ِAddressing Vandalism with a Tap: The Journey of Introducing the Patrolling Feature in the Mobile App

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Have you ever wished monitoring and fighting vandalism was easier from your mobile device?

For quite some time Product teams at the Wikimedia Foundation have heard requests to add more tools for protecting against vandalism on mobile devices. The majority of editors who edit on desktops use visual and source editor, edit summary, watchlists, talk pages, templates, recent changes, and may have access to various patrolling tools such as SWViewer, Twinkle, and Huggle. However, for editors who edit through their mobile devices, there has been increasing interest in anti-vandalism tools, especially on Wikipedia’s mobile apps. Starting in August 2023 as a result of the annual plan, the Android team at the Wikimedia Foundation has been working on an anti-vandalism / patrol feature in the Wikipedia Android mobile application.

Over the past six years, the Android team has been working to strengthen editing tools available to mobile users, such as image recommendations, which was a new suggested edits feature that allows users to add images to articles based on machine recommendation (it’s available now on the iOS Wikipedia app too). These features are especially important for Android because the majority of people in mobile-only markets use Android over iOS.

By introducing the Edit Patrol feature to the Wikipedia Android mobile application, the team aimed not only to address the immediate need for enhanced vandalism control for this important group, but also to improve editor workflows and content moderation across all language wikis. 

The new feature offers users with rollback rights several new capabilities within the App:

  • Swipe through a feed of recent changes
  • Review diffs and take action through the toolbar to Thank, Watch page, Send a talk page message to the user, or Undo or Rollback the edit
  • Learn more about the editor you are reviewing, such as how long they’ve been an editor
  • Create and save a personal library of user talk messages to use while patrolling

How did the Android team build this feature?

Improve experience of editors with extended rights” is an objective of the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2023-2024 fiscal year plan that the Android team. It aligns with requests from various language communities, especially medium size wikis, for improvements in the quality of edits made through the app.

Community members emphasized the need for moderation tools that are fair and unbiased across different language wikis, and this was a specific request from the Wishlist.

Following a structured process outlined in the Wikimedia Foundation’s Inclusive Development Playbook, we aim to improve the quality of edits made through the app. This included research, user engagement, and planning. Clear goals were set and feedback was collected to guide the process ensuring a focus on enhancing both Wikipedia’s content quality and overall user experience.

Data is key in the decision-making process 

The Android team decided to focus on specific Wikipedia languages based on user data. We found that there were twice as many users with Rollback rights on Android (371) compared to iOS (176), so we prioritized developing the feature for Android first. Then, we identified which Wikipedia languages had users with Rollback rights using the apps.

Using data shared by our analyst (T322065), we selected Indonesian, Spanish, French, Chinese, and English Wikipedia as our target languages, and made sure to meet with current patrollers before working on designing the feature. We started with Indonesian Wikipedia as our pilot and collaborated throughout the development process with the help of Bonaventura Aditya Perdana, the Indonesian Product Ambassador.

Our aim was to assist wikis that faced challenges with existing monitoring tools, which is primarily small and medium sized wikis. We are also engaging with Igbo Wikipedia to understand the experience of a smaller wikis that do not have standard patrolling policies. With the input of small and medium-sized wikis, we were able to create saved warning messages that could be use as a type of template for communities that lack them.

Incorporating feedback

After presenting at Wikimania 2023 and sharing our initial V1 of the tool, the Android team heard requests from English, Indonesian, and French Wikipedians that they would like to be able to access and insert existing user talk warning templates while using this feature and Saved Messages. In response, the team built V2 to include a significant improvement: Templates.

Editors in the app can now access existing community templates from the editing toolbar, search for existing templates, fill out template data, insert a template, and preview it before posting. Adding this functionality allows patrollers to continue using the existing warning templates they are used to from their wikis while using this tool.

One of the Android team’s goals was to ensure our patrolling solution supported all users regardless of language. We noticed that many language wikis do not have existing user talk warning templates, so we prepared a set of 10 example messages from 5 Wikipedias that have templates, which come pre-loaded into the app and can be used as a key point. We consulted with Igbo Wikipedians on how the links within the messages should be presented, when policy pages are not yet created.

In the first 30 days after release, we saw 63 unique users engage with the tool. All editors who opened the feature swiped through edits to review them, and opened an edit in diff view. 23.8% of those who used the tool completed an undo, and 12.7% completed a rollback. 38.1% of users returned to engage with the tool again on another day.

Additionally, 63.6% of users who provided feedback about the feature, expressed feeling satisfied and 22.7% expressed feeling neutral about Edit Patrol.

What’s next?

We have heard requests to make a few elements of this feature community configurable, and we are exploring that possibility in partnership with the Growth team.The feature is now available for all Wikipedias. To access the feature, download the Android App and set your primary language.

If you have rollback rights on that language wiki, the “Edit Patrol” option will appear in the “Edits” tab. However, if a community decides they want to make the feature available to users who do not have rollback rights but have reached a certain edit threshold, they can contact us via our support emails: android-support@wikimedia.org

As a global rollbacker, you will be able to perform patrols in all the languages where you hold global rollbacker rights through your mobile device.

Are you interested in more about the Mobile Apps team? Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter, try out our mobile app if you haven’t already, and join in contributing to human knowledge on the go!

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