Readers clicking through to talk pages

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Readers clicking through to talk pages

Gwern Branwen
Pondering the utility of talk page edits recently, I've begun to
wonder: how many of our readers actually look at the talk page as
well? I know some writers writing articles on Wikipedia have mentioned
or rhapsodized at length on the interest of the talk pages for
articles, but they are rare birds and statistically irrelevant.

It might be enough simply to know how much traffic to talk pages there
is period. I doubt editors make up much of Wikipedia's traffic, with
the shriveling of the editing population, which never kept pace with
the growth into a top 10/20 website, so that would give a good upper
bound.

It would seem to be very small; there's not a single Talk page in the
top 1000 on http://stats.grok.se/en/top and comparing a few articles
like Anime, Talk:Anime has 273 hits over an entire month
(http://stats.grok.se/en/201109/Talk%3AAnime) while the article has
128,657 hits (a factor of 471); or Talk:Barack Obama with 1800 over
the month (http://stats.grok.se/en/201109/Talk%3ABarack_Obama)
compared to Barack Obama, 504,827 hits
(http://stats.grok.se/en/201109/Barack%20Obama) for a factor of 280.

The raw stats in http://dammit.lt/wikistats are currently unavailable;
I've bugged domas to get it back up but it's still been down for
hours, so I went to
http://dumps.wikimedia.org/other/pagecounts-raw/2011/2011-09/ instead
- each file seems to be an hour of the day so I downloaded one day's
worth and gunzipped them all which is enough info to get a good idea
of the right ratio.

We do some quick shell scripting:

grep -e '^en Talk:' -e '^en talk:' pagecounts-* | cut -d ' ' -f 3 |
paste -sd +|bc
~>
582771

grep -e '^en ' pagecounts-* | grep -v -e '^en Talk:' -e '^en talk:' |
cut -d ' ' -f 3 | paste -sd + | bc
~>
202680742

Looks somewhat sane - 58,2771 for all talk page hits versus
2,0268,0742 for all non-talk page hits A factor of 347 is pretty much
around where I was expecting based on those 2 pages. And Domas says
the statistics exclude API hits but includes logged-in editor hits, so
we can safely say that anonymous users made far *fewer* than 58k page
views that day and hence the true ratios are worse than 471/280/347.

- If we take the absolutely most favorable ratio, Obama's at 280, and
then further assume it was looked at by 0 logged-in users (yeah
right), then that implies something posted on its talk page will be
seen by <0.35% of interested readers (504827/1800*1.0)*100).
- If we use the aggregate statistic and say, generously, that
registered users make up only 90% of the page views, then something on
the talk page will be seen by <0.028% of interested readers
((202680742/582771*0.1)*100).

I suggest that the common practice of 'moving reference/link to the
Talk page' be named what it really is: a subtle form of deletion.

It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
to make use of it.

* one of my little projects is compiling edits where I or another have
added a valuable source to an article Talk page, complete with the
most relevant excerpts from that source, and seeing whether anyone
bothered making any use of that source/link in any fashion. I have not
finished, but to summarize what I have seen so far: that justification
for deletion is a dirty lie. Hardly any sources are ever restored.

--
gwern
http://www.gwern.net/In%20Defense%20Of%20Inclusionism

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Carcharoth
On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Pondering the utility of talk page edits recently, I've begun to
> wonder: how many of our readers actually look at the talk page as
> well? I know some writers writing articles on Wikipedia have mentioned
> or rhapsodized at length on the interest of the talk pages for
> articles, but they are rare birds and statistically irrelevant.

<snip long analysis>

> I suggest that the common practice of 'moving reference/link to the
> Talk page' be named what it really is: a subtle form of deletion.

Well, only if there is no discussion. I think moving to the talk page
is far better than outright removal. It does at least give editors a
chance to review what has been included and what has been excluded.
And talk pages *should* be for editors and not really for readers. I
frequently use the talk pages to help draft articles and as a place to
put material that I'm not quite sure is ready for inclusion yet.
Putting everything straight into an article can make it harder to
organise things later.

