It has been a little over 48 hours since the first of 4 Wikipedia Edit-a-thons ended for my collaborator and me. We are beginning to review what happened and learn from the experience. What are the basics?
- We had a total of 8 people work all day at the event.
- There were at least 80 edits made through the day to entries that were not bureaucratic, user pages, or event pages.
- Of those 80 edits, about 34 were to unique entries with one person spending the day getting a new entry developed, but not yet published.
- Two people came in, but did not stay to edit. I spoke with both. Both were local with minimal experience editing. One came to learn more and help us promote the future sessions (which he hopes to attend) and the other thought it was going to be more conversational. The later did not want to create an account and was anxious at the idea of people changing what he added. It is a valid frustration and one that some people struggle to let go of.
- We had way too much food. I have a dozen uneaten donuts at my house. Anyone want one?
- No new editors joined us, but someone did participate remotely.
I know in my last post I thought I may be able to say if the edit-a-thon was a success or a failure. In many ways I can say it was a success. My biggest concern was that nobody would attend. I really was afraid it would be my collaborator and myself (and her husband). That other people attended (even if not all stayed) was a pretty big deal. Our goal is not to just get people to attend, but to get the community to attend, create accounts, edit beyond the session, and come back to another session. In this way, I don’t think we can evaluate success until the end of the series. I don’t even know if I can say this session was successful until we run the second session in January. Will our experienced editors return? Will our promotion gain more traction and have community members come?
All of these questions can’t be answered until January.
What I can tell you is that I feel successful. Not only did people attend, but I gained more experience with outreach, community building, editing Wikipedia, and programming. How so?
Promotion can often be like reaching out for solid footing in the dark. You hope you are going to find the right step, but you don’t take a lot of risk. We did all the things we already knew to do with the community: press releases. I also worked a little with our campus PR office and hoped they could extend our reach. One connection I took advantage of was to someone who is a local celebrity and social networker. I asked him to blog about the event (which he did) and to speak about the event at a local social networking conference the day before the edit-a-thon. Both my collaborator and I went to the social networking conference (I live tweeted it on @sara_marks if you want to see my thoughts). We met people, gained some Twitter followers, promoted the event, and talked it up in conversation. While it didn’t stick enough for the next day, it may impact the future session. The hope is to turn this into a community of editors so the more we talk about it to the same groups of people, the more stickiness the message will get.
My editing at the event started with my typical efforts to connect people to library resources on topics. I primarily focus on adding a library tool box to entries, but then I discovered Milton Bradley (of the board game fame) grew up in Lowell. I adopted the entry and focused quite a bit of my day cleaning it up. I reorganized, added citations, searched for patents, and became a wee bit obsessed with the entry. I anticipated being free to help train new editors, but since there were only experienced editors in attendance, I felt free to lose myself to an entry.
In the end I think the first edit-a-thon was a personal success, but not yet a full success. The next session is on January 25th so until then we are going to take some of the things we learned (it’s a long list that I won’t share yet) and apply them to making the January session more successful.