July 25, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Sweden loses case as court rules against free access to public art online

Photo by Kham Tran, CC BY-SA 3.0.

On 6 July 2017, Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige) lost a case on the freedom of panorama in the Swedish Patent and Market Court.

In 2016, clarifying what had been an ambiguous Swedish law about the right to photograph public artwork, the Supreme Court of Sweden ruled that works freely displayed in public could be photographed but, irrationally (in our view), could not be shared online. Following that ruling, the case in question, a dispute between Bildkonst Upphovsrätt i Sverige (BUS), a Swedish association that represents artists in copyright matters, and Offentlig Konst i Sverige, a Swedish website run by Wikimedia Sweden showing images and information about public monuments, was sent to the Swedish Patent and Market Court. That court has now issued a ruling against Wikimedia Sweden, a decision based on last year’s unfortunate Supreme Court decision.

The decision is a blow to the Wikimedia movement’s mission to make knowledge and art available to people around the world. Ironically, although photographs of publicly displayed (and often, publicly funded) art cannot be shared online without the artist’s permission, such photographs may be freely commercialized and distributed when in physical print.

“The outcome is a tragedy, because it renders public art less accessible and less public. Our intention has always been to give public art the kind of visibility it deserves. It is remarkable how, in a digital age, sharing photos in digital media is not OK if there is a work of public art visible in that photo,” says John Andersson, Executive Director of Wikimedia Sweden.

While the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sweden will continue to advocate for the free expression of contributors to the Wikimedia projects and, more generally, for free and worldwide access to knowledge, Wikimedia Sweden has determined that pursuing a further appeal does not make sense at this point. Therefore, this marks the end of the case. The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sweden will continue to pursue public education about freedom of panorama and Wikimedia Sweden is urging the Swedish legislature to improve the law to allow digital sharing that matches the expectations of the majority of the public.

This ruling may have broad consequences across many scenarios, affecting the taking of photographs in public spaces, above and beyond the immediate application to three pictures on a not-for-profit Wikimedia Sweden website. For example, based on this ruling, local residents or tourists who take selfies, or who seek to photograph the scenery to share with friends and family, may accidentally invoke copyright protections while sharing their photos on social media. That’s one of the major risks associated with what could become a dangerous precedent from Sweden’s Supreme Court and the Patent and Market Court. The works of art at issue are publicly visible and purposely not restricted from general public view; they are not inside of a gallery. So we find it all the more troubling that the mere act of sharing a photo depicting a public place can be deemed to be copyright infringement.

“Copyright is complex and largely incomprehensible,” Andersson says. “This ruling asserts that there is a difference in terms of user rights between digital and print media as photos of these works of art can for example be printed as postcards and used for commercial purposes. Digital non-profit projects like the websites Offentligkonst.se and Wikipedia, however, must pay for using the very same photos. In a society looking to fully enter a digital era, it is unreasonable to undermine the use of digital media in this way. The legislation clearly must be revised.”

Furthermore, when art is made available to the public, either by virtue of public funding, distribution through freely licensed photographs (as was the case with the photos in this lawsuit), or by intentional placement in full view of the public, then access to that art should not be subject to arbitrary restrictions. Restrictions such as this reduce public access to art, which in turn harms local culture, artists, and creativity across the globe.

Wikimedia Sweden is seeking donations to pay the cost of legal fees and fines it has incurred or that were imposed by the court (amounting to about $89,000 US) while it defended against this aggressive copyright scheme.

“We’re hoping to find support through a crowdfunding campaign to cover costs and to advocate for changes to relevant Swedish and international legislation,” Andersson says. “If you think the court ruling is unreasonable you’re welcome to make a donation. Supporters can either use Swedish payment app Swish at 1232692697 or visit https://wikimedia.se/en/donera to donate. Simply add “BUS” in the comment section and all funds will be put towards this cause.”

Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

Special thanks to Richard Lenemark and his firm, Advokatfirman Delphi, for legal assistance on this case, along with Wikimedia legal fellow Alex Shahrestani for his assistance in preparing this blog.

by Jacob Rogers at July 25, 2017 11:35 PM

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 375,000 windows on art history, and that’s just the beginning

The Annunciation, painting by Petrus Christus, CC0. One of 375,000 images donated to Wikimedia Commons by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Open Access Policy initiative. One of the articles translated by the winner of the Met Open Access Artworks Challenge.

Six months ago, I started my work as a Wikimedian-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With the launch of the Met Open Access initiative and policy in February 2017, we started with a simple yet audacious goal: to upload 375,000 images of public domain artworks onto Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, and integrate them into the Wikimedia universe and communities.

I’m reminded of this immense scope every day: when I walk through the museum’s galleries, which hold 5,000 years of art history, and in taking an elevator that sits between adjoining halls devoted to Ancient Rome and Oceania. All of these historical public domain artworks, the great majority of this encyclopedic museum, are part of our project.

As a lifelong New Yorker who had the pleasure and mind-expanding experience of growing up with this museum, and has been fascinated since the early GLAM days of 2009 by the possibility of sharing it on Wikimedia Commons, the opening up of this collection (and the opportunity to be a part of the process) has meant a lot to me.

As time has gone on this year, and as over 300,000 are now uploaded, I can appreciate better the scale and complexity of both that original goal and especially the necessary bridge-building that goes beyond it.

For example, there is no standard way to upload such large image batches to Commons. After going through several options, each valuable but imperfect in their own way, the tool I chose for the task was GWToolset, which is able to relatively easily convert the CSV metadata of the Met Open Access release, providing relevant categories and descriptions for fields on the Information template on Commons. At the same time, we sought to expand the range of Met artworks available with distinct Wikidata items, adding and importing data for all of the collection highlights from the museum website, including the non-paintings and three-dimensional works that were often missing. All of this was immensely assisted by supporters from WikiProject Sum of All Paintings, which has been active in creating Wikidata items for paintings in particular from all museums, and is now helping us with the Met project in all artwork genres.

On the Wikipedia side, we have renewed and developed WikiProject Met for the museum, set out a census of existing artwork articles (many of which were uncategorized or unassociated with the WikiProject), and began chronicling a spontaneous burst of new articles inspired by the first image uploads in February.

The author in the middle with George Sferra, MET Associate Collections Manager, to his left; and Donald La Rocca, Curator, Department of Arms and Armor, to his right. Photo by Nealstimler, CC0.

I’ve found that a Wikimedia-compatible high-quality image is a powerful spur to start or improve an article on an artwork, making the writer’s text more meaningful and appreciated. We worked with curators to help select artwork articles, including with the Department of Arms and Armor to start Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I, which is one of only a handful of articles on historical suits of armor. This had some interest as an underdeveloped genre of works on Wikipedia, and connected also to a number of new articles written within the scope of WikiProject Fashion.

In addition to the spontaneous efforts prompted by the availability of new images, we also encouraged editors to contribute in structured ways. At the museum itself, an edit-a-thon was hosted by the Thomas J. Watson Library, a pioneer of Wikimedia projects at the Met predating the Open Access initiative, and participants at the event benefited greatly from the librarian expertise present.

Participants at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Edit-a-thon. Photo by Jim.henderson, CC BY-SA 4.0.

A strength of the edit-a-thon and the Wikimedia projects at the Met generally has been the ability to bring together interdisciplinary collaboration, with the museum’s Digital, Education, and Libraries departments all contributing in true encyclopedic fashion. One highlight result from the Thomas J. Watson Library edit-a-thon was Hiawatha and Minehaha, a pair of busts by Edmonia Lewis, the article developed by artist Heather Hart of the Black Lunch Table project. You can read a Met librarian’s account of the edit-a-thon at a blog post in the Met Libraries’ In Circulation by William Blueher.

And at the same time globally, the Met Open Access Artworks Challenge was held online, encouraging contributions on Commons, Wikidata, and Wikipedia in multiple languages, and modeled on the UNESCO Challege. In a dozen languages from Albanian to Ukrainian, articles were translated or written afresh, and even more languages had images added to illustrate their subjects. The first-place winner, Marisa Lobato Roig, completed many translations to Spanish and other languages, including that of an Annunciation by Petrus Christus. Also online, a specialized edit-a-thon was held with WikiProject Women in Red focusing on works by women artists in the museum’s collection, including a number of entirely new articles such as Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes.

To facilitate the museum’s edit-a-thon and the global challenge, we sought to develop new Wikidata-based tools to help with the creation of new draft articles. The Mbabel (“Museum of Babel”) template was developed to auto-generate a basic draft article and infobox for any artworks at the Met or elsewhere, which would then be further developed before publication. This Wikidata functionality for the artwork infobox is now in the process of being improved and universalized on English Wikipedia with a prototype by Mike Peel.

For the next six months, we look forward to deepening and regularizing community and museum relationships, engaging with more online and offline campaigns, further technological tools and collaborations, and generally forward the multi-form goal of working to “Wiki-fy the Met, and Met-ify the Wiki”.

Richard Knipel, Wikimedian-in-Residence
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

by Richard Knipel at July 25, 2017 04:56 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Exploring automatic suggestions

One of the projects I’m excited about is an experiment with providing automatic suggestions to student editors about how to get started with improving their assigned Wikipedia articles. We want the dashboard to highlight specific improvements that student editors can make to their assigned articles, such as adding additional sources, including an image.

I’ve been mentoring a new contributor to the Dashboard codebase, Keerthana S, to build out a beta version of this feature, and we’re currently testing it out with a few of our summer courses. Our hope is that this feature will help Wikipedia newcomers get started more quickly, focus their efforts on the most impactful improvements. and ultimately spend more time on the substance of their topic, and less time mastering Wikipedia-specific conventions and style issues.

Keerthana, a sophomore Engineering Physics student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, is spending the summer working on the Wiki Education Dashboard as a Google Summer of Code intern. So far, she’s built a way to display article suggestions to students, based on the current state of each of their assigned articles. It provides basic suggestions based on Wikimedia Foundation’s artificial intelligence article scoring platform, ORES. The early suggestions are very rudimentary, focused on easily detectable problems like when an article lacks references or ought to be broken up into sections. Now that the framework is in place, Keerthana will be working on making the suggestions smarter, more diverse, and more nuanced.

We’d love feedback from users at this point: what kinds of suggestions will be most useful to students? What patterns in student work could we detect? What problems could this feature head off? You can browse any current or previous courses, go to the Articles tab, and then look at the ‘Assigned Articles’ section to see the suggestions. (For example, this summer course about ancient Rome.) There’s a form to submit your feedback right from there, and any ideas you have will be helpful — especially for any classes you’ve participated in and the articles your class worked on.

Keerthana is also planning to add the ability for instructors and other students to provide their own suggestions from within the Dashboard on how to improve specific articles.

If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty details of Keerthana’s project, you can follow her blog, where she keeps a weekly journal of her work and what she’s learning.

by Sage Ross at July 25, 2017 04:49 PM

Wikidata (WMDE - English)

Data Partnerships with Wikidata: beaTunes

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar.

Wikidata data partnerships happen in many ways. While data donations are a way for institutions, organisations or individuals to contribute content to the free knowledge-base, re-use of data in applications is just as interesting as it contributes to the eco system of Free Knowledge and thus gives more people more access to more knowledge.

beaTunes is an application for the Mac that lets you build playlists for your music collection. It uses Wikidata in various ways to enrich the application.

The free license for Wikidata allows commercial re-use as well.  We talked with Hendrik Schreiber of beaTunes about how to use Wikidata in a commercial software product.

Can you introduce yourself?

Hendrik Schreiber Foto: Pascal Nordmann CC BY-SA 4.0

I’m an independent software developer with almost 20 years of professional experience. I live and work in Cologne and my main interest is Music Information Retrieval (MIR).

What is beaTunes? How does it work and what problems does it solve?

I started coding beaTunes more than ten years ago as a just-for-fun-project. At the time I had spent multiple years working as a contractor and felt a little burned out from the daily grind. I just wanted to create something fun. So the idea of a smart music library management and audio analysis tool was born. The first version was in English only and would run exclusively on OS X. The language of choice was Java. Back then I still believed Steve Job’s famous promise that the Mac will be the best Java platform ever. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Over the years, beaTunes became more than just a hobby and is now my main occupation.

So what is beaTunes good for?

It can help fix textual metadata (artist, album, title, etc.) using consistency checks and a reference database. That database is powered by a mixture of user submissions and data from third parties like MusicBrainz and Discogs (both MusicBrainz and Discogs ids can be found in Wikidata). But textual metadata is only half the story. Other important musical features are tonal key, tempo (BPM), timbre, loudness, etc. These are properties that beaTunes can extract straight from the audio signal. They come in handy when you want to build playlists of similar sounding songs. And that’s essentially the third main functionality: using comprehensive metadata to create great playlists.

This means that beaTunes appeals to a quite diverse group of users. Of course they all love music. But some really just want to fix their metadata, others need a good key and tempo detection for their next DJ gig, because they use beatmatching and harmonic mixing. And yet another group likes to work out to music and wants to find tracks that match their running or cycling pace.

What kind of problems does Wikidata solve for you? How did you discover Wikidata?

beaTunes uses Wikidata in multiple ways.

When a user manually edits song metadata, alternative spellings and additional data is fetched from different sources. beaTunes essentially acts like a smart spellchecker specialized on music metadata. Wikidata is one of the reference sources. The fact that Wikidata is searchable via MusicBrainz and Discogs ids makes this very straight forward and easy. Because Wikidata makes it so easy to access DBpedia or Wikipedia data, it is also used when looking up additional a information on albums, TV shows or movies—beaTunes simply displays the first couple of sentences of the corresponding Wikipedia article. The fact that information on Wikidata is typed is very helpful here and helps with disambiguation.

Besides using plain textual data from the Wiki universe, beaTunes also exploits relationships. It can use Wikidata to look up similar artists, by searching for artists from a region, producing music in a certain genre and having been active during a particular time. Additional information like band membership, influencers etc. can also be taken into account. For the final ranking of artists found this way, beaTunes uses a simple machine learning approach.

Last but not least: beaTunes uses Wikidata to answer questions about genre relationships. Because of the subgenre relationship between Wikidata genres, it is easy to reason that Hard Rock is a subgenre of Rock, but Calypso is not. And genre relationships are what helped me discover Wikidata. I was trying to learn genre relationship graphs from another database and needed an “objective” reference graph. In my evaluation I used both Wikidata and DBpedia (see http://www.tagtraum.com/learned_ontologies.html). Wikidata’s clear structure was very appealing to me.

Are you happy with the API, the data we provide, the documentation? Do you have a request for a feature or an improvement we could work on?

I would love to see more semantic data about music. E.g. all Beatles songs are completely annotated with key, chords, tempo, etc. (see http://isophonics.net/content/reference-annotations-beatles) The data exists, it’s just not reachable from Wikidata yet.

Free knowledge and commercial products — it’s not a contradiction, but not what many people may have in mind. How does working with material under a free license work for you? How can both sides benefit from each other?

First of all I’m extremely grateful for all the free data out there. And not just Wikidata, but also projects like MusicBrainz and AcousticBrainz. They are amazing treasure troves of knowledge waiting to be used. And that’s the thing—without someone who actually uses the data, it’s worthless. So the more interesting applications we have out there, the more attention we get, the better the knowledge eco-system works. Publicity, be it from commercial or free products, is important for free data to succeed.

By the way, using free data in your product can benefit the knowledge base. I have just released a little plugin for beaTunes that makes it extremely easy for users to contribute to AcousticBrainz (see http://blog.beatunes.com/2017/06/acousticbrainz-plugin-available-now.html). And for Wikidata, beaTunes has this “Open in…” function, that lets you open a Wikidata page for the selected song/artist. If someone wants to contribute, that’s a perfect starting point. So the data does not only flow in one direction. Even a commercial application like beaTunes can contribute to building open knowledge databases.

by Jens Ohlig at July 25, 2017 02:08 PM

Josephine Lim

Commons app – our plans for the next 6 months

We are excited to announce our (tentative) plans for the Wikimedia Commons app for the next 6 months! 🙂

A little background: The Wikimedia Commons app was funded via an Individual Engagement Grant (IEG) last year. Several new features and improvements were made to the app over the course of the previous grant. Examples include a list and map of nearby places that need photos (based on Wikidata), category suggestions based on the image title, prevention of duplicate uploads, and a new tutorial to educate new users on what types of photos should or should not be uploaded. 20554 new files were uploaded via the app during the grant period with an overall deletion rate of 15.74% (11.7% in the final two weeks after the new tutorial was implemented), and 3485 images that were uploaded via the app were used in Wikimedia articles.

While we are very happy with the progress made, users have requested many other improvements that we would like to make but were not able to fit into the scope of the previous grant. Thus we are proposing a renewal of the IEG in order to work on these. Highlights of the proposed improvements include:

Mock-up of the planned new UI
  • Enhancing the “Nearby places that need photos” feature by (1) allowing users to upload their image directly from a location on the list or map, with suggested title and categories based on the associated Wikidata item, and (2) displaying the user’s real-time position on the map to allow easier navigation to the location they wish to photograph
  • Improving user education by displaying Commons account and user talk notifications (e.g. picture nominated for deletion) in the app, adding a gallery of featured images, and adding various notices and explanations in the upload screen
  • A sleeker, more intuitive, and more interactive user interface – a floating action button for uploads, “Nearby places that need photos” in a tab alongside the user’s contributions, and a panel to display Commons account notifications and information about the nearest place that needs photos
  • Various technical and quality-of-life improvements, such as two-factor authentication login, multiple uploads, preventing overwrites, and fixing memory leaks and battery drain issues


We would very much appreciate feedback and suggestions on the renewal proposal. Please do take a look at it, feel free to ask questions and make new suggestions on the Discussion page, and/or endorse the proposal if you see fit. If you would like to be part of the project, new volunteers and additions to our diverse team are always welcome – please visit our GitHub repository or Google groups forum and say “Hi”. 🙂

by misaochan at July 25, 2017 08:49 AM

Wikimedia Scoring Platform Team

Announcing the Scoring Platform team

The Wikimedia Foundation’s new Scoring Platform team, led by Aaron Halfaker, will be working on democratizing access to AI, developing new types of AI predictions, and pushing the state of the art with regards to ethical practice of AI development.

Illustration by Mun May Tee-Galloway, CC BY-SA 4.0.

On January 12, 2015, an editor by the name of Blank123456789 noted that “LLAMAS GROW ON TREES” in the article about Dog intelligence. Within a second, the edit was flagged by an algorithm as potentially problematic.

Another Wikipedia editor named IronGargoyle saw this flagged edit in an advance curation tool called Huggle. With a glance, he was able to identify the edit as problematic and strike it down. This whole interaction took a matter of seconds. A vandal vandalizes, and a patroller supported by advanced vandalism detection artificial intelligences (AIs) sees the problem and corrects it.

AIs make the work of maintaining massive encyclopedias, dictionaries, databases, and more much easier by making a lot of large scale tasks (like counter-vandalism and article quality assessment) much easier and quicker to spot and handle. Historically, the AIs that have helped Wikipedians were built and maintained by volunteers. While these systems filled a critical infrastructural role, they were generally only available for the English Wikipedia and did not scale well.

Over the past few years, I have been working alongside a large group of volunteers on a core technology that makes basic AI support for wiki-work much more accessible to non-AI specialist developers. Named “ORES,” it is an artificial intelligence service that makes predictions about which edits are vandalism, which new page creations are problematic, and which articles are ready to be nominated for Featured status. (See our past posts about how it works and measuring content gaps with ORES)

Without a doubt, the project has been a breakaway success. The beta feature has 26,000 active users and over 20 third party tools, is actively running in production, and has received positive write-ups in Wired, MIT Tech Review, and the BBC. As a result, we’ve become a leader in conversations around detecting and mitigating biases, and have built collaborations with researchers at UC-Berkeley, UMN, CMU, Télécom Bretagne, and Northwestern.

Meet the Scoring Platform team

Photo by Myleen Hollero/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The new Scoring Platform team is led by Aaron Halfaker, a principal research scientist who authored a series of studies into Wikipedia’s newcomer decline and designed Snuggle, a newcomer socialization support tool. ORES is the next item on Dr. Halfaker’s research agenda. He hypothesizes that by enabling a broader set of people to build powerful, AI-driven wiki tools, some of Wikipedia’s fundamental socio-technical problems may become much easier to solve.

Photo.jpg) by Mardetanha, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Amir Sarabadani will be continuing his work as a quasi-volunteer and contractor for our peer organization, Wikimedia Germany. Amir has developed several bots and bot-building utilities that are used to maintain content in Wikipedia and Wikidata. Amir has been a core contributor since the early days of the volunteer-driven “Revision Scoring as a Service” project, and is the primary author of our insanely popular Beta feature—the ORES Review Tool.

Photo by Adam Wight, CC BY-SA 3.0.

As of this month, the team is welcoming their first full-time, budgeted engineer, Adam Wight. He has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation’s fundraising team since 2012, volunteered for ORES and the Education Program. Outside of computers, he’s done a few eclectic things like helping to start “The Local” food co-op and People’s University, an open-air school on subjects ranging from philosophy to the history of adventure playgrounds and practical blacksmithing. Adam is currently working out the details of an auditing system that will allow humans to more effectively critique ORES’ predictions.

Where we plan to go next

In the next year, the Scoring Platform team to work in three new directions:

  • Democratizing access to AI. We’ll increase the availability of advanced AIs to more wiki communities. Small, but growing communities need AI support the most, so we’ll be targeting these emerging communities to make sure they are well supported.
  • Developing new types of AI predictions. The team is currently experimenting with new types of AIs for supporting different types of Wikipedians’ work. We’re collaborating with external researchers to develop prediction models.
  • Pushing the state of the art with regards to ethical practice of AI development. AIs can be scary in all sorts of ways. They can perpetuate biases in hidden ways, silence the voices of those who don’t conform, and simply operate at speeds and scales far exceeding mere humans. We’re building a human-driven auditing system for ORES’ predictions so that human contributors will have a new and powerful way to keep ORES in check.

Until now, ORES was primarily a volunteer-driven project. With minimal financial support, a ragtag team was able to build a production-level service that supports 29 languages and 35 different Wikimedia project wikis. The ORES Review Tool (a simple tool for helping with counter-vandalism work) has been a breakaway success, with over 26k editors installing the beta feature before it was enabled by default.

How to learn more and get involved

The Scoring Platform team welcomes collaboration and volunteers to get involved with the project. See the team’s page and our technical blog for more information about how to get involved. See ORES’ documentation for more information about using the service or getting support for your wiki. Or join the larger community of people interested in applying AI to make wikis work better via our mailing list and IRC channel (#wikimedia-ai on freenode).

by Halfak (Aaron Halfaker, EpochFail, halfak) at July 25, 2017 02:10 AM

July 24, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, April 2017

Chilling effects: The impact of surveillance awareness on Wikipedia pageviews

A paper in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal[1] finds that the traffic to privacy-sensitive articles on the English Wikipedia dropped significantly around June 2013, when the existence of the US government’s PRISM online surveillance program was first revealed based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. As stated by the author, Jon Penney, the study “is among the first to evidence—using either Wikipedia data or web traffic data more generally—how government surveillance and similar actions may impact online activities, including access to information and knowledge online.” It received wide media attention upon its release, as already reported last year in the Signpost.

