Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Archive/Reply link for talk pages

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


NoN Outside the scope of Community Tech

  • Problem: New editors often have trouble understanding how to reply to comments on talk pages, or signing their messages, etc. Especially for editors used to the Visual editor, using talk pages and the conventions of using repeated colons is clearly confusing to new editors. We need a reply link functionality added to each comment, to make it easier for IPs and new editors to reply to comments on talk pages. While Flow was a disaster because it didn't integrate well with the current system in use, there is a much easier solution in the form of a current user script (en:User:Enterprisey/reply-link) which could be implemented globally to great effect.
  • Who would benefit: Everyone would benefit from this proposal, as it makes talk page communication easier, even for experienced users, but new users and IPs would see the greatest benefit, and it would likely encourage more new people to start participating in discussions, which is the first step to becoming a regular editor.
  • Proposed solution: Improving en:User:Enterprisey/reply-link to the point that it is stable enough to be implemented as a Gadget (it could be turned off if people want to, but it should be defaulted as ON if expected to have any impact on new users). While defaulting it as 'ON' would require community consensus, developing it to be stable enough (with code review) is the important first step.
  • Phabricator tickets: T207567 (not an exact match for this proposal)
  • Proposer: — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here) 08:39, 30 October 2018 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

Well, I was thinking of proposing/suggesting something similar but didn't get around to it - Insertcleverphrasehere. I think this can be re-framed a little clearer as a proposal to improve the reply-link script enough so that it is stable enough to be enabled as a gadget, hopefully as a default one (whether to default is a decision by the community based on how stable/useful the gadget is (and can be done by any interface-admin) not by the community tech team). Galobtter (talk) 09:01, 30 October 2018 (UTC)

@Galobtter: Some good points. I've amended the proposal to address your comments. — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here) 09:13, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
(e/c) :It will never be a stable solution. It's analyzing the intent of people when they wrote wikitext, so by definition there will always be a certain failure rate. Which is also why I suspect that WMF will not want to pursue this, as it will introduce something that will permanently cause failures, with no way of solving them. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:22, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
Yeah I was also wondering how stable it is possible to be. I think something like 99-99.9% success rate could be good enough though - new users create far more mistakes that have to be corrected when they use raw wiki-text/have far more issues with wiki-text than that. Galobtter (talk) 09:28, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
Lemme be clear, I do not think this is a "user facing problem" it's a "people will keep creating tickets for the developers for the few times where it fails and demand it gets fixed but it can never be fixed"-problem. Generally that is something that developers try to avoid adding at all costs. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:41, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
Well, since community tech does not provide ongoing support, we wouldn't direct people to phab for fixes anyhow, and so people would be directed to a talkpage where their complaints can be safely ignored :) Galobtter (talk) 09:58, 30 October 2018 (UTC)

I like the idea, didn't even know that the script exists. Gryllida 22:24, 30 October 2018 (UTC)

  • I like this idea and also didn't know there was a script. I think it would be useful unless there is already an onboarding "wizard" that does this. PopularOutcast (talk) 23:12, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
  • (Author of the script here) Good idea! :) I do share TheDJ's concerns about how this script is practically guaranteed to break occasionally. I haven't made up my mind over whether it impedes this idea from being implemented, though. Enterprisey (talk) 04:44, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Enterprisey pointed to ru:Участник:Jack_who_built_the_house/convenientDiscussions.js which works pretty similarly and was created a few months after reply-link (ping Jack who built the house). I'm curious how well that script works in actually reply/i.e if it has breaks less often. Since they seem so similar though there should be one well tested gadget for this.
Another thing; I think if we're going to be deploying to new users we should make it so that they very rarely have to use manual editing interface for replies in talk pages; one thing that would make this so is to allowing the creation of new sections with this interface. Galobtter (talk) 06:12, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
Probably another thing would be making it work in mobile.. Galobtter (talk) 06:15, 31 October 2018 (UTC)
Hi. Unfortanutely, I haven't done the job of internationalizing the script and fixing various bugs before some very ugly things happened in Russian Wikipedia, depriving me of the will to continue the development. Still, I believe, the script is quite stable, working in most cases. Some people have reported successful usage of it outside of Russian Wikipedia, though it was initially developed based on ruwiki specifics. Jack who built the house (talk) 09:47, 31 October 2018 (UTC)

I like the idea and can see the use, but please allow opt-out. Adding a new icon to every comment adds a lot of stuff to talk pages, and I expect many to not want that. Sure, you can always opt out via a custom script, but that is not the right approach. --mfb (talk) 03:17, 4 November 2018 (UTC)

  • Or...just to get rid of that outdated style of talk page and convert to any other style used online in forums or message boards. Where replying and linking to individual comments is much more natural (and eliminating the need of ever signing or indenting again). --Gonnym (talk) 07:22, 4 November 2018 (UTC)
    Oh you, talking so flowingly. --Izno (talk) 01:00, 6 November 2018 (UTC)
  • As it would be a gadget, one would be able to opt-out in preferences. Galobtter (talk) 12:16, 4 November 2018 (UTC)

Hi Insertcleverphrasehere and others, I have good news and bad news about this proposal. :) The good news is that the Wikimedia Foundation is starting the planning process for a big global Talk pages consultation which will begin in February. The idea is that we need to step back from LiquidThreads and Flow, and start over with a totally public and transparent consultation. We want to bring together as many people as possible, and come to consensus on the problems with talk pages that we want to solve, the good things about talk pages that we want to keep, and the tradeoffs involved in finding a solution that will work for new and experienced editors. You can read a lot more about it on that project page that I linked. The planning has just started, and we're starting to talk about the structure for this consultation and how it's going to work.

The bad news for right now is that we don't want to include proposals about talk pages in the Wishlist Survey voting. No matter what happens in the Wishlist Survey voting, all of the future talk page work will be determined by the Talk pages consultation happening next year. We don't want people to vote for something, and then find out that we still have to have another process before we make any decisions.

But -- these proposals and the discussions that people are having here are important, and I've added a section on the Talk pages consultation page which lists each of the related proposals, so that they can be a part of the public record during this planning stage. We'd like to include all of you in the consultation -- and in the planning, if you're interested. There's a lot to talk about and figure out.

I'm sure this will be disappointing right now; I hope it's also heartening to know that this problem will get a lot of attention next year. Let me know what you think. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 06:40, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

DannyH (WMF) That sound's like the pragmatic approach. I'm sure that Enterprisey will continue working on the script in the meantime. — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here) 08:30, 6 November 2018 (UTC)