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A memorable talk page experience

32
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Is there a particular talk page experience that stands out in your mind?

  1. Is it a story about how talking with someone on a talk page helped you to learn something new when you first started editing?
  2. Is it a story about how talk pages helped you and other contributors reach a decision about a difficult issue?
  3. Is it a story about how talk pages led to a successful collaboration with other contributors who turned out to be as enthusiastic as you about a particular topic?

...whatever your story is, the team is curious to hear it. Please share a link to the discussion you are thinking about or describe it in your reply to this topic.

For context: the team is gathering these examples as part of their effort to better understand the kinds of interactions and experiences this project should encourage to happen more often.

Guy Macon (talkcontribs)

One of the most productive talk page discussions I have ever had was at [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Slackware/Archive_2#ANNOUNCE:_Slackware_Linux_Distribution_1.00 ]. I would not be happy if a change was made that did not allow me to do what I did there.

On a related note, the comment you are reading is a reply to another comment because I can see no obvious way to create a new top level comment like the one from PPelberg (WMF) below. I don't want to start a new topic -- I want my comment to be under "A memorable talk page experience" -- but I also don't want it to be a reply, but it looks to me like I have to.

Issues like this are why I am reluctant to abandon our existing way of posting to talk pages. Using the old system If I have trouble with formatting I can see how other people created comments and copy what they did.

Finally, looks like I have to hit the Reply button and hope for the best. because I see no way to preview my comment before publishing it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ --Guy Macon (talk) 17:59, 18 October 2019 (UTC)

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

For me, a recent story comes to mind while I was contributing as a volunteer (User:Stussll)...


Learning from more senior contributors...

Discussion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Lombard_Street_(San_Francisco)#AB-1605

---

I recently had a conversation with two, more senior contributors, @Mathglot and @Jpgordon, on Talk:Lombard Street (San Francisco) ...

The interaction started with me being interested in adding content to the Lombard Street (San Francisco) article about a piece of legislation that had not yet been put into law and I was accordingly, not certain of the best way to do that.

Within minutes of posting to the article's talk page, @Jpgordon came by to tweak the content I'd written and offer an explanation as to why they'd made their edit as they had. Soon after, @Mathglot chimed in to offer their opinion and share links to a few policies they thought should be considered in this context. We all went back and forth a couple more times and ended up with, what I think, was a valuable addition to the article.

This entire interaction stands out in my mind for two reasons:

  1. It demonstrated to me how valuable talk pages can be in teaching/demystifying the editing process. In particular, I found great value in being able to read about policies in a context where I could immediately apply what I'd learned and have more senior contributors quickly offer feedback about the work I'd done in applying those policies..
  2. It was encouraging. It felt great to have more senior contributors offer support. This interaction has led me to feel more confident about stretching myself and making contributions I might have thought would've been "too advanced."
Doc James (talkcontribs)

A recent good example of a talk page discussion is this one on my talk page. People were able to easily link to other wiki pages, external sources, and color code / bold text.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Mmm, the flexibility talk pages afford...this is great. Thank you for taking the time to answer, @Doc James.

When you reflect on how you thought about/used talk pages when you were first getting started and how you think about/use talk pages now, what do you feel like has changed most?

Doc James (talkcontribs)

When you look at my first edits to talk pages I obviously had not figured out how to sign my name yet :-) I like the auto signature function. Still prefer the signatures at the end rather than the beginning like here but that is probably just what I am used to. One thing that has remained consistent over all this time is the need to have the ability to easily reference the literature. That adding references to article space and talk space is similar though is also important. Doc James (talk) 21:53, 1 October 2019 (UTC)

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I'm glad to hear you bring up automatically appending signatures and where signatures are placed (prepended or appended) as these are decisions we will need to make as part this project. I'd like to leave this thread open and come back to it, likely in the next few weeks.

To the point you raised around being able to easily cite references on talk pages...are you meaning talk pages, as they currently exist, make it easy for you to reference literature and you'd like for that experience to be kept intact? Are you meaning the process for citing references on talk pages could be improved? Something else? ...just wanting to be sure I'm understanding your comment as you intended it.

