October 22, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Copy Right: Tips on Explaining Copyright and the Commons to Students

We’re well into the fall term now, and student editors will be breaking out of sandboxes and into Wikipedia’s article namespace to edit and create articles. As they do so, many will want to add images or other illustrations to the articles they’re working on. One of the first issues instructors may encounter as students begin editing Wikipedia for their course assignments is copyright in regard to these images.

It can help to survey student assumptions about copyright before you begin. Most students have never had to really understand copyright rules, especially within the global context where Wikipedia operates. Students may assume that if they don’t see a copyright claim on an image on the Web, it isn’t copyrighted. Others may be resistant to putting their own images into Wikimedia Commons, assuming it means they give up their rights to the work.

Wikipedia is based on the idea that the knowledge it contains can be used freely by anyone. Students should know that this is the result of creators, writers, and other content producers providing these resources to Wikipedia — in this sense, the original authors must contribute or “donate” this contribution — and, with few exceptions, nobody else can do this on their behalf.

Making this rule clear to students early on, and reiterating it throughout the course, is useful in preventing material from being uploaded to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons that doesn’t belong there. Encourage students to ask a very simple question: Did I make this? If the answer is “No,” they probably don’t have the right to upload it. This includes:

  • Logos
  • Promotional materials (such as for bands or movies)
  • CD or DVD covers
  • Screenshots or images of software, web sites or film stills
  • Images of artistic works (unless those works are in the public domain)

A great, easy resource for explaining all of this is on page 3 of the Illustrating Wikipedia guide [PDF] (also available in print from the Wiki Education Foundation for instructors participating in our program).

From there, things can get more complicated: “Remixing” or enhancing work found on Wikimedia Commons, the media repository that powers Wikipedia and sister sites, is generally allowed. Government data, public domain resources, and similarly free-licensed materials are fair game, with certain restrictions.

Photographs students take themselves, or illustrations such as charts, graphs or diagrams they create, are also shareable. Instructors may want to familiarize themselves with the Creative Commons license that governs the use of Wikipedia content so they can offer better guidance to students, and again, the Illustrating Wikipedia guide [PDF] has an excellent summary of these licenses on page 10.

Some quick references for Copyright questions:
Illustrating_Wikipedia_brochure.pdfThe Illustrating Wikipedia guide [PDF], our guide to creating and sharing images, has some excellent material explaining the Creative Commons license, and simple, illustrated outlines of what is OK and what isn’t.

Wikipedia’s Frequently Asked Questions list about copyright gets into the nitty-gritty details of many different copyright scenarios. There is also a good, quick guide specifically regarding the copy and pasting of text — a subject we’ll dedicate another blog post to in the future.

What are your ideas for navigating copyright and the commons with students?

by Eryk Salvaggio at October 22, 2014 05:37 PM

Wikimedia UK

Ada Lovelace Day – a women in science editathon

Image shows a black and white drawn portrait of Ada Lovelace in an oval shaped border with her name across the bottom

Ada Lovelace, considered to be the world’s first programmer

This post was written by Sarah Staniforth, Wikipedian and Wikimedia UK volunteer

Tuesday 14th was this year’s Ada Lovelace Day, with people around the world dedicating events to Ada Lovelace, the mathematician who is often described as having been the world’s first computer programmer, as well as other women in science.

Volunteers from Wikimedia UK took part in the festivities by hosting a women in science-themed editathon at the University of Oxford (specifically at Banbury St IT Services, a boon for those without laptops). Being a woman who is interested in addressing the deficit of females working on Wikimedia projects (around 90% of Wikipedia editors are men) and in STEM fields, I thought it’d be good to come along and help out with the event.

The afternoon began with an introduction by Oxford computer scientist Ursula Martin, followed by a training session to familiarize all attendees with the basics of editing Wikipedia. One special surprise during the tea break was an Ada Lovelace cake! The break was followed by the body of the editathon. Using the reference books provided , attendees were encouraged to work on the pages of Oxford-related women in science including Rosa Beddington, Marian Dawkins, Dorothy Hodgkin, and Louise Johnson. Before I knew it, it was the end of the editathon, which was unfortunate as I’d like to have stayed for longer! It was a pleasure to meet other Wikimedians at the event, as well as to see people without prior editing experience get involved.

Hopefully there’ll be more (and longer) get-togethers devoted to improving Wikipedia coverage of women in science, technology, maths, and engineering very soon!

by Stevie Benton at October 22, 2014 04:17 PM

Sue Gardner

Why I’m in favour of online anonymity

A while back I was startled while researching someone in a work context, to come across a bunch of NSFW self-portraits she’d posted online under her real name. She was mid-career in compliance-related roles at big, traditional companies, and the photos raised questions for me about her judgement and honestly her competency. Didn’t she realise the images were public? Hadn’t she ever thought about what could happen when somebody –a colleague, a boss– randomly googled her? Was she making a considered decision, or just being clueless?

I was surprised because nowadays, that lack of caution is so rare. That’s partly because people have gotten a little more sophisticated about privacy controls, but mostly I think we’ve just given up. We can’t be confident our stuff is private today or will stay private tomorrow — if we didn’t know that already, we know it now from The Fappening and the Guardian’s uncovering that Whisper tracks its users.

And so I think that most people, most of the time, have decided to just assume everything we do online is public, and to conduct ourselves accordingly. It’s a rational decision that’s resulted in a tone and style we all recognize: we’re cheerful about work, supportive of friends, proud of family; we’ve got unobjectionable hobbies and we like stuff like vacations and pie. Promotions and babies and parties yes, layoffs and illnesses and setbacks not so much.

Secret, the app that was super-hot last winter, was briefly an exception. People talked on Secret about bad sex, imposter syndrome, depression and ADD, their ageing parents, embarrassments at work. You may remember the engineer who posted that he felt like a loser because he, seemingly alone in Silicon Valley, was barely scraping by financially. It was vulnerable and raw and awesome.

But I ended up uninstalling it pretty fast, after one too many humble-brags showed up in my feed. (The final straw was a guy boasting about how he’d bought a new iPad for a kid at the airport, after watching her mom get mad at her for dropping and breaking theirs. Blah.) I couldn’t bear seeing people diligently polishing up their self-presentation as confident and fun and generous and successful, on a service whose whole point was to enable risk-free vulnerability.

Reverse-engineering user behaviour on Secret, it read to me like people were hedging their bets. Secret users seemed to be operating (maybe without even thinking much about it) on the assumption that one day, due to a data breach or change in privacy policy or sale of the company, their activity on Secret might be available, linked to them, to their friends or insurance provider or boss or mom or bank. They didn’t trust their activity was permanently private, and so they acted as though it wasn’t.

That feeling of always being potentially in a spotlight leads us to relentlessly curate how we self-present online. And that is bad for us.

It’s bad for individuals because we run the risk of comparing our own insides to other people’s outsides, which makes us feel crappy and sets us up to make decisions based on flawed assumptions. Brene Brown: “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” Erving Goffman: “To the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self and a special kind of wariness of others.”

It’s bad for society because it makes people feel alienated and disconnected from each other, and also because it has the effect of encouraging normativity. If we all self-monitor to hide our rough edges, our unpopular opinions, our anxieties and ugly truths, we’re participating in the narrowing of what’s socially acceptable. We make it less okay to be weird, flawed, different, wrong. Which sucks for young people, who deserve to get to freely make the stupid mistakes of youth. It sucks for people who’ve been abused or poor or sick, and who shouldn’t have to hide or minimize those experiences. And it sucks for anybody with an opinion or characteristic or interest that is in any way unconventional. (Yes that is all of us.)

Anonymity was one of the great things about the early internet, and although we benefit enormously from the ability today to quickly find and research and understand each other, as individuals we also need private spaces. We need, when we want to, for our own reasons, to get to be predictably, safely, unbreakably anonymous/pseudonymous, online. That’s why I use Tor and other FLOSS services that support anonymity, and it’s why I avoid the closed-source, commercially-motivated ones. I trust Tor, like a lot of people do, because it has a track record of successful privacy protection, and because it’s radically transparent in the same way, and presumably for the same reasons, that Wikipedia is.

I’ve got nothing to hide (and oh how I hate that I feel like I need to type out that sentence), but I value my privacy, and I want to support anonymity being understood as normal rather than perverse or suspect. So I’m increasingly using tools like Tor, ChatSecure, TextSecure, RiseUp, and DuckDuckGo. I’ve been talking about this with friends for a while and some have been asking me how to get started with Tor, and especially how to use it to access the deep web. I’m working on a post about that — with luck I’ll get it done & published within the next few weeks.

Filed under: Social Movements

by Sue Gardner at October 22, 2014 04:14 PM

October 21, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

What we learned from making book grants on Arabic Wikipedia

Wikipedians and Wikimedia Foundation partner to experiment with microgrants

Launching Microgrants

Wikimedia Foundation Grants teamed up with The Wikipedia Library to open an Arabic, community-run branch

In early 2014 the Wikimedia Foundation began an experiment to better support individual contributors to Wikimedia projects, by giving out smaller grants to more individuals (complementing our existing grants to organizations, which mainly fund offline activities). We started by selecting a global south community that did not already have a local chapter meeting its needs: Arabic Wikipedia. We wanted to make grants that the community would find useful, so we asked them in a consultation, what kinds of small resources do you need? “Books!” was the primary answer we got, so we focused the pilot in that direction.

At this point, WMF staffers connected in the organizers of The Wikipedia Library, a community project (also WMF-funded) that helps editors access reliable sources. The Wikipedia Library already had experience delivering journal access to lots of editors on English Wikipedia, but they had not yet set up similar programs for other language communities, nor experimented with offering resources besides journals before. Their community-coordinator model appeared to offer a scalable way for distributing small resources to many editors, and they were looking for new ways to expand beyond serving the needs of English Wikipedians. Partnering on an Arabic pilot was a natural fit.

Mohamed Ouda and عباد ديرانية set up and coordinated the Arabic Wikipedia Library.

The next step was to find local partners in the Arabic community to lead the Arabic Wikipedia Library. We ran signups for local community coordinators to vet requests and purchase and track books, and selected two: User:Mohamed Ouda and User:عباد ديرانية.

Creating Infrastructure

To buy and globally ship books requested on Arabic Wikipedia, we needed pages where editors could ask for a book, payment options that volunteers could securely use to purchase books, and a way to track everything as it happened.

We made our first test purchases using Amazon.com and Neelwafurat.com (a popular Arabic bookseller). It was surprisingly difficult to get money to the local Arabic Coordinators for purchasing books in ways that were both user-friendly and easy to track. Providing them with prepaid cards, our first strategy, seemed like a good direction, but we weren’t able to find a card that WMF could purchase in the US for use by coordinators internationally. We ultimately employed a very old strategy – bank wire transfers – and worked with WMF’s finance team to add standardized processes for two other payment transfer options – Paypal and Western Union – to meet our needs for controls and flexibility.

Leveraging the existing journal access program run by The Wikipedia Library, we looked to a page design that could expand globally through a more modular set of pages. If The Wikipedia Library was going to serve many different communities, all with different needs, then its portal needed to be clear and distinct but its options needed to be adaptable and flexible. We translated the new kit into Arabic Wikipedia Library Pages: a portal page, book purchases, journal requests, and one for sharing sources between editors.

The Arabic Wikipedia Library Homepage


The kit pages used a customizable request template which let volunteers make requests and then interact with the local coordinators to facilitate on-wiki tracking of which books they wanted, when they received them, and how they used them.

Measuring Impact

Over the four months that the program was running, we purchased 14 books out of 19 that were requested. We shipped books to Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Tunisia. Books like: Turks and Moroccans and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery, and July Revolution: Pros and cons after half a century. On the average, books cost $20 and shipping cost $10.

Our biggest challenge by far in purchasing books was shipping. It has been difficult to get booksellers (even regional ones) to ship books from the country where the book is stocked to many of the countries where Arabic Wikipedians have requested them. In the case of Amazon, postal codes are required for shipping, and it turns out that some editors in the MENA region do not have postal codes. We failed to have books shipped to Palestine, Jordan, Morocco, and in one case Egypt. In the first month of the pilot, this prevented about half of the requests from being successfully processed. Trouble with shipping a significant portion of requests made us hesitant to broadcast signups more widely. As a result, we fell short of our target of having 40 books successfully purchased, shipped, and used to improve or create new encyclopedia content during this pilot.

Another significant challenge was in reporting itself. It was hard to know if books were received, because despite volunteer-coordinator-pinging, only 2 books were ever marked as having gotten into the hands of the editor who they were shipped to. At this point, we still don’t have enough data to understand if the books had any impact on Wikipedia, as no editors came back to update their request with a short list or link of the articles that they improved or created.

What we learned

We originally set out to learn more about supporting the needs of individuals in the global south, test WMF grantmaking systems for making many small grants to individuals around the world, raise awareness of WMF grantmaking in communities outside English Wikipedia and Meta, and expand The Wikipedia Library beyond its English home base. Here are some of our findings:

1. Moving money to individuals globally is even harder than could reasonably be expected, and multiple options are needed to fit different users and countries.

For processes to scale easily, they need to be consistent. But the global financial reality is not particularly consistent. At the start of this pilot, we knew that trying to process lots of small money transfers to individual contributors would increase the burden on our finance department. We also knew that WMF’s standard method for sending money via bank wire transfers can take up to 2 weeks for an individual to receive, involves a lot of back and forth with individuals and banks to confirm details like SWIFT codes, and that bank transfer fees can eat up large portions of small grants. So we were hoping to find some new methods for sending a few hundred dollars at a time to our coordinators.

Over the course of this pilot, our finance team added standardized processes for sending money to individuals via both Western Union and Paypal, which we’d had only limited use of in the past. These are great options to add to our toolkit because they tend to move money to individuals in many countries more quickly than bank transfers. And we’ve also confirmed we still need a variety of other options, because individuals and countries come in all shapes and sizes. Paypal, for example, is the best option for many contributors to receive money in many countries, but Paypal doesn’t work in Egypt.

2. Moving physical things to individuals globally isn’t easy either.

It turns out that tangible objects aren’t easily transferred between countries either – unsurprisingly, we ran into regional infrastructure problems. Over the course of the pilot, we tried several bookselling websites, and we even considered having a book shipped to point A and then forwarded on to point B so that requests could be filled. Ultimately, though, shipping tangible items globally is a barrier to scale. For future experiments, it may be better to focus on transactions that can be entirely completed online.

3. Community volunteers and WMF staff have complementary strengths that make us great partners and can lead the way to scale if done right.

Community members know their communities! They understand the local processes (and policies), they speak the language, and they have built relationships with other editors. But, coordinating planning and timing can be a challenge, and it wasn’t always easy to know when to involve which members of the team, balanced with a desire to keep things moving forward as quickly as possible. Engaging all team members early and often is an area we can still improve on, to help everyone maintain a sense of shared ownership of the project.

4. Community-building and impact measurement takes time.

9 months into the project and 4 months into the active pilot, we still don’t know much about the ultimate effect we’ve had on contributors or on Wikipedia. We will need to follow up with measurement again in future months, and we may also need to come up with better ways to collect data to determine impact (see next learning).

5. Microgrant reporting may not be a feasible means for collecting data on impact.

Coordinators were more successful at handling requests than they were at getting recipients to report on how they used books, or even to confirm that they got them! Reporting is always a challenge for grants (or even surveys). In this case, we aimed for very small and lightweight reports (linking to an article that had been improved), but still lack this data. A requirement that editors coming back for a second book need to report back on their first book may gradually bring in this data, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough motivation in the long run to get people to respond, or if the program will lose steam before this happens.

6. It’s important to design for scalability, but easy to get caught up in over-designing it before it is needed.

We put a lot of initial effort into setting up book-purchasing accounts with controls for reconciling purchases. Some of that infrastructure ultimately went unused when we found issues with purchasing and shipping that were different than expected. On the other hand, we also put effort into building the kit for local satellite Wikipedia Library branches, which will be used well beyond the initial Arabic test case. Our development was better harnessed in that case, perhaps because there we understood the community needs we were designing for, and left it open-ended in cases where we didn’t yet understand the needs.

7. Having a well-defined target community to partner with is a clear benefit to your experiment.

We were not designing an experiment in a vacuum. Rather, we piloted via a program that had already demonstrated a working community model, connected to a new target community expressing a need to expand this model in new directions. This helped us better target our efforts and waste less time figuring out how to approach the pilot.

8. When the costs of your experiment start to outweigh the benefits, it’s time to wrap up and turn your ‘failure’ into learning.

Ultimately, we learned a lot from this experiment, and it has pushed our thinking, processes, and relationships forward in useful ways. At this point, we’ve learned enough about what doesn’t work to recognize that it is time to change direction. The tendency for all participants involved in a struggling pilot is to blame themselves and then try harder. But knowing when to stop trying to ‘make it work’ helps us conserve the most important resources we have: the time, energy, and morale of volunteers and staff — which deserve to be spent on future projects with brighter chances to succeed.

What’s next

The Wikipedia Library remains on Arabic Wikipedia, but we’re taking focus off making book requests work. Editors can still request books for the time being, and if they’re easy to send we’ll still ship them, but the Arabic coordinators are resetting expectations to clarify that not all requests can be met, and we’re not going to waste more volunteer time on complicated workarounds or invest further in solving these issues. If/when there is sufficient data on successfully received book requests at some point in the future, we’ll still aim to analyze the impact of book grants on the encyclopedia, to continue learning from this project.

This report will now be used as a starting point to go back to the Arabic community again for further consultation. We leave it to the Arabic community to decide whether to continue the Wikipedia Library and attempt to focus on providing other types of resources, and/or move in some other direction for supporting Arabic editors.

The pilot participants:

Siko Bouterse (Head of Individual Grants), Haitham Shammaa (Learning Strategist), Asaf Bartov (Global South Advisor), Janice Tud (Grants Administrator), Ocaasi (heading The Wikipedia Library), Patrick Earley (WMF Community Advocate), Mohamed Ouda (Arabic Library Coordinator), Abbad Diraneyya (Arabic Library Coordinator)

by wikimediablog at October 21, 2014 09:58 PM

More Than 40 Million People Await the Launch of Odia Wikisource

This blog post was first published at Rising Voices on October 18.

(“Odia Wikisource incubator project screenshot” by Wikimedia Foundation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, except the Wikisource logo which is (c) Wikimedia Foundation)

Speakers of Odia will soon have mountains of books to read online in their mother tongue, following the launch of the Odia Wikisource, which will make accessible many rare books that have entered the public domain. Authors and publishers are also invited to donate their copyrighted work, possibly bringing open access to large volumes of books and manuscripts, creating a vast archive of educational resources. And everything will be in Odia. 

One of the biggest advantages of Wikisource is that all its books are available in Unicode, meaning that Google's search engine indexes the texts’ entirety, and readers are able to copy easily what they wish. (Most conventional archival systems lack this feature.) A volunteer community administers Wikisource. To upload a book's content, volunteers either retype the books word-for-word, or, when possible, use Optical Character Recognition (commonly known as “OCR“), which converts scanned images into editable text. Available at or.wikisource.org, Odia is Wikisource's eleventh Indic language. 

There are more than 40 million native Odia speakers in the world. Most live in the Indian state of Odisha and its neighboring states, but there is a large diaspora in countries like the US, UK, UAE, and across South and East Asia. Despite being spoken by so many people, Odia's online presence is relatively small.

As of October 2014, Odia Wikipedia hosted 8,441 articles. The state government's websites have Odia-language content, naturally, but none of the text is in Unicode, making the materials invisible to search engines and difficult to share. Thanks to individual and organizational efforts, some Odia-language websites have recently emerged with Unicode content. 

With support from the non-profit organization Pragati Utkal Sangha and the National Institute of Technology Rourkela, a Bhubaneswar-based outfit has digitized about 740 books through the Open Access to Oriya Books (OAOB) project. Most of these texts were published between 1850 and 1950. The OAOB project is the largest existing digital archive of Odia literature, but the archived books are only available as scanned PDFs, restricting readers’ ability to search within the texts.

As a Wikimedia project, Odia Wikisource underwent a long approval process, after running as an active incubator project for nearly two years. Both the Language Committee and the Wikimedia Foundation's Board reviewed and endorsed the project. 

Odia Wikisource has already digitized and proofread three books entirely. In collaboration with the Wikimedia-funded Centre for Internet and Society‘s Access to Knowledge, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has partially digitized another book, as well. KISS is also busy digitizing another Nine books by Odia-language author Dr. Jagannath Mohanty that were relicensed to CC-BY-SA 3.0 earlier this year.

In response to posts on Twitter and Facebook, four new contributors recently joined Wikisource to help digitize “The Odia Bhagabata,” a literary classic compiled in the 14th century. “Content that have already been typed with fonts of non-Unicode encoding systems could be converted by converters which was the case of Odia Bhagabata. New contributors did not face the problem of retyping the text, as the book was already available on a website Odia.org and is out of copyright”, says Manoj Sahukar, who (along with yours truly) designed a converter that helped to transcribe “Bhagabata”.

Rising Voices contacted some of those whose efforts made this happen.

Mrutyunjaya Kar (MK), Long time Wikimedian who has proof-read the books on Odia Wikisource
Rising Voices (RV): Youre there with Odia Wikisource since its inception. How you think it will help other Odias?
MK: Odias around the globe will have access to a vast amount of old as well as new books and manuscripts online in the tip of their finger. Knowing more about the long and glorious history of Odisha will become easier.

