WikiTweaks for Chrome restyles Wikipedia to put focus on content

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 29, 2014
Google Chrome

Wikipedia and its dozen or so companion sites are some of the most popular sites on the Internet. Alexa ranks Wikipedia as number six in the world for instance only surpassed by Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Baidu.

When you visit the free encyclopedia in a web browser of choice and open an article on it, you will notice that the interface that it displays takes up quite some space on that page.

There is a sidebar menu for instance that links to various other Wikipedia pages, languages and tools to print or download articles.

The same is true for the top where you find options to display a page's source, history or comments about it by Wikipedia members.

The Google Chrome extension WikiTweaks modifies pages on Wikipedia slightly to improve the layout of the site. It restyles the site so to speak.

One of the major changes that it introduces is the removal of the left sidebar. The result of this is that content uses the extra width that becomes available so that its accessibility is improved.

The extension removes other interface elements as well. At the top for instance, it removes all but the search form which results in articles starting closer to the top.

All article related information remain on the page on the other hand including the summary module on the right that displays core information.

WikiTweaks introduces a second feature besides modifying the layout of the Wikipedia page. It adds hover information to links.

When you hover over a link after installation a short summary of the contents of that link are displayed right on the page you are at. This works only for internal Wikipedia links but can speed up research quite a bit as the information displayed in the popup may be sufficient to continue reading the original page without opening the linked page at all.

The third and final feature that WikiTweaks adds is a history of visited Wikipedia pages. The extension adds an icon to Chrome's toolbar that you can click on to display the pages that you visited on Wikipedia recently.

Closing Words

WikiTweaks does not reinvent the wheel but it modifies Wikipedia in a way that improves how you access the website.

Firefox users can check out WikiTweak - Wikipedia Enhancer, a collection of userscripts turned into an extension, which adds different styles and other features to the site.

There is also WikiWand which changes the layout and design of Wikipedia as well.

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  1. pd said on October 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    @Daniel: WikiWand doesn’t support https through HTTPS Everywhere. Would rather use the default styling than increase the chance that my WikiPedia interests can be spied on.

  2. pd said on October 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    @Daniel: thanks for the tip, I’ll see if I have time to check it out

  3. Daniel said on October 29, 2014 at 1:37 pm
  4. Pd said on October 29, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Really getting sick and tired of seeing possibly useful add-ons developed for Chrome and not Firefox

    Mozilla needs to wake up to a critical standardization they have not engaged in: add-on APIs. The pen web is a great thing but if it relies on competing client browsers to ensure standards are followed, those browsers need to remain competitive. A key plank of Firefox’s competitive advantage over other browsers was its add-on developer community. Slowly, like Firefox’s market share, this community is jumping ship. One way to solve this would be to reduce our eliminate the compatibility barriers between writing Chrome add-ons and Firefox add-ons.

    Make a recompilation tool if necessary!

    Whenever an add-on developer decides to target Chrome, it should be trivial for them to add Firefox support.

    Is this another example of Mozilla spending huge resources on a 3rd world mobile OS instead of working hard to reverse the desktop Firefox decline (or gain even 1% share on Android?)

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