Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers

It's never nice to bite newbies. Always be nice, welcoming and helpful to new editors.

Wikipedia articles are improved through the hard work of both regular editors and newcomers. Remember: all of us were new editors at Wikipedia once, and in some ways (such as when editing an article on a topic outside our usual scope) even the most experienced among us are still newcomers.

New members are prospective contributors and are therefore Wikipedia's most valuable resource. We must treat newcomers with kindness and patience—nothing scares potentially valuable contributors away faster than hostility. It is very unlikely for a newcomer to be completely familiar with Wikipedia's markup language and its myriad of policies, guidelines, and community standards when they start editing. Even the most experienced editors may need a gentle reminder from time to time.

Please do not bite the newcomers

  • Understand that newcomers are both necessary for and valuable to the community. By helping newcomers, we can increase the range of knowledge, perspectives, and ideas on Wikipedia, thereby preserving its neutrality and integrity as a resource and ultimately increasing its value. In fact, it has been found that newcomers are responsible for adding the majority of lasting content to Wikipedia (i.e., substantive edits); while insiders and administrators are responsible for a large bulk of total edits, these often involve tweaking, reverting, and rearranging content.[1]
  • Remember, our motto and our invitation to the newcomer is be bold. We have a set of rules, standards, and traditions, but they must not be applied in such a way as to thwart the efforts of newcomers who take that invitation at face value. A newcomer brings a wealth of ideas, creativity and experience from other areas that, current rules and standards aside, have the potential to better our community and Wikipedia as a whole. It may be that the rules and standards need revising or expanding; perhaps what the newcomer is doing "wrong" may ultimately improve Wikipedia. Observe for a while and, if necessary, ask what the newcomer is trying to achieve before concluding that their efforts are wanting or that they are simply "wrong".
  • If a newcomer seems to have made a small mistake (e.g., forgetting to put book titles in italics), try to correct it yourself, but do not slam the newcomer. A gentle note at their user page explaining the Wikipedia standard and how to achieve it in the future may prove helpful, as they may be unfamiliar with the norm or merely how to achieve it. Remember, this is a place where anyone may edit and therefore it is each person's responsibility to edit and complement, rather than to criticize or supervise others. If you use bad manners or curse at newcomers, they may decide not to contribute to the encyclopedia again.
  • A newcomer may save a tentative first draft to see if they are even allowed to start an article, with plans to expand it if there is no backlash. If, within a few minutes, the article is plastered with cleanup tags, assessed as "stub" or even suggested for deletion, they may give up. It is better to wait a few days to see how a harmless article evolves than to rush to criticize.
  • If you feel that you must say something to a newcomer about a mistake, please do so in a constructive and respectful manner. Begin by introducing yourself with a greeting on the user's talk page to let them know that they are welcome here, and present your corrections calmly and as a peer. If possible, point out things that they've done correctly or well.
  • Remind newcomers that their edit histories are usually saved, both at the article page history and a list of user contributions associated with their user name or IP address if still unregistered. When their edits are reverted, they may panic, start an edit war, or leave Wikipedia entirely, mistakenly assuming that hours of work have been irretrievably deleted. Please gently let newcomers know that their work can usually be retrieved from the history. Inform them that they are able to negotiate with other editors on talk pages. If all else fails, they can request undeletion of the articles that they have edited.
  • Newcomers may be hesitant to make changes, especially major ones, such as NPOV-ing and moving, due to fear of damaging Wikipedia (or of offending other Wikipedians and being flamed or being blocked). Teach them to be bold.
  • While it is fine to point a new user who has made a mistake towards the relevant policy pages, it is both unreasonable and unfriendly to suggest that they stop taking part in votes, Articles for Deletion discussions, etc., until they "gain more experience." This both discourages new editors and deprives Wikipedia of much-needed insights.
  • When giving advice, tone down the rhetoric a few notches from the usual Wikipedia norm. Make the newcomer feel genuinely welcome, not as though they must win your approval in order to be granted membership into an exclusive club. Any new domain of concentrated, special-purpose human activity has its own specialized structures, which take time to learn (and which benefit from periodic re-examination and revision).
  • Do not call newcomers disparaging names such as "sockpuppet" or "meatpuppet." You can point them to those policies if there is valid cause to do so. For example, if a disproportionate number of newcomers show up on one side of a vote, you should make them feel welcome while explaining that their votes may be disregarded if it violates basic policies regarding content. No name-calling is necessary. Similarly, think hard before calling a newcomer a single-purpose account. Besides, it is discouraged to label any editor with such invidious titles during a dispute (see Wikipedia:Don't call a spade a spade).
  • Sometimes users forget to use four tildes after talk page posts. You can make the reminder process easier and less annoying by using the following two templates. In the meantime, you can use {{unsigned}} to fix those anonymous comments.
  • There are some times when users add in new discussions to talk pages, despite the discussions already being ongoing. Often, the newcomers wouldn't be aware that there has already been a discussion on the topic, even if it is very recent, so please guide them with it.
  • Assume good faith on the part of newcomers. They most likely want to help out. Give them a chance!
  • Experience or associated privileges from it shouldn't be misguidedly interpreted as a means for default acquiescence from other members and no Wikipedian is above any other Wikipedian. Some actions might appear to a newcomer as not;[clarification needed] editors who exercise these privileges should provide unambiguous clarity as to why, based on policies – this is a sign of a responsible editor.
  • Remember Hanlon's Razor. Behavior that appears malicious might be from ignorance of our expectations and rules. Even if you are 100% sure that someone is a worthless, no-good Internet troll, vandal, or worse, conduct yourself as if they are not. Remember that the apparent test editors have the potential to be tomorrow's editors. By giving a polite, honest and noncondemning answer to newcomers, you have the opportunity to teach them Wikipedia policy. By being calm, interested, and respectful, you do credit to your dignity, and to our project.
  • It is polite to point out to newcomers little details about editing on Wikipedia, such as the fact that one can sign one's name on userpages by leaving four of the tilde symbols (~), or pointing out that a wikilink can be achieved by putting double square brackets around a word or phrase.
  • Remember that you too were once a newcomer. Treat others as you were treated (or, perhaps, wish you had been treated) when you first arrived.
  • Remember: "Don't bite, do what's right. Being a friend is all right."
Other Languages
Basa Banyumasan: Wikipedia:Aja diwedéni
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Вікіпэдыя:Не чапляйцеся да пачаткоўцаў
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Wikipedia:Budite ljubazni prema novim korisnicima