Grants:IdeaLab/Reimagining WP Mentorship

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status: idea
Reimagining WP Mentorship
idea creator:
project contact:
  • Ocaasi is helping work on this idea
  • EpochFail is providing software & analysis support
  • Matty.007 is helping wherever he can
  • Jackson Peebles is designing curriculum and a project leader
  • Gabrielm199 interested in supporting analysis and relating relevant experience from education program.
  • Go Phightins! is interested in helping wherever possible including providing resources from his personal adoption course (en:User:Go Phightins!/Adopt) if necessary as well as being a resource as someone who has experienced Adopt-A-User as both an adopter and an adoptee.
  • Steven Zhang wrote one of the first adoption programs which is still in use, and has mentored editors both voluntarily and as part of mandatory arrangements, and would love to work on this grant.
  • Siko is kicking the tires on this idea
Mentorship program designed around a high-touch on-boarding process and a curated user experience allowing for proper matching of newcomers (newbies) and senior editors. The program will address known challenges by focusing on specific modalities for user engagement and retention known to work in other settings.
created on: 17:19, 16 July 2013

Project idea[edit]

There is a vast amount of technical, cultural and institutional knowledge within the Wikimedia community that needs to be more easily transferred to newcomers, the future of the movement depends on it.

Sustained attrition in the Wikipedia contributors' population and increased competition for cognitive surplus has created a new sense of urgency. Recent programs have show encouraging results in attracting and recruiting new editors (GE, GLAM, Tea House). Editors' support programs such as Adopt-a-user, Editor Assistance, Editor Review see moderate adoption. Still knowledge transfer, mentorship and retention of new contributors remains a challenge.

To increase our chances of successfully building the next generation of Wikipedians we need a new mentorship program designed around a high-touch on-boarding process and a curated user experience. This new format will allow for proper matching of newcomers (newbies) and senior editors without burdening or misusing valuable time and talent. The program will address some known challenges by focusing on specific modalities for user engagement and retention known to work in other settings. Please see Project Notes & Brainstorm for details. Sylvia Slventura (talk) 20:12, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Project components[edit]

The project will be built around three core modalities

  • User preferences & settings (profile),
  • Matchmaking (optional, directing new users to people and projects),
  • Recognition & Rewards (acknowledgement of effort, accomplishments and readiness to contribute and participate)

Below is an initial list of project components. I'll be adding/updating content under each segment as discussions take place and feedback comes in. Your input is valuable!!

  • Outreach – mechanisms to promote and publicize the program within and outside the community
  • Welcome – program tutorial, FAQ, Get Started
  • Enrollment – profile, user settings and preferences (mentees/mentors)
  • Matching – of mentees/mentors and projects based on preferences
  • Completion – recognition of accomplishments, validation and rewards
  • Mentee to Mentor Path – user experience to progress from mentee to mentor status

other. AND/OR Experienced user interested in mentoring in a specific area.

  • Referral & Network – onboarding existing resources and referral mechanisms from TeaHouse, HelpDesk, other points of contact with newbies
  • Evaluation – program evaluation and calibration before large-scale roll out
  • Brand – strong brand identity will be needed to tie in the user experience and recognition/program reward system and the community
  • Pilot team – mentors, mentees, graphic/program designers, engineer, project coordinator, supporters, YOU! Sylvia slv (talk) 22:32, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Project goals[edit]

Improve new contributors experience. Increase onboarding and retention rate of new Wikipedians. Increase knowledge flow from experienced wikipedians to new wikipedians.

Project map[edit]

Project outreach Activities and mechanisms used to promote and publicize the mentorship program. There will be an official program launch with announcements in talk pages, mailing lists, meta blog entry, (and other appropriate communication channels). After the initial launch there will be an ongoing outreach effort to invite new users to the program and to communicate on program progress.

Program components (Describes some user experience)

STEP 1: Welcome This page welcomes users with a brief tutorial on the program – walking them through 5 short slides: about the program, how it works, why you should enroll, what’s in it for me, plug in for the Mentor status. Offer links to useful resources for newbies (tutorials, Teahouse, FAQ…) This is a partial list of existing areas and resources for new editor as an example of places within Wikipedia where this program could be promoted and get referrals from.

