Wikipedia talk:Flow

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New indentation & threading model[edit]

A new indentation & threading model has been deployed in today's update. Here's a detailed explanation about this from DannyH, including a comparison with the wikitext indentation habits and traditions (and how confusing those "rules" are for almost all newcomers, especially in large threads), and links to past-discussions, phabricator, and some related ideas.

The short-version (an excerpt) is:

In this new version: If you're replying to the most recent post, then your reply just lines up under the previous message. A two-person back and forth conversation just looks flat, and the visual separation is noted with the user name and timestamp.

If you're specifically replying to a previous post, then your reply creates an indented tangent. If everybody responding on that tangent replies to the last message in that subthread, then it'll stay at the same indentation level. But if someone replies to an older message within the subthread, then that creates a third indentation level. It's set to a maximum of 8 possible indentation levels, and we just stop it there because there's a point where you can't fit a lot of text in each line.

The big idea of the new system is that the indentation should actually mean something. You should be able to tell the difference between a simple conversation and a complicated conversation at a glance, and using indented tangents helps you to spot the places in a conversation where there's a disagreement or a deeper level of detail.

A few editors have said they like it, but it wasn't clear to them how it was meant to work, until they'd read this explanation. Please discuss it here and in the topic linked above, and let the team know what suggestions/requests/concerns/ideas you have. Thank you! Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 23:32, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Well, you have said it yourself: "A few editors have said they like it, but it wasn't clear to them how it was meant to work, until they'd read this explanation.". Somehow, we do not seem to get that many questions how to read a discussion using the current system. Therefore, if you chose to describe the current system by claiming "how confusing those "rules" are for almost all newcomers", the new system is even worse.
Of course, in reality the claim that the current system is confusing is just false. Also, large and complex threads will be somewhat confusing using any possible system - that's essentially what "large and complex" means. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 17:57, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
The new threading was not confusing to newcomers, it was confusing to veterans. Diego (talk) 10:02, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
If I did understand it correctly, the new system has only been tried out with "veterans" and they found it confusing, not being able to guess (or reason out) what is supposed to end up where. I can see no reason why newbies would find it any less confusing. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 18:26, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Have you tried it out? It's been out on various Wikipedias for the last couple weeks, and so far the conversations that I've read seem sensible and productive. When you click on a reply link or in an entry field, it opens to show you where your message will be posted.
I don't think the actual feature is confusing. The thing that Nick was referring to was that the feature changed, and it's a rather subtle change, so the people who were used to Flow working in one way were surprised to see it acting in a different way. But I've been looking out for examples where a Flow conversation is unclear because the new indentation system is ruining something. I haven't found any yet, but if you do, I'd like to see them. -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
"Have you tried it out?" - if the whole point of this new system is suitability for newbies, then we should ask "Is it intuitive enough for newbies?", right? In that case I am no longer a good "Guinea pig". I have read the description.
"It's been out on various Wikipedias for the last couple weeks, and so far the conversations that I've read seem sensible and productive." - that's a pretty low bar, isn't it? Yes, it is better than just positioning posts at random. But you are supposed to show that it is better than the current system.
"When you click on a reply link or in an entry field, it opens to show you where your message will be posted." - yes, one can learn how it works. But then, one can learn to use wikitext as well. For that matter, many newbies have managed to write something in plain text - and we do find out what is going on. It is not that easy to make something easier to use than that.
"The thing that Nick was referring to was that the feature changed, and it's a rather subtle change, so the people who were used to Flow working in one way were surprised to see it acting in a different way." - it is not just that. They knew what has changed and were trying to reason out how the new system works (even after the description was published - look at the series of posts ending with [1]). And there were many guesses. Too many. That's a sign of a non-intuitive system. The proposer has effectively admitted that much ([2] - "It's sad that people find it confusing at first, at least until someone explains them how the layout is working.").
The problem is that it is "your invention". There are web sites that use something like the current system for comments. There are web sites that use "flat" system with quotes (most forums). No one uses your system. Will anyone who wouldn't have learned wikitext want to learn it? I doubt it. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 12:18, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
There's an updated proposal (originated by Hhhippo, and refined by me in this post) that would keep the same ordering and dependencies between posts that other threading system have, while retaining a mostly flat structure.
