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Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Pelagic

2
Summary by PPelberg (WMF)

T295946: First-Run Experience: Make "Preferences" affordance more obviously clickable

T295948: First-Run Experience: Pop-up appears behind page chrome when starting creating new talk page

T295950: Simplify automatic re-subscribe logic

T295087: Enable people to opt-out of being automatically subscribed from within DiscussionTools

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

What did you find unexpected about how the prototype looks and functions?

  • Wasn't expecting the popup. Though you said there would be one, I hadn't read to the end of the instructions! Presumably in a non-demo environment I would have already visited Preferences to turn the setting on, but having the button to return to preferences is still a good thing. In another sense the pop-up was not unexpected: it's consistent with what happens when I use other features for the first time. On subsequent replies, would I get the normal “you have subscribed” box the same as when I tap the subscribe link?
  • In Timeless skin, the text column in the popup is narrower, and the Okay I got it / Preferences buttons stack vertically instead of horizontally. (Not a problem for me, and the size of the box feels proportionate to the size of the page.)
  • Creating a new discussion page in Vector, the pop-up is over the header area: the user links and edit / history tabs render on top of the pop-up, not behind it.
  • (Not part of auto-subscribe, but noticed that) somehow the main page got added to my watchlist; seems the checkbox in reply tool is on-by-default and in my haste I hadn't expanded Advanced to turn that off.
  • There appears to be some logic in place that you won't be auto-resubscribed to a topic that you already unsubscribed from. (!)

What do you appreciate about the prototype?

  • As someone already familiar with Reply Tool and topic subscription, I appreciate that autosubscription smoothly fits those together – no mess, no fuss. Tested on desktop web, tablet, no keyboard, Vector (v1 “classic”) and Timeless skins.

What do you wish was different about the prototype?

  • That it be available on mobile web also. 😉 I know, all in due time.
  • Minor tweaks to z-order, per unexpected above.
  • It would be nice to have an option in reply tool to (not)-subscribe as a one-off exception to the general auto-subscribe setting. (Probably more relevant when the setting is off.) How to convey that it's once-only action and not sticky? (I'm imagining a checkbox whose initial state and help tip depend on the underlying preference “[x] Subscribe to this section [?] Unchecking this box will not change your preference to automatically subscribe to topics when replying.”.)
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

hi @Pelagic! We appreciate you trying the prototype and sharing the experience you had with it here. Comments and questions in response below...

1) Presumably in a non-demo environment I would have already visited Preferences to turn the setting on, but having the button to return to preferences is still a good thing.

This is helpful confirmation to have. Related to the link to "Preferences" that appears within the pop-up, we're planning to iterate on the link's design to make it more obviously clickable. You didn't mention this explicitly, tho I thought you might value being aware of this work. More details in T295946.

2) On subsequent replies, would I get the normal “you have subscribed” box the same as when I tap the subscribe link?

Interesting question.

Question: Before responding, can you share whether you would expect to see the same "you have subscribed" box as when you manually tap a [ subscribe ] link?

3) In Timeless skin, the text column in the popup is narrower, and the Okay I got it / Preferences buttons stack vertically instead of horizontally. (Not a problem for me, and the size of the box feels proportionate to the size of the page.)

Noted. For now, I'm going to categorize this in my mind as, "Not being an issue. Although, it's helpful to be aware of how the pop-up appears in Timeless."

If you think we should be thinking about this differently, please let us know as much!

4)Creating a new discussion page in Vector, the pop-up is over the header area: the user links and edit / history tabs render on top of the pop-up, not behind it.

Great spot!

Question: Can you please read the steps I've documented in T295948 and let me know if I've missed any part of what you were describing above?

5) ...somehow the main page got added to my watchlist

Question: To be doubly certain, would it be accurate for me to understand the above as you saying, "It was unexpected to me that in responding to a discussion on the Main page's talk page that I would be automatically be adding the Main page to my watchlist."

6) There appears to be some logic in place that you won't be auto-resubscribed to a topic that you already unsubscribed from

Interesting! We intentionally made it so when someone is automatically subscribed to a conversation, and they subsequently unsubscribe from that conversation, that person should remain unsubscribed to that conversation until they manually resubscribe to it.

Although, you sharing the feedback about is leading me to wonder whether we've assumed incorrectly here and if people would have an easier time "grasping" the feature were the logic that determines whether you are automatically subscribed to a discussion were to remain consistent in all scenarios.

In any event, I've filed T295950 for us to consider adjusting this logic.

7) ...I appreciate that autosubscription smoothly fits those together – no mess, no fuss.

