IRC office hours/Office hours 2013-04-27

10:51 StevenW: Hey everyone. In about 10 minutes we're going to be talking about the new account creation and login designs (
10:51 ChanServ has changed mode: +o StevenW
10:52 StevenW has set topic: IRC office hours about the upcoming account creation and login redesigns -
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11:00 StevenW: Hey everyone
11:01 JohnLewis: Hey StevenW.
11:01 StevenW: And good morning, at least in my timezone. ;)
11:01 ori-l: hello
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11:02 StevenW: So I am not sure how many folks are lurking vs here for office hours. But I figured we could either dive right in to questions if anyone has burning ones, or I could give a little background and then we could go from there.
11:02 StevenW: What do we think?
11:02 marktraceur: Can't it be both, StevenW? :)
11:02 StevenW: Yep. :)
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11:03 StevenW: Hi Ting
11:04 JohnLewis: StevenW: I am fine with either option :)
11:04 spagewmf: a little background music please
11:04 superm401: StevenW, how about we start with an overview then do questions.
11:05 StevenW: Alrighty
11:05 StevenW: So the people working on this project are myself, spagewmf, superm401, ori-l, and a designer, Munaf Assaf.
11:06 StevenW: We're all on the "Editor Engagement Experiments" team at the WMF, which is a long title for a pretty simple idea: rather than build large new features like VisualEditor or Page Curation to try and help editors, test smaller things on a faster timeline, and be experimental about our approach.
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11:07 StevenW: Hi MF-W
11:07 MF-W: hi StevenW
11:08 StevenW: We try to focus really closely on things that are going to help bring in more people to join as registered editors who want to, and to help those newly-registered folks make their first real contributions to the encyclopedia.
11:08 StevenW: So a natural step to try and fix in that process is account creation.
11:09 StevenW: Starting in the fall last year, we ran several week-long tests, where we delivered a new design to about half the people who were visiting the account creation page, and measured how many tried to sign up, how many were successful, etc.
11:09 StevenW: More about that here:
11:10 StevenW: But the basic answer is that, we made some changes as we went along, but we found small but significant increases in the rates of people signing up with the new forms, and thus concluded that the redesign was working for that form.
11:10 StevenW: And that we want to make it happen for all the projects if we can.
11:11 StevenW: Along with that, we decided that leaving login with a completely different design was inconsistent and that if we were going to take the trouble to change account creation, we should put some work in to the login experience too.
11:11 StevenW: So that's where we're at. Like that blog post says, the forms are built, and we're testing them for about a week to iron out any localization issues or final bugs.
11:12 StevenW: It's been really helpful so far. More than a dozen bugs, all pretty helpful ideas or minor things to fix before we turn on the new forms as defaults.
11:12 StevenW: is wondering how many people in the channel have tried the new designs yet?
11:13 JohnLewis: I have StevenW. Tested account creation too. Quite nice and easy.
11:13 gwickwire: hand raises
11:13 gwickwire: I've looked at both :)
11:14 spagewmf: ( and )
11:15 StevenW: Thanks spagewmf. If you're not an English Wikipedian, you can just add the useNew=1 bit to the end of your project's URL and it will have the same effect.
11:15 StevenW: Also glad it was easy JohnLewis. :)
11:15 superm401: Want to open it up for questions?
11:16 StevenW: Yeah
11:16 StevenW: Any time
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11:17 gwickwire: Well, of course I have to be the devil's advocate here (not the user), but.. Is it at all possible to bring up the username policy on the same, nice looking, pretty page (or a similar one with just a summary) instead of the (comparitively) ugly vector page?
11:17 superm401: gwickwire, we are looking at adding a tooltip for a nutshell version of the username policy.
11:18 superm401:
11:18 superm401: So you will be able to show the tooltip without leaving the page
11:18 gwickwire: Works for me :)
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11:19 MF-W: Do you have any explanations why the new design has more success? I mean, all the fields are still the same
11:19 gwickwire: Secondly, could the grey placeholder text be 10-20% darker? It *can* be a bit hard to read in low light/low brightness on computer screens.