STEP 2: Enrollment “Get Started” Tell us who you are: This area offers a mentor/mentee page to fill out with profile preferences that will include interest, availability, editing activity (possibly data pulled from Snuggle?); topics, specialty, geography, other relevant criteria. Once this step is completed, the user is officially enrolled in the program. comment: * It will become more clear what specific criteria we need to capture once we have had a chance to speak with leading mentors in the Adopt-a-User program, Teahouse, and other existing mentorship programs. Knowing the reasons people drop out or where there might be a need for more support will help us address these in the design of the program. * Step #2 and #3 could be reversed – this could be part of a/b testing as users might/or not wish to get familiar with the program/people/projects before they enroll.

STEP 3: “Meet your match” [self-select] Once a Profile page is created users are redirected to their page where they can self-select to be paired with mentors/projects:

Meet the Mentors this page is seen by newbies and shows a list of mentors with name, profile and preferences (availability status, specialty, interests, geo area, program credentials) Select a project >> Select a mentor >> Connect
Meet the Mentees this page is seen by mentors and shows a list of mentees (date of enrollment, interest/needs, number of edits, activity, possibly enriched with data pulled from Snuggle? Select mentee >> Select project >> Connect
Program Alums this page is seen by everyone and features a list of ex-mentees who have become mentors. Active mentors on this list will also appear on the ‘Meet the Mentors’ page. There will be a link to the Alums page on the “welcome” page as well to promote the program and showcase graduates.

STEP 4: “Matchmaking” [automated] If the mentee has not picked a project, suggestions for projects AND a list of mentors based on matching preferences will be offered. Accept >> Connect Likewise, the mentors will see a list of new mentees suggestions. Experienced mentors might also use Snuggle to find mentees, but suggestions will be made both ways based on preferences. Accept >> Connect

comment: During the pilot phase it would be interesting to look at the percentage of compatibility (aligned expectations) of each pairing and how it correlates with project completion and positive/negative outcomes. Negative here being drop out or conflict. Positive being full completion, pick up new project AND/OR graduation to Mentor Status -more details under Measure of Success.

STEP 5: “Training Completion and Graduation”

Mentee: At project completion mentees will be asked to send a “THANK YOU” token with a comment (optional) to their mentor. The format of the token is to be determined and will tied in with the program’s brand. This token stays on the mentor’s page as proof of participation and Mentor Status.
Mentor: will have the option to fill out a short completion survey highlighting what was covered with the trainee during the project (policy, technical, social, specific knowledge). Mentor will be given the option to send a “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW AN OFFICIAL WIKIPEDIAN” token to the mentee (format to be determined). This token stays on the user page. This will be part of the “Graduation” and a “Credentials trail” that validates this new user within the community and gives him/her access to Mentor status.

STEP 6: “Mentee to Mentor path”: Process by which we guide and incent newly graduates (mentees) into becoming Wikimedia mentors. The core component is a Mentor in Training phase, an extra period during which an experienced mentor will assist a younger mentor in wikipedia's mentorship best practices. Mentors will have the option to fill out a short completion survey highlighting what was covered with the trainee during the Training (policy, technical, social, specific knowledge). Mentor will be given the option to send a “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW AN OFFICIAL MENTOR” token to the trainee (format to be determined). This token stays on the user page.

Project Measure of success[edit]


  • Reengaging with the program – with same mentor or a different one
  • Taking on a new project
  • Create a brand new project
  • Graduating from mentee to mentor status
  • Joining the pool of mentors and take on new mentees
  • Use of THANK YOU-tokens with positive comment (optional) at the end of the project
  • Use of CONGRATULATIONS-tokens with positive comment (optional) at the end of the project
  • Refer new people to the program

Not desirable

  • Drop out - mentor or mentee drops out of the program. (In the pilot we will follow up with everyone to learn about experience and what can be improved)
  • Conflict (we'll try to follow up to identify areas of high friction and try to address these in the design of the final program)
  • Lack of adoption, lack of interest from community

Project Notes, Details & Brainstorming[edit]

Please see Grants:IEG/Reimagining WP Mentorship for the grant proposal.