The team will be glad to hear this ^ _ ^

8)That it be available on mobile web also. 😉 I know, all in due time.

Us too! You can track our progress on introducing topic subscriptions – manual and automatic – on mobile in T280821.

9)Minor tweaks to z-order, per unexpected above.

Question: can you say more here? Are you referring to the issue that's now described in T295948?

10) It would be nice to have an option in reply tool to (not)-subscribe as a one-off exception to the general auto-subscribe setting.

Question: Can you share a scenario where you'd want to comment in a discussion, or start a new one, and NOT wanting to be automatically subscribed to it? In the meantime, I've added you to T295087 where we are considering implementing something similar to what you're describing here.

Reply to "Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Pelagic"

Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: GKFX

3
GKFX (talkcontribs)
  1. What did you find unexpected about how the prototype looks and functions?
    • Testing as directed looked good to me in terms of UI. However, I (with the account GKFX) didn't receive any notifications for these edits (by me as GKFX2) despite being GKFX being subscribed, which seems wrong. I've checked my notification preferences which were all enabled, although I had not set an email address.
  2. What do you appreciate about the prototype?
    • Straightforward UI.
  3. What do you wish was different about the prototype?
    • I am interested in how "Once deployed, being automatically subscribed to discussions will be an opt-in feature for everyone except new accounts" will work - I hope that discovering how to opt in will be easy enough, particularly for people who are already using the discussion tools available. I would be interested in instead having a checkbox "Subscribe to this discussion" under the reply box, checked by default. This would be much like the "Watch this page" checkbox when editing articles, but with the presumption that people usually do want to see replies to their topics.
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Thank you for giving the prototype a try and taking the time to articulate what you encountered. Responses below...

I (with the account GKFX) didn't receive any notifications for these edits (by me as GKFX2) despite being GKFX being subscribed, which seems wrong.

Question: do the steps I've listed below accurately and exhaustively describe what you experienced?

  1. Visited Patch Demo and created a new account (username: GKFX)
  2. Started a new discussion titled New section title
  3. Noticed the You have been subscribed popup appear
  4. Clicked the Okay, I got it button
  5. Logged out of Patch Demo
  6. Visited Patch Demo again and created a new account (username: GKFX2)
  7. Posted two comments to the New section title discussion you started in step "2."
  8. Logged out of Patch Demo
  9. Logged back into the GKFX account
  10. ❗️Did NOT receive notifications for the comments you posted with GKFX2in step "7."

I hope that discovering how to opt in will be easy enough, particularly for people who are already using the discussion tools available.

We too are curious about whether experienced volunteers will find it easy enough to discover Automatic Topic Subscriptions. We'll be evaluating how "discoverable" Automatic Topic Subscriptions are by looking at the percentage of topic subscriptions that are initiated manually vs. automatically in T280896.

I would be interested in instead having a checkbox "Subscribe to this discussion" under the reply box, checked by default.

Question: Ah, this is an interesting idea. Can you say more here? What do you think would be valuable to you about having the ability to adjust whether you are notified about new comments in a discussion each time you post a new comment or start a new discussion?

GKFX (talkcontribs)
Missing notifications

I used Firefox's Container Tab feature to do the test, which lets you log into different accounts in different tabs by isolating the cookies (etc.) between each container. So I was logged into GKFX on one tab and GKFX2 on the other, and didn't log out at any point. I think I had:

  1. Created the section and let myself be auto-subscribed as GKFX, seeing the dialog box and clicking OK.
  2. Unsubscribed and resubscribed at least once to test that interface.
  3. Navigated to "Main Page", i.e. away from the talk page.
  4. Created GKFX2 in a new container tab
  5. Replied to the post as GKFX2
  6. Refreshed the page "Main Page" on the first tab (as GKFX). At this point I expected to see the notification icon light up, but nothing happened.
  7. I repeated steps 5 and 6 and got the same result again.

I've logged back into those accounts again, and noticed now that "Peter" has also replied to that section, I'm still subscribed to it (there is an [unsubscribe] link in its header), and there is no notification about Peter's edit either.

Subscribe checkbox

What do you think would be valuable to you about having the ability to adjust... I would tend to subscribe to most of the quiet, normal discussions I comment on, as there are only a few people involved and it's good to be able to follow up on any later discussion. However, if there is an enormous controversial discussion, I would be more inclined to just read what has been said so far, express my opinion, but not want to receive any further notifications on the subject unless I'm pinged. (Of course, there is already an unsubscribe button so the choice to opt out of some discussions is there anyway.) The other reason for this suggestion was to make the feature more discoverable by giving it the same familiar, fairly prominent UI that page watching currently has.

