Research:Teahouse/Phase 2 report
Teahouse:phase two report
» key learnings from the second phase of the Teahouse project
During phase 2 of the Teahouse project, which ran from June through October 2012, we moved beyond proof-of-concept to focus on deepening Teahouse's roots. During this phase, the project team worked on stability and scalability improvements in order to create a sustainable community space on English Wikipedia.
Process, outcomes, and key learnings are reported below. Impact and Teahouse activity metrics are reported separately in a phase 2 metrics report.
|The Teahouse has greatly helped me to overcome being timid about editing! Thank you all so much! I have so much appreciation for you.|
All of the work for phase 2 was planned on meta-wiki in collaboration with Teahouse hosts and other interested community members. We began with a phase 2 plan, and as we moved into each focus area we drafted a more specific work plan that included signups for volunteer participation, results of experiments, and other updates on progress.
- Incorporating volunteers into the process beginning with a public planning stage has ensured that this space is built and maintained as a partnership between all participants.
- Giving people a clear way to get involved ensures good participation.
Phase 2 work focused on 6 areas, plus an overall interaction design revamp.
|Let's get the word out to as many new editors as we can.|
In the pilot, we found that talk-page invitations were a good way to let new editors know about the Teahouse, but that the manual invite process was cumbersome and unsustainable. Our goal here was to ensure that more new editors consistently find the Teahouse.
- Automated invites
In discussion with the Bot Approvals Group, we ran 2 trials to test the impact of sending bot-delivered invites to pre-filtered lists of new editors. Between 23 July and 16 September 2012, 2435 new editors were invited to Teahouse by HostBot.
In each trial, we tested 2 versions of invites - one including the name of a Teahouse host, and another without. Below is an example of version 1:
Hi New editor! Thanks for contributing to Wikipedia. Please join other people who edit Wikipedia at the Teahouse! The Teahouse is a friendly space on Wikipedia where new editors can ask questions about contributing to Wikipedia and get help from peers and experienced editors. I hope to see you there! Jtmorgan (I'm a Teahouse host)This message automatically delivered by your friendly neighborhood HostBot (talk) 00:04, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
With about a 4% response rate, we found that automated invites still brought as many new guests to Teahouse as manual invites, and new editors in the automated sample were no more likely to become blocked than those filtered by hosts in the manual invite process. Invites that included a host name yielded a similar response rate as invites that didn't.
- Personal invites
To encourage hosts to continue to send manual invites to new editors who aren't in the automated lists, we simplified the invite guide and made a clearer call to action in the host lounge for inviting new editors.
- Welcome templates
In the pilot phase, there was a discussion about adding a Teahouse link into Wikipedia welcome templates, and the community opposed the addition of the link because Teahouse was still in an unproven pilot phase. During phase 2, a community member not affiliated with the project spearheaded a request for comment to add the Teahouse to the standard welcome template left on new editor's talk pages.
Key factors for support included:
- Teahouse is an established space, proof of concept from the pilot report.
- The need to drive more new editors to the Teahouse.
Key factors for opposition included:
- Too many links already exist on the welcome template as is, these may or may not be effective.
- Too many help pages already exist on Wikipedia.
- Removes the "personal touch" that the Teahouse is known for.
Other suggestions included creating a new Teahouse welcome template for use in Twinkle and to list it at the Welcome committee page.
- Automated invites resulted in a rebound of guest participation in the Teahouse - traffic is more consistent thanks to automation of the invite process.
- Because automated invites save volunteers time for more high-impact tasks, we're continuing to send ~100 automated invites/day. Some volunteers continue to send manual invites to new editors found elsewhere too.
- There is still no consensus on welcome templates, and it is likely that welcome templates on Wikipedia as a whole need more thought/research/discussion before any decisions can be made to add additional links.
- Volunteers created a Teahouse welcome template for Twinkle and listed it at the welcoming committee page.
- Carefully automating invitations freed up host time for more important tasks, increased guest traffic to the Teahouse by 26%, and has not resulted in increased vandalism or other negative impact.
- Working with the Bot Approvals Group to get clearance to experiment with automated invites required a great deal of planning and discussion. However, community input and code review resulted in better outcomes: more robust code and clearer criteria for determining who should be invited.
