Grants talk:IEG/Writing Coaching for New Editors

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Latest comment: 11 years ago by Sbouterse (WMF) in topic Budget

This project has not been selected for an Individual Engagement Grant at this time.

We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding, but we hope you'll continue to engage in the program. Please drop by the IdeaLab to share and refine future ideas!

Comments regarding this decision:
Experimenting with coaching is an interesting idea - hope to see you participating in the program again sometime, Paul!

Next steps:

  1. Review the feedback provided on your proposal and to ask for any clarifications you need using this talk page.
  2. Visit the IdeaLab to continue developing this idea and share any new ideas you may have.
  3. To reapply with this project in the future, please make updates based on the feedback provided in this round before resubmitting it for review in a new round.
  4. Check the schedule for the next open call to submit proposals - we look forward to helping you apply for a grant in a future round.
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Aggregated feedback from the committee for Writing Coaching for New Editors[edit]

Scoring criteria (see the rubric for background) Score
1=weakest 5=strongest
Potential for impact
(A) The project fits with the Wikimedia movement's strategic priorities 3
(B) The project has the potential to lead to significant online impact. 3
(C) The impact of the project can be sustained after the grant ends. 3
(D) The project has potential to be scaled or adapted for other languages or projects. 4
Ability to execute
(E) The project has demonstrated interest from a community it aims to serve. 2
(F) The project can be completed as scoped within 6 months with the requested funds. 4
(G) The budget is reasonable and an efficient use of funds. 3
(H) The individual(s) proposing the project have the required skills and experience needed to complete it. 3
Fostering innovation and learning
(I) The project has innovative potential to add new strategies and knowledge for solving important issues in the movement. 2
(J) The risk involved in the project's size and approach is appropriately balanced with its potential gain in terms of impact. 3
(K) The proposed measures of success are useful for evaluating whether or not the project was successful. 3
(L) The project supports or grows the diversity of the Wikimedia movement. 3
Comments from the committee:
  • Project plan would benefit from further details, including budget and goals.
  • Would like to see more demonstrated experience working with new editors on Wikipedia from the proposer.
  • Would like more details on the coaching methodology.
  • Would like to see more community endorsement.
  • Measures of success may be difficult to measure as currently described.

Feedback requested[edit]

Please post your feedback on this proposal, pro or con, here. Thanks! Libcub (talk) 02:22, 7 February 2013 (UTC)Reply


How is "writing coaching" different from standard coaching on the projects? You don't write what it would actually consist of. And why are you considering only and not the oldest and most active mentoring programs as's? --Nemo 07:18, 7 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

