This page in a nutshell: The WMF Growth team works on a set of features to encourage newcomers to make edits: Newcomers Tasks, Newcomer Homepage and Help Panel. These features have been shown to increase engagement by newcomers. This page summarizes the features and their impact so that communities can determine whether to implement them.
Research has shown that newcomers struggle to edit and continue editing Wikipedia because of three main challenges: technical, conceptual, and cultural. They currently do not have access to the resources they need to surmount those challenges. To give these things to newcomers, the WMF Growth team has built three interconnected features, described in more detail below. These features have been shown to increase the activation, retention, and edit volume of newcomers.
- Newcomer homepage: a special page that hosts the "newcomer tasks" and is a good place for a newcomer to get started. The homepage gives access to many resources, including a link to a volunteer mentor that would reply to their questions.
- Newcomer tasks: a feed of suggested edits that help newcomers learn to edit. Newcomers have been making productive edits through this feed! The feed is located on the Homepage, as the starring feature.
- Help panel: a platform to provide resources to newcomers while they are editing. When newcomers work on Newcomers tasks, the help panel guides them on what to do.
All of these features are available on both desktop and mobile. It is also possible for experienced users to turn them on and use them. You can try these features at all Wikipedias. They are available by default for newcomers at a majority of Wikipedias.
For more information about the Growth team, see this page on mediawiki.org. To deploy the features on your wiki, please check on our deployment process page. If you have questions, please check our FAQ. You can also leave us a message.
This feature is the main component of the Growth features that is increasing how many newcomers make their first edit, come back to make more edits, and the number of edits they make. Newcomer tasks is a workflow that suggests articles to edit, shown to users via the "suggested edits module" on the newcomer homepage. Newcomers are able to choose from different types of edits (based on maintenance templates) and filter to topics of interest (based on ORES models). They then can choose from a feed of articles to work on. Once on an article, the help panel will provide guidance on how to complete the edit. In 2021, the Growth team is building new editing workflows that aim to make it smaller and easier for newbies, especially from mobile devices. These are called "structured tasks". As of June 2021, we have implemented the first structured task for adding wikilinks to four Wikipedias (Arabic, Czech, Vietnamese and Bengali). In it, an algorithm suggests to newcomers words or phrases that could be good wikilinks.
Screenshot of suggested edits module in Czech Wikipedia
Screenshot of topic filter
Screenshot of difficulty filter
Screenshot of Structured Tasks - Add a link
To see the metrics and impact of newcomer tasks, see this page on mediawiki.org.
For more information about newcomer tasks, see this page on mediawiki.org.
For more information about Structured tasks, see this page on mediawiki.org.
This special page hosts the newcomer tasks workflow, and contains other modules that give newcomers access to the most important things they need to see on their first day. After creating their account, newcomers see a popup (and some other notifications) encouraging them to visit their homepage, which is accessible through the link to their username along the top of their browser window. Though the team is still experimenting with different modules, here are modules that may appear on the homepage:
- Mentorship module: assigns each newcomer an experienced user, and gives an easy way to post questions to the mentor's talk page. Mentors volunteer to take part by signing up. This feature has to be configured by the community to become active.
- Suggested edits module: see "Newcomer tasks" above.
- Help module: lists links to commonly visited help pages.
- Impact module: shows newcomers the number of pageviews on each of the articles they have edited.
- Emails: The page also encourages users to add and confirm their email address.
Screenshot of newcomer homepage feature on Czech Wikipedia
Screenshot of prompt for asking a mentor question
Screenshot of newcomer homepage on a mobile device
Results so far
- The majority of newcomers visit their homepage, and many of them return to visit their homepage on subsequent days.
- As of November 2020, 14,228 mentor questions have been asked by 11,785 users.
- The homepage increases the number of newcomers who have confirmed email addresses.
For more information about the newcomer homepage, see this page on mediawiki.org.
This is a box that newcomers can open while they are editing. It does four things:
- Guides newcomers while they do suggested edits.
- Lists links to commonly visited help pages.
- Allows newcomers to search for other help and policy pages.
- Allows newcomers to ask a question directly to the help desk.
The help panel appears in both the wikitext and visual editors. When we deploy this feature, we make sure that a wiki's existing help desk (or Teahouse) will work with the features, and that experienced users watching the help desk are willing to receive the incoming questions.
Screenshot of help panel (closed) on Czech Wikipedia
Screenshot of help panel (open) on Czech Wikipedia
Screenshot of help panel (open) on French Wikipedia (with the interface switched to English) showing the guidance feature. The panel explains how to expand an article.
Results so far
- About 20% of newcomers who see the help panel open it up, and about 50% of those who open it up interact with it.
- The help panel on its own does not increase newcomer edits, but we have retained this feature because we use it to provide guidance as part of the promising newcomer tasks flow described above.
For more information about the help panel, see this page on mediawiki.org.
Try the features
- enable the Help panel in the Editing tab.
- enable the Newcomer homepage in the User profile tab. Enabling the Newcomer homepage gives you access to Newcomer tasks.