I like your story and I understand the sentiment. For me the story is about
the kind of functionality that we may or may not need in Flow. The story is
not about retaining what went before.. Mark my words, I cannot wait for the
old talk system to go.
As I understand the current situation, Flow is gaining in functionality and
it is being used in all kinds of settings. As time goes by, it becomes
feature rich and increasingly versatile. I am sure the husband "learned"
from the first time an egg was presented to his wife. I am sure they shared
fond memories of this moment of embarrassment. Life is short and learning
how to improve your ways makes life more pleasant.
The lessons of the egg are for all of us. Do not single out anyone and do
not think any of us is beyond the need of learning from past mistakes.
On 7 September 2014 03:17, Risker <risker.wp(a)gmail.com> wrote:
I'm not going to reply in-line here, because I
think there's been an
undoubtedly unintentional missing of the point here. Instead I will tell a
story about a friend of mine.
Some years ago, when her children were 3 and 4, their family had a lovely
traditional Christmas Day, but something felt like it was "missing". She
told her husband about a tradition in her own family, where she and her
siblings had (since they were very young children) always bought their
mother a Terry's Chocolate Orange for Christmas - no matter what else her
mom got, that was considered the one "essential" Christmas gift under the
tree. Mom would glow with joy when she unwrapped it, and her most
heartfelt thanks was for this specific present. Some time later in the
day, she'd smack it open and everyone would get a piece. My friend thought
it would be wonderful to start a similar tradition in her own young family.
Her husband remembered this story in the weeks leading up to the next
Christmas. He plotted with the children, now 4 and 5; he researched the
"best" types of similar treats; and ultimately he "helped" the
obtain a chocolate orange made of the finest Swiss chocolate, filled with
Grand Marnier liqueur, presented in an elegant marquetry box. Everyone was
surprised when she burst into tears instead of smiles, and spent the whole
day snapping at people and generally being a grouch. Finally her husband
confronted her and insisted she explain her behaviour.
What happened, of course, was that despite his best efforts, he'd missed
the real purpose of the chocolate orange. He thought it was symbolic of
the esteem in which the matriarch was held. Really, it was about the
familial sharing of a special treat; the joy that the sharing brought to
both the recipient and the presenters. But she couldn't share
liqueur-filled chocolate with her children, and could barely bring herself
to smack open the beautifully designed and presented chocolate. In other
words, even though the gift looked brilliant on paper, it missed the point.
I think the design of Flow is much like the liqueur-filled chocolates.
It's missed the point of a discussion space on Wikimedia projects. All the
use cases in the world, no matter how carefully researched and accounted
for, will help you build a discussion system to effectively replace a
discussion system if you don't understand that the one overriding,
incontrovertible feature of the current system is that it is a page that
acts just like all the other wiki pages, with all the same functions, and
anyone who can work on one wiki-page can work on any of them. In other
words, you're building something that is explicitly different from
wiki-pages - but the expectation of the majority of the people who will use
these pages is that they work exactly like any other wiki-page.
This is what I mean when I say that you've not really understood how
wiki-discussion functions, and you've created the "bells and whistles"
without demonstrating an understanding of what the real, core functions of
these pages are. The priority in design should focus on being able to
produce identical results for basic wiki-editing and page management: we
move pages, we protect them, we undo and revert edits, we fix typos and
correct URLS and links in each other's posts, we quote each other and
copy/paste, we modify each other's words when collaborating on the wording
of a complex section of an article, we get rid of trolling, we delete and
sometimes suppress personal attacks, we hat and archive individual
discussions. Whether or not a post gets auto-signed is a "frill" compared
to those basic functions, and it is inevitable that the deprioritization of
"the basics" will result in people not really caring much about the frills
(no matter how well they are executed) and focusing instead on what the
new "system" doesn't do. This is the real parallel between Flow and
Editor - focusing on the "difference" between the new product and that it
was intended to replace, instead of ensuring that things that had to be
similar or identical were considered the first step of design.
