New names for everyone!

00:14, Friday, 21 2020 February UTC

The Cloud Services team is in the process of updating and standardizing the use of DNS names throughout Cloud VPS projects and infrastructure, including the Toolforge project. A lot of this has to do with reducing our reliance on the badly-overloaded term 'Labs' in favor of the 'Cloud' naming scheme. The whole story can be found on this Wikitech proposal page. These changes will be trickling out over the coming weeks or months, but one change you might notice already.

New private domain for VPS instances

For several years virtual machines have been created with two internal DNS entries: <hostname>.eqiad.wmflabs and <hostname>.<project>.eqiad.wmflabs. As of today, hosts can also be found in a third place: <hostname>.<project> There's no current timeline to phase out the old names, but the new names are now the preferred/official internal names. Reverse DNS lookups on a instance's IP address will return the new name, and many other internal cloud services (for example Puppet) will start using the new names for newly-created VMs.

Eventually the non-standard .wmflabs top level domain will be phased out, so you should start retraining your fingers and updating your .ssh/config today.

If you visit the Students tab of your course page, you may notice that it looks a bit different. As the first phase of our Spring 2020 push to improve the instructor user experience, we’ve rolled out a new version of the Students list that lets you view details about the Article Assignments for any student.

This new view builds on the improvements to the student user experience that we launched before the start of the term, and includes links to the key sandbox pages where students will complete the different phases of their assignment — preparing their bibliography, drafting their articles, reviewing the drafts of their peers, and editing live Wikipedia articles. We’ve built this interface in particular around the task of evaluating student work, and we’ll continue to iterate on it over the next several months to make it easier for instructors to efficiently view and grade their students’ work for each milestone in the Wikipedia assignment.

The Assigned Articles view of the Students tab of the Wiki Education Dashboard, showing links to key sandbox and article pages for each assigned article for a selected student.

We’re eager to get your feedback! If you have ideas for what else could be changed to make the grading process easier, leave a comment on our blog or send an email.

The next phase of this project is to sit down with instructors and see how they make use of the Dashboard for reviewing and grading their students’ Wikipedia work. If you can spare an hour to meet with the Wiki Education technology team to test out these features, discuss your grading process, and help us plan further improvements, please let us know!

Changes to Security Team Workflow

18:18, Thursday, 20 2020 February UTC

In an effort to create a repeatable, streamlined process for consumption of security services the Security Team has been working on changes and improvements to our workflows. Much of this effort is an attempt to consolidate work intake for our team in order to more effectively communicate status, priority and scheduling. This is step 1 and we expect future changes as our tooling, capabilities and processes mature.

How to collaborate with the Security Team

The Security Team works in an iterative manner to build new and mature existing security services as we face new threats and identify new risks. For a list of currently deployed services available in this iteration please review our services page.

The initial point of contact for the majority of our services is now a consistent Request For Services [2] (RFS) form [3].

The two workflow exceptions to RFS are the Privacy Engineering [4] service and Security Readiness Review [5] process which already had established methods that are working well.

If the RFS forms are confusing or don't lead you to answers you need try to get assistance with finding the right service, process, or person will continue to be our primarily external reporting channel

Coming changes in Phabricator

We will be disabling the workboard on the Privacy [6] project. This workboard is not actively or consistently cultivated and often confuses those who interact with it. Privacy is a legitimate tag to be used in many cases, but the resourced privacy contingent within WMF will be using the Privacy engineering [7] component.

We will be disabling the workboard for the Security [8] project. Like the Privacy project this workboard is not actively or consistently cultivated and is confusing. Tasks which are actively resourced should have an associated group [9] tag such as Security Team [10].

The Security project will be broken up into subprojects with meaningful names that indicate user relation to the Security landscape. This is in service to Security no longer serving double duty as an ACL and a group project. This closes long standing debt and mirrors work done in T90491 for Operations to improve transparency. This means an ACL*Security-Issues project will be created and Security will still be available to link cross cutting issues, but will also allow equal footing for membership for all Phabricator users.

Other Changes

A quick callout to the consistency [11] and Gerrit sections of our team handbook [12]. As a team we have agreed that all changesets we interact on need a linked task with the Security-Team tag.

security@ will soon be managed as a Google group collaborative inbox [13] as outlined in T243446, This will allow for an improved workflow and consistency in interactions with inquiries.


[1] Security Services
[2] RFS docs
[3] RFS form
[4] Privacy Engineering form
[5] Readiness Review SOP
[6] Phab Privacy tag
[7] Privacy Engineering Project
[8] Security Tag
[9] Phab Project types
[10] Security Team tag
[11] Security Team Handbook
[12] Secteam handbook-gerrit
[13] Google collab inbox

Khyati Soneji

Khyati Soneji has been improving the Wiki Education Dashboard for nearly a year now. She joined our open tech project as an Outreachy Intern in 2019 and is now mentoring another intern for a new project. Recently she attended the SWASTHA meetup in Mumbai along with our 2019 Google Summer of Code intern Amit Joki, who has been helping improve the Dashboard for almost two years. The experience further inspired their passion for the open knowledge project we all know and love.

SWASTHA is a new initiative to tackle the lack of authentic healthcare related articles in the regional languages of India,” Amit explained. “It stands for Special Wikipedia Awareness Scheme for The Healthcare Affiliates. Incidentally, the acronym also means ‘health’ in Hindi.”

The initiative was started by Abhishek Suryawanshi, who believes in the importance of accessible knowledge, especially when it comes to healthcare. “The project focuses on delivering high quality and verified health related articles which are region and language based, so people can read the articles in their native language,” Khyati explained.

Amit Joki

“Because there are lots of Indians who don’t speak English,” Amit added, “it’s difficult for them to access free knowledge regarding healthcare because articles online in their regional languages are nearly non-existent.” This problem of access is one that folks in the SWASTHA initiative hope to tackle.

Khyati and Amit have both worked in a tech-capacity behind the scenes of Wikipedia-related projects, but they hadn’t had experience with volunteer editor communities before.

“The meetup was an informal, friendly meeting which introduced us to various Indian Wikipedia communities of editors,” Khyati shared. “I personally was not at all aware of the various native language editors communities.”

“It was a great way to know the people behind the articles,” Amit agreed. “The passion they have is what defines Wikipedia as a movement. They put the face to the movement and that’s always an excellent way to get more people into the fold.”

SWASTHA meet up participants.
Image by Raykannu (CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Both Amit and Khyati were impressed by how many years of experience were represented among these Wikipedians. “Some of their experience was far greater than our ages and that was humbling and overwhelming, in a good sense,” said Amit. Khyati added that “some people have made their family also contribute to Wikipedia and have become a Wikipedian family! It was great to see their passion and enthusiasm to help their people to get free knowledge in their native language.”

Over two days, the 20 or so participants divided themselves into groups and discussed problems faced in their communities that the SWASTHA initiative could help address. Khyati and Amit shared how the Dashboard could be used as part of those solutions. The first step, the group decided, was to translate the 10 health focused Wikipedia articles chosen as part of the initiative into everyone’s native languages.

“As a Dashboard team, we came up with an idea that there should be one instructor and everyone would be assigned a task to translate the articles in their native language,” said Khyati. “And we can easily check the number of contributors, check their progress and how many health articles are available in each language, and a general idea that writing health articles (in any language) should be made part of the curriculum of some top-notch Medical College so that professors can assign articles to students and professors would then verify those articles and we can get authenticated medical articles, which can later be divided into different languages.”

“We had a quick analysis about the challenges we may face,” Amit also explained. “Those included problems ranging from having hardly any canonical source of authentic terminology of the diseases in the regional languages, to finding a way to validate the articles. Because it’s healthcare we are talking about, it becomes our responsibility that what gets published is thoroughly vetted by experts before it ends up in the public domain. After the challenges were discussed, we framed a tentative timeline stretching across a period of 3 months after which we would return to quantify the work that has been done and to further discuss how we should take this forward.”

All in all, Khyati and Amit agreed that the meetup was inspiring and energizing.

“It was such a nice experience seeing the energy and eagerness of people to help others get free access to knowledge,” said Khyati. “I feel lucky to have become part of such a community and am very thankful that I was invited to such a wonderful event. I am hopeful that we will be able to accomplish the task and help people. I’m glad to help in this great initiative by bringing new members into the group and also by contributing.”

“Overall, the whole experience was amazing,” Amit echoed. “I got to board an aeroplane for the first time in my life, thanks to Wikimedia and Wiki Education. The people I met were the nicest set of people I could have met and this only further strengthens my belief that Wikipedia stands for all the good that can be found on the Internet – openness, inclusiveness, accessibility, and caring about knowledge.”

To learn more about the SWASTHA initiative, click here. To read more about our tech mentoring program, check out this blog post.

mwparser on wheels

06:48, Tuesday, 18 2020 February UTC

mwparserfromhell is now fully on wheels. Well...not those wheels - Python wheels!

If you're not familiar with it, mwparserfromhell is a powerful parser for MediaWiki's wikitext syntax with an API that's really convenient for bots to use. It is primarily developed and maintained by Earwig, who originally wrote it for their bot.

Nearly 7 years ago, I implemented opt-in support for using mwparserfromhell in Pywikibot, which is arguably the most used MediaWiki bot framework. About a year later, Merlijn van Deen added it as a formal dependency, so that most Pywikibot users would be installing it...which inadvertently was the start of some of our problems.

mwparserfromhell is written in pure Python with an optional C speedup, and to build that C extension, you need to have the appropriate compiler tools and development headers installed. On most Linux systems that's pretty straightforward, but not exactly for Windows users (especially not for non-technical users, which many Pywikibot users are).

This brings us to Python wheels, which allow for easily distributing built C code without requiring users to have all of the build tools installed. Starting with v0.4.1 (July 2015), Windows users could download wheels from PyPI so they didn't have to compile it themselves. This resolved most of the complaints (along with John Vandenberg's patch to gracefully fallback to the pure Python implementation if building the C extension fails).

In November 2016, I filed a bug asking for Linux wheels, mostly because it would be faster. I thought it would be just as straightforward as Windows, until I looked into it and found PEP 513, which specified that basically, the wheels needed to be built on CentOS 5 to be portable enough to most Linux systems.

With the new Github actions, it's actually pretty straightforward to build these manylinux1 wheels - so a week ago I put together a pull request that did just that. On every push it will build the manylinux1 wheels (to test that we didn't break the manylinux1 compatibility) and then on tag pushes, it will upload those wheels to PyPI for everyone to use.

Yesterday I did the same for macOS because it was so straightforward. Yay.

So, starting with the 0.6.0 release (no date set yet), mwparserfromhell will have pre-built wheels for Windows, macOS and Linux users, giving everyone faster install times. And, nearly everyone will now be able to use the faster C parser without needing to make any changes to their setup.

weeklyOSM 499

14:44, Sunday, 16 2020 February UTC


lead picture

OpenStreetMap mapping activity layer by Kontur 1 | © Kontur, Mapbox | © map data OpenStreetMap contributors


  • Jinal Foflia shared a MapRoulette task to add street names in the regions around Jakarta, as well as a task to add missing sidewalks in Singapore to make the Singapore map more pedestrian-friendly.
  • Mateusz Konieczny suggested using amenity=faculty as he thinks that university faculties often deserve to be mapped separately. Comments in the discussion raise various issues with the naming of constituent parts of universities. (Nabble)
  • The European Water Project continues its efforts to improve the tagging schema for drinking-water related tagging. Stuart from the project started the voting on the proposal for drinking_water:refill=<yes/no> and drinking_water:refill_scheme=<scheme-name/multiple>.
  • Joseph Eisenberg suggested improving the tagging system for micromapping as he thinks that the current tags aren’t quite right for this purpose. (Nabble)
  • The voting for amenity=give_box, an amenity where you can share various types of items freely, has ended with an unclear result as it seems it is ambiguous how ‘abstain’ should be counted.
  • Ilya Zverev reports (ru) (automatic translation) a large amount of editorial work (reverts including deletion of old object versions) has started in Russia. About 600 organised unknowns (probably Rostelecom) have taken data from unauthorised sources. Presumably, in preparation for this year’s census, buildings and addresses were cribbed from unauthorised sources in an organised way.


  • The first meeting of the Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee was held on 12 February. Mikel Maron posted some rough notes on what came out of the meeting.
  • Heather Leson reported on her time spent at FOSDEM 2020, particularly the community and legal sessions. She was pleased to see that Ilya Zverev’s talk on reverse geocoding is available online, as his talk was to a full room.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The OSMF invited people to join the OpenStreetMap diversity mailing list. They also asked for help in translating their blog posts to languages other than English.


  • Nick Whitelegg brought to the notice of the talk mailing list readers the Panorama Mapping Party with TrekView, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to capture panoramas. The event will take place on 2 May 2020 at the English village Ashurst, in Hampshire.
  • Stefan Keller from the HSR University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil invites (de)(automatic translation) you to the 12th Mapathon and Mapping Party to be held on 24 April 2020 in Rapperswil, Switzerland. The invitation is also extended to English-speaking mappers and beginners.
  • FOSS4G-IT 2020, an event dedicated to Free and Open Source Geographic Data and Software, will take place from 18 to 22 February 2020 at the Politecnico di Torino / Turin, Italy.

Humanitarian OSM

  • Warin has the impression that HOT is using the undocumented tag damage= and contacted the HOT mailing list with his observation.
  • EurekAlert, a non-profit news-release distribution platform, features an article about the three finalists of ‘Creating Hope in Conflict’, a challenge supported by the US Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The goal is to help the vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people affected by humanitarian crises.
  • The website reported about the efforts of scientists to develop an AI-based tool that can help find safe routes after a disaster strikes, enabling families to find each other.


  • Jez Nicholson made “OSMUK-in-a-box”, his own toolchain for querying OSM data for the UK from a database, available at GitHub.


  • Andrei Kashcha’s ridgeline map, which we have recently written about, now allows you to set bounds for the map.
  • Hans van der Kwast gave a tutorial on how to resolve hydrological discrepancies in DEMs by using ‘stream burning’. The tutorial uses QGIS combined with stream network data from OSM and SRTM data downloaded from the USGS Earth Explorer.
  • Russ Garret, the creator and maintainer of OpenInfraMap, announced on Twitter that OpenInfraMap now links power infrastructure to Wikipedia and uses images from Wikidata where available. Links have also been added to the UK’s Renewable Energy Planning Database.
  • Plamen Pasliev made a prototype available which scrapes listings from one of the largest German real estate portals. It uses Google services to geolocate the listings and nearby amenities and provides results on an OSM-based map.


