en.planet.wikimedia

August 04, 2015

Wikimedia Foundation

La mujer que nunca conociste: the first Iberocoop contest on women biographies

Segunda Editatona.jpg
Editatona organized by Wikimedia Mexico. Photo by Wotancito, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Clelia Luro was an Argentine journalist, writer, social activist and supporter of liberation theology who spent her life advocating for the reform of the civil status of Catholic priests. This would enable them to choose between celibacy and marriage, as Catholic ministers are not allowed to marry or have children.

Her story, and those of almost 400 other women, have been written on Wikipedia thanks to the largest international Wikimedia contest based on female biographies.

La mujer que nunca conociste (“The woman you never knew”) was run by Wikimedia Iberocoop—a broad collection of Spanish-, Portuguese-, and Italian-speaking Wikimedia affiliates—during the months of March and April 2015, alongside other initiatives like workshops and edit-a-thons held locally by chapters and user groups. Many people worked to organize the contest, including volunteers and staff from seven different chapters, user groups and working groups across Ibero-America and Europe.

Editatón - Género y brecha digital 3.jpg
Group photo from the edit-a-thon on the gender gap run by Wikimedia Argentina. Photo by Giselle Bordoy, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

We identified three main aspects which made the contest successful:

  1. The contest was suggested for some time in the Iberocoop circle, but the concept really took off during Iberoconf 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference saw a substantial increase in the number of female participants compared to the previous year. There, we had the chance to get to know each other, share our visions, and set the ground rules for the contest. In-person meetings can have a major impact on developing projects and exploring new ideas.
  2. Working amongst people with similar cultural and social backgrounds has made communication easier and smoother. While the countries in Iberocoop are far from identical, we do have a shared sense of welcoming and caring. We started with five organizers, and ended up with almost twenty. New participants’ ideas have been listened to, and their work greatly appreciated. A caring and friendly atmosphere is essential for a good initiative.
  3. After lengthy discussion, we decided not to apply for a grant to cover our costs. As this was our first experience organizing such a big initiative, we preferred to have sole control over the execution of the project. This has proven to be very effective, since we have been able to manage the unexpected with ease, without the pressure of having fixed outcomes to achieve. Having this flexibility is very useful in preventing volunteers from burning out and suffering from stress.

EditatonBolivia2015 2.JPG
Editatón and workshop organized by Wikimedia Bolivia. Photo by CALEIDOSCOPIC, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Our efforts and commitment led to amazing results. The contest saw the creation of 389 new articles; had 43 participants, of which 17 were women (38%); and a total of 13.7 megabytes of text content was added. But these numbers are not the most important thing—what we’re really proud of is how we achieved them, and how we set a baseline for new initiatives and projects. We are already discussing how we can improve our work and organize a bigger and better contest next year. If you studied some Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, it’s time to start practicing again and think about which articles you might write!

AtropineWikimedia Italia

by Atropine at August 04, 2015 05:17 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

91% of instructors say they’ll teach with Wikipedia again

At the end of each term, the Wiki Education Foundation asks Classroom Program instructors to reflect on their experience. That data helps us improve the tools and support we offer to instructors. It also gives us a chance to see the real impact of the Wikipedia writing assignment on instructors and students.

The result was great to hear:

  • 91% said they will, or plan to, teach with Wikipedia again.
  • 96% of instructors were happy with their support from program managers.
  • 94% of the instructors who reported using our Dashboard tool felt it was useful or very useful.

Here’s what some instructors told us:

  • “The Assignment Design Wizard, Dashboard, and handouts were all great. Most of all, though, I was impressed by the offers of assistance from the [Wiki Education Foundation] staff. You made me feel quite welcome and supported as a newbie to assignment creation. Thanks!”
  • “It was as exciting as the reps assured me it would be. Every student came to class prepared for every discussion! They were as proud of themselves as I was of them. Thank you!”

We were also excited to hear about the impact the assignment made for student editors:

  • “In their reflections on the assignments, my students consistently noted that it helped them integrate and understand the course material, practice writing in an accessible way, and feel like their work in the course had an impact on the world around them.”
  • “Being able to see the results of their efforts immediately available online was a great motivator for some students. During a presentation, a student proudly pointed out the Wikipedia infobox she created that appears on the first page of Google search results on her article topic.”

One instructor shared some comments from students:

  • “I am certain that this is the feeling that some artists/playwrights get when they create and perform their work. I remember watching an interview on Okada Toshiki, and he said that he wants to change society, even if it is through a small medium like theater. They know that they are reaching an audience and making a change in some way, even if it is just a slight change. That is exactly how I feel.”
  • “It feels nice thinking that somewhere in the world, someone could be reading my page and learn something new. Since for pretty much my whole life my teacher or professor was the only one to read my writing […] it’s nice knowing that many people could read and benefit from the hard work I put into this article.”

We’re proud to be supporting instructors who are opening the doorway to such a powerful learning experience.

by Eryk Salvaggio at August 04, 2015 03:00 PM

Wikimedia UK

Science and Wikipedia: a round-up

Entrance to the Wellcome Trust building, host of this year’s Wikipedia Science Conference

This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikimedia UK volunteer and convener of the Wikipedia Science Conference

The past year has been eventful and exciting for anyone interested in how Wikipedia can support the process and understanding of science. Here are a few stories that have caught my attention, plus a next step that anyone can take.

We knew that the free encyclopedia is one of the top ten most-visited web sites, but thanks to the charity CrossRef we now know that it is in the top ten sites via which people reach scholarly papers.

However, not all links are equal. A paper published on Arxiv and summarised in the MIT Technology Review finds that open-access papers are 47% more likely to be cited on English Wikipedia than closed-access papers. The authors concludeopen access policies have a tremendous impact on the diffusion of science to the broader general public through an intermediary like Wikipedia.”

Closed access versus open access can be a matter of life and death, as shown by a New York Times article about the African Ebola outbreak, which noted that some crucial research was practically unavailable because “downloading one of the papers would cost a physician [in Liberia] $45, about half a week’s salary.”

The single most-used source on Ebola in affected countries at the peak of the African outbreak was Wikipedia, as we now know thanks to a Journal of Medical Internet Research paper about Wikipedia’s medical content. The paper, summarised on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog, found that Wikipedia is now “the single most used website for health information globally”. The authors surveyed Wikipedia’s top contributors to medical content (those with more than 250 edits). Of 117 respondents, more than half were professionals in, or students of, healthcare.

If so many people are consulting Wikipedia for health information, the issue of quality becomes crucial. There is an active field of research comparing Wikipedia to other reference works. As even its logo makes clear, Wikipedia is a work in progress, and there are acknowledged weaknesses, but some scientific areas have reached an impressive standard. A paper published last year in PLoS One compares pharmacology in German and English Wikipedias against scholarly textbooks, concluding “Wikipedia is an accurate and comprehensive source of drug-related information for undergraduate medical education.”

It’s not just public understanding of science that is being shaped by Wikipedia, but even the publication process. A topic round-up on “Inferring Horizontal Gene Transfer” is the latest in a series of review papers published in both Plos Computational Biology and Wikipedia, providing both a fixed, citable reference and an evolving summary of current knowledge.

How to keep up with these rapid developments? There is no better way than attending the Wikipedia Science Conference this September 2-3 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre in London. Registration is just £29 for two days, including lunches. Geoffrey Bilder from CrossRef is amongst those talking about Wikipedia’s links to the scholarly literature. Speakers from University College London and Cancer Research UK will talk about improving and assessing Wikipedia articles about cancers. Daniel Mietchen will talk about new models of scholarly publication involving Wikipedia and Wikidata, and there is much more in a packed two days.

In an interview at Oxford University (video), well-known author Ben Goldacre argues that the current publication model for medical research “needs a kick up the bum” in the direction of openness. New research appears at a torrential rate that overwhelms any human reader, so we need results in a form that computers can easily query, gathering evidence from many studies at once. This requires the scientific community to tear down barriers to access, and that is what all the conference speakers are working on, in different capacities. Wikipedia, Wikidata and related projects are increasingly showing us what that transformed world of open science will look like.

 

by Stevie Benton at August 04, 2015 02:49 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata and its #references

When a Wikidata statement is referenced, it means to me that the statement as stated can be verified in the reference. Rather black and white; you add a reference to prove that THAT statement is correct.

Apparently not so at Wikidata. When you change a statement and make it more precise, the reference is "still good". So much so that an admin threatens to block because this is so "obvious".

In my opinion, references should always back up the fact as stated. When they did not, they are wrong in the first place. When a referenced fact is found wanting, the old known good is no longer good and consequently there is no point to keep the reference with the improved facts.

When Wikidata is in the business of keeping values that show that at sometime a booboo was made, then I am pretty sure that Wikidata will crumble under the weight of known errors. It is it hard enough to distinguish between facts and fiction it does not need the addition of right and wrong.
Thanks,
      GerardM

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 04, 2015 07:59 AM

August 03, 2015

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia Foundation hosts lively panel on copyright

700px-Book_scanner.svg
Digitize text manually with a book scanner. Photo by Oona Räisänen, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation hosted an engaging panel discussion on Copyright in the Age of Mass Digitization. The event, which attracted over 110 attendees from diverse professional backgrounds and perspectives, explored the legal challenges posed by mass digitization and possible ways forward.

Speakers included Pamela Samuelson, professor at Berkeley Law School and UC Berkeley’s School of Information; Joseph Gratz, a partner at Durie Tangri who represented Google in the Google Books cases; Lila Bailey, a copyright attorney whose clients include the Internet Archive; and Melvin Gibbs, a jazz musician and President of the Content Creators Coalition, an artists’ rights advocacy group. Wikimedia General Counsel Geoff Brigham introduced the event, and Wikimedia Legal Director Yana Welinder—who oversees the Foundation’s copyright and public policy strategy—moderated the discussion.

Each year, the WMF’s summer legal interns put together an event open to the public on topics related to law, technology, and free knowledge. This year’s panel was an especially timely event: in June 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office released its report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, and the Office is currently soliciting public comment through October 9, 2015.

The topic of copyright reform is also one of particular relevance to the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission of sharing knowledge across the globe. Overprotective copyright regimes rob the public of access to knowledge and culture, and the legal ambiguity surrounding issues like freedom of panorama and orphan works disfavors free sharing and innovation.

Wikimedia projects could also be affected by regulation of digitization—the conversion of analog information, like objects, images, or sounds, into a digital, web-usable format. Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons represent two examples of digitization projects that are the product of decentralized collaboration. These kinds of projects should be considered when crafting policy in an age of mass digitization, in addition to initiatives undertaken by larger institutional players, to ensure that free knowledge can continue to flourish.

According to the Copyright Office, mass digitization involves reproduction on a scale that renders it impossible to negotiate individual permissions. The Copyright Office report proposed an extended collective licensing (ECL) mechanism for authorizing projects on terms set forth by the parties under government supervision.

The panelists generally agreed that the Copyright Office’s proposed ECL pilot program was problematic and did not sufficiently account for differences among mass digitization projects, but disagreed about the value of mass digitization generally. While musician Melvin Gibbs felt strongly that artists should retain autonomy over their work rather than be subject to any “opt-out” system of permissions, other panelists believed mass digitization initiatives offered an important channel for historical societies, libraries, and archives to make cultural heritage more widely available for others to access, curate, and build upon.

Lila Bailey was especially concerned about access for end-users, asserting that “the Internet is the most democratizing force that we have” and that the anxiety over revenue distribution was misguided since “there just isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the library rainbow.” Pamela Samuelson discussed the role that fair use can and ought to play for certain mass digitization initiatives and articulated the perspective of many authors especially academics who want their work to be more widely available. Joseph Gratz framed the issue in terms of the search for an economic model that allows creators to be compensated but also gets books into people’s hands or onto people’s screens, including when the author cannot be identified. A recording of the event is available here.

Following the panel discussion, attendees, who hailed from technology companies, major law firms, non-profits, libraries, archives, and artists’ groups, enjoyed a reception sponsored by Durie Tangri.

The WMF’s legal internship program

Wikimedia’s legal internship program, launched four years ago, has nurtured dozens of law students and recent graduates interested in intellectual property, privacy, and other cyberlaw issues. The Foundation recruits legal interns for the spring, summer, and fall. All law students and recent graduates are welcome to apply.

Alexandra Perloff-GilesWikimedia Foundation Legal Intern*

* Thanks to my fellow summer legal interns who were essential to organizing this event: Christine Bannan, Arielle Friehling, Jason Gerson, and Alex Krivit.

by Alexandra Perloff-Giles at August 03, 2015 10:07 PM

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, July 2015

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
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Vol: 5 • Issue: 7 • July 2015 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

Wikipedia as an example of collective intelligence; #Wikipedia and Twitter

With contributions by: Piotr Konieczny, Tilman Bayer, and Kim Osman

Wikipedia as an example of collective intelligence

An article[1] in Social Science Computer Review presents an argument that Wikipedia is an example of collective intelligence. It is primarily a theoretical piece, but the author is well-informed about Wikipedia’s everyday workings, illustrating the theory with his knowledge of Wikipedia. The article heavily relies on Pierre Lévy‘s notion of “humanistic collective intelligence”. The author argues that Wikipedia displays some key characteristics of a collective intelligence process, such as software optimized for stigmergy (a mechanism of indirect coordination between agents or actions, such as the existence of edit history, talk pages, etc.); distributed cognition (such as existence of bots, and division of tasks between various tools and individuals, facilitating their actions), and possibly, through it is not possible to prove beyond any doubt, emergence (a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties). The author concludes that Wikipedia thus exemplifies a special kind of collective intelligence, the aforementioned humanistic collective intelligence proposed by Lévy.

#Wikipedia and Twitter

review by Kim Osman

This study from OpenSym ’15[2] analysed 2.5 million tweets, collected over a five-month period on Twitter, that linked to Wikipedia pages. The authors found tweets referencing Wikipedia in both English and Japanese linked to pages from their respective language versions of Wikipedia nearly all the time (97 and 94 percent respectively). However in other languages, tweets often linked to a different language version of Wikipedia – roughly one fifth of the time. Interestingly, tweets in Indonesian referenced another language version more than half the time (linking to English Wikipedia in half the tweets) and of the links to English Wikipedia the authors found that 75% of linked articles did not have an equivalent Indonesian version. There was a long tail distribution of articles among the analysed tweets, with the authors noting certain “events” (like the Gamergate controversy) generating multiple tweets. Of the Top 20 Twitter users in the dataset, 19 were bots, with the most prolific tweeter being Wikipedia Stub Bot (@wpstubs). The authors do note that in their study there is not enough evidence to support the relationship between “how actively edited a certain article is and its popularity on Twitter.” This study does however raise interesting questions about the platform relationship between Wikipedia and Twitter and the role of bots in creating and maintaining this association. The authors note future research could consider the role of events in popularising Wikipedia articles on Twitter along with further examining motivations for inter-language linking on Twitter.

Briefly

“As of early 2015, the typical edit [on the English Wikipedia] is made by an account that is over 5 years old.”

How old is the account making an average edit?

Among other charts recently created by User:Dragons flight to visualize statistical data about the English Wikipedia community, this one shows that “the long-term trend is for the active community to gain about 6 months in average age for every year of time that passes in real life.”

