At Wikia, we work to create a productive, easy, and fun experience for anyone who wants to contribute and be part of a wiki community. We’ve recently been discussing how user talk pages have serious limitations — it’s hard to know where to respond, new users are often confused about how to sign messages, and there’s no way to limit your notifications to just the conversations you’re involved in. After much research and exploration, we decided to build a new communication feature that will replace user talk pages: Message Wall. This new feature will be going live for early testing mode to a few select wikis next week.
About Message Wall
Message Wall will be similar to talk pages in a few key ways: there will still be a tab on your profile, each conversation will still have a subject header, and you’ll still be able to use full wiki text (photos, videos, links, tables, templates, etc.) in the content. In other ways, the feature is entirely different. Here’s the rundown:
It’s not a wiki page. You can add comments directly without going into the wiki editor, and you will see them immediately.
Newer conversations are at the top of the page; archiving is automatic. When there are more than 20 conversations, your Message Wall automatically paginates, so there’s no need to manually archive content.
Long conversations are condensed, and it just takes one click to expand them. This way, you can scan your Message Wall without getting overwhelmed by a long conversation in the middle.
Messages are separated into conversations, which you can link to directly — and permanently! Since archiving is automatic, these links won’t break when the conversation gets old.
Messages are signed with your preferred name. If you’ve entered an “aka” name into your profile, this will appear on each of your Message Wall posts, followed by your username. If you haven’t entered an alternate name, it will only display your username.
Wiki Activity will show messages grouped as conversations. If more than one reply has been posted recently in a conversation, these will be shown as a single conversation on Wiki Activity. The two most recent replies will be listed along with the total number of other replies, and you'll be able to click through for the rest.
Wiki notifications appear in a new menu. You’ll be notified at the top-right of your wiki (next to your user menu) for new messages on your wall, as well as for replies to any conversations you’re following. These notifications will automatically mark themselves as read when you view the conversation.
Important things to know
Here are a few more important details:
This will eventually be on all wikis. Message Wall is replacing the way you communicate on your profiles, and it will be activated on all wikis once it has been thoroughly tested and refined.
This will affect Monobook users. Since Monobook users need to be able to talk to non-Monobook users, and since we can’t have competing communication features, Message Wall will be universal across Wikia, regardless of what skin you are using. We’re looking into styling the feature in a way that Monobook users will appreciate, and we look forward to your input on this once we get into our testing phase.
Your current talk pages will be archived. No data will be lost, and you’ll still be able to find the posts, but the old user talk pages will be protected from future edits.
This does not affect article talk pages, article comments, or forums. While we hope to improve those communication features in the future, we’re waiting to see how Message Wall works for users before we make any plans.
About the testing phase
Next week, we are activating the feature on a few select wikis. We’ve been talking to the admins on those wikis to prepare for the release, and we will pay close attention to users’ needs and requests as they adopt Message Wall. Our Community Test Wiki will also be participating, so any user will be able to test the feature and give us feedback.
We are going into this testing phase before our development work is finished. We want to spend time learning how people use their Message Wall before we gather data and feedback to help us make the right decisions about finishing touches.
Our target date for sitewide release is a month from now, but we’re keeping this time period flexible. If we decide to extend the development process, we may also expand the testing phase to include more wikis. Keep in mind that since this feature will permanently archive user talk pages, we are unable to use Wikia Labs.
What we’d like from you
We know this is a big change. Like any major change, it’s going to take some adjustment, and it may be challenging for some users. We ask that you keep the goals of this change in mind, give it a chance, and see how it works for yourself. You can help us refine the feature by being specific in your feedback and asking questions about how it can work best for you.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Want to receive updates on the latest Staff blog posts? Then click here to follow this blog.