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Forums:Archive indexPanopticon archives → Can we disable visual editor please?
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We need to formally request Wikia disable visual editor mode, also called the Rich Text Editor or RTE. Most of us have it turned off anyway (see Special:Preferences, editing tab). But we need to actually make it impossible to turn on. IP editors and new editors, who tend to be the ones who use it, are occasionally, and quite unintentionally, creating a mess in the codes of pages.

Basically, the visual editor will occasionally leak raw HTML into the code. This violates T:NO HTML and makes bot maintenance of the database a complete nightmare. This is why Memory Alpha have long had the visual editor turned off.

Here's a comparison of the same content as rendered by visual editor, and as it should be in normal wiki markup:


Note the especial funkiness of the sectional headers.

Here's another completely ordinary page, in the main namespace, destroyed by the visual editor:

How visual editor screws up normal pages

Yes, the visual editor doesn't always result in this kind of code explosion. But it does it enough for it to be a worry. And I've shown another example to Wikia staff and have basically just got a "thanks for reporting the bug" response, rather than a solid workaround or solution.

I know visual editor might be a little easier for novices, but it's not so very much easier that we should tolerate these code explosions. Also, removing visual editor entirely means we only have to support source (normal) mode.

Here are some other reasons not to like it:

  • It displays things as they are styled on the wiki. This means that section heads, currently styled as all uppercase, display as uppercase while being typed. Hence people are more likely to mis-capitalise when using visual mode.
  • As soon as an infobox is placed on a page, visual mode is disabled anyway because such pages are "too complex". Thus, people have to use source mode anyway. Might as well have one, consistent editing style.
  • The code leaks don't happen all the time, or even most of the time, but they really are intolerable. Look at this total train wreck from earlier today: user talk: issues. The visual editor destroys pages when it goes haywire.
  • One of the particularly invisible disasters is the frequent replacement of ordinary wikilinks with an HTML URL link to a page. The RTE likes to do this:
    [http://tardis.wikia.com/index.php?title=TARDIS TARDIS]
    when it should be
    Now it doesn't do this every time, but it does do it. Worse, the user can choose to make it do it. This is disastrous for a wiki. The whole point of a wiki is the manipulation of relational links. It's also against our house rules, namely T:NO HTML.
I've left one of the RTE-written DWM pages in place so you can understand the problem. John Ainsworth appears to be linked on the page DWM 439. But if you check out the "what links here" for John Ainsworth, DWM 439 does not appear. This means that all sorts of reports, not to mention normal bot maintenance, are compromised in ways that we can't see by just looking at a published page. If someone comes to me and asks me to change the links to an article, I can't get to every single instance unless I know every instance is properly wikified.

So, are there any objections to turning off the visual editor?
czechout   22:01: Sat 17 Dec 2011 

Please note that as of 22 December, every single user has been personally invited to participate in this discussion, including all IP users. This thread will remain open for at least one month to give people a reasonable time to respond. By being placed before the community before the premiere of the 2011 Christmas special, an event which will inevitably spike our editorship to its highest levels prior to the return of DW in late 2012, it is hoped that we will attract the widest possible range of respondents.

(I apologise for the bot's placement of multiple invitations on some user's talk pages and archive pages. This is the first time we've issued a message to everyone and I didn't consider some truisms of the user talk namespace in my bot programming.)

czechout   19:57: Thu 22 Dec 2011 

Get rid of visual editor

  • czechout   22:01: Sat 17 Dec 2011 , for reasons above
  • Tardis1963 talk 22:07, December 17, 2011 (UTC) I hate it over on the DWCW, so I'm all for getting rid of it.
  • MM/Want to talk? 12:02, December 18, 2011 (UTC) I agree completely with the reasons above.
  • Tangerineduel / talk 15:01, December 19, 2011 (UTC) I also agree with the reasons stated above.

Layton4 21:29, December 20, 2011 (UTC) I agree with the reasons stated above. Get rid of it!

