What we learned from surveying 4,000 members of the Wikipedia and Wikimedia communities

Each year, the Wikimedia Foundation surveys the volunteer communities who edit Wikimedia sites for their input on a variety of topics that, in turn, help Foundation staff make decisions about how to support these communities. In April 2018, over 4,000 Wikimedia community members, answered up to 50 questions about their experiences working on the Wikimedia projects. We heard from editors on Wikipedia and other websites, community organizers who coordinate programs or manage organizations, and volunteer software developers. The Community Engagement Insights 2018 report is now published, and here are a few highlights.

Diversity among contributors the Wikimedia projects remains the same as last year.

In examining demographic changes from last year, we found few differences in gender and age among contributors. Women continue to represent between 5.2 and 13.6% among the Wikimedia projects. The age of contributors seemed to increase slightly, but the average contributor continues to be in the 35–44 age range. Contributors with less activity are younger and range closer to the 25–34 year age range. We found a significant reduction in regional distribution of Wikimedia editors, which could have been a result of changes made to the sampling and needs to be investigated further.

Self-awareness about how one’s behaviors or actions affects others stands out as needing improvement among communities.

We measured various aspects of community health and diversity and inclusion among Wikimedia communities. Contributors were asked whether their peers are aware of how their behavior or actions affect others. Out of a scale of 5, the mean score was about 3.05. Other measures for community health were quite a bit higher (from 3.5 to 4.1). This suggests that this could be an area to focus on to improve the health of the community.

Editors and community organizers value diversity differently.

There is room for improvement in communities valuing diversity of content and people. Respondents were able to select up to 4 statements about whether their community valued diversity in different ways. The average among contributors selected just 1.5 out of 4. The average community organizers selected about 2.5. This shows that organizers perceive that their communities place more value in diversity.

Harassment is still an ongoing issue on the Wikimedia projects.

Harassment doesn’t seem to have gotten worse, based on a few questions we asked. For example, in one question we ask contributors how often they are bullied or harassed in various Wikimedia projects. Although 71% of 280 reported having been bullied or harassed on Wikipedia, we did not find statistically significant changes from 2017 data. There were small changes to smaller Wikimedia projects.

Survey results lead to better understanding of Wikimedia communities that improves our work.

This survey is the work of 11 teams across the Foundation who wanted to learn how their work affected the communities that we serve, and the data will now help more teams at the Foundation make future decisions about their work:

  • The Community Resources team learned that the most important thing that participants gain from Wikimania is discovering new ideas or projects. For Wikimedia Conference, participants gain time to resolve issues or conflicts. For regional or local events, participants reported gaining new skills.
  • The Legal Department plans to increase awareness of the Transparency Report, because the survey showed that contributors are often not informed about the report.
  • For the Community Programs team, which supports Structured Data on Commons, the survey revealed that Wikimedia Commons users would like more support for multilingual descriptions of media files and would like to be able to easily discover new or unexpected media files.
  • Our Learning & Evaluation team will be using key results in annual planning discussions that will form their work to build capacities among communities.
  • And the Trust and Safety team will be working to increase attention of the email address so that users know where to go when they see threats of violence.

Other Wikimedia Foundation teams are continuing to learn from their report and deciding what to do next with the data and each team will have a list of actionable next steps in their report.

Read the reports and leave your comments!  You ideas and feedback are welcome.  We will be hosting a livestream presentation on Thursday, 20 September 2018, at 9:00 am Pacific / 16:00 UTC.

Edward Galvez, Evaluation Strategist (Surveys), Learning and Evaluation
Wikimedia Foundation

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