Reading/Web/Advanced mobile contributions

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The mobile skin Minerva was optimised for new readers and is missing several key contribution workflows that power editors depend on. The skin choose not to link to certain pages to avoid overwhelming new users with links and other pages used on desktop were found not optimized or even usable on mobile devices.

Despite this, their absence prevents many contributors from being able to edit and moderate from the mobile web. The Readers Web team has listened to requests from communities and has an increased focus on contribution workflows for the upcoming year.  The team is working on doing the minimum work needed to fix and expose the currently unavailable pages. In addition to this it will work on building expanded navigation to expose the wide range of editing functionality so that it can be used on the mobile web. Our plan is to build this as an opt-in feature which editors can enable. We believe this will decrease the necessity of switching between the desktop and mobile sites while on a mobile device and provide a better mobile editing experience.   We believe that expanding the contribution workflows on the existing Minerva skin will provide the most efficient way to increase the amount of productive mobile contributions at the trade off of perfection. We also hope it will allow availability of the full breadth of tools in a short time-span, giving us more time to do thorough research and design for the most crucial workflows.

We have captured this goal in output 3.1 from the 2018-2019 Annual Plan: Contribution tools on mobile web via an existing MediaWiki skin.


November 12, 2018 - Navigation prototype feedback summary[edit]

We are very grateful to have received feedback from 61 editors thus far on our advanced mobile navigation prototype. The response to the design was overwhelmingly positive, and included some great suggestions as well as some valid concerns raised. All of the feedback is valuable and will inform the next design iteration. We wanted to take a moment to both acknowledge all of you who took the time to go through the prototype, as well as highlight a few themes that surfaced. I'm considering something a theme if it was noted by two or more editors (considering the small sample size).



Questions and concerns:[edit]
  • Should categories be on by default in this mode? What will the relationship between this mode and other beta features be?
  • Is Sandbox something that people use on their phones?
  • How does this new design look and work on tablet?
  • The sticky toolbar is nice, but perhaps it would be better if it only appeared upon scrolling up (rather than always persisting)
  • Can we add the main header to the sticky toolbar, so that you can get access to search and the hamburger menu from the middle of a page?
  • Should this mode be available to logged-out editors?
  • Could we support a namespace specific search UI?
  • Icon improvements: Recent changes, History, Add discussion (on Talk page)

There were two other categories of questions and concerns raised:

1) Things pertaining to the display and functionality of Special pages (e.g. History, Recent changes) — it was great to see these remarks, as they guide us towards the next bit of work for this project, which is improving Special pages on mobile (more feature-rich, while still being manageable on a small screen)

2) Things that fall outside the scope of our current work: dark mode, an improved language icon

  • Having easy access to the Talk page
  • Having easy to access History
  • Wikidata item accessible
  • Links to other Wikimedia projects
  • Sandbox
  • Toolbar accessible without going all the way back to the top of the page


"Much more convenient and usable than the current mobile view. Everything I would expect to find in a mobile view for editors is there." — Darylgolden

"I am eagerly waiting for this design." — AnkurWiki

"I think it's a great design, newcomers may be a bit confused but other than that, I like it." — Charizard201

"There seems to be lots of peculiar functions being added in this prototype compared to the existing experience. I appreciate the addition of Recent changes and "Special pages" but many of the other new links just add unnecessary confusion and clutter to the interface. I like the existing mobile interface because it reduces this clutter. Print is not something I need to do on my mobile phone for example." — Ming

“The previews presented look like a major improvement, currently the mobile browser doesn't seem editor-orientated at all.” — Donald Trung

Known prototype bugs[edit]

There were a number of errors in the prototype. We are calling them out here just so they are acknowledged as errors:

  • Search experience, Wikipedia logo bug
  • Notifications panel should have an “X”
  • Missing section edit buttons
  • Add edit button to action menu on Talk page (general & section)
  • Heading on Talk page should be “Talk:”
  • Some items in action menu don’t make sense on Talk page (Wikidata Item)

September 18, 2018 - Need your help! Collecting feedback for the new navigation prototypes[edit]

We have updated our prototype for the new navigation. The prototype is a response to the feedback we received at Wikimania. We have some questions on the current version as we continue to iterate. Any and all comments are appreciated! Keep in mind that since this is a prototype most of the links don’t actually work, and there might be other bugs or quirks that you’ll come across. We have also marked the feedback page for translation and hope to have it available in a variety of languages soon.  

Click on this link to view the prototype and give us feedback.

Preview of prototype[edit]

Advanced nav prototype, round 3.jpg

August 24, 2018 - Published results from Wikimania interviews[edit]

We have published the results of from our research at Wikimania. Over the course of the conference, we interviewed 30 editors with the goal of identifying the main issues with mobile editing, prioritizing the pages that editors find most important, and raising awareness for the project among editors who are interested in mobile editing. In particular:

  • We noted that editors we spoke to were, overall, very excited about these changes, allowing us to feel confident with moving forward with the project.
  • We generated a list of the most important pages/workflows on mobile for the interviewed editors.
  • We gathered a group of editors that are interested in the project and willing to review and collaborate in the future by giving us feedback on prototypes and participating in other user testing.
  • We gathered feedback on our current prototypes for mobile navigation, giving us enough information to continue with the next round of iteration.

