May 04, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

A Death Star filled with all the May the Fourth facts you’ll ever need

Photo by Cjp24, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Photo by Cjp24, CC-BY-SA-4.0

May 4th is known to nerds around the world as Star Wars Day, a fan-created holiday paying homage to George Lucas’ cult sci-fi franchise (“May the Fourth be with you”). The unofficial holiday has exploded in popularity since it began in 2011. What began as a small celebration in Toronto, Canada, has since been adopted and observed by government officials and international media conglomerates alike.

Wikipedia has an entire portal devoted to the 1977 franchise, and the main article on the franchise has 226 cited sources and over 14,000 edits.  Wikipedia’s “lamest edit wars,” narrated in a famous Wikipedia article, include four about Star Wars movies. Five paragraphs explain the cultural influence of R2D2 on the article devoted to the robot—where you’ll learn that in Spanish-dubbed films it is “Arturito.” There’s even an entire article devoted to a fan edit that has restored the movies to their original theatrical quality.

It suffices to say that the Wikipedia community has its share of Star Wars fans. Here is the strangest and most embarrassing trivia Wikipedia has to offer about the Star Wars universe:

Sound designers got really, really creative.

Photo by Dirk Vorderstraße, CC-BY-2.0

Photo by Dirk Vorderstraße, CC-BY-2.0

The Star Wars franchise would’ve sounded completely different if not for renowned sound designer Ben Burtt. Not only did he create the “voice” of R2-D2, he’s also responsible for the sound of lightsabers, blaster guns, and the disquieting, muffled voice of Darth Vader. Burtt also employed what is known as the “Wilhelm scream” in the first Star Wars; the easily-recognizable scream (to us today) has became a running gag in Hollywood since then, with directors from Quentin Tarantino to Peter Jackson all employing it.

To craft the distinctive sound of a TIE fighter’s engine, Burtt combined an elephant call with a car driving on wet pavement. For the sound of the Millennium Falcon traveling through hyperspace, he combined two out-of-sync tracks of a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 engine whirring, alongside the hum of cooling fans.

The online encyclopedia for everything Star Wars, Wookieepedia boasted over 125,000 articles in January 2016. The site’s editors also jumped on the opportunity to turn Wikipedia’s “jigsaw” logo into a partially-constructed Death Star. Well played.

Leia’s “cinnamon bun” hairstyle

Photo by Edward Curtis/Library of Congress, public domain

Photo by Edward Curtis/Library of Congress, public domain/CC0.

George Lucas says Princess Leia’s distinctive “cinnamon bun” hairstyle was inspired by “a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look … The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico” But some critics have discounted this, saying that while Mexican revolutionaries did not have such hairstyles, young Hopi women’s “squash blossom whorls” (pictured) greatly resembled Leia’s hairstyle. Others believe Lucas may also have pulled inspiration from Queen Fria in the 1939 Flash Gordon comic strip “The Ice Kingdom of Mongo”, or Molly from the 1955 war film The Dam Busters.

Star Wars and Jaws created the summer blockbuster
In 1975, Jaws grossed an unprecedented US$7,000,000 during its first weekend in the box office. Two years later, Star Wars helped prove that the Jaws phenomenon could be more than a one-off, and showed how important franchising and merchandise rights could be; franchises in particular are now a staple on Wikipedia’s list of highest-grossing films. The original Star Wars remains the model of a modern film trilogy and was responsible for (or kindled) many of the special effects advances in the late 70s—something that was long overdue, as the industry had made few appreciable advances since the 1950s.

Hardware Wars
Star Wars has been the subject of many parodies since it came out in 1977. Possibly the first was Hardware Wars, which is now widely considered the most profitable short film of all time, taking an US$8,000 production budget and turning it into a gross profit of US$1,000,000. The 13-minute film chronicles a (somewhat anticlimactic) battle with Darph Nader. Weapons of choice included toasters, bottle openers, waffle irons, and the occasional flashlight. Its credits state that the production was “filmed on location in space.” Upon completion of the film, Scott Mathews, who starred as “Fluke Starbucker,” vowed to never act in another film again, saying: “I’m goin’ out on top, baby!”

Troops the mockumentary
One of the first (and most successful) fan films of the digital age, this 1997 mockumentary opened the floodgates for hundreds of new Star Wars parodies. It was Star Wars’ lovechild with the American reality series Cops, an alternate reality in which Luke Skywalker’s catalytic aunt and uncle never die by the hands of the Imperial military. Instead, they kill each other… by accident.

The 1987 production eschewed lightsabers for “Schwartz rings” and modified Star Wars characters for a “different” kind of parody. Spaceballs indulged in harassing the Star Wars fanbase, breaking the fourth wall when things got too serious or teasing fans with uncanny similarities. In one scene, “Princess Vespa” arrives with hairstyle similar to Princess Leia’s iconic whorls, but reveals shortly that she’s wearing headphones instead.

Blue Harvest

Promotional Poster, used under fair use.

Used under fair use.

Lucasfilm allowed the Family Guy staff to parody Star Wars: Episode IV under one condition: the characters had to look exactly like they do in the movies. The episode’s name, “Blue Harvest,” alludes to the working title for Return of the Jedi.

While the director took full advantage of the source material’s endless media references, some jokes may have flown over a newbie’s head. Seth Green, voicing Chris, eventually points out that the show Robot Chicken already did a Star Wars parody. (Green created Robot Chicken; his own Stars Wars parody episode aired in 2007, just months before Blue Harvest.)

Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle
“If there were thumbs in space and they got mad at each other there would be… THUMB WARS.”

Steve Oedekerk, mastermind of the Thumbs! series, decided to give the Star Wars story a unique remake…by swathing actors’ thumbs in costumes and making them smack each other. Thumb Wars was released in 1999, packed with 29 minutes of Loke Groundrunner plotting to destroy the Death Thumb. The concept caught on. Thumb Wars gained enough notoriety to be eventually re-released for the PlayStation Portable.

(Additional installments of the Thumbs! series include Bat Thumb, The Godthumb, Frankenthumb, and Thumbtanic.)

Films about ewoks.
After a thorough embarrassment from the Holiday Special, Lucas took full control of the development of Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. Child actors Eric Walker (Mace) and Warwick Davis (Wicket) were given their own cameras to use during breaks. While working on the movie, the stars shot a short documentary on the making of the film which was released only on YouTube, 30 years after the film’s release.

Inspiration for the sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, began with “Heidi meets space marauders.” The final product didn’t turn out as such, but it did win accolades for visual effects that stunned its audience (back in 1985).

The Star Wars Holiday Special no one wants to admit still exists.

Photo by Dirk Vorderstraße, CC-BY-2.0

Photo by Dirk Vorderstraße, CC-BY-2.0

Fans have director Steve Binder to thank for introducing Boba Fett in the Star Wars Holiday Special. Everything else about the show, unfortunately, was a humiliating flop. The AV Club later said “I’m not convinced the special wasn’t ultimately written and directed by a sentient bag of cocaine.” The special was so unwatchable that it has never been rebroadcast or officially released on home video. In fact, its producers actively attempted to scrub it from existence. Fans eventually began circulating bootleg copies of the travesty, establishing its reputation as a cultural legend and immortalizing it as the worst Star Wars film of all time.

George Lucas, kicking himself for having had minimal involvement in the show’s production, said in the aftermath: “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”

It’s affected politics as well
US President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was widely known as “Star Wars,” after Senator Ted Kennedy was quoted as saying that the initiative was nothing more than “reckless Star Wars schemes”—implying that it was implausible science fiction fantasy. The media’s use of the nickname was, according to one historian, extremely damaging to the program’s credibility. Lucasfilm tried to sue to keep its trademark intact, but a court ruled against them, writing “Since Jonathan Swift‘s time, creators of fictional worlds have seen their vocabulary for fantasy appropriated to describe reality. Trademark laws regulate unfair competition, not the parallel development of new dictionary meanings in the everyday give and take of human discourse.”

In 2014, an individual dressed as and calling himself Darth Vader tried to register as a candidate in Ukraine’s parliamentary election. He was denied.

It saved 20th Century Fox
Before Star Wars, 20th Century Fox was struggling. After Star Wars, 20th Century Fox’s stock quadrupled and they were declaring profits of, at one point, US$1.2 million per day. Wikipedia summarizes this simply: “Star Wars helped Fox to change from an almost bankrupt production company to a thriving media conglomerate.”

James Bond was forever changed
Ian Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only was slated as the next Bond film after 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me; these plans were firm enough that the theatrical version stated “James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only.” Then Star Wars came along, and Moonraker was adapted instead, but the novel it is named for was mostly dispensed of in favor of scenes set in space. While Moonraker received mixed reviews, it was clearly a hit monetarily: the film held the record for the highest-grossing Bond film until 1995’s Goldeneye.

Aubrie Johnson, Digital Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Aubrie Johnson at May 04, 2016 12:51 AM

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, April 2016

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
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Vol: 6 • Issue: 04 • April 2016 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

The eight roles of Wikipedians; do edit histories expose social relations among editors?

With contributions by: Guillaume Paumier, Brian C. Keegan, and Tilman Bayer

“Who did what: editor role identification in Wikipedia”

Reviewed by Guillaume Paumier

Who did what: editor role identification in Wikipedia is the title of an upcoming paper to be presented at the International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) in Cologne, Germany.[1] The work presented in the paper is a collaboration between researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the Wikimedia Foundation. The authors’ goal was to analyze edits from the English Wikipedia to identify roles played by editors and to examine how those roles affected the quality of articles.

Identifying roles of participants in online communities helps researchers and practitioners better understand the social dynamics that lead to healthy, thriving communities. This line of research started in the 2000s, focused on Usenet groups, before expanding to wiki communities like Wikipedia.[supp 1]

The paper covers the three stages of work:

  • determining edit categories, to describe the types of changes made by editors;
  • modeling editor roles represented by those categories;
  • measuring the quality of a set of articles over time, and determining if its evolution is linked to the roles played by their editors.

For the first stage, the authors built on previous publications that aimed at classifying Wikipedia edits, in particular the work by Daxenberger et al.[supp 2] Classifying edits usually starts by separating them by namespace. A more granular approach considers not just the namespace, but the content of the change. This was the method chosen here for edits in the main namespace, with the possibility of assigning a revision to multiple categories: for example, a single revision can entail both “grammar” and “template insertion” changes. Those categories were operationalized using an ensemble method classifier based on the content and metadata of the edit.

Then, the authors derived roles based on patterns that emerged from the classes of edits, using the latent Dirichlet allocation method (LDA). This method is traditionally used in natural language processing to identify topics making up a document. Here, the authors used the method to identify roles making up a user, positing that a user is a mixture of roles in the same way that a document it a mixture of topics. In addition to edits, they trained the LDA model using other information such as reverts, and edits in other namespaces.

They ended up with eight roles: social networker, fact checker, substantive expert, copy editor, wiki gnomes, vandal fighter, fact updater, and Wikipedian. They found that most editors play between one and three of those roles. To validate the roles, they attempted to predict edit categories based on the editors’ roles, with mixed results.

Last, the authors examined whether the roles of editors were correlated with the evolution of the quality of a set of articles. They measured article quality twice, six months apart, using an existing model[supp 3] that assigns a score in Wikipedia’s qualitative assessment scale based on the article’s measurable characteristics.

The cleanup work of WikiGnomes becomes more important after the content added by substantive experts has improved an article’s quality

They found some correlation between the difference in quality and the roles involved, taking into account control variables like the starting quality score. Their results suggest that “the activities of different types of editors are needed at different stages of article development”. For example, “as articles increase in quality, the substantive content added by substantive experts is needed less” but “the cleanup activities by Wiki Gnomes become more important”.

One limitation acknowledged by the authors is that their detailed edit classification was only performed on edits made in the main namespace (Wikipedia articles). For other edits, they only considered the namespace itself. Namespaces like Wikipedia: are host to very varied activities, and applying the same level of detail to them would presumably yield a richer, and possibly more accurate, taxonomy of roles.

Some choices in the role nomenclature are a little surprising. For example, it seems odd to have one role simply called “Wikipedians”, or “reference modification” being a behavior representative of “social networkers”. Translating patterns of data (structural signatures) into words (roles) is a difficult exercise, and often a weak link in such analyses.

In conclusion, the article is a welcome contribution to the field of Wikipedia research, in particular of editor roles on Wikipedia. Many previous role identification efforts have used a simplified approach where editors were reduced to their main role. In contrast, here the authors went further and considered editors as a mixture of roles, which is expected to provide a more accurate representation of human behavior.

Since the authors mention task recommendation as a possible application of their work, it would be particularly interesting to examine how the role composition of a user evolves over time. There may be patterns in the evolution of users’ roles during their life cycle as editors. Uncovering such patterns could lead to more relevant task recommendations, and help guide editors along their contribution journey.

“Verifying social network models of Wikipedia knowledge community”

Reviewed by Brian C. Keegan

This paper was published in the Information Sciences journal and was co-authored by researchers from several Polish universities.[2] The paper’s central research question is “are the popular assumptions about the social interpretations of networks created from the edit history valid?” The paper evaluates four different methods for constructing complex networks from Wikipedia data and comparing these constructs with survey results about Polish Wikipedians’ self-reported relationships. While there is a strong correspondence between all the different network types, networks derived from Wikipedians’ talk pages map most clearly onto Wikipedians’ feelings of acquaintanceship.

The paper examines four kinds of relationships: co-edits to article and user talk pages (acquaintanceship), co-edits in the vicinity of other users’ text (trust), reverts of editors’ revisions (conflict), and co-edits to articles in the same category (shared interest). Crucially, the paper extends prior research using these network constructs by conducting a respondent-driven survey of Wikipedians to ask them to name other Wikipedians they consider to be acquaintances, trusted, conflict-prone, or having the same interest. The survey respondents tended to be more experienced than typical users and so responses were re-weighted based on population frequency.

The paper goes on to use a variety of machine learning methods to evaluate the strength of the relationship between different behavioral features and the self-reported relationships. First the find that naive constructions of these networks from behavioral data only end up predicting one kind of relationship (discussion/acquaintanceship). Using more complex sets of temporal features such as days since last edit and category similarity to account for biases in self-reporting yielding only marginal improvements in model performance. The authors conclude by suggesting that the correspondence between relationships imputed from observed Wikipedia data and the relationships reported by Wikipedians themselves are weak.

The survey methods employed in this paper to generate the ground-truth networks can be criticized by the lack of randomness in the population or generalizability across other wiki communities. Similarly, there are well-known limits on informant accuracy compounded by the often impersonal nature of the editing interface and process. Nevertheless, this research suggests that researchers combining behavioral data social network methods may be making faulty assumptions about how strong the observed relationships are actually perceived by the Wikipedians themselves.


“Tracking interactions across business news, social media, and stock fluctuations”

Reviewed by Brian C. Keegan

This study[3] from researchers at the University of Helsinki examines cross-correlations between Wikipedia pageviews, news media mentions, and company stock prices. This work extends prior work that developed a trading strategy based on Wikipedia pageviews to assess stock market moves[4][5] by extracting entities about companies, products, and dates from news media mentions and matching them to Wikipedia entries. An exploratory case study demonstrates there are some correlations across these three indices and that the strongest cross-correlations are observed without a time lag and for the same company. However, in a subsequent case study involving 11 large companies, the strongest cross-correlations were for The Home Depot and Netflix. That correlations among news mentions, Wikipedia pageviews, and stock performance is neither theoretically nor empirically surprising, but the paper’s work on identifying entities and mapping them to Wikipedia articles could have some potential. Research like this comparing correlations across dozens of entities and time series is subject to multiple comparisons problems and there’s likewise a large body of methods in mathematical finance that can be used to extend these findings further.

New event calendar

A calendar of events (mostly research conferences) relevant to Wikimedia-related research has recently been set up on Meta-wiki. Notable entries for this month include CHI 2016 and ICWSM-16.

“Detection of text-based advertising and promotion in Wikipedia by deep learning method”

Reviewed by Tilman Bayer

This conference paper[6] presents a method to automatically detect promotional content in Wikipedia. It appears to aim at articles, but the actual method focuses on user pages.

The authors highlight the fact that their method is purely text-based, whereas “[c]urrently most researches about spamming in Wikipedia are focusing on editing behavior and making use of user’s edit history to do feature-based judging.” (See, however, our earlier coverage of a related paper that reported success using stylometric, i.e. text-based features: “Legendary, acclaimed, world-class text analysis method finds you promotional Wikipedia articles really easily“)

The researchers explain that a “traditional bag-of-words document vector representation” (counting only word frequencies) is insufficient. Instead, they “employ a deep learning method to obtain a word vector for each word and then apply a sliding window on each document to gradually gain the document vector.” The classifier was trained on a dataset of user pages speedily deleted under criterion “G11. Unambiguous advertising or promotion”, compared to user pages of administrators which were assumed to be advertising-free. In tests (which apart from Wikipedia user pages also included a dataset of web page ads drawn from other sites) it “produced better performance than the bag-of-words model in both precision and recall measurements.”

Other recent publications

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

  • “Taking Online Search Queries as an Indicator of the Public Agenda The Role of Public Uncertainty”[7] From the abstract: “… the influence of media coverage on Wikipedia searches concerning two issues is compared: one issue with uncertainty (the Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli [EHEC] epidemic), and one without uncertainty (unemployment). Analyses show much stronger correlations in the case of EHEC, which suggests that online search behavior may especially be used as an indicator of the public agenda in case public uncertainty exists.” (see also: earlier publication by the same authors)
  • “Public relations interactions with Wikipedia”[8] From the abstract: “The purpose of this paper is to consider the relevance of the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework (Ostrom, 1990) in understanding the incentives for public relations (PR) practitioners’ interactions with Wikipedia, and other common-pool media. [… It] applies the economics theory of commons governance to two case studies of PR interactions with Wikipedia. […] The analysis concludes that commons governance theory identifies the downside risks of opportunistic behaviour by PR practitioners in their interactions with media commons such as Wikipedia. … The economic value of information held by public relations professionals has been undermined by the collaborative nature of common pool media, which has consequences for the role of public relations.”
  • “Digital Library Citation Parsing to Wikipedia Reference Analysis”[9] From the asbtract: “… we empirically verify the potential of automatic identification of incomplete references in Wikipedia with our machine learning based software. Second we propose a normalization method on the identified result to group identical references. We evaluate the reference parsing performance of our system on author and title fields then provide Wikipedia citation statistics on the identified and normalized result.”
  • “Collaboration of Pre-Service Early Childhood Teachers in Dyads for Wikipedia Article Authoring”[10] From the abstract: “A prerequisite for pre-service teachers, among others, is their preparation to apply collaborative methodologies […] In this paper, we discuss an approach involving collaboration of pre-service early childhood teachers in dyads while working on Wikipedia article authoring. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other such approach combining all these characteristics. […] From an approach such as ours, benefits can be derived for students themselves, society and Wikipedia.”
  • “A New Epistemic Culture? Wikipedia as an Arena for the Production of Knowledge in Late Modernity”[11]
  • “Wikipedia, democracy and local elections in São Paulo: a study of the developing of articles edited during the election campaign in 2012”[12] From the English abstract: “This article has as main objective to understand how during the campaign to elect the mayor of São Paulo city in 2012 users have accessed articles related to the three leading candidates – Russomanno, Haddad and Serra – and have edited them. We consider the period from 2008 to 2012 as a reference to explore variables such as the page view indices and the number of editions provided by frequent users. It was concluded that the intensification of the political battle during the election period affects the number of access to such articles, their editions, and the nature of the interaction between registered editors.”
  • “Hot news detection using Wikipedia”[13] From the blog post: “I show how we can use the number of Wikipedia article page views to determine if a news story is hot. This approach is fully data-driven and does not need any human supervision.”


  1. Yang, Diyi; Halfaker, Aaron; Kraut, Robert; Hovy, Eduard (2016-05-17). Who Did What: Editor Role Identification in Wikipedia (PDF). International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-16). Cologne, Germany. 
  2. Jankowski-Lorek, Michał; Jaroszewicz, Szymon; Ostrowski, Łukasz; Wierzbicki, Adam (2016-04-20). “Verifying social network models of Wikipedia knowledge community”. Information Sciences 339: 158–174. doi:10.1016/j.ins.2015.12.015. ISSN 0020-0255. 
  3. Karkulahti, Ossi; Pivovarova, Lidia; Du, Mian; Kangasharju, Jussi; Yangarber, Roman (2016-03-20). “Tracking Interactions Across Business News, Social Media, and Stock Fluctuations”. In Nicola Ferro, Fabio Crestani, Marie-Francine Moens, Josiane Mothe, Fabrizio Silvestri, Giorgio Maria Di Nunzio, Claudia Hauff, Gianmaria Silvello (eds.). Advances in Information Retrieval. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer International Publishing. pp. 735–740. ISBN 9783319306704.  Closed access
  4. Alanyali, Merve; Moat, Helen Susannah; Preis, Tobias (2013-12-20). “Quantifying the Relationship Between Financial News and the Stock Market”. Scientific Reports 3. doi:10.1038/srep03578. ISSN 2045-2322. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  5. Moat, Helen Susannah; Curme, Chester; Avakian, Adam; Kenett, Dror Y.; Stanley, H. Eugene; Preis, Tobias (2013-05-08). “Quantifying Wikipedia Usage Patterns Before Stock Market Moves”. Scientific Reports 3. doi:10.1038/srep01801. ISSN 2045-2322. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  6. Guo, Yuanzhen; Iwaihara, Mizuho (2015). Detection of text-based advertising and promotion in Wikipedia by deep learning method (PDF). DEIM Forum. p. 1. 
  7. Maurer, Marcus; Holbach, Thomas (2015-10-22). “Taking Online Search Queries as an Indicator of the Public Agenda The Role of Public Uncertainty”. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. doi:10.1177/1077699015610072. ISSN 1077-6990.  Closed access
  8. Gareth Thompson (2016-01-05). “Public relations interactions with Wikipedia”. Journal of Communication Management. doi:10.1108/JCOM-12-2014-0083. ISSN 1363-254X.  Closed access
  9. Kim, Young-Min. “From Digital Library Citation Parsing to Wikipedia Reference Analysis” (Billet). 
  10. Galini, Rekalidou; Karadimitriou, Konstantinos; Prentzas, Jim (2015-05-25). “Collaboration of Pre-Service Early Childhood Teachers in Dyads for Wikipedia Article Authoring.”. International Journal of Modern Education Research. Vol. 2 (No. 2): 8–17. ISSN 2375-3781. 
  11. Gelernter, Lior. “A New Epistemic Culture? Wikipedia as an Arena for the Production of Knowledge in Late Modernity”. 
  12. Sousa, Carlos Henrique Parente; Marques, Francisco Paulo Jamil Almeida (2015). “Wikipedia, democracy and local elections in São Paulo: a study of the developing of articles edited during the election campaign in 2012”. Revista Eletrônica de Comunicação, Informação & Inovação em Saúde 9 (2).  (“Wikipédia, democracia e eleições municipais em São Paulo: um estudo sobre as edições de verbetes durante a campanha eleitoral de 2012”; in Portuguese, with English and Spanish abstracts)
  13. Firooz, Hamed. “Hot news detection using Wikipedia”. 
Supplementary references:

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 6 • Issue: 04 • April 2016
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
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by Tilman Bayer at May 04, 2016 12:38 AM

May 03, 2016


Refactoring around WatchedItem in MediaWiki

The refactoring started as part of [RFC] Expiring watch list entries. After an initial draft patch was made touching all of the necessary areas it was decided refactoring first would be a good idea as the change initially spanned many files. It is always good to do things properly ® instead of pushing forward in a hacky way increasing technical debt.

The idea of a WatchedItemStore was created that would remove lots of logic from the WatchedItem class as well as other watchlist database related code that was dotted around the code base such as in API modules and special pages.

The main patches can be seen here.

Moving the logic

Firstly logic was removed from WatchedItem with backward compatible fallbacks left behind wrapping the logic in WatchedItemStore. This essentially turned WatchedItem into a value object.

During this stage it was discovered that most of the logic from the class did not actually need access to a full Title object (the kitchen sink of MediaWiki). Recently a TitleValue object had been introduced and this much smaller class provided everything that was needed, but although the two classes have several methods in common, they did not implement a shared interface, thus LinkTarget was introduced.

Secondly queries and logic were extracted from other classes and brought into WatchedItemStore to be shared, but to start with this only included code that exclusively dealt with the watchlist. Code that combines the watchlist and recent changes for example will likely end up living in a different class.


Testing is important and of course was one of the targets of the refactoring. Prior to the refactoring there was essentially 0% test coverage for watchlist related code. After the refactoring line coverage was roughly 95% with a combination of unit and integration phpunit tests that have been clearly separated.




This test coverage has been achieved by injecting all services through the constructor of the WatchedItemStore which allows them to be mocked during tests.

Injecting a LoadBalancer instance allows mock Database services to be used and thus during unit tests all DB calls can be asserted while not calling a real DB. This is new and has not really been done in mediawiki core before and a test strategy such as this only really works if integration tests are also in place.

As can be seen in the image above 2 callbacks are also defined in the constructor. These are callbacks to static methods which are hard to mock. For these two static methods the production code calls the callback defined in the class. Phpunit tests can call a method to override this callback with a custom function allowing testing.

Using the ServiceLocator

Recently a ServiceLocator was introduced in MediaWiki. WatchedItemStore will be one of the first classes to use this locator once services can be overridden within tests. This will allow the removal of the singleton pattern from within WatchedItemStore.

