Wikimedia Developer Summit/2017/Handling wiki content beyond plaintext

This a main topic discussed at the Wikimedia Developer Summit 2017, facilitated by C. Scott Ananian (cscott) and Daniel Kinzler (WMDE), other people who volunteered in Phab:E285, possibly other volunteers.

The problem


The power of wikitext and the popularity of Wikipedia has created a problem. Wikis were originally designed to reduce complexity. As Ward Cunningham noted in a 1995 email explaining his early wiki software, he pointed out that his new website editing software "has a forms-based authoring capability that doesn't require familiarity with html".[1] But over the years, MediaWiki's simplicity has been eroded as more and more features were added to Wikitext.

The gradually-accumulating complexity allowed the Wikimedia movement to build many projects of global importance, but it has made our sites more difficult to edit and may be limiting the growth of our editing community. We have become victims of our own success: the creative ways in which templates are used to implement features as varied as work lists, citation standards, navigation tools, image styles, and localized syntax can also hinder deeper understanding of the wiki and impair the future growth of those features past the limitations of the template model. Many of the organically-built features hide incompatible corner cases in syntax or semantics which trip up even experienced editors and complicate the implementation of tools.

We will define "wikitext" broadly as any "content representation used by MediaWiki now (or in the future)", including the traditional markup syntax, the HTML-based representation used internally by Visual Editor/Parsoid, Scribunto templates, JSON (such as used for TemplateData, Graph, or Kartographer), Wikidata tuples, or future flights of fancy like ReStructured Text, Markdown, or VR authoring languages. The goal of "wikitext", in all its forms, is to allow knowledge collection via participatory media.

In this topic area we encourage proposals which (1) increase the power of wikitext, (2) increase the modularity or maintainability of features currently implemented in wikitext, (3) simplify understanding or editing of wikitext, or (4) increase commonalities with third-party users of wikitext.

Submitted proposals


The deadline for proposals has passed (2016-10-31).

To see a list of all proposals see all blocking tasks of the Phabricator task tracking this topic.

The submitted proposals include: (FIXME: update this list.)

  • FIXME: add more useful links.