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This page describes essential personas for people registering on Wikipedia. While these personas are built around imaginary people, they are grounded in the kinds of activities that are most common on the site for newly-registered contributors.

What's in these (and why)[edit]

Key items
The dimensions for these personas
  • What is the person's objective? It's unlikely that many people are visiting the account creation page and filling out the form just to try it out. Even if all they want is a placeholder account that never edits, users have an objective.
  • What task are they trying to accomplish, if any? This is different than a person's general reason for registering. Since many accounts never take any action on the site, we can't assume that everyone has a specific activity in mind. For those who do, we need to understand what it might be.
  • What experience do they have with Wikipedia? Since accounts have long been assumed to be primarily for editors, each persona makes clear whether this person has edited previously or not.
  • Dimensions: in addition a quick paragraph summarizing who these personas are and what they want to do, we've broken them down into somewhat binary dimensions, to try and put things on a scale that is more clear cut. The dimensions are the following:
    Experience editing: Reader – Anonymous editor – Active editor
    Interest in editing: No clear interest – Interested, but not sure what to do – Has a task in mind
    Understanding of account benefits: Unaware of benefits – Interested in finding out – Knows benefits
Things left out (for now)
  • All possible reasons for account creation. Lots of people may actually be registering sockpuppets, role accounts, or to use features in an unintended way (such as to suppress fundraising banners). The purpose of personas is to clarify who we want to design for, so unless we want to encourage or discourage these types of activities, then personas aren't necessary.
  • Demographic data like age, nationality, occupation, or their preferences in technology. While we do have a rough idea of Wikipedia editing demographics from the annual Editor Survey, these surveys only reflect successful editors, not necessarily all types seeking to register an account. That's okay, since demographics are generally more useful if we were trying to market something to these people. Instead, we are trying to help them successfully complete the task.
  • Data about the prevalence of each persona. We don't currently have comprehensive measurements of how many people creating accounts fall into each of these archetypes. We have a few sources, such as survey data and click-tracking data on the account creation page, which can help us infer whether these types of users are in fact common or not. Part of the goal of separating out these personas is for us to try and focus on getting good data about how much we should be building features before, during, and after registration to support these different objectives.

List of personas[edit]

Nora is a reader who wants to join Wikipedia. She might have left feedback on an article, and theoretically understands that anyone can edit, but doesn't yet have an idea of how she can contribute. Nora might be registering because she's curious about the benefits of an account,[1] or just because she usually registers for sites she likes.[2]
Adam is a reader who wants to edit Wikipedia. Maybe he saw an error or something incomplete,[3] but either way he knows that he wants to contribute to Wikipedia. Adam might assume that an account is required to edit,[4] or he might have decided he simply likes the benefits of logging in before he started editing.[5]
Max is an anonymous editor who wants to join Wikipedia. He's made a few edits already, perhaps in an intentional effort to kick the tires, and has decided that he'd like an account before contributing more. It's possible he has reviewed the benefits of registering, and has decided some particular aspect is appealing, like having contributions attributed to his username.[5]
Sarah is a reader who was required to join Wikipedia in order to accomplish a task she's interested in. She might want to edit a protected page, start a new article, or upload media.[6][7][8] Whichever it is, Sarah figured out that to do so, she'd have to register. What she wants most is to get through registration quickly, so that she can get back to what she was doing.


  1. Respondents who said they were "just curious" comprised 18% of respondents to the ACIP survey.
  2. 24% of respondents to the ACIP survey said this was true for them
  3. In the 2011 Editor Survey, 64% of those asked said that they joined because they "saw an error and wanted to fix it". 50% said that they "knew a lot about a subject that was poorly covered".
  4. 27% of respondents in to the ACIP survey thought than an account was required to edit, though they may have been trying to edit a semi-protected pages (and would thus be "Sarah" types).
  5. 5.0 5.1 23% of ACIP survey respondents said that they thought they would get extra features after logging in
  6. More than 30% of respondents to the ACIP survey said they wanted to accomplish one these tasks
  7. Semi-protected articles comprised 20% of the top 50 direct referrers in a recent 24-hour sample from English Wikipedia.
  8. "Wikipedia:Articles for creation", "Wikipedia:Starting an article", and "Wikipedia:Your first article" were all in the top 20 direct referrers to account creation a recent 24-hour sample from English Wikipedia

Associated research[edit]