Community Tech/Add a user watchlist/Concerns

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This is a draft.

There have been several concerns around the user watchlist tool, both expressed in the survey and mentioned to the Community Tech team privately. Since this is a controversial issue, the team would like to further investigate potential problems and community concerns.

The arguments are as follows:

  • It will make it easier to stalk other users.
  • If not restricted to admins or special usersgroups, it will be abused.
  • It runs counter to the principle of assuming good faith.
  • If restricted to admins, it invites the perception of abuse of power and corruption.
  • If it's not open who you follow, you can stalk persons without them knowing it.
  • If it is open who you follow, it creates an uncomfortable knowledge of being watched.

Potential solutions:

  • Make the tool opt-in. This makes it useless for fighting vandals, but still useful for mentoring newcomers or keeping track of what's happening at an edit-a-thon.
  • Make it available only to admins or special user groups.

Arguments against the solutions:

  • Opt-in takes away the most important potential use case.
  • It will probably be abused even if restricted to admins. There are many admins, and not all of always behave well.
  • Stalking is already possible through Special:Contributions.

Counterarguments:

  • Stalking becomes as much easier as keeping track of vandals. The threshold for doing both things are equally lowered.
  • It can be used to track hounding of users as well.
  • There are other tools for keeping track of users. Anyone can build this.