Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Wikipedia Graphics News

Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly? 370

Posted by timothy
from the looks-nice-to-me dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Megan Garber writes in the Atlantic that aesthetically, Wikipedia is remarkably unattractive. 'The gridded layout! The disregard for mind-calming images! The vaguely Geocities-esque environment! Whether it's ironic or fitting, it is undeniable: The Sum of All Human Knowledge, when actually summed up, is pretty ugly.' But Wikipedians consider the site's homeliness as a feature rather than a bug. 'Wikipedia has always been kind of a homely, awkward, handcrafted-looking site,' says Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, adding that the homeliness 'is part of its awkward charm.' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have built followings in part because of their exceedingly simple interfaces. Everything about their design says, 'Come on, guys. Participate. It's easy,' while Wikipedia, so far, has been pretty much the opposite of that. 'The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit' might more properly be nicknamed 'the free encyclopedia that any geek can edit.' This is particularly problematic because one of the Wikimedia Foundation's broad strategic goals is to expand its base of editors. While the editing interface is friendly to the site's super-users who tend to be so committed to Wikipedia's mission that they're willing to do a lot to contribute to it, if Wikipedia wants to make itself more attractive to users, a superficial makeover may be just the thing Wikipedia needs to begin growing in a more meaningful way."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:26AM (#40647529)

    Most websites that look awesome have almost no content which is hidden on several pages with lots of ads in between. No thx like it simple.

    • by del_diablo (1747634) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:42AM (#40647639)

      Indeed. I don't get the article at all, what is there to improve on? The layout works, there are images when needed to be informative. The only flaw is that some times it can be hard to find a spesific topic even with knowing a few keywords.

      • Learning markup (Score:5, Informative)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:11AM (#40647815) Homepage Journal
        The PCWorld article appears to claim that the barrier to entry is taking the time to learn wiki markup as opposed to pointy-clicky WYSIWYG bold, italic, heading, and link insertion. (Another barrier mentioned in other articles is taking the time to learn to discuss changes on the talk page to get past a perception of undue ownership [wikipedia.org], but that's not what this article is about.)
        • Re:Learning markup (Score:5, Informative)

          by jones_supa (887896) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @10:03AM (#40648161)
          I think it would be still nice to have a WYSIWYG interface. Actually I'm surprised that something like that is not in place already. The thing is, even if you mastered the markup (which is not even hard at all), many pages are a horrible mess to edit. For a quick example, see the source of chapter "Early SSDs using RAM and similar technology" in the "SSD" article.
          • by 1u3hr (530656)

            many pages are a horrible mess to edit. For a quick example, see the source of chapter "Early SSDs using RAM and similar technology"

            You would imagine that anyone interested in "Early SSDs using RAM and similar technology" would be pretty geeky and not fazed by the markup. And obviously the page was crested by exactly such people.

            99% of 99% of articles are just plain text. If you have some facts to contribute, just wrote plain text and you'll be fine. Quite likely someone will come along later and pretty it up. Or if you're really lost, put a comment on the talk page of the article pointing out what you think should be changed and someone more experienced may do it

            Much harder to grasp though are the policies -- verifiability, reliable sourcing -- requiring you to cite sources carefully. People who just know facts and write them can do so, but if anyone reviews it or disagrees, it will be quickly deleted.

            It's not all fun, I've come across a lot of assholes, vindictive jerks, persistent vandals and just idiots. The system is quite resilient and has evolved mechanisms to cope regardless.

          • Re:Learning markup (Score:5, Informative)

            by JDG1980 (2438906) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @10:56AM (#40648503)

            I think it would be still nice to have a WYSIWYG interface. Actually I'm surprised that something like that is not in place already.

            The Wikipedia brass have wanted this to happen for quite some time. There have been extensive discussions on the mailing lists about this. Unfortunately, it's extremely difficult to do from a technical point of view because there is no official specification for Wikicode. The markup format was never defined, it just sort of grew. The only real definition for Wikicode is whatever the PHP parser interprets (and that parser is a pile of spaghetti code). Features like templates and ParserFunctions make a WSYIWYG editor exceedingly challenging to develop without breaking many deployed pages.

