This page describes several types of common scenarios that we anticipate will describe the motivations and needs of new users who are invited to the Teahouse.
These scenarios and use cases are based on:
- research conducted during the Wikipedia Summer of Research on the kinds of help that new users ask for (writeups available here, here and here)
- research done for the Editor Trends Study and Interface and tools for community health
- direct input from members of complementary new user engagement initiatives such as Online Ambassadors and GLAM
Note: in prioritizing these use cases into feature requirements, we have most heavily relied on use cases 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 4.1, and 4.3.
Scenario #1 - Requesting Technical Help
Use case 1.1: dealing with images
A new user is interested in improving an article on a historic church in the city she lives in. The article does not currently have any pictures of the building, but she has a good one that she took last year for a local history assignment she wrote for school. She isn't sure where to upload her image, or how to make it show up the right size on the page (possibly with a caption). She also doesn't know which license to choose, although she is pretty sure that there are no copyright issues, since she took the picture herself.
She sees a message on her talk page inviting her to this new thing called "The Teahouse", which is supposed to be a space set up especially for new users like her. She clicks on the "Visit the Teahouse" button embedded in the message and is taken to a new page that says "Teahouse" at the top. She sees an encouraging welcome message that invites her to ask any questions she has about Wikipedia on the discussion board below. She's never seen this discussion board anywhere else on Wikipedia, but it looks sort of like other comment boards she has used in other places online, such as on her friend's Wordpress blog and on an online news site she reads regularly.
She looks at the thread index at the top and sees that each of the discussion threads looks like it was started by someone who was asking a question. A lot of the questions are technical questions about how to do certain kinds of things on Wikipedia, so she's pretty sure this is the right place to ask her question about adding images. As she scrolls through the existing threads, she also sees that all of the questions have been responded to by someone, and that the responses happen pretty quickly: within about 24 hours, sometimes less.
She clicks the button that says "Start a new discussion" and fills out the subject line with "How do you upload images and add them to articles?" She then fills in the body of the comment form with information about what she wants to do, and what she is having trouble with so far. Then she clicks "Save Page" below her comment, and sees that her question is now listed first in the thread index at the top of the discussion board, along with the current date and time and the current number of replies (which is "0", but hopefully won't be for long). She resolves to check back tomorrow to see if anyone has answered her question. Hopefully so!
Use case 1.2: adding sources
User Acadian1710 was reading about the history of Nova Scotia, and noticed that the article did not contain any information about some recent archeological dig that had unearthed a new Viking village near his hometown. He has only made small edits so far, but he thinks he knows how to edit well enough now to make a more substantial contribution, and is excited to finally find an opportunity where he can add something new. So he adds some information about these archeological findings to the "Early history" section, and then goes on to read something else.
When he signed back in the next day, however, Acadian notices that a "citation needed" tag had been added to the paragraph he had written the day before, and an editor had posted to his talk page and asked him to provide a source. While on his talk page (which he has never visited before), he also notices that he got a message a few days ago inviting him to something called "wp:Teahouse".
He goes back to the Nova Scotia page and clicks the "edit" button for the "Early History" section, but he's confused because none of the other sources provided in that section seem to appear. After trying to figure it out on his own for a while, he gets frustrated and decides to check out this "Teahouse" place. Maybe someone there will have an answer to his question. So he goes back to his talk page and clicks the link provided in the invitation.
When he gets to the Teahouse, he sees a discussion board where people are asking technical questions. That looks promising, but he's curious about what else is here, and he also likes to figure things out himself if he can. He clicks on the "Resources" tab and sees a list of help and tutorial resources. He also sees, in the sidebar, a list of the resources that have been rated "Most Helpful" by other people. One of those resources, "Wikipedia:Tutorial", has been rated as helpful by 45 people. Acadian doesn't know who those people are, but a tutorial seems like a good place to start. He clicks on the "Tutorial" link in the sidebar, and is taken to another page, with a series of tabs across the top that have titles like "Editing", "Formatting", and "Citing Sources". Just what he was looking for! He clicks on the "Citing Sources" tab and starts reading.
Use case 1.3: creating a sandbox
no scenario description, yet
Scenario #2 - Negotiating People, Process or Policy
Use case 2.1: establishing notability
KalBin, a new Wikipedia editor from Lagos, has started a new article on a famous Nigerian televangelist who has received a great deal of news coverage for his political activism in Nigeria, in other African countries, and beyond. However, KalBin has just received a message on his user talk page saying that this person is not notable enough to warrant an encyclopedia entry on the English language Wikipedia. KalBin disagrees, but is unsure how to best argue his case. He hears about the Teahouse from an automatic response he receives after setting his status to confused on the Feedback Dashboard, and decides to give it a try.
When KalBin gets to the Teahouse, he sees a comment board on the first page, which looks similar to other comment boards he's seen elsewhere on the internet (but much different from the talk page discussion boards he has encountered here on Wikipedia, which he is still a little uncomfortable with). The comment board displays a lot of recent questions by people who look to him like they might be other new users. These questions seem to be getting prompt responses, so he feels comfortable adding his own to this list. He starts a new thread and describes his situation.
The next day, he sees an email in his mail box that says that someone has commented on the thread he created. He goes back and sees that a Wikipedian has welcomed him to the Teahouse, and has recommended he look for third-party sources on the televangelist in English to establish notability. The Wikipedian also recommends that he check out WikiProject Africa, links to their page, and mentions a specific editor who is a member of that WikiProject who is also Nigerian and who might be able to give him feedback or even help him to build the article.
Use case 2.2: contesting speedy deletion
SubSubPop, a new editor of Wikipedia, is excited to be creating her first article: it's on a locally famous San Francisco graffiti artist who she admires, who recently died. The artist has been written up in some blogs on street art and underground public art/culture 'zines she reads regularly, but has only received stray attention in the broader community outside a few mentions in the local alternative weekly in the weeks after his death. A few days after she creates the stub of her article, she logs back in to keep working on it, only to find that it has been marked for Speedy Deletion. The template warns her that her article will be deleted very soon: possibly in the next 24 hours. She has never seen this template before, but she gets the gist of what it means, if not why her article qualifies for this negative distinction.
She's confused, embarrassed to be singled out like this, and a little angry, but most of all, she is concerned that she is about to lose all of her work. She clicks the "Hold On" button on the template, and tries to make sense of the process for contesting this deletion. But it all seems so anonymous and impersonal: for example, the editor who put the template on the article page seems to do almost nothing but go around and mark things for speedy deletion. How is she supposed to convince that editor to let her keep working on her article? How does she even know that they will read her message before they delete the article?
She remembers the Teahouse welcome message that was posted on her user talk page a few days ago, and decides that she might as well give it a try--maybe there will be actual people there who are willing to help her out, or at least explain what's going on and suggest options to her. She gets to the Teahouse, and sees a threaded discussion forum with lots of recent messages on it. Possibly she could ask a question there (it looks like lots of people are, and that they get answers quickly), but she's pretty nervous at this point that her article is going to be deleted any minute now, so she wants help as quickly as possible. So she goes to the chat room page, where she sees links to a couple of chat rooms that are currently "staffed" with people called "Hosts", who seem to be kind of like mentors or facilitators.
She clicks on the link to one of these rooms and it opens up in a new tab and logs her in. She sees several names in the sidebar, including the name of the Host who was listed on the chat room page as holding "Office Hours" in this room right now; these must be all the people logged in. She's unsure whether she's supposed to introduce herself, or what, when the host welcomes her, and several of the other participants do to. After some brief introductions, the host asks her whether she came by because she had a question. Relieved, she explains her predicament. The host, who identifies herself as StacyQ, tells her a little bit about Wikipedia's notability guidelines, and what "Speedy Deletion" means. StacyQ also promises to post a message for the editor who placed the speedy deletion message on the article, asking them to extend the deadline for a week or so while she and SubSubPop assess and improve the article. SubSubPop also listens to some similar stories from the two other new users in the room, who have also had negative experiences with having their content deleted. It's nice to know that she's not the only one, and that she might have a chance to get some actual help now.
With this in mind, she goes searching for some more sources on the graffiti artist in question, to help establish the artists life and death as notable enough to be shared with the world.
