Without contributors that truly represent the world's diversity, Wikipedia will never be able to provide more than the sum of some knowledge. But recruiting new contributors is useless if we cannot also provide a welcoming, rewarding environment that convinces them to stay. Currently, we struggle to do that even for those already trying: of the 100 000 users who start to edit each month, not even 6% survive to edit in their second month.
This stark reality is the motivation for New Editor Experiences, a Wikimedia Foundation project started in 2017 which aims to help the communities of mid-sized Wikipedias break down barriers that prevent capable new editors from succeeding.
The project began with a field research project where a team of researchers traveled to South Korea and the Czech Republic to meet new editors face-to-face and learn about their motivations and experiences. Across 64 different interviews, the team encountered a vast range of stories, from a church organist whose priest taught him to document the parish history on Wikipedia to a feminist who live-tweets her work expanding articles on women's issues.
In hearing the stories of users normally invisible, patterns of problems and opportunities emerged—in particular, the importance of building conceptual understanding of Wikipedia and providing progressive pathways to editing. This research has inspired multiple teams at the Wikimedia Foundation to focus their work during 2018-19 fiscal year on addressing these barriers, particularly by developing systems to provide better in-context help, human-to-human help, and communication tools.
This talk will describe stories from the research, software development work in progress by the Wikimedia Foundation, and strategies for retaining new editors that all Wikimedians can use.
Attendees will gain an evidence-based understanding of the diversity of new editors and how their own communities can become more welcoming to new contributors currently excluded. In addition, they will learn how they can help shape the outcome of several major technology projects at the Wikimedia Foundation which aim improve new editor experiences.