User icons

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These are draft notes expanding on an idea for icons to represent new users.

User experience[edit]


Currently, Wikipedia editors use implicit attributes, such as the presence of red links and the content of userpages, as signals about a user's experience level. Understanding whether someone is inexperienced is used to make decisions about how to prioritize edits for review.

For IPs, the lack of a username is enough to show editors that the person is not considered trustworthy. For those logged in, redlinks on the userpage, user talk page, or both are flags to editors that the person's edit potentially requires extra attention.

This strategy is used when looking at Watchlists, RecentChanges, Talk/User talk pages, and even third party tools like Huggle. The more items there are in a feed, the more likely an editor needs signals like redlinks to give them context about what edits to address first. However, this use of redlinks is both potentially inaccurate and an unintended use case; red links are solely to denote whether something exists or not.


We propose that a set of standard icons be created that indicate the experience level and/or userrights of a Wikipedian. This change would be an affordance for many kinds of interactions, from vandalism patrol to welcoming of new Wikipedians.

This set of icons would appear on feeds such as Watchlists, RecentChanges, and page history where there are a mix of users with different experience levels visible (i.e. not on user contributions)

A first test of this system might simply alter the current appearance of the previously mentioned feeds and add the two following icons to the desktop view:

  • New editor, probably defined as registered users who are not autoconfirmed. Though lack of experience could easily extend beyond the 10 edits/4 days of autoconfirmation (using English Wikipedia's standard for the right), it is a decent working corollary to the lack of a userpage that is currently the signal implicitly in use.
  • Bot

This new editor icon in specific is an idea that is planned for the future GlobalProfile system. It has also been suggested in places such as WikiProject Editor Retention. The bot icon is currently implied by usernames and as filters which utilize the bot flag.

Future ideas[edit]

However, the user need served by such an icon could easily be better served by extending the icon set to other sorts of users, such as:

  • Anonymous editor (to potentially replace IP)
  • Sysop
  • Bureaucrat
  • Steward
  • Other user access levels (see English Wikipedia's as an example)

Use of icons to represent higher permissions levels is completely experimental and would need to be carefully tested in consultation with the community, in order to not encourage more "hat collecting" or the perception that sysop edits are in fact more important editorially-speaking.

An alternate to using user access levels is to denote a general "experienced editor" icon which would be allocated to those with years of tenure and thousands of edits. More experienced editors use tools such as userboxes and status icons on userpages in order to indicate their userrights and experience level, though this requires inspecting a separate page on the part of a curious editor, which is fairly inefficient.

User stories[edit]

As a Wikipedia editor, I want to know how experienced another editor is, so I can decide how to react to their contribution.

Technical implementation[edit]