back to article Wikipedians say no to Jimmy's 'buggy' WYSIWYG editor

Wikipedia editors are rejecting the online encyclopaedia's much-anticipated and hyped Visual Editor en masse. The expensive software project, funded by donations to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), is a WYSIWYG editor intended to make the open-source resource more accessible. Traditionally, editing Wiki requires a knowledge of …


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  1. hplasm

    "... a fabulous upgrade because suddenly I see things that I would have never seen..."

    Like facts?

  2. FartingHippo

    They'll get used to it

    Given the, erm, peculiar social skills, superiority complex, and all-round megalomania of elite wikifiddlers, it's no wonder they feel threatened by a WYSIWIG interface which will open up the wiki to more people. Sort of like uber-hackers getting all pissy about being lumped in with script kiddies.

    They'll just have to fall back on extensive knowledge of wiki's byzantine rules and policies, and misuse their admin privileges to maintain their 'status'.

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: They'll get used to it

      I'm in favour of the Visual Editor in principle; the principle being that people shouldn't be reliant on geek-biased tech skills to edit things in an advanced manner.

      The problem I anticipated was that WP uses a *lot* of templates and markup, and often in ways that might not occur to the writers of a visual editor. These will never all be usable via the GUI (*), so the next best thing is to hide them in a way that won't be broken by the visual editor. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that sounds easier than it would be, and I was willing to bet that things would get inadvertantly messed up via the (or rather "a") GUI editor.

      Lo and behold, when I tested it out, I managed to "accidentally" delete an anchor within a subsection heading (**). The anchor wasn't shown, but it was still there invisibly, and deleted with an extra click of the delete button. The unwary newbie certainly couldn't be blamed as he/she wouldn't even have seen the markup they'd accidentally deleted. That doesn't solve the problem, though.

      (*) Realistically, there's a lot of things that are never going to be doable through the visual editor, purely because there are way too many templates in use, and it'd take way more work to create a true GUI representation of each one than it was worth (way more time than the original template would take). One *could* have a popup for every unhandled template that showed the list of fields to be populated, but that's not really a true graphical representation, just the old text-centric way with GUI textboxes.

      (**) Used so that if the subsection heading changes, any links to that subsection don't break

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'll get used to it

      From what I've gathered there's no opposition to the idea of an easy to use editor; its that the implementation was crap.

      The visual editor was still throwing up errors and unexpected behaviour even as the Wikimedia lot were counting down to turning it on as the default.

      if you were at work and the IT department announced you were swapping over to a new system for the least experienced staff before testing was complete, you'd think them crazy.

    3. Levente Szileszky
      Thumb Up

      Re: They'll get used to it

      "They'll just have to fall back on extensive knowledge of wiki's byzantine rules and policies, and misuse their admin privileges to maintain their 'status'."

      Well put.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'll get used to it

      You aren't a member of Wikipedia Review are you? You sound awfully like one of those perpetually frustrated Wikifiddlers, all tearful because those nasty editors keep deleting their brain-damaged edits.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not the text editor thats the Wikipedia problem, it's the human editors barring valid contributions.

    I look at things I know about on Wikipedia and there's mistakes. If I try to mend the mistakes they get reverted for spurious reasons

    Why on earth would I use Wikipedia for things I don't know about?

    The method of contribution should be the least of Mr Wales worries, it's all going ODP

    1. BillG

      "human editors barring valid contributions."

      I see the same thing. Look, I work for a living and so I don't spend all my waking moments jealously guarding a Wikipedia article from edits. I try to make an edit and cite a website like Popular Science or Time. My edit gets reverted by some Wiki-wonk who then sends me a terse message warning me about the 3-revert rule. After a few reverts it's clear that somehow this rule doesn't apply to him.

      I think The Reg did an article on the Wikipedia Contradiction - if you are an expert in your field you don't have the time to furiously edit an article from changes. And if you have nothing better to do than spend all day editing Wikipedia articles then you are not an expert in your field.

