Concise Wikipedia

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This page is a proposal for a new Wikimedia Foundation Sister Project.
Status Under discussion
Prompt Response
What is the proposed name for the project? Concise Wikipedia
Project description
What is the project purpose? What will be its scope? How would it benefit to be part of Wikimedia?
The purpose of the project is to function as a traditional encyclopedia and attempt to provide a basic summary of the more notable entries in an A-Z book-like format which can be used almost like a dictionary. The problem with wikipedia is inconsistency and length of articles and empty entries on a lot of topics, many of which wouldn't be included in a traditional encyclopedia. I want a word limit imposed upon each entry and for every entry in it to highlight all of the most important points so our readers can trust it more like a traditional formal encyclopedia. At the end of each entry I suggest a "read more" type link leading to the main wikipedia article. I would suggest that a new mode within the wikipedia project itself in a reference book format would be a better way to deal with this than a separate project and might encourage more editors within the project to try to focus at least on providing suitable summaries for each of the more important topics. I believe such a project would be of immense benefit to wikipedia by giving readers, especially mobile readers a satisfactory summary of a topic without having to read a massive amount of text, or finding it problematic to read or understand. This would be an attempt to provide a consistent encyclopedia to our readers in the traditional book style but on the web.
How many wikis?
Will there be many language versions or just on one multilingual wiki?
Presumably many
How many languages?
Is the project going to be in one language or in many?
Presumably all languages
Proposed project website address or if it has to be separate
Technical requirements
If the project requires any new features that the MediaWiki software currently doesn't have, please describe in detail. Are additional MediaWiki extensions needed for the project?
I would imagine that setting up a new mode "concise" version within wikipedia would require the development of a new format which resembles a traditional book encyclopedia with entries neatly filed in relatively short summaries in an A-Z format. I envisage something like this with a virtual book format, almost as if reading from a traditional encyclopedia. Such a feature ideally would also allow editors to browse by category and view article summaries of all the entries within them.
Development wiki
Interested Participants:
# Dr. Blofeld (talk)
  1. Collect (talk)
  2. Michaeldsuarez (talk)
  3. Sounds worth thinking about more! Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:48, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  4. TheOriginalSoni (talk)
  5. Interesting idea. I've started a Discussion section with some thoughts. Rosiestep (talk) 17:57, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  6. Of course Ottava Rima (talk) 19:10, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  7. Volunteer Marek (talk) 19:11, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  8. John Carter (talk) 20:54, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  9. Quiddity (talk) 21:16, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  10. Maidahl (talk)
  11. Abbasjnr (talk) 05:46, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  12. Thine Antique Pen (talk) 14:21, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  13. MBisanz talk 22:52, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  14. Ipigott (talk) 21:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
  15. Waldir (talk) 22:11, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
  16. Thehelpfulone 23:59, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
  17. Reo On

For me, the biggest problems with Wikipedia are readability and its function as a consistent encyclopedia. Most articles warble on and on and are very difficult to read, often failing to mention the most important points in the absence of any basic research. The vast majority of articles I approach I never read entirely: they just don't grasp my attention unless I really feel compelled to learn about something, especially on topics such as technology. Too many articles are constructed in a haphazard way with the poor level of structuring which results from the involvement of many different editors. I therefore believe a Wikipedia Concise edition should be launched with a word limit on additions: an encyclopedia of summary entries for all knowledge which can be used for rapid reference without heavy reading. The concise edition would highlight the most important facts like a traditional book encyclopedia, without going into detail. I was thinking of a virtual book format and a word limit of say 400-500 100-200 (similar to the Britannica concise edition like this), and 400-500 words for articles on broad topics such as countries.

I can think of several reasons why it could be of great value. What the web is really lacking is a free comprehensive encyclopedia like Wikipedia which is of even, reliably researched quality and provides a consistent summary in a traditional encyclopedia format as a quick point of reference. Visitors to Wikipedia, myself included, are often frustrated at having to sift through a massive article to retrieve the most important facts, especially as in many cases the lead is non existent or poorly constructed. Many people use their mobiles to retrieve facts from Wikipedia when they need instant information, frequently having to sift through lengthy articles to find what they're looking for. NOTPAPER though has unfortunately affected how concise many articles are. Being concise and consistently presenting the main facts in a summary which grasps the reader's attention is extremely important in providing knowledge. It would be easier to maintain quality in a concise edition and it could even be used to complement the main edition of Wikipedia, providing "stubs" which could then be used to create fuller articles. A concise edition could be browsed page by page from A to Z as in a traditional encyclopedia. The reader would also have the option to browse by category, e.g Category:Danish sculptors would have a page "Danish sculptors" listed from A to Z but with article summaries for each person. I'd love to see such a project paying homage to the traditional book encyclopedias by presenting information in short summaries along the lines I have described.

Proposed by[edit]

User:Dr. Blofeld

Alternative names[edit]


Related projects/proposals[edit]

Other encyclopedias

Domain names[edit]

  • (a reference to Twitter's famous 140 character limit)
  • (TL;DR)
  • ...
New TLDs
  • ...

Mailing list links[edit]


I guess this sort of thing is what I envisage. A virtual book format like a traditional encyclopedia, with the possibility of exploring general A-Z or A-Z by specific topic. You tap in a search entry and it brings you to the short article entry in the virtual book in the A-Z. Each entry is divided by a line and in the bottom corner "Read More" or "Explore Category" option. The explore category option takes you to an encyclopedia page of A-Z summaries of all entries in that Category, whether it be Estonian chess players or Mosques in Mali or whatever. The read more option then connects you to the full Wikipedia article or the opportunity to hover over a Wikipedia article preview which will display the full article for you to quickly scan if you wish to continue browsing the concise entries.. (Blofeld)

  • Here‘s an example of a 500-word text, for comparison. The url parameters can be tweaked to test different sizes.
  • User Waldir has created a free and open source example called Primerpedia, which calls the lead section of English Wikipedia articles.

