Wikipedia mobile: You can now edit the world's encyclopedia from your phone

Image Credit: John Koetsier
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One of the world’s most popular sites just turned on mobile editing. Good timing, because Wikipedia just recently hit three billion monthly pages views on smartphones and tablets — 15 percent of all traffic to the global information warehouse.

So today, Wikipedia announced today that it is turning on mobile editing for all registered users.

“Have you ever looked up something quickly on Wikipedia on your phone, noticed a small mistake, and wished you could fix it on the spot?” Wikipedia engineer Juliusz Gonera posted this morning. “Or maybe you didn’t realize that you could contribute? Now you can help keep Wikipedia and its sister projects up-to-date and accurate when you’re on the go by editing from your phone.”

But don’t expect it to be easy.

Wikipedia wanted to create a fast, intuitive editing experience for new users, Gonera said. While it might work well for experienced Wikipedia contributors, newbies may have trouble mostly due to Wikipedia’s insistence on continuing to use Wiki Markup instead of a WYSIWYG alternative. It’s challenging to use for some on desktop computers, and it’s even harder on mobile.

Here’s how it works:

Editing wiki markup on a small screen, unfortunately, is not easy. But a fix may be coming soon:

“Now that it’s available for all users, we hope to learn more about the kinds of edits people make on mobile and build more advanced features, including possible Visual Editor integration, in future releases,” Gonera said.

It’s important for Wikipedia to make editing available on mobile devices not only because mobile traffic is increasing in North America and Europe but because mobile is increasingly the only way people in developing nations can access the site. Wikipedia Zero, a partnership with the world’s sixth-largest telecom, helps deliver that mobile experience for free to 330 million users in Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe.

The challenge in enabling a WYSIWYG experience on mobile, however, will be working on multiple devices. Even this simpler version was difficult Gonera said.

“We spent a lot of time testing the new mobile editor and trying to make it work on as many devices as possible, but this is still the first release.”

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