Research talk:Teahouse

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Areas for investigation[edit]

Just ideas and thoughts we have and are tossing around. Feel free to share your thoughts!

  • What tools and support do hosts need and how would we think to scale/self-sustain to get more hosts involved later? (i.e. how does this replicate over time and sustain itself?)
  • Is there an opportunity to pilot this project concurrently in another language Wikipedia? (i.e. Portuguese or Arabic)
  • Is there an opportunity to incorporate "concept guides" into this project or the Teahouse atmosphere as seen in the Help Page Reform research?
  • What technical resources are needed to incorporate a threaded discussion board LiquidThreads and on-wiki chat system into the space?

SarahStierch 23:16, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

As someone who finds LiquidThreads counterintuitive and a complete pain to use I would be cautious about inflicting it on anyone. Especially Newbies who are in the process of learning the wiki. There is also the issue that you start off with a divided community, some talking in one place some in another. If you must offer people a familiar safe place to chat my suggestion would be to have a Facebook group. A large proportion of your likely prospects will be familiar with Facebook, unlike Wiki markup or worse Liquid threads, Facebook is user friendly. On the downside it isn't open source and it doesn't allow anonymous or pseudonymous accounts, but I bet we have loads of potential editors there. WereSpielChequers 00:37, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
This is an experiment, so we will probably be experimenting with liquid threads (which the we actually like). But, as I said, this is an experiment and it's up to the end user (newbies), not us! We won't be taking this project to Facebook, as there is actually a social media communication team for Wikipedia and our intention is to keep this on Wikipedia in order to retain newbies on Wikipedia. We might work with our social media team to select newbies to test in the Teahouse that have came from Facebook outreach, perhaps, but we Teahouse won't be using Facebook as a direct outreach tool or tool for providing feedback, workshops, a social structure or assistance; we also doubt our trained group of hosts wouldn't want to also! I do really appreciate your feedback. SarahStierch 13:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Liquid Threads is also vetted by the community for use on Wikipedia, so for the sake of our timeline, that's a benefit. In the future (near or far) there is opportunity to perhaps develop something different with tech, however, we'll have to wait for it to be "approved" for use. (I'm not as versed on the details of that like Jonathan though :) ) SarahStierch 14:03, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
WSC, thanks again for your feedback. As Sarah mentioned, the reason we're proposing LiquidThreads for threaded communication (as opposed to some other extension or external software plugin) is indeed because it has already passed WMF code review, and has been successfully implemented on various projects. It also provides some useful functionality, like the ability to easily filter and sort threads by most recent activity , and to easily resolve/archive threads. Both of these features are handy for a Question-and-Answer board use case because they a) allow us to easily direct new users to the most recently active threads, and b) allows us to remove resolved questions or stale threads individually, preventing visual clutter on the page and avoid overwhelming new users with a page full of 1000 threads. I also happen to like LiquidThreads :) ...but that's a less salient consideration than the practical ones that are really driving our process right now. Jtmorgan 01:15, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Any use of LiquidThreads in its current form is likely to meet with strong resistance from the English Wikipedia community. Certain other Wikipedias, however, have attained consensus for using LQT, but were prohibited from using it by the developers. You might want to take this into account when deciding which Wikipedias to introduce this concept to first. --Yair rand 06:07, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I believe our main page has been updated to state that we won't be using LiquidThreads at this time (and it has nothing to do with resistance - and remember, we are doing this with the goal of experimenting with retaining NEW users - and heck, they might like LT! (I've been editing since 2004, and I love LT!). But, that could change or be experimented with in the future. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! SarahStierch 15:03, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
A quick note on LiquidThreads: the latest design documents for LQT 3.0 look promising . In regards to an on-wiki chat system, I don't think it's likely that WMF will approve of installing extensions such as WebChat, but that shouldn't be a problem. The teahouse project can create simple "chat with hosts" buttons that link to IRC directly, with the necessary fields prefilled; see this for example. I think creating public training material for hosts and about pages on Wikipedia on this program will likely raise awareness of the project and provide potential hosts with the information they need to become good hosts. In addition to that, any guides/training material released for hosts could be utilized by other members of the Wikipedia community to help in creating a more friendly atmosphere. Netalarmtalk 17:05, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Not using LT will provide consistency in general discussion participation on the English Wikipedia. -- Trevj (talk) 09:47, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
LiquidThreads isn't an option for the pilot, but who knows? It's possible that LQ 3.0 will be an option in the future. We are also currently trying to work out a good way to incorporate live group chat into the teahouse. IRC is not an ideal solution, but we may try to make it work for now. We would like to partner with other initiatives (like this one) in future, to work out a better chat solution. But for now, we're going pretty lo-tech. Jtmorgan 18:58, 3 February 2012 (UTC)


