[Foundation-l] Comparison of new user welcome efforts across projects

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Sat Feb 3 15:57:53 UTC 2007


Welcoming new users is a common community activity across many
Wikimedia wikis. The idea is usually to do at least some of the
following: give the user key links to core policies, an explanation of
syntax/technical help, make them feel part of the community, and give
them links to places to ask further questions.

Different projects can have different needs. For example, some
non-English projects give links (in English) to Embassy or Babel
pages, where they can ask questions in English rather than the
language of the project. Also, non-Wikipedia projects can perhaps
expect that most of their new users will be familiar with Wikipedia
first, and therefore tailor their welcome messages with the
expectation that the user already is familiar with the technical
aspects, and emphasise the difference in policies between their
project and Wikipedia.

Personalising the sign-up process is often not a priority for
projects, because only admins can edit MediaWiki pages, it is not easy
to locate which page should be changed to update which message, and it
tends to have been a long time since admins signed up/were new, so
they forget if it was a bad experience or what it was like.

I am involved with the welcoming efforts on Commons, where we have a
bot that places a {{welcome}} message on all newly registered users
who have made at least one edit or upload. We invite users to give
feedback on the message, which you can read here:

There was some concern people wouldn't like the impersonal method of
being welcomed by a bot, but one person even commented that it made
them feel part of the community! Some people said they would like to
appear automatically on the talk page without them even making edits).

The Commons welcome message is quite dense, but the links are useful
enough that an 'oldbie' could still find it very handy to keep around.
It has an emphasis on image-management-specific tools such as user's
Gallery, Commons Helper (transferring images from Wikipedia etc) and
how to get your own mistakes deleted. It also has 33 translations,
which is pretty fantastic.

Anyway, via this feedback, I recently became aware of Hungarian
Wikipedia's MediaWiki:Welcomecreation (this is the message that says
'you have successfully registered your account' -- your first contact
with the new user, in effect). See their changes:

I thought it was quite fantastic, and updated Commons' Welcomecreation
message in a similar fashion.

I also started looking at the MediaWiki:Welcomecreation and
Template:Welcome (or equiv.) messages for other wikis. You can see my
summry here: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pfctdayelise/welcome
(and you can complete some more if you feel like it, especially
mention if your project has a 'welcoming committee' equivalent)

It is quite interesting what different projects choose to emphasise.
ZH.wp, wikt (Chinese) explicitly highlight the GFDL. IT.wp has a red
warning against violating copyrights. PL.wp, wikt (Polish) both have
explicit links to IRC channels, so I guess it is an important tool for
them. JA.wp (Japanese) doesn't appear to have a template:Welcome (at
least it is not interwiki linked on the English one...surely they have

So this is just a bit of a message, to admins of various projects who
care about the impression that new users get, to have a look at these
pages on your project and see how they compare.

Here are my 'best ofs' so far:

FR.wp: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Welcomecreation
HU.wp: http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Welcomecreation

Template:Welcome (or equiv.):
PL.wp: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szablon:Witaj2 nice screenshots to
explain things
EN.wikt: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Template:pediawelcome A little
combative, but does well to emphasise the differences between wp and
NL.wp: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sjabloon:Welkom Nice sidebar with
links to explanations of Wikipedia jargon (remember the jargon,
ES.wp: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantilla:Bienvenido_usuario
Visually, the most impressive one.
ZH.wp: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:%E6%AC%A2%E8%BF%8E Pretty
and minimalist (possibly too minimalist, and thus easy to ignore,

What are the hallmarks of bad welcome messages? (in my opinion--)
Too much dense text. Too much information. (Do they need to know how
many articles there are or when the project was founded? No.) Too many
links. (Consider: is it really vital that the user go read the article
on 'Wikipedia'? Probably not, so probably don't link it.) Irrelevant
links. (EN.wp links to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Article_development as 'How to
write a great article'. It's actually part of a series called 'The
path to a Featured Article'. Rather ambitious for a n00b who you
simultaneously presume doesn't even know how to sign their posts on
talk pages. Do all new users need a guide on inserting images into
articles? FR.wp thinks so, but I doubt it.)

What are the most common newbie errors you see people making? Remember
back, what was the frustrating gem that you spent hours searching to
find and wished someone had told you earlier? Are your users coming
from Wikipedia -- are you wasting precious screen real estate telling
them things they already know? Consider writing messages that cater to
separate audiences if appropriate.

Anyway that's all, I hope some people feel inspired to update their
welcome messages, and if you know of a project that has a particularly
nice welcome message I'd love to see it.


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