Talk:Community Tech/Watchlist Expiry

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We have provided some questions below, which we invite everyone to discuss on the Talk page. Your feedback is crucial and will help inform our next steps. Thank you in advance! IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:34, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

Have we covered the main reasons why someone may watch a page temporarily?[edit]

  • I would extend the second point to cover watching an article after any edit (not just reverting vandalism) but I don't that affects the technical solutions. Certes (talk) 16:27, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    Great point, @Certes: I've updated the project page with this suggestion. IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:22, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • One key reason for the English Wikipedia (and some others) is omitted: to monitor AfC drafts that the user has accepted until the article becomes stable, or in case it's nominated for deletion etc., similar but distinct to the NPP case. — Bilorv (talk) 18:50, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    Thanks for this info, @Bilorv: While I imagine there is no standard amount of time for monitoring AfC drafts, what would you say are common timeframes that could be applied (for example, one day, one week, etc)? Thanks! --IFried (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
    Probably similar to those for NPP - for me, I'd want to use 2 days or 1 week or 1 month. — Bilorv (talk) 22:38, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
    Thanks for the prompt response, @Bilorv:! Noted.
  • Yes that covers all of the common reasons I can think of. As a programmer, I think that list probably gives abundant coverage to understand and detail the desired functionality for this feature. Alsee (talk) 19:44, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    Great to hear. Thanks, @Alsee:!
  • Agree with Certes above: keeping an eye on a page after I've made an edit, in case someone reverts, corrects, expands, or does anything else interesting to the page. PamD (talk) 21:04, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • A common case from my experience not mentioned here: following changes on some pages during the periods they are heavily edited, like rewriting templates or good/featured article candidate preparation. For example, I may want to follow how some other user is rewriting a template — NickK (talk) 21:59, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    Thanks, @NickK: This makes a lot of sense. I imagine that there are many different types of scenarios that this can be applied to, but the general principle is that some pages have increased interest for a limited amount of time. This roughly applies to some use cases we spelled out, but I think the examples you provided add some great context. I'll update the project page with some of this info. Thanks! --IFried (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm surprised that the biggest reason I asked for this tool isn't here: pages temporary by design, like XfDs, SPIs, GANs, FACs, DYK nominations, etc. All of these are usually archived when closed, so maybe that could be something the tool looks for and could automatically remove from the watchlist. Daniel Case (talk) 20:31, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
    • General reason: I have more than 5600 articles on my watch list. To avoid that this list is growing and getting out of control, to have a more cleaned up watchlist and a better overview, a watchlist expiry would be helpful. I just need a tool that supports me in cleaning up my watchlist from time to time without effort. In many cases, I know from the begining that I only want to watch an article for a limited period of time.
      Reason n° 13: I'm supporting a new editor as mentor (German WP) and want to watch an article for the period I'm helping this mentee. --Albinfo (talk) 20:34, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
      • @Albinfo: Thanks for providing some context and background information. Also, I have expanded point #6 to include the mentor example that you mentioned. IFried (WMF) (talk) 17:47, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
      • @Izno: I had understood "monitoring conversations" as referring to talk page discussions rather than the sort of formal processes I was describing. Daniel Case (talk) 14:34, 2 October 2019 (UTC)
        • @Izno and Daniel Case: Yup, this is point #9. I can certainly expand and clarify the point to include some of the examples provided above as well. Thanks!
  • A contributor may wish to watch a talk page until a particular discussion has ended (or been archived. Ths may also apply to RfCs, etc. on non talk pages (e.g. Wikipedia: namespace). Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 17:50, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @Pigsonthewing: Thank you! I have expanded point #9 to talk more generally about timeboxed discussions or pages, so I believe it now covers the use cases you mentioned. IFried (WMF) (talk) 16:30, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • A reader may watch a page about a pending or recent event (a sports event or election, or a recent death, say). Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 17:50, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @Pigsonthewing: Yup, this can also be readers (great point). I'll update the project page to make this more clear. IFried (WMF) (talk) 16:32, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Great, but just note that instead of users (especially admins), something like users (especially patrollers) would be better here. --Framawiki (talk) 18:57, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
    • @Framawiki: Great point! Thank you for pointing out that distinction. I've updated the page, as per your suggestion. IFried (WMF) (talk) 16:28, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

What are the most common reasons you, personally, watch a page temporarily?[edit]

