Partner Project Update
, Jack Eastaugh.

I'm Jack Eastaugh, Digitisation and Technical Support Officer for the Australian branch of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, hosted by Museums Victoria in Melbourne. Working alongside Nicole Kearney, the Manager of the BHL Australia project, we, and the rest of the BHL Au team, digitise Australia’s biodiversity heritage literature and make it freely accessible online.

In 2023, BHL Australia received a Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) Local History Grant to digitise the legacy publications of Victoria's field naturalist clubs and create an online collection on the BHL website. The aim of which was to share the invaluable contribution these community organisations have made to Victoria's ecological and social heritage, creating a valuable resource for researchers, historians, and enthusiasts interested in the flora, fauna, and history of Victoria's diverse regions.

The Victorian naturalist Year: 1975

As we began this initial project, we noticed that these field naturalist clubs had little or no presence on Wikipedia and Wikidata, despite the notability of their natural history and conservation work.

It is from this realisation, that BHL Au approached Wikimedia Australia with a Wikimedia Australia Partner Grant proposal to fund the creation of Wikipedia pages and Wikidata records for these field naturalists clubs, as well as for their publications and notable people, places and events across time. The grant would also fund the sourcing of archival images and the upload of these into Wikimedia Commons.

Our project has several aims in mind:

  • Create and expand Wikipedia pages for notable Victorian field naturalist clubs that we have engaged with, drawing from online and print resources, as well as the published material we are digitising and adding to the BHL.
  • Create and enhance Wikidata records for the clubs and significant members.
  • Engage with the clubs by travelling to their regional communities to gain access to their archives, published resources and the local community to expand public knowledge of the rich history of the organisations themselves, highlighting the dedication and passion of the people behind them.
  • Assist copyright holders of historic and modern photographs of field naturalist club events and logos in submitting their media for Creative Commons licensing and uploading it to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Continue to expand Wikipedia pages and Wikidata records for notable clubs and individual field naturalists, by linking their contributions to scientific knowledge and conservation efforts to the native flora, fauna and national parks they have studied and protected.

Victoria’s field naturalist clubs have enthusiastically responded to our project, with many offering assistance in finding resources. We have begun to visit the regional field naturalist clubs, presenting the work we do at BHL Au, our field naturalist clubs project and the potential for a Wikipedia page and Wikidata record for the club.

Thus far, we have created Wikipedia pages and Wikidata records for all of the clubs who have been engaged for the project, which includes:

We have also edited and expanded twelve related pages using resources we have found during our research. We will continue to expand these pages as we digitise and upload publications to the BHL and uncover additional resources.

Please have a look at our work on the regional Field Naturalists Clubs of Victoria, Australia project page.

BHL Australia is hosted by Museums Victoria and receives its core operational funding from the Atlas of Living Australia. The Victorian Field Naturalist Project is funded by the Public Record Office Victoria and Wikimedia Australia.

The Wikimedia Foundation, in collaboration with Creative Commons and Project Gutenberg, filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief supporting the Internet Archive in the Hachette v. Internet Archive case. The lawsuit involves major publishers accusing the Internet Archive of copyright infringement through its Open Library service. Legal issues arose in 2020 when lending restrictions were removed during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a District Court ruling against the Internet Archive in March 2023. The Court found fault with the nonprofit’s fair use defense, emphasizing concerns about soliciting donations. In response, the Wikimedia Foundation’s brief argues that the Court’s interpretation of fair use could wrongly classify nonprofit secondary uses as commercial, impacting all nonprofit organizations’ ability to utilize copyrighted material.

Internet Archive building in San Francisco. Image by Svobodat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wikimedia Foundation submitted an amicus brief in support of the Internet Archive in the Hachette v. Internet Archive lawsuit. In this case, the Internet Archive is being sued by four major book publishers who claim that the Internet Archive’s Open Library service encourages copyright infringement. We argued that the Court’s definition of “commercial use” of copyrighted works unfairly restricts nonprofit activities. 

