Topic on Talk:Talk pages project/New discussion

Current ways of starting new discussion threads

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PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

To ensure the approach we take to improving how people start new discussion threads works well with how people are already using talk pages, we would value hearing how you think about the following questions:

  1. How do you typically go about starting a new conversation/section on a talk page? Do you notice yourself taking different steps depending on the namespace?
  2. Are there aspects about how you go start new conversation threads you find take a lot of effort?

Also, if you have noticed others having difficulty starting new discussion threads, please let us know what you have observed.

Usedtobecool (talkcontribs)

With apologies, I am not quite sure if I know for sure what "workflow" means here. Is that just jargon or does it have a specific meaning I ought to be aware of? Its use in Q1 seems benign enough but that it has squeezed into Q2 makes me wonder. I have no context for this question. I primarily edit enWP. So, for all I care, is it only asking me how I go about starting a new discussion on talk pages in that project? Regards!

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

@Usedtobecool + @Nick Moyes: both of you mentioning the term "workflow" led me to realize I have been using this word quite a bit...thank you for saying something about it!

To [hopefully] resolve any ambiguity, by "workflow" I mean, "...ways/methods of working" as @Nick Moyes describes here.

Please let me know if you think I can clarify this further. In the meantime, I've updated the languate in the original post to try to make it more clear.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I'm going to ping a few of enwiki's Teahouse regulars: @Sdkb, @Nick Moyes, and @Usedtobecool to check my impressions. Hello, all, and welcome to this new page. Peter has two questions above. I also have a question specifically for you: Does it seem like new editors have an easier time starting a conversation, compared to (for example) figuring out that someone replied, where the reply is, and how to reply to a comment in an existing section? I know I've seen a new editor or two start a new section for every comment, because they couldn't figure out any other way to post on their user talk page.


Usedtobecool (talkcontribs)

Thanks for the ping, and I apologise for the delayed response.

Starting conversations: My impression is that very few new editors get it right without having clicked the "new section" button at the top of a talk page. I'd say more than 95% of new editors who click the "edit" button at the top just write their comment in a new paragraph at the bottom of the page without headers or signatures. Most editors use the new section button, especially at the Teahouse, and manage headers if not signatures.

Replying: Editors who can't figure out that they need to reply to their own posts, but do so by creating a new section each time, are a dismal minority in my observation. A great majority do reply in their own sections, many don't have a sense of indenting or signing, that's all. I have not seen anyone have a problem with finding out that their post has been replied to or where it is. It's only the replying part. Yes, some users seem to always hit the "new section" button when they intend to reply. Then again, we got talk headers pointing to the "new section" button but without any additional information on how to continue old conversations. Almost all new users have a problem with ordering their replies, but that's true of experienced users as well.

Feel free to ping me if I missed something, or needs clarifying. Regards!

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Thank you for sharing this feedback, @Usedtobecool. I want to comment on a couple things you shared and then ask you a couple of follow up questions. I'm going to post these "follow up questions" in separate message below this one.

Comments on what you shared...

I'd say more than 95% of new editors who click the "edit" button at the top just write their comment in a new paragraph at the bottom of the page without headers or signatures

This is helpful to know, @Usedtobecool. Specifically, your observation that new editors do not sign the new discussion threads they start. This matches what what we've found in our initial research as well.

A great majority do reply in their own sections, many don't have a sense of indenting or signing, that's all.

This matches what we've found as well. Hopefully the new Replying tool will address these issues.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Follow up questions

@Usedtobecool two follow up questions for you about your experience starting new discussion threads:

  1. A quick scan of the edits you've made recently [1] lead me to think you use the "New section" tab regularly to start new discussion threads...can you share what you like about starting new discussion threads in this way?
  2. Are there aspects about how you go start new discussion threads you find take a lot of effort and could be made easier?


---

i. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?target=Usedtobecool&namespace=1&tagfilter=&hideMinor=1&start=&end=&limit=500&title=Special%3AContributions

Usedtobecool (talkcontribs)

If I'm already at the bottom of the page, I am likely to just edit the last section to add a new one. Otherwise, yes, I do use new section button. My considerations are the slowness/instability of my connection, amount of scrolling required and the likelihood of encountering edit conflicts.