Caching review

Basic in-process caching was added to WatchedItemStore as some of the logic extracted from the User class included caching. As a result the importance of this caching is now being investigated and the actuall use of the current caching can be seen at https://grafana.wikimedia.org/dashboard/db/mediawiki-watcheditemstore

Currently roughly 15% to 20% of calls to getWatchedItem result in a cached item being retrieved with the other ~80% causing db hits.

The low number of cache hits is likely due to the fact the cache is currently only a per request cache. More advanced caching would be needed to use a longer term caching allowing tagging of cache items / keys to enable purging.


The review process worked well throughout all related patches. Generally 2 people created the patches and then a mixture of people put the patches through a few rounds of review before later being merged by one of 3 or 4 people. The review was likely so smooth as the changes generally were just refactoring.

One issue that was run into a few times was TitleValue doing a strict check to make sure that the namespace ID that it is constructed with is an int. The MediaWiki DB abstraction layer will return int columns as strings, thus this caused exceptions in initial versions before int casts were added.

Also while trying to add more advanced caching MediaWiki’s lack of common cache interfaces caused a bit of pain and as a result and RFC has been started about a common interface or potentially using PSR-6. https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T130528

A similar method of refactoring could probably be applied for much of MediaWiki, particular storage areas.

by addshore at May 03, 2016 06:23 PM

Erik Zachte

Wikistats’ days will be over soon. Long live Wikistats 2.0!

(tl;dr)Vote on Wikistats reports you want to see migrated

Dear Wikistats users,

With a mixture of melancholy and relief, I announce my withdrawal from the Wikistats project at the end of this summer, thirteen years after I started it. I will continue doing other stats work for WMF.

Wikistats has been a labor of love, and was built in close cooperation with the Wikimedia community. There are aspects of Wikistats in which I still take pride: equal treatment of all projects, some level of multi language support, all dump based metrics available for all years since 2001, to name a few. Other aspects were less to like, even grew from a nuisance into a pain over the years: the scripts are monolithic, and really hard to maintain, even for me, as they grew increasingly complex, and with hardly any documentation. I’ve never made a secret of those deficiencies. Being the sole maintainer for many years, besides doing other stats work, for me to rewrite Wikistats and make it future proof was simply out of the question. Over the last half year the WMF Analytics Team migrated the data feed for Wikistats traffic reports to hadoop, and built some awesome new reports. Other reports were upgraded. In the coming months my colleagues will focus on replacing a selection of the remaining Wikistats reports, priority yet to be decided, based on your feedback. Of course the Wikistats scripts will still be available for reuse on other projects, but I have recommended against investing in their maintenance at WMF. That might have been the better choice years ago, but we passed that point.

Half a year ago I asked your input to a survey on which traffic reports should be migrated first. Now I want to ask you: which Wikistats content and activity reports (aka dump reports) would you want to see continued in a new form (probably with more awesome improvements)?

Please visit this new survey which contains a list of available reports, and state your preferences.

Thank you!

Erik Zachte

by Erik at May 03, 2016 04:13 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Improving constructed languages: Dietrich Michael Weidmann

Photo by Dietrich Michael Weidmann, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Photo by Dietrich Michael Weidmann, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Dietrich Michael Weidmann is a bureaucrat on the Esperanto Wikipedia and a former General Secretary of the World Esperanto Youth Organization. Here is his story.

Can you please elaborate about yourself?

I am a linguist, legal translator, manager of a translation company and a Swiss-German National.

Where do you come from? Tell us about your native place / places where you spent your childhood and teen years?

I was born in the city of Zurich, my mother is German, my father Swiss, so I have German and Swiss nationality. After my parents separated I passed several years in several homes for children; from there I have no good memories. Despite the not very good situation a could pass the examinations for the mathematical-scientific college and after passing the Matura. But after I started to learn Esperanto in the age of 16 my personal interests changed from natural sciences to languages and after my Matura I decided to change the branch and to start linguistic studies. In 1987 I achieved the lic. phil. in general linguistics (this corresponds in our days to the degree of a Master of Art).

How did you first discover Wikipedia in general and more importantly in Esperanto?

I discovered the Wikipedia in very early time, in 2006 in the Esperanto movement and started to contribute to the German, Alemannic and Esperanto-Wikipedia and also started to upload pictures to commons (until now I added nearly 16’000 photos mostly from Switzerland).

When did you realize that you could edit Wikipedia?

In 2006.

What’s the most interesting thing you have used Wikipedia for

I own a Translation Company and Wikipedia is a wonderful help in my daily work, so for me my personal contribution is a kind of compensation for what I get from Wikipedia. Before Wikipedia existed, in my company I had to spend every year a lot of money for lexica, since there is Wikipedia I could save all this money, so there is for my clear, that I have to give something back!

Can you elaborate on the diversity of language Wikipedias you have worked upon?

Important contributions I made only on the German, Alemannic and Esperanto-Wikipedia and for Commons. For the other projects I made only small corrections, added links, pictures and also sometimes helped to fight against vandalism.

Do your near and dear ones support your Wikipedia pursuits?

My family also likes very much Wikipedia and they like of course my work for this project.

How do you find Community environment on Esperanto Wikipedia and your role as the admin/Sysop of Esperanto Wikipedia?

The Esperanto-Community is around the world is a little bit like a small village. As I was from 1986 to 1990 General Secretary of TEJO (the World Esperanto Youth Organization) I know most of the important Esperantists around the world personally and also several active Esperanto-Wikipedian meet regularly during several Esperanto-conferences around the world.

What strategies to you suggest for the growth of Esperanto Wikipedia?

The quantitative growth of Esperanto-Wikipedia is no problem, but there is a big problem in the quality, as from the more than 1000 more or less regular contributors unfortunately more than half has not a very high level of language knowledge and so the other half often loses a lot of time correcting the errors of those people. For me for this reason we have now in the Esperanto-Wikipedia to focus more on the improving of the quality of the existing articles than to be busy in adding new ones.

How do you feel crossing themassive number of edits on Esperanto Wikipedia?

I do not count anymore my edits—for me it is just important to give something back to the community. The number also is relatively big, as I make often a lot of corrections of mistakes and that of course are often small edits.

What are your future Wiki goals and ambitions?

My next big goal for Esperanto-Wikipedia is that all the 1000 must have articles in the Esperanto-Wikipedia will achieve the level of “legindajartikoloj” (“Good articles”) – this goal will take certainly a lot of time to achieve, but it is not impossible.

Have you participated in offline Wiki events (meetups, editathons, etc)?

I participated in several meetings of Esperanto-Wikipedians during the Universal Esperanto-Congress each year in summer and I also already took part in meetings of the Alemannic Wikipedians in the region of Zürich.

How do you see the role of Esperanto Wikipedia vis-à-vis other Wikipedias?

The role of the Esperanto-Wikipedia is very special, because in the Esperanto-Wikipedia the contributions are made partly by some of the most important authors and members of the community, which makes Esperanto-Wikipedia very different from all other Wikipedia-projects. One very important common goal of Esperanto and Wikipedia is the idea that access to knowledge should be free for all mankind.Historically Esperantists already exchanged information through the borders of the several political blocks in the world, when were was now Internet. During the so called “Cool War” the Esperanto-movement was the only NGO which was represented on both sides of the so called Iron Curtain. I remember when in 1979 I guided a group of young people for a travel group on train from the International Youth Congress in Austerlitz in the Netherlands to the Esperanto-World Congress in Lucerne. In this group there were 32 people from 22 countries (among them China, USSR, USA, Morocco and Israel). When we arrived at the Swiss border, the customs stopped the train for two hours, because for them this group was just an impossible mixture: American, Israeli, Russian, Chinese and Moroccan people together in the same travel group, was against all the prejudices of a normal custom officer of this time… just impossible … but we were real! Finally the called the President of the Swiss Confederation who personally confirmed that all the visa were valid and that this group was expected for the congress in Lucerne. This event I never forgot and it was decisive for my whole life.

Can you elaborate a bit on your Esperanto Wikipedia colleagues?

Our Esperanto Colleagues are a very mixed public, but we all have in common this cosmopolitan idea of a united world and this makes the Esperanto community so different from the other Wikipedian communities. Of course also on Esperanto Wikipedia happen often big discussions and disputes, but as we know each other very well we after most of this disputes in the end find a consent, so I feel much more unity than in the other Wikipedian projects.

How practical is collaborating with Wikipedias in constructe languages, like Esperanto, Ido, Lojban, etc?

Personally I have contributed with about 3000 edits to the Volapük-Wikipedia, but I have also to notice that the other Wikipedias of constructed languages are not really living projects but without any exception the initiative of one single person. When this motor person disappears these projects will probably die. This is the case now for the Volapük Wikipedia which has no more active administrator. I guess that also the Ido and Lojban Wikipedia will once have this sort. This will not be the case in Esperanto-Wikipedia which has several hundred active contributors, 18 administrators and 3 bureaucrats.

What is your message for new Wikipedians?

My message for new Wikipedians (in all projects) is that they should before starting with edits study the help pages on the main page the know about the most important edit rules. There is important in Wikipedia the seek consent and not to know better than the whole community. There is also important not to lose courage, if other do not share ones opinion and also there is important to understand what Wikipedia is and what not and in discussions there is needed patience. The organization of Wikipedia functions in the way of a direct basic democracy and that means if you want to be lucky in Wikipedia you have to learn to make compromises and accept the decisions of a majority, which sometimes may not be easy. It is important to understand, that Wikipedia is teamwork, so it is not necessary to make everything alone but you can get help from others. And if you are not too proud to ask for help, than you will make the beautiful experience that others like to help and support you and you will gain suddenly friends.

Syed Muzammiluddin
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Syed Muzammiluddin at May 03, 2016 01:40 AM

May 02, 2016

Wiki Education Foundation

Monthly Report for March 2016


  • Wiki Ed’s development team organized an event at the Palm Room in the Presidio, hosted by Board Members Sue Gardner and Lorraine Hariton. The event was intended to introduce our work to individuals interested in higher education, tech, and philanthropy.
  • Wiki Ed staff has been busy with academic outreach for the Year of Science. In March, staff hosted or participated in workshops at Brown, UC Davis, and Northeastern, and with the American Association of Geographers.
  • Rollins College has selected a Visiting Scholar, bringing our total to six. Together, their work on Wikipedia has been read more than 23.5 million times.


Educational Partnerships

Jami Mathewson speaks at Brown University.
Jami Mathewson speaks at Brown University.

For the Wikipedia Year of Science, Director of Programs Tanya I. Garcia and Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson visited several California universities. This month, they met with the UC-Davis Biotechnology Program. Denneal Jamison-McLung, associate director of the program, was enthusiastic about our focus on women scientists. She’s assigning graduate students to improve or create articles on biotech topics, and notable scientists from diverse backgrounds.

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Wikipedia Content Expert Adam Hyland visited universities in New England. At Brown University, host Jim McGrath brought together faculty from American Studies to Astronomy. At Northeastern University, Dr. Cecelia Musselman and Amanda Rust co-hosted a session focused on Wikipedia assignments for science communication. The team also attended the American Association of Geographers’ meeting in San Francisco. They met with instructors teaching a range of subjects, from human geography to geographic information systems.

Recruitment for the spring term is complete. We recruited 111 first-time instructors, compared to spring 2015, when Wiki Ed supported 117 courses total.

Classroom Program

Status of the Classroom Program for Spring 2016, as of March 31:

  • 199 Wiki Ed-supported courses had course pages (90, or 45%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 3,510 student editors were enrolled
  • 49% students are up-to-date with the online training
  • Students edited 2,620 articles and created 154 new entries.

The Classroom Program is supporting its largest number of classes to date (198 courses as compared to 162 in Fall 2015). Even better, 109 of those courses are part of the Year of Science. You can see our Year of Science courses here.

Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal continues to on-board classes for schools on the quarter system. We welcomed Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice, a sociology course at Carleton College; Engineering Simulation, from the University of Washington; and Social Computing, from the University of Pittsburgh. All are part of the Year of Science.

Students spent March moving their work to the article main space, that is, making their work accessible to the public on Wikipedia. Content Experts Adam Hyland and Ian Ramjohn were busy reviewing student work and responding to inquiries from students and instructors.

Student work highlights:

  • Continuing the work we featured in last month’s report, Liz Clarke’s Women and Film class at Concordia University has produced several new and improved articles on women screenwriters and directors in March. User:Stella5795 created an article for Matilda Beatrice deMille, a playwright and screenwriter. DeMille wrote dozens of plays. She also produced plays by women writers struggling for representation in Hollywood around the turn of the 20th century. Another student’s article filled a pernicious, but difficult, content gap on Wikipedia. Lucille McVey was a screenwriter and actor in her own right, but also a member of a notable duo, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew. Before User:Gari.olsson created the article, her only entry on Wikipedia was in connection with her male partner. Just as important are expansions of stub articles. Joy Batchelor was represented by a small stub for years. It took User:Roothster2’s work to create an article that reflected Batchelor’s contributions to British film and animation.
  • David Webster’s Memory, truth and reconciliation in the developing world focused on another set of content gaps. Webster had students research and write an article for a specific truth commission. They ended up creating nine new articles and expanding 60 more, including commissions in Morocco, Nepal, South Korea and El Salvador. Normally we’re used to talking about student work improving the margins of some area on Wikipedia, but Webster’s students are responsible for more than 20% of the articles on Wikipedia’s list of truth and reconciliation commissions.
  • Also featured in last month’s report, Victoria Somoff’s course in Masterpieces of Russian Fiction expanded Wikipedia’s coverage of Pushkin, Tolsoy and others. User:Gyli1993’s expansion of Oblomov is emblematic of the work her students have done. Coverage of the play was basic and poorly referenced. In fact, it had been identified as needing improvement for eight years. The student’s edits added information on the play’s critical reception, themes, and place in Russian literature. All of this was cited to secondary work. User:Jfmour’s work on the Queen of Spades follows a similar pattern of solid improvement on a baseline article once limited to an introduction and plot summary. Webster’s class has wound down for the semester, but his students have already improved dozens of articles.
  • Alfredo Garcia’s course in Basic Ideas of Sociology asked students to expand articles on methods and theories in sociology. One student, User:Rebeccashumway, re-wrote the article on media influence wholesale. She added about 900 words to the article, and transformed it from the old version, which had been tagged for improvement since 2008. User:Umedi2016’s work on social reproduction expanded the article from a brief definition and a digression on Bourdieu to a solid article that a reader could use as a starting place for research. Similarly, User:Waffufi’s work on community of place expanded another article from a minimally referenced dictionary definition to a full fledged resource.
  • What do you call the billion years of relative geological, climatic stability and relatively low oxygen levels in which eukaryotes and multicellularity evolved? The Boring Billion. Students in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class created a substantial article about this period in the history of the planet. Other students in the class expanded the blue carbon article from a short stub into an equally substantial article. Blue carbon, the carbon which is fixed by coastal and ocean ecosystems, accounts for a substantial portion of the atmospheric carbon that is fixed by biological processes. As seagrass beds, mangroves and salt marshes are lost, the ability of these ecosystems to sequester atmospheric carbon declines. Students in the class also expanded Yaquina Bay andRemineralisation from short stubs into a substantial article.
  • Students in Ashis Banerjee’s Introduction to Manufacturing Processes class (first section; second section) did good work across a number of articles related to manufacturing processes. Modern technology requires tiny, precisely manufactured parts. If you want to know how those parts are made, take a look at the new article about mesoscale manufacturing, which deals with manufacturing parts in the 0.1 to 5 mm range. Want to learn about how smaller parts are made? Take a look at the new article on 3D microfabrication. Thinking smaller still? How about the article the class created on nano manufacturing and the directed assembly of micro- and nano-structures. Want to know how your toothbrush is manufactured? Take a look at their Multi-material injection molding article. Among the many other articles created or expanded substantially by the class are economics of plastics processing, microcellular plastic, digital manufacturing, and grinding wheel wear.
  • Students in Katie McEwen’s IAH Autopsy class expanded a wide range of articles including dissection, forensic photography, and the beating heart cadaver article. The students’ sections looked at some of the ethical issues surrounding keeping brain-dead bodies connected to a ventilator to harvest organs for transplant. The article now covers what constitutes death in cases like this. They also created new articles about clinical empathy and Jadwiga Lenartowicz Rylko, a Polish doctor imprisoned by the Nazis as a political prisoner. She served as a doctor in her concentration camp, where she cared for slave laborers.

Community Engagement

Rollins College has selected an experienced Wikipedian, Template:Wuser, as their Visiting Scholar. This position was created to focus on content gaps in late 19th and early 20th century American writers and their literary legacy; American literature and its connections with feminist thought, desegregation and the civil rights movement, environmentalism, and political activism, especially in Florida, and aspects of Southern history such as tourism and its history with Cuba.

Three positions, at the University of San Francisco and Hunter College, are open for applications or in the application review process. More information about these positions is available through the Visiting Scholars page on Wikipedia.

Visiting Scholars continued to produce excellent work. George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum has made significant improvements to the article on U.S. President William Howard Taft. University of Pittsburgh’s Barbara Page continued her work on important women’s health topics. She’s improved the Vaginoplasty article, one of Wikipedia’s most accessed, lowest quality articles. Casey Monaghan, also at Pitt, created a new article for The Ohio Company: Its Inner History, a book about the Ohio Company. So far, articles improved by Visiting Scholars have been viewed about 21 million times.

Our Community Engagement Year of Science collaborations moved forward in March. The WikiCup, a contest to improve and create content, entered its second round. 47 editors remain. This year, judges will award Wiki Ed-sponsored prizes to users who produce science-related content. We’re working with WikiProject Women Scientists and WikiProject Women in Red on virtual edit-a-thons aimed at women in science articles. For more about these collaborations see the Year of Science portal.

Program Support


An image created by Wiki Ed for a post about women in science.
An image created by Wiki Ed for a post about women in science.

In March, Communications Manager Eryk Salvaggio spent time developing web content intended to elevate the profile of Wikipedia assignments with instructors. Through developing more in-depth, long-form posts, Eryk has been able to extend the reach of Wiki Ed’s materials and engage wider audiences, particularly around the Year of Science. One post, “Why Wikipedia matters to women in science,” made the argument for Wikipedia assignments in the context of the “leaky pipeline,” the phenomenon in which women endeavor to earn, or earn, degrees in STEM fields, but do not pursue STEM careers. Based on research into psychology and pedagogy, Eryk crafted an argument for the Wikipedia’s role in solving related problems. The post was one of the most widely-shared articles in Wiki Ed’s history.

Other posts this month have followed a similar strategy of aiming for expanding engagement with our work. Another post, “Five reasons a Wikipedia assignment is better than a term paper,” was the most-read blog post in Wiki Ed’s history.

Eryk has also been working to develop new subject-specific brochures, updating student editing guides, and creating new outreach materials for conferences and events.

Blog posts:

Press Release:

External media


Digital Infrastructure

In March, we focused on developing an integrated survey system into the Dashboard. Product Manager Sage Ross and our development partners at WINTR have been adapting the open source Rapidfire survey engine. They’ve added functionality, updated design, and integrated the tool into the Dashboard.

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration

Expenses for March 2016
Expenses for March 2016

For the month of March, expenses were $254,442 versus the plan of $300,956. Our earlier decision to hold off on expanding our office space and growing our staff remains to be the largest cause of our monthly variance.

Year to Date expenses for March 2016

Our Year-To-Date expenses are $2,223,681, versus the plan of $2,781,227. That’s resulted in a variance of $557k. The decision to hold back planned expenditures until long-term funding is secured accounts for 93% of the variance. The remaining variance is a result of the timing of expenses.

Our spending level over the last 3 months has remained steady at 79% of our planned budget.


Frank Schulenburg addresses a crowd at an event in the Presidio in March 2016.

Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and Senior Manager of Development Tom Porter traveled to Boston and New York City in March. They met with supporters, including the Stanton Foundation and the Simons Foundation. Frank and Tom also met with the Luce Foundation to discuss potential intersects between the two organizations. The meetings informed our approach toward institutional funding for FY 2016–17, and built new relationships with organizations aligned with our mission. Based on the learnings from this trip, Tom and Frank re-evaluated Wiki Education Foundation’s pipeline of foundation prospects and adjusted the organization’s development targets.

On Monday, March 28, Wiki Ed hosted a reception in the SF Film Centre’s Palm Room at The Presidio. The event was hosted by Board Members Sue Gardner and Lorraine Hariton. The evening attracted a small but diverse group of attendees, including those in higher education, tech, and philanthropy. Local Wiki Ed staff attended, along with local business partners and friends.

Frank addressed the room to welcome guests and talk about the Year of Science. Dr. Jonathan Hunt, USF professor of rhetoric and a Wiki Ed instructor, spoke about his experience teaching with Wikipedia in the humanities. Dr. Amin Azzam, another Wiki Ed instructor, offered perspective from the field of medicine.

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • Overseeing the annual planning and budgeting process for fiscal year 2016–17
    • Supporting the fundraising team in securing funding

In March, Frank joined Tom on a trip to Boston and New York to meet current and potential funders. Frank also supported Tom and Development Associate Victoria Hinshaw in preparing and executing the fundraising event in the Presidio of San Francisco.

As part of the annual planning process, Frank, Director of Program Support LiAnna Davis, and Tom created a preliminary list of projects and activities for next fiscal year. The list contains high-level descriptions of programmatic activities and will be shared with a network of potential funders in April.


Visitors and guests

  • Dr. Amin Azzam, UCSF School of Medicine
  • Dr. Tina Brock, UCSF School of Pharmacy
  • Dr. Mary Jean Koontz, Golden Gate University
  • Lorraine Hariton, board member
  • Sue Gardner, board member

by Eryk Salvaggio at May 02, 2016 10:49 PM

The Roundup: Cold War Science

The Wikipedia Year of Science is an unprecedented initiative to improve science content on Wikipedia. Students at the University of Oklahoma are participating as part of Peter Barker’s “Cold War Science” course.

These students research the politics around weapon systems of the Cold War and beyond (1945 to the present), exploring their connections to nuclear power, space exploration, and more.

In many classes, that research would end up in a term paper, submitted for a grade, and forgotten. This class does something different. Students take these facts, cited to top quality resources, and share them with the world through Wikipedia. So far, their work has been read by 73,000 people seeking knowledge about this period in science.

One student created an article on the Green Light Teams. These Top Secret Special Forces squads were trained to detonate small-scale nuclear weapons behind enemy lines. The soldiers for this mission, which began under the Eisenhower administration, were compared to “kamikaze pilots without the airplanes.” The program, never deployed, was considered top secret until 1984.

Other students expanded articles on nuclear weapons as well, such as the RDS-37 article, about the USSR’s first hydrogen bomb, and a series of high-altitude tests by the US, Operation Hardtack I.

Another new article from this course is a History of Soviet rocket and jet propulsion. That article examines the USSR’s rocketry science from 1922 to 1991, including space exploration and military technology. The article on the UK’s “Manhattan Project,” codenamed “Tube Alloys,” is another fascinating read of how nations pursued nuclear weapons development.

The history of science is a critical field for understanding the scope of science, and developing ideas of scientific responsibility. Information about Cold War weapons technology helps inform public decisions and opinions on contemporary issues related to nuclear weapons.

These are just some of the 47 article students have contributed to Wikipedia! Thanks to these students for their hard work bringing their knowledge of science history to the rest of the world.

Photo: Soviet stamp 1968 by Bin im GartenOwn work (own picture), Public Domain.

by Eryk Salvaggio at May 02, 2016 03:00 PM

Not Confusing (Max Klein)

How A Small Bug I Wrote Started Helping Holocaust Deniers

In my early software education, I’d been taught about how untested  software could result in deadly radiation-therapy machines. But since I never planned to be in the medical devices industry, these sort of warnings didn’t apply to me – after all I was only writing Wikipedia bots. But this week I was proved wrong when another Wikipedian messaged me with a query unlike any I’d received before (empahsis mine):

Hi Max, I’ve pinged you a couple of times, but in case you’re not getting them, would you mind commenting?

It’s about an edit your bot made to Wikidata that changed the infobox of a featured article about a book about the Holocaust, Night.

Read the rest

by max at May 02, 2016 02:13 AM

Tech News

Tech News issue #18, 2016 (May 2, 2016)

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May 02, 2016 12:00 AM

May 01, 2016

David Gerard

“Neoreaction a Basilisk” by Phil Sandifer is kickstarting.

I’ve spent the last six months editing a book. Phil Sandifer found himself writing about “A genre dominated by, in effect, an AI crank, an extremist technolibertarian, and whatever the fuck Nick Land is” and I begged to preview it. I ended up researching, editing, copyediting and helping with the publicity. It has been six months of solid and hearty yuks and lulz and a sheer delight.

The kickstarter is up now (announcement). So far it’s landed about $1500 in twelve hours; people seem quite keen to get this book. And let me assure you that the stretch goal essays are also things the world needs.

There are also excerpts ([0] [1] [2]) and images of what the conspiracy zine and full colour editions will look like. (If I had $70 of actual money spare I’d be sending it in to get the conspiracy zine and colour editions, which look to be gorgeous productions.)

“Or, to put it another way, this is a book that uses Eliezer Yudkowsky, Mencius Moldbug, and Nick Land as a loosely stitched together foundation on which to build an oddball philosophical structure made of bits of Hannibal, China Mieville, Alan Turing, Thomas Ligotti, John Milton, and a futuristic AI that will torture you for all eternity if you buy a mosquito net.”

edit: and at $3000 in the first 18 hours, Phil decided he’d better preview the $4000 essay, “The Blind All-Seeing Eye of Gamergate.”

by David Gerard at May 01, 2016 12:38 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

International Workers’ Day: Nine people who made lives better for workers

Photo from the Jewish Women's Archive, public domain.

Photo from the Jewish Women’s Archive, public domain/CC0.

