July 29, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

100 years after its release, watch the first Alice in Wonderland film for free

Alice in Wonderland (1915) by American Film Manufacturing Company. Movie by W.W. Young, public domain.

It has been 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland first reached the minds of millions of readers around the world, starting a global fascination with an adventurous little girl in a strange land. The novel was first written in 1865—150 years ago—by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under his pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The classic tale tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures. 50 years later, the first Alice in Wonderland film was released in January 1915.

From its introduction in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the metaphor “down the rabbit hole” references an entry into the unknown, an analogous experience of many Wikipedia readers. The structure and design of Wikipedia embodies the joy of falling down the (knowledge) rabbit hole, hopping from one Wikipedia article to the next, discovering previously unknown subjects.

The full silent film exists in the public domain and is available to watch for free on Wikimedia Commons. Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham - 15 - At this the whole pack rose up into the air and came flying down upon her.jpg
Illustration of Alice and the playing cards. Illustration by Obakeneko, public domain

The below text is adapted from Wikipedia, written by various contributors, freely licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GDFL. Authorship information can be found in each article’s “history” tab.

Andrew Sherman, Digital Communications Intern, Wikimedia Foundation
Michael Guss, Research Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation

by Andrew Sherman and Michael Guss at July 29, 2015 01:24 AM

July 28, 2015

Wiki Education Foundation

Wiki Ed Dashboard launches course management features

The new course creation interface in the Wiki Ed Dashboard.
The new course creation interface in the Wiki Ed Dashboard.

The newest version of the Wiki Ed Dashboard is up and running! Instructors can now go through the entire process of setting up a course, designing a Wikipedia assignment, and keeping up with students’ activity — all from dashboard.wikiedu.org.

Until now, our systems for setting up and keeping track of Wikipedia classroom assignments have been a bit of a patchwork. For designing assignments, instructors in the Spring 2015 term used the Assignment Design Wizard, a standalone web app that walked instructors through the steps of customizing an assignment plan and then posted it to Wikipedia. Before that, a set of wiki templates would provide instructors with some basic syllabus boilerplate. For setting up the course, instructors have been using the EducationProgram extension on Wikipedia, which let student editors enroll in the course and list their assigned articles. Then the initial version of the Dashboard provided an overview of class’s contributions.

The new dashboard.wikiedu.org brings all these features together. Instructors and students can log in using their Wikipedia accounts. The Dashboard automatically updates Wikipedia pages on their behalf to show their assignment timeline and to indicate who is working on what. The Dashboard fully handles the course setup and assignment design process, and gives an even better picture of what student editors are doing throughout the term.

Last month, we piloted this new Dashboard to set up our Summer Seminar in Psychology, and now we’re opening it to all fall 2015 courses. The ongoing summer classes will be the last set to use the legacy course system. To get started with setting up your spring course, just go to dashboard.wikiedu.org, log in, and click “Create New Course”.

We’ll continue refining the Dashboard and adding more features. If you find a bug, or if you have ideas for the Dashboard’s future, let me know: sage@wikiedu.org.

by Sage Ross at July 28, 2015 05:48 PM

July 27, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikipedia Picks: a ‘bad-boy’ bishop and expensive tulips

Welcome to our second installment of ‘Wikipedia Picks,’ a new content experiment for the Wikimedia blog. This feature invites one Wikipedia community member to curate a list of five articles, images, or other content that they find interesting or important.

This week’s guest host is Victoria Short (Ealdgyth), who has written 60 featured articles on the English Wikipedia, in whole or as part of a team. Since Victoria started editing in 2007, she’s made over 86,000 edits; her favored topics range widely from horses to medieval bishops. In real life, she lives in the United States, where she owns five horses. For this week’s Wikipedia Picks, she selected five articles, two of which she personally worked on. As always with Wikipedia Picks, the choices and comments are the editor’s, and are not endorsed by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The ‘bad-boy’ bishop

Saint Louis Psalter 17 recto.jpg
This Life of Christ illuminated psalter was meant for reading. Despite its appearance, this is parchment. Artwork by unknown, currently held by Leiden University, public domain.

Geoffrey (archbishop of York): I’ve been accused of writing about “bad-boy bishops” before, and this is the epitome of a bad-boy bishop. He had the Angevin temper, an absolute inability to let any sort of controversy go, and the amazing ability to be involved in six or seven fights at once. Often embroiled in difficulties with his half-siblings, Geoffrey’s main virtue was his loyalty to their father. I’ve always been fascinated by Geoffrey, who displayed most of the virtues and most of the vices of his famous father. All in all—you have to agree with Douie that he was a “formidable bastard” … in more than one respect.

The slave trader and swindler

Engraving of Monroe Edwards from the frontispiece of Life and Adventures of the Accomplished Forger and Swindler, Colonel Monroe Edwards.jpg
Edwards was a modern-day Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me If You Can fame), albeit much less successful. Engraving by unknown, public domain.

Monroe Edwards: I came to this subject in a very roundabout way. My interest in Thoroughbred horse history led me to write George Wilkes, who was an early American sports journalist and racing writer (among other things). While doing some research on him, I was pointed to the American National Biography article on Edwards—who was just fascinating to my “bad boy” interests. A slave trader, forger, and swindler, all in one! And I’d actually been to the part of Texas he had his plantation on, which made it more interesting. This is the sort of article I think Wikipedia does best – bringing some obscure part of history back into the limelight.

The man who could fake Vermeers

Das letzte Abendmahl von Han van Meegeren (1939).jpg
Using the style of Vermeer, Meegeren painted The Last Supper I in 1939. Photo by Nationaal Archief NL, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

Han van Meegeren: A different type of forger, I read about this guy when I was very young and it may be one reason why I’ve always been fascinated by tales of swindlers and forgers. A man who swindled Hermann Goring, a Nazi politician, and managed to pull the wool over the eyes of many art critics and historians. And after his death, his forgeries became collectible themselves. Definitely a different type of art, for sure.

How much money would you pay for a tulip bulb?

A source for our knowledge of the tulip mania; note the exorbitant 3,000–4,200 florin price. Republished from Verzameling Van Een Meenigte Tulipaanen (1637), public domain.

Tulip mania: This is an excellent article on the classic “investment swindle” of all time which is actually as much a story of intellectual swindling – as it now appears that the classic account of the hysteria was itself very limited and had no where near the scope originally argued for it. An intellectual simplification up there with “medieval people thought the world was flat”.

Female genital mutilation

Campaign road sign against female genital mutilation (cropped) 2.jpg
A Ugandan campaign against female genital mutilation, 2004. Photo by Amnon Shavit, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

Female genital mutilation: Turning from frauds, swindles, and forgeries… the last article I remain fascinated with details a controversial practice that is very much real. As a woman, I cannot imagine what constraints of social mores lead women to do this to their own female relatives. A great article on a scarily prevalent practice that horrifies the reader.

Victoria Short (Ealdgyth)
English Wikipedia editor

This story is part of an ongoing content experiment to produce more interesting stories for you, the reader of the Wikimedia blog. Please leave comments below on how we can improve this proposed feature.

by Victoria Short at July 27, 2015 09:28 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Welcome Andrew Lih, first Summer Research Fellow


Andrew Lih
Andrew Lih

I’m excited to welcome Andrew Lih as the Wiki Education Foundation’s inaugural Summer Research Fellow. This month-long pilot is a case study for our Fellowship Program, in which we’ll host professors or graduate students to help us answer questions about our programmatic work.

Andrew will be working from Wiki Ed’s Presidio offices in San Francisco from today until mid-August. This summer, Andrew will create a strategy and select case studies for outlining how university libraries, museums, and archives could work with instructors, students, and/or the community of Wikipedia editors as part of the Year of Science.

Andrew is an ideal person to be our first Fellow. As User:Fuzheado, Andrew has been editing Wikipedia since 2003 and was one of the first to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool that year. He’s taught numerous courses where he assigned students to contribute content to Wikipedia, including several affiliated with Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program. His work connecting students to museums in Washington, D.C., as part of his Wikipedia assignment can be found in our Case Studies brochure. He is also a member of the GLAM-Wiki US Consortium Advisory Group.

Recently, he was awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation to design an exhibit about Wikipedia for display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and to develop a traveling version as a learning resource for open culture and content.

We look forward to working with Andrew over the next month.

LiAnna Davis
Director of Program Support

Photo:Andrew Lih” by Joi Ito – originally posted to Flickr as Andrew Lih. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.



by LiAnna Davis at July 27, 2015 05:04 PM

Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia UK’s members elect new trustees

The photo shows a panel of people at the front of a room, facing a crowd

Hustings at Saturday’s AGM

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

I am very pleased to announce that at our annual general meeting on Saturday 25 July the members of Wikimedia UK elected three new trustees to the board from a very strong slate of candidates.

Please join me in offering a very warm welcome to Doug Taylor, Nick Poole and Josie Fraser.

Doug Taylor will be well known to many readers as a long-standing active Wikimedia volunteer and Lead Trainer for WMUK. He previously served on the board during 2012-13. Doug is a retired teacher and IT professional.

Nick Poole is the Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. His previous roles include serving as CEO of the Collections Trust and Chair of the Europeana Network. He brings extensive knowledge of and influence in the international GLAM community, and has strong connections to policymakers and funders in the UK and Europe.

Josie Fraser has for the past five years worked in local government as the strategic technology lead of one of the country’s largest and most accelerated school building programmes. She is an expert in the relationship between education and technology and a vocal advocate for free and open knowledge.

Existing trustees Greyham Dawes (treasurer) and myself (chair) were re-elected.

Three trustees have stepped down from the board: Alastair McCapra, Saad Choudri and Joseph Seddon. We thank them for their exceptional expertise, commitment and diligence, and we wish them well for the future.

With these changes, the new board is as follows:

Michael Maggs (board chair, and chair of governance committee)
Simon Knight (vice chair)
Greyham Dawes (treasurer, governance committee, audit and risk committee)
Chris Keating (audit and risk committee)
Carol Campbell (chair of audit and risk committee)
Kate West (governance committee, audit and risk committee)
Gill Hamilton
Doug Taylor
Nick Poole
Josie Fraser

The new board will formally meet for the first time on Saturday 12 September at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where officer roles will be reviewed.

Please join me in welcoming the new board.

Michael Maggs

Chair, Wikimedia UK

by Stevie Benton at July 27, 2015 04:25 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #31, 2015 (July 27, 2015)

This document has a planned publication deadline (link leads to timeanddate.com).
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July 27, 2015 12:00 AM

July 26, 2015

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Sydney Hollander award

Some awards merit extra attention. One of them is the Sydney Hollander award. It was awarded to people and organisations that were instrumental in bringing an end to segregation in the United States. The award was brought attention to "best practices" and reinforced them. The first recipient in 1946 was the Baltimore Sun. It received the award because it finally ended the practice of indicating what race was desired in the "help wanted" section. At the time there was an argument if they deserved the award in the first place. Later the award proved to be a catalyst in bringing further changes to the Sun. After the award was received, the Sun began to cover the black community and interview notable people of colour.

The Sydney Hollander award had its end in 1964 because it was recognised that desegregation was now covered on a higher level. The need for the award was no longer so urgent.

Arguably, when Wikipedia is to document the history of the United States, an award like this and the achievements it celebrates deserve attention. One issue may be the lack of sources. There is not much to find on the Internet, there is not much to read in the Wikipedia article.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 26, 2015 05:18 PM

July 25, 2015

Gerard Meijssen

#SignWriting #Symposium - including #Wikipedia

For a second year now the Signwriting Foundation organises their online symposium. For those who do not know, SignWriting is all about writing sign languages. This has been under development for over 40 years and it was founded by Valerie Sutton.

When a language can be written, it may have a Wikipedia and, it has been wished for for a long time. The problems are many. The characters have to show, the text is written online for it to be truly a Wiki.

In a presentation on this years symposium, Yair Rand informs us about a keyboard that has been developed to bring the reality of Wikipedia for a sign language even closer.

If there is one thing the people at SignWriting org teach us, it is that perseverance matters. With an input method, a Wikipedia in the American Sign Language is that much closer.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 25, 2015 07:17 AM

July 24, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

“One small step…”

Forty-six years ago this week, the Apollo 11 mission took three men into outer space. Two of them, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were the first humans to set foot on the surface of the Moon. It was a great achievement in human history, marked by Armstrong’s memorable phrase “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The photographs of that mission remain among the most recognizable in recent history.

Of the photograph of Aldrin taken by Armstrong on the lunar surface taken, Aldrin tweeted this week: “I have 3 words to describe why this photo Neil took of me is so iconic: Location, location, location.” The final photograph is not as famous. It is a photo uploaded by a Wikimedian taken by his grandfather of his mother as a young girl during this historic moment, a great example of how ordinary Wikimedians can contribute to documenting their world and its history.

Apollo 11 Launch2.jpg
Earth, Moon and Lunar Module, AS11-44-6643.jpg
5927 NASA.jpg
Aldrin Apollo 11.jpg
Apollo 11 bootprint 2.jpg
Land on the Moon 7 21 1969-repair.jpg

Robert Fernandez
Signpost editor-in-chief
English Wikipedia editor

This blog post was originally published in the Signpost, a news journal about the English Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community. It was slightly edited for publication on the Wikimedia Blog.

All photos are in the public domain: the first five are from NASA, and the final image is by Jack Weir.

by Robert Fernandez at July 24, 2015 10:06 PM

It’s all due to hockey: Kunal Mehta’s journey from casual editor to programming mentor

Shark head.jpg
San Jose Sharks’ pre-game entrance before the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16, 2007. Kunal’s first edits to Wikipedia were made to the article about the 2006–07 San Jose Sharks season a month later. Picture by Eliot a.k.a. pointnshoot, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

For Wikimedia Foundation software engineer Kunal Mehta, it’s all due to hockey. “I discovered Wikipedia through Google, and started using it directly for looking up various sports statistics and other general knowledge. I soon discovered that they weren’t always up-to-date and started updating them myself after the hockey games I watched.”

A native of San Jose, California and an avid Sharks fan, Kunal—also known by his nickname Legoktm—credits his Wikipedia beginnings with a thirst for hockey knowledge. “When I first started editing Wikipedia in 2007, I was really into hockey, so I mainly edited hockey-related articles. Eventually, I found my way to the meta side to the project, discovered AWB, and got my first bot approved. I soon found out about pywikibot, and tried writing a custom bot to automatically write articles about hockey players—except I didn’t know Python.”

A self-described free and open knowledge enthusiast, Kunal wasn’t about to give up. He learned programming in Python from the Python Programming book on Wikibooks and started running bots to perform tedious and mundane edits to improve Wikipedia. However, it wasn’t until late 2012 that Kunal got truly involved with MediaWiki, the software that’s powering Wikipedia. “I got frustrated that AbuseFilter bugs that I had reported weren’t being fixed and tried to fix them myself. I say ‘tried,’ because my first patch had a syntax error in it and partially broke the AbuseFilter for 30 minutes after being deployed.”

MassMessage, written by Kunal, provides a simple interface to sending notices, newsletters and other publications to a mass audience. It is currently used to deliver Wikipedia Signpost. VisualEditor newsletter, Tech News, and others. Screenshot by MZMcBride, public domain.

Over the years, Kunal changed his role from a bot operator to an active developer, helping to rewrite pywikibot to its current version, as well as creating and maintaining several MediaWiki extensions. “I’m still partial to MassMessage, which was the first major MediaWiki project I worked on”, he says. “At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into until Siebrand Mazeland talked with me during the 2013 Wikimania in Hong Kong and explained the things I’d need to do—and find other people to help me with—to get it deployed.” After a summer’s worth of work, the extension was enabled on Wikipedia, and is currently being used to deliver important community-wide notices, newsletters, and other publications, including the English Wikipedia’s Signpost and Tech News.

Looking back at that time, Kunal says: “Seeing my name on Special:Version—a page that lists people who wrote MediaWiki and its extensions—next to some awesome people that I looked up to was an amazing feeling. MassMessage is still my favorite because it got me deeply involved into development, and I had to work with different parts of MediaWiki to put it together. When people have questions, I can often point them to a code sample in MassMessage to show how we worked around or fixed something.”

In addition to his daily work at the Wikimedia Foundation, Kunal has been giving back to the community by coaching new MediaWiki developers. In 2014, he mentored two Google Summer of Code projects which allowed email bouncing in MediaWiki and improved target list handling in MassMessage, and is currently co-mentoring a tool called crosswatch that aims to create a much-requested watchlist for multiple Wikimedia projects in one page. “We could really use some testing from editors,” Kunal says, inviting people to report suggestions and problems with the new tool.

