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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
I have had it beaten into me by the UK Board that volunteers should be at
the heart of everything ;-)

Richard Symonds
Wikimedia UK
0207 065 0992
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Visit http://www.wikimedia.org.uk/ and @wikimediauk



On 14 July 2012 19:53, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:

> (Well obviously not millions for the design, I meant "use some of our
> money". =))
>
> On 15 July 2012 01:52, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:
>
> > Maybe if we used some of our millions to pay for a good designer?
> >
> > Michel
> >
> >
> > On 15 July 2012 01:46, Richard Symonds <richard.symonds@wikimedia.org.uk
> >wrote:
> >
> >> Maybe if we ran a competition for designers to redesign the wikipedia
> >> mainpage?
> >>
> >> Richard Symonds
> >> Wikimedia UK
> >> 0207 065 0992
> >> Disclaimer viewable at
> >> http://uk.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia:Email_disclaimer
> >> Visit http://www.wikimedia.org.uk/ and @wikimediauk
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On 14 July 2012 19:24, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> > I do think the Wikimedia sites look dated, and very "male", too.
> >> >
> >> > One example I always think of when this issue comes up is Wikifashion:
> >> >
> >> > http://wikifashion.com/wiki/Main_Page
> >> >
> >> > I would love for Wikipedia to have optional skins like that, made by
> >> > graphic designers, just like you can have all sorts of bells and
> >> whistles
> >> > for your browser.
> >> >
> >> > Commons is another project that has a very clunky look. I mean, look
> at
> >> > that main page. This is an image hosting project, for Christ's sake. I
> >> > discussed this with Magnus Manske a few weeks ago at a meet-up, and he
> >> > showed me how Flickr offers people ways to explore their new content,
> >> like
> >> > this for example, showcasing recent uploads:
> >> >
> >> > http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
> >> > http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/2012/07/
> >> >
> >> > Here is Pinterest, which also has a real-time format visualising a
> flow
> >> of
> >> > images:
> >> >
> >> > http://pinterest.com/
> >> >
> >> > These sites are beautiful to look at. If Commons were properly
> designed,
> >> > its front end would not have hundreds of text hyperlinks, but would
> show
> >> > off its new images.
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:42 PM, Michel Vuijlsteke <
> wikipedia@zog.org
> >> > >wrote:
> >> >
> >> > > On 14 July 2012 23:48, David Richfield <davidrichfield@gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >> > >
> >> > > > I really really don't get all this talk about Wikipedia being
> ugly.
> >> > > > To me it's a great example of how text really can move from markup
> >> to
> >> > > > a well-laid-out website with a coherent design philosophy.
> Wikipedia
> >> > > > generates results which adapt to window size very gracefully
> without
> >> > > > taking the cop-out of forcing all the content to run down the
> center
> >> > > > of the page in a fixed size.
> >> > > >
> >> > >
> >> > > Okay, "ugly" was a poor choice of words. Ugly is subjective.
> >> > >
> >> > > Bad typography and poor layout objectively hinders readers. It slows
> >> > > reading speed and reduces comprehension -- not in some vague "well
> >> yeah,
> >> > > that's your word against mine" way, but in an objectively
> >> scientifically
> >> > > measurable way.
> >> > >
> >> > > What Wikipedia does is not really "adapting gracefully". It's
> adding a
> >> > > padding of 1.5em to the left and right of a block of text that spans
> >> the
> >> > > entire width of any available window (minus the 11em of the left
> >> panel).
> >> > >
> >> > > There's a limit to the amount of text you can put on a line before
> it
> >> > > becomes hard to read.
> >> > >
> >> > > What you're calling a "cop-out" is not a cop-out at all. The ads,
> >> well,
> >> > > they need to be there for The Atlantic to be able to pay the bills,
> >> but
> >> > > increasing the number of characters per line in the text column
> would
> >> > *not*
> >> > > make the better. To the contrary: the amount of words per line is
> >> about
> >> > > just right. Here, take the test yourself.
> >> > >
> >> > > This is the article in Wikipedia layout: http://imgur.com/xinFW
> >> > > This is the article as seen on The Atlantic: http://imgur.com/WH1WT
> >> > > And this is the article run through Evernote Clearly:
> >> > > http://imgur.com/sH3HJ
> >> > >
> >> > > Anyone can see, I hope, that the Clearly (
> >> http://evernote.com/clearly/)
> >> > > version is by far the easiest and most comfortable to read. Bigger
> >> font.
> >> > *
> >> > > Different* font. Contrast less harsh. Fewer characters per line.
> >> Margins.
> >> > > Leading. Kerning.
> >> > >
> >> > > It's almost funny there's no article about macrotypography on
> >> Wikipedia.
> >> > :)
> >> > >
> >> > > Michel
> >> > > _______________________________________________
> >> > > Wikimedia-l mailing list
> >> > > Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> >> > > Unsubscribe:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> >> > >
> >> > _______________________________________________
> >> > Wikimedia-l mailing list
> >> > Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> >> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> >> >
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> >> Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> >> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> >>
> >
> >
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Jul 14, 2012, at 7:52 PM, Michel Vuijlsteke wrote:

