Feedback from New Editors
Also see Thread:Talk:March 2011 Update/The first experience for new users to the English Wikipedia-the initial post mentions several articles I had to think about to figure out the meanings of, proving the man's point. I've never read any of those articles all the way through, and I've only really looked much at the notability article, and then to find out why I had an article rejected on those grounds. He is right about seeing your first thing deleted--often, you get no explanation other than "Rejected-see Wikipedia: Notability" or some such unhelpful little red box at the top. Another thing I've found really annoying is the fact that common sense/personal knowledge is not a source. I can understand that, but I also know that the last thing I want to do is to go find a source for something I already know (like the fact that numbers evenly divisible by two are multiples of two and thus integers). I am willing to learn how to source, but I've met no one willing to teach me how to source. For that matter, I haven't met anyone except briefly. This is the first time I've actually held a good conversation. The chat room thing is great, but it isn't as helpful as this is. Usually you have to try to follow 2-3 different discussions there, and determine who you're talking with and whether they're responding to you or one of half a dozen other people.
All - Just out of curiosity, I dropped by Bronsonboy's talk page. The only thing there was the bot-generated rejected article note. That's an appalling way to treat a new editor, and I am embarrased on behalf of the community that we can't do better than that.
Bronsonboy - Thanks very much for posting your experiences here, and sticking with us.
Thanks for pointing that out, PKM... you're absolutely right. I dropped a welcome template with a series of my favorite links on your talk page as well, Bronsonboy, and - like PKM - I thank you for sharing your experience.
Last edit: 04:56, 14 March 2011
Glad to share, guys. Thanks for the template, Philippe. Could a bot be made to place that template on all new editors' talk pages?
As to the bot-generated rejection notice, PKM's comment was the first time I heard anything that would indicate to me that that is not the accepted norm. Perhaps it would be possible to create some sort of notification to whoever generates notices like that telling them when it is a new editor, so they would know to offer a bit more explanation? -Bronsonboy
- (replying here for brevity) The bot-welcome idea has been rejected months ago: not all new usernames are actually new users. Many people just forget their username or password, then create another username every few days, and avoid being stalked by troublemakers who try to "psych-profile" them. Hence, when a new user is spotted in making rough edits, someone might decide to welcome them. Unfortunately, like life in the big city, beware meeting charming strangers: a person might pretend to truly welcome you, with promises of cooperation, perhaps getting you to reveal some private thoughts, then flip-out as jekyll-hyde in a debate with you, broadcasting your private viewpoint in a twisted way to others to totally humiliate you and win not just the argument, but the laughter of others who see you as totally insulted. That is just one form of utterly demented sick power-games being played by mental cases on English Wikipedia. Unfortunately, it is a psycho magnet for bizarre people, like showing your new car to a group of "average people" and having one person jump on the hood to say what great shock-absorbers, or another person gulp a beer and vomit down the side, while someone else spits on the window and they say, "Sorry, man, the wind...". For that reason, many people have requested that Wikipedia change to a trusted-user environment, with growing levels of access, so that demented users would be stopped before they vomit in too many articles. Unfortunately, if new users are told that it is really a Sickopedia-Wackopedia, then they are likely to be scared away, so the ugly truth is avoided most of the time. The hope for the future is to transition to trusted-user access, where new usernames would be limited to editing rare articles, and users would need to show long-term evidence of a balanced mental state to be allowed higher access. -Wikid77 04:56, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
No, please. That would destroy the whole point of its being a wiki and would definitively pinch off growth to a trickle. And illustrates fairly neatly the jump from "Vandals are a problem" to biting newcomers.
In addition, Wikipedia really needs to decide whether it wants continuing growth in number of articles, coverage of topics impacted by systemic bias, and for that matter expansion of placeholder 1-line stubs on things nobody has got around to yet - or whether it's more important to emulate Britannica and say "Can't have everything, quality is more important" and thereby lose unknown quantities of stuff none of the existing power editors knows about. I find the latter boring - that's why I edit.
Also, you're agreeing with my point about there being significant multi-ID use; which significantly messes up the stats.