Nihar Kumar Dalai (NKD), Wikisource writer
RV: How does it feel to be one of the few contributors to digitize Odia Bhagabata. How you want to get involved in future?
NKD: This is a proud opportunity for me to be a part of digitization of such old literature. I, at times, think if I could get involved with this full time!

Nasim Ali (NA), Oldest active Odia Wikimedian and Wikisource writer
RV: Do you think any particular section of the society is going to be benefited by this?
NA: Books contain the gist of all human knowledge. The ease of access and spread of books are the markers of the intellectual status of a society. And in this e-age Wikisource can be helpful by not just providing easy access to a plethora of books under free licenses but also aiding the spread of basic education in developing economies. Together with Wikisource and cheaper internet this could catalyze a Renaissance of 21st century.

Pankajmala Sarangi (PS), Wikisource writer
RV: You have digitized almost two books, are the highest contributor to the project and also one of the main reasons for Odia Wikisource getting approved. What are your plans next to grow it and take to masses?
PS: I would be happy to contribute by typing more books on Odia so that they can be stored and available to all. We can take this to masses through social, print and audio & visual media and organizing meetings/discussions.

Amir Aharoni (AA), Wikimedia Language Committee member and Software Engineer at the Language Engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation
RV: What you feel Wikisource could do to a language like Odia with more than 40 million speakers?
AA: In schools in Odisha, are there lessons of Odia literature? If the answer is yes, then it can do a very simple thing – make these lessons more fun and help children learn more! Everybody says that in Kerala this worked very well with Malayalam literature.

Clearly, strong passions motivate Odia Wikisource's volunteers, like Nihar Kumar Dalai, who writes on Facebook:

Hindi and English are fine, but our native language is bit more special! Who of us does not now about the art, culture, noted personalities, tourist spots and festivals of Odisha? But if you search online about all of these then there is very little available. There comes a simple and easy solution – Odia Wikipedia. Like Odia Wikipedia, Odia Wikisource is another great place and this is my small contribution to bring Odia Bhagabata on Odia Wikisource.

Subhashish Panigrahi is a volunteer contributor for Wikipedia and in past worked as a community and program support consultant for the Wikimedia Foundation.

by wikimediablog at October 21, 2014 07:13 PM

Wikimedia UK

Spotlight on the residency – York Museums Trust WIR 2013-14

A painting of Monk Bar in York, painted in shades of yellow, gold and brown, it looks like a classical city gate.

A 19th century painting of Monk Bar, York – just one of the diverse range of images donated during the residency

This post was written by Pat Hadley and Daria Cybulska and was written with excerpts from the final case study report 

With three large, historically-important museums in their care York Museums Trust (YMT) have overwhelmingly rich and diverse collections – an incredibly exciting range of opportunities to work with Wikipedia.

From October 2013 to April 2014 York Museums Trust (YMT) hosted Pat Hadley as a Wikipedian­ in­ Residence in partnership with Wikimedia UK. The project offered Wikimedia UK a chance to work with a regionally important institution with internationally significant collections. Further weight was lent by YMT’s potential to affect several institutions in the area. Recently Pat has written up a case study for this cooperation, which gives a chance to reflect on what has been done in the six months.

Looking back on the project from the perspective of Wikimedia UK, there were several outstanding achievements:

Content improvement. Several of the Trust’s collections were targeted after consultation with the curators. Over 400 high ­quality images were delivered to Commons, many have contributed to the quality of Wikimedia projects. Some of the collections were previously hardly used by the museum, so the uploads led to them being known more widely. The programme originally aimed at a more extensive upload programme, however, Pat had to adapt to technical delays and obstacles.

An example of a project worked on is the W.A. Ismay Studio Ceramic collection. William Alfred Ismay spent his life building an enormous collection of Studio pottery. It is now held by YMT and was subject to a Google Cultural Institute project in November 2013. Brand new high quality photographs were taken for this and Pat was able to upload these images to Commons. These have now been used on the biographical articles for 17 of the potters. The Ismay article was also created from scratch by a Wikipedia editor.

External partnerships. Committed to the idea of engaging with many cultural organisations in the region, YMT was exploring the possibility of scoping the project out and reaching more than just the institutions in the Trust. This resulted in an idea of a Yorkshire wide Wikimedia ambassador linked to the Museum Development Yorkshire, a project YMT have shaped and planned to run in second half of 2014 and beyond.

Training and advocacy. All key curators at YMT were trained to edit Wikipedia. Pat also delivered a range of external talks reaching c. 80 people, including one to the Museum Development Yorkshire.

Outreach and events. Pat delivered 3 training sessions for staff and volunteers, and a high profile public editathon themed around the lives and works of Yorkshire’s 19th Century luminaries.

It was the idea of external partnerships that resonated especially strongly with Wikimedia UK and YMT during the cooperation, and the institutions worked on setting up a ‘phase 2’ project that would take these ideas forward.

Spreading the net: What’s next for GLAMwiki in Yorkshire?

One of the most positive elements of working at YMT was the opportunity to work in a network of museums with such diverse collections and breadth of knowledge among curators, staff and volunteers. This acted as a key inspiration in the design of a follow up project, run from July 2014 for a year. The Yorkshire Network Project with Pat Hadley as Regional Wikimedia Ambassador, is a unique chance to work with the region’s Museum Development Officers (MDOs) and offer Wikimedia partnerships and collaboration to the regions 150 registered museums.

Want to learn more?

Explore the full case study report written by Pat. It includes interviews with York Museums Trust staff, and further insights

Pat also talks about his project in the GLAM-Wiki Revolution video here.

by Stevie Benton at October 21, 2014 01:42 PM

Priyanka Nag

My story featured on Yourstory

Before your big launch, facing a few new bugs and needing to fix them in utmost urgency is something I guess every developer at a startup needs to undergo. I would rather say, these adrenaline rush makes our work life more exciting. We had a similar firefighting night at Scrollback yesterday and thus, by the time I reached home, it was 8.30am. My system (by that I mean my brain) was probably over heated already and thus I crashed as soon as I did hit the bed.

When I woke up at around 4pm, my phone showed a few too many notifications. There were innumerable congratulation messages and I was still wondering over them till I saw Aditya's post on my Facebook timeline.

I had met Aditya on a Sunday evening over a cup of coffee. Well, we had met for an interview (where I had expected Aditya to be someone like a professional interviewer, expecting me to answer all his questions), but the so called interview didn't feel anything as I had thought it to be like. It felt more like meeting a friend over a cup of coffee. We had a long (almost 3 hour) chat and during the entire conversation, it wasn't anything like Aditya asking me questions and me answering. For all the different topics he wanted me to talk about, he told me his side of the story as well....which made it all informal and friendly. Given a chance, I could also probably write a small article about him (ofcourse I don't have the technical skills like him to do that, but I have a few facts for sure).

The impact of this one article was huge indeed. In less than12 hours, I have received some 10+ emails different people....some asking me to talk at their event, some asking me to help them with their startup settings, some simply congratulating me and some even saying how their life story had been very similar to mine.

One honest confession - I feel a little embarrassed to read the article myself. It like too much nice things being said all together at the same time! Well, either I suffer from imposter syndrome or Aditya was a bit too humble to bring out such a good image of mine :P

One more person, I shouldn't forget to credit is Santosh. Well, it was he who kind of thought all my work was worth being covered in TechieTuesday and got me connected to Aditya.

Link to the Yourstory article : http://yourstory.com/2014/07/priyanka-nag-techie-tuesdays/

by priyanka nag (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 12:29 PM

Mozilla and WeTech Women's Maker Party, Delhi

Well, I love the name Larissa came up with for today's event. It is kind of a little long but defines the event best - "Mozilla and WeTech Woman’s Maker Party".

We had landed in Delhi on the 22nd of July 2014 and as Larissa defines it, Delhi was indeed a 'steam sauna'. We did spend most of that day going around and visiting a few famous places like the Red Fort, the India Gate, Parliament house etc. In the evening, we did meet the local Mozillians in Delhi. Well, it was an informal meeting of all Mozillians, talking all 'sh!t mozillians say' ;)

23rd morning began with all excitement. It was a small crowd, but a really awesome crowd in that conference room. Right from the introduction session, we could feel the high intellectual capabilities these young ladies were filled with. After a small game of spectrogram, we immediately moved to introduce Mozilla as an organization as well as all the Mozilla projects. To my surprise, most of the participants already knew about Open Source and had a fair idea about Mozilla. To my greater surprise, all of our participants had used Firefox at some point of time (even if it was not their default/regular browser). It was thus easy to introduce the different Mozilla projects and contribution pathways to them.

Serious hacking in progress...
The confidence these dynamic ladies did showcase was beyond appreciation.
One thing each person in the room agreed to was - "being a woman in technology is indeed tough". But these girls were ready to face the tough world and fight it out for themselves!

Post lunch, we got to some webmaking. So much hacking, so much remixing...it was tough to believe that many of these people were "not from a technical background".
Some of the awesome makes can be found listed on this spreadsheet.

Well, it goes beyond saying that these superstarts definitely deserved some awards for their awesomeness and thus, we did give them some webmaker badges.

Very few events have given me the happiness of being able to convert almost all participants into Mozillians and this was one of those rare ones.

The awesome woman Webmakers of Delhi :)

by priyanka nag (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 12:29 PM

Maker Party Bhubaneshwar

Last weekend I had a blast in Bhubaneshwar. Over two days, I was there at two different colleges for two Maker parties.

Saturday (23rd August 2014), we were at the Center of IT & Management Education (CIME) where we were asked to address a crowd of 100 participants whom we were supposed to teach webmaking. Trust me, very rarely do we get such crowd in events where we get the opportunity to be less of a teacher and more of a learner. We taught them Webmaking, true, but in return we learnt a lot from them.

Maker Party at Center of IT & Management Education (CIME)

On Sunday, things were even more fabulous at Institute of Technical Education & Research(ITER), Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University college, where we were welcomed by around 400 participants, all filled with energy, enthusiasm and the willingness to learn.

Maker Party at Institute of Technical Education & Research(ITER)

Our agenda for both days were simple....to have loads and loads of fun! We kept the tracks interactive and very open ended. On both days, we did cover the following topics:
  • Introduction to Mozilla
  • Mozilla Products and projects
  • Ways of contributing to Mozilla
  • Intro to Webmaker tools
  • Hands-on session on Thimble, Popcorn and X-ray goggles and Appmaker
Both days, we concluded our sessions by giving away some small tokens of appreciation like e T-shirts, badges, stickers etc, to the people who had been extra awesome among the group. We concluded the awesomeness of the two days by cutting a very delicious cake and fighting over it till its last pieces.
Bading goodbye after two days was tough, but after witnessing the enthusiasm of everyone we met during these two events, I am very sure we are going to return soon to Bhubaneshwar for even more awesomeness.
A few people who are two be thanked for making these events sucessful and very memorable are:
  1. Sayak Sarkar, the co-organizer for this event.
  2. Sumantro, Umesh and Sukanta from travelling all the way from Kolkata and helping us out with the sessions.
  3. Rish and Prasanna for organizing these events.
  4. Most importantly, the entire team of volunteers from both colleges without whom we wouldn't havebeen able to even move a desk.
 p.s - Not to forget, we did manage to grab media's attention as well. The event was covered by a local newspaper.
The article in the newspaper next morning

by priyanka nag (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 12:28 PM

Debutsav'14 at God's own country

Kerala...God's own country. I had always wanted to visit it, but never had a chance of being there. One evening, I suddenly received a very unexpected call, inviting me to be a part of Debutsab'14 at Amrita college, Kerala.

The poster of Debutsav'14
Though it was Kerala, I wasn't entirely enthusiastic for this event. I not been keeping too well for the last few days and doctor had strictly asked me to work less and rest more! Attending one more event at this time would definitely mean another hectic trip. But someone, the idea of introducing Scrollback to another community of open source lovers, talking about this awesome project to a new group of people was an idea which I couldn't entirely ignore. After some discussion with the rest of the Scrollback team, I decided to take this event up.

13 hours to reach Ernakulam, 3 hours from there to reach Kayankulam and another 30 mins ride to finally reach Amritapuri...it wasn't a very easy or comfortable journey. But once I reached Amritapuri, I realized that this long trip was totally worth it. Kerala, rightly called God's own country. The campus was beautiful. Backwaters, boats, sea, loads of coconut trees, a very clean beach and a very peaceful environment, the campus had it all.

Amritapuri...an example of true beauty

When I had left for this event, I was really wondering about my next few days. I knew I was not going to be welcomed by too many known faces here! But, once I was there, I realized how like minds often don't need much time to get along. I was meeting almost everyone for the first time, but it didn't feel like so after the initial 5 minutes of the conversations. Sometimes, strangers don't feel strange at all...and that is exactly what happened to me here.

On the first day of the event, I took the stage for some 15 minutes to give a quick demo of Scrollback, so that every participant of the event could use Scrollback as the communication platform during as well as after the event, to keep the network alive. On the second day, I did occupy the podium for a little longer, talking about why Scrollback was built, inspite of having so many other communication media.

Me, talking about the next generation IRC
The three days actually passed way faster than expected. I had to leave a little early, before the event could be closed, but the time I did spend with everyone at Amritapuri is totally unforgettable.

by priyanka nag (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 12:27 PM


Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Thank you Magnus

Mr A. H. Halsey is the first person who can be put to rest now that the ToolScript works again. Mr Halsey was a sociologist, he died 14 October 2014.

Thank you Magnus, you are wonderful.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 06:26 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Free as in Open Access and Wikipedia

This post by Yana Welinder (Legal Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation and Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford CIS) was first published on the blog of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), as part of Open Access Week – a week to acknowledge the wide-ranging benefits of enabling open access to information and research, as well as exploring the dangerous costs of keeping knowledge constrained by copyright restrictions and locked behind publisher paywalls.

Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia sites are closely connected to open access goals of making scholarship freely available and reusable. Consistent with these goals, the Wikimedia sites make information available to Internet users around the world free of charge in hundreds of languages. Wikimedia content can also be reused under its free licenses. The content is complemented by citations to open access scholarship, and the Wikimedia sites play a unique role in making academic learning easily available to the world. As the next generation of scholars embraces open access principles to become a Generation Open, we will move closer to “a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”

To write and edit Wikipedia, contributors need to access high quality independent sources. Unfortunately, paywalls and copyright restrictions often prevent the use of academic journals to write Wikipedia articles and enrich them with citations. Citations are particularly important to allow readers to verify Wikipedia articles and learn more about the topic from the underlying sources. Given the importance of open access to Wikipedia, Wikipedia contributors have set up a WikiProject Open Access to increase the use of open-access materials on the Wikimedia sites, improve open access-related articles on Wikipedia, and signal to readers whether sources in Wikipedia articles are open access.

<iframe allowfullscreen="allowFullScreen" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" src="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reusing_Open_Access_materials_on_Wikimedia_projects.ogv?embedplayer=yes" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitAllowFullScreen" width="600"></iframe>

Link to video on Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0: Reusing Open Access materials on Wikimedia projects, Jesse Clark, Max Klein, Matt Senate, Daniel Mietchen.

Great potential lies in the reciprocal relationship between the open access scholarship that enriches Wikipedia and Wikipedia’s promotion of primary sources. As a secondary source, Wikipedia does not publish ideas or facts that are not supported by reliable and published sources. Wikipedia has tremendous power as a platform for relaying the outcomes of academic study by leading over 400 million monthly visitors to underlying scholarship cited in articles. Just as a traditional encyclopedia would, Wikipedia can make the underlying research easier to find. But unlike a traditional encyclopedia, it also provides free access and reuse to all. In that sense, Wikipedia is an ideal secondary source for open access research.

In light of this, we are thrilled to see Generation Open grow. The Digital Commons Network now boasts 1,109,355 works from 358 institutions. The Directory of Open Access Journals further has over 10,000 journals from 135 countries. Esteemed law journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, and Michigan Law Review subscribe to the Open Access Law Program, which encourages them to archive their articles under open access principles. But while all these initiatives enable free access to academic scholarship, some of them still provide limited ability to reuse that work falling short of the definition of open access:

[F]ree availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Wikipedians are also contributing to the body of published open access scholarship. Earlier this month, four Wikipedians published an article on Dengue fever in Open Medicine (an open access and peer-reviewed journal) based on a Wikipedia article that was collaboratively edited by over 1,300 volunteers and bots. In addition to providing an open access scholarly article on this important topic, this publication validated that Wikipedia’s editorial process can produce high quality content outside traditional academia. Many Wikipedia articles incorporate text from openly licensed scholarship and some scholars write and publish openly licensed scholarship specifically to have it reused in Wikipedia articles.

Placing scholarship behind paywalls and copyright restrictions has the effect of relegating new advances in human knowledge to small academic communities. We have previously joined many open access groups to demand that scholarship be not only freely accessible, but also freely reuseable. As more academics allow their work to be shared and used freely, online secondary sources like Wikipedia will play a large role in disseminating the knowledge to more people in new regions and on different devices.

Yana Welinder, Legal Counsel

Many thanks to Hilary Richardson and Camille Desai for their help in preparing this post. I would also like to thank Stephen LaPorte, Manprit Brar, Daniel Mietchen, and other members of WikiProject Open Access for their helpful feedback.

by wikimediablog at October 21, 2014 12:27 AM

October 20, 2014

Alex Druk

Will you die today?

I was always wondering why articles like “Lists of deaths by year” was in top 10 most popular Wikipedia pages. (This year popularity of this article fall dramatically – another puzzle).

Maybe because of thoughts of death and eternity visit each of us? Maybe Wikipedia data can show probability of my sudden death today? (Or more seriously, can Wikipedia data be used for some population statistics?)

So, I decided to do a little bit of research. I pulled out over 200,000 Wikipedia persona profiles with death dates between 1950 and 2014 using Dbpedia SPARQL query.
Clearly, Wikipedia coverage of famous persons (and their death dates) increase with years.


There is no significant correlation between weekday and death, but some correlation between day of year and mortality exists.
As you can see, the probability to die highest at New Year Eve and New Year Day (which is a well-known fact from population statistics). Next high risk dates are January 28, February 2 and September 11, followed by bad days in November (25 and 29) and December (14, 22).
Mortality in summer is significantly lower that in winter. Safest month is August (especially August 4, 31, 29 and 7).
I would like to compare these data with official mortality rates, but was unlucky in my search. Would appreciate an advice.


So, thanks God, today is not New Year and am not famous.

by Alex Druk at October 20, 2014 09:53 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Notes and Slides from Quarterly Reviews now available

Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wiki_Education_Foundation_%E2%80%93_Sara_at_her_Quarterly_Review_01.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Wiki_Education_Foundation_%E2%80%93_Sara_at_her_Quarterly_Review_01.jpg

Sara at her Quarterly Review.

The Wiki Education Foundation values transparency as a means of encouraging evaluation and reflection on our work. Our Quarterly Review meetings are an opportunity for every team member to discuss accomplishments and goals every three months. To be certain that our stakeholders are also aware of these goals and achievements, we have shared the notes and slides from these Quarterly Reports on Meta.

Each Quarterly Review allows our staff to showcase their work, collect feedback from colleagues, and to incorporate ideas from every team member into the work taking place across the organization. Creating the reports offers individuals the time to reflect on their accomplishments and their challenges, and sharing these presentations gives everyone an opportunity to reflect on and contribute to the shared goals of this organization.

In addition to the Communications Quarterly Review already posted, we’ve recently added notes from three others from last quarter.

During the Digital Infrastructure Quarterly Review, Sage discussed the outlook for our website, our on-wiki user experience, and analytics tools. A key tool currently in development is an Assignment Design Wizard, which will help instructors easily create a custom course syllabus. Looking forward, we discussed improving plagiarism detection and creating a suite of additional course tools, such as student portfolios and course dashboards, which could streamline access to student activity and ease the grading process for instructors. We discussed the future of data collection and analysis, including metrics for measuring article quality for student contributions. Finally, Sage discussed testing the Assignment Design Wizard and deploying the activity feed to monitor student contributions. These tools will constitute a tremendous leap forward in creating and monitoring course content for new instructors.

During the Classroom Program and Educational Partnerships Quarterly Review, Jami discussed the current state and future goals of our Classroom Program. She discussed the work she has done in the past, including goals for number of classes and how she tracks challenges. Jami also explained the differences between the roles of classroom program manager and educational partnerships manager, now that her job will be divided for the fiscal year’s second quarter.

Finally, in the Fundraising Quarterly Review, Sara gave us an overview of fundraising goals and outreach efforts, with the intention of introducing her work and challenges to the rest of the staff. She discussed the value of strong internal communications as a way of reducing roadblocks to goal achievement, which is crucial to our organization and to our funders. But she also spoke about the importance of addressing mistakes openly and transparently.

I’m extremely proud of what our organization has accomplished in our first quarter, and look forward to sharing our next round of achievements.

Frank Schulenburg
Executive Director

by Frank Schulenburg at October 20, 2014 09:08 PM

Frank Schulenburg

Gerard Meijssen

#Charkop - a Vidhan Sabha constituency

Data about politics, politicians regularly finds its ways to Wikidata. When an item gets my attention, I often add all associated items to Wikidata as well. Charkop is a consistency in Maharashtra according to an associated category there are many more.

Given that the software I use is broken at this time, I can blog about one dilemma.

