Research directions towards the Wikimedia 2030 strategy

19:00, Thursday, 14 2019 February UTC

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Research team has published a set of white papers that outline our plans and priorities for the next 5 years. These white papers, which were developed collaboratively by all members of the team, reflect our thinking about the kind of research that will be necessary to further the 2030 Wikimedia strategic direction of knowledge equity and knowledge as a service.

Altogether, these white papers define a set of recommended directions in three key areas—knowledge gaps, knowledge integrity, and foundations—where the Wikimedia Foundation, in partnership with affiliates and academic collaborators, can help the Wikimedia movement address and anticipate challenges and take advantage of emerging technological opportunities. Example directions include:

  • Developing a knowledge equity index to track progress towards removing barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge
  • Identifying new methods and tools for characterizing bias, information quality, and trustworthiness in Wikimedia content
  • Designing and testing machine learning technologies to assist contributors in identifying and filling knowledge gaps

 
Scholarship has played a vital role in our collective understanding Wikimedia projects. Academic research has yielded insights into familiar challenges such as the gender gap and systemic bias, as well as emerging issues around community health, the threat of disinformation, and the needs of traditionally underserved contributor and reader communities.

By publishing these white papers, we hope to encourage students, researchers, movement affiliates and academic institutions to join us in pursuing a research agenda that will help the Wikimedia movement achieve its strategic goals.

Wikimedia Research is a team of scientists and engineers at the Wikimedia Foundation whose mandate is to develop new technologies to improve Wikimedia projects and support communities, and to disseminate scientific knowledge to further our shared mission and inform strategic decision-making within the Wikimedia movement.

You can read more about the white papers on Meta-Wiki and we invite you to share your feedback and questions with us.

Jonathan T. Morgan, Senior Design Researcher, Wikimedia Foundation
Dario Taraborelli, Director, Head of Research, Wikimedia Foundation

Image by Wikimedia Research, all components licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Perf Matters in 2015

16:05, Thursday, 14 2019 February UTC

Hello, WANObjectCache

This year we achieved another milestone in our multi-year effort to prepare Wikipedia for serving traffic from multiple data centres.

The MediaWiki application that powers Wikipedia relies heavily on object caching. We use Memcached as horizontally scaled key-value store, and we’d like to keep the cache local to each data centre. This minimises dependencies between data centres, and makes better use of storage capacity (based on local needs).

Aaron Schulz devised a strategy that makes MediaWiki caching compatible with the requirements of a multi-DC architecture. Previously, when source data changed, MediaWiki would recompute and replace the cache value. Now, MediaWiki broadcasts “purge” events for cache keys. Each data centre receives these and sets a “tombstone”, a marker lasting a few seconds that limits any set-value operations for that key to a miniscule time-to-live. This makes it tolerable for recache-on-miss logic to recompute the cache value using local replica databases, even though they might have a several seconds of replication lag. Heartbeats are used to detect the replication lag of the databases involved during any re-computation of a cache value. When that lag is more than a few seconds (a large portion of the tombstone period), the corresponding cache set-value operation automatically uses a low time-to-live. This means that large amounts of replication lag are tolerated.

This and other aspects of WANObjectCache’s design allow MediaWiki to trust that cached values are not substantially more stale, than a local replica database; provided that cross-DC broadcasting of tiny in-memory tombstones is not disrupted.


First paint time now under 900ms

In July we set out a goal: improve page load performance so our median first paint time would go down from approximately 1.5 seconds to under a second – and stay under it!

I identified synchronous scripts as the single-biggest task blocking the browser, between the start of a page navigation and the first visual change seen by Wikipedia readers. We had used async scripts before, but converting these last two scripts to be asynchronous was easier said than done.

There were several blockers to this change. Including the use of embedded scripts by interactive features. These were partly migrated to CSS-only solutions. For the other features, we introduced the notion of “delayed inline scripts”. Embedded scripts now wrap their code in a closure and add it to an array. After the module loader arrives, we process the closures from the array and execute the code within.

Another major blocker was the subset of community-developed gadgets that didn’t yet use the module loader (introduced in 2011). These legacy scripts assumed a global scope for variables, and depended on browser behaviour specific to serially loaded, synchronous, scripts. Between July 2015 and August 2015, I worked with the community to develop a migration guide. And, after a short deprecation period, the legacy loader was removed.

Line graph that plots the firstPaint metric for August 2015. The line drops from approximately one and a half seconds to 890 milliseconds.

Hello, WebPageTest

Previously, we only collected performance metrics for Wikipedia from sampled real-user page loads. This is super and helps detect trends, regressions, and other changes at large. But, to truly understand the characteristics of what made a page load a certain way, we need synthetic testing as well.

Synthetic testing offers frame-by-frame video captures, waterfall graphs, performance timelines, and above-the-fold visual progression. We can run these automatically (e.g. every hour) for many urls, on many different browsers and devices, and from different geo locations. These tests allow us to understand the performance, and analyse it. We can then compare runs over any period of time, and across different factors. It also gives us snapshots of how pages were built at a certain point in time.

The results are automatically recorded into a database every hour, and we use Grafana to visualise the data.

In 2015 Peter built out the synthetic testing infrastructure for Wikimedia, from scratch. We use the open-source WebPageTest software. To read more about its operation, check Wikitech.


The journey to Thumbor begins

Gilles evaluated various thumbnailing services for MediaWiki. The open-source Thumbor software came out as the most promising candidate.

Gilles implemented support for Thumbor in the MediaWiki-Vagrant development environment.

To read more about our journey to Thumbor, read The Journey to Thumbor (part 1).


Save timing reduced by 50%

Save timing is one of the key performance metrics for Wikipedia. It measures the time from when a user presses “Publish changes” when editing – until the user’s browser starts to receive a response. During this time, many things happen. MediaWiki parses the wiki-markup into HTML, which can involve page macros, sub-queries, templates, and other parser extensions. These inputs must be saved to a database. There may also be some cascading updates, such as the page’s membership in a category. And last but not least, there is the network latency between user’s device and our data centres.

This year saw a 50% reduction in save timing. At the beginning of the year, median save timing was 2.0 seconds (quarterly report). By June, it was down to 1.6 seconds (report), and in September 2015, we reached 1.0 seconds! (report)

Line graph of the median save timing metric, over 2015. Showing a drop from two seconds to one and a half in May, and another drop in June, gradually going further down to one second.

The effort to reduce save timing was led by Aaron Schulz. The impact that followed was the result of hundreds of changes to MediaWiki core and to extensions.

Deferring tasks to post-send

Many of these changes involved deferring work to happen post-send. That is, after the server sends the HTTP response to the user and closes the main database transaction. Examples of tasks that now happen post-send are: cascading updates, emitting “recent changes” objects to the database and to pub-sub feeds, and doing automatic user rights promotions for the editing user based on their current age and total edit count.

Aaron also implemented the “async write” feature in the multi-backend object cache interface. MediaWiki uses this for storing the parser cache HTML in both Memcached (tier 1) and MySQL (tier 2). The second write now happens post-send.

By re-ordering these tasks to occur post-send, the server can send a response back to the user sooner.

Working with the database, instead of against it

A major category of changes were improvements to database queries. For example, reducing lock contention in SQL, refactoring code in a way that reduces the amount of work done between two write queries in the same transaction, splitting large queries into smaller ones, and avoiding use of database master connections whenever possible.

These optimisations reduced chances of queries being stalled, and allow them to complete more quickly.

Avoid synchronous cache re-computations

The aforementioned work on WANObjectCache also helped a lot. Whenever we converted a feature to use this interface, we reduced the amount of blocking cache computation that happened mid-request. WANObjectCache also performs probabilistic preemptive refreshes of near-expiring values, which can prevent cache stampedes.

Profiling can be expensive

We disabled the performance profiler of the AbuseFilter extension in production. AbuseFilter allows privileged users to write rules that may prevent edits based on certain heuristics. Its profiler would record how long the rules took to inspect an edit, allowing users to optimise them. The way the profiler worked, though, added a significant slow down to the editing process. Work began later in 2016 to create a new profiler, which has since completed.

And more

Lots of small things. Including the fixing of the User object cache which existed but wasn’t working. And avoid caching values in Memcached if computing them is faster than the Memcached latency required to fetch it!

We also improved latency of file operations by switching more LBYL-style coding patterns to EAFP-style code. Rather than checking whether a file exists, is readable, and then checking when it was last modified – do only the latter and handle any errors. This is both faster and more correct (due to LBYL race conditions).


So long, Sajax!

Sajax was a library for invoking a subroutine on the server, and receiving its return value as JSON from client-side JavaScript. In March 2006, it was adopted in MediaWiki to power the autocomplete feature of the search input field.

The Sajax library had a utility for creating an XMLHttpRequest object in a cross-browser-compatible way. MediaWiki deprecated Sajax in favour of jQuery.ajax and the MediaWiki API. Yet, years later in 2015, this tiny part of Sajax remained popular in Wikimedia's ecosystem of community-developed gadgets.

The legacy library was loaded by default on all Wikipedia page views for nearly a decade. During a performance inspection this year, Ori Livneh decided it was high time to finish this migration. Goodbye Sajax!


Further reading

This year also saw the switch to encrypt all Wikimedia traffic with TLS by default. More about that on the Wikimedia blog.

— Timo Tijhof

Moving Plants

09:15, Thursday, 14 2019 February UTC
All humans move plants, most often by accident and sometimes with intent. Humans, unfortunately, are only rarely moved by the sight of exotic plants. 

Unfortunately, the history of plant movements is often difficult to establish. In the past, the only way to tell a plant's homeland was to look for the number of related species in a region to provide clues on their area of origin. This idea was firmly established by Nikolai Vavilov before he was sent off to Siberia, thanks to Stalin's crank-scientist Lysenko, to meet an early death. Today, genetic relatedness of plants can be examined by comparing the similarity of DNA sequences (although this is apparently harder than with animals due to issues with polyploidy). Some recent studies on individual plants and their relatedness have provided insights into human history. A study on baobabs in India and their geographical origins in East Africa established by a study in 2015 and that of coconuts in 2011 are hopefully just the beginnings. These demonstrate ancient human movements which have never received much attention from most standard historical accounts.
Inferred trasfer routes for Baobabs -  source

Unfortunately there are a lot of older crank ideas that can be difficult for untrained readers to separate. I recently stumbled on a book by Grafton Elliot Smith, a Fullerian professor who succeeded J.B.S.Haldane but descended into crankdom. The book "Elephants and Ethnologists" (1924) can be found online and it is just one among several similar works by Smith. It appears that Smith used a skewed and misapplied cousin of Dollo's Law. According to him, cultural innovation tended to occur only once and that they were then carried on with human migrations. Smith was subsequently labelled a "hyperdiffusionist", a disparaging term used by ethnologists. When he saw illustrations of Mayan sculpture he envisioned an elephant where others saw at best a stylized tapir. Not only were they elephants, they were Asian elephants, complete with mahouts and Indian-style goads and he saw this as definite evidence for an ancient connection between India and the Americas! An idea that would please some modern-day Indian cranks and zealots.

Smith's idea of the elephant as emphasised by him.
The actual Stela in question
 "Fanciful" is the current consensus view on most of Smith's ideas, but let's get back to plants. 

I happened to visit Chikmagalur recently and revisited the beautiful temples of Belur on the way. The "Archaeological Survey of India-approved" guide at the temple did not flinch when he described an object in the hand of a carved figure as being maize. He said maize was a symbol of prosperity. Now maize is a crop that was imported to India and by most accounts only after the Portuguese sea incursions into India in 1492. In the late 1990s, a Swedish researcher identified similar  carvings (actually another one at Somnathpur) from 12th century temples in Karnataka as being maize cobs. It was subsequently debunked by several Indian researchers from IARI and from the University of Agricultural Sciences where I was then studying. An alternate view is that the object is a mukthaphala, an imaginary fruit made up of pearls.
Somnathpur carvings. The figures to the
left and right hold the puported cobs in their left hands.
(Photo: G41rn8)

The pre-Columbian oceanic trade ideas however do not end with these two cases from India. The third story (and historically the first, from 1879) is that of the sitaphal or custard apple. The founder of the Archaeological Survey of India, Alexander Cunningham, described a fruit in one of the carvings from Bharhut, a fruit that he identified as custard-apple. The custard-apple and its relatives are all from the New World. The Bharhut Stupa is dated to 200 BC and the custard-apple, as quickly pointed out by others, could only have been in India post-1492. The Hobson-Jobson has a long entry on the custard apple that covers the situation well. In 2009, a study raised the possibility of custard apples in ancient India. The ancient carbonized evidence is hard to evaluate unless one has examined all the possible plant seeds and what remains of their microstructure. The researchers however establish a date of about 2000 B.C. for the carbonized remains and attempt to demonstrate that it looks like the seeds of sitaphal. The jury is still out.
The Hobson-Jobson has an interesting entry on the custard-apple
I was quite surprised that there are not many writings that synthesize and comment on the history of these ideas on the Internet and somewhat oddly I found no mention of these three cases in the relevant Wikipedia article (naturally, fixed now with an entire new section) - pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact theories

There seems to be value for someone to put together a collation of plant introductions to India along with sources, dates and locations of introduction. Some of the old specimens of introduced plants may well be worthy of further study.

Introduction dates
  • Pithecollobium dulce - Portuguese introduction from Mexico to Philippines and India on the way in the 15th or 16th century. The species was described from specimens taken from the Coromandel region (ie type locality outside native range) by William Roxburgh.
  • Eucalyptus globulus? - There are some claims that Tipu planted the first of these (See my post on this topic).  It appears that the first person to move eucalyptus plants (probably E. globulosum) out of Australia was  Jacques Labillardière. Labillardiere was surprized by the size of the trees in Tasmania. The lowest branches were 60 m above the ground and the trunks were 9 m in diameter (27 m circumference). He saw flowers through a telescope and had some flowering branches shot down with guns! (original source in French) His ship was seized by the British in Java and that was around 1795 or so and released in 1796. All subsequent movements seem to have been post 1800 (ie after Tipu's death). If Tipu Sultan did indeed plant the Eucalyptus here he must have got it via the French through the Labillardière shipment.  The Nilgiris were apparently planted up starting with the work of Captain Frederick Cotton (Madras Engineers) at Gayton Park(?)/Woodcote Estate in 1843.
  • Muntingia calabura - when? - I suspect that Tickell's flowerpecker populations boomed after this, possibly with a decline in the Thick-billed flowerpecker.
  • Delonix regia - when?
  • In 1857, Mr New from Kew was made Superintendent of Lalbagh and he introduced in the following years several Australian plants from Kew including Araucaria, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Dalbergia and Casuarina. Mulberry plant varieties were introduced in 1862 by Signor de Vicchy. The Hebbal Butts plantation was establised around 1886 by Cameron along with Mr Rickets, Conservator of Forests, who became Superintendent of Lalbagh after New's death - rain trees, ceara rubber (Manihot glaziovii), and shingle trees(?). Apparently Rickets was also involved in introducing a variety of potato (kidney variety) which got named as "Ricket". -from Krumbiegel's introduction to "Report on the progress of Agriculture in Mysore" (1939) [Hebbal Butts would be the current day Airforce Headquarters)

Further reading
  • Johannessen, Carl L.; Parker, Anne Z. (1989). "Maize ears sculptured in 12th and 13th century A.D. India as indicators of pre-columbian diffusion". Economic Botany 43 (2): 164–180.
  • Payak, M.M.; Sachan, J.K.S (1993). "Maize ears not sculpted in 13th century Somnathpur temple in India". Economic Botany 47 (2): 202–205. 
  • Pokharia, Anil Kumar; Sekar, B.; Pal, Jagannath; Srivastava, Alka (2009). "Possible evidence of pre-Columbian transoceanic voyages based on conventional LSC and AMS 14C dating of associated charcoal and a carbonized seed of custard apple (Annona squamosa L.)" Radiocarbon 51 (3): 923–930. - Also see
  • Veena, T.; Sigamani, N. (1991). "Do objects in friezes of Somnathpur temple (1286 AD) in South India represent maize ears?". Current Science 61 (6): 395–397.
  • Rangan, H., & Bell, K. L. (2015). Elusive Traces: Baobabs and the African Diaspora in South Asia. Environment and History, 21(1):103–133. doi:10.3197/096734015x1418317996982 [The authors however make a mistake in using Achaya, K.T. Indian Food (1994) who in turn cites Vishnu-Mittre's faulty paper for the early evidence of Eleusine coracana in India. Vishnu-Mittre himself admitted his error in a paper that re-examined his specimens - see below]
Dubious research sources
  • Singh, Anurudh K. (2016). "Exotic ancient plant introductions: Part of Indian 'Ayurveda' medicinal system". Plant Genetic Resources. 14(4):356–369. 10.1017/S1479262116000368. [Among the claims here are that Bixa orellana was introduced prior to 1000 AD - on the basis of Sanskrit names which are assigned to that species - does not indicate basis or original dated sources. The author works in the "International Society for Noni Science"! ] 
  • The same author has rehashed this content with several references and published it in no less than the Proceedings of the INSA - Singh, Anurudh Kumar (2017) Ancient Alien Crop Introductions Integral to Indian Agriculture: An Overview. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy 83(3). There is a series of cherry-picked references, many of the claims of which were subsequently dismissed by others or remain under serious question. In one case there is a claim for early occurrence of Eleusine coracana in India - to around 1000 BC. The reference cited is in fact a secondary one - the original work was by Vishnu-Mittre and the sample was rechecked by another bunch of scientist and they clearly showed that it was not even a monocot - in fact Vishnu-Mittre himself accepted the error (the original paper was Vishnu-Mittre (1968). "Protohistoric records of agriculture in India". Trans. Bose Res. Inst. Calcutta. 31: 87–106. and the re-analysis of the samples can be found in - Hilu, K. W.; de Wet, J. M. J.; Harlan, J. R. Harlan (1979). "Archaeobotanical Studies of Eleusine coracana ssp. coracana (Finger Millet)". American Journal of Botany. 66 (3):330–333. Clearly INSA does not have great peer review and have gone with argument by claimed authority.

One of the Performance Team responsibilities at Wikimedia is to keep track of Wikipedias performance. Why is performance important for us? In our case it is easy: We have so many users and if we have a performance regression, we are really affecting people's lives. Maybe you remember our hiring tweet from a couple of years ago?

If we are slow, we waste users time. And we don’t want to do that. That's why we are really serious about the performance of Wikipedia.

Performance metrics

Timo told us that there are two ways of collecting web performance metrics: Directly from our users, called real user measurements (RUM) or in a controlled lab environment (synthetic testing).

Getting metrics from real users is good because they are close to what people really experience. The problem is that:

  • Today's browsers have limited ways of giving us metrics that tell us what the user is experiencing. A couple of browsers have a metric called First Paint (when something is first painted on the screen). But the rest of the metrics are more technical. They tell us how the browser is doing, not what the user is experiencing. Browser vendors are working on this but, at the moment, most performance APIs are focused on technical metrics. And we’re more interested in what our users are experiencing.
  • Metrics from real users have a lot of variation because the users have different conditions: network latency, operating system, browser version, CPU and more. If something changes, how do we know the main reason? Is it our code? Is it something else?
  • There is a lot of noise in the data we collect from real users. To catch a performance regression, it needs to be big enough and affect many users to be visible.

That’s why we also test in a lab environment.

Performance testing in a lab

Testing in a lab means that we are running a desktop computer (or mobile) in an isolated environment where we try to have the environment as stable as possible. That way we hope that we are able to pick up small performance regressions and know why we have that regression.

In a lab environment we have more control and we love control when we want to measure things! We want to make the conditions between tests to be as similar as possible. If we can control the environment, we can find regressions introduced by our code changes.

Testing in a lab environment helps us with:

  • Collecting metrics that are more related to user experience than the technical metrics the browsers provide. In this post we will focus on the specific metrics we get from the lab environment.
  • In a controlled environment that typically provides consistent test results, it is easier to detect regressions. It’s easier to spot smaller regressions than with RUM.
  • Lab testing and RUM are best friends: our synthetic testing improves our confidence in RUM and vice versa. If we see a regression in both types of measurements, we know for sure that it's a real regression.
  • We can see changes very quickly when testing in a lab setting, because the only variable that is changing is the code. Being confident in RUM usually takes more time: you need to have more data to see the change.
  • In a lab setting, we are also able to control when browser versions are updated to new versions, allowing us to detect when browser releases impact user experience. Our users’ browsers auto updates. A new browser version can affect the performance.

But everything isn’t perfect when testing in a lab: We are only testing a small usage group (a specific browser version, specific connection type, one operating system, a couple of URLs). We will miss out on a lot of users scenarios. That’s the big disadvantage of testing in a lab. That’s why it is also important to collect metrics from real users.

Metrics in our lab

One of the things I like with testing in a lab is that we can get more user centered metrics than we can get directly from the browser. We mostly focus on visual metrics.

Visual metrics

Visual metrics are when things that happens within the viewport of the browser that the user can see. We collect these metrics by recording a video of the browser screen and then analyzing the video and calculating the metrics.

What’s good with visual metrics is that it is easy to see and understand and easy to relate. They are the best metrics we have today to know what the user is experiencing.

