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Wikipedia Redefined (wikipediaredefined.com)
550 points by troethom on Aug 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 288 comments

You'd probably want any redesign of Wikipedia to start with the understanding that the front page of the English Wikipedia isn't WWW.WIKIPEDIA.ORG, it's EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG, and that that page is dominated by content --- most notably the WP Featured Articles, which are a core part of the Wikipedia community.

Draw the pretty colored lines after you grok the concept.

It goes downhill for me as they try to get more technical, redefining the way the encyclopedia is edited and organized. Drag and drop reformatting of article layouts? Really? Don't the best Wikipedia articles tend to be conformant to template layouts?

Wikipedia is not Digg. It does not have, as its primary goal, the delight of random web users. They are doing something bigger than that.

I'm also not a fan of the branding idea. First, they've confused Wikipedia with The Wikimedia Foundation. The two aren't the same thing. The branding they propose makes sense only for the latter. Second, they're trying to do that organic living logo thing that has become ultra-trendy lately (just read Brand New Blog to see it done well); "as Wikimedia evolves, the little lines in the logo will change". Well, maybe, but the relationship between Wikimedia top-level properties doesn't change all that regularly, nor does it meaningfully change depending on the context. Nor does the aggregate set of lines between properties draw an appealing or meaningful picture.

Also the capital "I" in the font they're using is killing me.

It's hilarious from the start - first thing they do is throw out the logo that incorporates multiple languages and says 'fuck you, we're going English for Wiki'. They compound this by then making all the various logos English-derived, so these guys have basically shouted to the world that they don't grasp the basics of their client.

They even propose a feature that shows everyone how much English dominates the other languages in other languages, being the colour bar. And if you want something not in English, you have to find the nigh-undiscoverable 'roll over top right corner' to have the language selecter appear. They're pushing really hard to make non-English users feel like second-class citizens.

Then they redesign the page to make content harder to get to by putting a giant damn banner at the top of every page. Literally a third of the page is the banner. It's a wonder they didn't suggest putting some 'subtle' advertising in or something.

This redesign literally made be laugh out loud several times. My main regret is that I don't have a marketing budget, because then I could ensure these jokers would never get any of it.

They lost me at "Jmagine" ....

Ugh thanks for pointing that out -- I read the whole article and was assuming 'Jts' was some technology I'd not heard of yet.

Not just that - they redefine the word "history", which is a core component of the site for article revisions. And they changed where the contents are placed (do you know how many holy wars this started?!?!), they wipe to the community chosen logos, they change the templating system of the English main page (with one that is poorly laid out - check out the featured picture of the day section!), they associate number of articles with popularity...

Not sure how well they thought this out. They seem o have taken their own design brief, bu not consulted with Wikipedians!

Best this could be would be an iPad app. Not for the main site(s).

> Not just that - they redefine the word "history"

Despite the historical use of "history" on WikiPedia, I'd rather it be called "Revisions." Revisions is much clearer as a concept.

> Not sure how well they thought this out. They seem o have taken their own design brief, bu not consulted with Wikipedians!

I'm not a Wikipedian (I assume that's what contributors refer to themselves as?), but I'd welcome some more personalization into the site. It'd be wonderful for me to be able to easily see the pages I've viewed, and be able to highlight and keep track of things in much the same way that I could in a real set of encyclopedias. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be within WikiPedia itself--at least not for me, but I'm sure the masses would like the same sort of features, and they'd be more willing to just create an account on WikiPedia than to install some third party app/plugin/etc.

"Revision" is also a more honest admittance that edits are often revisionist history.

Oh hardly!

What offended me the most is their suggestion that the Wikimedia Foundation appropriate the name "wiki". Either they lack awareness that the wiki is a separate invention from Wikipedia or they do not mind language and usage evolving in such a way as to make it hard to explain the history of the development of the technologies and nearly impossible for the inventor of the wiki to get the recognition he deserves.

Extend the same argument. They probably said 'fuck you, we're going English for Wikipedia' instead of Enzyklopädie or whatever like every other recognizable brand worldwide.

Let's face it, English is the universal language.

English is indeed spoken by over a billion people, however it's not spoken by the other six billion.

> Draw the pretty colored lines after you grok the concept.

There is nothing to grok. Imagine Google's landing page being chokeful of "content" including, most notably, the featured articles of random nature.

Your comment inadvertently demonstrates the problem with Wikipedia as it exists now. A vast majority of its users has nothing to do with its community. People come, they consume and they leave. Sad, but that's life. But still the site is built to favor not their experience, but the experience of those who is deeply involved with Wikipedia - the very same people who are perfectly content with how things are and who resist the change initiated by those outside of the community.

So perhaps instead of dismissing alternative views as complete garbage, it might've been a better idea to try and understand where their authors are coming from and why it is that they are proposing the changes.

The Wikipedia FA's aren't "random". They're a showcase of the best articles on the site, and are p a i n s t a k i n g l y vetted by the WP community. Getting your article on the front page is a very big deal. The FA process is one of the primary drivers of editorial quality on the site.

> Getting your article on the front page is a very big deal.

I'm sure it is. If I wrote that article that is. If on the other hand I just walked in through a front door it is as useful as a book of the month featured in a local library. It is essentially a random pick.

> The FA process is one of the primary drivers of editorial quality on the site.

Hold on. So you are saying that if it weren't for a carrot of being featured on the front page, the Wikipedia editors would've not been putting as much effort into polishing the articles as they do now. This is simply not true.

I think you're misinterpreting your parent comment; I believe he's referring to the fact that to become a featured article you must go through an extremely rigorous process that definitely improves the article it's applied to (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Featured_article_crit... ). You end up with a thousand or so articles a year (rough guess, I'm not active on Wikipedia) that have gone through some or all of this process, which makes a surprisingly large dent. Also, after being listed as a featured article, it's theoretically held to that standard in perpetuity (in fact, Wikipedia has a group of people dedicated to maintaining these). Next time you're reading an article that seems exceptionally well written and researched on Wikipedia, check its FA status.

I am sure Olympic athletes would still train if there was no gold medal but it would not be the same.

Giving people something to strive for helps define what it is to succeed.

A big deal for who? Nobody cares except the 5 people involved.

The people involved create the content on Wikipedia. If it's a big deal for them, it's a big deal for Wikipedia as a whole.

(to put it in web 2.0 speak: properly incentivizing users to submit quality user-generated content is essential to any crowdsourced website, and few incentives work as well as the recognition of your peers).

"5 people". You've never read an FA debate.

Where can I find them?

Type in "WP:FAC" into the search. Believe me, it's more rigorous than pretty much anything I've eve seen. About 6 years ago I wrote the article on exploding whales, and this hit the main page. Now it's not even featured any more!

You wrote that? My hat's off to you, sir. Did you know they have an entire category http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Exploding_animals now? :)

People went a little exploding animal crazy, if I recall correctly :-)

I did a lot of things on Wikipedia. Perhaps my most lasting creations will have been [citation needed] and the admin's noticeboard. Though I have, perhaps, a somewhat dubious legacy, it was a fairly amazing experience - rather marred by the manner in which I had to leave the project.

I've never once edited a Wikipedia article and have no desire to do so. I'm I'm the epitome of a Wikipedia outsider and I agree with your parent that this is not good design.

It's pretty and minimalist and trendy but it isn't Wikipedia. Honestly, they would have done the same thing with any website. It's just a shallow coating of gloss over what they've labelled as "bad design". There is a lot wrong with this whether you're an insider or outsider. These are my biggest peeves:

Not only do they throw up a huge middle finger to non-English speakers (something I usually don't ever mind but this is almost obscene) but they do it in a way which involves replacing the current system with mystery meat navigation. How is anyone supposed to know the color bar is clickable and not just a ripoff of Vimeo?

The logo... They explain why the current logo is what it is then proceed to basically say "but we don't give a shit, let's use cool fonts and be trendy". The whole concept of the world being a puzzle of knowledge goes right out the window and they carried absolutely no piece of it into the new one. Also, the "w" brands have one major flaw: Wictionary. Every other name is a compound word but Wiktionary isn't a compound word but kind of a half compound word. It sticks out and doesn't make sense like the others (had the others truly made sense to begin with). I know it's a minor detail affecting only one brand but good design is all about the details.

