Mobile wikitext editing

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Goal[edit]

Wikitext editing has been the heart and soul of Wikipedia for 10+ years. The mobile team expects Wikitext editing to continue being important on mobile as well: allowing a quick channel for simple edits, serving power users, operating on devices without javascript (note: currently mobile does not support this), and helping editors complete more complicated workflows such as adding a template.

Milestones[edit]

Early prototype[edit]

Mobile editing first came about as an experiment in alpha mode of the site in ~Oct 2012. Although there were various bugs it gave us some idea of the type of edits we could expect from mobile devices.

Web beta[edit]

In January 2013 wikitext editing was released to beta on the mobile web as an experiment. This experiment showed a high percentage of new editors, making edits similar in type to first time edits on desktop.

Web stable[edit]

In July 2013 wikitext editing was released to stable on the mobile web (https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/07/25/edit-wikipedia-on-the-go/). It allowed logged in users to edit articles by section. In order to edit users click on a pencil icon next to the sections.

In 2013-Q2 out of the total of new accounts registered across all Wikimedia sites (1,036,106), 18% came from Mobile (185,002).

 The % of new users who edit articles on the English Wikipedia after registering on mobile closely tracks the % of editing new users from the desktop site (18.5% vs 21.9% in 2013-Q2).

2013-Q2, English Wikipedia

  • New users
    • Mobile: 95,123
    • Desktop: 359,964
  • 1 article edit in first day
    • Mobile: 17,636 (18.5%)
    • Desktop: 78,847 (21.9%)
  • 5 article edits in first week
    • Mobile: 1,800 (1.9%)
    • Desktop: 15,436 (4.3%)

Wikipedia app[edit]

As part of the Wikipedia App reboot the mobile app team decided that it was important to launch with a contributory function built in and has decided to include wikitext editing. This was due to the fact that numerous power users had approached us about the availability of editing on mobile web but its absence from the apps. We feel this is a great opportunity for high quality contributions as the commons upload app has resulted in high quality photos (as measured by deletion rates). Wikitext editing will launch in the apps with both anonymous editing and logged in editing enabled but with the ability to turn anonymous editing off.

Anonymous editing[edit]

While first versions of mobile editing on the web only work for logged in users, anonymous editing is a feature that we would like to enable. Anonymous editing is a Wikipedia founding principle. However, we also recognize that anonymous editing is by its nature a less controlled and less understood environment. As we move forward we want to make sure that we don't release a mobile feature that overwhelms the community with vandalism or breaks existing workflows.

Primarily we want to ensure that Wikipedia:Blocking policy and Wikipedia:Blocking IP addresses hold sufficiently in a mobile editing world. Specifically IP address editing could be problematic for mobile because in order to leave talk messages for anonymous editors, to notify anonymous editors, and to block anonymous editors which are all important workflows we use IP addresses. Up until now we've known this to be tricky on desktop but workable. IP address editing may not be workable on mobile for 2 reasons: a) IP addresses for mobile users are less permanent so leaving messages or notifications for users on their IP addresses seems dubious as does blocking someone through an IP address b) IP addresses for mobile users are more ambiguous (i.e. it's harder to distinguish between multiple users using their IP addresses because wireless networks sometimes assign similar IP addresses to users) so multiple users could now get the same talk messages, notifications, and blocks

Secondarily we recognize that anonymous editing could encourage lower quality edits or greater vandalism on mobile. As we roll this feature out we want to make sure that anonymous editors receive proper training and explanation on the impact of their edits.

To do this we are proposing a 3 stage rollout:

Stage 1) Anonymous editing in the Mobile App will give us some preparation from a product and analytics standpoint in understanding anonymous mobile editing and how we should think about it. This would be implemented with a "kill switch" in place to be able to disable anonymous editing in the app should we deem it necessary based on community feedback. It will also include basic requirements for anonymous editing:

  • Anonymous edit warning and sign in workflow
  • Ability to reliably block specific anonymous editors on mobile
    • Wikipedia:Blocking policy talks about current policies around blocking users until now we have used IP addresses to block and to notify anonymous users. Wikipedia:Blocking IP addresses describes difficulties around using IP addresses to block anonymous users, but these issues compound significantly on mobile.
  • Ability to notify anonymous mobile editors (e.g. IP block threats, thanking)
  • Ability for anonymous mobile editors to view their talk pages

Rough date: March 31 2014

Stage 2) Anonymous editing on mobile web beta will allow us to iron out any technical, product, design, analytics, and policy preparations needed to ensure that anonymous editing meets basic requirements for release including:

  • Anonymous edit warning and sign in workflow
  • Ability to reliably block specific anonymous editors on mobile
    • Wikipedia:Blocking policy talks about current policies around blocking users until now we have used IP addresses to block and to notify anonymous users. Wikipedia:Blocking IP addresses describes difficulties around using IP addresses to block anonymous users, but these issues compound significantly on mobile.
  • Ability to notify anonymous mobile editors (e.g. IP block threats, thanking)
  • Ability for anonymous mobile editors to view their talk pages
  • Revise event logging to better account for anonymous editors - is a blank username enough?

Rough date: May 31 2014

Stage 3) Limited progressive rollout into stable. This may happen project by project or could happen by releasing anonymous editing to random percentages of users on all projects. In this process we will evaluate the impact of anonymous editing to improving article content, and vandalism on articles. If needed this progressive rollout could be slowed or rolled back based on this analysis or based on community feedback. As anonymous editing rolls out the mobile team will work with the growth team to also monitor the impact of anonymous editing on engaging editors (most specifically from the perspective of account creation), and promoting high quality articles (most specifically from the perspective of edit reverts). In response we will look for places where we could add additional training or explanations for anonymous users. 

Rough date: August 31 2014 

Alongside VisualEditor on Mobile[edit]

One of our goals for the 2013–14 fiscal year is to default tablets to the mobile site instead of the desktop site. This tablet interface will include both wikitext editing and VisualEditor. We envision that VisualEditor will be useful for beginners but that wikitext editing will continue to be important for power users when editing on tablets.

See also[edit]