Wikipedia has scored number one for the fourth straight year in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for “Internet Social Media” websites. Wikipedia maintained its score of 78 out of 100 for the third year in a row; the average score in the category dropped 1.4 percent from last year down to 68. Wikipedia has ranked number one all four years that the ACSI has been tracking the “Internet Social Media” category.
What makes Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects unique in this category is how emails are tracked and responded compared to other websites in the rankings. While most people know by now that Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects are created and maintained by volunteers, what many still do not know is that the same is true for email response. All emails sent to Wikipedia are processed by volunteers.
The Volunteer response team, known as “OTRS” after the open-source software we use to receive and process emails, began as a small project in 2004 to handle press inquiries by volunteers.
Since its inception, the focus of OTRS has grown to all manner of general questions in over thirty language-oriented queues, ranging from general questions about Wikipedia content and licensing, to reporting errors or problems seen in content, to releasing images under a free license for all to reuse from Wikimedia Commons. We receive well over a thousand emails a week across those thirty languages, and almost all of these emails are sorted and read by a few hundred active volunteers. In addition, OTRS also receives emails for Wikimedia’s other free knowledge projects created and curated by volunteers and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Volunteering for OTRS is hosted on Meta-wiki and is restricted to a small subset of Wikimedians who are active and expected to be familiar with policies and guidelines, as well as general community knowledge related to their home-wiki. They should demonstrate the ability to explain how something works around a project to a complete stranger in a simple and even-tempered way, and some are entrusted with access to private data.
With such a small group of volunteers handling so many inquiries, we are very proud to once again be ranked as providing the best customer support in our category. Working “behind the scenes” is a pretty thankless task for Wikimedians, but we labor to provide the public with the most informative and courteous service possible.
Keegan Peterzell, Volunteer Response Team