Wiktionary talk:Entry layout/archive 2009

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Figures, pictures, ...[edit]

Does exist any guideline about a picture which illustrates a word meaning?

E.g. like recommendations in Russian Wiktionary.-- AKA MBG 15:23, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

The most we have is Wiktionary:Pictures, which has only a little information. --EncycloPetey 21:34, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Thank you. -- AKA MBG 08:15, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Alternating background color[edit]

It was already discussed how it is desireable to separate languages from each other on pages on words of multiple languages. Horizontal lines are the used method now, but I think it would be considerable having alternating background colors for the languages (on monobook white and pale light grey). That way it would be easier to navigate around. Qorilla 21:46, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly. This should be doable via JavaScript, I imagine. I think it has been discussed before, too.​—msh210 22:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)


Sometimes I feel lost in long explanations and definitions: when you just want to find the (say) verb sense of the word, you have to go through all the noun definitions, related terms, derived terms, antonyms, synonyms, declension, quotations, example sentences. I suggest highlighting the now only bold repetitions of the page title even more (the ones created by {{en-noun}} for instance). Maybe giving them a pale background color (grayish or yellowish) would help finding where definitions reside. Qorilla 21:51, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

What do you think of highlighting the entire section commencing with the inflection line (e.g., {{en-noun}}) and including the definitions and the examples/quotations interspersed among the definitions (but not any subsequent sections such as Quotations, Synonyms, etc.)? Just offering the idea, though it's not necessarily one even I think is good.​—msh210 21:56, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I gather that the problem is with our truly long entries, like head. Does the table of contents help? Would you consider other approaches besides highlighting? DCDuring TALK 22:00, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I think (from WT:FEED) that some people have trouble finding the definitions among the other sections. I propose that we should change ===POS=== {{infl}} # Blah blah ====Nyms==== to ===POS=== {{infl}} ====Definitions==== # Blah blah ====Nyms====.​—msh210 22:07, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I am reminded of w:Donald Norman's story about the high-style door that everyone kept trying to push to open, but needed to be pulled. The solution implemented was a big ugly sign that said "PULL". He advocated a door design that looked like it was supposed to be pulled. I wish we knew how to do the equivalent of Norman's door design. DCDuring TALK 22:43, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
People don't look at the TOC, they want to jump into the jam immediately. It may also be better for people to spot other POS senses easily. That way they could see that there is still valuable information on the page by running down to the bottom and pay attention to highlighed parts. If there are no more highlighted parts they can know that all the remaining stuff is just "trivia" from their point of view. It is also a problem that level3 (POS) and level4 (-nyms) are not easily distinguishable, that is why I think an extra highlighting would help. Qorilla 22:24, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Some other on-line dictionaries have different structures. OneLook, for example, has quick definitions on the right. MWOnline forces you to pick a part of speech (and sometimes etymology without a hint of meaning) before letting you at a definition for a complicated word. To me there are at least two pieces:
  1. making sure that the landing screen makes the entry seem to be worth the anticipated trouble of navigating (especially for new users) so that users aren't driven away and
  2. minimizing the trouble of navigating so that users come back. DCDuring TALK 22:43, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
I definitely don't like the layout of the linked dictionaries. In Wiktionary it's good that it doesn't spare with space. Everything that is needed has its place here in a clear linear order from top to bottom, with headlines and gaps that let you breathe. What I don't like, is that entry points for the eye (definition starts) are hard to find. Either having a big distinctive bullet on the left of the boldword or highlighting the boldword are what came to my mind as a solution. Maybe both! Now that would be too perfect. Qorilla 23:28, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
To be clear, is the thing that you want to further enlarge/embolden in the "headword" that appears right after the part of speech heading (Noun etc)? What would you do in cases where we show two (or more) etymologies?
OneLook gets paid for click-throughs I think, but needs to get users to come to them first. MWOnline tries to have subscribers, but clearly depend on advertising. The advertising dependence puts them at a disadvantage.
One of the things we use to reduce the amount of vertical screen space is the "show-hide" bar, used for translations, related terms, derived terms, and see also. I've been advocating that and horizontalizing certain lists, like alternative spellings, which is near the top of the page. Also reducing the type size of the headings and relying more on indentation to convey the structure of the entry. I'm not sure that the Pronunciation section and sometimes the Etymology section are "paying their way" for the prime screen real estate they occupy. Thoughts? DCDuring TALK 00:21, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I for one like the clean and free feeling of seeing everything at once. Okay details like conjugation tables can be hidden, but the normal text (not tables) are nicer to me if seen always. Qorilla 00:42, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
That is just an argument for short entries. The issue is what to do when there are, say four blocks of definitions (1 Noun, 1 Verb for each of 2 etymologies), each with 4 definitions and one usage example, and with separate etymologies and pronunciations (2) and 4 separate related terms, synonyns, and translations. See lead. DCDuring TALK 00:52, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Is it not possible for individual users to customize the way headers (or certain headers) are displayed? Is it possible to set up something that wouldn't require changing the pages at all, but would allow users to choose one or more headers to be highlighted (e.g. Noun, Verb, Adjective)? --EncycloPetey 03:32, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
This capability (or potential) is one reason why I think we need to focus on the default view that we offer unregistered users and other newer users. In addition to the various current and potential customizations, repeat users have figured out other ways of dealing with our entry structure. Also, through survivor bias, the one's who remain and participate are the last people to have a perspective on ordinary new users. They aren't ordinary and they aren't new.
The folks who need our concern the least are the ones who have the most influence on usability decisions. DCDuring TALK 04:20, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
That is true. But even using Witkionary for a while now, I wanted to look up head (to see a special meaning) and it was real trouble to find what I looked for. Highlighting all the definitions, or just the headwords after the POS headers with a background color could address the issue. I am for only the headword as it would provide a catch-in entry point for the eye. Qorilla 08:41, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Look at apply, please. It has yellow highlighted parts where it asks contributors to help by adding definitions and stuff. I think that is what we need for the headwords, it is very easily spottable. Qorilla 08:46, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