> Maybe if we used some of our millions to pay for a good designer?

What if, what if.

---
Brandon Harris, Senior Designer, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 15 July 2012 00:52, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:
> Maybe if we used some of our millions to pay for a good designer?
>

Won't work. Aside from the wikipedia forever mess that shows how
things can go wrong the En main page is firmly under the control of
the en.wikipedia community and it will change it when it is ready and
not before. Try the ang.wikipedia.org instead.

Common on the other hand is pretty much a lost cause pending a major
rewrite of mediawiki to allow it to act as a more conventional form of
image hosting software.

--
geni

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 15 July 2012 02:40, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 15 July 2012 00:52, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:
> > Maybe if we used some of our millions to pay for a good designer?
> >
>
> Won't work. Aside from the wikipedia forever mess that shows how
> things can go wrong the En main page is firmly under the control of
> the en.wikipedia community and it will change it when it is ready and
> not before. Try the ang.wikipedia.org instead.
>

Ah, erm... *interesting* choice of design choices on ang.wikipedia.org. :)

Of course, design by committee (and a fortiori by community) doesn't really
work. Would it not be possible for at least a style guide to be agreed
upon? A couple of good fonts to be licensed? A showcase wiki to be set up?

Another annoying aspect of the lack of good graphic design / typography, I
think, is that the presentation side of things is being taken care of by
third parties (I like http://sophiestication.com/articles/ipad.html,
http://www.wikiwebapp.com/ was in the news this week) -- and that they''re
not at all interested in the editing/adding content side of Wikipedia.

Michel
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
The way to solve the design issue is to enable third parties to create
alternative skins that users can install in preference over the default
ones offered by the Foundation. Surely that's the sort of thing open
software is about.



On Sun, Jul 15, 2012 at 1:53 AM, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org>wrote:

> On 15 July 2012 02:40, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On 15 July 2012 00:52, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:
> > > Maybe if we used some of our millions to pay for a good designer?
> > >
> >
> > Won't work. Aside from the wikipedia forever mess that shows how
> > things can go wrong the En main page is firmly under the control of
> > the en.wikipedia community and it will change it when it is ready and
> > not before. Try the ang.wikipedia.org instead.
> >
>
> Ah, erm... *interesting* choice of design choices on ang.wikipedia.org. :)
>
> Of course, design by committee (and a fortiori by community) doesn't really
> work. Would it not be possible for at least a style guide to be agreed
> upon? A couple of good fonts to be licensed? A showcase wiki to be set up?
>
> Another annoying aspect of the lack of good graphic design / typography, I
> think, is that the presentation side of things is being taken care of by
> third parties (I like http://sophiestication.com/articles/ipad.html,
> http://www.wikiwebapp.com/ was in the news this week) -- and that they''re
> not at all interested in the editing/adding content side of Wikipedia.
>
> Michel
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
A proposal to do that has already been started by yours truely. See
talk:main_page
On Jul 15, 2012 6:47 AM, "Richard Symonds" <richard.symonds@wikimedia.org.uk>
wrote:

