Need volunteers to test Reflect for LiquidThreads
As many of you know, one of the challenges with LiquidThreads is that conversations can get unwieldy quickly. Travis Kriplean, a graduate student at University of Washington, has been prototyping a tool called Reflect for augmenting traditional forum conversations like LiquidThreads.
Conceptually, Reflect is simple and straightforward. It creates a sidebar on the right where anyone can add bullet points summarizing a conversation. You can associate bullet points with the paragraphs it refers to. You can also edit bullet points.
We've been chatting for a while now, and Travis recently created a Greasemonkey hack that allows us to use Reflect with LiquidThreads. A few of us have been playing with it for about a week, and we discussed it at last week's office hours. We'd like to get more people to play with it for a final push these last few weeks.
To install it, if you're running Firefox, you need to install Greasemonkey. This should work in Chrome and Safari without any extensions, although I haven't tested it personally. Next, install the Reflect for LiquidThreads script.
Once you've done this, you should see sidebars for LiquidThreads conversations on Talk pages and on Special:NewMessages. Please jump to Talk:Strategic Plan/Movement Priorities and help us summarize those conversations. Note that for large Talk pages, it can take a while before the script loads.
Please help with this! We think this could be very useful in helping summarize and follow conversations.
I have made the test. I think it is obvious that editors will not limit themselves to summarizing a conversation, but I like that one is able to comment to a single sentence. At the moment the usual way is to copy and paste that sentence into your comment and than answer to it.
Maybe we could use this software for referencing. At the moment it is very difficulty to show if you are referencing a word, a sentence or many sentences. If the software is changed in such a way, that you could mark the text you are referencing, this software would be a big help.
updated: Now I have seen, that you could mark several sentences. Not just one.
Thanks for playing with this! I agree, this sort of interface could be useful for making point-by-point annotations or other types of references, not just summaries.
I'd encourage you to look at threads like Thread:Village pump/en/Making proposals easier to find / organize / work on to see if Reflect is useful in following discussions.
I've found it particularly useful in generating summaries of threads. See Thread:Talk:Strategic Plan/Goals/Number of speakers and participation for an example. When the individual messages have been summarized into a few bullet points, generating a summary for the whole thread is really easy.
So far, Philippe and I have been doing the bulk of the summarization, but if we can get a few more people experimenting with this and helping, that will really speed the process of creating summaries, which I think will make it easier to move the discussion along.
If you're attending Wikimania and want to learn more about Reflect, Travis has proposed a talk there. Feel free to add your name to the proposal if you're interested.
Will this make Liquid threads more stable and support lower connection speeds? I've only got a domestic broadband setup and I have learned to stay away from complex discussions in liquid threads - I hate to think what liquid threads is like for people in third world internet cafes.
Hmmm. That's something that I hadn't considered. Wikimedia talk pages should be as accessable as possible for as many people as possible. LQT is probably easier for laypeople to use, but it has the accessability tradeoff of greater bandwidth usage.
On en.wikinews we use LQT for the comments pages on articles, and ease of use is the greater concern there, due to the fact that most comments page contributors are anonymous users. But on talk pages bandwidth might be more important, due to the critical nature of talk pages. After all, if someone in a third world country can't access a comments page, not much is lost. But if they can't access a talk page, their ability to contribute at a significant level is diminished.
Just by the look of Reflect, it seems pretty useful. I'm definitely going to test it out.
I dislike LiquidThreads though, in general, being used on a wiki. Although it is a bit easier to use, it turns conversations into forum-like threads, which does not promote the best of communication. Reflect could help with this issue, but IMHO I prefer normal sections and comments.