November 28, 2014

Wikimedia UK

Final report on Wikimedia UK governance released

This post was written by Michael Maggs, Chair of Wikimedia UK

On behalf of the Wikimedia UK board I am pleased to announce the publication of the third and final report on the charity’s governance. The report has been prepared by Rosie Chapman and Sarah Loader of Belinda Pratten and Rosie Chapman Associates. It marks the conclusion of a process that began almost two years ago.

This report is the second Chapman review and is a follow-up independent audit of the progress that Wikimedia UK has made to improve its governance since January 2013. It comes 18 months after completion of the initial 2013 governance review (the Hudson review) and nine months after the first follow-up audit (the first Chapman review) which covered progress in addressing the Hudson review’s recommendations.

In summary, Chapman found:

“The charity has very largely addressed the 50 recommendations found within the original review. WMUK has developed very quickly, and the charity has clearly put a lot of effort into ensuring that its governance now meets best practice expectations. It has a cohesive, skilled and experienced board in place. They have a clear understanding of the charity’s vision and mission”.

In the section comparing WMUK with similar UK charities, we were pleased to note Chapman’s conclusion (para 42) that:

“For the stage that Wikimedia is in its life cycle it compares well with similar UK charities. Its transparency about its procedures is a beacon of best practice, and its conflicts of interest procedures are robust and well-tested”.

She further observes (paras 14 and 15) that:

“Inevitably, a lot of the Board’s efforts have to-date been internally focussed; putting in place robust governance arrangements and agreeing the new strategy that was published in March this year. Whilst there is still some fine-tuning to bed in the strategy, for example linking particular outcomes with detailed objectives, targets, budgets and performance measurement through-out the organisation, there is also the chance for WMUK’s Board to become more outward focussed in its time and efforts. This will, in turn, enable the Board to consider opportunities and choices for what the organisation does to deliver its strategy, and how it should be resourced to do so.

“From our discussion with trustees and staff it is clear that there is a real appetite for this shift in the board’s focus, and to consider more external opportunities”.

The report is worth reading in its entirety, as it includes a wealth of advice, analysis and commentary that will be of interest and use not only to Wikimedia UK itself but also to the community at large and to other organisations within the movement.

On behalf of the board I would once again like to thank Rosie Chapman for her comprehensive and insightful analysis which will be of great help in enabling us to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

by Stevie Benton at November 28, 2014 05:33 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia #Labs - my #stake is rare, bruised

I have a stake in Wikimedia Labs. I rely on it. I am not the only one. Wikimedia chapters rely on it; they need it for many of their activities. Glam is one area vital to them that relies on Labs.

For the Wikimedia Foundation, Labs is second tier. They have a few people dedicated to Labs. Good people, well intentioned people but what they offer is not production quality. They cannot for several reasons. There are not enough resources for them to do what is needed.

Chapters are second class citizens as well, The fact that Labs is vital to achieve their aims so far did not make a noticeable difference. In my opinion it is not only the Wikimedia Foundation who can and should make a difference. It is the chapters themselves as well.

I urge the chapters to invest in Wikimedia Labs.. It is BOTH the responsibility of the WMF and the chapters to provide adequate support. During business hours operational support should be available. Stakeholders in both WMF projects and chapter projects rely on adequate service.

Today is black friday in the USA. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. When all staff celebrate their turkey we are left to fend with even less.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 28, 2014 07:18 AM

November 27, 2014

Andrew Gray

Wikidata and identifiers – part 2, the matching process

Yesterday, I wrote about the work we’re doing matching identifiers into Wikidata. Today, the tools we use for it!


The main tool we’re using is a beautiful thing Magnus developed called mix-and-match. It imports all the identifiers with some core metadata – for the ODNB, for example, this was names and dates and the brief descriptive text – and sorts them into five groups:

  • Manually matched – these matches have been confirmed by a person (or imported from data already in Wikidata);

  • Automatic – the system has guessed these are probably the same people but wants human confirmation;
  • Unmatched – we have no idea who these identifiers match to;
  • No Wikidata – we know there is currently no Wikidata match;
  • N/A – this identifier shouldn’t match to a Wikidata entity (for example, it’s a placeholder, a subject Wikidata will never cover, or an cross-reference with its own entry).

The goal is to work through everything and move as much as possible to “manually matched”. Anything in this group can then be migrated over to Wikidata with a couple of clicks. Here’s the ODNB as it stands today:

(Want to see what’s happening with the data? The recent changes link will show you the last fifty edits to all the lists.)

So, how do we do this? Firstly, you’ll need a Wikipedia account, and to log in to our “WiDaR” authentication tool. Follow the link on the top of the mix-and-match page (or, indeed, this one), sign in with your Wikipedia account if requested, and you’ll be authorised.

On to the matching itself. There’s two methods – manually, or in a semi-automated “game mode”.

How to match – manually

The first approach works line-by-line. Clicking on one of the entries – here, unmatched ODNB – brings up the first fifty entries in that set. Each one has options on the left hand side – to search Wikidata or English Wikipedia, either by the internal search or Google. On the right-hand side, there are three options – “set Q”, to provide it with a Wikidata ID (these are all of the form Q—–, and so we often call them “Q numbers”); “No WD”, to list it as not on Wikidata; “N/A”, to record that it’s not appropriate for Wikidata matching.

If you’ve found a match on Wikidata, the ID number should be clearly displayed at the top of that page. Click “set Q” and paste it in. If you’ve found a match via Wikipedia, you can click the “Wikidata” link in the left-hand sidebar to take you to the corresponding Wikidata page, and get the ID from there.

After a moment, it’ll display a very rough-and-ready precis of what’s on Wikidata next to that line –

- which makes it easy to spot if you’ve accidentally pasted in the wrong code! Here, we’ve identified one person (with rather limited information, just gender and deathdate, currently in Wikidata, and marked another as definitely not found)

If you’re using the automatically matched list, you’ll see something like this:

- it’s already got the data from the possible matches but wants you to confirm. Clicking on the Q-number will take you to the provisional Wikidata match, and from there you can get to relevant Wikipedia articles if you need further confirmation.

How to match – game mode

We’ve also set up a “game mode”. This is suitable when we expect a high number of the unmatched entries to be connectable to Wikipedia articles; it gives you a random entry from the unmatched list, along with a handful of possible results from a Wikipedia search, and asks you to choose the correct one if it’s there. you can get it by clicking [G] next to the unmatched entries.

Here’s an example, using the OpenPlaques database.

In this one, it was pretty clear that their Roy Castle is the same as the first person listed here (remember him?), so we click the blue Q-number; it’s marked as matched, and the game generates a new entry. Alternatively, we could look him up elsewhere and paste the Q-number or Wikipedia URL in, then click the “set Q” button. If our subject’s not here – click “skip” and move on to the next one.

Finishing up

When you’ve finished matching, go back to the main screen and click the [Y] at the end of the list. This allows you to synchronise the work you’ve done with Wikidata – it will make the edits to Wikidata under your account. (There is also an option to import existing matches from Wikidata, but at the moment the mix-and-match database is a bit out of synch and this is best avoided…) There’s no need to do this if you’re feeling overly cautious, though – we’ll synchronise them soon enough. The same page will also report any cases where two distinct Wikidata entries have been matched to the same identifier, which (usually) shouldn’t happen.

If you want a simple export of the matched data, you can click the [D] link for a TSV file (Q-number, identifier, identifier URL & name if relevant), and some stats on how many matches to individual wikis are available with [S].

Brute force

Finally, if you have a lot of matched data, and you are confident it’s accurate without needing human confirmation, then you can adopt the brute-force method – QuickStatements. This is the tool used for pushing data from mix-and-match to Wikidata, and can be used for any data import. Instructions are on that page – but if you’re going to use it, test it with a few individual items first to make sure it’s doing what you think, and please don’t be shy to ask for help…

So, we’ve covered a) what we’re doing; and b) how we get the information into Wikidata. Next instalment, how to actually use these identifiers for your own purposes…

by Andrew at November 27, 2014 07:39 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - #empower the #chapters

It has been #budget time for the Wikimedia chapters. As it is centrally decided what chapters "get" and as the finances of the main organisation are not considered under equal terms, they are secondary by definition.

To prove this, a few points:
  • The WMF director defined criteria for quality for the chapters
  • The chapters are barred from involvement in the annual WMF fundraising
  • The chapters rely on funding from the WMF AND the metrics of success do not exclude the cost of WMF related admin
  • The chapters can not compete for the resources the WMF assumes its own for new endeavours
  • The chapters are not represented at the office of the WMF
Many of these points have a long history and are sacred cows to some. My point is very much that there are many small things that can make the distinction less stark. It starts with an awareness that chapters support open culture and a community in a country. They would benefit from shared resources that can be made available after minor modifications of what is already there.  Our movement is not only English Wikipedia and does not only have an USA or alternatively a world view.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 27, 2014 10:53 AM

#Wikidata - #today, #tomorrow

In #Reasonator you can check out dates. The first people of today are known to have died. Who will die tomorrow is only known to God. All we have to do is wait and see.

When we are all done with Wikipedia, all the living people will have died, Hmmm, that is a long time coming. First we have to kill of the ones not known to be dead yet.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 27, 2014 09:34 AM

November 26, 2014

Andrew Gray

Wikidata identifiers and the ODNB – where next?

Wikidata, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is the backend we are developing for Wikipedia. At its simplest, it’s a spine linking together the same concept in different languages – so we can tell that a coronation in English matches Tacqoyma in Azeri or Коронація in Ukranian, or thirty-five other languages between. This all gets bundled up into a single data entry – the enigmatically named Q209715 – which then gets other properties attached. In this case, a coronation is a kind of (or subclass of, for you semanticians) “ceremony” (Q2627975), and is linked to a few external thesauruses. The system is fully multilingual, so we can express “coronation – subclass of – ceremony” in English as easily as “kroning – undergruppe af – ceremoni” in Danish.

So far, so good.

There has been a great deal of work around Wikipedia in recent years in connecting our rich-text articles to static authority control records – confirming that our George Washington is the same as the one the Library of Congress knows about. During 2012-13, these were ingested from Wikipedia into Wikidata, and as of a year ago we had identified around 420,000 Wikidata entities with authority control identifiers. Most of these were from VIAF, but around half had an identifier from the German GND database, another half from ISNI, and a little over a third LCCN identifiers. Many had all four (and more). We now support matching to a large number of library catalogue identifiers, but – speaking as a librarian – I’m aware this isn’t very exciting to anyone who doesn’t spend much of their time cataloguing…

So, the next phase was to move beyond simply “authority” identifiers and move to ones that actually provide content. The main project that I’ve been working on (along with Charles Matthews and Magnus Manske, with the help of Jo Payne at OUP) is matching Wikidata to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – Wikipedia authors tend to hold the ODNB in high regard, and many of our articles already use it as a reference work. We’re currently about three-quarters of the way through, having identified around 40,000 ODNB entries who have been clearly matched to a Wikidata entity, and the rest should be finished some time in 2015. (You can see the tool here, and how to use that will be a post for another day.) After that, I’ve been working on a project to make links between Wikidata and the History of Parliament (with the assistance of Matthew Kilburn and Paul Seaward) – looking forward to being able to announce some results from this soon.

What does this mean? Well, for a first step, it means we can start making better links to a valuable resource on a more organised basis – for example, Robin Owain and I recently deployed an experimental tool on the Welsh Wikipedia that will generate ODNB links at the end of any article on a relevant subject (see, eg, Dylan Thomas). It means we can start making the Wikisource edition of the (original) Dictionary of National Biography more visible. It means we can quickly generate worklists – you want suitable articles to work on? Well, we have all these interesting and undeniably notable biographies not yet covered in English (or Welsh, or German, or…)

For the ODNB, it opens up the potential for linking to other interesting datasets (and that without having to pass through wikidata – all this can be exported). At the moment, we can identify matches to twelve thousand ISNIs, twenty thousand VIAF identifiers, and – unexpectedly – a thousand entries in IMDb. (Ten of them are entries for “characters”, which opens up a marvellous conceptual can of worms, but let’s leave that aside…).

And for third parties? Well, this is where it gets interesting. If you have ODNB links in your dataset, we can generate Wikipedia entries (probably less valuable, but in oh so many languages). We can generate images for you – Wikidata knows about openly licensed portraits for 214,000 people. Or we can crosswalk to whatever other project we support – YourPaintings links, perhaps? We can match a thousand of those. It can go backwards – we can take your existing VIAF links and give you ODNB entries. (Cataloguers, take note.)

And, best of all, we can ingest that data – and once it’s in Wikidata, the next third party to come along can make the links directly to you, and every new dataset makes the existing ones more valuable. Right now, we have a lot of authority control data, but we’re lighter on serious content links. If you have a useful online project with permanent identifiers, and you’d like to start matching those up to Wikidata, please do get in touch – this is really exciting work and we’d love to work with anyone wanting to help take it forward.


Update: Here’s part 2: on how to use the mix-and-match tool.

by Andrew at November 26, 2014 09:59 PM

Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia UK response to Wikimedia Foundation funding allocation

This post was written by D’Arcy Myers, Wikimedia UK interim Chief Executive

As the interim CEO for Wikimedia UK I would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers and staff of the FDC for their work in assessing the annual grant applications. I understand that a huge amount of work is required, and we are most grateful for the care and detailed consideration that has gone into the FDC’s recommendations.

While we are of course disappointed that our requested grant has not been fully funded, we do not underestimate the challenges that face us in the UK as we move towards a new executive leadership, and we recognise the need for WMF funds to be seen to be used as effectively as possible. We are actively working to improve the efficiency of the programmes that we support, and fully understand that only by engaging more actively with our large potential volunteer base can we hope to realise our ambition of moving to a significantly higher level of charitable impact to the benefit of the Wikimedia movement. In addition to sharing our own experiences and helping other movement organisations where we can, we remain actively open to learning from the experiences and suggestions of others including the suggestions of the FDC. Thank you again.

by Stevie Benton at November 26, 2014 11:27 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - Hey, #College Boy II

Remember? At this time, of the sum of all the 195085 notable people with an alma mater, 158649 are men and 29059 are  women for 7377 no gender is known.

They include all the boys and girls of *your* university. Take the University of Virginia for instance. When I first looked at it, there were only 142 alumni. The category knew about at least 815 more of them. They are being added as well, software permitting.

This query has all the UoV alumni. These are all the men and these are all the women.. Maybe this is a good time to write Wikipedia articles, identify articles to Wikidata about the female UoV alumni.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 26, 2014 07:58 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Education collaborative members meet in Edinburgh

Collab members in Edinburgh, from left to right: Tighe, David, Fernando, Leigh, Filip (and Shani behind him), Vojtěch, Jami, Floor, Mariona, Reem, Samir, Toni, Kacie and Anna

“Group picture, Edinburgh” by Fedaro, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Wikipedia is built upon diversity. A high quality encyclopedia cannot be achieved unless there are opportunities for everyone in the world to contribute to it and people from different cultures, genders and ages are well-represented in the community. Diversity on Wikipedia was one of the reasons that the Wikipedia Education Program was created. The need was growing to unite the volunteer leader efforts from different countries in a space where they can share their experiences and develop their programs. This was also a reason why the Wikipedia Education Collaborative was created.

In March 2012, Frank Schulenburg, the Wikimedia Foundation’s former Senior Director of Programs, who is now the Executive Director of the Wiki Education Foundation, wanted to gather the hands of individuals who believe that “Wikipedia belongs in education” and would like to help boost the use of Wikipedia as a teaching tool in classrooms. This idea, which was then known as the Wikimedia Education Cooperative, was the seed for a newborn movement.

Prague Kickoff meeting in March 2014


“Education Coop kick-off meeting in Prague 93” by ragesoss, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Today, the Wikipedia Education Collaborative, or Collab, is a group of Wikipedia Education Program leaders from several countries around the world whose aim is to share experiences and and support other education programs to achieve their goals.

In March 2014, the Collab held a kickoff meeting in Prague, where the founding members were able to define what worked well and what needed more work in their programs and to set a list of tasks to work on together within several  focus areas. During its first six months, the Collab began its work and actions were taken to implement what was planned in Prague. Small teams worked on developing the program in different areas, such as improving the Education Newsletter by the communications group, preparing the Education Portal to share available resources by the resources group and developing ways to recognize students, volunteers and program leaders by the recognition group.

 Collab members in Edinburgh discuss their new six-month plan


“Wikipedia Educational Programa – Edimburgo 2014 – Working” by Fedaro, under CC BY-SA 4.0

On November 1st, the Collab members gathered in Edinburgh to review their previous projects and set new targets to complete within six months. The morning session was dedicated to sharing ideas and impressions about the Collab, what they think is a great success and what they learned to avoid in the future.

Collab members spent some time on brainstorming objectives they want the Collab to achieve during the next six months and then voted on the most important ones. Following a short selecting process in which members rearranged, added and deleted some ideas, the group settled on a six-month plan with fixed goals:

  1. Define the Collab’s scope, responsibilities, roles, and membership policies and determine how to implement this.
  2. Identify and develop a set of best practices and feature them on the education portal.
  3. Improve the user experience with the education program extension by better socializing it and supporting its users.
  4. Start a mentoring pilot and evaluate its effectiveness.

In the afternoon session, Collab members were divided into small groups so that every one of them could work on one of the new goals and then the whole group gathered to present what they discussed. The meeting ended with each member heading home with new ideas for their education programs and for the Collab.

Mariona Aragay from Catalonia (Spain), who is a new member of the Collab, believes that the Collab’s diversity is an advantage. “The Collaborative is giving me the chance to know people from different parts of the world, where culture and education are so different from the place I’m from,” says Mariona. “This gives me the opportunity to widen my horizons and implement ideas and resources that are working in education programs in other parts of the world.” Mariona wants to help anyone who wants to start or grow a new education program.

