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Wikimedia Deutschland/new-editors

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Associated Research
Available Materials for Adoption


Current Status[edit]

  • 2021-06-15 - The newsletter "Wiki-Post" (in German) was launched. It is a follow-up newsletter to the Aktionswoche/ 30-Tage-Wikipedia-Challenge aiming to provide information to those interested in volunteering and new volunteers to help them become active.
  • 2021-03-15 - 2021-03-21 - The "Aktionswoche / action week" (in German) for Wikipedia's 20th birthday took place. It was a one-week program consisting of videos, an online exhibition, and other activities.
  • 2021-01-07 – All results of the "banner campaign for the Wikipedia Challenge"(1.-11.10.2020) published. The banner campaign was twice as successful as previous banner campaigns for non-logged-in users in terms of banner click-through rates. Almost 9,500 people registered for the Challenge because of the banners. It was also exciting to see how differently promoting the Challenge via Wikipedia banners worked compared to promoting it via social media (run in May/June 2020). The more precise targeting of specific groups via social media also seems to be reflected in higher interaction rates.
  • 2020-10-23 – We created a Meta Page for our Free Knowledge Team Test with an explanation how to adapt the test.
  • 2020-03-12 – We completed the analysis of the 'Thank You!' Banner Campaign 2020 and published the results (currently only in German).
  • 2020-01-19 – We published two evaluations of 2019 campaigns: the e-mail campaign 2019 in October targeting donors to also become volunteers for Wikipedia (in German) and the Wikipedia Action Day 2019 in November 2019 (in German).
  • 2020-01 – Wikimedia Deutschland now offers a newsletter (in German) featuring news and interesting stories about Wikimedia, Wikipedia, and Free Knowledge.
  • 2019-11-29 / 2019-12-01 – We organized two Train the Trainer workshops for introductory Wikipedia courses in Berlin and Stuttgart.
  • 2019-11-10 – We supported the Wikipedia Action Day 2019 in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
  • 2019-11-05 – Publication of recent results from the project Technical Hurdles in the Usability of German-language Wikipedia.
  • 2019-09-12 – Two new campaigns (Social Media campaign, e-mail campaign) in the fall will test new approaches to recruiting new volunteers.

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Since 2007, the number of active editors in the German-language Wikipedia has been in decline. To counter this development, in 2017, WMDE began to conduct online campaigns – in addition to offline activities such as Wikipedia Action Days – to convince Wikipedia readers to become new Wikipedia editors.

Key Findings and Results (in English)[edit]

You can find key findings and results from our campaigns here.


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Since 2017, the Volunteer Support Team at Wikimedia Deutschland has been regularly conducting online marketing campaigns using web banners on the German-language Wikipedia in order to recruit new editors. The banners are deployed via Central Notice DE-WP, as we cannot independently place any banners on Wikipedia.

A typical campaign usually features at least one banner with a graphical element, a claim, and a call-to-action, and leads to a campaign landing page. The duration of a campaign is usually seven to ten days. The banner gets displayed in front of a high percentage of guest users of Wikipedia (those who are not logged in), which amounts to between 7.5m (Spring Campaign 2017) and 168.4m (‘Thank You!’ Banner Campaign 2019) banner impressions. Depending on the campaign, landing page views range from 17k to 591k. The results vary, depending on campaign objectives. The campaigns achieved new user registrations ranging from 111 (Summer Campaign 2018) to 1,243 (Spring Campaign 2018). Of those newly-registered users, between 32 (Summer Campaign 2017) and 223 (Fall Campaign 2017) became active new editors.

E-Mail Campaigns (since 2019 - ongoing)[edit]

In October 2019, we conducted our first e-mail campaign with the goal of recruiting donors to also become active editors on Wikipedia. Our previous online campaigns have exclusively used web banners displayed on the German-language Wikipedia. This first e-mail campaign achieved an opening rate of around 40% in the first mailing, and about 5% clicked on one of the links, which is a medium value for such campaigns across industries. A second mailing contained an inquiry about the first mailing, and brought us 200 responses. All mailings combined achieved a total of 318 landing page views and 30 new user registrations. The conversion rate from mailings to landing page views was 0.8%, which is double the amount of the average for banner campaigns (0.4%). We also assume that the high response rate to our follow-up mailing indicates a strong identification with Wikipedia and/or Wikimedia Deutschland. The activity of newly-registered users was unfortunately relatively low: Only two users made any edits. The influence of the campaign on donor behaviour will be examined for a longer period of time after the campaign. As soon as we have new results, they will be added here.
As email has shown promise in reaching people with potential for involvement in Wikimedia projects, we have been implementing two further email campaigns since then:
The 30-Day Wikipedia Challenge is an email campaign designed in 2020 that can still be launched at any time. It is intended to attract new volunteers and to introduce them to the Wikiverse step by step. For this purpose, participants were sent a daily email over a month (30 days) with information about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Each of the emails also contained tasks (missions) that the recipients were supposed to solve. The campaign was promoted on Facebook and Instagram from mid to late May 2020. On average, the emails were opened by 45.89 percent of the recipients. This suggests that the recipients were very interested in the topics on offer. On average, the number of openers who clicked on a link in the email was 13.6 percent. This is also a very high rate compared to the industry. One of the aims of the campaign was to encourage recipients to register for a user account. Overall, the registration numbers are relatively high compared to other campaign formats. A total of 45 people created a Wikipedia account, which is 5.48 percent of the average number of recipients.
The latest project, "Wiki-Post", is now intended to follow on from the 30-day Wikipedia Challenge and the action week: the relatively precise measurability of the success indicators in email campaigns allows for an evaluation and optimisation of the measures for further expansion of the project.