As we neared the end of our interview, I asked Kunal about the good and the bad in MediaWiki. True to his own admission of “not being a good writer,” he provides me with a bulleted list of things that are “concerning”: a growing gap between editors and developers, the popular misconception about MediaWiki being “the thing that powers Wikipedia” instead of “the free and open source software that also powers Wikipedia,” and the sad fate of useful features that reach beta stage but end up being abandoned.

On the “awesome” side, Kunal lists the continued work on improving MediaWiki’s architecture and the much-awaited VisualEditor, which provides a WYSIWYM (“what you see is what you mean”) interface to editing Wikipedia.

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Tomasz Kozlowski at July 24, 2015 07:32 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Year of Science initiative focuses on science communication, literacy

Forty million Americans rely on the internet as their primary source for science information. Half of all Americans have used the internet to fact check the science in a news report, and more than half say they’d turn to the internet first to learn about a scientific controversy. And 70% have gone online to learn about a new scientific concept (source).

That search typically includes Wikipedia. As the top online educational resource on the planet, with more links from search engines than any other site, Wikipedia is one of the most powerful platforms for the dissemination of science information in the world.

That’s why we made the Wikipedia Year of Science a centerpiece in our annual plan. It’s an initiative to improve science articles on Wikipedia, close gaps in scientific content, and help more people find free, high-quality information about science. In the meantime, we’ll offer real practice in science communication to students across the USA and Canada.

We’ll be recruiting in science fields to help expand the number of instructors teaching with Wikipedia through our Classroom Program. We’re especially looking for courses that can expand Wikipedia’s representation of women scientists. We’re already reaching out to form partnerships with academic associations. Of course, we’ll continue to support instructors outside of the sciences interested in teaching with Wikipedia as well.

It’s not just classrooms. We’re also in the process of connecting Wikipedia Visiting Scholars to science-based resources at institutions of higher learning.

If you’re an instructor, a representative of an institution of higher learning, or academic association, and interested in collaborating on this exciting, large-scale science communication project, reach out to contact@wikiedu.org.

Photo: “StFX Physical Sciences Lab” by StFX – StFX. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

by Eryk Salvaggio at July 24, 2015 05:05 PM


Inspirations from Wikimania 2015

2015-07 k1 CDMX 2144Now I am back from Mexico City, and the most urgent part of my homework is done:

Thanks for all the ideas and support!

by Ziko van Dijk at July 24, 2015 04:42 PM

July 23, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

News on Wikipedia: New Horizons and Iran agreement

See story for photo credits.

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

New Horizons

Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg
The new images of Pluto taken by New Horizons are helping scientists learn about the dwarf planet. Image by NASA, in the public domain.

NASA‘s New Horizons probe became the first space probe to visit Pluto on Tuesday (July 14). The probe took several photographs of the dwarf planet, as well as its moon Charon, as it flew past. The probe came within 7,750 miles (12,472 km) of the surface of Pluto, the closest a probe has ever been to the planet, and its findings should allow researchers a clearer understanding of the planet’s makeup and geographic features.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: New Horizons, Pluto

Iran nuclear deal reached

Negotiations about Iranian Nuclear Program - the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Other Officials of the P5+1 and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iran and EU in Lausanne.jpg
The agreement had been under debate for years by the involved parties, and finally signed in Vienna. Image by United States Department of State, in the public domain.

The P5+1 countries—a group made up of the UN Security Council‘s five permanent members, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany—reached an agreement with Iran on Tuesday (July 14) surrounding the country’s nuclear weapons. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed in Vienna following years of negotiation, and sees Iran cut down on various aspects of its nuclear capabilities in exchange for santion relief.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Nuclear program of Iran

Jules Bianchi dies

Jules Bianchi 2012-3.JPGBianchi, pictured here in 2012, was the subject of hundreds of tributes from his fellow professionals. Image by Henry Mineur, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Formula One driver Jules Bianchi died on Friday (July 17) following an incident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Bianchi had been in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Nice, France, since the incident in October, in which he lost control of his car in wet conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle. He is the first Formula One driver to be killed as a result of an accident during a race event since Ayrton Senna’s death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Jules Bianchi

US–Cuba relations restored

President Obama Meets with President Castro.png
Relations between the countries had been all but destroyed by the Cold War. Image by the United States Government, in the public domain.

The United States and Cuba, who severed ties in 1962 during the Cold War, officially reopened diplomatic relations on Monday (July 20). The so-called “Cuban Thaw” began in December last year, as Barack Obama and Rubén Castro announced plans to rebuild their nations’ relationship following months of secret talks, apparently also involving Pope Francis.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Cuban Thaw, Cuba–United States relations

Suicide blast on Turkish border

The targeted victims were gathered for a press statement on the rebuilding of Kobanî, seen here. Photo by VOA, in the public domain.

A bombing in the Turkish district of Suruç, Şanlıurfa Province—on the border with Syria—on Monday (July 20) killed 32 people and injured 104. The bombing targeted members of the youth wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, the Socialist Youth Associations Federation. They were listening to a press statement on the rebuilding of Kobanî, a Syrian city around ten kilometers from Suruç that had been under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces. The latter group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Suruç bombing, Syrian–Turkish border incidents during the Syrian civil war

Traffic spikes

Page view data for News on Wikipedia- July 14–21.png
Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Clearly, NASA‘s flyby of former planet Pluto with its New Horizons probe was the most popular article in this week’s roundup, likely helped by the dwarf planet’s appearance on the homepage of the English Wikipedia to commemorate the event. It attracted almost 220,000 page views on July 14 as the probe passed by.

Jules Bianchi‘s tragic and untimely passing led to many looking him up on Wikipedia, with nearly 105,000 people visiting his biography on July 18 as the news broke. The other three stories, in fact, were not nearly as accessed as his biography was; the article on the “plan of action” on Iran’s nuclear weapons was read by around 18,000 upon its signing last week.

The last two articles also hover around the 18,000 page view spike mark, and are both new creations as of this week. Both the terrorist bombings in Suruç and the newly coined “Cuban Thaw” spiked on July 21.

Photo montage credits: “Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg” by NASA, in the public domain; “Jules Bianchi 2012-3.JPG” by Henry Mineur, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “KobanéVOA1.JPG” by VOA, in the public domain; “Negotiations about Iranian Nuclear Program – the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Other Officials of the P5+1 and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iran and EU in Lausanne.jpg.jpg” by United States Department of State, in the public domain; “President Obama Meets with President Castro.png” by the United States Government, in the public domain. Collage by Andrew Sherman

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 23, 2015 09:09 PM

Brion Vibber

WebGL performance tricks on MS IE and Edge

One of my pet projects is ogv.js, a video/audio decoder and player in JavaScript powered by codec libraries ported from C with Mozilla’s emscripten transpiler. I’m getting pretty close to a 1.0 release and deploying it to Wikimedia Commons to provide plugin-free Ogg (and experimentally WebM) playback on Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge browsers (the only major browsers lacking built-in WebM video support).

In cleaning it up for release, I’ve noticed some performance regressions on IE and Edge due to cleaning out old code I thought was no longer needed.

In particular, I found that drawing and YUV-RGB colorspace conversion using WebGL, which works fantastically fast in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, was about as slow as on-CPU JavaScript color conversion in IE 11 and Edge — luckily I had a hack in store that works around the bottleneck.

It turns out that uploading single-channel textures as LUMINANCE or ALPHA formats is vveerryy ssllooww in IE 11 update 1 and Edge, compared to uploading the exact same data blob as an RGBA texture…


As it turns out, I had had some older code to stuff things into RGBA textures and then unpack them in a shader for IE 10 and the original release of IE 11, which did not support LUMINANCE or ALPHA texture uploads! I had removed this code to simplify my WebGL code paths since LUMINANCE got added in IE 11 update 1, but hadn’t originally noticed the performance regression.

Unfortunately this adds a user-agent sniff to my ogv.js code… I prefer to use the LUMINANCE textures directly on other browsers where they perform well, because the textures can be scaled more cleanly in the case of source files with non-square pixels.

by brion at July 23, 2015 06:49 PM

Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing)

United Kingdom parliamentary URL structure: change needed

In Wikidata, Wikipedia’s sister project for storing statements of fact as , we record a number of unique identifiers.

For example, Tim Berners-Lee has the identifier “85312226” and is known to the as “nm3805083″.

We know that we can convert these to URLs by adding a prefix, so

by adding the prefixes:

  • https://viaf.org/viaf/
  • http://www.imdb.com/Name?

respectively. We only need to store those prefixes in Wikidata once each.


The in August 2014,
picture by Henry Kellner, CC BY-SA 3.0

The United Kingdom Parliament website also uses identifiers for MPs and members of the House of Lords.

For example, Tom Watson, an MP, is “1463”, and Jim Knight, aka The Lord Knight of Weymouth, is “4160”.

However, the respective URLs are:

meaning that the prefixes are not consistent, and require you to know the name or exact title.

Yet more ridiculous is that, if Tom Watson ever gets appointed to the House of Lords, even though his unique ID won’t change, the URL required to find his biography on the parliamentary website will change — and, because we don’t know whether he would be, say Lord Watson of Sandwell Valley, or Lord Watson of West Bromwich, we can’t predict what it will be.

When building databases, like Wikidata, this is all extremely unhelpful.

What we would like the parliamentary authorities to do — and what would benefit others wanting to make use of parliamentary URLs — is to use a standard, predictable type of URL, for example http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/1463 which uses the unique identifier, but does not require the individual’s house, name or title, and does not change if they shift to “the other place”.

If necessary they could then make that redirect to the longer URLs they prefer (though I wouldn’t recommend it).

I’ve asked them; but they don’t currently do this. In fact they explained their preference for the longer URLs thus:

…we are unable [sic] to shorten the url any further as the purpose of the current pattern of the web address is to display a pathway to the page.

The url also identifies the page i.e the indication of biographies including the name of the respective Member as to make it informative for online users who may view the page.

I find these arguments unconvincing, to say the least.

Screenshot, with Watson's name in the largest font on the page

There’s a big enough clue on the page, without needing to read the URL to identify its subject

Furthermore, the most verbose parts of the URLs are non-functioning; if we truncate Tom’s URL by simply dropping the final digit: http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/tom-watson/146, then we get the biography of a different MP. On the other hand, if we change it to, say: http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/t/1463, we still get Tom’s page. Try them for yourself.

So, how can we help the people running the Parliamentary website to change their minds, and to use a more helpful URL structure? Who do we need to persuade?

by Andy Mabbett at July 23, 2015 10:13 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - #portal to all #knowledge

The Dutch Royal #Library donated, yet again, a wonderful collection of material to #Commons. This time 3100 images were uploaded using the GLAM-wiki uploadtool for the first time.

When you read the announcement, it is really interesting to find what is known in Wikidata and by inference in Wikipedia. One fun fact is that the old image for Mr Schoemaker has his name in a way that makes more sense in Dutch.; schoenmaker means, shoemaker or cobbler.

When you visit Wikidata for the subjects mentioned in the mail, you find not that much information but often a rich source of external sources. Some of it is really informative and well worth a visit. For Wikipedia articles, we provide badges for excellent material. It highlights quality where we find it. Maybe something like this can be done for external sources as well.

Having attention for the external sources we link to makes Wikidata more of a portal to all knowledge. It would extend from what Wikidata already is: the portal to all available knowlege in the Wikimedia Foundation.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 23, 2015 08:01 AM

Joseph Reagle

The skew of rotten-apple jerks

An interesting study is being widely commented on, but, as is often the case, the press glosses about "harassment" are a bit askew. For instance, the Washington Post (cleverly) reports that "Men Who Harass Women Online are Quite Literally Losers." The actual study is entitled "Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour". In the study, Halo 3 games were recorded by way of three experimental player accounts: control (no voice channel), male, and female voices. Interactions with these accounts and other (focal) players were transcribed and coded (N=126) as positive, negative, or neutral. Skill level of focal players correlated with the valence of their comments; that is, higher skill male players correlated with more positive and less negative statements towards women.

The authors don't mention "harassment." Also, because of the small sample size and that only 13% of that (11 individuals) uttered hostile sexist statements, "We found that the presence of sexist statements was not determined by differences in maximum skill achieved." The paper is really about the extent to which lower-status male players are bigger jerks to women players. They did find this with respect to negative and positive statements -- and we could (rightfully) call this sexist itself -- but they didn't have the statistical power to conclude anything about hostile sexist statements.

What I found interesting, methodologically, is that for the analysis they had to exclude two mega-jerks as outliers. "For the examination of negative statements, there were two focal players in the female-voiced manipulation that made 10 more negative statements than the next highest individuals (greater than 5 standard deviations from the mean). As a result, we removed them from our analysis to ensure they did not skew our results towards significance." Given the "rotten apple" thesis (a minority of jerks can spoil the barrel), what they did for the purposes of statistical analysis doesn't correspond to the experience women players may have. A minority of awful people can send the majority of awfulness. That is, I believe, if we excluded 5% of the most awful people online as outliers, the Net would be a lovely place!

by Joseph Reagle at July 23, 2015 04:00 AM

Luis Villa

Wikimania 2015 – random thoughts and observations

Random thoughts from Wikimania, 2015 edition (2013, 2014):

"Wikimania 2015 Reception at Laboratorio Arte Alameda - 02" by Jarek Tuszynski,  under CC BY 4.0
Wikimania 2015 Reception at Laboratorio Arte Alameda – 02” by Jarek Tuszynski, under CC BY 4.0
  • Dancing: After five Wikimedia events (not counting WMF all-hands) I was finally dragged onto the dance floor on the last night. I’ll never be Garfield, but I had fun anyway. The amazing setting did not hurt.
  • Our hosts: The conference was excellently organized and run. I’ve never had Mexico City high on my list of “places I must see” but it moved up many spots after this trip.
  • First timers: I always enjoy talking to people who have never been to Wikimania before. They almost always seem to have enjoyed it, but of course the ones I talk to are typically the ones who are more outgoing and better equipped to enjoy things. I do hope we’re also being welcome to people who don’t already know folks, or who aren’t as outgoing.
  • Luis von Ahn: Good to chat briefly with my long-ago classmate. I thought the Q&A section of his talk was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. There were both good questions and interesting answers, which is more rare than it should be.
  • Keynotes: I’d love to have one keynote slot each year for a contributor to talk about their work within the movement. Finding the right person would be a challenge, of course, as could language barriers, but it seems like it should be doable.
  • US English: I was corrected on my Americanisms and the occasional complexity of my sentence structure. It was a good reminder that even for fairly sophisticated speakers of English as a second language, California-English is not terribly clear. This is especially true when spoken. Verbose slides can help, which is a shame, since I usually prefer minimal slides. I will try to work on that in the future, and see how we can help other WMFers do the same.
  • Mobile: Really hope someday we can figure out how to make the schedule legible on a mobile device :) Good reminder we’ve got a long way to go there.
  • Community engagement: I enjoyed my departments “engage with” session, but I think next year we need to make it more interactive—probably with something like an introduction/overview followed by a World Cafe-style discussion. One thing we did right was to take questions on written cards. This helped indicate what the most important topics were (when questions were repeated), avoided the problem of lecture-by-question, and opened the floor to people who might otherwise be intimidated because of language barriers or personality. Our booth was also excellent and I’m excited to see some of the stories that came out of it.
  • Technology and culture: After talking about how we’d used cards to change the atmosphere of a talk, someone deliberately provoked me: shouldn’t we address on-wiki cultural issues the same way, by changing the “technology” used for discussion? I agree that technology can help improve things, and we should think about it more than we do (e.g.) but ultimately it can only be part of the solution – our most difficult problems will definitely require work on culture as well as interfaces. (Surprisingly, my 2009 post on this topic holds up pretty well.)
  • Who is this for? I’ve always felt there was some tension around whether the conference is for “us” or for the public, but never had language for it. An older gentleman who I spoke with for a while finally gave me the right term: is it an annual meeting or is it a public conference? Nothing I saw here changed my position, which is that it is more annual meeting than public conference, at least until we get much better at turning new users into long-term users.
  • Esino Lario looks like it will be a lot of fun. I strongly support the organizing committee’s decision to focus less on brief talks and more on longer, more interactive conversations. That is clearly the best use of our limited time together. I’m also excited that they’re looking into blind submissions (which I suggested in my Wikimania post from last year).
  • Being an exec: I saw exactly one regular talk that was not by my department, though I did have lots and lots of conversations. I’m still not sure how I feel about this tradeoff, but I know it will become even harder if we truly do transition to a model with more workshops/conversations and fewer lectures, since those will be both more valuable and more time-consuming/less flexible.
  • Some day: I wrote most of this post in the Mexico City airport, and saw that there are flights from there to La Habana. I hope someday we can do a Wikimania there.

by Luis Villa at July 23, 2015 03:12 AM

July 22, 2015

Wiki Education Foundation

The Wiki Education Foundation is a proud sponsor of WikiConference USA 2015


Frank Schulenburg
Frank Schulenburg

The Wiki Education Foundation is proud to announce its sponsorship role for the 2015 WikiConference USA.

