|Forum: Home > UnMeta design|
Um... please bear with me, here. I feel like I should actually explain myself here so you'll take me seriously and stuff - not trying to insult anyone who may or may not have put a fair amount of effort into stuff, but I would like to lay some things out and try to address them, you know?
Anyway, if you're reading this, it's probably a safe assumption you use this wiki. Whatever for seems to vary considerably, but that's sort of my point with this. The wiki itself appears to serve several rather key purposes, but the implementation is lacking, perhaps in part due to nobody having the resources or the time or the motivation to improve it, but more so, I suspect, because it's still partly the Uncyclomedia Foundation wiki and also partly the UnMeta wiki, and mushing them together doesn't work when what we need is one coordinated UnMeta. Having that one, solidifying it, and then making the other might work, but what happened here appears to have been the opposite - it looks like it started as a parody of the Wikimedia Foundation and then just sort of evolved to be more Meta-wiki-y over the years. This is excellent since we needed one of those, but to be effective, it needs to focus more on what it is now, and more so, on what it's used for and how folks use it. Need to make it more usable, especially to newcomers who won't be familiar with the setup (some even less so than others, given the multicultural userbase) and will find themselves having to learn from what's there.
And it's the what's there that is lacking - the cues it gives in places can be misleading, and it others merely missing. This is understandable considering how Uncyclomedia began, a giant joke, but hardly optimal for our current purposes.
 Main page
This is the first thing a lot of folks will see, so that makes it one of the most important pages on the entire wiki - lose visitors here and chances are they will venture no further. Arguably a good mainpage should both spark interest in things visitors didn't already know about and also direct them to whatever they were looking for all along in a manner fitting with their expectations, with their mental model, so to speak, of what a mainpage should do.
Seeing as the Uncyclopedias are parodies of the various language Wikipedias and other Wikimedia projects, and this, likewise, is much the same for the Wikimedia Meta-Wiki, we may as well use that. I'll just compare this to that, but we could go so far as to even steal the layout completely, code and all, changing the words around, if we wanted. Fair use, and all. That, and it seems to be licensed under Creative Commons anyway, so we wouldn't even need an excuse.
But let's compare:
|The UnMeta (our) mainpage: "Welcome to UnMeta-Wiki, a serious website about the Uncyclomedia Foundation's projects"...||The Meta-Wiki mainpage: "Welcome to Meta-Wiki, the global community site for the Wikimedia Foundation's projects"...|
The messages are pretty similar, which is good, although I think the 'for' is key as well - this site is also for the community, not about it, right? But that's just nitpicking; look more at the layouts, and the amount of text - there's so much of it on ours, and so few links (most of them are actually just further down, but off-screen is still off-screen). Where things are is as important as what they are - visibility is key, and Wikimedia's handles this well.
It begins with a brief explanation, the first and largest thing on the page, surrounded by space; the affordances of the page draw the eye straight to it. It helps folks to understand what the thing is from the start, and follows with easily accessible links to both elaborate on the explanation and also take folks to the relevant parts of the wiki - but not too many links. No need to overwhelm; the wiki is huge, but it is organised, and the complexity is hidden from the first-time comer. More specific links and other matters are further down, still clearly labelled and organised into appropriate sections, and the projects and languages are nestled at the very bottom. This is good design - the project and language coordination may be what the wiki is about and for, but a visitor would most likely be coming from one of those projects and would already know that, else they would not be there. They would be much more interested in what the wiki does, and where to go for whichever thing that it does that enticed them to come there in the first place.
With ours, on the other hand, the eye is drawn not to the explanation, but to the top bar of large links, most of which don't really go anywhere, and to the gnomes. The page itself begins, 'Welcome to Intercyclopedia, The Independent Union of All Pedias.' But we don't know what that means even if we do look to it; the text is small, and nobody wants to read fine print. And 'Intercyclopedia'? The logo already refers to it as 'Uncyclomedia' and 'UnMeta-Wiki, and we don't even know what those are yet. Another name for the same thing, and fancier? But what is the use of fanciness, really? This is the UnMeta wiki. That's all. No need to complicate.
So lose the fanciness. Make it map better - put things according to what folks might expect, and how they might be understood, and limit it to the relevant stuff. Lose the top bar entirely, perhaps; it doesn't seem to add much. And lose the Uncyclomedia Foundation-esque links bar under it.
- Projects are implicit; can also put a full, graphical version later like Wikimedia's Meta-Wiki did.
- The Board of Trustees, nobody is going to know what that actually is from the clues afforded by the rest of the page (apparently it's nothing important, anyway, from clicking the link).
- Translations, that would definitely be something to have, but not necessarily before saying what the project is, and thus what it might even be that would need translating.
- The About is likewise something to have, but also likewise something that should come after the initial introduction. Perhaps it would work better as a 'read more' added directly to it for folks for whom it isn't enough?
