Sunday, December 05, 2010

Welcome to #Wikipedia

We'll have newbies for breakfast and lunch... what is for dinner? Seems to sum up the welcome given to new Wikipedians. Particularly the bigger projects are infamous for the "we know best because we are here longer" mentality.

It certainly proves that we as Wikipedians are not good Christians because otherwise we would have learned that Jezus did not like the practices of the Pharisees and also that what you do for the least of us, you do for Jezus.

So what can we do to welcome our newbies in our ranks. To start off, we can let them be bold and have them introduce themselves. Best practices at translatewiki.net has them identify their language ability and ask for translator rights. This is extremely valuable because it establishes that they understand English. We use the Babel extension for this and it establishes in what language a person can communicate in. It does not require templates so it is particularly beneficial for the small and new communities.

Many Wikipedias have projects dedicated to subjects. It would be nice when people can identify their interests. This allows people with compatible interests to take the newbies under their wings and protect them from the worst abuse.

Finally, we can add value for being a Wikimedian. As the Wikimedia Foundation is a five hundred pound gorilla and unlike with Facebook and Google our users are not the product so it would be a gift when we can like Facebook and Google identify ourselves as Wikimedians.

I would be happy to be identified as a Wikipedian and I would love to learn any argument why a Facebook or a Google would not accept such credentials. By establishing an identity anchored in the Free content world, the merits of our ways will rub off on anyone new to us and this may prove strategic in realising our aims for the next five years.
Thanks,
      GerardM
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