Submissions:2019/I didn't know I was a Wikipedian

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Due to limited space, WikiConference North America 2019 unfortunately could not accommodate this submission in its program this year.
Please check out our Unconference for opportunities to present and share there.


I didn't know I was a Wikipedian


Editor Recruitment & Retention

Type of session:



Wikipedia relies on volunteer work to maintain and grow the project, but the number of active participants was halved between 2006 and 2014. Concerns about a decline in the editor base have resulted in increased interest in attracting and retaining new editors. One of the community health recommendations for Wikimedia 2030 is the cultivation of “a strong focus on programs, structures, and processes to support newcomers in various ways (people, events, communities, partners, software).” Wiki Education is one such program that brings new editors to Wikipedia, and with women as the majority of college attendees in the US and Canada, we necessarily diversify the editor base of English Wikipedia.

Wiki Education brings thousands of students to Wikipedia each term, giving them the tools and training to successfully edit. Very few students continue to edit after their course is completed, but those few born Wikipedians who stick around can have a big impact. I will detail one exception to this trend (myself), discussing the factors that influenced me to stay in the community for the more than two years since my course ended. I will also provide examples of the work I’ve done on the Wikipedia in that time, illustrating that even low editor retention can be impactful. Since 2017, I’ve contributed to nine Good Articles, many Did You Knows, and a Featured Article, making it to the final round of this year’s WikiCup. I’ve also become involved with community organization, starting a newsletter for WikiProject Tree of Life which now has almost 40 subscribers, as well as maintaining the Bats Task Force.

While our program may have a relatively low long-term recruitment rate, there is value in introducing Wikipedia to diverse editors. The ones who decide to stay, like me, might never have discovered the edit button otherwise, and never realized that they were Wikipedians all along.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Elysia Webb

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:

Elysia (Wiki Ed) / Enwebb

Affiliated organization(s):

Wiki Education Foundation

Estimated time:

15 mins

Preferred room size:

Whatever the organizing committee thinks is appropriate

Special requests:

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)