User talk:Whatamidoing (WMF)

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Old discussions: June 2013 to May 2014

VisualEditor beta program[edit]

Hi -- I'm following up to your comment on my talk page regarding the proposal of using a watchlist notice to publicise the VisualEditor beta. Before getting into the job of drafting the wording of the message, I thought I'd sum up the background of where I think we are, how we got here, and what I think is needed to make progress.

This, I believe, is the story so far:

  • the original deployment of VisualEditor was done far too early in the development process, with the software being alpha- or pre-alpha test quality
  • this annoyed experienced editors (many of whom were clearly professional software developers) who correctly indicated, right from the start, that the software was unusable in its current state, and gave copious feedback about exactly how and why, and what might need to be done to fix it
  • the WMF then ignored them, and pushed ahead regardless -- this is not how a beta program is supposed to work
  • this was taken very badly by the community, and there was a furious row
  • the VisualEditor deployment on enwiki was rolled back

Since then:

  • I think the WMF has now learned from the experience
  • the devs have done a massive amount of work and greatly improved VisualEditor, including fixing all the awful show-stopper bugs that were identified the first time around, and it's now true beta-quality software
  • the editor community has calmed down again

I propose the following long-term plan:

  • recruit as many experienced editors as possible to the currently existing VisualEditor beta program
  • condition their expectations appropriately this time -- no claims that the software's production-ready, or that deployment is imminent
  • use their feedback to improve VisualEditor further
  • then, once the new beta test phase is going well, and it's clear that the devs, beta testers, and WMF are all communicating well:
    • start a community-led discussion of what the community's criteria would be to consider VisualEditor production-ready, and how the production-ready VisualEditor might be introduced for general use -- this discussion will go much better if there are lots of happy beta testers in the discussion, not lots of angry beta testers like last time
    • WMF to then plan the production release of the VE in a way that meets the community's wishes
    • community ratification of the above
    • VE deployment!

The first step is then recruiting beta program members. What messages should that campaign convey? I think the salient points are the following:

  • That the devs and WMF have listened to the community, and that the devs have put in a vast amount of work in response, to make the VE better (appeal to sympathy)
  • That VisualEditor is much improved, and worth a second try (appeal to curiosity and altruism)
  • That this is the opening shot in a larger plan of getting VE deployment right for enwiki, and lessons have been learned from last time: this time, the WMF not only wants beta testers feedback about the software, but also wants community feedback about when and how the community might approve the wider deployment of the VE. (implicit apology, appeal to forgiveness, appeal to reason and self-interest)

Does that seem reasonable to you?

-- The Anome (talk) 12:32, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes, The Anome, overall I agree with you, but I'm a little skeptical that it this much information can be packed into a watchlist notice. Something very short, like, "You can opt-in to VisualEditor via Beta Features" seems to be pretty typical for a watchlist notice, and I don't think that its Twitter-sized length permits very much explanation or nuance.
By the way, have you seen this draft? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:41, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
How about something like this: "We've been improving the VisualEditor, and we're looking for volunteers to test it. You can opt-in to it via Beta Features." 124 characters including the full stop. -- The Anome (talk) 20:25, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Regarding the draft RFC: I agree with User:Jdforrester (WMF) that this is the right approach, but that this is too soon to do it. Let the beta program win hearts and minds first, by convincing experienced editors that the VE is actually approaching release-readiness. -- The Anome (talk) 20:52, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
I predict a complaint about using the pronoun "we". Would a passive voice work for you, like "VisualEditor has improved, and volunteers are needed"...
Also, someone decreed last year that it's "VisualEditor", not "the VisualEditor". Because that's the sort of thing that trademark people fuss about, I assume that the legal team is the source of the decree. So it's really only 120 characters.  ;-)
I share your view of the RFC. I'd rather wait (at least) until autofilling is working for citations, and I want a bigger "installed base" of editors familiar with it before then. But I'm not really in charge of the timeline, as any community member could start a discussion at any time.
Here's another question for you, The Anome: Would it be useful to set a target goal for the number of people opted in, or perhaps the number of people saving one edit? Beta Features says that 34,610 are currently opted in. This includes a lot of people who rarely edit here at the English Wikipedia. If we set a target of having X more people opt in, then we could set the length of the watchlist notice to match (shortening or extending it as necessary, or, if the goal is far from being met, looking for another way to advertise it). Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 22:54, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
I can't easily put a number on it. For the moment, I'd concentrate on getting experienced, frequent editors involved, particularly those with a history of community participation: I'd consider the 10,000 editors who have been most active in the last 12 months to be a good example of a group to recruit from. The aim is not elitism, but to recruit the kind of people who are highly invested in Wikipedia's success, will kick the tires vigorously, and generate useful comments and suggestions. Because of Wikipedia's demographic, it's quite likely a lot of them will be developers. Canvassing at WikiProjects for things like programming and computer science might also help get more developers with beta testing experience on board.

