Wikipedia talk:Teahouse

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This page is where experienced editors discuss how to keep the Teahouse running smoothly. If you have a question about how Wikipedia works or need help with editing, please click here to go to the Teahouse Q&A forum.

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Asking Guests to provide the name of the page they're asking about[edit]

As ColinFine said, "It continually puzzles me why people asking for help here so often avoid actually telling us what article they are talking about, so that we have to go and look for it.". Should we add a line about this to either the top of the Teahouse, or to the Editnotice? Maybe something like "If you're asking a question about a specific article, please link to the article so others can see what you're talking about." ? rchard2scout (talk) 09:58, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

Yes. Worth trying. There is an edit notice to that effect on the HelpDesk. --David Biddulph (talk) 11:40, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
We shouldn't make it onerous for them to ask questions, but inviting them to tell us if they want answers relating to a desktop or mobile, plus which editing tool they prefer to use would avoid a lot of second-guessing. Nick Moyes (talk) 15:09, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

I've copied the editnotice to my sandbox and added a line about it. If you like it, I'll add the proper editrequest to have an admin change the editnotice. (pinging @David Biddulph, Tigraan, and Nick Moyes) -- rchard2scout (talk) 14:19, 15 October 2018 (UTC)

  • Looks fine to me, but honestly, I think we should have one first and tweak the wording later if it proves incorrect/misleading/offputting. TigraanClick here to contact me 15:00, 15 October 2018 (UTC)

I'm afraid the current notice doesn't function properly - it takes one round in circles. They're already at the editing window and about to type in their question when they're being told to hit the "Ask a Question" button. That no longer functions and was removed ages ago, so this instruction is redundant. I've played with Rchard2scout sandbox version, and suggest the following:

Any thoughts on that? Nick Moyes (talk) 10:56, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

I like that version a lot better! I was already worried a little about the circular "Ask a question" link, but I didn't want to change that without discussion first. I'm in favor of your new version. rchard2scout (talk) 12:17, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

New template[edit]

FYI, User:Zackmann08 has worked up Template:Request edit/new, which newer editors can use to request edits in cases where they don't have a COI, but are not comfortable implementing an edit themselves. GMGtalk 17:50, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

You can also do {{Request edit|n}} or {{Request edit|new}} --Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 17:57, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

Red link[edit]

How do I create a red link? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Valmiki (Ramayana) (talkcontribs) 16:44, 9 October 2018 (UTC)

This page is for discussing the operation of the Teahouse, and is not the Teahouse itself. Please go to the main Teahouse page to ask your question(where you asked your first question). Thanks 331dot (talk) 16:46, 9 October 2018 (UTC)


In WP:Teahouse/Questions/Archive_844#DJ_Slick_stuart_and_DJ_Roja, Baba Blacq Sheep suggests that 331dot's and my replies, though accurate, are "turnoffy". 331dot said "Articles need to be written in a neutral point of view and can't have promotional opinions; they need to read as very dull", while I said "Wikipedia has no interest at all in what you (or I, or any random person on the internet) knows, or thinks or believes about the subject of an article. None."

I see BBS's point, and would like to discuss this further. I think here is a better place than on the TH itself. I know that I sometimes get frustrated at seeing the same misunderstandings over and over again, and sometimes I communicate out of that frustration. But at the same time, my experience is that unless you say it in quite stark terms, then new editors don't think you really mean it.

Comments? --ColinFine (talk) 17:03, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

Hmm. Well, on the first comment, our goal is Wikipedia:Brilliant Prose, which suggests that "very dull" is a non-goal.
On the second, I think that it might seem less personal if you quoted a policy and provided some empathy, perhaps something like

"I can see why that would seem like a good idea, but it's not what we call encyclopedic tone. The policy also says that 'Editors, while naturally having their own points of view, should strive in good faith to provide complete information, and not to promote one particular point of view over another'. This means that even if you think that the subject is wonderful (or horrible), you need to write the article so that it provides basic facts, rather than information about how wonderful the subject is. It's really quite different from writing a review or blog post, and it can take a while to get the hang of it."

