Talk pages consultation 2019/Visual Editor on talk pages
These are notes on using Visual Editor on talk page content, as material for discussions in the Talk pages consultation 2019. It's been suggested before that new users would find it easier to use talk pages if they could use Visual Editor, as they do on content pages. (For example, this Community Wishlist Survey proposal.) Here are some notes and screenshots to document what would work, and what would need to change, if we turn on VE for talk pages. For the test, I copied talk page content from English Wikipedia's Talk:Pride and Prejudice page into my user sandbox.
To start with, you can add and edit text just fine, as you would on any VE page. You can create a new thread by selecting "Heading" in the dropdown menu and adding a heading.
There are a couple different conventions used when someone writes two or more paragraphs in one talk page post -- some people press return once between paragraphs, and some press return twice. The same happens between one post and the next.
As far as I know, this is a matter of personal taste, and there isn't a rule about it. This creates some awkward spacing in the VE display, with varying spaces between posts.
If you hit return after someone's message, it posts your message directly under it. If the previous message uses a : to indent, VE automatically uses a : on your post, to keep it at the same indentation level.
If you add a : in order to indent your message at the next indentation level, it appears to work...
... but it's actually adding <blockquote> tags around your message.
Trying to add a signature using four tildes makes a warning pop up: "Wiki markup detected... wikitext does not work here."
If you publish with the four tildes as a signature, it saves the wikitext with <nowiki> around the message.
The big three problems that new users have with talk pages are signatures, indentation and not being sure where to reply. Using VE on talk pages doesn't really help with any of those concerns. It does provide all of the usual VE features -- the ability to make links without using brackets, etc -- and it keeps people from being disoriented by raw wikitext, but it's only a partial step forward in helping people learn how to use talk pages.