> It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
> a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
> interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
> to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
> our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
> to make use of it.

I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
used far more than they are. I think the problem is that people are
paranoid about link farms and link spam and look at number of links
rather than quality or organisation. It does help to organise very
large external link sections into subsections, both to help readers
(in finding what may be of interest) and the editors (in trimming
where needed and organsing what is there).

> * one of my little projects is compiling edits where I or another have
> added a valuable source to an article Talk page, complete with the
> most relevant excerpts from that source, and seeing whether anyone
> bothered making any use of that source/link in any fashion. I have not
> finished, but to summarize what I have seen so far: that justification
> for deletion is a dirty lie. Hardly any sources are ever restored.

If there is no discussion, you would be fully justified in adding the
source yourself. If there is discussion, then, well, you need to
discuss. Have a look at my recent talk page edits for one way in which
I use article talk pages. The other aspect to all this is that many
editors make editorial decisions silently, in their head, or briefly
mentioned in edit summaries, and it can be hard for later editors to
understand why something was cut or trimmed down. If a longer
explanation is posted to the talk page, that can help, though for the
largest articles, having mini-essays on the talk page explaining how
each individual section of the article was put together would be a
massive undertaking. What I do think would be helpful is a subpage for
each article (or article talk page), listing the rejected material
(sometimes the material is better placed in a different article). That
would save a lot of repetition and aid organisation not only of the
included material, but the excluded material.

Carcharoth

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Bod Notbod
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen
On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
> a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
> interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
> to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
> our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
> to make use of it.

Not to either agree or disagree with this but I wrote a substantial
amount about the artist [[Rachel Whiteread]] years ago and through my
research found out about a ton of works she'd done that I didn't feel
merited inclusion. So I documented them on the talk page and I drew
the conclusion that although they would overwhelm the article some
article readers would be interested in the list.

So I placed a link to the talk page in the links section with a note
explaining about the list that could be viewed there. Someone removed
the link and the explanation saying that either the talk page
information was good enough to be included in the article or it wasn't
good enough to be noted in the article space. I didn't fight it, but
thought it a poor decision.

Bodnotbod

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Angela Anuszewski
In reply to this post by Carcharoth
Personally, I've given up on talk pages.   The reason is many of them don't have actual "talk". I see a blue talk link and go there and all that is there is a template "this page is part of wiki project xyz". I'd really like it if that kind of information about a page was somewhere other than "talk".

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 12, 2011, at 1:56, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Pondering the utility of talk page edits recently, I've begun to
>> wonder: how many of our readers actually look at the talk page as
>> well? I know some writers writing articles on Wikipedia have mentioned
>> or rhapsodized at length on the interest of the talk pages for
>> articles, but they are rare birds and statistically irrelevant.
>
> <snip long analysis>
>
>> I suggest that the common practice of 'moving reference/link to the
>> Talk page' be named what it really is: a subtle form of deletion.
>
> Well, only if there is no discussion. I think moving to the talk page
> is far better than outright removal. It does at least give editors a
> chance to review what has been included and what has been excluded.
> And talk pages *should* be for editors and not really for readers. I
> frequently use the talk pages to help draft articles and as a place to
> put material that I'm not quite sure is ready for inclusion yet.
> Putting everything straight into an article can make it harder to
> organise things later.
>
>> It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
>> a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
>> interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
>> to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
>> our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
>> to make use of it.
>
> I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
> used far more than they are. I think the problem is that people are
> paranoid about link farms and link spam and look at number of links
> rather than quality or organisation. It does help to organise very
> large external link sections into subsections, both to help readers
> (in finding what may be of interest) and the editors (in trimming
> where needed and organsing what is there).
>
>> * one of my little projects is compiling edits where I or another have
>> added a valuable source to an article Talk page, complete with the
>> most relevant excerpts from that source, and seeing whether anyone
>> bothered making any use of that source/link in any fashion. I have not
>> finished, but to summarize what I have seen so far: that justification
>> for deletion is a dirty lie. Hardly any sources are ever restored.
>
> If there is no discussion, you would be fully justified in adding the
> source yourself. If there is discussion, then, well, you need to
> discuss. Have a look at my recent talk page edits for one way in which
> I use article talk pages. The other aspect to all this is that many
> editors make editorial decisions silently, in their head, or briefly
> mentioned in edit summaries, and it can be hard for later editors to
> understand why something was cut or trimmed down. If a longer
> explanation is posted to the talk page, that can help, though for the
> largest articles, having mini-essays on the talk page explaining how
> each individual section of the article was put together would be a
> massive undertaking. What I do think would be helpful is a subpage for
> each article (or article talk page), listing the rejected material
> (sometimes the material is better placed in a different article). That
> would save a lot of repetition and aid organisation not only of the
> included material, but the excluded material.
>
> Carcharoth
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

