Topic on Talk:Growth/Personalized first day/Newcomer tasks

New section 'Newcomer task tag' needed

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

Can you please add a section on the project page called 'Newcomer task tag', or similar? I am seeing tags on edits at en-wiki with the text 'Newcomer task' which are hyperlinked to this page, but when you get here, there is no explanation about this tag, what it means, how it got applied to that edit, or what anyone else should do, or keep in mind, when they see it. Is this simply a DONT BITE reminder for more experienced editors who might be about to warn or template a user? I expect not; I'm just trying to elicit a response; but I really don't know how to interpret that tag, and since it links here, this is the logical place to have a section about it.

Please also explain the tag 'Newcomer task: copyedit', which also links here, and what the difference is between the two of them.

Clarifying: I'm not asking for an explanation of these tags here on the discussion page in reply. I'm asking for a new section to be created at Growth/Personalized first day/Newcomer tasks where everyone can see it. The only thing I need in this discussion is a ping. Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 21:19, 16 February 2023 (UTC)

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

@Mathglot Great minds think alike! :) We are actually planning to make a change soon that addresses this: T322813 & T329906.

We'll link each Newcomer task tag to specific section explaining the task.


If you had been linked to those pages instead of this project page, do you think that would have addressed your questions?

Those tags hopefully serve as "don't bite" reminder, but I also hope that any moderator interested (or frustrated) by those edits will click the tag and learn that newcomer tasks are helping increase the number of new account holders that try editing for the first time AND improve new editor retention. Perhaps that's something we need to highlight more on that page. Do you have any suggestions for how we should improve the new Newcomer Tasks page?

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

KStoller, I think the Newcomer tasks may have a downside which I just ran into. I haven't seen the instructions aimed at NCs yet, but I think it may have led one editor astray, with the consequence that I spent a good deal of time undoing their edits, then analyzing what was wrong with them, so I could give some concrete feedback on their UTP, resulting in two of the longest messages I've ever placed on a UTP, and both of them to the same user. The irony here is, that this user only seemed to be doing what you told them to do in a newcomer task (or at least, I'm assuming so; will check further when I see what you tell them). Have a look at the edits at en-wiki of user Jonathan9898, and my extensive messages to them at them at their UTP. Kind of a waste of their time, and mine, also. It's hard to know how much of this is due to whatever the direction they are getting from Newcomer tasks, and to what extent this might have happened anyway, and was probably a confluence of several things, including whatever that particular user brings to the table. I feel sorry for having had to undo a dozen of that editor's edits, when all they were doing, I can now see, is what they were told to do. (Had I known about Newcomer tasks before I saw their edits, I still would have undone them just the same; the only thing that would have changed, would be my edit summaries, and my explanations on their UTP for why they were undone.)

As a related issue, I'd like to be able to read somewhere, how you pick or suggest the articles for them to edit. (I assume you're doing that, right? I find it hard to believe two new editors would have turned up at the w:Battle of Khresili without a link to it.) In the case of the Battle article, there are essentially zero reliable sources in English books, journals, or magazines; the stuff on the web is all social media, youtube, blogs, and SPSes. The point being, that had this been a Newcomer phase 2 task of adding content with new assertions of fact requiring inclusion of citations, unless your Newcomer speaks Turkish or Georgian, they would be SOL, or rather, they would very likely be tempted by the junk sources on the web (because there isn't anything else), add possibly bad content based on unreliable sources to the article, and fail that task, too. So I think it's important, if you also have a "sourcing" newcomer task in the hopper, to think about how you pick the articles for that. Is it automated, or a pool of curated article titles and then randomly distributed? Already another newcomer has hit w:Battle of Khresili, and I wonder how they ended up at this incredibly obscure topic.

I haven't really had a chance to look at the pages you linked to yet, but I will tomorrow. I'll try and remember to respond then (pls ping me if I don't). I think these tasks are an attempt to address an important goal that needs addressing, and I'm glad you're working on it, and if I can contribute in improving that in any way, that will be very gratifying. Let's keep in touch. Mathglot (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2023 (UTC) edited for clarity at 22:25, 17 February 2023 (UTC)

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

@Mathglot, thanks for spending the time to provide feedback to the Growth team and such extensive feedback to a new user! After reading your detailed feedback for this new editor I was excited to suggest that you join Mentorship, but I just checked and I see that you already are a Mentor. :) Thanks for taking the time to help new editors!

I wanted to let you know that our team is discussing this example and your feedback separately as well. There are actually several different topics you've brought attention to here that are worth consideration.

I haven't seen the instructions aimed at NCs yet, but I think it may have led one editor astray

It looks like this user would have received our "copy edit" guidance, which you can read here: Help:Growth/Tools/Newcomer Tasks#copyedit. Let me know if you think there is something in that onboarding that you think could lead a new editor astray. Unless an article needs clear spelling or grammar fixes, copy editing is actually a rather challenging task. We hope to eventually work on a more structured task around copy editing that might provide better guidance.

