Share watchlists

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This page has hardly been updated since 2005. See en:Help:Public watchlist for another perspective.

Problem Statement[edit]


I'd love to be able to share my watch list with others, and see others watch lists... so I can get a feel for who really cares about cerain pages for communication purposes-- before an edit. ( at 01:07, 15 August 2004 by User:AaronPeterson )

I would really like to make my watchlist public. Ideally it would be available for any to user to load, copy at will, receive through xml/rss/api , etc. I am sure there are others who would enjoy having these abilities optionally available. One enticing result would be the ability to further analyse how people use watchlists and wikipedia in general. I see only good things coming from a make public checkbox in watchlist preferences. Per page settings would be amazing. For use with database dumps too. Lets open up these relationships! hereen:♠ 06:44, 17 November 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Feature request[edit]

  1. Have an opt-in share watchlist user preference.
  2. Allow importing/exporting/linking external watchlists using XML wrapper, possibly OPML or similar.
  3. Possibly show a who is watching this page function.
  4. Possibly allow per page privacy options in users watchlists.

Open Discussion[edit]


  1. Allow detailed relational and network analysis of user's actual watchlists.
    1. Interest clouds / focal points
    2. User to User, nearly all major internet communities use very transparent user networking to promote community. (i.e. flickr, social networking sites, blogrolls, etc). I think wikipedia could benefit immensely by making these relationships more explicit.

Hacks and Workarounds[edit]

  1. Recent changes
    • No code changes needed
    • Would be nice to automate process of creating page.
  2. Scripting into a public page ( see en:Category:Wikipedia_user_watchlists )
    • Using a greasemonkey or a user script could be written to copy user watchlists to a specified user sub page (ex: en:User:Here/watchlist ). Using categories or whatlinkshere, these pages could be imported into a network analysis tool.
  3. Related changes of a "watchlist page"
    • instead of using the actual Special:Watchlist create a new page, for example User:Jorges/Our shared watchlist
    • put links to pages you'd like to watch
    • click on Related changes in the toolbox of the left side
    • now you see all changes on pages you put a link to. And everybody else can too. Others can also edit your new "watchlist".


  • Privacy is a big one, users should have to opt in to sharing their watch lists.
    • I certainly share the privacy concern (esp. with sites like Wikipedia) but there are organizations such as ours considering adoption of MediaWiki as a "corporate" intranet (actually, we're a government agency). Typically such organizations have acceptable use policies and employees don't really have any legal expectation of privacy; the content on the Wiki (as with emails, web browsing, etc.) should nearly always be work related. So in this context, I would argue that user watch list visibility should be a default, not even an opt in feature. What I would really like to see is a "who is watching this page" feature. This will greatly facilitate the culture change needed to get people out of the habit of emailing each other. SourceForge is an example of a collaboration platform that uses this feature. I am new to this Wiki; so apologies if this is a dumb question (and an inappropriate edit), but is it possible to develop this as an optional feature or plugin? Why can't we have it both ways? Susan.parker 15:37, 19 August 2008 (UTC)[reply]
      • PS: What's more, in government, most of what we do is subject to public records laws and FOIA.


Prior conversation[edit]

December 2005 Wikimedia Research Network[edit]

Extensive discussion from 2003[edit]

Need to further summarize 2003 discussion and/or move bulk to talk page.

Final comments from Talk:Watchlist privacy by --User:Brion VIBBER 22:20, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

  1. Just a note for those just stumbling on this discussion: THERE WILL NOT BE A FEATURE WHICH ALLOWS ARBITRARY PEOPLE TO SEE WHAT PAGES OTHER USERS ARE WATCHING WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. There is substantial opposition to such a feature among users and developers, and it would never be done.
  2. Hypothetically "opt-in" shared watchlists are a possibility, but pages of links (and if the feature is ever completed, categories) can already do this more flexibly.
  3. If there is time and interest and it's not problematic to the server and someone wants to code it, a feature could be added to list the number of users watching a given page.

Summary of Talk:Watchlist privacy[edit]

  • Server load issue raised.
  • Many irate no comments claiming the idea is ridiculous.
  • Much of the same as email summary below.
  • Extended untranslated conversation in french from fr: villiage pump
  • please pull additional comments if desired...

WikiEN-l Threads Oct2003[edit]

I attempted to pull a majority of unique contributing ideas from the conversation. This list should not be considered as showing quantity of support. There are many additional comments, often simply support/against, which I have left out.

  1. Wikipedia benefits the more open the actions and behavior of its participants are to each other and to the outside world. Qui custodiet custodies? Omnia mundi in Wikipediam. (Toby Bartels: "Who watches the guards? The entire world in Wikipedia." ) Don't confuse this with actual invasions of privacy. --The Cunctator
  2. I am opposed, in principle, to any decision that limits peoples' options with no good cause. Just because YOU (editorial you) don't want your watchlist public is no reason to keep others from making theirs' public. -Dante Alighieri
  3. I'd even like to have multiple watchlists, each with: a name; a setting for publicly viewable, or hidden; a setting for publicly editable, or personally controlled -Poor, Edmund W (Anthere
  1. I'm STRONGLY against this, to the extent that I'd withdraw from wikipedia with a demand that any history of pages I'd watched be deleted from public record if it were to be implemeted. Suffice to say many of us watch certain pages for many differing reasons which are nobody elses business. -Graham Burnett
  2. I don't want folks with an axe to grind to be able to "watch my watching." -Brian Corr
Comments and Conditions[edit]
  1. opt-in (brief discussion supporting opt-out!)
  2. Edit histories are not watchlists and should not be compared.
  3. What would be the purpose of this feature other than "gathering statistics"? What kind of statistics do you hope to gather? --Sascha Noyes aka snoyes
  4. I'd like to be able to add some watchlists to my watchlist so that I could see when they change ;) -Nikola Smolenski
  5. Before watchlists, people kept lists of links on their userpages and used Special:Recentchangeslinked to watch their pages. This was open to public view; if somebody wanted a private watchlist, then I suppose that they just kept their list somewhere else (and were deprived of the convenience of Special:Recentchangeslinked). It's not clear to me whether, in creating Special:Watchlist, the fact that the lists became private was intended or a side effect. -Toby Bartels
  6. seems to me that there are two distinct things: *private lists, and *public lists --and having one of each *might be *better than simply having an option of "open" or "closed." "Watchlist" would refer to the private list --the public list would be called something else. Continuing along these lines could open up a whole new way to look at WP and how people interact --conference calls, etc, outside of attached-to-article talk. -Stevertigo
  7. Sysops can presently look at watchlist data via sql, but this is simply an oversight which can be corrected. ...and now is. [1] -Brion Vibber

New comments on 2003 discussion[edit]

  • Central issue to old discussion of Users watching this page has been partially fixed using Enotif (see buzilla 727)
  • Related changes of public pages will unfortunately not suffice for deeper analysis of users watch habits and networks.

Related forums[edit]

See also[edit]