Wikipedia talk:Discontinuation of comments subpages

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Talk page Comments subpage[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
CLOSE - The use of comments subpages is deprecated. Template:WPBannerMeta, including Template:WPBannerMeta, Template:WPBannerMeta/comments, and Template:WPBannerMeta/doc should be revised to reflect this. -- Jreferee (talk) 14:26, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)

Many talk page Wikiproject templates have, when an article is unassessed, a pointer to a /comments subpage. E.g; WPBiography, WP Disney, ... The trouble is that this subpage is hardly used, so comments there will usually be completely ignored (it is not created by the tagger, so it will be on no one's watchlist). Once the page is assessed, the link to the /Comments subpage is no longer available, making this an abandoned orphan. For the vast majority of pages, this subpage is unneeded, since the actual talkpage of the article is very rarely used. Therefor, I propose that all Wikiproject templates no longer point to the /comments subpage but direct discussion of the assessment to the article talk page proper, where the comments will actually be seen (e.g. by the person that tagged the article for the wikiproject). I only noticed their existence by going through all recently created talk pages and finding Talk:Roc Raida/Comments, linked through the banner at Talk:Roc Raida. The chances of anyone noticing such comments are very small, and once the article is assessed, there are no more links to it.

As this is a change that will affect some of our most used templates, like WPBiography, some discussion is needed before implementation of this. A list of all templates that produce such /comments links would be useful as well of course... Fram (talk) 09:58, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