However visual metrics doesn't tell the full story: Only focusing on visuals we miss out on when the page “feels” ready. What do we mean by "feel"? JavaScript that gets executed after the screen is painted can make the page feel slow/laggy. You try to interact with the page but nothing happens. Today we don’t have a good way to measure that “feeling”, but there have been different attempts in the performance industry to fix that. There is ongoing work on metrics like Time To Interaction and other interaction metrics trying to know when it is possible for the user to interact with the page. But at the moment no browser supports them natively and, in my opinion, these metrics are not yet mature enough to use.

First Visual Change

First visual change is when something is first painted within the viewport of the browser screen. For Wikipedia on desktop this mostly means going from a complete blank screen to something like this:

Depending on your internet connection the first visual change may not include the image. Other than that, this is what the first change looks like for most users. If you have another case, please submit an issue in Phabricator with screenshots and your setup so we can reproduce and add more test cases.

On mobile the first visual change looks something like this:

Showing content (text/images) early is important, since the earlier you can see the text as a reader, the sooner you can start to read and get the information you want.

First visual change also correlates to the RUM metric first paint. We can see that the first visual change and first paint happen at almost the same time. That means that if we see a change in first paint in RUM, we will also see the change in first visual change in synthetic testing.

Speed Index

Speed Index was invented by Patrick Meenan, the creator of WebPageTest:

“The Speed Index is the average time at which visible parts of the page are displayed. It is expressed in milliseconds and dependent on size of the viewport.”

The idea with Speed Index is to measure when the entire content within the browser viewport is ready. Speed Index will be lower if the entire page renders more quickly, but it will also be lower if partial content renders sooner. If two pages finish rendering at the same time, the page that started to render first will have the lowest Speed Index.

We use Speed Index to know when when the page looks ready for the user. However the page can still download assets and run JavaScript, so it could be that the page looks ready but doesn’t feel ready (it’s not responsive if you to click on a link).

Last Visual Change

Last visual change is when everything within the viewport is ready on the screen. It could be images coming in late or JavaScript in one extension changing the layout of the already painted screen.

Here’s an example video. Look to the right of the screen and you will see the map, the sound player and that small coordinates image coming in really late.

We don't act on last visual change today because it is really dependent on what page we test, what browser we use to test the page, and other factors. But it is an important metric: if the page starts to change when you want to interact with it, you will not know if the page is ready to use or not.

Visual Complete 85/95/99

We also collect metrics when the page is 85, 95 and 99% complete. The intent of these metrics is to account for content-related factors that result in changes to overall page load times. For example, when Wikipedia is running fundraising campaigns, there is a donation banner that appears on most pages on the site. These donation banners are intentionally loaded after most of the content has loaded, but they do result in the last visual change being pushed back quite a bit. By measuring the time that it takes for the page to be 85% complete instead, we avoid the variation that this introduces.

Visual Elements

The last one of our visual metrics are the ability to measure when specific elements is painted on the screen. We can get metrics like when is the largest image painted? When is the logo? We have started to collect these metrics in our tools but haven't yet started to act on them.

CPU time spent metrics

Another type of metric that we use in the lab is CPU time spent in the browser. Today we can only get that from Chrome. We configure and collect the event trace log from Chrome and categorise the events on a high level.

We can then see time spent on painting, rendering, scripting and loading. If we get a regression, we can then go down to a lower event level and use that to better understand what is actually happening.

Deviation

One important meta metric that we also collect is the standard deviation of each metric that we collect. That helps us know how stable the metrics we have are and if we need to tune anything in our setup. It also helps us understand if we have certain pages that are extra hard to measure (that have a lot of variation). This is something that I’ll talk about more in my next post, when we discuss the ways that we control our synthetic testing environment.

Page snapshots

Our synthetic testing also helps us with knowing how our pages were constructed at a given time. We collect number of requests, the size of each response, the response type and how the browser downloaded all responses every time we measure a page. That helps us when we find a regression. We can compare the before and after (what did the page look like before the regression?).

We also collect screenshots and videos of what the page looked like at the time we measured the page.

Summary

We focus on visual metrics and CPU time spent metrics in our synthetic testing. The visual metrics give us a better feel for what the user is experiencing than most of the metrics we collect from real users. Our synthetic testing also gives us a snapshot of what the page looked like at the moment we measured it. The problem with synthetic measuring is that we try out only a small portion of users’ different setups.

In the next blog post I will talk about our technical setup, problems we have had, and strategies we are using to get stable metrics.

Production Excellence: January 2019

17:28, Wednesday, 13 2019 February UTC

How’d we do in our strive for operational excellence last month? Read on to find out!

  • Month in numbers.
  • Highlighted stories.
  • Current problems.

📊 Month in numbers

  • 4 documented incidents in January 2019. [1]
  • 16 Wikimedia-prod-error tasks closed. [2]
  • 17 Wikimedia-prod-error tasks created. [3]

*️⃣ Unable to move certain file pages

Xiplus reported that renaming a File page on zh.wikipedia.org led to a fatal database exception. Andre Klapper identified the stack trace from the logs, and Brad (@Anomie) investigated.

The File renaming failed because the File page did not have a media file associated with it (such move action is not currently allowed in MediaWiki). But, while handling this error the code caused a different error. The impact was that the user didn't get informed about why the move failed. Instead, they received a generic error page about a fatal database exception.

@Tgr fixed the code a few hours later, and it was deployed by Roan later that same day.
Thanks! — T213168

*️⃣ DBPerformance regression detected and fixed

During a routine audit of Logstash dashboards, I found a DBPerformance warning. The warning indicated that the limit of 0 for “master connections” was violated. That's a cryptic way of saying it found code in MediaWiki that uses a database master connection on a regular page view.

MediaWiki can have many replica database servers, but there can be only one master database at any given moment. To reduce chances of overload, delaying edits, or network congestion; we make sure to use replicas whenever possible. We usually involve the master only when source data is being changed, or is about to be changed. For example, when editing a page, or saving changes.

As the vast majority of traffic is page views, we have lower thresholds for latency and dependency on page views. In particular, page views may (in the future) be routed to secondary data centres that don’t even have a master DB.

@Tchanders from the Anti-Harassment team investigated the issue, found the culprit, and fixed it in time for the next MediaWiki train. Thanks! — T214735

*️⃣ TemplateData missing in action

@Tacsipacsi and @Evad37 both independently reported the same TemplateData issue. TemplateData powers the template insertion dialog in VisualEditor. It wasn't working for some templates after we deployed the 1.33-wmf.13 branch.

The error was “Argument 1 passed to ApiResult::setIndexedTagName() must be an instance of array, null given”. This means there was code that calls a function with the wrong parameter. For example, the variable name may've been misspelled, or it may've been the wrong variable, or (in this case) the variable didn't exist. In such case, PHP implicitly assumes “null”.

Bartosz (@matmarex) found the culprit. The week before, I made a change to TemplateData that changed the “template parameter order” feature to be optional. This allows users to decide whether VisualEditor should force an order for the parameters in the wikitext. It turned out I forgot to update one of the references to this variable, which still assumed it was always present.

Brad (Anomie) fixed it later that week, and it was deployed the next day. Thanks! — T213953

📈 Current problems

Take a look at the workboard and look for tasks that might need your help. The workboard lists known issues, grouped by the week in which they were first observed.

phabricator.wikimedia.org/tag/wikimedia-production-error

There are currently 188 open Wikimedia-prod-error tasks as of 12 February 2019. (We’ve had a slight increase since November; 165 in December, 172 in January.)

For this month’s edition, I’d like to draw attention to a few older issues that are still reproducible:

  • [2013; Collection extension] Special:Book fatal error for blocked users. T56179
  • [2013; CentralNotice] Fatal error when placeholder key contains a space. T58105
  • [2014; LQT] Fatal error when attempting to view certain threads. T61791
  • [2015; MassMessage] Warning about Invalid message parameters. T93110
  • [2015; Wikibase] Warning “UnresolvedRedirectException” for some pages on Wikidata (and Commons). T93273
💡 Terminology:

A “Fatal error” (or uncaught exception) prevents a user action. For example — a page might display “MWException: Unknown class NotificationCount.”, instead the article content.
A “Warning” (or non-fatal, or PHP error) lets the program continue to display a mostly page regardless. This may cause corrupt, incorrect, or incomplete information to be shown. For example — a user may receive a notification that says “You have (null) new messages”.

🎉 Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who has helped by reporting, investigating, or resolving problems in Wikimedia production. Including: @A2093064@Anomie, @Daimona @Gilles, @He7d3r, @Jdforrester-WMF, @matmarex, @mmodell, @Nikerabbit, @Catrope, @Tchanders, @Tgr, and @thiemowmde.

Thanks!

Until next time,

— Timo Tijhof

👢There's a snake in my boot. Reach for the sky!


Footnotes:

[1] Incidents. — wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:AllPages…

[2] Tasks closed. — phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query…

[3] Tasks created. — phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query…

With a new name and a strategy-focused aim, the Wikimedia Summit (formerly known as the Wikimedia Conference) kicks off next month. Around 200 participants from Wikimedia affiliates, the Wikimedia Foundation, and various committees will head to Berlin from 29–31 March to discuss the future of the Wikimedia movement. The finalized schedule will be published in the coming weeks, but we couldn’t wait to share a preview.

This year’s program will place the spotlight on Wikimedia 2030, the movement strategy process. Via interactive sessions, presentations, and open space forums, participants will assess where we wish the Wikimedia movement to head and what kind of structural changes might be necessary to get there. In short, the 2019 Wikimedia Summit will bring all the work done to date within the movement strategy process into focus.

The movement strategy process and working groups at a glance

The driving question behind the movement strategy process is how do we update our structures and programs so that we can successfully advance in our strategic direction. To help answer this, over 90 members of our global community have formed into nine working groups and have been scoping out the current status of specific thematic areas within the movement.

Each group is researching and collecting data on key elements of our movement and using this to establish a scope, specifically, a set of guiding questions that we wish to seek answers to. These guiding questions will provide the framework for developing recommendations for structural changes needed to become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.

Each working group has dedicated itself to one fundamental thematic area to gain a multi-faceted view of  our movement:

  • Advocacy
  • Capacity building
  • Community health
  • Diversity
  • Partnerships
  • Product and technology
  • Resource allocation
  • Revenue streams
  • Roles and responsibilities

 
The groups are working around the clock, analyzing the present situation of their particular field of inquiry, identifying existing and possible challenges, as well as pinpointing where opportunities may lie.

The aim is to have a draft scoping document for each thematic area ready by the beginning of March. These documents will be refined and polished in community conversations in the lead up to the Wikimedia Summit. After the Summit, the working groups will start to find answers to these guiding questions, tapping into movement knowledge, external expertise, and research. At Wikimania in Stockholm in August 2019, draft recommendations on how the Movement needs to change to successfully strive toward “knowledge as a service” and “knowledge equity” by 2030 will be presented and revised. After the recommendations have been agreed upon by the end of 2019, the implementation of the changes will begin.

Photo by Jason Krüger/Wikimedia Germany, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The scope at the Wikimedia Summit

This year’s Wikimedia Summit at the end of March is where it all comes together—literally. Representatives from each working group will outline their work on their thematic areas so far and engage with the organizational side of the movement. This includes representatives from the Wikimedia Affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation, including the Board of Trustees, Executive Director, and the C-level team.

The start of the Summit will offer attendees a chance to reconnect with each other and with the movement strategy process and discover how they can contribute to it. The program will then dive head first into analysis, with the working groups detailing their investigation of the movement and its outcomes. Following this, the emphasis will shift toward collaboration, with working group members and participants having an opportunity to map out next steps and generate ideas for change.

Share your thoughts!

Everyone is encouraged to provide their input into the movement strategy process and the scope. The more contributions, the more effective and relevant recommendations for structural change will be. There are two key ways to get involved:

  • Connect with working group members from your area, group, or community and offer your support to review their documents or provide your advice
  • Join our online community conversation, which will happen around the Wikimedia Summit, on the Meta-Wiki page, on several language wikis, and also via survey. In this online conversation, you can offer your insight and feedback on the scoping documents.

 
Anna Rees, Project Assistant, International Relations
Wikimedia Germany (Deutschland)

You can learn more about the Wikimedia Summit and about our movement strategy process.

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of Janeen Uzzell as Chief Operating Officer. Janeen joins the Foundation after 16 years of executive leadership at General Electric (GE), most recently as GE’s head of Women in Technology, where she worked with GE’s global CEOs to increase the number of women in technical roles across their 300,000 person workforce.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by around 1.5 billion unique devices every month. The Wikimedia Foundation is driven by its vision of building a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

“Janeen is a powerful leader with a drive to serve people and communities,” said Katherine Maher, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “I am looking forward to working with her as a partner in achieving our strategic goals. She will play a vital role in positioning the organization for success as we continue to serve our global community into 2030 and beyond.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Janeen will direct the operations of the Wikimedia Foundation’s critical programs, ensuring resources are utilized to best achieve its free knowledge mission. She will partner with the executive leadership team to ensure the organization’s effective planning and execution against key strategic goals, and with the Executive Director to support Wikimedia’s global strategic plan, known as Wikimedia 2030.

Prior to Janeen’s role as GE’s head of Women in Technology, she led operations and business development at the Company’s Global Research Center within the External Affairs & Technology Programs Organization, and before that, she spent five years as Director of Healthcare Programs for GE Africa, based in Accra, Ghana. She also served as the Director of Global Healthcare Programs, Director of Healthcare Disparity Programs, and Director of Service Operations for GE. During her tenure she led multiple company-wide initiatives, resulting in numerous culture shifts and new business models and products.

Throughout her career, Janeen has worked to build transformative partnerships, collaborated with global movements, and cultivated networks of local, national, and global leaders. She has successfully helped people and organizations transform ideas into practical, usable, and scalable solutions. Janeen has been recognized numerous times for her efforts, including being named as one of the Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business as well as being a “40-Under-40” Business Leadership Award recipient, the United Nations Global Leadership Award, and the GE African American Forum’s Icon Leadership Award.

“After a successful career supporting collaborative, global projects, I am thrilled to be joining the Foundation to use my influence and voice to lead work that can change lives, communities and the world,” Janeen said. “Wikipedia is a perfect example of the potential that can be achieved when we pair technology with the challenges faced by a growing global society. I am excited to have the opportunity to support a community working to use technology to break down cultural divides and expose people from all backgrounds and locations to the power of instant access to the world’s collective knowledge.”

Janeen has Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and  a Master of Business Administration in International Business from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  She serves on the board for the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and is an advisor to the Intervarsity National Believers in Business Collegiate Organization. In her spare time, Janeen enjoys live music, spending time with her family and serving her community. She will be based between San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 has come to an end and has shown us many different ways of how culture and different aspects of European culture are central to all our lives and how cultural heritage belongs to all of us. Operating with the slogan “Sharing Heritage”, Wikimedia Deutschland has participated in this Europe-wide project in cooperation with the German National Committee for Monument Protection (Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK)) to show that cultural heritage is something that belongs very much in the modern-day lives and in the Wikimedia movement.

One aspect of the WMDE implemented project called “Wiki Loves Monuments goes ECHY 2018” has been to issue a special award within the Wiki Loves Monuments 2018 contest for pictures that show an interesting perspective on European cultural heritage. The Special Award wants to draw attention to the value of European Cultural Heritage and enhance the understanding for the subjects of European cultural history, monuments, as well as the Wikimedia projects. By allowing global submissions and inviting everyone to deal with European culture in a creative way, the project is supposed to help foster a better understanding on European culture across borders.

We are now very happy to announce the winners of the Special Award for European Heritage. The choice has been made in line with the judgement of the international WLM jury for the 3 best European pictures.

1st prize
Christopher JT Cherrington
Gloucester Cathedral (United Kingdom)

For Wikimedia Deutschland, the picture represents traditional European culture themes with its reference to church and religion. We also appreciate the special angle of the viewer, which very much corresponds to another focus of our activities in the EYCH project, which was panorama photography

Christopher’s relation to European cultural heritage and the Gloucester Cathedral takes the form of singing classical music, often in large concert halls, but also in churches and cathedrals.

I am a member of both the Philharmonia Chorus (London) and the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus (Poole, UK) as well as several smaller, more occasional choirs. Indeed, it was at one such event that I found myself singing in Gloucester Cathedral in mid-2017, a magnificent place about 50 km from my home. Having very recently taken up digital photography in a serious, though still amateur way, this encouraged me to revisit for a photography day to try to capture something of the Gothic splendour of the place, particularly the Cloisters, recently made even more famous by the Harry Potter movies.

I am so fortunate to be in a position to be able to combine my love of and participation in choral music with my hobby of photography. I have recently performed in Siena, Tuscany and Morella, Spain in some magnificent Basilicas which, in addition to being wonderful places to sing, offer fantastic photographic opportunities as well. Indeed, in the early part of 2019, I will be performing the Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts in St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), Verdi’s Requiem in King’s College Chapel (Cambridge), Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Ressurection” in L’auditorium du Nouveau Siècle (Lille), a selection of Italian renaissance music in the Basilica dell’Osservanza (Siena) and possibly a programme of Renaissance polyphonic music in Regensburg Cathedral (Germany). It goes without saying that I will be taking my camera!

2nd prize
Marian Naworski
Power Plant in Łódź (Poland)

As opposed to the first place with its tradition, the power plant in Łódź represents for us more the progress and industrial development in Europe. It “captures the interconnectedness of Europe’s industrial heritage” as one of the judges has put it.

Marian feels that cultural heritage is a very important part of all our lives and that it plays an important role building the future of Europe.

As a photographer, I try to immortalize monuments or factories that no longer work. In such places you can feel the spirit of a bygone era. Beautiful handmade items or decorations deserve special attention. Photography allows future generations to see their story. It is important to protect […] Cultural Heritage for future generations. Heritage evolves all the time so it connects people of different generations or religious denominations. I will support the heritage with all available means.

3rd prize
Mikhail Prokhorov
Church and Bridge close to the Kenozersky National Park (Russia)

The bridge being the main focus of this picture makes us think of connections and how this is especially relevant for Europe, its diverse pool of cultures and states and how sharing culture can be a major driver for connecting people.

Mikhail especially concerns himself with preserving heritage in Europe, especially in Russia, and with drawing attention to unknown and neglected monuments.

This monument has made lasting impression on me and gave me a mixed feeling – it was beautiful and tragic simultaneously. Many monuments of European heritage (especially in Russia), such as this one, are almost unknown. In recent years, people began to look for their roots, being interested in the culture of the country in which they live. I want to show unknown Russian culture to as many people as possible and to draw attention to an urgent problem – many monuments, wooden churches and chapels, have vanished in the last 25 years. We, the people, can save them together, so that our children can see them “alive” and not only on photocards. Much is to be done, many monuments have to be saved and I am deeply convinced that resources from Wikimedia, Europa.eu and photo contests like Wiki Loves Monuments, can help achieve this goal. I love European culture, especially monuments in its northern regions. I’ve been searching for a place, where I can rest from the bustle of living in big cities, and the Russian North is one of them. It is the place where a man has to challenge many difficulties, but it also strengthens his spirit and will. I’ve tried to express my deep feelings in pictures like this about my fear for the future of many monuments like this one. Without help, sooner or later they will all perish. For whom the bell tolls!

We are very glad to see such a wide variety of monuments in the 2018 WLM contest and to be able to experience all those different perspectives on European cultural heritage that each tell a different story and yet bring us together.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage has been a very fruitful year for Wikimedia Deutschland and our partners and the volunteers of the Wikimedia projects which helped us to implement activities in various areas. With encouraging volunteers to use photography of 360 degree panoramas, we wanted to offer an opportunity to create new and innovative perspectives on monuments. We furthermore concentrated our activities on enabling and inspiring young people as well as volunteers who have not realized yet any projects in cooperation with GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) to involve the Wikimedia movement in the issues of monuments and monument protection in the long term.

We want to thank all the photographers that participated in Wiki Loves Monuments 2018!

Much appreciation is also due to the organizers and the jury of the national and international Wiki Loves Monuments contest which made our efforts possible.

WLM goes EYCH Project Team
Wikimedia Deutschland

The black-and-white film flickers as a wealthy young woman, sitting on a bench in a garden, bats her eyes at the gardener’s son she is not allowed to marry. In her self-portrait, an artist wears masculine clothes against a bleak urban backdrop, dark eyes meeting the viewer’s gaze from the shadow of a broad-brimmed riding hat. An anarchist writes to a German physician, “I have been familiar with your great work on sex psychology for a number of years. I have admired the brave struggle you have made for the rights of people who can not find sex expression in what is commonly called the ‘normal way.’ ”

These cultural artifacts—B.P. Schulberg’s Maytime, Romaine Brooks’ self-portrait, and Emma Goldman’s letter, among many others—have one important thing in common: until this January, they were locked behind the iron bars of restrictive copyrights. 2019 marked the expiration of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which kept media made in 1923 from entering the public domain in the United States until now.

On 25 January, revelers celebrated this year’s windfall for the commons at the San Francisco headquarters of the Internet Archive (the nonprofit digital library hosting millions of free books, music, and other resources). The Wikimedia Foundation joined in, hosting a booth called “How Well Do You Know the Public Domain?” The celebratory event, titled “The Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain,” featured 1920s-themed musical performances, food, and even attire.

