August 24, 2016

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly Report for July 2016


  • Wiki Ed welcomed Dr. Zachary McDowell as its Student Learning Outcomes Research Fellow. Zach has already started his work, engaging with instructors in various academic fields to create criteria for his research into learning outcomes from Wikipedia assignments.
  • Wiki Ed staff attended the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and the Allied Genetics conference, engaging dozens of instructors and students. At the ASPB event, Wiki Ed worked with biology students and Simons Foundation staff to organize an edit-a-thon for plant biologists.
  • Wiki Ed launched a new online orientation to help instructors identify relevant articles for students to tackle in classroom assignments. This is part of an overall touch-up of the Dashboard, updating trainings and processes for instructors aimed at streamlining and clarifying our processes and best practices ahead of the fall term. We’ve also revised the language used on the course timeline, making it more directly relevant to students, and referencing the newly launched Editing handbook.
  • Local and remote staff connected for an all-staff meeting in the Presidio of San Francisco. The meeting established alignment around the Annual Plan, and discussed the meaning and aspirations for “leadership across the organization.”


Educational Partnerships

Jami explains tools available to an interested instructor at the ASPB conference.

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson joined plant scientists at the American Society of Plant Biologists’ (ASPB) annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

They met with Dr. Sarah Wyatt’s students at Ohio University, who participated in the fall 2015 term of the Classroom Program. We were excited by the feedback we heard at the conference, such as this quote from Anne Sternberger, a PhD student in the course: “I always used Wikipedia growing up, but I never trusted it for actual biological information until I took Dr. Wyatt’s class and realized scientists contribute to it.” Anne and other students helped the Simons Foundation facilitate a plant biology edit-a-thon, training ASPB members to contribute to Wikipedia in their field of expertise.

Jami attended the The Allied Genetics Conference in Orlando, Florida, where she encouraged geneticists and other biologists to incorporate a Wikipedia assignment into their curriculum. One geneticist observed that editors work together to create Wikipedia much like scientists work together in their scientific research, building off of the work of those who came before them. Assigning students to evaluate an article’s progress over the years can help students understand how knowledge, and science, is iterative and always changing as we make new discoveries.

Samantha spent June advising new instructors on how to design assignments and utilize Wiki Ed’s suite of tools. In the last year, Wiki Ed has been involved in 40 outreach events, compared to 25 outreach events the previous year. Samantha has helped from recent workshops prepare as we enter the final term of the Year of Science.

Classroom Program

Classroom program growth (slide presented by Jami Mathewson during our all-staff meeting)
Classroom program growth (slide presented by Jami Mathewson during our all-staff meeting)

Status of the Classroom Program for Summer 2016 in numbers, as of July 31:

  • 23 Wiki Ed-supported courses were in progress (8, or 34%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 271 student editors were enrolled
  • 58% were up-to-date with the student training
  • Students edited 273 articles and created 11 new entries.

Last term was our largest and most successful term to date (215 courses with more than 4,000 students). The Classroom Program team is reflecting on that term to prepare for Fall 2016. However, not all is quiet on the Wikipedia front. We’re supporting 22 classes and more than 200 students in the summer term.

Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal is working on ways to engage instructors during the term, as well as helping Research Fellow Zach McDowell integrate his research into our fall classes.

The Wikipedia Year of Science is going strong this summer, and more than half of current courses are developing articles in STEM and the social sciences. We’ve so far supported 137 courses in the Year of Science and more than 2,300 students. In the six months since the Year of Science launched, our students have added more than 2 million words to Wikipedia in the sciences and worked on more than 2,000 articles. Our classes have improved Wikipedia in a range of science fields, ranging from the Sociology of Mass Media to Occupational Safety and Health. We’re eager to see what the fall term brings as the Year of Science enters its second half.

Student work highlights:

  • Students in Leslie Zeman’s Biology 360 class have been uploading photomicrographs of plant structures and adding them to relevant articles:
    • This image, uploaded to Commons and added to the cork cambium article by students in the Biology 360 class, shows the tissue responsible for the formation of tree bark.
    • Sundews use glandular hairs to trap insects. This image, which shows one of these hairs, was uploaded to Commons and added to the Drosera and carnivorous plant articles by students in the Biology 360 class.
    • This image was uploaded to Commons and added to the resin canal article by students in the Biology 360 class.

We saw some great work from several courses:

  • It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, but students in Timothy Henningsen’s Composition course at the University of DuPage have been busy adding to pages on chocolate makers, compression stockings, and Milton Glaser, designer of the iconic “I ♥ NY” logo. Composition courses like Henningsen’s typically work on a wide range of articles, adding sourced information to or improving the prose in dozens of different articles. Even relatively small contributions like those to this article mean that the article has had more information added in the last week than in the past eight years.
  • Students in Naniette Coleman’s Sociology of Mass Media course continued working on whistleblower protection in the United States as well as our articles on nuclear whistleblowers. User:AshleyFortierUML, the student working on nuclear whistleblowers, identified that volunteers had worked on two very similar articles independently and was able to merge their work into an existing list article. Now new editors and readers who look for information on the topic can find it all at the right place. Mergers are very much a behind the scenes activity on Wikipedia and it is tremendous fun seeing students involved in and thinking about how information is constructed and presented on Wikipedia; very helpful when thinking about media literacy questions in general.

Community Engagement

George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum brought the article Hawaii Sesquicentennial half dollar up to Featured Article status.

We are happy to announce a new opening for a Visiting Scholar at the University of North Carolina, in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. Supporting this position at UNC is Dr. Eric Youngstrom, a professor who has also worked with our classroom program. He sees Visiting Scholars as a way to improve public access to accurate information about psychological assessment.

“We are passionate about putting the best information where the most people will benefit,” he told us. “People are not helped when their problems are misdiagnosed, and may be hurt due to side effects, the expense and burden of inappropriate treatment, and delays in getting helpful treatment.” You can read more about this opportunity through this post on our blog.

One of the strengths of the Visiting Scholars program has been working with seasoned Wikipedia editors who use their experience to improve article quality in ways that new users mind find difficult. Wiki Ed’s annual plan further emphasizes that strength by tracking article quality rather than quantity, setting goals in terms of articles improved to B-class or better. B-class designates a level of quality that only 2.7% of articles have achieved.

Visiting Scholars have been producing high-quality content since the program began, with several articles already promoted to B-class, Good and Featured (the top quality designation on Wikipedia). This month, for example, George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum brought the article Hawaii Sesquicentennial half dollar up to Featured Article status.

Program Support


Communications Manager Eryk Salvaggio has worked with staff to complete several projects for the fall 2016 term.

First, Eryk worked with Wikipedia Content Expert in the Sciences Ian Ramjohn to draft a new online orientation module for instructors. This module will help them create a list of Wikipedia articles for their students. It covers a variety of methods for finding and identifying articles that need improvement within a set topic area. The training is already online and open to anyone.

Eryk has been collaborating with Classroom Program staff on an ongoing project to improve the clarity of information provided on the Dashboard and on instructor’s course timelines. These timelines focus on the student editor, with clear signals of expectations and milestones evident to the instructor. The new timeline includes more specific references to Wiki Ed’s updated Editing guidebook, and includes a series of optional questions aimed to engage students to think deeply about Wikipedia. These questions were drawn from several resources, including our Theories handbook.

Finally, Eryk worked closely with Helaine and Samantha to create a single start page for interested instructors. Until now, outreach to new instructors included a wide collection of links in an e-mail. The new teach.wikiedu.org page gives greater flexibility to new instructors to research more about the expectations of teaching with Wikipedia, to explore our resources, or to go on to the orientation if they’ve already made up their minds.

A July 5 blog post, “How Geobiology came to Wikipedia,” was among our most-shared posts of all time. The post tells the story of one Caltech student, Alice Michel, and her work to improve the Wikipedia article on her major, Geobiology. The article was a few scarce sentences and is now a quality doorway to the field, and sits among the top-three web results for Geobiology on Google.

Work also began with Dr. Amin Azzam’s interns at the University of California, San Francisco. These interns are medical students working with Dr. Azzam to help improve the training experience for medical students who edit Wikipedia.

Blog posts:

Press Releases:

External Media:

Digital Infrastructure

This month in digital infrastructure, Product Manager Sage Ross focused on preparing the Dashboard for the Fall 2016 term. We completed a significant update of the timeline content produced by the Dashboard’s assignment design tool, paring down the number of distinct resources and adjusting the in class portions to be a better fit for most new instructors’ syllabi.

Sage also began working with Zach to prepare for using the Dashboard survey tool for a study of student learning outcomes.

The main focus for the summer continues to be on improving the long-term maintainability of the dashboard and its accessibility to new developers, through enhancements to our suite of automated tests and updates to the open source components we use.

Research and Academic Engagement

Data Science

This month has been spent focusing on Data Science Intern Kevin Schiroo’s primary goal of characterizing the type work performed by students. We have a theory that Wiki Ed students contribute a substantial portion of all academic work contributed to Wikipedia. To test this, Kevin developed tools for classifying articles as academic or not-academic.

He developed a classifier, which classifies a single reference (or source) as academic or non-academic. A random sample of ~600 references was drawn from articles on Wikipedia and hand labeled. While selecting references he chose to select only those that utilize the citation template. These provide significantly more information and have a much more amicable structured compared to their free text counterparts, which can often be difficult to accurately classify even with direct human review.

After references were labeled, he transformed them to associate structural information of the citation template with words contained within the reference. These transformed references could then be easily fed through standard vectorization algorithms for document classification that use a “bag-of-words” approach. The resulting vectors were then used to train a machine learning module (linear svc). The resulting model proved to be reasonably accurate in classifying unseen references.

Kevin selected a subset of articles that we labeled last month and calculated the ratio of academic references to general references for each using this classifier. Since labeling is still in progress, he selected all articles that had been labeled by two staff members and both staff members were in agreement. The articles were used to test the performance of a new page-level classifier (classifies a page, rather than a reference) utilizing the reference ratio as its only feature.


Plotting true positive and false positive rates against each each other, Kevin found 0.13 to be a reasonable threshold. This unexpectedly low threshold tells us that academic references, and those that look similar to them, are infrequent on the encyclopedia as a whole and especially infrequent within articles that are not academic. This method shows promise as a means to validate or refute our theory of student contribution.

Student Learning Outcomes Research

In July, we welcomed Dr. Zachary McDowell as our Student Learning Outcomes Research Fellow.

Zach has already interviewed and set the stage for collaborating with more than a dozen experts in various fields, from Writing Programs, to Composition and Rhetoric, Educational Technology, Information Literacy, and Curriculum and Faculty Development. These interviews form the backbone of his work on improving criteria for researching learning outcomes from Wikipedia assignments. That work includes identifying appropriate outcomes to assess, how to assess them, and how to contextualize those assessments using qualitative data.

Zach has been working the last month to create new and re-package Creative Commons licensed survey, assessment, focus group, and other required documents for the research protocol. The research protocol has been submitted to UMass Amherst’s Human Research Protection Office / IRB (by Zach, as he is also an affiliate of UMass Amherst).

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration


July is the start of another new fiscal year. We were able to carry roughly $500k from last fiscal year into this year. Our expenses for the month (and year-to-date) were $185,107 versus the approved budget plan of $228,643. The variance of $43k was due to delaying the start of a visibility campaign until later in the year.


Talks are underway with Greg Boustead of the Simons Foundation and representatives from Philanthropy New York (PNY) to discuss ways to showcase the Year of Science and the Simons Foundation / Wiki Education Foundation’s partnership among PNY members. Philanthropy New York represents more than 280 grantmaking organizations in New York City and beyond.

In late July Tom Porter attended a Development Executives Roundtable continuing education workshop focused on major gifts solicitation strategies and tactics. Planning also began a series of East Coast donor cultivation meetings scheduled for mid-August.

In July, Development Associate Victoria Hinshaw left the organization. We wish Victoria well on her future endeavors, and thank her for all her hard work at Wiki Ed.

Office of the ED

Discussion during the July all-staff meeting.

Current priorities:

  • Securing funding

Traditionally in July, we hold one of our semi-annual all-staff meetings in San Francisco. With the new fiscal year getting started, one of the goals of the gathering is to create alignment around the new Annual Plan. Staff developed a shared understanding of team mandates and key focus areas for next year. In addition, we engaged staff in a conversation about “leadership across the organization.” This included group discussions about the potential benefits of the concept, about what to take into account when acting as a leader at their level, and about what it takes to establish a culture of leadership at all levels.


The July all-staff meeting is also a time for reflecting on past achievements. Director of Programs LiAnna Davis, Jami, and Executive Director Frank Schulenburg provided their direct reports with performance reviews for fiscal year 2015–16, and had discussions about how to work even more effectively with each other and how to remove potential roadblocks.

A large part of the all-staff meeting was dedicated to the sharing of learnings. Individual staff members presented their reflections, including “Learnings from recruitment” (Jami), “Visiting Scholars” (Ryan), and “Student learning outcomes research” (Zach). Also, for the last official day of the meeting, we organized an optional peer-learning morning, where staff members offered short lectures and discussions on work-related topics (e.g. project management, writing a blog post, Wikipedia special pages, etc.) The week-long all-staff meeting concluded with a visit to the San Francisco Exploratorium, in line with our ongoing Year-of-Science initiative.

In July, Executive Assistant to the ED Renée LeVesque left the organization. We appreciate her hard work and wish her all the best.

Also in July, Frank traveled to Boston and met with our partners at the Stanton Foundation to discuss the current status of the Wiki Education Foundation and the road ahead.

Visitors and guests

  • None

by Eryk Salvaggio at August 24, 2016 08:35 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: Tulu Wikipedia goes live after eight years in Incubator; news in brief

Photo by Vishwanatha Badikana, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Vishwanatha Badikana, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Eight years after  being created in the Wikimedia Incubator, the Tulu-language Wikipedia is now live as the 23rd Indic language Wikipedia. Available at https://tcy.wikipedia.org, the project has a total of 1285 articles contributed by 198 editors.

Tulu is spoken by between three and five million people principally concentrated in the states of Karnataka and Kerala in south-west and south India (respectively), with more in the US and in Gulf countries. The Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director Katherine Maher announced that the project would go live in her keynote at WikiConference India 2016.

Tulu Wikipedia was started in the Wikimedia Incubator back in 2008 with a one or two editors, but neither the project nor the community remained active except sporadic edits. Without any meetups and outreach, it was difficult for those editors to work as a community to bring the project live from Incubator.  The Centre for Internet and Society’s Access to Knowledge program, a catalytic program funded by the Wikimedia Foundation to support and grow Indian language Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects in the Indian subcontinent, started building a Tulu-language community in 2014. They and the community conducted Wikipedia editing training workshops at St. Aloysius College in Mangaluru, who opened their doors to introduce the Wikipedia Education Program (WEP). As part of the WEP, students started editing Wikipedia as part of their syllabus with the leadership and guidance of Dr. Vishwanatha Badikana, assistant professor of the Kannada-language department at St. Aloysius, who himself became an active Tulu Wikipedia editor. Similarly, many students from both the institutions also contributed articles of diverse subject areas.

However, the community is fairly small and needs a way to grow outside the institution. “A series of eight how-to video tutorials have been created to help editors to learn about Wikipedia policies and guidelinesmanual of style and overall editing. Many students have contributed in creating these tutorials”, Badikana says, and the existing set of editors are doing their best to spread the word about the project. In an interview with the media portal Daijiworld, Bharathesha Alasandemajalu, an active editor based in Oman, said, “anyone can write or edit articles on the Tulu Wikipedia but it should not be plagiarised. The photos should be one’s own or uploaded with valid permission from the owner. This will help the future generation to know more about the language and act as a source of information on Tulu language and culture.”

One of the biggest challenges in growing the project—apart the community’s limitations within institutional frameworks and having just a handful of editors outside—is the lack of codification of the project as per Unicode compliance. Unicode is a global standard for scripts, and the modern Tulu script (derived from the original Tigalari script) is not yet encoded in Unicode. As a result, all the articles in the Tulu Wikipedia are written in the Kannada script, as the speakers are mostly based in the state of Karnataka and speak Kannada as a second language.

Despite a long linguistic heritage, Tulu is still struggling to be widely used, especially in its native script. Badikana says that he is really hopeful that he will see more Tulu speakers start contributing to the language’s Wikipedia, as he feels that growing language content online would be the best thing to do while working in a conventional classroom.

In brief

Ongoing India At Rio Olympics 2016 Edit-a-thon promises to plant one tree for every 20 new articles created

India this year has a great participation in the Rio Olympics; some of the participating athletes have brought medals and glory for the country and some lost in the tight competition. But for Wikipedia, every single athlete matters! An edit-a-thon is being organized by Wikimedia India in collaboration with not-for-profit “Sankalp Taru” and several Indian-language Wikipedia communities are participating in creating Wikipedia articles related to the Rio Olympics and India’s participation in it. A unique goal is set for this edit-a-thon where a tree will be planted for every 20 new articles created and it could also be monitored online. The edit-a-thon started officially at 0:00 UTC on 29 July 2016 and will go on 23:59 UTC on 18 September 2016. Apart from several other rules for participation, the rule also discourages pure machine translation of the articles as historically there has been disastrous impact of Google Translate for many Indian language Wikipdias.

Wiki Loves Monuments returns back to India after two years

Wiki Loves Monuments, the global photo competition that is organized by the Wikimedia communities in September with the focus of getting good quality photographs of monuments of historical interest, will be organized in India. “The aim of the contest is to ask the general public—readers and users of Wikipedia, photographers, hobbyists, etc.—to take pictures of cultural heritage monuments and upload them to Wikimedia Commons for use on Wikipedia and its other sister projects.”, shared Abhinav Srivastava, Executive Committee member of Wikimedia India which is the official organizer of the event. More details about participating in this event could be found in the event page.

WikiConference India 2016, the largest Wikimedia community gathering of the year in South Asia comes to an end

Organized by the Wikimedia communities in India, the WikiConference India 2016 was the largest Wikimedia gathering in the subcontinent of this year. After a long break of five years, the event has about 250 participants including over 100 scholarship recipients from four countries representing Wikimedia projects in 20 Indic languages. As reported in the Signpost, nearly 25% of scholarship recipients were women, and the inclusion of speakers of ~20 languages. There were 89 accepted submissions including workshops, presentations, The event also included an edit-a-thon to improve the content related to Punjab, Punjabi language and culture as a gesture of respect to the place where the event was organized. Over 2000 articles have been created by more than 150 editors in 12 different language Wikipedias.

A gender gap-focused panel, led by formed Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees member Bishakha Datta, was held on the second day of the conference to share the research and outreach experiences in different communities (featuring Kannada, Tamil, and Marathi communities). Researchers proposed new strategies and practices in tackling the systematic and social barriers for Indian women joining Wikimedia projects. Other presenters shared tips and event-organizing experience on various outreach activities—from edit-a-thons and photo-thons in the International Women’s Month to student-led events in college institutions—demonstrating respective communities’ efforts on the local, national, and global scales. The panel was followed by a Wikiwomen’s Lunch meetup attended by most female Wikipedians at the conference along with Bishakha, Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees member Nataliia Tymkivand WMF staff members.

Ashutosh Sarangi, the youngest Wikimedian from the oldest Indian-language Wikipedia community

At the closing ceremony WikiConference India 2016, Ashutosh Sarangi was awarded as the youngest Wikimedian at the conference by , two days after Katherine congratulated the Odia Wikipedia for celebrating its 14th birthdaywhere the project happens to be the oldest of all Indian-langauge Wikipedias. Ashutosh, a 6th grade student, is the son of Pankajmala Sarangi, the most active Odia Wikisourcer, and is active in Odia Wikisource with 226 edits for digitization of two books so far. “Living and studying in New Delhi where Hindi is predominantly the primary language, having a conversation in our native language Odia itself is so difficult. I am proud to be a mother who not only teaches Odia language to her kids but also helps them contribute to the open Internet. At some point of time, these valuable books Ashutosh has contributed in digitizing on Odia Wikisource will be of great read for others”, she shares. Long time Hindi-language Wikipedian Raju Suthar has mentioned in a news article in Hindi newspaper the Sanjivani saying, “Ashutosh has won everyone heart as the youngest Wikimedian in this conference. Asaf Bartov and Nataliia Tymkov have awarded him for his contribution”. Ashutosh started contributing to Odia Wikisource in February this year on the day of the second workshop in New Delhi.

MediaWiki hackathon at WikiConference India 2016 has seven important outputs

The MediaWiki hackathon that was running at the WikiConference India in the leadership of Santosh Shingare was productive to engage with several participants and bring as many as seven most important outcomes;

  1. WikiSpeak, an easy-to-use Android (source code) and web app (source code) that read the the Wikipedia articles in native languages.
  2. Edit Tamil Wiktionary, android app that helps create entries in Tamil-language Wiktionary from a spreadsheet created with a .tsv extension. The app checks for existing entries and creates only entries that are not existent. (source code)
  3. Commons audio uploader, Android app that helps a user to log in using Mediawiki credentials, create audio recordings using their phone microphone, and upload them on Commons. (source code)
  4. Wikipedia articles on Google map, web application that can show Wikipedia articles with geo-cordinates in Google Maps when the phone’s location is enabled for Google Maps. The application is responsive enough to adjust the portion of the Wikipedia article it displays on the screen, and works for all the Indian languages. (source code)
  5. OCR (Native Application) : Convert scanned book copy to Indian language text with google doc (Tested for Hindi and Malayalam).
  6. Communication platform[WebRTC] (Web Application) : Community used this to talk or conference (Audio/video web conferencing application)
  7. Notification (Event based) : showing popup on event eg (If recent changes happen, It will show popup which article was updated)

Subhashish Panigrahi, Programme Officer, Centre for Internet and Society-Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K),
Ting-Yi Chang, Community Advocate, Centre for Internet and Society-Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K)

by Subhashish Panigrahi and Ting-Yi Chang at August 24, 2016 07:23 PM

August 23, 2016

Wiki Education Foundation

Why Wikipedia assignments work for digital literacy

University undergraduates may be tech-savvy, but that doesn’t always mean they’re digitally literate.

It’s easy to mistake frequent use of new media for an understanding of media literacy. But that’s a bit like saying you can learn Japanese just by showing up in Tokyo. Like any form of literacy, understanding media requires not just exposure, but direct engagement.

Even the term “digital literacy” is less than straightforward. Every university or college may have its own variation on what skills make up a “digitally literate” student. The American Library Association calls it “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information, an ability that requires both cognitive and technical skills.”

