What Quiddity said.

If we're talking about impact on (good faith) new editors, yes, it's
complicated but the bulk of the evidence points to certain kinds of
welcomes[1][2] being effective at driving retention (every little bit
helps), and others having no effect at all, and maybe a few approaches
actively turning some people off. Has something to do with the form of the
welcome (giant walls of links are probably not very helpful, and may be
intimidating), the purpose of the welcome (is this a general "hey there" or
an invitation to read or participate in something that might be useful
and/or engaging to the intended recipient?) and the timing of the welcome
(new editors give up quickly; often the welcome or offer of support comes
too late).

If we're talking about the impact on experienced editors who have never
edited on that particular wiki... I've received these kinds of messages on
wikis I haven't edited, but viewed while logged in. I don't see the problem
here from a spam standpoint. Calling this harm may be a stretch?

However, I agree with Jonathan's argument that this may constitute a
privacy violation—but if the welcome bot is pulling from a public log to
send these welcomes (as it must be), then the potential privacy violation
occurs regardless of whether a welcome is sent, and the fix, if deemed
necessary, needs to happen upstream.

Regardless, has anyone asked Meno25 if they are willing and able to update
the bot to distinguish between locally vs SUL-created accounts? Or offered
to help do so? They have been willing to make changes
in the past. It sounds like that would fix the issue that prompted this

- Jonathan

2. Boreum Choi, Kira Alexander, Robert E. Kraut, and John M. Levine. 2010.
Socialization tactics in wikipedia and their effects. In *Proceedings of
the 2010 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work* (CSCW '10).
ACM, New York, NY, USA, 107-116. DOI:

On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 2:53 PM, quiddity <pandiculat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Dec 30, 2017 at 8:08 AM, John Erling Blad <jeb...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > As I recall, communication with newcomers by templates was found to be a
> > negative factor.
> >
> The results from past research are Not easy to summarize, and
> definitely not that simple, because of all the varying factors in both
> the templates and the research projects.
> E.g. message-length/-linkcount/-tone/-formatting (all of which slowly
> change over the years), the reason/timing for receiving a welcome
> (account-creation, first-edit, random edit, time-after-event), whether
> anything else was communicated around the same time (e.g. additional
> warning templates) on the same page or elsewhere, whether the welcome
> was personalized at all, what username it was signed with (a human
> name in my language, a funny avatar name, a generic bot-name, etc),
> etc -- all of which can be different (subtly or significantly) at
> every project and every instance).
> Some relevant links include:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:New_editor_
> welcome_wishlist#Results_and_discussion
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template_A/B_testing/
> Results#Welcome_messages
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Rhetoric_of_the_welcome_message
> but there are many more formal and informal attempts to understand and
> improve it all (from Enwiki's Teahouse initiatives, to all the
> scattered multilingual template_talk and wikiproject discussions (from
> Q6137590, to all the topic-specific wikiprojects)).
> TL;DR: Onboarding is complicated.
> Many people are helped by welcome messages.
> Many welcome messages are (or were) imperfect (too
> long/dense/formal/informal/irrelevant/technical/etc).
> I do not know if there is any specific research that focuses purely on
> the timing (whether it is best to send at account-creation, after
> first-edit, after human-review of an edit, whilst the user is
> logged-in or offline, etc), but I agree it might be useful.
> Here are some of the other research projects that look at welcome
> templates as one of the factors, but not the primary focus,
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:New_user_help_
> requests/Full_report
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Ignored_period_and_retention
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Framing_Support_for_Newcomers
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Alternative_
> lifecycles_of_new_users
> Lastly, regarding the specific instance of Arwiki
> - it's better than nothing, because some people will Not edit until
> given some encouragement, and some people like to read the rules
> before they start something.
> - It would be good if the bot could distinguish between
> accounts-made-locally (i.e. likely to be able to read Arabic) vs
> accounts-attached-via-Single-User-Login (and to only send those latter
> accounts a welcome message, after they've made 1 edit locally). I
> don't know if that is currently possible or feasible.
> Quiddity
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Jonathan T. Morgan
Senior Design Researcher
Wikimedia Foundation
User:Jmorgan (WMF) <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jmorgan_(WMF)>
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