Thank you for all of your thought here ^ _ ^

Doc James (talkcontribs)

I use the RefToolbar 2.0 to add references. It works great most of the time. For talk pages it would be nice to have it add the "cite templates" but without the surrounding "ref" tags. Another issue with the reftoolbar is that it does not always load for large pages, likely something to do with the fact that it is build using javascipt but I am not sure. And sometimes the auto-fill ability stops working for a few days. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important Wikipedia tools and I would love to always have it load even if I need to wait a little longer for it to do so.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

> I use the RefToolbar 2.0 to add references.

RefToolbar is configured at very few wikis. Unlike, e.g., the citoid service in the 2017 wikitext editor, it is not available to all, or even most, users.

Barkeep49 (talkcontribs)

This is an interesting thread - ways to make it easy what content from the article is under discussion (whether references or article text itself) frequently ends up being somewhat cumbersome with our current system. Pie in the sky this could be easier.

HHill (talkcontribs)
Barkeep49 (talkcontribs)

For question 3, I think my most memorable experience started with me observing an editor who'd done a lot of work and then leaving them a talk page message (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Innisfree987#Hate_U_Give). That then lead to some collaborative work EN:Talk:The Hate U Give. Some of the collaboration has to be observed through the edit histories as well where the edit summaries built our collaboration. I'm still thinking about Q1 and Q2.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Barkeep49 this example is wonderful and precisely the kind of story/experience we hoped this question would inspire! Thank you for putting thought to this question and for sharing such a specific and vivid example.

"This article passes the GA criteria. Congratulations, and good work! It's clear you've put a lot of work into it – you should be proud of what you've created. Kevin (aka L235 · t · c) 21:22, 6 September 2018 (UTC)"


...it must've felt great to receive User:L235's message after your, Innisfree987's and others' work in the week's after your 25 August 2018 rewrite.


In an effort to understand this in a bit more detail, I had a few questions for you...


1. "...the edit summaries built our collaboration." Can you say more to this? What do you mean your edit summaries "built" your collaboration?

Reading these edit summaries, it seems to me, like y'all are narrating/describing your work...it's not immediately clear to me whether you're working in tandem/coordinating your efforts.


2. Do you remember what led you to writing on Innisfree987's talk page and what you hoped would come of that interaction?

It looks like you'd contributed to The Hate U Give article a couple of times before writing so I'm just wondering what might've prompted you to venture to their talk page.


3. Have you noticed this pattern elsewhere? This "pattern" being, you or someone else showing an interest in contributing to a page you've done a good amount of work on and their interest inspiring you to reengage with it?

I ask the above noticing in the month preceding your 25 August 2018 edit, Innisfree987 had made 2 edits and in the month following, they made 18 edits...how cool.

4. More broadly, how did you feel after this collaboration? Did it help you see/think about Wikipedia in a new or slightly different way?

I appreciate by 25 August 2018, you would've been editing for ~13 years, but I'm still curious if this collaboration "unlocked" anything for you.

Barkeep49 (talkcontribs)
  1. We definitely started off working in tandem. As we started moving towards the reviewed content realm we started coordinating more via talk page.
  2. Innis had previously reached out to me about helping him with a different article (en:Jason Reynolds) so our relationship started there.
  3. I have noticed this yes. It's not quite the same but I had noticed a topic on a user's "To do list" and found the topic interesting enough that I then created en:Ecclesia Athletic Association which I have then continued to collaborate with PMC on. To be honest we've done a fair amount of discussion and work off-Wiki at this point just because it was easier. One thing this did make me think of is an occasion where someone picked back-up a talk page discussion and did good work in the future. I'm specifically talking about en:Talk:Young adult romance literature where it had been nominated for deletion, I found a whole bunch of sources and then months later another editor came around and was able to use those sources to improve the article.
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

> 1. We definitely started off working in tandem. As we started moving towards the reviewed content realm we started coordinating more via talk page.

Got it. I wonder, if in the beginning, you felt the content of your edits and edit summaries were communication enough and not needing of any kind communication beyond that.


> 2. Innis had previously reached out to me about helping him with a different article (en:Jason Reynolds) so our relationship started there.

Oh, okay. It's neat to hear how your working relationship evolved with time.


> 3... I had noticed a topic on a user's "To do list" and found the topic interesting enough that I then created en:Ecclesia Athletic Association

First off, what an interesting article and it's inspiring to see how y'all translated the feedback the article received during the DYK review to resolve the issue the reviewer identified.


