Wikimedia Fellowships/Proposals/Newcomers Incubator

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Newcomers Incubator is a complex of organizational and technical solutions, which allows easier adaptation of new users to Wikipedia. The main element of the Incubator is a separate non-indexed namespace, where new users can create and improve their first articles. Other important elements: the created stubs are kept for a reasonable period of time, system of help and good atmosphere. More

I propose:

  • Further development of the Incubator and its technology for new users.
    • Better integration of the Incubator and the mainspace, for example, transfer of new users’ articles to the Incubator instead of deletion.
    • Asking wikipedians to consult the new users on professional topics.
    • Automatization and reduction of time for working with each new user because not many experienced editors have enough time, want and can work with new users for a long period of time
    • Improving the Incubator from the experienced user point of view
    • Solving tasks, such as summarizing how other language projects find copyvio, Notability Criteria and questions about image licensing and other new user FAQ in mainspace and Incubator.
  • Where possible, transfer of incubator technology and experience into the mainspace
    • Application of some Incubator experience to the reduction of conflicts between users in the mainspace.
    • Development of technology and mechanisms of articles quality improvement using incubator experience.
    • Development of methods of attracting and teaching the new users not only to write new Wikipedia articles as we do now but also to improve existing articles.
  • Knowledge and technology transfer to the Wikimedia projects, which want to implement it.


Russian Wikipedia has a project designated to work with the new users, which functions successfully from December 2009. We have accumulated a lot of experience of what works and what doesn't work and we hope can help other Wikipedias and other projects supporting new and experienced editors.

Our expertise and experience may be used for other tasks: improving quality of existing articles, teaching even experienced users, conflict solving, and retention of "tired editors".

We would like to transfer our knowledge to other Wikipedias.

Product, goals, and metrics[edit]

This is described in (goal 2).


  • Duration - 6 month up a year
  • Location - Moscow
  • Additional resources: probably access to Wikipedia databases for statistics and efficiency calculation. Possible involvement of specialists for one-off tasks.

Fellow(s) responsible for this proposal[edit]

  • Samal (in ru WP), Samal2010 (in global). I began active participation in the Russian Wikipedia in autumn 2007. I am researching new users' difficulties and problems since spring 2008. I invented and created the Incubator in Russian Wikipedia. Creation of the Incubator as a solution of lowering the entrance barrier required starting participating. For the 2010 completely I've been working with the new authors in Incubator. My main interests are work with new users, improving articles quality, “Wikipedia atmosphere”.


This section is for endorsements by Wikimedia volunteers. Please note that this is not a debate, vote, or poll, but is rather a space for volunteers to describe in detail why they think a fellowship project is of value. If you have concerns or questions rather than an endorsement to make, please use the proposal Talk page. Endorsements by volunteers willing to work in collaboration with a fellowship recipient on a project are highly encouraged.

