[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Andreas Kolbe jayen466 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 16 17:43:15 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM, Magnus Manske
<magnusmanske at googlemail.com>wrote:

> Well, you asked for volunteers... ;-)
> I started a tool that would let you change the CSS easily. Edit your
> common.js user page and add (pardon the "Leif Ericsson" pun...) :
> importScript('MediaWiki:Live EriCSSon.js');
> Once that is done, you can use a URL parameter to use any Wikipedia
> page with a CSS stylesheet.
> I also created a demo stylesheet called "explosion" (as in "exploded
> view"), which, when used on top of vector on a wide (>1600px) screen,
> uses a 900px central text column, with "floating" infoboxes,
> thumbnails, and TOC on the side. With "Live EriCSSon", you can
> test-drive the stylesheet, like so:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology?useCSS=User:Magnus_Manske/explosion.css
> And this is what it will look like:
> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSS_Stylesheet_explosion_demo_Biology.png
> All links to other wiki pages will automatically be extended with the
> URL parameter, so you can browse Wikipedia with the stylesheet without
> having to re-enter it on every page. Note that the original (vector)
> stylesheet will initially show briefly on every page :-(
> If this is something people think useful, I'll add a way to select
> from pre-defined stylesheet catalogs etc.
> Cheers,
> Magnus

Thanks Magnus, that looks really great. This is exactly the sort of
alternative page design I was thinking of, and that we should enable people
to select, especially if they have a large screen -- where the lines of
text can end up excessively long, pictures become all bunched up, and the
text flow gets messed up.

Of course, ideally users shouldn't have to manually edit a .js file to
obtain this result. They should just have to click a button somewhere that
will do it for them. Editing .js files is clunky. It's like being back in
DOS days. A programmer may take something like that in his stride, but most
people in Wikimedia's target group will baulk at being asked to do
something like that, and resent it.

In fact, I had to laugh the other day, when I read a Wikimedia demographic
survey. It literally said, "two-thirds of Wikipedia editors are not
programmers". What an odd way of phrasing that!


Surely, the interesting fact here that most people would have reported is
the converse, i.e. that one-third of Wikipedia editors *are* programmers.
That's far more than in the general population, and a huge demographic
bias. In fact, the page says that "only" 36% can be classified as techies,
and that 39% of male editors can program and create their own applications
(vs. 18% of female editors).

We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.

More information about the Wikimedia-l mailing list