Talk:Concise Wikipedia

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Keeping articles concise[edit]

I feel that a limiting the spectrum of reliable sources to books and such would be a better way of keeping articles concise than a word limit. Much of the bloat in enwiki is the result of users attempting to stuff everything the most recent news articles and tabloids say into encyclopedic articles. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 20:54, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

  • The problem is not sources but scope with data-hoarders: We cannot just rely on books because the next major event, hurricane or shipwreck (":en:Costa Concordia disaster") will need to use news sources for months. The major problem is that many editors do not know when to stop adding details, so there should be some "conciseness guidelines" for scope, such as "avoid listing more than 9 major films for each actor" or "omit spouse's parents unless very significant". Currently, we have extensive data-hoarding in many articles, even to the extent to have 2 entire climate-temperature-rainfall charts for some towns which have a high hill a few degrees colder, perhaps sourced to regional en:meterology books. Choose the guidelines so that "50,000" concise articles can be deduced as the obvious choice, rather than randomly pick member articles. -Wikid77 (talk) 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Putting aims together[edit]

What would you think about a Wikikids filling the need you point here, and putting aims together for better viability ? Astirmays (talk) 23:51, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

the different problems[edit]

There's a key problem here: The low quality of writing on major topics, which is hopeless without a different type of editor. It is extraordinarily difficult to write good nontrivial articles, & there are simply not enough skilled editors hereto meet the requirements. The education program was an attempt to remedy this, but though it has produced some good articles, the proportion is not all that much better than average, and it has so far proven impossible to get more than a very small number of people to continue writing after their first assignment. Probably there is more to be hoped for in the participation of professional societies. Even more difficult is the need for consistent high quality editing to maintain quality. I do not think a community editing project where anyone can edit will ever rise above mediocre quality. Our goal should be to not come below it--above is unreachable. The greater the degree of summarization, the more skilled the writing must be. Even among the scholarly societies, many more are capable of specialized writing than of general introductions.

There's a question of to what extent this should be a separate project, There are different needs: to take a very straightforward example, I sometimes want a correct brief reminder of what a movie is about, but I sometimes am looking for careful and detailed compendium of the available criticism and analysis. The simplest solution for the organizational problem is the consistent use of Summary Style, which to a considerable extent could be done with the existing material and a rearrangement rather than rewriting What I think is intended, and is probably a good idea, is to make the first level general article into a relatively short sketch, shorter than is now customary, and then to extract these into a separate project. I'd rather see this done within the existing project, as an extract version available to the readers.

I personally would never use it. I can only judge by myself: I read printed matter much more carefully than I do online, because I rely on my very rapid but very accurate scanning, and this can not yet be done well without the uniformity of presentation of good printing. The smaller the screen, the more impossible it is. Even for pure data, I want as much on a page simultaneously as possible, and I will select out of it by myself what parts I need. To some extent I'm the product of a different era, but I see many younger people just as good at it as I. What I want is detail, and then I can read only as much as I need at the time; but I want to know there is more. I would absolutely objet to anything done for simplification that would adversely affect the detail in the main encyclopedia. My view is that we need more, rather than less, at least for about 99% of the articles.

My own interest in a separate project would be in the opposite direct: a peer-reviewed authoritatively edited WP, essentially what was hoped for with Citizendium.

I have no personal use for an encyclopedic dictionary. Their only merit was their smaller physical size & cost as compared to a full encyclopedia. Now we have only the size to be concerned about. thus removing half the importance. DGG (talk) 02:28, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