People interested[edit]

  1. Dr. Blofeld (talk)
  2. Collect (talk)
  3. Michaeldsuarez (talk)
  4. Sounds worth thinking about more! Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:48, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  5. TheOriginalSoni (talk)
  6. Interesting idea. I've started a Discussion section with some thoughts. Rosiestep (talk) 17:57, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  7. Of course Ottava Rima (talk) 19:10, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  8. Volunteer Marek (talk) 19:11, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  9. John Carter (talk) 20:54, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  10. Quiddity (talk) 21:16, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
  11. Maidahl (talk)
  12. Abbasjnr (talk) 05:46, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  13. Thine Antique Pen (talk) 14:21, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  14. MBisanz talk 22:52, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
  15. Ipigott (talk) 21:29, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
  16. Waldir (talk) 22:11, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
  17. Thehelpfulone 23:59, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
  18. Reo On|+|+ 21:44, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
  19. Xavier Combelle (talk) 14:58, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
  20. czar · · 23:08, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
  21. --Aschmidt (talk) 12:39, 8 December 2012 (UTC) for all language versions, German included; cf. the proposal rejected in 2010 for Wikipedia Simple German 3
  22. Bennylin 16:48, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
  23. Marcus Qwertyus (talk) 00:41, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  24. Excellent idea! Tazerdadog (talk) 18:39, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  25. Awesome idea. Interested in both my personal and professional capacity. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 23:27, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  26. Wolfgang42 (talk)
  27. Let's do it. Mathias developed something like this in German years ago; iirc it was a success and turned into a print edition that was published for some time. SJ talk  02:51, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
  28. Sapere aude22 (talk) 13:31, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
  29. Tiggerjay (talk) 06:38, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
  30. Interesting idea, especially if it entails a new feature on existing wikis. WikiPuppies bark dig 16:19, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
  31. ·Add§hore· Talk/Cont 19:43, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
  32. Slventura (talk) 05:48, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  33. Hope the discussion continues as there are real ramifications across wikis in this proposal sats (talk) 14:37, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  34. A micropedic WP could flash key data in a nutshell. Wikid77 (talk) 23:12, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  35. As a micro namespace of the current WP.--Gilderien (talk) 14:53, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
  36. Great idea - SchroCat (talk) 08:02, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
  37. WikiNutshell;) Bothvar (talk) 01:10, 18 August 2013 (UTC)


I think we should give this proposal due consideration. This week's Signpost mentions an Eye-tracking study, which notes in part that "Readers frequently 'skim and scroll' long articles." This certainly describes me. I think if the reader initially landed on the concise article, he could decide whether to follow a "Read more..." link to access its longer version. The "Read more..." link could be placed by the article's Commons link, if one were applicable. Other navigation links from the concise article might be to the long article's TOC, References, ELs, etc. I could picture these links as pastel bubbles, or some other pleasant UX option. --Rosiestep (talk) 17:56, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

If it doesn't become a separate wikiproject as such, the idea of having a different mode of English Wikipedia in a traditional summary format is an attractive idea I think. I think in terms of conveying knowledge we need to look at what promotes learning and readability and if editors want the choice of reading an effective basic summary and then the option to "read more" I think this could improve Wikipedia as a whole. A lot of people definitely come to Wikipedia and don't want to read massive articles and are looking for some basic facts. The problem of course of having a separate project is that it would require a band of good editors to produce concise summaries which english Wikipedia itself badly needs, but if some sort of technology was introduced which allows editors to browse categories for instance with a basic summary of each entry in a A-Z this could be a good thing. (Blofeld)

It seems a separate project would be better, so that disputes are less likely multiplied across articles with the same subject, editorial control is better maintained by regulars who are knowledgeable of the particular expectations, and less chance of POV forking. Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:36, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

(e-c) I very much like the idea of creating more concise articles in English. I have seen some rather well developed articles with leads only a sentence or two long, which frankly appalls me. I can and do think that it would be very useful to have some sort of micro/macropedia setup, particularly in English. If nothing else, this would probably help draw some attention to the leads of articles in the English Wikipedia, which often don't get much attention as is, and might make it easier to help prioritize some works. Also, and I acknowledge this might not be as big a deal as some of us oldsters think, I do have some personal reservations about all of our work being only on the net. In some parts of the English speaking world, even some of the major American cities, access to the net for people of very limited income and/or in some rural or remote areas may not be as easy as some of us in major cities with enough money to have internet and computers might think. And, at least personally, one of my own personal goals in editing is to try to make it easier for kids who grow up on limited financial resources in rural areas or remote areas, like I myself did, get access to really good information. Setting up something which could be fairly easily printed out by even smaller libraries, and thus a bit more available to everybody, even when they might not be able to book time on public computers, which would cover the major topics in sufficient depth to make them understandable. I might also like to see some way to maybe if wanted reduce the size of the letters we print out in, as I think the comparatively large print size tends to demand more pages and thus more expense, which could be problematic for smaller or poorly funded libraries. Regarding whether it should be a separate entity, I tend to think that would probably work best, largely along the same lines as Alanscottwalker above. John Carter (talk) 20:54, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

