[Wikimedia-l] Beta Features Launch Worldwide

Fabrice Florin fflorin at wikimedia.org
Sat Nov 23 00:01:51 UTC 2013

Hi Liam,

Thanks so much for your good feedback about Beta Features. (1)

I am glad you view this program as a positive development and think this tool can give users more control over their experience, as well as encourage more reasoned conversations during feature development, while reducing the stress for everyone. So like you, we're very hopeful about the potential of this tool for enabling more effective collaborations between foundation and community members.

Already, we're getting invaluable feedback on discussion pages like this one for Media Viewer (2). On that note, a newer version of Media Viewer is now ready for testing on MediaWiki.org, which displays larger images for a more immersive experience, as shown on this demo page (3). This new version will automatically be deployed on English Wikipedia's Beta Features section in early December, but we would love to get early feedback, if anyone is interested. To learn more, check out this overview of that new Media Viewer version. (4)

Last but not least, kudos to all the folks who contributed to this skunkworks program, across many different teams: Jared Zimmerman, Mark Holmquist, James Forrester, Jon Robson,May Galloway, Keegan Peterzell, and Erik Moeller, to name but a few :) While no particular team had a mandate to start this program, we all felt it was the right thing to do -- and just got it done. Sometimes the best projects come from these kinds of serendipitous collaborations. :)



(1) About Beta Features:

(2) Discuss Media Viewer:

(3) New Version v0.2 of Media Viewer:

(4) Media Viewer Next Version v0.2:

On Nov 22, 2013, at 12:39 AM, wikimedia-l-request at lists.wikimedia.org wrote:

Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 13:38:30 +1100
From: Liam Wyatt <liamwyatt at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Cc: Mark Holmquist <mholmquist at wikimedia.org>,	Jared Zimmerman
	<jared.zimmerman at wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Beta Features Launch Worldwide
	<CAAGzLhsj37moM+SY5sHsHXkgXqpodgzxf-CR3JYYR_uX5Fhs=Q at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252

This is a very positive development in the manner by which new features are
given some visibility, tested and measured.
Making new features *opt-in*, and making it easy to return back is a
healthy way of getting wider usage and feedback IMO. Also, the ability for
a user to chose to automatically receive all new Beta functions, or to
manually select the individual elements that they like, is a nice touch
too. I think that, culturally as much as technologically, having a "beta
track" for ALL new elements is a good procedure to have. It will provide
consistent and clear expectations of what's happening (and a clear place to
provide feedback that is actually answered) - not having that is a large
factor IMHO in the negative reaction many features have previously

I always really liked the manner in which the "Usability Initiative" (which
developed the vector skin a few years back) measured their success - the
proportion of people who turned "on" AND continued using new features. If I
recall correctly that was the first time the WMF used the "beta" concept
and I believe that the way it was rolled-out was the best practice example
of the WMF making a major change in a calm, clearly communicated,
responsive way. Interestingly, the things that caused controversy on the
day that that program's work became the default were the elements that were
added in at the at the last minute and therefore were not part of the Beta
- the v.2 logo, the 'collapsed' inter-language links box in the sidebar.

-Liam / Wittylama

Peace, love & metadata


Fabrice Florin
Product Manager
Wikimedia Foundation


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