Jump to content

Archive:Press releases/Wikipedia to become more user-friendly for new volunteer writers

From Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki

Wikipedia to become more user-friendly for new volunteer writers

Stanton Foundation invests $890,000 in non-profit encyclopedia to help study and simplify user interface for first-time authors

SAN FRANCISCO CA, December 3 - The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), today announced a new project designed to make it easier to contribute articles to the free, volunteer-written encyclopedia. The organization has received a grant of $890,000 from the U.S.-based Stanton Foundation to make Wikipedia's writing and editing interface easier to use for first-time authors. The grant will be used to fund a project team at the Wikimedia Foundation's offices in San Francisco.

"Wikipedia attracts writers who have a moderate-to-high level of technical understanding, but it excludes lots of smart, knowledgeable people who are less tech-centric," said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "One of our key priorities is to attract those people and persuade them to help write and edit the encyclopedia. I am thrilled that the Stanton Foundation recognizes the importance of that work, and will be helping us with it."

The project team will include three full-time software developers, a user interface designer, and a project manager. The team will commission research to identify the most common barriers to entry for first-time writers, and then work to systematically reduce or eliminate them. It will specifically focus on hiding complex elements of the user interface from people who don't need them. The project will run through 2009, and all resulting improvements will be made available as open source software.

The Wikimedia Foundation is currently in the midst of its sixth annual giving campaign. Throughout the campaign, visitors to Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects are encouraged to make a donation through a site-wide banner on every page and article. The Stanton Foundation grant is a restricted gift which will not count towards the Wikimedia Foundation's operating budget of $6 million for 2008-2009.

Questions and answers about the project can be found here.

About Frank Stanton

Frank Stanton is regarded as one of the greatest executives in the history of electronic communications and one of the television industry’s founding fathers. He was the master builder of U.S. broadcaster CBS, turning an also-ran radio network into a broadcasting powerhouse. Stanton became president in 1946 and served for 25 years.

But his biggest contributions to the industry and the society it served were his determination to have the medium serve as an instrument of civic education and his willingness to defend freedom of speech whenever it was assailed.

In 1960, Stanton initiated the first televised presidential debates -- the famous Nixon-Kennedy “Great Debates,” which required a special Act of Congress before they could proceed. These initial debates are widely credited to have given Kennedy his margin of victory, and have become a staple of American presidential campaigns.

In Stanton’s most public fight for free speech, which became a landmark case, he defied a U.S. House of Representatives subpoena for outtakes from “CBS Reports: ‘The Selling of the Pentagon,’” a 1971 report that exposed a massive propaganda campaign by the Pentagon to foster support for the Vietnam War. After two days of hearings, House members in a roll call voted 226-181 not to hold CBS and Stanton in contempt.

Following his retirement from CBS, Stanton served as chairman of the American Red Cross, chairman of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Visiting Committee, trustee of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, Calif., trustee of the Museum of Broadcasting, and chairman of the Rand Corporation.

About us

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of its wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. It operates some of the largest collaboratively-edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the world's 10 most-visited websites.

For a full list of projects, visit Our projects.

All projects of the Wikimedia Foundation are collaboratively developed by volunteers using the MediaWiki software. Their content may be freely used, freely edited, freely copied and freely redistributed subject to the restrictions of that license.

About Wikipedia

The goal of Wikipedia, the largest encyclopedia in history, is to create free encyclopedias in all languages of the world. Anyone with Internet access is free to contribute by writing new articles and editing existing articles. Wikipedia was ranked the fourth most visited website on the internet in November 2008 according to comScore.

Wikipedia started in January 2001, and currently offers over eleven million articles in over 260 languages. The largest Wikipedia is in English, with more than 2.6 million articles; followed by the German and French editions, each of which contain more than six hundred thousand articles. Nine other language editions contain 200,000+ articles, and more than 150 other languages contain 1,000+ articles. Wikipedia is entirely created and maintained by a community of active volunteers.

Press inquiries

Head of Communications
Jay Walsh
+1 (415) 839 6885 x 609
Regional press contacts
(by language and by country)
Regional contacts