Charkop is a Vidhan Sabha constituency it is part of the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency. The question is if Charkop "is in the administrative territorial entity" of Mumbar North or Maharashtra.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2014 06:02 AM

#Google - Let us #share in the sum of all #knowledge

Dear Google, in our own ways, we share the aspiration to share in the sum of all knowledge. We are really happy to share everything we have with you. Our licenses are designed to share widely.

Dear Google, could you please help us make sure that our Labs webservices survive your bots? What we do not want is for your bots not to run. What we want is for our webservers to serve our own needs first and use all the spare capacity for you. As it is our software dies.

We really want you to have our data and, there are several other ways whereby you can get all out data any way. For this reason please help us with our software so that we can continue to share the sum of all our available knowledge with you.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2014 05:34 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #43, 2014 (October 20, 2014)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2014, week 43 (Monday 20 October 2014) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
বাংলা • ‎čeština • ‎English • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎日本語 • ‎Nederlands • ‎português • ‎русский • ‎中文

October 20, 2014 12:00 AM

October 19, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - P1472, the #Commons #Creator #Template

The work of many artists is represented in Commons. Having great information available for all of them is a Herculean job. Having all that information and more available in all the languages that are supported by the Wikimedia Foundation is very much an aspiration.. Once Commons is wikidatified, all information needs to be understood in all our languages..

France Prešeren is one of 13,481 people who currently have a Creator template and are known as such in Wikidata. All the data in those templates can be harvested and included in an Wikidata item. For all the templates NOT known in Wikidata, an item can be found or created to make them known in Wikidata as well.
A lot is already known about Mr Prešeren in Wikidata and much of that data can be expressed in multiple languages. The same can be said for the Creator template itself; as you can see, the template already shows its labels in multiple languages. With Wikidata we can show the information in all our languages as well.

Realising this will introduce the Commons community in a positive way and reduce one obstacle that needs to be overcome during the wikidatification of Commons.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 19, 2014 11:27 AM

Brion Vibber

ogv.js MediaWiki integration updates

Over the last few weekends I’ve continued to poke at ogv.js, both the core library and the experimental MediaWiki integration. It’s getting pretty close to merge-ready!

Recent improvements to ogv.js player (gerrit changeset):

  • Audio no longer super-choppy in background tabs
  • ‘ended’ is no longer unreasonably delayed
  • various code cleanup
  • ogvjs-version.js with build timestamp available for use as a cache-buster helper

Fixes to the MediaWiki TimedMediaHandler desktop player integration (gerrit changeset):

  • Post-playback behavior is now the same as when using native playback
  • Various code cleanup

Fixes to the MediaWiki MobileFrontend mobile player integration (gerrit changeset):

  • Autoplay now working with native playback in Chrome and Firefox
  • Updated to work with current MobileFrontend (internal API changes)
  • Mobile media overlay now directly inherits from the MobileFrontend photo overlay class instead of duplicating it
  • Slow-CPU check is now applied on mobile player — this gets ogv.js video at 160p working on an old iPhone 4S running iOS 7! Fast A7-based iPhones/iPads still get 360p.

While we’re at it, Microsoft is opening up a public ‘suggestion box’ for Internet Explorer — folks might want to put in their votes for native Ogg Vorbis/Theora and WebM playback.

by brion at October 19, 2014 09:51 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

First GLAM collaboration in Canada with BAnQ

1941: Two employees at a bottling plant of Coca-Cola Canada Ltd. in Montreal, Canada
Photo: Conrad Poirier, PD-Canada, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal

1945: Two young women read the front page of The Montreal Daily Star announcing the German surrender and the impending end of World War II in Europe
Photo: Conrad Poirier, PD-Canada, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and Wikimedia Canada are announcing a pilot project to upload public domain images from the Conrad Poirier collection at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal.[1]

Freelance photographer Conrad Poirier (1921-1968) sold his photographs to various newspapers and magazines including The Montreal Gazette, La Patrie and La Presse. A follower of the “new vision” (Nouvelle Vision, a photographic movement in the first half of the 20th century), he did social photography early on. He was interested in the working world, in street life and in popular events. Poirier’s work shows the developement of Montreal through historical photographs, and more widely the province of Quebec, Canada. With more than 20,000 photographs, the collection includes photographs taken between 1932 and 1960, which show the evolution of the Quebec metropolis – especially during the 1930s and 1940s. More broadly, the work of Poirier reflects the social changes underway in Quebec in the middle of the last century.

To date, approximately 700 photographs have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. In the coming months, an equivalent number of photographs will be added to the selection.

This collaboration between a GLAM institution and Wikimedia is a first in Canada.

Visit the BAnQ GLAM page on the English Wikipedia and the Category:BAnQ-Projet Poirier on Commons.

Thank you to the archives diffusion team of BAnQ Vieux-Montréal.

Benoit Rochon, Project Manager, Wikimedia Canada.

  1. Fund Conrad Poirier description, Pistard catalogue, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

by wikimediablog at October 19, 2014 05:14 AM

October 18, 2014

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia engineering report, August 2014

Major news in August includes:

Engineering metrics in August:

  • 160 unique committers contributed patchsets of code to MediaWiki.
  • The total number of unresolved commits went from around 1640 to about 1695.
  • About 22 shell requests were processed.

Technical Operations

Dallas data center

On August 21, our first connectivity to the new Dallas data center (codfw) came online, connecting the new site to the Wikimedia network. The following week, all network equipment was configured to prepare for server installations. The first essential infrastructure services (install server, DNS, monitoring etc.) were brought online in the days following August 25, and we are now working on deploying the first storage & data base servers to start replication & backups from our other data centers.

Labs metrics in August:

  • Number of projects: 170
  • Number of instances: 480
  • Amount of RAM in use (in MBs): 2,116,096
  • Amount of allocated storage (in GBs): 22,600
  • Number of virtual CPUs in use: 1,038
  • Number of users: 3,718

Wikimedia Labs

Andrew fixed a few sudo policy UI bugs (68834, 61129). Marc improved the DNS cache settings and resolved some long-standing DNS instability (70076). He also set up a new storage server for wiki dumps. This should resolve some long-term storage space problems that led to out-of-date dumps.
Andrew laid the groundwork for wikitech to be updated via the standard WMF deployment system. We’re investigating the upstream OpenStack user interface, ‘horizon’.

Features Engineering

Editor retention: Editing tools


In August, the team working on VisualEditor presented about VisualEditor at Wikimania 2014, worked with a number of volunteers at the hackathon, adjusted key workflows for template and citation editing, made major progress on Internet Explorer support, and fixed over 40 bugs and tickets.

Users of Internet Explorer 11, who we were previously preventing from using VisualEditor due to some major bugs, will now be able to use VisualEditor. Support for earlier versions of Internet Explorer will be coming shortly. Similarly, tablet users browsing the site’s mobile mode now have the option of using a mobile-specific form of VisualEditor. More editing tools, and availability of VisualEditor on phones, is planned for the future.

Improvements and updates were made to a number of interface messages as part of our work with translators to improve the software for all users, and VisualEditor and MediaWiki were improved to support highlighting links to disambiguation pages where a wiki or user wishes to do so. Several performance improvements were made, especially to the system around re-using references and reference lists. We tweaked the link editor’s behaviour based on feedback from users and user testing. The deployed version of the code was updated three times in the regular release cycle (1.24-wmf17, 1.24-wmf18 and 1.24-wmf19).


In August, the Editing Team presented at Wikimania 2014 on better ways to develop and manage front-end software, improved the infrastructure of the key user interface libraries, and continued the planned adjustments to the MediaWiki skins system.

The TemplateData GUI editor was significantly improved, including being updated to use the new types, and recursive importing of parameters if needed, and deployed on Norwegian Bokmål Wikipedia. The volunteers working on the Math extension (for formulæ) moved closer to deploying the “Mathoid” server that will use MathJax to render clearer formulæ than with the current versions.

The Editing team as usual did a lot of work on improving libraries and infrastructure. The OOjs UI library was modified to make the isolation of dialogs using <iframe>s optional, and re-organise the theme system as part of implementing a new look-and-feel for OOUI, to make it consistent with the planned changes to the MediaWiki design, in collaboration with the Design team. The OOjs library was updated to fix a minor bug, with two new versions (v1.0.12 and then v1.1.0) released and pushed downstream into MediaWiki, VisualEditor and OOjs UI.


In August, we wrapped up our face-to-face off-site meetup in Mallorca and attended Wikimania in London, which was the first Wikimania event for us all. At the Wikimania hackathon, we co-presented (with the Services team) a workshop session about Parsoid and how to use it. We also had a talk at Wikimania about Parsoid.

The GSoC 2014 LintTrap project wrapped up and we hope to develop this further over the coming months, and go live with it later this year.

With an eye towards supporting Parsoid-driven page views, the Parsoid team worked on a few different tracks. We deployed the visual diff mass testing service, we added Tidy support to parser tests and updated tests, which now makes it easy for Parsoid to target the PHP Parser + Tidy combo found in production, and continued to make CSS and other fixes.


Services and REST API

August was mostly a month of travel and vacation for the service team. We deployed a first prototype of the RESTBase storage and API service in Labs. We also presented on both Parsoid and RESTBase at Wikimania, which was well received. Later in August, computer science student Hardik Juneja joined the team as a part-time contractor. Working from Mumbai, he dived straight into complex secondary index update algorithms in the Cassandra back-end. At the end of the month, design work resumed, with the goal of making RESTBase easier to extend with additional entry points and bucket types.

Core Features


In August, the Flow team created a new read/unread state for Flow notifications, to help users keep track of the active discussion topics that they’re subscribed to. There are now two tabs in the Echo notification dropdown, split between Messages (Flow notifications) and Alerts (all of the other Echo notifications). Flow notifications stay unread until the user clicks on the item and visits the topic page, or marks the item as read in the notifications panel. The dropdown is also scrollable now, and holds the 25 most recent notifications. Last, subscribing to a Flow board gives the user a notification when a new topic is created on the board.



In August, the Growth team vetted CirrusSearch as back-end for personalized suggestions and prepared its first A/B test of the new task recommendations system. This test will deliver recommendations to a random sample of newly-registered users on 12 Wikipedias: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Persian, Russian, Ukrainian, Swedish, and Chinese. Several Growth team members also attended Wikimania 2014 in London. At Wikimania, the team shared presentations on its work and conducted usability tests of the recommendations system. Last but not least, design work began on the third major iteration of the team’s anonymous editor acquisition project.


Wikimedia Apps

In August, the Mobile Apps Team focussed on bug fixes for the recently released iOS app and for the Android app, as well as gathering user feedback from Wikimania. The team also had unstructured time during Wikimania, in which the engineers are free to work on whatever they fancy. This resulted in numerous code quality improvements on both iOS and Android. On iOS, the unstructured time also spawned a preliminary version of the feature “Nearby”, which lists articles about things that are near you, tells you how near they are to you, and points towards them. On Android, the unstructured time spawned a preliminary version of full text search, an improved searching experience which aims to present more relevant results.

Mobile web projects

This month the mobile web team, in partnership with the Editing team, launched a mobile-friendly opt-in VisualEditor for users of the mobile site on tablets. Tablet users can now choose to switch from the default editing experience (wikitext editor) to a lightweight version of VE featuring some common formatting tools (bold and italic text, the ability to add/edit links and references). We also began building a Wikidata contribution game in alpha that will allow users to add metadata to the Wikidata database (to start, occupations of people) directly from the Wikipedia article where the information is contained. We hope to graduate this feature to the beta site next month to get more quantitative feedback on its usage and the quality of contributions.

Wikipedia Zero & Partnerships

Wikipedia Zero page views held steady at around 70 million in August. We launched Wikipedia Zero with three operators: Smart and Sun in the Philippines (related companies) and Timor Telecom in East Timor. That brings our total numbers to 37 partners in 31 countries. Smart has been collaborating with Wikimedia Philippines for months, and they previously offered free access to Wikipedia on a trial basis. Just announced, Smart has now officially joined Wikipedia Zero and brought in their sister brand Sun, covering a combined 70 million subscribers in the Philippines. Timor Telecom launched Wikipedia Zero with a press event including the Vice Minister of Education and much promotion. Timor Telecom is keen to support growth in the Tetun Wikipedia by raising awareness in universities, with resources from the Wikipedia Education Program. In Latin America, we made progress toward app preloads by completing testing for the Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) program. The Wikipedia Android app is now certified for preload on QRD. We made terrific connections with Global South community members at Wikimania, which will lead to more direct local collaboration between partners and Wikimedia communities. Smriti Gupta, partnerships manager for Asia, moved to India where she will work remotely. We’re recruiting our third partnerships manager to cover South East Asia and tech partnerships.

Language Engineering

Language tools

Niklas Laxström (outside his WMF job) completed most of the work needed in Translate to Recover gracefully from session expiration, a known pain point for translators. The PageMigration feature (a GSoC project mentored by Niklas) was (GSoC project mentored by Niklas) released . The team also worked on session expiry checking (to prevent errors in long translations), updated YAML handling, deployed auto-translated screenshots for the VisualEditor user guide (a GSoC project mentored by Amir and done by Vikas Yaligar). They did internationalization testing of the new Android and iOS apps, as well as internationalization testing and bug fixes in VisualEditor, MobileFrontend and Flow.


Webfonts were enabled on the English Wikisource and Divehi wikis, following requests from the respective communities.

Language Engineering Communications and Outreach

The team was at Wikimania in London. Santhosh Thottingal and Amir Aharoni presented on Machine-aided machine translation, and Runa Bhattacharjee and Kartik Mistry on Testing multilingual applications. They conducted user testing for ContentTranslation in several languages (Catalan, Spanish, Kazakh, Russian, Bengali, Hebrew, Arabic), continued conversations with translators from Wikipedias in several languages, and published a retrospective on ContentTranslation and Wikimania.

Content translation

achine translation abuse algorithm was redone. The team also worked on reference adaptation improvements, refactoring the front-end event architecture and rewriting the cxserver registry to support multiple machine translation engines.

Platform Engineering

MediaWiki Core


We migrated test.wikipedia.org to HHVM in early August and saw very few issues. Giuseppe shared some promising benchmarks. Re-imaging an app server was surprisingly painful, in that Giuseppe and Ori had to perform a number of manual actions to get the server up-and-running, and this sequence of steps was poorly automated. Doing this much manual work per app server isn’t viable.

Mark submitted a series of patches to create a service IP and Varnish back-end for an HHVM app server pool, with Giuseppe and Brandon providing feedback and support. The patch routes requests tagged with a specific cookie to the HHVM back-ends. Tech-savvy editors were invited to opt-in to help with testing by setting the cookie explicitly. The next step after that will be to divert a fraction of general site traffic to those back-ends. The exact date will depend on how many bugs the next round of testing uncovers.

Tim is looking at modifying the profiling feature of LuaSandbox to work with HHVM; it is currently disabled.

Admin tools development

Most admin tools resources are currently directed towards SUL finalisation. There was a roundtable at Wikimania with developers and admins/tool users discussing some issues they’ve had, and feature requests they would like to see implemented. The GlobalCssJs extension was deployed to all public Wikimedia wikis, allowing for proper user global CSS and JS.


tarted deploying Cirrus as the primary search back-end to more of the remaining wikis and we found what looks like our biggest open performance bottleneck. Next month’s goal is to fix it and deploy to more wikis (probably not all). We’re also working on getting more hardware.

SUL finalisation

The SUL finalisation team continues to work on building tools to support the finalisation. There are four ongoing streams of work, and the team is on track to have the majority of the work completed by the end of September.

The ability to globally rename users was deployed a while ago, and is currently working excellently!

The ability to log in with old, pre-finalisation credentials has been developed so that users are not inadvertently locked out of their accounts. From an engineering standpoint, this form is now fully working in our test environment. Right now, the form uses placeholder text; that text needs to be ‘prettified’ so that the users who have been forcibly renamed get the appropriate information on how to proceed after their rename, and more rigorous testing should be done before deployment.

A form to globally merge users has been developed so that users can consolidate their accounts after the finalisation. From an engineering standpoint, this form is now fully working in our test environment. The form needs design improvements and further testing before it can be deployed.

A form to request a rename has been developed so that users who do not have global accounts can request a rename, and also so that the workload on the renamers is reduced. From an engineering standpoint, the form to request a rename has been implemented, and implementation has begun on the form that allows renames to rename users. Once the end-to-end experience has been fully implemented and tested, the form will be ‘prettified’.

Security auditing and response

ecurity reviews of the Graph, WikibaseQuery and WikibaseQueryEngine extensions. Initial work was done to enable regular dynamic security scanning.

Release Engineering

Quality Assurance

Having completed the migration of our Continuous Integration infrastructure from a third party host to Wikimedia’s own Jenkins instance, we are thinking about improvements and changes for future work. We aim to improve performance for Jenkins and also for beta labs. We are looking into creating other shared test environments along with beta labs to better support changes like we did this month with HHVM and with a security and performance test project. We also continue to improve the development experience with Vagrant and other virtual machine technologies.

Browser testing

This month, we continued to build out and adjust the new browser test builds on Jenkins. We saw updates to tests and issues identified for UploadWizard, VisualEditor, Echo, and MobileFrontend. New tests for GettingStarted pointed out a need to update our Redis storage on the beta cluster. We are currently monitoring an upstream problem with Selenium/Webdriver and IE11 on behalf of VisualEditor, as VE support for IE11 is coming soon.



Media Viewer’s new ‘minimal design’.

In August, the multimedia team had extensive discussions with community members about the various projects we are working on. We started with seven different roundtable discussions and presentations at Wikimania 2014 in London, including sessions on: Upload Wizard, Structured Data, Media Viewer, Multimedia, Community and Kindness. To address issues raised in recent Requests for Comments, we also hosted a one-week Media Viewer Consultation, inviting suggestions from community members across our sites.

The team also worked to make Media Viewer easier to use by readers and casual editors, our primary target users for this tool. To that end, we created a new ‘minimal design’ including a number of new improvements such as a more prominent button linking to the File: page, an easier way to enlarge images and more informative captions. These new features were prototyped and carefully tested this month to validate their effectiveness. Testers completed easily most of tasks we gave them, suggesting that the new features are now usable by target users, and ready for development in September.

This month, we prepared a first plan for the Structured Data project, in collaboration with many community members and the Wikidata team: we propose to gradually implement machine-readable data on Wikimedia Commons, starting with small experiments in the fall, followed by a wider deployment in 2015. We also continued our code refactoring for the UploadWizard, as well as fixed more bugs across our multimedia platform. To keep up with our work, join the multimedia mailing list.

Engineering Community Team

Bug management

Daniel made Bugzilla use ssl_ciphersuite to add HSTS and removed a superfluous STS header setting. Andre worked around a Bugzilla XML RPC API issue which created problems for exporting Bugzilla data for a Phabricator import. In Bugzilla’s taxonomy (components, descriptions, default CCs, etc.) some smaller changes took place.

Phabricator migration

The project is getting close to Day 1 of a Wikimedia Phabricator production instance. For better overview and tracking, the Wikimedia Phabricator Day 1 project was split into three projects: Day 1 of a Phabricator Production instance in use, Bugzilla migration, and RT migration. Furthermore, the overall schedule was clarified. In the last month, Security/permission related requirements got implemented (granular file permissions and upload defaults, enforcing that policy, making file data inaccessible and not only undiscoverable). In upstream, Mukunda added API to create projects and Chase added support for mailing lists as watching users. Chase worked on and tested the security and data migration logic. Mukunda continued to work on getting the MediaWiki OAuth provider merged into upstream. Chase and Mukunda also worked on the Project Policy Enforcer action for Herald, providing a user-friendly dropdown menu to restrict ticket access when creating the ticket. A separate domain for user content was purchased. Chase also worked on the scripts to export and import data between the systems and support for external users in Phabricator and the related mail setup. Chase and Chad also took a look at setting up Elasticsearch for Phabricator.

Mentorship programs

All Google Summer of Code and FOSS Outreach Program for Women were evaluated by their mentors as PASSED, although many were still waiting for completion, code reviews and merges. We hosted a wrap-up IRC meeting with the participation of all teams except one. We are still waiting for some final reports from the interns. In the meantime, you can check their weekly reports:

Technical communications

In August, Guillaume Paumier attended the Wikimania conference and the associated hackathon. He gave a talk about Tech News (video available on YouTube) and created a poster summarizing the talk. He also continued to write and distribute Tech News every week, and started to contribute to the Structured data project.

Volunteer coordination and outreach

We ran the Wikimania Hackathon in an unconference manner together with the Wikimania organizers. The event went well in a unique venue, and we are compiling a list of lessons learned to be applied in future events. Together with other former organizers of hackathons, we decided that the next Wikimedia Hackathon in Europe will be organized by Wikimedia France (details coming soon). Also at Wikimania, Quim Gil gave a talk about The Wikimedia Open Source Project and You (videoslides).



Following the prototype built for Wikimania, the team identified many performance issues in Wikimetrics for backfilling Editor Engagement Vital Signs (EEVS) data. The team spent a sprint implementing some performance enhancements as well as properly managing sessions with the databases. Wikimetrics is better at running recurring reports concurrently and managing replication lag in the slave DBs.

Data Processing

The team continued monitoring analytics systems and responding to issues when [non-critical] alarms in went off. Packet losses and kafka issues were diagnosed and handled.

Hadoop worker nodes now automatically set memory limits according to what is available. Previously all workers had the same fixed limit. This allows for better resource utilization.

Logstash is now available at https://logstash.wikimedia.org (Wikitech account required). Logs from Hadoop are piped there for easier search and diagnosis of Hadoop jobs.

