Wikipedia now offers link previews -- but you can disable them

Wikipedia page

When you decide to look up anything on Wikipedia, you run the very serious risk of falling down a rabbit hole that will take you many hours to find your way back out of. To help avoid the problem of going off on too much of a tangent, the site recently introduced a new link preview feature.

It's a simple idea which means that it is possible to preview a page before you visit it, simply by hovering over the link. But it's not to everyone's taste. If you've noticed the new feature and want to kill it, you'll be pleased to hear that you can.

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Wikipedia says that it has undertaken a series of tests to determine the best way to roll out the feature. Olga Vasileva from Wikimedia (Wikipedia's parent company) says that the aim of the page preview feature is to enable people to "satisfy their curiosity or clarify a confusing or unknown topic without the burden of opening a new page and navigating back to the original." She goes on to say:

Based on our A/B tests so far, we're succeeding in this goal. For one, the rates of disabling the feature are negligibly low -- a strong indicator that people find it useful. For two, each reader is interacting with the content of more pages while navigating the site, as people are able to engage with knowledge on Wikipedia in more meaningful and efficient ways. And for three, the number of classical pageviews is slightly decreasing.

That might seem like a strange thing to be happy about, but pageviews (one of our main measures of desktop traffic), while an important benchmark for understanding how Wikipedia is accessed, is only one way we measure engagement with Wikipedia. For the Wikimedia Foundation, success is based on how we're able to fulfill our free knowledge mission and make the Wikimedia sites more useful, relevant, and engaging for people around the world, even if it means our pageviews might go down as an effect.

This is all well and good if you're a fan of the feature, but what about if you're not. Should you find the previews to be too much, too overwhelming, or just unwanted, use the following steps to get rid of them:

  1. Hover your cursor over a link in a Wikipedia entry to activate a preview.
  2. Click the gear icon in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Select the Disable option, and then click Save.

Image credit: Stanislau Palaukou / Shutterstock

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