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[Design spike] Determine how to treat red links in user tools/menu
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Description

Description

Currently, in accordance with the general red link treatment (Wiki documentation) some new members of the community see three red links in their personal tools area (if you have the newcomer homepage turned on your username will not be red):

image.png (319×1 px, 96 KB)

Additionally, in your signature your username and talk page links will be red:

Screen Shot 2021-06-15 at 11.40.51 AM.png (212×1 px, 43 KB)

The purpose of this task is to discuss: does the red link pattern make sense in the User and User talk namespaces? Or in other words, as a new user is it helpful to see your username, user talk page, and sandbox links in red? We could also consider this from the perspective of other people seeing those links, but it probably makes sense to consider this primarily from the standpoint of the person themself. An additional consideration to keep in mind: we are upgrading (so to speak) these links in the user tools/menu area from generic wikilinks to OOUI buttons/components. In OOUI red buttons/links are used for destructive actions (e.g. Delete), so there is a clash between the wikilink pattern and OOUI (OOUI documentation).

Can you please provide your thoughts and preferences here? Thanks so much.

Options

(1) For new vector we remove redlinks in the user & user talk namespaces — so in the user menu, as well as in user signatures, the Userpage, Talk page, and Sandbox links would be blue. For all other skins there would be no change from current link styling (though we could optionally submit a proposal to have this change adopted in all skins).

(2) For new vector we make the Userpage, Talk page, and Sandbox links black ONLY in the user tools / user menu area. In user signatures they would still be red. The justification here is that in the user tools / user menu area these things are not simply "wiki links" anymore, rather they've been upgraded to actual buttons and therefore the wikilink styling doesn't apply.

(3) For new vector we keep the red link pattern everywhere — so both in the user tools / user menu area, and also in user signatures. We then file a task to have a discussion with the community more broadly about red links in the user namespace.

with redlinkswithout redlinks
2021-05-26 15.29.40.gif (345×289 px, 61 KB)
2021-05-26 15.44.16.gif (317×307 px, 59 KB)

Event Timeline

@RHo @MMiller_WMF currently, in accordance with the general redlink treatment (Wiki documentation) some (all?) new members of the community see three red links in their personal tools area:

(1) username, (2) Talk, (3) Sandbox

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 3.28.34 PM.png (319×1 px, 104 KB)

While this makes sense from the general perspective of "links to pages that do not currently exist within Wikipedia" are red, I wanted to pause and ask whether or not we find redlinks to be useful in this specific context or not? The reason for asking this question now is because we are in the midst of updating the personal tools area, and have the opportunity to either carry the redlink behavior forward, or modify it.

with redlinkswithout redlinks
2021-05-26 15.29.40.gif (345×289 px, 61 KB)
2021-05-26 15.44.16.gif (317×307 px, 59 KB)

Can you please provide your thoughts and preferences here? Thanks so much.

@RHo @MMiller_WMF currently, in accordance with the general redlink treatment (Wiki documentation) some (all?) new members of the community see three red links in their personal tools area:

(1) username, (2) Talk, (3) Sandbox

Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 3.28.34 PM.png (319×1 px, 104 KB)

While this makes sense from the general perspective of "links to pages that do not currently exist within Wikipedia" are red, I wanted to pause and ask whether or not we find redlinks to be useful in this specific context or not? The reason for asking this question now is because we are in the midst of updating the personal tools area, and have the opportunity to either carry the redlink behavior forward, or modify it.

with redlinkswithout redlinks
2021-05-26 15.29.40.gif (345×289 px, 61 KB)
2021-05-26 15.44.16.gif (317×307 px, 59 KB)

Can you please provide your thoughts and preferences here? Thanks so much.

Thanks Alex, in terms of how this impacts Growth team features, the decision for red link or not doesn't affect us currently, since people who are in our experiments do not see a red link for their username link. This is because we link this to their newcomer homepage feature - an extra homepage tab is added in front of the user page tab in our experiment features:

image.png (290×2 px, 83 KB)

One of several reasons we decided to place the homepage here is because we wanted to place in an area that we saw many newcomers visiting it (30-40%) on their first day with an account. We also heard anecdotally in usability testing that after creating an account, people were looking for a personal dashboard or place to start, and often assumed it would be under their account name. [1] This tendency to visit this area is supported by recent data across all wikis that around ~25% of edits from editors with 1-4 edit count are being made in the User or User talk page. [2]
Having said all that, the behaviour is fairly equal across desktop and mobile which doesn't have the red link styling, so I believe it the red link style may not have a major impact either way in someone's tendency to visit their user link page. And indeed this introduces more consistency between mobile and desktop as a side benefit.

More generally, I am unsure that red links = page does not exist is a commonly understood notion for someone who is not familiar with how editing works on Wikipedia, since it is not something that is a pattern on most other sites. I would also argue the more primary purpose of the red link styling would be as a warning to the person that this page does not exist to save them from a click to a non-existent page, with the secondary function of indicating an opportunity to create a page. In the case of the user page, user talk, and sandbox, I don't know that we want to do either – we definitely don't want it to discourage going there, but nor is it meant to be a necessary thing for someone to user their sandbox, talk, or user page.

Taking all of the above into consideration, I would be inclined to not carry forward the red link styling on the header elements on new vector.

