Wikipedia:WikiProject Editor Retention

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Wikipedia:WER)

WP:RETENTION: These editors are willing to lend a helping hand. Just ask!

WikiProject Editor Retention aims to retain Wikipedians. Editors are as important as content. Without editors, there are no contributions. Without contributions, the encyclopedia grows stagnant. Editor retention is the concern and proactive effort of retaining contributors.

We aim to do the following: discuss patterns of behavior or processes that discourage editors, guide editors to optimal venues for having their questions answered or disputes resolved, and create projects to provide support and recognize editors. Policies are not decided here, but are discussed, hoping to find solutions that are specifically geared toward retaining editors. Since some of the topics are controversial and contentious, we ask that editors strive for civility in their participation in discussions and projects here.

Editing Goals

  1. Stay calm and maintain a professional demeanor. Patience is key.
  2. Avoid conflict, even when you know you are right. Give other editors the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Assume good faith toward your collaborating editors, if not their edits. Assuming good faith is not intended to be self-destructive, but to avoid conflict.
  4. Ignore attacks. Not easily done, but a real timesaver. Attacks and counter-attacks are hazardous to your mental health. The best and most frequently offered administrative advice is to move on, and, if absolutely necessary, return the next day.
  5. Don't take it personally. Editors make mistakes. Communicating our thoughts is not easily done on the Internet.
  6. Don't isolate your interpretation. There are many interpretations other than yours. What you read might NOT be what was meant.
  7. Don't think of editing as a competition. WE are cohorts, collaborating to improve our thing.
  8. Don't edit when angry or upset. Stay off the article and talk page in question. Never let your anger or frustration be the deciding factor in your behavior.
  9. Don't forget the human dimension of Wikipedia editing. Keep things in perspective. There is a real, living and breathing, sensitive human on the other side of the discussion.
Novem Linguae
Editor of the Week
for the week beginning December 3, 2023
His dedicated and excellent work is known by many. As an NPP reviewer and co-ordinator, a valued content creator and writer of many useful scripts and many software patches on Twinkle and the (ever-ailing) PageTriage. Has over 14,000 edits to Wikipedia mainspace along with numerous important contributions to the encyclopedia.
Recognized for
writing many useful userspace essays
Submit a nomination


Editor retention is a Wikipedia-wide problem. This WikiProject aims to build a stronger Wikipedia for the future, a Wikipedia in which editors want to work and participate, rather than pointing fingers or making accusations at one another. Pointing out the positive actions of administrators and others is encouraged, as we believe the best way to lead is by example. We want to point out what is RIGHT about Wikipedia, encourage others to use those methods, and establish new methods and ideas that make editing Wikipedia enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding for everyone.

Spreading awareness

Supporting editors

  • Sign up as a Teahouse host, and participate in one or more of the following activities:
  • answer questions on the Teahouse Q&A board
  • send templated invitations to new editors listed on the Teahouse invitee report (it's refreshed daily!) Don't be shy about emailing people too; email + talk page invite works better than a template alone. And personalizing the invitation with an introduction or a "good job with your edits to the article FOO" is likely to have an even more positive impact. Currently, most of these editors are not being invited to the Teahouse.
  • post a welcoming message on the talk pages of editors who have recently introduced themselves on the Teahouse guests page. Currently, most of these are not being welcomed, even after they introduce themselves.
  • Sign up as a volunteer at the Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard, a venue where small content disputes can be resolved as well as a gateway to other more consequential venues. Be involved with the Dispute resolution process. Early mediation of problems prevents blocks and protracted edit wars which disrupt Wikipedia and helps keep things civil.
  • Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle is an optional method of reaching consensus. Our edits can and will be changed by others ...even this one. Interact with editors in a manner that encourages editing and improving the encyclopedia while using your experience and knowledge to teach and lead by example.
  • Cool down aggressive conversation if it begins in your presence. Be an advocate of collaboration. Of course, the challenge is not to become adversarial yourself. If a situation occurs and you feel administrative intervention is required, editors can create a post on a number of noticeboards such as Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents. You can discuss issues that affect administrators at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard (however, most editors are expected to make some attempt to work it out themselves before going there, and without evidence of this attempt, most such postings will be rejected before they are given full administrative consideration).