And if people wonder "what is the problem with those pages", apart from the things explained above: take a look at talk pages like Talk:Parboiled rice. Nothing strange, but when you use the "show" button in the Wikiproject banner, you get a text that doesn't really belong anywhere, but gives the appearance of coming from the project team. On Talk:Judy Feder or Talk:Randhir Kapoor, you can access the subpage through two different links in two banners, but it is a comment that should have been placed directly on the talk page, not on a subpage. Fram (talk) 11:45, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Support deprecation, I'd suggest subst'ing the comments subpage to the talk page and then deleting it. –xenotalk 12:26, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
I've never come across these, and from what you say, it's not really an idea that's working, or obviously necessary. An alternative to deleting these subpages would be turning them into a more permanent record (i.e. always linked, for re-assessments) but I'm not convinced that's really necessary either. Rd232 talk 13:16, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Stop encouraging the creation of new ones, and then start working through the existing ones. Many may have valid comments, but some are utter nonsense - for example, back in April, I stumbled across one that was close to 500KB (that's not a typo, the exact size was 489,208 bytes) and appeared to be nothing but a copy-pasted government report or legal document or something. It had been created in January 2008 and hadn't been touched until I tagged it to be speedied. I have a feeling there are actually a lot more of these comment subpages that aren't much better. ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 19:26, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Support as well. Burying these comments on a subpage reduces their effectiveness. An important step in avoiding more of these being created might be to have the function removed from Template:WPBannerMeta which many wikiprojects use. Once that is done, I am sure a bot could detect the presense of the subpages, and subst them as User:Xeno suggested above. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 21:32, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. Long overdue. I've had to try and get attention on those comments subpages before, and it's mostly futile. The regular article talk page should be used instead. There's no reason not to. Equazcion (talk) 21:38, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support this proposal as well. These things are half baked and poorly implemented, and it's time to get rid. Talk pages are for comments, so a /Comments subpage is highly redundant. No doubt many of them do have valid comments, but in my experience a lot of them are 2-3 years old and bear little or no relation to the article in it's current state. No reason for them to be transcluded in project banners either, because the comments are seldom specific to any one project. If any projects are interested in keeping comments in their banners, then a better way of doing things needs to be found. PC78 (talk) 11:24, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Allright, I'll start and remove the link (encouraging to create them) from all talk page (Wikiproject) headers, I'll obviously not delete any subpages themselves. A bot to subst them on the main talkpages would be great though, as among the clutter there are bound to be noteworthy comments (e.g. one I found that pointed out a hoax article). Fram (talk) 12:41, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Do I read correctly that you are taking substantial action on an issue after only 3 days of discussion on the Village Pump page? Has this been discussed elsewhere? What notifications have been made?
The initial examples are all WP:Biography - why not fix the problem locally? Other projects may (and do) value the /Comments page as a mechanism to provide long term comments on article assessments. Geometry guy 22:32, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Wrong. The above examples are not all WP:BIOGRAPHY, and this isn't a local problem. If you actually look at Talk:Judy Feder you'll see that the comments subpage is being transcluded by two banners, and the comments aren't relevant to either project. PC78 (talk) 15:00, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree it needs further discussion, but Wikiprojects should comply with community decisions. Cenarium (talk) 16:09, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment. I agree with the need to rethink the /Comments pages, because all to often they do present a false appearance of some kind of "official" assessment and editors often do not know what they are about. However, they obviously do serve at least some useful purpose: at the minimum, they often endorse a particular WikiProject banner (such as with WP:M banners) in a transparent fashion. However, /Comments pages must be better patrolled, and there should be a clear set of guidelines on their purpose. As I write this, there is an edit notice above consisting of a big orange exclamation point above next to some explanation about suggesting new proposals. Perhaps something similar could be done on /Comments pages? Also, the general banner text of "Please add to or update the comments to suggest improvements to the article" clearly does not elucidate the purpose of the field. "Please add WikiProject X comments" might be better. Le Docteur (talk) 01:36, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
The biggest problem with putting any information on these pages is that the subpage doesn't show up on anyone's watchlist except the person leaving the comments. Article creators won't know that the page has been assessed, or that any comment has been left at all. At least by keeping the information on the talk page, editors have a chance of it being brought to their attention. And do we really need to encourage the creation of more unwatched pages? I believe that the potential damage to the project exceeds any benefit that keeping these pages may have. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 15:20, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. I've thought about raising this myself and tried to find places /Comments was actually used. The ones I found just had a single short comment that could have been moved to the talk page. Perhaps these have value for certain articles but for the vast majority they just confuse people and add unnecessary pages. If they really are needed for some pages, then alternate templates can easily be created (or keep the existing ones as alternates and make the new ones the default). The descriptions given to the /Comments page all sound exactly the same as the description of the Talk page and I don't see why there are two pages for the same thing. If Geometry Guy has an example of where they are used differently then he should provide a link to show us. I have no problem with the project banners themselves, they serve important categorization functions, but the comment link should go away.--RDBury (talk) 14:50, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment Depreciation seems like a useful first step. Also, some banners currently support comments but don't actually use them. (See User:WOSlinker/comments for a list of the comments categories and their page counts.) -- WOSlinker (talk) 15:23, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Support depreciation and merging of relevant content in talk page then redirection of existing ones, or deletion if possible. Additionally to the above, this is extraordinarily confusing to new users, a usability disaster. New users see this and go commenting, on about anything, regardless of whether it's for such strange things as 'wikiproject assessment'. And so many genuine talk page comments get lost there... Detailed assessments are actually useful, and this is a further reason to put them on the article talk page, plainly visible, so that anyone can see them and try to help. There is a little more than 25200 such pages, see them here. Cenarium (talk) 16:10, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I definitely support the deprecation of this godawful feature. I propose the following first steps:
    • Removal of the 'forced comments' functionality (the |COMMENT_FORCE= parameter in WPBannerMeta). This means that, when no comments are present, the banner will not display a redlinked message asking for them
    • Deletion of the 470 empty comments subpages.
    • Deletion of the 2544 comment subpages which are not transcluded onto any pages
    • Deletion of the 2859 comment subpages which have not been edited since January 2007.
    I chose that slightly arbitrary age of 2 years 10 months precisely to get that sample number of around 3,000. There are 13,360 pages which have not been edited in the past two years. The number of subpages older than a given age follows an exponential curve up until around June 2007, then becomes a linear fit. Empirically, I'd say that the system ceased to be actively implemented wiki-wide around that time. Happymelon 19:20, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is a matter for individual WikiProjects. Comment subpages provide a way to sign and date WikiProject ratings, and have a permanence and easy accessibility that threaded and/or archived talk page comments do not. Some WikiProjects find them useful. Centralized moves to get rid of them are inappropriate. It is much more in the spirit of Wikipedia to allow WikiProjects to turn the features on or off according to their needs. Geometry guy 19:38, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
Please give a specific example of when a /comments page was used like this and why the talk page could not be used. I assume you mean WP:Mathematics as one of the projects that uses them, but the Mathematics banner says "Please also add comments to suggest improvements to the article," which is what the talk page is for. If the comments page has a different use then it should say what it is on the banner instead of confusing people. I'm willing to keep an open mind about whether these pages are useful but I have yet to see any evidence of it.--RDBury (talk) 05:50, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