The Wikimedia Foundation's booth: “How well do you know the public domain?” Photo by Joey Vangsness/Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0.

In our content-saturated times, it might seem odd to be so excited about more free media. But the speakers at “Grand Re-Opening” pointed out that this is about more than all the movies, books, paintings, and other cultural artifacts that are now publicly available. Duke University law professor James Boyle, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, argued that Congress’s decision to extend the term of copyright “was a sweeping restriction of speech”—speech like all the creative work that could have existed if only work from 1923 had come into the public domain earlier. “Take it from Disney,” said Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Center of the Study of the Public Domain. “They’ve made one or two movies inspired by work in the public domain.” (The Three Musketeers, Mulan, and A Christmas Carol, to name a few.)

We may never know what television adaptations, remixes, collages, or other forms of art reliant on borrowed elements could have been. Waiting for copyrights to expire is a race against the inevitable degradation wrought by time—and usually, it’s a race we lose. Duke lecturer Michael Wolfe stated in his talk that around 70% of material from 1923 is lost because of once-common practices like destroying unprofitable media to eschew storage costs, re-recording over old tapes, and plain old rot.

Michael Wolfe pointing to “Survival status of American silent feature films by year and format.” Photo by Joey Vangsness/Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Luckily, there are people and organizations advocating every day for the public domain. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig discussed political challenges and said, “We must fight, and fight, and fight again, because we are on the right side of history,” closing his speech to a standing ovation. Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley asked the audience to shift focus from individual achievement to collective power—like the kind of power that continues to build Wikipedia.

Ben Vershbow, the Wikimedia Foundation's Director of Community Programs, presenting onstage. Photo by Joey Vangsness/Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0.

Ben Vershbow, director of community programs at the Wikimedia Foundation, spoke onstage about the importance of the public domain and how it is defined around the world. “There is no singular, global, wholly seamless public domain,” he said. “There are many jurisdictional definitions, making a universal claim risky. I’m now grappling with how public domain functions in the international community of Wikimedia.” Local Wikimedia communities need a more straightforward process to determine if materials are available in their country’s public domain as well as globally, Vershbow said. “What should be the most frictionless part of our digital culture can sometimes be the most confusing to engage. We need to ask ourselves: what shared set of tools we need to build collectively to advance the public domain?”

You probably won’t see the grand re-opening of the public domain in cable news headlines or Instagram influencers’ stories. Some might view these resources newly available to the public as dusty artifacts, only interesting to professional archivists. But that’s an old way of looking at cultural knowledge, as dead on arrival: as if media stops generating, inspiring, and evolving the moment it hits a screen, canvas, or page. In truth, our past informs our present and our future; the works of decades past have the capacity to surprise and delight us. Just consider Paul Soulellis, a Rhode Island artist and educator who set up shop in the weeks leading up to the Grand Re-Opening as the Internet Archive’s Artist-in-Residence. Soulellis writes on the Internet Archive blog, “It’s crucial that we carefully examine our archives and search for lost voices, stories of failure, non-linear trajectories, and other non-conventional perspectives.” To that end, he compiled historical LGBTQ content from the public domain for the project QUEER.ARCHIVE.WORK/2, pulling together poems, stories, artwork, and letters to create a vivid illustration of queer life and love that resonates with modern viewers. Projects like these, and all the lively speeches and demos at the Internet Archive’s celebration, show that the wealth of media entering the public domain isn’t just an invitation to consume. It’s an invitation to create.

There’s a treasure trove of knowledge, lived experience, and art from over nine decades ago at your fingertips. What will you make?

Adora Svitak, Communications Fellow
Wikimedia Foundation

This blog post has been edited to clarify that 1923-published media entered the public domain in the United States. Copyright laws around the world vary widely; see Wikimedia Commons’ copyright rules by territory for a mostly comprehensive overview.

A peek at ogv.js updates

02:08, Monday, 11 2019 February UTC

Between other projects, I’ve done a little maintenance on our ogv.js WebM player shim for Safari and IE. This should go out next week as 1.6.0 and should remain compatible with 1.5.x but has a lot of internals refactoring.

Experimental features

This release include an experimental AV1 video decoder using the dav1d library, based on ePirat’s initial work getting it to build with emscripten. This is an initial test, and needs to be brought back up to date with upstream, optimized, etc.

Also included are multithreaded VP8 and VP9 decoders, brought back from the past thanks to emscripten landing updated support and browsers getting closer to re-enabling SharedArrayBuffer. Performance on 2-core and 4+-core machines is encouraging in Firefox and Chrome with flags enabled, but cannot yet be tested in Safari.

SD videos scale over 2 cores reasonably well, with a solid 50% or more decoding speed boost visible. HD can scale over 4 cores, with about 200% speed boost.

Threading must be manually opted in. The AV1 decoder is not yet threaded.

Low-end performance work

In Internet Explorer 11, performance is weaker across the board versus other browsers because its JS engine is an old, frozen version that’s not been optimized for asm.js or WebAssembly. In addition, machines where people are running IE 11 are probably more likely to be older, slower machines.

I did some optimization work which greatly improves perceived playback performance of a 120p WebM VP9/Opus file on my slowest test machine, a 1.67 GHz Atom netbook tablet from 2012 or so.

  • more aggressively selecting software YCbCr-RGB conversion when WebGL is going to be worse
  • Microoptimizations to conversion and extraction of YCbCr data from heap
  • Replaced timer-based audio packet consolidation with buffer-size-based one
  • Tuned audio communication with Flash to reduce calls, per-call overhead
  • Increased number of buffered audio and video frames to survive short pauses better
  • Fix for dropping of individual frames when an adjacent decoded frame is available

I don’t think there’s a lot left to be done in optimizing VP9 decoding for IE; the largest components in profiling at low resolutions are now things like vpx_convolve8_c which really would benefit from integer multiplication and just not being so darn slow… I tried a replacement function micro-optimizing to factor out common additions and bit-shifts in the generated emscripten code but it didn’t seem to make any difference; either that’s the one bit the IE optimizer catches anyway or the bit-shifts are so cheap compared to the memory accesses and multiplications that it just makes no measurable difference. :P

Ah well! This is why I started producing files down to 120p, to handle the super-slow cases.

What is important is making sure that it plays audio smoothly, which it’s now better at than before. And in production we’ll probably add a notice for slow decoding recommending picking another browser…

Refactoring

I’ve also started refactoring work in preparation for future changes to support MSE-style buffering, needed for adaptive bitrate streaming.

Instead of a hodge-podge of closure functions and local variables, I’ve transitioned to using ES6 modules and classes, with a babel transform step for ES5 compatibility.

This helps distinguish retained state vs local variables, makes it easier to find state when debugging, and generally makes things easier to work with in the source. More cleanup still needs to be done in the larger processing functions and the various state vars, but it’s an improvement so far.

When you want to expose a particular subject, any subject, in Wikidata. This is the quick and dirty way to expose much of what there is to know. There are a few caveats. The first is that the aim is not to be complete, the second that it is biased towards scientists who are open about their work at ORCiD.

You start with a paper, a scientist. They have an DOI / ORCiD identifier and, they may already be in Wikidata. First there is the discovery process of the available literature and the authors involved. The SourceMD tool is key; with a SPARQL query or with a QID per line, you run a process that will update publications by adding missing authors or it will add missing publications and missing authors to known publications.

When you treat this as an iterative process, more authors and publications become known. When you run the same process for (new) co-authors, more publications and authors become known that are relevant to your subject.

To review your progress, you use Scholia. it has multiple modes that help you gain an understanding of authors, papers, subjects, publications, institutions.. You will see the details evolve. NB mind the lag Wikidata takes to update its database. It is not instant gratification.

A few observations, your aim may be to be "complete" but publications are added all the time and the same is true for scientists. People increasingly turn to ORCiD for a persistent identifier for their work. The real science is in designating a subject to a paper. Arguably the subject may be in the name of the article but as an approach it is a bit coarse. I leave that to you as your involvement makes you a subject "specialist".
Thanks,
       GerardM

weeklyOSM 446

15:13, Saturday, 09 2019 February UTC

29/01/2019-04/02/2019

Logo

Open Camping Map by Sven Geggus 1 | © Sven Geggus © Map data OpenStreetMap contributors

Mapping

  • After his first proposal to add stores which sell top-ups for prepaid services such as phones or public transport failed, Danysan has reworked the proposal and is giving it another try.
  • An isthmus is a narrow strip of land, bordered by water on both sides and connecting two larger land masses. Contributer SelfishSeahorse suggests using natural=isthmus to tag it.
  • Andrew from Apple shares on several mailing lists, including Ecuador, Chile and Turkey, that they have created multiple tasks on MapRoulette. These tasks are determined using Apple’s data analysis tool Atlas. Amongst the tasks created he mentions about creating tasks for correcting intersections of buildings and roads and overlapping lanes.
  • The Brumadinho dam disaster, a dam failure that caused at least 157 deaths, was reflected in OSM two days after the catastrophe. Simon Gascoin describes how he investigated the extent of the mudflow using Sentinel-2 imagery and noticed that OSM was already up-to-date. This Twitter message shows the extent of the disaster.
  • Mapillary have added another 42 different features which are detected automatically from contributors’ photos.
  • Some OSM mappers go the extra distance in mapping. HonourableNath travelled to Yaguine at a time when rivers were flooding. Her post (automatic translation) on the OSM Mali blog shows some of these travel modes, as well as the before-and-after mapping of the area.

Community

  • Frederik Ramm’s question as to whether there should be ethical standards for corporate members has not yet received an answer. It is probably easier to discuss the question in advance of any specific case arising.
  • The ‘Mapper of the Month’ chosen by OpenStreetMap Belgium is Guirec Halflants a.k.a. Correcaminos604 from Belgium.
  • Tigerfell published his thoughts about what information should be kept for documenting the history of OSM and invites you to join the discussion.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The Board has not yet published its reasons for deciding on borders in Crimea. Martin Koppenhoefer puts this topic back on the agenda.
  • Discussions about the 101 membership applications of GlobalLogic from India continue unabated.

Events

  • Paul Desgranges gave a talk on 29th January at the Floss Conference in Grenoble introducing the participative mapping project OpenStreetMap!
  • Thomas Rupprecht announced the first OSM “Stammtisch” for OSM communities in the Wiener Becken. The first meeting will be on 28th February at the Leobersdorf maker space,
  • FOSDEM 2019 in Brussels took place on 2nd and 3rd February 2019. The program for the Geospatial devroom, which was started a few years ago, was made available. Almost all talks were recorded.

Humanitarian OSM

  • As part of the EuYoutH_OSM Erasmus+ Project Ciaran Staunton provided training to students from Portmarnock Community School on using an LG360ActionCAM and Mapillary in preparation for their humanitarian mapping trip to Lesotho in February.
  • Ramani Huria blogs about the collection of soil samples across Dar es Salaam on a 2 km grid by community members. The samples were assessed professionally and the data will be used to underpin flood hazard modelling.
  • HOT’s website features an article about Tanzania’s first patient origin tracking system. It explains why the origin of a patient matters and how HOT helps to improve the situation.
  • The HOT website hosts two articles from a 15 year old student who got mobile phones provided to the Peruvian GAL School by a NetHope and HOTOSM device grant. In the two articles Ana Paula Figueroa and Abril Gomez describe why they decided to record all sexist advertising and the reasons for analysing the degree of sexism that is generally accepted by Peruvian society, and how they proceeded to achieve that goal.
  • The Toronto Observer describes in an article how volunteer Torontonians helped some of the most vulnerable communities in the world in Nigeria at a mapathon organised by Missing Maps held at the Toronto headquarters of Doctors Without Borders.
  • The United Nations, in this case the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS), which has been active in Somalia for many years, has recently developed a mapping initiative for the country, which is to serve peacekeeping and conflict prevention. In an unusual step for the UN, the organisation has decided to process all data provided directly in OpenStreetMap and thus support all humanitarian institutions. The first project of this initiative is described in the OSM wiki in detail. The HOT Tasking Manager will be used for managing this project. The first public mapathon will take place in Italy at the FOSS4G-IT 2019, as Alessandro P. posted on the Talk-it mailing list.

Maps

  • Disappointed by the mapping quality of camping grounds in OpenStreetMap and having in mind that often only an appropriate special interest map helps to improve the situation, Sven Geggus started Open Camping Map. In a blog post he explains some further details about his motivation and some technical info.
  • If you are looking for a restaurant with vegan or vegetarian offerings, this online map and this Android app make sure you don’t go home hungry.

switch2OSM

  • Lesson learned: “… it’s better to put it right on OpenStreetMap,” writes FragDenStaat, a German NGO in their blog. They explain this in detail and describe their way from Yelp via Google to OpenStreetMap. Recommended for imitation. (automatic translation)

Open Data

  • Christoph Grenz created (automatic translation) a nice website that displays information from the city of Bonn’s open data portal on a slippy map with additional functions such as edit with JOSM links and comparisons between the datasets and OSM.
  • thinkWhere is developing a portal to improve access to official European geospatial open data. The company has partnered with EuroGeographics, an umbrella organisation representing 63 European state organisations such as the UK Ordnance Survey.

Licences

  • The Open Data Institute published a guide to licences for geodata. Although it mainly targets commonly sourced UK geospatial data, it covers OSM’s licence as well and compares the major licences for (British) Ordnance Survey data with Google’s proprietary one.

Software

  • OSMF’s local chapter in Germany, FOSSGIS, is now operating (automatic translation) the Open Source Routing Machine (OSRM) based routing backend for OSM’s main website. The BSD licensed routing engine, hosted on two servers, calculates the routing graphs and provide the requested route directions. Like the Graphhopper service, which is provided by the company Graphhopper, OSRM gives directions for cars, bicycles and pedestrians.

Programming

  • For many years Richard Fairhurst has silently managed the API key for Bing Imagery on OSM. He is now asking on Github for someone else to take on the arduous task of wrangling Bing’s bureaucracy, in order to ensure that imagery continues to be available in all editors.
  • Bryan Housel’s tweet reminds possible mentors or people who want to suggest a project for the Google Summer of Code to visit the GSoC wiki site.
  • GTFS feeds, i.e. timetable data for public transport and associated geographical information such as stops, often do not include geodata about the routes. Thanks to the open source tool pfaedle, by Patrick Brosi from the University of Freiburg, these data can now be enriched using OSM data. The MITFAHR|DE|ZENTRALE offers the enriched GTFS feeds for Baden-Württemberg for download. The tweet of MITFAHR|DE|ZENTRALE, which draws attention to this service, also points to the theoretical background of the map matching.

Releases

  • openstreetbrowser.org’s recent update allows you to filter category results by certain criteria. For example, you can now filter by Italian restaurants.

Did you know …

  • … the nicely written manual on how to find your way around the OSM universe as a beginner and how to make your first edits? Created by Volker Gringmuth aka kreuzschnabel, the comprehensive manual describes the OSM basics, the data model and what help is available for the first edits, and at the end it touches on relations and JOSM plug-ins.
  • street-patterns a tutorial on using OpenStreetMap road data to make physical visualizations using Fablab equipment?
  • OSM SEED, a collection of Docker files that allows you to run your own OSM microcosm. This can be useful if you want to add your own data to a closed data pool, for example, for planning scenarios in a city administration or for training. A presentation is available on YouTube.

OSM in the media

  • The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published recently Cultural Gems, an OpenStreetMap based service to help tourist to find “cultural gems” in European cities. The Dundee Evening Telegraph is amused by the fact that the city’s toilets are registered as “worth seeing”.
  • A local media outlet interviews Franco Benedetti (@mweper) (automatic translation) from Funes, Argentina, and tells how the city map has been greatly improved.
  • The Yorkshire Post explains why Google’s recent price hike is the reason that many apps, with Adobe Lightroom being the most prominent example, have stopped working properly. The article also explains why reliance on free Google services is a bad thing and predicts that OSM will gain an ever-increasing importance.

Other “geo” things

  • The British House of Lords discussed if digital mapping restrictions should be imposed. Owen Boswarva summarised the discussion on Twitter with Lords are concerned that “a foreign-owned company that bases its services on Russian mapping software” is “pinpointing our civil infrastructure” with a “major high-definition survey”. Lord Wallace of Saltaire pointed to the interesting fact that “… a suspicious foreigner taking pictures of houses would have been stopped by some doughty Britain such as Mark Francois and challenged in case he was a German”. The issue with overeager Germans mapping the world is apparently much older than OSM.
  • House of Commons Library (UK) has created a set of neighbourhood names for every Middle-Layer Super Output Area (MSOA) in England and Wales — and they want to borrow your local knowledge to help correct and improve it.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Helsinki Missing Maps Mapathon at Finnish Red Cross HQ – Feb 2019 2019-02-07 finland
Dresden Stammtisch Dresden 2019-02-07 germany
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-07 france
San José Civic Hack Night & Map Night 2019-02-07 united states
Berlin 128. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2019-02-08 germany
Ulm ÖPNV-Mapathon Ulm 2019-02-09 germany
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Zurich OSM Stammtisch Zurich 2019-02-11 switzerland
Toronto Mappy Hour 2019-02-11 canada
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2019-02-12 france
Salt Lake City SLC Mappy Hour 2019-02-12 united states
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2019-02-13 germany
Barcelona Mapes i Birres Febrer (Trobada d’usuaris d’OpenStreetMap)[1] 2019-02-15 spain
Taipei OSM x Wikidata #1 2019-02-18 taiwan
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2019-02-19 germany
Derby East Midlands Pub meetup 2019-02-19 england
Salt Lake City SLC Map Night 2019-02-19 united states
Reading Missing Maps Reading Mapathon 2019-02-19 uk
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2019-02-19 germany
Mumble Creek OpenStreetMap Foundation public board meeting 2019-02-20 everywhere
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2019-02-20 germany
Padua FOSS4G-IT 2019 (OSMit2019) 2019-02-20-2019-02-24 italy
Salt Lake City SLUG meeting (with OSM presentation) 2019-02-21 united states
Greater Vancouver area Metrotown mappy Hour 2019-02-22 canada
Biella Incontro mensile 2019-02-23 italy
Manila 【MapaTime!】 @ co.lab 2019-02-23 philippines
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2019 2019-02-23-2019-02-24 germany
Rennes Créer ses propres cartes avec uMap 2019-02-24 france
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2019-02-25 germany
Digne-les-Bains Conférence « Communs numériques – Cartes sensibles » 2019-02-26 france
Düsseldorf Stammtisch 2019-02-27 germany
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2019-02-28 germany
Leoberdorf Leobersdorfer Stammtisch 2019-02-28 austria
Montrouge Rencontre des contributeurs de Montrouge et alentours 2019-02-28 france
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Dresden FOSSGIS 2019 2019-03-13-2019-03-16 germany
Portmarnock Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-03-25-2019-03-29 ireland
Montpellier State of the Map France 2019 2019-06-14-2019-06-16 france
Angra do Heroísmo Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-06-24-2019-06-29 portugal
Edinburgh FOSS4GUK 2019 2019-09-18-2019-09-21 united kingdom
Heidelberg Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-09-18-2019-09-23 germany
Heidelberg HOT Summit 2019 2019-09-19-2019-09-20 germany
Heidelberg State of the Map 2019 (international conference) 2019-09-21-2019-09-23 germany
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, Guillaume Rischard, SunCobalt, TheFive, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia.

This Month in GLAM issues

14:01, Saturday, 09 2019 February UTC

Creating a Dockerfile for the Wikibase Registry

16:45, Friday, 08 2019 February UTC

Currently the Wikibase Registry(setup post) is deployed using the shoehorning approach described in one of my earlier posts. After continued discussion on the Wikibase User Group Telegram chat about different setups and upgrade woes I have decided to convert the Wikibase Registry to use the prefered approach of a custom Dockerfile building a layer on top of one of the wikibase images.

I recently updated updated the Wikibase registry from Mediawiki version 1.30 to 1.31 and described the process in a recent post, so if you want to see what the current setup and docker-compose file looks like, head there.

As a summary the Wikibase Registry uses:

  • The wikibase/wikibase:1.31-bundle image from docker hub
  • Mediawiki extensions:
    • ConfirmEdit
    • Nuke

Creating the Dockerfile

Our Dockerfile will likely end up looking vaugly similar to the wikibase base and bundle docker files, with a fetching stage, possible composer stage and final wikibase stage, but we won’t have to do anything that is already done in the base image.

FROM ubuntu:xenial as fetcher
# TODO add logic
FROM composer as composer
# TODO add logic
FROM wikibase/wikibase:1.31-bundle
# TODO add logic

Fetching stage

Modifying the logic that is used in the wikibase Dockerfile the extra Wikibase Registry extensions can be fetched and extracted.

Note that I am using the convenience script for fetching Mediawiki extensions from the wikibase-docker git repo matching the version of Mediawiki I will be deploying.

FROM ubuntu:xenial as fetcher

RUN apt-get update && \
    apt-get install --yes --no-install-recommends unzip=6.* jq=1.* curl=7.* ca-certificates=201* && \
    apt-get clean && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

ADD https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wmde/wikibase-docker/master/wikibase/1.31/bundle/download-extension.sh /download-extension.sh

RUN bash download-extension.sh ConfirmEdit;\
bash download-extension.sh Nuke;\
tar xzf ConfirmEdit.tar.gz;\
tar xzf Nuke.tar.gz

Composer stage

None of these extensions require a composer install, so there will be no composer step in this example. If Nuke for example required a composer install, the stage would look like this.