> 3. ...we've done a fair amount of discussion and work off-Wiki at this point just because it was easier

Interesting! Can you say more to this? What kinds of things have you found yourselves doing off-wiki? Coordinating work? Drafting articles? Other things? And what tools do you use for those purposes?


> 3. ...someone picked back-up a talk page discussion and did good work in the future. I'm specifically talking about en:Talk:Young adult romance literature where it had been nominated for deletion...

Woah – it looks like that other contributor really followed through. Out of curiosity, have you had other successes with posting sources and someone coming along to to make edits as Schazjmd did in the case of the Young adult romance literature article?


...by the way, I appreciate how thorough you've been in answering these questions ^ _ ^

Barkeep49 (talkcontribs)

"Got it. I wonder, if in the beginning, you felt the content of your edits and edit summaries were communication enough and not needing of any kind communication beyond that."

I would say that edits and edit summaries are enough, at least for me, to see that someone knows their stuff and is willing to engage collaboratively (e.g. if they change something I did, it's either minor or done with explanation). I try to go to talk page to build this trust when it doesn't seem like it's happening naturally.


"Interesting! Can you say more to this? What kinds of things have you found yourselves doing off-wiki? Coordinating work? Drafting articles? Other things? And what tools do you use for those purposes?"

Well we did a lot of source review - we each found stuff and compared notes to see if it added anything to the article. We also had a lot of discussions around photos and whether we could find any that would be commons appropriate (we couldn't), could get permission to make something commons ready (PMC couldn't), and so ultimately what of the options best met EN's Non-Free criteria and which of those were the best. This latter discussion - because of the copyright sensitive nature - would have been difficult to do on-wiki. Admittedly part of what we did was just encouraging each other. These conversations took place over email and IRC.


"Out of curiosity, have you had other successes with posting sources and someone coming along to to make edits "

Yes but that's the most recent and best example (and the only one that I could specifically remember as happening).


PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

"I try to go to talk page to build this trust when it doesn't seem like it's happening naturally."

Mmm, got it. So it sounds like you trust diffs will communicate to others what you've changed and you depend on edit summaries to communicate to others why you've made the change you have. And then in cases where more coordination is needed beyond that, you'll "escalate" communication to talk pages.

...please tell me if I've misinterpreted anything you've said.


"This latter discussion - because of the copyright sensitive nature - would have been difficult to do on-wiki. Admittedly part of what we did was just encouraging each other. These conversations took place over email and IRC."

Huh! This is helpful to know. Do you remember how this particular 1:1 exchange started? Did you or PMC initiate the conversation via the "Email this user" feature?

More broadly, is direct messaging with another contributor off-wiki, something you notice yourself doing frequently?


"Yes but that's the most recent and best example (and the only one that I could specifically remember as happening)."

I see.


Barkeep49 (talkcontribs)

To try and answer question 1, I just spent some time looking through my oldest Talk page edits. My inability to format and sign came through clearly as a hindrance. What really stood out to me was how little engagement there actually was with my comments. The first time someone substantively responded to me was an IP telling me I was on the right track and which then led to me making improvements to the article and years later when I returned to Wikipedia turning that article into a Good Article (en:The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle). I've given a bunch of thought to question 2 and there are definitely times when talk pages have helped me and another editor or maybe 2 other editors solve a problem. But I'm not sure they'll look like much. Where talk pages can make things hard is when there are several editors, sometimes as few as three, all attempting to discuss something together.

HHill (talkcontribs)

I had some offwiki instruction while at university prior to starting editing. :de:Diskussion:Gislebert von Mons contains my first edit to talk namespace (outside my own talk page).

Quite memorable for me is :de:Wikipedia:Bibliotheksrecherche/Anfragen/Archiv/2011/II#Aufstand der Vendée (archived from here), I am still active on that particular page. I have shown a fairly typical edit there to one of your former colleagues.

How difficult our communication environment must be for someone without prior exposure became obvious to me in this discussion.

One of the first obstacles can be signing your user name to a list of participants.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

We appreciate you sharing these links, @HHill – thank you for taking the time to find them. A couple of questions for you...