On 6 September 2014 02:13, Erik Moeller <erik(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
On Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 10:42 PM, Risker
> The major deficiencies that have long been identified in the current
> discussion system (and that can be addressed by technology) are all
> be addressed in MediaWiki software or by extensions. Automatic
> have been done by bots for years; indenting
could be added to the
gadget and moved to an extension; much work has already been
on graceful resolution of edit conflicts. The
ability to watchlist an
individual thread or section of a page is more challenging but, I have
told, still possible.
Let's just acknowledge that the limitations of what can reasonably be
layered onto wikitext-based representation of comments have not been
fully explored, rather than jumping to conclusions about what's easy
to address and what's hard. As noted separately, I agree it may be
worth pushing the boundaries a bit more on this, if only to know
exactly where they are, and to achieve short term improvements.
Automatic signature (something that is currently
functional on Flow, but is not customizable) turns out to be more of a
challenge when users are widely known by a signature line that doesn't
match their username,
I've not talked to them about it explicitly, but I'd guess that the PM
and the UX folks have a negative aversion against custom signatures
because of their free-form nature (including sometimes
layout-exploding ones). Perhaps a middle-ground can be found here,
with some more sanitization applied to prevent some of the
sigs-from-hell occasionally found. Other than that I can't see a good
reason to not just show them when they're set, and it's certainly
technically trivial to do so.
and there is no method by which users can add an
"explanatory" note to their signature such as "formerly known as
From the point forward that Flow is in wide use, a user rename would
be automatically reflected in old comments if desired, much as it is
reflected in old edits. But if signatures were supported, as above,
you could still use them for these types of indicators, as well.
The "more efficient" indenting has
indents to three levels, without exception;
This seems to be the most religious topic when it comes to Flow. The
database stores all threading information. It'd be trivial to expand
the threading level if that's more popular and usable.
I've heard the argument that this doesn't work on mobile, but we could
just set a different threading level on mobile.
I think it's worth experimenting with flat pages (with quoting) for
certain purposes, and Danny wants to, but it strikes me as most
reasonable to start with something that more closely resembles talk
pages as they are now (which is why we did that with LQT originally).
"Rigid predictable technical
restrictions on who can edit what" has resulted in inability to remove
posts that are obviously unsuitable (there's no "undo" or
function), replaced with a "hide" function that can only be applied by
certain users that's practically a red flag for people to look-see what
problem edit is.
The team has pretty strong arguments why they don't want posts to be
editable (the gist is, they fear that no other discussion system does
this, and it will freak people out -- they see the introduction of a
new system as a good opportunity to reset expectations). I personaly
am not religious about it; when we built LQT we made posts editable
(and made it clear who had edited someone else's posts) to preserve
that normal aspect of wiki-style editing. I think we should keep
talking about this.
I've not seen it named as a dealbreaker for small scale deployments.
The architecture can easily support both models.
> At the core is whether or not there is value in developing a
system" that is radically divorced from any other interface used by the
That's a legitimate question, although it's not as "radically
divorced" as you would think; ultimately it'll use the VisualEditor
(probably with a simplified toolbar by default) just like Flow does.
As for the claim that the team never looked at current use cases,
having spent hours in rooms with them where they pored over printouts
of hundreds of talk pages, analyzed use cases, categorized them,
prioritized them, etc., I can assure you there's been a lot more of
this kind of thinking than you appreciate. There also have been round
tables and other outreach efforts, and a dedicated community liaison
from the start. Still, I don't think there's been enough talking to
each other -- we're still getting better at doing that, collectively,
and trusting in the value of conversation even when there's a lot of
noise and a lot of heat.
This is an opportunity for me to remind folks that the cost of heat
(accusations, insults, reverts, etc.) is that people withdraw. We
(WMF) have to do our part to prevent things from getting heated, but
I'd ask folks who notice this kind of thing and who understand why
it's harmful to help step in and contribute to a calm, rational,
constructive dialog, as well. I can take a lot of heat, as you may
have noticed, but a lot of folks just tend to back away when things
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: