May 23, 2017


Naturalists in court and courtship

The Bombay Natural History Society offers an interesting case in the history of amateur science in India and there are many little stories hidden away that have not quite been written about, possibly due to the lack of publicly accessible archival material. Interestingly two of the founders of the BNHS were Indians and hardly anything has been written about them in the pages of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society where even lesser known British members have obituaries. I suspect that this lack of obituaries can be traced to the political and social turmoil of the period. Even a major two-part history of the BNHS by Salim Ali in 1978 makes no mention of the Indians founders. Both the founders were doctors with an interest in medical botany and were connected to other naturalists not just because of their interest in plants but also perhaps through their involvement in social reform. The only colleague who could have written their obituaries was the BNHS member Dr Kanhoba Ranchoddas Kirtikar who probably did not because of his conservative-views and a fall-out with the reformists. This is merely my suspicion and it arises from reading between the lines when I recently started to examine, create and upgrade the relevant entries on them on the English language Wikipedia. There are also some rather interesting connections.

Sakharam Arjun
Dr Sakharam Arjun (Raut) (1839-16 April 1885) - This medical doctor with an interest in botanical remedies was for sometime a teacher of botany at the Grant Medical College - but his name perhaps became more well known after a historic court case dealing with child marriage and women's rights, that of Dadaji vs. Rukhmabai. Rukhmabai had been married off at the age of 11 and stayed with her mother and step-father Sakharam Arjun. When she reached puberty, she was asked by Dadaji to join him. Rukhmabai refused and Sakharam Arjun supported her. It led to a series of court cases, the first of which was in Rukhmabai's favour. This rankled the Hindu conservatives who believed that this was a display of the moral superiority of the English. The judge had in reality found fault with English law and had commented on the patriarchal and unfair system of marriage that had already been questioned back in England. A subsequent appeal was ruled in favour of Dadaji and Rukhmabai was ordered to go to his home or face six months in prison. Rukhmabai was in the meantime writing a series of articles in the Times of India under the pen-name of A Hindoo Lady (wish there was a nice online Indian newspapers archive) and she declared that she would rather take the maximal prison penalty. This led to further worries - with Queen Victoria and the Viceroy jumping into the fray. Max Müller commented on the case, while Behramji Malabari and Allan Octavian Hume (now retired from ornithology; there may be another connection as Sakharam Arjun seems to have been a member of the Theosophical Society, founded by Hume and others before he quit it) debated various aspects. Somewhat surprisingly Hume tended to being less radical about reforms than Malabari.

Dr Rukhmabai
Dr Edith Pechey
Dr Sakharam Arjun did not live to see the judgement, and he probably died early thanks to the stress it created. His step-daughter Rukhmabai became one of the earliest Indian women doctors and was supported in her cause by Dr Edith Pechey, another pioneering English woman doctor, who went on to marry H.M. Phipson. Phipson of course was a more famous founder of the BNHS. Rukhmabai's counsel included the lawyer J.D.Inverarity who was a big-game hunter and BNHS member. To add to the mess of BNHS members in court, there was (later Lt.-Col.) Kanhoba Ranchoddas Kirtikar (1850-9 May 1917), a student of Sakharam Arjun and like him interested in medicinal plants. Kirtikar however became a hostile witness in the Rukhmabai case, and supported Dadaji. Rukhmabai, in her writings as a Hindoo Lady, indicated her interest in studying medicine. Dr Pechey and others set up a fund for supporting her medical education in London. The whole case caused a tremendous upheaval in India with a division across multiple axes -  nationalists, reformists, conservatives, liberals, feminists, Indians, Europeans - everyone seems to have got into the debate. The conservative Indians believed that Rukhmabai's defiance of Hindu customs was the obvious result of a western influence.

J.D.Inverarity, Barrister
and Vice President of BNHS (1897-1923)
Counsel for Rukhmabai.
It is somewhat odd that the BNHS journal carries no obituary whatsoever to this Indian founding member. I suspect that the only one who may have been asked to write an obituary would have been Kirtikar and he may have refused to write given his stance in court. Another of Sakharam Arjun's students was a Gujarati botanist named Jayakrishna Indraji who perhaps wrote India's first non-English botanical treatise (at least the first that seems to have been based on modern scientific tradition). Indraji seems to be rather sadly largely forgotten except in some pockets of Kutch, in Bhuj. I recently discovered that the organization GUIDE in Bhuj have tried to bring back Indraji into modern attention.

Atmaram Pandurang
The other Indian founder of the BNHS was Dr Atmaram Pandurang Tarkhadkar (1823-1898)- This medical doctor was a founder of the Prarthana Samaj in 1867 in Bombay. He and his theistic reform movement were deeply involved in the Age of Consent debates raised by the Rukhmabai case. His organization seems to have taken Max Muller's suggestion that the ills of society could not be cured by laws but by education and social reform. If Sakharam Arjun is not known enough, even lesser is known of Atmaram Pandurang (at least online!) but one can find another natural history connection here - his youngest daughter - Annapurna "Ana" Turkhud tutored Rabindranath Tagore in English and the latter was smitten. Tagore wrote several poems to her where she is referred to as "Nalini". Ana however married Harold Littledale (3 October 1853-11 May 1930), professor of history and English literature, later principal of the Baroda College (Moreshwar Atmaram Turkhud, Ana's older brother, was a vice-principal at Rajkumar College Baroda - another early natural history hub), and if you remember an earlier post where his name occurs - Littledale was the only person from the educational circle to contribute to Allan Octavian Hume's notes on birds! Littledale also documented bird trapping techniques in Gujarat. Sadly, Ana did not live very long and died in her thirties in Edinburgh somewhere around 1891.

It would appear that many others in the legal profession were associated with natural history - we have already seen the case of Courtenay Ilbert, who founded the Simla Natural History Society in 1885. Ilbert lived at Chapslee House in Simla - now still a carefully maintained heritage home (that I had the fortune of visiting recently) owned by the kin of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ilbert was involved with the eponymous Ilbert Bill which allowed Indian judges to pass resolutions on cases involving Europeans - a step forward in equality that also led to rancour. Other law professionals in the BNHS - included Sir Norman A. Macleod and  S. M. Robinson. We know that at least a few marriages were mediated by associations with the BNHS and these include - Norman Boyd Kinnear married a relative of Walter Samuel Millard (the man who kindly showed a child named Salim Ali around the BNHS); R.C. Morris married Heather, daughter of Angus Kinloch (another BNHS member who lived near Longwood Shola, Kotagiri) - and even before the BNHS, there were other naturalists connected by marriage - Brian Hodgson's brother William was married to Mary Rosa the sister of S.R. Tickell (of Tickell's flowerpecker fame); Sir Walter Elliot (of Anathana fame) was married to Maria Dorothea Hunter Blair while her sister Jane Anne Eliza Hunter Blair was married to Philip Sclater, a leading figure in zoology. The project that led to the Fauna of British India was promoted by Sclater and Jerdon (a good friend of Elliot) - these little family ties may have provided additional impetus.

In 2014, someone in London asked me if I had heard of an India-born naturalist named E.K. Robinson. At that time I did not know of him but it turns out that Edward Kay Robinson (1857?-1928) born in Naini Tal was the founder of the British (Empire) Naturalists' Association. He fostered a young and promising journalist who would later dedicate a work to him - To E.K.R. from R.K. - Rudyard Kipling. Now E.K.R. had an older brother named Phil Robinson who was also in the newspaper line - and became famous for his brand of Anglo-Indian nature writing - a style that was more prominent in the writings of E.H. Aitken (Eha). Now Phil - Philip Stewart Robinson - despite the books he wrote like In my Indian Garden and Noah's ark, or, "Mornings in the zoo." Being a contribution to the study of unnatural history is not a well-known name in Indian natural history writing. One reason for his works being unknown may be the infamy that Phil achieved from affairs aboard ships between India and England that led to a scandalous divorce case and bankruptcy.

by Shyamal L. (noreply@blogger.com) at May 23, 2017 07:40 AM

Sam Wilson

WikiCite 2017

(Firefox asked me to rate it this morning, with a little picture of a broken heart and five stars to select from. I gave it five (’cause it’s brilliant) and then it sent me to a survey on mozilla.com titled “Heavy User V2”, which sounds like the name of an confused interplanetary supply ship.)

Today WikiCite17 begins. Three days of talking and hacking about the galaxy that comprises Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikisource, citations, and all bibliographic data. There are lots of different ways into this topic, and I’m focusing not on Wikipedia citations (which is the main drive of the conference, I think), but on getting (English) Wikisource metadata a tiny bit further along (e.g. figure out how to display work details on a Wikisource edition page); and on a little side project of adding a Wikidata-backed citation system to WordPress.

The former is currently stalled on me not understanding the details of P629 ‘edition or translation of’ — specifically whether it should be allowed to have multiple values.

The latter is rolling on quite well, and I’ve got it searching and displaying and the beginnings of updating ‘book’ records on Wikidata. Soon it shall be able to make lists of items, and insert the lists (or individual citations of items on them) into blog posts and pages. I’m not sure what the state of the art is in PHP of packages for formatting citations, but I’m hoping there’s something good out there.

And here is a scary chicken I saw yesterday at the Naturhistorisches Museum:

Scary chicken (Deinonychus antirrhopus)

by Sam Wilson at May 23, 2017 05:49 AM

Wikimedia Foundation

Copyright for Australia that makes sense. That’s fair.

Photo by Thennicke, CC BY-SA 4.0.


Imagine a land in which everything was outlawed,
except for the things that were specifically allowed.
Our laws are based on principles rather than prescriptions.
Except for copyright.  –Peter Martin


Have you ever done one or more of these?

  • Shared photos you didn’t take on social media?
  • Re-posted or create memes?
  • Backed-up your DVDs?
  • Forwarded an email?
  • Photographed graffiti or a mural?
  • Quoted from an article or book on your blog?

All these actions copy other people’s copyright material. In Australia, none of these common practices are allowed under copyright law without permission.

With this in mind, volunteer Wikipedians in Australia are highlighting the need for the introduction of fair use in Australia through a banner on the English Wikipedia. In doing so, they add their voices to six government reports since 1998 which have recommended introducing fair use to bring balance to copyright rules. You can visit FairCopyrightOz to learn about how Wikipedia does, and Australia could, benefit from fair use.

In Australia all copying requires permission unless you are only using an insubstantial part of a copyrighted work (which is typically very hard to judge), or the Copyright Act provides a specific exception. The most important exceptions, the fair dealing exceptions, cover research, study, criticism, review, parody, satire, reporting the news, and professional advice as long as the use is “fair”. Any use not for one of these purposes will be illegal, no matter how fair or reasonable it is, unless the government introduces a specific exception for it. This means Australian copyright law cannot keep pace with change, as every new technology or activity requires its own new exception. This takes time and a lot of advocacy. Using a VCR at home to tape television programs was illegal until the legislation was amended in 2006, over 30 years after their invention.

Fair use would fix this. The United States’ fair use law judges each instance on whether it is fair, guided by four fairness factors:

  • purpose and character of the use;
  • nature of the copyright material;
  • amount and substantiality of the part used; and
  • effect upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyright material.

In concentrating on what is fair, it adds flexibility to the law, allowing it to keep up with changes in technology and society. Any Wikipedian who has ever uploaded a fair use file will be familiar with the “fairness” test and the thorough analysis it requires.

Without fair use, Australian copyright law will always lag behind common practice. The lack of flexibility to allow socially beneficial uses—like non-commercial private uses or incidental and technical uses—greatly limits people’s ability to interact with their own culture. The difficulty, or often impossibility, of getting permission means that groups like schools, libraries, archives and technology companies are limited in what they can do, even when their activities aren’t harming copyright owners. It also means Australian schools end up paying millions of dollars each year to use publicly accessible online content on websites that you use at home for free. No one is asking to be paid for using these websites, and the money rarely makes it to the copyright owner. Just as importantly, the use is transformative and socially beneficial. But because the Act doesn’t say such uses are allowed, payment still has to be made.

Wikipedia is one place where Australians regularly notice the benefits of fair use. Around 10% of Wikipedia pages in English have some form of fair use content—that’s over 500,000 articles quoting from a book or an article; showing a company or sports team logo that contains an artistic work; including an audio-sample or album cover; or referencing a book or film title image.

Imagine reading the Wikipedia article on Australian Markus Zusak’s classic The Book Thief, without seeing its front cover, or reading about the classic song Land Down Under by Men At Work without hearing a short clip from it. That’s what Australians would have if Wikipedia’s users could not upload files under the principles of fair use. On the English Wikipedia, copyright rules are based on US fair use guidelines that support the values of the free culture movement. Australian users in Australia should have the benefit of the same principles.

Starting this week, banners will appear to Australians accessing English language Wikipedia articles over the next few weeks. It is rare for Wikipedia editors to place banners across articles. It is even rarer to draw attention to a legislative issue. Wikipedia prides itself on its neutral point of view, after all. However, in a discussion among Australian editors on whether to take action in support of the recent Productivity Commission report, two things became abundantly clear.

  1. Australian Wikipedians strongly felt that it was important to our mission of public education—that the general public should know that we, as volunteers, are already benefitting every day from fair use in Wikipedia articles. Consequently, Wikipedia’s readers do too.
  1. There are misconceptions about what fair use means in practice which we are in a position to dispel. Some Australian Wikipedians commented that they thought Fair Use already is Australian law, which goes to show just how far common practice differs from the law.

Allowing fair use images in Wikipedia is a matter of editorial policy determined by each language community. Wikipedia editors take great care to ensure that all content is free for other people to use in as many circumstances as possible. We want other people to improve and share Wikipedia’s educational resources far and wide. The inclusion of fair use material in Wikipedia reduces the ability for it to be re-used by those who live in countries without this exception. However, Wikipedians for the English-language Wikipedia have determined that the benefits of having these materials available outweigh the concerns that fair use might not be open enough.

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) and Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) have long championed fair use for Australia and were happy to help support Wikipedians in raising awareness of this issue. Parallel to the Wikipedia banner campaign, on Monday they launched faircopyright.org.au where citizens can learn more, and take action by writing to their member of Parliament—encouraging the government to accept the fair use recommendation made by the recent Productivity Commission Report and other enquiries. As Peter Martin has written in his article about this fair use campaign, this is a first for the Australian Wikipedia community. Wikipedians have also written a new article on the History of fair use proposals in Australia to help increase the level of verifiable and neutral information available to the public on this matter of public policy.

To learn more, visit FairCopyrightOz on Meta-Wiki, or visit the campaign site set up by the ADA/EFA: faircopyright.org.au.

Liam Wyatt, Wikimedia community member
Stephen LaPorte, Senior Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation

by Liam Wyatt and Stephen LaPorte at May 23, 2017 02:05 AM

Mahmoud Hashemi

Wikicite 2017

Having a great pre-WikiCite gelato social here in Vienna. Also, say hi to the newest Hatnote contributor, Pawel. He does the frontend for Montage and also does great work on Monumental. As you can see, we’re all pretty excited for what Wikicite 2017 will bring (and also ice cream).

May 23, 2017 12:16 AM

May 22, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: WikiDonne helps document the unknown histories of women; news in brief

Photo by Beatrice, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Did you know that the screen icon Hedy Lamarr was also the scientist who invented spread spectrum technology? That the La Blouse Roumaine artist Henri Matisse was inspired not only by traditional Romanian clothing, but also the beloved celebrities Elvira Popescu, Martha Bibescu, Anna de Noailles and Elena Văcărescu? That a crater on Venus bears the name Montessori in honor of Maria Montessori, a pedagogue and the first Italian woman to graduate with a degree in medicine?

Italian Wikipedians wanted to give everyone access to obscure or little known information like this about women by holding The Women You Have Never Met (In Spanish: Las Mujeres Que Nunca Conociste) editing contest.

This initiative, started on the Spanish Wikipedia by the Iberocoop cooperative group and adopted in Italy by the Wikimedia user group WikiDonne, is a translation and writing biography contest that aims to improve and expand female biographies on Wikipedia, especially in the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages.

Since 2015 the project has helped organize edit-a-thons (editing workshops) in several cities that resulted in the creation and improvement of over 1,700 articles.

The writing project took place between 25 March and 3 April 2017. The event ended with the announcement of the winners on Saturday, 8 April, 2017 at the MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art Rome. The initiative was promoted by Roma Capitale, Department of Cultural Growth – Provincial Capitol for Cultural Heritage and was sponsored by the Roma Simple Team.

WikiDonne, which works to bridge the gender gap on Wikipedia, partnered with CoderDojo Roma, an association that promotes creative programming and responsible use of the internet for girls, children and their families, the Rosa Digitale association (Equal Opportunities for Technology and Computer Science), La Sapienza (University of Rome) and Common Spaces to organize the writing project.

The competition was open for two participant levels: Wikipedian experts and new users which helps encourage newbies and older participants simultaneously.

Fourteen participants from Italy wrote 73 new biographies and edited 477 others.

The Best Article prize was awarded to the English biography translation of Rose Cecil O’Neill (1874 – 1944), a comic stripteaser, writer and illustrator from the United States who owes her international fame to the creation of the comic book character Kewpie in 1909. Her Wikipedia article tells us that she was the first comic book author in the United States.

The rest of the prizes were Amazon vouchers awarded to:

  • First place for user FloraFlavia, who earned 1002 points.
  • Second place for user Mickey83, who earned 357 points.
  • In addition, the Best Article prize was awarded to user Demostene119.

We look forward to next year’s competition!

Camelia Boban, WikiDonne user group

In brief

FDC members meet in Warsaw: Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) is a diverse group of Wikimedia community members that gives recommendations on the annual grants program of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Committee meets twice every year to review and give recommendations on the grant proposals. On 12–14 May, the Committee gathered in Warsaw, Poland where they discussed four new grant proposals and provided their feedback on the Foundation Annual Plan.

Wikimania update: This year, 110 applicants to the Wikimania Scholarship Program were offered and accepted a full or partial scholarship to attend Wikimania 2017, the annual conference of the movement which will be held this year on 9–13 August in Montréal, Québec, Canada. In addition to that, the program committee has finished their review of the program submissions. Applicants for submissions are expected to receive a notification of acceptance or rejection on their email by the end of this week. The conference program is expected to be announced by the end of this month. More updates on registration and accommodation can be found on Wikimedia-l.

Vietnamese Wikipedian Lê Thy passes away: Thy was an editor and administrator on the Vietnamese Wikipedia with over 12,000 edits mainly about Vietnam’s history. Thy struggled with cancer for long time before his death. Wikipedians are leaving tribute messages on his talk page.

Colombo workshop: Mohammed Galib Hasan attended a Global Young Leaders Peace Camp conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka from May 4–8. He gave a talk on Wikipedia, Wikimedia, and how they fit into global education. 43 people from 14 countries attended. More information is available on Meta.

New free research accounts added to the Wikipedia Library: This month, new research accounts were added to the Wikipedia Library and other accounts were extended. The Wikipedia Library helps editors access reliable sources to improve Wikipedia and helps knowledge professionals share their collections with the public.

Wikimedia affiliates update: This month, the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee (AffCom) recognized the Wikivoyage Association User Group. The group plans to support Wikivoyage in various ways, including fundraising, promotion, and technical development. In addition to Wikivoyage Association, AffCom recognized the Commons Photographers User Group. The group is an international cooperative of photography enthusiasts who publish their images under free licenses, with the goal of transcribing the world visually and having others benefit from their work through Wikipedia and other projects.

Women in Red in France collaborate with German Wikipedians in a GLAM tour: Participants of WikiProject Women in Red in France, met with German Wikipedians early this month in a GLAM tour followed by an editing event for the anniversary of Johannes Gutenberg’s death.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Camelia Boban and Samir Elsharbaty at May 22, 2017 10:29 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - Presenting #authors in #Scholia

In a fairly rapid pace more and more literature and its authors are included in Wikidata. Many publications are used as sources in a Wikipedia and others get included because scientific "facts" supported by sources find their way in Wikidata as well.

Scholia is a tool that indicates where authors fit in (it does more <grin> but this blog post is only about this </grin>).

When multiple publications are known for an author, it shows the distribution of the publications in time, the number of pages (when known), venue statistics, a co-author graph, the topics, associated images, a topics-works matrix, education, employer/affiliation, academic tree, locations, citation statistics, citations by year and finally citing authors. There are two ways of expressing an opinion, it is exhaustive or it is a bit much. Whatever your choice, a tool like Scholia is awesome. Just the thought that Wikidata already has a relevance that justifies a tool like this.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 22, 2017 08:14 PM

#Wikidata - One size fits all but only size 47 serves me well

When a Wikipedia decides on its policies; in the end it is a "one size fits all". It is the policy wonks who decide and all editors have to abide by it and all readers suffer the consequences. Shoes are made for walking but you only get the best mileage out of shoes when they fit.

When you look at the categories for different Wikipedias they are not the same. Some explicitly exclude the standard information of other Wikipedias. As a result there is no universal standard and this is detrimental to readers who frequent multiple Wikipedias.

At the same time, a Wikipedia community may define its policies and practices as they see fit. This does not mean that they define what individual readers actually prefer only what they get presented. The amount of categories in use and their structure is a good example how editors define information given or withheld from readers. Increasingly the combined information from categories from Wikipedias find their way into Wikidata. When a Wikipedia does not include a category, by using the definitions for a category it is possible to present many if not most of what a category could have been.

The question is not can we show what articles of a Wikipedia would be in a category, the question is if our readers will be supported and if not what arguments we have to disallow readers the structures they personally prefer.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 22, 2017 07:18 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #21, 2017 (May 22, 2017)

TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2017, week 21 (Monday 22 May 2017) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
العربية • ‎čeština • ‎English • ‎British English • ‎español • ‎فارسی • ‎suomi • ‎français • ‎עברית • ‎italiano • ‎日本語 • ‎ಕನ್ನಡ • ‎नेपाली • ‎polski • ‎русский • ‎svenska • ‎українська • ‎Tiếng Việt • ‎中文

May 22, 2017 12:00 AM

May 21, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Results from the 2017 Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees elections

The results from this year’s community selection of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees are in! Congratulations to María Sefidari (User:Raystorm), Dariusz Jemielniak (User:pundit), and James Heilman (User:Doc James) for receiving the most community support. They will begin the three-year terms being filled through this process after they are officially appointed by the current trustees, which will occur at their August meeting at Wikimania 2017.

This year, 5,120 community members from over 170 home wikis participated—very close to the record setting 2015 total of 5,167, and with a voting period 24 hours shorter. The votes have been reviewed, counted, and certified by the Wikimedia Foundation elections committee, the Foundation staff advisors to the committee, and the Board of Trustees. More detailed results are currently available on Meta-Wiki and additional statistics on the elections will soon be available as well.

Thank you to everyone who voted! You helped make this one of the most representative elections that the Wikimedia Foundation has held. Thank you as well to all of the candidates—who put in a lot of time and offered even more of their time and talent to the movement. Finally, thank you to the dozens of volunteers and Foundation staff who have been working over the past couple of months to prepare the election.

The selection process for the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) and FDC Ombudsperson are now underway, with nominations and questions being accepted until May 28 (23:59 UTC). Voting for the five open seats on the FDC and open Ombudsperson position will begin on June 3 and conclude on June 11 (23:59 UTC). More information is available on Meta-Wiki.

Once again, congratulations to María, Dariusz, and James on receiving the community’s support to serve on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

Katie Chan, Chair, Wikimedia Foundation Elections Committee
Joe Sutherland, Community Advocate, Wikimedia Foundation

Photo credits, clockwise from top left (1, 2, 3), by Ruby Mizrahi, Victor Grigas, and Victor Grigas, all with the Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0Logo by Neolux, later revised by the Wikimedia Foundation, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

by Katie Chan and Joe Sutherland at May 21, 2017 12:14 AM

May 19, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

What impact can Wikimedia have in the world by 2030?

Photo by Mohannad Khatib, CC BY 2.0.

Building a strategy is hard. Imagine building a shared strategy across a movement of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, with no direct lines of communication with most of them, no predetermined outcome, and while rebuilding trust and good faith that have been eroded in the past. Imagine building a collaborative strategy from the ground up, in true Wikimedian fashion, through a dialogue happening around the world in dozens of languages.

That’s what we’re doing.

Over the past two months, people across the Wikimedia movement have participated in over 100 strategy discussions and shared over 1,800 thematic statements in response to the question: “What do we want to build or achieve together over the next 15 years?”