There are 3 existing types of "concise summary blurb", that might be good to keep in mind, or work with/towards.
  1. en:WP:POPUPS - (e.g.) - shows the entire 1st paragraph and image. (But has a hardlimit that I've asked for details on)
  2. Google's plain results - Search for "mozart" and on the left, you'll usually see our article's first 140-160 characters (20-25 words). (Bing/Yahoo etc, too)
  3. Google's new knowledge graph - Search for "mozart" and on the right, you'll see their new feature. Usually between 20-30 words. Usually a copyedited version of Wikipedia's first few sentences. Underneath are various stats and details. All of which can be "reported as wrong" (I didn't test).
Note: The knowledge graph seems to be using its own database for the info underneath the blurb. It's not just pulling info from our infoboxes and categories (confirm with the mozart example...). This is the kind of thing Wikidata should be integrating with, so that we can both benefit.
I think the Concise idea is important and worth considering strongly. Deciding on a specific ideal length will be subjective though, and creating a separate endeavour might a step too far. It might be good to classify the "standard lengths of use/re-use" and attempt to write our article-leads to match those standards. Eg the 1st 25 words of every article should provide a concise summary; and the 1st 200 words of every article should provide an extended summary. We do essentially already do this, but we base it on en:MOS:LEAD, and we don't currently mention/consider re-use in places like google, or in mobile apps.
That's my 2¢. Quiddity (talk) 22:14, 28 November 2012 (UTC)
Looks like popups is governed by a variable you can set, popupMaxPreviewCharacters , which currently defaults to 600 characters. Wnt (talk) 15:00, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I oppose with this project. Like Quiddity says, article introductions should play that role. For example, this is a good example, this is a poor example, and this is pathetic. --NaBUru38 (talk) 15:29, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

The en:MOS:LEAD idea seems to match up nicely with the goal of the "concise" article. It would also bring focus on perfecting article lead writing in general. --Rosiestep (talk) 01:32, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Would this be like creating a Wikipedia Micropædia? Chris857 (talk) 04:17, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes, exactly, but in virtual book format. Just like Britannica's concise edition here. 100 words seems to be the limit, I think maybe a 200 word limit would suffice. (Blofeld)

Rosiestep says it about as well as I could, I think. As long as there are "Read more" links linking to more in-depth articles, I think this is a fine idea. It's a great way to make it easier for people to get entry into Wikipedia. -- 15:06, 29 November 2012 (UTC) (Ser Amantio di Nicolao on the English Wiki)

I think one of the first steps is to develop consistent criteria for the sort of "mini-article" we wish to have. An example of my "style" is at [1] for which I invite comments from anyone here. One of my hobbyhorses for some time has been readability. Thus my own suggestion is that any articles be aimed at a grade level ideally of about 12, and a positive readability score of +10 or better. I can understand the desire to get down to 300 words - and this biography makes it—but I think such a constraint will be a problem in some areas. One question remains: will the wonderful overciting nightmare which plagues Wikipedia be avoidable here? I would trust we would not stick in contentious stuff, to be sure, but would use the "dry facts" system. Collect (talk) 14:37, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Another miniaturized en, along with the existing Simple and en:Wikipedia:Wikipedia CD Selection? I haven't joined in those, but suggest asking their participants whether they want to be in on this action. As for me, I intend to satisfy my urge in the direction of smaller articles by continuing to trim bloated prose and occasionlly split an article. Jim.henderson (talk) 21:58, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
Actually - no. My first concept was to have un-bloated articles, rather than micro-articles, but I suggest that the idea of a "less simple" (grade 12 is above "simple" ) precis work is what most here appear to want. You can look at the Joseph Widney article "before and after" to see that I reduced the bloat by a great deal without making a "micro-article' on Wikipedia. Collect (talk) 08:25, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The way I imagine it, I see a rating/list for the top 1000 articles based on importance, quality of article, requirement for the encyclopedia [a page about China may be more required than one about 1952 Summer Olympics] and popularity, which can change periodically [maybe once a month refreshing]. Every refresh, any number of articles [in the archive space maybe?] which move up the ratings and into the top 1000 are brought onto the main space, and those which fall down the list go to the archive space. That way, we ensure that only the [1000] most important of our articles remain visible to the reader. That way, we remove the scope for trivial articles, as Wikipedia might tend to go.
Any takers for this idea? [or a part of it maybe] TheOriginalSoni (talk) 16:08, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
It's certainly worth consideration. One instance where something like this would shine is the mobile version of Wikipedia. Frankly, reading one of our longer articles on a phone is an exercise in frustration. Just as a thought, perhaps this "concise" concept could be melded into mobile-WP? Matt Deres (talk) 22:33, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Exactly, and how much has changed since Wikipedia was founded in 2001? A large number of our site visits are generated from mobile phones and people just looking for a reliable basic overview of a topic which presents to basic and most important facts. (Blofeld)

The shorter the explanation, the better success you'll have. There'd be a number of concepts that you could emphasise

  • That it is meant for browsing, so you can surf quickly through general knowledge subjects and absorb a broad range of information faster than Wikipedia. For people who want to specifically know more about more, at the expense of depth, like for socialising and so on, or as a basis to find or determine their future interests.
  • For editors, that it's another goal to pursue, like four, FA, and DYK. combine it with LEDE, as a separate form of recognition for an article and you may slip past the FA problems where people cannot work on popular topics. Then again, it may compound those problems without the right process. Penyulap (talk) 17:57, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Inside or outside the existing Wikipedia?[edit]

I am a strong supporter of the concise approach. There are obviously enormous advantages in having a concise version of Wikipedia giving the pertinant facts on its articles, particularly the lengthy ones, so that people can immediately glean essential information. Personally, I think it would assist the Wikipedia project itself if concise info were to become available as part of the Wikipedia project. Even in the best cases, the article leads tend to rely on information presented later in the article whereas a concise summary of the overall content would assist those who wish to grasp the essentials of any topic.

