Discussions/Rethinking the layout of Wikipedia articles

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy

The Discussion Room is a space for open and facilitated discussions at Wikimania. Participation of the audience in the session is critical, because there are no speakers, and there is no expert panel!

You can find a full overview of the discussion topics on the Discussion Room main page. Please note: there is limited seating available, and we're not saving any seats! Please be on time, but feel free to join during the midway break between two discussions.

Practical facts

Designing the future II: Rethinking the layout of Wikipedia articles
Date & Time
Saturday 25 June, 10:30–11:15
gnom (Room 30) / Ter-burg (Room 12)
Primary School


The Discussion Rooms host discussions with a specific style:

  • Discussions of 40 minutes each;
  • Clearly defined topic for each discussion, related to Wikimedia;
  • Aiming to reach pre-defined goals during the discussion;
  • Discussions take place in English;
  • Discussions are moderated by a facilitator;
  • There is no audience as everybody is expected to participate in discussions, and everybody is audience;
  • Key lessons and points are documented live on etherpad, and may be processed later;
  • Each discussion will come with a single recommendation of maximum 120 characters.

Each discussion targets specifically online Wikimedia projects, it lasts 40 minutes and it starts with a short 2-3 minutes introduction.

To set the tone of our discussions, we have three rules:

  • Focus on YOU. We are interested in discussing and triggering individual action, things people can personally do and change to improve our Wikimedia projects and movement. We trust the discussion can be much more interesting if we do not focus on what others should do ("the others", Wikimedia chapters and Wikimedia Foundation).
  • Be constructive and polite. Disagreements animate discussions and they can allow us to unfold all issues related to a topic. Let's avoid personal attacks, let's consider that we have different backgrounds and let's aim at making everybody comfortable in sharing their legitimate point of view.
  • Be short and on topic. Let's create space for everyone to express his/her opinion.


It's no secret that our wonderful encyclopedia doesn't look particularly beautiful on the screen. When articles are printed out, it is even less so. When viewed on a phone, sometimes things look truly terrible – and sometimes important information is unreadable.

Traditional encyclopedias (and paper publications) have a number of tools allowing designers to tune the appearance of articles. Our options in Mediawiki are quite meager in comparison.

In this discussion we invite designers to weigh in on what it would take to make Wikipedia (and the other Wikimedia projects) truly beautiful. One important aspect may be better semantic tagging of article content – which image is the lead image, which section is this figure associated with, what could be pulled into a sidebar, what are the key columns of this table. What other information is missing from our markup?

Can articles have different "layout designs"? If so, how many do we need? What are the different categories of media presentation? Can articles have sidebars? What other layout features from the print work could we consider?

Preparatory readings or materials
  • Some examples of alternative designs to consider:
  • The way Italian Wikipedia designs articles using existing tools
    1. en:Wikiwand
    2. mw:Winter
  • Some examples of how images are used in our existing articles, collected by @violetto: mw:Wikimedia_User_Interface/Use_cases/Images
  • T112991 contains a technical discussion which was started at the Wikimedia Developer Summit. However, this discussion is intended to be *non*technical, involve folks not in the developer community, and concentrate less on wikitext syntax and more on the big picture.

This discussion is based on the submission Beautiful articles, beautiful layout.

Interested attendees

Pinging Cscott.