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  • Today’s blog post about the new Discussions improvements was getting a bit long so we didn’t include this information there, but we'd be remiss if we didn’t talk about the strong feelings of attachment toward Forum and what this change means for some of the more advanced functionality you’ve said you and your communities need for wiki-building conversations.

    For a long time we tied the fate of Forum to the development of Discussions. This was a mistake. The lack of development on Discussions meant that we created years-long anxiety about the future of Forum and whether there would ever be any replacement functionality added to Discussions. We should have treated it as two separate conversations: one, the release and development of Discussions; and two, the outdated technological underpinnings of Forum, its lack of mobile-friendliness, and how it was hacked onto MediaWiki which contributes to larger architectural problems on the site.

    In addition to the lack of development on Discussions, another problem we ran into was that we leaned too far into ease of use to the point that it became more about the philosophical idea of a “lightweight contribution experience” than something that worked for all types of contributors. We hoped that categories would make it more of a wiki-based tool, but that didn’t work out the way we planned. As is often the case when you try for a one-size-fits-all solution, it didn’t end up working as well as it could have for either group of users.

    The simplicity required for attracting new contributors makes it hard to use Discussions for conversations about building communities, talking about writing and editing wiki articles, or how to code or build templates. We don’t think advanced post formatting or displaying code is necessary for most people, but it is necessary for you. We wanted you to use Discussions as a place to talk about your community, but we never gave you the right tools to do that in the way you needed to.

    This is still true for the new version of Discussions. It doesn’t have the structure or options needed to be a robust wiki conversation area. So it’s pretty obvious that we need to provide a place for those conversations.

    We don’t know what that’s going to look like or when we might be able to make it happen, if at all, but in the meantime we’ve halted Forum migrations for the time being. We’re still doing some early thinking about this sort of functionality, and we want to work with the community to make sure that if we do build something for those needs then it does what it needs to do. But we wanted to let you know that it’s on our minds, and we know that even the updated Discussions experience doesn’t meet all of your needs.

    We’ll keep you updated on any developments in that area.

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    • The changes are honestly going to be amazing. Let the others complain all they want, but this update is honestly good!

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    • Leafy and I are agreed. People may have differing opinions, and are welcome to them, but the trolls are not far behind now...

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    • Yeah. The trolls would do anything to make the Fandom staff look bad. Look, nobody is perfect, and councilors don't usually agree on certain changes, but anticipated and deserved updates for Discussions are a good change, and personally, I think it solved a lot of problems.

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    • Never let it be said that I am not ecstatic about finally getting dev time for Discussions, we have been waiting literally years for this & the end of the waiting is like a second Christmas.

      But

      I think it is absolutely vital that the “place” you provide for editors, is Discussions itself. It must be. If editors are segregated away from the masses in Discussions, then we as editors cannot capitalize on the great thing you have going with Discussions; an influx of users. We can & have translated this influx into more editors, but admittedly only in a trickle, & not because Discussions users are unwilling to become editors but because it is almost impossible to train users to become editors in Discussions. It does not have the capacity for it. If you build a separate feature for us editors to Wiki-build on, then that problem doesn’t go away; Fandom gets its user retention, but powerusers get nothing. We still can’t train new editors.

      Please don’t leave us out in the dark.

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    • If I recall correctly, this migration halt has been mentioned in previous threads. However, it is always nice to have it in a formalized statement.

      For those who may have gotten an incorrect impression of my position from past discussions, I am not against making things easier for casual users. However, as acknowledged by staff (even before this thread), it should not necessarily come at the expense of needed functionality.

      I agree with Ursuul that, ideally, editors and casual users would use the same feature for discussions. That being said, I don't think the separation is that detrimental. I highly doubt casual users are going to bother reading the technical-oriented stuff anyways. As for editors participating in casual discussions, well, that is up to them. As editors, I am guessing they would be well aware Discussions.


      Edit:

      Also, the separation is not necessarily permanent. It is just while Wikia figures out if/how to incorporate necessary features into Discussions.

