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Community Wishlist Survey 2021/Watchlists/Allow administrators to access the user list that watches over a particular page

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Allow administrators to access the user list that watches over a particular page

  • Problem: According to en:Help:Watchlist, "No user, not even administrators, can tell what is in your watchlist, or who is watching any particular page. Publicly available database dumps do not include this information either. Only developers who have access to the servers that hold the Wikipedia database could obtain this kind of information". This prevents the community from knowing the exact number of watches, as many users have abandoned the project and others are not even present to protect the page from vandalism. In addition, the information on the page, containing "Number of page watchers" and "Number of page watchers who visited recent edits" (see example) does not have a list that checks these accounts that have watched the page, which is insufficient to prove whether there are watches active or not. The idea is that each page is allowed access to check the list of accounts that have watched a specific page. In this case, only trusted users could have access to the names of users who watched the page: administrators (sysops).
  • Who would benefit: The administrators (sysops) would benefit, since they were elected by the local community to have access to system tools. It is up to them to check a page the list of users who watched that article, template, category, other domains. This proposal must be submitted to all global Wikimedia projects with active sysops.
  • Proposed solution: Allow administrators to access the list of users who have watched a page, whose list on a special page in their edit history. This model is important so that we can check the pages that still have active or inactive users, and which pages are more susceptible to vandalism based on the number of watches on a particular page.
  1. Click on "View history";
  2. On "External tools", below will be created "Special page for administrators", a new special page that will be part of the user group rights list: (userlistwatchedpages)
  3. All administrators will be able to view the list of users on this specific page, in addition to number of page watchers who visited recent edits.
  • More comments: Recalling that this proposal does not violate the privacy policy, as the idea is to make administrators (sysop) have access to the user list of only one particular page, and not the entire list of pages watched by a specific user. Therefore, it is important that there is no such confusion, as this model will bring more benefit to the pages and to every local project.
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: WikiFer msg 19:45, 24 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]


