New Editor Experiences
New Editor Experiences is a Wikimedia Foundation project which aims to experiment with ways to better attract and retain new editors at mid-sized Wikipedias.
To do this, it's crucial to learn more about their experiences, and the experiences of established editors who work with them. We started by conducting design research in the Czech Republic and South Korea, which involved interviewing 64 editors from the Korean and Czech Wikipedias.
In August 2017, we released the findings from the research and we're currently starting the development phase of the project by planning of a series of discussions and workshops with WMF staff members and Czech and Korean community members. These workshops will discuss the research findings in depth and how they can be addressed.
- Main article: m:Research:New editor experiences, 2017
Our design research was conducted from May to July 2017 with the help of a firm called Reboot. We conducted in-person interviews with new editors, as well as with experienced editors who frequently interacted with new editors.
Our research focused on the Korean Wikipedia (we traveled to South Korea May 17–30 and did 30 interviews) and the Czech Wikipedia (we traveled to the Czech Republic June 13–27 and did 34 interviews). For details of how these were selected, see community selection.
For more detail on our research methods, see the research framework prepared in April.
We developed the following key findings from our research; for much more detail, see the full report.
- People edit Wikipedia for diverse reasons, most of which serve purposes beyond editing Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia's prominence is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness for attracting new editors.
- Inspiring, trusted, and well-connected intermediaries are a critical asset in recruiting and supporting new editors.
- As readers, many editors see the Korean and Czech Wikipedia as limited, and seamlessly supplement their information with more comprehensive or deep sources. This means that as editors, they are less likely to contribute to those Wikipedias because the content gap that needs to be filled feels too large. This perception creates a vicious cycle that prevents medium-sized wikis from reaching a critical mass of value.
- The complexity and separation of how Wikipedia is made, and the community behind it, make it difficult to convert readers to editors, and new editors to experienced editors.
- People must be confident in their content knowledge to edit Wikipedia.
- Successful editors tend to build their 'contribution skills' through iterative, progressive learning in safe spaces where the stakes are lower.
- New editors greatest challenges are not technical but conceptual. They struggle to learn Wikipedia's policies and how to shape content "the Wikipedia way".
- Editing processes and the mechanisms that support them (e.g. communication with other editors, help pages) are not intuitive or discoverable, making it difficult for new editors to learn and progress.
- New editors go outside Wikipedia for help because they prefer targeted, and sometimes personal, support.
- The way in which a piece of feedback is framed is critical to whether it encourages new editors to continue the Wikipedia journey or disempowers and discourages them from further contributions.
Based on the research findings and consultations with members of the Czech and Korean communities, the core team has provisionally selected the following two focuses as the priorities to address and is currently seeking feedback from community members and senior leadership at the Foundation before fully committing to these choices.
- Conceptual understanding of Wikipedia (findings 8 and 5)
- Progressive pathways to editing (findings 7 and 9)
The team at the WMF running this project include:
- Abbey Ripstra, lead design researcher
- Neil Patel Quinn, product analyst
- Melody Kramer, audience development manager
- Juliet Barbara, communications director
- Sati Houston, grants impact strategist
- Toby Negrin, interim chief product officer
- Nick Wilson, community liaison
The design research was conducted by the following team, along with Neil and Abbey from the WMF:
- Panthea Lee, Reboot
- Lauren Gardener, Reboot
- Soohyun Pae, participant recruiter in South Korea
- Hyun Ju Lee, researcher in South Korea
- Catherine Park, researcher in South Korea
- Václav Zouzalík, participant recruiter in the Czech Republic
- Ivana Lukeš Rybanská, researcher in the Czech Republic
- Lucia Cizmaziova, researcher in the Czech Republic
A number of WMF teams and community members will be participating in a series of workshops planned for September–November 2017 to explore issues and solutions.
In particularly, the WMF Contributors team plans to build on this research with product development work in the current fiscal year, as part of their annual plan. The technical tools developed may be directed at new contributors or at experienced editors who interact with them, or both.