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Forum: The Situation Room > Sidebar overhaul

While working on the character sidebar, it occurred to me that something similar might be helpful for pages about places or organizations. One thing led to another, and eventually I came up with two separate sidebars for in-universe and out-of-universe pages, in keeping with how we've been splitting those two up recently. The OOU sidebar is mostly the same, except concerning episode pages - I added a navigation feature and some extra broadcast info. Some page examples:

The templates themselves are here: IU and OOU. The default width is 250px, although that, and the width of the labels, can be adjusted in each instance. Switching all pages over could be done with the bot, although adding specific info to the IU ones would take a while. But with the show over we're pretty much made of time, at least until info about the movie starts coming out. Thoughts? --Pyramidhead 01:00, June 2, 2010 (UTC)

There are things I like and things I don't about both. First, I like the look and how it's similar to the new "Appearances" template. It looks more polished and stylized than current sidebars. Second, I like the addition of several crucial information to the sidebar. On the other hand, some of the sidebars (i.e. Palmer, Jack) end up looking too busy and clogged. I think we could do with less info. than what you put on the sidebars and leave the rest to the profiles. Finally, there's something about the alignment in the episode ones that doesn't work for me. I just can't pinpoint what it is. Regardless of, that's a neat work you're doing. Let's hope we can work them out. Thief12 02:05, June 2, 2010 (UTC)
Wow, you've really put a lot of work into this. Which makes it hard to say that I really don't think they will work. We had this discussion before at Forum:Character sidebar. As Blue Rook said, all this does is make character pages look inconsistent. Some characters will have huge sidebars (i.e. Jack), and others will have practically nothing on them. I don't know why it is better to move stuff like Jack's educational info onto the sidebar, only to see that it doesn't all fit there and link to it somewhere else! The current sidebars are very consistent because all characters have the same info on them, and the only info that is necessary to know as soon as you reach the article: status, episodes and actor. Why do we need to include more information than that? --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 09:06, June 2, 2010 (UTC)
Of course it won't all fit on Jack's page because he's the only character with a retarded amount of background info. That's literally the only situation where something like "see all" would be necessary. And I've yet to be convinced why having more info for some characters than for others is such a terrible thing - virtually every other TV-based wiki with huge casts of characters that I've been to implements something similar to this. Look at Lostpedia, or Heroes Wiki, or Battlestar Wiki. It's about placing the essentials right at the top where a first-time reader can immediately access them, without making them have to click away to some profiles page. Anyway, what do you think of the non-character examples? --Pyramidhead 19:20, June 2, 2010 (UTC)
I like the episodes, actors, books and comics. But you have a similar issue with the places/groups as you do characters: some pages will end up with literally huge sidebars, and others will have practically nothing. When you say that people have to click away to see a character's profile information, in most situations you don't because we include them in the "Personal" section at the top of the page. It's literally a mouse-scroll's distance away so I don't see the point in moving it all to the side and squashed up. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 10:50, June 3, 2010 (UTC)
Again: I don't understand why having some pages with tons of info in the sidebar and some with very little is automatically a bad thing. It's like complaining that the page for Jack Bauer is really long, while the page for Bryce Moore has virtually nothing on it. That's just the result of what the show presented. And none of the wikis I mention find issue with it, probably because it's not really an issue at all. And the "Personal" section isn't even a standard - it's used only on Jack's page, as far as I can tell. This will standardize how it's all presented for everyone. As for the "squashing", I designed the template so that both the overall and the label width can be adjusted as necessary. Really, there's virtually no line spillover on the examples I made, which would represent the worst cases in that regard. --Pyramidhead 19:16, June 3, 2010 (UTC)
In any case, can I at least assume you approve of the new look? --Pyramidhead 19:15, June 5, 2010 (UTC)
I approve of the look. As for the background info, I think stuff like Education and some previous Work Experience are probably unnecessary. That info really doesn't contribute a lot to the show so I don't think they would contribute to overload a sidebar with either. Now, stuff like Family, Dates of birth/death (whenever given), I kinda like. That's my take on some of it. Thief12 03:35, June 6, 2010 (UTC)
Yeah I do approve of the look and I think it's good because it follows this new style that you've implemented on the appearances and other templates so that is good. There's one or two small things I'm not sure I like though... I don't really understand why it says the article's title above the picture, then smaller below it as well. I think the smaller one can be removed. Also, I think the colons after the "Played by" or "Season" or whatever are a little intrusive; it may look better without them. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 09:27, June 6, 2010 (UTC)
The blue title will generally be what the character's most commonly used name is, while the "Name:" part would have the character's full name if it differed from that. I.E., the blue title would be "Tony Almeida," while the Name: part would be "Anthony Almeida." --Pyramidhead 20:22, June 6, 2010 (UTC)
SignorSimon, I emailed you a slightly altered versions of Monobook.css and Common.css which will need to be put in if we're going to use these templates. Also, the changes in Common will change all navigation sidebars to the blue-on-gray appearance that, before now, had to be manually changed to look that way. --Pyramidhead 19:07, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Whoa whoa whoa, what happened? On all your pages that you've made the cool style has changed! There isn't the blue bit at the top and the text is larger? Also we haven't sorted out what we're doing as to the inclusion of the extra material. It's too soon to get going with all this. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:25, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Also, what have you done to the Director and Post Production templates? --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:26, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
