Research:The Role of Wikipedia Mentorship Programs in the Newcomer Experience

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This page documents a planned research project.
Information may be incomplete and change before the project starts.

Key Personnel[edit]

  • Gabriel Mugar
  • Chris Schilling
  • Subham Soni
  • Aaron Halfaker
  • Steven Zhang

Project Summary[edit]

The past several years has seen the development of mentorship programs designed to assist new editors on Wikipedia as well as sustained editors looking to improve their skills or address obstacles. Each mentorship program takes a unique approach towards meeting the needs of editors looking to broaden and further their ability to contribute to Wikipedia.

While research has considered the impact of particular programs in isolation, there has yet to be a comparative analysis of the impact of various mentorship programs on the newcomer experience. Such an approach would provide both researchers and practitioners the understanding of what various newcomer support strategies offer to the newcomer experience on Wikipedia, what their respective strengths and weaknesses are, and how they might complement each other. More broadly, such research will address a larger question of how Wikipedia has formalized what has until now been a highly informal socialization experience for newcomers. As such, this research proposes conducting an exploratory mixed method comparative analysis across the various programs to see how the programs factor into the newcomer experience, how they support changes in newcomer behavior, and also consider the experience of the mentors in the programs.


The following mentorship programs will be considered: Interviews as well as tracing data analysis of editor's activities (Both new editors and mentors) prior to and following their participation in the mentorship program.


  • Education Program
  • Wikipedia Adventure
  • Snuggle
  • Teahouse
  • Adopt-a-user Program
  • Articles for Creation

Data Collection

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Trace data analysis.

Among others.


Results from this study will be published on Wiki as well as academic conferences and journals.

Wikimedia Policies, Ethics, and Human Subjects Protection[edit]

This research is currently approved by the Syracuse University Human Research Institutional Review Board. IRB # 14-194

Benefits for the Wikimedia community[edit]

Mentorship programs are designed to support newcomer retention. With a variety of approaches to support the experience of newcomers, a comparative analysis will allow for researchers and practitioners to consider the respective strengths and weaknesses of the program and how they might more effectively leverage such resources towards successful newcomer retention. In particular, findings from this research will be applied towards the development of the Wikipedia Co-op, a new mentorship support system funded by an individual engagement grant.


Upon approval by RCOM, this project will begin by interviewing mentors and editors that have participated in existing programs. It will also focus on mentors and editors in the pilot of the Wikipedia Co-op, a mentorship program that is currently under development. Interviews and trace data collection will run between now and January 2015.


This research is supported by the Individual Engagement Grant Reimagining Wikipedia Mentorship from the Wikimedia Foundation


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