Recognizing editors

Working within the project

Project Goals

A part of increasing retention of editors at Wikipedia is to encourage new editors to continue editing in a positive and constructive manner. We therefore encourage you to:

  • Greet and help new editors: stop and help them when you know they may be stuck, misguided, incorrect or just stumbling, but continue to encourage interaction if/ when you get a less than thankful response
  • Advise and encourage new editors to learn how to be a Wikipedia editor before they are discouraged by some early pitfall
  • Patrol Special:Log/newusers to identify newer users who already have made contributions and put a Welcome Template on their talk page along with s a personal note telling them to feel free to contact you if they have a question
  • Scan "Recent changes" searching for either new editors to welcome or situations to which you feel you can contribute from a "retention viewpoint"; soften the blow of speedy deletions, etc.

Even experienced editors can get discouraged, and we should always consider ways to retain those who have been here awhile. Many editors become semi-retired or just stop editing without declaring so for various reasons, some of them more obvious than others. With regard to them, our project goals are to:

  • Establish methods for use to prevent editor loss, such as promotion of the project and its suggestions
  • Encourage departed editors to return. Even many retired editors will watch their user talkpage for passing comments, so consider leaving an encouraging, personally written comment and suggest an edit they might be interested in making
  • Promote a more positive environment in which editors will want to participate
  • Review Wikipedia:WikiProject_Editor_Retention/FA_editors_list to find Featured Article (WP:FA) contributors who appear to have stopped contributing recently-- perhaps by contacting them you can encourage them to return to editing. WP:Good will lead you to Good Article (GA) contributors.
  • Document ways in which all editors can achieve these goals and organize them within the project's subpages
  • Sign up and participate with the various Help Projects located through Wikipedia:Help Project. This project is undergoing substantial reorganizing to make it easier for editors to find the appropriate help,[when?] especially in high traffic areas where applicable, such as WikiProject Directory. Feel free to contribute to that project.

Reasons editors leave

Reasons editors leave[edit]

Not all reasons that editors leave can be "fixed", as many simply move onto other interests or have lifestyle changes that limit their participation. This list focuses on the reasons that can be addressed at Wikipedia. These problems, in no particular order, are within the scope of this project. Feel free to modify.

Negative behavior of other editors
  • Interaction with biased, reckless editors with POV issues
  • Ownership of articles by one or more editors
  • Uninformed but relentless 'Randy in Boise'-type editing, with WP:OWN regularly cited to justify it, leaving editors to watch their work deteriorate
  • Civil point of view promotion
  • Tendentious editing. For articles that lack a significant following, it is difficult to find enough editors (particularly in a way that avoids accusations of canvassing) to establish a consensus. If a problematic editor does not respond to reasoned argument, time can be wasted trying to build a greater understanding but with no net result. Tendentious editors can ignore Wikipedia's bold, revert, discuss cycle and re-introduce their problematic edits; in cases where they are not amenable to dispute resolution mechanisms, there is no clear way to resolve the content dispute, and their edits become fixed in place.
  • Sockpuppeting causing insurmountable obstacles to editing enjoyment
  • Edit warring from other editors
  • Personal attacks, accusations, incivility, and wikihounding, with the targets often discouraged from speaking out in case they are blamed
  • Outing of personal, off-site information
  • Perceptions of an anti-social atmosphere within a clique
  • Regular templating of user talk pages
Negative pressures from the wider community
  • Deletion, threatened deletion, and the ubiquitous tagging of articles ("nag tags")
  • Frustration caused by the plethora of policies and guidelines
  • Poor dispute-resolution processes
  • Too many editors who focus on dispute-resolution discussions (AN/I, RfC, RfAr), as opposed to content creation; their involvement can cause requests for dispute resolution to become bogged-down and protracted
  • Experience of peer review processes as confrontational and hierarchical rather than collaborative
  • Claims that long-term editors are "vested contributors" in a negative sense, which suggests that the project has no respect for experienced volunteers
  • Lack of a supportive community
  • Creating an account only results in negative feedback, easier to edit without an account
Pressures related to admins or admin actions
  • Frustration caused by bad blocks, threats of blocks, or other administrative actions, particularly against long-term editors
  • Regular attacks on administrators both as individuals and as a group, leaving them unwilling to deal with anything contentious, which in turn leaves editors to cope with disruption without support
  • Permanence and indelibility of the block record. Admins make bad blocks. Once an editor has a block record s/he is obliged to sport it in perpetuity. Blocks do not expire from the record, and they cannot be removed from it.
  • Failure to defend high-quality work, leaving it to deteriorate over time
  • Difficulty attracting or retaining expertise
  • Experienced editors leave because others do, leading to a deterioration in the quality of discourse, which in turn dissuades potentially serious editors from joining.
Personal feelings
  • Boredom
  • Exhaustion of patience
  • Lack of recognition of contributions, or negative feedback for time spent editing in good faith
  • Attempts to fight an addiction to editing
Wider perceptions
  • Perception that Wikipedia has been used for political or monetary gain (e.g. the SOPA initiative, Russian trolls, and the paid editing/advocacy/COI debates)
  • Perception that the Wikimedia Foundation focuses more on bringing in new editors, than on finding ways to encourage experienced editors
  • Perception that involvement in Wikipedia is pointless: a bottomless pit
  • Frustration that poor BLP editing continues to cause problems for living people