            • by k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @11:45AM (#40648843)

              An online WYSIWYG editor that would allow saving the page layout (and not just the content) would be a mess. Even Google can't quite manage it with Google Docs, which remain simple when compared to the more complex layout possible with even a simple offline word processor like Abiword, much less full-blown suites like Libre/Open or MS Office.

              The better and probably more elegant solution would be to develop an official standalone Wikipedia editor similar in function to an HTML editor, with offline and online capabilities and code and preview modes. Since Wikipedia represents a relatively minute subset of possible web page designs, the Wikipeditor can be forked from an existing free HTML editor like Mozilla Composer.

              Just my lazy weekend thoughts ...

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Yvan256 (722131)

                The problem with WYSIWYG editors is that the browsers themselves add their own mess of HTML and CSS to the things you edit.

                • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @12:23PM (#40649151) Homepage Journal

                  The problem with WYSIWYG editors is that the browsers themselves add their own mess of HTML and CSS to the things you edit.

                  The problem with WYSWYG is that it's WYSIWYBNAEG.
                  Markup != presentation, which web "designers" still haven't gotten into their heads in more than fifteen years of fail after fail.

                  And in the case of Wikipedia, it does so exceedingly well because of its simplicity, not despite it. The less cluttered it is, the more the actual information pops to the front, and the more room there is for actual information.

                  Those who wants a rounded corner ajax-slowed video blog without all the boring details are free to make them. Don't hijack wikipedia, though.
                  You tried to hijack /., but we all noticed how well received that was.

                  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @12:39PM (#40649263) Homepage

                    Quite true, however just because a full WYSWYG editor would be a bad idea, doesn't mean you shouldn't have something beyond the primitive plain text. Things like ref's make editing the plain text pretty painful right now, as you simply can't read the text properly when every line is interrupted by three lines of ref hyperlinks and link descriptions. The proper answer should be a proper structured view of the text that makes it clear where tags start and stop, but also keeps the text human readable without looking like random markup soup.

                    • Things like ref's make editing the plain text pretty painful right now, as you simply can't read the text properly when every line is interrupted by three lines of ref hyperlinks and link descriptions.

                      Exactly -- this is part of what I was talking about when I pulled the example from the "SSD" article some comments above. So, even if you are a MediaWiki markup ninja, that kind of clutter just hinders you seeing the article in whole.

              • by SomePgmr (2021234)

                I think what you mentioned about allowing people to create and save too much design is a big deal, and something that would end badly.

                I've done more than my share of sites for organizations, and without fail, any time you give end users real command over design you end up with awfulness. This usually ends up being somewhere on the front page as little news updates, where it's a real eyesore.

                I think smart people saw that coming and did a good job using something resembling an extensive superset of bbcode.

                Th

                • by Grishnakh (216268) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:16PM (#40651879)

                  I don't get this "Wikipedia is Ugly" idea either; I think it looks really good personally. There isn't a bunch of extra flashy crap, just the article text, some tables listing key points concisely, some relevant photos, and finally references at the bottom. Then there's a simple menu on the left, and some tabs to look at the "Talk" page, edit the content, or view the edit history, and a search box plus a link to log in or create an account. What little color there is is muted and very neutral. What's the problem?

                  I think this is just a bunch of Web 2.0 morons complaining because it hasn't been completely redesigned and uglified for no reason at all, just like Gmail's crappy new interface; change for change's sake.

                  • by maglor_83 (856254)

                    On the desktop, it's mostly pretty good, although tables can look a bit poor when not done well. On the mobile, I would go as far as to say it is the single best looking site I've seen.