What we see most often are attempts to transfer an analog writing assignment into a digital forum. Case in point: Requesting students to write essays in blog form. Too often, students write the same essay they always have, with an added step of copying it into WordPress.

We’d argue that, while this may acquaint students with the technical side of using these platforms, it doesn’t really translate into digital literacy. It’s not challenging the way students “find, understand, evaluate, create, or communicate digital information.” It’s simply shifting the method of delivery to the instructor.

Why Wikipedia is different

Wikipedia writing assignments are one of the most powerful methods of developing media literacy skills in higher education classrooms.

The idea behind the Wikipedia assignment is straightforward: Instructors assign students to craft a Wikipedia article instead of a term paper.

To make a meaningful contribution on Wikipedia, a student compares the knowledge they’ve learned about their field to the knowledge presented on Wikipedia. Right away, that’s engaging in a media critique. It’s also deep learning: that is, critical thinking based on received knowledge that transforms into applied knowledge along the way.

The discovery that Wikipedia is sometimes flawed may not be mind-bending to many students, who are dissuaded from using it from their first experience writing for school. Once they get “under the hood,” though, they start to think about when they can, and can’t, trust the information they find. They use that experience in deciding what they can rely on to contribute to Wikipedia.

Students learn to understand Wikipedia as a publishing platform, but also as an online community. While not every student will work with other Wikipedians, the rules and guidelines are clearly laid out in the student training Wiki Ed provides for students, and staff helps students along as they develop their contributions.

Lots of questions naturally come up as they go. How do they determine if a source is reliable? What does it mean to aim for neutrality? How does Wikipedia define neutrality? How does a volunteer community develop these standards for inclusion? How do they decide what to exclude, and why?

But one of the most powerful experiences for students is seeing their article online, and knowing that they’ve written something that could be read by millions. We ask students to use a Google search for their topic and see where their work ends up. It’s usually in the top five search results. That’s an “a-ha” moment for many: they see the power of their contribution to open, public knowledge.

But it’s also a lesson in where information comes from. It’s a reminder that they while they can, often, rely on the information they find online; they also need to think critically. Editing for Wikipedia provides the tools they need to do that. While we often say that Wikipedia assignments aren’t about reading Wikipedia, but writing it, that’s not entirely true. By learning how to write Wikipedia, students also learn how to read Wikipedia. That skill translates to any of the information they find online.

Deep learning and digital media literacy

We believe the Wikipedia writing assignment isn’t just an exercise in media literacy development, but it’s a rare opportunity for deep learning in a digital media literacy context.

According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, deep learning calls for students to “apply what they have learned in one subject area to newly encountered situations in another. They can see how their classwork relates to real life.”

Wikipedia assignments help bring any subject into a deep learning context. It inspires students to master content by drawing on received knowledge and transforming it into applied knowledge. The gaps they find on Wikipedia are problems to solve. They have to tap into what they know, reassess what’s presented, and solve a communication problem by bridging the gap between them.

They don’t just answer questions. They identify problems on their own, and then invent their own solution.

Communicating to a real audience is just one aspect of creative problem solving. They may also encounter true collaboration with other Wikipedians, or their classmates, as they apply their knowledge to a new context.

And when they’re finished, they find themselves believing in the knowledge they’ve acquired. They’ve been tested, not with a bubble sheet or an essay they’ve written hundreds of times. Instead, they’ve been tested by the open-ended and self-directed inquiry into a topic that draws on what they’ve learned. That independent application of knowledge drives home a real shift into an “academic mindset,” where they take what they’ve studied and apply it to the real world.

The result is not only a deeper mastery of their field, but also a deeper, applied understanding of the forms of literacy required for a digital era defined by questionable sources and loosely defined standards for reliability.

We’re looking for even more higher ed classrooms to join us this year. We offer a range of online tools and print resources to help your students learn about Wikipedia. Our staff will work with students on Wikipedia, so you’re free to instruct them in your area of expertise. If you’d like to learn more, send us a message: contact@wikiedu.org.


by Eryk Salvaggio at August 23, 2016 04:00 PM

Wikimedia UK

#Internaut Day – can we learn to stop worrying and love the internet?

Photo of the NeXTcub used as the first web server. The label reads “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER IT DOWN!!”. On display at the science museum london. – Photo by user:geni GFDL CC-BY-SA 4.0

The public internet turned 25 today, which means it’s on its third unpaid internship, still living with its parents and has become a cynical nihilist with little hope for the future of humanity.

‘The Web took off without regard for borders at all’, said Tim Berners-Lee on the 25th anniversary of the idea for the Web’s conception in 2014. In fact, for the pioneers of the public internet, this liberation from state control (especially coming just after the end of the Cold War) was part of the great promise of the internet, a promise that it has not always been able to live up to.

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

— John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” (1996)

Wikipedia still stands as one of the lasting legacies of this period of internet idealism, which seemed to fade in the wake of the Dot Com Bubble and the new political reality of a unipolar world order plagued by small wars and the fear of terrorism.

I think it’s worth repeating that out of the top 100 most popular websites in the world Wikipedia is the only one run by a charity. Its founding principle, to give everybody free access to the sum of all human knowledge, sounds idealistic to us now, it was only 15 years ago that the site was first created.

So can we still be optimistic about the internet given the problems it is plagued with and the negative impacts it has on many people’s lives? Absolutely, as Werner Herzog’s new film Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World seems to suggest.

Herzog is a somewhat otherworldly figure, who delights in a kind of innocent awe at the possibilities of human potential. If you’ve not seen his film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, it is very good, and Lo and Behold seems to offer a kind of companion piece, juxtaposing the liminal nature of the Chauvet Cave paintings, the oldest extant human visual art in the world, with the bizarre Jungian subconscious which we have digitised in constructing the internet.

The New Statesman worries that Herzog is becoming a meme of himself, getting in the way of his subject matter. This cynicism seems to me reflective of the malaise with which we regard the internet now, with all its faults. People feel that we have lost something human by intertwining human destiny so closely with technology, and that is understandable, but feels like nostalgia to me. Herzog suggests in a Vice interview that we should think of the internet as we think of the Chauvet Cave paintings, not as something separate from our humanity, but as part of it, a representation of what is already inside of us.

So what does that make Wikipedia? Like the invention of writing, it takes the knowledge inside all of us and structures it, makes it editable, reviewable and verifiable. We are beginning to structure this knowledge in more and more complex ways that require huge amounts of data and processing power to create new tools which will allow us to better understand what we are, and how we can be better humans. In this respect, Wikidata holds great possibilities for the future analysis and structuring of knowledge. Who knows what kinds of technological or human progress it will allow us to make? It was impossible to see back when the first ARPANET intranet link was established in 1969.

“Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data. They would start by typing “login,” and seeing if the letters appeared on the far-off monitor.

“We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI …”, Kleinrock … said in an interview: “We typed the L and we asked on the phone,

“Do you see the L?”

“Yes, we see the L,” came the response.

We typed the O, and we asked, “Do you see the O.”

“Yes, we see the O.”

Then we typed the G, and the system crashed …

Yet a revolution had begun”“

It’s understandable why we are so cynical when we are constantly bombarded with terrible news, especially after the promise and potential which seemed to fill the 1990s with hope. Or perhaps it just felt that way because I was a child, who knows?

My most inspiring teacher at school once told me that the difference between being a sceptic and a cynic is that a cynic has already made their mind up. I think that this kind of cynicism is unhelpful, though probably inevitable at different points in history. For long periods of the Middle Ages, many people believed that the world had reached its final age and there were therefore few possible social or technological innovations worth striving towards. Then the Renaissance happened, which led to the Enlightenment and scientific revolution and here we are now.  

Poststructuralist critic Frederick Jameson famously said in 2003 that “it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”. This kind of thinking was also evident in Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ hypothesis, that liberal capitalist democracy was the only political structure possible after the end of the Cold War. But this is just a lack of imagination, and we can do better. The internet is our imagination visualised, uploaded to the world’s networks, and we can query that imagination, we can use it as a repository to create new artworks and new ideas.

The internet is in a period of flux greater than ever before, as new digital communities come online, and we try to find a language for us all to communicate in. There are serious problems in making these systems work, but we have to resist cynicism and imagine how it could work and how amazing it could be if we are ever to achieve that potential greatness.

How did Werner Herzog learn to be a filmmaker? He read the entry for filmmaking in an encyclopedia and it told him everything he needed to get started.

by John Lubbock at August 23, 2016 03:07 PM


Revisiting some ornithological roots

The years 1883-1885 were tumultuous in the history of zoology in India. A group called the Simla Naturalists' Society was formed in the summer of 1885. The founding President of the Simla group was, oddly enough, Courtenay Ilbert - who some might remember for the Ilbert Bill which allowed Indian magistrates to make judgements on British subjects. Another member of this Simla group was Henry Collett who wrote a Flora of the Simla region (Flora Simlensis). This Society vanished without much of a trace. A slightly more stable organization was begun in 1883, the Bombay Natural History Society. The creation of these organizations was precipitated by the emergence of a gaping hole. A vacuum was created with the end of an India-wide correspondence network of naturalists that was fostered by a one-man-force - that of A. O. Hume. The ornithological chapter of Hume's life begins and ends in Shimla. Hume's serious ornithology began around 1870 and he gave it all up in 1883, after the loss of years of carefully prepared manuscripts for a magnum opus on Indian ornithology, damage to his specimen collections and a sudden immersion into Theosophy which also led him to abjure the killing of animals, taking to vegetarianism and subsequently to take up the cause of Indian nationalism. The founders of the BNHS included Eha (E. H. Aitken was also a Hume/Stray Feathers correspondent), J.C. Anderson (who was a Simla naturalist) and Phipson (who was from a wine merchant family with a strong presence in Simla).

Shimla then was where Hume rose in his career (as Secretary of State, before falling) allowing him to work on his hobby project of Indian ornithology by bringing together a large specimen collection and conducting the publication of Stray Feathers. Through readings, I had a constructed a fairytale picture of the surroundings that he lived in. Richard Bowdler Sharpe, a curator at the British Museum who came to Shimla in 1885 wrote (his description  is well worth reading in full):
... Mr. Hume who lives in a most picturesque situation high up on Jakko, the house being about 7800 feet above the level of the sea. From my bedroom window I had a fine view of the snowy range. ... at last I stood in the celebrated museum and gazed at the dozens upon dozens of tin cases which filled the room ... quite three times as large as our meeting-room at the Zoological Society, and, of course, much more lofty. Throughout this large room went three rows of table-cases with glass tops, in which were arranged a series of the birds of India sufficient for the identification of each species, while underneath these table-cases were enormous cabinets made of tin, with trays inside, containing series of the birds represented in the table-cases above. All the specimens were carefully done up in brown-paper cases, each labelled outside with full particulars of the specimen within. Fancy the labour this represents with 60,000 specimens! The tin cabinets were all of materials of the best quality, specially ordered from England, and put together by the best Calcutta workmen. At each end of the room were racks reaching up to the ceiling, and containing immense tin cases full of birds. As one of these racks had to be taken down during the repairs of the north end of the museum, the entire space between the table-cases was taken up by the tin cases formerly housed in it, so that there was literally no space to walk between the rows. On the western side of the museum was the library, reached by a descent of three stops—a cheerful room, furnished with large tables, and containing, besides the egg-cabinets, a well-chosen set of working volumes. ... In a few minutes an immense series of specimens could be spread out on the tables, while all the books were at hand for immediate reference. ... we went below into the basement, which consisted of eight great rooms, six of them full, from floor to ceilings of cases of birds, while at the back of the house two large verandahs were piled high with cases full of large birds, such as Pelicans, Cranes, Vultures, &c.
I was certainly not hoping to find Hume's home as described but the situation turned out to be a lot worse. The first thing I did was to contact Professor Sriram Mehrotra, a senior historian who has published on the origins of the Indian National Congress. Prof. Mehrotra explained that Rothney Castle had long been altered with only the front facade retained along with the wood-framed conservatories. He said I could go and ask the caretaker for permission to see the grounds. He was sorry that he could not accompany me as it was physically demanding and he said that "the place moved him to tears." Professor Mehrotra also told me about how he had decided to live in Shimla simply because of his interest in Hume! I left him and walked to Christ Church and took the left branch going up to Jakhoo with some hopes. I met the caretaker of Rothney Castle in the garden where she was walking her dogs on a flat lawn, probably the same garden at the end of which there once had been a star-shaped flower bed, scene of the infamous brooch incident with Madame Blavatsky (see the theosophy section on Hume's biography in Wikipedia). It was a bit of a disappointment however as the caretaker informed me that I could not see the grounds unless the owner who lived in Delhi permitted it. Rothney Castle has changed hands so many times that it probably has nothing to match with what Bowdler-Sharpe saw and the grounds may very soon be entirely unrecognizable but for the name plaque at the entrance. Another patch of land in front of Rothney Castle was being prepared for what might become a multi-storeyed building. A botanist friend had shown me a 19th century painting of Shimla made by Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming. In her painting, the only building visible on Jakko Hill behind Christ Church is Rothney Castle. The vegetation on Shimla has definitely become denser with trees blocking the views.
So there ended my hopes of adding good views (free-licensed images are still misunderstood in India) of Rothney Castle to the Wikipedia article on Hume. I did however get a couple of photographs from the roadside. In 2014, I managed to visit the South London Botanical Institute which was the last of Hume's enterprises. This visit enabled the addition a few pictures of his herbarium collections as well as an illustration of his bookplate which carries his personal motto.

Clearly Shimla empowered Hume, provided a stimulating environment which included several local collaborators. Who were his local collaborators in Shimla? I have only recently discovered (and notes with references are now added to the Wikipedia entry for R. C. Tytler) that Robert (of Tytler's warbler fame - although named by W E Brooks) and Harriet Tytler (of Mt. Harriet fame) had established a kind of natural history museum at Bonnie Moon in Shimla with  Lord Mayo's support. The museum closed down after Robert's death in 1872, and it is said that Harriet offered the bird specimens to the government. It would appear that this collected finally went to Hume.

Hume's idea of mapping rainfall
to examine patterns of avian distribution
It was under Lord Mayo that Hume rose in the government hierarchy. Hume was not averse to utilizing his power as Secretary of State to further his interests in birds. He organized the Lakshadweep survey with the assistance of the navy ostensibly to examine sites for a lighthouse. He made use of government machinery in the fisheries department (Francis Day) to help his Sind survey. He used the newly formed meteorological division of his own agricultural department to generate rainfall maps for use in Stray Feathers. He was probably the first to note the connection between rainfall and bird distributions, something that only Sharpe saw any special merit in. Perhaps placing specimens on those large tables described by Sharpe allowed Hume to see geographic trends.

Hume was also able to appreciate geology (in his youth he had studied with Mantell ), earth history and avian evolution. Hume had several geologists contributing to ornithology including Stoliczka and Ball. One wonders if he took an interest in paleontology given his proximity to the Shiwalik ranges. Hume invited Richard Lydekker to publish a major note on avian osteology for the benefit of amateur ornithologists. Hume also had enough time to speculate on matters of avian biology. A couple of years ago I came across this bit that Hume wrote in the first of his Nests and Eggs volumes (published post-ornith-humously in 1889):

Nests and Eggs of Indian birds. Vol 1. p. 199
I wrote immediately to Tim Birkhead, the expert on evolutionary aspects of bird reproduction and someone with an excellent view of ornithological history (his Ten Thousand Birds is a must read for anyone interested in the subject) and he agreed that Hume had been an early and insightful observer to have suggested female sperm storage.

Shimla life was clearly a lot of hob-nobbing and people like Lord Mayo were spending huge amounts of time and money just hosting parties. Turns out that Lord Mayo even went to Paris to recruit a chef and brought in an Italian,  Federico Peliti. (His great-grandson has a nice website!) Unlike Hume, Peliti rose in fame after Lord Mayo's death by setting up a cafe which became the heart of Shimla's social life and gossip. Lady Lytton (Lord Lytton was the one who demoted Hume!) recorded that Simla folk "...foregathered four days a week for prayer meetings, and the rest of the time was spent in writing poisonous official notes about each other." Another observer recorded that "in Simla you could not hear your own voice for  the grinding of axes. But in 1884 the grinders were few. In the course of my service I saw much of Simla society,  and I think it would compare most favourably with any other town of English-speaking people of the same size. It was bright and gay. We all lived, so to speak, in glass houses. The little bungalows perched on the mountainside wherever there was a ledge, with their winding paths under the pine trees, leading to our only road, the Mall." (Lawrence, Sir Walter Roper (1928) The India We Served.)

A view from Peliti's (1922).
Peliti's other contribution was in photography and it seems like he worked with Felice Beato who also influenced Harriet Tytler and her photography. I asked a couple of Shimla folks on the location of Peliti's cafe and they said it was  the Grand Hotel (now a government guest hose). I subsequently found that Peliti did indeed start Peliti's Grand Hotel, which was destroyed in a fire in 1922, but the centre of Shimla's social life, his cafe, was actually next to the Combermere Bridge (it ran over a water storage tank and is today the location of the lift that runs between the Mall and the Cart Road). A photograph taken from "Peliti's" clearly lends support for this location as do descriptions in Thacker's New Guide to Simla (1925). A poem celebrating Peliti's was published in Punch magazine in 1919. Rudyard Kipling was a fan of Peliti's but Hume was no fan of Kipling (Kipling seems to have held a spiteful view of liberals - "Pagett MP" has been identified by some as being based on W.S.Caine, a friend of Hume; Hume for his part had a lifelong disdain for journalists. Kipling's boss, E.K. Robinson started the British Naturalists' Association while E.K.R.'s brother Philip probably influenced Eha.

While Hume most likely stayed away from Peliti's, we see that a kind of naturalists social network existed within the government. About Lord Mayo we read: 
Lord Mayo and the Natural History of India - His Excellency Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India, has been making a very valuable collection of natural historical objects, illustrative of the fauna, ornithology, &c., of the Indian Empire. Some portion of these valuable acquisitions, principally birds and some insects, have been brought to England, and are now at 49 Wigmore Street, London, whence they will shortly be removed. - Pertshire Advertiser, 29 December 1870.
Another news report states:
The Early of Mayo's collection of Indian birds, &c.

Amids the cares of empire, the Earl of Mayo, the present ruler of India, has found time to form a valuable collection of objects illustrative of the natural history of the East, and especially of India. Some of these were brought over by the Countess when she visited England a short time since, and entrusted to the hands of Mr Edwin Ward, F.Z.S., for setting and arrangement, under the particular direction of the Countess herself. This portion, which consists chiefly of birds and insects, was to be seen yesterday at 49, Wigmore street, and, with the other objects accumulated in Mr Ward's establishment, presented a very striking picture. There are two library screens formed from the plumage of the grand argus pheasant- the head forward, the wing feathers extended in circular shape, those of the tail rising high above the rest. The peculiarities of the plumage hae been extremely well preserved. These, though surrounded by other birds of more brilliant covering, preserved in screen pattern also, are most noticeable, and have been much admired. There are likewise two drawing-room screens of smaller Indain birds (thrush size) and insects. They are contained in glass cases, with frames of imitation bamboo, gilt. These birds are of varied and bright colours, and some of them are very rare. The Countess, who returned to India last month, will no doubt,add to the collection when she next comes back to England, as both the Earl and herself appear to take a great interest in Illustrating the fauna and ornithology of India. The most noticeable object, however, in Mr. Ward's establishment is the representation of a fight between two tigers of great size. The gloss, grace, and spirit of the animals are very well preserved. The group is intended as a present to the Prince of Wales. It does not belong to the Mayo Collection. - The Northern Standard, January 7, 1871
And Hume's subsequent superior was Lord Northbrook about whom we read:
University and City Intelligence. - Lord Northbrook has presented to the University a valuable collection of skins of the game birds of India collected for him by Mr. A.O.Hume, C.B., a distinguished Indian ornithologist. Lord Northbrook, in a letter to Dr. Acland, assures him that the collection is very perfec, if not unique. A Decree was passed accepting the offer, and requesting the Vice-Chancellor to convey the thanks of the University to the donor. - Oxford Journal, 10 February 1877
Papilio mayo
Clearly Lord Mayo and his influence on naturalists in India is not sufficiently well understood. Perhaps that would explain the beautiful butterfly that was named after him shortly after his murder. It appears that Hume did not have this kind of hobby association with Lord Lytton, little wonder perhaps that he fared so badly!

Despite Hume's sharpness on many matters there were bits that come across as odd. In one article on the flight of birds he observes the soaring of crows and vultures behind his house as he sits in the morning looking towards Mahassu. He points out that these soaring birds would appear early on warm days and late on cold days but he misses the role of thermals and mixes physics with metaphysics, going for a kind of Grand Unification Theory:

And then claims that crows, like saints, sages and yogis are capable of "aethrobacy".
This naturally became a target of ridicule. We have already seen the comments of E.H. Hankin on this. Hankin wrote that if levitation was achieved by "living an absolutely pure life and intense religious concentration" the hill crow must be indulging in "irreligious sentiments when trying to descend to earth without  the help of gravity." Hankin despite his studies does not give enough credit for the forces of lift produced by thermals and his own observations were critiqued by Gilbert Walker, the brilliant mathematican who applied his mind to large scale weather patterns apart from conducting some amazing research on the dynamics of boomerangs. His boomerang research had begun even in his undergraduate years and had earned him the nickname of Boomerang Walker. On my visit to Shimla, I went for a long walk down the quiet road winding through dense woodland and beside streams to Annandale, the only large flat ground in Shimla where Sir Gilbert Walker conducted his weekend research on boomerangs. Walker's boomerang research mentions a collaboration with Oscar Eckenstein and there are some strange threads connecting Eckenstein, his collaborator Aleister Crowley and Hume's daughter Maria Jane Burnley who would later join the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. But that is just speculation!

I got back from Annandale and then walked down to Phagli on the southern slope of Shimla to see the place where my paternal grandfather once lived. It is not a coincidence that Shimla and my name are derived from the local deity Shyamaladevi (a version of Kali).

The South London Botanical Institute

After returning to England, Hume took an interest in botany. He made herbarium collections and in 1910 he established the South London Botanical Institute and left money in his will for its upkeep. The SLBI is housed in a quiet residential area. Here are some pictures I took in 2014, most can be found on Wikipedia.

Dr Roy Vickery displaying some of Hume's herbarium specimens

Specially designed cases for storing the herbarium sheets.

