Coaching new Wikipedia editors by email

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Workflow of the Taghreedat-Wikipedia editor project

Within the scope of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Growth and Contribution Program, the Taghreedat[1]-Wikipedia Editors project was piloted on the Arabic Wikipedia over four months between 1st June and 30th September 2012. The key idea was to attract new editors from among the followers of Taghreedat’s Twitter account, provide them with the proper training via online means (e.g. mails, tweets) and guide them through the basic steps of editing Wikipedia by requesting them to perform simple tasks on Wikipedia.
This pilot project concluded in a full study report showing the following key learnings:

  • Social media channels, such as Twitter, could be very powerful in attracting new enthusiastic editors to Wikipedia.
  • Sending emails to new editors with specific tasks, along with tutorials from the contribution portal, prompted a high rate of them to edit Wikipedia pages.
  • Coaching new editors on various Wikipedia editing techniques using a step-by-step approach resulted in converting a considerable portion of them into repeated editors.
  • On the average, editors who signed up under this program edit more often than other new users. This might be an early indicator that a project like this could make a meaningful contribution to the community of active Wikipedians.

Total number of edits made by Taghreedat volunteers on Arabic Wikipedia, along with the daily average of edits in each stage of the program.

The figure on the right plots the total number of edits made by 745 users who registered in this program (around 695 of them did not have a Wikipedia account before), showing an increase from 629 edits made before the program started, to 3410 edits by the time the report was prepared. The major milestones which contributed to the increase in the number of edits can be noticed when users started registration, and when users responded to the tasks of creating their userpages, wikifying articles, and categorizing them. The figure also shows the average number of daily edits, remarkably increasing from 7.8 edits/day during the registration stage to 36.3 edits/day at later stages of the program. This demonstrates the effect of more users joining the program since it has started, and that they are doing more edits as they become more familiar with Wikipedia editing.
About 43% of these registered accounts didn’t make any edits during the pilot program. On the other hand, about 20% of the participants made more than 4 edits. Considering that each task requires about one edit, it appears that a considerable portion of the users made further contributions, beyond just performing the tasks given to them.

Comparison between emailed users and average users by their number of edits

In order to understand the significance of these results, we compared the participants in this program with the aggregate of all users on Arabic Wikipedia categorized by their number of edits. The figure on the right shows that while only 1.7% of all users made more than 10 edits, 6.3% of the participants in this program did. In contrast, while 89.8% of all registered accounts on Arabic Wikipedia have never made any contribution, only 42.6% of the participants in this program remained inactive after registering.
As the number of registered users in this program increases, it might become difficult to coach, communicate, and collect data using the manual methods which we are utilizing in the current pilot. We are aiming at building an automatic system that offers a step-by-step training for interested users, while monitoring their performance, and collecting feedback from them.

  1. Taghreedat, a non-profit Arabic digital content community building initiative, has launched the Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program which targets regular Internet users and train them (both online & offline) to become editors on Arabic Wikipedia. Taghreedat’s Twitter account has currently more than 100K followers.

Haitham Shammaa, Contribution Research Manager

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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i like it

[…]  Coaching new Wikipedia editors by email – Haitham Shammaa, Contribution Research Manager; блог Задужбине Викимедије […]

Sounds like a good idea to me. I’ve wanted to edit, and would appreciate some guidance and encouragement.