Grants:IEG/Writing Coaching for New Editors

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Writing Coaching for New Editors

project contact:



Paul J. Weiss


Pilot project on providing coaching on writing for editor retention.

engagement target:

New editors who are women or Global Southerners, on English Wikipedia

strategic priority:

Increase Participation

total amount requested:

$3,300-9,700 USD

2013 round 1

Project idea[edit]

This is a pilot project to determine whether coaching new editors on their writing for the English Wikipedia improves editor retention, focusing on women and Global Southerners.

Project goals[edit]

1. To determine whether providing coaching new editors on their writing for the English Wikipedia improves editor retention.

2. To improve a general life skill (writing in English) in the selected new editors, which may have real value to them beyond their Wikipedia participation.

3. To provide an additional welcoming experience for the selected new editors.

Part 2: The Project Plan[edit]

Project plan[edit]


Scope and activities[edit]

The English Wikipedia has developed a number of methods to engage new editors in the hope of improving editor retention. These tend to focus on orienting new editors to the Wikipedia community and culture, and on training on Wikipedia practices, policies, and guidelines. This project would focus on a different possible editor retention strategy--coaching existing new editors on their writing in Wikipedia.

I expect the coaching to run the gamut from validating current writing skills of new editors who underestimate themselves, on up to to major comments, suggestions, and explanations, with much back and forth communication. The coaching will be gender and culturally sensitive.

I will be coaching on drafts of content. The participants retains responsibility for posting content (which may or may not reflect suggestions I have made). The community at large remains responsible for ongoing editing of content once posted.

I am specifically not proposing performing outreach to potential new editors at this time, although that could be added on. I think it is probably best first to find out how effective the coaching is on editor retention and to work out some basic logistics.

Tools, technologies, and techniques[edit]



1. Working with other Wikipedians, determine sources of targeted new editors (Teahouse, Reference desk/Language, Adopt-a-user, Help desk, Editor assistance, New contributors' help page, Editor review, Preferences (gender, time zone), userboxes, etc.).

2. Randomly select potential participants and control group.

3. Offer to provide writing coaching to potential participants, making it very clear that the offer is not due to any perceived lack of quality of their existing writing.



1. Provide all coaching online, via the participant's preferred method (email, free online office suite, on Wikipedia itself, etc.).



1. Compare the editing activity of participants with that of invited participants who did not participate, and that of the control group 2-3 months after the person was selected. Separate analysis of women and Global Southerners.

2. Conduct a survey of the participants to determine their perceptions of the pilot project, and its impact on them.


Total amount requested[edit]

$3,300-9,700 USD

Budget breakdown[edit]

project management = $1,700

start-up = $600
evaluation & reporting = $1,100

writing coaching

20-100 participants = $1,600-8,000

Intended impact:[edit]

Target audience[edit]

New women and Global Southerner editors.

Fit with strategy[edit]

The target audience is the two demographic groups that the strategic priority of Increase Participation emphasizes. Secondarily, the project should Improve Quality for a small number of articles. And it is likely that participants from the targeted demographic groups will write on topics of specific interest to those groups, which will help us Increase Reach in a minor way.


If the pilot project is shown to be a success, coaching on writing could be added to the scope of one or more of the existing projects focusing on new editors, or a new one could be put in place. And note that the writing coaching does not have to be delivered in WMF space. For example, we could refer new editors to appropriate local resources, such as literacy groups and community ESL classes, which can help increase English writing skills.

Measures of success[edit]

Higher Wikipedia productivity of project participants compared to non-participants.


Paul J. Weiss

Librarian, freelance writing coach, writer, and editor. Over 3000 edits on en:W over the last 5 years. Incoming (September 2013) PhD student in information science at the University of Washington, Information School.

Part 3: Community Discussion[edit]


Community Notification:[edit]

I am in the process of posting notifications at these places:


Editor assistance
Editor review
WikiProject Editor Retention
Help desk
New contributors' help page
Village pump (idea lab)
WikiProject Editor Retention/current discussions/gendergap
WikiProject Outreach


Gender gap
Global South projects
Proposals for more female editors


Gendergap mailing list =


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • strongest endorsement editor engagement is a critical success factor to the project. to the extent the foundation funds engagement it will be successful; if it curtails funding it should expect the plateau to continue. Slowking4 (talk) 04:29, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.