Wikipedia talk:Community health initiative on English Wikipedia/Allow users to restrict which user groups can send them direct emails

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This seems like a good idea. If you're being email-harassed, it's a good deal better to be able to disable certain users (regardless of username) rather than having to pick between no-email-at-all and being open to harassment. I'm concerned, however, because I think this should always be opt-in. For one thing, if this feature is enabled by default, tons of users won't know about it, and suddenly a large number of established Wikipedians won't be able to receive email from new users unless they later hear about this feature and disable it; moreover, new users who don't notice the box will be stuck with it. This preference isn't generally appropriate without good reason — if you're open to email at all, you really ought to be open to email from everyone unless someone's causing you problems by abusing the feature. I think you're disagreeing with me in saying "The default for new accounts created...", so I'm concerned.

I prefer the idea of a dropdown, as I'm seeing it described here; the more options the better, as long as it doesn't take an inappropriate amount of developer time and doesn't cause problems when it's in use. Nyttend (talk) 23:28, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

  • Thanks, this is essential and overdue. Only a handful of cases are known to have received extreme harassment but a healthy community must take steps such as these to prevent easy abuse. The dropdown list is necessary because some people will be happy with autoconfirmed but others will need a far higher hurdle. Extendedconfirmed is 30 days/500 edits. Johnuniq (talk) 00:25, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
    For this reason, I view solution 1 as unacceptable. Autoconfirmed is a trivial barrier for a dedicated sockpuppeteering harasser to get over. MER-C 03:44, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
  • AHT team is interested in hearing lots of people's thoughts about this since it will effect so many people. So, thank both of you for sharing your thoughts. I personally agree with it being set to allow emails from everyone unless you opt for a restriction. My opinion comes from previously being a Wikipedian in Residence at Cocchrane and working with loads of new contributor. I want them to be able to easily reach out to people to ask a question by email if they are timid about leaving talk page questions/comments. But i know that others have said that many people do not understand that enabling emails lets them get emails from everyone. At least some people think that the emails that they receive will be official correspondence from the official organization not a volunteer member of the community. If that is the case, we need to do better education for newbies around setting up email preferences.
  • I want to get more input about the default setting. Ideally, it could be set per community consensus by each wiki. SPoore (WMF), Community Advocate, Community health initiative (talk) 20:30, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
    • I'd say nobody; aren't emails already an explicit opt-in? I would also consider what thresholds other major sites impose to use private message functionality. MER-C 12:58, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
      • Confirming an email address is not required — you can have a Wikimedia account without an email address. But if a user provides and confirms their email address, direct emails are enabled for them, and therefore opt-out. I also believe there's a significant difference between on-site private messages and email only private messages. — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 21:29, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
        • A blocked editor shouldn't be allowed to send email to the blocking administrator. And any editor can block emails from a particular editor. Marvellous Spider-Man 14:56, 15 October 2017 (UTC)
          • That last is essential. If some dispute arises with a 10-year WP veteran who has "issues", and it needs to be aired out via on-WP dispute resolution, I don't want to receive back-channel e-mail from said party. Other than that concern, I like this plan in its entirety.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  18:33, 15 October 2017 (UTC)
            • In the Special:Block form, the admin can select to prevent the user from sending emails. Does this not address your concern? Or are you requesting that this email protection (from blocking admin to blocked user) exist in perpetuity? We could potentially have an option to "add this user to my email mute list" on the block form. — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 19:34, 16 October 2017 (UTC)

On wikis where a user has never edited[edit]

This is good, but a potential problem is that other projects import pages from enwiki, and that makes it appear as if enwiki contributors have edited the other wiki. Is there a technical way of determining that the editor really has logged on at that wiki and edited? I know that WP:SUL means we do not log on at another wiki, but I think that something happens the first time an enwiki editor visits another project? The ideal situation would be that Alice's email preferences at meta would be global and apply as the default to all projects where Alice has edited. Except, as planned, if Alice has not edited at a project, no email should be available. If that is not possible, how about providing a tool so Alice can see which projects are open for sending Alice email? Or, would there be a guarantee that Global user contributions would show all the projects where Alice might be emailed from? The point is that Alice needs to know which projects need email preferences set. Johnuniq (talk) 00:25, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

Global preferences (currently under development) would make this a moot point. MER-C 03:50, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
As part of the pre-development research that I, Trevor and developers will do, we will determine and document exactly what happens currently. And exploring the possible range of changes. We'll be sure to loop everyone back in when we know more. SPoore (WMF), Community Advocate, Community health initiative (talk) 20:11, 12 October 2017 (UTC)
If a user never visits a wiki, then they don't technically have an account created there so the 'Email this user' link is not visible on their userpage and Special:EmailUser will not accept their username as valid. However, when a user visits a page on another Wikimedia wiki while logged-in, the system 'creates' their account on that wiki, and they can therefore be contacted via email.
For example, I commonly land on wikiquote or wiktionary from Google searches, but never edit there. I wouldn't naturally think to go to my user preferences on this wiki to control how people would contact me. This is just my personal logic, but I have a hunch most users (especially newer users) would agree. [citation needed 😁 ]
We'll have to look into your question about imported pages. But in my mind, I believe that a user has never edited there — while revisions and page histories may contain their username, they've never clicked 'edit' or 'save changes' on that wiki. They're not a part of that wiki community.
To be fair, this vector for harassment is extremely uncommon. What we're proposing is a preventative solution for all users (which is why I don't believe Global Preferences will solve this.) My rationale for suggesting this change is mostly due to the fact that we cannot identify a single use case for why email should be enabled for these users. We sincerely are open to being wrong and defining different solutions (or dropping this entirely) if that's where our discussions and research leads us. — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager 🗨 00:14, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for this important work, and it is obvious, at least to me, that trolls should not be able to use any of a hundred or so different projects to send harassment via email. My point is that someone who needs to protect themselves has to either have a way of setting a global preference to prevent throw-away accounts from emailing them on other projects, or there has to be an easy way of listing which projects need a preference set. Johnuniq (talk) 02:27, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
Sounds about right to me.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  18:30, 15 October 2017 (UTC)

