Flow

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Flow is a project of the Core features team at the Wikimedia Foundation to build a modern discussion and collaboration system for all Wikimedia projects. Flow will eventually replace the current Wikipedia talk page system and will provide features that are present on most modern websites, but which are not possible to implement in wikitext. For example, Flow will enable automatic signing of posts, automatic threading, and per-thread notifications.

Flow is more than an extension of the current talk page system; it is a complete redesign of the user interface for discussions on Wikipedia. In order to accomplish this, we will be releasing Flow, first at some WikiProjects on the English Wikipedia, as a limited, opt-in beta tailored to the needs of specific discussion spaces, gathering feedback from new and experienced users, and evolving the shape and scope of the product based on that feedback.

Rationale[edit | edit source]

New users on English Wikipedia have become less and less likely to participate in onwiki discussions,[1] in spite of a growing and mostly automated body of messages directed at them.[2][3] Simultaneously, we know that freeform wikitext talk pages present a significant barrier to new users[4][5][6] and even some experienced users.[7]

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

Expectations Current reality
  • Easy to distinguish topics
  • A "reply" button
  • Obvious and consistent comment authorship
  • Automatic "signing"
  • Notifications of replies to all discussions
  • A simple comment field
  • Rigid predictable technical restrictions on who can edit what
  • Conversations that thread to infinite depth
  • Inconsistent reply system (whose talk page hosts the conversation?)
  • Comment authorship shown at the end of comment or not at all
  • Wikitext/code
  • Notifications only when the conversation happens on their own talk page
  • Full page or Full section editing only
  • Fluid social conventions on which edits stand scrutiny, which do not, and which are objectionable


Users expect a modern and intuitive discussion interface.

Talk pages—as a discussion technology—are antiquated and are not intuitive.

Users are surprised by the cultural norms of the community.

Many things about the culture that has grown up around talk pages (such as "talkback" templates or being able to edit other people's comments) are confusing. That is not to say those conventions are wrong, merely not what those users are prepared for.

We believe that a modern user-to-user discussion system will improve the projects.

Better methods for collaboration will improve collaboration, which will improve all of the projects.

Roadmap[edit | edit source]

Flow will be released incrementally, as a limited opt-in beta. We want this product to change and grow over time, based on the feedback of the people who use it.

Building a new discussion system for Wikipedia is not something anyone can do overnight, and there isn't a one-size-fits all solution – different Wikimedia projects and different types of users (e.g., vandalfighters, featured content creators, help desk volunteers) have very different needs.

For the first release, we're focusing on the WikiProject discussion space at the English Wikipedia. WikiProjects are a self-contained micro-community with the goal of improving content in a specific topic area; we believe that a good Wikipedia discussion system should make content improvement and peer-to-peer collaboration faster, easier, and more enjoyable.

Short-term (up to January 2014)[edit | edit source]

  • YesY Done Initial brainstorming and user research
  • YesY Done Defining the scope of the first release (Minimum Viable Product)
  • YesY Done Build interactive prototype of the MVP on WMF Labs
  • YesY Done Community testing and feedback (brief details)
  • YesY Done Deployment to phase 1 wikis (testwiki, testwiki2, and mediawiki)

February 2014-June 2014[edit | edit source]

Longer term (2015 and beyond)[edit | edit source]

  • Wider rollouts to project, article talk, and user talk space
  • Community processes and workflows (noticeboards, requests, featured content nominations, etc.)

How can I help?[edit | edit source]

The Flow team is dedicated to the guiding principles of serving every human being with the ability to contribute to the Wikimedia movement, and sharing power with the volunteer community when creating new software. If you're a community member who wants to help, you're a part of our team.

We believe that:

  1. user-to-user discussion is absolutely vital to maintaining and growing content in all Wikimedia projects.
  2. freeform wiki talk pages are a barrier to participation for new users and provide a bad user experience for many existing users.
  3. the contributors to Wikimedia projects deserve better discussion software, and the Wikimedia Foundation staff and community need to work together to create it.

If you agree, you have the power to shape the development of Flow and ensure that we make it the best possible discussion system for you and every other Wikipedia user, present and future. See our community engagement strategy to learn more.

Newsletter sign-up[edit | edit source]

Add your name to w:WP:Flow/Newsletter to receive occasional updates on details, and specific requests for feedback.

Contact and links[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]