[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

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[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
I love it when people who have no idea what they are talking about,
pretend to know what they are talking about, and then even worse, gets
submitted to Slashdot, because apparently they might know what they
are talking about.  But they don't know what they are talking about.

Person of ignorance in question:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/on-the-ugliness-of-wikipedia/259747/

Megan Garber believes Wikipedia's apparently extreme ugliness to be
scaring away people.  Because, we all know what Wikipedia is about,
it's not about content, it is about layout.  Less text and more
images.

In any case, I just thought I should let you know not to change the
layout of Wikipedia because of this article.  And if any of her
recommendations is taken into account, I may get mad.  I am looking
for a Facebook-Wikipedia hybrid.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Paul Becherer
2012/7/14 Svip <[hidden email]>:

> I love it when people who have no idea what they are talking about,
> pretend to know what they are talking about, and then even worse, gets
> submitted to Slashdot, because apparently they might know what they
> are talking about.  But they don't know what they are talking about.
>
> Person of ignorance in question:
> http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/on-the-ugliness-of-wikipedia/259747/
>
> Megan Garber believes Wikipedia's apparently extreme ugliness to be
> scaring away people.  Because, we all know what Wikipedia is about,
> it's not about content, it is about layout.  Less text and more
> images.
>
> In any case, I just thought I should let you know not to change the
> layout of Wikipedia because of this article.  And if any of her
> recommendations is taken into account, I may get mad.  I am looking
> for a Facebook-Wikipedia hybrid.
>
The article was an interesting read, and wasn't just about layout; it
had more to say more about *interface*, which is a more general
concept. If there's anything that can be done to increase meaningful
participation by making the interface simpler to use or
better-looking, then why should we not do that? Because we'd rather be
left alone in our own tech-savvy we-know-what's-good-for-you bubble?
Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface doesn't change us into
Facebook overnight. And if it increases actual participation, then I'd
be in favor of it.

Paul Becherer.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Milos Rancic-2
On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM, Paul Becherer <[hidden email]> wrote:
> The article was an interesting read, and wasn't just about layout; it
> had more to say more about *interface*, which is a more general
> concept. If there's anything that can be done to increase meaningful
> participation by making the interface simpler to use or
> better-looking, then why should we not do that? Because we'd rather be
> left alone in our own tech-savvy we-know-what's-good-for-you bubble?
> Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface doesn't change us into
> Facebook overnight. And if it increases actual participation, then I'd
> be in favor of it.

True. BTW, I see strong connection between sentences "Wikipedia is
not, and has no interest in being, Facebook." and "Britannica is not,
and has no interest in being, a website" -- having in mind that
Facebook is another name for "social networking service".

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Michel Vuijlsteke-2
In reply to this post by Svip
On 14 July 2012 16:04, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I love it when people who have no idea what they are talking about,
> pretend to know what they are talking about, and then even worse, gets
> submitted to Slashdot, because apparently they might know what they
> are talking about.  But they don't know what they are talking about.
>
> Person of ignorance in question:
>
> http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/on-the-ugliness-of-wikipedia/259747/


I love it too, when people who have no idea what they're talking about
pretend to know what they are talking about.

For me the most important part of the article is this right here:

>So the real ugliness of the site, Gardner notes, isn't cosmetic. It's that
>Wikipedia has "a built-in bias against design and user-friendliness."

This *is* a real problem, and it's most emphatically something that does
need to be tackled.

Michel Vuijlsteke
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by Milos Rancic-2
Hoi,
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.

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.
Thanks,
      Gerard

On 14 July 2012 17:14, Milos Rancic <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM, Paul Becherer <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
> > The article was an interesting read, and wasn't just about layout; it
> > had more to say more about *interface*, which is a more general
> > concept. If there's anything that can be done to increase meaningful
> > participation by making the interface simpler to use or
> > better-looking, then why should we not do that? Because we'd rather be
> > left alone in our own tech-savvy we-know-what's-good-for-you bubble?
> > Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface doesn't change us into
> > Facebook overnight. And if it increases actual participation, then I'd
> > be in favor of it.
>
> True. BTW, I see strong connection between sentences "Wikipedia is
> not, and has no interest in being, Facebook." and "Britannica is not,
> and has no interest in being, a website" -- having in mind that
> Facebook is another name for "social networking service".
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Audrey Abeyta
Appearance does affect perceptions of credibility, which should be of
interest to Wikipedia. Recently, I was talking to someone who doubted
Wikipedia's validity. When I asked her if it was because the content can be
edited by anyone, she replied, "No, it's the way the site looks."

