Help:Watching pages

This is a copy of the master help page at m:Help:Watching pages. Do not edit this page. Edits will be lost in the next update from the master page. Either edit the master help page for all projects at Meta, or edit the project-specific text at Template:Ph:Watching pages. You are welcome to copy the exact wikitext from the master page at Meta and paste it into this page at any time.


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Tracking Changes

  1. Recent Changes
  2. Enhanced recent Changes
  3. Related Changes
  4. Watching pages
  5. Page History
  6. Diff
  7. User Contributions


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Anyone with an account may choose to be notified when a certain page changes using "watch" and "my watchlist". MediaWiki doesn't let people "own" pages, however, this feature and the ability to revert pages, provides the most needed functionality—without the drawbacks of giving somebody absolute control over a page.

Note that the watchlist feature is not as reliable as Recent Changes and Related Changes: on Wikimedia, in the past it has sometimes given "Database error" without any further explanation. Even if Related Changes has equal difficulty in allowing watching a large set of pages, the difference is that when using a set of pages with links as a set of separate watchlists, a list that gets too large can simply be split.

The main drawback of the latter possibility is that it does not have the feature that edited pages are automatically added to the collection of watched pages.

From MediaWiki 1.5 (if enabled; this has not been done on the linked test wiki) each page has a link to an info page showing, among other things, the number of users watching the page.

Controlling which pages are watched edit

When logged in, there is a link "watch" or "unwatch" at the margin of each non-dynamically-generated page. By clicking on that link, you add the current page and the corresponding talk page (or if it is a talk page, that page and the corresponding non-talk page) to the collection of pages you "watch", or remove them, respectively. (All additions to and deletions from the list of watched pages apply to the non-talk page / talk page combination: one can not watch one and not watch the other.)

Switching from not watching to watching and conversely can also be done on saving an edited page: there is a checkbox "Watch this page". Note that when unchecked, this does not mean "do not change" but "unwatch".

Furthermore you can activate the user preference "Add pages you edit to your watchlist". In that case the checkbox on the edit page is checked automatically, so unless it is unchecked before saving, the page will be watched.

A list of watched pages, with the possibility of en masse unwatching pages by clicking checkboxes, can be done conveniently using //, also available as link at the top of the Watchlist.

Effects of watching a page edit

Watchlist edit

When the user is logged in, every page has a link to the user's watchlist, also accessible by the link Special:Watchlist. It approximately functions as a custom recent changes just for pages that you watch. It gives a list of all watched pages, ordered backward according to the time of the last edit of the page, optionally up to some cutoff time.

Each line shows details about the last edit: the day, whether minor or major, the time, a link to the page, the difference between the current version and the last but one, the history, the user name and the edit summary. There is currently no way to exclude minor changes from the watchlist.

Note that for every edited page only information about the last edit is shown. For example, if the last edit was minor there is no indication whether there have also been major changes recently. Since one is typically interested in all changes since one last checked, the history of the page needs to be checked.

The watchlist is only one of the features with regard to watching pages; even without ever using it, specifying pages to watch is useful.

Recent changes edit

In Recent Changes and Enhanced Recent Changes, watched pages are bolded.

Update marker edit

From MediaWiki 1.5 the message "updated (since my last visit)" appears in lines on the watchlist, on the recent changes page, and in the page history. Note that to reset this (clear the notification flag) one has to be logged in when viewing the page. The message has CSS class "updatedmarker".

Email notification edit

From MediaWiki 1.5 , depending on preference settings, you get an email after a watched page has been edited by somebody else. This will not be repeated until you view the page. Note that you have to be logged in when viewing the page, otherwise you will not be notified of further changes.

Optionally this notification system can ignore minor changes.

See Email notification.

Having a separate email for every edited page that one likes to watch in the sense of the other watch features, may be too much. New features are being proposed and developed to deal with this: the option to have emails sent, after a delay, with a list of edited pages, and/or the possibility to specify a subset of watched pages for email notification.

For the latter, as a workaround, one may be tempted to log in under a different username just to specify a different (typically smaller) watchlist for email notification. However, after viewing a page under one username, one would have to clear the notification flag for that page for the other username too.

