Hello! My name is Stuart, also known as TwoTailedFox, and I am a member of Vanguard, Wikia's community outreach and future-proofing task force. I'm here today to talk to you about Portable Infoboxes, and why it is now a good idea to have more than one on your Wiki.


Portable Infoboxes allow us to display information across a wider range of devices than the current Wikitext-based system currently allows, but they grant us several other features:

  • The appearance of these Infoboxes is standardised, as the CSS is stored in a protected location, and is no longer a concern when building an Infobox from scratch; the theme and appearance of these Infoboxes won't change. This means that, when creating your Infoboxes, you no longer need to duplicate and re-use code meant exclusively for styling.
  • The layout of Portable Infoboxes is now streamlined, and highly organized, allowing for cleaner code, and faster editing by allowing you to more quickly locate what you want to change.
  • The Portable Infobox system allows us to future-proof your content by allowing newer and developing Wikia technologies better access to the data represented in your Infoboxes.
LEGO Bricks

LEGO Bricks, like Portable Infoboxes segments, are each specialized for a particular space and need.

Now, in the past, it made sense to consolidate Infoboxes together to reduce code duplication, and I have been a serial abuser of this mentality in the past. However, with the changes Wikia is introducing with Portable Infoboxes, now is the time to talk about Data Specialization. Specifically, about having multiple Infoboxes, with a different one for each type of content that is being described.

A case study

Encyclopedia Gamia has recently joined the Portable Infobox initiative, and while it has not yet completed the transition, it is moving toward that goal; Encyclopedia Gamia is a perfect example of the type of Infobox system that will now become super-useful as Wikia further develops the Portable Infobox system.

Encyclopedia Gamia uses separate Infoboxes to describe the following:

  • Video Games
  • Characters from Video Games
  • Companies related to developing, publishing and distributing Video Games
  • Hardware used to play Video Games
  • Websites that dedicate time and/or attention to covering Video Games
  • People involved with developing, publishing and distributing Video Games
  • Media, such as Soundtracks or individual pieces of music, for Video Games
  • Concepts, items, and lore from Video Games

This system means that we get to refine our use of categories, whilst ensuring that our Infoboxes don't get too big. This is one of the biggest problems with the template I initially linked above; an Infobox becomes a liability if it becomes too large, because it requires taking up additional computational resources to process and display the data that requires it. Portable Infoboxes are optimized to require fewer resources to display the same amount of data.

What's the meaning of this?

Reinventing the Wheel

Unlike this user, our approach to reinventing the wheel adds functionality, instead of removing it

Now, I know some of you are asking, "How does this benefit me? I just want people to be able to see my content."

Well, a system similar to the above actually benefits a wiki's administration a great deal; the use of specific categories allows better management of your articles, and allows Wikia to better adapt the data in the Infobox based on the family of data it represents. In other words; it allows Wikia to tell the difference between the articles Electronic Arts, a company, and Jade Empire, a video game, and that means that Wikia is better able to display that data based on the Infobox that that is used.

Keeping it simple

This will differ by community and the breadth of data that is covered, but in general, think of it like this; "Vehicle" is too broad, "Ford" is too specific, but "Car" is just right. Now, I know that Gamia's system is very much under the "Vehicle" position to its Infoboxes, but it's the exception to the rule because of its data coverage. In general, wikis such as, say, Game of Thrones, will have Infoboxes in categories such as Characters, Episodes, and Houses.

It is generally easier to construct a template when we know that the type of data has been predefined. For example:

|type  = Video Game
|title = Monopoly

can be replaced with:

|title = Monopoly

Strictly speaking, even title isn't necessary, because we can define a default to use the magic word {{PAGENAME}}, which automatically grabs the name of the article it's in as the title. This separation also allows the use of specific categories for articles.

There are two primary options for creating and using your new Infoboxes: Visual Editor, and Source Mode, with Special:InfoboxBuilder providing access to both options. As an experienced editor, I prefer Source Mode, but for new and inexperienced editors, the Visual Editor may be able to provide a more appealing interface. With Visual Editor, you can insert an Infobox, and all of the field names (like "title") will be visible to you. No more guesswork about what that's called ("Was it name? title? description? summary? caption?")

Further Customization


If anyone has any questions regarding Portable Infoboxes, or about Vanguard itself, the members of Team Vanguard, myself included, are available for help. We're also available to help wikis migrate their existing Infobox systems to the new format if you think you need a hand in doing so.

We can be consulted for both the planning and implementation stages of Portable Infobox migration, and if need be, we can use bots to process and migrate articles that require it, saving hours or potentially days of coding.