11:19 StevenW: Dzień dobry, odder
11:19 odder: Good evening, StevenW
11:19 StevenW: Ah right, timezones :)
11:20 StevenW: MF-W: a number of factors probably explain it
11:20 spagewmf: I note the enwiki doesn't say what kinds of characters are permissible, but maybe only testers try to create username "!@#$%^&*()" :)
11:20 ori-l: gwickwire: that's a good idea, I think. I'm going to file a bug to track that.
11:20 StevenW: though the nature of the testing means that we can't scientifically-speaking ascribe the success to just one thing, because we tested one whole form against the old whole form.
11:20 gwickwire: spagewmf: If I remember correctly, the English Wikipedia doesn't have any character requirements. We have people with arabic/hindu script, chinese characters, etc.
11:21 StevenW: First up: the "create account" submit button is much larger and is colorful, which helps people notice it.
11:21 JohnLewis: spagewmf: There are a few characters that can not be used only due to technical restrictions.
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11:21 JohnLewis: spagewmf: Apart from technical ones, '@' can't be used in usernames.
11:22 gwickwire: And _, as _ is the one for spaces.
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11:22 superm401: ori-l, and perhaps the labels could be a bit darker than the placeholders.
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11:22 StevenW: Second, we reordered the form fields so that they are less intimidating: when the CAPTCHA is at the end rather than that beginning, that helps. People are less likely to run away from a form because of the CAPTCHA, after they've filled it out.
11:22 JohnLewis: gwickwire: _ can be used but just converts to a space.
11:22 gwickwire: right, so it's not used in usernames.
11:23 gwickwire: Can we not just make it an easy captcha thing, like "what is 2+3" or something? I mean, we *still* get spam places even with the captcha so..
11:23 StevenW: that is a very good question
11:24 superm401: gwickwire, that's a bigger issue, but plain text math CAPTCHAs are trivially broken.
11:24 gwickwire: who said it'd be plain text?
11:24 superm401: I wasn't sure what you meant, there are two kinds.
11:24 StevenW: while the paper I saw says that the image captcha is broken 20% of the attempts, IIRC
11:25 gwickwire: we could have a jpg or something displayed that would look to the average user to be plain text (maybe make it a bit less machine readable), and then have the answer for EVERYONE be the same thing.
11:25 superm401: We have thought about some possible experiments with CAPTCHAs though.
11:25 gwickwire: Or have like 5 rotating ones, "1+4" "2+4" "1+2" etc. simple things like that, so they aren't as intimidating to where people go "is that a p or a d or a q or a g"
11:26 StevenW: We are actually considering a short A/B test where we turn off the CAPTCHA on account creation.
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11:26 gwickwire: On the captcha though, there's a huge whitespace between the image and refresh button
11:26 TOS_: What did I miss yet?
11:27 StevenW: TOS_: hey there
11:27 TOS_: Hey StevenW
11:27 StevenW: I gave some background, and now we're discussing questions people have and bugs etc.
11:27 TOS_: Can anyone PM me whats going on, and what i missed
11:27 ori-l: TOS_: i'll pastebin the log, sec
11:27 StevenW: thanks ori-l
11:27 superm401: gwickwire, yes, we're aware of the whitespace. We're looking at some tradeoffs:
11:28 gwickwire: I do apologize, seems that you've already bugged all of the things I'm bringing up :-)
11:28 ori-l: TOS_ / others joining late: for anyone
11:28 ori-l: er, s/for anyone//.
11:28 TOS_ is now known as TOS
11:29 superm401: gwickwire, no problem, it helsp prioritize, and I don't think we have a bug for the text darkness yet.
11:29 superm401: Thought it has been mentioned.
11:29 gwickwire: oh, so I'm doing something helpful :)
11:29 StevenW: I'm going to be interested to see if the CAPTCHA refresh has any effect on registrations etc.
11:29 gwickwire: What about having another 3-4 statistics on the right side? To fill up the rest of the creation area.
11:29 ori-l: we do now -- the hypnotically-numbered bug 47777
11:29 spagewmf: gwicikwire, so the [↻ Refresh] captcha is new and should help. As for whitespace, we don't know how tall the FancyCaptcha is so we set height 95px. Maybe we should let the image height vary.
11:30 gwickwire: probably would be 3 statistics to make it close to even on both columns
11:30 TOS: StevenW: Before I finish reading, I have a quick Q
11:30 StevenW: shoot
11:30 gwickwire: I just find it weird that when a user scrolls down (for whatever reason) they lose part of the right side of the screen
11:31 TOS: Is there anywhere in the account creation page where our SPA policies are mentioned?
