Talk pages project

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This page is a placeholder for the work the Editing Team will do in the coming months to improve talk pages and more broadly, how contributors collaborate on wiki more effectively.

This work is informed by the 6-month-long Talk pages consultation 2019.

More information will be coming soon. In the meantime, watch this page:

Watch this page


Getting involved[edit]

Throughout the course of this project there are going to be many questions we will need help answering. Questions like...

  • What was your experience like using this prototype?
  • How do you think we should measure the success of this feature?
  • Where should this be deployed first?

Please add your name to this list if you would like to be invited to these conversations.

Use this format to add your name:

{{#target:User talk:YOUR USERNAME HERE}}

Essential questions[edit]

This section will list the high-priority, open-ended and subjective questions we genuinely need help answering.

  • What does a "better" talk page experience mean? How do we measure this?
  • What is "good" collaboration in the context of Wikipedia? How do we measure "good collaboration"?
  • How do we build software that will work for projects at varying scales and stages of development?

Updates[edit]

9 September 2019 – Wikimania[edit]

Members of the Editing Team were in Stockholm, Sweden to attend this year’s Wikimania. We arrived with a few questions in mind:

  • What are contributors' current experiences with Talk Pages? What could be improved?
  • How have the Foundation's past efforts to improve on-wiki communication impacted contributors?
  • What new questions will the team need to consider answering?

To help answer these questions, we engaged with Wikimania in the following ways:

  • We led a session in the Community Growth Space to share the Talk Page Consultation's findings and outcomes
  • We had casual conversations with contributors from around the movement
  • We met with the Foundation’s Parsing team to explore how wikitext syntax might be evolved to enable some of the improvements that surfaced in the Talk Page Consultation
  • We attended sessions relevant to Talk Pages throughout the three conference days

Below are our findings and notes from this year's conference...

[Session] After Flow: A new direction for improving talk pages[edit]

Session overview | Slides | Q&A notes | Session recording (YouTube video)

Session overview

The team led a session in the Community Growth Space to bring attendees up to date on what we've learned from the Talk Page Consultation and to discuss some of the decisions and tradeoffs we will collectively need to make to improve how contributors collaborate using talk pages.

Around 35 people attended the session who, generally, agreed talk pages need to be improved and were glad the WMF is prioritizing this work. With this said, some people expressed skepticism about whether the Foundation would follow through on completing the improvements we are proposing. More specifically, attendees were clear about how – in the past – the Foundation has promised changes to improve on-wiki communication and collaboration that have not been fully delivered (e.g., Flow).

The Q&A that followed the presentation was lively. People asked about the future of Flow and asked for more details about the improvements to existing talk pages. Notes from the Q&A portion of the session will be posted to the project FAQ. In the meantime, they are available in this Etherpad: AfterFlow session notes.

Session takeaways

  1. Communicate and follow through. We need to acknowledge we do not have people's full trust. We need to appreciate how the Foundation promised big changes with Flow and has not been able to deliver on all of them. In response, we need to make improvements more iteratively and communicate any changes about these plans early, often and thoroughly.
  2. Create spaces for conversations. During the Q&A, there were many questions we – the team – do not yet have answers to. Questions like: What improvements will be implemented? How will they be implemented? When will they be implemented? These are valid questions that need to be answered. They are also valid questions we do not yet have definitive answers to. In being open about not having all the answers, we noticed people in the audience started trying to help. This is exactly how we think this work needs to feel and flow...for us all to be asking and answering questions together, as partners. This interaction was a good reminder. It reminded us that we need to be intentional about creating environments where diverse groups of people feel invited to speak up. And we think this will partly depend on us continuing to be open about what we do and do not know.

[Causal conversations][edit]

Following the team’s session in the Community Growth Space, an impromptu and productive feedback session happened with experienced contributors from Hungarian, German, Swedish and English Wikipedias.

These were a few of the highlights from this conversation:

  • Often times contributors are wanting to find the specific conversation where a decision was made about the content of an article, but that conversation is difficult to find. Being able to more easily search archived conversations could help this. This was something that came up in the Talk Page Consultation as well: #Searching.
  • Contributors who focus on helping newcomers learn Wikipedia observe newcomers write “everywhere” looking for help. One person suggested communication on the wikis be centralized to make a system that can be more easily understood by newcomers.
  • In relation to some of the criticism about unfulfilled promises, contributors generally agreed that an approach of incrementally developing features seems like a good idea.

[Meeting] Editing Team + Parsing Team[edit]

⚠️Notes will be posted later

[Session] All Talk? The effects of easier communication interfaces (than user talk pages) on collaborative production[edit]

Session overview

⚠️Notes will be posted later

Overview[edit]

How does this project fit?[edit]

Goals[edit]

What are we trying to achieve? How will we know whether we are achieving it?

  • Improve on-wiki collaboration

Rationale[edit]

  • What research is this project built on?
  • What has been tried in the past?
  • What were the results of those efforts?

What's happening?[edit]

What is changing?[edit]

  • Creating a new default experience atop Talk pages
  • Probably adding to/changing wikitext conventions (if that enables important goals, like section-watchlisting)
  • Potentially changing where the "Discussion" tab exists on the page
  • Potentially changing where metadata – that currently exists atop some talk pages – is presented

What is not changing?[edit]

  • The ability to contribute using wikitext
  • The agreements volunteers have created over time to define the purposes of Talk pages

Scope of project[edit]

  • What pages will be affected?
    • Designated talk namespaces, e.g., Talk:, User_talk:, Wikipedia_talk:, etc.
    • Maybe individually designated Project: pages
  • Time scale
    • 1 or 2 years

Product development[edit]

Product principles[edit]

  • Promote collaboration
  • Honor mastery
  • Don't stop people from getting the job done
  • Reduce barriers

Design principles[edit]

Process[edit]

  • User testing
  • Evaluating impact
  • Measurement and reporting


Glossary[edit]

  • Talk pages
  • Namespaces
  • User talk:
  • Talk:

FAQ[edit]