The event is co-organized by the National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia D.C., and Wikimedia NYC. It will take place at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., from October 9–11, 2015. This venue reflects a common mission between Wikimedia volunteers and the National Archives: a shared belief that free, open knowledge improves the world.

The parallels between the National Archives and the Wikimedia movement are many. Both seek to promote and preserve public knowledge. Since 1934, the National Archives has ensured that “the people can discover, use, and learn” from its holdings. Those holdings range from turning points in U.S. history, such as the Charters of Freedom, historic census data, and ship manifests.

As such, the National Archives is a natural host for WikiConference USA. The Archives launched its first Open Government Plan in 2010. Since then, it has uploaded thousands of historical documents to Wikimedia Commons. Wikipedia editors have shared these documents through thousands of articles and billions of pageviews.

We owe a deep gratitude to Dominic Byrd-McDevitt, NARA’s Digital Content Specialist, and the Wikimedia D.C. team. Together, they have worked to bring these historic documents to Wikimedia Commons. They’ve also been a driving force behind bringing WikiConference USA to the National Archives.

As a result, WikiConference USA will unite attendees within this historic and symbolic location, while deepening the ties between the National Archives and Wikimedia projects.

We are also grateful to Wikimedia NYC and Wikimedia D.C. volunteers. Because of them, this conference will be a grassroots conference. These volunteers are independently planning and organizing all panel presentations and events. They will sort out proposals and review scholarships. They welcome all good-faith contributors to submit proposals for presentations or workshops. You can inquire about other opportunities to volunteer by contacting info@wikimediadc.org. We welcome Wikipedia and Wikimedia volunteers as well as educators, researchers, and archivists — anyone with the curiosity and the will to attend.

We want to ensure participation from the widest range of possible attendees. That’s why the Wiki Education Foundation will sponsor scholarships for those who need them. These scholarships will cover travel and the costs of a hotel. You can apply here. For more information, please review our press release.

I am proud that the Wiki Education Foundation can help to create this opportunity to connect communities. I am extremely grateful for the work of the National Archives and Wikimedia volunteers who are making this happen.

Frank Schulenburg
Executive Director

Photo:GLAMcamp DC 2012 – National Archives building 2” by Jarek TuszynskiOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

by Frank Schulenburg at July 22, 2015 10:34 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Tec de Monterrey students complete two major video projects


Creating content and gaining experience with Wikipedia. Video by Daniel Ulacia and others, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Students from Tec de Monterrey in Mexico have been working through the Wiki Learning User Group/Education Program with video projects related to Wikipedia, both to create tutorial videos in Spanish and to create a brief documentary about what students have been doing on Wikipedia at the institution. The activities have opened doors not only to new ways to get involved in Wikimedia, but have also allowed students from both the high school and university divisions to collaborate. These experiences has proven quite valuable for all the participants involved.

In January 2015, students began Creando contenido, experiencias de aprender con Wikipedia (Creating content: learning experiences with Wikipedia), a project to create a brief film documentary of Wikipedia activities done at the institution and what their effects have been. The impetus for the project was a meeting between documentary filmmaker and Tec de Monterrey professor Daniel Ulacia and Wiki Learning coordinator Leigh Thelmadatter. Daniel had attended one of the general Wikipedia workshops for professors but was more interested in having his media arts students directly use the skills they learn in class, rather to write or translate articles about them. Brainstorming led to the idea of documenting student activities on video, with the aim of premiering it at Wikimania 2015. The video will also be used to present Wikipedia and ideas for activities in classes and other campus activities not only at the Mexico City campus, but also throughout the 32-campus system in Mexico.

Three high school media arts students began the project: Lourdes Daniela Tapia Gallegos, Jesús Alejandro Lee Lau, and Luis Francisco Peñaloza Ramírez during the Spring (Jan–May) 2015 semester. During this time, they conducted interviews (such as one with Anna Koval of the Wikipedia Education Program), and filmed activities related to the Tec de Monterrey’s first editathon, Experiencias Retadoras from 4-6 March 2015. They also did the initial editing of the final project, all under the supervision of Daniel Ulacia.

File:Como subir multimedia a Wikimedia Commons.webm

How to upload files to Wikimedia Commons. Video by AnaBelinda1992 and others, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

However, while the main structure of the video had taken shape, it was not possible to complete the project by the end of the semester. We solved this with a Wiki Learning program that allows university students to earn community service hours (required by Mexican law) working with Wikipedia. This attracted some students from the school’s Digital Arts and Animation department (LAD, acronym in Spanish), who had done some very simple animation projects. Naomi Iwadare was one of these, and was asked to assemble a group of fellow students to work on this project during the summer session: Ana Belinda Guerrero, Ana Cecilia Escamilla,Juan Erostique, Ingrid Hernandez, Alfredo Ponce and narrator Francisco Velasco. These students took over, polished the work, redid some parts, and created an overall narration to tie the filmed segments together. The video is a very brief overview of the work that students have done, with emphasis on innovative projects such as photography, creating subtitles, animations, maps up to and including the creation of the video itself.

In addition to creating this ambitious project, the same group of university students worked to create a short tutorial in Spanish about uploading files into Commons, titled Cómo subir archivos a Wikipedia Commons (How to upload files to Wikimedia Commons). Working with Commons has been an important aspect of Wiki Learning activities and will continue to be. This video was created as a tool not only to support growth of this kind of work with more professors on more campuses, but also to support the upcoming major Wiki event in September 2015, a Wiki expedition covering several boroughs of Mexico City. More about the making of this video can be seen in the Education bulletin article. It should be mentioned that this was a student-led project, with Daniel Ulacia and Leigh Thelmadatter acting mostly as advisers.

Reflections on the experience of creating these videos have been quite positive. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it provides experience working with a real-world or authentic project, one that will have an effect on the world outside the physical campus. Ana Ceclia and Ingrid noted that it offered an opportunity to “give back “ to Wikipedia, a source they have long relied upon for basic information. Luis Francisco and Lourdes noted that that it the idea of showing what Tec de Monterrey is doing through a project that has “global impact.” Luis Francisco also noted that the project was “more dynamic as we worked with the teacher… he taught us not only to edit and film but also other things… tips that he knows.” Lourdes added that in class “…the teacher teaches in an abstract, but here we put it into practice.”

The university students have all talked about how working together functioned well in part because they were all friends beforehand, but working together on such challenging projects made them like family. They tackled problems that arose, negotiating solutions both among themselves and with Daniel, working to integrate their ideas with those of the high school students that worked before. Ingrid stated that “By the end of the “Creando contenido” project, we were all really tired, but so proud of what we accomplished.”

Participants in the project after its premiere at Wikimania 2015. Photo by AlejandroLinaresGarcia, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The participants in these projects and their roles are:

  • Daniel Ulacia – director of the Creando contenido, experiencias de aprender con Wikipedia project
  • Naomi Iwadare– group leader for both projects
  • Lourdes Daniela Tapia Gallegos – filming, narration and editing
  • Jesús Alejandro Lee Lau – filming, narration and editing
  • Luis Francisco Peñaloza Ramírez –filming, narration and editing
  • Alfredo Ponce – animation, filming and editing
  • Ingrid Hernández Hernández –video and sound editing and narration
  • Ana Cecila Escamilla – animation, editing and filming
  • Ana Belina Guerrero –animation, editing and narration
  • Juan Erostique – animation, filming and editing
  • Francisco Velasco – narration

Leigh Thelmadatter
Wiki Learning
Tec de Monterrey

by Leigh Thelmadatter at July 22, 2015 09:31 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Looking back at the 2015 spring term

Helaine Blumenthal
Helaine Blumenthal

We introduced some significant changes to the Classroom Program in spring 2015. This term saw the largest number of classes yet, but most importantly, the term was a success in the quality of contributions and user experiences, too.

Our Classroom Program supports instructors who improve Wikipedia through student assignments. We offer students and instructors with training and materials necessary to contribute high quality work to Wikipedia.

In the spring, we supported 117 courses, more than ever before and up from 98 courses in the fall. While our course count is up, we supported about 500 fewer students as compared to our fall 2014 term. That’s because we made an effort to encourage smaller course sizes. That decision came from a review of our fall courses, where we saw that smaller class sizes led to better experiences and higher quality contributions.

That kind of learning, and others, were collected in our course onboarding checklist for the spring term. That checklist helps flag potential problems before instructors start planning a course that might run into trouble.

Along with that checklist, we also launched some technical tools that made it easier to support instructors and students alike. In particular, our course Dashboard and Assignment Design Wizard tools both launched during the spring 2015 term. The Dashboard gave instructors a simpler way to follow the work that their students do on Wikipedia. That includes seeing which students have finished the training and which have not. Those tools had a huge impact in one area tied to better contributions: we had a higher ratio of students complete the training for students this term (52%) over previous terms (spring 2014, 25% and fall 2014, 28%).

The percentage of students who have completed the online training.

The Assignment Design Wizard ensured that all supported classes followed the best practices for teaching with Wikipedia by integrating these practices into their lesson plan timelines. All of these tools and resources led to a term with no significant incidents within the Wikipedia community, and the creation of 409 new articles and contributions to almost 3,500 more.

Though our new tools made for a successful term, the ongoing commitment of our staff cannot be understated. After busily onboarding classes for the term, I went on maternity leave and successfully handed over the program to Ryan McGrady, now our Community Engagement Manager. The transition was a smooth one, and preliminary results from our instructor survey indicate that 91 percent of instructors found Ryan and I to be very helpful in running their Wikipedia assignments. Similarly, Ian and Adam, our Wikipedia Content Experts, worked carefully to provide timely and meaningful feedback to all of their students.

This term showed us that we can maintain or excel in the quality of student work even when taking on more courses. They also show a promising result from a suite of tools that we’re constantly improving.

For the fall 2015 term, we are launching an entirely new course page system that will enable us to support more classes, and ensure that these classes contribute high quality work to Wikipedia!

Helaine Blumenthal
Classroom Program Manager


by Helaine Blumenthal at July 22, 2015 04:00 PM


Cochrane Collaboration and Wikipedia

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit organization which compiles the results of medical research and publishes summaries of the collected findings. Cochrane is widely trusted because they are able to take a long-term view to their reporting, which leads to their publications being conservative, broad, and acknowledging of all major perspectives. Additionally they do an excellent job of continually updating their reports and noting how new reports differ from previous ones.

I started examining Cochrane findings in spring 2012 when I started working at Consumer Reports. This was through the Choosing Wisely campaign, which backs more of its health recommendations to publications in the Cochrane Library than to any other single publishing imprint. In spring 2013 Jake Orlowitz (user:Ocaasi on Wikipedia) assisted Cochrane in providing Wikipedia contributors with no cost access to Cochrane journals. This program resulted in many Wikipedians becoming more aware of Cochrane and more broadly, the idea of systematic reviews in academic literature. Understanding what a review is also suggests what primary research is, and although following the granting of no cost access the number of citations to Cochrane in Wikipedia has risen, it is my opinion that the greater impact to this point has been increased discussion in many Wikipedia communities about the differences between higher and lower quality sources of information. Wikipedia community guidelines suggest that review articles are superior to primary research, and that there are considerations which one can make to further judge quality of publications. The actual number of Wikipedians who have accepted Cochrane access is probably less than 200, and the number among those who have used the access once is probably not more than half that, and the number who have used their Cochrane access a lot must not be more than 20-30. Considering the impact and volunteer time investment in this I think the investment by Cochrane in this can only be called successful and worthwhile.

In December 2013 Cochrane called for applications to hire a Wikipedian-in-residence. In May 2014 they hired Sydney Poore (user:FloNight) for this position. She has had a few roles, including explaining Wikipedia to Cochrane, explaining Cochrane to the Wikipedia community, assisting with the Cochrane Library subscriptions, executing plans to increase the use of Cochrane information in developing Wikipedia. Sydney has always been so kind to me. I met her first in person on my first day in New York City, which was also the day that I first met Richard (user:Pharos).

At Wikimania 2015 in Mexico I had a chat with Sydney and Nancy Owens from Cochrane. Nancy is an executive at Cochrane and has been there since about 2000. She is a champion of Cochrane’s Collaboration with Wikipedia, and we three all exchanged ideas. I told them that at Consumer Reports I am doing outreach to medical schools, and if Cochrane had any contacts at any medical school local to me then I had time to assist students and instructors in participating in the Wikipedia Education Program. It would make me happy to partner with anyone near to me who was interested in Cochrane and interested in students contributing more to Wikimedia projects.

We lightly discussed a controversy which is close to me – open access of Cochrane journals. I only said that I did not want to talk about this issue, and they told me that they both are encouraging other people to discuss the issue. I am not sure what parts of the controversy are published, but I think in social circles which care it is no secret that there is tension in the Cochrane community about open access. The situation is that Cochrane is unusual among academic publishers for the size and devotion of its community of contributors, and their strong feeling for universal multilingual access to the health information which Cochrane provides. In 2003 Cochrane partnered with Wiley for publishing. Wiley is an American published based in New Jersey. It has revenue of USD 2 billion a year and is for profit. The tension is that among open access advocates, Wiley commits the same acts of wickedness as other open access publishers, including capturing the results of taxpayer funded research, denying access to information which all humans have a right to access, protecting an outdated exploitative business model to sustain profits at the expense of the vulnerable, and in general seeking out the most evil thing to do whenever faced with a set of options. Because of Cochrane’s devoted community and a general sense that Cochrane’s model is a pinnacle of scientific culture, a model for fair collaboration, and a benefit to every sector of society internationally, there is more conflict among its community because of the open access movement with the affiliation with Wiley. Cochrane began affiliating with Wiley to secure funding, and some question whether the cost is worthwhile considering the drawbacks. Some would want Cochrane to be published on an open access model. If this happened, Wiley would lose a significant revenue stream and be under increased pressure to give up even more of their profitable journals. There is further tension that some at Cochrane are influenced by anti-open-access lobbyists paid by Wiley and like publishers, who counter the poorly funded open access activist community with well-funded anti-propaganda. Some of that propaganda includes teaching new definitions of open access which were never part of the open access movement. The open access movement was defined by the three Bs – the Budapest Initiative, the Bethesda Statement, and the Berlin Declaration. All of these agree that for a work to be open access then anyone must be able to “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship”. The propaganda funded by big publishers including Wiley seeks to change the definition of open access to mean “available to read in limited circumstances without paying a fee”. I am willing to make all kinds of compromises to work with Cochrane but ultimately – the clock is ticking for them and someday there will be no path forward for their publications except true open access. It is not my concern when that day will be, and for my own part, I feel that increasing distribution of Cochrane’s content and the increased success of the organization only hastens everyone’s realization that the information they publish must be available in an open access model.

by bluerasberry at July 22, 2015 02:41 PM

July 21, 2015

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikidata, coming soon to a menu near you

Wikidata tastydata.svg
The logotype for the Wikidata Menu Challenge. Logo by Offnfopt, freely licensed under CC0 1.0

Knowing what you put into your mouth is something a lot of people are interested in, especially if you are a vegan, have a food allergy, avoid some ingredients for religious reasons, or if you are just a bit picky. However, when traveling it is often tricky to know what you are ordering.

The statistic before, during and after the Menu Challenge. Graph by John Andersson (WMSE), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

At Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), we like food, traveling, and most certainly like open data, so we started contemplating what we could do to make life a bit easier for the frequent flyer. What we ended up with was “Restaurants and Wikidata 2015,” where we hoped to show what open data can bring to all kinds of different sectors. We were able to make it all happen thanks to Vinnova‘s investment in the Nordic Open Data Week.

A couple of months ago we initiated a cooperation with the food fair Smaka på Stockholm (“Taste of Stockholm”) and from them we received 30 menus from participating restaurants in advance. From these menus we identified roughly 300 different food related terms and during three weeks in May we hosted the Wikidata Menu Challenge where volunteers from all over the world were invited to translate ingredients, cooking methods and dishes and pair them with appropriate images and sound recordings of native speakers pronouncing the words.

