Wikipedia:Building Wikipedia membership

As far as our server can handle it, we like to increase traffic to Wikipedia: it helps improve the quality and quantity of the content and increases the total amount of joy and other utility it has for people. This page lists ways of doing this.

Let's talk about how to increase traffic to Wikipedia, of both readers and writers--that is now going to become one of the main focuses of my Wikipedia work. So I want your help! How can we increase "membership" in Wikipedia--both readers and new writers?

Let's brainstorm. Please, add an idea below, or help develop ideas. (Sometimes, a really great new idea is a slight variation on a just-OK old idea.)

Also, if you do any work that you think someone else might inadvertently replicate, can you please write it down here somehow (as on the Encyclopedia links solicited page)? Thanks! --Larry Sanger

Urban poster campaignEdit

See meta:Wikimedia urban postering campaign!


  • How about we do something like Spread Firefox? We could start our own publicity campaign, and if we ever get something like the NYT ad or the Firefox coins (see article) then I get the feeling wikipedia use would go WAY up! :D 08:35, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

  • Approach websites that might want free content, and help them to get their hands on Wikipedia's; this is something Bomis programmers and volunteers could work on. Maybe after we're running Magnus' PHP code?
  • Post announcements on mailing lists. But of what sort? Obviously, we want to avoid spam.
    • Start and continue discussions about Wikipedia articles (for this, the help of Wikipedians will be necessary)
    • Simply announce the existence of Wikipedia, soliciting help. I think this is actually plausible.
    • Recruit fans for specific areas of Wikipedia. For example, someone could drop by a Star Trek newsgroup and mention that our pages need work. I bet we'd have a huge Star Trek section in no time...
  • Post announcements on newsgroups. But try to be careful to go slowly through them--make sure the post is specially-tailored to whatever group you post to. A good strategy is to pick a Wikipedia article, point out a few problems with it, and post a link to the article, inviting people to make changes. If you have posted an announcement to a newsgroup, will you please list it here: Newsgroups. If you don't know much about newsgroups, go to
  • Contact webmasters who have content-rich sites. Get them excited about Wikipedia, and invite them to make their content part of something great.
  • Increase production of pages that are of interest to the search engines. Look at the Lycos 50 and the Google Zeitgeist and make sure that there are articles on all those topics. I would say that writing some simple short biographies of famous people would help. It will help when we have reliable and regularly updated stats on what is popular. One interesting thing about this is that other people may follow suit so that there is a "trend" on the site.
  • Increase the standing of Wikipedia with Bomis. (There is a bug in the system which means that Wikipedia articles are not returned as often as they could be. We're working on this.)
  • Write a scholarly article about "Empirical studies in social epistemology" and get it published.
  • Write to authors of good books on subjects we need help on and invite them to write an article on Wikipedia.
  • Schools. Speak to any teachers you know and have them set up an exercise where their students write on various topics that are untouched. Students get school credit for their work, obviously and also get excited about participating. I've told my mother (who teaches grade 4), and her students are planning to do articles about Australian mammals, some as-yet-untouched countries, etc.
  • Promote free content: Whenever you make a post on other content sites, include a statement that your content is GFDL, public domain, or whatever...
  • Get slashdotted once in a while. For example, submit article to Slashdot when we reach 150,000 articles, 200,000, etc... dave 15:48 18 Jul 2003 (UTC)
  • Would it be possible to make a subscription to an "Article of the Day" email. So someone subscribes and then every day they get a different entry in their mailbox. This is something that and do for "word of the day" definitions. It would probably need someone to take charge of it and select which entries go out (the random link too often goes to a stub or a disabmiguation page) I'll (user:MrWeeble) volunteer. It shouldn't be too hard to do - there's plenty of free (as in speech as well as in beer) software for this kind of thing
  • Just tell people about Wikipedia- like one-on-one
  • Suggest publications that came with CD or DVD to include converted static dump of Wikipedia (including viewer applications, if required) in their CD or DVD. Even better, suggest them to write an article about Wikipedia too.
  • Allow contributors to make highlights and notes on existing pages allowing them to keep track of their learning. This will help develop user retention strengthening the sight for other potential users.

(The above is just a start! Please add to the list!)

Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump on Tuesday, November 26th, 2002:

Wikipedia EvangelismEdit

Hi, I've mentioned this before and thought I'd mention it again. As I'm browsing the pedia I find articles that might interest friends/coworkers. I pop them a link in a quick hello message and ask them if they confirm the accuracy of the content...the response so far has been first one of wonder, then awe, then enthusiasm! And it's been a nice way to relate to some folks I'm not often in contact with. Anyway, I searched for evangelism and came up with nada around the 'pedia. Is there a place for sharing an evangelical/ 'help us' message of wikipedia? --dgd

There's some stuff at Wikipedia:Building Wikipedia membership. (Hint which wouldn't help here but may in general: after searching, go to the "Power search" box at the bottom of the screen and check the box for the 'Wikipedia' namespace. You'll get various about, help, documentation, etc. pages that aren't supposed to show up when you're searching for encyclopedia articles.) Also check the Meta-wikipedia where we keep general project discussion and misc stuff. --Brion 20:42 Oct 22, 2002 (UTC)

