[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 14 23:24:13 UTC 2012

I do think the Wikimedia sites look dated, and very "male", too.

One example I always think of when this issue comes up is Wikifashion:


I would love for Wikipedia to have optional skins like that, made by
graphic designers, just like you can have all sorts of bells and whistles
for your browser.

Commons is another project that has a very clunky look. I mean, look at
that main page. This is an image hosting project, for Christ's sake. I
discussed this with Magnus Manske a few weeks ago at a meet-up, and he
showed me how Flickr offers people ways to explore their new content, like
this for example, showcasing recent uploads:


Here is Pinterest, which also has a real-time format visualising a flow of


These sites are beautiful to look at. If Commons were properly designed,
its front end would not have hundreds of text hyperlinks, but would show
off its new images.

On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:42 PM, Michel Vuijlsteke <wikipedia at zog.org>wrote:

> On 14 July 2012 23:48, David Richfield <davidrichfield at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I really really don't get all this talk about Wikipedia being ugly.
> > To me it's a great example of how text really can move from markup to
> > a well-laid-out website with a coherent design philosophy. Wikipedia
> > generates results which adapt to window size very gracefully without
> > taking the cop-out of forcing all the content to run down the center
> > of the page in a fixed size.
> >
> Okay, "ugly" was a poor choice of words. Ugly is subjective.
> Bad typography and poor layout objectively hinders readers. It slows
> reading speed and reduces comprehension -- not in some vague "well yeah,
> that's your word against mine" way, but in an objectively scientifically
> measurable way.
> What Wikipedia does is not really "adapting gracefully". It's adding a
> padding of 1.5em to the left and right of a block of text that spans the
> entire width of any available window (minus the 11em of the left panel).
> There's a limit to the amount of text you can put on a line before it
> becomes hard to read.
> What you're calling a "cop-out" is not a cop-out at all. The ads, well,
> they need to be there for The Atlantic to be able to pay the bills, but
> increasing the number of characters per line in the text column would *not*
> make the better. To the contrary: the amount of words per line is about
> just right. Here, take the test yourself.
> This is the article in Wikipedia layout: http://imgur.com/xinFW
> This is the article as seen on The Atlantic: http://imgur.com/WH1WT
> And this is the article run through Evernote Clearly:
> http://imgur.com/sH3HJ
> Anyone can see, I hope, that the Clearly (http://evernote.com/clearly/)
> version is by far the easiest and most comfortable to read. Bigger font. *
> Different* font. Contrast less harsh. Fewer characters per line. Margins.
> Leading. Kerning.
> It's almost funny there's no article about macrotypography on Wikipedia. :)
> Michel
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