[1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Growth/Personalized_first_day/Newcomer_homepage#Location
[2] https://superset.wikimedia.org/r/556

@alexhollender -- I agree with @RHo: I do not think the red links in personal tools are helpful to the newcomers.

  • I have seen situations where newcomers ask the question, "Why is my username always red?" (because it's not just in their personal tool; their username will be red in their signature, too.)
  • Also, when newcomers used to click on their username before the homepage existed, it would take them to their blank userpage, which would say to them "This page does not exist." Taken together, the newcomer would think, "How do I not exist? I just created my account."

Ideally, we would be able to teach them what red links mean, but it's hard in their first few minutes, because there are more important things for the newcomer to be doing (i.e. their first article edits). So yes, I think we should stop having red up there.

I think an argument against it, though, is that all three of those links (username, talk, sandbox) will be read elsewhere in signatures or wiki pages.

Thanks for your thoughts @RHo & @MMiller_WMF.

@ovasileva and I discussed some more today and came up with these three options:

(1) For new vector we remove redlinks in the user namespace — so in the user menu, as well as in user signatures, the Userpage, Talk page, and Sandbox links would be blue. For all other skins there would be no change from current link styling.

(2) For new vector we make the Userpage, Talk page, and Sandbox links black ONLY in the user tools / user menu area. In user signatures they would still be red. The justification here is that in the user tools / user menu area these things are not simply "wiki links" anymore, rather they've been upgraded to actual buttons and therefore the wikilink styling doesn't apply.

(3) For new vector we keep the redlink pattern everywhere — so both in the user tools / user menu area, and also in user signatures. We then file a task to have a discussion with the community more broadly about redlinks in the user namespace.

Passing it over to Olga now for further consideration.

Jdlrobson assigned this task to ovasileva.

Olga to make a decision. There was also some confusion in standup today about what the scope of this ticket is and current status of the - whether we are looking to revert the changes in T282884. Could the description be fleshed out to make it clearer what we are doing here?

@Jdlrobson I apologize for the conflicting information.

In T276561#7069851 I said:

Feel free to drop the red link treatment for now.

which I imagine is how T282884 came to be.

At that point I unfortunately hadn't realized the wider implications. What is the status of T282884? I'm not sure it makes sense to revert it, but it might be good to block/pause it until we have a decision here.

The work in T282884 was still valuable as it allows skins to make this decision. It's also not deployed anywhere, so we can change our mind.

It would still be helpful to me for the description to be expanded to make clear this is about evaluating red links everywhere including the in progress user tools/menu.

@Jdlrobson I've updated the task description to make things more clear

Feedback per request. :) From my volunteer experience:

  • Signatures - Redlinks in user-signatures are very important, as they help other editors understand they are (probably) dealing with a newcomer (and thus hopefully will be more patient, etc). Also for consistency; i.e. editors expect something to exist at a bluelink. -- I believe there would be great unhappiness if this were changed.
  • Toolbar Userpage - Redlinks for [[User:....]] pages in the Toolbar are important, because they help indicate to the newcomer that an empty page exists which they can & should use. -- Ideally, we'd have better info at the top of their empty-page, briefly explaining what they can use it for, and optionally linking to further local details. However....
  • Toolbar Sandbox - Redlinks for the sandbox are similarly useful. They (should) encourage the newcomer to use their sandbox page, and potentially get them accustomed to the whole "start a new page" process in an easier/lightweight way.
  • Toolbar User-talkpage - This one is slightly different, because editors don't typically start their own usertalkpage. Ideally, it is started by someone welcoming them! But many wikis don't do automated welcoming (because then replies don't get seen), so this relies on chance.
  • Black text as links - In some circumstances, most especially within prose-content, it is a design anti-pattern to style a link with a black color, because it makes all text "potentially a link", thus confusing & frustrating users who will need to mouseover/tap everything that might be a link. -- However, many modern websites use black text within their UI for links, so as long as it is constrained to the UI this might be acceptable, as long as it is consistent. -- Personally, I believe that keeping "links = blue" is the clearest option.

Hope that helps, sorry about the length!

I'd like to briefly present, from a "community" person POV, why red links in the user menu might not make sense.

  1. I doubt if newbies know what a red link means and if they take the hint that *they* (not anyone) can *& should* create these pages. I've quickly consulted a potential newbie and a person training power users to train newbies, and they share my doubt.
  2. As I understand it, by the time newbies learn how to use the knowledge "red = non-existent", add signatures, interpret red signatures etc., they'll also understand that links in the user menu are part of the UI, and that UI is different than content. (This, BTW, kinda leads us to a question about links in the sidebar: generic wikilinks vs. OOUI.)

[...] (This, BTW, kinda leads us to a question about links in the sidebar: generic wikilinks vs. OOUI.)

Changing those to black was tested in the Typography Refresh, but reverted due to community feedback. cf. the first two sub-points in https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Typography_refresh/Retrospective#Project_timeline

ovasileva closed this task as Resolved.EditedJun 29 2021, 9:37 AM

Thanks for the feedback everybody. Let's start with the following:

  • Remove the redlinks from the menu only
  • In all other instances the links will continue being red

Resolving. Feel free to re-open if the above doesn't make sense