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

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Sun Feb 4 17:31:59 UTC 2007

Brianna - this is a fabulous comparison you've been compiling, and a good 
discussion to boot.  Thank you for focusing on it.

On Mon, 5 Feb 2007, Brianna Laugher wrote:

> On 05/02/07, Robert Scott Horning <robert_horning at netzero.net> wrote:
>> There may have been a time when this was true for Wikibooks, but
>> increasingly I am finding individuals (at least on en.wikibooks) who are
>> coming into content development on Wikibooks first that have never been
>> involved with Wikipedia at all on any level.  One of the huge reasons
> That's awesome to hear, and will become more and more common I imagine.

Ditto; that's wonderful, and hopefully true for Wiktionary as well.

> 1. Brand new to wiki editing?
> Howto, Help, Be bold, sign talk pages, NPOV, copyright/license.
> 2. Familiar with a Wikimedia or MediaWiki wiki?
> Prominent link to a project page contrasting other Wikimedia projects
> with this one, link to Village pump equivalent.


> about the EN.wp one which I have never much liked. At the moment, if I
> could overhaul its content, I would remove all references to the
> Manual of Style and FAs and 'Community', and just put a humungous link
> to a list of WikiProjects and invite the newbie to join one they are
> interested in. There is just so many of these things. They offer an

I like that; add links to a few portals and to Village Pumps as well,
since there too you can get instant feedback and advice.  And the early 
user experience is very different if one is introduced immediately to AfD 
and Deletion Review than if one is not; I don't know which is preferable.

> MediaWiki is set up by default to serve a medium-sized wiki rather than 
> a small one, so when you start a new one, you spend a lot of time fixing 
> redlinks that appear in system messages to pages like 
> [[project:administrators]] and [[project:protected pages]]. And you are 
> given a sidebar with a good half-dozen links that seem to need filling 
> out, even though currently the discussion of your entire wiki could all 
> take place on [[talk:main page]] for a good six months.

This is a really good point.  An effort to change the MWiki defaults so 
that it starts out set up for a small project would be helpful for 95% of 
wiki users.  Then you could toggle a site-wide size setting that will step 
you through ways to update it to scale with a medium- and large-sized 
project [more sidebar links, more and different specialized messages, more 
organizational pages (a policy overview, a community overview, &c), more 
optimization for handling load, storing images, specific options for 
coping with spam].

> When you start, you don't even need welcome messages, because maybe
> all the people who join are people you personally invited anyway.

But you do need them very soon.

> Then it becomes part of the community: the expectation that all
> newbies should be welcomed, and looked after in this superficial way.

This is the cheerful stage of wiki growth.

> Then it becomes bureaucracy: the templates become overloaded with
> "essential" info, they divide and multiply in versions, and... I'm not
> sure what next.

When they start warning you, and edit pages lead off with all the things 
you SHOULD NOT do... and people feel that scaring newbies away is good 
because who needs all these contributors anyway if they're not going to 
fight vandals?  This is the defensive stage of wiki growth.

> For sure, of course! And please do have a look at some of the nice
> designs I have highlighted at
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pfctdayelise/welcome :)

Which everyone should look at, on general principle.  Perhaps we need a 
welcome message or wikibirthday notice for old-timers, which gets them to 
look at pages like this one.

"Happy Second Anniversary as a wiki editor!  Please check out
   a) the following new policies          1) these meta-comparisons
   b) the following community pages       2) these cross-project efforts
   ...                                    ...


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