Vojtěch Dostál from Czech Republic is one of the founding members of the Collab. He tries to support the idea as much as he can, and he believes that it will be more productive as more people are more passionate about it. Vojtěch elaborates, “I envision the future of the Collab as an open forum for all education programs in the world, as an idea lab and a workshop for new ideas which cannot be done by a single initiative or chapter alone.”

Education program leaders from different countries devote their time and efforts to the Collab to work together to raise awareness about the value of Wikipedia in Education. Their goal is to see Wikipedia in each classroom and to see students all around the world click the [edit] button.

Samir Elsharbaty, Communications Intern, Wikipedia Education Program, Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at November 26, 2014 01:08 AM

Wiki Education Foundation

“Wikipedia and Education” webinar archived online

On Monday, we joined the Metropolitan New York Library Council’s (METRO’s) webcast on Wikipedia and Education, which focused on projects using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. The event was hosted by Dorothy Howard, Wikipedian-in-Residence and Open Data Fellow at METRO.

Our Classroom Programs Manager, Helaine Blumenthal, spoke alongside Alex Stinson of the Wikipedia Library Interns Project; Andrew Lih, associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication and designer of a recent course “Wikipedia and Public Knowledge,” and Ann Matsuuchi, an instructional technology librarian and associate professor at CUNY-LaGuardia.

Alex Stinson discussed the Wikipedia Library Interns Project and opportunities for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) to open their collections to a broader public.

Andew Lih discussed his course, and discussed how he built his course around the use of Wikipedia. Ann Matsuuchi, instructional technology librarian at CUNY-LaGuardia, also discussed lessons learned from a variety of classroom contexts through Wikipedia assignments, emphasizing the power of disseminating knowledge beyond those who have the privilege of access to it.

Helaine presented an outline of our work, and the intersection of goals between Wiki Ed and libraries.

You can watch the archived webinar below, or access it here.

<iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="382" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/bPVoAYptd04?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="625"></iframe>

If you have thoughts or questions about any of our content in the webinar, you can e-mail us at contact@wikiedu.org.


by Eryk Salvaggio at November 26, 2014 12:44 AM

November 25, 2014

Sue Gardner

How to help your event speaker give a great talk

I do a lot of talks, and I’ve worked with event organizers ranging from awesome to, uh, not so great. I’ve found that how the organizer handles me, both before and during the event, has a definite effect on my performance. And so the purpose of this post is really simple — it’s to help you, the organizer, make it possible for your speaker to do a great job at your event.

The invitation

In your invitation, say why you’re inviting the person and what you hope they’ll talk about. Tell them how they’d fit into the event — e.g., would they be keynoting, in plenary, a workshop, opening or closing. Are you flexible on the format. How long would the talk be. What’s the expected audience size. What’s the date and location. Do you pay, and if so how much. How do you handle travel.

(If you’re inviting me, you send all this to the Lavin Agency.)

The planning stage

Once your speaker’s accepted, have a call or exchange some mails. Tell your speaker how many people will be at the event and what they’re like demographically, what kind of work they do, what they know or don’t know about the speaker’s topic. Are they at the event to work/learn, or is it more of a junket or social experience. Why will they be in the room and how will they feel about it.

The most useful things organizers have ever told me: “everybody is very angry about [x recent thing], and it will be an undercurrent to all the questions”; “really this is their holiday: they will just want to enjoy themselves” and “we are very interested in this topic but we are Finnish so nobody will ask questions.” The better your speaker understands the audience, the better a job they will do.

Then, send one email with all the logistical information. It needs to include the date and time and location of the talk including the full street address; the talk duration including split between presentation and Q and A; formatting practicalities (e.g., aspect ratio, acceptable formats), and contact information including cell numbers for anyone the speaker might need to reach during the event. Ideally it’ll also describe the room and AV setup (e.g., what kind of microphone, will there be a confidence monitor, size of screen, how the seating will be configured). It’s awesome if you can attach a photo of the room. Personally I’m always really interested in screen size and room brightness, because a big screen in a dark room lets me emphasize visuals, but the opposite does not.

The mail should tell your speaker what time to arrive, where to go and who to ask for. If you’re arranging travel, it should include those details too, even if the speaker already has them.

Essentially, you want this mail to contain all the practical information that the speaker might need, then or later. The more structured the better, so it can be parsed by applications like TripIt and Google Now.

Then, in the weeks leading up to the talk, send your speaker a couple of reminder mails. It’s easy for talks to slide off people’s radar, and more than once I’ve appreciated prompts that the day is getting closer :/

Day of the talk 

Empathize with your speaker! He or she has spent dozens or maybe hundreds of hours getting ready for your event. They may have travelled a long distance. They may be jet-lagged or not-yet-caffeinated or distracted by something happening at home. They may be nervous. Your job on the day of the event is to help them get into the right performative headspace.

To that end, make sure there’s somebody assigned to greet your speaker and get them settled. That person should be present, knowledgeable and friendly. If they don’t know the speaker’s work, it’s polite to vaguely pretend otherwise. I once watched a speaker’s confidence visibly degrade when a stressed-out stage manager asked him, for the fifth time in five minutes, how to spell his name.

Ideally you want to let the speaker do a quick rehearsal onstage, at least an hour beforehand. This is the opportunity to sort out any glitches such as missing adaptors, dead batteries or broken deck formatting. It also gives your speaker a chance to get used to the stage, which can be helpful because stages are often squeaky or creaky or bouncy or otherwise weird. Once I spoke from one where the audience and I were separated by 27 feet of yawning open orchestra pit, and I spent the entire talk reminding myself not to fall in. Better to discover and adapt to that stuff beforehand.

This is also a point at which your speaker might ask for some adjustments. I do this a lot. I’ll ask for chairs to be moved around, tables to be switched from classroom to tiered style, or changes to the lighting. If you can adapt to the speaker’s preferences, try to — they’re not trying to hassle you, they’re trying to make the audience experience as good as possible.

Give the speaker a green room or other quiet place for at least an hour before the talk. Make sure they have water and have eaten. A live feed of the event is great.

Some organizers seem to feel like it’s part of their job to entertain the speaker, but it really isn’t. Most speakers I know don’t want to chitchat: they want to rehearse mentally, or warm up, or just work quietly. It’s totally fine to use this time to run the introduction past them if you haven’t already, and to tell them if anything important has changed about the set-up or timing. Otherwise, try to ensure they’re left alone.

Make sure there’s water onstage. A glass or open bottle is good; hard-to-open bottles are bad, and the worst are those super-flimsy ones that crackle when you touch them and then spill all over the place :/ If there’s no lectern it’s a good practice to have a small table at the side of the stage for water and miscellanea like the speaker’s phone or notes.


It’s nice to send a quick mail thanking your speaker and telling them about how the talk was received — basically, whatever you heard in the halls afterwards. Most organizers do a good job with this.

And finally

None of this is intended to increase organizer stress! Most speakers are super-flexible, and will be fine in imperfect conditions. I did not fall into the orchestra pit! Everything will be okay :)

Filed under: Patterns, Talks

by Sue Gardner at November 25, 2014 12:35 AM

November 24, 2014

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Welcome to Phabricator, Wikimedia’s new collaboration platform

Bugs, tasks, boards, and cards for the masses! The Wikimedia Phabricator project workboard, captured right after the Bugzilla migration.

Wikimedia launches a space for collaboration open to all contributors: phabricator.wikimedia.org. Primarily devoted to software development, this platform also welcomes non-technical projects. Wikimedia Phabricator has been available since September for early adopters. Its prime time starts this week, after having incorporated 73,681 reports migrated from Bugzilla, the bug management tool that has served our projects during a decade. Farewell Bugzilla, welcome Phabricator!

As far as we know, we are maintaining the biggest public Phabricator instance in terms of number of tasks filed. Phabricator is a third-party open-source software development platform that we decided to use for project management, bug reporting, design of new features, and (one day not too far away) code review, all in an integrated fashion. Wikimedia Phabricator has already more than 800 users, who are getting their Bugzilla activity automatically assigned. New users can join and claim their Bugzilla history as well.

Main features

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="169" src="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Very_Basics_of_Phabricator.ogg?embedplayer=yes" width="300"></iframe>The Very Basics of Phabricator, a Wikimedia Tech Talk on video.

Phabricator comes with many improvements over Bugzilla:

  • The desktop UI looks contemporary. Most features are mobile-friendly as well. Interacting via email is possible.
  • Users can log in with their Wikimedia (SUL) credentials, and the LDAP access used for Labs and Gerrit is available as well. Email addresses are finally private.
  • Bug reporters, developers, designers, product managers, and other contributors use the same tool to discuss issues, features, and other tasks.
  • Tasks are editable, and can be assigned to multiple projects. In fact, projects are like tags in a flat structure.
  • There are workboards for project planning, and possibility to upload mockups and add notes.
  • Users enjoy auto-saved comments while typing.
  • Users can edit their own comments (with history).
  • There is no mid-air collision when someone adds a comment while you are writing yours.

Known issues

In general, fluent Bugzilla users who are new to Phabricator will need a few days to get used to the different paradigms this tool proposes.

There are some areas that require improvement:

  • Suggestions for duplicates when creating a new task.
  • Even if Phabricator’s search is powered by Elasticsearch, it needs some fine-tuning to get to Bugzilla’s efficiency.
  • Advanced Bugzilla users will also find that some actions take more clicks (assigning blocker/blocking tasks, for instance).

There is a complete list of known issues and we will keep working on them after the launch.

Key features implemented

Wikimedia Phabricator’s homepage, after the Bugzilla migration and reopening.

Phabricator is free software available for anybody. The Wikimedia Phabricator team has worked on key features to adapt it to our projects:

  • Migration script keeping relevant data and metadata, allowing users to claim their activity from different services and unify it in Phabricator.
  • Wikimedia Single User Login.
  • Private tasks accessible to a user group and reporters.
  • Separate file hosting domain.
  • Automatic redirects from old Bugzilla reports to Phabricator tasks.
  • Wikimedia username visible in Phabricator user profile.
  • Custom IRC bot to report activity.
  • Updated interwiki links and wiki templates (e.g. phab:T2001)

Also, we have updated a lot of on-wiki documentation that was related to Bugzilla. Those pages now refer and point to Phabricator.

The Phabricator upstream developers have also implemented many features and bugfixes based on our feedback, and we really appreciate their support with this undertaking.

Bugzilla archived

Existing links to Bugzilla reports are automatically redirected to their equivalent Phabricator tasks. Wikimedia Phabricator already had 1,391 tasks before the migration, and we could not assign to Phabricator tasks the same number as their Bugzilla counterparts. Instead, we are providing a memorable solution: just add 2,000 to a Bugzilla number, and you will get its Phabricator task number, i.e. Bug 123 is T2123.

Users can still check the old Bugzilla instance, now retired in read-only mode. They can log in to check their votes and their saved searches, which we could not migrate.

What comes next

Evan Priestley, Phabricator’s main developer (with black shirt) visiting the Wikimedia Foundation offices in San Francisco. (“Wikimedia Phabricator Meeting – June 2014 – Photo 2″ by Fabrice Florin (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The migration from Bugzilla marks the first step of the migration of the Wikimedia Foundation software development teams (who also need to migrate from Trello and Mingle), and of the Wikidata team at Wikimedia Germany (from Scrumbugz).

The RT migration is underway, coming in a couple weeks. RT is the tool used by the WMF Operations team to handle requests. Expect some thousands of additional tasks coming to Phabricator through this migration.

Code review is the next frontier. The Gerrit Migration Bot has been updated. Diffusion, Phabricator’s code repository browser, is available already now. With Diffusion, developers can import existing repositories, beginning the deprecation of another tool, GitBlit. The migration of the Gerrit code review tool will take more effort and a few months. The actual bottleneck is MediaWiki’s continuous integration system, a tough nut to crack.

Get involved

This is a very exciting project! We welcome your help.

PHP developers are welcome to contribute enhancements and new features upstream. Learn more at Phabricator/Code.

And for Phabricator support and camaraderie, join #wikimedia-devtoolsconnect. See you there!

Quim Gil, Wikimedia Foundation

by Guillaume Paumier at November 24, 2014 07:11 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #48, 2014 (November 24, 2014)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2014, week 48 (Monday 24 November 2014) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎日本語 • ‎português • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎中文

November 24, 2014 12:00 AM

November 23, 2014

Magnus Manske

Picture this!

Recently, someone told me that “there are no images on Wikidata”. I found that rather hard to believe, as I had added quite a few using my own tools. So I had a quick look at the numbers.

For Wikidata, counting the number of items with images is straightforward. For Wikipedia, not so much; by default, navigation bar logos and various icons are counted just as actual photographs of the article topic. So, I devised a crude filter, counting only articles with images (one would do) that were not used in three or more articles in total.

I ran this query on some of the larger Wikipedias. While most of them ran fine, English Wikipedia failed to return a timely result; and since its generous sprinkling with “fair use” local images would inflate the number anyway, I am omitting this result here. Otherwise:

Site Articles/Items with images
dewiki 709,736
wikidata 604,925
frwiki 602,664
ruwiki 491,916
itwiki 451,499
eswiki 414,308
jawiki 278,359

As you can see, Wikidata already outperforms all but one (with en.wp: two) Wikipedias. Since image addition to Wikidata is easy through tools (and games), and there are many “pre-filtered” candidates from Wikipedias to use, I expect Wikidata to surpass German Wikipedia soon (assuming linear increase, in less than four months), and eventually English Wikipedia as well, at least for images from Commons (not under “fair use”).

But even at this moment, I am certain there are thousands of Wikidata items with an image, while the corresponding article on German (or Spanish or Russian) Wikipedia remains a test desert. Hesitation of the Wikipedia communities to use these readily available images deprive their respective readers of something that helps to make article come alive, and all the empty talk of “quality” and “independence” does not serve as compensation.

Also, the above numbers count all types of files on Wikipedia, whereas they count only images of the item subject on Wikidata. Not only does that bias the numbers in favour of Wikipedia, it also hides the various “special” file types that Wikidata offers: videos, audio recordings, pronunciations, maps, logos, coat of arms, to name just a few. It is likely that their use on Wikipedia is even more scattered than that of subject images. Great opportunities to improve Wikipedias of all languages, for those bold enough to nudge the system.

by Magnus at November 23, 2014 11:36 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Commons - the Como Cathedral

The Como Cathedral is a cathedral in Como, Italy. In it you will find works of art that are represented in Commons. This link to the works of art is established through an "institution template". It was easy to link the Como Cathedral by adding this: "| wikidata    = Q1101730" in the template.

At the moment there are 1149 templates waiting to be linked to Wikidata. With this link established, it is possible to either populate these templates with information from Wikidata or populate the templates with information from Wikidata.

It is a precursor for easily finding files in Commons that are linked to institutions. Many of them are GLAM partners of us and it is yet another way of establishing how important they are to us.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 23, 2014 08:02 AM

#Wikimedia #chapters, the data

Guess what, Wikimedia chapters are linked to many other organisations. These organisations are known in Wikidata and now the chapters are known as well.

For many GLAM partners we have all kinds of statistics. We could link the partners to the chapters that they are connected to.. It is the basis for information on the usefulness of the chapters.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 23, 2014 07:37 AM

#Wikimedia - the point of #collecting #data?

If #Wikidata is one thing, it is useful. It was useful from the start by including all the Wikipedia articles who are linked to articles in other languages. In the next phase statements were added and more and more articles were added that did not link to other articles. They were needed because they were a part in the expression of a statement. Then for all articles Wikidata items were created and still more items were created because they were needed in the statement of expressions.

There is a point to linking the articles. It enables people to read about the same subject in other languages. There is a point to adding statements to items; it enables articles to be linked to whatever. This combination enables us to report on Wikipedia in ways not yet done.

If you want to know about the gender division; currently these are the men, the women in all our projects. Since June 2014 90,850 more items became known to be women and 445,240 as men. Interesting but this information is not in a format that is "academic" or useful.  Having this information in a bar chart with regular intervals gives more insight in what we have. Using old dumps for this is one solution. Breaking the information up per Wikipedia provides even more granular information.

Providing statistics in this way is good for several reasons:
  • it is public and verifiable information
  • it stimulates people to add statements about gender
  • it stimulates people to write about men and women
  • it makes it obvious that it is Wikidata where we know these things

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 23, 2014 06:45 AM

Wiki Education Foundation

Don’t cite Wikipedia. Write Wikipedia!

Fan signs are an honored tradition in the weekly College GameDay football pre-game show on ESPN. Today’s Yale vs. Harvard matchup featured a sign that got a lot of traction on social media and the college football blogosphere: “Yale Cites Wikipedia“.

As the organization that bridges Wikipedia and academia, we agree with the sentiment of the sign: By the time you reach the university level — whether you’re at an Ivy League school or a community college — you shouldn’t be citing any tertiary sources in your research papers. Instead, you should be citing secondary and primary sources in your paper. Wikipedia is a great starting point for that paper, however: If the article covering your topic is good, you’ll be able to get a general overview on the topic by reading the Wikipedia article, and then look at the long list of references at the bottom of the article that contains links to those reliable sources you should be citing.

Evaluating_Wikipedia_brochure.pdfHow do you know if a Wikipedia article is good? Consult our brochure Evaluating Wikipedia, which provides tips and tricks to identify high-quality work and articles that need some additional development. But what if that Wikipedia article you’re reading fits the definition of poor quality? Here’s where university students can really make a difference: Improve the Wikipedia article!

Editing_Wikipedia_brochure_EN.pdfOnce you’ve written that research paper on the topic, go back and add the information you found, cited to those reliable sources, to Wikipedia. The Wiki Education Foundation has developed an online training specifically for university students to help you learn how to edit, or you can consult our brochure Editing Wikipedia, which walks you through what you need to know.

Even better, convince your instructor to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool in his or her classroom. More than 500 classes at 200 universities have already participated in Wiki Ed’s program, where we provide support for instructors interested in using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in their classes. Instructors have found the learning objectives for a Wikipedia assignment make it a valuable pedagogical tool in a 21st century university classroom.

In other words, university students: Don’t cite Wikipedia. Write Wikipedia!

LiAnna Davis
Director of Programs

by LiAnna Davis at November 23, 2014 12:13 AM

November 22, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Winners of the photo contest Wikiviajes por Venezuela 2014


Wikimedia Venezuela organized the photo contest WikiViajes por Venezuela 2014, which ran between April 15 and May 31 with a theme centered on Venezuela’s heritage and identity. The competition focused on photographs of nature, urban landscapes, holiday destinations, typical locations, economic activities, crafts, customs and cuisine that showed the cultural particularities of Venezuela.

More than 14,000 photographs were submitted, which will better illustrate articles on Wikipedia, and especially Wikivoyage the free travel guide that anyone can edit, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation that was launched in early 2013.

Two winners were determined by popular vote, counting the number of “Likes” received on Facebook. The voting took place between October 15 and October 30 via the Facebook photo albums made available to the public. You can find the winners below.

  • 1. First Place
  • 2. Second Place
 El_roedor_mas_grandeChigüire, the biggest rodent.

“El roedor mas grande” by Daniel10ortegaven, under CC BY-SA 3.0

  • 3. Third Place

MEDANOS_DE_CORO_-FALCON_01Médanos de Coro National Park.
“MEDANOS DE CORO -FALCON 01” by Julioreylagarto, under CC BY-SA 3.0

  • 4. Special Award

01_-_Playa_Edo._VargasBeach of Vargas state.
“Playa Edo. Vargas” by Luis Jaimes, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Oscar Costero, Wikimedia Venezuela

by wikimediablog at November 22, 2014 12:29 AM

November 21, 2014

Wikimedia UK

The winners of Wiki Loves Monuments 2014 in the UK

Have you seen the UK winners of the 2014 Wiki Loves Monuments competition?

Wiki Loves Monuments is the global photography contest and the objective is to collect high quality photographs of some of the world’s most important historic sites. In the UK, this means listed buildings and scheduled monuments so there are possible subjects all over the country.

More than 500 people took part in the UK competition, contributing over 7,000 photos to Wikimedia Commons, one of the world’s largest repositories of freely licensed media files. From there the images can be used across various Wikimedia sites, and volunteers have started the process of using these images to illustrate and improve Wikipedia.

Organised by Wikimedia UK volunteers and supported by English Heritage and the Royal Photographic Society who were represented on the judging panel, this year marked the second time the UK took part in the competition.

As well as the top ten we have two special prizes for the best images of a building on an ‘At Risk’ register. These are structures considered in need of repair and maintenance, and the photographs are one step in preserving these structures for future generations. The two special awards are UK-specific, and the top ten go forward to the international judges.

Thumbnails of the winning entries are below but you can see them in all of their glory here on Wikimedia Commons.

First prize: St Michaels Mount, Marazion, Cornwall by Fuzzypiggy Second prize: Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, London by Fuzzypiggy Third prize: Tower Bridge at Dawn by Fuzzypiggy Highly commended: The Fyrish Monument in December by Reg Tait Highly commended: Roof of Bell Harry Tower, Canterbury Cathedral by Tobiasvonderhaar Highly commended: Dolwilym Burial Chamber (known as Arthur’s Table or Gwal y Filiast) by Karen Sawyer Highly commended: Neist Point Lighthouse by Lionel Ulmer Highly commended: Victorian valves at Victoria Baths, Manchester by RevDave Highly commended: The Cloisters below Bute Hall, Glasgow University by Michael Harris Highly commended: The National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland by Photofinger Special award: Govanhill Baths, Glasgow by Edwardx Special award: Victoria Baths, Manchester by RevDave

If you have photographs taken by yourself of historic sites in the United Kingdom, please consider uploading them to Wikimedia Commons. The competition is closed, but your efforts can help improve a value resource filled with images which can be freely reused.

by Richard Nevell at November 21, 2014 01:58 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - first #standardisation, then #specialisation

The hardware and software used by the Wikimedia Foundation is increasingly standardised. It uses the same software and the configuration is centrally maintained. Good news; it makes for a stable platform. A stable platform allows us to share in "the sum of all available knowledge".

With this process well under way, special attention can be given to special projects. It has probably escaped your attention that the WMF now has a "Services group". They are the engineers that support the standalone software components that often run on their own machines and have very specific jobs, such as "generate a PDF from this article".

Wonderful news. When it did not escape your attention, did you notice that Stas Malyshev is getting up to speed on the Wikidata Query Service[1], figuring out what we need to do to make it suitable for widespread deployment of WikiGrok[2])?

Effectively it means that Magnus's query tool will be used by an updated version of the Games [3]. Now is that not sweet; Wikidata data being USED to leverage our community to improve Wikidata even more.
  1. https://wdq.wmflabs.org/
  2. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/<wbr></wbr>Extension:MobileFrontend/<wbr></wbr>WikiGrokhttps://wdq.wmflabs.org/
  3. https://tools.wmflabs.org/wikidata-game/

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 21, 2014 07:28 AM

November 20, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia & Project #Gutenberg - the sum of all knowledge

"To share in the sum of all knowledge" is the vision of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Swiss chapter does understand this really well. It has adopted Kiwix, an off line reader for content that is published in the ZIM format.

Project Gutenberg is a well established organisation dedicated to the digitisation of books. Its catalogue of 50.000 public domain books is now available to everybody, everywhere and offline as well.

Thanks to a hackathon, all books are now available in the ZIM format, you can search in all the books at the same time. The best news is that not only has this work been done for a first time, it is build in such a way that it can be easily repeated.

Future deployments may include all the books of Wikisource, books from other sources and even copyrighted works as well. The point of Kiwix is that it is an enabler, it allows for the dissemination of knowledge and to achieve THAT is what our aim is.

Congratulations to the Swiss Wikimedia chapter for providing the sustained support of this valuable project.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 20, 2014 10:01 AM

#Wikidata - C. Rudhraiya; #filmdirector from #India

Mr Rudhraiya studied at the Adyar Film Institute and, he recently passed away. According to some, he brought fame to his alma mater. Mr Rudhraiya also studied at the St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli.

The point is not so much that Mr Rudhraiya was a studied man, it is more that we know this about him. As more information like this is known about "living persons", they get a better representation in Wikidata.

At this time only two movies of Mr Rudghraiya are known to be directed by him. There must be many more. It is possible to know all the people he worked with by connecting him through his movies, With more data this information becomes more complete.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 20, 2014 07:26 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

UN, Wikimedia New York deliver open, free world maps on GIS Day

For thousands of years, humans have used maps to define, understand and navigate the world in which we live. From cave drawings to star maps to geospatial navigation, maps have been an ever-improving tool for people everywhere. In today’s increasingly connected world, maps play a critical role in areas like humanitarian response to disasters, understanding the spread of disease, and much more. Like any information resource, however, maps vary in terms of accuracy and accessibility.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) believes that accurate, reliable, and easy-to-understand maps should be available to everyone. That is why they’ve partnered with Wikimedia New York City and ReliefWeb to release a collection of more than 200 freely licensed “country-location” maps that are available on Wikimedia Commons and on the ReliefWeb site. In addition, many maps are also featured on Wikipedia country pages.

We are excited to announce this collaboration on GIS Day, which provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. The project is intended to give the humanitarian community and the public access to free, accurate, and attractive maps, wherever they may be.

These maps were originally created as part of OCHA’s focus on information management and geographical visualization, in order to support the coordination of humanitarian partners during the response to an emergency or natural disaster anywhere in the world. OCHA location maps were designed to be embedded into a report or a website, offering essential information, such as main cities and neighbouring countries, while using a sleek and effective design.

Gwi-Yeop Son, Director of OCHA’s Corporate Programmes Division, said that OCHA is pleased to share the maps openly and publicly. “OCHA can now offer Wikipedia’s nearly half a billion readers the ability to study and reuse those maps as they see fit,” she said. This is thanks to the community of volunteers who dedicate time and energy to write, edit, and check entries to ensure information is current and relevant.

Access to accurate, free and reliable maps has implications for a variety of efforts, including combating climate change. The Green Growth Knowledge Platform, a partnership of more than 30 leading organizations that generate, manage and share green-growth knowledge, uses OCHA’s maps to gain geographical context important to understanding a country’s efforts to transition to a green economy. According to Amanda McKee, the Communications and Outreach Officer for the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, “the accurate and up-to-date location maps from OCHA enable us to provide this context on the 193 country dashboards offered on the Green Growth Knowledge Platform.”

Since OCHA first created the location maps, it has made a series of improvements including design updates and new territories. The accessibility of these maps allows any user to publish location maps as is, or edit each element of the content. All the maps are freely licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported licence.

Richard Knipel
President, Wikimedia New York City

by himam2014 at November 20, 2014 01:48 AM

Three Questions and Three Answers as Food for Thought About the Future of Wikipedia

This is an opinion piece by Amos Meron of Wikimedia Israel. All views are the author’s own; discussion is welcome in the comment section of this blog post.

What should Wikipedia (also) be?

Wikipedia prides itself of being the encyclopedia of the 21st century. Except that in the 21st century there are no encyclopedias. Wikipedia has amazingly removed this category from the face of the earth. Since we already are the biggest, most updated, shared and common encyclopedia in the world – and mostly since we are virtually the only one left – this is the time to understand what our future holds. If we settle for the status quo and only try to preserve what we have, we will soon be left behind. If we really want to fulfill our vision and provide every single human being free access to the sum of all knowledge, we should ask ourselves – where is this knowledge?

The knowledge is in books. We should move towards a future where as many of the world’s books as possible are freely licensed and are accessible in a way that allows easy reading, sharing and referencing. We could build a library of an infinite number of shelves with a community to maintain it and even provide reference desk services to the public.

The knowledge is in museums. Today’s museums contain most of the items of humanity and natural history. However, only a fraction of those items are displayed at any given time, the remainder of them stored behind closed doors for a majority of the time. We could create virtual museums with an infinite number of exhibition halls and provide access to every collection in its entirety in new and varied forms. The search capabilities, indexing and interface of the Wikimedia projects must be improved to allow this.

The knowledge is in the academy. The Open Access movement brought a significant change in the amount of academic materials that are freely accessible online. We should take the idea of free academy a few steps further and create an infrastructure not only for free publishing of papers, but also for sharing and crowdsourcing the process of research and peer review. Researchers could publish their results at various stages and receive real-time feedback from others, the entire process being open and accessible to everyone. The platform would support collaborative research where each contribution is documented and appreciated, just like in Wikipedia.

How to get new editors?

It seems that Wikipedia’s major problem in recent years is the decline in the number of new editors. So far, the discussion is focused on removing barriers and obstacles that may stand in the way of someone trying to edit: socially (closed and inflexible community) and technically (visual editor). I completely agree with this discussion and with most of the proposed and implemented solutions. However, I would like to argue something different: our main problem is not with those who tried to edit and were somehow deterred, but with those who have the potential to be great editors but never chose to try. We put our trust to provide “the sum of all knowledge” solely in the hands of the ones who are content with their satisfaction of writing and contributing, and by doing so we neglect many others. I am not suggesting, of course, to pay for editing – this would ruin the voluntary model of the community and may bring content of varied quality. But I do suggest we rethink the incentives of editing Wikipedia.

I would like to focus on the main incentive which I believe is not given adequate attention. I also believe it is the key to a real solution to the editor decline problem. This incentive is the most classic incentive of any creative – credit. Technically, it can be argued that each editor gets full credit for each and every contribution in a completely transparent way. In practice, however, the credit is “behind the scenes” since most readers are not exposed to it or even aware of its existence completely. For media files it is practical to properly present credit and the Foundation’s development teams are implementing measures which help to increase the visibility of this credit – starting with the new media viewer and later further directions for measuring the use of media files, new possibilities to express appreciation and improved views of the credit. For text, however, there is a practical problem in adequate presentation of credit in a way that does not interfere with the continuous reading of the text. Even with the most sophisticated tools (Google Docs, for example) it is impossible to give clear credit for a variety of corrections and small edits.

A possible solution to the credit problem is shifting the emphasis from recognition of individual edits to recognition of the editing activity in general. As Wikipedia grows and its quality improves, the expertise required from an active editor is expanding. Even today, veteran editors who have proven their proficiency in certain subjects are appreciated by other editors and their opinions on these issues weigh more than others’. What I suggest is to formalize this recognition in a way that would transcend the internal community of Wikipedia and would be used to glorify the resumes of its members. Just as academics define titles and grant them to each other based on academic activity, so can Wikipedians define their own hierarchy of knowledge which will be based entirely on editing activity in the Wikimedia projects. As the credibility of Wikipedia grows, so will the public’s esteem to the Wikipedian titles, and vice versa – people will understand that Wikipedia is written (also) by experts.

What are the roles of the movement entities (the Foundation and the chapters)?

Wikipedia is not only a phenomenal knowledge project, it is also a very successful social experiment that implements so many principles – sharing of knowledge, free content, volunteering, crowdsourcing, democracy, long tail and more. Above all, it is something that works in practice despite our instincts telling us it would probably fail. This is the beating heart of the project, or in one word – community. Despite the community’s obstinacy and exclusivity, we cannot and do not want to see a Wikipedia where the community is not its central and dominant ingredient. Therefore, the Foundation is correct to focus on being, first of all, a technical and legal back for the project’s activity and second, the source of improvements and innovation in software and design. This is the professional added value of the Foundation that a volunteer community often cannot provide.

But the Foundation should not stop there. Just as it is leading Wikipedia’s vital design renovation and the initiatives for more advanced software, so too should it be building strategic foundations that go beyond its comfort zone and challenge the entire movement. Thus, it should be implementing ideas like the ones mentioned above – infrastructure for Wikipedia museums or a program for community hierarchy of knowledge. There is no need for a top-down implementations. It is sufficient for the Foundation to introduce the possibilities, and the tools to implement them to the community – and the necessary changes, in the end, will happen by themselves. When the community is growing more closed and stagnant, it is in the hands of the Foundation to challenge the status quo, or the entire project will be left behind.

While the Foundation operates to fulfill the community’s professional needs, the chapters are the earthly representatives of the movement around the world. When strictly online communication is not enough, a chapter’s role is to provide the bridge. In practice, besides arranging community meetings, advocating for changes in legislation, raise awareness for free content and other necessary activities, the chapters should focus on three types of content projects that aim to expand the scope of knowledge in Wikipedia and/or bring new editors:

First, projects with organizations that own the information or collection – these are, among others, galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM). In recent years there has been major progress in promoting collaborations and projects with these institutions, but sometimes through the flux of activity the long-term goal might be forgotten: to bring all the information or collection to Wikipedia (or: “give us everything you have”) and by doing so, focus in our most important added value – providing access to all of it, freely, to the whole world, in every language and at any time. The means to achieve this vision is a technological solution in the form of the above mentioned virtual museums with the chapters’ role being to direct collaborations with the institutions. Possible tools to gain cooperation with the institutions are: providing them with services or solutions for digitization of their content, acting to release it under free license by giving counsel and guidance on these issues, creating tools for measurement and statistics and teaching their staff how to share their content themselves on Wikimedia projects. All of these should be done on a large scale using apt volunteers recruited not necessarily from the Wikipedians. The fulfillment of this goal would obviously benefit the institutions, increasing their importance in the eyes of the public. Our activities in these projects are in the right direction, but we need to start thinking bigger to achieve real impact.

Second, projects with organizations whose members include experts in their field – Many organizations – such as a football club, the Ministry of Agriculture, or the ornithology department of a university – unite people around a certain field of knowledge, whether formally or recreationally. The chapters should identify these organizations and encourage their members to contribute to Wikipedia, whether by editing directly or in other ways (such as joint content ventures). People engaging in a certain field are usually interested in promoting public knowledge of their field, which is another unique incentive for writing. Therefore, the main effort here (except practical guidance) is advocacy about the importance of free knowledge and Wikipedia’s role in providing access to knowledge (or: “Wikipedia is where the people are”). These projects present a tremendous growth opportunity for the chapters.

And finally, projects that are based on people and communities – The chapters should be creative and innovative in different ways to create communities and activities around free knowledge and contribution to Wikimedia projects. Located at the heart of the people in the various countries, the chapters can appeal to new audiences and communities with common denominators, such as a community of common origin, interest, workplace and so on. Such projects hold the greatest potential for the chapters because the social gathering will form around Wikimedia projects and because with these projects the general population may be approached. Many examples of such projects can be found today in various chapters: from content creation competitions such as editing contest or “Wiki Loves Monuments”, to editathons on different topics, all the way to innovative projects for creation and accessibility of content such as WikiAir or MPs voice recording. These types of projects make the most exciting and discussed initiatives in the movement and in order to engage more people we need more innovation!

Amos Meron

Wikimedia Israel

by wikimediablog at November 20, 2014 12:05 AM

November 19, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - Nel Garritsen, a Dutch swimmer

Mrs Garritsen is one of only a few people who are known to have died and has an article in the Dutch Wikipedia. In that article it is currently not known that she died. We know it in Wikidata courtesy of the article in the English Wikipedia.

Every Wikipedia do things their own way. By not having categories for people who died in a given year, there is no way to know about the recent deaths known in the Dutch Wikipedia. It is also not possible to indicate to the Dutch Wikipedians what people are known to be dead in other sources.