                • by rtb61 (674572)

                  When in doubt the KISS principle always wins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_principle [wikipedia.org]. Keep It Simple Stupid, just like same lame arsed journalist trying to drive page views by targeting well known public identity with some lame pointless attack. This article on slashdot should not just be about the appearance of Wikipedia but also about lame hack journalists on the web trying desperately to drive page views before being fired by writing up inane articles that try to hype the journalist by associating t

            • by grumbel (592662)

              That shouldn't be to hard to fix, it's a Wiki after all. Define a syntax, have the parser check it and spout out "syntax error" messages along the way. Leave it to the users to clean it up. This would also be a nice way to introduce new editors to Wikipedia, as fixing syntax errors is easy and unoffensive, so there is less risk of a revert war.

      • by ansak (80421) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @11:05AM (#40648585) Homepage Journal

        This kind of comment comes from the same kind of morons who brought us the re-tooling, for instance, of GMail. It was great (to use) the way it was. Now I hear nothing (NOTHING!) but complaints about it (or blank stares which when probed yield statements of powerlessness). If the underlying code was ugly, the first update cycle should have been to upgrade the code in a way that none of the users would notice.

        Note to Jimmy Wales: resist the UX-groupthink mob who would tell you to make Wikipedia more tablet friendly. If it's ugly, it's ugly the way the old White Pages were ugly. Ugly and informative. The way a real newspaper used to be ugly (especially the front sections up to where the editorials, letters and Op-Ed pieces lay): ugly, information rich and informative.

        Note to the groupthink mob: if you must make something tablet-friendly, make sure it's still screen friendly during the design before you foist it on those of us who haven't caved-in to constant computing through tablet ownership.

        <quickly hitting submit before going off and doing something real>...ank

        • Note to Jimmy Wales: resist the UX-groupthink mob who would tell you to make Wikipedia more tablet friendly. If it's ugly, it's ugly the way the old White Pages were ugly. Ugly and informative. The way a real newspaper used to be ugly (especially the front sections up to where the editorials, letters and Op-Ed pieces lay): ugly, information rich and informative.

          Even better, visualize this request as Michael Jackson returned from the grave to recommend his favorite cosmetic surgeon.

          There's a lot of people wh

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @11:44AM (#40648833) Journal
        Not only that, on the Atlantic article, I counted no less than 6 different typefaces, not counting colors, bold, all-caps, etc. If this lady wants to change things, she should start with her own magazine.
        • by spage (73271) <spage.skierpage@com> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @03:00PM (#40650323)

          It's ugly, and the fine Ghostery [ghostery.com] extension tells me that Atlantic page has 15 web bugs and ad trackers from AdThis, Bizo, Chartbeat, Disqus, Doubleclick, Facebook Connect, Facebook Social Plugins, Google +1, Google Analytics, Omniture, Outbrain, Parse.ly, Quantcast, Scorecard Research Beacon, and Twitter Button. Each one of those is another image and/or increasingly, another 10kB of JavaScript crap just so third parties can watch what I'm doing on that page.

          A Wikipedia page: not one.tracker or web bug. "You're beautiful to me on the inside."

    • by runeghost (2509522) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:42AM (#40647645)

      I agree. I've never had a negative thought about Wikipedia's look. I like the way it looks. It's clean, useable, and easy on the eyes. It doesn't need anything more. I'd even say it shouldn't add anything more. Clutter is the opposite of information. And the charge that it's difficult to edit is ridiculous.

      • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:56AM (#40647737)

        I agree. I've never had a negative thought about Wikipedia's look. I like the way it looks. It's clean, useable, and easy on the eyes. It doesn't need anything more. I'd even say it shouldn't add anything more. Clutter is the opposite of information. And the charge that it's difficult to edit is ridiculous.

        Sometimes, less is more.

        • by bankman (136859) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:56AM (#40648107) Homepage

          Sometimes, less is more.

          It sometimes appears that designers don't get this at all. Some of the least usable sites I have seen in the past couple of years were the desginers' own.