Rather than embarking on a completely new project, I would therefore suggest that each Wikipedia article could be accompanied by a concise summary of normally not more than 500 words, presenting the basic facts. The concise summary could be linked to the Wikipedia article in a manner similar to the talk page at the moment but it could also be an option for people seaching for concise information. I would suggest that in an initial stage, concise summaries could be made of the 10,000 top articles by number of page views over a period of one year. If this works, the approach could be generalized. --Ipigott (talk) 21:52, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

I guess the reason for so many different shrinker projects is the diversity of problems that can be alleviated by shrinking. For me, it's a matter of mobile access. For years Google Maps has connected to our geographical articles, showing with one click the intro and with another the whole article. One problem is the poor quality of many intros, which are sometimes too long and more often too short and uninformative. As for the full article, when it's a long one finding good things inside with the little screen can be difficult. Thus, on the road I want the big ones split, and assume that small screens (smartphones and tablets) with slow data connections are likely to become more rather than less common. Other participants here think Wikipedia's articles are too many, rather than too big, so they propose choosing the top thousand or ten or hundred thousand or whatever. If article count becomes a guiding principle, it seems likely to mean a preference for large ones that will exacerbate the difficulties I encounter using Wikipedia outdoors. Jim.henderson (talk) 19:45, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
In case it's not on anyone's radar, I'd point out Mobile Projects and Talk:Mobile Projects to anyone interested in improving the mobile web interface vis-a-vis issues of conciseness, findability, etc. Beyond that, of course, many issues with the conciseness of Wikipedia articles suggest the need for editorial improvements rather than technological ones. Emw (talk) 05:20, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

I love this idea, but indeed I think (like many have said above) that building upon the existing WP:LEAD guidelines to ensure good intros are available would make it possible to build an app to display only the first section (example, using the API: [2]). This could be done as a separate website, a gadget, a new style, or user css. The benefit is that we would only need to maintain the intros in one place, and Wikipedia would automatically be improved by this — no need to sync. --Waldir (talk) 23:40, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Possible "Encyclopedia" namespace and organization?[edit]

As one of the supporters of the idea, as I indicated in my own comments above, I like the idea of somehow getting together some of our articles in a way which can be easily downloaded for interested users and/or which can be easily printed out by schools and others, similar to some of the "Historical Dictionary of (topic)" books Scarecrow Press and some others put out. Maybe, and this is just a maybe, have this project move into a space where the individual "articles" are, effectively, similar to those extant print reference books. They might run into several hundred pages, and, possibly, like those Scarecrow books I mentioned, maybe have a few full-length English Wikipedia articles at the beginning, with shorter, more clearly abridged, articles following thereafter on the various topics which are closely related enough to the main topic to merit inclusion in a print reference on the topic, but shorter, without the sometimes obvious duplication that is found in some articles, and maybe with material which isn't really particularly relevant to the main topic of the idea not included at all. So, for instance, for a theoretical "The Beatles Encyclopedia" page, the articles on the individuals involved, like Alan Parsons, would be perhaps stripped of most of the material not particularly relevant to the main subject of the page/book, and include only that material which more or less directly relates to the main topic? John Carter (talk) 22:15, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

How does this differ from MOS:LEAD?[edit]

I also like the idea of information being concise, but do not understand how this proposal of 4-500 word articles differs from w:MOS:LEAD. It has been mentioned by several editors above but no answer given yet, so I'm starting a separate section here. Why would there be a need for an entirely new project, instead of fixing article leads? Perhaps what's needed is simply a lead improvement drive on Wikipedia and a review of w:WP:LENGTH. Average time spent on Wikipedia is below 5 minutes while the guideline still starts with the presumption that "the average concentration span [is] 40 to 50 minutes". --Elekhh (talk) 22:10, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Splendid. Wake the slumbering en:Wikipedia:WikiProject Introductions with an added purpose. Incidentally, we've been using this space for discussion, but ought we be using the Discussion Page? Jim.henderson (talk) 22:35, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Good point, now I noticed that parallel discussions are taking place at Talk:Concise Wikipedia, with similar issues raised. Talking about being concise... --Elekhh (talk) 23:42, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I second the question "How does this differ from MOS:LEAD?". The energy that could potentially be invested in this project seems like it would be more usefully applied through conventional channels. That is, I think it would be more useful for contributors interested in this proposal to make a concerted effort to improve the quality of introductions on Wikipedia articles, rather than create a separate Wikimedia project that would duplicate Wikipedia's established editorial goals. Concise Wikipedia seems like it would entail unnecessary overhead to essentially achieve Featured article criterion 2a ("a concise lead section that summarizes the topic and prepares the reader for the detail in the subsequent sections") in all articles.
I think the user interface goals of this project could be achieved with a preference setting: users that prefer to see only articles' lead section could check a box in, say, 'My preferences' -> 'Appearance' that says "Only show article introductions; collapse section headings". Note that this is already the default UI for Wikipedia's mobile web interface: only introductions are shown, and the contents of the article body are collapsed into section headings by default.
Another side note: 500 words seems slightly too long, to me. I think 300 to 400 words would be best. Emw (talk) 05:00, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Actually i was thinking of something similar to the concise edition of Britannica which is more 100-200 words. I misjudged how much 400-500 words was. 300-400 maybe for more broader articles. (Blofeld)
  • Sigh. Too many people with too many different ideas. We need to collect together our thoughts and start on something, and decide on it; before this idea too goes into oblivion like the many others. Just have some clear-cut questions(inside Wikipedia or outside; Mobile version to be taken into account?; Simple wiki to be taken into account?; How would it be similar or different from MOS or Lead? etc..); and then discuss and vote on them. Otherwise I dont see how we can go ahead with doing anything on this except discussion. TheOriginalSoni (talk) 09:06, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree it's time to revisit w:WP:LENGTH. Our articles are becoming absurdly long and no longer readable. As we have valued comprehensiveness over readability for so long, the usefulness of the English encyclopedia has suffered. Kaldari (talk) 06:04, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, for that very reason I've proposed this. To make general knowledge information about any topic easy to fully read and easier to learn. If one wants a detailed article on a subject which is really comprehensive, a well written balanced long article can be great but the reality is most longer articles are bloated, poorly constructed and most editors don't read it fully because, well its just not digestible. It is a fact that the average person spends 5 minutes on wikipedia. "Quick reference", to get the basics and facts is what many people come to the site for. Every lead of every article should be providing a readable digestible summary but the reality is that most do not. If we could be flexible and have links to a concise edition, and a link from the concise article to the full wikipedia article, I think this would greatly help a lot of people.
How does this differ from MOS:LEAD? The task needed to get a full lead written on every article is too tremendous. Not only would the concise edition have shorter entries than the average fully written lead but it would start from scratch and from my viewpoint growth would be more controlled, producing fully written concise short articles before submitting. Not to mention starting with core articles the 1911 Britannica edition would have had,or whatever, and focusing on the important stuff writing an effective summary to start with. That's what I envisage anyway, to get a virtual traditional encyclopedia format on the web which has more topics covered than ever before, much like Britannica Concise edition or Micropedia, but with an eventual scope far greater than ever created before and a consistent reference point in which articles are consistently of a similar length and reliablility. So the benefits of starting a new project far outweigh commitment to WP:LEAD, its not the same thing at all. Not to mention that a concise wiki edition I envisage a virtual book format with the ability to present several articles on a given topic on the page at once to give nice summary overviews. A category for instance could feature summaries of every entry in it, in A-Z order. You can't achieve that with WP:LEAD. (Blofeld)
Also note the recent study: Is Wikipedia Too Difficult? Comparative Analysis of Readability of Wikipedia, Simple Wikipedia and Britannica AndreasKolbe JN466 16:06, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I really don't see the point of this. I don't see how we make a better encyclopedia by carefully editing our articles to provide less information. I oppose the proposal. Adam Cuerden (talk) 10:38, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Clearly you fail to understand. There is a big difference between a long comprehensive article and a short concise article. The function is completely different. Encyclopedia Britannica also produced a Concise edition as they know that in providing knowledge the public will have differing expectations of what they want from an encyclopedia, a basic overview or a detailed coverage of an article. We should provide both.(Blofeld)

