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The welcome ritual is the WarmHelpful way that members of a wiki react to the creation of a homepage by a visitor. It's a chance to show friendliness and cooperation. It is the first step to win people for the community. Often some members cooperate to WelcomeNewcomers and make it a simple form of BarnRaising. The degree of formality or informality of this ritual may differ from wiki to wiki, is under discussion, and is perhaps best left undefined.

Newcomers to wiki usually don't know to put the CategoryHomePage tag onto their first page. This is a great chance for WikiCommunityBuilding. By putting the CategoryHomePage tag on the page, the editor introduces the new member to many concepts at once: the category system, backlinks and being a BuildingJanitor.

Typical examples for how to WelcomeNewcomers in short:

A longer and more formal WelcomeNewcomer could read:

Dear John,
welcome at the ABC online community, ...
this is about collecting knowledge about ABC, ...
please fell free to contribute and comment, teach and learn, ...
if you have questions, please turn to me or consult our FAQ and HelpSystem?, ...
thank you for comming here (signing in), ...
signature, welcome committee (or other function)

Bad examples for how to WelcomeNewcomers:

If the homepage contains enough personal information, one can try start talking about common interests, point to pages of interest or maybe even ask for contributions to certain topics (not recommended).

Instead of the welcome ritual there may be a SilentWelcome. The advantage of welcoming newcomers is that it's more personal, more efficient and much quicker. The visitor will also get to know some who feel responsible for the wiki and to whom he can turn to in case of any questions. The visitor can also start communicating on his homepage about any topic (no OT on homepages!) and expect quick responses.

Also, welcoming newcomer demonstrates visibly that there is a vibrant community. It sends out a signal that the community is alive and open to newcomers. Consider the case of moving to a new neighbourhood. If you receive a SilentWelcome, then you can be reasonably confident that no one is going to burn down your house in a hate crime, but that's because no one cares or people are too afraid to talk to you. However, if someone comes to your door to say hello, you've instantly made contact with life in that neighbourhood. There is at least someone you know you can go to ask questions or to invite to dinner. If that person claims to represent the neighbourhood association, you may have joined a neighbourhood with a very strong community.

The effect of the welcome is the change from VisitorRole to GuestRole.

A good welcome may be seen as a simple example of BarnRaising. You can't do it alone, it's a social event, should be purely positive, aiming to lay the foundation to become friends.

An important part of welcoming is not to mention it is a ritual when doing it, as the WelcomeNewcomer is not a rule but a pattern (see MentioningPatterns). The fundamental premise of BarnRaising is friendliness. Informality is nice that way.

Rule explanation

Some rule introduction should be done as part of the welcome. In a conference, the first formal thing the speaker always says is, "In case of a fire, leave through these doors, and ...". By the time someone has created a NamePage?, they'll probably have lurked for a fair bit, read a few pages, so this is a good time to introduce basic CommunityExpectations. Not every rule, of course, and not every last scrap of CommunityLore, but enough. Also, rule enforcement is typically done later ("we'll let you off since it's your first time, but blah blah blah").

The danger of delaying rule introduction is that it's unfair to let people build attachments and then tell them they have to conform to some hard rule they weren't aware of, or break that attachment. UseRealNames on meatball is one example of this kind of rule - it's unusual, it's hard to work around, and it has a very obvious impact. By contrast, having a StyleGuide is common, mistakes can be fixed as and when, and its influence is more subtle. But, if the wiki has LimitGrowth problems (also known as barbarian incursions: see WikiLifeCycle), or even an AbsentCommunity, the WikiNewbie can likely have NoRespectForHistory, and never learn the BehavioralNorms, simply because there are not enough OldTimers?, or they are wholly absorbed by other urgent occupations, as reverting vandalism. Not enough CommunityBuilding combined with WikiEmigration can lead to irreversible InformationLoss, even of the real WikiMission.

The WelcomeNewcomer pattern certainly isn't something critical enough to be mentioned during the welcome.

Another perspective is that broken expectations should be mentioned on the first occasion, not a few weeks down the line. This is partly FixBrokenWindows, but again also a question of fairness - don't allow someone to get used to doing things one way, only to be told much later that they were doing things all wrong. Since a WelcomeNewcomer typically follows the VisitorRole selecting a username or handle of some form, this is a good time to mention if they've selected an OffensiveName. Politely, of course: cf. PrincipleOfConstantRespect. -- MartinHarper

I like the idea of CommunityExpectations being put out there quickly. "Welcome <so and so>! If you plan to stick around, check out our CommunityExpectations and feel free to ask me any questions. - Best, MarkDilley" -- or something like that.

Compare WikiPedia:Wikipedia:Coaching, WelcomeVisitors.

Some thoughts on an effective welcome:

-- SelvakumarGanesan

Why exactly is RichCasto suddenly being re-welcomed a month and a half after he first visited? --MartinHarper

Herd instinct. -- ChrisPurcell

Chris, you won this edit conflict as your answer is shorter.

This clearly has to do with a difference of Zauber, or all over StigMergy? (maybe) in the wiki or maybe in wikilandia all over. It is fun to welcome somebody. I didn't know RichCasto had been here before. I wasn't that present on Meatball during the last weeks due to much work on CommunityWiki, but I respect you here a lot, your document mode is praiseworthy. So I thought a little "ciĆ o" when already so many welcome Rich can't do no bad. Welcomes of many create an instant feeling for the whole community. A welcome is written in a minute and no big thinking is required. Communities (on- and offline) are kept together by repeating rituals. That is by rhythm. Sunday-church kept together communities in the 19th century in the USA. Welcoming does on Wiki. DevelopRituals?. -- MattisManzel 040127 14:46 UTC, +01h



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