Please include a summary of the discussion, any recommendations or requests that the group had, and any resources the group noted regarding the topic.
If wikis are going to be a socially transformative technology, then they need to be designed so that everyone can use them. Right now, MediaWiki is a very powerful tool, but it's powerful like the cockpit of a plane -- there are tons of controls, and you need to have special training and experience to feel comfortable using it.
Wikia is working on a Wysiwyg editing experience, to help new contributors learn how to edit a wiki -- giving them a basic editing view first before they have to worry about templates or code. Wikia is using a modified version of the FCK engine.
You can see the current version on the Twilight wiki -- check out http://twilight.wikia.com/wiki/Bella_Swan as an example. When you click edit, you see (more or less) like the actual page -- no wiki code, just text and images.
Formatting is done through the buttons at the top of the edit window -- bold, italics, headings, links, adding pictures and videos.
The templates are represented in gray to show that they're there, but they don't get in the way of people who want to just edit text. Form-based templates like infoboxes can still be edited from the Wysiwyg page -- in the Bella Swan example, you can hover over the "Vampire infobox" tag to see how the infobox looks, and if you click on that tag, it opens a pop-up window that allows you to edit the text in the box.
Experienced editors who want to see the wiki code can click the "source" button at the top of the window; this opens the typical MediaWiki edit window.
There are a lot of pieces that are still in process. One important one is allowing experienced editors to use the keyboard shortcuts that they're familiar with, like using brackets for links and equal signs to create headings. In the current version, using that formatting in the Wysiwyg view just adds that as text. This has been frustrating for editors who expect phrases in brackets to turn into links. New revisions are being released every couple of weeks.
Other pieces that are coming -- a larger editing space, a new header with clearer controls, and a new way to add/edit categories.
Right now, the Wysiwyg editor is enabled on a few established wikis as a test, and it's also being used as the default for all newly-created wikis. It's still new, so there aren't any clear results yet for how well it's working.
The session started with a demonstration of Wikia's Wysiwyg engine, and people played around with it for a while.
JackHerrick and Chris Hadley talked about some similar projects that WikiHow is working on to make the editing experience easier -- including a new Add categories feature, New article boost, and a Video curation feature.
The session ended with Jack, Chris and Danny poking around on each other's websites as everybody else got bored and drifted away. In other words: The perfect session.
If folks have any questions about Wikia's Wysiwyg project, or any of the other stuff that we're working on, feel free to write to Danny: Danny@wikia-inc.com. Power to the wikis and peace to all people. See also related research paper help.
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