Reply to "Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: GKFX"
Peter Gröbner (talkcontribs)

The subscription seems to get lost if the (discussion) page ist moved.

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

That should not happen; the tracking of subscriptions is based on the author and date/time of the first comment, and not on the page or section title. Can you link to an example?

Peter Gröbner (talkcontribs)
Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

Thanks.

But I don't understand why this ist not listed in .

Apparently, the move log only shows the entry when you search for the old title – in this case, it's shown under Diskussion:Weißrussland: . I found this old bug report about that behavior: T66184.

The subscription was moved from Diskussion:Weißrussland to w:de:Diskussion:Belarus#Änderung_der_Aussprache_von_stimmlosem_zu_stimmhaftem_„s“

I'm sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but – there haven't been any comments in that section since October, so you wouldn't get any notifications anyway – so are you sure that your subscription was lost?

If you look at the section there, is there an "[abbestellen]" button (unsubscribe), or an "[abonnieren]" button (subscribe)?

Maybe it's confusing if you looked at Spezial:TopicSubscriptions. That interface will always display the original page title and topic title, even if they're changed (because we don't have a good way to track and display this there), but regardless of that, you should receive notifications if you're subscribed to the topic. Maybe we should file a bug about this.

Peter Gröbner (talkcontribs)

You are right, I noticed it at the Spezial:TopicSubscriptions as a red link.Yet changing to the moved page the topic wasn't subscribed any more. At least it was noticed as to be made "[abonnieren]".

Matma Rex (talkcontribs)

Are you sure you didn't unsubscribe on the TopicSubscriptions page? I don't know how else this could happen.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)
Peter Gröbner (talkcontribs)

My English is rather poor. What does „good spot“ mean?

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Ah, I'm sorry about that, @Peter Gröbner. I was using "good spot" to mean "good observation" ^ _ ^

Reply to "moved pages"

Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Klein Muçi"

3
Klein Muçi (talkcontribs)
  1. What did you find unexpected about how the prototype looks and functions?
    1. The popup was unexpected. Generally, we don't get popups at all in our every day wikiwork. That is, if we're not new accounts.
  2. What do you appreciate about the prototype?
    1. Strange detail but I appreciate that it doesn't notify me when I comment to my auto-subscribed topic. I don't know why I always thought that would be a bug that would be present in the prototype.
  3. What do you wish was different about the prototype?
    1. So far, nothing. I wrote a new topic, I got myself autosubscribed at it. The possibility of unsubscribing was 1 click way. Simple as it should be. I haven't had a chance to see how notifications behave though as I haven't had comments yet. I'll report back here in case I have any new ideas or find any strange behaviors. -
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

We appreciate you reviewing the prototype, @Klein Muçi! Responses to the feedback you shared below...

The popup was unexpected. Generally, we don't get popups at all in our every day wikiwork. That is, if we're not new accounts.

Question: it's helpful to know the popup was unexpected and why you found it to be so. A resulting question for you: did you find the information contained within the popup helpful in anyway(s)?

Strange detail but I appreciate that it doesn't notify me when I comment to my auto-subscribed topic. I don't know why I always thought that would be a bug that would be present in the prototype.

Question: would it be accurate for us to understand the above as meaning the following? "I (Klein Muci) assumed that when I added a comment within a discussion I am subscribed to, I would receive a notification for the comment I posted which seems redundant/unnecessary."

I wrote a new topic, I got myself autosubscribed at it. The possibility of unsubscribing was 1 click way. Simple as it should be.

This is wonderful to hear.

I haven't had a chance to see how notifications behave though as I haven't had comments yet. I'll report back here in case I have any new ideas or find any strange behaviors.

Thank you! We would value knowing if/when you encounter anything that you find to be unexpected.

Klein Muçi (talkcontribs)

@PPelberg (WMF), helpful of course. The only "problem" would be something that is outside of this topic: The preferences tab. Very few new users know about the preferences existence in general and I feel like they tend to avoid spending too much time sorting things out in it even if they're sent there with links. The amount of information/options there can be overwhelming. I've mentioned in another discussion that for the sake of new users, tabs like preferences, the "log out" link, maybe the watchlist, etc. should be changed from link-like to button-like, which Mediawiki rarely uses, not to say never. Buttons are more friendly towards new users and inspire exploration. But, as mentioned, this is another topic.