Social Media Campaigns (since 2019 - ongoing)[edit]

In September 2019, we conducted our first social media campaign. This campaign was the first online campaign of Team Volunteer Support outside of the platform Wikipedia and the banner campaigns displayed there. One goal was to test whether advertisements on Social Media would be of interest to Wikimedia. For re:publica19, we had developed a type test, the 'Participation'-test ("Mitmachen-Test" in German), which suggests to users how and where they can participate in creating Free Knowledge, based on their selected answers. The test offers a previously non-existent overview of the various opportunities to participate and entry points into the Wikimedia ecosystem, including Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, and engagement on behalf of Open Data and Free Knowledge. The test was well-received among the community.

As the landing page and the test had previously only been presented at re:publica19, and were therefore not known among a broader public, we took up a suggestion from the community and expanded the test to Facebook and Instagram with paid advertising. The 'Participation'-test was very well received on Social Media. Over the duration of about four weeks, ads were booked alternately on Facebook and Instagram. As a result, over 1,200 participants were motivated to complete the 'Participation'-test. The test gained additional reach through embedded ‘Share’ buttons for Facebook and other Social Media platforms.

All Campaigns[edit]

In the table below, you can find links to all our past and present campaigns designed to recruit and retain new volunteers in the German-language Wikimedia projects. By clicking on a link, you will be directed to the respective campaign's project page with more detailed information (at the moment only in German).

2021 Campaigns

'Wiki-Mail' E-Mail Campaign 2021 (Wiki-Post E-Mail Kampagne 2021) 'Action week' Campaign 2021 (Aktionswoche Kampagne 2021)  

2020 Campaigns

'30-days-Wikipedia-challenge' Banner Campaign 2020 (30-Tage-Wikipedia-Challenge Banner Kampagne) '30-days-Wikipedia-challenge' E-Mail Campaign 2020 (30-Tage-Wikipedia-Challenge E-Mail Kampagne) 'Occasional-Editing' Banner Campaign 2020 ("Gelegenheitsedits Banner Kampagne 2020") 'Thank You!' Banner Campaign 2020 ("Dankesbanner-Aktion 2020)  

2019 Campaigns

"'Thank You!' Banner Campaign 2019 ("Dankesbanner-Aktion 2019") Wikipedia Action Day 2019 ("Aktionstag 'Wikipedia vor Ort' 2019")

Social Media Campaign 2019 ("Social Media Kampagne 2019")

E-mail Campaign 2019 ("E-Mail-Kampagne 2019")


2018 Campaigns

'Thank You!' Banner Campaign 2018 ("Dankesbanner-Aktion 2018") Spring Campaign 2018 ("Frühjahrsaktion 2018") Summer Campaign 2018 ("Sommeraktion 2018") Wikipedia Action Day 2018 ("Aktionstag 'Wikipedia vor Ort' 2018"  

2017 Campaigns

'Thank You!' Banner Campaign 2017 ("Dankesbanner-Aktion 2017") Spring Campaign 2017 ("Frühjahrsaktion 2017") Summer Campaign 2017 ("Sommeraktion 2017" Fall Campaign 2017 ("Herbstaktion 2017")  
2017 Campaigns Evaluation ("Auswertung 2017")  

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Ways to Participate[edit]


Screenshot of the 'Participate Test' from Wikimedia Deutschland
  • On location during events, a low-barrier interactive test with beautiful graphics attracts attention.
  • People want to participate → The message "Free Knowledge thrives on participation!" needs to be emphasized more.
  • The breadth of participation opportunities is important for an individual appeal → It is good to have something for everyone.
  • One challenge lies in the online / offline divergence of the test (offline on location during events versus visiting a landing page).
  • The main challenge is providing easy-to-use introductory pages for new volunteers.
  • For online use, features like the 'Participation Test' need to be implemented with a responsive design / optimized for mobile devices, as an increasing share of especially younger users rarely use the classical desktop or laptop PC in their daily Internet use anymore.
  • An attractive visual design (e.g. illustrations) is key for appealing to younger online audiences outside of Wikipedia.

