Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Wikipedia

How Can Wikipedia's Visual Editor Top Other Word Processors? 196

Posted by timothy
from the want-edit-mode-by-default dept.
First time accepted submitter azadnama writes "Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia, is aware of the fact the MediaWiki formatting syntax is a major obstacle for people's participation in writing on the site. To address this problem, the Foundation is developing VisualEditor—a web-based WYSIWYG interface for editing articles. It's supposed to be similar to a word processor, like LibreOffice, Microsoft Word, Pages, Google Docs, and others. And this is the time to ask: What did your word processor get wrong and how can Wikipedia's VisualEditor get it right?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Can Wikipedia's Visual Editor Top Other Word Processors?

Comments Filter:
  • Styles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I use them all the time and abhor when they do not behave consistently.

    Funny thing, styles work better in OO.o than in MS Office.

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Styles worked great in Word 5 for DOS or Mac. Since they found that few users bothered to read how to use them, they dumbed them down, tried to second guess every formatting change the user made and randomly change the styles; or not. If you use styles the defaults are such that it's hard to stop Word fucking up the entire document if you make one change to one paragraph that it interprets as a change to a basic style.

      I deal with a lot of documents from professional writers, professors, CEOs; educated, sm

    • One of the core concepts of wikitext is that stylistic things are handled by the wiki engine. This assures consistency over, say, the million pages of Wikipedia. It also makes it possible to serve out "pages" to special purpose browsers, like audio output, braille printers, cell phones, etc.

      The wikitext needs to be limited to semantic mark-up. "This is a headline. This is a paragraph. This is an emphasized phrase in the paragraph. This is table." That kind of thing. Let the wiki engine decide how these sho

  • Check out Confluence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And don't do what they did. It's the most frustrating wiki editor on the planet.

    Many wiki pages have large amounts of structured information, and the Confluence editor is spectacularly bad at managing that. It's the most aggravating thing to use.

    And don't get rid of plain text markup for when the rich editor fails.

  • by caferace (442) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:35PM (#42013805) Homepage
    ..they need to make something that imports the current format in a WYSIWYG fashion, renders and exports it properly. Dealing with the table structure there is a nightmare for low-intermediate experience editors.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ..they need to make something that imports the current format in a WYSIWYG fashion, renders and exports it properly. Dealing with the table structure there is a nightmare for low-intermediate experience editors.

      Christ, no. They need to start over with something done right from the start. Trying to make anything out of the existing mess is doomed to failure.

      • Yikes I thought they were starting over, they're seriously going to try and put another layer on top of that?

        • There's several billion words of legacy content generated over ten years. Starting over was considered, but it's not a happener.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:36PM (#42013813)

    It should place structure above formatting.

    i.e., sectioning and lists rather than screwing around with fonts, colours and line spacing.

    LaTeX gets this right. a UI where users have to specify sectioning and such would be good.

  • LyX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:44PM (#42013871)

    Recreate LyX, or clean up LyX specifically for wiki editing and make it HTML 5. What You See Is What You Mean is what wiki writing needs.

    • Recreate LyX, or clean up LyX specifically for wiki editing and make it HTML 5. What You See Is What You Mean is what wiki writing needs.

      this, mod parent up.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Better make it for a real language than for mediawiki which is just a bunch of hacks without specification though

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:47PM (#42013889)
    That's the long name for vi. Why don't they consider emacs?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It should have built in warnings so you know not to waste time on an article that belongs to one of the regulars. It might be possible to calculate this on the fly for each article by seeing how long an average edit lasts before being reverted by one of a small number of players.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @02:49PM (#42013907)

    Really, works fine for most websites. Add a few scripts for references and such, automate some of the layout and done.

    Incidentally can we get a CSS switch that makes links the same colour as the rest of the text, user preferences kind of thing? The multicoloured text is really hard to read.

    • The multicoloured text is really hard to read.

      not if you are under 13.

      Please can we have wysiwyg AND "Reveal Codes" (I am talking to you LibreOffice! )

      • by jmcvetta (153563)

        Please can we have wysiwyg AND "Reveal Codes" (I am talking to you LibreOffice! )

        Oh how I miss WordPerfect for Linux. Best Linux-native word processor ever, no competition. Alas, WP apparently couldn't figure out how to make money on it, and discontinued it. If instead they had open sourced it, it would today likely be the unquestioned leader on the Linux desktop. WP (are they still even in business?) could no doubt run a profitable business providing support to corporate users. Alas...

    • Re:CKEditor (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Owyn (934) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:20PM (#42014131) Homepage

      CKEditor is an HTML editor. Wikitext is not HTML. Wikia (my employer) does use a heavily modified CKEditor to round trip wikitext->html->wikitext but it's fragile and the experience lacks polish. The foundation decided to start over from scratch with a new design using an intermediate data representation coupled with a new parser and a simple extensible UI. I think they're going in the right direction, it's just going to take a while.