The Internet Archive was created with the objective of building a digital library for the public and to be able to access internet sites and cultural artifacts. It has been able to do so by scanning donated and purchased books, storing the physical copies, and then lending the virtual ones in a process called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). To prevent abuse, the Internet Archive would use virtual locks to prevent the content from being shared more than once. They believed that this would allow content to be lent through the fair use exception, while still respecting copyright-holders ownership of the works. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization decided to remove the lending restrictions it had on 1.4 million digitized books and created a National Emergency Library.

In March 2023, the District Court ruled against the Internet Archive’s Emergency Library and found that even if the nonprofit would lend the books for free, the fact that the organization solicited donations was a significant enough factor to find that the copyrighted works were being exploited in a way which harmed the owners of copyrighted material. Ultimately, the Court considered the use made by the National Emergency Library to be of a commercial nature: 

IA exploits the Works in Suit without paying the customary price. IA uses its Website to attract new members, solicit donations, and bolster its standing in the library community. […] IA receives these benefits as a direct result of offering the Publishers’ books in ebook form without obtaining a license. Although it does not make a monetary profit, IA still gains “an advantage or benefit from its distribution and use of” the Works in Suit “without having to account to the copyright holder[s],” the Publishers.

In September 2023, the Internet Archive appealed the decision. This led the Wikimedia Foundation, along with Creative Commons and Project Gutenberg, to submit an amicus brief in support. Our argument focused on the concern that the Court’s interpretation of fair use would unfairly classify any nonprofit’s use of copyrighted material to be commercial. The Wikimedia Foundation argued that it is problematic to associate additional users, donations, and reputation with “commercial” gains when, in actuality, they served the organization’s nonprofit purposes. The fair use exemption is important, as it allows some type of content to be freely posted on the Internet Archive’s website. Nonprofits with websites like the Wikimedia Foundation, Project Gutenberg, and Creative Commons use fundraising strategies and rely on donations to pay for infrastructure, employees, and other activities that help further each nonprofit’s mission.

We felt that the Court’s decision would threaten both the processes of nonprofit fundraising and the methods by which nonprofits, especially those which produce online educational resources, provide their services. Monetization should not be expanded to cover donations, as they are unrelated to the particular use of copyrighted material. We believed the Internet Archive did not have a commercial advantage with its Open Library service. Instead, it was serving the public in a time of greater need.

The content hosted by a nonprofit is generally set by what type of content can bring the greatest amount of benefit to the public at large. The Court’s decision, that a website-wide banner requesting donations was of a “commercial nature”, would subject nonprofit organizations to greater risks. As Wikipedia and other similar projects rely on user-generated content, this decision would create uncertainty for volunteer contributors, since rights holders may be emboldened to challenge the content posted by users. Ultimately, the Wikimedia Foundation believes that normal nonprofit activities like website-wide donation banners should not be seen as “commercial” under copyright laws. 

If you are interested in the topic and want to learn more about the case, you can read our joint amicus brief, the District Court’s ruling against the Internet Archive or about the Internet Archive and their mission.

We would like to thank the University of Southern California Gould School of Law Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic certified law students Zachary Hardy and Anna Higgins for their valuable contributions to this brief; our co-signers, Creative Commons and Project Gutenberg; the Wikimedia Foundation’s legal staff James Buatti, Shaun Spalding, Stan Adams and Jacob Rogers, and former legal fellows Elliot Ping and Veronica Dibos.

Learned Congka game in Malaysia

Friday, 24 May 2024 07:00 UTC

I am a member of a local reading group and read books to children in my community. Recently, I learned about a picture book by a Nigerian author titled “おとうとは青がすき (Chidi only likes blue)”. In the book, there is a scene where an African father teaches his children a game called Okwe (ókwè). It says that there are 14 hollows on a wooden board, and the children play by moving seeds that are placed in the hollows. It also said that children can learn numbers by playing this game. However, I had never seen this game in Japan, so I could not understand what kind of game it was.