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    • This makes it sound like Forum migrations weren't giving wiki admins the choice of keeping Forum along side Discussions. Not a surprise, but good that FANDOM staff can admit that's what they were doing, even if only by implication.

      That said, the title for this thread is completely misleading. There was literally no info about Forum functionality. It was 75% about Discussions and 25% about how Forum still fills a need that Discussions won't fill for a long, long time.

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    • JustLeafy wrote:

      Yeah. The trolls would do anything to make the Fandom staff look bad. Look, nobody is perfect, and councilors don't usually agree on certain changes, but anticipated and deserved updates for Discussions are a good change, and personally, I think it solved a lot of problems.

      I guess I'm sort of one of the trolls...

      Could you elaborate on the problems that were solved? I honestly don't know what they are.

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    • So Forums as they are now are staying?

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    • Sounds good - I'm glad there's movement in getting Discussions on par with Forums, without going too fast for communities who rely on Forums.

      Given this, will there be any bug fixes for Forums (such as notifications not appearing when IPs post on our message walls) or are they still going to have lower priority than other issues/features?

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    • I can embrace it!

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    • Discussions' shortcomings come down to, as you said Mira, "lack of development". The biggest mistake you could make at this juncture is to attempt developing another brand-new place for different conversations.

      The biggest reason I saw to avoid Discussions, as shouted by the crowd you're directly talking to, was because of the lack of proper formatting, templates, and such that Forum already gives us.

      As Ursuul said, I am so happy that these updates are finally happening, but you will lose all of that goodwill and all of your efforts thus far if you even think about making a new feature on the side specifically for wiki-based discussions. In the quest to de-monolith MediaWiki, don't fall into the trap of spreading too thin.

      Stick with Discussions as the conversation platform. Give us code block formatting. We really don't need template transclusion in Discussions, but allow us to easily link to any wiki article regardless of namespace, and allow us to use code block formatting with proper coloring.

      Fandyllic wrote:

      This makes it sound like Forum migrations weren't giving wiki admins the choice of keeping Forum along side Discussions. Not a surprise, but good that FANDOM staff can admit that's what they were doing, even if only by implication.

      Um... isn't that kind of obvious? The whole point was that Forum was being moved to Discussions, there wasn't any notion of keeping them both available post-migration. In fact, I believe we're better off this way, as Ursuul and I keep saying, there should only be one destination for discussions, and Discussions is getting the treatment it needs and isn't tacked on to MediaWiki like Forum is.

      On that note, once text formatting is added to Discussions after this upcoming update, I was hoping to submit a request for migration. Is Fandom still honoring migration requests?

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    • Matthew Schroeder wrote: So Forums as they are now are staying?

      Let’s hope so.

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    • I don't think separating Discussions and wiki editor discussions is absolutely needed, if Discussions is updated in a way to support the editor's needs. If not, I see editor discussions going solely to the wiki (talk pages, Project, etc). Some places like CC that isn't an option.

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    • Thank you for listening to our concerns.

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    • Noreplyz wrote:

      Given this, will there be any bug fixes for Forums (such as notifications not appearing when IPs post on our message walls) or are they still going to have lower priority than other issues/features?

      There won't be any more fixes to the forums. The forums are really not sustainable anymore for Fandom, so it makes much more sense to invest the time and resources into newer features.

      SlyCooperFan1 wrote:

      On that note, once text formatting is added to Discussions after this upcoming update, I was hoping to submit a request for migration. Is Fandom still honoring migration requests?

      We can't do individual migrations at this point. However, if a community doesn't have Discussions yet and would like to enable it after the update, while keeping their forums, that is possible, and only requires a request sent to staff. Alternatively, we can also enable Discussions and disable forums, but in that scenario the existing forum content is lost and not copied over.

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    • Interesting. My impression was that previous requests to enable Discussions meant migrating Forum unless requested otherwise. Assuming that is true, I would have thought there would be some script already made for that task.