That's not their only merit at all DGG. Not everybody has your skills of extracting important facts from bloated articles. You're an experienced librarian, not a school kid needing quick facts. Short concise summaries of encyclopedic topics would have more value than you think. You're right that a lot of wikipedia articles are devoid of text, but you have to admit that having a consistently reliable encyclopedia with similar length articles is a problem and wikipedia is failing to accomplish this at present. Seriously, 90% of articles I approach are either severely lacking or so bloated that they're virtually unreadable. I want something where you can get a quick summary in general browsing where every article is concise and easy to digest and learn and above all consistently the same length. You could argue that the purpose of the lead of wikipedia articles would accomplish what I'm looking for here, but how many articles have no lead or a lead which does not effectively summarize a topic? The vast majority. An extract version within wikipedia itself though would be a great idea. (from Blofeld)
I tend to agree with DGG. I'm not sure the solution to the problem of inadequate leads or impenetrable articles is to create yet another Wikipedia that has to be maintained in parallel. In my view a better strategy would be to start a WikiProject for improving the leads and accessibility of articles on Wikipedia itself. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:09, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
I also agree with DGG and think that Callipejen1's point on maintenance is well taken, too. Think about it: which is easier a) improving article leads or b) writing whole new ones on a different wiki? Now ask yourself what happens when the leads need to be updated but the majority of the updaters are on Wikipedia, not this other project. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 06:52, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Agreed with DGG, Calliopejen1 and Philosopher. Dank (talk) 22:43, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Me too. --Avenue (talk) 09:11, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

In order for a decent lead to be written effectively summarising the article, the articles themselves need to be fully written and this is mostly not the case. There is so much junk and bloat on wikipedia an encyclopedic dictionary type resource cutting out the crap and focusing on the stark main points is something never likely to happen on english wikipeda. The average length lead for a developed article is longer than I envisage. If you are keen on providing information and providing a flexible way to do this you would consider that some people would find learning in such a way easier if they want to learn generally about a topic, especially when checking quick facts using mobile phones. I would support a different mode within english wikipedia itself in a summarized version. The editors required to produce the summary articles though, you have a point about their efforts need on the leads of wikipedia articles though.81.105.63.121 13:58, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Simple Wikipedia has the start for many concise articles: Because of the limited 950-word basic vocabulary on the Simple English Wikipedia (swiki), many writers get tired of expanding text, so the articles tend to stay short, but often too short, as writers abandon the rest when simplifying an article. Of course, the trick to expanding swiki is creating articles for the extended vocabulary, and so that is what we have done, by defining "simple:inertia" as a word to be used in another article, but always wikilinked. On swiki, the limit is "simple structure" (few :en:compound sentences) while no limit to have only "simple topics" and so expect article "simple:Differential calculus" but written in simple style. -Wikid77 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Comments (from EnWiki Village Pump)[edit]

A sitewide commitment to lead and intro improvement would be more practical, IMO. An undertaking like the one mentioned in the proposal might be feasible, I guess, if it were done on a WikiProject-by-WikiProject basis, though there are many WikiProjects that are either defunct or dying. dci | TALK 01:21, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

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 growth would be controlled, producing fully written concise 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. That's would I envisage anyway. 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. Like a category would feature summaries of every entry in it. You can't achieve that with WP:LEAD.

The task of writing an entire new "Concise Wikipedia" seems at least as tremendous. A drive to improve lead sections doesn't have to spread its efforts thinly across all our millions of articles. Why shouldn't it also focus on core topics to start with, for instance? It seems like it wouldn't be too hard to write a tool that extracts just the lead sections for a selection of articles, either. --Avenue (talk) 09:11, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

That;s the idea, focus on the sort of articles 1911 Britannica would have had and up to date core articles up course, so we at least have a reliable consistent encyclopedic outline to build upon.81.105.63.121 19:48, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Lede sections get too big but consider Simple Wikipedia: In practice, attempts to use the top 5 lede paragraphs to summarize a topic have created a too-repetitive article, as if giving the ending to a storyline before starting the "Plot" section, and hence, it reads as too repetitious and "stealing the thunder" of the main article. Instead, a 10-paragraph article on Simple Wikipedia could summarize the whole subject, concisely. Because of the limited 950-word basic vocabulary on the Simple English Wikipedia (swiki), writers can become too bored when expanding text, so the articles tend to stay short, but often too short, as writers abandon the rest when simplifying an article. A trick to expanding swiki is creating articles for the extended vocabulary, such as defining the word "simple:tornado" as a word to be used in The Wizard of Oz, but always wikilinked. On swiki, the limit is "simple structure" (few :en:compound sentences) but no limit to only "simple topics" and so there is article ":simple:Theory of relativity" yet written with simple phrasing. -Wikid77 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Similar outside project: 'Thunkpedia'[edit]

