I thought this would be a good forum to bring up some interaction
design problems with Wikipedia.
These are some of the problems I found as an active contributor who
also happens to be an interaction designer.
1. Wikipedia shows only the last edit of an article in the watch list.
This leaves the writer no clue of the edits that took place from
his/her base lined version. (Base lined version will generally be the
user's last edit on the article.). Some kind of visualization
technique on all the edits only can give the writer a sense of the
course taken by the article.
2. Too many entries in watch list make it very difficult to clear them
on a day. Some kind of prioritization needs to be done...like ignoring
the minor edits...or flagging
a. the articles which are more prone to vandalism or
b. an article where some real interesting edits are happening or
c. articles on which some of your trusted buddies are working on...
3. When you work on more than a few articles, it is very natural that
you might find a same set of people working on those or similar
articles. Wikipedia could encourage collaboration by allowing me to
watch any articles edited by my buddies. (Of course, only if my buddy
agrees to it, which I would think he would, for it is a chance for
both of us to write a quality article.)
4. When you start with an article, it is very probable that you would
be interested in editing related articles. e.g.: If you start with
Satyajit Ray, you might be interested in editing/reviewing the
articles for Bengali cinema, or Mrinal Sen or Italian Neo-realist
Cinema or the Apu Trilogy. One simple heuristic that could help meet
the similar goals would be to allow the user to watch all the articles
that link to a particular article or watch all the articles that have
been manually grouped as categories. The feature "Related Changes"
tries to do something similar, but lists the changes to the articles
listed only on your watch list.
I believe that encouraging people to collaborate better and giving
users better idea of how articles are changing over time would help
Wikipedia improve the quality of articles tremendously. Guess what?
Interaction Design can bring a real difference again.