This work is in discussion and not currently prioritized by any WMF team.
A community consultation will be started if plans are made to move this work forward.
As a WMF Product Manager, I want to reduce our unnecessary maintenance burden, because I want teams to be able to focus on high-impact work and community needs.
WMF intended for Flow (a.k.a [[ https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:StructuredDiscussions | StructuredDiscussions ]]) to be the successor to plain wikitext talk pages. Product envisioned that Flow would also accommodate flexible workflows (hence the name Flow) related to managing edits to wiki pages.
Full rollout of Flow to WMF wikis did not succeed. WMF [[ https://email@example.com/message/FLFE77BXJBKDSJHP6BCYUMQOR5FBWHZK/ | paused development in 2015 ]]. A few communities still use Flow. WMF also instituted a freeze in new deployments of Flow several years ago.
In 2019, WMF organized the [[ https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_consultation_2019 | talk pages consultation ]] to look at the future of talk pages. The consultation yielded the [[ https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk_pages_project?tableofcontents=0 | Talk pages project ]]. That project produced the [[ https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:DiscussionTools | DiscussionTools ]] extension.
Community members have initiated discussions to [[ https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Topic:Wvqji3vfu2j1na7g | replace Flow pages with DiscussionTools on https://www.mediawiki.org/ ]] and at [[ https://translatewiki.net/wiki/Thread:Support/Replacing_the_discussion_system | translatewiki.net ]].
Maintaining Flow is a drain on WMF resources:
- It is a large and complex codebase, with approximately [[https://sonarcloud.io/code?id=mediawiki-extensions-Flow|36,000 lines of code]].
- The code is complicated to reason about and difficult to work with. Some of the original authors are no longer at WMF.
- Subtle bugs relating to database replication issues periodically cause user talk pages to become broken (see e.g. T308907). Someone from Growth then has to run a maintenance script to fix the problem. Fixing the underlying issue is not trivial.
- Flow accounts for [[https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query/Di8rR9_JVJBf/#R|24 issues on the production error workboard]]. There have been 100 production error tasks in total.
- There are ~1200 tasks on the [[https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/project/board/657/|Flow workboard]].
- Other teams are blocked on overdue maintenance needed in Flow: Content Transformers needs stored Flow HTML to be updated to the newest Parsoid version.
- Flow uses patterns and libraries not found elsewhere in MediaWiki, increasing maintenance cost. For example, it uses Pimple rather than MediaWikiServices for dependency injection, and it uses lightncandy for its templates, unlike any other extension. T150350