And yes, that interpretation is correct. Thanks for your attention! :) -

Reply to "Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Klein Muçi""

Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Ainali

2
Ainali (talkcontribs)
  1. That it showed every time. I imagined that after I clicked "Okay, I got it" it wouldn't show more. It was also unexpected that if I subscribed to a section, then unsubscribed, and then commented, I was not automatically subscribed to it again.
  2. Beautiful popup!
  3. If I wasn't surprised by the things mentioned in 1.

But I was actually wanting a way to be notified to new sections on a specific page, not automatically subscribed to something I commented in. I suspect that I will turn this feature off, as I imagine this will result in a lot of notifications I have moved on from (but I might be wrong here, the volumes in real use will be key).

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

But I was actually wanting a way to be notified to new sections on a specific page, not automatically subscribed to something I commented in.

Ah, you're right. I did not accurately remember the interaction we had that led to us creating T263821: Introduce New Topic Notifications. With this in mind, we appreciate you trying out the prototype for a feature you weren't exactly looking forward to ^ _ ^

Okay, now responses to specific pieces of feedback you shared...

I imagined that after I clicked "Okay, I got it" it wouldn't show more.

Comment: We agree with you in thinking the pop-up appearing each time you post a new comment or start a new discussion is not an ideal experience. In the version of Automatic Topic Subscriptions that gets made available in production, the pop-up will only appear once.

It was also unexpected that if I subscribed to a section, then unsubscribed, and then commented, I was not automatically subscribed to it again.

Question: would it be accurate for me to understand what you are saying above as the following? "If I (Ainali) have automatic topic subscriptions enabled, I expect to be subscribed to any discussion I comment in regardless of whether I've previously unsubscribed to said section manually."

Reply to "Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: Ainali"

Prototype: Automatic Topic Subscriptions

3
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Many people[i] have raised the idea of becoming automatically subscribed to discussions you participate in.

Now, there is a prototype ready for you all to try what how this "automatic topic subscription" experience could look and work.

Below is the information you will need to:

  1. Try the prototype and
  2. Share feedback about the prototype

If any questions come up as you are attempting to try the prototype, please post them here...it is likely someone is wondering something similar to what you are.


---

i. @Ainali, @Dyolf77 (WMF), @Ffffrr, @GKFX, @Klein Muçi, @Kyykaarme, @NGC 54, @Pelagic, @Tacsipacsi,

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

1. Trying the prototype

  1. On a desktop / laptop computer, visit: https://patchdemo.wmflabs.org/wikis/2f3d9efbec/wiki/Talk:Main_Page
  2. Create an account by clicking the Create account link. Note: this is a test wiki so you will not be able to log in using the same username you use on other projects.
  3. Return to https://patchdemo.wmflabs.org/wikis/2f3d9efbec/wiki/Talk:Main_Page
  4. Start a new discussion
  5. Comment in an existing discussion
  6. Disable being automatically subscribed to the discussions you start and/or comment in

Notes:

i. For ease of testing, the popup appears every time you get auto-subscribed. In the production version, the popup will only appear once.

ii. Once deployed, being automatically subscribed to discussions will be an opt-in feature for everyone except new accounts.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

2. Sharing Feedback

Once you have tried the prototype and you are ready to share what you think of it, please add a new topic to this talk page by doing the following:

  1. "Start a new topic" on this talk page
  2. Name this new topic: "Automatic Topic Subscription Feedback: YOUR USERNAME"
  3. Write your answers to these questoins:
    1. What did you find unexpected about how the prototype looks and functions?
    2. What do you appreciate about the prototype?
    3. What do you wish was different about the prototype?
Reply to "Prototype: Automatic Topic Subscriptions"

Should topic subscriptions auto-expire?

27
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I have a question for editors: If you subscribe to a conversation on a talk page, how long should you stay subscribed? Should we try to incorporate a Watchlist Expiry approach into subscriptions?

Thinking about my typical volunteer conversations, I usually want to follow a discussion for a couple of weeks. For work, I usually want to watch a discussion for a couple of months. It's really unusual for a conversation to be restarted after three months, although perhaps there's something I'd like to watch for a year or forever.

Would you be interested in having the subscriptions auto-expire?

Valereee (talkcontribs)

I want to sub as long as the discussion is open.

Wedhro (talkcontribs)

Late to the party but yes, it would be useful. A default expire time of 1-2 months could be sufficient, as long as it would be possible for the user to make it longer, shorter or infinite.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I don't think anything will be decided about this for a month or two, so there's plenty of time for people to share their thoughts. Also, whatever the initial decision is, it could be changed later.

JohnFromPinckney (talkcontribs)

I really like and use the Watchlist Expiry feature and so would appreciate the possibilty here, too. However, I think the default should be permanent; I should be able to choose other durations depending on the particular talk page/discussion.