  • For anonymity concerns, if this feature would be approved, it must be available only to a very small group of trustworthy users (definitely not all admins – I'm saying it as a local admin), e.g. someone like CU. — Draceane talkcontrib. 16:32, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@User:Draceane There will be no privacy or anonymity issues, as local administrators will only have access to the user list for a specific page. No administrator will have access to the list of articles monitored by a specific user, which is not the purpose of the proposal. Therefore, it is ideal that it does not confuse the main reason for this proposal. The idea of administrators having access to this list is just to know which pages have active users or not, as many pages are the target of vandalism. However, the inactivity of many old users can bring a fallacious number of watches, which leaves that information wrong, only causing damage to the local project. WikiFer msg 18:19, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I don't like the idea where the watchlist content would be exposed without permit from the user. Technically, this could be achivied also just using number. Ie, count of users with wl_notificationtimestamp = NULL of mw:Manual:Watchlist_table per page. However, I think even this would have privacy problems so it would need to be opt-in feature in the settings. --Zache (talk) 18:31, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@User:Zache The articles have no owner, so user don't would need to allow that admins to access the list of a particular page. As for mw:Manual:Watchlist_table, the number count already exists and it is precisely the problem pointed out, since only numbering shows that it is insufficient to determine who is active or not. Since administrators have access to see deleted page edits and see suppressed editions at the sysop level, there is nothing to prevent them from checking the pages as well. As I said, the articles do not belong to users, but to the local project. No administrator will have access to the list of pages watched by others, just the list of a particular page, something that only developers who would have this access. WikiFer msg 19:07, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
I think that the Number of page watchers who visited recent edits is how many user which have page in their watchlist have visited to the page in the period of last €wgWatchersMaxAge (180 days in wikimedia?) and not how many of them have been seen the all of the edits. (WatchedItemStore:countVisitingWatchers(). --Zache (talk) 20:18, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@User:Zache Yes, there are a number registered users have viewed the page in the past 180 days. However, it should be noted that during this period, it is possible that many of these users are absent from the local project and the system would have to update again to find out the exact number of watches for a particular page. Due to the impossibility of having a correct number of watches in articles A and B (two examples of articles), it is necessary that the complete list of users who watch A and B (special page on history) is visible to trusted users in the community who are the admins. WikiFer msg 20:57, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@User:Dipsacus fullonum You did not understand the proposal properly: no users watchlist will be viewed by administrators, this would violate the privacy policy and this is not the proposal. I am proposing that administrators have access to a list of users who watch a particular page, because only then will it be possible to check whether the page still has active users or not and whether this page remains subject to vandalism, based on the number of users who watch the page and are inactive. Checking a specific page is part of the local system, as well as who checks deleted edits, suppressed editions, everything is limited to one page, being it article, template, category, or even the domain of the local project (Wikipedia domain, for example). It is these pages that would have this resource so that administrators can verify who monitored it. No administrator will know how many pages a user watches as they will only have access to a particular page. WikiFer msg 22:24, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: I think I understood perfectly well. The proposal would make it possible for some users to examine if I have a page on my watchlist or not, that is parts of my watchlist will became exposed as I wrote. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 23:00, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dipsacus fullonum: If you watch more than 5000 pages, it is practically impossible for an administrator to discover that you watch 10% of these pages, that is, they could only find out if you edit on a given page very often, which would be even more obvious that you watch that page. However, no user owns the articles and all pages belong to the project, so it is up to the administrators to be responsible for managing the entire project system, after all they were elected by the local community to comply with the project rules. WikiFer msg 23:19, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: I fail to see what ownership of pages have to do with the proposal. The proposal will reveal information about users' watchlists, and I doubt that is allowed by the privacy policy. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 23:41, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dipsacus fullonum: The ownership policy of the articles is very clear that no one should take possession of a particular article, so there is no violate of privacy policy when an article is being verified, as a page is being verified and not the user's account. On the other hand, I would agree with you if I were proposing that the users watchlist would be viewed by the administrators, which is not true and is not part of my proposal (this would be a violation of privacy, as it would be checking all of a user's watchlists). See below how will be my proposal. I was very objective and this time there is no room for misinterpretation. WikiFer msg 23:53, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: I still see no connection between no ownership of pages and privacy. It is a violating of privacy if other users can see if you have or haven't a page in your watchlist. I see no misinterpretation. Please don't suggest otherwise. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 00:40, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dipsacus fullonum: There is a misinterpretation on your part, as it is confusing the list of users who watch a particular page with the list of pages that belong to a user account. The pages do not have an owner to avoid being checked and I refer exclusively to the pages. For this reason, the property policy of the articles dismantles any narrative of the privacy violation, as it does not exist. WikiFer msg 01:07, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: No, I repeat that I am not confusing those two lists. The type of list you propose will reveal information about all users by telling if any is watching the page or not. No ownership of pages isn't an acceptable reason for violating privacy and I don't understand why you are talking about ownership. Yes, you have no ownership to most pages om most wikis, but I cannot see any relation between this and privacy policy. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 08:09, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dipsacus fullonum: A specific page is insufficient to reveal information about all users, especially if they monitor more than 5000 pages. As I said, there are users who edit many times in a given article, so it is even easier to predict that it watches over that particular page. In addition, in 2015, the global community approved a proposal for any user to monitor the list of user contributions (this proposal completely impacts an account, and you are confusing my proposal that refers to pages with user accounts). Pages are just pieces of the project for building free content, not space for multiple users to appropriate it as the owner of the article. Therefore, page A (example) does not reveal information for multiple users, only details of this page A, just as page B would reveal information only on this page B. I assure you that not all users will have A and B on the watchlist, unless the theme is similar to what the user likes to edit. In your understanding, checking 1 page is like checking all 5000 pages of the user, which is not true. A single page would not reveal even 1% of all pages that the user watches, as a page is limited to information about it. I hope I have clarified even more! WikiFer msg 13:24, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: No, I am not confusing anything, and I am tired of you postulating that. User contributions are public, so monitoring them isn't a breach of privacy. Watchlists aren't public, so the comparision isn't valid. And your talk about ownership is still irrelevant. A list of watchers of a specific page do tell something about all users by saying if each user is watching the page or not. Thus all users' privacy is violated. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 13:36, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Dipsacus fullonum The project pages are also public and watching them does not bring any authority to the user in relation to that particular page (no user has control of the page they watch). Since you insist on talking about a privacy violation which does not exist with regard to articles, answer the following question: Why can administrators check a list of unwatched pages, but cannot check a list of those who watch these pages? Remember that I am talking about pages, they belong to the project and can be verified by the administrators, who are elected by the local community to work with the system tools. WikiFer msg 14:04, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@WikiFer: You asked "Why can administrators check a list of unwatched pages, but cannot check a list of those who watch these pages?" They can probably see a list of unwatched pages because that is considered only a minor privacy problem because that doesn't reveal who watches the watched pages, and they can probably not get a list of watches because that is considered a much more serious privacy problem. I assume that these decisions are made after carefully considering the pro and cons. I think the current situation is an OK balance, but that your proposal will have more disadvantages in form of missing privacy than advantages. --Dipsacus fullonum (talk) 14:53, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Dipsacus fullonum: Users'privacy is limited only to the information and personal data, IP, geographic location and all watchlist by it. The first three are visible to CheckUsers and the latter no one will have access. On the other hand, checking pages is not part of the user's privacy, as it is a public page and belongs to the project (deleted pages also contain deleted editions of users and users who watch, and this has nothing to do with privacy). It is for this reason that my proposal will have no impact on privacy, because it was not made to check users, but the check project pages; this will be taken into account during in the vote. In addition, administrators have the autonomy to comply with all policies and recommendations of the local community, which will be another reason for developers to create this special page with the list of users through a particular page. WikiFer msg 15:38, 28 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  1. Click on "View history";
  2. On "External tools", below will be created "Special page for administrators", a new special page that will be part of the user group rights list: (userlistwatchedpages)
  3. All administrators will be able to view the list of users on this specific page, in addition to number of page watchers who visited recent edits.