  • This is to endorse the proposal by Samal2010. I am a sysop in Russian Wikipedia, and have also been involved in a number of other activities, including the active participation in the Program Committee for Wikimania-2010. I am not personally acquainted with Samal2010 but I follow his activity in Russian Wikipeda, and also I voted for him at his sysop nomination. He has taken up a particular problem, which is a high entrance barrier for starters. The policies are typically complex enough so that the starters even after getting the welcome message are still disoriented, and even if they have good material to create an article, they do not know how to do it, and often leave after the article has been nominated for deletion. He invented the new entity, which he called Incubator (not to be confused with the Wiki-Incubator at This is a subspace where the starters can slowly build up their articles under supervision of experienced users. During this process, they also get used to policies. An article in Incubator can not be deleted unless definitively abandoned, which means this is a soft environment for learning process. Samal2010 first was the only experienced Incubator user and personally supervised the article growth, then he got a sysop flag (so that he could move/delete articles) and managed to attract more users. Currently about a dozen of users including two sysops are working in the incubator on the permanent basis. As far as I know this covers about 10% of the capacity of the Incubator, because they are afraid if more starters are coming they can not provide sufficient supervision. Their plans are to extend slowly in order to provide adequate help to new users. The project generally was quite a success and we have now featured and good articles whose authors used to start working in Incubator. It was also mentioned in the message of Sue Gardner. On a personal note, I know Samal2010 as an extremely dedicated and responsible person. I strongly recommend him for the Foundation fellowship.--Yaroslav Blanter 14:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • As an active participant of Incubator I can say that this project could potentially bring in Wikipedia a lot of quality articles and authors, if all newcomers would create their article here. But at the moment situation is that the real power of project Incubator is enough just for a little share of them. During 2010 year we've searched ways to be more effective. We have created comprehensible step-by-step manuals, system of helping and reviewing newcomers' articles, system of speedy reaction for newcomers' requests, which are serviced by special bots and templates. So Incubator is stable system now, but it needs to grow. Samal is an author of this project, its ideologist and one of the most active participant. I think his views and ideas about further development (if being completely implemented) can bring a lot of benefit for Wikipedia. But in any case it is very difficult to implement a large project without a clear purpose, idea, concrete plan and coordination of actions. And to see these purposes and to properly plan and distribute resources it's necessary to hold a depth analysis of all events in whole Russian Wikipedia and particularly in the project. And for this we need a person who has enough free time and who is ready to carry on this analysis seriously. I think if Samal would be a fellow, he will have enough time to do it, let alone his aspiration and alacrity, in which I have no doubt even now. Dmitry89 15:02, 31 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • From my point of view, Incubator is the most special part of ruwiki as compared with other Wikimedia projects. Long time ago, long before creating strategy wiki, ruwiki community became aware of issues with new editors. 'The entrance barrier' was apparently too high, but no one was able to find working technique that would counteract this. When Samal started Incubator, I was thinking that it's just another 'good idea', and I was rather sceptical about Incubator's ability to really improve the situation. Now I think that I was mistaken there. Incubator is functioning and improving, and I feel its positive influence on Wikipedia. I am still not completely sure in sustainability of Incubator in case of Samal's leaving, but in any case, this project is very successful. It's success is mainly due to Samal's efforts.
    I think, one should try to save this experience to use it later in other projects. Samal is the most (and the only) suitable person for this work.
    Personally, I willingly participate in brainstormings organized by Samal, and I will surely do it later. I am excited about some of his ideas for articles quality improvement. Kv75 09:20, 1 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I’m just a regular Wikipedia user so I’m not sure how much my opinion counts but I'll give a shot anyway. I've been on WP for quite a while but I contributed little for one simple reason - I had no idea HOW. When I write about something I like to take my time, shuffle through sources, take breaks, arrange and rearrange chapters... I also work quite a lot. So I couldn’t write full articles in one seating, and I hated to write them in Word or Notepad – the former doesn’t like html markups and the latter is just too primitive.
    It all changed when I found Incubator – after another fight with some not so friendly user, Samal suggested I write my articles in the Incubator. It works GREAT. I can take my time, leave articles unfinished until I have time to finish them, I can do some messing and mixing up tags and links – all that without disrupting the main space and causing trouble. It also gives users a unique chance to get help here and now. You put “help” or “check” tags and voila – somebody comes and helps. With Incubator I’ve done more articles in the past couple of months than I’d done for 2 years before that.
    Apart from all the above, it also teaches some discipline – you can’t work on a project forever or it’ll go to on to public discussion and someone else will get the honor of finishing it for you. Also, Incubator may help avoid grievance and disputes between users and make Wikipedia a friendlier place.
    Good luck, Samal. Leo711 20:39, 4 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I support this fellowship project. I have never contributed to ruwiki but I am a recent changes patroller on english Wikipedia and have come across a lot of situations where genuine, good-faith contributors had a tough time making productive contributions due to over-zealous senior editors and admins. I had that problem when I started out on english wikipedia. I really hope something can come out of this research project that can be implemented on en.wp and other projects. We need to be patient with new editors and if an incubator provides that environment then I definitely support it. However, I do wish for a little clarification if samal is seeking a regular fellowship position or a grant to research remotely. Either way, Good luck Samal. Theo10011 20:58, 4 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  • I endorse a scholarship for user Samal in order to maintain the Incubator project. In Russian Wikipedia, Samal is well know for this project, which allows us to educate newcomers how to write articles. Samal delivered reports during Wiki-Conference'2010 (it was considered one of best reports at the event) and Wikipedia 10 Years Celebration (both events were organized by Wikimedia RU). Incubator project, being maintained primarily by Samal, gave Wikipedia about 700 articles during the first year of operation. The project should be of benefit not only for Russian Wikipedia, but for other Wikimedia Projects as well. I talked about Incubator to German colleagues (they have a somewhat similar "Mentorship" project), and they expressed their interest. So I support Samal's application for a scholarship and suppose that it would be useful for the Wikimedia movement. (I'm a director of Wikimedia RU and a member of organizing committees for the events mentioned above. Also I met Samal several times and discussed the project with him; so I know ideas behind the project close enough. I understand the community risks related to issuing of fellowships; it's why Wikimedia RU couldn't issue a fellowship for Samal by its own. But according to my understanding, fellowships are very important tools Wikimedia should experiment with, and Samal would be an excellent "guinea pig", as I don't expect any negative emotions from the community against him.) Dr Bug (Vladimir V. Medeyko) 02:53, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]