In the end this redesign amounts to nothing but slapping a fresh coat of trendy on a massively popular website. It smacks of arrogance and self importance. I have to say they damn sure know how to make something look pretty and trendy but the way they went about this, especially the subject they chose, made them look pretty terrible now.

> Not only do they throw up a huge middle finger to non-English speakers

Yes, that irked me too, amongst other things. But intriguingly, they are from Lithuania, where Vikipedija does not start with a W.

A vast majority of its users has nothing to do with its community

So, your thinking is that Wikipedia should be more like YouTube comments.

In the words of John Lennon, "Well, you know..."

I appreciate why the authors have made the suggestions that they have.

Their reasonably desires do not prevent the end result being a dog's breakfast.

Wikipedia is not a social media site.

> Imagine Google's landing page being chokeful of "content" including, most notably, the featured articles of random nature.

Yahoo's landing page is full of content and is useful for many people. Wikipedia's landing page is also full of content and is organized much better then yahoo's page. The majority of wikipedia's audience will google "SOMETHING" or "SOMETHING wiki" and read it possibly click a few links from the main article. A large minority of Wikipedia users including many who rarely or never edit or contribute want to browse "random" interesting facts possibly going on an info binge clicking dozens of links(leading to a tree of articles).

Google is a search engine designed to be fully functional in its simplicity. Wikipedia is a community.

If you use Wikipedia only as a search engine, you are missing out.

I'm not. I only ever use wikipedia the same way I would use an encyclopedia - to look up facts. I'm entirely uninterested in the community, just as I'm uninterested in the individual contributors to an encyclopedia.

The article makes some silly points, but it also makes some good ones. The front page of wikipedia shouldn't be mainly comprised of a list of languages - that's useless to most people. It should mainly be about search.

I've also never seen a "featured article" and am not really interested in using wikipedia like that.

>The front page of wikipedia shouldn't be mainly comprised of a list of languages - that's useless to most people. It should mainly be about search.

How much page real estate does a page have to have devoted to what essentially boils down to typing a query into a search bar and pressing enter before it's considered "mainly about search"?

I'd say being told "this is a community that cares about non-English speaking people" isn't completely useless to most people.

It clearly cares about non-English speaking people, as there's many articles in other languages. As I say, I don't think the vast majority of people consider wikipedia as a "community". They consider it a place to find facts.

However, you don't dedicate 90% of your home page to 5% of use-cases.

Is it that hard to have a small dropdown language selection in one of the corners? I don't see why "language" needs to be the main thing on the wikipedia homepage.

Also I'm not sure going forward that language will matter that much. Chrome can already translate webpages to whatever language you choose with pretty good results.

No, I am not.

I've been a part of the community, did daily edits for about a year, but ultimately there's just too many people who like to argue and enforce things (read - "delete shit left and right") rather than to actually contribute and edit. To each his own, but that community was not something that I would ever miss.

> "Imagine Google's landing page being chokeful of "content" including, most notably, the featured articles of random nature."

In the case of Google that is easy, since they have no content. Wikipedia does, and displays it (and yes, content, not "content", I have no idea what you thought you were doing there, but I saw it) -- along with a search field. So where is the problem?

> "People come, they consume and they leave. Sad, but that's life. But still the site is built to favor not their experience, but the experience of those who is deeply involved with Wikipedia"

You say that is if it's a bad thing. It's not as if there was any content there if the site wasn't accomodating to those who actually help out.

> "the change initiated by those outside of the community."

Making a websites with some screen mockups, zero code and a huge font as to make the whole thing unreadable isn't initiating change, it's piggybacking on the success and popularity of Wikipedia.

I mean, yes, by all means get involved and help improve it. But just telling them from the outside what to do, that's silly. Actually, all the content is free. You can make a mirror of Wikipedia and implement those changes. Let us see a live demo, you know. Screenshots and the promise to check your email are cute, but it's kinda been done before.

"but it's kinda been done before"

You nailed it. I think that's the thing that really bothered me if not many others too. This is cliche now and if you're going to do it then you'd better make something really god damn good! This comes off like "hey, we can redesign a major website and get a bunch of notoriety, lots of street cred, back links, and look like a big deal in the design world". Major fail. The bar was already set pretty high but now that we've seen it enough times the bar is way higher.

"Been done before" doesn't even begin to cover the amount of spec mockups we see like this. Oh, you whipped up some new design and functionality for us in Photoshop one afternoon? Thank you so much for doing literally 5% of the work of your proposed redesign, please let me know where to send the cheque for giving us a huge amount of work to do that we never asked for.

> I mean, yes, by all means get involved and help improve it.

I don't think you understand just how toxic some parts of the community are.

> I don't think you understand just how toxic some parts of the community are.

Oh, I do.. which is why I know you're talking about editors, not coders/designers, i.e. the ones it actually concerns.

But even if it was true for all of Wikipedia -- so? What is making some mockups and a (kinda pompous IMHO) domain name going to achieve in that case? Even less.

This is a bunch of designers talking to a bunch of designers, on a page I can hardly read because the letters are so huge and the horizontally so restricted. It's either a clever joke, or can be summed up with "ouch".

You're right, I was very unclear.

This "redesign" is horrible for reasons that everyone gives in this thread. I agree.

There are some design changes that could be made to Wikipedia to make things easier for editors (and for regular editors) - see, for example, the wall of text at the head of some meta pages such as the main page, or ANI, or etc.

> Also the capital "I" in the font they're using is killing me.

This is the main thing I remember after reading what seemed like an otherwise interesting study.

J don't understand why you have such a problem with it. Jt seems fine to me.

J don't get it either. Jf you're going to criticize something, make it something substantial.

I agree, J != I

I'm a fan of the minimalism but as high caliber as I was expecting.

http://www.minimallyminimal.com/ is one of my favorites.

Oooh... that was capital of "I". was reading and thought that I`ve missed definition of kind a important acronym "JT". silly and ironic indeed.

And it wasn't even consistant. They used the same character for the first letter of "Jimmy" and "It". I first thought it was a weird font with a weird I, but then say "Iimmy" and had to re-read.

Almost the same, the "J" in Iimmy descended and was overall taller than the "J" in Jmagine.

When I read this discussion I had to go back and see it for myself. I read the whole thing and apparently my brain autocorrected the whole mess for me.

Also, there's a grammatical error:

"We check our mail dozen times a day."

No. We check our mail a dozen times a day.

They're Lithuanian. I'm guessing English is not their first language.

Seeing the number of possessive its with an apostrophe on HN I can cope with someone using English as a second language making a minor grammar error.

The issue was not coping. The issue is that it's poorly written.

So they check it exactly one dozen times per day? Your correction also doesn't seem valid. Perhaps they meant to write that "We check our mail dozens of time per day."

First impressions are very important; I too find copy errors an indication of an inadequate effort to communicate effectively. However, that doesn't validate a malicious attempt to bash the writer(s) when a simple correction would have sufficed.

Sorry, but: 1. That would still be ungrammatical, 2. The parent was a simple correction, and 3. There was absolutely nothing malicious about it.

Should have been 'times per day.' I made a typo and couldn't edit it; I don't know why HN isn't letting me do so.

Asides from that, why post a correction here? Only other HN readers are going to see it, which inherently means you aren't writing the comment in the hopes of them fixing it, but to show the error to other commenters. Perhaps malicious was the wrong term, but your comment certainly wasn't trying to help them improve their copy.

Good grief. Is everything you've ever made absolutely perfect? You build something beautiful and then you can dogpile on a grammar mistake.

I think if you're going to put so much focus on visuals, and make it your clear aim to get as much attention from the world as possible, it would probably be a good idea to:

* Check that your font doesn't do anything crazy, like make "I" look like "J" - come on, the sixth word on the page looks like it has a spelling mistake

* Check your grammar. I know it's pernickety but if I'm hiring a designer I expect attention to detail, and if someone doesn't get someone to cast a cursory glance over their work before inviting thousands of people to look at it, what does that say about how much effort and pride they put into their work?

* Check your spelling, I saw at least one fairly basic mistake (for rationale see above)

The whole J - I thing is something rather European I think. Here in Europe some consider it distinguished and hip... It's of course debatable whether that validates the decision, but it might be an explanation. Kind of a back to the (typographic) roots thing.

