Wikidata:WikiProject LD4 Wikidata Affinity Group/How to run a Wikidata edit-a-thon (working draft)

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Project Vision[edit]

This page is for community documentation on how to run a Wikidata edit-a-thon. It was designed and submitted as a present to the community in honor of Wikidata's 9th birthday on October 29, 2021. Our next step is to welcome community responses to this discussion topic in the Wikidata Training area with the ultimate goal of adding a new tab here, should we receive community approval.

We see this as an evolving document, and we hope that everyone who has experience or thoughts on how to run a successful Wikidata edit-a-thon will continue to add content and improve the page.

Wikidata:How to run an edit-a-thon[edit]

This page documents best practices, tips, and resources for anyone who wishes to plan, promote, run, and assess a Wikidata edit-a-thon (also known as an "editathon" or "datathon"). Our model is the how-to guide on Wikipedia edit-a-thons.


Wikidata Edit-a-Thons are events that focus on contributing information to Wikidata! This can range from creating new items to editing existing ones. Doing so as an individual Wikidata editor can be daunting, so edit-a-thons bring interested parties together to work towards a common goal. (Info here on what edit-a-thons are, maybe planning, promoting, running, assessing sub-sections, section on virtual vs. in-person event pros and cons, section on how people can continue to contribute after the event is over.]

Will your event be held in person, online, in hybrid mode?[edit]


We hope to have more expertise in Wikidata edit-a-thon gatherings in person as they become more frequent. Meanwhile, much can be learned from the Wikipedia documentation about planning in-person events. There are sections there on how to choose a venue and insure access if it's inside another facility, the importance of internet access, whether some computers are supplied at the venue or participants must bring their own devices, and the all-important subject of refreshments, also addressed below.


Online edit-a-thons provide time and space for participants to join from anywhere.

Best Practices[edit]

  • Make sure there is a clear structure of planning and engagement, as well as opportunities for troubleshooting, sharing out, and rest.
  • Define goals and adjust accordingly. Many people working towards the same goal can reach the goal quickly, but can also result in unforeseen challenges of organizing or overlapping workflows.
  • Have both troubleshooting and content experts, if possible.
    • During the Graphic Possibilities edit-a-thons, the coordinators found it help to have at least one coordinator be intimately familiar with the tool, dataset, and processes in order to provide technical assistance. They also found having at least one coordinator with content expertise was helpful in a) making determinations about best approaches to creating/updating Wikidata items, or b) providing context/resources so that the editors could make informed decisions themselves.


  • Different Time Zones
  • Language barriers
  • Internet connectivity issues (for Wikidata, communication platform, etc.)
  • Distanced technical troubleshooting

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous[edit]

One unique affordance of online Wikidata events is that coordinators can allow for synchronous and/or asynchronous participation. The Graphic Possibilities team found great success with asynchronous participation in their Fall 2020 edit-a-thon, allowing many users to participate over 48 hours without having to be on Zoom the entire day.

Consider how participants can still be connected asynchronously. Whatever option is offered for asynchronous participants, make sure participants have clear instructions on accessing it and how they can participate.


If hybrid edit-a-thons become more popular, it will be interesting to see how various issues are addressed by organizers, and we hope they will add their thoughts here.

  • Will there be a way to connect the editing group online with those attending in person?
    • Can preliminary (and post-event) online gatherings attended by all participants provide a sense of shared goals and collaboration?
  • Will there be two sets of volunteers, one to help those in the venue, and one to monitor questions in an online collaborative space?
  • Will initial training take place both online and in-person, or will all of it be online and, perhaps, asynchronous?

What do you need to do before your event?[edit]

Outreach to participants[edit]

Create an event page with details such as dates, goals, and links to instructions or documentation. If you've already created a Wikiproject page, create a subpage for this. For an institution such as a gallery, library, archive, or museum, creating a presence for your project, documentation, and editathon details under Wikidata:GLAM may be appropriate.

Provide a way for participants to sign up outside of Wikidata. Consider free tools such as Eventbrite or Google forms. If you are planning to use Zoom for your event, consider using its registration feature to create a sign-up form that can also serve as a page describing the event, as this may be more approachable for participants who are not already Wikidata editors.