FROM composer as composer
COPY --from=fetcher /Nuke /Nuke
WORKDIR /Nuke
RUN composer install --no-dev

Wikibase stage

The Wikibase stage needs to pull in the two fetched extensions and make any other modifications to the resulting image.

In my previous post I overwrote the entrypoint to something much simpler removing logic to do with ElasticSearch that the Registry is not currently using. In my Dockerfile I have simplified this even further inlining the creation of a simple 5 line entrypoint, overwriting what was provided by the wikibase image.

I have left the default LocalSettings.php in the image for now, and I will continue to override this with a docker-compose.yml volume mount over the file. This avoid the need to rebuild the image when all you want to do is tweak a setting.

FROM wikibase/wikibase:1.31-bundle

COPY --from=fetcher /ConfirmEdit /var/www/html/extensions/ConfirmEdit
COPY --from=fetcher /Nuke /var/www/html/extensions/Nuke

RUN echo $'#!/bin/bash\n\
set -eu\n\
/wait-for-it.sh $DB_SERVER -t 120\n\
sleep 1\n\
/wait-for-it.sh $DB_SERVER -t 120\n\
docker-php-entrypoint apache2-foreground\n\
' > /entrypoint.sh

If the composer stage was used to run a composer command on something that was fetched then you would likely need to COPY that extension –from the composer layer rather than the fetcher layer.

Building the image

I’m going to build the image on the same server that the Wikibase Registry is running on, as this is the simplest option. More complicated options could involve building in some Continuous Integration pipeline and publishing to an image registry such as Docker Hub.

I chose the descriptive name “Dockerfile.wikibase.1.31-bundle” and saved the file alongside my docker-compose.yml file.

There are multiple approaches that could now be used to build and deploy the image.

  1. I could add a build configuration to my docker-compose file specifying the location of the Dockerfile as described here then building the service image using docker-compose as described here.
  2. I could build the image separate to docker-compose, giving it an appropriate name and then simply use that image name (which will exist on the host) in the docker-compose.yml file

I’m going with option 2.

docker build --tag wikibase-registry:1.31-bundle-1 --pull --file ./Dockerfile.wikibase.1.31-bundle .

docker build documentation can be found here. The command tells docker to build an image from the “Dockerfile.wikibase.1.31-bundle” file, pulling new versions of any images being used and giving the image the name “wikibase-registry” with tag “1.31-bundle-1”

The image should now be visible in the docker images list for the machine.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker images | grep wikibase-registry
wikibase-registry         1.31-bundle-1       e5dad76c3975        8 minutes ago       844MB

Deploying the new image

In my previous post I migrated from one image to another having two Wikibase containers running at the same time with different images.

For this image change however I’ll be going for more of a “big bang” approach and I’m pretty confident.

The current wikibase service definition can be seen below. This includes volumes for the entry point, extensions, LocalSettings and images, some of which I can now get rid of. Also I have removed the requirement for most of these environment variables by using my own entrypoint file and overriding LocalSettings entirely.

wikibase-131:
    image: wikibase/wikibase:1.31-bundle
    restart: always
    links:
      - mysql
    ports:
     - "8181:80"
    volumes:
      - mediawiki-images-data:/var/www/html/images
      - ./LocalSettings.php:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php:ro
      - ./mw131/Nuke:/var/www/html/extensions/Nuke
      - ./mw131/ConfirmEdit:/var/www/html/extensions/ConfirmEdit
      - ./entrypoint.sh:/entrypoint.sh
    depends_on:
    - mysql
    environment:
      MW_ADMIN_NAME: "XXXX"
      MW_ADMIN_PASS: "XXXX"
      MW_SITE_NAME: "Wikibase Registry"
      DB_SERVER: "XXXX"
      DB_PASS: "XXXX"
      DB_USER: "XXXX"
      DB_NAME: "XXXX"
      MW_WG_SECRET_KEY: "XXXX"
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wikibase.svc
         - wikibase-registry.wmflabs.org

The new service definition has an updated image name, removed redundant volumes and reduced environment variables (DB_SERVER is still used as it is needed in the entrypoint I added).

wikibase-131:
    image: wikibase-registry:1.31-bundle-1
    restart: always
    links:
      - mysql
    ports:
     - "8181:80"
    volumes:
      - mediawiki-images-data:/var/www/html/images
      - ./LocalSettings.php:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php:ro
    depends_on:
    - mysql
    environment:
      DB_SERVER: "mysql.svc:3306"
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wikibase.svc
         - wikibase-registry.wmflabs.org

For the big bang switchover I can simply reload the service.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose up -d wikibase-131
wikibase-registry_mysql_1 is up-to-date
Recreating wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1 ... done

Using the docker-compose images command I can confirm that it is now running from my new image.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose images | grep wikibase-131
wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1    wikibase-registry        1.31-bundle-1   e5dad76c3975   805 MB

Final thoughts

  • This should probably be documented in the wikibase-docker git repo which everyone seems to find, and also in the README for the wikibase image.
  • It would be nice if there were a single place to pull the download-extension.sh script from, perhaps with a parameter for version?

The post Creating a Dockerfile for the Wikibase Registry appeared first on Addshore.

Hello! hope we are all having a great time here, last time we went through the code that traversed the DOM and could detect links inside links if any existed. Today will go about migrating that code to lib/wt2html/pp/processors/Linter.js in Parsoid.

With all that stated, I think we are good to go. Lets start with the code migration, the first thing is to take into consideration that we will not use the DOMtraverser and its methods, as the Linter has its own traverser and methods which we will use. Basically, all that has to be done is to migrate the handler code to this file and in place of console.log(), use the linter object lintObj and then emit the DSR values via the env.log call. That is all, remember that we already had the code in a standalone file so, we just needed to migrate this code to Parsoid.

Cheers to the completion of the first task!

I’m so excited to start with this PHP Linter Extension, this extension has different linter categories of high, medium and low priority. This is what basically happens, Parsoid finds lint errors in Wikitext and then sends these to the MediaWiki API via the Linter extension which supports these API end points.

The Linter Extension stores this information in the database and provides user access to these lint errors via the Special:LintErrors page.

Now that we already have the code to detect the links inside links, we now need to send this to the MediWiki API via the Linter Extension. We will therefore have to add code to the Linter extension to add this category, so that we can have this new category on the special lint errors page (i.e Wikilinks in Extlinks).

Next post will elaborate more on this new task (adding a Linter Extension)

The post Migrating Parsoid code and Getting started with PHP Linter Extension appeared first on Gueleu Farida.

Monthly Report, December 2018

19:13, Thursday, 07 2019 February UTC

Highlights

  • Our professional development pilot program was featured this month as part of William Beutler’s “Top Ten Wikipedia Stories of 2018“. Our model of professional development courses offers a potential solution to engaging more academics and subject-matter experts in Wikipedia editing; it seems like the Wikipedia community is as eager as we are to see where the venture goes.
  • Our professional development course in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ended in mid-December. In eleven weeks, our Wiki Scholars added just over 50,000 words to Wikipedia, creating 8 new articles, and editing 60. They uploaded 17 images to Wikimedia Commons. All of the articles they created and/or edited pertained to the 19th Amendment, women’s rights, or directly related topics. Participant Dr. Rachel Boyle wrote on our blog that she thinks the course “offers a compelling model for how historians can engage with the public.​”
  • Another iteration of our Women in Science course finished early this month after a condensed nine-week session. In those two months, 11 participants created 35 new articles, edited 80, and added more than 43,000 words to Wikipedia. This course was remarkable for several reasons. The participants were driven and produced a large amount of content. Creating this many new articles is a notable feat, and doing this all on a condensed timeline speaks to the intensity and excitement the participants brought to this course.
  • Our Wikipedia Student Program was featured on the Harvard School of Public Health’s blog this month. The article breaks down the success of a course there that we supported. Students improved Wikipedia articles related to occupational health, health hazards, and best practices. Students appreciated the assignment for its “real-world impact”.
  • The Dashboard codebase reached a major milestone this month with its 10,000th commit on GitHub. The open-source project has averaged almost 7 changes per day over the last 4 years. That represents the work of more than 50 volunteer contributors, 2/3rds of which are newbies to whom Chief Technology Officer Sage Ross provides guidance. Thanks to this reciprocal work, the Dashboard continues to be improved for the thousands that rely on it worldwide. To read more about what it takes to run a newbie-friendly open software project, check out Sage’s reflections on our blog.

 

Programs

In December, Chief Programs Officer and Deputy Director LiAnna Davis visited Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, to delve into planning a collaboration with their School of Information Sciences around integrating Wikidata assignments into the curriculum. Wikidata is a Wikimedia project that is an open structured data repository; Wiki Education is eager to get started on improving the quality, quantity, and equity of information available on Wikidata. Read more in our blog post.

LiAnna leads Wikidata Workshop at Wayne State University, December 2018

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Fall 2018 in numbers, as of December 31:

  • 383 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (223, or 58%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 7,871 student editors were enrolled
  • 65% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules
  • Students edited 6,970 articles, created 768 new entries, and added 5.99 million words to Wikipedia

As the Fall 2018 term winded down, the Spring 2019 term was just gearing up. December is always a month of transition for us here at Wiki Education, and this time was no exception. While Wikipedia Experts Ian Ramjohn, Shalor Toncray, and Elysia Webb were busily reviewing work from the fall term, Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal was looking ahead and setting up courses for the spring.

Continuing our trend from Spring 2018, we had more courses taught by returning instructors this term than those taught by new instructors in the Wikipedia Student Program. This meant that we could rely on our returning participants to produce quality work, while devoting more time to our new members to navigate the sometimes daunting experience of running a Wikipedia assignment.

As the Spring 2019 term approaches, we’ll once again make quality our highest priority. We do this by refining the courses we support and the ways in which we support them. While we’ve been doing this for many years, there are always new things to learn with each passing term, and Fall 2018 was no exception.

Student work highlights

A student from Vanderbilt University’s Introduction to African Politics substantially expanded the article for Ahmadou Ahidjo, the first president of Cameroon. The student subsequently nominated the article to appear on the front page of Wikipedia under the “Did You Know?” section, which refreshes daily with interesting facts gathered from articles around the site. Ahmadou Ahidjo was featured on December 11.

The South African proposed legislation The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill appeared in the Did You Know? section on December 5 thanks to a student from the same Vanderbilt course.

The University of California, Berkeley class “Carbon Capture and Sequestration”, taught by Marjorie Went, finished up this month. Students explored technologies and geophysical cycles related to climate change mitigation. Through the students’ efforts, substantial content was added to Wikipedia, including brand-new articles such as ocean storage of carbon dioxide, microbial electrolysis carbon capture, and CCS and climate change mitigation. Now this content is freely available and accessible to those wishing to learn more about strategies for confronting climate change.

Wikipedia is one of the most-viewed resources for medical information on the internet, with its contents consulted by 50-70% of physicians and over 90% of medical students.[1] Therefore, it is critical that Wikipedia’s medical content is accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date. Students in the University of Wisconsin’s Epidemiology class, taught by Mel Kantor, added information regarding health and medicine. Articles they improved include sports injury, rat-bite fever, and particulate pollution.

Polyculture is the agricultural practice of growing more than species together in a system meant to more closely mimic nature. Before a student in Yin-Long Qiu’s Plants and Human Health class started working on it, Wikipedia had only a short article. The student editor transformed the article, adding information about a range of different types of polyculture systems, how these systems function, and the benefits of polyculture systems.

Non-dairy milks have been in the news with questions about whether they should be labeled “milk”. While several of them have fairly good Wikipedia articles, oat milk was not among them until another student editor in Yin-Long Qiu’s class created one. Readers can now learn about the composition of oat milk, its origins in the early 1990s, and ongoing commercial expansion. Another timely expansion by a student editor in the class was the cannabis tea article. While cannabis remains illegal in much of the United States and elsewhere in the world, a trend toward legalization and decriminalization means that more people are likely to interact with the drug in some form. Having neutral, fact-based information on topics like this in Wikipedia is an extremely valuable complement to politically charged arguments in favor of and against the drug.

There’s a tendency to judge the importance of people in science and technology on whether or not they have a Wikipedia biography. But the creation of Wikipedia articles depends on the interests of Wikipedians. Natural resources and ecosystem services play an outsized role in developing economies, and the study of these systems is crucial for effective conservation and management, but tropical ecology is an underrepresented field on Wikipedia. C. V. Savitri Gunatilleke is a pioneering woman in the fields of forest ecology and science education in Sri Lanka. Katherine Ewel made important contributions to the study of forested wetlands both the tropics and subtropics. Her husband, John Ewel, made major contributions to understanding the recovery of tropical forests after they were cleared. Rodolfo Dirzo has presented important insights into the implications of defaunation, the process of understanding what happens when forests are emptied of their wildlife. These are among the 11 biographies of tropical ecologists that were created by students in Emilio Bruna’s Tropical Ecology class.

In 2018, Brazil elected its first transgender politician to a state congress. In December, a student from University of Wisconsin’s Women and Politics in a Global Context class created a biography for the trailblazing Erica Malunguinho da Silva. Though da Silva met Wikipedia’s notability requirements, systemic bias on the site can make it less likely that women and transgender people are covered to the same extent as their male counterparts. Now, readers can learn more about da Silva’s amazing accomplishments and the obstacles she has overcome.

In 1928, author Compton Mackenzie released his twentieth novel, Extraordinary Women, which features an ensemble cast of primarily female characters, many of whom are lesbians. Approximately 90 years later, a University of Northern Iowa student in Catherine MacGillivray’s Images of Women in Literature course created its Wikipedia article. Mackenzie might not have foreseen that his book would continue to be read and studied so long after its initial publication. Extraordinary Women was published alongside Radclyffe Hall’s lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, however unlike Hall’s novel Extraordinary Women was not subjected to similar review and censorship by the United Kingdom’s Home Office.

Another student, this one in Wendy Belcher’s Princeton class on Radical African Thought and Revolutionary Youth Culture, chose to create an article on the student movements in Uganda. Student activism and politics was a significant part of Ugandan higher education in the 20th century and beginning in the 1930s, Ugandan universities and secondary schools were a center for revolutionary movement. This new page covers both the twentieth and twenty-first century student movements, starting with movements that focused on independence from the British Empire to a 2018 protest held in response to the Ugandan government instituting a tax on social media, SMS, and WhatsApp. These outlets have been increasingly used as an organizing and protest tool amongst young people in Uganda and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has fully shut down social networks during the 2011 and 2016 elections.

During the month of December students added several images to Wikipedia. One University of Colorado Boulder student in Brian Keegan’s Online Collaboration class chose to upload an image of a tornado that formed along the edges of the 2018 Weston Pass Fire that burned a total of 13,023 acres. Another student in Oregon State University professor Stacey Smith’s class The Historian’s Craft found an image of John Jamison Moore, an American preacher and educator that worked to spread the word of his church and to educate children on both the East and West Coasts of the United States. One other student in Liz Whiteacre’s English Composition class at the University of Indianapolis chose to take a photograph of both himself and his friend making the hashtag hand gesture, marking the first time that a photograph of this gesture has been added to Wikimedia Commons.

A Kansas Forest Service truck deployed to fight the Weston Pass Fire in Colorado, is forced to pause on July 5 as a tornado passes outside the town of Fairplay.
Image: File:Weston Pass Fire Tornado.jpg, Kansas Forest Service, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Image of Moore from his book, The History of The AME Zion Church in America.
Image: File:John Jamison Moore.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Two young men displaying the hashtag hand gesture.
Image: File:Armandas.jpg, TheBrandonCaldwell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Shear plate timber connector, uploaded by Hab044 in
University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Building Technology class and used in the Timber framing article.
Image: File:Shear plate timber connector.jpg, Hab044, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
An example of a waffle slab, which is a construction design. Photo by George Rex, uploaded by Moniortz in University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Building Technology class
Image: File:Waffle Slab National Theatre Terrace Restaurant.jpg, George Rex, CC BY-SA 2.05, via Wikimedia Commons.
Members of the Cuban Revolutionary Party uploaded by Sarevalo812 in Pace University’s Latinx Voices class
Image: File:Prc.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Portrait of Ethel Barrymore by Frances C. Houston. Uploaded by Sara carman
in University of Minnesota’s Women and Art class
Image: File:Portrait of Ethel Barrymore by Frances C. Houston.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Scholars & Scientists Program

The academics and professionals participating in our Scholars & Scientists courses have been busy this month. One course, focused on biographies of women in science, wrapped up early in the month, while the other six courses finished just before the holiday break.

Wikipedia Fellows

Fewer than 18% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women. For that reason we ran our Women in Science course again, which finished early this month after a condensed nine-week session. In those two months, our 11 participants created 35 new articles, edited 80, and added more than 43,000 words to Wikipedia. This course yielded one Did You Know article — William Gould Young, which appeared on Wikipedia’s front page on January 8, 2019. This course was remarkable for several reasons. The participants were driven and produced a large amount of content. Creating this many new articles is a notable feat, and doing this all on a condensed timeline speaks to the intensity and excitement the participants brought to this course.

In an effort to showcase how significant the underrepresentation of women scientists on Wikipedia is, all of the following articles (and the accomplishments contained therein) did not exist prior to this course:

  • Darlene Lim: a “NASA geobiologist and exobiologist who is preparing astronauts for space colonization.”
  • Johanna Ivaska: a cancer researcher and molecular cell biology academy professor, whose research focuses “on cell surface receptors called integrins and how these affect to cancer cell migration, invasion, tumour-stroma crosstalk and other processes that promote cancer progression.”
  • Hanneke Jansen: a computational chemistry leader working on multiple drug targets for anti-cancer treatment and leading an effort to standardize data sets to improve industry collaboration.
  • Wendy Young: a medicinal chemist and pharmaceutical executive, known for the development of a chemistry campaign against Bruton’s tyrosine kinase.
  • Abigail Allwood: an “Australian geologist and astrobiologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who studies stromatolites, detection of life on other planets, and evolution of life on early Earth.”
  • Xue-Min Cheng: a “medicinal chemist, author, and pharmaceutical executive best known for being the co-author of The Logic of Chemical Synthesis.”

Our Communicating Science course equipped scientists with the knowledge and tools to communicate their expertise to the public on Wikipedia. Here are some of the articles our science Wikipedia Fellows worked on by the time we ended this month:

  • A wide range of improvements to the article on collective memory, “the shared pool of memories, knowledge and information of a social group that is significantly associated with the group’s identity.”
  • Expansion of the Valles Caldera article, about the inactive volcanic caldera in New Mexico.
  • The article on geologist and oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp had information about her career and early life, but not much about her scientific contributions. It now includes more about the impact of her work. The Fellow also noticed that the photograph used in the article was more a picture of a male colleague of hers, who appeared to be showing her something on a map, when in reality the map he was pointing to was of her own creation. Now the article includes a much better image of Tharp with her work.
  • Several improvements to articles on key geological articles like magma and the Earth’s mantle.

Our humanities courses improved a wide range of topics by the time the wrapped up this month:

  • The article on marriage in South Korea was almost entirely about modern practices until a Fellow added sections on Marriage in Pre-Modern Korea.
  • A great deal of improvements to the article on hometown associations, “social alliances that are formed among immigrants from the same city or region of origin.” The edits expanded the article and addressed a set of maintenance tags that had languished on the page for more than a year and a half.
  • Expansion of the biography of Letitia Obeng, the first Ghanaian woman to obtain a degree in zoology and the first to be awarded a doctorate.
  • Academics participating in our Scholars & Scientists courses are well-suited to expand articles about issues in research like methods and ethics. One example is the community-based participatory research article, “a partnership approach to research and equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, researchers, and others in all aspects of the research process.

Another course that ended this month tackled interdisciplinary topics. Academics and professionals from humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences came together to improve a wide range of articles like these:

Wiki Scholars

Our new professional development course in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ended in mid-December. Participants each either created or significantly improved two articles related to women’s voting rights. Here are a few final updates and closing thoughts about the course:

  • In eleven weeks our Wiki Scholars added just over 50,000 words to Wikipedia, creating 8 new articles, and editing 60. They uploaded 17 images to Wikimedia Commons. All of the articles they created and/or edited pertained to the 19th Amendment, women’s rights, or directly related topics.
  • While the 19th Amendment made it possible for many groups of women to vote, one group that still couldn’t after the bill’s passage were Native Americans. One scholar added several resources to the Native American Civil Rights article to detail this.
  • The legacy and impact of Ida B. Wells is enormous. She founded the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago. The group aimed to advocate for African American women who were excluded from the suffrage debate. By adding thousands of words, one of our scholars significantly expanded many sections of this article.
  • Influential suffragist, Mary McHenry Keith, did not have a Wikipedia article until a Wiki Scholar created it. With multiple sections, more than 25 sources, and an image, this is an excellent example of a well-formed new article.
  • Similarly, the article for Helen Hoy Greeley did not exist until one of our Scholars identified more than 20 sources and stitched them together into this article. Greeley was a successful and accomplished activist whose career spanned over five decades.
  • Etta Haynie Maddox fought for women to be able to take the bar exam and practice law in the state of Maryland. She became the first woman in Maryland to practice law. Prior to this course her article did not exist.
  • We had two Wiki Scholars work on two new articles concerning trains and suffrage. One is about Caroline Katzenstein, who was on the Suffrage Special, a transcontinental tour recruiting women to speak at a suffrage conference in Chicago. Another article is the Prison Special, which was a protest tour, highlighting stories of women who had been arrested, detained, or incarcerated as a result of participating in protests that promoted suffrage.
Officers of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Uploaded by Ecs222
Image: File:Officers of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.gif, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Poster Stamp Vote for the woman suffrage amendment in November. Uploaded by Gardneca
Image: File:Poster Stamp Vote for the woman suffrage amendment in November.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Visiting Scholars Program

This month, Visiting Scholars continued to use their access to academic resources to improve Wikipedia articles.