Answering this question was the first of several discussions we are undertaking to begin to define Wikimedia’s future role in the world and develop a collaborative strategy to fulfill that role. The discussions have taken place on-wiki, online, and in person, stretching across more than 70 countries and involving people from many different stakeholder groups. The largest in-person discussion took place at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, where over 350 community leaders converged to participate in small-group discussions about the future of our movement. On-wiki, more than 50 volunteers and groups helped coordinate discussions with their communities, and more than 85 affiliate groups have held multilingual strategy discussions to talk about the long-term strategic direction of Wikimedia.

The goal of these many conversations was to generate new ideas around potential directions that we can go in the next 15 years. We wanted to build a collective understanding of the key trends that matter to our many stakeholders.

Finding common ground

Over the past few weeks, the movement strategy team grouped the comments into five initial themes that emerged consistently across the conversations. Each of them now has a page on Meta-Wiki[1] with more details and information about how to participate in the relevant discussion:

It’s now time for us to consider, debate and weigh each of those. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. What impact would we have on the world if we focused on one of these themes? Which ones go together? We can’t do everything, so what do we have to leave behind? What can we not afford not to do? Who do we need to work with to make this happen?

These are the kinds of questions we must now answer. Strategy is ultimately about making choices and trade-offs, which means that we must decide what goals take precedence over others. This will inevitably lead to some disappointment. Now is the time to make your voice heard about what matters most. Join the online and offline discussions taking place on the five themes, and read up on the research currently being conducted to better understand those not yet in the conversation. Both the discussions and the research will be essential in determining where we focus our attention as a movement through 2030.

The discussions will take place between now and June 12. You can participate in as many discussions as you’d like, and also sign up for regular updates. Your comments will help us all better understand these themes, their implications, and the collective impact we can have on the world depending on what we focus on. By Wikimania, which will be held in Montreal in August 2017, we hope to reach agreement around a strategic direction for our future.

Building a strategy is hard, but we are a movement of smart, passionate people obsessed with facts, citations, and intellectual integrity. We have in common a passion for free knowledge and a commitment to serving all human beings.

If anyone can build a collaborative strategy, we can.

Guillaume Paumier, Co-lead architect, Core strategy team
Wikimedia Foundation


[1] We’ve received very helpful feedback from members of the community on translating and framing these themes so they make more sense to more people. As such, we are working on some slight wording changes to help make each theme description easier to understand and translate across languages. Those changes will be on Meta-Wiki within the week.

by Guillaume Paumier at May 19, 2017 04:01 PM

Semantic MediaWiki

SMWCon Fall 2017 to be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

SMWCon Fall 2017 to be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

May 19, 2017

SMWCon Fall 2017 to be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Save the date! SMWCon Fall 2017 will take place from October 4 to October 6, 2017 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Keep a close watch on the conference page for further updates.

by Rcdeboer at May 19, 2017 12:55 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 356



Intarsia in Vancouver 1 | © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Contributors ODbL

About us

  • The weeklyOSM team is looking for new members to join the team. weeklyOSM publishes 52 issues per year currently in eight languages, regardless of holidays or public holidays. To do this we need to get reinforcements. As a part of weeklyOSM, you can work on: collecting and evaluate links belonging to OSM, writing articles, translating and proofreading, editing images, etc. Please drop an email to ( blog at openstreetmap dot de ) with your OSM account.


  • DigitalGlobe and Mapboxshared two new global satellite imagery layers for live tracing on OpenStreetMap. Now, mappers will have even more sources of high quality, recent imagery layers to trace, identify, and validate roads, places, and buildings to continue to expand this free and open database of the Earth’s features. In JOSM, you have to activate it explicitly under BackgroundBackground Settings. For more information read DigitalGlobe’s employee Kevin Bullock’s diary entry, the discussions in the German forum and the mailing lists: Talk-en and Talk. The License Terms are available in the OSM Wiki.
  • There is an interesting discussion in the OpenStreetMap forum about tips, tools and apps that can be used for videomapping while biking.


  • Roland Olbricht highlighted three suggestions for improving data protection, which were discussed at the FOSSGIS conference in Passau. There were related discussions in the German forum (automatic translation) and on the mailing list Talk-de (automatic translation) and later on the mailing list talk.
  • Yuri Astrakhan writes about the SPARQL (rdf) database with both OSM and Wikidata being ready for testing. It allows massive cross-referenced queries between two datasets. This service is a test, and needs a permanent home to stay alive.Oleksiy Muzalyev points to his Web app, in which one click on the map shows the associated Wikipedia articles.
  • Jinalfoflia shares her experience of being a part of the mapping party hosted by the Ottawa OpenStreetMap community.


Humanitarian OSM

  • The Guardian reported on an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Pete Masters and Claire Halleux have published the tasks. Nicolas Chavent summarized the priorities on two wiki pages in English and in French.



  • At Rotterdam Central Station, OpenStreetMap is shown on a big screen where people can explore the city by dragging and tapping the screen. It is the only interactive map in the station, so it has been consciously chosen.
  • The French National Institute for preventive archaeological research provides a visualization tool based on OSM for its archaeological sites.

Open Data


  • Baran Kahyaoglu from Mapbox writes about the creation of geo coordinates data structure to match Unity World Space with the real world. Read more about this and other things that have been added in the latest Mapbox Unity SDK release.


Software Version Release date Comment
Mapserver 7.0.5 2017-05-09 Please read release info.
Vespucci 0.9.8 2017-05-09 Please read release info.
OpenStreetMap Carto Style 3.3.0 2017-05-10 Many changes, please read release info.
Overpass-Turbo 2017-05-11 2017-05-11 Many changes during the last days, please read release infos.
PostgreSQL 9.6.3 2017-05-11 This release contains a variety of fixes from 9.6.2.
iD 2.2.1 2017-05-12 Three bugs of the freshly released version 2.2.0 eliminated.
Kurviger Free * 10.0.24 2017-05-12 Various enhancements.
Maps.me Android * var 2017-05-12 No infos.
Komoot Android * 9.1 2017-05-13 Synchronization tool Komoot Connect available, improved collections and
Route Converter 2.20 2017-05-13 Many changes, see release info.
Traccar Client Android 4.2 2017-05-13 Allow new general top level domains.
QMapShack Lin/Mac/Win 1.8.1 2017-05-14 No infos.
iOsMo 1.8 2017-05-15 Updates of group points and tracks data on map.
Komoot iOS * 9.1 2017-05-15 Tour planning revised and simplified, improved difficulty assessment and
color design for backgrounds and path types.
Naviki Android * 3.59 2017-05-15 Texts and translations have been revised, two mistakes have been eliminated.

Provided by the OSM Software Watchlist.  Timestamp: 2017-05-15 22:00:37+02 UTC

(*) unfree software. See: freesoftware.

Did you know …

  • Casio started the sales of a new Smartwatch, named “Pro Trek”. The watch loads OSM maps powered by Mapbox.

Other “geo” things

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 22/05/2017 germany
Graz Stammtisch Graz 22/05/2017 austria
Derby Derby Pub Meetup 23/05/2017 united kingdom
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 25/05/2017 germany
Vancouver Vancouver mappy hour 26/05/2017 canada
Leuven 2nd Leuven Monthly OSM Meetup 31/05/2017 belgium
Dusseldorf Stammtisch Düsseldorf 31/05/2017 germany
Dresden Stammtisch 01/06/2017 germany
Avignon State of the Map France 2017 02/06/2017-04/06/2017 france
Lviv Map Solutions 2017 03/06/2017 ukraine
Taipei OSM Taipei Meetup, MozSpace 05/06/2017 taiwan
Toronto Mappy Hour 05/06/2017 canada
Rostock Rostocker Treffen 06/06/2017 germany
London Missing Maps London Mapathon,
Royal Geographic Society
06/06/2017 uk
Salzburg AGIT2017 05/07/2017-07/07/2017 austria
Kampala State of the Map Africa 2017 08/07/2017-10/07/2017 uganda
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) FOSS4G Europe 2017 at ENSG Cité Descartes 18/07/2017-22/07/2017 france
Boston FOSS4G 2017 14/08/2017-19/08/2017 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 18/08/2017-20/08/2017 japan
Patan State of the Map Asia 2017 23/09/2017-24/09/2017 nepal
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 19/10/2017-22/10/2017 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 23/10/2017-28/10/2017 argentina
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 29/11/2017-02/12/2017 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 eventin our public calendar preview and correct it, where appropriate.

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

by weeklyteam at May 19, 2017 12:05 PM


Wikimedia Commons Android App Pre-Hackathon

Wikimedia Commons Logo

The Wikimedia Commons Android App allows users to upload photos to Commons directly from their phone.

The website for the app details some of the features and the code can be found on GitHub.

A hackathon was organized in Prague to work on the app in the run up to the yearly Wikimedia Hackathon which is in Vienna this year.

A group of 7 developers worked on the app over a few days and as well as meeting each other and learning from each other they also managed to work on various improvements which I have summarised below.

2 factor authentication (nearly)

Work has been done towards allowing 2fa logins to the app.

Lots of the login & authentication code has been refactored and the app now uses the clientlogin API module provided by Mediawiki instead of the older login module.

When building to debug the 2fa input box will appear if you have 2fa login enabled, however the current production build will not show this box and simply display a message saying that 2fa is not currently supported. This is due to a small amount of session handling work that the app still needs.

Better menu & Logout

As development on the app was fairly non existent between mid 2013 and 2016 the UI generally fell behind. This is visible in forms, buttons as well as app layout.

One significant push was made to drop the old style ‘burger’ menu from the top right of the app and replace it with a new slide out menu draw including a feature image and icons for menu items.

Uploaded images display limit

Some users have run into issues with the number of upload contributions that the app loads by default in the contributions activity. The default has always been 500 and this can cause memory exhaustion / OOM and a crash on some memory limited phones.

In an attempt to fix and generally speed up the app a recent upload limit has been added to the settings which will limit the number images and image details that are displayed, however the app will still fetch and store more than this on the device.

Nearby places enhancements

The nearby places enhancements probably account for the largest portion of development time at the pre hackathon. The app has always had a list of nearby places that don’t have images on commons but now the app also has a map!

The map is powered by the mapbox SDK and the current beta uses the mapbox tiles however part of the plan for the Vienna hackathon is to switch this to using the wikimedia hosted map tiles at https://maps.wikimedia.org.

The map also contains clickable pins that provide a small pop up pulling information from Wikidata including the label and description of the item as well as providing two buttons to get directions to the place or read the Wikipedia article.

Image info coordinates & image date

Extra information has also been added to the image details view and the image date and coordinates of the image can now be seen in the app.

Summary of hackathon activity

The contributions and authors that worked on the app during the pre hackathon can be found on Github at the following link.

Roughly 66 commits were made between the 11th and 19th of May 2017 by 9 contributors.

Screenshot Gallery

by addshore at May 19, 2017 08:09 AM

May 18, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Manfred Rudersdorf has no #Wikipedia article

Professor Manfred Rudersdorf (left) has no Wikipedia article. As an historian he is expert on the history of "his" university. In the picture you see the presentation of this book to the rector of the University of Leipzig.

When you inspect the Reasonator page for Mr Rudersdorf, it is remarkably complete. It demonstrates that the inclusion from sources external to the Wikimedia Foundation slowly but surely results in proper information.

When you think of it, finding people like Mr Rudersdorf is obvious. There is only one sum of all knowledge and much of it is connected in one way or another. In fact it is a puzzle and we Wikimedians are all too familiar with puzzles.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 18, 2017 05:59 AM

May 17, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Building collaboration into annual planning: An experimental new approach

Photo by Kristen Lans/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Collaboration is something near and dear to our hearts at the Wikimedia Foundation. It is the secret ingredient that brings life to our projects; it allows us to draw on the diverse wisdom of everyone involved so that we can get closer to our vision of a world where everyone has access to the sum of all knowledge. It is so important to us that it is enshrined in the organization’s values.

Given that, we at the Foundation decided to approach our annual planning—the process where we hash out the work we anticipate doing in the coming year—a little differently this time around, by making it much more collaborative. Many more stakeholders across the organization were involved, and we designed the process with the intention of supporting different parts of the organization to share as much information as possible, discover where plans were competing or overlapping, and generally bring us all closer to shared understanding and alignment of our programmatic plans.

As we have done the past few years, we also involved the Wikimedia community through the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC). Feedback from the FDC on the upcoming year’s plans was published on May 15. In addition to helping the organization plan its annual budgets, this process also allows us to communicate and validate our high-level plans with our stakeholders outside of the Foundation.

Traditionally, defining an annual plan for an organization happens amongst the highest levels of leadership and is handed down to the rest of the organization to execute. But the Foundation is not a traditional organization, and we wanted to see what would happen if we expressed our values through how we approached our planning. We knew it would be difficult – as anyone involved in our projects knows, collaboration is rarely easy. But our hypothesis was that we would end up with a better, richer annual plan that was better understood by our staff and stakeholders, and more coherently aligned across the organization.


The cornerstone of our effort to make annual the planning process more collaborative was the annual plan Collaboration Jam (nicknamed “The Collab Jam”). The Collab Jam was a three-day event in late February organized and facilitated by Kristen Lans and Arthur Richards with additional support from the Team Practices Group.

According to the English Wikipedia article on “Jam session”, “to ‘jam’ is to improvise music without extensive preparation or predefined arrangements … [jam sessions] are often used by musicians to develop new material (music) and find suitable arrangements.” This is precisely what we hoped to achieve with our plans, rather than with music. Our goals for the Collab Jam were to:

  • Develop shared understanding between program leads of all the proposed annual plans
  • Identify where there’s thematic overlap and/or divergence between programs
  • Identify interdepartmental dependencies across all programs

In addition to these goals, the event offered participants an opportunity to learn about new ways to flex their collaborative muscles through experiencing a variety of participation formats and activities designed to support collaboration.

The event was timed early in the overall planning process when plans were in an initial draft form. We did this with the hope of identifying where there might be overlap and/or divergence in plans, as well as interdependencies, early on in the process before people spent a lot of time developing plans that would later need to be reworked to account for these things. The downside to timing it this way was that there was some important information that was not yet available to those responsible for their department’s planning. However, we hoped these early conversations would set the stage for ongoing coordination between departments as new information came to light and plans took shape during the course of the planning process. Representatives from each Foundation department engaging in programmatic planning (Legal, Communications, Advancement, Product, Technology, and Community Engagement) attended the in-person event.

On the first day of the Collab Jam, we organized a “trade show” activity, where each department had a station where they would present their draft plans. At timed intervals, the participants in the event would rotate to a station to listen to departmental plans, ask questions, and share any information they had that might be of value to the presenting department. This gave everyone a chance to hear the initial plans of each department and provide meaningful feedback and information that might make the plans clearer, more realistic, and aligned.

On the second day of the Collab Jam, the representatives from each department reviewed the feedback and information they received on Day One to get clear on what they might need from other departments, as well as what other departments might need from them relating to their plans. This served as preparation for the third and final day of the Jam, where the goal was to identify  interdepartmental dependencies to support better decision-making throughout the remainder of the annual planning timeline.

For the third day, we set up “MegaGrid”—a large Kanban board where everyone would be able to track all of the conversations they needed to have. Participants populated the board with post-it notes describing the conversation they needed to have and with whom. As the day went on, participants would move the post-it notes along the board depending on the current status of the conversation: to-do, doing, done. This gave visibility to everyone about what work was left to be done, and helped people identify which conversations they should try to have next. We also added a competitive element to the day by saying that departments that resolved the most conversations would win the Collab Jam (congratulations to the Foundation’s Legal team!).

Feedback about the event from surveyed participants highlighted learning, fun, and the usefulness of the format as strengths. Areas for improvement largely focused on making sure that the right people are in attendance, and that the event occurs at the right stage of the overall annual planning process. We expect that this year’s retrospective on the overall annual planning process will provide more feedback on the learning, value, and overall utility of the event for annual planning at the Foundation.

Arthur Richards, Senior Agile Coach: Organizational Collaboration, Team Practices
Kristen Lans, Director, Team Practices
Wikimedia Foundation

by Arthur Richards and Kristen Lans at May 17, 2017 06:28 PM

Semantic MediaWiki

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 released/en

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 released/en

May 17, 2017

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 (SMW 2.5.2) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This new version brings an enhancement to the display of redirects on property pages, 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 May 17, 2017 08:39 AM

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 released

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 released

May 17, 2017

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.2 (SMW 2.5.2) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This new version brings an enhancement to the display of redirects on property pages, 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 May 17, 2017 08:36 AM

May 16, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Foundation welcomes Eileen Hershenov as General Counsel

Photo by Zack McCune/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce that Eileen Hershenov has joined the organization as General Counsel. Eileen brings nearly 30 years of experience in media and intellectual property law, civil rights and civil liberties law, not-for-profit law and governance, and privacy and cyber-security. Throughout her career, she has worked with mission-driven organizations to promote equality, free expression, and openness.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by more than a billion unique devices every month. The Wikimedia Foundation is driven by its mission to build a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all human knowledge.

As General Counsel, Eileen will lead an experienced team of attorneys and public policy experts to defend the Wikimedia projects, communities, and Foundation. She will be responsible for maintaining and developing the legal infrastructure, policy, and relevant legal defenses for the Wikimedia Foundation. She will also advise the Foundation on ethical and policy positions around access to knowledge, freedom of speech, privacy, copyright, and other issues relevant to the Wikimedia movement.

“Eileen is deeply committed to the values that make the Wikimedia movement possible: free expression, access to knowledge, and a secure, open internet,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Her knowledge, passion, and leadership make her an excellent addition to the Wikimedia Foundation and our global community.”

Previously, Eileen served as the founding general counsel for Consumers Union, the not-for-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and ConsumerReports.org. In that role, in addition to defending against legal attacks on the organization’s product reviews and investigative journalism, she was part of the executive leadership team charged with rethinking the organization’s approach to public policy and advocacy. Eileen supported the work of tens of thousands of volunteers who advocated for healthcare reform and net neutrality, among other issues. She also played a lead role in developing and implementing Consumer Reports’ evolving business policies, which are designed to ensure and protect the organization’s independence from commercial influence and special interests.

Prior to joining Consumers Union, Eileen spent 11 years at the Open Society Foundations, where she served as General Counsel to the global foundation network. In this position, Eileen led the development of an in-house legal counsel department, overseeing the legal work of the foundations in more than 30 countries. Her work with the Open Society Foundations supported the efforts of local advocates in the former Soviet Union, Central Europe, as well as in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. During her time at the Open Society Foundations, Eileen also served as the founding general counsel for Central European University, the first U.S.-accredited liberal arts university located in a former communist country.

“Wikimedia is a shining example of what’s possible when the values of the free and open internet are preserved,” Eileen said. “I’ve spent much of my career supporting many of the same principles that have allowed Wikipedia to flourish. I’m thrilled to join a global movement of people who are committed to these values.”

Eileen began her career in public interest as an organizer and advocate for victims of toxic substances who were denied court access to seek restitution. Her legal work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) marked the start of her passion for supporting free expression, free access, and freedom of association. She currently serves on the boards of a number of public interest justice organizations, including the advisory board of the Future of Privacy Forum, and the governing board of the Appleseed Foundation.

Eileen received her BA in Economics from Yale College, and graduated from Yale Law School. She currently lives in the state of New York with her family, and will be relocating to the Bay Area this summer.

You can read a press release of this announcement on the Wikimedia Foundation’s website.

by Wikimedia Foundation at May 16, 2017 04:34 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Reflecting on open educational practice at Hewlett and Creative Commons meetings

At the end of April, Wiki Ed staff traveled to Toronto, Canada, to participate in two conferences with open education themes: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Annual OER Meeting and the Creative Commons Global Summit. Both conferences confirmed the work Wiki Ed is engaged in is crucial to the future of open education, especially in regard to the newer field of open educational practice.

Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and Research Fellow Zach McDowell joined me at the Hewlett OER Meeting, which was themed around equity. Each participating organization was asked to give a two-minute lightning talk about how their work informs equity. I talked about how Wikipedia’s gender gap leads to content inequity, with topics like military history and video games being well covered, while article quality in areas such as feminism or literature lag behind — and about how Wiki Ed is working to change that through our open educational practice, especially our partnership with the National Women’s Studies Association.

For me, equity is about more than just enabling access to open educational resources (although certainly that work is important too!). At Wiki Ed, we promote equity by engaging underrepresented communities to write the content on Wikipedia, the world’s largest open educational resource. Our work specifically addresses topics that aren’t covered due to systemic bias, and asks experts in those fields to engage in the open educational practice of filling those content gaps. I continue to be inspired by our work to address equity.

LiAnna and Frank with Wayne Mackintosh at the Hewlett Foundation’s Annual OER Meeting.

Participating in the OER Meeting also gave us the opportunity to connect with other organizations who have received grants from Hewlett, as we have. In particular, we had fruitful discussions with Amin Azzam, who has partnered with us to create recruitment videos, and who is currently engaging with us and Osmosis in a Hewlett-funded project to create a video on how to edit medical articles for medical students, and with Bob Cummings of the University of Mississippi, who teaches in our program in addition to serving on our board. We also had the opportunity to re-connect with Wayne Mackintosh, who worked with Frank and me (as well as Bob!) on the Advisory Board for the pilot of our program, back in 2010.

From the Hewlett meeting, Zach and I moved on to the Creative Commons Global Summit, where we ran a session on how our program engages students in open educational practice. Zach presented initial results from his research project highlighting the specific motivations students have for participating in an open peer production community. We facilitated small group discussions among the very engaged audience around how they can apply our learnings to their own open spaces. In addition, we participated in a group looking to develop the Creative Commons Open Education platform, which includes open educational practice.

The CC Summit organizing team did a fantastic job of bringing in some truly excellent keynote speakers. I particularly enjoyed Ashe Dryden’s talk about building diversity into open communities, pointing out issues of implicit bias. Wiki Ed has spent a significant amount of time creating an environment for our student editors that is inclusive. Also relevant to our work was Sarah Jeong’s keynote about the fake news phenomenon, in which she laid out the rationale that Facebook is destroying democracy, since its end goal is profit rather than informing people. While I agree it’s bad to turn over our sources of information to advertising-motivated social networks like Facebook, I also think teaching students information literacy skills is actually a longer-term solution. Finally, Hillary Hartley gave a great talk about open technology practices that had great parallels to what we do with open educational practices.

Both conferences were very affirming that the work Wiki Ed is doing in the open educational practice space is really important. Thank you to the organizers for interesting and engaging conferences.

by LiAnna Davis at May 16, 2017 04:15 PM

May 15, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Johanna Mestorf is not a #German

Johanna Mestorf was the first "German" female Professor. She was however not German as Germany did not exist; Mrs Mestorf was from the Kingdom of Prussia. Wikipedia has it that Prussia existed from 1701 to 1918 and Mrs Mestorf died in 1903. In the totality of the German speaking world Mrs Mestdorf was prossibly the first female Professor.

Current nationalities and previous nationalities do not match. Trying to understand historic facts from a modern perspective produce a fake perspective.

Not calling Mrs Mestorf German may be problematic for some. But hey is that not what a neutral point of view is about?

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 15, 2017 07:35 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

What do you call a homepage? Incorporating indigenous knowledge into Wikipedia

Workshop at Otapi High School, Manawan (Atikamekw First Nation, Canada). Photo by Pierre Coulombe, CC BY-SA 4.0.

A First Nation in Canada may soon have a Wikipedia to call their own.

The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation, located in central Quebec, is one of the few aboriginal peoples in Canada where virtually the entire population still speaks the language, making it among the most vibrant among the First Nations.

An ongoing project, the first of its kind in Canada, is working with the Atikamekw community to develop Wikipedia content in their own language. The initiative’s goal is to one day have the Atikamekw Wikipedia, currently in the Wikimedia incubator join one of the hundreds of extant Wikipedias.

“It is a way to pass on ancestral knowledge using computers and it allows to preserve traditional practices,” project member Nehirowisiw says. “It is an educational tool for all.”


Funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language in Wikimedia projects has several other goals. It is expanding information about the nation on the French Wikipedia; uploading photos, archival documents, and maps to Wikimedia Commons; and is raising awareness among the Wikimedia community about the unique features of indigenous knowledge and languages. The final report will propose recommendations about how to better include indigenous content in Wikimedia projects.

This one-year pilot project (Fall 2016 to Summer 2017) follows a 2013–14 initiative conducted in in Manawan (Québec, Canada) by a linguist from Leipzig University, a high school computer teacher, and an Atikamekw language keeper.