I would like to suggest that the proponents of this scheme read the history of en:WP:Esperanza and try to make sure that this project doesn't fall into the same traps. WereSpielChequers 00:37, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Esperanza didn't serve tea :) Kaldari 02:25, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
In seriousness though, I believe all the people involved in this are aware of the history of Esperanza and are trying to learn from it and create something more sustainable and useful. Definitely good to bring it up for discussion though. Kaldari 02:27, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the reassurance. My wiki career is entirely post Esperanza and I'd thought from the named participants that the same applied here. Providing the same mistakes are not repeated I think that this scheme has wings, though I'd suggest trying to matchup newbies with existing projects would also be helpful. WereSpielChequers 08:11, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, we're well aware of the issues with Esperanza and also talked about it at our brainstorming sessions at WMF with long-time Wikipedian staff and volunteers. Also, this isn't a traditional project as seen in Wikipedia. The project will be housed as "Wikipedia:Teahouse" and will not be a place where we'll be developing articles based around themes. (Though we'll probably have a bulletin board to promote projects and programs from projects.) SarahStierch 13:55, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking to avoid the Esperanza mistakes by encouraging the newbies you work with here to also get involved in projects that match their interests. In other words to have this as a group that gently introduces newbies to the existing community rather than becoming a clique within Wikipedia. WereSpielChequers 14:48, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Absolutely! SarahStierch 15:49, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, a really good point, WSC. And that's exactly what we intend to do. The Teahouse is intended to be a jumping-off point for new users, not a separate sub-community per se. In the mockups we're currently... um, mocking... a substantial emphasis will be placed on connecting new users with existing projects and initiatives, to encourage them to go forth and edit. One of the things we want to emphasize is moving users through the Teahouse. Having it be a place where they can hang out, meet some people, learn some things, and where they can be exposed to all the other cool stuff that's going on in a way that gets them excited about taking part in Wikipedia. And again, we are trying to be very conscious about not repeating Esperanza's mistakes :) Jtmorgan 21:39, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Some thoughts[edit]


I've been active on the dutch wiki trying to get new users to stay, instead of writing there article and get scared away. I like the idea here (and would like to be informed, because probably I can't help that much on en-wiki). After reading the page there were 2 things I'd like to point out, it might be that I just missed them because my English isn't that good, but as the project is about asking help when you're a problem I think it's good when I just state them here.

  • I believe that a big issue with new users not retending is that they simply forget, they write something on Wikipedia log out (or are an IP-address). They do remember that they've written an article, and might google it later on, but I think a big part doesn't see the reactions on their talk page. In the past I've actively emailed some users with the email this user function who got their article (with potention) nominated for deletion. This proved to be very succesful. One of the users currently 1 or 2 years later still comes back every now and then to improve his (good article like) article. So I think considering a way to make people remember that they are in your project is an important thing, they might forget to read the noticeboard you want them to read.
  • Seeing from the point above I believe on purpose this plan doesn't involve topic related help. But I think gathering several new users (you could find them throught their involvement in the topic in their profession) working together on a project with a specific scope is the way to get them actively involved. The feeling that you're working together on an article is much more encouring then working on it alone (or maybe thats just for some), and if the new users end up working together on articles that would be wonderful.

