What Part of “Don’t Bury the Lead” Don’t You Understand?

Wikipedia Upload

Click image to embiggen

Do you ever wonder why people sometimes tend to do the exact opposite of what they should do?

For example, when leaving a voicemail message, many people will speed up while giving the all-important phone number — at the precise time when they should slow down.

So someone says “nineseventhreefiveohfiveonetwoonetwo” as fast as they can, and you have to listen to the message twice, or even three times, to capture the number.  What they should say is “nine seven three”… [pause] “five oh five”… [pause] “one two, one two”.

(No, it’s not my real phone number.  What, do you think I’m nuts?)

Now let’s look at the “help” page above from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.  (If you can’t see the graphic because you’re using an RSS reader, thank you for subscribing to my RSS feed. Now click through to the site already!)  My simple goal this afternoon was to upload a photo to help personalize the few lines of text I wrote for my Wikipedia user page.  It’s the same photo you see on this blog in the column to the right. (You did click through to the blog, right, RSS feeders?)

Wikipedia uses a proprietary coding language to invoke HTML commands so that users don’t have to learn HTML.  The Web Goddess, a self-taught guru who knows HTML cold, finds it confusing and not intuitive.  But the real problem is the poor design of the “help” pages.

The page above pops up from a simple “Upload file” link in the left navigation of the Wikipedia toolbox.  So far so good.  But… how do you actually upload a picture?

Click to embiggen

If you embiggen the second graphic, you’ll see that the page starts out by telling you how to do everything you might possibly want to do, except for the single most likely thing.

Do I want to look at six different help pages first?  Not if I don’t have to.  Do I want to put my face on Wikimedia Commons, so anyone can use the photo free for any purpose?  No, especially since my Wikipedia log-in doesn’t seem to work there, and I’d have to create a new account.

Finally, the fourteenth link on the page, in the third highlighted section, has the magic words “go directly to the upload form.”  So why couldn’t they have said that 10 minutes ago?

What does all this have to do with good people doing nothing in the face of evil?  No clue.  Tune in again later.