Topic on Help talk:Growth/Tools/Suggested edits

Copy editing is not always easy

7 (talkcontribs)

Correcting spelling and grammar issues is easy, but copy editing for tone is at least as difficult as locating sources to satisfy cn tags. It requires a specialist skill: being actually good at writing appropriate English. On the other hand, I think formatting citations is very easy, although I'm not sure how it interacts with any editing tools apart from the source editor.

Elemimele (talkcontribs)

Yes! Doing copy-editing properly is often extremely hard. It requires a very nuanced understanding of the language, an ability to guess what the writer might have meant, and in Wikipedias often a willingness to pursue sources to find out what the writer should have written. It sometimes requires knowledge of the subject: a naive copy-editor unaware of British bishoprics is likely to "correct" the commas in a phrase "the bishops of Chichester, and Bath and Wells" without realising that there are only two bishops involved, one of whom is bishop of Bath and Wells. (I think this example comes from Fowler, I can't remember).

Every day, the English Wikipedia is getting subtly trashed by well-meaning editors with limited language skills, accidentally changing meanings and shifting emphases. Please, please, remove copy-editing from the list of easy newcomer tasks. Finding references is much safer and easier. Maybe swap these two round, put references in easy, and copy-editing in medium?

NGC 54 (talkcontribs)

The "Add a reference" task should stay at medium, in part because the newcomer has to recognize a reliable source.

Elemimele (talkcontribs)

Yes, some competence and experience is necessary to recognise a reliable source, but if a newcomer adds a bad source, it's easy to see what they've done: their work is visible in black-and-white in the references. It's even easier to fix it. In contrast, where they've corrected grammar but wildly fouled-up the meaning of a sentence, there is no visible clue in the article. A few edits later, the evidence will be hard to find even in the page history. Copy-editing is therefore far more dangerous. I think what you may be getting at, @NGC 54, is that no editing in Wikipedia is truly easy! But as it stands, the text encourages willy-nilly poor-quality copy-editing by suggesting that this is a safe starter-job for the unaware.

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

Hello, thanks for providing feedback and including the Growth team in this conversation!

I agree that copy editing can be very difficult for newcomers!  The Growth team hopes to eventually develop a copy edit structured task that can highlight specific grammar and spelling issues.  However, the current copy edit task can be a challenge for newcomers as there often isn’t an obvious issue to solve.

Any admin on English Wikipedia has the power to disable the Copyedit task from Special:EditGrowthConfig.  The Growth team created that configuration page with the knowledge that one solution won’t work for all wikis, and we hope that each community will find ways to adapt the features to their unique needs. In other words, the Growth team is in full support of communities updating EditGrowthConfig as needed to fit their wiki; you don’t need our approval or assistance to make a change. :)

But here’s some further info that I hope is helpful. The copy edit Suggested Edits displayed to newcomers are selected because they have specific maintenance templates and those maintenance templates have been identified as fitting certain newcomer task types in English Wikipedia’s Growth Configuration. So, for example, if an article is tagged with the {{tone}} template, then it might be suggested to a newcomer as needing a Copyedit. Once the article is improved enough that someone removes the {{tone}} template, then it will also get removed from the newcomer Suggested Edits feed.

So adjusting the templates used to populate the task is a smaller change that might be worth exploring before completely disabling the copy edit task?

Currently these are the templates that are used to populate that copy edit task:

Which of those are not newcomer friendly and should be removed?  Are there more newcomer-friendly templates we should consider adding?  Perhaps Copy_edit_section or Copy_edit_inline?  Should we consider creating a new template created especially for newcomers?

KStoller-WMF (talkcontribs)

"no editing in Wikipedia is truly easy!"

So true! The Growth team recently discussed changing the language since "easy" isn't that accurate.

The Growth team has been working towards creating “Structured tasks” for the suggested edits feed, and we hope Structured tasks can eventually replace the current "easy" tasks. Structured tasks break down the editing workflow into a series of steps that newcomers can easily accomplish.  Current structured tasks (“add a link” and “add an image”) are not yet available on English Wikipedia, but we have been testing them on a smaller subset of wikis and gradually rolling them out to more wikis as we iterate and improve the tasks.  The great news is that our experiment analysis shows that these structured tasks are really helping more newcomers make an initial edit, improve newcomer retention, and lead to an improvement in the quality of newcomer edits as measured by the revert rate (-11.0% over baseline)!  Of course the downside is that there are then more newcomer edits to patrol.

As of now, English Wikipedia is included in the last round of wikis we communicate and release this feature to: T308144. But we could consider releasing on English Wikipedia earlier if there is interest. Once again it will be a community configurable feature that can be adjusted and disabled via Special:EditGrowthConfig.  :)

Elemimele (talkcontribs)

Thank you so much for this detailed response. I really appreciate the full background. The new structured tasks sound very good; I do appreciate your work and the difficult balancing acts that you face.

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