Watching wikitext vs. watching the rendered page edit

Note that watching pages detects changes in the wikitext only, not all changes in the rendered page, see history of the wikitext vs. history of the rendered page. One can additionally watch the templates used, and the templates used by these templates, etc. This also limits the effect of watching an image page or category page. Oddly, it is not possible to watch an image. Also it is not possible to watch a category in the sense of being notified if pages are added or removed. With "related changes" additions can be detected, for removals one has to watch all pages in the category.

Watching a non-existing page edit

You can also watch a non-existing page. Then you see it on your watchlist when somebody creates it. This is often the case for talk pages. For a non-talk page, if the page has a (broken) link to it, press that link and press "Watch" (depending on the skin you may have to press Cancel before getting the link Watch). You can also go to the non-existing page using the URL.

Deletion of pages edit

Oddly, the deletion of a watched page is not shown in the watchlist!

Also, // shows all watched non-talk pages, including the deleted ones. Since the pages in the list are given in the form of links, deleted ones are easily identified, especially if you normally do not watch nonexisting non-talk pages.

However, talk pages are not listed separately, hence deletion of a talk page can not be detected in this manner. In particular talk pages of template pages are vulnerable: content that is valuable enough for a non-talk page could be put here, if, by the nature of the template, it is not suitable for the template page itself.

Using a set of pages with links as a set of separate watchlists edit

Pages with links (possibly specially created for this purpose, e.g. as subpages of one's user page) can be used with Related Changes as a collecting of separate "watchlists". Note however that unlike My Watchlist, Related Changes does not automatically include talk pages; to watch also the corresponding talk pages, links to them also have to be in the page on which Related Changes is applied. If the links to the talk pages are put just for this purpose, a blank space as link label can be used, which makes the link invisible and ineffective, except for Related Changes. See e.g. w:List of astronomical topics and its wikitext, with items in the form [[Main Page]] [[Talk:Main Page| ]] showing up as just Main Page .

Note that Related Changes does not detect an edit in the page itself and its talk page. Either include a self-link and a link to the talk page in the page, or put the page in another "special watchlist", or in one's standard watchlist.

Such pages can use the template mechanism to include other pages. However, see Pollution of categories.

Watching pages in a category by applying Related Changes to the category has a major drawback: removal of a page from the category is not detected.

Watching a category or an image edit

Watching a category or an image means watching the editable part. Adding a page to, and removing a page from a category is not reported. The same applies for changing the image.

As an alternative or in addition to using the watchlist feature, one can also define a user style for links to selected pages, putting in one's CSS a list of lines like:

  • a[title ="pagename"] {color: white; background: red; font-size: 150% }

This works in Opera, but not in IE.

On the (Enhanced) Recent Changes page it works like the bolding feature mentioned above, but it is more versatile, e.g. allowing extra emphasis on pages one is very interested in, or different styles for different categories of interesting pages. Furthermore, it also works on user contributions pages, and on regular pages (also for piped links, but not for indirect links through a redirect). It also applies, less usefully, for the section editing links in the page itself.

To highlight links to the given page also from other websites, including interlanguage links, use instead of the above:

  • a[href ="full url "] { .. }

Note that the full url is needed, even to highlight links from the same project, although the HTML code uses the relative url /wiki/pagename.

Article hit statistics edit

There is a counter for page views of a given page, but on Wikimedia sites it has been disabled for performance reasons.

Privacy of watchlists edit

Ordinary users or administrators cannot tell what is in your watchlist, or who is watching any particular page. Developers who have access to the servers that hold the Wikipedia database can figure out this kind of information. Publicly available database dumps do not include this kind of information.

See also edit

Wikiquote-specific content edit

Links to other help pages edit

Help contents - all pages in the Help namespace: Meta b: c: n: w: q: wikisource wiktionary

Reading: Overview | Go | Search | URL | Namespace | Page name | Section | Link | Backlinks | Piped link | Interwiki link | Redirect | Variable | Category
Tracking changes: Recent | (enhanced) | Related | Watching pages | Page history | Diff | User contributions | Edit summary | Minor edit
Logging in and preferences: Logging in | Preferences | User style
Editing: Overview| New page | Images/files | Image description page | Special characters | Formula | Table | EasyTimeline | Template intro | Renaming (moving) a page | Automatic conversion of wikitext | Talk page | Testing | rlc
Projects: Meta (master page) | Wikibooks | Wikicommons | Wikinews | Wikipedia | Wikiquote | Wikisource | Wiktionary
For other languages see Meta.

External Links edit

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