Children pass the time with games (Hans-Peter Grumpe, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

When I was in Malaysia in May for ESEAP 2024, participants visited the Sabah Art Gallery. It was just at the time of the Malaysia-China friendship commemorative exhibition, so we were able to view art works from both countries. Outside the gallery there were chairs and table, and a long wooden object with a strange shape. I thought, “Oh, it’s that game I saw in a picture book!” So I asked Malaysian and Indonesian Wikimedians who were accompanying us to show me how to play.

Wikimedian introduces congka to Japanese Wikimedian, 9 May 2024 (Zahirulnukman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The name of the game is “Congka,” which in Chinese is written “馬來播棋 (Ma Lai Ban Qi). To play, two people sit facing each other and place a board between them. The same number of balls (about 10) are placed in every hole on the board. The order is decided by rock-paper-scissors, and the winner takes all the balls in one of the hole at the end of the board and puts them in the next hole one by one. The winner takes all the balls in the end. I did not understand the details of the game, but I understood that this kind of game is common in this region. Malaysian and Indonesian Wikimedians said that they used to play this game when they were little.

A wooden Mancala board (Cburnett, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

After returning to Japan, I found out that it is a kind of game called “Mancala,” which is widely introduced in Southeast Asia. Around Malaysia, it is called “Congka,” and in the Philippines, it is said to be called “Sungka”. In Africa, it is known as “Oware,” and I also learned that “Okwe” (ókwè) is the official Ibo language of Nigeria, and I have learned many things by going back and forth between Wikipedia and Wikidata. It was quite an enjoyable experience to learn that the balls are made of pebbles, beans, seeds, or beads, depending on the region.

LetHerEdit Campaign

Thursday, 23 May 2024 20:40 UTC

The LetHerEdit Campaign, held in April 2024 in collaboration with the Global WikiEducation Initiative, aimed to address the significant gender imbalance on Wikipedia. This initiative focused on recruiting more Tanzanian women to become Wikipedia editors, thereby promoting gender equity in content creation. The campaign was conducted online, providing participants with the necessary skills to create accounts and publish content on Swahili Wikipedia.

Event Overview

Virtual Launch

The campaign commenced with a virtual launch event where presenters outlined the campaign’s objectives and introduced a dedicated metapage for the initiative. This page served as a central hub for information and coordination, listing articles that participants could work on. The session included a comprehensive introduction to Wikipedia, covering the platform’s purpose, significance, and the various styles of editing.

Training Sessions

Participants received hands-on training on creating Wikipedia accounts, editing articles, and publishing content on Swahili Wikipedia. These sessions were designed to be interactive and inclusive, ensuring that participants felt confident and capable of contributing to Wikipedia. The training emphasized the importance of accurate and diverse content, aiming to empower more Tanzanian women to share their knowledge and perspectives.

Campaign Impacts

The campaign successfully created a significant impact by raising awareness about the gender gap in Wikipedia editing. Currently, only about 9% of Wikipedia editors are female, compared to 91% male. The LetHerEdit Campaign aimed to change this dynamic by actively encouraging and training women to become editors.

During the campaign period, a total of 169 articles were created on Swahili Wikipedia. This achievement is reflected in the campaign’s dashboard, showcasing the tangible results of the participants’ efforts. The newly created articles enriched Swahili Wikipedia with diverse content, contributing to a more balanced representation of knowledge.


The LetHerEdit campaign successfully raised awareness among women about the opportunities and importance of editing Wikipedia. The positive impact, evidenced by the creation of 169 new articles and high engagement levels, indicates a strong interest and commitment to continue inviting more women to participate in this initiative.

Moving forward, the campaign could expand by offering more online resources, such as detailed guides and video tutorials, to support new editors. Additionally, fostering long-term partnerships with various women’s institutions could help sustain the momentum and bridge the gender gap on Wikipedia. By continuing to provide skills training and support, the campaign aims to create a lasting impact on the representation of women in the open knowledge movement.

Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria 2.0 Takes Flight!

Thursday, 23 May 2024 20:32 UTC

With a focus on recruiting new participants who share a passion for GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) initiatives, alongside retraining individuals previously engaged in the Wikipedia Awareness for Library and Information Science in 2022 and the inaugural Wiki Loves Libraries event, the campaign strives for inclusivity and collaboration.

As we embark on this journey, it is worth celebrating the achievements of the team thus far. Three (3) successful online training sessions have already been hosted, serving as pillars of knowledge and inspiration for all involved.

Stay tuned for updates and insights as Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria 2.0 unfolds its chapters of empowerment and enrichment.

First (Online) Training Session: Introduction to Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria 2.0 and Introduction to Wikipedia

Date: April 13, 2024

The session, held from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM WAT, was moderated by Miracle James. Kicking off the proceedings, Miracle extended a warm welcome to all participants before inviting Blessing Linason, the project lead, to illuminate the purpose of the campaign and highlight its previous successes. Bukola James, the founder of the initiative, then shared insights on “Why Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria?” setting the stage for an enlightening discourse.

Transitioning seamlessly, Jeremiah Ugwulebo took the floor to introduce participants to the intricacies of Wikipedia. His comprehensive presentation delved into key topics such as the Pillars of Wikipedia, the Basics of a Wikipedia Article, the Wikipedia Article Guiding Policy, and the Overview of a Wikipedia Article.

Following the presentation, a brief interlude ensued, during which Blessing prompted participants to share the word for “library” in their native languages. Resuming, Bukola navigated attendees through the event meta page, elucidating the registration process and dashboard navigation to ensure effective project contribution. Passing the virtual baton to Blessing, she fielded questions from the engaged participants while also encouraging them to complete the attendance form and activate their cameras for a group photo session.

With that, the day’s program concluded on a high note, wrapping up a session brimming with insights, engagement, and collaborative spirit.

Event Details

Second (Online) Training Session: Introduction to Wikidata

Date: April 20, 2024

Moderating the session, Miracle James commenced with a recap of the previous session on Introduction to Wikipedia. Spanning from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM West Central African Time, the stage was then set for the day’s trainer, Rhoda James, to take the spotlight and delve into her presentation on Introduction to Wikidata. Rhoda’s comprehensive presentation encompassed fundamental topics including What is a Wiki?, What is Data?, Structured Data vs. Unstructured Data, Features of Wikidata, Structure of Wikidata, and How Wikidata Supports Other Wikimedia Projects.

Post-presentation, Rhoda seamlessly transitioned into the practical session, demonstrating to participants the intricacies of creating a Wikidata item from scratch and improving existing ones.

The subsequent Q&A segment was handled by Bukola James, facilitating an interactive exchange of queries and insights. As the session drew to a close, participants were encouraged to join in a photo session by activating their cameras, marking a fitting conclusion to an enriching session of learning and collaboration.

Event Details

Third (Online) Training Session: Introduction to Wikimedia Commons

Date: April 27, 2024

This marked the final online training session for Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria 2.0, with Miracle James resuming her moderation. Spanning from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM WAT, the day’s focus centered on “Introduction to Wikimedia Commons.” Miracle began by recapping the preceding sessions, ensuring that all participants, regardless of prior attendance, could glean valuable insights.

Next, the floor was handed over to the trainer of the day, Blessing Linason, who delved into a comprehensive presentation on various facets of Wikimedia Commons. From elucidating the essence of Wiki Commons to exploring elements of Creative Commons and delineating permissible actions, Blessing’s session provided a holistic understanding of the platform. Participants were also treated to a practical demonstration on image uploading, ensuring they left equipped with the necessary skills to contribute effectively.

The subsequent Q&A session facilitated an engaging exchange of queries and clarifications, further enriching participants’ understanding. A quick photo session added a touch of camaraderie and solidarity before drawing the session to a close.

