Not long ago men walked from door to door in rural neighborhoods throughout this great American landscape to sell information in a leather bound volume of books. "The Encyclopedia", by its many brands, was at one point something printed (with ink, onto paper, stitched and bound) containing nearly every important fact about animal, mineral, person, place or thing that a team of highly educated researchers and writers could reasonably gather. The old days.
That was when people taught their babies to smoke, burned gasoline in ditch in their backyard, killed deer with dull hammers and believed in something called "God". And they paid for information. Thank goodness for today where our information is free and given to us by a team of regular citizens who gather information based on hearsay, gossip and passed down oral traditions from spooky ghost men.
WikiPedia is an information resource with no need for gloss or glam, but certainly the information could be presented with a tad more clarity or care. Nevermind the clear after thought of "design", but the information is so even and nondescript that the information ceases to be helpful and gets lost in the line by line by line by line nature of text slamming into your eyes. The "navigation" (thankfully so clearly labeled) takes a nice side-stroll with "Search", "Toolbox" and "Languages"; which only are different from the other text in their location in a small box to the left side of page. Images are at the least the same ratio but don't mingle well with their referring text (perhaps make the text that related to images stand out a bit more?).
As a tool, WikiPedia is amazing, regardless of the fact that the "facts" may not be accurate, the repository of information is mind-numbing; but how much more of an enjoyable experience would it be if you there was as much care given to the layout and context of the information as a well designed textbook?
As a tool WikiPedia is amazing, regardless that the "facts" may not always be accurate (or even correct), the repository of information is mind-numbing; but how much more of an enjoyable experience would it be if you there was as much care given to the layout and context of the information as a well designed textbook -- using clearly delineated areas for images, charts, timelines, headlines, etc? Sadly, the glut information contained within WikiPedia allows them to ignore any plea for an effective user interface, thoroughly defined hierarchy, or well implemented graphical language.
If I had the time (and if this site were my job and paid me) I would love to present an alternative design to this projects, to put a solution to the critiques, but since I can't and don't; I'll have to settle with a strongly worded (and hopefully informative) critique.