Wikipedia gets ready to change

Users of Wikipedia will see big changes to its interface and how it looks from next month, making it easier for people to change history and call Hitler rude names.

Registered users who have already opted into the beta will already have seen Vector in action already, a MediaWiki skin that will replace the Monobook skin that we are familiar with.

Wikimedia Commons will be switched over first, first English and then other languages, along with sister projects.

The aim is to make Wikipedia more welcoming and understandable, so new users will feel more comfortable editing the online encyclopedia. Mainly visual, the changes will involve different tabs and a moved search box. It should also make the website more standards compliant. 

A new editing tool bar should make it easier for users to put in links, and also ex6end the ability to make PDFs from articles to all users, not just registered ones. However, if users aren’t happy with the changes, they are able to change it back to the original skin if they so  wish.

This is just a first step though, and we should expect further changes in the future. Hopefully the changes won’t cause Wikipedia to bust and suffer a global outage which occurred only a couple of days ago, after its European data centre overheated.

It impacted all European Wikipedia projects, meaning that it was forced to move all DNS traffic to its Florida cluster, for which it has a quick failover procedure in place changing DNS entries.

Mark Bergsma, Wikimedia’s operations engineer in a post on Wikimedia’s Technical Blog said: “However, shortly after we did this failover switch, it turned out that this failover mechanism was now broken, causing the DNS resolution of Wikimedia sites to stop working globally. 

“This problem was quickly resolved, but unfortunately it may take up to an hour before access is restored for everyone, due to caching effects.”

Unfortunately for many it turned out to be longer than an hour. Hopefully the interface changes will be clean and won’t cause these kinds of problems for its huge user base.