I'm working on an not-yet-launched personal project, Thunkpedia, similar in some dimensions. The idea is all reliable reference info is welcome, but must be contributed in capped-size, well-labelled chunks (called 'Thunks'). The word 'article' is avoided because there's no intent to impose a 1:1 mapping from 'titles' to chunks. However, I expect that full-text search (and a novel dynamic re-ranking interface) will be the main discovery mechanism, and searching for a well-defined topic should yield a nice concise top-level summary thunk for that topic (and other related thunks, if the reader chooses to 'drill down' for more detail). The content will be CC-SA licensed for easy two-way sharing of well-crafted reference text with Wikipedia, and I intend the software to be open source (but not MediaWiki-based; the current prototype is Django/Python-based). More details are available at my project blog. Gojomo (talk) 04:55, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Wonderful idea! It's apity the blog isn't working at the moment. Hans Adler (talk) 09:14, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

More branching[edit]

I don't see the point of yet more branching, and confusing the users with more places to go. Not sure that the outcome of the concept is that different from Simple Wikipedia's concept, and I feel that there is scope for some mingling of ideas where a framework exists. — billinghurst sDrewth 08:17, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

It seems pretty clear that the goal is quite different. You could clearly imagine examples where something is concise but not simple, and simple but not concise. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 22:53, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Remember Simple WP has simple sentences not simple topics: Try splitting complex topics into several smaller articles, such as "Tourism in New York City" rather than a city article include all details. Again, because of the limited 950-word basic vocabulary on the Simple English Wikipedia (swiki), some editors become exhausted when adding more text, so the articles tend to stay short, half-finished, as writers abandon the rest when writing an swiki article. Of course, the trick to expanding swiki is creating more articles for the extended vocabulary, and so that is what we have done, to mention "simple:beagle" as a word in another article, but always wikilinked. On swiki, the limit is "simple structure" (few :en:compound sentences) and no limit as "simple topics" and so expect to find article ":simple:Lee Harvey Oswald" but written in simple sentences. -Wikid77 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Readability isn't one of enwiki's priorities[edit]

en:Wikipedia_talk:Five_pillars#Accessibility_and_equality – Judging from the responses so far, conciseness and readability aren't things they wish to prioritize. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 20:01, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

  • Yes, many editors want to rant off-the-cuff not simplify or trim text: Look at the difficulty of summarizing concepts into a fraction of the words, and consider the tedium if editors had to ensure that young readers had a proper introduction (and wikilinks) to more complex concepts (such as ":en:puts and calls" or ":en:Fundamental theorem of calculus") In many cases, writing concisely about a topic might require writing, perhaps 3, related but simpler articles to split a large topic into concise portions. I think the only hope is to keep expanding the limited 950-word basic vocabulary on the Simple English Wikipedia (swiki), by writing more concise articles about "big words" such as "simple:lawsuit" or similar. Then rewrite a major article from enwiki into swiki, using the bigger words always wikilinked, to form perhaps 10 paragraphs to summarize the whole article, but trim the rambling details (or lists) to keep it short, such as listing no more than 7 famous people from a town as names in a paragraph, not 7 bullet lines down a page. Only a portion of editors will want to ":en:Keep it simple" and so expect the work to be lonely and slow, as it tends to be on Simple Wikipedia. -Wikid77 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

To launch or not?[edit]

