Wikipedia:Encourage the newcomers

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Let's all be friends and help out the newcomers in the nation of Wikipedia.

If you have ever been on an online collaborate project, you will always have a share of people willing to help or people who are simply plain bored and go out to vandalize for pure enjoyment. However, for Wikipedia, it is a place where everyone can come along and come and edit, regardless of age, gender, race or religion, just like on any place on the internet. However, there is a major concern in Wikipedia's system – Newcomers find it extremely difficult to get used to the ever-growing prestige it has established to this day due to the swamp of rules that govern the website and tend to feel somewhat clueless about it.

All this falls under one thing: Biting the newcomers, where they believe that Wikipedia is not the place for them. However, there is just one simple solution: in order to keep an ever-growing and loving community to allow everyone to act and edit peacefully without being too hard, one must remember that we should always encourage the newcomers.

How to train and retain a newcomer[edit]

  • Respond promptly. An immediate response promotes more engagement.
  • Criticize the newbies. Personalized constructive criticism not only improves editing skills, it increases the chances that an editor will stick around;[1] it is even be taken as praise.[2] Give helpful information as it is needed.
  • Give the newbie models of good editing, say by fixing their edits and being civil (this also improves their chances of becoming constructive regular editors).
  • If newbies' edits are rejected, their chances of becoming regular editors drop from three-in-five to one-in-five. Newbies want to contribute. They want to have made a difference. Move, tag, or fix their edits wherever you can.
  • If you must revert, your job is not done. Help them make at least one retainable, productive edit. If they do, there is a good chance that you have won Wikipedia an editor and multiplied your contribution to the project. Even just referring someone to the Teahouse improves retention.[3]


War is never the answer to a newcomer. That's the attitude that will gain you more opposition.

It's true, and this could have been you. When we are new to Wikipedia, we have a major tendency to forget that Wikipedia operates under many policies and as a result, that does put certain experienced editors under the question if they have a competency issue to edit a serious encyclopedia such as Wikipedia for the time being. However, having said that, one shouldn't be too quick to judge if that editor has the necessary incompetency issue. If they are vandalizing/trolling/making test edits, kindly revert it, guide them and tell them that what they did was incorrect. That way, a newcomer will start to get a feel of how editing Wikipedia is really like. Going to WP:AIV might seem a bit too harsh on newcomers, and might not be very beneficial. Carefully watch the editor for a week or two before reporting them for vandalism or other faults. We are all on the learning curve, and yes, we all do make mistakes. After all, we are humans, not some automatons from outer space.

The major fault is that issuing a warning template can often anger new comers, and it's possible that the editor may or may not accept your input. Give it some time, preferably a week or two. If the editor continues to troll or is clearly demonstrating an attitude/behavior that they are not here to help, then that's where you decide appropriate actions need to be taken by fellow administrators. If possible, you might want to adopt them, and guide them, but that's really a newcomer's call really.

How to stop them from treading on the wrong path[edit]

If a newcomer you recently met just got banged by an indef-block, simply tell them to consider two options: either a mentorship, or a standard offer. This is, in most people's opinion, a better way to give an indef-blocked editor a chance to come back and edit. Don't encourage them to take up new accounts and edit under new names, and don't encourage them to go on the wrong path. Encouraging trouble won't help you nor will it help him, and simply makes you look like a jerk in front of the whole community. Remember that this could potentially be troll feeding.

See also[edit]

  1. ^ a b (PDF). doi:10.1145/1718918.1718940 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of Participation in a Collaborative Online Encyclopedia
  3. ^ "Evaluating the impact of the Wikipedia Teahouse on newcomer socialization and retention" (PDF).