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Submissions/Is Two the Magic Number?: The Co-op and New Editor Engagement through Mentorship

This has been marked as a Withdrawn submission for Wikimania 2015 because it has been withdrawn by its submitter. The submitter is invited to consider trying again next year.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Is Two the Magic Number?: The Co-op and New Editor Engagement through Mentorship
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
I JethroBT (Christopher J. Schilling), with assistance from Gabrielm199 and Soni
E-mail address
I JethroBT
Country of origin
United States
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
The Co-op: en:Wikipedia:Co-op
Userpage: en:User:I JethroBT
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
One way to describe the state of finding help when editing Wikipedia can be expressed by the glib statement, figure it out yourself. While much about editing can be learned independently, it is natural to want to talk to someone when faced with problems while editing. The Co-op is an experimental mentorship space where newer editors (learners) are matched with experienced editors (mentors) as a means to facilitate learning and to help newer editors accomplish their editing goals. In this presentation, I will discuss the current state of existing help spaces on the English Wikipedia (e.g. Articles for Creation, The Wikipedia Adventure, The Teahouse), the structure of The Co-op, the data collected and outcomes from our pilot, and future directions for helping and retaining newer editors.
Our research on existing help spaces and why they are used has given us insight into the needs of newer editors and provided guidance in The Co-op's design. Newer editors appear to be generally uncertain about how to participate and are concerned that, in one participant's words, they will "mess things up." Sometimes motivation for using a help space was characterized by an interest in learning to do more than just simple text edits to article content, such as adding images and understanding how guidelines and policies work in practice. Surprisingly, even after using existing help spaces, many editors continued to feel intimidated by elements such as conventions related to talking to other editors.
Based on our research, The Co-op was designed with four main principles in mind:
  1. The mentorship space requires a friendly and accessible interface.
  2. Learners should not need to seek out available mentors on their own.
  3. Mentorship should be framed around the learner's needs and goals.
  4. Mentors and learners should have sustained interactions, but mentorship should not be a huge commitment.
The Co-op will be piloted for a period of one (1) month. Over the course of that month, we will allow a sample of approximately 50 editors to enter into mentorships with about 25 available mentors. During the month, we will be following-up with learners once their mentorships are complete using surveys and interviews in addition to collecting quantitative information related to their editing behavior to answer the following questions:
  • How well does The Co-op work? (e.g. are editors being reverted less after using the Co-op?)
  • What predicts how well The Co-op works for particular editors? (e.g. satisfaction with mentor)
  • Why do learners seek out and continue mentorship? (e.g. What kind of help are editors seeking?)
  • What features appear to work best in help spaces? (e.g. How are editors using other help spaces?)
The Co-op and its related research is funded by an Individual Engagement Grant.
WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
45 minutes desired; 30 minutes acceptable.
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Our midpoint report details the development of our space and some of our early research findings that will be featured in our presentation. The pilot for The Co-op begins on 4 March 2015. We are providing monthly updates about the development of the space.
Special requests

Interested attendees

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  1. Jim Carter (talk) 13:27, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. --MadScientistX11 (talk) 13:44, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Rosiestep (talk) 14:09, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. TeriEmbrey 16:15, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Harej (talk) 19:14, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 23:54, 26 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Theonesean (talk) 01:25, 27 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Adamw (talk) 01:27, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 03:25, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  10. CT Cooper · talk 21:34, 2 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Missionedit (talk) 01:17, 8 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 06:34, 23 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  13. DannyH (WMF) (talk) 22:00, 24 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]