The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit entity behind the immensely popular Wikipedia, just announced a new project that is meant to make it a lot easier for inexperienced authors to contribute articles and edits to the project. To do this, the Wikimedia Foundation just received a $890,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation. The project will focus on making the user interface for editing and writing Wikipedia articles easier to use for less tech-savvy contributors.

While there are already numerous browser extensions that try make editing Wikipedia articles easier, the default interface and markup language of the Wikipedia can be quite intimidating for first time users.

Helping First-Time Authors

As Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, points out in the announcement, most of the current Wikipedia authors have a "moderate-to-high level of technical understanding." This, however, excludes a large number of potential contributors who aren't very tech savvy, but would like to participate in the project.

The Wikimedia Foundation will use this grant to create a team of developers and user interface designers that will work on reducing barriers of entry for first-time authors. Specifically, the team will look at hiding the more complex elements of the user interface from users who don't need to deal with them.

To us, this seems like a worthwhile project. Anybody who has looked at the markup language for the Wikipedia knows that is anything but intuitive and that there is quite a learning curve involved before one can start to contribute anything more than simple edits. Reducing these barriers of entry will allow a whole new group of users to contribute their knowledge to the project.