Submissions/A Culture of Kindness

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2014.

Scheduled for Sunday, August 10, 15:30, Auditorium 1.

Submission no.


A Culture of Kindness: Presentation by Fabrice Florin at Wikimania Social Machines Weekend.

Title of the submission
Growing a Culture of Kindness
Date / Time
Sunday, 10 August at 15:30 GMT - Auditorium 1
Notepad: Add your comments!
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Fabrice Florin
E-mail address
Fabrice Florin (WMF)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog


How can we grow a culture of kindness in the Wikimedia movement?

Despite our best intentions, participating on Wikipedia can be a frustrating experience for most newcomers and even for experienced editors, due to a lack of civility among some of our members. Uncivil or hostile behavior tends to turn away many qualified individuals who would love to contribute to our cause, and it harms us all. How can we learn as a movement to be nicer to each other?

In this short presentation and during the Q&A, we will aim to identify root causes for this issue, and discuss a few possible solutions that could address this cultural challenge over time.

Here are a few ideas we could discuss together. Many of these came from Wikimania conference attendees over the past couple years, when I asked them ‘How can we improve Wikipedia?’ and took photos of their suggestions (see thumbnails to the right and this full gallery on my profile page).

Software tools

Simple features like the Thanks notification can help encourage kindness in subtle but powerful ways. Other software tools could help invite more civil interactions, such as a better discussion system like Flow), real user profiles, or user avatars.

Recognize kindness

Identify people who treat others nicely, show them appreciation, reward their acts of kindness, celebrate them as role models, encourage them to show others how to the same. Kindness can be contagious!

Help for newbies

Be more encouraging to new users, improve the way we welcome new contributors, let them know they can help, show them easy, fun things to do. This can be done through community programs like ‘teahouse’, as well as through technical solutions like personalized to-do lists.

Diversify our community

Reach out to groups of people who are under-represented in our community, such as women, or content experts, and help them feel more at home in our movement. The hope is that these diverse user groups could balance out and civilize the more socially-challenged factions in our midst. Women often play that role in the real world, and could make a big difference if only we could make them feel welcome in our male-centric community.

Editor training and rewards

Provide training programs to current editors to invite them to be kinder in their interactions with other editors and newbies. This is easier said than done, as many editors don't feel like they need to be trained or don't have the time for this. But everyone can benefit from a bit of coaching when it comes to empathy and emotional intelligence, and perhaps this could be combined with some form of reward to make it worth their while. Just a thought.

Better communication channels

Use more user-friendly communication channels, ranging from face-to-face meetings to video conferences -- or other ways to humanize how we interact with each other — and move beyond text-only channels that don’t convey emotions or body language very well.

Give readers a voice

Make it easier for readers to give feedback and contribute to our movement. As our largest user group and primary beneficiary, our readers can help make useful suggestions for improvement, as well as let us know if our content is helpful or not. Giving them a voice could also help make them feel part of our movement, and eventually engage them as future contributors. This could be done through special Flow-enabled pages, or through some simple survey tools.

Persistent identity

One way to curb malicious behavior is to require users to have a persistent identity, with some form of registration that goes beyond IP addresses — even if it’s just a proto-account. This idea is still controversial in our movement, but worth considering if we seriously want to improve the current state of affairs.


Provide some form of indication as to how a user’s online behavior is perceived by his or her community, so that others can determine how to engage with that user. This too is a very controversial idea in our movement, but maybe the time has come to take a closer look at it as a possible remedy.

Some of these ideas are easier to do than others, some of them are more controversial. But I believe most of them could make a difference towards encouraging a kinder, more civil behavior within our movement.

I hope to discuss these ideas with you very soon!

WikiCulture & Community
Length of session
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)

see photo gallery below, with suggestions from Wikimania participants

Video on Youtube

Special requests

Ideas for Inviting Kindness on Wikipedia

More photos in this full gallery of ideas on how to improve Wikipedia.

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

  1. --Ziko (talk) 18:26, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  2. KrystleChung (talk) 19:23, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  3. JackHerrick (talk) 21:23, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Anna wH (talk) 22:41, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  5. --Lydia Pintscher (WMDE) (talk) 22:47, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  6. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 23:32, 31 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  7. --Valentin Muenscher (WMDE) (talk) 07:18, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Spinster (talk) 19:45, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Trizek (talk) 07:26, 2 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Yes, definitely! We need more kindness in our movement ^___^ Percy Plush (talk) 08:46, 2 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Ocaasi (talk) 22:48, 6 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  12. SarahStierch (talk) 19:16, 7 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Quiddity (talk) 23:04, 12 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  14. the wub "?!" 22:31, 13 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Micru (talk) 19:24, 14 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Shani Evenstein (talk) 15:16, 17 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Djembayz (talk) 12:50, 18 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Denis Barthel (WMDE) (talk) 16:41, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  19. -- Dirk Franke (WMDE) (talk) 17:19, 25 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  20. Romaine (talk) 13:28, 26 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  21. --Elitre (talk) 14:14, 27 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  22. Thehelpfulone 00:29, 30 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  23. Slowking4 (talk) 22:13, 30 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  24. --Everton137 (talk) 13:36, 18 May 2014 (UTC) I won't go to Wikimania, but I wish to watch this online later![reply]
  25. Raystorm (talk) 14:38, 19 May 2014 (UTC) Very interested.[reply]
  26. AWang (WMF) (talk) 17:07, 19 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  27. Lisbk (talk) 08:39, 26 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  28. Very close to my research interests, so definitely! --Sky Harbor (talk) 15:26, 27 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  29. --Хомелка (talk) 10:11, 1 June 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  30. Valhallasw (talk) 19:20, 1 June 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  31. Joelaldor (talk) 02:49, 12 June 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  32. Marcio De Assis (talk) 22:35, 18 June 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  33. Masssly (talk) 12:46, 5 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  34. Mervat Salman (talk) 21:25, 24 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  35. Of course! Trizek (talk) 07:19, 25 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  36. Grijz (talk) 20:27, 3 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]