It could be clarified: improvements are within the context of an article assessment - here editors have found even a signature and date to be helpful. Geometry guy 23:14, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
No, this is not a matter for individual WikiProjects. Comments subpages are in the Talk namespace and as such are not specific to any particular projects. Are you speaking on behalf of any particular project here? If any projects are interested in keeping these pages, they should be made to host them in their own project space. PC78 (talk) 06:54, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • comment I've already stated my support above, but wanted to propose that perhaps GA comment subpages should also be included in this proposal. Since GA comments regard problems with the article while coordinating ways to improve it, which seem like the job of article talk pages in general, why not have those discussions occur there as well? Equazcion (talk) 19:48, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
    I assume you are referring to GA review pages (/GA1 etc.). They are not for comments, but for GAN reviews and individual reassessments. Separate pages are needed for transparency and permanent linking to reviews from ArticleHistory. Geometry guy 19:55, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
    Reviews and assessments sound like the same thing as comments for improvement of the article, just in different words. But my GA experience is a bit limited so I'll wait for others to weigh in. Equazcion (talk) 19:58, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
    I agree with Geometry guy that it would be difficult, and impractical to put GA reviews on the talk page, it's similar to FAs, except generally only one person reviews, and it's probably why they aren't centralized. There's a list here, also GA2 and so on. But there's also to dos which create problems similar to comments subpages, I think those should be embedded directly into the talk pages. Cenarium (talk) 20:06, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
  • For those saying that this is for individual wikiprojects to decide. I don't think we can (or want to) stop individual projects from using these. However, the vast, vast majority currently use a central template which include this /comments on over 2 million talk pages, many of those for projects that don't use or monitor the /comments at all. There are thousands of /comments pages created without anyone reading them, having them on their watchlist, ..., wasting the efforts of the people that posted there in the first place, and often on articles where the actual talk page has no content at all except for the banners. This proposal is to deprecate the suggestion of creating /comments pages on all talk pages as the default, leaving it to specific wikiprojects to install the functionality in their own template if they prefer this. Fram (talk) 07:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Since I've had some time to think about this, I think the following is a decent plan of action:
    1. Stop WPBM from encouraging creation of new /Comments subpages - this would probably only be a temporary measure until cleanup on existing subpages is finished; individual projects which still want the functionality would have to weigh in somewhere
    2. Delete those subpages outlined by Happy-melon on VPP (bot work?)
    3. Review remaining subpages, substituting or simply deleting where appropriate (maybe this should happen after the next step, so that unwanted subpages don't require a second run to find and delete)
    4. Send requests to all projects which have been using the subpages, giving a brief overview of the situation and asking if they still want the functionality (provide a link to where they should comment; no reply equals silent consensus to stop using the functionality for their own banner) - it should also link to the category for existing subpages with a count of how many currently exist
    5. Functionality in the banner gets updated as follows:
      • All /Comments subpages get created as subpages of projects, instead of article talk pages - allows each project to maintain its own comments standards or whatever
      • An editnotice gets displayed every time a /Comments page is created, advising that it may be better to add the comments directly to the article's talk page
      • A preload template is offered for new subpages (not so sure on this one)
  • All of this, of course, is pursuant to a consensus to actually take large-scale action on /Comments subpages, and is open to adjustment or refinement before being deployed. Thoughts? (cross-posted from Template talk:WPBannerMeta#TOC and comments transclusion issue) ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 17:43, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
One of the points of having 'comments' pages for articles, rather than projects, was to have a single comments page per article used by all projects active on that article. Some articles have 5-10 projects listed on their talk page. Should there be 5-10 comments pages saying slightly different things? It's the same argument that was had before over whether the rating should be same or different between WikiProjects. Anyway, I suggest that someone tries to find out where the initial discussion was that led to these comments pages being created. I suspect it was somewhere in WP:WP 1.0. And those that participated in those discussions should be notified about this one. Carcharoth (talk) 18:42, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
If changes are made, they should be done to non-WPBM banners as well -- WOSlinker (talk) 18:04, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment - Before anything is done, what is needed is to find out exactly how many of these pages there are, and to get the opinions of people who write on these pages and use them. i.e. Ask someone to actually dig out some data on this: how many such subpages there are and the sizes of them, and which projects actually use them, before blanket subst'ing and deletion takes place. Also suggest finding the best ones and getting the people that use them to participate in the discussion. Also, comments made on a talk page often get archived without being actioned. The idea of having a separate workflow for general talk page comments and one devoted to assessments and planning how to improve the article, is a valid one, even if not widely adopted. Suggest WP 1.0 project contacted, as they use these subpages in some of their reports. Also, talk page archives organised by topics allow better integration of such comments, and allows similar ones from over the years to be grouped together. Finally, copying and deleting will affect the edit and contributions history of those that edited those pages (and lose attribution). Suggest leaving redirects in place, and when pasting to talk pages, use an edit summary that points to the redirects for the edit history and attribution, and make sure the redirects are tagged as containing useful edit history, so they are not deleted by various bots that like hoovering up such things. Carcharoth (talk) 14:13, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
To get things started I did a random (more or less) sample of 50 pages that use the "maths tag" template; there are about 7000 such pages total. Here are the results:
26%-Page did not exist.
28%-Page consisted of a single signature with no comments.
34%-Page consisted of a short single comment (at most one line). A typical comment was "Needs references"
8%-Page consisted of a single long comment.
4%-Page consisted of multiple threaded comments. The pages were talk:Standard deviation/Comments and talk:Differential equation/Comments.
I didn't keep a tally of the number of different contributors but my impression is there were 2 or 3 users that accounted for most of content.
These results apply only to the Mathematics project and the results may be a lot different for other projects, and admittedly the sample size is small. But I thought the Mathematics project was appropriate because some of the opposition to the proposal is associated with it.--RDBury (talk) 17:47, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Sampling is not really good enough here (though thanks for doing that survey). What is needed is some indication of who is using these pages, and to do that, all of the major contributors to such pages need to be listed and notified. Imagine someone spent hours doing hundreds of these pages a few months ago, and then looks for them in their contributions log (if they were an admin, they would find them in their "deleted contributions" log) and is mightily puzzled until they find out the pages were deleted, and a copy-paste copy of their comments is now lingering unread in some talk page archive somewhere. Carcharoth (talk) 18:36, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the sampling is useful to tell what kind of editing is being and done and how much notification will be needed. If people actually did put a lot of work into some of these pages then I say by all means keep it and keep the link on the talk page, which is why I suggested having an alternate template for just such cases. But I think the statistics show, though not conclusively given caveats I mentioned, this really doesn't happen very often. It's silly to worry about preserving and making sure comments are accessible when it's just somebody leaving a signature with no actual comment, or adding "Needs references" or "Important topic" with no details. Being concerned about preserving useful information is one thing, and there are ways around that, but if you're worried about hurting the feelings of people who made a lot of meaningless edits without contributing to the quality of the articles then you've got to do more to convince me.--RDBury (talk) 22:26, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
