User:Deskana (WMF)/Power user tools development team



  • This document represents the thinking of Deskana (WMF), written into a more formal proposal in order to advocate to the senior management at the Wikimedia Foundation for the assignment of resources to our power users. This is, as of the day this was published, not a resourced project.
  • This proposal was one of the many factors that ultimately led to the creation of the Community Tech team.
  • The product manager for this team would have to say no to a *lot* of things in order to make sure that the team bites off an achievable amount of work and actually does that work well. There are far more good ideas than there are people to work on them. Please bear that in mind when considering this proposal.

Statement of the problem[edit]

It is often claimed that the Wikimedia Foundation’s Engineering and Product Development departments don’t do enough to “support the community”. This statement often comes from Wikimedians with years of experience and tens of thousands of edits (i.e. users well into the 99th percentile of activity) and reflects the fact that much of the work that we do is targeted or biased towards attracting new editors or keeping new editors around for a little longer. Our VisualEditor, Mobile, and Flow initiatives, which are repeatedly declared as top 5 priorities for a quarter, are prime evidence of our heavy emphasis on attracting and retaining new users.

However, this focus has its drawbacks. Considering the size of their user group, highly experienced users produce and, perhaps more importantly, maintain a disproportionately large amount of content. The issues these users face on a day-to-day basis range from large, high-complexity problems such as edit conflicts, to smaller annoyances and UX inconsistencies such as only being able to suppress individual revisions of a deleted page. Many of these issues have become more prevalent as time goes on, due to the technical debt inherent in the platform, the increased complexity and thus opportunities for gremlins in the system as we add more features for other user groups, and the lack of resourcing allocated to solving such problems. Although there has been a significant growth of the Engineering and Product Development department, power users have not seen a growth in people assigned to help them solve the issues that they frequently face.

As these users are responsible for so much content, improving their user experience by increasing the quality of the tools they use to create, curate and maintain this content should, both directly and indirectly, increase the quality of the content itself. Efforts to assist this user base will improve their satisfaction with both MediaWiki and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Proposed solution[edit]

A Power User Tools Development Team should be formed. The scope of the team will be:

  • Developing and maintaining the user-facing tools that are critical to the workflows of our most active community members.
  • Ensuring that these tools are created to deliver a high-quality user experience that one would expect of a top 5 Web property.
  • Ensuring these tools are created in a manner that doesn’t exacerbate pain points for newcomers to our projects

There will be an initial exploratory phase where the team will engage with the community and triage feature requests. Existing documents, such as those created at the Admin Tools Roundtable at Wikimania 2014, and mw:Admin tools development, can be used as a basis for this scoping. Work will be broken down into individual categories, e.g. “Triage”, “CheckUser”, “Blocking”, “Renaming”, etc., and individual problems in each category will be placed in a product backlog.

The team will then use the Scrum methodology to plan, estimate and commit to work in fortnightly sprints, with stories drawn from the backlog. The product manager will ensure that the team’s progress is externally visible to the community, possibly with the help of a Community Liaison. A rigorous development methodology will also be crucial as the product owner and community liaison will need to make commitments and assurances to the community as an ongoing part of their engagement work, and how often the team is able to deliver on their promises will affect how the community decides to engage with the team.

Team quarterly goals[edit]

Much of the work that is within the scope of this team is currently being handled by other, ad-hoc teams which were formed around work declared to be a priority. The team’s initial goals would revolve around taking ownership of this work, rounding that work off, and ensuring its deployment.

The set of goals the team could draw from when deciding their first quarter of work include:

  • Building out CheckUser to better support user workflow.
  • Get existing admin tools, CheckUser, and suppression working on mobile web/apps.
  • Globalise tools that currently exist in local-only form (e.g. CheckUser, user contributions, etc.)

Creation of Community Tech team[edit]

This proposal was influential in the Apr. 21, 2015 creation of a Community Tech team. I'm not sure we can consider this "done" quite yet but we're pointed in the right direction. -LuisV (WMF) (talk) 07:35, 22 April 2015 (UTC)


Sign below if you like this idea and would be willing to help with making it happen.

  1. Dan Garry, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 17:50, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  2. Ragesoss (talk) 17:51, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  3. Harej (talk) 17:53, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  4. +1 —Tom Morris (talk) 17:54, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  5. This would be a really great way to start bridging a somewhat neglected area of the Foundation-community gap. Fluffernutter (talk) 17:58, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  6. Wittylama (talk) 17:59, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  7. +1 -- Avi (talk) 18:03, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  8. I'd like to be the community liason on this team! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thryduulf (talkcontribs) 22:47, 25 March 2015
  9. Absolutely. But then I would say that—I'd be using these new/enhanced tools! HJ Mitchell (talk) 23:47, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  10. --Aubrey (talk) 07:28, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  11. --Djembayz (talk) 12:09, 26 March 2015 (UTC) Yes, developing high quality Gender Concerns Reporting Tools as a purely volunteer effort suggests it's not a priority ...
  12. Kosboot (talk) 12:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  13. Sadads (talk) 12:57, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  14. Erik Zachte (WMF) (talk) 14:17, 26 March 2015 (UTC) Not sure I can help, but I welcome this proposal as constructive and promising
  15. Ed [talk] [en:majestic titan] 14:20, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  16. /Haxpett (talk) 15:12, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  17. Adville (talk) 15:57, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  18. Definitely support this initiative, can help with initiating discussions and RFCs. I JethroBT (talk) 20:53, 26 March 2015 (UTC).
  19. Hitting the nail on the head. Resident Mario (talk) 00:13, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
  20. Yes, yes, yes. Big revolutionary changes like VisualEditor and Flow are much-needed, but incremental improvements in watchlists, templates, patroling, and other areas are much-needed, too. Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 13:04, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
  21. Yes indeed. A simple tool for checking that the amount of {, {{, {{{, [ and [[ + }, }}, }}}, ] and ]] sums up are very high on my wish list. Debugging templates often take too much time.--Paracel63 (talk) 08:37, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  22. Willing to support in some capacity, whether as staff or volunteer. Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 16:22, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  23. --Kippelboy (talk) 12:12, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  24. Mbrinkerink (talk) 12:15, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  25. Raymond (talk) 12:36, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  26. Yes definitely needed Doc James (talk) 12:36, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  27. --Seewolf (talk) 12:40, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  28. Overdue, deeply needed, huge potential for improving community functions and relationships. Please, yes. And I want to help. Ocaasi (talk) 17:26, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  29. Very promising proposal. I'd like to support this also as a developer. -- Bene* (talk) 22:01, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  30. sounds promising, but please don't concentrate on CheckUser and admintools only since the focus always has to be the authors and the quality of the content -- Achim Raschka (talk) 08:05, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
  31. DerHexer (talk) 10:02, 9 April 2015 (UTC) Agreed with Achim Raschka.
  32. LuisV (WMF) (talk) 17:38, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
  33. for most sister projects a one/two week intensive effort would be mana from heaven. Scheduling and triage would add value. Thx Deskana. — billinghurst sDrewth 07:31, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
  34. Conny (talk) 09:50, 21 May 2015 (UTC). Agreed with Achim Raschka.

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