Testing on naive users for usability studies is a good idea, but it's been tried already, with dismal results apparently showing the VE actually discouraged editing in new users -- not surprising considering the state of the software at that time. Naive-user usability testing should only be done again once all the major bugs have been ironed out with the help of experienced users.

Oh, and on the matter of the notice, I think the passive wording "VisualEditor has improved" is exactly the sort of statement that would annoy people. The sentiment should be an active but modest message from named parties (like the devs!) saying "we think we've improved it, we'd like to know if you agree", not an ex cathedra statement of highly contestable fact from an unidentified entity that could easily be taken as arrogant or dismissive by readers with unpleasant memories of previous messaging by the WMF on the subject. It's always better to under-claim and over-deliver, rather than the reverse. Try this:
"An appeal from the developers: we've been improving VisualEditor, and we're looking for volunteers to test it. You can opt-in to it via Beta Features"

(pedantry corner: 158 characters. all from the 7-bit ASCII set, so it still fits, bit-packed, into the 140 bytes available within an SMS: see GSM 03.38)

This is old-school PR stuff: appeals should always come from an identifiable source, see for example, the wording "An appeal from Jimbo Wales" that works so well for fundraising.
Oh, and by the way, the issue of branding — "VisualEditor" vs. "the Visual Editor" or whatever — that's exactly the kind of marketing-led thing that needs to be stopped! You have no idea how crazy this sort of thing sounds to outsiders: please make it work properly first, before you decide how to manage the "brand messaging". -- The Anome (talk) 23:10, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe that most people will be upset with following directions from the legal team, especially since maintaining some consistency between language editions helps editors who are not native English speakers.
I like your "appeal from the developers" idea. In my check of recent watchlist notices, all but one used passive voice, but I think that your marketing sense is better than the previous posters there.
Formal testing on naïve users is already being done; you can see a brief report on the latest round at mw:VisualEditor/Design/User testing. In addition, VisualEditor is being used, with apparent success, by thousands of IPs and newly registered users each day at other Wikipedias. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:01, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
Hi -- sorry about the tetchy tone of my previous comment. Subject to the approval of the developers themselves (since we can't speak for them without their permission) I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be WP:BOLD and put it up. Can you check with the dev group that they're fine with this? -- The Anome (talk) 18:01, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
I've asked, but I don't know if I'll get a reply this afternoon. It will need a link to Beta Features. Anything else? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:35, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Not really -- did you get a reply from the dev team? More beta testers for the VE has to be good for absolutely everyone. -- The Anome (talk) 19:13, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
Sorry; it slipped my mind with the endless set of planning meetings that are being inflicted upon us right now. Yes, I asked James F, and he's basically fine with making this kind of request in the name of the devs. I wonder if User:Risker's idea about a list of suggested things to test would be useful here. We could link to it more or less like this: ...we're looking for volunteers to test it. You can opt-in to it via Beta Features. What do you think? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 19:48, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
@The Anome:
Testing on naive users for usability studies is a good idea, but it's been tried already, with dismal results apparently showing the VE actually discouraged editing in new users -- not surprising considering the state of the software at that time.
Hey, I'd be interested to read up on this testing that was done that had "dismal results". All the testing we've done has been quite the opposite, even in the early days with a few missing features, usability flaws and irritating bugs… Did we miss an investigation that someone did?
Naive-user usability testing should only be done again once all the major bugs have been ironed out with the help of experienced users.
We've been doing sporadic user testing with VisualEditor for a while, and we've started regularly posting the outcomes of the testing we've done.
Jdforrester (WMF) (talk) 20:31, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
I assumed that The Anome was talking about the June 2013 A/B test that had so many problems (like not working when they first tried to turn it on). Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 00:05, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm going to start a new section down here to respond to Whatamidoing (WMF)'s post of 19:48 on 12 June. I'd suggested on the wikimedia-L mailing list that we create an in-house user test to ask people to try certain basic editing tasks that would allow us to see whether it is able to handle the kind of editing a new or inexperienced editor is most likely to perform. I've drafted up a "test instructions page here and a standardized test sandbox here - feedback very welcome. I'm thinking that if we can get half a dozen people together to sort of organize and manage the user test, and collate the results, it shouldn't be too hard to get at least 10 people to try each test group and give some feedback. If we're really lucky - even more. (There's an irony here - when creating the test sandbox, I encountered an error that's been reported on the VE feedback page.) The Anome, what do you think of this idea? Risker (talk) 04:47, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
Forgot to ping Template:UPine who is also interested in this. Risker (talk) 06:26, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
Risker, it might be good to add a link to Beta Features and instructions for enabling it, just in case anyone who is interested doesn't know how.
Why did you add strike out as a test item? That really shouldn't be used in the mainspace.
The item "Add a "piped" link to another article" is probably going to confuse some people. Something like, "choose an existing word or phrase in the article, and make it link to a different article, so that you'll get the result [[Example|Once upon a time]].
The item "Remove a link to another article" is a little ambiguous: I expect a couple of people to wonder whether you mean delete the link and word vs leaving the word, but remove the link. I assume that what you mean is that we're starting with [[Example]] and want to end up with Example.
Finally, a link to the user guide would probably be a good idea. The one on the English Wikipedia might be a little better written, but it's probably not quite as up to date as the one on Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 18:14, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
Risker, The Anome, where do we stand on this project? Is there anything I can do to help? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 15:28, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