See above, here is a list of all of them (at the latest search index update). Cenarium (talk) 16:20, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Old discussions - I found the old discussions here: 1, 2, 3 (May to July 2006). I will notify the people who took part in those discussions who are still here, as they may be able to shed light on what has changed since then, and whether the current use of these comments subpages has fulfilled initial expectations or not. 18:55, 20 October 2009 (UTC) UPDATE: Have notified the five main participants in those discussions, as listed here. Also left a note for the Version 1.0 Editorial Team here. Carcharoth (talk) 19:15, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment: For the record, I've deleted and oversighted at least a few of these comment pages because the only comment made there met the criteria for oversight, including people posting extremely personal details (true or not, some of it accusing people of criminal acts) on the page. I don't know whether or not they would show up on the web, but they certainly weren't on the radar of most people including the usual editors of the main article, sometimes for weeks or months. Risker (talk) 20:33, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
    • This may mean that bot-actions can't be done here and all comments pages that have been created will need to be manually inspected for such problems. The empty subpages are likely to be cases such as: (a) creation in a vandalised state followed by blanking; (b) valid creation followed by vandal blanking; or (c) valid creation followed by vandalism followed by blanking of the vandalism. There is no way of knowing until they are manually inspected. The main problem seems to have been that these pages didn't end up on anyone's watchlist, unlike the normal page and talk page. And stuff slipped by recent changes patrol. So this is both a strong argument for deprecating the pages (they are mostly unwatched) and also for not undertaking blanket bot actions. Carcharoth (talk) 21:57, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • These pages were created with the intention of adding a small "assessor's note" to pages within WP:1.0/I. Originally, the comment subpages were directly transcluded on pages such as Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Tropical cyclone articles by quality/1 in the listings. Due to technical reasons, they are now being linked instead of being transcluded, but the transclusion capability is slated to be re-enabled with wp10v2. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 21:02, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
    • What these pages were originally intended for and what they are actually being used for are not necessarily the same thing, but I'm afraid the usefulness of Talk:Eye (cyclone)/Comments (to pick one) is utterly lost on me; as far as I'm concerned, comments such as these belong on the talk page. But if these pages are primarily being used by WP:1.0, then I would suggest moving the lot of them to [[Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Comments/foo]], and transcluding them from {{WP1.0}} only. PC78 (talk) 22:43, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
      Even a signature and a date indicates that the rating has been revisited at least that recently, and by whom. Geometry guy 23:58, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment. Editors interested in WikiProject Mathematics' use of comments subpages need not go to the trouble of finding random samples of 50 pages to check. Instead you can visit Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Wikipedia_1.0 and its subpages such as Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Wikipedia_1.0/Algebra/Top, Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Wikipedia_1.0/Analysis, Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Wikipedia_1.0/A-Class_mathematics_articles and Wikipedia:WikiProject_Mathematics/Wikipedia_1.0/Frequently_viewed. Geometry guy 23:14, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
    • Hmmm, an example of a project using comments correctly (or at least usefully), perhaps, but there are alternatives. A mere date for the assessment could be placed directly in the banner; so too could an actual comment, or comments could be transcluded from a subpage of the project. Take Talk:Pierre de Fermat, for example: the comments subpage contains just a date, which might makes sense to you chaps at the Mathematics project, but when transcluded in the Biography and France banners also on that page, the same comment becomes confusing, obscure, and probably not even accurate as a date for the assessment. PC78 (talk) 23:40, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
      I agree that one drawback of the current set-up has always been that WikiProjects have to share the comments subpage of an article and all comments get transcluded by all banners. If this can be fixed while allowing WikiProjects which value dated, signed and commented ratings, to continue to use them, that would be helpful. Geometry guy 23:58, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
      I agree. And furthermore, one of the biggest drawbacks to the assessment scheme as set up was not having a way for people to sign and date their assessments (and even add a comment). This would have forced people to take responsibility for the assessment they were making. The absence of this led to rapid-fire "rough" assessments, with little structure present to lead people forward on a path of article improvement, but rather a "we've rated it, our job is done" attitude. If that could be turned around, it would be be far more useful than tearing down the current system. Carcharoth (talk) 00:57, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Assessments are meant to be rough though, particuarly at the bottom end of the scale. IMO it's not until you get to B-Class where constructive criticism becomes useful, and we have the B-Class checklists for that purpose. Most Stub-Class assessments are pretty obvious, and many of those are done by bots. I don't personally see any need for assessments to be signed and dated, or for an assessor to leave comment. Assessments can always be queried or changed if belived to be wrong, and there are numerous venues where people can seek feedback on an article. Let's be realistic: providing "rapid-fire" assessments to the 371,267 (at the last count) currently unassessed articles on Wikipedia would be a mammoth task in itself without pausing to comment on each and every one. PC78 (talk) 15:08, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I was involved in the setting up of the bot-assisted assessment scheme back in 2006, and so I was asked for feedback. Sorry I was slow in responding! In our early assessment work at WP:Chem we often found it useful in our tables to list what the main problems were for two reasons
  • The assessment may not be obvious. For example, if it's listed as Start for quite a long article, you might wonder why if you just glanced at the article. A brief comment like "needs better refs" can be very helpful when looking over a table of article assessments.
  • We used to use such comments as a pointer to the main work to be done, to raise the article to the "next level". For example, someone might see "needs better refs" in the comments column of the table, and work to fix that problem in that article.
That was a very different situation to where we are now. The reality today is that most projects do not use the tables as much as we expected - the stats table is much more popular! Also, many projects are dealing with thousands of articles. As a result, the comments are much less visible than we had anticipated, and therefore much less useful.
I like the compromises being discussed above. If there are projects that find the Comments feature useful, they should be allowed to continue, IMHO. However, we need to find a way to remove the feature in cases where the WikiProject is not actively using the feature, because for most projects it is the "god-awful" thing Happy-Melon refers to. I think Le Docteur makes an excellent point; also, Carcharoth's comment is spot-on about the need for assessors to provide more information on the article than a simple B or C - I think that was a big reason why I supported the /Comments proposal initially. I like DinoGuy1000's list of suggested action points, and I think we should make the default setting in banners be "Comments=off". I'd also add a handful of my own:
  • Solicit comments over at WT:1.0 (though I don't want to create a forked discussion!)
  • CBM will be upgrading the WP1.0 bot in 2-3 months' time; we could see if it's possible to limit comments to only those projects that use comments actively. We could also have /Comments edits listed in the WP1.0 Bot logs that WikiProjects review.
  • Maybe we should have an expiry date on comments, perhaps after one year?
Longer term, it would be nice to have a full review of how we carry out assessments, and how to streamline the process. In some cases, that may mean finding ways (technical or social) to get features like /Comments to function the way they were intended. But personally, I want to make sure I have three clear months of copious free time before I propose such a thing.....! Thanks for a great discussion, Walkerma (talk) 21:39, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
Aah, you raise a few points I hadn't considered, Walkerma!
One possible solution to the visibility problem is to have the bot generate another report specifically of articles with comments, and remove the comments column from the current assessment log pages. It would still be quite a bit of stuff for larger projects using comments, but it would at least be focused specifically on comments, allowing much closer review and response.
LiquidThreads is not long from being enabled on Wikipedia; when that happens, it will be possible to forgo the /Comments subpage system for a dedicated assessment thread which could then be linked directly from the banner. This would allow each project to maintain its own assessment comments locally, would get rid of the unwatched subpages, and would allow for direct discussion, all in one fell swoop (it's actually such a Good Idea™, I'm amazed no one else mentioned it earlier). ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 22:01, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