A full, well organized multisection article can be deep. Deep thoughts are good; we Wikipedians are not the only group who like to see deeply into things. The benefits of such an article, however, make certain demands. The reader must have time and comfort to think the required deep thoughts, and a big screen is a tremendous help. I often use the encyclopedia that way.
However, shallow treatment as in an encyclopedic dictionary also has its place. I use Wikipedia in such a way on the road, following the [W] signs on Google Maps on my smartphone and tapping to learn what's in that place. Depth is not what it's about. The screen is tiny and has sunlight falling on it or raindrops or something. My fingers are getting stiff because my gloves are off. There's no shoulder on this bridge for me to park out of traffic, so I must resume pedalling as soon as the traffic light goes green. Dusk is approaching and will force me to fold the bike and take a train. This is where I need a terse description, not a subtle, insightful comparison of points of view.
That's not the only place. On TV news the other day the Chairman of General Electric mentioned the good work of BRT. Who? Smartphone brought up the Wikipedia disambiguator. Case closed. Typhoon Bopha struck Mindanao. Where's that in relation to Borneo? Wikipedia infobox has a map. Surely I'm far from the only one who wants a quick lookup. This purpose will only become more common as more millions carry a small screen in their pocket or hanging on their belt as on mine.
Which brings up the question of how to serve this usage. Create ten thousand or a million new small articles in which "all prose must be spare and true?" What, is this easier than trimming down, beefing up or otherwise improving the intro to ten thousand or a million existing articles? And if it is done, will millions of casually enquiring minds know how to Google to find that version instead of the old full Wikipedia version? No. Better intros will be easier to do and will bring greater service to minds that need an encyclopedic dictionary. Jim.henderson (talk) 04:16, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I believe that there should be a lot more emphasis on LEADs given the number of people who just look at the LEAD and infobox when glancing at an article. I don't see much difference between a concise wiki and a focussed LEAD drive. It might be the case that the mobile version of wiki might want to give a LEAD only alternative.--TonyTheTiger (talk) 00:45, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes. Wikipedia Zero is a similar effort to make a Wikipedia with shorter articles, with the aim of cutting mobile access cost. For me, the Beta version of the mobile version of Wikipedia serves well. Ordinary Google Mobile Search finds the article, and I see the intro and TOC. Only a section that I want gets downloaded. These various aims, far as I see, can all be served best and easiest by intro improvements. Editors not ready to think carefully about each of many thousands of articles (I'm not) can apply a judicious sprinkling of en:Template:Inadequate lead and its related too short, too long ecc. templates and hope the article's knowledgeable watchers will catch the hint. Naturally, such maintenance flags need maintenance; often various requested improvements are made without taking down the flag. Articles that a bloated due to disregarding en:wp:split are a similar problem but separate since readers won't see them when they only want a brief lookup. Jim.henderson (talk) 16:39, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree. I think that renewed focus on quality summaries in the lead section of articles would be of greater benefit. By the way, we also have The Simple Wikipedia, which sounds remotely similar to what we're discussing here. Go Phightins! (talk) 01:55, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

I use the Simple Wikipedia whenever I want a quick overview of a subject and its very good . I think what is being proposed is a duplication. Lumos3 (talk) 12:15, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I think that this concise Wikipedia proposal as well as Simple English Wikipedia should be turned into a Wikikids project ! (See Wikikids#Proposal to merging existing project to Wikikids). Astirmays (talk) 22:24, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