How about doing what a lot of news web pages do? They have a box at the bottom, "Send this article to a friend" with some kind of java mailer to ship it off and a box for you to add a signed message. Ortolan88

I like that idea too. Especially, and I know this would require more overhead, but a way to keep my list of folks in memory so I don't have to open my email client (which may not be available esp, as I'm a student and working on diff. machines).
How about mailto:root@localhost?Subject=Main%20Page&Body=Look%20at%20http%3A//] ? The text needs to be changed, but it takes no more work than the Edit this page link to add at the bottom. Use a form with input text or a JavaScript inputbox() to an e-mail, then add subject=<title>&body=Look%20at%20<url-to-title> to the mailto. Geoffrey 23:27 Mar 21, 2003 (UTC)
  • Add Wikipedia pages to ODP and Yahoo directories
  • Add Wikipedia to your Yahoo profile's favorite sites

Hemanshu 22:48, 24 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • Develop software like Google toolbar to reach Wikipedia articles and browse Wikipedia Hemanshu 23:31, 24 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Wikimedia should run a Wikipedia advertisement competition. As far as I can tell, WikiPedia has no advertisements. I am on a college campus and one group I am associated with advertises for lots of free software (Firefox and OpenOffice mostly) that is useful to college students. We would definitely put up some Wikipedia posters if there were a couple simple advertisements we could print out. This should be done similarly to how the logo contests were. If the contests are run, the purpose should be to get at least four advertisements: fliers for letter/A4 paper in both black & white and color and posters for tabloid/A3 paper in both black & white and color, so that it is easy for people to print them off and put them up on bulletin boards and the like. (If advertisements are available and I cannot find them, they should be made much more obvious.) --Jamethknorth 02:25, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)


requesting permission to re-use somebody else's content in Wikipedia:

  • Use Social Networks as a way to communicate.

Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump on Wednesday, June 9th, 2004:

Invitation LetterEdit

Last weekend, I went to a number of places where there were guided tours, and that got me would be nice if this person could contribute their knowledge of this place to Wikipedia...

I think there should be a standard letter to invite people to share their knowledge with Wikipedia, for when you come across someone who knows a lot about something.

Or does a simlar thing already exist? What do you think? RealGrouchy 00:03, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I think it's a great idea. There's some sample solicitation letters linked from Wikipedia:Building Wikipedia membership. — Matt 02:02, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Okay, so obviously I checked it out. Can someone draft a copy that can be printed out and handed to people (maybe like two to a page?). If nobody does, then I'll probably make one in time. RealGrouchy 17:39, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Don't lose new and existing members!Edit

There are a lot of great ideas for bringing in new members here. But don't forget that, once they're here, we want to keep them! America Online is a great case study of how focusing too much on new members and not enough on serving existing members can actually lose overall membership. Wikipedia must be a useful, easy, and pleasurable experience for new users. The droves of contributors ensure that "useful" is not a problem, at least as far as content goes. To make it "easy", more attention needs to be paid the initial interface learning curve for newbies. Both "pleasurable" and "useful" are significantly impacted by outrageously long response times and frequent server down time, so we must be careful not to bring in new people faster than we can fix these ongoing problems. Give a person a bad taste in their mouth from their first experience with Wikipedia, and we may not see them again. (That's why I never went back to Ask Jeeves!, Encyclopædia Britannica, and many other search and reference sites after finding more reliable ones.) -- Jeff Q 17:55, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I know what you mean. I still consider myself a 'new member', but I spend a lot of time just looking through the hordes of confusing help pages before I made my first edit (I have never used the sandbox). Luckily, I added an entry to my user page telling people that I am a new user, and asking for suggestions, and someone told me what they felt was the most important tips and links.
Now, I do things with more ease, because I can look at pages I've created (esp images) and see how others have edited my work, and I can adapt to that format in new pages. However, I'm a follow-the-instructions kind of guy; we should have procedural stuff to tell people what they need to know about different things, like editing a page, and adding an image, etc. Wikipedia:Picture tutorial is a good example. - RealGrouchy 23:14, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I think Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining all the pieces that one needs to do various things. The problem is perhaps more the sheer size and quantity of things one should learn to feel truly Wiki-knowledgeable. I'm always coming across useful pages by accident. I just ran into Wikipedia:Style and How-to Directory, some items of which I've read before, and some I've picked up by Wiki-osmosis, but I suspect this will give me another boost along the learning curve. I have two tips about the Sandbox I hadn't noticed mentioned anywhere:
  1. Most of the time, what you're testing is completely demonstrated in "Show preview", so you don't even need to worry about overwriting the main Sandbox — just keep your Edit window open until you're done, then Cancel or just close it.
  2. I ran across another Wikipedian (I forgot who) who had created their own Sandbox at User:<username>/Sandbox. It's easy to create such a page, and you never have to worry about what's in the main Sandbox or that someone might overwrite it, plus you can save stuff for extended testing.
I'll bet there are similar "best practices" tips scattered around, maybe even not so scattered. It's hard to know with some much to learn and find. But that's a Good Thing, mostly. -- Jeff Q 00:05, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)
There is a real need to make inforamtion about the project, especially help pages more ordered and useful. To give an example although I can find many pages which tell me that I can have a personal Sandbox there is no documentation on how to achieve this. There isn't even a forum where newbies can post a question and get an answer to their problem/request from someone more experienced, or if it exists it is not well publicised.--ChemRad 13:56, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:PublicityEdit