I think I've read that they tried the new threading system on unexperienced users and they didn't mind the change, though I can't find the discussion were I saw it so I can't confirm it. It would be an improvement for them in that case, as with Flow it's impossible to create badly threaded replies the way it is with wikitext. Diego (talk) 22:02, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
"There's an updated proposal (originated by Hhhippo, and refined by me in [this post]) that would keep the same ordering and dependencies between posts that other threading system have, while retaining a mostly flat structure." - unfortunately, the only thing that was clear to me was that you have to use different test cases... "A", "B", "C"... Who is supposed to be replying to what? Use longer names - "A1-answering-to-B1", or something...
"I think I've read that they tried the new threading system on unexperienced users and they didn't mind the change, though I can't find the discussion were I saw it so I can't confirm it." - yes, it is not very useful, unless one can see what actually happened. Too many things can go wrong.
"It would be an improvement for them in that case, as with Flow it's impossible to create badly threaded replies the way it is with wikitext." - actually, there is nothing wrong with "badly threaded replies" of the kind that newbies use. Nothing whatsoever. That's why such "improvement" tends to be mostly imaginary...
And anyway, it was a change of "Flow", not of wikitext. How did "New indentation & threading model" (or "Extra new indentation & threading model" you have mentioned here) compare with "Old indentation & threading model" in that same "Flow"? That's a more interesting question. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 23:06, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
Flow is a discussion system, and the most important goal is that the people who use it have interesting and productive conversations. It doesn't need to be judged based on how well it maps to another system's rules; it just needs to be good at what it does.
Martynas, you seem to be upset about this change to the feature, and I'm not sure why. Have you found it difficult to use? -- DannyH (WMF) (talk) 03:18, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
So it won't be a replacement of the talk page? Because talk pages are much, much more then just conversation pages. Conversations are the least necessary workflow, they may be nice, but not that essential for building an encyclopaedia. If this dumbed down model of a forum impersonation could go anywhere in its current state, it's at most besides real talk pages in the article name space, and probably as well most user name spaces (I for example don't want such stuff anywhere near my talk page). Thje most important workflow for talk pages is the collaborative article improvement, where sources, layouts, small votes/consensus builds are made.
The current state of Flow lets it look like some facebookisation spree (togeter with MV, Gather, UserProfile and other useles stuff) something that seems to have traction in SF, but not the communities. There is even an explicit rule against the facebookisation of the wikiverse, the WMF has to stick by the rules, they are not the bosses, just trustees.
Talk pages should behave just like any other pages in the wikiverse, any deviation would introduce confusion. They should be fully accessible via wikitext/wikisytax editors, or they are broken.
Flow forum impersonations may be a nice add-on on talk pages, but will hopefully never ever replace them. ♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 10:49, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
"It doesn't need to be judged based on how well it maps to another system's rules; it just needs to be good at what it does." - um, where in this discussion did I claim otherwise? On the contrary, I see that what has been proposed and implemented here is not "Flow" as such, but "New indentation & threading model", and I see that it is often compared with wikitext ("including a comparison with the wikitext indentation habits and traditions (and how confusing those "rules" are for almost all newcomers, especially in large threads)" etc.), instead of "Old indentation & threading model", as implemented in previous versions of "Flow". But it is that "Old indentation & threading model" that was replaced, and I wonder what is supposed to be better about the "New" one, compared with this "Old" one. I do see one obvious disadvantage of the "New model" (it is not familiar to "veterans" and it is not familiar to "newbies"). I think I see another, less obvious, disadvantage (it was not intuitive enough for participants in the discussion to find out what it actually is, thus it might be somewhat more confusing than the "Old model"). And I can see many vague claims that hint about presence of advantages ("I love it!" and the like). But I do not see any actual advantages written down, black on white. And I am asking what they are.
"Martynas, you seem to be upset about this change to the feature..." - I do?
Oh, and, since I ended up unsure what exactly did you respond to with "It doesn't need to be judged based on how well it maps to another system's rules; it just needs to be good at what it does.", even if I know what "post" you have replied to... Are there any plans to encourage (or discourage) quoting the posts being replied to? --Martynas Patasius (talk) 21:40, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Here I've talked a little about the relative advantages and disadvantages of the new Flow indentation vs the old talk page convention (it's not really part of mediawiki, just a style guideline). In summary, the new threading model doesn't create as many deep indentation levels, and the conversation can run much longer without requiring indentation tricks; with the new model I wouldn't have needed the above {{outdent}} template to return the conversation to a sane left margin.