  • Chris Beddow, from Mapillary, blogged about the possibilities of working with Mapillary data in Jupyter Notebooks.The hands-on guide explains how to access the Mapillary APIs and work with images, image sequences, and (if you’ve paid the subscription for map data) with features such as traffic signs, crosswalks, utility poles and pavement markings.

Did you know …

  • …. the OpenStreetMap mapping activity layer from Kontur, which shows how actively every place in the world is mapped and which mapper is most active there?
  • … that OpenMapTiles supports more than 50 languages? The names are taken from OpenStreetMap and enhanced by adding data from Wikidata.
  • … that OSM is used on the website, which shows where the corona virus has been found.

Other “geo” things

  • Several media outlets such as the Indian Hindustan Times and the German Der Spiegel (de) (automatic translation) featured the 15th birthday of Google Maps in articles describing the service and its history. Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President at Google Maps, also recaps the development from Google’s perspective in her blog.
  • A map of South-east England with places names spelt phonetically in Polish was recently tweeted. It is presumed that the map was created to assist the many Polish pilots in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
  • Morgan Herlocker, of SharedStreets, and formerly of Mapbox, uses the example of the recent artistic exploitation of Google’s real-time traffic algorithm (as we reported), to explain some of the issues involved in turning traffic sensor data into something usable by road users.
  • A detailed Twitter thread on cycleway provision in the British city of Leicester, provides a good introduction to a lot of detailed terminology which might be of interest to dedicated micro-mappers.
  • A new minimum distance of 1.5 m will soon apply in Germany when overtaking cyclists. This distance calculator can be used to estimate how close an overtaking vehicle was in a bicycle camera shot.
  • To some graffiti is a cultural asset and an important aspect of a city’s aesthetics; to others it’s vandalism. A team from Heidelberg University’s GIScience Research Group have developed a deep learning approach to detect building facades with graffiti artwork based on the automatic interpretation of images from Google Street View.
  • Barrington-Leigh and Millard-Ball’s paper on urban sprawl (which we covered earlier) received more coverage, this time in an article on CityLab. The article points to the authors’ sprawl map and provides us with the fact that there are 10,845,867 dead ends mapped in OSM.
  • bikeradar reviewed the OS Trail 2 Bike GPS and found it a frustratingly flawed device that doesn’t merit its £400 price tag and provides little incentive for choosing it over a Garmin. Of particular interest was the finding that: ‘[d]evices that use OpenStreetMap provide much greater detail and include details such as mountain bike tracks. OS map data doesn’t have this level of granular information, rendering it fairly incompatible with your average trail centre rider.’

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2020 2020-02-15-2020-02-16 germany
Mainz Mainzer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-17 germany
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2020-02-18 germany
Derby Derby pub meetup 2020-02-18 united kingdom
Cologne Bonn Airport 126. Bonner OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-18 germany
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2020-02-18 germany
Turin FOSS4G-it/OSMit 2020 2020-02-18-2020-02-22 italy
Ulmer Alb Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2020-02-20 germany
Rennes Atelier découverte 2020-02-23 france
Takasago Takasago Open Datathon 2020-02-24 japan
Singen Stammtisch Bodensee 2020-02-26 germany
Düsseldorf Düsseldorfer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-26 germany
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2020-02-27 germany
Brno Únorový brněnský Missing maps mapathon na Geografickém ústavu 2020-02-27 czech republic
Toulouse Contrib’atelier OpenStreetMap 2020-02-29 france
Budapest Budapest gathering 2020-03-02 hungary
London Missing Maps London 2020-03-03 united kingdom
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2020-03-04 germany
Praha/Brno/Ostrava Kvartální pivo 2020-03-04 czech republic
Dortmund Mappertreffen 2020-03-06 germany
Riga State of the Map Baltics 2020-03-06 latvia
Amagasaki GPSで絵を描いてみようじゃあ~りませんか 2020-03-07 japan
Freiburg FOSSGIS-Konferenz 2020-03-11-2020-03-14 germany
Chemnitz Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2020-03-14-2020-03-15 germany
Valcea EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-04-27-2020-05-01 romania
Guarda EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-06-24-2020-06-28 spain
Cape Town HOT Summit 2020-07-01-2020-07-02 south africa
Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

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 Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred.

An article in VICE starts as follows: 'Wikipedia consensus is that an unedited machine translation, left as a Wikipedia article, is worse than nothing'. This article is problematic in so many ways, it starts with this premise because the Cebuano Wikipedia does not contain machine translation. It contains machine generated text and, to add insult to injury this same article states: 'the majority (generated articles) are surprisingly well constructed'.

An article like this can be sanity checked. Principles come first;
  • This is about a Wiki in contrast to the Nupedia approach. 
  • Wikipedia’s founding goal is to make knowledge freely available online in as many languages as possible.
  • There is a difference between opinions and facts
It is important how arguments are made. When "highly trusted users who specialize in combating vandalism" are introduced and comment that "many articles are created by bots", it does not follow that the quality is low nor that this is to be considered vandalism but the implication is made.

It is a fact that the Cebuano Wikipedia has 5,378,563 articles and also that there are some 16.5 million people who understand Cebuano. There is however no relation between these two facts. More relevant is that the wife of Sverker Johansson has Cebuano as her mother tongue and his two kids learn from their maternal cultural heritage also thanks to the work he does for the Cebuano Wikipedia. That is very much a classic Wiki approach.

In contrast the English Wikipedia has its bot policy preventing the use of bots for generating content. These notions should be local to the English Wikipedia and need not have relevance elsewhere. These highly trusted users can be expected to proselyte this point of view and thanks to this POV they take away a source of information without offering any credible alternative for the existing lack of information available to the rest of the world. At the same time the English Wikipedia is biased in the information it provides and does not provide the same quality of service for the domains selected for the Cebuano Wikipedia.

Sadly the Wikimedia Foundation itself makes no effective difference in support of the "other" languages it is said. An alternative to the LSJbot was introduced and it may be able to make a difference but as it does not provide a public facing service making it very much a paper tiger. Even worse are the Nupedia notions in the combination of two things: "Due to its heavy reliance on Wikidata entries, the quality of content produced is heavily influenced by the quality of the Wikidata available." and "It can discredit other Wikipedia entries related to automatic creation of content or even the Wikipedia quality.” These notions are problematic for several reasons.
  • No information is preferred over little information when our service to an end user is considered
  • Quality of information is framed in the light of existing Wikipedia entries. Whose Wikipedia entries are we considering? They are however irrelevant as our aim is to inform our end users; they do not cover the same subject.
  • When the quality is considered of Wikidata .. Why, it is a wiki and its quality is improving particularly as so many eyes shine their light on it.
  • We can inform, in any and all languages, and we do not even have to call it Wikipedia, we do not even have to save it in a Wikipedia when we only cache the results from the automated text generation.
  • When we cache results of automated text generation, texts can be generated again when the data is expanded or changed.
So far the critique of the VICE article, but then again does English not have its own problems?
  • Its 1,143 administrators and 137,368 active users are struggling to keep up, when you compare it with the 6 administrators and 14 active users for the Cebuano Wikipedia it is understandable that, as they grow, the English have to rely more and more on bots and artificial intelligence.
  • Magnus has demonstrated that the maintenance of lists is better served not by editors but by using the data from Wikidata
  • The Wikipedia technology has a problem with false friends. Arguably some 4% of list entries are wrong because the wrong article is linked to. When links are solidified by using Wikidata identifiers instead, this problem disappears in the same way as the problems with interwiki links disappeared.
The biggest problem "Wikipedia consensus" has is that it was formulated in the past by a tiny in-crowd making up the "accepted" big words for the rest of us and worse they can not be swayed from their POV by facts.

Wikidata at the Art Institute of Chicago

21:26, Thursday, 13 2020 February UTC

As a museum-goer, do you ever think about how art museums keep track of their collections? What do they know about the artists that made the art? What do they know about their collection as a whole? How can a museum answer questions about the gender breakdown of the artists in the collections? How can they track popularity of paintings, equity of artists represented, and other details about their thousands of items? One answer to this is Wikidata!

When museums contribute to one of the world’s largest linked data repositories, we can all learn more about their collection. Linked data allows for powerful queries to reveal insights about artist gender breakdown, materials used, exhibition information, and provenance of works. By having this data on hand, museums can provide a fuller picture of their works and strive for better representation within their collection.

Two members of the Experience Design department from the Art Institute of Chicago—Josh Andrews, Website Product Manager, and Illya Moskvin, Web Developer—attended my Wikidata courses. In these courses we cover a broad curriculum tailored to linked data beginners and those familiar with linked data concepts. These two in particular had specific goals in mind regarding the Art Institute’s collection data. We were able to dive into conversations about representing artists, their works, and so much more data that could be associated with them.

In December 2019, I was able to visit the Experience Design department in person. We had the opportunity to discuss ways to stay engaged on Wikidata and advocate for broader adoption within the institution. We also started to answer the question “what can an art museum learn from Wikidata?” We uncovered a few definite use cases for Wikidata including the following:

  • Collections have incomplete data about their works. Other institutions or editors could help fill in those gaps on Wikidata.
  • Having a persistent URL on Wikidata increases the visibility of items thanks to Google’s (and other search engine’s) emphasis of Wikimedia URLs in search results.
  • Using authority control makes an institution a more definitive source about collection data (if the museum knows the most about a particular work, they would likely have the most detailed data – sharing that on Wikidata would further cement that authority).
  • Institutions gain additional discoverability/linking through identifiers across other databases (Getty, other museums).
  • By having collection data structured across several institutions, the ability to query across collections becomes possible.
  • Queries can answer any number of questions posed by patrons, artists, publishers, researchers, board members, or colleagues from other institutions.
Wikidata Program participants Josh Andrews and Illya Moskvin with Wikidata Program Manager Will Kent. Nikhil Trivedi also pictured.

Some museums and other institutions have found ways to fund a Wikimedian-in-Residence, which is a way to ensure collection data is well represented on Wikidata and other Wikimedia projects (like Wikipedia). This can be a dedicated position whose responsibilities are established by the organization with the aim of sharing institutional data on Wikimedia projects. We realize that not every organization can support a position like this, but there are other options as well. Making an argument on a departmental-level or even an institutional level for the usefulness of engaging on Wikidata may open staff time to work on these kinds of projects.

It is always exciting to meet course participants in person and see the impact a course like this can have. It is especially exciting to meet them when there is so much enthusiasm, curiosity, and dedication to improving access around knowledge about a collection. Keep an eye on the Art Institute and its collection as more of it continues to appear on Wikidata.

Registration for our upcoming Wikidata courses is open! New to linked data? Join the open data movement in our beginner’s course. Have more experience with linked data or Wikidata? Sign up for our intermediate course that focuses on possible applications. Or visit for more information.

Want to hear from participants about what courses are like and how they’re using their new skills? Check out these testimonials.

Paul Carroll, Director, Institutional Funding.

I’m pleased to announce that Paul Carroll has joined the Wiki Education team as Director, Institutional Funding. In his new role, he works most closely with me in establishing new funding opportunities and maintaining relationships with our institutional funders. Paul also collaborates with Wiki Education’s program staff to ensure that current and future programs are sufficiently resourced.

Having spent his professional career at the nexus of philanthropy, government, and nonprofits, Paul is a great fit for establishing and cultivating Wiki Education’s relationships with institutional donors; managing day-to-day fundraising activities; and ensuring that all of us here at Wiki Education deliver on our giving agreements. For much of the past twenty years, Paul has worked as a grantmaker with the Ploughshares Fund, a public foundation that addresses international security. Paul served as the program director with responsibilities for a roughly $6 million annual grantmaking budget. He has also served on the steering committee of the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG), an international network of foundations and individual donors interested in a broad range of peace, human security, and development issues. Paul has lived on both sides of the fundraising/grantmaking table – experience that adds to his understanding of and appreciation for the craft of development, communications, and partnership-building.

A self-described policy wonk, dad, husband, avid cyclist, community organizer, concerned citizen, and team player – Paul has been to North Korea twice, earned a pilot’s license in high school, and completed two cross country bike trips. Paul is very much looking forward to helping us here at Wiki Education to increase our impact and reach. We’re excited to have him on the team. Welcome, Paul!

Yorkshire Editathon championing women in STEM

12:52, Wednesday, 12 2020 February UTC
Presentation at the University of York Editathon on Women in STEM.

By Katie Crampton, Wikimedia UK Communications & Governance Assistant

We kicked off February in collaboration with University of York with another editathon to help close the gender gap on Wikipedia. Focused on Yorkshire women in STEM, the editathon aimed to highlight the diverse set of role models women have in the field. And with women’s uptake in careers in STEM at a dismal 22% in the UK, the importance of championing these voices is more important than ever.

With businesses in STEM building much of the world we interact with on a daily basis, the lack of women represented in these industries has long been a concern for those aiming to change its landscape. Without a solid foundation of biographies for women to take inspiration from, Wikipedia is one of the many areas that has fallen short in this regard, with only 18% of its biographies on women. Wikimedia UK and the global movement have been tackling the issue for a number of years, and we were delighted to partner with the University of York for this latest event.

The editathon aimed to expand digital editing skills through creating and editing Wikipedia pages. The first step was drawing together a list of entries to be added to or created, so a University wide call went out for names of notable Yorkshire Women in STEM. These included the likes of amateur field botanist Catherine Muriel ‘Kit’ Rob, whose story was included by the Borthwick Institute for Archives in a long list of other lost voices vital in a time when women had only just started entering STEM.

Dr Helen Niblock, Research Development Manager in Physical Science at the University of York, thanked Namrata Ganneri “for organising the editathon, it really brought people together for positive change. Thanks to Nigel [Wikimedia Trainer] for talking us through Wikipedia editing, it’s not as scary or complicated as I thought! I’ve now got the knowledge and confidence to go away and add more women scientists to Wikipedia.”

Some of the articles that were improved included Hilary Lappin Scott’s page, which now comprehensively outlines Scott’s career in microbiology with her “field of research in microbial biofilms. In 2009 Hilary was elected as the second female President of the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) in 70 years and served in this role until 2012. In September 2019 she was elected as President of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS), being the first President from the UK.”

Other articles improved included Edith Pechey’s page, and the York physicist Professor Sarah Thomposon, with some work started on Professor Jane Hill’s page. With participants expressing interest in creating pages that there wasn’t time for in the event, like one for Catherine Muriel Kit Rob, a famous Yorkshire amateur botanists, we hope the skills built in the editathon will go on to have a lasting impact.

If you’d like to know more about our events, you can visit our events page, or for more activities around the gender gap on Wikipedia and its sister projects, have a look through this blog tag.

