[Foundation-l] Wikis and the direction hardware is taking

Steven Walling steven.walling at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 04:02:44 UTC 2011

On Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 6:16 PM, <Birgitte_sb at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I am getting ready do to a little traveling. It works out that traveling
> light is going to be my best bet for various reasons. As I don't want to
> carry around the weight of a laptop; I have purchased a little closer to the
> cutting edge than I generally do. In setting up my iPad this is what shocked
> me.  It is near impossible to edit a wiki.  Well that wasn't to worrisome. I
> figured "there's an app for that". I searched "Wikipedia" and was presented
> with a large selection of apps that basically hide the fact that the
> websites are even editable.  They offer helpful things to using the wiki on
> small screen wrt to TOC and general navigation, but they also strip out all
> the edit links.  After specifically searching for edit, I found one app that
> made it possible to edit from iPad without pulling my hair out. [1].
>  The whole trend is a bit worrisome.  Ever since I got the device I really
> don't want to use my laptop. I thought I would hate typing anything on it.
>  But it not bad at all (and I am the sort to make sure and buy laptops with
> full-size keyboards). People are going use  the free apps so long as WM
> wikis are hard to navigate natively.  We will never convert readers to
> editors if they reading with the editing interface stripped away. Do these
> apps for read-only Wikipedia even support the central-notice? I am not sure.
> Some seem to completely convert the website to a magazine appearance; some
> seem more like sleek web-browser.
> I can't help but think that WMF does't jump in soon with an inexpensive app
> which solves the difficulties of navigation while preserving the facets of
> the site that are important to WMF, it will be harder to recover the losses
> if this trend of hardware takes hold. I imagine an official WMF app would
> get some sort of preference when searching "wikipedia" in the App Store,
> which is why I really think the foundation might want to attend to this.
> BirgitteSB


You are absolutely correct.

Just as an additional option for Wikipedians who use the iPad, I'd point out
this little trick that makes it easier to edit from the browser:

There are a whole host of opportunities and risks on mobile for Wikimedia.
You've clearly been thinking about this, so I think it would be helpful if
you could add your ideas to the relevant Talk pages on strategy wiki.[1] [2]
If you could write in detail about your experiences with the iPad that would
be helpful to the mobile team I'm sure, as a case study in user experience.

I completely share your fears about Wikipedia in an app-centric world. In
general I'm glad to say that I hear all the time at the Foundation about
what the mobile team is doing.

This isn't iPad-relevant per se, but they're in the middle of rewriting the
mobile site and making sure that all mobile browsers actually redirect
there. Another thing that will make things better is that Kul is hiring a
person to develop partnerships with mobile businesses. That means that, with
both app makers and big companies like carriers, we will have more of a
fighting chance to make our feelings about edit buttons, donations, proper
licensing attribution, and other issues heard. There are lots more, but if
you have ideas please share.


1. http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Product_Whitepaper
2. http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mobile

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