        • by Phrogman (80473) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @10:03AM (#40648159) Homepage

          And often as not more is less. I can't count the number of beautifully designed artistically creative website designs I have seen - which violate all the rules for design and layout and conveying information ever devised, and have zero content worth actually reading - but *my* its pretty. In many ways a lot of modern websites are a triumph of form over function and not much else.
          Wikipedia has a simple layout that works quite well, it is consistent and I think quite easy to read generally. If it takes learning a slightly specialized markup language to encode the data - well then thats a small barrier to entry that might encourage only those who can be bothered to learn how to edit the pages to actually edit the pages.
          If editors were let loose with a wysiwyg editor then Wikipedia entries would be a chaos of inconsistent layout and display and effectively unreadable, in very short order.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @10:11AM (#40648199) Homepage Journal

        I wasn't even particularly aware of the design. Now to me, that means they're probably doing something right.

        But then I'm the kind of person who doesn't wear a beret or have tarpaulin grommets in my earlobes, so what do I know?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:47AM (#40647675)

      Decoration gets in the way of functionality. Wikipedia is probably over-decorated as it is, and adding what Garber wants would make it both slower and less accessible.

      In a nutshell, she's clueless on this topic.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:48AM (#40647679) Homepage

      If Wikipedia is ugly, what does that make Slashdot?

      By her measure we should all be running away screaming instead of reading useless comments like this one.

    • by eulernet (1132389) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:49AM (#40647687)

      Adding images will also increase the bandwidth costs.

      An encyclopedia is not a dating site !

    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:53AM (#40647725) Homepage Journal

      Most websites that look awesome have almost no content which is hidden on several pages with lots of ads in between. No thx like it simple.

      Exactly. I wouldn't even call it ugly; I'd call it utilitarian. That is a good thing for a tool used to search for knowledge. It also makes it much more readily available to minimalistic and text only browsers without much extra work on the part of the maintainers.

    • by KreAture (105311) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:12AM (#40647821)
      Don't forget functional.
      Today everything has to look like it has been released by apple or it's ugly.

      I cringe when I see all the resources and battery consumption that go into features like false reflections in metallic buttons on a friggin screen.

      I want a website that is designed for quick lookups to be just that, quick! And, it is!
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Most websites that look awesome have almost no content which is hidden on several pages with lots of ads in between. No thx like it simple.

      Yea, tell it! So damn fed up with overcoded, bloated, whizzy and utterly useless websites and pages. Megan can just cram this one. Geez.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Yup. I've had more trouble getting twitter to work in Chrome than I care to detail. I'll take standard html over AJAX any day. Sure, if you're building a fancy application I can see the value in AJAX, but to present content, forget it!

      If they wanted to build an AJAX WYSIWYG/M page editor for WP I could see the logic in that. However, the site layout is perfectly readable as it is right now...

  • by fleeped (1945926) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:27AM (#40647539)
    "There's one thing Wikipedia could learn from Facebook, which is less about attractiveness and more about user-friendliness. Facebook -- and Twitter, and Tumblr, and similar sites -- have built followings in part because of their exceedingly simple interfaces"

    Yes, but at what cost?
    • by syockit (1480393) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:35AM (#40647597)
      Intelligence barrier to entry.
      • by DrVxD (184537)

        Intelligence barrier to entry.

        Wikipedia has a lower limit; Facebook has as upper limit.

    • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:38AM (#40647609)

      At the cost of having everybody mediocre and below in there and loosing anybody smart.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        At the cost of having everybody mediocre and below in there and loosing anybody smart.
        So, will you be visiting the new spiced up Wikipedia then?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:45AM (#40647669)

      And unlike Facebook, Wikipedia's UI seems relatively stable and bug-free, and to me is easier to use. Wikipedia does a great job at presenting information without getting in the way. It's not flashy and doesn't need to be flashy, and can stand alone on the strength of its sheer usefulness without having to have a lot of useless eye candy. The markup they use isn't particularly difficult to work with either.

