25 August 2008

The goal of Wikinews


I’ve been thinking a bit about Wikinews lately, and about what it should aim for – what its goal should be.

I do not think Wikinews can be a serious contender to the traditional news outlets in the foreseeable future. For that there are just too few people involved with Wikinews. In an ideal world the project would have contributors everywhere, ready to write when something happens in their region. However, as we all know, this world is far from ideal.

Mainstream news is just not what makes Wikinews great – news on the Beijing Olympics and the upcoming US election I can get elsewhere, more complete and more updated.

I believe the goal of Wikinews should be what we could call “alternative” news. News that are interesting, but are not usually reported in traditional media. Stories like the one on Canadian cities wanting to ban bottled water, or the U2 fan who was ordered to destroy his CDs. I believe stories like those are the most important ones for Wikinews.

Of course, Wikinews should not stop focusing on mainstream event – they are producing a lot of good material there as well – but I believe the key to getting more readers to Wikinews is to have stories like those. Unique, interesting stories that people don’t get in their usual news &ndsah; that’s what’s crucial.

06 August 2008


Photo: Aqwis. License: CC-by-SA 2.0 DE

I am in the process of moving from Skiptvet to Trondheim, and then starting the studying year (and my studying career), so I will probably not be very available the following weeks.

03 August 2008

Dynamic menus

Dynamic menus is the latest gadget I have made, and by far the most complicated one. What it does is that it moves the sidebar menus to the top of the page, and make them into dropdown menus instead – and it’s completely CSS-driven!

The reason I made this gadget was that I was tired of the sidebar taking up valuable space that could be used for the content instead; I wanted the content part of a wiki page to have a width of 100 %, and have the interface stuff in the top and the bottom. So I made this. It is based on the Modern skin, and will look awful in other skins.

It does have some drawbacks though. It currently only works in Firefox 3.0 (with a small extra feature if you install Firefox 3.1 Alpha 1), though I will try to fix it for Opera and Safari as well (I tried fixing it for IE, but that just won’t work).

If you want to try it, you can go to Meta and turn it on in your preferences. It is also live on the Norwegian (Bokmål) Wikipedia and on Betawiki. If you want to install it on your own wiki, that is really simple as well; there are instructions in the page linked at the beginning of the blog. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

01 August 2008

Wikipedia.org reorganised

Today the top ten languages (the ones around the globe logo) on the international Wikipedia.org portal were reorganised, following a poll on Meta. The languages are now organised by their relative share of the number of visitors, rather than by the number of articles.

This has led to quite a few changes within the top ten Wikipedias themselves, but only one language was actually replaced among the ten; the Dutch Wikipedia (467 000 articles) was replaced by the newly-unblocked Chinese Wikipedia (200 000 articles), which in my opinion is quite natural.

Another result of the aforementioned poll is that the tenth Wikipedia in the list will be replaced by the one in the user’s preferred language (as set in the browser settings). This, however, needs some extra code to be implemented (you can’t just move some existing code around), so it’ll probably take some time before it is live on the site, but it will hopefully be there soon.