Turning members into editors

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It has been amazing how the number of members we have has grown. It has gotten hard to keep track of all of the new members!

Yet, the online TMS community is fairly small, so this sort of growth can't go on forever. If we want for the TMS Wiki to reach it's potential sooner rather than later, then we need to find a way to turn the members that we have into editors.

This should be something that we can achieve. Currently we have 6 members* who have taken the time to sign up for an account already, but haven't yet participated in any discussion threads (you can see a list of all active discussion threads from the "Discussion Forum" tab near the top of every page) or made any page edits. Several of them probably intend to help out, but just haven't gotten to it yet. The question is, how do we let the rest of them know that their contributions are valued and encourage them to participate in the community?

  • As of this writing, we also have other 2 members who are Wetpaint staff and haven't participated and 7 other members who have participated in some way.

Technical hurdles

One thing that probably scares people away is the technology involved. How can we help people feel more comfortable with editing?

Forest has been putting a lot of effort into making the "Helping Out" section of the website better and more inviting. If you haven't seen it in a while, you may want to check it out. What could we do to make it better?

How much of a factor do you think intimidation with the technology is in preventing people from starting to edit?

Not wanting to step on people's toes by editing their work

Part of the nature of a wiki is that every editor wants their work to be improved upon by future editors. How do we communicate this fact to new editors? ForestForTrees adds, "I personally am thrilled whenever anyone changes anything I've written, because they can probably see something I don't see and are therefore probably making it better."

Wikipedia has an official policy that Editors should feel free to "Be Bold." Maybe we should come up with some language to add to our pages for editors to communicate this. We can also use the following image, but we need to mention that it is a modified version of a Wikipedia graphic (but we need to give credit):

An image of Be Bold In Updating pages

The vast majority of the pages on this wiki are supposed to reflect the consensus of all editors who are interested in that page. On the other hand, people may feel more comfortable updating pages that they think of as "theirs" and that only need to reflect their own opinions. A new feature of this website is that users may create their own pages in an area known as "User pages." To read more about this, visit User pages.

Any other ideas?

Not knowing the master plan

Some users may hesitate to edit a page because they don't feel like they have a good idea of the "master plan" for the wiki and they don't want to do anything wrong. One approach to this problem would be to make a "master plan" page, but it would be hard to make that page short, and most users probably wouldn't want to read it. Another approach might be to broadcast that "there is no master plan."

What do people think?

Reaching out to individual new members

[Others To Contribute|Wetpaint offers a bunch of tips about how to encourage members to contribute]. One thing that they mention [Participation|over and over] is the importance of welcoming new members. Some great ways to do that are:

  • [a New Thread|Post a hello thread] on their [/accountSearch/all?sort=joinDate profile page] (at this point, it isn't clear whether they are automatically notified when this happens, so you may want to [a message] instead).
  • Send a Wetpaint "compliment." To read about how to do this, [here.]
  • Send a Wetpaint "[[1]] request."
  • Encourage them to post a profile picture. Let them know that the picture doesn't have to be of them and that it is easy to find pictures by searching for them on http://images.google.com/. (Should we make a tutorial on how to do this? Nontechnical users may not know how to download an image from Google Images). The Top contributors box over on the left of every page (if you don't see it, it might be closed... ask Forest how to open it) highlights new members, so they will get to see themselves over there and will hopefully feel more part of the community.

Encourage them to set goals

Perhaps we could encourage new members to set some sort of modest goal for contributing to the wiki. The goal could be incredibly modest, such as:

  • Click the EasyEdit button on some page, play around for a little while, and press Cancel, to familiarize yourself with editing.
  • Add a watch the video tutorial on adding links and then add a single link to the Internet Resources page.
  • Whatever they think is interesting and important.

We could even make some sort of event around it, encouraging all users to make some sort of goal for what they want to do on the wiki during the month of February (who couldn't commit to doing the first goal, above, in the entire month of February?)

When to edit this particular page

This page is designed to reflect the consensus of the editors participating in the discussion. If you would like to change something and doubt that anyone will object, feel free to go ahead and change it. (This, of course, includes the stuff that ForestForTrees wrote!) If an editor objects to the change, they can suggest a compromise in the threads below. If you would like to change something but suspect that people will object, it is best to bring it up in the threads first. Maybe people will like it after all.

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