Beta Features/Hovercards

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The Hovercards beta feature solves the core problem of users needing to open multiple tabs to gain an understanding of a word in the context of the subject they are reading. With Hovercards, whenever a reader hovers over a link to another article, a short summary of the subject and an image (if available) is shown to them, so that they can decide whether they need to visit that subject more fully before continuing the current subject.

There have been many requests over the years for a similar feature; there are browser extensions (see list) and one heavily used gadget (the more editor-focused Navigation popups) that also exist to solve this problem.

The Hovercards settings panel enables logged-out users to disable it entirely, and enables logged-in users to choose between Hovercards, Navigation popups, or disabling both.

Intended users and objective

Our primary users are the casual readers who browse around the Wikipedia without any particular goal, simply enjoying reading the articles.

Hovercards will be of use to any user of Wikipedia who browses around the site frequently.

Our product will make it easier to get an overview of an article before you decide whether or not to browse to it. Consequently, the smoothness of the user experience for these users will be increased.

Current design

Key differences to Navigation Popups

Hovercards is styled to enable easy reading. Currently, Navpopups' type-size is small and the margins are tight.

  • Create a consistent visual style with the article type treatment.
  • Emphasize the lead images, so a user gets an idea of a term using both text and image.
  • The action set in the gadget feels out of context, hence we need to validate which of those actions are useful for readers and editors.
  • Include the last edited timestamp that we have tested on Wikipedia mobile web, but de-emphasize it.


Open/Close delay timing

You can change the timing of how fast Hovercards appear and disappear (open/close delay); see Extension:Popups#Show/hide timing for instructions.


If you turn Hovercards off via the cog-icon, you can turn it back on at the bottom of any wikipage with the "Enable previews" link.

Screenshot of page footer showing the "Enable previews" link
Screenshot of page-footer

split this image into 3 images, and update with how it looks now

Logged-out users can turn Hovercards off via the cog-icon (settings saved in cookies or localstorage). Logged-in users who have the Navigation Popups enabled can also turn Hovercards off.

Hovercard settings dialogue. The "advanced mode" is not completed at the current time.

Future priorities

  • Article titles
  • Reference Tooltips (phab:T67114)
  • Cross-wiki Hovercards (phab:T67117), and subsection links (phab:T65792), particularly for Wiktionary
  • User names
  • Integrate with Navigation Popups

Design mockups for:


Analytics and instrumentation
  • Number of displays of the popup
  • Links followed while popup is displayed vs after popup dismissal
  • Links followed within popups

Greek and Catalan Wikipedia test

We ran a test where hovercards were turned on by default for Greek and Catalan Wikipedia for a period of 4 months. We have both quantitative and qualitative data for this experiment.

Here is a list of major bugs reported.

Known & documented issues:

Unknown and need more information:

  • Text alignment issue in certain scripts
  • Disambiguation text showing in some cases - this is when a page is just using plain indented/italic text instead of a template (e.g.). Or, if the hatnote template doesn't include class="noexcerpt".
  • Half sentences are annoying, people want more text 
  • People are unhappy with animation speed, some want it faster, some slower (replicating the existing Reference Tooltips options, would be best.

Known and hard to solve for

  • Issues with PageImages (…)
  • Map shown without dot (This should be fixed once Max and Yuri are done with the tile server)
  • Reference hovercards (user and special pages too) (Prateek and Bene* are working on a restructure)
  • Sub-section links (TextExtracts)
  • Make it work with Wikidata ( )

Qualtrics Survey Document

See also