Section break[edit]

Ok, I think we're coming to an agreement here. For a first step, I have removed the "forced comments" functionality from WPBM, so nonexistent comments pages are not redlinked and their creation is not actively encouraged. At some point I will also delete the three groups of pages I listed above (empty, unlinked and ancient). Is there a more general plan to proceed from there? Happymelon 11:52, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

The deletion of pages requires specific community discussion. In particular, deleting Comments pages older than January 2007 is flawed because in slow moving areas, the comments are often still relevant. Further, comments pages may be unlinked because of page moves (prior to the "move all subpages" option); these may also contain useful information. Drawing attention to relevant WikiProjects of broken links would be a much more helpful approach than deleting the pages. Geometry guy 23:44, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
True, an Miscellany for deletion would need to be opened at some stage. However we are still quite a long way away from that as we first have to work out what to do with the content of all these pages and then get a bot to deal with it. Gguy, I appeciate that you value these comments pages, but the consensus here is that they are not the best way of doing things. I recommend helping to work out the best way forward rather than the stick-in-the-mud approach. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 14:10, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
I encourage you to ensure that your thinking is shared by Happy melon, who seemed poised to act and move on to the next stage. Nothing in my above post is stick-in-the-mud: I provided helpful and positive suggestions, and wish to ensure that good faith and often useful contributions to the encyclopedia are not deleted "at some point" without discussion or consideration of better options. Geometry guy 22:02, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
My suggestion would be that a system of "inline" comments be developed so that, for WikiProjects who wish to use comments, the contents of each /Comments page may be substituted into a comments parameter in their banner (example below). This makes the comments project-specific and eliminates the need to have a separate page. This would only be suitable when the comments are reasonably short, but from what I read here it seems that they were only ever intended to be for short comments (or even just a signature). — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 12:00, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
WikiProject Lithuania (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Lithuania, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Lithuania on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This page does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This page has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
 
