Welcome to Wikipedia (Bookshelf)/2013 edition
Three years ago, we published the Welcome to Wikipedia brochure; since then, the Wikimedia Foundation has distributed more than 8,000 printed copies in English, and it's been translated into at least 12 languages. The "Welcome brochure" (as we came to call it) was the first brochure the Foundation had released aimed at new editors, and it was a good start for what we knew at the time. In the last three years, however, we've spent much more time addressing what newbies really need to know about Wikipedia. Things like the online student training used in the U.S. and Canada versions of the Wikipedia Education Program better prepare new contributors. But the Welcome brochure remains outdated, even though we use it as an introduction to Wikipedia editing in GLAM workshops, editathons, education program presentations, and other in-person activities. So between now and the end of 2013, we will be overhauling the Welcome brochure.
We will keep these core principles in mind:
- The target audience for this brochure is people who have never contributed to Wikipedia before but who want to learn how. It is not meant to be an exhaustive description of everything that a Wikipedia editor needs to know, it's supposed to help people at the zero to 100 edit threshold.
- This brochure should be *global*, which means it is not just advice about the English Wikipedia, but advice about contributing to Wikipedia in any language. While some localization may be necessary, we don't want it to delve into things only used in the English Wikipedia.
We've created this page to collect feedback and provide updates on the project. I've put down some comments I received via email; feel free to add your own comments on this page, or send them to me via email at ldavis wikimedia.org and I will add them. As you can see even from the preliminary comments, people disagree; that's fine! Just put down your views.
If you want to be notified when we have drafts for review, follow the directions to sign up below.
Timeline for project edit
- September 30–October 14: Community feedback on current version
- October 15–21: Sage and LiAnna draft new version based on community feedback
- October 21–November 15: Iterative text revisions with community: edit the draft or leave suggestions on the draft talk page.
- November 15: Final copy sent to designer (no more text changes after this point)
- December 9 (approx.): Draft of redesign of new brochure published to Commons for community review. See draft PDF here.
- December 15 (approx.): Final version of brochure posted on Commons; send to printer.
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Feedback on the old version edit
What you like about current brochure edit
Overall design/concept edit
- A person, it feels welcoming and personal
- the "try it!" box call to action
- To me, the brochure tries to cover *waaay* too much. It reads like all the information that highly experienced editors *want* new editors to know *about* the context in which editing is done, but I doubt it's the information that new editors actually want to know about how to edit WP (it's not "how-to"). From an educational perspective, the information provided at each point should be the smallest increment to the new editor's knowledge to let them *achieve* what they want to do. I believe the new editor is likely to be "mission-focussed"; that is, there is a task they want to do ("fix a mistake", "add something important that's missing", "I have a photo of that"). They are not likely to be interested in knowing about WikiGnomes and other roles, how to prepare for a trip to Morocco (that's a "reader" task, not a new editor task), they are unlikely to want to monitor Recent Changes, they may not be interested in writing whole articles (some will, some won't) and, even if they do write one, they don't need to know about Good/Featured Articles because it won't be GA/FA. And, most alarming of all, there isn't any actual advice on the mechanics of editing (it says the information on markup is at the back, but it isn't).
- Also, how will the new user come into contact with this material in the first place? For example, if a new editor will have this information brought to their attention via their User Talk page, then clearly that new editor must have already worked out how to create an account and discovered the talk page. I would suggest breaking it up into a set of 1-or-2 pages brochures, each of which is mission-focussed and ends with links to the next brochures they are likely to want following this one
- "Getting the most out of Wikipedia" - focussed just on reading Wikipedia (navigating the UI as a reader - not editor)
- "How to create an account" and the *minimal* benefits of having one
- "How to add/change some text" (highly how-to focussed, with screen shots of the editor -- either source or visual) and mention that they can't just copy stuff out of books or off the web (maybe it's out of copyright or CC-licensed but 99% of the time it won't be) -- keep it simple "write it in your own words, don't copy from a book or website".
- "How to add a photo" showing them the steps involved (again focus on uploading their own photos).
- "How to write a new article" and I'd start this by saying "maybe don't try this until you've had some experience editing existing articles".
- "Someone's deleted what I wrote (or is complaining about it) - What do I do?" -- I'd suggest sending them to the TeaHouse as by this stage they will probably need some highly situational-specific advice (we know that the other editor probably isn't going to "hold their hand" because their first response has already been to delete the edit).