Mechanisms like this help to ensure that proper information is available for "living people". Arguably, maintaining categories with the people who died in a given year are a valuable instrument in an implementation of "BLP".

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 19, 2014 07:15 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

10th anniversary of Wikipedia in Asturian

"Logotipu 10 años(svg)" by Denis Soria under CC BY SA-3.0

Logo for the event

“Logotipu 10 años(svg)” by Denis Soria under CC BY-SA 3.0

On September 12th and 13th, the tenth anniversary of Uiquipedia, the Asturian language Wikipedia, was celebrated in the Prince Felipe Auditorium Oviedo in Oviedo, Spain. It was a special event because after ten years, this community is in a process of improvement and setting goals to give the final push to the project.

The event began on Friday the 12th with a welcome by Xuacu Saturio, administrator and technical ambassador of Asturian Wikipedia, who provided a brief review of the past decade. It was followed by a talk titled “Wikipedia: what, who, how,” an approach to how the project is run. This was useful to those present in the studio editing during the rest of the afternoon.

The following day, Saturday, had two premises. First, Asturian Wikipedians were convinced that literature in this language, along with its writers, are pieces of heritage to document in this encyclopedia and to disseminate for public consumption. On the other hand, they wanted to provide a broader perspective of the language, attending more to the linguistic domain. In fact, there was a tribute given to Leonese writer Caitano Bardón (Carrizo, 1881-1924), the author of “Stories in Leonese dialect” who pioneered Asturian-Lionese literature in León.

The act began with the music of Fran Allegre, who continued playing with different traditional instruments from León. Alberto Flecha, expert on Caitano and a fellow native of Carrizo, talked about the writer and gave ​​a short summary of the meaning of his work. Then, in collaboration with the Faceira Association and the literary collective Fame Poetika, several poems from Caitano and other authors were read in Asturian.

The second act of the event consisted of a simple presentation on the WikiProject “Sport in Asturias”, by Denis Soria. He emphasized the need to standardize the linguistic register of Wikipedia itself, as well as the importance of WikiProjects organizing the editing of articles. He went on to summarize the challenges and logical errors in the early years. Soria also discussed the need to address common objectives for the community with the intention of standardizing the image of the encyclopedia, arrange interaction strategies with society, and make it grow in the near future.

Much of the roundtable focused on the role that the media – especially on the Internet – and the work of Wikipedia play in energizing and reinforcing the attitudes of speakers from each territory of the linguistic domain.

There were some very special guests, including David Melendi (Professor of Telematics Engineering Area, University of Oviedo), José Ignacio Suarez (Professor of Musicology at the University of Oviedo and member of Faceira), Nicanor Garcia (computerization of Musel Port Authority, also a member of Faceira), Pablo Rodriguez Guardado (Asturies.com editor), Pelayu Valduvieco (student of Romance Philology at the University of Oviedo and developer of various translation projects), Xuacu Saturio (administrator and technician ambassador in Asturian Wikipedia) and Denis Soria (administrator on Wikipedia). Topics that were addressed included the challenges in encoding and linguistic standardization in the media, and recovery policy pertaining to different territories with presence of native speakers. It was a very fruitful discussion, and arguably the participants left a very high standard, holding the attention of the audience throughout the discussion. After the gathering ended, a series of books were distributed among the attendees, donated by the publishers Asturtoons, Ediciones Trabe, Hércules Ediciones, Librería Cervantes and Ediciones Nobel.

We finished the event with a meet-and-greet meal among all participants, courtesy of the city council, who also gave the auditorium space. The Asturian Wikipedia community expressed thanks for the work and organization by members of Wikimedia Spain, from whom the initiative was conceived and made the anniversary celebration possible. Similarly, they moved the commitment to schedule future activities inside and outside of the tenth anniversary.

Rubén Ojeda,miembro de Wikimedia España

Group photo from the tenth anniversary celebration in Oviedo

“Asistentes aniversario Wikipedia en asturiano” by Montgomery, under CC BY-SA 4.0

by wikimediablog at November 19, 2014 01:24 AM

November 18, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly report for October 2014

1. Highlights

  • The Assignment Design Wizard, our tool for streamlining and automating curriculum design for instructors, has been deployed for testing and feedback. This tool simplifies the support required for setting up new instructors or courses per term, furthering our goal of bringing more student editors into the program.
  • The fall term is well underway with 95 supported courses, the highest number of participants yet.
  • The Programs team has expanded once more, with the addition of two part-time Wikipedia Content Experts, Ian Ramjohn and Adam Hyland. Their role is to connect directly with students and instructors on Wikipedia, guiding them to best practices, providing direct support, and recognizing excellent work.

2. Programs

The Programs team started the month with a two-day strategy workshop for how to accomplish our goals for 2014–15. Sage Ross (who normally works remotely from Seattle) joined us in-person, and it also served as an additional orientation for Eryk Salvaggio and Helaine Blumenthal. All team members now have a good understanding of the goals for which they are accountable for, and how they will work with each other to achieve our goals.

The Programs team added two new half-time staff, Ian Ramjohn and Adam Hyland, who serve as Wikipedia Content Experts. Adam and Ian have already started reaching out to student editors to provide feedback on their work and providing Wikipedia expertise to instructors participating in the Classroom Program who ask for help.

2.1. Educational Partnerships

Jami Mathewson, our educational partnerships manager, spent the month designing a template for educational partnerships with academic organizations and university teaching and learning centers. Jami also prepared for an early November visit to Louisiana State University, in which she will present at two days of workshops on teaching with Wikipedia. She will facilitate the workshops with LSU’s Communication Across the Curriculum staff, and will determine next steps in our partnership with Louisiana State University.

2.2. Classroom Program

The fall 2014 term is well underway. Our students are hard at work posting to their sandboxes, interacting with the Wikipedia editing community on their talk pages, and moving their contributions into the article namespace. We are supporting 95 courses, exceeding our goal of 85 for the term, and the largest Wiki Ed has supported to date.

Ian Ramjohn and Adam Hyland, our newly hired Wikipedia Content Experts, are providing student editors with valuable feedback on their work and helping them to navigate the Wikipedia editing community. Ian and Adam are also helping us identify exceptional work, encouraging students to nominate their entries for Did You Know and Good Article when appropriate.

Current status of the Classroom Program (fall term 2014) in numbers, as of October 31:

  • 95 Wiki Ed-supported courses have Course Pages (41 or 43% are led by returning instructors)
  • 2,416 student editors are enrolled
  • 679 students have successfully completed the online training.

Student work highlights:

2.3. Communications

This month has been heavy on revising and improving our resources. We’ve made some changes to our classroom materials, updating and streamlining past brochures to make them more graphically appealing (available here), and adding information we feel students are more likely to use. We’ve started to work toward two more subject-specific handouts offering guidance on specific editing requirements within Medicine and Sociology articles, which will complement our recent handout on editing for Psychology.

Just as our office, staff and resources have been growing, so has our website. We have been developing our social media presence and blog to be more useful to instructors. This includes creating blog posts with practical advice for instructors and highlighting the resources and support we provide. Eryk Salvaggio, our Communications Associate, has been working closely with the Classroom Programs team to identify common problems to tackle in explanatory blog posts, complementing our efforts to promote ideal student work and instructors.

Blog posts:

News coverage:

2.4. Digital Infrastructure

Throughout October, Sage Ross, our Product Manager for Digital Services, has worked intensively with designers and developers to complete the “1.0” version of the Assignment Design Wizard (pictured, left), which is now up and running at wizard.wikiedu.org. This tool is the first of a series of course-focused technical projects, planned with the goals of improving the user experience for our program participants, enhancing their ability to do great work on Wikipedia, and making it easier for us to continue scaling up the number of classes we support. For the Assignment Design Wizard in particular, we want to provide a tool that an instructor can use to learn about best practices for Wikipedia assignments, choose assignment options that make sense for their course, and publish a draft course plan that can form the basis of their own custom Wikipedia assignment. If we can do that well, it should improve the quality of instructors’ assignments, reduce the time Wiki Ed staff and Wikipedia Ambassadors spend giving one-on-one assignment design guidance, and make it easier for instructors to dive into their first Wikipedia course project.

Since late October, Sage has been conducting ongoing user testing on the Assignment Design Wizard, which will continue into November. Any and all feedback is welcome, so if it sounds interesting, please give it a try and send ideas and reflections to sage@wikiedu.org.

3. Finance and Administration

3.1. Finance and Administration

photo 4

Window work underway at the Wiki Education Foundation office.

Our space in the Presidio is beginning its transformation into a proper office, with the addition of desks, chairs, carpets and a couch for the lobby. Though working in a beautiful historical park has many obvious advantages, changes to the building are performed by the Presidio National Trust, which aims to preserve the historical integrity of the grounds and structures. This month, that means temporarily replacing three of our windows with plywood as the Presidio Trust adapts the building according to its rigid standards of historical preservation.

  • Monthly expenses are $151,679 versus the plan of $95,185. The primary cause of the variance for the month is that the plan amount being used is from the original budget that does not include additional funding received later. A revised budget, which includes the additional funding, will be reviewed at the November board meeting.
  • Year to date expenses are $634,640 versus plan of $648,230. As with the monthly variance, the primary cause is due to the use of the original budget that 1) did not include a major secondary funding source (unknown at the time); and 2) projection based on an 18-month period versus a 12-month fiscal year.





4. Office of the ED


Frank Schulenburg at work in the makeshift office space in the kitchen of the Wiki Education Foundation.

Current priorities:

    • Setting up our pilot project with high-achieving students
    • Management of internal and external stakeholders
    • Preparation of first in-person board meeting

In October, we completed the hiring for our upcoming pilot with high-achieving students. Samantha Erickson will join Wiki Education Foundation in mid-November to take the lead on this project. We think of high-achieving students as an attractive target group when it comes to recruiting new content contributors for Wikipedia. We also believe that there are ways of engaging students in the improvement of free knowledge outside of the classroom. That’s why we’ll embark on an experimental pilot project that will explore ways of encouraging high-achieving students to become future Wikipedians through extracurricular activities. As an organization that is devoted to ongoing learning, pilot projects like this offer a unique opportunity to try new and exciting approaches, while staying true to our focus of improving Wikipedia’s content.

Also in October, Wikipedia community members approached us and asked whether Wiki Ed would support the Wiki Conference USA in 2015. As we’ve always seen our organization as part of a wider free knowledge ecosystem, we are open to this idea in general. We also believe that in-person meetings add a lot of value to a community that is geographically dispersed and interacts mostly online. That’s why we’ve started talking to a variety of stakeholders in different parts of the U.S. and listened to their hopes and expectations around next year’s conference. This feedback will help us with deciding to which extent Wiki Ed will be able to serve the community in a supporting role when it comes to organizing Wiki Conference 2015.

5. Visitors and Guests

  • Mary Graham, Harvard Kennedy School
  • David Peters, EXBROOK
  • Sue Gardner
  • Dahlia Stein, DECA Connect
  • Erik Möller, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Damon Sicore, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Katherine Maher, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Garfield Byrd, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Rebecca Handler, Pacific Foundation Services



by Eryk Salvaggio at November 18, 2014 05:39 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Carl Sanders, is not the 74th "List of Governors of #Georgia".

It is said that the community is always right. It also has a short term memory and its consensus is not necessarily what you hope for.

Take Mr Sanders, he died recently and it was indicated that he was a "List of Governors of Georgia". It is an old argument that is the result of some bad practice at Wikipedia. The Wikipedia article includes mainly a list and consequently it is to be called a list. There is no article about the subject itself and hey "it must be a list in Wikidata as well".

It is simple to fix the situation for the governor of Georgia. All articles are lists, there is no Wikipedia that has both a list article and an article so I had the item identify the subject.

Using the category I added many of the "missing" governors, there were only 15 humans known to be governor of Georgia. I made all of them a politician and an US-American.

The community has every right to rehash old arguments. I just follow the old consensus and wait for the dust to settle yet again.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 18, 2014 07:23 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Photos aside, how else does Wiki Loves Monuments deliver?

The concrete cooperation through Wiki Loves Monuments means a lot! Wikimedia Commons is currently the only open platform where we can work together with dedicated and talented photographers. The work with WLM – and the mere existence of Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia – means a lot for our work with digital infrastructure K-samsök/SOCH where the linchpin is to create an open and networked access to cultural heritage and museum information.

Lars Lundqvist, Head of new media and cultural heritage data at the National Heritage Board.

The partnership has been very valuable to us. We have received many great new photos of the ships, but also gained new networks and friends.

Anders Näsberg, Brand Web Editor at the National Maritime Museums in Sweden.

Icebreaker Bore, working both on and off wiki as an icebreaker.
“Isbrytaren Bore” by Kristianwhedberg, under CC BY-SA 3.0

A train load of prizes arrived thanks to our cooperation with GLAMs.
“Järnvägsmuseet, Kristianstad – 2013-05-03 – 10″ by Haxpett, under CC BY 4.0

Don’t let a wall of hierarchy stop you.
“Visby ringmur östra delen” by En-cas-de-soleil, under CC BY-SA 3.0

For the past four years, Wikimedia Sverige has organized the photo contest Wiki Loves Monuments in Sweden. Besides getting great photos to showcase Wikipedia and involving many new photographers, we have noticed another benefit from the contest that has received little attention.

What we have come to realize is that the contest is an excellent tool to increase cooperation with GLAM institutions in our country. Inviting GLAMs to be involved in the world’s largest photo contest and include their objects to be photographed is a great icebreaker.

Through the contest, Wikimedia Sverige has deepened its cooperation with a number of central GLAM organizations in several ways. In Sweden, we have mainly worked with three GLAMs: Riksantikvarieämbetet (The National Heritage Board); Statens Maritima Museer (The National Maritime Museums in Sweden); and Arbetslivsmuseernas Samarbetsråd (ArbetSam) (The Council of Working Life Museums). These GLAMs have, amongst other things, the responsibility to collect data and spread awareness about the objects within their respective fields. For example, The National Heritage Board deals with old buildings and ancient monuments, The National Maritime Museums in Sweden with important ships, and ArbetSam with a large number of museums and outdoor collections (such as old trains, mills etc.).

Wikimedia Sverige started working with the National Heritage Board in 2011, and has continued to work closely with them. The Wiki Loves Monuments contest was one of the first major projects we did together, and the National Heritage Board is now one of our most vocal and close supporters in the GLAM sector. This cooperation has been the model from which we built other GLAM relationships.

Before the start of the contest each year, we maintain close contact with the GLAMs, and work on improving the lists and other associated tasks. We strongly believe that having this type of regular interaction has solidified our cooperation.

Each of the GLAMs have provided us with data that we have used to build lists on Wikipedia. This has been the foundation of the cooperation, and has presented the GLAMs with a clear benefit and task. They have all appreciated the fact that their objects are included on Wikipedia and are considered important enough to form the foundation of the worlds largest photo contest. For the Wikimedia movement, it is obviously a great benefit to have complete and updated lists on Wikipedia. The cooperation has also put the spotlight on their work with their databases and licensing their data sets as open data – which is an added value. These are things we will then be able to include on Wikidata in the future.

For most of the contest, the GLAMs have also sponsored the prizes. These are often from their own shops – hence the prizes are very suitable for the photo categories in the contest. Sponsoring prizes is something that their staff has said is a bit easier to find support for in comparison to other tasks. What’s more, GLAM staff have been part of the jury, which is a good way to use their expertise and a task that many experts find rewarding and interesting. Another win-win!

For the last year, the GLAMs have also been actively – and very successfully – involved in the external communication work. Our joint efforts led to more than 30 press mentions about Wiki Loves Monuments in 2014 alone.

Finally, the GLAMs are now involved in Wikimedia Sverige’s applications for external funding as partners or in project reference groups. This involvement has greatly increased our chances of receiving funding for our work, and we have already seen positive outcomes. The fact that we now can pick up the phone, and ask them to join our application on short notice, is possible because of prior cooperation around Wiki Loves Monuments.

So what is needed for this to happen in your country as well?

We have learnt a lot during the last years and here are a few things to remember to form a strong cooperation (of course this list is not comprehensive, and some of it we could do better in practice ourselves):

  • Contact them early. Some of these are big hierarchical organizations that need time to form an opinion. This is especially true the first year you work together.
  • Be clear with them what they can do and what you are hoping for. Communication is the key. Don’t surprise them with new stuff that they haven’t planned for.
  • Report results continuously and at the end. Be sure to let them know that their work matters and that it is visible. E.g. we have great numbers to give them about page/image views and knowing these numbers makes it easy for them to argue internally for why they should work with us. Note: Making sure that the images are being used on Wikipedia will increase these numbers greatly. See if there is volunteer interest or if a contest around writing or adding images to Wikipedia can be organized.

Things we still struggle with

Of course there are still a number of things that we would like to develop further:

  • Reuse of the images. We would love to find ways of helping the GLAMs to use the API to get the WLM photos so that they can reuse them in their own environment. (We have a project focusing on this that is about to take off in 2015.) One example where this is already happening is the website Kringla.nu where cultural heritage images from Wikimedia Commons are embedded (example).
  • Updating the lists. Keeping the lists up to date has proven a bit tricky, as not all GLAMs update the lists themselves or have a RSS feed with the updates in their database.

Have you found Wiki Loves Monuments useful for GLAM cooperations in your country? Have you done something similar? Please share in the comment section below!


John Andersson, Project Manager, Wikimedia Sweden

Axel Pettersson, Project Manager GLAM, Wikimedia Sweden

by yoonahawikimedia at November 18, 2014 03:42 AM

November 17, 2014

Tech News

Tech News issue #47, 2014 (November 17, 2014)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2014, week 47 (Monday 17 November 2014) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎日本語 • ‎português • ‎русский • ‎svenska • ‎українська • ‎中文

November 17, 2014 12:00 AM

November 16, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia NL - my #Wikidata presentation - #WCN2014

<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="355" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/41610199" style="border-width: 1px; border: 1px solid #CCC; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;" width="425"> </iframe>

The presentation I gave at the 2014 Dutch conference in Utrecht went well. Sadly, for whatever reason I found that it is not yet on Commons. That can be remedied.

