Criticizing Wikimedia and Wikipedia

Posts Tagged ‘usability

English Wikipedia (and most likely any other Wikimedia site running MediaWiki) has pages that are literally hundreds-times bigger than their actual content. I did a testing consisting of saving a blank Wikipedia article page and it ended up being 211,207 bytes of stuff to download (HTML, JavaScript, images etc.) for exact 1,249 bytes of text (menus, header, footer etc.). This resolves into a 169:1 ratio for article size vs. article actual content. Pretty big number, isn’t it?

The three largest files to download resulted to be index.php, which took about 32 KB, followed by 30 KB large wikibits.js and 27 KB of main.css. There were still more files of each type though. The HTML file with the actual page text was 17 KB. The Wikipedia logo did not download (I have no clue why).

The total download consisted of 19 files. The file type sizes summarize approximatelly as following:

  • CSS: 77 KB
  • JavaScript: 63 KB
  • PHP: 47 KB
  • HTML: 17 KB
  • images: 4 KB

This is an appeal to a current usability project that is under way over at I was really surprised by the bloat that web code brings to the user, while there is close to no AJAX on Wikipedia as far as I know which usually brings lots of size. The usability team should think of this rather “technical” optimization too.

Of course there are all those “mobile” versions of Wikipedia, which draw far less bandwidth and might be very close to the actual information size with their code sizes. However, I would deprecate the use of these versions for ICT4D in developing world, because of two reasons – Wikipedia is not critical application for expensive mobile data there and finally, as far as I know, none of these versions offer editorial access to the site.

Do we really want to neglect the technical aspect of Wikipedia’s great mission while it might cost only a few hours of optimization? Let us think about it!



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  • Jan Kucera (Kozuch): to zxq9: I think you are wrong. Facebook and Wikimedia are in exactly the same market - trying to attract new users. Finally, the Internet is only one
  • zxq9: Wikimedia does exist in the same space as commercial sites such as Facebook. But to imagine that they are literally in the same market is wrong. Faceb
  • Jan Kucera (Kozuch): Interesting insight, especially on the number of user interfaces! However, I think Wikimedia is in the same competition for users (readers and editors