February 18, 2018

WMF Release Engineering

Phabricator Updates for February 2018

This is a digest of the updates from several weeks of changelogs which are published upstream. This is an incomplete list as I've cherry-picked just the changes which I think will be of significant interest to end-users of Wikimedia's phabricator. Please see the upstream changelogs for a detailed overview of everything that's changed recently.


Bulk Editor

https://secure.phabricator.com/T13025 The bulk editor (previously sometimes called the "batch editor") has been rebuilt on top of modern infrastructure (EditEngine) and a number of bugs have been fixed.

You can now modify the set of objects being edited from the editor screen, and a wider range of fields (including "points" and some custom fields) are supported. The bulk editor should also handle edits of workboard columns with large numbers of items more gracefully.

Bulk edits can now be made silently (suppressing notifications, feed stories, and email) with bin/bulk make-silent. The need to run a command-line tool is a little clumsy and is likely to become easier in a future version of Phabricator, but the ability to act silently could help an attacker who compromised an account avoid discovery for an extended period of time.

Edits which were made silently show an icon in the timeline view to make it easier to identify them.


Herald now supports formally defining webhooks. You can configure webhooks in "firehose" mode (so they receive all events) or use Herald rules to call them when certain conditions are met.

Mail Stamps

Several users have requested a way to differentiate notifications triggered by an @mention from the deluge of regular task subscription notification emails. This feature should provide a very good solution. See T150766 for one such request.

Mail now supports "mail stamps" to make it easier to use client rules to route or flag mail. Stamps are pieces of standardized metadata attached to mail in a machine-parseable format, like "FRAGILE" or "RETURN TO SENDER" might be stamped on a package.

By default, stamps are available in the X-Phabricator-Stamps header. You can also enable them in the mail body by changing the SettingsEmail FormatSend Stamps setting. This may be useful if you use a client like Gmail which can not act on mail headers.

Stamps provide more comprehensive information about object and change state than was previously available, and you can now highlight important mail which has stamps like mention(@alice) or reviewer(@alice).

See https://secure.phabricator.com/T13069 for additional discussion and plans for this feature.


You can now Mute Notifications for any object which supports subscriptions. This action is available in the right-hand column under Subscribe. Muting notifications for an object stops you from receiving mail from that object, except for mail triggered by Send me an email rules in Herald.

This feature is "on probation" and may be removed in the future if it proves more confusing than useful.

See https://secure.phabricator.com/T13068 for some discussion.

Task Close Date

Maniphest now explicitly tracks a closed date (and closing actor) for tasks. This data will be built retroactively by a migration during the upgrade. This will take a little while if you have a lot of tasks (see "Migrations" below).

The Maniphest search UI can now order by close date and filter tasks closed between particular dates or closed by certain users. The maniphest.search API has similar support, and returns this data in result sets. This data is also now available via Export Data.

For closed tasks, the main task list view now shows a checkmark icon and the close date. For open tasks, the view retains the old behavior (no icon, modified date).

Require secure mail

Herald rules can now Require secure mail. You can use this action to prevent discussion of sensitive objects (like security bugfixes) from being transmitted via email.

To use this feature, you'll generally write a Herald rule like this:

Global Rule for Revisions
[ Projects ][ include ][ Security Fix ]
Take actions:
[ Require secure mail ]

Users will still be notified that the corresponding object has been updated, but will have to follow a link in the mail to view details over HTTPS.

This may be useful if you use mailing lists with wide distributions or model sophisticated attackers as threats.

Note that this action is currently not stateful: the rule must keep matching every update to keep the object under wraps. This may change in the future. This flag may also support continuing to send mail content if GPG is configured in some future release.

I expect that we will utilize this feature to improve the secrecy of critical security bugs which are kept private until a security patch has been released.

  • Slightly reduced the level of bleeding/explosions on the Maniphest burnup chart.
  • Added date range filtering to activity logs, pull logs, and push logs.
  • Push logs are now more human readable.
  • "Assign to" should now work properly in the bulk editor.
  • Fixed an issue with comment actions that affect numeric fields like "Points" in Maniphest.
  • maniphest.edit should now accept null to unassign a task, as suggested by the documentation.
  • GitLFS over SSH no longer fatals on a bad getUser() call.
  • Commits and revisions may now Reverts <commit|revision> one another, and reverting or reverted changes are shown more clearly in the timeline.

by mmodell (Mukunda Modell) at February 18, 2018 10:27 PM

February 17, 2018

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 395


Screenshot des JOSM-Plugins Changeset Viewer von rub21

JOSM-Plugins Changeset Viewer by rub21 1 | Picture of vector data © OpenStreetMap-Contributors, background imagery © Mapbox unter CC-BY-SA 3.0


  • Contributor Rub21 posts about their new JOSM plugin for visualising changesets.
  • The OSM Argentina community discusses (es) errors made in Argentine territory by new mappers of a project from the National University of Asuncion (Paraguay). (automatic translation)
  • Christopher Beddow from Mapillary demonstrates how he used street-level imagery as a visual aid to improve OpenStreetMap after hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
  • User jremillard outlines the potential benefits of applying AI technology to map from satellite imagery. Automated mapping is not going to replace human mappers in the near future, but could assist them in various ways. The comments are strongly divided between optimists and pessimists about the potential of AI-based mapping contributions.
  • As a follow-up to recent discussions on the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in OSM, Christoph Hormann posts his thoughts on the way that some large companies are currently using those technologies and how things could be improved.
  • User Zisper asks on OSM Forum about how to map a riverbed that is walkable when dry. Intermittent rivers can already be mapped, but there is no implication that they are suitable for pedestrians. A possible solution, which raises a warning in JOSM, is to add a highway=track tag to the relevant river segment.


  • The Open Data Institute of Cardiff asks help from the public to map street names near them using OSM as the collabaration platform, to create the first online Welsh-language map of Wales. More info can be found on ODI Cardiff website (in Welsh and English).
  • Christian Shadrack published in the Talk-cd mailing list, the OpenStreetMap DRC Monthly Information Report of January 2018, relating mapping parties in various neighborhoods of Kinshasa, remote mapping over flooded or cholera affected areas, a large mapathon organized at the Unikin (University of Kinshasa) and participation during a “Data collaborative” workshop.
  • The operators of Easylist (a collection of rules for Adblocker) are unwilling to whitelist OSM banners on the main website. These banners appeal for donations or promote community conferences organised by OSMF and its local chapters. Eastlist believe such an action would set an awkward precedent.
  • The GIScience group at the University of Heidelberg announced new data for wheelchair routing in the city of Heidelberg. The data were collected in collaboration with the city authorities.
  • Wille Marcel writes a diary highlighting the new release of OSMCha – OpenStreetMap Changeset analyser which comes with many new features such as more flexibility in posting changeset comments and a new location filter.


Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT has launched its 2018 Microgrants Programme. It will accept up to ten projects between $2,000 – $5,000 USD. Applications must be received by midnight on the 28th February 2018.


  • OpenMapTiles project now automatically detects visitors language and serves them labels in their mother tongue (more than 50 languages are supported). The labels are now unified by using Noto Sans font, which can display characters in almost every language.


  • Jason Remillard posts on Talk-US mailing list about the final steps of his import of US Northeast sports fields. He trained a neural network using Bing imagery to produce spots that he manually checked for such fields. Recently, he got the approval from Microsoft for that data to be put in OSM.


  • Jakob Miksch describes on his blog how route planning with OSM works and which programs can be used for it.
  • Mapbox customers can now use Valhalla.


  • Mapbox announces the hillshade layer type for client-side realistic 3D terrain with custom styling.

Did you know …

  • …. the railway map AllRailMap?
  • … the OpenStreetCam support of the iD-Editor, which has been around for a few months now?
  • … Ilya Zverev made a map with all the global imagery layers available for tracing into OpenStreetMap? Use it to compare the dates, or to check for coverage before editing a remote region.

Other “geo” things

  • Datawrapper now provides a simulation tool that checks the colours of a plot or a map, so that they are colorblind-friendly. The blog article also provides tips on how to choose colour palettes and gradients.
  • The Spanish newspaper El País writes about an almost forgotten grove of 500 Californian Redwoods planted in Galicia in memory Christopher Columbus. Of course it is mapped on OSM.
  • … Lumion 8? It allows you to render architectural (automatic translation) designs with an OpenStreetMap feature where you place the design in a real-life setting.
  • “Burned Places” is a map of sites of Nazi bookburnings in 1933. The reference to OSM and the copyright can be found in the imprint.
  • The flight simulator X-Plane 11 can now use a scenery that is based on OSM data. The AddOn is free of charge and covers all of Europe.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2018 2018-02-17-2018-02-18 germany
La Riche Ubuntu Party #3 2018-02-17 france
Otaru 小樽マッピングパーティー 2018-02-17 japan
Takatsuki OpenStreetMap Frontier #01 2018-02-17 japan
Rome FOSS4G-IT 2018 2018-02-19-2018-02-22 italy
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2018-02-20 germany
Derby Pub Meetup 2018-02-20 united kingdom
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2018-02-20 germany
Bochum Mappertreffen 2018-02-21 germany
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2018-02-21 germany
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2018-02-22 germany
Hasselt OSMBE Meetup 2018-02-22 belgium
Moscow Schemotechnika 14 2018-02-22 russia
Urspring Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2018-02-22 germany
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2018-02-26 germany
Essen Mappertreffen 2018-02-26 germany
Graz Stammtisch Graz 2018-02-26 austria
Brussels Road Completion Workshop 2018-02-27 belgium
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2018-02-27 germany
Dusseldorf Stammtisch 2018-02-28 germany
Osaka もくもくマッピング! #14 2018-02-28 japan
Minsk byGIS #6 2018-02-28 belarus
Dresden Stammtisch Dresden 2018-03-01 germany
San Juan Open (geo)Data Day 2018 2018-03-03 philippines
Hachiohji 高尾山薬王院マッピングパーティ IODD2018 Code for Hachioji 2018-03-03 japan
Biella Incontro mensile mapper di Biellese 2018-03-03 italy
Cologne Bonn Airport FOSSGIS 2018 2018-03-21-2018-03-24 germany
Turin MERGE-it 2018 2018-03-23-2018-03-24 italy
Poznań State of the Map Poland 2018 2018-04-13-2018-04-14 poland
Disneyland Paris Marne/Chessy Railway Station FOSS4G-fr 2018 2018-05-15-2018-05-17 france
Bordeaux State of the Map France 2018 2018-06-01-2018-06-03 france
Milan State of the Map 2018 (international conference) 2018-07-28-2018-07-30 italy
Dar es Salaam FOSS4G 2018 2018-08-29-2018-08-31 tanzania
Bengaluru State of the Map Asia 2018 (effective date to confirm) 2018-10-01-2018-10-31 india

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Anne Ghisla, Nakaner, Peda, Polyglot, SK53, SeleneYang, Spanholz, Spec80, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia.

by weeklyteam at February 17, 2018 09:30 AM

February 16, 2018

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Building for the future of Wikimedia with a new approach to partnerships

Photo by Zack McCune, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimedia 2030, the global discussion to define the future of the Wikimedia movement, created a bold vision for the future of Wikimedia and the role we want to play in the world as a movement. With this shared vision for our movement’s future in mind, the Wikimedia Foundation is evolving how we work with partners to address some of the critical barriers to participating in free knowledge globally.

After careful evaluation, the Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue one of its partnership approaches, the Wikipedia Zero program. Wikipedia Zero was created in 2012 to address one barrier to participating in Wikipedia globally: high mobile data costs. Through the program, we partnered with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. Over the course of this year, no additional Wikipedia Zero partnerships will be formed, and the remaining partnerships with mobile operators will expire.

In the program’s six year tenure, we have partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries to provide access to Wikipedia to more than 800 million people free of mobile data charges. Since 2016, we have seen a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program. This may be due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry, as well as changes in mobile data costs. At this same time, we conducted extensive research [1][2] to better understand the full spectrum of barriers to accessing and participating in Wikipedia.

One of the critical issues we identified as part of this research was low awareness of Wikipedia outside of North America and Europe. To address this, we experimented with new projects and partnerships to increase awareness of Wikipedia, and we’ve experienced some initial success in this work. In Iraq, for example, we raised awareness of Wikipedia by more than 30%. In Nigeria, we partnered with Nigerian community members and Nollywood stars to introduce more than 15 million people to Wikipedia and how it works. These successes have given us several ideas for where we may take our partnership work next, and over the coming year, we will explore other ways we can leverage the findings from our research and the Wikipedia Zero program to direct future work with partners.

To create all the world’s knowledge, we need participation from the world. However, we know that there are many barriers to making this vision a reality, data affordability being just one.  We look forward to continuing to explore, evaluate, and measure the impact of our partnership opportunities and more as we build for the future of Wikimedia.

Wikimedia Foundation

by Wikimedia Foundation at February 16, 2018 09:07 PM


Mudando de estratégia e recalibrando expectativas

"Você escreveu "Às vezes sinto que esta tarefa está além dos meus limites." Esse é um sentimento [real] em tarefas de exploração: quanto mais você cava, mais coisas você encontra. Compartilhar esse sentimento com os seus colegas de trabalho ou chefe é importante, porque eles podem te ajudar a priorizar e focar no que é essencial." — Meu mentor Benoît, sobre as minhas notas de 12 de fevereiro

Tenho sentido esse imenso luto ultimamente. À medida que o tempo passou durante a fase de divulgação inicial, acabei percebendo quão curto é o meu estágio para resolver a maioria, se não todos, os problemas que encontrei que atrapalham o processo de recrutamento e acolhimento de novos tradutores técnicos, e isso me assombra. Estou ciente de que terei a chance de abordá-los no meu relatório final, e que as minhas descobertas serão extremamente úteis a todos os envolvidos com o MediaWiki e a comunidade de tradutores como um todo. Mas o fracasso em me comunicar com universidades propriamente, a confirmação de que estratégias de divulgação precisam ser aplicadas durante longos períodos de tempo para terem uma chance de funcionar combinados com o pouco tempo que tenho inevitavelmente influenciam toda decisão que faço, fazendo com que eu me sinta pressionada e imensamente aflita.

Talvez eu esteja em luto pelo meu estágio. Estamos próximos de seu fim, e é um eufemismo dizer que eu apreciei esta experiência — é um evento catártico na minha vida. Ela marca o começo da minha vida profissional na tecnologia, depois de muitos anos sendo apenas uma usuária; o início do processo de mudança de carreira. Trabalhar em tempo integral já se estabeleceu como parte da minha rotina então é estranho pensar que tudo irá acabar em uma questão de semanas.

Talvez eu também esteja de luto pela perda de quem eu era antes que tudo isso acontecesse. Estou no meio do processo de dizer adeus a uma parte da minha vida, uma parte de mim que foi a minha realidade por anos mas agora pertence a um passado distante. Mas ei, você provavelmente está aqui para saber o que tenho feito, então falemos sobre trabalho.

Na reunião desta semana, Johan sugeriu que eu poderia criar um time de localização com estudantes de Letras ou Tradução. Essa estratégia é interessante pelas seguintes razões:

  • Demanda poucas pessoas para funcionar.
  • Ajudaria-me a confirmar ou descartar a existência de pontos de falha no processo para se tornar um tradutor no MediaWiki.org e/ou de traduzir o conteúdo da wiki citada.
  • Auxiliaria-me a prover orientações para a criação de equipes dedicadas a traduções técnicas.
  • Introduziria estudantes universitário selecionados, procurando se especializar em estudo de línguas ou tradução, ao papel de tradutor técnico no movimento Wikimedia.
  • Colaboraria com o entendimento de fatores decisivos para a escolha de continuar a contribuir ou encerrar todas as contribuições como tradutor técnico.

Então decidi ir em frente. Enquanto dedico parte do meu tempo para achar pelo menos quatro pessoas para compor uma equipe de localização em português, também estou trabalhando para melhorar o Guia rápido de tradução e escrevendo um Guia para iniciantes para ajudar novatos a se familiarizarem com outros conceitos importantes. E, já que vai parecer um tanto incomum ter tantos usuários novos traduzindo um monte de páginas, criei uma página sobre isso sob o Project:PD help como sugerido pelo Benoît.

Espero que essa estratégia traga novos resultados.

by Anna e só at February 16, 2018 05:29 PM

February 15, 2018

Wikimedia Foundation

Bringing Myanmar to the world: Kyi Phyo Htet

Photo by Ninjastrikers, CC BY-SA 4.0.

If you’ve visited Wikipedia to read up on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, you’ve probably crossed paths with an article written by Kyi Phyo Htet.

Perhaps it was one about the country’s government, education system, political parties, or geography?

But if you only speak English, you’re missing out on the totality of Phyo Htet’s contributions. Specifically, about 54,000 of them. Phyo Htet has made around 2,500 edits to the English-language Wikipedia, and 54,282 to the Burmese-language Wikipedia.

Phyo Htet was studying for his first Medicine and Surgery degree at the University of Medicine in Magway in 2007 when he came across Wikipedia. He created an account and did some editing, but did not commit in earnest until 2014, when he started his own business.

That business was an internet café, which meant that he needed to find a productive way of spending the better part of ten hours a day on the internet.

The Burmese Wikipedia met that need. He found that he could make a significant difference in his native language knowledge base, which had very few editors at that time, and was hampered by its Unicode writing system—the standard for displaying text on the internet.

“The Myanmar Unicode writing system is not widely used by the Burmese,” Phyo Htet explains. “Wikipedia applies Unicode compatible fonts that are not favored here. As a fan of that Unicode system, I found myself enjoying the work in that small community. There were a few active editors on the Burmese Wikipedia (under ten editors in 2014) … It is also easy for a novice to start editing on the Burmese Wikipedia. Active editors [watch over] recent changes and help new editors.”

Today, Phyo Htet works on a public health project for an Italian NGO in Northern Shan State in Myanmar. He’s made a total of 75,000 edits to all Wikimedia projects, most of which are on the Burmese Wikipedia, where he’s created over 1000 new articles. He has also taken and uploaded thousands of photos from his country to share them with the world.

This comes on top of his sitewide administrative duties, and building out his technical bots, which welcome new users every day—something that he had to learn how to do from scratch.

“Reading pywikibot tutorials and python language tutorials were difficult for me,” he notes. “[but] when these bots have successfully worked, my feeling of accomplishment was incredible.”

Many blockers remain for the Burmese Wikipedia editors, like those font issues, lack of resources, and sometimes the need for some people to fill gaps with new skillsets—like what Phyo Htet did with bots. However, the motivation to share free knowledge helps keeping them to encourage others to do the same.

“Wikipedia is a free knowledge sharing website,” he says, but “the Burmese Wikimedia Community is a very small one. We need more active editors, we are happy to lend them a hand and give guidance on editing.”

Interview by Muzammiluddin Syed, Wikimedia community member
Profile by Samir Elsharbaty, Writer, Communications, Wikimedia Foundation

by Syed Muzammiluddin and Samir Elsharbaty at February 15, 2018 08:06 PM


Switching strategies and recalibrating expectations

"You've written "Sometimes it feels like this is a task beyond my limits." That's a feeling on exploration tasks: the more you scratch the surface, the more you have to handle. Sharing that feeling with coworkers or your manager is important, because they can help you to prioritize and focus on what is important." — My mentor Benoît, on my February 12 notes

I've been feeling this immense amount of grief lately. As time went by during the initial outreach phase, I've come to realize how short my internship is to solve most, if not all, problems I've encountered that disturb the process of recruiting and welcoming new technical translators, and that haunts me. I am aware I will have the chance of addressing them in my final report, and my findings will be extremely useful for those involved with MediaWiki and the translation commmunity as a whole. But the failure to reach universities properly, the confirmation that outreach strategies need to be applied during long periods of time to have a chance of working combined with the little time I have left inevitably hang over every decision I make, making me feel pressured and immensely distressed.

I may be grieving for my internship. We're close to its end, and it's an understatement to say I appreciated this experience — it is a cathartic event in my life. It marks the beginning of my professional life in technology, after many years of only being a user; the start of the process of switching careers. Working full time has already established itself as a part of my routine so it's strange to think everything will cease in a matter of weeks.

I may be grieving for the loss of I was before all of this happened as well. I am in the middle of the process of saying goodbye to a part of my life, a part of me that was my reality for years but now belongs to a past long gone. But hey, you are probably here to know what I have been doing, so let's talk about work.

In this week's meeting, Johan suggested that I could create a localization team with language or translation students. This strategy is interesting for a couple of reasons:

  • It demands only a few people to work.
  • It could help me confirm or dismiss the existence of points of failure in the process of becoming a translator on MediaWiki.org and/or translating the content of said wiki.
  • It could help me provide guidelines for the creation of teams dedicated to technical translations.
  • It would introduce selected university students, looking for especializing in language study or translation, to the role of technical translator in the Wikimedia movement.
  • It would help me understand factors decisive to the choice of continuing to contribute or cease all contributions as a technical translator.

So I decided to pursue it. While I dedicate part of my time to trying to find at least four people to compose a Brazilian Portuguese localization team, I am also working on improving the Translation quick guide and writing a Beginner's Guide to help newcomers get familiar with other important concepts. And, as it will seem kind of uncommon having so many new users suddenly translating a lot of pages, I created a page about this under Project:PD help as suggested by Benoît.

Here's hope this strategy brings us good results.

by Anna e só at February 15, 2018 06:52 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Developing Integral Writing Skills for the Digital Age

Gerald R. Lucas is a Professor of English at Middle Georgia State University. Last fall, he taught with Wikipedia in his New Media course. He shares his experience here.

Digital Humanist and Professor of English Gerald R. Lucas
ImageFile:Gerald R. Lucas.jpg, Grlucas, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arguably, Wikipedia is the largest, most-ambitious, and most-successful Digital Humanities project to date. A simple Google search gives an idea of its scale: as I write, Wikipedia contains almost 33,000 active users and over 5.5 million articles; dig a bit deeper to discover that an average of 600 new articles a day are added to this reference giant. The same Google search will probably contain at least one top hit that links to a Wikipedia article. Heck, any Google search will likely point to Wikipedia in its top-ten results.

Yet, we academics seem to have a problem with Wikipedia. While my colleagues won’t admit it, their attitude toward it infects our students. “It’s not reliable,” said one of my students in response to my initial discussion of a semester wiki assignment. When pressed, she—and most other students—said that all of her professors say that serious researchers should avoid Wikipedia because “anyone can edit it.” Again, when I look confused, another student will usually add: “Yeah, how can you know what to trust when anyone can add anything he wants?” Another: “Dr. So-and-so said that entries can be just plain wrong.”

“Well,” I finally ask, “why doesn’t Dr. So-and-so fix it then?”

While perhaps a point for another post, I notice that many of my colleagues seem to give intellectual credence to only that which is printed on paper. There are many reasons for this, chiefly the tenure and promotion system, but Wikipedia looks toward the future while paper roots us in the past. I came to this conclusion a few years ago when I began teaching a course called Writing for Digital Media. Why do we still teach writing with the essay form almost exclusively while not even addressing digital media? With higher education — especially institutions like mine that focus on teaching — pushing “real life skills” (whatever those are) for recruiting and retaining students, a greater emphasis might be placed on the writing, rhetorical, and technical skills for contributing to online conversations and building knowledge more integral to communication today.

Therefore, I decided that teaching the skills necessary for contributing to Wikipedia were not only a good idea, but essential in any writing curriculum today.

I began by installing MediaWiki, the open-source software for Wikipedia, on my own Linux server. I called this LitWiki and had students contribute toward various projects over the course of a couple of years. While the quality of the contributions were mixed, the students never really got the Wikipedia experience: i.e., while they were working together (though always reluctant to alter another’s work), they weren’t really collaborating or held responsible for their work by anyone other than me during evaluation. I decided to move to Wikipedia proper last summer, when I had fewer students and could spend more time assisting.

What a disaster. Details would require more space than I have here, but suffice it to say that my own lack of experience on Wikipedia precipitated a bad experience for many of my students. I vowed then that I would become an experienced editor before attempting to teach using Wikipedia again.

I spent the next couple of months writing two articles from scratch — one for the Norman Mailer Society, and one for Mailer’s short story “The Man Who Studied Yoga” — and a major revision of an article my students collaborated on: “The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer.” I enjoyed this experience immensely. Not only did I get to research, but learning the proper voice, diction, and code for a Wikipedia article allowed me to gain the experience I needed to add to Wikipedia and to teach using Wikipedia again.

During this process, I met and communicated with other Wikipedia editors. One, who was very complimentary and supportive of my own additions, suggested that I participate in the “Did You Know” process—which I did, getting “Yoga” on the front page for a little while—and look into using an educational resource that supports instructors teaching with Wikipedia, Wiki Education. These resources were exactly what I needed for teaching.

Last fall, I used Wiki Education’s support to teach my senior seminar in new media. Traditionally, this is a theory-heavy course in which students write a research paper as the major requirement. I gave them the choice: a 10-page research paper or a significant addition to Wikipedia. I showed them my own contributions as an example, discussed the importance of well-supported additions, and the difference between original research and Wikipedia’s approach. After some discussion, they unanimously chose to work with the wiki. As these were seniors in our New Media and Communications program, they seemed to be the best ones to try this new approach.

Wiki Education’s assistance was invaluable. Not only did their assignment schedule help immensely for organization and planning, but I was easily able to integrate training and assignments into my syllabus. I focused course readings in order to schedule some lab days for editing, discussion, and questions about Wikipedia. While the Wiki Education training was beneficial for the students who completed it, I think additional, course-specific resources would be a strong addition in the future—like links to formatting references and other germane coding details.

Like any assignment, this one had varying degrees of student performance. In all, I think the assignment was a success. It seems the aspect that students struggled with the most is allocating time for research and editing throughout the semester, rather than waiting until the end of the term to attack the project—like many of them are used to doing with a term paper. I cautioned them about editing too much of an entry at once, but many of them found themselves up against deadlines and did it anyway. As a result, some found chunks of their contributions removed. I think, when I teach using Wikipedia again, it would be beneficial to have several editing deadlines throughout the semester, rather than a single big due date at the end of the term. This approach would emphasize the necessity of incremental edits. Again, students have become used to working a certain way because of traditional assignments; therefore, even when I devoted class time to editing and questions, many reverted to procrastination. This is not an assignment-specific problem.

I look forward to teaching using Wikipedia again along with Wiki Education. I think that the best way to approach the assignment will be with articles of local interest and literary ones—my own expertise. I plan to use the former for a graduate course I’m offering this spring.

Writing for Wikipedia not only allows students to develop critical skills for communication in the digital age, but allows them to make significant contributions to local and specialized knowledge. What platform is better than Wikipedia for teaching that writing is a public activity with ethical consequences? When students understand that they are not just students but active members of a learning community, it gives them a new comprehension of the importance of research, accuracy, and rhetoric in daily life. My thanks to Wiki Education for their continued efforts to educate and empower new generations of editors.

Now, if I can just get my colleagues to participate.

If you’re interested in learning more about teaching with Wikipedia, visit our informational page or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org.

Image: File:Student Life Center, Middle Georgia State University Macon campus.jpgMichael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at February 15, 2018 05:39 PM

Wikimedia UK

Wikipedia and journalism: researching a Fake News site with Wikipedia as a starting point

By John Lubbock, Communications Coordinator

I saw a friend on Facebook share an obvious piece of fake news a few days ago. It came from a site I’d seen before, World News Daily Report.

I looked at the Wikipedia page for the site, which said it was

a fake news, satirical, purportedly American Jewish Zionist newspaper based in Tel Aviv, Israel,[1][disputeddiscuss] dedicated to covering news and events from around the world in, by its own account, a completely ludicrous manner.[3]

It also stated that the website’s owner was called Janick Murray-Hall, which it evidenced with a Buzzfeed article. Obviously the site’s own description of itself was a red herring, perhaps with some odd political or racist undertones.

‘Janick Murray-Hall runs World News Daily Report, a fake news site that scored five hits in the top 50 thanks to fake political headlines such as, “ISIS Leader Calls for American Muslim Voters to Support Hillary Clinton” and crime hoaxes like, “Morgue Worker Arrested After Giving Birth To A Dead Man’s Baby.”’

The top hit on Google when searching for Mr Murray-Hall is an article about another site he runs, the Journal de Mourréal, a site which attempts to look like and mock the real Journal de Montréal. This article mentions that Murray-Hall also uses the alias Bob Flanagan, a name so common that you won’t turn up anything particularly useful by searching for it.

Another article I discovered in French by a guy who has been investigating fake news interviewed Olivier Legault, a friend of Murray-Hall, and co-founder of JdM and WNDR. This provided another good reference to populate the WNDR Wikipedia page with.

The author of this article criticises Canadian ‘humorists’ who ‘were tearing their shirts to defend the Journal de Mourréal, their right to satire and, in a roundabout way, freedom of expression,[while]  our two friends were busy polluting the English-language web with lies and hoaxes. Their other site is called the World News Daily Report (WNDR). There is no humor or satire here. This is pure false news, misinformation.’

The Radio Canada interviewer told Legault that he could not see the humour in the stories he made for WNDR. Legault’s response was vague and evasive.

‘”It depends … Sometimes, the idea is to think about an issue,” he says.

He hesitates a little.

“In a sense, there is a purpose in all this, to take self-criticism to people,” he finally said.’

When pressed that many people will not think hard enough to spot even obvious hoaxes, Legault says that if people want to believe something, it’s their fault essentially.

