Dear All,

The following is a post I've put up on the India Program page on meta regarding 
outreach (Please 
see:http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:India_Program/Outreach_Programs). 
Please do comment on the page itself; I'm posting it on this mailing list only 
to make sure it doesn't slip your attention.

We have conducted over 13 outreach sessions in the past one month and have many 
more events scheduled to participate in over the coming weeks. (Please see: 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Program/Outreach_Programs/Outreach_Sessions).
  It's amazing that we're doing so many outreach events all over the country to 
create awareness about Wikipedia, motivate attendees to learn about editing and 
training newbies to contribute to Wikipedia in their own special way.

The single biggest challenge is that we don't know the actual outcome of these 
efforts in most cases, and the results are weak when we have the data. I think 
most of us agree that outreach can be made to work better. (For example, 2 
outreach sessions conducted recently by the Assamese community had about 80 
participants, and 8 active editors emerged - which is a hit rate of 10% - which 
is FANTASTIC!) For most other sessions, the results have been closer to 1-2% or 
even lower - which is depressing. What makes outreach work? How can outreach 
work better? Is there anything you need from me?

Over the past 3 months, I have been working on building a handbook for Outreach 
(Please see: 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/India_Program/Outreach_Programs/Handbook) where 
you can get presentation material and tips. Please do go through it and help me 
build it.

My post consists of 5 (deliberately) provocative statements on the day of and 
the days after an outreach session. These are framed with the objective of 
generating debate and suggestions.

THE DAY OF

Hypthesis 1: Don't Shoot the Puppy: Outreach is not being done effectively and 
we aren't adequately introspecting on what we can do better; instead choosing 
to lose faith in attendees

Should we discontinue general introduction sessions completely and just convert 
everything into Wiki workshops? Every second of volunteer time is precious and 
we need to make sure that every second is made to count. The good sessions 
appear to be those where people are actually shown how to edit - rather than 
just doing a song-and-dance about Wikipedia.
The best sessions are those where people have actual hands-on editing 
opportunity. Shall we limit the intro session on Wikipedia to just 15 minutes 
and then spend 45 minute on basic editing, 30 minutes on  hand-on editing and 
leave 30 minutes for Q&A?
Not everyone is a natural presenter and might need help on basic outreach 
skills. Is there value and interest in a capacity building roadshow where we 
help existing editors who want to improve their outreach and presentation 
skills? Is it useful to pair up a good presenter with a not-so-confident 
presenter when we are doing outreach?
THE DAY AFTER

Hypothesis #2: Staying in Touch: We assume the job is complete after the 
outreach session when in fact the journey has only just begun

Can we gather (basic) information about attendees (e.g., names, usernames & 
email IDs?) so that we can stay in touch with them after sessions?
Can we get feedback on sessions (duration, level of detail, quality of 
presenters, etc.?) so that we can all improve? Do we need some sort of CRM 
solution for this or will something like Google Docs suffice?
How do we get more folks to actually provide their contact details and 
feedback? Which of the following will get higher response rates: asking for 
these just before the end, immediately after the end or the day after a session?
Hypothesis #3: Nudge-Nudge: Newbies struggle with the most basic things - 
including which article to select

Should we send links to useful wiki pages and tutorial videos where they can 
read up more about how Wikipedia works and how to edit Wikipedia? Can we leave 
handouts on basic editing after all sessions?  Can we send them links to the 
actual presentations made at the session.
Can we suggest / elicit potential articles that individual newbies will work on 
after the workshop? Can we give them individual pointers on what they can do 
with each article by reviewing them there-and-then during the session?
Can we schedule a follow-up session (even if virtually using google+ hangout) 
to clarify any doubts about Wikipedia editing or otherwise - maybe 2 weeks 
after a session?
Hypothesis #4: Loneliness - Newbies feel alone and the only time they sense the 
community is when their edits get reverted

Should we not encourage them to join project pages (such as the WP:INDIA) 
and/or the India mailing list and/or their city/language mailing list to get 
involved with the community?
Can we involve them in COTM or conduct specific editathons for them?
Can we celebrate their successes and get newbies to talk to other newbies about 
how they learnt stuff?
Hyptothesis #5: Black Hole: No one has a clue about the actual results of 
outreach

Can we regularly monitor number & % of active editors after 1 and 3 months of 
conducting all events? Can we figure out % of mainspace edits from these 
newbies after 1 and 3 months? Can this be analysed to provide recommendations 
on how we can do things better?
Can we actively reach out to those who look like they are struggling? Do we 
need a CRM tool for something like this?
Is it useful to track and attempt to co-relate age / profession / subject (if 
student) / sex of participants to figure out what is likely to give greatest 
results?
I have been working to see how can we overcome these challenges and make our 
outreach efforts far more effective. I'd love to hear from on the above. Some 
of you have been actively involved in outreach sessions  (attending or 
conducting or planning) an I'd like to know your thoughts and suggestions which 
might serve as solutions for this set of very real challenges.

Thanks

Nitika


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