Email from Johan, Dec 15 edit
This would certainly make it easier to keep track of what newcomers or potential vandals are doing, to help or hinder them, but it's potentially controversial. It wouldn't add any data that isn't there already, but it would certainly make stalking other users easier. I'm surprised it was so uncontroversial in the survey, so maybe the vast majority of Wikimedians would support it, given that the edit history of any user is open for anyone anyway, but we certainly need to have a wider discussion with the community if we want to implement this.
Notes from preliminary assessment meeting, Dec 17 edit
Technically straightforward, but socially difficult. Concerns about people stalking specific users and reverting or questioning their good-faith edits. Maybe just for admins?
What's the difference between the watchlist and looking at someone's contributions? The information is all public anyway. The difference is that this makes it a lot easier to do, and with multiple people.
We need to talk with community advocacy, folks who have been active in working on harassment issues. They'll have a good idea of the risk assessment, and we can talk about whether limiting this to admins would be enough.
Is there a way to make this opt-in for people being watched? This would be useful for classroom, mentorship and editathon situations. If it's fully consensual, then that would be more comfortable.
Another option is to make it opt-out, but realistically that means newbies will almost be opted in.
So why did people vote for this? 63 support votes, vs 2 oppose. There are clearly good-faith problems that they want to solve.
- As an admin, I want to be able to check on potentially problematic editors at some time in the future.
- As an experienced user, I want to follow each step of a newbie I'm coaching, to fix their edits, assist in their discussions, provide guidance in general, without having to watchlist all the pages they may edit, so that all my time is spent helping them
- As a wiki trainer with dozens people to follow, I want to have a page where to have an overview of their complete activity, controlled by a "central" list of usernames which I can just edit/past in a single place. I can then act on specific edits/pages/users or just know what's going on overall. -- User:MER-C
Most of the support votes that included a comment mentioned vandalism.
We need to look into this, have more community conversations about this idea. Is there a way to give people the good-faith tool that they want, without making life easier for harassers?
The proposal and several voters suggested limiting the tool to admins, or a special user group. But there's a legit question about admin security. Admins are held to a higher level of scrutiny, but it's a diverse group, and the use of this tool is invisible to others. Abuse of this system would be very difficult to spot.
This can definitely work as an opt-in system for the classroom, mentorship, editathon and WikiProject use cases.
We need a design for the UI -- setting up a user watchlist, adding and removing people, viewing the watchlist, opting-in and -out. "Invitation" style talk page message when someone wants to add you?
Dev Summit notes, Jan 5 edit
We should get use cases from Chris S (teahouse/mentorship), Alex S (editathons), Kacie H.
Discoverability: Put the hook on the Contributions page. "Ask to follow"?
Talk page suggestion, Feb 14 edit
"Had you considered making it possible to track edits from IP editors only? This would maximise its counter-vandalism utility and reduce the scope for harassment - as a high proportion of IP edits are vandalism, and not many unregistered editors are regular contributors who stick with the same IP."
Danny, Feb 17 edit
One possibility: One general "opt-in" switch in preferences, rather than having to specifically connect to an opt-in request filed by another user. The downside is that if people think of this feature as a possible harassment tool, then opting in for an editathon essentially puts you on the list of people that anyone can follow. It could lead to people advising newcomers not to opt in. So: probably not, but worth some more thought. :)
Danny, March 3 edit
There is currently a "Range Contribs" tool on Tool Labs that appears to offer the functionality required here. This is not an opt-in tool; a user can just input a list of user names, and generate a list of contributions, including breakdowns for each contributor. We'll talk to some people from Programs and Resources to learn more about how people are currently using this tool for editathons and courses.
Wiki Education Foundation dashboard also has tools that help to track the contributions of students in wiki ed classes. If we need more info on this, Adam W has worked on it, and Sage is running the program.
Meeting with Amanda, March 18 edit
Danny talked to Amanda B in Program Evaluation about Programs and Events support that our team may be able to help with starting in July, if we can get some additional resources in the new fiscal year.
One project that we can help with is the Wikipedia Education Program Dashboard -- Adam W has wrapped up his work for now, and there's more features and improvements that are needed. I think this dashboard will fit the "editathon/course" use case that we've been thinking about.
Hackathon, April 3 edit
We've been thinking about this project as two use cases -- the on-wiki tracking vandalism use case (which would have to be opt-out), and the editathon/course use case (opt-in).
I think the Wikipedia Education Program Dashboard will be our response to the second one, but Benoit pointed out that there's a third use case -- on-wiki mentoring, not connected to a class. This will require an opt-in version on-wiki.