Clara Lemlich Shavelson was a leader of the Uprising of 20,000, the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York’s garment industry in 1909. Later blacklisted from the industry for her labor union work, she became a member of the Communist Party USA and a consumer activist. In her last years as a nursing home resident she helped to organize the staff.

Lemlich came to the attention of the outside world at the mass meeting held at Cooper Union on November 22, 1909 to rally support for the striking shirtwaist workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company and Leiserson Company. After the leading figures of the American labor movement and socialist leaders of the Lower East Side spoke in general terms about the need for solidarity and preparedness, Lemlich demanded the opportunity to speak.

Lifted onto the platform she demanded action:

“I have listened to all the speakers, and I have no further patience for talk. I am a working girl, one of those striking against intolerable conditions. I am tired of listening to speakers who talk in generalities. What we are here for is to decide whether or not to strike. I make a motion that we go out in a general strike.”

The crowd responded enthusiastically and, after taking a modified version of the ancient Jewish oath of fidelity to Israel — “If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise” — voted for a general strike. Approximately 20,000 out of the 32,000 workers in the shirtwaist trade walked out in the next two days.

Lemlich took a leading role in bringing workers out, speaking at rallies until she lost her voice.

Today is International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day or Labour Day, in some places). The day has origins with the Haymarket affair, a bombing undertaken on a labour demonstration in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday May 4, 1886. May 1 is a public holiday in many countries worldwide, and is a celebration of labourers and the working classes promoted by labour groups and social activists each year.

The text in this blogpost is adapted from the respective Wikipedia articles, each written by hundreds of different editors who have released their contributions under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license. For full author information, see each article’s respective history page.

Lech Wałęsa

Lech Wałęsa is a retired Polish politician and labor activist. He co-founded and headed Solidarity (Solidarność), the Soviet bloc‘s first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. Wałęsa was an electrician by trade. Soon after beginning work at Lenin Shipyard (now Gdańsk Shipyard), he became a trade union activist, for which he was persecuted by the Communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He became a co-founder of the Solidarity trade union movement. After martial law was imposed in Poland and Solidarity was outlawed, Wałęsa was arrested again. Upon his release from custody he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989, and to a Solidarity-led government.

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was an Irish-American schoolteacher and dressmaker who became a prominent labor and community organizer. She helped coordinate major strikes and cofounded the Industrial Workers of the World. Jones worked as a teacher and dressmaker, but after her husband and four children all died of yellow fever in 1867 and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, she began working as an organizer for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers union. From 1897, at about 60 years of age, she was known as Mother Jones. In 1902 she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organizing mine workers and their families against the mine owners. In 1903, to protest the lax enforcement of the child labor laws in the Pennsylvania mines and silk mills, she organized a children’s march from Philadelphia to the home of President Theodore Roosevelt in New York.

Kailash Satyarthi

Kailash Satyarthi is an Indian children’s rights and education advocate and an activist against child labour. He founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (lit. Save the Childhood Movement) in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries. It is largely because of Satyarthi’s work and activism that the International Labour Organization adopted Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour, which is now a principal guideline for governments around the world. His work is recognized through various national and international honours and awards including the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014, which he shared with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

Lucy Parsons

Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons was an American labor organizer, radical socialist and anarchist communist. She is remembered as a powerful orator. Parsons entered the radical movement following her marriage to newspaper editor Albert Parsons and moved with him from Texas to Chicago, where she contributed to the newspaper he famously edited, The Alarm. Following her husband’s 1887 execution in conjunction with the Haymarket Affair, Parsons remained a leading American radical activist as a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and other political organizations. Described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” in the 1920s, Parsons and her husband had become highly effective anarchist organizers primarily involved in the labor movement in the late 19th century, but also participating in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless and women.

Cesar Chavez

Chavez speaking at a rally in Delano, Califronia. Photo by Joel Levine, CC BY 3.0.

Chavez (right) speaking at a rally in Delano, Califronia. Photo by Joel Levine, CC BY 3.0.

Cesar Chavez (born César Estrada Chávez) was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW). A Mexican American, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. He has since become an icon for organized labor and leftist politics, symbolizing support for workers and for Hispanic empowerment based on grass roots organizing. He is also famous for popularizing the slogan “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, one can” or, roughly, “Yes, it can be done”), which was adopted as the 2008 campaign slogan of Barack Obama.

Louis Blanc

Louis Jean Joseph Charles Blanc was a French politician and historian. A socialist who favored reforms, he called for the creation of cooperatives in order to guarantee employment for the urban poor. Following the Revolution of 1848 Blanc became a member of the provisional government and began advocating for cooperatives which would be initially aided by the government but ultimately controlled by the workers themselves. Blanc’s advocacy failed and, caught between radical worker tendencies and the National Guard, he was forced into exile. Even though Blanc’s ideas of the workers’ cooperatives were never realized, his political and social ideas greatly contributed to the development of socialism in France.

Anna Walentynowicz

Anna Walentynowicz was a Polish free trade union activist. Her firing in August 1980 was the event which ignited the strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, set off a wave of strikes in Poland, and quickly paralyzed the Baltic coast. The Interfactory Strike Committee (MKS) based in the Gdańsk shipyard eventually transformed itself into the Solidarity trade union, of which she became a prominent member. By September, more than one million workers were on strike in support of the 21 demands of MKS, making it the largest strike ever. Walentynowicz’s arrest became an organizing slogan (Bring Anna Walentynowicz Back to Work!) in the early days of the Gdansk strike. She is referred to by some as the “mother of independent Poland.”

Leon Bates

Leon E. Bates, Sr., was an American labor union leader with the United Auto Workers union (UAW) from 1937 to 1964 when he retired as an “International Representative” of the UAW. He was one of the first African-American union organizers to work for the “UAW-CIO” (Congress of Industrial Organizations). While at Briggs Manufacturing Company in Detroit, Michigan, Bates became involved in the organized labor movement, he worked passionately for the organized labor cause at Briggs. By 1937, the UAW-CIO had organized and signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Briggs Manufacturing Company. Through that effort Leon Bates became one of the most outspoken union stewards of UAW Local #212. In 1937 Briggs was the fourth largest employer of African Americans in the Detroit area with more than 1,300 or approximately 10% of its total payroll.

Joe Sutherland, Communications Fellow
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at May 01, 2016 12:43 AM

April 30, 2016


An unusual issue at featured pictures candidates

It began with Godot13 nominating a scan of a banknote at featured images. That is not unusual. Getting acess to the US National Numismatic Collection with a medium format camera and an aparently impressive knowlegde of how to use it will give you a pretty large number of feature picture candidates (enough to break the wikicup certianly). Godot13’s currency images thus usualy pass through with little fuss.

The problem in this case is that the banknote the image is of (An 1880 Liberian 25-cent note) was previously thought not to exist. This results in one of those rare cases where an image breaks wikipedia’s no orginal research policy. Images are largely exempt unless they “illustrate or introduce unpublished ideas or arguments” in this case the idea is that the note exists. Sure it almost certianly does (although fake items have got into museum and archive collections before) but that is still originaly research. Happily the numismatics mob are second only to the railway anoraks in generating reliable sources for everything so this issue should resolve itself soon.

by geniice at April 30, 2016 02:27 PM

April 29, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

Happy Arbor Day 2016

Windbeeches on the Schauinsland in Germany. Photo by Richardfabi, public domain

Happy Arbor Day 2016! Today is a time to commune with nature and take care of or plant a tree. This year, Arbor Day falls on the last Friday of April.

There are lots of ways to celebrate plant a tree day; walk in the forest, hug a tree, water a tree, or even plant a tree. You could check out some famous trees on Wikimedia Commons and read about them on Wikipedia.

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

Comfort Maple

Comfort Maple 01.jpg
The Comfort Maple Tree, Pelham, Ontario. Photo by Osenoa, CC BY 3.0.

The Comfort Maple tree is an individual sugar maple (Acer saccharum) located in Comfort Maple Conservation Area in the Town of Pelham, Ontario. The tree is estimated (not based upon a complete ring count) to be about 500 years old. If correct, it would make this one of the oldest sugar maple trees in Canada. Read more…

See more images of the Comfort Maple on Wikimedia Commons.

Populus nigra

Populus nigra in Velká Bystřice 2c.jpg
Black poplar (Populus nigra), one of two in the park in Velká Bystřice, the Czech Republic. Photo by Jan Kamenicek, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Populus nigra, the black poplar, is a species of cottonwood poplar, the type species of section Aigeiros of the genus Populus, native to Europe, southwest and central Asia, and northwest Africa. Flora Europaea: Populus nigra

It is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree, reaching 20–30 m (rarely 40 m) tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter, though some old individuals have grown much bigger (more than 3 meters DBH for several trees in France). Read more…

See more images of the Populus nigra on Wikimedia Commons.

Bodhi Tree

Bodhgaya 3639641913 f4c5f73689 t.jpg
The Mahabodhi Tree at the Sri Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. Photo by Ken Wieland, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Bodhi Tree, also known as Bo (from Sinhalese: Bo) and “peepal tree” in Nepal and Bhutan, was a large and very old sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosaSimon Gardner, Pindar Sidisunthorn and Lai Ee May, 2011. Heritage Trees of Penang. Penang: Areca Books. ISBN 978-967-57190-6-6)Although some English sources call such a Banyan tree, such is a different fig species located in Bodh Gaya, India, under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment, or Bodhi. In religious iconography, the Bodhi tree is recognizable by its heart-shaped leaves, which are usually prominently displayed. Bodhi trees are planted in close proximity to every Buddhist monastery.

See more images of the Bodhi tree on Wikimedia Commons.

Sarv-e Abarkuh (Cypress of Abarqu)

Cypress of Abarqu.JPG
Cypress of Abar-Kuh. Photo byTruthBeethoven, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sarv-e Abar-Kuh (سرو ابرکوه, “cypress of Abar-Kuh”), also called the Zoroastrian Sarv, is a Cupressus sempervirens tree in Abarkuh in Yazd Province of Iran. It is protected by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran as a national natural monument and is indeed a major tourist attraction with a height of 25 metres and circumference of 18 metres. It is estimated to be over four millennia old and is likely the second-oldest living thing in Asia. Earth watchers Center.

See more images of the Sarve-e Abarkuh on Wikimedia Commons.

Národní park Podyjí Dyje Sealsfielduv Kamen Nationalpark Thayatal Sealsfield Stein 2013 10.jpg
The Podyjí National Park, a national park in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic / EU. Photo Joadl, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT.

Enjoy the day! Hopefully it’s nice outside where you are. Enjoy looking through our images.

Andrew Sherman, Digital Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Andrew Sherman at April 29, 2016 06:48 PM

Discussing current events and legal theory at Yale

Photo by Nick Allen, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Photo by Nick Allen, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Many fields of law have been developing for hundreds of years, and generally change at a rather slow pace. Not so for the law of and affecting the Internet, however. With the pace of change of technology and how people communicate online, we Internet lawyers at the Wikimedia Foundation need to keep up with the scholars and legal experts on the digital frontier. To that end, we have developed and cultivated a relationship with our colleagues at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. I visited our friends there last month.

On February 29, I attended a talk by Nuala O’Connor, President & CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology. She discussed a range of topics, including privacy, surveillance, free expression, and the recent legal battles over encryption in the U.S. O’Connor said that the “equilibrium” between the rights of the state and the rights of the self is out-of-balance, with the rights of the state currently overwhelming the rights of the self. This is evident particularly with regard to the U.S. government’s mass data collection programs (over which WMF is currently suing the NSA). O’Connor finds particularly upsetting the government’s technique of getting data about individuals by accessing information stored in the private sector, which they can often do without due process.

O’Connor spoke to the ongoing conversation about encryption and security, sparked in part by the FBI’s recent attempt to get Apple to help them access encrypted data on an iPhone. O’Connor addressed that case, supporting Apple’s decision to resist the government’s demands and defending individuals’ access to strong encryption that law enforcement cannot circumvent. She said that breaking encryption is a larger threat to national security than is bad actors using encryption to prevent law enforcement from seeing their communications.

In the private sector, however, O’Connor’s biggest concern is not privacy but harm to free expression. In her assessment, corporate codes of conduct are working fairly well with regard to user privacy and data. She worries, though, that we are harming our ability to communicate with each other by taking down content under the guise of protecting ourselves. She explained that progress and understanding can only happen if we are able to disagree, listen to each other, and work together, but that that cannot happen if online discussion spaces are moderated to eliminate conflict.

Wikimedia’s values resonate strongly with the ones O’Connor expressed in her talk. We care deeply about the freedom to express, share, and gain knowledge. Essential to that freedom is privacy—the ability to be anonymous if desired, and to access knowledge without being watched and tracked by governments.

In my next day at Yale, I attended a talk by Alain Pottage, Professor of Law at the London School of Economics. In his talk, which was more theoretical than O’Connor’s, he explored the idea of brands (and therefore trademarks) as meaningful and valuable not because of their indication of the quality of a product (as in the traditional model of trademarks) but because of their use in collaborative communication among consumers. That idea is evident in the Wikimedia movement. Wikipedia is a valuable brand, but that value does not come from simply the content of the articles—that content is published under a Creative Commons license, allowing anyone to make a complete mirror of the content of Wikipedia if they like. However, the communities of writers, editors, photographers, and volunteer administrators that contribute to Wikipedia are not so easily replicable. They are what make the Wikipedia brand valuable, because they keep Wikipedia alive—always growing and improving.

I also sat in on a session of a course, “Law and Disruptive Technology”, taught by ISP fellows BJ Ard and Rebecca Crootof and Professor Jack Balkin. They were discussing the significance and limits of using analogies to create policy around and to apply law to new technologies. They looked especially to the concept of “cyberspace”, and how metaphors of “cyberspace” as a physical place led lawmakers and judges to apply existing law to cyberspace as if it were a physical place. This physical space conceptualization helped allow the Internet to be as borderless a communication medium as has ever existed. Editors around the world can all contribute to the same Wikipedia article without paying postage, obtaining a visa, or going through customs.

The laws that affect the overlap of the Internet, intellectual property, and our ever-connected electronic devices is still fairly new and rapidly changing. Visits like this help us stay connected with the people who are keeping up with those changes, analyzing, and predicting how they will shape the future. They keep us involved with ongoing debates in Internet-related law so we can best protect Wikimedians from threats to their privacy, freedom of expression, reputation, or ability to participate in the projects.

Charles M. Roslof, Legal Counsel
Wikimedia Foundation

by Charles M. Roslof at April 29, 2016 04:36 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 301



Result of a tactile map generated with a hobby CNC machine 1


  • Marek Kleciak worked along with user Cetus on the JOSM plugin CAD Tools. This plugin will be soon available again with advanced features.
  • User Sibo Dolem asks in the German Forum about missing information in the wiki to help map building basements and stairways using 3D tagging.
  • Mapbox’s mappers share techniques for fast mapping like usage of gaming mice (shortcuts) and multiple JOSM windows at the same time to speed up their mapping (to avoid waiting until an upload is finished).
  • Martin Weilandt asks at Talk-Transit mailing-list about how to handle bus stops that have no name.


  • Following their blog post about their mapping efforts with OpenStreetMap, Indie Manufacturing has written an articles about the best practices to be followed while mapping in OpenStreetMap.
  • OpenCage Data Blog talks to Simon Poole about OSM in Switzerland.
  • Pratik Yadav describes the Open Peer review process at Mapbox, where the new QA system for OSM data edits is accessible for anyone to participate.
  • There are crowdfunding efforts from OSM community in Benin to acquire a 275 km² high resolution satellite imagery for Cotonou in Western Africa. The campaign will end on the May 1st, and only a few Euros are still needed to reach the required amount.
  • Stijn Rombauts is the Belgian mapper of the month.


  • Nakaner suggests a mechanical edit removing lcn=yes and rcn=yes in the state of Lower Saxony (Germany), if they have been imported from an official map in 2014. See also the discussions at German forum and Talk-de mailing list. (Forum automatic translation)

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • OSMF is looking for a part-time “administrative assistant”.  As having staff in the OSMF is a highly emotional topic, the idea of hiring is not considered a good thing by everyone.
  • The draft of the Articles of Associations (AoA) of OpenStreetMap UK can be commented on at Google Docs.


  • You can apply for a scholarship to join the SotM 2016 in Brussels, the deadline is Sunday May 21, 2016.
  • Rory McCann suggests giving a talk about Townlands.ie on the State of the Map in Brussels on the Talk-ie mailing-list. Which talk will you give?

Humanitarian OSM



  • Andy Mabbett wrote about Birdtrack on the Talk-GB: “Birdtrack is an online citizen science website, operated by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) on behalf of a partnership of the BTO, the RSPB, BirdWatch Ireland, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and the Welsh Ornithological Society”. Birdtrack switched to OSM.
  • Rihards Gailums wants to “create a working prototype of cloud based service” Drivenet Maps. He describes here that this prototype is necessary for autonomous driving projects.
  • Mobify, a Mapbox reseller, which develops store location maps thinks that it has bought an “enterprise subscription” from Mapbox and therefore does not have to attribute OpenStreetMap as data source (i.e. a violation of OSM license). The map of CricketWireless also lacks the OSM attribution. Mapbox had been criticized about this in the past too. The missing attribution in Pieology‘s map has been discovered and reported on the Talk-us mailing-list on 13th April and has been corrected in the meanwhile. Mikel Maron from Mapbox replied back on this thread stating that “OpenStreetMap attribution is always required — Mapbox enterprise users can elect to remove only the Mapbox attribution. We here at Mapbox are on this.”

Open Data

  • Gluon announces a new JavaFX component named Gluon Maps for map display.
  • Wikipedia initiated a photo contest “Wiki Loves Earth“. The aim is to collect photos from natural monuments and nature reserves. The contest starts on May 1st.


  • Jochen Topf reports about a new feature in the Osmium tool which can be used to store the actual latitude/longitude values of nodes that are element of a way in a more efficient way and as raw OSM data. Those are optimized for speed when reading.


Software Version Release Date Comment
MapFactor Navigator Free 2.1.97 2016-04-13 Bugs fixed, better alternate route calculation and more
SQLite 3.12.2 2016-04-18 Some bugs fixed
OSM Buildings 2.4.2 2016-04-20 Updates for CI automation
OsmAnd for iOS 1.2.3 2016-04-21 Bug s fixed
Mapillary for Android 1.8.5 2016-04-22 Mapbox sdk upgrade for in-camera map
OSRM Backend 5.0 2016-04-22 Many API changes and some fixes
iD 1.9.3 2016-04-25

provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

Did you know …

Other “geo” things

  • 23 wonderful historical maps of 23 European cities. (automatic translation)
  • The David Rumsey Map Collection (which we already reported about) now offers to 67,000 historic high resolution maps for download. This short video explains how to use the Georeferrencer, a tool that shows the historic map simultaneously side by side (more or less like map compare) with a recent OSM map.
  • CartoDB and Mapzen have announced a technology and commercialization partnership.
  • The GIScience Research Group at Heidelberg University is offering a position as senior researcher or Postdoc (100%, TVL) in Geoinformatics with a specializion in quality analysis, mining, improvement and integration of data from VGI data sources such as OSM or Social Media.
  • Vox.com writes about the expected billion outlay for map data, which probably belongs to companies like Google etc. to enable self-propelled vehicles.
  • Tagesspiegel.de offers an interesting website for visualizing differences in aerial photography of Berlin from recent days and those of 1928.
  • Geographers at the Friedrich-Alexander University Nuremberg/Erlangen investigate in a project about the democratization of cartography based on OSM and WikiMapia in Israel and Palestine. (automatic translation)

Upcoming Events

Donde? Que? Quando? País
Rennes Rencontres à Rennes 25/04/2016 france
Seattle OSM Seattle Ecuador Mapathon Seattle 27/04/2016 us
Barcelona Mapathon MSF/Missing Maps Barcelona 27/04/2016 spain
Metro Manila Mapping Party: UP Village Quezon City 30/04/2016 philippines
Berlin Hack Weekend 30/04/2016-01/05/2016 germany
Trentino Ala @ library 20:30 02/05/2016 italy
Liguria Genova @ Zenzero, via Torti 20:30 with ALID 02/05/2016 italy
London Missing maps mapathon at the Welcome Trust 03/05/2016 united kingdom
Manila Metro Manila Mapping Party with #MapPHL, Quiapo 07/05/2016 philippines
Bogotá Mapping party – Bogota: Usaquén 07/05/2016 colombia
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle mappeurs 10/05/2016 france
Trentino Besenello @ library 14:00. With support of Portobeseno and the Besenello Municipality 14/05/2016 italy
Kyoto 京都世界遺産マッピングパーティ:第13回 特別編 延暦寺(西塔、横川)(再) 14/05/2016 japan
Clermont-Ferrand ”’State of the Map France 2016”’ 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 france
Rapperswil 7. Micro Mapping Party 20/05/2016 switzerland
Milano ”’State of the Map Italy 2016”’ 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 italy
Brno ”’State of the Map CZ+SK 2016”’ 21/05/2016 czech republic
Rapperswil ”’Swiss PG Day 2016”’ 24/06/2016 switzerland
Salzburg FOSSGIS 2016 04/07/2016-06/07/2016 austria
Salzburg AGIT 2016 06/07/2016-08/07/2016 austria
Seattle State of The Map US 2016 23/07/2016-25/07/2016 united states
Tokyo State of The Map Japan 2016 06/08/2016 japan
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint”’ 20/08/2016-22/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’Workshops at FOSS4G 2016”’ 22/08/2016-23/08/2016 germany
Derby Derby 23/08/2016 united kingdom
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016”’ 24/08/2016-26/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint Part II”’ 27/08/2016-28/08/2016 germany
Brussels ”’State of the Map 2016”’ 23/09/2016-26/09/2016 belgium
Metro Manila ”’State of the Map Asia”’ 01/10/2016-02/10/2016 philippines

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 appropiate..

This weekly was produced by Nakaner, Peda, Rogehm, derFred, escada, jinalfoflia, mgehling, stephan75, wambacher, widedangel.

by weeklyteam at April 29, 2016 12:29 PM

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia Hackathon finds in Jerusalem a fertile ground for experimentation

File:The 2016 Wikimedia Hackathon in Jerusalem.webm

WATCH: video of the 2016 Wikimedia Hackathon in Jerusalem. You can also view this on YouTube and Vimeo. You can watch a version with open captions (without burned-in English subtitles) on Commons. Video by Victor Grigas, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Wikimedia Hackathon in Jerusalem (1-3 April 2016) will be remembered as a very successful experiment: it was the first time that the developer event was organized outside of Western Europe, the first time that the Community Wishlist—another promising experiment—was presented as a goal, and the first time that other developer activities were organized by other groups.  Thanks to the attraction of the Hackathon, the Wikimedia Hackathon was accompanied by WikiArabia technical meetups in Amman and Ramallah.

The basic formula of the Wikimedia Hackathon remained untouched: an international gathering of developers and other technical contributors working on different projects and combining a mix of interests, skills, and experience levels. 118 participants from 18 countries worked in at least 36 projects that were showcased at the end of the event. There were also dozens of discussions, scheduled or improvised. Other numbers supported the success of the event. For 36 people (42%), this was their first Wikimedia Hackathon. 24 participants (29%) were women. 24 participants (29%) came from Israel (excluding Wikimedia Israel staff), 40 (33%) were affiliated with various Wikimedia chapters, and 35 (29%) were Wikimedia Foundation staff.

The connection with the Community Wishlist

The idea of a showcase had been a successful experiment at the Wikimedia Hackathon 2015, an instant winner. The showcase was an incentive to get demonstrable results, and to share them with pride and joy within the big group that had lived together during three intensive days. However, the results of last year showed that almost none of the dozens of projects showcased had been completed and deployed after the event—or put a different way, there were many promising projects but almost none of them have yet benefited real Wikimedia users.

This is why this time we experimented with the Community Wishlist, selecting some projects suitable for the Hackathon and encouraging participants looking for ideas to work on them. The hypothesis was that even if these developers didn’t complete their projects in Jerusalem, the continuous focus on the Community Wishlist in future activities would increase the likelihood of these projects being picked up again until they are ready to be used.

Eight Community Wishlist requests saw some progress in Jerusalem:

Many other projects were showcased as well, notably:

Check the Showcase page for the full list.

Jerusalem, an international attraction

The bet on a non-European host for the Wikimedia Hackathon paid off in many ways. The local participation was well represented with some experienced Wikimedia developers, some newcomers recruited weeks ago at a workshop in Tel Aviv, and many editors that volunteered in the organization of the event under an impeccable coordination by the Israeli chapter. Thanks to the meetup in Ramallah (so close geographically, so distant politically), a symbolic participation of two Palestinians materialized.

In addition to the critical mass of participants from Western Europe and North America, it is worth mentioning the emphasis put by the organizers on sponsoring several participants from Eastern Europe, three developers from India (all successful Google Summer of Code students), and one from Argentina.

Once the visitors got used to the local standards of security, everybody enjoyed all that the old and the new city has to offer. The somewhat labyrinthine Hansen House provided a perfect setting for the Hackathon, with rooms of all sizes, a very social patio assorted with food and drinks, and a traditional garden with trees, pillows, and good WiFi. Up above, a warm sun and the blue sky. In the evenings, the Hackathon troupe moved to The Post Hostel, entirely booked for us, to continue working, eating, drinking, and eventually sleeping.