> Maybe if we ran a competition for designers to redesign the wikipedia
> mainpage?
>
> Richard Symonds
> Wikimedia UK
> 0207 065 0992
> Disclaimer viewable at
> http://uk.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia:Email_disclaimer
> Visit http://www.wikimedia.org.uk/ and @wikimediauk
>
>
>
> On 14 July 2012 19:24, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I do think the Wikimedia sites look dated, and very "male", too.
> >
> > One example I always think of when this issue comes up is Wikifashion:
> >
> > http://wikifashion.com/wiki/Main_Page
> >
> > I would love for Wikipedia to have optional skins like that, made by
> > graphic designers, just like you can have all sorts of bells and whistles
> > for your browser.
> >
> > Commons is another project that has a very clunky look. I mean, look at
> > that main page. This is an image hosting project, for Christ's sake. I
> > discussed this with Magnus Manske a few weeks ago at a meet-up, and he
> > showed me how Flickr offers people ways to explore their new content,
> like
> > this for example, showcasing recent uploads:
> >
> > http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
> > http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/2012/07/
> >
> > Here is Pinterest, which also has a real-time format visualising a flow
> of
> > images:
> >
> > http://pinterest.com/
> >
> > These sites are beautiful to look at. If Commons were properly designed,
> > its front end would not have hundreds of text hyperlinks, but would show
> > off its new images.
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:42 PM, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org
> > >wrote:
> >
> > > On 14 July 2012 23:48, David Richfield <davidrichfield@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > > I really really don't get all this talk about Wikipedia being ugly.
> > > > To me it's a great example of how text really can move from markup to
> > > > a well-laid-out website with a coherent design philosophy. Wikipedia
> > > > generates results which adapt to window size very gracefully without
> > > > taking the cop-out of forcing all the content to run down the center
> > > > of the page in a fixed size.
> > > >
> > >
> > > Okay, "ugly" was a poor choice of words. Ugly is subjective.
> > >
> > > Bad typography and poor layout objectively hinders readers. It slows
> > > reading speed and reduces comprehension -- not in some vague "well
> yeah,
> > > that's your word against mine" way, but in an objectively
> scientifically
> > > measurable way.
> > >
> > > What Wikipedia does is not really "adapting gracefully". It's adding a
> > > padding of 1.5em to the left and right of a block of text that spans
> the
> > > entire width of any available window (minus the 11em of the left
> panel).
> > >
> > > There's a limit to the amount of text you can put on a line before it
> > > becomes hard to read.
> > >
> > > What you're calling a "cop-out" is not a cop-out at all. The ads, well,
> > > they need to be there for The Atlantic to be able to pay the bills, but
> > > increasing the number of characters per line in the text column would
> > *not*
> > > make the better. To the contrary: the amount of words per line is about
> > > just right. Here, take the test yourself.
> > >
> > > This is the article in Wikipedia layout: http://imgur.com/xinFW
> > > This is the article as seen on The Atlantic: http://imgur.com/WH1WT
> > > And this is the article run through Evernote Clearly:
> > > http://imgur.com/sH3HJ
> > >
> > > Anyone can see, I hope, that the Clearly (http://evernote.com/clearly/
> )
> > > version is by far the easiest and most comfortable to read. Bigger
> font.
> > *
> > > Different* font. Contrast less harsh. Fewer characters per line.
> Margins.
> > > Leading. Kerning.
> > >
> > > It's almost funny there's no article about macrotypography on
> Wikipedia.
> > :)
> > >
> > > Michel
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Wikimedia-l mailing list
> > > Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list
> > Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> >
> _______________________________________________
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 15 July 2012 14:44, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
> The way to solve the design issue is to enable third parties to create
> alternative skins that users can install in preference over the default
> ones offered by the Foundation. Surely that's the sort of thing open
> software is about.

err monobook.css and monobook.js or whatever they are called these days.


--
geni

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Sun, Jul 15, 2012 at 7:34 PM, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 15 July 2012 14:44, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The way to solve the design issue is to enable third parties to create
> > alternative skins that users can install in preference over the default
> > ones offered by the Foundation. Surely that's the sort of thing open
> > software is about.
>
> err monobook.css and monobook.js or whatever they are called these days.
>


Gee. I'd want a webpage that shows me hundreds of different ways Wikipedia
can look – pink, green, yellow, pastel; serious, snazzy, fun or weird;
sidebar left, right, top, or bottom – created by talented designers, where
I can point and click to install the one I like in less than a minute.

Something ... you know ... user-friendly, for non-programmers.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 16 July 2012 02:51, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:

> Gee. I'd want a webpage that shows me hundreds of different ways Wikipedia
> can look – pink, green, yellow, pastel; serious, snazzy, fun or weird;
> sidebar left, right, top, or bottom – created by talented designers, where
> I can point and click to install the one I like in less than a minute.
>
> Something ... you know ... user-friendly, for non-programmers.


