Tech/News/Reader feedback/2017/Analysis

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Tech News has thousands of readers. This is a analysis of feedback left by 25 of those. It’d be highly inadvisable to treat this as a representative survey.

This is an analysis of feedback from m:Talk:Tech/News/Reader feedback/2017. It's based on this version. Later replies are also taken into account, of course, even if they're not mentioned here.

Language, content, details[edit]

The overwhelming majority find the style and language of Tech News easy to read. It’s not great literature, but it does what it’s supposed to.

A large majority think they get the right amount information, with a few pointing out that they don’t know what they’re missing.

Technical details seem to be the right level – most editors saying they like it as it is, a few asking for more, a few asking for less.

A lot of comments on the level being OK because you can read up on Phabricator. This is inaccessible to those who don’t speak English. Non-technical items for non-technical users should, if at all possible, be explained in the newsletter itself.

Specific actions recommended in the feedback[edit]

A curated list of all changes (the actual list is very long, and while Tech News is an attempt to highlight the most important of these, by necessity, it leaves a lot out.

Difficult. See this discussion.

Instead of weekly newsletter, update on important changes where they take place – something in preferences? Let users know when they open the preferences tab the next time – and leave the rest to those who truly seek out the information.

A fair bit more time-consuming, as well as take away the place to get a brief overview of changes so you know to go to the preferences tab in the first place? I'm not sure there is an either/or case here. The solutions are not mutually exclusive.

Let me see where [1] goes to, e.g. [[phab:T163251]].

Reasonable request, but would make it harder on the translators. Would it work well with RTL? Not all languages use the Latin script. Not all languages use Western Arabic numerals. They’d might have to be translated. One of the main reasons we do it the way we do it is because it makes it possible to leave it outside the translate tags, thus lessening the burden on the translators.

Broadcast to more editors.

We can’t force it on folks and anyone is free to sign up for Tech News delivery, but are there other ways we could make it more available in? The CE Insights survey indicated a lot of people like their news coming on mailing lists. Sending to more of those? wikimediaannounce-l?

Add a ”did you know …?” or something related to common technical problems or things folks might have missed.

This could be useful, but is Tech News the right place? Are the Tech News writers the right persons to do it? (If not – where?)

Connect with users and their reactions – monitor feedback?

This sounds very difficult given the high number of community pages. Maybe the footer could be clearer about where to leave feedback and then we can ping the right persons? We could have instructions for pinging us, but then that’d change from week to week if someone is gone and the translators would have to retranslate the footer.

A ”check what branch my wiki is on right now" tool.

That’d be nice, and possibly much better than the MediaWiki train information we have now. We'll include it when we do an update to the recurrent items.

When something is reverted, it’s unrealistic to expect the distributed newsletter to be updated, but the Phabricator task linked to in the newsletter should be updated at the top of the description.

This makes a world of sense.

Make videos explaining the problem.

This would be very helpful. The Tech News writers couldn't possibly do it, the days don't have enough hours. Could we get someone else to?

Feedback that's not about specific actions, but would affect how the items are picked or phrased[edit]

High-impact changes that only affect newcomers are not highlighted enough. Experienced editors need to know about these, or they’ll not be able to help newcomers.

There should be a larger focus on the story behind the changes, on how the wikis work together.

More links to documentation and planning.

More about future news – the things being planned, discussed, the plans dismissed.

More about Wikidata.

More updates on how we are doing when it comes to frequently requested features.


It’s not always obvious what’s meant for less technical users.

If there’s an update about a script, explain what the script is doing. Don’t assume the reader will know this.

Seems out of date, meetings that have already happened.

It’s not uncommon for Tech News to be distributed around 20 hours before many of the meetings advertised in the newsletter take place. This means some will read it days after the meeting happened. This is unfortunate, but I think putting them in the newsletter more than a week in beforehand would be even worse, given that there will be another newsletter in between.

It’s not obvious what’s a high-impact change and what’s not. A script changes – does this affect a small minority of users? Or will it break tools that a large number of active editors depend on?

We rely on links to Phabricator. This can make fore a confusing jump: you either get two sentences, or a very long technical discussion.

It’s also been pointed out previously that this is inaccessible if you don’t speak English.

To-do list[edit]

  • Add link for where to react to changes so we can guide them to the right place?
  • Add "check which branch my version is on" tool to "the changes later this week" item.
  • Update Phab descriptions when something is rolled back. Get this into the instructions.
  • Consider which email lists that would appreciate getting Tech News, and ask them if they want it?
  • Consider other places for suggested technical information that might not fit, or if the best solution is to add missing sections to Tech News.

What do we really need to do with the content?[edit]

  • Probably write more about future changes, plans and discussions.
  • Attempt to get better at explaining when something is a high-impact change.