Submissions:2016/Welcoming and Helping New Editors: A Month at the Teahouse

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Welcoming and helping new editors: A month at the Teahouse
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Jim Heaphy
E-mail address

According to WMF research staff writing in 2015, "The Teahouse offers personalized support to new editors, providing an opportunity to learn the ropes of Wikipedia in a safe, friendly, and engaging environment".

I am the most active Teahouse host, with 3983 edits to the project as of August 30, 2016. The Teahouse began on February 15, 2012. Initially, the Teahouse was directly supported by WMF staff and fellows, but became volunteer-run in October, 2012.

I will read and review all of the 300+ questions asked at the Teahouse in the month of August, 2016, and their responses. I will sort each question into one or more general categories. Such categories will include writing a first article, image usage, copyright issues, article naming, tables, reference formatting, identifying reliable sources, conflict of interest, denials at Articles for Creation, and so on. Statistics about these categories for that month will be provided and discussed. Examples of specific positive interactions with new editors will be provided, as well as negative interactions, along with discussion of what went right and wrong.

The most active recent Teahouse hosts will be identified, and basic demographic information about them will also be provided. New editors who sought help at the Teahouse and then went on to become productive long term editors will also be discussed.

I will summarize existing research about the Teahouse and its effectiveness in editor retention. Although much of this research was completed back in 2012 during the early days of the Teahouse, a current project regarding "long term new editor retention" is being conducted by Jonathan Morgan and Aaron Halfaker of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has preliminary findings indicating that "that Teahouse invitees were significantly more likely than control to have made 1 or more edits between 3-4 weeks after registration ... and to have made 5 or more edits between 2-6 months after registration".

I will conclude my presentation with my own recommendations about how to improve the functioning and effectiveness of the Teahouse, especially in the all-important area (in my opinion) of personalized responses, friendly personal touches, and avoiding writing responses that can be perceived as bureaucratic, formulaic and cold.

I will also present ideas about how to better publicize the Teahouse to new editors, and also to potential new Teahouse hosts among the corps of experienced and active editors.

Length of presentation
30 min.
Special schedule requests
Preferred room size
50, but I will happily defer to the judgment of the conference organizers
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?

Interested attendees

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  1. Excited to see the stats, demographics, and impact. Looking forward to this! ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 09:29, 31 August 2016 (EDT)
  2. LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 12:00, 31 August 2016 (EDT)
  3. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 17:41, 19 September 2016 (EDT)
  4. Josve05a (talk) Just launched on Swedish Wikipedia. Will most likely ask questions about best practises etc. (one of the reasons I was approved a grant to come to the states from Sweden)
  5. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 21:04, 4 October 2016 (EDT)
  6. Paulscrawl Can't attend as I'm presenting at same time, but very interested in stats, lessons learned, and how they might apply to best practices for Reference Desks, which also frequently attract new and potential users.