  • My main reasons fall into the general area of watching a page I edited, in case other editors make relevant contributions. Specifically, cases 2. (extended beyond reverting vandalism) and 7. (talk replies) cover them. Certes (talk) 16:27, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Probably the most common and important reason is when I leave a message or warning on a new user's personal talk page. They may not yet know how to contact me (or anyone else). They may write a reply on their talk page without realizing that no one will see it unless (1) they ping me, or (2) I watchlist their talk page. I don't want to accumulate endless random user_talk pages on my watchlist. A week or a month is enough to reliably catch replies intended for me. Alsee (talk) 19:58, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Agree with Certes: watching for reversion, correction, improvement or anything else relevant to my recent edits. And on talk pages, it's generally 7, though I would much rather see a different change, the ability to watchlist just one section/conversation on a talk page. PamD (talk) 21:06, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • For articles, templates etc., I would summarise in a one sentence: a page I am not genuinely interested in but due to my (revert, unprotection) or someone else's activity (current event, heavily edited) want to follow for a short time. For talk pages, most frequently it is a talk page of a user I wrote to and I want to follow their replies — NickK (talk) 22:04, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • To be able to keep an eye on pages I have little to no interest in for a limited period, because of fixes/reversions I made. Bruce1ee (talk) 09:39, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Probably 2/3 of the pages I currently watch I want to watch only temporarily. This can be for any number of reasons, but mostly so that I could stay in the loop in case somebody else objects to or makes a correction to something I've done. Less commonly, it will be so that I could keep an eye on a particular discussion when the page that the discussion is on is not a page that I would otherwise be interested in. Uanfala (talk) 11:46, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • a) Low-intensive discussions, b) I've asked for comments on something on a page with little traffic, c) watching a page that's currently experiencing vandalism, or has a higher risk of vandalism than normally (been in the media, election time etc). /Julle (talk) 20:55, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
  • N° 1, 2, 7, 8, 11 (heavily editing), 13 (mentee) --Albinfo (talk) 20:34, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Mostly vandalism / POV pushing, as said by others here. --Framawiki (talk) 18:58, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Temporary discussions, as I said above. Daniel Case (talk) 01:38, 2 October 2019 (UTC)

Thank you, everyone! In summary, it appears that the most common reasons that people want to watch pages temporarily are to monitor a change they have recently made (point #2 in project page) or to follow a conversation that involves them, in some capacity (point #7). Other common reasons that were mentioned were following Talk page conversations in general, regardless of their involvement (point #8), monitoring pages that are more prone to vandalism due to current events (point #1), and temporary discussions (point #9). We will, of course, be thinking of all of the use cases (not just the most popular use cases) when we develop this feature, but it's helpful for us to know the most common ones. --IFried (WMF) (talk) 18:12, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

I'd like to add a discussion of my main reason for wanting this feature. The reason itself has arguably been mentioned but there's a wrinkle that I don't think has been discussed.

I'm active at copy patrol the tool that identifies possible copyright violations. When I select an article, and choose either the "page fixed" for "no action" option, the tool automatically adds that article to my watchlist. I would be happy to have it on my watchlist for a limited period of time, but not forever.

I'm not fully clear on how this temporary watchlist option would be enacted in practice. Given that there is still a need for a permanent watchlist, there will have to be some kind of mechanism for me to choose whether I wanted on my permanent or temporary watchlist. I don't want to have to go through that extra step every time for copy patrol. I don't know precisely where the addition to the watchlist occurs but I would like to make sure that however this option is built, there is the ability to enact it automatically in the copy patrol tool. That might mean that all uses of the tool would have to be in agreement both with the decision to use the temporary option, as well as a consensus on the time (on the assumption that there might be multiple options). I'd be happy with a one month option.

There is a small handful of editors who use this tool and might be appropriate to query them. They are listed at: CopyPatrol leaderboard. as you can see, we are talking about tens of thousands of edits. While some are repeats, most are unique so talking about roughly the same number of watch list entries.