petr skupa
Not so bad idea,

I like the templates and those informations very much.
However, if such info could be on some third tab I might be happy.

regards

Petr Skupa [[u:Reo On]]

On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM, Angela Anuszewski <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Personally, I've given up on talk pages.   The reason is many of them don't
> have actual "talk". I see a blue talk link and go there and all that is
> there is a template "this page is part of wiki project xyz". I'd really like
> it if that kind of information about a page was somewhere other than "talk".
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Oct 12, 2011, at 1:56, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >> Pondering the utility of talk page edits recently, I've begun to
> >> wonder: how many of our readers actually look at the talk page as
> >> well? I know some writers writing articles on Wikipedia have mentioned
> >> or rhapsodized at length on the interest of the talk pages for
> >> articles, but they are rare birds and statistically irrelevant.
> >
> > <snip long analysis>
> >
> >> I suggest that the common practice of 'moving reference/link to the
> >> Talk page' be named what it really is: a subtle form of deletion.
> >
> > Well, only if there is no discussion. I think moving to the talk page
> > is far better than outright removal. It does at least give editors a
> > chance to review what has been included and what has been excluded.
> > And talk pages *should* be for editors and not really for readers. I
> > frequently use the talk pages to help draft articles and as a place to
> > put material that I'm not quite sure is ready for inclusion yet.
> > Putting everything straight into an article can make it harder to
> > organise things later.
> >
> >> It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
> >> a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
> >> interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
> >> to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
> >> our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
> >> to make use of it.
> >
> > I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
> > used far more than they are. I think the problem is that people are
> > paranoid about link farms and link spam and look at number of links
> > rather than quality or organisation. It does help to organise very
> > large external link sections into subsections, both to help readers
> > (in finding what may be of interest) and the editors (in trimming
> > where needed and organsing what is there).
> >
> >> * one of my little projects is compiling edits where I or another have
> >> added a valuable source to an article Talk page, complete with the
> >> most relevant excerpts from that source, and seeing whether anyone
> >> bothered making any use of that source/link in any fashion. I have not
> >> finished, but to summarize what I have seen so far: that justification
> >> for deletion is a dirty lie. Hardly any sources are ever restored.
> >
> > If there is no discussion, you would be fully justified in adding the
> > source yourself. If there is discussion, then, well, you need to
> > discuss. Have a look at my recent talk page edits for one way in which
> > I use article talk pages. The other aspect to all this is that many
> > editors make editorial decisions silently, in their head, or briefly
> > mentioned in edit summaries, and it can be hard for later editors to
> > understand why something was cut or trimmed down. If a longer
> > explanation is posted to the talk page, that can help, though for the
> > largest articles, having mini-essays on the talk page explaining how
> > each individual section of the article was put together would be a
> > massive undertaking. What I do think would be helpful is a subpage for
> > each article (or article talk page), listing the rejected material
> > (sometimes the material is better placed in a different article). That
> > would save a lot of repetition and aid organisation not only of the
> > included material, but the excluded material.
> >
> > Carcharoth
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > WikiEN-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>
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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Ian Woollard
In reply to this post by Carcharoth
On 12 October 2011 06:56, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
> used far more than they are.


Nah.

