Community Tech/Article Alerts for more languages

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This page documents a project the Wikimedia Foundation's Community Tech team has worked on or declined in the past. Technical work on this project is complete.

We invite you to join the discussion on the talk page. You may track this project's progress on T186821.

Tracked in Phabricator:
Task T186821

This is the project page for Article Alerts for more languages, the #6 wish in the 2017 Community Wishlist Survey. You can follow this page, and get updates as the Community Tech team starts working on this wish.

Article Alerts is an automated subscription-based news delivery system on English Wikipedia designed to notify WikiProjects and Taskforces when articles tagged by their banners or placed in their categories enter various formal workflows (such as Articles for Deletion, Requests for Comments, Peer Review, etc.) This project aims to extend Article Alerts to other wikis of other languages.


November 7, 2018[edit]

Hello all. The Community Tech team has reassessed the technical complexity of the remaining wishes from the 2017 Community Wishlist Survey and after doing that, our team has come to the conclusion that working on this wish is not feasible in combination with the other projects we have. In light of that, we will not be working on this project.

There are a few reasons behind this decision. This project is very technically complex due to the differences in how different wikis run their workflows. We completed an investigation (task T184304) to evaluate the technical work that would be involved and we could not come up with a project direction that satisfied all the requirements. As workflows differ on every wiki, it is impossible to build something that will work seamlessly for all wikis and provide as much value to all projects as Article Alerts currently does to English Wikipedia. Thus, to build a tool that is useful to all wikis requires us to analyze every wiki’s workflows and make the tool work for all of them. This work is beyond our team’s capacities, especially because we have multiple other projects to complete before we begin to work on the new wishlist wishes. Our workload this past year was more than we'd expected and it has forced us to re-evaluate whether doing ten projects every year from the wishlist is a reasonable idea.

We want to heartily apologize for the inconvenience this causes. We realize that this was not fair. This project was important to a lot of people and we’re sorry for not being able to work on it. I especially want to apologize to Headbomb and Hellknowz who offered to help with the project since the beginning. Thank you for all the effort you put into this project.

March 16, 2018[edit]

This project is still on hold while we complete work on other Wishlist projects. We will likely get to this project in the second half of 2018.

February 22, 2018[edit]

Max's initial investigation is complete, and his comments can be found at phab:T184304. A discussion is ongoing in the ticket comments. In brief, Article Alerts is a complex process and unique to English Wikipedia. Scoping will be a significant amount of this work: We will either have to create a watered down one-size-fits-all IFTTT system that performs a few simple workflows, or we support a few highly specific workflows on a few wikis.

We agree that recreating the existing bot's functionality is out of scope, so we'll be leaving the functionality and technology as-is on English Wikipedia.

Next steps: determine which wikis want this functionality, have user bases that would benefit from this functionality, and are structured in a way where their workflows can be understood by a bot.

February 21, 2018[edit]

The investigation task for this project is in our current sprint, and we hope to have it completed by the end of March. When the investigation is complete we can begin writing project requirements. Hellknowz has provided us with the source code (thank you!) so the investigation should be quick. The investigation includes:

  • Look at the source code provided by Hellknowz. (see email) Look at how workflows are implemented in the existing bot. (Note that the code is in C#)
  • Determine if there are current workflows that are standard across several wikis. How many can be described?
  • Take a look at PageAssessments extension which maintains a database table for pages associated with wikiprojects and their quality assessments. Could the extension possibly be useful here (with or without changes)? Should we deploy it to more wikis (this requires community interaction for editing templates)?
  • Could this be an extension instead of a bot?
  • Can we think about making this work without wikiprojects but use categories instead? (Suggested in the proposal discussion)
  • Determine which wikis want this and would benefit (use WikiProjects or something equivalent)?

January 4, 2018[edit]

The current system is based on a bot — User:AAlertBot posts on the /Article_alerts subpage of opted-in WikiProjects when there's action happening on one of their pages: nominated for deletion, under discussion, etc. (example report)

The bot is written in C sharp — a language Community Tech has little experience with. en:User:Headbomb commissioned the bot, en:User:Hellknowz wrote it. Both are current operators. We'd like to see the source code, need to ask Hellknowz on their talk page.

Given the bot's age, C sharp language, and specificity just for English Wikipedia, we'll probably have to rewrite the bot. We might want to write some library components so that people can write their own bots, but that's not really the spirit of what the proposal is asking for. Or we can identify the wikis that strongly use WikiProjects (incl. Russian, French, and Italian Wikipedias) and just write separate bots for each.

Research to do:

  • Contact Hellknowz to look at the source code. Look at how workflows are implemented in the existing bot
  • Determine if there are workflows that are standard across many wikis. How many can be described? 
  • Determine which wikis want this.

December 13, 2017[edit]

The team will start investigating this project early in 2018. If you've got suggestions or questions, please write your thoughts on the talk page!

Important links[edit]





Open questions[edit]