Extra notes and research


  • Program: the complete process both mentors and mentees go through, from enrolling and filling out preferences to graduation and project closure.
  • Project: framework around which both mentor and mentee will interact, it will be time and/or goals bound. Once project is completed, mentors and mentees can move on into another project within the program.
  • Mentee: new editor in need of support and training in the inner workings and protocols of Wikipedia
  • Mentor: experienced Wikipedia contributor wishing to educate a new Wikimedian
  • Graduation: the passing from the status of Mentee to a Wikipedian and hopefully a Mentor as well
  • Token: a form of recognition and acknowledgement of accomplishments by the program participants like barnstars or badges.
  • Credentials: amount of THANK YOUS and CONGRATULATIONS and other forms of reward, recognition (TBD) the program participants accumulate.
  • Referral: activities and mechanisms to refer mentors and mentees to the program. Including messaging, format, tracking (to be developed)
  • Evaluation & Reporting: some criteria is described in Measure of Success, other qualifiers will be duration of engagement, % of conversion from mentee to mentor, number of projects completed, number of tokens exchanged/positive feedback. Updates will be given periodically. Evaluation of the project’s success and recommendations will be made at completion of the pilot.

Creative sandbox[edit]

(brainstorm ideas here for names, themes and other experience enhancement, tools for this program)


  • WikiFIT as in fitness program
    • I hate it. Sorry. Personal aesthetics. --Jackson Peebles (talk) 01:27, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
      • Personally, it reminds me of Wii Fit. Matty.007 (talk) 12:53, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
  • WikiTrainer

Open questions[edit]

  • I'd love to hear from people who have participated in existing Adopt-a-user programs (on English Wikipedia or elsewhere) - what are some of the challenges you face in the current program? Siko (WMF) (talk) 05:21, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Hi,
I have loitered around a few of these projects, and recently dabbled my hands at Adoption too. I think the most important challenge we as a mentor face is that mentorship becomes too time and energy consuming. The current structure we have takes away too much from the mentor's resources throughout the programme, which leaves little room for taking up multiple adoptees. A way around that would be a somewhat unified and simplified "syllabus" for all adoptees.
Another option worth looking into will be for multiple adoptees to handle anyone, say divided by the "subject" being taught.
I've also found that direct human interaction is also extremely important, especially for the over-enthusiastic adoptees, in which case a unified location for adoptees to have direct chats (Not the Teahouse Question-Answer format) would be quite helpful. The current irc channel at #wikipedia-en-helpers does take some useful steps towards this, as we always have some experienced folks loitering around.
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 06:09, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
[I am not active at meta, so all replies should have a talkback for me at Enwiki]
Hi TheOriginalSoni, thank you so much for your comment! You bring two super important points. The 'level of commitment' required and the expectations from both parties (I need 'x', I can only offer 'y') that, if known, could be better framed; for example by having the option for time/task restricted mentorship, micro-mentorships, or stage-mentorship. Your second point, which I fully agree with, is the need for a space for ongoing interaction that's not a Questions-Answer help desk, and to be fair I think the TeaHouse is meeting some of that need already. I've spent the past couple days going through the vast amount of resources and tools for newbie editors, there are literally hundreds of pages and tutorials, so the challenge here is not about the data or access to information, it's there (albeit overwhelming) the missing part seems to be the curation. Having a program that is lightly structured and has some agreed baseline criteria for everyone coming in (I need help with "x", I can help with "y") will hopefully have a better chance succeed. Sylvia Slventura (talk) 01:46, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi Slv,
One thing that can be done is having certain mentors take up "chapters" to be taught. So one person will be teaching that particular topic to all the adoptees concerned. I'm not sure what effects that exactly would bring, but we can always consider it.
Also, what newbies need is more of a unification of the help places. They probably get confused by the number of help places, but if we consolidate them to present their TL;DR versions in a simple presentable format to them, I think it would be very helpful
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 13:39, 21 July 2013 (UTC) [Once again, please leave a tb on enwiki :) ]
Hi TheOriginalSoni, These are great suggestions! Having some option for mentors to chose their mentoring around specific areas, or levels (first timers vs. intermediate editors) would offer some flexibility. The information consolidation poses interesting challenges but probably worth exploring some easier ways to make information more accessible - maybe as a multitiered approach? It'd be very helpful to have input from contributors who've worked on tutorials and materials and have their feedback on this. All great points!! Sylvia Slventura (talk) 05:05, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Just so you have a starting point as to who are the adopters you can approach, Yunshui, Matty.007 and Jackson Peebles are three adopters who would have somewhat similar adoption programs. They and Worm That Turned would be helpful starting points for trying to set up such a system. I myself will be time constrained in the coming weeks, but I can try to help once in a while if someone leaves me a ping/mail. :)
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 06:29, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you very much!! I had Yunshui and Peebles on my radar, I am now adding Matty and Worm! They all sound fantastic, Yunshui has done a ton of work with tutorials and teaching tools, Peebles has a project on the ideaLab to enrich the Adopt-a-user program with the Education Program. I'll look at Matty and Worm's to learn more about their work. There's lots of knowledge and good material out there. I am planning on reaching out to this group in the next couple days so perfect timing.  :) Cheers, Sylvia Slventura (talk) 04:07, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