@The Anome:: I've just come to this talk page on another issue, but this thread caught my eye. I'm interested that you say "including fixing all the awful show-stopper bugs that were identified first time round". No, my show is pretty much stopped by (at least) one bug I reported a year ago: inability to shrink or move the dialog box to see what's behind it, while entering stub templates or categories. I've responded to the watchlist message by having a shot at using VE these last few days (see umpteen messages on the Feedback page) but am going to give up soon: none of my concerns get taken seriously, as the priorities are tables, Chinese, galleries, and newbie editors, not my kind of everyday Wikignoming. PamD 07:55, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Re:Hackey solution[edit]

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to evaluate it as I am currently juggling my dads new job's paperwork, the family finances, and the recent discovery that there is literally a lethal level of mold in my room's two closets and the bathroom. I promise when i get a moment I'll look into your suggestion fully and unconditionally, but for now my attention is understandably needed in other places. TomStar81 (Talk) 00:42, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

That sounds like enough work for two or three people. Don't worry; Wikipedia will be here when you get back. Good luck with all that work! Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 03:23, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

A barnstar for you![edit]

Vitruvian Barnstar Hires.png The Technical Barnstar

VisualEditor is supreme!

Codename Lisa (talk) 05:13, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Feedback sent, has it been seen?[edit]

I appreciate that you are reaching out and asking for ideas about referencing. (Wikipedia:Village_pump_(technical)#Looking_ahead). However, I spent some time putting together what I immodestly think are good ideas, posted on 21 June and six days later, not only do not have any comments, but not even an acknowledgement that they have been seen. I am anxious to work with you on this, as I think it is one of the more important initiatives I've seen ever.--S Philbrick(Talk) 16:12, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

I appreciate your effort to post everything there, because that's the place that the devs are most likely to see the comments. I agree with you that this is one of the most important intiatives. Unfortunately, I've spent little time over at MediaWiki myself this week beyond a quick glance (it looks like I've got four more bug reports left between me and having time for a proper visit to MW). What's important, though, is for James F and the devs working on citations to see it, and I will personally make sure that James has seen your messages. I know the answers to a couple of your questions (e.g., ISBN databases are external, and part of the problem is the existence of that final "s" in "databases") and will post them there when I can, which will probably be over the weekend or on Monday. I apologize for the delay. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 22:49, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks--S Philbrick(Talk) 14:25, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Finally joining the 20th century. Still working on the 21st.[edit]