On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 9:12 AM, Gerard Meijssen
<[hidden email]>wrote:

> Hoi,
> 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.
>
> 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.
> Thanks,
>       Gerard
>
> On 14 July 2012 17:14, Milos Rancic <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM, Paul Becherer <[hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> > > The article was an interesting read, and wasn't just about layout; it
> > > had more to say more about *interface*, which is a more general
> > > concept. If there's anything that can be done to increase meaningful
> > > participation by making the interface simpler to use or
> > > better-looking, then why should we not do that? Because we'd rather be
> > > left alone in our own tech-savvy we-know-what's-good-for-you bubble?
> > > Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface doesn't change us into
> > > Facebook overnight. And if it increases actual participation, then I'd
> > > be in favor of it.
> >
> > True. BTW, I see strong connection between sentences "Wikipedia is
> > not, and has no interest in being, Facebook." and "Britannica is not,
> > and has no interest in being, a website" -- having in mind that
> > Facebook is another name for "social networking service".
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> >
> _______________________________________________
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> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Paul Becherer
On 14 July 2012 16:25, Paul Becherer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2012/7/14 Svip <[hidden email]>:
>
>> Person of ignorance in question:
>> http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/on-the-ugliness-of-wikipedia/259747/
>
> The article was an interesting read, and wasn't just about layout; it
> had more to say more about *interface*, which is a more general
> concept. If there's anything that can be done to increase meaningful
> participation by making the interface simpler to use or
> better-looking, then why should we not do that? Because we'd rather be
> left alone in our own tech-savvy we-know-what's-good-for-you bubble?
> Having a simpler, more user-friendly interface doesn't change us into
> Facebook overnight. And if it increases actual participation, then I'd
> be in favor of it.

It is strange to me, that whenever we talk about Wikipedia edit
activity being down, we never discuss the fact that most of the basic
human knowledge articles have already been written.  Most new articles
are either new stuff happening or specialisations.  I don't think an
interface change is going to change that.  I think the crisis
regarding editor participation is overblown.

And I don't think Wikipedia is ugly or lacks user friendliness, which
is the premise of this article.  And I speak from a reader's point of
view.  And we may want to consider if it is really _everyone_ we want
to edit our articles.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Milos Rancic-2
On 14 July 2012 17:14, Milos Rancic <[hidden email]> wrote:

> True. BTW, I see strong connection between sentences "Wikipedia is
> not, and has no interest in being, Facebook." and "Britannica is not,
> and has no interest in being, a website" -- having in mind that
> Facebook is another name for "social networking service".

That may be right, but that is probably also how it should be.  I
don't mind the fact that Wikipedia is the only top 10 website (in
terms of visitors), that has not adopted Web 2.0.  And hell, if you
look at other information gathering sites, like archive.org, then
Wikipedia is miles ahead in terms of appearance.

I do not think it is fair to call Wikipedia Geocities-esque, because
it is way beyond that.  That or she cannot remember how Geocities
website looked like.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Michel Vuijlsteke-2
On 14 July 2012 17:34, Michel Vuijlsteke <[hidden email]> wrote:

> For me the most important part of the article is this right here:
>
>>So the real ugliness of the site, Gardner notes, isn't cosmetic. It's that
>>Wikipedia has "a built-in bias against design and user-friendliness."
>
> This *is* a real problem, and it's most emphatically something that does
> need to be tackled.

How?  I don't know what the quote means.  What in particular is the
problem with Wikipedia?  The tabs?  The lack of images?  The font?

Most people I talk to, who do not edit Wikipedia, are not doing it
because they are scared away by lack of user friendliness, they simply
have no interest in editing it.  There are a horde of reasons, out
there, but none of them are anything you can fix with Wikipedia's
mission and structure.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On 14 July 2012 18:12, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]> 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

Svip
In reply to this post by Audrey Abeyta
On 14 July 2012 19:05, Audrey Abeyta <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Appearance does affect perceptions of credibility, which should be of
> interest to Wikipedia. Recently, I was talking to someone who doubted
> Wikipedia's validity. When I asked her if it was because the content can be
> edited by anyone, she replied, "No, it's the way the site looks."

Really?  Most people I know think the exact opposite.  Wikipedia's old
web style makes it seem like a credible source, rather than websites
with all sorts of useless features, that usually contain equally
useless content.

In short; I don't think there is a problem, at least not a problem
that can be fixed.  I think it is just the natural evolution of the
web and Wikipedia.  I mean, once you have written articles on Stones
and Paper, what more is there really to cover?

