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Sat, 29 Dec 2018 21:29:18 -0800

Yaroslav Blanter wrote in part:
>This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
>it is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
>complete. Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and
>without followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe
>notable topics and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in
>use.  Of course they still need to be made, but this is not such a big
>problem - there are plenty of school students who have their own youtube
>channel, if they can make clips, everybody can.
>
>[...]
>
>I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
>but on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
>articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
>read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
>categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
>needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
>references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
>and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
>Some of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a
>difficulty that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure
>this one can be solved. If anybody wants to solve it.

Regarding your subject line, I think
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines> very
clearly applies. :-)  No, the death of Wikipedia is not imminent.

I agree with a few of your points. For example, I agree that it should be
easier to edit from a mobile device or tablet. (Though the simple
counter-argument has often been that doing research sometimes does require
a physically larger working space and that's not really a fact to be
ashamed of.) I also agree that we need more and better multimedia within
wiki projects. In particular, we need better videos, better animations,
and better images.

That said, I'm not sure I understand what your concern is with long
articles or lots of text. As your post here and my reply hopefully
demonstrates, it's possible to have a long text and only interact with a
piece of it. In terms of user interface, it is trivial to hide or collapse
text if we want to. The default mobile view on Wikipedia collapses most
sections of an article and only the introductory paragraphs are expanded.
If readers find the default desktop view too overwhelming, we could hide
or not even load every paragraph on the initial view.

I think we want to be in a position where we have too much information and
can hide some of it or filter out the "noise" as needed, instead of being
in the opposite position of not having enough content and not being able
to adequately serve our readers' needs.

Or put more directly, if we have 50,000 words about the early life of
Britney Spears, someone who's interested in researching where she was born
does not need to read 50,000 words, they hopefully only need to read a few
words in an infobox or in the relevant paragraph in a section of an
article. Using Wikipedia and Wikidata as sources, we can also expand
interactions such as query/answer services that would allow a user to
simply ask "Where was Britney Spears born?" and get a direct, sourced
answer. The content is still the centerpiece, while we create and adapt
how the content is accessed.

A large part of what has made Wikipedia successful has been its open
license. Readers and editors enjoy and can embrace free content. If a
successor project comes along and can use the same free content in a
better way, we should welcome that. That isn't the death of Wikipedia,
that's a continuation and evolution of it, in my opinion.

And we should be open to a better future. The current model of having a
very top-heavy Wikimedia Foundation Inc. headquartered in San Francisco is
bad. While we never want to conflate change with improvement, there's
plenty of room for the latter.

MZMcBride



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