LiveHelp is the name of a proposed system for new contributors to get support in real time. New editors may connect to the interface and will be greeted by a helper, who will assist them with contributing. It is aimed at retaining new editors and boosting contributions and is in line with our strategic goal to increase participation. Helpers join in an IRC channel and await contributors needing help, while the user sees messages directed only at them.
At the moment, Wikipedia has a makeshift system used to provide assistance in real time. It reaches a handful of new editors every day: they find a "live chat" link and click it. They are sent to the online "webchat" interface for Freenode, an IRC network, and they join an IRC channel (#wikipedia-en-help). It's not designed for our contributors—when there are multiple users requesting help it becomes really confusing—it would be desirable to integrate the interface with Wikipedia. Right now, we don't have the number of users we'd like to have using the system because of these issues
How it works
Fred is viewing a specific page or editing an article. A "Get live help" button beacons them. They click it and a jQuery interface, featuring the LiveHelp widget, appears—data about their account is sent to the chatroom. Lucy, a helper, is awaiting a new editor to help. She sees that Fred just joined the channel; he's made 6 edits. He doesn't quite understand how links on Wikipedia work, because he wants to link to the "Sialia sialis" article. However, he wants to have the linked text read "bluebird". Lucy instructs him to find the blue toolbar above the editing text area and click the link icon. Fred does so, filling in the fields. He thanks Lucy for her help, rates his experience as five stars, and saves the page. Thanks to Lucy, Fred now knows how to modify links.
- Server and server support: it seems unlikely that the complete system could be hosted on the Toolserver.
- Community volunteers: existing helpers in #wikipedia-en-help would be relocated to LiveHelp. Input on developing materials and standards for helpers is requested.
- Freenode IRC server
- LiveHelp backend, likely running modified Ajax Push Engine software