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Process design and language feedback for talk pages
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Apr 12 2021, 1:34 PM
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In February 2021 I reached out to several members of the design team to gather feedback for the recent talk pages release in T252556 and T273253.

Pau Giner (@Pginer-WMF)
I like
  • Access to the talk pages communicate it is for proposing improvements to the article.
  • Activity indicators seem convenient to identify which topics I’ve read. Maybe reversing the logic (e.g., greying out what you red) to avoid looking as a huge todo list.
  • Options to participate are clear: one main action at a time.
I wish
  • Talk pages were easier to discover. Long articles require to scroll to the bottom. The table of contents include the “About this article” section but that does not anticipate that the discussion is there. It makes sense not to get in the way of the main reading experience, so it is not an easy balance to achieve.
  • The title of a discussion was fully visible on the detail page. Discussion titles may be long. They are visible in the list of messages but not once you get to the specific discussion topic. In some cases this context may be needed for the conversation and requires to go back and forth.
  • There was a sense of recency. Looking at a list of topics it is unclear whether the discussions happened years ago or there is any active topic being discussed right now.
  • I had support to add a link. When creating a topic I was proposing a to include information to a page by linking to the source. It was not obvious whether my reply was in plain text or wiki text was accepted. I had to look for an example of wiki text to make sure I was doing it right (link format of Markdown and Wikitext being different always confuses me).
  • Publishing process was more consistent. The publish button is currently a circle with a checkmark which may resemble more an indicator of status rather than the main action. Publishing on Visual Editor uses a rectangular button attached to the toolbar, so users may have such expectation.
  • Publishing provided more guidance. After publishing a new topic, I was redirected back to the top of the list of topics, while the topic created was at the bottom (not visible). I’d expect to be redirected to a place where the new content was visible (maybe even highlighted).
  • Signatures and usernames were not distracting from the messages. When reading a discussion, the timestamp is verbose making it requires an effort to process and get a sense of recency. In addition it uses the same text style as the message and with the user signature it adds noise you need to filter as you read the conversation.
What if
  • Some of the talk page activity were surfaced to make it more visible the talk page activity.
  • There was a sign that I started a given topic.
  • I ended up publishing on the talk page about paella, which is often a controversial topic around here.

Amir Aharoni (@Amire80)
  • I imagine that for most editors, the talk page link will be frequently useful, so perhaps it should be at the persistent toolbar at the bottom of the page. The "Theme" button is probably less useful than that. I might be wrong, though; your data collection and design research may say otherwise.
  • Currently, the Talk button are shown at the bottom and you have to scroll all the way down. Same for History. Consider putting them in a more accessible place.
  • In Hebrew, the title of the talk page is shown as "Talk:שם הדף בעברית". The namespace name is written in English. It should be written in the wiki content language, "שיחה:שם הדף בעברית".

Prateek Saxena (@Prtksxna)
I like
  • The clean list of topics
  • A way to add a new topic
  • Quick reply
I wish
  1. I wish there was a way to see the topic in browser (especially when it looks broken on the app)
  2. I wish the reply input and tick button (is that for send?) were more connected
  3. I wish the feature was more discoverable
  4. I wish it was easier to visually scan all topics when some are read and some unread
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Sudhanshu Gautam (@SGautam_WMF)
  • I found it easy to discover.
  • Maybe it’s worth showing it even when people are not logged in? e.g., we can show a login popup when they tap on it.
  • Better highlighting of contents section. E.g. United States talk page has a summary table with sections and subsections that can better format for quick scanning.
  • A minor one, use the same icons for talk pages inside article and “More”.

Rita Ho (@RHo via Google Docs)
What works well?
  • Starting a new topic is very easy on both User and Article talk pages
  • The blue dot to indicate unread talk conversations and new messages
  • Readability seems better for long discussions compared to desktop.
  • Having the Talk page in the user settings. What if we also showed the blue dot notification when the user gets new messages on the icons for Notifications and GTalk messages here?
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What is confusing? General questions?
  1. Is it going to be possible to enable replying to messages within threads in future? It seems like hitting the “reply” FAB right now would reply to the most recent message, but what if I wanted to interject in an earlier reply in the middle of a thread?
    • Might this be something that is figured out with the Talk pages reply tool that Jess and the Editing team are working on?
  2. While readability in general is better - for discussions with lots of threaded replies, it’s harder to keep track of who is replying to whom. See for example the David Talk page where it’s unclear whether something is a further nested reply or not.
    • a) Talk page example with 2 replies in a row that are the same level in.
    • b) Since there is 1 nesting level only on Android it’s harder to discern the difference (though imho easier to read)
  3. The existence of the Change language icon is extremely confusing. I don’t quite get what it is there for, because it seems to be to enable quickly changing my Wikipedia app language settings, which I wouldn’t need to use to reply or read talk pages differently AFAIK?
  4. It is slightly confusing when clicking on someone who hasn’t created their userpage to see “This page doesn’t exist”. Perhaps this could be improved with copy that could succinctly explain they haven’t created a userpage?
  5. Similarly, the CTA “Read article” is confusing for a User page that does exist.
  6. Navigating to Article Talk pages could be easier - maybe this and Article history could be shown as discrete items on the ToC instead of both being under “About this article”
  7. Elevating Talk pages as something of interest to Readers as well as Editors - this is something that Carolyn and iOS has brought up before. I find, for example, The Weeklypedia e-newsletter to always surfaces interesting Talk pages in their top active discussions section. This could potentially be an interesting card to add to the Explore feed that would lead to more people accessing the talk pages.
  8. Adding back in content that has been stripped from the Talk page templates - for example this Stanley Kubrick topic has relevant message/FAQ templates at the top (referred to in the discussion) that is not rendered on Android.
    • a) The Talk page shows important information notices at the top of the page which are not shown in either the topics list or the specific discussion thread.
  9. An ability to see the entire title of a discussion topic - see the “Why doesn’t Stanley Kubrick have an information box?” example above, half of the topic overflows. IMagine this will be more annoying for languages like CS and DE.
  10. This is more about the Userpage, but I think the Userpage:Username H1 title is missing on that page, which makes it hard to figure out whose page you are on if they have not added much in the way of identifying info.
    • a) Relatedly minor visual thing: when the article/userpage is short, should the footer still be sticky to the bottom of the device screen?
  11. The checkmark inside a circle to confirm looks wrong (I think it might be a legacy item?) but would suggest replacing with a checkmark without the circle, or a text CTA (“DONE”??)
  12. Very minor - but it would be nice to be able to mark topics as read and unread. For example if I am in the middle of reading a long thread and get interrupted, it would be nice to manually mark as unread so I remember to return to it later.
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Jess Klein (@iamjessklein)
Discoverability in article
  • Are people are expecting it in the top right area on the article page?
  • Wording suggestion, aim for consistency:
    • “Talk pages” vs ”Discussion”
Article talk pages
  • Likes the floating action button (New topic)
  • Robin + Jess: current behavior of blue dots is confusing, get rid of them?
  • Following individual discussions
  • JK is working on topic subscriptions and notifications at the moment
  • Article talk page image is missing (see talk page of Jess Wade)
  • Where’s the disclaimer?
User talk
  • How can I navigate to user talk pages?
  • How about dropdown arrows to expand and collapse?
  • Make language switch consistent with article pages (bottom toolbar)
  • Feels like a “functional” prototype — advise for product demo: list the things that a future version can do

Event Timeline

It finally happened @JTannerWMF 👋 I added all the feedback I received from an internal test group here. Thanks to all who participated!