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Clarify the relationship between notification and watchlist workflows
Open, Needs TriagePublic



A core part of being an editor on Wikipedia is watching over things. Different types of users use the tools that we have for watching content in different ways "depending on the level of experience and the decade in which they started editing" (according to @Whatamidoing-WMF).

Generally, we have a two workflows to consider:

Watchlist = a feed of all edits to pages I am interested in that come with a powerful set of tools that enable me to customize how this
Notifications = alerts about specific kinds of edits I am interested in

Most edits/actions/events that trigger notifications are represented as "news items" within Watchlists. In various usability tests, I've informally observed that junior contributors are confused by, and/or are having difficulty with:

  1. the relationship between these two workflows
  2. discovering the location of the watchlist and in turn, knowing where to go to manage their settings
  3. the workflows purpose

Additionally, there have some attempts to allude to or integrate the experiences. For example, currently on Flow when you want to watch a topic, you click a star icon (the icon used for watchlists) and while you receive notifications via the notification alert system, you also have the ability to manage the topics that you are watching in the Watchlist. As a bonus, you also have the ability to stop watching conversations directly in your notifications alerts.

Screenshot of notification alert where you have an overflow menu with the "watchlist star icon" to stop watching topics

Screen Shot 2021-04-05 at 12.16.05 PM.png (467×615 px, 83 KB)


There has been a proposal for quite some time to unify the notification entry points (T142981). This proposal being approved would allow us to focus on unifying one notification alert experience with the watchlist experience.

Possible Solutions:

  • Connect the two experiences. What would this look like? Would this be a major infrastructural undertaking? Would this completely disrupt senior contributor's workflows?
  • Differentiate the two experiences in a more obvious and extreme way. What would a real activity feed look like? Is this something that would appear on your Home Page?