I made a sample at User:Qorilla/Highlight to illustrate what I was writing about. What are your opinions about it? Qorilla 23:01, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure it's highlighted enough. (It's hard for me to tell because, as DCDuring mentioned, it's hard for me to know what the average user needs.) It's merely a backgrounded box, of whihc there are others on the page (the inflection line, perhaps, but also images, inflection tables, translation tables, etc.).​—msh210 16:13, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
This is not meant for the very-very-very first time ever seeing an entry at wiktionary. After seeing one single entry, one knows where to look for it (one will not look for it on the right side for example). The only problem is distinguishing it from all the headers and other gibberish. If one saw once that the word they were looking for was in a yellow-highlighted box and then came the definitions, they will be looking for it in other entries, too. What do you think? Qorilla 17:20, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Au contraire. I suspect that the very-very-first-time users are the ones who can't find the definitions, and the ones we're concerned about in this conversation. Once someone has found the definition once, he'll find it again, most often. That's my suspicion: lacking stats, who knows?​—msh210 17:39, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I think a yellow box with bold typeface is a very distinctive feature so a very-exactly-never-ever-heardof-newbie's eye will also be caught on it. Most of the things on the page are greyscale (white, black, grey). By the way I think it is also our goal to make the repeated use of Wiktionary also efficient. And such a highlighting could be a help for finding definitions. But let's hear more people. Qorilla 18:16, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
This approach might work, but it could not be applied to all languages. Can we assume that the users having problems are primarily looking at English entries? Otherwise, we'd be talking about revising every inflection line template on Wiktionary, and some languages (CJKV languages) cannot be represented in boldface because it renders the characters unreadable. --EncycloPetey 01:30, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't know why English would be special in this case. (There are of course more problems with English entries because: 1. that's the most popular language to search for, 2. they tend to be longer.) How much work needs to be done is unimportant. Right now we would need more people's opinion whether this would be useful, helpful. Then we can worry about how to iplement. Qorilla 09:51, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Idea for a more sophisticated navigation[edit]

