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Proposal:Infographic interactivity

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

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The digital (not paper) format that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects use lends itself well to incorporating dynamic, interactive infographics and content. Though, the way the MediaWiki is set-up is not well-suited for incorporating and presenting such content. We are moving in that direction, in regards to supporting video, but many topics are suitable for interactive graphics (e.g. showing sea level rise). This something that traditional news media (e.g. The New York Times) has excelled at, in providing such graphics on their websites.


Originally mentioned at meta:Talk:Multimedia Usability Project Meeting October 2009

Right now, I (User:Aude) could create a really awesome (featured picture quality) interactive infographic or map (e.g. with Ajax or Flash), but not have anyway to submit it to Wikimedia Commons and use in Wikipedia. We are currently limited to static images, video, or animated gifs (yuk!).

Wikimedia projects should have a means of incorporating interactive multimedia infographics in articles, or as supplemental material.

Many traditional news media have excelled at providing such graphics on their website, while Wikipedia sorely lacks such content.

Examples of interactive infographics and maps:

These typically are implemented in Adobe Flash, but think that JavaScript/ajax approaches like w:OpenLayers would be feasible but not trivial to implement. Aude 01:47, 15 August 2009 (UTC)


In reality, most people scan web pages [1] and probably don't read Wikipedia articles word-for-word so they miss information.

Such interactive graphics are one way that digital encyclopedias (e.g. Microsoft Encarta) served their audience well, catching and holding people's attention, and are now used by traditional news media on their websites.

Of course, Wikipedia is already popular, but such graphics would help better retain and engage reader attention when looking up a topic and help better convey such topics than plain text or images. People do notice pictures and graphics.

Key Questions

  • Caching questions - With Wikipedia's volume of traffic, there are issues with caching graphics and how do we cache or handle such interactive graphics? These graphics may be more reliant on client-side rendering.
  • How to handle JavaScript? - How JavaScript is handled, in relation to caching, is also tricky. With the SlippyMap extension, it's been challenging to attempt to implement conditional loading of JavaScript or make the JavaScript code dynamically generated. With some of the MediaWiki hooks, I (User:Aude) can have the extension check for presence of a "slippymap" tag, and if true, then have the JavaScript addScript call added in the page header. But, when pages are cached, the addScript call doesn't always get loaded. So, for now, we are having the OpenLayers js included globally, but with that and jQuery and all the other stuff, it can get to be too much.
  • If we allowed graphics implemented in Flash or with ActionScript, there are issues relating to the format being not free and patented. Is the format open enough?

Potential Costs

  • Developer time, to develop the capability, and incorporate into MediaWiki and/or Wikimedia Commons.
  • Additional hardware - perhaps additional server(s) would be needed?
  • Server administrator time - to administer any servers that are added to support this?


Community Discussion

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