Submissions/WikiProjects: yesterday, today and tomorrow

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

This submission is on the wait list for Wikimania 2013.

Submission no.
Subject no.
C7 or T5
Title of the submission
WikiProjects: yesterday, today and tomorrow
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Jonathan T. Morgan
Country of origin
United States of America
University of Washington, Wikimedia Foundation
E-mail address
Personal homepage or blog

The WikiProject may be one of our community's greatest innovations. In 2013 many WikiProjects on the English language Wikipedia are thriving, but others are inactive or semi-active and many, many more fail to get off the ground in the first place. Assuming we want to keep WikiProjects around, how do we support them better? In this presentation I will share recent findings from a two-year long mixed-methods study of over 100 projects and suggest some strategies for reviving dormant WikiProjects and keeping active ones humming along.

Detailed proposal

WikiProjects have garnered a lot of positive press over the years. The Signpost runs a regular featured project spotlight; a passel of academics have studied what makes projects tick and what they do for Wikipedia; more recently, even our esteemed Deputy Director has gotten into the action. However, despite the valuable role WikiProjects play in engaging new editors, scaling consensus, encouraging contribution by subject matter experts and encouraging collaboration , there's still a lot we don't know about WikiProjects. For example:

  • ...why do some projects fail and others succeed?
  • …how do WikiProjects and the work they do change over time?
  • …how are WikiProjects organized in other languages, or on other Wikimedia projects?
Well drying up? Total number of new (< 100 edits) and experienced editors joining English Wikipedia WikiProjects between 2004 and mid-2011.

There's compelling evidence to suggest that there's more than one way to run a WikiProject, and that WikiProjects don't necessarily need to be huge and well-organized (yes, I'm looking at you right now, Military History!) to engage editors and perform valuable work. However, many projects struggle with low levels of participation, a lack of leadership. And even active projects know the pain and anguish of seeing their editing and recruitment drives fall flat even as their work backlogs continue to mount.

There are a bevy of promising new tools and features in the Wikimedia Foundation development pipeline that will support WikiProjects in the future, but is there anything we can do right now? What can we learn from today's triumphs and yesterday's trials to help build a brighter tomorrow? In this presentation I will share some insights from two years of my own research on WikiProjects and my experience launching and participating in one active WikiProject, the Teahouse. I will propose some actionable strategies and share a few simple tools that may help other Wikipedians keep the projects they love happy and healthy for years to come. And I will invite you to work with me to keep this conversation going: WikiProjects have a excellent track record of developing new solutions to old problems. Let's see if we can come up with some solutions to the problems that WikiProjects face.

WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Language of presentation/talk
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  1. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 23:31, 22 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Yes, yes, yes! Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:22, 23 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Sbouterse (talk) 22:47, 25 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Phoebe (talk) 22:42, 30 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Sharihareswara (WMF) (talk) 02:09, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. SarahStierch (talk) 16:06, 3 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Multichill (talk) 15:01, 4 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  8. sats (talk) 15:44, 8 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Mitchan14 (talk)
  10. Waldir (talk) 04:07, 19 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]