The paper is part of a growing body of literature that studies the effect of external events on Wikipedia pageviews (for another example, see our previous issue: “How does unemployment affect reading and editing Wikipedia ? The impact of the Great Recession“). The 66-page paper stands out for its methodological diligence, devoting much space to explaining and justifying its data selection and statistical approach, and to checking the robustness of the results. The framework was adapted from an earlier MIT study that had similarly examined the effect of the Snowden revelations on Google search traffic for sensitive terms, finding a statistically significant reduction of 5%. The author emphasizes the higher quality of the Wikipedia data: “unlike Google Trends, the Wikimedia Foundation provides a wealth of data on key elements of its site, including article traffic data, which can provide a more accurate picture as to any impact or chilling effects identified.”

To generate a list of Wikipedia articles that could be considered privacy sensitive in the context of US government surveillance, the author used a (publicly available) set of terms that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specifies as related to terrorism. The corresponding Wikipedia articles (48 altogether) include dirty bomb, suicide attack, nuclear enrichment (a redirect) and eco-terrorism. To verify the assumption that these topics are indeed considered as privacy sensitive by Internet users, a survey among 415 Mechanical Turk users asked them to rate each, e.g. on whether they would be likely to delete their browser history after accessing information about it.

To examine the impact on traffic, the paper uses the time series of monthly pageviews for the 48 articles (81 million views altogether, from January 2012 to August 2014). It is divided into the periods before and after the June 2013 “exogeneous shock”. As a first finding, the author notes that the average monthly views in the “after” period are lower – but points out that such considerations (which e.g. form part of the difference in differences approach in the paper on unemployment mentioned above) are too simplistic to show an actual effect, e.g. because this could merely be caused by an overall declining traffic trend. (Although not stated directly in the paper, this is indeed the case, as the study is only based on desktop pageviews, which have been gradually replaced by mobile views in recent years. The Wikimedia Foundation makes combined mobile/desktop pageview datasets available going back to 2015.)

The author then turns to a more sophisticated statistical method known as interrupted time series analysis (ITS). It involves a “segmented regression analysis”: linear trend lines are calculated separately for the timespans before and after June 2013, providing information both on the slope (growth/decrease rate) within each and on the size of the mismatch (if any) where the two segments intersect. This method indicates “an immediate drop-off of over 30% of overall views” following the June 2013 revelations. To further exclude the possibility that the results for these terrorism-related articles “may simply reflect overall Wikipedia article view traffic trends”, an analogous ITS analysis is conducted for the pageviews to all Wikipedia articles.

The author points out the importance of the results for the Wikimedia Foundation’s current lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the NSA surveillance of Internet traffic.

See also our review of a recent qualitative study that examined the privacy concerns of editors: “Privacy, anonymity, and perceived risk in open collaboration: a study of Tor users and Wikipedians”


Conferences and events

See the research events page on Meta-wiki for upcoming conferences and events, including submission deadlines.

The Komodo dragon is the most popular reptile according to Wikipedia pageview data.

Other recent publications

Other recent publications that could not be covered in time for this issue include the items listed below. Contributions are always welcome for reviewing or summarizing newly published research.

  • “Using Wikipedia page views to explore the cultural importance of global reptiles”[2] From the abstract: “We analysed all page views of reptile species viewed during 2014 in all of Wikipedia’s language editions. We compared species’ page view numbers across languages and in relationship to their spatial distribution, phylogeny, threat status and various other biological attributes. We found that the three species with most page views are shared across major language editions, beyond these, page view ranks of species tend to be specific to particular language editions. Interest within a language is mostly focused on reptiles found in the regions where the language is spoken. Overall, interest is greater for reptiles that are venomous, endangered, widely distributed, larger and that have been described earlier.” (See also university news release and Wiki Edu blog post)
  • “Gender Gap in Wikipedia Editing: A Cross Language Comparison”[3] From the abstract and conclusions section: “This study is guided by two research questions: RQ1: What is the percentage of users who set their gender in different language editions of Wikipedia? RQ2: Among those who express gender, what percentages comprise female and male contributors? [… We] compared gender across 289 language editions of Wikipedia. […] We conclude that the differences in the amount of users expressing their gender can be explained by the differences in the interfaces, both the visibility of gender and the incentive to express it, especially during the process of the new user-profile creation [… The] gender gap is not just present in the English Wikipedia but it is diffused across all language editions of Wikipedia. However, there are notable differences: in some Wikipedias (Slovenian, Estonian, Lithuanian) the percentage of women is close to 40 percent, in others (Bengali, Hindi) it is around 4 percent, while on the English Wikipedia, the chosen baseline given its international nature reaches 17 percent. Notably, languages whose editions of Wikipedia have larger shares of women tend to be spoken in countries with a larger participation of women in science.” (See also these general notes on the data source underlying the paper)
  • “Research on Wikipedia Vandalism: a brief literature review”[4] From the abstract: “This paper performs a literature review on the subject, with the goal of identifying the main research topics and approaches, methods and techniques used. Results showed that the authorship of three-quarters of papers are from Computer Science researchers. Main topic is the detection of vandalism, although there is a increasing interest about content quality. The most commonly used technique is machine learning, based on feature analysis. It draws attention to the lack of research on information behavior of vandals.”
  • “Wikipedia and participatory culture: Why fans edit”[5] From the abstract: “Building on previous research, I argue that fans want to take part in the production of the media that they enjoy, that Wikipedia allows editors to create their own paratext (i.e., the Wikipedia article) in relation to a main text (e.g., a movie, a television show, a book series), and that this paratext may be heavily used by the general public. Such usage is a form of implicit approval that affirms the editors’ knowledge and encourages them to make more edits. Thus, Wikipedia validates the fan editor’s work in a way that other outlets for participatory culture (e.g., fan fiction, fan art, songwriting) cannot.”
  • “WikInfoboxer: A Tool to Create Wikipedia Infoboxes Using DBpedia”[6] From the abstract: “… we present WikInfoboxer, a tool to help Wikipedia editors to create rich and accurate infoboxes. WikInfoboxer computes attributes that might be interesting for an article and suggests possible values for them after analyzing similar articles from DBpedia. To make the process easier for editors, WikInfoboxer presents this information in a friendly user interface.” (See also a related Wikimedia grant application)
  • “Answering End-User Questions, Queries and Searches on Wikipedia and its History”[7] From the abstract: “…we describe and compare two user-friendly systems that seek to make the universal knowledge of Web KBs [knowledge bases] available to users who neither know SPARQL, nor the internals of the KBs. … the SWiPE [“Search Wikipedia by example”] system provides a wysiwyg interface that lets users specify powerful queries on the Infoboxes of Wikipedia pages in a query-by-example fashion.” (See also our earlier related coverage: “Searching by example”, “Wikipedia Search Isn’t Necessarily Third BESt”)
  • “Cultural Differences in the Understanding of History on Wikipedia”[8] From the abstract: “This paper sheds light on cultural differences in the understanding of historical military events between Chinese, English, French, German, and Swedish Wikipedia language editions. […] We identified the most important historical events, mined cross-cultural relations, investigated word usage in war-related pages and performed network, complexity, and sentiment analysis. […] Our findings suggest that World War I and World War II are the most important historical events within English, French, and German cultures and English Wikipedia contains more violence and war-related content, with a higher level of complexity than other language editions.”
  • “Predicting Importance of Historical Persons Using Wikipedia”[9] From the abstract: “Based on the two well-known lists of the most important people in the last millennium, we look closely into factors that determine significance of historical persons. We predict person’s importance using six classifiers equipped with features derived from link structure, visit logs and article content.”
  • “Semantic Stability in Wikipedia”[10] From the abstract: “In this paper we assess the semantic stability of Wikipedia by investigating the dynamics of Wikipedia articles’ revisions over time. In a semantically stable system, articles are infrequently edited, whereas in unstable systems, article content changes more frequently. In other words, in a stable system, the Wikipedia community has reached consensus on the majority of articles. […] Our experimental results reveal that […] there are differences on the velocity of the semantic stability process between small and large Wikipedia editions. Small editions exhibit faster and higher semantic stability than large ones. In particular, in large Wikipedia editions, a higher number of successive revisions is needed in order to reach a certain semantic stability level, whereas, in small Wikipedia editions, the number of needed successive revisions is much lower for the same level of semantic stability.”
  • “The Citizen IS the Journalist: Automatically Extracting News from the Swarm”[11] From the abstract: “… we describe SwarmPulse, a system that extracts news by combing through Wikipedia and Twitter to extract newsworthy items. We measured the accuracy of SwarmPulse comparing it against the Reuters and CNN RSS feeds and the Google News feed. We found precision of 83 % and recall of 15 % against these sources.”
  • “DePP: A System for Detecting Pages to Protect in Wikipedia”[12] From the abstract: “In this paper we consider for the first time the problem of deciding whether a page should be protected or not in a collaborative environment such as Wikipedia. We formulate the problem as a binary classification task and propose a novel set of features to decide which pages to protect based on (i) users page revision behavior and (ii) page categories. We tested our system, called DePP, on a new dataset we built consisting of 13.6K pages (half protected and half unprotected) and 1.9M edits. Experimental results show that DePP reaches 93.24% classification accuracy and significantly improves over baselines.”

Logo of the Art+Feminism editathons
(Image by Ilotaha13, CC BY-SA 4.0)

  • “Bring on Board New Enthusiasts! A Case Study of Impact of Wikipedia Art + Feminism Edit-A-Thon Events on Newcomers”[13] From the abstract: “…our results shows that overall face-to-face edit-a-thons are very successful in attracting and recruiting a large number of newcomers who are more engaged than a random group of newcomers on Wikipedia; however, still a very small percentage of them stay engaged with Wikipedia after the event.”


  1. Penney, Jon (2016-06-01). “Chilling Effects: Online Surveillance and Wikipedia Use”. Berkeley Tech. L.J. doi:10.15779/Z38SS13. 
  2. Roll, Uri; Mittermeier, John C.; Diaz, Gonzalo I.; Novosolov, Maria; Feldman, Anat; Itescu, Yuval; Meiri, Shai; Grenyer, Richard. “Using Wikipedia page views to explore the cultural importance of global reptiles”. Biological Conservation. ISSN 0006-3207. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.03.037.  Closed access
  3. Massa, Paolo; Zelenkauskaite, Asta (2014-03-19). “Gender Gap in Wikipedia Editing: A Cross Language Comparison” (PDF). Global Wikipedia: International and Cross-Cultural Issues in Online Collaboration. 3/19/14. p. 12. 
  4. Tramullas, Jesús; Garrido-Picazo, Piedad; Sánchez-Casabón, Ana I. (2016). “Research on Wikipedia Vandalism: a brief literature review”. Proceedings of the 4th Spanish Conference on Information Retrieval CERI 2016. Granada, Spain: ACM. doi:10.1145/2934732.2934748.  Closed access
  5. Thomas, Paul (2016-09-15). “Wikipedia and participatory culture: Why fans edit”. Transformative Works and Cultures 22 (0). ISSN 1941-2258. doi:10.3983/twc.2016.0902. 
  6. Rodriguez-Hernandez, Ismael; Trillo-Lado, Raquel; Yus, Roberto (2016). WikInfoboxer: A Tool to Create Wikipedia Infoboxes Using DBpedia (PDF). University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain. p. 4. 
  7. Atzori, Maurizio; Gao, Shi; Mazzeo, Giuseppe M.; Zaniolo, Carlo (2016). Answering End-User Questions, Queries and Searches on Wikipedia and its History (PDF). Bulletin of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Data Engineering. p. 12. 
  8. Gieck, Robin; Kinnunen, Hanna-Mari; Li, Yuanyuan; Moghaddam, Mohsen; Pradel, Franziska; Gloor, Peter A.; Paasivaara, Maria; Zylka, Matthäus P. (2016). “Cultural Differences in the Understanding of History on Wikipedia” (PDF). In Matthäus P. Zylka, Hauke Fuehres, Andrea Fronzetti Colladon, Peter A. Gloor (eds.). Designing Networks for Innovation and Improvisation. Springer Proceedings in Complexity. Springer International Publishing. pp. 3–12. ISBN 9783319426969. 
  9. Jatowt, Adam; Kawai, Daisuke; Tanaka, Katsumi (2016). “Predicting Importance of Historical Persons Using Wikipedia”. Proceedings of the 25th ACM International on Conference on Information and Knowledge Management. CIKM ’16. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 1909–1912. ISBN 9781450340731. doi:10.1145/2983323.2983871.  Closed access
  10. Stanisavljevic, Darko; Hasani-Mavriqi, Ilire; Lex, Elisabeth; Strohmaier, Markus; Helic, Denis (2016-11-30). “Semantic Stability in Wikipedia”. In Hocine Cherifi, Sabrina Gaito, Walter Quattrociocchi, Alessandra Sala (eds.). Complex Networks & Their Applications V. Studies in Computational Intelligence. Springer International Publishing. pp. 379–390. ISBN 9783319509006.  Closed access
  11. Oliveira, João Marcos de; Gloor, Peter A. (2016). “The Citizen IS the Journalist: Automatically Extracting News from the Swarm”. In Matthäus P. Zylka, Hauke Fuehres, Andrea Fronzetti Colladon, Peter A. Gloor (eds.). Designing Networks for Innovation and Improvisation. Springer Proceedings in Complexity. Springer International Publishing. pp. 141–150. ISBN 9783319426969.  Closed access
  12. Suyehira, Kelsey; Spezzano, Francesca (2016). “DePP: A System for Detecting Pages to Protect in Wikipedia”. Proceedings of the 25th ACM International on Conference on Information and Knowledge Management. CIKM ’16. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 2081–2084. ISBN 9781450340731. doi:10.1145/2983323.2983914.  Closed access
  13. Farzan, Rosta; Savage, Saiph; Saviaga, Claudia Flores (2016). Bring on Board New Enthusiasts! A Case Study of Impact of Wikipedia Art + Feminism Edit-A-Thon Events on Newcomers. SocInfo’16. Part I, LNCS 10046, pp. 24–40, 2016. Springer International Publishing. p. 17. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-47880-7_2.  Closed access (direct PDF download)

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 7 • Issue: 4 • April 2017
This newsletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email WikiResearch on Twitter WikiResearch on Facebook[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by Tilman Bayer at July 24, 2017 11:36 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Franziska Michor and #notability

Because of Facebook I read something about Franziska Michor. What triggered me was that she received an award. Her occupation, biomathematician, does not even exist (yet) on Wikidata.

To understand what a biomathematician does, it is great to watch the TedMED presentation by Mrs Michor. It gets me to the question of notability; I was amazed that Mrs Michor did not have a presence on Wikidata. I do not know if TEDMed is part of the TED project we had and I have no clue how to add this presentation.

The problem with an ever increasing scope of Wikidata, the challenge becomes less one of introducing data but more of maintaining data. This is particularly true when you look at Wikidata from a mathematical point of view. With Mrs Michor there are several datasets that gained notability and can do with some tender loving care: biomathematicians, TEDMed talks and the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 24, 2017 09:46 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #30, 2017 (July 24, 2017)

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Other languages:
العربية • ‎বাংলা • ‎čeština • ‎Ελληνικά • ‎English • ‎español • ‎فارسی • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎日本語 • ‎ಕನ್ನಡ • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎中文

July 24, 2017 12:00 AM

July 23, 2017

Going GNU

Notes : Wikipedia Mini Hackathon Chennai July 23, 2017

Today, from Indian Linux Users Group, Chennai, we conducted a mini hackathon on Wikipedia.
We asked for ideas to the Tamil wiki community.
Collected the ideas here – https://ta.wikipedia.org/s/6t7w

We got 7 people. Balaji is a second year CS student. Syed Abuthahir is joining his first company as Python programmer tomorrow. His college senior Ajees is working. Neechalkaran is a well known contributor for wikipedia for his bots. Padmakumar is a C/C++ expert. Sankar is a full stack programmer. Myself a python kid.

With this energetic team with various skillsets, today’s hackathon got some interesting contributions.

Balaji hacked the UI of Tamil wikisource to show the wiki editing tools to left side bar. He is exploring on adding Tamil typewriting keyboard to Jquery.ime of “Universal Language Selector” extension of mediaiwki.

Padma Kumar explored the process of installing Tamil Text to speech system provided by IIT Madras. With very less and confusing documentation, he was downloading huge amount of software stack and compiling them for the entire day. Found that they had many hardcoded paths for various files in the code. Have to find and fix them manually. He will be exploring on this, further.

Syed Abuthahir explored the features of wikitools, a python library. He started to build a reporting tool to list out the contributions by all the TamilNadu School Teachers. The tool is still backing. He will complete it soon.

Neechalkaran explained and demonstrated his bots using Google Script Engine. He explained how mediawiki api works. He learned working with wikitools and python.

Sankar started to explore wikipedia as he is very new to it. Myself was helping the participants to understand the requirements and to get into hacking easily.

Will followup with the team to get the repo links and documentation.

Thanks for Raja Manohar for providing the venue. Thanks for Sankar and Vasanth for nice hospitality.

Thanks for all the participants. Hoping to see them all as great contributors to wikipedia. Let us conduct such events often. Meet you all soon.

Photos are here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/SEjPkJUvF30qGUWg2

by tshrinivasan at July 23, 2017 04:59 PM

July 22, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Prix de Coincy and Raymond Benoist

The Prix Coincy is an award conferred by the French Botanical Society. The first time it was awarded was in 1904 according to the French article but the first botanist who is known to have received it, got it in 1906. He was Edmond Gustave Camus a red link in the French article but he has articles in several Wikipedias.

Botany is one of those subjects that have appeal; people care about plants, how they are named and consequently many botanists have articles in multiple Wikipedias. This became obvious when all the red links and black links in the article were entered in Wikidata. Like Mr Camus most already existed and just had to be associated with this award.

There are a few items that are not that obvious; Raymond Benoist is one. The French article has it that he received the award but there is no source and at that the only source for the award is the French article. Another issue is with the 1949 award; they are likely three people, one is Louis Quentin, the others Henri and Madeleine Stehlé. Nothing wrong with being bold I suppose..

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 22, 2017 11:23 AM

July 21, 2017

Lorna M Campbell

How is it almost August?

This is another of those blog posts that starts “Where the hell have the last two months gone?!”  I’ve been sorely neglecting this blog since early May, not because I’ve got nothing to write about, quite the opposite, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to get near it!  I’m about to go off on annual leave for a couple of weeks but I wanted to post a quick round up of the last two months before I go, so here’s wot I have been up to.

Innovation Projects

UoE OKN, CC BY Natalie Lankester-Carthy

A lot of my time has been tied up with two Information Services Innovation Fund projects.  The UoE Open Knowledge Network was a small project that aimed at drawing together the University’s activities in the area of Open Data, Open Access, Open Education, Open Research, Open Collections and Archives, to support cross-fertilisation and promote the institution’s activities in these areas. We ran three events, with the last one taking place in early July.  This event focussed on discussing priorities, ideas for the future and how we can sustain the network going forward.  You can read about the first two events on the project blog here: UoE Open Knowledge Network and I’ll be writing up the July event when I get back from leave in August.

The aim of the second project was to develop a MOOC for entrepreneurs, creative individuals, and SMEs to help them develop the knowledge and skills to find and access free and open licensed research, data and content produced by universities and higher education. I was lucky enough to recruit Morna Simpson of Geek Girl Scotland to work on the project however despite our best efforts and an incredible amount of work on Morna’s part the project faced a number of challenges which we struggled to overcome.  Rather than go ahead with a MOOC we will be releasing a series of twelve case studies on the theme of Innovating with Open Knowledge demonstrating how individuals and organisations can access and use the open outputs of University of Edinburgh research.  These case studies should be finished by early August so watch this space!

Media Hopper Replay

The University of Edinburgh is in the process of rolling out a new state of the art lecture recoding service, Media Hopper Replay, which will see 400 rooms enabled to deliver lecture recording by 2019.  As part of a training programme for staff, my colleague Charlie Farley and I have been developing training sessions on preparing for lecture recording covering accessible presentation design, copyright basics, and using open educational resources.


City of Glasgow College, CC BY Lorna M. Campbell

I was honoured to be invited by ALT to join the selection panel for the prestigious Learning Technologist of the Year Awards.  The quality and diversity of the entries was really inspiring and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries it wasn’t easy to pick the best from such a strong field.  The winners of the awards will be announced at the ALT Annual Conference which this year takes place at the University of Liverpool.  I’ll be there rejoining my old partner in crime Richard Goodman to provide social media coverage of the conference for the third year running.

In June I also helped to organise ALT Scotland’s annual conference which focused on sharing strategy, practice and policy in learning technology.  We had really interesting talks on lecture recording policy and practice from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and Joe Wilson reported back from two European open education policy events he recently attended on behalf of Open Scotland.  The real star of the show however was City of Glasgow College’s new state of the art campus where the event took place.

Celtic Knot Conference

In early July I was busy helping UoE’s Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, plan the University of Edinburgh / Wikimedia UK Celtic Knot Conference.  The conference showcased innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data to support and grow Celtic and Indigenous language communities, and explore how our cultural heritage can be preserved as living languages.  The conference was attended by delegates from all over Europe and was an enormous success.  It was a real privilege to be involved in this event and as a Gael, I found the conference to be both moving and inspiring.  I may have got a little starry eyed listening to delegates talking animatedly in Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Basque and too many other languages to mention.  And as an indication of the collaborative and supportive nature of the event, it was great to see all 50+ delegates come together to provide input and advice to Wikimedia Norge on how to support Sami language Wikipedia.


Wikimedia UK

Last weekend I was at the Wikimedia UK AGM and Board Meeting in London where it was a real pleasure to see Josie Fraser voted in as new chair of the Wikimedia Board and our very own UoE Wikimedia in Residence Ewan McAndrew awarded a very well deserved joint Wikimedian of the Year award together with Kelly Foster.  It was also great to hear that Sara Thomas has been appointed as the new Wikimedian in Residence at the Scottish Libraries and Information Council.


And on top of all that I somehow managed to submit my CMALT portfolio at the end of May! Although it was a lot of hard work, and although I went right to wire (of course), I actually enjoyed the process of putting my portfolio together and I found it really useful to step back and reflect on my experience of working as a learning technologist in the broadest sense of the word. I would still like to write a proper post reflecting on my experience of developing my portfolio in the open but that will have to wait until the autumn.

That’s just a few of the things that have been taking up most of my time over the last couple of months.  I’m now off for a fortnight’s holiday during which we are going to attempt to coax our aged VW van to take us all the way to Brittany.  If we make it to the Borders we’ll be lucky!   I’ll be back in early August with a new role at the University of Edinburgh as Learning Technology Team Leader in the Department of Education Development and Engagement.

by admin at July 21, 2017 05:07 PM

Wikimedia Scoring Platform Team

AI Wishlist initialized and a new Phab Tag (January 31st, 2017)

I hosted the AI Wishlist session at the Developer Summit(T147710). At that session, we brainstormed a set of AIs that we think would be interesting to implement. Generally I asked people to do their best to follow template that would help us remember why the AI was important, what it would help with, and what resources might help get it implemented. See artificial-intelligence

Well, I've taken all of the notes and filed a large set of phab tasks under a new "artificial-intelligence" tag. Please review all of the fun, new proposals that are listed there and make sure you subscribe to those that you're interested in.


(This post was copied from https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/ai/2017-January/000134.html)

by Halfak (Aaron Halfaker, EpochFail, halfak) at July 21, 2017 04:56 PM

Join my Reddit AMA about Wikipedia and ethical, transparent AI

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming experimental Reddit AMA ("ask me anything") chat we have planned. It will focus on artificial intelligence on Wikipedia and how we're working to counteract vandalism while also making life better for newcomers.

We plan to hold this chat on June 1st at 21:00 UTC/14:00 PST in the /r/iAMA subreddit[1]. I'd love to answer any questions you have about these topics questions, and I'll send a follow-up email to this thread shortly before the AMA begins.

