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Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly? 370

Hugh Pickens writes "Megan Garber writes in the Atlantic that aesthetically, Wikipedia is remarkably unattractive. 'The gridded layout! The disregard for mind-calming images! The vaguely Geocities-esque environment! Whether it's ironic or fitting, it is undeniable: The Sum of All Human Knowledge, when actually summed up, is pretty ugly.' But Wikipedians consider the site's homeliness as a feature rather than a bug. 'Wikipedia has always been kind of a homely, awkward, handcrafted-looking site,' says Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, adding that the homeliness 'is part of its awkward charm.' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have built followings in part because of their exceedingly simple interfaces. Everything about their design says, 'Come on, guys. Participate. It's easy,' while Wikipedia, so far, has been pretty much the opposite of that. 'The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit' might more properly be nicknamed 'the free encyclopedia that any geek can edit.' This is particularly problematic because one of the Wikimedia Foundation's broad strategic goals is to expand its base of editors. While the editing interface is friendly to the site's super-users who tend to be so committed to Wikipedia's mission that they're willing to do a lot to contribute to it, if Wikipedia wants to make itself more attractive to users, a superficial makeover may be just the thing Wikipedia needs to begin growing in a more meaningful way."

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