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Flow logo 1.svg
Development and design
Background and research

(All links go to

Our goal is to pilot the Minimum viable product (MVP) of Flow on a subset of WikiProject discussion spaces where users have agreed to trial the software, in order to get feedback that can help us continue to expand and improve Flow features and design. This document outlines the proposed basic features of this first release; however, this is not set in stone. Flow will be developed iteratively and gradually, so the details are subject to change based on user needs. See our Community engagement strategy to learn more about our release plans and how you can collaborate with us.

If you have any feedback or concerns about the requirements for the MVP, feel free to leave them on the discussion page.


Users of Wikimedia projects need a lean, responsive, modern interface for collaboratively improving content. WikiProject discussion pages are one of the places on English Wikipedia where peer-to-peer content collaboration occurs. The first release of Flow to a live Wikimedia project will be geared toward tackling the core needs of Flow as a peer-to-peer content discussion system in the WikiProject discussion space.

This release aims to support existing workflows (discussing content, including markup from that content), as well as improve the user experience of talk pages by facilitating:

  1. Productive, efficient discussions that resolve the issue at hand quickly. E.g., It should be fast and easy to ask and answer a question. It should be equally fast and easy to remove off-topic, inappropriate, or harmful posts from the discussion.
  2. Transparency and clarity of communication to ensure good-faith dialog among peers. E.g., It should be fast and easy to get a sense of who the participants in any given discussion are and what they're talking about.
  3. Ease of use to ensure that anyone can participate if they have something constructive to add to the conversation, regardless of their level of experience with the WikiProject, the Wikimedia project, or with editing wikis in general. E.g., a volunteer translator with little Wikipedia editing experience who is assisting a WikiProject should feel comfortable discussing her translations in the WikiProject discussion space.

Personas and goals[edit]

WikiProject member[edit]

Wikimania 2012 portrait 23 by ragesoss, 2012-07-11.JPG
  • experienced editor (~2,000+ edits)
  • cares a lot about improving content within a certain topical area
  • likes working with other users, both onwiki and offwiki
  • willing to use tools to get job done
  • Goal: wants his project to be an active, thriving place, engaging with existing members and recruiting more

New/potential WikiProject member[edit]

Vibha Bamba.jpg
  • newish editor (100+ edits)
  • excited to improve content in a topical area
  • hasn't participated in community discussion spaces before and doesn't really know the conventions
  • Goal: wants to connect with other users who also care about the content she's interested in

Advanced markup editor[edit]

06 Heather Walls - Wikimedia Foundation 04.jpg
  • experienced editor (~3,000+ edits)
  • cares a lot about improving formatting and visual presentation of content
  • knows template and markup code by heart
  • likes collaborating on scratchpad
  • Goal: wants to be able to share her work, including pieces of complex markup, with other users before adding it into a live article


Brandon - Wikimedia 2011 hackathon in Berlin 046.jpg
  • medium-experience editor (~500+ edits)
  • has lots of community discussion pages on his watchlist, even ones he's not usually active in, just to keep track of what's happening onwiki
  • cares about protecting the wiki from vandals, spammers, and trolls
  • Goal: wants to be able to monitor discussion via his watchlist or recent changes and hide inappropriate comments


Code Review photos-3.jpg
  • very experienced editor (~10,000+ edits)
  • has elevated responsibility for protecting the encyclopedia
  • high level of community engagement/policy knowledge
  • often monitors for abuse or gets requests from other users to deal with abuse
  • Goal: wants to be able to delete inappropriate comments
Visual design brainstorming: topics, posts, and tangents. See more on
Visual and interaction design brainstorming: post moderation features. See more on


James Forrester.jpg
  • extremely experienced editor (~20,000+ edits)
  • has elevated responsibility for protecting the encyclopedia and the legal status of its content
  • often monitors for abuse or gets requests from other users to deal with abuse
  • Goal: wants to be able to suppress sensitive information that may harm the encyclopedia or its users

Proposed user experience[edit]

See an early interactive prototype to try out some of the proposed functionality, and visit the Flow design hub on for visual and interaction design brainstorming. Please note: all of this is rapidly evolving software, not the final look or feel of the product!

A Flow-enabled WikiProject discussion space will become a structured discussion spaces with the following features:

  • A configurable header area, wikitext compatible and editable (for images and information related to the project, links to archives and FAQ, or any other information that WikiProject members deem useful)
  • A start new topic affordance, containing:
    • a dialog for naming and starting a new topic
  • A list of topics, in order of most recently updated to least recently updated, top to bottom. Each topic contains:
    • an editable title
    • moderation features (see below under Posts)
    • permalink
    • history
  • Posts (replies to the topic). Each individual post contains:
    • author information
    • a human-readable timestamp indicating when a comment was posted, when it was last modified, and by whom, if not the original poster
    • Parsoid compatibility, allowing users to copy-paste markup for most templates and advanced wiki syntax (math, IPA symbols, etc.) into their comments
    • an affordance for editing a post (available to those with appropriate user rights)
    • an affordance for hiding or unhiding a post – hidden comments will leave a placeholder visible to all users
    • an affordance for deleting or undeleting a post (viewable only for administrators) – a deleted post will leave a placeholder visible to all users
    • an affordance for suppressing a post (viewable only for oversighters) – a suppressed post will only be viewable to oversighters
    • a history of the post, including modification and state changes (edited, hidden, unhidden, etc.)
    • a permalink
  • Topics and posts will not be archived; instead, they will be lazy-loaded, with less recent conversations accessible by scrolling down. There will be a non-JavaScript based fallback as well.[1]

Summary of features[edit]

Header area Anyone can edit (unless the page is protected; standard user-rights apply).
New topic Anyone can start a new topic (unless the page is protected; standard user-rights apply).
Posts Anyone can add a new post on a topic (unless the page is protected; standard user-rights apply).
Notifications Everyone receives notifications when a user adds a new post to a topic they started or directly replies to them in a thread. These notifications take them directly to the relevant topic/post.
Editing posts Anyone can edit their own posts (unless the page is protected; standard user-rights apply).
Hiding/unhiding Anyone can hide or unhide posts left by others (unless the page is protected; standard user-rights apply).
Deletion Trusted users can delete posts (user-rights set by local projects) and can see the content of deleted posts.
Suppression Oversighters can delete and suppress posts. Only oversighters can see the content of deleted and suppressed posts.
Watchlist and recent changes Anyone who is watching the discussion or monitoring recent changes can see changes to the discussion (new topics/posts, edited posts, deleted posts, suppressed posts) in those views.