Today, the Wikimedia Foundation enabled VisualEditor–the visual interface to edit wiki pages–for all logged-in users on the English Wikipedia. Now, we need your help to ensure that editors are informed about how VisualEditor works, and that they can find help if they need it.

Among the tools brought by VisualEditor, the Reference dialog provides an interface for editing references that is more convenient than editing <ref> tags in the middle of the page’s source wikitext.

There are various reasons that lead existing and prospective contributors not to edit; among them, the complexity of wiki markup is a major issue. One of VisualEditor’s goals is to empower knowledgeable and good-faith users to edit and become valuable members of the community, even if they’re not wiki markup experts. We also hope that, with time, experienced editors will find VisualEditor useful for some of their editing tasks.

VisualEditor has been available for several months now on the English Wikipedia, as an opt-in alpha test. A week ago, we also started an A/B testing campaign where VisualEditor was automatically enabled for half of the newly-registered contributors, while the other half continued to use the classic wikitext source editor.

Now, all registered users can benefit from VisualEditor without needing to explicitly turn it on in their preferences. Of course, the classic wikitext source editor remains available to edit both pages and page sections. While we hope that experienced editors will gradually transition to VisualEditor, this new interface doesn’t yet support the broad range of functionality that raw wikitext allows. We also appreciate that some editors may prefer to use wikitext; we are happy to stress that there are currently no plans to remove the ability to edit the wikitext source.

VisualEditor brings major changes to how you and your fellow contributors edit Wikipedia. In order to minimize the disruption, we’ve prepared a lot of documentation to guide users through the process. This includes a Portal page, a list of frequently asked questions and an extensive user guide illustrated with many screenshots.

The template dialog allows you to change template parameters in a way that is more robust than with wikitext, provided that the right metadata have been added to the template.

Early adopters of VisualEditor have provided us with a mountain of feedback, and we’re immensely grateful for your help. This has allowed us to work with developers to fix many of the bugs and improvements that you reported. Thanks to you, VisualEditor has been much improved, and it is in good shape for wider adoption.

But there’s also a caveat: not all browsers will be supported by VisualEditor immediately. Supported browsers include the current and recent versions of Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Note that Internet Explorer is not a supported browser at this time.

How you can help

You can help with the following activities:

  • Continue to provide feedback as you notice issues with VisualEditor.
  • Update Wikipedia’s Help pages — Over the years, volunteers have created many help pages to guide new editors as they figured out the wiki markup language. We now need help to update them so that they reflect the new editing interface.
  • Add TemplateData — Templates are one of the most difficult wikitext elements to edit. VisualEditor provides a nice interface in the form of a dialog where you can add values to a template’s parameters. In order for this to work automatically, however, metadata need to be added to the template’s documentation subpage. Usually, the information is already there in the form of a list of possible parameters, and it just needs to be formatted using the TemplateData syntax.
  • Translate and localize the documentation — If you edit Wikipedia in languages other than English, VisualEditor will soon be enabled on your wiki as well, and we need your help to make sure your fellow contributors can benefit from the documentation and help pages we’ve prepared.

The next few weeks are going to be busy, as we iron out issues and work together to adapt to the new interface, updating help pages and templates, and welcoming new editors. We hope that you’ll join us in our efforts to make this transition as painless as possible.

Philippe Beaudette, Director, Community Advocacy
James Forrester, Product Manager, VisualEditor and Parsoid
Wikimedia Foundation