Wikipedia:New editor feedback

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Part of general editor engagement efforts, the experimental new editor feedback features are designed to make it easy for new users to report their frustrations and experiences regarding editing Wikipedia:

  • The "MoodBar" appears after a newly registered editor has clicked "edit" for the first time. It appears as a "Feedback about editing" link in the top left corner.
  • Located at Special:FeedbackDashboard, Feedback Dashboard allows anyone to filter and review these comments. Responses can be made in-place. A guide for how best to reply to new editors is available, as are stats.

Rationale: By surfacing new editors' problems and frustrations ("I don't know how to make a new page"), it becomes possible to see emerging themes (the most common problems) and focus on them, and it opens a new venue for directly seeking out promising new editors who experience difficulties with their first edits.

Reporting bugs or issues

These features are still experimental. Please report any bugs or issues you encounter in Bugzilla or on the talk page.

Response team

If you'd like to help respond to new editors via the Feedback Dashboard, you are welcome to join the response team.

You may wish to add the feedback responder userbox to your user page. To do so, add {{User feedback responder}} or {{User FeedbackDashboard responder}} to your userpage. They look like this, respectively:

FBD-Assets-Emoticon-Happy.png This user gives a helping hand to new editors at the Feedback Dashboard.



Chat bubbles.svg This user helps answer posts on the feedback dashboard.


You may also wish to add the feedback responder topicon to your user page. To do so, add {{Feedback topicon}}.

Responding to new editor feedback

Please note that the range of new editor experiences is wide. You'll find feedback from people with different backgrounds in terms of age, cultural background, English as a first vs. second language, etc. Clearly, some of the comments are pure noise, and not all of the people reporting frustration should become regular contributors. However, because these are feedback comments, not edits, one also shouldn't draw too many conclusions from the style in which they are written, spelling/grammar issues, etc.

How to respond to feedback

Important stuff to remember

  • Acronyms like WP:V or NPOV confuse new people, so try not to use them a lot. If you don't want to type the full name, try it like this: [[WP:NPOV|neutrality]]
  • Many new editors find talk pages confusing. If you offer to answer questions further, specify where. If you will watch their talk page, tell them they can reply there. If you say your talk page, provide a link to it directly, not just in your signature.
  • The Help Desk is a good link to give, especially if you may not be available to answer more detailed questions.

Tactics

There are three different tactics you can use when responding to feedback:

  • Cherry Picking (Choosing a few feedbacks that ask for specific help and giving detailed and helpful guidance)
  • Blanket Response (Responding to large numbers of users quickly, to say thank you for the feedback and give generic encouragement)
  • The Cherry-Blanket Combo

It may be supposed that the Cherry Picking tactic is more helpful than the Blanket Response tactic, whereas in fact both are needed. Only about 20% of feedbacks actually get any response at all, and by giving a blanket response it helps users feel valued and that somebody has paid attention to their feedback and contribution (if they have made one). The Blanket Response tactic also puts a high volume of new users' talk pages on your watch list which can be useful for follow up and more detailed encouragement, support and mentoring later.

One Feedback Dashboard barnstar recipient prefers the Cherry-Blanket Combo which combines both approaches and involves just working methodically through un-responded to feedback starting with both recent first.

Step by step guide

  1. Go to Special:FeedbackDashboard
  2. Use the Filters section to 'Show unanswered'. If employing the Cherry picking tactic, you may wish to un-tick happy responses. If employing the Blanket Response tactic, you might tick only happy. Click Set filters.
Blanket Response Tactic
  1. Choose the most recent feedback that does not ask for specific help, or complain. e.g. "It was fun", "Thanks", "Hi"
  2. Right click on the 'contribs' link and check what contributions the user has made, if any.
    1. If user has made no contributions, add this feedback.
    2. If the user has made a good contribution, add this feedback along with a short note naming one of the articles they have edited and specifically thanking them for that edit.
    3. If the user has made a poor contribution that is not clearly vandalism, leave the same note as above, but with some constructive feedback on how to improve their edits. Remember though, the focus is on encouragement. If possible, clean up their edit for them and explain what you have done.
    4. If the user has made an edit that is clearly deliberate vandalism (e.g. 'I like boobs'), revert the edit and politely warn the user. See WP:Van. Sometimes users will write comments like this as their feedback, which normally indicates that they have already vandalized an article. If it is not really clear whether an edit is deliberate vandalism, or just a really poor edit, assume it is a poor edit.
  3. Keep an eye on your watch list to provide help and encouragement on the users' talk page if required later e.g. if one of their edits is reverted. You may be need to support the new user in the face of unfriendly and/or over zealous editing and feedback from a minority of unsupportive editors when the user is still learning how to make good edits. You might also learn something from particularly friendly and helpful editors too!
Cherry Picking Tactic
  1. Choose the most recent feedback that looks like it needs a more detailed response (see Common Issues below).
  2. Right click on the 'contribs' link and check what contributions the user has made. Take a look at the articles and their history.
  3. Where a user may have experimented on a live page, or made a poor edit, do what you can to tidy up the contribution.
    1. Note: where possible, maintain the user's edit and do what you can to add a sensible reference, tidy up its formatting etc.
    2. Explain to the user how you have improved their edit in a polite and supportive way so that they can copy next time.
    3. Always thank the user for their contribution and in most cases encourage them to try again even if you do have to revert the edit. Users should not be thanked for deliberate vandalism.
  4. Check the user's talk page to see if they have already had a response from other editors, perhaps to an edit they have attempted to make.
  5. Write your response following the guide lines on this page and others. Always try to encourage the new user, and try to foster positive relationships between them and the regular editors of articles that they may be interested in. Be prepared to provide help and support on a longer term if needed.
  6. Keep an eye on your watch list to provide help and encouragement on the users' talk page if required later e.g. if one of their edits is reverted. You may be need to support the new user in the face of unfriendly and/or over zealous editing and feedback from a minority of unsupportive editors when the user is still learning how to make good edits. You might also learn something from particularly friendly and helpful editors too!

