Wikipedias största utmaning framöver

Efter allt som har hänt på Wikipedia, och alla planer som har tröskats fram och tillbaka, har wikipedianen David Gerard nu föreslagit vad han tycker skulle bli Wikipedias största utmaning framöver:

Our current markup is one of our biggest barriers to participation.
AIUI [As I understand it], edit rates are about half what they were in 2005, even as our fame has gone from ”popular” through ”famous” to ”part of the structure of the world.” I submit that this is not a good or healthy thing in any way and needs fixing.
People who can handle wikitext really just do not understand how offputting the computer guacamole is to people who can cope with text they can see.
We know this is a problem; WYSIWYG that works is something that’s been wanted here forever. There are various hideous technical nightmares in its way, that make this a big and hairy problem, of the sort where the hair has hair.
However, I submit that it’s important enough we need to attack it with actual resources anyway.
This is just one data point, where a Canadian government office got *EIGHT TIMES* the participation in their intranet wiki by putting in a (heavily locally patched) copy of FCKeditor:
”I have to disagree with you given my experience. In one government department where MediaWiki was installed we saw the active user base spike from about 1000 users to about 8000 users within a month of having enabled FCKeditor. FCKeditor definitely has it’s warts, but it very closely matches the experience non-technical people have gotten used to
while using Word or WordPerfect. Leveraging skills people already have cuts down on training costs and allows them to be productive almost immediately.”
– Attempting to solve it:
* The best brains around Wikipedia, MediaWiki and WMF have dashed their foreheads against this problem for at least the past five years and have got *nowhere*. Tim has a whole section in the SVN repository for ”new parser attempts”. Sheer brilliance isn’t going to solve this one.
* Tim doesn’t scale. Most of our other technical people don’t scale.
*We have no resources and still run on almost nothing*.
($14m might sound like enough money to run a popular website, but for comparison, I work as a sysadmin at a tiny, tiny publishing company with more money and staff just in our department than that to do *almost nothing* compared to what WMF achieves. WMF is an INCREDIBLY efficient organisation.)
– Other attempts:
* Starting from a clear field makes it ridiculously easy. The government example quoted above is one. Wikia wrote a good WYSIWYG that works really nicely on new wikis (I’m speaking here as an experienced wikitext user who happily fixes random typos on Wikia). Of course, I noted that we can’t start from a clear field – we have an existing body of wikitext.
This is a problem that would pay off hugely to solve, and that will take actual money thrown at it.

WYSIWYG, för den som inte vet det, står för ”What you see is what you get”. Words ordbehandlingsprogram gör till exempel att när du skriver ut dina dokument så ser de ut som de ser ut på skärmen. Wikipedia är inte WYSIWYG, eftersom man måste kunna lite lite wikikod. Till exempel sätter man dubbla hakparenser runt ett ord, [[så här]] för att göra en länk inom Wikipedia (länken hade då lett till sidan ”så här”).
Gerard föreslår att vi gör det här till nästa stora satsning. Som han skriver: ”[it’s] a project that will be difficult, expensive and pay off hugely”.
Förra året fick Wikimedia Foundation ett stipendium för att göra Wikipedia lättare att använda. Då fick WMF 890.000 dollar. I dagens pengavärde motsvarar det 6,2 miljoner kr. Men det projektet resulterade inte i något storartat. För att göra en sådan här sak, krävs mer pengar. Kanske uppåt 30 miljoner kronor.

Vem hjälper till med de resurserna? Svenska staten? Linköpings universitet? IKEA? Bonniers?
Om man tittar på hur mycket 30 miljoner kronor är, så är det en spottstyver i sådana här sammanhang. Det är vad en storfilm drar in på två dagar. Det är också vad ett enda spelarköp i en engelsk fotbollsligaklubb kostar. Andra siffror.

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