Simplifying sentences by finding their equivalent on Simple Wikipedia

A preprint[3] by researchers at the University of Washington describes a method to automatically align sentences on the English Wikipedia and the Simple English Wikipedia about the same facts. Besides a hand-annotated dataset of corresponding (and non-corresponding) sentence pairs used to test and adjust the algorithm, their approach uses a “novel similarity metric” between of pairs of words which is based on synonym information from Wiktionary, resulting in a weighted graph called “WikNet” that consists of “roughly 177k nodes and 1.15M undirected edges. As expected, our Wiktionary based similarity metric has a higher coverage of 71.8% than WordNet, which has a word coverage of 58.7% in our annotated dataset”. These datasets are available online. The following pair of sentences are presented as an example for good match found by the resulting method:
“The castle was later incorporated into the construction of Ashtown Lodge which was to serve as the official residence of the Under Secretary from 1782″ (Ashtown Castle) vs.
“After the building was made bigger and improved, it was used as the house for the Under Secretary of Ireland from 1782.” (Ashtown Castle)

Other recent publications

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

  • “The Virtues of Moderation”[4] presents “a novel taxonomy of moderation in online communities”, including a case study of Wikipedia (p.88).
  • “Studying the Wikipedia Hyperlink Graph for Relatedness and Disambiguation”[5] From the abstract: “We show that using the full graph is more effective than just direct links by a large margin, that non-reciprocal links harm performance, and that there is no benefit from categories and infoboxes …”
  • “Wikidata through the Eyes of DBpedia[6] From the introduction: “All DBpedia data is extracted from Wikipedia and Wikipedia authors thus unconciously also curate the DBpedia knowledge base. Wikidata on the other hand has its own data curation interface … While DBpedia covers a very large share of Wikipedia at the expense of partially reduced quality, Wikidata covers a significantly smaller share, but due to the manual curation with higher quality and provenance information.”
  • “WikiMirs: A Mathematical Information Retrieval System for Wikipedia”[7]
  • Content Translation: Computer-assisted translation tool for Wikipedia”[8]
  • “Peer-production system or collaborative ontology development effort: what is Wikidata?[9] (to be presented at the OpenSym 2015 conference in August)
  • “Big data and Wikipedia research: social science knowledge across disciplinary divides”[10]
  • “Comparing language development in Wikipedia in terms of page views per Internet users”[11] See also Wiki-research-l mailing list discussion
  • “Understanding Graph Structure of Wikipedia for Query Expansion”[12]
  • “Turning Introductory Comparative Politics and Elections Courses into Social Science Research Communities Using Wikipedia: Improving Both Teaching and Research”[13]
  • “Utilizing the Wikidata System to Improve the Quality of Medical Content in Wikipedia in Diverse Languages: A Pilot Study”[14]
  • “Is it Possible to Enhance our Expert Knowledge from Wikipedia?”[15] From the English-language abstract: “In September 2013 two different questionnaires about medical issues were given to medical students, resident physicians and one medical specialist. The questioning was about diseases/symptoms, examinations/classifications and conservative therapy/surgery of the department of orthopaedics and traumatology. … The survey has proven the up-to-dateness of Wikipedia articles and their listing on the first or second position on Google. Wikipedia contains a lot of bibliographical references, high-quality images and video material. Almost half (42,5 %) of all evaluated articles are appropriate for use in medical exams and in the daily clinical work.”
  • “Predicting elections from online information flows: towards theoretically informed models”[16] From the conclusions: “We have shown good evidence that an ‘uncertainty effect’ drives much Wikipedia traffic: newer parties which attracted a lot of swing voters received disproportionately high levels of Wikipedia traffic. By contrast, there was no evidence of a ‘media effect': there was little correlation between news media mentions and overall Wikipedia traffic patterns. Indeed, the news media and Wikipedia appeared biased towards different things: with news favouring incumbent parties, whilst Wikipedia favoured new ones.” (See also coverage of an earlier preprint by the same authors: “Attempt to use Wikipedia pageviews to predict election results in Iran, Germany and the UK“)

References

  1. Livingstone, Randall M. (2015-06-26). “Models for Understanding Collective Intelligence on Wikipedia” (in en). Social Science Computer Review: 0894439315591136. doi:10.1177/0894439315591136. ISSN 0894-4393.  Closed access
  2. (2015) “#Wikipedia on Twitter: Analyzing Tweets about Wikipedia“. OpenSym ’15. doi:10.1145/2788993.2789845. 
  3. William Hwang, Hannaneh Hajishirzi, Mari Ostendorf, and Wei Wu: Aligning Sentences from Standard Wikipedia to Simple Wikipedia. NAACL-HLT, 2015. PDF
  4. James Grimmelmann. “The Virtues of Moderation.
    Yale Journal of Law and Technology. 17.42 (2015) http://yjolt.org/virtues-moderation
  5. (2015-03-05) “Studying the Wikipedia Hyperlink Graph for Relatedness and Disambiguation“. arXiv:1503.01655 [cs]. 
  6. Ali Ismayilov, Dimitris Kontokostas, Sören Auer, Jens Lehmann, Sebastian Hellmann. “Wikidata through the Eyes of DBpedia”. http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.04180
  7. Hu, Xuan; Gao, Liangcai; Lin, Xiaoyan; Tang, Zhi; Lin, Xiaofan; Baker, Josef B. (2013). “WikiMirs: A Mathematical Information Retrieval System for Wikipedia”. Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. JCDL ’13. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 11-20. DOI:10.1145/2467696.2467699. ISBN 978-1-4503-2077-1. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2467696.2467699.  Closed access
  8. (2015-06-05) “Content Translation: Computer-assisted translation tool for Wikipedia articles“. 
  9. (2015-05-24) “Peer-production system or collaborative ontology development effort: what is Wikidata?“.  OpenSym 2015
  10. (2015-02-24) “Big data and Wikipedia research: social science knowledge across disciplinary divides“. Information, Communication & Society 0 (0): 1-18. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1008538. ISSN 1369-118X. 
  11. Liao, Han-Teng (2015-03-15). Comparing language development in Wikipedia in terms of page views per Internet users. Blog of Han-teng Liao, Oxford Internet Institute.
  12. (2015-05-06) “Understanding Graph Structure of Wikipedia for Query Expansion“. arXiv:1505.01306 [cs]. doi:10.1145/2764947.2764953. 
  13. (April 2015) “Turning Introductory Comparative Politics and Elections Courses into Social Science Research Communities Using Wikipedia: Improving Both Teaching and Research“. PS: Political Science & Politics 48 (02): 378-384. doi:10.1017/S1049096514002157. ISSN 1537-5935.  Closed access / Author’s copy
  14. (2015-05-05) “Utilizing the Wikidata System to Improve the Quality of Medical Content in Wikipedia in Diverse Languages: A Pilot Study“. Journal of Medical Internet Research 17 (5): 110. doi:10.2196/jmir.4163. ISSN 1438-8871. 
  15. (2015) “Is it Possible to Enhance our Expert Knowledge from Wikipedia?”. Zeitschrift Für Orthopädie Und Unfallchirurgie 153 (2): 171-176. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1396207. ISSN 1864-6743. PMID 25874396.  Closed access (German, with English abstract)
  16. (2015-05-05) “Predicting elections from online information flows: towards theoretically informed models“. 

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 5 • Issue: 7 • July 2015
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email WikiResearch on Twitter[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by Tilman Bayer at August 03, 2015 06:21 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

The Roundup: Women scientists

Students from Dr. Sherry Seston’s Virology course at Alverno College are learning about the history of their science through Wikipedia assignments. And by creating biography articles for women virologists, they’re expanding the scope of science information on Wikipedia while helping to close a content gap in women’s biographies.

Articles students created include:

  • Saswati Chatterjee, a researcher at the Los Angeles City of Hope National Medical Center.
  • Christine L. Clouser, an HIV researcher at the University of Minnesota Institute for Molecular Virology.
  • Polly Roy, Chair of Virology at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
  • Sandra Quackenbush, a Gammaretrovirus (feline leukemia virus) researcher at Colorado State University.
  • Anna-Lise Williamson, an HIV researcher in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Ann C. Palmenberg, a common-cold researcher who has invented several technologies for scientific research.
  • Wendy Barclay, a British flu researcher who currently holds a Chair in Influenza Virology at the Imperial College London.
  • Roselyn J. Eisenberg, a professor at The University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Dental Medicine.
  • Deborah Persaud, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center working with AIDS and HIV in children.
  • Akiko Iwasaki, a professor at Yale University.
  • Mary K. Estes, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine researching rotaviruses and noroviruses.
  • Janet S. Butel, the Chairman and Distinguished Service Professor in the molecular virology and microbiology department at Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Eva Gottwein, Assistant Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

We’re hoping to inspire more great content like this through the Wikipedia Year of Science initiative. One component of that campaign will be a focus on biographies of women scientists.

Thanks to Dr. Sherry Seston and her students for this wonderful contribution to Wikipedia!


Photo: “Symian virus” by Phoebus87 at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

by Eryk Salvaggio at August 03, 2015 03:00 PM

Andre Klapper

Wikimedia: Phabricator, Tech Community Metrics

Trying to quickly summarize what’s been either on my plate or what’s been generally cooking in Wikimedia, before I postpone writing that again…

Phabricator

Tech Community Metrics

Recently also spent more time with Tech Community Metrics. Wikimedia has some metrics about code repository activity (Git), code review activity (Gerrit, in the long run to be replaced by Phabricator Differential), mailing lists and IRC. It’s available at korma.wmflabs.org backed by MetricsGrimoire and supported by Bitergia. When we migrated from Bugzilla to Phabricator Maniphest we initially lost any statistics on bug tracker activity but now there is an initial Phabricator Maniphest backend in MetricsGrimoire available.
Again, all this is work in progress and needs way more fine-tuning (see our project workboard).

by aklapper at August 03, 2015 02:00 PM

Niklas Laxström

translatewiki.net – harder, better, faster, stronger

I am very pleased to announce that translatewiki.net has been migrated to new servers sponsored by netcup GmbH. Yes, that is right, we now have two servers, both of which are more powerful than the old server.

Since the two (virtual) servers are located in the same data center and other nitty gritty details, we are not making them redundant for the sake of load balancing or uptime. Rather, we have split the services: ElasticSearch runs on one server, powering the search, translation search and translation memory; everything else runs on the other server.

In addition to faster servers and continuous performance tweaks, we are now faster thanks to the migration from PHP to HHVM. The Wikimedia Foundation did this a while ago with great results, but HHVM has been crashing and freezing on translatewiki.net for unknown reasons. Fortunately, recently I found a lead that the issue is related to a ini_set function, which I was easily able to work around while the investigation on the root cause continues.

Non-free Google Analytics confirms that we now server pages faster.

Non-free Google Analytics confirms that we now serve pages faster: the small speech bubble indicates migration day to new servers and HHVM. Effect on the actual page load times observed by users seems to be less significant.

We now have again lots of room for growth and I challenge everyone to make us grow with more translations, new projects or other legitimate means, so that we reach a point where we will need to upgrade again ;). That’s all for now, stay tuned for more updates.

by Niklas Laxström at August 03, 2015 10:48 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - #featured item; László Krasznahorkai

Mr Krasznahorkai will be this weeks Wikidata "featured item". It shows off how much information may be available for the subject at hand. Indeed, a lot of great work went into including and linking all the work Mr Krasznahorkai produced over the years. Adding information like that is a labour of love.

Mr Krasznahorkai is a celebrated writer. It shows in the many awards that were bestowed on him. All in all there are 21 listed among them the Man Booker International Prize.

For many of the awards like the Vilenica Prize, it is just a matter of harvesting the data and add it to the right items; easy enough. For others like the "Hungarian Heritage-Award", it is a bit more involved because it does not exist as a Wikipedia article in English. The article on Mr Krasznahorkai in Hungarian however looks promising. Many more awards are available there.

By harvesting awards for Mr Krasznahorkai, the information on the featured item becomes even better. The best thing is that in the process all the other items for people who are known to be awarded will have better information as well. Obviously, data from English Wikipedia is overexposed as more people do know that language and it is rather rich.
Thanks,
     GerardM

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 03, 2015 06:03 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #32, 2015 (August 3, 2015)

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

August 03, 2015 12:00 AM

August 02, 2015

User:Bluerasberry

Value of a Wikipedian

Every organization which recruits volunteers values their volunteers. Sometimes they even calculate the financial value of their volunteers. This works by recording the cost of a set of volunteer recruitment campaigns, noting how many volunteers become engaged because of those campaigns, then dividing the total cost by the number of volunteers recruited.

I am sure that the Wikimedia Foundation must know this number but so far as I know it has never been explicitly stated. When outcomes of projects are reported, most commonly by Wikimedia chapters or other grant recipients who are required to do so as a result of getting funding from the Wikimedia Foundation. Funds are dispersed through various channels. Funds to chapters go with approval from the Wikimedia Foundation board and typically at the behest of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), which is a community-elected group of Wikimedia volunteers who review the proposed budgets of Wikimedia chapters and offer them funding based on a review which is supposed to have its basis in traditional nonprofit management and established conservative nonprofit grantmaking practices. Smaller amounts of funding, typically to individuals or small groups, is made by staff at the Wikimedia Foundation who again try to practice conservative grantmaking but who can make quicker decisions than the FDC because they are knowledgeable professionals doing this full time with smaller money amounts.

Measuring impact is something that every organization wishes to do but which all organizations find difficult. In the Wikimedia community, the desired impact of grantmaking is

  • more individuals
  • representing more demographics
  • contribute more Wikimedia content
  • in more languages
  • and of more content types
  • with more regularity and frequency
  • and of higher quality
  • while interacting with more other Wikimedia contributors

I am becoming more interested in learning how much is invested to recruit and develop volunteer Wikipedians, and how that money amount would compare to hiring people outright. The budget of the Wikimedia Foundation has been as follows:

  • 2001 established – no budget
  • 2005 1.5 million USD, hired first employee
  • 2008 8 million
  • 2009 18 million
  • grows more…
  • 2013 53 million
  • 2015 – probably around 65-70 million

Most of the community discussion about not having money for paid staff happened between 2005-08, and has not been re-examined in the context of the Wikimedia Foundation having much more money now and the growing demand for more content of higher quality being presented more quickly. There is a lot of talk about stagnation in community growth. If it could happen that a few paid staff could do the sorts of things which would support volunteers, then I hope that those kinds of things could be funded. Last year in the context of Wikipedians in Seattle having some paid staff, I listed some reasons why I thought this would be useful. My argument was that certain office actions – particularly collecting metrics for the Wikimedia Foundation and responding to Wikimedia complaints unrelated to one’s own actions – are not things that volunteers enjoy doing but things which the Wikimedia Foundation pressures volunteers to do. The pressure from the Wikimedia Foundation that volunteers do certain unpleasant things is a deterrent from volunteers engaging more deeply, and since at similar nonprofit organizations these kinds of things are typically done by paid staff, and since the money is available, and since more impact is desired, and since paying staff is probably more cost effective than trying to use the same funds to recruit a volunteer to do the unpleasant work for free, then why not pay the staff? I still support the Wikimedia Foundation not paying staff to produce content, even though I wish that there were more infrastructure in place for other interests to fund the creation of content for Wikimedia projects.

I am going to guess a number based on my experience, and perhaps this number can be corrected someday. I think that if money is invested to recruit and develop a Wikipedian, then USD 10,000 is what must be invested to produce a good Wikimedia contributor who engages with projects 4 hours weekly for a year. I expect that more likely this dollar amount is low than high. I think that this dollar amount is international – although costs are higher in countries like the United States, people are more likely to be willing and ready to volunteer, even though this amount is about 1/5 of a lower middle class annual salary. In a country like India where USD 10,000 is a full annual middle class salary, the outreach costs are still the same, because for various reasons especially including that Wikimedia projects seem foreign and are not integrated with cultural expectations, the costs of impact from outreach are higher, and still I think it costs about the same to recruit a similarly engaged volunteer.

There are many variables in determining the value of Wikimedia volunteers and the development of infrastructure to serve a particular demographic can greatly decrease the cost per volunteer in recruitment campaigns. People with metrics who are looking more closely at these things can have better metrics than me. The most effective kind of Wikimedia outreach remains passive outreach – the site is set up, and many people go to it to read, and dependably some percentage of those will continue to try to engage more without anyone developing personal outreach campaigns to target them, or without having anyone geographically close to them as a point of local contact.

If anyone wanted to do their own research about the impact of funding, this is easier to do for projects funded by the Wikimedia Foundation than it is for any other nonprofit on this scale and at this grassroots level. I believe this because I think that the documentation of projects funded by the Wikimedia Foundation is deeper and easier for the public access than for any other similar funding initiative that I have seen, and I feel like I have seen enough funding and reporting models for grassroots activism to speak authoritatively on this topic.