For those who don't know who I am, I create artificial intelligences[2] that support the volunteers who edit Wikipedia[3]. I've been fascinated by the ways that crowds of volunteers build massive, high quality information resources like Wikipedia for over ten years.

For more background, I research and then design technologies that make it easier to spot vandalism in Wikipedia—which helps support the hundreds of thousands of editors who make productive contributions. I also think a lot about the dynamics between communities and new users—and ways to make communities inviting and welcoming to both long-time community members and newcomers who may not be aware of community norms. For a quick sampling of my work, check out my most impactful research paper about Wikipedia[3], some recent coverage of my work from *Wired*[4], or check out the master list of my projects on my WMF staff user page[5], the documentation for the technology team I run[9], or the home page for Wikimedia Research[8].

This AMA, which I'm doing with with the Foundation's Communications department, is somewhat of an experiment. The intended audience for this chat is people who might not currently be a part of our community but have questions about the way we work—as well as potential research collaborators who might want to work with our data or tools. Many may be familiar with Wikipedia but not the work we do as a community behind the scenes.

I'll be talking about the work I'm doing with the ethics of AI and how we think about artificial intelligence on Wikipedia, and ways we’re working to counteract vandalism on the world’s largest crowdsourced source of knowledge—like the ORES extension[6], which you may have seen highlighting possibly problematic edits on your watchlist and in RecentChanges.

I’d love for you to join this chat and ask questions. If you do not or prefer not to use Reddit, we will also be taking questions on ORES' MediaWiki talk page[7] and posting answers to both threads.

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence
  3. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/ORES
  4. http://www-users.cs.umn.edu/~halfak/publications/The_Rise_and_Decline/halfaker13rise-preprint.pdf
  5. https://www.wired.com/2015/12/wikipedia-is-using-ai-to-expand-the-ranks-of-human-editors/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Halfak_(WMF)
  7. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:ORES
  8. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:ORES
  9. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Research
  10. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Scoring_Platform_team

Principal Research Scientist @ WMF
User:EpochFail / User:Halfak (WMF)

(This post was copied from https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/ai/2017-May/000163.html)

by Halfak (Aaron Halfaker, EpochFail, halfak) at July 21, 2017 04:55 PM

Status update (June 3rd, 2017)

Updates now coming to the phame blog! We made presentations and gathered new collaborators at the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 in Vienna. ORES is back in api.php. Wikilabels has stats. ORES in CODFW fell over for a while, but it's back.

Hey folks,

I'll be starting to post updates here on the phame blog from now on, but if you'd prefer to be notified via the mailing lists we used to post to, that's OK. I'll make sure that the highlights and the link to these posts gets pushed there too.

We had a big presence at the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 in Vienna. We kicked off a lot of new language focused collaborations and we deployed a new Item Quality model for Wikidata.

French and Finnish Wikipedias now have advance edit quality prediction support!

ORES is available through api.php again via rvprop=orescores and rcprop=oresscores.

Wiki labels now has a new stats reporting interface. Check out https://labels.wmflabs.org/stats

We had a major hiccup when failing over to CODFW, but we worked it out and ORES is very happy again.

See the sections below for details.

Labeling campaigns

We deployed a new edit quality labeling campaign to English Wiktionary(T165876) and we're looking for someone who can work as a liaison for this task. We've also deployed secondary labeling campaigns to Finnish Wikipedia(T166558) and Turkish Wikipedia(T164672). These secondary campaigns help us improve ORES accuracy.

Outreach & comms

We hosted a session at the Wikimedia Hackathon to tell people about ORES and show how to work with us to get support for your local wiki(T165397). We also worked with the Collaboration Team to announce that ORES Review Tool would not be enabled by default and the New Filters would be deployed as a beta feature(T163153).

New development

Lots of things here. In our modeling library, we implemented the basics of Greek and Bengali language assets so that we can start working on prediction models(T166793, T162620). After talking to people at the Wikimedia Hackathon about peculiar language overlap, we implemented a regex exclusions strategy(T166793) that will allow us to clearly state that "ha" is not laughing in Hungarian or Italian, but it is in a lot of other contexts.

We also spent some time exploring the overlap of the "damaging" and "goodfaith" models on Wikipedia(T163995). We were able to show that there's useful overlap that will allow editors working on newcomer socialization to find goodfaith newcomer who are running into trouble. The Collaboration Team adjusted the thresholds in New Filters in response to our analysis(T164621).

Using data from Wiki labels(T157495), we trained a basic item quality model for Wikidata(T164862) and demonstrated it at the Wikimedia Hackathon(T166054). We used data from Wiki labels(T130261, T163012) to build advanced edit quality models for French and Finnish Wikipedia(T130282, T163013) and those are now deployed in ORES(T166047).

We implemented a new stats reporting interface in Wiki labels(T139956) and announced it (T166529). This interface makes it easier for people managing campaigns in Wiki labels to track progress. It's a long time coming. Props to @Ladsgroup for doing a bunch of work to make it happen.

Finally, we implemented a new "score_revisions" utility that makes it quick and easy to generate scores for a set of revisions using the ORES service(T164547). This is really useful for researchers who want lots of scores and would like to avoid taking down ORES. Personally, I've been using it to audit ORES.

Maintenance and robustness

We did a major deployment of ORES in mid-April(T162892) that had some serious problems in CODFW, but not EQIAD which was super confusing (T163950), so we re-routed traffic to EQIAD(350487). While investigating, we found out that some timeouts(T163944) and server errors(T163171, T163764, T163798) were due to the same problem: There were two servers in CODFW that we didn't know existed so they weren't getting new deployment and were poisoning our worker queue with old code!

We also fixed a couple of regressions that popped up in the ORES Review Tool while new work was being done on New Filters (T165011, T164984). We fixed some weird tokenization issues due to diacritics in Bengali not being handled correctly(T164767).

We re-enabled ORES in api.php(T163687). Props to @Tgr for making this happen.

We fixed some issues with ORES swagger documentation(T162184) and some UI issues in Wiki labels related to button colors(T163222) and confusing error messages(T138563).


We finished off some data-flow diagrams for ORES(T154441). As part of transitioning to a Wikimedia Foundation team (Scoring Platform! Woot!), we've moved all the documentation for ORES and our team to Mediawiki.org(T164991). Also, as part of the Tech Ops experimentation with failovers across datacenters, we updated our grafana metrics tracking to split metrics by datacenter(T163212). This helped us quite a bit with diagnosing the deployment issues we discussed in the last section.

That's all folks. I hope you enjoyed the new format!

by Halfak (Aaron Halfaker, EpochFail, halfak) at July 21, 2017 04:55 PM

Status update (July 11th, 2017)

Two outages with documentation. Revscoring 2.0 coming with better model information and "thresholds". New support for Romanian, Albanian, Tamil, Greek, and Bengali. We're officially welcoming @awight to the team!

Hey folks!

As of July 1st, we are officially the Scoring Platform team. We're welcoming Adam Wight (@awight) to the team officially.

The last ~month was very productive, but we had two major production issues. See 20170613-ORES and 20170623-ORES. As you will see below, there's a series of tasks that address problems that were related to these issues.

Despite dealing with production issues, we've been able to get a very substantial change to the revscoring library merged. This change will make accessing information about models (build environment, test statistics, scoring thresholds, etc.) much easier. This will cause a breaking change in ORES UI so we'll be making an announcement when we roll it out. Stay tuned.

We've also increased our language and model coverage substantially. We even built and deployed a totally new type of model to help out French Wikisource!

New team stuff

So with the new fiscal year, we're a new team. We're working on an announcement to be posted on the WMF blog. That should be coming out soon. See T169755. Most of the new team stuff focused on getting Adam all of the rights he needed to do ORES deploys and other work.

ORES downtime

We had two major downtime events with ORES. One of these (20170613-ORES) was not our fault, but we still set up better monitoring (T167830) so that, when it happens again, we can fix it more quickly. The second event (20170623-ORES) was due to a deeply problematic regular expression pattern that had ~ a 1 in a billion chance of causing catastrophic failure. We both fixed the regular expression (T168888) and fixed the timeout that didn't catch the out-of-control regex match (T168965)

New language support

We were lucky to have a lot of volunteers working with us this month so that allowed us to make a lot of progress towards expanding support to more wikis. Both the Albanian and Romanian Wikipedias finished their labeling campaigns so we'll be able to deploy advanced support to them soon (T163010, T156517). We now have some of the basic language assets for Tamil so we should be able to build up basic support for that Wikipedia soon (T166052). We also implemented an article quality model for Turkish Wikipedia (T164671) thanks to lots of work by @Mavrikant. We developed a new strategy for cross-language badword/informal detection and addressed some lingustic overlap between English and Hungarian Wikipedia (T167231, T165872). We implemented a page-level OCR model for French Wikisource (somewhat like article quality, but more about the quality of machine reader transcriptions) (T167196). Finally, we deployed the ORES Review Tool to French Wikipedia (T165044)

Data release -- Monthly Article Quality predictions (English Wikipedia)

This was a long time coming. We've got the data that allowed us to measure the coverage gap of articles about Women Scientists in Wikipedia hosted in labs (T146718). That means the table can be queried directly from Quarry. See this demo query.

New features for ORES/revscoring

Prompted by concerns raised by @Catrope from the Collaboration-Team-Triage, we have been working on a better way to represent information about a model (T162217): build environment, statistics, prediction thresholds, etc. We've even built a way to allow for querying the thresholds of a model that we refer to as "threshold optimizations". This refactoring gave us an opportunity to address some other outstanding wants with regards to revscoring -- e.g. storing more information about the build environment (T160223) and cleaning up our "tune" utility (T163711).

Wikilabels UX improvement & maintenance.

Thanks to @Jan_Dittrich and @Pginer-WMF's feedback, we've been working on addressing some user-experience issues. These were mostly fixes to language to make the functionality of the system more clear (T167079, T138736). We also brought Wikilabels down for a short period of time on Tuesday July 11th for scheduled database maintenance (T169933).

ORES Review Tool improvements

We finished up some patchsets that were blocked for a long time on some fixes to core MediaWiki. This allowed us to fixed highlighting in Special:RecentChanges and Special:Watchlist (T155903, T155930).

General ORES maintenance

We've done a bunch of maintenance to ORES to solve a variety of issues that cropped up. E.g. improving tests (T168007), solving a regression in the basic ORES ui (T149117), fixing our new precaching system (T168674) and enabling it to work with the new EventStreams feed (T166046).

Misc operations work, versions and styling

by Halfak (Aaron Halfaker, EpochFail, halfak) at July 21, 2017 04:53 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Engaged Learning and Teaching with Wikipedia

On a sunny Monday in May, I headed to Tulane University’s Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching to run a “Teaching with Wikipedia” faculty workshop. Associate Director of Classroom Engagement Toni Weiss hosted me for an an intimate, hour long talk during which I spoke with interested faculty from the French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese departments.

We discussed the 285 languages that have their own distinct, active Wikipedias. Each community of editors develops its own unique set of rules and guidelines, something people most familiar with the English Wikipedia might not know or understand. Core elements of the project and the mission are the same, but content creation, sourcing, and citation guidelines can and do differ across languages. We also talked about the ways the English Wikipedia’s rules might differ from those of the French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese Wikipedias.

Psychology, physics and engineering instructors also came out for the workshop to hear the wrap up of Wiki Ed’s Year of Science. In addition, we talked about our upcoming Future of Facts campaign, where we hope to support politically relevant courses in areas like public policy, political science, law, history, sociology, and environmental science, as well as interdisciplinary courses that will work on these topic areas.

We’re excited to continue working with Tulane and other universities in the United States and Canada on subjects like these. Do you have an upcoming course that you feel could help improve Wikipedia as a source of factual, politically relevant information? If so, reach out to us at contact@wikiedu.org. I’d love to help you design your next assignment.

PhotoCampus (8555707272).jpg, by Tulane Public Relations, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Samantha Weald at July 21, 2017 04:00 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 365


Number of comments per changeset

Pascal’s evaluation of the number of comments per changeset indicates many monologues 1 | Image by Pascal Neis under CC-BY-SA 3.0


  • Nicolas Toublanc has a nice culinary question on how to map “Oyster farmers: growers, sellers, oyster bar and seafood” and a quick answer by Vincent Bergeot. (fr)
  • Svavar Kjarrval wrote about several issues in the development of a router for pedestrians. He seeks solutions, including one to differentiate routing , whether a road can be crossed anywhere or must be crossed only on crosswalks.
  • Horea Meleg of TeleNav asks at the Talk-US mailing list for the good practice on how to map lanes, turn lanes and signposts
  • ChristianA shares in his user diary how he mapped some old and unused quarries near his home.
  • Earlier we reported about Daniel’s work related to identifying potential sharp turns onto ramps. Following some discussions, they have refined some checks and added new ones for sharp turns (e.g. sharp turns from one ramp onto another). Here are the up-to-date results for the planet.
  • Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL) has started “project Ilam” together with Marek Kleciak, Heinz_V and WojtekK. The main goal is to get the utmost possible data accuracy using new high resolution imagery from Bing and Digital Globe in the district of Ilam, Nepal. The wiki page of this project describes how to identify such areas from aerial images. The project should demonstrate to the authorities in developing countries the usefulness of OpenStreetMap. The area should act as test area for comparing armchair mapping data to the reality in the field and support governments and NGOs. The project is looking for experienced mappers: sorry, no newcomers.
  • User taz2015 asks at the English OSM Forum how to handle erroneous data from the TIGER import.
  • Mapbox has purchased satellite imagery of 8.2 million square kilometers. Camilla Mahon explained in Mapbox’s blog how it decides which areas require better pictures.



  • In a month, the State of the Map 2017 conference starts in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan.
  • This year marks the OSM’s 13th birthday which is celebrated on August 13th. Don’t forget to enter your local events to the OSM wiki.
  • On July 21st a mini conference takes place on bike data (open data) organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium in Brussels.
  • On July 15th, Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak was elected as chairman of OSM Poland in Łodź, Poland. For all other functions, refer to the website.
  • On Tuesday, July 19th, Rubén López of Mapbox made a presentation for 60 students at the Congress of Information and Communication Technologies in Churcampa – Huancavelica. Rubén spoke about OpenStreetMap, how to collaborate with the OpenStreetMap community, how to add data to the map and the different applications that can be done using OpenStreetMap data.

Humanitarian OSM

  • John Whelan notes on the HOT mailing list that there is a large number of untagged ways in Chad. Many of them are buildings, but not all.


  • Mario asked in the gvSIG blog: “Have you decided to learn to work with a Geographic Information System and you don’t know how to start?” His answer to this question is a free book with the title, “Learning GIS with Game of Thrones“.


  • With the help of Leaflet and OverpassAPI, Harald Hartmann made a nice visualization of view points with views towards.

Open Data

  • The Ordnance Survey in England has released a large set of data with various green spaces in England as open data. It is not yet clear whether the data are compatible with OSM.


  • NextGIS announced OSMInfo, a new tool for using OSM data in QGIS.
  • The MapOSMatic fork of Hartmut now supports Email notifications once your requested map is ready or an error occurred. In addition, his instance also offers the map styles Pencil, Space Station and Blossom.


  • Daniel Koć searches a server to work on the middle zoom levels of OSM Carto for some weeks.
  • Andy Allan started work on the preparation of the integration of the moderation branch, a former GSoC project, into the OpenStreetMap website and API. The branch adds a report button. Up to now users have to report spam via email or IRC.


  • Tobias Zwick has officially released StreetComplete. It can be downloaded at FDroid or in the PlayStore.
  • The new release of Mapbox Directions swift comes with added attribute options option, congestion, for obtaining the level of traffic congestion along each segment of a RouteLeg and much more
  • Mapbox’s new release for the Navigation iOS comes with a style specifically designed for turn-by-turn navigation, with French, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian, and Spanish localizations and much more.
  • Other releases
    • Jungle Bus 1.2 | 11.07.2017
    • Komoot Android 9.3 | 13.07.2017
    • Kurviger Free 1.1.5 | 13.07.2017
    • Mapillary Android 3.67 | 11.07.2017
    • OSM Contributor 3.0.5 | 12.07.2017

Did you know …

  • The uMap map of all world-wide host cities of the State of the Map (SotM) and FOSSGIS events

Other “geo” things

  • An animation of ThingsWork shows the course of a day for winter and summer solstice.
  • ThingsWork shows the change of the Ucayali river from 1985 to 2013.
  • Boundless, an US open-source GIS company, announces a “strategic partnership” with Mapbox. In a press release they say that their customers will receive easier access to Mapbox products.
  • Mapzen now offers map matching, which “takes in a trajectory of latitude/longitude coordinates and returns back a route line that is snapped to the OpenStreetMap road network and enriched with attributes, like speed limits and freeway exit signs.”
  • ORF reported about a study of the University of Stanford, how much people are walking in different countries on daily-basis.
  • Antonio Zugaldia from Mapbox shows how to generate traffic maps and add images in Alexa Show skill using Mapbox Java Services.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Seattle Complete The Map Challenge, Mapillary image mapping 2017-06-23-2017-07-31 united states
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2017-07-24 germany
Graz Stammtisch Graz 2017-07-24 austria
Nottingham Nottingham Pub Meetup 2017-07-25 united kingdom
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2017-07-25 germany
Dusseldorf Stammtisch Düsseldorf 2017-07-26 germany
Itami 【西国街道#08】オープンデータソンin伊丹「有岡城惣構」 2017-07-29 japan
Tokyo 東京!街歩かない!マッピングバーティ2 2017-07-29 japan
Managua Editathon with iD 2017-07-29 nicaragua
Taipei OpenStreetMap Taipei Meetup, MozSpace 2017-07-31 taiwan
Rostock Rostocker Treffen 2017-08-01 germany
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2017-08-02 germany
Brisbane Nundah Mapping Party 2017-08-04 australia
Amagasaki 地図好きに送るオープンストリートマップの使い方 in みんなのサマーセミナー2017 2017-08-05 japan
Taipei COSCUP OpenStreetMap Track, National Taiwan University Social Science College 2017-08-05 taiwan
Kusatsu 真夏のマッピングパーティ in 草津 2017-08-06 japan
Boston FOSS4G 2017 2017-08-14-2017-08-19 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 (international conference) 2017-08-18-2017-08-20 japan
Patan State of the Map Asia 2017 2017-09-23-2017-09-24 nepal
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 2017-10-19-2017-10-22 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 2017-10-23-2017-10-28 argentina
Brussels FOSS4G Belgium 2017 2017-10-26 belgium
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 2017-11-29-2017-12-02 perú

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, Peda, Polyglot, Rogehm, SomeoneElse, Spanholz, Spec80, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, keithonearth.

by weeklyteam at July 21, 2017 06:41 AM

July 20, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Canadian Supreme Court rules against Google in favor of worldwide court orders

Artwork by Sandro Botticelli, public domain.

Last month the Supreme Court of Canada issued its ruling in the Google v. Equustek case, holding that Google must remove search results worldwide for URLs leading to web pages selling goods that violate Equustek’s trade secrets. We intervened in the case on behalf of Google, and we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision. When national courts impose international judgments, they risk trespassing the free expression rights of people living around the world, both to publish and access information online. This impact could be felt across the globe, particularly by sites such as the Wikimedia projects, which host content that some countries claim should not be freely available.

As noted in our previous blog post on this lawsuit, the case concerned the sale of products which appear to have been based on trade secrets owned by Equustek and taken unlawfully by a competitor. The Canadian court never held a full trial, but rather ruled in the context of an interlocutory (i.e. temporary) injunction. This type of injunction is supposed to last a short time to minimize harm while a trial is ongoing and offers a party a temporary legal solution to the matter they are seeking to fix in court. Unfortunately, with the way the Canadian court system works, Equustek does not need to set a date to complete the trial. There is a good chance that Equustek will use the temporary order without moving forward with the trial, effectively making it final.

Equustek filed a court application against Google, a third party that wasn’t in the underlying case, because it could not reach the actual infringer. That infringer continued to sell infringing goods, but had moved its business outside Canada. On the other hand, because Google is a large company and has many users, Equustek thought it could solve its problem by suing Google, even though Equustek admitted that Google wasn’t part of the original lawsuit and wasn’t breaking any laws itself. The Canadian courts found that because Google was enabling others to find the infringing products, Equustek could get a Canadian court to order Google to delist certain URLs from search results, and that this delisting right extended to every domain Google owns, no matter where the user viewing the search results was located.

Google appealed this case on jurisdiction and free expression grounds. In October 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation filed an intervention, similar to the amicus briefs we often file in American courts. Many media, free expression, and digital rights groups did the same. In our brief, we urged the court to consider the free expression concerns that arise from worldwide orders, the negative impact and dangerous precedent this could set for the ability to find and access information online, and to exercise general respect for the differing laws of other nations.

Ultimately, the Canadian Supreme Court disagreed with our position. The court focused on Equustek’s trade secret claim, which the court observed would be a legal wrong in most jurisdictions, while saying that this order requiring Google to delist all sites that involved the sale of goods in question, did not not implicate freedom of expression.

The court’s opinion focuses particularly on Google as a major internet company with substantial resources. The opinion notes that if Google thinks there is some conflict between the laws of Canada and another country, they can come back to the Canadian courts and ask for the order to be modified. The same would apply if Google could point to an effect on freedom of expression in this case. This may be possible for Google, but the court failed to acknowledge the difficulty that similar orders could present for smaller, more scarcely-resourced organizations such as the Wikimedia Foundation. This could force members of an organization to travel to a foreign court several times over to seek modifications of overly broad injunctions and can pose a significant financial obstacle, especially for newer or smaller websites. A wave of such orders could stifle a website before it ever has the chance to get off the ground.

Though the case did not reach the outcome we had hoped to see, limiting factors may prevent the court’s ruling from being read too broadly. First, the case does not apply to everyone on the internet, as the power exercised by the Canadian courts here relied in part on the fact that Google (the U.S. company) was actually selling ads to Canadians. A website that was not targeting citizens of a particular country for commercial sales may not have been subject to an order like this one. The decision also does not address cases that do not involve trade secrets or the unlawful sale of a product. For example, it does not address the sorts of free expression issues that the Wikimedia projects often face, such as a disputed copyright in a remix.

However, a dangerously expansive reading of this case could be used to seek global orders that place limits on free expression and broad access to knowledge. In our view, the court did not adequately take into account the potential of misuse of its decision, despite the large number of intervenors explaining the harmful implications to which a broad reading of the case may lead. Worryingly, large entertainment industry associations—who were also represented at the Supreme Court—have already pointed to this decision as precedent for allowing them to obtain global orders outside of the trade secret context.

With similar demands for global delisting coming from countries in Europe, this case may encourage courts around the world, including those in countries with weaker free expression protections, to attempt similar rulings in order to block access to information worldwide. Ultimately, such actions harm the ability of the Wikimedia movement to create and share knowledge freely.

Jacob Rogers, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to McInnes Cooper, and in particular to David Fraser for their excellent representation in this matter. We would also like to extend special thanks to legal fellow Leighanna Mixter for her assistance in preparing this blog post.

by Jacob Rogers at July 20, 2017 07:38 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Wiki Education joins psychologists at Palo Alto University to talk psychology + Wikipedia

Yesterday, Wiki Education was at Palo Alto University for their first annual Evidence-Based Teaching Conference. I presented alongside Dr. Patty Brooks, Professor at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York and Doctoral Faculty at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Elizabeth Che, a doctoral student at The Graduate Center. We shared with conference attendees the benefits and challenges of teaching with Wikipedia in the psychology classroom and why students should add more biographies of women psychologists to the encyclopedia.