      Not complaining, just thinking out loud.

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    • Thank you for actually listening!

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    • Mira Laime wrote:

      Alternatively, we can also enable Discussions and disable forums, but in that scenario the existing forum content is lost and not copied over.

      A clarification question regarding this part if I may: Will you continue to copy the features of the forums to Discussions, and let's say that in a few years the forums turn extremely buggy due to a lack of updates, and Discussions has all the features of the forums at that point. Would it be possible to migrate our content then? As you likely know, we have the most active community in all of Fandom in terms of participation and constant discussions, so this would be very useful in a long-term perspective.

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    • Given that they said they are only halting migrations, I would guess the answer it yes. But lets see what they say.

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    • I only have one question I should've asked earlier: Though I like this update, what will happen to announcements?

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    • What would happen to Announcements? Nothing's changing about it.

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    • My concern is if will adapt the same design as Discussions or the Feeds design.

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    • Discussions is being merged into Feeds. You won't be able to access Discussions anymore, /d will redirect to /f

      As for whether Announcements gets a visual update or not, it won't really change any feature on Announcements at all either way. It's also not the point of this topic, which is the future of Special:Forum.

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    • Antvasima wrote:

      Will you continue to copy the features of the forums to Discussions, and let's say that in a few years the forums turn extremely buggy due to a lack of updates, and Discussions has all the features of the forums at that point. Would it be possible to migrate our content then? As you likely know, we have the most active community in all of Fandom in terms of participation and constant discussions, so this would be very useful in a long-term perspective.

      Discussions probably won't ever have every last feature the forums had. It's just not sensible to re-build an existing, old and problematic feature with new technology and just copy everything the old feature had one to one. Instead, we're working towards a feature that meets the needs of the users we have today, not the users we had five years ago.

      I'm fairly certain that the VS Battles community will be in the very last batch of forums to be migrated, when we finally get to that point - and that still won't be soon. All your forum content at that point will be copied over exactly as it is, embedded templates included, because we're just copying over the HTML. You won't be able to transclude more templates in fresh Discussions content, or edit the old posts without losing formatting. But hopefully, by that point, Discussions will be able to support your wiki's activities with its own set of features.

      Re: Announcements - Today's update doesn't change anything about Announcements. We may fine-tune Announcements some more this year, but the Feeds/Discussions consolidation has no bearing on this.

      @ Andrewds1021: We do indeed have a script that automatically copies forum content to Discussions and then closes the forums. That's what we have used for migrations so far. But as Discussions changes (and it changed a lot today), that script constantly needs to be updated, and some hand-holding by an engineer is required to make sure it runs correctly. Every community has a more or less unique-setup, so migrating a community isn't as simple as pressing a button. That's why we have stopped doing them for the time being.

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    • Thank you for the explanation.

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    • Mira Laime wrote:

      Instead, we're working towards a feature that meets the needs of the users we have today, not the users we had five years ago.

      Pretty much all the features requested to be added to Discussions meet the needs of user today and five years ago. We still need Wikitext support, template support, text formatting, highlights, etc. today. The lack of feature additions is not excused by some mythical change in needs.

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    • Fandyllic wrote:

      Pretty much all the features requested to be added to Discussions meet the needs of user today and five years ago. We still need Wikitext support, template support, text formatting, highlights, etc. today. The lack of feature additions is not excused by some mythical change in needs.

      Wikitext support: Not happening.

      Template support: Not happening.

      Text formatting: Coming soon.

      Highlights: Already live.

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    • IMO text formatting only needs to be slightly more robust (in addition to the already-planned additions) in order to satisfy the vast majority of people: just add a code block function. That’s all, just <pre> would be more than enough. Adding inline code snippets & syntax highlighting to code blocks would be nice additions, but I could live with just some preformatting. The ability to quote users &/or make block quotes would also be nice, as a standard social media tool that helps ease communication. But even if we get none of that, all I want is preformatting & we’ll have enough; it’s not much to ask I don’t think.

