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Wikipedia edit-a-thon: Getting ready

This guide provides information on why editing Wikipedia is important, how to learn to edit Wikipedia, and how to host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon from preparation, set up, and the actual event.

Getting Ready

Before you hold a edit-a-thon you need to prepare. This preparation will include setting a date, theme, and location for your event as well as preparing materials for editors to use such as pre-selected topics/names to be edited and reference materials. Use the information below to help prepare for your event.

Choosing a date, theme, and location

Date- The first step to organizing an edit-a-thon is choosing a date and time. It is important to try to pick a date and time that is likely to attract a large number of students. For example, if you are a university library you would not want to hold an edit-a-thon during spring break when students will not be on campus or during finals week when they would be busy.

Theme- Edit-a-thons typically focus on a specific topic so you will want to choose a theme for your event. The theme you choose might influence when you hold your event. For example, UNLV Libraries holds its Art + Feminism edit-a-thon during March because it is Women's History Month and we hold our Decolonizing Wikipedia edit-a-thon in November because that is Native American Heritage month.

Location- Early on in the process of planning you should chose the location you plan to use so when you have the date for the event finalized you can reserve the location. When choosing a location remember that you will need to set up multiple stations (see the Event set up tab), will have multiple people filtering in and out of the room, and will need WIFI.

Fun stuff

At edit-a-thons we like to provide fun swag that attendees can take with them to remember the event by. We make buttons and stickers based around the theme of the event and make those available for all attendees. We also hold raffles every thirty minutes where we give away library swag and, if funding for it is available, other items such as books or handmade art related to the event theme that we purchase.

Preparing resources

Providing your edit-a-thon attendees with a pre-selected list of names/topics they can edit as well as resources that will help them complete the editing is a good way to ensure that your edit-a-thon will be successful and run smoothly.

Editing list- Once you have identifies the theme of your event you should start creating a list of people/things who you can edit and who fit the criteria for your event theme. For instance, if your theme is Art + Feminism you would want to identify female artists whose Wikipedia pages are lacking information or who have no pages at all. We have identified three different types of Wikipedia pages:

1. Those that need information 

2. Those that need citations

3. Those that need a page created or need major edits

We then categorize all the names we choose into these categories to make it easy for editors to choose who they want to edit based on their skill level and comfort with Wikipedia.

Resources- For each name on your list you should also have a corresponding resource/resources that the person editing the page can use to add information. These resources can be books you have pulled from your collection or web sources. When identifying names we want to add to our editing lists we typically start by pulling books related to the theme we are working with. We then identify names and research them to see if they have a Wikipedia page or not and how robust it is as well as what sort of internet resources are available. If the person is notable enough, fits our criteria, and has enough resources we can pull information from we add them to our lists.

Helpful hints for choosing resources

-Don't pull a bunch names from one resource. For example, if you have an encyclopedia of notable Native Americans and pull twenty names from it there may be a problem at the event as only one person can use a physical book at a time but multiple people may be trying to edit names from that one book.

-When choosing resources make sure that there is sufficient information in the resource for someone to edit a page from. For example, if someone is editing an artist and the resource they have only talks about one exhibition they had it would be hard for the person to edit a page about the artists whole life/body of work.

Advertising and outreach

Getting the word out about your edit-a-thon is important, good advertising and outreach will ensure that you have attendees at your event.  Early in the planning process you should begin thinking about how you will get the word out about your event. Once you have identified your theme, you should create advertising that includes the event date, location, and time of your event along with attractive visuals. If your institute utilizes social media, you should use that to advertise your event. It might also be helpful to print out your advertisements and post them around your institution.

Along with advertising, you can also identify specific student groups on campus and classes professors who are teaching classes related to your topic. You can ask identified student groups if you can send a representative to speak with their group about your event and invite their members to attend. You can also email professors on campus who are teaching classes related to your topic and ask them to advertise your event to their class or potentially make attending the edit-a-thon extra credit or part of an assignment.


When preparing for your edit-a-thon there are some important things to consider.

Space- You will want to choose a room large enough for your event and make it easy for people to find.

WIFI- It is a good idea to provide WIFI for people to use while editing.

Devices- You may want to have some laptops/tablets available for attendees to use.

Account Creation- Most of your editors will need to make a new Wikipedia account but within 24 hours Wikipedia only allows six accounts to be created from a single IP address. You can request an exception to the IP limit or you can have people sign for accounts on their personal cell phones. Visit Wikipedia's Mass account creation page to learn more.

Dashboards- If you are interested in tracking how many people edit during your event and how many edits are made you might want to create a dashboard for your event that people will log-on to before they begin editing. To learn more visit Wikipedia's Programs and Events Dashboard.

Job Assignments- It might be helpful if each person on your edit-a-thon team is given a specific assignment so that they know where they should be and what they should be doing on the day of the event. 

Refreshments- If possible you should provide snacks and drinks for your attendees.


Resources from Wikipedia

Wikipedia also has a variety of resources to help you plan your event.

Visit Wikipedia's How to run an edit-a-thon for instructions from Wikipedia for running an event.

Wiki Education has a variety of modules on their Running edit-a-thons and other editing events site that can help you prepare for your event.

The Wikipedia Art+Feminism resources page is an edit-a-thon organizational kit that can help you plan an your edit-a-thon.

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