As Dr. Brooks and her colleagues have documented on our blog before, students may feel anxious when they are assigned to contribute to Wikipedia, as it is an unfamiliar community and space for them to exhibit content mastery. However, thanks to Wiki Education’s online training modulesediting guide to Psychology requirements on Wikipedia, and support from their instructors, most students complete the assignment and reflect positively on the learning process. This experience aligns with what Dr. Zach McDowell learned while researching student learning outcomes of Wikipedia assignments.

At Palo Alto University’s event yesterday, attendees asked important questions about student motivation and whether the academic view of Wikipedia’s quality has shifted in the past decade. Dr. Brooks shared a compelling argument about the value for students to learn how to investigate information on Wikipedia, similar to her own childhood use of other print encyclopedias. As for student motivation, we know both anecdotally and from Dr. McDowell’s research that students are highly motivated to work hard when they understand their purpose and audience.

We are looking forward to working with more psychology students as they learn the ropes on Wikipedia, sharing high-quality, well-cited information with the public. If you’re an instructor interested in teaching with Wikipedia with psychology students, email us at contact@wikiedu.org. Any clinical psychologists who are experienced Wikipedia editors should consider applying for our open Visiting Scholars position at the University of North Carolina. Join us as we make important psychology research available to the world.

PhotoPAU pedagogy conference 2017 6 by User:Jami (Wiki Ed) – own work, CC-BY-SA 4.0

by Jami Mathewson at July 20, 2017 04:00 PM

July 19, 2017

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Investing in our shared future, supported by AI: Announcing the Scoring Platform team

Illustration by Mun May Tee-Galloway, CC BY-SA 4.0.

On 12 January 2015, an editor by the name of Blank123456789 noted that “LLAMAS GROW ON TREES” in the article about Dog intelligence.  Within a second, the edit was flagged by an algorithm as potentially problematic

Another Wikipedia editor named IronGargoyle saw this flagged edit in an advance curation tool called Huggle.  With a glance, he was able to identify the edit as problematic and strike it down. This whole interaction took a matter of seconds. A vandal vandalizes, and a patroller supported by advanced vandalism detection artificial intelligences (AIs) sees the problem and corrects it.

Out of the 160,000 edits that the English Wikipedia receives every day, about 4,000 (2.5%) are vandalism, which has a very specific meaning on Wikipedia: editing (or other behavior) deliberately intended to obstruct or defeat the project’s purpose.  Reviewing the hundreds of thousands of edits that take place every day would be a monumental task–but the volunteer community of Wikipedia editors has managed quite well, something that is today largely due to AIs that have been developed to support them.

AIs make the work of maintaining massive encyclopedias, dictionaries, databases, and more much easier by making a lot of large scale tasks (like counter-vandalism and article quality assessment) much easier and quicker to spot and handle.  Historically, the AIs that have helped Wikipedians were built and maintained by volunteers. While these systems filled a critical infrastructural role, they were generally only available for the English Wikipedia and did not scale well.

Over the past few years, I have been working alongside a large group of volunteers on a core technology that makes basic AI support for wiki-work much more accessible to non-AI specialist developers.  Named “ORES,” it is an artificial intelligence service that makes predictions about which edits are vandalism, which new page creations are problematic, and which articles are ready to be nominated for Featured status. (See our past posts about how it works and measuring content gaps with ORES)

Without a doubt, the project has been a breakaway success. The beta feature has 26,000 active users and over 20 third party tools, is actively running in production, and has received positive write-ups in Wired, MIT Tech Review, and the BBC. As a result, we’ve become a leader in conversations around detecting and mitigating biases, and have built collaborations with researchers at UC-Berkeley, UMN, CMU, Télécom Bretagne, and Northwestern.

Developing and maintaining ORES requires a lot of consistent effort and vision, and we recently requested resources from the Wikimedia Foundation to formally support the project. With a budget and broader mandate in place, we can now focus on bringing new ORES models to production, improving performance, and extending accountability.

Meet the Scoring Platform Team

Photo by Myleen Hollero/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The new Scoring Platform team is led by Aaron Halfaker, a principal research scientist who authored a series of studies into Wikipedia’s newcomer decline and designed Snuggle, a newcomer socialization support tool.  ORES is the next item on Dr. Halfaker’s research agenda.  He hypothesizes that by enabling a broader set of people to build powerful, AI-driven wiki tools, some of Wikipedia’s fundamental socio-technical problems may become much easier to solve.

Photo by Mardetanha, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Amir Sarabadani will be continuing his work as a quasi-volunteer and contractor for our peer organization, Wikimedia Germany.  Amir has developed several bots and bot-building utilities that are used to maintain content in Wikipedia and Wikidata.  Amir has been a core contributor since the early days of the volunteer-driven “Revision Scoring as a Service” project, and is the primary author of our insanely popular Beta feature—the ORES Review Tool.

Photo by Adam Wight, CC BY-SA 3.0.

As of this month, the team is welcoming their first full-time, budgeted engineer, Adam Wight.  He has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation’s fundraising team since 2012, volunteered for ORES and the Education Program. Outside of computers, he’s done a few eclectic things like helping to start “The Local” food co-op and People’s University, an open-air school on subjects ranging from philosophy to the history of adventure playgrounds and practical blacksmithing.  Adam is currently working out the details of an auditing system that will allow humans to more effectively critique ORES’ predictions.

Where we plan to go next

In the next year, the Scoring Platform team to work in three new directions:

  • Democratizing access to AI. We’ll increase the availability of advanced AIs to more wiki communities.  Small, but growing communities need AI support the most, so we’ll be targeting these emerging communities to make sure they are well supported.
  • Developing new types of AI predictions.  The team is currently experimenting with new types of AIs for supporting different types of Wikipedians’ work.  We’re collaborating with external researchers to develop prediction models.
  • Pushing the state of the art with regards to ethical practice of AI development.  AIs can be scary in all sorts of ways.  They can perpetuate biases in hidden ways, silence the voices of those who don’t conform, and simply operate at speeds and scales far exceeding mere humans.  We’re building a human-driven auditing system for ORES’ predictions so that human contributors will have a new and powerful way to keep ORES in check.

Until now, ORES was primarily a volunteer-driven project.  With minimal financial support, a ragtag team was able to build a production-level service that supports 29 languages and 35 different Wikimedia project wikis.  The ORES Review Tool (a simple tool for helping with counter-vandalism work) has been a breakaway success, with over 26k editors installing the beta feature before it was enabled by default.

How to learn more and get involved

The Scoring Platform team welcomes collaboration and volunteers to get involved with the project.  See the team’s page and our technical blog for more information about how to get involved.  See ORES’ documentation for more information about using the service or getting support for your wiki.  Or join the larger community of people interested in applying AI to make wikis work better via our mailing list and IRC channel (#wikimedia-ai on freenode).

Aaron Halfaker, Principal Research Scientist, Scoring Platform team
Wikimedia Foundation

by Aaron Halfaker at July 19, 2017 06:28 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Looking back at the Spring 2017 term

The Spring 2017 term saw tremendous growth, but also prompted reflection for Wiki Education. We supported 358 courses and more than 7,500 students. Collectively, those students contributed more than 6 million words to almost 10,000 articles on Wikipedia on subjects ranging from Diagnostic microbiology to Police brutality against Native Americans.

Each term, we strive to improve our support for our instructors and students. Since its launch in Fall 2015, we’ve continually updated the Course Dashboard to better serve the needs of our program participants. This term, we launched a new feature that color codes student contributions so instructors can more easily track exactly what their students added to a given article. Though our digital tools are a critical part of the Classroom Program, Wiki Ed staff are always working to ensure that our courses are getting the help they need. During the Spring 2017 term, we held four sessions of Wiki Ed office hours in which instructors are able to chat with Wiki Ed staff to discuss any aspect of the assignment. We also hired Shalor Toncray to serve as Wikipedia Content Expert for our courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Finally, we released two new discipline-specific brochures to help students contribute more effectively to articles on books and films.

Since Fall 2014, we’ve more than tripled the number of courses participating in the Classroom Program in which instructors assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their coursework. As a result, thousands of students have had the opportunity to improve Wikipedia’s often neglected academic content, while improving their digital literacy skills. While it’s been relatively easy to quantify how are students are impacting Wikipedia, it has been more difficult to assess how contributing to Wikipedia is impacting our students. To answer this question, we conducted a research study during the Fall 2016 term to assess the student learning outcomes of Wikipedia assignments. We recently released the results of the study, and while this is just a starting point, we can report that students who contribute to Wikipedia improve their digital literacy skills, learn how to communicate for a public audience, and are more motivated by and satisfied with their Wikipedia contributions than traditional writing assignments.

The beginning of the Spring 2017 term also marked the close of the Wikipedia Year of Science in which we focused our efforts on improving science content on Wikipedia. During the initiative we supported 287 courses and over 6300 students in the physical and social sciences. The Year of Science was an incredible learning experience for us, and you can find the full retrospective here. We remain committed to improving science content on Wikipedia, and during the Spring 2017 term, we supported 222 courses in the sciences.

As we begin planing for the Fall 2017 term, we’re implementing changes based on this past year so we can continue improving the quality of student learning experiences, instructor support, and the content we add to Wikipedia. We’ll continue the important work of the Year of Science as well as continue to develop students’ digital literacy skills through our Classroom Program. Finally, we’ll continue to incorporate feedback from instructors to refine our tools and resources further.

Photo: Global Feminist Art class at University of Washington, 2015-04-23 04 by User:Ragesoss – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0.

by Helaine Blumenthal at July 19, 2017 05:42 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Join Wikimedia volunteers and free knowledge leaders for Wikimania 2017 in Montréal

Photo by Alain Carpentier, edited by Sting, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Registration is open for Wikimania 2017, the annual conference celebrating Wikipedia and its sister free knowledge projects. The event will take place in Montréal, Canada from 9–13 August, the first time ever in Canada. Free knowledge leaders and hundreds of volunteer editors will come together at the Centre Sheraton Montréal for three days of talks, discussions, meetups, training, and workshops.

At this event, the biggest wiki gathering of the year, attendees will discuss the advancement of free knowledge, the role of academia, cultural institutions, and technology in free knowledge, privacy and digital rights, and the future of the Wikimedia movement. The conference’s programming spans a diverse range of topics, from modeling and ingesting performing arts-related data into Wikidata to evaluating the impact of journals on Wikipedia (and dozens more).

This year’s conference—which is co-organized by the local independent affiliate organization, Wikimedia Canada and the Wikimedia Foundation— will also present a unique opportunity for participants to engage in Wikimedia 2030: a global consultation to define Wikimedia’s future role in the world. Over the past six months, hundreds of volunteer editors, Wikimedia affiliates, experts, researchers, donors, readers, and partners have joined the conversation to consider what the world will look like in 2030, and what we want to achieve as a free knowledge movement. At Wikimania 2017, participants will be able to join in-person sessions and conversations to discuss what we’ve learned so far and where we want to go in the future.

What you’ll find at this year’s Wikimania

Andrew Lih (User:Fuzheado), who has attended every Wikimania since 2005, says that he’s learned something new every time he’s attended Wikimania. “No matter the logistical complications, there has never been a bad Wikimania because the people in the community are so incredibly interesting and productive,” he says. “Just getting them together in one room always yields great collaborations.”

This year, Andrew says he’s particularly looking forward to the first time French has been a significant part of any Wikimania conference. “We’re collaborating with the Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec (BAnQ) during the event, as they have expressed interest in projects beyond just Wikipedia—in Wikisource and Wikidata,” he says. A keynote speech will feature Frédéric Giuliano, the Archivist-Coordinator at BAnQ, in conversation with Hélène Laverdure, Curator and Director General of the National Archives at BAnQ.

Other keynote speakers include:

  • Susan N. Herman, the President of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Jimmy Wales in conversation with Gabriella Coleman, the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University, facilitated by Evan Prodromou, an Internet entrepreneur and wiki and software developer based in Montréal.
  • Esra’a Al Shafei, a Bahraini human rights activist and outspoken defender of free speech, and founder of Majal.org, a network of online platforms that amplify under-reported and marginalized voices.
  • Katherine Maher the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and its sister projects, in conversation with Christophe “schiste” Henner,  Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In addition, there are more than 100 community-submitted talks and more than a dozen workshops on topics including making access affordable, collaboration under censorship, and legal threats to free knowledge. Wikimedia Canada will also feature programming related to Canada’s cultural heritage and free knowledge communities.

“Wikimedia Canada members will present inspiring projects at Wikimania 2017, the result of successful collaborations with several Canadian public and private institutions,” explains Wikimedia Canada president Benoit Rochon. “The archives of BAnQ (Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec) on Wikimedia Commons which have been viewed more than 30 million times, the first Aboriginal encyclopedia in Canada (Atikamekw, one of the largest and still active First Nations language) on Wikipedia and the WikiMed conference are all unique accomplishments we will proudly share with the international Wikimania participants.”

Wikimania registration is now available through the Wikimania registration page.

Remote Participation

If you cannot attend Wikimania in person, there are still opportunities to follow along. Select sessions will be livestreamed throughout the conference on YouTube and Facebook Live on the Wikipedia Facebook page; more information will be available in early August. You can also follow @Wikimania and the hashtag #wikimania on Twitter. We will round up presentations and highlights for both Meta and our blog after the conference ends.

Melody Kramer, Senior Audience Development Manager, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

by Melody Kramer at July 19, 2017 04:48 PM

Going GNU

ILUGC Hackathon – 2 – Wikipedia Hackathon – July 23, 2017

Announcing our second hackathon on July 23. This time it is all about Wikipedia.

Venue :

Hexolabs Interactive Tech Pvt Ltd, Type II/17, Dr.VSI Estate,
Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 41. Phone – 044 42169699  Near NIFT, Opposite
to Origin Towers.


Date : July 23, 2017
Time : 10.00 AM – 5.00 PM


* Bring your laptop
* Knowledge in any programming language


* To bring any internet device like dongle or 4g smartphone to get your own internet, as there is limited speed in available internet


Exploring these links and installing them is desired.

Installing medaiwiki-


wikitools – Python Library

Mediawiki API https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/API:Main_page

Gadgets https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Gadget_kitchen

Hack Ideas:

If you, or Tamil or any other language wiki needs any programming solutions, share the ideas here.

Examples :
1. Report of contributions of all TN school teachers. Usernames will
start as TNSE. Need a report like https://ta.wikipedia.org/s/6s9e

2. Fixing the titles, moving the pages automatically, if they have
errors on page title.

3. Install Tamil TTS – https://www.iitm.ac.in/donlab/tts/index.php
and try to use it for wiki pages.

Registration :

To register, add your name in the following wiki page.

If you dont know tamil, just mail me your interest to attend.


T Shrinivasan  tshrinivasan@gmail.com 98417 9546 Eight

by tshrinivasan at July 19, 2017 04:40 AM

July 18, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Introducing training modules: Multilingual resources for combating harassment

Photo by Rey Ramon/US Air Force, public domain.

When incidents of online harassment or abusive behavior arise across our movement, community leaders and functionaries often need to make difficult judgment calls.

To help community leaders arbitrate and resolve these incidents, the Wikimedia Foundation Support and Safety team is launching six online training modules for functionaries and community governance groups to use as a resource.

These multilingual resources, designed in conjunction with community leaders from across the movement, are intended to help community leaders respond consistently to harassment or abuse both online and off, and cover topics related to keeping events safe and managing online harassment. In this post, we’ll detail how the modules were designed, what they contain, and how to learn more.

Designing the modules

The six training modules were purposefully designed using a community-centered approach: Communities have the best insight into their own projects, speak the language of their projects, and are on the front lines when dealing with incidents of online and offline harassment.

Responses to the 2015 harassment survey suggested that improving Wikimedia’s governance  and creating standardized information about harassment and abuse was of great interest to the community.

Work on the training modules began by launching a series of multilingual surveys. We asked key community groups about the challenges they have faced with harassment, how their current workflows and tools help or hinder them in dealing with abuse, and, if warranted, what they considered effective methods of training.

Several dozen members of various Wikimedia communities responded, and these responses indicated the challenges currently facing stewards, administrators, Arbitration Committee members, and others responsible for mediating and resolving issues with user interactions.

We also reached out to outside academics and industry professionals who research or work in the fields of online collaboration and community health. They provided us their thoughts on what content to include, as well as the best methods to deliver this type of training.

In addition to these direct surveys and interviews, we invited opinion on what form these training modules should take, where they should be hosted, and how they should be presented. Should they be long-form, detailed modules, or presented in shorter, more easily digestible chunks?

Responses indicated a preference for these training modules to be presented as “slides”—short-to-medium-length interactive sections concerning specific topics that could be individually linked to and shared.

We assessed Meta-Wiki and the “Training” setup there, but determined that both were not effective for presenting this type of information. However, the Program and Events Dashboard checked all of the necessary boxes: training can be interactive, accessible—and, crucially, available in multiple languages.

The Support and Safety team would like to use this opportunity to thank Sage Ross of the Wiki Education Foundation, who worked tirelessly to help adapt the Dashboard to host these training modules. His work truly made this project possible.

Now, it was time to really dive into the content.

Creating the content

Starting in October 2016, the Support and Safety team spent three months working on content, focusing on two distinct topics—”Keeping Events Safe” and “Dealing With Online Harassment“.

The first drafts of both modules covered the vast intricacies of harassment on the Wikimedia projects. Once they were complete, we asked for feedback about the drafts from the Wikimedia community. The feedback helped us narrow our focus and really think about what content needed to be included.

As a result, we split the original training model for “Dealing with Online Harassment” into five separate subsections:

  1. Harassment fundamentals
  2. Other forms of harassment
  3. Communication best practices
  4. Handling reports
  5. Closing cases

The content was then marked up for translation on Meta-Wiki. The Dashboard is set up so that translated text on Meta-Wiki can be imported into the Dashboard, which allows for the usual translation method to also apply here. This meant that translators don’t have to leave Meta-Wiki to translate content. This feature allow allowed the Dashboard to use Translate Extension’s features such as Aggregate Groups, which allow multiple related pages to be translated at the same time.

Some translation has been completed by staff or contractors as time permits, while other translation has been provided by the incredible volunteer translator community.

We’d like to thank the many volunteers who have worked on this effort. Hebrew is now totally translated (by User:Lionster), while Satdeep Gill translated the vast majority of content into Hindi. Polish is three-quarters done, and Vietnamese is more than halfway to completion. Other languages, such as Japanese, Arabic, Greek, Dutch, and Bangla are quite far along the road to completed translations.

We on the Support and Safety Team would like to use this blog post-slash-announcement to give our heartfelt thanks to those involved with translations. These modules contained a lot of text, and we understand that much of it was very wiki-focused and detailed. This sort of content is by no means easy to translate, so we fully appreciate all of those who took the effort to develop these modules for use in their home communities.

If your language isn’t covered, you can help! Links to translate each module are on Meta-Wiki.

How to learn more

The Support and Safety team will have representatives in attendance at Wikimania in Montréal, where we’ll be talking about the training modules and the process behind them. We’ll also be introducing documentation on how to create modules from scratch, as well as advising contributors on what the modules might be best-used for. We hope you’ll join us there. We can also be reached at ca@wikimedia.org with questions or comments and will do our best to assist.

Joe Sutherland, Community Advocate, Community Engagement
Wikimedia Foundation

This blog post has been updated to highlight the Wiki Education Foundation’s assistance in implementing these modules.

by Joe Sutherland at July 18, 2017 04:53 PM

Wikimedia UK

Welsh music is No.1 on Commons

Welsh Record company releases seven thousand sound clips to Wikimedia Commons on an open licence.

Article by Jason Evans, Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales

Wales, or ‘The land of song’ as it has been coined, is a country famous for its love of music. This tiny nation has given us some of the world’s greatest musicians. From Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey to bands like Catatonia, Stereophonics and the Manic Street Preachers, Wales has a long tradition of producing musical megastars.

Now the Welsh Music industry are also open access trailblazers after Sain Records, Wales’ largest record producer, agreed to release thousands of sound clips to Wikimedia Commons on a CC-BY-SA licence.

Just a few of the many albums included in the release.

The project saw the record label partner with Wicipedia Cymraeg editors, Wikimedia UK, the Welsh Government and the National Library of Wales to bring Welsh music to Wikipedia’s audience of 500 million readers. Over 7000 thirty second audio clips and 498 album covers are now available on the Wikimedia Commons website.

This is an exciting venture, and places Sain (Records) at the forefront of open access to free knowledge.

It now means that worldwide editors will be able to use these files to create and update Wikipedia articles on singers, songs, music bands, groups and choirs including household names such as Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Mary Hopkin‎ as well as works by composers such as Karl Jenkins.

Lona Mason, Head of The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales said: “The National Library of Wales is delighted to work in partnership with the Welsh Government, the Apton website and Sain (Records) on this important project. This is great news for Welsh music collectors and enthusiasts all over the world, and will be an important platform to enable people to share and enjoy the variety of Sain (Records) audio and album covers from years gone by.”

Robin Owain, from Wikimedia UK, said, “No other record company has shared as many songs with the world as Sain Records. The Wikimedia community will now be able to add these sound-clips on Wikipedia articles in over 295 languages – showing the world that we are not only a ‘musical nation’, but also at the cutting edge of information technology.”

Wikipedia is rich with photographs and artworks but there are desperately few clips of the world’s rich and diverse music back catalogue. For now Wales is top of the charts in terms of providing free access to its musical archive. It is hoped that this unparalleled open access release will act as a catalyst for similar releases around the world.

by John Lubbock at July 18, 2017 03:57 PM


New SubGenius documentary coming!

When X-Day happened on July 5 1998 I was living in Dallas, which was a holy city for the Church of the SubGenius. Leading up to X-Day various evangelists had graffiti’d the face of J.R. “Bob” Dobbs on everything, everywhere around. I acquired some religious pamphlets and took to the faith. I have been a SubGenius ever since and am happy to be registered in the Book of Humans. I just saw that there is an upcoming SubGenius documentary in development and I am excited for it.

I met “Bob” more than once. When I saw his face I should have recognized him. At the time, I thought he was just some guy and only realized who he was in hindsight.

One time when I met him I was at a coffeehouse on my computer. “Bob” came in and asked me if he could borrow my laptop because he urgently had to edit an article on Wikipedia. Normally I would not let a stranger do this, but I nodded and he took my laptop into the restroom. I was not paying attention at first but there was only the one toilet, and when a line began to form, people started commenting that whoever was in there was repeatedly flushing the toilet in an aggressive way.

When he came out of the restroom a cloud of smoke billowed into the coffeeshop from behind the the just opened door. Suddenly, everyone who had been in line for the restroom no longer needed relief, and instead, most of them got in line for coffee and scones. “Bob” did not give my computer back to me, but somehow as “Bob” was running to exit my computer did come to be back in front of me without him returning it. It was on the logout screen of Wikipedia so I do not know what he edited but it also had opened a mapping application and seemed to have been searching for the location of the coffeehouse which he was already inside.

Since I had not yet realized that I had encountered “Bob”, I asked the barista if they knew who he was. They replied that they did not, but that when they first saw him they knew exactly what he was about to do. Hours later I told a friend what happened, and when I told the story, I blurted out that I saw “Bob” at the coffeehouse. Before I said this I had not even realized that it was “Bob”, but once the words came out of my mouth, then I realized EVERYTHING.