The entrance to the South London Botanical Institute

A herbarium sheet from the Hume collection

Hume's bookplate with personal motto - Industria et Perseverentia

An ornate clock which apparently adorned Rothney Castle

Further reading

 An antique book shop had a set of Hume's Nests and Eggs (Second edition) and it bore the signature of "R.W.D. Morgan" - it appears that there was a BNHS member of that name from Calcutta c. 1933. It is unclear if it is the same person as Rhodes Morgan, who was a Hume correspondent and forest officer in Wynaad/Malabar who helped William Ruxton Davison.

    by Shyamal L. (noreply@blogger.com) at August 23, 2016 08:36 AM

    Gerard Meijssen

    #Wikidata - Colorado Women's Hall of Fame

    There is a continuous effort underway in #Wikipedia to celebrate notable women. When women are seen as a role model, it is obvious that they deserve attention.

    The Colorado Women's Hall of Fame is an organisation that celebrates women and every year 10 more women are included. The article on the organisation includes a list and it includes many red links. So more can be done, not only in Wikipedia but also in Wikidata.

    As Wikidata is maturing, SPARQL is now of sufficient quality that many of the tools developed by Magnus are transitioning to SPARQL. This takes time and at the same time some tools are discontinued or do not fully function any more. Linked Items is one such tool. It creates a list of items that are found in a Wikipedia text. It is ideal when a text based file full of wiki links exist. It is just a matter of copying in the links and it will generate a list with Wikidata items for you. It is then needed to restrict the items that are used and it was possible to use WDQ the engine that could when SPARQL for Wikidata was a distant dream. Sadly it does not work anymore.

    A solution is taking the list of items and copying to Petscan, the tool Magnus favours. It uses SPARQL and it is something of a Swiss army knife for data. When you are used to earlier tools like Autolist, many of the assumptions are wrong and it takes time to discover how the tool works. It does and that is why there are a large number of women who are known to be on the Colorado women's hall of fame.

    by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 23, 2016 08:16 AM

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Why you should be paying attention to Wikidata and GLAM

    Photo by Ter-burg, CC BY-SA 4.0

    Photo by Ter-burg, CC BY-SA 4.0

    Almost everywhere you turned at Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario, the annual gathering of the Wikimedia community, you could hear about structured data in the new Wikimedia community, Wikidata.

    Wikidata unlocks fifteen years of data collection and curation by volunteers to create a language-independent, linked, open, and structured database that is usable and friendly for both people and computers. Wikidata allows our volunteer communities to unleash the truly multilingual and global collaboration of Wikipedia, so that we can index and describe topics as diverse as food, paintings and medicine for a global community, not just for a particular language or region.

    Wikidata serves more than the relationship between Wikipedias and the language communities that the Wikipedias serve. Wikidata can connect other databases and collections of information, allowing computers and software to see connections between hundreds of data sources. Several presentations at Wikimania focused on these major benefits Wikidata can have for our partnerships with cultural heritage organizations.

    Structured data through Wikidata allows us to collaborate with GLAMs at a scale we never could have realized before, building upon nearly a decade of experience with 100s of active partnership as part of the GLAM-Wiki program, our outreach to Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs), and other communities that preserves our world’s heritage through projects like Wiki Loves Monuments and the Wikipedian in Residence at UNESCO.

    GLAMs curate metadata

    The best way to collect and keep track of a collection of cultural heritage objects is to describe those materials with structured information, called metadata. GLAMs use many different standards for collecting this data because it makes the collections more usable and searchable in their local context.

    With the internet, access to these data collections can happen all around the world. GLAMs realize that their collections become more useful and reusable when they are deeply interlinked with other collections around the world. Creating open structured data for their collections increases their impact on the public.

    This effort is spearheaded by the organizations which centralize and aggregate data collections, like Europeana, DPLA, and Trove. But Wikidata fills a gap in this activity: volunteers can connect the objects in any one collections from around the world into a even broader, global context, integrating new pieces of information with Wikipedia and other research databases.

    What if we collected all the paintings?

    The GLAM community is excited because Wikidata could become a database that covers the entire world’s cultural heritage—connecting with the material found on institution’s websites, to create a single shared record that can be searched in one place while taking advantage of the expertise at each organization.

    Most GLAMs don’t have enough staff to ensure that there is sufficient metadata for all the items in their own collections due to the ever-growing pressure on public funding. This reduces time for researching background information about artists, writers, and other creators. Most major institutions will hold works by hundreds, if not thousands of artists. Wikidata allows us to connect all of the databases that talk about each author, allowing the institutions to benefit from the research done by other cultural heritage organizations and websites.

    Imagine a single catalogue containing all of the world’s paintings! People passionate about art, from experts to students of art history to people trying to plan their next trip to a museum would be able to decide the best museum for their interests, start conversations with museum experts who care, and learn about objects that they would never see in an exhibition. Our Wikimedia volunteers have already started working towards that goal: it’s called “WikiProject Sum of All Paintings”.

    Through this, project editors like Maarten Dammers, one of its leaders, are working with fine art collections from around the world to make them more accessible. For Maarten, the goal is “getting an item for every notable painting”.

    The Sum of All Paintings team has already finished dozens of collection catalogues from around the world–from the Finnish National Gallery to the Metropolitan Museum of Ar, to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia. Recently that included a project led by Sandra Fauconnier from Belgium. With the help of volunteers like Dammers, she worked with eight major Flemish art museums and collections to sync their entire art collections to Wikidata. They had a huge success: the project connects the whole network of the Belgian museums to arts data from around the world making that community a premier case study in how we build our growing global catalogue.

    The same team has the ambition to link each notable painting to its creator and its collection. Notable paintings in private collections are added to Wikidata based on existing articles about those paintings, Wikimedia Commons uploads from notable auction houses, and work done on artist catalogs. In perspective, nearly a hundred years ago an art historian decided to update cataloging by a nineteenth-century art historian on seventeenth-century painters. Jane Darnell has in turn started updating that work on Wikidata in 2016.

    Screenshot, generated with this query.

    A map indicating where all of the Paintings currently in Wikidata can be found. Screenshot, generated with this query.

    Once artist catalogs and art collections enter Wikidata they become part of a much larger context. With a simple query to Wikidata one can find patterns and information about groups of paintings by artist and collection that would otherwise not have been possible. According to Fauconnier, “we can now map where the world’s paintings are (see interactive map above), or create visualizations which indicate patterns about what the artworks depict, or create full catalogues for individual artists, with just a few lines of code.”

    If museums or other organizations want to improve the contextual research about these works, with a few lines of code, we can organize a competition that calls on researchers to do just that. Early this year Europeana, ran just such a competition for the 280 artworks in the Europeana 280 project, which worked on describing ten artworks from each of 28 EU countries, in nearly all of their official languages.

    For the less technically oriented, the GLAM community can now offer web applications which utilize this data, allowing quickly filtering by sets of materials as they are available. Volunteer developer and art history technologist Benoît Deshayes has developed a proof of concept universal catalogue app called Crotos. With Crotos almost anyone can take advantage of the work being done by Sum of All Paintings volunteers, exploring over 40,000 paintings and 14,000 other kinds of art in the collections.  Suddenly, the world’s art museums are at your fingertips, for no cost, and with no access barriers!

    Beyond traditional GLAM collections

    Human cultures perpetually shape the world around them, and we express that relationship through music, arts, dance, play, and any number of other forms; each of these are ways of relating to the larger world and sharing our collective heritage. The Wikimedia Community is constantly working to share that knowledge and preserve this broader heritage–not just what is contained in Museums and Archives but under the much broader scope defined supported by UNESCO.

    Spearheaded by the teams who created Wiki Loves Monuments (a photo competition to take pictures of all the world monuments) and Wikimedia Sweden, the Connected Open Heritage community is bringing together tools that allow cultural heritage beyond museum collections to enter Wikidata and enrich their own organizations.  By connecting not only rare items collected by museums but also the myriad other ways in which heritage is enshrined in our culture, we can create a unified index of our cultural memory.

    Already, the Wikimedia community is working actively to start the process of integrating this data. Take for example, the recent partnership with UNESCO, spearheaded by Wikipedian in Residence John Cummings. As part of the project, UNESCO is asking Wikimedians to improve the data and description of natural heritage sites that are listed as Biosphere reserves. Integrating these protected sites into Wikidata, lets us find out which sites haven’t been covered on English or other language Wikipedias and share them with the public. Without this visibility, and an opportunity to learn about this preservation program, these natural sites could be ignored by the larger community.

    Similarly, TED talks inspire people throughout the world to expand their minds and change their perspectives on the world. A recent partnership with TED Conferences, an organization that hired two Wikipedians in Residence, used Wikidata to make sure that TED talk speakers are covered in Wikipedia. By connecting TED speakers with Wikidata, we can begin to analyze how these inspirational speakers are connected to the larger world of business, philanthropy, science and other parts of our culture. Equally, TED can enrich their data by linking to Wikidata. For example they might adjust the tense of their short TED speaker bios when reconciliation indicates that a speaker is considered dead on Wikidata. A recent writing challenge resulted in over 500 articles in the Wikipedia family of language projects being enriched with photos of TED speakers.

    These records can come back and feed the databases of the cultural heritage organizations as well. Yle, the national public broadcaster of Finland, has started using this network of Wikidata concepts to tag their broadcasts in their digital archive. By connecting their productions with Wikidata they not only tag their works, making them easier for search, but they also connect them to the vast, multilingual body of knowledge created in Wikipedia and Wikidata. As a result, Yle is actively enhancing their efforts as cultural professionals and embedding Wikidata improvements into the daily activities of their editors, unlocking their knowledge for the next organization.

    What’s next?

    On English Wikipedia, there is an essay that describes how the global community has a deadline for collecting the information in the world, as that heritage could be lost due to war, disaster, extinctions or any number of unpredictable happenings. Wikidata has the opportunity to help connect the materials which most need acknowledgement, preservation, and documentation. GLAM professionals have masterfully collected and researched much of the world’s cultural heritage. It is now time to merge these efforts and create one place where paintings, biosphere reserves, inspirational ideas, and every bit of our culture can be connected into one network.

    As a collaborative project, Wikidata is looking for more partners to fill in data gaps. Every one of the initiatives listed above needs help matching data from important collections to existing Wikidata entries, or help for the Connected Open Heritage community in prioritizing the next source of cultural data to target and improve. With so much potential, it is your time to get involved!

    To learn more or find ways to get engaged with this initiative, follow @glamwiki on Twitter or join the GLAM-Wiki and WikiData + GLAM Facebook groups

    Alex Stinson, Wikipedia Library Projects Manager, Wikimedia Foundation
    Sandra Fauconnier, Wikidata volunteer and freelancer
    Susanna Ånäs, Project Manager for Mobilizing Cultural Data, Wikimedia Finland
    Liam Wyatt, Wikipedian-in-Residence, Europeana
    Jane Darnell, Wikipedian-in-Residence, TED

    by Alex Stinson, Sandra Fauconnier, Susanna Ånäs, Liam Wyatt and Jane Darnell at August 23, 2016 06:45 AM

    August 22, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Switzerland’s ETH-Bibliothek is uploading 134,000 images to Wikimedia Commons

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    Abyssianian with knife in hand.” Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    134,000 images are being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, a central repository for free media, from ETH-Bibliothek, Switzerland’s largest public scientific and technical library.

    Most of the photographs are being drawn from their aerial photograph holdings (70,000 in all) and 40,000 from the archives of Swissair, the national airline of the country until its bankruptcy in 2002.

    The first 18,000 uploads come from Walter Mittelholzer, a Swiss aviation pioneer and entrepreneur. In his travels, which included the first north–south flight across the African continent, he took thousands of aerial photographs from places as varied as Spitsbergen (1923), a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean; Persia (1924–25); Kilimanjaro, the dormant volcano in modern-day Tanzania (1929–30); and Ethiopia (1934). You can see examples of his work sprinkled throughout this blog post.

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    Refueling in Tunisia. Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    “Mittelholzer captured sensational aerial images of landscapes, many of which had never been photographed from a bird’s-eye view before,” ETH-Bibliothek project coordinator Michael Gasser said. Mittelholzer utilized these images in a series of popular books that chronicled his trips into the-then great unknown; today, his work is used in post-colonial research.

    Other images being uploaded come from are historical photographs of ETH-Bibliothek’s campus in Zurich, along with portraits of professors, students, and scientists at the same location.

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    Gasser says that while all of these images being are already available on the internet, ETH-Bibliothek is “facilitating access to these valuable image sources … we are trying to bring the material to where the users are.” All are licensed under CC BY-SA or are in the public domain.

    The project to upload them to Wikimedia Commons stems from a collaboration between ETH-Bibliothek and Wikimedia CH, an independent organization that works to advance the Wikimedia movement in Switzerland, which was initiated through mutual contacts at Open Data.ch, the Swiss chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

    You can see the images for yourself as they are being uploaded over on Commons.

    Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate
    Wikimedia Foundation

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    Photo by Walter Mittelholzer via ETH-Bibliothek, public domain/CC0.

    by Ed Erhart at August 22, 2016 09:38 PM

    Tech News

    Tech News issue #34, 2016 (August 22, 2016)

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    August 22, 2016 12:00 AM

    August 20, 2016

    Magnus Manske

    All your locations are belong to us

    A recent push for a UK photography contest reminded me of an issue I have begrudged for a quite a while. On the talk page for that contest, I pointed to several tools of mine, dealing with images and locations. But they only show aspects of those, like “Wikidata items without images”. What about the others? WDQS can show maps of all Wikidata items in a region, but what about Wikipedia? The mobile app can show you things with Wikipedia articles nearby, but what about Commons? I don’t recall a way to see Commons images taken near a location (WD-FIST can find them, but without a map). The data exists, but is either hard to get to, or “siloed” in some tool/app.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 18.06.26Wouldn’t it be great to get a map with all this information on it? All of Wikidata? All of Wikipedia? All of Commons? At once?

    What should that look like? The photography contest scenario, and change in general web usage patterns, suggest a strong emphasis on mobile. Which in turn tends to be “no frills”, as in, a focus on what is important: The map, and the objects on it.

    So I decided (for the time being) to get rid of the query functions in WD-FIST, and the clutter in WikiShootMe, and start from scratch, with (essentially) just a big map, using the bleeding-edge versions of JS libraries like bootstrap, jQuery, and leaflet. So without further ado, I present WikiShootMe, version 3 (pre-alpha). As it is, the tool defaults to your coordinates, which may be your local hub (as in my case, in the screenshot). There are four layers, which can be individually toggled:

    1. Wikidata items with images (in green)
    2. Wikidata items without image (in red, the Wikipedia will change with your language selection)
    3. Commons images (in blue)
    4. Wikipedia articles (smaller, in yellow, mostly overlapping Wikidata items)

    There is also a grey circle in the center, which is your (or your local hub’s) position. On mobile, this should move with you (but I haven’t tested that, as it would require leaving the house). All of these have a pop-up, when you click or touch the circle. It shows the linked title of the object, and, for Wikidata items with images and Commons images, it shows the respective image.

    All these data sources will update when you move the map, as well as zoom, up to a certain zoom factor. Below that, an “Update” button will appear to update manually, but it can take a long time, even with the number of objects limited.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 18.46.05I find it amazing how many geo-coded images there are already on Commons (even though the API will only give me 500 at a time). Maybe that is the geograph effect here in the UK, which let to the import of hundreds of thousands of free images to Commons.But I also found a funny pattern in Cologne, Germany, which turned out to be a series of images taken by Wikimedia volunteers from a balloon!

    Now, to be extra clever, I tried to add an upload function to the pop-up of Wikidata items without an image. You can select a file from disk, or use the camera as a source on mobile. It will pre-fill the title and the {{Information}} template with a link to the respective Wikidata object. However, several problems occur with that:

    • I only could get the “old” Commons upload page to work with the pre-filled data
    • I could find no documentation on <form> parameters for the Upload wizard
    • I haven’t actually tested if the upload works
    • There seems to be no way to automatically add the uploaded image to the Wikidata item

    A way around all that would be to upload the image to the tool itself, then transfer it to Commons via OAuth. This would also allow me to add the new image as the P18 on the Wikidata item. This is an option to be explored, especially if the Upload Wizard remains opaque to me.

    Update: I have added OAuth to the tool. Once authorised, you can upload a new image for a Wikidata item from both desktop and mobile (gallery or camera directly) with one click. It fills in file name, coordinates, default license etc. It even adds the image to the item after upload automatically. All this opens in a new tab, on the page for the uploaded image, to give you a chance to add more information.

    As usual, I am quite open for bug reports, feature requests (yes, it’s bare-bones at the moment), and technical support by volunteers/WMF.

    by Magnus at August 20, 2016 05:56 PM

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Wiki Loves the Olympics encourages collaboration on Wikimedia projects

    Photo by Giacomo Sparaciari, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Photo by Giacomo Sparaciari, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Weeks before Rio 2016 kicks off, people are getting ready for the event that values collaboration and healthy competition among the world’s best athletes. This includes the Wikipedia community, which is making strides to turn this enthusiasm for the Olympics and Paralympics into a collaboration to expand content about the games on Wikimedia projects.

    Ángel Obregón, a Wikipedian from Cantabria, Spain, created the idea about incorporating the interest in the Olympics and Paralympics into Wikipedia content.

    “Writing about the Olympics on Wikipedia is important,” Obregón states. “But that wasn’t the main goal here. I wanted to encourage people to edit Wikipedia by starting a new writing contest, and I thought we could make use of a current event like the Olympic Games with its worldwide audience to help us achieve that goal.”

    Writing contests are widely used by the Wikipedia community as a tool to engage new users and/or motivate experienced ones to collaborate on developing content. The goals range from improving the content quality to filling the content gaps, or it can also just be a fun way to raise the competitive spirit between fellow Wikipedians.  

    Participants in Wiki Loves the Olympics get extra points for editing articles about the Paralympic Games or athletes who participate in the Paralympics. Rubén Ojeda, a program coordinator in Wikimedia España and one of the contest organizers, believes that contests are a good way to steer editing efforts to where they’re needed most.

    “It not only covers the event held at the time of the contest,” says Ojeda, “it more importantly gives under-represented topics, like female athletes and paralympians, more visibility through Wikipedia.”

    Raúl Muñoz Páez, one of the contest participants, was surprised to find there were no Wikipedia articles about prominent Paralympic athletes, like Irene Villa (Páez’s article in Catalan), on the Catalan Wikipedia. “She is very loved and well-known for being a victim of terrorism,” he says. Páez was therefore very thankful to discover Wiki Loves the Olympics as a new area of contribution. “Articles about Olympians and Paralympians are virtually non-existent compared to articles about political figures and reality show celebrities,” he adds.

    While Wikimedia Iberocoop worked  hard on organizing the writing contest, the Wikimedia Community Brazilian Group of Education and Research did not miss the opportunity to join in the effort with a parallel photo contest on Wikimedia Commons.

    The great success of Wiki Loves Monuments and Wiki Loves Earth photo contests inspired Rodrigo Padula to launch a similar contest for the Olympics. Padula gained experience organizing several photo contests with the Brazilian user group.

    “We will hold an edit-a-thon after the end of the games,” says Padula, co-organizer of the contest. “This edit-a-thon will aim at using the pictures on Wikipedia, filtering and categorizing the uploaded content on Wikimedia Commons.”

    The Wiki Loves the Olympics photo contest is certainly intriguing. The general public takes photographs of the games and uploads them to Wikimedia Commons under a free licence. Wikipedians then feature the uploaded photos in their Rio 2016 Wikipedia articles shortly thereafter.

    These photo and writing contests have encouraged the spirit of collaboration between Wikipedians, much like the Olympic Games inspire in its athletes. “Different chapters of Iberocoop have collaborated in its organization, which represents the key aspects of collaborative work in Wikipedia— multiculturalism and multilingualism,” says  Ojeda. “It is fun to see Arabic, Austrian, Bulgarian, Japanese and Portuguese participants in the same contest,” adds Páez.

    Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern, Wikimedia Foundation

    by Samir ElSharbaty at August 20, 2016 05:11 AM

    August 19, 2016

    Wikimedia Tech Blog

    The most popular browser

    Photo by Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    Photo by Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    It is very likely that the most popular browser on the internet in the first week of August 2016 was Chrome, version 52 with about 30% market share.

    How do we know this? Wikimedia projects reach hundreds of millions of unique devices every month and, as such, are a good barometer of browser popularity.  For every request that comes into one of our projects, we note the browser and the OS of the device and report that data, aggregated weekly. Data is public and free to the world, in line with our values and privacy policy.

    Browser stats for Wikimedia projects are available at analytics.wikimedia.org.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    Browser data provides many insights into how our users interact with Wikimedia sites. For example: one year ago, things were about the same and Chrome was in the lead for overall traffic—but for mobile browsers, things have changed. Chrome Mobile has gained a lot of popularity in the last year (10% increase in usage), and  Chrome and Safari now together account for about 70% of pageviews in Wikimedia’s mobile sites. Since the majority of our mobile traffic is coming from Android devices, this increase of Chrome Mobile usage could indicate that many Android users have shifted to Chrome Mobile as their browser of choice in the last year.

    Furthermore, Android 4, 5 and 6 are about equal when it comes to pageviews (about 15%), which raises some questions about software upgrades in not-so-new Android devices. Android 2, however, has almost disappeared from our stats with less than 1.5% of pageviews (down almost 2% from last year at this time).

