Another Reason to Register on Wikipedia

Posted in programming at 1:06 am by danvk

The reasons that are typically mentioned for getting an account on Wikipedia are: 1) Your edits appear more reputable, 2) You can send/receive messages to/from other Wikipedians, and 3) You get a watchlist, which shows all recent edits to articles that interest you.

All of these reasons are geared towards writers, not readers. But there’s another reason for readers to register that I’ve never heard mentioned: registered users can add their own custom Javascript to Wikipedia pages. Why would anyone want to do this?

Reason #1: Navigation Popups Wikipedia encourages random browsing like no other site can. With Navigation Popups, you hover over a link and it shows a little preview of the article. Perfect for answering the “what on earth does that article look like?” question without disrupting your reading.


Once you start using Navigation Popups, there’s no going back. I often wish the rest of the web had these. For installation instructions, see Lupin’s instructions. The installation involves adding a single line to your User:/monobook.js page.

Reason #2: ISBNs When you click an ISBN on Wikipedia without an account, it takes you to a god-awful page listing every conceivable site you might be interested in. This is Wikipedia’s way of not picking sides. But I just want it to take me directly to Amazon. A user Javascript can do it. See this page for details.

Reason #3: Hacking! There’s nothing like being able to fix your annoyances on a site. One of my annoyances: while it’s obvious how to diff two specific edits with this interface:


It’s not at all obvious with this interface:


I know that clicking “7 Changes” will show me the diff of all those edits to the page, but I have no idea what the cur/last links do. So I hacked up a script to make it look like this:


Now it’s clear how to do the diff. To install this script, check out my monobook.js.

1 Comment

  1. Zion said,

    December 20, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    So I want to know does any body else use wikipedia and what for?
    what was the most informatibve artical you found there?
    What was the wierdest one you found?
    I use wikipedia mostly durring my lunch time at work to just read up on stuff. the most informative artical I found was on the mineing and refineing
    process for copper (because I learned about the job I have, and got to show off to co-workers ;p) the most interesting was probably on cheese witch I
    actualy e-mailed to my self so I could finish reading it after work.
    oh well, got wiki?