Community Wishlist Survey 2021/Admins and patrollers/Watchlist of users

Watchlist of users

  • Problem: Vandals are hard to follow, as are new users.
  • Who would benefit: Better control of new users and vandals.
  • Proposed solution: At the very least, for administrators, it would be necessary to have a "user watchlist".
  • More comments: When we are reviewing articles, many times we see a user who has done something wrong, or has entered wrong data. We write a message to him in his discussion, and we watch the edits he makes for a while, to see if he has improved in his attitude. However, when you have written to many users, it is almost impossible to follow them all, so a watchlist of each user's edits would be interesting, at least for administrators.
We could have a star on the users, as we do with the articles, and have a "user watchlist" where a list of issues will appear separated by user, to see what each one has done. When we consider that a user is doing their job well, we can remove the star, just like we do with the articles. Thanks.


  • This was previously declined (5 whole years ago) as it was seen to be a major tool in 'harassment'. Basically, it would be trivial to write a script that does just this (User:MER-C just did that): collect the last ### edits of a set of users, sort them out, and display them in a watchlist-like-manner (that could be a user-script in my on-wiki .js, it could be on my own computer and no-one would see that I would 'script' except maybe CheckUsers). For N00bs: I can do the same things with a folder of bookmarks of user-contributions for these users and just every morning check them (as I do with my watchlist). Yes, having this might be a nice tool to harass users ('what have my favourite victims been up to') but that can be done anyway in undetectable ways.
Having this tool has some big benefits in 'following problematic users' (suspect spammers, socks, COI editors, etc.). To mitigate harassment one could make the user-watchlist-lists visible to users with advanced rights (e.g. that admins can see who others are following, though probably better only CheckUsers/Stewards can see it).
I think it is time that the community re-assesses this, and possibly we have a commmunity discussion on solving possible concerns. --Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 06:29, 25 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Samwilson: and @Beetstra: Thanks a lot for your feedback. Have a nice day ;) --Vanbasten 23 (talk) 09:20, 25 November 2020 (UTC)[reply]
@Vanbasten 23 and Beetstra: I've moved this back to its category, so it can be voted on. (I'm using my staff account now, but am the same person as User:Samwilson above.) —SWilson (WMF) (talk) 22:25, 1 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The right to use this feature could be limited to admins (and editors), or it could be withdrawn from users who use it abusively. -- Aspiriniks (talk) 21:24, 8 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • This ought only be implemented if for administrators only, and only usable on accounts with under a certain number of edits, as Bilorv suggests. Though I do often think of such a tool for keeping an eye on vandals, it could so easily be turned into a harassment tool. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 03:32, 10 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
    • @CaptainEek: I strongly doubt whether this is becoming a harassment tool if you give visibility to the watchlist (e.g., admins can plainly see who you are watching, or have access to a Special:WhoWatchesWho which is bidirectional, or even a Special:WhoWatchesMe .. meh, even add a 'approve' for named accounts if someone wants to follow them - then in case of (group-)mentoring they will likely approve, but for regulars that will not happen, or they can later 'unapprove' if they at first did not have a problem with it). I have currently a watchlist of Wikipedia pages of my interest, which contains some filters and user contribs. This tool is literally nothing else than that. Whether I have 3 users that I 'follow around' through three clicks on bookmarks, or that I have one tool where I have all of that in one page is all the same. I really see no difference in harassing an editor through looking at their Special:Contribs every hour or by using this tool every hour. Can someone please explain me how this is (becoming) a harassment tool (pinging oppose !votes, I'd like to hear your reasoning: @MarioSuperstar77, Keepcalmandchill, Putnik, and NMaia:)? --Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 05:47, 10 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
      • I certainly think some checks and balances would be necessary, I like your suggestion of a needing approval, or making the watch watchlists be public/seen to admins. My fears would be that both our vandals and our veterans could use this tool for ill. Vandals could throw together a list of the admins they hate, and then use it to follow them and harass them, or keep an eye on who is active so as to evade them. Much harder to do with 50 contribs pages, but easy if its in one place. For veteran users, I can imagine it worsening feuds and disagreements and encouraging edit stalking. When two users don't quite like each other, and are on the other's watchlist, they would be more likely to follow the other around, and I can see a lot more IBans being handed out. I'm not fully against this, I too would like to be able to put vandals and hooligans on a sort of watchlist, but I do think a lot of preparation/rules are needed to ensure it doesn't become a tool of evil. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 18:57, 10 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • To further alleviate the concern of harassment: make it a right, ‘canwatchusers’, that is not standard given out to anyone. People who can show a use for it on a wiki can then be given this ability (mentors, spam-fighters), or wikis can decide never to give it out. The right can be temporary for mentors, who can only use it for the time of an event. —Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 04:29, 20 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]
  • Needs to be re-thought - for mentors/education/etc, allow users to specify who can "watch" them and for how long. For vandalism, make it a user-right, perhaps one that is NOT bundled into the "admin/sysop" bit. I have no problem with Stewards, Oversighters, ARBCOM, and others at that level being able to watchlist editors and make decisions about who else can watchlist people for vandalism control. On projects with many sysops/admins like en-wiki, I would be reluctant to include this in the "admin" bucket of rights. On projects with fewer admins, this might make more sense. There should also be a "global-watcher" user-right that is included in steward and some other highly trusted global- user-groups. I can also see value in having an "bot" account have this user-right to prepare off-wiki reports for use by highly-trusted abuse-fighting editors. Davidwr/talk 15:29, 21 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]