Talk Pages Consultation 2019: A summary of the English Wikipedia and sister projects' ideas
With nobody else stepping up to close the English Wikipedia's discussion regarding the future of talk pages, it was up to Alsee to post the results. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Almost nobody wants Flow or a similar talk page replacement to return.
- That doesn't mean people don't want change, though—in the same straw poll that asked about support for Flow, 95% of users supported some kind of "incremental" change to talk pages.
- There were many complaints regarding posting to talk pages using the mobile site, due to the widespread stance that the mobile site is more focused on readers than editors. As such, several users mentioned using the desktop site when editing on mobile devices.
- Several users cited difficulty regarding how to thread discussions, including where to reply and how to indent.
- Many users asserted that user engagement problems are more due to Wikipedian cultural problems, as opposed to issues with the way talk pages work.
- Almost everyone wants to keep wikitext and regular page histories/diffs.
- Infinite scrolling is very unpopular.
- Many users want autosigned comments.
- Some users want VisualEditor enabled in talk and other namespaces.
- Other issues discussed include low-visibility talk pages, making it possible to add individual sections of a page (for example, on WP:ANI) to watchlists, and edit conflicts.
- Alsee concluded by saying: "It's worth noting that a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees participated in the consultation, and they were part of the near-unanimous support for keeping and improving the existing wikipages for Talk."
Some sister projects, however, came to different conclusions. Here's a summary of all the sister projects' summaries:
- Catalan Wikipedia, which uses Flow, liked Flow for small discussions because it removed the requirements to ping users and sign posts. For longer discussions, there are problems with Flow's inability to manually move off-topic messages. Flow's infinite scrolling was also criticized.
- Chinese Wikipedia, which has Flow enabled on a minority of talk pages, complained about Flow's handling of their wiki's automatic Simplified-to-Traditional Chinese script conversion system. They also criticized Flow's incomplete wiki markup support, infinite scrolling and poor table-of-contents capabilities. Some users suggested enabling VisualEditor on most talk pages.
- The discussion on Dutch Wikipedia centered mainly around behavioral issues. Users cited newcomers' issues with talk page syntax, as well as incivility by more experienced users.
- English Wikisource users wanted it to be more clear to new users how to centralize discussions.
- French Wikipedia preferred wikitext talk pages, even though they saw them as complicated, especially for new users, for many of the reasons English Wikipedia contributors mentioned. Users also complained about the requirement of signing posts and it being difficult to notify other users. Flow was seen as more newcomer-friendly, but was more unpopular due to its infinite scrolling (you may be sensing a theme here) which makes it hard to search for section, excessive notifications, unreadable topic names, poor wikitext and history support, and disengagement from the community. That last one will hopefully be resolved with this consultation taking place.
- French Wiktionary discussed centralization, the complexity of wikitext, and making discussions on multilingual projects like Commons more open to other languages. They also dislike Flow.
- German Wikipedia apparently had a rather large discussion, but it has not yet been summarized. This is a pity since they are one of the largest Wikimedia projects. The Arabic and Hindi Wikipedias have also not posted their conclusions.
- Hungarian Wikipedia, which was going to switch to Flow before this was blocked by this consultation, supported creating something more social media-like to appeal to younger users. They also supported creating an autosign feature, and making indentation less confusing.
- Iberocoop are more frequent users of offsite services. Like many projects, they would like to see an autosign feature added and see indentation become less confusing. Additional requests to provide incremental talk page improvements include automatic archiving and tools to deal with bad-faith comments. Others supported Flow or something more forumlike.
- Japanese Wikipedia wants, you guessed it, autosign, as well as making talk pages more newcomer-friendly. Many participants were mobile users and they found it hard to use talk pages with their mobile devices.
- Polish Wikipedia wants a reply button, better tools to quote other users, section watching. They also expressed concerns about accessibility to newcomers as well as being able to opt out of any new changes.
- The closer at Russian Wikipedia took the WMF to task for taking inspiration from social media sites when that's not what talk pages are used for. Major issues listed with Flow include infinite scrolling and the amount of whitespace. Some users did not oppose a "tree view", but wanted a way to switch between that and a more traditional wikitext mode. Miscellaneous requests: edit conflicts being automatically resolved and, once again, autosign.
- Thai Wikipedia wanted autosign, auto-reply, and more civility (a behavioral issue).
- Some Wikidata users requested section watchlisting. Flow is a divisive issue on Wikidata; issues with Flow (coming from both Flow supporters and opponents) include its bugginess, no diff support, notification volume, and... if you've read through the rest of this, you know what I'm going to say here. Hint: it starts with "infinite" and ends with "scrolling".
Paid editing ban under discussion
Following the HuffPost article about disclosed paid editing on Wikipedia, a full ban on paid editing (excluding Wikipedian in Residence and Reward board) has been proposed at the administrators' noticeboard. Aquillion, who posted a message in support of a paid editing ban, argued that it's impossible for paid editors to contribute without violating Wikipedia guidelines like Neutral Point of View and Tendentious Editing (which, like WP:SNOW, is not a guideline but it might as well be since people treat it as such these days). A common argument in this discussion against a ban is that the paid editing would continue, but it would be harder to regulate because it would be forced into the shadows.
- There has been some drama about administrators deleting pages under community sanctions. Wikipedians are debating whether to add text to WP:General sanctions prohibiting deletions of pages under general sanctions (such as blockchain-related pages) outside of normal deletion procedures like WP:CSD or WP:AFD.
- In addition to the ongoing portal deletion discussions, users are discussing whether there should be stricter rules regarding portal creation. Several proposals have been made regarding whether portals should have WikiProject sponsorship or should go through a new Portals for Creation process.
- The controversy regarding a close of a recent RfA has led to discussion about whether RfA should be a straight vote or not. Consensus seems to be in favor of the status quo (not a vote, or maybe a bit of both).