Note icon
Review comments: This article needs better references. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 12:03, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Of course, we could keep the current appearance (but without the navigation links), e.g.
WikiProject Middle Ages (Rated Start-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Middle Ages, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the Middle Ages on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
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Since I came to the realization of its potential applicability to this, I'm still pulling for exploiting LiquidThreads in some capacity. ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 18:35, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
True, there may well be features of that extension which can be expolited here. However, we don't know when it may be enabled, and even when it is enabled, it will likely take some time adjusting to it before we can decide the best approach. Are there any disadvantages with my proposed method of dealing with this? — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 18:48, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't think so, it looks good to me. And it's true that there's no deployment schedule for the extension yet, but it is being beta-tested on one of the testing wikis, so it's probably a good bet we'll see it enabled here within six months. ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 19:16, 27 October 2009 (UTC)
It's not going to be ideal for any comments of substantial length, though. PC78 (talk) 10:54, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I suppose you are right. I was thinking that, (for the second approach above, at least) the display would not be any longer and so would not cause any problems. However, if it was any more than a short paragraph of text, it would make the template syntax rather difficult to follow. So, on reflection, perhaps our approach should depend on the size of the /Comments page:
  • if the size is 1kB or more then the contents are substituted on the talk page under a suitable heading
  • if the size is under 1kB then the contents are placed inside a comments parameter on every WikiProject banner template on the talk page. (If a particular project decides not to use comments, then the contents of this parameter can be ignored.)
I don't think that the former method would be appropriate in all cases, because there are quite of lot of these pages which contain nothing but a signature and date - hardly worth pasting into a new thread on the talk page. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 14:20, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't see any consensus here for even the deletion that Happy-melon describes. What we have is a large number of Comments pages, ranging from 'empty' to 'appears empty but useful stuff in the page history', to 'in use', to 'currently in a vandalised state'. And little way of distinguishing between them. The option that appears to have most consensus is substituting the comments to the current talk page and then deleting. I object to that because it destroys the contributions histories. There are also problems because it may indiscriminately copy vandalism onto active talk pages. There is also the question of useful comments hidden in talk page histories. What I suggest is the following:
  • (1) Inform all WikiProjects this feature has been disabled for future use, and ask which WikiProjects are using these pages. Wait a month for replies, and then filter out the pages that are in use and tag them as such. This stage may prove impractical, so skipping to stage two may be needed.
  • (2) Set up a bot to turn all or a subset of Comments pages into redirects to the talk page of the article, giving in the edit summary a diff to an explanation of what is being done here. Simultaneously, the bot should leave a message on the article talk page that a Comments page exists, that it may or may not contain useful review information, and that those wanting to view that information should view the history of the Comments page (with a link both to the page history, and to the page immediately before it was turned into a redirect).
And that's it. Possibly protecting the redirects to prevent future resurrection of this system without wide-ranging consensus. Carcharoth (talk) 08:23, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
That's a useful reply and might be a good route forwards. Here is a possible refinement of your proposal with more detail:
  1. Find a bot that can deliver a message to all the projects which maintain a category for articles with comments. (This list has been compiled by WOSlinker.)
  2. In the message, the project is informed that the comments functionality is changing and is given an option:
    • Remove all functionality. (This will be the default if there is no reply.)
    • Continue using comments as an inline parameter. Support for this can then be added to the project banner.
    • If a project really wants to continue using separate pages, then it is possible to use subpages of their WikiProject (but I don't think this approach should be encouraged).
  3. Wait a month.
  4. For the projects that choose to use a comments parameter, on each page (if the size of the /Comments page is less than 1kB) substitute the contents of the page into the template code. Compile a list of pages which were "oversized" for each project to review.
  5. Redirect all /Comments pages to the talk page. Leave a note on each talk page, as Carcharoth describes above.
  6. Remove default support for /Comments subpages from WikiProject banner templates.
  7. Perhaps after a year, it may be assumed that any useful information has served its purpose and deletion of the pages can start.
— Martin (MSGJ · talk) 23:17, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I have drafted a message to post on WikiProject talk pages. Any help in copy-editing or making it clearer would be appreciated. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 19:25, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Drafted message looks good. Agree with your more detailed proposal, except point 7. It makes little sense to delete the pages (even after a year), especially if you are leaving a talk page message pointing people to the history of the redirect. Deletion destroys contribution histories. Would you suggest deleting some of the oldest talk pages because "it may be assumed that any useful information has served its purpose"? If not, then these pages shouldn't be deleted either. Of course, if there are pages where the page history is only vandalism, then by all means delete, but don't assume currently empty pages only have vandalism in the page history (or have no page history). Carcharoth (talk) 00:34, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay, well point 7 can be left to a future time if a MfD is ever opened on these pages. It's certainly not important at this stage. Personally I would still prefer to substitute the contents on the talk page, as it is easier to read than having to check the history, but I don't think it's that important. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 16:20, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Ratings are meant to be WikiProject-specific[edit]

In general, WikiProject ratings are up to individual WikiProjects to decide upon. If some project wants to use comments subpages, that is their prerogative.If some other project wants to invent a D rating, that is their prerogative as well. Other projects are not required to use these things. The WP 1.0 system is not intended to be a top-down ratings system, it is intended to be a bottom-up system in which each WikiProject does what it feels is best. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:17, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Ratings generally are WikiProject specific; that isn't the issue here. I wouldn't have so much of a problem with comments pages if they were project specific, but they aren't, we're talking about common pages that are shared by any project which places it's banner on a talk page. We just need a better way of doing things. If coments were moved into project space, they could be specific to each WikiProject, and I'll bet they would be better mainatined as well. PC78 (talk) 14:45, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
If a particular project wants to not share the comments page, but wants to have their own page, all they have to do is change their template to use their own page. — Carl (CBM · talk) 14:18, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, yes, but the issue here is whether or not we should have shared comments pages to begin with, and concensus so far seems to be leaning towards "no". PC78 (talk) 23:38, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
You could always adjust the banner to display a subpage in project space, e.g. Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Mathematics/Comments/Parseval's theorem instead of Talk:Parseval's theorem/Comments, although I think the additional page is probably unnecessarily bureaucratic. An inline comment would work just as well, and I'm sure a bot wouldn't have a problem to read the contents of the parameter if lists of these are required. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 22:45, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

From Template talk:WPBannerMeta[edit]