I think I could talk on for hours, but that doesn't seem like a good idea. I'd like to stay informed of the project and see how it works out (would also like to help if needed/if I can, but I'm afraid I can't help out on the pilot project, simply because my knowledge of how the en-wiki works is not there.) Mvg, Basvb 17:22, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

thanks for your feedback, Basvb. You have raised some very good points. I agree that it is a challenge to make new users aware of things that are happening on Wikipedia. We are exploring different ways of notifying new users (automatically if possible) when specific kinds of changes are made to Teahouse (such as the noticeboard, or the Q & A section). We also intend to make users who visit Teahouse aware of the notification preferences, so that they can enable email notifications when changes occur.
I also agree with your second point, that it is important for new users to get involved with collaborations with other new users. We hope that by pointing new users towards Teahouse, we will provide them with more opportunities to meet and interact with other new users who might be interested in collaborating, and also with more experienced Wikipedians who can point them towards existing projects. I can imagine, for instance, a new user posting a message on the Teahouse noticeboard asking others if they want to get together and edit the same articles.
I'm so glad to hear that you're interested in staying up to date on this project! Keep checking back on this page, and feel free to contact me or SarahStierch for updates. Jtmorgan 22:34, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Maybe the project based working is more needed in smaller wiki's like nl-wiki. en-wiki is 30 times? bigger in number of users, so there is a much bigger chance that there is allready a project on the interest of the new user. On a smaller wiki, like the dutch one the chance is so much more smaller to find this, that active recruiting in some scopes of interests seems like a good idea to me, to improve the chances of people working together, but I guess that's not very relevant here on this moment. Mvg, Basvb 23:16, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
If we can demonstrate that the Teahouse is useful in our pilot study, I hope that we can approach other wikis about adopting the Teahouse model. And editors like you will be valuable additions to that project! Jtmorgan 22:21, 14 December 2011 (UTC)


I really like the Teahouse idea and I like the name too but I changed the projected date from Spring 2012 to second quarter 2012 assuming this is what you meant. At first sight I thought it referred to September/October since that is when spring arrives where I live. I might have missed it the launch! 06:53, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Yah! Glad you took a look at the project and like the idea, and thanks for the projected date update! :) SarahStierch 17:31, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
hehe. Good catch. We definitely hope to launch the project before Spring hits the southern hemisphere! Jtmorgan 22:35, 12 December 2011 (UTC)


Hi, this research page is in the wrong space, it belongs under a "Research:" sub-heading. This does not belong in mainspace, someone should move it or provide a reasoning for it to be here. If there are no objections, I will move it in 24 hours. Regards. Theo10011 23:12, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi Theo! I'm not sure that this page belongs in the "research" space, but now that you mention it, I also don't think the "research" template being used here makes the most sense for this project either. This is planned as a pilot project to be led by to fellows, and I don't see it as pure research in the typical sense (this project is more action/experiment than research). So, I'm wondering if it actually makes more sense to not move it out of the main namespace, but instead to remove the "research" template and come up with a better way to mark this page as relating to a pilot project or fellowship project, or something like that. Thoughts? Suggestions? Advice? I'm not sure if the template I'm imagining exists yet :-) Siko 00:37, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Siko. I suppose I can create a fellowship template, or something of the like. It can be customized later on, as the need arises. I am still wondering if the page would be a good fit in main namespace or under a fellowship project/xyz or similar sub-page system. I'm only thinking in terms of recentism, this topic might not be relevant in the long term and it might be better to have a categorization tree and a classification system for any future fellowship projects so they are all located under one heading. Pages like these tend to get mislabeled, moved or lost after the project is over. I can help out with most of those things I suppose, what do you think? Theo10011 00:48, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I see Dario did it already. [1] Thanks. Theo10011 22:06, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, we are still pondering a project template (if you have time to create one, please do! otherwise, its on the to-do list for this project and beyond), and thinking about where it might make more sense other than mainspace. I think your point about locating fellowship projects together makes great sense,and not abandoning things haphazardly in the mainspace is also a good point! For now, we will leave this in research, but when it comes time to make another move to something more permanent I will check in with you again, Theo. I appreciate the input :-) Siko 22:24, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd be inclined to treat this as Outreach rather than Research. It is a new initiative and may be going through a research phase, but it really belongs in Outreach - which currently is an extra wiki but IMHO should be merged back into Meta as an Outreach space. WereSpielChequers 23:37, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
It does seem to be a new sort of thing, doesn't it? I'm going to create a new template next week, and ditch the "research" template currently in place. The new template would be titled "New Editor Engagement Project", which would hopefully reflect the purpose and process of Teahouse better--and could also be re-used for future projects along the same lines. I'm certainly not opposed to moving the project page to another namespace (although hopefully not another wiki), but I would prefer if we could keep it in the same place for now, pending a little more discussion among the project team. Thoughts? Jtmorgan 23:16, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Where is it? How do I try it?[edit]