George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum added yet another Featured Article to his collection with the Lynchburg Sesquicentennial half dollar, a coin minted in 1936 to celebrate 150 years since Lynchburg, Virginia was incorporated in 1786. A Featured Article is Wikipedia’s highest level of quality, representing the best the encyclopedia has to offer, and involves detailed peer review and revision processes.

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, added or substantially expanded 12 more biographies of women writers this month. For example, Eliza Trask Hill (1840-1908) was an activist, journalist, and philanthropist who was one of the first to join the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919) was a poet who sometimes went by Sallie M. Bryan. She was prolific and popular, publishing about 450 poems over her career.

 

Advancement

In December, the newly formed Advancement Team held a retreat in Lake Tahoe to build team rapport, develop a strategy, and establish team norms. The Advancement Team consists of Chief Advancement Officer TJ Bliss, Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson, Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald, and Outreach and Communications Associate Cassidy Villeneuve. During the retreat, the team developed a Team Charter, which includes the team’s purpose, job descriptions, goals, guiding values, norms, policies/processes, and an accountability plan. The charter is a living document and plans were made to return to it frequently as a team in the coming months.

Fundraising

In December, we received notification that a $400,000 Annual Planning Grant from Wikimedia Foundation’s Fund Dissemination Committee was approved for Wiki Education. This funding will be matched by a $400,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation. December was a slow month in terms of conversations with potential new funders, but TJ was able to schedule calls with several funders for January. In the meantime, Samantha joined the fundraising team part-time to help conduct research and identify new funders that we might consider approaching in 2019. On December 31, our $480,000 two-year grant from the Simons Foundation ended. We are grateful for the support we received for our Year of Science and Communicating Science efforts from the Simons Foundation.

Partnerships

In December, Jami and Cassidy attended the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in Washington, D.C. We sought earth scientists interested in improving Wikipedia, which they can do either by joining our Wikipedia Student Program or by becoming a Wiki Scientist. Those who came by our booth were enthusiastic about Wiki Education’s commitment to equity and open knowledge. The conference was a great opportunity to connect with prospective program participants who will improve Wikipedia’s science coverage, and we’re looking forward to supporting them in that process.

While visiting DC, Jami met with several representations from organizations who are a great fit for sponsoring Scholars & Scientists courses. We’re seeing a lot of excitement about a program that not only trains scientists how to impact Wikipedia but that adds high-quality content to important academic topics.

Communications

Our Wikipedia Fellows pilot program was featured this month as part of William Beutler’s “Top Ten Wikipedia Stories of 2018”. Our model offers a potential solution to engaging more academics and subject-matter experts in Wikipedia editing; it seems like the Wikipedia community is as eager as we are to see where the venture goes.

Dr. Rachel Boyle, a public historian who recently completed our professional development course in collaboration with NARA, shared the three things she learned through the experience on our blog. Ultimately, she draws the conclusion that “Wiki Education offers a compelling model for how historians can engage with the public.”

Our Wikipedia Student Program was featured on the Harvard School of Public Health’s blog this month. The article breaks down the success of a course there that we supported. Students improved Wikipedia articles related to occupational health, health hazards, and best practices. Students appreciated the assignment for its “real-world impact”.

Blog posts:

External media:

 

Technology

In December, we kicked off the latest Outreachy internship project, implemented several between-terms changes that streamline the course setup process for Wikipedia Student Program instructors, improved how the Dashboard interacts with Wikipedia for the Scholars & Scientists program, and made several data privacy changes on Programs & Events Dashboard to fix violations of the Wikimedia Cloud Services rules.

Outreachy intern Cressence got started in early December, working on improvements to the program creation process for the global Programs & Events Dashboard. This work will make it easier for Wikimedia event organizers to set up Dashboard programs in the way that makes sense for their own varied events, without already having an in-depth understanding of the Dashboard’s configuration options. You can follow Cressence’s project blog at cressence.home.blog.

For the Wikipedia Student Program, we simplified the Timeline layout by removing the grading section, which few instructors used and which commonly caused confusion. We also improved the assignment wizard — clarifying key issues related to medical information — and extended the integration between the Dashboard and Salesforce to automate more of the Wikipedia Experts’ process of evaluating and logging data for individual courses. For the Scholars & Scientists program, we added similar automated wiki edits as the ones we use for the Wikipedia Student Program.

The Dashboard codebase reached a major milestone this month with its 10,000th commit (fixing an accessibility bug). The project has averaged almost 7 changes per day over the last 4 years.

 

Finance & Administration

The total expenses for December were $186,000, $18K more than budgeted. Timing has played a role here, and the departments are expensing previously budgeted for items. Fundraising was over the budget by $6K: utilizing $3K for Outside Services and $3K for Travel previously budgeted but unused. Programs were over budget by $11.5K: $7K over budget relating to Payroll and Benefits, $2K for phone equipment, and $2.5K in Conferences previously budgeted for. General and Administrative was under budget by $3K. Fringe Benefits were under by $2K, Occupancy by $5K and Equipment by $2K. Accounting and Audit was over by $6K, as they were scheduled in October and November. Technology was over by $4K, mainly due to equipment purchase delayed until December.

Wiki Education expenses by area for month of December 2018.

The Year-to-date expenses are $981K, $244K under budget of $1,225,000. Fundraising is under budget by $158K. This was due to not hosting a cultivation event $10K and a change in plans with regard to outside consulting ($148K), though they are utilizing the consulting services, they will likely not use the amount budgeted for the year. Programs are under budget by $54K: $17K Professional Fees, $19K relating to Travel and Volunteer development, $15K Printing the strategic plan that will remain underspent for the rest of the Fiscal Year, and $7K in Indirect Costs. Technology is under by $5K due to outside services, $12K with an increase in salary +$6K and equipment +$4K and underspending in internet of $3K. General and Administration are under by $28K: $13K in Personnel costs, $5K Professional fees, $5K under in reduction of Occupancy Costs, and $3K in General supply costs.

Wiki Education expenses by area, year to date as of month of December 2018.

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • Finalize audit and 990 for fiscal year 2017/18
    • Financial projections for calendar year 2019
    • Begin planning for next fiscal year

In December, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg engaged with a range of existing funders. He was able to gain financial support for the ongoing NARA pilot from an anonymous donor which enabled us to accept scholars at a reduced fee. Going forward, we’re planning on offering more of such funding opportunities for individual donors or foundations with an interest in specific topic areas. That way, subject matter experts with insufficient support from their own institutions will be able to join future professional development courses in our Scholars & Scientists Program.

In mid December, San Francisco firm Hood & Strong came to our office for the fiscal year 2017/18 financial audit. Jordan Daly and Elizabeth Amento from SFBay Financial, supported by HR Manager & Executive Assistant Ozge Gundogdu and Frank, provided financial records and answered questions around accounting practices, record keeping, and internal control policies. This year’s audit is the fourth voluntary audit for our organization in a row; we’ve invested in this area since year one in order to provide a higher level of transparency and also to ensure that our accounting records and financial statements are in good order.

During a board call in the second half of December, Frank provided the board with updates on programs, fundraising, and operations. This board meeting also concluded the performance review process for the ED, which had been led by board member Bob Cummings.

Also in December, Ozge and Frank – with input from the senior leadership team – worked on a new version of Wiki Education’s time off policy. The new policy will change the total number of vacation days and the time it takes to reach the next level. At the same time we’ll be reducing the maximum accrual of vacation days per employee. These adjustments will help align our time off policy better with the realities of a modern work biography and also reduce financial liabilities for the organization.

* * *

How does the world see Wikimedia brands?

17:30, Thursday, 07 2019 February UTC

That’s what a recent global brand study sought to research as part of the Wikimedia movement’s planning towards our ambitious 2030 strategic goals. The study was led by Wolff Olins, an international brand consultancy, and directed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Communications department.

The results showed high support for Wikimedia’s mission and strong interest in contributing to Wikimedia projects. There was only one problem: almost no one surveyed understood what Wikimedia actually means.

• • •

Wikimedia? Don’t you mean Wiki-PEDIA?

Among the world’s internet users, Wikipedia enjoys a remarkably high level of awareness. In Spain, 89% of internet users report having “heard” of Wikipedia. Rates remain above 80% across North America and Western Europe. Even in emerging markets, where Wikipedia has had to make concerted efforts to market itself, awareness averages above 40% and is fast growing. A single brand campaign in Nigeria, for instance, raised Wikipedia awareness from 27% to 48% in 2018.

By contrast, Wikimedia is not well understood and is often confused with Wikipedia. In this recent study, respondents reported that they had “never heard of [Wikimedia] before.” When asked to guess what it might be, many responded with Wikipedia.

“It is the same content as in Wikipedia, but we can find the information presented in videos or podcasts,” suggested a respondent from Mexico.

A respondent in Germany offered a similar definition. “Similar to Wikipedia, but mainly a collection of videos and photos.”

• • •

Awareness of Wikimedia projects

As part of the study, survey participants were asked if they recognized the names of Wikimedia projects. The results showed almost no familiarity with Meta-Wiki, Wikivoyage, and Wikispecies. But a surprisingly high number of respondents said they “had heard” of projects like Wikiquote, Wikibooks, and Wikinews. The researchers noted that some of this could be false familiarity caused by recognizing the common nouns (“book” and “news”) and guessing they know/understood the project

  • Meta-Wiki: 6%
  • Wikivoyage: 8%
  • Wikispecies: 8%
  • Wikimedia Commons: 13%
  • Wikiversity: 14%
  • Wikidata: 20%
  • MediaWiki: 22%
  • Wiktionary: 25%
  • Wikisource: 30%
  • Wikiquote: 32%
  • Wikibooks: 42%
  • Wikinews: 50%

• • •

Support for mission and content

Study participants showed considerable interest in the importance of knowledge materials and the Wikimedia movement’s efforts to make knowledge available. Among non-Chinese responses, 92% said they were interested in reading Wikipedia content, 84% said they were interested in exploring linked Wikimedia projects, and 58% said they were interested in contributing content.

Study participants said that not fully understanding the Wikipedia content model prevented them from acting on their impulse to share content. Some even felt that the global reach of Wikipedia was intimidating and raised the stakes of adding content.

“I think I need more knowledge,” said a respondent in India, “because it is something read in every corner of the world so I really don’t want to go wrong in any way,”

• • •

The view from China

Study responses from China, where Wikipedia is blocked in Mandarin, were remarkably similar to responses from the other regions. Respondents said they were generally interested in reading and contributing to Wikipedia, but also highlighted that they find similar knowledge and editing opportunities on Baidu Baidu.

“Information on Baidu is very comprehensive” said one respondent. “It is a free and multilingual online encyclopedia.” Another said much the same: “Baidu Search and Baidu Baike are also free encyclopedias that everyone can edit. … It also supports many languages with massive traffic.”

One observation unique to Chinese internet users is the association between the word “wiki” and encyclopedias in general. Several respondents did not recall “Wikipedia” as the full name, but used “wiki” instead.

• • •

Conclusion

Worldwide, it is Wikipedia that general internet users recognize, not Wikimedia. In China, the Wikipedia brand still enjoys considerable familiarity even though the site has been blocked in the country since 2015. At more than 80% awareness in the North Atlantic, and fast growing awareness in emerging markets, the Wikipedia name offers our movement a powerful tool for supporting the 2030 goals. With this information in hand, we’re exploring how we might use that tool, and we’d welcome your input at brandproject[at]wikimedia.org.

Zack McCune, Senior Global Brand Manager, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

wikibase-docker, Mediawiki & Wikibase update

16:12, Thursday, 07 2019 February UTC

Today on the Wikibase Community User Group Telegram chat I noticed some people discussing issues with upgrading Mediawiki and Wikibase using the docker images provided for Wikibase.

As the wikibase-registry is currently only running Mediawiki 1.30 I should probably update it to 1.31, which is the next long term stable release.

This blog post was written as I performed the update and is yet to be proofread, so expect some typos. I hope it can help those that were chatting on Telegram today.

Starting state

Documentation

There is a small amount of documentation in the wikibase docker image README file that talks about upgrading, but this simply tells you to run update.php.

Update.php has its own documentation on mediawiki.org.
None of this helps you piece everything together for the docker world.

Installation

The installation creation process is documented in this blog post, and some customization regarding LocalSettings and extensions was covered here.
The current state of the docker-compose file can be seen below with private details redacted.

This docker-compose files is found in /root/wikibase-registry on the server hosting the installation. (Yes I know that’s a dumb place, but that’s not the point of this post)

version: '3'

services:
  wikibase:
    image: wikibase/wikibase:1.30-bundle
    restart: always
    links:
      - mysql
    ports:
     - "8181:80"
    volumes:
      - mediawiki-images-data:/var/www/html/images
      - ./LocalSettings.php:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php:ro
      - ./Nuke:/var/www/html/extensions/Nuke
      - ./ConfirmEdit:/var/www/html/extensions/ConfirmEdit
    depends_on:
    - mysql
    environment:
      MW_ADMIN_NAME: "private"
      MW_ADMIN_PASS: "private"
      MW_SITE_NAME: "Wikibase Registry"
      DB_SERVER: "mysql.svc:3306"
      DB_PASS: "private"
      DB_USER: "private"
      DB_NAME: "private"
      MW_WG_SECRET_KEY: "private"
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wikibase.svc
         - wikibase-registry.wmflabs.org
  mysql:
    image: mariadb:latest
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - mediawiki-mysql-data:/var/lib/mysql
    environment:
      MYSQL_DATABASE: 'private'
      MYSQL_USER: 'private'
      MYSQL_PASSWORD: 'private'
      MYSQL_RANDOM_ROOT_PASSWORD: 'yes'
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - mysql.svc
  wdqs-frontend:
    image: wikibase/wdqs-frontend:latest
    restart: always
    ports:
     - "8282:80"
    depends_on:
    - wdqs-proxy
    environment:
      BRAND_TITLE: 'Wikibase Registry Query Service'
      WIKIBASE_HOST: wikibase.svc
      WDQS_HOST: wdqs-proxy.svc
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wdqs-frontend.svc
  wdqs:
    image: wikibase/wdqs:0.3.0
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - query-service-data:/wdqs/data
    command: /runBlazegraph.sh
    environment:
      WIKIBASE_HOST: wikibase-registry.wmflabs.org
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wdqs.svc
  wdqs-proxy:
    image: wikibase/wdqs-proxy
    restart: always
    environment:
      - PROXY_PASS_HOST=wdqs.svc:9999
    ports:
     - "8989:80"
    depends_on:
    - wdqs
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wdqs-proxy.svc
  wdqs-updater:
    image: wikibase/wdqs:0.3.0
    restart: always
    command: /runUpdate.sh
    depends_on:
    - wdqs
    - wikibase
    environment:
      WIKIBASE_HOST: wikibase-registry.wmflabs.org
    networks:
      default:
        aliases:
         - wdqs-updater.svc

volumes:
  mediawiki-mysql-data:
  mediawiki-images-data:
  query-service-data:

Backups

docker-compose.yml

So that you can always return to your previous configuration take a snapshot of your docker-compose file.

If you have any other mounted files it also might be worth taking a quick snapshot of those.

Volumes

The wikibase docker-compose example README has a short section about backing up docker volumes using the loomchild/volume-backup docker image.
So let’s give that a go.

I’ll run the backup command for all 3 volumes used in the docker compose file which cover the 3 locations that I care about that persist data.

docker run -v wikibase-registry_mediawiki-mysql-data:/volume -v /root/volumeBackups:/backup --rm loomchild/volume-backup backup mediawiki-mysql-data_20190129
docker run -v wikibase-registry_mediawiki-images-data:/volume -v /root/volumeBackups:/backup --rm loomchild/volume-backup backup mediawiki-images-data_20190129
docker run -v wikibase-registry_query-service-data:/volume -v /root/volumeBackups:/backup --rm loomchild/volume-backup backup query-service-data_20190129

Looking in the /root/volumeBackups directory I can see that the backup files have been created.

ls -lahr /root/volumeBackups/ | grep 2019
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 215K Jan 29 16:40 query-service-data_20190129.tar.bz2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  57M Jan 29 16:40 mediawiki-mysql-data_20190129.tar.bz2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  467 Jan 29 16:40 mediawiki-images-data_20190129.tar.bz2

I’m not going to bother checking that the backups are actually complete here, but you might want to do that!

Prepare the next version

Grab new versions of extensions


The wikibase-registry has a couple of extension shoehorned into it mounted through mounts in the docker-compose file (see above).

We need new versions of these extensions for Mediawiki 1.31 while leaving the old versions in place for the still running 1.30 version.

I’ll do this by creating a new folder, copying the existing extension code into it, and then changing and fetching the branch.

# Make copies of the current 1.30 versions of extensions
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# mkdir mw131
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# cp -r ./Nuke ./mw131/Nuke
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# cp -r ./ConfirmEdit ./mw131/ConfirmEdit

# Update them to the 1.31 branch of code
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# cd ./mw131/Nuke/
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry/mw131/Nuke# git fetch origin REL1_31
From https://github.com/wikimedia/mediawiki-extensions-Nuke
 * branch            REL1_31    -> FETCH_HEAD
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry/mw131/Nuke# git checkout REL1_31
Branch REL1_31 set up to track remote branch REL1_31 from origin.
Switched to a new branch 'REL1_31'
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry/mw131/Nuke# cd ./../ConfirmEdit/
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry/mw131/ConfirmEdit# git fetch origin REL1_31
From https://github.com/wikimedia/mediawiki-extensions-ConfirmEdit
 * branch            REL1_31    -> FETCH_HEAD
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry/mw131/ConfirmEdit# git checkout REL1_31
Branch REL1_31 set up to track remote branch REL1_31 from origin.
Switched to a new branch 'REL1_31'

Define an updated Wikibase container / service

We can run a container with the new Mediawiki and Wikibase code in alongside the old container without causing any problems, it just needs a name.

So below I define this new service, called wikibase-131 using the same general details as my previous wikibase service, but pointing to the new versions of my extensions, and add it to my docker-compose file.

Note that no port is exposed, as I don’t want public traffic here yet, and also no network aliases are yet defined. We will switch those from the old service to the new service at a later stage.

wikibase-131:
    image: wikibase/wikibase:1.31-bundle
    restart: always
    links:
      - mysql
    volumes:
      - mediawiki-images-data:/var/www/html/images
      - ./LocalSettings.php:/var/www/html/LocalSettings.php:ro
      - ./mw131/Nuke:/var/www/html/extensions/Nuke
      - ./mw131/ConfirmEdit:/var/www/html/extensions/ConfirmEdit
    depends_on:
    - mysql
    environment:
      MW_ADMIN_NAME: "private"
      MW_ADMIN_PASS: "private"
      MW_SITE_NAME: "Wikibase Registry"
      DB_SERVER: "mysql.svc:3306"
      DB_PASS: "private"
      DB_USER: "private"
      DB_NAME: "private"
      MW_WG_SECRET_KEY: "private"

I tried running this service as is but ran into an issue with the change from 1.30 to 1.31. (Your output will be much more verbose if you need to pull the image)

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose up wikibase-131
wikibase-registry_mysql_1 is up-to-date
Creating wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1 ... done
Attaching to wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1
wikibase-131_1   | wait-for-it.sh: waiting 120 seconds for mysql.svc:3306
wikibase-131_1   | wait-for-it.sh: mysql.svc:3306 is available after 0 seconds
wikibase-131_1   | wait-for-it.sh: waiting 120 seconds for mysql.svc:3306
wikibase-131_1   | wait-for-it.sh: mysql.svc:3306 is available after 1 seconds
wikibase-131_1   | /extra-entrypoint-run-first.sh: line 3: MW_ELASTIC_HOST: unbound variable
wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1 exited with code 1

The wikibase:1.31-bundle docker image includes the Elastica and CirrusSearch extensions which were not a part of the 1.30 bundle, and due to the entrypoint infrastructure added along with it I will need to change some things to continue without using Elastic for now.

Fix MW_ELASTIC_HOST requirement with a custom entrypoint.sh

The above error message shows that the error occurred while running extra-entrypoint-run-first.sh which is provided as part of the bundle.
It is automatically loaded by the base image entry point.
The bundle now also runs some extra steps as part of the install for wikibase that we don’t want if we are not using Elastic.