Event Details

As we bid farewell to the online training session and look forward to the physical training session, let us carry forth the knowledge and insights gained as we continue our journey of enriching the digital landscape through Wiki Loves Libraries Nigeria 2.0. Together, let us forge ahead in our commitment to democratizing access to knowledge and fostering a culture of collaborative learning and contribution.

My First Wikimedia Hackathon

Thursday, 23 May 2024 20:22 UTC

In the heart of Tallinn, Estonia, from May 3rd to May 5th, 2024, the Wikimedia Hackathon unfolded, bringing together a diverse group of developers and enthusiasts from across the globe. The event was a celebration of collaboration, innovation, and shared mission of advancing open knowledge through technology.

As a participant in the 2024 Wikimedia Hackathon held in Tallinn from the group Wiki Mentor Africa (founded by Benedict Udeh under the Igbo Wikimedia User Group), it was an exciting and transformative experience for me that left an unforgettable mark in my journey within the Wikimedia movement. From the moment I stepped into the bustling venue, surrounded by like-minded individuals driven by a shared passion for open knowledge and collaboration, I knew I was in for an extraordinary adventure.

A Convergence of Minds

One of the most striking aspects of the hackathon was the vibrant energy that permeated the event venue. Participants, ranging from experienced Wikimedia contributors to first-time attendees like myself, gathered with a common purpose: to push the boundaries of what is possible with Wikimedia platforms. permit me to say that everyone brought their unique skills and perspectives to the table.

My task at the hackathon was enabling onscreen keyboard tailored to editing Wikidata descriptions, allowing for the seamless integration of special characters across various languages which was inspired by The User: Massly The hackathon provided a fertile ground for cross-pollination of ideas, with participants freely sharing insights and best practices across teams.

I found myself engaged in lively discussions, exchanging ideas, and learning from the wealth of knowledge that surrounded me, every interaction was an opportunity for growth and discovery.

Amidst the whirlwind of activity, I had the privilege of forging meaningful connections with fellow participants, each encounter adding a new layer of depth to my experience. One such connection was with Jon Harald Soby, whose expertise and guidance proved invaluable in ensuring the accuracy of the just approved Igala Wikipedia’s article count statistics. Another pivotal moment came through my collaboration with Martins Urbanec, whose support was instrumental in enabling Growth mentorship at

As the hackathon drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the profound impact of this experience. Beyond the lines of code and the technical challenges, what stood out most was the sense of belonging and purpose that permeated the event. In the span of just a few days, I had forged connections, with Danny Benjafield, Afi, Onyinyechi Onifade, Cynthia, Bell, Afi Maame Dufie and Raymond.

2024 Wikimedia Hackathon in Tallinn was more than just a gathering of developers and enthusiasts, it was a celebration of collaboration, creativity, and boundless potential of open knowledge. As I carry forward the lessons i learned and the memories made, I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this conference, united by a shared vision of a world where knowledge knows no bounds.

Katowice train station

Are you excited about your Wikimania 2024 journey? With a web of well-connected transportation, including an international airport, efficient rail links, and seamless road networks, Katowice is your gateway to the CEE Region like no other!

Katowice is a vibrant city with a unique blend of industrial heritage and modern attractions, from the iconic Spodek arena to the fascinating underground galleries of the Silesian Museum. Stroll through the charming streets, or relax in the Silesian Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe.

Planning your arrival

The conference program will begin on the morning of August 7, at 9:00 am local time. It will run through the evening of August 10. For those arriving in Katowice early on August 6, we will be organizing activities around the city. There will not be conference programming on this day. Some groups and committees will be organizing meetings for themselves. There will be also activities around the city happening on August 11, when most people will depart.

Flying in

Rules and regulations that apply to airborne travel don’t differ much from other countries, especially the Schengen Zone. The amount of fluids you can have in your hand luggage at security control is limited to 100 ml per bottle (and no more than 1 liter in total)–there are no CT scanners on Polish airports yet.