  • My questions about this project:
  1. Are you planning on a standard course? This would give a more mechanical feel, everyone would have the same course, which would make the adoptees not have a unique feeling where adopters create lessons
    1. Hi Matty, those are really good questions, thank you! It's a bit early in the process to talk about the exact format of the program, right now we are still in the testing of ideas, gathering reactions, getting input from past experience, assessing where we're loosing folks, challenges, opportunities, all that good stuff. What we know from experience is that for an adoption/retention/compliance program to work you need a certain number of mechanisms in place (criteria, sorting, matching, showcase, recognition, reward, support/curation, interaction space...) To give you a sense of where we are in the discussions, the idea would be to create a modular program (course) that includes the 3 or 4 areas a mentor should have good knowledge of, these are: technical proficiency & wmf environment (how/where do I do "x"), policy (can I do "y"), culture (how do I handle "z") and if applicable, the topic of the project (, history.... )
  1. Are you planning on having the Thank yous at the end of the courses to be giveable via WikiLove?
    1. It could be taking existing badges or creating a whole new reward/recognition system that is very closely tied to the brand of the program - the latter might be the right option for this just because in the process of designing the rewards/recognition tools, we might (if we have the capacity) want to create some cool, fun user experience (this might be a phase II - post pilot) where a user can unlock icons that are VERY rare and very COOL and can only be unlocked by accomplishing specific tasks once out of the program - this is all really designed to keep folks interested and involved (specially newest generation of newbies). Learning how to edit doesn't mean you can't have fun, showing the light side of this community and get a bit more "play" into the work will go a long way :)
  1. Have you considered a specialized IRC channel, #wikipedia-en-adoption or something similar? Adopters and adoptees could go there and chat about their courses, and adopters could chat about courses. There could be two separate channels, #wikipedia-en-adopters and #wikipedia-en-adoptees
    1. That's a GREAT idea Matty, having held a few twitter chatrooms, the challenge will be moderating it on an ongoing basis, but that is definitely something we should consider doing in the pilot and see what the value is, it might be very worth or necessary to curate a live channel on an ongoing basis - definitely to be explored.
  1. You could have a chat with the people at the welcoming committee, with a view to adding a link to the mentorship program in the templates
    1. Interesting point. I am not familiar with the Welcoming Committee, is it active and what's its current function? Who is hosting it? How does it differ from Teahouse or the A-A-U welcome page? (sorry I didn't mean to bombard you with questions here :). I am still pretty new and only a few weeks into this research process I'm still discovering tons of good pages. Which leads to my next thought: the challenge we have is not the lack of content, pages, areas to connect, data or even people, we've got it all right here. The challenge is navigating this beautiful maze, finding the right match, measure progression. Some Adopter's pages are truly mind-boggling with unbelievable amounts of great content that's just sitting there, hidden used by one user only, when so many could benefit from it! Having a single place to share best practices and the best programs would be very valuable for everyone. It doesn't mean this changes the experience for mentors and mentees necessarily, each mentor will still have their own style, preferences, their own way of teaching, interacting, same for the mentee, but there will be a core curriculum we know will be delivered and absorbed by newbies and we'll be confident that work done by that group will be outstanding and reliable!

