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A Comparative Study of Article Creation Campaigns on Wikipedia - Part I

Posted by Nitesh Gill and Suswetha Kolluru at Dec 31, 2020 12:00 AM |
This is a short report on a comparative analysis of two prominent Wikimedia initiatives, Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger, to understand prevailing challenges and opportunities, and strategies to address the same. The report has been authored by Nitesh Gill with inputs from Suswetha Kolluru, and editorial oversight and support by Puthiya Purayil Sneha. This is part of a series of short-term studies undertaken by the CIS-A2K team in 2019–2020.


The motive of the Wikimedia movement is to aid growth and access to free knowledge across the world. Over the last several years, apart from the online encyclopedia, Wikimedia has also developed and supported many projects, campaigns, events or edit-a-thons simultaneously on its various sister projects such as Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, Wikisource and others. Campaigns and contests such as Art & Feminism (2014), Women in Red (2015), Wiki Loves Monuments, Wiki loves Butterfly, Wikipedia Asian Month (2015),  #1Lib1Ref, Project Tiger (2018) etc. play a crucial role in motivating communities to create new content while working together in an organized manner. 

 The objective of this study is to undertake a comparative analysis of two projects/article creation campaigns on Wikipedia, which are Wikipedia Asian Month (WAM) and Project Tiger. They are both primarily online writing contests. WAM has been organised every year in November since 2015. It is an international edit-a-thon. Project Tiger is a contest which is organised in India. Several Indian language communities take part in this actively. The first iteration of Project Tiger was organized in 2018 and two iterations have taken place till date. While different in terms of the region or area of focus, both campaigns have a common goal of content creation in regional languages. The Indian Wikipedia communities’ contributions are extensive in both projects. It would be interesting to learn from both of them and also understand what works and what needs to be improved in the future.

Research Questions

As suggested by the title, the aim of this study is primarily to better understand the motivation behind long-term edit-a-thons with the help of WAM and PT. Through a comparative analysis, it will attempt to understand the participants' perspective on contributing to these types of projects,  prevailing challenges and opportunities, and the knowledge gaps in content creation as well as in participation.

The objectives of this study are to :

  • Understand the key motivations for volunteers to contribute to article creation campaigns/contests. 

  • Outline the unique aspects of Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger for content creation on Wikipedia, challenges and opportunities and ways to build on the same.  


The objective of the Wikimedia movement is to facilitate the growth of free knowledge, through its various projects and platforms. Before starting Wikipedia, in 2000 Nupedia was launched and on 15 January 2001 Wikipedia was set up as a free encyclopedia. All the Wikimedia projects such as Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, Wikisource, Wiktionary, etc. are central knowledge hubs. These are the platforms where knowledge from around the world can be found but this means it also requires participation from an active volunteer community across numerous languages. There are many ways to contribute to these platforms as a volunteer. One way is participating in an edit-a-thon, where several volunteers can actively work together on the same platform. Edit-a-thons started just after a few years of Wikipedia’s existence. In the beginning, the main objective of the edit-a-thons was content creation; this remains the primary objective, although now they also focus on expanding/adding to existing content, thus contributing towards increasing the number of articles on Wikipedia. A prominent feature of these types of events is the interaction among experienced and new editors. The edit-a-thons can happen online as well as at physical, offline locations. In September 2004, Jimmy Wales proposed the Editing weekends’ concept which was a starting point of edit-a-thons. He started a discussion about spending the holidays in a common space where editors could edit or learn about Wikipedia. The event itself was not very prominent but managed to start discussions about similar events among volunteers. A few years later, in March 2009 in Sydney, the first GLAM edit-a-thon was organised at the Powerhouse Museum. According to English Wikipedia, in 2011, an edit-a-thon was organized on cultural partnerships, mainly with the British Library, with a second series taking place later that same year.  After that, it became a popular event among volunteers and every community started to organize these types of events. Gradually, Wikimedians also thought about more such campaigns in the form of edit-a-thons; these events were successful and helped achieve the stated agenda of content creation on Wikipedia. In 2013, a research study was conducted about the edit-a-thon as part of the Wikimedia Programme Evaluation report, which noted its history, statistics, budget, inputs, resources and outputs etc. But so far little research has been done on particular edit-a-thons such as Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger and their impact on the growth of content on Wikipedia.  

Wikipedia Asian Month

Wikipedia Asian Month is a long-duration edit-a-thon structured around specific topics.  The discussion about this edit-a-thon started in 2015 during Wikimania. A separate meeting was held for all the Asian language communities where the WAM proposal was presented by User:Addis Wang, and endorsed by all members present. Before WAM, similar events were already being conducted but this was the first attempt to establish collaboration on a broader level with the Asian language communities. Also before this project, local Wikipedias had only a little content regarding Asia.

