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.