> Quite memorable for me is :de:Wikipedia:Bibliotheksrecherche/Anfragen/Archiv/2011/II#Aufstand der Vendée (archived from here),

Wow. It looks like you and user:Doc Taxon helped user:Usquam find 63 sources to help improve the article they were wanting to improve [1] ...

Question:

1) What was it about this particular conversation that was memorable for you? The number of sources you were able to share with user:Usquam? The edits those sources helped user:Usquam make? Something else?


> How difficult our communication environment must be for someone without prior exposure became obvious to me in this discussion.

Oh, yes. This is a wonderful example. It looks like a few things are happening to user:Ephemeratta here:

- The talk page does not make it clear they need to do something explicit so others can know who said what and when

- The talk page does not make it clear it is a page that is intended to communicate with other volunteers

- The talk page does not make it clear how and if the people "you" are intending to communicate with will see/be notified of your message

Questions:

2) Do you observe other contributors having similar difficulties with talk pages as the person is in the example you shared?

3) What led you to post on this person's talk page in the first place?


> One of the first obstacles can be signing your user name to a list of participants.

In the instance that prompted you to ask this question, do you remember if you were logged in? If so, there should be a way for you to reply on mobile/tablet without needing to manually input "~~~~" to have your name and the time of your post appended to your reply.


HHill (talkcontribs)

1) The size of the request certainly was unusual and memorable. I also acquired still useful search strategies and techniques while looking for those sources.

2) This was a particularly striking example, others were having less difficulties. I suspect there is some sort of Dunkelfeld though.

3) He was editing articles I had watchlisted and I wanted him to do something to improve articles I had written in another language version.

4) These new users, over whose shoulders I was looking, were logged in. Indeed, there should be an obvious way. They weren't seeing it, and neither I nor other experienced users present could find it. I should note though, this is not about autosigning a reply of some sort.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

1) The size of the request certainly was unusual and memorable. I also acquired still useful search strategies and techniques while looking for those sources.

Got it. Thank you for clarifying.


2) This was a particularly striking example, others were having less difficulties. I suspect there is some sort of Dunkelfeld though.

"It took him about a month to learn proper indenting.."

The person's experience you are describing in this story is unfortunate, tho it happens to be an excellent example of how difficult talk pages can be for newer contributors to use. Thank you for sharing this.


3) He was editing articles I had watchlisted and I wanted him to do something to improve articles I had written in another language version.

I see. Understood.


4) These new users, over whose shoulders I was looking, were logged in. Indeed, there should be an obvious way. They weren't seeing it, and neither I nor other experienced users present could find it. I should note though, this is not about autosigning a reply of some sort.

I'd understood this question to be about autosigning a reply, tho it sounds like I've misunderstood what you were saying...what is it you were wanting to get across?

Alsee (talkcontribs)

I believe @HHill was refering to this diff. It is a non-talkpage edit, and it's not really a comment. The user wants to add their name to a group membership list. The desired edit is basically as follows:

# ~~~~

A new user generally won't come across that kind of page without a more experienced user directing them to it, and it's rather odd for someone to to be adding themselves to a membership list before ever Talking with anyone.

I'm not sure about German Wikipedia, but the solution is available in at least three places on English Wikipedia. The wikitext editor has a signature button, the info is in the wikitext editor Help menu (it's buried under a submenu - I suggest moving it to top level under Help), and we have an editnotice for talk pages which explains ~~~~.

HHill (talkcontribs)

Yes, that is the difflink I was talking about and Alsee has explained the desired result and the existing buttons in the desktop editors (to which I add the VisualEditor). This was in the context of a meeting. And yes, we would like new users to announce their attendance either by sending an email or signing their name or better yet their username to a list, so we can plan accordingly.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That sort of list is common for WikiProject membership lists at the English Wikipedia, for newsletter sign-ups (especially non-MassMessage lists), endorsements for grant proposals, and in-person events around the world.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Perhaps we should tell @Doc Taxon that we are saying nice things about him over here.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

One discussion that I will always remember involved two knowledgeable but not very experienced editors, who had different perspectives on an academic field. One of them got blocked for edit warring, and tried to appeal the block. Look at some of his attempts to appeal his first block: The other one tried to leave a comment but he had an unclosed ref tag, and at that time, that would make everything after the ref tag silently disappear until an experienced editor fixed it . (The parser has changed since then, so the text won't disappear if you look at the old revision of the page now.)