- The Conference Room is apparently the forum... why not just call it the forum, then? Again, make it what folks might expect, but still, forum for what? We don't know yet.
- The Help page needs a complete rewrite, so putting that as a prominent link on the mainpage probably isn't a very good idea, either... and there is already a search bar at the top of the wiki, so no need for another link to it.
Links on the mainpage, as with any landing page or navigation tool, should be important, should be apparent what they are, and and should go to things that would be of use. And usually the less links the better - that way it is easier to find relevant ones. Less confusing that way, too, or at least it seems less confusing that way, but perception can make a big difference regarding how much of a chance a visitor may give it, and how much effort they'll be willing to put into figuring it out. Explanation first. Then links. Then... more links? And gnomes, of course.
Other things to look to would be the unbalanced white space towards the bottom, the red links, the giant gnomes, and just the general distribution. Make the more important stuff larger and more solitary and organise the less important stuff around that, wherever it might fit in. Gnomes are a bonus, but draw the reader to where they'll need to go. This way the structure of the page will make the entire thing more usable, rather like Wikimedia's. Unlike theirs, however, there should be a good deal less links simply because we are so much smaller, so that should actually help our layout. Less to worry about accomodating.
 Interwiki coordination
That is, after all, what this wiki is for, right? Coordinating efforts with those of the other projects and other language wikis and mitigating overall effort; improving overall consistency; and getting help with anything from spam attacks to logo translations to roberto failures.
The question is, where? How? Save for starting new forum topics, I just don't know. Clearly there's something wrong here; if the forum really is the best way about things, why is there a rest of the wiki at all? What's it all for? There are requests pages as well as reports pages, but it seems like they're not used so well as they could be; there's no easy way to tell what has already been reported or requested so as to see if one's own issue might be something that has already come up. And is the Report a Problem for this wiki, or for the wikis in general? Clarification and differentiation would help here, lest users put things in the wrong place, making matters even worse.
And the Embassies. What are they, pages to represent the wikis? For what purpose? If, say, Black flamingo11 comes here as the Ambassador from the English Uncyclopedia, and goes on to create an embassy for that wiki, what purpose should he expect it to serve? Who would look at it, and why? The main Embassies page does little to explain this, especially considering how elaborate some of the individual embassies get. Having looked at some of the other ones, I certainly don't envy our flamingo the task; they looks quite difficult to create. Although these examples are a little off-putting in general - how does one make an embassy like that? And why? These are here to represent wikis, right? The layout is completely different from anything else here, and it's not like that of the home wikis of the languages in question, either. Keeping things simple and consistent will make things easier to understand for everyone, especially once the purpose is clear.
The place is half Uncyclomedia Foundation wiki and half UnMeta wiki and that just doesn't work (should focus as UnMeta since that's what's actually used), the mainpage needs a redo, interwiki coordination could use more emphasis, though if that's what the embassies are for, I'm not seeing how. Relatedly, I also still think the sidebar needs work, although it is better than it was when I originally complained about it. But I want to help fix this stuff, not just complain about it. I also want your inputs, if you agree, disagree, etc.
So, yeah... thoughts? Should I just hit some of this with a mallet now (I'd need keys, though), or am I horribly wrong, to the point where I should probably be shot and stuffed up a tree with the squirrels I hold so dear? Because I do like squirrels, after all, not that it has anything to do with anything. But they're nice. Okay, maybe I need sleep. ~ 07:40, 11 October 2011
- Great, so there is a start to it... but that still doesn't really explain the thing. What is the wiki, what does it do, and if it really is just to be about the thing, what purpose could that serve? This wiki isn't about, mon. It's for. Or it should be, at least. Also, not that I'm one to talk, but conciseness, mon. Need to be concise and to the point, addressing what will be relevant. Fluff bad and stuff. ~ 15:16, 11 October 2011
Excuse me if you can not participate in the debate, but quit the postal strike here in my country and will be very busy this week-end. However, I was able to get some codes of Wikimedia and some extra code to the Galician version of the home page here Rhubella Marie, the rat sockpreppie 1820 preppiedits 18:37, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
- Would any of you happen to know how they did the different language things on the wikimedia pages? I also hope to hit the wording of the english one CH was working on at some point when I've the time, though I seem to have hit a wall regarding that, but regardless, there'll still need to be the framework and format to tie the different languages together. ~ 16:39, 17 October 2011
- I can not know how they managed. Also because I also had a big job to create this version of Galicia. Perhaps I had an idea, I try to create a main page that does not have any Uncyclopedia participation as an initial model. Another thing is that the page itself Galician needs fixing in your links, because I copied all the text version of WP. Rhubella Marie, the rat sockpreppie 1820 preppiedits 23:09, 17 October 2011 (UTC)