Research talk:Teahouse/Hosting

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Questions/feedback from Hajatvrc[edit]

I am not really sure if this is the right place to ask questions, but I'll give it a go! Feel free to move this to some other page.

  1. I am wondering how the host-recruitment process can be improved. How do we identify potential good hosts; how do we identify hosts that may check in and not participate? Is there a way to generate a rough list of "suggestions" for hosts on how to go about interacting with potential hosts? It is understood that interaction with human beings cannot be outlined in a list. But I am sure more experienced hosts have personal insights from which newer hosts, like myself, can benefit.
  2. How exactly can the host user-interface be simplified? The current scripts available, such as the one that places a talkback link within every user's signature on the Q&A, generally meet my own needs. But I am sure many hosts do not even know that scripts like this exist. There are many, many pages in the host lounge, and unless someone actively goes through every single one of them, some key information can be missed. Are there specific reasons not to include more information on a few pages rather than little bits of information on many pages? We have an "avoid linking to guests as much as possible" guideline because excessive amounts of links can be overwhelming and can cause vital information to be missed. Yet we have a host interface that does nothing to paint this picture for the hosts themselves. I myself am guilty of providing links to guests when I probably should not (though I am trying to improve this practice). I feel that if we had a host interface that emphasized this, everyone would benefit. I really want to help with this issue wherever I can, as I do have formal education in web design, but I think these improvements have to be consensus-derived by all of the people who will actually use the Host Lounge.
  3. Is there a way to implement a "host orientation" for hosts who desire it? I understand that one of the goals of the project is to decrease the difficult process that currently drives the host check-ins. But there is the issue that pages such as "Host Tips" sometimes include tips that are ambiguous or hard to implement. Don't get me wrong, I like the tips and they should stay. But I have a feeling that if such a system were in place, some new hosts would explicitly request an orientation from human beings. This would be a more extensive system than just having a talk page where hosts can ask questions if they feel they need to. It would include more experienced hosts being "assigned" to specific new hosts. The experienced hosts would not just be there for questions, but would actively monitor the new host's contributions to the project and help them improve in friendly ways. Personally, it is sometimes hard for me to predict the difficulties that the majority of new users have. I am a user who had the rollback right four days after I started actively contributing, and who did a major revamp of the article w:Absolute zero before that (and most of these changes are still in place years later). I have been self-educated in "Internet jargon" and general computer-related tasks (including web design) since the sixth grade. If I had a more experienced host looking over my shoulder, they could probably help me a lot in being more clear in my answers to guests.

I do not want to overload this page with too many questions at once, so I will stop there. Those are the three main questions I have. Hajatvrc (talk) 04:19, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Hi Hajatvrc for your thoughtful questions about our host sprint. I'm going to break down your questions to best of my ability, so please bear with the layout here:

  • How do we identify hosts that check in and don't participate? Jonathan can perhaps better elaborate on this, but, after a host checks in, Hostbot will monitor the hosts participation in the Teahouse space. If a host isn't contributing in the Teahouse space at all (Q&A, talk pages, maintenance) after two weeks they will be moved to the host breakroom until they check in again. In theory, someone could be checked in constantly - they are heavily active, or, if they know they're going to do an invite sprint, they can check in whenever they do that. It'll be a bot identifying the activities of the hosts.
  • How do we identify potential good hosts? I'm going to provide a bit of historical context to better answer your question. During the Teahouse pilot period, I spent an extended period of time learning about editors that I considered good potential hosts - editors who are friendly, have a reputation for being welcomers and helpful, etc. I invited a large group of editors to "apply" to be a host, and they devoted a large portion of their volunteer time to helping us develop the space, hone their own skills as helpful Wikipedians, and help us with the pilot. As the Teahouse became more active and popular, more editors started to answer questions - and in the spirit of Wikipedia, we didn't want to stop that. We explained to non-host editors that we did have a host program, and that if they could "follow" these guidelines (i.e. saying hello to people, good standing in the community, etc.) they could be a host. That's where the your hosts page came about. It became hard to manage, especially when so many people wanted to be hosts - even people who didn't sign up on the your host page. They found it too complex and cumbersome - and they had to wait to actually participate. Eventually, I just started to accept every single person who signed up to help (except a few specific cases - blocked users, to new (seriously, like 10 edits new), etc.) and the host team lent a hand when needed to help guide those hosts (if they weren't answering questions properly, etc.). Then we just retire people to the breakroom if they aren't active as a month. And when I say "we" - it's me!
So, IMHO - anyone can be a host as long as they are in good standing in the community and "get" what we're trying to do at the Teahouse. We also want to cut back on the management of "finding" hosts (which we don't need to do, we have more hosts than we have questions) and "hiring" hosts (approving them and bringing them on). If we can encourage more community members to join in the host team (i.e. you can invite and write scripts and still be a host) and make it easier and less like going through a gauntlet, I'd be happy. Any concrete suggestions, please share!
  • Can we create a list of ideas for current hosts to interact with new hosts? (i.e. host mentors?) This is the first time I've seen the host-mentoring-host idea raised so far. Maybe you'd like to propose this in the host lounge talk page for discussion, to see if people want to work on something like this together, if it is of interest to lots of hosts. I do get really tired of being the only one to remind new hosts to greet people before answering questions, or to not use too many links or jargon in their answers and use explanations that will be easy for new editors to understand. I would like other hosts to do this instead! Feel free to propose your ideas to other hosts and see what kinds of things volunteers might want to do to improve in this area, I'll be interested to see how it goes.
  • How can the user interface be created simpler, specifically in the host lounge? A few overview ideas are listed here. Heather is currently examining ideas on making the space more attractive, navigable and so forth. I'm not sure how many hosts do and don't know about the scripts. So far, everyone who becomes a host is asked to read the host lounge pages and a few specific pages. I figure, if people aren't reading those pages than perhaps it's their fault that they aren't noticing the script page? :) Any solid design ideas that you might have we'd love you to share. Please do post suggestions of what you think is not needed in the host lounge, or what else is needed that you don't easily find in the lounge now.
  • Can we have a host orientation? You can see here, that we do have some ideas started related to how to get new hosts up to speed with the basic information quickly, while also not overwhelming them at first. Sort of a guided "orientation" that takes new hosts through a few pages that are simple in design and pleasing to experience and shows them the basics and how to get started without having to read long pages of text. Feel free to share any other ideas you might have :)

I hope this helps answer some of your questions! Thank you! SarahStierch (talk) 23:10, 2 August 2012 (UTC)