Community Central
Community Central

Hello everyone!

It's been a while since my last post here, and now it's an excellent chance to share some good news with all of you. After a long journey throughout this year, we are now making the Thanks extension available to all communities.

Whether this is the first time you're hearing about this extension, or if you've already been part of its early testing, you'll find out all the details about what this entails and how we've been working on this in 2023. Let's start!

What is Thanks and why did we add it to the platform?[]

Community Connect 2022 Group Photo

Believe it or not, we started this journey in Community Connect 2022!

For details about how the extension works, please see the fourth section of this blog post, but generally speaking, Thanks is a MediaWiki extension that allows editors to easily thank others for specific edits on wiki pages. Rather than writing an appreciation message, you can simply click on a button next to their edits to send them some quick recognition for what they did.

We chose to add this extension to Fandom to fulfill a promise we made at Community Connect 2022. We committed to adding more functionality to our platform for editors, inspired by Gamepedia's Extension Review process. This allowed users to suggest MediaWiki extensions they'd love to see added to the platform. Staff would review them for feasibility and then decide which ones could be added.

In December 2022, we kicked off the nomination process on Fandom, and shared more details about how we would eventually be implementing the winner (fun fact: we already used Thanks as an example then).

Why did we finally choose to implement Thanks?[]

The first quarter of 2023 was when we chose the most appropriate extension the community had nominated. Then throughout our technical updates, we periodically updated you on the progress we were making.

Community Connect 2023 group

Community Connect 2023 was the scenario where we presented the extension for the first time.

Back in January we received nearly 200 extension nominations! We then narrowed the candidates down to 15, after reviewing which extensions would be feasible to add, in terms of not jeopardizing our platform's performance or security, be implementable with a reasonable amount of effort and useful to a majority of communities.

During the next weeks the Product and Community teams worked together to create the final list. At the end of February, we announced how we would pick the potentially most impactful extension and prioritize our efforts to fit it into the year's roadmap. In the end, we made our choice in March, and were ready to announce it in April... using the unbeatable context of Community Connect!

We chose Thanks because of prior data showing this extension can motivate people to edit more, both from Wikipedia, where Thanks has been in use for years already, but also from an old test we'd done at Fandom all the way back in 2016. We figured it can help editors appreciate and motivate each other on Fandom as well, and hopefully encourage more first-time editors to make their second and third edit.

In addition, some Gamepedia communities had already been using their own version of this extension, called ThanksMeToo, for some time. To replace this with an updated version that would work across all Fandom wikis, we would need to make some changes to make it compatible with Fandom's email and on-site notification systems and user preferences.

How have we been implementing Thanks on Fandom?[]

Since the very beginning, we always wanted to involve the community in this process: communicating the plans, hearing all opinions with anticipation, adapting the process to all involved people, and incorporating the feedback we received from the editors and their wikis.

Initially, we launched the extension as an experiment only to a specific set of communities that had agreed to be part of testing. That's why some communities have already been using Thanks for the past 9 months while others are only now getting access to it.

Wookieepedia Thanks

Wookieepedia was one of the first 100 communities where the extension was initially tested.

We launched the first phase of the experiment mid May. This allowed us to collect early feedback and bug reports, which encouraged more and more wikis to ask to be included in the test as well. Some weeks later, we reached 100 wikis testing the extension! These were very intense weeks with lots to do. We worked out the kinks in our version of Thanks, while replacing the older and more outdated ThanksMeToo in the process.

In June, we decided to significantly extend the test, and started a second phase of experimentation on more than 1,200 wikis, allowing communities to explicitly opt out of the test if they did not want to be part of it. Once again, many more additional wikis asked to be included as well so they could have Thanks enabled early! The next month, we started a third phase, extending the group test to nearly 29,000 wikis, representing about 10% of all wikis on the platform.

Disney Wiki Thanks

Since July, 10% of the wikis are currently testing the extension. Your community is probably one of them!

In the third quarter of 2023, we had reached the scale needed to give us enough data for a proper statistical analysis of the Thanks extension's effects.

The results were not quite what we expected: Thanks was being embraced quite enthusiastically - but mostly by experienced editors, thanking other experienced editors. New and first-time editors received too few thanks overall for us to say whether these appreciation messages helped more of them to stick around.

This is why we decided to make Thanks available as an optional tool that you can enable via your Admin Dashboard, rather than add it as a default feature to all communities (this is what is happening right now).

In addition, at that time our detailed and proactive communication with admins allowed us to adapt, refine and improve the extension; including the release of significant tweaks in September.

More recently, we also made another unexpected discovery during our analysis: On some of the pages where logged-in users see Thanks links, such as Special:Contributions, users seemed to spend less time and take fewer actions than they typically do on wikis where Thanks is not enabled. To mitigate this, we restricted who can see Thanks links on those pages to users with local rights on the wiki (i.e. rollbacks and above). On other pages, such as Recent Changes, Thanks links are still visible to all logged-in users.

After that, the the team continued monitoring the fix to ensure a desired performance of this tool, and fortunately, the extension is now working properly and is ready for any community that wants to use it.

How does the extension work and how can I enable it?[]

Cool! If you have arrived here then you're probably interested in the extension but haven't used it before.

If you are an admin on your wiki, you can switch a toggle in the right rail of the Admin Dashboard to turn it on. Once it's enabled, you'll see a "thank" link with a heart appearing next to each edit revision in any page histories and in Recent Changes.

Thanks - Notification

It's always gratifying when someone appreciates what you do.

If you click on the link or the heart and confirm you want to thank the author of that edit, they will be thanked. When someone thanks you, you will receive a web notification behind the bell as well as an email notification. You can unsubscribe from either notification any time via Special:Preferences. In addition, you can learn more about Thanks on the Help page.

As a reminder, this recent full release is only to allow any wiki to use it as an optional feature. Only where an admin explicitly enables the feature will it become active. If you are an admin and want to remove Thanks from your wiki, you can disable it via the same toggle on the Admin Dashboard.

Closing remarks[]

Thank You

As you can see, it's been a long and intense journey of experimentation, discovery and collaboration between all stakeholders - Creators development team, Community team and many of you - but at the end of the day we can be satisfied with how things have turned out.

I would personally like to thank (but not using this extension :D ) all people who have been participating throughout 2023 to make this happen, because you all have been helping me so much in the process. On the one hand, we received significant and worthwhile feedback about how the tool works and how it could be improved, and on the other hand we also had an early process of bug reporting and hard work behind the scenes to refine the tool.

As a recent example, this is one piece of real feedback I received about the tool:

"I like the Thanks extension because sometimes messaging another person directly might make the other person feel pressured to reply, but with just the Thanks extension, I can express my appreciation without pressuring the other person, and maybe they would also be reminded that they have something to message me about. I really like the function, and I hope that it can be a permanent extension in the future!"
- AncientAdas

I hope all of you will be still using and enjoying this tool so far, in addition to new people who are now aware and motivated to use it. As an extra initiative, we're planning to perform a new AMA session on Discord soon and we can discuss any extra detail about it. Stay tuned for news!

And thanks for everything! :D

Hector Avatar
Fandom Staff
Héctor Donís is one of the Community Managers at Fandom. He has been a Fandom user since 2007. He loves video games, music, sports, movies, TV... and everything that can be fun! He has been working as a Fandom staff since 2011, initially helping the Spanish community.
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