online marketing psychology

September 2, 2011

How Wikipedia Removed Friction And Gained Hearts

We know that most of the people on the web are window shoppers. They look but don't buy.

Wikipedia has extremely low user contribution numbers. The majority of the work on their site is done by 68,000 people, or 0.0003% of all users.

So they started a project to change this.

The Article Feedback Tool

In September 2010 Wikipedia started an experiment with a tool that allowed users to rate an article's quality on various dimensions.

After this initial testing they began tweaking the tool and increasing the number of articles where the tool was present. In July 2011 there were about 100,000 English articles with this tool.

The huge number of visitors creates a great opportunity to test and fine-tune the tools.

Let's take a look how the tool has evolved.

First version of the tool

Version 2 of the tool
The second iteration uses different, more intuitive, copy, has an expert box and hides the page ratings under a smaller link. After submitting your rating, the following box pops up.

Rating submit box page with call-to-action

Testing CTAs

Next to increasing the article quality, this part of the tool boosts engagement. The call-to-action (CTA) is made to pull users into the Wikipedia experience.

Most popular (37.2%) was the survey option, the editing option (17.4% of the visitors) has plenty of people clicking, but a low conversion rate. Seeing why these people don't complete the editing might be a good next step.

The Join CTA is less popular, 4.7% click through to login and 3.5% to signup. These numbers are lower because it is not clear what users will join or why they should join it.

Some nice extra findings from the research related to this feedback tool:
Three out of six raters in a small-scale user test did not complete their rating action, neglecting to press the "Submit" button. Recent revisions of the feature add a reminder to submit the rating.
Why make it necessary to press the submit button? With technologies like AJAX and an appropriate feedback loop (show the user that the score was submitted or registered) you can skip this extra barrier.
Our user studies have highlighted that readers do not consider rating necessarily to be a form of "feedback". The tool does not currently use the term "feedback" in the user interface, and we may add feedback features such as free-text comments in future, so this does not have major implications at this time.
How careful are you with your wording? Calling it ideas or opinions might be more effective than feedback. Test it!

The biggest conclusion of this post is that your focus should be on lowering the barriers for users to engage, test what is working and act accordingly!

If you are a fan of the show Arrested Development, go check and rate this article for its quality!

(Actually Wikipedia gains stars and not hearts, but that one sounded so much better :)

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