Personally, I don't care for it...

The rest, yeah, I agree with you. Get someone that speaks the language to spell and grammar check.

What "dogpile"? Seriously, since when does two upvotes constitute a dogpile?

The reality is that if something isn't written well, the design is not going to wow me by itself. Good writing is a requirement, not an option, for great sites.

Not to spoil the pile on, but I think that's just a mistake. You know, the kind humans make?

That said, I agree the redesign is misguided. But it's certainly gotten them some attention.

I'm fully aware it was a mistake. That's why I pointed it out.

Thought I was the only one. +1

> It does not have, as its primary goal, the delight of random web users.

But it could. And that's really the point of this exercise: showing one way that it could additionally delight users, on top of providing the critical functionality it already does.

Delighting users is one step up[1] from what Wikipedia does right now. Yes, they're doing something of fundamental importance to the human race. But does that mean that the software needs to be bleak, emotionless, and, let's face it, not very enjoyable to work with?

[1] See Aarron Walter's Emotional Interface Design as described here: http://thinkvitamin.com/design/emotional-interface-design-th... for a great explanation

I think it already delights users. Wikipedia is so absolutely content and hyperlink driven that it hardly needs much else. It's immense popularity and ubiquity is proof of that. I draw my delight not from some invasive graphics and UI work, but from the fact that when I want to read about Pyramids, I click a link on Google to Pyramids (or on the Wikipedia front page) and ALL I SEE IS PYRAMIDS. No other UI, no other stuff to interfere with what I'm trying to do. And from there, I click hyperlinks and quickly jump from Pyramids to Ancient Engineering to Trigonometry to the various mathematicians who have improved on the work the Egyptians did.

The delight is in the speed at which I can quickly explore and consume human knowledge. Nothing I've seen in terms of graphical suggestions would improve that - only distract or prevent my friends in other countries from being able to use it properly.

To me, Wikipedia is embodiment of "less is more", which supposedly all of these hotshot designers are supposed to subscribe to, but apparently mistranslate it to "a metric butt-load of negative space".

A great observation is that having access to the content provided by Wikipedia is a delight in and of itself. That's a fantastic starting point for investigating, then, how you can enhance that experience with great design.

These guys did that with this brief. It's not the right answer, but it does raise some interesting questions. How do you design a more delightful Wikipedia without damaging the content? Because surely you agree that certain elements of Wikipedia - like editing pages, for instance - could use a good bit of delight here and there.

At issue here is that many of the things they choose to pour their delighting syrup over are fundamental to the way the project is managed. We probably don't need to litigate whether MediaWiki's UX could be improved; it can. "How?" is the operative question; one clear answer is probably "Not this way."

That's the problem with designers, they always want to "enhance X with great design", ignorant of the fact that the object of their OCD desire for "great design" (in this case the world's most popular web service) obviously has great design already, as it's the most popular website in the world.

This is a horrible blanket statement. Don't call all designers ignorant because you don't like one specific proposed redesign.

> obviously has great design already, as it's the most popular website in the world.

Amazon has (sorry for anyone who works there) hideous design. HIDEOUS. It is a very popular website.

There are dozens of examples of websites with bad design that are popular. Many web-forums have thousands, tens of thousands, of users yet are really hard to use.

It's not particularly hard to use. You think of a topic you want to read, type it in the search and press enter. You start reading that topic. And you can click on a hyperlink to related articles within that article.

Great design already, with a few rough edges. Nothing that needs a fundamental overhaul. I would hate to see Wikipedia go the way of Digg!

Craigslist anyone?

Wikipedia already delights me. Dozens of times a month.

Advertising campaigns-in-disguise do not.

Can a multi-lingual interface actually convey the emotions you would like it to? I think you're asking a very interesting question.

The homepage of _Wikipedia_ is WWW.wikipedia.org. They never said they only want to target the english Wikipedia. The Frontpage of the _German_ Wikipedia is DE.wikipedia.org, but that has nothing to do with the article.

The individual language front pages are still here. With loads of information density and featured articles and everything.

The beautiful front page for searches in different languages is very nice and certainly provides better overview over the different languages available.

The overhaul of the Editor is also a nice addition, although it should probably be coded in a way as to enforce adherence to templates. A challenge you say? Maybe. But most things worth doing are.

The highlighting is a nice touch, certainly useful for doing research, which is what WP is often used for.

They did not confuse wikipedia with wikimedia. They very clearly proposed a specific logo for both Wikimedia and Wikipedia. They were aware of the connections and relationships between the organisations and concepts in question. The title can be construed as misleading, "Wikipedia redesigned" vs. "Wikimedia redesigned", I guess. But most people using WP are not acutely aware of the difference and relationship between the two. So they decided to hook the article on "Wikipedia" because it's the more recognized name. I have no problem with that.

I don't like that "organic living logo" idea either, I'll side with you on that one.

Yes, the capital J is a bit annoying :)

Your criticism seems mostly superficial and I don't quite understand why. A better branding does not water down the content. "Doing something bigger than that", (which i completely agree with) is not diagonally opposed to beautiful design.

One of my favorite articles I always share when someone does an unsolicited redesign without putting the requisite analysis into it:


nice post, but mildly unfortunate title - the phrase "real analysis" makes me think of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_analysis first.

Anecdotally, the overwhelming majority of people who I've observed using Wikipedia go to www.wikipedia.com and then select "English".

Really? I've never in my life went to wikipedia without following a link from a Google search. I don't think I've ever seen the Wikipedia home page.

Really? I use a custom search engine in my browsers so I can search directly from the address bar since I know I want Wikipedia results and don't want to sift through other junk.

Really? I have my assistant find the article of interest and send a bit.ly link via courier.

Really? I use Encyclopedia Britannica. It's the best.

To the above few parents, keep this idiocy on reddit, please.

I go to Wikipedia itself all the time. I just type 'en' + enter into my address bar because I'm so used to it, but I'm sure there's probably millions of people that always go to the first page instead.

I still think it should remain mostly as it is, though. I didn't like their changes to it.

Indeed, I can't say I recall its appearance at all.

Could you contextualize what population you're drawing your sample from, please?

English speaking people, presumably.

Maybe what was meant was that, of those who go to Wikipedia directly, not through Google, they usually go through www.wikipeida.org or wikipedia.org, not en.wikipedia.org. I would agree with that assessment.

Me too, but let me add that I think it is also worth considering that they may not be there to search. For that reason it feels a bit weird to make www.wikipedia.org a crappy version of www.google.com...

My own use-case, and that of others I see using it:

  * Go to wikipedia.org
  * Try to ignore the glut of language names and find the tiny search box
  * Search

But does it matter what language is more popular? That is not what Wikipedia is about, really

Sorry, the language wasn't supposed to be the key user action here: it was more how people navigate to en.wiki from wikipedia.com.

Agreed. But I like the highlighting, saving of snippets and history-tracking ideas. I would find that very useful for myself, beyond the "oh sweet I didn't know it could do that" but for real "now where did I once read that?" purposes.

Is it a good idea for a design shop to propose features that would beg huge numbers of otherwise passive consumers of the encyclopedia to register accounts? Because you'd have to do that, to get highlighting and bookmarking.

I don't know. You think it's a bad idea though? Why? Are we worried about vandalism?

I think I can support an idea that would hope to turn otherwise passive consumers into not-so-much-any-longer passive consumers. As long as pseudonyms remain acceptable.

I'm more worried about their database servers melting, since the overwhelming amount of traffic Wikipedia handles today is passive consumption.

If you think highlighting and bookmarking of Wikipedia articles is extremely valuable --- and maybe it is! --- go start a site backed by Wikipedia's content. In the places where it actually counts, Wikipedia has bent over backwards to be helpful to developers.

Well, they're already trying to quell the flames of their database servers by heavyhandedly deleting articles that they find non-notable.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that, given infinite time, they will have to fight all these fires eventually. To delay the inevitable by not actively encouraging user registration is a disservice to the entire editorial platform.

