and readers to participate in the content side of the campaign was opaque, missing a critical potential audience to get involved in the campaign.
- For future content-focused campaigns, we recommend identifying other ways we can encourage newbies and readers to get involved in the campaign beyond sharing its messages. For example, we could encourage newbies to “add a citation” to existing campaign articles or recommend topics that need further coverage on Wikipedia. We could also include resources in the campaign materials on how to start contributing articles for newbies to get involved.
Overall, we saw some great results in a short period of time, and the campaign has given us a cross-team collaboration and partnership model that we can now build on. It allowed us to elevate the perception of Wikipedia as a platform for social change in relation to human rights issues, while helping to advance Medium Term Plan goals, specifically, thriving movement and brand awareness.
Communities found unique ways to participate in the campaign and tapped local partners for events and initiatives. Community outreach and an appointed affiliate liaison further proved valuable in scaling the initiative amongst volunteers and opening an opportunity to develop this function more in future campaigns.
Proactive cross-team planning, defined partner roles, and a more targeted content focus (e.g. gender equity) will help to bolster future campaigns and attract new audiences to contribute. In addition, better tools to help measure campaign success will allow us to create relevant benchmarks and track progress. There were many lessons learned and opportunities to build upon to support strategic movement goals.