In fact, the threading model is independent of the software platform, and could be perfectly used on wikitext as well. I have posted here an example of this very conversation under the current Flow threading model, and here with the proposed refinement (they only differ in the order of the last three posts). Can you see how the model may be simpler to understand to a person reading Talk pages for the first time? Diego (talk) 09:41, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

P.S. Moreover, suppose now DannyH wants to make a direct reply to your latest post above (21:40, 20 April 2015). What is the expected position where he should place it? In both versions of the new model there's a definite position where such reply should be placed, and the conversation can grow almost indefinitely following a consistent set of rules; but in the current wikitext model, it's not clear how one should reply directly to a nested post and keep the conversation growing after someone uses an {{outdent}}. Diego (talk) 11:23, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Thank you, that is exactly the explanation I was asking for.
And it's certainly a good idea to use the same real discussion to illustrate the difference between the systems. Of course, as Lithuanian saying goes, "appetite appears while eating" - if only we had a more complex example (some comment section from a big RFC, or something like that - for example, it would be interesting to compare how easy it is to spot posts that are not replies to other posts)... And (since remaking indentation style of such discussion by hand looks too hard) if only there was a way to change indentation style automatically...
Still, I am not sure I would have guessed what that horizontal line means that soon (perhaps in five minutes), if I was not a participant of the discussion...
Speaking of a correct position of a reply to a post followed by "outdent"... I guess that the proper way would be to write as if it was a "reply to the whole discussion" and start it with something like "(in reply to [something that identifies the post])". But then, an easy way to indicate the post being replied to would be useful in both wikitext and Flow, using any indentation model (after all, in all those cases discussions might grow just too much to find such posts easily). That is one reason why I have asked if there are any plans to encourage quoting: it would probably be most natural to imitate something used in forums (for example, [3] has enough posts quoting other posts - and one only needs a single click to discover, which ones). --Martynas Patasius (talk) 20:21, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I do want to build in quoting, although I'm not sure when. We've recently added one feature that's related to quoting/replies -- a new "mentions" icon in the Flow entry fields, which helps people to directly address people who are further up in the conversation, while still continuing the chronological flow of discussion. There's an autocomplete for people who have already posted in the discussion, to make that easier. It's not quite the same thing as quoting, but it's in the same area. DannyH (WMF) (talk) 22:55, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Still, I am not sure I would have guessed what that horizontal line means that soon (perhaps in five minutes), if I was not a participant of the discussion... Same thing could be said of the outdent line, or placing two posts one below the other at the same indentation level, which have particular meanings in the current convention that are not obvious. Any system will have edge cases which need to be explained - the test for knowing if a system is intuitive is whether you need to explain the simple, most common case before it can be understood. Diego (talk) 23:16, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Talk:Phineas Gage[edit]

If you want an example of how complicated talk pages can become, take a look into the Total Perspective Vortex at Talk:Phineas Gage. ;-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by SageGreenRider (talkcontribs) 02:30, 9 April 2015‎ (UTC)