More data on this issue is available from the Former Contributors Survey Results.

Some information can be gleaned by looking in the retired editors list at the final edit summaries retired users left

Damage to the editorial climate

Things causing damage to the editorial climate[edit]

  • Tags that are more BITEY than necessary.
See Wikipedia talk:First contact#un-intentionally biting a New Editor for an example.
  • Having a generally constant but limiting "We are Adversaries" mindset rather than a habitual far-reaching "We are Collaborators" mindset.
One is a closing. The other, an opening.
  • Choosing words that degrade or attack the other editor or his edits vs. taking the time to realize the fragile nature of the novice editor.
  • Forgetting that conversation is the natural way that humans think when they are together and that, at times, it can get messy.
  • Sarcasm.
Sarcasm rarely works in real life. It is certainly out of place here. It leads to confusion, hurtfulness and trouble, even when tagged as sarcasm. It is an aggressive, dishonest form of communication.
  • Alienation through use of aggressive idiolects or slang.
Highly personalized or slangy writing styles are fine for friendly chats but not when debating serious issues with other editors, for whom such productions, which are not even amenable to machine translation, may turn out to be effectively more obscure than a different language.
  • The interplay between (1) our affirmative and prompt deletion of certain types of articles (copyvio, unref BLP, attack, etc.) and (2) the complete lack of guidance to new article creators of those critical requirements before or during the article creation process.
The combination of these two factors is the moral equivalent of a 20-foot pit lined with punji sticks. We can cover the punji stakes, but the problems remains; the pit, the lack of warning signage, and the stakes themselves. Please read Attractive nuisance doctrine. Suggestion; Since we are unlikely to give up the punji sticks (the copyvio deletions, etc), we put up a "sign" i.e., give new editors instructions in our policies before they create an article.
  • Most times the new editor is concerned only with the article. But, the experienced editor is more concerned with the encyclopedia.
The new user holds the article and his edits and his word choices as precious and can't bear to see them changed. They have great pride in their work and saving it becomes a mission. They need to be reminded that editing is not just a matter of deciding what to include. It's more a matter of what NOT to include. Because they misunderstand this fact, they see experienced editors as having a "cruel hand".
  • Not enough praise for a new editor's hard work. Sorry to say but some veteran editors think new editors are clueless noobs with a burr under their saddles.
Everyone likes to be appreciated. When the new editor feels attacked instead, sparks start to fly and somebody gets burned (usually the new editor).

Project Tasks

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Article requests : Start a project "style guide"
  • Cleanup : Check all lists and bullet points for stale proposals, pages, etc.
  • Infobox : Create a Project Infobox
  • Maintain : Maintenance of the Discussions section. Update listed discussion and archive stale discussions.
  • Map : Create an Index.
  • Merge : Merge relevant content.
  • Photo : Create an Image Gallery

Discussions & Links


  • Create an easy-to-understand essay for requesting unblocks
  • Reward established editors that might not be noticed otherwise via Wikipedia's Editor of the Week

Current working groups

Other areas of the project

Why do editors leave?

Identifying editors who have left, or who are at risk of leaving


Main Talkpage discussion

Current discussions

Current discussions
General discussion
List of current sub-discussions
Administrator retention
Comments by editors as they retire
Reasons editors leave
Wikipedia:First contact Essay

Peripheral links suggested by editors

General research process ('Incubation')[edit]

  • Planning: Defining goals and methods
  • Action: Implementing the plan
  • Tracking: Quantitatively determining degree of success


External links[edit]