WikiArabia as an inspiration to experiment further

File:WikiArabia tech meetup in Ramallah 2016.webm

Video of the 2016 WikiArabia tech meetup. You can also view on YouTube and Vimeo. You can watch a version with open captions (without burned-in English subtitles) on Commons. Video by Victor Grigas, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Hackathon in Jerusalem, and the WikiArabia tech meetups in Amman and Ramallah, were unrelated events. In fact, international politics set them so far apart that for the locals of each area it was between very difficult and impossible to trespass. This difficulty became a motivation to explore possibilities. The Levant User Group invited the Wikimedia Foundation to co-organize the two meetups under the umbrella of WikiArabia, a few international tech contributors responded to the call, and both unprecedented events got about 30 participants each. A success beyond our initial expectations, that we hope will result in more local Wikimedia tech activities in the region.

A secondary effect of the success of these workshops points to the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017, organized by the Austrian chapter in Vienna. Wikimedia Austria is already exploring the possibility of organizing introductory workshops together with CEEWikiLink partners in Eastern European cities, with the intention of inviting the best newcomers to the Hackathon. This model could be also picked up by other chapters, who could organize these workshops in their own regions as well. The Wikimedia Hackathon would become an incentive to organize local workshops for newcomers anywhere, and these workshops would become an incentive to organize a more international and more diverse Wikimedia Hackathon.

This is the beauty of the Wikimedia Hackathon: a stable core concept open to continuous experimentation. Next iteration: Wikimania Hackathon in Esino Lario on 22-23 June.

Quim Gil, Engineering Community Manager
Wikimedia Foundation

by Quim Gil at April 29, 2016 02:26 AM

April 28, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

TTIP and Free Knowledge: how the trade treaty (probably) threatens collaboration on Wikipedia

Photo by Greensefa, CC BY 2.0.
Sealed reading room in the European Parliament for documents relating to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The room was initially accessible to only a few Members of the European Parliament. Photo by Greensefa, CC BY 2.0.

Over the past couple of years, the European Union and the United States have been negotiating a new trade treaty behind closed doors. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would arguably “liberalize one-third of global trade”—but we can’t be sure, because negotiations are kept secret. We are already familiar with the secretive nature of such processes thanks to our experience with the negotiations for a similar treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trying to figure out what is going on with TTIP is like trying to figure out who likes whom at a teenager’s party—it takes gossip and guessing. The lack of information in the negotiation process, however, is not merely a result of ongoing tactics as negotiations heat up, it is planned. At a civil society dialogue meeting in 2013, a Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) official’s reply to a question on the Commission’s plans for more transparency was brief: “There will be leaks.”

In fact, leaks are a comfortable tool, not only for civil society and consultancies, but also for policy makers. It lets them share preselected information with the public without having to assume responsibility or comment on it. As any official will tell you: “The European Commission does not comment on leaks.”

What we know

We know the European Commission’s initial public position on intellectual property in TTIP. On copyright, DG Trade set three goals: 1) remuneration rights for performers, 2) public performance rights for authors and 3) resale rights for creators. The approach is one-sided, but at least we know about it.

In June 2015, the European Parliament has adopted a non-binding recommendation addressed to the European Commission, in which it included welcome passages in favour of data protection and against surveillance. However, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) remarkably refused to call for an exclusion of intellectual property rights (IPR) from the negotiations.

Sadly, not much else has been published or “leaked” so far. The logic of trade deals dictates that elements included in previous treaties will be proposed here as well. We thus need to be vigilant. From a free knowledge and digital rights perspective, this means that we have to look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Free knowledge projects like Wikipedia couldn’t exist if their users could not easily share information and legally re-use content that is in the the public domain. Following the above described mechanism of international treaties, there are three aspects in TTIP we need to monitor carefully in the coming negotiations rounds:

  1. An additional right on temporary copies would have the potential to clash with the only currently harmonised exception in the EU and make technology harder to use and information harder to share.
  2. A trade treaty fixing the copyright term to lifelong plus 70 years would make it virtually impossible to revert the term lengths to at least the Berne Convention minimum of lifelong plus 50, thus permanently cementing the last contraction of the public domain.
  3. A further crackdown on technology circumventing digital rights management (DRM) would make it even harder to use and reuse knowledge, even where the use is clearly covered by a copyright exception.

These points are either part of TPP or the current CETA drafts. They are going to be proposed in the TTIP negotiations.

Photo by Dimitar Dimitrov, public domain/CC0.
TTIP negotiation document released to the European Parliament. Photo by Dimitar Dimitrov, public domain/CC0.

Efficient negotiations and democratic legitimation

As in any international negotiation, there are two valid and conflicting demands. The people negotiating need to be able to do their job and this does include at times being allowed to speak off the record. On the other hand, in order for a treaty to be legitimate, the public needs to know what is being agreed upon and have enough time to reflect on it and to try to change the outcome.

So, negotiation logic dictates, as people involved will let you know, that a team’s goals and intermediate positioning are not known beforehand in order to not weaken its position. Another argument regularly put forward is that discrete talks are usually quicker and more effective. And while this is true, such strong secrecy as previously witnessed in the TPP negotiations and currently displayed  in the TTIP processes seems short-sighted. It takes away some of the pressure in the room but builds it outside on the street. Outside pressure generates distrust, which is poison for public support and thus legitimacy.

In a decision by the Court of Justice of the EU, the judges weighed the public interest relating to the efficiency of decision-making against the public interest in openness. Albeit a different case, the judges ruled in favour of openness with the underlying belief that negotiation proposals “can be subjected to positive and negative comments by the public, and the risk that delegations would refrain from submitting written proposals does not sufficiently undermine the decision-making process to justify the refusal of access”.

The Logic of Leaks

Leaks might, at times, seem like a good patch to ease the tension between negotiating tactics and the need for legitimation. They do have huge drawbacks, though. They aren’t a legal concept and thus stand outside the democratic procedure. They are more often than not unreliable sources leading to confusing. Instead of creating trust and confidence they do quite the opposite. They quite often create distrust.

So far we have kept digital rights out of TTIP campaigns. But if information about the actual content of the treaty is shared only at a late stage of the process, fixing mistakes would be virtually impossible. This could put stakeholders in an all-or-nothing situation. Not exactly a great precondition for building wide support for an “ambitious trade deal”.

Dimitar Dimitrov, Project Lead
Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU

by Dimitar Dimitrov at April 28, 2016 09:35 PM

April 27, 2016

Wiki Education Foundation

Sunshine meets science in San Diego

In early April, Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson and I attended the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego. The theme was Transforming the Future through Science, which is also the goal of the Wikipedia Year of Science 2016.

The Experimental Biology conference is a multidisciplinary meeting that brings together more than 14,000 scientists from six academic societies. We met with faculty and researchers representing anatomists, physiologists, biochemistry and molecular biologists, pathologists, nutritionists, and pharmacologists.

We heard from Sandi Clement, genetics and molecular biology instructor at California Polytechnic State University, who has been teaching her biology courses with Wikipedia since Fall 2015. Her students use Wikipedia’s science articles to fact check a recent news item. Students discover what’s missing from those articles, and identify new articles for creation.

Sandi also teaches women’s, gender and ethnic studies courses where students contribute articles on women scientists. She was the featured faculty member at the Wikipedia edit-a-thon sponsored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Outreach Committee and the Simons Foundation. Based on the list of African-American women in STEM fields, she found that biochemist Tracy L. Johnson was missing, which she’s now working to improve.

These are just some of the ways that Wikipedia and science courses can complement one another. If you’d like to know more, check out our list of teaching resources or read about our effort to increase Wikipedia articles on women scientists. If you’d like to add a Wikipedia component to your science course, you can reach us at: contact@wikiedu.org.

by Tanya I. Garcia at April 27, 2016 04:00 PM

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Find, Prioritize, and Recommend: An article recommendation system to fill knowledge gaps across Wikipedia

A map indicating how much you can learn about the world through Wikipedia if English is the only language you speak. There is little to no content available in the many dark areas in the world, especially in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Map by Markus Krötzsch, TU Dresden, public domain/CC0.

The French Wikipedia may have more than 20,000 articles on individual asteroids, but if you are one of 27 million people speaking Hausa as a first language, Wikipedia doesn’t yet have an entry on the universe. The English Wikipedia may have more than 5 million articles on topics as diverse as extreme sports or unusual causes of death, but if English is the only language you speak, there is still little to no content to learn from about vast regions of the world—as the map above suggests.

Each day, thousands of volunteer editors are filling knowledge gaps by creating new Wikipedia articles, translating existing ones, and identifying poorly covered topics in any given language. However, discovering and deciding what to edit can be a daunting task, both for editors who are new to Wikipedia and for more-seasoned ones.

Understanding how to improve and accelerate content creation across languages and providing guidance to volunteers is what motivated us in Wikimedia Research to team up with computer science researchers from Stanford University. The team set out to design and test a system that would find, rank, and recommend missing articles to be created across different languages.

We designed personalized recommendations by taking into account editor interests (extracted from their public contribution history), proficiency across languages, and the projected popularity of an article in the target language, if it were to be created. We ran a controlled test of these recommendations on the French-language Wikipedia, by comparing personalized recommendations and non-personalized recommendations against a baseline: our results show that recommendations tripled the rate at which editors create articles, while maintaining the same level of article quality as articles created organically in French Wikipedia. The experimental design, algorithm implementation and results are described in detail in a study recently presented at the 25th World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2016) in Montréal, Canada.[1]

Motivated by the results of the experiment, we were joined by software developers and designers to create a first, prototype version of an article recommendation tool that can recommend articles to be created or translated across any of the languages currently supported in Wikipedia. The tool uses a simplified version of the algorithm, based on the pageview, search, and Wikidata APIs, to identify trending articles in a given source language and missing in a target language. It also allows you to search for recommendations based on the specific topics you are interested in.

Screenshot by Dario Taraborelli, public domain/CC0.

The tool also comes with an API, currently integrated into the Content Translation tool—a product designed by the Wikimedia Language team to create new articles by translating from one language into another. Specifically, the API powers the Suggestions feature of the tool, providing recommendations to volunteers based on articles they previously translated. Tool developers have also started integrating the API in third-party applications, like Dexbot’s tools. Both the article recommendation tool and its API are open source: anyone can access, use, and build on this technology to design or improve new applications.

Over the coming months, we will be monitoring the tool closely to learn more about how it’s being used by editors and how it can be further improved. If you try out the article recommendation tool, you can provide us with feedback on our discussion page. We are particularly interested in seeing how the tool can be used by larger groups participating in edit-a-thons, meetups, or other outreach events, as a handy solution to generate lists of missing articles. If you would like a demonstration of the tool for your local edit-a-thon, let us know!

Leila Zia, Research Scientist
Dario Taraborelli, Director, Head of Research
Wikimedia Foundation


[1] Ellery Wulczyn, Robert West, Leila Zia, and Jure Leskovec. 2016. Growing Wikipedia Across Languages via Recommendation. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on World Wide Web (WWW ’16). Geneva, Switzerland, 975–985. DOI:10.1145/2872427.2883077 arXiv:1604.03235

This study was nominated for best paper at WWW ‘16. You can read more about it in a Stanford University press release.

by Leila Zia and Dario Taraborelli at April 27, 2016 05:11 AM

April 26, 2016

Domas Mituzas

on political correctness

Wikipedia administrators received this letter (“Midom” is my username on Wikipedias):

Hi, I’ve nothing to do with any of this but passing through oc.wikipedia.org I have noticed someone who I presume to be some kind of admin, one Midom who seems to be rather lacking in social skills, judging by what’s going on here:https://oc.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discussion_Utilizaire:Midom

I think I appreciate the technical issues being dealt with in there, but his behaviour is way out of line and clearly oversteps what is considered acceptable today in any functional online community.

Especially when this behaviour is directed towards a group who are small and lacking in resources, but very enthusiastic, such as the Occitan Wikipedia lot, this is just plain bullying.

He has, very much without discussion or consultation, decided on the deletion of a significant amount of data–while the reasons appear legitimate, the way in which this was approached by Midom is lamentable (and this is a different discussion, but one could argue that if the templates under discussion lend themselves to be misused in the way they allegedly were, that doesn’t say much about the competence of the programmers involved so perhaps they, being a handsomely paid bunch these days, unlike the oc.wikipedia.org editors, should step in and find a solution to the problem. Just saying.)

So, for what little is left of Wikipedia’s credibility, I urge you to take action and:

  • Reprimand Midom for his reprehensible actions and attitude.
  • Admonish him to present his apologies to the Occitan Wikipedia community for his rude, aggressive, and unhelpful behaviour.

As I said, I personally have no axe to grind here, but I do not condone bullying.

I might as well add, having made a note of the information volunteered by this user in his user page, I do reserve the right to contact his employer and make them aware of his highly irresponsible behaviour and questionable social and technical competence. Midom, it is up to you to take this as a learning experience and make amends with the users you have inconvenienced and offended. Providing some assistance to the OC guys in migrating their data into a form that doesn’t clog up the servers wouldn’t go amiss either. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:24, 23 April 2016 (UTC)

To this person who decided that my operational intervention (and resulting soap opera) back in 2012 was heavy handed, I appreciate your communication skills and eloquence. Extreme political correctness was not needed to operate Wikipedias back in the day. What I remember from that time is that there’d be always some crazies like you, and we had to deal with them in one way or another. Thats what being open and transparent means.

On the other hand, you can always blame me for everything, thats what Wikipedia’s Blame Wheel was invented for:blamewheel

by Domas Mituzas at April 26, 2016 04:00 PM

April 25, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

Engaging librarians (and others) through social technologies: A #1lib1ref think-piece

It only takes one to go on a "citation hunt"—more on that below. Photo by Arturo de Frias Marques, CC BY-SA 4.0.

It only takes one to go on a “citation hunt”—more on that below. Photo by Arturo de Frias Marques, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Wikimedia movement has long prospered at the intersection of technology and social initiative. After all, the [edit] button on the top of every page is a deceptively simple piece of technology that allows communities of editors to continuously improve the “sum of all human knowledge.” As Wikipedia’s community has grown, so have technologies that allow increasingly sophisticated ways of advancing our amazing mission. How can we take these collaborations even further?

As part of the Wikipedia 15 birthday celebration (#Wikipedia15) in January 2016, the Wikipedia Library team (@WikiLibrary) ran a social media campaign asking librarians all over the world to “Imagine a World where Every Librarian Added One More Reference to Wikipedia.” We called it #1lib1ref.

We were inspired by how the skills and perspectives of librarians align with the Wikimedia community’s: valuing good research and citation practices, a tendency for organizing information, expertise in helping people find research, and a desire to preserve knowledge of all types. Though the campaign didn’t actually involve every librarian in the world, we found it to be a great success, reaching at least 30,000 readers and soliciting over 1,250 edits to Wikipedia. (To read more about what happened and what we learned, check out the lessons from the campaign). Our campaign helped librarians recognize how reaching out to Wikipedia’s global audience can serve their needs, interests, and mission as well.

This campaign was more than an outreach effort: it helped us to explore new technologies that facilitate diverse communities to participate in Wikipedia. To support a clear call to action for librarians, we incorporated three social technologies to grow the campaign: social media, hashtags (both inside and outside of Wikipedia), and microcontributions. Together they helped us share an inviting and compelling story of collaboration between Wikipedia and libraries.

Social media

The first experiment in our campaign focused on the use of social media for community programs. Wikipedia’s content emerged from a fundamentally social context: volunteers came together to help share knowledge. Growth of the early Wikipedia community largely emerged from participants’ social networks: listservs and personal relationships helped volunteers discover the project, and many of these editors continue to be motivated by the social good created by Wikipedia.

The Wikimedia community still uses social networks and activities to help organize and grow. For example, campaigns like Art+Feminism spread via Facebook to solicit interested Wikipedia readers to show up at physical locations where volunteers are hosting satellite events.

#1lib1ref explicitly targeted the library community through social media–specifically Twitter. Doing so tapped into a pre-existing and robust interconnected network of folks engaged in digital reference around the world. Twitter was the ideal tool for this campaign. To begin with, we harnessed our existing @WikiLibrary account, which had already followed thousands of relevant thinkers and potential collaborators. By sharing content regularly, we built up our follower base as well, creating a broad and receptive audience for our messaging.

Twitter has an infinite ‘feed’ of information, but moments are highlighted and rebroadcast as “likes” and “retweets”. A tweet from us might be picked up by a librarian in Calgary, retweeted to her network, and then retweeted from an official Internet Archive account. Twitter is the ideal venue for viral campaigns, because virally is the only way information spreads through its platform.

The dialogue on Twitter was so widespread, engaging, and fun that we captured it in a Storify, a narrative of tweets and posts that shows how the thousands of little pieces add up to something more impactful.



Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Screenshot, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The hashtag is a fundamental technology on most social media platforms today, helping connect disparate activities under a single label or tag, a collective set of tangentially related elements. Since its inception as a tool on Twitter, the hashtag has become a nearly ubiquitous strategy for social communities to spontaneously organize collaborative efforts, whether that’s on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… or Wikipedia.

In March 2015, the Hatnote team (volunteer developers Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi) announced that the “humble Hashtag is now on Wikipedia”, launching the first hashtag search for Wikipedia edits: a tool that looks for hashtags in edit summaries and computes statistics about their usage. This was a key tool to track #1lib1ref edits. (Learn more about how the hashtag is being used throughout Wikimedia project.)

Usage on Wikipedia was easy because we already established a single, unique, unified hashtag for our campaign. This was in contrast to a previous and less successful global virtual event we ran around open access where we just piggy-backed on the general #OAweek15 hashtag, which yielded little uptake. The #1lib1ref hashtag provided a number of benefits:

The hashtag encapsulated the goal of the campaign, making it easy to recognize, decipher, and follow. Participants traveling from one communication channel, such as Twitter or Facebook, into Wikipedia were able to use one common communication tool to tie their edits to the larger campaign. It helped new editors learn the purpose of edit summaries. It provided a lightweight way for us to track the changes made by campaign participants, saving us from extra steps like collecting usernames or emails, and running Wikimetrics and Quarry reports.

As with other technologies, the hashtag was only adopted by some participants some of the time — many forgot to add the hashtag in their edit, or misused it on Wikipedia and other social media channels. That is okay, and part of the nature of working collaboratively and virally — it’s imperfect. But this one simple tool provided connection and brought together thousands of remote participants.

The hashtag challenges the Wikimedia community to think: How can we acknowledge the social connections that make Wikipedia editing compelling, in a way that meaningfully unites contributions across the myriad sites and silos of the digital world?


Readers of the larger Wikipedias, like English Wikipedia, often only see articles after many years of volunteer collaboration—with dozens or hundreds of footnotes and a large body of well-researched text. To these readers the knowledge we produce can look almost complete! But our regular contributors to Wikipedia know that a continuous flow of small changes is what creates our work of collective knowledge.

Dozens of small edits help take a Wikipedia article from the smallest unreferenced “stub” into a well-developed “Featured Article”. For experienced editors, the steps between these levels of quality are intuitive, but for readers who want to become editors, they’re often hard to understand. For #1lib1ref, we used a tool that highlighted just one of the steps: adding references to verify information. The tool we found for this campaign was called Citation Hunt.

Citation Hunt was created by volunteer developer Guilherme Gonçalves to answer a nagging question: how could he create a fun and simple way for him to contribute to Wikipedia? Citation Hunt’s answer was a simple interface with a single function: the tool shows you a piece of text tagged with [citation needed], then you find and add a reference for it (or skip to another entry). Unlike other tools, Guilherme explained to us, “it was not only made for new editors, but also by a new editor, so I got to shape it in a way that solved my own problem of trying to become a contributor to Wikipedia. Thankfully it ended up working for others too!”

Librarians during the #1lib1ref campaign were very excited by the tool, giving it praise on multiple occasions. “cool way to explore [paragraphs in Wikipedia needing citations]”, wrote one on Twitter. Some librarians even describing it as addictive: “Now I’m stuck on this Citation Hunt tool”, and another librarian responded “It’s like a pokie machine for librarians. DING dopamine hit.

What makes this tool successful? Guilherme writes:

I’d suggest making sure that tools for new editors are very focused and specialized, even if that means omitting powerful features. Tools that target new editors should address individual problems that are easily understood, and the tool should ultimately prompt the user to perform clear, small and self-contained actions that, if possible, leverage their expertise to keep things interesting.

That’s an excellent definition of a microcontribution.

Imagine: hundreds of thousands of articles are in the English Wikipedia backlog of maintenance tasks and many parts of English and other language Wikipedias need additional maintenance. Though Guilherme is focused on expanding the utility of Citation Hunt, he already has other ideas about where else new editors could help if the editing worfklow was more “manageable”.

Category:Underpopulated_categories seems like a good candidate for gamification too, and it looks very suitable for absolute beginners. Category:Articles_needing_sections and Category:All_copied_and_pasted_articles_and_sections also look nice for slightly more experienced newcomers. I’d love to see the articles/sections in these categories made available for browsing in a clever way, and perhaps paired with mentors to give feedback on the new editor’s contributions if they’re nontrivial.

Other developers are capitalizing on similar opportunities, most notably Magnus Mankse’s Wikidata Game that allows a lightweight but engaging way to help clean up parts of WikiData without having to understand how all of Wikidata is organized. What an amazing and easy way to help others participate in Wikimedia projects!

What’s next?

There are a lot of opportunities for expanding both the #1lib1ref campaign and the social technologies that helped make it a success. For the first year, we found that the campaign spread best in languages and communities where volunteers and local Wikimedia affiliates committed to sharing the story in social media platforms and through strategic partners. The English, Spanish, and Catalan communities were particularly motivated. To truly help all librarians participate in their local Wikimedia communities, we hope to find more global leaders to share the message about #1lib1ref in their local contexts.

We are also seeing continuing impact, like librarians at Butler University writing Wikipedia Education Program Assignments on how to add a single reference or an Italian librarian and Wikipedian engaging her public library network with an umprompted presentation on the campaign.

Moreover, we think that #1lib1ref can offer a model for future campaigns using strategies for developing outreach for the Wikimedia movement. Engaging new communities is about finding the right intersection of technology and social initiatives, and what works well in one context is likely to find success in another.

Alex Stinson, Strategist, The Wikipedia Library
Jake Orlowitz, Program Manager, The Wikipedia Library
Wikimedia Foundation

by Alex Stinson and Jake Orlowitz at April 25, 2016 08:50 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

The Roundup: A billion years of boredom

What does a billion years of boredom look like?

Thanks to student Wikipedians in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class at Oregon State University, we have a pretty good idea.

Those students created an article about the “Boring Billion,” a billion-year period of our planet’s history when not very much happened at all. Ironically, it’s pretty fascinating. For a billion years, biological life generally stayed put, the climate mostly didn’t change, and the supercontinent didn’t really shift.

All of Earth’s current inhabitants can learn more about that period thanks to the work of those students, who crafted an article tackling each “boring” aspect of the time period and the reasons it stayed that way.

Other students in the class expanded the blue carbon article from a short stub into an equally substantial article. Blue carbon is the carbon captured by coastal and ocean ecosystems (such as mangroves and salt marshes). It accounts for a substantial portion of the atmospheric carbon fixed by biological processes. As we lose these ecosystems, they’re able to absorb less atmospheric carbon. Thanks to these students, people around the world can quickly learn about the importance of these threatened environments.

Student editors also expanded articles on Yaquina Bay and remineralisation from short stubs into substantial articles. The work of these students has already been read 272,000 times.

Developing articles on Wikipedia helps people find good information about topics that interest them (even if it’s a billion years of boredom). But it’s also a powerful, accessible tool for people to learn about their world. Thanks to these students for helping make science more accessible for a global audience!

Photo: A Simple Crescent Earth” by Kevin Gill from Nashua, NH, United States – Earth, CC BY-SA 2.0

by Eryk Salvaggio at April 25, 2016 04:00 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #17, 2016 (April 25, 2016)

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April 25, 2016 12:00 AM

April 23, 2016

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - Dorothea Dix

Mrs Dix is remembered on the "Great Americans Series". It is a series of stamps and it includes many women. They are definitive stamps meaning that they were part of the regular issue of a country's stamps, available for sale by the post office for an extended period of time and designed to serve the everyday postal needs of the country.

Arguably Mrs Dix is honoured in this way and recognising this in Wikidata is not obvious.

Mrs Dix is not called a psychiatrist. However her insight into the suffering of the "insane" and her work did contribute more to mental health than the many who used that title and only saw people and were of no real benefit to them.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2016 08:28 AM

#Wikipedia - anti-psychiatry and Mrs Elizabeth Packard

The term "anti-psychiatry" is seen as derogatory. By being labeled as such, many arguments are dismissed. For this reason it is reasonable that the case of Mrs Packard is adorned with the template of "anti-psychiatry" after all she founded the Anti-Insane Asylum Society and wrote several books to make her case.

Mrs Packard was committed to an asylum because a husband could have his wife committed without either a public hearing or her consent. She disagreed with him about religion and the couple also disagreed on child rearing, family finances, and the issue of slavery. In 1863, in part due to pressure from her children who wished her released, the doctors declared that she was incurable and discharged her.

Mrs Packard wrote several books about and founded the "Anti-Insane Asylum Society". In 1867, the State of Illinois passed a "Bill for the Protection of Personal Liberty" which guaranteed all people accused of insanity, including wives, had the right to a public hearing. She also saw similar laws passed in three other states.

When this is what anti-psychiatry is about, I do question the use of  "anti-psychiatry" as something negative.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2016 08:27 AM

#Wikidata - #women in #psychiatry

Women who make their mark in psychiatry are underreported. Currently Wikidata knows currently about 366 female psychiatrists. Many of them have been off the trodden path, many of them have expressed opinions that are very much in contrast with what is generally accepted at true.