Catering to diverse GLAM needs to improve Wikidata

19:26, Tuesday, 11 2020 February UTC

The Wikidata courses that wrapped up in December made for our largest group of new Wikidata trainees so far. After six quick weeks, we covered a lot of ground — from property proposals to taxonomic grouping of Wikidata’s Q-items (What does this mean? Take a look at this tool to see how groups of people, concepts, and things are organized — this example uses all occupations that fall under “artist”).

These courses had a healthy mix of participants with linked data experience and some without as much. Nevertheless, conversations gravitated toward some of the most specific details of Wikidata — property usage, data consistency, how to learn about using tools, and specific query requests. Catering to the diverse needs of libraries, museums, and the other nonprofits represented in the bunch presented a fun challenge for our discussions. Our training staff tried to balance examples that satisfied a large number of workflows and scenarios. By the end of the course we had covered a lot of ground including identifiers, propose properties, interacting with other Wikidata editors, and pulling specific data sets from Wikidata through queries.

So what did these two courses accomplish?

  • This round of our beginner course had 18 editors who made a total of 579 revisions to Wikidata. Specifically, they created 282 claims, changed 159, and removed 40. They created 15 new items and added 14 labels. They also updated 44 descriptions of items and edited 22 aliases. They edited 101 total items. (Click here to see the stats on their Dashboard). This kind of interaction with Wikidata indicates how committed these participants were to lending their expertise to contributing as much as they could. We’re pleased that this course had an emphasis on court cases – see, for example, the new item for Simmons VS South Carolina. As with Wikipedia there are several content gaps within Wikidata and law-related items are one of them. We’re always thrilled when our course participants can work to address those gaps.
  • This round of our intermediate course included eleven editors, who made a total of 834 revisions, totaling 484 new claims, 160 updated claims, and 27 claims removed from Wikidata items. (Click here to see the stats on their Dashboard). They created ten new items and updated 69 labels. They edited twelve descriptions and added 17 aliases. They edited a total of 178 distinct items. As an intermediate course, several of these course participants had some ideas for projects that would involve integrating Wikidata into their workflows at their respective institutions, which has made for some excellent and inspiring conversation. These data roundtripping conversations revolved around these project ideas, answering questions about Wikidata specifics. We’re pleased to add that every participant in this group was able to contribute to Wikidata.

As we transition from one year to another, we’re excited for what comes next with Wikidata and our program. At this time last year, our training courses and resources were just a glimmer in our organizational eye. Now here we are, five courses in, and participants have edited or added almost 8,000 statements to Wikidata. We’re proud of this and eager for what comes next.

Registration for our upcoming Wikidata courses is open! New to linked data? Join the open data movement in our beginner’s course. Have more experience with linked data or Wikidata? Sign up for our intermediate course that focuses on possible applications. Or visit for more information.

Want to hear from participants about what courses are like and how they’re using their new skills? Check out these testimonials.

Thumbnail image includes graphic by Creative Stall, PK via Noun Project.

A buggy history

08:30, Tuesday, 11 2020 February UTC
—I suppose you are an entomologist?—I said with a note of interrogation.
—Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name! A society may call itself an Entomological Society, but the man who arrogates such a broad title as that to himself, in the present state of science, is a pretender, sir, a dilettante, an impostor! No man can be truly called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.
The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1872) by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. 
A collection of biographies
with surprising gaps (ex. A.D. Imms)
The history of Indian interest in insects has been approached by many writers and there are several bits and pieces available in journals and various insights distributed across books. There are numerous ways of looking at how people viewed insects over time. One of these is a collection of biographies, some of which includes uncited verbatim (and not even within quotation marks) accounts  from obituaries. This collation by B.R. Subba Rao who also provides a few historical supporting material to thread together the biographies. Keeping Indian expectations in view, bot Subba Rao and the agricultural entomologist M.A. Husain play to the crowd in their versions. Husain wrote in pre-Independence times where there was a need for Indians to assert themselves in their conflict with colonial masters. They begin with mentions of insects in ancient Indian texts and as can be expected there are mentions of honey, shellac, bees, ants, and a few nuisance insects. Husain takes the fact that the term Satpada षट्पद or six-legs existed in the 1st century Amarakosa to make the claim that Indians were far ahead of time because Latreille's Hexapoda, the supposed analogy, was proposed only in 1825. Such one-up-manship misses the fact that science is not just about terms but  also about structures and one can only assume that they failed to find the development of such structured ideas in the ancient texts that they examined. The identification of species in old texts also leave one wondering about the accuracy of translations. For instance K.N. Dave translates a verse from the Atharva-veda and suggests an early date for knowledge of shellac. This interpretation looks dubious and sure enough, Dave has been critiqued by an entomologist, Mahdihassan. One organism named in the texts as the indragopa (Indra's cowherd) is supposedly something that appears after the rains. Sanskrit scholars have remarkably enough, identified it with a confidence that no coccidologist ever had as the cochineal insect (the species Dactylopius coccus is South American!), while still others identify it as a lac insect, a firefly(!) and as Trombidium (red velvet mites) - the last matches the blood red colour mentioned in a text attributed to Susrutha. To be fair, ambiguities resulting from translation are not limited to those that deal with Indian writing. Dikairon (Δικαιρον), supposedly a highly-valued and potent poison from India was mentioned in the work Indika by Ctesias 398 - 397 BC. One writer said it was the droppings of a bird. Valentine Ball thought it was derived from a scarab beetle. Jeffrey Lockwood claimed that it came from the rove beetles Paederus sp. And finally a Spanish scholar states that all this was a misunderstanding and that Dikairon was not a poison, and believe it or not - was a masticated mix of betel leaves, arecanut, and lime! One gets a far more reliable idea of ancient knowledge and traditions from practitioners, forest dwellers, the traditional honey-harvesting tribes, and similar people that have been gathering materials such as shellac and beeswax. Unfortunately, many of these traditions and their practitioners are threatened by modern laws, economics, and cultural prejudice. These practitioners are being driven out of the forests where they live, and their knowledge was hardly ever captured in writing. The writers of the ancient Sanskrit texts were probably associated with temple-towns and other semi-urban clusters and it seems like the knowledge of forest dwellers was never considered merit-worthy.

A more meaningful overview of entomology may be gained by reading and synthesizing a large number of historical bits, and of which there are a growing number. The 1973 book published by the Annual Reviews Inc. should be of some interest. I have appended a selection of sources that I have found useful in adding bits and pieces to form a historic view of entomology in India. It helps however to have a broader skeleton on which to attach these bits and minutiae. Here, there area also truly verbose and terminology-filled systems developed by historians of science (for example, see ANT). I prefer an approach that is free of a jargon overload and like to look at entomology and its growth along three lines of action - cataloguing with the main product being collection of artefacts and the assignment of names, communication and vocabulary-building are social actions involving groups of interested people who work together with the products being scholarly societies and journals, and pattern-finding where hypotheses are made, and predictions tested. I like to think that anyone learning entomology also goes through these activities, often in this sequence. With professionalization there appears to be a need for people to step faster and faster into the pattern-finding way which also means that less time is spent on the other two streams of activity. The fast stepping often is achieved by having comprehensive texts, keys, identification guides and manuals. The skills involved in the production of those works - ways to prepare specimens, observe, illustrate, or describe are often not captured by the books themselves.


The cataloguing phase of knowledge gathering, especially of the (larger and more conspicuous) insect species of India grew rapidly thanks to the craze for natural history cabinets of the wealthy (made socially meritorious by the idea that appreciating the works of the Creator was as good as attending church)  in Britain and Europe and their ability to tap into networks of collectors working within the colonial enterprise. The cataloguing phase can be divided into the non-scientific cabinet-of-curiosity style especially followed before Darwin and the more scientific forms. The idea that insects could be preserved by drying and kept for reference by pinning, [See Barnard 2018] the system of binomial names, the idea of designating type specimens that could be inspected by anyone describing new species, the system of priority in assigning names were some of the innovations and cultural rules created to aid cataloguing. These rules were enforced by scholarly societies, their members (which would later lead to such things as codes of nomenclature suggested by rule makers like Strickland, now dealt with by committees that oversee the  ICZN Code) and their journals. It would be wrong to assume that the cataloguing phase is purely historic and no longer needed. It is a phase that is constantly involved in the creation of new knowledge. Labels, catalogues, and referencing whether in science or librarianship are essential for all subsequent work to be discovered and are essential to science based on building on the work of others, climbing the shoulders of giants to see further. Cataloguing was probably what the physicists derided as "stamp-collecting".

Communication and vocabulary building

The other phase involves social activities, the creation of specialist language, groups, and "culture". The methods and tools adopted by specialists also helps in producing associations and the identification of boundaries that could spawn new associations. The formation of groups of people based on interests is something that ethnographers and sociologists have examined in the context of science. Textbooks, taxonomic monographs, and major syntheses also help in building community - they make it possible for new entrants to rapidly move on to joining the earlier formed groups of experts. Whereas some of the early learned societies were spawned by people with wealth and leisure, some of the later societies have had other economic forces in their support.

Like species, interest groups too specialize and split to cover more specific niches, such as those that deal with applied areas such as agriculture, medicine, veterinary science and forensics. There can also be interest in behaviour, and evolution which, though having applications, are often do not find economic support.

Pattern finding
Eleanor Ormerod, an unexpected influence
in the rise of economic entomology in India

The pattern finding phase when reached allows a field to become professional - with paid services offered by practitioners. It is the phase in which science flexes its muscle, specialists gain social status, and are able to make livelihoods out of their interest. Lefroy (1904) cites economic entomology as starting with E.C. Cotes [Cotes' career in entomology was short, after marrying the famous Canadian journalist Sara Duncan in 1889 he too moved to writing] in the Indian Museum in 1888. But he surprisingly does not mention any earlier attempts, and one finds that Edward Balfour, that encyclopaedic-surgeon of Madras collated a list of insect pests in 1887 and drew inspiration from Eleanor Ormerod who hints at the idea of getting government support, noting that it would cost very little given that she herself worked with no remuneration to provide a service for agriculture in England. Her letters were also forwarded to the Secretary of State for India and it is quite possible that Cotes' appointment was a result.

As can be imagined, economics, society, and the way science is supported - royal patronage, family, state, "free markets", crowd-sourcing, or mixes of these - impact the way an individual or a field progresses. Entomology was among the first fields of zoology that managed to gain economic value with the possibility of paid employment. David Lack, who later became an influential ornithologist, was wisely guided by his father to pursue entomology as it was the only field of zoology where jobs existed. Lack however found his apprenticeship (in Germany, 1929!) involving pinning specimens "extremely boring".

Indian reflections on the history of entomology

Kunhikannan died at the rather young age of 47
A rather interesting analysis of Indian science is made by the first native Indian entomologist to work with the official title of "entomologist" in the state of Mysore - K. Kunhikannan. Kunhikannan was deputed to pursue a Ph.D. at Stanford (for some unknown reason many of the pre-Independence Indian entomologists trained in Stanford rather than England - see postscript) through his superior Leslie Coleman. At Stanford, Kunhikannan gave a talk on Science in India. He noted in his 1923 talk :

In the field of natural sciences the Hindus did not make any progress. The classifications of animals and plants are very crude. It seems to me possible that this singular lack of interest in this branch of knowledge was due to the love of animal life. It is difficult for Westerners to realise how deep it is among Indians. The observant traveller will come across people trailing sugar as they walk along streets so that ants may have a supply, and there are priests in certain sects who veil that face while reading sacred books that they may avoid drawing in with their breath and killing any small unwary insects. [Note: Salim Ali expressed a similar view ]
He then examines science sponsored by state institutions, by universities and then by individuals. About the last he writes:
Though I deal with it last it is the first in importance. Under it has to be included all the work done by individuals who are not in Government employment or who being government servants devote their leisure hours to science. A number of missionaries come under this category. They have done considerable work mainly in the natural sciences. There are also medical men who devote their leisure hours to science. The discovery of the transmission of malaria was made not during the course of Government work. These men have not received much encouragement for research or reward for research, but they deserve the highest praise., European officials in other walks of life have made signal contributions to science. The fascinating volumes of E. H. Aitken and Douglas Dewar are the result of observations made in the field of natural history in the course of official duties. Men like these have formed themselves into an association, and a journal is published by the Bombay Natural History Association[sic], in which valuable observations are recorded from time to time. That publication has been running for over a quarter of a century, and its volumes are a mine of interesting information with regard to the natural history of India.
This then is a brief survey of the work done in India. As you will see it is very little, regard being had to the extent of the country and the size of her population. I have tried to explain why Indians' contribution is as yet so little, how education has been defective and how opportunities have been few. Men do not go after scientific research when reward is so little and facilities so few. But there are those who will say that science must be pursued for its own sake. That view is narrow and does not take into account the origin and course of scientific research. Men began to pursue science for the sake of material progress. The Arab alchemists started chemistry in the hope of discovering a method of making gold. So it has been all along and even now in the 20th century the cry is often heard that scientific research is pursued with too little regard for its immediate usefulness to man. The passion for science for its own sake has developed largely as a result of the enormous growth of each of the sciences beyond the grasp of individual minds so that a division between pure and applied science has become necessary. The charge therefore that Indians have failed to pursue science for its own sake is not justified. Science flourishes where the application of its results makes possible the advancement of the individual and the community as a whole. It requires a leisured class free from anxieties of obtaining livelihood or capable of appreciating the value of scientific work. Such a class does not exist in India. The leisured classes in India are not yet educated sufficiently to honour scientific men.
It is interesting that leisure is noted as important for scientific advance. Edward Balfour, mentioned earlier, also made a similar comment that Indians were too close to subsistence to reflect accurately on their environment!  (apparently in The Vydian and the Hakim, what do they know of medicine? (1875) which unfortunately is not available online)

