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Sunset Nearby
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Update: The Android apps team is bringing this feature again; know more detailed information from the Nearby feature page on MediaWiki.

For numerous reasons - most prominently, low usage not justifying the maintenance overheads - it is time to sunset Nearby.

Event Timeline

@Johan We will need some community engagement assistance on this one.

Charlotte set the point value for this task to 1.Jul 22 2019, 4:12 PM
Charlotte renamed this task from Remove Nearby to Sunset Nearby.Jul 22 2019, 4:56 PM

For community communication outside of the app, this should be fairly easy, something like this:

  • Mentioning it in Tech News.
  • Posting on update in the documentation.

Potentially one would want to mention it in the app as well?

To refresh my memory, I thought about the reasons why we’re removing the “Nearby” feature in the first place. Also, I think it’ll be crucial to communicate this change as transparent and clearly as possible to the community:

  • Our main design and development focus in FY 18/19 is to encourage Android app users to start editing by presenting them with more opportunities to make micro-contributions.
  • To improve “Nearby” in a satisfying way it would take up too much of our resources at this point. The feature in its current state does not live up to our expectation of delivering highly usable products.
  • Bandwidth usage when downloading/updating the app: Nearby, respectively the “Open Street Maps” component by itself takes up XX percentage the app’s size (@Dbrant, could you provide details here? Thanks). As the app’s used a lot in areas where internet connectivity is limited and speed is low, we’ll make downloading/updating more accessible by removing the feature.
  • And last but not least, the usage of “Nearby” has been very low. Only 0.03% of all app users are using the feature. Here’s the stat that Dmitry pulled a while ago. (Could you provide some more details about the time period of this data too @Dbrant? Thanks.)

image.png (425×1 px, 102 KB)

Did I forget something @Charlotte? And thanks for the support here @Johan, it’s very appreciated!

This is one of those times when I think a less elaborate argument would actually be more suitable and realistic. While everything you mention is true, @schoenbaechler, the very, very tiny minority of people who care about Nearby will likely not be satisfied with the argument that updating it will take too many resources away from editing (which they may not use or care about). Since they presently use and enjoy Nearby, they will also presumably not care that we have no plans to improve it in the future. So the final argument - the fact that Nearby only represents 0.03% of pageviews, and it is not worth it for us to maintain - is really the most salient one.

I will update the documentation to reflect the fact that the feature is being sunset, and then we can link it from Tech News.

Low usage is a terrible metric to remove features. Valuable usage is what matters. For instance, from a 'global' perspective most Sysop gadgets are never used.. but removing them would break many workflows for admins which in turn affects everyone.

Personally I think that part of what is wrong with Nearby is that it is not what i care about generally. I hardly ever stand at a spot and think "i wonder what WP has around me" (not even as an editor). Now "where is this item and what is around it, and oh look pretty pictures" is a different story.

Low usage is a terrible metric to remove features. Valuable usage is what matters. For instance, from a 'global' perspective most Sysop gadgets are never used.. but removing them would break many workflows for admins which in turn affects everyone.

In this case we're speaking about an end-user feature that was meant to attract casual browsers, and for such end-user features, usage is an important metric. (Sysop gadgets are another case entirely, and subject to another set of considerations, as you mention.) In the case of Nearby, the very low usage that we see (0.03% of pageviews through the app) is an indication of precisely what you are saying - that the feature is not something that users care about, generally. So I think we are in agreement. :)

Potentially one would want to mention it in the app as well?

Yes, absolutely. Or at least something at all. I was just searching for it everywhere—on the bottom navigation, in the hamburger menu… No luck. I found this task by searching through GitHub commits, which is far from the abilities of an average user. (I don’t remember reading about this in the Google Play release notes, either, nor in the Tech News of the last two months. The only info about Nearby in the FAQ is why are some permissions required, nothing about the removal.) I also don’t know about any replacement offered by any Wikimedia service. (Special:Nearby is not a replacement, as it doesn’t show a map, and doesn’t allow searching for any other place than what my browser tells it. It was nice to browse around in the city and find random articles about things out there, which is impossible with Special:Nearby.)

@Charlotte: Updating the FAQ is good, but not enough for a such prominent feature (actually it’s less prominent than Nearby was). I think the best way would be:

  • Creating a replacement, e.g. on Toolforge. This is the most important, no FAQ entry can replace this step. (A web service lacks many of the mentioned disadvantages like app size impact, and the extra data usage is also more obvious.)
  • Deprecating the feature—still providing it, but adding a warning that it will be removed soon, and pointing to the FAQ and/or the replacement tool.
  • Waiting at least some weeks to reach as many users of this feature as possible.
  • Removing it, but still keeping some notice: mentioning the removal in Play Store release notes, adding a home page card, and probably mentioning it in Tech News (these should point to the FAQ and/or the replacement as well).
  • Eventually removing the home page card.

Yes, it takes time, but I think it’s necessary to avoid user confusion like in my case.

Hello, I'm just reaching out to ask about the process and requirements for restoring the Nearby functionality in the Wikipedia Android App. As a big fan of this feature, I used it extensively to explore articles based on my location, and it provided a unique and engaging user experience. However, paid alternatives, such as the paid version of OsmAnd, provide a less-than-ideal experience as it is disconnected from every other functionality the app offers.

I understand that the Nearby functionality was removed due to low usage, maintenance overheads, concerns about location permissions, and other reasons. However, with careful planning and implementation, we can address these concerns and reinstate the feature in a way that aligns with the standard procedures and priorities of the community.

Given my enthusiasm for the Nearby feature, I am eager to invest my time and skills to help bring it back. I would like to know more about the steps involved in proposing and implementing such a change and any specific requirements or guidelines I should follow. I am also open to collaborating with other community members and working together to ensure that the restored functionality meets users' needs and adheres to the best practices of the Wikipedia community.

@Jesusinica, Your enthusiasm is definitely shown through your talk!
We are working on bringing the nearby feature again; please check here.
Also, showing interest in cooperation with the Wikipedian community is highly appreciated; please get in touch with me at

@ARamadan-WMF, Thank you so much for your response and the information provided! I am thrilled to know that the Nearby feature is being worked on, and I am eager to contribute to its development. I will email you to discuss further how I can collaborate with the team and other community members on this project. Looking forward to working with you and the Wikipedia community!

(Not sure how to send you a 1:1 message.)

When I email you I get the following:

image.png (559×956 px, 46 KB)

@Jesusinica Excuse me, it was a typo
This is the right email:
Waiting for you.