      Although, Moderators will want more than just an @ feature for handling disruptive users. That’s not an old need though, that’s a “need of today”.

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    • Message Wall and user talk pages obviously won't work for most Discussions users since they're not built to be mobile-friendly, so we're giving some thought to what the best way would be to make sure you can contact someone on Discussions. Because to your point Ursuul, @mentions don't solve that need.

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    • I suppose a "Discussions Wall" will have to wait until the global profile feature is set up, it would make the most sense there.

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    • A DM feature could similarly do the trick, although people would have to be unable to block Moderator DMs if it is to work.

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    • I would protest a DM feature akin to what Chat has. Wiki administration and moderation should be public for all to see, as it is right now with Message Wall / user talk.

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    • If there were a direct message feature, it would need to have report and moderator access function before it was released, otherwise it would just be ripe for abuse.

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    • I'm a civilized user who is frustrated with the Discussion changes. I found the way things were for the last 8 months prior to today as far better than what we have now. As things are now there are just too many problems with the new system & I addressed those problems in a comment on the previous blog. Discussion pages were much more efficient as they were yesterday, I'm someone who is involved with hundreds of discussions at once & tries to use Firefox's Tab Browsing System to its fullest potential. I have over 20 Discussions open in the history of this tab that I use the back/forward arrows rightclick access to navigate between.


      We need to be able to identify the discussions by the page name like we could yesterday, "What the Discussions update means for Forum Functionality" is the name for this blog page for example. We need to be able to efficiently access topics from 2 weeks ago on larger more active wikis. I've found that the list lengthens the 1st browsing page & that's all we can access in searching for topics now, while we used to have 20 topics per browsing page & could if need be access topics from 100 pages in the past. We also need to be able to post in the Discussion Topics without overwriting the tabhistory I mentioned in my previous paragraph. A post shouldn't act like clicking a link.

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    • Sounds like something that should be submitted via Special:Contact/feedback or Special:Contact/general. I've not heard of this type of complaint. Also, make sure the issues aren't browser specific... I'm guessing FANDOM dev is focused on Chrome, but the latest Firefox might get tested as well. I'm not sure they care about Safari or other browsers.

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    • These are the browsers we support and will fix bugs for, if that helps: Help:Supported_browsers

      WaterKirby1994, the tab label issue has been noted, so you don't need to report that one via Special:Contact. 

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    • Mira, thanks a lot for the information in #25. Since I still don't use Discussions, I haven't bothered keeping up will all of the updates. As such, I was unaware that the most recent change was so significant. In that light, it certainly makes sense that the script wouldn't work anymore.

      Although, based on what everyone else is saying, I am wondering if chat will still have a place on wikis once this is done.

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    • What about the other 2 issues? Mystic from Sonic News Network shared the problem of the 1st browsing page being lengthened & there not being an efficient way to access older topics anymore which concerns me as well. I can only assume my 3rd Issue was what Fandyllic meant by never hearing a complaint like it before. It effects me more than most people because of the way I use tabs. I would recommend using the back & forward page arrows more often, then you can understand what I mean by my 3rd issue.

      I use the back & forward arrow feature to make 1 tab the equivalent of upto 50 tabs at maximum, however there's 1 important rule, activating a link in the tab causes you to lose all the pages after the page you are currently on. The /r/2nd number activates now whenever you post & works as though you used a link thus overwriting all the pages after it when ever you want to leave a message on a discussion. This didn't happen yesterday when leaving messages & only started after today's changes were implemented. This is what I meant by my 3rd Issue, it would only be a minor inconvenience for most, however for someone who uses tabs the way I use them it's a huge problem. Hopefully both of these problems can be fixed as well.

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    • Mira Laime wrote:

      These are the browsers we support and will fix bugs for, if that helps: Help:Supported_browsers

      But do you test them all? From all the bugs I found so fast in Community Feeds when I got it on wikis I moderate or admin, I really wonder.