When I present, the slides include the main points so when people doze off, they can always find what it was all about. This presentation is very much my view on Wikidata. I presented in Dutch and the slides are in English so that it can be easily re-used.

The points I made are:
  • Knowing about Wikidata and its development is best understood thanks to the stats
  • Appreciating the information included is best done through the Reasonator
  • Wonderful tools exist that are sadly NOT part of plain vanilla Wikidata
  • Why and how I make so many edits ... the method in my madness
  • The Dutch Wikipedia COULD activate Wikidata search.. to share in the sum of all available knowledge
  • Much knowledge is not known to the Dutch Wikipedia
  • Wikidata already knows about much meta data on Commons thanks to the Creator templates

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 16, 2014 08:36 AM

November 15, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Jens Brugge; a judge from Norway

Mr Brugge, a high court judge from Norway died. According to the article about him, his lineage is illustrious. Many generations in the Brugge family were quite notable.  It can be seen in GeneaWiki2 and, it can be shown inline or in a separate window from the Reasonator.

There is an increasing amount of genealogical information available in Wikidata. The value of all this data is not in having it, it is in using it. At this time 29,337 people are known to have a father and 13,336 people are known to have a mother. Obviously, these numbers will only increase and become more complete. Would it not be wonderful to share this information in Wikipedia articles as well?

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 15, 2014 07:05 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Sailing the South Pacific with a copy of Wikipedia on board: The Goodall Family

This profile is part of a series about Offline Wikipedia.

The Goodall family

“The Goodall family” by Simon Goodall, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Goodall girls using Kiwix aboard the family ship, the Kyrimba.

“The Goodall girls using Kiwix aboard the Kyrimba” by Simon Goodall, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Goodall family aboard the Kyrimba viewing dolphins.

“The Goodall family aboard the Kyrimba viewing dolphins” by Simon Goodall, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Goodall Family going up the river in their dinghy to visit the Nanda Blue Hole, in the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

“Visiting the Nanda Blue Hole, in the island of Espiritu Santo (or just ‘Santo’)” by Simon Goodall, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Kyrimba approaches Tanna, Vanuatu after 16 days at sea. The family had departed from from Tarawa, Kiribati.

“The Goodall family aboard the Kyrimba viewing dolphins” by Simon Goodall, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Connecting to Wi-Fi is a daunting task when you spend most of your time at sea. It’s more of a challenge when you’re traveling offline to unfamiliar places, without a reliable and readily available source of knowledge. With Kiwix, however; an open source offline content browser, users are able to access the knowledge base that attempts to compile the sum of all human knowledge. It allows offline reading of Wikipedia in its entirety, even in the most remote parts of the world.

The Goodall family is part of a growing number of Wikipedia users that benefit from Kiwix. The family of five hails from the South American island of Tierra del Fuego and has been sailing across the world for the past year.

Simon Goodall and his wife, Carolina Goodall, have been globe-trotting for quite some time. Their list of adventures include backpacking across Russia, Mongolia and China, experiencing farm life in New Zealand and Australia, and traveling across Argentina in a motor-home. They are also experienced with traveling by water, having delivered yachts between ports along South America and the Caribbean, as well as sailing along Cape Horn to Antarctica.

The family originally intended on sailing to the northern or southern coast of Europe by means of the Caribbean Sea, but eventually decided to sail across the Pacific Ocean. Together, the Goodalls have three children: 10 year-old Sarah, eight-year-old Emma, and 6-year-old Clara. The children have been a part of the couple’s journey in their boat named Kyrimba. Simon Goodall writes, “sailing in the Pacific came as part of a continuum, a stage in life when the girls are the right age to absorb what the world has to offer: cultures, places, ways of life and the ability to travel together as a family.”

“We have learned that these cultures are very much in touch with mother earth. That although they can be considered “simple” in today’s modern world they are much more in touch with the world that supports us and have a wealth of information that in many places is slowly being lost,” writes Simon.

They were first introduced to the Kiwix software through a friend who gave them a copy of Navigatrix, an open source suite of boating applications designed for use on boats at sea.

Since using Kiwix, Simon says he has told other travelers about the offline software and how much it has helped them answer questions right away.

“When speaking about Kiwix/Wikipedia it has been mainly on how many times we have had queries that have been answered on the spot because of this availability of information,” writes Simon.

The family has been chronicling their adventures on their website, and say that using Wikipedia has been an integral part of their journey. With the Kiwix software on board, they’ve been able to use Wikipedia as a reference for culture, art and history. In addition, Wikipedia comes in handy for everyday living, whether it is identifying health risks or browsing the movie database for entertainment.

The Goodalls’ three daughters are currently home-schooled. Simon and Carolina find the offline Wikipedia software to be a useful part of their children’s education. As part of their home-school program, Carolina and her daughters use Wikipedia as a reference point to discuss topics ranging from animal classification systems to ancient civilizations.

Sarah uses Wikipedia in conjunction with her school readings to discover more about subjects that fascinate her in the books that she reads and in real life. She enjoys looking up stories from Greek mythology and fueling her interest in natural medicine by reading about herbs.

Emma also uses Kiwix frequently to identify everything from volcanoes to exotic fish species. In fact, whenever the Goodalls eat fish they have made it a part of their routine to identify the fish before prepping it for consumption.

“With Carolina we have used [Kiwix] to look up specific fish like Wahoo [to] see if it was mentioned for eating raw [either as] sushi [or] sashimi, which it is not really mentioned but we ended up eating it anyway! It’s not like you put a label on the hook that says Tuna or Mackerel only, we would like to eat [them] for sashimi,” writes Simon.

Simon tells us that even repair tasks can be helped with Kiwix as a reference, and the family as a whole enjoys learning about the places they have visited or plan on visiting.

“Let’s ask Kiwix the answer!” has become a part of the Goodalls’ vernacular.

Profile by Yoona Ha, Communications Intern

Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

by yoonahawikimedia at November 15, 2014 01:01 AM

How to get the Wikimedia Foundation to fund your international gathering

AdaCamp 2012 attendees

”Adacamp DC attendees 3″ by Adam Novak, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

After the first Wikimania was organized in Frankfurt, Germany in 2005, it was clear that alongside the virtual channels that we rely on every day, Wikimedia community members are in need of physical meeting spaces. They allow to build stronger networks of trust and friendship, share experiences, and create new ideas with peers from all across the globe.

Our international conferences have become more complex. In 2005, 380 participants were brought together; in 2014, attendance numbers grew more than 5 times, as Wikimania was attended by over 2000 people. These gatherings are inspirational and fun, and held alongside the more specialized meetings focused on particular programs and regions.

Some of the complexity stems from getting the conference off the ground. Important questions to keep in mind are: What kind of Wikimedia grants are funding these meetings? What does a successful proposal look like?

Plan: What do you want to achieve?

Planning an international gathering can be broken into three different phases: goals, program and schedule, and evaluation. In the first phase, organizers establish the goals and main themes of the conference. International conferences are expensive and logistics are complicated, so the first question the WMF would want answered is the rationale: Why have this event at all? Why does it need international participation? Is there a demonstrated need for it?

During the programming phase you brainstorm ideas for the specific sessions and activities in the event program. It’s a good idea to survey the prospective participants to learn what they want from the conference. These actions shape the evaluation plan of the conference. It is important to establish goals, design sessions and formats (will there be a talk? a workshop? a brainstorm?) and work on the metrics you’ll use to measure your success.

Galileo Vidoni, organizer of Iberoconf 2014, the international meeting that brings together Wikimedia organizations from Latin America, Spain and Italy says, “We want to showcase the conference as another link in the chain of work that goes on during the year, rather than as an isolated event.” He describes the efforts that have gone into improving the way the success of conferences are measured, and says, “Unlike last year, in 2014 we submitted a more detailed plan, with the metrics we will use to measure our results, against goals. We also highlighted the continuous discussions and agreements developed at Iberoconf 2013.”

Each conference has a different history and hence, different goals. While Iberoconf is heading towards its fourth edition and is already working on programs across chapters, Wiki Indaba in 2014 was the first event of its kind in the region. One of its goals was very simple: bring together experienced Wikipedians from across Africa, to build best practices around outreach, and to form a wider community.

Since travel expenses usually form the highest cost of international gatherings, it is advised to seek deals with travel agencies or airline national offices to get a discounted rate. This is also why it is important to be selective in inviting participants. You not only want people who can demonstrate their activity (online and offline) in the Wikimedia movement, but also those with ability to both contribute their experiences and share the knowledge gained in their local community (also known as multipliers).

Another common topic raised in recent reviews of international gatherings was the preparation for the event. Participants are expected to be prepared for discussions, having read previously any resources available, and leaving the meeting with a clear idea of the opportunities that lie in the future for working together. If you are organizing the event, how will you ensure this is happening as much as possible? Some possible methods are pre-event surveys and SWOT analyses.

Apply: Secure funds and resources for your conference

"Iberoconf 2013 - Foto grupal" by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Iberoconf 2013 group photo
“Iberoconf 2013 – Foto grupal” by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

If you need funding for your event, you should apply for a Project and Event Grant (PEG). The PEG program accepts proposals at any time, but be sure to submit your proposal early. We recommend at least 3 months in advance of the meeting to allow time for review by the Grant Advisory Committee, discussion, and revision, as well as purchasing flights at reasonable rates, if necessary. If you have questions about the process, contact the grants team early on. All of the WMF grants programs aim to increase the reach, participation in, and quality of Wikimedia projects, and grow local free knowledge.

This last goal is, in Galileo’s view, why the community supports Iberocoop — the Ibero-American network of Wikimedian groups that has been organizing the Iberoconf events. Iberocoop is not only an association of neighbouring countries, but it is also sustained by sister languages and a shared culture. He adds: “The international community acknowledges that, and appreciates it. This also represents a challenge for us: to execute Wikimedia programs on a regional level.” The participating countries in Wiki Indaba also have regional similarities: Limitations in access to the Internet and the high use of mobile broadband are two common denominators faced by editors across Africa.

Your international conference doesn’t have to rely solely on PEG funds to become reality. A good example of that is Ada Camp 2014, an initiative that originally started as a big international meeting, and broke into smaller camp-like workshops in different countries. In their recently approved PEG proposal, organizers requested USD 11,480, but the total costs of hosting three camps went up to USD 129,453. The rest was funded by Google, Mozilla and Wikimedia Deutschland, among others.

Execute and measure: How did it go? What did you learn?

"Evaluation Survey WM Conference 2014 final" by Nicole Ebber (WMDE), under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Showcase your results! Here, Wikimedia Conference 2014 report
“Evaluation Survey WM Conference 2014 final” by Nicole Ebber (WMDE), under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Once the conference is over, documenting its outcomes and outputs will help you prepare for your final report. Before parting ways, it is also key that participants know how to continue with the project, anywhere they go. Build up strong communication bonds and have a project coordinator to follow up with the outcomes of the conference. Perhaps the greatest service you can do your event participants after the event is to help them following up on ideas and initiatives discussed at the event.

The PEG grant report template has guidelines to help you showcase the conference experience. We recommend collecting feedback during and after the event through surveys to better understand participants’ experiences and discover where improvement is called for. A good example is the Wikimedia Conference 2014 Report, which summarizes participant demographics and impressions from the conference, including favorite sessions.

Good ideas end where they begin: plan how you will evaluate your actions in advance! Find resources and tools on the Evaluation portal to build your indicators of success and write an evaluation plan.

María Cruz, Learning and Evaluation, Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at November 15, 2014 12:30 AM

November 14, 2014

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Apertium and Wikimedia: A collaboration that powers the Content Translation tool

Many readers of this blog know about the Content Translation initiative. This project, developed by the Language Engineering team of the Wikimedia Foundation, brings together machine translation and rich text editing to provide a quick method to create Wikipedia articles by translating them from another language.

Content Translation uses Apertium as its machine translation back-end. Apertium is a freely licensed open source project and was our first choice for this stage of development. The first version of Content Translation focused on the Spanish-Catalan language pair, and one of the reasons for this choice was the maturity of Apertium’s machine translation for those languages.

However, with growing needs to support more language pairs in the newer versions of Content Translation, it became essential that the machine translation continue to be reliable, and that the back-end be stable and up-to-date. To ensure this stability, we needed to use the latest updates released by the Apertium upstream project maintainers, and we needed to use Apertium as a separate service. Prior to this set-up, the Apertium service was being provided from within the Content Translation server (cxserver).

The Content Translation tool is currently hosted on Wikimedia’s beta servers. To set up the independent Apertium service, it was important to use the latest released stable packages from Apertium, but they were not available for the current versions of Ubuntu and Debian. This became a significant blocker, because use of third party package repositories is not recommended for Wikimedia’s server environments.

After discussion with Wikimedia’s Operations team and Apertium project maintainers, it was decided that the Apertium packages would be built for the Wikimedia repository. In addition to the Apertium base packages, individual packages for supporting the language pairs and other service packages were built, tested and included in the Wikimedia repository. Alexandros Kosiaris (from the Wikimedia Operations team), reviewed and merged these packages and the patches for their inclusion in the repository. The Apertium service was then puppetized for easy configuration and management on the Wikimedia beta cluster.

Meanwhile, to make Apertium more accessible for Ubuntu and Debian users, Kartik Mistry (from the Wikimedia Language Engineering team) also started working closely with the Apertium project maintainers, to make sure that the Debian packages were up-to-date in the main repository. Going forward, once the updated packages are included in Ubuntu’s next Long Term Support (LTS) version, we plan to remove these packages from the internal Wikimedia repository.

The Content Translation tool has since been updated and now supports Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish machine translation, using the updated Apertium service through cxserver. We hope our users will benefit from the faster and more reliable translation experience.

We would like to thank Tino Didriksen, Francis Tyers and Kevin Brubeck Unhammer from the Apertium project, and Alexandros Kosiaris and Antoine Musso from the Wikimedia Operations and Release Engineering teams respectively, for their continued support and guidance.

Runa Bhattacharjee, and Kartik Mistry, Wikimedia Language Engineering team

by Guillaume Paumier at November 14, 2014 06:41 PM

Wikimedia UK

AdaCamp Berlin 2014 – a summary account

The photo shows a group of around 30 people smiling for the camera

A group of Ada Camp Berlin attendees

This post was written by Roberta Wedge, Gender Gap Project Worker

Ada Camp is a weekend-long event bringing together women in open technology and culture for mutual support. It was created by the Ada Initiative, which exists to support women in these fields.

I attended Ada Camp Berlin (of which Wikimedia UK was a sponsor) on October 10-12, along with Daria Cybulska (and Rebecca Kahn, who works alongside WMUK and in our office, on behalf of the Open Coalition). It was held in the offices of Wikimedia Deutschland, which seemed to create a positive impression on all the participants I spoke to. This was the first Ada Camp held outside the United States (aside from the very first one, in Melbourne), and the 57 participants were a very international group, many based in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, and many with ties of upbringing, education, and experience around the globe. Roughly half were “technical” (software designers, coders, analysts, etc.) but the rest were not, having found their ways to careers in open tech through other ways.

WMUK sponsored a welcome reception on Friday evening, which allowed the participants to begin to get to know each other. Some of them were already friends and colleagues; some others had met via the email exchanges and Twitter lists set up in the weeks before the event.

Ada Camp itself is structured as an unconference, which means that the content is partially decided by the participants themselves on Saturday morning. The sessions proposed were a mix of “I have experience with X and want to share” to “I know that X exists and want to learn more”, where X could range from a type of software to an instance of harassment or exclusion.

The whole-group activity on Saturday morning, about Imposter Syndrome (self-doubt in one’s professional role), allowed the organisers time to collate these disparate proposals into a programme.

The power of Ada Camp lies in the conversations it fosters. I attended sessions on the open source economy, being a non-techie in a technical field, Creative Commons, building safe spaces, and activism. I also found myself being asked to lead a Wikimedia session that was part editathon and part discussion of the gender gap. Ten women came to this; some had created accounts and edited years ago, but dropped it, for reasons in some cases eloquent and in others forgotten by the women themselves. Zara Rahman wrote later of why editing Hedy Lamarr’s biography earlier that year had turned her off Wikipedia; Ednah Kiome spoke about returning to editing after years away. One woman, a computational linguist, said that her job would not be possible, in a very literal sense, without Wikipedia. Some expressed surprise at how large the encyclopedia had grown since they last really looked at it, and at the number and scope of the other Wikimedia projects. Others were taken aback at how little had been written about the places they came from or the subjects they are interested in. We discussed systemic bias.

One of the insights I gained is that activism does not have to be about fighting and protesting, but it can also be about championing and evangelising. The developers have to do their behind-the-scenes work, but a project goes nowhere without the enthusiasts to go out and explain its potential and uses. This is as true of Wiki*edia as it is of Ada Camp.

by Stevie Benton at November 14, 2014 03:22 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Thanks for the Book Award

It is very rewarding to read a good book and, it is great when good books find their way to you. There are many literary awards known in Wikidata and the "Thanks for the Book Award" is one of many.

This award has Wikipedia articles on eight Wikipedias. It is a Finnish award and every year there is a new winner. This year it was Pauliina Rauhala for her book "Taivaslaulu".

Most of the Wikipedia articles have not been maintained for quite some time. They are not aware of Mrs Rauhala for instance.

To improve on the Wikipedia articles, all it takes is a mechanism to highlight when a new award is given in a year, The data can be found in Wikidata and, as you can see, in Reasonator we have the timelines showing the winners in order.

