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Enable magic word SHORTDESC on German-language Wikipedia
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Description

Following discussion on dewiki, I am being bold and want to make a request to enable the magic word SHORTDESC for locally overriding Wikidata short descriptions also on dewiki. The reasons are more or less the same as expressed in T184000; additionally, the dewiki community is probably even more sensitive when it comes to untraceable vandalism because of its reliance on FlaggedRevs. Also, dewiki already stores local short descriptions for all biographies, so the workflow could be easily adapted.

Since the change is apparently very controversial (I went through several declined or lengthy other tickets here on Phabricator), I want to make the request before organising a formal community voting procedure (Meinungsbild) on the matter, so as to get a response on the feasibility of the change already beforehand. If there is no fundamental, well-founded reason to decline such a request, we will proceed with a formal voting procedure on dewiki.

Local discussion


Currently todos:

  • Enable SHORTDESC for dewiki in beta to give people a better opportunity to test it (local discussion)
  • Proceed with the Meinungsbild (local version of RfC) to see if there is a community consensus for this change
  • Based on the previous todo enable this in production for dewiki if the consensus was reached and revert the change in beta

Event Timeline

@Bugreporter I'm sorry, but this will not suffice. In that task they refer to a statement by @DannyH from 2018 (!), where he simply says that they will not enable the feature right now and without any reasons. It is 2021, @Aklapper has referred me to filing a new request in the linked discussion, and so I did. The dewiki community deserves a proper statement regarding this issue!

Change 678332 had a related patch set uploaded (by Luke081515; author: Luke081515):

[operations/mediawiki-config@master] Enable Wikidata description override on dewiki

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/678332

Change 678332 abandoned by Jforrester:

[operations/mediawiki-config@master] Enable Wikidata description override on dewiki

Reason:

Please do not write speculative patches for config changes that have not even been discussed yet.

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/678332

@Aklapper has referred me to filing a new request in the linked discussion

Errrm, well, I merely pointed to https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requesting_wiki_configuration_changes and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Limits_to_configuration_changes for general info...

Sure, which necessarily leads to this, since the kind of change requested is not among prohibited or likely-to-be-stalled/declined changes.

Ehm, the plan was to just do the opposite! As explained in the beginning, I will only go forward with the voting procedure if there is no “fundamental, well-founded reason to decline such a request”. I do not expect there to be one, but I would prefer to have some form of an official statement on this, due to its controversial nature.

If there is a community vote chances are high the sysops will follow it.

Sure, but I repeat, this is deemed controversial for whatever reason, and I would like to have input on that beforehand, otherwise there con be no informed consensus by the community. Since the start of the procedure would have to be announced at least one week in advance anyway, there is enough time for the responsible people here on Phabricator to react; during the voting the task should of course be stalled. Let’s keep it open for now!

XanonymusX changed the task status from Stalled to Open.Apr 11 2021, 4:40 PM

Hello everyone, I suggest to wait a few days for a response from @DannyH, who wrote the comment that leaded to several similar requests being declined. He's still employed by the Foundation, and I'm sure he'll have a look at this ticket soon. Best, Martin

Aklapper changed the task status from Open to Stalled.Apr 12 2021, 3:15 PM

SHORTDESC is a terrible thing - it blocks cross-project work. This mechanism should be removed, not expanded.

There is no point in re-discussing it; if a community wants to use it, they should be able to. And what exactly is the use of a German-language short description of a dewiki article for other projects?

Hi all, thanks for the ping. I hadn't seen the discussion on German WP, so the request came as a bit of a surprise. Now that I've read the discussion, I understand the concerns that people are raising there.

Before we make a decision, I'll need to get together with some people in my department to talk about it, and figure out the right way to handle it. I'll schedule that for next week, and once we've talked about it, I'll be able to get back to you with a real answer.

Thanks! There is no need to hurry, the current discussion is one of a series that went on for years, so we can wait a bit longer. I will not move on with the voting for now, as it is only fair to first provide the community with as much additional input as possible.

Hi, thanks for your patience. If the current community discussion comes to consensus to switch to just pulling short descriptions from German WP, then we are willing to follow the same steps that we did with English.

There's a two-step process for switching over, so that the short descriptions don't suddenly disappear while you're writing the new descriptions.

First, we can enable the SHORTDESC magic word, which you can put on articles and start writing short descriptions. For articles with a SHORTDESC description, our features and apps will use the description from German WP. For articles that don't have a SHORTDESC description, we fall back to using the Wikidata description.

Once there are enough short descriptions, we can make the switch to only pulling descriptions from German WP. At that point, for articles that don't have a SHORTDESC description, there won't be any description displayed. When we did this with English WP, we asked for 2 million short descriptions before we made the switch (about a third of the articles). German WP currently has 2.5 million articles, so I think 850,000 short descriptions will be enough.

To make that easier, you can feel free to populate the SHORTDESC descriptions using a bot that copies all of the existing descriptions from Wikidata. If the community chooses to do that, then we can get to the second step quickly. English WP decided to write all of the new descriptions by hand, so it took a while before we took the second step.

We won't do anything until the community has come to consensus. If it helps the discussion, you can feel free to let people know what we've said here.