Please review our results and let us know what you think. Feedback is welcome and appreciated!

August 7, 2018 - Wikimania interviews[edit]

We performed 30 interviews with editors during Wikimania to collect information and feedback on the following:

  • Pages that are most important to contributors for mobile use
  • Feedback on our initial prototypes for advanced navigation

We are collecting and analyzing our results and will post an update to this page soon. We are also putting together a list of editors interested in providing feedback on prototypes throughout the development process. Let us know on the talk page if you're interested as well!

June 20, 2018 - IRC office hours[edit]

We will be holding IRC office hours to go over the proposal and brainstorm areas for improvement. We are particularly interested in speaking to editors on the contributions they would like to be able to make on mobile and on the special pages and flows that are most important.

May 19, 2018 - Themes from Barcelona Hackathon conversations[edit]

During the Barcelona Hackathon in 2018, we held two sessions focused on discussing this project with members of the editing and technical community. These are our notes from these sessions:

  • Interest in exposing more pages in mobile was high and people agreed that any work in this direction would be valuable. The main issues that were identified were use and availability of gadgets as well as specific workflow variation - tools used and shifting across wikis, different workflows based on projects, workflows split among multiple pages, etc. Interest was raised towards microcontributions and new microcontribution functionality (noting this here as it came up multiple times, although it is outside the scope of this project).

Full notes from the sessions can be found on this etherpad.

How people currently edit on mobile

  1. Switch back between Vector and Minerva, although some editors preferred Minerva
  2. Use mobile for language and translation due to better multi-language input
  3. Use mobile for better syntax highlighting

What we’re missing currently

  1. Users do not like the fact that certain pages are blocked on mobile - “a lot of what timeless did well was simply bringing back hidden pages and features”
  2. There is an interest in exposing all pages, even if they are flawed
  3. Gadgets - one user switches to desktop only for the ability to use their gadgets
  4. Recent changes
  5. History
  6. Familiarity - If there were a mobile version of Vector, for instance, it would make it easier to find something familiar
  7. Mobile-specific workflows
  8. Easy way to read discussions - talk pages, help desk, administrative noticeboard, help desk
  9. New ways for microcontributions

Split audience here. While all could agree on missing functionality, the room seemed to be split along the lines of making this functionality mobile-specific versus making it available now and allowing editors to find workaround where necessary within their current workflows

Ideas on exposing all pages

  1. It probably won’t scale to expose all pages - begin with a prioritized list
  2. Collapsing rather than hiding can give a lot of the gains of hiding without the detriments

Minerva vs Vector

  1. No strong opinions either way - some people leaning towards Vector with the technical motivation of only having one skin. Others disagreeing to say the more skins the better
  2. Either will be useful and an improvement from the norm

Other notes

  1. A lot of simple tasks are built into tools such as Twinkle and Huggle. Focusing on performing these tasks directly from mobile might not get us the results we are expecting. However, not all editors use these tools.
  2. Whether responsiveness is desirable came up a few times - good to remember that regardless of what we do, it will make some people unhappy
  3. Often special pages might not even be that useful - while some people use recent changes, there’s a wide variety of workflows that this does not account for
  4. 80/20 rule applies to microcontributions - it would be helpful to have a way to tag articles/portions that fall into the side that requires more care, attention etc from mobile. These can later be reviewed on desktop
  5. Vandalism example: “If you look at vandal-fighting the bots take 70% of the work. 30% left - automation to say likely hard/likely not hard. Likely not hard - show to mobile user like "do you think this might be vandalism" with buttons "yes" and "no"

Identified pages that need some work:

  • Talk pages
  • Village pump
  • Administrative noticeboard
  • Help page
  • Recent changes
  • Pending changes
  • Flagged revisions
  • Special:RecentChangesLinked
  • Special:NewPagesFeed


What percentage of editors use outside tools for microcontribution-type flows?

What are the main revision workflows per wiki?


We began the research process by consulting with individual members of the community on the main obstacle to mobile editing in their opinion. Combined with two group consultations led at the Barcelona Hackathon, the following main issues were identified:

  • Pages necessary to perform contribution (editing and moderation) workflows are currently unavailable on the mobile website
  • There is a lot of unexplored potential for microcontribution workflows on mobile

The focus of this project will be on the first issue - providing access to currently hidden pages from the mobile website.

What is changing?[edit]


Expose currently unavailable pages on the mobile website using the Minerva skin as an opt-in setting option.

  • Doing the changes in the Minerva skin is more straightforward from a technical perspective and requires lower maintenance cost than other options. It also reduces disruption to existing workflows. Community members can use Minerva with the new optimised experiences on their mobile devices, and continue to use their existing experience with Vector or other skins on desktop.