Yup, the various types of peer reviews are one of the more convoluted (non-controversial discussion) workflows on standard talkpages. Definitely a challenge. :-) Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 03:21, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
An excellent example of how Talk pages are powerful workplaces rather than the "chat board" model Flow is fundamentally based upon. Flow keeps trying to chase after specific workflows, but it keeps missing our fundamental workflow. Our fundamental workflow is that we create and modify workflows on the fly. A core aspect of that is that our work pages have all of the power and flexibility of article pages, our work pages are literally page-move interchangeable with article pages. That's something that Flow is unable to replicate, unless the Flow team is planning on taking Flow to the point of becoming our new and improved article pages. Alsee (talk) 20:49, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Alsee, just hypothetically, if the Foundation were pursuing a long-term agenda of throwing out wiki markup entirely, what would do they do to pursue that agenda? I suggest they'd naturally use a three-pronged attack:
  • Develop alternative "structured data" tech; stuff without all that unseemly free choice of expression.
  • Introduce, by force if necessary, a semi-WYSIWYG editor to hide wiki markup from new contributors, so they won't learn it and thus won't come to value it and complain when it's taken away from them.
  • Gradually —so as not to suddenly deprive yourself of your unpaid labor force— drive away the established contributors who approve of wiki markup. Preferably by exhausting and demoralizing them, rather than enraging them, so they won't have enough energy left to interfere with your plans.
Of course the campaign would founder at numerous points and eventually come to grief (with or without permanently crippling the sisiterhood in the process) because it's based on the false premise that wiki markup isn't intrinsically better than what you'd be replacing it with; but, as a set of predictions if the Foundation were being directed by such a plan... well. --Pi zero (talk) 23:13, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero:I think the Foundation's trying to maximize utility for new users--after all, a lot of the people who would have joined an encyclopedia anyone can edit have already done so--but I'm not sure that they're considering the older editors. This simplification for the new users doesn't have to be malicious, just not thought out as well as it could be. I mean, I have VisualEditor turned off and would gladly disable the media viewer thingy when I click on a photo; you and to a lesser extent I are not the people these are oriented towards. I think that the main problem is that you need both new and old editors to build a wiki, and a new talk page form will turn off older editors and screw things up (especially templating user talk pages and RfA voting.) Origamite 23:48, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
@Origamite: On the point about older editors — Established editors are conspicuously absent from the call to action, and then there's Jan-bart's statement that anyone who doesn't like what they're doing should leave. It seems less like they didn't think it through carefully enough, and more like they did think it through and decided the established editors should be ignored (so it's not unconsidered, just unwise). I agree it's not likely to be malicious, but I'm not sure that distinction actually matters in this context.
As for effects, the idea of VE making things easier for new editors presupposes (at best) a false dichotomy between VE and the status quo ante. I've watched software come and go for some decades now, and one thing that's predictable is that that the things of major long-term importance aren't WYSIWYG. It would be entirely possible to develop (with a significant effort, which VE also requires) a UI that works cleanly on mobile devices, fosters structured editing, and is based on exposing the raw wiki markup; but the politics of such things get polarized between changing everything and changing nothing, so an approach that is neither WYSYWIG nor a text box has no well-defined supporting faction. What I see as really unfortunate about VE is that it interferes with the learning path by which new editors become experienced ones with competence in wiki markup. --Pi zero (talk) 02:44, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Back on topic, once Flow is actually a completed product (it's not), as I see it, most of Alsee's complaints would be satisfied by adding a "wikiview" button to Flow pages that would generate a wikitext version usable by bots and scripts and the like. 99.9% of our talk page functions will work problem-free with Flow simply by introducing sub-sections. But there are so many probably with using a wikimodel for discussions, that something's gotta give. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 12:45, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Inherently unstable solutions have gotten very trendy of late; the trend was visible at least a couple of decades ago, but it's gotten progressively more pronounced. Closer to home, software projects hereabouts have tended strongly towards a philosophy of provide something that breaks important stuff now, and reassure people that eventually the functionality they've lost will be restored by a more complicated route. For example, take an inherently stable system in which wiki markup is the underlying reality and everything is derived from it by interpretation, and replace it with a system where the underlying reality is something inflexible and humanly unreadable and promise that eventually you'll create a mountain of software that will simulate wiki markup. Except eventually will never come, because, think about it, the simulation would have to be developed and then constantly maintained, and it's not plausible the devs would be willing or able to do so after developing, and in addition to maintaining, the software used to eliminate the underlying wiki markup in the first place. There is no substitute for the inherent stability of having wiki markup actually be the underlying reality. (I don't claim wiki markup couldn't in principle be improved, btw, but that's an entirely separate issue; and trying to do so would be like trying to improve the US Constitution by holding a Constitutional Convention, which would be more likely to result in degradation than improvement.) --Pi zero (talk) 14:01, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero:I've mentioned at this board before about improving transclusion to the point that each topic can be its own page all transcluded onto a talk page, which would bring many of Flow's benefits, such as deleting one post without deleting 10 revisions and not breaking links when archiving, etc. If keeping wikimarkup, I see this as a way of doing it. The problem with the wikimarkup is that it gives computers no possible way of knowing how the page is actually organized. That's why some type of forum would probably work better, since the software would understand that a post is a post and it could be managed accordingly. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 02:43, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
@Oiyarbepsy: I'm not entirely convinced of the bit about wiki markup giving computers "no possible way of knowing how the page is actually organized". Part of the intended functionality of the embedded lisp interpreter I'm developing (yonder) is parsing the entire content of a web page; I've already got a template that parses the transcluded content of a page, and am working on a dialog button that parses the raw markup of a page in order to selectively modify certain template calls (the button I'm starting with would submit a news article for review, but I expect eventually to set up buttons for a wide variety of page state-changes, variously-handled archiving operations, nominations, etc). I'm also hoping to thrash out a suite of templates on Wikibooks that would parse a page describing the TOC of a book and do various things with it (like formatting the TOC in different ways and generating various kinds of navigation boxes for the book pages). There are limits, no doubt, but it seems to me there ought to be lots of untapped scope for parsing pages. --Pi zero (talk) 04:02, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Knowing how a continuous page is organized is a solved problem in computing, it's what markup languages are intended to achieve; in fact, markdown and wikitext are the most usable solutions found for that purpose, and Visual Editor and Flow are regressions in that respect - to something more complex and less flexible.
The problem with our Talk pages is that mediawiki hasn't ever had explicit tags for conversations nor interaction support for editing them, and thus editors use style tags for their posts instead of semantic ones. The day someone added an explicit conversation mechanism to mediawiki (notifications when using templates {{ping}} and {{user}}) it became a huge success, immediately adopted by the supposedly conservative user base of experienced editors. A semantic editor that enhanced interaction with markup, without hiding it, could convey the structure of pages without requiring the underlying platform to take full control (as Flow intends to do).
Transclusion is a heavyweight tool that somewhat breaks the conceptual model of markup ("all content is a decorated stream of text"); I would only use it at defining the page structure for large blocks of content (full topics may be OK) or small snippets, but not for anything in between. Diego (talk) 10:12, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, full topics is mainly what I'm advocating here. Right now, our busy talk pages archive with cut and paste moves, which is something users get trouted for if they do anywhere else. In many places, I've seen "in this post you say" with a link to a specific revision of a talk page, and I should be able to hit the talk button and see what the rest of the conversation was - cut and paste archiving breaks that, and most of the time breaks the link to the discussion entirely. Switching to a topic transclusion system would fix this problem, since archiving would simply mean removing the transclusion from the page without actually moving the real discussion. Of course, the mediawiki software doesn't handle transclusion nearly good enough for us to start now. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 12:55, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
It seems both problems of cut-and-paste archiving — misplaced content on one side, misplaced edit history on the other — might, in principle, be addressed by a device that would automatically do the simple detective work that a savvy human would do to find whichever data is misplaced-and-wanted. Taking advantage of the predictable structure of archiving (it's not arbitrary cut-and-paste, even if several different styles of archiving are provided for). Given a page, anchor, and date (humanly meaningful and therefore far more useful than internal codes like revision numbers), it should be tractable to find the right place, and given an archive section likewise to find the edit history. --Pi zero (talk) 13:42, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Using Flow on this page[edit]

