I very much support Ori's proposal. We discussed it at length during the product retreat and I think we can easily avoid the pitfall Jarred is being cautious about by simply making a few configurable parameters for the skin default to one value, but be deployed on our sites using another.

This also gives us the ability to adjust the branding of the theme between sites. Again - this would be subtle, but we know that people get confused as to which site they are on when navigating between WP and Commons for instance.

Finally, these "configurations" could possibly later be adjusted by admins using a special page. Wordpress themes often allow key theme colors to be adjusted this way, and people actually do customize their themes quite often, further increasing the effective diversity of MediaWiki skins throughout the internet, helping to prevent our brand from being watered down as it to some degree today.

- Trevor

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 6:55 PM, Ori Livneh <ori@wikimedia.org> wrote:
On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Jared Zimmerman <jzimmerman@wikimedia.org> wrote:
I'm a little torn on this. If skins evolve within Wikipedia (and foundation projects) but not on mediawiki core I won't feel like we're putting out a good product.

I know what you mean, but what I'm calling for is really minimal: identify a UI feature which that could be usable and attractive in two variants (like two different shades of grey for the background of the Vector sidebar), and choose one for the default for core, and the other for Wikipedia. You can include the Wikipedia-specific style in core; just gate it with a configuration variable. Most third-party MediaWiki instances aren't styled the way they're styled because their administrators wanted to mimic Wikipedia, but rather because they find the defaults sensible and useable and didn't want to fuss with things. We should continue to provide defaults that are sensible and usable, but we should pick one -- just one! -- and make it sensible, usable, and slightly different.

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