Our awesome marquee at Smaka på Stockholm. Photo by Jan Ainali, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

All this was done in the open and was accessible from the start through Wikidata.org. Wikidata is a collection of structured data that can be edited by computers and people alike. The knowledgebase is easy for computers to understand and therefore the information can easily be included in various products. A main focus is of course Wikipedia, but the possibilities are unlimited, which was what we wanted to show with this project. All these translations and all the media were then automatically pulled from Wikidata and repackaged into nice multilingual menus.

Overall 183 people edited the 300 items on Wikidata and added a whooping 4,700 translations, as well as 102 images and 1,140 recordings of pronunciations. In total there were 9,057 edits, which can be compared with 493 edits the month before. A full 1 832 120 bytes were added during the Challenge. Since the items had also been worked on prior to the Challenge a total of 19,274 translations in 349 languages existed by the time we started showing the menus at the food fair. Additionally 284 of the 300 items had images and almost all had audio recordings in at least one language.

The QR codes at the restaurants are placed. Photo by Arild Vågen, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

In parallel with the challenge we also worked on developing the design of the menus, based on the initial design by User:Denny, and make it possible to display both images and sound on them. Thanks to great volunteer support we could work on the layout and customize the menus. Thursday, June 4, we opened up our tent at Smaka på Stockholm. We would stand there for four days and had loaded up with lots of brochures, posters, pens, stickers and more. On the tents of participating restaurants we had set up QR codes that linked to their translated menus.

Samsung had been kind enough to lend us a bunch of Tab 4 tablets on which we could demonstrate the menus to visitors and allow them to try them out for themselves. During the four days, thousands of people passed by our tent. That someone would stand at the food fair and talk about Wikipedia and Wikidata was not what the visitors expected and their surprise made a lot of people stop and ask us what was going on. The fact that we were not expected was in itself an ice breaker. Thanks to this we could also reach groups that we usually don’t reach. Overall we had more than 220 conversations about open data and the Wikimedia projects, and how to contribute to these. A result we are very pleased with! The reception was very good and there were lots of questions. People were impressed with the menus and there were a few that knew restaurant owners that they thought would love to implement this. Others noticed that some words were not translated in thier language and wondered how they could help to complete them. Some people stopped and talked with us for close to half an hour. The chapter got a handful of new members and we even had a couple of developers who came past and wanted to start volunteering on similar projects. As all the material is open data, free-content or free software the menus can now be used by any other restaurant owners who want to make their menus more easily understandable for tourists and others.

Take a look and see if they would be a good addition to your business! With the help of open data we can make traveling even more easy and enjoyable together.

John Andersson
Project Manager
Wikimedia Sverige

by John Andersson at July 21, 2015 09:48 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Student editors contributed 2.5 million words to Wikipedia this term


Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program is focused on improving Wikipedia by having university students in the United States and Canada write high-quality articles that fill content gaps as part of their coursework.

Student work this term had more readers (101 million) than the population of Germany (82 million).
Student work this term had more readers (101 million) than the population of Germany (82 million).

In Spring 2015, we saw 2,326 student editors contribute roughly 2.5 million words to 3,429 articles, which were read by 101 million readers — that’s more than the population of Germany!

Here’s a quick corral of just some of those articles:

In previous terms, we learned that smaller classroom sizes were more likely to contribute higher quality content to Wikipedia, and to have more positive experiences. Based on that learning, we highly encouraged smaller classroom sizes in spring 2015. We saw more classes, but fewer student editors as a result. We may have seen a decline in quantity, but we’re proud to say we saw no major incidents in the spring — which tells us that student editors were better prepared to make better contributions. The quality of student editing is evident in the cases above. But here are a few more:

Adding 2.5 million words to Wikipedia makes an enormous impact. That’s equivalent to six days of silent reading, 29 straight days of typing, or 4.3 copies of War and Peace!

We’re excited to see our new tools have helped instructors create courses that engaged their students as they created or expanded high-quality articles on Wikipedia. We thank them for their contributions, and we’ll continue to improve these tools and refine our learnings as we enter the fall 2015 term.


Map of Germany:
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany (relief)” by TUBSOwn workThis vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Germany2 location map.svg (by NordNordWest).This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Relief Map of Germany.png (by Виктор В). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

by Eryk Salvaggio at July 21, 2015 07:00 PM

Sue Gardner, Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer elected to Wiki Education Foundation board

The Wiki Education Foundation board has elected two new board members, Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer and Sue Gardner.

Sue Gardner
Sue Gardner

Sue Gardner was the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) from 2007 to 2014 – a period of tremendous growth for Wikipedia’s readership and articles. The WMF was the fastest-growing non-profit in the United States by revenue growth and received Charity Navigator’s highest rating for governance and fiscal management. Gardner also oversaw the creation of the Public Policy Initiative, which later emerged as the Wikipedia Education Program and Wiki Education Foundation.

Dr. Bartsch-Zimmer is the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago, where she was tenured at age 29. She is currently the Inaugural Director of the University’s Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, which examines the historical, social, and intellectual circumstances that give rise to different kinds of knowledge across different cultures and in different eras.

“Dr. Bartsch-Zimmer’s expertise in the intellectual history of the west and its foundation in classical antiquity will bring deep theoretical insight to our board’s work,” said Dr. Diana Strassmann, Carolyn and Fred McManis Distinguished Professor in the Practice at Rice University and chair of the board of the Wiki Education Foundation. “At the same time, Sue Gardner’s unparalleled understanding of Wikipedia, and her incredible record of accomplishments at the Wikimedia Foundation, will help the Wiki Education Foundation build even stronger bridges between Wikipedia and academia.”

For more information, see our press release.

by Eryk Salvaggio at July 21, 2015 03:20 PM


Visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica

On Monday 20 July I went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Leading up to this visit I became aware of my ignorance as to the importance of this place. I knew it was important, but I failed to recognize that it was considered to be the holiest place in the Catholic tradition in the New World. Once this was told to me I was not surprised, but still, my ignorance about this has made me more aware of how ignorant I am about history and culture so close to my home. Last December in New York City I even attended a December holiday to respect Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I could tell that the event meant a lot to the many people who were there, but still I was not recognizing the importance.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is an appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico which happened over some days in 1531. The relevance is that today Mexico and all countries south in the New World are Catholic for many reasons, but perhaps mostly because of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here are my initial thoughts upon visiting:

  • Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. The Aztec Nation in Mexico, including the greatest military in the New World, was destroyed not later than 1520 by not more than a few hundred Spanish and the diseases they spread. Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531. My insight was that after tens of thousands of years of separate development one culture erased another within 40 years of meeting. I know that Our Lady of Guadalupe was not immediately accepted or well known but the speed of Catholicism overtaking all other culture with plans to erase it still shock me.
  • The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe says that a certain cloth, the tilma of Juan Diego, has a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary on it. In the Old World so far as I know all miraculous relics are lost, discounted, or “worthy of belief” if one chooses to believe in them but not required for belief if one does not. The tilma of Juan Diego is there for anyone to see at the basilica and people for hundreds of years have attributed many miraculous properties to it. The tilma has hardly been examined scientifically, but when it eventually is, I have doubts that science will find the miracles inside it. Christianity has a way of encouraging its adherents to put their faith in places which conflict with science and to create disputes which can be logically and scientifically settled by science’s own rules. Many people believe that this cloth has passed and will continue to pass scientific scrutiny. I think that changing times will change that belief.
  • Faith the in church is being tied here to advocacy for changing cultural positions. Inside the basilica there were scientific models of fetuses to teach the idea that abortion and birth control are murder. There was also anti-gay propaganda, literature saying that sex should not happen out of marriage or with birth control, and other ideas which are out of touch with the values of contemporary youth. There are many ways to communicate culture to youth but a method which can never work is to avoid the questions that youth have and to attempt to suppress their values by trying to teach them to only entertain some thoughts and not have questions about other ideas. There is no moderation in this propaganda, no acknowledgement of the existence of other views, and really no way to participate in society while keeping true to these kinds of teachings. Mexico City is a sex positive environment – seemingly everywhere everyone is in love. I get the idea that if someone is affluent enough to have any leisure time here, even at the lower end of the free social classes, then they enjoy their life a lot. The parks and cafes are filled with people in love and all kinds of straight and gay people are very open with affection here.
  • It is a much more minor issue – but the entire Basilica seems cheap to me. I had the same feeling in visiting the Louvre, and obviously both this basilica and the Louvre are two of the most luxurious and opulent places on earth. Still, hand-made luxuries and arts from generations ago have imperfections which would never be permitted in similar products made in the digital age. My eyes expect to see more perfection than human hands can produce. I was imagining that soon any object or detail in the basilica could be reproduced with 3D printing. I was also imagining that the greatest luxury of the basilica was not the place, even though it was beautiful. The human time necessary for the upkeep of it all and especially the investment of interest in the culture is probably proving to be the more rare complement to the place than all of the luxury objects the place contains. As the place stands – it seems hardly curated to me. No one has invested the time to have even Spanish language guides to all of the beautiful works the place contains, much less English ones to propagate the appreciation of this culture. I am again struck that a masterpiece produced by someone who devoted their lifetime to creating art may not also get any kind of documentation of its significance or basic information about its creation.

by bluerasberry at July 21, 2015 01:55 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - what William O. Douglas Award?

#Wikipedia has an article about the William O. Douglas Award and, it is totally disappointing. When you Google for it, you find another William O. Douglas Award, and yet another William O. Douglas Award and maybe yet another...

The last one was awarded to Hillary Clinton in 2014, a fact that until now escaped the attention at both Wikipedia and Wikidata. There is no problem in having items for any and all awards. There is a minor problem when an article is incomplete in the way the Wikipedia article is.

Then again, it is probably an article nobody sees or reads. Arguably, such statements of facts (the award exists and is conferred by) probably have an easier life at Wikidata.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 21, 2015 08:33 AM

July 20, 2015

Wiki Education Foundation

The Roundup: Environmental history

Students from Dr. Daniel Lewis’ Research Methodologies for Environmental History course at Claremont Graduate University have expanded or created articles about environmental history.

The German Green Belt article details the history of an 870-mile nature preserve that rose up in the space where former guard towers and fences once separated East from West Germany. This narrow inlet became home to more than 600 rare and endangered species of birds, mammals, plants, and insects. Students expanded the article on this fascinating intersection of political and natural history from three short, unsourced paragraphs to nine vibrant sections built from 18 unique sources. They also added four photographs.

Other students in the class created an article on an artifact, the Grete Herball, the first illustrated encyclopedia of medicinal herbs in English. That article draws from 28 sources and makes use of the Claremont College library’s special holdings to share five woodblock images found within the library’s original copy of this unique and historic encyclopedia.

Finally, students created an article on 2003’s “Quantification Settlement Agreement,” a controversial water-use agreement in California. With the state’s drought, interest in water topics is high. This article contributes to understanding the state of water use in California, with a detailed background and outline of controversies drawing from 22 sources.

Thanks to Dr. Lewis and his students for some fascinating contributions to Wikipedia’s coverage of environmental history.


Image: “The Grete Herball, open demonstrating entries and woodcut images, 1526” by Anonymous(Life time: Printer died in 1530s) – Original publication: Treveris, Peter. Grete Herball. London:1526. Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library, Claremont, California.Immediate source: Treveris, Peter. Grete Herball. London:1526. Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library, Claremont, California. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

by Eryk Salvaggio at July 20, 2015 03:30 PM

Wikimedia UK

Is Wikipedia Relevant to University Web Managers?

This guest post is by Brian Kelly and was originally published here. Re-used with kind permission.

Areas Apparently Not Being Addressed By Web Managers

Recently in a post entitled “Pondering the Online Legacy of my Work” I described how two recent Facebook messages highlighted areas which appear not to be being addressed widely across the web management community. The post looked at how web content may be deleted after content creators leave the institution, meaning that the content creators, who are likely to care about the resource, are unable to exploit the resources unless they have migrated the resources before leaving.

This post was inspired by a Facebook update from Rod Ward who alerted my to a workshop on use of Wikipedia which he helped facilitate at the University of Exeter.

Wikimedia Workshop for University Web and Communication Staff

Rod’s Facebook post provided a link to the entry on the Wikimedia UK Web site about the workshop which was held at Exeter University  on 15 July. As shown in the screenshot the event was aimed at web and communication staff from universities in the south west of England.

I’ve a long-standing interest in Wikipedia, and last year published posts on “Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match?“, “#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research“, “Top Wikipedia Tips for Librarians: Why You Should Contribute and How You Can Support Your Users” and “Supporting Use of Wikipedia in the UK Higher Education and Library Sectors“.

As suggested by the title of these posts my main target audience for the posts were librarians and researchers. Members of university web and marketing teams would not be likely, I felt, to have responsibilities for managing Wikipedia articles. However from seeing the details of the recent workshop it seems that I was mistaken, with several of the participants working for university marketing teams.

But should people who work for marketing teams update Wikipedia articles about their institutions? In a post on “Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP” I flagged the dangers of this:

“[In a talk to librarians] I pointed out the Wikipedia neutral point of view (NPOV) principle which means “representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic“.

One way of minimising risks of sub-conscious biases in articles is to ensure that content is provided by those who do not have direct involvement with the subject area of an article. For an article about an organisation it would therefore be appropriate for an article about CILIP should be updated by editors who are not employed by the organisation.

Rod Ward, one of the facilitators at the recent workshop, proposed one mechanism for addressing this tension: he asked participants at the workshop to include the text on their Wikipedia user profile page:

I am username. I work for organisation as job title. Part of my role is to improve the Wikipedia articles about academics of my employer. I have attended a workshop where policies about the Neutral point of view, Biographies of Living People, Conflict of Interest and Paid Editing were discussed. I am aware of potential conflicts in this area. If you see any issues with my editing please contact me via my talk page.

This seems to me to be a sensible approach to addressing the NPOV principle: there may be factual aspects of Wikipedia articles which would be improved in a timely fashion if updated by staff working for the institution. For example, looking at the updates made two days ago to the University of Exeter article we can see that the updates are factual updates to the Medical School. These updates were made by user SallUEMS whose user profile states that the user “work[s] for the University of Exeter as a Web Marketing officer“.

Developing an Ethical Approach to Managing Wikipedia Content

I’d be interested to hear if other institutions are taking a pro-active approach in managing Wikipedia articles about their institutions, such as those which featured in the recent workshop: the List of University of Exeter people and the List of University of Bristol people as well as the collections of articles on Academics of Bath Spa UniversityAcademics of the University of BathAcademics of the University of BristolAcademics of the University of ExeterAcademics of the University of PlymouthAcademics of the University of the West of EnglandPeople associated with Cardiff University, People associated with Falmouth University and People associated with the University of St Mark & St John.

There will be a need to ensure that updates to Wikipedia articles are made in an ethical fashion, to avoid updates being reverted and to avoid the risks which politicians, political researchers and PR staff in Westminster have experienced as described in an article on “15 Embarrassing Edits Made To Politicians’ Wikipedia Pages By People In Parliament“.

In September I will give a talk on “Developing an Ethical Approach to Using Wikipedia as the Front Matter to all Research” at the Wikipedia Science 2015 conference. I’d be interested in hearing if any institutions have developed guidelines on updating Wikipedia articles related to activities carried out in the institution. It does seem to me that marketing staff would benefit from having policies and guidelines which they can use. There may be temptations (and pressures from senior managers) to remove embarrassing content – and yes, there are negative comments about vice-chancellors which have been published in national newspapers which could be cited!

The higher education sector should avoid the risks of seeing headlines such as “Wikipedia Pages of Star Clients Altered by P.R. Firm” in which a founder of the PR company Sunshine “acknowledged that several staff members had violated the terms of use by failing to disclose their association with the firm. Mr. Sunshine said a key employee in his web operation was not aware of Wikipedia’s new terms“. Interestingly, after being caught for “play[ing] loose with Wikipedia’s standards and violat[ing] the site’s updated terms of use agreement, by employing paid editors who fail to disclose their conflict of interest on the website” the PR company now requires “all employees who edit on Wikipedia have now disclosed their affiliation with Sunshine”.

This approach is aligned with the suggestions made at the recent Wikipedia workshop at the University of Exeter: if you do update articles in which there may be a conflict of interest ensure that you are open about possible conflicts of interest and invite feedback from those with concerns.

However there is a need to go beyond this simple approach. And I wonder if the higher education sector could learn from the approaches taken in the PR sector. In a post on Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories I highlighted challenges for universities which may be tempted to seek to exploit the SEO benefits which links from Wikipedia to institutional web pages may provide. In the blog post I cited an article from the PR community who had recognised the dangers that PR companies can be easily tempted to provide links to clients’ web sites for similar reasons. In response to concerns raised by the Wikipedia community Top PR Firms Promise[d] They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article, which is hosted on Wikipedia, describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which was published in 10 June 2014:

  • On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors. Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices. We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:
  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
    To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.
    We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.
  • A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

Might universities find it useful to embrace similar principles?

