User talk:Bücherwürmlein/Best practices in mentoring programs

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Some thoughts[edit]

Following your presentation at Wikimania, I have some thoughts I would like to share and some questions.

  1. If I remember correctly, you mentioned phone calls. Do you use them a lot? Do you mean actual phone calls or Skype? And what about istant messaging? I don't know if IRC can be considered very user-friendly.
  2. How many users ask for a specific mentor?
  3. What do you do with mentored users? I mean, do you "watch" their contributions, you wait for them to ask your help on specific things, or what else?
  4. The most interesting and difficult question (only rough answers are possible, I suppose): do you think that your project has a real impact on If I remember correctly, you said that some hundreds users have been mentored so far. There are about 1000 new users per month. Do you think that you reach a good amount of users, and that the mentored users are more likely to become (very) active users? How many users does "earn" from the mentoring project.
  5. Another idea: perhaps has the biggest mentoring project because (as someone said in the community books session at Wikimania) it doesn't have strong WikiProjects. Perhaps, where WikiProjects are strong, users are more likely to meet according to their interests, and to be "mentored" by the WikiProject.

Thank you, Nemo 17:56, 15 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi :) I'm going to answer your points step by step:
  1. We use phone calls (real phone calls, I've never heard about using Skype calls, but I could imagine to do this, actually) when the relationship between is trustful and the mentor and the newbie had online-contact during a longer time-period. Using phone-calls is quite helpful to explain complicated things in real-time-communications, using voice, laughter and saying "over there is the right button" helps a lot. I don't know how many of our mentors are doing this (I'm sure a lot of mentors would never do).
  2. Let me give you the statistics from the last years:
    • 2007 all in all: 364 newbies, with specific mentor request: 50, without: 314
    • 2008 all in all: 852 newbies, with specific mentor request:130, without: 722
    • 2009 all in all: 1153 newbies, with specific mentor request:316, without: 837
    • 2010 all in all: 958 newbies, with specific mentor request:440, without: 518
    • So what we can see is, that the number of specific mentor requests is growing, but that most newbies still use the "usual" way.
  3. There are more or less two parts in "teaching" and dealing with the newbies. Most important part for us is to answer their questions and to give them support when they ask for support. So the main activity in the relationship between mentor and mentee is to ask and answer the questions – via mail, via (user) talk page or even via phone call. The other part is, of course, to watch the newbie's contributions and explain rules in case of mistakes they've made and protect the newbie. It is also neccessary to do some "mediation" in case of conflicts. This is the part, in which the mentor hast to become active of his own accord. A very common way of dealing with the mentee is to prepare an article in the user-namespace "together" in terms of explaining every rules the newbie mus know to write the article and answering every question and bring every mistake to his attention but let the newbie do the "real" work in the article-draft on his own (though, explaining every step is a lot more work than doing it yourself...): This lets the newbie deal with the rules, fell what they mean in practice and increases his (self-)confidence concerning editing, dealing with other users (using talk pages as well) and being bold.
  4. Let me give you stats again and you can see it for yourself:
    • In average a ususal-active user (I don't remember the exactly the data we assumed for "active" when we created this statistic – was something like x edits per x, I don't think this is very important) creates 1,09 articles, a mentored user creates 3,63 articles and "active" mentees even create 9,19 articles per mentee. This means that mentored users are more productive than "normal" users.
    • In November 2009 (just an example) we had 1064 new accounts and we adopted 133 new mentees in the mentoring program (=12,5 %). In December 2009 there were 992 new accounts and only 113 new mentees (=11,39 %). This means: The two numbers have some kind of relationship to each other (it's always about 10 %) and 10 % are some kind of impact when you keep in mind that a lot of accounts is blocked directly because of vandalism.
  5. This thesis is very interesting and I am not sure if I agree or not. We have some very strong WikiProjects but as far as I see, instead of welcoming the newbies they often give the feeling of a "closed community" and they make it difficult do participate. The collaboration in the team works very well, but the problem is to join the team. This seems to be transferable to the whole de-wikipedia and maybe this phenomenon is a de-wikipedia-specific problem (though, I think en-wikipedia has problems like this as well) which makes a mentoring-program-solution neccessary and make it strong as well.
That's it :) buecherwuermlein 20:27, 21 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you! On phone calls, I found out that wikiHow founder considers them important: «We hired communications coaches and had classes on line and over the phone so that people could learn ways to collaborate that are more compassionate». --Nemo 23:06, 16 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I know about that. I think phone calls are also important to give the newbie a medium to communicate he is acquainted with (and this is not a user talk page) buecherwuermlein 20:27, 21 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Help desk[edit]

Another interesting thing is the help desk: is there a place where users are given help actively? I see that activity varies a lot on different projects. On biggest Wikipedias, is very active (2100 edits/month, 430 users/month [1]), almost as active as (2800 edits/month [2]), and also and are quite active (respectively about 600 edits and 150 users/month[3] and 300 edits, 30 users/week[4]); is much less active (300 edits/month[5]); es, pl, pt, ja seem almost inactive. [6] [7] [8] [9] Obviously, it depends on how many places there are to ask help. On there are special template which can you can put on your user talk to ask help, maybe that system is more used than the help desk; on I was told that the help desk is only for newbies; on there's only the help desk even for questions by experienced users. --Nemo 22:53, 19 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As far as I see, in the help desk even is the only possibility to ask questions (aside from asking the user welcoming you on your user talk page). I
In there is one general help desk which is used by experienced users as well as by newbies and a special newbie-helpdesk; this is for the reason that many newbies get shocked by the kind of quesions asked on the general help-desk (complicated, technical questions) and we had the experience that they are kind of ashame to ask their simple questions there.
To compare different approaches in help-desks would be another interesting project, I see... buecherwuermlein 08:44, 11 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

English Wikipedia[edit]

Something is moving: w:en:Wikipedia:Wiki Guides.[10] Nemo 17:38, 15 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you. Will see how this is included in my project... Best --Tim Moritz (buecherwuermlein) 13:48, 25 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Some clue on Research:Wikiproject_Participation_&_Mentorship#Mentorship, Research:Wikimedia Summer of Research 2011/Newbie teaching strategy trends. --Nemo 14:16, 17 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Hi! This seems like a great project, I'm really looking forward to seeing the outcomes and learning more about what is working best in each language community. It might also help inform future Community Fellowship projects. Are you still planning to release results in the next few months? Siko 00:54, 21 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Siko, sorry for answering late. Yes I am planning to publish the first results in the next few months and at a presentation at Wikimania in DC. I also still plan to have a workshop on this at Wikimania, which did not take place in an adequate way in Haifa as I unfortunately could not attend Wikimania 2011.
Yes I thought about informing Fellowship projects but I was unsure where to do this. Do you have a suggestion? Regards, --Tim Moritz (buecherwuermlein) 23:04, 10 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Tim :-) Oops, I managed to entirely miss your reply here last year, sorry. I am still very interested to see what you've learned. And I imagine some of it may be useful for this project idea we've been discussing in IdeaLab. And maybe also for this scheme for a global wikiproject focused on sharing community best practices that I'd like to get started someday. If you'd like to share your learnings from your project or discuss further, I hope you might come join us in the Lab! Also wondering if you'll be at Wikimania this year? Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 17:34, 30 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]