“The people who take it seriously are people who want to take it seriously. It’s stupid to say, but … We preach to converts. The majority of people who share it understand that it’s a joke, and others share it because they want to believe it, not because they really believe in it”.

Legault then admits that he finds it ‘a little disturbing’ how people will believe anything, saying:

“You can invent everything and anything and people will believe it. Honestly, it’s a little disturbing when you realise that. As long as you confirm what they want to believe, they will share it. If you go against their opinion, they will immediately think that this is false news. But if you go in the direction of their opinion, they will share it right away. They lose their critical spirit.”

One really big problem with exploiting people’s stereotypical or lazy assumptions is that many of them are based on racist, xenophobic or misogynistic ideas about the world. Looking on WNDR right now gives all manner of stories that might appeal to people’s bigoted beliefs about how the world works, like ‘FORMER ISIS SOLDIER EMASCULATED BY GOAT SEEKS REFUGEE STATUS IN CANADA’, ‘MUSLIM MAN SAYS BACON MIRACULOUSLY CURED HIM OF HOMOSEXUALITY’, or ‘IRISH FARMER CLAIMS HE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY A LEPRECHAUN’. Imagine finding out your stock photo is now the Irish farmer who says he’s been molested by a leprechaun.

The Yellow Press – image from the Library of Congress, public domain

Legault concludes by saying that even journalists have repeated his stories as factual, and he keeps a copy of a Quebec magazine that reprinted one.

So does Legault really believe that he’s encouraging people’s self-criticism, or is this just an obvious excuse to hide that he’s doing the exact opposite: exploiting people’s lack of it?

Whatever the case, these sources should go into improving the Wikipedia page for WNDR, to improve the resource and allow people to more easily identify the site as a place dedicated to exploiting the confirmation biases of people who don’t think too hard about the news they produce.

The aesthetic and stories in WNDR remind me somewhat of ‘Weekly World News’, a paranormal news publication that was featured in the Bradford Science and Media Museum’s Fake News exhibition which I went to recently to interview curator John O’Shea. This publication also walked a fine line between exploiting people’s beliefs (though moreso belief in the supernatural than their political prejudices) to make money, while also sometimes acknowledging that it was a load of rubbish.

I’ve been reading Daniel Kahneman’s book on cognitive biases, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and it makes it obvious to me that we need to get over our belief that humans are rational actors, and that we are patronising them if we say they are too easily exploited. People’s brains are lazy, and operate on a thousand different rules of thumb we employ to reduce our mental labour. Fake News, like many other psychological techniques, knows very well that it is exploiting this laziness, and it doesn’t care, because it’s making money out of it.

This is dangerous, both to society and to political systems, and we need to arm people with the tools to see when they are being used and exploited for political or financial gain.

The way I used Wikipedia as a starting point for research into this topic helped me to find pieces of information which were missing from the page, which acted as a repository for the new information I discovered through searching online. The whole exercise created a workflow, where I began and ended at the Wikipedia page, going to do my own research and discovering new things in between, and then returning to make them easily available for others on the page.

This kind of workflow is, I believe, one which journalism students should be doing to teach themselves how to do research online, and providing them with an immediate place to publish and collate new information they discover. I see no reason why people studying journalism at university should not practice this kind of exercise as an important way to understand Wikipedia and improve their research and writing skills.

If you’re a journalist and you come across information that is missing from Wikipedia, you can do a useful service by incorporating references and new information into articles like this one. Real journalism should be able to improve people’s abilities to tell truth from fiction, and that is exactly the same thing that Wikipedia tries to do, so I personally think that they compliment each other in important ways.

by John Lubbock at February 15, 2018 03:59 PM

#1Lib1Ref in Scotland

SLIC #1Lib1Ref Team – image by Morag Wells CC BY-SA 4.0

Glasgow Women’s Library; the Scottish Poetry Library; the Scottish Storytelling Centre; James Kelman’s classic How Late It Was, How Late; and Helen Cruickshank – all Wikipedia articles that were improved during the course of SLIC’s #1Lib1Ref activity.  

In case you missed the hubbub around the campaign, #1Lib1Ref is the annual drive to get more librarians and library staff engaged with Wikipedia – specifically, to add just one citation to the encyclopedia during the period 15 Jan – 3 February, tagging their edits with #1Lib1Ref.   

Librarians are natural allies of the open knowledge movement, and this campaign has been designed to provide an easy introduction.  At SLIC I’m working to get public library services across Scotland engaged with Wikimedia, and to shine a light on some of the amazing collections held in our libraries.

Staff training at Glasgow Caledonian University Library – image by Sara Thomas CC BY-SA 4.0

We’re currently in the first phase of our project here, working with Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire library services to run staff awareness and training, leading hopefully to a self-sustaining programme of editathons in those services.  They’re just getting started – the date for our first editathon has been set, with the second close on its heels, read more on my 6 month project report here.  Inverclyde also managed during this time to get a bit of #1Lib1Ref activity going!

My own #1Lib1Ref goal was to add a citation a day, and tweet about it… you can see everything I did here – with the most engagement coming from the work I did on the article about Adele Patrick, a co-founder of the Glasgow Women’s Library, and a winner of Scotswoman of the year.  

In mid January we were also very happy to welcome the next generation of library professionals, in the shape of Jenny, who’s a student placement from the University of Strathclyde’s Information and Library Studies Masters.  She’ll be with us until the end of March, has an interest in information literacy, and her first project with us was to take part in #1Lib1Ref – which resulted in the creation of a new article – for The Suffragette Oak.

We had a team day in the office at SLIC just before the end of the campaign, with 6 editors making 39 edits on 10 articles!  And eating pizza, just because.  

Last but not least, an event which took place just a day or so after the campaign finished (so I’m including it here, because quite frankly I can): the Don’t Cite Wikipedia, Write Wikipedia! day with staff from the Glasgow Caledonian University Library.  15 editors made 71 edits over six articles, four of them new: (Orkney Library and Archive, Shetland Library, Lady Bruce of Clackmannan and Jess Smith (writer).)

1Lib1Ref worklist – image by Sara Thomas CC BY-SA 4.0

I’m absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity both to shout a bit louder about some of Scotland’s libraries, librarians and writers, and to talk to library professionals about the sort of thing that we can achieve through engagement with Wikimedia projects. I really hope that next year we can get much more involved.  This being my second residency that involves sector-wide advocacy, I know that making changes on this kind of scale can take time – and that’s why campaigns like this, that can show individuals that they’re part of a global movement – are important.  

by John Lubbock at February 15, 2018 11:36 AM

February 14, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

Take-aways from the Fall 2017 term

In Fall 2017, Wiki Education supported 318 courses and almost 7,000 students. Those students improved more than 7,000 articles and created 635 new ones. In total, they contributed 5 million words to Wikipedia this term. That’s equivalent to almost 9 copies of Tolstoy’s War and Peace or about 11.5% of the last print edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Wow.

We paid special attention to recruiting courses that did great work in the past, working to retain instructors who have been successful with us before. We also continued to support courses in the sciences, carrying on the impact of the 2016 Year of Science through our ongoing initiative, Sustaining Science.

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson worked with a data scientist in October to do a deep dive into data from the last many years of our Classroom Program. Our data show that conferences are the most reliable way to produce active courses. When those conferences are related to one of our educational partners, they’re even more effective. The academic associations’ support of our work is meaningful, and it’s effective to find instructors where they already are: academic conferences. We also found that consistently since we started Wiki Education in Fall 2013, 44.5% of the new instructors joining the Classroom Program return to teach again within the academic year. We’ve spent those years increasing the number of students and instructors we support, even though we’ve had approximately the same number of staff members supporting the Classroom Program. To see that the same number of instructors have a good experience and choose to incorporate Wikipedia into another course shows our success in the attempts to scale up the Classroom Program’s impact to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Content Expert Ian Ramjohn developed a sample grading rubric this fall that instructors were able to incorporate into their end of term processes. So far, instructors are really liking the new resource. Wiki Education also collaborated with learning platform Osmosis, as well as University of California San Francisco Professor Amin Azzam to create a new resource for medical students editing Wikipedia. And Outreachy intern Candela Jiménez Girón has been making improvements to the Dashboard for the benefit of Art + Feminism 2018 and future students.

We’ve had a number of success stories from last term that instructors have shared on our blogDr. Kathleen Sheppard shared what it’s like engaging engineering students in the humanities through a Wikipedia assignment. For Dr. Ariella Rotramel, a Wikipedia assignment continues to be a uniquely engaging experience for students in her Gender and Women’s Studies courses. Not only are students able to contribute to public knowledge, but learn valuable skills in the process. And for Dr. J. Wesley Leckrone, a Wikipedia assignment emphasizes the importance of fact-based rhetoric. “As a political science professor,” he writes, “this is particularly important given the current environment of fake news and partisan media.” We’ve begun to feature particularly notable student work from the fall, which you can explore here.

We’re proud of the impact students have had last term and are looking forward to seeing what they do this spring!

Interested in learning more about the free resources we offer through our Classroom Program? Visit teach.wikiedu.org for more information, or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.

by Will Kent at February 14, 2018 05:04 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

The one-man band writing the history of Nigerian cinema into Wikipedia

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

The cinema of Nigeria, known by its nickname “Nollywood,” has a rich and varied history. In fact, today it’s one of the largest of its type in the entire world.

And yet there was a time when you’d have been hard pressed if trying to learn about it on Wikipedia.

That’s where volunteer Wikipedia editor Sam Oyeyele, known on the site by the moniker “Jamie Tubers,” stepped in. “Before I started editing Wikipedia, I was able to find most, if not all, of the information I needed on films from the US, UK, India, and others on Wikipedia,” he told me. “This wasn’t the case with Nigerian films.”

This state of affairs did not sit well with Oyeyele. For him, Nigerian cinema is something that “I have been in touch with since my childhood … It’s only natural for me to be drawn to it.” An avid film watcher, he says that the best film he’s seen recently is Isoken, a 2017 Nigerian romantic comedy that focuses on the familial pressure to marry once hitting a certain age.

Starting in 2011, Oyeyele began writing articles on Nigerian films; by 2015, he produced an entire series of articles about the country’s cinema history. This is one way Wikipedia works: one or more people with drive, dedication, and a passion for a specific topic donate their time towards the “free encyclopedia” with the end goal of giving everyone the sum of all knowledge.

(“Free” does not just refer to the cost. All text on Wikipedia is copyrighted under the free Creative Commons BY-SA license, meaning that anyone can re-use the work as long as they attribute the writers of the article, available at each article’s history page, and share it under the same license.)

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

Oyeyele’s articles have divided the history of Nigerian cinema into four parts, though there is some overlap between them: the Colonial era, ranging from the late nineteenth century into the 1960s; the Golden Age, from the 1950s to 1980s; the Video film era, from the 1980s to 2010s, and the still-emerging New Nigerian cinema.

It is that last era that interests Oyeyele the most. “Nigerian cinema is quite interesting at the present time,” he writes, due to its “relatively fast-paced technical development, industry re-structuring, and a rush in investments.” While elements of New Nigerian cinema emerged in the mid-2000s, news sources have pinpointed the 2009 film The Figurine as its harbinger. The supernatural thriller did not make back its budget at the box office, but received acclaim both within Nigeria and in international film circles.

“At the time when The Figurine was released in 2009, audiences were getting really tired,” Oyeyele writes:

Film quality had stagnated, and the stories had been watered-down. People wanted more … Then The Figurine came and was perfectly suited to satisfying that thirst. After its release, the industry was transformed, and even better films have since been released. The Figurine is often referenced as the “revolutionary film” which led to the growth and development that the industry is enjoying once again.

Outside these big-picture articles, Oyeyele has written or helped write dozens of articles on Nigerian cinema. This includes the psychological horror October 1, where a police officer is sent to investigate and solve a string of murders before Nigeria’s Independence Day.

Doing this hasn’t been easy, especially for films that were released more than a decade ago, before the emergence of New Nigerian cinema. Many Nigerian news outlets do not maintain archives, which leads to a significant amount of lost knowledge and a much more time-consuming process for Oyeyele.

He usually resorts to doing research in physical paper sources, which are much better maintained; of the digitized news and research papers that remain, “they usually don’t top the search engines. You have to go through double-digit pages [of search results] before you can find usable sources.”

Photo by Jamie Tubers/Sam Oyeyele, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Over the years, Oyeyele has also gotten involved in community outreach in Nigeria, which included becoming an active member of the Wikimedia user group in Nigeria. His upcoming plans, which are already in motion, include branching into community-building activities, especially with the Nigerian user group’s new hub in Ilorin, the sixth-largest city in the country. Through those entities, he recently helped organize an international photographic competition, and is hoping to continue ramping up his work.

“I just feel that although it’s cool that I’m creating all these articles and contributing this much, I can’t do it alone,” he writes. “Wikipedia’s content gaps would be closed much faster if I can get more Nigerians to do the same things I do—we’d get many more topics and interest areas covered.”

Still, his expanded participation in those areas does not mean he’s stopped writing. There will always be more Nigerian films that need to be covered on Wikipedia. Like, say, expanding the article about The Wedding Party.

Ed Erhart, Senior Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

by Ed Erhart at February 14, 2018 04:33 PM

Semantic MediaWiki

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 released/en

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 released/en

February 14, 2018

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 (SMW 2.5.6) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This maintenance release provides bugfixes and brings compatibility with MediaWiki 1.30.x. Please refer to the help page on installing Semantic MediaWiki to get detailed instructions on how to install or upgrade.

by TranslateBot at February 14, 2018 02:30 PM

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 released

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 released

February 14, 2018

Semantic MediaWiki 2.5.6 (SMW 2.5.6) has been released today as a new version of Semantic MediaWiki.

This maintenance release provides bugfixes and brings compatibility with MediaWiki 1.30.x. Please refer to the help page on installing Semantic MediaWiki to get detailed instructions on how to install or upgrade.

by Kghbln at February 14, 2018 02:29 PM

February 13, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

5 things you didn’t know the Dashboard can do

Winter and Spring terms are officially underway. We already have 3,500 students enrolled who are already learning about, and contributing to, Wikipedia. But as an instructor, how are you supposed to keep up with all that work? Especially if you are just learning about Wikipedia for the first time yourself. Luckily, the Wiki Education Dashboard is here to help!

1. Tracking trainings

The number one action that will set your students up for success with this project is completing the assigned training modules. We’ve set the Dashboard up so that students are only assigned the required trainings that they need to complete the very next assignment. So if students fall behind and aren’t completing the trainings, they will be more likely to run into problems and to ask questions of you and our staff that are already answered in the trainings. To see a quick snapshot of whether your course is up to date with the trainings, head to the Home tab of your course page and hover your mouse over the “student editors” number. If you see, for example, that only 15 of your 24 students are up to date with the training, then we know it’s time to send a reminder.

The Dashboard actually has a tool built in that helps you do this! Just head to the Students tab of your course page and click the purple chat box located to the right of the “enrollment” button – this will open up a dialogue window asking “This will post a reminder on the talk pages of all students who have overdue training. Are you sure you want to do this?” – click OK! and you’ll be on your way.

The Students tab also shows you an overview of where each student is though the trainings, noting “2/7 trainings completed” for example, in red below each student user. This means that you’ve assigned 7 trainings throughout the term but that your student has only taken two of them so far. At this point in the term, they are probably right on track!

2. Enrolling students

The first few weeks of the term can be pretty hectic. Students are adding and dropping the course and trying to get up to speed as fast as possible. If you’ve lost track of your course specific enrollment link in your email, you can always find it on your course page to share with new students. Just head to the Students tab, click the purple “enrollment” button, and share enrollment URL linked there. If you have a student who mentions that your course login requires a passcode, you can find your course-specific passcode saved there for you.

Students tab on the Dashboard.

If you have students who drop the course mid-way through, you can manually remove them from your course page. Just use that “enrollment” tool on the Students tab to remove a username. Simply click the (-) button next to the username, and click “OK” when asked to confirm the change.

3. Reviewing their Sandbox

The early Wikipedia assignments ask students to evaluate an article, compile their bibliography, and start working on their draft all in their Sandbox. Luckily, the Dashboard has quick links for you to review their work each week. From the Students tab of your course page, there is a (sandboxes) link below each student username. Clicking this link will open up a new tab on your computer with a list of “all pages with the prefix” of your students’ username. Just simply click the username/sandbox link and you can review any work your students have done in their Sandbox so far.

4. Requesting help

You might also notice a template in your students’ Sandbox that offers them a “Get Help” button. This allows your students to message with your assigned Wikipedia Expert, either Ian or Shalor, by posting a comment on their Talk page. The “Get Help” button is a great way for you to encourage your students to seek support from Wiki Education staff throughout the term. If you have a student who comes to you with a question you just don’t know how to answer, please encourage them to “Get Help!”

This button also lives on the Dashboard. If you and your students are logged in, there will be a purple “Get Help” button along the title line of your course page. As the instructor you’ll see a quick link to instructor FAQs, but your students will see student FAQs and have the option to message with their assigned Wikipedia Expert if they have a “question about editing Wikipedia”.

5. Grading student work

Once your students have learned to edit and are moving their work live, the most common question we get from instructors is “how do I tell what my students have done?” And with our continued updates to the Dashboard, it’s easy! Once your students move their work live each article they touch on Wikipedia will be tracked on the Articles tab of your course page under “articles edited.”

Articles tab on the Dashboard.

The right column offers a few “assessment tools” that you can use to review their work. Selecting the “current version with authorship highlighting” tool (it looks like a notebook paper) you’ll be able to see a color-coded highlight of exactly what your students’ username has contributed to that article so far. If your students are working in groups, each group member will be assigned a unique color. And the bottom of the popup includes a list of “edits by” with student usernames. As the instructor, if you hover over the username, you can see the first and last name of the associated student.

Another great way to assess student work is via the “article development” button below the article title. This graphs the rise in “structural completeness” of the article from the point the student started working live until now. Look for an upward trend in the graph over time. This means the article is improving based on a machine learning calculation that takes into account amount of prose, the number of wikilinks to other articles, the numbers of references, images, headers and templates, and a few other basic features.

For more tips about your Wikipedia assignment, see our blog post about setting expectations early in the semester. 

by Samantha Weald at February 13, 2018 06:56 PM

Ocean scientists can educate the world through Wikipedia

This week, Wiki Education is attending the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR, where the hosting organizations aim to disseminate knowledge about the ocean. They do so via meetings like this one, where experts convene to discuss recent research and implications for the world’s biggest ecosystem. This venue is integral for scientists to collaborate and advance the world’s understanding of oceanography. That said, if these important findings remain behind closed doors and within complex, advanced scientific publications, it can’t have the broad impact we need in order to advance sustainability and conservation efforts. The interdisciplinary study of oceanography is vital for understanding our collective impacts on marine life and how to conserve this precious ecosystem, yet the vast amount of information—including studies from geology to chemistry to physics—can be overwhelming for non-experts. That’s where Wikipedia and Wiki Education come in.

Wikipedia is often a top search engine result, directing the curious toward verifiable, evidence-based facts that are understandable to a non-expert reader. Ocean scientists have the power and obligation to improve the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia’s articles about the ocean and preservation efforts. If they make scientific information more accessible, hundreds of millions of people will gain access to vital information for preserving the ocean and making informed policy and behavioral decisions. But researchers are busy—doing research, writing scientific journal articles, teaching the next generation of scientists, and otherwise working hard to communicate science.

Wiki Education offers opportunities for overcommitted experts to improve Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects in ways that capitalize on the work they’re already doing. We’re thrilled to spend the week meeting university instructors who are interested in spreading scientific research about the ocean via Wikipedia. Here are some of the ways oceanographers can work with Wiki Education to reach a wider audience online:

Join Wiki Education’s Classroom Program, and assign university students to improve Wikipedia articles related to their coursework. Even when scientific facts are available to the public, they may be difficult to understand without years of context and dedicated study. Students, however, can translate dense scientific jargon into cohesive, digestible pieces of information. In a Wikipedia assignment, students research topics related to the course, select a related Wikipedia article, and update the article to reflect the current scientific understanding of the topic. Wiki Education’s suite of tools and Wikipedia expertise can help simplify that process, empowering students to educate millions. We offer training materials to teach students all they need to know to add high quality contributions to Wikipedia. Students are motivated to do good work because they see purpose behind their hours of labor, research, and writing. Instructors help share knowledge with the world—knowledge that otherwise ends up in a recycling bin. Visit our website for steps to get involved.

Assign students to add media to Wikimedia Commons

Data visualizations that make compelling arguments to protect marine ecosystems are often incompatible with Wikipedia due to copyright restrictions. Instructors may be interested in improving Wikipedia’s reach to visual learners via photos, videos, illustrations, or charts and graphs. If students are developing graphics as a part of their course or taking high-quality photos in lab, they can upload them to Wikimedia Commons and add them to relevant Wikipedia articles. Instructors who join the Classroom Program will have access to tools to help students learn about copyright and how to upload media to Wikipedia.

Grant journal access to a Wikipedia editor to work on ocean science content

Wiki Education runs a program, Wikipedia Visiting Scholars, in which university faculty and staff at other educational institutions grant journal access to existing Wikipedia editors and direct them to highly important Wikipedia articles. If you run a department or organization with access to data or journal articles about ocean research, we can help find a Wikipedia editor who will use those resources to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of oceanography. See our website for more information.

Come meet Wiki Education staff at The Ocean Sciences Meeting this week

If you’re unsure how you can get involved, but you’re interested in contributing to the world’s shared understanding of the ocean, stop by the exhibit hall this week to learn more about our efforts to bring better science to the masses. If you aren’t attending the conference, please email us at contact@wikiedu.org.

by Jami Mathewson at February 13, 2018 05:20 PM

Wikimedia UK

How should journalists use Wikipedia?

44th Munich Security Conference 2008 – Image by Kai Mörk, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0 (Germany).

Wikipedia receives about 18 billion page views per month from around 1.4 billion unique devices. While many people use Wikipedia for basic research into subjects which they want a simple understanding of, Wikipedia and its sister projects also have many uses which can be useful for journalists to make part of their research process.

Traditionally, journalists, like students, have been discouraged from using Wikipedia as part of their research, but this attitude is slowly changing as people realise that while information should not be exclusively sourced from Wikipedia articles, Wikimedia projects (like Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata) can be powerful tools for journalists.

Some general rules

Citation needed protester – image by futureatlas.com CC BY 2.0

Don’t just accept facts, check the citations. Every fact on Wikipedia should be condensed from another source. Those sources go in the references list at the bottom of the page.

When former Guardian editor Paul Preston died recently, the Guardian repeated a claim in his Wikipedia page that a book he had written, The 51st State, had been made into a film with Samuel L Jackson. There was a film with that name and Jackson in it, but it was not based on Preston’s book.

This is probably the most basic point, but it’s worth reiterating. Asking a journalist friend of mine whether she used Wikipedia, I was told that nobody trusts the information provided on Wikipedia alone because the editing process is open to all. In practice however, many journalists cut corners and still often plagiarise whole sections of articles to save time, even if their managers tell them not to.

Plagiarism also breaks the Creative Commons licences that all information on Wikipedia is shared under, which state that you are allowed to reuse any of the content as long as you attribute the source. So especially if you’re a group of Japanese lawmakers on a tax-funded fact-finding trip to the US, you should avoid copying entire sections of Wikipedia to save time, as it’s very easy for people to find out you did that kind of thing.

Basically, don’t be lazy. Wikipedia’s information is transparent, and allows you to see its provenance. You might also want to check the View History tab at the top of the page to see who has been editing it and when, and look on the Talk tab to see what issues with the page have been considered by its editors.

Familiarise yourself with Wikipedia’s rules and guidelines

Only around 30% of all pages on Wikipedia are the articles themselves. The rest are the talk pages, user pages, policies, WikiProjects, Lists, disambiguation pages, Category pages and so on. The most meta level of Wikipedia’s rules is contained in what we call the Five Pillars of Wikipedia. These are:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. It’s not a soapbox, an advertising platform or a vanity press.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a Neutral Point of View (NPoV).
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit or distribute. Everything is published on Open Licenses, mainly Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0
  4. Wikipedia’s editors should treat each other with respect and civility
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules.

The next most important rules are the Notability Criteria, and the Reliable Sources guidelines, or you can check out the entire List of guidelines.

Understanding sources

One important aspect of media literacy that these guidelines can teach you is that not all sources are made equally. Wikipedia does not accept self-published sources as reliable, such as petitions, blogs and social media posts. It also discourages the use of tabloid news sources where better ones are available.

A decision taken by editors to include the Daily Mail in this list of discouraged sources made headlines last year when it was widely reported as ‘Wikipedia bans the Daily Mail’. Daily Mail sources are not banned on Wikipedia. Thousands still exist, but should be replaced by better ones if they are available.

Wikipedia is what is called a ‘tertiary’ source. It’s not an eyewitness account or opinion (a primary source), or a secondary source, which combines and discusses information first presented elsewhere. It should be a summary of the best available primary and secondary sources about a subject. Tertiary sources are not ‘academic level’ sources, so you shouldn’t cite Wikipedia articles in academic papers. You’re also not allowed to cite one Wikipedia article in another one.

With this in mind, it follows that journalists should use tertiary sources like Wikipedia as background research to understand a topic, and find good primary and secondary sources that can help them dig deeper into the subject they are researching. As Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said back in 2011,

“Journalists all use Wikipedia. The bad journalist gets in trouble because they use it incorrectly; the good journalist knows it’s a place to get oriented and to find out what questions to ask”.

Science and medicine

Total solar eclypse – image by Michael S Adler CC BY-SA 4.0

Not all parts of Wikipedia are the same. Much higher reliable source guidelines exist in the scientific and medical areas of Wikipedia, where generally only well known journal articles will be accepted.

I once tried to improve the article on Water Fasting, in response to someone on Twitter saying it wasn’t very good. It’s not very good, but that’s because there have not been any reliable medical studies done on it which have been written about in reliable medical journals, so there’s not much that can be said. My edits to enlarge the page with information from articles in the Huffington Post and other sources all got deleted.

Once again, one of the best ways to find out how Wikipedia works is simply to edit it. This fact is somewhat similar to the commonly referenced idea of Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki, who said that “the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”

This discourse between people with competing views generally helps to make Wikipedia more reliable over time: as articles are edited by more and more people, the information becomes better, as a Harvard Business Review investigation discovered in 2016.


Because all of Wikipedia’s data is open and searchable by machines, there’s lots of interesting things that people are doing to make use of the data. Some bots scan the list of edits for vandalism, or people editing from IP addresses known to come from the UK Parliament or US Congress. People have also made Twitter accounts that automatically publish these edits on Twitter. Here are a couple of them:

Parliament Edits – https://twitter.com/parliamentedits

Congress Edits – https://twitter.com/congressedits

Maybe you want to find out what GPS data exists on Wikipedia and its sister sites in a particular area. Check out the WikiShootMe tool to see Wikipedia articles, photos from Wikimedia Commons and data from Wikidata with GPS coordinates displayed on an OpenStreetMap.

Another useful thing you can use to see data about Wikipedia pages that is not immediately obvious is the Page View tool. Every Wikipedia page has a link on the left hand side under Tools that says ‘Page information’. Clicking this link and then scrolling to the bottom of the page, you will find another link called ‘Page view statistics’. This will take you to a tool where you can see how many visits that page had within a given time period of your choosing. Using this tool can provide useful insights, such as the fact that the biggest spike in views to the European Union article was on the day following the Brexit referendum.

Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata

When I was a freelance journalist, one of the most useful aspects of the Wikimedia projects was the free image database, Wikimedia Commons. All of Wikipedia’s media files are hosted there, all under Creative Commons attribution licenses, meaning that you can reuse or modify them in any way you like, as long as you credit the original author of the media. Look in the details below any image to see the creator or user who uploaded the file. Your credit should look like this ‘[Image name] by [username], CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons’.

To search Commons for images, try typing Category: into the search box, followed by a type of image you’re looking for. You can then search for images tagged with this category. Alternatively, try looking through the list of Featured images or quality images for something to use.

Searching Commons categories.

Wikipedia and its sister projects are huge and complicated, and there are so many ways that they could be used by journalists that there are probably many things missing from this list. If you’re a data journalist, for example, and want to do complex data queries, I would suggest learning how to use Wikidata. You can find tutorials online like this one or this one to show you how to use the Query Service to search the data.


If there’s one final piece of advice I would like you to remember, it’s that all media is made by people, whether it’s on the BBC, YouTube or Wikipedia. The only way to really understand a platform like Wikipedia is to get involved in editing it. Understanding how it works should allow you to get the most out of it, and to avoid writing simplistic articles like I often see on sports websites, about how X football player’s Wikipedia page was HACKED by fans of an opposing team. Editing a Wikipedia page is not hacking it. It’s what you’re supposed to do to it. Pages get vandalised all the time, and there are sophisticated ways that have been developed for reverting and flagging vandalism that ensure it doesn’t tend to last for long.

You should also remember that Wikipedia is still a work in progress. That’s why the logo is a puzzle piece globe of different languages. The majority of people editing Wikipedia are still white, male, and from the global North, and this affects the content on the sites. There are lots more articles about military history, WWE wrestlers and men in general than there are about women, queer or non-European people or history. Part of being a good journalist is being aware of these biases, and taking them into account in your writing.