I'd like to be able to read somewhere, how you pick or suggest the articles for them to edit.

Newcomer tasks compiled by maintenance templates. Communities can decide which maintenance templates to include and adjust settings here: You can see that we also provide the option to exclude articles containing certain templates or categories (although it appears that's not currently in use on English wikipedia). Unfortunately there is always the possibility that we are suggesting articles that aren't really appropriate for newcomers. It sounds like w:Battle of Khresili is one of those cases. It would be removed from the Newcomer task list if the `Peacock` template was removed or if that template was removed from the EditGrowthConfig. I've had conversations with others about how articles with that template might be especially challenging for newcomers, so perhaps that's something the English community might want to change? It's worth noting that we also attempt to show newcomers topics that they are interested in. You can read more about that and Newcomer tasks as a whole here: Growth/Personalized first day/Newcomer tasks#Version 1.1: topic matching

I think these tasks are an attempt to address an important goal that needs addressing, and I'm glad you're working on it, and if I can contribute in improving that in any way, that will be very gratifying. Let's keep in touch.

Yes please!

The Growth team hopes to continue to iterate and improve on the existing newcomer tools (while also working on some new features / projects) so feedback is always welcome!

Do you think it's worth having a larger conversation with others about removing the `Peacock` template from English Wikipedia's EditGrowthConfig?

Do you have any suggestions for how we can recruit more Mentors on English Wikipedia? Currently only 10% of new accounts get matched with a Mentor because we don't have enough Mentors. The Welcome template still mentions the Adopt-a-user program despite that page saying "If you are a completely new editor, we’re sorry, but Adopt-a user is not really best-suited to your needs." I think that Mentorship is likely a better fit for brand new editors, but we can't really publicize it more until it's available to all newcomers.

Thanks again for your thoughts and feedback!

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

Briefly: I'm continuing to discover your pages, and some of my questions seem to be already answered elsewhere, so it's partly because I'm new to your product and am still discovering it.

Part of the issue I see here, reminds me of the old game of "Telephone", where a message gets progressively blurrier and garbled, the more it's passed on. Here, it starts where some editor perceives a problem at an article, and slaps a template on the article. There are a finite number of these templates, and often the template content is only an approximation of what the real problem is. So, that's the first whisper. Secondly, the editor who places it is encouraged to use the |reason= parameter, but the great majority do not. Whisper #2. Then, some part of your software finds the tagged article, and tries to assign it to one of the six tasks, which are only very roughly aligned with maintenance templates: whisper #3. Then, there's the doc page, the on-page guidance, and the understanding of a new editor to take into account. How close to the complaint identified by the original template are we now? I can easily see how a stepwise blurring of this sort could have led two separate editors at w:Battle of Khresili to make good-faith edits that were not helpful.

I presume that you control generation of the edit tags, and can add as many subtypes of copyedit tags as you wish to; is that correct?. If so, I would recommend that the tag, and the task, hew very closely to the maintenance template problem that is identified on the page. Maybe this means several dozen more tags or subtags, and a longer doc page with more subtasks (or a hierarchy of task pages) but I think that would reduce the blurring and keep a newcomer focused on a task that is as closely related to the actual problem identified on the page as possible.

In the case of the {{Peacock}} template, I assume it enables the choice of Battle of Khresili only for editors needing to be assigned a Copyediting task, correct? Imho, that is way too broad, and ideally, it should be only for a specific subtype of copyediting, namely, searching for peacock terms and removing them or altering them. An editor should not be led to an article that has some peacock terms, and told it needs, or could benefit from, general copyediting. A Peacock template is not a sign that the article needs general copyediting, and indeed, imho, w:Battle of Khresili does not need general copyediting, so if newcomers were told that it did, they were lead astray, in my opinion. (As a side issue, I don't think the article has any peacock terms, either, and I've raised that at the article talk page, but that's not something you need worry about as is is unrelated.)

I won't have any suggestions about mentorship for you until I have tried it out myself. Haven't yet found the time to even browse the dashboard and see how it works, so I'm still a completely newbie in that respect. Mathglot (talk) 01:10, 18 February 2023 (UTC)

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

Agreed, there perhaps is a bit of "Telephone" happening here.

I presume that you control generation of the edit tags, and can add as many subtypes of copyedit tags as you wish to; is that correct?

Currently there are only 5 newcomer task types on English wikipedia: copyedit, add links, find references, update articles, and expand short articles. However the community controls which templates populate those tasks. Community configuration for English Wikipedia is here:

We've also discussed full community configuration support for suggested edits T291349, but haven't prioritized that work yet.