Working together, they created “Wikipetia Project“, an educational project involving students from Otapi secondary school in Manawan to create articles on Wikipedia written in Atikamekw. By the end of this project, the students had created more than 160 articles.

Partners of the current project, “Atikamekw knowledge, culture and language in Wikimedia projects“, include Manawan Otapi secondary school, Conseil Atikamekw de Manawan, Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw (CNA), Wikimedia Canada, Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO), and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS, Urbanisation, Culture, Société Research Center) with the collaboration of several members of the Atikamekw community.

A guardian of the Atikamekw language and his successor. Photo by Seeris, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The project is divided into three parts: training, pedagogical project and research project. The first includes training sessions with the Atikamekw community given by volunteers from Wikimedia Canada with the goal to make the community autonomous in their work on Wikimedia projects. An initial training took place at the Otapi secondary school in Manawan on October 24, 2016, and another was held with the CNA in La Tuque on November 28, 2016. In May 2017 there will be a session of photographic documentation within the Atikamekw community. The pedagogic project is taking place at the Otapi school from November 2016 to May 2017. In their computer class, students are writing articles in the Wikipetia Atikamekw Nehiromowin.

The research component is intended to document the pilot project with the aim to create a toolkit and a set of recommendations that could be used in other similar initiatives. It builds on discussions with community representatives about the best ways to share traditional knowledge on Wikimedia platforms. The issue of compatibility between free licenses and the principles of ethical research OCAPTM (ownership, control, access and possession), set out by Canadian First Nations, was also addressed during a research seminar. Representatives from the First Nations Information Governance Center and the Quebec National Archives and Library joined the discussion. This conversation will help to better understand the conditions that facilitate the creation of Native content in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, and to raise awareness among the wikimedia community about the specificities of indigenous knowledge.

The project will conclude with a panel at the Wikimania Montréal conference in August 2017. A longer-term goal is to replicate similar projects with other Canadian Aboriginal communities, or elsewhere in the world, and broadly share this experience with the international Wikimedia movement.


On the technical side, members of the community are working with the Institut linguistique Atikamekw (ILA) and techno-linguists of the Nation are working to create new words and to standardize the language to create an Atikamekw version of the MediaWiki interface.

For example, they need to invent new terms to translate “homepage”, “free license,” or “upload”. Instead of translating literally, they prefer to mobilize traditional references, often linked to the ancestral territory, because this allows the culture to appropriate technical modernity while transmitting its specific cultural imagination. It is also up to the community to define its own rules for the use of the encyclopedia: acceptance of oral sources, notoriety criteria for article topics that are open to indigenous realities, protection of sensitive information. It is a process of reflecting on the best ways to take advantage of this tool while adapting it to the Atikamekw epistemology.

Among the questions raised by translation is that of the classes of names: the Atikamekw language does not distinguish between the masculine and the feminine, but it distinguishes between animate and inanimate things. Is Wikipedia animated? The participants decided that it is.

Wikimedia Canada’s mission is to educate Canadian communities about the development of free and open knowledge in all languages, including Aboriginal languages. The objective of this strategy is to collaborate with Aboriginal communities in Canada and to introduce Aboriginal language speakers to Wikipedia with the goal that they become autonomous contributors in the development of content in their languages. It is in line with Article 13 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which establishes the right to preserve, revitalize and develop indigenous languages—all integral parts of Canadian culture.

Manawan Sipi river. Photo by Kinew1975, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The next phase of the project is to organize a photographic hunting on the Nitaskinan, the Atikamekw’s ancestral homeland. This will take place in the Atikamekw communities of Manawan, Opitciwan and Wemotaci, as well as the towns of La Tuque and Joliette.

Before the beginning of this project, there were only a dozen free photos representing the atikamekw community in Wikimedia Commons. All dated back to the 1970s. The goal of this photographic expedition is to better reflect the current vitality of the community by photographing not only buildings but also people, traditional activities, lakes and rivers, animals, and the territory in general.

The photographic hunting will take place from April 26 to May 31 2017. An upload workshop will be organized on the last day of the photographic hunt to help the participants populate the Atikamekw category in Commons.

Benoit Rochon, President, Wikimedia Canada
Jean-Philippe Béland, Vice President, Wikimedia Canada
Nathalie Casemajor, Professor, INRS-UCS

Members of the project include: Jean-Philippe Béland (vice-president, Wikimedia Canada), Nathalie Casemajor (professor, Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre, INRS), Christian Coocoo (coordinator of cultural services, CNA), Jeanette Coocoo (retired teacher, Wemotaci), Antony Dubé (computer science teacher, Otapi school), Annette Dubé-Vollant (coordinator of pedagogic services, Atikamekw Council of Manawan), Jean-Paul Échaquan (language keeper, Manawan), Karine Gentelet (professor in indigenous studies, UQO), Nastasia Herold (PhD candidate in linguistics, Leipzig University), Thérèse Ottawa (administrative agent, Atikamekw Council of Manawan), Sakay Ottawa (director, Otapi school), Luc Patin (computer science teacher, Otapi school), Nicole Petiquay (Atikamekw Language Institute), André Quitich (former Chief of the nation), Céline Quitich (elected representative, Atikamekw Council of Manawan), Benoit Rochon (president, Wikimedia Canada), as well as several other precious collaborators from the Atikamekw community.

by Benoit Rochon, Jean-Philippe Béland and Nathalie Casemajor at May 15, 2017 04:29 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #20, 2017 (May 15, 2017)

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May 15, 2017 12:00 AM

May 14, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - #German #Science #Awards II

Adding awards to scientists makes it obvious that there are many scientists out there. The German Wikipedia knows about some 366 German science awards and, they are not provincial. For many awards any deserving scientist may be recognised.

As you move through the list, German Wikipedia practices are different. Some Wikipedians do not like red links so the award winners are just text. Luckily for me, others still allow for red links and this helps a lot.

The Heinrich-Emanuel-Merck-Preis article sees a lot of red. When an effort is made to connect these red links, Wikidata already knows about many of them. Petra Stephanie Dittrich is one such. Many scientist like her have been included because they are included in AcademiaNet.

When I add missing people, given that this is about German data I prefer to add the labels in German. Mr Jonathan V. Sweedler is of the "University of Illinois" and therefore likely American but that is a detail I frequently leave to others.

There is yet another group of scientists finding their way in Wikidata. They are the authors of papers that are used in citations or to establish fact in Wikidata. Awards are another relevant aspect of these scientists.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 14, 2017 06:38 AM

May 13, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - #Classifying Saadia Zahidi

Mrs Saadia Zahidi came first to the attention of the Wikimedia movement because she featured in the BBC's 100 Women both in 2013 and 2014.

The BBC is really British but the conclusion that Mrs Zahidi is British is a stretch. She studied at three universities; two in the USA and one in Switzerland. She grew up in Pakistan and is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum also in Switzerland.

It is easy to claim relevant people as being part of a group. The urge to classify is obvious but classification is inherently discriminatory. With people this is more or less accepted. For Mrs Zahidi her affiliation with the World Economic Forum is missing but she is at least recognised as an author, It was easy enough to add {{authority control}} in her Wikipedia article.

Classification is a hot button subject at Wikidata. There are those like me that resent this weird notion that subclasses are a good thing to have. There is a lengthy discussion about the validity of subclasses for guns, spacecraft and such stuff. It is so convoluted that you need to be an expert to understand the classes in the first place. What makes this nonsense so infuriating is that it makes Wikidata solidly a one maybe few language resource. The argument that it combines things that are the same can be easily ignored because proper statements and a query provide the same result.

Classification is discriminatory. In the past an explanation was asked and not forthcoming. It is wrong to call Mrs Zahidi British. At best she lived or lives in the UK. It is wrong to have tiny subclasses it largely prevents the use and usefulness of Wikidata.

As a movement we should hold back our urge to classify. Classification is a judgement; we should be more descriptive.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 13, 2017 05:14 AM

Timo Tijhof

QUnit anti-patterns

Cross-posted from https://timotijhof.net/2015/qunit-anti-patterns/

I'd like to challenge the assert.ok and assert.not* methods. I think they're a bad practice.


Using assert.ok() indicates one of two problems:

  • The software (or testing strategy) is unreliable. (Unsure what value to expect.)
  • The author is lazy and uses it as shortcut for a proper comparison.

The former necessitates improvement in the code being tested. The latter comes with two additional caveats:

  1. Less debug information. (No actual/expected diff). Without an expected value provided, one can't determine what's wrong with the value.
  2. Masking regressions. Even if the API being tested returns a proper boolean and ok is just a shortcut, the day the API breaks (e.g. returns a number, string, array, function, Promise or other object) the test will not catch it.

Common examples:

  // Meh
assert.ok( bool );
assert.ok( fn );

// Better?
assert.strictEqual( bool, true );
assert.equal( typeof fn, 'function' );


Using assert.not*() indicates one of three problems:

  • The software is unreliable. (Unsure what value to expect.)
  • The test uses an unreliable environment. (E.g. variable input data, insufficient isolation or mocking.)
  • The author is lazy and uses it as shortcut for a proper comparison.

Common example:

  var index = list.indexOf( item );
// Meh
assert.notEqual( index, -1 );
// Better?
assert.equal( index, 2 );

I've yet to see the first use of these assert methods that wouldn't be improved by writing it a different way. Though I admit there are limited scenarios where assert.notEqual can't be avoided in the short-term (e.g. when the intent is to detect a difference between two return unpredictable values, e.g. Math.random).

by Timo Tijhof at May 13, 2017 04:11 AM

May 12, 2017

William Beutler

Does WikiTribune Even Stand a Chance?

Almost four years ago, Jimmy Wales stood before an audience of Wikipedians at the 2013 Wikimania conference in Hong Kong, delivering his annual keynote address. Mere weeks had passed since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had become famous (or infamous) for releasing sensitive U.S. government documents and escaping to a hotel room just blocks away from the site of the conference. Given Wales’ status as the spokesperson for a movement based on free information, and the coincidence of shared location[1]Snowden’s hotel was in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Wikimania conference next door in Hung Hom, media coverage at the time largely focused on his remarks about Snowden.

But Wales had another topic in mind, inspired in part by then-current events, which media outlets mostly mentioned only in passing. Here, too. This is what The Wikipedian had to say, based on having witnessed the speech at the time:

Wales called for a new “hybrid model” of journalism, encouraging collaboration between professionals and amateurs. It sounds interesting, maybe, but he didn’t have an actual model in mind: he called on the Wikipedia and Wikimedia community to help him think it up. I guess we’ll see. Some raised the question of what will contributors to the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikinews project think of it, but the question kind of answers itself: Wikinews has never been a success, and is kept alive only by a few die-hards. … So maybe this will become that. Or maybe we’ll never hear about it again.

Credit where it’s due: although Wales had said nothing more about it publicly in the years since, and “Jimmy’s hybrid model” had become at best the source of an occasional snicker among Wikipedians skeptical of Wales’ follow-through (about which more later) now there is no question he really meant it. On April 24, Wales announced the creation of an ambitious newsgathering and reporting project called Wikitribune with the debut of a placeholder website, promotional video, crowdfunding campaign, and launch coverage led by NiemanLab.

Jimmy Wales keynote address at Wikimania Hong Kong, 2013Most of what’s been written so far has been positive, thanks to goodwill surrounding the Wikipedia project, and by extension to Wales, its credited founder. Following the lead from his intro video, a fair bit of Wikitribune coverage is centered on its stated goal of fighting fake news. Despite the term’s dilution and partial co-optation by President Trump, it remains the media evil du jourWashington Post executive editor Marty Baron recently called it “the greatest challenge we face in the industry at the moment”. The notion that Wikipedia is the remedy is one everyone is happy to play along with, though it’s more hypothesis than established fact.

The most critical perspective so far comes from Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic, questioning the volunteer-professional hybrid collaborative concept, i.e. that one “who is paid for doing journalistic work cannot be considered ‘equals’ with someone who is unpaid” and that it devalues the work of professionals to assume it can be done by volunteers. It’s partly a critique of the model, and partly a critique of the morality; it’s an important criticism, and one that should be taken seriously.[2]I do think these questions also have good answers, and it matters very much how the roles of each party are defined. There is a similarly important distinction to be made in managing paid vs. volunteer contributors to Wikipedia, although I suspect the best arrangement in each case are roughly opposite. A topic for exploration another time. Another cautious note was sounded by Mathew Ingram at Fortune, listing failed previous attempts to launch crowdsourced news sites.[3]Spot.us, Beacon Reader, Contributoria, and Grasswire, none of which I had previously heard of.

♦     ♦     ♦

In Wikipedia circles, there is considerable skepticism, and for entirely different reasons.

320px-WikiNews-Logo-en.svgThe first is that Wikipedia has tried this before, as briefly noted in my excerpt above: Wikinews launched in 2004, when Wikipedia was growing rapidly and adding new sister projects. But it never reached critical consensus, and few contributors ever produced meaningful original content for the site. These days, Wikinews has only a handful of active users. And it’s not hard to see why: Wikipedia already compiles digests of news coverage, and Google points readers to Wikipedia, so Wikinews is at best an afterthought. But it’s worse than that. Compare the Wikipedia article “Dismissal of James Comey” to the Wikinews article “President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey, raising questions about Russia investigation” and the problem is apparent. The Wikipedia entry does something that no other website on the internet does: it serves as a one-stop aggregator of everything important in the ongoing political crisis, first with a high-level but substantial summary in the introduction, and then a deep dive into the particulars. The Wikinews article is a rehash of a few other previously published stories from traditional news outlets, offering no new reporting, ending at less than 700 words, and on a fixed date, like an Associated Press wire story might because of real constraints on the AP that Wikinews imposes on itself arbitrarily. Wikinews offers nothing new, is less good than what it imitates, and frankly has no reason to exist. Also, the Wikinews article has four sources; the Wikipedia article has 114. Case closed. And yet past attempts to close Wikinews have been resisted, both by a handful of dead-enders, and by Wikipedians who hold out hope for a future renaissance. Its biggest impact in 2017 is that its continued existence requires Wales to call his new thing “Wikitribune” rather than the more straightforward name on which it’s unproductively squatting.

TPO-logo-compact.svgThe second reason, and I don’t mean to dwell too much here, is that there are good reasons to think that Jimmy Wales is not the right person to lead such a project, save for his internet celebrity as the online collaboration guy. Wales struck gold with Wikipedia—although not actual money, as a cheekily titled NYT Magazine profile once reminded everyone—and he hasn’t repeated the trick since. His next most successful venture is Wikia, a collection of wikis on entertainment topics, the best known of them probably being Wookiepedia but also including communities for fans of music, TV, movies, video games, comics, and other geek subcultures. It does rank in the top 100 websites, and it’s more than 10 years old, so it’s a legitimate business—and it’s also monetized with advertising, the one thing Wikipedia can never ever do. Wikia is fun and useful to fans of pop culture, but it’s hardly a world-beater. Other Wales enterprises have fizzled or faded: Wikia Search was a bust, and a MVNO called The People’s Operator[4]It is worth noting that the aforelinked Wikipedia article about Wales’ MVNO is highly negative. is heading that direction. Yet almost no one outside of the Wikipedia world is familiar with any of this; Ben Thompson, one of the smartest analysts writing about technology and media, recently wrote: “I don’t know if Wikitribune will work — but Jimmy Wales is one of the last people I would want to bet against.”

♦     ♦     ♦

But let’s talk about Wikitribune and its actual prospects. This is not easy, as many specifics about its plans have yet to be clarified; at the time this is written, Wikitribune had announced but a single hire and, with no disrespect intended, it wasn’t someone with a high-profile name or big reputation. Although analysis of Wales’ actual plans may be premature, it’s not too soon to assess its stated direction and speculate about what might actually work for it.

I will switch gears here for a moment and agree that Wales has identified a real problem that needs to be solved: he is correct to say that the news industry is in big trouble—“broken”, even. The internet has dealt a nearly lethal blow by creating effectively free distribution, both upending its advertising-based business model and subjecting it to competition from low-quality but highly engaging clickbait infotainment.[5]Facebook, of course, figures prominently in both.

He’s wrong, though, to say as he does in the video that “we’ve figured out how to fix it”. As Ingram documents, others have tried and failed. And there’s no reason to think that, just because Jimmy Wales is the wiki guy, his association with the project is going to be sufficient for it to reach critical mass. No, if Wikitribune is going to have even a chance of success, it needs to figure out where its comparative advantage lies, and design its plans accordingly.

Jimmy Wales in Hong Kong, 2013The Wikipedian posits that Wikitribune must absolutely learn the lesson of Wikinews: that loosely organized, come-and-go-as-you-please, volunteer-based networks are no way to develop in-depth, sustained news reporting of the investigative or beat varieties that are the principal job of national and international news organizations. To the extent that it succeeds in these areas, it must develop tight-knit reporting teams, who will be professionals, and largely based in London[6]where Wales resides and Wiktribune will presumably be headquartered, New York, and Washington. The role that volunteers will play here would be very similar to the one already played by volunteers at traditional news outlets, where they go by a different name: sources.

But Wikitribune has no advantage over traditional news organizations in this kind of reporting. While the news industry overall is doing poorly, some major publications like The New York Times have seen subscriptions soar as their value has become clearer to readers following the U.S. presidential election, The Washington Post is buoyed by soon-to-be-world’s-richest-man Jeff Bezos, and financial publications like the Wall Street Journal and The Economist serve affluent audiences with need-to-know information.[7]Like so much else in the new new economy, it is the middle class that has been thinned out: mid-tier newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, and their undifferentiated news sites that look more and more like blogs every day. So the opportunity to have a positive impact here is not clear, either.

The Wikipedian will therefore posit that Wikitribune’s best chance to succeed is in fact in local news.

♦     ♦     ♦

As for opportunity, no one else has yet cracked the code: in news circles, the term for this is “hyperlocal”, and it hasn’t worked all that well, nor has it ever really ever been “news”—Patch Media, founded by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, is technically still around but has zero impact on anything; NextDoor sounded promising when I first signed up for it, but in practice is just another place to ask about lost cats and free furniture; Backfence was a similar site that, now that I search the web for information about it, apparently never got very far. Somewhat better are local subreddits, like /r/Portland, focused on what’s happening in a given city, but the content is usually centered on photos and gossip and links to local news stories.

Thompson, quoted above offering his shrugging support for Wales’ initiative, has written a lot about local news in recent months, and likes to quote from a Warren Buffet shareholder letter about how local newspapers once enjoyed unique business advantages: its customers couldn’t do without it, and couldn’t satisfactorily replace it.[8]As a reminder of just how prescient Buffet can be, this letter was written in 1991. The problem for local news publications is that the internet has kicked its advertising base out from under it, beginning with classified ads in print newspapers and later extending to the problems of infinite supply of web advertising devaluing the ad unit, not to mention the challenges of attracting audiences big enough or targeted enough to be worth selling ads to. Earlier this week, Thompson wrote a long piece assessing the prospects of local news, arguing that local news publications would need to be subscription-based, rather than advertising-based, to succeed.

He’s right about advertising, for sure. But why should it even be subscription-based? Wikipedia succeeds with donations, in some years generated by putting Jimmy Wales’ own face at the top of every page, and in 2017 Wikipedia has more money than it knows what to do with. This is one way Wales’ celebrity could have a positive impact. The subscriptions could be donations, which might have the added benefit of generating investment beyond cash—even creating passionate user-contributors.

wikitribuneWikipedia has succeeded at harnessing passions in a way few other sites have, building miniature newsgathering communities around subjects like major weather events, geography and places, physics and astronomy, transportation and infrastructure, major sports leagues, etc. All are limited spheres of interest that more readily map onto a city or region than matters of national politics and international diplomacy, trade policy, or ongoing military conflicts.

The primary difference is that Wikipedia’s content guidelines explicitly disallows editors from doing original reporting, which is just as well, because almost no likely editors have such access to federal government officials or multinational business leaders, nor is there any effective mechanism to vet them in a distributed volunteer system. However, with a professional editor at the center of the operation—as Wikitribune seems like it might—well, that could actually work.

Such a project would benefit at scale the same way Wikipedia does, not in developing one large ecosystem of researchers, writers and editors collaborating on a medium-sized number of topics, but multitudes of ecosystems working in parallel across many, many topics. And the benefit to readers is obvious: the experience reading of Wikipedia pages on familiar topics in the past prepares one to navigate Wikipedia pages on less-understood subjects in the future. Likewise, reading Wikitribune Peoria could prepare one to read Wiktribune Palermo. Consistency not just of branding but of style—a style native to Wikitribune, not to existing wire services as Wikinews does—could be useful to readers and a valuable differentiator for Wikitribune itself.

What’s more, Wikitribune has an opportunity to try new things that the entrenched Wikipedia community hasn’t been able to bring itself to do. For example: implement a discussion system that was designed less than fifteen years ago. The Flow project, which once sought to overhaul Wikipedia’s outdated and clunky talk page format, was eventually abandoned due to resistance from veteran editors averse to change. Flow wasn’t perfect, but there wasn’t even political will to work through the rough patches. Wikitribune would be wise to resurrect it, and perhaps show Wikipedia how it could actually benefit the original project.

Wikia_Logo.svgAnd there’s another thing: Wales certainly has proved successful at creating new structures based on the Wikipedia model but tweaking the rules in order to incentivize different activities for communities with different expectations. Wikipedians didn’t want advertising supporting their educational mission, but Wikians[9]if that’s a word? don’t mind advertising supporting their entertainment mission. It’s no accident that “Wikia” is Wikipedia without the “ped”[10]as in learning and knowledge. Revisiting Wales’ post-Wikipedia career again, it is when he has strayed too far from his Wikipedia roots that he’s got into trouble. Wikis turned out not to be the way to build a search engine, and some lofty rhetoric about transparency aside, Wales had no background in mobile telephony that would make him suited to lead an MVNO. So while there are reasons to be cautious, the more like Wikipedia his subsequent projects are, the better their outlook.

Wikipedia succeeds without a profit motive, and local news is unprofitable now. By following the same model, Wikitribune has an opportunity to benefit from Wikipedia’s non-business model, and adapt its methods from pure aggregation to a hybrid of reporting and aggregation. But it’s vital that Wikitribune not try to compete with the Times of London or New York. Its real, and possibly only, chance for success lies in reinvigorating a diminished local news industry. I hope Jimmy Wales takes it.

All images via Wikipedia, copyright of their respective holders.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Snowden’s hotel was in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Wikimania conference next door in Hung Hom
2. I do think these questions also have good answers, and it matters very much how the roles of each party are defined. There is a similarly important distinction to be made in managing paid vs. volunteer contributors to Wikipedia, although I suspect the best arrangement in each case are roughly opposite. A topic for exploration another time.
3. Spot.us, Beacon Reader, Contributoria, and Grasswire, none of which I had previously heard of.
4. It is worth noting that the aforelinked Wikipedia article about Wales’ MVNO is highly negative.
5. Facebook, of course, figures prominently in both.
6. where Wales resides and Wiktribune will presumably be headquartered
7. Like so much else in the new new economy, it is the middle class that has been thinned out: mid-tier newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, and their undifferentiated news sites that look more and more like blogs every day.
8. As a reminder of just how prescient Buffet can be, this letter was written in 1991.
9. if that’s a word?
10. as in learning and knowledge

by William Beutler at May 12, 2017 05:05 PM

Sam Wilson

MediaWiki Documentation Day 2017

It’s MediaWiki Documentation Day 2017!

So I’ve been documenting a couple of things, and I’ve added a bit to the Xtools manual.

The latter is actually really useful, not so much from the end-user’s point of view because I dare say they’ll never read it, but I always like writing documentation before coding. It makes the goal so much more clear in my mind, and then the coding is much easier. With agreed-upon documentation, writing tests is easier; with tests written, writing the code is easier.