Maybe having a nicer acttactive centered one-line header listing all the languages on the page could appear below the TOC. Then after the language header could be another line where links to the parts of speech would apperar. That way one could see at once which parts of speech the word belongs to in the given language. I somehow feel the TOC is too uninteresting-looking and full of unneeded information (on a long page the TOC is also a mess). Qorilla 08:39, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

The TOC is not part of entry layout, so this is an inappropriate place to start that conversation. The WT:BP or WT:GP woud be appropriate. --EncycloPetey 14:15, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the point was that this list would be in addition to the TOC (or instead of it, if we hide the TOC, which IINM we can easily using existing wiki tools), not a modification of the TOC, and would be hand- (or bot-) written.​—msh210 16:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Please take a look at my suggestions. The source code is not important, it was just thrown together for demonstration. Find it at User:Qorilla/Design (! see the newer and better idea below !).
What to look for:
  • Language selector at the top.
* Highlighted headwords. The two are unrelated Qorilla 21:35, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
This makes things a little worse for an English-language-only user (actually top-placed language user) by taking about lines worth of useful information away from the landing page. It could help it the non-English portion of the ToC was replaced by the language-access means. What about:
  1. placing a link to the language bar top right with the bar at the bottom of the English section OR
  2. having a 1/5-screen-1/3-screen width language pull-down on the right-hand side. DCDuring TALK 22:41, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I like the second idea better if I understand right. We should float a box to the right side at the top, containing the language links in big letters. The TOC could be used for this, yes, but it is not very tempting. It is full of different levels saying all the -nyms etc, full of section numberings... A cleaner language select box would be much nicer floating on the right. And maybe it should only appear on pages containing more than one language Qorilla 23:06, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
How does any of this discussion pertain to our entry style guide? This sort of discussion should be moved to an appropriate location where interested editors can contribute. --EncycloPetey 01:31, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Synonyms, antonyms and derived words[edit]

The problem is that synonyms aren't, antonyms are never exactly, and derived words are all different; and the layout neither allows for nor encourages description of the differences between words.

Basically, the current layout says you just stuff a whole bunch of words as a list in the right section, and the jobs done!!!

What job? What use is a list of bare words to a user? What do they mean? Are you really expecting the user to click through hundreds of words and read each definition? That's never going to happen. For synonyms, it barely works at best ("there are no true synonyms"), for derived words and antonyms, it's a disaster.Wolfkeeper 15:30, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

You might call it a disaster; others might call it a work in progress. Nobody pretends that it is a finished part of Wiktionary. Please recognize that many of our users complain about the length of many of our entries even without well developed semantic relationships sections.
What you might be interested in are Wikisaurus and discussions about it and the discussion at Wiktionary talk:Picture dictionary. See especially the link to a page from fr.wikt. DCDuring TALK 15:46, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with work in progress. On the contrary, I have a problem if some guys decided to write fascistic guidelines that prevent progress. Wiktionary is supposed to be useful. Some of these lists are hundreds of obscurely derived and rare terms. Apparently you/the guiedlines seem to think they should be exclusively in alphabetical order and totally without any information to support their usage and to differentiate between them for the user.Wolfkeeper 15:59, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
There is a potential problem with the arbitrariness of the headings and the use of headings (vs other ways of organizing terms) for the purpose. For example, for "semantic relations" (See WT:ELE#Further semantic relations.) we use horizontal lists that match wikilinked terms to glosses of the the definitions of the headword. We haven't done that for Related terms (etymologically related, usually cognates) and Derived terms. When we have talked about doing it for Derived terms we found it easier to agree on the separation of compounds, hyphenated compounds, solid-spelled morphological derivatives, and multi-word idioms than on semantic categories with don't really fit with the purpose of the Derived and Related terms section any way.
You may be on to something with respect to improvement of the content of these headings. I came upon -gram only because it was flagged as not conforming to our header structure, using "illegal" headings. The glosses are also not in accordance with our approach. Taking things one at a time, I could see using an approach parallel to what we do with {{sense}} in some or our Synonyms sections. That template would carry what you had as a header and the terms you had below the header would be listed to its right. As to the glosses, that is more of a stretch, but might fit with Wilkisaurus, which has a few people interested in it, but also some major conceptual issues, IMO. DCDuring TALK 16:21, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Wikisaurus is none of my concern. This part of the policy currently seems very ill-advised. It does not seem to be in the best interests of wiktionary or the users. Right now, you're systematically going through and removing important information, and once gone, that information may well never return; I'm certainly not motivated by a wiki with arbitrary policies that proclaim that everything is the same as a synonym, and that that this can't be changed because there's no 'authority'.Wolfkeeper 18:29, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Your views are ones that have been considered. We are open to reconsidering questions such are those you raise and to any proposals. WT:BP is the best place to raise questions to get the widest hearing. DCDuring TALK 20:27, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Including particles and articles in definitions and glosses[edit]