See below for more ideas about how to promote your event.

Provide instructions to participants[edit]

After they've registered, participants will need to know what to do next and how you'll communicate with each other.

Encourage new editors to create their account before they arrive and provide them with instructions as well as a contact for troubleshooting. For in-person events, or remote participants who may share an IP address, take additional steps to make sure that participants can sign up for new accounts.

Provide all participants with the Universal Code of Conduct and any other safe space policy, community agreements, or participation guidelines that may apply to your event. Supply a contact for reporting issues.

Your event will go more smoothly it you supply introductory materials about Wikidata and specific, task-focused instructions in advance, even if only a fraction of attendees have read or viewed them before you meet. See below for more about instructions and tutorials.

Recruit helpers[edit]

Recruiting experienced Wikidata editors and other volunteers for specific tasks can help the event run smoothly.

  • Experienced Wikidata editors can help answer questions, demonstrate tools, and work one-on-one with attendees if needed.
  • If you're using a specialized data source, such as archival finding aids, a domain-specific database, or other reference sources that editathon participants may not be familiar with, helpers with knowledge of your data can assist participants even if they're not experienced Wikidata editors themselves.
  • In a virtual event, other volunteers can solve technical difficulties, monitor communication channels, and facilitate discussion.
  • In person, they can assist with set up and clean up.

Create some items in advance (maybe)[edit]

If your edit-a-thon's outcomes include creating Wikidata items, test your instructions in advance by creating a small number of items from scratch.

  • Create an item (or two) that demonstrate use of all the properties in your project documentation and include model reference statements. Have these ready as examples for edit-a-thon participants.
  • Try to anticipate where participants may encounter bottlenecks in the workflow. Does creating one item necessitate creating many? Are there ways to divide up the work between editors?
  • Will many statements need to point to things that aren't yet represented as Wikidata items, such as reference sources that you're supplying to attendees? Consider creating items for these in advance.
  • Are there materials that you can create in advance to make your planned tasks easier for editors?
    • Work lists: existing items to enrich (try using Listeria or Integraality) or new items to create (consider a Google spreadsheet that everyone can update)
    • Lists of expected values: instance types, genres, places, occupations related to your project's subject matter
    • Ask an edit-a-thon helper to try out your instructions in advance and suggest what else may be needed

Provide refreshments (literal or figurative)[edit]

While it's impractical to provide snacks and beverages to a remote-only event, give some thought to keeping editors feeling energized and connected while they're doing solo work. For example: Can you create a playlist of thematic music in advance and share it on Spotify? You may also want to consider offering to mail small ‘swag’ items, e.g. badges, bookmarks, pens and stickers to attendees after the event, to reward them for their efforts, these items may available from your national Wikimedia chapter, or you could design and get items made for your project if you have funds for these.

How will you promote your event?[edit]

Identify your target audience of editors and the best ways to reach them. Be sure to include the time zone and language of the event in the messages you distribute.

Topical experts and enthusiasts[edit]

Reach subject matter experts through:

  • Mailing lists
  • Telegram or Slack channels
  • Facebook groups
  • Social connections who can help spread the word
  • Library and university forums or newsletters
  • Topical forums or newsletters
  • Blog posts
  • Media outlets

Wikimedia community members[edit]

Reach the Wikimedia community through:

  • Mailing lists
  • Telegram channels
  • Facebook Groups
  • WikiProject pages
  • Contact editors directly
  • Promote your event on Wikidata:Events

How will you provide basic Wikidata training as well as a workflow for your event?[edit]

Introductory materials about Wikidata are crucial for new editors and specific, task-focused instructions are helpful for everyone.

For asynchronous training, you can supply links to videos, hands-on tours, and other online training resources in preliminary materials sent to participants. It can be helpful to provide live demos and field questions in introductory online sessions. For in-person or hybrid events, in-person demos and on-on-one help are also possible.

