It would be great to have Wowhead tooltips on questions. It requires linking this JavaScript, which in turn loads this script and this stylesheet.

The script scans the page for any links pointing to *.wowhead.com and adds tooltips when they are moused over that display the item info. (Demo)

A couple problems I can see with this are:

  • Only useful for World of Warcraft questions, and a waste of bandwidth on others (although presumably it would only be loaded once, then cached). Perhaps it could only be loaded if the question is tagged ?
  • Depends on an external script that isn't hosted by SOIS, Inc, unlike the Mathjax library used on Math.SE/Physics.SE. Possible security risk. (What if Wowhead gets hacked/turns evil and their JS is modified to serve popups?) Wowhead does provide raw XML data, so we could host their script locally or roll our own.

Regardless, it'd be incredibly useful to be instantly pull up more info when reading posts like this one.

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You can circumvent the issue of security by hosting the script locally. You lose immediate access to updates to the scripts, but you gain the peace of mind in knowing that you are loading something hosted locally and not subject to what happens elsewhere. –  Shaun Mar 2 '11 at 21:01
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As I think about this more, I fell strongly that we need a policy decision from SE on the general idea of including third-party tooltip scripts before we dive too deeply into this specific case. I have posed the question over at Meta@Stack Overflow. –  Shaun Mar 7 '11 at 20:51
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2 Answers

I agree that having such tooltips can be really cool, but I'm strongly against this. The two problems you raise are too severe in my opinion, and for helping a subset of questions from one tag, it's just not worth it. It's appropriate for a WoW-specific site, but not for us.

Not to mention that there are probably similar things for other games as well, and if we open the door for one game that means other games might get that as well, and that will quickly turn into an unmaintainable nightmare.

All that said, these tooltips can be enabled on the client's side via a user script; I suggest mentioning this script on the tag wiki page for WoW and encouraging users (again, via that wiki page) to use appropriate URLs in their posts to utilize it.

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Generally-speaking, I agree. I think it goes beyond the scope mentioned in this answer, though. It's not whether Gaming should include Wowhead tooltips, it's whether SE should utilize third-party JS. I think this would set a precedent not only here but across all sites, and I feel like it would quickly complicate matters and muddy the design aesthetics of the sites. In the few cases where specific users would benefit from such an inclusion, I think Oak's suggestion of using a Greasemonkey script in Firefox or Chrome meets the needs of the users nicely. –  Shaun Mar 2 '11 at 21:25
    
@Oak I'm not sure I understand your argument. Do you think you could clarify it some for me? –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 17:02
    
@Shaun we already have "pop-up" style tool tips for tags. If you're concern is about muddying the aesthetics of the site, then you dislike those? or would you be ok with Wowhead tooltips with a similar look? –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 17:04
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@tzenes My problem isn't really with the styling of the Wowhead tooltips on Gaming so much. I think they'd be fine as-is although would be better with some tweaks. However, I worry that not enforcing a standard appearance (such as 'make it look like Gaming's tooltips') will result in graphically-diverse tooltips being used on SE sites. I think that'd kill some of the attraction of the design. Forcing 3rd party tooltips to look like SE's tooltips would resolve the problem nicely, provided the 3rd party site (or a volunteer) can be bothered to create a SE-specific stylesheet. –  Shaun Mar 7 '11 at 17:13
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@tzenes (1) if we do something for one game, we should be prepared to do it to many other games - that's something that should be carefully considered (2) we should avoid introducing dependencies on external website (3) we need to consider the return-on-investment - this is something that seems to be useful only for a small subset of questions on the site, we need to weigh that benefit with the downsides of additional scripts (page size, computational impact on the client and/or server, maintainability, etc.). –  Oak Mar 7 '11 at 17:20
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@Oak ignoring the slippery slope for a second (as we can set rules for that), is your concern that we won't notice if WoWHead goes down? The JS could to a prefetch and not show the tooltip if the server can't be reached. Considering the RoI, what do you consider to be the additional costs? Webdeveloper time? Page Weight? I can see why the three things you list are potential problems we should handle, but I'm not seeing strongly against this yet. What's the issue that is so large for you that its make or break? –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 17:24
    
