Good idea: but post it on-wiki?


On 03/07/2013, at 7:04 PM, G. White wrote:

> The team working on the VE needs this feedback and is asking for it. 
> Can we collate it and send it to them?
> On 3 July 2013 18:19, Adam Jenkins <> wrote:
> 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.
> Adam.
> On 3 July 2013 15:33, Kerry Raymond <> 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:
> 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.
> 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.
> 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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Tony Souter
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