I've been curious about it, but hadn't tried it before now. I kind-of wish
I hadn't. I took a basic article and tried to do a couple of things that a
typical new editor would try.

First, I tried adding a reference to a web page for an unsourced claim.
This is particularly important to me, as I was rewriting my "how to edit
Wikipedia" materials to trim it back to five rules, one of which was to
"reference everything". So, looking at the VE, it isn't obvious to a new
editor which button is for adding a reference. All of them use icons rather
than words, so only a mouseover could help. One proved to be "insert
reference", so I clicked on that. (There is also "References list", but
that is for another job). Clicking it brings up a search box saying "what
do you want to reference". I wanted to reference this article, so that was
a bit odd. Then I thought it might have meant what kind of thing I wanted
to reference, so I added "web page" and pressed return. Nothing happened.
So I added a url and clicked pressed return. Still nothing. I tried
pressing "Insert reference". Nothing. So I clicked on "create new source",
which doesn't make a lot of sense, as the source was already online, and
that let me click on "insert reference". Yay!

Except that it didn't insert the reference. Instead it brought up a new
editing window that had something called "use this group" below a box
called "reference content" with some basic buttons and my url. One of the
buttons was "transclusion", so I thought it might bring up some referencing
options, but it didn't. Instead it opened a new window that made no sense
at all. It seems I'm expected to both know how to format a reference and do
it myself, with no hints, instructions, or any form of assistance. Anyway,
I got that to work,  but there was no warning or hint that it wouldn't
appear due to the lack of a references list at the end. Until. of course, I
saved it, and was presented with a red message saying "Cite error: There
are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a
{{reflist}} template", none of which makes any sense in terms of the VE,
which neither shows ref tags nor reflist templates as options.

I tried to fix this by clicking on "edit" again, but this came up with a
warning saying that I was editing an old revision of the page. I was
surprised, because I didn't think anyone would have had time to make any
changes, so I checked the history. No, mine was the most recent edit. It
seems that the warning appears if I try to edit twice without physically
clicking on the reload button in my browser. Anyway, after doing that I
fixed it by going to the bottom of the page and clicking on "References
list", which opened a new window with a "use this group" option - something
rarely used on articles that would make no sense to new editors. But
clicking on "Apply changes" made it work.

For the second job I thought I'd tidy up an existing image that was
incorrectly formatted.  My first thought was to add an infobox. That was an
absolutely lost cause - there was no way in the VE that I could see that
would do this, unless it was something to do with the weird "Transclusion"
button the made no sense at all when I clicked on it. So I selected the
image and clicked on "media". This opened a new window showing the photo
and a search box, with the subject's name in it and one photo. So I clicked
on the photo and it made the old one disappear and the new one appear in
the right spot. Except a) it wasn't the picture that was already there, b)
the caption didn't go with it, and the only way to add a caption was to
click on it again once it was there, and c) there was no option to add alt
or descriptive text for people with disabilities. The original picture
didn't even appear as an option, possibly because it had been uploaded to
Wikipedia rather than Commons.

These weren't hard tasks. But not being able to easily reference is a deal
killer for me. The problem with the "editing an old revision" notice was
serious, especially for a new user, as was the lack of image tags is a
major issue for accessibility. This is a surprise - it would have taken
only a little bit of work with new user focus groups to have worked out
that this wasn't ready to go live.

So, summary:

* Most of the options only make sense for experienced editors. But it is
lacking core functions that experienced editors need, so they'll be
sticking with the source option.
* New users are faced with options that make no sense, no assistance (even
though there is a lot of room to add help), and a poor method of adding
references, increasing the likelihood of their work being reverted.
* It is buggy, with that "editing an old version" message very confusing,
and problems showing up after adding an image that I didn't cover.
* Images were added at a non-standard size, without prompts for captions or
a means of adding alt text.

I honestly don't understand why this is live.