In order to help identify early institutional adopters of guidelines and policies for updating Wikipedia content where there may be a conflict of interest you are invited to complete the following surveys. The first survey covers policies/guidelines on updating Wikipedia content and the second asks about responsibilities for updating Wikipedia articles.

by Stevie Benton at July 20, 2015 02:42 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Wiki Education Foundation 2015–16 Annual Plan Released

Frank Schulenburg
Frank Schulenburg

Earlier today, we uploaded our annual plan for fiscal year 2015–16 to our website. The plan, and budget, were approved at the June 23 Board of Trustees meeting. Posting our plan is part of our commitment to providing transparent information about our organization’s goals and spending.

The document is a report of the Wiki Education Foundation’s work in its first year, and an outlook of what we’ll set out to achieve during the next fiscal year (July 1 through June 30).

We have three big targets we’re announcing for 2015–16:

  • Scaling the impact of our Classroom Program: We will continue our work on creating a technical support structure for our flagship Classroom Program. Through projects like creating dynamic online trainings, developing a proactive student help tool, and producing a reactive response system for instructors, we will be able to replace bottlenecks that require staff time with a technical solution.
  • Improving content quality while providing students with an enhanced learning experience: In January 2016, we plan to launch the “Wikipedia Year of Science.” It will mark the first time that higher education institutions throughout the United States and Canada unite in a large scale campaign to improve content quality in underdeveloped areas of Wikipedia, while engaging thousands of students in science communication to a real audience.
  • Bringing the academic and the Wikipedia community closer together: We will explore new ways of bridging the gap between universities and Wikipedia. We will empower academics to conduct qualitative and quantitative research around our programs, and explore how resources in the academy can help existing Wikipedia editors with their work (e.g. through the Visiting Scholars program).

In addition to our monthly reports, where progress on these goals will be regularly reported, we’ll be blogging about our efforts throughout the year. It has been inspiring to see how far our organization has come in its first year, but I am even more excited by the possibilities of our next one.

Frank Schulenburg
Executive Director

by Frank Schulenburg at July 20, 2015 08:00 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Inge Genefke, and #torture

Torture is a crime where the victim is expandable, without any rights, someone who is not given much consideration. When Amnesty International asked for physicians to assist those who had been tortured, the Danish Inge Genefke responded to this request. She started locally and then founded the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

An award was named in her honour, the Inge Genefke Award and expanding the information on all these subjects, including the award winners is easy enough.

When you care about a given subject, like torture, and you want to expose the forces of good or evil, you can at Wikidata by adding information. It is all part of sharing in the sum of all available knowledge. It is all part of caring about what information is available in our world.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 20, 2015 06:08 AM

Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies

Outernet edit-a-thon

The Wired CD, one of the "bins" I uploaded to Outernet this weekend.

The Wired CD, one of the “bins” I uploaded to Outernet this weekend.

I was recently introduced to Thane Richard, founder of Outernet, and was honored to help him think through the design of Outernet’s first edit-a-thon, held this weekend. Much like our Wikipedia Barn Raising (a year ago to the day!), Thane planned an in-person event, but also invited participation from all over the world.

Amusingly, the Wikipedia Twitter feed referred to it as a chance to “build Wikipedia” — but this was actually a different kind of edit-a-thon, designed to build Outernet, an entirely separate project to help bridge the Digital Divide. Outernet puts old satellites to use, broadcasting “bins” of data to (as of now!) the entire world — even places where the Internet doesn’t reach. It’s one-way communication — you can’t upload, or access the entire Internet through it — but once you have their $150 “Lantern,” you can receive the broadcasts for free, and share them for free on a local network.

This weekend’s event was an opportunity to learn Outernet’s procedures for creating and uploading “bins” — basically, a folder of files in a certain theme, unencumbered by restrictive copyright — for future broadcast via Outernet.

On the surface, it seemed like a cool opportunity to package up Wikipedia articles. I started creating PDFs of the articles about the watersheds of Portland, Oregon (most of which are exceptionally high quality, thanks mostly to the efforts of Wikipedia user Finetooth); however, for reasons I will explore in a followup blog post, I had some issues with providing attribution soon realized that there was no convenient way to upload these in compliance with Wikipedia’s attribution requirements (which means naming all the people who have contributed to the articles). So instead, I uploaded a small bin of articles about Open Educational Resources, and another with the music from Wired Magazine’s 2004 CD “Rip. Sample. Mash. Share.”

I uploaded them just after the end of the edit-a-thon, so I haven’t yet gotten any feedback. I hope these are useful — but it’s possible they won’t be, since in an effort to move forward and actually upload something, I mostly disregarded the guidelines about what kind of content was most desired. But even if this was just a “practice run,” I’m happy to have gotten a feel for how they Outernet is approaching their excellent work, and learn how I can contribute. I could tell from their Etherpad page that a number of people were working at it too; it was fun to work with an ad-hoc global team. I look forward to contributing more substantially to Outernet’s future efforts!


by Pete Forsyth at July 20, 2015 05:25 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #30, 2015 (July 20, 2015)

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čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎Ripoarisch • ‎português • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎中文

July 20, 2015 12:00 AM

July 19, 2015

Brion Vibber

Wikimedia video community editing tools & infrastructure status

There were a fair number of folks interested in video chatting at Wikimania! A few quick updates:

An experimental ‘Schnittserver’ (‘Clip server’) project has been in the works for a while with some funding from ze Germans; currently sitting at http://wikimedia.meltvideo.com/ (uses OAuth, has a temporary SSL cert, UI is very primitive!) It is currently usable already for converting MP4 etc source footage to WebM!

The Schnittserver can also do server-side rendering of projects using the ‘melt’ format such as those created with Kdenlive and Shotcut — this allows uploading your original footage (usually in some sort of MP4/H.264 flavor) and sharing the editing project via WebM proxy clips, without generational loss on the final rendering.

Once rendered, your final WebM output can be published up to Commons.

I would love to see some more support for this project, including adding a better web front-end for managing projects/clips and even editing…

Mozilla has an in-browser media editor thing called Popcorn.js; they’re unfortunately reducing investment in the project, but there’s some talk among people working on it and on our end that Wikimedia might be interested in helping adapt it to work with the Schnittserver or some future replacement for it.

Unfortunately I missed the session with the person working on Popcorn.js, will have to catch up later on it!

I’m very close to what I consider a 1.0 release of ogv.js, my JavaScript shim to play Ogg (and experimentally WebM) video and audio in Safari and MS IE/Edge without plugins.

Recently fixed some major sound sync bugs on slower devices, and am finishing up controls which will be used in the mobile view (when not using the full TimedMediaHandler / MwEmbedPlayer interface which we still have on the desktop).

Demo of playback at https://brionv.com/misc/ogv.js/demo2/

A slightly older version of ogv.js is also running on https://ogvjs-testing.wmflabs.org/ with integration into TimedMediaHandler; I’ll update those patches with my 1.0 release next week or so.

Infrastructure issues:

I had a talk with Faidon about video requirements on the low-level infrastructure layer; there are some things we need to work on before we really push video:

– seeking/streaming a file with Range subsets causes requests to bypass the Varnish cache layer, potentially causing huge performance problems if there’s a usage spike!

– very large files can’t be sharded cleanly over multiple servers, which makes for further performance bottlenecks on popular files again

– VERY large files (>4G or so) can’t be stored at all; which is a problem for high-quality uploads of things like long Wikimania talks!

For derivative transcodes, we can bypass some of these problems by chunking the output into multiple files of limited length and rigging up ‘gapless playback’, as can be done for HLS or MPEG-DASH-style live streaming. I’m pretty sure I can work out how to do this in the ogv.js player (for Safari and IE) as well as in the native <video> element playback for Chrome and Firefox via Media Source Extensions. Assuming it works with the standard DASH profile for WebM, this is something we can easily make work on Android as well using Google’s ExoPlayer.

DASH playback will also make it easier to use adaptive source switching to handle limited bandwidth or CPU resources.

However we still need to be able to deal with source files which may be potentially quite large…

List and phab projects!

As a reminder there’s a wikivideo-l list: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikivideo-l

and a Wikimedia-Video project tag in phabricator: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/tag/wikimedia-video/

Folks who are interested in pushing further work on video, please feel free to join up. There’s a lot of potential awesomeness!

by brion at July 19, 2015 10:58 PM

July 18, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

“Becoming involved in making the changes you want to see”: Leigh Thelmadatter

Leigh Thelmadatter photographed for the 2012 Wikimedia Foundation fundraising campaign. Photo by Karen Sayre for the Wikimedia Foundation, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

“I think that Wikimedia and similar movements offer at least the idea that we can make more information available more easily to more people,” says Leigh Thelmadatter. For an education professional like her, these are certainly not words without meaning.

“In Mexico, the issue isn’t really so much money, as the country is not all that poor. The issue is promoting the value of becoming actively involved in making the changes you want to see happen,” Leigh continues. “It’s one thing to say that the world should see Mexico as more than just beaches and the Mexico-US border, but quite another to work to make that information available yourself rather than thinking that ‘authorities’ should do this.”

A Wikipedia contributor since 2007, Leigh is a Regional Ambassador for the Wikipedia Education Program in Mexico and an English as a Foreign Language professor at the Tec de Monterrey, one of the biggest multi-campus universities in Latin America. She is also a contributor to this blog and a coordinator at Tec de Monterrey Wiki Learning, an officially recognized Wikimedia user group operating at the university.

Picture of a street car selling bolillos in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, used in the article about Mexican breads written by Leigh. Taken by Leigh’s husband Alejandro Linares García, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Small ceramic figures for sale at the Tianguis de Domingo de Ramos in Uruapan, Mexico. Photo by Alejandro Linares García, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Leigh’s beginnings with Wikipedia are directly related to her life of a self-professed vagabond. Born in New York, she has also lived in New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Arizona, abroad in Germany, and finally moved to Mexico in 2003. “After a few years here in Central Mexico, I found I needed to improve my Spanish and get a better understanding of what was around me,” she recalls. “I put these two things together and started reading in Spanish about the towns I experienced—as the best and often only information is available in this language—and writing Wikipedia articles in English.” Thinking back to her first days as a Wikipedian, she says, humbly, “In 2007, the coverage of Mexico on the English Wikipedia was atrocious. Today, I like to think it is a bit less so.”

Once Leigh got started, she continued to edit both from personal and professional motivations. “Personally, I like the idea that I can do something not too many people can do: write about Mexico in English and about topics that most [people from outside of the country] don’t think about exploring. I know these articles are read, and hopefully they help people get a fuller understanding of Mexico and its culture.”

As for the professional level, Leigh says that working with Wikipedia gives her a kind of niche. “Tec de Monterrey has 32 campuses around the country, and I am known as ‘the Wikipedia teacher’ at least at the Mexico City area campuses and at the main campus in Monterrey. Collaboration with the Tec allows me to experiment with activities I could not do on my own, for example animation and video, and to work with entities such as the Festival Internacional Cervantino and the Tec’s library at the Mexico City campus where we organized a mega-edit-a-thon last March.”

During her almost 8 years as a Wikipedian, Leigh has written over 750 articles on the English Wikipedia, mostly about topics in Mexico. She even admits to having persuaded her husband, Alejandro, to contribute to Wikipedia, too; together they travel the country in search of subjects to cover on Wikipedia. “Most of our weekend and vacation trips are now wiki-expeditions. Alejandro takes pictures and I take notes and write articles later. Our last expedition was to Uruapan, Michoacán, to see the city and its annual Domingo de Ramos handicraft fair.”

Leigh’s work on Wikipedia is far from finished. “I’m generally not keen on talking about future plans in detail; I guess I’m just a little superstitious. I will say, however, that there is some promise in our current video projects, and in collaborations with local governments for students and any Wikimedians who want to work with us. In September, we will organize a wiki-expedition for about 70 participants, likely covering the Mexico City boroughs of Xochimilco and Tlalpan.” She also hopes to increase online support from the Spanish Wikipedia community, calling her fellow Wikimedians to action, particularly for those who’d like to mentor students during their work on Wikipedia. “A few have already started doing this, and I’m really thankful to Jarould in particular for his support.”

Speaking about the future of the Wikimedia movement, Leigh says: “I believe that much of Wikimedia’s future, especially the writing and maintenance of Wikipedia articles, will lie with the Wikipedia Education Program and GLAM collaborations. There is simply no way to get collaboration with the people who have the kinds of knowledge and skills that we need without these programs. We will need to find a way to provide credit, similar to that of having research published, and maybe for specialized articles, we’ll need to have some protection for a particular version—similar to what James Heilman did with the dengue fever article that was published in the Open Medicine journal in October 2014.”

Leigh’s reports on the work of the Tec de Monterrey Wiki Learning can be read on this blog.

Leigh’s husband Alejandro’s story was part of the 2012 Wikimedia Foundraising campaign.

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Tomasz Kozlowski at July 18, 2015 02:16 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - collaborating on data #sources II

#Freebase had a vested interest in the MacRobert Award. Its recent laureate is Artemis Intelligent Power,  As Wikidata continues to update its information, Freebase will become increasingly incomplete and as a consequence of less relevance to the people who use its data at :BaseKB.

When you do not know about the MacRobert Award, read about it. When this is the first time you hear about Artemis Intelligent Power, read the BBC article about it.. News like this gives us hope for our future.

We can support :BaseKB with our data, we can support any other source who is interested in what Wikidata has to say. It all starts with acknowledging them as sources and it all starts that quality has everything to do with it.

It is all in being open to quality. It is all to being open to reevaluating quality.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 18, 2015 02:15 PM

#Wikidata - collaborating on data #sources

#Freebase's data found a home at :BaseKB and that is a great opener to an alternate approach to the Freebase data for Wikidata. This proposal has many parts that makes for great cooperation between multiple sources.
  • items always have a link to its source(s)
  • statements always state its source
  • an indicator for the status of a statement is added
Linking to external sources is something Wikidata does a lot. It allows us to have a look at the source itself. When it is the origin of the data, it follows that the statements from that origin have to be exactly the same. When they are not, it should be indicated with a status.

When a statement differs from a source, we have identified something that needs work. In essence. such statuses have a function in a workflow as well. Because this is where intervention makes a difference. 
  • we set the flag for people to investigate the difference
  • we can flag the source itself that we found an issue 
  • we can find alternate sources to find what is likely correct
  • we can find corroboration in literature
  • we change the statement when needed and set a flag to indicate the status
In this way, we spend our human capital wisely. We do not blindly spend time on "approving" any and all statements. We do it only where we know some research is needed. 

As far as I am aware, you can not copyright facts. We compare our facts against facts known elsewhere. We include our missing data where we may and we always investigate differences. We signal the work we have done and, in this way we not only improve our quality, we also provide a path to the sources we work with for them to work on their quality.

In this way we spend the time and effort of our community wisely and, we optimise the amount of information available in Wikidata. In this way everyone is a winner.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 18, 2015 06:34 AM

July 17, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

Collective Impact for the Wikimedia Movement

Wikimedia Conference 2015 - May 15 and 16 - 24.jpg
The Collective Impact session proved popular with attendees. Photo by Jason Krüger (WMDE), freely licensed under CC BY 4.0.

The Wikimedia movement can certainly be credited with developing innovative online methods of collaboration that have had an enormous impact and revolutionized how knowledge is created, accessed and shared. Now, to leverage human and financial resources in the quest for free and open knowledge, volunteers and organizations of our movement are increasingly engaging in partnerships with external groups and entities.

We can’t expect these partners, from multiple public and private backgrounds, to share all of our values, goals and methods. But what does this mean for how we work together with them?

To find answers, it’s helpful to look at the evidence base that exists on impactful partnerships. This is gathered by thousands of organizations, consultants and social scientists, and summarized under our broad framework known as Collective Impact.

At the recent Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, an impulse presentation on the Collective Impact framework created a great deal of discussion and enthusiasm.

Collective Impact is not a method, model, set of recipe, or a toolkit. Instead, it is a theoretical framework that allows for evidence on what makes multi-stakeholder coalitions successful, in terms of achieving change, to be gathered and documented.

The overarching idea is that complex social issues, those central to Wikimedia’s mission of unlocking the sum of all human knowledge, will not be resolved by one-off approaches or single players. It will instead require sophisticated initiatives, engaging partners from the many stakeholders in the issue. At Wikimedia Deutschland (Germany), for example, we are working with a very diverse set of partners including our many volunteers to the federal education department, local and state government entities, foundations, large corporations, small IT start-ups, NGOs, universities, research institutes, and schools.

