How to gamify Wikipedia

De Descuadrando

Please, continue reading about the project in:



This project intends to design a gamification system to improve engagement in wiki projects similar to Wikipedia. We will test the project outcome in the platform (the wiki where you are reading this article), the open encyclopedia on business, a project that uses the same software (MediaWiki) and philosophy as Wikipedia. Our project wants to improve the individual experience with the wiki project in order to develop the project as a whole.

Although the project will be implemented in Descuadrando, our final objective is to generate a robust proposal that could be applicable to other MediaWiki projects and finally to Wikipedia.

How to participate

Differences between Wikipedia and other wiki projects (e.g. Descuadrando)

We decided to title the project "How to gamily Wikipedia" in order to make it more understandable and accessible to potential contributors who are already familiarised with Wikipedia. There are some important differences to take into account when we think about Wikipedia and other wiki projects:

  • Wikipedia is one the most popular and settled projects in the world. Therefore, its main objective could be to increase the number of editors and its engagement and not dissemination of the platform. Other wiki projects (such as Descuadrando) share the need for improving editors' objective, but also need to improve visibility and disemmination.
  • Wikipedia lies upon a wide and robust community that is based in well established management procedures. This, together with the significance of the encyclopedia, creates a difficult ground for experimentation of this type. This could be a deterrent to incorporate big changes in rewarding production of content using gamification techniques. Other wiki projects are much smaller and can experiment introducing this sort of changes into their environments, acting as beta testers.
  • One of the goals of Descuadrando, a project that is very linked to higher education, is helping users to visualize their contributions as a way to improve their digital portfolio of achievements, if wanted. These implies that the system needs to deal with authoring but also with anonymity, in case editors and other users don't want to be identify.


The current project is supported by the University of Granada (Spain), which provides 3000 euros, under the program for educational innovations. The project proposal was submitted in March 2012 and approved on 25 September 2012. Descuadrando is an autonomous platform that was created under the same program in 2009.

Related projects

Project Proposal: Badges for Wikipedia Community Engagement

In 2012 a project proposal based in badges to reward participation of editors was proposed to Wikimedia Foundation: Badges for Wikipedia Community Engagement. According to it, the aim of this pilot is "to build a collection of existing barnstars and additional new badges to serve as symbols of acknowledgement on the WP:Teahouse project and to monitor their impact on the WP:Teahouse community".
Its scope is limited uniquely to badge systems, not considering other aspects to be gamified. As this project points out:

"Although a robust system of barnstars and personal rewards exists to reward “above and beyond” contributions to Wikipedia and its related projects, there is currently no similar way to reward participation on a less-than exceptional level. Badges could be used as a reward for contributions that may not necessarily be extraordinarily significant from a Wikimedia project’s point of view but may still be meaningful to an individual."

Criticism to badges in Wikipedia.

We have found some synergies with this proposal. However, there are also remarkable differences:

  • This project is focused on the development of a badge systems, whereas our project intends to incorporate a full set of gamification solutions.
  • This project is intended to improve editors' rewarding, whereas our project is intended to improve engagement of editors and other users by recognising tasks linked to dissemination and rating of contents.
  • Given the rigid structure of Wikipedia management system, this project will be implemented in the WP:Teahouse project, our project will be implemented and tested in the full encyclopedia itself (

Hi! Just saw your comment on my Fellowship proposal. I'm definitely interested in your project and what direction you are thinking of taking it. For our part, our badge experiment is progressing. You can check out our project at: and our first batch of badges at: (not yet officially released). Your thoughts and comments are most welcome. Particularly interesting to you, I believe, may be Collaborative List of All Badges. We've abandoned implementing those ideas to focus more on the Teahouse Badges but maybe these would be of use to you and your project. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with. Find me on Wikipedia, as we've moved most of our project work there. Thanks again! Anyashy (talk)