- Having the Teahouse hosts and other interested participants take part in the automated invite proposal was key in having the support and discussion needed to allow for the testing to take place.
- It's important to step back and let things happen on Wikipedia. The WMF side of the Teahouse had to learn how to disconnect from the at-times heated RfC related to the welcome template and leave this to the community to work out.
|The fact that there is somebody "out there", that there is a sincere community, gives a professional and safe feeling about Wikipedia.|
The goal of our hosting improvements was to make it easier for many experienced Wikipedians to take ownership for the project and ensure a good experience for Teahouse guests.
- New host intro creation
The original new host creation process was cumbersome and relied on manual vetting by the WMF project team. To fix this, we created a clear call to action on the main Teahouse pages as a pathway in for experienced editors. We also developed a self-service workflow for adding new hosts:
- Call to action sends experienced editors to a page where they read the basic tenets of the Teahouse and agree to uphold them.
- Next, the new host is invited to create their host profile.
- After saving their profile, they can "meet" their fellow hosts on the host page and are invited to the host lounge.
- Host lounge improvements
The host lounge is a coordinating space for hosts to find resources and tools to make their work at the Teahouse better and easier. The original lounge became cluttered as resources were added over time, so we wanted to create a streamlined lounge that made it easy for new and old hosts to find what they needed.
- We created a survey for the hosts, asking them to analyze the current lounge pages for value and potential changes.
- Based on their needs, we worked with hosts to either keep and improve, or remove resources.
- We made clear calls to action on the main host page for priority host use-cases.
- We made installing important volunteer-made scripts (like the talkback template) easier, with one-click buttons.
- Host activity surfacing
The hosts page is a resource for Teahouse guests. The host profiles listed there introduce guests to the friendly, interesting people who run the Teahouse. Like other spaces on Wikipedia, Teahouse hosts come and go over time, but the profiles list should be an accurate reflection who is active participating in the project now.
To highlight the activity of dedicated hosts so that guests find active Wikipedians easily, we developed an automated system for determining and displaying host activity.
The process is as follows:
- We move host profiles to the breakroom automatically if a host becomes inactive (i.e. if they have not made at least 1 edit to any Teahouse page within the past 2 weeks). If they become active again, their profile is automatically moved back to the main Host page.
- Some hosts may contribute to the Teahouse in ways that are less visible: for instance, by sending out invitations, posting talkback notices, or welcoming guests who have created a profile. These kinds of contributions are important, but they are harder to detect automatically. If a host wants to make sure that their profile remains active, or wants to re-activate their profile once it has been moved to the breakroom, they can check in via a simple 'checkin' button linked from the lounge.
- The host activity system automatically moves the profiles of new hosts, as well as those who recently returned from a 'wikibreak', to the top of the page. This showcases recent activity and gives the hosts page a more dynamic feel.
- The new host activity system automatically updates the featured hosts gallery on a weekly basis, allowing us to highlight the contribution of our most active hosts.
- Transferring daily responsibilities
To create a self-sustaining Teahouse, volunteers needed to take ownership for maintaining a friendly, well-run space, while the WMF Teahouse team needed to step back from coordinating day-to-day activities.
- Volunteers were brought into the work we did during phase 2 at every stage of the process from planning to implementation, and have increasingly stepped up in discussions - for example, in sorting out concerns about article for creation questions.
- We worked with hosts to create a maître d' role to formalize a way for volunteers to take on a rotating moderator/admin-like role in the space. This position is held by one or two hosts at a time.
- Hosts signup on a calendar to take a maître d' shift when it suits them. While all hosts are encouraged to participate in the maintaining of the Teahouse, the maître d' ensures these tasks get done without WMF staff involvement.
- Simplified host-creation process means new hosts are quickly setup and directed to easy ways to get started, hosts no longer have to be vetted by any one person.
- 12 new hosts have joined Teahouse via the new-host creation process
- A maître d' position ensures that volunteers take ownership for sustaining the Teahouse as a warm friendly space. The WMF Teahouse team is no longer needed there on a daily basis to keep things running.
- Improved lounge makes it easier for hosts to get to work, with clearer calls to action for tasks like awarding good work of other editors and inviting and welcoming guests.