The Collective Impact evidence base, collected and shared by the consulting firm FSG since 2009, is organized by the five characteristics that partnerships with proven impact all seem to have in common: A common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

Wikimedia Conference, Berlin 2015 DSC 0833.jpg
Wikimedia Conference 2015 was held in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Habib M’henni, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0

Today, a growing body of Collective Impact learning resources and case studies is available on the Internet, so each of us can quickly become familiar with the approach. Together we can try to find, from the Wikimedia movement’s perspective, what we can learn and apply in regional and local partnerships. Which tools are most useful and helpful in building coalitions to promote open knowledge? What does the approach mean for those international collaborations many of us are interested in? What can Collective Impact teach us in terms of the meaningful engagement of volunteers and communities? What are some things we can contribute to the Collective Impact evidence base from a movement perspective?

Last but not least, what if we applied the Collective Impact approach to the whole movement? This question certainly provoked some interesting discussion at the Wikimedia Conference. We realized that the questions raised by the Chapters Dialogue were largely aligned with the five characteristics:

  • What do we as a movement want to achieve? Do we run a website, or foster free knowledge? Why are we doing the things we do, and what for?
  • How do we define impact when exploring new territory? And how do we measure success?
  • What is the role of the Wikimedia Foundation? And of the chapters?
  • How do we want to communicate with each other? How can we build the necessary empathy and learn from each other? How can we overcome the old narrative and perceptions?
  • Where does the money come from, and where should it go? Should money be the limiting factor when striving for Free Knowledge?
  • What movement framework is best suited to fulfill the Wikimedia mission?

The Collective Impact lens does indeed provide a framework for movement discussions. The movement’s impact and metrics are the most obvious hot issues that have been under discussion recently.

The last two Chapters Dialogue questions address money and governance, and are not as easily covered by the five Collective Impact characteristics. Rather, they are related to the Backbone and Mutually Reinforcing Activities characteristics. Here, Wikimedia organizations could enhance the Collective Impact knowledge base by adding the learnings of our global movement with democratic, participatory values and the reality of its power and funding structures.

So what’s next? For building local and regional partnerships with external entries, Wikimedia organizations could immediately start applying collective impact wisdom by determining what is the vision, values and strategies that your organization shares with its current and potential partners. Then, find out how your strengths and assets complement each other, and how these assets create something bigger than the sum of their parts.

Take time to develop, celebrate and strengthen partnerships before blindly diving into projects. Agree on the why, and then the how. Write it down. Develop a theory of change, together. Write it down… and once you start on joint initiatives, make sure the functions that form the collaboration’s backbone are appropriately funded and staffed.

Finally, communicate, not just within your initiatives, but with the movement as well. Let’s use existing movement channels, such as learning patterns, blogs, and metawiki, to start exchanging learnings, tools, and ideas. WMDE is looking forward to the journey!

For more on the Collective Impact framework, see Collective Impact Articles in the SSI Review and the Collective Impact Forum’s blog.

Nikki Zeuner
Wikimedia Deutschland

by Nikki Zeuner at July 17, 2015 11:34 PM

Not Confusing (Max Klein)

Wikipedia Indicator of Gender Inequality: Analysing Who We Write About

From my presentation at Wikimania 2015, this infographic is a quick overview of what to expect from WIGI. (Click image for big version, or here for SVG version).

WIGI Infographic

The full presentation (click to enter presentation).



Our IEG page, and on github.

by max at July 17, 2015 08:27 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Victory in Italy: court rules in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation

Daughter of Niobe
Daughter of Niobe statue in the Uffizi gallery. Photo by Petar Milošević, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Today, we are happy to announce that the court of Rome has ruled in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation. MOIGE (Movimento Italiano Genitori, which translates as the Italian Parents Movement) is a self-described Italian social promotion organization for the protection of children. The group filed a lawsuit in Rome against the Wikimedia Foundation in March of 2011, aiming to have statements concerning its views on sensitive or controversial social topics removed from its Italian Wikipedia page.

MOIGE charged defamation because they claimed to have removed the information from their website a few years prior and no longer wished to be associated with those views. They argued that MOIGE had the “right to be forgotten” and that the content should be deleted because it damaged their image, name, and reputation. MOIGE sought €200,000 plus legal fees, removal of allegedly defamatory content, and publication of the sought-after judgment against the Wikimedia Foundation on the MOIGE Wikipedia article and Italian national newspapers.

The Wikimedia Foundation responded by explaining the Foundation’s role as a hosting provider, why the challenged statements about MOIGE were not defamatory, how MOIGE should have attempted to amend the statements, and why the “right to be forgotten” was inapplicable in this case.

After a four-year proceeding, the court of Rome ruled in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation.[1] The judgment (translated from the original Italian) confirmed the Foundation’s role as hosting provider, its neutrality in relation to the content created by its users, and the Foundation’s lack of liability for such content. The court recognized that the proper method for amending Wikipedia pages is to follow the procedure available on the website, not by asking the hosting provider to make requested changes.

The opinion stated: “it is clear that the hosting provider is in a neutral position with respect to the content of the information drafted by its users … And such neutrality of the hosting provider does not disappear just because the [Wikimedia Foundation], when informed of potentially illicit content of some of the material uploaded … may intervene to remove it.”

According to the court, Wikimedia Foundation, as hosting provider “provides a service which is based on the freedom of its users to draft the pages of the encyclopaedia: such freedom… is counterbalanced by the possibility for every user to amend or remove any content”.

The court recognized the effectiveness of Wikipedia’s model, noting “the page of the encyclopaedia dedicated to the MOIGE … has been modified many times since the start of the proceedings until today, … and this provides evidence of the described functioning of the encyclopaedia (which follows the so-called ‘wiki’ model) and of the suitability of the system developed by the [Wikimedia Foundation] to ‘self-correct’ pages through the amendments made by users.”

Wikipedia belongs to you, the global community who created it and continues to make it flourish. Wikipedia’s neutrality depends on the ability to stay uninfluenced by attempts to circumvent community policies and procedures through lawsuits. This ruling is a victory for all Wikipedians and for freedom of speech on the Internet.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Director*
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

*We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the attorneys at Hogan Lovells in Italy, particularly Marco Berliri, Marta Staccioli, and Massimiliano Masnada, for their exemplary legal representation and dedication to the Wikimedia movement. Special thanks to Christine Bannan, WMF legal intern, for her assistance on this blog post.


    1. This decision is binding and enforceable, but MOIGE has the opportunity to appeal the case within six months from the publication of the judgment.


by Michelle Paulson and Geoff Brigham at July 17, 2015 04:23 PM

Wikimedia UK

Have you signed up for our volunteer strategy day?

Our previous volunteer strategy day, November 2014

Wikimedia UK is working hard to make sure that volunteers are at the heart of everything the charity does. The next step on this journey is the upcoming volunteer strategy day on Saturday 25 July.

The day is designed to develop a better understanding of how the charity works with its members and volunteer community to further the work of the Wikimedia movement.

There will be a short presentation, and discussions about our proposed structures and mechanisms for interacting with volunteers and engaging them in our work. This will be followed by discussions on the new proposed project planning process, designed to ensure we have ambitious and sustainable projects.
Please bring your ideas for projects and your ideas for how we should work with the community. We hope to have a productive day and finish with some actions for both Wikimedia UK and the community.

As an added incentive our CEO-elect, Lucy Crompton-Reid, will be dropping by to meet the community.

This is a great opportunity to have your say about how Wikimedia UK goes about its mission. We very much hope to see you there. Full details, including address and registration, can be found here. The volunteer strategy day is also followed by the charity’s AGM, so why not come along to both?

by Stevie Benton at July 17, 2015 03:07 PM

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Content Translation, used in over 10,000 articles, now available on Wikipedias in all languages

Content translation - Suggestions and favourite mockup.png
Upcoming feature – mockup of article suggestion on the Content Translation dashboard. Screenshot by Pau Giner, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The month of June 2015 was a rather busy one for the Content Translation project. The tool was enabled in 148 more Wikipedias, including Konkani (gom) and Northern Luri (lrc)—the two newest Wikipedias. Earlier this month, it was activated on the largest Wikipedia, the English language, as well. Content Translation is now available on Wikipedias in all languages as a beta-feature for logged-in users. Besides its wider availability, several improvements were made including a new dashboard, notifications for users and additional features for link handling.

Content Translation is an article creation tool created by the WMF’s Language Engineering team that allows users to write a new Wikipedia article by translating it from an existing article on the same topic in another language. Development of the tool began in early 2014 and it has been available as a beta-feature for logged-in users since January 2015. Since then, over 2,500 translators have used Content Translation to create more than 10,000 new articles.


Animation – Link operations on Content Translation. Screenshot by Santhosh.thottingal, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

An important improvement made to the Content Translation interface now allows editors to better handle links. Users can now view links missing in the translated article, add new links, and mark red links. This is particularly helpful when users choose to translate the text manually or are unable to use the link adaptation feature currently, like in right-to-left language wikis. Very soon, users will also be able to add external links. You can view a short animation to know more about the link feature.

A new addition is Echo-based notifications. Currently, users are notified of translation milestones, like their 1st, 10th and 100th translation. In the next few months more notifications will be added to allow better interaction through the tool. In addition, the Content Translation dashboard was updated by the volunteers Jarrett Munton, Michael Googley, and Kyle Wendland, all students of Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, USA, who worked with the team.

Articles published using Content Translation during the month of June 2015. Screenshot by Pau Giner, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The past month was also one of the busiest for editors. Nearly 3,000 new articles were created using the tool, and more tore than 1300 new translators tried the tool. The Catalan Wikipedia now has more than 1,500 articles created with our translation tool; the Spanish and French Wikipedias have crossed the 1000 article rubicon. Key metrics are now better represented on the redesigned Special:ContentTranslationStats page, a page available on all Wikipedias.

Please see the Language team’s monthly report for more details.

Coming up

As the tool reaches more users, there has been a significant increase in the amount of feedback received. This has helped the development team identify special use cases and focus areas. In recent days, several bugs have been reported related to publishing failures; these are now being investigated and resolved.

For the upcoming three months, several feature enhancements and bug fixes are planned. An important feature addition will be the ability to create a task list—a list of articles to translate from within the user’s dashboard. Secondly, users will be shown suggestions about articles they could translate. This option is currently being evaluated by the Research team as part of a larger experiment.

Wikimania 2015

Wikimedia Language Engineering Team.jpg
WMF Language Engineering team – Istanbul, May 2015. Photo by KartikMistry, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Earlier in June, the Language Engineering team hosted an online interaction session with Content Translation users, and we will also be at Wikimania next week. We will be presenting several talks and hosting two workshops specially for Content Translation:

You can let us know your suggestions, complaints and other feedback on the project talk page. If you are attending Wikimania, please join us!

Runa BhattacharjeeLanguage EngineeringWikimedia Foundation

by Runa Bhattacharjee at July 17, 2015 01:45 AM

July 16, 2015

Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia projects benefit from Bodleian Libraries residency

The image shows a colourful watercolour of Gautama Buddha sitting beneath a pagoda

18th century Burmese watercolour featuring Gautama Buddha. From the Bodleian Libraries

This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Libraries

For anyone looking to define Taijitu, Putso or Sangha, or to learn about Elizabeth Fry, the Junior wives of Krishna, or the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, one of the top internet search hits will be Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Articles about these, and hundreds of other topics, are now being improved using the Bodleian Libraries’ historic collections.

Images from Digital.Bodleian collection are being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the database of freely reusable digital files. From here they can be embedded in articles not just in English Wikipedia, but in other languages and in other educational projects. So far, more than six hundred articles, across many different languages, are illustrated with images from the Bodleian  Libraries, reaching a total of nearly 1.5 million readers per month.

The Bodleian images come from many different countries and eras. The themes range from the serene watercolours of 19th century Burma (present-day Myanmar), via geometrical diagrams in an 11th century Arabic book, to the nightmarish demonic visions of the 14th century Book of Wonders.

A taste is given in an image gallery on Commons. Clicking on any of the images – here or in Wikipedia – and then on ‘More details’ will bring up a larger version, along with links and shelfmarks so that interested readers can track down the physical object.

Anyone is allowed to edit the entries for the images, for example to translate descriptions into other languages. However, these edits are monitored to make sure they respect the educational goals of the site.

This is just the start of an ongoing project: more files and more themes will be added over the next nine months. The Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian In Residence, Martin Poulter, welcomes enquiries at martin.poulter@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

by Stevie Benton at July 16, 2015 01:57 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - failing the #Freebase community

#Google in its infinite wisdom assumed that as Wikidata has a bigger and growing community, it will go beyond what Freebase could do. It had the power to end Freebase and it did in the expectation that the two communities would work together. An assumption that is quite reasonable.

When you work together, you share resources and you have respect for each others achievements. Wikidata may have the bigger community but Freebase has the most data and for whatever reasons the data from Freebase was not accepted at Wikidata.

The consequence is that the people who rely on this data now lost their source. It was lost because the service at Freebase was discontinued. It is therefore great news that the last Freebase dump has a new home at :BaseKB.

Some of the Freebase data is waiting for "approval" hidden in Wikidata. It is part of the Primary sources tool experiment and if you care to "curate" this data, you have to first enable a gadget. When this is not done, it is likely that the same data will be added because there is no other way to learn that the data is waiting to be approved. To add insult to injury, when data is added in this way, it does not report Freebase as the source..

This would not have happened when Wikidata was true  to the Wikimedia mantra of "sharing in the sum of all knowledge". I urge the powers that be at Wikidata to consider the following remedial steps:
  • add Freebase as the source of data imported from Freebase
  • report on the process of "curating" Freebase data
  • when a link between Wikidata and Freebase is known, add missing statements
  • add data from Freebase where there is none at Wikidata, data can be merged later when need be
  • consider tools that allow for the selection of data based on its source for further curation and conversion
  • invest in tools for people working on the inclusion of data from the "Primary sources tool" and from other sources
  • compare data from sources and report on where there are differences. This is where time of our community is well spend
  • consider a tool where the statements of Wikidata are easily available to Wikipedia editors. It may help them with additional information and it will help us in them curating this data
Most important, Wikidata is of particular importance because it links articles from Wikimedia projects. This is where it shines. The quality of its statements is debatable but improving. By including the lovingly maintained data from Freebase, we may expand our community and we do expand both the quantity and quality of the statements. 

Finally Wikipedians love their sources and they are important. When Wikipedians can easily compare the information that is in statements and in the text, we will find them more involved when there is more to curate. Given that Wikipedians get involved in this way, the sources are implicitly known through Wikipedia. This is yet another argument to make haste by including missing data, available from Freebase and other sources.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 16, 2015 09:59 AM

#Wikidata - the failure of the "primary sources tool"

I add data all the time. My tools do not see data that is waiting to be curated.  So I add data.

I find I am actually wasting my time.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 16, 2015 07:18 AM

July 15, 2015

Semantic MediaWiki

2015 MediaWiki User Survey

2015 MediaWiki User Survey

July 15, 2015. The MediaWiki Stakeholders' Group has prepared an online survey for the community to gather input about their usage of MediaWiki which should influence its future development which also influences Semantic MediaWiki. This survey is separated into two parts and should take about 10 minutes to complete. You will find it at the following location: http://hexm.de/MWSurvey. Thank you for your kind participation until July 31, 2015. The results of the survey will be reported publicly afterwards here on mediawiki.org.

2015 MediaWiki User Survey en

by Kghbln at July 15, 2015 08:04 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

The Klexikon: a new wiki encyclopedia for children

2015 Juni TU Dortmund Klexikon 07.JPG
Michael Schulte and Ziko van Dijk. Photo by Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikipedia is the world’s largest encyclopedia, but it can sometimes be too complex for children. To remedy this, the Wikimedia affiliate organization in Germany is supporting the Klexikon—a wiki encyclopedia with articles aimed at children aged six to twelve. With a name stemming from the German words for children (Kinder) and encyclopedia (Lexikon), the Klexikon was founded by Michael Schulte, a radio journalist, and Ziko van Dijk, a Wikipedia editor.

The Klexikon and Wikipedia have the same favorite dish. Photo by Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

While they’ve talked to people who think that writing for children should be easier than writing for adults, they’ve found that often, the opposite is true. So while the Klexikon is based on the Wikipedia model, it differs in several ways: Klexikon articles are much shorter than comperable Wikipedia articles, and Klexikon authors must familiarize themselves with the topic and typical writing styles to properly contextualize topics for a young audience. Van Dijk told us that “these children need quality texts like anyone else,” but that “writing encyclopedic texts for a special target group is nearly an art form. We have found that many people experience it as a real challenge, including us.”