- and so on
- At 20 pages, full colour, and 12MB, most people will not want to download or print this document. I did download it and yes it was very slow to download and there is no way I am spending my expensive colour printer ink to print it all those backgrounds which add no informational value (and I live in a "rich" country -- there are plenty of people in the developing world who will be trying to read this on a mobile phone as their primary means of internet access) and most schools seem to limit printing to black-and-white. It's OK to have a beautiful colour version to be printed by WMF or chapters to be handed out to people, but for people accessing it themselves, also make it available as a small black-and-white document -- no backgrounds etc. Also modularise it (as above) into discrete topics to keep it short. And think about the mobile user -- maybe a simple-HTML version for them rather than PDF (so their browser will best deliver it to their screen) -- last month 15% of Wikipedia "reads" were mobile and it's upward trending. Presumably this will lead to an uptrend in mobile editing (something I once said I'd never do and now increasingly find myself doing it). Focus on having the right content, less on the graphic design.
- Try to use non-WP jargon. I see words like "revert". Test the document on non-WP-ians and see what they understand of it. The people who will read such a document will be typically less-computer-savvy on average (the computer-savvy will just jump in and edit without reading any documents) so the language needs to be kept simple and only introduce WP-jargon or computer-jargon necessary to let them negotiate the user interface (no, I have no idea how you could possibly explain to a new editor what the "Transclusion" button means in the Visual Editor -- best avoid any mention of it!)
- People really like this brochure when I give a printed copy to them at events, and ask me for more copies. Hope it will remain available, in print!
Specific comments edit
- Add your comments here.
- Pages 2–3
- the objectives stated up front
- The info box on the first page "After reading Welcome to Wikipedia you'll be able to"
- giving info on WP like on the first page. Though can this just be stats that are in bullet form?
- Pages 4–5
- size of volunteer work
- contributor motivation
- i would prefer to see a mention of media wiki software,
- which enables flat distribution of work based on affinity groups, not command & control
- editors organize in wikiprojects, editathons
- less on why logon, but add visual editor
- would prefer something more screen like, button to push
- Pages 6–7
- Wikipedia user interface are are good and useful pages. Especially with the "try it!" box.
- The diagram of the main page interface is a good concept (although it obviously needs to be redone from scratch, and it doesn't necessarily need to be the main page)
- i would like to see more about you 2 can edit, not merely read
- Pages 8–9
- I like 'How can I contribute' part.
- The various roles of what one can do is useful.
- The circle of roles in the "how can I contribute?" graphic is nice, although the globe doesn't make sense to me, and we should reevaluate which roles to include. Maybe it could be just a circle of person icons with their names and descriptions. This also seems like a possible place to adapt the WMF person logo concept, instead of generic person icons.
- breakdown of ways to contribute, globe visual
- I really like the concept of a "How can I contribute" page, as I think that's a really tough thing for a new user to figure out. But maybe this page, once redesigned or whatever, could include more specific details about how to do each thing. Or with a shortcut listed for further reading (e.g. the 'illustrator' person could have the Commons brochure "linked")
- distribute user interface, top buttons on previous page;
- left side buttons here: help, contributions, upload, what links here
- would prefer to see some examples with a side by side and link
- roles names is insider jargon
- Pages 10–11
- talk about user page comments, wikilove, barnstars, how to customize userpage, coi statements
- talk about peer review, good article status, show quality assessment
- Pages 12–13
- Good with the layout of the structure of an article on page 13 =
- prefer article taxonomy like at sarasays presentation 
- Pages 14–15
- Content (policy); Community
- new article for creation process
- Pages 16–17
- The instructions for creating a new article are important, although not visual enough. The "My sandbox" instructions are relevant, but the details will be incorrect for wikis that do not have the [my sandbox] link enabled in personal tools.
- The heading "A Wikipedian" is evocative. We'd need some appropriate content to fill out the section, though. The concept of a Wikipedian could tie together the creation of your userpage, the existence and nature of the community, and a lead-in to the circle of roles.
- Pages 18-19
- I like Sara's last comment which clearly reflects that she is a Wikipedian.
- Back cover
- The wikicode cheatsheet is solid (although it should be reviewed to make sure the most important syntax elements are there).