I hate that using the "new section" button doesn't allow a customised edit summary. The canned summary has its perks, but it should allow appending custom text.

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

@PPelberg (WMF) how can you tell? In @Usedtobecool's contribs list I see a lot of Replylink and Rater edits, have to do find on page for text "new section" to locate use of edit section=new. But the opposite case of splitting an existing section would be difficult to distinguish from any other section-edit (unless the writer used specific wording in their edit summary).

I too have feelings about the highly inconsistent approach to edit summaries in the different editing environments and, umm, workflows, but will put those somewhere else.

Nick Moyes (talkcontribs)

starting: I tend to agree with User:Usedtobecool. At the Teahouse, where most new posts are started by very new editors, it is rare to see them starting posts in the wrong place (though we have a big blue button to help them do it right). I do get the very occasional post to my own talk page which appears at the top of the page, but this isn't especially troublesome.

As an experienced user, I still mostly use the 'Add topic' tab, and rarely bother with the == text == approach of inserting a new header.I don't think I take any different approach between starting new threads on article talk pages and user talk pages. I do quite a lot of editing on a tiny mobile (iPhone 5S), but never use mobile view, preferring to remain in 'desktop' view at all times. Lengthy or complicated discussions have to wait until I can get to a keyboard, however.


Regarding replying, I also agree with the above. A few new editors start a new section when they reply, instead of indenting, but this is also quite rare, and not especially disruptive at the Teahouse. Our resolving of any such issue can always be seen as a useful learning curve and helpful interaction for them.

take a lot of effort?: I will mention one very annoying (and still unfixed issue) which nobody has picked up in Phabricator since the previous developer left it unfinished. I relates more to all edits and replies, not just the starting of new threads: It's the failure of the notification system to detect and give an on-wiki notification to a user of any edits made to their own user sub-pages and the corresponding talk pages. As an example, I maintain a sub-page for each person I adopt (via en:WP:AAU). Both parties have to remember to include a ping command every time they start a thread or reply to the other person. If they fail to do so, their reply can go overlooked for ages. It is easy to forget and has caused awkward delays in communication. I find this lack of talk page notification really does impact on my workflow. An example of where this problem arises can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Nick_Moyes/Adoption/Clovermoss And the forgotten Phabrictor task is at https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T5234

Finally, this post began by referring to the "approach we take to improving the workflow" . I have not seen a link back to any such page, so this is a standalone reply, and has not been given in the context of having read any previous development report. Regards.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

This feedback is helpful – thank you for sharing it, @Nick Moyes.

Some comments and additional questions below...

Questions

At the Teahouse, where most new posts are started by very new editors, it is rare to see them starting posts in the wrong place (though we have a big blue button to help them do it right).

Have you seen other pages on Wikipedia that have implemented alternative ways for people to start new discussion topics? Besides the Teahouse example you shared, French Wikipedia's "Ajouter an sujet" at the bottom of each talk pages come to mind: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discussion_Projet:Outils_de_discussion.


As an experienced user, I still mostly use the 'Add topic' tab, and rarely bother with the == text == approach of inserting a new header.

Are you able to share what you like about the 'Add topic" tab? I ask this with the following thought in mind...

As part of this project, we are going to need to decide how the improvements to the process/steps for starting a new discussion interact with/affect the existing 'Add topic' experience. So, it's important we have a clear understanding for how and why people have come to depend on it.

Both parties have to remember to include a ping command every time they start a thread or reply to the other person. If they fail to do so, their reply can go overlooked for ages. It is easy to forget and has caused awkward delays in communication.