I learned about one person, Mrs Paula Caplan because her books and publications were not accepted on a forum that is supposed to support people. Mrs Caplan is a decorated psychiatrist, a professor it is just that a corporate sponsor did not like what she had to say. One of the awards she received, the Christine Ladd-Franklin award she shared with another professor; Mrs Lisa Cosgrove. When you read her resume, it is not strange to find that she does not have a Wikipedia article. Her work addresses the problems and ethical dilemmas that arise in the mental health field (especially in psychiatry) when there are financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and researchers or professional organizations.

One way to chip at the gender gap in our Wikimedia world is by adding info about all the remarkable women of psychiatry in Wikipedia or Wikidata. When you read about all the missing people, it becomes obvious how much work there is to do justice to them and to their work.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2016 08:26 AM

#Wikidata - #women in #psychiatry II

Paula Caplan - foto by Lesley Bohm
As diversity is important and as psychiatry has my focus, it is obvious what to do. I concentrate on Wikidata and among others I made several improvements to the item of Mrs Caplan. One thing was missing so I asked for a photo to be published under a free license.

Mrs Caplan was underwhelmed with Wikidata, yes I showed her "Reasonator" but the information is incomplete. She send me this photo and her resume and she informed me that the Wikipedia article about her is incorrect in places.

So the challenge is to improve her article, do justice to who she is and the relevance of her work in psychiatry. Evaluate it and seek a neutral point of view of what her science tells us in other articles as well.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2016 08:25 AM

#Wikidata - its sex ratio II

In April 2014 I blogged about the sex ration at Wikidata. At the time there were 1,332,383 "humans", 760,616 were male and 154,455 were female. Now in April 2016, the numbers are different: there are 3,135,792 humans, 2,442,444 are male and 466,748 are female.

The percentages were: 57% males, 12% females and 31% unknowns. This time they are 78% male, 15% female and 7% unknown.

Based on these Wikidata numbers, the gap between men and women has substantially increased. On the other hand, the number of humans that were not identified as male or female has substantially decreased.

This does not mean at all that the movement to chip at the gender gap is a bust. Far from it. Numbers only expose realities. What can easily be achieved in Wikidata is more focus on the females in any group. The subject I focus on is mental health and I concentrate on female psychiatrists or psychologists. I add statements for them and add where possible the data from categories to Wikidata. In this way they become better connected, more information becomes available. In this way the subject I care for gains quality and relevance and it is women who benefit most.

Numbers provide an indicator, when numbers are this big they should not have our focus. At best they move glacially. More relevant is to know if they as a group, gain more readers over time. These numbers reflect an increase in quality of articles and data. That is an approach that has potential.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2016 08:24 AM

Wikimedia Tech Blog

“Dare to be different, yet hold your head high”: the impact of Prince’s death on Wikipedia

Photo by Zarateman, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Zarateman, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The death of Prince—a musician, producer, and artist of rare talent and influence—on 22 April 2016 stunned the world. Tributes poured in from all over the world, including from noted Prince fan Barack Obama, who wrote that “Few artists have influenced the sound and trajectory of popular music more distinctly, or touched quite so many people with their talent. As one of the most gifted and prolific musicians of our time, Prince did it all. Funk. R&B. Rock and roll. He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, a brilliant bandleader, and an electrifying performer.”

Even his English-language Wikipedia article, which tracks to what reliable sources say about him, has high praise: “Prince was renowned as an innovator, and widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and vocal range.” The article on “purple” notes his love for the color. Prince was one of the best-selling artists of all time and was known for—among many other things—his name change to an unpronounceable symbol, and playing to over a hundred million people at Super Bowl XLI while rain poured down around him.

In the wake of his passing, many people shared their Prince stories online, such as one man who took to Twitter to share his experience of a show he attended with a date: “Bodyguard approached girl, ‘Want to meet Prince?’ Never saw girl again. Fin.” Others shared examples of his music, whether it was perennial favorite “Purple Rain” or his acclaimed cover of “Creep” at Coachella in 2008.

Such was Prince’s influence and presence that even celebrities lost their cool when he came on stage; the Roots’ Questlove said earlier this year that when Prince came on stage at a celebrity-laden event, “Jay-Z, Rihanna, everybody ran to the stage.” American late-night television host Seth Meyers, speaking about the same gathering, said “In a room full of the coolest people on earth, Prince is still the coolest person on earth.”

One Wikipedia editor, when asked what Prince meant to them, pointed to Prince’s performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at his own Hall of Fame induction ceremony and simply wrote, “he knew how to play a guitar.”

Millions of people took to Wikipedia to confirm the news of Prince’s death and, for the uninitiated, to learn more about him. In the 24 hours since his death, people viewed Prince’s English-language Wikipedia article 10,145,136 times.

Minute-by-minute graph of pageviews to Prince’s article, 16:00–21:00 UTC. Graph by Andrew Sherman, public domain/CC0.

In the first full hour alone after reports of his death were published, starting at 16:49 UTC, we recorded 1.84 million page views. To put that figure in context, that is approximately 510 views per second. At its peak minute (17:18 UTC), Prince’s article was viewed 48,572 times, or 810 views per second. Such numbers are not unheard of after celebrity deaths; when Whitney Houston passed away in 2013, her article received 425 hits per second during a single hour. Researcher Andrew G. West wrote there that “Generally, prominent deaths dominate the top-100 traffic events and beyond” on Wikipedia.

The numbers show that Prince will, perhaps fittingly, join another similarly beloved entertainer who passed away this year. After David Bowie‘s death in January, his Wikipedia article was the first since January 2013 to hit a weekly view count with eight figures (according to the Signpost‘s Traffic report).

Globally, people viewed Prince’s Wikipedia articles, available in over 50 languages, about 14 million times in the 24 hours after his death. You can examine similar data divided by day over at Wikimedia Labs.

In addition to the high traffic levels, so many people were trying to update the English-language article that the rate of edit conflicts, an error received when another edit is saved while another is being made, spiked at fifteen per minute. That’s around five times the normal figure.

Between the views and edit rate, the article on Prince was accessed so frequently that some readers encountered a rare error indicating the page had failed to load because “too many users are trying to view this page.”

This was PoolCounter, an extension designed to protect the Wikimedia servers against massive spikes in views like this. It was put into place following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, which resulted in an “unprecedented” 5.9 million views in just 24 hours—and one million of those came in a single hour, making it possibly the “most [views] in a one-hour period of any article in Wikipedia history” until that point. This traffic caused an unprecedented CPU load spike impacting all of the Wikimedia sites.

Ori Livneh, Principal Software Engineer on the Wikimedia Foundation’s Performance team, likened the rush of readers to a library of manuscripts. “When you return the book, it gets placed on a shelf behind the counter, where it will stay for a week,” he said. “If no one requests the book for a full week, it will be moved back to the vault.”

Rather than fetch this “book” from the vault each time, PoolCounter ensures it is instead fetched from the “shelf”—a temporary holding place. The extension prevents needless wastes of energy clogging up the entirety of Wikipedia for everyone else.

“Only one server is actually occupied with rendering the page. The other servers see that the page is already being rendered, so if anyone else asks for the page they will simply tell him or her to wait,” Livneh told us. “PoolCounter provides a means for individual servers to coordinate work with one another, which helps us make sure that the all content remains accessible and editable, not just the article that is experiencing a spike of public interest.”

“Without PoolCounter, all of Wikimedia’s MediaWiki servers would have been tied up with the work of displaying and processing the Prince article,” he explains. “It would have been impossible to view or edit the majority of all other content on Wikimedia.”

Prince’s influence and legacy will be widely reflected upon and discussed in the weeks following his death. Wikipedians, making nearly 600 edits in the past day, have worked to make sure a historical, encyclopedic account is available to provide insight into the life and work of a supremely talented individual.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

Special thanks go to Tilman Bayer for collating the pageview data; Joe Sutherland for helping with all areas of this post, including the conclusion; Andrew Sherman for the graph and assistance with statistics; and Samantha Lien.

by Ed Erhart at April 23, 2016 12:20 AM

April 22, 2016

Wiki Education Foundation

What a bond: Wiki Ed partners with the American Chemical Society

Educational Partnerships Manager, Jami Mathewson
Educational Partnerships Manager, Jami Mathewson

Wikipedia is one of the most-accessed references in the world, with aims to include the sum of all human knowledge. Yet its coverage of crucial sciences, such as chemistry, lacks substance. Look at Wikipedia’s list of Featured Articles — the highest-quality, most complete articles — and you’ll find only 41 related to chemistry. By comparison, you’d find 533 comprehensive articles about military history and warfare.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the Wiki Education Foundation’s partnership with the American Chemical Society (ACS). For the Year of Science and beyond, we’ll work with ACS instructors to increase public access to reliable scientific research.

Wikipedia matters

Wikipedia gets 500 million views every month. In its 15 years, it has evolved into a robust resource where people —including students and instructors — go for information. Perhaps more importantly, Wikipedia is a top reference for the public. Outside of the university library, people have limited access to recent scientific research and discoveries, stinting their science literacy. The world deserves to access important knowledge, and the knowledge deserves a wide readership. With access to reliable information, non-scientists, including policy-makers, can make decisions informed by science. Rather than be reactive, academics are taking action and embracing Wikipedia as a platform for public scholarship.

ACS and its members already have shown considerable interest in improving chemistry articles. At last year’s annual meeting, Wiki Ed participated in a symposium on Wikipedia and education. Conference attendees also joined a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, and several attendees were excited about the opportunity to amplify their impact by bringing Wikipedia into the classroom.

Students and Wikipedia sure have chemistry

Wiki Ed has long supported chemistry courses in our Classroom Program—so many that we developed a quick guide for writing chemistry articles. The spring 2016 term isn’t over, and chemistry students have already contributed 175,000 words to Wikipedia. That’s about 240 bound pages. That book would be a best-seller: Over 2 million people have read those pages. That’s more than the number of subscribers to Popular Science magazine. How many students can say their work has made such a real-world impact before they’ve even turned in their final assignments?

A solution for diversifying STEM fields

As a part of the Year of Science initiative, we’ll work with ACS instructors and their students to create and improve biographies of women chemists. We believe information is advocacy, and our students can play a significant part in advocating for successful women whose research is largely overlooked. Together, we can use Wikipedia’s reach to highlight notable women in the field, increasing their visibility as role models, especially to budding and future scientists. Historical role models, as well as contemporary scientists, challenge stereotypes, reduce stigma, and inspire future generations.

If you’re a chemist interested in our initiatives, please see our Year of Science page or get involved by emailing us: contact@wikiedu.org.

Arbre de Diane sorti du bécher 11.jpg by ΛΦΠOwn work, GFDL.

by Jami Mathewson at April 22, 2016 04:00 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

TED is partnering with the Wikimedia community to add “ideas worth spreading” to Wikimedia projects

Photo by Factologist5000, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Photo by Factologist5000, CC BY-SA 4.0.

TED, the U.S. based nonprofit dedicated to “ideas worth spreading,” offers more than 2,000 free talks from expert speakers on education, business, science, technology and creativity. In a new partnership with Wikimedia community members, TED has donated the massive amount of metadata behind these more than 2,000 talks, many of which have been transcribed and translated by a worldwide network of TED volunteers.

This is helping Wikimedians make it easier and more efficient to find multilingual knowledge on a given TED-related topic, from the science of love to the surprising benefits of mushrooms, across all Wikimedia projects. Wikimedians in Residence are integrating this data into the Wikimedia projects, and helping TED employees and its community engage on those projects.

Beginning in February, Wikimedians Jane Darnell and Andy Mabbett have been working with TED in a six-month residency program as the organization’s Wikimedians in Residence, a program that places editors within cultural and educational institutions to help unlock and share an institution’s collections on the Wikimedia sites. Together, they are cataloguing this large set of TED metadata on Wikidata, the freely licensed Wikimedia knowledge base. So far, they’ve catalogued more than 1,000 talks.

The partnership grew out of months of discussion between TED and Shani Evenstein Sigalov, an Israeli educator and Wikimedian, who facilitated the partnership. Evenstein Sigalov worked with TED to determine the organization’s needs, goals, and ideal fit for a GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) partnership, as well as helped TED find the best Wikipedians for the residency. Having facilitated GLAM partnerships and residencies with institutions like the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and the National Library of Israel, Evenstein Sigalov was familiar with the process of starting a new partnership, only this time she would be supporting the partnership from more than 5,000 miles away.

“I have been inspired by TED Talks for many years,” Evenstein Sigalov told the blog. “Being an advocate for free knowledge and a Wikimedian, I believe our movements share common goals and am excited to make information from TED Talks more accessible to the world. I hope that the relationship between TED and Wikipedia will foster closer ties between our communities.”

By adding TED metadata to Wikidata, Darnell and Mabbett are documenting what knowledge is available from TED talks and making it easier for that information to be found and used across Wikimedia projects. They are also using the data from TED talks to identify gaps in knowledge on the Wikimedia projects. For example, Darnell and Andy plan to identify notable TED speakers with no accompanying Wikipedia article in English and other major languages. Mabbett says that these individuals have “very interesting life histories for us to document.”

Darnell and Mabbett are also planning to collaborate with TED employees and TED’s volunteer communities as well to engage them in the Wikimedia projects and expand TED-related content on the sites. As part of this, they’d like to run edit-a-thons with TED staff and the public to raise awareness of the project.

“Ideas are powerful,” said Deron Triff, Head of Media Partnerships and Format Innovation at TED.  “They can expand perspective, change attitudes, and ultimately contribute to a better world. At TED, we aim to make great ideas accessible to everyone seeking a deeper understanding of our world. Today, we’re excited to work closely with the Wikipedia community to further our unified mission of sharing knowledge.”

If you would like to get involved and stay up to date on the project, please feel free to visit the project page.

Samantha Lien, Communications Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

by Samantha Lien at April 22, 2016 07:59 AM

April 21, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

Let’s take Wikipedia to the Moon!

Photo by NASA, public domain/CC0.

Photo by NASA, public domain/CC0.

It’s not surprising that there is a Wikipedia article about the Moon, nor is it surprising that there is one Moon landings.

Technically speaking, it’s 32 articles on Moon landings in total—the subject has been covered in 32 different languages by 32 different volunteer communities. That’s quite an achievement by quite a number of people, isn’t it? But maybe it’s also not surprising, even though there are actually more articles on Moon landing conspiracies than on Moon landings (39 versus 32).

Now, Wikipedia’s goal is to be the sum of all knowledge, but what is that even supposed to mean?

Maybe it means that you can only know for certain if you get involved. 15 years ago, when Wikipedia was launched, many people doubted that anything good could come of an encyclopedia that anyone can edit freely, anytime and anywhere. Others didn’t argue, they just began editing. Well, you know how it all turned out: Wikipedia today is the greatest source of knowledge that has ever been freely available. Children have grown up using it and have never seen a world in which people didn’t check Wikipedia on a daily basis.

Okay, but what about those Moon landings? While not everyone would agree that pushing that edit button and getting involved with Wikipedia is easy (It is, try it! Tens of thousands of people do it regularly.), it’s definitely harder to get involved with landing on the Moon. Right?

Wrong! It’s just as easy as pushing the edit button, literally. Here’s proof: go to Meta-Wiki and join the community discussion about taking Wikipedia to the Moon. This isn’t a belated April fools’ joke. This is for real. It’s a birthday gift to the global community of Wikipedia editors in the year of our 15th anniversary, and here’s how it has come about:

Space? It’s complicated

One of the last remaining teams in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge is from Berlin, Germany. They are planning to land a rover on the Moon surface, make it drive 500 meters and send images back to earth. That’s the challenge for all competitors. The Part-Time Scientists (that’s what they have named their team) have been working on this since 2007. Now they are in the final stages of preparation, and when they had time to think about what their rover could take to the Moon besides scientific experiments, they didn’t have to think twice: Wikipedia!

That’s basically all the initial email said when we at Wikimedia Deutschland got it. I remember what I was thinking: “The Moon? The Moon is cool! Space travel is cool! Wait, is this spam? Are they serious, and if they are, why would they even need our help?” Because that’s what the Part-Time Scientists were asking for in that email: support with putting Wikipedia on a data disc. Also, they concluded with an invitation to visit their office in Berlin. Which we did, right away. Compared to the distances of space travel, a 45 minute ride by S-Bahn means we’re practically neighbors.

They showed us all the prototypes, and the special ceramic-made data disc that wouldn’t lose storage capacity in space like conventional mediums would. But the disc holds only about 20 GB of data. Wikipedia, with all its language versions, revision histories and its media files is terabytes of data. So, you need to put some thinking into it: What and how to select? There are almost 40 Million articles in close to 300 languages! Who is even in the position to make such a selection – for everybody. And quite irreversibly, too, because this truly is long-time conservation.

These are not the kind of questions you can pay attention to when you’re busy trying to engineer your own Moon rover and organize a 384,000 km journey through space. That’s why the Part-Time Scientists asked Wikimedia Deutschland for support. And even though that didn’t make the above questions any simpler to answer, the one that may seem the most difficult proved to be the easiest:

A challenge to all Wikipedians

No one is in the position to make the call on behalf of a global community of volunteer editors but the global community itself. Think about these fascinatingly “unwikipedian” circumstances: We don’t usually have encyclopedical deadlines, but there is one for this. We don’t have limitations on how much we can write, but we have them for this challenge. This is all very different from business as usual, and it needs to be open to everyone.

Let’s do this the Wikipedia way! Get involved, click the link above and push that edit button. Meta-Wiki has always been the place to discuss upcoming projects and ideas. So, we’ve put all the information we have on Meta, and hereby invite the global Wikipedia community to discuss and ultimately decide on how to bring Wikipedia to the Moon – on-wiki, from start to finish. We have time until the end of the year to discuss, decide, work on content, and, in short, prepare a snapshot of the sum of all knowledge. Hey, 1972 Voyager mission’s Golden Record, you’re about to get company out there …

We’ve been asked if we honestly believe that thousands of Wikipedians from all over the world, from different communities and with different cultural backgrounds can discuss and create one common time-capsule just like that. With a million issues about quality, bias, representation, or facilitation.

Why not? Let’s start editing and see. It doesn’t say “be bold” for nothing. The first step is easy: Check out Wikipedia to the Moon on Meta-Wiki. If you have more questions than you find answered there, just add them. It’s a wiki.

Michael Jahn, Head of Communications 
Wikimedia Deutschland (Germany)

by Michael Jahn at April 21, 2016 06:25 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 300


Disaster Map Ecuador from GIS Science Heidelberg [1] | important features for rescue teams in a map from the University in Heidelberg, Germany


  • Chethan Gowda explains how to solve edit conflicts with JOSM.
  • Aarthy Chandrasekhar explains how the two JOSM plugins that she wrote (The task configuration and the changesetID plugin) help her greatly in her daily work.
  • User Keder publishes a very detailed Proposal (Education 2.0) to rework the tagging scheme for educational facilities.
  • Christoph Hormann notes that ASTER imagery (known from DEM data) is _now_ (UPDATE) open to the public.
  • User PT-53 complains on the German forum that a mapper from Mapbox has mistakingly deleted a newly constructed roundabout which is not visible on Bing imagery.
  • Malcolm Herring again tries to define the tags tower and mast.
  • Jerome wrote a proposal to extend the tagging of Kneipp facilities, and did start the RFC (request for comments).
  • Tom Pfeifer points to his “mini vote” about adding new subvalues to the service tag.


  • Oliver Ritter wrote in his blog post about Geopedia as an universal tool (automatic translation).
  • FredM points to a job offer in Nepal, asking for OpenStreetMap knowledge.
  • Bjørn Sandvik publishes his planning of a hiking trip in the Alps using OpenStreetMap data.
  • Gregory Marler wrote a review of Steve Coast’s OSM book.
  • James Masts asks on the Talk-us mailing list how to contact students and their instructor whose edits are damaging OSM data.
  • The German project Wheelmap.org receives €825,000 from Google.org (via @GoogleDE)


Humanitarian OSM

  • The severe earthquake on the Ecuadorian Pacific coast with about 500 casualties is edited by many helpers from the OSM scene. Because of the considerable volume of messages we focus on some key points, and we are asking the community to help with the folders in the crisis region.
  • The communication of mapping actions runs in several channels in Telegram

    The communication on Twitter via Hashtag #MappingEcuador.

    The List of upcoming Mapathons will be updated in the wiki. The OSM Calendar will be updated as well.

  • [1] In order to provide emergency and rescue forces in Ecuador with routing data the GIScience Heidelberg team set up an OpenStreetMap disaster routing and crisis map collecting and visualizing latest OSM information.The OpenRouteService Disaster Map and the routing graph will be updated regularly.Most importantly, the additional OpenRouteService SOS – route profile currently considers passable and impassable tagged ways and dynamically adjusts the graph weights of OSM streets accordingly.

    ORS also provides an Accessibility Analysis Service for a given location, the possibility to export GPS tracks to be used offline on mobile device and the interactive Avoid Feature Area Tool (in case areas are severely effected by debris and not accessible at all). These features are thus potentially valuable for Search and Rescue (SAR) units.

  • Escada reports about a large “missing map mapathon” in Belgium. It took place at the geography departments of seven universities and with about 190 participants, it produced a good press echo.
  • John Whelan starts a discussion on the HOT mailing list about the rectangular building outlines, how to produce them and how often they are not squared.
  • There is a MSF & Missing Maps Mapathon in Barcelona on 28 April 2016
  • Martin Dittus shows in a video the impact of humanitarian mapping projects on OpenStreetMap community engagement.


  • Andrew Hill created a map using the 2014 USA census to show how many women live (in percent of the total population).
  • Meggsimum shows an interactive map of the German Wine Road and its villages in Palatinate (Germany).
  • Argentina en Python publishes weekly generated maps for Garmin devices for Ecuador and Peru.

Open Data

  • Miranda Katz produced a map to show which countries’ diplomats have the most unpaid parking tickets in New York city.


  • The email client Thunderbird now also uses OSM (starting with version 45.0).


  • Like every year OSM will participate to the Google Summer of Code. Six students will have the opportunity to work on one of the proposed topics.
  • MapJam launched developer API with Open Source maps targeting Google Maps and Mapbox customers.
  • Nathanael Long released his bachelor thesis “pedestrian routing with OSM” (PDF) at the University of Applied Sciences in Stuttgart (supervised by Geofabrik). In it there is a routing graph charged synthetic pavements and road crossings, although these are not recognized as separate footpaths in OSM.


Software Version Release Date Comment
Traccar Server 3.5 2016-03-17
OpenLayers 3.15.1 2016-04-07 Patch release that addresses a regression in the v3.15.0 release.

provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

Did you know …

  • … the PHP program to visualize difference between versions of OSM objects?
  • … the earth quake map ogee with data from USGS?
  • … Mapnificent, which shows for some pre-selected cities the area which you can reach with public transport in a given time. A video explains the details.
  • … Florian Pigorschs Flopp’s map with some neat geographic functions, mostly to help geocachers.
  • this is a multilingual map of India, with more than 100 languages belonging to four different language families which are spoken in India. A multilingual map of the world will be a challenge for OpenStreetMap.
  • … Pascal Neis’ site to search for specific changeset comments within the last 30 days?

Other “geo” things

  • Ivo is a sports addict and has created a site showing the weather in the world in a bit different style.
  • The Oxford Internet Institute shows some maps with different and quite interesting information, e.g. a map about Github users.
  • The recently opened David Rumsey Map Center library at Stanford University, among others preserved 10,000 antiquarian maps. See this video for more information.
  • Vexcel Holding GmbH in Graz (Austria) buys Microsoft’s ultracam department (the developer of a digital camera for aerial photography).

Upcoming Events

Dónde Qué Fecha País
Zürich Missing Maps: Humanitarian Mapping 20/04/2016 switzerland
Badalona Mapes per ajudar a l’Equador 21/04/2016 Barcelona
Newcastle FoMSF Missing Maps Mapathon 21/04/2016 united kingdom
Heidelberg Ecuador Disaster Mapathon at Heidelberg University 21/04/2016 germany
Colorado GIS in Higher Ed. Humanitarian Mapathon Nighthawk Brewery, Broomfield 21/04/2016 us
Manila ”’OpenStreetMap for Beginners on FOSS4G-PH 2016”’ 22/04/2016 philippines
Santiago International Space Apps Challenge 22/04/2016-24/04/2016 chile
Cochabamba Charla OSM en Flisol 22/04/2016 bolivia
Seattle Missing Maps Mapathon 23/04/2016 us
Salta Charla OSM en Flisol 23/04/2016 argentina
Curuzú Cuatiá Charla OSM en Flisol 23/04/2016 argentina
Buenos Aires Taller de mapeo OSM en Flisol 23/04/2016 argentina
Berlin Hack Weekend 30/04/2016-01/05/2016 germany
Metro Manila Mapping Party: UP Village Quezon City 30/04/2016 philippines
Liguria Genova @ Zenzero, via Torti 20:30 with ALID 02/05/2016 italy
Trentino Ala @ library 20:30 02/05/2016 italy
Manila Metro Manila Mapping Party with #MapPHL, Quiapo 07/05/2016 philippines
Bogotá Mapping party – Bogota: Usaquén 07/05/2016 colombia
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle mappeurs 10/05/2016 france
Trentino Besenello @ library 14:00. With support of Portobeseno and the Besenello Municipality 14/05/2016 italy
Derby Derby 17/05/2016 united kingdom
Clermont-Ferrand State of the Map France 2016 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 france
Milano State of the Map Italy 2016 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 italy
Brno State of the Map CZ+SK 2016 21/05/2016 czech republic
Nottingham Nottingham 21/06/2016 united kingdom
Salzburg FOSSGIS 2016 04/07/2016-06/07/2016 austria
Salzburg AGIT 2016 06/07/2016-08/07/2016 austria
Nottingham Nottingham 19/07/2016 united kingdom
Seattle State of The Map US 2016 23/07/2016-25/07/2016 united states
Tokyo State of The Map Japan 2016 06/08/2016 japan
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint”’ 20/08/2016-22/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’Workshops at FOSS4G 2016”’ 22/08/2016-23/08/2016 germany
Derby Derby 23/08/2016 united kingdom
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016”’ 24/08/2016-26/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint Part II”’ 27/08/2016-28/08/2016 germany

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 appropiate..

