Talk:Multimedia/Help:Listening to sounds

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One of the main things this page currently lacks is instructions for installing these plugins and players. Particularly the third-party plugins have very little in the way of this themselves, so we need to minimise the confusion they will cause to the general public. As Ray Saintonge put it:

"Geeks find it difficult to conceive how amazingly unobvious much of this stuff is. Help files and FAQs only manage to make the situation worse. They invariably answer all the wrong questions." [1]

Jimbo pointed out that

"We have great skills in explaining complex topics to interested users -- that's what we do, after all, and we're pretty good at it as encyclopedists. It seems likely to me that our ogg pages (the meta pages to help people install the software) could be very professional and user-friendly, and can be updated quickly using the wiki miracle to reflect the real needs of real users." [2]

If we provide decent instructions, downloads, and explanations here, we could actually be creating something that the entire Internet is lacking, not just the Wikimedia Foundation.

Hosting bits ourselves[edit]

Also mentioned has been that since some of these downloads have little other than project pages, we could consider hosting the various plugins ourselves, to avoid exposing users to sites essentially aimed at developers.


is a priority, I think. That's why I'm being a little pushy in defending the current help page, Wikipedia:How_to_play_Ogg_files. If the initial help page that users see is more than a single screen, than many users (who are often just browsing for fun) will give up.

A possible revised page might consist of:

"This page is for help if you're having trouble playing sound files on the Wikipedia. Please click on the kind of computer you are using:

  • Windows
  • Macintosh
  • Linux
  • other

and you will be directed to advice for your particular machine."

(the end)

--User:Opus33, Oct. 23 2004

This is partially a response to the above, and also to the comments on w:en:User_talk:Opus33#Sound help pages and w:en:User_talk:IMSoP#Ogg files. I was originally going to put it under the first of those, but decided that this part of the discussion was most useful here, for reference by other passers-by:

  • I can see your point about keeping the help page nice and uncluttered, and I agree that your proposal does better at this than mine currently does (however hard I try, I'm still a geek writing a page about technical issues). However, in being so brief, it suffers from some serious flaws:
    • It makes the unwarranted assumption that all "technically non-adept" users are Windows users, and doesn't point to anything other than Windows downloads. Apple Mac users, particularly, find this kind of assumption very unhelpful.
    • It implies that most users will need to download a whole new media player just to play Ogg Vorbis files. This is incorrect, since there are now simple plugins available for all the major media players, and it may well be that an inexperienced user will be happier staying with whichever of these they are used to.
      • For instance, the many people brain-washed into used to using Windows Media Player will probably find the plugin for that by far the most convenient thing on offer.
    • It links to this list of software at, which is completely user-unfriendly, and is likely to scare the average user even more than the current Wikipedia:Sound page.
      • If we want to seperate a quick introduction from a more comprehensive list, the list needs to be another page here, equally aimed at the average user. I think it's patronising to assume that the world divides into those who have no clue, and will do whatever we say, and those who are geeks and will play around with all sorts of random downloads.
    • The idea of trading choice in favour of simplicity, by saying "this one's probably good enough" is a noble one; but it's hard to choose what one download we should promote. (Winamp, for instance, may be a bad choice, because some users report that Ogg Vorbis support is missing from the "Lite" install) This is one of the advantages of creating our own bespoke "wiki-player" that does nothing but play Ogg Vorbis files; this could then be listed boldly at the top of the help page for those wanting a "quick fix".
  • Having gone through and listed everything wrong with your approach, I'm going to try and end with some things that are wrong with my approach:
    • It's too detailed. I do think you're right there, now I look at the page again - it doesn't look like it's just answering the one question of "how can I play this file?"
      • Your idea of splitting it into a choice by OS is an interesting one, but that might still leave too much on each of the sub-pages.
      • A clearer intro could certainly help, but how to keep the entire page brief without simply ignoring information is a tough challenge.
    • It doesn't seperate two scenarios: "I've never played a sound file in my life" vs "I can play MP3s, but not these ogg-y things"; instead, it tends to assume the latter.
      • Perhaps this is where we could make the split: "If you are looking for a way of playing sound files in general, see below; if you already have a media player (e.g. you can listen to MP3 files, but not the 'Ogg Vorbis' ones used here), you may be able to improve that player so that it can play these files - see page x" (only better worded than that, obviously). Still begs the question of what media players we should list first, of course, but we needn't even consider ones like WMP and RealPlayer that don't have out-of-the-box Ogg Vorbis support.
    • I'm sure, from an outside perspective, you can think of other ways in which my page "falls short" (so to speak). Please do tell me, and we can see how to work around them.

Right, that'll do for now. I hope this comment hasn't ended up a)overwhelmingly comprehensive and verbose and b)too negative; let me know what you think. - IMSoP 20:09, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)