new plan to replace flags with Readiness Markers

On today's call, we had a long and fruitful discussion about the flags on
the site, and the plan to change them. We revised the revised plan. Here's
what we decided:

*A) Remove the mediawiki template that provides the current flag system. *

This will keep the existing data in the database, but hide all evidence of
it. Flags will no longer be displayed on a page for a regular user, and the
flag form checkboxes will no longer show up for someone who's editing the

This will fix the problem that's been happening — people being scared away
from the site by a long list of RED THINGS that SOUND SCARY but are
actually quite hard to understand. Rather than trying to implement a
complex educational process to teach everyone what all those flags mean, a
decision was made long ago to simplify them. Today we realized rather than
replacing them with simpler editor-focused technical to-do-list terms, we
should be replacing them with end-user-focused information about the
quality of the content. Thus will will:

*B) Add a "Readiness Marker" — two new fields to all Doc pages:*

*     1) a drop down select with five choices: *
              > Ready to Use
              > Almost Done
              > In Progress
              > Coming Later
              > -unknown- (default)
*      2) an open text field where editors can leave comments about what is
needed. *

There was a lot of discussion about the fact the current flags kinda-sorta
don't even work right now. If you click on a flag term, it should go to a
list of all content with that flag — and it doesn't. Of course, as smart
developers in the meeting people's started thinking through how we could
make this work... but a decision was made that this is not a priority and
we have other things that are more pressing to work on (like getting the
compatibility tables done). So we will *not* be working on any kind of flag
system that makes lists of content anytime soon.

It was agreed that we do need better ways for contributors to find tasks,
and more easily find a set of pages to edit. We agreed that this should be
approached from a design perspective (let's first ask: what kind of lists
do people want? what kind of tools could be helpful? what is it people are
looking for?) and then come up with a plan to choose technology to fulfill
that need (which might include a new set of flags), instead of focusing on
the flags alone and forcing a solution that might not meet the needs at

Jen Simmons
designer, consultant and speaker
host of The Web Ahead
twitter: jensimmons <>

Received on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 18:44:52 UTC