Improving articles, adding missing references, uploading media, or creating articles on underrepresented communities are among the dozens of goals of volunteer-led Wikimedia campaigns. These campaigns take place around the world to strengthen Wikipedia and its sister projects. Many campaigns are growing, in terms of output and impact. In 2017, there were 193 iterations of the Art+Feminism campaign globally. This grew to 289 events in 2018 and 296 events in 2019. Sub-events for other prominent campaigns like Wiki Loves campaigns, WikiGap, and #1Lib1Ref, have also grown significantly each year.
Yet as Wikimedia campaigns continue to grow, so have the challenges faced by campaign organizers in handling both international campaigns and local events effectively. In order to achieve the Movement Strategy direction that “anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us,” we need reliable organizing tools within the Movement.
The status quo for organizing events today is not enough. Currently, event pages for campaigns are displayed similarly to ordinary wiki pages, either on Meta-Wiki or on a local language WikiProject. Since there are minimal tools that currently exist for event management, many organizers look for ways to improve the event experience by adopting off-wiki and third-party solutions. This may simplify certain workflows for organizers, but they have a negative impact on the Movement. They separate contributors and events from on-wiki communities and the crucial workflows of creating Wikimedia content.
The Campaigns Product Team was formed to 1) analyze and identify gaps in campaign organizing and 2) to provide technical solutions to improve the organizing experience for all. This way, organizers can lead more impactful campaigns, and campaign participants can have a more rewarding event experience.
As a first step, the team interviewed over 50 organizers across the movement before beginning any projects. The goal was to listen to Wikimedia organizers first: What was working for them? What wasn’t working for them? What did they want to see changed? The team then synthesized these findings with existing research of how the organizing ecosystem currently works (for example, see Movement Organizers Study).
After analyzing their findings, the team decided to build an Event Center. This will be a platform that will have an organizer and participant side. The organizer side will provide organizers with tools and resources to create and manage impactful campaign events. Meanwhile, the participant side will provide the guidance and support that participants need to meaningfully engage with Wikimedia campaigns.
The first tool in the Event Center will be an Event Registration tool. This tool is a solid first building block for the platform overall. By focusing on event registration first, the team will be in a strong position to launch subsequent projects, such as improving the organizer experience of creating event pages or communicating with participants. This mapping (see photo above) demonstrates some potential paths the team can take in developing the Event Center.
Event Registration: Why we want to improve it
Event registration is the first part of most events: organizers learn who will participate, along with key information on participants like where they are based, what languages they will contribute in, and their organizational affiliations. Registration has two important functions. First, as the event starts, organizers can communicate with and support the participants. Second, as a movement, registration data can help us evaluate the impact of events.
It is a common practice for organizers to create a wiki page to help participants learn about and register for an event. However, Mediawiki pages can be complicated to edit for newcomers, and they can be hard to make highly functional and inviting for participants. For these reasons, organizers often design their own registration solutions with external tools, like Google Forms or Eventbrite. Yet these tools have critical technical and social issues, such as being time-consuming and tedious for organizers to configure and manage. Also, they may have privacy issues, and they do not foster a sense of community and inclusion among first-time editors, who need to become comfortable with interacting with and contributing to Wikimedia wikis.
Additionally, movement stakeholders, such as affiliates and the WMF grants program, want better data on participants and their needs. Developing a registration system is the first step in making this possible. With the Event Registration tool, campaign organizers will save time, will be able to collect better data on campaign participants and their needs, and will be able to respect participant privacy.
Event Registration Tool: V0 release
In July 2022, the Campaigns team released its first version of the event registration tool (V0) on Beta-Wiki. With this feature, event organizers can enable registration on their event pages, and participants can easily register for the event by clicking the “Register” button.
The event registration tool is a part of the CampaignEvents extension. If a wiki enables the CampaignEvents extension, they can access the event registration tool, along with other features the team will build in the future. Additionally, the CampaignEvents extension has a new namespaces pair (Event and Event talk) for event pages.
The goal of V0 was to make a simplified, early version of the tool that would be useful for testing with Wikimedia organizer communities. This way, we could learn what was working, what needed to be improved, and how we could best address the needs of organizers.
Following the release of the V0 on beta cluster, the Campaigns team collected feedback for the V0 in various formats, including a feedback form, two multilingual office hour sessions, and holding a session during Wikimania. The team also collected input via the project talk page, communication in off-wiki chat groups, and email correspondence. In total, the team received written feedback from over 30 Wikimedians in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili through these communication channels.
When asked if they would use the tool, over 80% of the respondents to the question said yes. When we asked Wikimedia organizers if access to the tool would make them more likely to organize events in the future, 90% of the respondents said yes. Some common forms of positive feedback included: the tool was intuitive and easy to use, it would save time for organizers, and it would improve organizers’ abilities to collect information on participants.
The team also heard from Wikimedians on areas of improvement. These suggestions included integration between event registration and the Programs & Events Dashboard, support for multiple organizers per event, geocoding support, and automatic confirmation emails after participants have registered for an event. Read more on V0 testing feedback.
As next steps, the team now plans to release a new version of the tool: Event Registration Tool V1. The goal is to improve the V0 experience by adding new features and improvements, with a focus on the improvements suggested by our V0 testers. This way, organizers can have a tool that is usable in their campaign events.
This version may not yet have “everything” envisioned for event registration, but it will be a major step up. In V1, organizers will be able to specify an event timezone and integrate registration with the Programs and Events Dashboard. Additionally, participants will have the option to register privately (so only organizers can see their usernames) and automatic confirmation emails will be sent to participants after registration.
V1 of the event registration tool will be generally available on Meta-Wiki soon (please see our release schedule for latest details). After the V1 release, the team plans to release additional features and improvements to event registration, along with launching new projects to address campaign organizer needs.
In the next post, we will announce the official release of Event Registration Tool V1 on Meta-wiki, and we will invite everyone to join our office hours to learn more about the tool, how they can share feedback, and how they can use the tool in their own events.
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