Hey, Wikipedia. Here is a free idea.

If you are anything like me, you like to read a few articles a day. Sometimes it happens that I run into an unknown topic or definition and in such cases I often refer to Google’s Instant functionality or Wikipedia.

The other day I was educating myself more about the intricate and wonderful world of machine intelligence, and I ran into a few concepts that were unknown to me.

I Googled it and followed the Wikipedia link.

The Problem

After quickly surveying the page I located the topic I was after: Long Short-term Memory — by then I only knew it referred to a type of network for machine learning.

As soon as a started reading the first line about long-short-term memory networks, I discovered a trifling nuance: a staggering amount of acronyms and initialism. While potentially mundane to the computing science community, I felt immediately lost and had to stop reading. I tried to recall having seen or read anything about those initialisms.

Bottom line is that as I user I had to interrupt my reading (a main event in a site like Wikipedia) because there wasn’t a tool designed to guide me in such a case.

You may suggest that if I didn’t know those by then, I should start by learning what they are. True, but we are here to discuss user experience.

At that moment I thought it would be quite helpful to think of a simple and elegant solution for this particular pain point.

A Solution

While there may be a handful of solutions for this pain point, I thought of the following:

I imagined that a rollover tooltip solution would be simple and opportune in this case. As a user I would hover on the acronym or initialism (whether a link or not) and quickly be shown its meaning, along with an action to learn more. This way I have an extra layer of guidance to my reading before deciding to abandon it, as in most cases I find that I had seen or read what the text stood for but only failed to recall it.

One last thing…

I’d like to hear what you think of this quick review/idea and if you are a Wikipedia user who would appreciate such an optimization.

I plan to do similar posts in the future; “modest” optimization ideas for services I use on a daily basis. Why? User Experience is 20% anticipation and 80% optimization. The later is 100% directed by the user’s voice and this will be my (other) way of voicing.

Thanks for reading.