    Dan Andreescu, Senior Software Engineer
    Marcel Ruiz Forns, Software Engineer (International)
    Nuria Ruiz, Lead Software Engineer (Manager)
    Wikimedia Foundation

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 4.0.

    by Dan Andreescu, Marcel Forns and Nuria Ruiz at August 19, 2016 07:02 PM

    Weekly OSM

    weeklyOSM 317



    OpenStreetMap 12th Birthday – cakes in Nashua, USA; Bangalore, India and Essen, Germany 1 | © Nakaner, Alan Bragg, Jinal Foflia, Softgrow CC-BY-SA 3.0


    • On talk-de, Nikhil Prabhakar from Mapbox outlines a proposal to map turn restrictions and exit & destination tags remotely. Some people reply to the thread; the rest of OSM reaches for the popcorn :)The plan is to start in Stuttgart (almost no Mapillary images), Wolfsburg and Berlin (the homes of Daimler, Porsche, VW, and allegedly someone else). Mapbox is also doing something similar in Canada.
    • Mapbox Peru team led a Mapillary event at Ayacucho, Huamanga during which over 8000 photos were captured while walking, biking and driving.
    • @Mapeadora reports on an artistic project based on the memory of missing persons in Michoacán: “El caminar y los mapas de la memoria” (automatic translation) based on various audiovisual techniques, where a map of the journeys made in the State of Michoacan used georeferenced taking pictures using #Mapillary.
    • There’s discussion on talk-gb about a mapper editing boundaries around the East Midlands of England (specifically “unparished areas”, where there’s no local authority at admin level 10). There has also been considerable criticism of his “automated responses” to changeset discussion comments.
    • Martijn van Exel writes in his user blog about the newly restarted OpenStreetView (OSV) – now looked after by Telenav. Martijn points out that the OSV app can retrieve data from the bus systems of the car for better geo-referencing using the OBD2 interface. Unlike Mapillary, the front and back end are both free software. This issue is still open, however… we invite you to collaborate with pictures and code!
    • Pokemon Go works as a perfect excuse while collecting ref points for new #OpenStreetMap aerial imagery correction, Grant Slater says.


    • User Alan Bragg writes about the celebrations at New Hampshire for OSM’s 12th birthday.
    • In an interview with OpenCage Data, Pekka Sarkola talks about the OSM community in Finland including their current work and challenges they face.
    • Last week, OpenStreetMap turned 12 with birthday celebrations across the world at Kigali, Dublin, Copenhagen, Moscow, New Hampshire, London, Bangalore, Essen, Teyateyaneng and Tunis.
    • Lambertus is the only person with full admin rights for the OSM forum and he is apparently not available. Therefore, there is discussion on the talk mailing list to consider setting up a new forum. Some of the concerns discussed were preserving the existing data.
    • Pascal Neis’s How did you contribute to OpenStreetMap? now has a heatmap Calendar too!


    • The Data Working Group (DWG) has reverted Facebook’s undiscussed import of poor quality autorecognized streets in Egypt. See also the discussion on one of the reverted changesets.

    OpenStreetMap Foundation

    • The DWG (Data Working Group) is looking for English to Chinese translation help.
    • Sven Geggus thinks that because membership@osmfoundation.org uses Google’s email services and rejects emails from his server as “spam”, it might be a reason to resign from OSMF . (Deutsch) (automatic translation)


    • The BarCamp Takoradi 2016 will take place on 27th August 2016 in Takoradi, Ghana at a venue that is yet to be decided. The theme for this year is “Professionalism in entertainment and entrepreneurship”.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • Ramani Huria has worked with Garmin & Mapillary to conduct street view mapping of Dar es Salaam using Mapillary. This street view imagery can be used in numerous ways, including to take virtual walks & explore landmarks, map key points of interest, and survey solutions.


    • Markus Reuter from Netzpolitik.org introduces an OpenStreetMap project Surveillance under Surveillance. It is an interactive map of all the surveillance cameras mapped so far.
    • A free Mapbox GL basemap, OSM liberty from OpenStreetMap, with complete liberty to use and self host. It is a fork of OSM Bright based on free data sources with a mission for a clear good looking design for the everyday user.
    • Stamen launched a worldwide version of the OSM-based Terrain map. The repo is public and Stamen welcomes collaborators.
    • If a client that uses the tile servers used for OSM’s “standard” map style (i.e. tile.openstreetmap.org etc.), and doesn’t send an HTTP referrer, it will operate with reduced priority in the future, as Paul Norman announced on the dev mailing list. It is done to reduce the overloading of those servers. The overloading was caused inter alia, by FastPokeMap.
    • Lukas Martinelli asks what Antarctica really looks like? That’s why Martin Raifer points to an old article (by Christoph Hormann).


    Open Data

    • Christoph Hormann analyzed the record ALOS AW3D30 of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. ALOS AW3D30 is a global digital elevation model under a free license.
    • Michael Hörz from Goethe-Institut sums up (UK) the recent Open Data discussion in Germany. Worth mentioning here is the Mapnificent project on OSM base.
    • IBM announces it’s collaboration with Mapbox to bring geospatial analysis or “mapping” to business users by integrating it into Watson Analytics and thereby opening up a new level of analytics to all.




    • Mapzen elaborates about its routing service Valhalla and how it provides country-specific access restrictions for pedestrians. For this, the library Mjolnir is used to create tiled routing data.
    • Geofabrik has revised its range of free shapefiles. In a transition phase, both versions are offered, but later only the new one will be. The free shapefiles have been enhanced to include cycling and walking routes.
    • Users Zabot who is working under the Google Summer of Code writes about how OSM2World now dominates reflections on building windows.


    Software Version Release date Comment
    OSRM Backend 5.3.2 2016-08-09 One bug fixed
    Naviki Android 3.45.3 2016-08-11 Two errors fixed
    SQLite 3.14.1 2016-08-11 Performance enhancement to the page-cache, fix of –rbu option
    JOSM 10786 2016-08-12 Java 7 not supported any more, new function “Paste at source position”, support geo: URLs
    Mapbox GL JS v0.22.0 2016-08-12 Two breaking changes, seven new features & improvements, eight bugfixes
    Mapillary Android 2.38 2016-08-12 Many extensions and some bug fixes
    Mapillary iOS 4.4.9 2016-08-12 Three bugs fixed
    OsmAnd+ for Android var 2016-08-12 New UI, enhanced POI search, improved POI and OSM editing
    PostgreSQL 9.5.4 ff 2016-08-12 Update releases fixing a number of issues of 9.5.3
    Maps.me Android var 2016-08-15 POI for Olympia, updated map data

    Provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

    Did you know …

    • Jochen Topf blogs about the latest changes made to the taginfo ‘projects’ feature, also encouraging users to add their projects to the page.

    Other “geo” things

    • Astro Digital won first place in the NGA Maps Actually Hackathon this weekend. They analyzed thousands of satellite images to automatically detect missing buildings in OpenStreetMap (OSM).
    • The Washington Post explains that “Google Maps did not ‘delete’ Palestine — but it does impact how you see it.”
    • Adrian Lobe from the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung suggests, that the use of Google Maps “areas of interest” would not always show the truth and he suspects that Google manipulates and nudges its users imperceptibly. (Deutsch) (automatic translation)
    • Google encourages its users to add local knowledge of their surroundings, such as opening hours, noise levels, etc, to help provide better maps.

    Upcoming Events

    Dónde Qué Fecha País
    Cochabamba OpenStreetMap: Nuevas Tecnologías e Investigación en Ciencias Sociales 19/08/2016 bolivia
    Kyoto 京都国宝・浪漫マッピングパーティ:第2回 特別編 サントリー京都ビール工場、恵解山古墳、ねじりまんぽ 20/08/2016 japan
    Derby Derby 23/08/2016 united kingdom
    Bonn FOSS4G 2016 24/08/2016-26/08/2016 germany
    Duitama Toma de trazas GPX transporte Público Duitama 25/08/2016 colombia
    Bonn FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint Part II 27/08/2016-28/08/2016 germany
    Kanagawa 武蔵新城マッピングパーティー 新城テラス 27/08/2016 japan
    Aiglun Opération libre 27/08/2016-28/08/2016 france

    Note: If you like to see your event here, please put it into the calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM. Please check your event in our public calendar preview and correct it, where appropiate..

    This weekly was produced by Laura Barroso, Nakaner, Peda, Rogehm, SomeoneElse, SrrReal, derFred, jinalfoflia, mgehling, softgrow, seumas.

    by weeklyteam at August 19, 2016 01:27 PM

    August 17, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    “It’s incredible that history decays almost immediately”: Evan Amos and the Vanamo Online Game Museum

    File:Evan Amos and the Wikipedia Effect.webm

    Evan Amos describes the Wikipedia Effect: “if someone does a YouTube video about the Super Nintendo, they’re going to show my picture [of it] when they’re talking about it. So the whole Wikipedia Effect is that you take these photos, and you put them on pages, and they almost become the default photos for those items over time.” You can also view it on Wikimedia Commons, YouTube, and Vimeo. A version without burned-in subtitles is available.


    If you’re into video game consoles—from the Magnavox Odyssey and the Sears Tele-Games Atari Pong to the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One—chances are that you have seen or perhaps even used the works of Evan Amos. That’s because Evan, a self-professed fan of video games history, is perhaps the world’s most prolific creator of freely licensed photos of video game consoles, which he uploads to Wikimedia Commons as part of his Kickstarter-funded Vanamo Online Game Museum.

    Earlier this year, we interviewed Evan in his Brooklyn, New York apartment, and asked him about his beginnings at Wikipedia, his Kickstarter project, his thoughts on being a photographer in the Wikimedia movement, and his motivation to contribute to Wikipedia.

    “I had been visiting Wikipedia articles on video game consoles for a while, and I was just surprised by how low quality photos were on the pages”, recalls Evan. “I just thought to myself: well, I could do better. Wikipedia offers a low barrier of entry: if you want to change something, just do it—so I did.”

    Having started contributing to Wikipedia with pictures of video games consoles, Evan got hooked in very quickly. “I started with video games, and it has always been my main focus, but then I just fell in love with the project. So I started grabbing anything that would fit on my table: a hammerduct tapecoffee filters; if I had it around me at the time, I would just photograph it,” he says.

    “I was taking photos of video games equipment, but I also took photos of food, because it’s cheap and it’s readily available,” Evan remembers. “I took pictures of candy and fast food, because I’m a horrible eater,” he admits. “My photo of a Big Mac has actually caused quite a lot of controversy. Some people don’t think that it accurately represents a Big Mac because it just looks too nice, and because I messed up and put the cheese on the top when it’s normally on the bottom”, he adds, laughing.

    Photo by Evan Amos, public domain/CC0.

    Evan’s picture of a Big Mac has been recognised as a featured picture on Wikimedia Commons. It is used on over thirty pages across Wikimedia projects, and receives tens of thousands of views every month. Photo by Evan Amos, public domain/CC0.

    After over three years of tireless work on photos of video game consoles and equipment as well as fruits and vegetables and everyday objects, Evan felt he had hit a wall. “It all really started just from a desire to improve things, but then I noticed that the photos meant something to people, they had an impact, that they mattered,” he says. “I didn’t have a lot of things that I wanted to take pictures of, so I thought that if I could get all of these consoles and take photos of them and make them available to anyone in high quality and in a free format, that’s something that would last”.

    In November 2013, Evan launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, asking the general public for their help in funding a project he called the Vanamo Online Game Museum, “a free, digital archive of video game history made through high quality pictures and articles.” Remembering his campaign—the first of many Wikimedia crowdfunders to come—Evan tells us: “I thought it would be a good idea to show the value of the work I had done, that the photos I had put up had already gotten so much re-use. I also wanted to be able to take the consoles apart, to show the inside of them, show the motherboards, taking it to a very thorough, detailed level, which you can’t really do with someone else’s collection.”

    It might have been a tough sell, but with the generous help of the video gaming community, Evan’s campaign has finished with almost US$17,500 donated by over a thousand people, helping him expand a project that continues to this day. In the meantime, Evan has uploaded almost 2,000 pictures to Wikimedia Commons, 60 of which have been officially recognized as being of quality status by the Commons community, with a further 30 awarded featured pictures status.

    Photo by Evan Amos, public domain/CC0.

    The Wii, a seventh-generation console, sold over 101 million units by March 2012. This was one of Evan’s first video game consoles photos, taken in August 2010. Photo by Evan Amos, public domain/CC0.

    As one of the rewards of being a Wikipedia photographer, Evan lists the impact of his work. “Sometimes I think that the project costs me a lot of time and effort, but then it’s minuscule compared to the impact that the work has once it’s out there, and that’s a big motivator to keep going,” he says. “My photos have been used in newspapers, magazines, blogs, videos, TV programs, and textbooks; pretty much every medium that a photo can be on, which is crazy, because I’m just some guy taking photos of stuff in his apartment,” he laughs.

    As we ask Evan about his main motivation to contribute to Wikipedia, he has his answer ready in an instant. “Sometimes I ask that myself, why am I doing this? And the answer is, I just like making things better, I like putting stuff in little sorted boxes,” says Evan. “I guess it’s the sort of inspiration that archivists and historians have. You can have a lot of information, you can have a lot of photos, but if you can create context for that, if you can gather all these random things and bring them together in a way, and present that to someone—that’s amazing,” he adds.

    “I’m doing this because I love the idea of preserving the history of video games”, Evan says, simply. “Video games are a multibillion dollar industry, but it has a horrible history coverage because it’s seen as a hobby. If you try to find pictures of the Magnavox Odyssey or other things, you’ll see that a lot of relatively recent stuff doesn’t exist anymore, because companies went out of business or things were simply thrown away.”

    “It’s incredible that history decays almost immediately, and that’s why trying to preserve it is so worthwhile.”

    For a full gallery of Evan’s pictures, please visit his user page on Wikimedia Commons. You can use the navigation box at the bottom of the page to see his pictures of candy, food and everyday objects.

    Interview by Victor Grigas, Storyteller and Video Producer, Wikimedia Foundation

    Profile by Tomasz W. Kozlowski, Blog Writer, Wikimedia Foundation

    by Tomasz Kozlowski and Victor Grigas at August 17, 2016 08:31 PM

    Is Wikipedia the largest-ever digital humanities project? Exploring an emerging relationship

    The Pan America Union. Photo via the Library of Congress, public domain/CC0.

    The Pan American Union. Photo via the Library of Congress, public domain/CC0.

    Digital humanities is an area of research where humanities and computing collide; it’s a field of study that creates an opportunity to understand Wikipedia from new perspectives, such as its value in the preservation of historical memory and collective knowledge. For this reason, the Digital Humanities Network (Red HD) invited me to participate as speaker in the XXXIV International Latin American Studies Association Congress (LASA), celebrated in New York City from 27 to 30 May.

    Red HD is an initiative created by academics from different Mexican universities. Created in 2011, the group kindles and participates in global discussions on the role of digital humanities. They collaborated with Wikimedia Mexico to create specialized track about knowledge production during Wikimania 2015. On the other hand, LASA is the world’s largest association dedicated to the study of Latin America. It has about 12,000 members, and its annual congress gathers academics, intellectuals, and associations of the region to discuss about the most relevant topics on their respective disciplines.

    I had the chance to participate in the session “Latin American Digital Humanities: Emerging Strategies and Spaces II,” where I presented “Archeology of knowledge in the Spanish Wikipedia,” a paper about vandalism on Wikipedia. This text, available under a CC-BY license, explores the possibility of mapping the vandalism in Wikipedia through the View History feature. The result would help to establish correlations between the current narrative in the encyclopedia and the events at a given moment.

    My LASA participation helped to encourage a discussion about the role of Wikipedia in the collective construction of knowledge. This debate is not strange to the digital humanities, since it represents an approach to how does the encyclopedia create, consolidate and validate the public knowledge, and it should be in foroms like the LASA Congress to encourage more academics to approach, study, and participate in Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia in digital humanities: voices from the academy

    “Wikipedia could be the largest digital humanities project we’ve ever seen,” says David Domínguez, faculty member of the College of History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “Considering that digital humanities is a field and not just a discipline, there’s plenty of space to work transversally and collaboratively both from and toward Wikipedia.” Isabel Galina from the Institute for Bibliographic Studies at UNAM agrees: “Digital humanities and Wikipedia share similitudes in important topics about finding new forms of production and knowledge. Wikipedia is a functional model and an optimal space to support the teaching and research of the digital humanities.”

    Paola Ricaurte, professor and researcher at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico City, thinks that Wikipedia can be used in digital humanities both in teaching and research. “In the teaching side, using Wikipedia as a tool encourages the development of different skills amongst the students. In the research side, [Wikipedia is useful] as a study object from a distant perspective and as an opportunity to open ourselves to the interdisciplinary work.”

    Anita Say Chan, from the University of Illinois in the United States, thinks Wikipedia can be key in divulge techniques about how to teach digital literacy. “Of course, it also [serves] to publish, edit, and intervene in debates on the construction of collaborative knowledge, especially in topics related to women and minorities in Wikipedia.” Researcher Enedina Ortega pointed out that “we realized in LASA of the necessity of knowing about more projects, resources, networks, and I think that the Wikimedia initiative plays a very important role on it.”

    “Wikimedia is a digital tool for content publication, either as an educational, promotional, or divulgative resource for the different contents produced by the academic agents (students, professors, i.e.) and the non-academic (NGOs, companies, government agencies)”, says Ricardo Fabián Chimal, another researcher. About the LASA presentation, he indicates that “Wikipedia serves as a valuable canvas for data mining and other textual analyses that, based on the composition, omission or alteration of an article, enable us to find relevant information: a hidden resumé, a defensive standpoint about a historical event or a biography, the use of rhetoric, censorship, assumptions on certain social or gender roles, et cetera.”

    How do we involve digital humanities in Wikipedia?

    Besides encouraging the discussion on the role of Wikipedia in digital humanities, the LASA presentation raised concerns about future participation. Some Red HD members, such as Paola Ricaurte, already work with Wikipedia: “I’m a current member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Education Collaborative, and I’m developing a mentorship program for teachers in Latin America with Melina Masnatta.” Likewise, Anita Say Chan told me that she participated and co-organized an edit-a-thon on feminist and art in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Other members of Red HD have not participated yet, but they showed interest after the presentation and the work of Wikimedia Mexico. “[I’m] interested in the efforts to create Wikipedia articles on topics that are underrepresented and require more visibility, i.e., those about women in science or in literature, or some cultural traditions”, Isabel Galina said. Ricardo Fabián Chimal, expert in translation, adds that “from the [Wikimedia Mexico] activities, I’d like to participate in the Education Program, but I’d like more to be part of any activity or project related to translation; maybe with the Content Translation tool or [organizing] a translation edit-a-thon.”

    Wikipedia is a very fertile ground for the creation of innovative projects related to the digital humanities. The LASA experience, possible thanks to a Wikimedia Foundation TPS grant, resulted in a rich exchange of ideas and future projects (some came in the very near future—I spoke about Wikipedia to Anita Say Chan’s class at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City on 23 June). The visibility of Wikipedia in the academic fora is, undoubtedly, an growth opportunity for our global initiative and a way to reach new horizons for a stronger movement, specially from the knowledge production in Latin America and the Global South.

    Pepe Flores, Wikimedia community member

    by Pepe Flores at August 17, 2016 07:52 PM

    Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies

    The Future of Text is almost now

    Howard Rheingold and Pascal Zachary at the Future of Text Symposium, 2015.

    Futurists are fond of predicting that, one day, humans will communicate telepathically, thus drastically reducing the need for the written and spoken word. Until that day arrives, however, mere mortals must continue to communicate primarily with text,  a vehicle fraught with pitfalls but loaded with  potential.

    It is the latter that will be the focus of a fast-paced, one-day symposium in the Bay Area August 25. The Future of Text Symposium is most certainly becoming one of the most esoteric intellectual endeavors of our time.

    And while it has been steadily evolving since first presented in 2011 at the British Library in London, the concept remains the same: Brilliant minds gather to share their most cogent thoughts on where text has been, where it is and where it’s going–and they do it within a interactive structure that keeps the idea stream rushing along in a  torrent.

    We must say with considerable pride that Wiki Strategies is both a sponsor of this year’s FOT, and, through founder Pete Forsyth, a participant. Pete, like the others on the panel, will have his 15  minutes of, if not fame, foment–10 minutes to present his most critical thoughts on text, and what lessons about its future may be drawn from 15 years of Wikipedia, followed by 5 minutes of discussion.

    He’ll be sharing the stage with, among others, the following luminaries:

    • Peter Norvig, director of research for Google.
    • Ted Nelson, thinker, poet, philosopher, coiner of the word “hypertext.”
    • Bruce Horn, Chief Scientist for Smart Devices, Intel and creator of Macintosh Finder.
    • Marc Canter, tech evangelist known as the “godfather of multimedia”
    • Livia Polanyi, consulting professor of linguistics, Stanford University. Formerly principal researcher for Microsoft, focusing on natural language processing.
    • Heather Gold, stand-up comedian and champion of interactive, online shows.

    The symposium is presided over by Frode Hegland, self-described as the developer of “the powerful OS X utility Liquid | Flow and Liquid | Author, a new perspective in word processing. He is collaborating on The Time Browser project and is part of the Knowledge Federation.

    His co-host is Houria Iderkou, founder and owner of skin care company Néfertari. She and Frode have worked together on various projects for more than  a decade, and have nurtured FOT along  since its inception.

    We’d love to have everyone come to  Mountain View on the 25th to join in the repartee, but, unfortunately, the event is already  maxed out capacity wise. You see, the in crowd in the text world avidly awaits the announcement of upcoming symposia and seats disappear quickly. But we intend to do a bit of filming while we’re there, and we’ll be writing about the event in this space. So stay tuned and we’ll bring you the highlights–in text and video, and, hopefully, so robustly communicated that you will feel as though you were there in person.

    These organizations are cosponsors of the Symposium:

    by Dan Cook at August 17, 2016 07:00 PM

    Wiki Education Foundation

    Learning to share and sharing to learn: Public engagement and the Year of Science

    Dr. Debby Walser-Kuntz taught with Wikipedia in her immunobiology course at Carleton College. Rachel Cheung and Dana Paine were students in that class. In this collaborative post, they describe the experience, identifying benefits to their research and science communications skills.

    When I was deciding whether or not to incorporate a Wikipedia writing project into my upper level biology course for the Wiki Education Foundation’s Year of Science, I weighed the potential benefits and drawbacks to replacing the more traditional short research paper I had previously assigned.

    Students in the Immunology course already complete a community-based academic civic engagement (or academic service learning) project with a community partner. One aspect of the community-based projects I appreciate is that they provide an authentic audience for the students, one that reaches beyond my office as I sit grading at the end of the term.

    Wikipedia intrigued me as a different form of engagement, one of public scholarship, defined by Imagining America as “diverse modes of creating and circulating knowledge for and with publics and communities”. As the students and I came to appreciate, Wikipedia embodies both the “for” and the “with” communities, as individuals beyond our classroom read, commented on, and continue to edit our Wikipedia articles.

    Many undergraduate science majors will go on to graduate or medical school, or into fields such as public policy or public health, where clear communication is essential. The past five to ten years have seen several science organizations host conferences to help scientists develop tools to effectively engage with the public. The purpose of improved communication is not only to share scientific findings, but also to shape policy and public perception.