You appear to be confused as to what open software is all about.

In any case the need to fit around the stuff Wikipedians put in
articles limits the amount of customisation that is possible in a
practical skin.


--
geni

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
Hoi,
It was not a small laptop screen, the screen was big enough...

I blogged about it and included screenshots.
Thanks,
GerardM

http://ultimategerardm.blogspot.nl/2012/07/can-everybody-read-wikipedia.html

On 14 July 2012 19:21, Svip <svippy@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 14 July 2012 18:12, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Yesterday I wanted to make a point to a friend. I tried to do it by
> having
> > the facts that are sourced in the Wikipedia article read by the person
> who
> > did not have the information available. Reading the article did not
> really
> > happen because of the problems with the lay-out as presented on the
> screen
> > of a laptop.
>
> That must be a tiny laptop screen. I really have not experienced
> Wikipedia being difficult to read, and I have read it in _any_
> browser; on phones (both smartphones and non-smartphones); text-based
> browsers; through obscure terminals, and yes laptops and desktops.
> Wikipedia is one of the few websites that actually puts its content
> above its clutter. Essentially; if you have trouble reading
> Wikipedia, you are going have a lot of trouble browsing the web.
>
> > Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia everyone can edit. Not everybody does
> read.
> > It is like the issues with Wikibooks and Wikisource, we care about
> editing
> > and the reading is largely a by product.
>
> Well, I personally think that is the wrong philosophy. Wikipedia -
> and wikis in general - should be about the readers first, and the
> editors first. Why? Because essentially all editors are readers as
> well, and the whole reason we are all here to edit is for someone else
> to read it.
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 16 July 2012 07:09, geni <geniice@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 16 July 2012 02:51, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Gee. I'd want a webpage that shows me hundreds of different ways
> Wikipedia
> > can look – pink, green, yellow, pastel; serious, snazzy, fun or weird;
> > sidebar left, right, top, or bottom – created by talented designers,
> where
> > I can point and click to install the one I like in less than a minute.
> >
> > Something ... you know ... user-friendly, for non-programmers.
>
>
> You appear to be confused as to what open software is all about.
>
> In any case the need to fit around the stuff Wikipedians put in
> articles limits the amount of customisation that is possible in a
> practical skin.


And this is exactly why the Foundation should tackle this issue. And have
it done by people who know what they're doing -- typographers,
newspaper/magazine designers, information architects, whatever it takes.

The possible benefits are huge. A better reading experience and better
reader comprehension alone would be worth it, but a better layout can also
lead to more interaction, more editors, and ultimately better and more
content.

Making Wikipedia easier to read is a problem many orders of magnitude
simpler and cheaper than writing a new parser or making media uploads
easier.

There are people around the world who do this for a living, I can't see why
some budget could not be set aside for it.

Michel
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
Well, you asked for volunteers... ;-)

I started a tool that would let you change the CSS easily. Edit your
common.js user page and add (pardon the "Leif Ericsson" pun...) :

importScript('MediaWiki:Live EriCSSon.js');

Once that is done, you can use a URL parameter to use any Wikipedia
page with a CSS stylesheet.

I also created a demo stylesheet called "explosion" (as in "exploded
view"), which, when used on top of vector on a wide (>1600px) screen,
uses a 900px central text column, with "floating" infoboxes,
thumbnails, and TOC on the side. With "Live EriCSSon", you can
test-drive the stylesheet, like so:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology?useCSS=User:Magnus_Manske/explosion.css

And this is what it will look like:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSS_Stylesheet_explosion_demo_Biology.png

All links to other wiki pages will automatically be extended with the
URL parameter, so you can browse Wikipedia with the stylesheet without
having to re-enter it on every page. Note that the original (vector)
stylesheet will initially show briefly on every page :-(

If this is something people think useful, I'll add a way to select
from pre-defined stylesheet catalogs etc.

