Wikipedia Gadgets: Tools that simplify editing

A recent study has found that the number of editors on the English language Wikipedia had dwindled from 56,000 in 2007 to almost 35,000 at the end of 2012. The research team led by Aaron Halfaker of the University of Minnesota attributed the decline to automated programs that removed or modified contributions made by collaborators. Seeing their edits vanish is disappointing for new editors trying to find their way around Wikipedia but mass curation is necessary for existing editors and administrators to ensure efficient quality control. New Wikipedia editors are also often intimidated by its mark up, called Wiki Syntax. If you are trying to learn the ropes of editing Wikipedia, here is a compilation of a few Wikipedia extensions that facilitate editing, browsing content, tagging, curating, maintaining lists, removing vandalism and other tasks frequently carried out on the crowsdsourced encyclopaedia. The extensions, called Wikipedia Gadgets, are snippets of JavaScript and/or CSS code, which have to be enabled in ‘Preferences’ in the dashboard. Some Gadgets are downloadable. Gadgets automate repetitive tasks, saving time and effort. Some of them present easier ways to perform tasks without having to grapple with mark-up. Most gadgets are developed by Wikipedia users.


Screenshot of Twinkle being used to request page protection (Source: Wikimedia Commons)




Twinkle is a large set of handy tools that are used to automatically execute numerous maintenance tasks. It can be used to patrol new changes made to a page, leave welcome messages for newly registered contributors, report vandalism, warn vandals, revert vandalism, mark inappropriate content for speedy deletion, add maintenance tags (such as article cleanup) to a page and many more functions. Twinkle is one of the most popular Gadgets on Wikipedia.


Kissle's New Pages Patrol interface (Source: Wikimedia Commons)



Newly created pages have to be watched for copyright violations, vandalism, nonsense, hoaxes, attacks on people or entities, advertising and other actions that violate Wikipedia policies. Patrollers delete or modify such content and sometimes lend a hand to editors who may have made unconstructive edits albeit with good intention. Kissle is an experimental application developed by Timotheus Canens, which patrols newly created pages on Wikipedia. New users are welcomed or warned, unconstructive content is marked for reversal or deletion. Users who wish to implement this gadget have to request permission to use and download it. Kissle replaces the New Page Watcher tool that went inactive in 2009.


AutoWikiBrowser (AWB)
This is a downloadable tool for the Windows platform, which can be used on Linux using Wine. Talk pages need to be tagged with templates that indicate the projects relevant to the article page, the scale of importance of the article, etc. Users of this tool can perform extremely repetitive functions such as tagging talk pages, replacing templates, and fixing typos. This tool is available only to users who request access to it and are granted permission.


Assessment Bar
Developed by Yuvi Panda, it works on pages marked under the scope of WikiProject India. It is used to assess the page and mark it with the relevant tags, Class, Importance, Sub Project etc. It was developed for the Tag and Assess Drive Summer '12.


Huggle interface (Source: Wikimedia Commons)



Huggle can only be used on the English language Wikipedia by Rollbackers – editors who have special permissions to revert acts of vandalism. Huggle enables them to rollback edits on the fly. It is a downloadable Windows application. It is the only anti-vandalism tool that works on Indic language Wikipedias. It can be plugged into the IRC feed of new changes or their RSS feed and displays changes made by users who aren’t whitelisted.

Igloo is an anti-vandalism Javascript tool similar to Huggle that runs from the browser. It carries out a large set of tasks such as detecting vandalism, watching recent changes made to pages, reverting vandalism, warning vandals, reporting vandals, and blocking them. Igloo can only be used by Rollbackers. It runs on Mozilla Firefox 3+, Google Chrome and Safari and does not work with Internet Explorer and Safari. It is currently under testing and inactive.

An anti-vandalism tool developed by Andrew West as a part of his PhD project, STiki is only available to trusted users, i.e, Rollbackers, to users with at least 1000 edits or those who have been granted special permission to use the tool. It is an intelligent routing tool that tries to identify vandalism by analysing ‘diffs’ (essentially a comparison between two versions of an article) made by users who are anonymous or new. It then displays potentially vandal edits to a STiki user and lets him or her categorise it as Vandalism, Good Faith Edit, Pass or Innocent.

Tools available from the dashboard
These tools are available to all registered users and are meant for general usability. The list is indicative.

ProveIt GT

A list of stored references in ProveIt GT (Source: Wikimedia Commons)



ProveIt GT
Good Wikipedia articles are based on reliable sources; citing references is absolutely necessary. ProveIt GT, developed by a team of Wikipedians at Georgia Tech, is used to quickly create, edit and find previously stored references without memorising the tedious Wiki Syntax for it. It uses Wikipedia’s most popular citation format Cite, which is also available in the rich text editor. It groups together multiple citations and highlights invalid code.

Ref Tooltips

Popup with the contents of the cited footnote displayed using the Reference Tooltips gadgets (Source: Wikimedia Commons)



Reference Tooltips
When you hover over the citation link on a page, a popup opens with the contents of the citation footnote present at the bottom of the page. This saves time and effort lost in scrolling up and down between the text of the article and the footnotes.



HotCat pops up a list of suggestions for categories, which attempts to auto-complete as you type. It is used for adding, removing or changing the categories assigned to Wikipedia pages.

Citation Expander
Adding and formatting citations can be tedious and confusing for new editors. This tool uses the Citation Bot to add missing data to citations using templates and correct any mistakes in their formatting.

The tool developed by user Endo999 uses Google Translate JavaScript API on MediaWiki. Place a cursor over a word or text upto 500 characters and hit the Shift key to view a popup with a translation in your chosen language. 

This tool displays annotations on images uploaded on the media repository (Wikimedia Commons) and lets users add annotations.

Disclosure: The author is a member of Wikimedia India Chapter and a Wikipedia editor.


Cover image: Wikimedia Commons

Published Date: Jan 08, 2013 03:09 pm | Updated Date: Jan 08, 2013 03:09 pm