Deleted pages are never truly deleted. A more accurate description would be "hidden", and there are different levels to which a page can be hidden:

* Blanking a page, or part of a page, is an action that any editor can perform, and any editor can undo. This hides content from the "live" page, but anyone can view the blanked content by looking in the page's history. * Deleting a page is an action limited to administrators, and similarly, only an admin can undelete a page. A deleted page is basically treated by MediaWiki like it doesn't exist, and only admins can view the deleted content. Individual edits can also be deleted, but this is not as common. * Lastly, oversighting can be used to hide content from even admins. Admins can oversight stuff as well, and in these cases, the oversighted content can be viewed by other admins, though it requires more work than viewing deleted stuff. For oversighted content to be hidden even from admins, the oversighting must be done by another user group called (aptly enough) oversighters. In the context of WMF project, entry to this usergroup is tightly controlled (seriously, it makes the request for adminship process look like an open door), and anyone selected for the role must personally confirm their identity to the WMF.

The main point is that, in all of these cases, the content is never gone, but simply hidden; the MediaWiki software is designed so that every action is logged and can be reversed.

That's not why stuff gets deleted from wikipedia, the USERS do that, because they have processes and policies which encourage it. That's a much more difficult problem to address, because you can't fix it with technology. Same problem affects a redesign... That said, I have seen some encouraging evidence that the community wants to address the usability of the tools and UI on wikipedia, and the engineers working at the foundation have their own ideas which are a little more realistic, for example:


It is also a disservice to the entire editorial platform if they can't pay their own bills and go under. Or if they overload their servers to the point that people complain that "Wikipedia is always down" and migrate to one of the less free alternatives.

Has anything that has built on top of wikipedia as the primary product got much traction? I think it is something that would be hard to really get widespread without it.

Can a 3rd party even maintain a fully up to date set of wikipedia content? Not sure what their policy on scraping is?

Wikipedia also has an API (although this does little to address tptacek's concerns of database meltdown, unless you cache frequent requests):




For example:


brings back:

     "query": { 
       "pages": {
         "1666533": {
           "pageid": 1666533, 
           "ns": 0, 
           "title": "Y Combinator (company)", 
           "revisions": [
               "*": "{{Infobox company\n| company_name = Y Combinator\n 
                     [...redacted full wikitext content of article...]"

No need to scrape, Wikipedia has full dumps for the articles available for download: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_download#Eng...

Yeah I am aware, but wikipedia changes daily. There would have to be a pretty impressive feature set built on top before many would consider using an out of date wikipedia when they can easily see the latest version.

There is a feed of changes though - both a "realtime" IRC feed that is restricted access and some sort of batch feed (daily? Hourly?)

Hm... for most pages it shouldn't really matter, they don't change drastically within days. For developing or current subjects I guess it would...

This dump is updated once a month, though the API is live.

One problem I've found with the dump is that you still need to render it (unless someone knows of another dump) which has caused us a few problems with the current thing I'm working on.

That could be implemented using localStorage + a simple key-value API, no sign-in required.

These ideas would probably be better achieved using a browser add-on of some kind.

Not if you want it to be popular (read: IE users, high school and college students, other "normal" people).

(Ok, yes, a browser add-on would be better for someone like me. But I don't think my need is very unique.)

Most people who really care about this functionality are already using external tools to handle it. EndNote and Scrivener come to mind off the top of my head.

But more to the point, the plugin wouldn't make it Wikipedia-only. Doing research involves more than Wikipedia.

The capital "J" was pretty bad too, dropping under the baseline, for no other reason than to differentiate it from that stupid "I"

It’s pretty stupid because it doesn’t follow convention – but that’s actually exactly how I learned it in school, so it’s not like there isn’t precedent.

Here is (roughly) what I learned in elementary school (in Bavaria): http://i.imgur.com/LbQ7l.png

I think the J dropping below the baseline isn’t particularly uncommon or unique. (I know quite a few famous typefaces in which the J drops below the baseline: Baskerville Old Face, Lucida Grande, Palatino, Rockwell, Optima, …) However, the I looking like a J certainly is, at least in print.

Can you provide a link to the Brand New Blog or some additional search terms? I'm interested, but "brand new blog" and "brand new blog logo" Google searches don't seem to bring up anything relevant.

This is the Brand New blog: http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/

I work at Wikia, which means I work with MediaWiki every day. I was kind of offended by how naive New is New is being. I don't think they have any grasp on the sort of massive scope changes like this would require. Wikipedia is not MediaWiki's only consumer. A lot of communities that use MediaWiki are extremely conservative about the UI, so some of the conservatism is by design. The WikiMedia Foundation is working on a lot of the more feasible features already, such as the visual editor.

I think it's obnoxious that a design team would spend two months on something without taking any time to consider implementation detail. The MediaWiki project is very transparent, and if New is New cared to learn about what features were in the works, they could have easily found them on the right wiki -- design mockups and all. Whoever would hire these guys to do work for hire will be paying for an intractable mess of a design with a hearty helping of scope creep.

And don't get me started on the proposed Wikipedia logo. It looks like the Wikia fractal with way less nodes.

I highly highly doubt that this is an actual appeal by them to change the MediaWiki interface. I see this purely as a publicity stunt / marketing move, intended to get their brand and abilities out there in front of people. And to be frank, I think they're being quite successful at that. UX/practicality aside, most of the components do look good. (though good parts of it remind me of Google, Quora, and other prominent sites)

(Seeing this site reminded me of the guy who did the Windows redesign work a few months ago, which means that the windows redesign guy did a good job marketing/branding himself too!)

One of the absolute biggest challenges in hiring a web design firm is getting them to understand the company and work within the real constraints of the business and budget. Pie-in-the-sky projects like this one don't demonstrate that the firm can do that.

They seem to be very effective and successful, until you see their incapability of grasping their advised Wiki logo's and Wordpress logos similarity. That's where they just fail.

> most of the components do look good. (though good parts of it remind me of Google, Quora, and other prominent sites)

I got the exact same aesthetic feeling, too. This redesign reminded of nothing so much as GMail.

Exactly. No content, just big buttons that aren't clear about what they do.

Heh, that's very funny coming from a Wikia employee. "Conservative" is the last word I'd ever use when describing Wikia's changes to the MediaWiki UI. You guys have no problem forking MediaWiki and making drastic changes to the codebase (http://svn.wikia-code.com/wikia/trunk/), so why can't the MediaWiki project make drastic changes of their own?

Wikia's code is indeed a fork of MediaWiki's. We're working on making it a less drastic fork. And we've always tried to make concessions with respect to the UI. For instance users can choose the Monobook skin in the preferences pane.

> And don't get me started on the proposed Wikipedia logo. It looks like the Wikia fractal with way less nodes.

I found it offensive that they felt the English 'W' was the only one worth featuring in the logo.

To be fair, Wikipedia already uses a "W" as its favicon in every locale (even for languages with non-Latin scripts, like Japanese and Arabic):



New is New's idea is just to trash the well-recognisable wikipedia W, and replace it with a new one, with no good reason.

And trash the icons for the various Wikimedia projects.

people who get paid for coming up with new icons and logo's are going to create new logos and icons.. it's what they do.

Is there every a "reason" to create new logo's or icons? Other than someone feels a new for a new or fresh look...

Well, sometimes companies feel their current logo is too out of date and they want to change it.

Or sometimes companies rebrand completely, sometimes because of a shift of focus. (A company I know about shifted from discrete software to B2B software and changed its branding in the process)

A legitimate reason is when a company or organisation changes significantly. Wikipedia changes remarkably over time, but does it incrementally. Logo change is neither sensible or required.

Offensive? Really? Having one's religion insulted is offensive. A "W" shouldn't be.

Nah, not religion. Country. Language. Cultural identity.

I don't think they're proposing changes to Mediawiki, they're proposing changes to the look of Wikipedia. While they may be synonomous, one is the software, one is the organization that uses the software.

Wikipedia could change the template for their version of the site, without affecting MW at all.

He's proposing to change it so it works like Etherpad. That would have to replace every single byte in storage and all the previous versions. Think about it.

Wow, I had no idea that Wikia ran on MediaWiki. I have usually avoided wikia wikis because they always seemed harder to use than Wikipedia. Now that I look closer, I can see the similarities.

What is the Wikia fractal?

The front page of Wikipedia works remarkably well for discovery - go to en.wikipedia.org on any given day, and you are guaranteed to learn something new.

Deciding that users want to see your overbearing minimalism and your 'sound-great-in-concept-meetings-but-shit-on-paper' designs instead of you know, actual information on the front page of an encyclopaedia strikes me as an astonishing act of hubris.

