Today the Wikimedia Foundation announced a demonstration of a forthcoming new WYSIWYG editor for Wikipedia, in the hope that making it easier for people to edit without having to understand confusing symbols or wikitext markup will lead more people to edit the wiki. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to learn a new coding language in order to contribute what you know. (According to TechCrunch, only about 0.7% of Wikipedia users are active contributors to the site, making up about half of the entries.)
While the demonstration version still lacks a number of key features and is restricted to working in a separate sandbox on the site, the developers pledge to work with the community in months to come to find bugs and finish developing the editor into something fit for everybody to use.
It certainly makes sense that hesitation over the often-arcane ins and outs of wikitext could prevent some people from publishing. There are WYSIWYG editors out there already, of course, that provide toolbars comparable to what you might find on Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, but you have to be somewhat tech-savvy already to install them and they’re not really any more non-tech-user-friendly than the default editor. I do wonder whether it will affect the quality of Wikipedia in a positive or negative sense if more people start editing.