Introductory Wikidata topics to cover[edit]

  • Introduction to Wikidata as a concept
  • Review of the structure of a Wikidata item
  • How to create and add statements to a Wikidata item
  • How and when to add references to statements

See Planning A Wikidata Workshop for more ideas about tailoring your tutorials to your participants' needs.

Project- or edit-a-thon-specific materials[edit]

  • Share documentation such as recommended properties for each type of item that you expect participants to create or edit during the event. The sheer number of possible properties to use can be daunting to new editors. Experienced editors may want to ask questions in advance, and it's easier to bring newcomers on board without a lengthy ontology discussion at the outset of your event.
  • Consider recording one or more short instructional videos demonstrating tasks attendees will perform during the actual event, such as creating a new item of specific instance type. While many new editors will show up eager to learn all about Wikidata, they will be able to start working toward editathon goals sooner and more easily if they have a step-by-step demo of a specific task or workflow to refer to. This is especially true for online-only edit-a-thons.
  • If you're using a specialized data source that participants might not know how to navigate, demonstrate using it in your presentation or videos. For example, if you're asking attendees to refer to archival finding aids, ask an archivist to show how to find and use them.

In an online or hybrid event, how will you communicate and answer questions during the event?[edit]

For short, small-scale events, live video chat such as Zoom may be the simplest solution.

For a longer event or a larger group, a text chat platform such as Discord, Slack, or Mattermost may be more effective.

  • Consider opening signup a day or two in advance of your event.
  • Create a space for introductions, and encourage participants to sign up, log in, say hello, and troubleshoot as needed before your event begins.
  • Some may find a high-volume chat space invigorating, while others may find it distracting or hard to follow. Depending on the scale of your event, consider creating channels for specific subgroups, topics, or tasks.
  • A specific channel for social chitchat or sharing may provide space for participants to connect with each other, and keep other channels task-focused and easy to navigate. If you're running a music-themed editathon, for example, consider providing a channel just for sharing playlists and other music videos.

Provide alternative communication channels, if possible, for participants who need help getting into your primary communication platform, or don't wish to sign up for another account. This can be as simple as providing an email address and assigning a helper to monitor it.

Set up mechanisms for tracking, displaying, and assessing progress[edit]

Set up an event dashboard[edit]

Create a dashboard to track statistics for your event, and ask participants to join it as part of the signup process. All their edits will be tracked as contributions to your event during the window of time that you specify.

Develop queries and visualizations[edit]

Create a SPARQL query whose results will grow as your editathon creates items or adds statements. This can be a simple list that shows items and key properties, or it can be a visualization such as a map or graph that shows some aspect of your progress, such as geographic coverage, connections between items, or the presence of images. Plan to show participants how the data they're creating can be used, even if there isn't time for a tutorial on creating queries. For those with little or no experience in SPARQL, you may wish to use Wikidata Query Builder.

Work lists consisting of existing Wikidata items to edit can be generated using your queries in tools such as Listeria or Integraality.

Assess data quality[edit]

After your event, you may want to review the items that were created and edited to determine where cleanup may be needed, or determine what future events may need to work on or do differently. If you've already created a query to list items you edited, you can paste this into the Item Quality Evaluator to get ORES scores for those items.


[[1]] offer assistance and functionality for editing Wikidata items. These are focused and topical instruments with specific functions. Some making editing and adding descriptions, others are focused on adding items to Wikidata. Depending on your audience, tools and gadgets can help enhance your event and make editing more efficient. Some participants who are new to Wikidata may find direct editing to be intimidating, and introducing tools can make Wikidata easier to understand, use, and edit. There are also distinctions for dedicated “Tools,” and Wikidata “Scripts” that need to be activated before use.

Best Practices[edit]

  • Provide tutorials on any Tools used in the event to your participant.
    • Use screencapture software like Kaltura to demonstrate exactly how it can be used.
    • Include written/step-by-step documentation if possible.
  • Include information on how and why it is being used.
  • Have an alternative approach in case the Tool doesn’t work day-of the event.