There are a lot implications of what I am saying, but I want to draw just one conclusion for now. I often talk and think about South Asia, particularly India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. Right now, the Wikimedia Foundation is willing to fund projects to support volunteers but not fund staff to do work outright. One of the disconnnects between the Wikimedia Foundation’s policy and what I think is most practical is that often, they are willing to fund projects to attempt to recruit volunteers even when the expected outcome is likely to be more expensive and have less impact than hiring someone outright. In the case of South Asia, for example, they are unwilling to hire staff community organizers to be managed by the local community or volunteer chapter. They are even more unwilling to hire staff to contribute content to Wikimedia projects, like for example the digitization of museum or archival collections or other seed content for underserved languages which some people feel would set a good precedent and example for volunteers to emulate. They are willing to fund attempts to recruit volunteers who would do these kinds of things. The hope, although not explicitly articulated, is that the outreach efforts will identify volunteers who will do more than what paid staff would accomplish. In my opinion, the reality is that outreach is expensive and considering the economy in South Asia and the local culture about volunteering, more good would come from paying people outright to contribute content. For some languages, a staffperson could be hired for 1-2 years at a rate of USD 10,000/year, which is a respectable salary in some library fields for someone at the master’s degree level. In the United States a comparable person would cost USD 70,000 at least. Additionally, for some Indian languages, contributing existing media could increase the size of some Wikipedias by 5% – a huge jump in available content which would never be possible in the short term by one person for any developed Wikipedia project like English or other European languages. The need is also greater in South Asia, as the population is so high. Finally, necessary gaps in representation could be closed by hiring paid staff. There is a concern, for example, that women are underrepresented in Wikimedia projects. This is true, but I regret that actual numbers are not often articulated because the problem is discussed in a silly way. It would be closer to the truth to say there are not many regular Wikipedia contributors of any gender. To take one of the most developed South Asian languages as an example, Bangla, if the Wikimedia Foundation were to fund 20 women at USD 5000 per year to contribute to Wikimedia projects, then they would be creating material in the sixth-month spoken language in the world. Honestly, there are not more than 20 highly active contributors in Bangla language. Many people contribute a little – but people who are available to help with administration are much fewer. If only 20 women with library skills were paid to regularly contribute and join the conversation, and if they actually participated in a modest way of the sort that casual male volunteers would do, then the intervention really could change the direction of Bangla language media and the nature of Wikimedia development. USD 5000 a year is enough to hire respectable contributors in East Bengal and Bangladesh (potentially full time for some positions, or part time for the most skilled people), if only that were an option which could even be considered. I have a lot of respect for the outreach projects which happen instead, but if the goal were to achieve impact rather than adhere to the ideology that the Wikimedia Foundation must never hire contributors – then I think that hiring some contributors in some cases would be the obvious path the movement development. I will say again – I think it costs USD 10,000 to recruit a good volunteer in the United States, and the same amount to recruit one in Kolkata, and some money should be spent to hire staff outright.

Incidentally – the Wikimedia Foundation hires consultants which I think bill at USD 125 an hour to do community tasks that they think are too sensitive for volunteers to manage. I do not want to identify anyone because they do good work but still it makes me uneasy to think that hidden professionals can be paid but anyone with a volunteer affiliation cannot get a stipend or part-time funding. I would even favor setting up an outsourcing communications and content creation office in India, because I think that is a viable model for producing baseline content and ensuring that Wikipedias there have minimal viability as reference works.

by bluerasberry at August 02, 2015 07:43 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - Maintaining the #Akademy award


Lydia challenged Wikipedians to update the information about Akademy. The conference in 2014 and 2015 have come and gone by now. The most interesting part of the English article is the information about the awards. There are three of them; one for best application, one for best non application and a jury's award.

Awards are important and Lydia has two main points:
  • the most important one is collective celebrating successes in a community
  • the other one is being able to communicate to the outside about the achievements
At Wikidata there is enough to celebrate. I would welcome a Wikidata award for 2015 for the reasons stated above. Sjoerd and Amir would be on my short list. <grin> If nobody reacts in time, I may even announce the award </grin>. Then again, why not steal a page out of the KDE book and have multiple awards?
Thanks,
       GerardM

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 02, 2015 04:48 PM

#Wikipedia - list of awards of Jimmy Carter

President Carter is not special in having a separate Wikipedia article with his awards. As a list in an article is rather boring it makes sense to have that separate article.

With distinguished people like Mr Carter, the list is long and it tells a story of recognition. Most but not all of the awards are already known in Wikidata but surprisingly the quality of the information is not always that great. It says: "International Mediation medal, American Arbitration Association, 1979" and it is hard to find anything on that medal except in this list. There is no doubt that Mr Carter received the medal, it is just that there is no other source available.

Both Mr Carter and the American Arbitration Association will be able to acknowledge the existence of the medal and, the AAA will be able to inform us about any and all organisations and people who were honoured in this way. For them it is one way to get extra mileage out of the PR that is so often the reason for an award.
Thanks,
     GerardM

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 02, 2015 09:17 AM

August 01, 2015

Priyanka Nag

Fedora 22 Release Party, Pune

This is my attempt at bringing all details of the Fedora 22 Release Party, out live...right from the Pune Red Hat office.



10.55am - We have started our day today with a quick round of introductions...its always fun to know people!


We, the Fedorians....[Photo Credit - Suprith Gangawar]


11.05am - What is new in the Workstation for Fedora 22 and future, by Praveen Kumar.

Praveen is taking us through the Fedora workstation and the new features of Workstation for Fedora 22.

Praveen Kumar talks about the new features of Fedora 22 Workstation

Praveen is also introducing the participants to Boxes and how Boxes has made it easy for users to work on multiple VMs now.

Quick updates on Fedora 23:
  • Alpha freeze has been done last week.
  • On the feature side, for the Workstation, biggest change will be the container based application approach.
  • Developer assistant - a tool which will help a developer setup the entire development environment very easily and get started.
  • Wayland - Wayland is intended as a simpler replacement for X, easier to develop and maintain. GNOME and KDE are expected to be ported to it.
    [http://wayland.freedesktop.org/]
  • Gnome software application
The tasklist for Fedora 23, along with the status is available here - https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Workstation/Tasklist

11.50am - Introduction to FESCo, and Fedora package sponsorship model by Parag Nemade

After an introduction to the different ways in which we can start contributing to Fedora, Parag takes us through the criteria for sponsoring a new packager, the packaging guidelines etc.

A few quick notes:


    Parag Nemad, talking about Fedora packaging [Photo Credit - Suprith Gangawar]
    12.35pm - Status update from Fedora Cloud WG by Kushal Das, where he started the session with an introduction to Fedora Cloud and Cockpit. He continues by giving us a demonstration of Cockpit, from a system admin's perspective. 

    To install Cockpit - dnf install cockpit

    Kushal Das talks about cockpit [Photo Credit - Suprith Gangawar]

    1pm to 2.15pm - Lunch break


    2.20pm - Cloud group updates:

      • New in Fedora 22:
        • Vagrant box
        • Fedora Dockerfiles - example docker files for various applications.
        • Tunir[to install tunir - dnf install tunir]
        • Atomic Improvements - Atomic is a base OS, on top of which any container can be used.
        • Updated Docker images
            • Upcoming changes for Fedora 23:
                • Layered Docker Image Build Service
                • systemd-networkd
                • Could MOTD (Message of the day)
                • Two Week Atomic (project Atomic to breakout of Fedora release cycle and release in every two weeks).

                2.45pm - Ways of getting started with Fedora contribution, lead by Siddhesh Poyarekar

                Here is Siddhesh, explaining ARM [Photo Credit - Suprith Gangawar]

                  by Priyanka Nag (noreply@blogger.com) at August 01, 2015 10:16 AM

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikidata - the Forough Faroukhzad Award

                  When I wrote about the Radcliffe fellow Mrs Mehrangiz Kar, I mentioned that recognition came to her in the form of many awards. One of them was the Forough Faroukhzad Award. This award was only known as a string of text. I asked an Iranian friend if he could identify a few more people who received this award. He identified a few more for me and consequently, this award became incrementally more relevant

                  When you concentrate on the people of the Radcliffe college or alternatively the winners of the Forough Faroukhzad award, you make them better connected. It gets you to other universities or other awards. It may show you where those who teach were educated or it may show you nothing at all because the data is just not there.

                  A Dutch scientist published in a journal that dementia has a one in three link to heart and circulatory issues. It is highly likely that such knowledge may spur people to take better care of their health. The scientist does not have an article or an item. The organisation that reports on it funded the research. It has a high impact on research on this issue in the world and it is hardly known outside the Netherlands by people who are not working in this field..

                  The Hartstichting also issues awards and it makes it obvious why the persons involved are important. I can read Dutch, not Iranian. We need friends from all over the world making the connections. Giving us a view that brings a new perspective.
                  Thanks,
                       GerardM

                  by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at August 01, 2015 07:20 AM

                  July 31, 2015

                  Wikimedia Tech Blog

                  My life as an autistic Wikipedian

                  Death_Valley_5903-760x507
                  Person in a landscape. Photo by Guillaume Paumier freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  This blog post is taken from Guillaume’s personal blog, and used both with permission and under the terms of the Creative Commons license CC-BY 4.0.

                  Two years ago, I discovered that I was on the autism spectrum. As I learned more about myself and the way my brain worked, I started to look at past experiences through the lens of this newly-found aspect. In this essay, I share some of what I’ve learned along the way about my successes, my failures, and many things that confused me in the past, notably in my experiences in the Wikimedia movement.

                  This essay was the basis of the talk of the same name that I gave at the Wikimania 2015 conference. It is not an exact transcript. It is still a draft, which I’m publishing now in the interest of timeliness; I will continue to refine it over the next few weeks; you can help edit it. A French version is also available.

                  maternelle-758x760
                  kindergarten. Photo by Guillaume Paumier freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  This is a picture of me taken when I was 4, in nursery school, the French equivalent of Kindergarten.

                  I don’t have many memories about that time, but my parents remember that, while I wasn’t usually enthused about going to school during the week, I would often ask to go on Saturdays, because most of the other kids weren’t there.

                  It wasn’t that I didn’t like them; it was because the school was much quieter than during weekdays, and I had all the toys to myself. I didn’t have to interact with other children, or share the pencils, or the room. I could do whatever I wanted without worrying about the other kids.

                  I didn’t know it at the time, but it would take me nearly 30 years to look back at this story and understand how it made complete sense.

                  Today

                  I’m now 32 years old, and a lot has changed. Two years ago, after some difficulties at work, my partner decided to share his suspicions that I might be on the autism spectrum. I knew little about it at the time, but it was a hypothesis that seemed to explain a lot, and seemed worth exploring.

                  Sure, the subject had come up before a few times, but it was always as a joke, an exaggeration of my behavior. I never thought I fitted that label. One problem is that autism is usually represented in a very uniform manner in popular culture. Movies like Rain Man feature autistic savants who, although they have extraordinary abilities, live in a completely different world, and sometimes aren’t verbal. The autism spectrum is much more diverse than those stereotypical examples.

                  After I started researching the topic, and reading books on autism or autobiographies by autistic people, I realized how much of it applied to me.

                  It took a bit longer (and a few tests) to get a confirmation from experts, and when it came, many people still had doubts. The question that came up the most often was “But how was this never detected before?” Autism is generally noticed at a much younger age, and it seemed that for most of my life, I had managed to disguise myself as “neurotypical”, meaning someone whose brain works similarly to most people.

                  The current prevailing hypothesis to explain this, based on an IQ test taken as part of the evaluation process, is that I am privileged to have higher-than-average intellectual capacities, which have allowed me to partly compensate for the different wiring of my brain. One way to illustrate this is to use a computer analogy: in a way, my CPU runs at a higher frequency, which has allowed me to emulate with software the hardware that I’m missing. What this also means is that it can be exhausting to run this software all the time, so sometimes I need to be by myself.

                  As you can imagine, realizing at 31 that you are on the autism spectrum changes your perception dramatically; everything suddenly starts to make sense. I’ve learned a lot over the past two years, and this increased metacognition has allowed me to look at past events through a new lens.

                  In this essay, I want to share with you some of what I’ve learned, and share my current understanding of how my brain works, notably through my experience as a Wikimedian.

                  One caveat I want to start with is that autism is a spectrum. There’s a popular saying among online autistic communities that says: “You’ve met an autist, you’ve met one autist.” Just keep this in mind: What I’m presenting here is based on my personal experience, and isn’t going to apply equally to all autistic people.

                  Taipei Wm2007 Guillaume.jpg

                  Taipei Wm2007Guillaume.jpg“, by Cary Bass, under CC-By-SA 3.0 Unported, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  The picture above was taken during Wikimania 2007 in Taipei. I was exploring the city with Cary Bass (User:Bastique) and a few other people. Looking back at this picture now, there are a few things I notice today:

                  • I’m wearing simple clothes, because I have absolutely no sense of fashion, and those are “safe” colors.
                  • I’m carrying two bags (a backpack and a photo bag), because I always want to be prepared for almost anything, so I carry a lot of stuff around.
                  • I’m sitting down to change a lens on my camera, because it’s a more stable position to avoid dropping and breaking expensive gear. I’ve learned that this habit of using very stable positions is actually a mitigating strategy that I developed over the years without realizing it, to compensate for problems with balance and motor coordination.

                  Spock

                  A good analogy to help understand what it’s like to be autistic in a neurotypical society is to look at Mr. Spock, in the Star Trek Original Series. The son of a Vulcan father and a human mother, Spock is technically half-human, but it is his Vulcan side that shows the most in its interactions with the crew of the Enterprise.

                  Leonard Nimoy William Shatner Star Trek 1968.JPG

                  Spock and Kirk. “Leonard Nimoy William Shatner Star Trek 1968“, by NBC Television, in the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  Some of the funniest moments of the show are his arguments with the irascible Dr. McCoy, who calls him an “unfeeling automaton” and “the most cold-blooded man [he’s] ever known”. To which Spock responds: “Why, thank you, Doctor.” 1

                  As a Vulcan, Spock’s life is ruled by logic. Although he does feel emotions, they are deeply repressed. His speech pattern is very detached, almost clinical. Because of his logical and utilitarian perspective, Spock often appears dismissive, cold-hearted, or just plain rude to his fellow shipmates.

                  In many ways, Spock’s traits are similar to autism, and many autistic people identify with him. For example, in her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin, a renown autistic scientist and author, recounts how she related to Spock from a young age:

                  Many people with autism are fans of the television show Star Trek. […] I strongly identified with the logical Mr. Spock, since I completely related to his way of thinking.I vividly remember one old episode because it portrayed a conflict between logic and emotion in a manner I could understand. A monster was attempting to smash the shuttle craft with rocks. A crew member had been killed. Logical Mr. Spock wanted to take off and escape before the monster wrecked the craft. The other crew members refused to leave until they had retrieved the body of the dead crew member. […]

                  I agreed with Spock, but I learned that emotions will often overpower logical thinking, even if these decisions prove hazardous.2

                  In this example, and in many others, Spock’s perception filter prevents him from understanding human decisions mainly driven by emotion. Those actions appear foolish or nonsensical, because Spock interprets them through his own lens of logic. He lacks the cultural background, social norms and unspoken assumptions unconsciously shared by humans.

                  The reverse is also true: Whenever humans are puzzled or annoyed by Spock, it is because they expect him to behave like a human; they are often confronted to a harsher truth than they would like. Humans interpret Spock’s behavior through their own emotional perception filter. They often misunderstand his motives, assume malice and superimpose intents that change the meaning of his original words and actions.

                  Autism

                  You’re probably familiar with the conceptual models of communication In many of those models, communication is represented as the transmission of a message between a sender and a receiver.

                  communication_model1-760x435
                  In a basic communication model, the sender formulates the message, and transmits it to the receiver, who interprets it. The receiver also provides some feedback.

                  communication_model2-760x435
                  An oral discussion involves a lot more signals from nonverbal communication, like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

                  If you apply this model to an oral conversation, you quickly see all the opportunities for miscommunication: From what the sender means, to what they actually say, to what the receiver hears, to what they understand, information can change radically, especially when you consider nonverbal communication. It’s like a 2-person variation of the telephone game. In the words of psychologist Tony Attwood:

                  Every day people make intuitive guesses regarding what someone may be thinking or feeling. Most of the time we are right but the system is not faultless. We are not perfect mind readers. Social interactions would be so much easier if typical people said exactly what they mean with no assumptions or ambiguity. 3

                  If this is the case for neurotypical people, meaning people with a “typical” brain, imagine how challenging it can be for autists like me. A great analogy is given in the movie The Imitation Game, inspired by the life of Alan Turing, who is portrayed in the film as being on the autism spectrum.

                  Historical accuracy aside, one of my favorite moments in the movie is when a young Alan is talking to his friend Christopher about coded messages. Christopher explains cryptography as “messages that anyone can see, but no one knows what they mean, unless you have the key.”

                  A very puzzled Alan replies:

                  How is that different from talking? […] When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you’re expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do.

                  Autistic people are characterized by many different traits, but one of the most prevalent is social blindness: We have trouble reading the emotions of others. We lack the “Theory of mind” used by neurotypical people to attribute mental states (like beliefs and intents) to others. We often take things literally because we’re missing the subtext: it’s difficult for us to read between the lines.

                  Liane Holliday Willey, an autistic author and speaker, once summarized it this way:

                  You wouldn’t need a Theory of Mind if everyone spoke their mind. 4

                  How are you?

                  Many languages have a common phrase to ask someone how they’re doing, whether it’s the French Comment ça va ?, the English How are you? or the German Wie geht’s?

                  When I first moved to the US, every time someone asked me “How are you?”, I would pause to consider the question. Now, I’ve learned that it’s a greeting, not an actual question, and I’ve mostly automated the response to the expected “Great, how are you?”. It only takes a few milliseconds to switch to that path and short-circuit the question-answering process. But if people deviate from that usual greeting, then that mental shortcut doesn’t work any more.