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    • We support them as in, if a bug is found for one of them we are committed to fixing it. But I can't guarantee that we test all features equally thoroughly in all of the listed browsers. 

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    • So FYI, supported usually means you test it, not that you will fix bugs if they are found and reported from outside. Besides, everyone knows you're not really committed to fixing all bugs on those browsers, it just means you won't reject the idea of fixing the bug out of hand.

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    • True - technically, we're not really committed to fixing any bugs just because they're being reported, whether they're browser-related or not. For any bug we'll weigh its severity against the time it costs to fix it. If a bug is relatively minor and it only occurs on a browser that's used less frequently, that may sway us towards ignoring it. If the bug occurs only on a browser we don't support, then we'll almost always reject the idea of fixing it outright, even if the bug is severe.

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    • I just pointed it out because many people don't know how a typical software development process works.

      However, I will reiterate, in general in the software industry for a very long time, when you say you support something it shouldn't mean you will think about fixing bugs for that browser or platform, it means that you have tested it and tried within some criteria to fix bugs that were found in the process. If FANDOM/Wikia, doesn't test the browsers they say they support, they are diverging from general industry practice and it puts many of their public statements about quality into question. It would be better to say they "support" browsers they test, but consider other lightly or not test browsers they plan to fix bugs for as "compatible".

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    • At least I mentioned the full problem I have down to what causes it, how to encounter it for themselves & how to fix it. It may not be a severe problem, although I believe posting in discussions currently activates a link regardless of the browser you are using. I explained how that's a problem, as I heavily rely on the back & forward arrows. What do you think the chances are of my problem getting fixed?

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    • Very low.

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    • Fandyllic I would like you to follow the instructions I gave earlier (that I'll repeat in this paragraph) so that you can see the problem for yourself. Open a Discussion that you plan to leave a message on. Go to any page you want using that same tab, then use the back arrow to go back to the Discussion & submit a message there. You'll then find you can't return to the other page by means of forward arrow anymore because of how the submit activates a link that overwrites it.

      Do you see how that's an annoyance? That wasn't happening before this month started. Also keep in mind I stack discussions on a much larger scale than that. I try to use tabs to their fullest potential by using the arrow trick & I even pointed out the solution. We need to stop the automatic link that activates when leaving messages now it's really that simple.

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    • WaterKirby1994, this isn't the proper place to be reporting a bug with Community Feeds/Discussions, especially since this thread is more about the status of Special:Forum. You want to head to Special:Contact/bug and provide all of the details you provided here -- and it's a lot of details, which is a good thing! That'll send it to the proper people who can see it, diagnose it, and let you know.

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    • It was a side effect of the "updates" that were implemented to Discussions. I already did that & I'm sure it will probably get fixed over the next few months. Here's hoping all the problems caused by the update will be resolved soon enough. This blog is about the Discussions Update so I believe this to be the correct place for mentioning such. Now that I know 2 of my 3 biggest concerns are being looked into I think I need only wait.

      There is the issue of how to access older topics in Discussions though. Beyond that I have no further reason to respond to this blog anymore. I thank those who have listened to my concerns with this probably last message here.

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    • Anyone wanting to keep track of the known issues in the new Discussions and fixes as they're coming out can follow our Tech Updates. The most recent post lists a number of known issues. 

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    • What are the differences in needs of users 5 years ago and today?

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    • The differences are mainly that way more users read and contribute from mobile than even 5 years ago. There are more users now who exclusively use mobile devices and who haven't learned their way around the internet via desktop first. People expect things to be more intuitive and responsive. If it's tedious to use on a phone, users will give up on it way more quickly than they might have five years ago. Plus, attention spans in general are getting shorter, and more and more sites are competing for your time and attention, which means many users are looking for a more casual experience. 

      We are working to account for all that - but without dumbing everything down too much. 

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    • The problem is Discussions is vastly dumbed down compared to Forum and the rate of feature additions is very slow. Even with the Feeds redo, the actual increase in features was actually quite minimal... it was more of a re-skin.

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    • A FANDOM user
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