It's because I changed the templates from having really long style tags to using classes, which at the moment are defined in my own stylesheet. I can see them fine but nobody else will be able to until those changes are put in. But I can change it back for the time being. Same applies to those two navigation templates - once the changes are put in, they'll look like what they should to every user. --Pyramidhead 19:29, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Also, we may not have settled the "extra info," but there seems to be a solid consensus that at least the style changes and the extra episode info are things we want to start on. I can change all the pages over to the new templates with the bot, but hold off on extra stuff until we reach a consensus. --Pyramidhead 19:32, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
OK, the first bit sounds good (about just changing the style). But wouldn't it be easier if the sidebars were all just in one, rather than having two separate ones? One of the good things about our system is that it is all in one sidebar and its just going to be extra work and more to think about when making new pages/adding sidebars.
One final thing, can you stop saving the page before you finish what you're writing? I've had two edit conflicts when trying to write this response. You seem to have forgotten about the "Preview" button recently and it does cause issues. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:36, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I always seem to find something to fix after I save. Okay, Template:Sidebar test now contains the functionality of both iu and oou, with one caveat: because of the new episode navigation thing, "season" and "seasons" are distinct - season is for episodes, while seasons is for characters/places/etc. Other than that, it's pretty similar to the existing sidebar. Once you put in those changes, I'll switch the current sidebar over to the new one. --Pyramidhead 20:04, June 8, 2010 (UTC)
Right, so all you want me to do is paste the stuff you emailed me into Common.css? Is there something for Monobook.css? I only got one email through. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 00:22, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, I sent two. I'll send them both again. Just to be clear, you should paste everything in the emails over the current versions - they're the same except for the changes I made. --Pyramidhead 00:57, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
OK Pyramidhead, I've updated the two pages. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 10:04, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
Looks good so far, we just need to check random pages to make sure that the bot didn't randomly goof up something here or there. Very excellent work Pyramidhead!
There is an extremely minor detail I'd like to bring up that may be worth changing. Currently, the space between the field name and the datum — Status: Alive / Season(s): 5 — is too tiny in my opinion. Can you increase the space after the colon? It would make it seem less crowded. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 22:32, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
Sure thing. --Movebot 01:45, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
1. Could someone update the documentation (Wiki 24:Sidebar documentation) for the sidebar? I will need to learn it from scratch anyway and that documentation has been rendered useless.
2. Pyramidhead now that you've whipped out the bot again, would it be possible for you to use it and go through and replaced all instances of the old appearances templates, like Template:Appearances6, from all namespaces and articles? Blue Rook  talk  contribs 02:17, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
Added some new docs. --Movebot 02:52, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
Excellent... but 1 thing, how come deleted characters like Danny (deleted) got their "Deleted appearances" templates removed entirely instead of replaced? Blue Rook  talk  contribs 18:47, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
Because the title would still be "24 media featuring so-and-so," which is inaccurate. Anyway, it's pretty unnecessary since they're only in one episode and it's listed in the sidebar. --Pyramidhead 19:15, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
You've got to let everyone know when you alter something beyond the original parameters of a change. (Your ideas are excellent but their sweep often proves to be more expansive than originally explained, and it steps on people's toes!) The precedent is, for these non-canon characters, that they get an appearances template with a different heading: "Deleted appearances". Since your new template has text inside it that complicates things, we need to either add an alternative text line specifically for non-canon characters or create a new appearances template just for them... not delete the template altogether from their pages. And, your argument that it's unnecessary because they only appear in 1 episode doesn't hold since many canonical characters also have only 1 episode, and we'd never consider removing their templates. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 03:14, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
Ignoring this won't make the problem go away. Please fix or explain otherwise here. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 07:13, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't ignoring this, I was focusing on the other discussion and didn't notice you had updated this. If you insist, I can make another title option, but really, is it necessary? The original function of the appearances template was to be a substitute for really long lists of episodes. For these characters, there is only one such episode, and it's already listed elsewhere on the page. They're never, ever going to be in another, so it seems pointless to have a giant table with one bolded link to declare the obvious, both visually and textually. And yes, I would argue this for any character that was only in a single episode or other medium. --Pyramidhead 19:17, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
We've always had appearances templates for all characters, even the non-canon ones. Just reinsert the template for them, and if it's easy to do, create a separate line of text for the template that's special for them or turn it off altogether. Nobody will be confused: it already said "Deleted appearances" in the heading anyway. Also, I believe it's out of the question to remove templates for the characters with 1 appearance, be they canon or non-canon. They are a highly useful visual to see when in a season they appeared in relation to the other episodes. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 19:48, June 17, 2010 (UTC)
Waiting for this to happen is pretty brutal man. It's like being ignored and avoided continuously. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 13:11, June 21, 2010 (UTC)