Some uses of udp2log were migrated to kafkatee. The latter is not prone to packet losses. In particular Webstatscollector was switched over and error rates were seen to drop drastically. Eventually, the “collecting” part of Webstatscollector will be implemented in Hadoop, a much more scalable environment to handle such work.

Editor Engagement Vital Signs

The team implemented the stack necessary to load EEVS in a browser and has a rough implementation of the UI according to Pau’s design . The team also made available to EEVS two metrics already implemented on Wikimetrics: number of pages created, and number of edits.

Research and Data

This month we hosted the WikiResearch hackathon, a dedicated research track of the Wikimania hackathon. 3 demos of research code libraries were broadcast during the event and several research ideas filed on Meta. Highlights from the hackathon include: Quarry (a web client to query Wikimedia’s slave databases on Labs); wpstubs (a social media bot broadcasting newly categorized stubs on the English Wikipedia); an algorithmic classification of articles due to be re-assessed from the English Wikipedia WikiProject Medicine’s stubs.

We gave or participated in 8 presentations during the main conference.

We published a report on mobile trends expanding the data presented at the July 2014 Monthly Metrics meeting. We started work on referral parsing from request log data to study trends in referred traffic over time.

We generated sample data of edit conflicts and worked on scripts for robust revert detection. We published traffic data for the Medicine Translation Taskforce, with a particular focus on traffic to articles related to Ebola.

We wrote up a research proposal for task recommendations in support of the Growth team’s experiments on recommender systems. We analyzed qualitative data to assess the performance of Cirrus Search “morelike” feature for identifying articles in similar topic areas. We provided support for the experimental design of a first test of task recommendations. We performed an analysis of the result of the second experiment on anonymous editor acquisition run by the Growth team.

We hosted the August 2014 research showcase with a presentation by Oliver Keyes on circadian patterns in mobile readership and a guest talk by Morten Warncke-Wang on quality assessment and task recommendations in Wikipedia.

We also gave presentations on Wikimedia research at the Oxford Internet Institute, INRIA, Wikimedia Deutschland (slides) and at the Public Library of Science (slides). Aaron Halfaker presented at OpenSym 2014 a paper he co-authored on the impact of the Article for Creation workflow on newbies (slides, fulltext).


The Wikidata project is funded and executed by Wikimedia Deutschland.

August was a very busy month for Wikidata. The main page was redesigned and is now much more inviting and useful. A lot of new features were finished and deployed. Among them are:

  • Redirects: allowing you to turn an item into a redirect.
  • Monolingual text datatype: allowing you to enter new kinds of data like the motto of a country.
  • Badges: allowing you to store badges for articles on Wikidata. This includes “featured article” and “good article”. More will be added soon.
  • In other projects sidebar as a beta feature: allowing you to show links to sister projects in the sidebar of any article.
  • Special:GoToLinkedPage: allowing you to go to a Wikipedia page based on its Wikidata Q-ID. This will be especially useful if you want to create links to articles that don’t change even if the article is moved.
  • Wikinews: Wikinews has been added as a supported sister project. Wikinews can now maintain their sitelinks on Wikidata. Access to the other data will follow in due time.
  • Wikidata: Sitelinks to pages on Wikidata itself can now also be stored on Wikidata. This is useful to connect for example its help pages with those on the other projects.
  • Change of the internal serialization format: The internal serialization format changed to be consistent with the serialization format that is returned by the API.
In addition, the team worked on a lot of under-the-hood changes towards the new user interface design and started the discussions around structured data support for Commons. The log of the IRC office hour is available.


The engineering management team continues to update the Deployments page weekly, providing up-to-date information on the upcoming deployments to Wikimedia sites, as well as the annual goals, listing ongoing and future Wikimedia engineering efforts.

This article was written collaboratively by Wikimedia engineers and managers. See revision history and associated status pages. A wiki version is also available.

by Guillaume Paumier at October 18, 2014 05:35 PM

Gerard Meijssen

Bringing #Wikidata to #Commons, one step at a time

There is this big project that is to bring structured data to the 23,422,581 media files that make up one of the biggest resources of freely usable media files.

It is to bring many different benefits to the users of Commons. To accomplish this many steps have to be taken. Many of these steps can already be taken and will indicate why this project is done and, what its benefits are.

Take for instance Mr Daniel Havell. He is an English engraver born in  Reading. There is no Wikipedia article about him but there is information about him in Wikidata. It includes all the information that is in his "Creator" template and the category about him on Commons.

Having such information for all the "Creators" on Wikidata is easy and obvious. Having all those templates refer to Wikidata builds an anticipation of things to come. Next steps are making sure that the information looks good on Wikidata and is informative. Currently the best we can offer is by showing the information in Reasonator.

Using tools like Reasonator for now establishes that the WMF and the Wikidata team appreciates all the efforts that promote the use of Wikidata and accepts it as indicative of the type of information it will have to bring.

This can all be done today. No waiting is necessary and it makes data from Commons available in multiple languages. This is Mr Havell in Russian. Bringing the benefits of Wikidata to Commons today helps. It brings awareness to our public of the inherent benefits. It allows them to comment and get involved slowly but surely. It will prevent a "big bang" announcement of this is "it",take it or leave it. It will even bring more information in more languages to Commons sooner rather than later.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 18, 2014 06:53 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

First editathon on the Spanish language and literature in Madrid

“Wiki Editatón Madrid 2014 – 04″ by Carlos Delgado, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Group photograph of participants in the editathon at the National Library of Spain.

On Saturday, September 27th, Wikimedia España co-organized in Madrid the first editathon focused on improving content about the Spanish language and literature in the Spanish Wikipedia. This editathon was fostered by three relevant institutions strongly committed to the promotion and dissemination of the Spanish language and culture around the world: the Cervantes Institute, the Royal Spanish Academy and the National Library of Spain. The meeting was hosted in the Board’s Hall (Salón del Patronato), an emblematic room inside the museum of the National Library of Spain, and it was primarily aimed at participants without prior experience editing in Wikipedia. The directors from the three institutions were present at the start of the event to welcome all attendees and thank them for their participation. Progress of the meeting could be tracked through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms by following the hashtag #WikiEditatonMadrid. This facilitated the participation of other virtual editors who could not attend this meeting.

“Wiki Editatón Madrid 2014 – 14″ by Carlos Delgado, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

From left to right, José Manuel Blecua Perdices (director of the Royal Spanish Academy), Ana Santos Aramburo (director of the National Library of Spain) and Víctor García de la Concha (director of the Cervantes Institute) welcome participants in this editathon.

The registration was quite successful, with 114 enrolled participants from which approximately 61% were women. This was an outstanding achievement, especially considering the still low participation of women editors in Wikipedia. Ten volunteers, experienced Wikipedians from Wikimedia España, offered guidance to all editors and resolved their questions and doubts. The meeting took place from 10.00 to 18.00 (local time) and started with a short introduction to effective participation in Wikipedia. Lunch, beverages and cupcakes were served to all participants to keep up the editing enthusiasm.

The meeting was a great success and its main accomplishments can be summarized as follows:

During the editathon.
“Madrid – Editatón Madrid BNE 2014 – 140927 145624″ by Barcex, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

All editors received special surprise gifts: books from the Royal Spanish Academy, image products from Cervantes Institute, the National Library of Spain and WMF. On top of that, the National Library invited all attendees (editors and volunteering Wikipedians) to participate in an exclusive guided tour through the National Library museum, including visits to special areas and rooms. Overall, we were quite satisfied with the development of this editathon. We also hope that it can be the first step in a new series of similar initiatives in Spain to engage these and other renowned organizations and institutions on improving access to free knowledge in Wikipedia.

Felipe Ortega, co-organizer and member of Wikimedia España.

by wikimediablog at October 18, 2014 02:29 AM

October 17, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

How the #wikinobel Nobel Peace Prize collaboration came to be

Bente Erichsen, Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Center, and Atrid Carlsen of Wikimedia Norway, edit after the announcement. “Edit-a-thon Nobel Peace Prize 04″ by WMNOastrid, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

In April 2013, the Nobel Peace Center and Wikimedia Norway came together for their first collaboration: an edit-a-thon to enhance the quality of Wikipedia articles on the Nobel Peace Prize, various Peace Prize laureates, and other related articles on war, peace and conflict resolution.

Both groups agreed it was a great experience, and were looking for opportunities to continue working together. Last week, they came together again at the Nobel Peace Center for the announcement of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. On Friday, 10th October, a group of Wikipedians from Wikimedia Norway converged at the Peace Center, in order to follow the announcement. There, they made updates to Wikipedia in real time as the winners — girl’s education activist Malala Yousafzai, of Pakistan, and childhood rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, of India — were made public.

At the same time, 500km away in the northern Norwegian city of Trondheim, Wikimedian Jon Harald Søby followed remotely, supporting updates to other language versions of Wikipedia by Wikimedians all around the world. Throughout the day we kept in contact via Skype, and Jon Harlad was even interviewed about the experience on Norwegian national radio.

Knowledge and education of young and old alike is pivotal to all activities at the Nobel Peace Center, which is visited by 220,000 people every year, one third of whom are children and young people. The Nobel Peace Center works to increase the knowledge of the Nobel Peace Prize and its history, its laureates and topics within the fields of war, peace, and conflict resolution. The Nobel Peace Center and Wikimedia Norway both want this collaboration to contribute to even more quality and fact-based knowledge to Wikipedia, to enhance public conversation on these important issues. We greatly appreciate all the efforts and feedback from community members around the world in connection with the event.

Kirsti Svenning at The Nobel Peace Center sums up: “The way a Wikipedia article is made, the fact that several people co-write it, bringing a joint pool of knowledge and facts together and continuously enhancing the quality of the final output, is very much in keeping with the Nobel Peace Center’s mission: to increase the knowledge and reflection about the Nobel Peace Prize. The collaboration with Wikimedia Norway is much appreciated and there are new events already being planned.”

Wikimedia Norway looks forward to a continued collaboration with the Nobel Peace Center. If there are any community members, Wikimedia chapters, or institutions with ideas or thoughts on an international collaboration, please contact astrid@wikimedia.no.

Astrid Carlsen
Prosjektleder, Wikimedia Norge

by maherwiki at October 17, 2014 06:42 PM

Protecting users against POODLE by removing SSL 3.0 support

"Pudel-drawing" by Gustav Mützel (Brehms Tierleben), public domain

To protect our users against the recently disclosed POODLE security vulnerability, we are removing support for SSL 3.0 on all Wikimedia sites as of 15:00 UTC (8:00 am PDT) today.

SSL 3.0 is an outdated implementation of the HTTPS web encryption protocol. HTTPS helps people communicate more securely across networks by encrypting the data they send and receive in a web browser.

SSL 3.0 was introduced in 1996 and has long since been superseded in all modern browsers. This means that very few people will be affected by this change. However, if you still use Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), or another old browser that only supports SSL 3.0, you will be affected in the following ways:

  • It will no longer be possible to log into your user account while using IE6. Logins generally require an encrypted connection to prevent password snooping, and IE6 only supports SSL 3.0.
  • You will not be able to use HTTPS for browsing the Wikimedia projects while using IE6.
  • You will still be able to read Wikipedia and our other sites using an HTTP connection while using IE6.

We made this decision in order to protect all of our users. The POODLE vulnerability allows an attacker to to exploit weaknesses in the SSL 3.0 protocol, and potentially intercept a user’s data (something known as a man-in-the-middle attack). At the minimum, this could compromise the log-in details of registered users of the Wikimedia projects. IE6 is widely viewed as out of date and insecure, and Microsoft itself has urged users users to upgrade to modern alternatives for several years now. In fact, we disabled JavaScript for IE6 this past August, also for the purpose of protecting our users’ security.

If you are one of our affected users, we strongly encourage you to consider upgrading from IE6. We want everyone to be as secure as possible, and a modern, standards-compliant browser is a great place to start.

Mark Bergsma
WMF Director of Technical Operations;
WMF Lead Operations Architect


You can translate this post
(You may need to click on “Translating to English” to change the translation language)

by wikimediablog at October 17, 2014 03:29 PM

Wikimedia UK

Gill Hamilton joins Wikimedia UK Board

The photo shows Gill standing in front of a large display in an auditorium

Gill Hamilton at Wikimania 2014, collecting an award on behalf of the National Library of Scotland

Wikimedia UK is pleased to announce that Gill Hamilton has been co-opted to the charity’s Board of Trustees. This is the result of a board resolution that was passed on 14 October. She replaces Padmini Ray Murray who recently stepped down from the board to relocate to India.

Gill is Digital Access Manager at the National Library of Scotland, in Edinburgh, where she is responsible for the development of access to the Library’s digital collections and services. She has recently led the development of a policy to enable Library resources and metadata to be licensed more openly. Gill maintains a broad range of contacts with national cultural heritage organisations, and brings to the board very valuable direct experience of the national GLAM sector.

Gill said: “I’m honoured to become a member of the Wikimedia UK Board of Trustees. As a librarian I’ve been passionate about access to information all my career. I’m keen to use my experience and skills to contribute further to the work and development of Wikimedia UK and to the wider open knowledge movement.”

Gill’s term runs for two years and will expire on 13 October 2016.

by Stevie Benton at October 17, 2014 11:57 AM

October 16, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Benefits, from Both Sides of the Assignment

Two pieces caught our attention this week, both focusing on using Wikipedia in the classroom, one from a student’s perspective and one from an instructor’s.

Dariusz Jemielniak’s piece, “Wikipedia, a Professor’s Best Friend,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, notes the American Sociological Association’s Wikipedia Initiative as a sign of “a closer collaboration between academia and Wikipedia.” We have supported this ASA initiative, alongside a similar initiative by the Association of Psychological Sciences and the National Communication Association. We agree that these initiatives are signs of warming support for Wikipedia as a teaching tool, and point to increased participation in Wikipedia for those in higher education.

The results of the ASA initiative have been tremendous, expanding Wikipedia content by almost 1,000 articles and 1.9 million words — roughly 110 hours of silent reading. This means an increase in topic coverage, but also in quality. Throughout academia, students have created excellent sociology-related content, such as HIV/AIDS in Malawi, written by Julika Kaplan for Anne Chao’s Human Development in Global and Local Communities course at Rice University. What started as a stub has now been expanded and recognized as a “Good Article,” and has become a resource for understanding the topic read by more than 6,500 people.

While the benefits for Wikipedia are clear, Jemielniak notes that there are plenty of benefits for students: “Writing a Wikipedia article is actually an excellent academic assignment: It requires synthesizing facts, teaches how to properly use third-party sources, and (as many students have learned the hard way) is resilient to plagiarism.”

This bookends nicely with a piece by undergraduate Dina Lamdany in the Columbia University student newspaper this week, “Sharing Wikipedia.” She makes an excellent point on the value of bringing critical, collaborative engagement with Wikipedia into a classroom: “Those of us who rely on Wikipedia constantly would be encouraged to think beyond what Wikipedia already tells us—to participate in the collective process of summarizing, editing, and synthesizing, rather than just consuming.”

Lamdany points out the benefits of engaging with Wikipedia beyond just reading it, suggesting that there are vast opportunities to learn from the process. From basic coding skills to the experience of sharing work with an audience beyond the instructor, Lamdany suggests Wikipedia can offer students a place to experience “the gratification that comes with leaving the void” and having their work come alive in the public sphere.

by Eryk Salvaggio at October 16, 2014 03:45 PM

Wikimedia Suomi (WMFI - English)

Swedish Wikipedia grew with help of bots

robotitFor a very long time Finland was part of Sweden. Maybe that explains why the Finns now always love to compete with Swedes. And when I noticed that Swedish Wikipedia is much bigger than the Finnish one I started to challenge people in my trainings: we can’t let the Swedes win us in this Wikipedia battle!

I was curious about how they did it and later I found out they had used “secret” weapons: bots. So when I was visiting Wikimania on London on August I did some video interviews related to the subject.

First Johan Jönsson from Sweden tells more about the articles created by bots and what he thinks of them:

<iframe class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="382" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/BjFXtWAgymw?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>

Not everyone likes the idea of bot created articles and also Erik Zachte, Data Analyst at Wikimedia Foundation shared this feeling in the beginning. Then something happened and now he has changed his view.  Learn more about this in the end of this video interview:

<iframe class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="382" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UWBIYMUypWA?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>

Now I am curious to hear your opinion about the bot created articles! Should we all follow the Swedes and grow the number of articles in our own Wikipedias?

PS. There are more Wikipedia related video interviews on my YouTube channel on a play list called Wiki Wednesday.

by Johanna Janhonen at October 16, 2014 10:13 AM

Joseph Reagle

Following the Joneses: FOMO and Conspicuous Sociality

A draft of Following the Joneses: FOMO and Conspicuous Sociality (DRAFT) is now available.

ABSTRACT: I argue that the emergence and proliferation of the term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and its siblings (FOBO, FODA, MOMO, FODO) reveals a difficulty with the management of envy and compulsion arising from social media usage. The feelings of FOMO can be understood as envy-related anxiety about missed experiences (fear of missing out) and belonging (fear of being left out). Beyond feelings, people who speak of FOMO also speak of it as an external manifestation, most often as a compulsivity (related to what I characterize as "conspicuous sociality") and as an illness to be remedied. And although FOMO is often seen as a recent phenomenon, I argue it is a continuation of a concern and discourse about envy and anxiety (e.g., "keeping up with the Joneses" and neurasthenia) prompted by changes in communication media that began over a century ago.

by Joseph Reagle at October 16, 2014 04:00 AM

October 15, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Why librarians should edit Wikipedia: A testimonial from Switzerland

The Unithèque, one of the sites of the Library on the campus of the University of Lausanne
(“Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire de Lausanne” by Odrade123, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Since April, the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne (BCUL) hosts, on a monthly basis, Wikipedian get-togethers in their Unitheque room, referred as the “Wikipermanences”. How do they proceed and what happens during those gatherings? Basically, between noon and 2 pm, representatives of Wikimedia CH, the Swiss Wikimedia chapter, are available to all members of the general public to answer any questions they may have. You can show up whenever you wish and stay as long as you want. The entrance is open to all, there are no strings attached.

You might think you have nothing interesting enough to tell the world to become a Wikipedia editor – maybe you believe that you are not enough of an expert to contribute to articles ? Or, maybe you believe that editing is complicated and requires you to register and hold technical competencies?

Having believed all the above, the Wikipermanence organised in our venue enabled me take a step forward towards editing on Wikipedia. After all, why not me? Are those beliefs justified after all?

Volunteers teaching Wikipedia to the librarians of the BCUL during a Wikipermanence
(“WMCH Volunteers teaching wikipedia during a wikipermanence “ by Chandres, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Myself, having never edited a Wikipedia page before, I began with a simple question – how to proceed? I was quickly introduced to editing pages by Frédéric, a member of Wikimedia CH, who is also working at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and passionate about Wikipedia. I quickly realised that editing an already existing page is as easy as pie. Previously, the editing option required an understanding of the wikipedia language to code information, nowadays, there is a WYSIWYG[1] editor which enables you to modify pages intuitively.

To edit a page, there is no need to have an existing user profile, or any requirement of a previous knowledge of Wikipedia codes. All you have to do is to click on the link entitled “edit” (in French: “modifier”) next to each section’s title to open a very straightforward editing window. Before confirming any modifications, it is asked to detail in a couple of lines the type of corrections you contributed, so that one can follow up on them. Indeed, all the changes are stored with the IP address of the computer used to make those changes from, or with the username of the contributor if he has a Wikipedia profile.

How can we librarians add value to this area of knowledge ? Actually, on several levels, as we all know something – either from our professional activity, or from our personal interests – which enables us to contribute by adding or amending Wikipedia entries. Or if your favorite hobby is grammar and checking details, you could also participate by correcting any mistakes you come across. More specifically, we can be quite particular on providing adequate references in the bibliographies. At a beginner’s level, I was able to correct the “Publications” section of an article concerning a public figure, as the bibliography was not presented properly with incomplete sources. With our professional backgrounds, who better than librarians may check the quality of the bibliographies as well as complete them if required ?

Wikipedia’s WYSIWYG editor provides multiple areas to fill out and automatically compiles the information with the correct Wikipedia presentation model. There is no need to select a particular style, it is all done automatically.

If you have a professional or a personal area of expertise, then your contribution may be even more important in creating a page, instead of completing an existing page‘s content. In this case only, it’s better to create a profile and officially enter the community of Wikipedia editors.

So, what are you waiting for to participate in one of these Wikipermanences? It is an easy opportunity to discover the anonymous world of many editors and who knows, maybe getting started yourself!

Olivia Trono, Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne

  1. What You See Is What You Get

by wikimediablog at October 15, 2014 08:02 PM

October 14, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Free licenses and freedom of panorama now recognized in Russian law!

One of the undeleted images: Main building of Moscow State University
(“Main Building of Moscow state University” by Victor Morozov (Rdfr), under CC-BY-2.5)

Wikimedia Russia congratulates the Russians and all the proponents of free culture to the changes in the Russian Civil Code, which are very significant for the promotion of the free knowledge. Particularly, the amendments are extremely important for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects; and for developers of free software. The amendments entered into force on October 1st, 2014; Wikimedia RU actively participated in their preparation.