Through the Church of the SubGenius I took up with a series of great religious leaders and it was a miracle that I endured. The Universal Life Church and its Wiki-style approach to religion is still an inspiration to me and I still have hopes that Theo Chocolate will hold true to its religious roots and advance the SubGenius agenda for spiritual freedom. “Bob” never helped me with these things but I mistakenly thought that he would, so I suppose the misconceptions which inspired me about these situations were still a sort of assistance from “Bob”.

by bluerasberry at July 18, 2017 01:44 AM

July 17, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Combating misinformation, fake news, and censorship

Photo by Jamain, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Few people have faced the dangerous consequences of unresolved conflict as personally as Ingrid Betancourt did in 2002, when the then-presidential candidate was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for six years. She now encourages others to protect free knowledge and credible sources as an advocate for peace.

Betancourt recently told the Wikimedia Foundation that she believes that “values are important in the spreading of free knowledge. … Fake news is dangerous. Spinning the news is very dangerous. You can distort information to obtain a result.” One of the biggest threats to trustworthy information starts with how people evaluate sources (read how Wikipedians do it). Some may focus on content created with a profit motive, others point to government-controlled propaganda, while others say the problem starts with fake news (the subject of a recent discussion at Yale University attended by members of the Wikimedia legal team).

With so many different aspects to focus on (or neglect), misinformation threatens to delay all kinds of efforts to strengthen trustworthy knowledge across political and social divides.

Thinking about misinformation in two ways: content and access

As part of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, researchers at Lutman and Associates and Dot Connector Studio assessed over one hundred reports, articles, and studies to review how misinformation threatens the future of free knowledge. The assessments include dozens of powerful examples of how misinformation can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

The researchers had a big task set out for them, so they divided and conquered the broad scope of misinformation trends by splitting the matter into two categories: first, a “content” category which focuses on trends that affect sources used by Wikimedians to develop reliable information and an “access” category, which refers to “how and whether Wikipedia users are able to use the platform.” Their framework allows for the comparison of different sources (technology, government/politics, and commerce) which fuel disruption of verifiable source usage and access to trustworthy information.

Consider how the sources of reliable information (in this framework, that’s the content category) is influenced by misinformation that is created and/or shared by governments and political groups, for example:

This spread of misinformation online is occurring despite recent growth in the number of organizations dedicated to fact-checking: world-wide, at least 114 “dedicated fact-checking teams” are working in 47 countries.

Looking into the future, what’s safe to expect? First, global freedom of expression will wax and wane depending on national and international political developments. Less clear is whether global trends toward autocracy will continue—or whether free societies will have a resurgence, grappling successfully with pressures on the press and academy, and the politicization of facts as merely individual biased perspectives.

Second, we can expect that politically motivated disinformation and misinformation campaigns will always be with us. Indeed, the phenomenon of “fake news,” misinformation, or “alternative facts” can be traced to some of the earliest recorded history, with examples dating back to ancient times.

The Wikimedia movement will need to remain nimble and editors become well-versed in the always-morphing means by which information can be misleading or falsified. It will be helpful to keep abreast of techniques developed and used by journalists and researchers when verifying information, such as those described in the Verification Handbook, available in several languages.

While they were tasked to inform the Wikimedia community about the prospects for future trustworthy knowledge, the researchers’ insights may also provide materials and insights for discussions held by other professionals challenged with misinformation and falsified materials, including researchers and academics, journalists, policy-makers and thinkers.

For Betancourt, ensuring “equality among human beings” requires us to talk to people we disagree with. While it may appear to be a counter-intuitive method, finding common ground is an essential part of establishing the guidelines of trustworthy knowledge-sharing in politically toxic environments. In her experience as a real-life hostage, “not talking or refusing to communicate… was a worse attitude than communicating.”

How can the Wikipedia community combat misinformation and censorship in the decades to come? The researchers offered their own suggestions, and we invite you to join us to discuss the challenges posed by this and other research.

Margarita Noriega, Strategy Consultant, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Chart by Blanca Flores/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0.

by Margarita Noriega at July 17, 2017 08:21 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #29, 2017 (July 17, 2017)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2017, week 29 (Monday 17 July 2017) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
العربية • ‎čeština • ‎English • ‎español • ‎فارسی • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎日本語 • ‎ಕನ್ನಡ • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎русский • ‎svenska • ‎українська • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎中文

July 17, 2017 12:00 AM

July 16, 2017

David Gerard

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: out July 24!

My book Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, blockchain, Ethereum and smart contracts will be released Monday 24 July 2017. You can pre-order it for Kindle (UK store, US store — available worldwide for £4.99, paperback coming soon). Facebook page. Right now I’m working on final final final revisions, and trying to get LibreOffice and Calibre to play nice together …

by David Gerard at July 16, 2017 08:42 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata Tool - The #Awarder

The Awarder is a tool I use everyday to add people known to have received the award to Wikidata. Its use is straight forward:
  • find a list of award winners, a list that includes the person and the year it was conferred
  • copy the source text into the awarder
  • identify the wiki the data is from
  • identify the award by its Wikidata identifier.
  • open the results in "quick statements" for processing. 
Easy. When done properly the result is as good as the information from the Wikipedia it came from.

There are a few points. Some lists, like the one on the John Wesley Powell award, have the year on a line and the data is implied for the following text. The results is ten people identified. There are a few red links in there for instance for "George M. Hornberger" and Awarder has identified him so that I can click on a button to find him in Wikidata. As I did not, I added him in Wikidata for later processing. Awarder does not identify organisations as award winners so I had to add the identifier for for instance the "California Department of Transportation". John Galetzka is the award winner for 2016. He is a "black link" so I identified him in the tool with brackets and as a result I could add him as well.

For fifteen award winners it is now known that they won the award. Slowly but surely it adds to the relevance of these people in Wikidata and the missing award winners become easier to identify for the implied notability.

PS thank you Magnus for a great tool

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 16, 2017 03:41 PM

July 15, 2017

Wikimedia UK

A message from Josie Fraser, new Wikimedia UK Chair

Josie Fraser at the Wikimedia UK 2017 AGM – image by John Lubbock

I am delighted to have become the new chair of Wikimedia UK at today’s AGM. I was initially elected to serve as a trustee in July 2015, and re-elected to serve a further term last year until 2019. Over the last two years I’ve been privileged to be able serve the organisation through both the formal duties of a Trustee and as a volunteer. In addition to my main Board duties, I’ve been a member of the Governance Committee and the Partnership Advisory Board, and have helped organise education conferences.  While this may sound a little dry to those of you who aren’t keen on committee work, it’s been a delight and a pleasure to belong and to contribute to the community. Our volunteers, staff and trustees are a fascinating and constantly inspiring group. I get to work with an expert Trustee team and CEO that share a strong sense of responsibility and professionalism, and are as thoughtful as they are fun – a rare combination. I’m honoured to have their confidence.

The passion and commitment to openness which permeates our whole community helps make Wikimedia UK one of the leading organisations in the global Wikimedia and open knowledge movement. It’s been a privilege to support the work of members, volunteers, and employees in realising both the organisation’s potential and our collective vision to make the world a fairer place by providing free access to unbiased and reliable knowledge to all. The global communities that support Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects are a powerful force for social good, benefiting people and communities worldwide every day.

Michael Maggs has been a consistently excellent Chair since 2013, and a hard act for anyone to follow. He’s provided fair, intelligent and debonair leadership, and I’ll be working hard to do him justice. I’m incredibly grateful – as is everyone who gets to work with him – for his sterling commitment to the charity, and very happy that he is willing to continue to support us as a Trustee and to mentor me.

I look forward to continuing to meet and get to know more of our community, and to contribute to the growth and visibility of our amazing organisation and people as Chair. If you haven’t already, do take a look at the 2016-17 Annual Report to see some of what we have achieved in the past year.

by Josie Fraser at July 15, 2017 05:20 PM

July 14, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

WikiWomenCamp kicks off to bring more inclusivity to Wikipedia

Photo by Carolina De Luna/Wikimedia Mexico, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimedia Mexico invited women from all over the world to Mexico City with a question and a challenge: What does a truly inclusive Wikimedia movement look like, and how do we attain it?

The camp dived straight into collaboration, endeavoring to topple one monumental barrier for thousands of editors: Wikipedia’s ever-pervasive gender gap.

Five years in the making, the meetup brought together an all-star team of contributors from every corner of the movement, without whom the event would not have been possible:

  • Wikimedia México secretary Carmen Alcázar, who runs Editatona, an ongoing editathon just for women
  • Anna Torres, executive director Wikimedia Argentina, who played a huge part in planning this year’s WWC
  • Emily Temple-Wood, who writes about women scientists in spite of (and sometimes because) a horde of trolls
  • María Sefidari, among the newest member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, welcomed dozens of editors and Foundation staff, including executive director Katherine Maher, who fielded an hour’s worth of Q&A with the community.
  • Mexican volunteers—lawyers, chefs, emcees, and many, many more—who were instrumental in keeping the event running smoothly

The importance of women’s participation in editing Wikipedia was already common knowledge among the over 50 WikiWomen in attendance. After all, according to WikiProject Women in Red, less than 20% of Wikipedia’s contributions are from women, and LGBTQ members of the community report feeling excluded—or worse, endangered—by daring to contribute.

The community is working together to combat this trend: Volunteers lead initiatives like Editatona and Women in Red continue to move the needle every day, and Foundation employees have been intensifying their efforts to combat online harassment and increase diversity on Wikipedia, especially during Women’s History Month.

That’s why a large portion of the event was reserved for building better support systems, online and off. Whose voices are we missing from the movement, for example? Who are we inadvertently silencing? How can we make editing safer for trans Wikipedians, who often edit anonymously for fear of being harassed or doxxed online? Wikimedia México even hired translators from Tlatolli Ollin, armed with extensive backgrounds in supporting women’s rights in digital spaces.

Photo by Blossom Ozurumba, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The meetup challenged everyone to offer more than just support: more often than not, women were excited to band together in small sessions, learning as much as they could from (and about) each other before the inevitable end of the weekend.

An introductory course on Wikidata, breakout sessions on incorporating editing skills in education, and over a dozen lightning talks inspired each other to start online groups and communities that will hopefully thrive long after WikiWomenCamp has come to an end.

On top of learning new skills and building a stronger offline community, WikiWomenCamp was a fantastic opportunity to talk strategy. Adele Vrana, the Wikimedia Foundation’s director of strategic partnerships, invited the community to tell the Foundation in no uncertain terms what was working, and what isn’t. The responses championed the need for greater connectedness to the movement and each other.

Aubrie Johnson, Social Media Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

by Aubrie Johnson at July 14, 2017 11:48 PM

Wikimedia UK

How Wikipedia found itself at the centre of a major corruption scandal in Pakistan

Maryam Nawaz Sharif – image by Junaidro via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Written by Saqib Qayyum – Pakistani Wikimedian

On the early morning of July 11th, as a controversy developed in Pakistan over the release date of a Microsoft typeface, Calibri, unidentified individuals (both supporters and opponents of the Government of Pakistan) rushed on to Wikipedia’s Calibri entry to amend the information about the font’s release date.

Documents handed over to an investigation team by Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister’s daughter, were found to be typed in Calibri. The documents were dated as 2006, but the Wikipedia article noted the commercial release date being in 2007. The documents pertain to an ongoing corruption investigation into the business dealings of the Sharif family and their offshore bank accounts, which were revealed by the Panama Papers.

Supporters of the government insisted that the font was released prior to 2006 but opponents repeatedly changed the release date to 2007. As per an earlier version, the article stated that the font was designed in 2004 but was released to the public in 2007. The designer of the font later himself confirmed that though he started working on the font in 2004, it was released for internal purposes at Microsoft in or around 2006 and for commercial purpose in 2007.

As I am part of Wikipedia’s counter-vandalism team, I have been engaged in the reverting of unverified information being added to the Calibri page by anonymous users. But as the edit war grew and the sensitivity of the issue became obvious, I had to ask an administrator to lock the page to restrict any further edits in order to avoid misleading information being spread outside of Wikipedia.

Page view statistics for the Calibri article

But perhaps my clean up of the page and most importantly shutting down open editing of the Calibri entry has made Wikipedia and me a part of a major corruption case surrounding the Government of Pakistan. Since my name is prominent on the revision history page, many people, especially opponents of the government (which includes a major opposition party that brought the corruption case to court), assumed that I was the one tampering with the release date (removing release date 2007) and accused me of being pro-government. But on the contrary I was actually removing the unverified release date (2004/2006) which was being added by pro-government users. Following the Wikipedia page being protected, social media went crazy and the news went viral on Pakistani channels.

The Guardian noted that people praised Wikipedia for its quick action to lock the page, and I hope that this experience is an important example of how quickly establishing a disputed fact can stop Wikipedia itself from being dragged into a political dispute. As well as answering people’s ordinary questions, we should remember that sometimes, important political issues can depend on establishing the facts about a particular subject.

And while after this ‘Fontgate’, calls for the removal of Prime Minister have become stronger, it is yet to be seen whether as something as ordinary as a font can bring down the government of Pakistan as many publications have suggested.


For anybody interested in the details of the details of the edits that I made, they are as follows:

In my 1st edit, I removed unreliable sources, even though if they were supporting the release year 2007.

In my 2nd edit, I added a few Reliable Sources (RS) which were supporting the year 2007, and added a reference to the corruption case which was noted by Quartz

In my 3rd edit, I added the [[Category:2007 introductions]] and removed [[Category:2005 introductions]]

In my 4th edit, I reverted the font release date from 2006 to 2007.

In my 5th edit, I reverted the edit which removed the verified information that I added in my second edit.

In my 6th edit, I removed the information which said the font was created in 2007, and added that it was actually created in 2004.

In my last edit, i added in the side box the font release year as 2007 and the page was locked.

by John Lubbock at July 14, 2017 03:07 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 364



The company Mapcat from Hungary (here its map portal) is a new competitor in the market for map tiles, routing and geocoding. 1 | © OpenStreetMap contributors, ODbL, © MapCat, © Wikipedia


  • Bing updated (de) (automatic translation) its imagery for large parts of Germany on the 11 & 12th of July. It is not known (yet) if this only affects Germany. The new imagery is at a lower resolution and its offset should be checked before using it by comparing it with other permitted imagery sources and the available GPS tracks!
  • Argentina’s national mapping agency IGN made some of their aerial imagery available for OSM mapping. Presets are available already in JOSM, but a little more time is needed for the services themselves.
  • The tagging mailing list attempts to pinpoint the meaning of the word “office” (at least for mapping purposes), with the consequence of questioning many other definitions.
  • Steve All reported on the Talk-US mailing list that there are differences between the data of the US Census bureau and the states for administrative boundaries. This also means that some boundaries in OSM have incorrect admin_level tags. Update: please see also Steve’s comment below.
  • John Whelan talks in his blog post about how the recent Stats Canada Building import into OSM came about and how the origins lie in OC Transpo’s efforts to improve accessibility for their partially sighted riders some years ago.
  • Richard Fairhurst explains how you can easily capture the height of bridges using aerial imagery together with photographs from Mapillary, OpenStreetCam and, in the British Isles, Geograph. A video of a notorious low bridge in Durham, NC, emphasises why this is so important for HGV routing. Thanks to Jeff for the correction
  • User Trockennaseaffe is busy mapping (de) ticket validator machines. He encountered OpenStationMap’s proposed tagging vending=ticket_validator, but he was encouraged to use the clearer amenity=ticket_validator instead.
  • Simon Poole publishes OSM statistics for the second quarter of 2017, and includes a new metric of Edits per month.


  • Jinal Foflia writes a Mapbox blog showcasing this year’s State of the Map conferences around the world. This map was made using the GeoJSON that contained the location co-ordinates of all the event venues, the icons from the various SotM and their respective websites. You can refer to this example for doing something similar.
  • All other rendering issues having been resolved, discussion over at OSM-Carto’s GitHub issues turns to whether a submarine is a ship.
  • Sukhjit Singh Sehra et al. published a paper about the analysis of the abstracts of 485 papers about OSM from 2007 to 2016. They used latent semantic analysis to identify research trends regarding OpenStreetMap.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • Voting for OSM-Awards 2017 in all categories will start on July 16.


  • FOSS4G 2017 HOKKAIDO took place in Sapporo (Hokkaido, Japan) on the 30th of June and 1st of July. The event was a hands-on day and a case presentation day. They were a great success on both. Check the videos and Twitter summary. (ja)
  • User Andrea Musuruane proposes (it) a mapping party in Viverone (Biella, Italy), co-organised with local Linux user groups.
  • OSM Geography Awareness Week, that will take place in many locations around the world in November, is already in action – check the map for an event near you, or propose one yourself!
  • SotM Africa took place in Kampala, Uganda from the 8th to the 10th of July. Several tweets point to a great event with great success. We’ll report published blogs or recordings of the lectures as soon as they become available.
  • Wikimedia Italia has organised (it) a two-day event in Spoleto (Umbria, Italy) on the 21st and 22nd of July dedicated to OSM and open data. The program includes talks about open (geo)data and public administrations, hiking maps, OSM and Wikipedia, and a full day for the mapping party.
  • The call for venues for SotM 2018 is closed. Two candidates have applied: Heidelberg and Milan (Milan also applied last year).
  • Do you plan to attend SotM in Japan? This post on the OSM blog provides useful information about visa procedures.

Humanitarian OSM

  • After the two mapathons in Uganda and Istanbul (we reported) was examined to what extent the refugees could be involved in field mapping. The results were presented by HOT on a UNHCR meeting.


  • Created in 2014, TeachOSM is an online resource to assist educators at all levels to introduce open source mapping using OpenStreetMap in the classroom. You can find mapping assignments, documentation and case studies. Do you have teaching material to share? This page explains how to contribute.


  • Mapcat is a new OSM- and Wikipedia-based mapping portal from Hungary that is catering to users internationally. The cat-pun-heavy introduction provides information about what they’re doing now and what they plan to do in the future.
  • OpenRouteService comes once again this week with an innovation! A new experimental “Quiet Routing” option is integrated into the LABS.OpenRouteService.org. It can generate routes that avoid noisy areas. This is adding to the “healthy” (stress reducing) routing theme, that has been introduced recently starting with the “prefer green areas” routing option. Both options can now be weighted dynamically. OSM data is also used for modeling the noise levels along the road.
  • Mapzen used the tangram engine to produce a futuristic-looking 3D map. Especially in large cities, the design looks like as it were from a science fiction movie. See New York or Birmingham.



  • Andy Allan has joined the maintainers’ team for the OSM website. He aims to continue his work on refactoring, streamline issue processing, and communication to end users, including the moderation queue. Welcome Andy!
  • As reported last week, there have been problems caused by SEO spammers, especially in the USA. On Talk-US, Frederik Ramm published the Perl scripts that he used to identify likely candidates (just one edit, heavy use of certain unusual tags).
  • The GIScience Research Group of the University of Heidelberg is looking for a “Software Engineer Geoinformation Technology/OpenStreetMap”. The job is limited until June 2019.


Version 0.9 of the Graphhopper routing engine was released on May 31. There are a couple of highlights: public transport routing, and a new “hybrid mode” which is intended to support fast routing queries as well as support for turn costs and restrictions. Graphhopper is now also available on osm.org as a car profile, in addition to the existing bicycle & pedestrian profiles.

New releases are listed as usual on the OSM Software Watchlist. Here are some highlights:

    • JOSM 12450 | 02.07.2017 | Among others, better audio mapping support and addition of automatic filter buttons
    • ID 2.3.1 | 11.07.2017 | Changelog on GitHub.
    • OSRM Backend 5.8.1 | 01.07.2017
    • Mapillary Android 3.65 | 03.07.2017
    • Kurviger Free 1.1.3 | 04.07.2017

Did you know …

Other “geo” things

  • Tanja Pfeffer, a student of the Hochschule Karlsruhe, has designed (de) a map that changes projection according to zoom level. Check it here!
  • Mundialis offers a printing service that features satellite images as art compositions.
  • Forbes.at reported on Mapillary and the competition of the company with Google in terms of the self-driving cars.
  • Google Maps have made it easier for users to add missing data to places. This will enable the collection (de) of more information on accessibility in restaurants and shops.
  • The International Cartographic Conference was held last week (2-7 July) in Washington, DC. Papers from thematic streams on Disaster Mapping (Cartography in Early Warning and Crisis Management), Mountain Cartography, Maps and Graphics for Blind and Partially-sighted People may be of particular interest.
  • Philipp Kandal, Senior Vice President of TeleNav mentioned, at ConCarExpo 2017 in Berlin, the work of his company using OSM data to improve navigation for autonomous cars.
  • UNESCO has expanded its World Heritage List to additional natural and cultural heritage sites. One of these new listings, the English Lake District, is controversially suggested to be very damaging. By the way: one can find cultural heritage sites on the Historic Place Map. If they aren’t there yet, it is a good opportunity to map them. 😉
  • Have you ever wondered how the glacial features called roches moutonnées got their name? The Atlantic explains the complicated story.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Seattle Complete The Map Challenge, Mapillary image mapping 2017-06-23-2017-07-31 united states
Tokyo 東京!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第10回 向島百花園 2017-07-15 japan
Łódź Spotkanie sympatyków OpenStreetMap i Walne Stowarzyszenia 2017-07-15 poland
Managua Repubikla Mapping Party 2017-07-15 nicaragua
Accra Africa Open Data Conference Mapathon 2017-07-17 ghana
Bonn Bonner Stammtisch 2017-07-18 germany
Lüneburg Mappertreffen Lüneburg 2017-07-18 germany
Nottingham Nottingham Pub Meetup 2017-07-18 united kingdom
Scotland Edinburgh 2017-07-18 united kingdom
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) FOSS4G Europe 2017 at ENSG Cité Descartes 2017-07-18-2017-07-22 france
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) Mapathon Missing Maps @FOSS4G, ENSG Cité Descartes 2017-07-19 france
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2017-07-19 germany
Leoben Stammtisch Obersteiermark 2017-07-20 austria
Urspring Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2017-07-20 germany
Spoleto OpenStreetMap e open data a Spoleto 2017-07-21-2017-07-22 italy
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2017-07-24 germany
Graz Stammtisch Graz 2017-07-24 austria
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2017-07-25 germany
Dusseldorf Stammtisch Düsseldorf 2017-07-26 germany
Itami 【西国街道#08】オープンデータソンin伊丹「有岡城惣構」 2017-07-29 japan
Tokyo 東京!街歩かない!マッピングバーティ2 2017-07-29 japan
Managua Editathon with iD 2017-07-29 nicaragua
Boston FOSS4G 2017 2017-08-14-2017-08-19 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 (international conference) 2017-08-18-2017-08-20 japan
Patan State of the Map Asia 2017 2017-09-23-2017-09-24 nepal
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 2017-10-19-2017-10-22 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 2017-10-23-2017-10-28 argentina
Brussels FOSS4G Belgium 2017 2017-10-26 belgium
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 2017-11-29-2017-12-02 perú

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Anne Ghisla, Nakaner, Peda, Polyglot, SK53, SomeoneElse, Spec80, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, k_zoar, seumas.

by weeklyteam at July 14, 2017 07:57 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata VS #Wikipedia - the issue with input, output

I was told that I should not talk about quality because "on the basis of my work I did not give a good example". Basically I was told to stop what I am doing. As I have written a lot about quality and argued how we can achieve greater quality it is not funny nor is it appreciated but the guy has a point.

