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Provide global user talk page (header)
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Feb 3 2015, 12:07 PM
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GlobalUserPage should allow a user to define a global user talkpage content, which would appear at the top of the talk pages in every wiki. E.g.:
This content could be stored in a user subpage, similarly to what was suggested on T72576#1010554.

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He7d3r raised the priority of this task from to Needs Triage.
He7d3r updated the task description. (Show Details)
He7d3r added a project: GlobalUserPage.
He7d3r added subscribers: He7d3r, Legoktm, ashley.

I think the GlobalUserPage extension should be limited to solely userpages, and don't plan on implementing this feature. Maybe it should be a part of the shadow namespaces RfC?

Aklapper triaged this task as Medium priority.Feb 16 2015, 12:07 PM
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Hi everyone,

The Community Tech team has considered what we can do for this wish, and we've decided that we can't build this feature.

The analysis is posted on the project page on Meta:

I'm also going to copy and paste it below for convenience, but it's going to be raw wikitext, so if you want to see a more readable version, go to the the Meta page. :)


The #8 wish on the [[2015 Community Wishlist Survey/Results|2015 Community Wishlist Survey]] is Global (cross-wiki) user talk page, a proposal which received 66 support votes. This is the Community Tech team’s analysis of that wish.

Purpose of the wish

:“As an editor who is active in many Wikimedia projects, I have to oversee a large amount of [my] own user talk pages for new messages, in spite of being only one person behind this account. I have meanwhile lost track of which wikis I have visited and occasionally edited, so I left soft redirects to my home wiki talk page on some of them. It turns out, however, that users from other wikis want to stay in their wiki and just write comments under the soft redirect, with no possibility for me to take notice unless I regularly visit all wikis for new messages (which I do not do).” -- [[User:MisterSynergy]], [[2015 Community Wishlist Survey/Talk pages#Global (cross-wiki) user talk page|original proposal]]

Managing dozens of user talk pages across many wikis is very difficult, and this is an important problem to solve. However, there’s been a significant new development since the community proposed and voted for this wish at the end of 2015.

In May 2016, the Collaboration team released [[mw:Help:Notifications/Cross-wiki|cross-wiki notifications]] on all Wikimedia wikis. This feature makes it much easier to keep track of messages and alerts across wikis.

Also, the Community Tech team is currently working on a [[Community Tech/Cross-wiki watchlist|cross-wiki watchlist]] (#4 on our 2015 Wishlist), which will also help people to keep track of talk pages across all the projects.

Given those developments, it’s not clear whether we still need a cross-wiki user talk page. Still, we ought to look into what this wish involves, and how it could work.

Components of the wish

The proposal broke the wish down to five bullet points:

  1. '''Accessible and editable on local wikis''', i.e. users do not need to leave their home wiki; workflow for other users should not change of course
  2. '''New messages are automatically tagged with the wiki they originate from''' (e.g. “This message was written on de-wiki“)
  3. '''Wikilinks need to be prefixed''', if not already done by the author of a comment
  4. '''Multi-language functionality''': all structural parts of the talk page are shown in the language of the display wiki or according to visiting user settings…
  5. '''A global user talk page replaces ''all'' local user talk pages''', which should go to archives during initial installation of a global user talk page - MisterSynergy, original proposal

With this feature, the local talk page would actually just be a mirror of the global talk page, with prefixed wikilinks based on the origin of the message.

Here’s how it works: I’m on French Wikipedia, and I go to your user talk page. What I see there is a mirror of your global talk page. I start a new thread, and post a message.

You’re on German Wikipedia, and you visit your talk page. My new thread is on the page, with a note that says “this message was posted on French WP”. The links that I added automatically have an <nowiki>[[fr:</nowiki> prefix, so you can see the page that I intended to link to.

You edit the thread and post a response, which I’ll see on French Wikipedia, with the note “this message was posted on German WP”. And so on.

What’s a message?

In order to note where each message was posted, the system needs to define what a “message” is. At first glance, this seems obvious: when I post a reply on your talk page, the text that I add is my “message”, and it can be tagged as coming from the wiki that I’m on.

Unfortunately, an edit doesn’t equal a message. An edit that I make on your talk page could be:

  • a new message
  • a correction/edit to a previous message
  • adding a signature
  • reverting vandalism
  • moving messages around on the page
  • archiving old threads

So we can’t say that each edit is a message, unless we create a specially defined chunk of text that would still be considered “my message” even if it’s moved or edited.