Headwords are not supposed to have leading articles (In English: a, an, and the) or the "infinitive" particle to unless they are indispensable. The issue arises most often for idioms. (See WT:CFI#Idioms.) (Articles elsewhere in the headword should also be viewed skeptically.) Definitions, on the other hand, should have them because they clarify the definition (or gloss). Whether in a given definition watch refers to, for example, a device for keeping track of the time ("a watch") or the verb ("to watch") is clarified by inserting these words where appropriate. The articles also can make clear whether a noun is countable or a proper noun. In some cases a determiner can serve the same clarifying function as an article and can be less misleading than the, which often conveys an unwarranted implication of uniqueness. Any is often useful in such cases.

I believe that the same considerations a practice should apply for glosses wherever they may be used, for example, in {{term}}, {{sense}}, and {{trans}}.

I would like to bring this to WT:BP for a review prior to a possible vote, but would like to get toward an actual proposal here so the discussion there can be more efficient. I would like to get clarification as to whether it should be even a guideline for other languages. DCDuring TALK 14:07, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

The practice I most often seen (as have followed myself) is to include initial articles and particles in definitions, but to omit these in the {{sense}} and {{trans-top}} template glosses. I agree that they are important for the clarity of definitions, but glosses are abbreviated forms of those definitions, and so the articles and particles are not needed in those situations. --EncycloPetey 22:31, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
I would hold that the same argument concerning cognitive load on short-term memory applies. In almost all applications there is an excellent chance that readers will not be able to distinguish instantly between a verb and a noun (or other PoS on occasion) and will not have anything on screen to augment their memory, requiring paging up and scanning, or hoping that the lack of direct understanding will not hinder their ability to find what they want. (BTW, the same applies to rel and der templates, which often need PoS included to prevent contributors from missassigning terms to the wrong part of speech or etymology.
Of course, it would be nice if we had a relevant fact base about user behavior that we all accepted that would make this easier to resolve. I can only hope that the basic statistics about error in oral speech give everyone some pause before making too many assumptions about how capable users are. I know that introspection alone never works because we humans are so good at optimistic self-delusion about our capabilities. DCDuring TALK 23:13, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Common misspellings[edit]

Are we allowed to list common misspellings of a word? Such as "memorium" for memoriam? -- OlEnglish 23:33, 5 September 2009 (UTC)


When Wiktionary:Style guide was created, I redirected WT:STYLE and WT:SG point there rather than to WT:ELE. First, was that appropriate? Those other pages I presume can be edited w/o a vote. If it was appropriate, my second question is whether it's ok to update the shortcut box on the main page without a vote. Probably needs a vote, but maybe not? --Bequw¢τ 17:36, 19 October 2009 (UTC)