So far, at least so far as I can see, there seems to be some substantial indicators of support here, although there does seem to be some reasonable discussion about the specific guidelines and policies which might apply here. Being myself new to this sort of thing, what if anything is to be done at this point, or do we wait longer for some sort of specific goal, or what? John Carter (talk) 22:00, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

The thing to do would be to create a list of launch criteria we want fulfilled before it is minimally viable. When the list is checked off, we'll know it's ready. (My job is in large part writing and mending these kinds of requirements for individual features, so I am happy to help get us started.) Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 22:17, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
Leads are supposed to be concise and understandable by readers without technical backgrounds (for almost all articles); if they're not, I would think it would be simpler to fix them than to write a new encyclopedia, unless you have substantially different criteria. You could start a new encyclopedia, but I'm betting that writing an encyclopedia is something that this particularly community wouldn't want to do from scratch a second time, so there would have to be some way to jump-start it. Also ... you know the joke about "A 1000-word article will cost you $100; 100 words will cost you $1000"? Writing concisely is hard ... in fact, I'm generally not willing to try to write a lead if I don't already have an article to go by. I think the process of negotiating over article content is a necessary precursor to arguing about the lead, in general. Dank (talk) 22:20, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
Even if all we want is a site that replicates just the ledes of Wikipedia, then that is a set of requirements to design and launch around. I have a personal opinion that a new site with a concise requirement would require a different set of writers with different skills than Wikipedians who say, write FAs, traditionally have. And I don't think that would be a bad thing if we're shooting for brevity and clarity over depth and precision. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 22:26, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
To argue the other side, I take "anyone can edit" seriously ... so if there are writers who are interested in writing concisely, and put off by Wikipedia's culture, then I would definitely support their effort. Dank (talk) 23:41, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, I myself do still think that one of the final hurdles might be whether all the articles should be so concise, or whether it would make sense to have a one or more major articles on a given subject more or less intact, with the shorter articles being the more specific topics. So, for an encyclopedia on any given country, it might make sense to have most of the content of the main article on the country, as well as most of the content of the articles on its geography, history, population, government, etc., with the short articles being those about individual cities, population groupings, events of history etc. Alternately, for religions, my main field of endeavor, having the main article on the faith intact, possibly with a more or less intact reproduction of the articles on its beliefs, practices, history, etc., would make sense, with shorter articles on individual buildings, leaders or other significant personages, etc. But, honestly, does anyone really think that an encyclopedia on "Christianity", for instance, with only a 500 word article on that topic in and of itself, would be of much if any use to the average individual? John Carter (talk) 00:57, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Consider launching an update to Simple Wikipedia: I suggest to look at lists for perhaps 50,000 "core articles" and count how many exist on the Simple English Wikipedia (swiki), and measure how close those pages are to being acceptable as concise articles. I really think that swiki has the basic articles in place to launch a "concise-article effort" and then encourage people to read there for a simple overview of major topics. If advanced words are used on swiki, then the article does not get deleted, but might be tagged for further simplication. Check it out. -Wikid77 00:51, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • You know, over in the English wikipedia, I am trying to get together lists of articles which are found in other highly regarded print reference works on individual faith traditions, with indicators of the relative length they have in those works. Granted, any individual source would be potentially problematic and leave out some details or lump some content together in a rather odd or bizarre way, but maybe checking to see what other reference sources on a given topic discuss before starting a given "book" might be one of the more reasonable early steps, at least for those topics which are covered at length in reference books. Others, like Lady Gaga, we might maybe more or less follow a "standard" setup somewhat averaging out the relative length and depth of topical coverage in similar works on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and others. Maybe. John Carter (talk) 00:57, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I like the "relaunch Simple" idea, but how would Simple Wikipedians feel about that? They rightly feel some ownership over the project and its style I suspect. I feel like if we were to try and take an approach like that, we'd need to run a major RfC on Simple to get consensus for reworking the project in a bold way to enforce conciseness on the software level. Seems like it might be better to first get a measurement of how long the average Simple article is, etc. to get a feel for whether it's actually a good starting point for an agreed standard for conciseness. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 20:06, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Having worked on Simple WP for years, I think many editors there would welcome more conscientious editors to help, especially to add concise explanations of complex topics. A few on swiki have complained about wording, but no lynch mobs as at enwiki wp:ANI. There had even been talk of shutdown there, due to lack of progress. Hence, the welcoming attitude there now. -Wikid77 03:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Consider also: Would the advocates of a "concise Wikipedia" be willing to restrict themselves to using simple words and simple grammar where possible? Doing so may mean that it actually takes more words to express meaning. I don't see the goals of the two projects as at all compatible. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 13:38, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Simple WP allows some complex words (hopefully wikilinked, even to Wiktionary "simple:wikt:complex"), but prefers later simplification when possible, and strives to avoid all those zillions of enwiki categories from being copied to swiki. However, there is no restriction on article length, so if it takes a while to explain complex topics in more words, then that is fine, especially splitting a complex topic into 5 smaller articles. If there are no other objections, then let's get going. Start summarizing and explaining more topics on Simple WP! See: simple:Calculus. -Wikid77 03:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Simple WP is small and very uneven. Just a little bit of poking around has uncovered deficiencies due to inattention. In Simple:American Civil War I found a bit of legal history that was just plain untrue, and in Simple:Modem an erroneous definition. Simple:Telephone is perhaps too long but otherwise not bad; Simple:Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications is very poor. For example "DECT also provides Frequency-hopping spread spectrum over TDMA/TDD structure." As it happens I understand this, but come on! I am not sure Simple ought to have any article on the topic. Until yesterday, Simple:Hurricane Sandy (2012) was essentially a news report from before the storm's New Jersey landfall. Presumably such problems would afflict a new short WP even more, since even fewer editors would be working it. It's very hard for a new and separate online encyclopedia to prosper in the shadow of today's giants. Better to work at expanding and refining an existing clumsy midget. Jim.henderson (talk) 10:31, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
"Consider launching an update to Simple Wikipedia" Actually, we had just this idea to rescope "simple" as "for children" to launch Wikikids. Face-tongue.svg I think that the aim to produce and offer content for children (and let them be involved in building this content) can be a clear, mobilizing and justifying aim that can aloud a "separate online encyclopedia to prosper in the shadow of today's giants", be it used for other audiences as well. Astirmays (talk) 21:27, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