Barnstars in Wikipedia

It is the custom to reward Wikipedia contributors for hard work and due diligence by awarding them a barnstar. To give the award to someone, just place the image on their talk page (or their awards page), and explain why it was given. If you are sure the barnstar is appropriate, don't be shy!
The barnstar is not unique to Wikipedia. Some years ago, some wiki-based communities began to give their users awards called barn stars, using a star anchor to represent the concept of the shared work experience, as in barn raising. The concept of the barnstar as a Wiki award was created by SunirShah on MeatballWiki.[citation needed] Web designers were invited to incorporate a similar barn star design into their project as Easter eggs.[1]
Wiki barnstars were introduced to Wikipedia in December 2003. Since then, the concept has become ingrained in the Wikipedia culture. These awards are part of the Kindness Campaign and are meant to promote civility and WikiLove. They are a form of warm fuzzy: they are free to give and they bring joy to the recipient.
While awarding a barnstar, remember to provide relevant text as to why you are awarding it. The following are some of the barnstars and awards currently in use. If you don't feel any of these covers the topics you are concerned with, you can always design your own award (using these examples, if you like). If you have questions, WikiProject Wikipedia Awards is a group of volunteers who help guide these pages.

(Read more in Barnstars)

See also: WikiProject Wikipedia Awards - "a project dedicated to helping people develop the creation and use of Barnstars and other awards within the Wikipedia community. These awards are part of the Kindness Campaign and are used to help promote Civility and WikiLove".

Rationale of the project and goals

Most users in Wikipedia and other wikis are readers who access information without contributing to it. If we have a look to statistics about registered, we can see that active users are only a small percentage of them:

  • Wikipedia in English (data consulted on 9 January 2013): 124,832 active users over 18,191,094 registered users. This is only 0.69% of all registered users.
  • Wikipedia in Spanish (data consulted on 9 January 2013): 14,348 active users over 2,482,993 registered users. This is only 0.58% of all registered users.

An active registered user is a user who have performed an action in the last 30 days.

This problem is even more acute when referred to other projects based on wikis where the potential amount of users is not so high. In addition, out of Wikipedia, many projects need to promote their contents and engage users to these platforms as a way to foster informal learning.

We want to improve engagement of wiki editors and users in order to improve:

  • Creation of content.
  • Content update and improvement (adding references, adding pictures and other multimedia, editing, correcting mistakes…).
  • Dissemination of contents.
  • Commenting on articles (Idea: to implement the option to leave comments in articles).
  • Rating articles and flagging errors and mistakes.
  • Others: the creation of contents in the blog and other social media of the project.

Principles of the project

  • Transparency. To show the gamified system in a transparent way to users of the wiki.
  • Anonymity/Authoring. Contributors could decide if they want to participate in the wiki in an anonymous way or through identification using Facebook, twitter or google credentials.
  • Free software. The code developed will be released as free software.
  • Beta. The design of the project will be gradually implemented and tested, being subject to continuous adjustments and improvements.
  • Metrics. Metrics of the project will be collected and analysed in order to test its impact.
  • Research. Outcomes of the project will be subject to investigation through different methods (interviews of project coordinators and participants, analysis of metrics, surveys, etc.)
  • Transferable. The results of the project will be documented in order to make them transferable to other wiki projects and to Wikipedia.


Here we will present some actions to be rewarded using different game dynamics.


Actions to be rewarded:

  • Creation of content.
  • Content update and improvement (adding references, adding pictures and other multimedia, editing, correcting mistakes…).
  • Dissemination of content.
  • Rating articles and flagging errors and mistakes.
  • Comments on articles (Idea: to implement the option to leave comments in articles).
  • Others: creation of contents in the blog and other social media of the project.

Game mechanics and features


Initiation rites badges (badges that are obtained automatically when the user accomplish certain tasks):

  • Open an account / User
  • Filling the profile and sharing in social media.
  • Accomplishing editing tutorial.
  • 1st creation of the full article.
  • 1st improvement of article.
  • 1st post in the blog.
  • Dissemination of contents.
  • Others

Competitive badges (badges that are obtained in competition with other users)

  • Best full article of the month/ 6 months/year. Based on ratings by users, editors ratings and metrics (visits, links pointing to the webpage).
  • Best disseminator of the month/ 6 months/year. Based on dissemination on social media.
  • Best corrector of the month/ 6 months/year.

