Feeds

Wikipedia simplifies article editing for world+dog

New visual editor invites unwashed masses into the Wikifold

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Wikipedia is developing an easy-to-use visual editor to make it easier to muck up emend, revise, and polish pages of "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit".

The new editor is currently available only in a decidedly beta and somewhat buggy sandbox version – which you're free to toy with to your heart's content – but it's clear that the Wikifolk are aiming at a simple, standard interface.

In the current sandbox, you can easily control layout items such as bulleted and numbered lists, along with text boldness, italics, and off-page linking. A variety of header styles are also offered, as are indentation options.

Wikipedia visual editor sandbox

Choose a header level
(click to enlarge)

You can also toggle side-by-side views that present the page, along with your changes, in wikitext, HTML, or JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). Keyboard shortcuts are also provided, as is a history listing.

The visual editor effort is apparently in response to Wikipedia's declining popularity among contributors and editors. As noted by The Economist, the number of active editors of the English Wikipedia peaked in 2007, but has declined steadily since then, with the greatest decline being among casual editors.

Wikipedia's page views, however, remain healthy, currently running at about 7.5 billion per month. It could be argued that active editors have declined because the site's coverage has become somewhat saturated, with fewer entries needing to be emended or polished since the halcyon days of 2007.

Wikipedia visual editor sandbox

Format text, add a link
(click to enlarge)

It also could be argued that making Wikipedia easier to edit may not be the wisest move, if clarity, correctness, and completeness are the Wikimedia Foundation's goal. Not that The Reg doesn't trust the unwashed masses (much), but the thought of making it brain-dead simple to change a Wikipedia entry gives us pause. After all, the mere fact that Wikipedia pages took a bit of thought to construct and edit was a barrier to the thoughtless.

Now the Wikimedia Foundation is lowering that barrier, and we'll discover whether easier-to-implement participation improves the quality of the content found on Wikipedia – which, even its critics must admit, is often solid – or whether a broader range of participation weakens the credibility and usefulness of "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit".

Call us elitists or call us Cassandras, but we'll keep a close eye on Wikipedia after the Foundation begins to integrate the easy-peasy editor into the site next June. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.