Thanks for reading this guide, and I hope you have found some of it useful!


by John Lubbock at February 13, 2018 04:25 PM

February 12, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

Roundup: Political Economy

What is the nature of the relationship between politics and economics? How are our lives influenced by this intersection? These are questions that Mark Cassell’s Fall 2017 Political Economy course at Kent State University explored. Students significantly expanded existing articles and created new ones as part of their Wikipedia assignment.

The weaponization of finance refers to the use of sanctions and other withholding of economic power as part of foreign relations. It is a diplomatic strategy for negotiation that often doesn’t rely on military action. In US foreign policy, economic weaponization takes place by limiting other countries’ access to US banks and financial marketplaces. Financial weaponization is also used by the UN to effect political change. Sanctions are a particularly direct form of financial weaponization. They take the form of either trade sanction — excluding a country from import or exports markets — or or financial withholding — blocking of government assets and limiting a country’s access to worldwide markets. The moral consequences of economic weaponization are debated, as sanctions and other interventions can harm citizens of affected countries and potentially bring about human rights violations.

The brand new article on Principles of Political Economy by British political economist Thomas Malthus can tell you all about the famous political economy book written in 1820. In it, Malthus explains why European economic depressions occur and how price and value in fluctuating markets influence consumers. He also develops his concept of effective demand, which becomes important in Keynesian economics later on. He posits that consumers are influenced by a price of a good and decide to buy or not buy depending on that price. Malthus also argues that economies tend to move toward depression because productivity advances more quickly than demand.

Another new article, about the Minnesota Food Cooperative Wars, can tell you about co-op politics in the Twin Cities region during the 1970s. Conflict arose around differing opinions about what purpose these community groups should serve. A central point of contention was whether these organic-food-focused co-ops should have centralized organization or the decentralized approach that was popular at the time. One group pushing for a newly centralized approach, the Cooperative Organization (CO), proposed the co-op not only as a community-centered alternative to the grocery industry, but also as “a centralized force to unite the working class against the capitalist class.” Their emerging philosophy incorporated Marxist and Maoist ideology and clashed with typical co-op practices of the time. Soon the conflict escalated, with the CO violently seizing spaces run by competing co-ops. The wars came to a close by the early 1980s with the decline of the co-op scene. While there is a lingering stigma against co-ops among older generations in the area, Minnesota is still one of the states with the most food cooperatives in the United States.

Want to learn more about teaching with Wikipedia and the free support that we offer? Visit teach.wikiedu.org to find out more, or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.

ImageFile:Maritime Fur Trade-WorldContext.pngPfly, GNU Free Documentation License, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Cassidy Villeneuve at February 12, 2018 05:33 PM

February 11, 2018

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, January 2018

“Reading Wikipedia to Answer Open-Domain Questions”

Reviewed by Thomas Niebler

This paper by Chen et al.[1] propose to use the Wikipedia article corpus as a source of world knowledge in order to answer open domain questions. They point out that Wikipedia articles contain a lot more information than current knowledge bases, such as DBPedia or Freebase. While knowledge in KBs is encoded in a more machine-friendly way, the vast majority of Wikipedia’s knowledge is not covered in KBs, but contained in unstructured text and is thus difficult to access in an algorithmic way. The proposed approach, called “DrQA”, aims to overcome that limitation by leveraging the article content. It first retrieves Wikipedia articles relevant to a question, and then uses a recurrent neural network (RNN) to detect relevant parts in the article’s paragraphs that could be used as answers. This RNN is based on a set of pretrained word embeddings as well as a set of other features.

Their results indicate that DrQA seems better suited to answer open domain questions than other competitors, based on a set of four question benchmarks. While the evaluation score improvement seems rather small (77.3 vs 78.8 F1 score), the whole task of machine reading at scale using Wikipedia gives directions for interesting future research and applications. For example, depending on the speed of the framework (which unfortunately was not discussed), a new Wikipedia service for answering such open domain questions could be established. Furthermore, this process of answering common knowledge questions could help in improving chatbots.

Are you a policy wonk? Who succeeds in talk page discussions

Reviewed by Barbara (WVS)

This Carnegie Mellon University study[2] quantified the success of those editors who engage in talk page discussions and their roles in these discussions. The roles assigned to each editor was:

  • Moderator – decides when a decision is final to support their views
  • Architect – designs the article and its sections to support their views
  • Policy Wonk – quotes acronyms that represent policy/rules/guidelines to support their view
  • Wordsmith – determines the best article titles and section titles based upon their point of view
  • Expert – interjects facts into the discussion to support their point of view

Unlike earlier studies exploring editor interactions, editors in this study could be assigned simultaneous roles on an article talk page. Success of each editor was determined by analyzing subsequent edits to the article under discussion which were promoted by a particular editor and longevity of these edits. Those editors that are more detail-oriented tend to have more success than those more interested in organization. Multiple editors assuming the role of organization lessens the success of individual editors. The study assessed 7,211 articles, 21,108 discussion threads, 21,108 editor discussion pairs, and the average number of editors per discussion. The number of total edits by an editor is not associated with success.

The researchers also published a dataset consisting of “53,175 instances in which an editor interacts with one or more other editors in a talk page discussion and achieves a measured influence on the associated article page”.

“Determining Quality of Articles in Polish Wikipedia Based on Linguistic Features”

Summarized by Eddie891

This article[3] focuses on the 1.2 million unassessed articles in the Polish Wikipedia, and considers “over 100 linguistic features to determine the quality of Wikipedia articles in Polish language.” From the conclusion: “Use of linguistic features is valuable for automatic determination of quality of Wikipedia article in Polish language. Better results in terms of precision can be achieved when the whole text of article is taken into the account. Then our model shows over 93% classification precision using such features as relative number of unique nouns and verbs (unique, 3rd person, impersonal). However, if we take into account only leading section of an article, relative quantity of common words, locatives, vocatives and third person words are the most significant for determination of quality. Using the obtained quality models we asses 500 000 randomly chosen unevaluated articles from Polish Wikipedia. According to result, about 4–5% of assessed articles can be considered by Wikipedia community as high quality articles.”

Conferences and events

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

Other recent publications

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

Compiled by Tilman Bayer
  • “Enrichment of Information in Multilingual Wikipedia Based on Quality Analysis”[4] From the abstract: “Wikipedia articles may include infobox, which used to collect and present a subset of important information about its subject. [sic] This study presents method for quality assessment of Wikipedia articles and information contained in their infoboxes. Choosing the best language versions of a particular article will allow for enrichment of information in less developed version editions of particular articles.” See also coverage of related papers involving the same author above, in our last issue: “Assessing article quality and popularity across 44 Wikipedia language versions“, and below:
  • “Analysis of References Across Wikipedia Languages”[5] From the abstract: “This paper presents an analysis of using common references in over 10 million articles in several Wikipedia language editions: English, German, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Belarussian. Also, the study shows the use of similar sources and their number in language sensitive topics.”
  • “Wikipedia as a space for discursive constructions of globalization”[6] From the abstract: “This article […] compares, through computer-assisted text analysis and qualitative reading, entries for the word ‘globalization’ in six major Western languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. Given Wikipedia’s model of open editing and open contribution, it would be logical to expect that definitions of globalization across different languages reflect variations related to diverse cultural contexts and collective writing. Results show, however, more similarities than differences across languages, demonstrated by an overall pattern of economic framing of the term, and an overreliance on English language sources.”
  • “FRISK: A Multilingual Approach to Find twitteR InterestS via wiKipedia”[7] From the abstract: “In this paper we describe Frisk a multilingual unsupervised approach for the categorization of the interests of Twitter users. Frisk models the tweets of a user and the interests (e.g., politics, sports) as bags of articles and categories of Wikipedia respectively […]”
  • “Introduction to anatomy on Wikipedia”[8] From the abstract: “No work parallels the amount of attention, scope or interdisciplinary layout of Wikipedia, and it offers a unique opportunity to improve the anatomical literacy of the masses. Anatomy on Wikipedia is introduced from an editor’s perspective. Article contributors, content, layout and accuracy are discussed, with a view to demystifying editing for anatomy professionals.”
  • “The institutionalization of free culture movement based on the study of Wikimedia projects in the East-Central Europe”[9] From the English abstract: “The author of the publication presents the processes of institutionalization occurring in the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, co-organized in the framework of the free culture movement. These processes on the one hand lead to the relative closing up of the members of groups belonging to regional cultures, especially those who speak the same language, on the other hand to encouraging interregional cooperation. Common enterprises undertaken by partners from East-Central Europe are not only contribution to the free culture movement, but may also point to emphasizing the common identity of prosumers of post-socialist societies.”
  • “The Russian-language Wikipedia as a Measure of Society Political Mythologization”[10] From the abstract [sic]: “The analyzed in this article myth about inheritance rights of Russia to the Kyivan Rus’1 arose in the 15th century. Recently this myth is being actively spread by the Russian propaganda in the mass media – in particular this is performed through Wikipedia being one of the most attended Internet resources. […] the purpose of this myth consists in activation of separatist sentiments of Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens. Purpose – to explore vulnerability of Wikipedia policy of openness on the basis of a specific example as well as to explore its efficiency for formation of political myths; to analyze the technology used for creation of Wikipedia articles in the process of formation of myths.Methods. Comparison method is applied – texts of Wikipedia articles on various time stages of their creation were compared; results of analyzing Wikipedia pages were correlated to political events of Russian-Ukrainian relations.[…] Results. Mythology not obliged to prove anything and Wikipedia aimed at forming the concept and creating only an impression of scientificness and not knowledge as such are perfectly agreed. That is why Wikipedia is one of the most efficient spreaders of myths (first of all political myths) supporting a definite ideology.”
  • “Analysing Timelines of National Histories across Wikipedia Editions: A Comparative Computational Approach”[11] From the abstract: “… we aim to automatically identify such differences by computing timelines and detecting temporal focal points of written history across languages on Wikipedia. In particular, we study articles related to the history of all UN member states and compare them in 30 language editions. We develop a computational approach that allows to identify focal points quantitatively, and find that Wikipedia narratives about national histories (i) are skewed towards more recent events (recency bias) and (ii) are distributed unevenly across the continents with significant focus on the history of European countries (Eurocentric bias). We also establish that national historical timelines vary across language editions, although average interlingual consensus is rather high …”
  • “Using WikiProjects to Measure the Health of Wikipedia”[12] From the abstract: “We analysed 3.2 million Wikipedia articles associated with 618 active Wikipedia projects. The dataset contained the logs of over 115 million article revisions and 15 million talk entries both representing the activity of 15 million unique Wikipedians altogether. Our analysis revealed that per WikiProject, the number of article and talk contributions are increasing, as are the number of new Wikipedians contributing to individual WikiProjects.” From the results section: “In comparison to Suh et al. and Halfaker et al., our findings suggest that based on the WikiProject activity, Wikipedia is not in decline, but still enjoying growth with new users, edits, and discussion activity. Akin to other complex online communities, using traditional methods to measure community and system health may not reflect their true state …”


  1. Danqi Chen; Adam Fisch; Jason Weston; Antoine Bordes: Reading Wikipedia to Answer Open-Domain Questions. Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)
  2. Maki, Keith; Yoder, Michael; Jo, Yohan; Rosé, Carolyn (2017). “Roles and Success in Wikipedia Talk Pages: Identifying Latent Patterns of Behavior”. Proceedings of the Eighth International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers) 1: 1026–1035. 
  3. Lewoniewski, Włodzimierz; Węcel, Krzysztof; Abramowicz, Witold (2018-01-03). “Determining Quality of Articles in Polish Wikipedia Based on Linguistic Features”. doi:10.20944/preprints201801.0017.v1. 
  4. Lewoniewski, Włodzimierz (2017-06-28). Enrichment of Information in Multilingual Wikipedia Based on Quality Analysis. International Conference on Business Information Systems. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing. Springer, Cham. pp. 216–227. ISBN 9783319690223. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-69023-0_19.  Closed access
  5. Lewoniewski, Włodzimierz; Węcel, Krzysztof; Abramowicz, Witold (2017-10-12). Analysis of References Across Wikipedia Languages. International Conference on Information and Software Technologies. Communications in Computer and Information Science. Springer, Cham. pp. 561–573. ISBN 9783319676418. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-67642-5_47.  Closed access author’s copy / conference presentation video recording
  6. Rubira, Rainer; Gil-Egui, Gisela (2017-10-30). “Wikipedia as a space for discursive constructions of globalization”. International Communication Gazette: 1748048517736415. ISSN 1748-0485. doi:10.1177/1748048517736415.  Closed access
  7. Jipmo, Coriane Nana; Quercini, Gianluca; Bennacer, Nacéra (2017-11-05). FRISK: A Multilingual Approach to Find twitteR InterestS via wiKipedia. International Conference on Advanced Data Mining and Applications. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer, Cham. pp. 243–256. ISBN 9783319691787. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-69179-4_17.  Closed access, author copy
  8. Ledger, Thomas Stephen (2017-09-01). “Introduction to anatomy on Wikipedia”. Journal of Anatomy 231 (3): 430–432. ISSN 1469-7580. doi:10.1111/joa.12640.  Closed access
  9. Skolik, Sebastian (2017). “Instytucjonalizacja ruchu wolnej kultury na przykładzie projektów Wikimedia w przestrzeni Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej”. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego. pp. 347–367.  Closed access (in Polish, book chapter from ISBN 978-83-8012-916-0)
  10. Sokolova, Sofiia (2017). “The Russian-language Wikipedia as a Measure of Society Political Mythologization”. Journal of Modern Science 33 (2): 147–176. ISSN 1734-2031.  Closed access
  11. Samoilenko, Anna; Lemmerich, Florian; Weller, Katrin; Zens, Maria; Strohmaier, Markus (2017-05-24). “Analysing Timelines of National Histories across Wikipedia Editions: A Comparative Computational Approach”. arXiv:1705.08816 [cs].  (published version)
  12. Tinati, Ramine; Luczak-Roesch, Markus; Shadbolt, Nigel; Hall, Wendy (2015). Using WikiProjects to Measure the Health of Wikipedia. ACM Press. pp. 369–370. ISBN 9781450334730. doi:10.1145/2740908.2745937.  Closed access / Tinati, Ramine; Luczak-Rösch, Markus; Hall, Wendy; Shadbolt, Nigel (2015-05-23). Using WikiProjects to measure the health of Wikipedia. Web Science Track, World Wide Web Conference. 


Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 8 • Issue: 01 • January 2018
This newsletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email WikiResearch on Twitter WikiResearch on Facebook[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by Tilman Bayer at February 11, 2018 09:35 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 394


The picture we published came from this website. Since the license of the image was not clear, we removed it.


  • Dave Swarthout inquired on the Tagging mailing list whether scenic=yes could be an appropriate attribute for rivers in the United States with the status “National Wild and Scenic River“.
  • Esri has made available a new background layer “Esri World Imagery (Clarity)“, which restores some sharper but older aerial photos in the main OSM editors.
  • Mapbox released a dataset of 10,400 turn restrictions at 5,200 road junctions. Machine learning vision models were applied to Bing Streetside imagery to detect the turn restrictions. Mapbox has acquired the rights to contribute this data to OSM.
  • User Glassman tried to contact the company Milestone Inc. in Santa Clara (California) regarding low-quality OSM edits with the purpose of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). As the company didn’t answer, Glassman tweeted about the issue.
  • User Alexos set up a coordination page for the update of regional railway relations in Eastern France. The grouping of regional railway service under the new company “TER Grand Est” took place in September 2017.
  • Till Adams features the app StreetComplete on the Terrestris blog.


  • Andrew Wiseman from Apple has written to some of the South American mailing lists including the one for Ecuador that his company is willing to help improving missing roads, road connections and classifications or GPS trackings in these countries. For this purpose he has opened a project on GitHub.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The nomination period for candidates in the OSM US board elections was extended so that more candidates could come forward. There are now six candidates for five seats.


  • The deadline for submission of proposals for talks, lightning talks and sessions for the State of the Map 2018 in Milan, Italy (28-30 July) is 18 February. Papers for the academic track have a separate, later, deadline.
  • The monthly mapping party of Brisbane, Australia will take place on February 10th in Beaudesert, one hour away from Brisbane.
  • OSM was present at FOSDEM 2018 in Brussels (Belgium) with a meeting organised by OSM-Belgium and several talks in the geospatial devroom, for which both slides and videos are available.

Humanitarian OSM


  • From version 4.2.4, the “DJI Go” app uses maps from Mapbox. There’s a discussion on the DJI forum about how they compare to previous ones (from HERE and Google).


  • The Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) has just made Openrouteservice APIs available on PyPi.
  • Following on from the announcement of the shutdown of its services, Mapzen announces how long-term support will be handled for its maps, basemap designs, and the vector and terrain tile data. It also provides detailed instructions on how to update Mapzen-based projects with the new endpoints. The geocoding team is currently working on the successor to Mapzen’s Pelias, geocode.earth.
  • Paul Norman continues his series of diary reposts from his blog, by describing how to download and build a custom style (here OpenStreetMap Carto) for OSM data.

OSM in the media

  • La Prensa published (translation) an article about the updates on the Nicaraguan public transportation map created by Mapanica, the Nicaraguan OSM community.

Other “geo” things

  • Warren Davison shows in Esri’s official blog how he designed a map of his hometown to look like a “historical” map.
  • The Berlin Morgenpost newspaper lets you test your knowledge (de) about the course of the Berlin Wall on a map created by means of Mapbox, OSM and Leaflet. An 1989 aerial photo of the Wall can be viewed afterwards.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Berlin 116. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2018-02-09 germany
near Brisbane Beaudesert Mapping Party 2018-02-10 australia
Tokyo 東京!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第16回 赤坂氷川神社 2018-02-10 japan
Rennes Cartographie humanitaire 2018-02-11 france
Lyon Rencontre libre mensuelle 2018-02-13 france
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2018-02-13 france
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2018-02-14 germany
Toulouse Réunion mensuelle 2018-02-14 france
Zurich Stammtisch Zürich 2018-02-14 switzerland
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2018 2018-02-17-2018-02-18 germany
La Riche Ubuntu Party #3 2018-02-17 france
Otaru 小樽マッピングパーティー 2018-02-17 japan
Takatsuki OpenStreetMap Frontier #01 2018-02-17 japan
Rome FOSS4G-IT 2018 2018-02-19-2018-02-22 italy
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2018-02-20 germany
Derby Pub Meetup 2018-02-20 united kingdom
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2018-02-20 germany
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 2018-02-21 germany
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2018-02-22 germany
Hasselt OSMBE Meetup 2018-02-22 belgium
Moscow Schemotechnika 14 2018-02-22 russia
Urspring Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2018-02-22 germany
Cologne Bonn Airport FOSSGIS 2018 2018-03-21-2018-03-24 germany
Turin MERGE-it 2018-03-23-2018-03-24 italy
Poznań State of the Map Poland 2018 2018-04-13-2018-04-14 poland
Disneyland Paris Marne/Chessy Railway Station FOSS4G-fr 2018 2018-05-15-2018-05-17 france
Bordeaux State of the Map France 2018 2018-06-01-2018-06-03 france
Milan State of the Map 2018 (international conference) 2018-07-28-2018-07-30 italy
Dar es Salaam FOSS4G 2018 2018-08-29-2018-08-31 tanzania
Bengaluru State of the Map Asia 2018 (effective date to confirm) 2018-10-01-2018-10-31 india

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Anne Ghisla, Nakaner, SK53, Softgrow, SomeoneElse, Spanholz, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, marikoenig.

by weeklyteam at February 11, 2018 10:12 AM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - William Gorges, first colonial governor of the Province of Maine

Mr Gorges was born in Britain, he died in Britain. He was tasked to oversee investments for two years by a nephew and as a result he was the first colonial governor of the province of Maine. Consequently he is said to be a citizen of the USA, (he died in February 1658)..

The problem with nationality and citizenship is that we tend to adopt people as belonging to something that did not exist at the time and consequently it is a falsehood. It is the same with all these generals, governors of the confederacy; they did not identify with the United States of America, they had their own state they swore allegiance to, so why call them citizen of the USA? How dare we?

It is the same for people from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. They may have opposed the Brits but from a nationality point of view, their behaviour was judged by the British laws.

Associating people with states / nations that may not even have existed at the time are false facts, pure and simple.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at February 11, 2018 08:33 AM

February 09, 2018

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest: Mexico, sports, and gender diversity; Odisha adopts free licenses; Wikiquote in the hospital; news in brief

Photo by ProtoplasmaKid, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Women in sports are generally underrepresented on the internet, and the Spanish Wikipedia is no exception. As of October 2017, the Mexican male footballers category included 819 pages; the equivalent female category had just 43. At Wikimedia Mexico, the independent organization working to advance Wikimedia in the country, we are trying to change this by holding events that encourage writing about women in sports.

We were invited by the Cultural Digital Center of the Culture Secretariat of Mexico to start a series of editathons on Mexican women in sports with Versus Mexico, a non-governmental organization that works on promoting the culture of inclusion in the country.

Women in the sports journalism field are also hit by these deep-seated gender roles. Those who decide to break the barriers and work in the field are typically subjected to public and harmful messages that include trolling, hate speech, abuse, sexual remarks, sexist commentaries and even threats of death on a daily basis.

Marion Reimers, Jimena Sánchez, and Verónica Rodriguez are journalists at FOX Sports who decided to work with Versus Mexico on initiatives that can help reduce the gender gap in the sports journalism field.

On 25 November 2017, we held our first editathon that focused on female footballers. Ten participants gathered and wrote 21 new articles, along with improving 50 more. They added a total of 13,600 words added. Female sports journalists attended to support the editors. The event was broadcasted in situ by Ibero 90.9, the public radio station of Mexico City that devoted several hours to coverage of the event.

“One form of violence (against women) is that we still go unnoticed,” Carmen Alcázar, secretary of Wikimedia Mexico commented. “The media does not cover us, [and] history does not consider us. The aim of this event is that the new generations that consult Wikipedia more than other sources, know that not only there are great male midfielders but also great female midfielders.”

Wikimedia Mexico, Versus Mexico, and Centro de Cultura Digital have plans to make hold editathons about women in sports in more disciplines in 2018.

Iván Martínez, Wikimedia Mexico


Odisha adopts Creative Commons licenses to promote the values of transparency and accessibility

On 1 January, as part of celebrating the Public Domain Day, the state government of Odisha, Eastern India, announced the release of all digital content from its two major departments under Creative Commons licenses. The announcement is an outcome of a strong partnership between the state government and the Wikimedia community in Odisha.

The I&PR department revealed the plan in a video they posted on their social media accounts. “On the occasion of Public Domain Day, the website and social media feeds of I&PR Department are being licensed under Creative Commons,” says the department spokesperson, “which means all [the] content on the website and social media accounts [is] now free for public usage. That includes photographs, videos, government publications and much more.”

The first department announced by the State Government to be the part of this initiative is the Information and Public Relations department; that informs the public on the government plans, projects and Programs. The I&PR department also publishes two magazines, Utkala Prasanga, a state magazine published in Odia language and Odisha Review, a 72-year-old state magazine published in English.

The second one is the ST&SC Development department; which works on the welfare of the backward and minority communities in Odisha. This department holds a major source of information in the form of Adivasi journal and research papers on the Indigenous community of Odisha from its Research and Training Institute.

Last year, the Government of Odisha became the first state government in India to release the content of its 8 social media accounts and the website of 2017 Asian athletics Championships under CC-BY-4.0 international license. As the license gives permission to use the work, this has overall helped in adding 207 distinct images into various Wikimedia projects.

As a next step in this collaboration, the government is planning to make other departments release their content and promote transparency and access to knowledge.

Sailesh Patnaik, Volunteer, Odia Wikipedia
Jnanaranjan sahu, Volunteer, Odia Wikipedia


Wikiquote at the hospital

In Argentina, we have started a program to re-integrate people with serious mental illnesses into the community by proposing them a goal to help improve their self-esteem and reduce their feeling of loneliness and social isolation by learning how to edit Wikiquote.

The workshops help develop the intellectual and human development of one of the most vulnerable groups of our society, as these psychiatric patients, instead of being passive users of the network, create content and act as active contributors.

As an experienced psychologist working with mental health patients, I began this project because I wanted to help them go beyond their perception of loneliness and sense of emptiness. As a long-term Wikipedian and an administrator in Wikiquote, I wanted to recruit beginners to encourage them to create articles in Wikiquote in Spanish, because we have a very small community of active editors there.

I was inspired by User:Saintfevrier at Wikimania 2016 when she presented her work on the Wikitherapy program.

The venue was the Marcelo Hospital Torcuato de Alvear in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They provided a laboratory with desktop computers and free wifi access.

I had to design very small and manageable tasks for every class. The teaching was very personalized, much more than with healthier contributors. The classes were centered on explaining the basics of editing, formatting, and how to add citations. For example, one of the participants had no idea how punctuation works. He wrote his Wikiquote pages in a full stream. Details, like learning to use a quotation mark, were very complicated for him. I had to help him understand the beginning and the endpoint in sentences.

During the course, participants developed digital literacy, writing, research skills and they learned to write with others, to accept revisions of their work and to interact with other community members. Patients developed a wide range of skills and abilities that help them gain confidence by feeling that they make a meaningful contribution to our society.

I was contacted by a Spanish institution that works on Cognitive Accessibility in Full Inclusion, with people with intellectual disabilities, as they wanted to try to replicate the experience in Spain. I believe that this is a social entrepreneurship that could be replicated in a global way.

Andrea Patricia Kleiman, Wikimedia Argentina

In brief

Mohamed Bachounda. Photo by ZMcCune (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Wikipedia Library names Mohammed Bachounda as a Star Coordinator: The Star Coordinator program is a quarterly award to recognize the coordinators of The Wikipedia Library (TWL) for their amazing work in their communities. Mohammed Bachounda has exerted great efforts to support both the Arabic and French TWL branches. His focus on increasing the activity level of contributions on the Arabic Wikipedia encouraged him to join The Wikipedia Library in an attempt to provide more resources for the community. In his own words:

“I focused on contributing to the Arabic Wikipedia as the participation there was very low and it was not progressing enough like the other Wikipedias, even with the large Arabic-speaking population and being a rich culture.”

In addition to his work to coordinate TWL, Bachounda helps translate The Wikipedia Library newsletter, Books & Bytes and helps share the program updates with the Arabic community.

Attribution Generator translated to Spanish, Portuguese: A new blog post on Wikimedia Germany’s blog outlines the experience of two Wikimedians who translated the chapter’s Attribution Generator—used to simplify the attribution requirements of Creative Commons-licensed media—into Spanish and Portuguese. “Everyone in the world can take advantage of free photos,” users Santamarcanda and Ivanhercaz write, so “why it should not be [simplified and] convenient to use them in their own language?” (our rough translation from German). The original blog post is available in German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Sweden hosts Wikimania 2019: The steering committee of Wikimania, the annual conference of the Wikimedia movement, announced on Wednesday, that Sweden will be the host of Wikimania 2019. “The exact location of the conference will be confirmed at a later date,” said Ellie Young, Events Manager of the Wikimedia Foundation in an email she sent on behalf of the Wikimania steering committee to Wikimedia-l public mailing list. “The committee appreciates and values the long-standing interest of Wikimedia Sweden to host that event, and we believe that hosting Wikimania will be an opportunity to boost Wikimedia projects there with a specific focus on public art, a field in which the Swedish team has been particularly active.”

Wikipedian Krzysztof Machocki passes away: On 31, January, the Wikipedia community lost one of its prolific contributors. Machocki was a long time Wikipedian and was the spokesperson of Wikimedia Poland. Fellow Wikipedians left hundreds of messages of condolence on a memorial page they created for his family on the Polish Wikipedia. Others started a crowdfunding campaign to support his children’s education. “Krzysztof was known for his joy and passion,” said Natalia Szafran-Kozakowska an email to Wikimedia-l, “for his faith in how Wikipedia makes the world better. We lost him but let us not lose that faith.”

Compiled and edited by Samir Elsharbaty, Writer, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation


by Ivan Martìnez, Sailesh Patnaik, Jnanaranjan Sahu, Andrea Patricia Kleiman and Samir Elsharbaty at February 09, 2018 10:35 PM

Wikipedia is a place to “plant and harvest” free knowledge: Arminé Aghayan

Photo by Victor Grigas/Wikimedia Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In September 2013, amateur photographer Arminé Aghayan was getting ready to publish her first photo book, featuring many historic sites and landmarks around Yerevan, Armenia, when a radio advertisement made her change her mind.

The ad was promoting a new photography contest called Wiki Loves Monuments, where the participants would upload their photos under a free licence to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that holds most of the images and video used on Wikipedia. The best photos submitted would win a prize. Aghayan made the decision to upload all the photos she had of Yerevan.

Over the last five years, Aghayan has become one of the most prolific contributors to the Wikimedia movement in general—and the Armenian Wikipedia in particular. She has created thousands of new articles on Wikipedia, hundreds of which have come from undergoing the #100WikiDays challenge nine separate times. (In each of them, Aghayan has created a new Wikipedia article each day for 100 days.)

More recently, Aghayan has used her editing to bridge content gaps on Wikipedia. Her writing, in various occasions, has been inspired by the places she visited.

Aghayan was born in Vedi, about three dozen kilometers from the Armenian capital of Yerevan. As a child, she found herself overwhelmed by the sights that surrounded her. This encouraged her to become a photographer, a hobby she carried into adulthood and the free culture movement.