Related to the comments above and elsewhere, this page will have Flow enabled on Wednesday (PDT afternoon). It will follow the usual rollout process, with the current contents being archived to the latest subpage archive, and the current header templates being copied across. I'll also update the header templates once Flow is enabled. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 08:11, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

  • @Quiddity (WMF): May I suggest that immediately after starting the Flow page, the first topic is "for older discussion, please see the archives" with appropriate link - This way, a person scrolling through the page, seeing progressively older posts, would get a link to the pre-Flow stuff at the end of their scrolling. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 13:06, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Oiyarbepsy: Will do, thanks for the reminder. The task to make that idea an automated component of converting a page is phab:T87452 (see the last mockup in particular). Feedback there, welcome. :) Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 17:43, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

@Quiddity (WMF): What?!?! After many extensive discussions of Flow on the Executive Director's talk page she told us Flow was on hold and agreed with our objections.

Last month I double-checked and asked her to clarify the situation:

Hi, we have paused any but requested rollouts of Flow, but we have not resolved yet how the mission might be changed -- hence the page has not changed yet. To the guest above: great to hear your interest in helping us build wikis. You can find more info here (if you have not done so already): LilaTretikov (WMF) (talk) 00:21, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

I am not aware of the Community establishing a Consensus to request Flow here. Alsee (talk) 09:06, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Alsee, that's a good point -- we should have asked before saying we were going to change this page. I'm sorry about that.
The reason why we want to enable Flow on this page is that there have been a lot of discussions here -- like "New indentation & threading model" and "Talk: Phineas Gage" above, where it sounds like people are guessing about how Flow works, especially when it comes to recent updates.
Flow is currently in active development -- we're adding important features, and fixing a lot of old problems. So if we're talking to people who haven't looked at a Flow page since six months ago, it's hard to catch people up to the way that it works now. Suggesting that people go and try out a separate test page isn't the same thing as actually using the current feature.
There are some important use cases that Flow doesn't handle yet, like multi-editable collaboration space, and most workflows. But this page is just used for discussions between groups of people, and Flow handles that use case pretty well. I think the easiest and most efficient way to show everyone the current state of development is to actually use it on the page where people are interested in talking about Flow.
What do you think? DannyH (WMF) (talk) 19:03, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
There's enough test pages for this facebookisation gadget, that only impersonates simple forum software, but doesn't help creating an encyclopaedia, There's absolutely no need to put it anywhere else before it's able to do more than just handle simple blahblah. Or ask for a community consensus, this is not WMF property, you are just the servants of the community. ♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 19:52, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Actually, Wikipedia pages are WMF property, and the DannyH is an employee of the WMF, not a servant of the community. -- Ypnypn (talk) 20:48, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
The WMF exists to facilitate the community which creates Wikipedia (and other projects). In any case @DannyH (WMF):, absolutely not. It has not been agreed upon, like Lila said would be necessary, and it's really off the mark for a WMF employee to casually decide to do something they shouldn't be doing without even explaining themselves or giving reasonable notice for a change which would affect an important community discussion space. Frankly, it's the WMF's fault that it's failing at explaining its engineering processes to the community, and in my opinion you are not welcome to force a half-baked and wholly-dubious "feature" on us with the excuse that you are so failing. BethNaught (talk) 21:32, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Also, There are some important use cases that Flow doesn't handle yet, like... most workflows. -- That's more than some. (talk) 21:38, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanx DannyH (WMF). The large majority of people using this page (aside from WMF staff) are objecting to Flow. I don't think it would be a good idea to Force people to use Flow in order explain why they don't want to use Flow. It can come across as a very in-your-face disregard of (two megabyte archive filled with) objections.
The main page has a link to Wikipedia talk:Flow/Developer test page, how about adding a section to the top of this page with the link?
Regarding the latest version of Flow, maybe you can sell it as a lovely chatboard for other sites. I don't see further development being widely deployed here without a CNN-level shitstorm. Maybe I'm wrong.... you really should post an RfC at village pump asking if the project is going in a viable direction. Get some valuable input from the general community that aren't lurking this page. Alsee (talk) 21:52, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Using Flow on this page is a great way to ensure that people who refuse to use Flow pages (such as myself) will be excluded. I already saw some notification about a Flow survey thingie on MediaWiki and didn't participate in that either for the same reason. As per the above, we don't want this here and we have enough pages to test it on. ekips39talk 23:30, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

