Growth/Growth 2014/2013-14 Goals

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This document contains more detailed explanation and rationales for the our 2013-14 goals.

Our Annual Plan target edit

To quote from the 2013-14 Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan:

By end of June 2014, we expect to achieve a sustainable increase in the Total Active Editors core metric (registered users across all projects who make >= 5 contributions in the content namespace, de-duplicated) by 2.4K per month, adjusting for seasonality and length-of-month. This target is deliberately conservative about the estimated impact of larger scale feature changes (Visual Editor, Echo, Flow, etc.) because we cannot make realistic assessments about their likely impact at this time. It is therefore primarily driven by current data on our continuing editor engagement interventions.

How the target was created edit

To expand on the contents of the Annual Plan document, we generated our target by looking at the current rates of new active editors we gain with our team's onboarding features, and then observing how many additional editors we would gain if we made certain increases in our activation rates. For example, consider the following planning scenario, using only English Wikipedia as a test case...

Example Total Active Editor projections
Assumed registrations per month 120,000
Additional % of registrations that make it to 1+ 10%
(constant) % of 1+ editors that make it to 5+ 20%
(additional) # of editors (1+) 12,000
(additional) # of active editors (5+) 2,400

Why we need goals, in addition to the Annual Plan target edit

Most Wikimedia engineering and product development teams have set specific features as their commitment in the Annual Plan. For instance, Flow and VisualEditor have described dates and product requirements for shipping certain software to users. Our team has taken a unique approach in making growth -- including a specific number of additional active editors -- our goal.

While this provides us with a clear mission, it does not provide much detail about how we aim to meet our target.

Our product framework edit

We use a systematic approach to choosing products to test and build, with the following hierarchy that starts very general and becomes more specific.

  1. The user lifecycle and areas of focus, which are:
    • Acquisition: how to attract more readers and anonymous editors to signup
    • Activation: how to help more newly-registered users become active editors
    • Retention: how to help active contributors stay that way
    • Reactivation: giving formerly active contributors a reason to return
  2. User experience problems: for each of these areas of focus above, we can list current problems users face
  3. Experimental solutions: for each problem or set of problems, we can hypothesize solutions to test
  4. Products: if a solution works, then we can develop it in to a mature, permanent feature of Wikipedia

2013-14 product goals edit

Slides from our previous quarter's review outline many of these goals in a more visual way.
every month 20-30% of edits are made by anonymous contributors, but we know very little about who these users are and how to motivate them to join the community. While we have run reader and donor oriented acquisition campaigns in the past, these require a high degree of noise with little gain. This year, we will be focusing first on anonymous editor acquisition campaigns, using a variety of methods. See Research:Anonymous editor acquisition for our research questions and data.
in 2012-13, we spent a lot of the team's time on onboarding new Wikipedians, including task suggestions and guided tours. We will be continuing this work in 2013-14, with a focus on international rollouts of these features, solidifying the user experience immediately after signup, creating more incentives for a user to continue editing, and collaborating with the mobile web team to bring this experience to users across devices. This year, we will also be working to improve the user experience in a neglected but critical area: Wikipedia article creation. Thousands of new users every month register with the intent to expand the encyclopedia with a new article, and fail miserably. We will fix this. (See also: our research documentation on article creation.)
once we have completed work to bring in additional active editors, the natural next step is to focus on fixing problems that prevent retention of these new Wikipedians. One area we will be experimenting with this year is task suggestions and the beginnings of an interest graph for registered users. Currently, there are few systems for proactively suggesting ways to improve the encyclopedia, based on your interests, and even simple suggestion systems (like SuggestBot on English Wikipedia) have proven to be effective tools for engagement. A final area we are considering improvements to is with negative experiences for new editors, such as reverts and deletion process, though this will likely be reserved for later in the year when such work can be aligned with a launch of Flow.
In the past, we've run isolated reactivation experiments (e.g. Necromancy). In the future, we'd like to focus on using notifications in all our features, to draw people back to tasks they were doing on Wikipedia.