Alsee (talkcontribs)

One of the important activities on talk pages is our Request For Comments (RFC) process for resolving disputes. One of the jobs I do is evaluate RFCs and write a "closure" statement ending the discussion. I provide an outcome or result for the debate. One RFC I closed was particularly memorable for multiple reasons en:Talk:Macedonia_(ancient_kingdom)/Archive_14

It's a 100 kilobyte page, with 30 people arguing the issue. 20 people supported the proposal, 10 people opposed the proposal. In the vast majority of cases RFCs get closed in favor of the majority. This RFC-closure was particularly memorable because I closed closed in favor of a 2-to-1 minority.

Another reason it was memorable is because something happened during the debate that would have been impossible anywhere except for a wiki discussion page. One of the editors went through the whole discussion and CUT 17 of the replies scattered across the page. They then pasted them back onto the page as a single group. They wrapped that group inside a collapsible-section titled "Comments of SPAs". (SPA means Single Purpose Account - accounts or IP editors who are here for one reason, who only care about their one issue, and who have little knowledge or concern for Wikipedia policies.)

Cutting and grouping those 17 responses turned out to be very helpful, both for me as well as for any future editor wanting to understand the debate. I immediately focused on that group of 17 responses to figure out 'what the heck is going on here'. I was quickly and easily able to determine that all 17 were brand new accounts or IPs, that none of them knew anything about Wikipedia policies, and that they were clearly all Greek Nationalists called in by somebody trying to "vote" a majority victory. Those 17 arguments were repetitive junk and worthless under Wikipedia policy. That left 13 other responses. 10 were experienced editors presenting a strong case for one side, and 3 experienced editors presenting a poor case for the other side. A 20-vs-10 debate effectively turned into a 10-vs-3 debate.

One of the cool things about Wikipedia is how simple, powerful, and flexible wikipages are. A wikipage is just a free-form text file. You can cut&paste anything anywhere, you can modify anything anywhere in any way. Most wiki discussions follow a standard pattern, but it's a delight when special cases pop up and you can freely do things or change things in uncommon-but-useful ways, in ways that would be impossible anywhere other than a wikipage.

Aron Manning (talkcontribs)

I often do this "refactoring" in forum moderation, either by hiding off-topic posts, or moving posts to a separate thread. The "Comments of SPAs" sounds like the latter, however with a bit more control on the location and presentation of the separated comments.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Lotje I pasted your comment here so it has a comment that can be replied to...

The history of my talkpage on [https://nl.wiktionary.org/wiki/Overleg_gebruiker:Lotje nl.wiktionary] demonstrates User:MarcoSwart is always helpful, also on the [https://fy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meidogger_oerlis:Lotje Frisian wiki], User:Drewes gives help and support. Unfortunatly, this cannot be said for some of the conversations on the [https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overleg_gebruiker:Lotje/Archief2015 Dutch wiki]. But I guess it is common knowledge the Dutch language wiki is rather problematic in some ways. On the Frisian, nl.wiktionary, commons project (User:Vysotsky is very, very helpful) , to use the words of PPelberg (WMF): I feel confident about stretching myself and making contributions I might have thought would've been "too advanced", on the Dutch project I feel very uncomfortable, misunderstood and not helped at all when I ask questions. to be honest, the tone is quite often agressive and denigrating,

Glad I found my reaction back. Also User:Meneerke bloem on commons has always been very helpful and positively minded towards me. :

Aron Manning (talkcontribs)

Once I needed to link to specific comments, when an editor used a talk page inappropriately in this discussion, therefore I've added anchors before the individual comments. Sadly the editor tried to remove the anchors, and editwarred on the talkpage. Modern discussion implementations (like SD) remove this source of conflict with the use of permalinks.

The benefit of the unstructured talk page was that I could split the discussion into its own subsection. That feature would be beneficial in the new talk pages. Discourse has that feature.

Kaartic (talkcontribs)

One discussion which I very well remember is the one that happened surrounding the announcement of graduating the "New Filters on Watchlist" out of beta.

It happened in the English Wikinews water cooler page. It was one of the very involved discussion, I've ever been involved in. The discussion was related to a difference of opinion about the feature.

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