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

My first reaction is that I would want a choice, but if a discussion section has gone stale then it won't generate any new notifications, so what does it matter? Perhaps you don't want an alert if someone posts to an old thread that you no longer care about. Maybe it's a good thing: thread subscribers can contact the poster and tell them that their comment won't be seen by many people and to start a new discussion. OTOH, if the post is just a for-the-record kind of note, then follow-up isn't necessary and generates noise. E.g.

  • Note: discussion seems to have petered out here, but see [[other page#new related discussion]]. user1, date.
    • Dude, no-one's going to read this. user2.
      • Will you two cut it out? Stop popping this up in my notifications! user3.
        • See, you did read it. user1.
          • Aaargh. user3
            • Unsubscribe if it bothers you, [[User:user3]]. user2
              • I did, but now you pinged me. user3
    • Actually, I didn't know about "new related discussion". Thanks for the update. user4.

Where it will make a difference is when/if (please?) we get a place to manage and view subscriptions. Will it be possible to show last-active date there? Filter or sort on staleness? Explicit expiration could de-clutter old stuff from the list, but so could a filter to show only the subscriptions to active topics.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@PPelberg (WMF), I couldn't find a Phab task for a central location/method for managing subscriptions. If subscriptions are permanent, I'm going to have thousands of them, so "just find the one discussion and click the [unsubscribe] button manually" isn't going to be sufficient. Pelagic's idea of being able to sort/filter according to the last active date is a good one.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I couldn't find a Phab task for a central location/method for managing subscriptions.

I think T273342 is the ticket, or at least the "beginnings" of the ticket, you are looking for, @Whatamidoing (WMF).


Where it will make a difference is when/if (please?) we get a place to manage and view subscriptions...

@Pelagic (and anyone else here): can you please share more about what you think having a, "...central location/method for managing subscriptions" would enable you to do? I can assume of course, tho, I'd rather y'all bring language to the thinking behind this idea...

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

Sorry for not returning to this earlier, @PPelberg (WMF).

Something I could do with a My Subscribed Topics list is use it as an aide memoire. If I made the effort of subscribing to a conversation (though it's only a small effort to scroll back to the top and tap the link), then I must have found it significant. I could view all those significant conversations in one place and see patterns or themes that I would like to pursue further. Or I might be interacting in a new conversation, and recall “I remember talking about this not long a go in a couple of other places, and I think I subscribed to those, let me check my subscriptions list and see if I can find them”.

I could instead make a manual list of things to refer back to, but that requires a fair bit of maintenance effort. I could also filter my contrib's for Talk or Project namespaces: that shows everything I've commented on rather than subscribed to, mightn't work well with archived or renamed sections, and unless I tweaked the edit summaries, only lists the subheading not the top-level heading (what was that comment to /* Arbitrary break */ about?). If I did write a detailed custom summary, then looking at Contributions becomes a complementary search strategy to looking in Subscriptions.

That's not a formal user story or use-case statement, but does that help?

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That's not a formal user story or use-case statement, but does that help?

Knowing the various ways in which you could imagine yourself using this page absolutely helps...thank you for sharing them, @Pelagic!

...view all those significant conversations in one place and see patterns or themes that I would like to pursue further. Or I might be interacting in a new conversation, and recall “I remember talking about this not long a go in a couple of other places, and I think I subscribed to those, let me check my subscriptions list and see if I can find them”.

The use case(s) you are describing here are very clear to me, I think.

If/when you have a moment, could you please give T294162 a read and boldly make any edits you think are necessary to make the user story I've drafted accurately and exhaustively represent what you were meaning to communicate in sharing the above?

aide memoire

Neat...this is the first time I'm encountering this term!

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Yes, that's helpful.

Thinking about the "My Subscribed Topics list", what kind of information would you want on it? The name of the page, of course, but what else should be on the page? Section heading (it might change), date (when you subscribed, commented, original comment, most recent comment, something else?), other participants? What actions might you want to take from that page (e.g., unsubscribing)?

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

Yes, current page and section name where the thread is located. That's what appears in the Echo notification, no? I doubt it's necessary to store original page and heading. Usually when a thread is renamed or relocated, it should either be something obvious like an archive subpage, or someone should have added a note/template saying “discussion moved from otherplace”.

Some kind of start-date would be good, either date of OP or date subscribed. I'm inclined to prefer OP date: do I really care when it was that I started subscribing? And what if I unsubscribe then resubscribe? The original-post date is a property of the thread itself and is the same for everyone. Plus it's the right answer for “how old is this? when did it start?” (Sorry for being verbose, I'm thinking this through as I type.)

