Many people find it useful to keep track of changes to certain pages that they are particularly interested in. The "Watch" feature helps you to do this by identifying the pages you want to "watch". Changes to those pages are then noted on your personal "Watchlist" page and you can get email notification of changes if you have provide an email address (see preferences). This feature helps people take ownership of pages, while still allowing others to contribute to them.
Controlling which pages are watched
There are several ways to add and remove pages from your watchlist. Note that you must be logged in to perform any of these:
- Select the "watch" tab at the top of each page to add the current page to your watchlist. If you are already watching the page then an "unwatch" link appears instead and if selected it will remove the page from your watchlist.
- After editing a page you can check the checkbox underneath the edit box before you save the page. It is possible to change your user preference to "Add pages you edit to your watchlist". If this is done, all pages you edit will have the checkbox underneath the edit box already filled in by default.
- Visit your watchlist page (by selecting the "My Watchlist" link at the very top of the page). Once there you can choose to "Remove all pages", "Mark all pages visited", or use the "Show and edit complete watchlist" link to select individual pages to remove.
Effects of watching a page
Each page that is "watched" by an individual is added to their personal "watchlist". The watchlist is accessible by following the "My watchlist" link at the very top of each page or by visiting the page Special:Watchlist. The first page of the watchlist is like a recent changes page just for the pages you are watching.
- change how recent the edits must be to show up on the watchlist by default (i.e., the "Number of days that are shown in watchlist").
- hide your own edits from the watchlist
- hide bot edits from the watchlist (e.g., edits that automatically remove vandalism)
- Expand the watchlist to show all applicable changes. By default, only the most recent page change is shown for each page. Expanding the watchlist (by modifying your preferences) will show every single edit made, not just the most recent edit.
- change the number of edits to show in expanded watchlist (assuming you have expanded the watchlist as described above).
Each line shows details about an edit: the day, whether minor or major, the time, a link to the page, the difference between the current version and the last one, the history, the user name and the edit summary. (See Help:Recent changes for explanations.)
Renaming a watched page does not show up on the watchlist. After a page is renamed (i.e., "moved"), both the old and the new name are watched.
While viewing the watchlist page can be helpful, there are other reasons to watch pages as outlined in the next sections.
In Recent Changes, watched pages are bolded.
If you have provided an email address (when registering or via your preferences) it is possible to receive email notification when pages in your watchlist are edited. To do this, you will need to make sure that the appropriate checkboxes are marked in the "User Profile" tab. The relevant choices include:
- Email me when a page I'm watching is changed
- Email me also for minor edits of pages
If you are receiving email updates, then when another user edits a page you are watching you will receive a brief email message with a link to the page and their edit summary. To reduce the amount of email you receive, you will not be emailed again for later edits of the same page unless you view the page while logged in. So if you would like to continue to receive email messages about a page, you will need to log in and visit the page.
Watching a non-existing page
You can watch a page that does not yet exist. Just visit the edit window of the proposed page and select the "Watch" tab as you normally would. When someone creates the page (with the exact same title), it will show up on your watchlist.
Deletion of pages
Oddly, the deletion of a watched page is not shown in the watchlist!
However, Special:Watchlist/edit shows all watched pages, including the deleted ones. Deleted pages will show up as red links, since the page no longer exists.
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 changes to the image itself (i.e., uploading a new image).
Privacy of watchlists