      As the article states that they are trying to arrest a long-term decline in active editors, it's the most active editors that are causing the decline.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: "human editors barring valid contributions."

        One thing that I have learnt is to never to offer any corrections nor additional facts to any of the following:

        1. Western based theology

        2. Any wars which the US may or may not have actually been involved in.

        I don't think that I need to explain why.

        1. BillG

          Re: "human editors barring valid contributions."

          I have learnt is to never to offer any corrections nor change articles about any of the following:

          1. Articles pushing man-made Global Warming

          2. Articles that present Obama as an infallible deity

          Daring to disagree with any of those positions by offering facts is dangerous.

    2. MCG

      I too correct mistakes on Wikipedia without being reverted all the time. Possibly because I use references and I aren't grinding any axes or pushing crank theories. YMMV

  4. Robert E A Harvey

    does not work

    >It's so slow and buggy, in fact, that editors have

    >voted not to use it.

    Even worse, it has huge chunks missing. The editing of citation templates etc. is missing, and most wikinazi editors get apoplectic if you do them even slightly wrong.

    I know one editor who spends his whole life taking out spaces before | delimiters. He must be going Vesuvius by now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: does not work

      Citation with the new system is staggeringly bad. I really don't get why-the old cite web/cite book forms were actually very user-friendly indeed, and could easily have been reimplemented in the new system without confusing anyone.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    What did you expect?

    Let them go back to TECO, or better yet, Word. Let's face it, people like what they are familiar with and if they have to learn a new editor then it's simply not worth it.

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Seriously, they can't make a simple visual editor? It's 2013 for goodness' sake.

  7. sisk


    Given how little you actually need for Wikipedia, why do they not just use CK Editor, perhaps with some minimal customizations. I'm not a Wikipedian, so I may be off base, but CK Editor is wonderful for in place editing of blogs and forums and such. It could do the same for Wikipedia I would think.

    Plus it's been around for ages, is a mature and has been pretty well debugged over the years, and it's open source. Why reinvent the wheel? Just use what's out there.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When has WYSIWYG ever been a good idea for clean, minimal markup? Some of the shite DreamWeaver used to spit out was spectacularly bad.

    1. sisk

      Dreamweaver? Heh, you were lucky. I had Frontpage foisted on me. At least Dreamweaver TRIED to do standards.

  9. HCV

    I'm a frequent editor, but I don't think of myself as being part of the WP inner, middle or even recognized outer circle.

    ...and I find the new editor to be pretty awful. First of all, my editing is necessarily of the "get in, get out and move on" style; it's usually because I see something in an article I came to read, and it hurts my eyes. The new editor is slow than sin to fire up.

    Second, anyone who edits WP regularly knows what's behind the skin, and I think it would scare us all to death to trust the fragile thing that is the markup to a visual editor of recent origin.

    I suspect new/infrequent editors might like it better than having to learn the markup, though.

    Here's one thing that made me laugh: if you go to your preferences to turn it off, you'll see that the option isn't something like "use the old editor" -- it's "temporarily disable VE during beta." You LIKE scented air! It's fresh and invigorating! Please stand by while we make it even MORE wonderful! In time, you will learn to love me!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the visual editor should be available all users for simple stuff like minor text edits-that's faster on the visual editor if you have a modern PC, since no need to find the text you want to change inside the markup language console. For adding a lot of links, the old format is often faster since you can add them in typing, but if you can't remember exactly what the article you want to link to is called, the new way with its search function is more intuitive-you don't need to open another tab to check what exactly the article you want to link to is called. Pretty much standard text editor/GUI swings and roundabouts-they haven't reinvented the wheel.

      As you say, letting people make major changes in the visual editor would be a disaster, though I'm convinced that it is the future, especially to get participation from people who don't really grok markup languages.