People do need a concise summary of important facts. In my opinion, the solution is improving Wikipedia's lead sections by reviving WikiProject Introductions. 22:24, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Seems we've pretty much agreed that there's no need of yet another shorter version of en. Better Leads can meet most of the goals, and the others are already addressed in Simple. For the latter, see Tim Dowling, "Wikipedia too long-winded for you? Try the simple version," The Guardian,14 January 2008. As for whether Simple should be reclassified as a kiddie project, I'm indifferent. Jim.henderson (talk) 05:40, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, what with Leads, Simple, Zero, and now perhaps Concise, we'll have a proper zoo of multiple, overlapping, unmaintainable versions with unclear (aka totally undefined) relationships to each other. The idea mentioned above of an app to process leads into an auto-generated concise presentation (heck, with wikilinks to the rest of the article...) would be far more sensible. Chiswick Chap (talk) 10:25, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
The wikipedia mobile app for Android does exactly this (I think the other mobile apps do too but haven't seen them). The Lead section, the infobox and the table of contents downloaded. Click on a section head in the TOC to see that section. I think this works very well and our efforts would most usefully be spent on improving the Intros rather than trying to start a new project. If necessary updating w:WP:MOS:LEAD to put more emphasis on reuse. Filceolaire (talk) 12:27, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Is there a list of shortened, epitomized, mobilized, expurgated, school-friendly, child-proof or otherwise smaller en:English Wikipedias? Should it be in a place where proposers can easily find it? Jim.henderson (talk) 23:22, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia for schools was done in 2009 by an organisation in England with a curated subset of Wikipedia articles suitable for schools and sized to fit on a DVD. It is still being distributed Filceolaire (talk) 12:27, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
How is this list lacking in that regard? Or this one? --Waldir (talk) 15:34, 29 December 2012‎ (UTC)
  • The differences between this and a lead are fairly small, but for example, a Microwikipaedia would include just a few carefully selected references, one or two carefully selected images, and one or preferably zero infoboxes. It would preferably have direct links to sections in the full article scattered throughout. It should look and act like a document that you could read or print on its own, without having to have the rest of the page there to back it up. And, technically, you should be free to quickly edit the entire document without having the default problem of not being able to edit the first section without being bogged with the others, and without worrying about edit-conflict (technical or ideological) with people who are interested in maintaining the full length article. Wnt (talk) 15:07, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Interestingly, the other day I was browsing Wikipedia on my phone, and I thought to myself, "A well written lead really is all I need to load". I would rather see energy spent on ensuring leads for a core subset of articles are well written capsules of the longer article, with possibly some ajax magic so the mobile site only loads the lede by default, than starting a new fork for this. Gigs (talk) 18:03, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


Just like the Simple Wikipedia, this project will not attract major attention, and will remain unknown to 99% of people. Any effort put towards it will be wasted, pure and simple. Second, I would like to see some scholarly studies proving the point that Wikipedia article are too long. What I recall from the studies I've seen was the criticism that Wikipedia articles are badly written (poor language), but praise that they are more comprehensive than Britannica. The idea of producing Britannica-length articles seems like the "worst of both worlds". PS. We already have concise elements in the article, they are called "leads". --Piotrus (talk) 10:50, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Comprehensiveness is a good thing, and Wikipedia's comprehensiveness has been studied academically and praised, but it isn't the only good thing. A reader who has only the vaguest idea what GPS is, will benefit by reading simple:Global Positioning System before the comprehensive en version. Similarly Wikivoyage gives a casual stranger a better idea of what Brooklyn is like, than Wikipedia's version, especially one who carries a tablet or other small screen. Yes, a big comprehensive article serves insiders well, but many readers want to learn about topics in which they are clueless.
Yes, inattention from editors and search engines is the major reason for Simple's poor performance. Yet another shortened Wikipedia (thanks for the lists) would suffer even more, so the shortcoming that this proposal addresses is important even if it's a poor answer. Perhaps when editing a long, comprehensive article, we should check for a worthy Simple version, and link to it at the bottom of the intro. Jim.henderson (talk) 13:23, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Not sure how useful this would be, but I think it should be formulated as a proposal to replace or transform simple English Wikipedia, rather than as a completely new and separate proposal. I don't think that there's much possibility that both this and simple English could both be thriving projects at the same time... AnonMoos (talk) 02:47, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

I agree with speakers above (and claimed the same years ago) that “Simple English Wikipedia” is a failure. I do not think that one should repeat the experience of simple.Wikipedia where the privileges to rollback and block editors were granted to 13-years-old button-pushing adolescents who did not have any responsibility but to their leader. No more people’s projects, please. Even Wikipedia, with established communities and its nowadays reasonable content, can fell to incompetent IPs and red-faces editors in years to come if current trends will continue; I think, not only the (standard) English one, but other language editions too. If to start new projects with such anti-inclusionist agenda, then a board of editors should transfer appropriate content from Wikipedia, not to make yet another wiki editable to everyone in the Internet. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 13:42, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

  • As with others, I think Simple is little more than wasted resources and feel this concise idea will be the exact same thing. As others have noted the real difference between "concise" Wikipedia and the regular one is the quality of the lead. You don't need to create a new and redundant project to rewrite lead sections in Wikipedia. Resolute (talk) 13:37, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Think mobile, where size matters[edit]