The one piece of information given on the front page (the languages bar) is a nice curiosity, but utterly useless after about one visit. I'm sure the Swiss, the Swedes, the Danes, the Indonesians would also be delighted to find that their languages have been relegated to 'rollover' status.

As for the article pages, too much white-space, nowhere near enough information density. Did it not strike the authors, "Hey, hang on, the article is almost invisible on this page after all the crap we put in?" http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/27.png

Dear kristianc,

You are comparing en.wikipedia.org with their redesign of www.wikipedia.org. Notice that the latter is, with respect to content, the same as their redesign: languages, search, and sister sites.

Secondly, in the screenshot you are looking at, the content of the article has obviously pushed down due to the activation of the “quote” mode. Honestly, I doubt you do not realize this and I can’t help but wonder what motivation you have to criticize their work so unfairly.

Google indexes wikipedia so I haven't seen the front page in years.

That's not a good reason for demolishing its UX.

But google search doesnt replace the wikipedia start page, only it's search feature.

If by Swiss you mean Swiss-German, there is a wikipedia for that language group (http://als.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houptsyte), but I'm pretty sure most Swiss-German speakers use the German wikipedia instead. I don't know about the situation for Swiss-French, Swiss-Italian and Romansh speakers.

Why the Swiss? They speak French, Italian and German.

Proposed Wikipedia logo: http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/4.png

Actual WordPress logo: http://s.wordpress.org/about/images/logos/wordpress-logo-sta...

(It's not just that both are W's -- they also chose a typeface with a similar distinctive swoosh.)

That was the first thing I noticed, too (after the J/I awfulness).

Yeah, I would be in favor of keeping the existing font face and W.

>the letter W, which is/could be the most famous W in the whole web. W is enough for Wikipedia to be recognized.

I read this and thought the same thing, "What about Wordpress?"

Wordpress isn't very well-known by the general public. I mean hell, it's not even in the same ballpark compared to Wikipedia.

It's closer than you might guess. According to Alexa statistics (which I know aren't perfect), WordPress.com is one of the top 20 web sites in the entire world, even though it is visited by "only" 4% to 5% of all Internet users each day [1], compared to Wikipedia's 10-15% [2]. The WordPress software has been around for almost a decade, and although most readers of WordPress blogs might not recall the name "WordPress", they probably have at least some passive recognition. Each hosted WordPress blog uses the "W" favicon by default.

[1]: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wordpress.com

[2]: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wikipedia.org

Sure lots of people visit WordPress sites, but how many of them actually know who/what WordPress is and know what the logo looks like. I have to admit that if you'd asked me 5 minutes ago to describe the WordPress logo I would have drawn a blank.

Sent this email to them:

" Absolutely terrible; increasing the signal/noise ratio, in addition to increasing unnecessary white space were extremely bad design choices.

The purpose of Wikipedia is to share information. The changes that you proposed impede that goal by the addition of a step where the user has to "understand" the design, before they can begin to use it.

You should have reviewed mathematical and scientific journals before you begun your sketch work. Those types of publications succeed at transmitting a high amount of information, very quickly. Bare HTML pages also succeed at transmitting technical information at a very fast rate.

Rather than just stating that Wikipedia is in need of a redesign, state your reasons. The design of Wikipedia is not simply an aesthetic designer's problem, it is a problem that has to be approached from an engineering point of view: maximise the information communication rate whilst keeping the design aesthetically pleasing, not the other way around."

I liked very much the way you have worded it. Especially, the last statement: "The design of Wikipedia is not simply an aesthetic designer's problem, it is a problem that has to be approached from an engineering point of view: maximise the information communication rate whilst keeping the design aesthetically pleasing, not the other way around."

Why mail it to them? We who hang out at HN may find it awful, but it's mean to smear it in their faces.

I mailed them based on a number of reasons: 1. Critiquing is an essential step of the design process, 2. They provided an email address at the end of the post, 3. I wanted to ensure that they weren't reinforcing their design biases that had emerged as a result of their 2 month drive to release their concept.

You're reading it wrong - it's blunt criticism, but it's also constructive. It's not fun to read this, but I find it a lot better than someone saying your X is awesome while thinking privately that it sucks.

I'm not sure it's intended as a face-smear; but even if it is, personally I'd prefer to receive direct communication with criticism than to find out later that there is a community mocking my work.

What? Why in the world would increasing the S/N ratio be "terrible"? You want it to be greater than 1:1.

Also I dont understand these kinds of comments. Do you want us to email them that post with the quotes around them and attribute it to you?

The biggest problem I have with this sort of thing -- actually probably the whole field(s) of UI/UX design -- is that there is no actual prototype but it seems like they are implying that the programmers didn't include any of those features because they didn't think of them, and that now the real work for the 'redesign' has been done. As if the hard part was making a bunch of pictures.

So this whole thing really irritates me.

Having said that, I think that modernizing Wikipedia or MediaWiki is a an interesting idea (although probably not a priority), and this is actually a decent starting point for discussing how many of the new (mainly, but not entirely, stylistic) UI/UX trends (principles in a few cases I guess) could be applied.

I mean obviously their nav takes up more space than necessary and we don't need Wikipedia's logo to look just like WordPress's, but the minimalism, alternate typography of some sort, monochrome icon widgets, etc. are apparently now required in order to qualify as contemporary design. And the connection clouds and highlighter quote idea is cool. And it probably wouldn't hurt to remove one or two of the buttons on the editor or move them to an advanced section, or spend an hour or two making the editor looking more contemporary.

In case anyone actually reads this, I have a question. Is the thing where buttons and controls are monochrome icons (and usually with no 3d appearance), is that going to stay? I mean, is there a reason you can't have multiple colors in icons now? Also it seems a lot of times you don't get labels on buttons anymore (I know, tooltips). How much of this stuff is likely to stick for the next 5, 10 years, or is it just a short term fad? I mean I coded a UI recently for a component platform thing I am building (actual functional software platform, not pictures) and it had multicolor traditional icons on normal 3d buttons with labels. This UX guy saw that and said I was 'completely out of touch'. So I took the labels, 3d and colors off the buttons.

I read somewhere about how Windows introduced in early versions the ability to make buttons look "3D" (update: here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2004/07/28/19958...), and for the next few years every program made its buttons look more 3D than the previous version, until someone decided they had gone too far and started going in the opposite direction. And now looking at Metro I'd say we are at the other extreme (completely flat and minimalist). I hope it stabilizes somewhere in the middle in 5 years. Just look how fast they ditched the "vista" look.

It's funny if you look at http://stocklogos.com/topic/past-and-future-famous-logos. That page is satire from 2011... well check out the last "Microsoft" logo ;-)

The Nokia one was spot on too.

> The biggest problem I have with this sort of thing -- actually probably the whole field(s) of UI/UX design -- is that there is no actual prototype but it seems like they are implying that the programmers didn't include any of those features because they didn't think of them, and that now the real work for the 'redesign' has been done. As if the hard part was making a bunch of pictures.

Yeah, it really bothered me that the WYSIWYG editor and interactive map features were sold under the guise of a rebranding. The interactive map feature itself would have monumental complexity. Good ideas are a dime a dozen...this is one I've had before. But it's not like "oh, ok let's change some CSS and bingo! An interactive map!". It's probably in the order of years of manpower to do a decent job of this feature.

> Yeah, it really bothered me that the WYSIWYG editor and interactive map features were sold under the guise of a rebranding.

It wasn't under the guise of a rebranding at all. The website is called "Wikipedia Redefined," and adding a WYSIWYG editor and interactive map would certainly redefine Wikipedia.

I think the basic principle of visual simplicity is going to stick around. I do think there's some faddish elements to the adoption though. I like dropping 3d. Embracing the two dimensional property of the screen seems well founded. I doubt the monochrome is permanent: we can simply convey more information with color. I'm conflicted on the lack of labels. They are undoubtedly useful, but do visually clutter the screen. To speculate I suspect that if eye tracking come into wide usage tooltip like extra contextual information on the focus of attention could take over almost completely.