Hi, noble effort, esp. as Web becomes more interactive and social. This project will eventually bear fruit and lead the way. But:
How did you expect me to find the Teahouse? The link should be in the banner of this page.
Active scrutiny to find the link when there is no certainty it occurs here at all is asking a visitor to make an investment that could be larger than the probability of payoff.

It may seem inappropriate, but, seeing no obvious link here, I went off looking:

  • Teahouse or Teahouse Project produces no hits in the Wikipedia (where I write and need help)
  • Teahouse or Teahouse Project produces no hits in

When/if you move, keep a little list of your "feed-in cross-references/links" that feed traffic into you, both this project page and the product it is creating, and then update them.

I note that your URL is in "meta". But you give your own link as, something Wikipedians speak of as "namespace". As a technologist, I sortof understand this, but as an Editor, it is a barrier to constructing my little internal model of the Wikipedian world and where to find what.

The irony--for all of us, I think--is that I discovered you because I just finished the annual Wikimania meeting, and I am exploring the dozen-plus different top-level URLs and their home pages to try to figure out where all the different kinds of information and deliberations and people are. A striking observation is that many home pages of different products and organizational areas (Foundation, meta, the Commons resource, the many Wikis, books, dictionary, quotes) lack a good overview of themselves, and all lack an overview of the Wikipedian Universe (including their place in it).

The conclusion is that the Wikipedian universe is young, vital, growing, has a flat organization that encourages do-it-yourself-if-you-want-it volunteerism and discourages political animals and authoritarians, and is hard to see as a whole first. In my own life as an Editor, I would have wanted the top-level view first, would have wanted to fill in the details as I needed them. It was impossible, so I just started editing. The two articles I originated are pretty trivial, a lot of my edits are grumblings on the Talk pages (like this!! -- but sometimes the community rallied and hard work was done). After 6 years, I still have no overview and can't find my way around, so I did a Wikimania mtg -- now I understand and admire the culture even more, but I still can't navigate around anything "behind" the articles except TALK pages. Enough. This is a confirmation of what you are doing, and it suggests that, in publicizing yourselves, you might try to make structural changes that help all the vital but "hidden" efforts of the community to be more searchable.
Jerry-va (talk) 15:26, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback, Jerry. We do want to make Teahouse more visible. However, we have to get buy-in from interested editors AND from WMF Engineers to make these kinds of changes. For example, see several of the discussions here on the challenges of making the Teahouse more visible through common channels like existing Welcome templates. Adding Teahouse links to the MediaWiki navigation bar (as the Help Desk is) will be even more difficult, because it requires even broader consensus to make global changes to the look and feel of Wikipedia. Caveats aside, we're all about doing this, and we (and other editors) have been adding Teahouse links in a variety of different locations, trying to make it more visible to all editors. If you have more suggestions, or more questions, please do post them here or on the Teahouse talk page on enwiki. Cheers, Jtmorgan (talk) 20:07, 17 July 2012 (UTC)


Also, why is Sarah and Jonathan listed as "wikimedia foundation"? Are they employees or staff? It would be helpful if the research-project template linked to their respective user accounts. Theo10011 23:15, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Theo, good catch. I've added links to Sarah's and my user pages to the template. Re: our status, I am a current research fellow with WMF, and Sarah's fellowship is about to begin. So we're both contractors. Sarah's also a Wikipedian (on EnWiki). And I'm a wiki researcher with gnomish tendencies. Jtmorgan 00:29, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Jtmorgan, Nice to make your acquaintance, do let me know, If I can help out in anyway. I am however, well aware of Sarah, I did not know that she will be starting a fellowship soon. My best wishes. Theo10011 00:51, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

some questions[edit]

Certainly it's a very good idea to have alternate routes for helping people get started. Personally, I think it is more effective to work one-on-one, but there will certainly be those who would prefer to work in a group. But I have some doubt about the initial scale: I think the current proposal is too large, and much too complicated, with too many channels of communication--and too large a group.