Thanks, Matty.007 (talk) 10:23, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for all the questions Matty! Best, Sylvia Slventura (talk) 19:34, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

I realize I didn't answer your last suggestion -- YES, I would love to have a chat with the people in the Welcoming Committee, what's the best way to set up a call? Thank you for pointing in me the right direction Matty! Slventura (talk) 21:08, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

I would suggest speaking on their talk page, which seems a little inactive. If you don't get a reply within a few days, you could ask at the Teahouse, or on the -en-help freenonde IRC. I have a welcome template which I designed which I use, a very colourful one with links to adoption, and a grey one, otherwise the same. You may need to create a special template, along the lines of

'Hi! I see you have been making some constructive edits to Wikipedia, the World's biggest online encyclopaedia. We have a learning course, where you can be taught by experienced editors about all the aspects of Wikipedia. We hope you join us! Thanks, ~~~~.

If you like the sound of it, I could make it in my en Wikipedia sandbox, and then we could try and get it onto Twinkle's welcoming templates. Thanks, Matty.007 (talk) 14:51, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

Hi Matty, thank you for jumping right in, this is great input. I'll reach out to their page and to the teahouse folks. We might be a bit too early to start creating templates and pages at this stage, it seems that we're still getting our heads around what the components of this program should be, what can be improved, where does it fit while trying to keep it all under a "mentorship big tent" -- actually this might be a good time to start a "Wish List" for this program so we can start capturing the ideas and suggestions that are being made. I'll do it right now. Cheers! slv (talk) 18:07, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
  • I like the idea in general. We've had issues in the past with relatively inexperienced mentors trying to perform various mentorship roles, and I support some sort of vetting process to ensure that the mentors are actually relatively well-versed in what they're "teaching". That said, I worry about a "mentoring the mentors" project. It sounds like it will create more work, and I'd rather have mentors that are somewhat more organically experienced with the project. GorillaWarfare talk 18:58, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi GorillaWarfare, you make a valid point. The good thing about an IEG pilot is that we don't need to build a huge scale program to test some of the newer ideas and assumptions, with a small team and a focused program we can validate (or not) what works and get to some good programing structure for our community. Cheers! Sylvia slv (talk) 21:55, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Were you planning on having a vote to decide if editors are sufficient to become Mentors, or would that end in a decline in the number of requests, such as at requests for adminship? 12:38, 30 July 2013 (UTC) sorry, I forgot to log in: Matty.007 (talk) 20:30, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi Matty, good question, we were not really thinking about a vote system, the way we'd like to approach this is more skill-centric where mentees will learn specific skills based on their specific intests and grow their capacity from there. They can 'unlock' skill badges as they go, once they've unlock a certain amount covering the basic skills an editor/contributor should have they are good to fly on their own, or comeback for additional skills. Same goes for mentoring, some folks might specialize in specific areas (vandalism, policy, commons ...) and could be mentoring in these area alone. I'm traveling for the next few days with limited web access, apologies in advance for delayed response. Thanks for keeping the creative juices going!! Cheers, Sylvia slv (talk) 05:43, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Hi Slventura, I was meaning to ask if you were going to let anyone adopt another user, or would they have to be voted for by Wikipedians? Thanks, Matty.007 (talk) 10:02, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

hi Matty, I see what you're asking now. I think it makes most sense to grandfather-in existing mentors from the adopt-a-user program (and maybe other folks that are doing awesome editor support/training work in a non formal way) which are the best groups we have and want to makensure to keep.. For the new mentors we would ask them to specify areas of interest and insure that can mentor on these. I don't this this is a vote scenario, it's more creating a space with people that can enable flow of knowledge and culture in a fluid and more 'organized' :). Cheers! slv (talk) 19:41, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Project 'wish list'[edit]

Captures ideas on specific functionality & experience for a Wikipedia Mentorship Program. It's meant to be the "kitchen sink' (go wild!). It is *not* a project/product specs.