What you don't like about current brochure edit
Overall design/concept edit
- I'm not a fan of the quiz. I realize that the quiz helps break up the text chunks and also provides an element of interactivity, but TO ME it feels a bit condescending. I might use the spot for pull quotes or interesting trivia or something. "Do you know that <blank> people from around the world contribute to Wikipedia every day? You can, too!" Factoids on other pages could be things like explaining that volunteers work the help systems, too - on the web, in email and on IRC.
- Should we use the term wikipedians? It may sometimes be alienating, as if that is a group in which one does not belong. It's used 9 times in the brochure. 3 times writer is used, 12 times editor is used. 29 times user is used. This might be misleading and confusing as people have no idea that it's talking of the same group of people. Perhaps it's more fun to read a text which makes use of synonyms but I would be careful with this as it may seem as it's different groups of people you are referring to. Perhaps that should simply be explained somewhere, that it's all referring to the same thing?
- There should be a thought about the usage of the word community. I currently read it as it is something in which the reader of this is not included.
- The entire structure of large paragraph blocks is not right for this purpose. Key information should be spread out into discrete bites wherever possible.
- The quizzes are not at all appealing to me. I find things like that patronizing.
- in general, I think the text could be (and should be) complemented with visual snapshots. When talking about references, highlight some footnotes, etc.
- I personally don't like the quiz, though I appreciate it's trying to be interactive and engaging with the reader.
- tends to be text heavy, would prefer more presentation elements, screenshots, diagrams
- Very cold colors.
- A lot of grey (page 1, page 2, the girl's clothing etc.)
- The girl seems "off". Sometimes has strange facial expression, strange mouth/fingers etc.
- Wikipedia's page image on pages 6-7 is completely impossible to localize. An orthogonal image should be preferred, even if it doesn't look as nice.
Specific comments edit
- We should rename the brochure to something like "Contributing to Wikipedia" or "Editing Wikipedia" (both to fit in line with the Illustrating Wikipedia and Evaluating Wikipedia brochures also in this series and to focus it in on what we are actually trying to get people to do: contribute to Wikipedia).
- Pages 2–3
- Second page, the question "How does WP work?" Is that really answered in the text? Should the heading be something else?
- The editor-in chief question never gets answered really until you look at the 'correct answers' which may create confusion about there being one.
- Statistics get out of date very quickly; consider making them more general.
- The grey box's heading should likely read either After reading "Welcome to Wikipedia"... or After reading this brochure... or similar.
- The talk page link in the top-right no longer contains the word "My" - just say "Talk page".
- Very few people will come into this brochure thinking "One of my goals is to describe the attributes of a quality article" - keep it relevant to what the reader wants!
- Pages 4–5
- I'm a bit unsure about this text "Most people who participate in making Wikipedia better find that it is both an entertaining and rewarding exercise. While the social aspect of working toward a goal is fun, most active users are driven by their passion to distribute free knowledge to the world." Are most users driven by passion of free knowledge? I find that most are driven by writing about their hobbies and have found a platform where they may share what they know, but the aspect of growing and maintaining that hobby is what I find to be the utmost motivation, and that the free knowledge is a second most important motivation perhaps. That might of course differ, so the point being that it sounds a bit un-nuanced. I may of course have missed a study that shows that free knowledge is what utmost drives most Wikipedians to contribute? The sentence of working towards a goal is fun sounds as if that is how to think about it, but I'm sure people would differ in that view as well so perhaps it's better to just leave that out?
- In the first "question box" it says the brochure is called a reference guide, is it called that somewhere else? Is that the common name for an item like this?
- page 4: I suppose this is addressing WPians' motivations, but that doesn't seem necessary for someone who is reading this brochure. :)
- A user account allows you to create an article? That's not really true.. Which it says both in the text and by Sara. And then a few sentences down, its total opposite is written where it says that you can write without an account. Perhaps not mention that one needs an account to write an article in the first paragraph and stated by Sara? It feels like one is contradicting oneself.
- In the create an account page it all of a sudden starts mentioning biased in editing, should that be there? It seems as an overload of information about varied things. It's not keeping it simple.
- First it tells you about creating an account, and then secondly showing the interface where you can find out where you need to click to make an account. Is that the correct order? In the page of creating an account it says in the bottom about where to click. It says how to add something to the watch list but should surely then beforehand say how to make the account? It just looks illogical to me. If you read it top-down you have to first read through about watch list and then how to make your account. How many would then go back to reading again the text about watch list?
