Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2019/Programme/Submissions/Workshop on Community health

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Title of the submission

Retaining Community health for inclusive user growth

Type of submission
  • workshop
Author of the submission

Uladzimir Rusakovich




Wikimedia Community User Group Belarus

  • Community Engagement
Abstract (up to 100 words)

Non-restrictive mentorship of first-year users is needed for user growth. Further help is required in the next couple of years until the first good article will be written by a newcomer.

How will this session be beneficial for the communities in the region of Central and Eastern Europe?

Attendees will list, evaluate & discuss the obstacles that newcomers face, so that the communities can benefit from user growth.

Special requirements
Slides or further information

Research:Editor retention


Interested attendeesEdit

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

  1. Максим Стоялов
  2. Tgr (talk) 19:52, 10 August 2019 (UTC)
  3. Samat (talk) 20:02, 10 August 2019 (UTC)
  4. Yerpo Eh? 16:14, 13 August 2019 (UTC)


  • Background: Started to help Wikipedians by accident, becoming a mentor to a newbie. People should not be banned to edit, as they contribute for free.
  • His "student" is an active editor, he had 8 requirements in order not to have his articles deleted.
  • Until now he complied with 3 out of 8, practices using sources for his writing.
  • Mentorship is not unique,
  • Retaining community health for inclusive user growth
  • Requirements:
    • non-restrictive mentorship of first-year users (restricions of any bans and deletions for this user - postponing block for a week, letting them fix the mistakes)
    • further help in the next couple of years
  • Result: the first good article written by a newcomer
  • Editing is a stressful situation for a new editor;
  • The admins should provide a clear example or ways to fix the issues, rather than reaching for the final "solution" - block.
  • We often do not know what demands we have from the newcomers, what should the content be like, what ideal is.
  • W faced himself harsh treatment during his first few years. Newcomer coming and creating their first article is a good success.
  • How did we decide one year? What is a newbie? Not months but using templates is the criteria for newbies.
  • People who aren't familiar with the rules of editing in a decent level, there should be objective terms to which all comply so that we can see what is a newbie.
  • To engage with you as the audience, we will try to do the listing: obstacles what newcomers face.
  • W asked the audience to participate in his questionnaire:
    • Remember the year when you started the first wikimedia project: List the years first and then fixate on the obstacles we faced. Maybe it is not up to date
  • Matej - 2009 - inclusion, not clear
  • La Kritzolina started 2014 on Germanwiki, mostly the technical stuff was scary. Templates, references,
  • Mykola from UA 2008 started wrote the first good article: did not feel welcome by a human person, when got rules at the welcome. he did not think really bad for the first two months.
  • Gergő from HU started in 2004, templates were not even invented, it was happy the community that anyone joined. Didn't really have any obstacles but that has joined since then. It was easier to join back then.
  • Tamás from HU started 2007, most obstacle: not easy to find out what can i do and where to ask, newcomers face more than ... inpatience, which is not idea for retention
  • Mykola: in Ukraine people are slightly tired of explaining to newcomers, no explanations given. Barnstars.
  • Christine from DE, not an active editor but works for WMDE, did some research about technical obstacles newbies face. Did testing with newbies. They watched them interacting with wiki. The terminology and concepts are not known to them. Also from other research: in the answers are a problem, did not feel very welcome.
  • Natalia from PL, started 2008, main obstacle was the technical things looked intimidating, tables, until VIsual Editor she could not do tables. problem with communicating., discussion pages flow. Didn't know where to find help and information.
  • Michal from PL, started 2004, was much easier then, people were enthusiastic, got a welcome message in a few minutes. Even got two messages. In created an article, got a conflict of edit a person started correcting him, copyediting this won him over. It was very collaborative, had it been deleted he would not have stuck to it. Editing rules: how article should look like not clear.
  • Jernej from started 2007, things were a bit simpler then, no problems with technology, just duplicated what others were doing, main source of confusion did not understand the nature of wikipedia. Was not sure when it was proper to mess with other people's work. Found an article that was horrible but did not dare to edit it.
  • Nataša from Glam Macedonia, started in 2013, when started didn't know she could write on wikipedia, there was a competition. she needed help but was mentored by a young boy of 14 years. After that she made her own wiki club at her high school. Then she became a mentor. Now she is in primary school where she has a wiki club. No technical obstacles, mentorships solves things.
  • Žana from Glam Macedonia created account in 2007 did not start before 2008, she was a blogger so it was similar. Problem was with references.
  • Tanweer - India, started in 2009, the biggest problem was the internet, internet was expensive, had to go to cafés which was expensive
  • Tomasz from PL started 2008 did not have much problem, found a niche where nobody cared about. Was a good start for learning what to do. What goes where in the structure, what is a category, what goes into infoboxes. What are external links that can be added.
  • Cornelius from WMDE started as volunteer in 2004, when he was 14. Was just interested in correcting typos, understanding licensing of photos, it is hard to explain what is a CC license
  • Daria from Poland but works for WMUK where she does outreach, started there in 2012 first edit was on had worked for Diabetes UK and first edit was reverted by DocJames. There was a reference but it was too old, there was already a high standard of references.
  • La Kritzolina adds: suspect of being a sock-puppet, because her username was close to a name of an admin Giolina.
  • Matej adds: wikipedia - wikidata relatonship is being closer, so people don't know what should be added
  • Task #2:
    • Let us try to list two problems which are the most important. What is the essence of the problem: from the newcomers' point of view and from the other side (if there is one).
      • Inclusion, infoboxes, technical references, no explanations for blocks, welcoming template was a mess, people were tired
      • welcoming message overwhelming
      • no welcoming messages
      • no explanation for mistakes (tired experienced users)
      • impatience
      • unclearness how and where to contribute (when the Help Page does not work)
      • terminology
      • suspicion
      • tables
