Watchlist privacy

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As of 07:15, 17 November 2005 (UTC) Similar ideas are being considered again at Share watchlists. This page contains conversation from 2003. here

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.

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.

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. --Brion VIBBER 22:20, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

For more discussion, see the parallel WikiEN-L discussion. Here is an incomplete list of posts:

I wish we could see of list of the users watching any given page. This would be a relatively easy feature to implement, as "the computer" already knows this information. It would come in handy the most on pages we're actively working on, and our own user pages. (Of course, I wish for lots of things, including being afforded the same benefit of the doubt as Frank Zappa in naming my own children, but some people just won't have that.) Paul Klenk 19:33, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I don't want people to know what I'm watching. What benefit would it have? Angela 20:03, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Absolutely NOT! People may be watching pages for all sorts of reasons, there are a couple I keep an eye on for my own reasons that I wouldn't want known to the world at large, bearing in mind that absolutely anybody could be monitoring this site and seeing who has an interest in what. quercus robur 20:12, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Big No, No! Since we're on the subject, how come there isn't a privacy policy link (for both editors and viewers) on the main page? You can learn a lot about an individual by seeing what he likes to look up. What information is stored, if/when this information is deleted, etc. Dori 21:02, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Please see and help clean up and finalize the draft privacy policy if you're interested. --Brion 22:56, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I wasn't aware of that page. I am surprised that it is still in draft form. It seems to me that a privacy policy should be among the very first things to be established in such a public forum. I made a few notes in the talk page. I think this draft should be fast-tracked and implemented as soon as possible. It needs more coverage to other editors. I understand that implementing a sound policy will require time with respect to the software involved, but in the meantime it should be made clear to all users what the current status is and what information about them is gathered (even if it is not done for any nefarious reasons). Dori 23:13, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Oh No! This is absolutely a terrible idea. It's perfectly sufficient that we can look at who has edited a page and what they have done. The only reason I can see to know who's watching a page is to be better able to track what someone may decide to edit. Between en:Wikipedia:Problem_users and en:Wikipedia:Vandalism_in_progress and the aforementioned page histories, that seems to provide more than enough resources for tracking things. I imagine that developers can look at someone's Watchlist, and that's fine, but I don't want folks with an axe to grind to be able to "watch my watching." And the idea of having the default be that people can't see one's watchlist is better, but I think the whole idea still undermines Wikifaith and adds an unwelcome level of surveillance. -- BCorr ¤ Брайен 03:35, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)
This was discussed previously on the pump, a few months ago. Someone said that this would be a good feature. I said that sysops could already do it (SQL queries were enabled back then), and that I had done it several times in the past, and that the required SQL was published on my user page. I asked if anyone had a problem with this. IIRC, no one replied, and the discussion ended there.
Obviously people do have a problem with it, they just weren't watching the first time. A possible solution to this problem has been posted to wikien-l [1]. The main reason such a feature would be useful, is when you make a talk page comment addressed to a particular person, and you wish to know whether or not it is necessary to notify them on their user talk page. -- Tim Starling 03:52, Oct 21, 2003 (UTC)
I saw the post on wikien-l, but as I said above I still don't like it. And I've left a note on someone talk page if I'm not sure they'll check mine for a response, and I just don't think it's enough reason for this feature. Even with a negative checkoff, as it were. -- BCorr ¤ Брайен 04:08, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

It appears the nays have it. If we ever do have this feature, it would have to be an opt-in feature, with the default being no access to one's watchlist unless the user chose to make it available. Paul Klenk 04:18, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

If we make the "survey" anonymous, most people will be happy to participate: "en:Hanja is watched by 3 users" (no names given). --Menchi 04:25, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

