Community Wishlist Survey 2016/Status report 1

2016 Community Wishlist Survey status report #1: October 4, 2017

Hello everyone! This is the first report on the Wikimedia Foundation's Community Tech team's work based on the results of the 2016 Community Wishlist Survey.

In November and December, more than 1,100 Wikimedia contributors participated in the Community Wishlist Survey, proposing and voting on 265 wishes. The Community Tech team is responsible for investigating and addressing the top 10 wishes on the list during this year, as well as some projects that are important for smaller groups of contributors.

The year so far


First, a quick thumbnail of the year so far:

In the top 10...

Completed 5 wishes:

Currently working on 3 wishes:

  • Wish #3: Section heading URLs for non-Latin languages — The work has been completed, but the changes will take a couple months to propagate across all the pages. We expect to see the first changes in late October, with everything completed by late November.
  • Wish #4: Global preferences — Currently in active development; we expect this to be completed by the end of the year.

Still investigating 2 wishes:

Projects for smaller groups

There are also some non-wishlist projects that the Community Tech team has been working on for smaller groups:

  • For English WP New Pages Patrol: ACTRIAL research, related to Wish #14: Article Creation Workflow

Also, the Anti-Harassment Tools team — the other half of Community Tech — has been working on:

  • User Mute features in notifications and email, to allow users to better control who can communicate with them on-wiki and via their personal email.
  • Currently working on an Interaction Timeline feature to facilitate more efficient user conduct investigations. Please see the page to give feedback on the current plans!



Rewrite XTools


Wish #5 is to update and maintain the popular XTools suite of wiki curation and moderation tools originally developed by User:X! and rewritten by User:Hedonil. Both have retired, and aren't able to maintain these tools anymore.

Community Tech has teamed up with User:Matthewrbowker to rewrite the tools, making them more stable and reliable.

This includes nine tools:

All of these tools have been rewritten and improved, and they're live now. it ((Rel))

Wikitext editor syntax highlighting

Screenshot of syntax highlighting in English.

Wish #6 is to make it easier for contributors to edit wikitext by using colors and shade to make it easier to visually separate article text from the code for links, references and templates. This will help editors working on paragraphs with many references, or complicated templates where it's easy to miss a curly brace and mess up the template. We're using an extension called CodeMirror for this, which was created by volunteer developer Pastakhov.

Syntax highlighting is now available on all projects using left-to-right languages, and can be turned on in Beta Features. It works in both the regular and new wikitext mode. The team is currently working on making syntax highlighting available for right-to-left languages as well.

Warning on unsuccessful login attempts


Wish#7 is to improve security on Wikimedia sites by notifying the user when there are multiple unsuccessful attempts to login with that username.

Extension:LoginNotify was created by Brian Wolff (User:Bawolff) in 2016; Community Tech modified the extension with new messages and settings, and deployed the feature.

There are three kinds of notifications: failed login attempts from a known device, failed login attempts from an unknown device, and successful attempts from an unknown device. Each notification type can be delivered by web (Echo notifications) or by email. For the failed login attempts, the web notification is on by default. The successful logins, the email notification is on by default. These settings are configurable in the notification preferences.

The popular pages report for Wikipedia:WikiProject Spiders

Wish #9 is to help WikiProject contributors on English Wikipedia gain deeper understanding of which article pages are popular among readers. The bot posts monthly updates of the most read pages within a WikiProject for the previous calendar month, the pageviews, the article's assessment and its importance. An example report can be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject Spiders/Popular pages.

The original bot was created by volunteer developer Mr. Z-man. Community Tech rewrote the bot, and made a couple improvements. The bot now uses an on-wiki configuration system, and also outputs the total monthly pageviews for the WikiProject.

The bot is live on English Wikipedia and actively processing nearly 800 projects per month.

User rights expiration


Wish #10 is for functionaries to set an expiration date when a user is given a temporary user right. Volunteer developer This, that and the other completed this wish, and it's live on all projects.

Add a button in the watchlist to remove pages

Buttons in the watchlist to remove pages

Wish #11 is to help contributors remove a page from their watchlist, using a button that's available on the watchlist.

This was completed by volunteer developer Sn1per, and can be turned on in watchlist preferences.

Wikisource: Internet Archive Upload tool

Main article: wikitech:Tool:IA Upload

The IA Upload tool is a simple web-based tool for transferring (and creating where required) DjVu files from the Internet Archive to Wikimedia Commons, for use on Wikisources. Community Tech built this tool, which is available at

Range contributions


Range contributions is a new tool on the Special:Contributions page that allows you to view the contributions for an entire IP address range. This helps admins and checkusers who are blocking an IP range to make sure that they're not blocking innocent people contributing from that range. Community Tech built this functionality, and it's live on all projects.

Main article: mw:Autoblock#Tracking

Cookie blocking is a feature that helps admins enforce user blocks. Whenever an autoblock is created, an associated cookie is stored in the user's browser. This makes it more difficult for users to work around autoblocks by changing their IP address. Community Tech built this functionality, which is now live on all projects.

Current projects


Edit summary length for non-Latin languages


Wish #2 aims to give contributors in non-Latin languages more available space for writing edit summaries. Edit summaries are measured in bytes, rather than characters, and non-Latin characters (such as Cyrillic, Semitic, CJK, Indic etc.) often take up multiple bytes, which means that they can use fewer characters and must write much shorter edit summaries. Currently, edit summaries are limited to 255 bytes, but we should limit it to 255 characters instead.

Brad Jorsch (Anomie) is working on this task. It involves many steps, all of which are tracked at task T166733. In September, Brad completed task 166732 (refactor comment storage in the database and abstract access in MediaWiki). The next task to complete is task T174569 (make the database schema changes on the production databases). Another major part will be updating all the extensions to start using the new storage. Once the extensions are updated, we can start flipping the switches to write to the new table. Community Tech will help coordinate the extension updates.

Section heading URLs for non-Latin languages


Wish #3 aims to fix a problem that's very annoying for Wikimedia contributors in non-Latin languages — that URLs pointing to section headings replace each character with incomprehensible four-character codes.

The first step in this process (adding Unicode section IDs into the HTML) is finished, but it will take about a month for the server-side caches of all the pages to update. Once that's done towards the end of October we'll start step 2, which will actually start changing link behavior on the sites. This will also take a month. We expect all of this to be complete around the end of November.

Global preferences

A video showing how you can switch from Preferences to GlobalPreferences, and back again. Some elements of the design have changed.

Wish #4 is to make it easier for contributors who work on multiple wikis to set some of their preferences once, and have that setting apply across all wikis. The prime example is setting the interface language — without global preferences, a user whose primary language is French has to change the language in their preferences on Meta, Commons, Wikidata, Spanish Wikipedia, etc. For people whose work involves multiple wikis — functionaries, developers, program organizers, gadget creators — this is a tedious step that should be handled automatically.

Community Tech's work is building on the GlobalPreferences extension, which was created by Kunal Mehta (User:Legoktm). The team is rewriting some of the backend code, and making some changes to the user interface.

Version 2 of this feature will add the ability to make local exceptions, when you'd like to set a global preference, but use a different preference on one or more individual wikis.

Grant metrics tool

Wireframe for the grant metrics tool, currently in development

Community Tech is currently working with the Community Resources department to create a simple, easy to use tool for Wikimedia Foundation grant recipients for calculating and reporting the impact of their work.

Using the grant metrics tool, grantees will be able to add the information that they have about their program — the participants' usernames, the list of pages that have been created or updated, and/or the talk page templates that their program used — and then calculate the following: the total number of participants, number of new participants, retention of new participants, pages created, and pages updated. Grantees will be able to export their data as a CSV file, and as a wikitext table.

ACTRIAL research

Main article: Research:ACTRIAL

ACTRIAL is an experiment proposed on English Wikipedia six years ago, to measure the effects of redirecting brand-new users who want to create a new page to post it in Drafts space, rather than the main namespace. When a non-autoconfirmed user — users that have registered less than four days ago, and/or made less than ten edits — follows a redlink or navigates to a nonexisting article page, they're redirected to a landing page that has links to the sandbox, a community portal page, and the Article wizard.

This experiment is currently underway, as a community initiative led by the English Wikipedia New pages patrol. The switch was made on September 14th, and will last for six months.

Community Tech is analyzing the effects of this change on new account activity and retention, new article quality, and quality assurance processes like the New pages patrol. Our researcher, Morten Warncke-Wang (User:Nettrom), has created a list of hypotheses that we're testing, and prepared pre-trial stats. (See Research:Autoconfirmed article creation trial for lots of information.) Morten will be using data from the trial's first 4 weeks (Sept 14–Oct 11) to write a research report that will be published on that Research page on Meta, as well as some popular discussion hubs, later in the year.

Not started yet


Global gadgets


Wish #1 is Global gadgets, a way to share user-created gadgets among different projects. This is a long-time community wish that's very difficult to achieve. We'll be posting our analysis of the feature ideas later this year.


Wish #8 is for the Internet Archive to automatically keep a snapshot of an external reference that's cited in Wikipedia articles, and then add a link to the archived page in the reference template. Most of this functionality is already being done by the Internet Archive and by Cyberbot II, a bot created by volunteer developer Cyberpower678. We'll post an analysis of the extra functionality requested in this wish later this year.

The team


The Community Tech team is a Wikimedia Foundation product team focused on meeting the needs of active Wikimedia contributors for improved, expert-focused curation and moderation tools. The creation of the Community Tech team is a direct outcome of requests from core contributors for improved support for moderation tools, bots, and the other features that help the Wikimedia projects succeed. The team works closely with contributors, volunteer developers, and the Community Engagement department.

The team includes Ryan Kaldari (tech lead), Danny Horn (product manager), Niharika Kohli, Leon Ziemba, Sam Wilson, Max Semenik (developers) and Johan Jönsson (community liaison). Our projects are often collaborations with volunteer developers, and other Wikimedia dev teams.

The Anti-Harassment Tools sub-team, which focuses on the Community Health Initiative, includes Trevor Bolliger (product manager), Caroline Sinders (product analyst), Dayllan Maza (developer), David Barratt (developer), and Sydney Poore (community advocate).