    There were two key goals for the Wikipedia assignment: build research skills using the scientific literature and practice translating science effectively for a general audience. A short nine weeks after working their way through the Wikipedia tutorials, the students’ completed articles had been peer reviewed, edited, and posted.

    Students reflected on this process in their portfolios. The following excerpts, written by two students enrolled in the course, demonstrate the depth of learning provided by this assignment.

    Building Research Skills

    Although prior science courses had taught me how to approach reading primary literature and write lab reports, this experience required me to go one step further. I had to shift the focus from simply reading the literature to searching for a comprehensive slate of relevant sources, assessing their credibility, and building an article from scratch.

    Finding sources, while seemingly simple in theory, ended up being incredibly difficult. My topic, for instance, was C3a, one protein in a complicated complement cascade triggered during an immune response. Typing C3a into the PubMed database yielded 3,042 results, far more than I could possibly read and evaluate. While this meant there was plenty of readily available information about the topic at hand, our goal was not to summarize every study that had ever included our subject. With limited time, we had to distill an immense amount of information into a few key ideas.

    To shape what I might want my article to look like, I read through general reviews of complement and formulated an outline of what my Wikipedia article would look like. I defined four core sections of my article (structure, formation, function, and regulation), and sketched in the specific information I already knew from my readings and the immunology course. From there, I was able to complete much more specific searches and find the information I needed without wading through marginally relevant articles and low-impact clinical trials.

    However, from here I needed to assess the validity of sources; beyond checking how many times an article had been cited or journal impact factors, I gained experience reading dense scientific papers and evaluating the validity of their results. This part of the research, while the most time consuming, let me take ownership of the article I edited. More than that, it enabled me to engage deeper with my course material, connecting it to laboratory methods, clinical research, and other biological networks.

    Communicating Science Effectively

    After we had completed the research component, the next step was to write. Although most of our science classes involve a scientific writing component, it is usually in the form of a scientific “journal-esque” lab report. As liberal arts students, we had experience writing for a more general audience in our humanities and art classes. Scientific and nonscientific writing have distinct forms, and as students we are working on developing our voices in both.

    But the Wikipedia assignment introduced a skill that I think often gets overlooked in science education: translating complex scientific ideas so that they can be communicated to the general public. It takes a thorough and sophisticated understanding of any topic to be able to communicate it in a clear and effective way for a general audience.

    I found that the process of finding a voice to communicate these scientific ideas, organizing my thoughts, and deciding upon the essential information forced me to more deeply and completely understand the research that I had been doing.

    The Roman philosopher Seneca famously said, “While we teach, we learn,” and I think that it is that same teaching and learning philosophy that allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of scientific concepts through the process of writing. Our Wikipedia articles were supposed to synthesize the detailed, specific, and highly scientific research that we did in a way that informs a lay audience about the subject. Through our articles we took on the role of teacher.

    Instead of simply summarizing the details of the papers we read, it was important that we interpret the most important aspects of the papers and communicate them in a way that eliminated scientific jargon and focused on the key concepts – this required both a deepening and broadening of our understanding of the research.

    I realized the gaps in my own knowledge and the areas where I needed to do more research as I considered how to fully explain a particular idea without using highly specific scientific terms. Ultimately, the process of writing for a general audience helped us to think about science and writing in a different way, forcing an expansion and synthesis in our knowledge and understanding.

    Concluding Thoughts

    It was not until I read through their portfolios that I recognized the students had achieved more than the original goals for this assignment. Students not only gained useful practice in both the process of scientific research and writing, but reported additional unexpected benefits, such as the discovery of the “Talk” and “View history” pages, which allows them to assess the accuracy of articles, or the experience of publishing original illustrations under a Creative Commons license.

    And, finally, many students expressed a sense of pride – and sometimes, surprise – that as undergraduates they had already learned enough to share in a broad public conversation about science.

    If you’d like to get involved in integrating a Wikipedia-driven science communication assignment into your own course, Wiki Ed can help. Find out more about our Year of Science initiative, which is still recruiting for fall, or connect to us at contact@wikiedu.org.

    Photo: Bust of Seneca, by Jean-Pol GRANDMONTSelf-photographed, CC BY 3.0.

    by Guest Contributor at August 17, 2016 04:00 PM

    Lorna M Campbell

    Choose #LTA6

    Vote #LTA6

    Sorry, it had to be done :}  I’m delighted that the Open Education Team at the University of Edinburgh where I work has been nominated for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Community Choice Awards, and y’know, if you feel that way inclined, you might like to vote for us.  You can find out more about the Community Choice Awards here Finalists and Community Choice Voting and you can vote for us by sending an email to LTAwards-vote@alt.ac.uk with the subject line #LTA6.  Or alternatively you can tweet a message with the hashtags #altc #LTA6. Those clever people at ALT have even set up a link to generate the tweet for you 🙂

    The Open Education Team at the University of Edinburgh is a virtual team within the Information Services Group, Learning, Teaching and Web Services Division and our role is to coordinate open education and open knowledge activities across the University.

    The team is made up of Lorna M Campbell, OER Liaison – Open Scotland, Stuart Nicol, Learning Technology Team Manager, Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, OER Advisor, Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian-in-Residence, Jo Spiller, Head of Educational Design and Engagement, Eugenia Twomey, Student Engagement Officer, Anne-Marie Scott, Head of Digital Learning Applications & Media, Susan Greig, Learning Technology Advisor and Martin Tasker, Open Content Curation Intern.

    You can find out more about our work in the video below which, you’ll be relieved to hear, is not filmed in the style of Trainspotting ;}

    by admin at August 17, 2016 10:11 AM

    August 16, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Wikimedia’s global impact, my perspective: Lucas Reynoso

    Lucas with Osmar and Jorge. Photo by Jorge Alejandro Vargas, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Lucas with Osmar and Jorge at Wikimania 2016. Photo by Jorge Alejandro Vargas, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    I attended Wikimania for the first time this year, an annual conference that gathers together participants and of Wikipedia and its sister projects. Wikipedians, developers, scholars, open-source and free knowledge advocates from around the globe get together to hold presentations, discussions, and workshops to tackle the problems they are facing and provide updates from both a technical and non-technical perspective.

    I had never been to such an international event before. I have edited Wikipedia for over five years and enjoyed participating in local events organized by Wikimedia Argentina, but I’d never had the opportunity to become exposed to the larger Wikimedia Community. Attending Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario was an eye-opening experience for me because it helped me gain deeper insight into this great community.

    Lucas Reynoso. Photo by Lcsrns, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Lucas Reynoso. Photo by Lcsrns, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Learning about different cultures is important to understanding the wider global movement.  It also gave me an appreciation for the value of cooperation between similar communities, like what we do in Wikimedia Iberocoop, the regional cooperation initiative of Ibero-America. The challenges we meet are usually similar, and the Global South chapters have proven  that they can work together.

    I was particularly impressed with the Inspire Campaign. Every year, the international Wikimedia Community identifies a common problem and collaborates to find solutions to it. These problems may include gender diversity on Wikimedia projects, online harassment, etc. The Wikimedia Foundation’s resources team provides funding and support for the ideas coming out of this initiative. The yearly campaign is open for everyone to join, and I certainly plan to.

    My conversations with people from different countries definitely broadened my perspective of the international Wikimedia community. I think it is important for all of us to work together to face our common challenges. The growth of the movement with its rich pool of editors, developers and scholars working collaboratively on several projects in different languages is truly inspiring to me. Thank you, Wikimania.

    Lucas Reynoso, Wikimedia Argentina
    Edited by Giselle Bordoy, Wikimedia Argentina
    Samir Elsharbaty, Wikimedia Foundation

    by Lucas Reynoso, Giselle Bordoy and Samir ElSharbaty at August 16, 2016 11:25 PM

    Wikimedia Foundation files letter encouraging California Supreme Court review of key intermediary liability case

    The Earl Warren Building and Courthouse, where the Supreme Court of California sits. Photo by Coolcaesar, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

    The Earl Warren Building and Courthouse, where the Supreme Court of California sits. Photo by Coolcaesar, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

    On Monday, August 15, 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation filed a letter with the Supreme Court of California encouraging review of Hassell v. Bird. The case involves important principles of intermediary liability, due process, and freedom of speech, all of which are essential to the continued health of the Wikimedia projects.

    The case began when an attorney, Dawn Hassell, sued a former client in California state court over an allegedly defamatory Yelp review. When the former client never showed up in court, Hassell won a default judgment against them. The court subsequently ordered both the former client and Yelp, a non-party to the case, to remove the defamatory reviews from Yelp’s website. If Yelp refused to remove the content, according to the Court, Yelp could be held in contempt, and face fines.

    Yelp appealed the decision, arguing that it was unfair to require Yelp to remove the content from its website when it had not had an opportunity to be heard in the underlying case; that Yelp as a neutral hosting platform was immune from liability for user-created content under Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act (CDA 230); and that the removal order violated Yelp’s own freedom of speech as a curator of user content. Unfortunately, the State Appeals Court rejected that appeal in early June. Yelp is now asking the Supreme Court of California to reverse that decision.

    Our letter details several concerns about the lower courts’ rulings. First, under CDA 230, neutral hosting platforms like Yelp and the Wikimedia Foundation are supposed to be broadly immune from liability for user-created content, including liability for defamation. This policy has been, and remains, essential to the success of the Wikimedia projects and many other major websites across the internet. The lower courts’ decisions could allow litigants to make an end-run around CDA 230 by obtaining default judgments and using the contempt power to impose exactly the kind of liability that the law was intended to avoid.

    In addition, we believe due process requires that neutral hosting platforms like the Wikimedia Foundation receive legal notice of this and similar lawsuits to remove user-created content. That way, platforms can have an opportunity to intervene and potentially defend that content before they are ordered to remove it from their sites. This is especially important for platforms with international user communities like ours, where community members may not always be able to travel to a California court to defend their speech.

    Moreover, such removal orders may harm the speech of others. Because the Wikimedia projects are written collaboratively by many different contributors, removing content may impact the contributions of other users who built upon it or relied on it for proper context. This makes it crucial that hosting providers like the Wikimedia Foundation have the opportunity to intervene and defend the legality of user speech before that speech is ordered removed.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that Yelp—like the Wikimedia projects—allows users to delete or edit their own contributions. We believe that there is no need for courts to order hosting providers to remove user contributions when they could simply ask the litigants themselves to do so.

    We hope the Supreme Court of California will choose to review this case to clarify this important point of intermediary liability law.

    Jim Buatti, Legal Fellow
    Aeryn Palmer, Legal Counsel

    by Jim Buatti and Aeryn Palmer at August 16, 2016 07:42 PM

    Opening the door to a new look: improving Wikipedia.org

    Photo by H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Photo by H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Everyone who uses the Wikipedia.org portal is familiar with the look of the page: a beautiful puzzle globe encircled by the top ten viewed languages; a long list with Wikipedias in hundreds of languages that can all be read and explored; the search box that can make queries in nearly any language; and a compilation of related Wikimedia projects.

    Over the last eight months, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Portal team, part of the Discovery department, has been busy improving the discoverability of information within the portal to make it more contemporary and easier to use.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0

    To start, we’ve updated the search box. When you are entering a query, you will now see images and metadata that correspond to your search, and you’re also free change the search language without leaving the page.

    We’ve also optimized the portal site, making it load faster by utilizing smaller sized images and streamlining the page code.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    A fairly inconspicuous change to the page will immediately detect your browser’s preferred (or default) language and rearrange the top ten links to display those languages first, along with the remaining top ten viewed wiki’s by language, around the globe.

    In this example, The Free Encyclopedia is displayed in Portuguese, since it is the browser’s first preferred language and English is the second.

    Screenshot, CCBY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    We’ve also added sister project descriptions, located in the page’s footer, which will hopefully spark curiosity as to what a person might find when they visit those individual projects.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    The look and feel of the long list of every available language wiki (sorted by article count) has been modernized and placed inside an elegant drop down. This new feature makes finding your language wiki a bit easier on the eyes as well as providing easy access on any device.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    We hope you enjoy using the new portal page! You can view a short video that shows some of these new features.

    And, if you don’t quite remember what the old Wikipedia portal site looked like before we made any changes, here’s a reminder.

    Deborah Tankersley, Product Manager, Discovery
    Wikimedia Foundation


    by Deborah Tankersley at August 16, 2016 04:27 PM

    Sam Wilson

    Flattening MediaWiki's categories

    , Perth City Library

    I've long felt that MediaWiki categories introduce too much confusion. In most wikis they're thought of as a hierarchy, but actually the software just structures them as a directed graph. So lately I've been tinkering with the idea that instead of categories being linked together at all they could be thought of as 'tags' or keywords. This would mean that they would not have any sort of structure to themselves beyond a name and a description (the latter being just the contents of the category page).

    Because categories never seem to be detailed enough—or they're too detailed. For example, say you have a set of pages describing the working habits of novelists: who they were, where and how they worked, that sort of thing. So there would be categories about the people ('Australian', 'Female', 'Born in 1883', 'Deceased'), their working environment ('Urban', 'Rural', 'Wrote in longhand', 'Refused to have a radio in the house'), and their work ('Fantasy', 'Pastoral', 'Boring'). How is one to get a list of male novelists who wrote crime-fiction on a typewriter? The various cross-sections of the categories can never be fully defined and even trying to do the more popular intersections is tedious and full of redundancy.


    I'm working on a little extension that chucks all this away, and instead works on the idea that each page has a set of categories (as is currently the case) and that's all; there are no parent categories. So, it becomes simple to produce a list of any given category, as well as any category intersection (or complement).

    The extension provides a special page, Special:FlatCats, which initially presents a list of all (or the top n) categories and displays no pages. Each category has a plus and a minus icon next to it, which the user selects in order to include or exclude that category from the list of displayed pages. When a category has been selected, the category list is reduced to only include those categories that are referenced by at least one page in the current set (or exclude all that are referenced, in the case of negative selection).

    So it is easy to select all female non-Australian novelists with something like: [+Female -Australian +Novelist].

    The other part of the extension is to automatically include the selection part of this searching interface at the top of Category pages, so that navigating to a category not only provides the normal list of pages in that category but also gives an easy way to view related lists of pages (i.e. what would currently be thought of as subcategories).

    by Sam at August 16, 2016 11:05 AM

    August 15, 2016

    Wiki Education Foundation

    The Roundup: Political science on Wikipedia

    The Wikipedia Year of Science has had a significant impact on Wikipedia’s coverage of STEM fields. But we’ve also seen significant improvements of articles in political science.

    One of the best examples comes from Columbia University’s Order and Violence course, led by Dr. Christopher Blattman.

    The Arab Spring was a series of revolutionary protests across the Arab world, starting in Tunisia in 2010. The wake of those protests in inescapable among foreign policy discussions today. A student in Dr. Blattman’s course reworked the Wikipedia article on the Arab Spring, contributing nearly 3,500 words to the article. It had been flagged for improvement for at least a year. Thanks to this student editor, the article was expanded to include a summary of expert analysis and the role media played in the protests.

    Incredibly, since that student took it on, it’s been seen 238,798 times. It’s the first search result for “Arab spring” on Google. That’s a pretty staggering impact for an undergraduate homework assignment. It’s clear evidence of the power that Wikipedia has for classroom assignments. It transforms passive learning into an act of contributing knowledge.

    It’s just one example of the kind of Wikipedia article likely to be referenced by the public, particularly during an election year. Students in the course tackled a broad scope of topics. The article on Warlords was just a list. It’s now a deep, thoughtful summary of thinking about the forms of warlords around the world. Another tackled the article on the broad, and difficult to write, topic of Rebellion itself. Two student editors expanded the timely article on Ethnic conflict. Those interested in the refugee crisis can find an excellent article on Western European colonialism and colonization.

    Articles from Dr. Blattman’s class have been seen, collectively, a staggering 3.5 million times. That shows what’s possible when higher education classrooms connect to Wikipedia: Literally millions of people gain access to thorough, thoughtful, and deeper information about the political issues that move the world.

    We’d love to help more courses like this one get on board. If you’d like to find out more about what’s possible for your own course, get in touch with us: contact@wikiedu.org.

    by Eryk Salvaggio at August 15, 2016 04:00 PM

    Tech News

    Tech News issue #33, 2016 (August 15, 2016)

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    August 15, 2016 12:00 AM

    August 14, 2016

    Andrew Gray

    History of Parliament and Wikidata – the first round complete

    Back in January, I wrote up some things I was aiming to do this year, including:

    Firstly, I’d like to clear off the History of Parliament work on Wikidata. I haven’t really written this up yet (maybe that’s step 1.1) but, in short, I’m trying to get every MP in the History of Parliament database listed and crossreferenced in Wikidata. At the moment, we have around 5200 of them listed, out of a total of 22200 – so we’re getting there. (Raw data here.) Finding the next couple of thousand who’re listed, and mass-creating the others, is definitely an achievable task.

    Well, seven months later, here’s where it stands:

    • 9,372 of a total 21,400 (43.7%) of History of Parliament entries been matched to records for people in Wikidata.
    • These 9,372 entries represent 7,257 people – 80 have entries in three HoP volumes, and 1,964 in two volumes. (This suggests that, when complete, we will have about ~16,500 people for those initial 21,400 entries – so maybe we’re actually over half-way there).
    • These are crossreferenced to a lot of other identifiers. 1,937 of our 7,257 people (26.7%) are in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 1,088 (15%) are in the National Portrait Gallery database, and 2,256 (31.1%) are linked to their speeches in the digital edition of Hansard. There is a report generated each night crosslinking various interesting identifiers.
    • Every MP in the 1820-32 volume (1,367 of them) is now linked and identified, and the 1790-1820 volume is now around 85% complete. (This explains the high showing for Hansard, which covers 1805 onwards)
    • The metadata for these is still limited – a lot more importing work to do – but in some cases pretty decent; 94% of the 1820-32 entries have a date of death, for example.

    Of course, there’s a lot more still to do – more metadata to add, more linkages to make, and so on. It still does not have any reasonable data linking MPs to constituencies, which is a major gap (but perhaps one that can be filled semi-automatically using the HoP/Hansard links and a clever script).

    But as a proof of concept, I’m very happy with it. Here’s some queries playing with the (1820-32) data:

    • There are 990 MPs with an article about them in at least one language/WM project. Strikingly, ten of these don’t have an English Wikipedia article (yet). The most heavily written-about MP is – to my surprise – David Ricardo, with articles in 67 Wikipedias. (The next three are Peel, Palmerston, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton).
    • 303 of the 1,367 MPs (22.1%) have a recorded link to at least one other person in Wikidata by a close family relationship (parent, child, spouse, sibling) – there are 803 links, to 547 unique people – 108 of whom are also in the 1820-32 MPs list, and 439 of whom are from elsewhere in Wikidata. (I expect this number to rise dramatically as more metadata goes in).
    • The longest-surviving pre-Reform MP (of the 94% indexed by deathdate, anyway) was John Savile, later Earl of Mexborough, who made it to August 1899…
    • Of the 360 with a place of education listed, the most common is Eton (104), closely followed by Christ Church, Oxford (97) – there is, of course, substantial overlap between them. It’s impressive to see just how far we’ve come. No-one would ever expect to see anything like that for Parliament today, would we.
    • Of the 1,185 who’ve had first name indexed by Wikidata so far, the most popular is John (14.4%), then William (11.5%), Charles (7.5%), George (7.4%), and Henry (7.2%):

    • A map of the (currently) 154 MPs whose place of death has been imported:

    All these are of course provisional, but it makes me feel I’m definitely on the right track!

    So, you may be asking, what can I do to help? Why, thankyou, that’s very kind…

    • First of all, this is the master list, updated every night, of as-yet-unmatched HoP entries. Grab one, load it up, search Wikidata for a match, and add it (property P1614). Bang, one more down, and we’re 0.01% closer to completion…

    • It’s not there? (About half to two thirds probably won’t be). You can create an item manually, or you can set it aside to create a batch of them later. I wrote a fairly basic bash script to take a spreadsheet of HoP identifiers and basic metadata and prepare it for bulk-item-creation on Wikidata.
    • Or you could help sanitise some of the metadata – here’s some interesting edge cases:
      • This list is ~680 items who probably have a death date (the HoP slug ends in a number), but who don’t currently have one in Wikidata.

      • This list is ~540 people who are titled “Honourable” – and so are almost certainly the sons of noblemen, themselves likely to be in Wikidata – but who don’t have a link to their father. This list is the same, but for “Lord”, and this list has all the apparently fatherless men who were the 2nd through 9th holders of a title…

    by Andrew at August 14, 2016 08:55 PM

    Semantic MediaWiki

    SMWCon Fall 2015 registration open

    SMWCon Fall 2015 registration open

    September 1, 2015. The registration for the next SMWCon Fall in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (October 28-30, 2015) is now open. All interested participants can register at the ticketing site. The early bird registration period with reduced prices runs until October 5, 2015.

    See also our Call for Contributions and for more information on the conference, see the SMWCon Fall 2015 homepage.

    This page in other languages: defr

    SMWCon_Fall_2015_registration_open en

    by Wladek92 at August 14, 2016 06:54 PM

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.2.3 released

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.2.3 released

    October 11 2015. Semantic MediaWiki 2.2.3, is a bugfix release and has now been released. This new version is a minor release and provides bugfix for the current 2.2 branch of Semantic MediaWiki. Wikis using MediaWiki 1.25+ should update. See the page Installation for details on how to install, upgrade or update.

    This page in other languages: defr

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.2.3 released en

    by Wladek92 at August 14, 2016 06:41 PM

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.3.1 released

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.3.1 released

    January 4 2016. Semantic MediaWiki 2.3.1, is a bugfix release and has now been released. This new version is a minor release and provides bugfix for the current 2.3 branch of Semantic MediaWiki.See the page Installation for details on how to install, upgrade or update.

    This page in other languages: defr

    Semantic MediaWiki 2.3.1 released en

    by Wladek92 at August 14, 2016 05:58 PM

    Gerard Meijssen

    #Wikidata - #quality is not abstract

    There is a new "Request for Comments" on quality for Wikidata. It is an attempt to describe quality in a top down approach. It is about words, it is abstract and well, I wish them well.

    Wikidata has qualities. When you understand Wikidata by what it is and what it does you understand the not so abstract qualities it has. Its principle aim is to bring structure to the data that is in the Wikimedia projects.

    The first quality that Wikidata brought was that it replaced the text based interwiki links. The improvement was important; in a short space of time the quality of these interwiki links improved and the associated number of edits went down. The quality of the interwiki links is not absolute but there has been no research on the follow up.