After some discussions and findings that some users create accounts just to read, we've updated the requirements for the "0-edits" scenario:

  • If a user has never edited AND they did not create their account on that wiki, they should not be able receive Special:EmailUser emails sent from that wiki.
  • Users in the groups bureaucrat, steward, wmf-supportsafety, and global-renamer should still have the ability to send email to these users.
    • This should be a new right assigned to these groups.
  • If a user is not in the specified groups, the 'Email this user' link in the side navigation of a user page should not appear
  • If a user is not in the specified groups, navigating directly to Special:EmailUser/Foobar should display an error message
    • If the user does not have a confirmed email or is anonymous: display the standard "No send address" error page
    • If the user has a confirmed email address and is not a bcrat/steward/wmf-susa/global-renamed: display a new error message in this style.

Any thoughts? — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 19:16, 31 October 2017 (UTC)

That looks good, but what about the import issue, and how does an editor know which projects could be used to send email? To spell that out:
Import: If user Apples has edited en:Example and that article is imported to bnwiki where Apples has never edited, does Apples have zero edits at bnwiki? Can someone email Apples from bnwiki?
Projects: If user Apples wants to lock down their email so only users at enwiki and dewiki can email them, how can Apples see a list of projects that could be used to email Apples? Apples would need to visit each of those projects and set preferences there to not accept emails.
Finally, the proposed error text for a non-functioning Special:EmailUser/Apples is:
This user has chosen not to receive email from other users.
That sounds like Apples has purposefully rejected other users which is not quite the point, and is literally not correct. A tiny change might fix that:
This user has not chosen to receive email from other users.
Johnuniq (talk) 22:21, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
@Johnuniq: This is about participation, not strictly whether their username is in the edit table or not. In your example, I would say that Apples should not be able to receive email from bnwiki. My team's developers will need to figure out how to build it in this way. As for seeing which projects they'll need to manage their preferences, users can use Special:CentralAuth or wait for Global Preferences. For the error message I was thinking of something more specific: "This user has not made any edits on SITENAME and cannot be emailed." — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 22:53, 31 October 2017 (UTC)

Feedback summary and updates, October 23[edit]

Feedback summary from the English Wikipedia and Meta Wiki discussions:

  • On wikis where a user has 1+ edits
    • General support for the need for this feature.
      • 3 explicit votes/nods from the dropdown variation, 0 explicit votes/nods for the tickbox.
    • Concerns about opt-in vs. opt-in.
    • There was a proposal to disallow emails from blocked users to the admin who blocked them. This is a separate feature, but we are open to building it at a later point.
    • Provide better language, tooltips, and/or links for this preference so users will know exactly what emails will be allowed from whom.
    • A question regarding how this preference works in conjunction with the other 'All email from other users' preference
  • On wikis where a user has never edited
    • What happens when a page is imported?
    • Alternatives approaches:
      • Make Meta email preferences global
      • Build a feature to make it easier to manage preferences across multiple wikis
      • Global preferences will make this a moot point.
    • One user mentioned a concern that this would interrupt a workflow to request adopting a username from an inactive account.

Here's my personal responses/commentary on this feedback:

  • I don't believe we have enough comments or input to make a decision about the dropdown variation vs. the tickbox variation. We would love to hear from more people specifically about this.
  • After some brief consideration, we agree it's best to release this new preference (either the tickbox or the dropdown variation) with the default for new accounts set to allow email from non-autoconfirmed users. The preference will be built in a way so the administrators of a wiki can customize the default as they see fit, and we can re-approach this topic later.
  • Building email protection/prevention between blocked users and the blocking admins is a separate feature, but we are open to building it at a later point.
  • I've updated the tickbox proposal to be more clear about how the multiple preferences would work together, and I updated the 'Background' section of the documentation page to include more information about how single-user-login works. I've also created Phabricator task T178842 to track work against disallowing emails where users have 0 edits.
  • Professionally as a Product Manager, I strongly believe that for wikis where a user has never edited, we need to take a more firm stance and be more proactive for the protection of our users. I think it's a lapse in original design judgement to allow email to users who have never made a single edit at all, and this gap is exacerbated by Unified Login. Global Preferences or a preference on Meta could solve this, but are reactive. This solution should be proactive.

Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 22:19, 23 October 2017 (UTC)

Quick update: after some discussion on Meta, we have decided that for the "0 edits" group we will allow users in the groups bureaucrat, steward, wmf-supportsafety, and global-renamer to still have the ability to send email to these users. Emails are logged in CheckUser and users in these groups are limited (and trusted) so the risk is extremely low for abuse. — Trevor Bolliger, WMF Product Manager (t) 21:22, 30 October 2017 (UTC)