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IndexPanopticon → Infobox suggestions
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Overview

I've been quite unsatisfied with the infoboxes here for a while. They require you to type in way more than you need to in order to put up a picture, they produce a lot of blank space if you don't fill in every variable and they're "thin black line"-heavy. So here's a side-by-side comparison of the exact same variables in two different styles of infobox. The one on the left is my proposal of what we should change to (although colors can obviously be changed easily).

General infobox (people, objects, astronomical objects, species, etc.)

Template:Infobox test

Note the differences between the two boxes. The new one has no border around the whole box, but a fully colored interior that frames the picture. Most strikingly, the old one is almost as long as the new one — and it doesn't have a picture on it!

The new version also automatically links the picture. To get the picture up, all I did was type in image=Tegan.jpg. Simple, easy, no worries about inverted brackets, missing punctuation or anything else. As long as you know the simple name of the file, the picture appears. More importantly, it gives editors no choice as to the width. All pictures using this infobox are 250px, period. This will achieve uniformity across the stie, something another thread has been complaining about.

But you can see the major downside. It'll obviously mean that every single existing infobox will have to have its brackets manually edited out. Controversial, to be sure, but ultimately massively beneficial. Yes, the new box can be rewritten to handle the existing format, but we'd lose the ability to set the width automatically.

But here's the unambiguously better bit. Variables not entered do not produce a blank line, or try to substitute a word like "unknown". Note how "type" appears in the old box as "unknown", but doesn't appear in the left at all. If the information's not available, no space is wasted on it. There are a ton of species where we don't now, nor will we ever, know the planet of origin. Likewise, there are a lot of objects of unknown origin or planets of unknown location. If the canon doesn't tell us, don't leave a blank space for someone to fill in with conjecture out of a misguided need to fill it out "the best way possible." This style will be especially beneficial to, say, comic infoboxes, where many early comics don't have a credit for, say, inker or pencils, but they do have a credit for "art" or "artist". There should be flexibility in the box to fill in the precise credit, by allowing certain categories to fade away depending on available information.

This sort of thing can be done for every infobox on the wiki. We could get real control over our infoboxes by putting a whole lot more style into them. We can even put little icons into the infoboxes, if we wanted, so that on series episode pages there's the logo of the programme in question. Maybe a small TARDIS for DW, and the faces of Captain Jack and SJS for their series. Check out the SMDM episode template for an idea of what that might look like. CzechOut | 07:47, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

I like your proposals. I would put in a space for relatives and aliases and keep the current color scheme. also, as I have suggested here before, I think that companions and Doctors should have their own kind of template, listing (in both cases), their introductory story (in both stories) and then they left or regenerated (respectively). --Stardizzy2 15:34, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Comic (but adaptable to episodes, novels, radio plays, etc.)

Okay, here's another iteration for more complicated story pages. This one is specifically the comic template. Template:Infobox test comic2 As before, the big goal was to make most of the existing variables work. However, as above, there's still the idea we have to go in and manually edit the brackets off picture names. Unfortunately, this one requires a bit more than that. Honestly, if I'd been here from the beginning, I'd have pushed for most variables to be just that: plain variables. You can program those variables to go into brackets, giving you much greater control. It's kinda silly to have repetitively typed [[Second Doctor]] in al these infoboxes when one little edit to the infobox would've linked every instance in an infobox, wiki-wide. Anyway, I've left most of the variables alone, cause it would be so laborious to go back through and do it by hand.

Nevertheless, to streamline navigation, all story names would have to be de-linked at the same time we de-linked the picture names. You may wish to head over to template:infobox test comic2 to see all the possible variables. Most are collapsed in this simple example.

The template gives you the ability to set up navigation amongst three different story arcs, along with the simple chronological-by-publication-date navigation. It also allows a greater range of credits than you'd ever use in a TV Comic story like this one. Pencillers, Inkers, Letterers, and Colourists are all possible with this template; whereas Pencillers and Inkers don't seem possible in the original.

Also, note that icons are possible to liven up the box. This might be slightly more important on those many stories for which we don't currently have pictures. I'm not particularly pushing for the one I've included, but it seemed to get the point across most easily. If you create a transparent .png pic (i.e., one with an alpha channel), it looks pretty cool, emphasizing the irregular shape. It's also clickable, taking you to the master page for all comic stories.