Katowice Airport

AP bus line, connecting the airport and the city

Katowice is served by the airport located 25 km / 15 mi apart from the city center. At the airport, there’s a train station (with no direct trains to Katowice at the time of writing). There are also bus and taxi stops by the terminal.

The recommended way of getting to Katowice from the airport is using bus line AP. It departs every 30 minutes (at night: every hour) from the airport and stops at several stops in Katowice (see more). This trip takes around 40 minutes. There are no special tickets for airport bus lines—a regular tariff applies (see below for ticket buying options).

Warsaw Airport

Main Polish airport, situated in Warsaw (crow’s flight distance to the city center: 7.5 km / 5 mi). Next to the airport terminal, there’s an underground train station from where trains to Warsaw depart every 15–20 minutes (except for nights). You can use city buses as well (it’s served by 4 day lines and one night line).

From Warsaw you can book a LOT flight to Katowice (there are 5 flights a day). If you’re arriving at Warsaw and wish to go directly to Katowice by train, the recommended way is from the Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina station transferring at Warszawa Zachodnia to Katowice—there are around 15 direct connections every day and the trip takes between 2h 30min and 3h 30min, depending on the train you pick. We encourage to buy tickets a few days in advance. Polish Railways allow to buy tickets a maximum of one month in advance, and they are the cheapest in the earliest days of availability.

Travelling by a train

Koleje Śląskie train

There’s a good number of trains coming from both within Poland (including Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław), as well as trains crossing Poland’s western and southern borders. There are direct connections with e.g. Berlin, Ostrava, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. More international routes are possible with transfers.

Express trains in Poland are operated by PKP Intercity. In order to ride such a train, you’ll have to buy a ticket in advance. The sales open 30 days (for international trains: 60 days) before departure and close 5 minutes before scheduled departure time. Tickets are sold for a specific relation and specific time. This means that you have to know precisely when you’ll be travelling.

Contrary to express trains, tickets for regional trains are sold for a relation and not a specific trip from a schedule. This means that you can use the ticket for another train on the same route (provided that it’s during the ticket’s validity time). Regional train tickets are valid for at least 3 hours from the time printed on the ticket (actual validity time can be longer and is decided on the carrier and may depend on the trip length, check here—in Polish).

Train tickets are available for purchase is ticket offices at many stations. They can also be bought on-line, for example on Koleo or Jakdojade app (Jakdojade offers only express trains). Regional train tickets can be bought from the Skycash app that also allows to buy other kinds of transport tickets.

Local transport

The local transport is organized by Polish communes independently. Therefore, you should expect that ticket types, prices, and specific regulations will vary between cities. The most popular types of ticket are for a specific time (eg. 20 min, 1 hour, 24 hours, etc.), so it’s a good idea to check how long your trip is going to take in advance.

We recommend using the Jakdojade app for buying bus and tram tickets and planning your trips (download for Android or iOSwebapp). It supports over 30 Polish cities and allows to buy tickets in many of them.

Check the Travel page on the Wikimania wiki

See the Wikimania wiki for detailed information, such as money, climate, network, and insurance.

The north-eastern region of India is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and mountainous terrain, characterized by its fragility, marginality, and inaccessibility. The north-eastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura lies between the high mountains of Nepal and Bhutan to the west, Tibetan plateau to the north, valleys of Myanmar to the east and northern hilly regions of West Bengal and Bangladesh to the south, showcasing remarkable geographical, ethnological and cultural diversity. This region, with 64% (255,000 of its total geographic area under forest cover, is home for two significant biodiversity hotspots, namely the Indo-Burma and Himalayan regions and lies close to the Mountains of Southwest China biodiversity hotspot. The area supports rich floral biodiversity ranging from tropical rainforests to alpine scrub and hosts a rich variety of wildlife including iconic animal and bird species such as the Red pandas, Marble cats, clouded leopards, leaf monkeys, golden langurs, greater adjutant storks, blyth’s paradise flycatchers, satyr tragopans etc. and, it boasts a plethora of butterfly species, including the Kaiser-i-Hind, Bhutan Glory, Brown Gorgon, and Yellow Gorgon, Moth Butterfly, Small Tawny Wall, among many others. This exclusive vast remote utopia with its magnificent richness of species diversity undoubtedly stand out to be a thriving and potential haunt for every naturalist organizations and groups including the Wiki Loves Butterfly (WLB) project, which started unfurling its wings of activities in quest of the gem of butterfly diversities and exquisite habitats thereon. 

