One of the great strengths of Wikipedia is that community members can employ the same tool used to write the encyclopedia – a wiki – for collaborating on documentation about the project. The downside of this approach is that these pages, written by encyclopedists, tend to be broad and extremely detailed. New contributors to Wikipedia face a daunting list of thousands of help pages, policies, guidelines, and best practices that have developed over our 12-year history.
Today, we’re happy to announce interactive guided tours, a new software feature that will enable Wikipedia editors and readers to learn about the project in a way that is much easier to digest. Wiki-based documentation can now be complemented by concise, step-by-step instructions presented via tooltips. Instead of simply describing a process, we can show you how to complete it yourself, and when you’ve seen enough, you can dismiss a tour instantaneously.
Our team, editor engagement experiments, has built two Wikipedia tours to go along with today’s launch. First, a meta-tour to show community members how they operate, and second, a tour associated with our experimental “getting started” workflow, which helps people who’ve just registered make their first edit to the encyclopedia. You can see the test tour for yourself, right now.
Today’s release is just the first step toward experimenting with guided tours. We hope that in the weeks to come, we can find more areas of the encyclopedia where these tours can provide simplicity and clarity to the process of learning how to contribute to Wikipedia.
Steven Walling, Associate Product Manager