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Feedback request - Notifications badges, and grouping notifications by type

Summary by Trizek (WMF)
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Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

A translatable version is at Notifications/Sorting schemes

The overall task is: Deciding how to sort the notification-types (e.g. "new usertalkpage message", "your edit was reverted", "a page you created has been linked to", "thanks", etc) into 2 groups. The current sorting has some problems. There are 2 more logical alternatives which the team is trying to decide between, and wants your feedback on (your preferences, or concerns). The recommendation is we start off with the "By urgency" grouping.

Please share your feedback at the Phabricator task or here on

Problem to solve

There are currently two Notification fly-out menus, one for Alerts and one for Messages. Different notification types show up on different menus. There have been criticism over time that the scheme for dividing up the messages is unclear and/or inconsistent. These criticisms include the following:

  • Ideas of "urgency" and "requiring follow up" are mixed together, making it difficult to explain or predict why different items are in each fly-out.
  • Currently, "Alert" items are automatically "marked as read" on opening the fly-out. Yet some of these require follow-up or other action to be fully understood (e.g., Mention), so this feature's value is not always clear.
  • Because "Alerts" are perceived as "Urgent", the "Thanks" and other items seem out of place in that fly-out.


  • To create a scheme that is easy to understand, learn, and predict.
  • To give editors clearer information about their new notifications.
  • To reduce unnecessary distraction from non-urgent notifications.
  • Something that works well for editors who get large (and small) quantities of notifications.
  • Something that scales well, as new (requested) notification types are created.
  • Something that scales well, once cross-wiki notifications are available.


See examples of the most common notification types at File:Notifications Catalog.png.


  1. Current
  2. Urgent versus Non-Urgent
  3. Follow-up versus No follow-up (is a reply needed/likely)

(This table has no annotations, and just shows the most common notification-types. See a more detailed version here at googledocs which also includes a 4th (more complicated) alternative.)

Three Alternative Schemes for Separating Notifications into the 2 Different Fly-Out Menus
View Mockup of this Concept in Action View a Mockup of this Concept In Action
welcome edit-user-talk edit-user-talk welcome welcome edit-user-talk
reverted flow-new-topic reverted page-linked page-linked reverted
page-linked flow-post-reply mention edit-thank user-rights mention
mention flow-post-edited user-rights flow-thank edit-thank flow-new-topic
user-rights flow-topic-renamed emailuser flow-new-topic flow-thank flow-post-reply
emailuser flow-mention flow-post-edited flow-post-reply flow-topic-renamed flow-post-edited
edit-thank flow-mention flow-topic-renamed cx-first-translation flow-mention
flow-thank cx-first-translation cx-tenth-translation emailuser
cx-first-translation cx-tenth-translation cx-hundredth-translation
cx-tenth-translation cx-hundredth-translation
Ideas of Urgency and Follow up are mingled in ways that are inconsistent, making this difficult to explain or predict. Division, while subjective, is clear and will track with some users' expectations (given the red badge color). The division is subjective. Given differing working styles, some users will disagree with assignment of individual items. Division is relatively clear and explicable and tracks with a hypothetical use case ("I'll just check these all quickly now.") Division, while relatively objective, is nonstandard and may be difficult to label simply for users. ("Alerts" vs. "For Follow Up"?)
Because some "Alert" items require follow-up and are not self-contained (e.g., Mention), ability to Mark as Read on open is of questionable value Factor of urgency may provide an aid to triage ("check these first") Ability to automatically mark as read is appropriate and can be preserved. The main shortcoming of this scheme is that it doesn't give users any information about urgency. So, the question is, which would users prefer to be informed about: "I have some items I can dispatch quickly (which this does), or "I have some items that are important" (for which there is no indication).
Because alerts are perceived as Urgent, Thank Yous and other items seem out of place. Fairly close to current scheme We've discussed adding a "pinning" feature to notifications. When we do, that might make this divsion less valuable.
In this scheme, an effort was made to determine the messages that users would want to know right away vs. those that they may regard as less pressing. Urgency was more or less arrived at by consensus in consultation with various team members. What to label these: "Alerts" works reasonably well, since it does carry a connotation of urgency. But many of the Alerts are arguably Messages as well (e.g., edit-user-talk). Suggest "Notices" as not sounding to deprecatory but connoting a lower level of urgency. The division here is based on the idea that some messages are relatively self-contained and can be fully understood based on the info in the notification, while others require follow up simply to understand what happened. Flow-new-topic is marked as requiring follow up. This is a very common type and not that vital, so a good candidate for automatic Mark as Read. If we use this scheme, we might want to reclassify Flow-new-topic, which is questionable for Requires Follow Up anyway...
The red, "Urgent," badge color for Alerts is recommended for this scheme. In labelling the non-urgent items, we need to be careful that some groups (e.g., Translation) don't perceive that we are labelling their activities less important. Talk, Mention and Revert are the most clicked on notification types according to the graph linked to below. So, segregating them For Follow Up seems to make sense. [1]
Many of the Urgent (Alert) items require follow-up (e.g., edit-user-talk), so use of automatic Mark as Read is not recommended. Since urgency is not the dividing line, would recommend not using red for Alerts.
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)
This discussion uses Flow, a new discussion style similar to many internet forums. To add your feedback, scroll to the end of any comment and click "Reply", or type your comment in the box at the end of the thread, where it says Reply to "Feedback requests - Notifications badges, and grouping notifications by type".
Trizek (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Whatamidoing (WMF), I've copied this banner on the topic summary on the top of this conversation.

Jmorgan (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Remind me: is the currently implemented sorting solution "reverse chronological order by date/time"?

Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Jmorgan (WMF) within each of the 2 panels/flyouts, yes, that is the order that old read-notifications are displayed in.

However, in the 2nd ("Messages") flyout, unread-notifications are kept at the top. That is one of the factors (i.e. should the "Alerts" flyout continue to "mark all as read" as soon as we open it?) in this overall bigger question, of how we divide the notification-types, between each of the 2 panels.

Jmorgan (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Thanks, I understand a little better now @Quiddity (WMF). 'nother question: how do you determine what is an "alert" vs. a "notice" (or an "alert" vs "for follow-up"? I ask because (to take one example), "edit-thank" appears as an Notice in option #1, but an "Alert" in option #2.

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