I agree that the copyediting guidance is perhaps too broad / vague for articles with the {{Peacock}} template. A quick solution would be to remove that template from the EditGrowthConfig. I had a similar conversation with community members about the copy edit task previously, and suggested the following:

  • If it seems like there is a certain copyedit template that is especially challenging for newcomers, then perhaps it should be removed from the configuration.  
  • People could also spend time cleaning up the application of certain templates that are included in the Growth Configuration; if maintenance templates are no longer relevant, then they should be removed from the article.
  • Or perhaps there is a new template that should be created? A new maintenance template could be created that is especially geared towards newcomers, and the Growth Configuration could be updated to only pull suggestions from that maintenance template.

Do you think any of those ideas could help?

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

So, I've had a glance at Help:Growth/Tools/Newcomer Tasks, and I have a few comments or questions.

As far as organizational structure:

  • Why are there separate sections for '#Add Links' and '#Suggested: add links'? The main difference I can see is whether the Moon, or Mercury is the example.
  • Why is 'Suggested: add images' a "suggested" one, and not a task like the others? I don't see anything special about it.
  • The tasks are all top-level (H2) sections currently. If they were H3 subsections, you could nest them under a new H2 'Tasks', and then the ToC section numbering would start at '1', and they'd be conveniently grouped. On the 'cons' side of it, en-wiki would disapprove, because of en:MOS:NOBACKREF, but that's guidance only and I think it works here, plus, this is not en-wiki.

Purpose section: good start, but it lacks mention of the intended audience. From the page title, newcomers might assume that this page is directed at them, but it seems clear to me that this is not the case; the organization seems to imply that it is directed more at people like me, trying to get a handle on what it is about, perhaps because I want to understand the tags, perhaps because I want to act on it and help out the newcomer who made a tagged edit, and I don't want to just jump in uninformed. Or maybe it isn't; that should be made clearer. (If, in fact, it is intended at newcomers, then I would overhaul the page completely; that is a more involved topic for a separate discussion.)

Project audience: individual sections make it clear to me that this is directed at en-wiki users only (such as #Add_links step 3, clearly referring to en:MOS:OL). But my (limited) understanding of mediawiki is that it is cross-project and in general, applies to all Wikipedias and other sister projects, is that correct?. If the newcomer page applies to en-wiki only, this should be stated somewhere. If it is intended to apply cross-project, then either remove en-wiki based guidance (such as MOS:OL), or else change the verbiage to either give multiple wiki examples, or deal with it some other way. If this page is destined to be translated, like meta pages often are, then the verbiage tied to an individual wiki like that MOS:OL example should not be translated, but transformed, into whatever fr-wiki or es-wiki, etc. have to say about linking, not what en-wiki says about it (if they say anything at all; many probably don't, in which case, remove that step, or replace it with something else). Fr-wiki, for example, regularly links years, and century ordinals (they even have a template for the latter).

Introduction: seems like there's a missing introduction section ('About' covers some of this, but is more purpose-oriented). In it, you could describe the six tasks very briefly; bullet items with on-page section links might be a quick and easy introduction:

and so on.

Section Add links:

  • the purpose is stated as 'demonstrate to newcomers that it is possible to edit the wiki.' I don't think you meant that; that seems like copypasta from the 'Copyedit' section. Also, there isn't anything about the different edit s/w; this operation is very different in VE or the source editor; not saying this page should detail the steps, but it should say whether it's targeting NCs using VE or source code editors, and whether mobile view or desktop figures into this at all (and I think there's maybe an iOS app as well, or am I mistaken?).
  • unless I missed it, there isn't any actual link (or brackets, if this is a source-code example) in the examples in the section; so I don't see how it shows them how to add a link. I'm assuming that's because this is just a draft/work in progress.

That's as far as I got, for now.

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

Thanks for the feedback!

I'll ask @Trizek (WMF) to take a look at your suggestions next week.

Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hello Mathglot, and thank you for your questions and suggestions regarding Help:Growth/Tools/Newcomer Tasks.

'#Add Links' and '#Suggested: add links' are two different features. The first one encourages users to add links, while the second suggests links that can be added, based on an algorithm. Only first feature is offered to newcomers at English Wikipedia.

'Suggested: add images' is based on an algorithm, which suggest images used at other Wikipedias for local addition. Again, this task is not available at English Wikipedia.

Regarding these suggested edits, the page introduction documents it: "This page lists all existing newcomers tasks. Some of these tasks may not be available at your wiki. Check the Deployment table to know which tasks are available where."

As you edit French Wikipedia, you can test Suggested Links and Suggested images there, by visiting fr:special:Homepage.

I added a new section to separate the tasks from the rest of the page. Good idea, thank you!

RE: purpose -- actually, this page is not for newcomers. It is meant to be discovered when experienced users click on tags on Recent Changes or Watchlist. The goal is to show the instructions displayed to newcomers, as most experienced users aren't well aware of newcomers tasks. I added a small clarification regarding the audience.