As we have the data, we can query for this years awards. With hidden queries, we can exclude those articles that are known to have a winner. It is not hard, it is motivating to share in the sum of all available knowledge.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 14, 2014 07:29 AM

November 13, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Help us close Wikipedia’s gender gap


Around 9 out of 10 of the editors on Wikipedia are male. What this means is that articles are shaped by one voice, and missing the diversity of content that different perspectives bring.

Wikipedia articles on women are more likely to be missing than Wikipedia articles on men (compared to other encyclopedias). It’s natural: When all content is written by volunteers, and your volunteer base is almost all one gender, the topics they write on will be those they’re interested in. On a large scale, this means things like military history, video games, and pop culture topics are well developed on Wikipedia, while arts, languages, and social science coverage often lags behind, creating content gaps.

We’re trying to change that, by working with university student editors to close content gaps on Wikipedia.

Here’s how it works. Across the U.S. and Canada, instructors are embracing Wikipedia assignments, giving students new tools for writing and learning their course material, often about topics not well covered or not even available on Wikipedia. We support instructors who choose to assign their students to contribute content to Wikipedia, complementing or replacing traditional student essays and encouraging students to contribute their knowledge to new or existing Wikipedia articles. These assignments strengthen student writing and critical thinking just as a traditional essay would, such as researching and evaluating sources and outlining that research into a logical arrangement. But with Wikipedia, students get the extra exhilarating jolt of knowing their scholarship will be read by the public, sharpening a sense of responsibility and critical thinking in their writing. The biggest difference, however, is that their work lives on as a resource for others. They can see that their scholarship is making a difference in the world.

Just as these Wikipedia assignments help students grow, students and instructors are also helping Wikipedia grow by filling those content gaps. These assignments improve the representation of women’s issues on Wikipedia and bring a diversity of perspectives to the editing community. Content gaps — the spaces where articles, topics, and perspectives are just too narrow — are often the best places for students to start editing.

More content from and about women is on Wikipedia now because of student engagement through our program. Some articles on Wikipedia that had been shockingly absent or incomplete for years — such as birth control, gender inequality, maternity leave, feminism, pregnancy risks in developing countries, refugee status of women, sex work, and the women’s role in the Arab Spring — are now thriving thanks to students and instructors in Wiki Ed’s program taking them on.

These pages were viewed more than 350,000 times since students created them, creating more information and more perspectives on Wikipedia, providing a more accurate reflection of the world for everyone who uses it.

More than 60% of our student editors are women, and in areas where we have targeted partnerships, that number is even higher. Surveys from the American Sociological Association Wikipedia Initiative, in which ASA encourages all sociology professors to participate in our program, showed that 70% of student editors participating in that initiative were women. That’s more women with experience editing Wikipedia, and more content contributed by women. In the end, that’s a stronger Wikipedia for everyone.

We’re proud to be attending the National Women’s Studies Association conference this week in Puerto Rico, where we hope to bring more awareness of this problem to the very people who we believe can have the greatest impact on bringing more women’s related content to Wikipedia.

Interested in helping us close the gender gap? If you’re a university instructor, you can make a real difference in how your students learn and how women’s subjects are represented on Wikipedia by participating in our program. Wiki Ed offers free training, guidance, and resources to help design a course that meets your goals while helping Wikipedia grow. To find out more, contact us by email at contactwikiedu.org.

by Eryk Salvaggio at November 13, 2014 07:36 PM

Tony Thomas

[MW]$wgExtensionFunctions : Run a function when an extension is evoked

Working further with making the BounceHandler extension more production friendly – we came up with a scenario in which I wanted some of the extension global variables to take values from a MediaWiki global variable. It would’ve looked like $myExtensionGlobal = $mwGlobal – which looks weird. Thanks to Hoo( WMDE ), I got introduced to […]

by tonythomas01 at November 13, 2014 05:04 PM

November 12, 2014

Wikimedia UK

A review of EduWiki Conference 2014

Image is an illustration, showing a digital image of a person in class raising their hand

Wikipedia belongs in education

This post was written by Lorna Campbell and was originally published here. Re-used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License 

Last Friday I went along to the EduWiki Conference in the distractingly beautiful St Leonard’s Hall at the University of Edinburgh. I have to confess to being a bit of a Wikimedia fangirl; I’m not a Wikimedian myself, but I’m a huge fan of Wikimedia’s work in the education domain and I believe Wikimedia has an important role to play, not just in disseminating open educational resources, but also in developing open education practice. This was highlighted by the recent Wikimedia Deutschland OERde14 Conference I went to in Berlin, which brought together over 300* participants from all sectors of German education. This is the first time I’ve managed to get to the EduWiki Conference in the UK and it certainly lived up to expectations. I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire conference, but I do want to pick out a few highlights

The Conference was opened by Peter McColl, Rector of the University of Edinburgh and editor of the progressive blog Bright Green. McColl highlighted the venerable tradition of the Commons, describing Wikipedia as a perfect example of the Commons, a resource that we come together to create and which we can all share and use.

The morning keynote was presented by Floor Koudijs, Senior Manager of the Wikipedia Education Program who introduced just a few of the 70 education projects Wikimedia funds world wide. These include Wikipedia School (Athens), which teaches Wikipedia writing to adults as part of the Greek Ministry of Education’s Education for Lifetime programme. Several countries also include Wikipedia editing skills as part of their initial teacher training programmes.

Floor’s presentation provoked an interesting discussion about the potential importance of Wikipedia in engaging the public with research and demonstrating academic impact. Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at the University of Edinburgh suggested that citing open access articles in Wikipedia should result in increased evidence of impact while at the same time helping to change attitudes to Wikipedia in in academia. Toni Sant, Wikimedia UK Education Organiser, added that Research Councils UK are starting to show an interest in Wikipedia and that EduWiki was mentioned positively at the 6th international Conference on Integrity and Plagiarism earlier this year.

Marc Haynes, Wikipedian in Residence at Coleg Cymraeg, spoke about Welsh Wicipedia and Porth Esboniadur, a reference resource for Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Training in wiki skills is provided as an ongoing part of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s academic staffing programme. Marc noted that colleagues are not keen on using CC BY SA licenced content due to the perceived difficulty of mixing it with CC BY content. This is an issue that Cable Green actually addressed on twitter recently, advising that resources that mix licences should state

“Unless otherwise noted, all content in this (content type) is under a CC BY 4.0 license”

Martin Poulter, Jisc’s former Wikimedia Ambassador gave a highly engaging talk about the benefits of “Wikimedia comprehension exercises” to educate colleagues and overcome misconceptions. He then challenged us to locate various tools and useful information, such as quality ratings and translations, around Wikimedia. Even with such a knowledgeable audience, I could hear lots of people commenting, “Ooh! I didn’t know that was there!”

Greg Singh, Lecturer in Communications, Media & Culture at the University of Stirling, also touched on Wikimedia misconceptions, telling us that his students often ask ‘Why doesn’t Wikimedia act more like Amazon?’ – because it’s not a social media platform and it’s not a bookseller!

Cetis’ Brian Kelly and Filip Maljković of Wikimedia Serbia gave a whistlestop tour of Wikimedia projects in the UK and Serbia which I’m not even going to attempt to summarise, but you can find their slides here.

In the afternoon I went along to the “Wiki*edia Projects in Schools” workshop led by Daria Cybulska and featuring thought provoking contributions from John Johnston, Ian Stuart, Ally Crockford and others. Several themes emerged from the workshop including the use of Wikimedia to enhance digital literacy, the possibility of working with Gaelic medium educators to develop Gaelic wikipedia entries for use by teachers and the pros and cons of integrating wikipedia resources with lesson plans. The discussion also drifted into GLAM territory, with several participants mentioning teachers’ fear that they will be caught using licensed content. At this point John Johnston suggested that what we really need is a “wee weans licence” i.e. a licence that allowed children to use content in the course of their education without fear of copyright infringement. John also advised that we shouldn’t be too ambitious when introducing Wikimedia in schools. Don’t dive straight into editing, start off by demonstrating how to use Wikipedia as a source and how to reuse content with appropriate attribution. Iain also suggested that making Wikipedia available in a closed environment, such as a usb stick or a closed network, might encourage its use in schools. Sadly I had to leave before the workshop ended, but I left participants cheerfully discussing how to harness the power of “love and happiness and guilt-tripping” to promote use of Wikimedia in schools :)

I’ve put together a Storify of my tweets from EduWiki here and Brian Kelly has posted his Storify here

* I’m guessing. I don’t know how many people were actually there but I vaguely remember someone mentioning 300!

by Stevie Benton at November 12, 2014 06:36 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

55 works of iconic Indian writer released on Wikisource under a free licence

Kannada is a language spoken by 40 million people in Karnataka– one of the four southern states of India.The Kannada Wikimedia community, in collaboration with CIS-A2K, are enthusiastic about having almost all of the works of Niranjana re-licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0 on the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava. Niranjana was a prolific Indian author and activist, and wrote more than 60 books over the course of his career. These works will be digitized and made available on Kannada Wikisource, allowing Kannada speakers to freely access the diverse set of works. Niranjana’s works give a rich glimpse into social, political, and cultural history of Karnataka from the 1940s to 1990s; they can be used as a potential resource for creating and improving articles on Kannada Wikipedia.

Niranjana (1924-1992) was the pseudonym of Kulkund Shivarao, a prominent Kannada writer of the 20th century and a leading figure in the Progressive Writers’ Movement in Kannada. His prolific output, across nearly five decades, included novels, short stories, plays, biographies, political commentary, and translations. He was a regular columnist in the Kannada newspapers and magazines. Among his achievements as an editor are Jnana Gangotri, a 7-volume encyclopedia for young people, and a 25-volume compilation of the world’s greatest short stories.

“This is the the single largest and most comprehensive individual collection of a writer to be released under CC-BY-SA 4.0 in any of the Indian languages so far,” says Omshivaprakash.

“KannadaWikipediaWorkshop 010″ by Pavanaja, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

A total of 55 Kannada books by Niranjana are re-licensed. “This is the single largest and most comprehensive individual collection of a writer to be released under CC-BY-SA 4.0 in any of the Indian languages so far,” says Kannada Wikimedian Omshivaprakash. Kannada Wikimedians and CIS-A2K have organized a formal event to celebrate Creative Commons efforts to cultivate free and open knowledge online in Kannada; specifically, Kannada Wikisource. It is important to also acknowledge the great initiative shown by Niranjana’s daughter, Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana, in getting these works released under CC-BY-SA 4.0 licensing.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana says, “[Kannada] Wikisource is an excellent free and open knowledge platform for books in Indian languages and I am happy that my father’s works can now be accessed by [all] Kannadigas across the world. Let these writings have innumerable readers. What more could any author want?”

She is determined to release more work under CC licensing, and says, “[I] will be more than glad to get as many Indian works as possible under a free license as this will ensure that a lot of knowledge produced over the past many decades in India can easily be made accessible to the next generation of seekers of knowledge, who are digital natives.”

Tejas Jain, another Kannada Wikimedian, was quick to co-write a blog in Kannada about this content donation. Jain says, “this is a bold step…and will act as motivation for other Kannada writers to release more content under CC-BY-SA 4.0.” He hopes to see “Kannda Wikisource grow as the comprehensive single digital resource for free Kannada books” and address “the fear of loosing the rich print heritage of Kannada to time.”

Tejas Jain “This is a bold step[...]and will act as motivation for other Kannada writers to release more content under CC-BY-SA 4.0″

“Tejas Jain” by Visdaviva , under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Omshivaprakash was surprised to realize that there is no article on such a prominent Kannada writer like Niranjana on English Wikipedia.This led to a Facebook discussion, and User Tito Dutta responded swiftly, but needed help with verifiable resources. Omshivaprakash chipped in with resources and a page on Niranjana (needs your Wiki Love) has now been started on English Wikipedia. While this is not a big achievement, it is a simple example of how the (Indian) English Wikipedians could collaborate with Indic Wikimedians in creating India focused content on English Wikipeida and how social media could be used for off-wiki collaboration by Wikimedians. Incidentally Tito and Omshivaprakash became friends on FB during the WMF’s India Community Consultation 2014 which was held recently in Bangalore.

T. Vishnu Vardhan, Program Director, CIS-A2K

by wikimediablog at November 12, 2014 02:20 AM

November 11, 2014

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: October 2014

by Admin at November 11, 2014 11:37 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Excelling students in Be’er Sheva write articles about their city in the Hebrew Wikipedia

For the first time, Wikimedia Israel (WMIL), the education department of the Municipality of Be’er Sheva (the 7th largest city in Israel), and the Ministry of Education have joined forces to establish the innovative Wikipedia in Education project.

“Meeting with the mayor of Be’er Sheva – September 2014 (5)” by Chenspec-WMIL, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

During the past school year, approximately 350 students from ten 9th grade classes for excelling students learned how to write Wikipedia articles focused on geographical, historical and cultural subjects related to the city of Be’er Sheva, a well as articles on leading public figures in the city’s history. The lectures, editing workshops, and tutoring sessions were conducted in the framework of the student’s Hebrew language studies.

Students were divided into groups where they learned how to collect and research credible sources, and acquired academic writing skills. Students toured significant sites in the city, collected research material, and were guided by the chapter’s volunteers and their teachers, who were also tutored in these subjects. Students received lectures and editing workshops by ten volunteers of the Wikipedia community, who came from across the country to support and assist them in this unique project. Thirty new articles were moved to Wikipedia mainspace!

During the month of September, with the conclusion of the first year of the project, the Mayor of Be’er Sheva invited the WMIL volunteers, as well as representatives of both teachers and students to his office in order to thank them and show his appreciation for the project. The Mayor congratulated both students and volunteers, saying that the project constitutes “a perfect example skills utilized and in-depth learning that comes from fascinating subject matters”. The Mayor added that the city of Be’er Sheva was “proud of this project”.

WMIL sees the Wikipedia in Education project as paramount, as well as the recognition it receives from the educational community. We are happy that the students learned and experienced working with Wikipedia, and witnessed the great contribution it can make to their academic career, as well the contribution they can make to Wikipedia in turn. Added to their acquired experience in writing, both students and teachers got to know and experience an important pedagogical tool, and gained skills in the educated use of knowledge.

Together with Be’er Sheva Municipality, we hope to continue to implement the project in the next school year, and to see it established in other parts of the world. For that end, we are happy to share some of our conclusions and work procedures.

Project overview

The project began with a meeting of a steering committee convened by the Be’er Sheva Municipality to green-light the project, and create lesson plans in accordance with material taught in the 9th grade classes participating in the project.

  1. Teachers of the participating classes received a lecture and an editing workshop. An introductory lecture on Wikipedia was held in each of the participating classes.
  2. A project portal was created in the Hebrew Wikipedia.
  3. A list of missing articles was compiled and approved by the community members leading the project.
  4. 12 editing workshops were held for students, facilitated by additional Wikipedians and chapter volunteers. These articles were written as drafts and the students, divided into groups, worked on them together.
  5. The volunteers leading the projects held follow-up meetings with students, according to need.
  6. The drafts were moved into mainspace by the volunteers leading the project.

Main lessons learned

  1. Adjusting lesson plans to current material was crucial: editing in Wikipedia did not come across as just another school chore, and the concurring syllabus made the work easier and more fruitful for both teachers and students.
  2. The teachers in our projects underwent a four-hour lecture on Wikipedia and a short editing workshop. We believe that prepping teachers prior to their work with the students should be more thorough. They are crucial to the project’s success, and it is important that their knowledge of Wikipedia goes beyond the scope of the average user (talk pages, view history, categories, etc.). In our opinion, it is not necessary that teachers learn to edit or write articles.
  3. It is vital to create a schedule and adhere to it. We have not always been on schedule this last year, and consequently have failed to reach our goal of 40 articles. It is important to create a viable schedule for all parties involved – students, teachers and volunteers.
  4. Students’ enthusiasm is vital! Students must feel that they contribute to the expansion of knowledge by writing articles, and that many people will eventually read the content they have created. It is vital that this sentiment is enhanced during the project.
  5. During the project, we asked the teachers to locate students with the potential and will to continue editing in Wikipedia in the future. Some students were identified, and we maintain contact with them. It is preferable that in future, a volunteer is assigned to follow-up and encourage exceptional students.
  6. WMIL plans to hold a gathering of both the students who continued to edit after the workshop, and community volunteers.
  7. Two volunteers led and managed the project, and this proved to be counterproductive. The amount of work to be done during the project is substantial – coordinating with the different schools, editing articles, facilitating the workshops, participating in school activities, moving articles to mainspace, and more. Before projects of the kind are implemented in the future, it is recommended to consider the number of volunteers or staff members needed to lead and facilitate the project. This is a long, complex project, requiring long-term commitment.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Danny Wax and Nimrod Rapaport, who led the project, assisted and supported the students and teachers in all matters, and of course, all our WMIL dedicated volunteers.

Michal Lester - Executive Director Wikimedia Israel

by wikimediablog at November 11, 2014 06:57 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Annette Polly Williams

As the longest-serving woman in Wisconsin's Legislature, Mrs Williams deserves to be recognised. In her honour, 1752 members of that legislature will be recognised as such and, they will be known as politicians.

Mrs Williams was an advocate of education for all kids. It is one of the things a Wikipedia articles is good for. It is not obvious how to indicate this in Wikidata.

It is a bit strange to find that many American politicians do not have a picture to illustrate their articles. Given the absurd amounts of money involved, providing a few pictures of politicians would be a cheap gesture that would be appreciated.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 11, 2014 06:55 AM

November 10, 2014

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia supports the Lyon Declaration and Access to Knowledge

“WikiReaders at Sinenjongo” by Pamrob3, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Wikimedia Foundation is proud to join the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development which calls for United Nations member states to provide all people the ability to access and share knowledge. After all, this speaks to the ambition of the Wikimedia movement: sharing the sum of all human knowledge to all people around the world.

