Wikimania workshop: Wikipedia and beyond – Incentivizing engagement

Haifa wikimania 3I will be facilitating a 30-minutes workshop at Wikimania in August where I will present and discuss ways of engaging people to contribute to free projects. Before I start preparing slides or arguments, I’d like to find out what the workshop’s participants would like to hear and share.

Can contests, prizes and money engage people in contributing to the Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects? We all are always looking for new and better ways to motivate people to contribute to WP/WM projects. Wikimedia Germany has tried different methods and I’d like to share and discuss some of our diverse experiences. My goal for these 30 minutes is that we all leave with inspiration for increasing engagement.

The workshop starts with my very brief presentation (5 minutes) about our ongoing projects at Wikimedia Germany (like Zedler-Medaille, WissensWert and Wiki loves Monuments) and then the discussion will be open to the audience.

I’d like to involve other chapters in the workshop and hear about their activities. Together, we can develop new ideas and optimize the incentives for making our free projects and contributing to the commons even more attractive.

30 minutes is a very short time for such a diverse topic, so I am happy to collect and structure some ideas beforehand. I am looking forward to your input and hope to see you in Haifa!

I have created an etherpad and invited anyone interested in this topic to participate in the preparation. Thanks for sharing!

If you’re at Wikimania, let me know if you’re planning to take part in the workshop and like to present and discuss these results. Feel free to get in touch via

My friend Michelle just published a blogpost dealing with the question Why do you participate?. Feel free to let you inspire by her thoughts. :)

  • Part of a bigger whole. To play a role in shaping a larger effort you believe in.
  • To help others. And to follow your contribution to see how it helped someone succeed.
  • Feel needed. Handcrafted requests seem to hit targets more often. People like to know why *they* in particular are needed, what is it that they are bringing that is unique and essential — rather than feeling like an invitation is a mass-ask.
  • Achieve a shared goal. If you want to see something happen, then you’re primed to pitch in to make it possible. I think there’s lots of value in this also framed as “solve a common problem.”
  • Friends or people you admire are involved. Who doesn’t love hanging out with good people?
  • Curiosity. Some folks said they dig any opportunity to learn something new, or to level up their skills in a topic of interest.
  • Nice graphics. One guy flat out admitted that he’s more likely to chip in when the project has a good design and visual identity. Looks can matter — and show how much the project cares about presentation.
  • Fun. ‘Nuff said.

Not so effective? Some common motivations we *didn’t* mention at all:

  • Rewards. Interestingly, many calls for participation offer a reward of some sort (Win an iPad! Have dinner with a star! Earn miles!), but interestingly, no one in the room mentioned that as an incentive that gets them going. Certainly there are successful instances of enticement through money & prizes, but that didn’t seem to be a killer factor.
  • Competition & games. Despite much hype about the power of games to get people to do all sorts of stuff, none of us said, “Oh yeah, if I got a 4SQ badge for that, I’d do it.” Not saying those point / badge systems can’t work, but just that its absence from the discussion was interesting.

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