    • by adamchou (993073) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:15AM (#40647833)
      I'd beg to differ with that statement. How much simpler can you possibly get than what Wikipedia has? There are no drop down menus in obscure places you have to find. There aren't a bunch of different settings to look for. Functionality from one page to another is the always the same, unlike all the other aforementioned sites. Wikipedia is the epitome of simplicity. The writer is just delirious.
      • by tepples (727027)

        How much simpler can you possibly get than what Wikipedia has? There are no drop down menus in obscure places you have to find.

        You mean other than Special:SpecialPages?

        Functionality from one page to another is the always the same

        Special pages don't have talk pages. As a more common case, new users can't edit half the popular pages because they're permanently semi-protected due to persistent IP vandalism. Instead, they have to jump head-first into talk page politics with an {{edit semi-protected}} request.

    • by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:19AM (#40647855) Homepage Journal
      The big difference between Facebook and Wikipedia, is that Facebook is filled with people trying to be nice to you to spread posts about nothing, and Wikipedia is filled with people trying to be nasty to you to write articles about everything.
    • There's one thing Wikipedia could learn from Facebook...

      How to look like a MySpace profile, circa 2006? I'm looking at you, Timeline.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:28AM (#40647547)

    An appeal from slashdot.org - get some hot employees to pose for the photos

    • <flat affect>Apparently they did comparative studies that showed banners with JW received much higher click-throughs and donations than ones with other people.</flat affect>

  • by simplexion (1142447) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:28AM (#40647549)
    is all this is.
    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:26AM (#40647899) Homepage
      As a Wikipedia contributor and editor, I didn't find the article offensive so much as I thought "I really don't see where she gets that from".

      Had I never used Wikipedia, I'd probably expect it- going by her description- to look like something basic and ugly from 1997. I mean, "Geocities"? It's nothing like the stereotypical Geocities page (garish and tasteless decorations and backdrops).

      I must admit that I hardly ever think of Wikipedia's appearance- it doesn't look plain or boring to me, which would suggest it was underdesigned in the way she implies- it simply isn't a factor. That suggests that they got it right- it's nice and clean, and doesn't distract from the content, while not being gratuitously over-plain.

      No, it's not covered in Web-2.0 shading, and there isn't an excess of distracting widgets. In all honesty, I get the impression that the author is really criticising the lack of *cutesiness*, over-designed attempts to appear friendly with "helpful" candy.

      I'll definitely concede one point; editing is still too technical. I'm a geek, so I'm happy to directly edit markup, add templates with parameters, etc. However, I have thought quite often while doing this that it's almost certainly not friendly to average non-techie users. The visual editor is a step in the right direction, but it still probably needs more. I'm not talking about dumbing down things, simply saying that if something can reasonably be presented in a non-technical way without too much compromise, then the choice should be there.

      Of course, I'd probably rather just edit the markup directly, and I'd want *that* choice to remain too, if it was so wanted. :-)
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      is all this is.

      The disregard for mind-calming images!

      I think she's off her meds.

    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      Surely sir or madam, you cannot be correct.
      She clearly states "Here is an empirical truth about Wikipedia: Aesthetically, it is remarkably unattractive" and I'm sure she wouldn't make such a claim without some sort of double blind study that tests the assertion.

  • by Rob Riggs (6418) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:30AM (#40647559) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedia is beautiful! Besides, do you really want non-geeks editing an encyclopedia?
  • So ugly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:30AM (#40647561)
    This is so subjective. As an encyclopedia, I like Wikipedia as it is. Providing that much information, from so many fields, in a homogeneous and pleasantly readable way, keep up the good work ... Of course some design enhancements may be welcome. But ugly? Definitely no.
  • by transporter_ii (986545) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:32AM (#40647571) Homepage

    If your site has good content, the people will come regardless. Much better than a really pretty site with crap content, in my opinion. Another example here is, craigslist. I can't stand to even load up craigslist. It looks so freaking awful, yet they have made a fortune off that 1995-html1.0-looking crap.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Craigslist has crap for functionality though. I understand wanting to keep things local although I completely disagree with it, but how hard can it be to do away with the assumption that everyone lives in one of their predetermined zones (or even close to it) and implement a radius search by zip code?