If we made it anonymous, we wouldn't need anyone's permission, and everyone would be included. Who could object to an anonymous tally? Paul Klenk 04:29, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Who could object? Me! It would be a boon to vandals, and to people who wanted to slip their POV into articles. They could literally make sure that nobody was watching before perpetrating their dastardly acts! GrahamN 22:57, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I wouldn't have any problems with anonymous, collective data. Please follow the link Brion posted above as well as its talk page to see what I mean. Dori 04:37, Oct 21, 2003 (UTC)
I concur -- anonymous would be fine. -- BCorr ¤ Брайен 04:39, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I've considered asking a developer to make an ability to see if an article is being watched in order to see if I need to watch it. For example, suppose I see an article which I have no interest in whatsoever being vandalized, but after reverting twice, I have to go to work or take some bizzle hizzle or whathaveyou, I might not want to place it on my already-inflated watchlist, especially if Ed Poor or Mav or someone whom I trust is already watching it and will revert any vandalism. My thinking was that, if there were enough people that I trust, a list of pages not being watched being useful -- of course, this has a limited application for the Wikipedia at large. I would support this function if it had the added corollary of giving the information as such: "3 users are watching this page, of which one is a sysop and two have made more than three-hundred edits" or something to that effect. Tuf-Kat 08:13, Oct 21, 2003 (UTC)
I agree. If I make a minor change on a page, I would not put it on my watchlist if I know that it is already heavily watched. If I encounter a page that interests me, I would put it on my watchlist if it is not watched (enough) even if I don't make any changes. This will also give some sense of reliability to the outsiders. Nikola 10:22, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

A very useful idea. In fact I had put up a request [2] at Feature Requests at sourceforge earlier this month. Request ID 816617. Here I paste a summary of the request :

"Every page should have a "Who is watching" link While editing an article, I often want to know how many users have the particular page on their Watchlist. So that I can know that such and such person will be intimated when I finish editing the article.

from ml

It depends on the goal of the feature

  • More information on an article :

It could at any time provide the number of editors "watching" the page. It could be just a number at the bottom of the page, and would likely help to measure the interest there is in the article (for editors, especially since we can now easily remove items from our watchlist)

This feature would be at the same level than the previous "hit counter". For those of you newer on Wikipedia (Jesus, do I sound old saying this !), the hit counter was a number displayed at the bottom of each page, and incrementing each time the page was displayed. It gave information about the global interest for the article (for editors and readers). That feature was disabled several months ago to help the struggling server. I think it was the first of a very lengthy list of features to be removed. I suppose that if we think of providing a counter for the "watch", we could also get back the hit counter, which was also very informative. The two counters would nicely complete each other.

  • More information on an editor :

This is not a technical feature to help editing, this is a protection feature to help against vandal, or a feature to help against antagonistic editors. There should be no confusion. This will be seen as invasion of privacy. The drawbacks will be to madden quite a number of people, a reduction of liberty rights, will perhaps lead some to create false accounts to create a second watch list. I also see a possible slipery slope, where only those "trusted" will be offered that feature, further setting classes among editors.

Anthere 01:06, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

It does happen that persons who have contributed to the article remove it from their Watchlist. If there was this feature that could show me if someone who had contributed heavily to the article was not right now watching the article, I could personally message him on his talk page to have a look at my changes." Jay 09:11, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

If someone doesn't have an article on their watchlist, I wouldn't worry about it. If you do something that people don't like, they have a way of letting you know. If you're uncertain about a change you're making, then add some notes about your change to Talk and it will usually help alleviate people's concerns. Daniel Quinlan 10:11, Oct 21, 2003 (UTC)

I am not in favor of this idea. Adding something to your watchlist does not indicate a willingness for people to know they are watching it. Disclosing such information could leak information about someone that they do not wish known to the world. For example, a en:Microsoft employee might be watching the en:Linux page. A person might be watching an article of a sensitive nature related to sex, violence, politics, whatever — it doesn't matter what, just that people might not want that information disclosed. Yes, the information is accessible via SQL queries, but surely there are people not aware of that. I also differentiate watching from editing. There needs to be accountability for edits. I don't think there is any such need for watching an article. Daniel Quinlan 10:11, Oct 21, 2003 (UTC)

I hadn't assumed that there would be people who'd be watching a page without having ever edited it, or taken part in a discussion for the page, or having an intention of editing it in the future. Just watching for watching's sake, I don't know what the percentage of such people would be. Can the developers come up with a query that'll show "the no. of people (registered members) who have at least 1 page on their watchlist which they haven't made an edit on." (A page discussion would be equivalent to a page edit as they're both tied.)
Based on the number, we can calculate the percentage of wikipedians. If the % is too less we can go for an opt-in as Paul Klenk suggested with with the default set to "make watchlist public". If the % is high, the default can be private. Jay 19:39, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)

In proposing this new feature, has anyone considered the following facts?