@tzenes if you want me to ignore some of my arguments, then my opinion does indeed become less "strong" :) it's the combination that make me oppose it so strongly. If I have to point at the biggest thing that bothers me, though, it's the dependency - an external site may fail (or become malicious, or introduce a vulnerability). Your approach of writing it so it won't work when the other site does not respond in time is good, but then it leads to an inconsistent experience on this site. And, as I said, a single dependency can suddenly become multiple dependencies when other games are considered –  Oak Mar 7 '11 at 18:01
    
@Oak I don't mean to demean your viewpoint, I just can't understand your reluctance. Everything you said sounds like a requirement, not a reason to reject. For example, if you're worried about inconsistant experiences we could use a cache to guarantee the data persistance. There doesn't seem to be a philosophical reason to reject that underlies your beliefs and I know you well enough to know that you must have one for such a strong opinion –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 18:37
    
@tzenes maybe my strong reason is that the day before I answered this I heard a lecture about cross-site scripting :) and yes, I guess that if you say my arguments should be requirements instead, then it isn't that bad. –  Oak Mar 7 '11 at 20:39
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I'm not against tooltips and I'm not against opening the door to other games. Jeff has said they are happy to consider JS postprocessors for posts.

Such tooltips however, should, in my humble view, be consistent with the site:

  • Use the already existent CSS styling for tag tooltips ()

  • Wait half a second/one second before opening (like the tag tooltips do)

  • Typically not be any larger than such tooltips: only show essential information.

  • Not contain tables or images (monochrome white glyphs would be fine however).

  • Link to a variety of resources (not just wowhead, but other sites. There surely must be a wiki, e.g.?)

The WoWhead tooltips do not match any of that, so I can't support it personally.

I don't get to choose what gets added and what doesn't. The above is just common sense.

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Consistency of styling is a great goal, but we've discussed in chat that there really isn't much in the way of inessential information in a typical wowhead tooltip. Yes, they're long. But none of the info is useful without all of it sadly. Linking to other resources is also doable, but largely pointless for the specific purpose for which wowhead gets used. WoWPedia (the wiki) pages for items tend to be... exceptionally useless and largely auto-populated via datamining. Compare: WH, WoWPedia. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 3 '11 at 14:52
    
@Less That means I'd rather see no popups for WoW; if other games can have meanigful, sensible popups then bring it on! –  badp Mar 3 '11 at 15:03
    
@Less take a look at this website The popups they have for tooltips tend to be rather small and content heavy. It looks very much like what you want, unless I'm missing something –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 17:29
    
@tzenes That's a function of the specific data being linked (spells and talents, as opposed to items), rather than of any design on MMO-Champion's part. Looking at item tooltips such as you find in this post that it has all the same issues that @badp finds WoWheads tooltips to have. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 7 '11 at 17:58
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@tzenes: MMO-Champion and Wowhead show basically the same information in their tooltips. You're seeing shorter tooltips on that page because you're seeing tooltips for spells as opposed to items. An example from Wowhead shows similar tooltips for spells, whereas this example from MMO-Champion shows that items tooltips get a little crazy no matter who shows them. Both sites strive to show the tooltips just like they are in-game. –  Shaun Mar 7 '11 at 17:59
    
@less ok what if it was just spells, not items? –  tzenes Mar 7 '11 at 18:32
    
@tzenes First off, to be clear, I'm in favor of adding the tooltips. It's @badp who raised the objection that they are 'too long' and suggested stripping information as a compromise, which is what I objected to. That said, beyond the fact that I don't believe there's any (existing) means of doing so, I'd personally find it of very limited usefulness. In general, item tooltips, while being the longest, are also the most useful in context. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 7 '11 at 18:33
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