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Proposal:Embedded live user assistance

From Strategic Planning
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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

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

Mockup with Online assistance in another browser window


The first experience of new users is crucial for keeping our biggest asset; the contributors to our projects. But more often than not, especially due to the growing complexity in the processes, newbies get seriously frustrated by their lack of knowledge of these processes.

This proposal suggest the idea of experienced users offering newbies and users in general online help when they request it.


Together with the several options given to the users, a "Online Assistance" button would give editors the chance to contact a volunteer "Online Helper" in a web-embedded chat window in order to clarify doubts on how things work. Such an option should be very visible for new users, but a user should be able to hide it if not needed any more.

Experienced users (definition to be consented) can apply for Online Assistance staff, and will have a special page where they will get the help request (probably round robin among all logged helpers).

After a consulting, helped users can choose to give feedback on the help process, the helper person, etc.

Of course, this will be an additional source of vandalism, as the helped users give their feedback, helping staff can mark users as "not-worth-of-help". "N" such tags would disable the Online Assistance option for that user/IP.


The growing complexity of both the wikiMedia software and the particular policies in each project makes it very had for new users to join, seriously limiting the growing possibilities of Wikimedia projects.

Similar functionality exist through the use of OTRS and IRC channels, but those are not user/newbie frendly.

Key Questions

  • Will we have enough volunteers to cover the potentially enormous number of requests?
  • Will the users needing the help actually request it?
  • Are these conversations to be logged?
    Publicly available or only on review?

Potential Costs

  • Development of Online Help for wikiMedia: Embedded chat window, options form, extra-button, matching helper/helped logic.
  • Helping [experienced] users spending more time helping and less time actually contributing to the projects contents.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Embedded live user assistance.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. .. Sign your name here!