                  A few weeks ago, someone in the Wikimedia Foundation office asked me “How is your world?”, and I froze for a few seconds. In order to answer that question, my brain was reviewing everything that was happening in “my world” (and “my world” is big!), before I realized that I just needed to say “Great! Thanks!”.

                  small_talk
                  Small talk” by Randall Munroe, under CC-BY-NC 2.5, from xkcd.com.

                  Privilege and pointed ears

                  This is only one of the challenges faced by autistic people, and I would now like to talk about neurotypical privilege. I’m a cis white male, and I was raised in a loving middle-class family in an industrialized country. By many standards, I’m very privileged. But, despite my superpowers, being autistic in a predominantly neurotypical society does bring its lot of challenges.

                  The most common consequence I’ve noticed in my experience, and in accounts from other autistic people, is a feeling of profound isolation. The lack of Theory of mind and the constant risk of miscommunication make it difficult to build relationships. It’s not anyone’s fault in particular; it’s due to a general lack of awareness.

                  Wikimania 2014 welcome reception 02.jpg

                  Wikimania 2014 welcome reception. “Wikimania 2014 welcome reception 02“, by Chris McKenna, under CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  Imagine that you’re talking to me face to face. You don’t really know me, but I seem nice so you start making small talk. I’m not saying much, and you need to carry the discussion over those awkward silences. When I do speak, it’s in a very monotone manner, like I don’t really care. You try harder, and ask me questions, but I hesitate, I struggle to maintain eye contact, and I keep looking away, as if I’m making stuff up as I go.

                  Now this is what’s happening from my perspective: I’m talking to someone I don’t really know well, but you seem nice. I don’t know what to talk about, so I keep quiet at first. Silences aren’t a problem: I’m just happy to be in your company. I don’t have very strong feelings about what we’re talking about, so I’m speaking very calmly. You’re asking me questions, and of course it takes a while to think about the correct answer. All this “eye contact” thing that I learned in school is taking a lot of mental resources that would be better used to compute the answer to your question, so I sometimes need to look away to better focus.

                  This illustrates one of many situations in which each person’s perception filter caused a complete disconnect between how the situation was perceived on each side.

                  There are also many professional hurdles associated with being on the autism spectrum, and autists are more affected by unemployment than neurotypicals5. I’m privileged in that I’ve been able to find an environment in which I’m able to work, but many autists aren’t so lucky. It’s been well documented that people in higher-up positions aren’t necessarily the best performers, but often people with the best social skills.

                  With that in mind, imagine what the career opportunities (or lack thereof) can be for someone who is a terrible liar, who has a lot of interest in doing great work, but less interest in taking credit for it, who doesn’t understand office politics, who not only makes social missteps and angers their colleagues, but doesn’t even know about it, someone who’s unable to make small talk around the office. Imagine that person, and what kind of a career they can have even if they’re very good at their job.

                  Casual relationships with colleagues and acquaintances are usually superficial; the stakes of the water cooler discussions are low, so people are more inclined to forgive missteps. However, friendship is another matter, and for most of my life, I have hardly had any friends, unless you use Facebook’s definition of the term. Awkwardness is generally tolerated, but rarely sought after. It’s not “cool”.

                  Most of those issues arise because you don’t have a way of knowing that the person in front of you is different. At least Spock had his pointed ears to signal that he wasn’t human. His acceptance by the crew of the Enterprise was in large part due to the relationships he was able to develop with his shipmates. Those relationships would arguably not have been possible if they had not known how he was different.

                  Computer-mediated communication

                  Let me go back to that conceptual model of face-to-face communication. Now imagine how this model changes if you’re communicating online, by email, on wiki, or on IRC. All those communication channels, that Wikimedians are all too familiar with, are based on text, and most of them are asynchronous. For many neurotypicals, these are frustrating modes of communication, because they’re losing most of their usual nonverbal signals like tone, facial expressions, and body language.

                  communication_model1-760x435 (1)
                  In online discussions, most of the nonverbal communication disappears, leaving only words. This can frustrate neurotypicals, but is much closer to the native communication model of autistic people.

                  However, this model of computer-mediated communication is much closer to the communication model of autists like me. There is no nonverbal communication to decrypt; less interaction and social anxiety; and usually, no unfamiliar environment either. There are much fewer signals, and those that remain are just words; their meaning still varies, but it’s much more codified and reliable than nonverbal signals.

                  What there is online, instead, is plenty of time, time that we can use to collect our thoughts and formulate a carefully crafted answer. Whereas voice is synchronous and mostly irreversible, text can be edited, crafted, deleted, reworded, or rewritten until it’s exactly what we want it to be; then we can send it. This is true of asynchronous channels like email and wikis, but it also extends to semi-synchronous tools like instant messaging or IRC.

                  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, though. For example, autists like me are still very much clueless about politics and reading between the lines. We tend to be radically honest, which doesn’t fly very well, whether online or offline. Autists are also more susceptible to trolling, and may not always realize that the way people act online isn’t the same as the way they act in the physical world. The internet medium tends to desensitize people, and autists might emulate behavior that isn’t actually acceptable, regardless of the venue.

                  Autism in the Wikimedia community

                  Of course, one major example of wide-scale online communication is the Wikimedia movement. And at first glance, Wikimedia sites, and Wikipedia in particular, offer a platform where one can meticulously compile facts about their favorite obsession, or methodically fix the same grammatical error over and over, all of that with limited human interaction; if this sounds like a great place for autists (and a perfect honey trap) well, it is to some extent.

                  Wikipedians with autism.png

                  The “Wikipedians with autism” category on the English Wikipedia.

                  For example, my first edit ten years ago was to fix a spelling error. My second edit was to fix a conjugation error. My third edit was to fix both a spelling and a conjugation error. That’s how my journey as a Wikipedian started ten years ago.

                  Wikipedians are obsessed with citations, references, and verifiability; fact is king, and interpretation is taboo. As long as you stay in the main namespace, that is. As soon as you step out of article pages and venture into talk pages and village pumps, those high standards don’t apply any more. There are plenty of unsourced, exaggerated and biased statements in Wikipedia discussions.

                  That’s in addition to the problems I mentioned earlier. As an autist, it can be hard to let go of arguments about things or people you care about. It’s often said that autistic people lack empathy, which basically makes us look like cold-hearted robots. However, there is a distinction between being able to read the feelings of other people, and feeling compassion for other people.

                  Neurotypical people have mirror neurons that make you feel what the person in front of you is feeling; autistic people have a lot fewer of those, which means they need to scrutinize your signals and try to understand what you’re feeling. But they’re still people with feelings.

                  If you’re interested in learning more about autism in the Wikimedia community, there’s a great essay on the English Wikipedia, which I highly recommend. One thing it does really well is avoiding the pathologization of autism, and instead insisting on neurodiversity, meaning autism as a difference, not a disease.

                  Conclusion

                  Steve Silberman, who wrote a book on the history of autism, presented it this way:

                  One way to understand neurodiversity is to think in terms of human operating systems: Just because a PC is not running Windows doesn’t mean that it’s broken.

                  By autistic standards, the normal human brain is easily distractible, obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail. 6

                  ISS-42 Samantha Cristoforetti Leonard Nimoy tribute.jpg

                  ISS-42 Samantha Cristoforetti Leonard Nimoy tribute“, by NASA, in the Public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  But still, neurodiversity has a cost. Sometimes, you’ll be offended; sometimes, you’ll be frustrated; and sometimes, you’ll think “Wow, I would never have thought of that in a million years”.
                  As I mentioned earlier, I believe Spock was only able to build those relationships over time because people were aware of his difference, and learned to understand and embrace it. Spock also learned a lot from humans along the way.
                  My goal here was to raise awareness of this difference that exists in our community, and encourage us to discuss our differences more openly, and to improve our understanding of each other.
                  There is a lot I didn’t get into in this essay, and I might expand on specific points later. In the meantime, I’m available if you’re interested in continuing this discussion, and you should feel free to reach out to me, whether in person or online.
                  Live long and prosper. \\///

                  Guillaume Paumier, Senior Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation

                  References

                  1. from Court Martial (Star Trek: The Original Series)
                  2. Temple Grandin. Thinking in Pictures. p.152.
                  3. Tony Attwood. The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. p.126.
                  4. Liane Holliday Willey, in The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. Tony Attwood, p.126
                  5. Maanvi Singh. Young Adults With Autism More Likely To Be Unemployed, Isolated. NPR.
                  6. Steve Silberman. The forgotten history of autism. TED 2015.

                  by Guillaume Paumier at July 31, 2015 11:25 PM

                  2015 Wikipedians of the Year unveiled in Mexico

                  Wikimanía 2015 - Final day - LMM - México D.F (12).jpg
                  Jimmy’s announcement is tradition at Wikimania. Photo by MadriCR, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  It is a Wikimania tradition that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces his “Wikipedian of the Year” during his closing keynote at Wikimania, the annual gathering of Wikimedia editors from around the world, and his speech at this year’s Wikimanía was no exception.

                  Susanna Mkrtchyan, board member of Wikimedia Armenia, was the first named honoree of the evening. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

                  He did, however, depart from this tradition in one respect: instead of specifically naming a Wikimedian of the Year, Wales instead named them in pectore. This was a reference to the term used initially by the Catholic Church to denote an appointment made “in the heart” without announcing the appointee’s name, because doing would likely cause harm to or reprisals against the appointee.

                  Wales’ larger closing speech covered freedom of expression issues, a major aspect of this year’s conference, including censorship of Wikipedia within China and how this was impacted by the Foundation’s recent decision to move all Wikimedia sites to HTTPS.

                  He also spoke of an editor in Venezuela, exiled by his country for publishing photos of anti-government protests to Wikimedia Commons. He had his passport revoked, and was thus stranded outside the country with little knowledge of his legal standing and refugee status. Wales’ Wikipedian of the Year, though secret, likely reflects the risks undertaken by his Venezuelan exemplar. Jimmy said he hopes to “one day be able to share this person’s story”.

                  Beyond his in pectore Wikipedian, Wales provided several honorable mentions.

                  Susanna Mkrtchyan, board member of Wikimedia Armenia, was the first honoree named. An “innovative, collaborative, and collegial” Wikipedian, Susanna has been heavily involved with off-wiki activities in Armenia. She was behind the very successful “One Armenian – One Article” campaign, as well as WikiCamp—an intensive youth camp focused on training new editors in Wikipedia and Wiktionary editing through hands-on means.

                  Satdeep Gill is among the top five contributors to the Punjabi Wikipedia. Number one is his father, whom Satdeep introduced to Wikipedia. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

                  Second was Satdeep Gill, an Indian Wikipedian who is highly prolific on the Punjabi Wikipedia. He has spent much time encouraging youth and students at his university campus to edit the Punjabi Wikipedia. His efforts, Jimmy said, had directly and indirectly propelled the Punjabi Wikipedia to become the fastest-growing Indic-language Wikipedia this past year.

                  Satdeep, a “collaborative, inspiring, and tireless” Wikipedian, recently finished the #100wikidays challenge on his home wiki, improving articles on topics ranging from “Judith Butler“, through “Popeye the sailor man” and “stream of consciousness“, to, fittingly, “Teotihuacan“.

                  Joe SutherlandCommunications InternWikimedia Foundation

                  by Joe Sutherland at July 31, 2015 07:30 PM

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Monthly Report for June 2015

                  Highlights

                  • Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Executive Director Frank Schulenburg traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with seven academic associations. As a result of these meetings, all associations declared a strong interest in partnering with Wiki Education Foundation in the future. The American Sociological Association signed a partnership agreement during Jami’s and Frank’s visit.
                  • Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson has published the report on our pilot with high-achieving students and summarized the outcome in a blog post on wikiedu.org. The report marks the end of the pilot project. It found that while many students showed enthusiasm about editing Wikipedia articles as an extracurricular activity, they were extremely unlikely to do so without some form of additional incentive.
                  • Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady has been working with Wikipedia Library staff to take on support for the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program in the United States and Canada. This program connects expert Wikipedians with access to digital university resources with the intent of creating new Wikipedia articles and improving existing articles. Ryan has been managing the transfer of support systems from the Wikipedia Library to the Wiki Education Foundation.
                  • Communications Associate Eryk Salvaggio has directed the production of a new print resource, Theories, which helps instructors frame a theoretical approach to Wikipedia for their students. Four instructors contributed their ideas, classroom questions, and reading lists for this resource, which is available in print and online.

                  Programs

                  Educational Partnerships

                  Signing Wiki Education Foundation’s educational partnership agreement with the American Sociological Association.

                  Samantha joined the Educational Partnerships team after wrapping up the outreach pilot. Samantha is now Wiki Ed’s initial contact person for our programs, strengthening support for the educational partnerships we’ve cultivated over the last half-year.

                  By adding support staff and digital infrastructure, we’re prepared to expand our programs. To that end, Jami and Frank traveled to Washington, D.C., to expand our relationships with academic associations. They had promising discussions about potential partnerships with:

                  • Linguistics Society of America
                  • American Sociological Association
                  • National Communication Association
                  • American Historical Association
                  • American Anthropological Association
                  • American Society of Plant Biologists
                  • Oceanography Society
                  Samantha Erickson at the ALA 2015 Wikipedia booth.

                  One meeting had an immediate impact. The Wiki Education Foundation and the American Sociological Association announced an official partnership. The ASA launched its Wikipedia initiative in 2012, and their students have contributed high-quality work through our Classroom Program ever since. We’re pleased to recognize them as an official partner.

                  Jami also met with current partners the National Women’s Studies Association and the Association for Psychological Science. That discussion included outreach efforts, identifying content gaps, and developing high-quality contributions.

                  In late June, Jami and Samantha joined Wikipedia Library representatives for the American Library Association’s conference in San Francisco. We’ve often heard that our programs complement librarians’ information literacy goals. Wiki Ed is developing ways to involve more librarians in our programs, and we saw tremendous enthusiasm from librarians at the ALA conference for both the Classroom and Visiting Scholars programs.

                  Classroom Program

                  Status of the Classroom Program for the Summer 2015 in numbers, as of June 30:

                  • 12 Wiki Ed-supported courses had Course Pages (4 or 33% were led by returning instructors)
                  • 103 student editors were enrolled
                  • 79 students successfully completed the online training
                  • Students edited 91 articles and created 8 new entries.

                  It’s the start of a busy summer at Wiki Ed. While Wiki Ed has typically only supported 3 or 4 courses during the summer, we’re now supporting 12. That’s a new record!

                  Student work highlights:

                  Community Engagement

                  Samantha Erickson, Jake Orlowitz, and Alex Stinson at the ALA 2015 conference booth in San Francisco.

                  Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady has been preparing for the July launch of Wiki Ed’s Visiting Scholars program. A Visiting Scholar is an official university position for experienced Wikipedia editors who are granted remote access to library research resources. These Visiting Scholars use those resources to improve Wikipedia content in one of the university’s focus areas. The program was developed by the Wikipedia Library, which launched the first batch of Scholars last year. We’re excited to be administering the program in the United States and Canada, starting with the announcement of six new positions at five educational institutions in early July.

                  Ryan has been collaborating with Communications Associate Eryk Salvaggio in writing informational materials, and both have been working with the Wikipedia Library’s Jake Orlowitz and Alex Stinson to coordinate the change in administration. Jake and Alex have done an outstanding job building this program, but are eager to focus on growing the scope of the Wiki Library. Wiki Ed staff also met with Jake and Alex at the American Library Association’s annual conference in San Francisco, where we had our first opportunities to engage academic librarians in discussions about the Visiting Scholars program (see Educational Partnerships section above).

                  You can find information about the Visiting Scholars program at http://wikiedu.org/visitingscholars.

                  Communications

                  The Wiki Education Foundation's Theories handbook.
                  The Wiki Education Foundation’s Theories handbook.

                  In June, Eryk completed several print projects tied to fundraising, our print resources library, and outreach to new partners.

                  Working closely with David Peters of EXBROOK, Wiki Ed completed the publication of a new brochure. Theories: Wikipedia and the production of knowledge explores Wikipedia through a deeply theoretical lens. It explores Wikipedia in relation to access to information, political rhetoric, neutrality, and authorship. The four contributors have also shared a reading list and several discussion questions for students. The brochure will be distributed in print to instructors who engage students to think deeply about Wikipedia as a democratic, social exercise in knowledge production.

                  Eryk and David also worked together to create two outreach materials that will quickly explain Wiki Ed’s programs, benefits and methods to the general public, particularly for purposes of instructor and partner recruitment, and in fundraising.

                  Eryk also produced communications strategy and materials for outreach tied to our Year of Science initiative and Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program.