Cheatsheet of helpful links

  • [[Special:Mypage/sandbox|your sandbox]] – gives the user a link to his/her personal sandbox
  • Help Desk
  • The Help Pages

For administrators

Administrators can hide feedback from view or delete it. Deleted feedback can't be undeleted. These functions should only be used to suppress copyright violations or blatantly abusive content such as vandalism or spam. Be sure to mention the feedback if you warn the editor.

Template Responses

While we should personalize responsible as much as possible, it may still be handy to have text ready for some common issues new users encounter. This is an area to collect those tips. (The content of any of these pages can be copied using the {{subst:page name}} syntax.)


Common issues

This section provides advice on how to handle common issues.

Confused: Help adding images

Adding images to Wikipedia is a common struggle from a technical perspective, not even considering the copyright minefield that it often entails. Even if you have never added an image yourself, you can help users who struggle with this by simply sending them one of the following templates or an adapted version:

These templates have been tested and proven to be extremely helpful and even earn their users a Barnstar, even when the Feedback-Responder has no idea how to add images themselves!

Sad: Contribution reverted

One of the 5 pillars of Wikipedia encourages users to Be Bold in making edits and not worry about making mistakes. Yet for many new editors, the first item on their talk page is a notice that their very first attempt at editing, normally a minor change, has been reverted by established editors, often with very critical comments and links to multiple very long policies. For new users, these established editors represent Wikipedia as a whole; they assume Wikipedia does not want their edits and they give up and leave.

In the feedback response team, its our job to support new editors through this process and hopefully encourage established page editors to be more supportive along the way. Here's a few points to bear in mind as you do so:

  • Be Confident, polite, encouraging and supportive to everybody involved. The common goal is a better Wikipedia.
  • Try to forge positive relationships between established editors and new editors; pass on the role of mentoring new editors to established editors in their area of interest.
  • Often new user's edits are poor and should not remain in their current form in the article. They need to be encouraged not to feel bad about that but to keep trying and keep improving.
  • Writing content for articles isn't for everybody, but there are lots of other jobs to do in Wikipedia.
  • New users do need to be bold and encouraged not to worry about making mistakes. Established page editors may need to be reminded of this.
  • Many established editors aren't aware of the feedback dashboard, its goals and reason for existence. Do what you can to explain if you encounter resistance to your encouragement of experimental new users who may be viewed as vandals.
  • Where possible, poor edits should not be reverted. Instead they should be improved. If, for example, a new user has an edit reverted because it lacked a reference and you can easily find a reference you should add the reference yourself, then explain what you have done to both the contributor and the reverter. Politely and supportively encourage both parties to add the reference themselves next time.

Sad: Page marked for deletion/deleted

Happy: "I enjoyed vandalizing Wikipedia!"

Wikipedia already has excellent guidance on vandalism which you should read when you have spare time. Pay particular attention to the section on what is not vandalism. In particular, number one on that list (bold editing) should be strongly encouraged by all Wikipedia editors, and the Feedback Response team has a particular responsibility in this area.

Poor edits made in good faith should be handled very differently to deliberate vandalism and page editors who incorrectly label new users as vandals should be politely reminded of this. A vandalism warning on a new users page should always be investigated before conclusions are drawn.

If I'm sure it's vandalism

Vandals will often self-identify themselves to the Feedback Response team with rude or silly feedback, often with a Happy mood icon. Whether they self identify or not, any obviously deliberate vandalism should be reverted, and a polite warning given as the response.

Vandals can make positive edits!

Many vandals are on Wikipedia to cause trouble and should be dealt with as above. But what do you do with a user who makes a positive contribution one day, then the next gets bored and vandalizes a page? This tends to be younger users who with a little encouragement could mature into really valuable members of the community. They should be dealt with using normal vandalism procedures, but at the same time should be given a little extra support and direction in making positive edits as well.

See also