As in yes, but there's an entire noticeboard on Wikipedia devoted entirely
to systematically stamping out external links, whether they're useful or
not.

Some of the members go from article to article removing ALL the links that
wouldn't get them permanently banned for removing.

One of the members of that board even decided that they should rewrite one
of the guidelines so that it said that links can only be kept if there's an
*overwhelming* majority that wants any particular link... and then in most
cases if there's an RFC they effectively canvas by posting notices on the
noticeboard to ensure that any majority isn't quite overwhelming enough in
their eyes (and single purpose account !votes count for them), and it looks
like they often edit war links away anyway afterwards, using sock puppets,
irrespective of the result.

Well, we don't necessarily know who the sock puppet is, but if the sock
puppet is reverted, members of the board frequently, publicly, revert the
revert.

It does help to organise very
> large external link sections into subsections, both to help readers
> (in finding what may be of interest) and the editors (in trimming
> where needed and organsing what is there).
>

That's the way it's supposed to work, but I've never seen an external links
section that big, because if it got a tenth that size it would be put up on
the noticeboard and then get gratuitously chopped. And I'm not talking about
spam links here.


> Carcharoth
>

--
-Ian Woollard
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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

petr skupa
Ian Woollard:

do You know their motivation?

I see this oversensitivity to the external links in czech Wikipedia too. I
am not that much hurt by their removal, what is hurting me is that the
cleaners are sometimes treating (in my opinion) well-intentioned outsiders
as spammers.

Reo


On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 7:11 PM, Ian Woollard <[hidden email]>wrote:

> On 12 October 2011 06:56, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
> > used far more than they are.
>
>
> Nah.
>
> As in yes, but there's an entire noticeboard on Wikipedia devoted entirely
> to systematically stamping out external links, whether they're useful or
> not.
>
> Some of the members go from article to article removing ALL the links that
> wouldn't get them permanently banned for removing.
>
> One of the members of that board even decided that they should rewrite one
> of the guidelines so that it said that links can only be kept if there's an
> *overwhelming* majority that wants any particular link... and then in most
> cases if there's an RFC they effectively canvas by posting notices on the
> noticeboard to ensure that any majority isn't quite overwhelming enough in
> their eyes (and single purpose account !votes count for them), and it looks
> like they often edit war links away anyway afterwards, using sock puppets,
> irrespective of the result.
>
> Well, we don't necessarily know who the sock puppet is, but if the sock
> puppet is reverted, members of the board frequently, publicly, revert the
> revert.
>
> It does help to organise very
> > large external link sections into subsections, both to help readers
> > (in finding what may be of interest) and the editors (in trimming
> > where needed and organsing what is there).
> >
>
> That's the way it's supposed to work, but I've never seen an external links
> section that big, because if it got a tenth that size it would be put up on
> the noticeboard and then get gratuitously chopped. And I'm not talking
> about
> spam links here.
>
>
> > Carcharoth
> >
>
> --
> -Ian Woollard
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>
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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Ian Woollard
On 12 October 2011 18:11, Ian Woollard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 12 October 2011 06:56, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I agree absolutely that external links and further reading should be
> > used far more than they are.
>
>
> Nah.
>
> As in yes, but there's an entire noticeboard on Wikipedia devoted entirely
> to systematically stamping out external links, whether they're useful or
> not.
>
> Reminds me - we should at some stage do something about "noticeboards". Not
that they all need stamping out, but as unchartered processes, the more
useful ones should graduate to having some sort of charter.

Charles
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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Ian Woollard
On 12 October 2011 18:42, Charles Matthews
<[hidden email]>wrote:

> Reminds me - we should at some stage do something about "noticeboards". Not
> that they all need stamping out, but as unchartered processes, the more
> useful ones should graduate to having some sort of charter.
>

Yes, and starting with WP:ANI; the Wikipedia is a Stanford Prison
Experiment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

First you divide the users into two groups, we'll call them guards (admins)
and inmates (editors)  and then ensure that the admins are in the minority
so that they HAVE to gang up on the editors. Then we give them unlimited
power over editors and make sure that there's virtually no policies or
guidelines that relate to severity of punishment.