storyby & teleplayby Edit

Just a temporary thread: storyby and teleplayby are currently broken. It seems that they guides are supposed to have simply "teleplay" and "story" without the "by" inside the word. I think the guides should be changed instead of the template being changed. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 22:43, June 9, 2010 (UTC)

Why do you think that? It would be a helluva lot easier to just change the template. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 23:01, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
Because the words in the template should be minimized to the fewest characters necessary. The "by" isn't needed at all. Plus it's just a bot doing the changes, it's not being done manually right? Blue Rook  talk  contribs 23:16, June 9, 2010 (UTC)
Ah that's a good point, I hadn't thought of the bot. But it doesn't really matter anymore I don't think how many words there is in the pages because they won't really be changed ever. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 23:32, June 9, 2010 (UTC)

IU informationEdit

Now that the switching over is taken care of, I'll bring it up again. Is there any reason why we shouldn't put as much helpful info in the sidebar as possible? And don't give me that they'll be different lengths - the point of a sidebar is to collect everything known about a certain thing in one place, whether that consists of several volumes or just their name. From where I stand, it can only improve the quality of the wiki as a whole, so why not? --Pyramidhead 17:07, June 10, 2010 (UTC)

What's the complete list of factoids to be listed there, for the maximum? My answer would probably be "yes but remove [certain facts]". The one thing that doesn't belong in a sidebar is a list of people, for organizations and businesses articles. The Starkwood article should have its list of employees inside the article body, in a section, instead of the sidebar, for one example. That's definitely too much clutter. But most other things I probably approve of. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 04:00, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
In certain cases, I think it's fine to list the employees in the sidebar. Maybe in extreme cases like Omicron, with a hundred off-screen people, we would use the in-article list. But I don't see the problem with putting everything in one place. --Pyramidhead 18:06, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
I added the list of extra information that I want to see included. --Pyramidhead 18:46, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
My main concern is with information that changes from season to season or that is far from current. For example, listing all the Residences Jack has had resulting in a list of 7-8 different places with no information indicating when it was. Also, the Affiliation and Profession bits suffer from the same problem. Family seems okay to me because it is a more consistent bit of info, and so is Education, probably (not that the show really cares what college any character attended to, but well). Thief12 04:46, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it's important to qualify when, although it would be possible. Mostly it's just to provide a list of links of what they've done and where they've been, which can then be followed for further information. It should certainly be ordered, though, whether from most recent to least or vice versa. --Pyramidhead 18:06, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
I agree that family and things are OK, but I agree with Thief that stuff like "Residence" and "Work Experience" are unnecessary for a sidebar. If characters have this information, why not have it in the article text? There's no need for it to be in the sidebar. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 18:09, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
Everything in the sidebar is going to be referenced in the article at some point, obviously; that doesn't mean we should just cut it all out and let the readers search the page for whatever they're after. It doesn't make sense to deem certain info "acceptable" and other info "unnecessary" - the point is to summarize the character's history in a nutshell, which includes where they've lived and at least some of the jobs we've seen them do. --Pyramidhead 18:38, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
Keep in mind that most of what I'm proposing is already featured in list form within the article text, under the arbitrary "Background" or "Personal" section. All this does is move it to an immediately viewable location with the character's other stats. --Pyramidhead 18:58, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
But why bother summarizing the character's history "in a nutshell" when the exact same info is included at a slightly different point in the article? In most cases it is the first heading of character's articles so therefore it is already in an immediately viewable location. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:36, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
One of the reasons I did this was to eliminate those sections. Half the time, they started as direct lifts from the Fox website, which we then added on to arbitrarily as the show went on. Ideally, the sidebar would replace the "Background" section, so that we would have a consistent way of presenting that information for every page. That's what I did on the example pages for Tony Almeida and David Palmer. --Pyramidhead 19:39, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
But you just said above that "the point is to summarize the character's history in a nutshell" and that "most of what I'm proposing is already featured in list form within the article text", which I assumed you meant it would stay there in more detail. If you don't mean that, then I refer back to my previous argument that it seems unnecessary to squash all the information into the sidebar when it is perfectly fine at the top of the page. You said that this would provide a consistent way of presenting the information for every page; well why don't we just go through the "Personal" section of every page and make sure that it is all consistently presented? --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:58, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
Sorry if I was unclear. I know that I was the one who originally pushed for the "Background" section, but in retrospect it's not a very good system: it takes into account the character's entire history on the show, which breaks up the narrative flow from "Before Day X," "Day X," etc. The sidebar doesn't have that problem - it's immediately clear that it refers to the character as a whole, rather than their experiences before a given season. It's also completely arbitrary who gets one and who doesn't. The sidebar has two major advantages over the current, vaguely defined system: (a) it's much more attractive and professional-looking, and (b) it can be applied to every character, not just those who had a profile on the official website. I mean, Cole Ortiz at one point had a "Personal" section that consisted solely of his relationship with Dana. Why not just condense that information (which, for most characters, is fairly sparse) into the sidebar? --Pyramidhead 00:18, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
As you know, I'm totally with you on the look of it. This new sidebar looks way better and I commend you for making it look a lot more impressive than the old one. But that doesn't really have anything to do with the information that's included on it. While I agree this system would work better for characters like Cole, it just makes it look like we've crammed too much information on pages for people like Jack, Tony or Palmer who have loads of stuff in their "Personal" section. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 20:37, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
I don't feel it's crammed at all. If it is, it's a simple task to widen the template so that fewer lines are used. Look, we have to settle on one system or the other, not pick and choose based on how important each character is. For all the reasons I've mentioned, this sidebar is the best option on the table. --Pyramidhead 00:19, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
The thing is that in a show like this, knowing about David Palmer's work experience or Jack Bauer's education doesn't really add a lot to the experience of the show. That's why I really don't see the importance of having that info on a sidebar as if it was relevant when, in all truth, it isn't. Now, if anyone wants to find out about it, they can surely find it in the article within a "Personal information" section, but not cluttered in a sidebar where, IMO, it ends up being more confusing. Thief12 20:49, June 11, 2010 (UTC)
That info actually is relevant to some of the novels I've read, where Jack's educational background comes up occasionally. Even if it didn't, though, "relevance" isn't something that should be considered with regard to the sidebar - the purpose is to collect everything known about the character in one place, regardless of whether or not it factored heavily into the show. Dropping that would be like not including Wayne Palmer's wife because she was never seen. (Okay, maybe not the best example, but still.) --Pyramidhead 00:18, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
2 things: (1) You're saying that Jack's educational info is relevant to some of the novels you've read... the very same novels you're trying to discredit as being non-canonical. (2) You say that the purpose is to collect "everything" known about the character in one place and you've yet to convince me that the right place is the sidebar as opposed to the article proper. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 01:30, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
  1. That's not what I'm doing at all, and even if it were, it's irrelevant to this discussion.
  2. I'm running out of ways to explain the purpose of this proposal. Just take a look at any other wiki with a similar scope as ours. Check out a random page on Wookieepedia, Lostpedia, GTA Wiki, The Vault, or Memory Alpha, to name the first few that come to mind. The concept of using a sidebar to provide basic biographical info is not at all new or unheard of; it's widely regarded as an ideal way to provide a broad overview of a character without forcing the reader to jump to various other sections. Because it is. I'm mystified as to why so many here are so uncomfortable with it, because the subject matter we cover is perfectly suited to it. --Pyramidhead 08:02, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
