User:Juliancolton/Joining a Wikimedia project

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Noto Emoji Pie 1f4c4.svg This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

When you first approach a new Wikimedia project, it can be rather overwhelming. Each wiki has its own distinct guidelines, policies, standards and norms, and the overall atmosphere of the community greatly differs from wiki-to-wiki. It can take a bit of getting used to. This essay is intended for those already experienced on their home project, but looking to broaden their horizons by participating in others.

First step(s)[edit]

The first step is to approach the project of your interest and read its Main Page; this will probably give you an idea of the project's intentions if you're not already aware of them, and will likely give you some helpful links. If you've not yet been welcomed, go to your talk page and add {{welcome}} as you would if you were welcoming a newbie on your home project. The welcome template has a good description of the community, and probably provides useful guidelines for getting your feet wet. The next step is, naturally, to bluelink your userpage. A simple soft-redirect to your home wiki will be acceptable.

Wait! Before you get started, it's crucial that you remember to respect the community and avoid stepping on anybody's toes. Each wiki has its own distinct atmosphere, and what's acceptable at your home project may be considered inappropriate at this wiki. Just ensure you don't go mucking about the place and you should be fine.

Optionally, you might want to consider finding an active member of this wiki and asking them to be your "mentor". A respectful "Hi, I'm new here" will usually suffice. Local contributors are usually more than happy to help, but again, remember to take baby steps and try to resist the temptation to dive right on in. Once you've found a willing editor, don't hesitate to ask any questions you might come up with. Among the most "useful" questions is: Are there any unwritten standards I should be aware of before I begin contributing?

Becoming part of the community[edit]

Now you've got an idea of what the project does and how to work your way in, you are ready to begin editing! It's never a good idea to start by engaging in socialization, as you may be used to at your home project. Find a nice content page to expand, rewrite, or improve; this includes everything from re-categorizing a Commons image to simplifying an article at the Simple English Wikipedia. Clicking on Special:Random will quickly bring you to a piece in dire need of assistance, so dig in! While others suggest reading through all relevant guidelines and policies before editing content, I think it's a better idea to be bold and start working as soon as you're ready. If you mess up, someone will correct your mistakes and point you in the right direction, as is the standard for wiki communities.

If you've managed to complete your improvements to the page of your choice, ask your unofficial "mentor" to look it over and see what can be improved. If they criticize your work, be very grateful; reviews from your peers are terribly under-appreciated and hugely productive. If they give your work the seal of approval, you're good to go; feel free now to start working your way in.

In general, you should try to edit content pages before becoming involved in community discussions, like requests for deletion or adminship proposals. Many projects have voting criteria, so if you have less than a couple hundred edits, it's probably not the best idea to vote on stuff at the moment. After a couple weeks, however you're safe to work towards your goal of becoming a respected member of the local community. '

If you feel like you're moving too quickly, slow down and take a step back. Speeding into a new wiki will invariably lead to mistakes and issues with more experienced editors. On the other hand, you should generally maintain a fairly steady pace as you enter your new project. If you happen to run into any roadblocks, just work calmly and patiently to fix them. At this stage, it's very tempting to simply resort back to your home wiki if you encounter issues at the new place.

Gaining additional flags[edit]

The rest is self-explanatory. You simply contribute as you would at your home project, maintaining an even balance between content additions and community involvement; of course, you're free to focus on one corner of the wiki as you please.

You may feel an urge after a couple months to investigate the local adminship procedures, including the standards for requesting sysop tools. The thing is, if you're not familiar with the standards for admins, you're not ready to be an admin yourself. Though it may seem tempting to request adminship, perhaps on the basis that you're already trusted with userrights on your home project, you need to become a dedicated member of the community before doing so. No need to wait forever, but in general it's best to get six months of experience under your belt before aiming for adminship.

Sustaining participation[edit]

Now you're well on your way to becoming an active and known member of the community. Perhaps you've obtained special rights such as adminship or bureaucratship. Either way, it's relatively important to spend at least some time contributing to your new project, but obviously you don't have an obligation to do anything you don't want. Ideally, you should learn how to spread your time out between projects and find a comfortable position with which to continue participation.

Good luck!