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Help:Watchlist
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"WP:W" redirects here. For the welcoming committee, see Wikipedia:Welcoming committee. For the W Award, see Wikipedia:W Awards.
"WP:WATCH" redirects here. For the guideline about problematic words, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch. For WikiProject Watches, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Watches.
This help page is a how-to guide.
It details processes or procedures of some aspect(s) of Wikipedia's norms and practices. It is not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, and may reflect varying levels of consensus and vetting.
Example of a watchlist
A watchlist is a page which allows any logged-in user to maintain a list of "watched" pages and to generate a list of recent changes made to those pages (and their associated talk pages). In this way you can keep track of, and react to, what's happening to pages you have created or are otherwise interested in.
By default, pages are kept permanently on a user's watchlist until such time as they choose to 'unwatch' them. However, various options also exist for temporarily watching pages, from periods between one week and six months.
Effects of watchlisting a page
Watching a page means that the recent changes made to it will show up on your watchlist (Special:Watchlist), as well as changes to its associated talk page. Actions affecting watched pages (page moves, page creations and deletions, protection) also appear in the watchlist. For example, if you watch a page that does not yet have a talk page, you will see on your watchlist when someone creates that talk page.
If a page you have watched is moved to a new title, the new title will be automatically added to your watchlist. Even if the page is later moved back (and even if the page at the new title is deleted), the new title will remain in your watchlist along with the old one. If you notice mysterious nonexistent pages appearing on your list of watched pages, this is the most likely explanation.
When you view Recent Changes, Enhanced Recent Changes or Related Changes, entries relating to pages you are watching appear in bold text. This means that it may be beneficial to mark pages as "watched" even if you do not intend on viewing the Special:Watchlist page.
Privacy
See also: Wikimedia:Privacy policy
No user, not even administrators, can tell what is in your watchlist, or who is watching any particular page. Publicly available database dumps do not include this information either. However, developers who have access to the servers that hold the Wikipedia database can obtain this information.
Number of watchers
For any particular page, it is possible to discover how many users have it on their watchlist. Under the Tools panel of the left sidebar go to Page information where "Number of page watchers" is shown. If the number is less than 30 it is not displayed for reasons of privacy and security.
Email notification
Main page: Help:Email notification
Watching a page allows you to receive email notification of changes to it. To enable this feature, select "Email me when a page or file on my watchlist is changed" at Special:Preferences. (Currently, it is not possible to limit email notifications by page – you will receive notification when any page on your watchlist is changed.)
RSS feed
Main page: Wikipedia:Syndication
You can also monitor your watchlist via RSS (RSS feed when logged in). You can also monitor your watchlist via RSS when logged out – see Wikipedia:Syndication#Watchlist feed with token.
Controlling which pages are watched
This screenshot shows a page that is not on the watchlist of the user. Clicking on the star will add it to the watchlist.
The star on this page is blue to indicate that it is on the watchlist of the user.
There are four ways to control which pages you have on your watchlist:
  1. Tab at top of page: When viewing a page, click the star symbol
    between the 'View history' tab and the search box at the very top of the page, to respectively add or remove the page from your watchlist.[1] Note that the star symbol is available in the default website design ("skin"); in other skins, the tab says "watch" or "unwatch".
    Watching pages that don't exist: You can watch a page even if neither the content page nor the talk page exists, enabling you to be alerted if either the content page or the talk page is created. To do that, go to the page's URL, either by typing the URL directly or following a (broken) link, and then press "Watch" (depending on the skin you may have to press Cancel first).
  2. Option at bottom of edit box: When editing a page, check or uncheck "Watch this page" before saving (above the 'Show preview' button).
  3. Edit entire watchlist: Click "Edit your list of watched pages" button at the top of the watchlist page to view or alter the list of watched pages directly. The first option takes you to Special:Watchlist/edit, where the watched pages are listed with checkboxes which can be used to remove items. The second takes you to Special:Watchlist/raw, which has a text area with a list of watched pages, one title per line, sorted by namespace number and then alphabetically. You can edit the list directly, copy it to an external editor or replace it with a list created elsewhere. Duplicates are automatically removed on saving. In the list, redlinked (non-existent) pages are still watched, as are their talk pages, and this applies to subpages and their talk pages. When you click watch (star) on, for example, a User Talk: page, the link is canonicalized to User: in the list.
  4. Popups gadget: If you have the popups gadget enabled, you can use it to watch or unwatch a linked page without having to view it.
If you check "Add pages I edit to my watchlist" on the "Watchlist" tab of your user preferences, then the "Watch this page" checkbox will always be checked by default when you edit pages. Other similar options are "Add pages I create to my watchlist", "Add pages I move to my watchlist", and (for administrators) "Add pages I delete to my watchlist".
Twinkle has the option to automatically add articles it's used on to your watchlist (including PROD nominations, XfD nominations and reverts). To change these settings, go to Wikipedia:Twinkle/Preferences​.