How many Wikipedia articles never get read to the end?[edit]

Apparently, readers read only 7 minutes, Research talk:Mobile sessions#The Optimal Blog Post is 7 Minutes. This analysis ("we find that requests tend to near-uniformly cease after 430 seconds of inactivity.(Fig. 6) This is in line with both the results from the ModuleStorage tests in RQ1, and Geiger & Halfaker's work on Wikipedia editors.") seems spot on:

So, tell me: How many Wikipedia articles never get read to the end? ;-) What percentage is just too long? (see en:Special:LongPages and tools at en:User:Dr_pda/prosesize / en:User:Shubinator/DYKcheck#Prose_length) How many minutes/words do you consider "concise"?  ;-) --Atlasowa (talk) 00:24, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Universal knowledge[edit]

Hello, I'm thinking in a slightly different direction and would like to create an encyclopedia collecting only the universal knowledge (like f.e. britannica, by the way "encyclopedia" originally meant "general education"). It should have around 100.000 to 200.000 articles, which are really relevant to "universal knowledge" and of course shorter than Wikipedia articles. Every article would have a length proportional to it's relevance, which can be 100 words or less for less important topics up to 10.000 or more words for important persons or countries (see britannica). My name suggestion would be "Unipedia" or something similar. If one is thinking more radical, the actual Wikipedia should play this role and the existing content should be moved to an "Extended Wikipedia" or "Complete Wikipedia" (most language version have still less than 100.000 articles).--Sinuhe20 (talk) 14:34, 9 February 2017 (UTC)