Gndevank, tenth-century monastery in Armenia, one of Aghayan’s first contributions on Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Arminé Aghayan, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Once her photos of Armenian monuments were uploaded on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia editors used them to illustrate articles. One of her personal friends even jumped in to help.

“I saw a Facebook friend [create] an article about Yerevan monuments using those photos,” she recalls. “Inspired by his article, I started a new page about a recently-opened statue in Yerevan, using the same formatting of my friend’s article. The red links (links to articles that haven’t been yet created) encouraged me to get them covered.”

The simple notion of creating an article about a statue quickly turned into a project to document Armenian visual arts.

Within a year, together with a friend, we managed to cover the statues and monuments not only in Yerevan but everywhere in Armenia. In addition to statues, I wrote about sculptors, architects, and painters. I met them in person and took photos to illustrate their profiles. Many were familiar with Wikipedia but did not know that it is a place where you can plant and harvest free knowledge. I taught some artists how to upload their artworks to Wikimedia Commons. Some of them used to call me ‘the wiki girl’.

As soon as she learned about the #100wikidays challenge, Aghayan decided to join. “I love challenges ... because they inspire you to collaborate with other Wikipedians,” she told us in a previous interview about the challenge. Aghayan has repeated it nine times, and starting from the fourth, she has channeled her efforts into a single theme each round.

For example, when Aghayan returned from Wikimania 2016—the annual conference of the Wikimedia movement, held that year in northern Italy—she decided to allocate her editing effort in the fourth iteration of her challenge to writing about Italy. Similarly, she finished a ninth challenge last November with her hundredth article about Canada, the host of Wikimania 2017. Other rounds of the challenge were on other projects or went to support a cause that she believed in.

I like all the articles that I create. Each of them is close to my heart. But in 2016 and 2017, I started to create more articles about women: I joined online edit-a-thons and projects, and wrote biographies of those brilliant and courageous women in my native language. My fifth circle of #100wikidays and #10wikiweeks were devoted to Women.

One of Aghayan’s 100-day rounds was to write articles about galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM), a favored topic for her, even before learning about the project with the same name.

“I wrote about the museums, galleries and libraries of Armenia without knowing about the GLAM-Wiki project,” says Aghayan. “After writing articles about every museum in Armenia, I started to collaborate with them to cover the interesting items they exhibit. At the moment, I have a collaboration with the Armenian History Museum.”

Being a very active Wikipedian and the commitment to create new articles every day is not an easy job. For Armine, she enjoys doing this as a way to both teach others and learn at the same time.

“[It is a] great feeling when you teach someone how to edit Wikipedia and you see their first contribution,” says Armine. “I am lucky to be a wikiteacher for some Armenian artists and museum workers.” She continues:

While editing Wikipedia every day, I learn and discover new things. When I see that an article I wrote or photo that I donated to Commons was used by media outlets, or someone shared it on social media, I am filled with joy ... it spurs me to edit more and more and to help free knowledge to spread.

Samir Elsharbaty, Writer, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

See Armine's photos of Armenian heritage over on Wikimedia Commons.

by Samir Elsharbaty at February 09, 2018 05:17 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Women and Medicine on Wikipedia

Dr. Kathleen Crowther is Associate Professor of History of Science at the University of Oklahoma. In Fall 2017, she taught with Wikipedia in her course, Women and Medicine. Here, she writes about what students enjoyed about the assignment and the importance of their work.

Dr. Kathleen Crowther, Associate Professor of History of Science, University of Oklahoma.
Image: File:Kathleen Maisie Crowther.jpg, by BeforeNewton, via Wikimedia Commons.

I teach history of science and history of medicine classes at the University of Oklahoma. Over the past few years, I’ve gradually been incorporating Wikipedia editing projects into several of my classes. My experiences – and feedback from students – has been unequivocally positive.

All students have used Wikipedia before they come to my classes, and most of them have been told they should not cite Wikipedia in formal papers. But few of them have a clear sense of the strengths and limitations of Wikipedia. Becoming Wikipedia editors themselves allows them to lift the hood and see how the engine works. Whether or not they ever edit Wikipedia again after my class, students become much more careful and critical users of Wikipedia. Wiki Education’s training modules and technical support make learning to edit Wikipedia articles relatively painless. Class discussions about how to find and evaluate sources are livelier and more productive than when they are writing more traditional research papers. I find that Wikipedia’s policy of neutrality and requirement that articles be based only on secondary sources actually sharpens their understanding of what it means to do original research and what the difference is between summarizing secondary literature and doing primary source research. This is important to me because over the course of the semester, I ask students to both improve a Wikipedia article and do a more traditional historical research paper. Most students find the prospect of writing for an audience larger than one (the professor) to be exciting. One of my favorite features of the Wiki Education dashboard is that it shows how many times articles edited by your students have been read. Now whenever I begin a Wikipedia project, I show my class the statistics for the last class. Their eyes widen when they see that over a million people have read articles created by or edited by the last group of students. I think it really hits home that what they’re doing contributes to public knowledge and understanding of history.

Last semester I included a Wikipedia project in my Women and Medicine class. This course surveys the relationship between women and medicine from antiquity to the present. We examine the interrelated histories of women as medical practitioners, patients, and objects of medical knowledge.  We explore the different ways women functioned as health care providers, as domestic healers, nurses, midwives, and physicians.  We discuss how women experienced illness in the past and the expectations and norms that shaped their illness experiences.  Finally, we look at medical knowledge about women and how ideas about gender have been constructed by the medical professions. Their final research assignment was to create or expand a Wikipedia article on a woman physician, healer, or biomedical scientist. I encouraged them to choose women who had either no existing article or a very short one.

This assignment allowed me to address two related and serious problems with Wikipedia as a source of information. First, women are dramatically underrepresented among Wikipedia editors. According to the Wikipedia article about gender bias on Wikipedia, only “between 8.5–16 percent of Wikipedia editors are female.” And male editors on average make twice as many edits as female editors. There has been considerable discussion of this problem, both inside and outside Wikipedia. Wikipedia set a goal to increase the percentage of women editors to 25% by 2015, a goal that was not met. Some observers contend that Wikipedia is misogynistic and fosters a hostile environment for women; others that women are less likely to see themselves as experts, and that they are more discouraged by critical feedback than men. The issue is multifaceted, and it’s a perfect discussion topic for a class that traces historical views of women’s intellectual and physical capabilities from the ancient Greeks to the present! My class had about 60 students, over 50 of whom were women. It may be just a drop in the bucket, but I feel good about boosting the number of female Wikipedia editors by even that small number.

The second problem, which is inextricably intertwined with the first, is that coverage of women – in science, medicine, art, literature, and history – is nowhere near as extensive as the coverage of men.  The problem of lack of coverage is particularly acute in the case of women of color and women from the global south. This provides a perfect opportunity to talk about “content gaps” in Wikipedia, and biases in historical writing generally. And again, this dovetails neatly with a course on women’s history.  My students either created or expanded close to 60 different articles on women in medicine. These ranged from the medieval to the modern period. A significant number of these women were African American (like Alice Ball, a chemist who discovered an effective treatment for leprosy) or from the global south (like Esther Chapa, a Mexican surgeon, trade unionist, and women’s rights activist; and Yvonne Sylvain, the first female doctor in Haiti). Again, these are just drops in an ocean. I can keep doing this same assignment for years without ever running out of significant women in medicine who have no articles on Wikipedia, or have articles that are just stubs.

The most satisfying aspect of this assignment for me was seeing how passionate some of the students became about the women they were researching. How was it, they demanded, that these women, who had achieved so much, often against serious odds, did not already have articles on Wikipedia? It was a powerful lesson on bias in history, both on Wikipedia and in historical scholarship generally. But rather than just learning about that bias, they got to do something concrete to remedy it.

For more information about teaching with Wikipedia, visit teach.wikiedu.org or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org.

Header image: File:SouthOval N.jpg, by User:Nmajdan, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at February 09, 2018 02:49 PM

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: January 2018

by Admin at February 09, 2018 01:59 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia and #Cochrane - sharing resources and sharing results

Jane Falconer, a medical librarian, wrote a real interesting blog post. She writes about the importance of reliable information to front line health professionals and stresses the importance of systematic reviews that are conducted according to recognised and tested methodologies.

The big problem: what to include in the systematic review, and what to exclude in projects like are PRISMA and Cochrane. This is the same problem we face when we seek sources for Wikipedia articles and, the Wikimedia solution to provide sources is the "The Wikipedia Library Card Platform".

Cochrane and the Wikimedia Foundation are partners and one scenario I can see is one where this partnership is intensified. When Cochrane shares its results with Wikidata, they can have all the data of Wikidata anyway the quality and the relevance of the Wikidata data improves. When Cochrane volunteers may share the Library Card Platform, it would bring a major contribution to the volunteers at Cochrane. The relevance of the data at Wikidata will improve substantially. This in turn will help us verify the content of medical information and the quality of the sources in all our Wikipedias.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at February 09, 2018 12:25 PM

February 08, 2018

Benjamin Mako Hill

OpenSym 2017 Program Postmortem

The International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym) is the premier academic venue exclusively focused on scholarly research into open collaboration. OpenSym is an ACM conference which means that, like conferences in computer science, it’s really more like a journal that gets published once a year than it is like most social science conferences. The “journal”, in this case, is called the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Open Collaboration and it consists of final copies of papers which are typically also presented at the conference. Like journal articles, papers that are published in the proceedings are not typically published elsewhere.

Along with Claudia Müller-Birn from the Freie Universtät Berlin, I served as the Program Chair for OpenSym 2017. For the social scientists reading this, the role of program chair is similar to being an editor for a journal. My job was not to organize keynotes or logistics at the conference—that is the job of the General Chair. Indeed, in the end I didn’t even attend the conference! Along with Claudia, my role as Program Chair was to recruit submissions, recruit reviewers, coordinate and manage the review process, make final decisions on papers, and ensure that everything makes it into the published proceedings in good shape.

In OpenSym 2017, we made several changes to the way the conference has been run:

  • In previous years, OpenSym had tracks on topics like free/open source software, wikis, open innovation, open education, and so on. In 2017, we used a single track model.
  • Because we eliminated tracks, we also eliminated track-level chairs. Instead, we appointed Associate Chairs or ACs.
  • We eliminated page limits and the distinction between full papers and notes.
  • We allowed authors to write rebuttals before reviews were finalized. Reviewers and ACs were allowed to modify their reviews and decisions based on rebuttals.
  • To assist in assigning papers to ACs and reviewers, we made extensive use of bidding. This means we had to recruit the pool of reviewers before papers were submitted.

Although each of these things have been tried in other conferences, or even piloted within individual tracks in OpenSym, all were new to OpenSym in general.


Papers submitted 44
Papers accepted 20
Acceptance rate 45%
Posters submitted 2
Posters presented 9
Associate Chairs 8
PC Members 59
Authors 108
Author countries 20

The program was similar in size to the ones in the last 2-3 years in terms of the number of submissions. OpenSym is a small but mature and stable venue for research on open collaboration. This year was also similar, although slightly more competitive, in terms of the conference acceptance rate (45%—it had been slightly above 50% in previous years).

As in recent years, there were more posters presented than submitted because the PC found that some rejected work, although not ready to be published in the proceedings, was promising and advanced enough to be presented as a poster at the conference. Authors of posters submitted 4-page extended abstracts for their projects which were published in a “Companion to the Proceedings.”


Over the years, OpenSym has established a clear set of niches. Although we eliminated tracks, we asked authors to choose from a set of categories when submitting their work. These categories are similar to the tracks at OpenSym 2016. Interestingly, a number of authors selected more than one category. This would have led to difficult decisions in the old track-based system.

distribution of papers across topics with breakdown by accept/poster/reject

The figure above shows a breakdown of papers in terms of these categories as well as indicators of how many papers in each group were accepted. Papers in multiple categories are counted multiple times. Research on FLOSS and Wikimedia/Wikipedia continue to make up a sizable chunk of OpenSym’s submissions and publications. That said, these now make up a minority of total submissions. Although Wikipedia and Wikimedia research made up a smaller proportion of the submission pool, it was accepted at a higher rate. Also notable is the fact that 2017 saw an uptick in the number of papers on open innovation. I suspect this was due, at least in part, to work by the General Chair Lorraine Morgan’s involvement (she specializes in that area). Somewhat surprisingly to me, we had a number of submission about Bitcoin and blockchains. These are natural areas of growth for OpenSym but have never been a big part of work in our community in the past.

Scores and Reviews

As in previous years, review was single blind in that reviewers’ identities are hidden but authors identities are not. Each paper received between 3 and 4 reviews plus a metareview by the Associate Chair assigned to the paper. All papers received 3 reviews but ACs were encouraged to call in a 4th reviewer at any point in the process. In addition to the text of the reviews, we used a -3 to +3 scoring system where papers that are seen as borderline will be scored as 0. Reviewers scored papers using full-point increments.

scores for each paper submitted to opensym 2017: average, distribution, etc

The figure above shows scores for each paper submitted. The vertical grey lines reflect the distribution of scores where the minimum and maximum scores for each paper are the ends of the lines. The colored dots show the arithmetic mean for each score (unweighted by reviewer confidence). Colors show whether the papers were accepted, rejected, or presented as a poster. It’s important to keep in mind that two papers were submitted as posters.

Although Associate Chairs made the final decisions on a case-by-case basis, every paper that had an average score of less than 0 (the horizontal orange line) was rejected or presented as a poster and most (but not all) papers with positive average scores were accepted. Although a positive average score seemed to be a requirement for publication, negative individual scores weren’t necessary showstoppers. We accepted 6 papers with at least one negative score. We ultimately accepted 20 papers—45% of those submitted.


This was the first time that OpenSym used a rebuttal or author response and we are thrilled with how it went. Although they were entirely optional, almost every team of authors used it! Authors of 40 of our 46 submissions (87%!) submitted rebuttals.

Lower Unchanged Higher
6 24 10

The table above shows how average scores changed after authors submitted rebuttals. The table shows that rebuttals’ effect was typically neutral or positive. Most average scores stayed the same but nearly two times as many average scores increased as decreased in the post-rebuttal period. We hope that this made the process feel more fair for authors and I feel, having read them all, that it led to improvements in the quality of final papers.

Page Lengths

In previous years, OpenSym followed most other venues in computer science by allowing submission of two kinds of papers: full papers which could be up to 10 pages long and short papers which could be up to 4. Following some other conferences, we eliminated page limits altogether. This is the text we used in the OpenSym 2017 CFP:

There is no minimum or maximum length for submitted papers. Rather, reviewers will be instructed to weigh the contribution of a paper relative to its length. Papers should report research thoroughly but succinctly: brevity is a virtue. A typical length of a “long research paper” is 10 pages (formerly the maximum length limit and the limit on OpenSym tracks), but may be shorter if the contribution can be described and supported in fewer pages— shorter, more focused papers (called “short research papers” previously) are encouraged and will be reviewed like any other paper. While we will review papers longer than 10 pages, the contribution must warrant the extra length. Reviewers will be instructed to reject papers whose length is incommensurate with the size of their contribution.

The following graph shows the distribution of page lengths across papers in our final program.

histogram of paper lengths for final accepted papersIn the end 3 of 20 published papers (15%) were over 10 pages. More surprisingly, 11 of the accepted papers (55%) were below the old 10-page limit. Fears that some have expressed that page limits are the only thing keeping OpenSym from publshing enormous rambling manuscripts seems to be unwarranted—at least so far.


Although, I won’t post any analysis or graphs, bidding worked well. With only two exceptions, every single assigned review was to someone who had bid “yes” or “maybe” for the paper in question and the vast majority went to people that had bid “yes.” However, this comes with one major proviso: people that did not bid at all were marked as “maybe” for every single paper.

Given a reviewer pool whose diversity of expertise matches that in your pool of authors, bidding works fantastically. But everybody needs to bid. The only problems with reviewers we had were with people that had failed to bid. It might be reviewers who don’t bid are less committed to the conference, more overextended, more likely to drop things in general, etc. It might also be that reviewers who fail to bid get poor matches which cause them to become less interested, willing, or able to do their reviews well and on time.

Having used bidding twice as chair or track-chair, my sense is that bidding is a fantastic thing to incorporate into any conference review process. The major limitations are that you need to build a program committee (PC) before the conference (rather than finding the perfect reviewers for specific papers) and you have to find ways to incentivize or communicate the importance of getting your PC members to bid.


The final results were a fantastic collection of published papers. Of course, it couldn’t have been possible without the huge collection of conference chairs, associate chairs, program committee members, external reviewers, and staff supporters.

Although we tried quite a lot of new things, my sense is that nothing we changed made things worse and many changes made things smoother or better. Although I’m not directly involved in organizing OpenSym 2018, I am on the OpenSym steering committee. My sense is that most of the changes we made are going to be carried over this year.

Finally, it’s also been announced that OpenSym 2018 will be in Paris on August 22-24. The call for papers should be out soon and the OpenSym 2018 paper deadline has already been announced as March 15, 2018. You should consider submitting! I hope to see you in Paris!

This Analysis

OpenSym used the gratis version of EasyChair to manage the conference which doesn’t allow chairs to export data. As a result, data used in this this postmortem was scraped from EasyChair using two Python scripts. Numbers and graphs were created using a knitr file that combines R visualization and analysis code with markdown to create the HTML directly from the datasets. I’ve made all the code I used to produce this analysis available in this git repository. I hope someone else finds it useful. Because the data contains sensitive information on the review process, I’m not publishing the data.

This blog post was originally posted on the Community Data Science Collective blog.

by Benjamin Mako Hill at February 08, 2018 11:48 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Six ways to motivate a volunteer community

Photo by Vic via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

We’ll open here with a short note on what Wikimedia volunteer supporters actually do. In general, we aim at providing the best possible assistance (organizational, financial, emotional, etc.) to the volunteers who spread the idea of free knowledge and contribute to the Wikimedia projects.

As a volunteer supporter one success criteria is that volunteers have more fun while doing things easier, faster, and with better results—ideally on their own initiative and following their own interests, of course. So, how to go about that?

Motives and motivation

Well, as we found out it’s useful to know the difference between motives and motivation – and what this means if you actively try to motivate someone. A person’s motivation is on one side made up of their motives, and on the other side of their general life situation and environment.[1]

As for motives, a distinction is often made between intrinsic motives (you do something because the activity in itself is rewarding to you), and extrinsic motives (you do something because you expect a certain reward or result).[2] In real life, however, the distinction between the two is often less obvious; maybe you’re a public policy student volunteering for Greenpeace because you care deeply about the environment, at the same time you know that volunteering improves your career prospects.

Don’t mess with the motives

While it’s very difficult to influence people’s intrinsic motives (usually people have formed rather solid intrinsic motives in the process of their socialization), extrinsic motives can be more easily influenced. Unfortunately, because intrinsic and extrinsic motives aren’t always neatly separated, there’s a catch: According to the German management theorist Reinhard Sprenger, “motivating destroys motivation”.[3] In short, this means that there’s a risk people might lose interest or find an activity less fun, if rewards are given for something that they would have done anyway. This is also referred to as the overjustification effect.[4]

Therefore, while contests offering a prize can be a good way of generating attention, you should always consider rewards and prizes carefully if what you’re actually hoping for is to support the long-term motivation in your community (see our learning pattern below).

To us, this is an important conclusion: Influencing people’s motives shouldn’t be the goal of volunteer support. Rather, we should help provide the best possible framework for their motivation to thrive.

Image by Veronika Krämer (WMDE)CC BY-SA 4.0

Six ways to influence the volunteering situation

Take a look at our motivation model above. It illustrates the interplay between a person’s situation and their motives.[5] It also shows that there isn’t much you can do to change people’s motives or personal situation, but what you can do is try to make volunteering as easy and interesting as possible.

We’ve identified six practices in our work as volunteer supporters that improve the framework and conditions for volunteering:

  1. Appreciation is crucial to motivation: people need to know that their work is appreciated and valued. We’ve previously written four learning patterns about this, focusing on material, symbolic and interactional forms of appreciation.
    1. Give individual feedback
    2. Gifts, give-aways, and prizes
    3. Let others know
    4. A culture of appreciation
  1. Create an easily accessible overview of ways that volunteers can get support from you. For example, on your website show current projects, the possibilities for support (literature, cost reimbursement, etc.), and how to get in touch.
  1. Learn about the (different) wishes, needs, and expectations of your community. There are of course many ways of doing this. Informal and personal meetings can be important. On a larger scale, at Wikimedia Germany, we collect feedback and suggestions systematically all year round, and at Wikimedia Austria we do a yearly survey.
  1. Remember that motivation almost always changes over time – projects including volunteers should start in the near future, and binding long term commitments are usually not a good idea. Imagine a Wikipedian-in-residence project in a library. The Wikipedian is retired and prefers an open-ended arrangement, which the library is fine with. However, there’s a steady decline in the Wikipedian’s motivation; in the end he hardly shows up. Similarly, it’s not a good idea to plan projects more than a year into the future, as the situation of the volunteers carrying out the project is very likely to have changed by then.
  1. Volunteers are becoming more dynamic, meaning that  “bindings” often seem to have a de-motivating effect. For example, a person contributing as a photographer to Wikimedia Commons was offered a reimbursement for the purchase of post-processing software for one year. He politely declined, stressing the importance of his independence. The Wikipedian-in-residence example above also illustrates the dynamic volunteer – people’s priorities change faster, whether they’re students or retired.
  1. Be flexible and remember that there’s no solution or approach that’ll fit everyone. A simple example from our recent experience is that while one person appreciated a thank you phone call, another felt it was intrusive and would’ve preferred a short email instead. Therefore, consider what channels of communication might be preferred (email, phone, social media, etc.), making arrangements for travel costs according to what suits volunteers best (not everyone has a credit card), and working hours (should you be available in the evening or on weekends?).

Volunteer Supporters Network

A growing number of Wikimedia organizations are employing staff to focus specifically on volunteer support. While the communities usually are large and very differentiated, there’s often just one person functioning as a volunteer supporter. The Volunteer Supporters Network (VSN) is an attempt to pool some knowledge, and strengthen the contact and exchange between Wikimedia volunteer supporters internationally. You can find the full article about motivation on the network’s Meta-Wiki page, and read about our last meet-up.

Veronika Krämer, Volunteer Supporter, Wikimedia Germany (Deutschland)
Raimund Liebert, Community Manager, Wikimedia Austria
Anne Kierkegaard, International Relations Assistant, Wikimedia Germany


  1. The psychologist C. F. Graumann defines motivation as the “reciprocal action between motivated subject and motivating situation” (own translation). Graumann, C. F. (1969): Einführung in die Psychologie, 1. Motivation, p. 59.
  2. Hacket, Anne / Mutz, Gerd (2002): Empirische Befunde zum bürgerschaftlichen Engagement. In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Band 9, p. 44.
  3. Sprenger, Reinhard K. (2014): Mythos Motivation. Wege aus einer Sackgasse, p. 9.
  4. Frey, Bruno S. / Osterloh, Margit (eds.) (2002): Managing Motivation. Wie sie die neue Motivationsforschung für Ihr Unternehmen nutzen können, p. 28.
  5. The above depiction of motives for voluntary work is a combination of our findings from our session at the 2015 Wikimedia conference and the “volunteer functions” (Clary, E. G., Snyder, M., Ridge, R. D., Copeland, J., Stukas, A. A., Haugen, J., & Meine, P. (1998). Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1516-1530 – and accordingly Clary Snyder volunteer function inventory scale (PDF).

by Veronika Krämer, Raimund Liebert and Anne Kierkegaard at February 08, 2018 09:20 PM

Wikimedia Cloud Services

Ubuntu Trusty now deprecated for new WMCS instances

Long ago, the Wikimedia Operations team made the decision to phase out use of Ubuntu servers in favor of Debian. It's a long, slow process that is still ongoing, but in production Trusty is running on an ever-shrinking minority of our servers.

As Trusty becomes more of an odd duck in production, it grows harder to support in Cloud Services as well. Right now we have no planned timeline for phasing out Trusty instances (there are 238 of them!) but in anticipation of that phase-out we've now disabled creation of new Trusty VMs.

This is an extremely minor technical change (the base image is still there, just marked as 'private' in OpenStack Glance). Existing Trusty VMs are unaffected by this change, as are present ToolForge workflows.

Even though any new Trusty images represent additional technical debt, The WMCS team anticipates that there will still be occasional, niche requirements for Trusty (for example when testing behavior of those few remaining production Trusty instances, or to support software that's not yet packaged on Debian). These requests will be handled via phabricator requests and a bit of commandline magic.

by Andrew (Andrew Bogott) at February 08, 2018 09:17 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Wiki Education to attend the NAAAS Joint National Conference

Next week, I’ll be attending the 26th Joint National Conference of the National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates. The event brings members of the National Association of African American Studies, National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies, National Association of Native American Studies, International Association of Asian Studies and affiliates together once a year to engage with each other and discuss recent scholarship. Wiki Education is excited to be joining for the first time in 2018 as a commitment to our continued efforts to diversify Wikipedia’s editors and content.

When we launched our partnership with the National Women’s Studies Association in 2014 we did so with the goal of getting more women’s studies courses, as well as female students, involved in writing Wikipedia content as an assignment. Since then, our students and intructors have made a huge impact on the quality and quantity of women’s studies information on Wikipedia. But we recognize that the gender gap is not the only gap on Wikipedia.

With a commitment to growing and disseminating research related to African and African American, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, Native American and Indigenous culture and history, this conference will enable us to add diverse content and voices to Wikipedia. At the conference, we will recruit new instructors to teach with Wikipediaand institutions to sponsor Wikipedia Visiting Scholars. We are excited to help stimulate a greater public understanding of these topics.

If you will be attending the NAAAS Joint National Conference next week, find us in the Exhibit Hall on Monday, Feb 12th after 1pm through Friday, Feb 16th at the end of the day. If you can’t attend but would like to try an assignment in a future course, visit teach.wikiedu.org for more information.

by Samantha Weald at February 08, 2018 05:59 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia 2030: Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons

Photo by Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Today we’re releasing an extensive research report about Wikimedia’s role in shaping the future of the information commons. The report was created as part of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, as the Foundation engaged research teams to examine awareness and usage of Wikimedia projects and evolving information consumption habits. The consulting teams conducted desk research and spoke both with people familiar with and involved in the Wikimedia movement and expert observers who could inform the strategy process but who are not directly involved today. In one-on-one interviews, experts in geographic areas where the projects are most heavily used were asked to think about future trends in their fields and how the trends might apply to the Wikimedia movement’s strategy. This particular research focused on six broad topics that seemed most likely to further or frustrate the vision for growth that the Foundation embraces.

In this report, the Foundation’s staff and its consulting teams present top-level insights from this global process. Perspectives from interviewees around the world are also provided with context about their region and area of expertise. The report draws from six comprehensive research briefs, published on Wikimedia’s strategy website, which address these topics:

  • Demographics: Who is in the world in 2030? The report outlines global population trends, which project the highest population growth in places where Wikimedia has significant room to expand.
  • Emerging platforms: How will people around the world be using communications technologies to find, create, and share information? The report considers future technologies, from the imminent to the speculative, and examines what range of new hardware, software, and content production capabilities might mean for content creation and user access.
  • Misinformation: How will people find trustworthy sources of knowledge and information? The report explores how content creators and technologists can ensure that knowledge is trustworthy and also identifies threats to these efforts.
  • Literacy: How will the world learn in the future? The report forecasts that technology will transform learning and educational settings as well as expand the requirements for literacy beyond text and images.
  • Open knowledge: How will we share culture, ideas, and information? The report documents the global trend toward opening collections and archives to the public and making them freely available online, and explores ways the Wikimedia movement might partner with people and organizations to accelerate this sharing.
  • Expect the unexpected: How can we know what the world will look like in 2030and what the Wikimedia movement’s role will be in it?

The report proposes that a study of trends can never be truly predictive and introduces alternative visionary tools such as scenario planning and speculative social science fiction.

The consulting team published an additional research brief on the future of the digital commons, examining the political and commercial forces that could lead to the contraction or expansion of the open web. Looking at the constellation of issues most important to the Wikimedia community, this brief identifies access, censorship, privacy, copyright, and intermediary liability as active battlefronts.

The fate of the digital commons is the single subject that rises above and intersects with each of the other areas of research. The commons of the future will shape the environment that ultimately fosters or blocks all of the Wikimedia projects’ work. Thus, this report weaves research findings about the future of the commons throughout.

Specifically, the report highlights growing concerns across civil society about the quality of and access to open knowledge online, as well as compounding threats to the Wikimedia movement and its open knowledge allies. Between now and 2030, open knowledge advocates face headwinds that include censorship by governments and corporations, internet shutdowns, surveillance of users, information monopolies, and troubling developments such as the arrests of scholars and journalists operating in closed societies.

The Wikimedia movement is positioned to work toward potential solutions to these threats. Despite the trend toward a “darkening globe,” some leaders see the Wikimedia movement as among the brightest hopes and most inspiring exemplars of the global digital commons.

The Wikimedia movement has immediate internal challenges to address, including adapting to an increasingly mobile internet, recruiting a new generation of volunteers, and expanding its partnerships with schools and “GLAM” organizations (i.e. galleries, libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions that have access to knowledge as their mission). But Wikimedia and its open knowledge allies, working together, can lift up people everywhere, empowering communities through access and participation in knowledge creation and sharing. Across the interviews and salons, there was a clarion call for the building of this larger, more active, and multi-partner open knowledge movement.