Time for a beer — and I’ll drink to DFD (document first development)! Oh, and semantic linebreaks are great.

by Sam Wilson at May 12, 2017 08:09 AM

May 11, 2017

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 355


Citylines von Bruno Salerno

Citylines – public transportation in big cities – London pictured 1 | © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap ODbL


  • There is a discussion on Reddit about the level of detail in OSM, using a UK maze as a starting point.
  • The proposal for tagging bus bays is accepted.
  • Paul Johnson wants to propose a better way to map traffic control (stop and yield) and traffic calming devices, by using relations to overcome the “non-directional” nature of nodes.
  • Thilo Haug created a new wiki page for aeroway=spaceport. He is facing criticism because this tagging is not generally accepted. Frederik Ramm notes that tag discussions should take place in the tagging mailing list and not in the wiki itself.
  • Mattias Dalkvist proposed the tag meadow=wooded_meadow and invites comments.
  • Michael Tsang suggests a new tag to mark areas where public transport has no regular stops but can be asked to stop by waving.
  • Manohar writes about the Pokémon related mapping activity on OpenStreetMap, also discussing some features that are mapped specifically for Pokémon “biomes”.
  • Old-style multipolygon relations on OSM are now history. (via twitter)


  • On the OpenCage Data blog, an interview with Mohamed Marrouchi, from Tunisia, was published.
  • OSM-Belgium declared Ben Abelshausen as mapper of the month for April 2017.
  • The call for proposals for the FOSS4G+SOTM Argentina is open until July 31st 2017. The event will take place from October 23rd to the 28th 2017, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • At Oxford University, a temporary position for a “Researcher in Digital Geography” is vacant. Application deadline is June 15, 2017.
  • Continuing the work of the Humanitarian Mapping Unit (UHM) in the first emergency days in the city of Mocoa, the OpenStreetMap Colombia Foundation will conduct a workshop to provide information about activities in case of emergencies. The workshop (automatic translation) is aimed to assess the information and communication needs of participants in the stage of reconstruction after the event and to provide practical tools that may be useful in this respect.
  • Pascal Neis’s change of his extremely useful HDYC site to use OAuth, based on an OpenStreetMap account created a certain amount of surprise. Previously there had been a long discussion about “data security” on the German Forum (automatic translation) (it’s a long but worthy read) and on the mailing list Talk-de (automatic translation). The conversation on talk did move towards a useful sort of discussion about “what OSM data is all about anyway“.
  • Stefan Keller of Hochschule Rapperswil addresses managers and marketers of the tourism industry, with a remarkable initiative for OpenStreetMap. (de) (automatic translation) He will be presenting the possibilities of using OpenStreetMap at the “Swiss holiday day 2017” in Davos to the tourism industry. In doing so, he shares two video clips, a poster, and highlights the opportunity to participate in OpenStreetMap directly, as well as through MAPS.ME.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • Data Working Group (DWG) published its Activity Report for the first quarter of 2017, outlining the details of the cases handled by them.
  • OSMF is looking for a UK accountant.
  • Dieterdreist publishes a map of all regular OSMF members. Have you thought about becoming a member?


  • Call for scholarship applications to attend State of the Map Asia 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal, on September 23rd to 24th 2017 is now open.
  • Registration for State of the Map 2017 is now open. Register now for the early bird discount.
  • DINAcon 2017 (automatic translation) is a conference on digital sustainability. The call for proposals is open (automatic translation) until May 20th 2017.
  • SotM-FR in Avignon published their program schedule. You can still register. Most sessions however will be in French, of course.

Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT outlines its mapping efforts in the refugee establishments of Uganda and invites interested agencies to collaborate with them.


  • [1] Bruno Salerno published recently Citylines.co, which is a collaborative platform that helps rebuild transport systems in the cities of the world as well as their evolution. Citylines is free software and uses OSM maps and Mapbox GL technology.
  • Adrien-github reported on linuxfr.org, that marble, the virtual globe, has integrated the French rendering of OSM .
  • The EuroVelo 13, also known as the Iron Curtain Trail, is a cycle path over 7500 km from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea. An official app has been released for the trail, which includes an OSM based interactive map.




Software Version Release date Comment
JOSM 12039 2017-05-02 See release infos.
Mapbox GL JS v0.37.0 2017-05-02 Three new features, eight bugs fixed and two development workflow improvements.
Mapillary iOS * 4.6.14 2017-05-02 Three bugs fixed, updated Mapbox.
libosmium 2.12.2 2017-05-03 Many changes, please read release info.
OpenLayers 4.1.1 2017-05-03 Patch release to fix several minor issues and two regressions in the 4.1.0 release.
Simple GIS Client * 9.0 2017-05-03 Processing OpenStreetMap data.
OSMaxx 3.10.0 2017-05-04 Please read release info.
PyOsmium 2.12.4 2017-05-04 Added Windows support, three changes and three bugfixes.
MapFactor Navigator Free * 3.0 2017-05-05 Many extensions and fixes, see release info.
Mapillary Android * 3.55 2017-05-05 Support different basemaps.
Naviki Android * 3.58.4 2017-05-05 Bugfix version.
Naviki iOS * 3.58.1 2017-05-05 Bugfix version.
StreetComplete 0.10 2017-05-06 Fix for opening_hours.
Kurviger Free * 10.0.23 2017-05-07 Smooth movement option, various enhancements.
Komoot Android * var 2017-05-08 No Infos.

Provided by the OSM Software Watchlist. Timestamp: 2017-05-08 20:24:45+02 UTC

(*) unfree software. See: freesoftware.

Did you know …

OSM in the media

  • Linux Journal presents a short introduction of editing OSM using JOSM.
  • Technical.ly published an article on the fight against malaria in Zimbabwe by Missing Maps and partners.
  • Techcrunch reports about Mapillary releasing a free dataset of 25,000 street-level images from 190 countries that can be used to train automotive AI systems.

Other “geo” things

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Prague Wikimedia Prehackathon 12/05/2017-14/05/2017 czech republic
Tirana OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania) 13/05/2017-14/05/2017 albania
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 15/05/2017 france
Grenoble Rencontre groupe local 15/05/2017 france
Bonn Bonner Stammtisch 16/05/2017 germany
Lüneburg Mappertreffen Lüneburg 16/05/2017 germany
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 16/05/2017 germany
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 17/05/2017 germany
Freiberg Stammtisch Freiberg 18/05/2017 germany
Augsburg Augsburger Stammtisch 18/05/2017 germany
Moscow Schemotechnika 10 18/05/2017 russia
Amstetten Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 18/05/2017 germany
Tokyo 東京!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第8回 浜離宮恩賜庭園 20/05/2017 japan
Osaka 【西国街道#04】摂津富田の街並みと寺社巡り 20/05/2017 japan
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 22/05/2017 germany
Graz Stammtisch Graz 22/05/2017 austria
Derby Derby Pub Meetup 23/05/2017 united kingdom
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 25/05/2017 germany
Vancouver Vancouver mappy hour 26/05/2017 canada
Avignon State of the Map France 2017 02/06/2017-04/06/2017 france
Salzburg AGIT2017 05/07/2017-07/07/2017 austria
Kampala State of the Map Africa 2017 08/07/2017-10/07/2017 uganda
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) FOSS4G Europe 2017 at ENSG Cité Descartes 18/07/2017-22/07/2017 france
Boston FOSS4G 2017 14/08/2017-19/08/2017 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 18/08/2017-20/08/2017 japan
Patan State of the Map Asia 2017 23/09/2017-24/09/2017 nepal
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 19/10/2017-22/10/2017 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 23/10/2017-28/10/2017 argentina
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 29/11/2017-02/12/2017 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, SeleneYang, SomeoneElse, Spec80, SrrReal, TheFive, YoViajo, derFred, jcoupey, jinalfoflia, keithonearth, widedangel.

by weeklyteam at May 11, 2017 08:07 PM

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: April 2017

  • Argentina report: End of contest, new heritaged donated and digitizing workshop
  • Basque Country report: Students working on literature with new Wikipedian in Residence
  • Belgium report: Brussels writing weeks; Dutch Language Union workshop; Civic Lab Brussels start; Edit-a-thon Leuven
  • Brazil report: Wikimedia Conference, gender and International collaboration
  • Germany report: You may only harvest after putting a grain
  • Ghana report: GLAM Ghana duly launched
  • Italy report: Open Data for Cultural Heritage
  • Macedonia report: 12 Peaks hiking challenge
  • Netherlands report: The Netherlands and the World: Photo hunt Chinsurah; Photohunt public library Tilburg; Wikipedian in Residence for UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme in the Netherlands; Picture books from Koninklijke Bibliotheek
  • Spain report: Management and dissemination of cultural heritage
  • Sweden report: GLAM-EduWiki collaboration awarded Pedagogy Award of the year at Swedish museums; Connected Open Heritage
  • UK report: Bio-Medical History Residences
  • USA report: New connections at the Library of Congress and Smithsonian
  • Wikipedia Library report: Books & Bytes
  • Wikidata report: Federation and new datatypes
  • WMF GLAM report: DPLAFest and Beyond
  • Calendar: May’s GLAM events

by Admin at May 11, 2017 07:33 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

You can now add automatically generated citations to millions of books on Wikipedia

Automatically generated citations to a world of books can now be utilized by any editor on Wikipedia. Photo via the National Library of Ireland, no known copyright restrictions.

It is no stretch to say that without books, Wikipedia would not exist.

The free encyclopedia relies on citations to ensure the information you find on Wikipedia is verifiable and based in reliable sources.  Even in the digital age, many of the highest-quality sources are the books available in your local library.

Yet despite their importance, adding references to Wikipedia has been difficult at times, requiring at minimum a basic knowledge of wikicode. Steady improvements have been made over the years to make it easier to add citations, including through the cite tool on Wikimedia’s visual editing interface. However, adding citations to books on Wikipedia is about to get a lot easier.


A new partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Library and OCLC, a global nonprofit library cooperative, will allow editors to easily generate citations to millions of books on Wikipedia using OCLC’s WorldCat—the largest database of books in the world, spanning the collections of more than 72,000 libraries.

The WorldCat database will be integrated into the cite tool so that an editor can type in an ISBN, an identifier available inside hundreds of millions of published books since the 1970s, and get back a Wikipedia-ready book citation, including authors, titles, and publishers.

“Wikipedia and its editors worldwide collaborate to create one of the most popular global resources on the Web,” said Chip Nilges, OCLC Vice President, Business Development. “OCLC and its member libraries collaborate to make WorldCat the premier global resource for discovery of library collections. Through this partnership, dedicated editors and librarians worldwide are working together to make Wikipedia a richer research experience, and readers are finding supporting material they want through links to libraries.”

James Forrester, Product Manager for Editing at the Wikimedia Foundation, said:

We are driven by our desire to help our volunteer editors make the Wikimedia projects be the best they can be. We are building collaborative, inclusive tools for creating and editing free knowledge. That knowledge is underpinned by facts—referenced, organised, clear, and checkable facts.

Easily adding more references to Wikimedia wikis via ISBNs is a great boon to our editors and readers. It will help them double-check articles in their library, see further context, and find more knowledge to share. I’m very excited that we are partnering with OCLC and to see their wonderful WorldCat resource harnessed towards our shared mission.

A detailed step-by-step process on how to use this feature is below. It expands upon Wikipedia’s current method of citation auto-filling, which allows editors to generate a citation from a single online identifier, like a web address (URL) or digital object identifier (DOI).


How to use the cite tool

1) Click “edit” in the bar at the top of your page.

2) Switch to the visual editor

3) Use the visual editor’s cite function

4) Enter any ISBN

5) Cite tool automatically generates a citation using WorldCat’s ISBN data

6) The rich citation is added to Wikipedia

Boris., Juh, (2007-01-01), Sveto pismo zvočnica, Mladinska knjiga Založba, ISBN 9788611177434, OCLC 781329324

More information on this is available on Mediawiki.org.


Wikipedia Library–OCLC partnership

This collaboration between the Wikipedia Library and OCLC deepens an already strong relationship between OCLC and the Wikimedia movement. In 2012, OCLC worked with a Wikipedian in Residence, Max Klein, to explore ways that library metadata could contribute to Wikipedia. The result of their work was a Wikipedia bot that adds VIAF authority control numbers (Virtual International Authority File) to Wikipedia infoboxes—in cataloguing-speak, adding numbers that easily and consistently identify people. Long-time Wikipedian and librarian Merrilee Proffitt, who works at OCLC Research, spearheaded the VIAF initiative. She was joined by Cindy Aden (née Cunningham) in a later collaboration with the Wikipedia Library; together, they pioneered the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar position and established positions at five universities.

Merrilee Proffitt said of the new WorldCat initiative, “Quality sources​ are at the heart of every Wikipedia article, be it a stub or a feature level article. We want adding citations to be as easy as possible, and it makes sense to harness identifiers to ease the burden. Thanks to the hard work of the thousands of catalogers and the contribution of OCLC member libraries, WorldCat contains ISBNs which​ can help when a source is a monograph. As an added bonus, the resulting citation helps lead end users to libraries where they can find those trusted sources and others like them—for free.”

At library conferences like American Library Association Annual, the Wikipedia Library, and OCLC have often worked together to share information about each organization to interested librarians, and Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President and Chief Strategist of OCLC, has spoken progressively about Wikipedia’s growing role in the research ecosystem of library users. In March 2017, OCLC announced that they were hiring Monika Sengul-Jones as a Wikipedian-in-Residence, a position funded by a project grant from the Wikimedia Foundation, to facilitate their Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project. In 2016, OCLC was a winner of the Knight News Challenge for a project to promote participation of public librarians on Wikipedia.

This partnership empowers Wikipedia editors and readers to harness the impact of full and accurate citations. With improved access to references that back up the facts, Wikipedia becomes a better, richer free knowledge resource for all.

Jake Orlowitz, Head of the Wikipedia Library
Wikimedia Foundation

You can read more about this partnership in OCLC’s press release.

by Jake Orlowitz at May 11, 2017 06:59 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

99% of instructors would teach with Wikipedia again

As we move into the last weeks of the Spring term, Fall 2016 may seem a distant memory, but for Wiki Ed it was a critical term as we learn how to support a rapidly growing number of courses. It also marked the conclusion of the Wikipedia Year of Science, which we launched in January 2016 as a year-long initiative to improve science content on Wikipedia. We also ran a term-long study to assess, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the pedagogical value of Wikipedia-based assignments. As we grow, each term brings its own lessons that both build upon past experiences and propel us forward.

Each semester we invite participating instructors to complete a survey about their experience teaching with Wiki Ed. Their feedback helps us to better understand how effective our support systems have been, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. It also provides insight into the reasons instructors teach with Wikipedia, how it’s incorporated into their classes, and tells us a bit about the kinds of students who engage in these projects. In this post I’d like to highlight some of what we’ve learned from the Fall 2016 survey.

For context, the Fall 2016 cohort consisted of 276 courses with 6,326 students who collectively added over 4.25 million words to 5,730 articles, including 735 new entries. At the end of the term, their work had already been viewed 282 million times. Since we’re well over 300 courses in Spring 2017, it’s easy to forget how significant 276 was for us — 61 more than Spring 2016, and 114 more than Fall 2015. As we continue to grow, feedback about how our support is scaling from instructors’ point of view is particularly important.

In Spring 2015, 91% of instructors who taught with Wiki Ed said they wanted to teach with Wikipedia again in the future. In Fall 2015 the number was up to 97%. Then 98% in Spring 2016. There’s not much more room to continue that positive trend, but it makes me happy to see that in Fall 2016, 99% of instructors who filled out the survey said they would teach with Wikipedia again in the future.

Work that matters

One of the most common reasons instructors teach with Wikipedia is also one of the main things students like about it: contributing to Wikipedia is important. Instead of writing a term paper that both students and instructors know probably won’t be read again after the end of the course, writing on Wikipedia contributes to the world’s most popular source of information, with the potential to affect a large number of people. As one instructor put it, “Students are more motivated to work on wiki articles because they know that it’s not only their professor will read it but many people will read the article from now and in future.” Others commented that “Students took pride in their contributions and, this particular class, added more to each article than the assignment required”, and “it’s great for students to know that their work reaches a larger audience than the professor and to become participants in creating knowledge, rather than simply recipients.” Phrased succinctly, “The students put in much more effort into their project when they know it is going to be made public.”

Wikipedia’s visibility and potentially large audience means students understand the stakes to be higher than they’re used to. Several instructors concluded that knowing this had a direct impact on the quality of their writing. For example, “The students felt that, because the ‘world’ could see their outcome (rather than just the professor), they had to be more careful and critical in their writing. That was great.” Wikipedia’s popularity as a source of health and medical information has been well documented, and some instructors at medical schools have found that contributing to Wikipedia gave their students a way to meaningfully contribute to an important public resource. One wrote in their survey response that “My students realized just how many people turn to Wikipedia for health-related information, which motivated them to work much harder than a traditional ‘throw-away’ assignment.”

Learning while writing for a general audience

Students are motivated by Wikipedia’s large readership and real-world impact, but that’s not the only aspect of Wikipedia that encourages deeper engagement with their material. Students must also follow Wikipedia’s requirement that articles be written in a particular style, for a general audience. In other words, to write a Wikipedia article it is not sufficient just to learn what the sources say; the material needs to be understood well enough to summarize it accurately and communicate it effectively to non-specialist readers — who, due to the wiki format, may comment or add big notices to the page when something is not written appropriately.

Survey feedback was full of phrases like “fostering engagement with the general public”, “public-facing work and critical thinking”, “understanding that all writing is part of an ongoing conversation”, and “writing for a real audience.”

In fact, 97% of people who filled out the survey found their Wikipedia assignment to be equally or more valuable than a traditional assignment when it comes to helping students learn about writing clearly for the general public — with 78% regarding it as “more valuable”.

Writing for a general audience is beneficial not just as a mode of writing/communication, but also in the way that it requires a solid understanding of the subject. One instructor noted how their students learned “to translate complex [topics] into ways the general Wikipedia-reader could understand.” 95% of instructors found writing for Wikipedia to be equally or more valuable than a traditional assignment for learning about a subject (55% said it was more valuable).

Critical evaluation of sources

Wikipedia has some strict guidelines regarding “verifiability” and use of high-quality sources. This, combined with the public-facing nature of the assignment, means that students pay closer attention to their sources. Several comments mentioned that students “each described more sensitivity in locating adequate resources,” that they “cared more about the resources they were using”, or that the assignment “helped them think about the relationships between their writing, the sources they’re using, the methods that are appropriate to finding those sources, and the genre of writing.”

For helping students learn about the reliability of sources, 84% found a Wikipedia assignment to be more valuable than a traditional assignment. This high number is consistent with what we typically hear is one of the assignment’s greatest strengths, and why people are using Wikipedia to equip students with the tools they need in an age when fact is often conflated with feeling and fake news has become such a prominent part of public discourse.

An opportunity to discuss bias while working against it

Several instructors commented on how contributing to Wikipedia can also lend itself to discussions of biases and inequality, both historical and current. One of Wikipedia’s great challenges is its systemic bias. Part of that bias comes from the model itself, which relies on traditional publishing models for sources on which to base articles. Another aspect of systemic bias is due to the volunteer nature of the project, and an editing community that’s predominantly white and male, from English-speaking countries.

Classes in Fall 2016 were, on average, 61% female and 43% people of color — numbers much more representative of the world that reads Wikipedia — and many assignments focused on gaps in coverage, like biographies of women in science or topics important to African cultures.

One instructor summarized their experience this way: “I asked students in my history of science class to write articles (most brand new, some significantly expanded) on female scientists from the Wiki Women in Science Project. I think this taught, better than I even expected, and better than if I just TOLD them, how many women have been effectively written out of most histories of science. This was a very valuable lesson about how unconscious biases continue to impact the way history gets written even today.”

Wikipedia assignments vs. traditional assignments

We asked instructors to compare their Wikipedia assignment with more traditional assignments to understand where they see the most pedagogical value. I’ve already mentioned a few of the most salient ways in which a Wikipedia assignment was viewed as more valuable: helping students learn to write for a general audience, evaluate the reliability of online sources, and learn about class topics. It also stood out as a way to teach digital literacy (96% found it to be more valuable than a traditional assignment) and for developing technical or computer skills (79% said it was more valuable). Most instructors similarly found it to be equally or more valuable for developing critical thinking skills (93%) and peer review skills (84%).

Thanks, and an invitation

Thank you to the instructors who taught with us in Fall 2016, and to those of you who took the time to fill out this survey. I hope everyone teaching with Wikipedia in Spring 2017 will do likewise to share your experience. Your feedback contributes not just to our understanding of how people use Wikipedia in the education, but also directly informs decisions we make regarding the support we provide. We’re always eager to know how we’re doing, as well as how you’re doing and what you’re up to. Beyond the survey, if you ever want to share an anecdote, salient student feedback, ask a question, or make a suggestion, please reach out to us by email. If you’ve taught with Wiki Ed and would be willing to share your experiences and what you’ve learned with others, I’d like to invite you to write a guest blog post for us. To talk more about that, send an email to me at ryan@wikiedu.org.

As David Webster wrote in a recent guest blog post, “There are few assignments that better illustrate the nature of sources, the research process, and the relevance of student writing.” If you haven’t taught with us but you’re interested to learn more, take a look at the kinds of support we offer at teach.wikiedu.org or email us at contact@wikiedu.org.


by Ryan McGrady at May 11, 2017 06:44 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Two ravens’ ‘song and dance routine’ wins picture of the year

First place. Photo by Colin, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The results are in, and the Wikimedia Commons picture of the year has been announced: a pair of ravens that clearly don’t have stage fright.

The intriguing image, seen above, features Jubilee and Munin, two of the Tower of London’s six ravens. It was captured by long-time Wikimedia volunteer Colin. According to the Wikipedia article about the ravens, it is said that their presence helps protect the British throne, as “a superstition holds that ‘if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it’.” All six are enlisted as soldiers in the British army, and are prevented from flying great distances by the clipping of one wing.

Animals were a particular strong point in this year’s competition, taking the top three and five of the top seven spots. The second place image showed two elephants casually strolling down a road in Thailand, and third place featured a polar bear jumping between ice floes after missing out on a tasty seal dinner. In our interview with the photographer (Andreas Weith) late last year, he told us that “you need to know that nature will present you with very short-lived situations that will never come back.”


Colin, who has 14,000 edits and uploaded over 800 images to the website, discovered Jubilee and Munin’s antics while on a family excursion to the Tower of London. “We did all the usual tourist things of seeing the crown jewels and getting a tour,” he told us. “These two ravens were posing together on a railing, and I joined with everyone else in taking photos of them. They are big birds, and very intelligent. When I got home, I discovered this photo captured a funny moment where they seemed to be doing a little song and dance routine, with their wings out slightly and one bird talking.”

As it turned out, he snapped the photo at the perfect time; seconds after taking this shot, he captured the ravens looking like they’re walking away from a fight or have bid each other adieu.

Last year, Colin’s fellow Wikimedia editors voted to grant “featured” status to the image, a marker of quality used on the site and other Wikipedias to denote their best work. This made it eligible in the picture of the year competition, in which over 3,600 people voted for their favorite. “I wasn’t sure whether it would succeed as a featured picture, since it isn’t the usual encyclopaedic photograph of a bird specimen and it wasn’t quite as sharp as I’d have liked,” he said. “I think people find it amusing and it captures the character of these clever birds.”

Colin’s usual photographic work focuses on buildings; indeed, these ravens were a fortunate side effect of the journey to the Tower of London, which he took several shots of on the same day (example). We asked about what drew him to structures:

Like many keen amateur photographers, I take photos on holiday and like to share those, and I’m particularly fond of photographing Scotland, where I’m from. I’m fortunate I work in London, which has loads of fantastic photo opportunities. One of my favourite weekends is Open House London in September, where hundreds of interesting buildings are open to the public. That’s been a gold mine for unusual building-interior photos such as the Lloyd’s Building and City Hall. You get a chance to visit places that are usually not accessible, like the dome of Westminster Central Hall, which has one of the best views in London.

Considering how big London is, there are very few people living here taking good photos for Commons or Wikipedia. One such is David Iliff , who is an inspiration for many people on Commons. He is best known for taking hundreds of great photos of English cathedrals, though he’s gone back home to Australia now and is busy with his new family. He encouraged me to make high-resolution images by stitching together many photos with panoramic software. An example is my photo of the Royal Albert Hall, which is composed of 21 frames each with 3 different exposures, resulting in a 171 mega-pixel image. That image came second in Wiki Loves Monuments 2016. My favourite photo is of the interior of Paisley Abbey, which is in my home town, though of course much of the credit must go to the amazing craftsmen who built it.

This photo and the other eleven winners are all available under free licenses on Wikimedia Commons, the online repository of free-use images, sound, and other media files.

The two ravens above, for instance, are licensed under Creative Commons’ CC BY-SA 4.0—meaning that can be used by anyone, anywhere, subject only to certain requirements like attribution to the creator (Colin) and sharing any remixes under a similar license.

You can find more information on previous picture of the year competitions over on Commons.

Second place: Wild elephants walking up a road in the area of Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. Photo by Khunkay, CC BY-SA 3.0.


