--- Comment #8 from Tisza Gergő <> ---
What the rest of the web seems to be doing, though, based on your research, is
not having deep links for images at all, with the exception of Flickr and Bing,
where images are the only type of content so it makes more sense to center
navigation around them.

More importantly, I think Wikipedia is different from most other websites in
how much need there is for the history when navigating. Websites like Facebook
or Flickr or EBay present you with some sort of top-down hierarchy (categories,
friends and their event feeds etc), and the actual content isn't really
involved in the navigation, apart from providing some prev/next option. In
Wikipedia, the content itself is the navigation system [1], so an image history
gets much more in the way.

(That is my impression, anyway; it would be nice to get less subjective data,
like user tests, but I wouldn't rely on best practices from other sites too
much in issues concerning navigation, their structure is just too different.
E-commerce sites might be a step closer in that search is the primary means of
finding comment, but still not quite the same.)

Also, some wikis have large image galleries at the end of their articles.
MediaViewer could actually make that practice more common, because the user
experience of looking through a gallery is pretty horrible now (you either look
at the images in something like 100x150px, or load every single one on a
separate page, which still looks like crap), but with MV it would become quite
nice. Obstructing the navigation gets in the way of that.

All that said, I agree that reopening the lightbox via back button is an
important use case (although that's partially because the viewer is a bit too
eager to exit). Also, nuking the history doesn't seem that easy to implement,
given that the History API does not provide a way to learn whether stepping
back would navigate you away from the current page or not (not to mention the
horrible IE fallback which has a completely different logic).

[1] obligatory XKCD comic:

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