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Mark
In reply to this post by Audrey Abeyta
On 7/14/12 7:05 PM, Audrey Abeyta wrote:
> Appearance does affect perceptions of credibility, which should be of
> interest to Wikipedia. Recently, I was talking to someone who doubted
> Wikipedia's validity. When I asked her if it was because the content can be
> edited by anyone, she replied, "No, it's the way the site looks."
>

I've run into this also, but I suspect part of it is self-referential:
Wikipedia looks like a default install of MediaWiki, and therefore looks
like many half-assed/uncustomized MediaWiki installs out there. But
that's because we are (close to) a default install of MediaWiki! Or
rather, the reverse: the default MediaWiki skin was borrowed from the
one designed for Wikimedia sites.

I wonder if we'd gain a modest boost in perceptions of our design if we
just made sure the skin used on Wikimedia sites, and the default skin
shipped with MediaWiki, were fairly dissimilar in style.

-Mark


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Michel Vuijlsteke-2
In reply to this post by Svip
On 14 July 2012 19:13, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> And I don't think Wikipedia is ugly or lacks user friendliness, which
> is the premise of this article.  And I speak from a reader's point of
> view.


In the words of a far wiser man than you or me: "Yeah, well, you know,
that's just, like, your opinion, man." :)

For one thing, Wikipedia is *objectively* ugly, typography and design wise.
It is hard to read -- and that's not talking about the content, it's just
about the form. Sue, you'll get people saying that it's all a matter of
opinion, but the thing is: it's not.

We've been at this "laying things out" and "making readable pages" thing
for a couple of centuries now, and there's no dark magic involved.

(Quite apart from the main point, that we make it hard for people to engage
with the content, i.e. edit pages and add stuff.)

And we may want to consider if it is really _everyone_ we want
> to edit our articles.


I don't believe you actually said this.

Michel Vuijlsteke
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Kirill Lokshin
In reply to this post by Svip
On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:

> It is strange to me, that whenever we talk about Wikipedia edit
> activity being down, we never discuss the fact that most of the basic
> human knowledge articles have already been written.


I remember this claim being made when we had 2 million articles, and again
when we had 3 million, and again now that we have 4 million.  It wasn't
correct then, and it isn't correct now -- there are millions of perfectly
"basic" articles that still need to be written.

Consider, for example, article number 4 million:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izbat_Al_Burj.  It's a city of some 70,000
people -- is anyone really going to claim that this is a "specialized"
topic?

Kirill
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Yaroslav M. Blanter
On Sat, 14 Jul 2012 13:37:57 -0400, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:
>

> Consider, for example, article number 4 million:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izbat_Al_Burj.  It's a city of some
> 70,000
> people -- is anyone really going to claim that this is a
> "specialized"
> topic?
>
> Kirill

This is actually a very good example. The article was started by Dr.
Blofield who is widely known as geostub creator. I am not going to
discuss now whether mass creation of geostubs is good or not (this is a
separate issue where people sometimes express strong opinions), but the
fact is that most of his articles remain two-line stubs for years unil
(if ever) they attract somebody's attention. Most of my own activity on
English Wikipedia is about writing and expanding geoarticles related to
Russia. In particular, in 2010 Dr. Blofield created one-line stubs of
all districts of Russia (over a thousand). Those which Ezhiki and me
worked on are in a relatively good shape, others are just waiting for us
- it can easily take a decade until this work has been completed. But
both Ezhiki and I are native Russian speakers and have interest in the
subject - and in a sense this is a special skill. There is much more
things to do in English Wikipedia for me, a Russin native speaker, a
speaker of several other languages, an academic, somebody with a broad
range of interests - than for a teenager who does not have any special
skills but feels underappreciated and needs attention. And there are
many more underappreciated teenagers around than people with my profile.

Returning to Izbat_Al_Burj article - usually a 4Mth article would get
an enormous attention and a huge number of hits. The fact that it is
only three paragraphs long at the time I am writing this means - I guess
- that all information easily available in English is scarce and is
still there. We are waiting either for a native Arabic speaker with
access to Arabic literature, or someone who by chance has skiils in
history, in climatology, in human geography of Egypt - in case there is
smth special about this city which is not yet in the article. And all
this, including knowledge of Arabic, I would call special skills.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Michael Peel-4

On 14 Jul 2012, at 14:01, Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:

> This is actually a very good example. The article was started by Dr. Blofield who is widely known as geostub creator.

Nope. Take a look in the article history - it was created manually by User:Mono25.

Thanks,
Mike


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Yaroslav M. Blanter
On Sat, 14 Jul 2012 14:28:36 -0400, Michael Peel wrote:

> On 14 Jul 2012, at 14:01, Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
>
>> This is actually a very good example. The article was started by Dr.
>> Blofield who is widely known as geostub creator.
>
> Nope. Take a look in the article history - it was created manually by
> User:Mono25.
>
> Thanks,
> Mike
>

Oops, indeed, I failed to get the whole history. Sorry for that.

