Wiki Life: Sensitivity in Editing Guru Entries

The monthly Guru competition is a beauty to behold.  A work of genius. The competition encourages new authors, higher quality contributions whilst washing your whites whiter. 

The Acorn Metaphor

There is a confidence curve with new authors who are attracted to the Wiki in this way.
In time these little acorns can grow into mighty oaks.
Saplings are good but it’s the mature trees which are particularly valuable to the community.

The thing any gardener can tell you about growing plants is they need particular care whilst they establish themselves.
Our new Wiki authors are like these seedlings.

Not so much with giant slugs eating anyone, more with the sensitivity.
These new authors are particularly sensitive. They need careful handling and encouragement.

Encouraging them to give it a go is great, but we want them to stick around and post loads of super articles.


The Dual Nature of an Entry / Article

All articles posted on the Wiki are the property of the community.
That’s where there’s the potential for issues to arise.

Someone spends days writing a competition entry.
It’s only natural they consider it to be theirs – they wrote the thing after all.

That tendency is particularly reinforced if their motivation is the fame and fortune from winning a lovely Guru medal.

"MMmmmmmm shiny medal !"

Where was I now, oh yes. They see their article as their competition entry.  Their hopes of glory are riding on that thing.

Any change to their article is likely to be viewed  as negative.  People can be very competitive and if they aren't used to usual practices on the Wiki then they probably won't expect anyone to change their entry.


This is where you come in. You can keep an eye out for these new authors.
Maybe encourage them with a comment.

If you see the odd thing which they could possibly improve maybe give them a nudge in that direction.
Particular sensitivity is advisable though.

If you see areas you could improve on, it’s usually great if you dive in and edit.
Sharing and synergy is what the Wiki’s about.



The newbie is likely to see editing their entry as stepping on their toes. 
That’s not so great for encouraging people.

Try to take it particularly easy on the new guys.
It is of course possible to imagine an article so utterly broken that nobody could possibly see your efforts as anything but positive. 

Anything short of totally broken is probably best left until after the judging is done.

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Comments (12)
  1. "MMmmmmmm shiny medal !"

  2. You’re right. Thanks from a newbie.

  3. Andy ONeill says:

    I like metaphors.
    I did consider going with a fishing one. Wait until the hook is well in before you haul em in…. Make sure the mesh of the net is big enough you only catch mature fish…. that kind of thing.

    I realise some people are fine with others editing their entries and maybe little edits are sort of "safer".
    Maybe explaining your intention and what you’re doing helps.
    Some will get confused by any edit though and I wanted to encourage people to think about that a bit.
    Yep, maybe they’re over sensitive, maybe they should learn.
    Given time and encouragement most will.

    Thanks for the comments.
    A particular thanks to Peter Geelen for fixing some glitches and some great suggestions.
    Those links are great.

    Is there a list of recommended tags anywhere?
    And why they exist.
    As someone who is pretty new myself that’s something is also a bit confusing and of course if the newbie gets them "right" there’s less need for clear up later and another source of confusion/editing obviated.

    Whilst discussing this with Peter on IM we both typed the same idea at once.
    If there isn’t one then we could do with adding a tag:
    Guru Entry
    If there is, then we could do with the tags publicised.

    I’ve "gone on" a bit. Longer than I had in mind.

  4. I love the acorn metaphor. Thanks, Andy!

  5. Hey Andy, this is a good article, however i don’t mind if someone edits my article as i know they are adding value to it. I do agree though with Ed Price that bigger changes should be communicated but cleanups of tables or adding in tags etc, shouldn’t
    be a problem at all.

  6. Saeid Hasani says:

    Very helpful post!
    We have to help all new authors, as others did for us one day!
    Thanks Andy!

  7. Regarding editing a newbie’s article, you can also use the comments to direct them toward big changes. You can also offer to make some edits, such as a grammar pass. I often see writers requesting help when you engage with them.

    I think it’s fine to help with little edits, but it’s best to advise the big ones (like missing sections, tables, code snippets, images), at least until after the judging.


  8. To help newbies : there are a series of posts on this blog that guide you on authoring Wiki Articles:

  9. Shanky_621 says:

    Awesome Andy…Thanks for bringing the Sensitivity

Comments are closed.

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