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Help panel: show search link content and help link content inside help panel
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Description

The help panel is a feature that allows newcomers to post questions directly to their wiki's help desk while they are in the middle of editing a page.


Filing this as an idea I've been thinking about over the last few days as I've been interacting with the help panel.

I think the help panel is potentially a lot more useful if we could load the mobile view of the pages we that are found from the Search panel and from the "Basics of editing" widget. The reason to do this would be to provide help on the topic the user wants within the editing interface, so that they are not required to switch between tabs/windows. As I understand it (citation needed in case I'm remembering incorrectly) most editors are single tab/window users.

My idea would be to provide a "Help browse mode" for the help panel:

  1. When a user clicks on a link from the "search" component or from the "Basics of editing" contextual links, open the content in the help panel.
  2. Provide a "Back" button to take the user one step back in the navigation stack. E.g., if the user clicks "Manual of style" they'd see the screenshot below, and back would take them to the home screen. If the user clicked "Manual of style" and then clicked "Guideline", the contents of "Guideline" would load in the panel and "Back" would take them to "Manual of style", not to the home screen. (I don't think we'd need a "forwards" button as that would overcomplicate things.)
  3. Provide a "Open in new tab" link in case the user prefers to view the content in its normal format, in a separate tab. We can't actually control whether it's a new tab or new window (that's a browser preference) but I suggest "Open in new tab" as something simple and easily understood by the user.
  4. When showing help link content in the help panel, change the "X" which closes help panel and resets to the default state, to a "down arrow" which collapses to the CTA; clicking on the CTA opens up the help panel to the previous state. That way, the user can view a help article, collapse it to do some typing, then click the button to pull it up again if they need clarification on something.

Crude mockup below:

I don't think the engineering effort for this would be unreachable before our target launch date. If we're interested to do this as a nice-to-have then we could try to work it in after all the other core functionality is implemented. On the other hand, if we decide that we want this to be the default functionality, then knowing that this week would help speed up some of the engineering around event logging, for example. This could also be an interesting A/B test as well (plain links versus links which load content into the help panel) if we're undecided.

Event Timeline

kostajh created this task.Dec 9 2018, 6:57 PM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptDec 9 2018, 6:57 PM
kostajh updated the task description. (Show Details)Dec 9 2018, 10:45 PM
kostajh updated the task description. (Show Details)
MMiller_WMF renamed this task from Help Panel: Show search link content and help link content inside help panel to Help panel: show search link content and help link content inside help panel.Dec 11 2018, 1:46 AM
MMiller_WMF added subscribers: Catrope, SBisson, Etonkovidova and 2 others.
RHo added a comment.Dec 11 2018, 10:20 AM

+1 to this proposal, including for showing the "top 5 editing links" inside the help panel as well rather than opening in a new tab.

I like it as well. I'm just a but concerned by how bad Help pages are displayed on Mobile, since most people think about them only for desktop.

Also consider showing search results directly in the help panel.

@SBisson -- is that not already where we plan to show search results? Does your work in T209301 not do that? If not, where are the contents displayed?

@SBisson -- is that not already where we plan to show search results? Does your work in T209301 not do that? If not, where are the contents displayed?

Search results are opened in a new tab or window. There was no mention of that in the search task and opening them directly in the help panel comes with a whole set of issues and challenges. It's similar to mobile in the sense of selecting which parts of the content (toc, images, infobox, etc) to display and how but also which links within the content should be available and how should they be handled. I agree it would be "nice" but I don't know how it could justify the effort and complexity.

@SBisson -- sorry, I thought by "search results", you meant the list of results that came back, not the content itself. I see that you included the list of results in what you already built.

RHo added a comment.Jan 25 2019, 12:47 PM

Per comments on T209301 - do we want to put this task on hold until after deploying search in the help panel?
I'm thinking that if we see a high number of users abandoning the edit after clicking on a link inside the help panel, that would be a sign for a need to have help article content appear within the help panel instead and we can re-prioritize then.
Adding @nettrom_WMF in case he has more thoughts on what we can look out for...

Change 488672 had a related patch set uploaded (by Kosta Harlan; owner: Kosta Harlan):
[mediawiki/extensions/GrowthExperiments@master] WIP: Help Panel: Allow browsing editing help link content in panel

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/488672

I started hacking on this at all hands as a proof of concept. If we decide to move forward with this, we can use the patch here as a starting point. It's pretty close although there are details to work out.

The Growth team is considering this task for the hackathon. We're happy to collaborate with other participants on this.

MMiller_WMF updated the task description. (Show Details)May 16 2019, 7:52 PM

Change 488672 abandoned by Kosta Harlan:
WIP: Help Panel: Allow browsing editing help link content in panel

Reason:
maybe someday!

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/488672

JTannerWMF moved this task from Q2 2019-20 to Q1 2019-20 on the Growth-Team board.Jun 17 2019, 6:52 PM