  • Just throwing this out there -- two of the major hurdles to doing this right are (a) that Wikipedia's syntax is not formally defined, and (b) that its current implementation is (as defined by the output of the MediaWiki parser) is not a context free grammar. Which means that writing robust, fast parser for it is very hard.

  • Their lack of coherent coding and / or a WYSIWYG editor is the LEAST of WikiMedia / WikiPedia's issues.

    Number one issue keeping new blood away: Asshat editors-for-life with "ownership" issues, who park their fat asses on various pages / subjects / media classes, and shit diarrhea on any "newbe" who dares add / change / question so much as punctuation...

     

  • They should avoid going WYSIWYG, because WYSIWYG never works correctly. There's a reason TeX is so popular.
    Hell, there's your answer. Just get everybody to write in TeX.
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:05PM (#42014023) Homepage
      TeX is an unsatisfactory half-measure between a visual formatting free-for-all and truly semantic markup. Even within the TeX community, it's now common to see publishers maintaining manuscripts in e.g. DocBook XML, only converting the data to TeX via XSLT when they want to produce final print output.
  • Problem with modern user interfaces is that they usually have waay too many buttons/options!

    Every user interface is actually two user interfaces, one in the mind, and one on the screen. Every image on the screen first goes trough the "filter" in your brain, and this filter is different for everyone. But if you make a large part of the user interface a part of the "filter" in your mind, you also gain a better understanding of what you're doing. Would you think it would be better if while programming you had

    • Nonsense. You can never have enough options [typepad.com].

    • WYSIWYG is misunderstood and over hyped. It is only practical for editing presentation but for actual EDITING it is like forcing somebody who can run to use crutches!

      Wikipedia in recent times is largely edited by frequent users and not newbs. They would be best served if they catered to their primary demographic's needs for a productive EDITOR and then maybe put a little effort onto a WYSIWYG version for newbs later (they could encourage userscripts.org to get involved in developing newb editors.) They ca

    • by NotBorg (829820)

      If you're gonna build a WYSIWYG interface with all the capabilities of the normal interface, it'll probably end up more complicated than the normal interface.

      Sure, but you don't have to incorporate every feature if you're targeting the novice like Wikipedia team is.

    • by durdur (252098)

      Word is so complex, most users don't even touch most of its features. And making the UI customizable, as a way of dealing with complexity, does not improve matters - it just confuses users even more. That said, it could be (and has been) worse: if you used it in the 80s, when it was a poor competitor to WordPerfect, you are glad you don't have *that* to deal with anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:04PM (#42014011)

    And so is MediaWiki syntax.

    The whole damn point of HTML is "what you see is what you *mean*. If you write hypertext, and think about looks, you already fail, and have to change your thought patterns.
    There is a very specific reason HTML is not about looks. Unfortunately apparently its usefulness and elegance is only obvious to programmers. But then again, only programmers have the competence to decide it, so all is fine. Until the idiots come, and listen to the even more uninformed idiots, and fuck everything up. (Examples: Clippy, Windows 8, iOS/Google autocorrect, Ubuntu Unity, Gnome 3, KDE Plasmids, and even ShowView [if you remember that one].)

    And MediaWiki is one of the well-known textbook examples of the inner-platform effect anti-pattern [wikipedia.org]. (TypoScript is another big one.)
    It tries to imitate the feature set of HTML, but dumbs it down under a false pretense, and ends up with a just as (or in many cases even more) complicated yet very limited system, that is vastly inferior to the original. It would have made more sense to just use HTML in the first place, and be done with it.

    There is no saving the whole thing. The foundation is rotten to the core. The philosophy is deeply, utterly wrong. Nuke it from orbit, and replace it by a nice XHTML subset and a WYSIWYM(ean) model. Done. End of story. End of problems.

    Also, if we see Ethiopian kids that never saw a computer before and could not read or write being able to use Android tablets to go to the web, play games and even modify ("hack") it after a few weeks, then nobody can tell me that learning something as ridiculously simple as HTML would be "hard". There is no excuse. If you are a human, and have no extreme mental disability, you can learn HTML! In a DAY.

    • by allo (1728082)

      mod parent up, for truth.

    • by Elbereth (58257) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @06:42PM (#42015607) Journal

      First, I just want to say that I agree with you. However, it's a bit arrogant to insist that people do everything your way, instead of giving them the ability to do things the way they prefer. If people want to contribute to Wikipedia using a WYSIWYG editor, then Wikipedia should provide such a feature, even if it runs counter to everything that the web stands for. Getting people to contribute and lowering the barrier to entry is more important than ideological purity.