Kunhikannan may be among the few Indian scientists who dabbled in cultural history, and political theorizing. He wrote two rather interesting books The West (1927) and A Civilization at Bay (1931, posthumously published) which defended Indian cultural norms while also suggesting areas for reform. While reading these works one has to remind oneself that he was working under and with Europeans and may not have been able to have many conversations on such topics with Indians. An anonymous writer who penned the memoir of his life in his posthumous work notes that he was reserved and had only a small number of people to talk to outside of his professional work.
Entomologists meeting at Pusa in 1919
Third row: C.C. Ghosh (assistant entomologist), Ram Saran ("field man"), Gupta, P.V. Isaac, Y. Ramachandra Rao, Afzal Husain, Ojha, A. Haq
Second row: M. Zaharuddin, C.S. Misra, D. Naoroji, Harchand Singh, G.R. Dutt (Personal Assistant to the Imperial Entomologist), E.S. David (Entomological Assistant, United Provinces), K. Kunhi Kannan, Ramrao S. Kasergode (Assistant Professor of Entomology, Poona), J.L.Khare (lecturer in entomology, Nagpur), T.N. Jhaveri (assistant entomologist, Bombay), V.G.Deshpande, R. Madhavan Pillai (Entomological Assistant, Travancore), Patel, Ahmad Mujtaba (head fieldman), P.C. Sen
First row: Capt. Froilano de Mello, W Robertson-Brown (agricultural officer, NWFP), S. Higginbotham, C.M. Inglis, C.F.C. Beeson, Dr Lewis Henry Gough (entomologist in Egypt), Bainbrigge Fletcher, Bentley, Senior-White, T.V. Rama Krishna Ayyar, C.M. Hutchinson, Andrews, H.L.Dutt

Enotmologists meeting at Pusa in 1923
Fifth row (standing) Mukerjee, G.D.Ojha, Bashir, Torabaz Khan, D.P. Singh
Fourth row (standing) M.O.T. Iyengar (a malariologist), R.N. Singh, S. Sultan Ahmad, G.D. Misra, Sharma, Ahmad Mujtaba, Mohammad Shaffi
Third row (standing) Rao Sahib Y Rama Chandra Rao, D Naoroji, G.R.Dutt, Rai Bahadur C.S. Misra, SCJ Bennett (bacteriologist, Muktesar), P.V. Isaac, T.M. Timoney, Harchand Singh, S.K.Sen
Second row (seated) Mr M. Afzal Husain, Major RWG Hingston, Dr C F C Beeson, T. Bainbrigge Fletcher, P.B. Richards, J.T. Edwards, Major J.A. Sinton
First row (seated) Rai Sahib PN Das, B B Bose, Ram Saran, R.V. Pillai, M.B. Menon, V.R. Phadke (veterinary college, Bombay)

Note: As usual, these notes are spin-offs from researching and writing Wikipedia entries, in this case on several pioneering Indian entomologists. It is remarkable that even some people in high offices, such as P.V. Isaac, the last Imperial Entomologist, and grandfather of noted writer Arundhati Roy, are largely unknown (except as the near-fictional Pappachi in Roy's God of Small Things)

An index to entomologists who worked in India or described a significant number of species from India - with links to Wikipedia (where possible - the gaps in coverage of entomologists in general are too many)
(woefully incomplete - feel free to let me know of additional candidates)

Carl Linnaeus - Johan Christian Fabricius - Edward Donovan - John Gerard Koenig - John Obadiah Westwood - Frederick William Hope - George Alexander James Rothney - Thomas de Grey Walsingham - Henry John Elwes - Victor Motschulsky - Charles Swinhoe - John William Yerbury - Edward Yerbury Watson - Peter Cameron - Charles George Nurse - H.C. Tytler - Arthur Henry Eyre Mosse - W.H. Evans - Frederic Moore - John Henry Leech - Charles Augustus de Niceville - Thomas Nelson Annandale - R.C. WroughtonT.R.D. Bell - Francis Buchanan-Hamilton - James Wood-Mason - Frederic Charles Fraser  - R.W. Hingston - Auguste Forel - James Davidson - E.H. Aitken -  O.C. Ollenbach - Frank Hannyngton - Martin Ephraim Mosley - Hamilton J. Druce  - Thomas Vincent Campbell - Gilbert Edward James Nixon - Malcolm Cameron - G.F. Hampson - Martin Jacoby - W.F. Kirby - W.L. DistantC.T. Bingham - G.J. Arrow - Claude Morley - Malcolm Burr - Samarendra Maulik - Guy Marshall
Edward Percy Stebbing - T.B. Fletcher - Edward Ernest Green - E.C. Cotes - Harold Maxwell Lefroy - Frank Milburn Howlett - S.R. Christophers - Leslie C. Coleman - T.V. Ramakrishna Ayyar - Yelsetti Ramachandra Rao - Magadi Puttarudriah - Hem Singh Pruthi - Shyam Sunder Lal Pradhan - James Molesworth Gardner - Vakittur Prabhakar Rao - D.N. Raychoudhary - C.F.W. Muesebeck  - Mithan Lal Roonwal - Ennapada S. Narayanan - M.S. Mani - T.N. Ananthakrishnan - Muhammad Afzal Husain

Not included by Rao -   F.H. Gravely - P.V. Isaac - M. Afzal Husain - A.D. Imms - C.F.C. Beeson
 - C. Brooke Worth - Kumar Krishna - M.O.T. Iyengar - K. Kunhikannan

PS: Thanks to Prof C.A. Viraktamath, I became aware of a new book-  Gunathilagaraj, K.; Chitra, N.; Kuttalam, S.; Ramaraju, K. (2018). Dr. T.V. Ramakrishna Ayyar: The Entomologist. Coimbatore: Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. - this suggests that TVRA went to Stanford on the suggestion of Kunhikannan.

    This Month in GLAM: January 2020

    19:32, Monday, 10 2020 February UTC

    Who Has the Keys to Your Online Treasure Chests?

    14:41, Monday, 10 2020 February UTC

    flickr logo

    Flickr is a wonderful, cheap (or free!) way to store and serve images online. When you’ve used a Flickr account for several years, it becomes a rich repository of historic media — a veritable treasure chest.

    I’ve been trying to help a client (who shall remain nameless, to spare their blushes — and to preserve my relationship with them) to recover access to their old corporate Flickr account.

    It’s clearly branded as such, both in the name and logo, and is obviously so from the content.

    It seems the staff member who set it up, and has long since left, did not register it with their corporate email address, but a personal one.

    We’ve emailed them at a publicly-available address, to ask for their assistance, but they haven’t responded — I don’t know whether they left the organisation willingly, nor under what circumstances.

    Flickr support say we can only recover it if we can tell them information only the account holder would know, such as:

    • Describe the contents of any private photos in the account.
    • Provide the names of any of the non-public albums in the account.
    • Provide the name any Private Groups the account is in.
    • List any third-party apps that have been authorized on the account (uploaders, social apps, etc).
    • If you used the FlickrMail system, please describe some of the conversations that you have had in there.
    • If you can recall back to when you had a paid account, please tell me the exact date and amount for some of the charges that you’ve gotten from us.

    Of course, we can’t do that.

    It looks like my client will never get back access to their account, and any non-public media locked in it. Fortunately, there is nothing there that is publicly viewable and embarrassing, though some of it is dated.

    The best Flickr will offer, in the circumstances, is to make the whole account private.

    A salutary lesson to the rest of you, to check who has “ownership” of not just organisations’ Flickr, but social media, cloud storage and similar accounts.

    And do the same for all your domain names, too — in a past job, I found one that had been registered to a staff member’s spouse!

    The post Who Has the Keys to Your Online Treasure Chests? appeared first on Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing.

    weeklyOSM 498

    14:00, Sunday, 09 2020 February UTC


    lead picture

    SolidaryCityMap by openDEM 1 | map data © OpenStreetMap contributors –,,


    • The team behing the Osmose quality assurance tool announced that an in-line help panel with a description of potential errors is now available. The additions also feature a guide on how to fix them, and other useful information.
    • Marc summarised the current tagging situation of camping sites following the approval of tourism=camp_pitch. However, rather than improving the data, he felt that the situation had worsened.
    • OpenStreetMap passed the milestone of its 80 millionth changeset on 23 January.
    • Don’t know what to map? You could help to make the map of Estonia better. A simple tool from user SviMik will help you to do this.
    • Andrew Wiseman, of Apple, has put together a MapRoulette challenge with the idea of adding missing roads associated with Pascal Neis’s unmapped places in various countries. The Unmapped Places Leaderboard may be interesting for internal challenges with students 😉
    • Hauke Stieler started the voting on his proposal of duty_free=*, a tag that should indicate whether a shop offers duty-free shopping.


    • In a tweet the Osmose team pointed to GitHub, where the source code and now the documentation is maintained. The developer also welcomes help with translation.
    • The Russian OSM community has checked that all Russian border crossings are in order. MapRoulette was used as a tool for tasks.
    • Rory McCann, newly elected member of the OSMF board, listed his contributions made in January 2020 to the various areas of OSM, such as mapping, coding and the OSMF board, in a blog post.
    • Valeriy Trubin continues his series of interviews with OSMers. He spoke with Yevgeniy Usvitskiy (ru) (automatic translation) about humanitarian mapping and HOT and with Vladimir Marshinin (mavl) (ru) (automatic translation) about the data working group (DWG) and data licences.
    • User Vascom has started (ru) (automatic translation) to assemble weekly maps for Maps.Me. So far, he has covered all regions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.


    • In early January 2020 the Russian OSM-community completed (ru) (automatic translation) the import of data on Russian theatres, which started in 2017. Now OSM is richer by 693 theatres.

    OpenStreetMap Foundation

    • Christoph Hormann explained his concerns about how the OSMF Board risks codifying the English language and Anglo-American cultural mores as predominant within the OSM community. A long discussion, mainly with members of the board, follows.
    • OpenStreetMap Česká republika z.s.(an organisation supporting OSM in Czechia), has applied to become a Local Chapter of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Joost Schouppe, member of the OSMF board, is asking the community for their opinions on the application.


    • Ilya Zverev gave a talk at the recent FOSDEM about reverse geocoding. He outlined the basics, presented a few unexpected challenges that a geocoder developer might face when working with OpenStreetMap data, and invited people to help improve the reverse geocoder he created.
    • Peter Rushforth, from the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, announced plans to hold a workshop about maps together with the World Wide Web Consortium and the Open Geospatial Consortium and invited interested parties from OSM to participate.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • Missing Maps describes their activities during an anti-malaria campaign in Burundi in an article on their homepage. The country’s health authorities asked Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders for help. Missing Maps traced nearly 90 000 buildings in the region of Ruyigi, as large parts had not been mapped before. The article explains how the mapping activities helped and also the role OsmAnd and KoboToolbox played during the indoor residual spraying campaign.
    • ManonVi elaborated on a proposal for the tag place=refugee_site. He describes why this tag is necessary. The request for comments started on 1 February 2020.


    • Mapillary started the CompleteTheMap challenge for the northern hemisphere to improve its imagery. The top 3 contributors in terms of number of unique kilometres between 14 February and 15 March 2020 will be awarded with prizes.
    • Alexander Chertov created a map (ru) of speed limit cameras installed on Russian roads. He took data about cameras from the highway police website and used OSM as a basemap.
    • Anton Rapesco created a map of all the lights of Moscow. To do this he used open data from the Moscow open data portal.


    • Golden Cheetah, a tool for analysing data from power meters (mostly for bicycle computers), switched to OSM from Google. The new 3.5 release uses OSM data.


    • User unen wrote in his OSM user diary entry that the Turkish parliament voted in favour of the proposed amendment to the National Geographic Information Systems Law. It requires official approval for a lot of mapping activities in Turkey and seems to forbid OSM.


    • OsmApiClient is a C# package to handle the communication between your .Net project and the OSM API. See the GitHub project, or nuget package.
    • User Artem Svetlov wrote (ru) (automatic translation) a script that could be used to generate beautiful maps of urban electric transport routes in any city. That’s why he called on everyone to help tidy up this data in OSM. The script is available on GitHub.


    • MapTiler announced as a service in Japan, in cooperation with local map provider MIERUNE. It provides maps using data from OSM and the Japanese government.
    • The map style of OSM’s main map has been updated to v4.25.0. Joseph Eisenberg detailed the changes in the current OpenStreetMap Carto release in his user diary.
    • JOSM published stable release #15806; they note that ‘with 58 enhancements and 26 bugfixes, this is one of the biggest monthly releases ever made’.
    • The new release of OpenMapTiles comes with rendering support for disputed borders, roads under construction and the Kurdish and Amharic languages.

    Did you know …

    • [1] … the SolidaryCityMap by openDEM, which shows places where you can participate in city life without papers and money? In the forum openDEM explains which OSM tags and other data sources the SolidaryCityMap evaluates and asks for further ideas.
    • … about the “Atlas of risks and threats(ru) of the Russian emergencies Ministry? OSM is used as a basemap.
    • … about a site that collects sounds of various environments from all over the world? It also uses OSM as a basemap.
    • … about the Oontz website, whose owner recorded the sounds of Sergiev Posad (a city in Russia) and placed them on a map based on OSM.
    • … about the Russian app HandyPet (ru) (automatic translation), with which you can try to find a lost pet? The smartphone app uses OSM as a basemap. Unfortunately, the required attribution is not specified properly.

    Other “geo” things

    • Simon Weckert shows you how to easily create a traffic jam on Google Maps. Also reported by Slashgear. 😉
    • GISGeography has a list of its ‘Top 25 satellite maps’ and provides some information for each of them. The term ‘satellite map’ is used very broadly and includes not only a range of classic satellite maps such as Google, Bing, Landsat and others, but also the JavaScript library Leaflet and images produced by the NASA weather satellites NOAA and GEOS.
    • Apple has given its maps of the United States more detail, including buildings. The buildings shown in the linked article do not appear in OSM.
    • Yandex has made (ru) (automatic translation) a map on which you can see a day in the life of the Moscow ground transport system over about a minute.

    Upcoming Events

    Where What When Country
    Dortmund Mappertreffen 2020-02-07 germany
    Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Grenoble Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Taipei OSM x Wikidata #13 2020-02-10 taiwan
    Toronto Toronto Mappy Hour 2020-02-10 canada
    Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2020-02-11 france
    London Move 2020 (featuring OSMUK) 2020-02-11-2020-02-12 united kingdom
    Zurich 114. OSM Meetup Zurich 2020-02-11 switzerland
    Hamburg Hamburger Mappertreffen 2020-02-11 germany
    Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2020-02-12 germany
    Wuppertal OSM-Treffen Wuppertaler Stammtisch im Hutmacher 18 Uhr 2020-02-12 germany
    Nantes Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-13 france
    Berlin 140. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2020-02-14 germany
    Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2020-02-18 germany
    Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2020 2020-02-15-2020-02-16 germany
    Mainz Mainzer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-17 germany
    Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2020-02-18 germany
    Turin FOSS4G-it/OSMit 2020 2020-02-18-2020-02-22 italy
    Derby Derby pub meetup 2020-02-18 united kingdom
    Cologne Bonn Airport 126. Bonner OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-18 germany
    Ulmer Alb Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2020-02-20 germany
    Rennes Atelier découverte 2020-02-23 france
    Takasago Takasago Open Datathon 2020-02-24 japan
    Singen Stammtisch Bodensee 2020-02-26 germany
    Düsseldorf Düsseldorfer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-26 germany
    Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2020-02-27 germany
    Riga State of the Map Baltics 2020-03-06 latvia
    Freiburg FOSSGIS-Konferenz 2020-03-11-2020-03-14 germany
    Chemnitz Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2020-03-14-2020-03-15 germany
    Valcea EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-04-27-2020-05-01 romania
    Guarda EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-06-24-2020-06-28 spain
    Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

    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 Elizabete, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, Silka123, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred, geologist.