- Create an account page is too detailed.
- Pages 6–7
- Show an article page rather than the main page, so we have a page with an edit button. After all, the point of this brochure is to get people to edit. Showing them the edit button is a good start.
- In the "try it!" box on page 7 it talks about viewing the history tab and seeing timestamps, IP addresses and possible comments for contributors. When I've had workshops most people see a big blur of things that they do not understand until you clearly point it out. So if you're pointing something like that out, an image of a history page is necessary. People do not know what they're seeing I find as it's all very new to them.
- Pages 8–9
- I would let people know that the roles on page 8 are largely informal, especially because "maintainer" seems to me to suggest OWNership. If you keep the quiz format, I would definitely drop the reinforcement of that on page 9. If Sara tells English Wikipedia that she is a Formatter, English Wikipedia will say, "What?" :)
- In the page of roles, Sara is talking about something which to me is totally unrelated. Why is that?
- user page info. Pages 9 and 10 seem to cover a lot of material that doesn't necessarily go together (right after My talk, it talks about the article talk page. Sort of hides in there)
- The part about User page and Talk page might become outdated soon as we introduce the new profile, and talk system, but they are necessary.
- The "try it!" box on page 9 seems unnecessary. Are those role established on enWP? As in, you would say I am X role? If such is the case, it's understandable, if not, it does not make any sense to have people repeat that type of information. I thought that the importance of the roles was to see that one can do various things, not that they have specific names.
- You call it "my talk page" on page 9 but then go on to simply stating "my talk" on page 10. Small things like that can be very confusing when it's all new to a person and might lead to wonder if you are referring to the same thing.
- Although those are good descriptions of various roles that users can undertake, the writing makes it sound like those are formal positions into which one gets pigeonholed. I think it's important to convey more clearly that they are simply fluid roles that anyone can step into, and step out of, at any time.
- Pages 10–11
- I find 'Life of an article' a bit text-centric, and might be more suitable as an advanced topic.
- The "try it!" box on page 10 about editing your own page should perhaps come after the text about one's own page rather than the text about one's own talk page.
- In the life of an article, page 11, at least on Swedish WP you need at least two credible sources to not have your stub deleted. One sounds to me as not being enough.
- life of an article: very text heavy. Perhaps could give an example instead of writing about what it could look like. Maybe show snapshots of 2 or 3 different stages of a real article (or the top of it, so you can see the lead and ToC)
- I would add "reliable" on page 11: "and a reliable source outside Wikipedia...." It would reinforce the parenthetical comment.
- Pages 12–13
- On page 12, "only experts can add much value to it" is uncomfortable language for me, although I like that you're trying to caution people about overhauling FAs. You don't have to be an expert to note that Obama has just done something major, for instance, and we really devalue the concept of "expert" on Wikipedia, where a physicist has no more authority on a physics article than a 10 year old. It's down to the sources and the content. I would probably look for another way to express that.
- Page 13 *may* be overly detailed.
- The "try it!" box on page 13 has a question that is not possible to answer before having read page 14. Should that be the case?
- The current content for "What makes a quality article?" currently gives the apparent answer: Structure, Content, Community. It seems weird to lump community into that. Instead, the elements of a quality article from "Evaluating Wikipedia" are probably a better way to break it down.
- Pages 14–15
- On page 14, what is the difference between a writer and an editor? Why use both in that last sentence of the page?
- Again on page 15 I would argue that at least 2 credible sources should be used. But perhaps enWP is different.
- On page 14, isn't it worth explaining that all contributions to Wikipedia are Shared Alike under CC BY-SA? and also mentioning the license and linking to it for people to know how they are freely licensing their collective work to the public?
- Pages 16–17
- Ditch the "Create a book" feature.
- Create a book? should that be emphasized? Maybe we should do something on mobile instead (showing a mobile version, shout out to Wikipedia Zero or something?)
- Creating a book should go.
- Pages 18-19
- The "after reading Welcome to WP" and "now you've read Welcome to WP" seem pretty redundant. Something like that is great to cover in the beginning to get someone to read in the first place, but I don't think it's necessary for the end.
- Back cover
- Add your comments here.
What is missing from current brochure edit
- Community culture/roles
- Who the admins are, and what they actually do.
- Userpage privacy precautions. I would warn people that content on their userpages is public and they should not share more than they want the world to know. People used to Facebook privacy settings may not understand that going in.