This weekly was produced by Hakuch, Nakaner, Peda, Rogehm, Ziltoidium, derFred, escada, jinalfoflia, mgehling, seumas, widedangel.

by weeklyteam at April 21, 2016 12:02 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - #YLE, the #Goldman environmental Prize and the #ArticlePlaceHolder

#YLE is a Finnish public broadcaster that announced that it will use Wikidata to label its articles and news items. This is really cool because it means that they have an interest to supply missing labels in Finnish and as a consequence we actually benefit from them.

So let us consider what we can do to make both their and our life more pleasant.

When something happens that is "notable", for instance the latest announcement of the Goldman environmental Prize awardees, we can add the winners. One of the winners is from Cambodia, It can trigger a request for Mr Leng Ouch's article to be written in Cambodian. We can update lists of award winners of the award. We can link to articles in the Finnish press for each and all of them.

Once more newsagents use Wikidata, new use of labels indicates breaking news or renewed interest. This may help journalists worldwide to stay on top of what is current. This may all happen but the most important benefit is that it ensures that Wikidata remains up to date.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 21, 2016 06:38 AM

April 20, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

News on Wikipedia: Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph recreated in London as Syria reclaims town

The Arch of Triumph, destroyed by ISIL last year, was recreated and installed in central London, UK this week. Image by Bernard Gagnon, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Arch of Triumph, destroyed by ISIL last year, was recreated and installed in central London this week. Image by Bernard Gagnon, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

In 2015, jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) invaded and captured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. Months later, they reportedly destroyed large swathes of its cultural and historical monuments, including the Temple of Bel—thought to have been in place at the site since the year 32.

This week, the Institute of Digital Archaeology created a scale model of the Arch of Triumph in the middle of London’s Trafalgar Square, a monument previously destroyed by ISIL upon their capture of Palmyra. “It is a message of raising awareness in the world… We have common heritage,” Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director of antiquities, told BBC News Online. ” Our heritage is universal—it is not just for Syrian people.”

In the Syrian civil war, Palmyra is more than a sacred site. Its central location within Syria makes it strategically important to both sides, which is unfortunate considering the depth of culture preserved so well in Palmyra before the onset of this war.

The New Palmyra project’s work has been more important than ever before during this conflict. The project works on freely-licensed, digital reconstructions of ancient monuments in the city, including the aforementioned Temple of Bel. Launched in October 2015, it helps to combat the destruction of cultural artifacts by retaining them digitally.

Jon Phillips is the founder of Fabricatorz, a global design and technology company which acts as technical advisor to the project’s work. “New Palmyra is very focused on bringing all groups and people to the table to share data about Palmyra,” he explains, “and to releasing that information using the Creative Commons Zero license, so that all may share in the historic reconstruction of Palmyra.”

The image above is the work of Bassel Khartabil, a figure in the Syrian free culture movement currently imprisoned in an unknown location by the Syrian government. His work in photographing the site, which he had been doing from 2005 through to his arrest in 2012, led directly to the creation of the project.

“He gave us the spark to reconstruct Palmyra the open source way,” says Phillips. “Bassel’s culture is free culture.”

His work on the project provided an avenue of preserving the cultural significance of the city amidst massive uncertainty around their future. UNESCO called ISIL’s campaign in Palmyra a form of “cultural cleansing”, stating that they would launch a campaign to evaluate damage, and to protect the remaining ruins in the area.

“While ISIL destroyed parts of Palmyra actively in the last year, the site has been destroyed, rebuilt and reshaped since its creation,” Phillips says. “Regardless of politics, it reawakened the world to the cultural significance of the city.

“We are still in the short term news cycle about Syrian forces retaking the city, so there are loads of articles about the city, and assessment of the damage is taking place. People are now asking, ‘what may be recovered?’ Others are discussing how they may rebuild the city or make a part with new technology.”

A digital reconstruction of the Temple of Bel from the New Palmyra project. Image by Bassel Khartabil.

A digital reconstruction of the Temple of Bel from the New Palmyra project. Image by Bassel Khartabil, public domain/CC0.

The English Wikipedia’s rundown of the events of the past month in the city are documented in the article “Palmyra offensive (March 2016)“, a page created by German Wikipedian Flying Desert Snow Leopard and which has been mostly written by EkoGraf, a user who specialises in articles relating to modern conflicts. Despite only 242 edits having been made to the page—quite a low figure relative to other breaking news topics on Wikipedia—the article is cited with 84 different sources and goes into detail on the specifics of the conflict.

Last month, the Syrian government announced it had retaken nearby city Tadmur from ISIL in what is the third of three named offensives undertaken in the city during the country’s civil war. This was partially thanks to Russian airstrikes in the region, which began on March 9; by March 14, Russia had launched around 80 strikes on the region. Later, mass graves reportedly containing soldiers and civilians killed in initial assaults on the city were discovered by state forces.

The civil war in Syria has claimed some 250,000 lives since unrest began in 2011.

Joe Sutherland, Communications Fellow
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at April 20, 2016 09:15 PM

April 19, 2016

Wikimedia UK

I’ve lived in the UK for 9 years but the government wants to deport me

Ally Crockford at Wikipedia UK board meeting, 2013 (Image by Katie Chan via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ally Crockford, former Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Scotland

I have lived in the UK for what will be 9 years in September. I studied for 5 of those years and worked for four. I completed a PhD, organised international conferences, published papers, spoke across the UK and internationally, and taught for about 7 years. I was also the first Wikimedian in Residence in Scotland, and must have done a reasonably good job at it as my contract was extended several times and I was invited to speak about the work I was doing around Scotland and in Europe.

But this year the UK government brings into law a salary threshold test which means that non-EU workers must earn over £35,000 a year after 5 years of working in the UK or be deported.

I would hope that I would be considered highly skilled and employable – certainly I have spent nearly a decade contributing to the UK economy and society. I have also made connections, instigated projects, and generally built a life here. This has become my home, where I have spent a third of my life and the majority of my adulthood. However, whether the result of pursuing an academic career or because of the economic crisis (I suspect the latter significantly altering the former), my work life has been a constant series of short-term contracts, project-based funding, and similar temporary jobs.

In an attempt to be able to stay in the UK, to reach the 10 year mark and obtain leave to remain, I even left academia and have taken up a full-time position as a Digital Media Officer. But I just couldn’t stay ahead of the increasingly nasty immigration laws. My unique skillset does not qualify me for a work visa, and even if it did, I would not be able to obtain leave to remain after 10 years because my salary is far below £35,000p/a.

I’m tired of fighting. I want to stay here. I want to contribute, pay taxes, be a part of the city and the community that I love. But there’s only so long that a person can live within 18 month windows of security, constantly fretting about the next immigration policy, the next visa application, the next hurdle. And I am a white, middle-class, highly educated woman who speaks English as a first language: if I find the fight exhausting, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I weren’t any or all of these things.

To me, the idea that immigration is a one-in, one-out system is ridiculous. Respected economists have proof that immigration is economically beneficial, that it creates jobs, adds to social security pots, does the exact opposite of everything that the Daily Mail or Theresa May or Nigel Farage claim it does. Here in Scotland, immigration caps and salary requirements will have an even more detrimental effect as nurses, teachers, and people working in a range of essential services will not meet the £35,000 mark.

You never know who is going to be the next Steve Jobs. You don’t know who is going to launch the next Google, or create the next Wikipedia. There is nothing behind this policy other than ignorance, prejudice, and fear. Please don’t let those qualities be what defines this country.

by John Lubbock at April 19, 2016 03:30 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Europeana Art History Challenge begins


Of the 40 Wikipedias being tracked as part of the challenge, Femmes de Tahiti by Paul Gaugin (1891), currently only exists in 7. Painting by Paul Gauguin, public domain/CC0.

This weekend, Europeana, a long-time Wikimedia ally in open culture in Europe, launched a major Wikipedia article translation and Wikidata improvement challenge—the Europeana Art History Challenge. As part of their newly launched Art History collection, the Ministries of Culture of every European Union nation selected 10 high value artworks from their country’s museums to highlight. These 300 works from across the continent form a fascinatingly diverse list, ranging in style, period, medium—everything from contemporary Irish sculpture to ancient Spanish cave-art via Latvian landscape paintings and Bulgarian illuminated manuscripts. The Wikimedia challenge is to try to bring as many of these works into as many of those countries’ national and regional-language Wikipedias as possible.

Only three days into this six-week competition, the clear leader so far is is French Wikimedian Nicolas Vigneron. He has already added hundreds of descriptions to the artworks’ Wikidata entries in Breton, a language of the Brittany region of France and considered “severely endangered” by UNESCO.

“The first article on my to-do list is Tahitian Women on the Beach by Paul Gauguin, who painted a lot about Brittany and spent some time here. I like how his painting is modern while the subject is traditional; it’s a bridge that reminds me of the Wikimedia project: a 21st century digital tool for the 18th century spirit of the Enlightenment.”


Some of the hundreds of fascinating artworks from across Europe selected in the challenge. Browse this visualisation by Hay Kranen at “Wikidata Skim.” Screenshot by Liam Wyatt, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Looking at the work already done, there are several different ways that Wikimedians have chosen to participate. Some are focusing on adding structured data statements (such as artwork dimensions) and translated descriptions to as many items as possible. Some focus on writing high quality articles about their own country’s chosen 10 artworks in the local language Wikipedia(s).

But as the contest progresses, more focus will inevitably shift towards translating—and therefore learning about—each others’ works and their art history. What better way to represent “unity in diversity”, the motto of the European Union, than Wikimedians simultaneously writing about each other’s artworks in their local languages. For example, the Saliera, one of the masterpieces of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, was made by Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini for a French king, is now in an Austrian museum and, as of yesterday and because of this competition, has a Wikipedia article in Armenian.

Other early successes include: a painting of The fountain of youth (1546) by German Lucas Cranach, in the Czech Wikipedia; a portrait by Swedish artist Hanna Pauli of her Finnish friend Venny Soldan-Brofeldt made in France and now in the Swedish Wikipedia; and the unusual Pornocrates (also known as The lady with the pig) by Belgian artists Félicien Rops (1878) now in the English Wikipedia.

The project is “based” on Wikidata, and improving the quality of the metadata there about these works, their artists, genres etc. is just as much a part of this competition as are the translations on Wikipedia. For many Wikipedians, this project might be their first time editing Wikidata. This challenge is also the first time that the Content Translation tool has been integrated into a campaign, which required adding new functionality to the system, building on the power of Wikidata. For example, translating an article about one of the 10 artworks selected by Spain, you are now able to to choose your preferred “source language” for translation from among, potentially, many. You can investigate the full list of artworks to see what currently exists in which language.

Click a flag or the map to see which artworks have been selected by the participating counties, or see the full list of national and regional European languages involved. There are descriptions of points and the prizes available, and Wikimedians coming from countries or languages not represented in the European Union can also participate if they wish.

Sign up, spread the word, start translating, and register your points to win prizes!

Liam Wyatt/Wittylama, GLAMwiki coordinator

The views expressed in this post are not necessarily those of the Wikimedia Foundation or Wikipedia; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section below.


Staff at the National Library of Wales have already held an editathon, writing about such artworks in their collection as Turner’s Dolbadarn Castle(1800) in English and in Welsh. Photo by Jason.nlw, public domain/CC0.

by Liam Wyatt at April 19, 2016 08:27 AM

April 18, 2016

Wikimedia Tech Blog

Wikimedia sites will go into read-only mode twice this week

Photo by Victor Grigas, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Photo by Victor Grigas, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation will be testing its newest data center in Dallas. This will make sure Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia wikis can stay online even after a disaster. To make sure everything is working, the Wikimedia Technology department needs to conduct a planned test. This test will show whether they can reliably switch from one data center to the other. It requires many teams to prepare for the test and to be available to fix any unexpected problems.

They will switch all traffic to the new data center on Tuesday, 19 April. On Thursday, 21 April, they will switch back to the primary data center.

Unfortunately, because of some limitations in MediaWiki, all editing must stop during those two switches. We apologize for this disruption, and we are working to minimize it in the future.

You will be able to read, but not edit, all wikis for a short period of time.

  • You will not be able to edit for approximately 15 to 30 minutes on Tuesday, 19 April and Thursday, 21 April, starting at 14:00 UTC (15:00 BST, 16:00 CEST, 10:00 EDT, 07:00 PDT).
  • If you try to edit or save during these times, you will see an error message. We hope that no edits will be lost during these minutes, but we can’t guarantee it. If you see the error message, then please wait until everything is back to normal. Then you should be able to save your edit. But, we recommend that you make a copy of your changes first, just in case.

Other effects:

  • Background jobs will be slower and some may be dropped. Red links might not be updated as quickly as normal. If you create an article that is already linked somewhere else, the link will stay red longer than usual. Some long-running scripts will have to be stopped.
  • There will be a code freeze for the week of 18 April. No non-essential code deployments will take place.

This test was originally planned to take place on 22 March. 19 and 21 April are the new dates. You can read the schedule at wikitech.wikimedia.org. They will post any changes on that schedule. There will be more notifications about this. Please share this information with your community.

Sherry Snyder/Whatamidoing (WMF)
Wikimedia Foundation

by Sherry Snyder/Whatamidoing at April 18, 2016 09:39 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #16, 2016 (April 18, 2016)

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April 18, 2016 12:00 AM

April 17, 2016

Alice Wiegand


Ein Kriterium (gr. κριτήριον, „Gerichtshof; Rechtssache; Richtmaß“) ist ein Merkmal, das bei einer Auswahl zwischen Personen oder Objekten (Gegenständen, Eigenschaften, Themen usw.) relevant für die Entscheidung ist. (Seite „Kriterium“. In: Wikipedia, Die freie Enzyklopädie. Bearbeitungsstand: 13. November 2015, 15:14 UTC. URL:https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kriterium&oldid=148005116 (Abgerufen: 13. April 2016, 21:32 UTC))

These days the WMF chapters and thematic organizations are selecting two new Board members for the Board of Trustees. Frieda and Patricio are not running again, so definitely there will be a major change in the Board’s composition.

Unfortunately the selection process has become more and more like the Community selection since self nomination has been established. It leads to a slate of candidates which is quite exchangeable between both selections. The only difference is that eligible voters are our affiliates instead of individual community members. In my view chapters and thematic organization carelessly hand over a huge opportunity to influence the Board’s diversity and general composition by not nominating people from their networks. Why don’t they look out for people with extraordinary skills coming from GLAM partners, friendly movements, education or any other particular aspect of their activities? Why don’t they nominate at all?

As far as I know there is no consistent process how the heterogeneous affiliates come to their respective vote and I don’t know if the affiliates agreed on a set of common criteria as a basis for their vote. The selection of candidates for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees has enormous impact on the Board’s stability, its decisiveness, creativity and efficiency. The Board should be supporting and promoting change and improvement rather than a being a millstone around the Foundation’s neck. Even with best intentions there is a good chance to be the latter more than the former.

If I were in the situation to vote, these are 5 criteria I would check with my favorite candidates:

1. Be a teamplayer
Being a Board member means to deal with several issues at the same time. You can’t deal with them all in the same intensity and you need to be able to delegate. Which also means that you have to trust your delegates‘ recommendation. Accepting that the time your colleagues can spend on board issues is limited is a must, and you also have to accept that your own time and energy is restricted as well.

2. Don’t be a second ED
Though our role descriptions, especially the boundaries of each function, may not be defined perfectly, there is at least a common distinction which is determined by the day to day business. As a board member you can’t push individual projects or ideas, neither your own nor others. You have to accept the ED’s responsibility for operational decisions, including setting priorities and assigning work. You just can’t make promises you can’t keep without staff’s support.

3. Pack your ego away
Boards are usually composed of strong characters. Same here. The challenge is to get the most out of this range of opportunities without getting lost in personal competitions. The organization’s health and wellbeing is the priority. Remember that in the end we have to come to a result which is „the Board’s opinion“. In some cases you may not agree individually, but it is your task to support the decision even so.

4. Beware of not getting obsessed with detail
Board members with a community background tend to look at everything under the microscope, weigh any option and discuss all different opinions.  The Board needs to be mindful of the time it spends on process issues, operational details and tasks which are not theirs. Time spent on details is usually not only Board time but also staff time. And wasted time can’t be spent to dig into what really matters. Call it the big picture, strategy, or whatever you want. This is what the Board exists for. Details won’t bring you there.

5. Focus on our future
What we desperately need to talk about on the Board level are questions like „How can the Wikimedia Foundation best serve its mission?“, „How should the organization look like in 10 years?“, „What are our threats and how are we going to respond to them?“. We need to know what kind of organization the Wikimedia Foundation should be, only then the Board can guide and advise the ED. Looking back provides necessary learning, but our energy has to be concentrated on our future. Our mission is much more important than our internal issues.

by Alice Wiegand at April 17, 2016 06:56 PM

April 16, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

These editors spent one year writing Charlie Chaplin’s Wikipedia article

Promotional photo for Chaplin's The Kid. Chaplin is sitting on a concrete step with a young child to his left.

Chaplin in The Kid (1921). Photo by unknown, restored by Crisco 1492, public domain/CC0.

One century ago, films were bereft of synchronized sound—perhaps a pianist, or in larger theaters, an orchestra would accompany the movie. Sound-on-film technology, where the sound was coded into a strip adjacent to the photographic film, was only developed in the 1920s, and ‘talking’ films only became widespread at the end of that decade.

Many of the films from this era are now lost thanks to the instability and flammability of the nitrate film they were printed on, affecting even some of the largest stars of the era. Of Theda Bara‘s forty films, for instance, only six are now known to exist.

However, one of the most well-known silent film stars even today was far less affected: Charlie Chaplin, born on April 16, 1889, and thought to be one of the most influential individuals in the history of film. By the time he was in his 20s, he was one of the most highly-paid people in the world, and he was so well-known that he was able to make silent films years after they had gone out of vogue.

One film critic wrote decades later that he was “arguably the single most important artist produced by the cinema, certainly its most extraordinary performer and probably still its most universal icon”; a filmmaker similarly has said that Chaplin is “the only person to have gone down into cinematic history without any shadow of a doubt. The films he left behind can never grow old.”

Promotional poster for Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936).

Poster by unknown, public domain/CC0.

Wikipedia editors Loeba and TrueHeartSusie3 are well-acquainted with Chaplin, having written his English-language Wikipedia article and shepherded it through the site’s various peer review processes. It is now a ‘featured’ article, meaning that it is “considered to be [one of] the best articles Wikipedia has to offer.” This designation has been given to only one out of every thousand articles on the site.

Both Susie and Loeba have been interested in film for years, but this did not extend to the older silent films until they caught glimpses of Chaplin’s work on television. Susie writes that “like many people, I’d previously ignored silent films as too difficult and boring, even naïve. So I was positively surprised when I realised how modern Chaplin’s films still feel … It’s true that silents differ from sound films in many ways, but that’s part of the attraction; I think watching silent films made me for the first time truly aware of the possibilities of film as a medium of expression. The first decades of film history are also fascinating because film was such a new medium at the time; everything we take granted about films was just being invented through trial and error.”

When it came to Wikipedia, Loeba was the person who kindled the collaboration. She described how she fell down the rabbit hole, a phenomenon many Wikipedia editors can relate to:

I remember seeing a Chaplin short when I was a kid, but didn’t care for it; I think most of my early life I assumed he was silly and annoying! I was closed-minded to any films made before, say, the 1970s. But in my early 20s I started to get really interested in cinema, and realised there’s was loads of talent and charm in the early stuff. … when this was brewing (probably 2010) I caught Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin biopic on TV. It’s not a great film, but it traces his fascinating life and demonstrates his charm. It was enough to spark my interest: I loved his Dickensian childhood, how lefty and political he was, and how completely and passionately he controlled his work.  The first feature of his I watched was The Kid (the first silent I ever watched, in fact) and I was surprised how much I loved it. I watched more, and loved them as well. I decided to order his autobiography, which is such a great read. By then I had caught the Wikipedia bug, and I decided Chaplin would make a great project—I’d genuinely be interested to research and write about his life. I first proposed overhauling the article in November 2011, making a plea for collaborators, but didn’t actually start until April 2012. I think I’d written two or three sections when TrueHeartSusie got in touch to say she’d like to help.

Writing such a big-picture article, however, is not a trivial undertaking—something Susie and Loeba were both keenly aware of, having helped write the articles on Marilyn Monroe and Katharine Hepburn (respectively). The amount of academic writing available on Chaplin is extensive and vast, and for an article to become featured, it’s required to be a “a thorough and representative survey of the relevant literature.” That means a lot of reading; the Chaplin article boasts over thirty books in its bibliography, and Susie estimates that in total it contains about fifty sources when journal articles are included. Loeba owns eight books on Chaplin, all of which are notated on her phone and five of which she has read cover-to-cover. She used online resources to find and read much of the rest: “We knew that for … a figure like Chaplin they’d expect extensive research, so we consciously sought out as much stuff as possible.”

That was just the start. Susie estimates that completing the article took a full year, as the workload was enough that she doubts whether she or Loeba could have taken it on alone. Both of them spoke extensively to the blog on the process required to get it to featured status:

Susie: With someone like Chaplin, there are so many sources that just reading through those takes a lot of time. Then there’s the issue of deciding what should go in the article when there are so many interesting things to write about. Once the first version is up, some serious editing needs to be done for the article to not be too long and exhausting for the casual reader—this is perhaps the longest and trickiest part of the process. The most frustrating part is the endless edit warring and talk page ‘discussing’ with editors who have strong and inflexible personal opinions on the subject without actually having done that much (academic) research.

Loeba: Writing a featured article on a core topic is, in short, hard work. With these major figures there’s always loads to talk about, and so much literature out there, that the articles are inevitably very long (even when you consciously try and be succinct, and choose things to leave out). You don’t want to deprive readers of key information! Alongside the life story, there’s also “analytical” sections to write (artistry, legacy) if you want to be comprehensive. These are quite tricky and require loads of research.

You’re aware of how many people will be reading the article, so there’s real pressure to produce high-quality stuff. I’d decided from the start that I’d like to get the article to featured status, which meant paying close attention that everything is referenced [to a reliable source] … always written entirely in my own words, following Wikipedia’s manual of style, and mentioning numerous sources. On a personal level, writing actually doesn’t come naturally to me, so I work pretty damn slowly. Add all these factors together, and it takes a long time. Then once you’re “finished,” you still need to go through the whole thing to trim excess detail (I cut about 1000 words from Chaplin), copy edit, and make sure the sources are perfectly formatted.

Even once all this is done you still need to go through several reviews before getting featured status, and make changes based on those, which adds on more time. Thank god Susie was able to work on it as well—we split the sections between us, or it just wouldn’t have happened. Some people seem able to write huge featured articles on their own, which I find crazy and admirable, but I think I’d still be finishing Chaplin now! I’ll tell you one thing: it’s essential to have a passionate interest in the subject if you’re going to take on an article like this.

The Great Dictator (1940).

The Great Dictator (1940). Trailer screenshot, public domain/CC0.

Last, we asked Susie to tell us why Chaplin was and remains so popular. Many people, for instance, are at least aware of The Great DictatorChaplin’s satire of Adolf Hitler, so much so that it is sometimes dropped into major films like Iron Sky. She told us:

Chaplin was one of the first to popularize feature-length comedy films, and was also a pioneer in making himself and his most famous film character into a recognizable brand. He was one of the founders of United Artists, thus being able to remain independent during the studio era. I think he also came to symbolize the early twentieth century in general, as he personifies the American Dream—a poor immigrant who becomes a millionaire by sheer talent and perseverance.

As for why he is still so popular—that’s a very good question. I don’t think it’s purely because of his superstar status during his lifetime, as many big stars of the silent era have become names known only by the relatively small group of people interested in silent film. I think it’s probably a combination of things. Since his big breakthrough in the 1910s, Chaplin never returned to obscurity, even when he became subject to public hate. Furthermore, because he was perceived as an artist already during his lifetime, he has always attracted more interest in comparison to those film stars who were simply seen as entertainers or studio products. Chaplin was also very smart about preserving his films, ensuring that they can be seen by people almost a century after they were made. Most importantly though, I think Chaplin’s films are simultaneously very accessible and profound. Although they naturally reflect the time they were made in, their themes are timeless and the character of the Little Tramp is still very relatable—especially in these times of economic recession. They’re simply very good films!

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate
Wikimedia Foundation

You can see more photos and imagery from Chaplin’s life and career on Wikimedia Commons.

Chaplin and Gandhi, 1931. Photo by O Malho, public domain/CC0.

Chaplin and Gandhi, 1931. Photo by O Malho, public domain/CC0.

by Ed Erhart at April 16, 2016 09:10 PM

April 15, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

News on Wikipedia: SpaceX takes next step to reusable rockets


Photo by SpaceX, public domain/CC0.

Never ones to shy from an occasion, SpaceX made history again on April 8, landing a rocket’s first stage upright on a drone ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the first time any spaceflight agency has achieved this, and marks an important step towards SpaceX’s own goals of reusable rockets in the future—which may, ultimately, lead to commercial space travel becoming a viable initiative.

Wikipedia’s coverage of the final frontier, and efforts to reach it, is quite extensive. WikiProject Spaceflight, an active task force aimed at improving articles in the domain, has almost 200 users signed up as members. More than 6,600 articles have been categorised as within the project’s scope, and of these, nine are “featured” quality—meaning they have been peer-reviewed and are now considered among the best articles on the site.