Among the numerous changes, we should mention:

  • Open licenses introduced.
The new law directly recognizes free licenses (which are fundamental for projects like Wikipedia or Linux). The authors of free content will be able to have legal protection from misuse of their works.
Now it is allowed to take photos in any public territory. The photographers are no more formally offenders, as before when nobody was allowed to sell postcards with modern buildings without the permission of the architect or his successors (despite the fact that such situation was quite usual in practice). Unfortunately, monuments are still not covered by the introduced amendments.
  • Libraries are allowed to keep in electronic format dilapidated works and those scientific and educational works that have not been republished for more than 10 years.


«The direct inclusion of the stipulations on the free licenses into the law is a progressive step not only for Russia, but worldwide. There are no specific articles on free licenses in other countries’ laws, and hence these licenses are still in a grey area there. Actually, free licenses exploit the archaic tercentenary system of copyright, that always limited the readers’ freedoms in order to allow the authors and the publishers to earn money, for the opposite goal – to protect the readers’ right to free access. Therefore, without direct regulation, there is too vast judicial discretion, and free licenses users are not protected perfectly. In the Russian law there are no uncertainties like that anymore. Up to the wording that covers copyleft clauses as well; they poorly fit the traditional laws.» — explained Wikimedia RU director Vladimir Medeyko.

Members of Wikimedia RU worked hard on these and other amendments in the Civil Code. Namely:

  • In 2009-2010, numerous letters with the description of the problems and possible solutions were sent to special committees of the State Duma.
  • In 2010-2011, the directors of Wikimedia RU – Vladimir Medeyko and Stanislav Kozlovskiy – participated in sessions of the expert groups of the Committee of culture and the Committee of information policy and communications of the State Duma.
  • In April 2011, during a meeting with then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the representative of Wikimedia RU communicated the problems and possible solutions to the head of the state.
  • In 2011-2012, the experts from Wikimedia RU became part of the working group of the Ministry of Justice. We worked on the free licenses and related laws and also participated in various events organized by the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science.
  • In 2012, the representatives of Wikimedia RU participated in sessions of the State Duma’s working group on intellectual property, attended the parliament hearings and sessions of the Federation Council on the information society proceedings.
  • From 2010-2014, members of Wikimedia RU participated in more than 200 conferences, seminars, and round tables, where they explained problems and ways to legalize the work. Hopefully, the foreign legislators will handle free licenses with the due care, and the uncertainty will vanish.

Featured image of Petrovskiy stadium in St. Petersburg that won’t be deleted now
(“Petrovskiy football stadium in SPB” by Florstein, under CC BY-SA 3.0)

What is the impact of these amendments on the Wikimedia movement?

  • more than four hundred deletion requests due to prior restrictions were cancelled and files were undeleted;
  • Commons will be able to receive thousands of images that couldn’t be uploaded before;
  • Now Russia can legally participate in the Wiki Loves Monuments contest, which is running till the end of October. Unfortunately, sculptures and monuments are still not covered by the changed law, but photos of historic buildings are permitted now and this opens wide opportunities for participation in the contest.


Linar Khalitov, Wikimedia Russia

by wikimediablog at October 14, 2014 11:21 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Entering the Conversation: Wikipedia and Student Writing

Contributed by Andrew Stuhl, Bucknell University.

Originally from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computer_keyboard.gifThe entire semester hung in that moment. Twenty-six college students and I had spent four months updating Wikipedia articles on the History of Ecology. Now, as their research went live on the web, we sat in our classroom, thinking about what all that work meant. What did students take from the experience?

The words echoed off the back wall. The room filled with anticipation. One student raised his hand.

“I feel like I finally have something to say.”

For me, this one sentence summarizes the value of teaching with Wikipedia. When we ask our students to write for Wikipedia, they think about their writing and themselves differently. They are accustomed to conceiving of writing as an assignment; they do it to earn a grade. Most unfortunately, students too often understand writing as something that will end up collecting dust on a desk.

Of course, not all students view writing in this way. Some take great pride in their work. These students are as diligent about their word-choice and argument as they are about their research and footnoting. But these stand-out students are exceptions that prove the rule. What do these exceptional students know that others don’t? They know that scholarship is a conversation, a long back-and-forth of ideas and interpretations and insights. Great students feel like they can enter the conversation because they have something to say.

Teaching with Wikipedia, then, invites our students to think and act as scholars. Below, I highlight two other moments from my semester with Wikipedia to continue reflecting on the value of this pedagogy. My aim is not to be comprehensive about how to use Wikipedia in the classroom. Rather, I want to showcase a few big, challenging questions about writing that Wikipedia opens up, and which can deepen student engagement.

Writing is a process. Where are you in that process?

While there are many possible components in your Wikipedia assignment, an indispensable one should be the “lead section as outline” exercise. After students have selected topics and built a robust bibliography, they are ready to start drafting. To get them to conceptualize the entirety of their piece and its contribution to Wikipedia, I asked them to write a new lead section for their article in the form of a capsule summary, where every sentence represents a section of the article. This idea came from our Wikipedia Ambassador, Sage Ross (User:Ragesoss), and it proved invaluable in helping students both meditate on and move through that thorny transition between research and writing.

The “lead section as outline” exercise was particularly helpful in terms of teaching writing as a process. So many students enter my classroom with the notion that writing is a talent, not a skill. To them, you are either born a good writer or you’ll never be one. As a result, many of them don’t nurture good writing habits, or even conceive of the various stages of writing. Many of them prepare all of their essays the same way: the night before.

The structure of the Wikipedia assignment helps move students past these simple notions. But the lead-section-as-outline exercise is especially transformative. In being forced to draft a capsule summary of their work for the lead section, students immediately see the important scaffolding work that an introduction must perform. They also anticipate the need for revisions. If every sentence of the lead section must correspond with a fuller section of the article, then once the article is drafted, those draft lead section sentences must also be adjusted.

Most importantly, though, in asking students to craft an outline in this way before they’ve fully written the article, students are put in that creative, uncomfortable place between their knowledge and their understanding. Do they really understand their subject, or have they just collected a bunch of sources on it? The movement from knowing to understanding happens keystroke by keystroke, as students plan what a comprehensive treatment of their subject will eventually look like.

In these ways, the lead-section-as-outline offers teachers wonderful opportunities to address the nature of writing—from researching to outlining to drafting to revising—and the various ways these stages loop together.

Writing requires an audience. Who are you writing for?

The first time a Wikipedia editor commented on one of my students’ contributions, my course ceased being a class. It became an experiment. I could no longer single-handedly control the stream of feedback they would receive on their writing. I became more of a coach to their individual projects and less a judge and jury of it.

This is as it should be. There are few venues or genres in writing that are meant for only one person (a letter and a dissertation come to mind). In all other forms, we write for an audience, not a professor. My students have a hard time grasping this. They have been taught, over time, that they write for the teacher. They will say things like, “I’m worried about writing in this class because I don’t know what you want from us.” This student is not being whiny. They just haven’t thought about what audience they should be writing for, or why an audience is necessary for writing in the first place. Maybe I hadn’t provided them an audience for their assignment.

The Writing Center at Bucknell University has a wonderful little diagram that represents the meaning of audience in terms of student writing. It is adapted from Ramage, Bean and Johnson’s “Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings.” A triangle connects three big words: Message, Audience, and Writer. Under the heading Message, the following question appears: “How can I make the argument internally consistent and logical?” Under the heading Writer, another question: “How can I present myself effectively?” And finally, under Audience: “How can I make the reader open to my message?” This diagram clearly shows that the readers of our work shape what information we present and how we present it.

Students can understand this diagram when they see it. They can repeat its components back to me. But they didn’t really feel the weight of it until they heard from their audience. Comments on their work from Wikipedia editors reminded them that audience is not merely a concept—it is comprised of living human beings just like them. When students shared with me what other editors had said, I was able to open up a discussion about the elements of high quality Wikipedia articles, especially balanced coverage, neutral content, and reliable sources. In turn, I could point to these elements as characteristic of both the Wikipedia audience and the encyclopedia genre. I could contrast them with other forms of writing and other audiences, turning “writing” from an assignment into a dynamic, multifaceted activity.

Not all students will have the good fortune of receiving comments on their work. But such feedback may not be necessary to foster good writing. At the close of the semester, students said that simply knowing that an audience of editors existed was enough to change how they wrote. They chose words more carefully. They double-checked their work for accuracy and reliability. And they began to think about how best they could communicate their scholarship to readers who were as curious, conscientious, and committed and as they were.

Saying Something More

These are just two questions about writing that Wikipedia helps us entertain. There are more, to be sure. Like any good tool, Wikipedia will wield its greatest power in the hands of the users. Now that students can envision the complexity of the writing process, what will they produce? Now that students think of themselves as scholars, what can they accomplish? Now that we can crack open big issues about writing, what will our students have to say?

by Eryk Salvaggio at October 14, 2014 09:48 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

New learning series: Telling your program story

Stories are important for every community.

Every night, a different story.

«Any story worth telling relates to real life in some meaningful way.»Jane Espenson

Retelling is a significant technique for transferring knowledge to one another, engaging people, and triggering change. The Wikimedia movement has proven the value of a good story many times. Just look at the Love Dart story or the world acclaimed Wikipedia Zero letter. The time has come to spread this talent further for others to use as well.

Starting October 15, the Learning & Evaluation team will host a new learning series, Telling your program story. If you are a program or project leader and struggle to get your story across in reporting, this is your chance to learn tricks and gather resources to tell a better story. Through some key strategies you can improve not only the way you share about your efforts, but the impact of the work in advancing the movement and how others might benefit from such efforts.



How to report more effectively

One of the primary means for grantees to share stories is a grant report. However, the task of reporting is usually set aside until the last minute, and is not integrated in the flow of work. What is the current report structure? How does it help (or not) to bring out the stories you want people to know? How do you distinguish organizational details and core activities? These topics will be addressed in the first virtual meet-up.

There is more to reporting than meets the eye. You can keep a consistent frame of reference from one report to another by acknowledging the stages of your actions as part of a larger plan. In the second virtual event (planned for mid November), you will learn how to use color coding and infographics, as well as incorporating quotes and multimedia to showcase your work.

This series will also address how to frame your stories better.

The last virtual event that will take place in early December, will focus on how to frame your measures in advance to be able to tell the story you want. The report is most useful when articulated with both a project plan and an evaluation plan. How can reporting become a learning tool, instead of a mandatory page to complete? During this event we will talk about the importance of describing the context of your work, for example, why or how your results are important given the context of your community and situation. We will also discuss one of the biggest challenges, how to report on projects and programs with indirect linkages to outcomes (i.e., Advocacy, Community climate).

The aim of this series is to introduce storytelling as a core method to achieve the movement’s goals.

Why story-telling?

Join the conversation!

We want to support you in telling your stories. With this series, we open the conversation to discover what kind of support you need. We know that the current report structure can fall short when it comes to certain topics and activities. The only way to make it better is by discussing this resource in the community. If you struggle to find the right tone and to tell good stories, join the conversation! Any of the topics mentioned may ring a bell, bring your ideas to the virtual meet-ups and help us build better tools, tailored for every need.

The series is the first step in the development of a new set of tools on reporting-as-storytelling. They will be available on the Evaluation portal by the end of this year.

Bring a chair and get ready… let the story begin!

María Cruz, Community Coordinator of Program Evaluation & Design, Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at October 14, 2014 08:19 PM

October 13, 2014

Joseph Reagle

Buskirk's tactics

There are thousands of books about how to work and deliberate together. There's also a subgenre headed by Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince. Most would consider the unscrupulous implementation of these guides to be unethical, but as Richard Buskirk advised, even the scrupulous need to know how others might try to manipulate them. Two of my favorites in this genre include Nancy Sylvester's The Guerrilla Guide to Robert's Rules and Buskirk's Frontal Attack.

Buskirk died just as I was beginning my professional career and his book encapsulated his experiences from when I was born, but his 118 tactics are as relevant as ever. I find it a shame that the book isn't freely available, so I provide my notes for the benefit of the scrupulous.

by Joseph Reagle at October 13, 2014 04:00 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #42, 2014 (October 13, 2014)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2014, week 42 (Monday 13 October 2014) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
čeština • ‎English • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎日本語 • ‎한국어 • ‎português • ‎română • ‎русский • ‎中文

October 13, 2014 12:00 AM

October 12, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#MediaWiki is about sharing the sum of all #knowledge

The organisational structure of the Wikimedia Foundation has been completed with the hiring of Mr Damon Sicore. In his first IRC #Wikimedia-Office chat the ugly head of Wikipedia centrism was found to be alive and well.

Mr Sicore made some important statements: "The most urgent issue seems to be software quality and shipping what we say we are going to ship, on time." and also "this urgency is compounded by the fact that we must be able to compete in mobile".

Wikidata is firmly part of us sharing in the sum of all knowledge and it is increasingly important at that. So far Wikidata was mostly about linking Wikipedia articles about the same subject. Increasingly available data is used in info-boxes. Once the wikidatification of multimedia files happens Wikidata needs to become editable from mobile phones and it needs to be easy and obvious in any and all languages..

Currently it is not easy nor obvious in any language.

This is not to say that it is not possible to make it increasingly easy and obvious in all languages. It is important because it is a requirement when the wikidatification of multi media files is to succeed. This is however only one use case where improved usability of Wikidata is essential for us to continue to share the sum of all the data we have available to us.

Only one challenge for Mr Sicore is the extend Wikidata will make a difference. There are many more he faces. I wish him well because his success is our success.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 12, 2014 01:14 PM

#Wikidata - the maintenance of #awards

Mrs Kizer died. She won several awards. One of the awards she won was the Robert Frost medal, another award was the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize. Two other awards, the John Masefield Memorial Award and the Borestone Award are not linked in the article yet.

The funny thing with awards is that they have a habit of being awarded regularly. This has several consequences;
  • you can predict how many winners there may have been
  • you can predict when the next winner is likely to be known
Given that many awards are not maintained as well as for instance the Nobel Prize or the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, it should not be that hard to produce something that lists all the awards that have no winner yet for a given year. Wikidata already provides most of the main elements; these are all the awards for instance and it shows how many Wikipedias have an article for them.

By adding a statement about the frequency of the award it becomes [possible to find the awards that were not awarded in a given year. It will stimulate adding awards, it can be the basis for a tool that shows lists of winners on Wikipedias and it would stimulate me to indicate that Mrs Kizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 12, 2014 07:08 AM

October 11, 2014

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: September 2014

by Admin at October 11, 2014 05:33 PM

October 10, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Hans Oleander: Using offline Wikipedia to guide tours at the bottom of the Earth

Hans Oleander at sea near the South Georgia Islands, Antarctica
(“Hans Oleander at work in South Georgia DSC_0513” by Hans Oleander, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The MS Delphin and a tour group near Petermann Island.
(“Ms-delphin” by Hans Oleander under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Oleander (dressed in black, steering the boat in the foreground) guides an expedition of tourists in Antarctic waters.
( “At the engine of the rear zodiac” by Oleander, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Chinstrap penguins and one Gentoo penguin, photographed by Oleander.
(“Gentoo-chinstrap” by Hans Oleander, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

This user profile is part of a series about Offline Wikipedia.

Hans Oleander lives and works in southern Germany, but once a year he gets away from his desk and voyages to the bottom of the Earth to spend a few weeks as a tour guide in Antarctica.

“It started off as a love story.” says Oleander, “The girl I met was a learned marine biologist. She had been doing this for quite a while, and then as we would get separated on vacations, she eventually just asked if I would come along, [...] this is how I first traveled to that region of the world, and then I was seized by this Antarctica virus. It infects people – once they go there, they want to go again and again. So, I got infected too.”

For Hans, the nature of Antarctica is particularly captivating.

“Animals behave as if there were no humans on this planet.” He added, “And I think that this is what makes it fascinating. It’s still the Earth but it’s an Earth where we could have the illusion of how peaceful and how unpolluted it looks when there are no humans around.” Hans explains, “What makes Antarctica, among other things, pretty particular is the fact that there is no land-bound or land predators. In the north, in the Arctic, animals like ice bears would hunt other animals, but ashore in Antarctica, there’s no predators. And this is why the sea birds are not so anxious.  They don’t try to escape when humans try to approach.”

After falling in love with it, Oleander wanted to find an occupation in Antarctica to give him a greater reason to be there.

“That’s how I got involved with the expedition tourism.” He elaborates, “My role in Antarctic expedition tourism is two-fold. One is to be ashore and guide people [...] and the other part is aboard the cruise vessel which is used to go there and come back and also use – obviously – as a place to stay, to sleep, and eat for the tourists. And then, on this cruise vessel in the evenings and sometimes in the mornings on the trip, we would give presentations and explain to folks the environment, the history, all kinds of things that would be good to know, to give you a better experience of that area.”

In his role, Oleander fields a wide range of questions from tourists about Antarctica, and prepares his lectures using a variety of sources.

“People would get interested and start asking questions even beyond what your presentations were.” says Oleander, “No individual could know just all the answers to all the questions that could arise.”

Oleander needed the ability to quickly research facts in an area with no Internet access.

“In Antarctic waters, there’s no Internet connection available so you can surf on the web.” says Oleander, “[We] travel down to South America by plane, before boarding the cruise vessel, there’s limited resources and limited amount of books that you could take.”

As an alternative to printed books, Oleander researched his digital options and came across WikiTaxi.

“It was good. It at least offered me the text of Wikipedia.” He used that software for a few years until 2012 when he discovered Kiwix, which was easier to install, and contained images.

“I was giving this presentation about the life of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton [...] I was telling the story of his life, and the famous Endurance Expedition where his ship got stuck in the ice and eventually crushed, and they managed to survive.”

After the presentation, Oleander was asked a few questions that he did not know the answers to.

“One of the guys asked me, ‘Well, when and by whom was Ernest Shackleton made a Sir? When was he knighted? And who was it that awarded this title to him?’ And that was something I simply had to look up quickly. It’s that kind of information [that] an encyclopedia comes in handy.”

He turned to Kiwix for the answer.

“And so I was looking it up and found out he was knighted by King Edward [...] So, we are grateful to have Kiwix allowing us to access Wikipedia and help us find answers to questions like this one.”

Profile by Samir El-Sharbaty, Wikimedian

Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

by wikimediablog at October 10, 2014 05:51 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly report for September 2014

The Wiki Education Foundation in the Presidio

Wiki Education Foundation’s office is in the right half of the building on 11 Funston Avenue. Our office is located in the Presidio and surrounded by likeminded organizations, many of them non-profits.

1. Highlights

  • The staff moved into our first office, half of a two-story historic 19th century officer’s home in The Presidio of San Francisco. We’re getting up to speed by adding new furniture daily and are excited to collaborate together in person.
  • Two staff members have joined the Programs Department. Helaine Blumenthal is the new Classroom Program Manager, and Eryk Salvaggio is the new Communications Associate. Both started on September 29, and spent their first two days in orientation to learn about the Wiki Education Foundation and our programs.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation received a $1 million grant (over two years) from an anonymous donor. The funds support our educational partnerships strategy to sustainably scale our Classroom Program work through partnerships with universities and academic associations in the United States and Canada.
  • Our outside technology contractor WINTR began work on the Assignment Design Wizard. The tool will offer a streamlined interface for professors to create and customize lesson plans, and is expected to be finished in early November.

Wiki Education Foundation staff photo September 2014. Left to right: Jami Mathewson, LiAnna Davis, Bill Gong, Eryk Salvaggio, Helaine Blumenthal, Sara Crouse, Frank Schulenburg. Not in the picture: Sage Ross, who's working out of Seattle.

Wiki Education Foundation staff photo September 2014. Left to right: Jami Mathewson, LiAnna Davis, Bill Gong, Eryk Salvaggio, Helaine Blumenthal, Sara Crouse, Frank Schulenburg. Not in the picture: Sage Ross, who’s working out of Seattle.

2. Programs

The Programs team welcomed two new staff members on September 29. Helaine Blumenthal is the new Classroom Program Manager and Eryk Salvaggio is the new Communications Associate.

Helaine Blumenthal in the Presidio

Helaine Blumenthal

Helaine, a native New Yorker, completed her PhD in European and Jewish history at UC Berkeley in 2012. She has worked as a content developer for online textbooks and has shared her lifelong passion for history as a Graduate Student Instructor at Berkeley. As Classroom Program Manager, Helaine will be developing relationships with instructors, volunteers, and Wikipedia editors to expand our support for program activities. Helaine is responsible for on-boarding and mentoring the instructors who teach Wikipedia classroom assignments and the Wikipedia Ambassadors who support them (both in-person and online). She helps design assignments that make sense for both the student learning and for Wikipedia, and she supports program participants to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to be successful. Helaine is excited to bring her extensive experience in higher education and academia to the Wiki Education Foundation. She has a passion for languages and is an avid (and experimental) chef.

Eryk Salvaggio

Eryk Salvaggio

Eryk joins us after completing an MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and three years writing and teaching English in Fukuoka, Japan. As Communications Associate, Eryk will be responsible for creating communications materials, including literature to assist program participants and blog posts highlighting the stories from the programs. He will serve as our point of contact for the Wikipedia editing community, the media, and others interested in learning more about the Wiki Education Foundation and our program. A New England native, he has a long interest in digital democracy initiatives and communications studies. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and photography.

2.1. Educational Partnerships

Dr. Becky Carmichael introduces LSU students to Wikipedia in Dr. Vincent Wilson's Environmental Sciences course.

Dr. Becky Carmichael introduces LSU students to Wikipedia in Dr. Vincent Wilson’s Environmental Sciences course.

