This document is a work in progress. It is an attempt to address several issues with the usability and design of the Pending Changes trial being run on the English Wikipedia.
As described in Bug 25299: Anonymous users see the "accepted" version of an article marked with Pending Changes. Logged-in users, however, see the "pending" version. There are only two indicators that they're looking at the pending revision:
- The "Pending Changes" tab is highlighted
- There is a "review pending changes" box off to the right.
There are several problems with the behavior of Pending Changes in this regard.
Fundamentally, the fact that we display the "pending" revisions to logged in users and the "accepted" version to anonymous users is the absolute wrong behavior. I feel strongly that this design decision - obtained through community consensus - should be revisited (and consensus reversed). While I understand the reasoning behind the decision (that we should have as little impact to the behavior of the wiki as possible to registered users), I do not feel that is sufficient (or even valid) justification for the current behavior.
I believe that, by default, all users (logged in or not) should be shown the "Accepted" version of the page. My rationale is very simple:
- Least Surprise - For inexperienced users (the bulk of our audience), the mechanical state by which one is shown the pending version or the accepted version is ethereally vague. While most people will understand that the simple fact of logging in will change the application's behavior overall (e.g., preference memory), this type of awareness does not (and should not, in my opinion) extend to content display. Having different versions of an article be displayed based on this is surprising and extremely confusing.
- What's the Point? - The reasons for applying Pending Changes to a page can be many and varied, ranging from vandalism prevention to maintaining article quality. If we automatically show vandalisms or bad edits to logged in users, what value is gained for placing the page into moderation?
- Further, many users create accounts and remain logged in, even if they are not editors, simply to utilize things like skin preferences and the like. They are not interested in seeing vandalism; they are interested in seeing articles. I feel that the current behavior optimizes for the smallest subset of Wikipedia's users and designing primarily for edge cases is rarely the correct path.
That said, modifying the feature's behavior is out of scope at this time due to community consensus. This change must be brought to the community first. Ergo, my recommendations must take that constraint under consideration.
For Viewing Pending Revisions
There are several changes to be made. The first priority is to make it extremely clear to the user that they are viewing a pending revision. My solution is to add an obvious "bar" at the top of the page, similar to what is displayed when a viewer is paging through an article's history.
The color of the bar (blue) was chosen because:
- Red/Pink is currently used to denote that a user is paging through history
- Green (as a color) indicates "acceptance" or "go" in most English-speaking cultures (and Pending Changes is on the English Wikipedia).
- Yellow/orange is too close to the "You have new messages" indicator, and would result in wide-spread confusion
- Blue is relatively neutral in meaning within our designs, and is used to draw "minor attention".
Text within the bar indicates that the page is a pending revision and contains links to explanatory help pages as well as the current accepted version.
Below the bar are additional pagination links as well as a hoverable "why am I seeing this version" help link (this does not require its own help page - a tooltip will suffice).
The "Pending Changes" icon and box have been removed from the upper right corner. They are redundant in this design and should thus be deleted (all functions are available in the notice bar area).
For Viewing Accepted Revisions
The icon box in the upper right corner remains, but undergoes some slight display treatment changes.
First, the color of the box border is made blue (to better go along with the blue used in the "Pending" box and to visually connect the two ideas). If there are pending revisions, the number of revisions is displayed.
Second, the design of the tooltip hover changes as well. This is done to be consistent with other features and hover systems (this is part of an initiative to achieve greater consistency with design behavior across the wiki).
Third, the text layout has been radically simplified. The current text, while accurate, is too wordy and falls into the "too long, didn't read" trap. Fewer words are better, and in this case we don't need full sentences. There is a slight difference in the text depending on whether or not there are revisions pending (a line is added indicating how many await review and a link to review them is provided).