I don't think that even a "perfect" message will always make people happy. To some extent, "understanding the policy" (your goal) will result in people being unhappy (because their goals are anti-policy).
A few years back, I read about a study on cancer doctors and communication. The better the patients understood their medical situation, the worse they said their doctors were at communicating. So if the patient is actually dying, but the doctor doesn't puncture the family's delusion that total recovery will begin any day now, then the doctor is a "good communicator". But if the person is dying and knows it, then the doctor is a "bad communicator" (according to the patient). We don't want to be told "no", and if you tell us no, we will blame your communication skills. You only have good communication skills if you tell us what we want to hear.
Also, have you tried telling people to think about old-fashioned encyclopedias? I like to believe that thinking about the heavy volumes from the school library, or reading a link to a professionally edited encyclopedia article might help people make sense of the tone/style questions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:01, 12 October 2018 (UTC)
@ColinFine: In my rather limited 12 months here, I have found myself frustrated with people on occasions (mostly through no fault of their own, and often down to my long hours at the keyboard/phone), and I do try to spot if I'm about to bite their heads off and change my style of response. I do think our approach as Teahouse Hosts should always be to be as encouraging, enthusiastic, understanding and welcoming as possible - at least at first -and then to be blunter later if the message isn't getting through. (I used to work in a public building where the invigilating staff were constantly moaning at the public for being unable to find there way around, when the reality was that our signage was totally cr*p, and was the cause of most misunderstandings.) I hadn't seen your and 331dot's original response, but (to be blunt), it did surprise me because, yes, saying that what we should write should be "very dull" was very turnoffy in that instance. But that's not typical of either of your normally helpful responses here, and I know you didn't really mean it in the way it came across. What I'm sure you meant was that we need to write content that is neutral in tone, informative, concise, interesting, independent and helpful. Encyclopaedic, even! If, in so doing, our content can also be a pleasure to read, then I'd say we are creating the perfect encyclopaedia. Maybe the Teahouse needs to create some helpful examples of good, bad and indifferent content to demonstrate what we mean in various circumstances? I certainly think we don't help new editors to ask the right questions in the right way, and that the design and layout of the Teahouse header and support page links needs an overhaul. That said, there are times when I do put myself in the shoes of the questioner when I see some responses here, and I do worry that we're sometimes jumping down their throats a little too bluntly - almost aggressively. But on the whole my sense is that the only real 'turnoffy' responses come from those new host/contributors here who haven't picked up the normal way of helping people - but these rather sharp contributors often don't stick around more than a week or two, or contribute very often. Being gently brought to task from time to time about how others might interpret how we engage or what we say can only be of benefit to all of us.
I would also add that you were absolutely right to bring the discussion here. I found myself recently being criticised for being too forgiving of a brand new editor that one experienced user (who doesn't normally frequent the Teahouse) suggested was a spammer, whereas I felt they were being genuine, albeit a little naive on how we do things. Defending my position in that forum would, I felt, have been detrimental to tone of the Teahouse, and wouldn't have helped the questioner any further. Rather than being a safe place for spammers, I try to think of the Teahouse as a safe place for editors to share their mistakes, to learn and to be helped to correct those errors, and I'm sure you do too. Nick Moyes (talk) 02:09, 16 October 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for the replies, people. They have mostly concerned 331dot's comments about style, rather than my comments about independence. --ColinFine (talk) 16:07, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

Research on you[edit]

The m:Research Showcase on 17 October 2018 is about m:Research:Teahouse group dynamics, and the way Teahouse hosts respond differently to two different kinds of "rules" (written rules vs what you see other editors doing). The presentation will be recorded, and there are links on the Research Showcase page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:03, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

Question archive button[edit]

The big box at the top of the questions page has a button to go to the questions archive. This lands at an archive index page which is not getting updated. Can the button be removed? RudolfRed (talk) 16:02, 16 October 2018 (UTC)

A page to help communities to interact with newcomers[edit]

Hello Hosts

I'm working with the Wikimedia Foundation's Growth team.

To help communities to work with newcomers, I've created a page listing advice on how to interact with newcomers. This page gathers the advice from the English Teahouse's Expectations, but also from the very active "Forum des nouveaux" on French Wikipedia and other resources from websites where anyone can ask questions.

The purpose of this page is to provide a simple list of tips —in simple enough English to have it translated— for communities wishing to improve their interactions with new contributors. We want those wikis to benefit the experience from already experienced wikis.

Please read the page and share your comments!

Thanks, Trizek (WMF) (talk) 13:48, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

Today I learned you can't disable the visual editor on media wiki, and it's super annoying. GMGtalk 13:56, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
You actually can. :) HTH, Trizek (WMF) (talk) 14:06, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
I dunno, seems to work for me... --AntiCompositeNumber (talk) 14:07, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Phew. Much better. Of all the questions I've ever answered at the Teahouse, the ones I'm categorically unqualified for are those asking about visual editor. GMGtalk 14:08, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Side question: would you be interested by a workshop in order to discover how VE works? Trizek (WMF) (talk) 14:40, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
I would be very interested in a video tutorial explaining it, especially one that I can link others to (but I've been harping on about getting official video tutorials for years now). GMGtalk 14:45, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Video tutorials are truly needed. There are text tutorials and Manual of Style articles. But a video step by step instruction would be so helpful. The wiki community wants new editors and maintain editors but at a point of frustration people just leave. Having an edit reverted is frustrating but if an editor could find a tutorial explaining how to correct his error without being talked down to would be so helpful. It's easy to criticize but someone with skills I don't have would need to lead up such a big project. Eschoryii (talk) 00:10, 19 October 2018 (UTC)

Munninbot back up and running[edit]

I just made some Muninnbot maintenance, including a move to Gitlab. OK, none cares, but it means that you can report bugs and ask for features using the issue tracker (a post to my TP works as well). Notifications of thread archivals should resume on a more regular basis, now that I fixed a nasty bug that stopped notifications from working for 10 days after every revdelling of an edit.

Please tell me if you notice anything odd in the notification process (it should not have changed, but anything you touch the code, something can happen). TigraanClick here to contact me 14:13, 20 October 2018 (UTC)