  • Currently the search feature is disabled on Wikipedia, due to server load.
  • A number of special pages (& the ability to directly perform queries on the backend database) has been disabled, due to server load.
  • An attractive little feature that was ubiquitous when I started to contirubte to Wikipedia about a year ago -- a counter that recorded how many times pages were viewed -- has been disabled, due to server load.
  • Wikipedia is increasingly going offline & requiring repeated hardware upgrades, due to server load.

I've marked the points; do I also need to draw the lines between them?

Personally, I don't care very much either way about this proposed new feature. However, seeing how three of these once-functioning (& very useful) features are now disabled for Wikipedia due to the load on the servers, I have to wonder just how this feature will impact server load. If it's anything more than a negligible amount, I'm against it. The features I've listed above, I believe have far higher priority than a kewl neato hack that lets people see who's watching which page. And if there's any chance that this feature will be rolled back within an hour due to its effect on the server load, I would encourage our volunteer & unpaid programmers spend their limited time on other parts of the wikipedia web site.

(PS, Wikipedia timed out twice when I tried to add this to Village Pump -- undoubtedly due to server load.) -- Llywrch 00:19, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Some people place links to pages on their user page. The pages are article initiated, edited, discussion joined, shortcut to frequently used pages, and/or pages that they intend to edit. To a certain extent, that serves as a public watchlist. One can use "watch related changes" function from one's user page to see any changes have been made. Anyone can see the list, and anyone can use the function "what links here" to see if any userpage is linking to it. And I guess it's not only me who uses userpage in that way. Tomos 01:11, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I am not in favor of this public watchlist feature. My english is to poor to let me explain more deeper my point of view, sorry. Alvaro 14:55, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Cette proposition est completement ridicule! N'y-a-t'il pas d'autres choses plus utiles à faire? -- Looxix

This proposition is completely ridiculous! Isn't there more usefull things to do?

Lets separate out the discussions for "feature implementation" and "feature acceptance". Developers have already agreed that the feature is easy to implement. Server load can prevent implementation of many desirable features currently, what we can check out here is if the feature is acceptable as an idea that can be implemented in the future. Jay 20:42, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

No public access to MY watchlist without MY prior agreement ! Hemmer 21:50, 22 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Oh no ! This proposal is an additional, irresponsible and inconsistent provocation. Freedom please (Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia !)! 03:31, 23 Oct 2003 (UTC)

depuis le bistro - from the french-speaking Wikipedia's "Village pump":

Discussion sur la liste principale sur le fait de rendre la liste des suivi des utilisateurs visible par tous (publique plutot que privée jusqu'à présent). L'historique des discussions (et probablement la plupart des discussions à venir, comme d'habitude, c'est la que se prennent de nombreuses décisions qui devraient etre communes) sont sur la liste anglophone. Donnez votre opinion. Anthere 21 oct 2003 à 08:44 (CEST)

Cough cough, la discussion rétive a été déplacée sur m:Talk:Watchlist privacy. tout de meme, je m etonne qu'aucun de vous n'ai de problème avec cette proposition. Je me réjouis de peut etre bientot découvrir quels sont les articles suivis par w:fr:Utilisateur:| (je plaisante :-))