  • Random? No. Admin on the Simpsons Wiki. Say something. One reason is that when you try to change links, it changes what the link says, not the actual link. Really annoying.
  • --OS24 18:16, December 22, 2011 (UTC) Well, I have to agree. Normally I'd sat "Nay," but visual mode has messed me up... Twice... Got me banned once... Besides, wiki editing is easier w/out visual mode! I haven't used it in over a month!
  • Rob T Firefly - Δ - 15:01, December 24, 2011 (UTC) All good reasons above, and I think learning simple wiki markup is the responsibility of every wiki user. Zap it.
  • !MetardiS! 19:41, December 24, 2011 (UTC) yeah, I think editing for expirienced users should be fun, and also for the benifite for me, because I'm quite used source editor like putting TARDIS like [[TARDIS]]
  • --GusF talk to me 01:55, December 26, 2011 (UTC) I agree with the reasons given above. I find it irritating in the extreme and more trouble than it is worth.
  • Gousha talk to me 00:51, December 29, 2011 (UTC) I turned it off years ago, and never looked back. Having maintained such databases, I loathe the sorts of inconsistencies mentioned. Tools like the visual editor that try to be "helpful" have usually turned out to be more hindrance than help.
  • --Skittles the hog - talk 16:39, December 30, 2011 (UTC) Turned it off right at the start.
  • NileQT87 talk to me 03:02, January 5, 2012 (UTC) I can't stand the visual editor, so I'm definitely in this camp! Wiki markup is actually easier to look at and understand.
  • Remove RTE. I found the visual editor so much of a pain that if it wasn't for me finding the option to turn it off I would have boycotted wikia in responce, not that would of made a difference as I realise. - Tehtumpi talk to me 16:08, January 10, 2012 (UTC)
  • Permanently Disable RTE I can't believe we even have to discuss this. Most of us are from the WikiProject on WP anyway, so we use the code-level editors on a regular basis by default. (Plus there's the already mentioned reasons, of course.) -- to me 03:12, January 17, 2012 (UTC)