Personally I'd rather see /comments subpages deprecated, or at least better implemented... PC78 (talk) 17:51, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Concur fully. Horrible idea, no idea why it ever gained traction. Happymelon 15:34, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
But with thousands of these subpages in existence, you'll never get rid of them now. The best we can do is encourage new projects not to use them, and/or to propose the removal of the |COMMENTS_FORCE= parameter. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 11:25, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
That sounds a little defeatist. :) We could seek concensus to deprecate their usage, and/or stop banners from transcluding the subpage at all. PC78 (talk) 16:20, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I see this was also proposed at the village pump, with no response there yet. I think it's realism rather than defeatism. Basically these pages represent hundreds or even thousands of editor-hours and for that reason there is no way you're going to get rid of them. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 12:21, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
It was only proposed 24 hours ago ;) (and thanks for the link). We don't need to get rid of old ones, just stop transcluding them everywhere and stop creating new ones. PC78 (talk) 12:34, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
FYI there are 25,192 such subpages [1] (caution: 1 mb page). –xenotalk 12:56, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Would it be possible to find out if any of those are empty pages? PC78 (talk) 22:34, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
Only 470, unfortunately: [2]. Happymelon 08:39, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I only get 25,114 /Comments and 11 /comments, for a total of 25,125. Progress? :D Happymelon 08:43, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Pity. Would those 470 not be eligible for speedy deletion? PC78 (talk) 10:39, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Not unless the editor who blanked them is the only editor of the page. Anyway, I altered the code recently so that blank pages are treated the same as non-existent pages, so I don't think it's worth worrying about. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 10:52, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I'd check their history and the main talk page, and if the issues which had been on the subpage had been resolved prior to blanking (or if it had never had any substantial content in the first place), I would probably speedy it under G6, general housekeeping (although I could be wrong about the proper way to handle them). ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 16:35, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Ah, so here originate the replies to my proposal at the Village Pump from ;-) I was looking at the place where those /coments links on Wikiproject headers were generated, and ended here. The template itself is not the easiest, and used on a massive amount of pages, so I am a bit wary of simply removing the |COMMENTS, |COMMENTS_CAT and |COMMENTS_FORCE sections, which would do the trick for most project headers (there are a few which have this functionality directly in their templates, instead of using this one). If people here cuold either guide my on what to do and what not to do in the template, or simply do the necessary changes themselves, that would be great. If you prefer more discussion first, and/or subst of all comments pages first, then we should check what to do first and how to proceed. Fram (talk) 13:00, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

S'allright, we know how to dig the comments functionality out of the banner when we have consensus to do so. Given that that's a change that will affect 25,000 pages overtly (and thousands more less obviously), I think we all think that a bit more time is needed to establish a consensus; and probably to deprecate this functionality in an orderly way. Happymelon 13:31, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
What's the most orderly way to do it, then? It seems to me the best bet is first to make the template stop encouraging the creation of new /comment pages, but I'm not sure if it should also stop linking to existing pages... Thoughts? ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 18:25, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Removing forced comments would be a good move, IMO, but we'll need to build a proper concensus for anything drastic. Some projects will no doubt want to keep comments in their banners, so it would be as well to explore the alternatives as well. I've seen some banners with a |comment= parameter which allows them to be typed straight into the banner without the need for a subpage. Alternatively, the subpages could be relocated in project space. As I said at VP, these comments subpages are either specific to a certain project or they are not, but either way they aren't something that should be transcluded in all project banners on a given page. PC78 (talk) 23:03, 16 October 2009 (UTC)
Since I've had some time to think about this, I think the following is a decent plan of action:
  1. Stop WPBM from encouraging creation of new /Comments subpages - this would probably only be a temporary measure until cleanup on existing subpages is finished; individual projects which still want the functionality would have to weigh in somewhere
  2. Delete those subpages outlined by Happy-melon on VPP (bot work?)
  3. Review remaining subpages, substituting or simply deleting where appropriate (maybe this should happen after the next step, so that unwanted subpages don't require a second run to find and delete)
  4. Send requests to all projects which have been using the subpages, giving a brief overview of the situation and asking if they still want the functionality (provide a link to where they should comment; no reply equals silent consensus to stop using the functionality for their own banner) - it should also link to the category for existing subpages with a count of how many currently exist
  5. Functionality in the banner gets updated as follows:
    • All /Comments subpages get created as subpages of projects, instead of article talk pages - allows each project to maintain its own comments standards or whatever
    • An editnotice gets displayed every time a /Comments page is created, advising that it may be better to add the comments directly to the article's talk page
    • A preload template is offered for new subpages (not so sure on this one)
All of this, of course, is pursuant to a consensus to actually take large-scale action on /Comments subpages, and is open to adjustment or refinement before being deployed. Thoughts? (will cross-post to VPP in a minute) ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 17:40, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
You should also note that there are other non-WPBannerMeta banners that should be changed as well:
WOSlinker (talk) 17:59, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps we need a hook so that projects can continue to use these pages (at least until they've sorted out what they're going to do with them all) when they are disabled by default in the template? — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 10:31, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
We don't transclude comments with {{Comicsproj}}. That's one issue off your plate. Furthermore, I deprecated comments back in August, so we don't even use them. Hiding T 15:32, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
So all /Comments subpages left over from WP:COMICS can simply be deleted (if there are any left, and assuming the WP:COMICS banner is the only one on the article talk page which supported the subpages)? ダイノガイ千?!? · Talk⇒Dinoguy1000 18:05, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
I should think they need to be put on the talk page of the article first, and then deleted, if that's the way people go. I see more harm in deleting them than in retaining them as they are. Hiding T 20:24, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Is there a list about? I could work through it, I can't imagine it would be large. Hiding T 20:33, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I've gone through my contribs and sorted those out, let me know of any outstanding. Hiding T 21:37, 20 October 2009 (UTC)
Should look at switching off comments on banners that don't even use them and the remove the comments category as well, see User:WOSlinker/comments for a list of the comments categories and the number of pages in each. -- WOSlinker (talk) 18:16, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Implementation[edit]

I have just completed the deprecation/deletion process for Wikipedia:WikiProject New Jersey and thought I would mention some key points to make the process easier for others who are moving forward with the process.