Well, I just hope you don't take it personally. I, for one, admire your efforts. Still, I don't see why we should do things like they do in other wikis. If I were a regular at Wookieepedia, I would probably complain about the same thing. I checked several pages (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker) and each of the sidebars looked pretty fine, except the one about Luke, which I felt was unnecessarily huge with all the information about Affiliations, Apprentices, Masters, etc. In Lostpedia, I have the same problem with the Occupation section of the sidebar, although I would say it doesn't look as messy or cluttered as others. Then again, I don't think it's a thing of how other wikis do it, but how the sidebar would work for OUR wiki. Thief12 16:44, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I don't (take it personally). I just haven't heard a compelling reason why we shouldn't do this. It's better in both consistency and style than what we do now. As cliched as it is, all those sites can't be wrong. Also, with regard to the Anakin example, none of ours would ever be that long or packed with info, except maybe for Jack's, which isn't that long as it is now. --Pyramidhead 17:13, June 12, 2010 (UTC)
SignorSimon, I noticed you don't seem to mind extra IU things in the sidebar with regard to weapons and items - you added some fields to the template. Why are those uses acceptable while doing the equivalent for a character is not? --Pyramidhead 08:10, June 14, 2010 (UTC)
I didn't say that everything that you've added is unacceptable, I just said that we didn't need as much of the stuff you're suggesting in there. Things like family are alright because it doesn't look like tonnes of info squashed into one place. On the other hand, work experience has so much information written for each different job he has had that it is impossible to have it there without abbreviated it, and to me it just looks very squashed. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 09:53, June 14, 2010 (UTC)
Okay. Would it help if the sidebar were wider? Because that's certainly possible to do - I really don't think there's an unreasonable amount of information as it is now, or at least enough that squashing is really an issue. If we are going to include information beyond just status and episodes, it should be as thorough as possible - it doesn't make to simply leave out professions, especially since virtually every other character has only one. --Pyramidhead 06:40, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
I widened the Jack Bauer example. Now it's much closer to the sidebars used on Memory Alpha, which I "borrowed" the new template from, in part. Does it help at all now that everything fits on a single line? Compared to some of their character articles, the current size really is not that bad. --Pyramidhead 06:44, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
That does look a heck of a lot less squashed. And as Jack, Tony and Palmer are the only characters who are going to have a sidebar that's of any length like this it won't intrude too much into the article. I'm coming around to it more like this, but we definitely need to hear back from others before we can start doing all this, namely Blue Rook, Proudhug and Thief12. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 10:08, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
Well, I agree that it looks significantly better. Thief12 21:07, June 15, 2010 (UTC)
I'm glad you two came around! Now, as far as I know, Blue Rook supports most of the IU additions. No idea on Proudhug's position, I'm surprised he hasn't at least dropped in yet. --Pyramidhead 06:43, June 17, 2010 (UTC)
We definitely shouldn't do anything until Proudhug says something, and I would like to hear Rook's final opinion if you don't mind. --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 10:18, June 17, 2010 (UTC)
I'm cool with it with just a handful of delays, mostly minor:
  1. There should still be some additional space between the fields — like Nielsen rating: — and the corresponding data — like 4.0/9 (11.81m). I'm talking like a centimeter or something. Just a bit more. The text is tiny enough so we need less crowding.
  2. Date of birth —seen on the Kiefer Sandbox example — should probably be Birthdate, just like Birthplace, because it's too crowded and flows onto another line.
  3. Over on the Starkwood Sandbox example, it lists the Employees. This is very good... but only if it isn't too crowded! Articles like CTU, FBI, and other gigantic groups definitely cannot have all their employees listed. I'd say a dozen or so for any page whatsoever, tops. No exceptions, regardless how long the article itself is. We can put a "see here for more" link in the sidebar for the complete list of the list is long, following a handful of highlight examples.
Do these ideas sound reasonable? Also Pyramidhead scroll up I put a reply to the Non-canon topic there too just now. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 19:48, June 17, 2010 (UTC)
Sounds great. The crowding isn't an issue anymore; I decided it looks better if the labels are aligned left. --Pyramidhead 20:32, June 17, 2010 (UTC)
I apologize for not chiming in on this topic, but I must say, it's has been quite an entertaining thread to follow! Truth be told, I honestly don't have much of an opinion on this one way or the other. I see Pyramidhead has gone ahead and started implementing it anyway, however. I do agree that it looks nice, and I also do agree that too much information on it may not be a good idea. I appreciate you wanting my input on this, but I'm probably fine with what everyone else agrees upon. --proudhug 18:36, June 18, 2010 (UTC)
At the moment, the sidebar for Gary Klausner has "caption" under his main image. Pyramidhead, or someone, gotta fix that, it's ugly. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 05:21, June 20, 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, the #if statement was messed up for a while and I didn't realize. It works now. --Pyramidhead 05:31, June 20, 2010 (UTC)
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