11:31 gwickwire: TOS: SPA as in socking or single-purpose or promotional or spam or what? SPA means like 10 different things on enwp
11:31 TOS: Sorry. I meant sock-puppetry
11:32 TOS: Spefically, why we should not edit using more than one account
11:32 gwickwire: Hmm. That may be something to put a sentence into the tooltip for UP about.
11:32 StevenW: No. There wasn't actually a sock-puppetry policy link or mention in the old version either
11:32 gwickwire: Something like "Wait! Do you already have an account? Click *here* to log in to that one"
11:32 TOS: Likewise for company names and that sort of stuff we block about
11:33 gwickwire: TOS: <--- there's the new interface, log out to see it.
11:33 TOS: gwickwire: More like "Do you know you can be banned if you edit from more than one account? Please login through your original account"
11:33 superm401: TOS, the policy is actually not that simple.
11:33 StevenW: For company name accounts etc., that's why we embedded the username policy link, and plan to enhance it by opening a summary of the policy on the page in a tooltip.
11:34 superm401: enwiki allows alternative accounts in limited circumstances:
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11:34 StevenW: It's interesting because users really do go read that policy when they are given a link.
11:34 superm401: Anyway, it's up to local community consensus what to put in the tooltip.
11:34 StevenW: It's the number three referrer for account creation on English Wikipedia.
11:34 TOS: superm401: If that use is allowed for you, you are probably well versed with our SPA policies anyways
11:34 gwickwire: What's number one, out of curiosity?
11:34 JohnLewis: StevenW: Are the 'Login Error' notices built into the interface or in the MediaWiki ns?
11:35 StevenW: Uh, let me look. I think it's the Main Page.
11:35 TOS: StevenW: The reason i asked this question was because of some experiences I have with socks.
11:35 spagewmf: TOS, so when a logged-in user is creating another account, we have a list of possible changes to the form, one of which is to remove or change the benefits column. Is that the scenario for most cases of Sock-puppet account creation?
11:36 TOS: StevenW: Most of them happened to become one because they were blocked once, and/or were not aware that we had such strict policies of socks
11:36 TOS: StevenW: I think we can do a lot better for both us, and the socks, by clearly noting that at one of the first places - The account creation page
11:36 gwickwire: I agree with TOS here, that for logged in users there should be some sort of tooltip or something about "Stop! You're already logged in!" or something similar but less rude :)
11:37 StevenW: Yeah, it's Main Page, then Special:Search, then Wikipedia:Username policy on enwiki
11:37 superm401: JohnLewis, all messages are in the MW namespace.
11:37 gwickwire: StevenW: is this all public?
11:37 gwickwire: like the stats?
11:37 JohnLewis: superm401: Mind pointing me to it please?
11:37 superm401: JohnLewis, which message in particular?
11:37 StevenW: gwickwire: I think it can be, but it isn't yet. Mostly just because our two data analysts are overworked.
11:38 TOS: StevenW: Can we look out for more data analysts?
11:38 gwickwire: :/ Let's appoint a volunteer commision of 100 assistants to the data analysts :D
11:38 TOS: *Pick me*
11:38 JohnLewis: Spoofs. e.g. The name "John F Lewis" is too similar to the existing account
11:38 ori-l: TOS: I'm looking at block templates on en and noting that the sock puppet policy is not explicitly mentioned
11:38 StevenW: We are hiring one or two more soon as we can. :)
11:38 spagewmf: in general: We've got a lot of feedback about the case of logged-in user creating another account, but that's from people like you trying the form :). I wonder how many users need to do it how often, please raise your hand if you do.
11:38 ori-l: TOS: regardless of whether or not it is placed on the account creation form, I think there's a case to be made for flagging the policy there
11:39 StevenW: for now, like more of our data collection, what's getting collected is publiclyl viewable in the related schema, in this case
11:39 Riley: How will the new account creation design look for account creators?
11:39 TOS: ori-l: I agree
11:39 StevenW: TOS: maybe we should add something to the sock block templates? (for user talk)
11:39 JohnLewis: Riley: Appears ther same.