      As it is, it's completely useless to me as I straddle two areas and most listings are too far away. I've tried to buy on there with limited success and little convenience, selling is a excercise in frustratio

  • Functional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irishman (9604) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:33AM (#40647577)

    This is a complaint I have heard a lot in my programming career. In my own experience, most coders I have worked with are focused on functionality and simplicity; getting as much information out there in as straightforward a manner as possible. Often, this means "ugly" to non-CS people. Personally, I find Wikipedia easy to read and easy to navigate. Sure, it may not have graphics popping out everywhere or things dancing across the screen but when I hit WP, all I want is information.

    Now, could it be better? Possibly. It is easy enough to create a new skin for it and give it some zip but I doubt the team would ever make it a default. WP is meant to be accessed on any device, through any type of connection (although it does have some issues in that department).

    If I want lots of useless clutter, I will go to any number of large news organizations' websites.

    • Re:Functional (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:37AM (#40647605) Journal

      I guess anyone who thinks Wikipedia is ugly will also consider books ugly. Think of it: The typical book has a big, mostly uniform block of text surrounded by unprinted space except for a page number. Most books don't even have images (except on the cover).

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I do think it's important to distinguish between Joe Sixpack thinking something is ugly because it doesn't have dancing kittens and lots of colors and someone with knowledge of design and user interfaces saying something is ugly because it's needlessly complex and is confusing to anyone who hasn't memorized the entire 217-page manual (the UI manual that is, the actual back-end processing daemon obviously has its own 831-page manual with references to important 3rd party documentation explaining just what it

  • Ugly = subjective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:33AM (#40647579)

    Personally, I think it looks clean.

  • by eggstasy (458692) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:35AM (#40647591) Journal

    Go select one or upload your own CSS / Javascript:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-rendering [wikipedia.org]

  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:36AM (#40647599)

    Wikipedia is all function. It is efficient, loads fast, list information well. Improving aesthetics to the detriment of functionality is something seen far too often in the web and it is something done only by idiots. Of which there are many, unfortunately.

    Bottom line: Wikipedia is only for those seeking knowledge. All others, please go away, you are not welcome and your criticism is misdirected.

  • AJAX and scripts that bog down the server and make it inaccessible to chunks of the population. But it'll be prettier...

  • by snsh (968808) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:38AM (#40647613)

    30 years ago your typical young kid would say "Britannica is boring. Everyone should use only World Book encyclopedia and only World Book encyclopedia."

    Today a young kid might say you should only use About.com.

  • Wikipedia ugly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by khoonirobo (1316521) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:38AM (#40647615)

    From the full article :

    Here is an empirical truth about Wikipedia: Aesthetically, it is remarkably unattractive.

    How is that an empirical truth?

    Personally I find the site's design really suited to it's purpose. It's clean, no bright colours or extraneous graphics. The content even though dense is easy to read. It is as far as I'm concerned, perfect for the job it is intended to do.

    Now the article after making this broad unsubstantiated statement makes one and only one specific complaint. That editing wikipedia pages is too complex. I agree, it could possibly be easier but wiki markup is the best we have come up with so far. If you have suggestions on how to improve that. That is concrete steps that can make writing wiki pages easier, please share them, most of us are all agog.

  • Bizarro world (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dingen (958134) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:38AM (#40647619)

    if Wikipedia wants to make itself more attractive to users, a superficial makeover may be just the thing Wikipedia needs to begin growing in a more meaningful way.

    What? Because it looks pretty, people will start reading an encyclopedia? Are you nuts?

    First of all, last time I checked Wikipedia was in the top 10 of most visited websites on this planet. So they seem to be attracting users just fine. And obviously, the one and only thing that matters is the quality of their content. As long as Wikipedia continues to provide great information on basically any conceivable subject, a simple uncluttered layout to access that information is all they need.