      • how to answer to requests and questions that are not posted on your personal discussion page
      • problem with editing tools
      • encyclopedical style
      • editing scare: scared to edit what is already big but have big mistakes
      • categories
      • licenses for (wiki Commons)
      • conflict of edits
    • Mykola turned them into clusters:
      • technical
      • negative feedback and reverts instead of explanation
      • sources and references
      • communication with people you don't know
      • unclear help and terminology pages
      • not sure you can edit
      • not understanding encyclopedic style
      • licenses
  • Lack of communication might be the big issue, without the feedback newbies won't stay
  • We should be aware that during time we became experienced wikipedians,
    • some issues are outdated, other are unknown, since people who could name them have left because of those problems
  • Mykola: communication yes, technical first though
  • Natalia: we don't know why people do not edit, had a strategy salon and there was an idea: what happened when people do not finish
  • W: not knowing is also a good answer
  • Gergő: data plans depends on where you are in the world. sw development is a shared effort so WMF does not do translations, does not do documentation too well, integration too well. WMF makes sw easier to use VisEd but communities do not follow up on that. in HU for editathon the use text editor because the old guard has not changed their ways. VisEd is not easy to use for hu newcomers.
  • Tomasz: give workshops for editors and most of them 99% do not return to editing. It is not enough to create a friendly environment, most probably most of editors do not have a psychological needs. they are only curious. after workshop they understand it but do not edit on an everyday basis. It is a hard task to become an editor.
  • Jernej: repeats the issue: communication can be crucial, as admins longtime users we get tired of explaining, the other issue is the system, the technical basis of talk in wp general. He got valuable feedback from a guy who was org a wiki project in class. They got friendly messages but did not get the impression that it was for them personally, it was through the interface. Talk pages are really archaic compared to other internet pages, this should be a focus for improvement.
  • Take everything into account that has been said.
  • Take into account one question: Is it possible to find a solution?
  • There is a casual user. Can we improve the experience for the newcomers?
  • The topic is also for any other users, it might influence the whole community as community health not just newcomers health.
  • Question: can we do anything about it.
  • Matej: We have newcomers, they come and make an article, see that it has been reworked by older editors so there is no necessity for them to stay? - Let's see the value of the newcomers
  • How can the experience editors value the newcomers?
  • Michal: people have different needs motivation is the most important: we can help newcomers with the skills, but not with the motivation outreach is not effective: give skill to people who are not motivated they have thousands who want to be because their first time experience is nasty. We tried this wiki thing but it did not work for us. They have on wikiGuides... now they are trying to do online services, there is a person to actively work with you. Someone you could call. We could dedicate resources to have someone help you personally. It needs resources but the numbers we obtain are worth it. You may have stickers (people who stick) which is a big value
  • Tanweer: an important question: how did we overcome these obstacles? The new people will have to face in a new way: our problems come from 2004-2009, but today the problems are different. The second problems: what are the new problems. They are slightly different. Who can have this conversation?
  • Jan from CZ: analysis how Wikipedia in general is portrayed in the media, also a graph of how many people joined in these times. We should overlay these graphs is there a correlation? Are we a thing still? How can we address the media? We have so many events we have so much. How will we be sure people can hear it. Our outreach is very limited.
  • Tgr: there is not less buzz around wp than it used to be. The number of new users has not much changed over time, but has changed the survival rate to a third from 2008. This is the most obvious bottle neck. Why is it harder for people to stay around and become seasoned editors.
  • Christel: we do uncentered outreach in a local library, we do not think about what people want to create in terms of content, we do not learn about this. We need to think about the specific groups of our potential editors. Perhaps minorities within your countries or second-generation immigrants into your country. Or people with a certain handicap. These people could be motivated to share their knowledge but we are not coming to them in a way that they feel welcomed.
  • Jan from CZ: senior project they are proud of. We believe they are successful because they have a good lecturer. And started w people who are not addressed by other activities. There was a guy for electrical engineering.
  • Mykola from UA: On they found they don't have less newcomers, the problem is that people do not stay. What is wrong with this? People don't feel like there is good communication with them, nobody thanks them. We are good at giving negative feedback.
  • W: Wikimedians from Macedonia, regarding the topic of mentorship in Macedonia, from women. One woman in, they are fast in promoting women. Women do not want to rule the community, but men don't want to be admins (?). W wants to share his hope. The absence of women, mentorship is not for the one guy who got blocked forever, but also a way to bring more women aboard. Perhaps you can solve two problems with one shot here. Maybe not women-centered officially but in nature yes.
  • Nataša: maybe it was easier for me because I teach macedonian language, now she does not have her wikiClub at her school, now it evolved into a city wiki club, many children from secondary school come but are growing up. They are mentoring each other.
  • W: maybe we need a wikischool instead of wikiversity.
  • Mykola: we found on uk.wp that there are many readers for school purposes. Found a correlation with the curriculum, the best way was to reach out to teachers to ask for them to contribute to these articles. So we get improvement for the topics and also more diversity and also solving problem of teachers not recommending wikipedia to their students.
  • Tamweer: we did not talk about harassment yet, why have we not spoken about it? Toxic discussions etc. They are part of the community health as well, not only tables, categories, templates, references...!
  • Jan: in CZ they work with teachers, librarians are also pro-wikipedia: also how to get involved in the chapter.
  • Christel: add to Tamweer, created a meetup for other parts of community health- At the meetup page.
  • Tamás: announcing today between 18 and 19 in the Belgrade room, meetup about editor retention: