Grants:IdeaLab/Build/Notifications and messaging

This is a planning page for some work we'd like to do to better incorporate notifications and messaging into Grants:IdeaLab and Grants:IEG. The plan is being drafted in September 2013, not yet sure about a timeline to implement.

The problem we're trying to solve

  • Grantmaking happens on meta-wiki, which isn't a home wiki for many participants in grantmaking processes.
  • Activity can get buried, or not actively reach out to draw participants back into the IdeaLab and IEG spaces.
  • Doing all messaging manually doesn't scale well.

Potential solutions







Goals of automating some aspects of messaging and notifications include:

  • Get prospective grantees, committee members, community members (and even staff!) back to the Lab to participate more often and more consistently
  • Keep actions and updates from getting buried in the meta-vortex; actively reach out to people via channels they regularly check
  • Let prospective grantees know when important deadlines or other changes are happening

Use cases

  • Creator wants to hear about new actions taken on their idea/proposal
  • IdeaLab participants want to be reminded that the Lab exists and be invited back to engage in new things happening
  • Grants manager wants to encourage (idea/proposal) creators to meet an IEG proposal deadline



Ideas for kinds of messages/notifications

  • Someone made a comment on your idea/proposal (action=edited talk page)
  • Someone joined your idea (action=added a new participant)
  • Someone changed the status/category on your proposal (action=edited a status= infobox parameter, or otherwise added category)
  • Someone created a new idea in the Lab (action=activity feed updated, this would be a Siko's dearest wish style opt-in to activity feed notifications, basically)
  • IEG proposals are due on x date (action=human-set deadline approaching, a reminder message for those who have proposals/ideas in draft or other form)
  • You got a badge!
  • ...

Thoughts on implementation


This is where we could start to hash out what notifications can already do, what GrantsBot should do, what we change in human processes to cover, etc.

General requirements


Because it takes time to develop new bot functions, and because too-frequent notification can be distracting, bot-driven notifications should be used for:

  • notifying people of significant events that are related to a proposal they are working on.
  • notifying people of events that are relatively infrequent (i.e. only a few times during the lifecycle of each proposal).
  • notifying people of events that are likely to be useful for proposals outside of the IEG program with minimal customization (e.g. notifying people of a category change).
  • notification types that are not currently planned, substantially similar to, or under active development for the Notifications extension.

Spec'd features

  • Someone made a comment on your idea/proposal: This may be best left to watchlists at this point. It would require the bot to leave a lot of notifications.
  • Someone changed the status/category of your proposal: The most consistent and transparent way to implement this type of notification is probably for GrantsBot to post a short message to the talkpage of the proposal declaring that the status has been changed, and using the {{ping}} template to mention the proposal creator (and potentially, anyone who has joined the proposal, if that can be implemented relatively easily).
  • Someone joined your idea. This could work, and seems like a good use for bot-driven notifications. May be doable within a reasonable timeframe, and probably not something that the Notifications tool will support any time soon. One possible impediment here is that this feature potentially requires custom code that may not be reusable elsewhere.
  • Someone created a new idea in the Lab: The bot pings members of an opt-in subscriber list any time a new idea is created. This is possible, but needs to be discussed a bit, spec'd more fully and assigned a priority, since the activity feed itself is designed to keep people up to date about newly-created ideas. It would also probably be best to implement this as a weekly digest delivered to the user's talk page, to minimize spam.
  • IEG proposals are due on x date: The bot delivers a templated message to the user's talk page. GrantsBot did this for the first round of IEG, and should do it again for the second round.
  • You got a badge: Intriguing and possible, but may be best to prompt people to notify others directly that they award them a badge. It's also possible that this can be done with templates and parser functions, rather than a bot. So, worth discussing. But anyway out of scope until badges are implemented for IEG/IdeaLab profiles.