11:39 superm401: Riley, pretty similar right now; almost too similar, as spagewmf said
11:39 gwickwire: StevenW: why hire when you have a huge volunteer base willing to do anything for free?
11:39 JohnLewis: Riley: I just did a few requests via the form.
11:40 tommorris: the new form is pretty. I have nothing much to say beyond that it is pretty. well done StevenW and team.
11:40 spagewmf: JohnLewis, you can use the qqx trick to see the messages,
11:40 TOS: StevenW: Yes. Also, having at the account creation page is more effective.
11:40 StevenW: gwickwire: things should improve on that front when Labs gets a database to query, like Toolserver.
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11:40 Riley: scroll up and realizes all his questions have already been answered
11:40 JohnLewis: spagewmf: Thanks!
11:40 gwickwire: Riley: you're late :3
11:41 StevenW: Riley: the account creator fields should work just fine and appear the same. There are some little changes we need to make, like making the (optional) description of email go away if you're sending the account info by email, etc.
11:41 gwickwire: StevenW: What if we add some statistic about "number of new users today" or something?
11:41 JohnLewis: StevenW: They do appear the same. Thats my tests :)
11:41 StevenW: Thanks tommorris. You're a sweetheart, as always.
11:42 TOS: Now that I'm done eating, let me read through the rest of the chat, and fire my questions. Dont go anywhere, StevenW.
11:43 StevenW: I wont ;)
11:43 TOS: But do seriously consider adding that one line about multiple accounts
11:43 James_F: (BTW, would anyone here like me to do a VisualEditor office hours? I've offered before and no-one seemed interested, but happy to do one if anyone wants it. Aware that this is a rather skewed sample. :-))
11:44 StevenW: Yes!
11:44 StevenW: In 15 languages ;)
11:44 James_F: StevenW: Oy. ;-P
11:44 superm401: James_F, yeah, I actually have a couple questions too
11:44 gwickwire: James_F: If this includes time for me to strongly push for it to *not* be enabled, then sure :D
11:44 James_F: OK, OK, I'll schedule one. Don't want to steal the EE limelight.
11:45 superm401: JohnLewis, the extension is antispoof, and the message is antispoof-conflict-top
11:45 spagewmf: Riley, a logged-in user creating an account sees a "Reason" field, and an upcoming change puts a placeholder in that. And I think we could/should put different stuff in the benefits column, which would allow gwickwire's "Stop!" and TOS's sockpuppetry caution.
11:45 TOS: A fast questions - Whats a tooltip?
11:45 JohnLewis: superm401: Thanks.
11:45 superm401: You can see the other antispoof messages at
11:45 JohnLewis: superm401: Thanks x2
11:46 superm401: TOS, it's that small rectangle of text that comes up to explain somewhat, e.g. when you move your mouse over part of the page.
11:46 gwickwire: I just want more cool statistics. I think having more cool statistics would make more people think "hmm, let's try it!"
11:46 TOS: superm401: Got it!
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11:46 StevenW: I think "number of people who've registered today" would be very very cool to add.
11:47 spagewmf: TOS we can also do beefier tooltips, like the (?) help on
11:47 StevenW: We'd need to build a counter for that though. Right now we're just stealing some of the already-existing magic words like 24,336,872
11:47 James_F: Join the hive mind! Only 4000 registrations left today!
11:47 Riley: spagewmf: Sounds great, thanks.
11:47 gwickwire: But to keep it short, have the same big number, maybe a picture of one human with a light emenating from his head, and say "new users today"
11:47 StevenW: Precisely James_F. Social proof.
11:47 ori-l: I think we could do something even more dynamic, like show recent changes..
11:47 gwickwire: StevenW: is it that hard to make a new magic word?
11:47 StevenW: No idea.
11:47 James_F: gwickwire: Not hard but not advisable.
11:48 gwickwire: Not even a simple one like "number of users who've registered in the past 24 hours"?
11:48 StevenW: Performance reasons James_F?
11:48 James_F: gwickwire: Technically easy, socially hard to get through because we're trying to replace wikitext editing and discourage DB-expensive things... yes, StevenW.
11:48 TOS: I just checked the interface.
11:48 gwickwire: meh, I'll not get into the "replace wikitext editing" thing...