Delays in communication caused by the notification system not working or being as robust as you would expect it is frustrating and disruptive. And while I cannot say at this point whether we will solve the particular sub-page issue you've brought to my attention here, I can say with certainty we do have plans, as part of the Talk pages project, to introduce features intended to increase the likelihood people receive responses from others they are trying to communicate with. Specifically, we have plans to:

1. Introduce an easier and more intuitive way of pinging (@ mentioning) other people.

We are planning to release this feature as part of Version 2.0 of the new Replying tool we are building: Talk pages project/replying#Version 2.0. In fact, we are actively seeking input on the design. If you have ideas to share, we would value them here: Topic:Vju7lfcav875rt8r.

2. Introduce a way for people to receive notifications about specific conversations, and potentially, replies to comments they post.

I should mention, we have not yet done a thorough technical investigation of the second point, so it's hard to say exactly how these features might end up working.

This is all to say: it sounds like you think a great deal about interacting with newer editors. Specifically, what improvements could be made to increase response rates. If you have more thoughts to share on this topic we would deeply value hearing them whenever you have the chance to share them.

So you're aware, this is the ticket on Phabricator where we are beginning to think about the broader topic of "response rates": https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T233447.


Nick Moyes (talkcontribs)

In answer to these questions:

Other ways to start discussions: I don't recollect encountering other ways to start conversations on English Wikipedia. If I have, I've either taken them for granted, or forgotten about them. Oh, except that Twinkle does, of course, 'start' a new topic whenever I use it to welcome a new editor or warn them about something they've done. Away from Wikipedia (like here and Phabricator) I find myself having to adjust to different ways of responding, though I don't think I've ever actually started a new topic at either place.

'Add topic' Tab: What do I like about it? Well, it's clear and obvious, though not too visible. It's quite well positioned - i.e. in the right order, going left to right, of 'read', 'edit' then 'add topic'. That has a logical flow to it, and it's quite ok to be spaced a little apart from the Talk page tab itself is. (I wasn't aware until a few moments ago (when I did an intentional mouseover on the add topic Tab) that I could start a new thread using Shift-Alt-A. I don't think I've ever used that, despite using Shift-Alt-P and Shift-Alt-S all the time when editing.

I suppose I 'depend' on it because it is a) very easy to deploy, and b) it avoids the need to think about where to insert a new discussion. i.e. I don't have to edit source and then scroll down to the bottom of a page and insert a new topic header. (Although I do a lot of editing on a tiny iPhone screen, I almost never use it in mobile view, preferring 'desktop view'. I doubt I would actually start a discussion on a mobile unless I knew it was going to be a very short message.)

I'm pleased there's work being done to make replying easier. I might shie away right now from having to read through everything in those links before being able to comment there. So I'll just throw out an observation or two here, which you can pick up or ignore, as appropriate. Firstly, one of the banes of my life (especially at the Teahouse) is ensuring I correctly copy and paste the username of the (normally novice) editor so that they get notification of a response to their question. If I could simply right click on their username and copy it to my clipboard, then paste it in to my source editor reply, that would be lovely. Trying to do it on a tiny mobile is especially challenging. Fixing a failed ping can also be a pain, so a Preference option to prompt me to sign every talk page edit I try to publish might be helpful (just as we have an option to prompt us to add an edit summary). I think a year or so back I put my name in support of developments to enable watchlisting a specific topic, rather than an entire talk page. It'll be great if this does get addressed.

Finally, thanks for the Phabricator link. I've added an additional comment there, lest its of some use. I don't pretend to understand a tenth of what happens on Phabricator - but what on earth is an 'epic'?

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

An "epic" is a project that will take a long time. Different groups will have different standards, but in the MediaWiki context, an epic project always takes more than a few months' work for a team, with most epics requiring one or more years' work.

One way to organize tasks is to create a central epic task (think "Build a house") and then to create sub-tasks from there until you get down from general sub-tasks ("Create kitchen") to individual, achievable tasks (like "Choose light fixtures for the kitchen"). It's not the only system, but that's the system that's most likely to result in something being called an "epic".

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

This is great, @Nick Moyes – thank you. Some comments/questions below...


Starting a new discussion via "Add topic"

...clear and obvious, though not too visible...well positioned...very easy to deploy...avoids the need to think about where to insert a new discussion i.e. I don't have to edit source and then scroll down to the bottom of a page and insert a new topic header.

