Feedback from New Editors
I think this is an absolutely fantastic thing, and thank you for it. Welcome to Wikimedia! Would you be willing to share your initial experiences? What kept you around and what could have scared you away?
One thing I did was to create a Wikipedia article for a number which was redlinked in a chart. I was upset to find my article rejected, as I did not initially understand notability. It took me about twenty minutes of talking to others on the help chat room thingy (I forget what it's called) to figure out why redlinks don't need to have articles created for them. I thought that making stubs would be better than having redlinks, and felt very discouraged to be informed otherwise. The basic problem is we don't know where to start editing. It feels like every time you make a contribution, you worry someone will tell you how bad it is. There's no shallow end, and jumping in at the deep end is not very appealing.
I am sort of a new user. I created my account years ago, but have very seldom done any edits. Mostly because markup is just not for me. In the meantime, I've participated in a couple of discussion pages. On one of them an experienced user was downright hostile from the very start. As if I was being a naughty kid or I was disrupting the article on purpose. I hadn't done any changes, I was just suggesting it be done. As I see it I had a logic argument that would suffice anywhere in the world. What they told me (or what I interpreted I was being told) was that according to WP policies my argument meant nothing. I found that profoundly unfair and frustrating. Add to that the fact that this editor were completely uncivil and hostile from the start and it's miracle I'm still here. A second experience was slightly civil. Once again I posted a comment on a discussion page of an article suggesting a change. This time a very civil experienced editor showed me the ropes and give all kinds of information on WP policy to explain why this change was unfitting. I did my homework, followed all the links, read them, ask questions to other users and came back to argue my case just to be confronted with a veiled threat that I was rocking the boat for no good and it may have repercussions. As I've never been blocked before and I don't intend to be, I just gave up. From then, I drifted towards the conflict-solving pages in WP. I thought I might be part of the solution instead of the problem. To my surprise I found the editor from the first story I recounted (easily a couple of years after I first crossed paths with him or her) in a wikiquette alert. All administrators participating in the discussion wanted nothing to be done, as this was an experienced user and a new user should know better than upsetting an experienced user. That is my experience as a new user, and this is the reason why I don't really contribute to article writing, except for correcting a typo here and there. Also, the site is not user friendly and it's really hard to A)find a project where to participate and B)learn how to actually participate. Help pages and templates should be written in really easy English, not the opposite. Asinthior 14:19, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
I can understand that, Asinthior. I don't think that more experienced editors should have "Diplomatic Immunity", so to speak. On the other hand, more experienced editors should hold benefit of the doubt/innocent until proven guilty. This testimony is evidence for the necessity of the Assume Good Faith policy.
Couldn't agree more, as long as one keeps on sight the fact that experienced users shouldn't be given more "benefit of the doubt" than new users. I mean, even when an experienced user has a good track record, he can still lose his cool and be despotic once (although I would argue some make a habit of it, creating a pattern of abuse). If that were the case, he should at least be sanctioned as a new user would be, if not harder. After all, they are abusing their position and experienced to harass new comers. It's like they are committing a double fault: they are being uncivil or hostile and they are abusing their power (their relationship to other moderators, their experience with WP policies, their know-how in general) to do it.
I also showed up and edited a few pages. One, the page for the CETME Model C, got completely re-written to be about the company, rather than the rifle. Did the old (useful) information get moved to a sub-page? Nope. Just deleted.
Welcome to Wikipedia.
You can tell by my editing history since then how successful that welcome was. Did I make some newbie mistakes? Sure. Did anyone offer to help correct them? Nope. I'd like to go back and make the CETME page useful at some point, but where's the payoff? At the time it was pretty obvious to me that my contribution was not welcome.
Wikipedia's useful, but take a look at the Metafilter discussion page about this topic if you want to see some comments from other editors that have not been retained. I'd still like to help wikipedia succeed, but I think the fifteen or twenty minutes I spent putting this reply together is about all I'm willing to contribute at this point.