For some time now, I’ve wondered about how to welcome newcomers to E2.

Not in the traditional «Go there and introduce yourself with a home baked pie» way, or sending a good /msg newbie to say we don’t bite unless asked politely and after establishing a good safeword.

More in the E2 as a roleplaying game sense. If we have XP and GP and levels and powers and spells… how to best introduce someone to all the wonders of e2 without overwhelming them and also avoiding some of the common mistakes we’ve seen in last years.1

A potential answer in line with the other systems in place is, of course, a series of introductory Quests that serve as a sort of «tutorial level». In a classic RPG, this would involve some sort of fetch quest, a simple crafting recipe, or a small bounty for killing 10 sewer rats. In the other Wiki, I often point to the queue of articles that need minor fixes (spelling mistakes, etc.)

The problem is that in (MMO-)RPGs, these tasks have several characteristics that are hard to translate to E2, namely:

  1. They are trivial. I know we have love a silly writeup now and then, but even a silly joke needs to be well written and this is by no means trivial, except for those seasoned writers that don’t need this kind of advice;
  2. They are essentially repeatable by design. When Toby Questgiver asks me to slay 5 skeletons, he can ask exactly the same of Josh McNewbie when he creates his account 5 minutes after me. The world at large doesn’t change, the skeletons respawn and the only measurable change is the XP gained and the knowledge of the combat basics2 Here we could have “easy” targets, but they aren’t necessarily repeatable, unless we count daylogs; but daylogs are hardly a good way to start… right?
  3. Can be automatically given, evaluated and «purged». Related to the above, beginner quests are so small and trivial that their whole process is automated, which doesn’t really fit into what E2 would like… sure, there are ways to automate quest giving and probably even XP/GP giving, but we—or at least I—don’t think that the «evaluation» of such tasks should be automated, lest it devalues the creative process.
  4. «Everyone» can do them.

Back at The Other Wiki, I usually point out (some) beginners to the «Minor fixes» queue: there’s more work to be done in a lifetime, it’s relatively easy to do and the result is immediate, there’s no need for anyone to approve the changes. It’s a very simple, low barrier to doing small edits.

But here? There’s bounties, and there’s wertperch’s perpetual noding challenge, and endless nodeshells and the regular Quests… but none of them are exactly newbie-friendly by design, at least not with the characteristics I wrote above. It’s no good to have a new noder and toss them on the deep end saying «Here’s the Best of E2, node for the ages, and off you go!» hoping they will just produce good nodes.

GTKY nodes haven’t been popular for a while and while I’d like to see more of them, I want to see them from people I already know and like on this site, not from a newbie. There’s very few topics that will be interesting enough for «everyone» to write about, and most of them won’t be interesting enough for «everyone» to read.

Moreover, what’s the problem I’m trying to solve?

  1. Newbies learning the technical ropes of E2 (drafting and publishing a node, where to get and ask for help)
  2. Newbies learning the general vibe of E2 (writing quality, mostly)
  3. Newbies becoming community (after all, E2 without its supremely interesting people would just be a boring pseudoblog)

I don’t know if any of these can really be achieved with a particular set of tasks that we could assign newbies. Noders are known for being wildly different, yet writing under the same roof. Establishing a boot camp of sorts could maybe alleviate some problems, but I’m not sure if it can be realistically done.

I keep coming back to these questions with no good answer for them, but now at least I have them down on paper and can free my brain to other pursuits. So, if you know of a good way to solve these… please do share with the rest of the class.

And if you’re a new noder yourself… consider reading this. I’m not saying you have to do these, just to read and consider these points. After all, I’ve been wrong before.

  1. Mostly, but not only, newbies believing that writeups old enough to start considering their college options are a good example of what we’re expecting nowadays.

  2. And of course, the friends we made along the way.