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Wikimedia Research/Design Research/Contributors Team UX Research/2016.12 New Wikitext Editor and Save/Publish

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New Wikitext Editor and Save/Publish

Daisy Chen


The new wikitext editor (NWTE) was developed to create a more seamless and consistent visual transition between the current wikitext editor (WTE) and visual editor (VE). The creation of NWE had 3 main goals:

  • Create a more seamless and consistent visual transition between WTE and VE
    • Reduce cognitive load on newer editors who started editing with VE and happen upon NWTE
  • Retain all WTE functionality so current users do not experience feature loss
  • Allow newer editors who start editing with NWTE to have access to rich-text controls in a familiar editing interface, while being able to utilize the wider editing functionalities possible with using wikitext mode

Research Questions[edit]

  • How do both newer and experienced editors feel about the NWTE experience?
  • Can all participants complete common editing tasks (edit text, format text, add links, add citations, save edits) correctly in NWTE without significant confusion or hardship?
  • Are editing actions and switching between NWTE and VE intuitive?
  • Do editors have any feedback if this editing set-up were to be live? Are there any essential elements editors feel are missing or existing elements that could be improved?
  • Further regarding switching editors; did users notice cursor positioning on pages while switching, and how do they react in regard to whether their edits are preserved or not?
  • How do users feel about the link inspector functionality?
  • Do editors tend to default towards VE controls or WTE ‘code’ to perform editing tasks?
  • What do ‘Save Changes’ and ‘Publish Changes’ mean to users in the wiki context?



Existing Wikipedia editors; ideally active new editors who primarily use VE.


Covering the following topics:

  • Add/edit/remove text
  • Add/remove bold
  • Add link
  • Save an edit
  • Add citation
  • Switch editors (if the user is guided to the control; adding user on-boarding for this feature will follow)

Keep in mind that you are working with a test Wiki and can experience bugs, slower processing, etc. If at any point you feel like a task is too difficult to complete, please say so and move on to the next task.

  1. Let’s imagine that you’re an expert on wombats, and thought you’d make some improvements to the wombat Wikipedia page today. Even though you may typically use visual editor, we’ll be working with another editor today. Tell us what, if anything, you’d expect to see after clicking on ‘Edit Source’. Then, click on the button.
  2. Tell us your first impressions of this page you’re seeing.
  3. Go to the first paragraph on this page. Please make the word ‘Vombatidae’ (in the third sentence) bold.
  4. Now, at the end of the ‘Characteristics’ section, please add the sentence ‘A group of wombats is known as a wisdom.’, then move on to the next task.
  5. It’s ideal when Wikipedia edits are supported with citations. Please show how you would cite that sentence you added in the last task with this reference URL: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/wombat.aspx
  6. Near the bottom of the page, you’ll find the ‘External links’ section. Please add this link (http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=4898) and make its display text ‘More information on Wombats’.
  7. Let’s say that at this point you’d like to switch back to visual editor. Take 1-2 minutes to show how you’d switch editing modes, and talk through your thought process.
  8. If you figured it out, now try switching back into source editor. If you didn’t figure it out, try and poke around a little more. Regardless of which editor you’re in after you poke around, move on to the next task!
  9. You’re done editing for the day. Show us what you would do next to wrap up your editing session, and make sure to describe what you’re doing and your thoughts on the process.


  1. What did you think of your experience editing Wikipedia today?
  2. How did the ‘Edit Source’ screen compare with your expectations of what it would look like?
  3. Typically, editors click the ‘Save changes’ button to finalize their edits. What would you think if the button said ‘Publish changes’ instead? In your own words, describe your understandings and impressions of the phrase ‘Save changes’ versus ‘Publish changes’. Which would you prefer?


Presentation of findings.