Date of most recent comment, to indicate freshness.

An indication of overall activity on the thread: number of posts, number of unique participants. Maybe also an indication of size: number of bytes or words.

Some web forums in their topic lists also display the usernames of the original and latest poster. I feel this gives too much prominence to those two people over the other participants. Is it practical or even useful to list all people? OP name could be relevant in some contexts like Teahouse or ANI.

Nice to have: Ability to sort on either date, and filter on these plus namespace, number of comments, number of participants. If subscriptions are never truly removed from the database but just flagged for don't-notify, an option to show unsubscribed discussions (as distinct from never-subscribed) could be interesting. Search box, or just use browser's find-on-page?

Thinking outside the box, imagine having a personal comment/description/notes field for each subscription. Often the topic heading doesn't well reflect the content of the discussion. Or I might want to record my own reasons for wanting to follow it. Managing these descriptions is more heavy-weight than the simple un/subscribed state, would people use such a feature?

Actions to perform: unsubscribe, resubscribe, delete, add/change description. (Mute notifications for x days? Probably not worth the implementation effort, if resubscribe is already an option.)

Flag for follow-up / pin item / mark as important? Maybe, but again it would be shaping a lightweight subscribe action into a lot more.

As usual, I've gone too long on this, but hope there are some parts you can pick out to support a use case or user story. Shorter answer:

  • Info to show = page, section, start date (first post), last active date (most recent post), num. comments, num. participants, length (words or bytes).
  • Actions/features: unsubscribe/mute, resubscribe/unmute, delete/unsubscribe; edit personal note; sort, filter; select view style (list, table, icons).
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

As usual, I've gone too long on this, but hope there are some parts you can pick out to support a use case or user story.

@Pelagic the level of detail you've shared here is absolutely helpful. In fact, I find the "internal monologue" you included (e.g. Maybe, but again it would be shaping a lightweight subscribe action into a lot more.) to especially valuable for it helps us to see and think about the tradeoffs that could come with include or excluding certain information and/or actions.

This is all to say: thank you for taking the time to articulate the above...I've included the "info to show" ideas in Phabricator here: T294162#7486703.

Enterprisey (talkcontribs)

I agree with Valereee; topic subscriptions should be indefinite by default. I would find it very surprising if I were unsubscribed from a conversation that was still active.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

How many conversations stay active for a year? or even a month?

Valereee (talkcontribs)

A month, very frequently. For some types the default setting is a minimum of a month. I have convos that long on my watchlist right now. Infrequently a year, but it does happen. I can think of a couple of times I've posted to a talk about a planned edit, forgotten to circle back promptly, and discovered it still on the page with a response to me that I hadn't been pinged to, so I started the conversation back up.

Is there any downside to staying subscribed until a conversation is archived?

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Subscriptions follow the first comment in a section, so archiving (in the sense of the section being removed from one page and pasted into another) don't terminate the subscription. This suggests that the database will grow infinitely, which entails some risks/costs (not primarily of the financial sort). How rapidly that could grow depends in part on whether everyone loves being auto-subscribed to all the threads they participate in.

I was already getting about a hundred Echo notifications a month in each of my accounts (work-me and volunteer-me) before the notifications feature was deployed. Right now, it's in manual subscriptions (meaning: you have to click the [subscribe] button for each thread), and I'm already using it frequently. Imagine what that will look like if I am auto-subscribed to every thread I start or reply in, and multiply that times thousands of highly active editors.

I sometimes say that the flip side of Wikipedia:Don't worry about performance is that if, as rarely happens, Ops tells you that you are causing performance problems, you need to do whatever they say. I am looking at the number of discussions that I can realistically expect to be subscribed to by this time next year, and wondering what I'd like to recommend if (when?) Ops comes around to say that's enough. Keep the 2,000 most recent ones, like Echo/Notifications does? The five years' worth? Auto-expire everything after a year, but set a manual override for the discussions I want to watch forever? I don't know, but I want to think it through.

Enterprisey (talkcontribs)

The fact that archiving doesn't terminate the subscription would be surprising to me. But then if it did, and someone unarchived a discussion, all the subscriptions would be lost. I would say we can definitely trade off support for unarchiving discussions, though, so I would prefer archiving to terminate subscriptions.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

There's no straightforward programmatic way to differentiate between "copied to Village_pump/Archive_13 because the disucssion is archived now" and "copied to "Village_pump/Other because you posted it in the wrong place and I'm fixing your mistake". I have already seen the second in action, and I really like it.