Third place: A polar bear chasing a bearded seal. Photo by Andreas Weith, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

by Ed Erhart at May 11, 2017 03:35 PM

Lorna M Campbell

Mary Susan McIntosh and the Women in Red

I was chuffed to discover today that English Wikipedia’s main page features a link to sociologist, feminist, and campaigner for lesbian and gay rights Mary Susan McIntosh.  It’s always great to see women featured on Wikipedia’s main page, which is viewed by around 4 million people, but I confess to being doubly pleased because I created the article on Mary at a recent editathon to mark International Women’s Day here at the University of Edinburgh.  This editathon was facilitated by Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence here at the University, and Ewan was also instrumental in nominating Mary to appear on the main page.

Wikipedia 11 May 2017

Only last week I had been complaining on twitter about the lack of gender balance on English Wikipedia’s main page which happened to feature 18 named men but only 4 named women that particular day. The main page changes on a daily basis but you can see the edition from 4th May on archive.org here.

WikiProject Women in Read

Of course this is not particularly surprising; Wikipedia has a well known problem with gender imbalance, only 16% of biographical entries on the English Wikipedia are of women, and the main page is a pretty accurate reflection of this imbalance.  The Wikimedia Foundation and the various Wikimedia chapters around the world, including Wikimedia UK, are well aware of this problem and are attempting to address it through a range of projects and initiatives.  WikiProject Women in Red raises awareness of this issue and aims to turn red links blue, by creating new biographical articles about women who are referenced on Wikipedia but who do not have their own pages. And here at the University of Edinburgh, one of the objectives of our Wikimedian in Residence is to encourage more women to get involved with editing Wikimedia.  Ewan regularly runs editathons focused on addressing the coverage of articles about women in general and Scottish women in particular.

Before I went along to the International Women’s Day editathon, I confess knew nothing about Mary Susan McIntosh, I picked her name at random from a list of “Women in Red” because she sounded interesting.  It didn’t take me long to realise what a hugely significant and influential woman Mary was.  In addition to being one of the early members of the UK Gay Liberation Front, and sitting on the committee that lowered the homosexual age of consent in the UK from 21 to 18, Mary published important research arguing that homosexuality should be regarded as a social construct, rather than a psychiatric or clinical pathology.  Mary’s paper The Homosexual Role helped to shape the concept of social constructionism, later developed by Michel Foucault.  Mary’s contribution to shaping this important philosophical construct has of course been largely overlooked.  My Wikipedia article barely scrapes the surface of Mary’s life and academic career and her important contribution to social theory and political activism.  I hope to do a bit more work on Mary’s Wikipedia page sometime in the future but it would be great if there are any philosophers, sociologists or critical theorists out there that could help with editing to ensure that Mary gets the recognition she deserves.

by admin at May 11, 2017 03:13 PM

May 10, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: Somou Prize writing contest ends with nearly five hundred new Arabic Wikipedia articles; news in brief

Arabic Wikipedia editors in a 2015 meetup. Photo by Habib M’henni, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In under two months, thirteen Wikipedians have created 472 new articles on the Arabic Wikipedia. Eight of those articles have been nominated for featured and good articles, articles that are rated by the Wikipedia community as one of the best on the encyclopedias. Those Wikipedians achieved this as part of the Somou Prize writing project.

Somou was a writing contest on the Arabic Wikipedia that lasted from 1 February through 29 March 2017. The contest encouraged both experienced and new users to create new articles that meet minimum quality standards on the Arabic Wikipedia, especially within Wikipedia’s areas of need. Participants who reached the goals received modest rewards.

The word itself is Arabic for “elevation,” but the prize was named after the Saudi prize grantmaking association Somou Society, which supports community development projects in the cultural and educational fields in the Arab World.

“Wikipedia is [one of] the most famous content platforms that comes first in search results. That’s why we’ve chosen to support it,” said Noura Elamoudy and Bayiena Alqahtany from Somou Society. “Contributors don’t need to go to a certain place or necessarily work with a certain group of people. It is open for volunteers anywhere at any time.”

Somou Society reached out to the Arabic Wikipedia community with an offer to support one of their projects, without placing limitations on what that project would look like. Wikipedian Mervat Salman came up with the idea of the contest and took the lead on implementing it.

Having participated in several contests, both as a contributor and organizer, Salman thought about an option that encourages “the most people to participate and win.” That way, the participants will be thinking more about challenging themselves rather than competing with fellow Wikipedians.

“I wanted everyone to be able to participate,” Salman explains, “so I could get the attention of the newbies.” She continues:

“The second step was establishing a team. I asked three active Arabic Wikipedia editors to support us and help us unofficially formulate the rules.” Farah Mustaklem, Bachounda Mohamed, and Mahmoud Alrawi worked with Salman on drafting the rules and Somou Society immediately “welcomed the plan and agreed to announce the contest,” according to Salman.

“I’m proud that we were able to turn this from a competition between editors into a personal challenge for each,” Mustaklem says. “No “prizes” were given, but rewards were given depending on individual contribution. I believe there is a need to encourage new and old editors alike to add good content to Wikipedia.”

Any participant who creates 20 new articles or more that are well written with a minimum of five kilobytes that conform with Wikipedia’s style guide could win. More points were given to those working on articles in Wikipedia’s areas of need, i.e., scientific, medical, engineering articles, etc.

That approach led to the creation of 241 articles in those fields, which is slightly over half of all the articles created. Many editors were encouraged by the contest to write about their field of study and things they have passion for.

“Since joining medical school, nothing has made me as happy as eliminating false information and helping patients understand their cases,” says Fatma Alzahraa, a Wikipedian and Somou Prize participant. “I have spent four years searching for ways to share knowledge as a form of Zakat (giving charity) to teach people what I have learned. My friend Eman Alemam and the Daad Initiative introduced me to Wikipedia, where I both share my knowledge and learn new things.”

Fatma Alzahraa lost her dad a few days after the beginning of the contest. She took a break from the internet but returned before the contest ended, where she found shelter from negative feelings.

“I don’t think that I will be as balanced [emotionally] as I was when my father was alive, but I’m happy that Wikipedia was in my mind and that I remembered to participate in time. I focused mainly on Wikipedia and my school exams.” Incidentally, Fatma Alzahraa did great in both of them.

Like Fatma Alzahraa, Alaa is a medical student who joined the contest to work mainly on medical articles. Alaa earned most of his points in the contest with 64 newly created articles. “My goal from day one on Wikipedia was to share what I learned in different topics and in the medical field in particular. I work on verifying the information and adding reliable references, which is really important as false information may mislead the reader and be bad for Wikipedia’s reputation.”

In the last day of the competition, Alaa wrote 17 new articles with over 120 kilobytes to help achieve the goal he established for himself.

Wikipedia user Abdulkader.saied from Aleppo, Syria participated in the contest with articles about agriculture and animal husbandry. He believes that editing is a great way to learn and unplug. “Reaching the contest goals in the midst of the current crisis and with my school exam makes me feel proud,” he states.

The achievements of Fatma Alzahraa, Alaa, Abdulkader.saied, and their fellow contributors made everyone look forward to similar future projects. Alamody and Alqahtany from Somou Society told us that they “may repeat the experiment and expand the effort if given the opportunity.”

In brief

Pedagogy Award of the year in Sweden: The Wikipedia Education Program and the Wikipedia GLAM community (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) in Sweden are joining forces for a project that gives schools an access to collections and literature to help share it on Wikimedia projects. Their efforts have been recognised with the Pedagogy Award of the Year, presented at the spring conference for Swedish Museums on 25 April.

Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige) partnered with Stockholm digital archives for schools and the Swedish National Heritage Board to start the project in 2016. 250 students, in primary and secondary education, and 10 teachers in Stockholm joined the pilot.

Wikimedia in Google Summer of Code 2017 and Outreachy round 14: Wikimedia’s accepted candidates for the Google Summer of Code 2017 and Outreachy 14 have been announced.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is an annual project where students spend the summer working on a free open-source project of their choice mentored by one of the participating organizations. Outreachy is a program that connects people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software in a three-month, full-time internship and runs two editions every year. Wikimedia is a mentoring organization in both of the programs.

Board of Trustees: On Sunday, the elections committee for the 2017 Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees elections held a live discussion for the candidates to introduce themselves and share their future plans with the Wikimedia community in addition to answering their questions.

Bhubaneswar heritage edit-a-thon: Odia Wikipedians are partnering with Bhubaneswar Development Authority to run a Bhubaneswar Heritage Edit-a-thon (editing workshop). The edit-a-thon is aimed at improving Bhubaneswar’s digital presence and announcing Bhubaneswar as a QRpedia city. With this Edit-a-thon, Bhubaneswar will be one of the first cities in Odisha to install QRpedia codes on all of its heritage monuments.

Student editors in Egypt wrap up nine terms on Wikipedia: Students in Cairo and Alazhar universities in Egypt have finished the ninth term of the Wikipedia Education Program. The program aims at assigning students to edit Wikipedia as part of their school work. In Egypt, student editors have added millions of bytes to Wikipedia.

According to Walaa Abdel Manaem, a Wikipedia and program leader in Cairo University, “12.3% of the featured articles, 7.7% of good articles, 2.7% of featured portals, and 3.8% of featured lists of the Arabic Wikipedia,” are developed by the program students in Egypt.

Central and Eastern Europe Wikipedians write many articles about Romania and Moldova: Participants of the Wikimedia CEE Spring writing contest has spent the last two months writing about their region’s culture, history, geography and politics. That resulted in writing over 3,400 articles.

Hungarians did a particularly notable job as they wrote 80 articles mainly about Romanian female gymnasts. Bulgarians joined the efforts and created 27 articles on Romania and Moldova, while Ukrainians created 22.

Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern

Wikimedia Foundation


by Samir Elsharbaty at May 10, 2017 07:22 PM

Powerful new search tools help edit patrollers find their targets

Photo by Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Taken together, these facts point to a problem: Edit reviewers need powerful tools to handle the avalanche of wiki edits, but power tools can do damage to good-faith newcomers. Is there a way to help edit reviewers work more efficiently while also protecting newbies?

That’s precisely the question that’s been driving the Foundation’s Collaboration team over the past months. We think the answer is yes, and we took a big step toward making good on that conviction with the recent release of the new filters for edit review beta. The beta adds a suite of new tools to the recent changes page and introduces an improved filtering interface that’s more user friendly yet also more powerful. Of special note are two sets of filters that let patrollers on several wikis leverage advanced machine learning technology with new ease.

Work smarter

The AI-powered contribution quality filters make predictions about which edits will be good and which will have problems.” Here, a reviewer filters broadly for edits that “May have problems.” At the same time, she uses colored highlighting to emphasize the worst or most obviously bad edits (in yellow and orange). The user is in the process of adding a red highlight to accentuate “Likely bad faith.”


Recent changes is essentially a search page. By helping patrollers more effectively zero in on the edits they’re looking for, the New Filters beta can save them time and effort. It does this in a number of ways.

Quest for quality: Over the years, reviewers have developed numerous techniques for picking out edits most in need of examination.  Contribution quality prediction filters take this to a new level of sophistication. Powered by the machine learning service ORES, they offer probabilistic predictions about which edits are likely to be good and which may, as the system diplomatically puts it, “have problems.” (“Problems” here can be anything from outright vandalism to simple formatting errors.) Armed with these predictions, edit reviewers can focus their efforts where they’re most needed.

The quality prediction filters make use of scores from ORES’ damaging test and are available only on wikis that support this function. Subscribers to the ORES beta feature have seen damaging scores before, but the new beta deploys the scores very differently. Reviewers now rank edits using a series of up to four filters that offer choices ranging from “Very likely good” to “Very likely have problems” (see illustration).[1]

Figuring out how to present sophisticated artificial intelligence functions in ways that users find clear and helpful was a big focus for the project team during design and user testing. Going forward, we plan to standardize the new approach wherever possible across tools and pages that use ORES.

Use Highlighting to pick out the edit qualities that interest you most. Here, the user filters for edits that are “Very likely good faith.” With colors, she spotlights new pages (yellow) and edits by new users (green and blue). Note the yellow-green row at bottom; the blended color and the two colored dots in the left margin signify that the edit is both a “Page creation” and by a “Newcomer.”


Hit the highlights: Expert patrollers have an amazing ability to scan a long list of edit results and pick out the vital details. For the rest of us, however, recent changes search results can present as dense and confusing walls of data. This is where the new highlighting function can be helpful.

Highlighting lets reviewers use color to emphasize the edit properties that are most important for their work. In the illustration above, for example, the reviewer is interested in new pages by new users. By adding a new layer of meaning to search results, Highlighting, again, lets reviewers better target their efforts (learn more about highlighting).

About face: The old recent changes interface had grown incrementally over the years, like the layers of an ancient city. It could be hard to understand, and in testing we found that many users just ignored the many functions on offer. Slapping yet another layer of tools on top of the pile would, we judged, only add to the confusion.

The new interface is designed to help users by giving them useful feedback. Here, the system instructs the user about selected filters that are in conflict.


Accordingly, designer Pau Giner completely reimagined the interface to make it both friendlier than the existing one and more powerful. Functions are grouped logically and explained more clearly. A special “active filter” area makes it easy for users to see what settings are in effect. And the system is smart about providing helpful messages that clarify how tools interact  (see illustration).

Under the hood, the filtering logic has been reorganized and extended, so that users can more precisely specify the edit qualities they want to include or exclude. (Without going into  the details, suffice it to say that users now refine their searches in a manner that will feel familiar from popular shopping and other search-based sites. Learn more about the filtering interface.)

Find the good

Recent changes patrolling has, understandably, always focused more on finding problems and bad actors. But a number of new search tools let reviewers seek out positive contributions. The “very likely good” quality filter, for example, is highly accurate at identifying valid edits. Two other new toolsets are aimed particularly at finding new contributors who are acting in good faith.

For all intents:  User intent predictions filters add a whole new dimension to edit reviewing. Powered, like the quality filters, by machine learning (and, like the quality filters, available only on certain wikis), they predict whether a given edit was made in good or bad faith.

Hold on, you might be thinking: intent is a state of mind. How can a computer judge a mental,  and even moral state? The answer is that the ORES service has to be trained by humans—specifically, by volunteer wiki editors, who judge a very large sample set of real edits drawn from their respective wikis. These scored edits are then fed back into the ORES program,  which uses the patterns it detects to generate probabilistic predictions. (This page explains the training process and how you can get it started on your wiki.) The new interface ranks these predictions into four possible grades, ranging from “very likely good faith” to “very likely bad faith.”

The intent filters are new, and it remains to be seen just how patrollers will put them to use. Clearly, a bad-faith prediction will act as an additional red flag for vandalism fighters. We’re hoping that the good-faith predictions will prove useful to people who want to do things like welcome newcomers, to recruit likely candidates for WikiProjects and to generally give aid and advice to those who are trying, however unskillfully, to contribute to the wikis .

Are you experienced: The New Filters beta also adds a set of “Experience level” filters that identify edits by three newly defined classes of contributors.

  • Newcomers have fewer than 10 edits and 4 days of activity. (Research suggests that it’s these very new editors who are the most vulnerable to harsh reviews.)
  • Learners have more experience than newcomers but less than experienced users (this level corresponds to autoconfirmed status on English Wikipedia).
  • Experienced users have more than 30 days of activity and 500 edits (corresponding to English Wikipedia’s extended confirmed status).

More to come

“New filters for edit review” is very much in development; over the next few months, Collaboration Team will stay focused on fixing problems and adding new features. Among the improvements on our task list: Incorporate all existing recent changes tools into the new interface; add a way for users to save settings; add additional filters users are requesting. Then, after another round of user testing, the plan is to bring the new tools and interface to watchlists.

As always, we need your ideas and input to succeed. To try the new filters for edit review, go to your beta preferences page on a Wikimedia wiki and opt in. Then, please let us know what works for you and what could be better. We’re listening!


[1] The number of filters available varies from wiki to wiki, to account for variations in how good ORES’ predictions are on different wikis. The better ORES performs on a wiki, the fewer filter levels are needed. When performance is not as high, additional filter levels enable users to balance performance tradeoffs in ways that work best for them. The quality and intent filters page introduces the concepts behind this.

Joe Matazzoni, Product Manager, Collaboration, Editing Product
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Matazzoni at May 10, 2017 03:36 PM

May 09, 2017

Jeroen De Dauw

OOP file_get_contents

I’m happy to announce the immediate availability of FileFetcher 4.0.0.

FileFecther is a small PHP library that provides an OO way to retrieve the contents of files.

What’s OO about such an interface? You can inject an implementation of it into a class, thus avoiding that the class knows about the details of the implementation, and being able to choose which implementation you provide. Calling file_get_contents does not allow changing implementation as it is a procedural/static call making use of global state.

Library number 8234803417 that does this exact thing? Probably not. The philosophy behind this library is to provide a very basic interface (FileFetcher) that while insufficient for plenty of use cases, is ideal for a great many, in particular replacing procedural file_get_contents calls. The provided implementations are to facilitate testing and common generic tasks around the actual file fetching. You are encouraged to create your own core file fetching implementation in your codebase, presumably an adapter to a library that focuses on this task such as Guzzle.

So what is in it then? The library provides two trivial implementations of the FileFetcher interface at its heart:

  • SimpleFileFetcher: Adapter around file_get_contents
  • InMemoryFileFetcher: Adapter around an array provided to its constructor (construct with [] for a “throwing fetcher”)

It also provides a number of generic decorators:

Version 4.0.0 brings PHP7 features (scalar type hints \o/) and adds a few extra handy implementations. You can add the library to your composer.json (jeroen/file-fetcher) or look at the documentation on GitHub. You can also read about its inception in 2013.

by Jeroen at May 09, 2017 05:19 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Finding an authentic audience through Wikipedia

Tanushree Rawat is pursuing a PhD in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her research focuses on the role of technology in education. As a graduate teaching assistant, she has led Wikipedia projects in multiple classes. In this post, she reflects on her pedagogical motivations for teaching with Wikipedia and highlights some outcomes.

Tanushree Rawat
Image: Tanushree Rawat.jpg, by Trawat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The purpose of this blog post is to share my reflection after using Wikipedia as an assessment tool with graduate students, in classes on Technology and Leadership, School Level Leadership, and an Introduction to Doctoral Inquiry in the Education Leadership and Policy Analysis Department at UW-Madison.

As an assessment strategy, the Wikipedia project invites students to be editors through a design experience. They form their ideas on topics that are of most interest to them, create research-based descriptive papers, and finally publish their work. Graduate students oftentimes do in-depth research assignments for their class papers, but the reach of these papers might be limited to their classroom audience. To increase the impact of their work, and to provide a real world platform, I incorporated creating/editing Wikipedia pages for the topics that students work on, in all of the classes that I taught. This results in curating and enhancing the Wikipedia database.

The Wikipedia course pages were designed following the Wiki Education Foundation’s suggested template in the Wiki Ed Dashboard. Wiki Ed staff were always ready to help out with setting up the structure to get courses rolling, including setting up office hours to answer student questions, and sending printed guides for each student. In the past three semesters, students have created or modified more than 26 Wikipedia articles. New pages for topics like distributed leadership, ConnectEd Initiative, framework for authentic intellectual work, and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports were created as part of the past classes.

While creating these pages, students were pushed to think about their work in terms of preparing it for an audience that may not know anything about it. To elaborate on the above point, let us consider the Wikipedia article on distributed leadership. The lead section of this article begins with “Distributed leadership is a conceptual and analytical approach to understanding how the work of leadership takes place among the people and in context of a complex organization.” It seems like a clear and coherent sentence to read, but writing this was a hard process, as the content had to be accessible and jargon-free. Wikipedia emphasizes the clarity of the lead section, because it summarizes the most important content of that article. It should be written in an accessible format from a neutral point of view. Wikipedia write-ups served well for the students to change their writing style from persuasive to explanatory. As one student emphasizes, “Now I find myself writing introductions in the same format. It has really taught me to write things clearly.”

Their writing assignments contributed to existing Wikipedia articles, and also created new ones on topics of focus for other educators like them. Another takeaway from this assessment has been the profound increase in respect for the folks who create Wikipedia articles, and the independent contributors who keep modifying them to make them better. Thirdly, students appreciated the open nature of Wikipedia, where anyone could modify their pages to improve them. This was liberating for some students, as it made them realize that their work “does not have to be perfect” and that there is help available to make the content better. This assessment has enabled us to present our students’ work to the global audience that uses Wikipedia.

Image: University of Wisconsin–Madison Education Building.jpg, by Czar, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at May 09, 2017 05:16 PM

May 08, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikipedia - #German #Science #Awards

There are many different awards known on the German Wikipedia. The category for Science awards alone includes some 366 entries.

For whatever reason most of the implied data has not been transferred to Wikidata. It is probably because there are no or few categories for people who received an award. This is where Awarder, yet another tool by Magnus can make a difference.

The Aby Warburg Prize for instance included much information and by running the tool missing recipients were added including the date it was awarded. The Adolf Windaus Medal did not know any recipients and it takes as long to add all of them. When you run on data from both the German and the English Wikipedia, the result is even better as it was for the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Award.

To complete the information, there is the "conferred by" and the "named after" property to consider as well as looking for people the Wikipedia does not know. You then find the missing links and people known on another Wiki project. It is easy to add new items for the "red links".

The Albrecht-Ludwig-Berblinger-Preis is a redirect. There are no links in the article for the people who were awarded an award. Adding an item for the award is easy adding at least one recipient is easy as well. This is where Awarder does not help.

The Augsburger Wissenschaftspreis für Interkulturelle Studien award information is in two parts. The first part with data until 2007 can be read by the Awarder. The second part includes a more complex table and cannot be read. In the past the Linked Items tool did the job. It did not include all the associated dates but it did produce a list of all the Wikilinks. They could be processed by PetScan.

Adding information like this from the German Wikipedia takes some effort. In this way we improve the global reach of Wikidata. For awards like the August-Lösch-Ehrenring there is the occasionally new information in the sources for the award. At some stage bots will pick up new information added in Wikidata to make suggestions to Wikipedia editors.

As a rule the quality of Wikipedia articles like this is good and it is worth the effort to promote science.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 08, 2017 05:45 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #19, 2017 (May 8, 2017)

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May 08, 2017 12:00 AM

May 06, 2017

Gerard Meijssen

Teaching #Wikipedia using local #news

One of the functions of Wikipedia is providing a background and, to understand what is in the news, you need a lot of background. This is one of the first things to overcome when children start reading the news.

When newspapers are introduced in the class, a first exercise is to just read and have the children select a few articles that are of interest to them. As a follow up they analyse the text for concepts that you have to know about to understand the article. They make lists for the selected articles.

On another day they select new articles, make similar lists but are asked if there is an overlap with other lists. They are asked to write a few lines for all the concepts in such a way that there is enough to understand the article coming from every original news article.

This is when Wikipedia is introduced. The children is shown that it provides basic and neutral information that help them understand, for instance, the news. Their next challenge is read Wikipedia and see how its articles help understand the news. When subjects are missing, they make a list.

The last thing to do is write stubs for missing Wikipedia articles. What then may follow is the standard course ware for writing Wikipedia articles. The objective for this approach is that it helps children to better understand the news; understand that news is a continuum. The news is compact and assumes basic knowledge and such information can be found in Wikipedia.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 06, 2017 02:34 PM

#Wikidata - Steven E. Petersen

Some say that Wikidata is only there to support Wikipedia. Maybe. Wikidata includes information about Mr Steven E. Petersen. The English Wikipedia has three red links for the Grawemeyer Award for recipients in the field of Psychology.

Mr Petersen was already known to Wikidata as the author of four publications. Some will argue that publications are the bread and butter of Wikipedia and they are.

The sum of all knowledge is one whole and as such all Wikimedia projects together are tools that bring all the information, all the knowledge to everyone. All do it in their own way and as such Wikidata does support Wikipedia and it supports Wikipedia among all the other things it is useful for.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 06, 2017 09:45 AM

May 05, 2017

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 354



  • The Bing Maps team announced in its blog the release of new satellite imagery (a total of 3.67 million km²) in Turkey, Greece and Argentina in cooperation with DigitalGlobe.

  • Nuno Caldeira describes how to improve road tagging using Mapillary horizontal imagery in JOSM.

  • The Zoo tagging has been extended with the tag zoo=wildlife_park. A description for Safari Park is to follow.