Hi, I heartily support this proposal. Thinking of it and reading through some very good abjections here's my 2 cents. We don't access data the same way we did 15–20 years ago. We have the technology and capacity to browse way more information than ever before, our attention spans are getting shorter, and our needs are changing. It's seems that there is a place for both the shorter, concise (possibly drier) version of wiki and certainly the standard version we have today. I see several benefits of having a concise format: We (Wikipedia) are competing (along with everybody else) for people's attention and time, and in many cases for contributions/participation (social networks). Google KnowledgeGrap is a good example of how short, minimal information might (in some cases) provide enough information to someone not looking to getting into a deep dive. But, the most *important aspect* of this conversation imo, is that it provides Wikipedia with an excellent model for mobile friendly content.
As we increase our presence in mobile (ie. Wikipedia Zero) we'll need to convert most/all of our content into a mobile-friendly format - where a 13k words Ayrton Senna entry is easily read on a desktop computer, a kid in Angola will never get through it on his Nokia. Small is a global trend, as screen sizes get smaller (smart phones, mini tablets) and the manner in which (time, place, purpose and use) we access content is more flexible/parsed (checking news/email while waiting for the bus or in line waiting for coffee) thinking of Wikipedia only as a traditional book or comprehensive article might be limiting us. I also think there is potential with a shorter format to appeal to a broader audience of not only readers but also contributors - who might feel a leaner more accessible WIki format is more manageable. There is much speculation and many "ifs" here but the alternative (not doing it) will likely result in attrition of Wikipedia's use/contribution from a population that's spending an increasing amount of time on mobile devices, and we might be missing out on the new populations we so strongly want to engage, and these are coming in from mobile where content size matters. That said, WikiConcise, Simple English Wiki, WikiBriefs, WikiShorts or WikiLight, I'd like to be a part of this project if it ever takes off. Slventura (talk) 01:14, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Excellent thoughts and an accurate perspective, I agree completely. (Dr. Blofeld)

Large, stationary screens like the one I'm looking at now are not less used than in previous years, and won't be. Rather, there's a trend to diversity. Small portable screens like the one I pulled out of the pouch on my belt six hours ago (to look up some locations in Wikipedia) are used on the street or in other circumstances where their merits are relevant, usually by the same people. So, we've got to serve both the needs of quick lookup and those of reflective study. Improvements in intros and Simple are the way to do that.
Simple English Wikipedia is seldom read today, and is seldom good enough to deserve more readers. If it's improved with a wish for brevity rather than for restrictive vocabulary, few will object in the usual case of articles so poor that improving in one of these directions will automatically improve them in the other. When much of it is so improved, we can expect a receptive attitude for motions to change or broaden the stated intention (or even the name) of that version. Jim.henderson (talk) 23:49, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it makes sense to graft an inconsistent goal onto an old and established project, even a not very useful one. Besides, technically, it would be a lot easier to start and use a Micro: and Micro talk: namespace in Wikipedia than to begin a whole new project - for example, to have access to all the local images from existing articles, such as Fair Use illustrations. (Note that I am assuming this project is intended solely for conciseness - if there's some veiled agenda to make a "safe" Wikipedia here, obviously you should do that on another site that doesn't have such ready access). Bottom line is that every goal of digesting Wikipedia should have a different copy, and should copy freely from others to get up to speed - whether it is mobile phones, brevity, easy comprehension by foreigners, even censorship, whatever shadow Wikipedia casts will depend on where you stand. Wnt (talk) 15:12, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I very much agre with Wnt. Diversity is what is needed, and the Micro: namespace idea, and the "primerpedia" idea, are the best I've seen in this page. (Combined with the 2-12 words that Wikidata uses for descriptions). Covering all the desired sizes, would be ideal. (This is the reason that people fight about so many things on Wikipedia - "ideal length". Inclusionism (exhaustive information) vs Exclusionism (core details only).) By providing all the desired options, we might avoid the constant conflict of trimming/adding in the quest for "ideal" length.
Automated usage of the lead-sentence or lead-section will always give erratic results, size-wise. But it is the most practical option, and would scale across all the languages, and require very little extra effort.
Relatedly, I made a list of "minitext standards" a while ago - I've now posted it on English Wikipedia's Reference Desk, asking if there's a proper article title / home for such a thing. Quiddity (talk) 00:24, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Prepare a conciseness plan for a WMF initiative to deploy[edit]

In order to get proper focus with WMF, then there needs to be a comprehensive "Conciseness Plan" which engages WMF resources, as a long-term priority of managers, developers, assistants, ambassadors, etc. For example, the developers might need to create a new type of edit-screen, which is better-suited to concise writing, perhaps with "conciseness analysis" and a word-count feature to indicate how large the page is becoming during edit-preview. Another issue might be a "copy-lede" button to extract from another full-length page. By having an entire user-interface design, engineered to the "Wikcropedia" mission and goals, then more attention could be focused on Concise WP, with tangible screens and gadgets to inspire "talking points" about all the related issues. It might seem ironic, or even contradictory, for a Concise WP to become an elaborate WMF initiative, but I think that is needed to apportion the adequate level of long-term support, beyond the work of a WikiProject which might fizzle out and leave future articles with no related "Concise WP" interwiki pages. Begin with the ideal vision, for the best possible Concise WP with maximum developer support and clever methods to display data, such as topics displayed as most-recent first/last, and then negotiate to what is actually doable with current technology and resources. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:21, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Arguments against focusing on leads[edit]

Many of us have argued that we should improve leads of Wikipedia articles, instead of creating a parallel project. But I haven't seen here any arguments opposing our view. In other words, why do we need a new project? Why improving article leads isn't good enough? --NaBUru38 (talk) 17:43, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