Several other factors come into play as well; for example, the Klexikon is much more selective about what they try to cover. “It is great that Wikipedia has articles about all of the German Members of Parliament or historical railways of Bavaria,” said van Dijk. “There is no need to repeat that effort, so we are much more exclusionist.”

They have also simplified editing as much as possible by stripping out the HTML-like markup language called wikitext that underpins Wikipedias, including reference footnotes. The Klexikon’s civility guidelines are strictly enforced, and no unregistered editing is allowed.

At the university of Dortmund, with Michael Beißwenger (second from the right) and students of German studies, June 2015. We had a presentation and a workshop to find out how we can cooperate in future. Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Schulte and van Dijk opened the Klexikon to editing starting in December 2014, and it now boasts about 750 articles, with about 100 new ones being written each month. While “that does not sound like much,” says van Dijk, “these articles meet minimum requirements” and are not stubs of two to three sentences.

Van Dijk will be presenting about the Klexikon at Wikimania 2015 in Mexico; the original concept report’s English translation is on Commons, and basic information about the Klexikon in English can be found on his personal blog.

Ed ErhartEditorial InternWikimedia Foundation

by Ed Erhart at July 15, 2015 07:38 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

More staff, more tools mean more capacity for partnerships

 Jami Mathewson
Jami Mathewson

Throughout the year, the Wiki Education Foundation has been improving the way we support partnerships.

Most recently, we’ve been focusing on improving our dashboard to provide customized views for partners, helping them easily measure the impact their initiatives have on Wikipedia. And with the conclusion of the student outreach pilot, Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson is now supporting growth for our programs and partnerships. With this added support and Wiki Ed’s focus on streamlining our tools and reducing bottlenecks, we now have a greater capacity to partner with more organizations to expand our programs.

Excited by new possibilities, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and I traveled to Washington, D.C. in late June. We wanted to touch base with our existing partners and to connect with academic associations that have shown interest in starting an initiative to improve Wikipedia.

We signed an official partnership with the American Sociological Association. We also followed up with the National Women’s Studies Association, particularly to showcase new tools, the women’s studies brochure that they helped develop, and to plan outreach during this year’s annual meeting. During this trip, we met with six more organizations:

  • Linguistics Society of America
  • National Communication Association
  • American Historical Association
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Oceanography Society

One of the great privileges of meeting with the brilliant staff at these organizations is that we get an opportunity to learn more about their missions, interests, and goals for a partnership. This trip reaffirmed what we thought we knew already—each organization promotes public scholarship as part of its mission. Since Wikipedia is accessed by so many people around the world, it is a natural medium to disseminate research. These organizations are passionate about public access to information, and our programs offer a structured and proven way to broaden and deepen that information.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the pedagogical benefits of Wikipedia assignments were also compelling to our potential partners. Instructors have always understood and championed the benefits of a Wikipedia assignment in developing information literacy and communication skills, and academic associations serve their members, many of whom are university instructors. I’ve seen a trend over the last few years in a shifting conversation to address student learning that applies to the real world—not only a career in academia—and information literacy and communication skills translate from Wikipedia to most modern-day careers. I’m happy to hear from academic associations how important student learning is to them, as Wiki Ed’s dual mission aims not only to improve Wikipedia, but also to impact student learning positively.

Our mission aligns well with these organizations, and we look forward to sharing the results of our partnerships as we move into the new academic year!

To find out more about Educational Partnerships, see here

by Jami Mathewson at July 15, 2015 03:30 PM

Gerard Meijssen

A #Wikidata and a #Wikipedia perspective

It may seem as if there is this divide between Wikipedia and Wikidata and, there is and there is not. It is just a matter of perspective. When you look at a Wikipedia article, there may be many links to other articles and, all of them are Wikidata items as well

The relation between Wikipedia articles is described in text and, the relation between Wikidata items is defined in statements. As Wikidata becomes more complete, more and more of the links in an article will be defined in Wikidata as well.

Consider for instance the article on the Gruber Prize for Women's Rights and compare it with its Reasonator page. You will already find a large overlap and, you will find in the link to its "concept cloud" all the article links in Wikipedia articles in any language.

What you might want is yet another perspective; a list of all the links in an article combined with the statements to the corresponding articles. This would be relatively simple to cobble together. The next step would be an option to add missing statements.

The point of such a gadget would be to engage Wikipedians. They could add statements one at a time adding the relations that they have already defined. It would be an obvious next step once links and redlinks have additional functionality possible because of Wikidata. However, it would work already as a gadget.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 15, 2015 07:26 AM

July 14, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

News on Wikipedia: possible bailout for Greece and a prison escape in Mexico

Lead image for in the news july 14.jpg

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Greece and Eurogroup agree bailout

Alexis Tsipras in Moscow 4.jpg
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, must now persuade his government to accept the new terms. Image by kremlin.ru, freely licensed under CC-BY 3.0.

On Monday (July 13), Greece agreed to hold talks on a third bailout deal with their creditors, following last week’s national referendum which rejected proposed plans. The agreement, which was the result of a long and drawn-out negotiation process which concluded in the early hours of the morning, may secure Greece a 86 billion euro bailout over three years should Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government agree to the plans. Syriza’s coalition partners, the Independent Greeks, are opposed to the new plans. Tsipras has until Wednesday to gain the support of his government on the new terms.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Greek government-debt crisis, Third Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece, Greek withdrawal from the eurozone

Wimbledon concludes

Serena Williams (9630783949).jpg
Serena Williams, pictured at the US Open, claimed her sixth Wimbledon title with her win this week. Photo by Edwin Martinez, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Tennis’ most famous tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, ended this week; Serena Williams, the top-ranked woman in the world, defeated 20th-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in the final. It was Williams’ sixth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam title. In the men’s competition, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, likewise the top seed, defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer in four sets. This prevented Federer from securing his eighth title, and landed Djokovic, the defending champion, his third.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: 2015 Wimbledon Championships

“El Chapo” escapes custody

El chapo Guzmán.jpg
Joaquín Guzmán Loera is seen here in 1992. Photo by Fabrizio León Diez, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 4.0.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, head of the Sinaloa Cartel and widely nicknamed “El Chapo”, broke out of Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 on Saturday (July 11). He did so through a tunnel dug through his shower area, connected to a construction site almost a mile from the prison. His tunnel was equipped with artificial light, air conditioning, and a modified motorcycle. His escape triggered a manhunt in the area, which has since spread to various other federal entities and Mexico City International Airport. Several prison staff were detained for questioning or fired in relation to the escape.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Joaquín Guzmán Loera

Confederate flag lowered after 54 years

South Carolina State House.JPG
The flag had flown on or near the South Carolina State House since 1962. Image by HaloMasterMind, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

The US state of South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from near its State House on Friday (July 10) following votes in favor in both the South Carolina Senate and the House of Representatives. It comes following an attack on a church in the city of Charleston, in which nine people were killed by a white supremacist. Governor Nikki Haley had called for the flag’s removal on June 22, four days after the shooting; she said: “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer.” The flag will eventually be put on display at a museum elsewhere in the state.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Modern display of the Confederate flag, Charleston church shooting

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dies

Satoru Iwata - Game Developers Conference 2011 - Day 3 (3).jpg
Iwata had been president of the company for almost thirteen years. Photo by GDC, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Satoru Iwata, the President of Japan-based video game company Nintendo, died on Saturday (July 11) from a bile duct growth at the age of 55. Iwata had been forced to miss 2014’s E3 conference due to ill health, but had had surgery and said he was “progressing well”. Iwata joined HAL Laboratory as a game developer in the 1980s, joined Nintendo as a director in 2000, and succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi to become the fourth President of the company in 2002. He oversaw many of Nintendo’s recent console releases, such as the Wii, the Nintendo DS and the Gamecube.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Satoru Iwata

Research stats

Page view data for ITN, 14 July 2015.png
Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

El Chapo’s” prison break in Mexico proved a popular story in the media, and helped to attract a peak of over 150,000 readers to his Wikipedia article two days after the escape (July 13). It was the second most-viewed of the five articles, with the next most-popular read being that of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships. The tennis contest never could achieve the peak it experienced upon the tournament’s start, though it leaped up to over 27,000 page views on Sunday (July 12).

The Greek government-debt crisis article attracted 43,000 page views at its peak last week, but declined all week as talks dragged on. Its stats were still reasonably high despite the steady decrease. Modern display of the Confederate flag, where South Carolina’s decision to remove the battle flag from in front of its State House was documented, attracted 11,000 views as it was removed on Thursday (July 9).

News of Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata’s death on Monday (July 13) led hundreds of thousands of people to read about him on Wikipedia; the article received 471,000 hits as news of his passing broke.

Photo montage credits: “Satoru Iwata – Game Developers Conference 2011 – Day 3 (3).jpg” by GDC, CC-BY 2.0; “Serena Williams (9630783949).jpg” by Edwin Martinez, CC-BY 2.0; “El chapo Guzmán.jpg” by Fabrizio León Diez, CC-by-SA 4.0; “South Carolina State House.JPG” by HaloMasterMind, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “Alexis Tsipras in Moscow 4.jpg” by kremlin.ru, CC-BY 3.0; Collage by Andrew sherman

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 14, 2015 08:55 PM

Weekly OSM

A Task for the Summer Holidays—Guideposts along Hiking Routes

A typical hiking guidepost in the Austrian alps

A typical hiking guidepost in the Austrian alps and its node in the OSM database

For the German community it has become a habit to do so-called “tasks of the week”—a common mapping effort with a specific topic like turning lanes or pharmacies. This time we are going one step further—a task for the summer holidays. Mapping guideposts along hiking or bicycle routes. Due to its inherent complexity—guideposts are usually spread over a large area and are not as easy accessible as other objects, the task was divided in two parts. First, mappers are asked to take pictures of guideposts during their summer holidays—a time that many people spend doing hiking or biking tours with their families. The actual mapping of the surveyed information will take place in early September, when people are back home. To refer to this task in blog posts and changeset comments the hash tag #OSMWA1536 can be used.

How a guidepost can be mapped and which level of detail is desired has been the topic of a thread in the German forum and a dedicated poll (in German forum as well). The outcome of both discussions was that people have very different opinion on how mapping should be done. Fortunately, there is no conflict between the different options, they merely represent different levels of complexity.

Besides the personal interests of each mapper, the location and type of the sign plays a role when deciding on a mapping scheme. Some guidepost just point to the next locality along a path which is already fully mapped—the additional information by adding these destinations to OSM is marginal at best and can be skipped. The same holds for guideposts along an existing hiking route. In this case, the guidepost itself can be added to the OSM relation and it’s content doesn’t need to be mapped. In other regions, the pure existence of a mapped guidepost is valuable information—e.g. if ways have not been fully traced, the map user could be told to take a way that doesn’t even exist on his map yet.

These considerations led to a three-levelled recommendation how to map guideposts:

Level 1—The Guidepost

Each and every guidepost found should exist in OSM as a node tagged tourism=information and information=guidepost. Following additional tags that can be used:

  • hiking=yes / bicycle=yes—is the guidepost designated to a specific group of users?
  • operator=*—the organization responsible for the guidepost
  • ref=*—some operators use reference numbers on their signs
  • material=*—the material the guidepost is made of, e.g. wood or metal
  • colour=*—the color of the guidepost

If someone does not want to map destinations, the content of the signs might be made visible to other mappers or map users by either adding a url tag pointing to the image taken or the text of the signpost can be put into a note:destination or inscription tag.
In case the guidepost is part of an existing hiking route relation, it should be added to it. Further mapping of destinations is not required in this case.

Level 2—Destinations as Keys on a Way

On most highways destinations are mapped using the destination=* and its sub-keys including the :forward/:backward suffixes. This scheme can be used on hiking routes as well. The tags are put on a way in OSM starting or ending near the actual guidepost. Useful keys are

  • destination=*—Give the destinations as a list, separated by semicolon.
  • destination:symbol=*—in case a symbol is shown (usually for amenities like restaurants)
  • destination:ref=*—the reference number of another way the guidepost points to
  • destination:lang:XX=*—some destinations might be posted in several languages. Use the common language keys in place of “XX”

Please note that the addition of :forward or :backward is necessary in most cases – the destination given is only valid when travelling the way in one direction but not in the other. The suffix is always added to the very end of the key.

Level 3—Destinations as Relations

The most precise though time consuming option is to use relations of type destination_sign. A destination sign relation has three members. The guidepost (using role sign), the intersection node on the way (role intersection) and the way the sign points to (to). Besides its type, the relation takes the keys mentioned above and in addition:

  • distance=*—the distance to the listed destination as shown on the sign. Default unit are kilometers, others can be used but need to be specified (e.g. 6.5 miles, 550 m)
  • time=* – The time to destination indicated on the sign. The format is “HH:MM”, giving both hours and minutes.
  • colour:back=*, colour:text=*, colour:arrow=*—the colors used on the sign


Some general remarks about tagging: always choose the most appropriate scheme—none is better or worse. Keep the tagging as simple as possible without losing too much information. Trivial information does not need to be mapped.

by Oliver at July 14, 2015 08:15 PM

Wikimedia UK

Welcoming Lucy Crompton-Reid as new CEO of Wikimedia UK

Lucy Crompton-Reid

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

I am very pleased to be able to announce that Wikimedia UK has been been fortunate enough to secure as our new CEO Lucy Crompton-Reid, currently Director of the national live literature charity Apples and Snakes. Lucy brings extensive experience in volunteer engagement, organisational development, working with strategic partners, media, education, and securing external fundraising from trusts and foundations.

Over the course of her career Lucy has worked in both the charitable and public sectors, including most recently Head of Outreach at the House of Lords where she was strategic and operational lead for education and outreach activities. Before that, she worked at Arts Council England, initially developing strategic partnerships before setting up a new area office with local government and schools partnerships. As Refugee Week National Co-ordinator for the British Refugee Council, Lucy chaired the UK steering group of NGOs and charities, led on media activities, and facilitated hundreds of volunteer cultural events each year. Lucy is passionate about education and learning and is deeply committed to ensuring open access to knowledge and information.

Lucy will be joining us in early October. In the meantime, our interim CEO, D’Arcy Myers, will remain in post and will be working with Lucy to ensure a smooth handover.

Please join me in offering Lucy a very warm welcome.

Lucy says:

“I’m delighted to be joining Wikimedia UK this October as the charity’s new Chief Executive, and look forward to working with the staff team, board and volunteer community – as well as national and international partners – to develop the work of the organisation. This is a significant time for Wikimedia and for the open knowledge sector more broadly, with the potential to create unparalleled access to educational content, coupled with threats to limit public access to information and knowledge. With nearly 18 years’ experience in the arts, charitable and public sectors, I’m passionate about participation, and excited about the opportunity to facilitate greater public engagement with online content and information through Wikipedia and its sister projects, and other Wikimedia UK initiatives.”

by Stevie Benton at July 14, 2015 04:25 PM

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Get the latest Wikipedia updates easily with IFTTT

If This Then That, or IFTTT, introduces new tools to make connecting with Wikipedia’s public data simpler than ever. Photo by IFTTT.

Wikipedia now has a Channel on IFTTT, so you can get Wikipedia updates delivered by email, Tumblr, Twitter, and many other new ways. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a tool that connects sites and services over the web. Users can “Trigger” specific actions when an event occurs on Wikipedia—for example, posting to Facebook or sending yourself a push notification. This puts the power of automating an email digest or Twitter bot in the hands of anyone—no programming experience required.

The Wikipedia Channel on IFTTT introduces powerful new tools to stay up to date on public Wikipedia activity. You can monitor updates to articles in a category, broadcast your own contributions, get notified of the picture of the day, and much more.

A few examples of the Triggers available in the Wikipedia Channel on IFTTT:

Picture of the day: An alert with the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day
Article of the day: An interesting article from Wikipedia, chosen daily from among Wikipedia’s best articles
Word of the day: The definition of the Wiktionary word of the day
New edits to a Wikipedia article: New edits on any Wikipedia page (similar to your watchlist on Wikipedia)
New edits from a specific user: New contributions from a specific Wikipedia user
New edit with a hashtag in the edit summary: Watch for a hashtag in the edit summary (try a hashtag for your next #editathon!)
Article updated in a category: New edits to any Wikipedia page in a category
Articles added to a category: Each time an article is added to a category

All of the Channels will use the English Wikipedia by default, but other languages are also available if you specify a two-character language code.