Wikimedia Foundation's Senior Designer, Brandon Harris, had a lot of insightful, interesting feedback[1] regarding the 'redesign,' (of which I happen to agree with):

-It's completely impractical and does not take into account some of the most basic ideas that Wikipedia is and depends upon. I don't think it's very well thought out or researched, and serves mostly as a hypothetical portfolio piece for a design firm.

For example, the fact that Wikipedia is available in multiple languages is quite possibly its most important feature. The idea of burying language selection within an incomprehensible color band (that will only work on non-touch devices) boggles my mind.

- Many, many important principles are tossed away. Why do the designers change the meaning of the "history" button? Burying the revision history is counter to all things that wikis stand for.

- Research into the Foundation projects would tell you that storing a user's browsing history is against the privacy policy - so why include that?

- > "Sharing functions will be the same so no change is necessary" - except that there are no sharing functions.

- The most basic principle of product design is "Know the product," and these designers do not.

And finally,

This is to say nothing of the exercise in 'brand manipulation.' The most powerful brand that Wikipedia has is the wordmark itself ("wikipedia"), followed by the distinctive "W" logo (crossed "v" characters), followed by a single puzzle piece, followed by the puzzle globe. The brand rework here throws ALL of these things away and replaces them with a stylized "w" glyph that is almost but not quite exactly like the logo used by Wordpress."

But that's just my opinion"

"If you want to have an idea of what the Wikimedia Foundation is thinking with regards to the future of Wikipedia, you'd be better served by reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/20...

[1] Brandon full response to the design: http://www.quora.com/Wikipedia/Wikipedia-What-does-the-Wikip...

I don't know where they got the idea that a serif 'W' is the most recognisable 'W' on the net (as Wikipedia). I first thought of Waterstones (a UK bookstore chain), and then Wordpress.

Even after that, how does it then make sense to actually change it to something else, thus removing what identity there once was? It's not like the replacement (with the Adobe-esque abbreviations that are meaningless to people who don't already know them) is an actual improvement.

Otherwise, I don't really get the purpose of it. Wikipedia's not there to look fancy or show off designer skills, and I'd argue that anything that isn't pure content is just completely unnecessary for it.

Exactly what I thought; Wordpress' serif W dominates the web and this one is far too similar to it for people to know the difference. People know Wikipedia as Wikipedia and as an international website, we shouldn't use a generic 'W' as the logo across the board.

copying my comment from reddit:

If a user doesn't recognise the word "English" then they are not going to have any idea what language select. The reason the languages are all listed on the page without any interaction needed is so someone can look at the webpage and recognise their language and select it without having to understand anything else. How do I access the main page of a wiki?

This isn't redefined, it's just a redesign with some bad, some good, aesthetic changes.

The existing front-page looks like it should work in browsers with JS disabled (though I have not personally tested this).

We should think carefully about the possible consequences of Wikipedia dropping support for no-JS browsers.

It does. Being properly engineered, it's semantically accessible with any browser or scraper or mashup. Sacrificing that for a site as important as Wikipedia doesn't even deserve serious consideration.

I've been brainwashed by the article and is wondering what JS means here. IS or JS?


Not to mention the front page colour bar for languages with labels appearing after rolling over has some pretty serious discoverability and accessibility issues.

2001 called; they want their mystery meat navigation back.

That's what Accept-Language[1] is for. They can just serve the right version of the page based on its value. And yes, I know it's annoying when sites just assume you speak the browser language but remember this would just set the default one in the text box, nothing else. Presumably, if you're using a browser in English you can also recognize the word "English" and change it to something else.

[1]: http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec14.html#sec14...

Not everyone accesses the internet on their own computer.

Seriously though, I never see the wikipedia front page. I either go through a link in google, start with 'en.' in the address bar, or start typing 'wiki' and choose a previous link. All of these are easier and more portable across browsers and OSs than the knowledge required to change your language locale.

Does anyone else find the font used on that page really distracting? What's with the I looking like a J?

I was going to say the same thing. The font is FF Schulbuch Süd Web Pro, and it looks like this: http://imgur.com/Uvft4. I can't fathom why it's designed like that. (Link to FontShop: http://www.fontshop.com/fonts/singles/fontfont/ff_schulbuch_...)

This is how I was taught cursive writing in school:


I am German (as is the name of the font) and I could read the article without being distracted.

For comparison, a great deal of us in the US, if not most of us, were taught this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cursive.svg

And I hear this is fast on its way out, with cursive English script simply dying, with no replacement.

The name hints at its use: Schulbuch is German and means school book. Why was that font used in textbooks in elementary schools in Germany?

Because this is what kids learn to write: http://i.imgur.com/LbQ7l.png

But nowadays textbooks use changed variants of that font, actually – with a normal I. I think that has something to do with the decreasing importance of that cursive. Kids still learn it, sure, but it’s no longer as important and central as it was only, say, twenty years ago.

Even better, the page is entirely unreadable until the font loads - it's been spinning for a minute, and what I assume is the text is pure white.

This. Since when was an I a slightly smaller J?

Actually, 'J' is a swashed 'I': https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J

Well ... i is a slightly smaller j.

Oh dear...

New! is a fairly... new.. advertising agency from my country, Lithuania. They are trying to become better known, so this is without a doubt a targeted publicity stunt ("Look how well it worked for Dustin Curtis to redesign American Airlines! I guess we can do something similar!")

And as that, it's pretty bad. Not only did they showed poor design (in a sense of "how it works") skills, but also left a bad impression as a studio.

How well it worked for Dustin Curtis? He got a guy fired http://www.dustincurtis.com/incompetence.html for his post.

That makes it even more puzzling that they would put so much focus on having the English language dominate the redesign.

I see some Wikipedia people commenting, so I'll mention I MUCH prefer the existing Wikipedia over this design. It's simple and it loads quickly.

I find this design gaudy and the gradient bars reminds me of mid-2000s ASP.net design style, which I have a particular adversion to.

Just because a design has been around awhile doesn't mean it requires an overhaul.

Design starts with constraints. If you don't understand the constraints, a redesign is just a fantasy.

Wikipedia is heavily constrained by one thing: the existing mediawiki markup. That presents a huge challenge to implementing this redesign.

Large mediawiki installs become brittle because users have a natural tendency to use the markup for presentation, not structure. Combined with the in markup template mechanisms, the tendency is toward a tangle of interdependent markup. Wikipedia's community does far better than most in fighting this with policy and consistency, but it's still an issue.

Implementing this redesign would require not just working with some of the more difficult parts of the mediawiki code base, but also a laborious effort to rewrite a sizable fraction (if not the majority) of all wiki foundation content. That just isn't going to happen.

But that doesn't mean design improvements on wikipedia are impossible, just that any attempt needs to work in alignment with the constraining forces.

I'm not sure Wikipedia needs a rebranding, and tell me if I'm the only one, but I use Google to get to specific Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia's actual search and search results need to be re-implemented, but I don't agree about redesign beyond that.

That leaves the actual articles. I like the way they are designed here, except for the monolithic nav bar.

If anything, this is a nice theme for articles - and theming is a feature that has existed on Wikipedia for a number of years now.

I'm a big fan of the reimagining of how people interact with the site.. I think that's a major step forward, but I was very displeased with the redesign. I definitely agree a redesign is in order, but I wasn't a fan of nearly any of the design work presented here. So the take away from this is: these guys rock at interaction design and UX, but still have a lot of work to do in the actual design dept. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, however, and is entirely subjective.

For a look at what Wikipedia is actually of thinking of designing over the next 3 years, check out Project Athena: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/20...

Thanks for that. I never lost faith in Wikipedia, but now I'm actually excited again, yay.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?


Wikipedia doesn't need a redesign. It just needs to have an easy preferences setting for "I am a deletionist" vs "I am an inclusionist" or whatever the current preferred designations are.

The deletionists get pared-down, guaranteed notable content, and the inclusionists get the mess.

This distinction is only relevant to maybe 1% of wikipedia users...the heavy users who get involved in internal politics and editing decisions (and maybe the spammers who try to wield wikipedia's massive visibility for their own purposes). The average wikipedia user has no idea there are deletion wars.

> This distinction is only relevant to maybe 1% of wikipedia users

I disagree. I have looked for content on WP before, only to find it has been deleted by deletionists. I have also given up creating new articles because of deletionists.

I don't believe any HN reader could ever be considered an "average user" in this context.

