Motivating volunteers and retaining newcomers – case study of Wikimedia Ukraine’s “wiki condensed milk” program
08-18, 08:55–09:00 (UTC), Plenary Hall
Language: English

Motivating and retaining Wikimedia volunteers is one of the most important tasks for affiliates and community leaders. A small, fun initiative in this space is Wikimedia Ukraine’s “wiki condensed milk” program. This session will give a brief overview of the program & its lessons for other communities.

The tradition to show appreciation to Wikipedia editors with virtual barnstars is almost as old as our community itself. On Ukrainian Wikipedia, volunteer editors adapted this custom by giving out virtual tins of condensed milk.

Twelve years ago, Wikimedia Ukraine took the initiative offline and started sending out real-life tins of condensed milk. Today, it remains the organization’s “cutest project”, in the words of one community member, helping us retain new volunteers and show appreciation to experienced editors and administrators.

The idea is to identify most active users over the past month – divided separately by the categories of newbies and experienced users – and offer them to send a physical package containing condensed milk and Wikipedia-branded souvenirs. In 2022, we rewarded over 80 users – and the program has continued operation even during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.

(For more information about the program, see its page on Wikimedia Ukraine’s wiki:

My aim for this lightning talk is to:
* give a brief overview of the “wiki condensed milk” program;
* reflect on the program’s opportunities for motivating experienced volunteers and attracting newcomers;
* offer advice for other communities who would benefit from a similar initiative

What is the experience level needed for the audience for your session?

Some experience will be needed

How will you deliver this session?

In-person, live: The speaker or speakers will all be onsite in Singapore

How does your session relate to the event themes: Diversity, Collaboration, Future?

This program helps foster diversity by helping motivate and retain volunteers, including newcomers, particularly those who might face struggles while making their initial contributions.

See also: Presentation slides

Anton Protsiuk is Programs Coordinator at Wikimedia Ukraine, where he is responsible for overseeing the organization’s programmatic activities, such as content campaigns, diversity and editor recruitment initiatives, community events, and communications outreach. In his volunteer capacity he's also an editor and administrator of Ukrainian Wikipedia.

(Photo: MeOlya, public domain)

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