The Signpost

Editor's note: This article uses an experimental typographical layout that we are currently soliciting feedback on. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on the talk page!

Resident Mario is a Wikipedia editor and news hound who serves as associate editor at the Signpost.
The views expressed in this op-ed are those of the author alone; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should use our opinion desk.
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  • Your layout leaves no room on the right to designate the end of an image, which gave me the illusion that there was more to the pictures I was not seeing. Otherwise, I see no real difference between versions. TomStar81 (Talk) 05:58, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:01, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The main difference here is that by forcing the text into a fixed-width column the article is made far more readable than it would be otherwise: a wealth of research has shown that letting the browser window set the text width is a terrible idea, because the columns become progressively less and less readable as the screen widens. This was well known even in the days of dead-tree literature, and here and here are examples of implications for web design. Here is an example of the principle's application. ResMar 14:14, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't like the layout—particularly the acres of white space between the paragraphs and the right-jutting pics. Tony (talk) 09:16, 12 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As we discussed, there isn't a better image solution that can be used on-wiki. Similarly there isn't a way to reduce the amount of space between paragraphs easily. Besides, whitespace is your friend, not your enemy; being used to crowded text elsewhere on Wikipedia does not make it good here. Try looking at almost any online magazine and you will see that this kind of spacing is typical and proper: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] etc. ResMar 14:35, 12 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • So you want to get your message out. Where do you turn?: If we were to read everything this article suggests we would have no time to get on with our other work let alone what we do on Wikipedia. I'm a very busy admin (sometimes) and I've never felt the need to follow blogs or that vile place they call Wikipediocracy for which I find the advert here, however critical of it, totally unnecesary (having never been there, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the main hangout for the leaders of the anti-admin brigade and their coat-tail snatchers). A lot of all this peripheral stuff is due to the Wikipedia movement having gotten itself far too deeply involved in socio-political issues. Wikipedia still reminds me of the alternativ Bewegungen of the 60s, 70s, and 80s (of which I have to admit to having been a part in my much younger days). As soon as we can convince the world that Wikipedia is the planet's largest and most consulted encyclopedic work and not a global Internet Corrie, a Yellow Pages, or a rapper's second FaceBook, we'll have less work for the poorly functioning NPP and AfC and less time needed to argue with its miserable detractors (even if they happen to be prolific content creators). When I have serious stuff to discuss, to blank out the background noise I use Skype or personal email, and it works. All I ever read is the Signpost and that's generally enough for me to keep in touch. The rest happens when I go to meet-ups and Wikimanien. And talk pages work for me perfectly - Don't lose the thread. The day we get liquid threads or Flow will be the day that I'll probably retire permanently to my other keyboard. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 06:19, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with KP's "that vile place they call Wikipediocracy for which I find the advert here, however critical of it, totally unnecesary" You mention them way too much. They have no positive contribution to make - they harass people and make things up out of thin air. The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. Please follow this advice. Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:01, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's a bit extreme, Smallbones. I think most people have come round to the view that stories like [6] and [7] were based on very real problems that Wikipedia showed no sign of fixing by itself before they were highlighted on WO. Andreas JN466 16:30, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Certainly not everything posted at WO (or previously at WR) is useless, but that does not mean that as a enterprise it is worthwhile. When the normative mode of discourse is insult and criticism, participants are easily drawn into negative groupthink. We have seen this happen on WP, let us hope that is in our past. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:18, 13 July 2015 (UTC).Reply[reply]
  • Since Wikipedia is in a bit of a decline perhaps we must listen closer to the so called chaotic side.--Catlemur (talk) 10:49, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Rumours of Wikipedia's death have been greatly exaggerated. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:18, 13 July 2015 (UTC).Reply[reply]
  • On the experimental layout, specifically "width:46em" and "padding-left:5em", my reaction is mixed. I like the somewhat narrower column of text, as I find it easier to scan. I rarely use a full screen window for just this reason, and the text fits very nicely within the window size I ordinarily use.

    However, the larger images do not fit unless I scroll right or switch to full-screen: they are cropped about 7 em on the right. When using a fixed width column of text, it might be best if the images are not wider than that column. That way, if the text fits in one's window then the images will also fit; and it will look more trim and columnar.

    The fixed width does not fit in a window much narrower than I ordinarily use, it is truncated not wrapped. This is not a problem on my desktop, but I wonder how well it works for users of small-screen mobile devices – i.e. whether the devices override the fixed width or adapt gracefully to the overflow. ~ Ningauble (talk) 15:04, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

 Ningauble: The larger size of the images is done on purpose to break up monotony. The presence of extra size in the image gives the illusion that the article is taking all of the space being given to it, which is a lie, as the columns are a small fixed width for the purposes of readability. If they were reduced to fit snug against the edge of the text, then the article would look what it essentially is: two columns, one of text and one of sporadic images, with a gutter in the middle. Furthermore, I think that since the capacity exists for using a larger image, a larger image ought to be used—I am tired of squinting at 225px thumbnails on Wikipedia as it is, and have little desire to do more of the same in the Signpost. There's also a technical reason for this arrangement: there's no way to set image widths in anything except for pixels. I could theoretically cut off the image using a div container with overflow:hidden, but that would work on a case-by-case basis: many images would be made significantly worse or lose their ocular focus entirely. The ideal solution, as demonstrated here, is not technically possible on Wikipedia.
I am surprised that the images are truncated on your screen. What is your resolution? You'd need a very small resolution (or very large text) for 50px + 800px + 5em to not fit in your screen width. 99% of screen resolutions are greater than 1028x768—the resolution of my 11-inch Mac Air laptop, on which the arrangement looks very comfortable, and on which I must Command - + thrice more (to zoom) before the images slides off.
It's not a good format for mobile. But nobody reads the Signpost on their phone (there is an Android app for it, albeit a broken one), and it works fine if the larger images are wrapped in nomobile anyway. ResMar 15:30, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Re. "...surprised that the images are truncated on your screen":  Not what I wrote. It does not fit the window size I normally use, which is less than full screen size precisely because, as I already mentioned and as you responded to another above, a full-screen column of running text (at typical font sizes) is harder to read. The full article width, including images, does fit my usual window size if I scroll right by a little more than half the width of the Wikipedia navigation pane on the left, and fits full-screen mode with lots of room to spare.

If you just like jumbo images then that is fine, my bandwidth can handle it. If you prefer the ragged effect of images that overhang on the right then I can't really complain: De gustibus non est disputandum.

Let me reiterate that I very much like the text column width: it is almost exactly what I would choose! (I am surprised to learn the Signpost has no mobile readership. I was starting to get the impression that everybody but me had gone mobile.) ~ Ningauble (talk) 17:12, 11 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You can stop artificially lowering your screen size then :-). Modern web browsers all seem to have (or can install) a "Read Mode" that can fix troublesome websites and make them easier to read. Having now gone through this process at the Signpost I am astounded that something smarter than we have now isn't done for Wikipedia itself. ResMar 01:15, 12 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I don't like the new layout. In the window size and font size I use, I have to scroll right to see all the text. Libcub (talk) 20:37, 12 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
 Libcub: What's your window size and font size? Images coming off, maybe, but the text itself...that should be really difficult to do. ResMar 02:51, 13 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
i like the new laypout, works fine on mobile. the crufty left menu needs to go. (don't use anything over there anyway). Duckduckstop (talk) 23:33, 14 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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