Hey WAID, I'm automating some of my copyediting advice. I asked for tech advice in February at VPT, and got a code snippet that I've tweaked at User:Dank/wishywashy.js. If you add that to your .js file, then every occurrence of wishy or washy on WP will appear in bold for you ... and if you hover over the bolded word, you'll get some helpful style and usage advice. Since those functions are built into mediawiki, I'm hoping they'll execute faster than some of the other suggestions for long lists ... and I've got a very long list of customized usage advice. Trouble is, I need as much of regex (or the lua version of regex) as the devs can give me ... those functions don't even allow me to search for spaces (so I can't search for multiple words). If I need a bugzilla request to handle this, I'd really prefer to find someone the devs already know to submit it for me ... I'll probably get a faster answer that way. Are you game? - Dank (push to talk) 19:37, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi Dank!
(A) Is that script (or a cut-down version of it) something I could use to highlight "WMF" whenever it appears on a talk page? (If you're thinking that I'd use this to notice whenever my boss had posted something, then of course I'll have to publicly deny any such accusation.  :-)
Yes, but you didn't hear it from me.
(B) I'd be happy to file any bug report or enhancement request for you. Just post what you want it to say here. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:36, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
To the devs and volunteer coders: please see this snippet that uses mediawiki functions. If you add that to your .js file on en.wp, then every occurrence of wishy or washy will appear in bold for you ... and if you hover over the bolded word, you'll get some helpful advice. People would like for me to automate some of my copyediting advice using this script, but highlightText, as coded in Mediawiki, won't even let me search for a two-word phrase. Ideally, I'd like to have arguments that are regex searches (or the lua equivalent), but at a minimum, I need to search for letters, numbers, spaces and punctuation, if I'm going to be using highlightText. (If your solution allows something like regex, I only need highlighting for the initial phrase that appears before any special regex functions.) - Dank (push to talk) 22:03, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
It's now bug 67784 If there's anything else that should be added, then I can post comments for you whenever you want. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 01:00, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Fantastic. - Dank (push to talk) 01:09, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
It's a little tough to come up with single-word scripts that are useful, but I'm giving it a shot at User:Dank/Scripts. The first one helps WP:TROP find words that copyeditors usually flag that I found in their recent A-class articles and FACs (and of course, they can customize the script). I'm working now on flagging words that aren't problems, but that I've seen in the vicinity of other problems. I don't know if this is useful info for the devs ... they might want to see that I'm working on something non-trivial :) - Dank (push to talk) 19:17, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
You might try "patients" as a one-word sometimes-problematic word, since WP:MEDMOS prefers "people" most of the time. Quite a bit at WP:WTW might work for a proof of concept. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 19:42, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I did WTW in regex at User:Dank/Highlighter/list, but I avoided the words and phrases that weren't necessarily a problem (but if the devs can give me regex, I'm willing to tackle the whole page, if there's demand for that). If I also limit it to one-word searches, I probably don't have enough right now to interest anyone. On "patients", I'm anticipating that every wikiproject will present its own challenges and require some attention, so I'm doing one at a time. I'm thinking I'll hit ROADS after TROP, because that and my home project (Milhist) will cover all the projects with an active A-class review. MED would be a good next step after that. In the meantime ... anyone can steal the script and pencil in "patients". - Dank (push to talk) 20:23, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Actually ... now you've got me thinking. Per Cunningham's Law, it might make sense to briefly sketch what I'm trying to do here for anyone or any wikiproject that's interested in "rolling their own" until I have time to research what they're saying. The thing is ... there are so many conflicting constraints here that doing it right is harder than it looks. But I'm willing to give it a shot ... add whatever you'd like for the popup text at User:Dank/rollyourown, I've added "patients" to the list. - Dank (push to talk) 21:22, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Would it make sense to talk to WPMED about this? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 00:50, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
No objection, I just don't have much time to be involved myself until I'm done with WP:Trop and WP:Milhist. But I'm available to answer basic questions, tweak software, etc. - Dank (push to talk) 01:16, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

VE User Guide tweaks needed[edit]

In the user guide at MediaWiki, I added a level 3 heading, “Editing images”; and a new level 4 heading, “Using the “Basic" citation”. I didn't wrap these in translation tags because I don't know how translation numbers are assigned, and if there are other parts to the system besides HTML tags and numbering.

There are four problematical images I've found, going through sections 1 to 6 plus the beginning of section 7:

  • At T:218, the “Cite book” screenshot (File:VisualEditor - Editing references - Cite book required fields.png ) is wrong - the image in the User Guide shows the EDITING of an existing citation. The image should be of ADDING a new citation.
  • At T:222, the image has been overtaken by events - it should be of the “Insert citation” button, not of the “Apply changes” button.
  • At T:75, the image is outdated. The New template dialog has changed (File:VisualEditor - Template editing 4.png).
  • At T:77, the image (File:VisualEditor - Template editing 1.png) should be replaced. It would be better to be of the entire infobox, not the upper two-thirds, or, if that is too much to put into the image, it should be of the bottom two-thirds of the infobox (of the article Helmand River). (A new screenshot is needed anyway because the template edit icon is now near the bottom of the template, not the top.)


