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Forum Talk:Style

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Style issues
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Discussion on all aspects of style, including formatting, layouts, grammar and template usage

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Change the wiki 'skin'?

It's possibly worth looking at changing the default 'skin' of this wiki (the design) to something else - e.g. what we had before late 2008, which was 'Monobook', or 'Vector', the current Wikipedia design. (Switching requires little work, since both are already installed, though there would have to be some tweaking of some pages here and there.) The reasons I've being thinking about this follow.

  • The current default skin, 'Pinkwich5', was created especially for Citizendium by Derek Harkness, who left the project some years ago. This means that there is no support for the skin, and no subsequent development.
  • The way that Pinkwich5 was introduced is somewhat murky. Larry announced that there would be a new skin to distinguish us from Wikipedia, and there seemed to be general agreement on the forums over Pinkwich5. But as Matt later said, what happened was that the people who weren't on the forums woke up and found a new skin that took some getting used to (to be polite). In other words, there was no vote or wide-ranging consultation. (To digress, this was another consequence of having separate forums.)
  • I have recently discovered a possible technical problem with Pinkwich5 on the horizon, which might apply when the wiki is upgraded (we are on 1.16.5 of MediaWiki, which is no longer supported). From 1.25.0, which is scheduled for full release in May 2015, they have changed the way the skins work. I have tried to use Pinkwich5 on a local copy of Citizendium with MediaWiki 1.23 installed on my PC, which brought up a warning message that 1.25 will change everything. When I tried to migrate Pinkwich5 over to the forthcoming way of doing things, I got more errors which rendered the site unreadable. Now, I don't really know what I'm doing, but it seems that at the very least remaining with Pinkwich5 will entail some extra technical work during any future upgrade of the MediaWiki software. We also can't rely on any other parties to do the hard work, since Pinkwich5 is unique to us. I have been in contact with Greg, who says that an upgrade is not on the cards for the near future, so when it happens, we'd probably be getting 1.25+.

What do you think? Do you use the default skin? You can try other skins by going to 'Preferences' and clicking 'Appearance'. John Stephenson 23:10, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

I don't use the default skin, but I do use one of the other MW installed skins. I agree with Larry that having a different look than the default mediawiki monobook is a good idea. So, CZ needs someone willing and able to develop a 1.25 compliant skin. Jones 13:15, 3 October 2014 (UTC)
Most of the installed MediaWiki skins are pretty stale. Modern, Vector, and Pinkwich5 are the only ones I find usable. (I think Wikipedia has started using Modern, though.) As part of my ongoing efforts to propose ways to attract and engage new Citizens, here's an idea for consideration: Have an open contest to design a new skin. (I would be willing to contribute towards the costs to have 99designs or similar service manage the process.) Christine Bush 22:41, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
If total cost not too high, I'd go with the contest idea, and would contribute. Change wiki name/logo with new look? Include unobtrusive ads? -Anthony.Sebastian 21:45, 11 October 2014 (UTC)
Whoa, changing the wiki name? You mean like re-banding the project? Surely thou jests. I would totally support a new logo. And unobtrusive ads would certainly be more honest than a fundraising spectacle ;-) Christine Bush 02:16, 12 October 2014 (UTC)
You mean you like the name? Surely this is a first. Hand-wringing over the name is a Citizendium tradition. (Exit jest mode.) I agree that a new logo would be nice, more interesting than changing the skin. I'm all for keeping the name. No one has ever suggested a better one. Ro Thorpe 02:38, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

[indent] During this December 2014 testing phase, the wiki is using the default Vector skin. I actually think it looks better. :) John Stephenson (talk) 11:32, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

A mobile friendly frontend

This site doesn't render properly on mobile devices, causing Google to seriously downrank CZ in search. IMHO | Extension:MobileFrontend needs to be installed (urgently). If it is a Mediawiki version problem, earlier versions of this add-on exist.Claus Bruentrup 07:02, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Yes, and a non-member made this specific point about us a while ago via Facebook, so I think we are losing some hits. The extension requires a later version of MediaWiki than we have installed, and I'm not sure Greg would want to install an earlier version of the extension. But it should be a priority. John Stephenson 11:24, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
In that case the only quick workarounds I can suggest are :-
  1. remove the donation banner completely, its taking up all the space "above the fold".
  2. shift the sidebar to the right
  3. Increase the font size by 4 points for the lede, and the article text by 2 points
  4. Tweak the CSS to add some basic HTML5 and viewport commands to resize for low width screens.
Mediawiki 1.16 is a huge millstone. Claus Bruentrup 11:58, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
There is 1 immediate fix needed, the blue-grey "Main article / Talk / Definition ... " template just under the article name is not resizing properly at different screen/browser widths. Its a "<"table ... width="100%" ">" causing the problem in the first row.Claus Bruentrup 12:08, 23 October 2014 (UTC)


I’d like to propose a change in the naming of musical ensembles, omitting the word The from article titles, such as the Beatles or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Including The invites people to upper case it in running prose, which most publishers regard as incorrect usage. As you can see from comparing the Beatles with the Beatles, this would also give our articles a smoother look than other wikis (as well as websites such as Rolling Stone). Ro Thorpe (talk) 01:40, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Any comments? Objections? Ro Thorpe (talk) 01:32, 23 July 2016 (UTC)

I've edited the Addicts (a band I'd never heard of) as an example. It'd be moved to the Addicts. Ro Thorpe (talk) 15:24, 23 July 2016 (UTC)

I'm not opposed to the change of style or move, go ahead Ro. Meg Taylor (talk) 23:58, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
I think it depends on the sources and whether the title becomes confusing. Whereas 'The Addicts' is obviously a name of something, 'Addicts' as a title might be taken to be something to do with addiction. In the case of the Beatles, I understand that both 'The Beatles' and 'Beatles' are trademarked. For the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the article is obviously unnecessary. John Stephenson (talk) 16:15, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
I moved The Addicts to (the) Addicts and then had to go out. Addict already redirects to Addiction, so I think that example works nicely. Ro Thorpe (talk) 17:41, 27 July 2016 (UTC)