Having language like this is helpful...these descriptors enable us to establish the standards the yet-to-be-designed experience will need to live up to.


Replying

...one of the banes of my life (especially at the Teahouse) is ensuring I correctly copy and paste the username of the (normally novice) editor so that they get notification of a response to their question. If I could simply right click on their username and copy it to my clipboard, then paste it in to my source editor reply, that would be lovely

Is the below an accurate description of what you are currently experiencing?

  1. In "read" mode, right click on UserA's user page link in their signature
  2. Click "edit"
  3. In the source editor, click "paste"
  4. Notice the following URL appears in the source editor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:UserA instead of the following appearing in the source editor [[User:UserA]]

I think a year or so back I put my name in support of developments to enable watchlisting a specific topic, rather than an entire talk page. It'll be great if this does get addressed.

Maybe you're talking about this comment: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=884774319&diff=prev

In either case, being able to get notifications about changes to specific sections is something we are going to explore in the next couple of months.


Trying to do it on a tiny mobile is especially challenging.

On mobile, do you have a sense for why you prefer to use talk pages using the "desktop" site?

If things immediately come to mind, we'd be keen to hear them. If not, no worries...you've already been incredibly helpful and I don't want responding here to feel burdensome.

Nick Moyes (talkcontribs)

Hi Peter. Glad my ramblings might prove of some use, at least! I'll answer your last point first, as it's simpler to address:

why do I prefer desktop view on a mobile? that's an interesting question to ask. Various 'gut reaction' replies for you:

First off - I'm used to it! And one does tend to stick with what one knows.

But, secondly, desktop lets me 'see' the whole of a talk page at once. It gives me an overview, allowing me to determine at a glance, not only the topics, but also the number and depth of replies a user has received. Whilst mobile view gives me a nice tidy page and big text to look at, it gives me absolutely no idea of whether any given topic has been answered by anyone. They have to be uncollapsed to see if anyone has responded. The collapsed topics are very widely spaced, meaning I sometimes have to swipe down quite a lot just to see all the topic headers. This applied not only at normal user talk places, but also at places like the Teahouse. At the latter, seeing if anyone else has replied is really important. Uncollapsing one topic at a time at the Teahouse would be a bit of a pain, and automatically having all threads uncollapsed would make the entire page too unwieldy to navigate through. Equally, when I go to a new user page to leave a comment or warning, it's helpful to asses at a glance if someone else has already raised the same issue without having to expand anything. (I’m not sure if showing a ‘reply count’ alongside each collapsed topic header -or some colour difference between topics with and without replies - would actually make things any different.)

A third reason I don't choose 'mobile view' for editing on my mobile is that, having opened up a topic I want to view, and then having scrolled down to the bottom of it, there is no quick and easy way to collapse the thread again. So I have to scroll/swipe all the way up again. collapse the thread, then repeat the process with the next thread and so on. I would suggest that a ''collapse thread' button at the bottom of every mobile view topic would help a fair bit there. If you go to my user talk page at en-wiki - and also to the Teahouse - you'll see I have the 'skip to top and bottom' template with its floating up/down icons enabled. Now, I really like this a lot (both when using a keyboard/computer, and on a mobile phone or tablet. The clickable up/down arrows that this template produces is, admittedly, rather tiny in mobile-desktop view, but they still help intra-page navigation. I've just tested it again in mobile view and noticed those up/down icons only appear if I click 'read as wiki' (something I don't think I've ever noticed or clicked before - sorry). I have had advanced settings enabled for some time now, but cannot get on with 'automatically expand all threads' as this seems to make an active page even harder to move around in.

Of course, I recognise it's possible my lack of familiarity with using mobile view on a mobile phone might mean I've missed a some helpful options which might have made some of the above comments redundant. So do tell me if I have overlooked some trick or other.