Humanitarian OSM

  • Mikel Maron writes a Mapbox blog about the impressive work done by 3000 mappers in the mapping of 1.7 million buildings. These were mapped into OpenStreetMap to fight Malaria in Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Honduras and Guatemala.

  • The user upendrakarukonda, who works as a data analyst at Mapbox, summarizes the previous work of the project "eliminate malaria" and asks for more supporters to join this mapping effort.

  • Matthew Gibb (American Red Cross, HOT Community Member) shows the results of the mapping work after the cyclone Enawo.

  • Janet Chapman announced an one-hour webinar for Thursday, May 18th and asks to enroll for the same.


Open Data

  • ArchitectsNewspaper writes about the open source project NYC space/time directory, which represents the development of the city of New York in the period from 1850 to 1950 by means of interactive maps.

  • Todd Robbins announces about him giving dataportals.org a facelift as the new maintainer of the page.


  • Dan Jacobson started started a discussion on licensing in the legaltalk mailing list.


  • [1] OpenRouteService appears with a new API, new features (such as isochronous calculation) and an improved look.


  • Mapbox now provides a new layer with data about traffic congestion. The information is based on customer’s meta data and thus can be updated frequently in many places.

  • Jiaoyan Chen is pursuing research at the University of Heidelberg on how data from OSM and MapSwipe can be used to train neural networks with the objective of an automated detection of buildings on satellite images. First preliminary results are now available in a paper.


    Software Version Release date Comment
    iOsMo 1.7 2017-04-24 Fixed issue with unhided screen keyboard on registration view, waypoints from group tracks now visible on map.
    Mapillary Android * 3.54 2017-04-25 Better deletion of sequences after upload.
    Komoot Android * var 2017-04-28 No Infos.
    Kurviger Free * 10.0.20 2017-04-28 The selection between the 3 route modes (fastest, curvy, extra curvy) has been moved to the route menu, avoiding ferries, highways, toll roads and smaller roads possible.
    StreetComplete 0.8 2017-04-28 Add translations: Albanian, Danish, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Russian, simplified Chinese, Swedish and Turkish, sending crash reports, bugfixes.
    Locus Map Free * 3.23.2 2017-05-01 No infos.

    Provided by the OSM Software Watchlist. Timestamp: 2017-05-01 13:17:55+02 UTC

    (*) unfree software. See: freesoftware.

OSM in the media

  • Mundodiario from Spain published an article about offline navigation apps and unsurprisingly mentions OSM.

  • Melanie Eckle talks about mapathons on the German radio station DLF Nova. Read more here in English.

  • SWR (German regional TV-Station) reported on a user Mapathon, at the University of Heidelberg, from minute 14:52 to 17:34.

  • "SciDevNet" reported on how a way out of violence in the suburbs of Tunis was found by using "mapping tools to influence planning decisions".

Other “geo” things

  • The Norwegian village of Fossmork feels overrun (de) (automatic translation) by tourists looking for Preikestolen rock via Google Maps – which is nearby but on the other side of the fjord.

  • In France, the police have introduced a tracking system for those in need. When an emergency number is dialed, the caller receives a text message with an HTML link. The caller then confirms the link and the geo-coordinates are sent to the rescue headquarters on a map.

Upcoming Events

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, Polyglot, Rogehm, SeleneYang, Spec80, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, keithonearth, kreuzschnabel, vsandre.

by weeklyteam at May 05, 2017 08:27 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly Report for March 2017


  • Director of Programs LiAnna Davis traveled Brazil to meet with the Wikimedia Brasil User Group and present at the University of São Paulo about teaching with Wikipedia and the Year of Science.
  • Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and LiAnna went to Germany for the annual Wikimedia Conference, where they participated in the movement’s strategic planning process and exchanged learnings with program leaders from around the world.
  • We continue to set new records for the Classroom Program, which now includes 333 courses, with more than 6,100 students contributing to public knowledge on Wikipedia.
  • George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum brought the Pilgrim Tercentenary half-dollar article to Featured Article status, the highest level of quality on Wikipedia.


LiAnna Davis co-presents with Professor João Alexandre Peschanski in Brazil.

LiAnna traveled to São Paulo, Brazil, at the invitation of the São Paulo Research Foundation. While in Brazil, LiAnna gave two presentations at the University of São Paulo (USP), met with the Grupo de Usuários Wikimedia no Brasil (Wikimedia Brasil User Group), and attended a neuroscience and mathematics edit-a-thon for the Portuguese Wikipedia. In particular, LiAnna encouraged USP researchers and faculty to engage in sharing information on Wikipedia, with the goal of a Year of Science initiative in Brazil in the next few years. You can read more about LiAnna’s trip in her blog post.

Frank and LiAnna also traveled to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the Wikimedia Conference, an annual gathering of leaders running Wikimedia programs around the world. It was a really good opportunity to share our learnings from the last year of running our programs, and to learn from others doing education work globally. Frank participated in the Movement Strategy track, an opportunity to help shape the future strategic direction of the Wikimedia movement, focusing on the importance of education. LiAnna participated in the capacity building track, presenting during the Learning Days on program impact and giving an impromptu presentation about the Program & Events Dashboard, a version of our Dashboard software that’s available for program leaders globally to use. The conference was a great opportunity for us to connect and collaborate with others around the world.

Educational Partnerships

In early March, Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson traveled to Chicago to the National Women’s Studies Association’s regional meeting of department chairs and directors. We attended this meeting for the third year because it gives us an opportunity to learn about initiatives within women’s studies departments and to share updated strategies and resources with highly influential faculty. At this meeting, we presented to attendees about the impact women’s studies students have made on Wikipedia as a part of our partnership. We shared preliminary results from Research Fellow Zach McDowell’s research study about the student learning outcomes during a Wikipedia assignment, and attendees were excited to learn more as we publish results. One session at the meeting focused on curriculum transformation, and we discussed the challenges of addressing relations of power in the undergraduate classroom. Several Wiki Ed instructors have identified the way editing Wikipedia empowers students to produce knowledge as one reason they engage in this project, making Wikipedia-writing assignments a great fit for instructors looking to bring this learning experience into the classroom.

Jami also attended the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’s annual meeting in Kansas City, promoting Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program to criminology instructors. In the past, we’ve supported courses like Annette Nierobisz’ Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice course at Carleton College with fantastic outcomes. For example, students created a new article, reproductive health care for incarcerated women in the United States, sharing information with the public about the lack of reproductive health care available to incarcerated women. We’re looking forward to bringing more criminal justice courses into the Classroom Program, as students can identify topics relevant to citizens’ daily lives and provide reliable, accessible, verifiable information.

Zach presenting at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in Savannah.

Later in the month, Outreach Manager Samantha Weald attended the American Society for Environmental History conference in Chicago, speaking to potential program participants about the power of disseminating information about environmental science to the general public via Wikipedia. Meanwhile, Jami and Zach joined pedagogy researchers at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in Savannah, presenting about the educational benefits of writing Wikipedia.

Classroom Program

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

  • 333 Wiki Ed-supported courses were in progress, 157 or 47%, were led by returning instructors.
  • 6,116 student editors were enrolled.
  • 62% of students were up-to-date with the student training.
  • Students edited 4,460 articles, created 282 new entries, and added 1.9 million words.

In less than three years, the Classroom Program has more than tripled in size. While numbers alone cannot truly convey its impact on both Wikipedia and student learning, growth means that more students are engaging with public knowledge creation and more subjects on Wikipedia are being improved. In Fall 2014, we supported 98 courses and 2,700 students. We’re currently working with 333 courses and more than 6,000 students, and spring quarter courses are continuing to sign up. The number of courses being taught by first-time instructors to the program is greater than the total number of courses we supported in Fall 2015, while the number of our courses taught by returning instructors remains strong at about 50%.

In addition to onboarding spring quarter courses, the Classroom Program team has been busy making sure that all of our courses are getting the help they need during the height of the term. Earlier in the month, Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal, along with Samantha and Wikipedia Content Expert Ian Ramjohn, again held Wiki Ed Office Hours. During these hour-long sessions, instructors in the program are invited to stop by and discuss their Wikipedia assignments. During our two sessions, instructors were eager to know about everything from best practices for assessing student work to questions about specific articles. Not only do these sessions enable Wiki Ed to interact with instructors on a more personal level, but it gives us a better sense of what’s going on in the classroom. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for instructors to learn from one another, and we were delighted to see instructors offer one another advice based on their own experiences. We’ll be holding office hours again in April and one final session for this fiscal year in May.

Samantha and Helaine also had the privilege of visiting Naniette Coleman’s class earlier in the month at UC Berkley. The course is an independent study project focused around the highly relevant subject of privacy. While there, Helaine and Samantha introduced students to Wiki Ed and explored the larger impact of their work. As mostly freshmen and sophomores, they all had some experience with Wikipedia, but mainly as consumers of information. They were all eager to make their own mark and to make connections between various aspects of privacy and their majors or other interests, ranging from music to law.

We also welcomed Wikipedia Content Expert Shalor Toncray on an interim basis this month. Shalor is helping out with classes in the humanities this spring.

A student in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class created this diagram to explain how oceans become euxinic.
Image: How oceans become euxinic.png, by User:Hgossy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.?

Student work highlights:

Ocean chemistry has changed substantially over the past 4.4 billion years. After the Great Oxygenation Event about 2.3 billion years ago, oxygen was thought to have gradually accumulated in the oceans. That idea was challenged in 1998 when Donald Canfield proposed that the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere instead produced Euxinia—an ocean that was anoxic and rich in hydrogen sulfide. Students in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class created an article about Euxinia that not only details the ancient ocean and how its chemistry could have been inferred, but also discusses modern euxinic conditions, which occur most notably in the Black Sea. Another group turned the short Bioaerosol article into something much more substantial. Bioaerosols, which include fungi, bacteria, viruses and pollen, can be transported for thousands of kilometers before settling out of the atmosphere, and can play an important role in cloud formation. While many of these organisms die quickly in the upper atmosphere, some bacteria can survive for extended periods of time. Dust storms, which move material across the Atlantic from North Africa and across the Pacific from the Gobi Desert, may also move bioaerosols across these oceans. Other articles substantially expanded by students in this class include Netarts Bay, Reverse weathering and Ice algae.

Kalief Browder was an African American man who, at the age of 16, was arrested and imprisoned in Rikers Island, without trial, for three years. Browder spent most of his time in solitary confinement. His mental health suffered while imprisoned, and he committed suicide two years after his release. A student in Fabian Neuner’s Black Lives and Deaths class expanded Wikipedia’s short article about Browder to include information about his early life, the nature of his arrest, the conditions of his imprisonment, and the details of his trial, which was repeatedly postponed over the course of his imprisonment. Other students in the class expanded a variety of other articles including Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, Criminal stereotype of African Americans, Reparations for slavery and Assata’s Daughters.

Thomas Day was a free black furniture craftsman and cabinetmaker in slavery-era North Carolina whose handiwork remains highly sought-after. A skilled craftsman and businessman from a well-educated background, Day was able to tread a line between black and white society. A student in Lisa Maria Strong’s Museums and Diversity class expanded the existing article in Day, greatly expanding the information on this life and adding detailed sections about his furniture craftsmanship, architectural craftsmanship and his legacy. Black Hawk was a Lakota medicine man and artist known for the creation of a series of 76 drawings depicting Lakota life and rituals during the winter of 1880-1881. A student in the class expanded the short article about Black Hawk into a substantial article adding context and a lengthy discussion of the collection of drawings and their significance both as a work of art and as one of the most complete depictions of Lakota life and cosmology. Other students in the class expanded articles about Lois Mailou Jones, a Harlem Renaissance artist, and Poplar Forest, a plantation and plantation house owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Community Engagement

Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum brought the article on the Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar to Featured status.
Image: Pilgrim tercentenary half dollar commemorative obverse.jpg, by User:Bobby131313, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady spent time this month working with new Visiting Scholars sponsors. Ryan coordinated the review of applicants for the Visiting Scholars position with our partners at the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). There were several excellent candidates, of which Ryan recommended two to AWM Executive Director Magnhild Lien. Ryan has also been planning a Visiting Scholars initiative sponsored by the Deep Carbon Observatory, a global research community of scientists dedicated to better understanding of carbon in Earth.

Current Visiting Scholars continued to contribute high-quality work to Wikipedia. Jackie Koerner, Visiting Scholar at San Francisco State University, developed the article on Native American disease and epidemics while Barbara Page at the University of Pittsburgh contributed to a number of health-related subjects, like the entries for vasopressin and amoxicillin. Gary Greenbaum at George Mason University continued his run of high-quality numismatics articles by substantially expanding Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar, and bringing Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar, a coin struck in 1920 and 1921 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in North America, up to Featured Article status, the highest level of quality on Wikipedia.

Program Support


LiAnna continued to work with PR & Company, the media relations firm we brought on to bring more media attention to Wiki Ed’s programmatic impact.

Blog posts:

External media:

Digital Infrastructure

On the surface, March was a slow month for Wiki Ed’s software development efforts, but behind the scenes things have been moving quickly. With contributions from volunteers from the AgileVentures community as well as several prospective interns, we fixed numerous small bugs and user interface inconsistencies in our software. March also saw major performance improvements, resulting in both faster loading of data for Dashboard users and a much faster update cycle — with new edits from program participants reflected sooner on Dashboard course pages.

Product Manager Sage Ross continued streamlining the Dashboard’s tools and automated processes that help us keep track of and respond to activity in the ongoing courses we’re supporting. In response to community feedback about the Dashboard’s system of automatic welcome messages, we reorganized the way we welcome newly enrolled students on their talk pages. We also improved the course-related email alerts the Dashboard sends to instructors and Wiki Ed staff. At the end of the month our contracted designer jumped into development of the Article Viewer authorship highlighting feature, and we started the beta testing phase of a Dashboard chat feature, through which we identified several areas for improvement before a wider rollout.

Research and Academic Engagement

During March, Zach and Research Assistant Mahala Stewart finalized the quantitative analysis portion of the Student Learning Outcomes data assessment. We conducted univariate descriptive statistics and bivariate relationships of pre- and post-assessment survey data, using students’ responses to the surveys’ closed-ended questions. We then ran a series of multivariate analysis, using ordinal logistic regression models, each with a different dependent variable that assessed outcome. The independent variables for this analysis included contextual and demographic factors for the influence on students’ attitudes towards Wikipedia assignments. Additionally, we have begun analyzing the focus group data for triangulation of the skills questions.

Zach has begun to present the findings on this data, and will continue throughout the summer. Zach traveled with Jami to Savannah, Georgia, for the Scholarship on Teaching and Learning (SoTL) commons conference to present on these findings and on Wiki Education in general.

Finance & Administration

Expenses March 2017
March 2017 expenses, year to date

​For the month of March, our expenses were $144,755 versus our approved budget of $177,453. As with prior months, the $33k variance is primarily due to staffing vacancies ($27k); along with timing differences of a number of expenses.

Completing our 3rd quarter, our year-to-date expenditures were $1,355,148. We continue to be well below our budgeted expenditure of $1,765,818 by almost $411k. Like the monthly variance, a large portion of the variance is a result of staffing vacancies ($163k). In addition, there continues to be timing difference and savings, as well as the decision to defer some expenses that contributed to the variance. Among the areas contributing to this difference are: Professional Services ($69k); Travel ($95k); Marketing and Fundraising Events ($29k); Board and Staff meetings ($44k); and Printing ($19k).

Office of the ED

The relationship between Wikipedia and Education was one of the main topics at the Wikimedia Conference 2017 in Berlin

Current priorities:

  • Developing the next annual plan
  • Preparing for a major new campaign

In March, Frank re-filled the open development position after Tom Porter left the organization in February. TJ Bliss, former program officer for the Open Educational Resources portfolio at the Hewlett Foundation, will join Wiki Education Foundation as Director of Development and Strategy in June. 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 Brigham Young University 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. He will be responsible for creating and executing our development strategy, building relationships with key decision makers in the philanthropy community, and supporting the creation of our next organizational strategy on the staff end.

Delegates participating in the Movement Strategy track discussed Wikimedia’s future

Also in March, Frank talked to Emiel Rijshouwer, a sociologist from Erasmus University Rotterdam, who conducts research about the “organization of self-organization”. Emiel interviewed Frank about the evolution of the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to provide volunteer-communities with the infrastructure (software, tools, norms, funding, etc.) to support their work.

At the end of the month, Frank and LiAnna attended the Wikimedia Conference 2017 in Berlin. This year, the annual conference focused on Wikimedia 2030: a global discussion to define the Wikimedia movement’s future role in the world. Over the course of three days, Frank joined delegates from different parts of the world to identify a cohesive direction that aligns and inspires every Wikimedian on the path to 2030. Education was one of the main themes of the conference and both LiAnna and Frank spent a great amount of time with education program leaders from different countries in order to learn from each other and to strengthen personal ties.

Visitors and guests

  • Pat Reilly, PR & Company

by Ryan McGrady at May 05, 2017 06:13 PM

May 04, 2017

Wiki Education Foundation

Truth commissions and Wikipedia

David Webster is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Bishop’s University. In this post he explains how his students contributed to Wikipedia’s coverage of truth commissions in his Winter 2016 class on Memory, Truth and Reconciliation. The above image is a printed version of their work, which will be read by future students.

It’s not standard practice for students to write a textbook for other students. Still, while writing Wikipedia articles for my course on Memory, Truth and Reconciliation, students put together a solid collection that will be required reading the next time this course is offered.

This is an old story for readers of the Wiki Ed blog: all of the students in my course had consulted Wikipedia as step one in research projects. All of them knew it wasn’t considered an acceptable academic source by most of their professors. They thought of it as a traditional encyclopedia posted online as a disembodied source of knowledge – albeit one prone to error and occasional vandalism. They found that becoming Wikipedia authors and editors changed the way they thought about “the free encyclopedia” – and even their own approach to the nature of research sources and knowledge-sharing. Most students have read Wikipedia passively, as disembodied authority. Now that they are content providers, they won’t look at Wikipedia the same way.

In the Bishop’s University course, History 384, Memory, Truth and Reconciliation in the Developing World, we tackled the under-covered theme of truth commissions formed to address the troubled legacy of conflict or dictatorship. Originally created in Latin America and most famously implemented in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is now a ubiquitous piece of the “transitional justice” tool kit. A country emerging from civil war or foreign rule, or walking the tough transition from authoritarian rule to democratic government, almost invariably has to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of some sort. Truth commissions have even spread from the global South to the wealthier North, with Germany and Canada among the developed countries that have tried to confront violent pasts and heal historical traumas through truth-telling and truth-seeking.

And yet, this was not a topic well covered on Wikipedia. Some commissions had detailed articles; others had exhaustive entries that read more like lists; while the majority had to be content with uninformative stubs. In two offerings of a course on truth commissions, we tried to fill some of this gap. The result is 20 new articles on national truth and reconciliation commissions, from Bolivia to Yugoslavia. Many more articles on truth commissions await improvement or creation, but some impressive student research and peer-editing has, I hope, greatly improved Wikipedia’s utility as a first stop for research on truth commissions. Thanks to the beta version of the Pedia Press self-publishing platform (see top image), the 16 articles authored by students in the 2016 version of History 384 will be assigned reading the next time I teach this course – by which time, there will probably be plenty more truth commissions needing coverage.

The trouble with truth commissions, I think, lies in the way governments treat them as episodes rather than processes. A government commissions a report, appoints commissioners, assigns a budget, and then waits. Once the commission completes its work and puts together a final report – generally in multiple volumes including thousands of pages of information – the government can publish or not publish, act or not act. It may be better to see truth-seeking and reconciliation as a process, starting before a commission forms and continuing long after it reports. Activist groups campaigning for accountability, memorials and apologies, all become part of a broader process.

Wikipedia articles can be part of this. A truth commission report is read in full by a handful of people. Academic analyses are often excellent, but again their readership is limited. Some of the best are in hardcover books costing over $100, far out of reach for people in the affected countries. When the aim is truth-seeking and wide dissemination of findings, these are major shortcomings. Here Wikipedia’s strengths as an accessible platform for the dissemination of knowledge come to the fore.

On the down side, Wikipedia coverage is massively skewed towards wealthier countries. Truth commissions in Canada and other developed countries have tried to learn from the global South and apply a tool developed for the global South – with good success. Expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of these Third World truth commissions is a small contribution to making Wikipedia more just by increasing awareness of less-covered areas of the world.

And, of course, the process of writing Wikipedia articles builds student research skills, and especially collaborative research skills. As one student wrote in their response essay: “One of the main points I have taken away from this course is that public history, and by extension public memory, cannot solely be shaped by individual scholars. They must be created diversely and as collaborative works by all those whom it may affect. Wikipedia is optimal for this presentation.”

The value of Wikipedia as a way to conduct collaborative research is the main lesson I learned by using Wikipedia in the classroom. Other lessons I took away include:

  • Assigning a Wikipedia article as the major course assignment ends up being more work for the instructor since it requires multiple rounds of (formative) assessment and feedback, but that is the nature of collaborative article creation with a lead (student) author. This worked well in a small group, but might be more challenging in larger classes.
  • I had worried, and some students had thought, that the assignment would be easier than a final research essay. They found that the research process was similar, the writing was often more challenging.
  • Feedback was positive on the way students were forced to think about the nature of sources, freedom to follow own research, multiple interim deadlines preventing the assignment from being left to the last minute, and a lesson in reading online sources skeptically.
  • Challenges included writing in the open, with the whole scary world of the Internet able to read your work, and the difficulty of maintaining the much-feared NPOV – neutral point of view – for students trained to write a research essay with a clear thesis.

A Wikipedia assignment may not be for every class, but it definitely worked for this one. There are few assignments that better illustrate the nature of sources, the research process, and the relevance of student writing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next group to take this class responds to using a textbook written by former students.

Image: MTR student book covers.jpg, by David Webster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at May 04, 2017 03:53 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

Mrs Elizabeth Loftus won the Grawemeyer Award in 2005. When you read her Wikipedia article, she has been celebrated frequently for her work.  One way to consider the relevance of people is in the similarities people people share with others and Mrs Loftus shares many awards with many scientists.

As we all stand up for science, several of the awards celebrate science and taking a position that is not popular with the powers that be. One such award is the Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility it includes Mrs Jean Maria Arrigo and in my opinion her Wikipedia article does not do justice to the cause that got her this award. Often the true heroes of science do not get the recognition they deserve.

Not everyone goes out to march for Science. I am not in the USA and I do sympathise with this cause. What Wikimedians can do for science is document science, scientists and the scientific process and use scientific practices to ensure that Wikipedia does not carry the false flags some !@#$ insist on.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at May 04, 2017 05:49 AM

May 03, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Looking back on World Book and Copyright Day

Photo by Nicki Dugan, CC BY-SA 2.0.

April 23 was World Book and Copyright Day, an international day created by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and protection of intellectual property. This year, the day was celebrated with events and activities happening around the world, focusing on access to information for print disabled people and how information and communications technologies can help to improve it.

Access to printed materials is an essential part of access to education and culture, and a key support for individuals to fully participate in society. Literacy and access to books is a global issue that affects people’s abilities to address other development challenges; access in particular is an acute problem in many parts of the world, such as in sub-Saharan Africa, where most people do not own a book.

Access to printed works is even lower for people with a print disability. The World Blind Union has calculated that in developed countries only 10% of written material is accessible to people with a print disability. In developing countries, this number falls to just 1%.

“World Book and Copyright Day is an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO. “It is said that how a society treats its most vulnerable is a measure of its humanity. When we apply this measure to the availability of books to those with visual impairments and those with learning or physical disabilities (with different causes), we are confronted with what can only be described as a ‘book famine’.”

One potential solution to people’s limited access to printed materials is to make digital books and other online resources—like Wikipedia, for instance—available to them on mobile devices. Over six billion people, out of a total of seven billion on the planet, now have access to a mobile phone.

Wikipedia and accessibility

Volunteers are working to ensure that Wikipedia is available for everyone to access and contribute, including people with print disabilities. Projects within Wikimedia like Wikispeech, an open source text-to-speech solution targeted to Wikipedia, and other information-rich texts, including ebooks, aim to improve accessibility. Wikipedia also uses more general assistive technologies, like screen readers, which improve people’s ability to access and add to Wikipedia’s knowledge. A wonderful explanation of what life is like as a blind Wikipedia contributor was recently written about Graham Pearce, who shared his experiences including how it differs from sight-based contribution.