The aim of this project was to create more content related to Asia on the regional Wikipedias, with a focus only on new content. Diversification of content, collaboration and cultural exchange are the main objectives of the project. Small incentives like receiving postcards from countries that participants added content about were introduced to encourage more participation. Postcards and the badge of ‘Wikipedia Brand Ambassador’ were added to motivate the contributors. The Wikipedia Asian Month took initiative to encourage and expand participants and communities. As a member from the Punjabi community, Gaurav, notes, “Wikipedia Asian Month was a boost for the communities or Wikipedians. The prize was just a postcard, although this prize gave positive energy to participants and they created articles just for getting appreciation.” In the first iteration, there were around 42 participating communities out of which 11 were Indian language communities. After the first iteration of WAM, when asked about Indian language communities' participation in 2015,  Addis Wang replied, “Yes! As one of the largest Wikimedia communities in Asia, and maybe the most diverse community in the world, the Indic community is highly involved in the Wikipedia Asian Month since the idea was proposed during Wikimania 2015. In last year’s edition, India is the country that received the most postcards sent by Wikipedia Asian Month. Also, Wikipedian Asian Ambassadors of English Wikipedia, who created most articles during the Asian Month, are from India.”  As noted in 2019 by the campaign coordinators , “In the past three years, over 20,500 high-quality articles have been added in more than 50 language-specific Wikipedias by more than 2,000 Wikipedia editors”, (excluding 2019). In 2020, WAM also happened in the same month, November, just like every year. 

Project Tiger 

Some years ago Google initiated efforts to bridge a gap in Indian language content online . They partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation who in turn collaborated with CIS-A2K and started a pilot project named Project Tiger, in 2018. Also called Supporting Indian language Wikipedias in 2018, Project Tiger did well and received good participation from all the communities, which led to its second iteration in 2019. Project Tiger is a unique and recent initiative that is aimed at creating locally relevant content on Indic Wikipedias that is most searched for by users online. It is distinct from other contests because it is one of the longest running Wiki edit-a-thons, considering it runs for over 3 months with several Indic communities competing with each other. It is an online writing contest which is organised in India. Several Indian language communities take part in this actively. The project is conducted in two phases i.e, the contest includes hardware support distribution to promising volunteers and a 3-month online writing contest on Indian language Wikipedias.The first phase of the contest is the distribution of hardware support, through which 50 Laptops by Google and internet stipends are offered to 100 experienced and promising Wikimedians, who need infrastructure support to increase contributions on Wikipedia. Once the distribution is done, communities start creating articles from the list of topics provided by Google. Other than the list, the community is encouraged to come up with their own set of articles that is relevant to Wikipedia in their own language. Project Tiger, as the name suggests, is inspired by, and named after, an environmental project in India to save tigers. Similarly, Wikipedia’s Project Tiger aims at nurturing locally relevant content on Indic language Wikipedias.



The primary method for this study consisted of interviews with community members who participated in either of the projects or who knew about both. These interviews were conducted via phone calls as well as in written form via a questionnaire/survey. The observations from the study are descriptive and include direct quotations (with the permission) of the participant. Due to a shortage of time and availability of community members, only a limited number of interviews have been conducted for the study. These interviewees were selected primarily based on their active participation or their contributions in their regional language Wikipedia. The interviews were conducted with participants from Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Punjabi, Santali, Tamil language communities from India. These interviewees also include the main organizers of  WAM. The fountain tool developer was also interviewed as part of the study because the tool is a common factor in both the projects. Questionnaires varied depending on the category of respondents, such as participants, contributors, local and international organisers, developer etc. A total of 17 interviews were conducted for both projects. 9 interviews were conducted with the WAM international team, local organisers and participants and 7 interviews with PT organisers and contributors, and one with the fountain tool developer. The interviews were conducted in English, Hindi, Punjabi and Telugu. A consent form was shared with all the interviewees, including permission for recording the interviews.  

The data collection was followed by a comparative analysis of Wikipedia Asian Month and Project Tiger. These both are pilot contests which have some similarities, but also some unique aspects. We compared the objectives, scope, process, communication, communities, languages, content, and achievements of these two projects. Data for this was primarily collected through the interviews mentioned above, but also a review of the event pages, and a random sampling of talk pages, reports and statistics on these projects available on Wikipedia. These two projects have similarities, differences as well as some limitations. This comparison would help in understanding the importance and need for these types of contests. The motive for the comparison  is to better understand the strategies of both projects which focus on increasing the content in local languages. These  learnings may inform the process of working on the next iteration of these projects. 

Part II of this post will look at some of the observations and learnings from this report.