I believe that my proposal above is now well understood for everyone. WikiFer msg 23:19, 27 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]

  • It seems you are interested in "knowing the exact number of watches" and "whether there are watches active or not". Both of those things can be done technically without revealing the actual accounts that watch a page. Not to mention the fact that not everyone agrees with your opinion that this proposal would not constitute a privacy violation. Silver hr (talk) 02:45, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    @Silver hr: You just forgot one detail: many users have abandoned the project and others are not even present to protect the page from vandalism. It is important to note that all articles and pages in any domain are public and from the moment a user decides to watch a page, he is transferring his account to the public pages of the project. A good example is the edits that users make on a page, it is recorded in the edition history; and when the article is deleted? Administrators and eliminators have access to their deleted edits, which shows that users have no page ownership and they all assign their accounts to public project pages. In addition, the vote has not yet started, so the narrative of who not everyone agrees with me may seem fallacious, before we know who understood the purpose of the proposal, which is to bring more transparency to the pages, with administrators as reliable users for management their. WikiFer msg 14:56, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    @WikiFer: If it is true that the actual purpose of this proposal is being able to know if there are active watchers for a particular page, why do you not want a solution where server software determines that instead of exposing a list of watchers? OTOH, if the above is not true, what is the actual purpose of this proposal? ("bring more transparency to the pages" is vague and undefined; please state the purpose in practical terms--perhaps with an example.) Silver hr (talk) 15:16, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    @Silver hr: But the proposal is precisely to create a special page for administrators to have access to information who has watched a particular page (proposal title). If you look at the proposed solution, I presented examples with two articles on how the proposal will be applied. At no time does the proposal refer to a single user's watchlist, you misunderstood. As for the transparency of the pages, it is already detailed in the proposal that this information on a specific page will be more evident to know if an article will be well protected or not from watchers in the fight against vandalism. Remembering that many accounts are absent or abandon the project, but the user continues to watch the page as if it were active, which is not true. Just look at the whole proposal. WikiFer msg 15:40, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    @WikiFer: You have not answered my questions. I'll try again, just to be very clear.
    1. Do you want to know if there are active watchers for a particular page? (Yes / No)
      1. If Yes, what use case do you have where having the server tell you that directly is not good enough? Please answer succinctly and concretely.
      2. If No, for what other reason do you need the list of watchers for a particular page? Please answer succinctly and concretely.
    --Silver hr (talk) 16:11, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    1. Yes, I wish that all administrators (sysops) have access to a list of everyone who watches over a particular page of the local project.
      1. The current server does not prove, according to the number of watchers in the article, who is still available in the project to combat possible vandalism in the article or a similar page of the project. For this reason, the server created by the developers will be in the special page format, that is, currently administrators on English Wikipedia use "Unwatchedpages" to access unwatched pages. In my proposal, the server created will also be similar: "Userlistwatchedpages".

