Monday, February 28, 2011

Giving context to a friend in a social network

In #Wikipedia the call to be nice to newbies is an old one. The arguments for and against are pretty much well established and, these positions do not move. With a decline in the number of editors that stay with us, a different approach is sought.

When people make their first edit, they may be new to our community but chances are that they have friends who are well established. These friends are the most likely people willing to help when the first steps by a newbie are a bit wobbly. The trick is to engage these friends and to do that, it helps when a social network enables us to signal them.

It is really efficient to have social relations deal with the mess people make when they are new. Social control coming from friends is more appreciated then the templated instructions coming from someone who flies by. When someone is known to have social relations, the modus operandi of the people checking new articles can change; in stead of barking to the newbie they yell for a friend.

Wikipedia so far does not consider its role as a social network but it already is. People are invited to IRC for help, people establish wiki relations in social networks, they can be found on mailing lists. These relations while real are informal and cannot yet be leveraged.

When a social network is established for our context we have gained an approach to the newbies that come to us as friends.

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