      Ideological purity for its own sake leads to the Reign of Terror.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @03:06PM (#42014031) Homepage

    Wikipedia editing is not about formatting. It's not about font or size. The markup language includes links and many macros with specific parameters. Those are where users require assistance. {{cite book}}, for example, requires many parameters which could be filled in automatically, such as author, title, ISBN, publisher, and date of publication.

    Wikipedia's big structure problem, though, is that it is a wiki only. Some kinds of information belong in a different kind of structure. Items like "State Route 92" belong in a spatial database tied to maps. Music and bands belong in databases where songs and performers are automatically indexed. Wikipedia is full of manually maintained popular culture related list items which should be generated with a SELECT statement.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wikipedia shares your concerns about structured data being indexed in a completely unstructured manner, and they have launched the WikiData (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikidata) project to correct this. In the foreseeable future, your vision of creating lists and infoboxes through a SELECT-like statement will be realized.

      Semantic Wikis have also tried to address this problem (http://semantic-mediawiki.org/) but they have suffered from too-tight coupling between pages and the data lying on them.

  • Or at least so I think. Let Wikipedia BE not that easy to edit: someone that wants to edit will have to go through this small extra step.

    Those syntax walls are there to keep the ill-determined from jumping right in.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      ...and keep the elitist in control, otherwise they would no longer have that one and onlything they dont suck at, and might go do something rash.

      • by localman (111171)

        If the ability to use the Mediawiki syntax is the bar for being "elite", you may want to think about raising it a bit.

        Maybe we should figure out a way for illiterate people to edit Wikipedia too.

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

          no, I just think learning a specific syntax for something as simple as a fucking page of text and a picture or two is retarded

    • by jgrahn (181062)

      Or at least so I think. Let Wikipedia BE not that easy to edit: someone that wants to edit will have to go through this small extra step.

      And the step really is small. My experience is, people whine about not being able to write Mediawiki syntax up until the point they actually *try*. Then it turns out they can use it after all.

  • It's better for Wikipedia to remain tool agnostic and support any editor the users wish to use.

  • The editor should provide facilities for content markup. Wikipedia should have a stylesheet that applies the proper style to each content class. The biggest headache I've ever encountered in collaborative authoring environments is where one primadonna insists that something absolutely has to be done with his favorite font/color/whatever.

    Where it is justified to format some content in a specific way, a process needs to be adopted to submit that requirement as a change request to the 'owners' of the style gu

  • If we can't have drag and drop uploads, a least an easier way to upload and place images into a page.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      If we can't have drag and drop uploads, a least an easier way to upload and place images into a page.

      No. Because there is a necessary rigmarole to verifying the copyright status of any image you want to use on Wikipedia.

  • If the prospective editor can't use mark-up, what does that tell you about their overall intellectual ability? Keep Wikipedia great, full of high-quality articles by intellectuals -- disallow visual editing.
  • I'm an author at the SCP Foundation wiki, which uses it, and it's head and shoulders better than mediawiki syntax, at least in my opinion. The commands used are more obvious, such as **bold** //italics// instead of wikimedia's deluge of dashes that has to be supplemented by HTML anyways, modules work in much more obvious ways, and there's much less formatting that induces accidental screwups. WYSIWIG is not a good way to edit anything but plain text, either way.
  • All these need to be much easier to use than they presently are. Perhaps have a dialog for the different type of templates used.

  • A visual editor is essentially a very program with many, many features. No one does the interface particularly well, so consider making an interface that is based on information complexity and brain theory rather than the current model.

    The current model has features stuffed into every corner - the edges and corners of everything sprout features, a zillion toolbars stuffed with icons, tooltips are everywhere. It's gotten so complicated that I don't think anyone bothers with customization any more.

    Do some dat

  • by rueger (210566) * on Saturday November 17, 2012 @04:00PM (#42014417) Homepage
    My biggest complaint with most word processors is their default behaviour to change e-mail addresses and web addresses into blue, underlined hyperlinks.

    I actually use word processors to create stuff that gets printed on paper. Hyperlinking, blueifying, and underlining words is useless to me, and wastes my time. I can think of no good reason why MS or anyone else should assume that every user of their word processor is creating web pages.

    And while I'm at it, I can't think of a single time when I wanted the formatting from a web page to be carried into a printed document when I copied and pasted a block of text. Surely the sensible default should be to paste in plain text and pick up formatting from the destination document? At the very least this should be an optional default.
    • by Nathanbp (599369)

      At least in Word there's an option after you paste to remove the extra formatting. It shows up as a dropdown at the end of your pasted text.

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        At least in Word there's an option after you paste to remove the extra formatting. It shows up as a dropdown at the end of your pasted text.

        Control-space to remove formatting.
        Ctrl+Shift+F9 to remove fields, including hyperlinks.
        Ctrl-Q to remove paragraph formatting

        I spend more time undoing Word formatting that I never wanted to begin with than actually applying formatting.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Let me help.