For extended narratives, many more citations, and community discussion of the research, visit the Wikimedia strategy page that aggregates into a single web directory not only this work but also the totality of the Foundation’s strategy process: 2030.wikimedia.org.

The report concludes with an analysis of cross-cutting themes that arose from the research, as well as a set of recommendations and discussion questions for the movement and its partners. The goal of these final sections is not to close the discussion. Instead, it is to set the stage for the next phase of work for the Foundation and the movement: to move from strategies to actions that not only will preserve what has already been built, but also make the projects useful and vital for billions of future Wikimedia users.

by Wikimedia Foundation at February 08, 2018 05:32 PM

Wikimedia UK

3000 new articles added to the Welsh Wicipedia

Volunteers at the National Library of Wales have been translating important health articles from English into Welsh – image by Jason Evans CC BY-SA 4.0

By Jason Evans, National Wikipedian for Wales

Improving health related content on the Welsh Wicipedia

The Welsh language Wicipedia is the most viewed website in the Welsh language, and articles about health related issues are among the most frequently viewed. And yet only around 2% of Welsh articles cover this subject, compared to more than 6% in English.

Welsh speakers deserve access to quality health information in their native tongue, but currently hugely important topics such as cancer, mental health and medical treatments have very little coverage. So, in July 2017 the National LIbrary of Wales, with Welsh Government funding and Wikimedia UK support, embarked on a 9 month project to improve this content. The project was called Wici-Iechyd (Wiki-Health).

A series of edit-a-thons and translation projects has already lead to the creation of over 250 hand written articles. Many have been translated from English articles prepared for use in other languages by the WikiMed project. Other are derived from text released on an open licence by project partners including the British Lung Foundation, WJEC and the Mental health information service Meddwl.org.

The big news this month is the creation of 2700 articles about human genes. The articles were created using information from Wikidata and PubMed and images from Wikimedia Commons. Since all articles about genes follow a similar format it was possible to generate and upload the 2700 articles en mass. The articles include information about the location and structure of the genes as well as synonyms. All include a bibliography with the 5 most recent publications about each gene. Wikimedia UK were involved in producing a Wikidata Infobox which pulls in an array of data, images and citations. Naturely time was also spent ensuring Wikidata had Welsh labels for items which were likely to be called on by the infobox.

Members of the Royal College and Nursing improving content at an edit-a-thon in Cardiff – image by Jason Evans CC BY-SA 4.0

It is hoped that many future improvements to health related content will link to these articles about genes giving a greater depth of information on the subject.

This upload alone represents a 2.8% increase in the total article count for Welsh Wikipedia, however with more articles being prepared, on diseases, drugs and medical pioneers we could see close to a 5% increase by the end of the project. It is likely that health related content as a percentage of the total article count will be comparable to, or better than the ratio in the much larger English Wikipedia.

The project is funded until the end of March, but it is hoped the Wici-Iechyd will continue to thrive as a Wiki project on the Welsh Wicipedia.

by John Lubbock at February 08, 2018 11:01 AM

February 07, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

What do students think of a Wikipedia assignment in the classroom?

Dr. Deborah Stine is a Professor of the Practice in Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. This last year, she taught with Wikipedia in two of her courses, Environmental Politics and Policy (Spring 2017) and Emerging Energy Policies (Fall 2017). Here, she shares how her students responded to the assignment.

Dr. Deborah Stine
Image: File:Deborah D. Stine, PhD.jpg, Deborah Stine, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In February of 2016, I attended the annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where I saw an interesting session focused on innovative teaching methods. This was where I first encountered Wiki Education and the concept of a Wikipedia assignment.

The idea of having my undergraduate and graduate students in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) make edits to Wikipedia instead of writing a traditional term paper was new to me. This teaching method intrigued me as a way for my students to better understand the opportunities and challenges of Wikipedia in its use as an information resource for policymakers and the public, and as a way for them to learn how to assess the quality of and critique the work of others — a critical part of any policy analysis. I also thought that the Wikipedia assignment could also provide a useful outlet for the hard work they already did on their papers, and provide a way to disseminate that knowledge. At CMU, our students do a great deal of public service projects, and I thought that the Wikipedia assignment would be a good way to make a contribution to public knowledge in environmental and energy policy. I approached Wiki Education staff about incorporating it into my Spring 2017 environmental policy and politics course starting just a month later, and I was off!

The initial experiment went well, and fast-forwarding to this Fall 2017 semester, I decided to incorporate the Wikipedia assignment into my course on emerging energy policies, modifying the class slightly to incorporate student feedback from the Spring environmental policy class. This time, I suggested students work on a few articles together before going it alone, specifically on Australian energy policy, a topic that was in the news at the time. Because the topic was timely, public and policymakers were likely to find an up-to-date Wikipedia article useful, increasing the likelihood that students would recognize the importance of their own work.

Students then worked on individual topics. In the first half of the semester, students focused on their Wikipedia work, developing their background research and literature review for a topic they chose from the site. In the second half of the semester, students practiced the policy analysis techniques they learned in class on policy options they developed based on their Wikipedia work.

In student feedback that I received about the use of Wikipedia for the their topic, public visibility of their work was a big draw. Students liked being able to focus on a topic they found interesting, while also doing productive work for the community. Seeing the final article on Wikipedia and knowing that anyone could read their work was a fulfilling take-away.

Students also enjoyed the collaborative nature of the Wikipedia assignment, including working with peers, their instructor, and Wiki Education staff to push their work live. Learning about Wikipedia’s policies, how to edit, and how to create pages gave students valuable perspective on a resource they had previously taken for granted. They cited Wiki Education’s online training modules and peer review process as essential tools in that learning. Wiki Education’s Dashboard tool, where students completed trainings throughout the course timeline, also provided milestones for students to measure their progress throughout the project. The Wikipedia assignment was new to them, and they liked developing the new skills that it required. These skills include how to write in a different tone and for a mass audience; and how to edit an online, open source site. These are skills they can now add to their resumes.

Students also came away with greater respect for Wikipedia’s legitimacy. In encountering the barriers that a Wikipedia article faces in being published, they came to appreciate the information that does make it onto the site. They found it challenging, however, to decide how to contribute to Wikipedia, since they were not accustomed to Wikipedia’s neutral, encyclopedic writing style. This neutral writing style is important, however, for policy analysis, so it was a good skill for them to learn. Finding sources on energy and environmental policy also proved to be a challenge, since Wikipedia has limitations on the use of government sources. Sometimes, students worked to improve articles that didn’t have clear reference sections, requiring them to track down where the article’s information really came from.

85% of students preferred the Wikipedia assignment over a traditional executive summary assignment.

Despite the challenges and unfamiliar territory, the majority of students responded that they preferred the Wikipedia assignment over a traditional executive summary/paper assignment.

I found that Wiki Education’s new sample grading rubric was a welcome addition in structuring the end of my course this term. I look forward to the continual improvements they make to their platforms and guidance. In sum, I will continue to use Wiki Education for my policy analysis for engineers classes, while continuing to tweak it based on student comments.

Interested in teaching with Wikipedia? Visit teach.wikiedu.org or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org to learn more.

Header image: File:Massachusetts Maritime Academy wind turbine 2629146705 601e4bce19 o.jpgDawn, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at February 07, 2018 06:37 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Creative Commons launches memorial fund grants and fellowship in memory of Bassel Khartabil

Photo by freebassel, CC0.

The Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund, launched in August 2017 at the behest of his family, will provide grants between $1,000 and $10,000 to organizations, groups, and individual grantees working to advance collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world. The Memorial Fund is accepting grant applications until March 24th. These grants will be awarded to individuals or groups whose work embodies the legacy and impact of Bassel Khartabil, and whose projects are deeply intertwined with Creative Commons’ core mission and values. Applicants from the Creative Commons Global Network and broader Open movement are strongly encouraged. Creative Commons gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund from London Media Trust, the family of Bassel Khartabil, and individual donors. Learn more at the following link.

The Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship supports outstanding individuals developing open culture in their communities under adverse circumstances. This unique and life-changing fellowship is based on a one-year term, eligible for renewal, and includes a stipend of $50,000 USD as well as associated, supplemental funds to support other costs and overhead.

The fellowship is organized by Creative Commons, Mozilla, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Jimmy Wales Foundation, #NEWPALMYRA, Fabricatorz Foundation, and others. It seeks to catalyze free culture, particularly in societies vulnerable to attacks on freedom of expression and free access to knowledge. Special consideration will be given to applicants operating within closed societies and in developing economies where other forms of support are scarce. Applications from the Levant and wider MENA region are greatly encouraged. Creative Commons gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship from the organizing partners as well as the family of Bassel Khartabil. More information and application is available at this link.

The fellowship and memorial fund are part of Creative Commons’ three-year commitment to promote the values important to Bassel’s work and life: open culture, radical sharing, free knowledge, remix, collaboration, courage, optimism, and humanity.

For more information or inquiries, please reach out to info@creativecommons.org.

Jennie Rose Halperin, Communications Manager
Creative Commons

More information about the fellowship can be found in the Wikimedia Blog’s fellowship announcement from last August, and you can learn more about global culture advocate Bassel Khartabil from previous posts.

This post has been republished from Creative Commons’ blog, and its text is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

by Jennie Rose Halperin at February 07, 2018 06:09 PM

See the winners from the 2017 Wiki Science Competition in Ukraine

Taking first place in the “People in science” category were two archaeologists photographing an ancient object to “capture” it before re-filling the site with dirt. Bilozerske settlement, IV-III century B.C. (Kherson Oblast). Photo by Sasha Bu, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wiki Science Contest is one of the three photo contests organised by Wikimedia Ukraine, the local independent Wikimedia affiliate in the country. Its goal is to nourish Wikimedia Commons—and eventually Wikipedia articles—with scientific photos and non-photographic media. The contest was held in Ukraine in 2017 for the third time, and the winners are below.

120 participants took part in the Ukrainian-specific section of the Wiki Science Contest, uploading 1,035 images, most were uploaded into the living organisms category. The total made Ukraine the third-largest contributing country in the international part of the contest, ahead of sixty other countries and behind only the United States and Russia.

Wikimedia Ukraine organised the photo contest, in partnership with Days of Science, My Science, and the non-profit Unia Scientifica, which helped to reach academic audiences and researchers. The contest jury was comprised of five experts in their fields: physicist Anton Senenko, archaeologist Evelina Kravchenko, geologist Serhii Vovniuk, ecologist and zoologist Nataliia Atamas, biochemist and microscopist Kyrylo Pyrshev, and astrophysicist Maksym Tsizh.

Winners were chosen for seven categories: Non-photographic media, Astronomy, Image sets, Microscopy, People in science, Living organisms and General. The awards ceremony was held at the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in December 2017.

Have a look at the first-place winners, sorted by category!

Microscopy (above): Microcrystals of thiacyanine dye under microscope. Image by Ihor Panas, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Non-photographic media: Merging of Milky Way-like galaxy with satellite. Example of dynamical friction in astrophysics. This video cannot be displayed here due to technical reasons; please view it on Wikimedia Commons. Video by Ігор Зінченко, CC BY 4.0.

Living organisms: Tiger beetle, male and female. Iran, Balochistan. Image by Gubin Olexander, CC BY-SA 4.0.

General category: Iron oxide in a microtube. Image by Ihor Panas, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Astronomy: Satellite image of “algae bloom” phenomenon at the Kakhovka reservoir. Image by Tomchenko Olha, CC BY 4.0.

Image sets: Fragment of the life cycle of slime mold: a transition from plasmodium to fruiting bodies. Image by Kateryna Kot, CC BY-SA 4.0.


Winners listen to the jury members, like they are once again students attending a lecture. Image by Anna Khrobolova/Wikimedia Ukraine, CC0.

Handing out awards to the winners. Image by Сарапулов, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Vira Motorko, Wikimedia Ukraine

You can see all of the winners, including second and third places, on Wikimedia Commons (in English) or on Wikimedia Ukraine’s blog (in Ukrainian).

by Vira Motorko at February 07, 2018 05:13 PM

Brion Vibber

emscripten versus IE 11: arithmetic optimization for ogv.js

ogv.js is a web video & audio playback engine for supporting the free & open Ogg and WebM formats in browsers that don’t support them natively, such as Safari, Edge, and Internet Explorer. We use it at Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, where we don’t currently allow the more common MP4 family of file formats due to patent concerns.

IE 11, that old nemesis, still isn’t quite gone, and it’s definitely the hardest to support. It’s several years old now, with all new improvements going only into Edge on Windows 10… so no WebAssembly, no asm.js optimizations, and in general it’s just kind of ….. vveerryy ssllooww compared to any more current browser.

But for ogv.js I still want to support it as much as possible. I found that for WebM videos using the VP8 or VP9 codecs, there was a *huge* slowdown in IE compared to other browsers, and wanted to see if I could pick off some low-hanging fruit to at least reduce the gap a bit and improve playback for devices right on the edge of running smoothly at low resolutions…

Profiling in IE is a bit tough since the dev tools often skew JS performance in weird directions… but always showed that a large bottleneck was the Math.imul polyfill.

Math.imul, on supporting browsers, is a native function that implements 32-bit integer multiplication correctly and very very quickly, including all the weird overflow conditions that can result from multiplying large numbers — this is used in the asm.js code produced by the emscripten compiler to make sure that multiplication is both fast and correct.

But on IE 11 it’s not present, so a replacement function (“polyfill”) is used by emscripten instead. This does several bit shifts, a couple multiplications, blah blah details, anyway even when the JIT compiler inlines the function, it’s slower than necessary.

I hacked together a quick test to search the generated asm.js code for calls to the minified reference to Math.imul, and replace them with direct multiplication… and found significant performance improvements!

I also found it broke some of the multiplications by using wrong order of operations though, so replaced it with a corrected transformation that instead of a regex on the code, uses a proper JS parser, walks the tree for call sites, and replaces them with direct multiplication… after some more confusion with my benchmarking, I confirmed that the updated code was still faster:

This is about a 15-20% improvement, plus or minus, which seems a pretty significant bump!

Of course more modern browsers like current versions of Safari and Edge will use the Web Assembly version of ogv.js anyway, and are several times faster…


by brion at February 07, 2018 07:07 AM

February 06, 2018

Wikimedia Scoring Platform Team

Status Update (January 30, 2018)


  • Deployed Revscoring 2.0. Each scoring model includes statistics that can be used to query and choose an appropriate threshold depending on the use case.
  • Rewrote ORES extension, improving code quality and test coverage. Failures will cause graceful degradation rather than breaking pages that rely on ORES.
  • GCI happened and some work has been done on wikilabels.
  • The ORES labs cluster has been migrated to Debian Stretch, and we're ready to migrate production clusters.
  • "draft topic" model is trained and it works. Support for the model in ORES is ongoing.
  • New languages, new campaigns, new models. We've deployed advanced edit quality models to Simple English, Spanish, and Swedish Wikipedia, Spanish Wikibooks, and basic edit quality to Icelandic Wikipedia and Spanish Wikiquote. Preliminary edit quality campaigns are finished for Hungarian and Serbian Wikipedia.
  • JADE (auditing system) work is continuing, we have a database schema designed, some code written for the backend service, and have planned an event-based architecture plus content-handled Jade and Jade_talk namespaces within MediaWiki.
  • Draftquality data is cached in the ORES extension and is made available to other extensions.


T166045: Scoring platform team FY18 Q1
T178428: Respond to press inquiry re. algorithms & bots in Wikipedia
T182823: Talk to reporter from OZY

Draft topic

T172321: Build mid-level WikiProject category training set
T179311: Generate mid-level WikiProject categories
T181166: Revscoring: Statistic for multilabel classification
T183580: class weights support for multilabel classification


T170954: Set up working group for JADE
T174685: Create list of ORES collaborators (focus on language asset helpers)
T175192: Design JADE scoring schema
T178101: Post about judgments/endorsements/preference
T178102: Post about suppression for JADE comments
T178103: Post about public analytics for JADE
T179298: Post about splitting "revision" and "edit" conceptually
T181098: Implement basic path structure for JADE (judgements)
T183598: Post about using MCR for JADE
Potential event-passing design, https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/File:JADE_event_schema.svg


T159105: ORES services should have vagrant roles
T168672: Grant AWight admin access to ORES pypi repos
T173251: Have CI merge research/ores/wheels changes
T174660: [Discuss] Moving from nosetests to pytest
T175651: Grafana has confusing or wrong scale for "scores errored" graph
T176914: Wire statistics into test model included with our Vagrant role.
T179862: Keep statistics about ores service hits for storing thresholds
T181067: Parallelize scap for ORES
T181544: Investigate scb1001 and scb1002 available memory graphs in Grafana
T184077: ORES MediaWiki-Vagrant roles should be ported to Stretch


T139957: Add "info" URL to campaign data so that we can link to campaign page
T155116: Develop a backup strategy for campaigns/tasks/labels
T155440: Add notice to on-wiki labeling pages (e.g. en:WP:Labels) about deprecation.
T171768: Allow Wiki Labels API to list inactive campaigns
T175724: Oauth login does not return the user to the previous page
T175726: Error messages should not contain relative paths or error codes
T176331: Deploy edit quality models for eswikibooks
T178004: Add list of labelers to campaign stats (sort by labels submitted)
T179015: Introduce and create pytest for flask application of the wikilabels AI service
T179296: Remove usages of nosetest and replace it with pytest
T183068: Wikilabel interface in Hungarian has uninformative action buttons, due to translations not updating
T183196: Deploy wikilabels mid-December 2017


Migrating to stretch:

T182799: Make sure ORES is compatible with stretch
T184296: Convert CloudVPS instances to stretch.
T184765: Back up ores-misc-01 to ores-staging-01
T184766: Convert ores-misc-01 to stretch

Migrating to revscoring 2.0

T175180: Deploy ORES (revscoring 2.0)
T179712: ORES 500s when model_info lookup fails due to a key error
T179838: Update ORES deploy wheels with revscoring 2.0.9
T179296: Remove usages of nosetest and replace it with pytest

T163786: Make ORES documentation translatable
T174402: Review and fix file handle management in worker and celery processes
T175627: UK dictionary broken in production
T178668: /scores/<context> stopped working
T179064: ORES internal server error for edit with many added links
T179098: Deployment to canary causes an import error on docopt
T179509: id string in ORES does not include "features"
T179629: Add link to FAQ to ORES homepage
T179711: ORES 500 errors on a threshold lookup request
T179837: Deploy ORES early Nov 2017
T180115: [regression] ORES filters are not available on French Wikipedia anymore
T180496: Clean up ORES wheels Makefile
T181103: Announce the ORES FAQ
T181183: Improvements to ORES deployment documentation and process
T181187: ORES beta cluster config should be as close to production as possible
T182614: Investigate why ORES logs are being written to syslog despite explicit logging config. Fix.
T184276: Beta Cluster ORES celery worker dies
T184282: Move beta cluster ORES to its own machine
T185148: Update docs, monitoring, etc. for new labs servers

Editquality (Vandalism detection)

T167968: Complete edit quality campaign for Hungarian Wikipedia
T174558: Deploy damaging/goodfaith model for svwiki
T176134: Train & test damaging/goodfaith model for eswiki
T176332: Train/test edit quality models for eswikibooks
T177762: Edit quality campaign for es.wikiquote
T178108: Edit quality campaign for Serbian Wikipedia
T180686: Wikidata beta edit filters are showing every edit in watchlist as damaging
T181099: Train/test reverted model for Icelandic
T181848: Experiment with using English Wikipedia models on Simple English
T181849: Edit quality campaign for simple.wikipedia.org


New languages

T178524: Add language support for Icelandic
T182612: Implement language support for Catalan

T175180: Deploy ORES (revscoring 2.0)
T175627: UK dictionary broken in production
T177544: Revscoring 2.0 takes up too much memory
T177636: Reduce label_thresholds granularity
T179507: Compare coverage reports of migrating to pytest

ORES extension

Extension rewrite

T177421: Cached thresholds should be invalidated for new model versions.
T178792: ORESFetchScoreJob: RuntimeException No model available for [goodfaith]
T181334: Split Cache.php to different services
T181892: Rewrite Stats.php
T182111: Cached thresholds should be purged when model version is incremented
T182942: Tests should have covered regression in T182936
T183468: Deprecate CheckModelVersions and integrate it with the extension workflow
T183762: oresscores is not working at all
T184127: Add models when initializing the table
T184140: Increase coverage of ORES extension
T184142: Refactor Scoring.php
T184554: Deprecate Extension:ORES "beta" mode
T184775: How do I test my extension's maintenance scripts?

T154175: Clean up failure ratio monitoring and set up an alarm when it goes more than a certain threshold
T175053: Make RCFilters compatible with both the old and new thresholds APIs
T176183: Store draftquality data in ores extension
T176588: Query action on API returns the rvcontinue value that point to itself causes infinite loop
T179107: ORES service erroring, in a way that throws exceptions in Extension:ORES
T179430: ORES extension failing to parse scoring response
T179596: Enable draftquality model in ORES extension for enwiki
T179602: Rewind revscoring 1/2 compatibility hacks
T179830: Notice: Undefined property: stdClass::$ores_damaging_threshold in /srv/mediawiki/php-1.31.0-wmf.6/extensions/ORES/includes/Hooks.php on line 602
T179861: Collect all data for draftquality model in enwiki
T179862: Keep statistics about ores service hits for storing thresholds
T180026: Drop oresc_rev_predicted_model index
T180045: Review and deploy schema change on dropping oresc_rev_predicted_model index
T180450: ORES thresholds for Wikidata is too strict
T180633: ORES RC filters missing in beta cluster, fetching thresholds fails
T181006: Watchlist and RecentChanges failure due to ORES on frwiki and ruwiki
T181010: [Spike] Write reports about why Ext:ORES is helping cause server 500s and write tasks to fix
T181168: Replicate RC/WL failures in Beta
T181191: Make ORES-consuming pages more robust to ORES errors
T183862: Recent Changes is broken on Dutch Wikipedia Beta on Beta Cluster

by awight (Adam Roses Wight) at February 06, 2018 05:45 PM

Magnus Manske

The File (Dis)connect

I’ll be going on about Wikidata, images, and tools. Again. You have been warned.

I have written a few image-related Wikimedia tools over the years (such as FIST, WD-FIST, to name two big ones), because I believe that images in articles and Wikidata items are important, beyond their adorning effect. But despite everyone’s efforts, images on Wikidata (the Wikimedia site with the most images) are still few and far between. For example, less than 8% of taxa have an image; across all of Wikidata, it’s rather around 5% of items.

On the other hand, Commons now has ~45M files, and other sites like Flickr also have vast amounts of freely licensed files. So how to bring the two of them together? One problem is that, lacking prior knowledge, matching an item to an image means full-text searching the image site, which even these days takes time for thousands of items (in addition to potential duplication of searches, stressing APIs unnecessarily). A current example for “have items, need images” is the Craig Newmark Pigeon Challenge by the WMF.

The answer (IMHO) is to prepare item-file-matches beforehand; take a subset of items (such as people or species) which do not have images, and search for them on Commons, Flickr, etc. Then store the results, and present them to the user upon request. I had written some quick one-off scans like that before, together with the odd shoe-string interface; now I have consolidated the data, the scan scripts, and the interface into a new tool, provisionally called File Candidates. Some details:

  • Already seeded with plenty of candidates, including >85K species items, >53K humans, and >800 paintings (more suggestions welcome)
  • Files are grouped by topic (e.g. species)
  • Files can be located on Commons or Flickr; more sites are possible (suggestions welcome)
  • One-click transfer of files from Flickr to Commons (with does-it-exists-on-Commons check)
  • One-/Two-click (one for image, two for other properties) adding of the file to the Wikidata item
  • Some configuration options (click the “⚙” button)
  • Can use a specific subset of items via SPARQL (example: Pigeon Challenge for species)

There is another aspect of this tool I am excited about: Miriam is looking into ranking images by quality through machine learning, and has given me a set of people-file-matches, which I have already incorporated into my “person” set, including the ranking. From the images that users add through this tool, we can then see how much the ranking algorithm agrees with the human decision. This can set us on a path towards AI-assisted editing!

ADDENDUM: Video with demo usage!

by Magnus at February 06, 2018 05:12 PM

February 05, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

Roundup: African-American Theatre

This week, we’re showing off student work that highlights African-American-centered theatre companies and plays, as well as African-American playwrights. The artists involved in the theatrical arena have contributed notable works to American culture that, now, Wikipedia readers can read all about. Thanks to students in Ali-Reza Mirsajadi’s course at Emerson College, African-American Theater and Culture, there are three new articles out in the world that didn’t previously exist.

Eisa Davis is a playwright, singer-songwriter, and actor. She is also the niece of activist Angela Davis. Eisa has worked in television as an actor on the show Hart of Dixie. She’s worked as a resident playwright at New Dramatists, where she received two awards for her work. And she’s currently a fellow at the Symphony Space in New York, and has two albums of her music. Her artistic philosophy follows the Ghanaian principle of Sankofa, which involves an examining of her lineage and personal history for artistic inspiration. She uses her art to understand and answer questions she’s grappling with. “Theatre,” she has said, “is one of the few public spaces we have for active contemplation.”

The New Federal Theatre is named for the Federal Theatre Project, which provided resources to American theatre and art programs during the Great Depression. It is a theatre company in the lower east side of Manhattan, founded in 1970. Many actors and playwrights have received national attention through their work at the New Federal Theatre. The theatre’s mission is to center minorities and women in the mainstream of American theatre “by training artists for the profession, and by presenting plays by minorities and women to integrated, multicultural audiences—plays which evoke the truth through beautiful and artistic re-creations of ourselves.”

The article about the play, Familiar, now exists thanks to these students. The play is written by Danai Gurira. It premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in Connecticut in 2015, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Critics appreciated the work’s humorous dealing with the complicated realities of immigration and assimilation. The play centers on a Zimbabwean family living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As they prepare for a daughter’s wedding, the family argues over a Zimbabwean wedding tradition. Throughout the work, characters grapple with tensions between their Zimbabwean culture and the American, Christian traditions into which they’re assimilating. The play examines what African-American identity means within this family and what happens when ideals clash.

Thanks to the students in Mirsajadi’s course, Wikipedia’s millions of readers now have access to better information about African-American theater. Through Wiki Education’s tools and online trainings, the students learned how to add meaningful course content to Wikipedia.

Want to incorporate a similar assignment into your classroom? Visit teach.wikiedu.org to learn more, or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.

Image: File:Danai Gurira (9347312647).jpgGage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Cassidy Villeneuve at February 05, 2018 07:30 PM

Neha Jha

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

A few days ago, my mentors reminded me something related to my proposal. Then I went back and had a good look at the proposal. Then it hit me, more than 70% of the tasks are done and I have a complete month to look at more challenging tasks. I still remember the time when I was worried sick about completing all the tasks written in my proposal. That was the reason I started my work before officially starting the internship.

Well, I was anxiously waiting for the phase 1 results. When there wasn’t any email, I finally gathered the courage to enquire about my status from my mentors. I was literally dancing when they told me I passed.

Most of us feel imposter syndrome at some point in our lives and it’s absolutely alright to have this feeling. The important thing is to get over this as soon as possible. My internship with Wikimedia Foundation has helped me tremendously in overcoming my imposter syndrome. My mentors have been really supportive of me. Their encouragement and appreciation have made me super confident.

Image Source: http://errantscience.com/

My current task is to prevent server-side session cleanup for Grants app. I am really trying to wrap my head around it. Hopefully, this will be complete by the end of the week. I wish to tackle more backend related problems in future. There are a few stretch goals in my proposal that I am determined to complete. Wish me luck :)

by Neha Jha at February 05, 2018 07:16 PM

Vinitha VS

Reaching out

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
– Marie Curie

Yet another two weeks have gone by. I am on track. And like anyone else, when I got stuck while coding or when I got some error message which made me look like an idiot, I wasted no time in googling my issue and finding the cause. With the internet at my fingertips, I am powerful(evil laugh). This was not the case a few years back. Living in one of the villages in India, I have struggled with the low-speed internet connections and poor response for repairing/replacing my ‘lightning-struck modem’.  Why am I talking about internet connection in this blog? Access to information is one of the main contributing factors to progress in this digital era. When there are 45 million rural households in India where electricity has not reached, what can I tell about the internet?

It is not just unfortunate, but also sinful to deprive the people, especially students, of their internet access. I cannot imagine anyone knowing about open source projects or the wonderful world of programming without an internet connection and a laptop/PC. Though internet connectivity using mobile phones has gone up, we should ask ourselves if that is going to benefit the student community enough. Can they successfully use MOOCS, get to know about the (life changing)opportunities, enjoy coding, on a 5-inch screen? Of course, something is better than nothing.

Another interesting fact is that even among those fortunate few who get access to the internet, the women/girls have to take another step back. The ridiculous reasons behind this are that girls are expected to stay at home and also that they do not have control over their own finances.

Every day of this internship, I am blessed in many ways. This includes very supportive organizations, especially  MediaWiki, my mentors and of course an electricity and internet connection.  This internship is not just an opportunity for self-development, the good intention behind it to bring about inclusive development is also a good life lesson. Let this good deed breed more good deeds.


by vinithavs at February 05, 2018 06:54 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Upload your pigeon photos to Wikimedia Commons in honor of Craig Newmark

Photo by Alan D. Wilson, CC BY-SA 2.5.