  • Active editors, in particular medium and high-volume editors (100+ edits)
  • Editors focused on maintenance workflows - easier to make smaller contributions from mobile
  • Nice to have: all mobile editors  

Per project[edit]

While we will be reaching out and are open to feedback from all projects, we have created a list of projects that we would like to specifically focus on. We looked at wikis that already had a decent amount of editors on mobile, indicating that editing on mobile is a comfortable concept for users of these projects.  As the target audience for this project is medium and high-volume contributors, our assumption was that projects with a decently large number (1000+) of monthly editors would be likely to have a higher percentage of editors with 100+ edits.  Finally, in terms of priority, we wanted to focus on projects that had the largest gap in mobile editing - projects whose ratio of mobile edits to new active editors was the highest:

  1. English Wikipedia
  2. Spanish Wikipedia
  3. Japanese Wikipedia
  4. Chinese Wikipedia
  5. Portuguese Wikipedia
  6. Italian Wikipedia
  7. Persian Wikipedia
  8. Hebrew Wikipedia
  9. Arabic Wikipedia
  10. Finnish Wikipedia
  11. Vietnamese Wikipedia
  12. Indonesian Wikipedia
  13. English Wiktionary
  14. Thai Wikipedia
  15. Hindi Wikipedia



  • Mobile web edit rate on target wikis: 10% increase
  • Retention rate for opt-in advanced mobile mode amongst medium and high-volume editors (100+ edits previous month): At least 60% retention
  • Moderation actions on mobile web on target wikis: 10% increase

Other metrics[edit]

  • Decreased number of users of desktop version link
  • Number of users opting into/out of the feature

Overview of new functionality[edit]

An advanced editing option will be presented in the mobile settings menu (not a part of beta settings). Selecting this option will do the following:

  1. Add navigational elements within the user menu that direct to pages currently missing from the mobile website.
  2. Switch all MobileFrontend mobile special pages to redirect to the base MediaWiki special pages. (For example, if a link currently navigates to, switch to


  1. Perform user consultation based on proposed approach
  2. Determine navigational elements and hierarchy
  3. Determine metrics and build out instrumentation
  4. Build new navigation
  5. Switch links/Redirect mobile pages to MediaWiki pages
  6. Provide settings option and communicate widely
    1. Potentially provide banner/some sort of CTA for advanced editors
  7. Based on feedback, prioritize fixes necessary to special pages
  8. Perform fixes in prioritized order


The total length of this project would be approximately 1.5 Quarters

Technical estimates[edit]

The below estimate is for exposing the pages only. The special page fixes will require extra work depending on the scale/number of pages:

  • Navigation, link switching, adding new setting: 1 Quarter, approximately 2 engineers

Working with the communities[edit]

We would like to work with communities to help prioritize the special pages and flows for the mobile website as well as to help get feedback on the state of the project throughout development. We plan to do the following:

  • IRC Office hours
  • Constant communication throughout the development process with updates and time for the communities to provide feedback
  • Announce and discuss deployment schedules on all wikis
  • Provide banner/call to action for advanced editors upon deployment

Next Steps[edit]

Based on feedback received, we may continue with the following:

  • Expanding the set of fixes to special pages
  • Expanding the possible workflows available (making certain gadgets work on mobile, for example)
  • Continuing with similar changes in the vector skin (making vector responsive)

Rationale for choosing this technical approach[edit]


Achieving the overall objective can be done through the following on mobile:

  • Displaying hidden special pages in an existing MediaWiki skin
  • Identifying issues with current special pages and performing fixes to make pages usable

In terms of functionality, both the Vector and Minerva skins can achieve the objective. Investing in the Minerva skin for mobile, however, will make future transitions between entry-level editing and advanced editing easier and ensure a more consistent user experience throughout the process. In addition, exposing veteran editors to Minerva is likely to make them more conscious of the way their edits are displayed on the mobile website, which could eventually lead to providing better content for readers and editors alike.

Technical Rationale[edit]

From a technical perspective, doing these changes in the Minerva skin is preferable compared to Vector because of the downsides of doing so in Vector:

  • Less complexity - if we select Vector, we will need to hide the responsive vector changes under a feature flag, thus allowing for three separate versions of the mobile website - Vector, Responsive Vector, and Minerva. We would also have to work on making sure we hide gadgets for Responsive Vector or worse, audit all gadgets before shipping so that we do not break any existing gadgets or workflows in Vector
  • Onboarding cost and development time will be higher - doing the project in Vector will take approx. twice the amount of time
  • Higher maintenance cost - the team will be expected to bear the full burden of maintaining volunteer changes to Vector

Community risk and adoption rationale[edit]

From the community perspective:

  • No strong preference was shown towards performing the changes in either skin.
  • Doing the changes in the Vector skin introduces risk - it was highlighted during our sessions and individual consultations that many members of the community will prefer to use the desktop version of Vector on their phones despite the changes due to familiarity. We would like to allow editors to be able to continue doing this in the future
  • Community members stressed the importance of informing users on Minerva about the new advanced functionality to promote adoption.

Next Steps[edit]

  • IRC Office hours for additional input from communities on July 20th
  • Meeting with stakeholders to review the proposal


  • Technical analysis
  • Community consultation summaries and product rationale


Feedback on this work is welcome on the talk page.

Summaries of specific community feedback.