Footprints of Wiki Loves Butterfly in the north-east Indian states

Although a paradise for biodiversity lovers, north-east India is no utopia as it poses significant challenges for conservation efforts like ours. The difficult, remote and sometimes inaccessible terrains, domestic and international border disputes, threats triggered by insurgency and terrorism, apathy from different governmental departments and organization, lack of resources and amenities, human-wildlife conflict etc. are some of the many challenges at different levels which are beyond our control. The unpredictable and highly inclement climatic condition of the region often leading to unexpected droughts and deluge also adversely affects biodiversity.

So, we have relied on local wisdom a lot to overcome these challenges. Without the active and trusted assistance of local people, communities, forest departments and organizations, any similar efforts like ours, are bound to fail. It took us a lot of patience and continuous efforts to sensitize local communities regarding the value of diversity and the usefulness of conservation through regularly organized workshops, meet-ups, and extensive outreach programs. As we mainly focus on prospective habitat based single spots point richness (i.e. number of species found at a single point in a given space) and alpha (α-) richness (i.e. number of species found in a small homogeneous area) while selecting target areas of documentation, it ensures holistic diversity of species of a province or a state in the long run. For example, we have invested to form a team of local butterfly enthusiasts in the state of Sikkim, who are insightful about the diversity of butterflies in their state and with their repeated visit to the hotspots, WLB has managed to upload 47 valued images from Sikkim only for unique live butterflies, for which we did not have any images on Wikimedia Commons beforehand.

But even with all our efforts, we have managed to run our projects in only 36 out of 126 districts of north-eastern states of India during our eight years of journey. There are still some states like Manipur and Mizoram which did not see any WLB action but our team in Sikkim has managed to set foot in every district in the state and uploaded 25% of all photographs uploaded from the entire north-east India. We still have a long way to go.

I have been participating in Wikimedia Japan-Malaysia Friendship since last year. I wrote some articles about Malaysia in friendship edit-a-thon. I would be going to Malaysia in May to participate in ESEAP 2024, since it is a great opportunity, I had been thinking about whether I could write articles about Malaysia for Wikipedia and Diff.

First, I searched Diff for articles about WikiGap and found one about Malaysia from last year, so I translated it into Japanese and published it. With this article, I learned that Malaysia has many indigenous languages and that various Wikimedia projects are involved in their preservation.

WIKI GAP TUARAN meeting at Kent College Institution, Tuaran with Wikipedia Boros Kadazandusun. (Syafiq.y, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This article had written by Taufic Rosman, who was named Wikimedian of the year at the Wikimania 2023. Then I translated the Wikipedia article of “Taufic Rosman” from English version to Japanese.

Next I read Wikipedia of “Kota Kinabalu“, I found that Japanese version did not have “Sabah Museum“. So I translated this article also in Wikipedia, in addition I posted this process in Diff.

In the meantime, the ESEAP program was released and I learned that the Wiktionary workshop would be held at the Sabah State Library. I am a librarian, so when I hear about libraries, I really want to visit one, and I translated this article on the Saba State Library.

ESEAP Conference 2024 Pre-Conference Wiktionary Workshop in the Sabah State Library (Farouk Azim, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

After publishing several articles like this one, I went to Malaysia. I met Taufik Rosman for the first time at the Sabah State Library and felt as if we had been friends for 10 years. And I was able to experience how well the Wiktionary workshop was conducted with the participation of the local people and us Wikimedians. I hope to write more articles about Malaysia for Wikipedia and Diff in the future when I have the chance.

