Community Wishlist Survey/FAQ

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Community Wishlist Survey banner FAQ.svg

Participation[edit]

Why should I participate?[edit]

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Have you ever needed to see an improvement in the functionality of the Wiki software? Do you have an idea for a new tool to make the platforms more usable and functional? Do you want to support someone else's idea for such an improvement? Participating in the Survey is just the way to make that happen.

By participating in the Community Wishlist Survey, you can affect what platform changes the Community Tech, a Wikimedia Foundation team is working on. You can also work with the Community Tech to build these tools.

How can I participate?[edit]

You can participate in multiple ways. Technical knowledge or many years of wiki experience are not necessary:

Proposal phase

January 23 – February 6, 2023

Review phase

January 30 – February 10, 2023

Voting phase

February 10 – February 24, 2023

After voting

February 28, 2023

What happens during the proposal phase?[edit]

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In the proposal phase, contributors from every project and language can submit proposals for features and fixes that you'd like to see in 2023.

Community Tech limits the number of proposals per user to 10. Why? Read more on What happens after the proposal is submitted. If you have more than 10 ideas, feel free to encourage others to propose an idea.

How do I create a good proposal?[edit]

What makes a good proposal? These instructions are to ensure the proposals have the best chance at being selected for completion.

Within the Community Tech area of activity[edit]

The proposal should be about a technical need of active Wikimedia editors. It should require engineering work and NOT be about a policy or social change.

Antu mail-mark-junk.svg The Community Tech team declines proposals
if they
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Proposals requiring engineering work include
  • Only require doing edits on wiki, even if it's about "technical" edits (in templates, modules, etc.)
  • Are already in Wikimedia Foundation teams' plans
  • Were declined by Community Tech or other Wikimedia Foundation teams in the past
  • Call for removing or disabling a feature that a Wikimedia Foundation team has worked on
  • Building tools for Wikimedia projects
  • Identifying and improving functionality of important unsupported tools
  • Creating better documentation for these tools so that they can be better used
  • Creating gadgets, bots, and wizards to help users in what they already do
  • Building tools for WikiProjects
  • Modifying existing gadgets and bots so that they can work on more projects
  • Converting heavily-used code written by the community (gadgets and user-scripts) into part of the MediaWiki software

Less than a year-long project, more than a bug[edit]

The Community Wishlist Survey is limited to the capabilities of the Community Tech team.

The team is grateful for "big ideas" for the Foundation and doesn't ignore them. However, some proposals require a dedicated team other than Community Tech.

These proposals will be moved to a separate page and will not be voted upon. Later, the link to that page will be shared with other Wikimedia Foundation teams.

Examples:

Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Wiktionary app (too large)
Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Wikivoyage app (too large)
Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Centralization of templates (too large)
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Watchlist item expiration (large-ish)
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Ping users from the edit summary (ideal size)
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Copy and paste from diffs (small-ish but not too small)

Pick one specific problem and describe it in detail[edit]

Provide context around why the problem is important for users. A good proposal explains exactly:

  • What the problem is,
  • Who's affected by it.
  • Add screenshots, links, and talk pages detailing the discussion about the problem space, if possible.

This will help Community Tech to understand where to begin their work.

Don't just say that "(x feature) is out of date", "needs to be improved" or "has a lot of bugs". That's not enough information to figure out what needs to be done.

Proposals may be submitted in any language. Community Tech encourages the volunteers to translate them so everyone can read and vote on it more easily. Read more on Review phase.

Examples:

Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Add Better Bots (not precise enough and reading between the lines, too large)
Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Make wiki easier for most people (not one problem, but a principle for a lot of changes)
Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Implement Artificial intelligence (not one problem, but a principle for a lot of changes)
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Better diff handling of paragraph splits
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Show all active sessions
Antu mail-mark-notjunk.svg Use Wikidata to improve search

Don't worry about finding the solution[edit]

You don't have to suggest ways for resolving the problem. It will be the Community Tech task to find solutions.

Prescribing the solution can sometimes be a constraint. For example, voters could mistakenly support a solution that later in the year could turn out to be impossible to build, and Community Tech would solve the problem differently.

Examples:

Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Tags (ala evernote, searchable, catagorizing) (no information on the problem)
Antu mail-mark-junk.svg Bulk upload program (no information on the problem)

Talk to other community members[edit]

You may want to bring attention to your idea, and be part of a conversation about the idea happening elsewhere. Gather feedback and share the proposal. You can do this early on, before the voting phase. This way, contributors can know about the problem and remember to participate and vote for it when the time comes.

Also, see our promotional materials. You may use them.