Another way to approximate this would be to define a “thread” as the chunk of wikitext under an H2 -- for example, ==Title of this conversation==. Threads are generally pretty likely to stay consistent over time. In that case, the global page could keep track of where the thread started, rather than each individual message. In order to do that, we’d have to create a structure for that chunk of wikitext.

Structured messaging system

To tag messages or threads with the wiki where they originated, we’ll have to create a structured messaging system, where there are discrete objects -- Message, and Thread -- that can be understood as coming from a particular source. If we know that a particular chunk of text is a message, then it should still be considered the same message even if someone else edits it.

The global talk page would then be a container, rather than a wikitext page. The container holds individual threads, and each thread is made up of individual messages. Each message would include metadata about the user who wrote it, and the wiki it was written on. Each message and each thread would have its own mini-history, accessible to view on each wiki.

There have been two projects in the past to build a structured messaging system on Wikimedia wikis -- [[mw:LiquidThreads 3.0|LiquidThreads]] and [[mw:Flow|Flow]]. Flow already has most of the structure that we’d need for this project. It doesn’t currently keep track of the wiki where a message originated, but that functionality could be added.

If we were to take on building a global cross-wiki user talk page, we would have to build it on top of the existing Flow structure. Modifying Flow to become a cross-wiki talk page would be much less work than trying to create a new structured messaging system from scratch.

During the Wishlist Survey’s discussion/endorsements phase, [[2015 Community Wishlist Survey/Talk pages#Global (cross-wiki) user talk page|we asked]] the proposal’s creator, MisterSynergy, if building this feature on top of Flow would be an acceptable solution:

::There are several elements for this proposal that require structured discussions -- separating individual discussions from the page, posting the same discussion in multiple places, tagging discussions with the wiki they originate from. This is basically Flow functionality. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:10, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

::I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a rather complicated task to solve, and I don’t expect fast results. If Flow would help to solve this, I would be happy (although “my” de-wiki community actually seems to oppose Flow, unfortunately). —MisterSynergy (talk) 07:24, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

Wishlist Survey discussions

The discussions on this proposal brought up some interesting points that should be considered here.

During the voting phase, [[User:NickK]] wrote (as [ vote #51]):

:“Oppose, this would kill independence of individual wikis. Global talk pages would fall out of the scope of local recent changes / watchlists / user contributions / what links here etc.: if a user from dewiki wants to ask a user from frwiki about their edit in enwiki, where will this talk page end up? Logically it should be on enwiki so that other enwiki users can notice it and comment on it. In addition, for users active in many wikis global talk pages are useless as long as guidelines in these wikis are different: for the very same edits in two wikis one can get a praise from one wiki and a warning from another, as what can be a norm in one wiki can breach rules in another.”

This would definitely be a knotty problem to figure out for a cross-wiki talk page. Right now, Flow is set up just to run on a single wiki, so the history and contributions are all contained within that wiki’s bounds. If we were to create a global version, we’d have to figure out where these histories would live, and how users would be able to perform moderation functions.

Also during the voting phase, [[User:YBG|YBG]] wrote (as [ vote #59]):

:Support, But maybe an alternative would to it easy to transclude talk from all wikis.

This alternative would definitely be easier than building a structured messaging system. We’re planning to offer a similar feature when we build the cross-wiki watchlist -- a secondary option feature that would show [[Community Tech/Cross-wiki watchlist#Current work, for discussion|each individual watchlist]] on the same page, instead of merging all the watchlists together into one. We want to see how that works out on cross-wiki watchlists, before we’d consider doing the same on globally transcluded talk pages.


The technical and social complexity of this wish is fairly daunting; a WMF product team has already spent several years working on a structured messaging system.

On the other side of the scale, the rollout of cross-wiki notifications has made this problem less urgent. The planned development of a cross-wiki watchlist will also help to solve the problem of keeping up with multiple user talk pages.

Weighing the costs and benefits of this project, we’ve decided that we’re not going to work on this wish. We’d risk getting stuck for a very long time, without any promise that we could deliver something the communities would approve of. Other wishes would remain unfulfilled, because we wouldn’t have the resources to work on them.

Oh, and if you have questions or ideas about this, you can write on the project talk page:

Or here on Phabricator, if you'd prefer.

DannyH reopened this task as Open.
DannyH claimed this task.

Sorry, reopening. Community Tech won't be working on this, but the ticket predated the team. Returning this to the world.

DannyH moved this task from Archive to Product backlog on the Community-Tech board.