I suggest that the function could be best served by a much less formal arrangement, working with whoever may be interested at the time, which is not likely to be more than a few people--if a program like this manages to get one or two groups of 4 or 5 new users at a time, I thin it will be straightforward and effective. Otherwise, it's just more possible complications. Wikipedia projects tend to start out way overcomplicated, and once they do, it hard to simplify them--better to simplify at first, and add as needed. My prize example for this is the full page of instructions at ANB and copied elsewhere about which of the two dozen possible administrative boards to use for something--most of them with complicated and multi-step instructions. In practice, if something's a problem and posted at ANI or anywhere else where people pay attention, it will be dealt with.

Hi DGG! I'm Jonathan--one of the Fellows working on Teahouse. I think you're right that ad hoc arrangements can be effective at bringing in newbies. It's an open question whether our peer support approach will work as well, will work for as many new editors, or will provide the same kind of help as one-on-one or small group approaches. In fact, we hope to see Teahouse users creating their own small groups, once they come to the page and see that there are other people like them. Our goal is to move users through Teahouse, not to keep them there forever. We want Teahouse to be a safe place where they can ask questions, get answers, meet people like them and people who are more knowledgable, and to expose them to all the cool stuff they could do on wiki, whether on their own, with a peer group, or with an established project. More feedback inline below. Jtmorgan 01:05, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

The outreach part of this is I think the most valuable. But we should remember about the limited nature of success of the Academic Ambassadors, where we tried to set up programs to produce multiple high quality articles, whereas in the end most programs were lucky if they produced a few improvement--and almost none of the people in any of the programs have continued with Wikipedia--even those few graduate school level programs that did produce excellent articles. It's like the yield for our local open meetups--if we can get one new active participant a meeting, it counts as a success.

agreed! Jtmorgan 01:05, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

NOT BURO is almost as much ignored around here than NPA. Wikipedia is an inherently free-form environment, and to me that's a large part of the attraction: you can come, take hold of any part of it, and do something. However, my examples make it clear that others feel differently than I, and-- I guess if people want to set up rule based sub environments, the overall structure is free-form enough to accommodate them.

The most BURO part of the proposal is the application process. Some projects at Wikipedia need screening: the clearest example is OTRS, where it deals with non public information. The Academic Ambassador and the GLAM programs needed some minimal structure, because we do need a single point of contact with a teacher or an outside organization, because the classes and the partner institutions are structured. But we do not need it here. The interested people will participate. Those who are unsuited to do so will probably stay away, but at worst, they will be discouraged by the group culture--just as everywhere else here. Those who want to bite newbies will bite hem elsewhere, just as they do now, and nothing the project can do will stop them. (The question of whether some qualifications ought to be required for NPP is a difficult one, both because of the desire to involve more people in it, the generally open environment, and the difficulty of distinguishing it from ordinary editing.)

I think you make a fair point about bureaucracy here. We Teahausers don't want to add additional levels of bureaucracy to Wikipedia, and we don't intend to set up some sort of permanent, exclusive hosts' club with special procedures and privileges. The proposal we've set out is for the pilot of Teahouse, and the recruiting procedures we've set up (for both hosts and guests) are meant to provide us with the stability necessary to get the project off the ground, given limited resources. The application process is not meant to exclude, but to attract people who are truly interested in devoting a significant amount of time between now and May to helping newbies on a daily basis. Since the Teahouse itself has a particular structure and purpose (which is meant to set it apart from, and provide different value than, other mentoring programs and Q&A spaces), we decided it would be best to bring our first hosts on in a single cohort, so that they could talk, plan, train as a group.
We do hope that once Teahouse is launched, other interested Wikipedians find out and participate. That's kind of the whole idea, actually :) Jtmorgan 01:05, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

I also think there might be too much of a focus on a single step. There are many steps where people drop out, and most of them are at earlier stages than writing articles. The academic program has shown the importance of people starting out small, by making additions and corrections, and it's probably the best way to go for new editors. (not that they should be forced to--I am very glad the WMF refused our proposal to require multipole edits before someone could start an article, which was in my view a violation of the basic rule that anyone can edit.) If we can increase the rate at which readers make corrections from 0.01% to 0.02%, and the the rate at which people after making one edit ever make another from 1% to 2%, these small numerical changes will quadruple our editorship. We still need a way to encourage people to make more than one article, but I think that for many people, this will remain an unrealistic goal: they are be precisely because they want to make one specific article.