Enterprisey (talkcontribs)

I would imagine checking for the word "Archive" in the page title or the presence of {{archive}} (or the other templates like that) would be pretty reliable.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

That would work for most of the archiving systems used at the English Wikipedia.

Also, if I wanted to get your attention off a discussion, I could "accidentally" click the button for any of the w:en:WP:ONECLICK archiving scripts and immediately self-revert. It would mean that anyone could remove a discussion from your subscription list.

JohnFromPinckney (talkcontribs)

Whatamidoing, I don't know about you or others, but I would topic-subscribe only on really long pages (like the Administrators' Noticeboard or some of the Something-for-Deletion pages at en-WP). That would leave me subscribed to pages to the extent I wish it, but not so many topics. Does that help? Or does it ignore what might be a (to me, unknown) problem: I currently have some 4000 pages on my watchlist. Are large watchlists a problem for us in general?

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Very large watchlists can be awkward from the POV of database administration. These might be more prevalent at Commons, since if you watch every file you upload, and you upload hundreds of thousands, then your watchlist will have hundreds of thousands of items.

This tool isn't using the watchlist database, however; I believe that it's using the Echo database for message delivery and its own database for the subscriptions. Echo notifications expire after a while, basically to make the database simpler. The subscription database is (currently) forever.

I'm finding that work-me wants to subscribe to every discussion I participate in, and volunteer-me wants to subscribe to everything except for WT:MED and the pub at the English Wikivoyage (I start every morning by going straight to the history tab for these two pages, to see what's been posted since the last time I checked in). That could turn into a lot of individual notifications (which will auto-expire according to Echo's current system), but over the course of years, it could turn into a lot of subscriptions. Imagine that I subscribe to an average of 50 conversations a week (a plausible level for me). At the end of one year, that's 2,500 database entries. At the end of 10 years (and I've been editing for 15 years already), that's 25,000 database entries – forever, even if I quit editing. I don't know what kind of limits might someday be necessary (maybe it would only be a problem if there were a million entries for an editor, or if the database growth were sudden), but I wonder if this might eventually become a problem.

JohnFromPinckney (talkcontribs)

Well, okay, if it's a problem, set whatever default you need to. I'd personally like at least six months, though.

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

I don't know about MariaDB, but in MS SQL Server, database tables can become very large and still have fast lookups if they are well indexed and you're retrieving a small subset of the rows/records. Maintenance tasks like rebuilding indices or making full backups become more expensive for huge tables, though. The Revisions table grows forever, and would always be expected to be larger than the Subscriptions table, wouldn't it?

Also a question: does unsubscribing from a topic actually delete the row from the database, or does it just toggle a field from active=true to active=false? In the latter case the database is going to grow even if you unsubscribe or expire entries. For research purposes, would you want to keep records of subscriptions that were later unsubscribed?

JohnFromPinckney (talkcontribs)

Is there no way to thread our replies? I click on the "Reply" next to the "Thank" right under the post to which I wish to respond, and my response still comes out left-justified. It looks like Whatamidoing managed to reply to Pelagic above, but I can't see how to make that magic work. Maybe I'm not waving my wand correctly.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

They stopped developing this interface (Flow) before they sorted out indentation models. The current state is that comments at the end are full width, and comments added to the middle (i.e., not a reply to the bottom-most comment) get indented (to show that they were added out of chronological order?).

Reply to "Should topic subscriptions auto-expire?"

Subscribing to lower-level headings, e.g. level 4

3
Summary by PPelberg (WMF)

phab:T267288: Support new topics at varying heading levels

GKFX (talkcontribs)

There don't seem to be any subscribe links at :en:Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2021 October 23, even though there are reply links. Will subscribe links be added on these sorts of pages? As you can see this page uses level 4 headings for each topic that should have a subscribe link, which might also be a problem.

Tacsipacsi (talkcontribs)

I see subscribe links on en:Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous), so the non-level 2 headings should be the cause. Since it’s currently not defined on the page that “topics” correspond to level 4 headings instead of level 2 ones (since there’s no way to define it), the software isn’t aware of this. Maybe there should be a way to define if topics on a page are not level 2 headings, for example a new magic word.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@GKFX, thank you for making aware of this case.

As @Tacsipacsi accurately described, Topic Subscriptions do not currently support non-H2 section level headings.

Although, we do have a ticket to expand this support and I've added the example you shared here to the ticket in Phabricator where we are tracking this issue: phab:T267288.