Cheers,
Magnus

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM, Magnus Manske
<magnusmanske@googlemail.com>wrote:

> Well, you asked for volunteers... ;-)
>
> I started a tool that would let you change the CSS easily. Edit your
> common.js user page and add (pardon the "Leif Ericsson" pun...) :
>
> importScript('MediaWiki:Live EriCSSon.js');
>
> Once that is done, you can use a URL parameter to use any Wikipedia
> page with a CSS stylesheet.
>
> I also created a demo stylesheet called "explosion" (as in "exploded
> view"), which, when used on top of vector on a wide (>1600px) screen,
> uses a 900px central text column, with "floating" infoboxes,
> thumbnails, and TOC on the side. With "Live EriCSSon", you can
> test-drive the stylesheet, like so:
>
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology?useCSS=User:Magnus_Manske/explosion.css
>
> And this is what it will look like:
>
>
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSS_Stylesheet_explosion_demo_Biology.png
>
> All links to other wiki pages will automatically be extended with the
> URL parameter, so you can browse Wikipedia with the stylesheet without
> having to re-enter it on every page. Note that the original (vector)
> stylesheet will initially show briefly on every page :-(
>
> If this is something people think useful, I'll add a way to select
> from pre-defined stylesheet catalogs etc.
>
> Cheers,
> Magnus



Thanks Magnus, that looks really great. This is exactly the sort of
alternative page design I was thinking of, and that we should enable people
to select, especially if they have a large screen -- where the lines of
text can end up excessively long, pictures become all bunched up, and the
text flow gets messed up.

Of course, ideally users shouldn't have to manually edit a .js file to
obtain this result. They should just have to click a button somewhere that
will do it for them. Editing .js files is clunky. It's like being back in
DOS days. A programmer may take something like that in his stride, but most
people in Wikimedia's target group will baulk at being asked to do
something like that, and resent it.

In fact, I had to laugh the other day, when I read a Wikimedia demographic
survey. It literally said, "two-thirds of Wikipedia editors are not
programmers". What an odd way of phrasing that!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AEditor_Survey_Report_-_April_2011.pdf&page=19

Surely, the interesting fact here that most people would have reported is
the converse, i.e. that one-third of Wikipedia editors *are* programmers.
That's far more than in the general population, and a huge demographic
bias. In fact, the page says that "only" 36% can be classified as techies,
and that 39% of male editors can program and create their own applications
(vs. 18% of female editors).

We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 6:43 PM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM, Magnus Manske
> <magnusmanske@googlemail.com>wrote:
>
>> Well, you asked for volunteers... ;-)
>>
>> I started a tool that would let you change the CSS easily. Edit your
>> common.js user page and add (pardon the "Leif Ericsson" pun...) :
>>
>> importScript('MediaWiki:Live EriCSSon.js');
>>
>> Once that is done, you can use a URL parameter to use any Wikipedia
>> page with a CSS stylesheet.
>>
>> I also created a demo stylesheet called "explosion" (as in "exploded
>> view"), which, when used on top of vector on a wide (>1600px) screen,
>> uses a 900px central text column, with "floating" infoboxes,
>> thumbnails, and TOC on the side. With "Live EriCSSon", you can
>> test-drive the stylesheet, like so:
>>
>>
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology?useCSS=User:Magnus_Manske/explosion.css
>>
>> And this is what it will look like:
>>
>>
>> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSS_Stylesheet_explosion_demo_Biology.png
>>
>> All links to other wiki pages will automatically be extended with the
>> URL parameter, so you can browse Wikipedia with the stylesheet without
>> having to re-enter it on every page. Note that the original (vector)
>> stylesheet will initially show briefly on every page :-(
>>
>> If this is something people think useful, I'll add a way to select
>> from pre-defined stylesheet catalogs etc.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Magnus
>
>
>
> Thanks Magnus, that looks really great. This is exactly the sort of
> alternative page design I was thinking of, and that we should enable people
> to select, especially if they have a large screen -- where the lines of
> text can end up excessively long, pictures become all bunched up, and the
> text flow gets messed up.
>
> Of course, ideally users shouldn't have to manually edit a .js file to
> obtain this result. They should just have to click a button somewhere that
> will do it for them. Editing .js files is clunky. It's like being back in
> DOS days. A programmer may take something like that in his stride, but most
> people in Wikimedia's target group will baulk at being asked to do
> something like that, and resent it.

If people generate some more CSS files to use with my little tool, it
could be loaded by default. Might need some polishing, though.

There's now a link in the toolbox where you can specify the CSS page
you want in a dialog box; you can even make it "permanent" (no need
for the URL parameter anymore).

