Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2019/Programme/Submissions/How to organize a bad writing contest? A practical guide to failing terribly

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Title of the submission
Type of submission (lecture, panel, workshop, lightning talk, roundtable, poster)
  • lecture
Author(s) of the submission

Natalia Szafran-Kozakowska (WMPL)




Wikimedia Polska

  • Community Engagement
Abstract (up to 100 words)

In WMPL we know a lot about writing contests - after all more than 4000 articles added to plwiki in 2018 were added during those activities. We know not only how to succeed in planning them but also - how to fail terribly! So if your community wants to have more contests and is interested in doing All The Wrong Things this session is for you. I will share all the bad practices and mistakes we made or avoided making giving you a perfect recipe to creating a Catastrophic Contests from your worst nightmares.

How will this session be beneficial for the communities in the region of Central and Eastern Europe?

The audience will more about how to organize editing contests – from larger ones to small projects without any budget – so that they bring good results and avoid creating tensions in the community.

Special requirements
Slides or further information

slides (Google Drive)


Interested attendees[edit]

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  1. Vogone (talk) 12:51, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Bonvol (talk) 07:34, 19 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Yupik (talk) 23:41, 26 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  4. --Jetam2 (talk) 12:39, 30 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Yerpo Eh? 16:12, 13 August 2019 (UTC)[reply]


  • The first rule of a bad contest? Do not talk about the contest!
  • Try to keep the contest secret as long as you can!
  • Confusing scoring system - the more complicated, the better. For example, take 2 different activities and give them the same amount of points.
  • Don't ask yourself how will you track the results? Don't think about that before the contest.
  • Make it a whole contest about competing, that is an important rule for a bad contest. Some of them will be demotivated, but at the same time, few of them who want to win the main prize will do their best and the results will be good. But that might cause a conflict.
  • If you want people to be angry at each other, make everything about competing.
  • And one surprising idea for a catastrophe are prizes. Prizes are terrible for a contest. Why? Because of the overjustification effect. People who have external motives for doing something lose their internal motivation.
  • If we start rewarding something they have already done, they will stop doing that for fun.
  • It can also encourage people to "cheat" during writing articles, for example.
  • Whole content creation thing is about having fun, challenging yourself, and getting better in this that matter. People can do a lot without prizes, and if you give them prizes, the content will be good but that will be no good for the community. Not all the prizes are bad, for example, prizes that are not that expensive but personalized.
  • Q1: I just want to add that it depends on what contest are you making, it is different when are you making a contest for new users or the existing one.
    • I agree but the contest is not the way we attract new people.