I did add my name to the form asking for testing volunteers.--Sphilbrick (talk) 13:25, 21 October 2019 (UTC)

What are the most common timeranges for you to watch a page temporarily (e.g. one week, one month, six months, etc)? And why those timeranges, in particular?[edit]

  • A time range of one week to one month would work well for me. Certes (talk) 16:27, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • It depends on the case: one week for articles that may have a bit of traffic for any reason, one month for articles where newcomers are supposed to take action on. Over those time periods, I put articles in my watchlist for good, because it means a permanent monitoring. Have a way to manually set a time would help too. For instance when you watch pages that are about or targeted by an event with an end date (like a contest). Some pages have an expiration date, like technical questions on fr.wp, where we have a weekly page. There is no need to monitor an old page 3 weeks after the end of the current week (except if some questions remain unanswered). So have a way to set an expiration time when you monitor the page would be greatly helpful. Trizek from FR 16:29, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I second Trizek's comment about manually setting a time. Also, as an admin, I think it would be beneficial to have an option where, if you protect a page, it gets automatically watchlisted for double the length of the protection (so if you protect it for 24 hours, you watch it for 48. If you protect it for 2 months, you watch it for 4 months). ONUnicorn (talk) 16:35, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • For discussions, probably 24, 36, 48, 72 and 168 hours are settings I would all use. Either I just want to see short-term discussion or I want to watch the discussion forever. For articles, I'd say 48 and 168 hours would be the most common for me, but I can see plenty of reasons to watch something for 24 hours (e.g. monitoring Main Page content). There aren't many reasons why I'd watch something for a month or longer, but not want to watch it forever. — Bilorv (talk) 18:50, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I'd say a week and a month would probably be the main ones. Those values are mentally-convenient, they are good for reliably catching responses from other users, and community workflows typically have a timescale of a week or a month. Maybe include another default option in the 3-6 month range, to cover anything (like an RFC) that may overshoot the month timescale or to watch an article semi-longterm. I would also expect to have custom-time option. I'd suggest pre-filling the custom option with the last-used custom time. I expect people who use the custom option will, with high likelihood, reuse the same custom value repeatedly. Alsee (talk) 20:16, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I think a choice of a week, a month, 6 months, would be useful: a week to monitor reactions to edits where they may be someone else actively editing with different views; a month for talk page discussions, where the editor involved may only be an occasional editor; 6 months ... just feels as if it could be useful. PamD (talk) 21:13, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • For me I'd be happy with a choice of a week or a month, but I'd accept any of the other suggestions made above. Bruce1ee (talk) 09:40, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I would like to be able to set the precise period myself, depending on the circumstances. I can envisage needing anything between two days and two years, with most cases falling between one week and three months. Uanfala (talk) 11:26, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Three days (some discussions, some vandalised pages), a week/ten days (other discussions, waiting for comments), a month (longer discussions, waiting for comments). Longer than a month and I'd just put it on my watchlist forever (or until manually removed). /Julle (talk) 20:52, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Depends. From days (1) to two-four weeks (2, 7, 8) and one-two months (11 = heaviliy editing) to six months (13 = mentee). --Albinfo (talk) 20:34, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
  • For my usage (deal with vandalism), two periods, one of two weeks and another of few months would be a nice to have. --Framawiki (talk) 19:00, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Two months for pages that are added to my watchlist automatically and indefinite for those I specifically choose would do for me.Anne Delong (talk) 12:38, 2 October 2019 (UTC)
  • It depends on the type of discussion. Peer reviews have a deadline of a month, after which it can be closed if no one's responded. FACs can go on for weeks. While I had one memorable DYK that went on for a full summer, most of them are usually closed within a week. Daniel Case (talk) 05:55, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Thank you, everyone! In summary, it appears that one week and one month are the most commonly desired timeranges. Other commonly desired timeranges are one day, two/three months, and six months. In addition, there's an interest in being able to manually set timeranges. We'll use this information to help guide the next stage of our research and analysis. --IFried (WMF) (talk) 18:59, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

User testing[edit]

Would you like to be included in the usability testing for this feature? We'll be using to gather structured feedback and reactions on the prototype. We'll post the prototype on Meta-Wiki for feedback, as well. If you're interested in participating in the usability test (it would really help us, if you do!), you can leave your email address in this form. thanks, IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:34, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

I would be happy to help test. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 16:18, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
I also wouldn't mind testing. ONUnicorn (talk) 16:36, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
With over 7200 pages on my watchlist, I'd love to test.Onel5969 TT me 17:17, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
I probably won't be doing, but I'd be happy to test the prototype when it's available. Just ping me. I happen to be a programmer and I've got a pretty solid sense of community expectations, so I'm good at both catching issues and putting them in a form useful for developers. Alsee (talk) 20:26, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
Yes, count me in. PamD (talk) 21:09, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
Maybe --Albinfo (talk) 20:34, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I also want test it :-). --Patriccck (talk) 16:55, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