> In fact, I had to laugh the other day, when I read a Wikimedia demographic
> survey. It literally said, "two-thirds of Wikipedia editors are not
> programmers". What an odd way of phrasing that!
>
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AEditor_Survey_Report_-_April_2011.pdf&page=19
>
> Surely, the interesting fact here that most people would have reported is
> the converse, i.e. that one-third of Wikipedia editors *are* programmers.
> That's far more than in the general population, and a huge demographic
> bias. In fact, the page says that "only" 36% can be classified as techies,
> and that 39% of male editors can program and create their own applications
> (vs. 18% of female editors).
>
> We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.

I believe we can do a lot in pure CSS/JavaScript, today, not 2015.
Backend support will, of course, always trump JS hacks in the long
run, though.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
>
> > Thanks Magnus, that looks really great. This is exactly the sort of
> > alternative page design I was thinking of, and that we should enable
> people
> > to select, especially if they have a large screen -- where the lines of
> > text can end up excessively long, pictures become all bunched up, and the
> > text flow gets messed up.
> >
> > Of course, ideally users shouldn't have to manually edit a .js file to
> > obtain this result. They should just have to click a button somewhere
> that
> > will do it for them. Editing .js files is clunky. It's like being back in
> > DOS days. A programmer may take something like that in his stride, but
> most
> > people in Wikimedia's target group will baulk at being asked to do
> > something like that, and resent it.
>
> If people generate some more CSS files to use with my little tool, it
> could be loaded by default. Might need some polishing, though.
>


Sounds great. And as we discussed, the Commons front end could really do
with work too.



> There's now a link in the toolbox where you can specify the CSS page
> you want in a dialog box; you can even make it "permanent" (no need
> for the URL parameter anymore).
>
> > In fact, I had to laugh the other day, when I read a Wikimedia
> demographic
> > survey. It literally said, "two-thirds of Wikipedia editors are not
> > programmers". What an odd way of phrasing that!
> >
> >
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AEditor_Survey_Report_-_April_2011.pdf&page=19
> >
> > Surely, the interesting fact here that most people would have reported is
> > the converse, i.e. that one-third of Wikipedia editors *are* programmers.
> > That's far more than in the general population, and a huge demographic
> > bias. In fact, the page says that "only" 36% can be classified as
> techies,
> > and that 39% of male editors can program and create their own
> applications
> > (vs. 18% of female editors).
> >
> > We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
>
> I believe we can do a lot in pure CSS/JavaScript, today, not 2015.
> Backend support will, of course, always trump JS hacks in the long
> run, though.



Well, we have to start somewhere, even if it's an improvised solution. But
Wikimedia needs to pull its finger out at some point ... rather than
spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new bureaucratic jobs,
creating an administrative gravy train to spend the public's donations, the
movement should invest in upgrading its interface, which is the most
visible and important part of what it does.

I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
WYSIWYG editor, for example, or a new Commons search function. Honestly,
people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Monday, 16 July 2012 at 19:46, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
> WYSIWYG editor, for example, or a new Commons search function. Honestly,
> people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
> structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.


I'm no great shakes as a programmer (in fact, I'm an exceptionally lazy programmer), but I know why it takes so long to develop a WYSIWYG editor: because doing it properly is actually kind of a hard problem. And as the Mythical Man Month points out, you can't just keep on adding programmers if you want it done faster. Software development teams don't actually scale that well.

--
Tom Morris
<http://tommorris.org/>



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
It shouldn't take five years though, should it? And there are dozens
(hundreds?) of jobs in queues, waiting to be done, which can't be done
because nobody is free to do them.



On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 12:50 AM, Tom Morris <tom@tommorris.org> wrote:

> On Monday, 16 July 2012 at 19:46, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> > I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
> > WYSIWYG editor, for example, or a new Commons search function. Honestly,
> > people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
> > structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.
>
>
> I'm no great shakes as a programmer (in fact, I'm an exceptionally lazy
> programmer), but I know why it takes so long to develop a WYSIWYG editor:
> because doing it properly is actually kind of a hard problem. And as the
> Mythical Man Month points out, you can't just keep on adding programmers if
> you want it done faster. Software development teams don't actually scale
> that well.
>
> --
> Tom Morris
> <http://tommorris.org/>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 17 July 2012 00:46, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
> Sounds great. And as we discussed, the Commons front end could really do
> with work too.

Not much point until the backend is sorted out. Basically you need to
turn mediawiki into a true content management system rather than a
wiki moving in the direction of being a CMS.