Use case 2.3: getting draft article feedback
no full scenario description, yet
Scenario #3 - Finding Collaborators and Ways to Contribute
Use case 3.1: finding an interesting wikiproject
MorrisseyGal has been editing Wikipedia off and on for about a month now, but is starting to lose steam. Overall, her few interactions with the community have been positive, but it is getting harder and harder to think of interesting things to edit. Her interests are pretty eclectic: paleobotany, informal logic, and New Wave music are among them. There seem to be a lot of articles that could be written or improved in these categories, but it's hard to find out what is already there, since some of the most interesting content on these subjects tends to be pretty obscure. It would also be nice to meet some editors who shared at least some of these interests, or who might suggest new things for her to edit. She has read about WikiProjects in the Signpost WikiProject report, and subsequently went hunting for ones that seemed interesting, but when she got to their pages a lot of them had been inactive since 2008 or 2009! And there seem to be literally thousands of these projects; she doesn't feel like checking through them all individually.
She remembers reading in that same issue of the Signpost about a place for new editors to meet each other and ask questions, called "Tea.." something. She finds the article again, clicks the link, and is taken to the Teahouse project space. She sees a set of pages that seem to be geared towards getting questions answered, finding help resources, and group chat. These aren't what she needs right now, but she notes them for later. Then she sees a page called "Join a Project", which sounds more promising, so she clicks on it. She sees a noticeboard that seems to contain recent bulletins from active WikiProjects which are looking for new members. She also sees messages from individual editors who want to find partners to collaborate with. This looks like the place!
She sees that WikiProject Popular Culture is currently advertising for new members, and that their collaboration of the month is an article about pop music. She clicks through to their page and checks out the kinds of things people are saying on the talk page. Looks like it is pretty active. She sees that there are currently several articles on 1980s bands that have been flagged as high importance, so she thinks she might be at home here. She adds her name to the member list and makes a few edits to the article about a semi-famous British band whose first LP she owns and loves.
She also returns to the Teahouse to "Join a Project" page and posts a message asking if there are any other new editors who are interested in editing articles on paleobotany and informal logic with her. Who knows? She might meet some kindred spirits.
Use case 3.2: figuring out where contributions are needed
MaiMerkel is a new editor who created an account today, after making a few edits as an unregistered user over the last month. At a presentation by a Wikipedia Campus Ambassador who came to his school last week, he learned that Wikipedia isn't just edited by random people, but that there are actually a lot of people (called "Wikipedians") who make thousands of edits to Wikipedia, and who work together to not just create new articles but to improve existing ones.
MaiMerkel thinks that improving existing articles sounds like more fun, and less intimidating, than creating whole new ones. However, when he goes to the Main Page of Wikipedia and starts clicking on the article links he finds there, most of the articles seem pretty complete to him. Where can he find out about articles that need improvement? While he is checking out the contribution history of the article on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Californication (the campus ambassador showed his class how to read these contribution histories) he clicks on the name of a Wikipedian who has edited the article a lot. He is taken to that Wikipedians user page. Which has a userbox on the side which says "This user is a Host at wp:Teahouse". Curious, he clicks on the link in this userbox and is taken to the Teahouse.
MaiMerkel sees a welcome message on the front page of the Teahouse which explains that the Teahouse is a place for new users like him, and below that he sees a comment board where people who appear to be other new users are asking questions and responding to each other's questions (at least, they have the same kind of questions that he does, so he assumes they are other new users). Since it seems easy to ask a questions and to get a quick response (or possibly several!), he decides to ask: "I'm really excited about editing, but I don't really know where my way around yet. How can I find articles that need improvement? Are there things I can do to help out right away, even though I don't really know much about adding sources or writing encyclopedia articles yet?"
When Mai checks back to the Teahouse the next day, there are five responses to his questions! First, a Host responds and welcomes him, suggesting that he might want to check out the Copyeditor's guild, which has lots of instructions and also has an active mentorship program. Several other new users also respond to his thread, and talk about tasks they have been performing recently. Mai thinks that copyediting sounds like a great way to start out, and he feels confident that he can do this kind of work. He heads off to the Copyeditors Guild page to check it out and maybe sign up to be mentored.