- It is now easy for hosts to install the scripts that volunteers made for the Teahouse with a couple of clicks.
- Host activity is highlighted and dynamically displayed on the Hosts page so that guests are most likely to find an active host
- Within the first week of implementing the maître d system, 4 hosts have already signed up, spanning over two months of coverage.
- Teahouse is a space that the community wants to sustain. Wikipedians are willing and able to take on full ownership of the space. Building structures and processes that make it easier for them to do that is useful.
- Reducing the amount of manual work required to maintain project spaces allows hosts to focus on core activities: answering questions, inviting new editors, and welcoming guests.
|I like that I get to put myself out there as a part of a thing far greater than myself, a thing that all of us share, because it's not just people's Wikipedia, but it's also mine.|
During the pilot phase, the guest profile creation process was overly complex and resulted in many profiles that needed fixing. We also noticed that once the guest page listed over 100 profiles, new guests were less likely to create a profile. We wanted to simplify the process for guests and encourage them to introduce themselves.
- Simplified intro creation process
- We clarified and shortened the profile creation instructions, and by using magic words to automatically populate certain fields in the profile (such as username) that guests had previously been required to fill in by hand.
- Guests are then pointed towards other Teahouse pages and to a list of active Wikiprojects to encourage them to get involved in other activities.
- Interactive call to action for welcoming guests
- To encourage hosts to welcome new guests, we added a "welcome this guest" link to all guest profiles, but this didn't result in more hosts welcoming guests on their talk pages.
- In the redesign process, the welcome link has been replaced with an icon, and instead the host lounge features a call to action to welcome guests. There may still be room for improvement in the area of guest welcomes.
- Since we simplified the profile creation process and implemented automated profile archiving, we have seen the number of guest profiles created per week increase by 115%.
- The average satisfaction rating for the new profile creation process has also increased, from an average score of 2.77 (out of 5) in the April Guest survey to 3.84 in the October survey.
- We have observed that many fewer guests are making simple markup errors when they create a profile, reducing the amount of time spent by hosts on oversight and error-checking and contributing to a more positive and less frustrating user experience for guests.
- Simplifying the profile creation process leads to a better experience for guests and reduces potential for errors
|It looks like I've just gone over 1k edits. That would never have happened without the ability to learn from others' questions at the teahouse (and ask several of them myself). What made it effective for me was that newbies can also answer questions without having to worry about getting bitten.|
We wanted to create clearer calls to action to encourage new editors to reply to each other's questions and also encourage further dialog and conversation, while still focusing on developing an encyclopedia. We also wanted to ensure new guests continued to have the clearest call to action possible for asking questions.
- Asking questions
- In redesigning the flow for asking questions based on observing new people interact with Teahouse, we replaced the double-layer "Ask a question" button with a main page "Do you have a question about editing?" and "Get answers" call to action leading to the Q&A board. We kept the "Ask a question" button on the Q&A page itself.
- Reply call to action
- Equazcion created a user script, based on the Teahouse Gadget, that makes it as easy to answer a question as it is to ask one. Unfortunately, because this script is not a default gadget like the Teahouse questions gadget it, this functionality is not yet available to all Teahouse guests. Incorporating Equazcion's response gadget into the Teahouse Gadget would make this functionality available by default, which could promote more peer support and greater overall guest-guest interaction. This is a future opportunity for volunteers to accomplish.
- Its still easy to ask questions in the Teahouse - question volume has increased slightly over time and 23% of guests return to ask a second question.
- Some new editors remain confused about how to reply to questions. 28% of guests who had not answered a question said that they did not know they were allowed to do so, and we often see questions in Teahouse asking how to reply in a thread. Integrating Equazcion's script into the Teahouse gadget could encourage more peer support by creating a clearer call to action to answer questions.
- An edit button alone isn't a clear enough call to action for many new editors
- There is still work to be done in the area of encouraging guests to reply to questions in Q&A if peer-to-peer interaction is to be encouraged in the Teahouse
|Know that all you do is appreciated. I would have left after my first week if it wasn't for Teahouse|
One way to encourage more involvement in both Teahouse and Wikipedia as a whole is to acknowledge users for their contributions, big and small. During the pilot phase, we heard from female participants specifically that they felt more acknowledgement of their work would encourage them to participate further.