  • Regular live office hours (IRC, Google hangout, other)
  • Welcoming Committee: links on welcoming templates to the adoption program
  • Creation of user profile w/preferences
  • Matchmaking of people: mentors <> mentees <> projects (based on preferences)
  • Time/task/project restricted mentorship, micro-mentorships, or stage-mentorship
  • List of projects - red links
  • Mentor-to-Mentor referral (I can’t do this but “so and so” can)
  • Graduation, Rewards/Recognition, Achievements Wall
  • Mentee-to-Mentor path option through a Mentor-in-Training program
  • Perhaps help from set editors with experience of userpages: this would make editors feel at home, and make them feel helped

Mentorship issues this project might address[edit]

  • Lack of clear path from mentee to mentor - currently in en-wiki adopt-a-user program, we've heard that sometimes new adoptees want to become adoptors too quickly. Perhaps a clearer pathway/training/requirements are needed for adoptors?
  • Adoptors/Adoptees leaving partway through (long adoption period?) - the partner is left hanging, has put in time and energy with no final payoff

Get involved[edit]

Welcome, brainstormers! Your feedback on this idea is welcome. Please click the "discussion" link at the top of the page to start the conversation and share your thoughts.

  • The question was posed earlier as to whether or not there should be a standardized approach to "adopt-a-user" or a similar program. I'm a bit torn on this one, but I would like to take this opportunity to (brag, in a way, I suppose) point out what seems to be working for me. At en:Education_Program:Western_Michigan_University/Wikipedia_(2013_Q2), I have a course. The lessons are linked to and standardized. The exams are standard. The answers, however, are not - there are multiple correct answers to each question. Furthermore, students have their questions answered through talk page interactions, so it is mentorship and one-on-one, in a way. The point of this was so that there can be multiple instructors and volunteers; this avoids overloading the instructor (even though it's in my namespace rather than WP space). This course could accommodate students on a large scale, given more instructors and WP space. So, I'm a proponent for one-on-one communication, but also for standardization so that everyone learns the same minimum and so that the "credential," if you will, has some merit, no matter what. The one-on-one segment is still essential, though, if mostly to be able to answer questions and to reduce dropout. --Jackson Peebles (talk) 01:26, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I've been asked to provide some input on curriculum, and here's a list of things that I teach (adopted from GP and WTT - always have to give credit to the creators) and their related modules:
  1. Neutrality -
  2. Reliable sources -
  3. (Anti-)Vandalism -
  4. Assuming Good Faith -
  5. Ettiquette -
  6. Twinkle -
  7. Mannerism when approaching disputes -
  8. Making your argument -
  9. Formal dispute resolution -
  10. CSD -
  11. PROD -
  12. (A/X)fD -
  13. General copyright -
  14. Image copyright -
  15. Fair use -
  16. Consensus -
  17. IAR -
  18. Projects -
  19. Patrolling -
  20. Using tools or building articles -

I would like to see more on anti-vandalism and content creation without overwhelming the end user. I also want to include video tutorials and interactivity. --Jackson Peebles (talk) 01:26, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

  • Should the lessons be up to the adopter to write, thus personalizing, and making it a commitment, do they use set courses, which they can re-word, or have they got to do set lessons? Matty.007 (talk) 12:55, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
hi Matty, we will leave it to the Mentors to use whatever materials they prefer. The program is built around skills. We'll have a directory of suggested materials for use as reference, Experienced mentors might use their own materials, which is absolutely fine, new ones will hopefully use existing materials, and if they chose to adapt it to their own style - the goal is to train new folks on specific skills so they can do it well. And hopefully make it easy and fun for everyone. Cheers! slv (talk) 04:30, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

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