Here are a few of my favorite Recipes so far:

  • Update your phone background with the picture of the day (hat tip to Luis Villa for this idea)unnamed
  • Announce your Wikipedia edits on Twitterunnamed (4)
  • A tumblr log for edits with a hashtag for your editathonunnamed (1)
  • Add the featured Wikipedia article of the day to your reading listunnamed (3)
  • Create a running log of newly-created articles needing some loveunnamed (2)

There are many other ways you can stay updated on Wikipedia activity using IFTTT—let me know if you build anything awesome!

To get started with IFTTT, sign up at IFTTT.com, then start mixing and matching different Triggers and actions on the Create a Recipe page. You can find more examples of awesome recipes over on IFTTT’s blog, and learn about the technical aspects of the new Channel over on Hatnote.

Stephen LaPorteWikimedia Foundation

Although I work for the Wikimedia Foundation, I worked on this project in my volunteer time using only public resources, like Wikimedia Labs and the Wikipedia API. Many thanks to Ori, Dario, the great folks at IFTTT, and many others who helped out!

by Stephen LaPorte at July 14, 2015 04:02 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - appeasing the #Wikipedia crowd

To understand #quality, you have to make assumptions. For Wikipedians, quality is in the source. This source is a statement somewhere that a given fact is true. This makes sense in the text based Wikipedia.

One problem Wikidata faces is that many Wikipedians are sceptical about the quality of the information at Wikidata. "There are no sources" is the oft repeated mantra. Who checked the fact, who approved... Why should we trust the information? This resulted in a culture at Wikidata where "because of the Wikipedians" things that should be obvious are no longer obvious. When the Freebase data is imported, it is not imported it is kept in purgatory, waiting for someone to say OK.

The consequence is an epic fail when you use tools to add information. Data that is in purgatory is not seen by the tools and consequently it is added again, without the sources and without the additional qualifiers known in purgatory.

Google and the Freebase community spend an inordinate amount of time and effort on making this information right. It was used by Google in its products and WHY do we need to doubt its quality? Why should we think ourselves superior just because of the uneasy sentiments of Wikipedians?

The results are an epic fail because;
  • the newly added information is not seen in tools
  • there is no way to automatically compare it with other sources and thereby verify it
  • it demonstrates mistrust where it is not needed.
When we want to import data from external sources, it makes sense to verify its quality. However, it is best done at the gate, before information is added to Wikidata. When a source is of such a quality that we want it, we should import it. Just like we did for all the settlements in China, Just like we are doing all the time from incomplete data from many Wikipedias.

We should do better and when we forget about Wikipedians for a moment, we know better.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 14, 2015 08:17 AM

July 13, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

Five new positions placing Wikipedians as Visiting Scholars

McMaster University - Edwards Hall.jpg
McMaster University is one of the five libraries joining the program. Photo by Mathew Ingram, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Wikipedia Library is pleased to announce five new Wikipedia Visiting Scholars positions with US and Canadian universities and research organizations as part of an program expansion.

Visiting Scholars are remote, unpaid Wikipedia editors who become affiliated with top research libraries. They receive full access to the partner library’s e-resources to expand topics of institutional interest which also need development on Wikipedia. This marks the second successful round of institutions participating in the program.

These new positions will be coordinated and managed by the Wikipedia Library’s movement partner, the Wiki Education Foundation (Wiki Ed). Wiki Ed will process applications, connect to schools, and drive the growth of the program in the North American region. They are in an excellent position to help expand Visiting Scholars because of their extensive existing connections to universities and desire to support Wikipedia’s best content creators.

We invite Wikipedia editors who specialize in content creation, and would like access to a full research library, to apply for these new unpaid, remote affiliate positions at the following research libraries:

  • McMaster University is a public university in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The library’s holdings in their Division of Research Collections and Archives contain many valuable and unique resources, with emphases in areas such as peace and war (with a particular emphasis on the Holocaust and resistance), Bertrand Russell, Canadian literature and popular culture.
  • DePaul University is a private university in Chicago, Illinois. The library is looking for Wikipedians who can focus on Chicago history, Catholic social justice studies, and/or Vincentian Studies (including French history during the Napoleonic Era).
  • The Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The Warren M. Robbins Library of the National Museum of African Art is looking for a Wikipedian in Residence that can focus on modern African art and artists.
  • The University of Pittsburgh (PITT) is a state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This Visiting Scholar position will work with PITT’s Archives Service Center, Special Collections and Center for American Music to focus on: Pittsburgh and Pennsylvanian history including urban renewal in Pittsburgh, childhood in the industrial era of Pittsburgh, music composers of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh theater or significant literary figures from Pittsburgh; Colonial American history; historic American songs; or philosophy of science.
  • The University of Washington (UW), commonly referred to as Washington or, informally, UDub, is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. This Visiting Scholar position will work with UW’s Special Collections and focus on labor and the working classes in the Pacific Northwest, all aspects of Pacific Northwest history and literature, and Pacific Northwest architecture.

Full application information is available at the Wiki Education Foundation signup page.

Wiki Ed also invites editors to apply for a Visiting Scholar placement pool. The pool will help grow the Visiting Scholar program by creating a list of willing and interested candidates to offer to new partner libraries. With the interests and needs of pre-qualified Wikipedians in hand, Wiki Ed can work to find libraries that match your interests.

Access to research libraries as part of one of these visiting scholar positions creates considerable opportunities for Wikipedia editors. It allows them access to services and tools, including multiple paywalled databases, integrated search and discovery tools, research collections and recommendations from specialist librarians, and expert consultation. In return, editors can begin a conversation with the library, which creates opportunities for greater understanding and communication between these universities and the wider Wikipedia community.

Alex Stinson
The Wikipedia Library

by Alex Stinson at July 13, 2015 06:04 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Visiting Scholars program connects Wikipedians with academic resources

Ryan McGrady
Ryan McGrady

Since 2013, the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program has been connecting Wikipedia editors with research libraries. Together, they find Wikipedia articles to improve using the library’s digital resources. We’re pleased to announce that moving forward, the program in the United States and Canada will be administered by the Wiki Education Foundation.

The Visiting Scholar position offers Wikipedia editors access to journals, special collections, and other research tools. Scholars’ use of these materials increases visibility for collections, advancing the library’s mission of expanding community engagement. The Wikipedia Library — a collaborative project on Wikipedia administered by Jake Orlowitz and Alex Stinson — piloted the Visiting Scholars program in the United States. Now, the Wikipedia Library’s focus is shifting to expand the program globally, and they are excited to see a mission-aligned organization take on expanding the U.S. program that they piloted.

“The Wiki Education Foundation was a natural partner to facilitate the Visiting Scholars program in the U.S. and Canada,” Orlowitz said. “With its many connections to institutions of higher learning, academic departments, and university libraries, it was clear that the Wiki Education Foundation was a great home for the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program.”

Wiki Education Foundation’s flagship program supports university instructors who want to assign their students to contribute content to course-related articles on Wikipedia. Instructors at more than 200 universities have participated in the program since its creation in 2010. The Visiting Scholars program offers an opportunity to foster bidirectional relationships between academic institutions and Wikipedia editors.

“The Wiki Education Foundation has had great success connecting student editors to Wikipedia,” said Wiki Education Foundation Executive Director Frank Schulenburg. “The Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program is a unique opportunity to help connect Wikipedians to institutions of higher learning. I’m delighted by the possibilities that come from sharing in both directions, and I’m excited to expand on the excellent pilot work from the Wikipedia Library.”

The new home for Visiting Scholars kicks off with five positions now open for the program: McMaster University, University of Pittsburgh, DePaul University, University of Washington, and the Smithsonian Institution, each with its own subject focus. If you’re an active Wikipedia content creator, we encourage you to apply. You can also submit an application to be held and matched with future opportunities.

All of those details, including open positions and how to apply, are available here.

by Ryan McGrady at July 13, 2015 04:38 PM


Tour of Puerta Vallarta

Puerta Vallarta is a resort town in Mexico. I am in Mexico for the 2015 Wikimania conference. Fabian is joining me for the travel. We left early for tourism and From Friday 10 July – Tuesday 14 we are in Puerta Vallarta.

I knew some about the place before arriving but there was not much of the information I wanted to see available online or in Wikipedia. I knew it was cheap among the resort towns, and that the beaches were nice, and that it is known for being a destination in Mexico hosting both a gay tourism industry and a gay expatriate community. I expected that the tourism industry was underdeveloped in the sense that it would be mostly one-sided – locals wish to provide to tourists, but there is not cultural exchange such that locals understand what tourists want. All of these things are true.

Fabian and I are staying on Amapas Street in an apartment. The place is nice and the rent is cheap, and it is across the street from the beach and in a city block with two vegan restaurants. Eating out here is significantly less expensive than buying groceries in New York, so it is comfortable here on our budget.

One of the vegetarian restaurants, Salud, is owned and managed by someone from Seattle. Willy, the owner, told me that many Seattle people have settled here, which is not surprising to me. He gave us travel suggestions and we planned our days. Our first day we stayed on the beach; the second day we played on the beach and went to some nightclubs; the third day we went to the botanical garden; today we will go to Las Marietas; and tomorrow we will be back on the beach.

The beach is nice. The water is warm. We are here in the off-season, with winter being high season, and there are hardly people anywhere.

We are staying in the gay district, which is near Los Muertos Playa (Dead Man’s Beach). Within a 10 minute walk there are maybe 15 stores selling tiny swimsuits and underwear, with about half of those also selling bongs and lube and a few also selling meth and crack pipes. There are pharmacies around the neighborhood advertising to tourists that they sell, without a prescription, xanax, anabolic steroids, viagra, and amoxicilin. Girls swimsuits are available on the otherside of a river into downtown, which also marks the boundary of the gay/straight area. We went to a couple of nightclubs. One had gogo boys and at the other there was a drag performance. During the drag performance there was a call for birthdays and everyone with a birthday came on stage at the bar. The hostess asked everyone who had a birthday (about 10 people) to announce to the bar their preference for being activo or passivo, the Spanish terms for top or bottom, then sent them back to the crowd. We met a guy at the bar who was at the end of his career in business in the United States and had just a few days before purchased a condo near the club. He was going to rent it to tourists for a few years until he retired, then he planned to live here. He told us he paid USD 250,000 for a nice 2-bedroom condo, and said that this was a typical price for a nice enough place with a beach view in the gay neighborhood in a condo with reliable services.

Near the bars there is a bathhouse and a place called Pinata PV. I did not notice Pinata the night we went out, but the next morning, Fabian and I were at a coffeehouse on the way to catch a bus to the botanical garden and we met this couple, Ron and David, who operate Pinata. Pinata is a building with a juice bar on the ground floor, a gym and yoga studio on the next level, then some apartments in the rest of the building. Ron and David were Americans who are here long term supporting the gay community. They provide apartments only to gay guys, and especially guys who are here providing gay services like tourism, yoga, or performance at the clubs. They also talked about real estate and a trend for gay guys to live in Puerta Vallarta and suggested that it could be a nice place to live for anyone who could work remotely. I thought that sounded like a nice idea for me.

Fabian and I took a local bus to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. The bus leaves just a few blocks from the gay nightclubs. The road is bumpy and the bus bounces a lot anyway by design. When we got to the garden we found that it seemed more like a jungle with hiking trials. We went to the river which is narrow and shallow but has a fast enough current to be too much to swim in the middle, and is filled with rocks and little waterfalls. We were told that it was a good place to swim naked so we played like Mowgli in the jungle for most of the day, then hiked in the shade of the jungle seeing big lizards and hearing birds everywhere and seeing strange plants and flowers. We had to climb a bit in some places even on the trails. It seemed like rain so we started walking back to the visitor center and restaurant. On our way back the rain cam suddenly and hard so we were completely wet and though we had been sweating from heat now we were shivering in the cold.

The director of the garden was there and I mentioned to him that I wanted to talk about Wikipedia with him. He was an American from Georgia named Bob Pierce and was friendly, but then as we were eating he came to Fabian and me with his business manager Neil, an American from Pennsylvania. Neil was a casual Wikipedian who already had edited multiple articles and understood Creative Commons licenses, which meant that he understood the most difficult parts of what I routinely teach in my Wikipedia job. He and I talked for a while about the garden collaborating with the Wikipedia community and he proposed multiple options which all demonstrated his understanding of how Wikipedia and online collaboration work. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for the Wikimedia community, the garden, and Puerta Vallarta’s tourism industry if the garden were to contribute to Wikimedia projects. Neil brought his employee, a graphic design intern, to me and said that he also would like to learn Wikipedia. This person, Gerardo, was nice and also asked questions. I will be in touch because I never expect to meet people who are already well placed in an institution like this with such opportunity and who have strong interest in Wikipedia. It was fortunate that we met each other.

We took the bus back to town on the way back and the bus driver neglected to stop for one of the huge speed bumps. We were sitting in the back where it was the bumpiest and were thrown especially high. The locals did not think this was as funny as we did. I felt a little out of place – for me these things are fun because I can leave at any time.

Today we go to the islands! Right now Wikipedia has none of the strange pictures of this place that I have seen elsewhere on the Internet. I am trying to take more photos and will bring my camera there.

It has been nice to travel with Fabian. Travel introduces stress into any relationship. Fabian and I both travel well but it has been interesting for me to see how he handles stress. In New York I rarely see him out of balance unless we are debating social issues. He has the disposition of a night club host who brings contentment into any situation. In New York he was a bit worried about getting to the airport on time, when I was much later than he wished to be. He worried about the connecting flight from Mexico City to Puerta Vallarta, because I booked the flights through different services to be perhaps closer together than any one service would recommend. In Puerta Vallarta he is not quick to calculate exchange rates to think about the prices of things, and wonders about money on the principle of the issue. I am more comfortable with this. Fabian knows every street in Manhattan well and the location of every subway, but he gets lost around the little gay district here and does not recognize street names or landmarks. Part of the reason for these things is that Fabian in his past has traveled in the manner of a different social class, and especially in a place like Puerta Vallarta, might without me have had a more guided experience. I enjoy a cheaper sort of living and have enjoyed seeing how he reacts to things being a little dirty here. It has been fun.

by bluerasberry at July 13, 2015 03:33 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - more great statistics

When you want to know what Wikidata data is about, you find it in the statements "instance of" and "subclass of". The illustration is part of a set of new statistics by Zolo. It concentrates on these instances and statistics and a big surprise is that there are still so many more items without one (32.6%). The statistics by Magnus show that only 19.07% of all items have no statement.

The great thing of the new statistics page is that it shows pie charts for many Wikipedias. English Wikipedia for instance for instance does not know about 1.5 million people Wikidata knows about. When you analyse this, you get into the domain of set theory. These people can already be subdivided in the following way:
  • people only en.wp knows about
  • people en.wp knows about as well as others
  • people en.wp does not know about but another wp does
  • people no Wikipedia knows about
  • items Wikidata does not recognise as people
People and unidentified items are half the pie for Wikidata. In all cases they are pretty well connected to articles in whatever project and provide a perfect opportunity to provide information. I blogged about it before, wikilinks and red links are obvious targets for links to other information not only for people but also for people.

Many people have #Babel information on their user page. They thereby indicate their proficiency in a language. When a Wikipedia does not have an article, why not provide an article in a known language? When there is no article why not provide at least the information that is available? It will help an editor write a new article, it will provide a reader with at least some information.

The point is that we should share in the sum of all available knowledge because we can.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 13, 2015 06:57 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #29, 2015 (July 13, 2015)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2015, week 29 (Monday 13 July 2015) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎Kreyòl ayisyen • ‎italiano • ‎Ripoarisch • ‎polski • ‎português • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎中文

July 13, 2015 12:00 AM

July 12, 2015

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - #verifiability

Verifiability for Wikidata is different from verifiability for Wikipedia. One sentence like "Mr X was born on 7-5-1959 in Zwaag, he became known for activities in Y" contain multiple statements and Wikipedia could use one source while Wikidata needs the same source multiple times. The sources for Wikipedia are nice out of the way and for Wikidata they are in your face.

Yet again there is a discussion about verifiability and to be honest, it is boring. On a typical day the vast majority of new statements come without any sources. To be brutally honest, I have never added sources and I do not intent to either. I do remove sources when I update information that is wrong and is sourced.

Wikidata is hardly the only source of linked data and it is relatively easy to compare databases. This is when the idiosyncrasies come out. It is where you have to  map data from one database to another. Once this is done, you can compare multiple sources and find how they match and mismatch.

Arguably this is more powerful as individual sources because there is little interest in adding missing sources per statement.  There is a lot more interest in finding out why there are differences between the data in databases. It leads to a finetuning of the mapping or it leads to changes in the data on either end.

Wikipedia does not need sources for each Wikidata statement. What it needs is confidence. Confidence in best practices that ensure the data is as good as we can make it.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 12, 2015 10:56 AM