@Barkeep49, ONUnicorn, Onel5969, Alsee, PamD, Albinfo, and Patriccck: Thanks for your response! If you already participating in the usability testing, thank you very much. If you haven't yet (and are still interested), you can leave your email address in this form. Finally, if you're interested in providing feedback at a later date, we'll be sure to update the community when we have some working ideas of the behavior and user flow. Much appreciated! --IFried (WMF) (talk) 20:37, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

Other comments[edit]

  • It would be useful if I could see the items on my temporary watchlist and my permanent watchlist separately, or if they had a different marking on the watchlist. Part of the reason I would want to have a temporary setting is so that I can work out faster why I watched the page - if it's a page name I don't immediately recognise, maybe I watched it for AfC/NPP reasons (so I care about edits until the article is stable), maybe it's an article attached to a discussion I'm following (so I don't care about the edit), maybe I wanted to watch it permanently due to long-term vandalism or few other people watching it (so I care if the edit is by an IP or new user) etc. For simplicity, just the boolean temporary/permanent status would help distinguish some of these categories for me. — Bilorv (talk) 18:50, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    Second that. I sometimes ask myself "why am I watching this article?" and then "oh yeah, I unprotected it recently" — NickK (talk) 22:06, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
    That's absolutely necessary! It can sometimes be difficult to keep track of why things are on my watchlist. If I see something on my wachtlist that I don't recall, I'd normally investigate and possibly unwatch: it will save time if I could see straight away if the page is on my watchlist only temporarily. Also, a page that I'm watching temporarily might start displaying activity that would make it necessary for me to watch it for longer and so I'd need to change the expiry. Uanfala (talk) 11:41, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
    Yes, please! I was spending so much time trying to keep my watchlist at a manageable size that I've mostly stopped looking at it. It would be so much simpler if the ones I'd specifically chosen to watch because I was interested in them were listed separately from those that were on my list because I'd recently edited or reviewed them. An option in the watchlist editor to move an item on the temporary list to the indefinite list would be helpful.
  • The ability to watchlist just one section of a talk page, either temporarily or permanently (though it wouldn't really matter which, as tp sections are almost always transient), would be another great improvement: I want to follow the conversation I'm involved in, but some editors have umpteen simultaneous active threads of discussion which clutter up my watchlist. PamD (talk) 21:13, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • A noteworthy point is whether a Notification should be generated when an item is auto-removed from the watchlist. The three answers I see are (1) No notification; (2) Always notify; (3) have a checkbox for expiry-notification on the interface when you select watchlist-duration. I can see good arguments for each possibility, but I think the right answer is either Always notify or to have a checkbox-defaulted-to-off. If multiple items are removed at the same time, the notification should be batched. (5 items have expired from your watchlist. [v]View list) Note that this effectively resolves the Timed-Article-Reminder feature. The only differences are that a pure Timed-Article-Reminder wouldn't make the page appear on the watchlist itself, and that a Reminder and a watchlist-entry can exist simultaneously for a single page. I expect it would take very little modification to implement Reminders using the same code as watchlist-expiry. It would be a big win for code-complexity and dev-time for one team to merge these two features into a single implementation. Alsee (talk) 22:28, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • My image for the User Interface is to add a [v]dropdown next to the watchlist-star. Note that timed-article-reminders and section-watchlisting(per talk page consultation) controls also belong on this dropdown. The dropdown would have a radio button resembling the following:
    • o Watch this page. (Note: This would add a standard full pagewatch.)
    • o Unwatch this page. (Note: exactly one of Watch or Unwatch option is grayed-out, depending on whether the page already has a watch.)
    • o Watch this page for 1 week.
    • o Watch this page for 1 month.
    • o Watch for custom duration: [    ] o Days o Months o Years
    • o Section Watchlisting (Note: Selecting this would open a sub-menu with a check box to watch-for-new-sections and a checkbox for each section on the page.)
    • o Add timed notification reminder for this page: [    ] o Days o Months o Years (Note: If a reminder exists, this would become an option to change-or-remove the reminder) Alsee (talk) 22:28, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Once it is implemented and stable, it would be worth considering if any edit marked as "minor" should automatically get a watchlist expiry. --Dcheney (talk) 04:00, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • It will be really helpful if the watch icon is different for temporarily watched pages: I might want to take a long-term interest in a page I'm only watching temporarily, and vice versa. Uanfala (talk) 11:41, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I'd want this to be integrated with the Twinkle preferences panel. It has many options of the form "When I do action X with Twinkle, put the page on my watchlist". It's those that cause my watchlist to grow without bound, and configuration options for time-limited watching would prevent this. -- John of Reading (talk) 17:07, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • There are a few user settings for automatically watchlisting pages you edit/create/upload/move. I find this feature quite useful, and wonder how expiry could play into this. For example, it might be useful to be able to set a default watchlist expiry time for pages I edit - I'm much more likely to only want to watch a page for a short amount of time if it's been watchlisted automatically. I'm not sure how the workflow would look for 'upgrading' a page to permanent watchlist status though. Samwalton9 (talk) 10:00, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