-- John Broughton (♫♫) 03:29, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the note, John Broughton.
I'll get the images (tomorrow?). For the first, do you want a completely empty dialog box? For the last, I was thinking about finding a shorter infobox. Dorothea Dix and Emily Blackwell's are both moderately short, but I was kind of hoping to find something even shorter. (Further searching...) How about Josephine Brown or Frances Harper? Do you think that including an image is important?
Translation numbers ("T:123") are assigned automagically when the page is officially sent to translators. The plain tags (<translate>...</translate>) you can add if you feel like it, but don't even try to add the numbers; that's done by script. Also, adding the translate tags is why section editing doesn't work. Right now, section editing for the two new section headings [1] and [2] work, if you want to use them to "only" edit the last half of the page at once. When they're marked for translation, the section editing will break. So my recommendation is to not do that for a while. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 01:47, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
John, I've removed #2 and updated the other three. I've also marked some of the auto-translated labels. (The "int:long-messy-string" things do auto-translation; the "<tvar|mess>" stuff gets the auto-translating stuff out of the translators' way.)
There are still more to go, but I think those were the highest priority. If you decide that you don't like any of the images, then just tell me what you want. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:04, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll take a look at the new screenshots, and continue working on the User Guide. I'm not that concerned about finding ideal screenshots - I just want ones that are current/accurate.
On that topic, you said:

any image containing a "<" in the upper left corner or an "X" in the upper right corner is out of date

By my count, that means at least five more of the existing images in the User Guide are not current. I'm really reluctant to work around such problems; I'd rather know exactly what screenshot the reader of the Guide will be looking at, as I revise the text. Any idea when you'll be able to finish updating all the screenshots now in the Guide? -- John Broughton (♫♫) 01:12, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Hi John, I think it was seven or eight, actually, but I believe they're all done now.
Note that I hid the stuff about subst:ing templates (and didn't update the screenshots): it's not working for me. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:27, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Okay, I'm finished, I think. Here are what I see as open issues:
  • The discussion of the Insert menu includes the following:

    The "<visualeditor-mwhieroinspector-title>" icon (an ankh symbol - ☥) allows you to enter the hieroglyphics inserter. (See below.)

    There are two problems here: the name of the icon is NOT displaying correctly, and there is no information below, in the User Guide, so “(See below.)” is wrong.
  • File:VisualEditor - editing existing mathematical formula.png is out of date.
  • There is nothing in the User Guide for one of the items on the Page settings menu, “Advanced settings” -- John Broughton (♫♫) 16:58, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd noticed the hieroglyphics problem; I need to talk to James F about it. I'll update the math image. I don't know what's up with Advanced settings. I'll have a look later this week.
Finally, Face-smile.svg Thank you, at least a hundred times. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 22:46, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Accidental revert[edit]

I think that's the second time I've done that to you and I apologize. It was entirely an accident. --NeilN talk to me 06:49, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

It's okay, really: if you and I make mistakes on only 1% of our edits, then we'll have made literally hundreds of mistakes over the years. Thanks for noticing and fixing it. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 06:54, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Unsubscribing/deleting past Virtual Editor "newsletters" on one's talk page?[edit]

Perhaps I was just hiding behind the barn door on this one, but how does one unsubscribe from the Virtual Editor messages on one's Talk page and delete past Virtual Editor "newsletters" on one's talk page? loupgarous (talk) 09:53, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi loupgarous,
You remove the old ones just like you would blank any section on any page. The WP:Talk page guidelines allow editors to remove almost any talk page message from their own talk pages.
To stop future deliveries, then remove your name from the list at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Newsletter. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 22:01, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Dropping the mobile...[edit]

Thanks for reminding me of the bug number about accidental thanks. It's very depressing to see comments like "a load of fuss about a non-issue.". I do quite a lot of watch-list checking on my phone in the small hours while mildly insomniac, so liable to nod off and drop my index finger onto the green button, or half-drop the phone and hit it that way. But it's a non-issue. Same sort of reaction as I'm used to in my comments on VE dialogue box. Ah well. PamD 07:47, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

I've just raised this at Wikipedia_talk:Notifications/Thanks#Thanks_and_mobile_view, having found that page for the first time! PamD 08:23, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Your Thanks log is here. It might be interesting for you to look it over and guess how often this has happened to you.
I'd add that even if it only almost happens, that is stressful. Imagine if your bank's website had a zero-confirmation "donate $5 from your checking account to our choice of charities" button. Even if you only almost clicked it by accident, its existence would be needlessly stressful. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 16:51, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Re: Odd Thing From Visual Editor[edit]

I didn't add the link, if that's what's causing the problem, I just tried to tidy the English in the opening paragraph. Sorry if that's not much help. Red Fiona (talk) 23:37, 20 August 2014 (UTC)