                  Blog posts:

                  Digital Infrastructure

                  Early in June, Product Manager Sage Ross and the development team at WINTR rolled out a large set of improvements and new features to dashboard.wikiedu.org. First and foremost, our new course system is live. This allows instructors to go through our (updated) Assignment Design Wizard, submit an assignment plan for approval, and manage and monitor a class, all from wikiedu.org. Critically, this new system works independently of the legacy MediaWiki EducationProgram extension that we have used up until now; moving away from that extension opens up opportunities for the many new features and improvement that we will be building rapidly in the coming year. Other new features include our first iterations of an Activity page that shows all the recent edits made by each class, and an Uploads page to showcase media files that students have uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

                  Since the rollout, we’ve been focused on user testing and on fixing the bugs and usability that turn up during user tests. More than a dozen instructors volunteered to beta test the new system by going through the course creation process during a live video call. That testing provided invaluable insight into the rough edges and unmet expectations of the initial versions of our new features, which we’ve been racing to improve. Testing and refinement will continue into July, when we will switch gears and start building some new features for keeping track of student edits and highlighting which students and courses have been most active recently.


                  Research and development

                  Outreach to high-achieving students

                  This month, Samantha published the Outreach Pilot Final Report. The report summarizes learnings from the pilot program aimed to encourage high-achieving students to edit Wikipedia in their extracurricular time. The key learning from this experience is that with incentives, students will edit Wikipedia as an extracurricular activity. However, these incentives, such as field trips, were simply not scalable.

                  From the Wiki Education Foundation’s perspective, this pilot was a success. We answered the questions we set out to address. While our pilot generated less data than we had expected, we are confident that further experimentation with more participants would confirm our findings. For that reason, Wiki Ed will not be extending the outreach pilot beyond June 2015.

                  You can read the full report on-wiki, or a summary of the findings in a blog post.

                  As mentioned above, Samantha joined the Educational Partnerships team at the conclusion of this pilot.

                  Summer Seminar pilot

                  We started planning for a small pilot to encourage psychology faculty members to contribute content to Wikipedia as part of a short summer seminar. The Summer Seminar in Psychology is run with the Association for Psychological Science (APS). We’ve already opened enrollment for the course, which will run from August 3 to 28. Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal and Content Expert in the Sciences Ian Ramjohn will lead the course through weekly check-ins with participants. We’ll evaluate the project to see how we might apply this model to other disciplines in the future.


                  Finance & Administration / Development

                  Finance & Administration

                  The office has been spruced up with the presence of new plants. A handful of potted succulents are now scattered throughout the office, livening up our space.

                  ExpensesJune2015For the month of June, expenses were $296,603 versus the plan of $163,117. Almost $126k of the excess beyond the planned spending is attributed to the new digital infrastructure projects associated with the additional funding received. The additional funding and expanded digital projects were not anticipated and are not in the plan. As a result, the actual excess above the plan of $163,117 is only $7,551, much of which is associated to increased printing of brochures.

                  YTDExpensesJune2015

                  Year-To-Date expenses are $1,956,747 versus the plan of $1,938,007. Included in the Year-To-Date expenses are the additional / expanded digital projects which were not in the original plan. The additional funding covering the new digital projects account for $276,660 of the Year-To-Date expenses. The actual variance after accounting for new digital projects is $258k. A majority of the variance is a result of the timing of staff hires and vacancies ($106k); and outside contract services ($153k).

                  Development

                  During the month of June, Senior Manager of Development Tom Porter put several systems in place needed to execute the Fiscal Year 2015–16 annual fundraising plan. As a result, we have identified private foundations, corporate foundations, and individual prospects. Tom is actively working with Wiki Ed board members and current funders to connect with these new funding prospects.


                  Office of the ED

                  Some small potted plants at the Wiki Education Foundation office in the Presidio, San Francisco.
                  Some small potted plants at the Wiki Education Foundation office in the Presidio, San Francisco.
                  • Current priorities:
                    • Preparing for Wiki Education Foundation’s first round of performance reviews for individual staff members
                    • Creating alignment around and understanding of our organization’s goals and key activities for next year
                    • Securing funding for upcoming major programmatic initiatives
                    • Filling the Director of Programs position
                  • In June, Wiki Education Foundation’s board approved the annual plan and budget for next fiscal year 2015–16. The plan is a direct result of a strategic planning process started in January and concluded in June 2015. It calls for a major, 19-month long, content improvement and student learning initiative and new ways of building bridges between Wikipedia and academia.
                  • Also in June, the leadership team worked collaboratively on preparing grant reports and proposals. This time of the year is always busy as we’re looking back at what has been accomplished as well as planning for the time ahead.
                  • In order to stay in touch with the “everyday business” of connecting Wikipedia and the academic world, Frank accompanied Jami to meetings with academic associations in Washington DC (see above). The trip confirmed the strong interest these organizations have in getting involved with Wikipedia and also validated some of the underlying assumptions for Wiki Ed’s programmatic work.
                  • Supported by the recruitment agency m/Oppenheim, Frank started the hiring process for the Director of Programs position. This is part of splitting up the Programs department, in order to re-balance our leadership team and to expand our capacity in planning and running programs. The job description can be found as a PDF on our website. LiAnna Davis, who has done an outstanding job of overseeing our programmatic work, will continue to oversee communications, technology, and Wikipedia content support as the new Director of Program Support.

                  Visitors and guests

                  • David Peters, Exbrook
                  • Annie Lin
                  • Rosemary Rein, Wikimedia Foundation

                   

                  by Eryk Salvaggio at July 31, 2015 04:51 PM

                  Brion Vibber

                  Using Web Worker threading in ogv.js for smoother playback

                  I’ve been cleaning up MediaWiki’s “TimedMediaHandler” extension in preparation for merging integration with my ogv.js JavaScript media player for Safari and IE/Edge when no native WebM or Ogg playback is available. It’s coming along well, but one thing continued to worry me about performance: when things worked it was great, but if the video decode was too slow, it could make your browser very sluggish.

                  In addition to simply selecting too high a resolution for your CPU, this can strike if you accidentally open a debug console during playback (Safari, IE) or more seriously if you’re on an obscure platform that doesn’t have a JavaScript JIT compiler… or using an app’s embedded browser on your iPhone.

                  Or simply if the integration code’s automatic benchmark overestimated your browser speed, running too much decoding just made everything crap.

                  Luckily, the HTML5 web platform has a solution — Web Workers.

                  Workers provide a limited ability to do multithreading in JavaScript, which means the decoder thread can take as long as it wants — the main browser thread can keep responding to user input in the meantime.

                  The limitation is that scripts running in a Worker have no direct access to your code or data running in the web page’s main thread — you can communicate only by sending messages with ‘raw’ data types. Folks working with lots of DOM browser nodes thus can’t get much benefit, but for buffer-driven compute tasks like media decoding it’s perfect!

                  Threading comms overhead

                  My first attempt was to take the existing decoder class (an emscripten module containing the Ogg demuxer, Theora video decoder, and Vorbis audio decoder, etc) and run it in the worker thread, with a proxy object sending data and updated object properties back and forth.

                  This required a little refactoring to make the decoder interfaces asynchronous, taking callbacks instead of returning results immediately.

                  It worked pretty well, but there was a lot of overhead due to the demuxer requiring frequent back-and-forth calls — after every processing churn, we had to wait for the demuxer to return its updated status to us on the main thread.

                  This only took a fraction of a millisecond each time, but a bunch of those add up when your per-frame budget is 1/30 (or even 1/60) second!

                   

                  I had been intending a bigger refactor of the code anyway to use separate emscripten modules for the demuxer and audio/video decoders — this means you don’t have to load code you won’t need, like the Opus audio decoder when you’re only playing Vorbis files.

                  It also means I could change the coupling, keeping the demuxer on the main thread and moving just the audio/video decoders to workers.

                  This gives me full speed going back-and-forth on the demuxer, while the decoders can switch to a more “streaming” behavior, sending packets down to be decoded and then displaying the frames or queueing the audio whenever it comes back, without having to wait on it for the next processing iteration.

                  The result is pretty awesome — in particular on older Windows machines, IE 11 has to use the Flash plugin to do audio and I was previously seeing a lot of “stuttery” behavior when the video decode blocked the Flash audio queueing or vice versa… now it’s much smoother.

                  The main bug left in the worker mode is that my audio/video sync handling code doesn’t properly handle the case where video decoding is consistently too slow — when we were on the main thread, this caused the audio to halt due to the main thread being blocked; now the audio just keeps on going and the video keeps playing as fast as it can and never catches up. :)

                  However this should be easy to fix, and having it be wrong but NOT FREEZING YOUR BROWSER is an improvement over having sync but FREEZING YOUR BROWSER. :)

                  by brion at July 31, 2015 02:31 PM

                  User:Bluerasberry

                  Mirror of “The Forgotten Half”, an article about Jashodaben

                  This is an archival copy of the following source:

                  Oza, Nandini; Bhattacherjee, Kallol (22 April 2014). “THE FORGOTTEN HALF“. week.manoramaonline.com. Malayala Manorama. Archived from the original at http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?contentId=16673695 on 23 June, 2015.

                  a screengrab of a news article

                  screengrab

                  EXCLUSIVE EYEWITNESS REPORT

                  The year was 1968. The house of Damodardas and Hiraba Modi in Vadnagar in north Gujarat was bustling with activity. One of their six children, Narendra, 18, was getting married. Though there had been pre-marriage ceremonies for a few days, the Modis, strapped for cash, had kept the celebrations restrained. Clad in kurta, pyjama and safa (turban), the groom came out of the house with his family and friends. Some members of the family got into a jeep with the groom and the rest boarded a state transport bus, which was hired for the wedding, with others.

                  Their destination was Brahmanwada, about 50km from Vadnagar, where the bride, Jashoda, lived. Her father, Chimanlal Modi, was a school teacher. When the groom’s party reached Brahmanwada, Narendra was made sit on a horse. “He looked good,” says Punja Patel, 75, who attended the function. Patel, however, remembers the wedding for another incident-a patharnu (thick cotton sheet on which people sit), he had given to the Modis, went missing from the venue.

                  Narendra’s friends say he was reluctant to get married. “He was engaged to Jashoda a year before the marriage. But unlike other teenagers, he never spoke about her. In fact, he kept telling us that he wanted to serve the country and was not interested in marriage,” says Nagji Desai, 64, an ayurvedic practitioner who was a classmate at Shri B.N. High School in Vadnagar.

                  The wedding was a simple affair. “When we reached, we were offered tea, gathiya and jalebi,” says Desai. Though Narendra remained serious throughout the function, Jashoda, who was one and a half years younger than the groom, appeared happy. Desai says she wore a red panetar (a traditional Gujarati sari) and a green modiyu (an ornament that Gujarati brides wear on the forehead). Lunch was served after the wedding. Desai still remembers it had mohanthaal (a sweet dish), puri, vegetable, dal and rice.

                  Jashoda left her home with Narendra for Vadnagar, where his mother welcomed them by applying kumkum (vermilion) on their foreheads, says Desai. A relative performed the ritual of untying the knot of a cloth the couple had worn on their shoulders. Then they played a game in which they were asked to find a ring in a container of milk and flowers. The one who finds the ring, it was said, would rule the marriage. “Narendra won,” says Desai, though it still appeared to be a happy day for Jashoda.

                  The next dawn, however, broke with a shocking news. “Narendra took the 6 a.m. train to Ahmedabad,” says Desai. “He returned only after some 30 years.”

                  It came as a shock to Narendra’s friends, too, as he had not told them about the plan. “He gave in to parental pressure to get married,” says Jasud Khan Pathan, 64, a retired bank manager who was also a classmate at Shri B.N. High School. “That he has been married is true. But the fact is that they never lived together.”

                  According to Desai, Jashoda went to her parents’ home after a few days, which was customary. When she returned to Vadnagar, Narendra’s parents were said to have told her that she could stay with them as long as she wanted to. It is said that she stayed at the in-laws’ place for a few months and went back home. She continued her studies as her husband had asked her to and became a school teacher. Now retired, she lives with her brother Ashok and sister-in-law in Unjha near Vadnagar.

                  It was a controversy in waiting. No sooner Narendra Damodardas Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, acknowledged in his affidavit while filing nomination papers from the Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency that he was married than the media rushed to Unjha in search of Jashodaben. They were told that she had gone on a Char Dham pilgrimage, and would be back only on May 17, a day after the Lok Sabha election results are scheduled to be announced. Ashok, however, later said she was back.

                  It could be the fear of offending the powerful man (undoubtedly, Modi revealed his marital status in the affidavit only because there was a Supreme Court directive against leaving any column blank), Jashodaben’s family is reluctant to answer any questions about the Gujarat chief minister. And the irony is unmistakable. While Modi, who enjoys Z-category security owing to a terror threat, is seldom asked about his wife, Jashodaben and family remain open to questioning by society and the media. While Modi and his party are spending hundreds of crores of rupees for media slots, Jashodaben and family are struggling to avoid attention. “My sister-in-law has no problems with him [Modi]; then what do we say?” asks Ashok’s wife.

                  Ashok, who runs a small business, says Modi had his reasons not to admit that he was married. “Since he was a pracharak [of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] he could not disclose his wife’s name; but he always had feelings and now he has expressed his feelings by naming her in the affidavit,” he says. Has Modi ever provided any kind of support to her or the family because of his “feelings”? “The family did not need help and she was a teacher,” says Ashok, confirming that the couple never had a married life, as Modi left home soon after their wedding.

                  Kamlesh Modi, Jashodaben’s youngest brother who lives in Brahmanwada, is even more elusive. All that he says is that they are proud that Modi is from Mehsana district.

                  The extended family, however, is not so closed. Daksha Modi, who is married to a nephew of Jashodaben, Rakesh, is seemingly angry. “After Modi acknowledged my aunt as his wife, his elder brother Sombhai described the marriage as aupcharikta (formality). What is formality?” she asks. “At times, we tell her to go to Gandhinagar. But she says, ‘What is the need? I get my pension’.”

                  According to Daksha, Jashodaben regularly follows Modi on television and in the newspapers, and prays for him to become the prime minister. She does not like anyone criticising him. Daksha is sure that Jashodaben will not say a word against Modi even if she is offered a fortune.

                  Modi’s family has clearly moved on from the marriage. Prahlad Modi, one of his brothers, says only Sombhai, the eldest brother, will answer questions on Modi and Jashodaben. Sombhai had earlier said the marriage was just a formality and requested everyone not to view it based on his brother’s current status but on the poor financial conditions and orthodox nature of the family. When contacted by THE WEEK, he said he was travelling.

                  Whenever he talks about Modi, Prahlad never fails to mention how the family struggled in the earlier days and their mother, Hiraba, used to do chores in other houses to educate them. He is proud of what Modi has achieved, and he does not seem to believe that his brother owes it to anyone, not least to a wife whom he left a day after the wedding.

                  April to September is pilgrim season in north India, when the faithful from across the country flock to the Char Dham in the Himalayas. For devotees from Gujarat, the journey this year offers not just spiritual bliss but also a fair share of intrigue. There are whispers that one of the ashrams of yoga guru Baba Ramdev near the Neelkanth Mahadev temple in Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is hosting Jashodaben until the elections are over and the media interest in her wanes.

                  According to sources in the Vishva Hindu Parishad, soon after Modi acknowledged Jashodaben as his wife, Hindu activists and security professionals dressed as pilgrims arrived on her doorsteps in three white SUVs. They told her that her long-standing wish for a Char Dham yatra had come true. Sources said the group took her to Ahmedabad, where she boarded a chartered flight to Aurangabad near the Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand border, and then to Ramdev’s isolated mountain-top ashram at Rishikesh. Labourers in the ashram say a lady was seen arriving in a white vehicle on April 13.

                  “Jashodaben is protected by top-level security people with ties with the Gujarat security services. Perhaps, she does not even know that those with her are not pilgrims but people tasked with keeping her away from the public eye,” said a source close to Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth, who recently spoke out against Modi.

                  Despite Jashodaben’s vanishing act, the atmosphere at her brother Kamlesh’s home is upbeat. Strangers and unemployed youth are pouring in to meet Jashodaben and inquire about her famous husband. Modi’s acknowledgement has put the spotlight on her relatives and they seem to be enjoying it. Jay, Kamlesh’s 16-year-old-son, says he wants to follow in the footsteps of his fuva (paternal aunt’s husband). “I want to fight elections and be a politician,” he says. “Jashodaben thinks of me as her favourite. She always insists on meeting me twice a day.”

                  The worlds of Modi and his in-laws are poles apart. Kamlesh’s home is no lap of luxury and his wife, Sitaben, does not wear designer clothes. She receives guests in a small room with two charpoys and overhanging steel buckets. It is evident that she and Jashodaben have had hard lives.