  • Hi Danny and Quiddity, I'd like to add my name to those asking that you not activate Flow on this page. When I last checked Flow I found it harder to follow a conversation, but I would like to be able to follow this one. Also, my understanding of Lila's input about this is that nothing would be rushed or forced on the community. Now suddenly to be told that discussion about the very medium editors object to will be held in that medium doesn't seem consistent with that assurance. Sarah (SV) (talk) 00:58, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Thirded. I've been testing it out, and I couldn't figure out an indent like the one used here for a while. Replying individually to the bottom post just added another "main" post, which was confusing. I'd prefer discussing Flow without having to spend time figuring out exactly how to format what I want to say. Origamite 01:31, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • That's quite a rich statement considering how much thought we are forced to put into formatting wikitalk. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 02:12, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Colons and asterisks don't take much thought. Origamite's issues with Flow sound more complicated than anything one would encounter on talk pages. The raw code we use now makes it easier to see exactly what one is doing. ekips39talk 05:29, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Also, while for wikitalk we have to learn a very little code, it's stupid to force a new system on us which we have to relearn but which will inhibit functionality. BethNaught (talk) 07:23, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I just looked at Wikipedia talk:Flow/Developer test page. I'm not sure whether it's been six months since I last checked in here, but that page looked basically the same as I recall it did the last time I checked. So, what's new vs. six months ago. What new features and "use cases" should we be testing out? Wbm1058 (talk) 22:40, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
@Wbm1058: The "Browse topics" table of content and the new hierarchical grouping of out-of-order replies have been added recently, as well as the option to use the visual editor (that can be exchanged with wikitext on the fly without loosing content). Diego (talk) 10:16, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I see. I'm not sure how helpful these features are. As it seems there is no archiving to separate pages, if I want to find anything that's very old, I need to scroll through spinning gears for an hour, rather than just go directly to the oldest archive. Seems the ability to refactor content doesn't exist on Flow pages. Wbm1058 (talk) 12:00, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I think they're adding features to solve both those problems in the next iteration. The roadmap for april-june lists "Deleting and moving Flow boards" and "Search on a Flow board" as new features; the later should provide the same functionality as the "search archives" box in current talk pages (at least if they include pagination to reach oldest threads, as I've been insisting). Diego (talk) 12:34, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Per Sarah, it would be perverse to force discussion of something to which many are opposed into using that very thing. Bizarre, even. To do so without consensus flies in the face of the "new way forward" which Lila has said she is spearheading, central to which is community consultation and consensus. Not encouraging at all. Sad face. Begoontalk 23:31, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • No. People aren't interested in being alpha testers for a feature they don't particularly want. When you think it ready for global deployment let us know and we will destruction test it. Until then leave it on the test wikis where those who want to know its current state can find it.©Geni (talk) 18:35, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Why are we using Flow anywhere on any WMF project? The software is a piece of unmitigated garbage that not a single community has asked for, or wants. The project should be immediately terminated and those involved with its development reassigned or let go. Carrite (talk) 17:43, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Feedback heard, loud and clear. I mistakenly read the earlier thread as being open to the possibility of testing it here; I'll make sure to ask next time, per the standard Flow rollout process. For what it's worth, many other wikis are happily testing Flow, and requesting specific features and tweaks in order to deploy it to more pages at their wikis, e.g. The Catalan Wikipedia has Flow at all their Village Pumps now, and is discussing where else they'd like to try it next; and the French Wikipedia has been using Flow at a sub-page of their Newcomers Help Desk for a few months, and the devs are preparing the remaining features necessary to migrate Frwiki's main Newcomers Help Desk over to Flow. There are test pages at, and ongoing discussions with, the Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, Punjabi, and Telugu Wikipedias. Development is going steadily towards the use-cases that editors ask for, as well as further improvements of the backend and the feeds. Anyway, thanks to the folk who offered constructive feedback, and sorry again that I let my enthusiasm overwhelm my usual caution, before posting the original plan. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 19:43, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Well, we're testing it out too on a few pages. It's just that there appears to be a consensus not to have it here and now. For what it's worth, Flow is growing on me as I use it on the developer's test page; however, I cannot imagine using it in several places, including a User talk page (which can often be more templates than discussion). I feel that the main problem is that there is a fundamental incompatibility between simplifying the software for newcomers to make it somewhat more like a forum and the flexibility of current wikicode; and we prefer the wikicode option on this page. Origamite 21:04, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Renaming issue?[edit]

