Summary: Sidebar is difficult to customize for the average user
           Product: MediaWiki
           Version: unspecified
          Platform: All
        OS/Version: All
            Status: NEW
          Severity: enhancement
          Priority: Normal
         Component: General/Unknown

>From my personal experience, I have noticed that it's often not possible for
some regular user not that experienced with MediaWiki to really customize the
sidebar to their wishes. By default, the syntax consists of headings that are
MediaWiki message keys and if they don't exist, they're used as plain text. The
lists then continue with link-similar syntax (just without the brackets) where
one is a MediaWiki message with the page name and the other a MediaWiki message
with the link text. If some of the message keys don't exist, then the plain
text is used as link anchor or link title. If you want to set a tooltip or
accesskey for the links, then you're required to create the "tooltip-*" or
"accesskey-*" messages. The left part of the pipe will also be used as HTML id
attribute. In the end, some capitalized things like SEARCH, TOOLBOX and
LANGUAGES come, that are defined by the MediaWiki software. (At least, that's
how I understood it, correct me if I'm wrong)

Whereas this probably works for power users or wikis like en.wikipedia where
there are definitely people who get it how it works, I think that this is too
complex for the casual user, especially considering that there seems to be no
documentation for it. What I would have in mind as a solution would be a GUI,
probably on something like Special:Sidebar (of course only accessible for
admins), where there are input fields where you write the values for link
anchor, link text, tooltip, accesskey and checkboxes to use a MediaWiki message
instead of plain text, so that wikis like Commons can still have localizable
sidebars and for backwards compability with older versions.

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