    Interwiki links represent  connection between articles of Wikimedia projects that are about the same subject. Within a Wikipedia, a Wikisource there are links that are in essence similar to Wikidata statements. When a university is mentioned, the subject may be a student or staff at that university and when the statement has been made there is a reason for inclusion in categories. We can research the concurrence of such statements and Wikilinks. Quality improves when the concurrence improves.

    When enough data is available, it becomes possible to use Wikidata statements in templates. Templates and info boxes expect high quality data in Wikidata and the available data is typically not good enough. When it is easy to make statements to wiki links and red links, the data in an info box will grow with the added statements.

    We do need to work on the quality for our readers. This is done best by leveraging the data we have and engage our communities not only to link articles together but also by expanding these links with the statements that bind them together.

    Yes, we will have to solve abstract issues but the reality is that they are not so abstract. Issues have their basis in what it is we have to understand this in what we hope to achieve; serving the world with the sum of all our available knowledge.

    by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 14, 2016 11:30 AM

    August 12, 2016

    Wiki Education Foundation

    Totaling the sum of all human knowledge at MathFest

    The typical assignment in most higher education mathematics classrooms is problem sets — but that’s changing, according to attendees of the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest 2016, held last week in Columbus, Ohio. Leaders in the math community realize their graduates need to know how to write, either to explain mathematical concepts for the general public or for their careers outside of the discipline. Wiki Education Foundation staff were at the conference to showcase how Wikipedia assignments can meet those needs, while also providing students a meaningful service learning opportunity.

    Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson shows an interested instructor our Dashboard course management software at MathFest 2016.
    Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson shows an interested instructor our Dashboard course management software at MathFest 2016.

    “That sounds amazing. I’m all for it!” an excited instructor told us.

    “Writing is so important, especially in math,” one attendee explained. “One of the biggest complaints from corporations is that grads can’t write.”

    Another professor lauded the “authentic task” of writing for Wikipedia as a class assignment.

    Wiki Ed’s Year of Science initiative is aimed at improving Wikipedia’s coverage of STEM and social science topics, while giving students those authentic learning experiences that teach them important skills like writing, research, critical thinking, and collaboration. Several MathFest attendees were excited to participate in our program to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of math topics as part of the Year of Science.

    Not only were instructors at the conference interested in improving articles on course related topics, they also expressed desire to see their students expand coverage of mathematicians on Wikipedia. Many instructors also noted that the math coverage on Wikipedia is highly complex, and some of their students in introductory courses struggle to understand Wikipedia’s math articles, even though the articles should be accessible to a general audience; they were interested in asking advanced students to re-write lead sections to make the articles more accessible to the public.

    We look forward to seeing many of the instructors we met at MathFest teach with Wikipedia this fall or in future terms. To learn how you can join our program, visit our website, or email us at contact@wikiedu.org.

    by LiAnna Davis at August 12, 2016 05:09 PM

    Wikimedia UK

    Wikimedia UK AGM

    This post was written by Lorna Campbell and originally posted on her website.

    On Saturday I went along to my first Wikipedia AGM in Birmingham.  It was a really interesting event and it was great to meet so many dedicated Wikimedians and also to see more than a few familiar faces. Martin Poulter has put together a Storify of tweets and pictures from the event here Wikimedia UK AGM 2016.

    Selfridges Birmingham

    The event featured an inspiring keynote on The Open Movement by Andy Mabbett who highlighted the importance of linking Wikimedia initiatives to both Open Government and national heritage organisations and who argued that we need to  do more to welcome people to the open community and communicate why openness is important to everyone.

    Andy’s talk was followed by a workshop on Wikidata and a walk around the local area to take photographs for Wikimedia Commons.  Who’d have thought a photography safari of Digbeth could be so fascinating? 🙂 I just need to remember to upload some of the pictures I took to the Commons.

    In the afternoon we had a fascinating series of lightning talks, one of which covered the brilliant Wiki Loves Monuments photography competition which will take place in the UK again later this year.

    Of course the highlight of the day was the UK Wikimedian of the Year Awards.  Martin Poulter was a very worthy winner of the individual UK Wikipedian of the Year award; Navino Evans, one of the developers behind the fabulous Histropedia timeline tool, received an Honourable Mention; and I was delighted that the OER16 Open Culture Conference won Partnership of the Year.

    The AGM concluded with the Board meeting and I was honoured to be voted onto the Board as a new Trustee of Wikimedia UK.  The University of Edinburgh already has a strong relationship with Wikimedia UK and I hope that I can make a positive contribution to nurturing the development of a supportive and mutually beneficial relationship between Wikimedia and the education sector.  Gill Hamilton, of the National Library of Scotland stepped down from the Board, so I’ll also be doing my best to fill her shoes as the Scottish representative on the Board, though it’ll be a hard act to follow!

    With Josie Fraser, Wikimedia UK Trustee and #OER17 Co-Chair

    by Lorna Campbell at August 12, 2016 12:45 PM

    August 11, 2016

    Wiki Education Foundation

    Opportunity for Wikipedians interested in American history at Temple University

    History is one of Wikipedia’s great strengths. It is where millions of people turn first for historical information on just about any topic.

    The best history articles take an extraordinary amount of effort and attention to detail. One of the biggest challenges editors of such articles face is access to reliable sources. History journals, ebooks, and specific collections are often behind paywalls or otherwise only accessible to certain people. When volunteers can’t access the information they need to write a thorough article, information about that topic gets neglected.

    That’s why Temple University is opening access to its library resources for a Wikipedian interested in the history of Philadelphia, the history of African Americans in Philadelphia, and/or the history and study of the Holocaust.

    The beauty of this arrangement is that Visiting Scholars aren’t required to be physically present at the university. Typically, the only expectation is that they bring some of the articles they work on to B-class or better over the course of a year — the kind of article improvement most Visiting Scholars would be doing anyway, but now with access to sources without paywalls standing in their way.

    At Temple, the position is supported by Associate University Librarian Steven Bell. For him, supporting a Wikipedian in this way is a way to improve public knowledge as well as to increase the number of people who can benefit from their resources.

    If you’re a passionate Wikipedian with an interest in this field, we’d love to help connect you. You can apply for a Visiting Scholar position here and, if you have questions, drop us a line: visitingscholars@wikiedu.org. For more information about the Visiting Scholars program, see the Visiting Scholars section of our website.

    Photo: Temple University Paley Library Side View by Dorevabelfiore, CC BY 4.0.

    by Ryan McGrady at August 11, 2016 10:18 PM

    Wikimedia Tech Blog

    Stripping question marks from Wikimedia searches

    Photo by Benh LIEU SONG, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Photo by Benh LIEU SONG, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    When people ask how old is Tom Cruise? on Wikipedia, they almost certainly don’t expect the question mark in cruise? to match an additional letter. They aren’t looking for the words cruised, cruiser,  or cruises—but that’s what they get, and it keeps them from finding the information they are really after.

    Search on Wikipedia (and other Wikimedia projects) includes a lot of features that most users don’t know about. Most require special keywords, and some even require specialized knowledge, such as familiarity with regular expressions. It’s pretty difficult to invoke these special features by accident.

    But search also supports two particular bash-style wildcards without any special syntax: asterisks (*) will match any number of characters, and question marks (?) will match exactly one. Asterisks do come up from time to time, but people use question marks all the time—they like to ask questions!

    A recent review of query-string features called out quotes and question marks as the two largest-impact predictors of unsuccessful queries on Wikipedia. In a follow-up survey of queries with question marks in six of the top ten Wikipedias (by search volume), most question marks are being used to ask questions (the other four of the top 10 were not reviewed).

    In all ten of the top ten, stripping final question marks dramatically decreased the number of ?-final queries that got either no results, or very few results (i.e., less than 3). The improvement was around 10–45% for ?-final queries, depending on the wiki. The overall impact is much more modest (less than 0.5%) because queries with question marks are not terribly common.

    As a result of this analysis, we’ve implemented a change to search which will by default replace question marks with spaces (to preserve the word boundaries they intend in queries like how? why?). This setting can be changed on a per-wiki basis (see $wgCirrusSearchStripQuestionMarks), and other options include (i) only stripping question marks at a clear word boundary (such as before a space), (ii) only stripping question marks at the end of the query, and (iii) leaving the question marks alone.

    For the rarer users who do use question marks as a one-letter wildcard, when question mark stripping is enabled, question marks can be escaped with a backslash (e.g., wiki\?edia) to preserve their original wildcard meaning. Power searchers who use insource: won’t need to do anything special; queries withinsource: will not be modified.

    Below is a screenshot of the former question mark behavior, where it is treated as a wildcard. Note that “living?” only matches the name “Livings”, leading to two very unsatisfactory results.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Below is a screenshot of the new question mark behavior, where it is ignored. Now the question and part of the answer can be seen in the snippet for the very first result, and all of the top three results seem relevant.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Trey Jones, Software Engineer, Discovery
    Wikimedia Foundation

    by Trey Jones at August 11, 2016 09:57 PM

    Wiki Loves Monuments

    Introducing the international team

    Like every year, Wiki Loves Monuments is supported by an international team. You could already find descriptions about them on Wikimedia Commons, but we wanted to share as well a little more personal insight: through their favorite monument photos. Please welcome… the international team!

    Photo: Henny stokseth, CC BY-SA

    Photo: Henny stokseth, CC BY-SA

    Erik is from the Netherlands and loves WLM for it’s celebration of beauty and excellence (from) all around the world. Henny Stokseth added humor to the mix in this image of a Norwegian lighthouse. The juxtaposition of lights radiates lightness. It’s humor transcends culture, and is universal.

    Photo: Inbal Reavch, CC BY-SA

    Photo: Inbal Reavch, CC BY-SA

    Ido is from Israel, and chose this picture of a monastery overlooking Jerusalem’s serene Ein Karem neighbourhood, because it embodies the beauty of the hidden places of Israel and it’s cultural complexity. With places that are held sacred by many people with different beliefs, the Israel WLM competition photos is a good reminder for that.


    Photo: Cassinam, CC BY-SA

    Ilario is a longtime Wikimedian from the Italian speaking area of Switzerland. To him WLM is about discovering people, cultures, and the country where he lives in. This way, he discovered this church, a rare jewel, which was kept intact for 800 years. WLM helps to discover the territory but also to be time travelers.

    Photo: Haidamac, CC BY-SA

    Photo: Haidamac, CC BY-SA

    Ilya is from Ukraine, and likes about WLM that people can know and fixate things that are endangered or disappear. Like this wooden church in Sumy oblast in Ukraine. The church became a national architecture monument in 1979, but this did not stop it from slow decaying since the 1980s.

    Photo: Sonoem, CC BY-SA

    Photo: Sonoem, CC BY-SA

    Jean-Fred is from France, and loves how WLM leads people to discover the heritage that is close to their home, without paying much attention to it before. Like these two teenagers from Timișoara (Romania), who looked up the monuments near them and went on their bikes to photograph this metallic bridge, « to send it to Wikipedia ».

    Photo: Kiantavakoli, CC BY-SA

    Photo: Kiantavakoli, CC BY-SA

    Lily is from Iran and she is passionate about people and their heritage. She likes this picture of Tehran’s City Theater which is the gateway to the world of theater for many Tehranies, and a great place for the students in one of the few nearby universities to spend some time in.

    Water mill in the Netherlands. Photo: Romaine, CC-0

    Water mill. Photo: Romaine, CC-zero

    Romaine is from the Netherlands and enjoys running the machinery that keeps WLM going. The mill project in the Netherlands was at the foundation of Wiki Loves Monuments, and grew for him the wish to have it just a little bit larger in geography and subject area.

    by Lodewijk at August 11, 2016 07:40 PM

    Wiki Education Foundation

    One thing everyone gets wrong about Wikipedia in classrooms

    Wiki Ed staff travel around the United States and Canada to present our model to universities, colleges, and academic conferences. Time and time again, we’re asked: “You know Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source, right?”

    That’s perhaps the biggest misunderstanding about Wikipedia assignments. Nobody should cite Wikipedia in an academic paper. Our approach to Wikipedia is simple:

    “Don’t cite it. Write it!”

    We’re inspired by the idea that students have something to contribute. They have books. They have access to academic journals. They have their brains, which can think critically about what they read on Wikipedia. Those same brains can make sense of how to fix problems or gaps in what they find.

    Students from Dr. Benjamin Mako Hill's "Designing Internet Research" class at the University of Washington.
    Student Wikipedia editors from Dr. Benjamin Mako Hill’s “Designing Internet Research” class at the University of Washington.

    But they also have you, their instructor. Students are learning from experts. You can look at Wikipedia and see the gaps and inaccuracies. Some experts see problems, and turn their backs. But whether you use it or not, millions of people turn to Wikipedia every day. More people visit Wikipedia on mobile than visit Fox News, CNN and the USA Today combined. They use it to stay informed and make decisions.

    It’s not just lay people satisfying their curiosity, or trying to win bets. Wikipedia was described as “the leading single source of healthcare information for patients and healthcare professionals” in 2014. It’s also used by journalists trying to contextualize a story on deadline. It’s referenced by political staffers trying to understand the ramifications of proposed policies.

    For academics concerned about the public’s understanding of their field, walking away from Wikipedia isn’t an option. But academics are busy and pulled in many directions. Time gets swallowed up in the pressure to publish, advise, develop, and engage.

    That’s just one reason why the Wikipedia writing assignment makes sense.

    You can increase public engagement with your field by assigning students to improve Wikipedia. It’s a more meaningful writing and critical thinking exercise for your students than a traditional term paper. It just so happens to double as service learning.

    They don’t just learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, they also learn how to read it. A student compares what they’ve learned to the information presented in a Wikipedia article, and interrogates what they see. They learn to engage in what they read, and they’re empowered to make a difference.

    One of the handbooks available free of charge to any student participating in the Wiki Education Foundation's Classroom Program.
    One of the handbooks available free of charge to any student participating in the Wiki Education Foundation’s Classroom Program.

    We know you know it’s not a reliable source for academic work. But do your students? We can’t think of a better way to engage students in thinking about what makes a source reliable. They’re contributing to a website read by millions of people. Some of their articles will be read by thousands, or hundreds of thousands. They’ll think carefully about what they contribute, and later, they’ll think carefully about what they read. They’ll learn to evaluate the information they find online, and determine for themselves whether or not to trust it. Rather than a blanket ban on Wikipedia (they’re going to use it anyway), we can expand their critical thinking tool box to ensure they use it well.

    So, when people tell us: “You know Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source, right?” We say, “Yes. That’s exactly why it belongs in your classroom!”

    Wikipedia assignments don’t take over your class. Our tools are free to use. We help students understand how to work on Wikipedia, while you take care of the rest. We have online tools for you and your students to get comfortable with Wikipedia. We have staff members assigned to every course to help your students as they go. And did we mention it’s completely free?

    We’d love to help you get started.

    Check out our resources, or start a conversation about how Wikipedia can work with your course by emailing us: contact@wikiedu.org. We’d love to hear from you!

    Photo: Modified from Pointing hand cursor by Manuel CampagnoliOwn work, CC0

    by Eryk Salvaggio at August 11, 2016 04:00 PM

    Weekly OSM

    weeklyOSM 316


    Logo Fault lines on the Philippines on an OSM Map 1 |


    • The University of Washington wants to import sidewalks into OSM. They therefore try to discuss a new tagging scheme presented in a proposal that is supposed to expand upon existing tagging schemes. There’s plenty of criticism on the list, and only limited response to that, but there is more discussion on the wiki.
    • The quarterly task “schools” in UK continues – the “dramatic jump in relations” was Christian Ledermann’s “find a school near you and map it” tool.
    • Manohar from Mapbox writes about adding turn restrictions in Canada and shares the work-flow used for it.


    OpenStreetMap Foundation

    • The OSM Awards is calling for nominees in six categories – Core Systems, Innovation, Writing, Mapping, Community and the Ulf Möller Memorial Award. The awards will be presented at State of The Map conference (SOTM) 2016. The Source code of the website is open for improvements and translation.


    • Users SB79 reminds everyone about the Elbe-Labe-Meeting that takes place from 07th until 09th of October in Dresden (Germany).
    • INTERGEO, a trade fair for Geodesy and Geoinformatics takes place in Hamburg between 11th-13th October.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • The Guardian reports about MapSwipe, and almost (but not quite) manages to avoid mentioning Pokémon Go in the article.
    • Ann Mei Chang reports about the American initiative against the spread of malaria. For an effective defence, good maps are essential. The OSM Group YouthMappers contributes as an example in Mozambique.


    • The well known guides lonely planet launch an app with offline maps using Mapbox’s mobile SDK.
    • The desktop app, GNOME Maps, stopped working when MapQuest discontinued unrestricted tile access to their maps. Mapbox has now stepped in as the data provider for GNOME Maps (one of the most importantant features desired apparently was Latin alphabet “Western” names, even of places not natively using the Latin alphabet).
    • Walter Nordmann complains that for weeks the German-French border is damaged near Luxembourg in UMAP. He thinks it looks like “nobody cares“.


    • The information portal Marine Traffic now uses OpenStreetMap to visualize the recent locations of the vessels. (Via twitter)


    • Due to the discussion about the replicas of the map style Mapbox Streets (in JSON format of Mapbox GL) between Mapbox and the OSM2Vectortiles project. Steve Gifford writes about Mapbox GL Style Sheets of the WhirlyGlobe toolkit for version 2.5. Styled Layer Descriptor format support is coming soon. As Steve says: “Not as cool, but a nice safe OGC standard.”


    • Door2Door, a Berlin based startup working in the area of Public Transport is hiring for the position of a GIS Software Developer.
    • Pepijn Schoen describes how he created a Docker container to display on a map the routes he has travelled by railway.


    Software Version Release date Comment
    QGIS 2.16.1 2016-07-29 No infos
    Locus Map Free 3.18.6 2016-08-03 Changes in internal cache, many fixes
    OpenStreetMap Carto Style 2.42.0 2016-08-03 No infos
    GeoServer 2.9.1 2016-08-04 Some improvements and 41 bugs fixed
    libosmium 2.8.0 2016-08-04 New EWKT support, some improvements and bugs fixed
    OSRM Backend 5.3.1 2016-08-04 2 bugs fixed
    Magic Earth 2016-08-05 Bug fixes and stability improvements
    BRouter 1.4.3 2016-08-06 Changes in the profiles and a bugfix
    Cruiser for Android 1.4.10 2016-08-07 Various improvements, updated map and routing engines
    Cruiser for Desktop 1.2.10 2016-08-08 No infos
    PyOsmium 2.8 2016-08-08 Adjustments to libosmium
    SQLite 3.14.0 2016-08-08 19 Improvements and enhancements, 3 bugs fixed

    provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

    Did you know …

    Other “geo” things

    • The online journal NOSOLOSIG (Spanish) is pubilshed, the recent edition has an essay on the origin of the term “Cartography” (automatic translation) and a how-to to use Stamens (terrain watercolor or toner) in gvSIG.
    • Uber invested US$ 500 million in a mapping project to reduce its dependence on Google Maps and to prepare for autonomous driving.
    • [1] The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology presented the interactive web app “PHIVOLCS faultfinder” to use different maps (including OSM) to display fault lines in the Philippines.
    • AJ Dellinger reported about the research of Prof. Guevara Noubir of Northeastern University in Boston, where an application could use the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass to track location without being granted access by the user via the typical location permissions process.
    • Simon Mikkelsen writes about the Ricoh Theta S spherical camera in the context of Mapillary.

    Upcoming Events

    Dónde Qué Fecha País
    Wien 56. Wiener Stammtisch 11/08/2016 austria
    Zurich Stammtisch Zürich 11/08/2016 switzerland
    Ballerup OpenStreetMap 12th Anniversary 13/08/2016 denmark
    Posadas Segunda Reunión Regional de Maperos OpenStreetMap 13/08/2016 argentina
    London OSM anniversary BBQ 13/08/2016 united kingdom
    Cochabamba OpenStreetMap: Nuevas Tecnologías e Investigación en Ciencias Sociales 19/08/2016 bolivia
    Kyoto 京都国宝・浪漫マッピングパーティ:第2回 特別編 サントリー京都ビール工場、恵解山古墳、ねじりまんぽ 20/08/2016 japan
    Bonn FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint 20/08/2016-22/08/2016 germany

    Note: If you like to see your event here, please put it into the calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM. Please check your event in our public calendar preview and correct it, where appropiate.


    This weekly was produced by Laura Barroso, Rogehm, SomeoneElse, SrrReal, TheFive, derFred, jinalfoflia, mgehling.

    by weeklyteam at August 11, 2016 08:45 AM

    Resident Mario

    August 10, 2016

    Wiki Education Foundation

    98% of instructors would teach with Wikipedia again

    If you teach with Wikipedia once, you’ll want to do it again.

    At least, that’s the case for respondents of our Spring 2016 end-of-term survey. We ask instructors in our programs for feedback at the end of every term. Every time, we hear that the majority want to teach with us again, and this term was no different. In spring 2016, 98% of instructors said they would teach with Wikipedia again.

    That’s astounding. Our survey also asked instructors: Why?

    “I believe it challenges students to think about writing from a new perspective,” one instructor wrote. “It also encourages them to identify themselves as scholars and understand how much they have learned during their studies.”

    The impact on students was a common theme. The enthusiasm the assignment cultivates in students seems to have a real impact on achieving the outcomes instructors want for their courses.

    Instructors also reflected on the idea that writing for an audience of real readers was a motivator.

    “The students enjoyed it and found it rewarding,” another instructor wrote. “They got to make their work public in a way that they don’t usually when doing class assignments.”

    “It gives the students an audience for their work that raises its importance for them,” another wrote.

    But the Wikipedia assignment has benefits outside of the novelty of an audience.

    Of surveyed instructors, 87% found the Wikipedia writing assignment to be more effective for teaching media and information literacy than a traditional assignment.
    Of surveyed instructors, 87% found the Wikipedia writing assignment to be more effective for teaching media and information literacy than a traditional assignment.

    The assignment was considered equally or more effective than a term paper when it came to critical thinking (92% of instructors said so) and writing skills (81%). However, majorities saw the Wikipedia assignment as even more effective than a traditional assignment when it came to developing media and information literacy (87% said it was more effective), collaboration skills (72%), and online communication skills (87%).

    “Students tell me in course evaluations that they value the experience,” another instructor wrote. “I see students clearly achieving our program course learning goals in their Wikipedia work.”