- Barnstars call to action
- We added a more obvious call to action in the host lounge to acknowledge good work, and linked it to 2 versions of barnstars that the community has been using to thank each other for work done in the Teahouse.
- Badges project exploration
- We've been exploring the idea of piloting a badges project in the Teahouse, to encourage more acknowledgment of even small contributions made by guests and hosts. It was anticipated that this work would best be accomplished by funding a new fellowship project to take this work on.
- Unfortunately, as WMF considers narrowing its organizational focus, the potential to fund a badges project as a fellowship is now delayed beyond the phase 2 period. We are still looking into ways to support this type of project in the future, as we strongly believe the approach has potential to add value to the Teahouse and Wikipedia in general.
- At 30% female participation, Teahouse still has less of a gender gap than Wikipedia as a whole. However, the most active hosts in the Teahouse who answer questions are male. It remains to be seen if adding more mechanisms for acknowledgement would encourage increased female participation.
- Teahouse has more women participating than on English Wikipedia as a whole, but there is still room for improvement.
- Acknowledgements is a larger issue to dig into on Wikipedia, worthy of a deeper dive than the existing Teahouse team can take on alone. There is fruitful potential and community interest to do more work in this area.
|I just wish the Teahouse was more visible, especially when someone creates a new account.|
Invitations are one way that new editors learn about Teahouse, but not everyone will find Teahouse this way. We wanted to help more new editors find Teahouse in contexts where they might be looking for assistance.
- Integration with new features
We experimented with integrating Teahouse links into two new new-editor-facing features that have been deployed on English Wikipedia during Phase 2: new page curation and the Article Feedback Tool, Version 5.
- New Page Curation: A link to the Teahouse was placed in the templates used in two places in the new pages curation process, directing editors whose new articles had been reviewed to visit the Teahouse if they needed any help. More information about this experiment is available here.
- AFT Call to action: We worked with the Wikimedia Foundation's Editor Engagement team to implement a Teahouse Call to Action for Version 5 of the article feedback tool, which was subsequently displayed to 789 editors who filled out Article Feedback.
- Incorporation with other help-focused pages
Teahouse hosts and other community members have added Teahouse links to several other Wikipedia pages where new editors may be looking for help.
- User:Equazcion and other help desk contributors have added a prominent link to the Teahouse in the Help Desk page header.
- The wub has proposed adding a link to the Teahouse as part of his suggested redesign of the help portal. See this RfC for more information.
- Help pages such as en:Wikipedia:Mentorship, en:Wikipedia:Questions, en:Wikipedia:Noticeboards, en:Wikipedia:Adopt-a-user, and en:Help:Contents/The_Wikipedia_community all include Teahouse links
- As the community spreads the word to new editors in a variety of ways on a variety of pages, Teahouse is becoming a part of the English Wikipedia's fabric.
- With a .08% rate of return, integration with AFT 5 did not yield anywhere near the 4% rate of return that sending talk page invitations yields. We see this as an indication that harnessing the power of invitation is still an important way to let new editors know about where to go for help.
- The community sees the value in the Teahouse project and has integrated it into a variety of pages throughout Wikipedia
- Invitations are still the most effective way of bringing new editors to the space
|it's not about having a "head" person, but more about having a kind of rota system whereby those who are willing to volunteer a bit more time to this stuff can share the workload by taking it in turns.|
To ensure sustainability, we needed to stabilize and systematize some aspects of the Teahouse so that regular tasks that were performed by the WMF team during the pilot could either be handed off to volunteers, or done away with entirely.
- Template protection
- Numerous templates and pages that are considered stable and have little need for on-going edits were semi-protected so that administrators and autoconfirmed editors can only change the pages. Protecting, for example, the main Teahouse page reduces the risk of vandalism or of new editors making unintended edits.
- Maitre d' role
As the project becomes completely volunteer maintained, it became clear we needed a named role that encourages volunteer responsibility for Teahouse upkeep, basic maintenance and administration of the space. We've called this role the Maître d'. (For additional info about the maitre d' position, see the hosting section of this report.)