With 2,304,191 edits there must be a lot that is wrong in what I have done. No matter how careful I am, the percentage of errors that is to be expected means that with 6% there must be at least some 138,252 errors that I introduced. The problem is that depending on your outlook this is acceptable or it is not. When in stead of me 100 people did the same work, the result would have been the same; together they would have introduced around 138,252 errors as well.

I totally agree that we need to bring our errors down. There are three steps where errors have their origin; input, process and output.
  • My input is based on the Wikipedias; their content all have their own issues. They all operate on their own little islands; there is no or little coordinated effort to make the quality of the information we provide a collective ambition.
  • My process is based on identifying what I want to work on; typically awards, often the enrichment of data around one person. For tools I mainly use what Magnus provides; they provide superior usability. Reasonator makes Wikidata statements intelligible, it provides superior disambiguation and automated descriptions. Awarder adds both the year and the person who received an award. It allows me to effectively cover a lot of ground. They are the tools I use most, others like PetScan are also invaluable.
  • There is too much output I generate and consequently I do not care for individual edits. I justify them all for the process, the routines I follow. I added "Claudia Wills" based on the information in the article of the eponymous award. Like other notable birdwatchers, Mrs Wills does not have her own article and I added her to complement the information on the award.
We share in the sum of knowledge and when the quality of what we provide is to improve, our movement has to become dedicated to the quality of all our information. The typical Wikipedian does mostly care about his or her own project and that is fine; we do not need all of them in an effort to improve our overall quality. The effort I propose can be hidden from view.

A Wikipedia article contains many links; they are blue, red or black. All the blue links are implicitly linked to Wikidata items. Many issues become evident when they can be compared with the links in articles in other Wikipedias or Wikidata. Some Wikis have additional links and they can be mapped to red links and black links. This prevents problems when articles are written with the name suggested in this link.

Once articles on a same subject in many Wikipedias are linked, all kinds of additional functionality become easier; one that is close to my heart is when a new award winner becomes known..

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 14, 2017 05:38 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Bringing the magic of classical music to Ukrainian speakers

Mozart graffiti, 2013. Photo by Vitold Muratov, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Collaboration has reached a new level in Kiev, Ukraine, where professional musicians are bringing the magic of Mozart, Chopin, and more classical composers to Ukrainian speakers and releasing the work under free licenses.

The latest installment in the long-running World Classics in Ukraine (WCU) project came last month. On 18 June, Ukrainian musicians presented parts of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Magic Flute, all operas from Mozart that premiered in the 1780s–90s. On the following day, another set of musicians performed Chopin’s Polish songs, a set of 19 texts that Chopin set to music at various points in the 1800s.

You can hear, watch, read, sing, and download the music for yourself. Audio and video from the performances, along with Ukrainian scores and lyrics, are available on Wikimedia Commons. Their free licenses mean that anyone, anywhere can use the works with a minimum of stipulations, such as attributing the creators and releasing any remixes under a similar copyright license.

Wrapping up one of the concerts. Photo by Василь Шевченко, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Organizer and Ukrainian Wikipedian Andriy Bondarenko says that everyone should have these sorts of works in their native language so that it can make deep connections within an individual. “World Classic in Ukraine’s goal is to give the public access to translations of all the masterpieces of vocal music,” he says.

Obtaining the necessary ingredients for these performances has occasionally proved to be a challenge. The translations for the three Mozart operas performed last month, for example, came from historical translations completed by two people, both by now deceased. WCU project supporters had to work with their heirs to get permission to use the translations, proofread them for accuracy (as some information had been lost over the years), and upload them under free licenses. In another example, WCU was able to collaborate with Olena O’Lear, a well-known Ukrainian translator, to obtain a complete version of Dido and Aeneas.

This hasn’t always been successful. Bondarenko says that the team “managed to find translations of two songs performed by Borys Ten, but because Ten left no heirs, they are both orphan works.”

Still, they soldier on. With the latest recordings, WCU has obtained over 200 minutes of classical music. Bondarenko has hopes to bring this into the dozens or even hundreds of hours over the upcoming years. “The bulk of the great classics have yet to be translated,” he says. “All we need are the translators.”

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Interested in starting a similar project in your own community? Read more about a similar but unrelated initiative in Spain to recruit musicians, record concerts, and release the results under free licenses.

by Ed Erhart at July 14, 2017 04:50 AM

Wikimedia Cloud Services

Toolforge Elasticsearch upgraded to 5.3.2

The shared Elasticsearch cluster hosted in Toolforge was upgraded from 2.3.5 to 5.3.2 today (T164842). This upgrade comes with a lot of breaking API changes for clients and indexes, and should have been announced in advance. @bd808 apologizes for that oversight.

The stashbot, sal, and bash tools have been fixed to work with the new version. They all mostly needed client library upgrades and minor API usage changes due to the library changes. If you are one of the few other users of this cluster and your tool is broken due to the change and you need help fixing it, open a task or better yet come to the #wikimedia-cloud Freenode channel and ask @bd808 for help.

by bd808 (Bryan Davis) at July 14, 2017 12:52 AM

July 13, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: Wikipedia for Peace, editing to celebrate diversity at WorldPride Madrid; news in brief

Photo by Malopez 21, CC BY-SA 4.0.

WorldPride is an international event that aims at promoting LGBT issues by holding parades, festivals, and cultural activities during the celebrations of Stonewall riots anniversary. The event has been held previously in Rome, Jerusalem, London, Toronto, and this year in Madrid, Spain.

We decided to join WorldPride with a Wikipedia event, so that we could help highlight LGBT issues by adding content about them on Wikimedia projects. 15 participants from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Poland, UK, Germany and Spain attended the event, held from 23 to 27 June 2017. The group created 49 new articles in 10 different languages, took and uploaded more than 100 photos to Wikimedia Commons, and more.

The editing workshop took place at Medialab-Prado, a cultural space in the city center of Madrid. During the event, Wikipedian DaddyCell advised the group on possible topics to write about and helped the new editors learn basic editing skills.

The event was organized by Wikipedia for Peace, a community project to improve Wikipedia’s content on social movements, justice and peace. So far, two writing camps were held for the project in Austria, in 2015 and 2016, organized by Wikimedia Austria and Service Civil International Austria. In 2017, the project expanded to Germany and Spain, this year’s host for the WorldPride event.

Contributing to Wikimedia projects wasn’t our only activity at WorldPride. Our free time activities included attending Mayte Martin’s concert, a concert for the benefit of functional diversity LGBT people in Matadero, and city tours in Madrid. Also we took the opportunity to attend the human rights summit in Madrid that began on 26 June.

The organizers provided free tickets for our participants and two press passes to take photos during the talks. Some memorable moments were meeting Frank Van Dalen, the vice-president of InterPride, and the talk of Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the former prime minister of Iceland and the first openly gay head of a government. The next day we were invited to attend the round table discussion in the main auditorium. Florence Claes, from Wikimedia Spain, held a vital discussion on “the internet and social networks role in making minorities visible.”

The next WorldPride will be held in New York in 2019, and we are considering plans for a similar event in New York.

Saskia Ehlers, Wikimedia Germany
Rubén Ojeda, Wikimedia Spain

In brief

Wikimedia affiliates update: The Wikimedia Affiliations Committee (AffCom) has recognized four new user groups. The Wikipedia Library user group will aim to combine and multiply collaboration with libraries and librarians, from edit-a-thons hosted at libraries, to the Wiki Loves Libraries outreach campaign, to the broader institutional and publisher outreach of the Wikipedia Library, to a single forum open to all Wikimedia community members and any librarians interested in working with Wikipedia. Odia Wikimedians aims at bringing together contributors to Odia-language Wikimedia projects, as well as individuals who contribute to other Wikimedia projects on topics related to the Odia language, the Odia people, and the Indian state of Odisha. Wikimedians of Cameroon aims at supporting Wikimedia projects in Cameroon, supporting Cameroonian Wikimedians. Hindi Wikimedians will be working on supporting Wikimedia projects and the contributors to them in the Hindi language. Congratulations to the new affiliates.

Belgian Wikipedians celebrate freedom of panorama with a photography contest: This month, the Wikimedia community in Belgium is holding Wiki Loves Public Spaces photography contest. This month marks one year since freedom of panorama laws have come into force in Belgium. The change allows photographers to take and freely share photos of buildings and works of art in public spaces.

MedinaPedia: Participants of the MedinaPedia project in Tunisia started their initiative to install QR codes on monuments in the Medina of Tunis. The QR codes will let the monument visitors get information from Wikipedia about every monument in different languages.

Swedish court rules against freedom of panorama: The Swedish Patent and Market Court ruled against Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige) in a lawsuit filed by Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (see previous blog coverage). Wikimedia Sweden, an independent chapter in the country, had created a database of Swedish public art with photos from Wikimedia Commons.

Outreach activities in Nigeria: Last week, the Wikimedia user group Nigeria held a workshop on basic Wikipedia training at Nigerian Institute of Journalism in Lagos. The user group has also participated in the Open Data Day 2017, where Wikipedian Sam Oyeyele gave an introductory workshop to Wikidata.

Cycle three of the movement strategy discussion has started: In the first two cycles of the Wikimedia movement 2017 strategy, the community has expressed their opinions on what the movement should achieve and what challenges and opportunities are facing the movement. This cycle is dedicated to considering the challenges identified by the research and exploring how we may want to evolve or respond to changes in the world around us. In July, each week, a new challenge and insights will be posted, so that you can share how it connects to or changes your perspective on our future direction. Learn more and join the discussion on meta.

Compiled and edited by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation


by Saskia Ehlers, Ruben Ojeda and Samir Elsharbaty at July 13, 2017 06:04 PM

Wikimedia Cloud Services

Labs and Tool Labs being renamed

(reposted with minor edits from https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/labs-l/2017-July/005036.html)


  • Tool Labs is being renamed to Toolforge
  • The name for our OpenStack cluster is changing from Labs to Cloud VPS
  • The prefered term for projects such as Toolforge and Beta-Cluster-Infrastructure running on Cloud-VPS is VPS projects
  • Data Services is a new collective name for the databases, dumps, and other curated data sets managed by the cloud-services-team
  • Wiki replicas is the new name for the private-information-redacted copies of Wikimedia's production wiki databases
  • No domain name changes are scheduled at this time, but we control wikimediacloud.org, wmcloud.org, and toolforge.org
  • The Cloud Services logo will still be the unicorn rampant on a green field surrounded by the red & blue bars of the Wikimedia Community logo
  • Toolforge and Cloud VPS will have distinct images to represent them on wikitech and in other web contexts

In February when the formation of the Cloud Services team was announced there was a foreshadowing of more branding changes to come:

This new team will soon begin working on rebranding efforts intended to reduce confusion about the products they maintain. This refocus and re-branding will take time to execute, but the team is looking forward to the challenge.

In May we announced a consultation period on a straw dog proposal for the rebranding efforts. Discussion that followed both on and off wiki was used to refine the initial proposal. During the hackathon in Vienna the team started to make changes on Wikitech reflecting both the new naming and the new way that we are trying to think about the large suite of services that are offered. Starting this month, the changes that are planned (T168480) are becoming more visible in Phabricator and other locations.

It may come as a surprise to many of you on this list, but many people, even very active movement participants, do not know what Labs and Tool Labs are and how they work. The fact that the Wikimedia Foundation and volunteers collaborate to offer a public cloud computing service that is available for use by anyone who can show a reasonable benefit to the movement is a surprise to many. When we made the internal pitch at the Foundation to form the Cloud Services team, the core of our arguments were the "Labs labs labs" problem and this larger lack of awareness for our Labs OpenStack cluster and the Tool Labs shared hosting/platform as a service product.

The use of the term 'labs' in regards to multiple related-but-distinct products, and the natural tendency to shorten often used names, leads to ambiguity and confusion. Additionally the term 'labs' itself commonly refers to 'experimental projects' when applied to software; the OpenStack cloud and the tools hosting environments maintained by WMCS have been viable customer facing projects for a long time. Both environments host projects with varying levels of maturity, but the collective group of projects should not be considered experimental or inconsequential.

by bd808 (Bryan Davis) at July 13, 2017 12:14 AM

July 12, 2017

Wiki Education Foundation

Plant species articles ripe for student contributions

For some classes, selecting the right article to work on can be a challenging task. For a plant taxonomy class interested in creating species articles, you’re more likely to be faced by an embarrassment of riches.

Verbesina is a genus of plants in the aster family. Of the 300 species in the genus, only 19 have Wikipedia articles, and 18 of them are very short “stubs.” The only species article that’s more than a stub is Verbesina occidentalis. That article was created by a student in Jay Bolin’s Plant Taxonomy course at Catawba College.

Juncus is another large genus of plants commonly known as rushes. Before a student created an article for Juncus dichotomus, almost all of the 66 species with articles were stubs. Rushes are one of three groups of grass-like plants commonly found in wetlands. There’s even a rhyme to tell the three apart: “Sedges have edges, rushes are round. Grasses are hollow right up from the ground.” Carex is a genus of sedge with over 2,000 species, of which 198 have articles but 147 are stubs. A student in the class helped to fill this gap as well with the creation of an article on the species Carex rosea.

Cuscuta compacta is a parasitic plant found in the eastern and southern United States and southern Canada. It has a pale yellow stem and no roots — as a parasite, instead of photosynthesizing, it draws food, water, and mineral nutrients from its host plant. Aureolaria pedicularia is a partial or hemiparasitic plant found in eastern North America. Although capable of photosynthesis, it draws water and mineral nutrients from its host. Viburnum dilatatum is a shrub native to East Asia which has been introduced to the United States as an ornamental. It is considered to be a potential invasive species in the mid-Atlantic region of the country. All of these articles, together with the article on Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides, were created by students in this class.

While students can fill gaps by creating articles where none exist, they can also fill gaps by expanding short articles that already exist. Selaginella apoda is a vascular plant that produces spores instead of seeds. Sium suave is a wetland plant in the carrot family. Mollugo verticillata is native to tropical parts of the Americas and is a common weed in eastern North America. Lactuca canadensis is a wild relative of lettuce native to North America. Pinus virginiana is a species of pine tree that ranges from southern New York through Appalachia. Boehmeria cylindrica is a common plant found in wet-to-moist habitats throughout much of the Americas. Galium obtusum is a small wildflower. Quercus stellata, commonly known as the post oak, is a widespread species of oak. These were all short articles that students in the class expanded substantially.

Species articles are fun to work on because they follow a fairly constant format; this allows you to focus more on what to say, and less on how to say it. Wiki Education has created a handout for writing species articles that outlines the process for writing species articles.

If you need help finding articles for your students to edit on Wikipedia, read more about our article finder training module. To learn more about how to get involved, send us an email at contact@wikiedu.org or visit teach.wikiedu.org.

Image: Sibthorpioides 03457.jpg, by Vengolis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Ian Ramjohn at July 12, 2017 06:01 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Yale Law School and the Wikimedia Foundation create new research initiative to help preserve and protect the free exchange of information online

Photo by Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School recently expanded their longstanding collaboration to focus on raising awareness and conducting research related to threats against the intermediary liability protections that enable online platforms to act as neutral third parties in hosting user-generated content. Through the Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII), the Wikimedia Foundation will support a Research Fellow, based at Yale Law School. The initiative will support research on policies, legislation, and threats related to intermediary liability and hyperlinking.

Intermediary liability protections are a critical component of the open internet, supporting the free exchange of information online. Threats to hyperlinking and efforts to hold intermediaries liable for user content have become areas of increasing concern to the Wikimedia movement.  Over the past several years, international policies and litigation have threatened to undermine the ability for users and platforms to freely link across the web. The need to monitor and raise awareness around these threats, and to promote ways that help safeguard the freedoms currently in place, has become more vital than ever.

You may be asking yourself: What is intermediary liability?

For more details on intermediary liability, see our policy website.

Every day thousands of people contribute text and images to the Wikimedia projects, develop and support self-governing editorial policies, and work collaboratively to evaluate and resolve conflicting views about  facts, relevance, or the copyright status of a work. The Wikimedia Foundation acts as an intermediary, or a neutral third party, by hosting and supporting Wikimedia projects without controlling what people write and contribute to the sites. As a consequence, the Wikimedia projects are neutral, open platforms where people are free to share knowledge and learn.

Intermediary liability protections shelter intermediaries—such as internet service providers, search engines, social media platforms, and the collaborative projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation from liability for the content they host. In our case, these laws and regulations allow the Wikimedia projects to host users’ contributions from around the world without being held legally responsible for the expression of those users. These protections undergird the fundamental attributes of an open internet—for example, the ability to link to websites throughout the world and contribute new content via online platforms. Intermediary liability protections relieve the Foundation of what would otherwise be the near-impossible obligation to make constant editorial determinations about the tens of thousands of edits made to Wikimedia sites each hour.

It is essential to retain these protections for intermediaries and the user-generated content that they host in the face of recent threats that call into question the ability to freely hyperlink to other websites. National governments, through legislation or in some cases naked exercises of authoritarian power, are increasingly demanding that intermediaries block, delist, or remove online content that they deem undesirable or unlawful. Such content includes political criticism and dissent, hate speech, defamation, and content that may violate the privacy or copyright protections of a given country (but not others). In this way, governments and other third parties are increasingly trying to make intermediaries legally responsible for their users’ speech and activities. This is effectively a form of censorship, treating the intermediary as a proxy for the speaker, and imposing huge burdens and restrictions on the free and open exchange of information online.

WIII will aim to generate broader awareness and research around this subject — in part, through the introduction of a dedicated research fellowship position at Yale Law School. Initially, the Research Fellow will focus on advocating the “right to link” and understanding link censorship laws and litigation. The Research Fellow will also conduct broader research related to intermediary liability, organize academic events, foster collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas to protect intermediary liability, support the development of creative legal and policy solutions to the issue, and lead other activities to advance the core goals of the initiative. Applications for the Research Fellow position are being considered on a rolling basis; application requirements are available on the ISP website.

WIII grew out of an ongoing academic affiliation and collaboration between Yale Law School and the Wikimedia Foundation and is made possible, in part, by funding from the Wikimedia Foundation. Given Wikimedia’s mission to build a world in which everyone can freely share in knowledge, one of the Foundation’s fundamental activities is to directly contribute to and participate with the research and educational mission of Yale Law School and other institutions of higher education that support free and open internet principles and free access to knowledge. Yale Law School students and faculty in particular, along with members of the Wikimedia Foundation have participated in symposia, presentations and conferences hosted by either the ISP or the Foundation. Yale Law School students and recent graduates have held internships and fellowships at the Wikimedia Foundation, and Yale Law School researchers have engaged in research with the assistance of Foundation staff.

Eileen Hershenov, General Counsel
Zhou Zhou, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

For more information, see Yale Law School’s press release.

by Eileen Hershenov and Zhou Zhou at July 12, 2017 04:06 PM

July 11, 2017


Wikidata Map July 2017

It’s been 9 months since my last Wikidata map update and once again we have many new noticable areas appearing, including Norway, South Africa, Peru and New Zealand to name but a few.  As with the last map generation post I once again created a diff image so that the areas of change are easily identifiable comparing the data from July 2017 with that from my last post on October 2016.

The various sizes of the generated maps can be found on Wikimedia Commons:

Reasons for increases

If you want to have a shot at figuring out the cause of the increases in specific areas then take a look at my method described in the last post using the Wikidata Query Service.

Peoples discoveries so far:

  • Sweden & Denmark – Most probably Wiki Loves Monuments imports of ancient monuments.
  • Yemen – it looks like it’s the result of a stub-creation bot on the Cebuano Wikipedia, adding geographical places with coordinates, resulting in another bot feeding them to Wikidata.

I haven’t included the names of those that discovered reasons for areas of increase above, but if you find your discovery here and want credit just ask!

by addshore at July 11, 2017 08:29 PM

Wikimedia Performance Team

The journey to Thumbor, part 1: rationale

We are currently in the final stages of deploying Thumbor to Wikimedia production, where it will generate media thumbnails for all our public wikis. Up until now, MediaWiki was responsible for generating thumbnails.

I started the project of making Thumbor production-ready for Wikimedia a year and a half ago and I'll talk about this journey in a series of blog posts. In this one, I'll explain the rationale behind this project.


The biggest reason to change the status quo is security. Since MediaWiki is quite monolithic, deployments of MediaWiki on our server fleet responsible for generating thumbnails aren't as isolated as they could be from the rest of our infrastructure.

Media formats being a frequent security breach vector, it has always been an objective of ours to isolate thumbnailing more than we currently can with Mediawiki. We run our command-line tools responsible for media conversion inside firejail, but we could do more to fence off thumbnailing from the rest of what we do.

One possibility would have been to rewrite the MediaWiki code responsible for thumbnailing, turning it into a series of PHP libraries, that could then be run without MediaWiki, to perform the thumbnailing work we are currently doing - while untangling the code enough that the thumbnailing servers can be more isolated.

However such a rewrite would be very expensive and when we can afford to, we prefer to use ready-made open source solutions with a community of their own, rather than writing new tools. It seemed to us that media thumbnailing was far from being a MediaWiki-specific problem and there ought to be open source solutions tackling that issue. We undertook a review of the open source landscape for this problem domain and Thumbor emerged as the clear leader in that area.


The MediaWiki code responsible for thumbnailing currently doesn't have any team ownership at the Wikimedia Foundation. It's maintained by volunteers (including some WMF staff acting in a volunteer capacity). However, the amount of contributors is very low and technical debt is accumulating.

Thumbor, on the other hand, is a very active open-source project with many contributors. A large company, Globo, where this project originated, dedicates significant resources to it.

In the open source world, joining forces with others pays off, and Thumbor is the perfect example of this. Like other large websites leveraging Thumbor, we've contributed a number of upstream changes.

Maintenance of Wikimedia-specific Thumbor plugins remains, but those represent only a small portion of the code, the lion's share of the functionality being provided by Thumbor.

Service-oriented architecture

For operational purposes, running parts of the wiki workflow as isolated services is always beneficial. It enables us to set up the best fencing possible for security purposes, where Thumbor only has access to what it needs. This limits the amount of damage possible in case of a security vulnerability propagated through media files.

From monitoring, to resource usage control and upstream security updates, running our media thumbnailing as a service has significant operational upsides.

New features

3rd-party open source projects might have features that would have been low priority on our list to implement, or considered too costly to build. Thumbor sports a number of features that MediaWiki currently doesn't have, which might open exciting possibilities in the future, such as feature detection and advanced filters.

At this time, however, we're only aiming to deploy Thumbor to Wikimedia production as a drop-in replacement for MediaWiki thumbnailing, targeting feature parity with the status quo.


Where does performance fit in all this? For one, Thumbor's clean extension architecture means that the Wikimedia-specific code footprint is small, making improvements to our thumbnailing pipeline a lot easier. Running thumbnailing as a service means that it should be more practical to test alternative thumbnailing software and parameters.

Rendering thumbnails as WebP to user agents that support it is a built-in feature of Thumbor and the most likely first performance project we'll leverage Thumbor for, once Thumbor has proven to handle our production load correctly for some time. This alone should save a significant amount of bandwidth for users whose user agents support WebP. This is the sort of high-impact performance change to our images that Thumbor will make a lot easier to achieve.


Those many factors contributed to us betting on Thumbor. Soon it will be put to the test of Wikimedia production where not only the scale of our traffic but also the huge diversity of media files we host make thumbnailing a challenge.