  • I made a list at Wikipedia:WikiProject New Jersey/Deprecation of comments that transcluded the contents of all /Comments pages for review.
  • I started a discussion (now archived) at the project talk page to alert other editors of the process
  • Once the project has decided to proceed, I added a new section to every talk page affected called Assessment Comments that contained an explaination and used {{subst:/Comments}} to move all of the comments to the talk page. See Talk:West Orange, New Jersey for an example.
  • At this point, the |COMMENT= and |COMMENT_FORCE= parameters should be removed from the WikiProject banner to avoid transcluding the deletion tags to all of the talk pages
  • When tagging the /Comments pages for deletion, the syntax should be <noinclude>{{db-g6|rationale=Deprecated page per [[Wikipedia:Discontinuation of comments subpages]]; comments already substed to talk page.}}</noinclude> or some similar rationale.

The use of noinclude around the CSD tag is to prevent other project banners that still have the |COMMENT= parameter from including the talk page in Category:Candidates for speedy deletion. I did not do this when I did the 102 pages from WPNJ, and all of the talk pages showed as CSD candidates. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 19:23, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks that is helpful. Maybe you could create a new section on the subject page about removing comments on a per-project basis. And if you could give me a hand we can probably get this thing moving again? — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 19:32, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
I would like to see this move forward. I am about to head out of town and will have limited time over the weekend to do anything at WP, but will revisit this next week. I completed the WPNJ pages today due to a CfD discussion that reminded me of this process. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 19:40, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

About 3 months ago I also went through this process with WP:VG. I first sought input from all relevant WikiProjects. In discussion prior to deleting the comments pages, the topic of edit history attribution came up and was discussed in some detail. At least one editor was concerned that the history of editors' comments on the Comments subpage would be lost and that they should be preserved if possible. With this in mind, WP:HISTMERGE was requested for 14 of the 38 subpages and the remainder were subst'ed and CFD-G6'ed. All 38 subpages were eventually merged and deleted. Details of my efforts can be found Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Video games/Archive 109#VG comments subpages. -Thibbs (talk) 13:28, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Interesting - thanks. The history merges would have made the process twice as complicated, and is largely unnecessary in my opinion. It's probably easiest just to redirect the /Comments page (rather than deleting it) which would preserve the history (just in case anyone is interested). — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 17:45, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Notes[edit]

Following a request on VPT we now have two lists of edits to /Comments subpages in the past year:

These indicate to me that no one is systematically using these pages for the purpose they were intended. Most of the edits are moves alongside the corresponding article, or maintenance to redirects. There are relatively few which relate to adding comments. I think it's high time to get rid of them. I have a plan. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 09:19, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

Plan[edit]

Make a request for bot to redirect these pages to the relevant talk page, substituting any content on the talk page (and linking to the history for attribution purposes). — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 09:19, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

I've made a possible template Template:Substituted comment, which could be substituted onto article talk pages, and provides a link to the history. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 09:34, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

Bot request has been made. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 09:47, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

Template:Substituted comment has been adjusted and is now working well. I used it to process Category:Agriculture articles with comments and substitute each comment on the article talk page. See Talk:Forestry#Assessment comment for example. The next step is to redirect the /Comments subpage to the article talk page, but I haven't figured out how to do that with AWB yet. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 22:17, 20 March 2016 (UTC)
I have updated the subject page with details of how the process will work. I have a bot operator ready and willing to deploy. Could people just confirm that they support this task? I'm pinging anyone whose username appears on this page: User:CBM, User:Carcharoth, User:Cenarium, User:Dinoguy1000, User:Equazcion, User:Fram, User:Happy-melon, User:Hiding, User:JimMillerJr, User:Jreferee, User:Le Docteur, User:PC78, User:RDBury, User:Rd232, User:Risker, User:Thibbs, User:Titoxd, User:WOSlinker, User:Walkerma, User:Xeno — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 19:53, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support, looks sensible. One of the annoying things of the old system is that the /Comments subpages would not show up on watchlists, and we never really figured out a way of dealing with that. Titoxd(?!?) 21:15, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
    One of the many annoying things I think ;) — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 21:53, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support, as should be obvious from my comments above, back when this was first being discussed. These pages are years overdue for going away; let's make it happen already. ディノ千?!? · ☎ Dinoguy1000 22:33, 21 March 2016 (UTC)
  • yeah sure not around much but it looks like a good idea long overdue. Hiding T 22:33, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Support the above plan, this is long overdue. PC78 (talk) 23:48, 24 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Some discussion is taking place now at Wikipedia:Bots/Requests for approval/JJMC89 bot 4. Any input from editors above would be valued. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 23:54, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this, with the caveats that
    1. the content should be migrated respecting chronology.
    2. a broader set of opinions be canvassed.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:29, 3 April 2016 (UTC).
The discussion above was very broad (I count at least 21 editors who commented). — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 09:13, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
One thing I've noticed with all these substitutions over the last day or two is that although the intention of /Comments subpages was for explaining assessments, a large number were actually used for general article improvement comments not related to assessment, such as (for an actor) "He also appeared in Foo on The Bar Network last year - that should be mentioned". --Redrose64 (talk) 09:41, 30 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes, they've been used for all sorts of purposes, and some probably never read by anyone. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 08:14, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

Task completed[edit]

Just to note that this task has largely been completed and approximately seventeen thousand comments have been substituted and redirected. There may be a few more trickling through the job queue, and then one final query of the database to find any others. (Any subpages of talk pages without WikiProject banners would not have been detected yet.) — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 08:24, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

And with the last few cleaned up, this task is now complete. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 08:38, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
@MSGJ: I found one that you missed - have a look at the previous version to see the error message. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:14, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 20:55, 11 October 2016 (UTC)