Wiki Aesthetics and Accessibility concerns

Both of the official Ubuntu wikis (and why do we have two of them when they both run on MoinMoin?) are objectively hideous to look at, especially in the context of modern web design standards and more pressingly, almost certainly in violation of many accessibility standards regarding typeface selection and contrast.

Just pick a page at random on the Community Help wiki (or take a look at this one that I just got done editing moments ago, and remain disgusted with the general appearance of, despite my best efforts) and find the nearest code snippet and you’ll see what I mean. I had to summon forth all of my code monkey wizardry just to get the URLs for the current daily ISO images to appear in bold and center the table to reflect that they are, indeed, some of the most important pieces of information on the page. The CSS for the Community Help wiki may have been a good effort when it was written, but compared to any relatively modern CMS it borders on unusable.

I’m also at a loss to explain why there’s been no talk of migrating the wikis off of MoinMoin and into MediaWiki, which would be the single greatest improvement to the Ubuntu documentation possible. After this many years of being pantsed by the Arch Wiki, I don’t think it’s unfair for most people to conclude that Ubuntu just stopped caring about documentation altogether. Among people who are inclined to contribute to documentation, two de facto standards have emerged in the way of syntax: Markdown and MediaWiki. I think it’s vital for us to recognize this and get with the program; the longer we delay the harder we make it on ourselves to get back into form and habilitate our image in this regard.

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I blogged about this recently in a post https://popey.com/blog/2021/03/ubuntu-wiki-reboot/

I agree. In my opinion we should create a new wiki, which still uses Ubuntu SSO for sign-in, and has anti-spam measures. It should have enough resources to not be slow and painful to edit like the current wiki (this is a given). A page structure and style guide should be available on launch. The old wiki have a big banner redirecting to the new one, and at some point (after 3-6 months) be made read-only, eventually to archived, with redirects from old pages to new. I’d also merge both the wikis you mention into one.

The community could help in migrating pages from the old to new wiki, and focus on pages which are heavily visited, heavily used or deemed of historical importance.

This needs Canonical IS involved. Or the guerrilla approach, someone in the community could just stand up a MediaWiki on a new domain, configure spam protection and SSO, and get started without having to wait on IS. Maybe do that on a domain which isn’t spidered by robots, and then when IS have time, hand over the site / database and get them to host it.

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I very much agree on last option you’ve mentioned, to eject the current wiki into the sun :slight_smile:

I think the concept of brewing your own beer very rarely makes sense, especially nowadays when available tools and infrastructure is “just there” and ready to use. the GitHub wiki infrastructure is also not bad btw, but prbly not that advances as wikipedia

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:wave: Community newbie here.

I wanted to highlight a performance issue, pages on wiki.ubuntu.com are taking > 10 seconds to load for me.

The caching configuration of the wiki being used, means that pages respond with this header:

Vary: Cookie,User-Agent,Accept-Language,Accept-Encoding

In the ideal setup, a cache saves a version of each page, and returns it to all users - this would be blazingly fast. The current setup loosely translates to “cache a version of the page for every new user”, which means it won’t cache at all.

I’d love to work with someone who runs/configures the wiki to improve this!

Apologies this comment is on a tangent to accessibility, but seems to be the most recent topic discussing the operation/potential migration of the wiki.

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Hi Juddling, welcome to the community :smile:

This is a well-known issue and has been a pain in our ass for too long now :sweat_smile: The core of the issue is that improving the wiki is a rather large task, the current train of thought is migrating away from MoinMoin to a more modern, more performant wiki and leaving behind or archiving a lot of the less ‘popular’ content. This we suspect to be a lot of work for teams at Canonical and I haven’t yet been able to get it prioritised. But we’re working on it.

Of course, if you have any ideas or suggestions that might circumvent this we’re all ears and can get you in touch with the right people :blush:

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As a Wikimedian, I’d be pleased if Ubuntu moved to the MediaWiki software. The Document Foundation, KDE, openSUSE and Fedora use MediaWiki wikis too.

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MediaWiki does seem to be a popular choice for an update, and when (again, we’re nagging everyone we can nag) that update does happen, I would imagine the replacement would be chosen by the community, either by the CC or by a vote, or that the community would have a significant say.

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