    The virtues of Wikipedia have been expressed in millions of words, on many conferences and in many interviews by you, Jimmy and countless others. Nothing wrong with that. Wikipedia has been extremely useful, it has a dedicated following and it is going exactly nowhere new. What it is expected to bring is more of the same old old.

    Wikipedia pundits use their own idiom, have their own values and easily dismiss what does not comply with their notions. Notions not based in actual facts but in opinions.

    Our aim was to share in the sum of all knowledge, what we have is a domineering English Wikipedia expecting everything to be shaped in its image. The result is many malfunctioning sister projects that do not get attention "because what is good for the goose is good for the gander". It is not. I can find a picture of the Vasa, a former flagship but not in Commons (it uses the same technology as Wikipedia). There are many books in Wikisource but we do not know what is completed and we do not market these books to a public. When Wikidata was created its first achievement was taking inter wiki links away from Wikipedia providing a functional platform and removing millions of edits from all Wikipedias. So far functionality that does improve on what Wikipedia has is dismissed while facts show how Wikipedia under performs.

    The question is if Wikimedia as an organisation is beholden to Wikipedia. If its aspirations are more than only that, it has an obligation to the other projects. It is to find a public for what the finished content of Wikisource. It has to find a public for the biggest open content resource of images making it actually easy and obvious to find pictures of for instance the Vasa. Finally there is Wikidata that is crippled by its own success and hampered from what seems to me to be a lack of organisational attention.

    Dear Katherine, I am happy when a technician expresses his plans to mitigate a disaster. He does this within the restrictions he is under. It is however for you, in your capacity as director of the Wikimedia Foundation to express what relevance is given to Wikidata. We have a war chest, we are challenged to take up a new role in the war for factual and balanced information. With only English Wikipedia we have already lost the rest of the world and with English Wikipedia we also have a very biased world view. Never mind, nothing new here.

    My question to you, are you aware that Wikidata has no room for growth? Is that acceptable to the Foundation? How are we going to share the sum of the knowledge that is available to us when our flagship is about to sink while sailing out of the harbor?

    The performance of Wikidata - Denis Karuhize Byarugaba

    20:51, Saturday, 08 2020 February UTC
    Professor Denis Karuhize Byarugaba is one of the Fellows of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences. At Wikidata we know about papers that he wrote, we know this because of the author strings that point to him.

    One of the Scholia tools allows for the disambiguation of these papers by linking to the Wikidata item. It is important that we do because in this way we build on the existence of African scientists on Wikidata.

    That is the theory, the practice is that it is increasingly cumbersome to even try to add papers because Wikidata more often than not informs about Too many requests. When this happens occasionally it is fine but when only 10 percent of the requests is honoured, the tool is effectively dead.

    Wikidata is the most promissing tool of the Wikimedia Foundation and there is as far as I know no path forward. Obviously it affects people in what they do it affects the projects that are not progressing as fast as they could or should. Even when there is a notion of improved performance it is easily missed because of the pent up demand for much more power. Power to query and power to edit the data. We are not sharing in the sum of all knowledge when it is this hard to make it available.

    Why does building a skin require PHP knowledge?

    19:15, Saturday, 08 2020 February UTC

    One of my longstanding pet peeves is that skin development for MediaWiki is so hard. I propose a radical change to how skins are installed and ask for feedback.

    Having watched teenagers use and then and watching Wikimedians build all sorts of things using wikitext templating it's clear that skinning anything should be possible with a mixture of basic knowledge of web technology (HTML,CSS maybe JSON) and/or cargo cult programming. The MediaWiki skin ecosystem is pretty sparse and when skins are created they don't tend to be published for wider consumption or are lost in github repos that are never linked to. Some never even get built. After almost 10 years in this movement it's easy to see why.

    At a recent offsite I got all my team to stand up in a room and asked them to sit down if they felt comfortable with HTML. A few sat down and I told them unfortunately they couldn't build a skin. When I asked them if they felt comfortable editing CSS, a few more sat down and I told them the same thing. Eventually everyone sat down. What was interesting was who sat down and when. The designers sat down at the mention of PHP (while comfortable with CSS and JS) as did many frontend engineers. Meanwhile backend engineers sat down at the mention of PHP.

    Our skin code is pretty complicated. We currently encourage skin development by guiding users to the ExampleSkin. This extension is pretty scary to many developers not already in our ecosystem and many designers who are in it. There is an extreme amount of PHP and knowledge of folder structure and MediaWiki-concepts such as ResourceLoader is needed before someone can even start.

    Currently to create a skin at minimum you must

    • Download and setup MediaWiki
    • Learn git and clone the ExampleSkin repo
    • Understand ResourceLoader
    • Understand our i18n system
    • Understand how skin.json works
    • Edit PHP to generate HTML
    • Edit CSS

    To encourage a healthy skin system we need to lower many of the barriers to implementing a skin. It should be as simple as:

    • Clone a repo
    • Edit some CSS and HTML
    • Run some npm commands

    During the implementation of MobileFrontend and MinervaNeue many changes were made to the skin system to help build the new skin whilst maintain the old skin. It also intentionally made some breaking changes from traditional skin - for example no longer were languages or categories part of the HTML of an article. JavaScript and CSS shipped by all skins was turned off in preference for its own versions. In my opinion this was the skin's right. A good skinning system allows you to create radically different skins and innovate. If our skin system was healthy we'd likely have skins of all sorts of shapes and sizes. A good skin system also makes maintenance easier. Right now because of class inheritance, it's very difficult to make changes to our existing skins or our core skin PHP without worrying about breaking something elsewhere. Similar changes and challenges happened with Timeless that I'm sure Isarra can attest to!

    Exploring different approaches

    I've been lamenting this situation for some time. A while back I created an extension called SimpleSkins that reduced the Minerva skin to 2 files with some ambitious and breaking changes to the PHP skin code that I dreamed of one day upstreaming.

    At a recent hackathon, with this idea still in mind, I took a slightly different approach. Instead of trying to make a skin a folder of several files I thought - what if the skin folder was an output of a build step? Similar to the SimpleSkin approach I again focused on a folder of frontend friendly technologies and reduced Vector to 3 files - Mustache (template), JS (with require support), LESS(css) however the generation of skin.json, PHP was left to a build script. Remarkably this worked and was relatively straightforward. One interesting insight I had this time however was that no skin developer should require a MediaWiki install to build the skin - with templates a lot of data can be stubbed or come from an API endpoint. Not having to install a MediaWiki install is a big deal!

    With a good architecture a lot of our skin system can be abstracted away. A skin without qqq codes is still useful provided en.json has been generated. ResourceLoader module config is much easier to auto-generate now we have packageFiles provided we enforce a common entry point e.g. index.js and index.css/less. The PHP skin class should and can do more. Instead of having skins that extend SkinTemplate e.g. SkinVector we should have a skin rendering class that renders folders that contain skin meta data....

    How we do it.

    Forgetting about existing technology choices and working with what we've got, I'd propose automating most of the skin registration process - to the point that PHP is irrelevant and JS and JSON files are optional.

    I strongly believe the following is possible:

    • An online skin builder that saves and exports skin folders to download folder or github similar to jsfiddle
    • A valid skin is a folder with at minimum 2 files - index.mustache and index.(css/less)
    • You should be able to copy and paste an existing skin and get a new skin without any modification except the folder name.

    To achieve such a goal we would need a SkinRenderer class that locates a skin directory and renders the template inside it (Mustache is currently the template language we support in core). SkinRenderer when passed the skin key skinnew for example would find the folder skinnew in the skins folder and the files index.less, index.js and skin.mustache. It would pass skin.mustache data (which is subject to deprecation policy and well documented and it would register a ResourceLoader module using index.less and index.js and packageFiles. qqq.json and en.json if needed could live in the i18n folder as they currently do but their absence would not cause any problems.

    A developer would fork a new version of the ExampleSkin which provides the basic file components, run npm install and then npm start. This would pull our core frontend technologies - mustache and LESS from npm and then pass the skin through a tool such as parceljs that allows live updating, the workflow of which is demonstrated in this video. However unlike in my hack experiment, installing the skin would be as simple as copying that folder into mediawiki's skin folder rather than running a build step :)

    What do I do next?

    Am I alone in thinking it should be possible to build skins without PHP? Do you have different opinions on what the skin system should be? Do you have concerns about how such a system would scale or whether such a system would get adoption? What do you think of my skin builder tool and should I work on it more? If so I'd love to hear more from you. Any feedback you can provide would be helpful to decide whether I should prepare and push and RFC.

    Thank you for your time!

    Semantic MediaWiki 3.1.4 released

    11:41, Saturday, 08 2020 February UTC

    February 8, 2020

    Semantic MediaWiki 3.1.4 (SMW 3.1.4) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

    It is a release providing bug fixes and brings support for MediaWiki 1.34.x. Please refer to the help pages on installing or upgrading Semantic MediaWiki to get detailed instructions on how to do this.

    Changing Wikipedia for the better

    16:51, Thursday, 06 2020 February UTC

    Katherine Lopez is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine. After completing our recent Wikipedia training course sponsored by the National Science Policy Network, she’s ready to take her new science communication tools into her career.

    Wikipedia is my go-to location for quickly finding an answer to those random questions I have throughout the day. Whether it’s finding the birthdate of a historian, or learning the date of prior impeachments, it’s a place which usually will house the answer. This experience is applicable not only to me, but to many people when doing these quick Google searches, as Wikipedia tends to be among the top results. The summary description at the top of most articles facilitates a quick response while also providing other relevant details.

    However, despite the amount of time spent on it, I never had actually edited an article, nor did I know how to do so. Then I joined the Wikipedia training course offered by Wiki Education and the National Science Policy Foundation, where I took advantage of the opportunity. Initially, I thought becoming an editor was a more rigorous process, as did my colleagues when I explained to them the course I was participating in. More than once, in those moments where an answer to a question was needed in a moment’s notice, I would access an article with caution banners at the top of the page. These banners are available to describe how an article could be improved.  This was a chance to tackle those articles which were flawed, from adding missing citations to updating content with the latest published research. I could now remedy these articles myself, instead of previously waiting on the goodwill of other volunteers to complete these tasks.

    There are many Wikipedia articles available, but only very small number of volunteers who create and curate content. Additionally, many of those individuals may not have access to research articles or may not be able to decipher scientific terminology, which is why having more scientists on Wikipedia benefits the whole community. I focused primarily on neuroscience/ecology articles in which many could be enhanced. In the beginning, even with minor edits, I would revisit the page multiple times to see if I had received feedback from the community or simply if my edit was deleted. None of that happened, but rather I received responses from others making my edits stronger, which was reassuring. During the course, we had weekly meetings, and one of the topics was discussing issues/problems within Wikipedia. One of those problems was how male dominated Wikipedia is, from the articles available to the make-up of editors. Frankly, this hadn’t occurred to me, until I realized one of the articles I was editing about a biology topic (dominance hierarchy) had only a small paragraph about females (out of seventeen sections!) even though it’s a behavior found in both sexes  While posting on the Talk page (a discussion forum found on each Wikipedia page for volunteers to discuss changes), another individual also wanted to take on reworking the page to make the representation of each sex equal. This was a positive experience in that someone else also found this to be an important issue.

    Thanks to this training experience, now there’s at least one more female Wikipedian. Since the course ended, I’ve given my own informal lectures to colleagues on how to edit Wikipedia articles, focusing on genetics articles, as many in this category fall short of “good” articles. Making improvements can be as simple as utilizing the Citation Hunt tool, which is a straightforward way to see text within an article that is missing a citation. With a little guidance, you’ll see that the layout for editing a page is simple to navigate, including how to add sources. And if you don’t know where to start, you can look through the Quality Scale on Wikipedia for articles that need help, or Start/Stub pages. From there you can view all the pages classified under this low-quality category. On the Talk page of an article of interest, you can also view the level of importance and to whom it may be important to. A topic I’m interested in, dominance hierarchy, is of mid-importance for both WikiProjects Animals and Ecology. This is a great way to comprehend where the article stands and can provide an overview of the level of work needed for the page.

    I believe scientists may find it daunting to tackle a Wikipedia article, or at least to even start. However, even minor edits to improve readability of an article benefits us all.

    Interested in taking an introductory Wikipedia training course? Write Wikipedia biographies for women across disciplines and professions (here). Taken a Wikipedia training course already? Work on science policy or voting rights topic in our new advanced course! To see all courses with open registration, visit

    For inquiries about partnering with Wiki Education, contact Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson at or visit

    Based on your course or discipline, completing a Wikipedia writing assignment can achieve so many meaningful outcomes: from helping close the gender gap, to documenting dying species or languages, to researching important new scientific discoveries. There are also plenty of learning objectives and selling points that we see fulfilled over and over again, no matter the course. And no one can talk about all of these positive experiences better than the students themselves. See for yourself!

