The first experience for new users to the English Wikipedia
"If something isn't working, that's a clue that doing more of the same isn't the correct answer." Thank you for stating that concisely. I think there are two problems for new users at the moment:
- Hostile environment
- Overcomplicated introduction
I don't think the first one is fixable, regardless of how many cheerfully-impersonal templated introductions and awards we put on talk pages. We will always have a vocal minority of editors who are a pain in the neck; the more users we have, the worse the problem will be. So we should focus on the second problem by reducing the complexity of writing articles, learning the policies, and integrating into the community. Instead, we're mostly writing ever-growing quantities of redundant or supplementary text - "more of the same", if you will. I don't know how helpful your guide would be to a new user (really, not sarcasm - I don't know) but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
'Hostile environment' is indeed fixable. Same as any other form of bullying, the problem isn't the bully and the one being bullied, it's all the others standing around watching and saying nothing. Assume Good Faith is necessary but not sufficient. (Neither is it a suicide pact.) Attempted intimidation is not Wikipedian. I'm appalled at the number of 'experienced' Wikipedians (including Admins) who support actual instances of this as long as the "right" words and methods are used. As if. Someone's bullied, they protest, and are immediately hit with a string of 'WP:' things to intimidate them. And that's called 'playing fair'? I don't think so. But as with most weaponry, those intended for defense can, and are, used as weapons of offense by those who know how to (mis)use them. The solution is for the rest of us to put a stop to this nonsense by standing up for anyone we see being bullied. (For example, we should keep an eye on the deletion threads.) I was going to search for some examples of bullying in response to one of Sue Gardner's posts, and inadvertently ended up in the middle of one myself. Read this and the related this. I've been around long enough that I can find it hilarious, but if I had been a newbie I would have been shocked, appalled, and leaving immediately - and telling my friends that Wikipedians are the cyberspace version of gangbangers. Or Daleks. To be avoided at all costs.
Another thing that might help is a HELP ME I'M BEING BULLIED template anyone could put on his/her user page. Include it on the Welcome notice where it can't be missed. Something really simple to get help and support when it's needed. It's a lot easier to explain a problem on one's own Talk page than trying to negotiate the current obstacle course/bureaucracy to figure our both what to ask and how to ask for some 'intervention' - and generally being ignored anyway. (I will be forever grateful Wikipedians aren't in charge of setting up real-life emergency response operations.) Frankly, I'm surprised any newbies at all stick around.
As for the Guide, I expect it would depend on the type of article. Looking at the sort of article most newbies choose, I think it would work. If you know people who have never created an article before, you could ask them to try it out and report back. :-)
The "HELP ME I'M BEING BULLIED" template is a fantastic idea. To new users, confronted with practically no recourse to admin bullying, this would go a long way to help.
But there also needs to be penalties on the bullies. If an admin or "experienced" wikipedia editor habitually bullies newbies, they need to be shut down fast with a notice put on their user page BULLY and editing privileges removed for a while.