Reply to "Subscribing to lower-level headings, e.g. level 4"

Level 2 heading followed by a level 3 heading

2
Summary by PPelberg (WMF)

T295200: Subscribe affordances do not appear when followed by a level 3 heading

Kyykaarme (talkcontribs)
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Great spot; thank you for reporting this, @Kyykaarme. This ticket now exists as an issue in Phabricator here: phab:T295200.

Reply to "Level 2 heading followed by a level 3 heading"

Feature request: automatic subscription to new sections on selected pages

12
Summary by PPelberg (WMF)
Ainali (talkcontribs)

First of all, I really like the notifications. And I want more of them! I find it especially powerful to not need to visit my watch list to see if there is something said in a discussion I follow. But I still have to do that to see if there is a new discussion started on some page I am particularly interested in. For these pages, I would like to auto subscribe to all new sections. Since it was so easy to unwatch a topic straight from the menu, I don't mind getting many notifications. I still find it likely to save me many clicks and loading time of pages.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

We appreciate you stopping by to share this feedback, @Ainali! A response to the points you raised below...

First of all, I really like the notifications. And I want more of them! I find it especially powerful to not need to visit my watch list to see if there is something said in a discussion I follow.

This is helpful context for us to know about. Related to it: can you share why you prefer learning about whether something new was said in a conversation by way of receiving a notification rather than by way of visiting your watchlist?

In the meantime I've added a note to the ticket where we are considering introducing the ability for people to be able to subscribe to be notified whenever a new section/discussion is added to a talk page.

Ainali (talkcontribs)

Yes, since the notification is shown in any Wikimedia tab, I would notice it much earlier than if I have to switch to the tab where I have my watchlist. It is also similar to other platforms where I have conversations. I get notified wherever I happen to be (and for the best ones, I can also select what to be notified about).

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Ah, this is helpful! To make sure I'm internalizing what you are describing, can you please read the below and let me know if I've interpreted what you've said in ways that are different from what you meant?

The way I am interpreting the comment you made above.

"I prefer learning when something new is said in a conversation via notifications because notifications are visible to me wherever I am on Wikipedia. The watchlist on the other hand requires that I a) remember to check it and b) leave where I am in order to know if someone has said something in a conversation I'm interested in."

Also, out of curiosity: it sounds like while you're editing Wikipedia you have the page you are editing open in one tab and your Watchlist open in another tab. Assuming this is accurate, are there any other Wikipedia pages you typically have open in tabs while you're editing?

Ainali (talkcontribs)

I have at least one tab open of Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, Swedish Wikipedia, English Wikipedia and Meta at all times. Usually several of each. Having them open and switching to them feels easier than switching to the tab. I have the watchlists as the default open page, and then any that have things I would like to read or come back to edit later.

This also reminds me that some other platforms (Mattermost, Slack, LinkedIn, Gmail) can give a visual clue in the favicon that there are notifications, so that if I would happen to be somewhere else knows that something has happened).

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

This additional context is helpful; I appreciate you sharing it, @Ainali and I'm sorry for how long it's taken me to respond here.

I've documented the idea you are raising of including some kind of "visual clue in the favicon" within Phabricator here: T1188#7486621.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Jan, do you think that, if they did this, you would see fewer article edits, or make fewer edits to articles?

Ainali (talkcontribs)

Good question. I don't know. I imagine that I would be more active in discussions. That naturally leads to less time to make edits to articles. But hopefully those edits will now have fewer errors and instead be made with a clearer consensus. How it actually will play out, I can't really tell.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Last year, Peter told me about some research at Wikia/Fandom. They made it easier to comment on talk pages. The result was more talk, but no improvements to articles.

Kyykaarme (talkcontribs)

I would like this feature, and for me it should be completely separate from the watchlist. The reason why I like the topic notifications is that I don't have to (and don't want to) watchlist talk pages (e.g. local Village pumps). I would like to be able to "subscribe to a talk page" and get notification of new topics and their titles, but I don't want to be automatically subscribed to all new topics on the page.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

One of the things they're looking at is automatically subscribing you to all discussion sections you start, no matter what editing tools you use. This means you could leave a warning message on a newcomer's talk page with a script (does fiwiki have a tool similar to w:en:Project:Twinkle?), and be automatically subscribed to that. (It wouldn't work with MassMessage, however.) Would that work for you?

Kyykaarme (talkcontribs)

We don't have Twinkle or any similar tool. Automatic subscription to self-started discussions could be a good idea, especially if it works the same way as watchlisting, so that you can choose if you want to subscribe to every discussion you started or do it manually each time.

Reply to "Feature request: automatic subscription to new sections on selected pages"
Return to "Talk pages project/Notifications" page.