Avoid proposals that were declined in the past[edit]

Here's a list of some of the projects that got many votes. Community Tech was committed to work on them but had to decline them. It is unlikely, if not impossible, that the team could work on them this year.

Survey edition Rank in the results Projects Explanation
2019 #2 Dark mode Overlaps with another team's project. The overlapping project is Desktop Improvements. Read more.
2019 #6 Put mw.toolbar back The issue had largely been resolved without any Community Tech intervention. Also, it is the Community Tech policy not to undo changes made by other teams. Read more.
2019 #8 Article reminders This is too technically complex. Also, it would have to be done by another Wikimedia Foundation team. There are other ways to see the same result. Read more.
2019 #10 2FA available for all concerned editors This is too technically complex. Also, it would have to be done by another Wikimedia Foundation team. Read more.
2017 #6 Article Alerts for more languages This is too technically complex. Also, the Community Tech is not able to build and maintain such a tool. Read more.
2016 #1 Global gadgets This is too technically complex. Also, the Community Tech is not able to build and maintain such a tool.
2015 #3 Central repository for gadgets, templates and Lua modules
2015 #6 Allow categories in Commons in all languages Overlaps with another team's projects. The overlapping projects are Structured Data on Commons and Structured Data Across Wikimedia.
2015 #4 Cross-wiki watchlist This is too technically complex. Read more.
2015 #8 Global cross-wiki talk page Overlaps with other teams' projects. The overlapping projects are Flow/Structured Discussions and Cross-wiki notifications. Read more.
2015 #10 Add a user watchlist Used in bad faith, this tool could make it easier to harass users. Read more.

What happens after the proposal is submitted?[edit]

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The community can collaboratively work on a proposal that presents the idea in a way that's most likely to succeed in the voting phase.

When a proposal is submitted, everyone is invited to comment on that proposal, and help to make it better — asking questions, and suggesting changes.

Similar proposals can be combined; very broad proposals should be split up into more specific ideas.

The goal is to create the best possible proposal for the voting phase.

The person who submits a proposal should expect to be active in that discussion, and help to make changes along the way.

Can I resubmit a proposal from previous surveys?[edit]

Yes.

If you decide to copy a proposal from the old survey into the new survey, Community Tech expects you to "adopt" that proposal—meaning that you'll be actively participating in the discussion about that idea, and willing to make changes to the proposal in order to make it a stronger idea when it moves to the voting phase.

You may also submit some proposals that were archived in past years. For example, you may go through unclear proposals, describe them better, and submit them.

It's helpful if you want to post a link to the previous discussion, but please don't copy over the votes and discussion from last year. If there are good points that people made in last year's discussions, include the suggestions or caveats in the new proposal.

If a wish was declined by the Community Tech team, it is not eligible for another submission unless it has been changed significantly.

Examples:

Can I work on an idea before the proposal phase?[edit]

Yes.

The 2023 edition starts on January 23. You can start working on an idea using the Community Wishlist Survey sandbox. This may allow you to make the details public and invite others to draft an idea with you.

What does "out of scope" mean?[edit]

It means out of the area of activity of the Community Tech team.

See also How to create a proposal for detailed explanations.

Proposal phase

January 23 – February 6, 2023

Review phase

January 30 – February 10, 2023

Voting phase

February 10 – February 24, 2023

After voting

February 28, 2023
}

After the proposal phase, the Community Tech team will review the proposals before the voting phase begins.

The team checks if any proposals have to be declined. If there are any issues that prevent proposals from being accepted into the voting phase, they try to contact the proposals' authors and ask additional questions.

If a proposal is correct, Community Tech members mark it for translation. Then, anyone can translate the proposal to make it understandable for more people.

Proposal phase

January 23 – February 6, 2023

Review phase

January 30 – February 10, 2023

Voting phase

February 10 – February 24, 2023

After voting

February 28, 2023
}

How do I vote?[edit]

Locals preparing to vote at a local voting poll (4320654723).jpg

The only votes that are counted are Support Support votes.

The final list of wishes will be ranked in order of the most Support votes. If you are the proposer, a support vote is automatically counted for your proposal.

Participants can vote for as many proposals as they want. To ensure fair voting, only registered users can vote, and votes by very new accounts may be removed.

Can I post an Oppose, Neutral, or discuss?[edit]

Yes.

Discussion is encouraged during the voting phase. If you want to post an Oppose Oppose or Neutral Neutral vote with a comment, then feel free to do so.

These discussions can help people to make up their mind about whether they want to vote for the proposals. The discussions also provide useful input to guide the work that will happen through the year.

Can I ask others to vote for my proposal?[edit]

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Yes.

You've got an opportunity to sell your idea to as many people as you can reach. Feel free to reach out to other people in your project, WikiProject, affiliate, or other kind of group of users. A good-faith "get out the vote" campaign is absolutely okay.