Wikipedia loves books

Whilst Wikipedia has usurped the role of print encyclopedias in many parts of the world and the vast majority of the references on Wikipedia link to other digital material, books are vital to Wikipedia. Despite most contemporary publications having some form of digital incarnations, for hundreds of years physical books offered – and still offer – a vital way to share information.

A simple search on Google Books or on more targeted research collections, like JSTOR or Project MUSE, will not provide the information found in many books. Wikipedia editors rely heavily on physical reference materials, especially when working on specialist or historical subjects. There is a huge volume of printed materials that currently have no digital representation; digitization is simply too costly and takes too long for many institutions holding these books.

Wikipedia needs free licenses

Copyright is an intrinsic part of how Wikipedia is created. The Creative Commons licenses provide two permissions that are fundamental to the functioning of Wikipedia:

  • To adapt: Wikipedia is a collaboration between tens of thousands of people working together. It is far from unusual for hundreds of people work together on a single article. Without the ability to alter other contributors’ text, Wikipedia would be unable to adapt over time.

Wikipedia needs you

For many people, their love of reading stems from specific books—whether that’s falling through portals into fictional worlds, or understanding the world in new ways through factual, non-fiction narratives.

You can help people learn more about the books you love, the characters within them, the authors who created them, and the worlds that inspired them by writing on Wikipedia. If you have never contributed to Wikipedia before, you can use our getting started guide.

You can also share knowledge within these books on Wikipedia by using them as references. This is especially important for less well-known subjects where limited information is available online. The English Wikipedia, for example, generally require that users note where they got their information by citing reliable sources, like books, so that readers can verify everything for themselves. To assist in this process, Wikipedians on many language wikis can get access to the Wikipedia Library, which has been set up to grant Wikipedia contributors free access to various online databases for the purpose of improving Wikipedia.

By contributing to Wikipedia, you will not only be helping others to discover the books you love—you will become an author yourself and work with thousands of other people to build on the largest reference work ever created.

John Cummings, Wikimedian in Residence

by John Cummings at May 03, 2017 08:28 PM

Wikimedia India

Anonymous registered users on Indic Wikimedia projects

Wikipedia is made and contributed by one of the biggest communities on the internet, yet, 79% of the total community members are identified by only one name,”Wikipedian”, apart from their respective usernames. They don’t identify who they are, where they are from, what their gender maybe, yet Wikipedians are one of the kindest and welcoming community on the internet and there are not a single question in the planet that cannot be answered on a Reference Desk of English Wikipedia by “Wikipedians”. Though some Wikipedians provide information about themselves on their Userpage and sometimes some users have their username resembling their real names but most the time, those are just so little information that nothing can be deduced about who they really are. That’s the nature of how Wikipedia works, Wikipedia does not need anyone to disclose their identity, everyone is treated in the same way without any discrimination.

Unlike English Wikipedia, Indic language Wikipedias are made by much smaller communities and due to the concise nature, each member knows everyone from their community in real life, perhaps they all gathered in a conference?  In July 2016, during the WikiConference India, Indic wikipedians gathered in Chandigarh, which brought almost everyone in one place, however, their are some people even in the Indic community who are truly anonymous. What we know of them are just their usernames and contributions. They are the unsung heros of Wikipedia. Recently, in March 2017, we finally had a recognition of one such unsung hero who goes by the username “User:SM7”. SM7 is a Bhojpuri and Hindi language Wikipedian who has been contributing on Wikipedia for over 6 years. There are other such registered editors on Indic language Wikipedias who are like SM7.

On Punjabi language Wikipedia there are two such editors. User:Malwinder25 is one of them, registered on 2015, they have since made over 16 hundred global edits; significantly on Punjabi Wikipedia. Apart from their username which indicates their Indic origin they are totally anon, according to Malwinder 25’s userpage, they are just “An avid Wikipedian….”.

The other Punjabi Wikipedian, “User:Balvindra Kathuria” is another such editor who have not revealed much information about themselves,* they may not even live in India, we don’t know, their contributions may not be in thousands but their little contributions helps the project to grow.

On Hindi Wikipedia, apart from SM7, there is another such anon-registered user who goes by the username “स”. स is a Hindi alphabet. The userpage of the user does not give any information about the user, neither their contributions give any geographic indication of their location, however, their contributions signifies that they are working for the betterment of the Indic-projects, making them a member of the Indian community. Since registering on September 2016, they have contributed on more than one Indic-language Wikipedia. In just seven months they have made over 2100 edits, as of May 2017.

Bengali Wikipedia, being contributed by people from distinct geographic locations, the number of unsung heros are more than any other Wikipedia. On a cursory look we have found at least three established editors, “User:আদিব এহসান”, “User:খালিদ সাইফ” and “User:Parvezahmed” who chose not to reveal their identity.

“User:আদিব এহসান”, editor with more than 2,400 edits on Bengali Wikipedia appeared to be based somewhere in Bangladesh. Though “User:খালিদ সাইফ” has over 1,700 edits, they don’t have a user page. “User:Parvezahmed” has a very interesting user page, where we saw Jimmy Wales peeping out from one side of the page and a bouncing Wikipedia logo in the bottom. The editor appeared to be from somewhere in Bangladesh who has over 1500 edits on Bengali Wikipedia. This people are unknown to the local Bengali user-group, but their contributions make them a significant part of the community.

“User:Malikaveedu” who got so much recognition for their good contributions as evidenced on their user-page, has never revealed their identity among the Malayalam community members even after registering 7 years from now (2017). They have made over 4,100 positive contributions on Malayalam Wikipedia and is still actively working to expand the scope of the project.

“User:Praveenp” another Malayalam Wikipedian who is believed to be anon-registered user. Not many people on the Malayalam community knows the person in real life. However, they are a highly respected and established Wikipedian. Registered over 9 ago, they have made over 22 thousand global edits and has been a bureaucrat on Malayalam Wikipedia  for a very long time. According to their Wikimedia Commons’s userpage they identify themselves to be something like this: Credit Praveenp or this:  Credit Praveenp


Jokes apart, he has been an awesome contributor, though unsung, in both Commons and Malayalam Wikimedia projects.


Sysop on Malayalam Wikipedia and Malayalam Wikisource, we know the guy by only their username – “Manuspanicker”. They have been actively working on Malayalam WikiProjects for over 5 years now but they are widely unknown like User:Praveenp. As an unsung hero, they made over 28 thousand global edits.

In some Wikimedia projects like Odia language Wikipedia, there aren’t any anon-registered editors. But on the whole Indic-community there is an estimated 6% registered editors who prefers to stay hidden. We should not try to deduce their identity if they feel bothered but we should recognize their good contributions with barnstars and kind messages.

If you’re aware about any such unsung hero, please help us give them the recognition they deserve.

Please nominate them here.

*However, someone from the Punjabi Wikipedia community may know them.



by Jim Carter at May 03, 2017 01:17 PM

May 02, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: Women in Red’s impact on Wikipedia’s gender gap; news in brief

Chemist Margaret D. Foster, restored and nominated to a featured picture by WiR participant Adam Cuerden. Photo by National Photo Company, public domain.

As of the beginning of this year, the English Wikipedia had 1.4 million biographies. Only 240,000, or about 17%, were about women.

This sort of content gender gap is one reason why WikiProject Women in Red exists. Formed a bit under two years ago, the volunteer-led initiative has led to the creation of over 45,000 biographies about women on the English Wikipedia. In particular, articles on women scientists have been improved at a rate significantly higher than the site as a whole. This work has helped combat Wikipedia’s gender gap, both in terms of volunteer contributors or article subjects; an April 2011 Wikimedia Foundation study found that only one in every ten Wikipedia editors are women.

Women in Red’s name stems from the color of links to non-existent articles. While surfing Wikipedia, you cannot miss the blue hyperlinks that take you to other Wikipedia articles. Many people have fallen down rabbit holes while clicking them. However, you might have skipped over the red links that denote nonexistent articles. Women in Red refers to the latter: they want to take those red links and turn them blue by creating articles on notable women.

“There are many notable women who have done amazing things,” says project member SusunW, “but whose histories have been overshadowed by their spouses, by lack of media coverage, and by cultural bias. I write because I don’t want future generations following us to have so few women who are visible as role models.”

SusunW has, along with other members, improved 13 Wikipedia articles to “good article” status, a quality classification used by the English Wikipedia community. Five of them were created by her, appearing on the site for the first time as a result of her work.

“I try to focus on minority women,” she explains: “non-western women, and women who contribute to society. The candidates I choose as subjects are not women who are famous, but rather women who have made a difference.”

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight co-founded the project. She was later named as a co-Wikipedian of the Year together with Emily Temple-Wood for working on projects that boosted female participation on Wikipedia. Stephenson-Goodknight attended the events held in March every year to encourage editing about women, but she wonders why women’s history is only celebrated one month out of the year.

“When Roger and I founded WikiProject Women in Red, we were clueless if anyone would be interested in writing women’s biographies on a regular basis aside from March each year,” says Stephenson-Goodknight.

She continues: “My pervading view was to say ‘yes’ to every possible opportunity which came our way. I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, we’d only write a handful of articles on that particular topic.”

The project now holds three events per month on average. Since July 2015, between one and three thousand articles have been created every month. The events take different forms: some are “contests, others are challenges, most are only virtual events, some include in-person meetups, some are international in scope, and some are very narrow,” Stephenson-Goodknight explains.

Helping to bolster a collaborative spirit is Women in Red’s atmosphere. Sue Barnum, one of the project contributors, described it as “the friendliest place on Wikipedia.” Gathering many editors who share the same values was not an easy job, but it paid off in building “a harassment-free zone for on-wiki conversations,” as Stephenson-Goodknight calls it.

For Barnum, participating in the project was an eye-opening experience where preparing the material for editing helped her learn about women she knew nothing about. “I had no idea so many amazing women were out there,” says Barnum. “I didn’t know there were Yemeni feminists. I didn’t know that there was an all-woman, all African-American WWII company sent overseas. These people are forgotten, erased. That’s not okay.”

With her willingness to share her experience with the other project contributors, Barnum volunteered to be the project’s Librarian in Residence. Editors refer to her when they need help researching material to edit their articles.

The Women in Red project has expanded to other languages on Wikipedia. It is now available in Albanian, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Persian, and Spanish. It also keeps growing on the English Wikipedia where every hand is needed to keep it running smoothly.

“The success of Women in Red depends on the labor of many,” says Stephenson-Goodknight, “and everyone needs a break sometimes, so the more editors who contribute in their own time and their own way, the better. This doesn’t apply only to article creation and improvement. It also applies to our talkpage, which now contains thousands of posts. We’ve created a friendly and safe space for conversations regarding this work and as much as I’m in awe of the more than 45,000 articles we’ve created on the English Wikipedia.”

In brief

“Wikimedia hubs” coming to Nigeria: The Nigerian user group is establishing Wikimedia hubs at universities in the country. Led by Olaniyan Olushola, the group’s president, they plan to create a group of 20 students per institution to study the site and share their acquired knowledge with others. Olushola told us that “We hope this project will create a paradigm shift, turning these students from Wikipedia readers to active contributors.” This move comes as a survey conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Reach team has indicated that over three-quarters of Nigerians are not aware of Wikipedia, and that the encyclopedia more popular among students than among the population as a whole. To learn more, visit the Wikimedia Fan Club, University of Ibadan and Wikimedia Hub, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) pages on Meta.

Meet a Wikipedian!: The youngest-active editor on the Punjabi Wikipedia is Baljeet Bilaspur. Known as Baljeet Bilaspur within the Wikimedia community, he is a student in the tenth class from Bilaspur, Punjab. He became acquainted with Wikipedia in June 2015 during a workshop led by Charan Gill. His interest in technology motivated him to contribute content to the Punjabi Wikipedia, such as computer-related stub articles in Punjabi such as Central Processing Unit, Computer virus and Hard disk.

In November 2016, he participated in the first-ever Wikipedia Asian Month and became the Punjabi community’s Wikipedia Asian Month Ambassador by writing the highest number of articles. It was this experience which led him to explore his interest in Chinese history via Wikipedia—most of the articles created by him were related to the country’s rivers, mountains, ethnic groups, and ancient dynasties (like Sui dynasty, Zhou dynasty and Tang dyansty). As of January 2017, he has written around 375 articles on Punjabi Wikipedia during the course of making more than 5000 edits. For the future, he hopes to learn more about the technical aspects of Wikipedia, like bots, scripts, template localization, and MediaWiki.

Pangasinan hosts its second Wikipedia edit-a-thon: The Wikipedia Community in Pangasinan, the Philippines held its second editing event (edit-a-thon) last month. The event was supported by the Pangasinan Provincial Government and funded by a Wikimedia Foundation grant in addition to anonymous users who provided prizes for the winners. 84 people attended the event where they spent the time listening to introductory sessions about Wikipedia, and how it works, followed by an editing workshop.

Celtic Knot Conference 2017 registration open: Registration is now open for the ‘Celtic Knot’ – Wikipedia Language Conference which will take place Thursday 6 July 2017 at the University of Edinburgh Business School. The conference aims at showcasing innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data that support and grow Celtic and Indigenous language communities. The event is organized by the University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK.

Wiki Loves Earth 2017 kicks off: The annual photography contest will start on 1 May 2017. The competition aims at collecting photos of natural heritage sites—such as nature reserves, landscape conservation areas, national parks, scenic/landscape areas, remarkable gardens, etc. – to illustrate articles on Wikipedia and its sister projects. Local teams in the participating countries will organize local events for taking photos and dispensing prizes on the winners.

Wikimedia Affiliations updates: This week, the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee (AffCom) recognized the Wikimedians of Peru User Group, which aims to support the movement and its community in that country, and de-recognized Wikimedia Philippines as a Wikimedia Affiliate. In addition, Wikimedia Chile announced the results of their board election.

Wikimania 2017 program update: The Wikimania program committee shared an update about the conference submissions received by the committee. So far, the program committee has received 208 lecture submissions, 37 panels, 51 roundtables & birds-of-a-feather, 19 lightning talks, 11 posters, 54 workshops and tutorials. More details about the submissions and next steps on Wikimania-l.

Voting opens in Foundation Board of Trustees election: Nine candidates are currently vying for the three community seats on the Board of Trustees. Information on the candidates and voter requirements is available on Meta; the actual vote is being conducted via SecurePoll.


Samir Elsharbaty, Digital Content Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Samir Elsharbaty at May 02, 2017 03:28 PM

May 01, 2017

Wiki Education Foundation

Deep Carbon Observatory to Sponsor a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass and a key component of all known life; it fuels most of our energy, and as carbon dioxide it is the primary cause of climate change on Earth. But most research of the element has focused on carbon near Earth’s surface, and we know surprisingly little about its physical, chemical, and biological behavior throughout most of the planet’s interior.

The study of deep carbon brings together a wide range of sciences committed to better understanding the Earth’s past, present, and future. There’s a lot to learn, but efforts in recent years have yielded a great deal of knowledge with far-reaching implications. That’s why I’m excited to announce that the Deep Carbon Observatory has begun accepting applications for a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar.

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a ten-year initiative that is exploring the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon deep within Earth. It’s an interdisciplinary community of about 1,000 chemists, physicists, geologists, and biologists from 35 nations, who have come together in four distinct science communities that study various aspects of deep carbon. These communities are: Deep Life, Deep Energy, Reservoirs and Fluxes, and Extreme Physics and Chemistry. About eight years into the ten-year project, these four groups have published a great deal of research applicable to a wide array of fields and subjects.

When people want to learn about science and the world around them, Wikipedia is often their first stop. As a predominantly volunteer-written project, however, its topic coverage can be uneven and important topics can be underdeveloped, too technical, or rely on low quality or outdated sources. Even when a knowledgeable editor wants to improve an article, he or she may be unable to access the best sources on the subject, which are so often trapped behind a paywall. Through the Visiting Scholars program, Wikipedians receive access to an educational institution’s resources to improve articles in a topic area of mutual interest.

DCO is committed to disseminating knowledge with the broader science community and with the public. The initiative’s Engagement Team, based in the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography, has been exploring ways to contribute to public knowledge of deep carbon science by facilitating the improvement of related topics on Wikipedia. They are looking to sponsor a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar, who will have access to 9,000 DCO-specific publications as well as remote access to the full suite of the University of Rhode Island’s library resources, including ebooks, journals, digital media, and well over 200 databases.

If and when convenient for the Scholar, the Engagement Team would also like to arrange for an all expenses paid trip to visit URI.

If you’re a Wikipedia editor with an interest in deep carbon science or a related field, we’d love to help connect you. You can apply for a Visiting Scholar position here and, if you have questions, drop us a line: visitingscholars@wikiedu.org. For more information about the Deep Carbon Observatory, visit their website or email the director of the DCO Engagement Team, Rob Pockalny at rpockalny@uri.edu. For more information about the Visiting Scholars program in general, see the Visiting Scholars section of our website.

Images: URI Carothers Library.jpg, by Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; DCO Logotype.jpg, by Metocguy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Ryan McGrady at May 01, 2017 07:21 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #18, 2017 (May 1, 2017)

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May 01, 2017 12:00 AM

April 30, 2017

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia Foundation urges Turkish authorities to restore access to Wikipedia

Istanbul, Turkey as seen from International Space Station

Istanbul, Turkey as seen from the International Space Station on April 16, 2004. Photo by NASA Earth Observatory, public domain.

On Saturday, April 29, we learned that the Turkish Internet Regulator (ICTA) implemented a block of all language versions of Wikipedia in Turkey. Wikipedia is a global source of neutral, reliable information in hundreds of languages. If it remains, this block will result in millions of people in Turkey losing access to free knowledge about their country and the world around them. We believe knowledge is a fundamental human right, and urge the Turkish government to remove this block.

A dedicated community of volunteer editors write and maintain more than 40 million articles on Wikipedia. This global community has a powerful vision: a world where every single person can freely access the sum of all knowledge. Wikipedia represents a rich source of knowledge on a wide range of topics, from history to medicine to technology. The nearly 300,000 articles on Turkish Wikipedia also provide knowledge for millions of people about Turkey’s history, culture, and geography—written for Turkish speakers, by Turkish speakers.

Freedom of information is a foundation of free knowledge. For many people, Wikipedia is the most accessible source of reliable, neutral information in their language. It may contain content that some readers consider objectionable or offensive, but this alone should never be grounds for removal. We believe that everyone in the world has a fundamental right to freely share and access knowledge without fear of repercussions. We strongly oppose censorship or threats that lead to self-censorship.

The block occurred shortly following a notice on Friday, April 28 from the ICTA, requesting a URL-based block in Turkey of a number of articles on both English and Turkish Wikipedias.

A number of claims attributed to Turkish authorities in the press have suggested that Wikipedians have been part of a “smear campaign,” or created content “supporting terrorism.” We are deeply concerned by any suggestion that freely sharing the encyclopedia articles created by the worldwide volunteer editor community could be misconstrued as supporting a violent or hateful agenda. We believe there has been a misunderstanding. Wikipedia’s purpose is to share encyclopedic information with the world. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we unequivocally condemn and reject terrorism.

The Wikimedia Foundation calls on the Turkish government to restore full access to Wikipedia for the Turkish people, and empower them to once again share in the world’s largest free knowledge resource. We are currently considering appropriate ways to challenge this decision through the Turkish courts. We invite you to join us in calling on the Turkish government to respect the rights of their citizens and #UnblockWikipedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation does not set editorial policy for the Wikimedia projects. We respect and support the editorial decisions made by the community of editors around the world, including those of the Turkish Wikipedia community.

Katherine Maher, Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation

by Katherine Maher at April 30, 2017 03:11 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata and #Libraries - RAMP and #WorldCat identifiers

There are books and there are authors. Libraries are first and foremost in the book business. They register their books because otherwise they do not know what they have. Authors are important but they are secondary. Particularly the not so well known authors, authors with one book do not always get the full treatment. There is a registration, sort of, and it is waiting in the wings to be fully registered.

Libraries and librarians are Wikimedia's friends. A presentation from the IUPUI University Library shows how their wish for good documentation works for them. They release the rights to their "finding aids" and add missing "authority records" for people and companies. They then create Wikipedia articles based on their "finding aids" and add Wikidata records. They have it down to an art so much so that their tool, RAMP (Remixing Archival Metadata Project) lives as a web-based tool on WMFLabs. This invites any librarian anywhere to join the fun.

One of the articles is about Hugh Ned Brown. The article is good and the Wikidata is quite good as well. RAMP is a tool for librarians. It is wonderful and if there is one question left, it is how Wikimedians can contact librarians like the ones at IUPUI to fix the issues we find at our end.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 30, 2017 02:04 PM

#Wikipedia #Research - World Famous in Holland

When category names are well chosen, they predict similarity between what is in a category. A research paper named: "Recognizing Descriptive Wikipedia Categories for Historical Figures" came to this conclusion, it is complete with a lot of mathematics. They did their panel research so it must be good.

At the back of the paper there is a list of English categories and their "Surprise level". It focuses on balancing the effect of both size of the category and the probability of inside-category pairs become close neighbours.

This makes size of the category relevant. One of the categories is "International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees", it has 222 entries. The German category knows about 22 additional inductees. The S-level is 163.84. For "24 Hours of Le Mans drivers" there are 1,247 entries and the German category knows about 501 additional drivers, the S-level is 138.47.

Categories in Wikidata may include a definition of its content. For in stance: "is a list of" - "human" with a qualifier of "award received" - "International Tennis Hall of Fame". This definition can be used in tools even bots to include all the missing statements in Wikidata.

The absence of articles shows a bias; they are what editors found notable enough to write articles about. It is however not that relevant. One question is: does this research translate to other Wikipedias and its categories another is if there is a predictive value for the relevance of missing articles in other Wikipedias for the same category.

For some categories, relevance exists because of the interest in a specific culture. For me Johan Cruyff is more relevant than any "wide receiver" in American Football; I cannot name one. This research is interesting but it does not give us the most famous people ever. This is obvious because of the distribution of topics of English Wikipedia.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 30, 2017 07:10 AM

April 28, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia strategy: what has been done, and where are we going?


The Wikimedia movement is currently engaged in a strategy process aiming to identify a shared direction across the movement. What do we want to build or achieve together over the next 15 years? That’s the big question that we’re collectively trying to answer using research and through community discussions. It’s easy to get lost in the jargon and the complexity of this ambitious process. This post aims to provide a high-level overview of what has been done so far and what to expect next.


First, I would like to take a moment to think back about what we’ve done over the past 16 years. We started from basically nothing in 2001. Now, Wikimedia sites are among the most visited in the world. We’ve written, compiled, and curated an amazing body of free knowledge including millions of articles, millions of media files, and wikis in hundreds of languages.

We’ve become a community of hundreds of thousands of people working together on “building monuments to other people’s knowledge“, as someone put it during a discussion about the values. It’s easy to focus on the day-to-day routine and lose sight of the impact that we have had on the world, but what we’ve achieved so far is truly remarkable.

Imagining the future

As we reflect back on what we’ve accomplished, we can also ask ourselves: What more can we do? What else should we do in the next 16 years? And so we’ve started thinking about what we want to have done by 2030, because 2030 is a round number and we as humans tend to like round numbers. Thinking about our future is an exercise in imagination, but we’re Wikimedians, so it’s an exercise in imagination based on facts, trends, and sources.

What do we know about the world we’ll be living in in 2030? We know that there will be a lot more people in it, particularly in Asia and Africa. We know that technology will evolve dramatically, notably through mobile devicesrich media, messaging, and new interfaces. We know that it’s currently going to take about a hundred years for children in low-income countries to catch up to the education levels achieved in developed countries. And we know that there is a trend towards a centralization of the internet and a consolidation of power in the hands of a few giant companies, notably in the tech industry.

Photo by Nabin K. Sapkota, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Bringing in new voices

As we’re looking at the trends to consider, we also need to go beyond what we know and who we know. Our vision, what we’re set to accomplish, requires that we realize that we’re not alone. We’re part of an ecosystem, and we need others. We need partners. Those voices will help define our future, because they’re part of it.

This work involves hundreds of interviews, small-group discussions (“salons”), research, and building relationships for future collaboration. The Foundation is notably partnering with Reboot in Indonesia and Brazil to conduct research that is complementary to what was done with the New Readers program in countries where Wikimedia isn’t as well known as what we’re used to. They will interview partners, subject matter experts, and conduct contextual inquiries with readers in their own environment using methods of design research. In parallel, online surveys are being conducted in the places where we are the most popular, to understand how people perceive and use Wikimedia.