11:49 TOS: Its great. Simple, and catchy
11:49 superm401: James_F, if we did it, we would make sure there was not a noticeable DB hit (e.g. cache it in memcached).
11:49 TOS: Good work, StevenW!
11:49 StevenW: and ori-l spagewmf superm401 :) Thanks TOS
11:49 James_F: gwickwire: Rolling 24 hour window means recalculating every second or so. And does a new user on the central DB count, or do they have to have an account on English too?
11:49 ori-l: gwickwire / James_F: writing a PHP extension for Scribunto / Lua would be easy to do, performant, and will not make the Parsoid people cry
11:49 superm401: Thanks, TOS
11:49 gwickwire: James_F: What if we set it up to re-calc and re-cache a number every 30 mins?
11:49 gwickwire: It wouldn't be the most accurate, but it'd reduce server load.
11:49 TOS: Is there any opening for data analysts here?
11:49 TOS: I'd like to give a hand
11:50 jorm: oh. hello.
11:50 StevenW:
11:50 ori-l: TOS: and feel free to ping Dario Taraborelli <> directly, too, and ask
11:50 TOS: I'm willing to be a volunteer!
11:50 TOS: Just want to learn
11:51 TOS: Sure
11:51 TOS: Thanks
11:51 StevenW: If you don't have one I'd definitely get a Labs account.
11:51 StevenW: Lots of goodness coming with Coren's work on Tools Labs.
11:51 Riley: TOS: I am assuming you are TheOriginalSoni, so if you are, could you edit User:TheOriginalSoni_2 on your main account confirming it is your account? :)
11:52 TOS: I did
11:52 James_F: gwickwire: Possibly; I think that would be more complex to implement (I'm pretty sure we don't cache magic words except for logged-out users when we cache the entire page). Let's take offline.
11:52 jorm: This reminds me. I need to schedule office hours for Flow.
11:52 gwickwire: Ok.
11:52 spagewmf: gwickwire, includes/SiteStats.php activeUsers, it's not easy
11:53 TOS: One thing because I forgot to check, StevenW
11:54 TOS: If someone gets the captcha wrong, what do they have to type again?
11:54 TOS: *Only* the captcha wrong
11:54 StevenW: a new captcha, obviously, and we don't save their password. Email stays IIRC.
11:54 StevenW: remembering the username would be nice too, if we don't already
11:55 superm401: It does.
11:55 superm401: You have to retype the passwords and CAPTCHA.
11:55 StevenW: well there you go :)
11:55 superm401: But if you know you can't see it, hopefully the new refresh will help.
11:55 superm401: In that case, nothing disappears except the old CAPTCHA text
11:56 TOS: superm401: If it was only captcha, that would be better
11:57 StevenW: Remembering password input brings up some interesting security questions. But we should take a look at best practices there.
11:57 TOS: Its not good to keep having to type the pw again and again if you cannot understand the letters at captcha
11:57 superm401: Yeah, it's pretty common to wipe password fields.
11:57 superm401: That doesn't mean it's strictly necessary though.
11:58 superm401: As StevenW said, we could look into it.
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11:58 StevenW: Alright. We're coming up on the hour. Does anybody have any questions we missed ?
11:59 TOS_: When is this feature implemented?
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11:59 StevenW: TOS: we're hoping in about a week, depending on the state of any bug fixes we need to do, and if you're not using an English wiki, what the state of localization is.
11:59 TOS_: Alright
11:59 TOS_: And will we have any user feedback
12:00 superm401: One issue is that over HTTP, it's sending the password an additional direction if it doesn't wipe it.
12:00 TOS_: Just after the screen - "How was creating an account"
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12:00 TOS_: Easy- tough- etc
12:00 TOS_: That sort of feedback will be quite helpful, I think
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12:01 StevenW: superm401: that is true. I wonder when we're going to make all logins/signups over HTTPS... I think it's supposed to happen soon.
12:02 James_F: StevenW: Yes, soon.
12:02 StevenW: Cool.
12:03 superm401:
12:03 StevenW: Okay folks, I need to go. Thanks so much for all the helpful questions and comments. You're awesome.
12:03 James_F: Thank you StevenW!
12:03 superm401: Yes, thanks for all the feedback and questions.
12:04 gwickwire: Thank ya'll too :)