Welcome Wagons
by makrhod and rentier



The welcome wagon idea can be traced back to 1999. At that time only a few branches had them but others were prepared to follow.
sthenbelle put it very nicely when proposing a Welcome Wagon for Regional:

"As we know, many new editors either suffer from sensory overload when they first come to the forums or they do not even notice the forums in the welcome package. On top of that, many are simply lost in the guidelines.
This is what I would like to propose:

As the project grows we really need to embrace new editors and work with them from the beginning. Granted, some editors will not respond and will not return the embrace but this should increase editorial activity and at least give new editors a human point of contact from the beginning."

Many years have passed since then, several types of welcome wagon have been developed, and there are many different ways of setting up and driving one. In some cases they are managed by a group of editors, and in other branches a single editor may have the responsibility. Similarly, not all welcome wagons involve writing a letter, or maybe the letter is sent individually rather than to the group.

The following suggestions are offered as a guide to help those uncertain about how to proceed.

1. Getting started
If there is already a working welcome wagon in your area of expertise, ask if you can join and help. For example you could post a friendly welcome, or answer a new editor's questions in the thread. If you already have some editing experience, maybe you can help the welcome wagon leader to send feedback to new editors.

2. Setting up a new welcome wagon

a) Finding new editors

1. Go to the Category Log (on the right side of your dashboard under "Tools for Editors") enter the name of your branch and choose "New Editor Log" from the drop-down menu.
2. The resulting page lists new editors and the categories they edit.

b) Posting their names and categories in the forum
1. Use (or create) a thread in the appropriate branch forum (Business, Health, etc.) for welcoming new editors and answering their first questions. Suggestions for titles : "Welcome Wagon", "Welcome Wagon and Category Checks", or "Welcome New Editors".
2. Consider making a "Sticky" post at the top of the thread to contain the most important information for editing in this particular branch. e.g. Links to templates, branch-specific guidelines, maybe even a sample category (such as a well built town with good descriptions and titles in Regional.)
3. At chosen intervals, post a welcome message in that thread with the names and categories copied from the New Editor log. The frequency will depend on numbers: you can do it on a weekly or monthly basis or as soon as you get a new editor for the branch.

3. Sending welcome letters to new editors

a) Writing to them
1. Click on one of the editor names in the New Editor Log and select "Send to editor" from the profile.
2. Copy and paste all the other editor names into the "To" box, separating them with a space.
3. Complete the rest as desired (see below for suggested message) and send.

b) Suggestions for all welcome letters
1. Invitation to the Welcome Wagon forum thread. "You will see your name is already posted in this thread. Please drop in and say hello to the other (Branch) Editors."

2. Invitation to ask questions. "Most questions about the basics of editing should be asked in the New Editors forum, but questions about a specific category or branch procedure are best asked in the (Branch) forum. "

3. Branch guidelines. "It's important that you understand what URLs are listed in the (Branch) categories and how they are listed. You should study the (Branch) description. There are also many helpful resources to be found in Test/Branch."

4. Further encouragement to ask questions. "Never be afraid to ask a question! We are all here to help, and you have a lot to learn about the ODP system, as well as editing, so don't get frustrated. It will take a few weeks for the smoke to clear and then it will start to make sense.
I cannot say this too often : if you do not understand how to do something - please ask someone ! You can ask me, ask a meta or editall, post your question in the forums, or send feedback to one of the editors higher up in the same area as yourself."

5. Possible postscript to head off a common concern. "One of the top FAQ by new editors is "Why don't my edits show up on the public side?"
Answer: ODP uses at least 3 different data bases, for editors, for the public and for search. The most current is the Editors data base, which is close to live and real-time. The Public data base updates on a sporadic basis : some pages will update almost immediately and some will wait for weeks (you can see the update date at the bottom of the public page.) The least updated is the search data base. It can be months out of date (and sometimes works erratically.)
So, whatever you see in the editor database is current and will someday move into the other two databases."

6. Closing welcome. "We look forward to seeing you in the forums :-)"

7. Identification. "My name is xxxx and I edit under the name xxxx".

c) Existing templates (some are out of date):
Arts
Health
Recreation
Regional
Business
Kids and Teens

If you would like to set up a new welcome wagon for your branch, or if have some ideas, suggestions or experiences to share with others about this topic, you are welcome to post in the brand new thread at http://forums.dmoz.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=912480.

 

- makrhod and rentier

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