A new watchlist feature is included in MediaWiki 1.35: Watchlist Expiry. With this feature, you can optionally select to watch a page for a limited period of time. Once the watch period has expired, the page will be automatically removed from your watchlist. You can update the watch period at any time, including switching from temporary to permanent status. Temporarily watched pages are usually represented by a half star icon (as opposed to a full star, which represents permanently watched pages).
If you would like to continue watching pages permanently, you won't need to change any of your current processes. The user flow for permanently watching pages has remained intact.
How to watch pages temporarily
There are three primary ways to watch pages temporarily. All of these methods follow the same way you may watch a page permanently, except you now have the option to watch a page temporarily.
- Click on the star icon () or “Watch” link at the top of the page.
- You will see that the page is watched permanently as default.
- You will see a pop-up with a dropdown, labeled “Watchlist time period:”. Choose one of the time period options in the dropdown. Your selection will be automatically saved.
- You can dismiss the pop-up by clicking on it, or you can wait for it to automatically disappear after a few seconds.
- If you save a temporary watch period via the star, and if the star remains fully shaded, it is recommended that you refresh the page and check again.
- If you want to watch a page permanently (rather than temporarily) via the star icon or "Watch" link, you don’t need to change your current process. The dropdown will have “Permanent” selected as default.
Watch via source editing (available for desktop)
- If you are currently editing a page, and you are using the source editor, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the checkbox to “Watch this page”. Note that the 2017 wikitext editor is not supported.
- Choose one of the time period options in dropdown, and click “Publish changes”.
- Note: If you want to watch a page permanently (rather than temporarily) when editing, you don’t need to change your current process. The dropdown will have “Permanent” selected as default, so you can check the box to watch the page and click “Publish changes”.
Watch via action=watch (available for desktop & mobile view)
- Visit any action=watch version of a page. This can be accessed by right-clicking on the star icon () or the “Watch” link. You can also directly access the action=watch page by typing in the relevant URL.
- Choose one of the options in “Watchlist time period:” dropdown, and click “Watch”.
- Note: If you want to watch a page permanently (rather than temporarily) on the action=watch page, you don’t need to change your current process. The dropdown will have “Permanent” selected as default, so you can simply click “Watch”.
How to change watch period
You can change a watch period at any time, either to a new temporary period or to a permanent period. There are multiple ways to do this, as described below:
- Via star icon or “Watch” link (desktop & mobile): If you are watching a page temporarily, and if you click on the star icon () or “Watch” link, you can remove the initial watch status and rewatch the page with a new duration. To be clear, you are not changing the watch period, you are unwatching the page and then "rewatching" it, possibly with a different watch period.
- Via source editor (desktop): If you are editing a page with a source editor, you can change the current selection in the drop-down to a different time period. The new selection will be updated upon saving your changes. Note that the 2017 wikitext editor is not supported.
- Via action=watch (desktop & mobile): You can revisit the action=watch URL associated with a page to modify the watch selection. In addition, you can visit the action=unwatch version of the page to unwatch the page and choose a new selection.
How to monitor temporarily watched pages
There is no way to receive notifications when a page is about to expire or has expired from your watchlist. However, there are many ways to track and monitor temporarily watched pages, which we have detailed below.
- Via star icon or “Unwatch” link (desktop): If you are watching a page temporarily, hover over the star icon () or “Unwatch” link to see how many days are left in the watch period.
- Via dropdowns (desktop): You can see how many days are left in the “Watchlist time period:” dropdown. This dropdown is available when editing a page with the source editor or if you visiting an action=watch page that is already being watched.
- Via clock icon (desktop and mobile): On Special:RecentChanges, Special:RecentChangedLinked, and Special:Watchlist, you can see a clock icon for all temporarily watched pages. For desktop users, when you hover over the clock icon, you can see how many days are left in the watch period. For mobile users, when you tap on the clock icon, you can see how many days are left in the watch period.
- Via Watchlist editing (desktop & mobile, advanced mode): You can see all temporarily watched pages in Special:EditWatchlist, sorted according to expiration date. The items that are set to expire first are at the top of the list. The items that are watched permanently remain sorted alphabetically, and they are displayed below the temporarily watched pages. Note that this feature is available in advanced mode for mobile users. To turn on advanced mode, go to your settings page on the mobile site and select "Advanced mode".
Delete, move, protect, block, upload, rollback, etc.
New watch period
You cannot set a watch period or change an existing watch period when performing certain actions, such as delete, move, protect, block, upload, rollback, etc. However, you can choose to modify the watch status after the action has been performed. Refer to the above section "How to watch pages temporarily" for instructions on how to do this.
Existing watch periods
If you have already selected a temporary watch period for a page, and if you check the box to “Watch this page” when performing an action (such as delete, move, protect, block, upload, etc.), the temporary watch status will be preserved. This is also true for automatic rollback upon watching pages. If somebody else chooses to perform an action (such as delete, move, etc.) on a page that you have watched temporarily, the watch status will also be preserved. In the case of move, both the source page and the new page will retain the same temporary watch status. Once you have moved a page, you can separately modify the watch period for the source page and new page.
Limitations of feature
Cannot be default
There is no way to make temporary watch the default when you click the star icon. Each time you watch a page the default is permanent watch and each time you need to change this to a temporary duration.
You can watch a page temporarily via the star icon and action=watch page in mobile view. However, you cannot temporarily watch a page via the mobile apps, since the apps do not currently support the ability to watch pages.
If you are editing a page in VisualEditor, you cannot choose a temporary time period via the “Watch this page” checkbox when saving changes. However, if you are already watching a page temporarily while editing in VE, and if you have selected “Watch this page”, your current watch period will be preserved.
This is a new feature, so it may still have some unexpected issues to address. For this reason, we strongly encourage that you share your feedback (we want to hear from you!). Thank you, and we look forward to checking out your feedback on the project talk page!