  • This month, Jami visited the University of California, Berkeley to meet with the Assistant Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, the Chief Education Technologist, the Development Coordinator for the Vice Chancellor of Education, a Program Coordinator at the university library, and Dr. Victoria Robinson, who has integrated Wikipedia assignments into her courses with support from Wikipedia Ambassador Kevin Gorman. The team at Berkeley is interested in developing a long-term solution to providing guidance and expertise for teaching with Wikipedia to instructors in all departments. The goal of the meeting was to identify potential partnerships and ways Wiki Ed can expand on campus while maintaining a high level of support for program participants. It was a great first step in developing relationships and identifying possibilities for moving forward.
  • Jami also visited Louisiana State University in September to meet with Communication Across the Curriculum staff, including Wikipedia Ambassadors Rebecca Burdette and Becky Carmichael. The staff at LSU have supported 22 courses since the spring 2011 term, and they are working with 5 courses during fall 2014. We are working to determine the best way to expand their support to bring even more LSU students into the Classroom Program, starting this month by planning a series of on-campus Wikipedia workshops in November. We will spend two days presenting sessions on designing Wikipedia assignments, introductions to Wikipedia editing, targeted research, how to find content gaps, and smaller sessions about the Wikipedia courses at LSU.

2.2. Classroom Program

Current status of the Classroom Program (fall term 2014) in numbers, as of September 30:

  • 84 Wiki Ed-supported courses have Course Pages (39 or 46% are led by returning instructors)
  • 1,500 student editors are enrolled
  • Status: All courses are underway, and many have already introduced Wikipedia assignments. 496 student editors have completed the online training, and some instructors are still developing course pages and enrolling student editors.

The fall 2014 term has started. Student editors are creating user accounts, enrolling on course pages, completing the online training, and starting sandboxes. After maintaining the Classroom Program at approximately 65 courses over the last few terms, we feel we have the resources and capacity to expand the program while maintaining existing levels of support. We are excited to see more student editors engage with Wikipedia, and we are committed to giving instructors the resources they need to design smart Wikipedia assignments (see the “Digital Infrastructure” section below) that fill content gaps on Wikipedia.

We expect 25 more courses this term than in the spring, and we’re excited to have a new Classroom Program Manager and two Wikipedia Content Experts to support this higher number of program participants.

2.3. Communications

Communications work in September focused on the development of Wiki Education Foundation editions of many of the brochures. New editions of Editing Wikipedia, Evaluating Wikipedia, Illustrating Wikipedia, Instructor Basics, Case Studies, and the Syllabus are all available on Wikimedia Commons and in print from the Wiki Education Foundation. Edits to the content brought the text to be more in line with English Wikipedia-specific content, as the Wikimedia Foundation versions of the brochures were designed to be appropriate for global audiences on many language Wikipedias. We also finalized the order of organizational printed materials, such as letterhead, envelopes, notecards, and business cards, using the visual identity for Wiki Ed created by David Peters of EXBROOK.

Jami Mathewson and LiAnna Davis co-authored an article in the September-October issue of Footnotes, the magazine of the American Sociological Association. The article describes ASA’s Wikipedia Initiative, and highlights students’ impact on sociology articles on Wikipedia over the last three years of the initiative. The article starts on Page 17 of the PDF.

Blog posts:

News coverage:

2.4. Digital Infrastructure

Sage Ross (on the right) working with developers from WINTR out of their office in Seattle.

Sage Ross (on the right) working with developers from WINTR out of their office in Seattle.

This month, we broke digital ground with digital creative company WINTR on the Assignment Design Wizard, our forthcoming tool to help instructors design and customize Wikipedia assignments to fit their courses. Sage and the WINTR team began by identifying the key problems we want to solve — the current process for building a course page using our sample syllabus is too rigid, too tedious, and not very easy to use. From there, Sage and the development team created a prioritized list of requirements — the “product backlog” — that represents all the features we’d like to eventually build into this tool. Each requirement takes the form of a “user story”: a short statement, from the perspective of someone using the tool, of what they want to be able to do.

In late September, the WINTR team created the first high-fidelity mockups for the Assignment Design Wizard, which give a preview of what this tool will look like and how it will work. You can follow the development process as we go using our virtual project whiteboard. If you have ideas for what you’d like to see from this tool, or feedback on the progress so far, please get in touch with Sage. By early October, we expect to have a live prototype so that instructors and other Wikipedians can test the tool at every stage as it gets built.

3. Finance and Administration / Fundraising

3.1. Finance and Administration

  • Expenses for the month is $122,282 versus plan of $90,185, primarily due to finally getting into the office space and catching up on setup cost. Also start of WINTR contract that had also been delayed.
  • Year-to-date expenses are $482,962 versus plan of $553,046. Again difference primarily due to delay in getting into office resulting in savings in occupancy expenses and delayed expenditures in one-time office setup cost.

YTDexpenses102014 Expenses92014

The big news this month was receiving keys to our first office, on Officer’s Row in the Presidio of San Francisco, at the end of September. In the final week of the month, our office was sparsely furnished but bustling with activity. While we are still in the process of acquiring and setting up office furniture, staff have donated folding chairs and card tables to fill the gap, and meetings have happened with everyone sitting on the floor.

Bill and LiAnna unpacking new equipment.

Bill and LiAnna unpacking new equipment.

We’ve also been slowly discovering all the office basics we take for granted (a dish drainer, trash bags, packing tape, etc.), and the last one into the office usually has been texted a list of things to bring from home for that day that people already in the office have discovered we need!

Our top priority, however, was the espresso machine, which is up and working and keeping our staff awake and happy (although for the first week, the espresso had to be consumed from coffee mugs someone had brought from home). Since our office is a historic, 19th century officer’s home, we’re also taking care to treat it with respect despite the movement of furniture, boxes, and feet.

3.2. Fundraising and Partnerships

  • In September, the Wiki Education Foundation received a grant in the amount of $500,000 from a donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, in support of our work to expand the sustainability and scalability of the Classroom Program activities, including partnerships with universities and academic associations in the United States and Canada.
  • Also in September, with the help of communications consultant Jay Walsh and design strategist David Peters (EXBROOK), we have started to develop content and design of printed materials about the Wiki Education Foundation. These materials will provide general information on the organization to inform the public about our work and mission in general, acquaint partners and potential funders with the organization’s work and objectives, and conform with our strong commitment to transparency as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
  • We undertook a comprehensive assessment of financial needs this fiscal year, and solidified a short-term plan and timeline of fundraising (and friend raising) activities tailored to meet these needs. We continue to work on a long-term sustainability strategy which will be informed by future fundraising efforts.
  • As we establish ourselves in the foundation’s first office, we are also putting into place systems, processes, and best practices for fundraising and other operations.
  • We initiated general outreach to potential funders and partners to inform them of the Wiki Education Foundation’s work and explore opportunities for collaboration and support.

4. Board

In a phone meeting on September 29, the board established an audit committee and appointed Karen Twitchell, Karen George, and P. J. Tabit as its first members. The committee will oversee the integrity of the Wiki Education Foundation’s financial statements and reporting process, its accounting policies and procedures and internal control systems, the annual independent audit, and Wiki Ed’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Karen Twitchell, who has been in financial executive positions for more than 30 years, will serve as the inaugural chair of the audit committee.

5. Office of the ED

Current priorities:

  • Making the new office a productive environment
    • Planning our pilot with high-achieving students
    • Preparing for the in-person board meeting in November

In early September, the senior leadership team of the Wiki Education Foundation sent the first draft of the 2014–15 annual plan off to the board. The plan is split in two parts. The first section looks back at the work achieved between July 2013 and June 2014, the second part develops a picture of what the Wiki Education Foundation is planning to achieve until the end of June 2015. On September 29, the board provided feedback on the draft. We’re planning to deliver the second and final version to the board in mid-October. This will be the first time that our organization has developed a fully fleshed out annual plan that sets the direction for the upcoming year.

On September 12, Frank Schulenburg spoke at the conference “Digital Transformation – Impacts on Research, Science, and Teaching” in San Francisco. The event had been organized by the Georg-August University Göttingen and was attended by the university’s president Ulrike Beisiegel, vice president Norbert Lossau, and about 50 alumni of the University of Göttingen. Frank’s presentation “Wiki Education – a Changing Paradigm in Education” introduced the conference participants, most of them researchers and scientists at U.S. universities, to the idea of teaching with Wikipedia. The second day of the conference concluded with a formal reception at the German Consulate General.

Sara Crouse at her Quarterly Review on September 30.

Sara Crouse at her Quarterly Review on September 30.

On September 30, we conducted the fourth quarterly review this year with Sara Crouse reporting on her fundraising work. Quarterly reviews increase our accountability towards internal and external stakeholders and they keep the Wikipedia community informed about ongoing development. The review sessions also enable everybody on staff to learn about the work done in other areas. This is a crucial precondition for people from different parts of the organization not working in isolated silos and for maximizing alignment between departments. With this in mind, Sara also gave a general introduction to fundraising for a non-profit organization, and provided information about the early history of our programmatic activities for our newest staff members.

6. Visitors and Guests

  • David Peters, EXBROOK
  • Jay Walsh, communications consultant
  • Floor Koudijs, Wikimedia Foundation



by Eryk Salvaggio at October 10, 2014 05:34 PM

October 09, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - #Statistics are a #data game

The Wikidata statistics are a marvel. They exist in their own little corner of the Wikiverse and rely on the dumps that are regularly produced. When everything is fine, a refresh is generated automatically. Some crazy people find them of interest and go over the numbers trying to understand what is happening. Every now and again, they are amazed or appalled.

Recently the dumps who are available in JSON changed its format in the midst of a dump. The resulting hodge podge of data made the statistics unrealistic. Magnus was on a holiday. Yes, he has a real life, so it took a bit of time before he reasoned his way out of the mess.

It is wonderful that our community has people like Erik Zachte and Magnus Manske. They spend so much time and effort in providing us with meaningful statistics. It is important to remember that they rely on underlying data and it is their skills that ensures that the data remains comparable over time.

NB Currently 56,83% of the Wikidata items have 0, 1 or 2 statements.. :)

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 09, 2014 06:49 AM

October 08, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Welcome, Renée, Ian, and Adam!

I’m happy to announce three new staff members to the Wiki Education Foundation this week. Renée LeVesque joined us as the Executive Assistant to the ED, and Adam Hyland and Ian Ramjohn are our new Wikipedia Content Experts.

Renée has been working in arts and non-profit settings for more than ten years, and she’s excited about connecting and empowering people through educational resources. She’s an events manager by training and recently served as the Artistic Director of the Center Camp Stage at Burning Man. Prior to this, she worked as a Project and Administrative Manager for Ritual Coffee Makers and as a Program Assistant and Publicist for The New Conservatory Theatre. As Executive Assistant to the ED, she is the primary point of contact for internal and external stakeholders on all matters concerning the office of the Executive Director. Renée reports to me.

In her free time, Renée teaches theater in the Bay Area and works with schools and teachers to create learning experiences. She has also led after-school programming in San Francisco Unified, created drama programs in Oakland schools, and recently began working with Cal Shakes to bring drama and Shakespeare to schools in other parts of the East Bay.

Also joining us this week are Adam and Ian, our new part-time Wikipedia Content Experts. In this role, they work closely with other editors and subject matter experts to identify content gaps in articles and topic areas. The Content Experts also monitor and evaluate student contributions to articles, and provide feedback to student editors to ensure the content students add is of high quality. We’ve hired experts for two content areas, Sciences and Humanities. Both Adam and Ian report to Helaine Blumenthal, the Classroom Program Manager.

Adam Hyland is the new Wikipedia Content Expert, Humanities. Adam has been an active Wikipedia editor and administrator for nearly six years, with more than 22,000 edits and dozens of Good and Featured Article reviews. He has been a volunteer with us since the program’s pilot in 2010, providing extremely valuable support to many classes and instructors over the last four years. While his degree is in economics from the University of Wisconsin, Adam has also studied the fields of cultural anthropology and digital humanities.

Ian Ramjohn is the new Wikipedia Content Expert, Sciences. Ian, who has a Ph.D. in plant ecology from Michigan State University, also brings a tremendous history on Wikipedia as a content contributor and administrator. He has more than 40,000 edits since 2004, with two featured articles, two featured lists, five Good Articles, and 48 articles highlighted in the “Did You Know?” section of Wikipedia’s main page. Most of his contributions have focused on botany and ecology, such as biographies of scientists, and articles about his home country, Trinidad and Tobago.

Join us in welcoming Renée, Ian, and Adam to the Wiki Education Foundation!

Frank Schulenburg
Executive Director

by Frank Schulenburg at October 08, 2014 10:06 PM

Wikimedia UK

“There’s a lot of benefit both ways”: John Byrne and the Royal Society

This post was written by Joe Sutherland

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Established in 1660, the Royal Society is dedicated to preserving and promoting science expertise. From its base in central London, it serves as the United Kingdom’s academy for the sciences, boasting a wide portfolio of fellows from every walk of scientific life.

Though rooted in tradition, they are very keen to spread their prowess into the digital realm. John Byrne, a Wikipedian since late 2006, jumped at the opportunity to join them as a part-time Wikipedian in Residence for six months in 2014.

“The Royal Society sees itself as having the lead in the presentation of science to the general public,” John explains, “and that’s a big concern, so it’s very interested in the popularisation of science. They hold lectures, they have book prizes for popular books about science.

“It sees Wikipedia in that context. Wikipedia fits very well into that,” he adds.

During his time with the Royal Society, John helped to organise a number of events for the public and academia alike.

“The project involved several public events, mostly training workshops, where we had a lot of helpers from the existing community, and that was great. It was harder to involve the wider scientific editing community, but we did manage that in some cases.

“There were various aspects: there were editing workshops, there was work getting images released, and we got public subscriptions to the Royal Society’s journals for a number of Wikipedians.”

Even before John started working with the Royal Society, he was already getting involved with events. He played a key role in Ada Lovelace Day 2012 before he arrived as Wikipedian in Residence, as well as organising events for International Women’s Day during his tenure there. Both were dedicated to improving the site’s coverage of women in science.

“They were both very successful training editathons,” John says, “concentrating on the biographies of women scientists which is a real issue in the scientific sector. Both of those were tremendously successful with a really great crew.

John Byrne at the Royal Society

John Byrne at the Royal Society
Photo: User:Rock drum, CC-BY-SA 4.0

“It’s actually harder to do on other subjects,” he continues, “but women in science is a topic that’s very easy to recruit for, and you get excellent results.”

“We were very lucky that both the women’s events were addressed by female fellows of the Royal Society, who came in especially which was tremendous. Ada Frith actually trained in the Ada Lovelace Day and produced two articles which is great. They were really good days, both of them.”

That the Royal Society has such influence in the field is a fact not lost on John, who is keen to develop a strong working relationship with the organisation. He feels Wikipedia’s information can be enhanced with the Society’s involvement.

“The Royal Society is the most prestigious organisation in the scientific sector, and it gives Wikipedia credibility, and other organisations in the sector have looked at that partnership.”

Since they were already quite interested in getting involved with digital output and the spreading of their knowledge, John found no resistance while working with them. “The Royal Society is really keen to continue collaborating with Wikipedia, which is great, because not all Wikipedian in Residence projects have had that result,” he says.

“They’d already been working with Wikipedia for about two years before I became involved, and they’re very keen to go on. We’ve learned a lot of lessons about what to do and what not to do, and I’m confident that the programme will keep going at some level.”

John feels that continuing a partnership would bring benefits to both sides of the equation. “There’s a lot of benefit both ways for the Royal Society and Wikipedia working together. We get improved content, and they get improved coverage of science generally, which is a large part of what they’re about,” he explains.

“With other scientific institutions, there’s a mutual benefit in improving Wikipedia content, and improving coverage especially addressed to the wider public of their area of science.”

by Stevie Benton at October 08, 2014 04:01 PM

Sumana Harihareswara

How I made a tidepool: Implementing the Friendly Space Policy for Wikimedia Foundation technical events

Back when I worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, I used the Ada Initiative's anti-harassment policy as a template and turned it into the Friendly Space Policy covering tech events run by WMF. I offer you this case study because I think reading about the social and logistical work involved might be inspiring and edifying, and to ask you to please donate to the Ada Initiative today.

Donate now

Wikimedia hackathon in Berlin, 2012, by Guillaume Paumier (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons I was working for Wikimedia Foundation for ~8 months before I broached the topic of a conference anti-harassment policy with the higher-ups - my boss & my boss's boss, both of whom liked the idea and backed me 100%. (I did not actually ask HR, although in retrospect I could have.) My bosses both knew that Not So Great things happen at conferences and they saw why I wanted this. They said they'd have my back if I got any flak.

So I borrowed the Ada Initiative's policy and modified it a little for our needs, and placed my draft on a subpage of my user page on our wiki. Then I briefly announced it to the mailing list where my open source community, MediaWiki, talks. I specifically framed this as not a big deal and something that lots of conferences were doing, and said I wanted to get it in place in time for the hackathon later that month. Approximately everyone in our dev community said "sure" or "could this be even broader?" or "this is a great idea", as you can see in that thread and in the wiki page's history and the talk page.

Sumana with two other women running Wikimedia hackathon in Berlin, 2012, by Yves Tennevin [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons I usually telecommuted to WMF, but I happened to be in San Francisco in preparation for the hackathon, and was able to speak to colleagues in person. My colleague Dana Isokawa pointed out that the phrasing "Anti-harassment policy" was offputting. I agreed with her that I'd prefer something more positive, and I asked some colleagues for suggestions on renaming it. My colleague Heather Walls suggested "Friendly Space Policy". In a pre-hackathon prep meeting, I mentioned the new policy and asked whether people liked the name "Friendly Space Policy," and everyone liked it.

Sumana teaching a Git workshop at Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam, 2013, by Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, The Netherlands (Wikimedia Hackathon 2013, Amsterdam) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons So I made it an official Policy; I announced it to our developer community and I put it on wikimediafoundation.org.

This might have been the end of it. But a day later, I saw a question from one community member on the more general community-wide mailing list that includes other Wikimedia contributors (editors/uploaders/etc.). That person, who had seen but not commented on the discussion on the wiki or on the developers' list, wanted to slow down adoption and proposed some red tape: a requirement that this policy be passed by a resolution of the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees (so, basically, the ultimate authority on the topic).

Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam in 2013, by User:Multichill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons But approximately everyone on the community-wide list also thought the policy was fine -- both volunteers and paid WMF staffers. For instance, one colleague said:

"If a policy makes good sense, we clearly need it, and feedback about the text is mostly positive, then we should adopt it. Rejecting a good idea because of process wonkery is stupid.

Sumana is not declaring that she gets to force arbitrary rules on everyone whenever she wants. She is solving a problem for us."

My boss's boss also defended the policy, as did a member of the Board of Trustees.

"Perhaps you misread the width of this policy. Staff can and generally do set policies affecting WMF-run processes and events."

I didn't even have to respond on-list since all these other guys (yes, nearly all or all guys) did my work for me.

Sumana and other Wikimedians enjoying a canal ride during the Amsterdam 2013 hackathon, by Andy Mabbett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons I was so happy to receive deep and wide support, and to help strengthen the legitimacy of this particular kind of governance decision: consensus, including volunteers, led by a particular WMF staffer. And, even though I had only proposed it for a particularly limited set of events (Wikimedia-sponsored face-to-face technical events), the idea spread to other affiliated organizations (such as Wikimedia UK) and offline events (Wikimania, our flagship conference -- thank you, Sarah Stierch, for your work on that!). And the next year, a volunteer led a session at Wikimania to discuss a potential online Friendly Space Policy:

"Explore what elements are essential for you in such a policy and what we can do collectively to adopt such a policy for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia websites."

Lydia Pintscher and Lila Tretikov at the Wikimedia hackathon in Zurich, 2014, by Ludovic P (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons So perhaps someday, all Wikipedia editors and other Wikimedia contributors will enjoy a safer environment, online as well as offline! I feel warm and joyous that the discussion I launched had, and is having, ripple effects. I felt like I took a gamble, and I looked back to see why it worked. A few reasons:

  • The Ada Initiative's template. I cannot imagine writing something that good from scratch. Having that template to customize for our needs made this gamble possible at all.
  • I started the discussion in January 2012; I had joined Wikimedia Foundation (part-time) in March 2011. So I had already built up a bunch of community cred and social capital.
  • In early 2012, open source citizens saw more and more reports of hostile behavior at conferences; people saw the need for a policy.
  • I added "or preferred Creative Commons license" to the big list of attributes (gender, disability, etc.), which gave the document a touch of Wikimedia-specific wit right at the start of the policy.
  • Sumana teaching a workshop participant at the Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam, 2013, by Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, The Netherlands (Wikimedia Hackathon 2013) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons I balanced decisiveness and leadership with openness to others' ideas.
  • Honestly, I narrowly focused the policy to an area where my opinion carried weight and I held some legitimate authority (both earned and given), phrased my announcement nonchalantly and confidently, and ran the consensus process pretty transparently. I believe it was hard to disagree without looking like a jerk. ;-)

(If you can privately talk with decisionmakers who have have top-down authority to implement a code of conduct, then you can use another unfortunate tool: point to past incidents that feel close, because they happened to your org or to ones like it.)