    The student experience

    Some instructors shared (anonymized) student feedback with us, too. Some examples:

    • At first I was afraid I would not be able to, but after doing a little research I found it was quite simple and I actually enjoyed doing it.
    • Not only will I use and edit Wikipedia articles more myself, but I will share with others how easy and simple it is to take advantage of all Wikipedia has to offer.
    • The information I have gained in this class will be very helpful in the future and I would recommend it to anyone who would be interested.
    • I did not expect to enjoy the course as much as I did, but the assignments and discussions kept me interested the entire time while teaching me skills and knowledge I can and will use again in the future.


    A term paper, with benefits.

    In a recent blog post for us, Timothy Henningson described the assignment as “a term paper, with benefits”:

    “If one of the main motives of assigning a research paper is to have students engage a discourse and speak to an audience,” Henningson wrote, “then unless that audience is real and tangible, the activity is inherently counterfeit. It might be good practice, but it’s nothing like playing a real game. Which is where Wikipedia comes in.”

    Our survey told us that he wasn’t alone in that assessment. Here’s how one instructor put it:

    “I honestly think that the Wikipedia assignment was THE most effective teaching tool I have ever used. The fact that the students’ writing was immediately visible by millions of people worldwide really gave them an incentive to produce excellent writing. Also, they gained a critical eye towards the sources they were using and the places these sources were coming from.”

    We’re delighted to know that the Wikipedia assignment has helped instructors cultivate excitement for learning among their students. We’re also pleased that so many of them found our tools and support helpful along the way.

    Join us!

    If you aren’t already leading a Wikipedia in your own classroom, we’d be delighted to help you get started. Our staff can offer expert guidance in instructional design and on the fine points of Wikipedia. We provide online orientations and training for you and your students. We have tools to help follow student work.

    Want to transform your term papers into an exciting writing assignment for a real audience? Start the conversation with us by e-mailing contact@wikiedu.org.

    by Eryk Salvaggio at August 10, 2016 04:00 PM

    Sumana Harihareswara


    It's been a tough week. Wednesday of last week, I learned that Kevin Gorman had died. He was only 24 years old. I met Kevin through my work at the Wikimedia Foundation. He was a feminist activist who put a tremendous amount of energy into making Wikipedia a better resource for everyone. He added and improved articles, and he taught others, and he took on the emotional work of moderating and responding to voices that were arguing against feminists, and of fighting harassment (in all his communities). As he said on his user profile:
    I dislike systemic biases; both those caused by our gender, racial, and geographic biases, and those caused by no abstract available bias and its kindred. One of my stronger interests on Wikipedia is making available online in a freely available format content that cannot be currently be found on the Wikimedia projects because of our systemic biases. I think that this is some of the most important work that can be done on Wikipedia at this time.

    I had known that he'd been fighting various illnesses for some time, but I was still shocked to hear of Kevin's death; he was far too young. My condolences to his family and his friends and his many collaborators in free knowledge and justice. Kevin and I didn't have that many conversations but in every one I heard his deep passion for the work of improving our culture on all levels; he never ceased to be shocked at things that aren't right, and to channel that shock into activism and organizing. I will miss his dedication and I will remember his ideals.

    He was only 24. As I handle more and more death I come to learn which deaths cause more painful griefs. I seem to believe, somewhere deep inside, that people younger than me really shouldn't die, that it breaks an axiom.

    And then the next day I learned that Chip Deubner had died. Further shock and grief. I met Chip because we worked together at the Wikimedia Foundation; he was a desktop support technician, and the creator and maintainer of the audiovisual recording and conference systems, and then rose to manage others. And I can attest to his work ethic -- he cared about the reliability of the tools that his colleagues used to do their work, and he was that reliable himself, ready at a moment's notice to take on new challenges. He demonstrated a distinctive combination of efficiency and patience: help from Chip was fast, accurate, effective, and judgment-free. If anything, he was too reticent to speak up about his own frustrations. I was glad to see him grow professionally, to take on new responsibility and manage others, and I'm glad he was able to touch so many lives in his time on earth -- I only had a few memorable conversations with him, since he lived in the Bay Area and I mostly telecommuted from New York, but I know he enjoyed office karaoke and that many WMF folks counted him as a friend, and grieve him as one. He was a maintainer and a keeper and a maker of things, in a world that needs more such people. He will be in my thoughts and my prayers. (I wrote much of this in a guestbook that might decay off the web, so I'm publishing the words here too.)

    Chip died of a brain tumor. He knew he was dying, months before, so he left his job and went back to his family home in Missouri to die. He died on July 9th. And I didn't know, and didn't have a chance to say goodbye, and I suspect this is because I am not on Facebook. Thus, for the first time, I am seriously considering joining Facebook.

    Sometimes, in the stupor of grief, I find comfort in doing certain kinds of work -- repetitive, well-specified, medium-cognition work without much call for self-expression. So the article about Hari Kondabolu on English Wikipedia is a lot better now. I took it from 22 citations to 78, found an openly licensed photo to use, and even created the stub of a Telugu Wikipedia page. My thanks to the makers and maintainers of Citoid and the VisualEditor -- with these tools, it is a positive delight to improve articles, a far better experience than in 2011.

    Hari Kondabolu turns his anger into comedy. I turn my grief into Wikipedia edits. We all paint with our pain. If we do it right and we're lucky, the stuff we make helps, even if it's just two inches' worth of help, even if it just helps ourselves.

    August 10, 2016 02:17 PM


    Local Wikipedia outreach projects and chapter support

    Sometimes people ask about particular Wikipedia community projects and want to use the precedent as a model for their own project. For example, in New York there are various projects including Wikipedia editing events at libraries, museums, nonprofit organizations, and other community centers. A project typically includes a group of community volunteers working with experts from an organization who together organize an in-person public event and online events for crowdsourced participation in a themed project with a particular goal. Examples include any of the following:

    • Medical students at a local medical school meet to edit Wikipedia articles related to health. Sometimes they meet with their student peers, but also sometimes they join public events and interact with other Wikipedia contributors. Sometimes health experts are present to advise about sharing health content.
    • In Art+Feminism the combined interest of art museums, art professionals outside of museums, and an interested public converges to present a complicated set of programs including compiling biographies of artists; curating collections of art by artist, institution holdings, or other classification; and developing social movements as diverse as increased access to arts to promotion of culture from underrepresented groups to general advocacy for rights of all kinds.
    • In AfroCROWD the stated objective is to encourage people of African descent to participate in free culture projects, but actually, the result has been dozens of in-person and online meetings and hundreds of participants creating any kind of informative digital content covered by Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. Although the project continues to invest its time in outreach to a minority population, and does recruit people from its target demographic, those people create content of every sort and are joined by many participants from every demographic.

    Suppose that anyone wished to replicate any of these projects at their own institution either in a nearly identical way or in a way with slight variation. These projects might inspire any medical school to attempt to establish its own Wikipedia medical club, or someone to try an event like Art+LGBT, or a group like AfroCROWD but serving another cultural background to do their own event. Could these projects be replicated? Besides what is apparent in them, what more do they need to be successful? I will share some of my own observations of factors which have contributed to the success of these and other projects.

    The examples cited above had dedicated organizers with relevant program management experience or aptitude, and that they invested many volunteer hours in making their programs work. In establishing their programs they took great risk in uncertain situations. The most pressing and stressful recurring challenge is recruiting enough participants when inexperienced event coordinators will not be able to predict how many people will respond to a given event advertisement strategy, but to even get to that point an organization team has to be able to promise a viable event. At the time these projects began, the expected outcome in all of these cases might have been failure to progress and abandonment of the attempt before the project matured, because many projects in the Wikipedia and free culture space are initiated, developed, then left when they begin to demand more resources than anyone has to give. Each of these projects needed their own investments to become established. Because these are Wikimedia projects, the initial investment was volunteer time, and as of now, they still all operate fueled by volunteer time, but in the longer term perhaps investments in software, shared community administration, or even funding support can lessen some of the burden on volunteer management for programs like these. I think the Wikimedia community wishes to keep community programming a volunteer affair, but also, there is demand for more programs and lowered barriers to starting and sustaining programs, and somehow using money to lessen volunteer burden is an option that is repeatedly considered even if right now I am not aware of any Wikipedia outreach project depending mostly on funding to sustain itself. When anyone sees success in a Wikipedia project, they should imagine that the success is a consequence of talented, passionate people contributing their free time to make it work.

    Assuming that talented, passionate people are organizing a given project, then will it be successful? I am not sure. All of these programs have a base in New York City. While none of these programs depend on community infrastructure in NYC, I think that community infrastructure is definitely an inspiration for programs. Consider these characteristics of the Wikimedia community in New York City:

    • There is a Wikimedia chapter organization called Wikimedia New York City which exists to provide support to anyone doing any Wikimedia-related project in the area. The organization is registered as a nonprofit organization and can provide institutional assistance when needed, even though it mostly has no staff (perhaps it can get sponsorship to hire a low-pay worker for 5 hours/week, but to date has not) and mostly is a volunteer organization.
    • In 2014 there were about 30 public wiki events in NYC and in 2015 there were 60. Probably for the foreseeable future there will be about 50 events a year supported by the chapter.
    • It can be expected that 1500 people will attend in-person Wikipedia events in NYC in a given year.
    • It can be expected that not fewer than 200 people will attend more than one in-person Wikipedia events in NYC in a given year.
    • Most major institutions in NYC have staff who have attended a Wikipedia event, including all the museums, universities, library systems, media houses, cultural institutions, foundations, companies of all sorts, and government offices. People who would have no interest in media may not realize this, but anyone whose business it is to have broad general knowledge of media trends has some awareness of Wikipedia editors meeting locally. This is not to say that all of these organizations engage with Wikimedia projects, but any organization that is in a field which would have conversations about Wikipedia would likely be able to identify someone close to them who has been to a Wikipedia event.
    • If a Wikipedia event is organized and advertised, then predictably, a mix of past meetup attendees and new attendees will show up to the event.
    • At least 50 individuals in NYC have been lead organizers for a Wikipedia event, and are competent to organize their own Wikipedia event whenever they want without collaborating with anyone else.
    • The events were hosted in a community where it could be expected that attendees at a Wikipedia event would have the cultural and educational background to be able to come to a Wikimedia event with no prior training and in about 15 minutes use the available support to learn everything they need to know to get started.
    • New York City has enough infrastructure wealth to provide all the material support needed for Wikipedia events to work including excellent public transportation, community centers with enough space, fast dependable Internet at every venue.
    • New York City has a culture which encourages everyone to have all sorts of meetups. Suppose that a volunteer were to go to any community center and say, “I want to host a meetup in your space, and I need you to contribute some of your own resources to make this happen.” It is not certain that the organization would partner in the event, but it is certain that the organization will seriously consider the request whether it is for Wikipedia or even any unknown community or technological project.

    Even in the context of New York City’s active Wikimedia community, outreach projects are highly dependent on being connected to other projects. Art projects, for example, get more credibility for being connected to every other sort of outreach project because funding at art institutions is scarce and they need their wiki partners to show that a diverse community or individuals and organizations already are making commitments to develop Wikipedia content. In science and medicine, funding is less limited, but reputations are more fragile. In that case, their concern in looking at infrastructure is being a little more conservative than other outreach efforts, so they like seeing the amount of risk that art organizations will take so that they can make their judgement to scale back from that.

    If I had to point to one thing that makes wiki outreach in New York successful, I would say it is diversity of stakeholders. In Wikimedia projects, science, art, minority interests, mainstream interests, research, publishing, professions, and every other field covered by Wikipedia converge. In no case is it possible to isolate any interest, and say that any one community established itself without support without the other interests.

    by bluerasberry at August 10, 2016 12:39 PM

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Wikimedia Research Newsletter, July 2016

    Easier navigation via better wikilinks With contributions by: Jonathan Morgan and Tilman Bayer

    by Tilman Bayer at August 10, 2016 06:48 AM

    This month in GLAM

    This Month in GLAM: July 2016

    by Admin at August 10, 2016 02:43 AM

    August 09, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Victory in Germany (part two): German court unanimously dismisses appeal

    The German courts sided with the Wikimedia Foundation and dismissed Dr. Evelyn Schels’ appeal. The proceeding is now officially over, marking a victory for public knowledge.

    by Jacob Rogers at August 09, 2016 11:24 PM

    No Man’s Sky and the drive to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of video games

    Casual readers may not notice that the English Wikipedia's video game articles, like No Man's Sky, usually adhere to a set of stringent guidelines.

    by Ed Erhart at August 09, 2016 09:28 PM

    Semantic MediaWiki

    SMWCon Fall 2016 registration open

    SMWCon Fall 2016 registration open

    August 9, 2016. The registration for SMWCon Fall 2016 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (September 28-30, 2016) is now open. All interested participants can now register at the ticketing site. Note that the Early Bird period ends on September 11, 2016.

    The conference is organised by German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) and Open Semantic Data Association (OSDA). It is kindly supported by Wikimedia Germany (WMDE).

    For more information on this and the conference, see the SMWCon Fall 2016 homepage. See also our Call for Contributions.

    This page in other languages: defr

    SMWCon Fall 2016 registration open en

    by Zabien at August 09, 2016 08:53 PM

    Wiki Education Foundation

    Bugging Wikipedia: Opening up insect ecology

    Dr. Chelse Prather assigned students to write Wikipedia articles as part of her “Insects and Society” course at Radford University. In this post, she discusses the design of that course, and the benefits it brought to her students.

    Insects affect human daily life in both positive and negative ways. Most humans are not conscious of these effects, especially not the positive ones.

    I’m an insect ecologist with a passion for educating the public about insects, especially the positive and important effects that insects have on daily human life. I have been really excited for years about teaching a course on Insects and Society, and I had the opportunity to do so this past semester.

    I wanted students to use the knowledge that they gained from the course to educate others. I saw a great success story of another biologist, Dr. Joan Strassmann, working with Wikipedia to such an end. Dr. Strassmann has been using Wikipedia in her Behavioral Ecology course for several years, creating many new Wikipedia articles and updating many more.

    I decided to try incorporating some Wikipedia assignments into my Insects and Society course last spring semester. The course was a small seminar course (nine students) for senior biology majors. None had taken courses on insects, and in reality, they knew very little about insects when the course began. During the first week of the course, I gave the students a short primer about Wikipedia based on Wiki Ed’s instructor tutorial, and the students’ first assignment was Wiki Ed’s online student training.

    I assigned each student three orders of insects so that all of the extant orders of insects would be covered—each student was given one order that had a lot of available information, and two orders that didn’t have much. The students prepared fact sheets about each of their assigned orders to teach the other students about them, essentially collectively writing a short primer about the insect orders to use as their textbook.

    Part of preparing their fact sheets was reviewing the existing Wikipedia pages for each order, and determining if anything might be incorrect or missing. They especially focused on the relationship between each order and humans. I intentionally left the assignments rather open-ended, with the hope that college seniors would take ownership over their work. I didn’t set a word limit. Instead, I told the students to make substantial, quality changes to the articles.

    We discussed how “substantial” may mean different things for pages of different qualities. For high-quality pages (such as this page on mantises), this may be making grammatical changes or adding missing information about the relationship between those insects and humans. For relatively new pages (such as this page on a little-known order of parasitic insects), this may mean adding very basic information about the biology of the insect order.

    We then used part of a class period to discuss the changes each student proposed for the Wikipedia pages. We collectively discussed what edits seemed feasible and substantial, and which seemed trivial or not feasible for the student to try and do.

    The week after the students’ first round of edits, the pages they were editing had been viewed over 10,000 times. The students and I were both astonished and thrilled that so many people were viewing their work. As we watched the numbers steadily climb throughout the semester, most of the students took the editing much more seriously: they realized that many others were viewing (and often quickly editing) their work, and that their edits may actually make a huge difference in others’ knowledge about insects.

    The students went through two rounds of edits on their assigned Wikipedia pages. We also did one fun crowd-sourcing class period to flesh out a new page that lists insect-inspired songs. This exercise included students playing songs for the rest of the class, and discussing how insects were portrayed in music. Students were surprised to find almost every genre of music that we could imagine had songs inspired by insects. We also started to see that certain groups of insects seemed to inspire different types of music; for instance, flies seemed to inspire lots of heavy metal music, whereas butterflies seemed to inspire more romantic and calm music.

    I graded the students’ edits on the following criteria: completion for each assigned page; substantial improvement to pages; accuracy; professional conduct; and student’s followed through on comments from other editors. Grading using these criteria did not seem overly cumbersome or time consuming, but this was a very small class. I imagine for larger classes, this type of assignment would be more difficult to assess.

    The Wikipedia assignments were not the only assignments in this class. They were graded on their fact sheets, two short exams, several modest in-class assignments, and a written post on a blog I run with another insect ecologist on a topic of their choosing about same facet of the complicated relationship between insects and humans (e.g., one of the students wrote a post about the role of insects in music).

    By the end of the class (3 months after the students first began to edit their pages on Wikipedia), the pages that they edited have been viewed over 1.35 million times!

    About a month after the course ended, I got the following message from a student:

    “….I happened to mention your coordination with Wikipedia for the class and how it was conducive for critical thinking. Long story short, they are interested in perhaps doing something similar, could I put you in contact with them so you can give some of the details on it?”

    I’ve never had students email about the assignments in my course well after the course had ended.

    Aside from Wiki Ed’s helpful instructor training, which I recommend doing and adhering to, I would suggest the following based on my experience in this course:

    1) Engage with likely editors of your pages before the class begins. Check and see who often edits the pages that you’re going to assign. Message them to tell them that you would like to assign your students the page to edit, and that you will appreciate their understanding that these are students and any careful editing they are able to do of the assigned articles.

    2) Encourage your students to engage with anyone who edits their work. If they don’t understand why an edit was made, they should politely ask the editor that made the change.

    3) Make sure that students avoid major edits of high-quality articles unless there are glaring errors or omissions. If they do find an omission or mistake on a high quality page, have them propose their edits on the Talk page before making changes.

    4) Encourage or assign peer review of other students’ edits. Not all pages are closely monitored. This is especially true if your students are creating new pages.

    I am so happy that our work helped to educate the public about insects and how insects affect their everyday lives. These Wikipedia assignments also not only enhanced student learning about course content, but also enhanced their critical thinking skills, their ability to take criticism from a very wide audience other than professors, and gave them a sense that the work they were doing was actually very important. For all of those reasons, my students and I will continue to “bug” Wikipedia in the future.

    If you’re interested in participating in a science communications exercise for your classroom, find out more about the Year of Science, or send us a message: contact@wikiedu.org. 

    Photo: Male Sphodromantis viridis from near Campo Maior (Évora) by Marabuto E, Rodrigues I, Henriques S, CC BY 4.0.

    by Guest Contributor at August 09, 2016 03:00 PM

    Wikimedia Tech Blog

    A better view of Wikipedia content on Google

    Photo by Sara&Joachim&Mebe, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Photo by Sara&Joachim, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    During major news events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl, there’s a good chance you’re going to pull out your phone to look up what else that actor was in, or a little more detail about the person who just won the award for most valuable player.

    If you use Google as your search engine, you’ll notice some changes on how Wikipedia content is showcased in Google mobile web searches. It’s now easier to see more information directly from Wikipedia in Google search results and know that it came from Wikipedia. It’s also now easier for people to click through to Wikipedia to learn more about topics that interest them.

    We realize some Wikipedia users prefer to use other search engines, including open-source alternatives. However, Google remains a major access point for information and for Wikipedia, which is accessed from mobile devices more than 200 million times every day. On average, about a third of daily pageviews to Wikimedia sites come from users searching Google. Since May 2012, content from Wikipedia has been displayed alongside Google’s search engine results, as part of the “knowledge panel”—though it hasn’t always been the easiest to see that the material came from Wikipedia while on mobile devices.

    At the Wikimedia Foundation, we’ve been working to change that. In collaboration with the Foundation’s Strategic Partnerships and Product teams, the Google Search team improved how Wikipedia results look in Google’s mobile web searches. Before, Wikipedia content was truncated into a short snippet, which looked like this:


    Readers couldn’t easily tell that content at the top of Google search results originated from Wikipedia, and they couldn’t easily click through to Wikipedia to learn more about a particular subject.

    Now, if you search for a subject contained on Wikipedia on Google, it looks like this:


    Wikipedia content surfaced on Google search results is now expanded by default, which makes it easier to see more content from Wikimedia at first glance. We also made it easier for readers to click through to Wikipedia to learn more about the topic they searched for on Google. A link to Wikipedia is now automatically provided after the first paragraph of text, which both attributes the material to Wikipedia and makes it easier for readers  to click through to Wikipedia to continue learning more about the topic they’ve searched for.

    Some who have watched Wikipedia’s evolving presence within Google search results cheered the breakthrough. “Our goal is to make the sum of all knowledge accessible to every person on the planet,” says German Wikipedia editor and Wikimedia Deutschland volunteer Lukas Mezger. “If for-profit entities like Google work with us on this mission, we’re thankful for that.”

    We’re continually looking for ways to improve how people access the free knowledge volunteers contribute to Wikimedia projects. Improving the touch-points where people may encounter Wikipedia content—such as in search engine results—helps ensure that people can access free knowledge wherever they happen to encounter it.  We look forward to continuing our work with Google and other partners in this quest to ensure every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

    Sheree Chang, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
    Wikimedia Foundation

    by Sheree Chang at August 09, 2016 01:05 AM

    August 08, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Wikimedia Foundation releases fifth transparency report

    In our latest Transparency Report, the Wikimedia Foundation provides information about requests to alter or remove content or obtain nonpublic information about users.

    by Jim Buatti and Aeryn Palmer at August 08, 2016 10:15 PM

    “Building a free and really ‘neutral’ encyclopedia”: Özkan Poyraz

    He's made nearly 400,000 edits to Wikimedia sites, and you might be interested in his football and Olympics articles on the Turkish Wikipedia.

    by Samir Elsharbaty and Syed Muzammiluddin at August 08, 2016 08:20 PM

    Wikimedia UK

    Access All Areas: how can Wikimedia contribute to increasing Open Access publishing?

    Image by Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown, CC BY 4.0

    Image by Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown, CC BY 4.0

    It’s a normal part of an academic’s duties to be asked to peer-review papers for academic journals, something they do as part of their salaried position at a university. Equally, publishers rarely even pay the academic who writes the article, as Hugh Gusterson explains:

    ‘I get paid nothing directly for the most difficult, time-consuming writing I do: peer-reviewed academic articles. In fact a journal that owned the copyright to one of my articles made me pay $400 for permission to reprint my own writing in a book of my essays.’

