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Anyone with an account may choose to be notified when a certain page changes using the "watch" feature and "my watchlist". MediaWiki does not let people "own" pages; however, the watchlist feature, along with the ability to revert changes, keeps interested users involved in particular pages without the drawbacks of giving someone absolute control over a page.

Controlling which pages are watched

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.)

When saving an edited page, the new watch status (do or do not watch) is determined by the "Watch this page" checkbox.

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If one activates the user preference "Add pages you edit to your watchlist", the checkbox on the edit page will automatically be checked, so unless it is unchecked before saving, the page will be watched upon saving.

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


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

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

Update marker


Email notification


Watching wikitext vs. watching the rendered page

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

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

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.

Related changes feature

The "Related changes" can be used to set up watchlist-like functionality, as explained below. It has the advantage that all changes are listed, not just the last one.

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 collection 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

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

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

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


Wikipedia-specific help


This page is a copy of the master help page at Meta (for general help information all Wikimedia projects can use), with two Wikipedia-specific templates inserted. To update the main text, edit the master help page for all projects at m:Watchlist. For Wikipedia-specific issues, use Template:Ph:Watchlist (the extra text at the bottom of this page) or Template:Phh:Watchlist for a Wikipedia-specific lead (text appears at the top of this page). You are welcome to copy the exact wikitext from the master page at Meta and paste it into this page at any time. To view this page in other languages see the master page at Meta.

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