Tasks that are being handled by volunteers via the maitre d' role include:
- Welcoming new hosts
- Making sure that answers at the Teahouse are warm, friendly, and helpful
- Monitoring guest profiles to ensure the images work, no aggressive language is used, and that formatting is correct
- Checking on the automated monthly metrics to make sure the Teahouse is healthy
- Metrics automation
Regularly reporting metrics related to recent host and guest activity have been an important resource for project members and hosts to understand how healthy the Teahouse is.
To ensure hosts have long-term access to relevant metrics for making data-driven decisions, we developed an automated metrics reporting scripts which publishes recent activity data to the Teahouse metrics page every month. This allows hosts to compare current activity on the Teahouse with previous months, making it easier to identify important trends (e.g. an sudden increase in question volume) and make informed decisions about how to address them.
The automated report currently computes the following metrics on the first of every month:
- number of questions per day, week, and month for the prior two months
- number of profiles per day, week and month for the prior two months
- number of hosts participating for the prior month, as well as number of newly-joined hosts and hosts who have been inactive for more than 30 days
- number of pageviews for the prior two months
- total questions asked, profiles created, and hosts participating since the founding of the Teahouse
- Automated guest profile archiving
- We implemented an archiving script to automatically move older profiles to the Teahouse 'guestbook', limiting the number of profiles on the main Guests page to 10-20 of the most recent profiles. Previously, profiles needed to be manually moved to the guest book in order to maintain a manageable number of profiles on the main guest page.
Automated metrics include:
- Host activity
- How many hosts participate each week
- how many new hosts joined this month
- average response time per question
- # responses per question
- Guest activity
- how many new editors (<100 edits) participate each week
- how many questions are asked each week
- how many profiles are created each week
- how many guests ask more than one question
- High visibility templates are protected
- Maitre d' position was created with a signup calendar, and 4 hosts have already volunteered to take responsibility for daily tasks
- Standard activity metrics are being computed on a monthly basis and published to the Teahouse metrics page on the first of every month.
- Moving from a pilot phase to a more permanent project requires investment in systems and processes that eliminate having a single point of failure.
|It's very pretty compared to the rest of Wikipedia. I enjoy the tea house decor in real life and it was refreshing to see something like it on Wikipedia.|
As Teahouse grew during the pilot, features and explanations were added to the main pages of the Teahouse that got in the way of its simplicity and organization. In discussions with Wikipedians we realized it was not always obvious what a guest or host was, or what a new visitor should do with that information. The aim of a redesign was to ensure that visitors are quickly engaged in the space.
- The design process started with wireframes to renew our clarity on which interactions and elements should take priority in the space.
- We then moved to full mockups of the new pages, before agreeing on a path forward to implement.
- Hosts were asked to give feedback on the new design and in the feedback discussions we identified some issues with the new design that were corrected (bugs, page width issues, colors, etc).
- Removed overly-explanatory text. Because the Teahouse has grown up and created its own context now, text is no longer needed to explain what content demonstrates.
- The landing page has four obvious sections and fewer links. We welcome newcomers and introduce the 3 areas of the Teahouse (Hosts, Guests, and Questions) with three major links.
- Removed some of the competing visual aspects, retaining one logo only.
- Experimented with a new color palette, with a little more contrast. Ultimately though, hosts didn't like this change, so we've gone back to the original colors which were an important factor in Teahouse's calm feeling.
- Design changes can be difficult and take time to get used to
- Feedback and iteration is critical to the design process, in the end it brings about a space we're all happier with
- Clarifying interactions, reassessing the purpose of page elements, and removing cruft is crucial for making sure a space maintains its purpose over time
- Teahouse colors play an important role in the emotional reaction users have to the space
As phase 2 of the project comes to a close, we expect the Teahouse to move into a volunteer-maintained phase. The Teahouse is not done though, like Wikipedia itself there is always room for improvement and evolution, and over the course of the project both WMF-ers and volunteers have identified a number of areas for Teahouse to grow.