Wikipedia provides a vast wealth of free knowledge to the world—more than 33 million articles in more than 280 languages—and allows anyone to contribute to or improve this collection. But as a movement that exists largely online, achieving our mission depends on people’s connection to communications infrastructure that is unfortunately not equally available to all.

Our support for the Lyon Declaration is part of our efforts to make Wikipedia available across the digital divide, including several community initiatives to provide offline access to Wikipedia. Starting in 2004, a group of English Wikipedia contributors began curating a collection of the best Wikipedia articles for distribution on CD or DVD, for places where access to the internet is limited or unavailable. Today, the Kiwix project makes it easier to download a compressed version of Wikipedia, enabling distribution through One Laptop Per Child, SOS Children’s Villages, and other programs supporting the use of inexpensive Wikipedia reader devices.

Even when an internet connection is available, it may not be affordable. In many parts of the world mobile phones are more common than desktop computers, but the cost of mobile data can be prohibitively high. To help ensure that those phones can be used to access and participate in knowledge creation we started Wikipedia Zero, offering mobile access to Wikipedia free of charge through commitments from mobile service providers in developing countries. Today, Wikipedia Zero helps extend access to information to more than 400 million users who may otherwise be unable to afford it. It is part of the broader access to knowledge movement to reduce barriers to knowledge, including poverty and limited internet connectivity[1].

We hope that the Lyon Declaration will further advance this movement across the globe. The Declaration urges nations to adopt a development agenda to address the inequality in access to information. This is a monumental challenge, and as the Declaration rightly asserts, it will require cooperation among a community of nations, civil society organizations, and private sector groups. We are happy to be among those groups, along with Wikimedia UK, Wikimedia Italy, and hundreds of other like-minded organizations that share a vision of increased access to knowledge. As part of this community that is working to spread free knowledge, we hope to see a global commitment to provide everyone the opportunity to connect to the internet and share.

Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel
Yana Welinder, Legal Counsel

  1. We discussed this work with Yale ISP fellow BJ Ard in a talk at Wikimania 2014 in London.

by maherwiki at November 10, 2014 09:15 PM

Alex Druk

Not all years were created equal

I was wondering how different historical periods are represented in Wikipedia.
Hence, I pulled out Wikipedia pages each dedicated to a certain year from 0 AD to 1800 and counted number of different events that took place during each of the years. Results are shown below.

History events by year

The increasing number of known events was expected. But growth was not linear. You can observe significant relative drop in events (below trendline) from the VIII to the XI or the XV centuries, which correspond to the period that was originally coined as “dark ages”.

To normalize the data I calculated moving averages for each 5-year period and looked at the deviation from theses averages. On next graph you can see the results. To make the graph more readable I included only years with number of events that exceed the corresponding average at least twice or were at least 60% below such average.


Year 1752 stands out because many famous people were born that year. 1118 was full of events around the world: from Japan and China to Scandinavia; and a lot of famous persons died that year. But most of these extremes are difficult to explain.

Please notice amazingly long period of stable event flow from 1246 until 1613.

I speculated that it would be easier to find explanation such irregularities in more recent history and made a graph for the 20th century (below). Surprisingly, I could not find explanation for the irregularities in modern history also. I can explain the 30% pick in 1914, when the WWI began, but certainly cannot justify a drop in notable events next year, in 1915, nor understand why 1974 was so “uneventful”.


From general point of view all years should have equal or at least almost equal number of events. But they are certainly not. Is this just a probability game or are some unknown (to me) factors at play?

by Alex Druk at November 10, 2014 03:51 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #46, 2014 (November 10, 2014)

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November 10, 2014 12:00 AM

November 08, 2014

Tony Thomas

MediaWiki PHP unit tests : Reading contents from a file ( @dataProvider )

While writing php unit tests for the BounceHandler extension, I came across a scenario in which I had to read contents from a text file and feed that to the test function as a variable. With the dataProvider functions it was solved simple. Problem: * function testProcessTextfile( $foo ) function requires $foo to be read […]

by tonythomas01 at November 08, 2014 06:28 AM

Joseph Reagle

Gratitude as socialization

In Online Communities we recently spent a class focused on designing for gratitude. The task for the day was to "Give at least one Wikipedian who is not associated with our class some Wikilove. (Of course, you can also share as much Wikilove as you wish, in or out of class.)" The students had some interesting feedback about the exercise.

  1. Some wished there was a way to thank all the contributors to an article. I imagine this would be difficult given the often large number of contributors and varied levels of contribution. (I wondered if it was possible to do so for a WikiProject but apparently it is not.)
  2. I was surprised that a couple students expressed hesitancy about the task because they didn't feel Wikipedian enough to be assessing others' contributions and expressing gratitude. Hence, even though they found the kittens less meaningful, they were more comfortable sending kittens because it seemed like a lower bar than sending a barnstar.

Nathan Mattias, our guest speaker, noted that other communities do have norms in which first finding and expressing gratitude was an important part of the socialization process. In his post on the story sharing site Cowbird he wrote:

Jonathan protects the Cowbird aesthetic from early adopters through an invitation-only registration system and an onboarding process. New users are encouraged to view example stories, "love" 20 current stories, and join some sagas before posting their own story.---Can we create Solitude on the Web? Jonathan Harris on Cowbird

Because of this, I'm going to be retaining the exercise and recommend it be considered for the template syllabus of other classes; I imagine it furthers socialization, identification, and commitment---even if seeming presumptuous to the students at first.

by Joseph Reagle at November 08, 2014 05:00 AM

Anti-harassment help

At Northeastern this week we had a GamerGate town hall meeting and I thought it'd be useful to share some resources as a follow-up. (For those that want to read up on the particulars, I recommend the articles at RationalWiki and The Washington Post. If you really want details, Wikipedia is exhaustive.)

First, for those who would like to help in efforts at combating sexism and harassment I recommend the Resources for allies article on the GeekFeminism wiki. At the organizational level, I recommend anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct.

For those facing harassment, I am sorry that there are no simple answers. In Reading the Comments (due April 2015) I argue the old axiom that "don't feed the trolls" is no longer sufficient. In my discussion of haters and Sarkeesian's experiences I write:

Unfortunately, hate and harassment are a part of online comment for which there is no easy solution. Yet her [Sarkeesian's] example does indicate that for those that are brave enough, there is an option between "feeding"and "ignoring" the trolls and haters: supporting their victims. I am not suggesting that the target of abuse should engage with the trolls or become a lone vigilante. Nor would I advocate for a bully-battle. What I am hopeful for is that we all be more willing to declare that such behavior is odious and unwelcome and we support targets of abuse---be it emotionally, financially, or legally.

More practically, Ashe Dryden's post on how to deal with and help those facing online harassment is excellent. Also, at a larger social level---and if one's needs to invoke legal help---I recommend Danielle Keats Citron's recent book "Hate Crimes in Cyberspace." For students at university, I also recommend they reach out to supportive faculty and student organizations.

by Joseph Reagle at November 08, 2014 05:00 AM

November 07, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Cleaning up file metadata, for humans and robots

A short while after Wikipedia was created in 2001, contributors started to upload pictures to the site to illustrate articles. Over the years, Wikimedians have accumulated over 22 million files on Wikimedia Commons, the central media repository that all Wikimedia sites can pull from. In addition, nearly 2.5 million other files are spread out across hundreds of individual wikis.

MediaWiki, the software platform used for Wikimedia sites, wasn’t originally designed for multimedia content. We’ve made good progress with better upload tools, for example, but the underlying system still very much focuses on text.

On MediaWiki, each file has a file description page that contains all the information (“metadata”) related to the picture: what it depicts, who the author is, what rights and limitations are associated with it, etc. Many wikis have developed templates (reusable bits of wikicode) to organize such file metadata, but a lot of information is still unstructured in plain wikitext.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently launched an initiative to develop a new underlying system for file metadata using the same technology powering Wikidata. This project is still in the early stages, and even when it becomes available, it will take a long time to migrate the existing metadata to structured data.

The goal of the File metadata cleanup drive is to make the migration process for those 24+ million files less tedious, by making sure that robots can process most of the files automatically.

MrMetadata is a dashboard tracking, for each wiki, the proportion of files whose metadata is readable by robots, and listing those that need fixing.

The goal of the File metadata cleanup drive is to make the migration process for those 24+ million files less tedious, by making sure that robots can process most of the files automatically.

Machine-readable data also makes it easier to reuse Wikimedia content consistently with best practices for attribution. Examples of tools that use existing machine-readable data include the stockphoto gadget on Commons, WikiWand and Media Viewer. The PDF generator and offline readers like Kiwix are other tools that will benefit from this effort.

Evolution of the file description page

The upcoming Structured data project aims to build a system where you edit the metadata using a form, you view it in a nice format, and robots can understand the content and links between items.

With structured data, robots will know exactly what field refers to what kind of information. This will make it easier for humans to search and edit metadata.

With Structured data, robots will know exactly what field refers to what kind of information. This will make it easier for humans to search and edit metadata.

Many files on Wikimedia Commons aren’t actually very far from that model. Many files have an “Information template”, a way to organize the different parts of the metadata on the page. Information templates were originally created to display metadata in a consistent manner across files, but they also make it possible to make the information easier to read for robots.

This is achieved by adding machine-readable markers to the HTML code of the templates. Those markers say things like “this bit of text is the description”, and “this bit of text is the author”, etc. and robots can pick these up to understand what humans have written.

This situation is ideal for the migration, because it tells robots exactly how to handle the bits of metadata and which field they belong to.

Current information and license templates can be read by machines if they contain special markers. Robots will be able to migrate many files to structured data automatically if they use those templates.

Current information and license templates can be read by machines if they contain special markers. Robots will be able to migrate many files to structured data automatically if they use those templates.

If the machine-readable markers aren’t present, the robots need to guess which field corresponds to which type of content. This makes it more difficult to read the metadata, and their parsing of the text is less accurate. The good news is that by just adding a few markers to the templates, all the files that use the template will automatically become readable for robots.

If a file contains information and license templates, but they don't have the special markers, it's difficult for robots to migrate it. Fortunately, it's easy to add the special markers.

If a file contains information and license templates, but they don’t have the special markers, it’s difficult for robots to migrate it. Fortunately, it’s easy to add the special markers.

Things become fuzzier for robots when the information isn’t organized with templates. In this case, robots just see a blob of text and have no idea what the metadata is saying. This means that the migration has to be made entirely by human hands.

If the file's metadata only contains wikitext, we need to organize the content by adding an information and a license template manually. Those templates need to contain the special markers.

If the file’s metadata only contains wikitext, we need to organize the content by adding an information and a license template manually. Those templates need to contain the special markers.

Fixing files and templates

Many files across wikis are in one of the latter states that aren’t readable by robots, and about 700,000 files on Commons are missing an information template as well. In order to fix them so they can be easily migrated in the future requires, we need an inventory of files missing machine-readable metadata.

That’s where MrMetadata comes into play. MrMetadata (a wordplay on Machine-Readable Metadata) is a dashboard tracking, for each wiki, the proportion of files that are readable by robots. It also provides an exhaustive list of the “bad” files, so we know which ones to fix.

Each wiki storing images has a dedicated dashboard showing the proportion of files with machine-readable metadata, and providing a list of the files to fix.

Each wiki storing images has a dedicated dashboard showing the proportion of files with machine-readable metadata, and providing a list of the files to fix.

Once the files have been identified, a multilingual how-to explains how to fix the files and the templates. Fixing template is easy: you just add a few machine-readable markers, and you’re done. For example, the English Wikivoyage went from 9% to 70% in just a few weeks. Fixing individual files requires more manual work, but there are tools that make this less tedious.

Get involved

The multilingual how-to provides a step-by-step guide to fixing files and templates. It's currently available in more than a dozen languages.

The multilingual how-to provides a step-by-step guide to fixing files and templates. It’s currently available in more than a dozen languages.

If you’d like to help with this effort, you can look for your wiki on MrMetadata, bookmark the link, and start going through the list. By looking at the files, you’ll be able to determine if if has a template (where you can add markers) or if you need to add the template as well.

If you add markers to the templates, wait a couple of days for MrMetadata to update, so you can see the remaining files missing machine-readable information. The multilingual how-to provides a step-by-step guide to fixing files and templates.

Adding special markers to the templates can improve metadata readability very quickly. The English Wikivoyage went from 9% to 70% of "good" files in just a few weeks.

Adding special markers to the templates can improve metadata readability very quickly. The English Wikivoyage went from 9% to 70% of “good” files in just a few weeks.

The Wikimedia Foundation is starting this cleanup effort, and you’re encouraged to help on Commons and on your wiki. Ultimately, the decisions in the transition to machine-readable templates will be up to you.

I’m going to be available as a resource for volunteers who need support. If you have questions or encounter odd edge cases, you can contact me on IRC (I’m guillom in the #wikimedia channel on freenode), on the cleanup drive’s talk page, on the tech ambassadors mailing list, or via EmailUser.

Starting next week, I’ll also be holding “Cleanup Wednesdays”, with several IRC support sessions during the day to rotate across time zones. The first sessions (listed at IRC office hours) will be happening on Wednesday, November 12 at 18:00 (UTC), and a few hours later on Thursday, November 13 at 04:00 (UTC).

I’m hoping that you’ll join this effort to organize file metadata and make it more readable for robots, in order to make the future transition to structured data as painless as possible for humans.

Guillaume Paumier, Wikimedia Foundation

by Guillaume Paumier at November 07, 2014 11:49 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

User testing the Assignment Design Wizard

These last couple of months, I’ve been busily working with Seattle design firm WINTR to build the Assignment Design Wizard, a tool to help instructors create great Wikipedia assignments. The beta version of the wizard is now up and running at wizard.wikiedu.org, and my focus has turned to user testing in preparation for the official 1.0 release later this month.

The beta version of the Assignment Design Wizard, as of 2014-11-07.

The beta version of the Assignment Design Wizard, as of 2014-11-07.

What is user testing?

As the product manager for Wiki Education Foundation’s digital services, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how software can help us through our biggest challenges. I’ve talked with many instructors, students, and veteran Wikipedia editors to find out what the pain points are when it comes to Wikipedia assignments. For the Assignment Design Wizard, I’ve spent a lot of time with the talented designers at WINTR coming up with solutions for some of them. But I’ve also been immersed in these problems and the solutions we’ve been building. I know what this wizard is for, and I know how it’s supposed to be used. I can’t see it with the eyes of someone encountering it for the first time. I can’t discard all of my assumptions that got built into the wizard. That’s where user testing comes in.

The essence of user testing is just to let people try the software out and see what happens. It seems simple enough, but it’s an incredibly important part of the development process. When you watch someone try to use a piece of software for the first time, shortcomings and usability problems become painfully obvious. You may get to see them struggle with the basics. Where do I click? What am I supposed to do now? Why did it just do that? What did I do wrong? What is this thing for? Especially the first few times you do live user testing for a new piece of software, you often come away knowing exactly what you need to fix. Things you had never thought of suddenly become obvious and important.

Early results

The first user test, with a Canadian professor preparing for her first Wikipedia classroom assignment, revealed some major work that needed to be done. In particular, it was clear that the wizard wasn’t doing enough to explain what it was for and how it should be used. Now, the entry point to the wizard explains that while this tool is built around Wiki Ed’s best practices, the assignment plan you publish with it is meant as a starting point for further customization, not a rigid template.

That user test also showed that the explanation of “Did You Know” (DYK)– with the opportunity to include DYK as an ungraded option for your class — was pretty confusing. One of the ways we want to support classes is by providing hands-on help and advice with the DYK process, so that the students doing great work don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase their articles on Wikipedia’s Main Page. Now the wizard’s DYK section explicitly covers the support Wiki Ed can provide to students interested in DYK.

Improvements to the wizard’s output– which I’ve just finished implementing today — also came directly out of my observations from user testing. The assignment plans generated by wizard are intended to be attractive and easy to read, but also easy to edit– even for someone new to wiki markup. But as the early tests showed, it wasn’t quite easy enough. Is the latest version is up to the task? The answer to that will have to await more user feedback.

On the whole, the user tests so far are showing what we hoped: the Assignment Design Wizard will be a beautiful, easy-to-use tool that will help dive right into planning their first Wikipedia assignments.

Want to try it out?

In this beta stage, it’s especially important to hear from as many people as possible. Want to give the wizard a try? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Put yourself into the mindset of a college professor — a reader of Wikipedia but not necessarily an experienced editor– who is interested in running their first Wikipedia classroom assignment. (If that’s really you, all the better!)
  2. Starting from the end of the training for educators, go through the assignment design wizard, and think through each step from the professor’s perspective. Take notes about any interface problems you encounter along the way.
  3. At the end, look through the assignment plan that gets posted to your userspace, and try editing it to customize your assignment plan even further.
  4. Let me know what you thought about the wizard, and any suggestions you have for making it better: sage@wikiedu.org

by Sage Ross at November 07, 2014 11:30 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Creative writing using Wikipedia: Suzanne Fox

Suzanne Fox
(“Suzanne Fox” by Suzanne Fox, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

After working on Wall Street for more than a decade, Suzanne Fox decided it was time to follow her calling in creative writing. She left behind writing marketing materials to embark on writing fictional novels. Fox set her mind on writing a literary novel set in 1850s Great Britain, but found it challenging to write prolifically about an era she has never known. That’s when she turned to Wikipedia for inspiration, and found that she could relive some of the past she was looking for.

