Help us design our next-generation discussion system

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This post is available in 2 languages

Flow logo.png

Flow is a planned improvement to discussion and collaboration in the MediaWiki software. The project is currently in the design phase and the Wikimedia Foundation is actively seeking feedback and suggestions about how to make the best possible product for you, our community of contributors.

There are many reasons for us to revamp our discussion and collaboration system, but for now we’re going to focus on three primary use cases:

  • Users expect and deserve a modern and intuitive discussion interface: Talk pages—as a discussion technology—are antiquated and user-hostile. Experienced editors lose a lot of valuable time dealing with people who can’t figure out how to reply to messages or who need assistance with things like signing their posts.
  • Users are surprised by the cultural norms of the community: Many things about the culture that has grown up around talk pages (such as “talkback” templates or being able to change other people’s comments) are confusing or inefficient.
  • We believe that a modern user-to-user discussion system will improve the projects: Better methods for collaboration will improve collaboration, which will help good editors be more productive.

We have set up three “portals” where people can go to get more information and to leave feedback. At these portals, you will find links to detailed user tests, use cases and other kinds of research, as well as visions about what Flow can become.

The portals are:

In order to help you get a feel for how Flow might work, we’ve built an interactive prototype. Please note that this is only a demo and is not reflective of the final product, which may look and behave entirely different. Nothing will be saved on the prototype and you can’t really break it so have fun!

Please read more about the Flow prototype, what it can do, what is planned and known issues with it at one of these locations:

How can I help?

I’m glad you asked.

We are actively seeking feedback of all kinds from our user community. This is not restricted to our editors — readers are welcome to comment, too! There are many, many use cases and scenarios that we want to account for and we need to know what those are. We’re interested in hearing about anything that is important to you. Your concerns, your enthusiasm, your ideas for features.

It is very important for us that you be involved in helping to design this bold step, so please go to the portal of your choice and get involved in the conversation.

Brandon Harris, Senior Designer, Wikimedia Foundation

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6 Comments on Help us design our next-generation discussion system

Simon Tennant 2 years

Totally agree that chat is broken. We have been trying to solve this problem at buddycloud.

We’ve been looking at how to solve this:
– with a clean protocol that anyone can implement.
– by building libraries and demo’s that use those libraries (for example: https://demo.buddycloud.org/team@topics.buddycloud.org)
– in a distributed/federated way – users have the flexibility to use their own identity via Persona
– with a strong push for mobile mobile with push notifications (https://github.com/buddycloud/buddycloud-android/blob/master/README.md and https://buddycloud.org/wiki/buddycloud_HTTP_API#.2Fnotification_settings)

I’d love the opportunity to help build a solution.

Jay 2 years

OMG too much embarrasing typos in the Spanish translation! Ugh.

Tim Ruijters 2 years

Prototype looks great! I was wondering who decides on what use cases the community will work on? Where can I find an overview of other use cases and a timeline?

Regards,

Tim

YA 2 years

Wow, finally. I can’t remember who it was that pointed it out to me, but the current way discussions are had on Wikipaedia (and most other MediaWiki sites that don’t use the fancy extension) is godawful. At long last, we can have a proper forum on MediaWiki, officially supported and promoted by Wikimedia (otherwise, no-one will notice it!).

I would suggest you look at Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/), a new-generation open source web forum software package. It is really the way forward in my view. While it is very JavaScript-heavy, I’m sure most of the functionality could be replicated with bog-standard HTML 4.01 (which, AFAIK, MW currently uses).

Karen 2 years

I would like to be a part of this team. Please let me know how I can contribute since I love researching in this webmaster’s den. Please include me in the overall vision (big picture).

Best Regards,
Karen

William Maples 2 years

I want to be a part of this…. I helped keep the Cool Cat away, so I would like you to contact me and teach me how we can make this work for everyone.

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