It sounds like your understanding is that the 'single step' we're looking at is when a newbie writes their first article, though. Is that your understanding? If so, know that that is not what we intend to do. We intend to invite editors who make 10+ edits during their first day, and who aren't obvious trolls or vandals. That's our starting point, anyway: we may change it if the newbies aren't showing up, and we really hope that as the pilot proceeds that we'll be getting referrals from other sources--such as individual community members--as well.
the focus on a single step is ultimately a pragmatic one, like the decision to recruit the first group of hosts beforehand. Our goal for the pilot is to show that even small interventions early on can increase the number of new users who stick around. We looked at a couple of different ways to select new users to recruit: running db queries and viewing contrib histories of, say, auto confirmed users or Feedback Dashboard users, and decided that new users who made 10+ edits in their first day was the group with the highest number of users who might really benefit from the Teahouse: newbies who are GF and excited about editing, but who really don't know the ropes yet and can be easily stymied by markup or policy, or who want to contribute more but don't know what, how or where. Other considerations: we didn't want to overwhelm our hosts with the task of personally inviting hundreds, thousands of people every day, or to accidentally invite trolls and vandals to Teahouse (although these will always come, and we can deal with them in ones and twos). Jtmorgan 01:05, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

I'll be glad to help out by encouragement and advice to anyone in or out of the program who might ask me. I'd rather help people than talk about how to help people. I find my talk p. does nicely as far as the necessary structure, supplemented by email. I'm not going to fill out formal applications for committees. I came to Wikipedia to avoid that way of working--my RW careers had more than enough of structure for the rest of my life. And I think the comments about about Esperanza are very much to the point. A few years ago the arb com asked for volunteers for a committee of subject consultants, and I was fool enough to join. The outrage from the community soon stopped it: the principle remains right, that all editors are equal and closed groups are against the spirit of the project. Even excellent groups, started, like this one, by excellent people. What saves it, is that it won't really be very restrictive or effectually closed, but it's still not a good idea. If that part is changed, I'll be glad to join--informally. DGG 20:18, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

we welcome your participation, formally or informally! As I say above, the choice to use an "application" model is a pragmatic one, given the nature of this project: a temporally-bounded pilot experiment set up by two WMF Community Fellows, intended to evaluate whether a welcoming peer-support environment designed especially for newbies can improve the new editor experience and lead to a greater retention of new editors. We want to hit the ground running and have an active and successful pilot so that in a few months we can show results to both the community and the foundation that present a strong argument for focusing more discussion, volunteer hours and resources on supporting new editors. I believe that a more structured recruiting process is the best way to make that timeline, and be able to say something definitive at the end about whether or not Teahouse and other new editor engagement projects like it can work. And I fervently hope that other Wikipedians hear about Teahouse along the way and decide to join up independently as hosts, and/or to direct new users they encounter in the course of their work towards Teahouse. Jtmorgan 01:05, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
I think you'll find that around here the process is more likely to discourage than encourage participation; I would even say that the people who ought to be helping newbies will be precisely the people who are at Wikipedia because they do not like structure. But I wasn't surprised to see you saying this, for it's a repeated and perhaps inevitable failing of projects engaged in by the Foundation, which is properly and inherently a structured group, with the purpose of bringing the necessary structure to the individual WPs for those parts of the work that need structure. It's why many of the actual Wikipedians want to keep the WMF at arm's length from the unstructured workings of the actual WPs. They do learn from experience, but they learn only to the extent of trying to form better but still formal structures. (My view--I know other will differ, perhaps sharply)
And though it isn't mentioned in the project outline, it seems to be the case that this project is limited or at least aimed at the English Wikipedia I'd think it would have to be--the ethos elsewhere and the working methods that newcomers need to be familiar with can be very different--not just for the other languages, but for Commons, or the other projects. So the discussion of this should now move from meta to enWP, where many more of the active enWP people will see it. That is, assuming you want to work with them, and not at cross purposes. DGG 20:00, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

