Last night, I saw something that kinda sucked. A brand new user, just formed out of the nodegel two hours ago, was eaten by the EDB for asking a question in the chatterbox. In retrospect, it was a rather obvious question, and the answer could have been found in any number of helpful documents around the database. I spoke out on the devoured noder’s behalf, and was quickly informed by several gods that the user in question along with some others had been making a nuisance of themselves lately. The general consensus seemed to be that they hadn’t read the faq. Toasterleavings has an excellent Suggestion for e2 on the topic which I intend to expand upon as well as add my own ideas.

When a new user creates an account, he is sent an email that looks like this:

Hey there.  Welcome to Everything.

Here's the skinny:

username: whatever
passwd: XXXXXXX
real(tm) name: whatever


to login go to:
http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=109

and you can find your homenode at:
http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=whatever&type=user

love, the management
http://everything2.com/
It doesn't even tell new users to check out everything univerity or E2 Faq. The new email should very contain the full text of one of our many wonderful instructional writeups, such as E2 quick start. The password for the new account will be placed at the end of the letter to ensure that the user at least skims the document, perhaps learning some of the basics by osmosis.. Maybe he'll even read the text with interest. At the end of the document he is rewarded with his password.

Here's how I think it should be: When the new noder logs into the system, he is greeted with a javascript prompt (which is hard to ignore) informing him that he is a Level 0 user, to advance to Level 1 they just need to take a little test. As a Level 0 user (what should the level title be? "Newbie Noder"? "Borg Meat"?) they are entitled to

To become Level 1 and be allowed to make writeups, they must take a noder's test to show knowledge of HTML (reeeeeeal basic stuff like <BR> and <i>), How to hardlink, and perhaps some basic terms such as "Soft Link", "Death Borg", etc.

Upon completion of the test, (assuming he passed) the user is allowed to make writeups, which will appear on the editor's homepage like New Writeups or Cool User Picks. The user will not be able to pass on to level 2 (maybe not even leave the noder's nursery) until an editor clicks a little button that says "denewbify." Doing that says that the user has a general idea of what s/he is doing and can be trusted with higher level toys like votes, or (God Forbid) homenode images.

If the user does not pass, they should be allowed to take it again after a short waiting period. Get multiple failures, and the user would perhaps be informed that noding might not be for them, and there's plenty of accounts over at H2G2.

Hopefully, this system will help new noders overcome the intimidation that the database brings with it. It may also cause users to not even bother with e2, thinking we're a bunch of elitist jerks who don't want anybody to join our club. Oh well.

    Random thoughts and stuff stolen from other's Suggestions for E2:
  1. Generate an automatic /msg to all new users "randomeditor says Hello and Welcome to our database. You might find that getting started can be hard, as the natives are often restless and some have votes just itching for bad stuff. To avoid being downvoted please read what ever document is deemed worthy."
  2. Allow Level 0 users to submit writeups that go straight to an editor weblog to be accepted?
  3. Expand EDB into the database, let him "eat" consistently bad noders and force them to retake the test (May also keep experienced users from noding while drunk)
  4. Allow "multiple instances" of the chatterbox to let mentors be both outside and in noder's nursery
  5. Auto-assign new users Mentors, Level 0 users can make any writeup but it must be approved by their mentor.
  6. (combine with suggestion #2 or 5 above) Level 0 noders have no XP system, so downvotes don't count against them and scare them off, but simply alert the user that there's a problem.
If you've got any input/suggestions/personal insults don't hesitate to add them, unless of course you're Level 0.

(read the next few writeups now)
longwinter: I hope you didn't think that I said new users are stupid. There just needs to be more of a reason to read e2 faq and everything university. If it weeds out the bottom 10% of noders, It's a shame, but in the long run it will be much less of a hassle for the editors and gods, who I also hold in high esteem. I want to reaffirm the fact that this would be a very easy test, and if you'd truly read and understood the docs, it would be no trouble at all.

Tem42: That's a good idea. The only possible thing I could think of is that it may discourage people in distant time zones, since less people online == less votes for them.

FelonyMPulse: If you and your friend learned E2 so quickly, then my little test won't stop you in the least. However, it would stop the foul mouthed eight year old with an affinity for Power Rangers and no way of deactivating his caps lock key.

As much as I love E2 and would on some secret evil level love to keep this place only open to people who know exactly what they’re doing ... anotherone’s suggestion here seems a smiiiiiiiiiiiidge rigid. I only joined up a month ago, and I learned things like basic html tags by using them. I gleaned terms like soft link by skimming the FAQ and Everything University, but I really only picked up gems like Death Borg by watching the Chatterbox and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. If I had had to have everything I wrote submitted to a proofreading editor first, I doubt I would have written anything. I also probably wouldn’t have written even nearly as much horrible crap as I did in my first two days, but then again I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn for myself that my crap was horrible crap and start writing decent stuff.

The first week I was on E2 was the most educational week of my life in terms of my development as a writer, and it was that way because I had to wade through the system and figure the damn thing out.

It’s easy to look down now and say ‘Wow, new users are stupid.’ I do that at my work at a computer help desk every day. (OK, mind you, in general my new users really are stupid.) But I’m new enough here to say hey, give them some credit, and to generally realize that talking down to them and making them go through hoops ... well, it would have felt kind of belittling to me, anyway. We don’t hide our belief in the power structure here. It takes quite a place to actually call the head honchos gods. But that’s all part of the fun. That inspires us to reach for godhood ourselves. Calling newbies dirty names. That inspires disgruntled masses.

Sorry, I’m probably overreacting. But in general, here in my authority-bucking days of youth, I hate being told what to do. And this whole proposed system rubs me the wrong way as kind of patronizing. We may be (well, in most of our cases, have) gods. But that doesn’t mean we always know what we’re doing, or that anybody else is going to believe we do either. I respect gods and editors b/c their writeups rock and they give me useful criticism. Not because I was physically subservient to them in my infancy.

On a brighter note, things like a more informative first email and a couple extra kicks in the ass to try to get new noders to read the FAQ and the University (admit it, these docs are HUGE and people are lazy) would be a really really good idea. I also champion the idea of some reinforcement to get new noders to stick to Noder Nursery. I sure as hell didn’t, but that’s because nobody else was there and I felt stupid for being there all by myself when all the cool people were Outside ;)

Niftiness.
Upon first visiting E2, I browsed for a few days to get the gist of what was going on, and how to do stuff. My first few WUs were shockers, and received such a response. I quickly learnt to try a little harder, and use nifty HTML from the FAQ which I had been /msged with the node to (thanks to the friendly Ed who took the time to bother with yet another newbie).

Just a suggestion would be that the Create a node link doesn't show up in a new user's Epicenter until they have vistied various FAQ nodes (if programatically possible - Bones, Nate - you guys can do anything!) would disuade crappy nodes until a bit of research has been done.

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