Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Editing/Flag edits by new editors (editor retention tool)

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  • Problem: Wikipedia is steadily losing editors. If a new editor has all their edits reverted, they are much less likely to become a long-term editor (survival drops from three-in-five to one-in-five). Even one revert discourages newbies. Revising or tagging new editors' edits does not have the same discouraging effect. It can even be taken as praise[1]; personalized constructive criticism is especially helpful.[2]

    In other words, every time I help two to three new editors make their first retainable, productive edits, I win Wikipedia a long-term editor and multiply my contribution; and to do this I need to treat the new editor with additional care. Problem is, I don't know who they are, and the user interface makes it difficult for me to not auto-bite newbies.

Experienced editors can deal with a bold revert and a line of jargon, and it's efficient, but it scares new editors off. I want to know when I am interacting with a new editor, so it's easier for me, as an editor, to behave in ways that promote editor retention. For instance:
  1. leaving edit summaries which are educational and comprehensible to a newbie (e.g. link all jargon), so the newbie can learn community norms
  2. tagging edits with Inline cleanup tags, so the newbie can learn what is wrong with their edits
  3. fixing edits (rephrasing copyvio or bias, sourcing, etc.), so the newbie can learn how to make good edits
  • Who would benefit: Increasing retention is critical to the long-term survival of our community.
  • Proposed solution: An icon-style flag on edits, saying this edit was made by a new editor, would be nice. It would also let me rescue edits others have reverted. A list of edits by new editors can already be generated by using filters in Recent changes, but I'd like to see the information in the article history, so I see it in my regular editing practice (that is, without going to a dedicated page, like Recent changes, or using specialized tools such as Snuggle or STiki). Others may prefer a similar flag in watchlists.
While I hope it would prompt help, such a newbie flag might also stigmatize new editors, and thus hurt their integration into the community. This should be tested. One alternative might be to flag only reverted edits by good-faith new editors, and have an edit notice prompting anyone reverting a new editor (especially using a tool) to be aware that this is a new editor, so they can react appropriately.
As I need to mention in the edit summary if I am fixing an edit of a declared-COI editor, a (different, obviously) COI flag for COI edits would also be useful. Flagging edits by vandals reverted with "rvv" with yet another flag might also be an easy extension.
Since helpful advice when reverting good-faith newbies almost always includes a referral to the Teahouse, it might be nice to have that added to the revert notice automatically for the first 2 months/100 edits (or empirically-determined thresholds).
I'm very much open to suggestions here, as I am aware that many others have more knowledge and experience than I in this area.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: HLHJ (talk) 04:15, 30 October 2018 (UTC)



Discussion of rescoped proposal[edit]

The proposal has been changed as above; comments on the new proposal are welcome here. MMiller (WMF), do you have views on how the modified proposal might interact with the Growth Team's work? As DannyH said, the proposal had morphed into a bit of a "have a Growth Team" proposal, but it's smaller now. HLHJ (talk) 01:40, 15 November 2018 (UTC)


  • Support Support Stussll (talk) 00:51, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 04:25, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Gnangarra (talk) 09:37, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Barcelona (talk) 18:56, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose Old serious editors now dislike Wiki because any newcomers can wreck well done pages, which requested hours of effort. Once the time all stubs were welcome, now this phase is ended: all main subjects are covered, quality of articles is now needed. Too much indulgence with newcomers has the only effect that old serious editors will leave Wiki. A ntv (talk) 08:23, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    • This is an interesting hypothesis, A ntv, that wiki maturity caused the abrupt transition from exponential growth in editor numbers to a slow decline. However, the same transition occurred at the the same time on many, but not all, other wikis, which mostly have far fewer articles than the English Wikipedia.[7] It seems that old editors are leaving at the same rate as they did before the transition, but we are getting fewer new editors, leading to a steady net loss of editors.[8] Possible causes are discussed on Research:The Rise and Decline. HLHJ (talk) 23:24, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support NMaia (talk) 10:29, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Timeshifter (talk) 15:15, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose reminds me of the StackExchange New Contributor Indicator --Frozen Hippopotamus (talk) 11:22, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Zeromonk (talk) 08:25, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Benjamin (talk) 10:29, 19 November 2018 (UTC)