Topic on Talk:Growth/Personalized first day/Newcomer tasks

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Jc86035 (talkcontribs)

@MMiller (WMF): The page indicates that the software won't "get in the way of them accomplishing their goal". I wanted to raise a concern about this; I hope that's appropriate at this stage of development.

It's sometimes the case that newcomers are unaware that they shouldn't do what they want to do, and have to learn the hard way; I believe there has been research indicating that e.g. reverts have a significant impact on whether new editors are retained in the short term (example; DOI/full text). There is probably some noise from advertisers in the linked paper's dataset, but I think it should still be somewhat significant (I think there has been some related research on the topic but I can't find it).

Perhaps rather than not taking measures to prevent this sort of thing from happening, it would be better to somehow tell newcomers that there are certain things that they definitely shouldn't do (e.g. upload copyrighted media to Commons, add song lyrics, write articles about self) and perhaps what they should do instead. It might be possible that this results in unintended consequences (e.g. newcomers leave without doing anything, even though they would otherwise have decided to stay if they had had a negative experience), but I think it might be worthwhile to test whether displaying such advice and/or linking to policies/guidelines has an impact on editor retention. In any case, this would likely have a positive impact on the workload of experienced users.

Furthermore, if reverts in particular are likely to discourage users from continuing editing, perhaps the home page could reflect this by giving users advice after they get reverted (or some other pop-up could try to reassure the user after a revert, rather than putting this in the home page, but I guess that might be a little off-topic).

Martin Urbanec (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Thank you for your comment, @Jc86035. I'm pinging @Trizek (WMF), who is Community Relations Specialist and I think he'll be interested in your comment as well.

MMiller (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Jc86035 -- thank you so much for reading over the project page and gathering your thoughts. It's definitely appropriate at this stage (and every stage) to raise concerns, so please keep it coming (and I hope others do, too.)

I think we're thinking along similar lines with respect to not wanting to "get in the way of them accomplishing their goal". The idea is that we know for a fact that many newcomers arrive with these difficult tasks in mind, such as creating a new article or adding a photo. Yes, some of those initiatives are self-promotional or otherwise inappropriate, but many of them aren't, and the smaller wikis definitely need that new content. So the question is, how can we help a newcomer who single-mindedly wants to write an article about something like their hometown to eventually be successful in it? Our current hypothesis is that we might find out from the newcomer via the welcome survey that they are trying to write a new article, and their homepage might convey something to them like, "If you're trying to write a new article, you should know that's one of the hardest things to do on Wikipedia. We recommend trying some easier, but relevant, tasks so you can learn to edit and have a better chance at success." And then we would want to recommend tasks that actually help them build the skills they need, such as adding a section to an existing article, or adding a citation.

What we would not want to do is recommend tasks that are irrelevant to their goal, such as translate an image caption. That would be "getting in their way". Does this make sense? What do you think? It would also be interesting to hear from you what kind of tasks might be most relevant and nurturing for newcomers to do.

Jc86035 (talkcontribs)

I think that's probably a sensible way to go about it (and it definitely makes sense not to pressure users into doing things that they wouldn't want to do). I'm not sure what sort of tasks would be appropriate, and users with more experience assisting new editors and patrolling recent changes might be better at answering that.

I think I would probably phrase a warning message more like "there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration" rather than "this is really difficult"; partly to avoid being overly discouraging, and partly since it might not be very difficult to create a given article, at least with the minimum detail needed to avoid the article's deletion. (For example, someone's hometown would probably be inherently notable on the English Wikipedia due to being a legally-recognized populated place, so it would be relatively easy to find one or two sources and create that article.)

Reply to "Specific goals"