Cooperative badges (badges that are obtained in cooperation with other users)

  • ...

It is necessary: to create pathways and itineraries; to design badges artistically; etc. Badge system can also vary based on who does the badge evaluation and assignment -- the wider community, an authority, or an automated system.

Leaderboards / Rankings

"Leaderboards are a means by which users can track their performance, subjective to others. Leaderboards visually display where a user stands in regards to other users. Leaderboards can be broken down into several subcategories such as: Global, Friends, Relative, Isolated etc. Leaderboards are implemented on sites to show which players have unlocked the most achievements. The desire to appear on the Leaderboards drives players to earn more achievements, in turn fueling deeper engagement." ((Gamification wiki)) Based on points and badges.

  • Categories: creation, improvement, dissemination, testing (error finding, commenting and rating contents)
  • Periods: month, six months, year.


"Points are a running numerical value given for any single action or combination of actions. +1 Knowledge of Points! Points can drive users to participate in activities. Weighting points (giving more or less) around specific activities can motivate players to participate in those activities if players have been given a reason to care about points through the Gamification Process." (Gamification Wiki)

Ways to gain points:

  • Inviting new users (different points depending on the grade of implication of the new user: open account, filling profile, editing)
  • Disseminating content in social media.
  • Variables linked to edition of contents (creation of internal links, external links, number of words, visits to edited articles, rating of edited articles, visits to the personal profile, etc.)
  • Rating articles and flagging errors.


  • Administrators.

Achievement visualisation

  • Profiles: Badges and points appears in the profile of the users, giving an option to visualise them into their own webpages, social media, CVs.
  • Prizes (when enough funding or through sponsorship).
  • Recommendation and connection to companies and other projects.
  • If use in educational context, badges could be a way to evaluate the student.
  • Connection with other projects committed to collect and visualise badges: Open Badges - Mozilla OBI Backpack.

Project evaluation

The objective of this gamification project is to improve a number of indicators in the wiki:

  • number of users,
  • number of active users,
  • number of articles,
  • number of visits, etc.

Products and results

  • Document on how to gamily a wiki platform based in the Wikipedia system.
  • Research papers on the impact on gamification in improving informal learning.
  • Free software application to gamify MediaWiki software.

Phases of the project

  1. Phase 1: ...
  2. Phase 2: ...

References about Gamification of Wikipedia

(Sent by Paolo Massa) In "reality is broken" Jane McGonigal makes some references to the fact Wikipedia "is a game". I don't remember how deep the analysis is or if it is mainly anecdotal. Some quotes from the book:

First, Wikipedia is a good game world. Its extreme scale inspires our sense of awe and wonder, while its sprawling navigation encourages curiosity, exploration, and collaboration.
Second, Wikipedia has good game mechanics. Player action has direct and clear results: edits appear instantly on the site, giving users a powerful sense of control over the environment. This instant impact creates optimism and a strong sense of self-efficacy. It features unlimited work opportunities, of escalating difficulty.
Which leads to the third key aspect of Wikipedia’s good gameness: it has good game community. Good game community requires two things: plenty of positive social interaction and a meaningful context for collective effort.

(Sent by mherger)
Sebastian and others have pointed out that the Wikipedia today is already using game mechanics, both on the contributor side, as well as the end user-facing side. Contributors can move up the ranks by getting more administrative power, where they e.g. can lock and article from being edited by anonymous users, or can lock a user who's not behaving. If I remember correctly admins at a certain level are also eligible for the wikipedia-votes that happen every period. Users can rate articles. But in comparison to what's possible, that's pretty low-key gamification. So I really see that there is a huge opportunity to make the experience for contributors and users better, as well improve the quality and the amount of content. The way the same content is presented for different audiences, improving the gap of articles and information between the English and other languages in the Wikipedia etc.


Visit the page resources on gamification and, please, share yours.

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