[Foundation-l] Handholding for new articles (Was: Re: 80% of our projects are failing)

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Tue Dec 2 20:52:37 UTC 2008

On Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 9:39 AM, Gerard Meijssen
<gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hoi,
> The software has been tested but not all extensions are considered ready for
> WMF production. I am establishing contacts with, among others, people at
> UNICEF to make sure that we identify the outstanding issues carefully and
> fix them efficiently. Given that the CreatePage extension requires changes
> to the skin, it may make sense to consider using a superset of monobook (I
> do not know how feasible this is).
> Given that the software is already being localised at Betawiki, we do not
> need to restrict ourselves to English. I understand that UNICEF uses some of
> their software in Swahili :) I would love to consider Swahili for this ...
> Kennisnet is interested in this functionality, that would make Dutch an
> option. It needs to be clear that it is not only Wikipedia projects that
> will benefit.
> The benefits from a more useable interface have little to do with a "simple"
> approach. Newbies are not able to contribute. Our need for more contributors
> and content is most dire in our smallest projects. Personally I am not that
> interested in using "simple" as a test environment. From my perspective, it
> should be there for all the projects that want it. Obviously, when this
> extension is localised first, it will be more effective.
> When we are to test this in a Wikimedia Wiki, we need to get involvement
> from Brion. It would help a lot when the WMF actively takes part in this
> collaboration and make usability a priority.
> Thanks,
>      GerardM

Thinking about this... (and catching up in thread...)

There are two levels of failure with new pages on enwiki now.

Level one is technical - UNICEF study pointed that out, your
extensions are approaching that problem.

Level two is more conceptual.  Does a person who wants to create a
page understand all that a "well done" page in Wikipedia should have?
Can they explain what the idea is, and why it should have a page?  Do
they understand references and think about how to provide some?

To be really useful, a toolset that structures a "create page" button
response should address some or all of these questions.

Have the output be not just a page, but a series of pages, which
provide short inputs and do some useful things with them.  Perhaps,
for example:

"Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.  It exists to collect useful general
information about all topics and make it freely available.  But there
are lots of things which don't belong in encyclopedias.  Are you sure
that the topic / article you want to create is really an encyclopedia
article?  Is it a word definition instead (link to Wictionary), or an
image of some sort (link to commons), or (fill in some more).  If your
idea for an article is really an encyclopedia entry, click 'Yes' below
to continue."

"Can you explain what this page / article will be about?  What's the
topic?  Where did you learn about it?  Please fill in the text box
below with your idea of what this new article is about.  This will be
posted on the article's talk page to explain the purpose of the

"Wikipedia relies on outside references to verify information people
post here.  Can you provide the titles of some books or magazine
articles, website URLs, or other sources which confirm what you are
saying in the new article, in the text box below?"

"Wikipedia would like to have articles about all important and useful
topics, but some topics (normal people, most small businesses, etc)
just aren't important enough.  Is your article something which people
in other states or countries will find interesting and useful?
Wikipedia has some policies on what we recommend as being notable
enough for articles (link to policies).  If you think this article
idea is notable enough, please click 'Yes' below to continue."

"Wikipedia likes to have links from article to article.  Are there
other existing articles which you think this new article should
connect to?  List them below if you know of any."

"Wikipedia article start with a short introduction, then more details.
 Can you summarize what this article is about in one to three
sentences, to start the article's introduction?  Think about it and
then fill in the introduction below if you can.  Then click on

"Ok, now let's create the actual article contents.... " (filled in
template article, with introduction section inserted, and slightly
textually processed references and see also sections).

And the final step drops the article rationale entry into the talk
page as well, on article creation.

Does this process make sense?

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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