What could *possibly* go wrong???

Charles
>
--
-Ian Woollard
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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by Bod Notbod
On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM, Bod Notbod <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> It would be a service to our readers to end this practice entirely: if
>> a link is good enough to be hidden on a talk page (supposedly in the
>> interests of incorporating it in the future*), then it is good enough
>> to put at the end of External Links or a Further Reading section, and
>> our countless thousands of readers will not be deprived of the chance
>> to make use of it.
>
> Not to either agree or disagree with this but I wrote a substantial
> amount about the artist [[Rachel Whiteread]] years ago and through my
> research found out about a ton of works she'd done that I didn't feel
> merited inclusion. So I documented them on the talk page and I drew
> the conclusion that although they would overwhelm the article some
> article readers would be interested in the list.

But you shouldn't treat the talk page as an external place to link to.
The article should be self-contained.

> So I placed a link to the talk page in the links section with a note
> explaining about the list that could be viewed there. Someone removed
> the link and the explanation saying that either the talk page
> information was good enough to be included in the article or it wasn't
> good enough to be noted in the article space. I didn't fight it, but
> thought it a poor decision.

Linking from the article to the talk page is a violation of SELFREF.
If you want to include appendix-type material, that is bset placed in
it's own section at the end of the article, in a collapse box or
footnote that makes clear it is not part of the main article, but an
adjunct to it. A bit like an infobox is an adjunct, like a footer
template is an adjunct, just like the styles and children bits of
articles on royals are adjuncts, just like a list of works by an
author is an adjunct. There are many articles that successfully manage
this tricky process of ending the main text of an article, but then
providing appendix-style sections at the end to add such material.
It's not easy, but can be done without splitting off to a separate
page.

Carcharoth

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Angela Anuszewski
On 10/12/11 4:50 AM, Angela Anuszewski wrote:
> Personally, I've given up on talk pages.   The reason is many of them don't have actual "talk". I see a blue talk link and go there and all that is there is a template "this page is part of wiki project xyz". I'd really like it if that kind of information about a page was somewhere other than "talk".
>

I think I raised this point several years ago, to no avail. Perhaps
something like a meta page. When I look at a talk page I'm really
looking for other opinions on some of the material about which I have
uncertainties.

Ec

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by Ian Woollard
On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 6:11 PM, Ian Woollard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> That's the way it's supposed to work, but I've never seen an external links
> section that big, because if it got a tenth that size it would be put up on
> the noticeboard and then get gratuitously chopped. And I'm not talking about
> spam links here.

The trick is to trim and not let it get too large, but to keep it organised.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Holden

The former is still a work in progress, but the EL section
sub-sectioning was prompted by advice I gave to the editor there.

One of the problems is that ELs that can be used as sources are
rightly folded into the article, just as most see also links are
folded into the article, but the difference is that ELs that are
pointing to different media are fine to remain, as are ELs that are
serving as further reading. The issue of whether sources can also be
further reading is more contentious, but I maintain that this is
possible, as readers should be guided as to which of the sources in
use are useful as further reading, and shouldn't have to sort through
the sources themselves to identify those useful for further reading.

Carcharoth

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Re: Readers clicking through to talk pages

Carcharoth
In reply to this post by Angela Anuszewski
On Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 12:50 PM, Angela Anuszewski
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> Personally, I've given up on talk pages.   The reason is many of them don't have actual "talk". I see a blue talk link and go there and all that is there is a template "this page is part of wiki project xyz". I'd really like it if that kind of information about a page was somewhere other than "talk".

That's not a reason to give up on them. Use them and get used to the
fact that some are really empty though they aren't really. Some talk
pages are also archived, so they are not actually as empty as they
look. One thing I think talk pages are very useful for is editors
learning different editing techniques from each other. Some editors
learn by looking through the edits others make, while other editors
learn better while discussing on talk pages. And all editors should
remain open to both learning new things and teaching others.

Carcharoth

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