Wikidata:Contact the development team/Process review 2020

The goal of this project is to evaluate and improve the way we (the Wikidata development team at Wikimedia Germany) currently support the Wikidata community with collecting and reacting to bug reports and feature requests. This includes for example the discussions at Wikidata:Contact the development team, the tickets on Phabricator, interaction on the Wikidata social channels, etc.

On this page, you can follow the progress of the project, and give feedback on the talk page.

Please note that this project does not cover the support process for Wikibase as a separate software, nor its related channels. To discuss Wikibase support and feedback, see Wikibase/FAQ#Further_help.

Give feedbackEdit

There's no feedback round running at the moment. However, you're welcome to give feedback on the talk page at any time.

Issues we identifiedEdit

From the Wikidata development team perspective
Here are the main issues that we identified and would like to solve with the update of the process.
  • We currently have a lot of different channels to follow (Wiki pages, Phabricator, mailing-lists, social networks) and we cannot keep track of everything
  • We miss some requests because they are posted on channels that we do not monitor or where they disappear because of the huge content flow (e.g. Project Chat, Twitter)
  • Our processes to track, prioritize and act on requests are not communicated clearly
  • This unclarity leaves a lot of space for interpretation but also negative behaviour: people pinging us most often get “their” tasks done first, etc.
  • We can encounter behavioural issues that are triggered by the above problems.
From the community perspective
Here are the main issues that were reported during the feedback round in September 2020.
  • It takes too long to receive an answer to a request, sometimes there’s no answer at all
  • Issues take too long to be fixed
  • Difficulty to triage and tag tasks on Phabricator
  • Difficulty to get in touch with people who could help fixing the issue
Main fields of suggestions from the community
Here are the main areas of improvements that were reported during the feedback round in September 2020.
  • Having a better/clearer overview of the open bugs and already reported issues
  • Improving the way tasks are triaged and monitored, as well as the creation of Phabricator tickets
  • Being able to suggest and vote for the most important features and bugs to fix
  • The possibility of communicating in other languages than English

Things we would like to keepEdit

Here are some things that we currently appreciate in the current process, and would like to keep while updating it.

  • We collect requests on several channels, so we can gather input from people having different experiences (for example, not everyone knows how to use Phabricator, some data reusers are not familiar with talk pages on wiki)
  • Our support process allows the community to answer some questions, or provide background or information. The development team can easily redirect topics that are community matter. People can also help with triaging tickets and be involved in the support process.
  • The process is collaborative and transparent: people can access discussions, tasks, code, and contribute directly to any of these.
  • The interaction with people is direct, individual (they know who they talk to, and who to reach), the atmosphere is informal.
  • We have a subpage for WMF’s Search Team so they can follow and answer questions about WDQS & search.
  • The development team monitors channels that are close to the community, which helps catching issues before they blow up
  • Some people indicated in the survey that Phabricator works well for them

Action plan for January-April 2021Edit

  • Communicate about the 2021 roadmap and especially why we decided to prioritize the tasks that are in the roadmap
  • Generally, communicate more about the priority of development projects (why we are working on them instead of all of the other possible projects)
  • Redesign the WD:DEV page to include:
    • Better documentation about how to report a bug
    • Better documentation on how to use Phabricator
    • Encourage more openly to report bugs in languages other than English
    • Translations for the documentation pages (but not the discussions)
    • Rename it “report a technical problem” and encourage more discussions within the community, and not only with the development team
    • Provide guidance on how to find Wikidata-related tasks and how to contribute and get involved
  • Suggest a bug report template to make sure that we get useful information that help us to move forward more efficiently
  • Help people describing their need, what’s the impact and the importance of it
  • Decide on which channels the development team will provide technical support, and the ones we won’t (especially on social media), and communicate clearly about it
  • Indicate more clearly how to get in touch with the development team and discuss features (office hour, etc.)
  • Set up a new event (possible name: bug triage hour) where members of the development team will have a look at tickets, and editors will have the opportunity to highlight their most important needs
  • Answer more systematically to all requests on WD:DEV and on tickets that have the Wikidata tag
  • Improve the content of Wikidata-related tickets on Phabricator to make them easier to discover
  • Create more Phabricator boards by projects, to make it easier to find and work on tasks
  • Look at the Wikidata-related proposals of the WMF community survey and see if some of them could be answered by community tools

Action plan for later in 2021Edit

  • Evaluate the possibility of joining the WMF community survey and integrate some of the wishes of the next edition in our roadmap
  • Find better processes to include community requests in our (already very packed) roadmap
  • More clean up of the Phabricator boards
  • Reevaluate and close tickets that have not been touched for a certain period of time
  • Find a way to include the priority of tasks on Phabricator, in order to be more transparent on what we envision to work on in the near future
  • Highlight better Phabricator tasks that could be taken by volunteer developers
  • Find better ways to estimate the priority of community requests: what is the impact of the change, how many people will it help…
  • Set up a system to be able to ping the community communication people all in one, instead of individually (gets needed now that the team is growing)
  • Redirect people who ping us on social networks to the channels that we actively follow
  • Communicate more about the “report a technical problem” page to make sure that community members have the possibility to find it


  • September 2020: kickstart the project, gather feedback from the Community Communication Managers and the Product Manager [done]
  • September 2020: start the feedback loop for the community: identify the problems you encounter and your wishes [done]
  • October 2020: gather all pieces of feedback, define priorities [done]
  • Nov 2020-Jan 2021: decide on improvements for the existing process [done]
  • January 2021: present our action plan to the community gather feedback, make changes accordingly [ongoing]
  • February 2021: present the new set of documentation pages and gather feedback
  • February-April 2021: implement the other changes mentioned above