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Learning patterns/New users are afraid of doing something wrong

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New users are afraid of doing something wrong
problemAn editor is reluctant to contribute because they are unsure whether their idea is helpful or not.
solutionCoach new editors and help them in the contributing path.
creatorI JethroBT
created on11 September, 2014

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Some new editors are known to feel afraid of doing some things wrong. This may result in them being reluctant to contribute to, say, a highly active article like Barack Obama or even a less visible one because they are unsure of whether their idea is helpful or not.

What is the solution?[edit]

As an experienced editor, there are a number of things you can do to help new editors overcome this fear:

  1. Remind the editor that being reverted is not the end of the world and that it is OK to make mistakes.
  2. Suggest using talk pages as a first step to propose ideas before implementing them.
  3. Suggest using global talk page (of Wikiprojects, village pumps, help pages).
  4. Suggest editing existing pages before creating totally new ones. Creating a new article could be a heavy workload.
  5. Suggest avoiding controversial topics such as politics, religion or biographies of living people at least during the first steps. They can address those later.
  6. Recommend that the editor create a draft of the article in their sandbox that implements the change(s). These changes can then be directly presented to others having to explain them at length.
  7. Show lists of to-do articles. They can be cited in Wikiprojects pages, or created by automatic lists such as "more requested pages" (analysis of red links) or Listeria bot lists (from wikidata).
  8. Show maintenance categories of related to the topic the newbie is interested in, such as a subcategory of w:en:Category:Articles_lacking_sources or articles assessed with low ratings.

General considerations[edit]

  • It is important to remind newer editors interested that creating and improving articles is not a race and that there are no deadlines.
  • It can sometimes be helpful to actually make a sandbox page for newer editors and point them to it, since the sandbox creation process is not intuitive.
  • While there are editors who are not here to build an encyclopedia, it's important to avoid jumping to that conclusion too early if they are trying to make good faith efforts to contribute and learn how Wikipedia works.
  • Check the cross-wiki edit count. Editors with expertise from other platforms should be treated more like peers. Don't start with the basics of wikipedia, that may sound offensive. Most of the time they need very specific advice.
  • Know your limit. If a user is interested in a topic you don't know, find someone else to help him or her who is more expert than you are. They can be much more productive together.
  • Be interested in possible conflicts of interest but not as a cop.

When to use[edit]

  • When you notice an editor struggling with an article languishing at Articles for Creation
  • When you notice an editor who has been reverted a few times on plausibly constructive additions on high-profile articles
  • When an editor comes to a help space (like the Teahouse) expressing confusion about why their edits were removed.


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

Other Learning Patterns from Wikimania 2014[edit]

External links[edit]