Last modified: 2006-05-04 19:00:40 UTC
== Suggestion for improved user navigation within a MediaWiki page. ==
May be a partial solution to the constant battles between deletionists and
inclusionists, as well as appealing to structurists.
Copy of a post I tried to make in the Wikitech newsgroup (but failed). (Is this the
right place to make such suggestions ?) Any comments, advice, info ? If anyone thinks
this is a good idea, please promote it to the right people in the right place. Copy
it, plagiarise it, whatever.
Hi, a newbie to Wikitech, and only occasional visitor to Wikipedia, so apologise if
<br>a) don't get things right first time
<br>b) being bold enough to make suggestion for improvement before I really know much
=== Background ===
* been contributing to Wikionary for a year or two. Administrator. Mostly interested
in improving the organisation, the process, policies etc, rather than the content
* 28 years in IT, mostly as business process analyst, interfacing between "dumb"
users and "nerdy" techos.
=== Observed Problem ===
For the great majority of pages on Wikipedia and Wiktionary, they can be very long,
with lots you want to skip over (probably more so in Wiktionary) and there is very
little help in navigating through the long page.
At best there is a Table of Contents at the top. Which, as soon as you click on it,
disappears as you drop down the page. Great !
1. Make the article collapsible by levels.
* Make some extra tabs along the top that show -All-, -1-, -2-, -3-, -4-, maybe
* If you click on -1-, then the article will collapse to show only the Level 1
headings, with a little + (plus) sign to the left hand side, and a ++ sign
* If you click on -2-, than it collapses to level 1 and level 2 headings, etc.
If you click on -All- then the article is shown in full, with no collapsing of levels.
* If you click on the + sign against a heading, it will expand the content
below that heading to the next level of headings.
* If you click on the ++ sign against a heading, it will expand all levels and
content below that heading.
* When a level has been expanded, then a little - (minus) sign will replace the
+ sign. If you click on this the content will collapse to just that heading.
2. Find a way to keep the Table of Contents visible on the screen at all times
* New Window - Maybe a pop-up window, or an option to click on a spot at the
top of TOC to show the TOC in a new window.
* Frame - Maybe put the TOC in a small frame in the left-hand side-bar (Use a
couple of frames to hold all that sidebar info constantly visible (within a scrolling
3. Both of the above
4. Both the above, plus have the Table of Contents also collapsible in the same
* A user can drill down in an article, expanding and collapsing at will.
:rather than - going to the top of the page, clicking on a TOC entry, viewing that,
not finding what they want, going back to the TOC, at the top, trying another TOC
* Or, with the TOC in a frame in the left hand border, the TOC is always
visible (and better if collapsible), thus making the second type of navigation far
=== How to implement ===
1. Firstly, and most importantly, users do not have to write their articles
:The whole thing is driven by the currently used heading levels.
:Indeed, some of the complexities that are gone into to put some additional
navigation aids on a page would become unnecessary, making it less complicated to
write big pages, because the within-the-page navigation is automated from the normal
2. Maybe users could choose, by profile, to start either with articles fully
expanded, or fully collapsed.
3. The default for low-tech users would be fully expanded, so no different from
now (except for the + and - signs and the -All-, -1, -2- tabs being there if they
want to click on them
4. The general concept of little + and - signs against headings is already
widely used, and would need no introduction for many, even most users to be able to
make use of it straightaway without any notification or education effort. For those
who are very unsavvy, then they would just continue as now.
5. The collapsing / expanding by clicking on + and - signs is everywhere. I'm
sure even early versions of Front Page had it, Microsoft has it within it's web site,
it's used in Excel, used within the document map of Word etc etc etc. Must be pretty
easy to find out how it was done for these.
6. It impacts only the display of a page. There is nothing different going on
elsewhere in the background, in the infrastructure of the off screen processes.
I'm not sure how this impacts style sheets, since I have never really bothered to
OK. Hope this suggestion is food for thought in improving the user experience of the
fantastic MediaWiki software.
Richardb of Wiktionary.
--[[User:Richardb|Richardb]] 14:12, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of 1257 ***