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Proposal:Show number of users watching a page

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Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


Knowing how many users are watching a certain page would be useful for organising and coordinating watchlists. This could reduce the number of unwatched pages.


Include the information "This page is watched by n users" or similar, perhaps in the top section of the page's history. The same information should be displayed when a user adds or removes a page from their watchlist ("The page ... has been added to / removed from your watchlist. It is now watched by n users." or similar). Experienced, trustworthy editors should be given access to a page metric based on its “watchedness” which correlates with the page’s likely vulnerability to vandalism. The measure of the “watchedness” of a page needs to combine at least two factors: how many people have the page on their watchlists; and how often these people view their watchlists. Such editors could then consider adding the pages with low “watchedness” scores to their own watchlists.


Watchlists enable editors to watch out for vandalism on pages that interest them. I certainly aim to login daily and keep an eye on around 2000 pages in my own watchlist, reverting any corruptions.

It is possible that some pages are watched by many editors, whereas other pages may be watched by nobody. These unwatched pages are vulnerable to long-surviving malicious corruptions. If experienced regular editors were prepared to “adopt” 20 unwatched pages each, we could make a significant impact on the problem of unnoticed vandalism.

However, there is currently no way that I can discover whether a given page is watched by anyone, as far as I know. At the moment, some pages are supposedly watched by a lot of editors, many others by none at all. This feature could help editors organise their watchlist – remove pages which are already heavily guarded and add pages that no one or very few people are watching.

Key Questions

Careful consideration needs to be given to the accessibility of this information. Obviously if vandals can see which pages are not watched by anyone, they know that vandalism to that page is more likely to provide misinformation to readers for weeks, months or years to come. We need a mechanism whereby only editors with a good track record can see when a page is unwatched and in need of adoption.

The mechanism is also open to possible abuse by determined vandals who could use sockpuppets to make a page appear more watched than it is. However, this seems unlikely to become a widespread problem.

There is in practice no difference between an article being on the watchlists of ten former editors who have not edited in a year and being on no watchlists at all. Therefore to work this software would have to ignore watchlists of inactive editors, and the question of how inactive would need to be defined. Ideally it needs some sort of predictive algorithm that instead of listing number of watchers worked out how closely watched an article was watched by ignoring the completely inactive users and giving greater weight to users who frequently roll back edits to articles on their watchlists.

Potential Costs

One-time programming of the new feature. Probably hardware resources to keep track of the figures. Two algorithms are required:

  1. a way of calculating a page’s “watchedness” which correlates well with its vulnerability to vandalism going unnoticed
  2. a way of calculating a user metric which determines which editors have access to this information


Proposal:Universal/global watchlists might be similar or identical, but it's in Polish so I cannot tell.

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