Use case 3.3: meeting other Wikipedians
no full scenario description, yet
Scenario #4 - Online Follow-up for Off-Wiki Outreach
Use case 4.1: on-wiki follow up for off-wiki editing event
A new editor learned that only 13 percent of the people editing Wikipedia articles are women when she attended a Girl Geek meetup in Manchester. As a graduate student of biochemistry, she feels she has knowledge to contribute to the encyclopedia and would like to do so, but she has never felt confident enough to click the edit button alone. At the meetup, she created an account and a volunteer at the event talked her through the process of making her first edit, adding information and references to the biography of a notable female chemist. At the end of the event, the experienced Wikipedian encouraged her to continue editing, and gave her the link to the Teahouse for on-wiki support. The next time she edits she wants to create an article about another notable female in her field, which will be another first for her so she doesn't want to do anything wrong. Having support as she's creating and submitting the article feels like a nice option. When she comes home from the event, she visits the Teahouse, finds a thread marked "Welcome - Introductions," where she can introduce herself and meet other new editors in her cohort. As she's creating the article, she goes back to the Teahouse forum several times to ask questions of her peers. The encouragement and advice she receives from the hosts and new editors in the Teahouse make her feel she's on the right track, and her article is successfully created. The next week, she gets an email notifying her of a new message on her talk page. It is one of her peers from the Teahouse, asking her for advice on one of their articles. She comes back to Wikipedia to respond to the message, and while she's there makes a few more edits...
Use case 4.2: on-wiki support for student assignments
An undergraduate is part of a classroom participating in the Global Education program. His Campus Ambassador and Online Ambassadors have taught him a lot about editing Wikipedia, but he still has a lot to learn about the community and best practices for editing. The week that his class project is due, he needs to finish editing his article and he has a lot of questions, but he doesn't want to bother the Ambassadors assigned to his class every time he is confused at 3 a.m. Then, he gets an email from his Online Ambassador inviting him to a place called the Teahouse and telling him about a Q&A session being hosted tomorrow in one of the Teahouse's chat rooms. The student arrives at the Teahouse before the session to look around, browses the forum and finds a couple of answers to his questions that other editors have already asked. In the chat session, he's able to quickly get the rest of what he needs to complete his assignment. Another editor in the session points him to new comments on the talk page of his article that he hadn't noticed before, expressing some concern with one of his recent edits, and prompts him to join the discussion to explain why he thinks the edit is valid and ask for input on future edits he plans to make to this article.
Use case 4.3: on-wiki support for a GLAM staff member
An intern just wrapped up her summer serving as a "Wikipedian-in-Residence" at a history archives. Throughout the summer, she taught staff members the ways of Wikipedia: policies and procedures related to conflict of interest, notability, and related themes. The staff archivists are enthusiastic about finding new ways to share their neutrally written finding aids about notable historical subjects with a broader audience, and the intern helps them find ways to incorporate Wikipedia editing into their workflows.
On her last day, the intern emails the staff a farewell letter, and encourages them to "keep up the good Wiki-work." In her email, she includes a link to the Teahouse, encouraging staff to visit it in case they need assistance or support. A few weeks after the intern leaves, an archivist, who has worked at the history archives for over 20 years, runs into some trouble on Wikipedia. A Wikipedian is accusing her contributions as being "conflict of interest" and "self-promoting," though she has the best intentions. The Wikipedian keeps reverting her edits, and threatens to block her account. The archivist is worried, and desires to follow the rules of Wikipedia, but feels overwhelmed by the policies documentation and finds little help on her talk page.
The archivist heads off to email the intern, but discovers the link in the "goodbye email" and follows it to the Teahouse. She's excited because the Teahouse doesn't look like the typical Wikipedia page, making it less intimidating - she's older and not that tech savvy, so it's a refreshing change from the usual Wikipedia mark-up. The archivist finds a thread that was started called "Conflict of Interest, huh?" and it turns out it was started by a librarian in the same region as her. The archivist introduces herself on the introduction thread, and then posts her experience on the conflict of interest thread, noticing it's similar to the librarians experience. The hosts, and fellow newbies, assist in explaining the process, how to avoid conflict of interest, and how she can still share the vast knowledge that her collection has to share without making her contributions appear self-serving. While still a little worried, she continues to revisit the Teahouse, touching base and requesting peer review on her article contributions. The archivist has also learned about opportunities to use projects like Wikisource to have users transcribe documents, and Commons, where she can upload public domain images. Without the Teahouse, she might have had her contributions all deleted and her account blocked, and she might have never heard of the other projects.