Indic Wikimedians gathering at Wikimania, 9 August 2013 in Hong Kong, by Subhashish Panigrahi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons By implementing our Friendly Space Policy, I created what I think of as a tidepool:

"...places where certain people can sort of rest and vent and collaborate, and ask the questions they feel afraid of asking in public, so they can gain the strength and confidence to go further out, into the invite-only spaces or the very public spaces....spaces where everybody coming in agrees to follow the same rules so it's a place where you feel safer -- these are like tidepools, places where certain kinds of people and certain kinds of behavior can be nurtured and grown so that it’s ready to go out into the wider ocean."

With the help of the Ada Initiative's policy adoption resources, you can make a place like that too -- and if you feel that you don't have top-down authority, perhaps that no one in your community does, then take heart from my story. If you have a few allies, you don't have to change the ocean. You can make a tidepool, and that's a start.

Donate now

October 08, 2014 12:01 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Does Mr Ulibarri live and when he does, then what ?

According to the #Portuguese #Wikipedia, Mr Ulibarri died. The date of his demise was given as June 1 2014. It was marked in a category of people who died, then it was picked up by tools and consequently Mr Ulibarri was marked as dead in Wikidata.

According to some, unsourced facts should not be in Wikidata and a Wikipedia is not a source. It is part of a blame game; I was accused of entering wrong information.

I prefer to live by the motto that I am proud of the mistakes I make; they prove that I am productive. Realistically, Wikidata has hardly any sources when you remove all the Wikipedias from the equation. Errors will be included all the time by me and by countless others. There is no helping that.

For those Wikipedias who expect sources for all statements; tough. It won't happen any time soon. The best that can be expected is that comparisons are made. Differences will be found in that way and they can be fixed where needed. In the case of Mr Ulibarri it is suggested that it is a case of mistaken identities. A Mr Marinho Chagas died, he was also a soccer star.  Mr Ulibarri's full name however is Mario Peres Ulibarri, he is also known as Marinho Peres.

An unanimous user edited the Portuguese Wikipedia and made Mr Ulibarri live again. It was commented that there are no sources for his demise. I am happy for Mr Ulibarri that it turned out all right for him.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 08, 2014 07:50 AM

October 07, 2014


Docker and Salt Redux

Recently I was digging into salt innards again; that meant it was time to dust off the old docker salt-cluster script and shoehorn a few more features in there.

Salt up close and personal.

NaCl up close and personal.

There are some couples that you just know ought to get themselves to a relationship counselor asap. Docker and SSHD fall smack dab into that category. [1]  When I was trying to get my base images for the various Ubuntu distros set up, I ran into issues with selinux, auditd and changed default config options for root, among others. The quickest way to deal with all these annoyances is to turn off selinux on the docker host and comment the heck out of a bunch of things in various pam configs and the sshd config.

The great thing about Docker though is that once you have your docker build files tested and have created your base images from those, starting up containers is relatively quick. If you need a configuration of several containers from different images with different things installed you can script that up and then with one command you bring up your test or development environment in almost no time.

Using this setup, I was able to test multiple combinations of salt and master versions on Ubuntu distros, bringing them up in a minute and then throwing them away when done, with no more concern than for tossing a bunch of temp files. I was also able to model our production cluster (running lucid, precise and trusty) with the two versions of salt in play, upgrade it, and poke at salt behavior after the upgrade.

A good dev-ops is a lazy dev-ops, or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyways, I can be as lazy as the best of ‘em, and so when it came to setting up and testing the stock redis returner on these various salt and ubuntu versions, that needed to be scriptified too; changing salt configs on the fly is a drag to repeat manually. Expect, ssh, cp and docker ps are your best friends for something like this. [2]

In the course of getting the redis stuff to work, I ran across some annoying salt behavior, so before you run into it too, I’ll explain it here and maybe save you some aggravation.

The procedure for setting up the redis returner included the following bit:

- update the salt master config with the redis returner details
– restart the master
– copy the update script to the minions via salt

This failed more often than not, on trusty with 2014.1.10. After these steps, the master would be seen to be running, the minions were running, a test.ping on all the minions came back showing them all responsive, and yet… no script copy.

The first and most obvious thing is that the salt master restart returns right away, but the master is not yet ready to work. It has to read keys, spawn worker threads, each of those has to load a pile of modules, etc.  On my 8-core desktop, for 25 workers this could take up to 10 seconds.

Salt works on a sub/pub model [3], using ZMQ as the underlying transport mechanism for this. There’s no ack from the client; if the client gets the message, it runs the job if it’s one of the targets, and returns the results. If the client happens to be disconnected, it won’t get the message. Now salt minions do reconnect if their connection goes away but this takes time.

Salt (via ZMQ) also encrypts all messages. Upon restart, the master generates a new AES key, but the minions don’t learn about this til they receive their first message, typically with some job to run. They will try to use the key they had lying round from a minute ago to decrypt, fail, and then be forced to try again. But this retry takes time. And while the job will eventually be run and the results sent back to the master, your waiting script may have long since given up and gone away.

With the default salt config, the minion reconnect can take up to 5 seconds. And the minion re-auth retry can take up to 60 seconds. Why so long? Because in a production setting, if you restart the master and thousands of minions all try to connect at once, the thundering herd will kill you. So the 5 seconds is an upper limit, and each minion will wait a random amount of time up to that upper limit before reconnect. Likewise the 60 seconds is an upper limit for re-authentication. [4]

This means that after a master restart, it’s best to wait at least 15 seconds before running any job, 10 for master setup and 5 for the salt minion reconnect. This ensures that the salt minion will actually receive the job. (And after a minion restart, it’s best to wait at least 5 seconds before giving it any work to do, for the same reason.)

Then be sure to run your salt command with a nice long timeout of longer than 60 seconds. This ensures that the re-auth and the job run will get done, and the results returned to the master, before your salt command times out and gives up.

Now the truly annoying bit is that, in the name of perfect forward secrecy, an admittedly worthy goal, the salt master will regenerate its key after 24 hours of use, with the default config. And that means that if you happen to run a job within a few seconds of that regen, whenever it happens, you will hit this issue. Maybe it will be a puppet run that sets a grain, or some other automated task that trips the bug. Solution? Make sure all your scripts check for job returns allowing for the possibility that the minion had to re-auth.

Tune in next time for more docker-salt-zmq fun!

[1] Docker ssh issues on github
[2] Redis returner config automation
[3] ZMQ pub/sub docs
[4] Minion re-auth config and Running Salt at scale

by apergos at October 07, 2014 08:07 AM

October 06, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Michigan students’ science history article appears on the ‘Did You Know?’ section

“If you can’t communicate science,” Randy Olson wrote, “then you may as well not have done it.”

Explaining research to the public is a challenge for many scientists. One way the Wiki Education Foundation’s Classroom Program can enhance class assignments is by encouraging students to consider science communication issues while conducting their research.

Ariana Hall and Sydonie Schimler, from Anne McNeil’s Organic Chemistry of Macromolecules course at the University of Michigan, were two of the 1,400 student editors that participated in the spring 2014 term.

The pair worked to balance academic rigor with accessible language, and their contributions were featured on the “Did You Know?” section of Wikipedia’s front page on April 12, 2014, resulting in a ten-fold increase of traffic to that page.

Ariana Hall, University of Michigan

Ariana Hall, University of Michigan

“I was excited about this project,” Hall said. “I thought it was a good opportunity to research a new topic and practice writing about science for a general audience … our work seemed more impactful than a typical exam or paper. I enjoyed writing something that would be read by a broader audience than my course professor.”

First the pair identified a gap on Wikipedia’s science pages, settling on the historical significance of polyacetylene.

Sydonie Schimler, University of Michigan

Sydonie Schimler, University of Michigan

“The discovery that polyacetylene was a conducting organic polymer was enough to warrant a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2000, so we figured that it deserved a better, more easily readable description in a Wikipedia article,” Schimler said.

Campus Volunteer Ye Li, who is also the Chemistry Librarian from the University of Michigan Library, offered advice to guide Hall and Schimler through Wikipedia, from etiquette and image uploading tips to tools for finding resources to cite.

“We also got some great feedback from our reviewers on how to make the page more aesthetically pleasing and more accessible to non-scientists,” Schimler said.

While both students agreed the coursework was equal to that of a typical assignment, the challenge of writing for both scientists and the public lead them to appreciate issues in science communication.

“I had to really think about what I chose to include in the article, so that everyone could understand it and gain something new from it,” Schimler said. “It was a nice change to write something both more general, but also scientifically detailed.”

The knowledge Schimler and Hall compiled for their course lives on as a public resource. Along the way, the pair developed additional skills by describing their findings to a broader audience. Both are open to contributing to Wikipedia in the future.

“I think Wikipedia can be a great source for learning about science, particularly when there are good references,” Hall said.

Eryk Salvaggio
Communications Associate



by Eryk Salvaggio at October 06, 2014 06:54 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #41, 2014 (October 6, 2014)

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October 06, 2014 12:00 AM

October 05, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - Ümit Yaşar Toprak commander of al #Nusra and #NPOV

The "Neutral Point of View" is one of the guiding principles of Wikipedia. In science it is defined as:
the concept of a position formed without incorporating one's own prejudice
According to the article about him, Mr Toprak died in an air strike inside of Syria. The problem with the article however is in several of the categorisations; 20th-century criminals, 21st-century criminals, War crimes committed by Islamist militant groups. They imply that Mr Toprak was both a criminal and that he personally was responsible for war crimes.The article does not support this in any way.

There is no need to appreciate Mr Toprak but the argument to include him in such categories are obviously partisan. As these claims are not supported in the text, it makes Wikipedia partisan as a consequence. It undermines the Wikipedia validity as a source for this conflict and it removes the legitimacy of NPOV claims in other domains as well.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 05, 2014 07:44 AM

October 03, 2014

Mike Linksvayer


The first wiki[pedia]2journal article has been published: Dengue fever Wikipedia article, peer-reviewed version (PDF). Modern medicine comes online: How putting Wikipedia articles through a medical journal’s traditional process can put free, reliable information into as many hands as possible is the accompanying editorial (emphasis added):

As a source of clinical information, how does Wikipedia differ from UpToDate or, for that matter, a textbook or scholarly journal? Wikipedia lacks three main things. First, a single responsible author, typically with a recognized academic affiliation, who acts as guarantor of the integrity of the work. Second, the careful eye of a trained editorial team, attuned to publication ethics, who ensure consistency and accuracy through the many iterations of an article from submission to publication. Third, formal peer review by at least one, and often many, experts who point out conflicts, errors, redundancies, or gaps. These form an accepted ground from which publication decisions can be made with confidence.

In this issue of Open Medicine, we are pleased to publish the first formally peer-reviewed and edited Wikipedia article. The clinical topic is dengue fever. It has been submitted by the author who has made the most changes, and who has designated 3 others who contributed most meaningfully. It has been peer reviewed by international experts in infectious disease, and by a series of editors at Open Medicine. It has been copy-edited and proofread; once published, it will be indexed in MEDLINE. Although by the time this editorial is read the Wikipedia article will have changed many times, there will be a link on the Wikipedia page that can take the viewer back to the peer-reviewed and published piece on the Open Medicine website. In a year’s time, the most responsible author will submit the changed piece to an indexed journal, so it can move through the same editorial process and continue to function as a valid, reliable, and evolving free and complete reference for everyone in the world. Although there may be a need for shorter, more focused clinical articles published elsewhere as this one expands, it is anticipated that the Wikipedia page on dengue will be a reference against which all others can be compared. While it might be decades before we see an end to dengue, perhaps the time and money saved on exhaustive, expensive, and redundant searches about what yet needs to be done will let us see that end sooner.

I love that this is taking Wikipedia and commons-based peer production into a challenging product area, which if wildly successful, could directly challenge and ultimately destroy the proprietary competition. The editorial notes:

Some institutions pay UpToDate hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for that sense of security. This has allowed Wolters Kluwer, the owners of UpToDate, to accrue annual revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars and to forecast continued double-digit growth as “market conditions for print journals and books … remain soft.”

See the WikiProject Medicine collaborative publication page for more background on the process and future developments. Note at least 7 articles have been published in journal2wiki[pedia] fashion, see PLOS Computational Biology and corresponding Wikipedia articles. Ideally these 2 methods would converge on wiki↔journal, as the emphasized portion of the quote above seems to indicate.

Peer review of Wikipedia articles and publication in another venue in theory could minimize dependencies and maximize mutual benefit between expert authoring (which has historically failed in the wiki context, see Nupedia and Citizendium) and mass collaboration (see challenges noted by editorial above). But one such article only demonstrates the concept; we’ll see whether it becomes an important method, let alone market dominating one.

One small but embarrassing obstacle to wiki↔journal is license incompatibility. PLOS journals use CC-BY-4.0 (donor-only relative to following; the version isn’t important for this one) and Wikipedia CC-BY-SA-3.0 (recipient-only relative to previous…and following) and Open Medicine CC-BY-SA-2.5-Canada (donor-only relative to the immediately previous) — meaning if all contributors to the Dengue fever Wikipedia article did not sign off, the journal version is technically not in compliance with the upstream license. Clearly nobody should care about this second issue, except for license stewards, who should mitigate the problem going forward: all previous versions (2.0 or greater due to lack of a “later versions” provision in 1.0) of CC-BY-SA should be added to CC-BY-SA-4.0’s compatibility list, allowing contributions to go both ways. The first issue unfortunately cannot be addressed within the framework of current licenses (bidirectional use could be avoided, or contributors could all sign off, either of which would be outside the license framework).

Daniel Mietchen (who is a contributor to the aforementioned journal2wiki effort, and just about everything else relating to Wikipedia and Open Access) has another version of his proposal to open up research funding proposals up at the Knight News Challenge: Libraries site. Applaud and comment there if you like, as I do (endorsement of previous version).

Near the beginning of the above editorial:

New evidence pours in to the tune of 12 systematic reviews per day, and accumulating the information and then deciding how to incorporate it into one’s practice is an almost impossible task. A study published in BMJ showed that if one hoped to take account of all that has been published in the relatively small discipline of echocardiography, it would take 5 years of constant reading—by which point the reader would be a year behind.

A similar avalanche of publishing can be found in any academic discipline. It is conceivable that copyright helps, providing an incentive for services like UpToDate. My guess is that it gets in the way, both by propping up arrangements oriented toward pumping out individual articles, and by putting up barriers (the public license incompatibility mentioned above is inconsequential compared to the paywalled, umitigated copyright, and/or PDF-only case which dominates) to collaborative — human and machine — distillation of the states of the art. As I wrote about entertainment, do not pay copyright holders, for a good future.

by <span class='p-author h-card'>Mike Linksvayer</span> at October 03, 2014 04:05 AM

October 02, 2014

Wiki Education Foundation

Welcome, Helaine and Eryk!

I am pleased to announce the hire of two new staff members. Helaine Blumenthal is the new Classroom Program Manager and Eryk Salvaggio is the new Communications Associate. Both joined the Programs team on September 29.

Helaine Blumenthal

Helaine Blumenthal

Helaine, a native New Yorker, completed her PhD in European and Jewish history at UC Berkeley in 2012. She has worked as a content developer for online textbooks and has shared her lifelong passion for history as a Graduate Student Instructor at Berkeley. As Classroom Program Manager, Helaine will be developing relationships with instructors, volunteers, and Wikipedia editors to expand our support for program activities. Helaine is responsible for on-boarding and mentoring the instructors who teach Wikipedia classroom assignments and the Wikipedia Ambassadors who support them (both in-person and online). She helps design assignments that make sense for both the student learning and for Wikipedia, and she supports program participants to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to be successful. Helaine is excited to bring her extensive experience in higher education and academia to the Wiki Education Foundation. She has a passion for languages and is an avid (and experimental) chef.

Eryk Salvaggio

Eryk Salvaggio

Eryk joins us after completing an MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and three years writing and teaching English in Fukuoka, Japan. As Communications Associate, Eryk will be responsible for creating communications materials, including literature to assist program participants and blog posts highlighting the stories from the programs. He will serve as our point of contact for the Wikipedia editing community, the media, and others interested in learning more about the Wiki Education Foundation and our program. A New England native, he has a long interest in digital democracy initiatives and communications studies. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and photography.

I’m really excited to have a full Programs team in place, ready to expand the Wiki Education Foundation’s work connecting Wikipedia and academia. Please join me in welcoming Helaine and Eryk.

LiAnna Davis
Director of Programs

by LiAnna Davis at October 02, 2014 11:42 PM

Wikimedia UK

Thoughts after three years

Photo shows a close up of Jon Davies speaking on a stage

Jon Davies presenting at Wikimania 2014

Under the pressure of getting our funding application to the Wikimedia Foundation’s FDC in yesterday morning I suddenly realised it was my third anniversary of being CEO at Wikimedia UK. As my colleague Fabian sitting next to me said, we’ve done quite a lot really haven’t we!

I still reminisce about that first day in 2011 when I discovered our volunteer community and its vast range and the fun we had at the Herbert Museum Backstage pass in Coventry.

Rather more measurable, and going back to the day’s main task, this is the third FDC application we have made. In the first year it was an ever so slightly panicked event with Doug Taylor, a trustee at the time, and I putting it together over a long weekend. Last year was a little better organised, though it needed Daria Cybulska breaking into her holidays and working from her parent’s house to make sure we met our deadlines.

This year has been a smoother process, despite tight deadlines, but demonstrates the amazing journey we have made over the last 1096 days even if there were a few bumps in the road!

by Stevie Benton at October 02, 2014 04:30 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Francesca Morvillo assassinated by the #maffia

Mr Morvillo and her husband were assassinated by the mafia in 1992. It is important to remind ourselves that organisations that consider themselves a law unto themselves are lethal and parasitic by nature.

All kinds of everything are researched and, the "gender divide" is a favourite uncontroversial subject in the Wikimedia world. FYI there are over 1,907,292 men and 352,006 women known to Wikidata. Given the high numbers the ratio between them is likely to remain the same even though there are still some  275,400 known humans to be sexed.

As I was adding men, I found it peculiar that a Mr Morvillo whose first name is Francesca was considered to be a male. A picture was associated with this person on the Italian Wikipedia and the associated text left no doubt: he was a she,

When you are adding information all the time, there are bound to be numerous errors. It was a fluke that I caught on to this one, There is no doubt that by importing information wholesale from the Wikipedias, many factual errors are introduced in Wikidata. That cannot be helped. Comparing information with other sources will indicate likely errors. Such comparisons is how we can ensure a quality that is at least as good as all the rest,

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at October 02, 2014 07:19 AM

October 01, 2014

Wikimedia UK

Edit-on dudes: #ClassicsWomen are into Wikipedia

The photo shows a group of nine people around a table, smiling for the camera

A photo from the editing event

This post was written by Claire Millington, a Classics PhD student at Kings College London. It was first published on her blog here

This week, after a lot of planning and persuading people to get involved, I ran a Wikipedia editathon to create and improve the pages of women who have been important to classics disciplines. (And I mean disciplines – philology, archaeology, history, ancient theatre, epigraphy, numismatics – the list goes on.)

The idea came about after I went to a conference about over a dozen women in modern history who have made astounding contributions to classics – but who I’d never heard of! Even though I unknowingly am influenced by their work pretty much every day I study.

Astonishingly, I realised that it is not a last-century development that women have been grappling with the thorniest problems of translation, publishing, teaching, engaging in classics scholarship at the highest levels – even gaining public recognition for this – but that women have been doing this throughout the modern period. So, having learned something and fixed my own misperceptions, I wanted to do something that would in a tiny way make it easier for other people to also see what – and when – were these achievements. Where better to do this than in the pages of Wikipedia?

The conference offered a list of names of classicists who deserved good Wikipedia pages, and I started to contact people to see who else I didn’t know was notable. Academics were enthusiastic, suggesting more names – and adding archaeologists to the list.* The Institute of Classical Studies gave me a room and morning coffee. Wikimedia provided trainers and lunch. University libraries loaned me enough books to fill two suitcases, ensuring we’d excellent resources to use on the day – particular thanks are due to the ICS, Senate House and the Institute of Archaeology libraries. The brilliant Dr Rosie Wyles who had organised the original conference agreed to come to tell us about ‘Madame Dacier: 17th-century champion for access’.

I tweeted and emailed, and waited, hoping, that a sensible number of people would turn up.

I need not have worried. Some nine Wikipedia ‘newbies’ came, most in person, two via Skype, and were trained by three Wikimedia trainers. The morning was intensive, as we learned the technical aspects of editing Wikipedia, and discussed more generally the requirements of any encyclopaedia, to be a summary and signpost of what already exists; a means of disseminating existing information rather than a place to create new knowledge.

In practical terms this means avoiding creating original research on its pages, giving a neutral point of view and avoiding conflicts of interest – important for scholars who are experts on their life’s work, but who also have personal interests at stake.

We started editing the pages selected, people expressing surprise that there were whole books published about people who yet were barely mentioned in Wikipedia. This was something the editathon aimed to put right and the room buzzed as we created and improved these scholars’ pages.

Still, by two o clock, we were ready for a change of pace and to listen to Dr Wyles’ talk, arguing that Madame Dacier had not only been a brilliant classicist, but had also in some respects been influential in opening up the study of classics to women.

With another editing session in the afternoon we were able to make a decent stab at our list. Margery Venables Taylor, archaeologist, president and long-time secretary of the Roman Society, had a Wikipedia page created, as did Roman epigraphist, Joyce Reynolds. The pages of Eugénie Sellers Strong, Anna Maria van Schurman, Gisela Richter, Betty Radice, Virginia Grace, and, of course, Anne Dacier, all received editors’ attention.