When a thread on the Developer test page had its name changed, the notification was incorrect. As can be seen here, it showed the name which it was changed to twice, instead of the name which was changed from and the name which it was changed to once each. Origamite 15:12, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

That bug is tracked at phab:T71883. (sorry for the delayed reply, thanks for the demonstrative screenshot :) Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 21:20, 8 May 2015 (UTC)


Is there any way to watchlist an entire page with Flow instead of just a single topic? I tried watchlisting Wikipedia_talk:Flow/Test_page and it only adds a single topic, not the whole page. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 20:16, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

It's on my watchlist as I get notified every time a new topic is created. Looking at my raw watchlist I see Wikipedia:Flow/Developer test page on there which is probably what’s doing it (as that's the page it's a talk page of).--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 20:23, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
I get notifications on MediaWiki about a) new topics and b) new posts in watched topics, not about any other changes on the page. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 21:02, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes seems there’s no way to be notified of every change on a page. You could visit it every time you see a new topic is added and watch that topic. I'm sure something will be added to let you automate this, it's an obvious additional way to watch a Flow page on top of the existing options.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 21:10, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
@JohnBlackburne: Exactly that, at a minimum. There are some notes and napkin-sketches in a few team email threads, about possibilities beyond that minimum, that they'll hopefully get onwiki (or phabricator) soon. I'm pushing for Watching to take as much complexity (future growth) as possible into account (i.e. many of the thoughts in the age-old mw:watchlist wishlist), but that will obviously have to be tempered by practicality. (e.g. At the extreme end of the spectrum: I'd love a way to get emailed for changes on some pages (or topics), and echo-notifications for others, and just notifications for new-topic-creations at others, and to only watch the main/project page (not the talkpage) on still others, and some only for a limited time, and and and ... ; all along with various options for what appears in the watchlist itself. But, that kind of power would add a ton of columns to various databases, and a ton of complexity to coding/testing/maintenance, and quite a bit of complexity to the UI... So they're researching what is feasible/realistic). More details on all that, and a wide invite to discussion, when I/they know more. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 23:56, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

For Flow pages, there are two sets of stars. The star up next to the new topic button (in the usual location) will watch the entire page. The stars near the topic headings will watch only that topic. I have the entire page watched and new topics appear on my watchlist. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 12:52, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Just what I said: New topics appear, but no answers to not-watched topics. So it's not a "watch the entire page"-star, just some subset of changes to the page: a) changes to watched topics and b) new topics. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 15:00, 4 May 2015 (UTC)