> I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
> WYSIWYG editor, for example,

Because given current mediawiki markup it probably isn't possible even
in theory. Mediawiki markup with ParserFunctions installed is probably
Turing complete and wikipedians have taken advantage of is. As a
result trying to create an WYSIWYG editor that will interact with the
current article set is probably impossible. WYSIWYM may be a better
approach.


> or a new Commons search function.

That largely goes back to mediawiki not really being designed for image hosting.

However even if it wants image searching is a hard problem. Stock
photo agencies do better than most but thats because their
photographers have a direct financial incentive to make their pictures
findable. For any other images archive expect to do a lot of digging.
Of course for most people simply typing what you want pics of into
wikipedia is the best approach. For example typing "Sutton Hoo" into
wikipedia produces a pretty good set of images.

>Honestly,
> people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
> structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.

Its more than a few I'm afraid . And in any case you've got the
problem that there isn't much of a pool of people who really know
their way around the mediawiki codebase.

--
geni

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 7/16/12 7:43 PM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
>
I agree that's true, but I'd also be curious how we can do that without
falling into the trap of the "user-friendly", invisible-interface
ideology, which does it by assuming users are unable to meaningfully
control computers, and therefore must be fed the correct results by
experts who know how to operate computers. That way lies just a
different version of stratification.

I'm somewhat partial to Jeannette Wing's view that "computational
thinking" should attempt to decouple minutiae of programming (e.g.
knowing how to debug C, which can be an expert skill) from the idea of
being able to critically consider and control computers in the sense of
executing processes (which needs to be widely available). The idea (as
Ted Nelson also argued earlier) is to devolve as many tools as possible,
to whatever extent possible, towards as many people as possible, which
"user-friendliness" paradoxically doesn't really do (Lori Emerson has
been pushing this argument, fwiw).

How that precisely should operate on Wikipedia is a tricky question, of
course. I would personally like to see us better enable the "potentially
programming public", for one thing, where "programming" is taken in a
broad sense.

-Mark


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 2:24 AM, Mark <delirium@hackish.org> wrote:

> On 7/16/12 7:43 PM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
>
>> We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
>>
>> I agree that's true, but I'd also be curious how we can do that without
> falling into the trap of the "user-friendly", invisible-interface ideology,
> which does it by assuming users are unable to meaningfully control
> computers, and therefore must be fed the correct results by experts who
> know how to operate computers. That way lies just a different version of
> stratification.
>
> I'm somewhat partial to Jeannette Wing's view that "computational
> thinking" should attempt to decouple minutiae of programming (e.g. knowing
> how to debug C, which can be an expert skill) from the idea of being able
> to critically consider and control computers in the sense of executing
> processes (which needs to be widely available). The idea (as Ted Nelson
> also argued earlier) is to devolve as many tools as possible, to whatever
> extent possible, towards as many people as possible, which
> "user-friendliness" paradoxically doesn't really do (Lori Emerson has been
> pushing this argument, fwiw).
>
> How that precisely should operate on Wikipedia is a tricky question, of
> course. I would personally like to see us better enable the "potentially
> programming public", for one thing, where "programming" is taken in a broad
> sense.
>
> -Mark



Mark, you say "knowing how to debug C, which can be an expert skill" ... I
hope you are aware that about half of our overall global target audience
wouldn't even know what C is, let alone know how to write something in it
or debug it. I think I understand what you mean with user-friendliness
being potentially restrictive, and I have nothing against some advanced
functions being available to buffs: but that's really the bells and
whistles, which should come after the basics.

Take application software like MS Word – you can do all the basic stuff
just by clicking, and you don't need to know anything about programming
whatsoever. That's the basics. It's what any product that wants to survive
needs to offer. You *can* also program fairly involved macros in MS Word:
that's the bells and whistles. People who are into macro programming will
consider that a vital function, but 95% of Word users will probably never
program a macro in their lives. (If memory serves, later versions of Word
didn't even include the Developer tab with all the Visual Basic functions
in the default installation.)

User-friendliness that will make the programming-illiterate comfortable is
not a trap but an absolute must.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 09:11:57AM +0200, Gerard Meijssen wrote:
> Hoi,
> It was not a small laptop screen, the screen was big enough...
>
> I blogged about it and included screenshots.
> Thanks,
> GerardM
>
> http://ultimategerardm.blogspot.nl/2012/07/can-everybody-read-wikipedia.html


That's default web behaviour. If you want narrower columns, just make the
browser window narrower.