Opportunities for future improvements include:
- developing a leaderboard for hosts
- sending email invites to new editors (either by coordinating volunteers to do more of this, or looking at automation options when MediaWiki messaging tools are improved)
- randomizing guest-intro default photos so that guests who don't choose a custom image don't all have the same image
- suggesting other community activities to guests from within the Teahouse, routing to WikiProjects, etc
- bot-delivered talk page notifications when a host becomes inactive and their profile is archived (including an invite back again) - this requires bot approval and we simply ran out of time in phase 2 to complete this
- tracker in host lounge listing guests who haven't been welcomed yet, encouraging hosts to welcome new editors who create Teahouse profiles
- a means for encouraging guest-to-guest discussions, which may mean marking out a space for discussions about editing separate from the newbie-question/expert-response pattern in Q&A. the new Q&A page design has a spot for a bulletin board "discussion of the week" type feature, but this hasn't been implemented
- moving host-bot functions (invites, activity surfacing, other automation) to a more stable DB than it runs on currently
Teahouse guests also see plenty of room for growth. Responses from our latest guest survey indicate that guests are interested access to better help resources, joining interesting WikiProjects, and finding productive editing tasks to perform.
|Teahouse is still under development, and we're planning to add new features. Which features would be most helpful to you?|
|A list of Wikiprojects that are looking for new members.||42||48%|
|A list of editing tasks to do.||52||59%|
|A list of other ways to get involved with Wikipedia.||36||41%|
|Links to other 'Help' resources, such as tutorials, videos, and how-to pages.||49||56%|
|Better ways to acknowledge/thank editors for their hard work or assistance.||42||48%|
|Other (please suggest new features below, or use this space to elaborate on ideas you've checked in the list above)||14||16%|
|Which features would be most helpful to you? Click 'Show' to view all responses|
|blocks are very hurtful especially when thrown at a user without warning, perhaps by some admin who doesn't participate in the teahouse.|
|I have gotten busy and will have to defer my participation for a while. I hope to work on educational institutions.|
|I checked the box "ways to thank those that helped me" as I have yet to figure out how to do that.|
|All of the above|
|Make a bulletin board/pin board space for the above lists. Also have a space for scheduled "tea times" either locally or virtually for open discussion/any particular topic/orientation of new Wikipedians.|
|one problem with wiki in general is that (let me digress for just a moment here - i usually can figure out how to do anything - science, numbers, languages, construction schematics- either with a good user manual or the ability to reverse engineer something to figure out how it was originally done) wiki has in some respects way too much information jumbled together that obscures the basics. I literally wanted to and maybe still will go look in a book store for "wiki for dummies". I've read a lot of the other talk articles and see the gratitude expressed by new writers. this isn't because they are all pleasant or that the editor is so nice - it is because we are so grateful that someone got us through something simple. i think pumpkinsky expressed it perfectly. it's like trying to decipher something through a black crystal. there needs to be a technical writer involved who knows how to write for abject beginners. i once prided myself in that i could explain the utmost technical jargon to someone's grandmother. i got rich doing that. it would make editor's jobs a lot more fun (and newbie's a lot less frustrated)|
|It did feel as if I had to do some 'digging' before eventually finding Teahouse; perhaps links could be more easily accessible/prominent on some of the other pages? A box/link showing 'Unsure how to proceed, get a quick response here' near the 'edit' section of pages?|
|A guide to where to go for different kinds of answer - all in one place, not scattered as the information currently is|
|Some way of getting follow-up questions answered.|
|i dont know how but make the wikipedia editing universe easier to understand/navigate|
|A simple introduction to Wikipedia for people who are not already part of your in-crowd clique!|
|We need a MUCH more creative Wik Project. Most of the WikiProjects here are very boring and there is not much things to really do or edit or discuss|
|i can provide help with information sources|
|It is difficult to tell were to put the talk re: a page if I am on my own talk page or someone elses. Not sure if I am making sense here.|
|A simple introduction to Wikipedia for people who are not already part of your in-crowd clique!|
- Guests want recommendations for engaging follow-up activities, such as WikiProjects to join, discussions to participate in, and editing tasks to do.
- New en:WYSIWYG functionality will make tasks like answering questions and creating a profile easier and more engaging.
- Automation is key to sustainability. New automated features for outreach, communication, maintenance and keeping track of things can encourage growth.
Teahouse has been a success on English Wikipedia, and it may be a worthwhile initiative for other Wikimedia projects to take up. The Arabic Wikipedia has already created a Teahouse] of their own.
In order to encourage other communities to replicate success, we created a Teahouse menu at the end of the pilot phase, containing rationale and descriptions of key features, links to style guides, templates and other resources we've developed.
