[Wikipedia-l] What a wiki table syntax needs to do to work withcurrent table layouts

Hr. Daniel Mikkelsen daniel at copyleft.no
Sun Aug 4 10:43:18 UTC 2002

On Sun, 4 Aug 2002, Magnus Manske wrote:

> "Hr. Daniel Mikkelsen" <daniel at copyleft.no> wrote:

>>Is this really what we want? To have articles decide layout and colors? I think
>>this is a very scary development - this is the same thing that happened to the
>>web in the early days, and look where we are now! Next thing, we have

> IMHO, it is a Good Thing to have all articles within the same encyclopedia
> that deal with similar content to use similar layout.

Are you actually saing: "It is a Good Thing to have different layout for
different groups of articles within the same encyclopedia." ?

Because we already _have_ the same layout for similar content. Everything has
the same layout.

Perhaps you aren't thinking about layout, but items of content? Such as
specs for a country. There is no conflict between including such standard
content in all such articles, and avoiding the use of author-driven coloring
and layout.

> It would also help to develop a reputation as a source of knowledge, compared
> to a "random dump of factoids".

I just can't see how you reach this conclusion. Nothing exudes knowledge like
pure content, without bells and whistles, color and flash.

> Of course, an editor can still use it as the latter, but there should be an
> easy way to make wikipedia look a little more "organized" than the whole web.
> After all, we apply our own standards on content, why not on style and layout
> as well, where it makes sense?

Wikipedia already IS more "organized" than the whole web. Articles look the
same, work in the same interface, link cleanly to eachother, are available in
printable format, etc. The web, on the other hand, is a total mess of flash,
frames, incompatible "standards", bad layout, and abuse of markup (tables for
layout, etc.).

Why not apply our own standards on style and layout as well? Because there is
simply no need for this! Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a Powerpoint slide!
And because once you open up colors and layout it _will_ be abused. People
_will_ use colors to encode content (see the periodic table), which means we
_will_ lose the ability to transfer cleanly to other media (such as voice or

In addition, as has been mentioned here again and again, layout and styling
will complicate markup, and this will scare away writers - and writers are more
important than readers.

If one must have differently colored tables in, say, plant articles and country
articles, then let that be a property of the article, not the tables. Then get
the Wikipedia programmers to add some kind of category system which in turn can
determine the style sheet used (by HTML) in the tables. Sounds horrible? I
agree, but this is basically the same as styling tables directly, only less
intrusive and more forward compatible.

Another thing I already find quite upsetting is the tendency to use right
aligned "floating" tables. What is the use of this? It disociates the table
from the page, making it much more difficult for an alternate rendering agent
to determine where to put it (when to read it out aloud, for instance).

Okay, I notice I'm getting myself worked up here, so I'll stop. But please,
can't you all see that this is the road to disaster?

-- Daniel

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