If you give the entrypoint file a read through you can see that it does a few things:

  • Makes sure the required environment variables are passed in
  • Waits for the DB server to be online
  • Runs extra scripts added by the bundle image
  • Does the Mediawiki / Wikibase install on the first run (if LocalSettings does not exist)
  • Run apache

This is a bit excessive for what the wikibase-registry requires right now, so lets strip this down, saving next to our docker-compose file, so /root/wikibase-registry/entrypoint.sh for the wikibase-registry

#!/bin/bash

REQUIRED_VARIABLES=(MW_ADMIN_NAME MW_ADMIN_PASS MW_WG_SECRET_KEY DB_SERVER DB_USER DB_PASS DB_NAME)
for i in ${REQUIRED_VARIABLES[@]}; do
    eval THISSHOULDBESET=\$$i
    if [ -z "$THISSHOULDBESET" ]; then
    echo "$i is required but isn't set. You should pass it to docker. See: https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/run/#set-environment-variables--e---env---env-file";
    exit 1;
    fi
done

set -eu

/wait-for-it.sh $DB_SERVER -t 120
sleep 1
/wait-for-it.sh $DB_SERVER -t 120

docker-php-entrypoint apache2-foreground

And mount it in the wikibase-131 service that we have created by adding a new volume.

volumes:
      - ./entrypoint.sh:/entrypoint.sh

Run the new service alongside the old one

Running the service now works as expected.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose up wikibase-131
wikibase-registry_mysql_1 is up-to-date
Recreating wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1 ... done
Attaching to wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1
{snip, broing output}

And the service appears in the list of running containers.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose ps
              Name                             Command               State          Ports
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
wikibase-registry_mysql_1           docker-entrypoint.sh mysqld      Up      3306/tcp
wikibase-registry_wdqs-frontend_1   /entrypoint.sh nginx -g da ...   Up      0.0.0.0:8282->80/tcp
wikibase-registry_wdqs-proxy_1      /bin/sh -c "/entrypoint.sh"      Up      0.0.0.0:8989->80/tcp
wikibase-registry_wdqs-updater_1    /entrypoint.sh /runUpdate.sh     Up      9999/tcp
wikibase-registry_wdqs_1            /entrypoint.sh /runBlazegr ...   Up      9999/tcp
wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1    /bin/bash /entrypoint.sh         Up      80/tcp
wikibase-registry_wikibase_1        /bin/bash /entrypoint.sh         Up      0.0.0.0:8181->80/tcp

Update.php

From here you should now be able to get into your new container with the new code.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose exec wikibase-131 bash
root@40de55dc62fc:/var/www/html#

And then run update.php

In theory updates to the database, and anything else, will always be backward compatible for at least 1 major version, which is why we can run this update while the site is still being served from Mediawiki 1.30

root@40de55dc62fc:/var/www/html# php ./maintenance/update.php --quick
MediaWiki 1.31.1 Updater

Your composer.lock file is up to date with current dependencies!
Going to run database updates for wikibase_registry
Depending on the size of your database this may take a while!
{snip boring output}
Purging caches...done.

Done in 0.9 s.

Switching versions

The new service is already running alongside the old one, and the database has already been updated, now all we have to do is switch the services over.

If you want a less big bangy approach you could probably setup a second port exposing the updated version and direct a different domain or sub domain to that location, but I don’t go into that at all here.

Move the “ports” definition and “networks” definition from the “wikibase” service to the “wikibase-131” service. Then recreate the container for each service using the update configuration. (If you have any other references to the “wikibase” service in the docker-compose.yml file such as in depends-on then you will also need to change this.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose up -d wikibase
wikibase-registry_mysql_1 is up-to-date
Recreating wikibase-registry_wikibase_1 ... done
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose up -d wikibase-131
wikibase-registry_mysql_1 is up-to-date
Recreating wikibase-registry_wikibase-131_1 ... done

If everything has worked you should see Special:Version reporting the newer version, which we now see on the wikibase-registry.

Cleanup

Now that everything is updated we can stop and remove the previous “wikibase” service container.

root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose stop wikibase
Stopping wikibase-registry_wikibase_1 ... done
root@wbregistry-01:~/wikibase-registry# docker-compose rm wikibase
Going to remove wikibase-registry_wikibase_1
Are you sure? [yN] y
Removing wikibase-registry_wikibase_1 ... done

You can then do some cleanup:

  • Remove the “wikibase” service definition from the docker-compose.yml file, leaving “wikibase-131” in place.
  • Remove any files or extensions (older versions) that are only loaded by the old service that you have now removed.

Further notes

There are lots of other things I noticed while writing this blog post:

  • It would be great to move the env vars out of the docker-compose and into env var files.
  • The default entrypoint in the docker images is quite annoying after the initial install and if you don’t use all of the features in the bundle.
  • We need a documentation hub? ;)

The post wikibase-docker, Mediawiki & Wikibase update appeared first on Addshore.

Problems remain with the EU’s copyright reform

05:00, Thursday, 07 2019 February UTC

It was almost exactly five years ago that a reform of EU copyright was included in the European Commission’s list of priorities. The setting of that priority was followed by several public consultations, countless public events, and many face-to-face meetings. In 2016, the Commission made a proposal for what this reform would look like. Since then, the two legislative chambers of the European Union, the Parliament and Council, have been discussing, drafting, and amending to try to agree on a single reform. In September 2018, the Parliament voted on a final draft of the reform, which allowed the proposal to move into one of its final phases: the trilogue. The trilogue stage, in which the Parliament, Council, and Commission seek compromise between their three proposals in closed-door negotiations, is where the reform sits currently.

While we still can’t be absolutely sure whether the reform will be concluded before the European Parliament’s elections in May 2019, by now we know the general direction of the first major EU copyright readjustment in 18 years. The proposed reform includes some protections for access to knowledge, including greater access to public domain and out of commerce works, but also contains some seriously problematic provisions that threaten many ideals central to the Wikimedia movement. Articles 11 and 13, which respectively establish a news publishers right and liability on platforms for user uploads, will harm freedom of expression across Europe and impede the development of free knowledge resources like Wikipedia in the future.

So, as the terms of the current Commission and the Parliament in Brussels are drawing to an end, it is a good moment to reflect on its impact on access to knowledge and information—both key parts of our 2030 strategy.

Here’s what’s beneficial in the reform

Safeguarding the public domain

The public domain, which allows for the free use of works that are not in copyright, is an important pillar of free knowledge, creativity and innovation. With more works entering public domain each year, it is also an indispensable counterweight to exclusive rights on intellectual property. Yet, unlike exclusive rights that enjoy a robust enforcement regime, the public domain is not adequately protected. This is going to change with this reform. The European Parliament and the Council have agreed that faithful reproductions of public domain works will also be in the public domain,  which ensures that the original works will remain in the public domain as well. This will prevent legal battles and uncertainties like in the Reiss Engelhorn Museum lawsuit, and will enable an easier incorporation of rich public domain works to Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Opening up out-of-commerce works

Museums, archives and libraries hold many works in their collections that are no longer commercially available, but also not yet in the public domain. In many cases, the rightsholders are not easily found and thus these works remain in the repositories, not digitised and therefore not available online. The EU copyright reform will help remedy that. Cultural heritage institutions will have a straightforward way of giving online access to such works either by applying collective licensing or through a fallback exception. This will help shrink the “20th century black hole” and will allow projects like Wikipedia to at least point to digital copies of such works online.

Here’s what was missed

For those who have been following Wikimedia’s efforts in public policy, it will not come as a surprise that we deeply regret the European legislature not having included EU-wide exceptions for freedom of panorama and user-generated-content in the reform. In both cases technological advances have made an update to the law necessary, and supporting majorities of votes in Parliament were possible. It is difficult to understand why such obvious limitations and exceptions that contribute to lifting barriers to access to knowledge were not supported either by a majority of Members States or Members of the European Parliament. Such changes would have brought the law in line with everyday practices of European citizens, and would have also harmonised the rulebook across the continent. Even though updating and harmonising copyright were the two main policy goals stated by the EU, the legislators have chosen to maintain the “national silos” they made a priority to eliminate through copyright reform.

And here’s what’s problematic

Changes in liability of platforms and content filtering (Article 13)

One of the most dangerous of the proposed norms in the reform is Article 13, which creates liability for websites that host user-generated content, if they are unable to ensure that infringing works are not re-uploaded to their sites. Though nonprofit platforms like Wikipedia were eventually exempted from this provision, it has the potential to curtail the free flow of information we rely on. Additionally, mandating a massive roll-out of content filtering infrastructure across the internet hugely increases the likelihood it will be used for censorship.

Yes, many online platforms occupy a powerful role in the internet that needs to be examined, and changes to the internet ecosystem may be inevitable. But this particular proposed change, we fear, strictly mandates the removal of content while only marginally addressing user rights and the functionality of copyright exceptions. The content filtering requirement, whether explicitly worded or imposed by the imminent liability risk, will enshrine the role of platforms as the primary judges of free speech. And the argument that we are “only” talking about copyright infringements here is not valid. We already see this very same approach working its way into other proposals attempting to combat harmful content, such as the proposed regulation on preventing dissemination of terrorist content online. If that should be the legacy of the lengthy copyright debate, it would be better if Article 13 is deleted entirely from the directive.

News publishers right (Article 11)

After similar rights proved to be ineffective both in Germany and Spain, news publishers pressed hard, to get their own “copyright-like” rights protection on the EU level. This protection would allow them to sell licenses for even the smallest snippets taken from online news sites. If no license fee is paid, the snippets would need to be removed from the search results and news aggregation lists. If this new right were also to apply to the title of a news article, millions of references in Wikipedia articles would enter a legal grey zone, where it is unclear whether licenses are needed for such referencing. Besides damaging Wikipedia and Wikidata, which contains items such as “title” and “excerpt” of text sources, it could affect every reference collection online that contains references to news articles. It remains to be seen whether the new publishers right will ultimately be introduced and if so, whether it will at least feature an exception for mere titles of news pieces, leaving collections of references in limbo.

Education exception

The education exception allows educators to use copyrighted content as long as it serves a teaching purpose. This proposal for a mandatory exception, however, allows members States to apply licenses on certain types of content – meaning that with broad licensing schemes the exception could be rendered ineffective. If this is the solution, we would prefer the broad existing education exception from the InfoSoc Directive to be made mandatory. The new exception will only make the situation worse in those countries that already have a wide education exception in place.

So what’s the bottom line?

After five years of public debate about reforming copyright for the EU, which was both time and energy consuming, the free knowledge movement cannot be satisfied with what we are facing. Safeguarding the public domain for visual works is a leap in the right direction, and simplifying the use of out-of-commerce works by cultural heritage institutions is a small but helpful step. However, these two improvements come at the cost of a new, exclusive right that will complicate the sharing of news content. Additionally, content filtering means a huge shift in liability of platforms. This can result in over-policing users’ activity online, which in the future could be extended to other forms of speech and bring internet censorship by private entities. Furthermore, the education exception threatens to limit currently free uses of content by teachers that many member states allow.

The current copyright reform will only modestly improve access to knowledge online. Instead it will likely restrict it. It also is a far cry away from achieving the Commission’s own ambition to “break down national silos.”

All these reasons are why Wikimedia, as things currently look, cannot support the EU’s proposed copyright reform.

Dimitar Dimitrov, Free Knowledge Advocacy Group
Allison Davenport, Technology Law and Policy Fellow, Legal

Magic Numbers

22:11, Wednesday, 06 2019 February UTC

Previously posted on the 2018 Performance Calendar

Guidelines like RAIL are popular in the web performance community. They often define time limits that must be respected, like 100ms for what feels instantaneous, or 1000ms for the limit of acceptable response time.

Prominent people in the performance community keep telling us that there's a lot of science behind those numbers.

I've always been skeptical of that claim, and earlier last year I set out to find out if there's any merit to those numbers by doing an extensive literature review of web performance perception academic research. Here are some of the findings from that project.

Following the citation trail

If you follow paper citations, some classic papers keep showing up as references. And in the world of web performance, two
papers get cited a lot more than any other.

Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions by Miller, 1968 and Response Times: The 3 Important Limits by Nielsen, 1993/2014.

Nielsen essentially takes some of the numbers from the Miller paper, brushes the dust of off them since they were pre-web and presents them in a simpler fashion that everyone understands, stating that they apply to the web. What Nielsen doesn't do, however, is prove that those numbers are true with research of any kind. Jakob Nielsen is simply stating these limits as facts, but no science has been done to prove that they are true. And ever since, the entire web community has believed what a self-proclaimed expert said on the matter and turned it into guidelines. Surely, if an authoritative-looking man with glasses who holds a PhD in HCI states something very insistingly, it must be true.

Trust me, I know things!

What about the Miller paper? After all, if Nielsen insists that those principles are an absolute truth that hasn't changed in 50 years, maybe it's because Miller's research was so compelling to start with? I think everyone who believes that the numbers found in RAIL and similar guidleines are real should read the Miller paper, the origin of these pervasive magic numbers. Not only Miller doesn't back up any magic number stated with any research of any kind - it's really just a giant subjective essay - it contains gems that Nielsen didn't seem to find useful to include in his cleaned up version of it:

If he has made an error that the system can detect, he should be allowed to complete his segment of thought hefore he is interrupted or told he is locked out. After two seconds and before four seconds following completion of keying in his "thought" he should be informed of his error and either "told" to try again, or told of the error he made.
Comment: It is rude (i.e., disturbing) to be interrupted in mid-thought. The annoyance of the interruption makes it more difficult to get back to the train of thought. The two-second pause enables the user to get his sense of completion following which an error indication is more acceptable.

Miller advocates to intentionally delay errors by a whole 2 seconds, in order to avoid disturbing the user's train of thought. If it sounds silly and dated, it's because it is, just like the rest of Miller's paper. Like Nielsen's, it means well, but pulls magic numbers out of thin air. Not a single experiment was conducted, not a single human being studied or surveyed in the making of these magic numbers. No research data to verify the claims.

What happens when you do real science

Are 100 ms Fast Enough? Characterizing Latency Perception Thresholds in Mouse-Based Interaction by Forch, Franke, Rauh, Krems 2017 looked into one of the most popular magic numbers from the Miller/Nielsen playbook: 100ms as the treshold for what feels instantaneous. Here's the key result of that study:

The latency perception thresholds’ range was 34–137 ms with a mean of 65 ms (Median = 54 ms) and a standard deviation of 30 ms.

This is quite different than the 100ms universal treshold we keep hearing about. The study goes on to show that subjects with a habit of playing action video games tend to have a lower threshold than others. Showing that cultural difference can affect that limit.

Googler revealing the next iteration of RAIL guidelines

When you think about it, it does make sense that the real threshold is a range that depends on demographics, and that there's no reason there should be a universal threshold that happens to be a round number. It would be all too magical, wouldn't it?

Proving universal facts about mankind based on students down the hall

Can you spot the person younger than 19 or older than 36?

A major weakness in a lot of papers doing real science I've reviewed, however, is that when actual research on people is done, it's usually on a group that lacks diversity. It's often whoever scientists have easy access to. Typically students from the same university. They're subjects that are educated, proficient with technology use and often with a monetary incentive to participate, which obviously skews the results. And yet, after performing a study on a dozen paid students, these research papers will often claim to have proven a universal truth about all human beings.This is actually true of the study I quoted earlier about the 100ms threshold, with the minor difference of students earning credits rather than money. Here's their description of study participants:

Twenty students (10 female, age 19–36 years, M = 23.45, SD = 3.32) which were recruited via the local psychology student mailing list took part in the experiment. All participants had normal or corrected-to-normal vision and normally used their right hand for handling computer mice. Participants signed an informed consent sheet at the beginning of the experiment and received partial course credit for participation.

Another very common weakness of studies I've found is that they're often performed in labs using fake browsers, predetermined browsing scenarios, or by having people watch videos of page loads. All of which are very disconnected from the real experience of browsing the web.Overall we should remain skeptical of studies' results when their experimental setup was questionable in those ways. While the 100ms study disproved the 100ms universality myth with just 20 people, it remains insufficient to prove that the different numbers that emerged were any more universal.

Everything sucks, now what?

Beyond magic numbers, my literature review revealed that very little real science has been done about web performance perception in general.

It is disappointing to find out that we don't know much about web performance from a scientific perspective. WPO stats might contain a lot of compelling-looking case studies, but the detailed data behind those is rarely, if ever, shared. And they're usually about how performance improvements may drive sales, without answering fundamental questions about whether things feel fast to users. Additionally, when performance improvements don't result in sales or traffic increases, they don't become a case study or something people announce proudly, which results in a self-selecting bias of industry stories of that nature.

My reaction to these disappointing findings from the literature review was to start working on original research of my own, on real Wikipedia users, as part of my work as a member of the Wikimedia Performance Team. The first results of which will be published early next year. I encourage the web performance community to do the same. The lack of science is a solvable problem, anyone can do original research and publish the data alongside the findings, so we can all make progress together on understanding how people truly perceive performance. And maybe we'll be able to come up with new guidelines based on numbers backed by science.

Photo credit: Doc Searls, Tulane Public Relations CC-BY-SA 2.0

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that supports the free knowledge platform Wikipedia, today announces that Victoria Coleman has stepped down from her role as Chief Technology Officer.

“Victoria joined us two years ago with the mandate to expand our system redundancies and refine our approach to technical program operations. I appreciate all her contributions and wish her well in the future,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation.

As the search for a new leader for the Technology team commences, Wikimedia’s Engineering Director Erika Bjune will be taking on an interim role as Chief Technology Officer.

#Wikidata - Naomi Ellemers and the relevance of #Awards

12:51, Tuesday, 05 2019 February UTC
In a 2016 blogpost, I mentioned the relevance of awards. At the time Professor Ellemers received an award and it was the vehicle to make that point in the story.

Today in an article in a national newspaper, Mrs Ellemers makes a strong point that the perception of awards is really poblematic. What they do is reinforce a bias that American science is superior. It leads to a perception by European students that it is the USA "where it is all happening". A perception that Mrs Ellemers argues is incorrect.

NB Mrs Ellemers is the recipient of the 2018 Career Contribution Award of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Wikidata re-inforces this bias for American science by including a rating for "science awards". This rating values awards by comparing them. This rating is done by an American organisation and the whole notion behind it is suspect because the assumptions are not necessarily / not at all beneficial for the practice of science.

How to counter such a bias? As far as I am concerned there is no value in making a distinction between awards and "science awards" and biased information like this should be removed. Just consider, when European science is considered less than American science... how would  African science be rated?
Thanks,
     GerardM

A forgotten upheaval

07:45, Tuesday, 05 2019 February UTC
Among the many amazing stories from India that went into the pages of science is that of Sindri fort. It is hardly mentioned in India anymore but it was of interest to Charles Lyell and whose work was significant also for Charles Darwin. This fort sank along with a large area around it on 16 January 1819 around 6.45 PM when the region was struck by an earthquake that also caused a tsunami. While this region sank, the northern edges a few kilometers away rose up. It formed a feature that was named as Allah Bund. It apparently became, for a while, a standard textbook example demonstrating a dynamic earth, one that was no longer God's static creation but one where sudden and catastrophic changes could occur. Some years ago, when I learned about the significance of this location in the history of geology and evolutionary thought, I decided that it needed a bit more coverage and began an entry in Wikipedia at Sindri Fort. When referring to geographical entities, Wikipedia articles can also be marked by coordinates (so as to show up on maps) but I had a lot of trouble figuring out where this fort stood, and having never been anywhere near Gujarat, I had set it aside after some fruitless searches across the largely featureless Rann of Kutch on Google Earth. Today, I happened to look up the work of a geologist A.B. Wynne and found that he had mapped the region in 1869 (along with the very meticulous people from the Survey of India). Fortunately, the Memoirs of the Geological Survey have recently been scanned by the Biodiversity Heritage Library and are readily available online. I downloaded the four map pages and stitched them into one large map which I then uploaded the map to Wikimedia Commons (the shared image repository of Wikipedias in various languages) at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kutch_geology.jpg and then altered the metadata template from one for information to "map" instead - this then allowed the image to be transferred to the MapWarper (an open-source system) installation at https://warper.wmflabs.org/ - finding a few corresponding points on the old map and the base map allowed me to overlay the image atop Google Earth by exporting a kml file of the alignment.
Wynne's 1869 map of the region (stitched)

I then looked up Google Earth to see what lay under the location of the ruins of the Sindri Fort indicated on the old map from 1869 and not very far (within a kilometer) from the marked location, lo and behold, there were faint traces of a structure which would be right where Sindri Fort stood. So here it is for anyone interested. It is quite possible that the location is well-known to locals, but it was still quite thrilling that one could work this out from afar thanks to the accessibility of information. It would not have been possible but for a combination of Wikipedia, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Internet Archive, Google Earth, the Warper project, and the numerous people behind all these who are working not just as researchers but as research enablers.


It would seem that this was not visible until the imagery of 2013.

More information

Dr. Kathleen Sheppard has been teaching her students how to edit Wikipedia as an assignment since 2017, with the support of our Wikipedia Student Program technology and staff. She has found that the “real-world” implications of the assignment inspire her students to work harder and better.