I don't think thats the kind of deletion vs inclusion he was referring to, though you are 100% correct. I think what he meant was there should be a setting you can choose to view a minimalist version of the site.

Its awful. It reminds me of the Gmail redesign. I hate these simplified, 2d websites.

Why do you have to ruin every website?

I like the new GMail, and the new post-4.0 Android 2D UIs. I don't like most of these suggested changes for WikiPedia, however.

You mean wikipedia?

I mean, wP?

Every now and then a designer comes along and says they're going to fix Wikipedia. And those of us who've tried either are polite or roll our eyes....

However, this person has some legitimately great ideas. I love how the design is far more reader-centric. I'm not sure why I need a history of articles that I read (browsers do that very well these days), but the 'highlighted' text is a cool idea. You can start thinking about the site as helping you research things, keep a scrapbook of snippets. I love it.

The front page redesign: believe it or not, the multiple languages are the most important thing to highlight. Wikipedia's global audience often uses that system to navigate between encyclopedias. They also often use Google to find the English article, and then look for an 'inter-wiki link' in the margin to an article in their native language.

It looks like there's a lot of cruft in the design, and maybe someone needs to be very bold and piss off a lot of users and force a new interaction pattern. But this stuff is all there for a reason. The 'random article' button is actually one of the most popular features. Really!

As for the proposed branding: first of all, the ideas presented here are not very good. It reminds me of the generic brands at the supermarket. The gossamer rainbow graph wouldn't even reproduce properly at small sizes (and if projects are added or eliminated, then what, do we change the logo?)

But more importantly - the thing which the designers rarely understand is that Wikipedia and its sister projects are not products to be sold - they are communities. And they came to consensus on those logos. They're more like sports team logos than a unified branding system to sell something. That said, there is a system, of sorts; when new logos are made, they try to make variations on the red dot and blue and green shapes.

Also, don't get me started on making color meaningful for navigation. It works for subway maps and it sucks everywhere else. Very bad for accessibility (color-blind people). And very bad for maintainability. The Russian Wikipedia is currently the fastest growing site; you can expect it to change position in the rankings soon. Then what, add another color? Should it change colors, surprising the user? Swap the colors in the rainbow?

Lastly, this designer isn't even addressing the biggest problem we have today, which is how to modify Wikipedia for the mobile web. Reading articles is getting better, and we've been using the Wiki Loves Monuments annual contest as a way to drive the development of mobile photo submissions. But there's still no clear vision of how anyone does serious editing on a mobile device.

As for the part where they offhandedly remark that we should make the site live-editable... HA HA HA. You have no idea what you're up against. I worked on this myself for a while. We made some interesting demos but they weren't something you could deploy.

If we were making Wikipedia from scratch today, of course we'd do that and more, but the thing is, there are multiple challenges, and a whole lot of legacy to support.

Technically: it has to serialize to wikitext and be uploaded as discrete changes to sections. So if you want live editing you need bidirectional parsing and serialization in the browser. Wikitext is unlike any other regular language and has a complex macro system, which consists of... other wiki pages. Stored in the database. Which means you need heavy database I/O just to render HTML. Or at least, a very extensive cache of page fragments. You also can't cheat with a simpler parser in the browser, because wikitext was basically designed to indulge whatever shortcuts the community wanted, and be extremely forgiving. Most wiki pages exploit at least one of the weird quirks. You can't even cheat by regularizing wikitext as you go, because then you're causing spurious changes that the community can't easily police. The current team is solving this with a radical approach to parsing that leverages HTML5's standards and a Node.JS based system. So eventually the parser on the site and in the editor might be very similar.

Operationally: Wikipedia is a cheap site to run because it's basically a static site that you can serve from cache. But changing an article can be monstrously inefficient. There are some articles, like "Barack Obama", that would take minutes to re-render if the caches were empty. When you start changing the basic database model to be more 'live', the costs start to explode.

But rather than drown in negativity, let me just say that whoever this is - thank you for throwing your ideas out there. Assuming this isn't just a resume-building exercise, get in touch with the MediaWiki developers. They need designers.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm not the designer, but recognize this for what it is - a thought piece that obviously required some fairly significant effort to put together. Some items have issues as you point out, but there are also some very intelligent ideas here and that was the point - to put something out there credible for discussion.

I agree, the majority of commenters have chosen to just rip apart this strong effort at doing something even if it isn't perfect. I've found that a good portion of the wikipedia "community" to be terribly provincial and cliquish. They're like the homeowners associations of the web, they have "their" way of doing it and get almost irritatingly passionate over trivial nonsense (should it be "behavior or behaviour")

There's a billion articles about Linux distros, yet an article about a famous wedding dress gets cut? Yet, on the other hand, many of these same commenters nail Craigslist for their lack of design and defend Wikipedia for it's lack of design.

It seems like nobody is ever happy with anything. If you think Wikipedia is perfect, you're delusional -- no site is perfect. So rather than constant critism, put your money where your mouth is and build your own mock up. Show us how you think it should be rather than continually knocking everyone else.

Sometimes I feel like HN is populated by grumpy old men who haven't had their Metamucil.

"If you think Wikipedia is perfect, you're delusional -- no site is perfect."

Who said it is? That's a strawman if I ever saw one.

"So rather than constant critism, put your money where your mouth is and build your own mock up."

No mockup is perfect. This one has some HUGE flaws, and they've all been pointed out. You could have pointed out what is strong about this proposal, or what is wrong with the criticism. Just making up nice excuses for not doing that ain't enough.

Typical "creative agency" - not proofing their own copy. I've seen this kind of thing so many times, and it baffles me that it's allowed to slip through to production sites.

The last image of the US Map caught my eye. San Diego is not located directly below San Francisco. Come on guys, show a little bit of effort here and take 5 seconds to look at a map.


I understand it's a mock-up, but it just shows carelessness. If I can notice it, it's just one less reason for me to care.

I also like how there's no city marked in Louisiana. Of course, to their credit, there really is no civilization in Louisiana anyways.

Or Missouri, apparently.

I hope this Adobe-like visual branding strategy of "we have so many properties/products, let's just make a rainbow period table" dies a slow and horrible death.

See: http://thoughts.shawncheris.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/c...

This is awesome. I'm not on board with everything (as someone else pointed out, the navigation is huge and overshadows the content), but it does a good job of rethinking how users interact with Wikipedia by making it easier to use for research. Unfortunately, I can't see anything like this ever happening due to inertia and the direct democracy system that Wikipedia generally employs when making changes.

If they made a mediawiki theme that could easily be applied or made an option, they might actually have a chance. << I don't think they did that though.

Agreed. I think the people who put this page together didn't realize that you can already customize the theme of Wikipedia. For example, here is the custom CSS theme I use to surf wiki:


(it's not very custom, more of a PoC)

"We hope you will find it interesting."

Why the guillotine on these guys? I think they contributed something meaningful to the discussion. You don't have to like it to be respectful.

This is a smart idea by these folks, it's generating buzz for their firm and likely helped them improve their branding chops as they thought through this.

I found the way they presented it deferential and respectful enough, why trash their effort? Of course these fantasy redesigns are naive and mostly impractical, but there may also be some decent/helpful ideas being suggested. Do you think Wikipedia is worse off for all of us discussing how it might be improved?

I like unsolicited redesigns so long as the people behind them aren't snide or arrogant in the way they present them (I can see why the NY Times redesign irked people).

I think it's a great concept.

But if you're going to conceptualise a change to one of the most popular websites that is backed by an intelligent and active community you're going to have to expect some critical feedback.

I actually think there is a bit of arrogance implicit in the redesign, as the designers haven't solicited feedback from the wider wiki community and made big assumptions about the original design.

The sub section branding with the small w and the large first letter looks really awkward. Wiktionary is represented by a wT, but having a T represent a dictionary makes no sense, and there is a similar problem with wikiversity. They also tried clarifying the Species and Source by adding more letters on the latter which is isn't very visually appealing and shows the limitations of this scheme.

I also think that they add too much focus on the site wide navigation stuff at the top, which takes away the focus on the data.

I didn't even have the patience to read their own page because of their poor design choices (mostly, waaay too much scrolling).

I'm glad I don't have to read a Wikipedia designed by these people.