    Now I get the impression (also by the screenshot) that the article is mainly talking about Wikipedia's homepage. There might be some room for improvement there, but seriously, who goes to Wikipedia to look at the homepage? It's all about the articles. And those pages simply look fine.

  • by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:41AM (#40647635) Homepage Journal

    Please dont dont try and 'fix it'. And by fix it I mean make it worse. Adding alot of visual cute feature that slow down download of page will only make it take longer to download. For all that pay per MB of download - its better the less frills the more information. Lets keep wikipedia as a place with a high signal to noice ratio (SNR).

    I love wikipedias simple and elegant design that puts the fokus on the information available on a page and with a high SNR. Please dont destroy it.

  • by Akardam (186995) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:41AM (#40647637)

    To paraphrase a favorite character of mine, "... I'm so sick of (article writers like this) I could vomit...".

    Wikipedia has at its core one basic job to do: convey information. Setting aside for the moment the questions of validity of content, sources, spats between editors, astroturfing, etc, the prime question is, how quickly and easily was one able to find what one was looking for and absorb it. This is a task at which I personally feel Wikipedia does a fine job. It is a simple, straightforward visual style that doesn't bolt on any extraneous flash (no pun intended) or style just for flash or style's sake.

    By the way, when the article author compares Wikipedia and Geocities visual style and finds similarities, I'm prompted to wonder where the author actually was when Geocities was in its heydey.

    As for the complaint about the complexities of editing on Wikipedia: Heaven forbid that when editing one of the great repositories of human knowledge, that the editors should take the time required to learn the skills necessary to do so... seriously, if Wikipedia ever "redesigns" itself to appeal anywhere near the lowest common denominator of the Facebook/Twitter/Myspace generation, I quit.

    • by macshit (157376) <miles@NOSPam.gnu.org> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:58AM (#40648117) Homepage

      By the way, when the article author compares Wikipedia and Geocities visual style and finds similarities, I'm prompted to wonder where the author actually was when Geocities was in its heydey.

      Indeed ... if anything, Wikipedia is the anti-Geocities: whereas Geocities was famous for its inconsistency, garish colors, and in many cases, almost complete unreadability, Wikipedia is very consistent and readable (well the form of the articles anyway, if not always the words). This is no easy feat, either, given the many editors and authors, but WIkipedia seems to have evolved reasonably good processes and conventions for moving articles towards consistency. [Geocities, of course, had pretty much zero overall structure or convention.]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:42AM (#40647641)

    Uh, no. The appearance is fine as it is. I think the goal of making it more user-friendly for people who may want to contribute edits is a good idea, but I see nothing wrong with plain, black text on a white background, and a simple grid-like presentation. It's simple, to the point, and not distracting. As far as I'm concerned, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are the ones that are ugly. I mean, sure, they aren't using Comic Sans, but I still think their interface is gaudy.

    For similar ugliness, take a look at the frames filled with fluff around the margins of the linked "The Atlantic" article. Gaudy and distracting with flashing ads, "subscribe now", "facebook" something-or-other, "newsletters", blah blah blah. There's so much crap on the right side of the article that it protrudes way down the page, beyond the bottom of the actual text, where you also find the standard navigation/credits baseplate far at the bottom (so far down that it's nearly useless). Oh, and look at that. If I enable JavaScript I also get a pop-up that renders on top of everything else and doesn't scroll.

    Clean up your own damn site. Then we'll talk about "ugly".

  • I think it's telling that both TFAs linked in the post are by women. Please keep the creeping feminisation of the media out of Wikipedia!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:44AM (#40647661)

    So Wikimedia needs to make a choice:

    -If they simplify the site to make it more accessible, they will probably build a larger, more diverse population of contributors, and will also probably move Wikipedia some distance down the spectrum from "academically valuable tertiary resource" towards "Youtube comments section".