“Students, and in my experience especially the non-humanities engineering majors, think that the reason for writing in many classes—for the professor to see, grade, and stuff in a file to be forever lost to the void—is a waste of time. However, I drove home the point that writing for Wikipedia is a real transaction between the student and the real-world reader,” she wrote in a reflection on our blog early last year.

Now, not only have Dr. Sheppard’s students found value in the Wikipedia assignment, so has her institution. Dr. Sheppard was awarded the Faculty Experiential Learning Award at Missouri University of Science and Technology this year. As the announcement states,

In 2017, Sheppard, with the support of the Wikipedia Education Foundation, introduced a semester-long assignment in her History of Science in Latin America course to promote student engagement and support student learning. Pairs of students selected an article related to science and Latin America on Wikipedia to edit. They analyzed the article for content gaps, did research, and wrote additional text that was then peer-reviewed. Using critical thinking, research, writing, and editing skills and their own knowledge from STEM fields, the students wrote for a public audience within the standards of scholarly publication. By the end of the first semester, the 26 students in the class added 28,300 words to Wikipedia in 11 different articles ranging from Aztec society to Spanish Missions in the Americas. Their edited articles have been viewed close to one million times.

“As with every new classroom tool, we must ask ourselves how students will engage with it and how the tool will help them thrive,” says Dr. Sheppard. “With the resources developed by Wiki Education, students gained in depth understanding of how Wikipedia works and they learned the writing process—from beginning to end—and they had fun doing it.”

Congratulations, Dr. Sheppard!


If you’re interested in incorporating a Wikipedia editing assignment into your course, visit teach.wikiedu.org for all you need to get started or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.


Image: All rights belong to Dr. Kathleen Sheppard.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, an exeption to my rules

12:23, Sunday, 03 2019 February UTC
When I add scientists to Wikidata, I really want something to link to, an external source like ORCID, Google Scholar Viaf.. When I link publications it is the data at ORCID I link to, I don't do manual linking.

From the sources I have read, Dr Moeti is the kind of person who deserves a Wikipedia article. Her work and the people she works with, the cases she works not only deserve recognition it is imho vitally important that they do, that you learn about them. This is why I made exceptions to my rule.

This is her Scholia, this is her Reasonator and please, take an interest.
Thanks,
      GerardM
The Wikimedia Foundation is a research organisation. No two ways about it; it has its own researchers that not only perform research on the Wikimedia projects and communities, they coordinate research on Wikimedia projects and communities and it produces its own publications. As such it qualifies to become an ORCID Member organisation.

The benefits are:
  • Authenticating ORCID iDs of individuals using the ORCID API to ensure that researchers are correctly identified in your systems
  • Displaying iDs to signal to researchers that your systems support the use of ORCID
  • Connecting information about affiliations and contributions to ORCID records, creating trusted assertions and enabling researchers to easily provide validated information to systems and profiles they use
  • Collecting information from ORCID records to fill in forms, save researchers time, and support research reporting
  • Synchronizing between research information systems to improve reporting speed and accuracy and reduce data entry burden for researchers and administrators alike
At this time the quality of information about Wikimedia research is hardly satisfactory. As is the standard; announcements are made about a new paper and as can be expected the paper is not in Wikidata. The three authors are not in ORCID, as is usual for people who work in the field of computing so there is no easy way to learn about their publications.

What will this achieve; it will be the Wikimedia Foundation itself that will push information about its research to ORCID and consequently at Wikidata we can easily update the latest and greatest. It is also an important step for documentation about becoming discoverable. It is one thing to publish Open Content, when it is then hard to find, it is still not FAIR and the research does not have the hoped for impact. It also removes an issue that some researchers say they face; they cannot publish about themselves on Wikimedia projects. 

Another important plus; by indicating the importance of having scholarly papers known in ORCID we help reluctant scientists understand that yes, they have a career in open source, open systems but finding their work is very much needed to be truly open.
Thanks,
       GerardM

weeklyOSM 445

19:20, Saturday, 02 2019 February UTC

22/01/2019-28/01/2019

Logo

Revert a four-year-old building import? 1 | © Map data OpenStreetMap contributors

Mapping

  • The proposal for crossing:island=*, which is intended to indicate the existence of a pedestrian island at a road crossing, has been approved.
  • The new attribute embedded_rails=*, which can be used if there is a railway on a highway and this space is shared with vehicles, has also been approved.
  • The proposal about the mapping of disputed boundaries in OSM can now be voted on. John Paris’ proposal has reached version 1.6 and incorporates a lot of feedback based on previous versions.
  • Stefano Maffulli suggests formalising the key building:soft_storey= so that it can be used if a building has at least one building level that is significantly more flexible or weak in lateral load resistance than the levels above and below. According to his proposal, the tag has already been used 13,000 times, mainly during efforts to map buildings for the Open Cities Kathmandu project.
  • The question as to whether the tag landuse= should be used based solely on landuse or (as it is now as a mixture of that and landcover) can lead to emotional discussions. This time the question "How should areas, which are considered as forest by authorities but look more like scrub or scree, be tagged?", led to a discussion with around 100 responses on the tagging mailing list.
  • An email on the Talk-Asia mailing list summarises individual assessments made by volunteer mappers about Grab’s GlobalLogic OSM team’s edits in Thailand.
  • Andrzej thinks that the current addressing schema does not cover all, even basic scenarios. In his mail he points to several UK-related issues and to a summary page in the wiki. This started a longer discussion on talk-GB.
  • In his OSM diary will_p shares his thoughts about the usage of addr:place in the UK and lists some examples which don’t meet the wiki definition by varying degrees.

Community

  • OSM announced the 5,000,000,000th node on Twitter. The node was added by Kazykan and belongs to a building in Russia.
  • Geochicas tweeted an infographic summarising their activities, projects, alliances and community growth during 2018.
  • Faith Taylor from the University of Portsmouth is looking for volunteer community members in Austria who can help with a mapathon during the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna the week of the 8th to the 12th of April.
  • The "Thanks" extension has been installed on the OSM wiki, making it easy to thank other wiki contributors for their improvements.
  • Mateusz Konieczny attempted to list the different roles of contributors in the OSM ecosystem.

Imports

  • Frederik Ramm suggested reverting a four-year-old building import in Ulster County, New York State, because only simple squares had been imported instead of the correct building outlines. Two years ago the import was featured by Worst of OSM.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The Membership Working Group’s report on the unusual signups before the OSMF election and the board’s reaction to it sparked off numerous discussions. There have been multiple questions (some of which have so far gone unanswered) and requests for GlobalLogic employees to be excluded from the foundation.
  • Since the beginning of the year, the OSMF has received applications for new Local Chapters from Ireland and Uganda. All current applications can be found on the overview page.
  • In a blog post titled Entryism in Open Communities, Steven Feldman wonders whether he was wrong to consider concerns about corporate takeovers. He concludes that OSM and OSGeo have become mainstream; will be of interest to commercial entities; and the potential for conflicts of interest is likely to grow. He suggests revisiting the articles of association to ensure adequate protection.

Events

  • OSGeo’s flagship event, the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), which will take place from the 26th to 30th of August 2019 in Bucharest, Romania, is open for registration.

    Also note that FOSS4G Italy will take place from the 20th to 24th of February in Padova.

  • The State of the Map Africa, which will take place this year in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast from the 22nd to the 24th of November 2019, is still looking (Google docs) for speakers. Proposals and nominations of suitable speakers are invited.

Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT expects that the Microgrants program that was established in 2017 will provide grants to 8 to 10 communities to improve their ability "to address the barriers they face to scaling their work". The program will focus on diversity and representation, innovation, sustainability and continuity.

Software

  • Sascha Fendrich reports that the openrouteservice (ORS) team at HeiGIT, in collaboration with the VROOM project, has contributed an ORS routing backend to the VROOM software. Now, VROOM is able to solve travelling salesman and other vehicle routing problems using OpenStreetMap data. A dedicated VROOM API will soon be available via openrouteservice.

Programming

  • The Linux Foundation announced that the application base created by Mapzen is being merged into The Linux Foundation. Mapzen discontinued its services at the end of January 2018, due to the lack of a sustainable business model.
  • Will the iD editor start beeping soon? 😉 (via GitHub)

Releases

  • A new version of iD has been released. The highlights of version 2.13.0 are the inclusion of quality issues from KeepRight, support for MapRules, a service to use presets from third party websites such as Radiant, and the possibility to quickly centre and zoom on a feature, note, or data issue.

Did you know …

  • … the JOSM Trick to switch between Dual Images (lower / higher zoom levels), you simply define a second Image Layer with a lower zoom max (i.e. z18) to avoid switching to the high zoom image when you want to interpret information from the lower image first.
  • … the website mapschool provides an introduction to digital cartography in English, Italiano, Español, Svenska, Français, 日本語, Português, Deutsch, Nederlands, Український and 한국어.
  • … PyQGIS 101 is a QGIS Python Tutorial designed for non-programmers.

OSM in the media

  • English and German (automatic translation) media have also covered the signup of 100 GlobalLogic employees, which caused the investigation by the OSM Membership Working Group discussed above.

Other “geo” things

  • The website MIT Technology Review features an article on how crowdsourced maps can help driverless cars by solving major current issues such as the slow update cycle of road data and the sparse mapping of roadside infrastructure. According to the article, Mapillary, which creates maps and catalogues roadside objects based on uploaded streetside images, is assumed to have potential to fill the gap of missing data for autonomous driving. Mapillary, which is free for non-commercial and personal use, charges licence fees from its commercial customers.
  • Rose Wanjiru reflects on Kenya’s Capital FM about the importance of GIS for settlement development in Kenya and how OSM can contribute to it.
  • A post from a Pokémon Go player on Reddit asks how often Niantic applies updates from OpenStreetMap. Suggested dates of last update include mid 2016 and early 2017.
  • Switzerland’s wonderful history of detailed mapping means you can see how the country’s glaciers have shrunk over time.
  • In Germany, "DasDing" reports (automatic translation) that Google Maps (the smartphone application) now has warnings about speed cameras. However, this would forbid (automatic translation) the use of the app by people driving in Germany (and any other places with similar legislation).
  • TomTom has sold its telematics unit for $1 billion in order to better compete with Google in maps and navigation.
  • Finally two fascinating movies. Ten months ago photographer Páraic McGloughlin was able to compile a great animation "Arena" using images collected over months from Google Earth. His twin brother, Kevin, surpassed this with his stop-motion-style animation "Epoch".

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Arlon Réunion au Pays d’Arlon 2019-02-04 belgium
Toronto Mappy Hour 2019-02-04 canada
London Missing Maps Monthly Mapathon London 2019-02-05 uk
Toulouse Rencontre mensuelle 2019-02-06 france
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2019-02-06 germany
Helsinki Missing Maps Mapathon at Finnish Red Cross HQ – Feb 2019 2019-02-07 finland
Dresden Stammtisch Dresden 2019-02-07 germany
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-07 france
Berlin 128. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2019-02-08 germany
Ulm ÖPNV-Mapathon Ulm 2019-02-09 germany
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Zurich OSM Stammtisch Zurich 2019-02-11 switzerland
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2019-02-12 france
Salt Lake City SLC Mappy Hour 2019-02-12 united states
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2019-02-13 germany
Barcelona Mapes i Birres Febrer (Trobada d’usuaris d’OpenStreetMap)[1] 2019-02-15 spain
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2019-02-19 germany
Derby East Midlands Pub meetup 2019-02-19 england
Salt Lake City SLC Map Night 2019-02-19 united states
Reading Missing Maps Reading Mapathon 2019-02-19 uk
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2019-02-19 germany
Mumble Creek OpenStreetMap Foundation public board meeting 2019-02-20 everywhere
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2019-02-20 germany
Padua FOSS4G-IT 2019 (OSMit2019) 2019-02-20-2019-02-24 italy
Salt Lake City SLUG meeting (with OSM presentation) 2019-02-21 united states
Greater Vancouver area Metrotown mappy Hour 2019-02-22 canada
Biella Incontro mensile 2019-02-23 italy
Manila 【MapaTime!】 @ co.lab 2019-02-23 philippines
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2019 2019-02-23-2019-02-24 germany
Rennes Créer ses propres cartes avec uMap 2019-02-24 france
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-02-11 france
Dresden FOSSGIS 2019 2019-03-13-2019-03-16 germany
Portmarnock Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-03-25-2019-03-29 ireland
Montpellier State of the Map France 2019 2019-06-14-2019-06-16 france
Angra do Heroísmo Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-06-24-2019-06-29 portugal
Edinburgh FOSS4GUK 2019 2019-09-18-2019-09-21 united kingdom
Heidelberg Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-09-18-2019-09-23 germany
Heidelberg HOT Summit 2019 2019-09-19-2019-09-20 germany
Heidelberg State of the Map 2019 (international conference) 2019-09-21-2019-09-23 germany
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, PierZen, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, SomeoneElse, Guillaume Rischard, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, Tordanik, YoViajo, adrianxoc, derFred, kartonage.

Wikimedia Foundation announces Lisa Lewin as new Trustee

20:00, Thursday, 31 2019 January UTC

Lisa Lewin, Managing Partner at Ethical Ventures, a New York City based management consulting firm, will be the newest member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees oversees the Wikimedia Foundation and its work, and serves as the organization’s ultimate corporate authority. As an incoming trustee, Lisa will serve a two year term effective immediately.

Lisa has worked in strategic growth and development her whole career, helping launch new ventures and increase the impact and growth potential of legacy businesses. She began her career in research and consulting with The NPD Group and BCG before joining McGraw-Hill and rising to vice president of their professional education group.

She founded and led Mindgate Media, an education technology consultancy, and later joined Pearson plc as president of their teacher education group, eventually leading their global learning technology teams spanning six continents. In 2016 she joined The Ready, a consulting firm specializing in organizational transformation, where she remains a senior advisor. In 2018 she founded Ethical Ventures, which advises senior executives at corporations and large nonprofits on navigating change and building thriving organizations with a positive impact on society.

“I am thrilled to be joining an organisation that is committed to ensuring the world continues to support freely accessible sources of information. This is a critical mission given the shifts in the global internet space,” said Lisa.

Lisa’s career long commitment to connecting the worlds of education and technology matches her passion for the Wikimedia Foundation’s vision of bringing knowledge to every human being.

Lisa joins Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Board Chair María Sefidari, Vice Chair Christophe Henner, and Board members Esra’a Al Shafei, Tanya Capuano, Dr. James Heilman, Dr. Dariusz Jemielniak, Raju Narisetti, and Nataliia Tymkiv.

“The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is fortunate to have Lisa Lewin joining us as a Trustee,” said María Sefidari, Board Chair. “Her capacity to connect technology with people who desire to learn will be invaluable as we begin to implement our Wikimedia 2030 strategic direction. I am confident she will both make a lasting impression on the Wikimedia movement and feel right at home in our diverse and global community of people who share that passion.”

A Senior Adventure with Wikipedia

17:35, Thursday, 31 2019 January UTC
JoAnne Growney
Image: File:JoAnne Growney Smiling-headshot.jpg, PraiseMath2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

JoAnne Growney recently learned Wikipedia editing in one of our professional development courses, where she created and expanded Wikipedia biographies about women mathematicians. Here she shares why she pushed to overcome the challenges facing new Wikipedia editors.

From my beginning, I have been a fan of encyclopedias.  I grew up on a farm and when I was in first grade a door-to-door salesman for Compton Encyclopedias sold my parents a set. It was so much fun to be able to look up answers to my millions of questions.  In later years I became a user of various other encyclopedias and also of the Oxford English Dictionary and Rodale’s Synonym Finder.  I thus am a perfectly-suited user for Wikipedia although it is only recently that I have known how large a resource Wikipedia is – grown in less than 20 years.  My awakening came at a family gathering at which several of us were talking about causes that we support and one of my sons-in-law mentioned his law-firm’s generous support of Wikipedia, commenting that to him, a patent attorney, it is a very valuable resource.

Although as a young girl I wanted to be a writer (like Louisa Alcott’s Jo), I was good in mathematics and was able to obtain scholarships in mathematics to finance a college education.  Math in those days was not popular with girls; in fact, it has been a very rare thing in my life to have female friends who are also in math. After college I experimented with graduate school and was lucky to do well enough to get funding, first for an MA and then for a PhD – and became both a parent and a professor. When my children were grown I had some extra time for writing and began to mix some poetry with my mathematics.  That mix has continued into retirement – in addition to writing poetry, I write a blog that offers many facets of the linkages I see between mathematics and poetry. (“Intersections – Poetry with Mathematics” – online since 2010 with more than a thousand postings at http://poetrywithmathematics.blogspot.com).

One of my current strong passions is to advocate for women in math and science, particularly with my granddaughters in mind.  When I talk with them I am encouraged to find that several of them are interested in STEM fields – and ideas such as “girls don’t do math” and “math is too hard” seem not part of their experiences or beliefs.

Late last summer (2018) I became a Wikipedia Fellow through The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Wiki Education. The course focused on editing articles on “Women in Science” and began meeting early in October and ended in December. The online video discussion sessions in which we shared questions and learned strategies with each other and the Wiki Education staff occurred each Wednesday.  There was plenty of material to review: how to find Wikipedia pages that needed work, then how to edit them, and how to interact with other volunteer editors with a stake in the topic. What I did accomplish needed the frequent help of our course’s Wikipedia Expert, Elysia Webb, who could fix the weirdness in one of my bibliographic entries or restore from oblivion the paragraph I had accidentally deleted . . . and so on.  Because of Elysia’s rescue services, I can continue to work at Wikipedia editing. And, as I write this, I am wondering whether Wikipedia might be able to recruit other seniors to the same status – people who will work on Wikipedia collaboratively with each other rather than independently.

With my rural conservative background, I found it hard in early years to be an outspoken advocate for women.  But, in the affirmative action struggles of my employer (Bloomsburg University), I found it possible to speak out for my students.  Now my poetry also often is a voice for change (https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol7/iss2/14/). And I LOVE the fact that I am now able to contribute to Wikipedia – the largest and most-read encyclopedia ever – I am more than pleased to help create an equitable math-science community for my granddaughters.

Monthly​ ​Report,​ November ​2018

21:29, Wednesday, 30 2019 January UTC

Highlights

  • Chief Programs Officer LiAnna Davis attended WikiCite 2018, a three-day conference in Berkeley, California, aimed at creating an open repository of all bibliographic data. WikiCite brings together Wikimedia community members, especially those who work on Wikidata, librarians, and other professionals whose work is connected to citations. The conference is structured as learning day, a strategy day, and a doing day. For the “doathon” day, LiAnna joined a group of librarians and Wikimedians who began mapping out what a curriculum might look like for teaching Wikidata skills to librarians. This scaffolding work will help as Wiki Education begins planning to launch a Wikidata Student Program in the next year.
  • In early November, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg spoke at the Global HR Forum in Seoul and at the International Forum for Educational Innovation at KAIST Daejeon. With Korean universities seeking new ways of providing students with better learning outcomes, concepts like “active learning” and “project-based assignments” are currently of high interest to instructors at institutions of higher education in South Korea. Frank talked about the way Wikipedia has increasingly been embraced as a teaching tool in the United States and other countries around the world. He provided examples of how students have a deeper learning experience and how teaching with Wikipedia improves students’ critical thinking, writing, and digital literacy skills. The many questions from attendees at both conferences were a testament to the high level of interest in the intersection of Wikipedia and higher education.
  • In Atlanta, Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson attended both the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and American Studies Association’s annual meetings. This was a great opportunity to speak to relevant scholars about our upcoming Wiki Scholars course, in which we’ll facilitate historians improving content related to the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage. At the NWSA meeting, Jami presented to faculty alongside Dr. Jenn Brandt, a former Wiki Scholar and instructor who teaches in our Wikipedia Student Program. We had the opportunity to share learning outcomes from first-time Wikipedia editing, and we expect several of the people we met to collaborate with Wiki Education as a part of our NWSA partnership.
  • We received more than 50 applications for our first Software Developer position, and hired Wes Reid — a talented developer with extensive experience both using and teaching the React and Ruby on Rails frameworks that undergird our Dashboard.

 

Programs

LiAnna attended WikiCite 2018, a three-day conference in Berkeley, California, aimed at creating an open repository of all bibliographic data. WikiCite brings together Wikimedia community members, especially those who work on Wikidata, librarians, and other professionals whose work is connected to citations. The conference is structured as learning day, a strategy day, and a doing day. For the “doathon” day, LiAnna joined a group of librarians and Wikimedians who began mapping out what a curriculum might look like for teaching Wikidata skills to librarians. This scaffolding work will help as Wiki Education begins planning to launch a Wikidata Student Program in the next year.

Wikidata education for librarians group at WikiCite 2018

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Fall 2018 in numbers, as of November 30:

  • 384 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (223, or 59%, were led by returning instructors).
  • 7,774 student editors were enrolled.
  • 62% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules.
  • Students edited 5,280 articles, created 451 new entries, and added 3.74 million words.

November is typically our busiest month of the fall term, and Fall 2018 was no exception. It’s around this time that students begin to take the plunge and move their contributions into the article mainspace. It’s an exciting time, but a busy one for the Wikipedia Student Program team.

And while we’re in the thick of Fall 2018, we’re working just as hard to get courses set up for the spring term. This means that Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal is reaching out to returning instructors as well as interfacing with new program participants as they undertake the Wikipedia assignment for the first time.

