I agree with this!

I think this is an entry point of an important (but relatively easy to implement) aspect of the experience of Wikipedia.

This is a fabulous opportunity to give thought and heart to the message you send to everyone who uses Wikipedia. There is a habit when we've seen something a bunch of times, to think that it's the “way it's done”. This is sometimes true, especially in contexts with a long history. I don't think this is the case here. I believe there is room to put some more human personality in Wikipedia.

Of course WP is not a corporation that is trying to coerce or gather people. And the difference here is that you don't have to convince people, you have a huge built-in audience that might not even notice robotic language. But I bet they would notice something out-of-the-ordinary.

I have no idea if it pertains to the gender gap, but tone of language makes a tremendous difference to me, personally; regarding how I feel about a site, how long I want to stay and whether I want to contribute.

I would love to spend some time and consider/discuss this issue.


(I've found a lot of content about the structure of Wikipedia articles and contributor behavior but not interface-tone.)

the bug that prompted my thoughts:


findings of a cursory web search on the topic:



funny: http://www.dblums.com/2011/03/31/what-richard-simmons-can-teach-us-about-web-design/

apple doing it: http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=16300

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM, Tomasz Finc <tfinc@wikimedia.org> wrote:
On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 7:53 AM, Jon Robson <jrobson@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> Have we got a copy text writer in the team/community or any copy text
> guidelines?

CC'ing Jay (our head of communications) as he has the best brains for
this ... mmm ... brains

> Currently on the mobile site in beta mode [1] we have the text 'Type
> your search here...' on the search box before you click on it. This
> created (IMO) an interesting discussion [2].

Glad to see that my suggestion of "Tap to search" made it onto there :D

> Personally I think we have a chance to be more inspiring with the
> words we use. It would be good to think more about this sort of thing
> across mobile to strengthen the MediaWiki/Wikipedia brand.

Do it. Get community members involved BUT keep in mind this *has* to
get translated and a long text string in english will be exceptionally
long in other languages. Thus keep it short. Also, were on mobile
devices here ... anything moderately long even if a word or two longer
is bad. Thus .. keep it short x2. Make those expectations clear if
your going to involve more people.

> Little things like copy text can make all the difference. 'I'm feeling
> lucky' on Google for instance rather than 'Go to the top search
> result' is fun and meaningful. Likewise we could imagine our 'Random'
> button in the main menu saying 'Inspire me' or 'Surprise me'. Facebook
> 'What's on your mind?' in the update status box is much more
> interesting than 'type your status here'.



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