New Editor Experiences
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New Editor Experiences was a 2017-18 Wikimedia Foundation project which researched ways to better attract and retain new editors at midsize Wikipedias.
To do this, it was 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.
We released the findings from the research in August 2017 and continued through a series of discussions and workshops with WMF staff members and Czech and Korean community members which resulted in a set of specific product recommendations.
This work led to the establishment of the Growth team in 2018 and shaped the team's priorities and strategy.
- 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.
- Conceptual understanding of Wikipedia (findings 8 and 5)
- Progressive pathways to editing (findings 7 and 9)
In a similar fashion, the team selected the following tactics as the most promising way to address the focuses above:
- In-context help: automatically presenting new users with small doses of help relevant to the activity they are doing at that moment.
- Human help and mentorship: one-on-one help from an experienced editor, whether in person or online.
- Task recommendations: recommendations for specific tasks (including micro-contributions) new editors can do based on their interests, abilities, or recent contributions.
This project was been managed by lead design researcher Abbey Ripstra and product analyst Neil Patel Quinn. Its executive sponsor was chief product officer Toby Negrin.
Major contributors to the project included:
- Amir Aharoni, product analyst
- Juliet Barbara, communications director
- Daisy Chen, design researcher
- María Cruz, communications and outreach product manager
- Benoît Evellin, community relations specialist
- James Forrester, senior product manager
- Grace Gellerman, program manager
- Aaron Halfaker, principal research scientist
- Rita Ho, senior user experience designer
- Yongmin Hong, Korean community ambassador
- Sati Houston, grants impact strategist
- Pau Giner, senior user experience designer
- Melody Kramer, audience development manager
- Joe Mattazoni, product manager
- Jonathan Morgan, senior design researcher
- Ed Sanders, principal software engineer
- Sherry Snyder, community liaison
- Alex Stinson, community programs strategist
- Martin Urbanec, Czech community ambassador, Wikimedia Česká republika
- Ben Vershbow, lead programs manager
- Nick Wilson, community liaison
For the team that conducted the research in the Czech Republic and South Korea, please see meta:Research:New Editor Experiences, 2017.
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.
Follow up research
What do new editors need to succeed?
After completing the research and concept development workshops described above, follow up research called "What do new editors need to succeed?" was conducted. The outcomes of this work provide a detailed list of the needs and challenges of new editors as they move through their user journeys toward contributing content to Wikipedia. This work was completed in support of the Growth team as they build solutions.
Two parts to this research
- Listing the challenges and then defining the needs of new editors as they move through their user journey to begin contributing content to Wikipedias. This was done by reviewing all the notes documents from field interviews with new editors in Czech Republic and South Korea, and pulling out the more detailed challenges and needs that informed the research findings described above.
- Working with our ambassadors and the mentors in Czech, Korean and French Wikipedia communities who provided:
- lists of the questions new editors ask, arranged by frequency (very frequent, frequent, and not frequent)
- lists of the challenges that the same mentors from the same communities perceive new editors having(also arranged by frequency).
All this content was organized and summarized to create the design tools below.
- Needs of new editors as they move through their user journey to begin contributing content. This is from the notes from our field research.
- Summary of the needs of new editors as shared and described by mentors in Czech, Korean, and French Wikipedia communities.