The one thing I am often surprised that people don’t notice on Wikipedia is the conversation around editing. Wikipedia is a public platform, that means every conversation happens on a public forum. When it comes to developing entries, that forum is the Talk page. I often wonder if its because people are using tablets and phones to read entries, but those using computers can easily see the link to the talk page- it’s right above the title of the entry. Here are some ways we use Talk Pages to communicate.
How useful is the Talk Page? Here are things I have seen the page used for:
- Project identification – Last week I mentioned that all entries should be assigned to Projects. These are identified on the Talk Page. They will be placed at the top of the page.
- Anonymous suggestions – People will leave general comment, especially if they are anonymous editors who don’t have permission to edit an entry. We will talk about entry protection next week.
- Communication from Entry’s Subject – Imagine you are notable enough to get your own Wikipedia entry. Imagine information on it is incorrect. You would want to change it, but you have a conflict of interest and will be blocked if you try to make the change. Instead, you might leave comments on the Talk Page, hoping that some other editor will come in and make the corrections.
- Arguments – If there is disagreement about the direction of an entry, it often plays out on the talk page, especially when it comes to resolving problems. Voting on a resolution is rare. Most arguments simply die, but when a consensus requires a vote, it happens there.
- General commentary – I think this happens when a specific entry has gotten some attention or a reader thinks a specific person is looking or responsible for an entry. They will leave notes, greetings, nasty thoughts, or anything they think will get them some attention.
- Review information – I love when I see feedback from a review on a Talk Page. I like knowing what others identify as the next phase in editing or problems that other people see. It’s not commonly done, but I have been seeing it more often.
- Link problems – entries typically have links to other webpages. When those disappear, a bot/bit of code, might replace them with links from the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. The bot then posts an update of its activities so editors can find better replacements.
What have I missed? Are there things you have seen on Talk Pages that I didn’t mention? Tell me in the comments!