Bonjour ant, moi j'aurais eu de graves et lourds mots pour cela mais je me considère de facto banni de en (et je le serais sans aucun doute déjà si...) et je ne vois pas pourquoi, j'irais baver sur un article en en,
ce n'est pas un article sur en, ce serait une modification du soft qui rendrait possible à tous, a toutes les wikipedias, de pouvoir suivre les articles suivis par une personne. C est une amélioration de soft qu'ils discutent une fois encore, ensemble. Heureusement, Brion veille au grain :)

ss'il le veulent la voilà ma [liste de suivi]

mais non mon ami, un utilisateur ne peut pas montrer sa watchlist a un autre. Si je clique sur ce lien, c est la mienne que je vois :-) Jusqu'a hier, il était possible de voir la watch d un autre par requete sql. Je l ai fait une fois pour voir. Maintenant, cela ne devrait plus marcher (enfin, au moins sur en)

et puis oui encore , si tu veux à toi je veux bien te donner mon mot de passe tu n'oublie pas « I believe in you » , s'il le veulent d'après ce que je crois comprendre ils peuvent l'avoir alors je ne vais pas leur faciliter le travail !

actuellement, les developpeurs le peuvent oui, mais c est tout. C'est justement pour éviter que les utilisateurs puissent mater ds nos affaires personnelles (et en particulier les sysops, faut pas rever) que je proteste. Au nom du droit a avoir un petit espace privé. Mais, aucun francophone ne s y interesse le moins du monde visiblement. Dommage. Aucun francophone non plus ne semble troublé par le fait que toutes les décisions d evolution du logiciel soient faites par les anglais, après discussion sur en.wikipedia ou la liste de discussion anglophone. Que dire sinon qu'il ne faudrait pas que les gens se plaignent d etre exclus quand ils ne font pas l effort de s impliquer. Seuls ceux qui ouvrent la bouche sont entendus.

Pour terminer dans l'ouragan, je voudrais dire que malheureusement certains ici veulent souffler le terrorisme intellectuel qui est de mise ailleurs, je ne serais certainement pas là pour le combattre mais j'espère que certaines et certains le ferons car si fr a un certain équilibre ce n'est certainement pas en voulant insuffler ici un vent mauvais que la balance, qui est fragile sur un wiki ne l'oublions jamais, sera préservée. Merci à toi. 22 oct 2003 à 10:51 (CEST)

je te repete ce que je te dit hier par email :-)

Est-ce qu'on ne peut pas trouver une solution qui mettrait tout le monde d'accord, du genre (puisqu'on parle de développement, pourquoi se priver ?) : ajouter une option dans les préférences, permettant de rendre ou non sa liste de suivie publique. Je comprends qu'on puisse etre curieux de savoir ce que d'autres personnes suivent, mais si ça pose un probleem à certains, dans le doute, il est normal qu'on ne le permette pas. C'est pourquoi, donner le choix à chacun, c'est encore la meilleure solution, non ? Bon, on peut raffiner encore plus, et permettre de parametrer directement dans sa liste ce qu'on veut rendre public (par exemple : je veux bien que les gens sachent que je suis l'article XML, mais si je suis la position de la levrette, je ne tiens peut-etre pas à ce que tout le monde le sache), mais là, ça commence à devenir compliqué, tant au niveau du développement qu'au niveau de l'utilisation. Dans tout les cas, il faudrait que, par defaut, rien ne soit public, bien entendu. On peut toutefois attirer l'attention sur la futilité de cette fonctionnalité : à quoi ça peut bien servir de connaitre les articles suivis par les autres, concretement, à part satisfaire sa curiosité ?Traroth 22 oct 2003 à 11:56 (CEST)

Voilà une proposition des plus raisonnables. Je vote pour (je sais c'est pas ici qu'il faut le dire, mais mon anglais laisse à désirer). Hemmer

j'indique juste mon avis, laissé sur ant

Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec toi, Anthere. Cette façon de fliquer les utilisateurs ne me parait pas du tout conforme à l'esprit Wikipedia. J'avoue que je n'avais meme pas envisagé les choses sous cet angle. Je pensais "naïvement" qu'il s'agissait de curiosité malsaine, mais banale. En fait ça va plus loin... Traroth 22 oct 2003 à 14:11 (CEST)

At first glance, I say no. I don't remember my whole watch list and I don't think there are much sensitive things on it, but there might be. It's a part of Wikipedia I always considered as private, and to have private areas is good in a social environment like this. I would be perhaps slightly, but definitely, annoyed if it went public. --FvdP 19:09, 27 Oct 2003 (UTC)