What are the steps of a JoiningScript for wiki communities?

See Also

The SuggestedWikiRoleModel (of which this could be a small part).

A taxonomy of roles, Social Roles in Electronic Communities quote:

“Communities are complex social structures that change and grow over time, as a result of the behavior of their constituent members. This behavior is not random, however. Each individual has a set of social skills, privileges and responsibilities within the community that describes his or her behavior. This behavioral repertoire is called a role.” by Scott A. Golder, MIT Media Laboratory, Sociable Media Group


I was so impressed by the idea of a JoiningScript, I had to try and brainstorm the script for our kind of community. Just a list now, in no particular order.

Funny, I’ve been here I think chronologically as long as piranha though not in terms of time spent… I don’t know exactly when I am a fully fledged member- in terms of performing things like a WelcomeRitual?. I mean, I see people come, and I want to welcome them, but I feel like I should wait until someone more… senior welcomes them? is that weird? It’s strange because in the WikiJoiningScript there is no return()… no feedback on the various functions, and what stage you are at.

Maybe those aren’t in a particular order, but i nearly think there is some order.

yeah, i think we came here around the same time. i’m pondering … i think there is an order, but maybe not of individual steps, but of rough groupings? it also depends on the wiki itself and what its CommunityExpectations are; my joining behaviour here is different from MeatballWiki, for example. for example, i feel perfectly fine welcoming somebody new here, but i feel that sense of waiting for somebody senior over there. this could of course also in part be because MB has a defined guest role, while CW doesn’t, and i feel like a guest there, but more like a member here. but on the other hand you have created pages, and i am still not ready for that – that might not be a function of the joining script, but of personality, however. sometimes hard to tell.

making small edits is always the first thing i do on a wiki, even if this is the first page i read (coming from google). spelling and grammar, broken link fixes, spam removal only. then i poke around, get a feel for the general tone, for the way the people interact, for the wiki’s common cause. if i feel i can contribute something more meaty than edits, i’ll make a homepage and set up a front lawn to introduce myself. i definitely feel a need to do that before even jumping into any discussion. and after that i start to subtly rework little things on pages, copyediting work. and i’ll ask to have behavioural norms explained to me.

so the rough order, for me, seems to be: Wiki:WikiGnome work first; copyedit, discussions, questions after establishing my identity (part of which is to show that i mean the community no harm); welcome ritual after i’m feeling i am a somewhat worthwhile contributor, page creation ? dunno yet when that happens. WikiWord|s definitely discourage me, contrary to their alleged ease. i notice that on my own wiki i create pages with gay abandon :) with a name that feels right (which is hardly ever a wikiword), and the fact that i have delete-page and rename-page functions really helps with that as well. hm. this should probably go on FearOfEditing.

In the open source community there are some very clear membership stages because the communities have rights they grant to participants over time. For example the right to commit changes directly to the sources; or the right to vote in dispute resolution. That forces a more explicit script to emerge. This is somewhat less of an issue in Wikis?

I’m particularly bemused by the stages of membership used out by the folks that build everything2.

This issue of joining script can rapidly get you into the tarpit of the status, bleck.

I’ll add something about time in the trenchs, most JoiningScripts? have timing elements.

In some open source communities there are rules that the inner group uses to assure that members are not invited into the voting group until after we are sure they are “consistently committed.” I, on the otherhand, have dived in here with both feet; but who know if I’ll hang on for very long :-).

With wiki, membership is a state of mind. There are some levels of access that can be granted with most Wiki engines, but we tend to downplay their importance. Someone with higher access levels is expected, at least, to act like a FirstServant. In some places (cough cough WikiPedia cough) this isn’t the case, but, y’know.

Anyways, I think that’s what makes the WikiJoiningScript so interesting. When do people start talking about what “we” do on a wiki, versus what “you guys” do? When do other community members accept a new person as one of their own?

If I had to break it down to two key points, it’d be:

  1. Creating an identity (versus anonymous editing) -and-
  2. Acting with a sense of ownership and responsibility to the entire wiki

The above points are fairly detailed, and I don’t really believe the first one – we all want people to LurkBeforeYouLeap, but in my experience they rarely do.

Well, in my view, anyone who considers themself a part of the wiki should feel free to welcome newcomers. I don’t think there should be any considerations of seniority; quite the opposite. Welcoming newcomers should be something you feel entitled to do around the same time you feel like making your first small edits.

I always feel like it’s kind of a race to welcome newcomers, and a slight honor to be the one who sees the new page first and get to welcome them. On MeatballWiki, SunirShah was particularly quick on the draw. But I felt good the first few times I managed to sneak in there and welcome someone first.

It would be nice if this page were more visible from the SiteMap… (unless hiding it several layers deep is supposed to be a sort of PricklyHedge?)

So, I don’t see WikiJoiningScript as being an instruction manual for getting involved in this wiki. I think that may be an interesting thing to write out, but I don’t think it belongs on this page.

I think a more interesting use of this page is to apply the idea of a JoiningScript – we’ve all read that page, right? – to the wiki world. In other words, what are the steps that a non-member takes to be recognized as a member of a WikiCommunity?

I guess it boils down to whether a JoiningScript is about what it takes for you to feel part of the community, versus what it takes for other members to recognize you as one of their own. I’d think it makes sense to concentrate more on the second than on the first.

I think some of the items in the above list don’t meet that. Many of them are subjective, and stuff that nobody else knows. For example, I don’t know whether or not MattisManzel has RecentChanges in his RSS reader, or even if he has an RSS reader. But I still consider him part of this community.

ooohhhh, I like WikiInstructionManual? or just InstructionManual?. I imagine that WikiJoiningScript would be a branch of that, as would a basic explanation about all the parts of a wiki. I am talking starting with the basics.

I do think a instruction manual would be useful, but I wouldn’t call it the WikiInstructionManual?, since there are so many WikiProcess alternatives.

I think that our wiki practices are good, and worth publishing. I’d call it the “CommunityWikiConsensus” or something like that, and it would be the guidelines that we follow here, including many of those that we have followed, but not thought to verbalize.

I think “scratch an itch” would be unintelligble to people not already in tune with open source software or wikis. I propose we expand it or remove it. How about, “Make a small fix to a page, or clean something up”

I agree there should be some sort of “instruction manual” for this wiki for newcomers. I think it will be confusing for non-wiki types to be directed to a page called “WikiJoiningScript” or “CommunityWikiConsensus”. How about a page called WelcomeVisitors (name cribbed from WardsWiki)?


Define external redirect: MissingLink WikiInstructionManual NewbieMistake JoiningScripts WelcomeRitual InstructionManual JanitorialWork

EditNearLinks: WikiCommunity SuggestedWikiRoleModel SandBox WikiWord EditConflict MeatballWiki CommunityExpectations WardsWiki SunirShah BehavioralNorms CommunityExpectation PricklyHedge FrontLawn LurkBeforeYouLeap FirstServant