There are numerous ways you can help publicize Wikipedia, and thereby get more people to edit your work and make this into a real live encyclopedia. Just think--in a few years, Wikipedia is probably going to be amazing. (Feel free to add to this list.)

  • Ask people to read and help:
    • If you've done a lot of work in some particular area, post an announcement to a mailing list or newsgroup telling people about your work and asking them to help.
    • If there hasn't been a lot of work in a particular area, post an announcement telling people about Wikipedia and asking them to help!
    • Tell friends and colleagues. E-mail an announcement to them. Ask them to check your work, or to write pages on their areas of specialization, or their hobbies, or whatever.
  • Publicize wiki pages:
    • Submit particular wiki pages (e.g., your "baby" pages) to search engines.
    • Link to Wikipedia from your websites. Linking to articles helps people find them and improves their ranking on search engines.
    • Ask other people to link to Wikipedia.
  • Publicize Wikipedia as a whole:
    • Observe (in writing and smugly) on other wikis that Wikipedia is easily the fastest-growing wiki in the world.
    • Add a link to Wikipedia to your e-mail or message board signature.
    • Share your joy of using Wikipedia with your friends and other people.

From Wikipedia talk:PublicityEdit

Hard to find help on how to publicise the WikipediaEdit

So, I got it into my head that I wanted to add a link to the Wikipedia from my blog...easier said than done! It took me quite a while to find the right graphic. That is weird. I ended up finding

But nowhwere from the Main pages or the "Community Portal" is this or an alternative page listed!

An shouldn't the first one above be linked from all over the place? With instructions on how to create the links?iFaqeer (Talk to me!) 21:35, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)

PS: before I come out sounding self-important, I wasn't looking to do the 'Pedia any favours; my blog is new and I am trying to make it a home for good wholesome thought and content. I feel the Wikipedia is an important thing to point to.iFaqeer (Talk to me!) 21:40, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)

I do agree!!Edit

Hello, I do agree with Ifaqeer. The link to Wikipedia:Banners and buttons should be more accessible. Bye Java

Targeting publicity effortsEdit

Wikipedia is now one of the top 30 web sites on the net, period. It seems that anyone in the developed world who hasn't heard about us yet soon will, either through word of mouth or the inevitable media coverage for such an important site. Wikipedia is also currently dominating Google and other search engines, so there's really no need to solicit links anymore. At this point, I think publicity efforts would be more useful if they were targeted. For example, we would like to recruit:

  • Experts for fields where articles are languishing
  • Translators
  • Editors from cultural minorities not well represented here
  • English-speaking residents of non-English-speaking countries

The amount of publicity that Wikipedia gets from media outlets is very large. Even if we could muster enough posters and volunteers to distribute them to compete with sheer volume, we have little direct control over what the media will say about us (though Jimbo has been doing a good job acting as a spokesperson, at least for those outlets who ask us for our point of view). The best way I think we can make sure that the large amounts of free publicity we are getting is good publicity, is to improve what it is people see when they visit the site. Given that most criticism recently has been about accuracy and trust and the site claiming to be more than it's not (since people assume an "encyclopedia" is professionally reviewed), an excellent first step would be to make sure anything that's in an unacceptable state is clearly marked, even if we can't fix it right away. Category:Wikipedia maintenance catalogs the hundreds of different ways this can be done. -- Beland 21:40, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

Good points. I'm doing something like this - I have started WikiProject International development and:
  • have tried to make it useful for people new to Wikipedia
  • have provided "Jumping off points" so that task-oriented people can get right into editing
  • am now starting to contact organizations (e.g. these ones):
    • to let them know about the resource
    • to ask them to put it in their newsletters
    • to let them know that it is easy to edit Wikipedia, that if they do want to share their expertise, that would be great
    • to let them know that if they don't want to get into editing, they are still very welcome to post suggestions or feedback on the Wikiproject talk page
    • to suggest that reading and working on articles in Wikipedia is a great way for students to learn, and a great way for development volunteers to prepare for a placement
  • we can contact relevant experts to ask for suggestions on resources and feedback on articles (at the same time ensuring that they know about Wikipedia's articles in their topic area)
  • we can post a brief notice on development-oriented discussion lists
  • I have added a section on translating to the project page - and as I travel in Asia I will be on the lookout for keen people to help (partly through my contact with local NGO's and development professionals). -- Singkong2005 04:26, 4 April 2006 (UTC)