Here are some things you might know about Craig Newmark:

  • In December, Craig asked people to celebrate his 65th birthday by donating to the Wikimedia Foundation in his honor. He made a pledge to match every birthday donation up to US$650,000, calling it his birthday gift to open knowledge, and to the future of Wikipedia, which he says is “where facts go to live.”

And here is something you may not know about Craig Newmark:

  • He loves birds, especially pigeons.

Why pigeons, Craig?

“They’re practically ubiquitous, living everywhere on Earth except the Sahara and the poles,” says Newmark. “They’re amazingly diverse and beautiful. They can adapt to almost any environment—but that doesn’t mean some species haven’t been pushed to extinction. In a funny way, they’re a lot like Wikipedia. Maybe that’s why I love them both so much—Wikipedia and pigeons. Ubiquitous, diverse, resilient, never to be taken for granted.”

So what better way to honor Craig Newmark than through combining his love of pigeons with his love of Wikipedia?

That’s where we need your help. And your pigeon photos.

Photo by Sierra Communications, attribution required.

Help us honor Craig Newmark through #wikipigeon

When we asked Craig what we could do to thank him, he said that he wanted to see more pictures of pigeons on  Wikimedia Commons, which is a freely licensed repository for educational media content that hosts most of the images used on Wikipedia.  We’re calling it #wikipigeon, and our goal is to get 100 new pigeon photos on Wikimedia Commons and train 100 new people on how to upload their pigeon photos.

By sharing your photographs on Wikimedia Commons (instructions below), you can ensure that your pigeon photos can be used as an educational material around the world.

There are detailed instructions on how to upload your pigeon pictures to Wikimedia Commons. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Take some pigeon photos.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Go to the Upload Wizard and select photos to donate.
  4. Select “This file is my own work”.
  5. Choose a title, describe what the photo shows, and add the category “Unidentified pigeon breeds.” If you’re sure of the exact species, add that category instead.
  6. Click next, and you’re done!

Thank you—both for adding to the world’s collection of free and open knowledge, and helping us thank Craig Newmark!

Wikimedia Commons accepts all kinds of educational media content, and it’s all freely licensed—available for anyone to use, anywhere, with no fees. Exact copyright licenses can vary, but generally you need to credit the author and share any remixes under a similar license. Join them today!

by Wikimedia Foundation at February 05, 2018 05:37 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

The Future of Facts: Informing and engaging citizens through Wikipedia

In the age of fake news and the sheer volume of information on the Internet, having trustworthy digital resources is more important than ever. We no longer turn to publishers, subject matter experts, or even news outlets for most of our information – we look to Wikipedia.

But even one of our most relied upon sources of information can always be improved. Wikipedia is edited by volunteers, with varying interests and concerns. The site still lacks detailed and accurate articles about many topics, including those that are relevant to informed citizens.

That’s why we’re launching a new initiative to improve articles relevant to an informed citizenry. Wiki Education’s Future of Facts initiative will improve Wikipedia’s coverage of subject areas like public policy, political science, law, history, environmental science, and sociology.

People turn to the Internet for information about topics in current conversation. There are two scenarios here. One, they find the Wikipedia article, likely among the top hits on Google. So they go there for a summary of the topic, feeling they can trust the information they find. Or two, there isn’t a Wikipedia article about the topic yet — or the article is minimal and lacking important details — and they’re directed to other sites with varying degrees of fact-checking and accuracy. How can people who don’t have robust media literacy skills parse out the real information from fake content?

The Wikipedia editing community holds itself accountable to facts, to the neutral reporting of those facts, and to the constant improvement of information to reflect the latest, most inclusive knowledge. But we still have a long way to go in making Wikipedia the sum of all human knowledge.

Over 450 million users visit Wikipedia every month. Even small improvements to an article can make a huge impact on those readers. The Wikipedia article on Kalief Browder, for example, didn’t paint the full picture of the young African-American man’s tragic fate at the hands of the criminal justice system. A student in Wiki Education’s Classroom Program added just 26 words to the article’s introduction, shedding light on the tragic circumstances of the young man’s death. This introduction, now much more accurate, shows up on the side bar whenever his named is searched for on Google. Through our Future of Facts initiative, we support more of this kind of important work.

Student engagement with topics relevant to the Future of Facts relates to the concept of digital citizenship, defined in its Wikipedia article as “the promotion of equal economic opportunity, as well as increased political participation and civic duty,” through digital tools. We’ve discussed digital citizenship before, and it’s a value we have here at Wiki Education.

Katie Webber, a Rice University student in our program, proposed editing Wikipedia as a civic duty:

“I call my senators, I vote, I donate to the ACLU, and now, I edit Wikipedia,” she wrote in her reflective blog post.

When students identify gaps in content on Wikipedia and work to address those gaps, they can have a tremendous impact on public knowledge. Andrew, for example, a student at York University who completed a Wikipedia assignment in one of his courses, created the Wikipedia article on the digital divide in Canada and received recognition from his university for doing so. Other students have contributed content related to resources and historical contexts around domestic violence. They’ve expanded articles about censorship and engaged political science topics like the Arab Spring.

Not only do students in our Classroom Program make this information accessible to the public, but Wiki Education Visiting Scholars are also identifying and improving heavily trafficked articles in these subject areas. And through our Wikipedia Fellows pilot program, we’re also engaging academics to use their expertise to improve and create articles relevant to an informed citizenry in discipline-specific areas.

Our Future of Facts initiative will empower millions of Wikipedia’s readers to participate in public affairs based on factual and reliable information. Help us expand our impact. Consider supporting Wiki Education at wikiedu.org/donate.

We have an obligation to ensure facts hold weight in our society’s future. How will you help protect the future of facts?

To learn more about our Future of Facts initiative, please visit: wikiedu.org/future-of-facts/. To find out more about our Classroom Program, visit teach.wikiedu.org or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org.

Image: “Triumph of the truth.” File:2011 05 17 Thueringer Staatskanzlei (8841-2-3 com).jpg, Gerd Seidel / Rob Irgendwer, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Frank Schulenburg at February 05, 2018 05:13 PM

Mohammed Bachounda

جيدو - و من معه

Guido Barindelli. 

By Hadi CC4.0 from commons
وجدت هذا البوست غير منشور منذ سنتين فقررت  إتمامه و نشره   في خلال مشاركتي في مؤتمر ويكيمانيا  في إيطاليا  

قد يكون محتواه مختلفا عن ما قبل لكن الأمر جميل أن ينشر في مثل 
جيدو أو غيدو  الحرف غير منطوق  في العربية  هو إيطالي من سكان قرية إيسينو لاريو  هو من المتطوعين في البلدية مدرس في الجامعة حيث يلقي دروسا تطبيقية في العلاج الطبيعي أي في العلاج بالحركات الطبيعية للجسم.
أبهرنا هو و أصدقاؤه أبنا القرية الصغير على تخوم مدينة ميلانو. على أبواب جبال الألب الشامخة
  كلهم متطوعون  وهذا ماأبهرني  تطوع بكل معانيه لأشخاض خارقين للعادة

في الغالب أو في المنطق العقلي من يتطوع هو من ليس لديه ما يفعله من نشاطات معتبرة
لكن التطوع هنا و ما إكتشفته هو بالنسبة لهم  طريقة حياة  اي أوف لايف كما يحلو للأمريكي أن يتباهى به

جيدو  ببساطته تمكن من  نقل كل هذه البساطو و كل هذه العفوية لي و أكيد للآخرين 
ليس يعني هذا أنني لا أعرف  التطوع في بلدي أو أنه غير موجود
لكن لديه أسماء اخرى و يقوم به أشخاص آخرون من طبقات أخرى

فمثلا عندنا  التويزة   و عندنا النوبة  و عندنا الدالة و عندنا المعونة
كلها لها أسماء و مناسبات
في الأعراس في حينا في الجزائر يتعاون شباب الحي لمساعدة أهل العريس في ترتيب يوم العرس 

و في الجنازة كذلك لا يتركأهل الفقيد يفعلون إلا القليل القليل

يأتي التويزة   في كامل التراب الوطني و ليس فقط عند بلاد القبائل   فهي طريقة للتعاون التطوعي لكامل أهل القرية لفعل الأعمال الفلاحية و إتمامها بأكمل وجه لما نعلم أن الفلاح قدلا يستطيع العمل لوحده و أن المحصول في خطر الضياع

كل هذا  ليس مثل ما فعله جيدو أصدقائه 
حيث ترى دكاترة  يتطوعون لخدمتنا نحن اناس اقل منهم مرتبتا هنا تكمن المخالفة للوضع المألون

كل ما أنا إكتشفته هو أن الإنسان ليس نفسه في كل بقاع العالم

تحية لجيدو مرة أخرى 

by Bachounda Mohammed (noreply@blogger.com) at February 05, 2018 01:24 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Why the theme for Wikimania 2018 will be “Bridging knowledge gaps—the ubuntu way forward”

Geolocated items being filled in on Wikidata from 2014 to 2017—an example of knowledge gaps being filled in over time. Image by Denis Schroeder/Wikimedia Germany, CC0.


Once a year, the broader community of Wikimedians and free knowledge leaders gather for Wikimania—the annual conference celebrating Wikipedia and its sister projects, the Wikimedia movement, and the community of volunteers who make them possible.

This year, the conference will be taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, where the organisers are giving this Wikimania a unique flavor—a theme that finds its roots in the African philosophy and way of life ubuntu.

It is our hope that this change will give us the opportunity to further our goal of creating the “sum of human knowledge”, by encouraging greater diversity and inclusion in who participates, and what we discuss, at Wikimania.

Ubuntu is summarised as the philosophy of “I am because you are,” or alternatively “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.” Volunteer community-driven projects like Wikipedia capture this ethos well, as editors must collaborate to research, improve, and maintain them. And, of course, as that process resolves, others will be able to learn more and more from their work.

This philosophy can also be extended to broader knowledge sharing. The more one group of people’s knowledge is shared with the world, the more all peoples of the world understand each other. The more non-Western knowledge is recorded and incorporated into global knowledge repositories, the more that each new generation of readers from around the world are able to freely access that knowledge, in addition to the Western knowledge that’s already been compiled.

We know that Wikimedia’s vision of creating a world “in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge” is far from being achieved. We are still far too limited in who contributes to our projects today, the topics that are being edited, and in the forms of knowledge being put forward. Examining these is critically important if we are to move in a shared Wikimedia strategic direction towards knowledge as a service and knowledge equity.

We believe that ubuntu is a philosophical framework that can help us go further to include the vast majority of the world that doesn’t find itself represented on Wikimedia projects right now, either as contributors, or in content.

It was in the spirit of furthering this goal, and discussing how best to achieve it, that the theme for Wikimania 2018 was chosen: “Bridging knowledge gaps: The ubuntu way forward”.

Knowledge gaps

At Wikimania this year, the focus will be on:

  • How to bridge knowledge gaps so that we can cover the many bodies of knowledge that are missing from Wikimedia projects
  • Understanding how we can become as plural and diverse as humanity really is
  • Identifying new forms of knowledge we need to incorporate to get there
  • Sharing lessons about what is working and what is not, allowing us to work on solutions together
  • Expanding the community of free knowledge contributors.

Wikipedia’s gender gap has been well-publicized since at least 2011, when surveys indicated that well under 20% of Wikipedia’s editors identified as female—one survey even put it at less than 10%.

Other gaps in contributor diversity have been somewhat less-well publicized, especially Wikimedia’s global gaps. We know that as of 2015, only 20% of Wikipedia’s editors come from the Global South (broadly, Asia, Africa and Latin America). Skews in our contributor demographics may have been understandable when Wikipedia started—it did begin with a handful of broadly white men in the United States, after all—but current contributor demographics today don’t reflect the realities and needs of the internet in 2018. 75% of the online population today is from the Global South, and 45% of those online are women. We are missing out on contributions from the African continent, from indigenous people, from women and transgender people, and many others. Without them, we cannot build the sum of all human knowledge.

We also see gaps in content on Wikimedia projects. For example, there is a limited range of knowledge currently covered on Wikipedia. In general, issues covering Western popular culture, notable Westerners, science, and technology are extensively covered on most Wikimedia projects. But most language versions of Wikipedia still have far more biographies about men than women, and coverage of women scientists and women’s health topics can be spotty.

For non-Western topics, we are missing much locally relevant content about Africa, particularly that which is gathered from African perspectives or shared in African languages. The same could be said for indigenous knowledge and local knowledge from many places outside the Global North, much of which is still missing or written from Western perspectives. Challenges with software localization, how we structure data, or even the very forms of knowledge that Wikimedia has defined as “reliable” (text-based, rather than oral, for example) are issues we need to contend with in order to incorporate more diverse kinds of knowledge.

The map below from the Oxford Internet Institute, illustrating Wikipedia edits per 10,000 internet users, illustrates some of Wikipedia’s global gaps.

Wikipedia edits per 10,000 internet users for 2014. Source: Graham, Mark. The geography of Wikipedia edits (28 September 2016), Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, access date 24 January 2018. Image by Mark Graham, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Our content gaps are perhaps, reflective of the interests of active Wikimedia contributors since the project was founded, as it is only natural that editors will cover issues that interest them the most, and cover them in a way that is consistent with their understanding of the world.

It is fantastic that topics of such great interest to existing contributing communities are covered so well. Indeed, we feel they should continue to be expanded and improved—existing contributors and bodies of knowledge will always have a place in Wikimedia.  However, we still have room to grow, and gaps to fill, and the need is greater from some sections of world society than from others today.  As a global community, we can do more to bridge our gaps and share a broader range of knowledge with the world. Let’s work together on it.

Wikimania submissions

In keeping with this theme, the Wikimania Programme Committee is now calling for individuals to submit proposals for workshops, discussions, presentations, or research posters to give during the conference. All submissions must address the theme of bridging knowledge gaps, for which we have identified some potential topic areas:

  • Language and literacy
  • Access and accessibility
  • Participation and representation
  • Community health
  • Content quality
  • Legal and policy
  • Knowledge forms

We are inviting everyone, including you, to think about these topic areas broadly and innovatively to encourage imaginative proposals. What does the ubuntu way forward look like to you? What knowledge gaps should we work on filling together next?

Our submissions page is open, and we are looking forward to hearing from you.

Douglas Scott, Organising General Chair, Wikimania 2018

by Douglas Scott at February 05, 2018 05:39 AM

February 03, 2018

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Just another award; the 2018 Newberry Library Award

I read it on Twitter; Mrs Carla Hayden received the 2018 Newberry Library Award. There are many awards that do not keep track of all the awardees. Personally I found only one other award winner. I asked on Twitter for more information and a friend found several more.

This is one of the awards that I want to keep track of. So I added a Listeria page on my user page. Every time the underlying data changes, Listeria will pick it up.

In the mean time, Mrs Hayden, congratulations.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at February 03, 2018 08:30 PM

Noella - My Outreachy 17

Four weeks left

Time is an illusion. Albert Einstein

I am running out of time😢😢. Four weeks left and I have not yet done up to 3/4 of my project. Oh! God I need divine intervention. And yesterday my mentor added a little task for me to do aside the project. Funny right! Yeah it's not. But it is very exciting because more work is more to learn 😣😜.

I have stalled the task I was working on from my previous post and started a new one that I completed. Will be going back soon for that tough task😭😭 

Working on the fourth/six task I hope to be done with it by the end of this week latest. I am kind of really behind. I am sorry for my mentors because I won't let them rest this coming days😂😂 I got to finish two tasks before my next post. Stay tuned for futher updates :). Let hope the story ends well.

by Noella Teke (noreply@blogger.com) at February 03, 2018 05:15 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 393



Visualization of the centrality of nodes using OpenStreetMap data 1 | Picture by Geoff Boeing


  • Matej Lieskovský started a discussion on the mailing lists about how non-breaking spaces in name tags should be handled. Some languages, in this case, Czech, have rules about how a name can be displayed when split over two lines. The question is whether such rules should be enforced directly in the data in the OSM database or applied by data consumers.
  • Christoph Hormann has prepared new satellite layers of parts of the Antarctic and the Western Alps based on Landsat and Sentinel 2 satellite images. Amongst other things, he asks if they are suitable for mapping leaf_cycle.
  • Vespucci will support imagery from OpenAerialMap soon.
  • Voting for the proposal of piste:type=connection for connections between ski lifts and pistes is open, until February 8th.
  • The vote on the hydropower water supplies proposal was suspended due to pertinent remarks.


  • Scott Davies tweets a rendition of buildings of Walthamstow, London, made with OpenStreetMap data using QGIS and Inkscape.
  • In France, a mapping party was held (fr) at La Fabrique Numerique, Gonesse where data were added to both OSM and Google Maps at the same time.
  • Post Mortem III: Randy Meech has written another post on the closing of Mapzen. It features the future of former team members and Mapzen’s products.
  • Reddit user BeFlatXIII starts a thread on OpenStreetMap about township mapping in Ohio, which results in rendering inconsistencies. Among the answers there are relevant links to OSM Wiki and to US mailing lists.


  • The plan of the import of buildings from the Spanish cadastre is already in its final stage.The import will begin as soon as possible, initially on Tenerife and in the city of Málaga.
  • Albert Pundt suggests improving county boundaries in Pennsylvania using TIGER 2017 data. The use of “Replace Geometry” from the utilsplugin2 JOSM plugin is recommended in the comments.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The License Working Group of the OSM Foundation has published the FAQ on the recently enacted Trademark Policy along with other relevant documents.


  • The call for abstracts for the Academic Track of the State of the Map 2018 is now open.
  • On April 14th and 15th, an OpenStreetMap hackweekend will take place in the DB-Mindbox in Berlin. Even sooner, an OSM hackweekend will take place on February 17/18 in Geofabrik in Karlsruhe.
  • 3rd of March is celebrated as Open Data Day. Join or organize one of the dozens of events around the world. Mapbox is supporting the mini-grants program to help local communities share the benefits of open data, particularly in Open Mapping. Find more about it here.

Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT reports on the refugee issue in Northern Uganda where up to 7,000 people a day are arriving, having fled from violence in South Sudan. HOT tries by providing equipment and training together with the refugees to capture Water points, also even sinking.
  • HOT, OpenStreetMap and ThinkWhere (a geospatial company in Scotland) get a mention in a UK parliamentary debate.


  • Franscisco Morales tweeted a Monde Geospatial video tutorial on how to download watershed delineation from OpenStreetMap for ArcGIS.
  • Ilya Zverev has revived OpenWhateverMap, originally created by Grant Slater. Have a look at the unusual rendering of the map!
  • The map style OSM-Carto will show military areas differently in the next version, see the pull request by andrzej-r with its examples.


  • Niantic has updated its map data for PokemonGo and Ingress to the status of December 15, 2017. Unfortunately this also increases vandalism.


  • [1] Geoff Boeing wrote about easily measuring and visualizing street network centrality with OSMnx (Python) and OSM data.
  • Frederik Ramm suggests the introduction of a feature in the OSM API to allow moderators to rename user accounts, which he wants to use against obscene usernames.
  • The Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology is looking for a Software Developer (Web) for a limited period of two years.
  • Nakaner has released an Osmium-based C++ program called PrepDelRels that determines which paths become unnecessary when deleting a relation.


  • OSM-Carto has been released in version 4.7.0. An icon for tourism=apartment has been added and the entrances are now displayed. The full change list can be found here.
  • The new release of Mapbox Navigation SDK for iOS v0.13.0 comes with user location tracking in standalone map views, Danish and partial Hebrew localizations and Mapbox Navigation SDK for Android v0.9.0 opportunistically reroutes in the background, turn banner improvements including route shields and much more.

Did you know …

  • … the collaborative route planning platform FacilMap?

Other “geo” things

  • With Mapire historical maps can be compared with each other or with today’s maps/satellite images of OpenStreetMap and Here Aerial.
  • The website of the Colorado-Convention-Center in Denver/Colorado contains an 3D-Multi Floor-Indoor Map based on OpenStreetMap.
  • Indoor navigation in AR with Unity” – a blog post that shows how to use the Mapbox Maps SDK for Unity to create an augmented reality navigation application.
  • Here bought the indoor map startup Micello.
  • Microsoft Power User magazine speculates that the use of the Google Maps API on a recent Microsoft app presages the end of Bing Maps.
  • The Guardian reports about Strava heatmap revealing the location of secret US Army bases
  • TomTom discontinues the provision of what had been sold as “lifelong” data updates for some navigation devices (some actually still, or very recently, on sale). See also the comment by “Anonymaps” on Twitter.
  • Due to a military exercise, GPS disturbances and failures in the western USA are expected from 26 January to 18 February.
  • Brian Reinhart from the Dallas Observer has found that a lot of restaurants which do not exist in in real life are present on the Google Maps, and in services that rely on that. During his research it was easy for him to create and delete another imaginary restaurant. He wasn’t able to answer why they are there though – maybe someone just enjoys creating fake data?

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Biella Incontro mapper di Biellese 2018-02-03 italy
Montreal Les Mercredis cartographie 2018-02-07 canada
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2018-02-07 germany
Berlin 116. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2018-02-09 germany
near Brisbane Beaudesert Mapping Party 2018-02-10 australia
Tokyo 東京!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第16回 赤坂氷川神社 2018-02-10 japan
Rennes Cartographie humanitaire 2018-02-11 france
Lyon Rencontre libre mensuelle 2018-02-13 france
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2018-02-13 france
Toulouse Réunion mensuelle 2018-02-14 france
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend February 2018 2018-02-17-2018-02-18 germany
Otaru 小樽マッピングパーティー 2018-02-17 japan
Rome FOSS4G-IT 2018 2018-02-19-2018-02-22 italy
Cologne Bonn Airport FOSSGIS 2018 2018-03-21-2018-03-24 germany
Turin MERGE-it 2018-03-23-2018-03-24 italy
Poznań State of the Map Poland 2018 2018-04-13-2018-04-14 poland
Disneyland Paris Marne/Chessy Railway Station FOSS4G-fr 2018 2018-05-15-2018-05-17 france
Bordeaux State of the Map France 2018 2018-06-01-2018-06-03 france
Milan State of the Map 2018 (international conference) 2018-07-28-2018-07-30 italy
Dar es Salaam FOSS4G 2018 2018-08-29-2018-08-31 tanzania
Bengaluru State of the Map Asia 2018 (effective date to confirm) 2018-10-01-2018-10-31 india

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Anne Ghisla, Nakaner, Peda, SK53, SeleneYang, SomeoneElse, Spanholz, Spec80, YoViajo, derFred, jinalfoflia, sev_osm.

by weeklyteam at February 03, 2018 12:31 PM

February 02, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

Reaching consensus and informing citizens through a Wikipedia assignment

Dr. J. Wesley Leckrone is Associate Professor of Political Science at Widener University. Here, he reflects on teaching with Wikipedia in a public policy course.

Dr. J. Wesley Leckrone.
Image: File:Leckrone Headshot.jpg, AmPartnership, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Two years ago at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Conference I walked by an exhibit that piqued my interest. The MPSA and Wiki Education had partnered to engage academics and their students in projects to make Wikipedia articles more accurate and academically rigorous. I immediately thought – what a great way to make writing assignments more relevant! Instead of handing in papers that would be graded and then dropped in the recycling bin, why not have students’ writing leave a lasting imprint that would help others learn?

This motivation for using Wikipedia in class was well intended but not developed enough to realize the full benefits of the activity. When I added it to the curriculum of my Spring 2017 State and Local Government class I saw it as merely replacing traditional writing projects. However, the experience taught me that writing articles was only one way that the Wikipedia experience contributed to the class learning outcomes. I had traditionally used papers as a means to evaluate student’s knowledge of class content. For the most part I had farmed out learning the craft of writing to the English Department. The experience in State and Local Government showed me that the process of writing could achieve important objectives related to political science. The first semester of using Wikipedia was a test run that helped me develop a more comprehensive system.

My Fall 2017 Public Policy class provided the opportunity to more intentionally design the Wikipedia assignment. The class of 23 students was composed mostly of sophomore Political Science students since it is requirement for the major. Students were assigned a 6 week Wikipedia training session and then placed in groups of 3-4 students tasked with adding content and at least 30 sources to 2-3 Wikipedia articles. The total assignment amounted to 18.5% of the final course grade.

I wanted to give students ownership of the potential project topics so I set aside a class to brainstorm about potential issues. The content of the class focused predominantly on federal policy so I asked  students to think about areas where they might do research on state policies, although that was not mandatory. I also suggested that they might want to focus on issues that were less controversial in order to avoid conflict in their groups. Students wanted no part of that advice and by the time we had winnowed down the list of possibilities we ended up with six topics: abortion, criminal justice reform, the death penalty, disaster relief, gun rights/regulation, and immigration (including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program). Students joined groups based on their policy interests and then identified specific Wikipedia articles to revise. The groups had the rest of the semester to complete their assignments. The final three classes were spent peer editing and making presentations about the policy issues discussed in their Wikipedia entries.

Poster Session for the Wikipedia Project.
Image: File:Wikipedia Pennsylvania Project Poster Session.jpg, AmPartnership, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

This project achieved three primary learning objectives, two by design and one by chance. First, civic and political engagement is part of Widener University’s mission and naturally an important component of the curriculum in the Political Science Department. Projects in this area typically involve creating and executing advocacy campaigns or organizing and attending campus events related to contemporary political topics and events. The political engagement involved with the Wikipedia project was profoundly different. Students were tasked with sharing their knowledge on larger scale by adding to entries that were open to the global community. As a class they added more than 23,000 words on issues of great importance to society, thus helping make Wikipedia a more complete source of information to citizens.

Second, I focused heavily on the importance of finding good sources of information and the need to provide objective, fact-based writing for the Wikipedia articles. We discussed the differences between objective reporting based on research and investigative practices versus opinion pieces driven by partisan politics and ideology.  The objective was to learn how to write effectively and in a non-biased manner.  As a political science professor this is particularly important given the current environment of fake news and partisan media. The project was one more tool to help students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to more effectively express their thoughts.

Finally, one learning objective emerged by chance. I had initially tried to steer students away from tackling controversial policy issues. However, they chose some of the most contentious topics possible. I embraced this by focusing on how the groups would need to confront differences in opinion on issues and achieve consensus in order to improve the articles. The core lesson was that they needed to find a common ground based on facts rather than opinions in order to effectively write on Wikipedia. In the present political climate achieving this one objective made the entire project worth it.

Want to teach with Wikipedia? Visit teach.wikiedu.org or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org to learn more.

ImageFile:Pennsylvania State Capitol.jpgAd Meskens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Guest Contributor at February 02, 2018 07:25 PM

February 01, 2018


Some loose thoughts about commercial social networks

Note: this text is more of a vent than anything else. I still intend to write more seriously about my perception of the changes provoked by commercial social networks, but not today.

"The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth." — Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook executive

I would really like to start this text by talking about how I have not had a Facebook profile for years, but we all know this is not true. Despite my choice to delete my account, Mark Zuckerberg's company never failed to find out who I am, how I live or with whom I interact. As a social network with the goal of collecting information with the highest level of fidelity to reality possible, it is well known that Facebook encourages the user to give them to their list of contacts and applies controversial policies such as the real name policy. So my exit in the end might have been more of a symbolic act than an effective action to get my data out of there.

My dissatisfaction with Facebook and so many other contemporary social networks, however, stems not only from their use of personal data but from major changes in the way we view the world, we measure our worth, interact with other users and connect with people.

For example, I've been using Twitter for almost 10 years - it's possibly the social network I've used the most in my whole life. I remember...

And it is with great sadness that I note that this no longer corresponds to the current reality.

I even feel melancholy when revisiting these memories because, when I was younger, I believed that these products were developed for the benefit of the users. I would get outraged when they would introduce new features that I had never asked for, and I was really vocal when unsatisfied. "This social network only successfully exists because of us," I thought. "They need us to survive, so they need to hear us, right?"


Like I said, I've been using Twitter for almost ten years. I keep coming back, in spite of everything. Because...

  • ... everyone is there. If I turn my back on Twitter, I'll be distancing myself with multiple friendships, important people, precious contacts.
  • ... I may be missing out on something. An important announcement, a professional opportunity, a news that will change the world.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn: these products have already established themselves as references in our daily lives. We need to be seen. We need to be remembered. So, in the end, it is not they who need us - all of this, little by little, has become essential in our eyes.

So we accept to be measured and judged by metrics. We feel anxious about this, but there are still benefits, right? That funny joke, that unmissable controversy, that connection with that third-degree cousin we played with once in childhood and we'll probably never have a conversation again, but if we have to, it's within our reach. We allow them to choose what is most relevant to us. And even though it has frightening consequences...

... we let this pass. And, as we spend more time entertained in these mini worlds, we lose the connection with a more diverse universe.

To say that this is a barrier for me as an Outreachy intern is an understatement.

Choosing not to be part of these social networks means, to some degree, experiencing social isolation. Rather than being accessible through more universal media such as telephone or e-mail, people prioritize their attention to closed platforms. To reach them, you need to play by the rules of these commercial networks - and often, they will be invasive.

Screenshot from Facebook showing the following message: "Upload a Picture of Yourself - Please upload a photo of yourself which clearly shows your face. When you send us a photo, we'll check it and permanently delete it from our serves."
New Facebook functionality to confirm users' identities. No selfie for them? No account for you.

And even if you compromise, there is no guarantee that you will have access to that audience. Organic reach is declining. You need to build a reputation, create a unique way to talk to the public, an incredible visual identity. Reaching a large number of people with scalable strategies consumes an unbelievable amount of time and energy, and there is little room for improvisation.

