On Tech Awareness

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Noto Emoji Oreo 1f4c4.svg This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

Tech Awareness is the concept of making users of Wikimedia projects aware of planned software changes in advance. Such awareness serves some useful purposes, such as:

  • Making the changes match users' expectations, effortlessly, by building these expectations and avoiding surprises.
  • Better testing before release.

Some drawbacks exist, such as increased volumes work required to process user feedback.

A current beta features list[edit]

Beta Features tab — already there at Wikimedia projects.

Extension:BetaFeatures provides a beta link at the top of the screen. The link takes the user to a list of features currently being tested. For each feature, the following is provided:

  • A name.
  • A link to multilingual documentation.
  • A link to a discussion page monitored by WMF Engineering.
  • A one-paragraph description.
  • A large grey-and-blue icon of the project.

Planned release dates[edit]

Potential means of providing additional tech awareness, such as planned release dates, are listed below, in the order of increasing noisiness of those. Support Pro denotes nice things (pros), and Oppose Contra denotes things that are not nice (cons).

Remember, this is not a vote - each thought needs to be listed once only!

Most of these suggestions involve a prerequisite of moving all release plans to something both a Wikimedia project and MediaWiki — which is where the release plans are drafted — can access, such as Wikidata.

Release dates in Beta features[edit]

In the beta tab it should be possible to list the planned release dates for this features, on a per-wiki basis.

  • Oppose Contra Only available to people who are logged in — excludes 99.9% of users.

'Tech news' link in sidebar[edit]

Link to something like Tech/News, but per-project. (This news is now done manually, but is multilingual.)

  • Support Pro Available to people who are not logged in.
  • Oppose Contra Requires visiting itself once in a while or subscribing (via RSS, email, ...).

Sidebar section ☺[edit]

A sidebar section like at StackOverflow ([1]). This has only feature name and date, and probably a very short description.

  • Support Pro Available to people who are not logged in.
  • Support Pro Does not require subscribing, people become aware and only click when they have additional interest.

Popups[edit]

A Popup Guider mock-up.

Things like:

Popups through Echo or when mouse is moved over a Beta tab.

  • Oppose Contra Only available to people who are logged in — excludes 99.9% of users.
  • Oppose Contra Noisy, if on by default. Many users have zero interest in tech sides (to the point of «is this a virus?» or «too complicated» reaction).
People would mentally ignore (“filter out”) popups content, as popups are harder to accidentally encounter and not filter out, as they show up rarely. This loses the potential of users spotting one tech thing they actually care about some day and providing feedback.
  • Oppose Contra Hard to browse a large list of planned releases.