SpaceX reusable launch system development program” is classed as a “good article“, which means it meets the criteria to be listed among some 24,000 fellow “good articles” on the English Wikipedia. It currently exists in five other languages, too—the eclectic mix of Arabic, Farsi, Finnish, Hindi, Urdu—as communities work on improving the coverage of the recent milestones in their own native tongues.

The page on SpaceX itself is quite popular on Wikipedia, and was the 80th-most viewed page on the English-language Wikipedia on April 9, the day after the landing. Even the article on SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, one which attracts tens of thousands of views every day, peaked following the landing, attracting almost 70,000 pageviews.

Joe Sutherland, Communications Fellow
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at April 15, 2016 06:02 PM

Weekly OSM

weeklyOSM 299


New York on an OSM Map with Wikipedia content [1] | more info at Geopedia


  • Joost Schouppe asks whether airports need a relation.
  • BushmanK blogs about the current natural=water scheme inconsistency.
  • Panier Avide presents (automatic translation) iD-indoor, a fork of the iD editor, which is aimed at addressing the needs of indoor mapping.
  • Ilya (Zverik) blogs about Maps.me which has recently added the ability to edit OpenStreetMap from within the App. The (Android and iOS) app received a lot of positive feedback.
  • The vote on the new relation “Associated Addresses” is open.
  • Marco Predicatori is working on a proposal about fake speed cameras.
  • Arun writes about vandalism in OSM and discusses possibilities for tracking vandalism.
  • The proposal to shop=boat/marine is open. However, there are still issues with the naming.


  • Sterling Quinn’s Crowd Lens is a rich viewer of changeset history for OSM in specific areas. Currently five locations are supported.
  • Not every reader got the April Fool’s hoax. Though OSM is significant in any case!
  • Diana S. Sinton describes in Direction Magazine the overall development and the global movement of OpenStreetMap, mixed with many interesting links.


  • Andrew Davidson starts a discussion on “Refreshing NSW place names from the GNB database”.
  • Joe Sapletal asks for support for doing an import of buildings and address data in Dakota, US.


Humanitarian OSM

  • Pete Masters of Médecins Sans Frontières‎ France explains the practical benefits of humanitarian mapping.
  • The NOAH project focuses on prevention and forecast of natural disasters in the Philippines. A report shows the activities of the project in the field of OSM mapping.


  • [1] Michael Schöne has published Geopedia.info. It displays georeferenced Wikipedia articles on an OSM layer, it is available as an Android App. An iOS app is under construction.
  • OpenRailwayMap now also supports some railway signals in Finland.
  • OpenRouteService published version 3.1 on April 11th. The new features are shown in a video.

Open Data

  • Deutsche Bahn has revised (automatic translation) its “Fotoerlaubnis” (photographing permission) has rules on non-commercial photography on railway stations. The new version mentions drones and forbids publication of cab ride videos. The rules are discussed (automatic translation) on a forum of German railway enthusiasts.


  • The Swedish Supreme Court ruled against Wikimedia Sweden this week, deciding that Swedish copyright law does not allow the chapter to post images in its online database without permission from the artist. So, the Swedish map offentligkonst is illegal and the works of art are no longer shown on the map.


  • Zsolt published a beta version of MapHub, which allows users to generate interactive maps very easily. Similar to uMap but has more features in several areas.


Software Version Release Date Comment
Mapillary for iOS 4.2.1 2016-04-05 Changes for GoPro
Locus Map Free 3.16.2 2016-04-06 Bugfix version
SQLite 3.12.1 2016-04-08 3 bugs fixed
Osmose Backend 1.0-2016-04-09 2016-04-09

provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

Did you know …

  • The new Wahoo ELEMNT a GPS Bike computer with OSM maps.
  • YouthMappers has local chapters at Universities around the world, and trains young people in mapping OSM.

Other “geo” things

  • Amazing interactive 3D map from F4map. More information on free tools to generate 3D maps(in Spanish)
  • Flightradar24 discontinued their Google Earth plug-in and developed a replacement 3D view. The new view is built on WebGL using Cesium and Mapbox for amazingly detailed imagery and terrain.
  • Heikki Vesanto operates the Scottish site GIS for thought. He writes on many topics including wallets, QGIS applications and the UKRailMap.
  • Kenneth Field, a professional cartographer, complains about people doing cartography without a cartographic education it includes a mention of OSM.
  • Brian Kilmartin published an interactive world map that summarizes the countries mentioned in the “Panama Papers”.

Upcoming Events

Dónde Qué Fecha País
Buenos Aires FOSS4G Argentina 05/04/2016-09/04/2016 argentina
Numazu ラブライブ!サンシャインin沼津市マッピングパーティー(Code for Numazu 第四回)) 09/04/2016 japan
Berlin Missing Maps Berlin 10/04/2016 germany
Landshut Niederbayerntreffen 12/04/2016 germany
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle mappeurs 12/04/2016 france
München Stammtisch München 12/04/2016 germany
Stuttgart Openstreetmap Einführung der FOSS@HFT 13/04/2016 germany
Colorado Humanitarian Mapathon Front Range Community College, Longmont 13/04/2016 us
Leoben Stammtisch Obersteiermark 14/04/2016 austria
Kyoto 京都世界遺産マッピングパーティ:第13回 特別編 延暦寺(西塔、横川) 16/04/2016 japan
Moscow Schemo.hack 03 Hack Weekend 16/04/2016-17/04/2016 russia
New Jersey National Park Week Mapping Party Sandy Hook 17/04/2016 us
Cluj-Napoca Cluj Mapping Party 17/04/2016 romania
Nottingham Nottingham 19/04/2016 united kingdom
Colorado GIS in Higher Ed. Humanitarian Mapathon Nighthawk Brewery, Broomfield 21/04/2016 us
Newcastle FoMSF Missing Maps Mapathon 21/04/2016 united kingdom
Santiago International Space Apps Challenge 22/04/2016-24/04/2016 chile
Seattle Missing Maps Mapathon 23/04/2016 us
Salta Charla OSM en Flisol 23/04/2016 argentina
Buenos Aires Taller de mapeo OSM en Flisol 23/04/2016 argentina
Bogotá Mapping party – Bogota: Usaquén 07/05/2016 colombia
Milano State of the Map Italy 2016 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 italy
Clermont-Ferrand State of the Map France 2016 20/05/2016-22/05/2016 france
Brno State of the Map CZ+SK 2016 21/05/2016 czech republic
Salzburg FOSSGIS 2016 04/07/2016-06/07/2016 austria
Salzburg AGIT 2016 06/07/2016-08/07/2016 austria
Seattle State of The Map US 2016 23/07/2016-25/07/2016 united states
Tokyo State of The Map Japan 2016 06/08/2016 japan
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint”’ 20/08/2016-22/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’Workshops at FOSS4G 2016”’ 22/08/2016-23/08/2016 germany
Derby Derby 23/08/2016 united kingdom
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016”’ 24/08/2016-26/08/2016 germany
Bonn ”’FOSS4G 2016 Code Sprint Part II”’ 27/08/2016-28/08/2016 germany
Brussels State of the Map 2016 23/09/2016-26/09/2016 belgium

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 appropiate.


This weekly was produced by Hakuch, Laura Barroso, Nakaner, Peda, Rogehm, derFred, escada, jinalfoflia, seumas.

by weeklyteam at April 15, 2016 02:32 PM

Wikimedia Suomi (WMFI - English)

Yle <3 Wikidata

Wikipedia and public service broadcasters have quite a similar mission. We both provide information for the public. One project is encyclopedic by its nature, the other journalistic. But both strive to document the world, as it was yesterday, as it is today and as it unfolds towards the future.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle, has since April 1st 2016 tagged our online news and feature articles with concepts from Wikidata. This was a rather natural next step in a development that has been ongoing within Yle for several years now. But it is still an interesting choice of path for a public service media company.

With linking journalistic content and the wiki projects to each other in machine-readable format, we hope to gain win-win situations where we can fulfill our missions even better together.

Why Wikidata?

The short answer to why is, because Freebase is shutting down. We have since 2012 tagged our articles using external vocabularies. The first one we used was the KOKO upper ontology from the Finnish thesaurus and ontology service Finto. KOKO is an ontology that consists of nearly 50 000 core concepts. It is very broad and of high semantic quality. But it doesn’t include terms for persons, organizations, events and places.

Enter Freebase. We originally chose Freebase it 2012 quite pragmatically over the competition (Geonames, Dbpedia and others) mainly because of its very well functioning API interface. When Google in December 2014 announces that it would be shutting down Freebase we had to tackle this situation in some way.

The options were either to use Freebase offline and start building our own taxonomy for new terms, or to find a replacing knowledge base. And then there was the wild card of the promised Google Knowledge Graph API. The main replacing options were DBpedia and Wikidata, no other could compete with Freebase in scope.

Some experts said that the structure and querying possibilities in Wikidata where subpar compared to DBpedia. But for tagging purpose, especially for the news departments, it was far more important that new tags could be added either manually by us ourselves or by the Wikipedians.

During 2015 there really seemed to be a lot of buzz going on around Wikidata and inside the community. And when we contacted Wikimedia Finland we were welcomed with open arms to the community, and that also made all the difference. (Thank you Susanna Ånäs!) So with the support of Wikimedia and with their assurance that Yle-content fulfilled the notability demand we went ahead with the project.


In October 2015 we had tagged articles with 28 000 different Freebase concepts. Out of those over 20 000 could be directly found with Freebase-URIs in Wikidata. For the additional part, after some waiting for the promised migration support from Google, we started to map these together.

We got help from Wikidata to load them up to the Mix’n’match-tool. (Thank you Magnus Manske!) And mapped an additional 3800+ concepts. There are still 3558 terms unmapped at the time of writing, so please feel free to have a go at it.  https://tools.wmflabs.org/mix-n-match/?mode=catalog&catalog=116#the_start

Mix and Match-tool.

Mix and Match-tool.

At the time of transition to Wikidata in April 2016 our editors had been very diligent and managed to use 7000 more Freebase concepts. So the final mapping still only covered around 72% of the Freebase terms used. But as we are using several sources for tagging, this is an ongoing effort in any case, and not a problem for our information management.

Technical implementation

We did the technical integration of the Wikidata annotation service in our API-architecture at Yle. Within it we have our “Meta-API” that gathers all the tags used for describing Yle-content. When the API is called it returns results from Wikidata, KOKO and a third commercial source vocabulary we are using. Since those three vocabularies overlap partially they need to be mapped / bridged to each other (e.g. country names can be found in all three sources). The vocabulary is maintained under supervision of producer Pia Virtanen.

The API-call towards Wikidata returns results that have labels in at least Finnish, Swedish or English. Wikidata still lacks term descriptions in Swedish and Finnish to a rather high degree, so we also fetch the first paragraph from Wikipedia to provide disambiguation information to the editors that do the annotation.

The Meta-API is then implemented in the CMSs. For example in the Drupal7 sites widely used within Yle we have an own module, YILD https://www.drupal.org/project/yild, which can be used for tagging towards any external source.

The article featured in the demo video above: http://svenska.yle.fi/artikel/2016/04/15/kerry-usa-hade-ratt-att-skjuta-ner-ryska-plan

The UX encourages a workflow where the editor first inserts the text, and then manually chooses a few primary tags. After that they can by pushing a button fetch automatic annotation suggestions, which returns approximately a dozen more tags. From these the editor can select the suitable ones.

The tags are then used in the article itself, they create automatic topical pages, are used in curated topical pages as subject headings and navigation, and bring together Yle-content produced in different CMSs and organizational units in different languages. They are used in our News app Uutisvahti/Nyhetskollen. And the tags are also printed out in the source code according to schema.org specifications, mainly for SEO.

The opening of Yle’s APIs are on the road map for Yle’s internet development. Once we can provide this metadata together with data about our articles and programs, third party developers can build new and specialized solutions for specific uses and audiences.

One suggested application would be to build a “Wikipedia source finder”. So that if a Wikipedian finds a stub article, they could look up what material Yle has about the topic, and complete the article with Yle as a source.

Wikidata for annotation

We still at the time of writing only have a couple of weeks experience with annotating our content using Wikidata. Compared to Freebase there seems to be far more local persons like artists and politicians, as well as more local places and events.

For breaking news stories the Wiki-community is of great help. In a sense the wiki-community is crowdsourcing new tags. For example events like the 2016 Brussels bombings or the Panama papers leak get articles written very fast after the events have taken place. Thus creating a Wikidata-item, and a tag for us. This also gives the added benefit of a normalized label and description for the events.

In Norway several media companies, including our fellow broadcaster NRK, have initiated collaboration in specifying how important news events could be called in a unified and homogenous way. During the tragic attacks in Norway in 2011 there were over 200 different labels created and used in media for this event during the first day.

Through Wikidata we can normalize this information for all the languages we use, Finnish, Swedish and English. And we have the option to expand to any of the dozens of languages active in the Wiki-projects.

Wikidata and public service

Apart from all the technical factors that fulfil their tasks, there is another side to using Wikidata as well. It feels that the Wiki-projects and public service companies have a lot in common in their ethos and mission, but not too much to be in a competitive relationship.

The web is increasingly a place of misinformation and commercial actors monetizing on user data. It feels in accordance increasingly important to tie independent public service media, to the free-access, free-content information structure built by the public that constitutes the wiki projects. As content becomes more and more platform agnostic and data driven, this strategy seems a good investment for the future of independent journalism.

by Micke Hindsberg at April 15, 2016 12:20 PM

April 13, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

Inspire Campaign promotes quality and visibility of content across Wikimedia projects


Photo by Michael Gäbler, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In early March, the Wikimedia Foundation launched the second Inspire Campaign, inviting community ideas on how to improve content curation and review processes in Wikimedia projects. This follows the first Inspire Campaign from last year focused on addressing the gender gap, which we’ll be reporting on in a future blog post.

Diversity of proposals

Over 100 ideas were submitted during the first phase of the campaign from February 28th through March 29th, and over 250 people participated by developing new proposals, endorsing ideas, offering feedback, and discussing issues. At this time, 12 of those proposals have been drafted or submitted as grant proposals.

Submitted ideas focused on several aspects of review and curation such as the use of maintenance tags, utilizing expertise in a subject area, training editors, and surfacing sources that are difficult to access. Thematically, ideas involved different approaches such as building and testing of new tools, outreach and training for specific audiences, and on-wiki project planning. Ideas were submitted in multiple languages, and proposals have involved people from all over the world.

Here are some examples of proposals submitted during the campaign:

How to get involved

In the next phases of the Inspire Campaign, we plan to develop ideas that need funding into viable applications for Individual Engagement Grants (IEG) and Project and Event Grants (PEG). The second half of April will be an open period for community comments on formal grant proposals. Reviewing committees for IEGs and PEGs will then discuss ideas, and publish feedback on the proposal talk pages. The approved grants will be announced in June.

There are many innovative ideas that could use support from volunteers to help accomplish its goals. Regardless of funding needs, we’d love to see those ideas move forward. If there is an idea that interests you, consider reaching out to the idea creator directly, provide feedback, and offer to take a more involved role in these projects to turn them into grant proposals. Content review and curation are some of the most fundamental and valuable tasks across Wikimedia projects; this Inspire Campaign is an opportunity to form partnerships and initiate projects that have lasting outcomes on the quality and visibility of the content we create.

If you have questions about the campaign or the process behind it, you can post them here, or cschilling-at-wikimedia.org.

Chris “Jethro” SchillingCommunity Resources
Wikimedia Foundation


by Chris Schilling at April 13, 2016 06:39 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

Compiling a bibliography is “fun,” and other things student Wikipedians say

Here’s some student feedback you don’t see every day:

“The most fun part about this project is how it forced me to study more and read more science articles.”

That’s real student feedback given to Dr. Elizabeth Van Volkenburgh, whose Plant Physiology and Development course at the University of Washington-Seattle asked students to contribute knowledge to Wikipedia articles. This student explained that engaging with Wikipedia encouraged them to study up. That way, they could trust themselves to make a meaningful contribution.

One student editor described the effort that went into their 3-sentence contribution. Initially, they said, they weren’t confident enough to think they could add something meaningful. But as they read the article and compared it to their source texts, they made the leap.

“I kept worrying that this person would be upset,” the student wrote about the previous editor of the article, “because he or she might have a higher level of education than I do, or more experience in biology. But the (article) was … missing many key molecules and completely lacked citations. It was fun for me to find a reliable source to back up my sentence.”

We saw this word, “fun,” over and over again, tied to some unlikely neighbors, such as “research” and “citation.” Quite a few students wished that the assignment could be longer.

We hear this kind of response, anecdotally, quite often. As Dr. Zach McDowell told us, “Can you imagine a student getting excited about writing an annotated bibliography? Only with Wikipedia.”

Once students get beneath the surface of Wikipedia, they think about what to contribute to articles. It becomes a novel exercise in assessing what they know, and what they don’t. They know they want to get it right, so they check, double check, confront their doubts, and then share it. Perhaps there’s incentive to being “fact checked” on Wikipedia rather than a quiz.

That was part of the motivation behind the assignment in the first place, said Dr. Van Volkenburgh.

“I thought it would push students to hold themselves accountable for some piece of what they were learning,” she said.

And once students push themselves to make that leap, they tend to rely on a certain word.

  • “The assignment was pretty fun to do.”
  • “I found it fun to contribute something!”
  • “Being able to add knowledge that I learned from the class was very fun and empowering!”

“Every single student expressed appreciation for the chance to interact with Wikipedia,” said Dr. Van Volkenburgh. “It was a great assignment, and until students get bored by adding to Wiki (unlikely, this was the first time any of my students had had the chance), I will continue with the assignment.”

The course called on students to contribute 1-3 cited sentences to a Wikipedia article. Many students asked to do more, or make longer contributions to the pages.

The average student contribution to a Wikipedia writing assignment is about 800 words. We generally encourage tying each sentence to a citation (though not always from unique sources). Once they get started, they often find themselves wanting to write more.

We think it’s because students so rarely get to practice knowing. Playing with the notion of themselves as an authority on a topic is an empowering experience. They take their writing seriously because, finally, someone else will.

With most undergraduate knowledge assessed through graded papers and quizzes, students externalize their knowledge. What they know is something out there that they confirm. Wikipedia helps them use that knowledge to make meaningful assessments. Wikipedia is testing their knowledge, and they learn to trust it as a result. They are learning what knowing feels like.

“My impression is that the students had autonomy,” said Dr. Van Volkenburgh. “They got to choose their own article topic, and they got to say what they wanted. They felt responsible for their work, rather than doing it for me. They are really ready to get out into the world, and are so tired of “class” assignments.”

Exercising that kind of authority is, as we’ve already heard: “fun.”

Photo: Stack of books in Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, by Toby HudsonOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0.


by Eryk Salvaggio at April 13, 2016 04:00 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikimedia - Jimmy Wales is not a constitutional monarch

Thank you Durova
Having known Jimmy / Jimbo Wales for a long time, I appreciate him for the many things he does. Particularly the many things we do not really hear about. Jimbo either has the ultimate conflict of interest, or is best positioned to do well for the Wikimedia Foundation and its projects.

At the start Jimmy was the founder and financier of Wikipedia and as it became a bigger success, he could no longer afford his hobby. He was apprehensive to let go and slowly but surely handed over more power to what is the board of the Wikimedia Foundation.

His role changed and he became more of an ambassador at large. Jimmy is not a constitutional monarch with an entourage that prevents him from being "political" or personal. I have personally experienced on several occasions where Jimbo was instrumental in bringing people together. It is why I am more than happy to express my happiness that he is who he is and does what he does.

The only question I have for his detractors is: if not Jimmy who else can perform the role that is uniquely his?

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 13, 2016 01:26 PM

April 12, 2016

This month in GLAM

This Month in GLAM: March 2016

by Admin at April 12, 2016 12:37 PM


Penguin Classics portal on Wikisource

I’ve made a start of a system to pull data from Wikidata and generate a portal for the Penguin Classics, with appropriate links for those that are on Wikisource or are ready to be transcribed.

I’m a bit of a Sparql newbie, so perhaps this could’ve been done in a single query. However, I’m doing it in two stages: first, gathering all the ‘works’ that have at least one edition published by Penguin Classics, and then finding all editions of each of those works and seeing if any of them are on Wikisource. Oh, and including the ones that aren’t, too!

Wikidata:WikiProject Books sort of uses the FRBF model to represent primarily books and editions (‘editions’ being a combination of manifestation and expression levels of the FRBF; i.e. an edition realises and embodies a work). So most of the metadata we want exists at the ‘work’ level: title, author, date of first publication, genre, etc.

At the ‘edition’ level we look for a link to Wikisource (because a main-namespace item on Wikisource is an edition… although this gets messy; see below), and a link to the edition’s transcription project. Actually, we also look for these on the work itself, because often Wikidata has these properties there instead or as well — which is wrong.

Strictly speaking, the work metadata shouldn’t have anything about where the work is on Wikisource (either mainspace or Index file). The problem with adhering to this, however, is that by doing so we break interwiki links from Wikisource to Wiktionary. Because a Wikipedia article is (almost always) about a work, and we want to link a top-level Wikisource mainspace pages to this work… and the existing systems for doing this don’t allow for the intermediate step of going from Wikisource to the edition, then to the work and then to Wikipedia.

So for now, my scruffy little script looks for project links at both levels, and seems to do so successfully.

The main problem now is that there’s just not much data about these books on Wikidata! I’ll get working on that next…

by Sam Wilson at April 12, 2016 09:31 AM

April 11, 2016

Wikimedia Foundation

Announcing a new informational resource on Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA and government surveillance


Albert V Bryan Federal District Courthouse – Alexandria, Va” by Tim Evanson, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce two updates to Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, our lawsuit challenging the United States National Security Agency’sUpstream” mass surveillance.

First, today we have released a new landing page for Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA. This page will serve as a centralized resource for members of our communities and the general public who are interested in learning more about the case, as well as about government surveillance more broadly. Among other things, the page contains links to Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA court documents and informative blog posts; a timeline for the case, including future filing and hearing dates as these become available; helpful English Wikipedia articles about government surveillance; information about HTTPS access to the projects and online security; and social media action items for anybody who would like to help spread the word. As the case progresses, we intend to add even more interesting and useful resources to the page, and ways for you to stay engaged in our efforts.

Additionally, the lawsuit itself continues to move forward. Following the dismissal of our claims by Judge T.S. Ellis, III on October 23, 2015, we filed an appeal in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on February 17 of this year. Today, the government filed their response to our opening appeal brief. We are reviewing their arguments and look forward to preparing our reply in concert with our pro bono counsel at the ACLU. The reply is due May 6, and oral arguments will likely take place in early fall.

The Wikimedia projects cannot flourish unless the privacy and free expression rights of the user communities are protected. This lawsuit is a part of the Foundation’s commitment to those principles. We will continue to keep our communities informed about the case, through blog posts and updates to the new landing page, and invite you to share this page with your friends and colleagues who share these values.

Jim Buatti, Legal Fellow
Aeryn Palmer, Legal Counsel
Greg Varnum, Communications Strategist

Joe Sutherland, Communications Fellow
Wikimedia Foundation

Special thanks to all who have supported us in this litigation, including the ACLU’s Patrick Toomey, Jameel Jaffer, Alex Abdo, and Ashley Gorski; and Aarti Reddy, Patrick Gunn, and Ben Kleine of our pro bono counsel Cooley, LLP; and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Geoff Brigham, Michelle Paulson, Stephen LaPorte, Juliet Barbara, Jeff Elder, Ed Erhart, and the entire communications team.

by Jim Buatti, Aeryn Palmer, Gregory Varnum and Joe Sutherland at April 11, 2016 11:46 PM

Wikimedia failover test—expected impact for editors

Photo by Arild Vågen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Photo by Arild Vågen, CC BY-SA 3.0.

During the month of April, all Wikimedia wikis will be placed into read-only mode for two short periods—an action that will allow the Wikimedia Foundation’s Technology department to test services in a new secondary data center in Texas (referred to as “codfw”).

The new data center is a replica of our cluster in Virginia. The main purpose of this data center is to improve the reliability and failover capabilities of Wikipedia and all of our sites for users around the world. It maintains a full, up-to-date copy of the databases for Wikipedia and other projects, plus many other services. In case of any type of disaster at the main data center in Virginia, the Operations team expects to be able to transfer all traffic to the secondary data center in Texas within minutes.

Upcoming test for the new data center

Major pieces of our infrastructure have been successfully deployed or tested there with actual live traffic, but until now, the heart of our sites has been missing: MediaWiki itself. This is changing. Working together with teams in Technology and several outside of it, the Technology department is now ready to perform a failover test, during which we will transfer all application server traffic and tightly coupled service dependencies to the new data center for a minimum of 48 hours. At the end of the test, we will transfer it all back again.

This failover process is scheduled to happen during the week of 18 April, with the actual switchovers beginning on Tuesday, 19 April at 14:00 UTC and Thursday, 21 April at 14:00 UTC. Any changes to this schedule will be noted on our Wikitech calendar.

Effect of this test on editors and other contributors to our sites

Ideally we’d make this switchover without impact to our users, but limitations in MediaWiki prevent that at this time.  At the start and end of this test, we will have to place all wikis in read-only mode for a short time. We expect this step to take approximately 15 to 30 minutes each time.

During the week of 18 April, we will be halting all non-essential code deployments. This means that the regular MediaWiki deployment process will be stopped, and no other non-critical deployments will be done that week.