As always, we’re working diligently to ensure that we meet the needs of the community, our students, and our instructors as we all work together to improve Wikipedia.

Student work highlights

Bishop University’s “Memory, truth and reconciliation” students added 31,000 words to Wikipedia, creating five new articles and expanding several others about nations and peoples digging up the past in search of the truth. In the article Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Peru), readers can learn about how the Peruvian government sought to analyze the factors that led to widespread human rights violations, leading them to recommend reforms so that such violence could be avoided for the future. In the article Commission of Inquiry in Algeria, readers learn about a conflict that caused 150,000 deaths and 7,000 disappearances. The Commission’s report on who was responsible, however, was never released to the public. In examining these truth commissions, students examined countries’ searches for alternative national narratives and the complexities of “the truth.”

Only 7-11% of all biographies of chemists on Wikipedia are about women, despite the fact that 34% of all chemists are women in the United States alone! Notable women throughout history and across occupations have fallen into the content gender gap on Wikipedia, as their stories are told much less frequently than men. Students in Rebecca Barnes’ Introduction to Global Climate Change class had the opportunity to fill in some of that gap, creating an astonishing 25 biographies of women scientists. Their creations span from ecologists such as Pamela Templer and Erika Marín-Spiotta, biogeochemists like Claudia Benitez-Nelson, and Antarctic geophysicist Anne Grunow. These contributions help make Wikipedia a more equitable and thorough encyclopedia that includes coverage of notable scientists, regardless of gender.

Birds are more than just creatures that stand on power lines or make you nervous when you’ve just washed your car. They fill an important niche in our ecosystem that, if vacated, will send out ripples with long term repercussions. Even birds that seem commonplace, like swallows, can end up on a list of animals vulnerable to extinction. One University of Ottawa student in Patrick McCurdy’s Theories of the Media class chose to expand the article on the white-tailed swallow, which was a four sentence stub when they first began editing. They expanded the article tenfold, adding information about the white-tailed swallows’ habitat, a general description, as well as information about their vulnerable status, which was brought about by a loss of habitat. An effective way to help conservation efforts is awareness, so the expansion of this article could surely help to that end.

Two students in Emer O’Toole’s Irish Theatre course at Concordia University added content to the articles on Riders to the Sea and The Aran Islands, both of which were written by Irish Literary Renaissance playwright and author John Millington Synge. Riders of the Sea, a stage play first performed on February 25, 1904, at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, is a one act tragedy. Inspired by Synge’s trip to the Aran Islands, the play focuses on a woman who has lost her husband and five of her sons to the sea. By the play’s end the woman has lost her remaining two sons and remarks “They’re all gone now, and there isn’t anything more the sea can do to me..”, as her only living children are daughters, who will not go out to sea. Whereas Riders of the Sea is fiction, The Aran Islands is not and is a four part collection of journal entries regarding the geography and people of the Aran Islands. It was completed in 1901 and published six years later in 1907. In the journal entries Synge details the islands and its people, who were and still remain largely isolated from mainland Ireland. As such, the islands’ communities developed in specific ways that are reflected in the culture and language of the Aran Islands. Some of their traditions are no longer practiced or have changed, highlighting the importance of Synge’s work as they show these traditions as they were practiced during his visit to the island.

Doing good for others feels good. Warm-glow giving is the economic theory that explores why people give. A student in Benjamin Karney’s Social Psychology class expanded Wikipedia’s short article on this topic into a fairly comprehensive examination of the topic. They added details about the underlying economic models, the underlying perspectives in psychology and neuroscience, and the idea that it can lead to inefficient charitable giving.

People conceptualize their future self in a way that’s similar to how they think of other people, which can explain our tendency to treat our future selves badly (by eating unhealthily, not exercising, or saving less for retirement than we could afford to). Thanks to another student in this class, Wikipedia now has an article about this subject which explores topics like the philosophical foundations, underlying psychological theory, and the policy implications of the way we relate to our future selves. Other students in this class created articles on social cognitive neuroscience, social emotional development, and social vision, while others made substantial improvements to existing articles on ownership, intergroup relations, and social behavior, among others.

The mesopelagic zone is that portion of the ocean which starts at the depth where 1% of the light hitting the surface remains and ends at the point where no light is present. Students in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class made major improvements to the mesopelagic zone article, expanding it greatly and adding information about biology and biogeochemistry, human impacts, and research and exploration of this zone of the ocean. The Heceta Bank is a rocky bank off the coast of Oregon. Other students in the class created a substantial article about this ecologically and oceanographically important region. Other students made major expansions to a range of articles including the silica cycle, sea spray, and sea foam.

Bathymetric maps of the Heceta Bank were uploaded by students in Biogeochemical Earth and added to the relevant article.
Image: File:3-D Maps of Heceta Bank using multibeam sonar data…, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Information can be imparted by both the written word as well as images, something that Cal Poly Pomona students in Shonn Haren’s Information Literacy in the Digital Age class could probably tell you all about. One student found a picture of a painting of the Egyptian god Horus on a wall in the Temple of Hatshepsut. Recognizing its importance, the student chose to upload this, as they knew that it would help illustrate not only the overall figure of Horus, but also a specific attribute of his that is often discussed: the Eye of Horus.

The painting of Horus in the Temple of Hatshepsut.
Image: File:Painting of Horus in Temple.jpg, Cormac Lawler, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

A student in Barbara Mundy’s Aztec Art and Architecture course at Yale University also uploaded some great images and added them to appropriate Wikipedia articles. One shows a stone carving of Mesoamerican deity Tlaltecuhtli. Another is a side panel of the Stone of Motecuhzoma I, a pre-Colombian stone monolith.

Stone carving of Mesoamerican deity Tlaltecuhtli, uploaded by a student in
Barbara Mundy’s Aztec Art and Architecture course.
Image: File:Tlaltecuhtli stone carving.jpg, Pestocavatappi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Side panel of Stone of Motecuhzoma I, uploaded by a student in
Barbara Mundy’s Aztec Art and Architecture course.
Image: File:Side panel of Stone of Motecuhzoma I.jpg, Pestocavatappi,
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

And a student in Madeline Knickerbocker’s Aboriginal Peoples of North America to 1850 course at Simon Fraser University uploaded a photo of a man and woman from the Aleutian Islands dressed in ceremonial attire circa 1862. The student then added the image to the article about Unangan hunting headgear.

Man and woman from the Aleutian Islands dressed in ceremonial attire circa 1862, uploaded by a student in Madeline Knickerbocker’s Aboriginal Peoples of North America to 1850 course.
Image: File:Unangan parka hat bag basket KFGun 1862 LC MoF.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Scholars & Scientists Program

The academics and professionals in our seven Scholars & Scientists courses have been busy this month, improving articles on a wide range of topics. One of the groups, scheduled to finish in early December, has been hard at work polishing their work, while the others, which have a few more weeks to go, continue to develop theirs.

Wikipedia Fellows

Since only 17% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women, we have decided to run our successful Women in Science course again, which engages scientists in writing biography articles for women in STEM. Here is an update on all of the wonderful progress that course participants have made so far:

  • A Fellow created the Tanja Bosak article from scratch, weaving over 30 citations into this article. Bosak is an award-winning geobiologist from Croatia. Her work concerns “the formation of stromatolites and their interpretation in the rock record.”
  • Another Fellow expanded Susan Brown’s article, specifically sections on her biography and her research. Susan Brown was a researcher in fluid mechanics.
  • One Fellow created an article for Rosa M. Miró-Roig, a professor who specializes in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra.

The article for Rosalind Rickaby has doubled in size since one of our Fellows started contributing to it. Rickaby is a professor of biogeochemistry who researches paleoceanography.

Professor of microfluidics Sabeth Verpoorte now has an image in her biography.
Image: File:Sabeth Verpoorte 2018.jpg, Tarselli, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The article on the Valles Caldera was improved by one of our science Wikipedia Fellows.

Our Communicating Science course equips scientists with the tools to communicate their expertise to the public on Wikipedia. Here are some of the articles our science Wikipedia Fellows are working on, either in their articles or sandboxes:

A variety of improvements to the article about the mantle, the layer of the planet between the crust and the core

The article on the Valles Caldera was improved by one of our science Wikipedia Fellows.
Image: File:Valle Grande dome.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

We have two active humanities and social sciences courses working on articles and in their sandboxes. Here are a few of the pages they are improving:

Our interdisciplinary course includes a diverse group of scholars from the humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. Here are some examples of the work they have been contributing so far, mostly in sandboxes, to be added to articles next month:

  • One Fellow improved articles on multiple communication theories, such as media richness theory and media naturalness theory.
  • Another has been working on the article about Original Plumbing, a magazine for transgender men.
  • A Fellow is working on an expansion of the article on Joy Ladin, the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution.
  • Another has been expanding the article about media transparency.
  • There have also been a wide range of improvements to the disciplinary article on linguistics as a result of this course.

We have two active humanities and social sciences courses working on articles and in their sandboxes. Here are a few of the pages they are improving:

Our interdisciplinary course includes a diverse group of scholars from the humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. Here are some examples of the work they have been contributing so far, mostly in sandboxes, to be added to articles next month:

  • One Fellow improved articles on multiple communication theories, such as media richness theory and media naturalness theory.
  • Another has been working on the article about Original Plumbing, a magazine for transgender men.
  • A Fellow is working on an expansion of the article on Joy Ladin, the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution.
  • Another has been expanding the article about media transparency.
  • There have also been a wide range of improvements to the disciplinary article on linguistics as a result of this course.

Wiki Scholars

We have started a new professional development course in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to improve articles about Women’s Right to Vote and the 19th Amendment. Participants from the two sections of this course have selected and published their first round of Wikipedia articles. Here is a brief update on their improvements:

  • Take a look at Adelina Otero-Warren’s article. She was a suffragist from New Mexico. Her article now contains more information about her career, new citations, and the text has been cleaned up substantially.
  • In the course we have a team of two working to improve the article about Ida B. Wells. As a prominent, well-known suffragist, we are hoping to improve upon this article’s B-class rating, which is no small task.
  • If you read the article for Sara Yorke Stevenson, who was an American archaeologist and suffragist, you will see improvements and additions in every section of this article.
  • Frances Harper, an African-American abolitionist and suffragist, now has significantly more content thanks to the addition of several sources that are new to this article. One of our course participants reorganized this article and edited the prose so it is easier for readers to understand.
  • If you want to learn more about one of the founders of the The Maryland Suffrage News, look no further than the article for Edith Houghton Hooker. This article has seen several improvements since the beginning of this course.
  • Doesn’t it seem wrong that the Virginia Durant Young House had a Wikipedia article before Virginia Durant Young had one? One of our Wiki Scholars has since remedied this.
  • With a new lead and a completely reorganized Activism section, the article for Caroline Spencer no longer lacks references, which kept it at a stub class rating.

As with many historical figures, white suffragists are disproportionately documented. Tillie Paul was part of the Tlingit tribe, who were indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. She was a suffragist who fought not only for women’s right to vote, but also for Native Americans’ right to vote.

Mabel Lee in the Chinese Student Monthly in 1915 during her time at Barnard College. Uploaded by User:Emiliepichot Emiliepichot and added to Mabel Ping-Hua Lee‘s Wikipedia article in our NARA course.
Image: File:Mabel-lee-chinese-student-monthly-1915-sm.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Speakers on Prison Special tour San Francisco, 1919. Uploaded by User:BonnieEllenBurns.
Image: File:Speakers on Prison Special tour San Francisco 1919.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Visiting Scholars Program

Our Wikipedia Visiting Scholars continued to produce some great work this month. A stand-out is the promotion to Featured Article of California Pacific International Exposition half dollar. George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum added the article to his ever-expanding collection of Featured Articles, the highest quality content one can find on Wikipedia. This fifty-cent piece from 1935-6 was designed by sculptor Robert I. Aiken. One side depicts Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, while the other side includes buildings from the California Pacific International Exposition, held during that time in San Diego.

Reverse side of the California Pacific International Exposition half dollar.
Image: San diego-california pacific exposition half dollar commemorative reverse.jpg, public domain (uploaded by Searchme), via Wikimedia Commons.

In the time Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight has been a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, she has written an incredible number of articles about historically notable women. This month she passed the 400 mark, adding number 401 to the list: Jennie Casseday (1840-1893). Though an accident left her physically disabled, Casseday was an active philanthropist known in particular for her “Flower Mission.”

Jennie Casseday, an American philanthropist, is on Wikipedia thanks to Visiting Scholar Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight.
Image: Jennie Casseday.png, public domain (uploaded by Rosiestep), via Wikimedia Commons.

Rosie wrote several other articles about notable women this month, too. Another example is Matilda Carse (1835-1917), an Irish-born American businesswoman and leader of the temperance movement, co-founding the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Deep Carbon Observatory Visiting Scholar Andrew Newell made several improvements to the article about diamond, improving the lead description and several sections.

 

Advancement

Fundraising

Chief Advancement Officer TJ Bliss returned from paternity leave during the last week of November. He hit the ground running by traveling to San Francisco to host Angela DeBarger of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in a site visit at our San Francisco office. Angela is the program officer for the major grants Wiki Education has received from the Hewlett Foundation. During her visit, Angela met with Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and TJ to get an update on the grant work, including a general update about our work (Hewlett’s main grant is for unrestricted general operating support) and a specific update about our work related to building a sustainable business model. In July, Angela provided Wiki Education a $50,000 Organizational Effectiveness grant to assist with our business model effort. After meeting with Frank and TJ, Angela had lunch with most of the Wiki Education staff who work in-person at the San Francisco office. Several remote staff also video-conferenced in. Each staff member took a few minutes to introduce themselves and describe their specific work. Angela asked several insightful questions and robust discussion ensued. Overall, it was wonderful to welcome Angela into our Wiki Education family and help her more deeply understand the work that we do.

During his first few days back from leave, TJ sent several follow-up emails to potential funders, requesting meetings. Several funders responded, some with news that they will not be able to provide funding in 2019 and others with an invitation to speak on the phone early in the New Year.

In late October, LiAnna wrote and submitted an application for the 2019 Annual Planning Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. In November, she received feedback from Delphine Menard on our application and worked with several Wiki Education staff to provide responses. LiAnna also posted our 2019 application on Meta.

Finally, while he was in San Francisco, TJ met in person with the newly formed Advancement Team, which he leads, and together with Jami, Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald, and Outreach and Communications Associate Cassidy Villeneuve, put plans together for a team retreat in December.

Partnerships

This month, we attended the History of Science Society’s annual meeting in Seattle, where Chief Technology Officer Sage Ross met instructors interested in assigning students to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of science history.

Samantha attended the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego and then joined National Communication Association (NCA) members in Salt Lake City for their meeting. At NCA, Samantha had the opportunity to join a panel discussion about the use of open educational resources. Wiki Education is no stranger to discussions of open educational practice, so we were excited to participate in that session, especially as we continue to offer free teaching tools and resources.

In Atlanta, Jami attended both the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and American Studies Association’s annual meetings. This was a great opportunity to speak to relevant scholars about our upcoming Wiki Scholars course, in which we’ll facilitate historians improving content related to the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage. At the NWSA meeting, Jami presented to faculty alongside Dr. Jenn Brandt, a former Wiki Scholar and instructor who teaches in our Wikipedia Student Program. We had the opportunity to share learning outcomes from first-time Wikipedia editing, and we expect several of the people we met to collaborate with Wiki Education as a part of our NWSA partnership.

Later in the month, Samantha and Jami attended the American Anthropological Association’s meeting nearby in San Jose. Jami joined Wiki Education Board member Dr. Carwil Bjork-James to get anthropologists excited about improving Wikipedia.

Communications

We celebrated the work and experiences of individuals in our professional development courses on the blog this month. Helen Siaw, a member of the American Chemical Society and PhD candidate and research assistant at Emory University Department of Chemistry, wrote about Wikipedia as a tool for public engagement with science. Youngah Kwon, graduate student at Columbia University and a member of the American Chemical Society, also wrote about her experience in our professional development course. She views Wikipedia editing as a chance to counterbalance the inequalities that women often encounter in STEM fields. We shared two more success stories from our professional development courses, as well. Dr. Michael Ramirez improved the masculinity Wikipedia article from a sociologist’s perspective, at a time when people were looking for more information about the concept. And Dr. Jenn Brandt brought Margaret Atwood’s Wikipedia article up to Good Article quality and even returned to the article seven months after her course to make improvements the day Atwood announced that she’s writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

Blog posts:

External media:

 

Technology

November was a busy month of preparing for big projects to come. We received more than 50 applications for our first Software Developer position, and hired Wes Reid — a talented developer with extensive experience both using and teaching the React and Ruby on Rails frameworks that undergird our Dashboard.

Sage, along with former Summer 2018 interns Urvashi Verma and Pratyush Singhal, will be mentoring a new Outreachy internship project beginning in December: Cressence T. Yakam will create a wizard for setting up a new program with the right settings and course type for Programs & Events Dashboard.

We also reached a major milestone with the Dashboard codebase, which is now running the latest release of the React JavaScript framework. Getting to that point required completing a long, gradual conversion process: over the last year more, we rewrote the portions of the Dashboard that used the now-deprecated JavaScript library that was at the heart initial version of the Dashboard, replacing it with tools that have become standard and well-supported in the meantime. We expect this to reduce the learning curve for new developers working on the Dashboard, and to unlock major performance-related features that will be especially relevant for those using the Dashboard from slow networks. Along the way, we deployed a number of bug fixes and user experience improvements, including several from students participating in Google Code-In.

 

Finance & Administration

The total expenses for November were $175,000, ($36K) less than budgeted. Fundraising was under by ($50K). The consulting budget is being utilized, however in the month of November, only $2K out of $50K budgeted, the remaining $2K under relates to travel under budget. Programs were over budget for the month of November by $13K- $9K relating to personnel, where one employee was scheduled to come off in November, but stayed on, as well as PTO was earned and unused and $4K in Printing scheduled in prior months. General and Administrative was over by $1K, due to accounting preparation for the upcoming Audit scheduled for December.

Wiki Education expenses by area for month of November 2018.

The Year-to-date expenses are $795,000 ($262K) under budget of $1,057,000. Fundraising is under budget by (165K). This was due to not hosting a cultivation event ($10K) and correlating travel costs that would have been attributed to the event ($3K) and a change in plans with regard to outside consulting ($152K). Programs are under budget by ($66K), mostly stemming from Q1: ($19K) Payroll and Benefits, ($17K) Professional Fees, (22K) Relating to Travel and Volunteer development, ($8K) Printing the strategic plan that was printed September and we received the copies in early October. This is posted as an adjustment in November, as the previous months have already been published. The cost for the printing was $4K, so we’ll remain underspent on this anyway for the rest of this FY. Technology is under by ($9K)-due to outside services that have been pushed into fall ($12K) with an increase in salary (+6K) and underspending in internet ($3K). General and Administration are under by ($24K) with ($11K) professional fees including audit fees pushed to December due to scheduling, ($6K) under in reduction of Occupancy Costs, (4K) in General supply costs, and ($3K) in IT/ Desk equipment.

Wiki Education expenses by area, year to date as of month of November 2018.

Office of the ED

Current priorities:

  • Preparing for the upcoming audit
  • Leading the organization through changes that come as a result of our new strategy
  • Overseeing a couple of smaller changes aimed at improving organizational effectiveness

In early November, Frank spoke at the Global HR Forum in Seoul and at the International Forum for Educational Innovation at KAIST Daejeon. With Korean universities seeking new ways of providing students with better learning outcomes, concepts like “active learning” and “project-based assignments” are currently of high interest to instructors at institutions of higher education in South Korea. Frank talked about the way Wikipedia has increasingly been embraced as a teaching tool in the United States and other countries around the world. He provided examples of how students have a deeper learning experience and how teaching with Wikipedia improves students’ critical thinking, writing, and digital literacy skills. The many questions from attendees at both conferences were a testament to the high level of interest in the intersection of Wikipedia and higher education. Frank’s presentation at the Global HR Forum got covered by the Korean news site The Science Times.

Frank as speaker at the Global HR Forum 2018 in Seoul, as part of the plenary session Future Education and Edutech (with Hyun Chong Lee, Jasen Wang, and Pasi Sahlberg)

Also in November, Frank and Jami traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to meet with faculty at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. During this meeting, they presented the work Wiki Education has been doing over the past couple of years and then discussed different options for collaboration. As a result, faculty of the Cronkite School declared their interest in Wiki Education’s new Scholars and Scientists program and started working with Frank on a joint grant proposal for a larger project in 2019.

As part of the standard hiring process, Frank interviewed job candidate Wes Reid who will join Wiki Education as our first software developer in January 2019.

Visitors

  • Lane Rasberry, Wikimedian-in-Residence at the UVA Data Science Institute (DSI)
  • Angela DeBarger, Program Officer in Education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Andrew Lih, Wikimedia DC
  • Rob Fernandez, Wikimedia DC
  • Viswanathan Prabhakaran, Wikimedia India
  • Pavan Santhosh Surampudi, Telugu Wikipedia/CIS-A2K
Lane visits Wiki Education in the Presidio of San Francisco

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