Project Summary[edit]

In the beginning of 2019, WMDE began to develop an interactive ‘Participate Test’ (“Mitmachtest”) designed to raise awareness of the opportunities to participate in Wikimedia projects, foster volunteer identification with the projects around Free Knowledge, and illustrate the great variety of ways to contribute to Free Knowledge.

The first project phase, which lasted from January to June 2019, included concept development, software development and website programming until the beginning of May, followed by an initial deployment during re:publica 2019 and additional deployments at other conferences.

The second project phase, from July to October 2019, included the development of a social media campaign to promote the test and the transfer of the test to a mobile-friendly website. In October 2019, the social media campaign was deployed on Facebook and Instagram.
You can find a more detailed project description here.
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Associated Research[edit]

User Experiences for WMDE Onboarding Tools in Wikipedia (2020-2021)[edit]

In a diary study, 10 users were interviewed and observed how they use and evaluate the onboarding tools created by WMDE in Wikipedia for their own learning. The results show that the tools cover all relevant topics in terms of content, but that the design, usability, coordination with each other and findability should be improved.

All results and the project page can be found here (in German).

Mentoring in the German Wikipedia (2020)[edit]

With the help of 4 semi-structured expert interviews with Wikipedia activists who support newcomers during their entry, needs and potentials for mentoring on Wikipedia were identified. Based on the findings from these interviews, recommendations for the support structure for mentoring in the German-language Wikipedia could be given.

The project page can be found here (in German).

Research project "Pathways to the World of Free Knowledge" (2020)[edit]

Recurring issues have emerged from past WMDE activities and campaigns to recruit new volunteers. Many people show interest in joining Wikipedia during our campaigns, but only a few of these interested people actually stay on. In the research project "Ways into the World of Free Knowledge", we would like to identify success factors and access routes into a voluntary commitment to free knowledge based on this problem. For this purpose, active community members from Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons will be interviewed in order to learn from their personal experiences in participating in Wikimedia projects.

More information and the results can be found on the project page (in German).

Effects of the thank-you function (2018-2020)[edit]

A study by the non-profit organization CivilServant (renamed CAT Lab) looked at the effects of the thank-you function on the experiences of Wikipedians. The first part of the study was to find out if using the thank-you function (i.e. giving thanks) has effects, the second part was to look at effects on active people (especially those who have not been around that long) when they receive a thank-you.

Positive effects from giving thank-yous were not found (although this could be due to the unexpectedly small number of participants). In the second part of the study, a positive effect on membership length and giving thank-yous themselves could be measured for new authors.

The project page can be found here (in German).

Wikipedia Approaches to Onboarding (January 2018)[edit]

In January 2018, we commissioned a qualitative study ("Wikipedia Onboarding Ansätze - Ergebnisse einer qualitativen Studie") (in German) on the various onboarding measures we had implemented throughout 2017.

In the context of recruiting new volunteers, WMDE conducted several campaigns on Wikipedia throughout the year (2017) with the aim of contributing to the recruitment of new editors, but also easing the entry into editing Wikipedia.

The findings from the campaigns are limited to quantitative results regarding registrations, edits, numbers of views of videos, viewing duration and use of guided tours. Whether or not these tours are truly helpful can be better determined through in-person interviews.

The detailed results of the qualitative study on onboarding approaches are available on a separate page (in German).

Qualitative interviews about Wikipedia onboarding videos (February 2017)[edit]

Our main aim with this survey, conducted by German market research company GIM in February 2017, was to find out more about the perception of a series of video tutorials we had created for new editors. In these videos, we explain the main rules of Wikipedia and the basic process of editing articles.

Other research aspects of the survey included gaining a better understanding of new editors' motivations and their views on when and how they would expect help in the process of getting started with contributing to Wikipedia.

The main findings were:

  • Wikipedia is very relevant for the respondents and they expect a high article quality on Wikipedia
  • People have the impression that they need to be very competent in regard to a topic before they are ready to start editing and often do not know that they can actually edit Wikipedia
  • WikiCode is perceived as very complicated and many people are not willing to invest time and effort in learning WikiCode
  • The videos are perceived as very informative but at times quite amateurish

Survey: Wikipedia Onboarding Videos 2017

Survey: Welcome-culture for new editors at Wikipedia (January 2016)[edit]

In order to get a first impression of how welcoming Wikipedia is to new editors, we commissioned a survey in January 2016. In this survey, we asked community members of different ages who were contributing to Wikipedia. A total of 686 participants answered our questions on the state of a 'welcoming culture'. For instance, we asked how new editors are welcomed, what the difficulties to start editing were in their opinion, or who is willing to engage in novel ways of welcoming new editors.

One of the main findings was that the current culture of Wikipedia does not welcome new editors. Many respondents reported that newbies are often treated rudely. They reported that there was a lack of good opportunities to learn the rules of Wikipedia and how to communicate with others.

Survey: Wikimedia Deutschland Editor Survey 2016

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Available Materials for Adoption[edit]

We will add more materials in the future.

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