The process for this is quite involved today, but this switchover test will give us information that we can use to make the process simpler, faster, and more secure in the future.  We hope to not only greatly reduce the disruption for our users and the time needed to make the switch, but also to reduce the amount of manual effort necessary. We appreciate your patience while we improve this essential infrastructure that helps us to keep useful information from the projects available on the Internet, free of charge, in perpetuity.

Mark Bergsma, Director of Technical Operations and Lead Operations Architect
Wikimedia Foundation

by Mark Bergsma at April 11, 2016 07:36 PM

Wikimedia UK

The Shiver: communion with the past in a digital age

Bodleian Library School of Divinity (Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)

This post is adapted from a text originally published in the CILIP November 2015 update.


Bodleian Wikimedian Martin Poulter says that although the digital world finds it hard to capture the intimacy of being in the presence of historical objects and texts, it can play an important role in adding value to the collections of museums, libraries and galleries which do provide that experience.


While working at the Bodleian, I’ve experienced what I call ‘the shiver’ many times. I had it when I realised I was reading Charles Darwin’s handwriting, or when shown a book that had been studied by Henry VIII. I saw it happening at the Marks of Genius exhibition when people encounter a Gutenberg Bible or a First Folio of Shakespeare.

The shiver is a realisation of a tangible connection to the past. It comes from authenticity, physicality and uniqueness. As such, it may seem irrelevant to digital information, which is endlessly reproducible and independent of physical location. However, when we think of how libraries can involve more people in that authentic experience, that digital world turns out to be crucial.

Sharing knowledge

Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the earliest feminist philosophers, holding views that were very radical for the 18th century. She came from a fascinating family whose manuscripts and correspondence are held by the Bodleian. To read Wollstonecraft’s final note to her husband, written days before she died, is one of those shiver-inducing contacts with the past. How can more people share that experience?

Wikimedia projects can connect the world of personal curiosity and informal discussion to the world of professionally published or curated resources. By creating or improving Wikipedia articles and sharing images, we can give readers a clearer image of historical figures and their achievements.

Data such as birth and death dates can be put into Wikipedia and Wikidata for harvesting by other sites and apps, such as the interactive timeline generator Histropedia. Releasing images and metadata under a free licence allows wiki contributors to make use of them. Improving an area of Wikipedia can be made into a fun event which draws in the public.

Sharing texts

Ideally, all public domain text would be freely available to everyone in the world, with no barriers. That is what Wikisource, the free library, works towards. My interest in Wollstonecraft and other 18th-century feminists has led me to put relevant texts in Wikisource, improving the previously meagre Feminism portal.

I have used existing free-text sources drawn from the University of Oxford Text Archive, Project Gutenberg, Library of Congress collections and the Internet Archive, as well as Jisc Historical Texts, which unlike the others is restricted to education institutions in the UK.

This is not just copying text from one place to another: Wikisource can use page scans to correct transcription errors, creating definitive electronic versions. Reciprocal links with Wikipedia mean that a text on Wikisource gets far more visits than on similar sites, making Wikisource a connected whole.

Building a web

John Duncombe’s 1751 poem, The Feminead, or Female Genius pays tribute to various creative and accomplished women, including poets and philosophers. Wikisource pages can have links – an advantage over similar archives such as Project Gutenberg – so I created profiles for several authors mentioned by Duncombe which contain authority file identifiers such as VIAF and ISNI.

By embedding sources in a web, we turn them into something more like an educational object; something that draws the reader into a journey and which they can benefit from without understanding all the references in advance.

Adding value

In reading 18th-century feminist texts, I found names and references that needed explaining. So I needed to consult modern scholarship, including books and papers that I would not have read if I weren’t improving Wikisource.

Reprinting out-of-copyright books unchanged is not viable in this world of ubiquitous, free, digital culture. Publishers have to find ways to add value, for example by getting scholars to supply context, via introductory essays or annotated editions. Wikipedia can be a dry and impersonal medium but this allows educational institutions to concentrate on what they do well, for example by using experts to bring the topic alive with enthusiasm and wit.

The more this text is freely available, the more it can influence the public sphere. The US feminist columnist and poet, Alice Duer Miller, recently had a satirical column that went viral on social media. This is more impressive when you realise that Miller died in 1942.

Wikimedia projects make it easy for people to enjoy and share out-of-copyright text, creating and satisfying a modern curiosity about past authors. What we can’t share digitally is that shiver-inducing connection to the past that comes from an encounter with the real physical object, but that’s okay: libraries are already great at doing that.

by John Lubbock at April 11, 2016 03:19 PM

Tech News

Tech News issue #15, 2016 (April 11, 2016)

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April 11, 2016 12:00 AM

April 10, 2016

Frank Schulenburg

A Wikipedia Photographer in Yellowstone (1): Five essential pieces of gear I’ll be taking on my upcoming trip to the world’s oldest national park

Now that I’m basically done with booking the photography trip of my dreams, the time has come to think about what pieces of gear I will take with me to Yellowstone. In less than three weeks, I’ll be headed to Bozeman, Montana. After picking up a 500 mm telephoto rental lens, a can of bear […]

by Frank Schulenburg at April 10, 2016 09:12 PM

April 09, 2016

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - the Panama Papers

The Panama Papers brings to light how the rich and famous hide their wealth. Arguably this is typically a criminal activity because it prevents them to be liable for their possessions according to the law of the country they live in. Liability comes in many ways; it is recognition what it is you own, what you are taxed and also what conflicts of interests exist. In an interview for Amnesty International, Mr Snowden says it well; "Privacy is for the powerless. Transparency is for the powerful."

The Panama Papers brings much needed transparency and there is one big difference with the unwanted intrusions on their privacy they suffer. They are in the limelight because of their lack of transparency in their actions and the resulting negative effect on society. It would be good when organisations that spy publish any and all of these transgressions. A change of focus like this would ensure a much more equitable society and it is easy to argue that it will make us all more secure.

The English Wikipedia has a list of people who are implicated by these Panama Papers. The information has been included in Wikidata. It is therefore easy to have the information in any Wikipedia. The ListeriaBot will perform updates on a regular basis. The only manual maintenance is including the necessary labels.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 09, 2016 06:59 AM

Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies

Wikipedia edit-a-thon at Nueva School in San Mateo

Jan Patton is the research librarian for the Nueva Upper School, a high school in San Mateo, California.

Jan Patton is the research librarian for the Nueva Upper School, a high school in San Mateo, California.

This April, Nueva Upper School will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon – a first for Nueva, and one of the first such events for any high school. Students will create original articles or improve existing entries in Wikipedia, the world’s largest, free-content, online encyclopedia.

I have planned the event with the help of Pete Forsyth of Wiki Strategies, a Wikipedia expert who specializes in using the site as a teaching tool in universities. I saw an opportunity to engage our students, who are extraordinary researchers, fully engaged in verifying sources and information at a level far beyond their years. While edit-a-thons have become increasingly popular among adults, Nueva will launch the first full-fledged edit-a-thon for high-school students. Nueva’s focus on communal, participatory learning makes our students extremely well-suited for this event. We’re excited to contribute our voices and our research to Wikipedia.

In the weeks ahead, students will propose themes they’d like to focus on during the edit-a-thon. During the event, Forsyth will bring colleagues to demonstrate the process, teaching the team how to use Wikipedia’s system and finding specific pages to update. Will the students tackle Wikipedia articles on economics, snails, or young adult novels? Stay tuned…

Are high school students at your school working with Wikipedia? Please let us know in the comments below!

by Jan Patton at April 09, 2016 01:11 AM

April 08, 2016

Weekly OSM

weekly 298


Global Noise Pollution Map

The Global Noise Pollution Map of Lukas Martinelli 1


  • User Markus writes about the Bing and Google ariel photos in China and highlights the importance of verifying the data that is added locally. This can be done by contacting travelers who would like to learn more about OSM and start contributing.
  • Nikhil writes about how to up your skills on OpenStreetMap with JOSM plugins using ‘reverter’ and ‘geochat plugings’.
  • A presentation by Galante about Mapping the Roman Villa of Patti Marina (an archaeological site in Palermo, Italy) in OpenStreetMap.
  • User moenk writes in the forum about a tool called Mapradar which can be used to map using Mapillary.
  • A proposal about Marine shops, which are shops “where one can buy various pieces of boats equipment and replacement parts”. The proposal is about adding the tags shop=marine (shops selling marine hardware) and shop=boat (shops selling boats).
  • A user in the tagging mailing list asks about the presence of two tags sport=shotput and sport=shot_put in the database, but is not sure as to which is the most relevant one to use as there are no clear instructions about them in the OSM wiki.
  • Voting has begun for the proposed feature amenity=internet_cafe, all the votes until now are in favour of this tag.


  • On the talk-gb list, EdLoach suggested that buildings without addresses and farmland without infrastructure such as hedges and gates should be deleted to better allow the “proper mapping” of those features. Almost no one realized that the date was actually April 1st and it was a prank! 😉
  • The OpenCage Data Blog interviews four mappers at a time to report about the state of the map and the local community in the Czech Republic.
  • OSMHelp feeds a troll until Simon stops the feeding.
  • Little Social Projects is asking for volunteers to help them map sports facilities in Galicia. More info here.
  • A presentation about OpenStreetMap past(s) and future(s) (on the AAG2016) by Alan McConchie.
  • Zoltan Sylvester illustrates how rivers change with the passing of time by using Landsat images of the last 30 years.
  • Rob Nickerson starts a discussion about the future of OSM in contrast to the opening up of more and more official data in GB.
  • Steve Coast proposes having an official OSM Slack, he also includes details of existing OSM related slack instances. This has started a wider discussion about usage of Slack within the OSM community.
  • Wanted a student or a graduate student for the development of a digital sustainability map for Karlsruhe. Good german is required part of a project from Quartier Zukunft a project from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • State of the Map organizing committee writes about the attacks in Brussels where this year’s State of the Map is organized.


  • OSM US offers scholarships for the State of the Map US, deadline to apply for scholarships is 24th of April.
  • Mapillary is hosting an event Fotocaminata in Lima (Peru) on the 17th of April in collaboration with OpenStreetMap Peru and GDG Lima.

Humanitarian OSM

  • A joint effort between the World Bank’s Dar Ramani Huria and Mapillary aims to start mapping unmapped streets in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



  • INRIX Traffic 6.0 has redesigned it’s traffic information application which uses OpenStreetMap. This app learns preferences and daily routines of the user and based on the learned activities makes a daily personalized itinerary with the anticipated tours and frequently used routes.


  • Vladimir Agafonkin explains how the Supercluster API works. This API allows to cluster and visualize even huge sets of points.
  • The classifier for maps of public sources (OpenStreetMap) is updated, new styles are available when working in programs like the GIS “Panorama 11” and Panorama-editor.


Software Version Release Date Comment
Basecamp Mac 4.6.3 2016-03-28 2 bugs fixed
Mapillary for Android 1.8.4 2016-03-29 2 Crash fixes and other improvements
Maps.me iOS 6.0.2 2016-03-29
SQLite 3.12.0 2016-03-29 10 improvements in performance, 6 new features and bug fixes 3
PostgreSQL 9.5.2 ff 2016-03-31 Security update release
Atlas 1.2.4 2016-04-01 Updated map and routing engines, various improvements
Maps.me Android 6.0.3 2016-04-01
OpenLayers 3.15.0 2016-04-04 Features and fixes from 136 pull requests since the v3.14.2 release.

provided by the OSM Software Watchlist

Did you know …

  • Minimalist raw editor allows you to modify OpenStreetMap XML data without using any editor.
  • OpenPOIMap is a tool that helps in querying for points of interest in OpenStreetMap for a particular bounding box and allows the user to download the results of the query.
  • OpenStreetMap announced the launch of Coaster – the first product from Phaethon, the OpenStreetMap driverless car project.

Other “geo” things

  • Amazon is showing interest in using “here” maps which are used by German carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler.
  • A German association that takes pictures of tombstones and registers cemeteries leads to a bit of confusion. The collection of tombstones had been a topic in OSM in the past, too.
  • Ujjwal Singh believes to have prior art on What3Words patent and now hopes to invalidate their patent.
  • Gretchen N. Peterson offers a book for adults to coloring your own maps.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Buenos Aires FOSS4G Argentina 05.04.2016-09.04.2016 argentina
Berlin 94. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 08.04.2016 germany
Numazu ラブライブ!サンシャインin沼津市マッピングパーティー(Code for Numazu 第四回)) 09.04.2016 japan
Berlin Missing Maps Berlin 10.04.2016 germany
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle mappeurs 12.04.2016 france
Landshut Niederbayerntreffen 12.04.2016 germany
München Stammtisch München 12.04.2016 germany
Colorado Humanitarian Mapathon Front Range Community College, Longmont 13.04.2016 us
Stuttgart Openstreetmap Einführung der FOSS@HFT 13.04.2016 germany
Leoben Stammtisch Obersteiermark 14.04.2016 austria
Kyoto 京都世界遺産マッピングパーティ:第13回 特別編 延暦寺(西塔、横川) 16.04.2016 japan
Moscow Schemo.hack 03 Hack Weekend 16.04.2016-17.04.2016 russia
New Jersey National Park Week Mapping Party Sandy Hook 17.04.2016 us
Cluj-Napoca Cluj Mapping Party 17.04.2016 romania
Urspring Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 19.04.2016 germany
Nottingham Nottingham 19.04.2016 united kingdom
Bonn Bonner Stammtisch 19.04.2016 germany
Lüneburg Mappertreffen Lüneburg 19.04.2016 germany
Karlsruhe Stammtisch 20.04.2016 germany
Newcastle FoMSF Missing Maps Mapathon 21.04.2016 united kingdom
Santiago International Space Apps Challenge 22.04.2016-24.04.2016 chile
Seattle Missing Maps Mapathon 23.04.2016 us
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 25.04.2016 germany
Düsseldorf Stammtisch 27.04.2016 germany
Berlin Hack Weekend 30.04.2016-01.05.2016 germany
Essen Stammtisch 30.04.2016 germany

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 appropiate..

This weekly was produced by Hakuch, Laura Barroso, Peda, Rogehm, SomeoneElse, derFred, jinalfoflia, mgehling, seumas, wambacher, widedangel.

by weeklyteam at April 08, 2016 11:29 PM

Wiki Education Foundation

UC Berkeley workshop: Wikipedia as a Resource for Instruction and Libraries

Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson
Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson

Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program supports instructors who assign their students to edit Wikipedia. When we visit a campus, that’s often what we talk about. After all, we have great tools and resources to support students and instructors. The Classroom Program improves Wikipedia, and has great benefits.

But what about faculty who don’t teach, or whose classes don’t fit the assignment?

On Friday, April 15, I’ll present some ideas to the University of California, Berkeley’s Instructor Development Program. I’ll cover our Classroom Program model and its benefits for students. But I’ll also highlight Wiki Ed’s Visiting Scholars program.

The Visiting Scholars program pairs an active Wikipedian with a library or academic department. Scholars use those resources to improve topics on Wikipedia, often those most in demand on Wikipedia. For the sponsoring institution, this relationship is a great way to have an impact on open access. As the seventh most-visited website on the planet, Wikipedia is where people find information. It’s also the world’s largest free, open-information resource.

Work using these resources has a direct impact on the knowledge people around the world read. The reach can be mind-boggling.

At the University of Pittsburgh, our visiting scholar User:Bfpage is working with the University of Pittsburgh’s Archives Service Center to improve various health topics on Wikipedia. One article she’s developed is about the polio vaccine. It’s been read more than 220,000 times. That’s 220,000 more people with more in-depth, accessible information about an academic topic.

We’re looking for sponsors to host visiting scholars in our Year of Science, particularly about women in science. Hosting a Visiting Scholar will make a real impact on coverage in this important domain. Does your department or library have a collection or other resource that would be useful for Wikipedia? Let us know!

If you’d like to learn more about our programs, please join our presentation. We’re grateful to the Teaching & Learning Expertise Group and the library for hosting us.


  • Friday, April 15, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • UC Berkeley Engineering Library Training Room, 110 Bechtel
  • The Library community and all Berkeley faculty and instructors are invited to attend.

You can read more about the workshop here.

Hope to see you there!

Photo: Bay Blue” by Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA – Bay Blue, CC BY 2.0.


by Samantha Erickson at April 08, 2016 09:35 PM

Wikimedia Foundation

Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz

From the photographer Sage Ross: “I remember laughing and talking and laughing and talking at Wikimania 2012. I took this picture of her that she used for a long while as a profile pic. Someone on Facebook said it looked ‘skepchickal’, which she loved.” Photo by Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Two years ago today, the Wikimedia community was shocked by the death of Adrianne Wadewitz from injuries suffered during a rock-climbing fall. Adrianne was a well-known and popular editor on the English Wikipedia, where she authored 36 featured articles and organized edit-a-thons in Los Angeles. She served on the board of the Wiki Education Foundation, and was a vocal public Wikipedia advocate on HASTAC, an online group that works with scholars in the humanities, arts, and sciences on innovative collaborations on new modes of learning and research in higher education.

Adrianne was born on 6 January 1977, and graduated from high school in North Platte, Nebraska, a railroad town of about 25,000 people. She attended college at Columbia University, a prestigious institution in the heart of New York City, and graduated in English with the honor of magna cum laude. After receiving a PhD in British literature from Indiana University, in 2013 she took up a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She had recently accepted a position at nearby Whittier College where she was recruited to help “develop their digital liberal arts program.”

Adrianne took up rock climbing in the summer of 2013, and she blogged about how it changed her:

For me, one of the most empowering outcomes of my year of climbing has been the new narrative I can tell about myself. I am no longer ‘Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, and Wikipedian’. I am now ‘Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, Wikipedian, and rock climber’. This was brought home most vividly to me one day when I was climbing outdoors here in Los Angeles and people on the beach were marveling at those of us climbing. Suddenly I realized, I used to be the person saying how crazy or impossible such feats were and now I was the one doing them. I had radically switched subject positions in a way I did not think possible for myself. That, I realized, is what I want my students to experience—that radical switch and growth. It is an enormous goal and I would love to hear how others work at achieving it with their students.

On the English Wikipedia

On Wikipedia, Adrianne was one of the early editors; she registered on 18 July 2004 as “Awadewit” when she was attending graduate school. She wrote quite a few articles, but zeroed in on her favorite, Mary Wollstonecraft, an 18th-century English writer and women’s rights advocate. Over the course of a year, Adrianne wrote most of the entry and shepherded it through several reviews until it became one of Wikipedia’s then 1700 featured articles. She worked on an entire series about the author, including all of Wollstonecraft’s major works and a timeline of her life. In 2008, Adrianne spoke to the Signpost about Wollstonecraft: “When I first looked at [her] article on Wikipedia, one of the subjects of my dissertation, it looked something like this. I was appalled! One of the first feminists! Dissertations tend to make a person think a topic is the most important thing ever, so, of course, I thought it was a travesty that Wollstonecraft’s biography was reduced to this bland recitation of a few facts. I resolved to change that.”

Adrianne received high praise from Wikipedia editors for her work on the article. Qp10qp, for example, wrote: “It adds up to a colossal achievement—I mean, what we have here is the equivalent of a book. The thoroughness, attention to detail and discerning study of the best sources simply takes my breath away. Any student of Wollstonecraft who clicks Wikipedia will hardly believe their luck in striking this treasure trove. Wikipedia at its finest.” More recently, English Wikipedia editor Liam Wyatt related his belief that the Wollstonecraft articles made Adrianne “the single most cited/read Wollstonecraft scholar ever,” and after her death Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner told the New York Times that “she may have been our single biggest contributor on … female authors [and] women’s history.”

Shortly after Wollstonecraft received its featured status, she agreed to be interviewed on episode 35 of the Wikipedia Weekly podcast by Wyatt. It was titled “Secretly Famous,” as it described her as an editor “who has to hide her activities [on Wikipedia] for fear of jeopardizing her career”:

Wyatt: So you’re worried that if you publicize … your interest and experience on Wikipedia, that you won’t get a job because you’ll be laughed out of town?

Wadewitz: I’m very concerned, actually. … I’m concerned that people will think that perhaps I’ve wasted time that I could have spent on my dissertation, time I could have spent publishing articles.

Wyatt: That’s truly sad.

Wadewitz: It is, because I really view that the time I have spent working on things for Wikipedia, which is really just what I’m studying, as sort of public service, as part of being a public intellectual, because I’m often engaged in conversations with people on Wikipedia where I feel like I’m explaining what it means to be a scholar, and I’m explaining even down to the level of well, here’s how you write a paragraph, or here where you write a sentence. Right? Is that a waste of time? No. I don’t think so. Because that’s what I do all the time.

—Liam Wyatt and Adrianne Wadewitz, Wikipedia Weekly, episode 35, 8:33 (condensed)

It was after this interview that Adrianne became a high-profile member and advocate for Wikipedia in scholarly circles. Liam Wyatt reflected on the 2007 interview in a tribute on Adrianne’s talk page, reminiscing that “Not long after [the interview,] you ‘came out’ and made your wiki-work a core part of your career—using it … to bolster your academic CV.” She would later attend Wikimania 2008 to give a presentation about her use of Wikipedia in the classroom.

Beyond editing

Aside from her prolific article writing, Adrianne was a champion for Wikipedia’s use in the digital humanities, believing it offers one of the best places for research that will have an impact on the public.

Adrianne became a prominent voice in the academic community. The Wiki Education Foundation (Wiki Ed) said in a statement that “Her pathbreaking essay on teaching with Wikipedia, “Wiki-hacking: Opening up the academy with Wikipedia“, served as the basis for the preliminary pilot of the program”, the Public Policy Initiative. They continued: “Adrianne was one of the first people to volunteer to help support university instructors looking to incorporate Wikipedia as a teaching tool in their classrooms; over the last four years, Adrianne has supported more than 20 courses as a Wikipedia Ambassador as well as teaching two courses herself.” She later became a founding board member for the then-fledgling foundation.

Perhaps even more importantly, she became the face of Wikipedia editing (literally) when her photo was featured on the cover of the first printed “Editing Wikipedia” brochure put out by the Wikimedia Foundation.

She related how her Wikipedia work had benefits in the classroom: “My ‘coolness factor’ as a teacher has risen. I frequently use Wikipedia as a teaching tool in an effort to explain what a reliable web source is and to teach basic copyediting skills. While discussing these rather mundane topics, I often tell little Wikipedia stories. That I write Wikipedia articles is apparently ‘awesome’. I also dramatically rose in my students’ estimation when Mary Shelley appeared on the main page on 30 October 2008.”

Adrianne’s HASTAC blog became a prominent voice in communicating and encouraging academic involvement in Wikipedia. An example of her work there comes from 2013, when she responded to the sexist “American women novelists” category: “If only there were more women on Wikipedia, the argument goes, this would not have happened. But no one has talked to the women who actually are on Wikipedia.”All of this underlines the fact that Adrianne was one of the strongest proponents of Wikipedia’s efforts to attract more female editors—her wish to enable better communication of underrepresented minority-related content.

In addition to this active public voice, she researched the place of humanities method and process within Wikipedia, a product of her extensive collaborations with a number of Wikimedians and academics. Wikimedian Alex Stinson, who considered Adrianne his mentor in thinking about Wikipedia’s role in the digital humanities and co-wrote an academic paper with her, wrote “the common mission we shared bridging Wikipedia and Digital Humanities community has gotten unimaginably harder. Her contribution was tireless and compelling and finding anyone to fill her shoes will be nigh impossible.” HASTAC’s Cathy Davidson wrote “she is a natural leader, an inspiration to us all … she represents the best of academe.”

Her drive was the inspiration for a plethora of edit-a-thons held in her memory in 2014 and 2015. Her partner, Peter B. James, wrote on the first anniversary of her death that people have “carried on with a memory of her passion, dedication, and tenacity to help move Wikipedia forward, and worked to continue her legacy of inclusive advancement of knowledge.”

It is a torch that will never be put out.

This tribute has been adapted and shortened from an obituary published in the Signpost in April 2014. A number of tributes can be read there.

by Ed Erhart, Andrew Lih, Liam Wyatt and Alex Stinson at April 08, 2016 06:07 PM

Gerard Meijssen

#Wikidata - labelling and the ArticlePlaceholder

The ArticlePlaceholder is a Wikimedia extension. It has huge potential to rapidly increase the available information in any and all Wikipedias because Wikidata has more data than any Wikipedia has articles. The big initial issue: How to translate the labels into the language of a Wikipedia.

There are many approaches and the initial one is to concentrate on "red links" first. With "red links" linked to Wikidata items, the ArticlePlaceholder may express the data as information for that Wikipedia. That is one big incentive to write the missing article :). Missing labels associated with properties may be added to localise all the information available on an item

It then becomes interesting; What to do next? There are the categories, the lists associated with articles. It would work, it would rapidly expand the number of items linked through ArticlePlaceholders. It would also rather quickly expand the number of items that seek a translation of their label. These can be found and sorted in order of prevalence.

Another approach would be to add labels as many labels as possible in Wikidata. When this results in terms that can be found, ArticlePlaceholders may be created when they are requested. When we keep track of the requests for ArticlePlaceholders, we can even prioritise the writing of missing articles.

Adding labels can be done in multiple ways; we can use dictionaries, we can transliterate. We can even use bots to do all this automagically for us. The biggest difference will be made when we seek and find collaboration. For most languages there are schools where students need to write papers. Particularly in the smaller projects this may make a huge difference. As they research their topic, they can localise all the missing labels starting from a "Concept cloud" for a subject.

Once this work gets underway, small Wikipedias will rapidly increase the number of subjects that are being served. The big question is not if it will be worthwhile but how it will affect Wikipedia article writing.

by Gerard Meijssen (noreply@blogger.com) at April 08, 2016 10:22 AM