[A tangent from the other topic, "Engagement" page, which I don't want to distract from...] [Preface: I love some of the ideas in the Newcomer homepage project. These are supplementary thoughts.]
Someone asked me recently:
> Whilst I was just a volunteer, what could Wikimedia (movement/foundation) have done better to make me feel I could grow?
I replied: "In a word, userpages.
The way that some editors use their userpages is fascinating. They use them:
- to track their to-do lists,
- to store notes and wikitext/snippets/citations they're using a lot (for easy copy&pasting),
- to list their accomplishments and accolades,
- to organize (and share) their bookmarks,
- to disclose their COIs,
- to write short autobiographies,
- to list their passions or affiliations (often in the form of those small 'userboxes'),
- to write essays and rambles,
- and more.
My Enwiki userpage has always been the first destination of the day for most of my volunteer activities - it loads faster than the watchlist, it contains my links to watchlists on other projects, and it contains my most frequently used bookmarks/snippets. I typically leave it open in a tab whilst I do anything else on the sites.
- I've only had a few designs myself. For a long time it looked like this: c.2007 version or like this c.2013 version
- but I have an (outdated) bookmark folder with a few dozen interesting variants, e.g.
I've long-thought that there are some good ideas that could be extracted from the previous WMF research into userpages, to help both simplify & power-up the default experience (which is fairly-to-extremely complicated for non-technical people - and the English help docs (stuck circa 2007) are frankly terrifying).
I.e. The previous research included ideas such as automated boxes of statistics about the editor - I think many existing users would really love this. If we could provide that kind of thing but in the form of normal wiki Templates that would fit into the classic freeform pages (thus making most existing users happy), then we could potentially also offer an easy "create your own userpage from these few predefined skeletons" wizard system, which editors could then use normal page-editing to re-arrange and personalize, and thus make everyone happy. [!!]
Here are the 2 old WMF research projects (which never made it past the mockup or notes stage)
- In 2011, there was
- In 2013, there was
TL;DR: We should help newcomers to use their actual userpages in ways that work for them (diverse ways for diverse people). Not a one-size-fits-all-solution (I think the GlobalProfile mockup idea was inherently flawed by its standardization approach), but give them help in finding the possibilities.
Because: Having a good userpage - especially one that is actively used, and can become their first browser destination for daily editing - can give editors a sense of personal connection to the sites, and also provide a space for an individualized (and sometimes 'humanized') element that can help people to relate to each other.