> The homepage of current Wikipedia is overcrowded with display of languages, which overshadows the main functionality–the search area.

The main functionality of wikipedia.org is not search, but showing a list of Wikipedia language editions.

> Rolling over the top right corner reveals more options for languages.

What the hell is this? Why would you use JavaScript dropdown? That's not how websites work. Just look at 99% of websites. They don't require putting mouse over something to view hidden content.

> Quote serves as a felt pen. It can be an easy way to highlight the best parts of an article, just like in text books.

This functionality is better done as a web browser plugin. Because then you can save quotes from other websites too, not only Wikipedia.

> http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/26.png

Where Research, Edit, Talk buttons disappeared?

> Basically, there are two reasons to visit Wikipedia: to read or to contribute. Reading function is Research and contribution is called Edit.

This layout is bad for reading. Article text starts at half of screen, not at top. On most popular resolutions (1366x768, netbook 1024x600) it's even worse, article text would start at the bottom of screen.

J kinda thought this started out on the wrong foot wjth the chojce of fonts for the body copy. Jt only went downhill from there.

J'm really not hot on the rebrandjng of everything as "wX". Thjs js almost as unjnspjred as Adobe's CS-era brandjng. Jn fact J wouldn't be surprjsed jf jt turned out that whoever made thjs page js a fan of that abomjnatjon.

Oh and thjs gets even better: you know how thjs "redesjgn" seems to be all about makjng Wjkjpedja's multjple languages completely obscured? The people who djd thjs are from Ljthuanja. WHAT. http://newisnew.lt

That 'W' that's being used here looks awfully similar to the 'W' used by the company 'Westfield'. There may be issues with the trademark.



(also ... the content is open .... ripe for anyone else to give this a go)

This redesign assumes that Wikipedia needed simplification. I think that if the brand and experience needed simplification, people wouldn't use it or would be more vocal about changing it.

The designers clearly have some layout and visual acumen, but this redesign doesn't fully grasp the magnitude of Wikipedia. Every layout is modular, and every pixel has to be fully thought out. The result here looks more like the-new-Digg than it should.

>>>I think that if the brand and experience needed simplification, people wouldn't use it or would be more vocal about changing it.

Never underestimate inertia. Plus, it's looked like that for so long, does anyone think it ever will change?

I couldn't care less about a proposed redesign of wikipedia by a random design agency. but I do gotta give props to their marketing department.

> ...and decided to eliminate, ahem, everything except... …the letter W, which is/could be the most famous W in the whole web.

Wikipedia is available in 275 languages, and the current logo at least acknowledges that there are other writing systems and that this is not just an English encyclopaedia.

Changing it for a W is a complete disregard of the significance of Wikipedia as a multilingual reference work.

Tip to anyone looking for a link to the Redefined Wikipedia so you can actually try it out: it doesn't exist.

What they did is a design -- i.e., a document explaining their ideas. There is no working prototype that you can try out. (I was looking forward to trying out the Connection Cloud.)

It wasn't obvious to me that they had a discussion about design but no actual implementation.

I feel like this redesign invests in exactly the sort of brand-ism that wikipedia opposes. These changes seem to do little to improve the actual interface, instead introducing an intrusive menu and pasting a logo wherever possible.

That said, the connection explorer is quite neat and the efforts to ease editing have their heart in the right place.

This design forgoes my second biggest usage of Wikipedia (and I suspect it's a big use case for other multilinguals). (My primary usage of course being reading and enjoying the vast content.)

I often use Wikipedia as a high quality word translator. I study at a Swedish speaking university which requires that a lot of the written material I produce is of course in swedish. Whenever I'm writing a comp sci text and I wonder what in gods name a "morphism" is in swedish I just look up the english article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphism) and hover over the swedish language in the sidebar and voilà I've got a peer reviewed translation (peer reviewed because it probably has sources in both languages, in most cases).

I like the use of colors in the redefined design, but will it work for people with color-blindness?

Agree with all the critiques. Interestingly, while reading through the redesign, I thought some of the new functionality they added (highlighting, mapping link connections, etc.) were kind of interesting.

But then I remembered designers aren't supposed to develop new features.

Agghhh, it's like they're making it web-3.0-y with all the giant logos/buttons and a massive toolbar. I already hate sites enough that cram a whole load of fat things above the actual content. Especially sharing buttons. I KNOW HOW TO COPY A URL DAMMIT!

Just accept the future man.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pyramid (from Greek: πυραμίς pyramis[1]) is a structure whose shape is roughly that of a pyramid in the geometric sense; that is, its outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single point at the top.

Share "Pyramid" with your friends: Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google+ - Email - Pinterest - Tumblr - Reddit - Delicious - Digg - WordPress

Follow Wikipedia on: Twitter - Facebook - Google+ - Pinterest"

(Or you could get Ghostery)

I'm glad Wikipedia is nothing remotely like that.

Yeah, I hope it stays more like Craigslist. Simple, ugly and functional.

Worth reading:


Some interesting technical (and also 'philosophical') aspects.

It basically looks like a copy of Google's current design. Black bar with other properties at the top, then a big white page full of whatever. It's a fine interface, but I don't have much trouble with en.wikipedia either.

Wow that's ugly. When did minimalism and copying Google's get mistaken fir creativity?

I'm kinda over the whole "hey. we're all cool people. let's get together and do stuff." design aesthetic. It was cute for a time but let's move on.

Please just KISS. Why would we want to make Wikipedia clunky and overstylized?

J don't really care about Wikipedia looking nice or being more navigatable. J rarely go there to browse. J google a term and append it with 'wiki', click on the first link and 3 minutes later J'm done.

I can't take designers seriously when they use a font with that such an unreadable "I", and input boxes big enough to park a truck in. Get the basics right when you make proposals that are supposed to represent your skills and vision. There are too many cute ideas in this redesign like the upside-down "w" for "meta" and the LSD spiderweb logo.

Do the colours indicate language or specific wiki? Can't have both, sorry.

The designers have huge problems with proportion both typographically and in their whitespace. Even if they are just mock-ups, they can use some more care.

I'm using a netbook. I think without "Readability" I woudln't have been able to make it through most of their post because I kept hitting space about twice per second. From looking at their redesign for an article page (didn't care much about anything related to the wikipedia homepage, I never use it), it seems like they don't care too much for people with small screens either: about half of the available screen estate available to my browser would be covered by their menu thing at the top.

I guess people with netbooks would be worse off.

Overall, I think it's gorgeous, especially the page layout stuff. I don't like the logos especially, but having a "branded house" approach makes a lot of sense for uniting the disparate sites.

Each of those "disparate sites" has a working and passionate community contributing to it. Their approach is about as bad as it can get.

Where is the Wikimedia theme/skin described in this showcase?

It doesn't exist. They just made some fancy images.

Ah, then they have no idea if what they are describing is even remotely possible given the constraints imposed by Wikimedia. Making a theme/skin for Wikimedia is quite a task, actually.

Well, got to cut them some slack for effort.

But the result is atrocious.

This is exactly the kind of stuff you normally get when BigCorp meets CI-agency.

Every single detail gets backed by an elaborate, esoteric justification, so everyone has their asses covered. Nevermind the horror that is the end-result. What matters is that "we made the button bright pink and 2 pixels tall because studies have shown bright pink catches attention and small click-targets invoke natural curiosity"...

Is wikipedia __really__ broken that it requires a redefinition?

I think what these folks did was a new UX/UI implementation. Redefinition would imply a new way of how wikipedia handles with the data. Not in terms of displaying or presentating the data but in terms of providing better analysis tools for the data (among others).

What this folks did was more of a PR exercise to showcase what they are capable of..

In the redesign, the body of the pyramid article starts halfway down the page. In the original, it starts 1/4 way down the page.

This is not an improvement.

Nice effort, but they don't understand one of the fundamental things about content heavy sites the size of wikipedia - the vast majority of users never even need to go to its home page - they get to the content via direct links from search engines like google. Many these days prefix their google search with "wiki" as well in order to look on wikipedia.

To me, it is obviously just an experiment in design concepts. I enjoyed reading it. I don't agree with almost everything, and the changes to wikipedia they make are, in my opinion, fuck-ugly, but I don't know why we need to be so harsh on it!! It's not like they were trying to replace Wikipedia, just play with 're-imagining any website'.

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