It should also be noted that:
Temporarily watching pages
Further information: mw:Help:Watchlist expiry
A new watchlist feature (Watchlist Expiry) was introduced in 2020. It enables users to optionally select to watch a page only for a limited period of time. (1 week, 1 month, 3 months or 6 months). This is done by clicking the hollow blue star icon and selecting the preferred time period in the dropdown which then appears. Once the chosen watch period has expired, the page is automatically removed from your watchlist. You can alter the watch period at any time, including switching from temporary to permanent watching, or unwatching completely at any time. Temporarily watched pages are usually represented by a half-filled blue star icon (as opposed to a fully-filled blue star, which represents a permanently watched page).
If you simply want to permanently watch a page as usual, you do not need to change any of your current processes.
Limitations
How to read a watchlist (or Recent Changes)
Legend (help):
r Edit flagged by ORES
N New page
m Minor edit
b Bot edit
D Edit made at Wikidata
(±123) Page byte size change
The legend shows at the top right of the watchlist
When you are logged in to Wikipedia, a link, Watchlist, appears at the top of every page. This links to the special page Special:Watchlist, reporting recent changes to your watched pages. It is a list separated by days, ordered backwards according to the time of the edit.
Each line of a Watchlist (or Recent Changes page) shows details of each edit: whether minor (m), whether made by a bot (b), if a new page was created (N), if the edit was at an associated Wikidata page (D), the time, a link to the page, a link to the difference ("diff") made by the edit in question, a link to the page history ("hist"), the editor's user name or IP address, the increase (green) or decrease (red) in the number of bytes, e.g. (+76), (-490) and, if over 500, in bold: (+794), (-2,412), an arrow with a URL link to the specific section that was edited, and the edit summary. Wikipedia:Added or removed characters has more about the green and red numbers.
In August 2016 the English Wikipedia got ORES. When enabled at Beta, it displays a red r at edits which were flagged by the ORES system as potentially damaging. When disabled, the legend says r but no edits are marked. Beta features may change.
Technically, the watchlist is just a way to filter recent changes to the wiki, and therefore has the same technical limitation of only showing changes made in the last 30 days.[2]
Pages that have been changed since you last visited them are shown with a green marker.
Options
There are various options available to control how the list of changes is displayed:
Customizing watchlists
Main page: Wikipedia:Customizing watchlists
It is possible to go beyond the standard options available in the "Watchlist" tab of your user preferences (see #Options section above). In particular, you can customize your watchlist using CSS, by editing your skin.css page. See Wikipedia:Customizing watchlists for details.
Hiding pages from a watchlist
Main page: Wikipedia:Hide Pages in Watchlist
It is possible to watch a page without watching its associated talk page; it is also possible to watch only a talk page. More information can be found at Wikipedia:Hide Pages in Watchlist.
Alternatives to watchlists
Main page: Help:Public watchlist
By default, an account can have only one watchlist. However, it is possible to set up watchlist-like functionality using the "Related changes" feature, in a way that effectively enables a user to achieve multiple watchlists. These are visible to anyone. To do this, create a page (normally in your own user space) containing links to the pages you wish to watch. Changes to those pages can then be monitored by going to the user page and clicking "Related changes". Note that in this case the talk pages corresponding to "watched" pages are not automatically included, and that changes to the user page itself will not be picked up.
Related Changes can also be used to monitor changes to pages belonging to a category, including the addition of pages to the category. However, the removal of pages from the category is not detected.
Custom tools are available to change the behavior of the watchlist, including User:MusikAnimal/customWatchlists​, which allows watchlist entries to be categorized.
The template {{delmon}} may be used to generate a watchlist-like page that indicates the status of pages with respect to the various deletion processes.
Watchlist notices
Main page: Wikipedia:Watchlist notices
Watchlist notices are messages which are posted at the top of all users' watchlists, for example to publicize changes or discussions which are of importance for the whole editing community. Users are able to dismiss these messages when they have read them. The messages are placed via the message page MediaWiki:Watchlist-messages (editable by administrators only).
Reporting technical issues
If you are experiencing a technical issue with your watchlist, such as the watchlist not updating after an edit has been made to one of your watched articles, the issue can be reported on Wikipedia:Village pump (technical).
See also
This page is referenced in the Wikipedia Glossary.
Notes
  1. ^ When the star (or in other appearances "watch" or "unwatch") is clicked, the message with id 'addedwatchtext' (talk) or message with id 'removedwatchtext' (talk) message is shown above the page, and "Watch" is changed to Unwatch or conversely. Depending on the browser this is done without reloading the whole page, using AJAX.
  2. ^ The entries come from the recentchanges table and are therefore restricted to edits not older than 30 days (the current value of the $wgRCMaxAge variable for Wikipedia).
  3. ^ Bug 9790: Watchlist doesn't show earlier normal edits when hiding bot edits or minor edits.
  4. ^ Bug 35768: Current positioning of the "Enhanced watchlist" preference is confusing.
External links
Last edited on 9 February 2021, at 11:50
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