I answered all your questions above? The proposal is very simple and will regulate only what the administrators already have in their hands, which is to have access to unwatched pages; this time, having to check the pages with watchers to check whether the page is liable to vandalism based on active or inactive users. WikiFer msg 17:06, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I think Wikilegal or whatever WMF department is responsible ought to sign off on this request before it can go forward. Watchlists may not be private information per se but they have always been treated as such. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 09:04, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

@Jo-Jo Eumerus: I agree that the WMF should comment on my proposal before the vote, not least because it would be a way of proving that there is no violation of the privacy policy when the articles and other pages of the project (which are public) are being verified, and not the users'account. As I said above, once a page is watched by someone, that user is releasing information to a public page that can be managed by trusted users of the project. I have no doubt that WMF will be aware that an account's private information is limited to personal information, IP, geographic location and all of its watchlist (my proposal is limited to just check one particular page). Finally, I understand that if the WMF allows the vote, it means that all narratives about the violation of privacy must be ignored and, consequently, this proposal must be approved, as it aims at the good of the entire project. WikiFer msg 14:56, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

If I can see There are 20 users watching this page, 10 of them were active in last 30 days and 2 have seen this page after last edit - I would agree with this. But When somewere can see User:BigBlue is watching page "List of films with some-weird-sexual-preference - it can be easily recognized as revealing private informations. 21:04, 6 December 2020 (UTC)

@JAn Dudík: His example is interesting, but let's say that User: BigBlue is inactive from the project, we would only know that it is part of the 20 users if there is verification. Even though he watched this page, it is public and belongs to the project. Generally for a page to be checked by administrators, it may have been the target of recurring vandalism or some users or IPs have inserted content into the article. Pages that are poorly edited would hardly be checked, unless the topic is of interest to the administrator who checks. In the example you presented, it is an article that can be a constant target of vandalism, by the related category. However, checking the articles is only for the project to know if the article is in the good hands of active users to prevent vandalism and his example would not demonstrate clarity for how accounts that are active or inactive. WikiFer msg 23:42, 6 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

No! U wrote: "This //en:Help:Watchlist// prevents the community from knowing the exact number of watches...". Your proposal doesn't refer to this problem. Sagivrash (talk) 19:32, 8 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Sagivrash My proposal does refer to this problem, because the number of watches does not reflect the number of users active in the project. WikiFer msg 23:57, 8 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

This proposal is very intrusive and not very useful. User(s) should not be exposed to the fact that they have watched a page. I initially thought you to plan to use this to judge sockpuppetry accounts. Extend existing Special: Unwatched pages to exclude active users can be considered. Listing the users or providing a specific page/user to check is not considered, it is private, and the can be traversed to collect.--YFdyh000 (talk) 22:55, 8 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]