One of the projects in Wikipedia Indonesia is editor coaching (Indonesian: Program pembelajaran) . This project aims to help new users who want to edit Wikipedia. I have volunteered to be a mentor in this program. The user I adopted, Zaki, happens to be a friend of mine. I began to give some tasks to begin with, which have been finished. Some more urgent things (and perhaps more important too) then got in the way, and I failed to continue the coaching.
After some pestering lately, two days ago I have restarted the coaching process by giving some more tasks for Zaki to work on. I am asking him to write an essay and taking photographs. Meanwhile, I am also thinking about this learning program’s objectives. The project page says it is to help new users, but Zaki is not exactly new, and different editors will need help in different areas.
Regardless of editors, I think we need to determine what kind of editors we want in Wikipedia. More specifically, what skills will a Wikipedian need? I am trying to list some here:
- Writing. A Wikipedian need to have good writing skill. That also means sound command of the language. If the said Wikipedian contributes to Indonesian Wikipedia, he or she has to be able to write well in Indonesian. Needless to say, knowledge of spelling and grammar of standard Indonesian language are minimum requirements. A Wikipedia editor will also need to learn to write encyclopedic articles. Even though the editor will rarely write a complete article, he or she should know what is a good writing is.
- Collaboration skill. A wiki facilitates collaborative writings. A good Wikipedia article at least should be reviewed by many parties, if not written by several writers already. This should also includes communication and argumentation skills.
- Research skill. To develop an article we need to find a good deal information, sourced from lots of trusted references. Finding good references (books, journals, magazines, newspapers articles) is not easy. Excellent googling skill will be essential, but often is not enough. Printed (not electronic, online) materials are sometimes necessary. A Wikipedia editor should also remember the "no original research" policy.
- Technical skill. This should not be an essential skill, but unfortunately it is. Wikipedia editing interface is rather hard, and its internal messaging system is primitive. A Wikipedian should not be afraid of learning technical things like wiki markups. If he or she aspires to adminship, a good knowledge of MediaWiki software will be very helpful, not to mention other things like Python programming language.
I am sure this list is not complete. Now I am turning to you, dear reader. What other skills will be necessary for a good Wikipedian?