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Turning Readers into Editors

Did you know that the majority of Wikia's views come from readers, meaning people who don't click the edit button or even have a Wikia account? Clicking that edit button for the first time can be daunting—your contribution will immediately be available to the entire world—but there are ways that we all can help break the barrier between reader and editor.

One of those ways is the recently-launched Wikia University, a quickly digestible source of how-to information for Wikia—including how to make your first contribution. Wikia is also always hard at work making sure our interface is the best it can be, by finding how people interact with Wikia and lowering barriers for entry. But there’s a great deal that local communities can do as well in order to be as welcoming as possible, and lower some of the social barriers.

  • Rethink your time as a new editor. What were your first steps as a new editor? What was helpful for you, and what kinds of edits did you make early on? Think about what worked for you and how daunting it may have felt the first time you edited. You never want to make the mistake of forgetting your roots; we were all new to editing once. Remembering your first edits will help you begin to understand how other people can start editing.
  • Assume good faith. Just because someone is making an anonymous edit doesn't mean that they're a vandal. Anonymous editing can be a great way for people to make a few edits and test out the site before deciding whether or not they want to become more active. Anonymous editors can also be passersby who just want to correct a typo or add a piece of information they found. An anonymous editor even corrected one of my typos!

Build bridges with new contributors to help them navigate the Wikia waters.

  • Provide ideas for what to do. Guiding people towards finding the right information to add or the right content to change can be a good way of letting people know that their contributions will be welcomed. Encourage them to be bold. For example, for some topics, you could have a list of pages that the wikia needs, or pages that need more information or a quick spell check. Simple edits can feel very rewarding and leave people feeling satisfied enough to keep going.
  • Make your community feel welcoming. The look and feel of a wikia is very important. Good designs can be the difference between someone thinking you have a great community or one that doesn't look worth their effort. You also want to foster a welcoming and collaborative atmosphere, where good faith contributions from everyone are valued. Don't add a lot warning templates or other big notices on your pages, or else people will think that they can't edit there.
  • Be active. One of the best ways to get people active is to show activity. You want to show people that there are active forum discussions, blogs, pages, and more, and you can display activity feeds on your main page. That way, people have an idea about where they can start contributing.

Ultimately, not everyone is going to become an editor or have a Wikia account. More people prefer reading to editing, but following steps like these can help at least some people overcome that barrier. If readers feel welcome and know where they can help, then you have done your job in getting more people to click that edit button.

What are some ways that you've worked to turn readers into editors? Let's talk about it in the comments!

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