But this only reinforces my point, as Meno25 is a native speaker of
Arabic.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Michel Vuijlsteke-2
On 14 July 2012 19:37, Michel Vuijlsteke <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 14 July 2012 19:13, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> And I don't think Wikipedia is ugly or lacks user friendliness, which
>> is the premise of this article.  And I speak from a reader's point of
>> view.
>
> In the words of a far wiser man than you or me: "Yeah, well, you know,
> that's just, like, your opinion, man." :)
>
> For one thing, Wikipedia is *objectively* ugly, typography and design wise.
> It is hard to read -- and that's not talking about the content, it's just
> about the form. Sue, you'll get people saying that it's all a matter of
> opinion, but the thing is: it's not.
>
> We've been at this "laying things out" and "making readable pages" thing
> for a couple of centuries now, and there's no dark magic involved.
>
> (Quite apart from the main point, that we make it hard for people to engage
> with the content, i.e. edit pages and add stuff.)

I am still not convinced that Wikipedia is any harder to read than any
other website with information.  I find Ars Technica hard to read at
times, same goes for Slashdot or Facebook, for that matter.

I try usually to fix it by enforcing narrow text for the content with
my browser window alone, but I doubt that is the main problem.  Is it
the choice of font?  Is it the font size?  Is it the usage of links in
text and footnotes everywhere?  All I hear is; it's ugly, from a
typography and design perspective, but I have yet to see some concrete
examples.

Furthermore; Wikipedia is not suppose to be a showcase of what CSS can
do with beautiful websites.  It certainly shouldn't contain more
gradients, round corners or other nonsense stuff.

>> And we may want to consider if it is really _everyone_ we want
>> to edit our articles.
>
> I don't believe you actually said this.

I did say that, and I stand by it.  There are editors out there,
although well intended, who will create more damage than good.  They
are likely to be people who are limited in technical knowledge
regarding how to edit wikis.  And those who wish to become better,
will certainly be worth it, but they are not everyone.

And let's be honest, I don't think every newcomer is looking forward
to taking an edit war with an established editor.

Fortunately, a lot are already scared away by the Manual of Style and
the wikicode itself.  There are plenty of things to scare people away
from editing Wikipedia before we get to the interface itself.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Svip
In reply to this post by Kirill Lokshin
On 14 July 2012 19:37, Kirill Lokshin <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM, Svip <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> It is strange to me, that whenever we talk about Wikipedia edit
>> activity being down, we never discuss the fact that most of the basic
>> human knowledge articles have already been written.
>
> I remember this claim being made when we had 2 million articles, and again
> when we had 3 million, and again now that we have 4 million.  It wasn't
> correct then, and it isn't correct now -- there are millions of perfectly
> "basic" articles that still need to be written.
>
> Consider, for example, article number 4 million:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izbat_Al_Burj.  It's a city of some 70,000
> people -- is anyone really going to claim that this is a "specialized"
> topic?

I still stand by my statement, because I did not rule out that there
could be more general articles missing, but they would still be far
more specialised than an article on Stone or any capital city in the
world (which by the way is more specialised to begin than an article
on Stone).

And furthermore, while it was quite coincidental that it was article
number 4 million, how often do new articles of this sort occur?  And
how do we convince people that they can still write an article about a
subject we haven't written about?

I don't think we can, because it is hardly excited for most people to
write an article about Izbat Al Burj.  I mean no offence, but that's
how it is.  There are far more people interested in writing on the
Stone article.  Or an article, one might consider to be more
specialised than Izbat Al Burj, such as OR Gates.

Again; I don't believe there is a problem with the amount of editors
on Wikipedia, or at least not a problem we can fix.  It's like the
natural evolution in everything, sooner or later people were going to
stop using telegraphs, because something better arrived.  Not that
something has arrived to replace Wikipedia in purpose, but probably in
interest.  And you can't do anything about that.

But if there is a problem about people being unable to read articles
probably, then we _should_ do something about that.

Oh and here is a fun fact I have discovered over the years; reading
large texts of a serif typeface is a lot easier than a sans-serif
typeface.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

David Richfield
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. In fact,
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/on-the-ugliness-of-wikipedia/259747/
wastes half the page real-estate on my browser, and with the river of
content that's left in the middle, what does it do?  It reserves about
a third of it for ads.  Quite horrible really.

--
David Richfield
[[:User:Slashme]]

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