Wikipedia plans on making fundamental changes to its user experience in April, including changing the crowd-sourced reference Website's default theme and making pages easier to edit. The ultimate goal, according to the development team behind the project, will be to simplify the process of finding and adding information to both Wikipedia and its associated sites.
In a March 25 posting on the Wikimedia Blog, published by the Wikipedia Foundation, Naoko Komura "and the Wikimedia Foundation User Experience team" detailed the changes to the Website's look and layout, which will include a new editing toolbar "that makes it easier to insert links and tables" and streamlined visuals.
"We've simplified the navigation, relocated the search box to satisfy user expectations and to follow other Web standards, reduced some of the clutter, and made sure that the new features work with different resolutions, browser formats and window sizings," the blog posting reads.
In terms of schedules, "We will begin deployment of these changes in the week of April 5 on Wikipedia Commons, the media repository used by Wikipedia," the blog posting added. "Provided that we don't encounter major hiccups with this first rollout, we are planning deployment of the changes to Wikipedia in late April, beginning with the English Wikipedia, followed by other languages."
Changes to Wikipedia's editing tools will include reducing the amount of code in the edit system, along with simpler editing forms, buttons and instructions for the posting process. Another team goal, apparently, is the building of an "improved interface for uploading images and video, and searching our existing multimedia repository." Registered users will have the ability to "opt-in" to the new features, which will be presumably refined based on feedback.
Originally launched in 2001, Wikipedia currently hosts some 3.2 million articles in English, although the crowd-sourced nature of its articles occasionally draws controversy. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has also occasionally had to defend certain actions, such as having his administrators flush information about kidnapped New York Times journalist David Rohde from the site after the latter was kidnapped in Afghanistan.
"When we say we insist on reliable sources, and when we say we care about the humanitarian impact of our work, we mean it," Wales said at the time.