Based on our experience during Phase 2, we now have some additional concrete recommendations to share for anyone interested in creating a Teahouse in other editing communities.
- Recruit hosts actively at the beginning
Hosts make the Teahouse work, and you need them there from the beginning. Without a core group of volunteers to answer questions, provide mentorship and followup interactions, the en.wikipedia Teahouse would have failed. To provide support that is timely, personalized, detailed and friendly, you need a community of people who are committed to 'hanging out' at the Teahouse and making it a priority.
- Create clear and concise hosting guidelines.
To get new hosts oriented quickly, create simple guidelines that clearly state the goals of the project and expectations for participating as a host. This will assure that new hosts uphold basic standards of the Teahouse: providing prompt, friendly, and personal answers to questions, and helping maintain a welcoming and supportive atmosphere over all.
- Prioritize the needs of new editors.
There are many places on Wikipedia where editors can interact with each other. The Teahouse is meant to focus on the kinds of support and interactions that new editors want and need. When deciding to do, say or build, always do it with this particular group of users in mind.
- Simplify navigation, instructions and workflows for guests.
- Surface people and activity.
Teahouse guests enjoy learning about the Wikipedia community by seeing other editors. Including pictures of real people in profiles, and showcasing hosts who are active in the project (not just giving a list of anyone who signed up to host) ensures that guests learn quickly that Wikipedia is a community and interacting with other editors can help them become better contributors.
- Don't rely on a manual process for invitations.
New editors are not yet familiar with Wikipedia and can't be expected to find the Teahouse on their own. On the English Wikipedia Teahouse, only 4-5 out of every 100 new editors who were invited ever visit the Teahouse. This made it difficult and time-consuming to manually invite enough editors to sustain the project. On medium or large Wikipedias, using automated scripts to identify and invite recently-joined editors is a scalable, sustainable mechanism for reaching out to these vulnerable newcomers before they slip away.
- Publish metrics regularly.
Data can be a powerful tool for good. Regularly publishing metrics related to activity, retention, pageviews, etc. can help project members monitor progress towards goals, and also identify areas for improvement. Sharing research findings with hosts and other community members can also help build a broader conversation around new editor engagement, and bring in new allies. Publicly available research tools such as those available through stats.grok.se and toolserver.org allow volunteers to run queries and create metrics reports and do not require an exceptional degree of technical proficiency.
- Consider providing services and activities beyond Q&A.
Although the Q&A board has always been the most active part of en.wikipedia Teahouse, it is just one of many ways that a project like this can engage new users. New Teahouse visitors may not have a specific question in mind when they first visit, or may be hesitant to ask right away, so giving them an activity like introducing themselves (ie making a profile) is one way to get them involved. Respondents to our three guest surveys also indicated a strong interest in task suggestions, WikiProject recommendations, and other ways to get involved in Wikipedia. While we have not yet implemented many of these suggestions, we encourage other Teahausen to experiment with these and other novel guest-facing features.
- Automate maintenance tasks where possible.
Automating daily maintenance tasks like archiving threads, posting talkback and welcome messages, and keeping featured content up to date frees up project members' time to give guests more personal attention, work on new features, discuss ideas, tackle problems, and have fun. Use available bots, userscripts and editing tools to perform these tasks when possible.
- Create a rotating role to take turns with the chores
Some Teahouse tasks, like answering questions, are fun to do. Some, like reminding new hosts of the importance of answering nicely, are less fun. We created a maitre d' role to handle these tasks, and a calendar for hosts to signup for maitre d' shifts. Rotating responsibility for less-appealing tasks that need to get done ensures that someone always does them, but no-one gets burnt out on always having to do them.
- Consider whether many-to-many support is right for your wiki
Many-to-many support systems like Teahouse can be great for providing quick help to new editors in a scalable fashion. Many-to-many systems need to feel like a lively, populated community space in order to encourage interaction though. English Wikipedia's large community of both new and experienced editors helps make Teahouse's many-to-many approach successful. It remains to be seen if the approach makes sense for wikis of all sizes, though. Small wikis may find that editors are better able to provide personal support in different kinds of spaces created specifically for providing one-to-many or one-to-one support.