    It’s great for expanding writing and research skills

    “I cannot stress enough how much I learned from this project,” writes Sienna Stevens about Dr. Rachel Miller’s Baroque Art class at California State University Sacramento. “I truly believe it gave me a chance to push myself, my writing, and my research skills.” Read more…

    Writing for a large audience builds confidence in one’s own voice

    Hilary Wilson told us that writing for Wikipedia inspired confidence and motivation. “I learned to appreciate the pages I look at everyday for fact-checking. To think that random people created every single article out of the kindness of their heart brings me joy.”Read more…

    It’s satisfying to contribute to a resource used worldwide

    Kitty Quintanilla, a medical student at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, shared her personal story for why she’s passionate about increasing access to free information. Read more…

    Derek Smith, a medical student at the UCSF School of Medicine, wrote about counteracting misinformation by making sure Wikipedia’s article about vaccinations represents current scientific research. Read more…

    Understanding how Wikipedia works is a necessary digital literacy learning

    Alliana Drury, an undergraduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, urges educators in higher education to adopt Wikipedia writing assignments after she completed one herself. “Many students including myself were told that Wikipedia has no place in the classroom and that it was not allowed to be used as a source because it was unreliable. I find this argument abhorrent and outdated.” Read more…

    It’s gratifying that all that hard work lives on

    Emilee Helm, a student at the University of Washington, wrote about how much the Wikipedia assignment she completed in Nathan TeBlunthuis’ course affected her. “I could not have imagined I would be so satisfied with my experience. I was able to gain confidence and develop a final product that I am undoubtedly proud of.” Read more…

    And it’s not every day that a student takes the time to officially thank their professor for a great project. But that’s what Madeleine Hardt, Dr. Jennifer Glass’ student at Georgia Institute of Technology, did after learning how to write Wikipedia pages for her Earth sciences course. The thank you came in the form of a certificate of appreciation issued through Georgia Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Read more…

    Plus, it’s fun

    Just ask Kai Medina! He learned how to add content to Wikipedia in a marine biology course last spring and he’s still editing 8 months later, adding content, photos, and field recordings related to his ecology studies at university and abroad. Read more…

    Interested in adapting a Wikipedia writing assignment for your own course? Visit for access to our free assignment templates and tools.

    weeklyOSM 497

    13:03, Sunday, 02 2020 February UTC


    lead picture

    Fernão de Magalhães’ Circumnavigation Voyage commemorate the 500th anniversary on OSM 1 | © CMETOC | © map data OpenStreetMap contributors


    • The European Water Project, a collaboration between Wikimedia Suisse and OpenStreetMap, collects photos of drinking water wells or springs and makes these photos available on Wikimedia Commons and in OpenStreetMap. A wiki page describes how to do it in English, Deutsch, Español, Français, Italiano and Nederlands. On the talk-fr mailing list, Stuart Rapoport from the European Water Project said (automatic translation) that Stefan Keller recommends the tag amenity=drinking_water instead of amenity=fountain and drinking_water=yes. This mail is followed (automatic translation) by a discussion.
    • Cascafico Giovanni is interested in active volcanoes and has created an overpass query to find them and compared the result with infrared data from Sentinel-2. He wonders what the criteria for volcano:status=active are, as most of these volcanoes don’t have an infrared signature.
    • Thibault Molleman questions the existing tagging of fuel types at petrol (gas) stations, as usage numbers don’t reflect the changes made to the EU naming scheme in 2018.
    • The voting for amenity=give_box, an amenity where you can share various types of items freely, has started.


    • Hot on the heels of the upcoming LGBQT+ mapathon in Cebu City, which we reported two weeks ago, Mikko Tamura reports on a similar activity which was recently hosted by the Geography Department of University of the Philippines Dilman. The mapping party, held on 11 January, was organised by MAP-BEKS. Over 600 health-related facilities were identified where more data needs to be collected, and 150 were either added or updated on OSM
    • Board elections are underway for OSM-US. A couple of candidates have written manifestos or position statements on their OSM Diaries: Minh Nguyen, and Daniela Waltersdorfer (DW2515 on OSM). Others are available via the wiki.

    OpenStreetMap Foundation

    • In a blog entry titled ‘Diversity in OpenStreetMap, Seeking your help on ideas for the Foundation’ Mikel Maron reports about the current discussion at the OSMF board on diversity and the idea of forming a Diversity Working Group.


    • OSM and OSGeo/FOSSGIS will be represented in a separate area at the AGIT 2020 (de) (automatic translation), Austria’s largest applied geographic information event. The event, for which volunteers are still being sought (automatic translation), will take place from 8 to 10 July 2020 in Salzburg, Austria.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • HOT is looking for a location for the HOT Summit 2020. The organisation surveyed its followers on Twitter and got in touch with the OSM SotM Working Group.
    • Heidelberg University’s GIScience Research Group blogged about an analysis of the activity in mapping the Rohingya refugee camps, in Bangladesh, by using the potential of the OpenStreetMap History Data API.


    • Downloads from Planet OSM are currently rate limited to 400 kB/s. Grant Slater explained the background to this change and suggested that people make use of a mirror for full speed downloads.
    • Mark Lester presented BuzMap, an interesting map that displays the services, and related data, that run on private railways and FlixBus roads.
    • Training Ship NRP Sagres (automatic translation) began a voyage of circumnavigation to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães‘ Circumnavigation Voyage. The voyage will last about 1 year and the ship will only return to Portugal in January 2021. The Portuguese Navy has created an online map for the public to follow the voyage. Excellent choice of base map!
    • Cartonumerique (fr) (automatic translation) critiqued some of the visualisations of the Coronavirus outbreak, where some representations are at the country level with red colours. Various other visualisations, including CNBC’s Tableau visualisation (data collected by the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, USA), let the viewer better track the Coronavirus spreading around the world, using various sized circles to show intensity – partly at the province or city level.

    Open Data

    • The state of Brandenburg has released several hundred datasets with basic geographic data, free of charge and for any use. Previously the data was available only with restrictive licences and for significant fees.
    • The Open Knowledge Foundation announced their mini-grant scheme for 2020.


    • Daniel Patterson announced Mapbox’s decision to shut down the hosting of and asked on the OSRM-talk mailing list if someone would volunteer to take over the task.
    • Harmut wrote on his blog about an issue he uncovered while implementing an area bounds feature for MapOsmatic.


    • The OsmAnd team updated the Online GPS Tracker to version 0.8. The new version makes location sharing easier, comes with a widget, improves formats and units and fixes some bugs in the Android app.
    • Skunks blogged about the update of OpenStreetBrowser to v4.7, which allows rendering of the offset and width of lines in metres, as provided by the real-world object, as opposed to pixels as found in (almost) all other map renderers to date. As an example he mentions railway gauges.

    Did you know …

    • … FlowingData, a website about the analysis, visualisation and exploration of data, published an article about an online map, which allows the user to create a ridgeline map (also known as frequency trails) showing elevation for every part of the world? The source code for the map, which was provided by Andrei Kashcha, is available at GitHub.
    • … the house number rendering on There are already many European countries included. Two examples: Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland).

    Other “geo” things

    • BusinessMirror featured an article titled ‘Innovation, digital technologies boost cycling culture’, which details the impact of digital data on cycling. The article mentions OSM as source for PeopleForBikes’s Bicycle Network Analysis tool, which tries to use our data and provide an assessment on the quality of the bicycle infrastructure and network.
    • Recently the UN Pulse Lab Jakarta has developed a disaster monitoring WebApp called the MIND/DisasterMon platform. According to the UN Pulse Lab the objective of the MIND/DisasterMon platform is to try to answer questions related to disaster monitoring and emergency response by looking into various sources of data and information from open data platforms and social media. The platform also integrates APIs from Openrouteservice, developed by HeiGIT, to help identify suitable routes for the transportation of aid and resources.
    • Tesla is reported to be planning to use maps from Baidu, the Chinese Google, for the vehicles it will make in China.
    • Rob Matheson describes the use of artificial intelligence in the collection of data for digital maps in an article about a model from MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute. The researchers have trained and tested their model, which is supposed to collect road features such as lanes or parking spots, with OSM data.

    Upcoming Events

    Where What When Country
    Budapest Budapest gathering 2020-02-03 hungary
    Berlin OSM-Verkehrswende #8 2020-02-04 germany
    London Missing Maps London 2020-02-04 united kingdom
    Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2020-02-05 germany
    San José Civic Hack & Map Night 2020-02-06 united states
    Dresden Stammtisch Dresden 2020-02-06 germany
    Montrouge Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-06 france
    Dortmund Mappertreffen 2020-02-07 germany
    Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Grenoble Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Taipei OSM x Wikidata #13 2020-02-10 taiwan
    Toronto Toronto Mappy Hour 2020-02-10 canada
    Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2020-02-11 france
    London Move 2020 (featuring OSMUK) 2020-02-11-2020-02-12 united kingdom
    Zurich 114. OSM Meetup Zurich 2020-02-11 switzerland
    Hamburg Hamburger Mappertreffen 2020-02-11 germany
    Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2020-02-12 germany
    Nantes Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-13 france
    Berlin 140. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2020-02-14 germany
    Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2020-02-18 germany
    Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2020 2020-02-15-2020-02-16 germany
    Mainz Mainzer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-17 germany
    Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2020-02-18 germany
    Turin FOSS4G-it/OSMit 2020 2020-02-18-2020-02-22 italy
    Derby Derby pub meetup 2020-02-18 united kingdom
    Cologne Bonn Airport 126. Bonner OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-18 germany
    Ulmer Alb Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2020-02-20 germany
    Rennes Atelier découverte 2020-02-23 france
    Takasago Takasago Open Datathon 2020-02-24 japan
    Singen Stammtisch Bodensee 2020-02-26 germany
    Düsseldorf Düsseldorfer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-02-26 germany
    Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2020-02-27 germany
    Riga State of the Map Baltics 2020-03-06 latvia
    Freiburg FOSSGIS-Konferenz 2020-03-11-2020-03-14 germany
    Chemnitz Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2020-03-14-2020-03-15 germany
    Valcea EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-04-27-2020-05-01 romania
    Guarda EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-06-24-2020-06-28 spain
    Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

    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 Elizabete, PierZen, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, jk4@.

    Prof Salimata WADE - some thoughts

    20:17, Saturday, 01 2020 February UTC
    This picture of professor Wade implies that she received multiple awards, her dress is particular to members of the National Academy of Sciences and Techniques of Senegal and multiple medals show. I added her to Wikidata but the data is sparse, it is better than what is there for most members of this academy of sciences.

    In Wikidata we standardise names by having surnames at the end and they have a capital at the end. The result is Salimata Wade not Salimata WADE as you may find on many African websites..

    When you google for professor Wade, it is easy to realise that she is quite notable.. It is easy even when you don't get much from French. There is work of professor Wade to find in Wikidata but attributing her work takes too much effort. She does not have an ORCiD id nor a Google Scholar ID. It is only because of googled texts that you feel safe to use quickstatements for what you find. It is super slow going but it is what you do when you expose what is possible.

    Adding her papers should affect a change in two places on my African Science scaffolds, Wikipedia administrators permitting, the Listeria bot seems to be blocked for whatever reason.. Then again, other pages using the same bot are not..

    When you consider the ratio of males / females it is 64 / 8. When you consider the ratio of Wikipedia articles I expect a quite different ratio. I do not know how to effectively make us a ration of US or UK scientists and compare that with African scientists. One reason is that I typically do not add nationality and I know the flaws in attributing a nationality to US scientists.. Whatever approach, Africa will show to be underrepresented both in Wikipedia and Wikidata.. Without the scaffolding, the preliminary data, there is no data approach to this.. No data means no clue.

    Anyway, for countries like Senegal it makes sense to add the scaffolding to the French Wikipedia..

    A libel story

    08:52, Saturday, 01 2020 February UTC

    A visit to the Biligirirangan Hills just as the monsoons were setting in led me to look up on the life of one of the local naturalists who wrote about this region, R.C. Morris. One of the little-known incidents in his life is a case of libel arising from a book review. I had not heard of such a case before but it seems that libel cases are a rising risk for anyone who publishes critical reviews. There is a nice guide to avoid trouble and there is a plea within academia to create a safe space for critical discourse.

    This is a somewhat short note and if you are interested in learning more about the life of R.C. Morris - do look up the Wikipedia entry on him or this piece by Dr Subramanya. I recently added links to most of his papers in the Wikipedia entry and perhaps one that really had an impact on me was on the death of fourteen elephants from eating kodo millet - I suspect it is a case of aflatoxin poisoning! Another source to look for is the book Going Back by Morris' daughter and pioneer mountaineer Monica Jackson. I first came to know of the latter book in 2003 through the late Zafar Futehally who were family friends of the Morrises. He lent me this rather hard to find book when I had posted a note to an email group (a modified note was published in the Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 2003 43(5):66-67 - one point I did not mention and which people find rather hard to believe is that my friend Rajkumar actually got us to the top of Honnametti in a rather old Premier Padmini car!).
    R C Morris at a typewriter in camp. Photo by Salim Ali.

    I came across the specific libel case against Morris in a couple of newspaper archives - this one in the Straits Times, 27 April 1937, can be readily found online:

    Statements  Made In Book Review.

    Major Leonard Mourant Handley, author of "Hunter's Moon," a book dealing with his experiences as a big game-hunter, was at the Middlesex Sheriff's Court awarded £3,000 damages for libel against Mr. Randolph Camroux Morris. Mr. Morris did not appear and was not represented. The libel appeared in a review of "Hunter's Moon" by Mr. Morris that appeared in the journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Mr. Valentine Holmes said Major Handley wrote the book, his first, in 1933. and it met with amazing success.

    Mr. Morris, in his review, declared that it did not give the personal experiences of Major Handley. Mr. Morris wrote :"There surely should be some limit to the inaccuracies which find their way into modern books, which purport to set forth observations of interest to natural  scientists  and  shikaris.

    "The recent book. 'Hunters Moon.' by Leonard Handley, is so open to criticism in this respect, that one is led to the conclusion that the author has depended upon his imagination and trusted to the credulity of the public for the purpose of producing a 'bestseller' rather than a work of sporting or scientific value."

    Then followed some 38 instances of alleged Inaccuracies.

    Mr. Holmes said that at one time Mr. Morris was a close friend of Major Handley, but about 1927 some friction arose between Mrs. Morris and Mrs.  Handley. In evidence. Major Handley said that, following the libel, a man who had been a close friend of Ms refused to nominate him for membership of a club The Under-Sheriff. Mr. Stanley Ruston said there was no doubt that the motive of the libel lay in the fact that Major Handley had seized some of the thunder Mr. Morris was providing for his own book.

    Naturally this forced me to read the specific book which is also readily available online

    The last chapter deals with the hunter's exploits in the Biligirirangans which he translates as the "blue [sic] hills of Ranga"! It is also worth examining Morris' review of the book in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society which is merely marked under his initials. I wonder if anyone knows of the case history and whether it was appealed or followed up. I suspect Morris may have just quietly ignored it if the court notice was ever delivered in the far away estate of his up in Attikan or Honnameti.

    The review is fun to read as well...

    Meanwhile, here is a view of the Honnametti rock which lies just beside the estate where Morris lived.
    Honnametti rock

    Memorial to Randolph Camroux Morris
    Grave of Mary Macdonald, wife of Leslie Coleman, who in a way
    founded the University of Agricultural Sciences. Coleman was perhaps the first
    to teach the German language in Bangalore to Indian students.

    Sidlu kallu or lightning-split-rock, another local landmark.

    Wikipedia is the most popular internet health content, more than NIH, Web MD, Mayo Clinic, and other sources (according to a 2014 study). Doctors use it. Patients use it. Policy makers use it.