      1. It's an auto-correct problem. Turn it off in the options.

      2. It's a style problem. Set the "Hyperlink" style to auto-colour and remove the underline. Save this in "normal.doc" or a new template.

      76. Write a small macro. Assign it to a shortcut or button. Something like:

      Selection.PasteAndFormat (wdFormatPlainText)

      49. Most users don't understand why you shouldn't go over the lines when colouring in; I mean, don't paste images in the margins. They think they're writing webpages - let them. It keep
    • by DaveGod (703167)

      My biggest complaint with most word processors is their default behaviour to change e-mail addresses and web addresses into blue, underlined hyperlinks.

      There's a configuration option for that. I don't have Word on this computer but I recall it being reasonably obvious.

      And while I'm at it, I can't think of a single time when I wanted the formatting from a web page to be carried into a printed document when I copied and pasted a block of text. Surely the sensible default should be to paste in plain text and p

  • Rationale (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tbird81 (946205) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @04:30PM (#42014621)

    From their site:
    "The decline in new contributor growth is the single most serious challenge facing the Wikimedia movement in the year 2011. Removing the avoidable technical impediments associated with Wikimedia's editing interface is a necessary pre-condition for increasing the number of Wikimedia contributors."

    I'm not sure that the editing is the main problem with dropping contributors. The problem is that most of what you write will be deleted, any image you upload will be deleted, and nearly edit you make will be undone.

  • What did my word processor get wrong? I have tried and/or used virtually every word processor currently available for the Macintosh and except for LyX, they all lack the ability to intelligently place stand-alone objects such as graphics, figures, tables, sidebars, etc. Except for LyX, they _all_ treat these objects as giant characters. (Please don't tell me about anchor points etc.—they don't solve the problem.) This was astonishing to me when I discovered this about a year ago as I prepared to do a

    • I should have mentioned that the word processor that placed graphics intelligently was Fullwrite Professional.

  • Why Bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kagato (116051) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @05:39PM (#42015173)

    Why bother making a fancy editor when the bigger problem is the cliques of editors driving away new volunteers?

    • I don't think this is true In any event, since you (and other people who say the same thing) don't give examples, hard to evaluate yur claim in my work on over 100 articles, ahve seen very few , if any, cases where new people were really driven away - all of my rejected edits, each a child I felt sorrowful about, probably deserved, in the cold light of day, to be rejected. sure you are not just sour grapes ? or, one of the many wierd people who think that the earth is flat, or intelligent design is sicence
    • It is easier to admit that there is a problem with the editor, than it is to admit that there is a much larger problem with the editors.
  • There have been many attempts to tackle this problem (not just with wiki markup) and most of them have foundered when the requirements of the document type went beyond the facilities that could conveniently be represented in a synchronous typographic interface (I have been gathering these for my thesis on structured editing). Let's hope this implementation is more successful, given that the wiki markup is relatively simple.
  • most of the posts reflect a typical slashdot arrogance - we know computers, therefore the way we do things is better. I'm not gonna argue this fight, which is older and more bitter then vi/emacs, or even the unix haters handbook, but I will observe, for those interested in reality: Most of the people who use wiki are not computer people for most of these people, an MS word style editor will be easier to use , esp if it has good citation/ref features builtin, then current or any sort of HTML to put it anothe
    • by tgv (254536)

      I can only agree. There are people claiming Latex is a good example. Or -2. Let's hope they were all being ironical. If not, we're in for another decade of UI set back.

  • In office I dread every time I do copy/paste since I know it will inevitability do the wrong thing. Please always paste in context. Do not paste with formatting.

  • idea - suggestions for wikipedia new editor

    Caveats:
    - As I don't know the current UI for wikipedia editing well maybe it already has some of these things.
    - A new UI probably is not in fact the main reason for dwindling contributors, as someone else pointed out. Just saying.

    General UI
    - Screens are big these days. Consider an interface that keeps everything on one screen.
    - At least a rich text editor type thing with buttons for tags and popup input forms for entry of book info, etc.

    Editing Together
    - Allow simu

  • Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia it must handle large datasets in each article. Then the table is one of the most useful tools to give a comprehensive overview of any subject (chemistry, sports, social sciences etc.).

    The tables should support copy&paste from other editors, web pages, whether (as Google Docs) only with ctrl-c/ctrl-v. If you can get a table structure in copy&paste working, excellent.

    Of course the table should support all kinds of column sorting as is already done today, where _stabl

  • The correct question is: do you want a document editor or a page layout tool? WYSIWYG is strictly for the latter. If you want to write a document, worrying about layout and format is absolutely not what you should be doing. Finish writing, and then hand it off to a formatting/layout tool.

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

Working...