2017 Community Wishlist Survey/Archive/Fix talk pages

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⬅ Back to Archive The survey has concluded. Here are the results!

NoN Out of scope for Community Tech

  • Problem: Wikipedia contributors without Mediawiki experience are irritated by the (lack of a proper) user interface on talk pages.
  • Who would benefit: All contributors taking part in discussions.
  • Proposed solution: For example, there should be buttons to add a reply to an existing topic or to add a new topic. The structure (currently achieved through indentation) as well as the name of the user and the date of the contribution should be handled automatically.
  • More comments: The current talk page format follows the wiki philosophy, but when we want constructive discussions, this seems like romantic fundamentalism. Let's make discussions more approachable for everyone.
  • Phabricator tickets:


  • How would this differ from the existing Structured Discussions extension (formerly known as "Flow")? Anomie (talk) 14:53, 15 November 2017 (UTC)
    • It probably wouldn't, although there may be other solutions to the talk page problem. I really want talk pages fixed as soon as possible, therefore I strongly support this wish. --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 08:57, 16 November 2017 (UTC)
    • To be honest, I didn't know about Structured Discussion. The project does include my proposal, but adds a number of features. Looks quite ambitious to me. Should it be realized as planned - fine. Then I see, it was removed from en-WP one year ago: mw:Structured_Discussions/Rollout#Rollout. Maybe because it was too .. ambitious? --Bernd.Brincken (talk) 12:29, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Well, it won't harm giving this project a boost by including it in the wishlist, right? --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 19:04, 19 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Since Flow is more a long term solution, that requires a cear cut and therefore ist neglegted by many communities, we additionally need a short-/mid-term solution that attaches itself to the current wikitext-base and enriches it with a standard no-thrills commentary-functionality. I had quite a lot of discussions on this topic during the Wikimania in Montreal and we outlined a way to do that something like this with JavaScript. A Script that injects a "comment here"-box at the bottom of each section. Und than takes all the text, the user enteres there, to the wikitext, automatically adding ::: and --~~~~ if missing.
    Of course this is a hacky solution, but hacky solutions are kind of tradition in this project. And hey: Almost anything is more understandable and convenient for common newbies than the status quo. // Martin Kraft (talk) 18:29, 20 November 2017 (UTC)

Hi Bernd.Brincken: This proposal is asking for Structured Discussions -- an important but ambitious & complicated project. We don't want to make that space even more confusing by creating another version of it. :) I'm going to archive this proposal, thanks for participating in the survey. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 20:59, 20 November 2017 (UTC)

Hi DannyH (WMF), I think that there is no need to archive this wish - many votes might instead encourage the Wikimedia Foundation to direct more resources at the "important but ambitious & complicated" issue of finally, finally, finally fixing talk pages. --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 08:53, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Hi Gnom, while I agree that fixing talk pages is an important goal for the WMF, this simply isn't a project that the Community Tech team can undertake. As our scope definition explains, we aren't able to work on large, long-term development projects, especially ones that are already being handled by other teams. The purpose of this survey is to identify projects for the Community Tech team to work on, and if we can't realistically work on it, it doesn't make sense to have people vote on it. Kaldari (talk) 18:19, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Hi Kaldari, I am very confused. I have the impression that "difficult" wishes are deliberately being "archived". This way, "small" and "fun" things get done, while more "important" yet "bigger" improvements are moved out of sight. Is this really what we should be doing here? Couldn't this survey also cover wishes that are maybe too big for the Community Tech team, and therefore have to be tackled by other teams, under the condition that the community finds their fulfillment worthwile? --Gnom (talk) Let's make Wikipedia green! 20:57, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Hi Gnom: No, the purpose of this survey is to find projects for the Community Tech team to work on. We're archiving proposals that are beyond the scope of what our team can do, because we don't want to mislead people. If people vote for this proposal, then they'd assume we're going to work on it, and we already know that this is out of scope for our team. I'm going to archive this again. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:30, 21 November 2017 (UTC)

@DannyH (WMF): I just saw, that this wish has been speed-archived to. And like User:Gnom, I am really disappointed about that. The dysfunctionality of the talk pages is one of the mayor problems, when it comes to recruiting the new authors we desperately need in Wikipedia. Due to this desgin-failure, we loose potential new authors every single day. And since the WMF obviously is not able to provide and implement a large scale solution for the talk pages since years, we need to adopt a different approach.

This wish is not about a large scale long term solution but about a short term fix with limited effort. Since I am a interaction designer and web developer my self, I can assure you, that a skilled CSS/JS-programmer should be able possible to implement the progressive enhancement solution for talk-pages (as the one I described above) within max 2-3 weeks of working time. If you don't think so, please layout in detail why!

This wish clearly is within the scope of the technical wishes project and it should be part of the Survey. I therefore urge you to de-archive this wish and bring it back to the survey starting today. // Martin Kraft (talk) 10:59, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Hi Martin, I totally agree that making talk pages easier to use is really important. It's also very complicated, because it touches half the pages on our projects. One reason why it's complicated is that it's hard to define what a single "post" is -- people edit talk pages for a lot of different reasons, including editing their own post, editing someone else's, reordering posts or threads, and splitting threads. You can't assume that each edit = a new message, so how do you let the system know what kind of edit this is? There's also a lot of complexity to the way people reply to other people's posts, which would have to be specially built. We could go on and talk about this more, but the bottom line is that this isn't in the scope of a Community Wishlist Survey proposal. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 17:59, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): That's why I mentioned de:Progressive Enhancement. The idea is not to replace the recent way to edit talk pages, but to add an easy and accessible way to do handle the most simple task of adding a comment. And to implement something like this definitly is not rocket science and therefore well within the scope of your project and a foreseeable task. // Martin Kraft (talk) 22:05, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
FWIW, this sounds like en:User:Enterprisey/reply-link. --Elitre (WMF) (talk) 18:00, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
@Elitre (WMF): Thanks, that is almost exactly what I hat in mind. But the point is: We need something like this not only for experienced users able to edit their common.js but for newbies and unregistered users. And to implement that is the purpose of this technical wish. // Martin Kraft (talk) 22:05, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
Hi Martin, we're not taking votes on archived proposals. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:42, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
This proposal shouldn't be archived but part of the survey. // Martin Kraft (talk) 22:05, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
"Structured Discussions -- an important but ambitious & complicated project. We don't want to make that space even more confusing by creating another version of it." Sigh. I can only encourage you to support the right solution - which means to reduce the ambitious project to a normal, simple, feasable one. If a Javascript addition can achieve this, fine. --Bernd.Brincken (talk) 00:56, 28 November 2017 (UTC)