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User subscription and permissions

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

User subscription and permissions says: "Since subscribing to other users can be problematic when taken from a "stalker" perspective, it is recommended that subscribing to another user require permission to be granted." And then a lot of extra features related to this are described.

Nowadays anybody can see the user contributions of anybody without requesting any permission. Why is this different? Is there a problem with stalkers because of this? This feature could be as simple as Twitter's Follow.

If someone misbehaves it's not because of following but because of posting inappropriate content in your user page or the discussions where you participate. After all this years of Wikipedia I guess we have precedents on this and ways to deal with this situation?

Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Yes, there are social issues related to "Wikistalking". The "request permission" feature was a request from the Ombudsmen committee after they were shown the thinking about Flow earlier in the year.

The "private conversation" part of the feature has gone away.

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

Ok, understood. Well, let's see how this works in practice. With or without Flow, stalkers always had and will have all the data to stalk.

Nigel Ish (talkcontribs)

I am concerned that this can be used by editors to conceal what they are doing or what they are saying, with poeple setting up "walled gardens" where only like minded editors can see what is being said, while stopping oversight from others. This has great potential for abuse by vandals or POV/COI merchants

Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Denying someone permission to follow you doesn't prevent you from reading their conversations, or even subscribing to individual elements on their board (given the model described).

This is a very complex topic and one that isn't finalized by any stretch of the imagination.

Risker (talkcontribs)

Jorm, I get the impression here that you're writing software based on some horror stories you've heard from English Wikipedians, with perhaps a soupcon of European "privacy" paranoia. You should know better. Subscription approval by itself might be enough to kill acceptance of this tool on English Wikipedia, where we still take openness seriously - I like the general idea of this software but even I would oppose its imposition with subscription approval. It's a bad idea on English Wikipedia, and a ten-times-worse idea on smaller projects with a smaller number of users who really do need to know what each other is doing. Please rethink. Risker (talk) 15:42, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Quiddity (talkcontribs)

As Jorm said in April, that feature-concept is a request from the Ombudsmen..

Also, keep in mind that mediawiki is designed to be adaptable (i.e. with options/toggles throughout, with different defaults at any given wiki based on their own needs), and is designed so that it can be used by thousands of wikis, both WMF projects and others.

Risker (talkcontribs)

Yes, I know - which pretty much informed my first sentence. I suppose it depends on what a "subscription" would include - if it includes one's entire feed including all the discussions on all the talk pages one watches whether or not one actually participates, frankly nobody in their right mind would approve any subscription requests. It's another matter when it comes to places where a user actually posts. That discussion absolutely must be publicly available, but I'm not seeing anywhere that describes where that information is available on something comparable to a user contribution page.

Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The user subscription example is just that: an example. I wrote it up by request from the Ombudsmen. The version that's out there is bizarrely more transparent than the initial one (which had all sorts of weird privacy-related events).

All discussions are public. Subscribing to a user just makes it easier to track them in a single place (instead of going to watchlist/contribs/etc.). The request was an exploration into the feasibility of openness regarding "followers". It clearly doesn't work when one is tracking a vandal, though, which is why I think it's doomed (I don't know if I wrote about that or not).

Either way: an exploration, nothing more.