Wikipedia:Recruiting Editors Brainstorming

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

How can we attract more wikipedia editors?

Here is the place for brainstorming about attracting more good editors of this project - people that write well or are knowledgeable about subjects that need work.

Some pages or aborted projects try to address the issue, but there is currently no active drive:

Discussion as to the worth of the ideas, and discussion as to whether or not we need to actively recruit editors, belong on the talk page.

Don't delete stupid ideas! Just add better ones!

Who we need[edit]

People who have knowledge we need:

People who have good editing skills:

  • Academics
  • Journalists
  • Writers

People who have the time and motivation to edit wikipedia:

  • Students
  • Retirees

... and of course, any combination of the above.

How to reach them[edit]

And, how can we reach those people?

Through other websites[edit]


For instance forums about a subject that we need editors for.


We could ask for some websites to have a little blurb, something like:

The collaboration of the week on Wikipedia is Japanese Robotics! Help welcome!

It would, well, work kinda like an ad banner. OK, technically, it would be an ad banner, but for free. Some specialized site could have info for the appropriate collaboration of the week. Or they could randomly include a stub from a defined stub category (This wikipedia article needs your help!)

This could also work for mailing-lists, heck, devoted wikipedians could even have that in their signatures on bulletin boards :)


On My Yahoo!, I have a section telling me Wikipedia's newest articles; we could try to expand the use of this.

By email[edit]

Academic mailing-lists[edit]

Surely Postgraduate students would be far more willing to give up free time to edit and create articles than senior academics, and would be knowledgable on the subjects.

Send messages to academic list-servs about relevant Collaborations of the Week/Fortnight/Month as they come up. Also, suggest that teachers and professors encourage students who have written related historiography or review papers (as opposed to original research) to add some of what they've written to an article or release their writing and post it on related talk subpages (Talk:Articlename/term paper).

E-mail Newsletter[edit]

Though this can't really be considered "recruiting," it would work to raise awareness. On the news-letter, we can include a few of the articles that need to be worked on. And of course, anyone could forward it to a friend.

Chain Letter/E-mail[edit]

Sounds hackneyed, but it might work.

On Wikipedia itself[edit]

Editing cues already exist, of course, most noticeable are the stubs.

Through schools[edit]

Through Teachers and professors[edit]

Find your old teachers and tell them about Wikipedia! See them in person, telephone them or email them. You can do the same for university professors and principals (headmasters).

Teachers can:

  • Refer to WP in their classes
  • Use WP articles as an introduction to topics mentioned or covered in their classes, in the process improving WP

Student projects[edit]

Teachers often ask students to do a research project and write a paper. As papers, they could write WP articles. They could write separately or in teams, and write new articles or improve existing ones. Teachers can evaluate the contributions of each student, including their citation of sources. WP would get new articles, improved articles, and publicity. Students would learn how to do research, collaborate, write encyclopedically, and use wikis.

This could for PhD candidates (I'm sure Category:Quantum mechanics could be improved) as well as for kids in primary school (Fixing things in Category:Animal stubs, Category:Dinosaur stubs ?)

Writing classes[edit]

Schools may try to organize writing classes around WP. Often terrific well-researched papers go to waste as students have no apparent outlet or use for them after a grade is given.

School clubs[edit]

Contact Schools and encourage the formation of wikipedia "clubs." Schools, especially inner city schools, are looking for ideas and ways to give students positive after-school activities. It may help this to allow and encourage schools to organize clubs where the entire focus is editing wikipedia pages.

Public libraries and campuses[edit]

We could have ready-made small posters (or flyers) to put on public annnouncment boards, especially in public libraries. "Are you a bookworm? Wikipedia is looking for skilled editors to pursuit a free encyclopedia for all!". Same for campuses.

Directly contact groups[edit]


Contract major media reporters, they are very alert and good at writing, reporting.


There are more and more computer-using retirees every day. They can have expertise, research skills, generally better writing skills than current students, and time. They can feel like they are contributing.

It would be worth the time and effort to specifically look for retired scholars, professors, journalists, engineers, etc.—maybe there are associations we could reach out to, we could try to get a line into magazines, etc.


Contact the National Writers Union, of the United Auto Workers Union; there are lots of struggling writers with time on their hands.

In fact, we could contact any union and try to have a request for help passed in their journal. It could be a good way to reach people with technical specialized knowledge.

Related work[edit]

What can we do to prepare for reaching out to people?

