Temporary or forever? New Watchlist Expiry feature coming to a wiki near you

The Community Tech team is pleased to announce a new feature: Watchlist Expiry. With this new feature, you can optionally select to watch a page for a temporary period of time. When the time period ends, the page will no longer be watched. You don’t need to manually unwatch the page or commit any other action. Rather, the unwatching will be automatically performed by the system. You can update the watch period at any time, and you can see indicators of the watch status on many pages, including on Special:Watchlist and Special:RecentChanges. The feature is available for both desktop and mobile view, and it has been deployed to all Wikimedia wikis.

This feature has a long history—in fact, it was first requested in 2006! Since that time, it has been requested in various Phabricator tickets and in wishlist surveys. In 2019, it was the  #7 request from the Community Wishlist Survey. As a team, we knew that this was a large and complex wish. There was also another challenge: Most of the project was worked on during the pandemic, with reduced capacity and resources. Despite these challenges, we strongly believed in the project. The watchlist is absolutely crucial to the editor experience, and we felt that this feature could be deeply impactful. For this reason, we committed to fulfilling the wish. Now, after  many months of hard work and coordination with volunteer editors, the feature has been rolled out onto all wikis. 

So, why use Watchlist Expiry? It can be helpful for a variety of use cases and editor needs. First, it can be useful for monitoring article pages that require short-lived but focused attention, such as when pages surge in popularity among readers or editors, or when talk pages have particularly active discussions. Second, it can be useful when editors want to monitor pages for a short period of time after an action has been performed, such as a revert, rollback, move, delete, or change in protection status, among other actions. Third, it can be useful for monitoring conversations, such as when short-term conversations are occurring on Talk pages, or when discussions are held for a predetermined period of time. 

Overall, this is a story of a longstanding, highly desired feature, which was finally developed. It is also a story of fruitful community collaboration. We are so thankful to all of the editors who advocated for the wish, joined our discussions on the Talk page, and helped shape the final result of the feature. We couldn’t have done this without all of you, and we’re so happy that we were able to make this feature possible.

So, now, please give Watchlist Expiry a try and tell us what you think! For more information, you can refer to the documentation page. Thank you in advance, and we look forward to reading your feedback!