                  Sitaben, however, is a firm supporter of Modi. She is wary of Congressmen, who in the past had exhorted Jashodaben to speak out against Modi. “Do not criticise Modiji,” says Sitaben. “He has sacrificed a lot for the country. We don’t blame him for neglecting his wife.”

                  Detractors, however, say Modi left his wife in the lurch. “A primary school teacher in Gujarat earns approximately Rs 15,000. In the 1970s, the salaries were much lower and her life must have been full of hardship,” said Madhusudan Mistry of the Congress, who is contesting against Modi in Vadodara.

                  Despite the controversy, political parties seem unwilling to reach out to Jashodaben. Perhaps, they fear that if they did, she would come out in support of Modi. Shabnam Hashmi of the NGO Act Now for Harmony and Democracy says Jashodaben’s public image as a religious and conservative woman will be used to bolster the kind of womanhood that fits the RSS ideology well.

                  Despite all the media attention, very little is known about Jashodaben. The many photos of Hindu deities that crowd the walls of Kamlesh’s house indicate that she is as religious as her relatives. Students of the Rajosana Primary School near Brahmanwada, from where she retired in 2010, recall an affectionate and popular teacher who used to teach social sciences, elementary maths and Gujarati language. School photographs show her surrounded by students, most of them Muslim, and villagers speak of her in tones bordering on reverence. “She used to rise very early and feed the cows chapattis and jaggery before leaving for school,” said a villager. “She was very religious but was fond of all her students, irrespective of their differences.”

                    Modi’s yatra

                  • September 17, 1950: Born in Vadnagar, 100km north of Ahmedabad.
                  • 1950-60s: Attends schools in Vadnagar and Ahmedabad. Works at a tea stall in Ahmedabad.
                  • 1968: Marries Jashodaben, but leaves to join the RSS. Starts living at the RSS headquarters in Maninagar.
                  • 1970s: Jashodaben clears SSC exam in 1974, completes teachers’ training in 1976 and starts teaching two years later.
                  • 1987: Modi joins the BJP. The party wins the civic body polls and Modi becomes general secretary of the state unit within a year.
                  • 1990: Plays a vital role in L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra.
                  • 1995: The BJP wins Assembly polls for the first time in Gujarat. Senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela rebels and splits the party within six months.
                  • 1998: Mid-term Assembly polls held and the BJP regains power. Modi made organising secretary of the BJP.
                  • 2001: Persuades central leadership to replace chief minister Keshubhai Patel. Modi becomes chief minister.
                  • 2002: Riots break out after Hindu pilgrims die in a train fire in Godhra. At least 1,200 people killed. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee suggests sacking Modi, but Advani and Arun Jaitley save his chair. Victory for the BJP in Assembly polls.
                  • 2005: The US denies visa to Modi.
                  • 2007: Leads the BJP to another Assembly election victory in Gujarat.
                  • 2008: Persuades Tata to relocate its Nano project to Gujarat.
                  • 2009: The Supreme Court asks the special investigation team (SIT) to examine his role in the Gulbarg Society massacre.
                  • 2010: The SIT grills Modi. The CBI arrests his trusted aide Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. Jashodaben retires as teacher.
                  • 2011: Gets a clean chit from the SIT and starts Sadbhavna fast.
                  • 2012: The UK ends boycott of Modi and the European Union follows suit in a few months. Third victory in Assembly polls.
                  • June 2013: Appointed the BJP’s campaign committee chief for the Lok Sabha polls.
                  • July 2013: CBI report says Ishrat Jehan encounter was fake.
                  • Sept 2013: Named the BJP’s prime minister candidate.
                  • April 10, 2014: Mentions Jashodaben as wife for the first time in poll affidavit.

                  by bluerasberry at July 31, 2015 02:09 AM

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia encourages collaboration online and off

                  Finno-ugric wikiseminar 2014 02.jpg
                  Ivo Kruusamägi, one of the community leaders in charge of the program, speaks in Berlin. Photo by Ralf Roletschek, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

                  The Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia was established to encourage students to contribute to the world of free knowledge on the Internet by editing Wikipedia and bringing experienced editors of the online encyclopedia to work on the ground helping newcomers. The journey was not an easy nor a short one for them. Leaders were able to take the challenge, support their initiative, and learn from their past lessons.

                  The program initiators had a clear and well-organized plan about what was needed and what would happen from the first day. Kaarel Vaidla, the Executive Director of the Estonian Chapter, Wikimedia Eesti (WM EE), shares some of the secrets behind the beginning of Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia. “There were some university educators who liked Wikipedia and wanted to engage their students in editing it as part of their class work,” he says. “We had several active editors on Wikipedia whose first language is Estonian, who were interested in doing outreach work for Wikipedia too. Those are the two solid bases on which you can build a successful education program: an active Wikipedia community and a group of interested educators.”

                  Program leaders made several changes later to conform with new circumstances and challenges they meet. “A lot hasn’t worked out as planned and it has been more important to constantly monitor the activities and look for parts that could be changed for better,” Ivo Kruusamägi added.

                  Teele Vaalma, Estonian project leader with secondary schools, saying the opening words in the local Wiki Loves Monuments award ceremony in 2012. Photo by Amadvr, CC BY-SA 3.0.

                  The community leaders who led the program were Ivo Kruusamägi and Teele Vaalma. They are still at the helm of the program. Ivo and Teele are administrators on the Estonian Wikipedia and are very active on other Wikimedia projects as well. When working with newbies in Wikimedia programs, close mentorship from them helps students to settle into Wikipedia and reduces the conflict between new users and other community leads.

                  Even though Estonian program leaders are not giving any special attention to increasing gender diversity on Wikipedia, it is thought that around half of the student editors are female. Kruusamägi considers writing encyclopedia articles a totally gender neutral activity: “As half of the students are female, then having some specific strategy to bring in more of them just doesn’t seem necessary,” he says. On the other hand, Kaarel argues: “A smarter strategy to encourage women to edit should be considered, by calling women to edit in their capacity as valuable persons who have the knowledge and the potential to add free knowledge to Wikipedia, they will be more open to participating, rather than asking them to participate because Wikipedia needs female editors.”

                  The Estonian chapter was not yet established when the first steps towards the education initiative were started, and some articles were created in 2009. Continuous activity started a year later. At the University of Tartu, more than 170 students participated in the initiative in the course “Computer Hardware II”, itself inspired by an IT-article competition held the same spring. Sulev Iva, an administrator on the Võro Wikipedia who teaches South-Estonian languages in Tartu, had already been giving article writing exercises since 2007.

                  Work with secondary schools started directly after the founding of the chapter in the second half of 2010 with the “Wikipedia in schools” project. This involved giving lectures and conducting surveys about Wikipedia. Lately, the Estonian government, represented by the Ministry of Education and Research, joined these efforts, offering support for the program to integrate it into high schools. Now, an e-course for secondary school students is being assembled.

                  Kruusamägi, a founder of the local chapter, has mentioned that the education program wasn’t thought through at all when establishing Wikimedia Eesti. He was more hoping it to be useful when organizing different activities, such as the IT-article competition, but he soon saw that those weren’t bringing in as many people as he had hoped. “I focused on the educational part as I saw this to be more stable, cheaper and easier to scale,” he says. “Students have to do their work and it makes the results far more predictable.”

                  It just so happened that, right after the formation of the chapter, the first project took him to visit eight schools around Estonia as an outreach activity. “But as I see this online encyclopedia as an educational project anyway, then it was probably inevitable that the educational activities started piling up.”

                  The education program is growing the Estonian Wikipedia community. It attracts more than 300 student editors annually, mostly from the University of Tartu, but also some from the University of Tallinn in the capital. Articles written by these students have around 8,000 characters of text on average, and so far there are roughly 2,000 of them. Exact byte count over all of their articles has never been officially measured, but it is thought to be around 24 million.

                  On different occasions, WM EE leaders meet Wikimedia community members from around the globe. Interestingly, the Estonians seem to prefer to talk about the lessons they learned from their less-than-successful experiences, rather than simply listing their accomplishments. For example, at the Wikimedia Conference 2014, WM EE board member Eva Lepik and executive director Kaarel Vaidla presented a session about their activity and spoke about what they considered “mistakes”, which they warned others not to repeat!

                  The situation was a bit different at the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2014, where Kaarel chose to classify their education program work as “the good, the bad and the neutral“. Still, things might be changing; at the recent Wikimania conference, Kruusamägi gave a talk about their university project and, given the plans presented there, it seems likely that we’ll soon have more reasons to talk about what is happening in the tiny Nordic country.

                  It is, sometimes, a challenge for online communities to be as successful when they work on the ground as well as online. The Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia is an example of how these two different communities can connect and grow together.

                  Samir ElsharbatyCommunications InternWikipedia Education Program

                  by Samir El-Sharbaty at July 31, 2015 01:47 AM

                  July 30, 2015

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  Get help editing Wikipedia with the new “Co-op” mentorship program

                  CO-OP Logo 2.png
                  Logo idea for the en.wiki project, the Co-op. Created by graphic designer Soujanyaa Boruah. Logo by Soujanyaa Boruah, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

                  Screenshot of the landing page for the Co-op mentorship space on English Wikipedia. Screenshot by I JethroBT, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

                  What if there was a gathering place on Wikipedia for newer editors to find a mentor? What if we could match these editors to mentors based on their needs and goals? And what if we could do more to help editors beyond pointing them to documentation? This was the motivation behind developing a recently piloted mentorship space called the Co-op on the English Wikipedia.

                  Funded by an Individual Engagement Grant, myself and our team assessed the current state of help spaces on the English Wikipedia and created the Co-op, a mentorship space informed by our research. For instance, we noted that newer editors are often familiar with some guidelines and policies, but are unsure of how they are implemented in practice. Consequently, we ensured that editors using the Co-op could be matched with mentors to focus on conventions and best practices in editing that are not always easily found in documentation.

                  Another common theme was that newer editors seeking help were initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of help pages and felt lost. In building the Co-op, we created a system to design mentorships based on concrete topics or problems, rather than leaving them too broad or unfocused.

                  Using the Co-op is simple: editors are matched with mentors on based on how they wish to contribute, which they specify within a profile. These matching criteria include writing, image help, and technical work (such as syntax), among other topic areas. Editors can provide more specific details about why they are seeking mentorship within their profile as well. A bot then searches and matches the editor to a mentor who has volunteered to teach in that area. The two editors are pinged using the notifications system and informed about the match, where mentorship can then begin. Editors can change their profiles at anytime based on their needs and goals. Mentors can award Co-op barnstars to editors who have achieved their goals during mentorship:

                  All images by Boruah, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

                  Our final report details the outcomes of our background research in evaluating help spaces on the English Wikipedia in addition to the development and results of the Co-op pilot itself. The pilot was a one-month long experiment that brought in 49 participants to use the Co-op, and was supported by our team in addition to 25 mentors. Here are some key findings on the impact of mentorship through the Co-op:

                  The Co-op has the personal touch that helped me swim in a sea of information; I am very grateful.

                  — Co-op pilot participant, IEG Final Report

                  • Mentored editors were more productive than compared to editors who were not mentored. During the pilot, mentored editors made 7 times as many edits (35 vs. 4.5 in median edits). They also edited more articles during the pilot (10 vs. 3 on average).
                  • 68% of mentored editors remained active in April 2015, the month after the end of pilot, whereas only 22% of non-mentored editors remained active.
                  • Editors using the Co-op waited far less time for mentorship to begin (12 hours) compared to the only other mentorship space on en.wiki, Adopt-a-user (4 days).
                  • Despite being geared toward newer editors, the Co-op was utilized by more experienced editors who reported having positive and constructive experiences through mentorship.

                  Based on our findings, the Co-op appears to facilitate positive and productive experiences for editors. As such, we have reopened the Co-op for general use. Our team feels that the broader editing community can begin to take charge of the Co-op to promote its maintenance and growth. There are certainly areas where our mentorship space can be improved, some of which can be found on our phabricator task board. In order for the Co-op to succeed, we also need mentors who are willing to engage with and help teach newer editors. Mentors need not be good at everything on Wikipedia, and can choose to teach only in the areas they are comfortable. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, we invite you to sign up today.

                  We feel that the Co-op’s model of mentorship shows promise for providing a positive experience for newer editors. Whether you are looking for a mentor, or want to be a mentor, we invite you to check out and participate in the Co-op!

                  I JethroBT
                  Co-op Project Manager

                  by ijethrobot at July 30, 2015 05:46 PM

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikidata - What is a Radcliffe fellow?

                  Mrs Mehrangiz Kar is a Radcliffe fellow. It is just one of the things that is to know about her. I think this fellow thing is a fancy way of saying that she was employed at Radcliffe college..  When you read the article about her, there are several quite relevant awards mentioned.

                  Registering awards, any and all awards, is a way of establishing relevance. Several of them so far did not merit their own article and therefore they are just registered as text. When you look close at all the Radcliffe fellows, you get an idea what they have in common. The same is true for people who received an award.

                  Every so often for their own political reasons, people will deny what is in their face when they look at it. The merit of the organisations that are of foreign origin is easy to dismiss.. "Gross interference", "not patriotic" is easy to utter and when the nation is said to be equal to the current incumbent.

                  The point of Wikipedia and Wikidata however, is not to take a point of view. Articles are there to be read, to inform. They may be the basis for an informed opinion. That is fine, that is what they are there for.

                  PS The point of Mrs Kar is that there are so many awards, relevant awards in the Wikipedia article that lack weight because they are not backed up with more information.
                  Thanks,
                       GerardM


                  by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 30, 2015 03:55 PM

                  Joseph Reagle

                  Cecil the lion Q&A

                  This evening I'm supposed to speak with BBC's Newsday about the Internet's outrage over the Walter Palmer's shooting of Cecil the lion. Before an interview I like to think about likely questions and possible answers. (Of course, this assumes I won't be bumped, which does happen; I'd think Jon Ronson, author of So You've Been Publicly Shamed, would be a contender!)

                  • What is shaming?
                    • Shame is often distinguished from guilt. Guilt is the negative affect arising from an inconsistency between one's values, or those values and one's actions. Shame is social, it's the negative affect resulting from others indicating their disapproval.
                    • At the scale of the local community, shaming is a type of socialization, encouraging the person to behave in accordance with the values of the community. One would hope the person would be reintegrated back into the community. (If this fails, a person might be ostracized or banished.)
                  • How is online shaming different?
                    • Online, there's not much of a community to speak of nationally. It's not a matter of socialization or reintegration of the offender.
                    • It's really more of a mob with pitchforks. People are upset and perhaps enjoy being upset and angry, and behave accordingly.
                    • Online, we'll also see particular tactics.
                      • The target might be doxed (personal information revealed, e.g., Mia Farrow tweeting of Palmer's address),
                      • sleuthed (other incriminating information is found and published),
                      • and harassed (fake Yelp reviews); Twitter impersonation
                      • there's also trolling and parody (e.g., #LionsLivesMatter)
                  • Is this unusual?
                    • No, it seems we have something like this a couple of times a year. Ronson gives a couple of recent cases in his book, including Justine Sacco's tweet before going to Africa.
                  • Why do you think this particular issue blew up?
                    • The trope of a greedy/stupid person (e.g., a hunter, an American) needing to be corrected attracts attention.
                    • Because he is an American, it's something Americans feel that they can somehow protest.
                    • Similarly, it's something non-American's can be righteous about.
                    • Maybe some constituencies, like animal rights activists or conservationists, feel that they can use this event tactically so as to effect change.
                    • Lions are rare and beautiful. Cecil's death pales in comparison to the suffering of millions of animals that are used for food, but people aren't much impressed with cows, pigs, and chickens. (You can even find videos of dogs in China skinned alive for their fur, but it doesn't cause much of a protest in the States beyond animal rights activists.)
                  • You think much change will come from this?
                    • America and Zimbabwe are both embarrassed. America could change its trophy import policy; Zimbabwe could change its animal protection and hunting policies.
                    • I'm a pessimist and I don't think either of these changes would have a significant effect on the conservation of rare species or in limiting animal suffering in the world, but perhaps it will!
                  • What will likely happen to Walter Palmer?
                    • He's apologized by way of saying he did not intend to do anything illegal, and beyond that he'll likely disappear for a few years.
                    • It's possible he'll be the subject of some type of legal sanction, by the US, UN, or Zimbabwe -- if extradited. The latest news is that Palmer can't be located.

                  by Joseph Reagle at July 30, 2015 04:00 AM

                  July 29, 2015

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  Bangladesh celebrates as Bangla Wikipedia turns 10

                  10th year anniversary of Bengali Wikipedia.jpg
                  Jimmy Wales with the Wikipedians and guests at the Gala Event. Photo by Sukanta Das, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  The tenth anniversary of the Bangla Wikipedia was marked by Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) with a series of events across the country. Through the first ever nationwide event, over the course of seven months, we endeavored to engage and train as many volunteers and Wikipedians as possible to organize events and increase outreach in every division of Bangladesh.

