[WikiEN-l] Newbie friendliness, markup hell, and editing structure

Magnus Manske magnusmanske at googlemail.com
Mon Mar 10 22:59:27 UTC 2008

One of the reasons everyone and their sockpuppet scream "WYSIWYG
editor" is the accumulation of intricate wiki markup on even otherwise
simple pages. Coincidentally, this is also what prevents a WYSIWYG
editor at the moment ;-)
It is also said that the template hell and other things scare away
newbies, or lead to their accidental breaking of pages.

Once Upon A Time (TM), I wrote a function into MediaWiki that would
separate some of the meta content into a separate editing area, thus
reducing the clutter in the actual edit box. The code's still there,
deactivated, and probably broken right now.

Today, I rewrote the thing in JavaScript. It separates
* templates, images, and horizontal lines at the top of a page
* templates and some magic words at the end of a page
* categories
* language links
into text boxes of their own. This happens automatically right after
loading the edit page, and it all gets reconstructed into a single
text the moment you save, preview, or diff the edit. On preview or
diff, everything gets separated again.

It is only enabled for the article namespace. Top and bottom edit
boxes can be hidden (I could add an option to hide either as default),
and everything can be reset to "standard", giving the normal edit page
for the moment.

Besides better structuring of article body and "meta" content, it does
clean up whitespace, sort categories and language links
alphabetically, etc.

A demo of what it does to [[Stevan Faddy]], a short, regular biography, is here:

Finally, the script:

It seems that there is no "withJS" option on en.wikipedia, which would
allow for a transient demo.
To use, add the usual incantation to your monobook.js:
importScript('User:Magnus Manske/less edit clutter.js');


More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list