Keep it

  • I'd like to keep it. Some pages only need minor editing and it can be difficult to wade through all the wiki code in source mode. Shambala108 talk to me 02:13, December 18, 2011 (UTC)
A lot of my edits involve correcting capitalization and punctuation mistakes, especially misuse of commas and semi-colons. It's much easier to fix these mistakes on a long page if using visual mode. Shambala108 talk to me 00:32, December 20, 2011 (UTC)
How? I mean, why not just edit a section to focus your attention on a smaller part of the page?
czechout   00:54: Tue 20 Dec 2011 
  • Although there are times when I turn it off -- usually when using non-standard formats -- I prefer the visual code most of the time. It gives me a better idea of the layout as I work. It's particularly useful in deciding paragraph breaks. Boblipton talk to me 02:31, December 18, 2011 (UTC)
If that's true Bob, why am I always finding tons if extraneous space in your work?
czechout   03:58: Sun 18 Dec 2011 
Because I'm not perfect. I go through something, edit it, then later I go back and edit it some more. Boblipton talk to me 04:32, December 18, 2011 (UTC)
And I'm sloppy, too. When I'm busy concentrating on things like changing punctuation, I'm not concentrating on spacing. Boblipton talk to me 04:45, December 18, 2011 (UTC)
No, Bob, you misunderstand me. One of the problems with the visual editor is that it has a tendency to insert additional spaces, as discussed a year ago, when I was quite willing to leave it be. Though this has been somewhat fixed over the last year, it still sometimes adds vertical spaces. It's actually not good at deciding paragraph breaks because of this. I wasn't having a go at your editing foibles.
czechout   20:26: Mon 19 Dec 2011 
By the way, Bob, remember that mess made earlier this year on your user talk page? That was entirely the fault of the visual editor.
czechout   20:41: Mon 19 Dec 2011 
Makes little difference from my viewpoint. I do a lot of editing in visual and source mode and I find it easier to do in visual.Boblipton talk to me 20:50, December 19, 2011 (UTC)
Let me see if I understand this. Visual mode screwed up your own user page to the point that you could not fix it -- and yet you think it's "easier". How does that work? Is it only easier cause someone else was willing to clean it up and file the bug reports with Wikia?
czechout   00:28: Tue 20 Dec 2011 
Several reasons. First, I don't care about my talk page. It is a cumbersome way of holding a conversation and that's the best thing I can say about it. Second, in terms of frequency of occurrence, I have seen perhaps three pages wrecked by the problem you complain of in my time here. In contrast, I have seen dozens of purposeful acts of vandalism and thousands of instances of people performing edits which I must go through, think about and re-edit. My log shows that I have performed more than twenty thousand edits. If the ease of reading reduces my edit time on the average article by five seconds, that works out to almost twenty-eight hours -- call it five days of effort on my part here. Five seconds strikes me as a laughably conservative estimate, by the way. When it comes down to it, my strength is words and how they fit together in English. The visual method, looking more like ordinary English composition to me. Those obnoxious coding problems that crop up very occasionally are things I can deal with in a small percentage of the time saved by the visual editing. Could I learn to use the source editor? I expect so, but it would take time to learn the ins and out.
Sorry. I neglected to sign the above ramble.Boblipton talk to me 01:25, December 20, 2011 (UTC)
Those are my reasons, rationally expressed. Irrationally expressed, they boil down to I like the Visual editor. Liking isn't a matter of rational discourse and careful weighing of advantages and disadvantages. It's a taste. You seem genuinely puzzled at my preference. I am puzzled by your insistence that my taste is wrong. Shall we debate vanilla versus chocolate?01:23, December 20, 2011 (UTC)
If you think this is about simple preference, I've not communicated well, and I apologise for the confusion. This is about the balance between ease of use and damage to the raw code that actually creates pages.
Bob, the visual editor doesn't just affect your user page. If its problems only affected a single namespace, I wouldn't have started this debate. And it's not just affecting a few pages; it's affecting hundreds. Often, though, the damage it does goes unseen.
You're right to say it doesn't typically destroy the way pages are displayed. Your user talk page was indeed somewhat unusual, though certainly not rare. The RTE more commonly dumps raw HTML that works onto a page. This may allow the pages to display properly (sort of), but it makes a nonsense of the underpinning text.
Please look again at the very first history link at the top of the page. This shows a DWM page which basically looks the same as published, but couldn't look any more different under the hood. So for the original editor, the page is pretty easy in the RTE. But for any that come after, it's a mess of HTML madness. So when I asked you how was it easier to use the RTE, I wasn't arguing chocolate over vanilla, I was trying to get you to see beyond your one trip to a page and think about how other editors might be extraordinarily inconvenienced by the RTE's code dumps -- dumps that you don't even notice are happening.
One of the particularly invisible disasters is the frequent replacement of ordinary wikilinks with an HTML URL link to a page. The RTE likes to do this:
[http://tardis.wikia.com/index.php?title=TARDIS TARDIS]
when it should be
Now it doesn't do this every time, but it does do it. Worse, the user can choose to make it do it. This is disastrous for a wiki. The whole point of a wiki is the manipulation of relational links. It's also against our house rules, namely T:NO HTML.
I've left one of the RTE-written DWM pages in place so you can understand the problem. John Ainsworth appears to be linked on the page DWM 439. But if you check out the "what links here" for John Ainsworth, DWM 439 does not appear. This means that all sorts of reports, not to mention normal bot maintenance, are compromised in ways that we can't see by just looking at a published page. If someone comes to me and asks me to change the links to an article, I can't get to every single instance unless I know every instance is properly wikified.
So the question here isn't about which editor you prefer to write with. I get that the RTE is easier from the standpoint of a single editor making a single edit. The question is whether the simplicity is worth the fact that the next editor coming to the article may have to spend 30 minutes cleaning up after an unexpected code dump. Or that the ability to perform a tedious repeated correction with a bot is thrown off by the unexpected presence of URLs. Or that putting off learning how to use source mode means that you're less able to function when even the RTE gives up on visual mode and forces source on you.
czechout   23:25: Tue 20 Dec 2011 
I will second the What Links Here issue. As it's an issue that affects actual editors not just the bot that CzechOut runs through the wiki to make sure everything runs smoothly.