- What the community is. A short definition that's inclusive.
- Where do I go when I get stuck or need help?
- What do I do if I'm being treated badly or flamed? What can I do about others behaving badly?
- emphasize discussion pages as well as article history?
- culture-specific content I would encounter, specifically on user pages, like: what are barnstars, what are user boxes, what are babel boxes.
- And it might be nice to give newbies a heads up about the community, you know, why there's a need for a rule like "don't bite the newcomers." I was so scared of the community that, when I was about to make my first edit, I was so afraid of doing it wrong, that I didn't make the edit, instead I posted a question about how to post the content on article talk page. My very first introduction to the community was a message on my user page scolding me for not signing my question correctly (I hadn't used 4 tildes). It wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy, and if I hadn't been warned to expect it, I might not have come back after that.
- How to edit? Is there any way to link to the "Introduction" and have it translated for different languages?
- The basics of the Notifications interface, and the use of Mentions and user talk pages to communicate with other users.
- The basic usage of wikicode and the VisualEditor. For wikicode, perhaps an view of a page of wikitext where all the content is blurred out and only the wikicode is clear, with callouts labeling each element of wikicode. This way, we can cover article structure and formatting at the same time.
- How to add information with a reference
- in addition to changing the 'user interface' to cover a page with an edit button, it could be useful to have a whole page/spread on talk pages. Maybe with information similar to the helpful handout LiAnna created.
- watchlists? I think this is a feature a lot of newbies don't use, but it's maybe more important to explain the watchlist (how it can benefit you and how on earth other editors know when you make an edit to "one of their pages") than to explain the 'My contributions', if we had to pick and choose.
- writing in sandboxes and how to MOVE a sandbox into the article namespace. It's so easy, so it seems like it could be a small thing to cover, though I know our students in particular never do it that way but copy and paste everything instead.
- It might be worth mentioning what autoconfirm is.
- And at this point, it might be smart to say that there are 2 different editing interfaces now: visual and wikitext.
- what is a good source?
- how/when/why in-line citations and references
- More information about citations and references would be helpful (what to cite and how to cite).
- Maybe a mention of and a link to the manual of style? Or at the very least tell people to use "quotes" if they directly quote and not just copy and paste without attribution (that's plagiarism).
- It might be good to mention COI by NPOV.
- It might be good to list out the 5 pillars.
- Would it be helpful in the printed version to include any QR codes for them to scan with a smartphone to read more or to read later?
Your thoughts on the character (Sara) edit
- Although I have no objection on Sara's character in specific, I would personally prefer more gender-culture-race neutral character. Puzzly could be a good example.
- I can see value in adding a human face as a stand-in for the reader, but I'm not a huge fan myself. If you remove her, you need another visual element for these pages. If you retain her, I'm not sure about firmly grounding her culturally as by giving her a name. Give her brown eyes, and she can even be more culturally nondistinct. From a design standpoint, there are some issues with the way she's being used, I think. Our eye is drawn to follow people. In multiple places, she is facing directly forward, which I would imagine would be fine, but in some her body is angled away from the content. She does a good job on page 18, where she is reaching towards the text.
- I like her!
- I'd prefer to use a more gender- and culture-neutral character (or none at all), although it's not that big of a deal. I don't think much of the actual Sara assets; I like that she kind of looks like Sue, but there's a bit of uncanny valley going on for me because some elements of her various faces are more stylized than others.
- I'm ambivalent. I think she basically looks like Sue. Maybe having a variety of voices (real like the username video or imagined characters).
- other considerations might be international distribution and localization. Saudi's won't want an uncovered female necessarily (they remove them from IKEA catalogues for instance).
- she's fine. I'm not IN LOVE WITH HER or anything, but if others like her, that's fine. It does sort of remind me of "Clippy" or whatever his name was in Microsoft Office.
Other comments not mentioned above edit
- The red color for the background a bit disturbing.
- I think integrating it with actual snapshots or mockups of the web interface would be useful. There seems to be a divide between the info provided in the brochure and how one experiences Wikipedia. This is a challenge because Wikipedia is, well, kind of ugly, and a brochure should be attractive.
- I miss information about the sisterprojects. For me wikipedia wasn't my thing until I discoverd wikiversity: less rules, you can ask questions. More my cup of tea. I can imagine that beginners like wikiversity more then wikipedia.