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Enable wikis to customize the syntax used to indent comments posted with Reply Tool
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Description

This task involves the work with making it so wikis can decide what syntax (e.g. : or *) the Reply Tool uses to to indent comment posted with it.

Background

T252708 makes it so the Reply Tool uses a consistent character for indenting comments posted with it. This task is about making it possible for wikis to customize what "character" is used.

Implementation details

  1. Wikis are able to decide what character the Reply Tool prepends to all comments posted with it
  2. Once the character is decided upon, all subsequent comments posted with the Reply Tool should be prepended with said character

Done

  • The behavior described in the "Implementation details" section above is implemented

Event Timeline

Change of course
During today's team meeting, @Esanders raised the following point:

  • Might there be wikis that prefer the Reply Tool inherit the indentation syntax used in the comment being replied to (e.g. perhaps there are wikis that use different syntax depending on the page as is done on ru.wikipedia)?e

With the above mind, I think we should wait to work on this task until we have received an explicit request from wikis to change the behavior T252708 introduces.

ppelberg moved this task from Backlog to FY2020-21 on the Editing-team (Tracking) board.
ppelberg added a subscriber: matmarex.

Sure, it shouldn't be difficult to bring back the previous behavior (and make it configurable), if that's desired.

Change 672430 had a related patch set uploaded (by Bartosz Dziewoński; owner: Bartosz Dziewoński):
[mediawiki/extensions/DiscussionTools@master] Enable wikis to customize the syntax used for replies

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/672430

(We're still considering what is the best way to do this)

@Jack_who_built_the_house, the team's wondering whether this should be handled as a config change (have to get a dev if you want to change it) or as a MediaWiki: message, which could be changed locally by any interface-admin. This might only be used at ruwiki, so I'd like to know what you recommend.

@Whatamidoing-WMF Giving it to a small group of admins is the easy way to push their opinions through a message (which change they can easily and quietly influence) to all users of the wiki. When the tool works the same on all sites, it is the Foundation's decision, but when you give the change to the admin, it is largely the decision of that small group. There is no rule about one specific symbol in ruwiki. They will not use Reply Tool because they are using their own script CD. This is your tool and your decision. There will be no personal choice for editors neither by personal editing, nor by local voting (all votes are short-term and few editors participate. Invite all users of their script to influence the decision they need in the vote and the result is obvious), interface-admins will of course push DiscussionTools users into the behavior of their scripts. This whole approach with symbols only creates local holywars. When contributors do not personally choose when creating a comment, as they do now, this is not the same approach when the developers suggested making "existing" things easier.

Giving it to a small group of admins is the easy way to push their opinions through a message (which change they can easily and quietly influence) to all users of the wiki. When the tool works the same on all sites, it is the Foundation's decision, but when you give the change to the admin, it is largely the decision of that small group.

The Foundation employees are also a small group in this case, a small group that decided (in my honest opinion, others might disagree) that the worse web accessibility does not matter if people in the communities use inaccessible variant too much. Why should they get the final say in your opinion? And what, do you think, you are exactly fighting for here?

There is no rule about one specific symbol in ruwiki. They will not use Reply Tool because they are using their own script CD.

Maybe, but that also does not mean that two scripts, both of which would probably continue to be widely used by hundreds of editors, should differ in their default behaviour for no reason.

Both syntaxes are pretty awful, let's please not make this task a discussion about which one is better.

We want the reply tool to use the syntax preferred by the majority of senior editors, regardless of which syntax is better, because even if those senior editors don't use the reply tool themselves, they will be often replying to comments posted by junior users who do use it, and we don't want them to get upset and bite the newcomers over this silly detail.

I hope that clarifies why we're working on this change, and why we're deferring to your opinion in this case.

@matmarex Does this mean that by creating a global variable it will be left to work like this for a long term and for many years? Does this mean that the developers have no further plans to unify the presentation for all discussions with the tool (with/without visible bullets regardless of the ul/dl code)? After all, there were earlier some proposals for additional more complex markup.

@matmarex Does this mean that by creating a global variable it will be left to work like this for a long term and for many years?

Probably (but it can be changed whenever the community requests it, and as mentioned above, we're considering using a MediaWiki: message instead if you wanted to make it easier to change).

Does this mean that the developers have no further plans to unify the presentation for all discussions with the tool (with/without visible bullets regardless of the ul/dl code)?

We're planning to work on changes to the presentation of discussions (https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project/Visual_enhancements), but that hasn't started yet.

We've experimented with some radical changes to discussion pages, but we're probably not going to work on that any time soon. Here's a demo (only works on Firefox and Chrome): https://patchdemo.wmflabs.org/wikis/c59b46652abe0a4090fd15442b50c2b3/w/index.php/Special:ViewDiscussions/Project:Village_pump_(technical)/Archive_180. Such a change is both difficult to do reliably, and probably more than senior users are ready for. It would, however, get rid of bullets or lack thereof, and would probably improve the screenreader/keyboard accessibility and readability on mobile (although it was just a quick experiment, and we haven't tested it with any actual users). Maybe we'll get there in a few years.

By the way, some wikis already replaced the bullets/indents with different styling, check out https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipédia:Le_Bistro for example. Maybe that's an idea you could propose at Russian Wikipedia. (I know that the ConvenientDiscussions script also does some styling changes.)

I'm not sure if that really answers your question, sorry.

After all, there were earlier some proposals for additional more complex markup.

We were trying to propose a wikitext syntax for multi-line list items (and multi-line discussion comments): T230683. But they would still work mostly like normal list items, so that would not change the bullets.

@Jack_who_built_the_house, the team's wondering whether this should be handled as a config change (have to get a dev if you want to change it) or as a MediaWiki: message, which could be changed locally by any interface-admin. This might only be used at ruwiki, so I'd like to know what you recommend.

For ruwiki, I don't see much difference, as this value is unlikely to change. But I doubt this won't be used in other projects, since at least there are Russian projects other than Wikipedia that will likely use the same indentation, and that could also be the case for wikis in languages of Russia and CIS countries, since many of them have the same users and customs. But honestly I'm a rare guest there, and I don't know which indentation is used where. So, perhaps it would be easier for them to edit a MediaWiki message? I don't know.

On the other hand, I'm not sure this setting is at all suitable for MediaWiki messages. First of all, I doubt that any alternatives to * and : exist. Does any wiki count comments and start them with #? I would be surprised if it does.

BTW, one more thing. In ruwiki, there is a solid custom to put a space after indentation characters. We write

* Comment
: Comment

not

*Comment
:Comment

Could this be configurable too?

In Convenient Discussions, there is also a third setting that determines whether a new comment at the first level should repeat the previous comment's indentation style ('mimic' mode) or should the script use the default indentation char in all cases ('unify' mode).

Maybe DiscussionTools will have some of the mentioned or other settings. And I guess it's better to have all of them in one place. And not necessarily all of them will be suitable for MediaWiki messages.

But maybe I'm overcomplicating things and the devs will decide it's simpler to have a MediaWiki message or two.