I am proposing the English Wikipedia because it is having editor retention problems, to my knowledge there is no existing project exploring improving writing skills on en:W as an editor retention strategy, and English is the language I know best, and have been coaching writers in for several years. By writing coaching, I mean working with new editors on their grammar, style, etc., to help them express themselves in written English as best as they can. Libcub (talk) 16:00, 7 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
I'm sorry but if your project disregards previous experiences on the matter it's IMHO completely worthless. --Nemo 13:09, 12 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
It might be helpful to do some research/discussions with Wikipedians who are familiar with how mentoring programs work in a few projects so far, to avoid pitfalls that have already been tried, and to build of of what works well so far around writing coaching. If this is what you're suggesting, Nemo, I think it is a really good point. But it does also seem realistic to choose one language to pilot a new coaching method in to start, and to make that language one that the grantee is familiar with :-) Libcub, I would be interested in hearing more about how you think you could share what you've learned from a project like this about what works or doesn't for English writing coaching, in a form that may be adapted for other projects later on. Siko (WMF) (talk) 17:53, 12 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Definitely a good idea to learn from our collective past! I was planning to do that if the proposal got approved. If you think the IEG committee would need this done in advance in order to properly evaluate my proposal, and you think my proposal is at least in scope, I could do that now. I just didn't want to spend too much time on this until I had a decent sense of its success. I would be quite happy to share what I learn in whatever way seems best to you all, such as:
  • providing recommendations on how we might move forward, in the final report or separately
  • presenting at Wikimania or another conference, or to WMF staff (would need travel funding if not local or Skype, etc.)
  • forming a volunteer WMF-sponsored committee to determine the feasibility of turning the pilot project into a long-term, sustainable effort
As an incoming PhD student, I would also like to publish an academic paper about the pilot project.
And moving forward doesn't necessarily mean incorporating writing coaching into current projects like the Teahouse, or establishing a similar project. One of the things that WMF has had a lot of success (yes, and some failures) with, and that I get excited about, is partnering with other communities for mutual benefit. One approach, which I have not written up as a proposal, would be to do outreach to and partner with adult ESL classes. A local Wikimedian would present an overview session on one or more WMF projects to a class, and perhaps be available to answer technical wikitext questions, etc., on the class's website. The instructor could give assignments that include editing or writing Wikipedia articles. Potential benefits:
  • The students develop their English writing skills on documents that are not just makework never to see the light of day, that have real-world, sustained value.
  • The instructor has a new way to motivate students, and to have the effects of their teaching have real-world, sustained value.
  • The Wikimedian volunteer gets a new, clear, fairly well time-defined way to contribute.
  • WMF projects and their readers get well-written content, some of which will likely be in cultural areas in which the project is currently lacking.
  • Hopefully a win-win-win-win!
I wasn't really clear how much detail to put in an IEG proposal. I could add a lot more to my draft, but I didn't want readers to lose the forest for the trees, especially those not used to reading grant proposals. Let me know if you feel there are areas that do need fleshing out at this stage in the process. Thanks! Libcub (talk) 18:54, 12 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
I think it would be fine to wait until the grant began to do some more significant research into what works in other projects as a baseline for setting up your work, but you might want to include doing that research as a first phase in your plan - just a thought! Siko (WMF) (talk) 06:03, 18 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Are we allowed to edit our proposals now that it is after the submission deadline? Libcub (talk) 18:34, 18 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
It can't hurt, but it's good to make sure they have at least middling skills already, that they are strongly motivated by interest in some topic, that they aren't too hyper-sensitive about the inevitable criticism, and that they understand becoming a good editor is a long term commitment of several hours week. Otherwise, it can be hard to make it look like a success, say if only 1 of 10 or whatever people keep editing, but that was the one person who best fulfilled all the criteria. Plus, in practice people should focus on those who best fulfill criteria, if only to keep the trainers from getting burned out and frustrated. (Having worked with a group highly motivated on the topic, but not very high on everything else, I know how frustrating it can be. Of course, making those concepts part of the training also helps.) 12:22, 16 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

Gender gap[edit]

Hi Paul, I can see somewhat where the Global South target may come in if you're thinking of writing coaching as being extra important for non-native speakers, but I am confused about how this project would connect with the gender gap. Do we have any evidence that leads us to think that new female editors may need more writing coaching than men? FWIW, I do find the idea of testing whether offering coaching on encyclopedic writing style to new editors in general to be an interesting idea for an experiment for new editor retention. I'm just not convinced about the connection with women in particular. Siko (WMF) (talk) 06:14, 18 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

My rationale is certainly not based on a scientific study, but rather comes out of what I have observed as a manager and a writing coach. In my experience, women tend to underrate their writing skills more than men. So part of this project would be cheerleading--convincing women editors that their writing really is good, including by giving specific positive examples from their writing. Also, women more than men seem to flourish with encouraging, individual, private feedback to develop their skills. I hypothesize that new Wikimedia women would be more active in WMF projects if they felt confident about their writing (and appreciated for their contributions). And women who need to write in their careers seem to highly value improving their writing skills.
My reasoning for including Global Southerners is not so much that they are less likely to be native speakers of English, although that is true. I was coming at this more from the perspective that literacy rates are lower in the Global South, regardless of language, and that English writing skills are marketable around the world. Libcub (talk) 18:34, 18 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for both of these clarifications, I find them compelling and there is certainly gender gap research to back you up on the idea that women tend to do well with more encouragement. Siko (WMF) (talk) 06:34, 23 February 2013 (UTC)Reply


Hi! Please tell us about that sliding scale on your budget - are you asking for funding paid on a per-student basis? Will you set a target number of students for your pilot? Or does it simply mean that you would be willing to adjust the scale of your pilot based on the budget we would be willing to fund? Thanks! Siko (WMF) (talk) 06:37, 23 February 2013 (UTC)Reply