Also, the concept seems culturally narrow. The only images are of Victorian ladies sipping their tea - are you seeking a subgroup that identifies with these images? How do you select new editors to send invitations to? MathewTownsend (talk) 22:33, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Mathew: there are many more tea-drinkers outside of Victorian England than there ever were within it! In fact, there are probably more tea-drinking cultures than there are Victorian ladies... these days anyway. :) I think you've find that the images on WP:Teahouse don't come off as particularly Victorian or anglo-centric. If anything, the logo is evocative of a bonsai tree, which suggests an entirely different tea-drinking culture altogether. What do you think about that imagery?
We're using a multi-pronged sampling strategy. We have a database report that indentifies new users which meet certain criteria. Our hosts also look for new users on their own, or through existing projects like OTRS and Feedback Dashboard which they may be involved with already. We're also inviting students from classes which participate in the Online Ambassadors program to visit Teahouse when they need help. Jtmorgan (talk) 00:45, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
DGG:I would enjoy discussing the general issues you present regarding the inherent tensions between externally-imposed formal structures and emergent, dynamically structured collaboration on Wikipedia and beyond; as a geeky academic, this is actually one of my primary research interests. Regarding your comments on WMF, I can't speak for how or how effectively the Foundation works (I've only a part-time contractor, and haven't been around very long), tho I think there's probably some truth in what you say about why the Foundation's strategies sometimes fall flat.
Regarding your statement about the "unstructured" nature of Wikipedia, I disagree a bit: some things about the way the Wikipedia community works are in fact highly structured. Even formally structured. Some obvious examples: policies have weight, and roles such as adminship carry real, demonstrable clout. However, this structure, and its rationale, aren't always evident to new users. At the same time, there's research that shows that different strategies are more and less effective for engaging new users, getting them to contribute more productively, and making them stick around longer. To give another obvious example: when responding to someone who is asking for help, the factual correctness of the answer is important, but the way you answer their question also makes a difference. So does the amount of follow up support you provide. One of the reasons we're trying to structure this pilot period (and I'll reiterate: this is a pilot project) the way we are is so that we can work with a set of editors who are willing to try out some of these alternate strategies with us. We've set up a process which involves identifying a set of new editors to reach out to, answering their questions, providing them with feedback in a particular way, designing a space with a particular set of affordances with their particular needs in mind, and providing follow up and peer-support opportunities to expose those new users to the Wikipedia community as a compelling place to stay and contribute.
Like in any good design project, the design of this process is iterative. But in order to evaluate whether this strategy works, we need to work with a group of people who are willing to help us try it out. That takes training, feedback, and some amount of structure. But more than anything, it takes time. There has been a slow but real decline in the number of new editors joining Wikipedia for the last four years. As far as I know, that is not a controversial issue. The Teahouse pilot is intended to provide some insight into whether or not certain, simple new user engagement strategies show any promise in halting or reversing that decline.
Regarding your point on localization: I couldn't agree more. The Teahouse is designed for enWiki users and enWiki community characteristics. It is an open question whether the strategies we've implemented here will translate to other projects. Just as it has here, it will take research and community member involvement to ascertain what the best way to engage new editors on other projects will be. However, Teahouse will hopefully provide a jumping off point for that effort. And something tells me there are plenty of folks in other projects with the expertise and the passion to help make it happen, if they see the value in it. We intend to share our experience and findings from the Teahouse pilot with the broader community at Wikimania. Perhaps that will be a good place to get the conversation started with members of other projects.
I'm responding here for convenience BTW, but you should feel free to start conversation at the Teahouse talk page, where others are already discussing the project, in general and particular.Jtmorgan (talk) 00:45, 3 March 2012 (UTC)


Hey y'all. Just a heads up that for Editor Engagement Experiments, I created Category:Editor engagement alongside Category:New Editor Engagement. Since they're basically the same thing, except one is limited to newbies, we might consider merging the two categories and removing "New" from the template. Unless you don't mind have two separate categories for these things as our list of experiments grows, etc. Regards, Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 18:29, 13 April 2012 (UTC) P.S. I'm asking here because Teahouse is basically the only other thing in the category.

