Submissions:2018/Working with new editors: observations from a Wikipedia Content Expert

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2018.

Working with new editors: observations from a Wikipedia Content Expert
Theme (optional)
Editor Recruitment & Retention
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Ian Ramjohn
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Ian (Wiki Ed) / Guettarda
Affiliation(s) (optional)
Wiki Education Foundation

What brings new editors to Wikipedia? For most of our history, the reasons have been diverse, but for one pool of new editors, the reason is simple: they’re here because their professor told them to be. Over the past four years, Wiki Education has brought 43,000 student editors to Wikipedia, and I’ve supported about half of that number.

Student editors have the potential to make large contributions to Wikipedia that are successfully integrated into the encyclopaedia, or term papers that sit untouched, because no one can figure out how to turn them into encyclopaedia articles. Some student contributions can achieve Good Article status with little modification, while others need to be extensively reworked just to remain in the article.

In this talk I will discuss my observations about the challenges that new student editors face, and some of the successes they have achieved. I will discuss the barriers they face, and interventions that can help students who have encountered problems get back on track. Sometimes just switching the first and second paragraphs of the lead can change an “essay like” draft into the beginnings of a viable encyclopaedia article. At other times, it takes more effort. Paying attention to what works and what doesn’t allows us to adapt our feedback and training materials to meet these needs.

When I started in this role, I had a decade of Wikipedia experience and a decade of experience as an instructor in higher education; I thought I knew what students needed to know to write Wikipedia articles. I’ve learned a lot about how students think about Wikipedia, and how they interpret their interactions with other Wikipedians. While some of my observations are specific to students, much of this applies to all new editors, and I will discuss ways in which these could be applied to efforts to help other groups of new Wikipedians contribution to the project.

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  1. Matthewvetter (talk) 02:54, 18 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. [[User:Checkingfax]] (talk) 07:26, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
  3. LingLass (talk) 21:43, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  4. Shalor (Wiki Ed) (talk) 15:31, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
  5. WWB (talk) 05:30, 20 August 2018 (UTC)
  6. Rachel Helps (BYU) (talk) 14:48, 20 August 2018 (UTC)
  7. JNova7 (talk) 00:03, 23 August 2018 (UTC)
  8. Airplaneman (talk) 06:15, 24 August 2018 (UTC)
  9. Norwegianblue (talk) 19:55, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
  10. Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 22:20, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
  11. Another Believer (talk) 14:55, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
  12. Thsmi002 (talk) 15:10, 15 October 2018 (UTC)