Talk pages project design and prototype

The project to improve the talk page experience is making great progress. A few wikimedians might be interested to see how it evolves, so here are some links to satisfy your curiousity:

A testable preview: https://en.wikipedia.beta.wmflabs.org/wiki/Talk:Discussion_tool_test
How to give feedback: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project/replying/prototype_testing

Project page and ideas: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project/replying
There are also some design mockups. Currently, they are asking for feedback on the different iterations. If you want to opine on those, head to: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T238177

12 Likes

The different design iterations show things like a live preview: Would you rather have the preview above the box where you’re typing, or below it, or in it? Your views are important.

Great work done

1 Like

With all the due respect: I always found the Mediawiki talk pages uncomfortable and, in my experience, very hard to use for newcomers. Not the kind of user interface you can expect for the 202* years.

My ideal fantasy tool would be something like embedded Discourse threads or something similar. Probably all of you knows and understand this concerns. Just wanted to leave some feedback.

Anyhow, thanks for your work.

4 Likes

Thanks @Olea for your feedback, it’s a motivation: I intend to work on embedding discourse threads in wiki pages.

Using wiki pages for discussions was a bolt-on concept when that was the simplest and already available solution. It is very 20th century. It is not designed for discussions at all and it’s not scaling to thousands of editors, yet we are still managing to operate it. The case is that many old-timer editors are used to it - thus it’s not difficult for them - and there is a strong attachment, therefore the unusual customs of talk pages live on.

1 Like

As discussion pages are as well work pages for article improvement, and in no way pages for general discussions, how will the new design make it possible to try something for the article layout on the discussion page?
Wikipedia is no forum, in the article name space not even a social media but strictly restricted for article improvement. So how will the main purpose of those talk pages at articles be kept?

I’m answering this as a volunteer - not developer -, to my best knowledge.

If your question addresses the currently in-progress talk pages project: as I understand the main principle is that the “functionality” of talk pages remains the same, drafting article content will be possible just like before. The development targets is currently a tool that makes the most common talk-page action - replying to a comment - simpler.

If your question addresses how embedded discourse threads would affect a talk page: first, that’s not in development or planned yet, it was a proposal I made earlier and Olea had the same idea. That would work like transcluding on a page: a part of the talk page is dedicated to a discourse thread, the surrounding talk page can be edited as usual.

To work on drafts on the talk page a typical workflow would be to create a section for the draft and a subsection below the draft for discussion. The discussion subsection would contain just a single template, like:
{{discourse|/t/talk-pages-project-design-and-prototype/2966}} which would transclude (embed) this thread into that talk page. When viewing the talk page there would be a limited area (max. 1 screen height), where these comments can be viewed and replied to. Only in this area wikitext editing would not be possible.

And a counter-question to you: I’ve tried to invite editors to participate in drafting content on the talk pages many times. Never did anybody join. I understand this is an appealing feature to be used (it appeals to me greatly), but if nobody uses it, then why is it so important?

1 Like

I’m a wee bit wary because of FLOW, so sorry for eventually jumping the gun.
Do yes, that sound quite OK for me, as long as talk pages still are wiki pages in general, and behave like ordinary wiki pages under normal circumstances.
I’d like to have a better on-boarding for n00bs, as long as the flexibility of ordinary talk pages ain’t got compromised. Ultimately they should learn normal wiki-syntax, and so talk pages should behave like everything else in the wikiverse.

I think that how people use talk pages depends on the wiki. The English Wikipedia has 11 non-redirect Talk: pages for every 10 non-redirect articles. The Simple English Wikipedia has 2 Talk: pages for every 11 articles. The German Wikipedia is in between these two, with about half of articles having Talk: pages. The wikis have different uses for Talk: pages, too. About 90% of articles at the Arabic Wikipedia have Talk: pages, but I haven’t seen a single discussion in their Talk: namespace. Instead, the pages contain only templates (and I hear that the discussions happen on Facebook instead).

I hear that the discussions happen on Facebook instead

That sounds reasonable :blush:

I imagine a good use for Talk pages would be for editing parts of the article to gain consensus before it’s published in the actual article. Discussions would be conducted below the editing area, but it’s quite impractical as the discussion quickly gets too long. Anyway, I haven’t seen this in practice and when I tried nobody joined, preferring to editwar on the article, instead.

That’s something I can’t comprehend. Facebook is outside the Wikiverse, it’s living off raping your privacy. Facebook discussions would be considered invalid back room talks outside the project and not valid, real discussions should take place in the project in the open for everyone.

If VE would be released on talk pages, a decision that is blocked without valid reasons by the devs of FLOW, some difficulties would probably cease to exist, I don’t believe in dumbing down the system to a level, thast far beyond the needed competencies for editing an article.

Exactly. So technical discussion should be supported for a trivial to use UX without the arcane practices due Mediawiki limits.

Also, in the case of Discourse, threads can be moderated, to keep the noise low.

I’m not sure if you are talking about thinks like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump too :-)

To me the need of this tools applies to Wikipedia:Village pump Wikipedia:Café and equivalents or similar. In my experience I need to feel me really motivated to follow the threads and use them only in very extreme cases.

If you would ask me I’d move all of those to this Discuss-Space.

Just saying.

2 Likes

This view is shared by most editors at your home wiki, and most editors at my home wiki, but not (apparently) by everyone in the world. Local community control means that those local communities get to decide which off wiki discussions are “valid”.

Although facebook sounds quite impractical, as long as backchanneling on IRC is endorsed - and irc logging prohibited -, considering any other form of communication as invalid would be unjustified and exclusionary.

Forget what I said here, I was mislead by my computer, that didn’t work properly with the beta-wiki. :unamused:

I only know of IRC etc. from things, that are deliberately ‘’‘not’’’ in the open, like ArbTalk or such. discussions about article content are even discouraged to take place on account talk pages, let alone outside the WikiProject.

And yes, Metapages like the Kurier, or Village Pump, or VM, or MBs are something different, but here as well anything that’s not prohibited from being in the open should be on-wiki. Tools for better usability. like VE or such, are fine, but going outside the Wikiverse, or dumbing down wikipages as a kind of facebookisation is not something that should be done.

Here in an archive from Lila Tretikovs talk page is one good usecase for some dumbed down blahblah space: In WN there are two associated Tals pages for each article, one normal one for working on the article, and one in LQT, that’s nicknamed ‘‘troll space’’, and no real author cares about what’S going on in that.

Please read about the targets of this project. What you’ve listed, are the opposite of what this project is about. It would be preferable to stay on topic and discuss this project.

1 Like

Yes, sorry, it didn’t work that way when I first tried it, I now tried it at home and it worked fine. That’s something I would like instead of the destructive FLOW. :smile:

I think this is very nice incremental improvement while community fights over what is the best non-wikitext discussion system.

I used it without logging in and got this unhelpful message.

1 Like

@Papuass, I’ve told the devs. Sometimes the Beta Cluster is …not working perfectly. Or working at all, for that matter. Please try again (maybe tomorrow).

Update: One of the devs says that this error is only happening to logged-out editors (please create an account there), and that they’ll fix it (unknown time).