This work will inform and complement community discussions with new voices that haven’t traditionally been included in strategy discussions, or that are not yet part of the movement. They can help us identify the global trends that I mentioned earlier as what we should be considering as we discuss our future. For example, scenario planning is going to help us better understand what the world will look like in 2030, notably in terms of demographics, technology, media consumption habits, access to knowledge, and policy.

Some of that has already happened, and it will continue over the next few months. The information will be posted on Meta as it comes in. If you have recommendations of experts and partners in your circles or geographies that would enrich this discussion, you’re welcome to suggest their names on Meta. But more importantly, you can reach out to them yourself. The Foundation can’t do this alone; we are a global and distributed movement, and local relationships are much more likely to bear fruit than a centralized approach. The Foundation has also reserved budget for affiliates who want to run small-group discussions with subject matter experts. If this is something that motivates you, you can contact me and I will direct you to the people who can provide some advice on how to proceed.

Community discussions

This research and outreach will continue to inform the community discussions, which have been going on the past few months. From the first sessions at the Foundation’s all-hands meeting, to on-wiki discussions, to workshops organized by affiliates, to the recent Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, our movement has been buzzing with activity.

When I talk about bringing in new voices, it’s not just about people outside the movement. It’s also about people within the movement who don’t traditionally participate in this kind of discussion. This is why 18 coordinators were contracted to organize and facilitate discussions in many languages, with support from the Foundation’s Community Engagement team. Volunteers and groups have also organized discussions with their communities and affiliates across wikis and off-wiki. This has encouraged many contributors to participate in the discussion by avoiding the “Not my wiki” syndrome.

Some of the processes in the past few years have been more guided, for example by asking for people’s thoughts on the role of mobile devices, and some participants felt too constrained. This time, the discussion started at an earlier stage from a mostly blank page, with a bigger question. It was about imagining the role of the movement and what we would have achieved by 2030.

Many participants enjoyed the freedom that this big question allowed, and contributed insightful responses, resulting in over 1800 statements collected from the various communities. For others, the question was too vague, and they felt that they needed more specific questions to be able to contribute constructively. That’s completely fine, and if that was your case, you will have opportunities to discuss specific topics in more details starting next week.

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

Emerging themes

Until more research comes in, we can take a look at some of the preliminary themes that have started to emerge from the community discussions. The coordinators and many volunteers have started to summarize the discussions to make them more accessible, and a more quantitative analysis will be posted on Meta for translation later this week.

These initial themes won’t be too much of a surprise if you’ve participated in the discussions or been around the movement for a little while. They relate to:

  • collaboration, working together, and partnering with others;
  • fostering a healthy and sustaining community;
  • ensuring content quality, neutrality, and reliability;
  • partnering with the education sector;
  • serving emerging communities and building a global movement;
  • ensuring that we stay relevant through innovation in technology and product;
  • acknowledging and filling knowledge gaps and biases;
  • organizations, governance and structures;
  • languages, diversity, and inclusion;
  • supporting new and experienced contributors;
  • defending our values.

These are just preliminary and are likely to change as more research comes in and discussions happen. Some of them are less about imagining a future and more about how to get there. They may become more actionable later in the year when we start talking about roles, structures, and practical implications.

A closer look at the themes

Now, I’ve mentioned that not everyone feels comfortable with big questions about imagining the future, and that’s completely fine. People think in different ways. Some need the freedom to explore their thoughts based on a short prompt; others need to focus on more specific topics and issues to really be able to think about what they mean.

And that’s what we’re all going to start doing in about a week. Right now, the team is starting to organize all the information that has emerged so far and preparing deep discussions about the main topics. Maybe you’re really interested in content gaps and biases; or moving beyond the model of the western encyclopedia; or possible business models across the movement; or fostering a sustainable and healthy community. You will have the opportunity to research and discuss these topics in detail.

If you haven’t participated until now, or if you’ve felt that you didn’t have anything to contribute, I encourage you to look out for the topic discussions that will start in a week. Together, we will begin to make sense of all this information and organize it into something that describes the direction we are imagining for our movement.

Photo by Carlos Matos, CC BY 2.0.

Reach out if you have questions

I know it’s easy to get lost in the process and the jargon, so I want to extend an invitation to anyone who is confused or has questions about this project. No matter how busy anyone seems to be, there is time to answer your questions and hear your concerns. If you don’t reach out about what isn’t working for you, the team can’t adjust.

If you don’t know who to contact, you can email me and I’ll redirect you to the appropriate person. You can also book a slot directly in my calendar.

This is exciting

I want to finish by saying that this is about your future. It’s exciting. And if you’re not excited, be practical. What we decide collectively will impact your work, your priorities, your headcount. Maybe not in the next fiscal year, but it will have an impact down the line. Now is when you need to participate.

So take a look at the information currently on Meta; look out for an announcement next week to join the topic discussions; share relevant research; comment on other people’s analyses; participation can take many forms. Our future will be shaped by those who show up; I hope that you do.

Guillaume Paumier, Co-lead architect, Core strategy team
Wikimedia Foundation

Video (Commons, YouTube) by the Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY 3.0.

by Guillaume Paumier at April 28, 2017 10:24 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 353


Beispiele des neuen OpenTopoMap-Stils

Screen shot examples of the new OpenTopoMap style for Garmin devices 1 | © Wolfram Schneider, OpenStreetMap contributors CC-BY-SA 2.0


  • Marc Gemis (Escada) explains the workflow he follows when he surveys an area to map on OpenStreetMap.
  • Christoph Hormann provides new satellite images for mapping on his website imagico.de. The pictures show the North Sea in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, the Petschorasee coast in the North of Russia, part of the Arctic coastline and islands in the North Atlantic.
  • Michael Tsang asks for votes for his proposal bus_bay=left/right/both. Michael also extends the voting for through_service and asks for increased participation.
  • A discussion about how to map a mill channel/trench started both in the German forum (de) (automatic translation) and the Tagging mailing list at about the same time. waterway=leat is called the water providing alternative for the existing tags waterway=ditch, drain and canalis proposed. The German forum prefers waterway=ditch, so far.
  • surface=cobblestone was discussed on the German forum (de) (automatic translation), after wiki fiddling changed the original intent of the tag over the years. Do we all have to start retagging what we know colloquially as cobblestone to surface=sett? Or do we make the definitions in the wiki the way they started out?
  • Élisée Reclus (@reclus23) tweets that “In #Ruhrgebiet the cycle path signposts in #OpenStreetMap soon have (de) (automatic translation) to be changed / supplemented”. He also points out that new signposts might also be rescue points tagged highway=emergency_access_point or emergency=access_point.


  • Whoever currently scrapes the JOSM server is kindly, but urgently asked to stop it.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • On the recent OSMF Board meeting on 18th April a possible directive was discussed on how to deal with commercially organized edits in a largely non-public item of the agenda. This led to a turmoil prior to the meeting. A theme in the public part was also a possible change of the e-mail provider for osmfoundation.org (Gmail) to a self hosted solution.
  • “OSMUK Chapter has opened a dialogue at senior level with Highways England about access to their data and they have indicated they are open to releasing data to us”, says Brian Prangle at Talk-GB. He lists a number of features to add to the initial request of data. Your comments are welcome.


Humanitarian OSM

  • OpenGovAsia reported in detail and clearly about the HOT activities and disaster management in Indonesia. The “pioneer work” by HOT even in very remote areas is highlighted in particular.
  • HOT reports on the projects being supported by the “Microgrants Program 2017”.


  • On the Talk mailing list, you can read a discussion about how the important landmarks of cell towers are perceived differently and only pylons are rendered by the map style openstreetmap-carto.
  • [1] BBBike extract service now also delivers maps with the OpenTopoMap style for Garmin devices.


  • The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar uses OSM data on its website (automatic translation) since the end of March. So far, start and destination maps, and line trajectories are available. They are already working (de) on an interactive map.(automatic translation)


  • Bryan Housel requests your help to translate the next version of iD. He also gives some details on the upcoming 2.2 release.


  • Mapbox released their Node.js binding for or-tools as open source. Although the code is thought to use the Mapbox APIs, first users confirmed that it also works directly with OSRM and OpenStreetMap data.
  • R0bst3r thought about how to use OpenStreetMap in his car. He found (automatic translation) a simple way to mirror the smartphone display on his Mazda radio. User michalfabik refers to a discussion on the same topic on reddit.


Software Version Release date Comment
OpenStreetMap Carto Style 3.2.0 2017-04-17 Many changes, please read release info.
Naviki iOS * 3.58 2017-04-18 New cycling map, bug fixes.
Mapbox GL JS v0.36 2017-04-19 One new feature, five bugs fixed and three development workflow improvements.
OsMo iOS 1.6 2017-04-19 Improved application stability. View group members, points of interest, tracks on OpenStreetMap.
Komoot Android * var 2017-04-21 No Infos.
OSRM Backend 5.7.0 2017-04-21 Many changes, please read release info.
QGIS 2.18.7 2017-04-21 No infos.
MapContrib 1.7.9 2017-04-24 Some smaller changes.
Mapillary Android * 3.51 2017-04-24 Auto break sequences after 600 photos, fix timestamp and upload issues.
Naviki Android * 3.58.2 2017-04-24 Added language instructions for additional languages.

Provided by the OSM Software Watchlist. Timestamp: 2017-04-24 16:37:53+02 UTC

(*) unfree software. See: freesoftware.

Did you know …

  • … the livemap24? It shows public transport vehicles, either where they should be based on GTFS timetables, or where they actually are if the public transport operator provides an API with live positions.

OSM in the media

  • The French newspaper “Le Monde” reports (automatic translation) about the Jungle Bus (automatic translation) project whose aim is to build tools to ease contributions and use for public transport data on OSM. The app has been previously mentioned as Bus Contributor.

Other “geo” things

  • Mapzen expands the Who’s On First Neighbourhoods post, presenting the work-flow, sources and a status report.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Ouro Preto Mapatona Estrada Real 01/05/2017 brazil
Toronto Mappy Hour 01/05/2017 canada
London Missing Maps May Mapathon 02/05/2017 uk
Rostock Rostocker Treffen 02/05/2017 germany
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 03/05/2017 germany
Geneva Mapathon Missing Maps Université de Genève 03/05/2017 Suisse
Paris Mapathon Missing Maps Paris 04/05/2017 france
Helsinki Monthly Missing Maps mapathon at Finnish Red Cross HQ 04/05/2017 finland
Dresden Stammtisch 04/05/2017 germany
Passau Mappertreffen 08/05/2017 germany
Taipei OSM Taipei Meetup, MozSpace 08/05/2017 taiwan
Rome Walk4Art II 08/05/2017 italy
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle libre 09/05/2017 france
Nantes Rencontres mensuelles 09/05/2017 france
Mumble Creek OpenStreetMap Foundation public board meeting 09/05/2017 everywhere
Lyon Mapathon Missing Maps Lyon 10/05/2017 france
Grenoble Mapathon Missing Maps Grenoble 11/05/2017 france
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 10/05/2017 germany
Berlin 107. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 11/05/2017 germany
Zurich 83. OSM-Stammtisch 11/05/2017 switzerland
Prague Wikimedia Prehackathon 12/05/2017-14/05/2017 czech republic
Tirana OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania) 13/05/2017-14/05/2017 Albania
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 15/05/2017 france
Bonn Bonner Stammtisch 16/05/2017 germany
Lüneburg Mappertreffen Lüneburg 16/05/2017 germany
Avignon State of the Map France 2017 02/06/2017-04/06/2017 france
Salzburg AGIT2017 05/07/2017-07/07/2017 austria
Kampala State of the Map Africa 2017 08/07/2017-10/07/2017 uganda
Champs-sur-Marne (Marne-la-Vallée) FOSS4G Europe 2017 at ENSG Cité Descartes 18/07/2017-22/07/2017 france
Curitiba FOSS4G+State of the Map Brasil 2017 27/07/2017-29/07/2017 brazil
Boston FOSS4G 2017 14/08/2017-19/08/2017 united states
Aizu-wakamatsu Shi State of the Map 2017 18/08/2017-20/08/2017 japan
Boulder State of the Map U.S. 2017 19/10/2017-22/10/2017 united states
Buenos Aires FOSS4G+State of the Map Argentina 2017 23/10/2017-28/10/2017 argentina
Lima State of the Map LatAm 2017 29/11/2017-02/12/2017 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, SeleneYang, Spec80, SrrReal, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia.

by weeklyteam at April 28, 2017 06:34 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata user story - The Golden Brain #Award

I have added people who won the Grawemeyer Award. This award has many categories and I concentrate on the category "psychology". The people in this category get extra attention; all the information from categories and awards are included as well.

Often people turn out to be connected through multiple awards like Mrs Anne Treisman and Mrs Leslie Ungerleider. They both received the Golden Brain Award as well.

When you read the article on the Golden Brain Award, the winners are all in a nice table. For each of them there is either a blue or a red link and for some there is only a string of text.
2015Okihide HikosakaNational Eye InstituteUS
Adding the missing people in Wikidata is not hard, just some additional work. For Mr Okihide Hikosaka there is enough information to add an item to Wikidata. When this is done for all the award winners, it is possible to create a list with the same information in any Wikipedia. 

By adding all this information, people who are into what I concentrate on are better connected. They have more near links to data that links to other people who are relevant in the field of psychology and my hope is that this will trigger people to give attention to missing articles and information.


by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 28, 2017 05:28 AM

April 27, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation

Bridging Wikimedia and “education for all” at UNESCO Mobile Learning Week

Photo by the UK Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0.

Today, one out of every 113 people on the Earth today is an asylum seeker, refugee, or has been forced to move within their own country due to conflict, crisis, or political persecution. Having left their homes and support networks behind, educational opportunities for these people are often sparse to nonexistent.

Before I started working at the Wikimedia Foundation, I supported education projects for Syrian refugees in Jordan. I’ve also worked with refugee teachers and schools in Lebanon and Malaysia. My experiences have made one thing clear: for refugees, education represents stability and gives them hope for the future. In 2016, I wrote about Mahmoud, a young teacher living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. He said:

When I first arrived [to Zaatari], I thought our stay would be temporary, and that soon enough we’d all be back home. When that appeared to be far-fetched… I gathered up the neighbourhood’s children and conducted classes for them. I felt like I needed to help the children, since they weren’t getting their education anywhere else.

Late last month, educators, tech professionals, and policy makers came together in Paris for Mobile Learning Week, an annual four-day conference that this year was devoted to people like Mahmoud and the problem of “education in emergencies.” Mobile Learning Week, held at UNESCO‘s headquarters and co-hosted by the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, examined how information and communication technologies can help provide learning opportunities for these displaced people.

With Wikipedia being synonymous with learning, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Education Program (WEP) engages educators around the world to empower their students to edit on Wikimedia projects—contributing not only to knowledge production, but also to student learning around vital standards in digital and information literacy, and 21st century skills.

We have a lot to offer in terms of helping people globally, from policy makers to classroom teachers, achieve the goal of “education for all.” For the education team, Mobile Learning Week was a golden opportunity to learn more about needs and trends in education technology, advocate for the Wikipedia Education Program, and to foster relationships with potential partners.


“[Information and communications technologies have] the potential to change the world by promoting access to education and digital skills.” –Brahima Sanou, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau

The conference was rife with themes that overlap with our work with the Wikipedia Education Program. Chief among these was the importance of knowledge production—recognizing the value of local knowledge and creating resources that are relevant to the people of a community. The Education Minister of Norway committed to developing a framework for digital literacy that includes components on young people developing their own content, something that several people agreed with. Rosalind Hudnell, President of the Intel Foundation added that “The key is not to just have young people use technology, but to create technology. We need to rethink how education is being delivered. We need to train young people for the jobs of tomorrow. Young people will be job creators.”

A cornerstone of the Education Program is that programs are designed and implemented on a local level, helping to increase contributions to Wikipedias in their local languages and ensure that the participants are invested in them. For example, program leaders in the Philippines hosted Waray language edit-a-thons in local high schools and universities, and in Israel students at a Jerusalem college wrote articles about Shtetls that were destroyed in the Holocaust. In a sense, we are already leading in this field.


Another major theme of the conference was that of the importance of teacher education, on which there is somewhat of a disagreement on this topic among educators and tech developers. A tech company’s representative said at the conference that “if technology can replace a teacher, then it should”—but for educators, this exemplifies a lack of understanding on what actually happens in schools and classrooms: students are actively taught what is in curriculum, but they also learn what is not in the curriculum, and they each have their own background, needs, preferences, and abilities.

There is no computer program that can replace a good teacher; the problem is that, around the world, putting a good teacher in the classroom is a significant challenge. This is where technology can help, and Mobile Learning Week demonstrated this by highlighting teacher training programs that used simple technology to help teachers meet the needs of their students, even in refugee camps, some of the most under-resourced places in the world.

We can help in this area. One point made by Ita Sheehy, a Senior Education Officer at the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, was the importance of improving teachers’ digital competencies. Many students, regardless of background or current status, are digital natives; their older teachers are not. The Wikipedia Education Program improves the digital competencies of educators; this conference has made us think about how this happens and if or how we can measure it.


One final topic consistently discussed at the conference was the importance of recognizing learning and certification. Steven Duggan, the Director of Worldwide Education Strategy at Microsoft, said that “Formal education cannot bear the strain of the refugee crisis. With informal education everything begins with the teacher. This is why Microsoft provides a global community for teachers to collaborate, with training and free software.”

With Microsoft’s training programs, teachers can become certified on their technologies. I see this as an opportunity for us as well. I hope the education community will think more about what are the competencies needed to successfully use Wikipedia in the classroom, and I hope  my team can strategize a way to certify teachers in these competencies.

The need to recognize learning was reiterated by Roland Kalamo Lyadunga, a refugee learner from South Sudan: “You learn for yourself, but you need to prove to others what you know. A refugee’s life is unpredictable, they need to be able to continue with their education wherever they go.”


Mobile Learning Week presented the challenges of achieving “education for all” within the context of education in emergencies, and the unique opportunity to use technology to help solve them. The problems and solutions are not only relevant to situations of conflict and crisis, and we have taken away many useful ideas for the Wikipedia Education Program.

Beyond that, it was clear from these discussions that what our program leaders are already doing is addressing some of these problems, and that we need to better measure and communicate our impact.

Nichole Saad, Program Manager, Wikipedia Education Program
Wikimedia Foundation

You can find more themes and outcomes from the conference in our full report in the upcoming edition of “This Month in Education”. More information on Mobile Learning Week—including video streams of the policy forum, presentation documents, and the conference program—can be found on the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week website.

by Nichole Saad at April 27, 2017 05:00 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Wiki Education outreach: 4 conferences, 4 disciplines, 4 states

Over the past month, Wiki Ed staff have been busy presenting at conferences and speaking with instructors about joining our initiative to improve Wikipedia’s academic content in underrepresented areas.

Zach presents at SoTL Commons.

I attended the Academy of Criminal Justice Society’s annual meeting in Kansas City, promoting Wikipedia assignments to criminology instructors. In the past, we’ve supported courses like Annette Nierobisz’ Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice course at Carleton College with fantastic outcomes. For example, students created a new article, reproductive health care for incarcerated women in the United States, sharing information with the public about the lack of reproductive health care available to incarcerated women. We’re looking forward to bringing more criminal justice courses into the Classroom Program, as students can identify topics relevant to citizens’ daily lives and provide reliable, accessible, verifiable information.

Later in the month, Outreach Manager Samantha Weald attended the American Society of Environmental History conference in Chicago, speaking to potential program participants about the power of disseminating information about environmental science to the general public. Students in Julian Fulton’s course at California State University, Sacramento, for example, wrote the article about mercury contamination in California waterways, bringing their classroom studies to Wikipedia. Now readers can learn more about this topic that was previously missing.

In the last week of March, Research Fellow Zach McDowell and I attended the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Commons Conference in Savannah to present preliminary results from our fall 2016 research project to evaluate student learning outcomes during a Wikipedia assignment. Conference attendees came to learn about teaching with technology, learning theories and pedagogy, assessment, and new projects to achieve their learning goals with students.

A student at ACS reads Wiki Ed’s guide to editing Wikipedia.

Finally, earlier this month, Samantha and I were at the American Chemical Society’s spring meeting here in San Francisco. Last year, we started a partnership with ACS to target chemistry articles in our effort to bring accurate and accessible science to the general public. We have supported 34 chemistry courses with more than 700 students, and they’ve already added 674,000 words to Wikipedia. One undergraduate student we met, who wrote a Wikipedia article in her course, said she “loved it and thought it was fun and exciting.” We’re inspired by the work students have done and their motivation to make public knowledge available, and we’re poised to support even more students after this week’s conference.

If you’d like to join our initiative to teach with Wikipedia or partner with Wiki Ed, please email us at contact@wikiedu.org.

by Jami Mathewson at April 27, 2017 04:37 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#OCLC, #VIAF and #WorldCat - I love them and, they could be even better for me

Jimmy Wales is doing his thing for proper news and it is welcome news. When it pans out it will work but people have to read what WikiTribune will bring. As always it takes education and access to information. Libraries have always been the bedrock of available information to people and the OCLC is what connect the worlds libraries. So it is important for it to be as good as it can be when it is to bring more people to libraries and read.

The OCLC brings two programs that are important to me as a person and as a Wikimedian. They are VIAF and WorldCat. VIAF is the "Virtual International Authority File"; it is a system that brings together the information the world's libraries have in their system and aims to connect them. VIAF is largely maintained by software but there are processes to fix issues that do occur. Wikidata is connected to VIAF because it is the link to information about authors that exists in Wikipedia and Wikisource in many languages. There are bots that do find VIAF identifiers thanks to identifiers known at Wikidata and once a month Wikidata identifiers are updated in the VIAF registry. Using VIAF on its own, you will find for instance a Uilyam Şekspir.

WorldCat is where it becomes interesting to readers. For me its information is available in Dutch. Echoing a blogpost on the OCLC blog we can bring more joy to the library's website and for people who come to the library world from a Wikipedia there are opportunities. I have a profile at WorldCat; it knows my library because I entered it as one of my favourites. WorldCat assumes that it knows my location and suggest a library that is not near to me and that is not useful. So picking up on the cookie information it does not need to know my location and allow for an easy link to my library. This will help me. What WorldCat could do is ask people if the suggested library is indeed their library.

The blogpost mentioned earlier talks about web analytics. I would absolutely love to know how many Wikipedia readers get to VIAF or WorldCat. It would be wonderful to know if we get readers connected to their libraries. When we do, the effect of improvements will show and that will motivate Wikimedians even more to get people their facts, and have us share in the sum of all knowledge.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 27, 2017 08:18 AM

#Wikimedia - First a #strategy, then #Action

The people at Open Library have books they love to share. They are in the process of opening what they have even more.

In a previous post it was mentioned that there is a JSON document to getting information on authors like Cicero. There are many works by Cicero and today they have a JSON document in production for the books as well.

So what possible scenario is there for the readers of any Wikipedia; they check in Open Library what books there are for Cicero (or any other authors). They download a book and read it.

Where we are:
  • there is an API informing about authors and their books at Open Library based on the Open Library identifier.
  • an app can now be build that shows this information
    • this app could use identifiers of other "Sources" like Wikidata, VIAF or whatever on the assumption that Wikidata links these "Sources".
    • this app could show information based on Wikidata statements in any language using Wikidata labels.
    • this app may download the book (maybe not yet but certainly in the future)

What next:
  • investigate the JSON and see what we already can do with it
    • publish the results and iterate
  • Add more identifiers of authors known to Open Library to Wikidata
    • there are many OL identifiers in the Freebase information; they need to be extracted and a combined list of Wikidata identifiers and OL identifiers allows OL to curate it for redirects and we can then publish.
  • Raffaele Messuti pointed to existing functionality that retrieves an author ID for Wikidata and VIAF using an ISBN number.
    • Open Library knows about ISBN numbers for its books. When it runs the functionality for all the authors where it does not have a VIAF identifier it can enrich its database and share the information with Wikidata.
    • Alternatively someone does this based on exposed information at Open Library.. :)
  • We add a link to Open Library in the {{authority control}} in Wikipedia
  • We could add information for nearby libraries like they do in Worldcat [1].
  • We can measure how popular it is; how many people we refer to Open Library or to their library.
At the Wikimedia Foundation we aim to share in the sum of all knowledge. We aim to enable people acquire information. Making this happen for people at Wikipedia, Open Library and their library is part of this mission we just have to be bold and make it so.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 27, 2017 07:22 AM