Helpful tools[edit]

  • AltLabels: A script (needs to be activated before use) that will insert common labels for an item if no label exists in your current language.
  • Listeria is a Wikidata tool that uses SPARQL queries to define a list of items, and provides a bot (ListeriaBot) that will update a wiki page containing that list whenever the results of that SPARQL query change. Integraality is a tool that works in a similar way to produce tables showing property coverage for categories of items.
  • Mix-n-Match: Searches Wikidata for each entry in a catalog or dataset and looks for an existing item. This is an excellent tool if the goal of your event is to look for and create missing items in Wikidata. Participants can either examine the 'Preliminarily Matched' list to confirm or remove matches made by Mix'n'Match, or search through the 'Unmatched' list and search for matches manually. If an item does not exist, participants can easily create a new item with some information automatically populated from the catalog. Ahead of the event, you can choose an existing catalog to work on, or upload your own.
  • Quickstatements: Transforms tabular data to Wikidata statements. Useful for making bulk edits.
  • OpenRefine: software for manipulating data that can integrate with Wikidata in multiple ways.
    • Reconciling: searches Wikidata for items matching individual entries. Can be helpful for finding missing entries that participants can create and work on.
    • Data manipulation: Make data compatible with other tools, such as Mix-n-Match, or create statements for use with Quickstatements.
      • Ex: The Graphic Possibilities team used OpenRefine to clean metadata from the MSU Comic Arts Collection and reformat it to be compatible with Mix'n'match. The team then used Mix-n-Match in its Fall 2020 and 2021 edit-a-thons to have users search for authors and publishers from the collection and create missing entities.
  • Shared Document Spaces: While this is not a tool unique to Wikidata, shared document spaces allow for coordinators to share instructions, schedules, and helpful links, as well as allows participants to add documentation, outstanding items or cases, troubleshooting issues, additional links/resources, and best practices as they arise. Ex: Google Docs.
  • Item Quality Evaluator: evaluates the quality of a list of items, either in the form of a list of Q numbers or a SPARQL query; giving each a score out of 5. This is a great tool for finding items you want participants to work on, or assessing edits at the end of your event.
  • Wikidata Query Builder is a visual interface for building a simple Wikidata query for users with little or no experience of SPARQL.

Other helpful tools may be found at Toolforge.


Gadgets are plug-ins to enhance Wikidata display and editing. To add gadgets, go to the Preferences page while logged in and click the "Gadgets" tab.

Some useful gadgets to enable:

This is what it looks like to add today's date in Wikidata using the currentDate Gadget. It works with the retrieved (P813) property, which is usually a qualifier for Web link references.
This is what it looks like to add references with the DuplicateReferences Gadget enabled. When it is enabled, you will see a copy link next to a reference that has been added, and an insert reference link will appear as an option in the add reference space
  • currentDate: Automatically adds the date of today while using the property retrieved (P813). See GIF →
  • DuplicateReferences: Adds a link to copy references and add them to other statements on the same item. See GIF →
  • Recoin: Displays an icon at the top of the page representing the relative completeness of the item's information, and adds a dropdown list of the most relevant properties not present in the item description.
  • QuickEditCounter: Add a counter with the total number of edits you have made to your Contributions page.

User Scripts[edit]

User scripts are short computer scripts written by Wikidata users that give additional functionality to the Wikidata user interface. Users can list the scripts they would like to add on a special page. Access your own special page via Special:Mypage/common.js, which will redirect you to your own common.js page to add scripts. Step by step slides with screenshots. Some scripts you may find helpful:

  • IdentifierInput script lets you paste in a full URL value for an identifier property and automatically strips the URL down to the identifier
  • Rearrange the order of values in a statement to an order you prefer
importScript( 'User:Tohaomg/rearrange_values.js' );



Boston Rock City edit-a-thon, May, 2021[edit]

Graphic Possibilities, Dept. of English, Michigan State University[edit]

Gruppo Wikidata per Musei, Archivi e Biblioteche (Wikidata Group for Museums, Archives and Libraries), University of Pavia[edit]

The NYU Soul of Reason Wikipedia + Wikidata Edit-a-thon: Celebrating Black culture with AfroCROWD and the Wikimedia Community[edit]

Questions and ideas[edit]