Flow/Description

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Flow is a project of the Collaboration team at the Wikimedia Foundation to build a modern discussion and collaboration system for all Wikimedia projects. Flow will eventually replace the current wiki talk page system and will provide features that are present on most modern websites, but are difficult or impossible with wikitext. For example, Flow automatically signs posts, threads replies, and permits per-topic notifications.

The main goals for the Flow project are:

  • to make the wiki discussion system more accessible for new users
  • to make the wiki discussion system more efficient for experienced users
  • to encourage meaningful conversations that support collaboration

Flow is currently deployed on several talk pages on Mediawiki.org and on various language Wikipedias. In 2015, the focus of the project is to work with communities on several different language Wikipedias and other Wikimedia projects, using Flow on pages and use cases where it can be helpful. Our focus is on building features that will help active editors on those wikis to work together, and reach out to new contributors. The project continues to grow and change over time, based on the experience and feedback of the people who use it.

Rationale[edit]

New users on Wikimedia projects find it difficult to participate in on-wiki discussions,[1] in spite of a growing and mostly automated body of messages directed at them.[2][3] We also know that free-form wikitext talk pages present a significant barrier to new users[4][5][6] and even some experienced users.[7]

In addition, experienced users often employ a suite of workarounds to help them manage and keep track of the many ongoing conversations that they're involved in, using tools that aren't necessarily well-suited to the task. For example, watchlists and diffs are page-level tools, making it hard to distinguish between the conversations that users are interested in and the ones that they're not. Experienced users can waste a lot of time checking diffs on an active talk page, especially if the most active conversation isn't the one that they're interested in following.

We believe that user expectations for a modern discussion system are increasingly diverging from the reality of talk pages today, and that all of our users deserve discussion and collaboration software that meets their needs.

Current Flow features (as of summer 2015) In development
  • Easy to distinguish topics
  • A clear way to start a conversation, and a clear place to reply
  • Automatic signing and timestamp
  • Notifications that keep track of the conversations you're interested in
  • Both VisualEditor and wikitext for posts
  • A mentions feature with autocomplete for usernames
  • Don't need to manually archive old discussions
  • Sorting by newest topics or recently active topics
  • Table of contents that's available as you scroll down the page
  • Resolving topics that are finished
  • Personal feed of conversations you're involved in
  • Search feature to find conversations on the board
  • Support for workflows, configured by the communities using them
  • Tags and filters to help you find conversations across the wiki
  • Tell us what you think the feature needs!
You can find the Collaboration team on Mediawiki.org,
and talk with us on the Flow discussion boards there.

References[edit]