                  Jimmy Wales attended the Gala Event in February 2015 to mark the anniversary. The State Minister for ICT Divisions, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, attended the 10th Anniversary Conference as the chief guest, where over 300 old and new Wikipedians from Bangladesh and India took part.

                  Bangla Wikipedia was launched in January 2004, and the site now boasts more than 36,000 articles edited by over 100 active Wikipedians. The 10th anniversary programs were originally scheduled for 2014, but a national parliamentary election and subsequent political instability meant events were postponed to the first half of 2015.

                  Our strategic priorities included increasing the Bangla Wikipedia’s reach in the country, as well as training existing and new Wikipedians to make quality contributions. We hosted and kindled several initiatives and events, including Wikipedia workshops, rewards for the best Wikipedians, a photography contest, photowalks, school programs, a gala event, and a tenth anniversary conference. Telecommunication service provider Grameenphone provided financial and logistic support to organize the divisional workshops and a tenth anniversary press-conference. The rest of the events were organized by WMBD with funds from the Wikimedia Foundation.

                  The best contributor among the new Wikipedians receives an award from guests, including Jimmy Wales, at the Gala Event. Photo by Shabab Mustafa, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  The seven month-long tenth anniversary celebration included a wide variety of events:

                  • The celebration began with a press conference held in November 2014, which was attended by many of the prominent news sources in Bangladesh. The newsmen were briefed about the event outline, the growth of the Bangla Wikipedia over the past decade, and our goals for the events.
                  • The “Bangla Wikipedia Photography Contest” began on September 1, 2014 and lasted until December 31. The theme of the contest was landscape and heritage of Bangladesh. Participants were asked to upload photos onto Wikimedia Commons, and more than 4,600 were submitted.
                  • The first of the seven divisional workshops was held on November 29, 2014 in Chittagong. Grameenphone sponsored seven workshops, which were held in all seven divisions of Bangladesh. Separate from these, a number of Wikipedia workshops were organized by WMBD in partnership with universities in Dhaka and Rajshahi. The workshops provided hands-on training to the participants on contributing and editing Bangla Wikipedia, and were attended by university students and new Wikipedians. The best three participants of each workshops, based on their contributions (over a time period of two months) to Bangla Wikipedia, were then invited to the Gala Event.
                  • The Gala Event was held in February 2015 in Dhaka with Jimmy Wales in attendance as the chief guest. The event was attended by around 300 invited participants, including Wikimedians, other guests from different universities, and from the government. A panel discussion was held with Jimmy Wales, Munir Hasan (President of WMBD), representatives from Telecom operators partnered with Wikipedia Zero, and education activists. They discussed ways for fostering free availability of knowledge and information through Wikimedia projects in Bangladesh.
                  • Eight photowalks were held in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Rangpur, aiming to engage and encourage photographers to contribute photos to Wikimedia Commons. A second goal was to collect photographs of architectural, historical, and archaeological sites in Bangladesh. An average of ten to fifteen photographers attended each photowalk, which covered Old Dhaka, the National Botanical Garden, Chittagong University, Puthia Temple Complex, and Sylhet city.

                  Bangla Wikipedia Workshop at Chittagong Independent University. Photo by Nahid Sultan, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  Best WIkipedian award and photography contest winners, organizers and guests at the 10th anniversary conference. Photo by Kanon Ahammad, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

                  • The main program in the series was the Bangla Wikipedia 10th Anniversary Conference, held on May 30, 2015 at Daffodil International University. The conference acted as the biggest gathering of Bangla Wikipedia contributors from both Bangladesh and India. There were a number of workshops and sessions at the program, including Collaboration between the Bangladeshi and Indian Bengali Wikipedians and Increasing women contributors in the growth of Bangla Wikipedia, with many concentrating on creating quality articles and contributing to Wikimedia Commons. There were over 320 participants, and the best Bangladeshi contributors over the last decade were recognized alongside the best three photographers of the photography contest. Eminent writer and journalist Anisul Hoque inspired the attendance by describing how useful Wikipedia is to him. The conference received substantial press coverage.
                  • The Wikipedia School Programs were designed more to encourage students to effectively use Wikipedia for their benefit than to contribute to it. It was held on June 16, 2015 at Shaheed Police Smrity School & College in Dhaka; about 80 students from 9th to 12th grade were present, including five teachers. Students were provided with leaflets that contained brief instructions about using and contributing to the Bangla Wikipedia. It was the first time in the country that a Wikipedia-related event was held in a school.

                  Instead of holding one program to mark the anniversary, this series of events allowed us to conduct extensive outreach programs across Bangladesh that increased reach and included hands-on training for Wikipedians. One of our key purposes in organizing this series of events was to involve the new volunteers with the old ones and enhance organizing capacity through volunteer engagement.

                  This also provided advantage in terms of organizational effectiveness, as local volunteers in cities where no Wikipedia related activities had ever been held could organize programs by themselves—of the many Bangla Wikipedia events held in the past, almost all were in Dhaka and Chittagong. A few Wikipedians hailed from other areas of the country.

                  Our events covered all seven divisional cities, thus paving the way for growing Wikipedia communities in those areas of the country. It is imperative for Wikimedia affiliates to involve people from different places and backgrounds to disseminate the Wikimedia movement in a wider context, and to increase editor diversity in the Wikimedia community.

                  Tanweer MorshedExecutive Committee MemberWikimedia Bangladesh

                  by Tanweer Morshed at July 29, 2015 11:04 PM

                  Magnus Manske

                  Add it to the pile!

                  I have previously blogged about Wikipedia-related page lists, and how they relate to many tools and activities. I also lamented my previous, failed attempts at introducing a “tool pipeline system”.

                  Well, I am not one to give up easily! The latest, greatest iteration in this vein is PagePile. Essentially, this new tool is managing piles (newspeak for “lists”) of pages from Wikipedia, Wikidata, Commons, and other projects form the WikiVerse.

                  Manipulations

                  Filtering a list.

                  Filtering a list.

                  New piles can be taken from various sources, including manual lists, WDQ, and the Gather extension. Several of my tools can also generate piles, including AutoList, CatScan, QuickIntersection, and Not-in-the-other-language. Either way, you end up with a numeric PagePile ID.

                  What can you do with that ID? First of all, you can look at the list (that example leads to the list of all humans on Wikidata, ~2.8M items long), and download it in various formats.

                  You can filter the list, creating a new list (with a new ID) by following language links, resolving redirects, merging and subsetting with other lists, etc.

                  Finally, you can import them into several of my tools, including Autolist, FIST, WD-FIST,Not-in-the-other-language, and GetItemNames.

                  This list will likely grow; it is quite easy to add PagePiles as an input and/or output to a tool. Let me know if there is a tool you would like to see connected to the PagePile ecosystem; likewise for new filters.

                  Tech

                  If you are a tool author on Labs, you might want to consider linking up to the obvious possibilities of this system. I made a brief introduction for programmers, put the code on BitBucket, and I am working on some code documentation.

                  Basically, the tool manages a list of sqlite files, each of which represents a pile (=list) of pages on a wiki. You can get the file name of the sqlite3 file from the API or via the PHP class described in the intro. Via that class, or using sqlite3 directly, you can read and write that file, adding and changing lists. Please let me know if you have problems or comments, and if you start using PagePile in your tools, so I can add them to my consumer and/or generator lists.

                  by Magnus at July 29, 2015 10:36 PM

                  Guillaume Paumier

                  My life as an autistic Wikipedian

                  Death_Valley_5903

                  Two years ago, I discovered that I was on the autism spectrum. As I learned more about myself and the way my brain worked, I started to look at past experiences through the lens of this newly-found aspect. In this essay, I share some of what I’ve learned along the way about my successes, my failures, and many things that confused me in the past, notably in my experiences in the Wikimedia movement.

                  This essay was the basis of the talk of the same name that I gave at the Wikimania 2015 conference. It is not an exact transcript. It is still a draft, which I'm publishing now in the interest of timeliness; I will continue to refine it over the next few weeks; you can help edit it. A French version is also available.

                  maternelle

                  This is a picture of me taken when I was 4, in nursery school, the French equivalent of Kindergarten.

                  I don't have many memories about that time, but my parents remember that, while I wasn't usually enthused about going to school during the week, I would often ask to go on Saturdays, because most of the other kids weren't there.

                  It wasn't that I didn't like them; it was because the school was much quieter than during weekdays, and I had all the toys to myself. I didn't have to interact with other children, or share the pencils, or the room. I could do whatever I wanted without worrying about the other kids.

                  I didn't know it at the time, but it would take me nearly 30 years to look back at this story and understand how it made complete sense.

                  Today

                  I'm now 32 years old, and a lot has changed. Two years ago, after some difficulties at work, my partner decided to share his suspicions that I might be on the autism spectrum. I knew little about it at the time, but it was a hypothesis that seemed to explain a lot, and seemed worth exploring.

                  Sure, the subject had come up before a few times, but it was always as a joke, an exaggeration of my behavior. I never thought I fitted that label. One problem is that autism is usually represented in a very uniform manner in popular culture. Movies like Rain Man feature autistic savants who, although they have extraordinary abilities, live in a completely different world, and sometimes aren't verbal. The autism spectrum is much more diverse than those stereotypical examples.

                  After I started researching the topic, and reading books on autism or autobiographies by autistic people, I realized how much of it applied to me.

                  It took a bit longer (and a few tests) to get a confirmation from experts, and when it came, many people still had doubts. The question that came up the most often was "But how was this never detected before?" Autism is generally noticed at a much younger age, and it seemed that for most of my life, I had managed to disguise myself as "neurotypical", meaning someone whose brain works similarly to most people.

                  The current prevailing hypothesis to explain this, based on an IQ test taken as part of the evaluation process, is that I am privileged to have higher-than-average intellectual capacities, which have allowed me to partly compensate for the different wiring of my brain. One way to illustrate this is to use a computer analogy: in a way, my CPU runs at a higher frequency, which has allowed me to emulate with software the hardware that I'm missing. What this also means is that it can be exhausting to run this software all the time, so sometimes I need to be by myself.

                  As you can imagine, realizing at 31 that you are on the autism spectrum changes your perception dramatically; everything suddenly starts to make sense. I've learned a lot over the past two years, and this increased metacognition has allowed me to look at past events through a new lens.

                  In this essay, I want to share with you some of what I've learned, and share my current understanding of how my brain works, notably through my experience as a Wikimedian.

                  One caveat I want to start with is that autism is a spectrum. There's a popular saying among online autistic communities that says: "You've met an autist, you've met one autist." Just keep this in mind: What I'm presenting here is based on my personal experience, and isn't going to apply equally to all autistic people.

                  Taipei_Wm2007_Guillaume

                  "Taipei Wm2007Guillaume.jpg", by Cary Bass, under CC-By-SA 3.0 Unported, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  The picture above was taken during Wikimania 2007 in Taipei. I was exploring the city with Cary Bass (User:Bastique) and a few other people. Looking back at this picture now, there are a few things I notice today:

                  • I'm wearing simple clothes, because I have absolutely no sense of fashion, and those are "safe" colors.
                  • I'm carrying two bags (a backpack and a photo bag), because I always want to be prepared for almost anything, so I carry a lot of stuff around.
                  • I'm sitting down to change a lens on my camera, because it's a more stable position to avoid dropping and breaking expensive gear. I've learned that this habit of using very stable positions is actually a mitigating strategy that I developed over the years without realizing it, to compensate for problems with balance and motor coordination.

                  Spock

                  A good analogy to help understand what it's like to be autistic in a neurotypical society is to look at Mr. Spock, in the Star Trek Original Series. The son of a Vulcan father and a human mother, Spock is technically half-human, but it is his Vulcan side that shows the most in its interactions with the crew of the Enterprise.

                  Leonard_Nimoy_William_Shatner_Star_Trek_1968


                  Spock and Kirk. "Leonard Nimoy William Shatner Star Trek 1968", by NBC Television, in the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  Some of the funniest moments of the show are his arguments with the irascible Dr. McCoy, who calls him an "unfeeling automaton" and "the most cold-blooded man [he's] ever known". To which Spock responds: "Why, thank you, Doctor." 1

                  As a Vulcan, Spock's life is ruled by logic. Although he does feel emotions, they are deeply repressed. His speech pattern is very detached, almost clinical. Because of his logical and utilitarian perspective, Spock often appears dismissive, cold-hearted, or just plain rude to his fellow shipmates.

                  In many ways, Spock's traits are similar to autism, and many autistic people identify with him. For example, in her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin, a renown autistic scientist and author, recounts how she related to Spock from a young age:

                  Many people with autism are fans of the television show Star Trek. [...] I strongly identified with the logical Mr. Spock, since I completely related to his way of thinking.

                  I vividly remember one old episode because it portrayed a conflict between logic and emotion in a manner I could understand. A monster was attempting to smash the shuttle craft with rocks. A crew member had been killed. Logical Mr. Spock wanted to take off and escape before the monster wrecked the craft. The other crew members refused to leave until they had retrieved the body of the dead crew member. [...]

                  I agreed with Spock, but I learned that emotions will often overpower logical thinking, even if these decisions prove hazardous. 2

                  In this example, and in many others, Spock's perception filter prevents him from understanding human decisions mainly driven by emotion. Those actions appear foolish or nonsensical, because Spock interprets them through his own lens of logic. He lacks the cultural background, social norms and unspoken assumptions unconsciously shared by humans.

                  The reverse is also true: Whenever humans are puzzled or annoyed by Spock, it is because they expect him to behave like a human; they are often confronted to a harsher truth than they would like. Humans interpret Spock's behavior through their own emotional perception filter. They often misunderstand his motives, assume malice and superimpose intents that change the meaning of his original words and actions.

                  Autism

                  You're probably familiar with the conceptual models of communication In many of those models, communication is represented as the transmission of a message between a sender and a receiver.

                  In a basic communication model, the sender formulates the message, and transmits it to the receiver, who interprets it. The receiver also provides some feedback.

                  In a basic communication model, the sender formulates the message, and transmits it to the receiver, who interprets it. The receiver also provides some feedback.

                  An oral discussion involves a lot more signals from non-verbal communication, like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

                  An oral discussion involves a lot more signals from nonverbal communication, like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

                  If you apply this model to an oral conversation, you quickly see all the opportunities for miscommunication: From what the sender means, to what they actually say, to what the receiver hears, to what they understand, information can change radically, especially when you consider nonverbal communication. It's like a 2-person variation of the telephone game. In the words of psychologist Tony Attwood:

                  Every day people make intuitive guesses regarding what someone may be thinking or feeling. Most of the time we are right but the system is not faultless. We are not perfect mind readers. Social interactions would be so much easier if typical people said exactly what they mean with no assumptions or ambiguity. 3

                  If this is the case for neurotypical people, meaning people with a "typical" brain, imagine how challenging it can be for autists like me. A great analogy is given in the movie The Imitation Game, inspired by the life of Alan Turing, who is portrayed in the film as being on the autism spectrum.

                  caption

                  Still from The Imitation Game. © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

                  Historical accuracy aside, one of my favorite moments in the movie is when a young Alan is talking to his friend Christopher about coded messages. Christopher explains cryptography as "messages that anyone can see, but no one knows what they mean, unless you have the key."

                  A very puzzled Alan replies:

                  How is that different from talking? [...] When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you're expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do.

                  Autistic people are characterized by many different traits, but one of the most prevalent is social blindness: We have trouble reading the emotions of others. We lack the "Theory of mind" used by neurotypical people to attribute mental states (like beliefs and intents) to others. We often take things literally because we're missing the subtext: it's difficult for us to read between the lines.

                  Liane Holliday Willey, an autistic author and speaker, once summarized it this way:

                  You wouldn’t need a Theory of Mind if everyone spoke their mind. 4

                  How are you?

                  Many languages have a common phrase to ask someone how they're doing, whether it's the French Comment ça va ?, the English How are you? or the German Wie geht's?

                  When I first moved to the US, every time someone asked me "How are you?", I would pause to consider the question. Now, I've learned that it's a greeting, not an actual question, and I've mostly automated the response to the expected "Great, how are you?". It only takes a few milliseconds to switch to that path and short-circuit the question-answering process. But if people deviate from that usual greeting, then that mental shortcut doesn't work any more.