Proposal phase

January 23 – February 6, 2023

Review phase

January 30 – February 10, 2023

Voting phase

February 10 – February 24, 2023

After voting

February 28, 2023

How do you select which proposals to work on?[edit]

Once the survey is closed, the Community Tech team will choose some proposals from the survey to work on.

Popularity of a proposal is the main factor in the selection decision, but not the only one. If a proposal has many support votes, Community Tech also takes into consideration:

Technical complexity

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Product and Design complexity

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Historically underserved needs and community impact

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Software engineering effort that needs to be invested.

This includes reviewing code, dependencies on other teams, infrastructure, legal, and security limitations, database updates, etc.

Effort required for data collection to understand the problem, creation of the designs, user testing to validate the designs, and coordinating across teams to mitigate the impact of changing a part of the user experience.

Should the launch be gradual or not gradual? How many and which communities will collaborate with us to test the new functionality?

Is the proposal about under-supported Wikimedia projects?

Would it work across different wikis?

How many people would benefit from the improvement?

Is it about the support for non-textual content?

The final score is a combination of all the above. Next, Community Tech begins to work on the proposals with the highest final scores.

Some of the wishes may be addressed by volunteer developers or other development teams.

Why is the number of votes not the only criterion?[edit]

In addition to the number of votes, Community Tech takes the complexity of wishes into account. This allows the team to stagger the work and complete more wishes.

Also, focusing only on the number of votes is an equity concern. There are small groups like global groups or communities from small Wikimedia projects. In a simple voting, they could easily be outnumbered, and they would continue to be under-supported.

How many wishes will you address?[edit]

It varies by year based on the complexity of the wishes.

Community Tech does not commit to a fixed count because the team cannot predict a number. The team strives to complete as many wishes as possible. Completing wishes depends on the complexity and resources, such as the number of engineers and designers on the team for that given year.

There was a time when Community Tech promised the “top N” wishes and tried to grant them between July and June. Sometimes wishes took longer than anticipated due to complexity. Other times it meant the team was rushing to get something finished. Also, this meant the team could get into situations of “over-promising” which could limit volunteers' trust.

In 2020, Community Tech stepped away from promising a total number of wishes they would grant.

How can I stay informed about the progress of the work?[edit]

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What if a lot of people vote to support a bad idea?[edit]


The Oppose and Neutral votes are very helpful in raising potential downsides. For controversial wishes, Community Tech balances the voting with a more consensus-based review.

As an example, this worked in the 2015 survey: The wish to "add a user watchlist" received a lot of votes but also some heartfelt Oppose votes. Community Tech listened to all sides, and made a decision on whether to pursue the project or not.

About the survey and the team[edit]

Does this survey determine all technical changes in Wikimedia?[edit]

No.

In the Wikimedia movement, there are many organizations and individuals who work on technical changes. There are volunteers, Wikimedia affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation. The Community Wishlist Survey is only a project of one organization, the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Wikimedia Foundation has two departments working on technical projects: Product and Technology. In each department, there are many teams. The Community Wishlist Survey is only a project of one team, Community Tech.

Why are you doing a new survey this year…[edit]

…instead of addressing other wishes from older surveys?

Community Tech wants to keep our priorities in line with the communities' priority needs!

As software evolves, so do the users' needs. Sometimes a really good wish from last year isn't so important anymore, or the description has simply become outdated. Conducting the survey annually helps reconfirm what the community needs.

Do you only build new things?[edit]

No.

Community Tech also spends part of our time maintaining features they built in the past. This may, and sometimes does affect how effectively the team finishes their work on new changes.

What's the history of the survey?[edit]

Danny Horn, former manager in Community Tech, presenting the Community Wishlist Survey at Wikimania 2017

The creation of the Community Tech team is a direct outcome of requests from core contributors for improved support for moderation tools, bots, and the other features that help the Wikimedia projects succeed.

This survey process was developed by Wikimedia Deutschland's Technical Wishes team, who run a wishlist survey on the German-language Wikipedia.

In November, 2015, Community Tech conducted the first Community Wishlist Survey, to help identify the features and fixes that are most important to Wikimedia editors. The team invited contributors from all Wikimedia projects to submit proposals. After two weeks of collecting proposals, the team asked them to vote on the proposals they were most interested in. The process has been repeated every year since.

How can I change things for next year?[edit]

If you've got suggestions to improve the process, feel free to write on the survey talk page. We'd be happy to talk about any ideas that you have! You can write in any language.

Contact[edit]

Questions or feedback are welcome. You can ask them on the talk page or at Talk to Us meetings.

You can also contact:

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