    Academic journals used to not make much money, but in recent years have been taken over by for-profit companies like Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell. These companies now make very good profits, as they are in a position to charge a lot for access to their content. Erik Engstrom of Elsevier is the third highest paid chief exec in the FTSE100. He earned £16.18m last year.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 11.32.58

    A recent review of the benefits of Open Access publishing found ‘several key trends… including a broad citation advantage for researchers who publish openly, as well as additional benefits to the non-academic dissemination of their work.’ The researchers also found that ‘The societal impact of Open Access is strong, in particular for advancing citizen science initiatives, and leveling the playing field for researchers in developing countries.’

    So Open Access publishing exists within an Open ecosystem of which Wikimedia is a large part. It supports better knowledge sharing which can help improve Wikipedia and its sister projects by giving readers access to the research used to write Wiki content. There are a number of new initiatives to put pressure on commercial publishers to make more content Open Access, like the Open Access Button, which allows you to search to see if a paper behind a paywall exists for free elsewhere, and to contact the author directly if not. The Directory of Open Access Journals helps academics make informed choices about the journals they submit to, and Wikimedians track down sources. As of writing it catalogues over 9,000 open access journals.

    Within Wikimedia there is also the Wikipedia Library, where you can sign up to get access to some journals and databases that are behind paywalls. There are a number of requirements for you to be able to get access. Elsevier, for example, allows Wikipedians access to its Science Direct database as long as you have a track record of editing and are ‘active in content generation, research, or verification work’.

    One of our partner institutions, the Wellcome Trust, has also recently announced that it will embrace Open Access and publish its own open academic journal. According to Ars Technica,

    Wellcome Open Research will exclusively feature the research of people funded by the organization, and it will provide open access for anyone to view it—no subscription required. The journal will also have distinctive twists on what constitutes something worth publishing, as well as the peer review process.’

    University College London is also launching its own open access journal to publish enhanced digital editions, scholarly monographs and ‘Books as Open Culture Content’. UCL Press launched last year as the UK’s first open access university publisher. Lara Speicher, publishing manager of UCL Press, says that its new online platform ‘demonstrates UCL’s commitment to broadening access to research via open access and digital innovation, and [will] allow for the publication of non-traditional research outputs that are not suited to a traditional monograph format.’’

    In the field of scientific publishing, there have been a number of positive developments, with the EU science chief proposing that all research it funds will be free to access by 2020. A UK government study recommended the same in 2012, saying that although it would have short term costs, “In the longer term, the future lies with open access publishing”, which the government should embrace for its obvious benefits. In the UK, the Research Excellence Framework which influences the allocation of £1.7 billion funding for universities now stipulates that research submitted to the REF must be open access.

    Challenges to open access publishing remain, as it seems that Elsevier are attempting to buy up OA publications. In May, they announced that they planned to take over the open access archive, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), which now makes them one of the biggest open access publishers. Unfortunately, the signs are not good that Elsevier intends to get with the Open Access programme, as they have started removing content from SSRN, including papers released under a CC license.

    One question for the Wikimedia community is how we can systematically use the knowledge made available in open access journals to improve the quality and reliability of Wikimedia projects. There is a WikiProject Open Access page where you can join in the discussion with other Wikimedians and contribute to improving Open Access resources on Wikimedia projects.

    We would like to hear any ideas you might have for how Wikimedia UK should engage with open access publishers to use their research to improve content across our projects. Would you like to help run an editathon, or are there any groups doing work on open access publishing we should develop partnerships with? Get in touch and let us know.

    by John Lubbock at August 08, 2016 04:59 PM

    Wiki Education Foundation

    The Roundup: Human Ecology

    Ecology focuses on the relationships between the living creatures in an ecosystem, so it makes sense to think about ecology on a local scale.

    Ecology topics within Canada got a boost on Wikipedia thanks to University of British Columbia students in Dr. Rosie Redfield’s Human Ecology course. In that course, students created a variety of projects, including a community project, a YouTube presentation, and, in pairs, they tackled Wikipedia articles.

    They ended up working on 52 articles, improving information about ecology and the environment in a variety of Canadian contexts. These students aren’t biology majors, and the work they do is aimed at using the knowledge they learn about human ecology to better inform the public.

    For example: Where does your drinking water come from? Students answered that question for 2.4 million people when they created the Wikipedia article on the Metro Vancouver watersheds. That article details the drinking water supply for many residents of British Columbia. The article describes the dimensions of the watershed, but also describes logging and fishing controversies that surround it.

    Sometimes water comes from beneath your feet. But sometimes, it comes from the sky. So students also created an article on rainwater harvests in Canada. This one describes property rights in various provinces, applications of the practice, and a list of impacts and benefits.

    Those are some examples of ecology applied to human impacts on the environment. Other articles focus on outlines of the ecology of places. For example, the article about Vancouver’s Everett Crowley Park describes the area prior to its use as a landfill, and afterward, when it was reclaimed as a public park. The article discusses changes in animal populations, such as the disappearance of salmon and cedar trees and the invasion of blackberry bushes.

    Another interesting example is an article focused exclusively on the relationship between the indigenous Coast Salish people, a First Nation found along the Canadian Pacific coast, and salmon. The article explores the relationship between the Coast Salish and salmon, and the importance of salmon in daily life.

    These are some great examples of students taking knowledge they’ve learned in a classroom, and applying it to articles that inform the public about aspects of the world around them. It’s a science communication experience that improves resources for local communities.

    It’s one of the many possibilities that can emerge from adding a Wikipedia course assignment to an ecology course. Wiki Ed can help you get started. We have a variety of online tools for students to show them the way. That includes a free, printed handbook specifically aimed at student editors writing Wikipedia articles on ecology.

    Want to find out more? Check our resources, or send an e-mail to: contact@wikiedu.org.

    Photo: Tanks for rainwater harvesting by JLPC / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

    by Eryk Salvaggio at August 08, 2016 04:00 PM

    Tech News

    Tech News issue #32, 2016 (August 8, 2016)

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    August 08, 2016 12:00 AM

    August 07, 2016

    Gerard Meijssen

    Is convergence between #Wikipedia and #Wikidata possible?

    Wikidata is piggybacking on Wikipedia I was told. This is true; much data is imported from any and all of the Wikipedias and thereby Wikidata changes for the better. It improves in quality and become much more than what any single Wikipedia has to offer. At the same time Wikidata is rather awkward in its use and, there has been too much thinking in terms of what people know and expect for their own project.

    Perspectives evolve. I tend to think of Wikidata as not yet good enough for most purposes. It is incomplete and its quality is inconsistent when we consider statements about its items. The remedy is obvious; work on the areas that are relevant and where Wikidata can easily make a difference.

    That is fine road plan for me but Wikipedians also use Wikidata, they even need to use Wikidata. When they add an article about a person, the authority control data is served from Wikidata and, they have to add the information to Wikidata if it is to show. So what can be done to make this easy so that the use of Wikidata and Wikipedia may converge?

    One aspect that seems important is that Wikidata information needs to function in whatever edit mode. The biggest motivational handicap I found is that most of what I did does not have an effect. It is much more rewarding when effects are more noticeable. All wiki links in an article link to other articles that have items of their own. Why not have a toggle that either shows these links with relations or not? For the brave hearts that take an interest it is cool, The others do not even have to notice.

    When such links are annotated, they result in statements and such statements may even imply categories or other subsequent functionality. Currently bots only harvest in Wikipedia but why not have them add to the Wikipedias in a predetermined way? It makes for a much more dynamic editing process and it will definitely improve quality.

    What do you think?

    by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 07, 2016 10:19 PM

    August 06, 2016

    Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies

    Open Innovation Communities (for AOM)

    Some thoughts and links about Wikipedia, to support the Professional Development Workshop led by Joe Cox at the 2016 Academy of Management annual meeting.

    What is Wikipedia?

    Wikipedia is the largest, and most widely read, publication in history; but perhaps more significantly, it has been built by hundreds of thousands of disparate volunteers, making it arguably the most extensive and impactful collaborative project in history.

    It’s based on wiki software, invented in 1995. Wikipedia was launched in 2001, initially as an experiment. The policy framework and the social norms are as vital to Wikipedia’s identity as the software; basic principles were articulated early on, and each language edition’s volunteer community writes its own more specific policies.

    See: Books about Wikipedia

    Why do people contribute to Wikipedia?

    Essentially: “I like the idea of sharing knowledge and want to contribute to it,” and “I saw an error I wanted to fix.”

    My personal experience: Being part of a learning and teaching community, meeting smart, passionate, and knowledgeable people. This perspective is somewhat “taboo”; strong sense that “we are not Facebook.”

    So, what does contributing look like?

    How do professionals work alongside volunteers?

    • Cultural institutions (GLAM-Wiki): Wikipedians in Residence, content donations/uploads, edit-a-thons.
    • Companies: Conflict of interest is an important concern. Employees must disclose their connection to the company, per tradition and, since 2014, per Terms of Use. (See various approaches compared.)

    What has been tried to further engage volunteers?

    Number of editors, diversity of editors, expertise of editors are all considered priorities. Here are a few things that have been successful, to some degree, at increasing participation:

    Software, policies, and cultural evolution: We have to make it easy.

    • Software: Pete Forsyth, presentation at the Future of Text Symposium (2015): Seven principles that support effective collaboration
    • Policies: Broad community input is necessary, and messy; process of developing/refining policy could use work.
    • Cultural evolution: Focus has often been on remedial issues (dealing with harassment, vandalism, etc.); focus on promoting what works well is needed.


    by Pete Forsyth at August 06, 2016 10:25 PM

    August 04, 2016

    Wikimedia Foundation

    Community digest: Konkani language speakers are separated by scripts but unite by Wikipedia; news in brief

    Konkani-language Wikipedians on what they think of Wikipedia as a binding factor for native speakers who speak in different variations of the same language and write in different scripts.

    by Subhashish Panigrahi at August 04, 2016 08:15 PM

    The bold hero and bolder heroine of the first modern Olympics marathon

    We look back at a pair of Olympic athletes you won’t see in today’s breaking headlines.

    by Aubrie Johnson at August 04, 2016 05:25 PM

    Meet the amateur photographer who has taken the most featured pictures on Wikimedia Commons

    Out of 15,084 images Delso has taken and uploaded, the Wikimedia community has rated 306 as 'featured' and 8,696 as 'quality.'

    by Ed Erhart at August 04, 2016 05:17 PM

    Wiki Education Foundation

    Visiting Scholar opportunity at Brown University

    Ryan McGrady
    Ryan McGrady

    I’m pleased to announce a new Visiting Scholars opportunity at Brown University, through the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.

    Brown would like to support an experienced Wikipedia editor interested in improving articles related to ethnic studies. Through the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program, educational institutions empower Wikipedians who like to edit in particular topic areas by giving them remote access to databases, ebooks, and other research resources available through the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Brown’s primary research library for the humanities and social sciences. Wikipedians gain access to high-quality materials to write about topics they’re already interested in, and institutions make a contribution to public knowledge in a particular field by broadening the impact of their collections.

    Brown University is a private, Ivy League university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as “The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges established before the American Revolution. Brown is currently home to more than 6,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students. There are more than 70 concentrations for undergraduates to focus on, and graduate students pursue studies in the university’s 51 doctoral programs and 28 MA programs.

    The Brown University community’s investments in various issues related to ethnic studies is evident in the work done at many of its centers and institutes: the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, the Cogut Humanities Center, the Swearer Center for Public Service, The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, and the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice, among others. Additionally, Brown is currently working on a “Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion” plan that “outlines a set of concrete, achievable actions to make Brown a more fully diverse and inclusive community.”

    The John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage is invested in education, research, and public engagement initiatives to connect individuals and communities to art, history, and culture. It has built a strong reputation for programs that connect university humanities expertise with broader audiences, community-based arts and humanities, and in training students for work in a broad range of cultural organizations. It is institutionally tied to Brown’s American Studies department (which also includes a program in Ethnic Studies) and works closely with its faculty and students.

    Supporting this position at Brown are Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities Jim McGrath, and the Center’s Director, Professor Susan Smulyan. Asked why they would like to support a Visiting Scholar, they explained that “articles related to topics covered in this field may be in need of revision, creation, or other modes of improvement, and our investments in public humanities have led us to consider how we might help facilitate improvements in the world’s largest online encyclopedia.”

    Examples of topic areas the Scholar could work in include diaspora, migration, social movements, and/or political economies of social inequality and racial formation. They are also interested in supporting the improvement of articles about literary and historical figures important to understandings of Native American, Latinx, and Asian-American cultural histories.

    For more information, see the Visiting Scholars section of our website, or apply here.

    Photo: Nightingale-Brown House by Kenneth C. ZirkelOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    by Ryan McGrady at August 04, 2016 04:00 PM

    Weekly OSM

    weeklyOSM 315


    Logo Route from Prince Rupert (CA) to San José (Costa Rica) via Washington (USA) with OpenRouteService 1 | OpenRouteService is going global – including the Americas


    • Portable OpenStreetMap (POSM) aims to provide an offline workflow for mapping by integrating with OpenMapKit, FieldPapers, JOSM and others. It enables volunteers to bring OSM data into the field on very small servers that host their own wireless local area network, allowing editing to occur without any access to the Internet at all.
    • User geocodec compares the current indoor mapping of the Olympic venues in Rio de Janeiro in OSM and Google.
    • The Osmose-QA tool is available with world wide coverage. (Französisch) (automatic translation)
    • Coleman McCormick explains how to map OpenStreetMap data with your own captured videos.
    • The Education 2.0 proposal in the wiki was rejected.


    • Benutzer -karlos- thinks that there should be an OSM Go, similar to Pokemon Go, to gain new mappers. He has some basic ideas, but is seeking for further input and help.
    • Australia is moving north – Andy Mabbett asks what the impact of Australia’s plans to change national coordinates will be on OSM. A followup message has lots more detail.
    • Lars Ingebrigtsen considers closing the Gmane archive due to hackers and lawyers costing him much time. Gmane mirrors a large amount of OSM mailing lists, too.
    • As we reported in Issue 314, the Kickstarter campaign for a $99 “MapClub” started by Steve Coast was canceled. A blog post by Alex Mahrou talks about the reasons. Steve reacts to that post and the cancellation.
    • Katrin Humal published a post about Celine Jacquins (mapeadora) work on OpenStreetMap, HOT, Mapillary and her love for Open Data.
    • Martien Sch complains about a change a Mapbox employee made, which removed good, locally surveyed data to replace it with bad remote data. She is also not pleased with his answer on her changeset comment. (Niederländisch) (automatic translation)
    • The Spanish OSM community also wants to create a local chapter.
    • User marczoutendijk shares his learning from running the “Welcome-to-new-mappers” program – an initiative to help new mappers in The Netherlands get started. Having run the program for over a year, marczoutendijk explains why he will no longer continue the program.
    • Michal Migurski explains in his blog why we don’t need “craft mappers” any longer, and why we should surrender those duties to Mapzen, Facebook and the like. Apparently “Facebook’s efforts here are a quantum leap in seeing from a distance” (though incidentally in Thailand their efforts had to be completely reverted and significant problems have been identified with their edits in Egypt). It’s worth reading the full text, if only for Joost Schouppe’s excellent comments.


    • Chetan Gowda discovered a large amount of poor-quality mapping of streets in Egypt. The comments to his post suggest that this has been auto traced by Facebook.
    • Meg Drouhard at the University of Washington wants to import sidewalks in Seattle. The discussion continues over the talk-us, tagging and imports lists.
    • User schleuss compares building data across a few cities in the U.S and shows the impact of L.A. Building import project in making OSM data ‘building rich’.

    OpenStreetMap Foundation

    • Andy Allan explains how to help and test contributions to the Operations Working Group’s work. The OpenStreetMap blog also calls for participants that want to help.


    • State of the Map Japan is happening at Tokyo on August 6th. (Japanisch) (automatic translation) The theme for this year is “relations” – fostering stronger partnerships between various users of the map. Participation is free of cost.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • You would like to see MapSwipe in your language? Then translate the few items in the spreadsheet.
    • MSF (Medecins Sans Frontières) urgently needs data for teams in Kinshasa that are battling the yellow fever outbreak. The most recent tasks are #2043 and #2045.


    • Mateusz Konieczny compares OSM carto and other map styles with the aim to improve the style. Further comparisons are to follow.
    • [1] OpenRouteService, the first routing service based on OpenStreetMap, now provides routing services for North and South America including all the main routing profiles, e.g. for car, pedestrian, heavy vehicles, bikes – the latter with several options from MTB, road bike to safest bike route etc.




    • Anand Thakker has launched a new project. A promising approach: “A pipeline to simplify building a set of training data for aerial-imagery- and OpenStreetMap- based machine learning. The idea is to use OSM QA Tiles to generate “ground truth” images where each color represents some category derived from OSM features. Being map tiles, it’s then pretty easy to match these up with the desired input imagery.”
    • Marcos Dione explains how he’s automatically extracting the centerline of riverbanks.
    • Mapbox’ lawyer approaches the OSM2Vectortiles project. Following accusations regarding authorship of the project’s PBF files there now seems to be a problem with the BSD-licensed “MapBox Streets Style”.


    Software Version Release date Comment
    Locus Map Free 3.18.5 2016-07-16 No more MapQuest maps, some improvements and many bug fixes
    OSM Buildings 3.1.0 2016-07-27 3 changes and one fix
    Mapillary Android 2.37 2016-07-28 Many extensions and some bug fixes
    Mapillary iOS 4.4.8 2016-07-30 Crash using facebook, GPS bug fixed

    provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

    Did you know …

    • … MapGive, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit, provides a step-by-step guide to help volunteers get started with mapping and contribute to humanitarian initiatives?
    • … want to explore the possibilities of OsmAnd on your travels? Matthias Grote from heise Download Team succinctly sums up the most important functions of this versatile OSM app.
    • .. Go Map for iOS? Matthijs Melissen shares his personal experience of how the mobile editor has minimized the chance of user errors and made mapping easy.
    • … the many approaches to include images in UMAP? Please attempt to read the whole thread. 😉

    OSM in the media

    • José Sierra (Levante el Marcantil Valenciano) reports (Spanish) about the education of geo experts in Valencia focused on “OSM / HOT”. (Automatic translation).

    Other “geo” things

    • Troy Lambert explains how maps are used to share information in a visual and engaging manner.
    • Apparently Apple has opened a secret development office for Apple Maps in Berlin and recruited developers that were also based in Berlin for Here Maps.
    • Brian McClendon writes on Uber’s blog about the mapping efforts that Uber are making, including launching mapping cars on the roads of the U.S.
    • The UN OpenGIS Initiative is to identify and develop an Open Source GIS bundle that meets the requirements of UN operations. The logo contest invites the artistic minds in the community to develop the official logo of the UN OpenGIS initiative. Deadline – August 31st, 2016
    • Gonzalo Ciruelos tries to mathematically determines the roundness of countries with details of the dataset used, algorithm and the code implementation.

    Upcoming Events

    Where What When Country
    Amagasaki みんなのサマーセミナー 06/08/2016 japan
    Taipei Taipei Meetup, Mozilla Community Space 08/08/2016 taiwan
    Essen SommerCamp 2016 12/08/2016-14/08/2016 germany
    Ballerup OpenStreetMap 12th Anniversary 13/08/2016 denmark
    Posadas Segunda Reunión Regional de Maperos OpenStreetMap 13/08/2016 argentina
    Kyoto 京都国宝・浪漫マッピングパーティ:第2回 特別編 サントリー京都ビール工場、恵解山古墳、ねじりまんぽ 20/08/2016 japan
    Bonn FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint 20/08/2016-22/08/2016 germany
    Derby Derby 23/08/2016 united kingdom
    Bonn FOSS4G 2016 24/08/2016-26/08/2016 germany

    Note: If you like to see your event here, please put it into the calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM. Please check your event in our public calendar preview and correct it, where appropiate..

    This weekly was produced by Hakuch, Laura Barroso, Nakaner, Peda, Polyglot, Rogehm, SomeoneElse, SrrReal, derFred, escada, mgehling, wambacher.

    by weeklyteam at August 04, 2016 08:25 AM

    August 03, 2016

    Magnus Manske

    Livin’ on the edge

    A few days ago, Lydia posted about the first prototype of the new structured data system for Commons, based on Wikidata technology. While this is just a first step, structured data for Commons seems finally within reach.

    And that brings home the reality of over 32 million files on Commons, all having unstructured data about them, in the shape of the file description pages. It would be an enormous task do manually transcribe all these descriptions, licenses, etc. to the appropriate data structures. And while we will have to do just that for many of the files, the ones that can be transcribed by a machine, should be.

    So I went ahead and re-wrote a prototype tool I had build for just this occasion a while ago. I call it CommonsEdge (a play on Common sedge). It is both an API, and an interface to that API. It will parse a file description page on Commons, and return a JSON object with the data elements corresponding to the description page. An important detail is that this parser does not just pick some elements it understands, and ignore the rest; internally, it tries to “explain” all elements of the description (templates, links, categories, etc.) as data, and fails if it can not explain one. That’s right, the API call will fail with an error, unless 100% of the page would be represented in the JSON object returned. This prevents “half-parsed” pages; a file description page that is successfully pared by the API can safely be replaced in its entirety by the resulting structured data. In case of failure, the error message is usually quite specific and detailed about the cause; this allows for incremental improvements of the parser.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 21.35.19At the moment of writing, I find that ~50-60% of file descriptions (based on sets of 1000 random files) produce a JSON object, that is, can be completely understood by the parser, and completely represented in the result. That’s 16-19 million files descriptions that can be converted to structured data automatically, today. Most of the failures appear to be due to bespoke templates; the more common ones can be added over time.

    A word about the output: Since the structured data setup, including properties and foreign keys, is still in flux, I opted for a simple output format. It is not Wikibase format, but similar; most elements (except categories and coordinates, I think) are just lists of type-and-value tuples (example). I try to use URLs as much as possible, for example, when referencing users on Commons (or other Wikimedia projects) or flickr. Licenses are currently links to the Wikidata element corresponding to the used template (ideally, I would like to resolve that through Wikidata properties pointing to the appropriate license).

    Source code is available. Pull requests are welcome.

    by Magnus at August 03, 2016 09:11 PM