Perfect, thank you! As for step two, we are discussing that separately and might choose a different approach than English Wikipedia, but the procedure will show. We will continue our talks and then move forward with voting on the proposals soon.

The German Wikipedia community has not yet even discussed whether Wikidata descriptions should be dumped completely, or which milestone would be appropriate in case this should be done. Some remarks:

  • In case this gets approved, there is a plan to add short descriptions from [[de:Vorlage:Personendaten]], which actually has systematic "short descriptions" for all biographies in German Wikipedia that would immediately qualify for use in SHORTDESC as well. With 870.000 transclusions, it alone would be sufficient to pass the proposed 850.000 requirement, leaving all non-biographies without descriptions.
  • A couple of days ago, I queried the situation a bit. There were 2,56 million German Wikipedia articles (main namespace, no redirects), of which 2,13 million (83%) use a German description from Wikidata. This is considerably more than what we had three years ago for English Wikipedia.

You propose to ignore 1,3 million existing descriptions from Wikidata. This is way too much, particularly considering that quite some editors have invested considerable time into adding Wikidata descriptions due to the way they have been used and exposed to readers in the past six years or so. It is also unclear at this point whether there is a desire to dump Wikidata descriptions entirely that is as strong as it was in English Wikipedia three years ago.

The German Wikipedia community has not yet even discussed whether Wikidata descriptions should be dumped completely, or which milestone would be appropriate in case this should be done. Some remarks:

  • In case this gets approved, there is a plan to add short descriptions from [[de:Vorlage:Personendaten]], which actually has systematic "short descriptions" for all biographies in German Wikipedia that would immediately qualify for use in SHORTDESC as well. With 870.000 transclusions, it alone would be sufficient to pass the proposed 850.000 requirement, leaving all non-biographies without descriptions.
  • A couple of days ago, I queried the situation a bit. There were 2,56 million German Wikipedia articles (main namespace, no redirects), of which 2,13 million (83%) use a German description from Wikidata. This is considerably more than what we had three years ago for English Wikipedia.

You propose to ignore 1,3 million existing descriptions from Wikidata. This is way too much, particularly considering that quite some editors have invested considerable time into adding Wikidata descriptions due to the way they have been used and exposed to readers in the past six years or so. It is also unclear at this point whether there is a desire to dump Wikidata descriptions entirely that is as strong as it was in English Wikipedia three years ago.

Yeah, as I proposed, we should choose a different path for that issue; I will specify my proposal very soon (was thinking about 90% of the 2.13 mln), and we will always offer the option of not getting rid of WD descriptions at all.

Yeah, as I proposed, we should choose a different path for that issue; I will specify my proposal very soon (was thinking about 90% of the 2.13 mln), and we will always offer the option of not getting rid of WD descriptions at all.

Yes, but I am highly disappointing that the inappropriate 850k number is on the table now. It signals that WMF apparently does not care much about the lost descriptions and how they effectively improve their products (apps, skins, search, etc). It also might make it easy for hardliners to force us dumping Wikidata descriptions at an unreasonably early stage.

In my eyes, it is only reasonable that WMF would try to treat communities/projects equally, even if indeed several years have passed. But anyway, since I am the initiator on dewiki, I will not allow for a premature termination to happen. Let’s continue the talks on dewiki!

Luke081515 changed the task status from Stalled to Open.Sun, Apr 25, 8:01 PM
Luke081515 claimed this task.
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Luke081515 updated the task description. (Show Details)

Change 682337 had a related patch set uploaded (by Luke081515; author: Luke081515):

[operations/mediawiki-config@master] Enable Wikidata description override on dewiki at beta

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/682337

Luke081515 triaged this task as Medium priority.Sun, Apr 25, 8:22 PM

To clarify, we will support the community consensus that comes from the discussion and voting.

@DannyH and others: German Wikipedia uses "flagged revisions" on all pages; changes are only being displayed to readers if they have been flagged/reviewed by an experienced editor.

How would SHORTDESC interact with flagged revisions? Would it respect the review status so that it only displays short descriptions from flagged/reviewed revisions, or would always the short description from the latest revision be used in apps, mobile skins, and search regardless of a pending flagging process?

I am pretty sure that the short description will work in the same way as the sort key does right now; thus we of course need to review the revision (in the wikitext), but the description the page uses will come from the latest revision, even if not reviewed. That is of course not the ideal behaviour (same for DEFAULTSORT), but with the current status of the FlaggedRevs extension it is to be expected.

Change 682337 merged by jenkins-bot:

[operations/mediawiki-config@master] Enable Wikidata description override on dewiki at beta

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/682337

I am pretty sure that the short description will work in the same way as the sort key does right now; thus we of course need to review the revision (in the wikitext), but the description the page uses will come from the latest revision, even if not reviewed. That is of course not the ideal behaviour (same for DEFAULTSORT), but with the current status of the FlaggedRevs extension it is to be expected.

Yes, anything that is needed outside of the HTML presentation of the page (and the goal of the short description is to be used in all kinds of JS widgets and external tools / apps, so it needs to be available independently of the HTML) needs to live somewhere else than the parser output for the page, and FlaggedRevs's alternative storage for stable revisions only extends to the parser output, so stable versions of short descriptions are not supported and cannot easily be supported, no matter what source the descriptions are pulled from.