Technology

Wikipedia: surprisingly old school web design

Having been using Wikipedia more than usual in the last few days, and even made a couple of minor edits (there’s now one less surplus space in the world, yay!), I’ve been struck by how old school it now feels.

There’s no ‘login with your Facebook or Twitter account’ option. Instead, it’s got a free-standing registration system, just like everyone used to have.

There are no social sharing links on the pages.

Nor even is there an easy way to tell your friends that you’ve just made some changes to a piece. Depending on who the person was, I can easily imagine clicking on a link in a tweet telling me that person X has just edited page Y on Wikipedia. But you just about never see such messages – in large part because it’s more than just a couple of clicks to send them.

So, special login, no sharing links and no spreading of your activities via social networks. All a bit old school – and perhaps a part-explanation for the tailing off of activity.

6 responses to “Wikipedia: surprisingly old school web design”

  1. Alternative hypotheses:

    1) All the mainstream topics now have extensive articles. It’s now harder to contribute unless you have some esoteric knowledge.
    2) Dissatisfaction with the leadership has led Wikipedians to leave in disgust.
    3) Ditto, but for lower-level deletionists, citationistas and rules-lawyers.
    4) Ill-judged policies making it harder to create or edit articles discourage casual contributors, the underappreciated lifeblood of the project.

    Some of your suggestions aren’t good ideas anyway, of course. In particular, allowing login via OpenID would make it slightly easier for casual users to edit pages in an identifiable way, addressing concerns about anonymous vandalism. Easy sharing of interesting articles would also be good. But I can’t for the life of me see why you want to see “X edited Y” tweets, even if the service filtered out trivial grammar/typo fixes.

  2. Good point; though is it feasible for MediaWiki, which is largely a volunteer project, to implement that kind of integration?

  3. MediaWiki already supports OpenID, but they never turned it on for Wikipedia itself (they were going to I heard, I’m guessing some snobbery said no).

    My account there has an RSS feed of my contributions, but it’s ugly. If it can produce a feed, I can hack it to show my edits elsewhere, but it can also easily be properly incorporated into a share button. A less ugly feed’d also be good.

    I frequently make non-logged-in edits, because I forget my login details, I only tend to remember to log back in if there’s something I want to watch.

    I do think Pozorvlak at 1) makes good points though, probably a misture of those things, there’re definitely things happening within Wiki that’re impressive, when I moved to Calderdale, there wasn’t a page on local election results, so Hywel photocopied me stuff from ALDC records. Now they’ve got most of the results going back years, saving me some effort for when I do the other constituency.

    So it’s not that it’s dead, but it is a bit, well, clunky? I’d like the option of showing off my edits, if it’s one I like, it might even get others in to help me expand stubs and similar, which’d be a good thing.

  4. It’s interesting the way Wikipedia’s social media presence varies. 400,000 Facebook fans, and only 4,000 @wikipedia Twitter followers.

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