Topic on Talk:Talk pages project/Replying

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

What do you find valuable about being able to preview the content of a reply you are drafting before posting it to a talk page?


Context for this question: The team is thinking through how the initial workflow for "previewing" the reply you are composing might work as part of this new dedicated workflow for replying to specific comments. For reference, the way User:Thnidu articulates why they value previews has been instructive: "...a large part of their value for me is spotting errors of execution as well as errors of intention." [1]

Alsee (talkcontribs)

Most significantly it shows whether wikitext renders as desired.

It strips away all of the markup characters, making it easier to review the displayed-text.

A final subtle point, the preview mode displays the content with the exact font and spacing and styling and surrounding environment as the read mode. The visual change somehow shifts the brain (or at least my brain) into read-mode. It may just be a psychological effect, but psychological effects can be real effects. In edit mode I'm fiddling with the details - the preview forces my brain to read it in a stream as if someone else wrote it. My brain knows it can't directly alter the preview text area. The various visual cues contribute to the effect. It makes it easier to catch spelling errors, unclear grammar, and the general quality of my communication, even if there was no markup and the preview made no substantive change in the stream of characters displayed. When I post without previewing, sometimes I find that my message was technically fine but the communication quality could and should have been better.

Jc86035 (talkcontribs)

I would agree with all of Alsee's points here, although I typically only use the preview function on longer comments.

TheDJ (talkcontribs)

you won't believe the amount of time I created an invalid link and caught it while previewing. Or an accidental line break, or pinged the wrong user or .. endless. The preview is better human readable and it is easier to review the effect of any wikitext/html syntax you have written.

Aron Manning (talkcontribs)

Alsee summarized it very well.

I'd add that I love the preview on the prototype.

  • It's much more convenient, than switching between visual and wikitext in Flow.
    • No need to search for the button that switches between visual and wikitext...
  • It's fast enough (similar to discourse preview).
  • Does not take up more place than necessary (in discourse it kinda does).
PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

These responses are helpful – thanks y'all. I want to make sure I'm understanding what has been mentioned so far and then follow up with a few other questions.

Points raised so far

1) Previews help "me" to know whether the wikitext I wrote is rendering properly. Said another way: my text is formatted in the way "I've" intended it to (e.g. as @TheDJ mentioned: links, line breaks, etc.).

2) Previews help "me" to know how the content I've composed will be displayed to people who might be reading the page in "read mode."

Follow up question

For "2)", can you identify any patterns among the times when you find this kind of preview necessary? Does it depend on the size of the edit (per Jc86035's point above)? The type of edit? The namespace in which you are editing?

...I ask the above curious about whether a "full page" previewing should be considered a requirement for the replying workflow and if so, when.

Aron Manning (talkcontribs)

can you identify any patterns among the times when you find this kind of preview necessary?

The following patterns are the most common (and repetitive... sigh) mistakes I make editing wikitext:

  1. After editing markdown I forget that a linebreak is not a linebreak in the end result.
  2. Syntax errors: one apostrophe less, one curly brace less, etc.
  3. When making multi-level lists (ordered or unordered or mixed), it's hard to get the numbering and indentation right without a preview.
  4. Templates: did I use the right parameter name? If it renders, then it's ok.

I'd say the complexity of the wikitext (different markups, templates used) is the primary concern. Longer edits give more opportunity to be complex, but length in itself is not usually an issue. I'm not sure about the namespace... maybe having a preview, thus avoiding some mistakes is more important in high-visibility discussions.

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