Discussions/Submissions/Half of our readers are mobile now. What does this mean for editing Wikipedia?

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Half of our readers are mobile now. What does this mean for editing Wikipedia?

  • Title: Half of our readers are mobile now. What does this mean for editing Wikipedia?
  • Proposed by: Tilman Bayer (analyst in the WMF Reading team and longtime editor) and Jon Katz (product manager in the WMF Reading team)
  • Description: December 20, 2015 was the first ever day when mobile pageviews surpassed desktop pageviews on Wikimedia sites, highlighting a trend that has been going on for several years both on Wikipedia and on the rest of the internet.
    What does this development mean for editors? What are common issues that occur when Wikipedia articles that were written on desktop are being read on mobile devices? How can editors mitigate them? What should software developers do to adapt Wikipedia content for the needs of mobile readers while preserving the intentions of those who wrote it?
  • Purpose:
    • Provide an opportunity for editors to learn more about this development and share their own observations
    • Identify mobile-specific problems and solutions that editors and developers can work on
    • Provide an opportunity for developers and members of the WMF Reading team to learn from experienced editors who are familiar with the wide variety of existing content

Questions and Comments 30

  • Hi Tilman and Jon, thank you for your proposal. I think this is a very important topic, but your description sounds like a presentation and not like a discussion. Can you fix this? Also, will there be other talks regarding mobile reading and editing at this Wikimania? Thanks, --Gnom (talk) 12:23, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Agreed with Gnom. If we want this to be an effective discussion, it should focus on a question that should and could be answered by the community at large. Some discussion about mobile seems relevant, but it would require drastic rewriting I suspect from this particular proposal. What is a main question you would like to get community input on? And even better, that the community wants to discuss? Maybe we should take the focus off the technical aspect, and off the WMF - and more on the community aspects? Not sure what direction that would pull us in eventually, but I'm sure we can come up with something! Effeietsanders (talk) 20:17, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
Hi Gnom and Effeietsanders, to your points:
  • "sounds like a presentation and not like a discussion": I assume this referred to the parts of the proposal that said "We will highlight common issues ..." and "we will present some data and examples ...". That was not at all meant to be a full presentation. (BTW I myself will already have enough to do with preparing two other slide decks for talks that I'm presenting/co-presenting at this Wikimania ;) Rather, this aimed at a short introduction, of 5 minutes or less, that would have served to focus the discussion and establish some common ground - also considering that, realistically, not all participants will have had time to read the suggested preparatory material. It is quite similar to what Anthere suggested to be added in the case another discussion proposal above ("a very quick review of facts and figures"). I guess we were not entirely clear on the overlap between proposers, facilitators and relevant experts. In any case, we are happy to defer to your input on this and plan the discussion without such an introduction. I have just edited the submission to reflect this change.
  • "will there be other talks regarding mobile reading and editing at this Wikimania?": No, not to my knowledge. (BTW, in general, it seems to me that the compared to previous Wikimanias, the schedule contains very few talks about reader and editor interface topics.) Concerning discussions, there is one other proposal above by our much esteemed WMF colleague CScott (a software engineer in the Parsing team, not the Reading department), who is putting forward new ideas for semantic tagging and a reformed layout structure, which if implemented would have an impact on the questions discussed here too. But that discussion proposal focuses on a very different audience (designers, rather than everyday editors). Also, our submission is not about proposing and getting feedback on a future vision for a new content model, but about exploring the present reality on the mobile web version of Wikimedia sites and in the Android and iOS apps, and the practical issues that the changes of the last few years have brought for routine editing. So these two proposals are quite orthogonal. Lastly, mobile editing - i.e. editing on a mobile device, as opposed to editing with readers on mobile devices in mind - is a different topic which is not called out in this submission.
  • "What is a main question you would like to get community input on?" - First, this is not meant to be a consultation of "the community" by the WMF on a particular project planned by the WMF, but rather a multidirectional exchange of people with different perspectives and expertises. (Jon and I will bring familiarity with readership data and many of the software decisions that shape the current mobile platforms, for example.) I expect it to have similiarities with this open-ended discussion that Andrew - independently - started on Facebook earlier this month. The main question is stated in the title, and the four sub-questions listed in the description should serve to generate participant input that is useful for some or all of the three stated purposes.
  • " And even better, that the community wants to discuss?" - It's your job as committee to decide whether this discussion topic is of enough interest to the community. But I'm quite confident that it is. See also the lively community participation in the aforementioned Facebook discussion, or this recent editing contest on enwiki that explicitly referred to the changing mobile realities as a motivation.
  • "take the focus off the technical aspect" - Effeitsanders, can you explain what you mean by that? At the root, the difference between mobile and desktop is a technical one, so I'm not sure how far we will get by ignoring it. If you instead meant the input on software development (the last of the four sub-questions), that something that is bound to come up naturally when discussion the other questions.
  • "and off the WMF" - I don't see an exclusive focus on WMF (and have slightly edited the description to clarify that software development comes from outside WMF too).
One other thing: While we can plan this discussion without introductory slides, it might still be useful if the facilitator has access to a laptop attached to a projector, to quickly pull up examples that participants want to discuss and show to the group (see e.g. the many links posted in that FB discussion).
Regards, Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 21:10, 26 April 2016 (UTC)