In the next blog post, I'll describe the architecture of our production thumbnailing pipeline in detail and where Thumbor fits into it.

by Gilles (Gilles Dubuc) at July 11, 2017 07:37 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Creating digital citizens with Wikipedia-based project-learning

In late May, I traveled to Fordham University in New York for its annual Faculty Technology Day. The theme of this year’s event was “digital citizenship,” and we attended to explore what it means to be a digital citizen and how instructors on campus could help prepare their students to fill such roles. But I have to be honest – when I received the invitation I wasn’t sure what being a digital citizen actually meant. So… I turned to Wikipedia.

According to the article on the subject, different definitions of a digital citizen involve “use of the Internet regularly and effectively,” and “the promotion of equal economic opportunity, as well as increased political participation and civic duty.” Whoa. That’s a tough ask. How many people do you know who use the internet “effectively” or as a “promotion of equal economic opportunity”?

In my talk, I decided to answer that question. How can we help our students understand digital citizenship and provide them with a place to practice the effective usage of their access to information?

My response: Wikipedia.

Digital literacy

Creating digital citizens with Wikipedia-based project learning. Thanks to Anne Gibbons, conference Graphic Recorder, for this visual summary of my keynote.

One of the key elements of digital citizenship is digital literacy: an ability to judge the credibility and quality of information one finds online (among other things). But in November 2016, the Stanford History Education Group published a grim report. According to their 18-month study of over 7,000 middle school, high school, and college-aged students, “when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, [students] are easily duped.” Their conclusion: “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.”

So what does this say about how well we’re preparing our future digital citizens? We must do better.

In Fall 2016, we at Wiki Education did our own study. We wanted to know: were students gaining digital literacy skills through the Wikipedia assignment? Thankfully, yes! Of instructors surveyed, 96% said that a Wikipedia assignment was better for teaching digital literacy than a traditional assignment. That’s because Wikipedia requires all contributors to follow strict policies and guidelines in relation to how content is curated. So when a student is asked to complete this assignment, they are first asked to learn about Wikipedia’s policies for sourcing, reliability, and verifiability. They are asked to distinguish between high-quality, academic, peer-reviewed sources and opinion pieces or blog posts. Why? Because without that understanding, that work won’t stick.

Information engagement

But for students to be true digital citizens they can’t just act as consumers of information. They need to become engagers and creators. That’s why the Wikipedia assignment is so great. It asks students to evaluate existing information on Wikipedia for content gaps in their field, to find out what research has already been published about that topic, and then to take active steps to rectify that imbalance. Students aren’t just consuming academic literature, they’re providing summaries, links, and access so that others can also benefit from their learning.

A call to action

When thinking about how we can prepare students to become digital citizens we first must recognize that having digital savvy students is not the same as having digitally literate ones. Then we need to take active steps as educators to seek out the problem areas – do my students know what a reliable source is? do they understand the difference between a primary source and a tertiary source? do they know how to identify a paid advertisement or a fake news site? – and engage them with assignments that help develop and enforce those skills.

Students at American and Canadian universities are lucky. They have access to the worlds best libraries, the best teachers. But if we don’t teach them how to make use of that privilege, if we don’t teach them how to act and think like digital citizens, it means nothing. On Wikipedia, we are asked to imagine a world where every human being has equal access to the world’s knowledge. I invite you to join us in making that happen.

If you’d like to learn more about teaching with Wikipedia, please email contact@wikiedu.org or visit teach.wikiedu.org. I’d be happy to talk more and to help you design the perfect assignment for your next course.


by Samantha Weald at July 11, 2017 05:18 PM

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: June 2017

by Admin at July 11, 2017 03:50 AM

July 10, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

The metamorphosis of Wiki Loves Butterfly

Photo by Sayan Sanyal, CC BY-SA 4.0.

“Butterflies have always enthralled human eyes, thanks to their exquisite and diverse texture and coloration, beauty, seemingly amazing metamorphosis, and carefree flight,” says Ananya Mondal, who goes by Atudu on Wikimedia projects.

Mondal, who by profession is a clinical nutritionist, is certainly not immune to this phenomenon. The large diversity and variety of butterfly species in her home region of West Bengal, India, has fueled such an interest in them that she is now known as the “Butterfly Wikimedian.” Still, her hunger for more knowledge was not met by Wikipedia at the time. She had several questions—like just how many species of butterflies are there in West Bengal, and if there were species yet to be uncovered—that she wanted answers to.

She decided to take matters into her own hands by adding one more question: could there be better documentation of these creatures on Wikimedia sites, particularly on her native Bengali Wikipedia?

Photo by Sayan Sanyal, CC BY-SA 4.0.

As it turned out, Mondal was able to answer that for herself. She created Wiki Loves Butterfly, a two-year effort to improve Wikimedia’s coverage of butterflies in West Bengal. Along with her co-leader Sandip Das, Mondal drew up copious amounts of documentation to support the project before it launched in March 2016. This included subject bibliographies, lepidopterists, and prime butterfly spotting locations in the region, in addition to a list of amateur and professional photographers who were active in the subject area.

“Of note,” Mondal says, “I included these people, with widely differing fields and areas of expert, as edit-a-thon and wiki contributors. I then used that to initiate an extensive Wikimedia outreach program.”

Photo by Tamaghna Sengupta, CC BY-SA 3.0.

With these individuals, along with several Wikimedians and students, Mondal went out into the field. “I followed the activities of people involved to get suggestions for best practices,” she says, and accomplished several other tasks:

  • Traveled and documented those butterfly hotspots
  • Collaborated with subject matter experts to identify pictured species
  • Solicited help from local guides and photographers
  • Created Wikipedia articles
  • Studied butterfly morphology, habitats, behavioral aspects, host plants, life cycle, and more

The Wiki Loves butterfly’s first part ran from March 2016 to June of this year, and saw ten new users, over a hundred new articles, 650 images—nearly half of which are used on Wikimedia projects, and nearly fifty have been noted by the community for their quality. 163 individual species have been captured on film, 30 of which had no photograph on Wikimedia Commons before, and 13 of which had no article on the English Wikipedia.

The second part of the project is running from now until March 2018, and you can join.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

by Ed Erhart at July 10, 2017 06:02 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #28, 2017 (July 10, 2017)

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July 10, 2017 12:00 AM

July 08, 2017

Semantic MediaWiki

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 released/en

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 released/en

July 8, 2017

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 (SMW 2.5.3) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This new version brings an enhancement for environments with multiple relational databases and improves action "purge" used to manually rebuild semantic data on pages. It also provides bugfixes and further increases platform stability. Please refer to the help page on installing Semantic MediaWiki to get detailed instructions on how to install or upgrade.

by TranslateBot at July 08, 2017 07:27 PM

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 released

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 released

July 8, 2017

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.3 (SMW 2.5.3) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This new version brings an enhancement for environments with multiple relational databases and improves action "purge" used to manually rebuild semantic data on pages. It also provides bugfixes and further increases platform stability. Please refer to the help page on installing Semantic MediaWiki to get detailed instructions on how to install or upgrade.

by Kghbln at July 08, 2017 07:26 PM

Jeroen De Dauw

PHP development with Docker

I’m the kind of dev that dreads configuring webservers and that rather does not have to put up with random ops stuff before being able to get work done. Docker is one of those things I’ve never looked into, cause clearly it’s evil annoying boring evil confusing evil ops stuff. Two of my colleagues just introduced me to a one-line docker command that kind off blew my mind.

Want to run tests for a project but don’t have PHP7 installed? Want to execute a custom Composer script that runs both these tests and the linters without having Composer installed? Don’t want to execute code you are not that familiar with on your machine that contains your private keys, etc? Assuming you have Docker installed, this command is all you need:

docker run --rm --interactive --tty --volume $PWD:/app -w /app\
 --volume ~/.composer:/composer --user $(id -u):$(id -g) composer composer ci

This command uses the Composer Docker image, as indicated by the first composer at the end of the command. After that you can specify whatever you want to execute, in this case composer ci, where ci is a custom composer Script. (If you want to know what the Docker image is doing behind the scenes, check its entry point file.)

This works without having PHP or Composer installed, and is very fast after the initial dependencies have been pulled. And each time you execute the command, the environment is destroyed, avoiding state leakage. You can create a composer alias in your .bash_aliases as follows, and then execute composer on your host just as you would do if it was actually installed (and running) there.

alias composer='docker run --rm --interactive --tty --volume $PWD:/app -w /app\
 --volume ~/.composer:/composer --user $(id -u):$(id -g) composer composer'

Of course you are not limited to running Composer commands, you can also invoke PHPUnit

...(id -g) composer vendor/bin/phpunit

or indeed any PHP code.

...(id -g) composer php -r 'echo "hi";'

This one liner is not sufficient if you require additional dependencies, such as PHP extensions, databases or webservers. In those cases you probably want to create your own Docker file. Though to run the tests of most PHP libraries you should be good. I’ve now uninstalled my local Composer and PHP.

To get started, install Docker and add your user to the docker group (system restart might be needed afterwards):

sudo apt-get install docker
sudo usermod -a -G docker YOURUSER

by Jeroen at July 08, 2017 03:52 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia project - #PlantsAndPeople

#Wikidata is a great to encourage collaboration and reporting for Wiki projects. The results of projects like the Black Lunch Table have been encouraging so for; reports for articles in multiple languages, gender ratios were possible because of the Wikidata link.

A new initiative is PlantsAndPeople. There have been editathons in the past and more are planned. It is about both people and plants so the kind of questions that may be asked will be quite interesting. For instance how many taxons were described by the people in the project and how many people were honoured in taxon names.

At this moment the people who are the subject of editathons are added. This list will grow slowly but surely and only once it is done, it can replace list in Wikipedia. It will take quite some time to get there because it makes sense to add additional data as well. This is the best way to quickly improve the quality of the data involved. So far quite a number of mycologists and ethnobotanists have been added. A question has been raised in Wikidata about people named in taxons and a picture that should be in Commons is waiting for someone else to transfer it.

When you are interested; join in the fun.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 08, 2017 08:44 AM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 363



OSM Node Density 2014 – 2017 and the differences 1 | data © OpenStreetMap contributors, ODbL, Imagery © Martin Raifer, CC-BY 3.0, overlay © Mapbox


  • Mapping public bus transport seems to be the theme of community projects this summer. The French community have announced their project of the month (similar to the UK’s Quarterly Project and Germany’s Wochenaufgaben) for July 2017: Bus Stops. The results are published on the OSM wiki. At the end of the month (July 29th and 30th), OpenStreetMap US is running a summer bus Mapathon, with the objective of field survey of bus stops and bus routes on those two days.
  • OSM Inspector has been updated. This affects the “Geometry”, “Tagging”, “Places” and “Highways” views.
  • Nuno Caldeira explains that the rendering problem on São Jorge island in Azores is solved. He also asks for comments about further clean-up options. At the moment of writing some old “flooded” tiles still appear at some higher zoom levels, but that will get fixed as new tiles are rendered.
  • Clifford Snow initiates a discussion on Talk-us mailing list about a recent case of data being added to OSM for SEO in the US. A company created one account per POI and added the tags of the POI to an existing street.


  • A mapping team from Aoyama Gakuin University mapped emergency facilities (such as AEDs, fire hydrants, etc) in Yamato city. This data was built to be browsable on MAPS.ME. And their results were reported (ja) (automatic translation) on a local newspaper. However, on the Japanese mailing list, their tagging manner (name=AED and tourism=information were added on emergency=defibrillator) was criticized (ja) (automatic translation) to be “tagging for the renderer”. After a discussion, problematic tags were removed. His justification on that tagging is explained at a changeset discussion.
  • Mapbox writes about the StatCan initiative in collaborating with OSM-Canada to map buildings of Ottawa in OpenStreetMap. MapBox indicates that it support this project.
  • Jennings Anderson wrote about the procedure of creating his “User per Country” statistics maps.
  • OSM Colombia trained 25 local farmers in the region of Anitoquia on how to map with JOSM in cooperation with a “Right to land and territory” group and the PASOColombia Organization. This included people from Nechí, Tarazá, Caucasia, Valdívia, El Bagre and Zaragosa.
  • OSM blog posted a bunch of “Featured Images of the Week” along with the histories behind each of them. Check the wiki to learn how to propose your image of the week!
  • Spanholz has posted a list of OpenStreetMap projects in the reddit linux forum.
  • Wambacher’s Online Maps will only be reachable via wambachers.website in the future (de). (automatic translation)
  • Jochen Topf states on Talk-CA that there are still numerous “old style” multi-polygons in Canada (ie. tag in both the relation and the external way), a great number resulting from CanVec imports. There is not an important community in Canada and the threat to erase the data was brought a few discussions about the way to collarate with local communities.


  • Kyle Nuttall notifies imports mailing list about Ottawa’s official dataset of over 149,000 city-maintained trees. A lengthy discussion about tagging and verification ensues, and a wiki page lists the import’s current state.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • Peter Barth reports about the last OSMF Board meeting in Amsterdam (May 2017).


  • SotM 2017 tweeted: Last chance! Nominate a person, a group or an organization for an OpenStreetMap 2017 award (deadline Sunday, July 9th).
  • The deadline to propose sessions for SotM Asia (September 23-24, Kathmandu, Nepal) has been extended to July 15, 2017. The same for scholarships.

Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT has launched three formal research experiments on crowdsourced damage assessment. The study aims to better understand which type of data and accuracy is most urgent for post-disaster response, and how to maximise the impact of online volunteers’ contributions.
  • OpenStreetMap Colombia releases (es) the poster “Pre-elimination Malaria in Pacific Coast, Colombia” with the result of the project “Herramientas, formación y redes encaminadas a disminuir la carga por malaria en Colombia”. Best regards to all involved in the #MapatónXGuapi initiative that generated the needed geodata.
  • HOT and Doctors Without Borders (Turkey) organized Turkey’s first Missing Maps mapathon in Istanbul together with volunteers in Kampala to support the many refugees and displaced persons in Uganda in order to better meet their needs.
  • Heather Leson and Guido Pizzini from IFRC organised a Missing Maps workshop for grade 9 students in Ecole Internationale Geneva, and started a discussion about how to involve kids in mapping activities on HOT mailing list.


  • Cyclestreet.net introduced their bikedata map, visualising critical spots in bicycle infrastructure to support campaigns for improving cycling networks.
  • Hartmut Holzgraefe improved GPX upload in MapOSMatic. Until now it was necessary to manually select the upload area, while this update automatically detects the bounding box from the GPX data. There is more news about the service: the support of the veloroad.ru style, a locate-me button in the slippy map and contour lines for the OpenSnowMap style.
  • Just arrived on the instant messaging app Snapchat, the Snap Map location sharing with friends functionality is already controversial. It allows to share its user’s position in real-time and to very precisely locate your friends around you, or track their movements on the other side of the world. Some voices warn parents against a too precise location of their children.
  • The OpenTopoMap now evaluates (automatic translation) a given direction=* tag on viewpoint rendering.
  • A new webservice Printmaps to create large-format, OSM-based maps in print quality is in beta testing. In addition, the display of your own data and map elements are special features of Printmaps. Klaus aka tok-rox asks for feedback.
  • User tyr_asd just published a new layer for his OSM node density visualization tool, and challenges the readers to find out which city is represented in this screenshot.


  • Mapzen presents a second technical preview of OSMLR. It “provides a stable linear-referencing system atop the ever-changing network of roadways in OpenStreetMap. It’s used by the Open Traffic platform to associate statistics like speeds and vehicle counts with roadway segments. And it has many more possible uses, beyond just traffic statistics”. A preview build is also announced.
  • Geoboxers’ WorldBloxer generates Minecraft templates of any place on Earth based on OpenStreetMap data. It’s now in beta.

Open Data

  • The city of Amsterdam published over 800,000 360° images on Mapillary. Using an online tool pictures can be filtered for specific objects. Now, all the data has to be mapped! 😉


  • Florian Lainez announces Jungle Bus, a new project for public transport mapping based on OSM Contributor. The app is meant to be very easy to use, in order to facilitate data collection for transport networks mapping.


  • Mapbox announces its new plugin for calculating isochrones, curves that include the areas you can reach in a given time from a starting point. It is able to quickly compute up to 60 minutes isochrones for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.
  • Thomas Skowron publishes the June summary of his work on “Grandine: Vector Tiles”. The introduction was presented on March. The source code is available on GitHub.


Mapbox’s latest SDK release for Android and iOS brings in the possibility of 3D map visualisation for mobile devices.

The current release status of software around OSM can be found on the OSM software watchlist.

Did you know …

  • … that Critical Maps (an Android and iPhone App for the Critical Mass) uses OSM as background?
  • … the free of charge WebService to create figure ground plans by the geographer? Thus they attract mainly students, architects and engineers.
  • OSM-Nottingham? It is an example of a website dedicated to providing OSM-based information for both the general public and mappers about a specific local area: the Nottingham conurbation. It provides a mix of layers: rasters, including historical maps, thematic layers using GeoJSON, and searches for OSM data and a wide range of local and national Open Data sources. It is maintained by user will_p.
  • … the amazing keynote by Allan Mustard, U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, held in Brussels at SoTM 2016?
  • … that Frank Sellke has collected several photos and information about bridges on his page brueckenweb.de? The maps are based on OpenStreetMap.

OSM in the media

  • GIScience Research Group of the Heidelberg University has published the article “Introducing Healthy Routing preferring Green Areas with OpenRouteService”.

Other “geo” things

  • GIScience News Blog points to the study “Are Crowdsourced Datasets Suitable for Specialized Routing Services? Case Study of OpenStreetMap for Routing of People with Limited Mobility” and gives further insight into the issue and its background.
  • Peter Murray compiled an impressive list of 80 maps, to celebrate the art and power of data visualisation. He grouped them into six broad categories: Conflict Zones; Connectivity; Environmental; Sites, Sounds, and Smells of City Living; Social Media Maps and Transportation.
  • Direction Magazine analyses the emerging trends at the intersection of GIS and aerial imagery, that feature the rise of cloud services and of platforms that allow the exploration of many image sources at once.
  • Before vacation, Guillaume Roche proposes to discover the offline world of MAPS.ME.
  • Smithsonian.com published an article, titled: “From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps” written by Clive Thompson. He reports as well on the island of California, trap streets in London and non existing mountains on a map “drawn up in 1798 by the British cartographer James Rennell and copied throughout most of the 19th century”.
  • Metrocosm maps show how so much of the world occupies so little of its land. For countries like Australia, Spain, USA, Canada and for North Africa, we see which size of the country is occupied by 50% of the population. For Canada, this is in South Ontario and Quebec near the USA border. Note that this population occupies less than 150,000 km2, 2% of Canada’s surface.
  • Mapbox introduces a new tool, Cartogram. It’s a drag-and-drop tool to create a custom map in seconds.
  • The World Economic Forum shows maps that will change the way you see the world. Surface comparisons of various countries are made.
  • Following an enquiry started in 2007, Brooke Singer created (fr) the platform ToxicSites. It includes a map that provides information about pollution in the U.S., aggregating information from several sources.
  • Canada, which has one of the most restrictive drone regulation, just approved a micro drone to his record of Compliant Unmanned Air Systems. This approval could enable better flexibility for flight in restricted areas or past visible line of sight (LoS) and offer more possibilities to surveying and mapping professionals. One example is a drone delivery company who passed successfully the Transport Canada tests for flights beyond visual LoS. This should allow experimental drone deliveries.
  • Spiegel Online published (de) an article about the fastest moving island of the world: Trischen island, which shifts to the east about 30-35 meters per year.
  • OSM Cochabamba reported on Twitter on the way in the “Quebrada del Yuro” and the village of La Higuera, Bolivia, places of the capture and death of Ernesto Che Guevara are now included in OSM as well.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Seattle Complete The Map Challenge, Mapillary image mapping 2017-06-23-2017-07-31 united states
Toyonaka 【西国街道#07】豊中の歴史マッピングパーティ 2017-07-08 japan
Kampala State of the Map Africa 2017 2017-07-08-2017-07-10 uganda
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2017-07-10 france
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle ouverte 2017-07-11 france
Passau Niederbayerntreffen 2017-07-11 germany
Berlin 109. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2017-07-13 germany
Tokyo 東京!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第10回 向島百花園 2017-07-15 japan
Łódź Spotkanie sympatyków OpenStreetMap i Walne Stowarzyszenia 2017-07-15 poland
Bonn Bonner Stammtisch 2017-07-18 germany
Lüneburg Mappertreffen Lüneburg 2017-07-18 germany
Nottingham Nottingham Pub Meetup 2017-07-18 united kingdom
Scotland Edinburgh 2017-07-18 united kingdom
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) FOSS4G Europe 2017 at ENSG Cité Descartes 2017-07-18-2017-07-22 france
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) Mapathon Missing Maps @FOSS4G, ENSG Cité Descartes 2017-07-19 france
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2017-07-19 germany
Leoben Stammtisch Obersteiermark 2017-07-20 austria
Urspring Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2017-07-20 germany
Spoleto OpenStreetMap e open data a Spoleto 2017-07-21-2017-07-22 italy
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2017-07-24 germany
Boston FOSS4G 2017 2017-08-14-2017-08-19 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 2017-08-18-2017-08-20 japan
Patan State of the Map Asia 2017 2017-09-23-2017-09-24 nepal
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 2017-10-19-2017-10-22 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 2017-10-23-2017-10-28 argentina
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 2017-11-29-2017-12-02 perú

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Anne Ghisla, Nakaner, Peda, PierZen, Polyglot, SK53, SomeoneElse, Spec80, TheFive, derFred, jinalfoflia, keithonearth, kreuzschnabel, muramototomoya.

by weeklyteam at July 08, 2017 04:04 AM

July 07, 2017

Brion Vibber

Light field rendering: a quick diagram

Been reading about light field rendering for free movement around 3d scenes captured as images. Made some diagrams to help it make sense to me, as one does…
There’s some work going on to add viewing of 3d models to Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons — which is pretty rad! — but geometric meshes are hard to home-scan, and don’t represent texture and lighting well, whereas light fields capture this stuff fantastically. Might be interesting some day to play with a light field scene viewer that provides parallax as you rotate your phone, or provides a 3d see-through window in VR views. The real question is whether the _scanning_ of scenes can be ‘democratized’ using a phone or tablet as a moving camera, combined with the spatial tracking that’s used for AR games to position the captures in 3d space…
Someday! No time for more than idle research right now. 😉
Here, enjoy the diagrams.

by brion at July 07, 2017 09:31 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

How the discovery and sharing of trusted information have evolved

Photo by Tom Murphy VII, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sometimes it can feel as if the world is changing more quickly than ever, and it’s easy to forget that we’re living at the very forefront of a historic timeline of knowledge creation that has evolved through centuries and across cultures, languages, and technologies.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently hosted three “brown bag” discussions with experts on the evolving history of knowledge sharing, providing valuable context for understanding the modern challenges of today and the opportunities to sustain and build the global Wikipedia community of tomorrow. Each of our invited experts (Panthea Lee, Adam Hochschild, and Uzo Iweala) echoed key aspects of other projects which the Foundation has organized as part of its broader effort to understand the future of Wikimedia.

Below is a summary of the two major themes which came out of the discussions, each of which has been posted with the full videos and transcripts.

Our trust in both the sources and methods of distribution of information continues to evolve. People have shifting attitudes toward the trustability of traditional knowledge institutions and more often prefer to use personally-tailored channels to discover and share information with people we trust. This is especially true of younger readers, a focus of our discussion with Panthea Lee, lead designer at Reboot, a research design firm that helped launch the New Readers project in Nigeria and India.

“We see a lot of young people following vloggers and bloggers … that have built up trust in certain ways that may not see Wikipedia content as credible or easy to use,” Lee mentioned, noting that a possible future aspect to the Foundation’s work might build ways to incorporate modular Wikipedia resources and tools into channel-based communities where younger readers discover, create, and share information they trust with people who they trust more than traditional publishers.