Oh, another thing I'd like to see improved is greater visibility of the 'mobile view'-'desktop view' link at the bottom of the page. It really is too tiny - and far too important a link to have so small. I recognise that in 'mobile view' the link is reasonable size, but in desktop view it's too 'out of the way'. Ironically the floating 'skip to top and bottom' icons also happen to position themselves over the lower right of the page, so making the link hard to click. I realise, of course, this as an optional template I've added. I would urge something akin to it to be provided as an option in User Preferences and which can be deployed by an individual user and which works on all pages, and not simply by the manager of one particular page).


Now, you asked about 'replying' at the Teahouse, and you offered a possible 'workflow' I might have been using. It wasn't quite the one you describe. What I currently do in desktop view on a PC/laptop/tablet or iPhone when I want to reply to an editor and ensure a ping is:

1 Click 'edit source' after their newly-added topic

2 Use mouse (or fingertip on phone) to select username of the OP. (Impossible if they've forgotten to sign, of course, and if SignBot hasn't done so for them)

3 Indent my reply with a colon, and (using either ping, re or u, depending on circumstance) type two curly braces, letter 'U' followed by a pipe symbol, then paste in the copied username, and close with two more braces (i.e. {{u|PPelberg (WMF)}}) and then continue typing my reply. This is so much easier to do with a keyboard than on a tablet which, in turn, is easier than on a tiny phone screen. I rarely use the format [[User:PPelberg (WMF)}]]. If I were King of Wikipedia, I would provide everyone with a Preference option to warn them if they've tried to Publish Changes to a user talk page without including their signature. i.e. much in the same way as one can choose on en-wiki to be warned if one forgets to include an edit summary. (Which reminds me - that function doesn't appear to work in mobile view, which surprised me.)


Finally, yes, the link you provided was indeed the comment I was referring to. Great to hear these will be addressed soon. I have, over the years, collated a few other suggestions for things I'd like to see improved. You might find one or two other things of relevance at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nick_Moyes#Feedback_and_Suggestions.

Goodness - that became a long reply. Hopefully some of it will make some sense. Should you find it helpful, I'd be happy to address any other questions (a.k.a. ramble pointlessly at great length!) via Skype or Zoom. Just get in touch if you do. Cheers, Nick


PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

What I currently do in desktop view on a PC/laptop/tablet or iPhone when I want to reply to an editor and ensure a ping is...

Ah, okay! This is clear to me now...thank you for explaining this step-by-step as you've done. The process you described sounds tiring which leads me to wonder: would you be up for trying the new Reply tool we're working on that introduces, what is ideally, an easier way for pinging specific people?

If you're up for it, everything you should need to try it can be found here: Talk pages project/replying/prototype testing#Reply tool version 2.0 (you'll see the pinging part in "Task #6").

...the link you provided was indeed the comment I was referring to.

Okay, great. And thank you for posting on the Phabricator task where we will being working to make it easier to stay up to date about conversations "you" are interested in: T233447#6048939.

...a few other suggestions for things I'd like to see improved. You might find one or two other things of relevance at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nick_Moyes#Feedback_and_Suggestions.

These are great; what you are describing below could become relevant when we start exploring watching specific conversations on talk pages. That would also involve thinking about the content of watchlist emails those edits trigger: "The spiritingSuggestion: Email notification from Watchlists should include a) the number of bytes changed + or - , and b) the first 40 or so characters of the changes made."

I'd be happy to address any other questions (a.k.a. ramble pointlessly at great length!) via Skype or Zoom. Just get in touch if you do. Cheers, Nick

That would be great – what's the best way to coordinate? I can email you or if you emailing me is easiest, ppelberg _at_ wikimedia dot org is a good place to reach me. Thank you, Nick.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

The depth of the answers you've shared is just great – thank you, @Nick Moyes. Responses to the comments you shared about mobile talk pages below; I'm going to respond in a separate comment about the Teahouse replying process.

A quick clarifying question: which version of the mobile talk page site are you referring to? There is the default Talk experience and the "Read as wiki page" experience. You mentioning having noticed the "Read as wiki page" in the course of responding above leads me to think you were describing the default Talk experience, but I wanted to be sure.

And I'm sorry it's taken this long to get back to you!

