Learning patterns/Improve the quality of articles written by new editors

A learning pattern forEducation
Improve the quality of articles written by new editors
problemArticles written by students or new editors can be low quality.
solutionAdjust student assignments to fit their skill level and draft work in sandboxes before moving to the main namespace.
creatorKHarold (WMF)
created on12 January, 2015

What problem does this solve?


When you train new editors or students to contribute to Wikimedia projects, you may find that some participants are not well trained in writing in encyclopedic style, or make many errors in spelling, grammar or with new alphabets. It is important to take proactive measures to ensure that contributions from students and new editors are well written. Quality writing is important both to maintain the reputation of Wikimedia projects and to ease tension or prevent conflict with the community, who may not have the capacity to manage an influx of low-quality contributions.

What is the solution?


Take student writing ability into account when planning assignments.

  • It is important to choose an assignment that meets students at their level. Writing or expanding an article may not be an appropriate assignment for students who have not had much experience writing.
  • If student contributions are of poor quality due to lack of writing skills, consider choosing a different assignment, such as translation, uploading photos or copy-editing articles.
  • It is not a good idea to ask students to write in a language they are not fluent in. Instead, have them translate from a language they are studying to a language they are fluent in.[1]

Use sandboxes

  • Many education program recommend that students draft work in sandboxes and do peer review before moving content to the main namespace. This approach will help improve quality of student work before it is in the main namespace, but students do miss out on interaction with the wider community.
  • How to use sandboxes for existing articles and for new articles.

Peer review

  • Ask students to review and make at least one edit to an article written by a classmate as a course requirement or for extra credit. Set up a table on the course page where students can sign up for an article to review. You can track contributions by students using the Education Extension, or by user name.
  • Students can do peer review in sandboxes or in the article namespace.

Tag articles for community review

  • In late 2014 the US/Canada education program began adding templates to articles that students contributed to in classroom projects that had problems with quality. The templates indicate the type of task that needs to be done to improve the quality of the article.[2] This approach may be helpful for education programs that do not have many volunteers dedicated to reviewing student work.

General considerations

  • Program leaders and educators working with students should periodically review student contributions to monitor quality. Educators can monitor student work by adding all of their articles to a watch list, or by using the activity feed feature on the education extension.
  • Not all students have the writing skills neccessary to write articles on Wikipedia, and that is OK. There are many other kinds of assignments where students can accomplish important learning objectives and make valuable contributions to Wikimedia projects.

When to use


See also

Education Toolkit Learning Pattern
This learning pattern is part of the Education Program Toolkit.
Go to the toolkit.