Onboarding new Wikipedians

From mediawiki.org

Work by the Growth team at Wikimedia Foundation engineering and product development to get new registered Wikipedians to quickly become productive members of the community. Getting people up to speed in an organization or community is often called "onboarding". It is a term borrowed from human resources departments, but is now a common piece of the user experience design parlance.


As a follow-up to our work improving the account creation user experience, we have decided to focus on increasing the number of registered accounts that contribute and reach their fifth edit. There is more on that at our prioritization notes and Quarterly Product Plan.

User stories and personas[edit]

  • As someone who has just registered on Wikipedia, I want to know where to get started with contributing.
    • As someone who just registered, I know what I'm interested in, but I don't know how to edit.
    • As someone who just registered, I'm interested in contributing, but I need a suggestion of something easy to start with.
  • As a new user still getting started, I want to be able to return to Wikipedia and pick back up where I left off.
  • As a new user who has completed a few edits, I want Wikipedia to give me interesting things to do when I log back in.
  • As a new user, I'd like to receive an occasional reminder about interesting things to do on Wikipedia.

We've also created four user personas to help understand the most common types of user registering, their experience level, and what task they might have in mind.

User experience[edit]

Legacy/default experience[edit]

In the MediaWiki default, there is little to no direction given to new registered users immediately after they join. For the people who already know what they want to accomplish as editors, at least in the immediate future, this lack of onboarding is not necessarily an obstacle. However, we know that the majority of accounts registered –around 70%– never even attempt an edit.[1]

With the redesign of our cross-wiki authentication architecture, users are redirected automatically back to their internal referrer (stored in a URL parameter) after signup and login. If they do not have an internal referrer, they will be directed back to the Main Page. Previously, the default onboarding experience was to present users with a landing page post-registration that confirmed their account creation, among other minor details (screenshot).

New experience[edit]

After registration, users are sent back to the page they were viewing before signing up (the "returnto" URL parameter). If there is no known return destination, they are sent to the Main Page.

On that page, a call to action appears, which invites them to either

  • Contribute to the page they are on right now (if it is editable).
  • Try editing a suggested article. These articles are derived from our recommender system, and if no category is set for a wiki to derive tasks from, only the first call to action will be provided to users.

Only users who return to Special pages will be completely excluded from seeing any calls to action, since we cannot guarantee correct behavior on Special pages. If the user is on a non-article page (i.e. not namespace zero) they are given the same call to action as on non-editable articles, which is just the call to try editing a suggested page.

Next, If the user elects to edit the page they are on, they are given a simple guided tour. (See specification.) If the user elects to try a suggested task, they are taken to a recommended article from the set tagged for copyediting. The article appears with a toolbar which describes the task, allows them to jump to another recommended article, and has a "Show me how" button to reactivate a guided tour (See specification) that walks them through making simple spelling and grammar improvements. Editing either the page they are redirected to or a suggested page results in a Revision tag.

Future enhancements[edit]

  • Notifications
  • Additional task suggestions
  • More persuasive design

Technical documentation[edit]

We will deliver this new onboarding experience through a combination of:

presents the call to action pop-up on the returnto page after signup (and continues to implement the task tool bar and tasks)
provides the guides for first editing and to how to complete a task

More details on /Engineering sub-page.

Experimental data and user testing[edit]

We arrived at this version after six major iterations. Previous A/B test and further analysis data can be found at Research:Onboarding and associated subpages. We also conducted several rounds of remote usability testing to date. See our conclusions and videos.

See also[edit]


  1. Current rates hover around 30-35% without onboarding. Data: 1, 2, 3