Re: audience -- the targeted audience are all experienced Wikipedia users (not sister-projects), no matter which language they speak. The instructions have been written to cover most common and universal cases. Of course, some local rules might apply; they are then covered by communities who can either edit the local message or explain how the edit can be improved.

In the case of a step where a link is provided, the rule is to edit this link to match the language. In Update#5, the instruction link goes to en:Wikipedia:Verifiability at English Wikipedia, while it goes to fr:Wikipédia:Vérifiabilité at French Wikipedia. Due to translations limitations, the current link on the help page at mediawikiwiki goes to a mediawikiwiki page.

RE: section Add links -- The purpose of this task is to demonstrate to newcomers that it is possible to edit the wiki. :) It is simple and easy to achieve. Communities often say "Be bold", and this task is precisely about it, especially with Suggested links (the idea is to see the Add links feature to be replaced bu Suggested links). In all cases, we are in a "Visual editing first" approach, as this editor removes the technical barrier of learning wikitext. They aren't available at Android and iOS apps.

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

Back to the Battle of Khresili article. A second new editor is now working on this obscure battle article, and appears to have gotten there via the Newcomer tasks (see copyedit tag on revision 1139890459 (11:17, 17 Feb.). Although there are some minor improvements (notably, sentence initial number spelled out) most of this is just moving words around ("every year" ⟶ "yearly"; "full independence" ⟶ "complete independence"; "Ottomans were eventually forced to sign" ⟶ "Under force, the Ottomans eventually signed"; "which was successfully achieved" ⟶ "which they achieved successfully"; "but soon Abashidze was killed by a Georgian soldier" ⟶ "Although, Abashidze was soon killed by a Georgian soldier") and on balance, not an improvement, or makes the article worse. One could revise this, keeping 20% and adjusting 80%, but in reality it's burdensome, and my first reaction is to just undo it. Which then, presumably, would have to be followed up by a section on this user's Talk page, explaining why I reverted their edit, when they were just following instructions. The bottom line is, if a new editor's changes are not an improvement to an article, they should be adjusted or removed; no special quarter is or should be given, just because they are following newcomer instructions. (The Wiki Edu program faces similar issues, and is fully supportive of the fact that although student editors are brand new, no special dispensation should be given to poor edits, just because they are student editors trained through the Wiki Edu program. The same thing should apply to newcomer tasks and the edits resulting from them.)

While we all make mistakes, especially at the beginning—I certainly remember a lot of reverts when I first started out—nevertheless, those errors were mine alone. My feeling here, is that some of the newcomer tasks (in particular, the 'copyedit' task) is worded in such a way, as to encourage new editors to make pointless, word-salad edits which do not improve the article. I spend a fair amount of time with new editors, and I'm always willing to help them, but I wouldn't be happy if that burden was increased due to instructions to new editors from Wikimedia whose result was to generate a higher proportion of poor edits which have to be examined, and then reverted or adjusted, followed ideally by an explanation to the user. It feels to me at this point, that live articles are being used as a test bed for newcomer copyedit tasks, instead of the sandbox. If they are doing word-salad changes merely to see that they can edit Wikipedia, and not keeping in mind the need to improve the article, then that is not a valid reason to edit the article, and if there's no improvement, the edit should be undone, or they shouldn't be applying that edit to a live article. And it's not good for the newcomer, either, probably leaving them confused about why their edits were removed, when they apparently just did what they were told to do. This could be a real hit on editor retention; I know I'd feel discouraged under those circumstances. (Maybe they should be directed toward the Talk page instead, and introduce themselves there, first. That will give them the feeling of changing a live page on Wikipedia, requiring all the same learning tasks, without changing a public-facing page.)

As far as the newcomer task, it may just be a matter of changing the verbiage presented to the user, making sure relevant policies and guidelines are linked, and perhaps even advice about not changing verbiage solely for the purposes of the task. One way I word this sometimes to users, is: "every change must improve the article in some way, no matter how small". Mathglot (talk) 23:03, 17 February 2023 (UTC)

Mathglot (talkcontribs)

It sounds like w:Battle of Khresili is one of those cases.

Somewhere in your Growth pages, I had found a JSON page showing the conditions for a task being shown, but I can't find it again. Now I can't remember if there was an "exclusions" list array, where you could list articles to exclude, even if they met the template condition. (Assuming not, as the list could get pretty long.) Then it occurred to me, that since those conditions looked very simple, maybe it could be beefed up to do something like Petscan does, so it could interact with a lot more conditions, including categories, and all manner of other conditions. If we had that, I imagine we could define some condition that would exclude articles like w:Battle of Khresili. I'm guessing that is not on the table, but it would be a powerful addition.

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)
Reply to "New section 'Newcomer task tag' needed"