In a sense, this picture is a bad one to demonstrate the template, because it's long. It's making the whole template elongated. But if you look at the way it fills out the old infobox on The Night Walkers page, you can see that this new infobox saves a lot of space — mostly horizontal. CzechOut | 15:32, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Other comic examples

Here's another example with a more modern work where every creative staff position is filled out. Note what happens to the old temple when you don't put in "artist". This thing whereby it automatically returns the variable expression {{{artist}}} has contributed to a lot of articles simply giving out false, incomplete information. By allowing the choice of "artist" or "penciller + inker", the infobox can actually provide the correct information. Note, too, that this new infobox will track reprint areas as well — something of great importance with most DW comics.

I should point out that this box shows us one element of the programming that's not yet enabled. If the box doesn't find a picture, it will substitute its own. Because NoPic.jpg doesn't yet exist, it's currently a redlink. But if we decide to go forward with this, I'll certianly whip up an appropriate little expression of emptiness. Template:Infobox test comic2 This one brings to mind another expansion I'd like to do, but may not, given the manual editing involved. Note the "Printed in" line. See how people have interpreted the "Published in" line of the old template as a place to put not just the publication title (as the variable was originally named), but also the issue numbers? A superior design would be to introduce the variables "first issue" and "last issue". Then you'd create a new line, "Issues", and fill it with the auto-linked result of the expression

[[ {{{publication}}} issue {{first issue}} | {{first issue}} ]]

The result would be something like:

Publication: Doctor Who Monthly
Issues: 273 - 276

How do we get the full publication title to be just the initials? Well, again, manual de-linking is required. Then you can either write a new template or an "if-then" statement that converts to the appropriate acronym. I'm thinking a template might be the most useful way, so you can use it throughout the wiki. One massive thing that converts all long form name to their prefix.

The question remains though: do other editors like the new templates enough, and think there's sufficient additional utility in them, to do this easy, but laborious, de-linking? It should be noted that while we're doing the process of de-linking, there will still be linked information there. It'll just look ugly. Here's what one box will look like the instant of the transfer of infoboxes: Template:Infobox test comic2

It's still basically usable, there are just some ugly extra brackets around. Also, note another problem. This editor has interpreted the variables differently than editors in the previous example. For some reason, he/she has linked the name of the comic strip on its own page. Were this infobox actually on the page itself, that wouldn't be too much of a problem; it just would appear as bolded (extra white). But it is a little against general conventions to link to the page you're on. Note too that this editor has chosen to be extra-complete by stating there is no letterer. Not a problem, but we can see how the old infobox gave the impression one had to do this. (Oddly, it's not actually true of the lettering variable, whereas if you don't put in an artist, you get the ugly variable name instead. Not sure why the original treated the same kind of variable differently.) Also, this editor treated the "format" variable differently. He/She chose to see it as a place to put in that it was part 4 of 4. Understandable, cause it is, but it does point out the problem of that variable. I think it's kinda weird how consistently people have chosen to state the obvious and say its format is that it's a comic, because of course they're comics. Not exactly necessary to say that. That's why (as you'll see in "The Fallen" example, above) new optional variables {{{pages}}} and {{{parts}}} have been included to supercede the ambiguous {{{format}}}. And the "part x of y" business has been changed into the story arc business at the bottom. More dynamic and linked than just saying that it's "part 4 of 4".

Anyway, the point is that even with no editing at all, the box still basically "works". So while we were in the process of manually fine-tuning the boxes, you'd still have a functioning (if slightly less pretty) box. It doesn't "break the box" for us to have some manual editing to do.

