Do you edit Wikipedia? Thank the person who welcomed you

The Board of the Wikimedia Foundation published a Resolution on Openness. In short, quantitative studies show that new editors are joining Wikipedia and related projects slower than they used to, and the Board decided that this is the most important challenge that the Foundation must deal with in the near future.

One of the things that the Foundation is doing is to appeal to the community and ask to be more open towards new editors. I agree with this and pass this message on: Please, if you are one of the veteran editors of Wikipedia, remind yourself every once in a while not to bite the newcomers. Don’t just coldly tell them that they’re wrong, delete their contribution or block them. Maybe their contribution should be deleted, because it’s really bad, but please bother to explain it to them and don’t just send them a template message. Read chapter 31 of “Catch-22” to get an idea on the damage that template messages do. Bite a newcomer and he will never come back. This newcomer may be an elementary school kid who has nothing better to do than adding bad jokes to Wikipedia, but it may also be a university professor who has knowledge about topics that nobody else knows. If you scare off that professor, he won’t come back and Wikipedia will not have any information about these topics for a long time, and possibly forever.

Just remember that the Wikimedia community is supposed to be easy to penetrate, not hard. Some other communities are even harder to penetrate, but it’s their loss. That’s one thing we don’t want to be. That’s the meaning of wiki.

And another thing. Remember that “welcome” message you received after you made your first edit in Wikipedia? Send a thank-you note to the user who sent it to you. Even if you already thanked that user in the past and even if that user retired from Wikipedia. Even if instead of a welcome message that user sent you a copyright violation notice – that happened to me and i am nevertheless thankful to that user, simply because he was polite about it. Send that user a thank-you note, now. Tell him about your achievements since then; tell him what was good about that welcome message; if he retired since then, tell him that you hope that he will come back. It will mean a lot to that user and it will mean a lot to you – it will remind you that that welcome message was more than just a template. It was the thing that made you part of the biggest community of people in history – the Wikimedia family.


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