Guided tours and Wikidata: How to explain a complex project and encourage new editors
- Jens Ohlig
- 9. August 2014
The following is a contribution by Bene*, admin and bureaucrat on Wikidata and author of the guided tours on Wikidata. He explains the motovation behind guided tours and how they can attract new editors to the Wikidata community:
Wikidata is no longer a brand new project but still a lot of people do not really know what it actually does. This makes it hard for new editors to get involved with the project and become active contributors. We realized that something had to change; that we had to make things easier to understand and take our newbies by the hand.
When it comes to planning how to help new editors, a first approach is typically to create help pages for individual topics. However, these pages are often very long and do not do a good job of explaining concepts beyond their theoretical context. Another way to explain things is to create illustrative presentations including slideshows. Unfortunately, the users still only get the theory and have to make the leap from reading to actually editing on their own. Keeping all this in mind, we decided that we needed a format that is integrated with the editing interface of Wikidata and gives users the opportunity to edit content through a series of practical exercises.
In fact, this is exactly what the GuidedTour extension does. It provides a way to create presentations, or rather interactive tutorials, in which the user can actually complete a set of actions. One great use case of Guided Tours is the Wikipedia Adventure. However, for Wikidata we needed something different because the item editing interface shares very little in common with a standard wiki page. The pages contain more buttons and small text fields because an item does not simply consist of text but stores structured data instead. Therefore, we adjusted the guided tours to our needs and added an overlay feature to highlight single design elements. We also made the tours translatable as Wikidata is a multilingual project. If you are interested in the result just try it out for yourself: there are currently two Wikidata tours available—one on items, and one on statements.
As you can see from the usage statistics, the work was well worth the effort. Since the release on 11th July more than 150 users have taken the first tour and more than 100 went on to complete the second one. This shows the impact our tours have had and the great need for them. It was lots of fun to create and implement the interactive tutorials but there is still a lot of work to do. New tours are being worked on and the existing ones are also in need of translations. If you have any ideas for new tours or improvements to the existing ones, just add your comments to the coordination page. You might also want to help translate the released tours (which is just like translating any wiki page). You can translate the existing tutorials about items and about statements.
A note from Lydia (Wikidata’s product manager): Thank you so much to Bene* (Wikidata community developer) and Helen (Free Software Outreach Program for Women intern with Wikimedia) who have worked together over the past weeks to make these first guided tours a reality. It’s great to see us making progress towards making Wikidata easier to use every single day.