I'd say that most of us would have used the "What links here" in the process of our editing and it is an invaluable part of the wiki that forms parts of simple moves and redirects to make sure links function correctly.
A wiki isn't just about how it looks, it's all the editing and work flow behind the scenes of the wiki and these issues the visual editor throws in really make any editing work twice as long as it should be. Being able to read an article be it when editing or when looking at the published version is at the top, and with the coding issues that the visual editor introduces it makes reading an article while in edit mode difficult. --Tangerineduel / talk 13:44, December 21, 2011 (UTC)
  • i tend to prefer to stick to the forums on this website, and at least there it is much easier to work with visual editor imo because if one isn't doing big fancy edits in the main parts of the wiki, it is easier for me at least to work with a visual or any sort of wysiwyg layout. also, as i don't know much about source formatting i am always nervous when forced to edit in source that i will accidentally delete a character or something that is important for the layout. i understand that for the main body of the wiki there might be bigger problems that could be fixed with only using source, but could you leave the forums the option for visual editing? Imamadmad talk to me 03:38, December 30, 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, no, it's not a namespace-based tool. It's either on or it's off. If you're nervous about source editing, i recommend you start with the primer at help:editing and then move on to our guide to wiki markup. Basic editing in source is honestly not hard. And it's a bit faster, cause you're not having to wait for the WYSIWIG translation.
czechout   16:19: Fri 30 Dec 2011 
If you're just editing on the forums then source editing won't be much trouble at all. All linking, and letter styling can be done from the keyboard and the use of the punctuation keys. I feel though, I should note our Tardis:Discussion policy at this point. --Tangerineduel / talk 13:15, January 2, 2012 (UTC)
looking at the tardis discussion policy at the point i think you are directing at me, i'm wondering why can't the forums be my primary mode of contribution? i rarely see anything in the main articles that i believe i can add to. arg, this is violating the rule about getting off topic. i am genuinely sorry. but i would still like an answer. should i start another thread for that? Imamadmad talk to me 12:55, January 3, 2012 (UTC)
No one is saying that the forums can't be your main contribution. If you just wanna hang out and offer your opinions, you're certainly welcome to. The point I was trying to make was that visual editor cannot be turned off by namespace. It's not possible to turn it off in the main article space, but leave it on here in the forums. I hope that answers your question, but I'm not sure if that's what you were asking. If I haven't answered your question, please do let me know.
czechout   03:25: Thu 05 Jan 2012 
Wow. Okay. I have to be honest and tell you that I didn't know tardis:discussion policy said that forum posting shouldn't be one's primary contribution to the wiki. I really didn't know that it threatened blocking for that editing pattern. Sorry bout that. Yes, if you want to protest that provision — and obviously my earlier post has betrayed the fact that I'd support you — you would need to start a separate forum thread. This thread is about disabling the visual editor, not whether it's right to block people just because the majority of their edits are in the forum namespace.
czechout   03:30: Thu 05 Jan 2012 
  • Don't remove RTE. I am a total codemonkey for fun and profit but I side with the Wikipedia founders in trying to elevate the population to a code-free lifestyle.
I chose to make DWExpanded the home for my content because I felt its wiki format and ease of editing make it the winner in the realm of expanded universe DW knowledge bases. I do hear the folks who don't have fan work to share but want a place to join in the fun. I'm certainly at their mercy once they see my amateur films!
I've felt that the TARDISbuilders knowledge base should really be a wiki instead of a forum, and I feel that a DWExpanded wiki is always going to itch a bit trying to be a hangout. This discussion is excellent user talk, but a forum?
Beeblebroxcompany talk to me 15:30, January 14, 2012 (UTC)
  • This issue isn't really about whether you like it or use it. If you don't like it, don't use it. The issue is that using visual sometimes causes massive code errors. I agree it's a pain but it's not a reason to get rid of visual editing. After all, there are lots of errors (intentional or otherwise) coming from the badge game, and no one's suggesting we get rid of it. Shambala108 talk to me 16:21, January 29, 2012 (UTC)
If you're detecting genuine bugs in the Game of Rassilon, I'd like to know what they are so that I can correct them. As far as I know, though, the Game of Rassilon isn't throwing bugs that are actually requiring cleanup, or that are limiting the function of other aspects of the wiki. You might occasionally be screwed out of some points, but there's usually a reasonable explanation for it. If the Game of Rassilon were truly screwing up the wiki, I personally would have shut it down long ago, as it's within the purview of local admin to keep it running.
As regards the visual editor, though, your attitude perplexes me. How in the world can you possibly believe that "it's a pain" but not want to get rid of it? That's rather akin to saying, "This cancer is a pain, but I can't be bothered to go through the inconvenience of chemotherapy."
It seems to me that there are enough things to correct around here because of good, ol' fashioned human error. Why add to our maintenance woes with things that are being introduced by scripts?
czechout   17:08: Sun 29 Jan 2012 

ok, i have started editing more main articles since i last posted on this conversation and here's what i think now: source editor is easier to edit in, however i like to be able to switch between it and visual editor to make sure what i'm doing looks right. i know there is the preview button for that, but i find switching modes easier as it also means i can fix small things that are wrong with my edit eg spelling or word order while in an easier to read wysiwyg format before finishing in source to make sure the code eg links etc look right. so i think we should leave visual as an option, but make source the default. Imamadmad talk to me 10:30, February 17, 2012 (UTC)

But visual mode is not page preview. It's an attempt at WYSIWYG, but it's not true WYSIWYG. It is more accurate to use preview than visual mode to see what your page truly looks like. Plus, page preview is tested technology that's been working in MediaWiki since almost its inception. Keeping the visual editor around because you want a different stripe of page preview around might be more convenient to you, but it doesn't outweigh the mess that is otherwise created by it, as explained upthread.
czechout   15:33: Fri 17 Feb 2012 


This thread has been kept open for almost a month longer than was promised. Everyone who was editing with us on 22 December got an invitation. Everyone's had adequate time to respond. The overwhelming majority of respondents have agreed to get rid of the visual editor. Thus, a request has been made today to dispense with it.
czechout   15:33: Fri 17 Feb 2012