Desktop lets me 'see' the whole of a talk page at once. It gives me an overview, allowing me to determine at a glance, not only the topics, but also the number and depth of replies a user has received.

Mmm! The tension you are identifying here is great: on mobile, collapsed sections means it's likely easier to come to an understanding of the kinds of things being discussed at the expense of being able to see what topics people are engaging with and the extent to which they are engaging them.

I've added this to the place on Phabricator where we will explore how we might make the actions, activity and content within talk pages easier to understand: phab:T249579

The collapsed topics are very widely spaced, meaning I sometimes have to swipe down quite a lot just to see all the topic headers.

Good point. I've added this as well as the en-wiki Teahouse and user talk page cases to the task I mentioned above: phab:T249579 .

...having opened up a topic I want to view, and then having scrolled down to the bottom of it, there is no quick and easy way to collapse the thread again.

Another good point and like the above, I've added this to this task: phab:T249579 .

...greater visibility of the 'mobile view'-'desktop view' link at the bottom of the page. It really is too tiny - and far too important a link to have so small.

If you feel compelled, the Web team would be good people to talk to about this [I think].

Nick Moyes (talkcontribs)

Glad to be of some help, Peter. To clarify: In mobile view, I have had the 'Advanced mode' enabled or some time now, so I think my comments definitely related to that. (It's a bit late here in the UK, so wading back to find the phrase I actually used which caused you to question this is rather beyond me right now. Sleep beckons!)

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Got it! Thank you, Nick.

This post was hidden by Usedtobecool (history)
Usedtobecool (talkcontribs)

How the heck does one delete a post around here?

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

In the ••• menu, you can "Hide" posts. It's like blanking the comment while leaving a note that you removed it. (Advantage: It's more transparent, e.g., if someone posts something, gets replies, and then hides what everyone was replying to. Disadvantage: Mistakes, like accidentally posting something to the wrong thread, are more obvious.)


Nick, there is more information about the work on starting a new discussion at Talk pages project/New discussion.

Nick Moyes (talkcontribs)

Typical: I found that link (Talk Pages Project/New Discussion) immediately after posting the above - note that your hyperlink is slightly incorrect.

Whilst I'm here, can I just mention that I've been seeing the word "workflow" in a lot of WMF-generated content recently, but rarely do I ever see it used by en-wiki editors. It doesn't bother me ('cos I assume you just mean 'ways/methods of working, and I'm used to work-related jargon), but I do perhaps wonder whether it might be a term that's either confusing or even off-putting when you ask the average editor for their thoughts and ideas.

PPelberg (WMF) (talkcontribs)
Pelagic (talkcontribs)

Teahouse.

When I saw on the project page “research has shown newer contributors can miss the ‘New section’ link altogether”, I immediately thought of the big button at en-wp Teahouse, and people still have trouble creating sections there.

I assumed they were hitting edit and typing at the bottom of the page, but as one of the others suggested above, maybe they are using the button and just not filling in the heading box?

Anyway, thanks to @Whatamidoing (WMF) for pinginging Teahouse regulars (I'm not one, I only go there rarely).

I'd like to see some research or discussion about how junior contributors interact with the Teahouse page (or equivalents in other languages) compared to elsewhere, given that (a) it does have an additional affordance for creating sections, and (b) it's an area where very-new real-world users can be found.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

> maybe they are using the button and just not filling in the heading box?

I suppose we could add an error message, if someone tries to submit a "New discussion" without something in both boxes.

Pelagic (talkcontribs)

Answers to primary questions

1a. How do you typically go about starting a new conversation/section on a talk page?

I think that I usually would use New Section for a top-level bottom-posted talk heading. Maybe I'd split a bottom section to avoid scrolling? Or because manual headings work everywhere and inserting them has become habit (middle of page, article space, etc.)?

If I'm splitting a section I need to be careful that I'm using an editor which allows me to adjust the edit summary. Sometimes I mess this up.

There a cases where I might be adding a subheading: “new conversation” isn't always a top-level section, though that's a simplifying assumption that works in most cases.

1b. Do you notice yourself taking different steps depending on the namespace?