                  A few weeks ago, someone in the Wikimedia Foundation office asked me "How is your world?", and I froze for a few seconds. In order to answer that question, my brain was reviewing everything that was happening in "my world" (and "my world" is big!), before I realized that I just needed to say "Great! Thanks!".

                  caption

                  "Small talk" by Randall Munroe, under CC-BY-NC 2.5, from xkcd.com.

                  Privilege and pointed ears

                  This is only one of the challenges faced by autistic people, and I would now like to talk about neurotypical privilege. I'm a cis white male, and I was raised in a loving middle-class family in an industrialized country. By many standards, I'm very privileged. But, despite my superpowers, being autistic in a predominantly neurotypical society does bring its lot of challenges.

                  The most common consequence I've noticed in my experience, and in accounts from other autistic people, is a feeling of profound isolation. The lack of Theory of mind and the constant risk of miscommunication make it difficult to build relationships. It's not anyone's fault in particular; it's due to a general lack of awareness.

                  caption

                  Wikimania 2014 welcome reception. "Wikimania 2014 welcome reception 02", by Chris McKenna, under CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, from Wikimedia Commons.

                  Imagine that you're talking to me face to face. You don't really know me, but I seem nice so you start making small talk. I'm not saying much, and you need to carry the discussion over those awkward silences. When I do speak, it's in a very monotone manner, like I don't really care. You try harder, and ask me questions, but I hesitate, I struggle to maintain eye contact, and I keep looking away, as if I'm making stuff up as I go.

                  Now this is what's happening from my perspective: I'm talking to someone I don't really know well, but you seem nice. I don't know what to talk about, so I keep quiet at first. Silences aren't a problem: I'm just happy to be in your company. I don't have very strong feelings about what we're talking about, so I'm speaking very calmly. You're asking me questions, and of course it takes a while to think about the correct answer. All this "eye contact" thing that I learned in school is taking a lot of mental resources that would be better used to compute the answer to your question, so I sometimes need to look away to better focus.

                  This illustrates one of many situations in which each person's perception filter caused a complete disconnect between how the situation was perceived on each side.

                  There are also many professional hurdles associated with being on the autism spectrum, and autists are more affected by unemployment than neurotypicals5. I'm privileged in that I've been able to find an environment in which I'm able to work, but many autists aren't so lucky. It's been well documented that people in higher-up positions aren't necessarily the best performers, but often people with the best social skills.

                  With that in mind, imagine what the career opportunities (or lack thereof) can be for someone who is a terrible liar, who has a lot of interest in doing great work, but less interest in taking credit for it, who doesn't understand office politics, who not only makes social missteps and angers their colleagues, but doesn't even know about it, someone who's unable to make small talk around the office. Imagine that person, and what kind of a career they can have even if they're very good at their job.

                  Casual relationships with colleagues and acquaintances are usually superficial; the stakes of the water cooler discussions are low, so people are more inclined to forgive missteps. However, friendship is another matter, and for most of my life, I have hardly had any friends, unless you use Facebook's definition of the term. Awkwardness is generally tolerated, but rarely sought after. It's not "cool".

                  Most of those issues arise because you don't have a way of knowing that the person in front of you is different. At least Spock had his pointed ears to signal that he wasn't human. His acceptance by the crew of the Enterprise was in large part due to the relationships he was able to develop with his shipmates. Those relationships would arguably not have been possible if they had not known how he was different.

                  Computer-mediated communication

                  Let me go back to that conceptual model of face-to-face communication. Now imagine how this model changes if you're communicating online, by email, on wiki, or on IRC. All those communication channels, that Wikimedians are all too familiar with, are based on text, and most of them are asynchronous. For many neurotypicals, these are frustrating modes of communication, because they're losing most of their usual nonverbal signals like tone, facial expressions, and body language.

                  In online discussions, most of the nonverbal communication disappears, leaving only words. This can frustrate neurotypicals, but is much closer to the native communication model of autistic people.

                  In online discussions, most of the nonverbal communication disappears, leaving only words. This can frustrate neurotypicals, but is much closer to the native communication model of autistic people.

                  However, this model of computer-mediated communication is much closer to the communication model of autists like me. There is no nonverbal communication to decrypt; less interaction and social anxiety; and usually, no unfamiliar environment either. There are much fewer signals, and those that remain are just words; their meaning still varies, but it's much more codified and reliable than nonverbal signals.

                  What there is online, instead, is plenty of time, time that we can use to collect our thoughts and formulate a carefully crafted answer. Whereas voice is synchronous and mostly irreversible, text can be edited, crafted, deleted, reworded, or rewritten until it's exactly what we want it to be; then we can send it. This is true of asynchronous channels like email and wikis, but it also extends to semi-synchronous tools like instant messaging or IRC.

                  It's not all rainbows and unicorns, though. For example, autists like me are still very much clueless about politics and reading between the lines. We tend to be radically honest, which doesn't fly very well, whether online or offline. Autists are also more susceptible to trolling, and may not always realize that the way people act online isn't the same as the way they act in the physical world. The internet medium tends to desensitize people, and autists might emulate behavior that isn't actually acceptable, regardless of the venue.

                  Autism in the Wikimedia community

                  Of course, one major example of wide-scale online communication is the Wikimedia movement. And at first glance, Wikimedia sites, and Wikipedia in particular, offer a platform where one can meticulously compile facts about their favorite obsession, or methodically fix the same grammatical error over and over, all of that with limited human interaction; if this sounds like a great place for autists (and a perfect honey trap) well, it is to some extent.

                  caption

                  The "Wikipedians with autism" category on the English Wikipedia.

                  For example, my first edit ten years ago was to fix a spelling error. My second edit was to fix a conjugation error. My third edit was to fix both a spelling and a conjugation error. That's how my journey as a Wikipedian started ten years ago.

                  Wikipedians are obsessed with citations, references, and verifiability; fact is king, and interpretation is taboo. As long as you stay in the main namespace, that is. As soon as you step out of article pages and venture into talk pages and village pumps, those high standards don't apply any more. There are plenty of unsourced, exaggerated and biased statements in Wikipedia discussions.

                  That's in addition to the problems I mentioned earlier. As an autist, it can be hard to let go of arguments about things or people you care about. It's often said that autistic people lack empathy, which basically makes us look like cold-hearted robots. However, there is a distinction between being able to read the feelings of other people, and feeling compassion for other people.

                  Neurotypical people have mirror neurons that make you feel what the person in front of you is feeling; autistic people have a lot fewer of those, which means they need to scrutinize your signals and try to understand what you're feeling. But they're still people with feelings.

                  If you're interested in learning more about autism in the Wikimedia community, there's a great essay on the English Wikipedia, which I highly recommend. One thing it does really well is avoiding the pathologization of autism, and instead insisting on neurodiversity, meaning autism as a difference, not a disease.

                  Conclusion

                  Steve Silberman, who wrote a book on the history of autism, presented it this way:

                  One way to understand neurodiversity is to think in terms of human operating systems: Just because a PC is not running Windows doesn't mean that it's broken.

                  By autistic standards, the normal human brain is easily distractible, obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail. 6

                  But still, neurodiversity has a cost. Sometimes, you'll be offended; sometimes, you'll be frustrated; and sometimes, you'll think "Wow, I would never have thought of that in a million years".

                  As I mentioned earlier, I believe Spock was only able to build those relationships over time because people were aware of his difference, and learned to understand and embrace it. Spock also learned a lot from humans along the way.

                  My goal here was to raise awareness of this difference that exists in our community, and encourage us to discuss our differences more openly, and to improve our understanding of each other.

                  There is a lot I didn't get into in this essay, and I might expand on specific points later. In the meantime, I'm available if you're interested in continuing this discussion, and you should feel free to reach out to me, whether in person or online.

                  Live long and prosper. \\///

                  caption

                  "ISS-42 Samantha Cristoforetti Leonard Nimoy tribute", by NASA, in the Public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.


                  1. from Court Martial (Star Trek: The Original Series)
                  2. Temple Grandin. Thinking in Pictures. p.152.
                  3. Tony Attwood. The complete guide to Asperger's syndrome. p.126.
                  4. Liane Holliday Willey, in The complete guide to Asperger's syndrome. Tony Attwood, p.126
                  5. Maanvi Singh. Young Adults With Autism More Likely To Be Unemployed, Isolated. NPR.
                  6. Steve Silberman. The forgotten history of autism. TED 2015.

                  by Guillaume Paumier at July 29, 2015 05:14 PM

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  News on Wikipedia: New exoplanet discovered, Tour de France concludes, and more

                  New on Wikipedia lead image for the week of July 27th.jpg

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

                  Kepler-452b unearthed

                  Kepler-452b artist concept.jpg
                  An artist’s impression of the newly-discovered planet. Image by NASA, in the public domain.

                  On Wednesday (July 23), NASA announced the discovery of Kepler-452b, an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting Kepler-452. The discovery, made by the Kepler space telescope, is 1,400 light-years from our solar system—so at the speed of the New Horizons probe (37,000 mph/60,000 km/h), it would take 26 million years to reach. It is the sixth-most Earth-like exoplanet known to date, and the first potentially rocky (that is, not gaseous) superplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of its sun.

                  Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Kepler-452b

                  Controversy over Burundi election

                  Pierre Nkurunziza 2014 press conference (cropped).jpg
                  Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term as President of Burundi in an election some claim was illegitimate. Image by the US Department of State, in the public domain.

                  In last week’s Burundian presidential election, held last Tuesday (July 21), Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term as the President of Burundi. The election was unusual in that all but one of Nkurunziza’s opponents withdrew from the ballot following the announcement that he would be nominated by his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy. US President Barack Obama, speaking to the African Union in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (July 28), criticised Nkurunziza’s refusal to step down following the end of his term.

                  Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Burundian presidential election, 2015

                  Froome claims Tour de France

                  Tour de France 2015, groep gele trui (20036329866) (cropped).jpg
                  Chris Froome won his second Tour de France this week. Image by Filip Bossuyt, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

                  British cyclist Chris Froome won this year’s Tour de France on Sunday (July 26). He wore the yellow jersey, which signifies the race leader, from Stage 7 (July 10) onwards, and successfully defended his overall lead all the way through Stage 21 on July 26. He also won the mountains classification. The young rider classification went to the Colombian rider Nairo Quintana, who finished second overall; the points classification and “green jersey” was won by Slovak Peter Sagan. Movistar Team won the team classification.

                  Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Tour de France, Chris Froome

                  American dentist kills Zimbabwe’s “Cecil”

                  Lion-hwange.jpg
                  There are a number of lions at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Image by Flickr user Laura (cardamom), freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

                  Zimbabwean officials say a dentist from Bloomington, Minnesota, killed an iconic lion in Zimbabwe‘s Hwange National Park this month. The lion, named “Cecil“, was a star attraction at the game reserve, and his death sparked a backlash against its apparent hunter. Cecil was lured outside the park and wounded with a crossbow before being shot, beheaded, and skinned two days later. It is thought that the hunter paid around $50,000 in bribes to be able to access Cecil.

                  Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Hwange National Park, Cecil (lion)

                  Windows 10 launches

                  Satya Nadella.jpg
                  Windows 10 is the first new operating system released under CEO Satya Nadella. Image by Leweb Photos, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

                  American computing giant Microsoft‘s newest operating system, Windows 10, officially launched to the public on Wednesday (July 29). It is the first operating system released under the reign of company CEO Satya Nadella, and aims to unify Microsoft’s operating systems already in use on its Windows Phone and Xbox One devices. It follows their previous flagship operating system, Windows 8, and will be available on both desktop and mobile under the same name.

                  Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Windows 10


                  Photo montage credits: “Lion-hwange.jpg” by Flickr user Laura (cardamom), CC-BY 2.0; “Pierre Nkurunziza 2014 press conference (cropped).jpg” by the US Department of State, in the public domain; “Tour de France 2015, groep gele trui (20036329866) (cropped).jpg” by Filip Bossuyt, CC-BY 2.0; “Kepler-452b artist concept.jpg” by NASA, in the public domain; “Satya_Nadella.jpg” by Leweb Photos, CC-BY 2.0; Collage by Andrew Sherman

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

                  Joe Sutherland
                  Communications InternWikimedia Foundation

                  by Joe Sutherland at July 29, 2015 03:50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  July 28, 2015

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Wiki Ed Dashboard launches course management features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  July 27, 2015

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Welcome Andrew Lih, first Summer Research Fellow

                   

                  Andrew Lih
                  Andrew Lih

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

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

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

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

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

                  LiAnna Davis
                  Director of Program Support


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

                   

                   

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

                  Wikimedia UK

                  Wikimedia UK’s members elect new trustees

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

                  Hustings at Saturday’s AGM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  With these changes, the new board is as follows:

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

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

                  Please join me in welcoming the new board.

                  Michael Maggs

                  Chair, Wikimedia UK

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

                  Tech News

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

                  This document has a planned publication deadline (link leads to timeanddate.com).
                  TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2015, week 31 (Monday 27 July 2015) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
                  Other languages:
                  čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎Ripoarisch • ‎português • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎中文

                  July 27, 2015 12:00 AM

                  July 26, 2015

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikidata - Sydney Hollander award

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

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

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

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

                  July 25, 2015

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #SignWriting #Symposium - including #Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

                  July 24, 2015

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  “One small step…”

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

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

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

                  Robert Fernandez
                  Signpost editor-in-chief
                  English Wikipedia editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Tomasz W. Kozlowski
                  Wikimedia community volunteer

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

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Year of Science initiative focuses on science communication, literacy

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

                  User:Ziko

                  Inspirations from Wikimania 2015

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

                  Thanks for all the ideas and support!


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

                  July 23, 2015

                  Brion Vibber

                  WebGL performance tricks on MS IE and Edge

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

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

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

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

                  ogvjs-win10-faster

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

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

                  by brion at July 23, 2015 06:49 PM

                  Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing)

                  United Kingdom parliamentary URL structure: change needed

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

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

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

                  by adding the prefixes:

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

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


                  HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT DSC 7057 pano 2

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

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

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

                  However, the respective URLs are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  I find these arguments unconvincing, to say the least.


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

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

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

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

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

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikimedia - #portal to all #knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

                  Joseph Reagle

                  The skew of rotten-apple jerks

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

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

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

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

                  Luis Villa

                  Wikimania 2015 – random thoughts and observations

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

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

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

                  July 22, 2015

                  Wiki Education Foundation

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

                   

                  Frank Schulenburg
                  Frank Schulenburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Frank Schulenburg
                  Executive Director


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

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

                  Wikimedia Foundation

                  Tec de Monterrey students complete two major video projects

                  File:Tec-de-monterrey-student-activities-in-wikimedia.webm

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

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

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

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

                  File:Como subir multimedia a Wikimedia Commons.webm

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

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

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

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

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

                  Day3WikimanaLinares022.JPG
                  Participants in the project after its premiere at Wikimania 2015. Photo by AlejandroLinaresGarcia, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

                  The participants in these projects and their roles are:

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


                  Leigh Thelmadatter
                  Wiki Learning
                  Tec de Monterrey

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

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Looking back at the 2015 spring term

                  Helaine Blumenthal
                  Helaine Blumenthal

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

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

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

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

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

                  The percentage of students who have completed the online training.

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

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

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

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

                  Helaine Blumenthal
                  Classroom Program Manager

                   

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

                  User:Bluerasberry

                  Cochrane Collaboration and Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

                  by bluerasberry at July 22, 2015 02:41 PM

                  July 21, 2015

                  Wikimedia Tech Blog

                  Wikidata, coming soon to a menu near you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  John Andersson
                  Project Manager
                  Wikimedia Sverige

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

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Student editors contributed 2.5 million words to Wikipedia this term

                   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   


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

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

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

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

                  Sue Gardner
                  Sue Gardner

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

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

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

                  For more information, see our press release.

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

                  User:Bluerasberry

                  Visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica

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

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

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

                  by bluerasberry at July 21, 2015 01:55 PM

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikidata - what William O. Douglas Award?

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

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

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

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

                  July 20, 2015

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  The Roundup: Environmental history

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

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

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

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

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


                   

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

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

                  Wikimedia UK

                  Is Wikipedia Relevant to University Web Managers?

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

                  Areas Apparently Not Being Addressed By Web Managers

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

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

                  Wikimedia Workshop for University Web and Communication Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Developing an Ethical Approach to Managing Wikipedia Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  Might universities find it useful to embrace similar principles?

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

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

                  Wiki Education Foundation

                  Wiki Education Foundation 2015–16 Annual Plan Released

                  Frank Schulenburg
                  Frank Schulenburg

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

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

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

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

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

                  Frank Schulenburg
                  Executive Director

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

                  Gerard Meijssen

                  #Wikidata - Inge Genefke, and #torture

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

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

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

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

                  Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies

                  Outernet edit-a-thon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                   

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

                  Tech News

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

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