So this constant search for ways to reach people to do my job made me once again question many of my choices and opinions. Am I exaggerating all of this? Am I worrying about the wrong things? On one hand, this widespread reliance on commercial social networks makes me feel my existence slowly fade away every time I refuse to be a part of it, and it scares me. On the other hand, to what extent is it acceptable to ignore my discomfort for a social status that is increasingly difficult to achieve and which requires extensive maintenance?

by Anna e só at February 01, 2018 11:37 AM

Alguns pensamentos soltos sobre redes sociais comerciais

Nota: este texto é mais um desabafo do que qualquer outra coisa. Ainda pretendo escrever de forma mais séria sobre a minha percepção das mudanças provocadas pelas redes comerciais, mas não hoje.

"Os ciclos de reposta curtos e impulsionados por dopamina que criamos estão destruindo a forma como a sociedade funciona. [Não há mais] diálogo civil, cooperação; [apenas] desinformação, inverdades." — Chamath Palihapitiya, ex-executivo do Facebook

Realmente gostaria de começar este texto falando sobre como não tenho um perfil no Facebook há anos, mas todos nós sabemos que isso não é verdade. Apesar da minha escolha de excluir a minha conta, a empresa de Mark Zuckerberg nunca deixou de saber quem sou, como vivo ou com quem me relaciono. Como uma rede social com o objetivo de coletar informações com o maior nível de fidelidade à realidade possível, é bem sabido que o Facebook incentiva que o usuário os entreguem a sua lista de contatos e aplica políticas controversas como a do nome verdadeiro. Então a minha saída, no fim, talvez tenha sido mais um ato simbólico do que uma ação efetiva para retirar os meus dados de lá.

A minha insatisfação com o Facebook e tantas outras redes sociais contemporâneas, porém, origina-se não só do seu uso de dados pessoais mas das grandes mudanças na maneira como vemos o mundo, mensuramos o nosso valor, interagimos com outros usuários e nos conectamos com pessoas.

Por exemplo, uso o Twitter há quase dez anos — possivelmente é a rede social que mais usei durante a minha vida inteira. Eu me lembro...

E é com muita tristeza que constato que isso não corresponde mais à realidade atual.

Sinto-me até melancólica ao revisitar essas lembranças porque, quando era mais nova, acreditava que esses produtos eram desenvolvidos em prol dos usuários. Ficava revoltada quando introduziam novas funcionalidades que jamais havia requisitado e era bastante vocal quando insatisfeita. "Essa rede social só existe com sucesso por nossa causa", pensava. "Eles precisam de nós para sobreviver, então precisam nos ouvir, certo?".


Como eu disse, uso o Twitter há quase dez anos. Continuo voltando para lá, apesar de tudo. Porque...

  • ... todo mundo está lá. Se eu virar as costas para o Twitter, estarei me distanciando com múltiplas amizades, pessoas importantes, contatos preciosos.
  • ... eu posso estar perdendo alguma coisa. Um anúncio importante, uma oportunidade profissional, uma notícia que irá mudar o mundo.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn: esses produtos já se estabeleceram como referências em nosso cotidiano. Precisamos ser vistos. Precisamos ser lembrados. Então, no fim, não são eles que precisam de nós — tudo isso, aos poucos, se tornou imprescindível aos nossos olhos.

Então aceitamos ser mensurados e julgados por métricas. Nos sentimos ansiosos por isso, mas ainda há benefícios, não? Aquela piada engraçada, aquela polêmica imperdível, aquela conexão com aquele primo de terceiro grau com quem brincamos uma vez durante a infância e provavelmente nunca teremos uma conversa de novo, mas se for preciso, está ao nosso alcance. Permitimos que eles escolham o que é mais relevante para nós. E por mais que isso tenha consequências assustadoras...

... deixamos isso passar. E, conforme passamos mais tempo entretidos nesses mini mundos, perdemos a conexão com um universo mais diverso.

Dizer que isso é uma barreira para eu fazer o meu trabalho como estagiária Outreachy é um eufemismo.

Escolher não fazer parte dessas redes sociais significa, em certo grau, vivenciar um isolamento social. Ao invés de serem acessíveis através de meios de comunicação mais universais como telefone ou e-mail, pessoas priorizam a atenção a interações em plataformas fechadas. Para alcançá-las, você precisa jogar conforme as regras dessas redes comerciais — e muitas vezes, elas serão invasivas.

Screenshot from Facebook showing the following message: "Upload a Picture of Yourself - Please upload a photo of yourself which clearly shows your face. When you send us a photo, we'll check it and permanently delete it from our serves."
Nova funcionalidade do Facebook para confirmar a identidade dos usuários. Sem selfie para eles? Sem conta para você.

E ainda que você faça concessões, nada lhe garante que você terá acesso àquela audiência. Alcance orgânico é algo em declínio. Você precisa construir uma reputação, uma forma de conversar com o público, uma identidade visual incrível. Atingir um número grande de pessoas com estratégias escaláveis consome tempo e energia inacreditáveis, e há pouco espaço para improvisos.

Então essa constante busca por maneiras de alcançar pessoas para cumprir o meu trabalho fez com que eu, mais uma vez, questionasse muitas das minhas escolhas e opiniões. Estou exagerando tudo isso? Estou me preocupando com as coisas erradas? Por um lado, essa dependência generalizada de redes comerciais faz com que eu sinta a minha existência lentamente desaparecer toda vez que me recuso a fazer parte disso, e é algo que me assusta. Por outro, até que ponto é aceitável ignorar o meu desconforto em prol de um status social cada vez mais difícil de alcançar e que exige uma manutenção exaustiva?

by Anna e só at February 01, 2018 10:53 AM

January 31, 2018

Wikimedia Foundation

Using librarianship to create a more equitable internet: LGBTQ+ advocacy as a wiki-librarian

A person peruses bookstacks at the Minneapolis Public Library.

Photo by Steve Lyon, CC BY-SA 2.0.

As part of this year’s #1lib1ref campaign, we are examining different ways in which librarians can ally with the the Wikipedia community to represent knowledge and topics not well represented in the Wikipedia community.

These topics may be missing from Wikipedia for any number of reasons: Wikipedia’s well documented Gender Gap in both contributors and content; the complication of working with Indigenous or non-Western knowledge on Wikipedia; or that a volunteer simply hasn’t taken the time to pay attention to a locally important topic or concept.

We reached out to a librarian working on underrepresented knowledge on Wikipedia—someone who has been active in this space for a number of years on English Wikipedia. Meet Rachel Wexelbaum, Associate Professor / Collection Management Librarian at St. Cloud State University.

St. Cloud State University’s Miller Center, where Wexelbaum works. Photo by Xylem22, CC BY-SA 3.0.

It’s been a while since we last sat down and talked about your involvement in the Wikimedia community: what have you been up to?

Hi Alex! Long time no see indeed! In regard to my Wikimedia work, 2017 was a busy year. These are the highlights:

First, I became the Twitter administrator for Wikimedia LGBT+’s Twitter account @wikilgbt before Wiki Loves Pride season got underway. I use @wikilgbt to promote LGBTQ+ focused edit-a-thons and Wiki Loves Pride photo shoots at Pride festivals, as well as any intersectional Wikimedia events that would include LGBTQ+ content creation. @Wikilgbt promotes those Wikipedia editors doing great LGBTQ+ work, and followers use @wikilgbt to collaborate on translation of articles, to ask for Creative Commons licensed photos or other media to enhance entries, or to share photos of their edit-a-thons. We have grown the followers to 600 in less than a year, from all over the world. Followers include Wikipedians librarians–LGBTQ+ and otherwise–and LGBTQ+ organizations in addition to Wikimedia Foundation chapters and employees. This community  builds trust among LGBTQ+ Wikipedians from different countries, working across languages and cultures. Tweets fly in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Polish, Serbian, Hebrew, and other languages as Wikipedians help each other.

In August 2017, I went to Wikimania 2017 in Montreal, where I met with LGBTQ+ Wikipedians from around the world. Some I had met during WikiCon USA in 2014, but most folks were new to me. I got a chance to hear their concerns, primarily in regard to safety issues and communication. Bottom line: Wikipedia cannot be a global movement that engages marginalized populations if the Wikimedia Foundation cannot provide protection for people who may create content that their home governments do not agree with, or if Wikipedians from their country wish to do them harm. I met Christel Steigenberger, from the Wikimedia Foundation Support and Safety Team, and had a long discussion with her about this. As a result, I am now a member of the Support and Safety Team’s Voices Under Threat project, where we will try to provide resources for Wikipedians who may experience harassment or worse when doing Wikipedia work on particular topics.

In the fall I served as a guide during the WebJunction course “Wikipedia+Libraries: Better Together.” I learned a lot from this course, mostly how my professional peers perceive Wikipedia and their extreme anxiety of editing and doing it wrong. I hope that I was able to help some folx get over their fear of editing and that some librarians who took that course will choose to move ahead with editing, facilitating edit-a-thons, and otherwise teach people about Wikipedia.

Last but not least, I am working on a book chapter based on my experience as an LGBTQ+ WIkipedian librarian and my research on library participation in global LGBTQ+ Wikipedia efforts, for an upcoming book about 21st century LGBTQ+ librarianship edited by Bharat Mehra. It is an honor to have my chapter included in his book; he has written some powerful articles on social justice-oriented librarianship and how libraries should do more to support and empower the marginalized.


Do you think you could describe how you got involved with Wikipedia and how it fits into your career as a librarian?

At first, I used Wikipedia as quite a few librarians do–as a research resource and a tool for information literacy/digital literacy instruction. I would have my students compare a traditional encyclopedia entry on their research topic to a Wikipedia article on the same topic, and they would have to compare and evaluate both resources. Hands down, the Wikipedia article was always more comprehensive, more current, less biased, and included honest citations. The whole idea that people could improve and expand upon Wikipedia entries really appealed to me, because nothing is static in this world. Traditional encyclopedias only provide a snapshot in time, and some would serve as excellent historical documents.

I learned how to edit Wikipedia during edit-a-thons and through work on my own. I did not take a class–there were no Wikipedia classes at the time–so I learned a great deal by trial and error. I am still learning. During my first Art+Feminism edit-a-thon, I created an article all by myself about Yolanda Retter, who was a Chicana lesbian librarian, archivist, and historian in southern California and one of my heroes. I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t in there before I got the article started. I realized that this was the case for quite a few prominent librarians and academics at the time, especially if they were LGBTQ+ or LGBTQ+ people of color. It is getting better now, but we still have a long way to go, especially when we do cross-cultural work, creating entries in English Wikipedia about subjects that may not be well known in the English speaking world, but are still notable because they were a first, or because of their accomplishments. I also like to update entries about my favorite authors and musicians, and provide links to their work if possible. It still is the case that, for research on marginalized populations, the Wikipedia article may still be the best—or only—resource available.

When I do library instruction now I teach students how to evaluate Wikipedia articles, and show them the WikiProject quality scale rubrics. Their professors are often present during the sessions as well, and they are completely gobsmacked because they had no idea about what was happening behind the scenes. I inspire some of them to teach Wikipedia to their students, or to dip their toe into editing. I would not have learned anything about Wikipedia if I did not learn how to edit, and if I was not invited by Lane Rasberry to Wikiconference USA in 2014. That was where I met people behind the work, participated in discussions about the work, and got connected to the larger community, and really became a believer in open access. I work at a university library that currently has no money for books and media, and we have had to slash our journal and database subscriptions. So I work with my library colleagues on locating, evaluating, and promoting open access resources to our students and faculty–and Wikipedia is one of those resources.

What I love most about Wikipedia is getting people together to share expertise, collaborate, and network. I have hosted edit-a-thons at my university since 2014, and have presented at state library conferences about this work, which inspired other librarians in my state to edit and/or facilitate edit-a-thons. We now have a little community of Wikipedian librarians even though our institutions are spread out, and we participate in each others’ edit-a-thons and help facilitate and support newbies. I am also invited to facilitate edit-a-thons at other institutions and to teach Wikipedia editing to other peoples’ students; I did this at St. Catherine’s University, which is home to the only library school program in Minnesota. I asked the professor if we could invite library school faculty and students to my presentation, and to open up the edit-a-thon to them, and she said absolutely…so some folx from the library school participated. While we do not get the large turnouts for edit-a-thons that big cities might, we have a high percentage of return editors, which means that we are doing something right and making people feel safe, welcome, and valued doing Wikipedia editing. I am most proud of this, more than any single article I have created.

I think that those who write perfect articles all by themselves completely miss the point of Wikipedia. The whole object of Wikipedia, to me, is collaboration on articles and building the community to keep the resource alive and expanding. Unless human civilization destroys itself, we will never run out of information that needs to be defined, explained, updated, organized, and made accessible. Among other things, Wikipedian librarians can provide major support with Wikidata, linking citations to WorldCat holdings and open access journals, and improving the whole categorization system on Wikipedia.

Minneapolis’ Central Library, with the city’s skyline behind. Photo by Tony Webster, CC BY-SA 2.0.

As I understand it, for you, contributing to the Wikimedia community is about more than just covering topics that you have hobbies in, but also in representing knowledge and people not well represented elsewhere on the internet. What do you work on? Why do you do that?

Most of my Wikipedia work is focused on LGBTQ+ individuals and topics, and the intersections between LGBTQ+ identity and other identities. I will also “queer” articles that should address LGBTQ+ issues. For example, I added the content about LGBTQ+ discrimination that took place during St Patrick’s Day parades in the United States for a very long time to the St Patrick’s Day article. I like to “queer” articles and expand LGBTQ+ content because LGBTQ+ people and issues are real and shape our human civilization.

Quite often Wikipedia articles can be the jumping off point for further research if they provide relevant external links and good citations. For cisgender straight researchers–or those researchers looking for basic information on seemingly non-controversial things, like countries, “queered” Wikipedia articles will show these researchers that we can’t give an inventory of information about a country without including information about LGBTQ+ rights in that country, for example. That information may end up mattering to someone, even if they were not intentionally searching for it. People look up all kinds of sexual information on Wikipedia as well, because they want to find out if they are normal or sick, or how to do things. LGBTQ+ information has to be included in those entries as well, because there are fewer places for people to go to look for that information whether in online or face to face settings. This is especially the case for people living in countries where LGBTQ+ expression, visibility, and published information are all illegal.


And why do you think librarians are particularly good at supporting the representation of these kinds of knowledge?

Librarians develop authoritative and diverse collections that represent and support the marginalized, and can inform Wikipedians about those resources and have them cite those resources in their articles. For the most part, this collaboration still is not taking place at Wikipedia edit-a-thons because librarians remain a tiny percentage of active Wikipedians, libraries are seen as hosting facilities for edit-a-thons and not always information resources, and editors will always use the most convenient, accessible resources as opposed to “the best”. LGBTQ+ information, particularly historical information, still exists primarily in books. At Wiki Loves Pride edit-a-thons the serious editors actually bring their own reference books! At Art+Feminism events the organizers will already have a cart or two of books, or a display of books, in the edit-a-thon space for editors to use.

We have an opportunity for more LGBTQ+ cultural heritage institutions to participate in Wiki Loves Pride initiatives. There are a lot of reasons why they aren’t–lack of space or training, lack of technology, or restrictions on what they can actually share from their collections. At the same time, they could collaborate with other libraries, share their expertise, and provide resources that editors can link to in their articles so that researchers know that further information is available at particular LGBTQ+ institutions. Our Wiki Loves Pride edit-a-thons in the Minneapolis Central Library are very special because the librarians and volunteers from Quatrefoil (the LGBTQ+ community library in Minneapolis) will come and participate, and they have quite a lot of knowledge to share.

Working with LGBT topics can be challenging; often the LGBTQ+ community wants to add content about notable local LGBTQ+ people, or notable LGBTQ+ people who never got the recognition they deserved when they were alive, and so we have challenges with the word “notability” as Wikipedia currently defines it. Some of the most important people in the LGBTQ+ community are written about in blog posts, popular magazines, YouTube videos, and social media posts–all of which are discouraged by the article reviewers. But this may be the only trail of information that we have about a person, or a particular cultural phenomenon. I have found even more complicated challenges with the representation of indigenous people and their histories, as well as cultures that did not have a written language until very recently. In North America, AfroCROWD is doing some great work in this area, as well as French Canadian Wikipedian Benoit Rochon and others who are giving indigenous populations the tools to develop their own language Wikipedias using the information resources that they have.

Wikimedia LGBT outreach logo by Greg Varnum, modified from the Wikimedia community logo, public domain.


You participated in supporting the Webjunction class that we highlighted during a blog post in December, as an advisor and supporter of new contributors as part of the campaign. What were the biggest challenges you noticed among other librarians participating in Wikipedia?

First off, I want to make very clear that the majority of librarians taking the WebJunction class were not active Wikipedians. Most wanted to get a general overview of Wikipedia and learn how to edit. I am not sure how many of the librarians after this class will become active Wikipedia contributors or facilitate edit-a-thons, because most could not get over their fear of messing up someone else’s work or doing something wrong.

It took them a much longer time than anticipated to make their first edits; some of that was due to “Wikipedia anxiety”, but some of it was also due to insufficient technical skills. Most of these librarians, for the most part, saw Wikipedia as a reference resource. They did not see it as a community. And that is a huge barrier to their success and participation in Wikipedia efforts.


What can we learn from working with a group of librarians that large?

I think the class would have helped librarians become more successful in learning about Wikipedia if the large group was separated by interest (Wikipedia for information literacy vs Wikipedia editing/edit-a-thons) and content expertise. Librarians need to work and learn in environments where they can practice what they know while learning something new.


Why should librarians get involved in campaigns or activities like the #1lib1ref campaign?

If librarians gain a better understanding about Wikipedia through a small hands on activity, and if they find out that their edit made a difference somehow, Wikipedia will have more buy in from librarians. I think that #1lib1ref should take place all year round, so when librarians specifically make edits or create new content, they can promote what they have done, to show their engagement, to show the breadth of work that they are doing, and to connect with other Wikipedian librarians through social media. They really need to see other librarians doing Wikipedia work to believe that they can, too.

Interview by Alex Stinson, Strategist, Community Programs
Wikimedia Foundation

by Alex Stinson at January 31, 2018 07:30 PM

Wiki Loves Monuments

Banners for Wikivoyage

In the past year, Wiki Loves Monuments teamed up with Wikivoyage, the free travel guide, to organize a page banner competition; bringing a new twist to our continual quest for cultural heritage. Participants in Wiki Loves Monuments were invited to also upload their photos cropped for the use as headers in Wikivoyage travel guides. Compared to regular submissions, the banners put forth additional requirements. They should fit to the strict 7:1 format and serve as a visual introduction to travel destinations, similar to the one shown right below.

Ancient fortress in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine
Photo: Сарапулов (CC BY-SA)

Today we are delighted to announce the results of the banner competition. Each banner received a grade depending on its usage and the number of jury votes. Those in use got an additional factor of five to the jury score. This helped us to balance artistic value of the banners and their relevance. Whenever several banners were uploaded by one participant, their grades were added up, and the special Wikivoyage prize (a guidebook to Moscow and a photo book of Russian nature) was awarded for the best overall contribution. Our winner in 2017 is Elena Tatiana Chis who scored 76 points. She uploaded banners from 7 countries for 10 different destinations. Three of her uploads are used in Wikivoyage travel guides of Aït-Benhaddou (Morocco), Machu Picchu (Peru), and 16th arrondissement of Paris (France).

Aït-Benhaddou, UNESCO heritage site in Morocco
Photo: Elena Tatiana Chis (CC BY-SA)

The global banner competition covered all countries but Russia, where a separate competition was held already for the third time. The Russian participants are quite familiar with the concept and upload more than 150 banners each year. We were thrilled to receive about the same number of submissions in the international round, 171 banners, but this time coming from 26 different countries! The largest contribution is from Ukraine (57 uploads), one of the countries that traditionally also submits lots of images to Wiki Loves Monuments.

What happened behind the scenes? During the month of September WLM participants uploaded their page banners, typically crops of WLM photos, but also panoramic images designed exclusively for the banner contest. After September 30, participants could take a break, and it was now a busy time for Wikivoyage editors who had to sort out the banners and discuss literally each of them. We sought to choose only those submissions that combined visual beauty with an interesting setting and conveyed the feel of the destination in a comprehensive and artistic manner. Some of the banners filled the gaps in articles where Wikivoyage has not had any banner yet, but most of the uploads had to compete with existing banners crafted by Wikivoyagers earlier. Every time is was a hard but well-thought decision to replace an older banner with the new one uploaded during WLM-2017. Eventually, 35 banners found their slots in Wikivoyage travel guides covering destinations as distant and diverse as Baku in AzerbaijanKremenets in UkrainePula in Croatia, and Montreal in Canada, the venue of Wikimania-2017.

Basílica de Notre-Dame in Montreal, Canada
Photo: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA

All in all, the banner competition sets an important milestone in bringing WLM to Wikimedia sister projects. Travel and cultural heritage are inextricably intertwined, and we plan to continue with new travel-related ideas within WLM-2018. In the meantime, Wikivoyage offers a different form of participation, the February edit-a-thon dedicated to the 5th anniversary of Wikivoyage as Wikimedia sister project. Plan your trips, take photos of cultural heritage, and update our travel guides. Travel with Wikivoyage!

(This blogpost was contributed by Alexander Tsirlin, an administrator of the Russian Wikivoyage and an organizer of Wiki Loves Monuments Russia. CC BY-SA)

by Guest at January 31, 2018 04:16 PM

Wikimedia UK

US Second World War propaganda films migrated to Commons

Victor Grigas, a video producer and storyteller who has worked with the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, posted on the Wikimedia Video Production House Facebook group yesterday that he had migrated Frank Capra’s Second World War films from YouTube to Commons so they can be used on Wikipedia.

The Why We Fight series of films was made by Frank Capra in response to Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film, The Triumph of the Will. Capra described Riefenstahl’s film as ‘a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist’. Capra later wrote in his 1971 autobiography,

‘I sat alone and pondered. How could I mount a counterattack against Triumph of the Will; keep alive our will to resist the master race? I was alone; no studio, no equipment, no personnel.’

All content made by the US government is Public Domain by default, and Grigas found the videos on the US National Archives YouTube channel.

Under the US Copyright Act 1976, “a work prepared by an officer or employee” of the federal government “as part of that person’s official duties” is not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and is therefore in the public domain.

Grigas used the Video2Commons tool to migrate the files from YouTube. There is quite a lot of US government public domain video on YouTube, which you can search through Creative Commons’ search site. Although low resolution versions at 320p already existed on Commons, the transfer means there are now high quality ones available.

“I just saw the low-resolution versions on Wikipedia and thought that these films might have a better transfer out there and I was right. I saw these films in film school and they were enormously influential, I mean they copy elements of them in Star Wars. So I thought I should improve these articles”, Grigas said.

If you find any good public domain video online and add it to Commons for use on Wikipedia, why not tell us about it?

by John Lubbock at January 31, 2018 11:56 AM

January 30, 2018

Wiki Education Foundation

Closing the gender gap in STEM

ImageStFX Physical Sciences Lab, by StFX – StFX. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is coming up on February 11! This day recognizes the achievements and contributions of women in STEM fields, and the barriers that they and future women scientists face. Wiki Education holds a commitment to improving coverage of these women on Wikipedia. Visibility of their accomplishments and lives is not only well-deserved, but also inspires upcoming generations of women scientists to see what opportunities are out there for them.

We’ve written about why Wikipedia matters for women in science before. Now we reflect on how our programs have made a difference. As part of our 2016 Year of Science and our continuing Sustaining Science initiatives, we’re working to address the gender bias on Wikipedia. Check out our progress already:

  • Biographies of women scientists improved during the Year of Science: 150
  • Percentage of student editors who were women: 68%
  • Words added during YOS (2016) + Sustaining Science (2017): 12.68 million

The Year of Science alone produced nearly 5 million words of content, which has been read by more than 333 million people. The initiative’s success has even inspired similar efforts, like this one in Brazil.

Partnering with academic associations to close the gender gap

Our partnerships with academic associations are a testament to Academia’s desire to expand its audience. We partner with a number of scientific academic associations, many devoted to improving Wikipedia articles on women in STEM. Our partnership with the Association for Women in Mathematics and our collaboration with the Association for Women in Science, are two such examples. And through our partnership with the American Chemical Society, students work to create and improve biographies of women chemists, who remain underrepresented on Wikipedia. The National Women’s Studies Association also continues to be an effective partner and has engaged a number of recent courses in science and women’s studies. These courses have examined topics like gender, race, and culture of science and technology; women and minorities in the geosciences; women in science and engineering; and the culture of inclusion in the field of geobiology. We continue to expand our engagement with academic associations to better represent the wealth of knowledge out there about women in STEM.

Writing women into Wikipedia: biographies about women in science

Zonia Baber gathering fossils at Mazon Creek, Illinois, 1895. (An image uploaded by a geology student in our Classroom Program)
Image: File:Apf1-00303r.jpg, The University of Chicago Photographic Archive, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia’s gender disparity is reflected in the available content: only 16.48% of biographies are of women. A 2016 independent study finds that Wikipedia biographies of women are more likely to mention their roles as mothers or wives. These articles are also subject to more rigorous notability processes than are articles about men, (that is, women have to accomplish more than their male counterparts to warrant their own Wikipedia article) resulting in fewer biographies on women figures.

During the Year of Science, our Classroom Program exceeded its goal of improving 100 biographies of women in science by 50 articles. It wouldn’t have been possible without a few notable courses that went above and beyond in representing women in STEM on the encyclopedia.

In Dr. Glenn Dolphin’s geology course at the University of Calgary, students improved more than 80 biography articles for women in geology and created almost 40 articles that didn’t exist before. These articles have since been viewed 340,000 times. In his reflective blog post, Glenn notes that students felt more compelled to produce quality work, since it would be seen by so many. His course was even featured in the University news when faculty learned of its great success.

Another notable course with great impact is Dr. Patricia Brook’s Introductory Psychology course at CUNY, College of Staten Island. Along with Christina Shane-Simpson, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Elizabeth Che, a doctoral student at The Graduate Center, CUNY, Patricia launched the WikiProject PSYCH+Feminism. In a reflective blog post, they write that WikiProject PSYCH+Feminism worked to “bring attention to more than 400 prominent women who were recipients of the most prestigious awards in Psychological Science, yet lacked commensurate recognition on Wikipedia.” Patricia has continued her work to close the gender gap on Wikipedia with her Fall 2017 course, in which students created 30 new biographies for women psychologists and improved others.

During the Year of Science, Wiki Education also worked with WikiProject Women in Red, who created and improved hundreds of articles on women scientists through a virtual edit-a-thon. Many of those articles now include Featured pictures or have been highlighted in the Did You Know section of Wikipedia’s Main Page.

Empowering women to become scientists in the future

A class in mathematical geography studying earth’s rotation around the sun, Hampton Institute, Virginia .
Image: File:Hampton Institute – geography.jpg, Frances Benjamin Johnston, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Creating biography articles and improving existing ones can inspire students to pursue careers in scientific fields. As Educational Partnerships Manager, Jami Mathewson, wrote in the American Chemical Society’s magazine,

“Information is advocacy, and students…can play a significant part in advocating for women whose research is largely overlooked.”

Alice, a student at Caltech, vastly improved the article on Geobiology, rounding out what was previously just a stub to explain what the field is an does. Now, she’s the author of one of the top-three sources of information about Geobiology on Google.

“I first came across the Geobiology Wikipedia page about three years ago, when I was a freshman trying to decide if I should major in biology or geobiology,” she told us.

The article wasn’t much help in her decision-making, but after Alice’s intervention, she hopes it can inform future students making similar choices.

“It’s pretty exciting to know that college freshmen and maybe high schoolers might be influenced by something I wrote!”

When students have personal investment in an assignment, as they often do with the autonomy that a Wikipedia assignment offers, they can feel empowered in their work. They also practice writing for a mass audience, an opportunity to build confidence in flexing their knowledge in public. And in writing about women scientists and scientific fields in general, students are exposed to possible career trajectories.

“I found that the process of finding a voice to communicate these scientific ideas, organizing my thoughts, and deciding upon the essential information forced me to more deeply and completely understand the research that I had been doing,” said a Wiki Education student participant in an immunobiology course at Carleton College.

“The Roman philosopher Seneca famously said, ‘While we teach, we learn,’ and I think that it is that same teaching and learning philosophy that allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of scientific concepts through the process of writing. … Through our articles we took on the role of teacher.”

Combatting internalized stereotypes among women in STEM fields

Students in Dr. Amin Azzam’s UCSF class discussing their Wikipedia assignment.

When students complete a Wikipedia assignment, they participate directly in correcting gender gaps and bias on Wikipedia. Not only does our Classroom Program encourage students to make women in STEM more visible to the public, but it engages female students as producers of knowledge. As mentioned above, 68% of Wiki Education’s program participants are women — a number that sharply contrasts Wikipedia’s editor statistics. It’s estimated that about 80% of volunteers who regularly improve the site are young, Western men. Accessible knowledge changes how people think. And authorship is an important aspect of those cultural shifts.

Impacting millions: spreading knowledge for public consumption

The Visiting Scholars program also produced great work in the Year of Science. Barbara Page, who worked at the University of Pittsburgh, edited articles related to women’s health, creating dozens and improving hundreds more. Barbara’s impact can be seen in articles on neonatal infectionrapebreastfeeding, and STIs. Barbara’s work is key to providing well-sourced, reliable information about topics many people are seeking information on.