For Fox, who is now 59 years old, the process of writing a novel begins with an abstract idea of a scene she wants to describe. Then the details of the scene are filled in with descriptions from Wikipedia articles she has read. Fox defines this process as “taking ownership of that place and turning it back into an imaginary place.”

“[Wikipedia] is my go-to starting place for the information that I need for that scene,” says Fox, who now lives in Vero Beach, Florida. “I can also make use of the external links, which is a really helpful thing for me.”

Each of Fox’s characters (depending on the era they are set in) are researched carefully on aspects as simple as how they are going from one place to the other. For instance, she looks up details on carriages that could have assisted transportation during the Victorian era.

“As a writer who wants to write something that feels authentic, and to live inside a character’s head, you’re inevitably living inside not only their head, but their corset, their clothing, you know, their hat, their carriage, their house,” says Fox.

In an attempt to be as historically accurate as possible, Fox has researched the dates of events related to her characters on Wikipedia. Once she was writing about the 1850s and had to reconsider introducing the crinoline petticoat because it was invented after when her book took place.

Growing up in New Jersey and later moving to Manhattan, Fox has always found herself in “a place [with] research opportunities galore.” After graduating with an art history degree from Douglass College, Fox started working for a firm as a marketing writer.

“But at a certain point I realized that this was not really, you know, my soul and I started doing my own writing. I started out writing poetry of all things.” says Fox.

She left her position and pursued a masters degree in poetry at Columbia University. There were three compelling reasons she was drawn to poetry:

“The good thing about poetry not having money attached to it for the most part [is] that there’s no real reason not to be authentic… I think poetry is about a delight in language and kind of about the selection of language and the beauty of the English language. So for that reason also, it was deeply nurturing to me.”

But Fox says she surprised herself by working on a memoir rather than poetry after graduation. After completing her masters, she began to work on her first book, “Home Life: A Journey of Rooms and Recollections” which was published in 1997 and had been inspired by the many houses she had been living in.

As a writer, Fox has found herself acquainted with various time periods that prompt her to read about on Wikipedia. For instance, when she was editing and contributing to a novel about 17th century Ireland, she found herself imagining scenes and reading Wikipedia articles to flesh out the details.

“I think it’s the history, I think it’s the fence of uniqueness in each one that the way people live in places and decorate places, the kind of art form of it, it’s formed the core of all of my writing,” says Fox.

Researching artifacts and events that are no longer contemporary seem easier with Wikipedia now, but Fox says she remembers a time when researching the past wasn’t so easy. She cites “the lack of ability to cite quick facts,” as challenging to her research before Wikipedia.

“With Wikipedia I think, you get the best of both worlds,” Fox explains. On one hand, she appreciates the immediacy of being able to find articles that are easy to comprehend. On the other hand she enjoys bookmarking articles that she wants to refer to later. Her latest reads include: looking up bloomers, reading about John Thompson, Augustus Egg and many other historical figures.

Fox has felt inclined to support Wikipedia financially and makes regular donations to Wikimedia.

“I feel more connected to Wikipedia, thinking of myself as somebody who is a contributor to it,” says Fox. “And there’s a value in that, a reminder that I have power to support something.”

“What spoke to me [was] this incredible resource that I’m benefiting from and it takes money to do this even when it’s something that people are contributing to for free,” says Fox. “[Having] Wikipedia is like having the best reference librarian in the world.”

Profile by Yoona Ha, Communications Intern
Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

2014-11-07: Edited to correct the place of upbringing and the description of “Home Life”

by wikimediablog at November 07, 2014 06:13 PM

Priyanka Nag

Building an army around my blog

I am a blogger...someone who likes to share her views and expressions with others by simply putting them in words. But whats a blogger without his (or her) followers and readers? (Well, here I am not talking about those bloggers who maintain private blogs). Followers, readers, criticisms, appreciations...thats what a blogger's world consists of. 

Posting a blog only gives partial satisfaction. When my posts receive comments (positive or negative), thats where the other half of the satisfaction comes from. 

After posting a blog, I have often received emails or facebook messages from readers, wanting to discuss more on the topic. Its probably then that I realized, how important it is, at times, to have a communication platform right on the blog, where the readers and critics could immediately start a conversation about something they like or dislike about the post.

Adding the Scrollback widget to my blogpost was not out of any obligation or commitment towards my job. It was a very selfish decision from my end to be able to communicate better with my readers.

Photo credit : Rahul Kondi

It was after adding the Scrollback widget that my army around my blog got stronger. People started reaching out to me on my Scrollback room, asking me more about why I wrote something, why I felt a certain way (referring to some writing) and sometimes also talking about how they shared similar feelings. All those readers of mine, who would like to talk to me, but wouldn't want to find me on facebook or write a long email, now found a much better way to reach out to me, instantly. I could also reply to them, almost instantly. 

Ofcourse not everyone likes what I write. I even had messages from the 'anonymous' readers, saying how I am doing it all wrong and how I need to think better. Well, even those messages have been helpful....helping see the other side of the coin. I am not a great writer, but I appreciate the criticisms received, which often help me improve.

P.S - If you go through my Scrollback room's chat log, you won't find much content there. Most of the time, when I have a very intense discussion with someone on any topic, I prefer to remove the logs after the conversations so that others don't need to suffer from the impact of those conversations.

by priyanka nag (noreply@blogger.com) at November 07, 2014 01:13 PM

November 06, 2014

Wikimedia UK

Response to the new IPO orphan works licensing scheme

The photo shows an empty display case in a museum

Orphan works rules result in empty display cases

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office last week announced the launch of a new orphan works licensing scheme.

This allows individuals and institutions wishing to use a work of intellectual property where the rights holder cannot be identified to apply for a licence from the IPO. Licences are awarded where the IPO is satisfied that the applicant conducted a “diligent” search for the rights holder, and they have paid a licensing and administration fee.

This scheme brings forward little that is new. The rule allowing re-use after diligent search has been part of copyright law in the UK for many years. The primary purpose of the new licences seems to be to provide greater certainty to re-users that the searches they have undertaken are sufficiently extensive to guarantee legal protection should the copyright owner come forward.

Searches have to be exceptionally comprehensive before the Intellectual Property Office will certify them as ‘diligent’ and although there are new guidelines which will provide greater clarity for cultural institutions, the imposition of an official fee is concerning.

Even with this new scheme in place orphan works can still not be easily used by the Wikimedia projects and the volunteers who write and curate them.

A real solution to the orphan works problem must await a more radical approach that goes beyond both this and the existing EU Orphan Works Directive.

We believe that this should be addressed as part of a more far-reaching review of copyright as a whole, at a national and European level. For example, a simple reduction in copyright terms would instantly make many works which are currently orphaned available for reuse.

You can see the recent Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU position paper on copyright reform – of which we are a signatory – here.

by Stevie Benton at November 06, 2014 02:55 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - Now in #Maithili

It is a happy occasion when a new Wikipedia is created. Today we may welcome the Maithili Wikipedia. The website has been created and all the content that is currently still in the Incubator needs to be migrated.

I wish the Maithili community well; I hope they will share with us in the sum of all available knowledge.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 06, 2014 07:22 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

50 hours of art in Wikipedia: the Museo Soumaya editathon

Wikipedians arriving with luggage to the museum.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto 17″ by ProtoplasmaKid under CC-BY-SA-4.0

File:Mensaje de Lila Tretikov sobre el editatón de 50 horas en el Museo Soumaya de la Ciudad de México.webm

Opening message by Lila Tretikov, executive director of the WMF.

Héctor Palhares curator; Laura Huerta, curator an Alfonso Miranda, head of the museum.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto 19″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Wikipedians received also guided tours to help their editions.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia dos – 6″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Museum staff actively supported throughout the event.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia dos – 4″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Tracking the 50 hours continuous editions.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia tres – 6″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Liam Wyatt, long time GLAMer, giving a talk about cultural partnering history in Wikimedia movement.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia tres – 5″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

All the talks in English were translated to Spanish.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia dos – 21″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Alfonso Miranda, head of the museum, giving a guided tour through the exhibition about Sophia Loren’s 80th birthday.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia tres – 5″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Talk about Wikimedia and internet in Mexican cultural sector.
”Segundo Editatón Soumaya Abierto – Dia tres – 46″ by ProtoplasmaKid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

We had the rare chance to visit a museum overnight, as Wikipedians, guided by experts. We definitely never thought we would eat and sleep inside the museum for over two days! This opportunity materialized during the last weekend in September, at Mexico City’s Soumaya Museum in Plaza Carso. The editathon, Soumaya Abierto, 50 horas de arte (“Open Soumaya, 50 hours of Art”), was a 50-hour marathon of continuous Wikipedia editing in several languages, lasting from September 26 -28th. It was longest continuous editathon ever recorded in the movement, with 64 new articles created in several languages, and over 1,100 total edits to the Wikimedia projects were made.

The museum is host to a private collection of over 66,000 pieces, spanning six centuries of art from Mexico and around the world. It’s the only museum in Mexico City open 365 days a year, (from 10am-7pm) and it is free of charge. For this editathon, the museum kept its doors open for Wikipedians and the general public throughout the 50 hours. During the weekend, the museum was attended by 10,342 visitors. Several activities happened during these days, including conferences, guided tours, plays and a special program for us Wikipedians. We also offered intensive workshops for beginners about basic Wikipedia editing. We were honored to share this time with the people working at the museum: the director, curators, researchers and tour guides who stood beside us in the titanic effort of working 50 hours straight, writing and sharing in a unique cultural experience, both in Mexico and the Wikimedia movement.

The editathon required two months of intensive logistical planning between the museum’s staff and the local Wikipedian-in-Residence, Iván Martínez. There were five pre-event workshops and two talks about Wikipedia and its collaborations with cultural institutions. It’s worth noting that these talks were given to staff members who weren’t directly involved with content creation during the event itself.

Friday, September 26th

On Friday afternoon, Wikipedians began arriving at the museum with suitcases, tents, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets. They were ready to start editing! The event started at 6pm with a guided tour of all the halls and permanent collections by Héctor Palhares Meza, curator of the museum.

Shortly before 8pm we had everything ready to go: books, computers, power, internet, coffee, snacks and the excitement we had been storing up since the event was first announced.

The formal inauguration began with a brief speech by Alfonso Miranda Márquez, Director of Museo Soumaya, followed by Iván Martínez, who is also the President of the Wikimedia Mexico (WMMX) chapter. The event unveiled the new design of the museum’s website and we screened a recorded message by Lila Tretikov, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

We are so proud to partner with institutions like Museo Soumaya as part of our ongoing relationships with the world’s leading galleries, libraries,archives, and museums [...]. I want to thank the organizers of this event, the incredible team at Wikimedia Mexico. You inspire me with your creativity and commitment. Lila Tretikov, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

At exactly 8pm, Alfonso Miranda marked the official start of the editathon among thunderous applause. We had a long stretch of work ahead of us.

The initial list had approximately 50 new articles and a few more marked for improvements. The museum’s staff had active participation with us during the whole event; researchers, curators, restorers, museographers, tour guides and the museum director himself were with us to teach us, assist us with polishing the text, find reputable sources and even showing us the history, details, and influences of several artists and pieces.

We kept a tally of major edits in a whiteboard. Eight expert WMMX editors kept up with whiteboard duty, and also served as Wikipedia consultants/ teachers to the assistants.

We had hot food and drinks provided to us during the 50 hours, including snacks so we could edit without worrying or stopping. The museum went above and beyond, and offered an additional program for the Wikipedians, including a play, dramatized tours and a special visit to a TV studio (UnoTV), while a team stayed editing the whole time.

Saturday, September 27th

Just after midnight, the Wikipedians who signed up to write about impressionist artists and paintings met for a specialized tour about Impressionism, Monet and Degas. In this tour we learned about the artists and their lives, dates and cultural contexts. On our way down, the guides stayed with us to help us with specific questions and recommended several books to get information from, before helping us with the edits themselves.

Around 2am, we started our sleeping rotation so that there would always be a team editing while the rest slept, bathed, and ate. The tally was updated every hour. The museum staff wore badges in which they specified their areas of expertise in particular artists or artistic movements.

We were seated in six tables roughly grouped by theme, but we were constantly moving, not only to help each other in editing, but to interact, to create new friendships and renew old ones.

The first night shift consisted of four Wikipedians, who kept on editing throughout the night until the next shift slept, bathed and had breakfast. At 8am the smell of hot coffee woke us up and signaled the night shift to go and get some rest.

At 10am we started the first of six workshops we would conduct during the event. We paused the workshop briefly to assist with the videoconference, “Collaboration between Wikimedia and Cultural Institutions” by Jonathan Cardy, GLAM Organizer at Wikimedia UK. Unfortunately, there were several connectivity issues that made simultaneous translation impossible.

The next workshop was given by Herminia Din, from the American Alliance of Museums, about museums and online learning. The Anchorage University academic showed us how the Alliance is developing platforms for online learning with museums and education institutions in the United States. Then came Liam Wyatt, coordinator of cultural alliances at Europeana, who spoke about the history of the collaborations within the GLAM movement.

The guided tours, edits and photographs came one after another: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Camille Claudel, Landecio, José María Velasco, Tintoretto, El Greco, Rubens, Mannerism, Expressionism, Baroque — it all went in through our eyes, out through our fingers, on to our keyboards and then to Wikipedia.

Late at night, the Museum Director, Alfonso Miranda Márquez, guided us on a tour to the temporary exhibition “Sophia Loren México. Ayer, hoy y mañana” (“Sophia Loren in Mexico. Yesterday, today and tomorrow”), finishing off our Saturday with a very pleasant experience learning about the life and work of the diva.

Sunday 28th

In the afternoon, there was a talk about the conservation efforts made by the museum, by Sergio Sandoval Arias and Pilar Leñero Llaca. One of the members of WMMX’s board, Alan Lazalde, also gave a talk about Open Culture and Hacker Culture. Then came Agustín Peña, of the radio station Ibero 90.9; Jorge Martínez Micher, Mexico City Secretary of Culture, and Alfonso Miranda sharing their experiences on internet, digital resources and their own activities in the cultural sector of Mexico.

For Alfonso Mirando, the editathon is “…an effort in joint efforts, cross-discipline teams and, above all, vehement work on building open knowledge. (…) knowledge that is shared in a transparent way, without protagonists, without the idea of, I’m the one who creates [knowledge] and I protect it as mine.”

Even though we were all tired, we never faltered and were ready for the final hours. The teams were alternating between brief visits to the museum and editing. The last part of the editathon was held up mostly by the research and curator staff of the museum, who helped us with fact-checking and style corrections. At 10:01pm everyone present began the countdown, New-Year style, marking the end of the challenge. The museum recognized the most prolific editors with a few gifts and we celebrated with a closing cocktail party.

The interest from galleries, archives, libraries, museums and cultural spaces in Wikimedia projects has increased in these last few years, thanks to the work of the volunteers of the Mexican chapter. Museo Soumaya, part of the Carlos Slim Foundation, has decided to work in alliance with Wikimedia Mexico, and to become a museum that embraces Wikipedia as one of its most important projects. We extend a formal invitation to all Mexican cultural institutions to join us in collaborations with the Wikimedia projects.

Elements of success

  • Surpassing 50 hours of continuous editing. This requires precise control of the edits per hour and preplanning content between Wikipedians and the museum staff.
  • Supportive museum staff during each hour of the event for answering questions.
  • The museum was open to the public for 50 continuous hours. This is not common in Mexico City.
  • Dedicated Wikipedian-in-Residence, first in Mexico and second in Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Pre-event trainings attended by all the staff, not only those who edited during the event.
  • Having a list of articles to create in advance, curated by both Wikipedian-in-residence and staff
  • Compiled resources at a temporary library near to the main area of edition.

Salvador Alcántar, Carmen Alcázar, Iván Martínez

Translation by Andrés Cruz y Corro

Wikimedia Mexico

by wikimediablog at November 06, 2014 02:22 AM

November 05, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Commons - Adolphe Berty

Mr Berty was a French author, antiquarian and archeologist. There is no Wikimedia article about him, there is no Wikidata item for him. There is material on Commons he created. There are links to several external sources making Mr Berty notable enough for them as well.

Amir ran his bot so all the people with Wikipedia articles are now linked to Wikidata as well. People like Mr Berty just need to be created. Really funny is the realisation that many Wikimedians have or should have their own Creator template. As a consequence they are notable for Wikidata. If not now, certainly when Commons is wikidatified.

It is fun thinking about the implications of the wikidatification.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at November 05, 2014 07:36 PM

Wikimedia UK

A weekend at MozFest

The photo is a view from a balcony at MozFest, giving a top-down view on  a workshop

Workshops at MozFest 2014

This post was written by Stuart Prior, Fundraising Assistant

I recently spent the weekend at Mozfest, the annual Mozilla conference, held in Greenwich.

The aim of going was to find out how Mozilla’s community worked, to make project and fundraising contacts in the open sector and, after my role in organising our own community conference, Wikimania 2014, to see how they did it.
Also, to see and support in any way I could, the Open Coalition work that Bekka Kahn was doing there in the form of running the Community Building track of the conference.

It was both very similar and very different. There were more workshops and discussions than talks, which was refreshing, if a little intimidating.  The content was often very technical and platform based, and not being a Mozillan, unfamiliar to me.

But, what felt exactly the same was the sense of community and optimism. The fact that people were friendly and open to talking to you, and I spent a lot of time explaining Wikimedia projects and how the movement worked, and met some interesting people with some interesting projects.

Moreover, Mozilla’s focus on creating an open web, and on encouraging digital literacy and engaging young people with the Open Source movement is invaluable to a free and open society. With serious concerns about online monopolies and a restricted, highly commodified and profoundly un-free internet, this is increasingly important and something we in the Wikimedia movement should all be supporting.

by Stevie Benton at November 05, 2014 04:15 PM