On 3 July 2013 15:33, Kerry Raymond <kerry.raym...@gmail.com> wrote:

>  For those of you who have taken the Visual Editor for a test drive, what
> did you think?****
> ** **
> We have seen Gnangarra’s thoughts already and so I thought I’d share mine.
> ****
> ** **
> To start, I should say that I sincerely believe that having a visual
> editor should make editing Wikipedia much more accessible to those folk who
> are used to Microsoft Word etc and not accustomed to seeing markup. I am
> all in favour of this initiative. I have worked for many years using
> WYSIWYG tools like Word (so-so) and FrameMaker (much better) and SeaMonkey
> (beats raw HTML any day), so I don’t come into this discussion with a
> mindset that “markup = good”, quite the opposite. As they say in The
> Matrix, “why send a man to do a machine’s job?”.****
> ** **
> However, in its current state, I don’t think the VisualEditor (VE)
> achieves its goal. There’s a few reasons:****
> ** **
>    1. It doesn’t run on Internet Explorer, which is the out-of-the-box
>    browser when you have a Windows PC. The less tech-savvy a person is, the
>    more likely I think they are to have a Windows PC with IE. So, the very
>    people being targeted with the VE probably can’t use it because they have
>    the wrong browser.****
> ** **
>    1. The functionality of the VE seems very limited. Yes, I can type
>    text. Yes, I make text bold/italic. Yes, I can make a heading. Yes I can
>    make a link if the name of the link will suffice as the text, e.g. [[dog]]
>    but not if I want [[dog|puppy]]. Or, at least, I could not work out how to
>    do it. Although the toolbar seems to suggest there is a way of working with
>    images, references and transclusions, I failed to be able to do anything at
>    all with them. Now, it may be that I am too conditioned by the existing
>    editor to be able to think in the new paradigm of the VE; perhaps what
>    should be done will be obvious to the less-conditioned newbie editor.
>    Although I am a bit uncertain that the newbie will know what “transclusion”
>    means; indeed I think if they do know what it means, then they would
>    already be familiar with markup.****
> ** **
>    1. The VE cannot always be used. If you try to change the content of
>    an article with the VE, you will often get green-diagonal-stripes appearing
>    across the chunk you are trying to edit with a message that the Visual
>    Editor cannot edit that sort of material. You have to switch into Edit
>    Source (aka the existing markup editor) to work with it. ****
> ** **
> I can see that if a newbie comes along (with the right brand of browser)
> and clicks Edit for the first time because they’ve seen a spelling error or
> want to add an extra sentence, then the VE should work for them, unless of
> course they want to do it in a photo caption or inside a table or …. But,
> as it stands, there is no real growth path for them to develop their
> editing skills beyond such very simple changes. They either have to stay
> locked into a world of very limited functionality or they have to click
> Edit Source for the first time and deal with markup for the first time. I
> guess the question that only time will be able to answer is whether the
> transition to the markup editor is made in any way easier by the initial VE
> experience as opposed to the previous situation where you were dropped
> straight into editing markup. However, for even a mildly experienced editor
> (and I certainly don’t rate myself as any kind of expert editor), I cannot
> see what benefit the VE gives you. All of things you can do with the VE
> appear to be just as easily achievable with the toolbar in the existing
> editor – the difference is that you can see the markup produced in the
> existing editor but not in the VE. I cannot see a reason an existing editor
> would shift to the VE; the loss of functionality would frustrate you very
> quickly.****
> ** **
> Now it’s a fair thing to say “hey, the VE has just been released – it will
> be further developed and greater functionality will be available through
> it”. This is indeed true, but I can’t see the VE ever developing to the
> point where we can throw away the markup editor. Part of the challenge
> (perhaps “most of the challenge”) of further extending  the VE is that
> Wikipedia markup and its templates etc have grown like topsy. There is a
> lot of ad-hoc-ery and not a lot of coherence to many existing features. I
> don’t know if there is any easy answer to providing a “simple visual” tool
> for working with templates and other exotic features. The task of building
> the VE would have been made easier if they could have first removed some
> existing features out of the current editor and then out of the articles
> that used them, but no doubt there would have been howls of outrage if that
> had occurred. If the goal is an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor, then I think
> some existing functionality will have to be discarded or revised to achieve
> it.****
> ** **
> How are other people finding the Visual Editor?****
> ** **
> Kerry****
> ** **
> ** **
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