I wish there were more here - and in other discussions - about the "Do we want new articles" issue. There's a widespread belief, not only among "deletionists", that the easy/needed/important articles have been written. That is simply not so. There are a staggering number of redlinks in medieval and renaissance history. Several Olympic medallists have fallen to the scythe of the recent unreferenced BLP deletion pushes, and looking at the NewPages page, I see specialists creating vast numbers of articles on older sports figures and figures in non-Olympic sports, so I know there are still gaps in our sports coverage. I know there are redlinks for older seasons in certain leagues and circuits. Despite the predictable problem of PR people creating articles on businesses, I know we are spotty on businesses, too, especially those that went out of business or were bought up more than a decade or two ago - in general, recentism is a big problem, but there are any number of reference works and other sources that make remedying it in such areas as sport and business not very hard. In addition, I find foreign-language Wikipedias a tremendous source of ideas for articles, and that goes double for the non-English Wikipedias, which started later. But it also goes for en., where our coverage of German and French companies is shockingly bad. (And not only companies. en.wikipedia has only 2 articles on stations on the Vienna U-Bahn.) Then there are all the landmark buildings in every country, all the pre-20th-century literary works ... redlinks abound. Also, new notable people and topics are emerging all the time. Not just news events, but tv and movie stars, technology products, styles of music . . . it would be easier if the newspapers weren't so determined to prevent us from seeing them online and using them for refs, but it really isn't that hard to see that we have only scratched the surface of the mineface here.
The projects seem at times to only pay lip service to the "It's about content" mantra. And I repeat, "content" does include expanding those placeholder stubs. They're an embarrassment.
Actually, Yngvadottir, the "low-hanging fruit" metaphor works exactly well for the "medieval and renaissance history. Several Olympic medallists have fallen to the scythe of the recent unreferenced BLP deletion pushes". In order to write articles on these subjects, one cannot simply rely on Google searches or plundering an encyclopedia or two for material. One has to go to the library (you know, that building most towns have that is full of books & magazines), & do research. Doing that is hard -- sometimes harder than the writing -- often is unsuccessful, & until you learn enough about the subject is too often just wandering around in the darkness & hoping you don't fall into a ditch.
But the education system is supposed teach people how to do research, but apparently don't any more -- if they ever did. Anyone here under 25 living in the US even hear about the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature? (Last time I asked for it in a library, the clerk wasn't even sure if it was even published.) Or has anyone been told that there are bibliographical tools for a variety of subjects, like arts & literature, & for history?
I doubt professors & teachers would be so hard on Wikipedia & its failings if they realized its being written by their own students, who are applying the exact skills they have learned. They could fix many of Wikipedia's errors before they were made if they taught the skills Wikipedia editors depend on -- but don't have.
What is your point? I honestly can't tell if you are agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, or just finding an opportunity to make a joke.
It's an example of something where there are a large number of articles missing. I could have given 2 more recondite examples from my areas of interest '-) In some of these areas, redlinks are there. In others, you see a list in unmarked text. I've also had the experience of writing an article and then when I click "What links here" I find there had been half a dozen redlinks that I hadn't known about.
My point is that the common argument that the encyclopedia is almost complete is codswallop based on a very blinkered and parochial view that doesn't even extend to looking at the actual encyclopedia to see redlinks. And I admit I don't even haunt the pages on members of governments, on the geography of Africa or Asia, on the hard sciences or on schools of philosophy.
There are also very real issues with the notability requirement and the deprecation of fringe beliefs bashing into the stated aim of reducing entrenched bias. I think the notability standards need revisiting, and I know that one thing that happens to the type of new editor who wants to create articles is that very often their topic is sneered at. But the idea that en.wikipedia already has articles on most of what is notable - an idea that I am seeing here is also being invoked on some other wikipedias - is just as much a canard as the one that new article creators always choose to write on worthless topics. Not interesting to you personally =/= not worthy of an encyclopedia article, and an encyclopedia should have articles on things that a reader knows little about or hasn't even heard of. That's what it's for, looking things up! It is not for testifying that something has been written about in a lot of other places.
I have what may be the world's simplest solution to multiple accounts. Have everyone (optionally) register their e-mail for account recovery purposes. No one should need more than one account unless they are hiding something or causing trouble. To ensure that several accounts are not registered to the same person, track IPs for which accounts are registered to which address. Any IP address with more than three accounts registered to it could be red-flagged by a bot to be investigated by a senior member, who could then take appropriate actions or issue warnings. I know that Wikipedia already tracks IP for unregistered users, and registered users (if they have good intentions) should not mind it being recorded by a bot (which would keep these IPs secret unless it flags them, as above). I'm sure that such a system would also help to get rid of wackos, cranks, and hooligans, as such people often get banned and just make umpteen different accounts so they can continue to be offensive. For users forgetting their login, have them put in their email address and a couple of preset answers to questions selected at the time of account creation (or later, via a userpage option or something) ex. (your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your middle name, the color of your first car, etc.). They could then be sent the information in a bot-generated email. I've seen similar systems on many other websites.