During the week of April 15, 2019, the Growth team spent time thinking about potential future ideas for the newcomer homepage. Some ideas are described generally in this section of the project page, but below we have notes that explored those ideas further through structured exercises.
We started with five insights that we know about newcomers, and corresponding "how might we" statements to prompt ideas to address those insights.
- Newcomers can’t see the activity in the wiki, and don’t realize they can join in. How might we show newcomers that the wiki is vibrant and that they can join in?
- Some newcomers would love to do more tasks, but don’t know what they can be. How might we help newcomers find their second edit?
- Receiving recognition has been shown to increase retention. How might we motivate newcomers through recognition?
- Only between 15% - 30% of newcomers will discover their homepage on their own. How might we help more newcomers find their homepage?
- Users won’t all want or need the same content on their homepages. How might we allow newcomers to customize their homepage?
How might we show newcomers that the wiki is vibrant and that they can join in?
- There are many different kinds of activity: edits, discussions, thanks, blocks, views, article promotion, reverts.
- Users could decide to watchlist topics instead of specific articles, e.g. Adele, Botany, Frogs, Norwegian music, etc. They could do this with a form on their homepage or watchlist.
- An "activity feed" module could be like a recent changes feed with a more flexible filter. A user could filter to a specific article, topic, or username. The results could be organized better than just a chronological stream of edits. It could organize by "recent edits", "active discussions", "recent images".
- Usually, feeds on the wiki promote article edits. Perhaps a module could promote discussions only: "Discussions related to your interests", and then list the headers of the discussions to encourage newcomers to read and join in.
- A quite different idea would bring the activity feed to the article itself, and surface it for a reader of Wikipedia. Reading articles is where the vast majority of users spend their time (especially non-editors), and there could be a drawer that could show activity on that article in a user-friendly feed, along with links to related articles and their activity. Readers could learn about the vibrant community, build watchlists, and create logins this way. Such a feed would not just contain edits, but also contain updates on page view counts, discussions, article promotions, all in one place. It would demonstrate to readers how the wiki works.
How might we motivate newcomers through recognition?
- We could add a module to the homepage showing the number of "thanks" that newcomers have received (along with any other awards).
- Create a structured award/badge system based on specific actions, including edits, Echo notifications, and user rights changes.
- Users could "endorse" each other for skills.
- Creating award systems would require a lot of involvement from communities to make sure the awards are authentic and incentivize the kind of behavior each community wants to promote.
- The simplest kind of awards would just be to count certain kinds of contributions and display them, e.g. "12 edits, 2 images, and 3 references."
How might we help newcomers find their second edit?
- We want newcomers to develop editing momentum.
- We could broaden our conception of the kind of tasks to recommend beyond the usual editing tasks. Some newcomers may like writing documentation, or adding sources, or supporting other newcomers.
- We should try to recommend tasks relevant to a newcomer's interests, either stated in their welcome survey or based on their previous edits. Or perhaps by just asking again in the task recommendation interface.
- We could recommend tasks that experienced editors specifically want people to do, maybe because they have certain templates or categories, or are on a to-do list from a WikiProject.
- Recommending tasks could include laying out a path for the newcomer that shows them what kind of editor they will grow into by doing those tasks, e.g. "You are becoming a WikiGnome" or "You are becoming an important contributor to chemistry articles."
- We could show a newcomer a short list of other, more experienced Wikipedians, who do similar tasks that we're recommending, e.g. "Great job adding to a music article! If you keep editing music articles, you could become one of the music specialists on this wiki. Here are some of the other top image contributors. Or you could try out some copy editing, like these other contributors who are great copy editors."
- Another way to frame recommendations would be by relating them to other Wikipedians who need them done, e.g. "Members of WikiProject Chemistry [click here to see who] have the following list of tasks, each shown with their priority level. Click to join in and help them!"
- Task recommendations can tie in well with mentorship, e.g. "Show your mentor your work" or "Your mentor recommends these tasks for you". Could also tie in well with awards, e.g. "Do this task to get this award."
- A challenge here is that there are many existing systems in the wiki world for serving task recommendations. We'll need to think about which ones to work with.
- Another challenge is that different wikis have different abilities to use the various task recommendation systems. We want to build things that are applicable to many wikis.
How might we help more newcomers find their homepage?
- We could link to the homepage from the welcome survey confirmation screen (ticketed in T220552).
- We could make it a clear call-to-action in a welcome email sent to all newcomers (see the "engagement emails" project).
- We could notify users about their homepage in an Echo notification.
- In some cases, we could redirect newcomers after account creation, but we should respect that many of them will want to return to the article editing context to complete an edit they began before making their account.
- Many communities send welcome templates to newcomers. We would want those to promote the homepage, but each community would need to modify their template to include such a call-to-action.
How might we allow newcomers to customize their homepage?
- Homepages should be personalized from the beginning based on welcome survey responses.
- Users could add or subtract modules from their homepage by clicking on a "+" sign. A user might even add two of the same module: an activity feed showing activity around chemistry and another showing activity around trains.
- When adding a module, the module itself is configurable, allowing the user to have it show activity around a certain topic, or be a certain size on the page.
- If we make homepages like wiki pages, and modules like templates, experienced users could build their homepages in a detailed way.