Well, that's it for now. I'm not quite sure how we get to "greenlight" with all this, but please do lemme know your thoughts. CzechOut | 15:32, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

no offense, but I did not read through the text. I think either the first and third version of the comics infoboxes look good, as long as you go for less drab colors than just gray. if you start going into story arcs in the infobox, I think people will abuse it by trying to make connections which may not exist via their continuity fixes and fanwanks,
as for greenlighting, IMO you don't have to ask permission, just make the changes, you know? like I said, though make things less monochromatic and you have a winner.--Stardizzy2 17:55, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
I should point out that there aren't three versions of the box here. It's all the same version, with different features coming to light as variables are given a value. As to the story arcs, yes, it came to my mind that people could abuse them. Maybe I've absued them by suggesting in "The Night Walkers" that it's a part of the Exile on Earth arc — although it's actual authorial intent that it leads into Spearhead from Space. Nevertheless, I'd argue that story arcs are definitely a part of the modern comic structure. Thinktwice does, in fact, follow on from Hotel Historia (comic strip) narratively, even though it chronologically follows The Time of My Life. Likewise, it's not fanwank to say that Bad Blood follows on narratively from Oblivion (comic strip), even though its immediate predecessor is the completely unrelated The Land of Happy Endings. In fact, most of the "Destrii/Izzy body swap arc" is fairly noncontiguous, what with the way that the Seventh Doctor story, The Last Word, suddenly plops down between Beautiful Freak and The Way of All Flesh. (And, indeed, The Last Word is the coda to the "Timewyrm arc" that otherwise appears in the NAs.)
Yes, there is a bit of a "judgement call" aspect to the proper use of the story arc thing. I wouldn't think it acceptable, for instance, to devise a thing called "the Auton arc" and include Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, Plastic Millennium, and Rose (TV story). At the end of the day, though, there are a lot of genuine story arcs out there — a lot of obvious prequels and sequels — and the facility should exist for them to be navigable. I think this especially true with spin-off material, like comics, where one-part stories have often broken up what was otherwise meant to be a single narrative.
But you could legitimately use the feature in a different way. It could be useful for navigating between stories featuring recurring characters. For instance, Maxwell Edison is a character that's important to the DWM continuity, but his appearances are broken by years of absence. Instead going to his main page, then tracking down his appearances one-by-one, this facility offers the ability to just set an arc name to "Maxwell Stockbridge appearances" and leverage the content of the wiki differently. It seems to me there's more of a case for tracking Mxx or Frobisher appearance than there is for enemies, because there is something of a narrative content to their appearances there. Max is a specific character, whom we know has a building relationship with the Doctor. There are shout-outs to the past adventures, even if the stories themselves don't form a single narrative. CzechOut | 20:03, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
okay, well. the main thing, I think it looks good with the exception of the color scheme. some good work. --Stardizzy2 20:06, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I've just had a quick look at the above and while a lot of it has gone straight over my head, I like the direction it seems to be heading. I particularly like the fact that it looks cleaner without the bold boxing, that where no information is shown it doesnt show anything (although I hope on editting the box, the option to include further lines is still displayed) and re: the comics, I especially like the top heading bit with an illustration obviously denoting the (appropriate !?) Doctor and clearly identifying the page as being comic strip material. Incidentally these were two things I wanted to try in doing the Battles in Time comic strip pages. At the time I didn't realise that the series would be extended so far!! I should also add thats why I havent as yet gone through each page and corrected some glaringly obvious mistakes and added further information hopefully from source - still working on that! But back to the boxes if you want to test it out on the BIT strips Im happy to help if you guide me through it, particularly as Ive loads more strips I want to do hundreds in fact! On the credit lines I would like to add that they like the strips, seem to have evolved over the years from where the credited artist maybe did it all, so unless its specified on the strip itself it is hard to establish a credit. But thats not saying the information may come to light at a later date.
I read through in more depth when I get a moment. Thanks for the invite CzechOut - oh and I'm male by the way. The Librarian 22:48, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

I've also read the above proposals and I agree with, at least, the changing of the variables to disappear from the infobox if nothing is entered into them. The other changes (by that I mainly mean the auto-linking of images) will, as has been mentioned, cause the infoboxes to look ugly until they have been changed. However, I suppose that will probably be fixed eventually (and we should look to the long-term future and not just a few hours or days).
I think the main reason why nobody made it so that the variables disappeared when nothing was entered for them was because... nobody knew how at the time. So I think that should be changed as soon as it can be.
~ Ghelæ -talk-contribs 06:58, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

I Agree with Stardizzy2 looks great except for the colour scheme --Dark Lord Xander 10:46, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

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