    -Or they can keep it the way it is, with a relatively small community of dedicated contributors, which has allowed it to become one of the most valuable and extraordinary creations of the internet age.

    Personally I value excellence over political correctness, so I would take the second route.

  • Less is more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:45AM (#40647665)
    What's ugly about a site that at one blink of the eye shows you exactly what you need? A site that is meant to be informative. A site that loads like the wind blows!

    May the rapist web designers stay away from one of the jewels of the internet. Less bloat is more usability.
  • The website on which the original article is posted also has boxed layout, not-so mind-calming images, some fake popup, and all kinds of annoying mouse hover effects.

  • I consider myself a geek, but I want to edit and contribute when the tools are at least as easy as a wordpress blog. I tried to amend something once and it was a waste of my time. It's not intuitive at all.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:04AM (#40647781)
    Indeed, Facebook's UI is too complex and dense for its own good. Profiles that use the timeline are nearly impossible to navigate easily. On the other hand, I do like Wikipedia's simple UI. Simple does not mean useless.
    • Facebook is horrible. I find myself googling instructions for the simplest functionality. "Geeky" programming is simpler.

      • Facebook wants their UI to be difficult to navigate. The more time you spend trying to find what you're looking for, the more ads Facebook can present to you. The time you waste poking around the Facebook UI is actually a profit center for Facebook. Why would Facebook want to make it easier?
  • by markdavis (642305) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @09:11AM (#40647817)

    Add me to the droves of people also saying that Wikipedia is functional, not ugly. I am sick to death of stupid sites that have crap all over them and no content. Pop up s**t, f***ing animated junk on the sides, irritating mouse-overs, and countless other distractions and things to make the site non-functional and slow to load and use.

    And each year it is getting worse and worse with all the "web 2.0" so-called innovations. And unlike the past where you could block Flash, or limit Javascript, now we have pretty much no control anymore, other than just breaking the site completely. So PLEASE LEAVE WIKIPEDIA ALONE.

  • But then I categorize as 'geek' anyone with sufficiently deep and detailed knowledge of a subject that they can write intelligently on a topic. That includes charismatic lawyers.

  • by trifish (826353)

    one of its broad strategic goals is to expand its base of editors

    You must be joking. Several times in the past people tried to change the tagline shown below each article tag from "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" to "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit"

    And each time the attempt failed when some group of assholes with hidden agenda reverted or opposed the change. They actually do NOT want people to know everyone can edit it. That's the whole truth.

  • If I need information about something, I go to Wikipedia before I go to the "official" website. That tells you all you need to know. Wikipedia provides the information you want without a lot of cruft. Nothing ugly about that.

  • Thanks to you guys on slashdot, I learned that "monetize" does not mean what the author of TFA thinks. Wikipedia obviously isn't "monetizing" its patrons because the author is using the term incorrectly.

    Also, this is probably a revenue-per-click article, as the premise is that Wikipedia is somehow awful, but then lavishes praise throughout TFA. I hate that crap. I can't opt out of their crappy revenue generation mechanism until I've already generated revenue for them...bah!

  • I dont blame the author, my first reaction to the article was that the author *needed* something to write about that day. I use Wikipedia and I am pretty happy with the way it looks. My whole family uses it, probably because it's easy to use.
  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @10:57AM (#40648521)

    like it needs advertisement and a a CSR program....

    The kind of people who might want a more "wysiwig & feel good" content entry interface are exactly the kind of people who do not contribute to knowledge.

    There could certainly be improvement in some elements, for instance I'm sure a plugin to render some biological representation would find some friends.

    But ajax driven emoticon entries ? and maybe "like buttons" .... get lots, or even better go to craigslist and try to criticise them, the CEO reaction would probably be fun to see :-)
     

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @01:06PM (#40649501)
    "Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly?" presupposes that Wikipedia is ugly, and forces that notion on listener/reader. You can get away with posing a question in an article title, but not loading a question.

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas

Working...