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Talk Page Legibility Explorations
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The purpose of this task is to explore a series of designs that seek to address the challenges and opportunities articulated in T269950, T255560, T267444, and T269963.

We will use these designs to:

  1. Clarify what kinds of changes are in scope and out of scope
  2. Sequence and plan the phases in which we will introduce a series of discrete changes that will sum into a cohesive experience
  3. Consult with volunteers to learn how the different design approaches could impact their existing workflows

Open questions

This section will contain a list of the design questions that surfaced during the process of creating the exploratory mockups.

  • 1. How might we more clearly identify who is talking in a given conversation?
  • 2. How might we make sense of the many replies and sub-conversations for a given conversation?
  • 3. How might we make it easier to subscribe or unsubscribe from a conversation?
  • 4. How might we better communicate actions that contributors may take in tandem to or as a result of a conversation? What actions are commonly being taken? (A citation was added, a vote happened, etc)
  • 5. How might we consider this work in context of the Desktop Refresh? (should we incorporate a sticky header? this leaves a lot of questions for the mobile treatment)
  • 6. Should we be approaching this from a mobile - first design approach? (Everything to date has really been desktop first)
  • 7. How might we best represent all of the different kinds of metadata associated with a conversation? (Is some metadata taboo to give prominence to?)
  • 8. How might we help contributors to have a better sense of the overall activity on a discussion page (high level PAGE vs. conversation)?


People who are new to Wikipedia find it difficult to recognize talk pages as containing conversations and subsequently, how to make sense of and use the pages as the communication tool that they are.[i][ii][iii][iv][v]

And people who are experienced editors of Wikipedia find it difficult see the range of topics being discussed on a talk page and the extent to which people are engaging with each of these topics.[vi]

The purpose of this task is to THINK BIG and BE GENERATIVE about how we might approach this work. While we do have a few concrete interventions lined up, this task is helping us to think about the legibility of talk pages in a more holistic way.


This section contains what needs to be true in order for the task to be resolved

  • Exploratory mockups for mobile and desktop are completed
  • All of the questions that surfaced in producing the exploratory mockups are documented in the ===Open questions section above


i. "Talk pages and their current configuration proved confusing, in part due to the unusual structure. Several users asked “where are the comments?” when first encountering the Talk page, and most had never seen a Talk page before. For these participants, it took more than 4-5 minutes to understand the Talk page itself which was “disorganised” making it “difficult to take part in the discussion.” via Understanding and Improving Wikipedia Article Discussion Spaces
ii. When describing what happened after they added a new topic using the existing section=new form, usability test participant said, "It's published in that article or in that first thing." via Add topic control usability test
iii. "I'm not exactly sure where exactly the discussion is." via Add topic control usability test
iv. "I have no idea what button. I don't know what it means really to start a new discussion. Because none of this looks like a discussion." via Add topic control usability test
v. "I felt I had to scan the page a lot for what i needed, as different elements didn't really stand out."
vi. @Pelagic suggests showing metadata about each section (e.g. the number of comments, the number of participants, when the conversation (read: section) was started, when the conversations was last updated, etc.) | source

Event Timeline

hey @iamjessklein – I'm moving this to the Editing-team (Tracking) board considering Kieran, someone external to the Editing Team, will be working on this task.

Of course, please comment if you see the above differently.

iamjessklein added a subscriber: Pelagic.
iamjessklein added a subscriber: KieranMcCann.

@KieranMcCann - I've updated the ticket description
@ppelberg - I would like to have this live as a child under T286068 as this directly relates to the work. We should consider the designer as part of our team.

LZaman changed the task status from Open to In Progress.Sep 16 2021, 6:23 PM

I've added a few questions to the task description that have already surfaced as part of the design exploration process.

@KieranMcCann - Please add any others that come to mind as we do this work.

On Friday, 29 October, @iamjessklein met to go over the sketches she and @KieranMcCann have been working on.

Below are the next steps Jess and I identified at the end of that conversation...

Next steps

  • @iamjessklein to explore where within/in relation to Topic Containers the affordances for subscribing to discussions, editing discussions (read: section [ edit ] links), and potentially linking to discussions (T273341) will exist.
  • @iamjessklein to explore how "evolved" versions of the [ reply ] affordance could look within talk pages as they are currently shown. Said another way: what do talk pages look like when the way comments, signatures, etc. continue to appear as they currently do and the [ reply ] affordance is changed so that people can notice it more easily.
  • @iamjessklein to explore how talk pages could look if/when: A) The sticky header is introduced on talk pages and B) Topic Containers are available
  • @ppelberg to add more tactical feedback about specific approaches as comments within Figma.


  • @iamjessklein to document resolutions to ===Open questions and move to Ready for sign off once done