Was it a success? In terms of what it set out to do, I think so. A lot of enthusiasm and goodwill was also generated, and it showed how classicists and academics can get involved – as many do – with the great resource that is Wikipedia to share what we know about our particular subjects.

And I hear that further editathons are being planned on academic subjects, which I hope will bear fruit!

*The original conference focused on philologists as there has been more scholarly work already done on archaeologists – this seems perfectly reasonable to me.

by Stevie Benton at October 01, 2014 02:03 PM

Wikimedia Suomi (WMFI - English)

GLAMs and GLAMWiki Toolset

GLAMWiki Toolset project is a collaboration between various Wikimedia chapters and Europeana. The goal of the project is to provide easy-to-use tools to make batch uploads of GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) content to Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Finland invited the senior developer of the project, Dan Entous, to Helsinki to hold a GW Toolset workshop for the representatives of GLAMs and staff of Wikimedia Finland on 10th September. The workshop was first of its kind outside Netherlands.

GLAMWikiToolset training in Helsinki.

GLAMWikiToolset training in Helsinki. Photo: Teemu Perhiö. CC-BY

I took part in the workshop in the role of tech assistant of Wikimedia Finland. After the workshop I have been trying to figure out what is needed for using the toolset from a GLAM perspective. In this text I’m concentrating on the technical side of these requirements.

What is needed for GWToolset?

From a technical point of view, the use of GWToolset can be split into three sections. First there are things that must be done before using the toolset. The GWToolset requires metadata as a XML file that is structured in a certain way. The image files must also be addressable by direct URLs and the domain name of the image server must be added to the upload whitelist in Commons.

The second section concerns practices in Wikimedia Commons itself. This means getting to know the templates, such as institution, photograph, artwork and other templates, as well as finding the categories that are suitable for uploaded material. For someone who is not a Wikipedian – like myself – it takes a while to get know the templates and especially the categories.

The third section is actually making the uploads by using the toolset itself, which I find easy to use. It has a clear workflow and with little assistance there should be no problems for GLAMs using it. Besides, there is a sandbox called Commons Beta where one can rehearse before going public.

I believe that the bottleneck for GLAMs is the first section: things that must be done before using the toolset. More precisely, creating a valid XML file for the toolset. Of course, if an organisation has a competent IT department with resources to work with material donations to Wikimedia Commons, then there is no problem. However, this could be a problem for smaller – and less resourceful – organisations.

Converting metadata in practise

Like I said, the GWToolset requires an XML file with a certain structure. As far as I know, there is no information system that could directly produce such a file. However, most of the systems are able to export metadata in XML format. Even though the exported file is not valid for GWToolset, it can be converted into such with XSLT.

XSLT is designed to this specific task and it has a very powerful template mechanism for XML handling. This means that the amount of code stays minimal compared to any other options. The good news is that XML transformations are relatively easy to do.

XSLT is our friend when it comes to XML manipulation.

XSLT is our friend when it comes to XML manipulation.

In order to learn what is needed for such transforms with real data, I made couple of practical demos. I wanted to create a very lightweight solution for transforming the metadata sets for the GWToolset. Modern web browsers are flexible application platforms and for example web-scraping can be done easily through Javascript.

A browser-based solution has many advantages. The first is that every Internet user already has a browser. So there is no downloading, installing or configuring needed. The second advantage is that browser-based applications that use external datasets do not create traffic to the server where the application is hosted. Browsers can also be used locally. This allows organisations to download the page files, modify them, make conversions locally in-house, and have their materials on Wikimedia Commons.

XSLT requires of course a platform to run. There is a javascript library called Saxon-CE that provides the platform for browsers. So, a web browser offers all that is needed for metadata conversions: web scraping, XML handling and conversions through XSLT, and user interface components. Of course XSLT files can also be run in any other XSLT environment, like xsltproc.


Blenda and Hugo Simberg, 1896. source: The National Gallery of Finland

Blenda and Hugo Simberg, 1896. source: The National Gallery of Finland, CC BY 4.0

The first demo I created uses an open data image set published by the Finnish National Gallery. It consists of about one thousand digitised negatives of and by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg. The set also includes digitally created positives of images. The metadata is provided as a single XML file.

The conversion in this case is quite simple, since the original XML file is flat (i.e. there are no nested elements). Basically the original data is passed through as it is with few exceptions.  The “image” element in original metadata includes only an image id, which must be expanded to a full URL. I used a dummy domain name here, since images are available as a zip-file and therefore cannot be addressed individually. Another exception is the “keeper” element, which holds the name of the owner organisation. This was changed from the Finnish name of the National Gallery to a name that corresponds to their institutional template name in Wikimedia Commons.

example record:
source metadata:
conversion demo:
direct link to the XSLT:

Photo: Signe Brander. source: Helsinki City Museum, CC BY-ND 4.0

Photo: Signe Brander. source: Helsinki City Museum, CC BY-ND 4.0

In the second demo I used the materials provided by the Helsinki City Museum. Their materials in Finna are licensed with CC-BY-ND 4.0. Finna is an “information search service that brings together the collections of Finnish archives, libraries and museums”. Currently there is no API to Finna. Finna provides metadata in LIDO format but there is no direct URL to the LIDO file. However, LIDO can be extracted from the HTML.

The LIDO format is a deep format, so the conversion is mostly picking the elements from the LIDO file and placing them in a flat XML file. For example, the name of the author in LIDO is in a quite deep structure.

example LIDO record:
source metadata:
conversion demo:
(Please note that the demo requires that the same-origin-policy restrictions are loosened in the browser. The simplest way to do this is to use Google Chrome by starting it with a switch “disable-web-security”. In Linux that would be: google-chrome — disable-web-security and Mac (sorry, I can not test this) open -a Google\ Chrome –args –disable-web-security. For Firefox see this:http://www-jo.se/f.pfleger/forcecors-workaround)
direct link to the XSLT:


These demos are just examples, no actual data has yet been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. The aim is to show that XML conversions needed for GWToolset are relatively simple and that in order to use GWToolset the organisation does not have to have an army of IT-engineers.

The demos could be certainly better. For example, the author name must be changed to reflect the author name in Wikimedia Commons. But again, that is just a few lines in XSLT and that is done.

by Ari Häyrinen at October 01, 2014 07:22 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, September 2014

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png

Vol: 4 • Issue: 9 • September 2014 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

99.25% of Wikipedia birthdates accurate; focused Wikipedians live longer; merging WordNet, Wikipedia and Wiktionary

With contributions by: Scott Hale, Piotr Konieczny, Maximilian Klein, Andrew Krizhanovsky, Tilman Bayer and Pine

“Reliability of user-generated data: the case of biographical data in Wikipedia”

“Third Volume of a 1727 edition of Plutarch‘s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans printed by Jacob Tonson”; caption quoted from the Wikipedia article Biography

Review by User:Maximilianklein

0.75% of Wikipedia birthdates are inaccurate, reported Robert Viseur at WikiSym 2014.[1] Those inaccuracies are “low, although higher than the 0.21% observed for the baseline reference sources”. Given that biographies represent 15% of English Wikipedia,[supp 1] the third largest category after “arts” and “culture”, their accuracy is important. The method used was to find biographies that were both in Wikipedia and 9 reference databases, which are sadly not named due to the wishes of an “anonymous sponsor” of the paper (Red flag or Belgian bureaucracy?). Of 938 such articles found, those whose birthdates did not match in all 10 databases – 14.4% – were manually investigated. Some errors were due to coincidental names, thus proving the point for authority control in collecting data. One capping anecdote is that most of the mistakes in Wikipedia’s 0.75% were corrected in the intervening time between data collection and manual investigation. However, one may need to account for the sample bias that these were the biographies which existed in 10 separated databases – well known personalities. Therefore the predictive power of the study remains limited, but at least we know that some objective data on Wikipedia has the same order of magnitude error rate as other “reliable sources”.

Focused Wikipedians stay active longer

Group photo of Wikimedians at Wikimania 2012

A new preprint[2] by three Dublin-based computer scientists contributes to the debate around editor retention. The authors use techniques such as the topic modeling and non-negative matrix factorization. to categorize Wikipedians into several profiles (“e.g. content experts, social networkers”). Those profiles, or user roles, are based on namespaces that editors are most active in. The authors analyzed the behavior of about half a million Wikipedia editors. The authors find that short-term editors seem to lack interest in any one particular aspect of Wikipedia, editing various namespaces briefly before leaving the project. Long-term editors are more likely to focus on one or two namespaces (usually mainspace, plus article talk or user talk pages), and only after some time diversify to different namespaces; in other words, the namespace distribution of edits over time “predicts an editor’s departure from the community”. The authors note that “we show that understanding patterns of change in user behavior can be of practical importance for community management and maintenance”.

Unfortunately, the paper is heavy in jargon and statistical models, and provides little practical data (or at least, that data is not presented well). For example, the categorization of editors into seven groups is very interesting, but no descriptive data is presented that would allow us to compare the number of editors in each group. Further, the paper promises to use those profiles to predict editor lifecycles, but such models don’t seem to be present in the paper. In the end, this reviewer finds this paper to be an interesting idea that hopefully will develop into some research with meaningful findings – for now, however, it seems more of a theoretical analysis with no practical applications.

“WordNet-Wikipedia-Wiktionary: construction of a three-way alignment”

A Wiktionary logo

Reviewed by Andrew Krizhanovsky

The authors of this paper,[3] presented at the International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2014), integrated two previously constructed alignments for WordNet-Wikipedia and WordNet-Wiktionary into a three-way alignment WordNet-Wikipedia-Wiktionary. This integration results in lower accuracy, but greater coverage in comparison with two-way alignment.

Wiktionary does not provide a convenient and consistent means of directly addressing individual lexical items or their associated senses. Third-party tools such as the JWKTL (Java-based Wiktionary Library) API can overcome this problem.

Since the WordNet–Wikipedia alignment is for nouns only, the resulting synonym sets in the conjoint threeway alignment consist entirely of nouns. However, the full three-way alignment contains all parts of speech (adjectives, nouns, adverbs, verbs, etc.).

Larger synonym sets in the source data (WordNet and Wiktionary) results in more incorrect mapping in the outcome alignment (this is strange from the average person’s point of view and shows that the alignment algorithm is not perfect yet).

Informal examination shows that conjoint alignment is correct in general, but existing errors in the source alignments were magnified (snowball effect).


Measures of edit quality

A work-in-progress paper[4] reviews measures of edit quality on Wikipedia and reports the results of a pilot project to evaluate the “Persistent Word Revisions” (PWR)[supp 2] metric of edit quality with the ratings of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk users. PWR measures how much of an edit is preserved through subsequent revisions to the article. The paper only evaluates “a small pool of 63 total [Mechanical Turk] ratings of 10 [article] revisions” and therefore has no significant results. Nonetheless, the future validation on a much larger set of edits as promised in the paper should be useful to future researchers. It will also be useful to know how the distribution of PWR scores compare with other measures of article quality such as the quality assessments given by WikiProjects, nominations for Good Article or Featured Article status. A comparison with Adler et al.’s WikiTrust scores could also be valuable.

“A Wiki Framework for the Sweble Engine”

This master thesis[5] builds on previous work of professor Dirk Riehle’s research group at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg which had constructed a formal parser for MediaWiki wikitext, adding a web application that allows editing wikis based on this parser.

How quickly are drug articles updated after FDA warnings?

A short article[6] in the New England Journal of Medicine examined how quickly safety warnings by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 22 prescription drugs were incorporated into the corresponding Wikipedia articles. The authors “found that 41% of Wikipedia pages pertaining to the drugs with new safety warnings were updated within 2 weeks … The Wikipedia pages for drugs that were intended for treatment of highly prevalent diseases (affecting more than 1 million people in the United States) were more likely to be updated quickly (58% were updated within 2 weeks) than were those for drugs designed to treat less-prevalent conditions (20% were updated within 2 weeks …).” See also the discussion at WikiProject Medicine: 1 2

“Spiral of silence” in German Wikipedia’s image filter discussions

A paper titled “The Dispute over Filtering ‘indecent’ Images in Wikipedia”[7] examines disputes in 2010 and 2011 about controversial content on Wikipedia, and about the Wikimedia Foundation’s proposal for an opt-in image filter which would have allowed users to hide sexual or violent media for themselves (see the Signpost summary by this reviewer). The author finds that several of German sociologist Jürgen Habermas‘ criteria for public discourse apply to the lengthy discussions on the German Wikipedia about this topic (highlighting one talk page with 120 major threads that fill 175 pages in a PDF). “However, [Habermas'] criteria of rationality and objectivity seem to be less applicable. Compared to other areas of dispute in Wikipedia, the German discussions were civilized – but emotional.” The paper invokes the “spiral of silence” theory of public opinion to explain the German Wikipedia’s huge opposition to the Wikimedia Foundation’s plans: “the climate of opinion in the online discussions put supporters of the image filter under heavy pressure to conform or to be silent”. Finally, the paper reports on the results of a small web-based experiment where 163 participants were randomly shown one of three versions of the article de:Furunkel (boil): Either without images, or with a “neutral image”, or “with a somewhat disgusting image of an infected boil.” The author states that “The most interesting results for the Wikipedia community is that the disgusting image enhances the perceived quality of the article: It is perceived to be more fascinating (p=.023) and more worth reading (p=.032) than an article without any image.”

Other recent publications

A list of other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue – contributions are always welcome for reviewing or summarizing newly published research.


  1. VISEUR, Robert (2014). “Reliability of User-Generated Data:the Case of Biographical Data in Wikipedia”. WikiSym 2014. http://www.wikisym.org/os2014-files/proceedings/p606.pdf. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  2. Qin, Xiangju (29 July 2014). “A latent space analysis of editor lifecycles in Wikipedia“. Proc. of 5th International Workshop on Mining Ubiquitous and Social Environments (MUSE) at ECML/PKDD 2014. 
  3. Miller, Tristan; Iryna Gurevych (May 2014). “WordNet-Wikipedia-Wiktionary: construction of a three-way alignment”. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluations. http://files.nothingisreal.com/publications/Tristan_Miller/Miller_2014_WordNet.pdf.  data
  4. Biancani, Susan (2014). “Measuring the Quality of Edits to Wikipedia”. WikiSym 2014. http://www.wikisym.org/os2014-files/proceedings/p609.pdf. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  5. Liping Wang: A Wiki Framework for the Sweble Engine. Master thesis, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg 2014 PDF
  6. Hwang, Thomas J. (2014). “Drug Safety in the Digital Age“. New England Journal of Medicine 370 (26): 2460–2462. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1401767. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 24963564. 
  7. Thomas Roessing: The Dispute over Filtering “indecent” Images in Wikipedia. Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology Issue: 2/2013 PDF
  8. Britt, Brian C. (January 2014). “Evolution and revolution of organizational configurations on wikipedia: A longitudinal network analysis“. Purdue University.  Closed access
  9. Rijt, Arnout van de (28 April 2014). “Field experiments of success-breeds-success dynamics“. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 201316836. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316836111. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 24778230. 
  10. Lee, Kyungho (2014). “How collective intelligence emerges: knowledge creation process in Wikipedia from microscopic viewpoint”. Proceedings of the 2014 International Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces. AVI ’14. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 373–374. DOI:10.1145/2598153.2600040. ISBN 978-1-4503-2775-6. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2598153.2600040.  Closed access
  11. Temple, Norman J. (2014). “How accurate are Wikipedia articles in health, nutrition, and medicine? / Les articles de Wikipédia dans les domaines de la santé, de la nutrition et de la médecine sont-ils exacts ?“. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science 38 (1): 37–52. ISSN 1920-7239.  Closed access
  12. Joanne Robert: Community and the dynamics of spatially distributed knowledge production. The case of Wikipedia in: The social dynamics of innovation networks. edited by Roel Rutten, Paul Benneworth, Dessy Irawati, Frans Boekema p.179ff
  13. DeDeo, Simon (8 July 2014). “Group minds and the case of Wikipedia“. 
  14. Mesgari, Mostafa and Okoli, Chitu and Mehdi, Mohamad and Nielsen, Finn Årup and Lanamäki, Arto (2014) “The sum of all human knowledge”: A systematic review of scholarly research on the content of Wikipedia. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. ISSN 2330-1635 (In Press) PDF
Supplementary references and notes:
  1. Whats in Wikipedia?.
  2. Halfaker, A., Kittur, A., Kraut, R., & Riedl, J. (2009). A Jury. “A Jury of Your Peers: Quality, Experience and Ownership in Wikipedia”. WikiSym ’09. http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/A_Jury_of_Your_Peers/. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 4 • Issue: 9 • September 2014
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
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by wikimediablog at October 01, 2014 06:54 AM

September 30, 2014

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - #Category: #Cholmondeley Awards

A poet is proverbially poor. If there are any, it is not really an occupation but more of an aspiration to live off the high art of poetry. To celebrate great authors, great poets, organisations like the Society of Authors, recognise them with awards. Money may be involved, but the prestige, the awareness of the public is what makes the real difference for a poet.

The Cholondeley Award is to "honour distinguished poets" and, yes there is some money to be had; £8000 to be exact. There is still a category for the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who were awarded in the past. It is up for deletion because £8000 is considered chicken feed and also because awards are supposed to be in a list, not a category per WP:OC#AWARD.

It was a revelation for me that there is something like "over categorisation" in the first place. It means that categories are deleted. Wikipedia is a law unto itself and given "consensus", categories will be deleted. It is sad that all the work that went into the categorisation is deleted with those categories. It is even worse when the implied information is not first saved to Wikidata.

Categories distinguish themselves from lists because they can be found on every article that is categorised. Changes to article names are automatically reflected while Wikipedia lists are ... static. In Wikidata, lists can be defined up to a point and funnily enough this is not done for lists but it is done for categories.
The information from the category has been saved with AutoList2. Given that Wikidata often knows about more recipients of awards than any and all Wikipedias individually, the current emphasis on lists is silly. Wikidata will do a better job.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at September 30, 2014 06:34 AM

September 29, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

Round-table with editors from the Catalan Wikipedia

On September 5, 2014, the Language Engineering team hosted an online round-table with editors of the Catalan Wikipedia to discuss the Content Translation tool. Besides the translation editor and tools, the first release of Content Translation supported machine translation from Spanish to Catalan. This helped the editors work efficiently and explore the tool more deeply.

The initial feedback from editors was greatly encouraging. They liked the tool and were pleased by the tool’s ease of use. After a month of extensive use during which 160+ articles had been created and contributed to the Catalan Wikipedia, the team wanted to find out more about how the tool was being used on day-to-day editing workflows by the editors as well as gaps that the tool leaves unaddressed. The conversation resulted in valuable feedback from the editors, some of which has been presented below.

Screenshot of the Content Translation tool that shows the user a warning about a large amount of machine translated content in the translated article.

(Content-Translation-Warning.png, includes text from en:Tree, by Wikipedia contributors, under CC-BY-SA 3.0, and es:Árbol, by Wikipedia contributors, under CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Faster Editing: The editors unequivocally agreed that the tool provided an overall improvement in their workflow. They were able to create new articles faster and the high-quality machine translated drafts often needed very few corrections. Editor Xavi Bosch felt that he could create articles in approximately 30% of the time he originally needed before the tool was available. With the extra time gained, the editors could focus on fine-tuning the article. For instance, by adding more references.

Machine Translation: Content Translation uses Apertium as the machine translation engine. The editors expressed their satisfaction at the overall quality of translation provided by the tool. However, they suggested adding more checks that would identify articles which were largely unchanged. Presently, the user is warned when the tool detects when not much has been changed from the original translation. Pau Giner suggested exploring community best practices from the Catalan Wikipedia to create additional baselines for articles published using Content Translation.

Category Adaptation: After creating an article, the current setup on beta labs requires users to publish the article manually on the Catalan Wikipedia. This allows the editors to review the articles and prepare them for publication. The editors highlighted that categories are a major addition during these reviews and a feature to adapt categories would be a major benefit. Category adaption is a feature planned for development. The editors suggested:

  • inserting the translated equivalents of the categories in the original article, and
  • a feature to add new categories (similar to HotCat)

Article continuity through red links: At present, articles from the source language that are not present in the target language are not marked in the translated text. In wiki pages, these are marked as red links. Editors suggested that a similar indicator should be displayed in the published article. This will be especially helpful when creating closely linked articles like the ones recently created on the Catalan Wikipedia for the Fields Medal awardees.

Complementing the current tools: The Catalan Wikipedia editors also use several tools for typo correction and other aids. It was suggested to explore the possibility of integrating these tools to complement the current services provided through Content Translation. Editor B25es highlighted some long existing minor errors in the Apertium translation service that were being carried into Content Translation as well. The editors recommended extending Content Translation to learn from these known issues and provide corrections that would be beneficial.

Issues while publishing articles : On several occasions the editors had not been able to save a translated article. While some of this was due to the technical instability of the beta labs environment where the tool is currently hosted, the editors found some patterns and content where this error had been recurring. Articles with more visual content or complex templates (like football results) have often been problematic. In a few cases where the article was not saved, it was noticed that the sequence in which the paragraphs had been translated was similar. For instance in articles about Cédric Villani or Stanislav Smirnov. The development team has begun investigating these issues.

To know more, watch the recording of the conversation and read about the features of the upcoming release. If you haven’t tried the tool yet, please do so using these instructions. We would love to hear your feedback.

Runa Bhattacharjee, Outreach and QA coordinator, Language Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 29, 2014 06:45 PM