Thank you, everyone, for this wonderful feedback and list of additional considerations! We'll look into the ideas presented here, and see what is manageable and within the scope of the project. Also, please do add any additional thoughts that may come up, as I'll continue to watch this page. --IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:14, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

  • I share the "image" of user:Alsee of the dropdown box. My watchlist has become unmanageable and it is very time-consuming to trim it with really just the option of deleting it and starting over. Some of the ideas seem fantastic:
    A temporary watchlist and a permanent watchlist separately.
    An option in the watchlist editor to move an item on the temporary list to the indefinite list would be helpful
    "Minor edits" getting an automatic watchlist expiry. Otr500 (talk) 03:11, 19 October 2019 (UTC)

An idea[edit]

An idea has been brought up to me a while ago and it's a quick way to unwatch things on Watchlist. Having that helps users' workflow by letting them unwatch pages that are too noisy. Amir (talk) 21:48, 25 September 2019 (UTC)

That is an option in Preferences on EN wiki. Do you have it on your home wiki? I agree it is helpful. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 22:25, 25 September 2019 (UTC)
That feature is in MediaWiki core, so it's on every wiki. It's not specific to English Wikipedia. – Ammarpad (talk) 07:57, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
Maybe it should be turned on by default? I didn't know such option exists and I've been editing wikipedia for more than 13 years... Amir (talk) 19:06, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
@Amir, Well, it was added since MW 1.30.0. As for not knowing about it, maybe it was not advertised enough at the time. – Ammarpad (talk) 07:56, 29 September 2019 (UTC)

Good idea[edit]

This is very good idea. When will be this feature released? --Patriccck (talk) 16:53, 30 September 2019 (UTC)

@Patriccck: That's great to hear! We're currently conducting research and analysis on this project, and we hope to begin development work soon. We'll post updates over the course of the project. Thanks! --IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:17, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

Related idea[edit]

It would also be useful to be able to watch sections of long pages, such as AN/I and other noticeboards. The traffic on these pages is such that if one marks them to be watched, they would be on one's watchlist all the time. If one could mark a particular discussion, instead of the entire page, it would only show up on the watchlist when an addition to that discussion was posted. Beyond My Ken (talk) 02:20, 3 October 2019 (UTC)

Hear, hear! Nick Moyes (talk) 07:49, 3 October 2019 (UTC)
+1 Daniel Case (talk) 17:15, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
Oh yes! This would be a terrific idea if possible. I would support this 110%! --TheSandDoctor Talk 05:34, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
@Beyond My Ken, Nick Moyes, and TheSandDoctor: Thanks for sharing this feedback! This is an interesting idea, and I see how it could be useful to many people. It may not be within the scope of this particular project (since we're focusing on the ability to watch a page temporarily rather than watching sections of a page), but it could be a future wishlist proposal. --IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:30, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

An awesome idea![edit]

I just stumbled across this thanks to the enwiki administrator newsletter. I must say that this is a fantastic idea and something that I truly hope gets developed. I have in excess of 3100 pages watchlisted, most of which I have no interest in maintaining longterm (I've already probably had some since 2017). This would be a great way for me to stop my watchlist growing exponentially. --TheSandDoctor Talk 05:34, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

@TheSandDoctor: Wow, 3100 watched pages! Yes, we certainly hope that this feature can help you (and users like you) to have a more customizable, manageable watchlist experience. Thanks for the supportive words & general feedback. --IFried (WMF) (talk) 19:25, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
@IFried (WMF): I have less than 2000, because I do regularly prune the list to be reasonable, but on en wiki I understand some power users may have in excess of ten of thousands pages in their watchlists (mostly probably accrued from the "add pages I edit to my watchlist" preferences option). This feature is clearly overdue. – Ammarpad (talk) 03:50, 28 October 2019 (UTC)