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Proposal:Accelerating the learning curve for new editors

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This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership.
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation.


Setup a voluntary school for new editors where they can learn how to contribute to Wikipedia. A curriculum would be developed, and a few core lessons would be mandatory for users who decide to participate, while a large proportion of the lessons would be elective depending on the interests of the new editor. This would allow new editors to overcome the barrier of Wikipedia being to difficult to use. By attaching the school to an achievement system that would publish awards on user pages for lessons learned, new editors may find it more attractive to contribute permanently or over longer periods of time.


New editors need to learn two things to be able to contribute to Wikipedia: Policies and Procedures, and Formatting (Markup) and Template use. At the moment there is an adoption program in place on the English Wikipedia. One of the pitfalls is that the attitude of most adopters is "send me a message if you need help". While this works fine, the approach by other adopters such as Hersfold and Worm That Turned of having a program that the adoptee has to complete has merits of its own.
What I propose is designing a similar (but more extensive and complex) program that covers Wikipedia policies as well as editing, collaboration tools and many more subjects that a full-fledged Wikipedia editor needs to know. The program would be part of an achievement system that would publish awards for each level passed as userboxes in the user's page. New users would be prompted by the system to participate voluntarily in the program (or do it later on, or not at all). The program should be presented in a similar way to a wizard, i.e. the user wouldn't need to navigate from one page to another, just click next. Summarized information from Wikipedia policy pages would be presented and after reading a section, multiple choice questions would need to be answered. If the answer is correct, the user is awarded on his or her user page.
Concerning edition, new editors could be left to learn different topics, depending on their personal preferences and what they want to do in Wikipedia. For example, users interested in "beautifying" articles could focus on inserting images, making tables, etc. Users more interested in more "administrative" chores could learn how RfC or mediation works. Editors that want to improve articles could learn how projects work, find a project suitable to their interests and join it. At any point a user may jump from one pathway to another, keeping the awards (not to mention the acquired skills).
As you can note, the dynamic would be similar to a game, where players complete levels and get special abilities in return. In this case, users would attain real abilities that they may use to edit Wikipedia (and awards on their user pages in the form of userboxes stating their attained degree of expertise in a topic). If we would like to maximize the game facet of the training, new editors could choose the pathway of one of the classic Wikifauna. For example, they could decide to be a Wikielf and focus their learning on tasks such as mediating disputes among others.
Thus, we would not only address concerns that Wikipedia is too difficult to use for new editors (because they would need to read several pages of text to become familiar to what they need to do) but also concerns stated elsewhere on this site that people spend less time editing Wikipedia because they spend more time in more entertaining sites such as Facebook (where you can find games that automatically post player accomplishments to the user profile).


New editors retention is down and a minority of experienced editors seemed to have grabbed a hold on Wikipedia. While they seem to be done fine at the moment, this situation is not sustainable over time. Two factors may influence this situation:

  1. New users feel mistreated by experienced users (whether because experienced users delete content created by new users, because experienced users have access to administrative procedures to push their opinions over those of new users, or because experienced users have no patience for -or are plain uncivil to- new users)
  2. New users find Wikipedia too difficult to use (whether because administrative procedures need a lot of reading to get familiar with or because markup is not as simple to use as other internet-based graphic user interface)

Key Questions

  1. There is mentoring on some wikis. On those wikis you want them to be mandatory?
    Nothing on WP is mandatory, but instead voluntary. What I propose is to offer an automated and standardized "mentorship" where newcomers can receive all the information they might need in digestible-sized bits and in a fun way.
  2. Do you want it to be like the Article creator on wikipedia or how?
    Similar, but simpler to navigate. It should be clear from the beginning what topic you'll learn, and have it divided in lessons at the end of which you should be able to answer a question or solve a problem before going to the next lesson. Also, people should navigate using a universal "NEXT" button. When I see several tabs with different names, I skip the ones that I think I won't need, but I'm not certain I don't need them. I skip them nonetheless because there are so many of them I don't think I will have the time to read them all. The smaller the lesson, the less time the editor has to invest. He can have another lesson next time he or she logs on. If lessons are useful and fun (remember they would work with an achievement program) they will come back for more.
  3. Will there still be user mentors?
    I guess so, the two systems need not be mutually exclusive. Mentors could stay in a go-to capacity. When users don't know what to do, they can ask them.
  4. What about the needs of the newbies? Like a newbie that needs more help or good at one thing but not another.
    On the one hand the programs should be classified in topics that appeal to the newbie, so he can decide early on what he wants to learn according to his or her own interests. On the other hand, if he needs additional help, a mentor can come into play. As I said before, the mentors can stay right where they are.

Potential Costs

Developing code to make this work in a semi-automatic way. New users would just need to click on lessons they want to learn, click on a "next" button to navigate through different screens with information they need to review. Also, the contents of help pages and informative pages need to be overhauled to make it more simple to read and understand without previous knowledge from other pages, so that they would fit into discrete lessons that build upon each previous lesson.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Accelerating the learning curve for new editors.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. User:Ebe123
  2. .. Sign your name here!