* If your answer is "Some people don't know how to use a browser"... well...
ARGH
* Else If your answer is "Lets make it narrower for everyone (including us WIMPs
who *do* know how to use Windows Icons Menus and Pointers) whether they
want to or not." I KEEEEL YOU
* Else If your answer is "better DTPishlayout control in CSS, including some sane way to
do proper columnated text": YES YES, 1000 TIMES YES!
* Else If other: Ok, go ahead, I'm listening? :-)

sincerely,
Kim Bruning

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 25 July 2012 15:57, Kim Bruning <kim@bruning.xs4all.nl> wrote:

>
> That's default web behaviour. If you want narrower columns, just make the
> browser window narrower.
>
> * If your answer is "Some people don't know how to use a browser"...
> well...
> ARGH
>

Most people never resize their browser windows.
If your answer is "Most people are stupid and don't *deserve* a better
reading experience"… well, sum, yeah. There's that.


> * Else If your answer is "Lets make it narrower for everyone (including us
> WIMPs
> who *do* know how to use Windows Icons Menus and Pointers) whether they
> want to or not." I KEEEEL YOU
>

It's not about making it "narrower". It's about making it *better*.
Analogy: "Let's reduce the amount of words in the lede" <> "Let's make the
lede better".


> * Else If your answer is "better DTPishlayout control in CSS, including
> some sane way to
> do proper columnated text": YES YES, 1000 TIMES YES!
>

Column layout on scrolling web pages doesn't make a lot of sense.
Some additional "DTP-ish" layout control in CSS would be nice, sure, but
that's not the point.


> * Else If other: Ok, go ahead, I'm listening? :-)
>

Well, see points raised earlier. Making Wikipedia easier to read and use is
not just mollycoddling lazy users who "should know better".

Michel
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
I think the clear moral of this story is that, as accommodating and
reader-friendly you can be, you just can't make everyone happy.

We should listen to all opinions and suggestions, but expect to decide most
of the time that the suggestions are simply dumb or unhelpful.

On 25 July 2012 16:22, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia@zog.org> wrote:

> On 25 July 2012 15:57, Kim Bruning <kim@bruning.xs4all.nl> wrote:
>
> >
> > That's default web behaviour. If you want narrower columns, just make the
> > browser window narrower.
> >
> > * If your answer is "Some people don't know how to use a browser"...
> > well...
> > ARGH
> >
>
> Most people never resize their browser windows.
> If your answer is "Most people are stupid and don't *deserve* a better
> reading experience"… well, sum, yeah. There's that.
>
>
> > * Else If your answer is "Lets make it narrower for everyone (including
> us
> > WIMPs
> > who *do* know how to use Windows Icons Menus and Pointers) whether they
> > want to or not." I KEEEEL YOU
> >
>
> It's not about making it "narrower". It's about making it *better*.
> Analogy: "Let's reduce the amount of words in the lede" <> "Let's make the
> lede better".
>
>
> > * Else If your answer is "better DTPishlayout control in CSS, including
> > some sane way to
> > do proper columnated text": YES YES, 1000 TIMES YES!
> >
>
> Column layout on scrolling web pages doesn't make a lot of sense.
> Some additional "DTP-ish" layout control in CSS would be nice, sure, but
> that's not the point.
>
>
> > * Else If other: Ok, go ahead, I'm listening? :-)
> >
>
> Well, see points raised earlier. Making Wikipedia easier to read and use is
> not just mollycoddling lazy users who "should know better".
>
> Michel
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 17 July 2012 00:46, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:

> I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
> WYSIWYG editor, for example, or a new Commons search function. Honestly,
> people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
> structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.


"I don't understand it, so it must be simple." This often turns out
not to be the case.


- d.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly [ In reply to ]
On 17 July 2012 00:46, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I honestly don't understand why it is taking so many years to develop a
> > WYSIWYG editor, for example, or a new Commons search function. Honestly,
> > people, if you want to create paid jobs, don't inflate the chapter
> > structure, but employ and pay a few programmers and designers.
>
> On 25 July 2012 16:41, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> "I don't understand it, so it must be simple." This often turns out
> not to be the case.
>
> I realised both that it was an incredibly difficult problem, and that WMF
is really serious about getting on with it, when they decided to hire James
F. to take charge of the project.

Deryck
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