No objection here, makes sense to me. Siko Bouterse (WMF) (talk) 19:12, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Okay, Yes check.svg Done Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 19:23, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Very nice! Jtmorgan (talk) 20:15, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Avoiding the Boys Club[edit]

Hi folks, I'm curious if someone might be able to direct me to previous discussions or knowledge bases regarding successful strategies for avoiding the "Boys Club" fate of Wikipedia, i.e., its dissolution into an exclusive rather than inclusive collective that grows more and more hostile to outsiders.

My apologies if this is not the proper forum for this question.

Yours sincerely, Robin Wyatt Dunn Settdigger (talk) 01:15, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Robin! There are lots of resources out there, if you're interested in digging in. See the excellent list on the Gender Gap page for some relevant academic research on the gender gap (some of these articles are locked behind paywalls, unfortunately). This series of NYT editorials from Wikipedians, journalists and researchers is excellent as well. Regarding general hostility towards outsiders & newcomers on Wikipedia, there's a whole 'nother bunch of academic research there too. :) Some interesting 'bite-sized' research chunks are available here, and in this recent blog post by EpochFail. And the discussions on the Wikiproject Editor Retention talk page might also be of interest to you. Hope that helps! Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 20:19, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Encouraging academics[edit]

Wow, great project! I will be following to build on what we know about ways of encouraging academic researchers. Open Research (talk) 13:24, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Would this work for tech contributors?[edit]

We have very similar problems reaching out to tech contributors and getting them involved in a first task at and surroundings. We also aim to increase diversity of contributors in terms of background and also types of activities, to break the stereotype of the young male open source hacker writing code. Do you think the Teahouse model could be exported there? Roughly, how complex is to setup a teahouse and how much effort it takes to maintain it?

I think this is an activity that could be ramped up by not-the-usual-suspects e.g. busy software maintainers. It could become a chance for the semi-anonymous contributors we have, not newbies but not among the 50 loud voices either, totally capable of helping newcomers doing their first steps. Then (as I guess happens in the Teahouse) some happy "graduated" contributors will start helping the absolute newbies.

... but I don't want to be overoptimistic. Here goes my full respect and recognition for the goo work done by the Teahouse pioneers!

PS: this discussion at --QuimGil (talk) 23:28, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Hi Quim! Technical implementation of the Teahouse isn't too hard, and I could help out. Maintaining it doesn't take much work either, since a lot of the critical functionality (such as inviting new users to participate, featuring and archiving content, etc) is automated. The most important 'soft' requirement is a critical mass of dedicated volunteers to staff the Q&A board, answer questions and in general be helpful & welcoming presence on wiki. Will post this to the thread on Mediawiki as well. Cheers, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 21:04, 15 April 2013 (UTC)


We are going to start a Teahouse on the Swedish Wikipedia. Is it okay if I mark this page for transalation so it is easier to localize it? --Jan Ainali (WMSE) (talk) 12:09, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Absolutely! Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 00:30, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

pdf of CSCW paper 2013 sought (Tea & Sympathy)[edit]

Do you know of any updated URL for this link? Thank you --C.Koltzenburg (talk) 07:26, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Blam!. Happy reading :) Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 16:09, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

How do I rate the English Wikipedia if I'm blocked?[edit]

Apparently I was making the English Wikipedia more neutral and then suddenly I get lots of hate messages from various editors who thought my edits were stupid and so they reverted them all because my edits were supposedly stupid. I got blocked by Floquenbeam and I want to rate Wikipedia as having excessive bias. In my opinion, Wikipedia fails to meet NPOV standards and will never meet them because editors don't like it when their own personal truths and opinions aren't expressed in Wikipedia's language. I get lots of complaints from millions of angry editors that my neutralizing has left behind typos, grammatical errors, disruption, vandalism and other madness, the hatred that I receive is so bad that it got me topic banned for being too incompetent (pardon my French) to edit those articles. I was blocked for going by NPOV and Wikipedia is a stupidbly unreliable place. I wonder where I can rate Wikipedia? I remember there used to be a thing at the bottom of the pages where articles could be rated for things such as bias, spelling, grammar and quality. --Turkeybutt JC (talk) 00:16, 7 September 2016 (UTC)