  • I like the topic suggestion very much - especially if we look at this issue in a broader sense. Does it have to be always text as a medium / format? Or could it be video (particularly short animated explainer videos which provide a quick overview over complex topics) that has become a popular format for the dissemination of information. I believe such videos can enrich existing content and provide an entertaining and easily comprehensible access to free knowledge. It became easier today to create video content - especially thanks to software allowing you (half-)automatically create videos from the text. (e.g. mysimplpeshow) I'm looking forward to discuss it at Wikimania. Norma.jean (talk) 13:42, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
  • Like it as well Anthere (talk)
  • Hi @Tbayer (WMF), Jkatz (WMF): congratulations! Your proposal has been accepted by the Discussion Room committee as the main basis for one of the Discussion Room sessions that will be centered on the transition to mobile editing, Going mobile and keeping editing: needs and challenges to edit Wikipedia from mobile devices. It is tentatively scheduled for Saturday 11.15-11.55, 25 June 2016, but that is subject to change. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there's anything our team can do to assist you with preparations for this discussion. Please be bold and include further reading materials if you want! I look forward to meeting you at Wikimania; safe travels! Galio (talk) 15:28, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
@Galio: Awesome! One concern about scheduling: Jon is now also going to give a user digest presentation about a very similar topic ("Mobile, adaptability, visibility", 14.30 on Sunday), and it would be extremely beneficial if this discussion could happen afterwards, so that the audience of the digest presentation has an opportunity to participate actively in it. Is it an option to schedule the discussion at 15:00 on Sunday? In case that is too tight, perhaps the digest could be rescheduled too.
Another question: As mentioned above, it would be great if the facilitator has access to a laptop attached to a projector, to quickly pull up examples that participants want to discuss and show to the group. Will this be possible at the venue?
Regards, Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 03:36, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
PS: According to Ginevra, we may be able to move the digest presentation to 14:00 instead of 14:30 on Sunday. Would that help? Regards, Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 20:47, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
Hi Tilman. Please excuse my delay in replying —we were dealing with the final schedule and I wanted to have a clear answer before getting back to you. Unfortunately the sessions are very densely packed and we have still to figure the definitive placement of the Board Q&A and some help we expect to get from Jimmy, so it would be very difficult right now to move this discussion to Sunday afternoon. Regarding your other question, last year we did use projectors for the Discussion Room sessions, mainly for projecting the live notes but also in case some participant wanted to show an example. I know the local team is still working on the rooms where we'll host these sessions, but in any case our idea is to have it. Regards, Galio (talk) 03:06, 8 June 2016 (UTC)