    Most popular internet health content (2014). [Source]

    Thus, the volunteers who curate Wikipedia’s content take the quality of medical articles very seriously. But keeping content accurate, complete, and up-to-date is a never-ending task with lots of work still to be done. Maybe it’s updating an outdated citation with the latest research. Or correcting a subtle misleading detail in the definition of a medical concept. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of Wikipedians available to update medical content and meet the high standards created by Wikipedia’s medical community. That’s why inviting more medical experts to participate can be so worthwhile.

    Involving more subject-matter experts is not only beneficial for Wikipedia’s content, readers, and existing contributors. It’s a great experience for the medical professionals themselves. Just ask OB-GYNs Dr. Jennefer Russo and Colleen Denny, MD. In 2019, the Society of Family Planning (SFP) sponsored 2 courses to train their members how to add medical content to Wikipedia’s family planning-related articles. Jen, Colleen, and 30 other medical professionals, spent 3 months working closely with Wiki Education’s team to learn how Wikipedia works and improve pages related to their interests. We’re delighted that we will be running two more SFP Wiki Scholars courses in 2020, continuing this effort to bring high quality, rigorously scientific family planning information to the public. Earlier this week, Dr. Jennefer Russo, Dr. Denny, and I joined SFP’s Director of Grantmaking and Evaluation, Dr. Jenny O’Donnell, for a webinar to encourage others to join SFP’s upcoming Wiki Scholars courses.

    Why Wikipedia?

    “When I saw this being offered, I thought it was really exciting,” Colleen Denny, MD shared as part of the panel discussion. “As a layperson and even a doctor, I use Wikipedia all the time. It’s not only incredibly powerful, but also one of the few news sources in the United States today that is actually viewed neutrally. I’m a practicing clinician and do a lot of patient counseling, but in terms of sheer impact of getting medical information to my patients, it’s hard to beat Wikipedia. The impact is just so huge.”

    When partnerships help both organizations fulfill their missions

    SFP and Wiki Education saw an opportunity to partner because of a shared mission to give the public access to scientific research. As Dr. O’Donnell said in the webinar, “Though oftentimes our subject matter feels deeply political by its mere existence, the SFP sweet spot with Wiki Education is just putting the science forward.”

    Wiki Education aims to reach more readers with the best, most accurate, up-to-date scientific research. Wikipedia is an excellent medium for science communication because it encourages contributors to distill complex topics into a digestible format. And we know people are looking for medical information about family planning. As the topics pop up in the news, readers flock to the Wikipedia articles to learn more.

    Pageviews analysis of the Roe v. Wade Wikipedia article shows peaks during the 2016 presidential debates; after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court in 2018; and when Kay Ivey signed Alabama’s fetal heartbeat bill in 2019.

    Thanks to this partnership, we have supported 32 SFP members through 2 courses in 2019. They added 40,000 words, 390 new references, and that content has received over 2 million page views already. They have improved topics like tubal ligation, self-induced abortion, reproductive coercion, late termination of pregnancy, mifepristone, unintedned pregnancy, doula, family planning in Uganda, vaginal bleeding, medical abortion, miscarriage, reproductive rights, compulsory sterilization, and more. Now, SFP members have two additional opportunities in 2020 to join this initiative.

    SFP members have added more than 40,000 words and 390 new references–work that has received over 2 million page views already.

    What participation means for subject matter experts and for Wikipedia

    Members of the Wikipedia community not only want to involve more subject matter experts in the open knowledge movement, it’s also a priority for many to help correct the gender disparity in editors and invite more women and non-binary identifying folks to lend their perspectives and expertise.

    The scientists we work with feel a personal responsibility to get science out to the masses, and they can be a part of diversifying knowledge production on Wikipedia. In this week’s webinar panel, Dr. Jennefer Russo noted that as scientists and health professionals, “it’s part of our responsibility to balance out the voices at the table.”

    What’s it like in the training course?

    So why not just learn about Wikipedia’s mechanisms on your own? Through nearly 10 years of training new editors and creating resources for people to feel comfortable entering our community, we’ve found it helps to have other people learning right there with you.

    “Maybe it’s generational, but for me and others in the course, the idea of editing an online resource that so many people look at and that seems static was intimidating,” Dr. Jennefer Russo shared. “Going in and changing information and feeling like we wouldn’t get in trouble was a mental hurdle that we overcame.”

    “In the beginning it was hard to figure out what to start with,” Colleen agreed. “Should I write a whole new page? Or fix an existing one? Something I learned through this seminar course that I wouldn’t have known is that there are all these people curating Wikipedia, looking for and identifying articles that need to be fixed. Like WikiProject Women’s Health. Finding that kind of toe-hold is a good way to start.”

    Ultimately, the live group discussions led by Scholars & Scientists Program Manager Ryan McGrady and Wikipedia Experts Ian Ramjohn and Elysia Webb during the course provided a space for SFP members to get comfortable with the culture of Wikipedia edits, as well as the mechanisms for making them. Now Colleen says she’s comfortable continuing to correct small things here and there as she sees them.

    Colleen also touched on what surprised her most through the process of learning Wikipedia’s ins and outs, “At first I wondered, if someone else can switch my edits back to the misinformation that was there before, what’s the point? But I’ve been really surprised by how much the Wikipedia community protects accurate content. I really felt like if I’m putting good content out there, even if others in the community aren’t experts, they’ll protect what is well cited and well written.”

    It was clear from our discussion that Colleen Denny, MD and Dr. Jennefer Russo feel a sense of deep mutual respect with other Wikipedians. They touched on the sense of responsibility they feel not only to share their research expertise outside the walls of academia, but also the responsibility they feel to the Wikipedia community to operate within the agreed-upon systems of content creation. Joining the Wikipedia community meets their goals of reaching more patients and freeing up more scientific knowledge for the masses. And their involvement in the community meets Wikipedia’s goals of making more information free, and providing accurate info. That symbiosis is the kind of balance we’re so happy to have found in our partnership with SFP.

    Want to get involved?

    If you’re a member of the Society of Family Planning, you can apply to participate in the next Wiki Scholars course. They are sponsoring this opportunity so that members need only donate their time to participate. Selected Wiki Scholars will meet weekly on Mondays from 11:00am–12:00pm Pacific/2:00–3:00pm Eastern from March 3, 2020 – May 18, 2020. Applications close next Monday, February 3rd.

    Learn more about our partnership with the Society of Family Planning by reading our blog posts. For inquiries about partnering with Wiki Education, contact Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson at or visit

    Digital Collections Associate Lisa Barrier and Digital Collections Manager Kathryn Gronsbell from Carnegie Hall explain what to expect when taking Wiki Education’s beginner’s Wikidata course and discuss their linked data plans for the future.


    Lisa Barrier and Kathryn Gronsbell.

    We both started Join the open data movement: a beginner Wikidata course with limited Wikidata knowledge. While we understood the basic concept of Wikidata as an information source, we had minimal editing experience and even less familiarity of how Wikidata is created, maintained, and used. Throughout the course, we learned the technical skills needed to make edits, create items, and query items as well as the underlying concepts and community practices that best explain how Wikidata works and why it continues to expand. We went into the course expecting to receive an introduction to editing (and maybe querying) but came out of it with a new understanding of how to interpret, share, and grow Carnegie Hall’s archival collection and performance data.

    Participant Background

    Lisa (Digital Collections Associate, Carnegie Hall): I initially chose to take the course to become comfortable editing Wikidata items and to learn more about using and creating Wikidata queries. My main day-to-day activities at Carnegie Hall include: creating authority records in our performance history database for entities and venues related to collections; cataloging and monitoring asset metadata in the digital asset management system (DAMS); and working with members of other internal departments to successfully upload, tag, and find their assets. I hoped to be able to create new Wikidata items for underrepresented Carnegie Hall collection data as I did not know how to approach this seemingly overwhelming task. I did not understand the flexibility and community structure of Wikidata and thought that I would personally have to create perfect, complete items for each collection entity.

    Prior to this Wiki Education course, I took an in-person Wikidata training course on creating items with data from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The course introduced adding statements and references to newly created items, but primarily covered art-related data models and did not explain how to search for other properties and available statements. With the aid of this first course and the Wikidata understanding of my colleague Rob Hudson (Archives Manager at Carnegie Hall), the extent of my early experience with Wikidata included adding Carnegie Hall Agent IDs to items and referencing Wikidata Concept URIs in authority records created in the performance history database [which Rob set up to manifest in Carnegie Hall’s Linked Open Data (CH-LOD) as SKOS:exact match].

    Kathryn (Digital Collections Manager, Carnegie Hall): I was excited to take this course with Lisa, and for the opportunity to learn more about Wikidata’s structure and communities. My aim was to apply that knowledge to help expand and improve Carnegie Hall’s performance history data as it relates to Digital Collections material. I’m responsible for Carnegie Hall’s Digital Collections – both the material and the digital asset management system (DAMS) where the collections are managed. We recently announced public access to a portion of the historic material at and are excited to start modeling collection objects for inclusion in our linked open data.

    Before starting this Wiki Education course, I had extremely limited experience in Wikidata. So little that my only contribution was done anonymously years ago – I corrected a statement that inaccurately assigned a person’s cause of death (P509) as a geographic location. I knew Wikidata grew significantly in past few years, and there was a lot of opportunity to participate. Lisa and our colleague Rob shared their experiences learning about and contributing to Wikidata, and I was excited to join in on the fun.

    Course Takeaways

    Our most significant takeaways were the exposure to community practices and how to find inspiration within existing data projects and groups. Our instructors, Will Kent and Ian Ramjohn, discussed the culture of page ownership and how there may be “primary” editors who will often engage on the Talk pages and lead decision-making about edits. On a meta-level, we were introduced to WikiProjects to explore where discussions take place and how to participate in those conversations. These projects are community run and can include goals, chats, data models, and vary in maturity and comprehensiveness. There are several WikiProjects related to archival collections, performing arts organizations, and other concepts that directly overlap with our daily work – we are excited to jump in to participate and maybe create our own. Class chats over Zoom touched upon active groups and recent conferences related to Wikidata, including: LD4 Linked Data for Libraries, WikidataCon, WikiCon North America, Wikimania, and the International Semantic Web Conference. We were introduced to showcase items (high-quality, well-developed examples) which enabled us to contribute more confidently to Wikidata. Benchmarks for data quality were a hot topic – we had an enlightening conversation about how bots contribute to Wikidata, understanding what role the bot may have, and identifying and correcting inaccuracies that may arise from automated data creation.

    Along with the class discussion, we found the following technical skills fundamental to our use of Wikidata. We learned how to:

    • Edit items by adding statements, references, and identifiers (and best practices for doing so);
    • View an item’s change log and edit history;
    • Set up notifications on watch items;
    • Use suggested property lists and recoin to create more complete items;
    • Find and build queries with editable examples (and some great sample query lists);
    • Make edits, batch edits, and queries a little bit easier with tools such as Cradle, TABernacle, OpenRefine, and QuickStatements, and how to potentially use these tools to onboard new contributors.

    We understood that increasing our experience with and exposure to Wikidata would help us plan for upcoming data projects. We can now work on continuing alignment between Wikidata and Carnegie Hall’s performance history data (CH-LOD) and create items for under-described or lesser known entities (including performers, composers, and artists) who may not be described in other datasets. We hope to engage with some of the existing WikiProjects around performing arts concepts and content, and potentially use WikiProjects as a space to model our public collection data.

    Upcoming Data Projects at Carnegie Hall

    The Carnegie Hall Archives is undertaking an exploratory project to understand how using Wikibase may help manage some of our data. Wikibase is the software that Wikidata runs on. Anyone can set up their own instance of a Wikibase to house their data. Thanks to this course, we have a better grasp on what we can query to pull in to a local Wikibase from Wikidata and have a better basis to understand what might be useful to contribute back out to Wikidata after a standalone Wikibase is established.

    One collection that we think will most benefit from a Wikibase instance (and possible collaborative WikiProject) is our Tenants and Studios Collection. Currently, this collection data lives in a spreadsheet that lists individuals and groups that lived and/or worked in artist studios that no longer exist in Carnegie Hall’s current configuration. While this spreadsheet format is acceptable, we want to model the collection data semantically to increase usability and discover connections in the data that is not possible using a spreadsheet. Creating items for names and studios would allow more control over the structure and visibility of the information, as well as allow for us to capture spatial and temporal variances over the years that are not easily described or captured in flat or relational data structures. Now that we understand what data is useful to push to Wikidata and which information should be kept as a local resource, we can better create and edit items for research and reference purposes. We ultimately envision a Wikibase instance for the Tenants and Studios Collection as an opportunity to combine Carnegie Hall’s history with the data and stories of external resources and academics.

    Upcoming data projects, like the one described above, will be under our newly established Carnegie Hall Data Lab. The Data Lab is a learning space for Carnegie Hall to expand our understanding of information innovation through experiments with linked open data, semantic technologies, and data-driven strategies that leverage the resources of the Carnegie Hall Archives. Having the experience and exposure we received in this Wiki Education course allowed us to more confidently initiate and participate in Data Lab experiments.

    We are grateful to our classmates for their participation and willingness to share, and the guidance and insight from Will Kent and Ian Ramjohn throughout the course. Thank you Wiki Education!

    Registration for our upcoming Wikidata courses is open! New to linked data? Join the open data movement in our beginner’s course. Have more experience with linked data or Wikidata? Sign up for our intermediate course that focuses on possible applications. Or visit for more information.

    Thumbnail image by Lmbarrier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

    Dr. Bridget Marshall is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and recently completed one of our Wiki Scholar courses with faculty at her institution. The Wikipedia training course is part of an initiative at UMass Lowell to build digital literacy teaching capacity and address the gender gap on campus and in Wikipedia.

    I joined the Women in Red initiative at UMass Lowell because I had repeatedly experienced searching for biographies of women writers on Wikipedia and found them to be lacking, limited, or in some cases, non-existent. When I started as a Wiki Scholar in Wiki Education’s Women in Red training course sponsored by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, only 18.04% of Wikipedia’s biographies were about women. And if students – and the wider world – don’t see stories about the lives and work of women, they will assume that women haven’t made substantial contributions to knowledge, or assume they don’t belong in certain industries, and continue to perpetuate systems that exclude women or keep them at the margins.

    While I’m a regular user of Wikipedia, I had never considered becoming a contributor of content. But knowing that there were several Wikipedia experts as well as my own colleagues at the University working together really helped me feel comfortable to dive into this new realm. The class helped me to feel more confident in jumping into this platform, and the fact that there was a due date and weekly meetings helped me to keep on track. There’s always a lot to do, so it’s easy to say “oh, it would be great to fix that entry…someday” but having the class helped me focus on learning the necessary skills to make – and then complete – the additions and updates that I thought were important.