“In my mind, I have this image of a woman my age just receiving information from her doctor, telling her that she needs some kind of gynecological procedure that she can hardly pronounce,” Barbara told us. “Fortunately, she just bought a cell phone that has the big ‘W’ of Wikipedia listed in her apps, where she might find the information she needs to ask her physician. Younger men are still the most prolific content creators, and I don’t think they like to contemplate the health issues their grandmas might be dealing with.”

Barbara makes a good point about the importance of diverse authorship.

Sustaining Science

Students have improved Wikipedia articles on a range of scientific topics like plant taxonomyvoice disorders, the evolution of sexual reproductionhearing conservationcountry-specific environmental issuesfood chemistryarchaeologysociologylinguistics, and many more!

We update our resources constantly, so that students may feel best supported in improving Wikipedia. We prepare students to specifically dive into STEM topics through our brochures on topics like BiographiesChemistryEcologyEnvironmental ScienceGenes and proteinsSpeciesMedicineLinguistics, and Psychology.

To learn more about the Sustaining Science initiative, see our informational page or the blog post about its impact in 2017. To learn more about teaching with Wikipedia, visit teach.wikiedu.org.

Header image: File:Apf1-00303r.jpg, The University of Chicago Photographic Archive, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Cassidy Villeneuve at January 30, 2018 07:31 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Community digest; Wikipedians around the world celebrate Wikipedia’s 17th anniversary

Looking back at a year of success in Armenia—and getting ready for a new one

Photo by Beko, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The event was held at the Wikimedia Armenia’s new offices. The celebration started with words from the Wikimedia Armenia Board and Staff. In her speech, Susanna Mkrtchyan, the Board Chair, thanked everyone for their passion for Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement, and for their efforts to help spread free knowledge, making it accessible for everyone.

Mher Bekaryan, also from Wikimedia Armenia, presented the achievements of both the Armenian Wikipedia and Wikimedia Armenia in 2017. Mher emphasized the role of the events held and volunteer effort in the development of Wikimedia projects in Armenia. Afterwards, Bekaryan shared the results of the contests and joint projects of 2017, including CEE Spring 2017, the Europeana 1914–18 challenge, and the Austrian-Armenian writing contests, as well as for announcing the Armenian winners of Wiki Loves Monuments 2017.

Awards included:

  • Seventeen winners in CEE Spring 2017 and Europeana 1914–18, given books relating to CEE countries and World War I.
  • The winner of the Austrian-Armenian writing contest won a trip to Austria to get real-life experience with the culture and daily life he wrote about.
  • The authors of the ten best photos of the Wiki Loves Monuments 2017 Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh photo contest received certificates and presents.

Bekaryan concluded with the announcement of the Armenian Wikipedian of the year. Throughout the year Wikimedia Armenia follows the activity of Armenian Wikipedians, and awarded User:Sigma’am for his service, commitment and dedication to the movement in the last year.

The day concluded with a Wikipedia birthday cake, group photos, and social activities. For those who could not attend the event, Wikimedia Armenia streamed the event live on social media.

Lilit Tarkhanyan, Wikimedia Armenia
David Saroyan, Wikimedia Armenia


Wikipedians Wojciech Pędzich and Jarosław Błaszczak were guests at the RDC radio station on 15 January for an interview about Wikipedia. Pędzich and Błaszczak shared with the public their stories with Wikipedia, how they started, what the early days looked like and what motivated them to keep editing. They have also shared with the community what Wikipedia and its community are like. They discussed with their host “what makes the project different—and more powerful—than other, more restricted, ideas of setting up an online knowledge compendium,” Pędzich and Błaszczak told us.

“We underlined the meritocracy of the project, its grassroot character, the fact that anyone willing enough (with the requirement of will and technical assets set at a very reasonable low level) can contribute, and invited the listeners to start editing as soon as the program came to a close. We talked about our devotion to the volunteer activity we fit well with and the other dedicated Wikipedians and the fact that we would like others to join in and fill the gaps in the sum of human knowledge, especially in underrepresented languages. We hope to see some new edits from the Warsaw area and anywhere reachable by the podcast after the program.”


Photo by Deror_avi, CC BY-SA 4.0.

On Friday, 5 January, the annual winter meetup of Hebrew Wikipedia editors was held in celebration of the 17th anniversary of Wikipedia.

Despite the stormy weather, nearly 60 Wikimedians came to the meetup at the IBM offices in Tel Aviv. During the event, there was an overview presentation of 2017 on Hebrew Wikipedia, a summary of Wikimedia Israel’s activities during the year, lectures on various topics by members of the Hebrew community, and a Wikipedia birthday cake, specially designed for the celebration.

Malayalam Wikipedia birthday

Photo by Sidheeq, CC BY-SA 3.0.

On the 21 December, the Malayalam Wikipedia community held an event to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Malayalam Wikipedia. The celebration was held at G-78 near Kalindi Kunch Water Park in New Delhi. The event was attended by the movie star and politician Innocent. The program included a session about the articles in Malayalam Wikipedia and another one about the sister Wikimedia projects. The birthday of the Malayalam Wikipedia was also celebrated in Kuwait, Kasaragod, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Idukki, Kottayam and Kollam. The program in Delhi inspired and brought together linguists and other influencers.


Photo by Wikimedia TN user group, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Members of the Wikimedia TN User Group celebrated Wikipedia’s 17th anniversary in a meeting that discussed the coming projects of the affiliate. Attendees confirmed their vision on promoting the open knowledge in Tunisia along with Bridging the knowledge gap through their involvement in their African community. It is worth mentioning that Wikimedia TN is hosting WikiIndaba 2018, the third conference for the African Wikimedia community. Plans for new projects and activities to tackle the gender gap on the free encyclopedia were also discussed.


Photo by Македонец, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The shared knowledge group in Macedonia held a social event to celebrate the Wikipedia day and discuss the projects and activities held in the past year and plans for the year ahead. During the same week, on January 18, an open discussion entitled Digitization in 21 century was held in collaboration with the City Library in Skopje.


Photo by Kamal Osama, CC BY-SA 4.0.

On 19 January, Egypt Wikimedians user group held an event to celebrate the Wikipedia day. The event included a presentation on Wikipedia, how it started and what challenges the encyclopedia faces today. The second session was a workshop on how to edit Wikipedia with a contest for the best articles created during the sessions. Prizes of the Wiki Loves Africa, photography contest in Egypt were awarded to the winners at the end of the celebration.


Photo by Ibrahim Husain Meraj, CC BY-SA 4.0.


In Ghana, the community user group encouraged Wikipedia editors to create a new article to celebrate Wikipedia’s seventeenth birhday. The group held a campaign on their social media channels and asked the participants to share their articles on the #Wikipedia17 and #NowEditingWikipedia hashtags.


On Wikipedia day, Wikimedia Algeria User group announced a new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on how to edit the Arabic Wikipedia. WikiMasaq, the new course was suggested by the user group in WikiArabia 2017 in Cairo. The group decided to launch it on Wikipedia’s birthday. The course is held for three consecutive weeks that can be attended by anyone.


Wikipedia was the topic of a TV morning show in Bulgaria and another interview on the National Radio with the Bulgarian editor Spasimir Pilev on the occasion of Wikipedia’s 17th anniversary. “We talked about Wikipedia in general,” says Pilev, “more than talking about the Bulgarian Wikipedia, because for many people in Bulgaria it is still not very clear how to edit, who adds the content, etc. We have also discussed the collaborations of our community. I mentioned our work with the Bulgarian Archive State Agency and WikiBotevgrad and how important they are to attracting new editors. They were interested in how many people are editing in Wikipedia in Bulgarian.”

New York City

The Wikipedia Day 2018 NYC was an all day celebration and mini-conference held on Sunday, 14 January, 2018, hosted by Wikimedia New York City at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan. This Wikipedia Day celebrated Wikipedia’s 17th birthday, where 150 attendees joined conversations about Wikimedia and allied projects presented by Free Culture Alliance NYC partners.

Community digest stories contributed by the Wikipedia community members.
Compiled and edited by Samir Elsharbaty, Writer, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation



by Lilit Tarkhanyan, David Saroyan and Samir Elsharbaty at January 30, 2018 05:29 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Report from Wikipedia Day 2018 in New York City

Wikipedia recently celebrated its 17th anniversary! Wikimedians celebrate the occasion by holding Wikipedia Day events around the world. In New York, a great crowd of about 150 people gathered at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan for presentations, panels, lightning talks, unconference sessions, and cake. Given its active local chapter, New York hosts many Wikipedia-related events, but for me, Wikipedia Day is the highlight of the year. It’s one of the largest events, covers a range of different topics and activities, and makes for a great opportunity to make new connections as well as to meet in real life some of the people I’ve known through Wikipedia for years.

This year I had the opportunity to moderate a panel on Wikipedia in education, in which three of our New York-area instructors shared the exciting work they’ve been doing with their students.

Rachel Bogan is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and a sociology instructor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She shared her experience incorporating Wikipedia into her Introduction to Sociology class last fall. She highlighted that having students contribute to Wikipedia not only provides them with a novel way of learning sociology, but also gives them new skills — new ways of reading, writing, and critically evaluating information. For a class in which most students will not go on to be sociologists, it gives them tools that they can apply to any field. I was really happy to hear the quotes she read from students’ reflections. One of them wrote that “none of my previous assignments had ever had an audience. On Wikipedia, millions of other people will be able to see my edits. Because of this, I had to be careful that I didn’t spread any false information.” Students feel a sense of responsibility and ownership, owing to the importance of Wikipedia in the way the public learns about the world.

Shelly Eversley is Associate Professor of English at Baruch College, a constituent college of the CUNY system. For her, teaching with Wikipedia is directly relevant to both CUNY’s mission and her own education philosophy. As she put it, “education is not just about critical skills, but also about empowering the less empowered; empowering people so that they feel they have the right—the right—to change the world, and that in order to change the world they have to feel like they have the tools to do so.” She explained the ways that a Wikipedia assignment helps to develop those tools. Students in her class went to museums, galleries, and studios around New York to learn about art, and to engage with it directly after reading about it. They then contributed to Wikipedia articles about the artists — the article about Japanese-American sculptor Ruth Asawa, for example, which a student then translated for the Japanese Wikipedia. Students got excited about the idea of translation, realizing that being multilingual, as so many CUNY students are, puts them in a unique position to make extremely valuable contributions to Wikipedia. Other students translated articles into Russian, Ukranian, Spanish, and Bengali.

Jeffrey Keefer is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University in the Management and Systems / Human Resource Management & Development graduate programs. Jeffrey started his presentation explaining that just a year ago, he had a very typical negative attitude towards Wikipedia’s role in education — “it’s evil, stay away.” As someone who teaches students how to conduct research, much about the way Wikipedia works seems incompatible with research best practices. But take a closer look, and you can see that teaching students about Wikipedia and having them write articles can in fact be quite instructive. In such an assignment, students seek to find, analyze, and/or evaluate evidence supporting a claim. Jeffrey also made a point we hear pretty often, but which continues to be relevant — that although Wikipedia has many resources to help new users to learn and contribute, it’s hard to tell that help exists unless you know how to find it. He pulled up his class’s Dashboard page during the presentation to illustrate the ways the Dashboard brings together best practices, resources, structure, and training into one place.

Watch the full education panel livestream here.

Jackie Koerner presents on implicit bias, Wikipedia Day 2018.
ImageFile:Wikipedia Day New York January 2018 006.jpgKing of Hearts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Another highlight of the conference was a presentation by Jackie Koerner, an independent qualitative researcher focused on issues surrounding bias and equality. Jackie is also the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at San Francisco State University. She was invited to New York to present about implicit bias. The heading of one of her first slides was “Embrace Discomfort,” foreshadowing that the subject of the talk means people will be asked to think about their own biases, which can be, well, uncomfortable, but is nonetheless an important exercise. She illustrated implicit bias by asking the “cat people” in the audience what they thought about “dog people,” and vice versa, uncovering some preconceived notions about the type of person who would prefer one animal or another. It’s a good exercise. When she used it in a Wikimania presentation last year, the room got a little heated for a few minutes as people said some pretty cutting things about “the other side.” Our Wikipedia Day crowd was a bit mellower, but the activity nonetheless made its point well. Jackie explained that whereas conscious biases are the sort that we recognize as biases, and know that we may want to hide them, implicit biases are “sneaky” in that “you can only see them by looking at your past situations.” Implicit bias is deeper, unconscious. “It’s your default setting.” In the second half of the presentation she connected implicit bias to Wikipedia and offered advice for how to understand your own biases, how to work with others, and how to advocate for those negatively affected by such biases.

See the livestream of Jackie’s presentation here.

Wikipedia Day 2018 in New York was a great day, all around. Thanks so much to Rachel, Shelly, Jeffrey, and Jackie for helping to make it such an interesting event (and to the many others who participated!). Livestreams of all of the events in the main room of the conference are available online thanks to the Internet Society.

Header image creditFile:Wikipedia Day New York January 2018 003.jpgKing of HeartsCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Ryan McGrady at January 30, 2018 05:24 PM

January 29, 2018

Wikimedia Foundation

What galleries, libraries, archives, and museums can teach us about multimedia metadata on Wikimedia Commons

I call this piece “Pig’s heart, with metadata”. Photo by Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP/Wagner Souza e Silva, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimedia Commons is one of the world’s largest free-licensed media repositories with over 40 million image, audio, and video files. But the MediaWiki software platform that Commons is built on was designed for text, not rich media. This creates challenges for everyone who uses Wikimedia Commons: media contributors, volunteer curators, and those who use media hosted on Commons—on Wikimedia projects and beyond.

One of the main challenges for people who want to contribute media to Commons, or find things that are already there, is the lack of consistent metadata—information about a media file such as who created it, what it is, where it’s from, what it shows, and how it relates to the rest of the files in Commons’ massive archive.

The Structured Data on Commons (SDC) program aims to address this metadata problem by creating a more consistent, structured way of entering and retrieving the important metadata. This structured data functionality, based on the same technology that powers WikiData, will allow people to describe media files in greater detail, find relevant content more easily, and keep track of what happens to a piece of media after it’s uploaded.

One of the challenges SDC faces in this massive and ambitious redesign project is prioritization: What problems are we trying to solve? Who experiences those problems? Which ones should we tackle first? How can we avoid breaking other things in the process?

To answer these questions, we have been performing user research with different kinds of Commons participants, starting with GLAM projects—Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. We chose GLAM as the initial user research focus for a few reasons:

  • GLAM projects upload massive amounts of high-quality media
  • The people who upload media for GLAMs have different levels of previous experience with editing Wikimedia projects, ranging from complete newbies to veteran editors, and
  • The types of files being uploaded by GLAM projects, and the amount and kind of metadata available about those files, are similarly diverse

In other words, the motivations, needs, and workflows of GLAM project participants are diverse enough to potentially apply to many other kinds of people who contribute and consume media on Commons every day. Improving the Commons experience for GLAMs will likely benefit other users as well.

Our research into how to support GLAM projects during the transition to structured data on Commons began with a workshop in February 2017 at the European GLAM coordinators meeting. Between July and October 2017 we interviewed a dozen GLAM project participants from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and South Asia and ran surveys of GLAM participants and Commons editors.

We organized findings from the workshop, interviews, and surveys into five themes. Each theme represents a set of challenges and opportunities related to the way GLAM projects currently interact with Wikimedia Commons:

  • Preserving important metadata about media items
  • Functionality and usability of upload tools
  • Monitoring activity and impact after upload
  • Preparing media items for upload
  • Working with Wikimedia and Wikimedians

Through our research we were able to document a rich diversity of roles, goals, tools, and activities across GLAM projects, as well as identify motivations, unmet needs, and pain points that many GLAMs have in common. We also observed a number of inventive workarounds that GLAM project participants used to capture important metadata that wasn’t easy to record using the current systems like categories and templates. These workarounds illustrate the importance of metadata for making a file or a collection findable, useful, and usable, and the need for better ways to record all of that vital contextual information.

In the Structured Data on Commons program, we also regularly consult with Wikimedia Commons editors about how structured data will impact their work. With input from the Commons community, we developed a prioritized list of important community-developed tools for organizing media on Commons, which also helps us to understand typical workflows and to prioritize functionalities.

Research findings and community feedback will be combined into personas, journey maps, and user stories to help product teams set development priorities and define requirements for improving Commons file pages, upload tools, and search interfaces that use structured data.

A full report of our GLAM interview and survey research is available on the Research portal on meta.wikimedia.org, along with slides and a video of a recent presentation of findings.

The next steps of this project include additional interviews with Commons editors to understand how structured data will impact ongoing curation activities. We are also interested in speaking with re-users of Commons media outside of the Wikimedia movement to learn how structured data can make Commons an even more valuable global resource for high-quality free-licenced media—get in touch with us at jmorgan[at]wikimedia[dot]org and sfauconnier[at]wikimedia[dot]org.

Jonathan T. Morgan, Senior Design Researcher
Sandra Fauconnier, Community Liaison 
Wikimedia Foundation

by Jonathan Morgan and Sandra Fauconnier at January 29, 2018 07:24 PM

From the life of Wikidata


The Blue Marble by NASA/Apollo 17, public domain.

Wikidata is the central knowledge repository in the Wikimedia universe that now encompasses more than 300 free, online encyclopedias, and more than 800 projects in total. Why would anyone devoted to the representation of the sum of knowledge—which by its complexity must encompass different perspectives, interpretations, points of view—need a central repository like that? Simply because knowledge demands grounding in both logical and empirical truths, a set of constraints that define the limits of its power and usage.

While we can find ourselves engaged in an elaborate debate on whether the theory of relativity provides an adequate description of the physical universe or not, we should not engage in the debate on whether it was or not created by Albert Einstein and published in Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitaetstheorie in 1916 if we can claim these facts with a descent degree of certainty and under a broad consensus. Whatever language we use to express knowledge, in any culture, and to any audience, we should not question whether Berlin is a city, and a capital of Germany, while it is also a city in North Dakota, a fact of which Wikidata is well aware of, as well as a name of an American synthpop band who authored the famous “Take My Breath Away“.

Wikidata thus documents the things that exit, real or not, the facts about them, and the relations that connect them, in a huge network of over 40 million items: the elementary units referring to what claims an existence as meaningful, single entity. Wikidata then maps their presence across the pages in Wikipedia and its sister projects. Now, this fact has a rather significant consequence that we wish to draw your attention at.

If we keep track of things and ideas as items in Wikidata, and at the same time know how many times and where they were referred to, we can begin to understand the global pattern of how our common knowledge is distributed and used across the Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. We can begin to understand the similarities and differences in the ways we think and connect things, ideas, people, events, and whatever else there is, in our editor communities, languages, and cultures. We can begin to draw a map, a map of conceptual diversity and complexity, watch it evolve while thousands of minds read, write, and debate on truth and possibility on Wikipedia, and then provide a picture of the debate as whole. A single mind could not do it; the extent as well as the depth of information is simply overwhelming. Thus we’ve employed machines and algorithms and built the Wikidata Concepts Monitor (WDCM) system to do the job for us.

What if world countries were as large as their respective Wikidata items (i.e. instances of country(Q6256)) are used across the Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects? The following map might be informative in that respect:

Figure 1. A cartogram of Wikidata usage across more than 800 Wikimedia projects.

This twisted map—a cartogram, more precisely—was generated by a smart GIS algorithm applied to the Wikidata Concepts Monitor (WDCM) data sets. The area of each country is transformed until the areas of all countries became proportional to how many times the Wikidata items that represent them are used across more than 800 Wikimedia projects.

The WDCM system, developed by Wikimedia Deutschland in 2017, has a curious task to track, crack, and visualize the numbers on Wikidata items usage across all Wikimedia projects. It is a statistical machinery that currently tracks 14 semantic categories in Wikidata, currently encompassing 35,153,186 of Wikidata items. Its results are reported across four specialized dashboards: Overview,UsageSemantics, and Geo, which provides interactive maps of the geolocalized items alongside their usage statistics.

What is the motivation behind the development of such system? Well, no one has probably ever brought a good decision on the direction of development of a large socio-technical system without relying on some appropriate data source of solid quality. Such decisions can be brought in the very beginning of the system’s development, when the matters of its design by definition outweigh the matters of its application. For successful systems like Wikidata, that epoch doesn’t last long, because they tend to grow fast. In order to understand what needs to happen in Wikidata, one needs to understand what are our editor communities doing with it. Beyond that, and even more important, the communities themselves need to understand the pattern of their own Wikidata usage: it is in itself so complicated even in a single project only, that no single individual could understand it easily without relying on a system like WDCM that assesses the relevant numbers in the background and does the math to reduce the system’s manifest complexity to a manageable proportion.

For example, we have millions of things in Wikidata, but do we use them all often? No, we don’t. The bar plot in Figure 2. shows the WDCM Wikidata usage statistics for 14 semantics categories that are currently tracked across the Wikimedia projects. An interesting fact considers the negligible usage of scientific articles (Q13442814) items in Wikipedia—negligible because scientific articles account about ¼ of all Wikidata items. The prevalence in usage of items from the categories of geographical object (Q618123) and human (Q5) says that, on the large scale, Wikipedias are primarily about who and where—the two essential information needed to understand the organization of the social world in general.

Figure 2. Total Wikidata item usage in 14 semantic categories in Wikipedia. The WDCM usage statistic (vertical axis) is based on the count of the number of pages that make use of a particular Wikidata item at least once. The plot is based on the 1. January 2018. WDCM update. The Wikimedia category encompasses categories, disambiguation pages and templates.

Next, the WDCM data sets are combined with the Wikistats to provide a glimpse of the global Wikidata usage picture for you.

Figure 3. Wikidata usage (vertical axis), number of articles in Wikipedia (horizontal axis), number of edits to number of articles ratio (color scale), and number of active users (marker size).

The measurements are represented on a logarithmic scale to avoid the overcrowding of data points and labels. Each data point represents a particular Wikipedia, while only the top 25 Wikipedias in respect to the volume of Wikidata usage are labeled. The horizontal axis represents the number of articles in the respective project, while the vertical axis stands for the corresponding Wikidata usage statistic. The size of the bubble is proportional to the number of active users in the project, and the color scale represents the edits per article ratio.

WDCM is designed to answer questions like the following:

  • How much are the particular classes of Wikidata items used across the Wikimedia projects?
  • What are the most frequently used Wikidata items in particular Wikimedia             projects or in particular Wikidata classes?
  • How can we categorize the Wikimedia projects in respect to the characteristic patterns of Wikidata usage that we discover in them?
  • What Wikimedia projects are similar in respect to how they use Wikidata,             overall and from the perspective of some particular sets of items?
  • How is the Wikidata usage of the geolocalized items (such as those relevant for the GLAM            initiatives) spatially distributed?

Answering the first two questions might help you understand the nature of editors’ interests in particular Wikimedia projects or whole groups (Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikicite, etc) of projects. That means understanding the content of particular projects: what are they about? What items and broader sets of items do they frequently use? What items or sets of items do they use less frequently?

The third and the fourth question address the structural properties of Wikidata usage: what patterns of Wikidata usage can we recognize in particular projects, and how similar they are in respect to the ways they use of Wikidata? This is where machine learning comes into play. Its results can help us figure out, for example, what well developed projects that use Wikidata a lot are similar to smaller projects that are just beginning to use Wikidata. By knowing that, we already know who can learn from whom, and—the most important thing—who do we need to connect. Essentially, this aspect of WDCM functions as a recommender engine for any community manager who is interested in connecting different communities of editors to improve the usage of Wikidata in Wikipedia and other projects.

Figure 4. Each node in this directed graph represents one of the top 100 Wikipedias in respect to how much they use Wikidata, and point towards the Wikipedia that uses Wikidata in the way most similar to it (black arrows) and then to the next most similar one (grey arrows).

The graph in Figure 4. groups together the top 100 Wikipedias (top 100 in respect to how much use of Wikidata they make) in clusters that were determined from the statistical patterns of their Wikidata usage. In the 29 January edition of the WDCM Journal—a place where we intend to inform you on the WDCM findings—we will show you how can you discover what projects have a more dynamic, more unpredictable course of development in terms of Wikidata usage, and what projects are currently settled down in some more or less constant strategy of using Wikidata. Also, from the WDCM Journal you can learn more about the methodology used to produce Figure 4.

The solution to the fifth above exemplified problem can help you discover biases in item usage, like the North-South divide in the cartogram in the very beginning of this blog post. GLAM people can observe a similar problem: your galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, shining blue and bright in proportion to their Wikidata usage.

Figure 5. Galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. The color scale as well as the size of the marker represent the Wikidata usage across more than 800 Wikimedia websites.

It does get a bit dark under the Earth’s Equator, don’t you think? The noticeable item in the Southern Hemisphere (lower right corner of the map) is the National Library of Australia (Q623578), which is at the same time the third most frequently used Architectural Structure Wikidata item (following two other libraries, namely the Library of Congress (Q131454) and Bibliothèque nationale de France (Q193563); you can check this fact on the WDCM Usage Dashboard, by selecting the Architectural Structure category in the Category Report section under the Usage tab, and then scrolling down to the top 30 Wikidata items chart). Of course that the argument is that there are not that much GLAM institutions in the Southern as there are in the Northern Hemisphere, but why don’t make more use of them then in Wikipedia and other projects? Because if that is a fact, then people will not easily get to learn about such institutions in the South if we don’t make that knowledge accessible.

WDCM will go beyond these questions in the near future: an index of gender divide in Wikidata usage, i.e. tracking the item usage of the Human (Q5) items in respect to gender and across many Wikimedia projects, is already under development, and will help us quantify this bias and learn where we need to address it more urgently. These and other future WDCM based indicators of Wikidata usage biases are planned as the Knowledge equity components of the system; the rest of the system is designed having in mind the development and promotion of the Knowledge as a service component of the agreed 2030 Wikimedia movement direction.

All WDCM Wikidata usage data sets are publicly available from https://analytics.wikimedia.org/datasets/wdcm/. Many aggregated data sets, including user customized ones, can be downloaded from the WDCM Usage Dashboard.

Goran S. Milovanović, Data Scientist
Wikimedia Germany (Deutschland)

by Goran S. Milovanović at January 29, 2018 06:39 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Policy and activism in combatting antisemitism

January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day designated by the UN in 2005 to remember the estimated 6 million Jewish people, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men killed during the Nazi regime. Recording and remembering history is an important measure to prevent future atrocities. Students in our Classroom Program improve Wikipedia articles about important historical topics all the time. Knowledge is a powerful tool in reducing prejudice and in creating a more just, safe world for all.

In Fall of 2016, Amos Bitzan conducted a Wikipedia assignment in his course, Antisemitism and Anti-Judaism, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to Wikipedia, antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews, whereas anti-Judaism occurs when someone is partially or completely opposed to Judaism. It’s sadly something that has been seen throughout history and still lingers today, making education one of the best ways to raise awareness of this issue and help bring the world closer to an end to antisemitism and anti-Judaism.

Students edited pages on topics such as the history of antisemitism. Students expanded the article by pulling from an essay by well-known historian William D. Rubenstein that covers the history of antisemitism in the English-speaking world. Rubenstein notes that antisemitism was lower in English-speaking countries because of three factors: religion, capitalism, and protection of civil liberties. Protestants, Rubenstein opines, were more likely to sympathize with Hebrews because they too felt that they were part of God’s chosen people and because their doctrine shared much with that of Judaism due to the Protestants favoring the Old Testament over the New. Capitalism was a factor due to Liverpool and London being economic trading hubs. Because England considered itself a country of high economic status, they were less likely to see Jewish moneylenders and merchants as a bad thing. Finally, the protection of civil liberties made it more likely that people would take a more liberal stance towards people from other backgrounds and religions. This did not eliminate antisemitism and anti-Judaism (another article edited by Bitzan’s students) entirely however, as the Hebrew people were continually at risk of facing prejudice, hostility, and discrimination.

Students also contributed to the page on propaganda in Nazi Germany, specifically in the section on propaganda posters. Propaganda is a common tool that people use to further an agenda and influence others, but posters are especially popular because their visual message can be easily and quickly imparted to the viewer. Depending on the type, posters can also be made relatively cheaply and placed in a wide variety of areas – including places that would have been more difficult for Nazi party leaders to otherwise reach.

Finally, another page that students contributed to was the article for Nikolaj Velimirović. Velimirović was a Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church who was imprisoned in Dachau during World War II. He was accused of being antisemitic, due to several of his writings and public speeches containing antisemitism and hate speech that included claims that Jews were a threat to Christianity. Whether or not this was Velimirović’s true opinion is debatable, as his proponents argue that the antisemitic content was present because Velimirović was repeating content that was already present in Christian texts and that he wrote at least some of his work while under duress at Dachau.

Knowledge is a precious treasure that should be shared with others, so why not share your class’s knowledge with the world by using Wikipedia as part of an educational assignment? It will not only help teach your students about sourcing, technical writing, and research, but it will also show them how to work collaboratively with people from all over the world. If you are interested, visit teach.wikiedu.org or contact us at contact@wikiedu.org to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.

ImageFile:AnneFrankHumanRightsMemorialMiddleDistance.jpgKencf0618, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

by Shalor Toncray at January 29, 2018 05:15 PM

Resident Mario