I don't notice a difference between article-talk and user-talk. Some discussion spaces like ArbCom or DYK or RFCs are regimented where ‘one does not simply’ tap reply or new section (nor walk into Mordor). Long discussions evolve subheadings and arbitrary-break subheads, so I might be creating a sub-topic rather than a whole new topic.

The Wikipedia mobile app provides an interesting experience on user-talk (e.g. it seems to use local storage? to mark topics as read), but drops back to the web interface for other spaces.

2. Are there aspects about how you go start new conversation threads you find take a lot of effort?

No, generally it's a more straightforward experience than other kinds of editing. You have a blank slate and don't have to worry about indenting (the reply feature will help with that), or referencing what others have written (still an open question: unique ID per post? quote timestamp? quote text?), or other context like acknowledging the different points of view that have been already expressed.

Some other questions / observations raised above

  • Pinging in replies. Sometimes I'll use {re} or {u}, and copy the "User:Example" text from their sig.; other times I'll copy the whole [[User:Example|Example]] as-is. If the username is short and easy to spell without autocorrect mangling it, then I might hand-type. Selecting text on a touchscreen is difficult at best, and seems to have gotten worse for me lately in edit boxes. Have tried the new @-mention prototype and commented elsewhere, feeling positive about that so far.
    • I don't think I'd ever copy the user-page URL in read mode then trim it down, that would be painful; though I do have to do it for Special:Permalinks.
  • Desktop web on mobile device. I do it too. I prefer reading in Mobile/Minerva (larger font, collapsible headings, and I'm fine with that on most talk pages) but have to drop back to Desktop to get things done (accessing talk archives, using the classic text-area editor).
    • Timeless skin gives me the best of both. I'll switch up skins because I'm interested in UIs, or because I've hit a performance issue or bug and turn off all gadgets and non-vanilla stuff to compare. But f I had to choose one skin to use full-time, it would be Timeless rather than Vector or Minerva.
    • I don't find the non-read-as-Wiki-page mobile Talk view as useful as it might be. It would be helpful if there was some indication of each topic's size or activity before tapping into it, or maybe an option to load only the short topics in-line but tap through to the long ones.

Other observations

  • Argh, I just had to re-write a long sentence because cut-paste doesn't work here. Re-typing caused me to phrase it better, so maybe that's a good thing.
  • It would be nice if MediaWiki provided means for top-posting, to support spaces where recent-first makes sense.
    • Something like action=edit&section=newtop?
    • Did Teahouse or somewhere else previously do new topics at top? I wonder how that was implemented.
    • Section renumbering causes problems for concurrent edits. Say I'm taking a long time to add a comment at section 13, and somebody else adds a subheading to section 5, then my comment ends up in a different section than intended. At least I assume that's how those misplaced comments happen, I haven't investigated it deeply, but have had it happen to me.
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Yes, the Teahouse at the English Wikipedia used to do top-posting. My recollection of that conversation was that editors (mostly non-Teahouse folks) thought it was more important for the page to match all the other pages on wiki than to do what the research showed was morre functional for the specific audience on that page.

Lofhi (talkcontribs)

Here is a summary of the two answers I got for frwiki.

Questions:

  1. How do you typically go about starting a new conversation/section on a talk page? Does your workflow vary depending on the namespace?
  2. Are there aspects about your current workflow(s) for starting a new conversation/section you find to be inefficient or limiting?
  3. Have you noticed others having difficulty starting new discussion threads?

Answers:

  1. The "Add topic" button is used to start a new discussion, almost systematically. On the project namespace, it happens that an editor uses the "Add topic" button at the very bottom of the page, after having checked that his topic was not already discussed. On more technical pages, such as the pages for requests to administrators, the buttons created by the community are used with a preload text.
  2. No, but an editor shares difficulties when a discussion goes off track and he wants to refocus the topic. It seems complicated to reference another discussion in a new discussion.
  3. Newcomers reply at the very top of the page instead of adding a topic. Or they add a topic instead of just replying to a discussion.
Reply to "Current ways of starting new discussion threads"