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Onboarding Process


New project contributors may be unfamiliar with some of the language used and be unsure of how to use the tools. This can make it difficult to make good-quality contributions.


This may happen when a new contributor is making their initial submissions to the project.


Introduce important terminology and policies early on, and ensure you explain the project and how to make high-quality contributions.

Participating in a new project can be a complicated task and requires learning and understanding new vocabulary and tools. Providing a clear set-up process, and helping contributors learn as they go will reduce mistakes and frustration, and improve quality. In turn this may increase enthusiasm and motivation to contribute effectively.

There are many ways you could guide your contributor:

  • Provide a ‘getting started’ static page
  • Create step-by-step guides or wizards taking the contributor through the different steps of the process
  • Review their first contribution
  • Publish tutorial videos
  • Provide a short checklist
  • Signpost useful policies
  • Anticipate on how long an entry might take
  • Give information upfront about what will be needed when
  • Highlight keyboard shortcuts
  • Tips and tricks
  • Examples and further reading pointers

The method will depend on your project, the complexity of your topic, and the type of audience you have. You may combine techniques to address the needs of contributors with different levels of experience.

If you do not want to produce something as detailed as a tutorial, wizard or step-by-step guide, you can use inline methods such as tooltips, clear labelling and navigation to explain concepts to first-time contributors.

Different audiences will need varying levels of guidance for their first contributions. For example, if your project only relies on expert contributors within one topic, there might be no requirement to explain terminology as carefully. If your project relies on an open participation, contributors will need to be taken through the steps of a contribution, learning new vocabulary as they go.


A friendly introduction on the Getting Started page


Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Two-minute tutorial videos explain functionality and introduce language

Related patterns

Learning Curve

Contributors may not feel confident about successfully participating in your project, especially if they believe that they need some expert knowledge in order to contribute.

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