The article lead isn't designed to be a standalone thing. You don't decide on a limited list of images and references to go with it, nor is it designed to be able to be displayed by itself. Also, some of the people seeking a concise encyclopedia would not want to include the lead for every article, just a small subset they think are most important. Since there are still people in the world without ready access to internet, it is not useless to do that, I suppose. Wnt (talk) 03:56, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
My argument would be that wikipedia contains an awful lot of junk, many sub stubs of dubious notability will never be expanded or can't be expanded much because they're not really notable. Pop culture trivia and non notable low league footballers and TV characters etc would have no place in a real encyclopedia. The size of wikipedia means that getting all articles leads up to scratch is far from likely. Because of the inconsistency in article notability and content, wikipedia will always look a little rough around the edges many articles. I want a proper book format encyclopedia which cuts the crap and focuses on the traditional stuff more which is easily accessible with a consistent concise wording and layout like a published book and doesn't involve the massive article loads we have on our big topic (and cruft) articles which makes access by phones etc easier.. Such a project would be best started from scratch, the problem is attracting editors like simple wikipedia which means I'd favour a different mode within wikipedia itself which allows you to browse a concise book version on the same site with a link to the full article at the bottom of each segment. Dr. Blofeld (talk) 17:06, 21 June 2013 (UTC)


I was directed to this page by an editor of Wikipedia. If I had known of Concise Wikipedia before I would have not started kwikpedia. However, just not say I have not tried here it is In short my idea is to set up kwikpedia as a non-profit organization but the site will run ads and all the profit will be donated to charity. If kwikpedia had only 5% of Wikipedia's traffic lots of money would be donated. I still think it is a good idea but I don't mind if you shoot the idea down - actually I'd mind but only a little bit :) as this is life - so I can move on. If I cannot convince anyone else on the merits of the project, this definitively means the idea is not viable at all. -- 05:07, 27 November 2013‎ User:Together8

A summary of existing short-options, using an example[edit]

(In an attempt to summarize much of the above, plus some of my thoughts...)

We currently have a few in-house methods of summarizing things, and a few automated-excerpt-tools.

Using w:Isaac Newton as an example:

Custom Written Content
Location Guidelines Output
Wikidata description Wikidata:Help:Description#Length: "In most cases, the proper length is between two and twelve words" "British physicist and founder of modern classical physics"
Persondata short description w:WP:Persondata#Short description doesn't specify a length; just "concise but informative" "English mathematician, physicist, and astronomer"
Disambiguation page blurb w:MOS:DABENTRIES: "Keep the description [...] to a minimum" w:Newton: "Isaac Newton (1642–1727), English physicist, mathematician, alchemist, and philosopher"
Article-based Content
Location Guidelines Output
First sentence w:WP:LEADSENTENCE Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (/ˈnjuːtən/;[8] 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727[1]) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution.
First paragraph w:WP:LEAD Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (/ˈnjuːtən/;[8] 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727[1]) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the invention of the infinitesimal calculus.
Lead section w:WP:LEAD#Length: 1-4 paragraphs [4 paragraphs...]
Navpopups excerpt Length is controlled by a user-customizable variable (popupMaxPreviewCharacters); the default is 600 characters Sir Isaac Newton ( ; 25 December 1642 20 March 1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics.
Hovercards Uses mw:Extension:TextExtracts to get "2 sentences". Sir Isaac Newton (/ˈnjuːtən/; 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Old Internal search  ? Sir Isaac Newton. PRS MP (ˈ | n | j | uː | t | ən 25 December 1642 20 March 1727--) was an English physicist and mathematician who is ...
New Internal search  ? (see bugzilla:61669 for the current wonky extract) Sir Isaac Newton Godfrey Kneller's 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton (age 46). Born 25 December 1642[NS:
Google search  ? (140-160 characters? 20-25 words?) Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (/ˈnjuːtən/; 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the ...
Google Knowledge Graph  ? (20-30 words? Manually copy-edited?) Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution.

Plus Reasonator and w:DBpedia:

Plus the three external-tools, mentioned further above:

So, that's what we've got, afaik.

As I and others have suggested previously, solving this perennial proposal by utilizing/improving the existing options, rather than creating yet another option, would probably be the most practical direction to take, and would also scale well across all the other languages. (Reduce reuse recycle!). HTH. Quiddity (talk) 02:20, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

That's wonderful, Quiddity, thanks for doing this! I believe our best bet, to avoid duplicating work, is to extract the current Wikipedia content and clean it up using smart heuristics. In that vein, I think it would be interesting to make a list of the techniques used an the specific rules they employ. Also, if we manage to get a blurb visualizer with editing capability (through OAuth), we could ensure that the Wikipedia content is improved if any changes are made to make the blurb-only view useful. This means current tools using custom text (disambiguation pages, Wikidata description, etc) could transition into extracting the content directly from the article, too. Everybody wins! --Waldir (talk) 18:14, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
@Waldir: Thanks! And also thank you for the recent work on Primerpedia, and updating the page above - looks good :)
I'm not sure who/where else to ping with this existing info, nor how to find out the techniques used by the systems. Please feel free (nay, encouraged!) to update the tables above with anything useful, and invite anyone that might be able to put it to good use.
I think the "custom written" section will always need to exist (a 2-12 word summary), but it would indeed be nice to have that in a single location, and transclude that everywhere else. I suspect having it at Wikidata would be the most 'stable' - and then plug that blurb into disambig page entries - but I'm not sure. Quiddity (talk) 19:15, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
You're quite right about the separate one-liner description. While this could be merged with the WP:LEADSENTENCE guideline, it doesn't really accommodate all the variation (i.e. not all articles can be described in a "X is Y / X was Y" form that's easily automatable. Theoretically, this could be done, but I'm afraid it's an issue best dealt separately to avoid trying to change too much at a time and thus risking achieving none of it. For now, I agree that the best choice is to merge current one-liners into a single source, and I also agree that Wikidata should be that source.
As for the techniques, your encouragement is well-directed; indeed as I wrote that suggestion I was thinking of doing that myself, by looking at the source code of the various implementations, but ended up spending the time I had available working on Primerpedia instead. I'll try to provide some details to the table soon. --Waldir (talk) 14:50, 7 March 2014 (UTC)