Collect stories[edit]

We could ask new editors why they decided to work on wikipedia, how they heard of it, whether they were readers a long time before, whether they edited unregistered, etc. It could be an optional part of the welcome ritual (but maybe it'd scare people away too).

Make posters, fliers, etc.[edit]

We could have a "recruit editors" poster / flyer contest, for campuses, libraries, etc.


Why would anybody want to edit a page on Wikipedia. Providing incentives is key:

Pay people to come and edit![edit]

Just contact some well-known academics, and offer them money if they come and contribute. I'm sure we can find some donors.

Page counter[edit]

People like to know if anyone has read what they have written. Adding a page counter would provide a useful indicator.

  • Or if it is too ugly on the main page, put it on the talk page.
  • I agree with the talk page suggestion, maybe just like a star if the page has over x number of hits or somethingSpencerk 04:28, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
    • Or different coloured stars/shapes depending on the level of interest in the page.
  • Or why not distinguish editors according to how many times their contributions have been read? This is at least as useful a measure as measuring the total number of edits.
    • This would add some performance measure which might be a measure driving those motivated by competition or numbers.

Documentary book writers[edit]

Example: WP buys their books if they contribute significantly to certain pages. These books can then be offered as prizes in WP writing competitions or as Bounties.

Create a virtual equity market[edit]

Allow readers to invest virtual money in pages they appreciate. The editors would then receive some percentage of that investment. People might become interested in a page's valuations, as signified by trading activity.

Preserve a scholar-friendly environment[edit]

I am familiar with university environments where the focus on recruitment tends to overshadow a due attention to retention. One of the biggest factors impacting on keeping editors with desirable sorts of intellectual virtues and good work habits in WP is this: It is crucial to distinguish the "non-elitist context" (NEC) from the "anti-intellectual environment" (AIE). There is a persistently unstable equilibrium in WP that threatens to tip over at any moment from NEC to AIE, and personally speaking it's the thing that makes me feel like giving up the Zeitgeist 20 or 30 times a day.

Social structure[edit]

It looks to me that some kind of protection to promising new editors or existing high-quality editors would be useful. I get the impression that some people hang around only briefly, especially when running into conflicts. Retention of useful people would be swerved by an active group that keeps an eye on things.

Ways to reframe the problem[edit]

Are there other ways to reach our goal (more and better edits to wikipedia) apart from attracting new editors?

Get the current editors to edit more[edit]

By asking them to leave their jobs / drop their studies / break up with their spouses.

Reduce the number of editors that leave Wikipedia[edit]

It's nice to bring new people in, but how about experienced editors who leave the project because of a bad experience? Looking into ways to prevent them from leaving, or at least trying to understand why they leave, could be useful too.

Also, disgruntled wikipedia editors in academia = bad publicity for potential future contributors.

Encourage interdisciplinary & 'meshing' projects[edit]

By getting schools, translation offices, voluntary organizations, etc. involved in mutally beneficial projects.

Require editors to log in[edit]

Anonymity supports a certain level of vandalism. Signing one's work supports a certain level of accoutability. The less time spent on cleaning up vandalism, the more time can be spent on enhancements.

More automation[edit]

  • Write an AJAX WYSIWYG-like user interface to allow direct editing, without clicking on an "Edit" link. It would be more inviting to anyone to edit. This is also likely to reduce the server load. Currently a page is loaded once to be viewed, then a section of wiki text is loaded to edit, then again to be previewed before posting, etc. The new interface can show the edited page without sending it to the servers, and only send the changes (not whole sections) once the user clicks on "Save". The AJAX program would automatically load into the web browser together with a wikipedia page, and not require separate installation. It could be cached by the browser, so that it is not loaded every time.
  • Write stubs automatically using Google's "define" query. Copyright would not be a problem, as these definitions are always short, usually less than 40 words.
  • Write a program that would use clustering analysis to guess the right words to link in articles and link the first use of the words. There would be more correct links than currently, therefore less work for editors.
  • Require everyone to log in to edit, and make it easier to log in. In place of a "Log in" link, the WP pages should include two small boxes containing the test "name" and "password" respectively and small button, "Log in".

Improve the credibility of administrators[edit]

  • Set fixed terms for administrators. Require them to be reappointed at regular intervals using the same consensus criteria as initially used.
  • More consistently sanction administrators who arbitrarily and capriciously take actions to further their own biases, regardless of established policy or lack thereof.

Stop the stub-stamp project[edit]

One disheartening thing about Wikipedia is the enthusiasm of people attaching stub tags to any articles shorter than a certain prescribed length, regardless of content. It is like a stamp, marking pages "condemned", or "not good enough".