  10. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton

    Ahhh Wikipedia

    So several months back I was watching something about Aloha Airlines Flight 243 and wanted to read a little more about it so I decided to risk Wiki as I didn't feel like looking at hastily scrabbled together pages on the net about it and wasn't all that concerned about the full details just certain things. Anyway the page I was looking at was missing correct capitalization, punctuation, spelling and common sense. It was so bad I really wish I had kept a copy of it somewhere for laughs, anyway I wasn't about to edit it but this page was so bad that I actually registered for an account so that I could mention it on the talk page about the article that someone REALLY needed to look it over. A day later I was banned for edit warring.

    All I could say in my defense for the appeal on the ban (it irked me to be banned for something which I never did) was that which I just said about here on why I registered, that I had never edited anything and that if they wanted to ban me for doing that they could all kiss my ass (yes those words). Surprisingly I got an apology the next day and the ban lifted not that I really give that much of a shit but its the principle of the matter. My belief is fuck'em. Let them bitch and moan maybe in the end it will help with the inaccuracies.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: Ahhh Wikipedia

      It was so bad I really wish I had kept a copy of it somewhere for laughs,

      If you can figure out the time and date you viewed it, Wikipedia has kept a copy for you.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baby Steps

    It's not great, honestly. feels like the future. It really does. It's more user-friendly and simpler for novices in general (though the citation system is a piece of garbage). I think it will make it less complicated to use Wikipedia in the end, but no lie, it's a beta product right now. I use it for simple edits normally, but for complex ones I go back to markup.

    (I'm a registered wikipedia user but have no engagement with the Wikipedia community on anything, so I don't have a stake in this.)

  12. amanfromsaturn

    "I look at things I know about on Wikipedia and there's mistakes. If I try to mend the mistakes they get reverted for spurious reasons"

    Couldn't agree more. Added legitimate facts and resources to numerous articles only to get told that links are nofollow, don't influence SE rankings etc and to stop trying!

    Idiots! I'm citing verifiable facts on gov sites and the like.

    Methinks some people need to get laid.

  13. Gregory Kohs

    Jimmy Wales = socialite

    Orlowski has finally nailed down an accurate title for Jimmy Wales. He's not an entrepreneur. He's not a technologist. He's not even really a "former currency trader". He is a SOCIALITE. He is fond of social activity and attention, and not much else. It is the perfect label.

  14. rcorrect
    Thumb Up

    WYSIWYG editor

    The new way to vandalize Wikipedi. You won't even know why you got banned!

  15. Anonymous Coward


    I thought that was a kids tv show from my youth?

  16. John Lilburne

    Lets all remind ourselves that wikipedia is so short of money it has steal photos from children:

  17. Kevin Fields
    Paris Hilton

    Opt-out? Huh?

    Unless things are just different from me, I get two options: "Visual Editor" and "Edit Source". If I choose the latter, I see the raw wiki markup language.

  18. Tadz
    Thumb Down

    Horrible editor -- and why contributing has declined

    I ran into it not long ago when I went to correct a broken link in an article. I couldn't figure out how to use it and this is the kind of thing I do for a living. It really is the worst WYSIWYG editor I've ever encountered. Knowing they dropped a bundle into making it is...very discouraging.

    The reason Wikipedia is having a "long-term decline in active editors" is due to the fact that there are *far* more people out there policing others' work than there are people being productive. It's a lot easier to shred what others do and consider yourself an important contributor than it is to put time into doing things which others will tear apart. I'm not talking about unsupported or poor quality content or images which stretch the limits of "fair use" (or vandalized content). "Uncontributing" can be stunningly egregious: an example, taking someone else's image, cropping it, deleting the original and uploading the "new" image as their own. I'm not even starting in on what happens if you don't agree with what's been done.

    It takes very little time to challenge what others have done and fast track the content out of existence; it's onerous and extremely time consuming trying to prevent contested material from being eliminated (and forget attempting to correct a situation like the highjacked image scenario described earlier).

    I was very excited about Wikipedia initially and invested a lot of time in contributing in positive ways. Now at most I'll correct poor English, remove broken links or clean up poorly formatted details (references, etc.). It just got too exhausting doing more, and when it's clear the people spending the most time are doing so by wiping out others' work, honestly, it's pointless.

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