    Two young women in Lowell, Massachusetts circa 1870. Source: Center for Lowell History, University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries. (Public domain)

    I’ve been working for a while now on a project about the “mill girls” of Lowell. There is actually a wonderfully well-developed page about them, and it’s a great resource, but I was disappointed that there weren’t more biographies of the individual women. I was able to improve and update several of the individual biographies of “mill girls” and also add a biography for a mill girl who did not previously have her own page. Very often, these writers are just referred to as “mill girls” as a collective, when in fact there were so many different individuals involved. They published stories, poems, and non-fiction, a lot of which is really interesting, and was well known at the time they were writing. Yet in the time since then, their writing – like a lot of popular writing by women – has all too often been ignored.

    Nineteenth-century literature is filled with big names that you probably read in high school: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson. The ones that are taught over and over again are mostly men (and also white men). When I run workshops for K-12 teachers about the writing by mill girls, they are shocked to find that it existed, or that it’s something they could consider teaching.

    Right now, if you go to the Wikipedia page for American literature, which has a quality assessment of “B,” you will see that while there are only four women (Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edith Wharton, and Harper Lee) that make it into the first section (the overview), in that same section there are thirty-seven men included. Four women out of forty one total authors mentioned: that is less than 10%, a number even worse than the percentage of women’s biographies across Wikipedia. The rest of the article does include more women, but it’s just one of many, many examples of how despite the fact that large numbers of women were writing and publishing – and popular during their lives! – they simply are not represented in Wikipedia. Teachers and students need to see these people as important in order to want to teach them and read them, and one way of demonstrating that an author is important is to have a robust appearance on Wikipedia.

    In addition to my work in nineteenth-century literature, I teach a course on “Disability in Literature,” so I was also particularly interested in the overlap of women writers with disabilities. For the writers I discuss in this class, very few of them have Wikipedia pages. In some cases, I was very surprised by this, because these were authors with multiple books. I created a new page for one of these writers, and I was so pleased to find that several other people then added to it with more information and citations. Seeing your article has been improved – by other people you’ll never meet or know! – is a really joyful experience. Knowing that you’ve contributed to something that will grow and be improved by others (and that you can come back to it and improve it yourself) really makes writing for Wikipedia feel worthwhile. This is one reason why I’m planning to include a Wikipedia writing assignment in one of my future courses, so that my students can think about audiences beyond just our classroom.

    As of 6 January 2020, 18.19% of English Wikipedia’s biographies are of women. The needle is moving, but slowly, and we can use more Wiki Scholars to increase the number and improve the quality and variety of women represented on this important source.

    Interested in taking a course like this? Sign up for our upcoming course and write Wikipedia biographies for women across disciplines and professions. To see all courses with open registration, visit

    Learn more about our partnership with UMass Lowell and this particular course by reading our blog post. For inquiries about partnering with Wiki Education, contact Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson at or visit

    Hero/thumbnail image in the public domain.

    weeklyOSM 496

    11:22, Sunday, 26 2020 January UTC


    lead picture

    OSM and the streets in my city 1 | © Leaflet | © map data OpenStreetMap contributors


    • Andy Mabbett noticed that JOSM flags building=disused were outdated but no alternative tags can be found in the OSM wiki. Kevin Kenny responded that JOSM uses the life cycle prefixes disused:building=* and abandoned:building=* instead.
    • The European Water Project is still actively contributing to the mapping of places with drinking water. Not just in terms of mapping but also by improving the tagging for such amenities. The project seeks the opinion of the community about the tagging of “seasonal” in conjunction with the combination of amenity=drinking_water or amenity=fountain and drinking_water=yes.
    • The European Water Project has drafted a proposal for the tagging of free_water=yes/no/customers and the specification free_water:container= and started the Request For Comments period.
    • The mapping of the eastern boundary of the Río de la Plata, i.e. defining where the river ends and the ocean begins, was the subject of an edit war.
    • Mapillary have made their map features available as a data layer in iD Editor. The layer contains point data which was extracted from imagery uploaded to Mapillary.


    • OpenStreetMap Ireland are pleased with progress of mapping buildings in Kilkenny. Nearly 70% of the task manager squares have been mapped. Other Irish counties are also showing good progress.
    • Tobias Knerr posted a reminder about the upcoming Google Summer of Code 2020 and asks the community to add project ideas to the OSM Wiki page.
    • Allan Mustard, one of the newly elected OSMF board members, has drafted a SWOT analysis and asks the community to add their perspective on the page in the OSM Wiki.
    • n76 blogged about the problems he faced when he tried to produce a map of trekking destinations in Nepal. The name tags in Nepal seem to break with OSM name conventions, specifically by using romanised/transliterated names in the main name= tags rather than local names.
    • OSM-UK have been using Loomio for collaborative work, but the removal of the free tier led to discussion as to what platform to use in the future. Harry Wood pointed to the existing United Kingdom sub-forum. The issue has been resolved temporarily for 2020 by continuing to use Loomio.
    • Samuel Darkwah Manu (Sammyhawkrad), a scholar from Ghana, shares his experience of participating in the State of the Map Africa 2019 and Understanding Risk – West and Central Africa conferences in Ivory Coast in a diary post.


    • Branko Kokanovic wrote about plans to import local boundaries (admin_level=9) in Serbia and tag these with ref:sr:maticni_broj=, a tag pointing to reference numbers similar to the UK ons_code= or the French ref_insee=. Another interesting news item is the availability of an open data portal provided by the Републички геодетски завод, the geodetic authority in Serbia.
    • CJ Malone announced his intention to update bus stop names on the Isle of Wight. He plans to use an open data set from local bus operator Southern Vectis.
    • An import of Swedish settlement names from Lantmäteriets GSD-Terrängkartan is currently being discussed (sv) (automatic translation) on the local mailing list. The project and its current progress are documented on the comprehensive page in the OSM Wiki.


    • Applications for scholarships for the upcoming State of the Map 2020, to be held in Cape Town in July 2020, can be submitted until 15 February 2020.

    Humanitarian OSM

    • Harry Wood reminded us of the hundreds of mappers who spontaneously came together after the Haiti earthquake to rapidly produce a map for aid agencies. In response, Simon Poole observed that today’s HOT is not the same HOT that responded to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Mikel Maron asks us to think about how we can help those who are still suffering in Haiti. He points out that, in some ways, HOT has benefited more than Haiti from the quake response.


    • [1] Andrei Kashcha announced a website which allows you to create, customise and export a map with all roads of a city and gave a brief introduction in a short video. He adds on Twitter that the data is licensed under ODbL and the source code is provided under a MIT license.


    • Thomas Gratier pointed to a publication of the Elysée Palace (seat of the French President). The Elysée Palace advertised (automatic translation) the exhibition “Fabriqué en France” and used an OSM map to show the origin of the products.


    • MapTiler, a company offering mapping products and services based on OSM data, achieved something that others have been working on for years: Within one day the company fixed the missing attribution.


    • Heidelberg University’s GIScience Research Group reports that NASA used the University’s OpenRouteService’s navigation service in a study of disaster response times.


    • Michal Migurski, following up on Andy Allan’s suggestion, had an in-depth look at testing the OSM Website Chef recipes with continuous integration tools. He wrote up his experiences as a diary post.
    • A forum user asked if it is possible, using OSRM, to create bicycle routes which avoid crossing busy roads. It turns out that this is missing functionality in OSRM. The discussion raises other use cases and possible ways to do this type of routing with existing software.


    • The OSM editor iD has been updated to version 2.17.1. The editor no longer supports Node 8 and requires at least Node 10 if you want to build the editor yourself. Other changes include the new ability to reorder fields with multiple values by drag-and-drop, usability improvements and many more.
    • OSMnx, a Python package to download, model, project, visualise, and analyse street networks with OSM data, has been upgraded to 0.11.3.

    Did you know …

    • … MapRoulette is calling on mappers to nominate their favourite challenges so that they appear at the top of the Challenge list?
    • … the app Cartas Militares (pt), an all-terrain navigation app with military cartography? The app was created by the Geospatial Information Army Center (CIGeoE) of Portugal and it is available for Android and iOS devices.
    • … Bike Ottawa’s guide to tagging cycling infrastructure in OSM?

    Other “geo” things

    • The United Kingdom has a bewildering complexity of administrative geographies. A new set of briefing papers from the Library of the House of Commons make comparisons between various geographies, showing how they overlap or have coterminous boundary segments. A deeper dive behind the history of these different geographies is also available.
    • Haikus created using OpenStreetMap data (as we reported earlier) are now also available (es) in Spanish.
    • The newspaper Heilbronner Stimme reports (de) (automatic translation) that a new pond created by a beaver dam near Adelshofen now appears on Google Maps (it also appears on OSM).
    • The Guardian features as one of their long reads an in-depth article about Strava.
    • The Green Car Congress blog reported on a recent paper which shows that newly developed street network patterns are reinforcing a trend towards urban sprawl. The open-access research, published in the journal PNAS, relied on OpenStreetMap and satellite data. The work was carried out by researchers from McGill University (Canada) and the University of California Santa Cruz.
    • Huawei have signed a deal with TomTom for maps and map services on their phones. New maps are needed because Huawei are no longer able to use Google Maps.
    • Business Insider profiled What3Words in their series on startups. With over 100 employees and major customers such as newly signed Mercedes, the firm is “working towards profitability”. It’s not clear precisely what this means as the filed accounts for 2018 showed losses of £11 million on a turnover of about £250,000.
    • This XKCD comic makes fun of the Mercator map projection by replacing every continent and island with South America.

    Upcoming Events

    Where What When Country
    Ivrea Incontro mensile 2020-01-25 italy
    Rome Incontro mensile Roma 2020-01-27 italy
    Prague Missing Maps Mapathon Praha 2020-01-28 czech republic
    Zurich Missing Maps Mapathon Zürich 2020-01-29 switzerland
    Düsseldorf Düsseldorfer OSM-Stammtisch 2020-01-29 germany
    Hanover OpenStreetMap Sprechstunde 2020-01-29 germany
    Budapest Budapest gathering 2020-02-03 hungary
    Berlin OSM-Verkehrswende #8 2020-02-04 germany
    London Missing Maps London 2020-02-04 united kingdom
    Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2020-02-05 germany
    Dortmund Mappertreffen 2020-02-07 germany
    Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Grenoble Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-10 france
    Taipei OSM x Wikidata #13 2020-02-10 taiwan
    Toronto Toronto Mappy Hour 2020-02-10 canada
    Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2020-02-11 france
    London Move 2020 (featuring OSMUK) 2020-02-11-2020-02-12 united kingdom
    Zurich 114. OSM Meetup Zurich 2020-02-11 switzerland
    Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2020-02-12 germany
    Nantes Rencontre mensuelle 2020-02-13 france
    Berlin 140. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2020-02-14 germany
    Turin FOSS4G-it/OSMit 2020 2020-02-18-2020-02-22 italy
    Riga State of the Map Baltics 2020-03-06 latvia
    Freiburg FOSSGIS-Konferenz 2020-03-11-2020-03-14 germany
    Chemnitz Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2020-03-14-2020-03-15 germany
    Valcea EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-04-27-2020-05-01 romania
    Guarda EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2020-06-24-2020-06-28 spain
    Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

    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 NunoMASAzevedo, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred.

    Celebrating 2 years of MediaWiki codesearch

    10:50, Sunday, 26 2020 January UTC
    MediaWiki codesearch logo

    It's been a little over 2 years since I announced MediaWiki codesearch, a fully free software tool that lets people make regex searches across all the MediaWiki-related code in Gerrit and much more. While I expected it to be useful to others, I didn't anticipate how popular it would become.

    My goal was to replace the usage of the proprietary GitHub search that many MediaWiki developers were using due to lack of a free software alternative, but doing so meant that it needed to be a superior product. One of the biggest complaints about searching via GitHub was that it pulled in a lot of extraneous repositories, making it hard to search just MediaWiki extensions or skins.

    codesearch is based on hound, a code search engine written in go, originally maintained by etsy. It took me all of 10 minutes to get an initial prototype working using the upstream docker image, but I ran into an issue pretty quickly: the repository selector didn't scale to our then-500+ git repositories (now we're at more like 900!). So it wouldn't really be possible to just search extensions easily.

    After searching around for other upstream code search engines and not having much luck finding things I liked, I went back to hound and instead tried running multiple instances at once and it more or less worked. I wrote a small ~50 line Python proxy to wrap around the different hound instances and provide a unified UI. The proxy was sketch enough that I wrote "Please don't hurt me." in the commit message!

    But it seems to have held up over time, surprisingly well. I attribute that to having systemd manage everything and the fact that hound is abandoned/unmaintained/dead upstream, creating a very stable platform, for better or worse. We've worked around most of the upstream bugs so I usually pretend it's a feature. But if it doesn't get adopted sometime this year I expect we'll create our own fork or adopt someone else's.

    I recently used the anniversary to work on puppetizing codesearch so there would be even less manual maintenance work in the future. Shoutout to Daniel Zahn (mutante) for all of his help in reviewing, fixing up and merging all the puppet patches. All of the package installation, systemd units and cron jobs are now declared in puppet - it's really straightforward.

    For those interested, I've documented the architecture of codesearch, and started writing more comprehensive docs on how to add a new search profile and how to add a new instance.

    Here's to the next two years of MediaWiki codesearch.

    WBStack Infrastructure

    13:08, Saturday, 25 2020 January UTC

    WBStack currently runs on a Google Cloud Kubernetes cluster made up of 2 virtual machines, one e2-medium and one e2-standard-2. This adds up to a current total of 4 vCPUs and 12GB of memory. No Google specific services make up any part of the core platform at this stage meaning WBStack can run wherever there is a Kubernetes cluster with little to no modification.

    A simplified overview of the internals can be seen in the diagram below where blue represents the Google provided services, with green representing everything running within the kubernetes cluster.

    Other utility services exist around the core platform both running on kubernetes and as Google services. These includes:

    And some of the platform services are made up of multiple parts, such as:

    • Different MediaWiki services for UI, API and job / backend requests
    • Different Platform APIs for user or services sourced requests
    • Other Platform elements such as a job queue and scheduler.
    • Replication of the storage layer (redis, mysql, blazegraph)

    Right now many of the Google priced variables are still within, or mostly provided by the free tier meaning the cost per month is essentially the cost of the CPU, RAM and Load Balancer.

    Moving forward it would be nice to move this to a location more supportive of the WBStack project to enable continued cost effective growth and development at this early stage.

    The post WBStack Infrastructure appeared first on Addshore.

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