Weakened trust in traditional education institutions may be accelerating an interest in personal knowledge creation and sharing, as well. “People are hungry for alternative sources of knowledge,” said Uzo Iweala, a physician, author, Foundation advisor, and CEO and editor-in-chief of Ventures Africa.

Expanding to new readers can also carry a challenge of verification. Sources of knowledge that may be considered of lower value in certain communities, like oral storytelling, are trusted, primary sources in others. Iweala shared a personal example: “We can trace back [my own lineage] to maybe the 1400s, but no one would believe because the start of that is in the 1800s, when the British came in and started keeping paper records. But the stories go back way, way further.”

Creativity in the face of obstacles can inspire brilliant new methods of knowledge sharing. Adam Hochschild, co-founder of Mother Jones, reviewed the history of knowledge sharing, providing a few powerful examples of how people have created solutions to information-sharing barriers.

Hochschild pointed to his study of London in the month of February 1788, where “half the debates on record are about slavery or the slave trade.” Adam wanted to know what caused the dramatic spike in the recorded discussion of slavery. His search led him to discover a remarkably brilliant use case in format-based activism.

“A very well organized small group of ardent abolitionists began experimenting” with use of pamphlets and inspired the creation of a famous poster (below), he told us, depicting the stowage of the British slave ship Brookes under the regulated slave trade act of 1788.

Poster via the Library of Congress, public domain.

Hochschild said that the poster helped strengthen the public support to end slavery:

The printing of black and white graphics had been around, you know, for a century. But they began using this for their purposes, and one result of all that you’ve seen as a famous poster of a slave ship … You read memoirs from this period and you find many people writing about the impact it had on them when they first saw the slave ship poster.

In a more modern example of innovation in storytelling-based solutions to recording and sharing knowledge, Hochschild pointed to The People’s Archive of India, which documents exactly the kind of information that local news organizations have avoided historically, such as traditional songs which scholars can now use for research.

It’s a bit overwhelming to think about all the stories which have never been shared only because there isn’t a way to do so yet. The good news is that history, and the work of communities around the world today, show that it’s possible to build a future for knowledge sharing across new generations and cultures. All we need is creativity, dedication, trust, and an acknowledgement that things will change again.

Have you changed the way you discover and share information you trust? We invite you to learn how to join us in the discussion about the ways we participate in knowledge sharing, and tell us about the challenges you face (and your favorite creative solutions).

Margarita Noriega, Strategy Consultant, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Videos and transcripts from each brown bag are available on Commons.

by Margarita Noriega at July 07, 2017 05:14 PM

Wikimedia Cloud Services

Official Debian Stretch image now available

Debian Stretch was officially released on Saturday[1], and I've built a new Stretch base image for VPS use in the WMF cloud. All projects should now see an image type of 'debian-9.0-stretch' available when creating new instances.

Puppet will set up new Stretch instances just fine, and we've tested and tuned up several of the most frequently-used optional puppet classes so that they apply properly on Stretch. Stretch is /fairly/ similar to Jessie, so I'd expect most puppet classes that apply properly on Jessie to work on Stretch as well, but I'm always interested in the exceptions -- If you find one, please open a phabricator ticket.

The WMF and the Cloud team is committed to long-term support of this distribution. If you are starting a new project or rebuilding a VM you should start with Stretch to ensure the longest possible life for your work.

by Andrew (Andrew Bogott) at July 07, 2017 08:39 AM

July 06, 2017

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly Report for May 2017


  • We announced the placement of a new Visiting Scholar, Eryk Salvaggio, at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University. Eryk will be using the university’s resources to improve topics on an important academic subject that’s underdeveloped on Wikipedia, ethnic studies.
  • Wiki Education staff presented about our programs at several events across the country, including conferences and workshops at the University of California, Berkeley, Xavier University of Louisiana, Louisiana State University, Fordham University, Diablo Valley College, and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • Northeastern University Visiting Scholar Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight brought nine articles about women writers up to “B-class,” a level of quality only 2.7% of articles meet.


After working with us as an interim Content Expert in March, Shalor Toncray joined us this month in a full-time capacity. In her role as Content Expert, Shalor supports classes in the humanities and social sciences.

Helaine and Catherine Kudlick at Teaching History in the 21st Century

Educational Partnerships

Early in the month, Outreach Manager Samantha Weald and Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal attended the Teaching History in the 21st Century conference, hosted at the University of California, Berkeley. We presented alongside Catherine Kudlick, Director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability and Professor of History at San Francisco State University, about teaching with Wikipedia assignments in the history classroom.

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Samantha visited Louisiana to join faculty at various universities in the area. At Xavier University of Louisiana, a group of instructors will work together in a faculty learning community in the academic year 2017–18. Their theme for the year is “Making knowledge public using educational technology,” so several of them will be incorporating Wikipedia assignments into their classes. Jami and Samantha joined for a two-day workshop about assignment design, understanding Wikipedia, and how to make the most of Wiki Education’s tools. Since Xavier University paid to bring Wiki Education’s staff to campus, we took the opportunity to visit nearby Tulane University and Louisiana State University. Samantha presented to instructors at Tulane, and we joined LSU’s Summer Institute, run by our partners from Communication across the Curriculum.

A participant at the Xavier University of Louisiana workshop

The following week, Samantha was a keynote speaker at Fordham University’s Faculty Technology Day. She presented about how Wikipedia assignments can develop students as digital citizens. Attendees learned about digital literacy and how they can enhance their pedagogy to build this skill in the classroom. We’re excited to work with more instructors who value media and digitally literate students as we continue supporting them in the Classroom Program.

Classroom Program

Jami presenting at LSU

Status of the Classroom Program for Spring 2017 in numbers, as of May 31:

  • 358 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (164, or 46%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 7,487 student editors were enrolled
  • 64% of students were up-to-date with the student training.
  • Students edited 9,030 articles, created 814 new entries, and added 5.87 million words.

Though a number of courses on a quarter system are still active on Wikipedia, the vast majority of our Spring 2017 cohort have completed their Wikipedia assignments.

With the summer approaching, the Classroom Program team will be evaluating how we did during Wiki Education’s most successful term to date. While growth is certainly one marker of success, we want to ensure that we continue to improve the quality of both our support and our students’ Wikipedia contributions. Toward this end, Helaine will spend time this summer reflecting on what went well during the Spring 2017 term and what projects and procedures are worth revisiting. In particular, we’ll be looking at ways to provide better support for the grading and assessment of Wikipedia assignments as well as thinking about how to best support different assignment types and class structures. We’ll also evaluate the success of Wiki Education Office Hours, an initiative we launched in Fall 2016 to provide instructors with an opportunity to interact with Wiki Education staff on a monthly basis using a video conferencing platform. We want to make sure that the support we offer is useful to our instructors as well as our staff, and the summer is an ideal time to examine our current practices and implement any changes for the Fall term. We will also be looking closely at the results of our Spring 2017 instructor survey to refine and expand our materials and resources.

Student work highlights:

A student in David Sartorius’s History of the Caribbean class wrote an article on coartación, a system of manumission — where a slave owner frees his slave(s) — in Latin American slave societies. During this process, slaves would make a down payment to their owner and set a price for the cost of their freedom, conferring on them the status of “coartado.” The slave owner would then be unable to raise the price for the coartado’s freedom, nor could they treat a coartado as they would other slaves, effectively limiting or restricting the owner’s power. Coartados were granted special rights and privileges, such as receiving a portion of any money the master received for renting the coartado to others for work. Owners were also obligated to pay for the support of the coartado until they paid off the total cost of freedom. It was more common to see women and urban slaves seek manumission, as it would often be easier for them to gain outside employment.

Carie King’s class on Advanced Writing and Research chose to work together on a single article: Danforth Chapels. These chapels were created using funding provided by the Danforth Foundation, which was created in 1927 by William and Elizabeth Danforth, the former of whom co-founded the Ralston Purina Company. Twenty-four chapels were built across the United States, fifteen of which were built on colleges and universities, with the first constructed in 1941. The Danforth Foundation had only three requirements for the chapels: they must include religious imagery, they must have a plaque with the inscription “Dedicated to the worship of God with the prayer that here in the communion with the highest those who enter may acquire the spiritual power to aspire nobly, adventure daringly, serve humbly.”, and the Danforths must be allowed to have a say in the chapel’s design. While the chapels tended to focus predominantly on Christian iconography, the chapels were also designed to accommodate other faiths. Out of the twenty-four chapels built, three have been torn down to make way for other buildings and two have been designated National Historic Landmarks.

FE-SEM images of a hierarchical synthetically made ZnO film (from the self-cleaning surfaces article).
Image: Journal.pone.0014475.g001.tif, by Jun Wu, Jun Xia, Wei Lei, & Baoping Wang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

While self-cleaning surfaces sound like something a person who hates housework might dream up, they constitute a real class of natural and synthetic materials. Natural materials in this category include lotus leaves, butterfly wings and the feet of geckos. There was no Wikipedia article about this topic until it was created by students in Edmund Palermo’s Biology in Materials Science class. And if self-cleaning surfaces sound like science fiction, four-dimensional printing might be even more challenging to wrap your mind around. Created by another group of students in the class, the article explains that 4-D printing is a form of 3-D printing that incorporates the ability to transform after they have been printed, in response to certain circumstances. Bioglass 45S5 is a form of glass that can be directly bonded to bone. It can be used to reconstruct and regenerate bone and tooth enamel. Students made substantial improvements to the article by expanding it and reworking parts of it. Resilin, a protein produced by insects and other arthropods, is the most efficient elastic protein known. A student group expanded a short, three-paragraph article into something substantial by adding sections about the occurrence of the protein, its amino acid structure and composition, potential clinical applications, and work with the protein in genetically modified organisms. Other student groups substantially expanded the limpet, natural fiber, fibril, trabecula, surgical mesh, and soft robotics articles.

Community Engagement

Eryk Salvaggio
Image: Eryk Salvaggio.jpg, by Owlsmcgee, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

May began with the announcement that the Deep Carbon Observatory would be sponsoring a Visiting Scholar. The Deep Carbon Observatory is an interdisciplinary initiative through which about 1,000 chemists, physicists, geologists, and biologists from 35 countries explore the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon deep within Earth. As part of its commitment to disseminate knowledge with the broader science community and with the public, we’re excited that it will facilitate the improvement of deep carbon-related subjects on Wikipedia through the Visiting Scholars program. See Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady’s blog post announcement for more information.

We also announced the placement of a new Visiting Scholar at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Eryk Salvaggio, who edits as User:Owlsmcgee. Regular readers of these reports or our blog likely recognize Eryk’s name from his tenure as Wiki Education’s former Communications Manager. He has previously made substantial contributions to a number of articles on Japanese culture, women in the arts, and political prisoners, and will be using Brown’s resources to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of an important academic area: ethnic studies. Read more about this Visiting Scholars collaboration in our blog post.

Reverse side of the Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar
Image: Vermont battle bennington sesquicentennial half dollar commemorative reverse.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Existing Visiting Scholars continued to make excellent contributions to Wikipedia. George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum brought two articles up to Wikipedia’s highest level of quality, Featured Article. The Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar is a commemorative fifty-cent coin struck in 1927, marking the 150th anniversary of Vermont’s independence. The coin’s obverse depicts Vermont leader Ira Allen and the reverse, controversially, includes an unspecified big cat. Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. was a 1928 case concerning the question of liability to an unforeseeable plaintiff. When railroad employees helped two men board a train, one of the men dropped a package which exploded, causing a large scale to hit Helen Palsgraf. Palsgraf sued the railroad company, winning $6,000 from a jury. The decision was upheld on first appeal, but overturned when the company appealed a second time. Chief Judge Benjamin Cardozo wrote that the employees did not have a “duty of care” to Palsgraf because they could not have foreseen the harm when assisting the man with the package.

Ella Maria Dietz Clymer
Image: ELLA MARIA DIETZ CLYMER.jpg, by Frances Elizabeth Willard, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Northeastern University Visiting Scholar Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight is a prolific Wikipedian. This month she created or improved many articles on women writers, including nine “B-class” articles, which places them in the top 2.7% of all articles by quality. Emma Augusta Sharkey (1858-1902) was a writer, journalist, dime novelist, and storyteller who was one of a small group of women writers of her era who earned more than $6,000/year for her writing. Florence Huntley (1861-1912) was a journalist, editor, humorist, and occult author from Ohio. Ella Maria Dietz Clymer (1847-1920) was an actress and poet in New York City best known for her time as president of the women’s club Sorosis. Hattie Tyng Griswold (1842-1909) was a Massachusetts-born author and poet known for works like Apple Blossoms, Waiting on Destiny, Lucile and Her Friends, and The Home Life of Great Authors. Using pen names “Australia” and “Lucrece,” Cora Linn Daniels (b. 1852) was an author, editor, bibliophile, and Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Harriett Ellen Grannis Arey (1819-1901) was an educator, author, editor, and publisher from Vermont. Ellen Russell Emerson (1837-1907) was an author and ethnologist from Maine who became the first woman to be an elected member of the Society Americaine de France. Lucinda Barbour Helm (1839-1897) was an author, editor, and religious activist from Kentucky who founded the Woman’s Parsonage and Home Mission Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Louise Manning Hodgkins (1846-2935) was an educator, author, and missionary newspaper editor from Massachusetts who taught at Lawrence College and Wellesley College and served as editor of The Heathen Woman’s Friend.

Program Support


LiAnna with California State Senator Bill Dodd at Diablo Valley College

In early May, Director of Programs LiAnna Davis was invited to speak at Diablo Valley College in Pleasanton, California, on the topic of fake news. LiAnna was joined on the panel by East Bay Times education reporter Sam Richards, UC Berkeley e-learning and information studies librarian Cody Hennesy, California State Senator Bill Dodd, and student trustee Kwame Baah-Arhin. The panel was well received, and a video of it is available.

Later in the month, Ryan was invited to organize a session, “Integrating Wikipedia into the Curriculum,” at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Adjunct Summer Institute in New York. Ryan was joined by two other Wiki Education program participants, Iris Finkel of Hunter College and Anne Leonard of the New York City College of Technology, who shared their experiences assigning students to contribute to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.

Also in May, Ryan and Helaine sent out the fourth monthly newsletter to program participants. We piloted the newsletter as a way to stay in touch with instructors, disseminate information about ways to get involved, build community by sharing instructor publications and activities, and otherwise provide an update of what’s going on at Wiki Education. The final newsletter solicited survey responses to gauge its effectiveness and determine whether we should continue the project in the next fiscal year.

Blog posts:

External media:

Digital Infrastructure

May was devoted primarily to bug fixes and refinements, maintenance work, and shoring up the technical foundations of the Dashboard. This work included upgrading our Ruby on Rails version to the latest release, and beginning a migration to the industry-standard Redux library for our client-side JavaScript code, along with several performance improvements and better handling of inconsistent data about individual articles and revisions.

With a support contract from the Wikimedia Foundation, we also started work in late May on a set of bug fixes and design improvements that affect the Wikimedia Programs & Events Dashboard, a fork of the Wiki Education Dashboard software.

Beginning May 30, Product Manager Sage Ross, along with Wikimedia Foundation Design Researcher Jonathan Morgan, is mentoring three summer interns — Sejal Khatri, Keerthana S., and Medha Bansal — for design and coding projects to improve the Dashboard.

Research and Academic Engagement

Research Fellow Zach McDowell finished writing a white paper summarizing the Student Learning Outcomes Fall 2016 research, along with preliminary analysis. Along with the white paper, Zach has prepared the data for release, including codebooks, sample analysis, and data visualization. The report is in final draft form as of the end of the month, for release in June.

In addition, Zach is preparing to give a talk at the New Media Consortium conference in Boston on June 14 along with Joseph Reagle on the research.

Research Assistant Mahala Stewart wrapped up her contract with us at the end of the month. Mahala was a great help with Zach’s analysis work, and we thank her for her help and wish her the best.

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration

Expenses for May 2017

For the month of May, our expenses were $136,618 versus our approved budget of $162,925. The $26k variance is the net result of continued savings in staffing vacancies ($30k) and travel ($7k) offset by the timing of Professional Services ($15k).

Our year-to-date expenditures were $1,623,232. We continue to be well below our budgeted expenditure of $2,081,427 by $458k. As with the monthly variance, a large portion of the variance is a result of staffing vacancies ($226k), as well as additional savings in Professional Services ($53k); Travel ($95k); Marketing and Fundraising Events ($30k); Board and Staff meetings ($46k); Staff Development ($26k); and Printing ($19k). These were slightly offset by higher expenditures for temporary help ($13k); additional rent ($21k) and unforeseen government filing – legal fees ($10k).

Expenses for May 2017 (year to date)


In May, Wiki Education received a $99,996 grant from the Wikimedia Foundation as part of their Simple Annual Plan Grant funding. The grant covers the time period of May 1 to September 30, 2017.

Executive Director Frank Schulenburg, Director of Development and Strategy TJ Bliss, and LiAnna engaged in a four-hour workshop on strategic communications for our forthcoming fundraising campaign with our media firm, PR & Company. Based on the workshop, we’ve created a strategic messaging guide that we will use in conversations, LOIs, and other engagements with potential funders.

Office of the ED

Current priorities:

  • Donor and prospect relationship management
  • Wiki Education’s in-person board meeting
  • Preparing for FY 2017/18

In May, Frank and the members of the senior leadership team finalized the first version of the annual plan and budget and sent it to the board. Board members then provided feedback via email and phone calls. The second and final version of the document was sent to the board at the end of the month. The board will vote on the 2017–18 plan and budget during its upcoming in-person meeting in San Francisco. Frank also attended board committee meetings and collaborated with board chair Diana Strassmann in planning the event in San Francisco.

In preparation for next fiscal year’s major campaign, Frank met with Eric Newton, Innovation Chief and Professor of Practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University. As a result, Wiki Education will partner with the Walter Cronkite School on a number of grant proposals.

Frank also created and submitted a grant report and a letter of intent, and engaged with a number of existing donors. Starting in June, TJ Bliss will support Wiki Education’s development work.

Visitors and guests

  • Eric Newton, Innovation Chief and Professor of Practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

by Ryan McGrady at July 06, 2017 04:30 PM

July 05, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - there once was a lady from #Estonia

Once upon a time there was a Wikipedian from Estonia. He decided to write about a fellow countryman, Kersti Kaljulaid. When your Estonian is as good as mine, it is not a name you remember or a person you are likely to have come across.

At the time this was the same for the English Wikipedians; she could not be notable because there were not enough sources in English.. So for all the good reasons the article was in danger. Our Estonian Wikipedian said: "wait a week". A week later Mrs Kaljulaid was the president of Estonia.

I have taken the liberty to add additional data in Wikidata. Mrs Kaljulaid received two awards and others award winners have been added. No sources for them in English either. To be brutally honest, incidents like this prove why English Wikipedia is only a subset of the sum of all knowledge. Because of this insistence on English sources, English Wikipedia can not cover the sum of all knowledge. People who seek reputable information on foreign subjects will not find it.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at July 05, 2017 05:16 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Welcome, TJ Bliss!

TJ Bliss
TJ Bliss (photo credit: Nancy Rothstein/CC BY)

I’m excited to announce that TJ Bliss has agreed to join Wiki Education as Director of Development and Strategy. Many of us have gotten to know TJ from his former role as our program officer at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s decided to join our team.

In his new role, TJ is responsible for overseeing our development strategy, developing relationships with key decision makers in the philanthropy community, and working with Wiki Education’s board on creating our next organizational strategy. TJ has spent the last three years overseeing the Open Educational Resources portfolio at the Hewlett Foundation. Prior to his time at Hewlett, TJ was the Director of Assessment and Accountability for the State Department of Education in Idaho. He was also a member of the Open Education Group at BYU and the OER Policy Fellow at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. TJ has a Ph.D. in Education, a Master’s Degree in Biology, and Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular and Microbiology. As a master’s student, he authored the Wikipedia article on Nematology. While he didn’t have any help from a faculty mentor on this, he wishes he had!

Outside of work, TJ enjoys spending time with his five little kids, playing tennis, jamming on the cello and piano, and riding his bike up mountain grades. TJ also enjoys cooking, watching BBC dramas, and researching his family history (sometimes simultaneously).

Welcome, TJ!

by Frank Schulenburg at July 05, 2017 04:05 PM

July 04, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Editing to change the world: Vinicius Siqueira

Photo by Ruby Mizrahi/ Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

On 26 April this year, Vinicius Siqueira celebrated the tenth anniversary of his first edit on Wikipedia. In the last decade, he has helped grow the Portuguese Wikipedia by creating hundreds of articles, making several thousand edits, and helping his fellow students learn how to edit. Over the years, Siqueira has charged himself with different tasks within the Wikipedia community as his aspirations changed.

At the age of fourteen, Siqueira joined Wikipedia. His first edit was to create an article about Mário Neme, a Brazilian writer. He followed this edit with nearly 40,000 more in the next ten years, which included creating over 650 new articles. At that time, Wikipedia played a dual role in Siqueira’s life by encouraging him to dig for information and share what he learned with the world. Siqueira shared with us his memories about his early days on Wikipedia:

“It started spontaneously, pushed by my curiosity and desire to discover and learn new things. I wrote and translated many articles in Portuguese. In the meantime, I’ve realized how big this project is and how important it is for people to find accurate information on anything in their own homes for free.

I believed that I was part of a revolution, a sense that every single person has the right to access information. The belief that knowledge should not be restricted by boundaries or barriers made me a lover of Wikipedia as a knowledge sharing tool. Many volunteers around the globe with this same passion created the biggest encyclopedia in the world. I love being part of this!”

Siqueira’s efforts kicked off with translating articles from the English and Spanish Wikipedias to grow the Portuguese Wikipedia, choosing topics of interest to him. However, once he started university, he redirected his energy towards a more specific discipline.

“I studied medicine and started to write more about medical topics,” he recalled. “It is very important to have accurate information [about medicine] in every language in the world, so that people can get informed about their health. … Wikipedia plays an important role on the internet by providing this advice free of charge.” Studying medicine not only influenced Siqueira’s contributions to Wikipedia; it helped with Wikipedia’s outreach to new communities on his campus.

In 2012, Brazil was one of the first countries to adopt the Wikipedia Education Program, where educators assign their students to edit Wikipedia as part of their class requirements. Siqueira was Wikipedia’s Campus Ambassador at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) where he taught his fellow students the editing basics.

“Thanks to this program, … the Portuguese Wikipedia has dozens of quality articles about physics (which used to be a weak area in the project),” says Siqueira. “The program helped us maintain good relationships with professors at the largest university in Brazil as well. That helped spread the word about Wikipedia to hundreds of students.”

Besides editing Wikipedia articles and reviewing edits made by new users, Siqueira is a member of Wikimedia User Group Brazil, where he helps the community organize events and projects to support the movement in his country. Despite demands on his time as a senior medical student, there is always something that encourages him to keep contributing to Wikipedia.

“There is something that makes my eyes shine and I feel really proud when I see someone reading or citing something I wrote on Wikipedia,” Siqueira said. “I’m from Brazil, a developing country where Wikipedia is a vital source of information because it’s free. People can get access to information on the internet, using data on their mobile phones or school networks, etc…. Wikipedia is a revolutionary tool for people in the world because it has made access to knowledge easier than ever before.”

Interview by Ruby Mizrahi, Interviewer
Profile by Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Ruby Mizrahi and Samir Elsharbaty at July 04, 2017 10:37 PM