Have you heard about WikiWomen? Wikimedia initiated this movement to promote gender equality within the Wikipedia community and other Wikimedia projects. This movement began with several global events, such as the WikiWomen Camp in Argentina (2012) and Mexico City (2017), and later developed into the WikiWomen Summit, a forum dedicated to inclusion and gender equality in the Wikimedia movement.

At Wikimania 2023 in Singapore, I had the opportunity to attend the WikiWomen Summit and WikiWomen Camp in India in the same year. These two events provided extraordinary experiences and opened my eyes to the importance of gender equality in the world of Wikimedia.

The 2023 WikiWomen Summit is an important moment because it is the first forum to specifically discuss inclusion and gender equality in the Wikimedia movement. This event features panels, learning sessions, and opportunities to build alliances and collaboration among women in the Wikimedia community. Meanwhile, WikiWomen Camp 2023 in India invites women from various countries, community leaders, and those who have strong experience in the topic of gender gaps. The goal is to provide valuable experiences, encourage open collaboration, and bridge the gender gap in the Wikimedia movement. 

From these two events, I gained a lot of enthusiasm and insight into how we can increase women’s participation in the Wikimedia movement. I then brought this to the “sawala” discussion session at WikiNusantara 2024.

The “sawala” discussion at WikiNusantara 2024 presented an important topic: women’s participation in the Wikimedia movement. This meeting aims to gather opinions from volunteers in Indonesia about the challenges and opportunities women face in contributing to Wiki. One of the important points discussed was the lack of organization for women-only events on Wiki. Although Indonesia frequently uses International Women’s Day to highlight the role and contribution of women in Wikimedia, these events are relatively rare. This needs to be considered to increase women’s involvement in the Wikimedia community. 
Apart from that, this discussion also revealed various issues relevant to women in the Wikimedia movement. The double burden that women often experience, both in their personal and professional lives, is one of the factors inhibiting their participation. Online environments, including Wikimedia projects, can also be places where female contributors encounter non-inclusive attitudes and behaviors. Of course, we need to address this to ensure women feel safe and comfortable contributing.

Recognizing the various challenges faced by women, this discussion also discussed the formation of the Indonesian Women’s Wiki Community. We hope this community can serve as a platform for women to support one another, exchange experiences, and enhance their skills in Wiki projects. The Indonesian WikiPerempuan Community aims to boost women’s involvement in the Wikimedia movement. Through cooperation and commitment from all parties, we can achieve gender equality in the world of Wikimedia and build a more inclusive and diverse community.

Apart from establishing communities, alternatives such as holding conferences that focus on issues related to women are also being considered. This community aims to encourage women’s participation in various aspects of Wiki projects, such as editing articles on women’s issues on Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects, as well as encouraging women to become Wikipedia administrators.

However, the challenges faced by women are not uniform throughout Indonesia. In Surabaya, a lack of understanding of the Wikimedia project was a major barrier to women’s participation. On the other hand, in Madura, the majority of Wiki project contributors are women, including pregnant women, wives, and other women interested in the Wiki project. Women also showed great interest in contributing to the UNSRI Wiki Club. In Bandung, the proportion of female and male contributors is equal. In Padang, the number of female contributors is smaller because the location is too far, making mobility difficult for women. Women often invite friends to Wiki activities, which typically attract more men, highlighting the importance of security precautions.
From the various examples above, it is clear that increasing women’s participation in Wiki projects requires inclusive and supportive solutions. Awareness of the lack of female contributors and the challenges they face, including bias and stereotypes, is critical. To overcome this obstacle, we expect concrete steps, such as forming the WikiPerempuan community and holding conferences. There is also a need to strengthen awareness of the importance of women’s contributions to Wikimedia projects. With the right solutions and support, we can create a more inclusive environment and encourage active women’s participation in Wiki projects. Let’s together support women’s participation in Wiki projects and build a more diverse and dynamic Wikimedia community!

A “history-making” experience on Wikipedia

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 16:00 UTC

From feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, and nervous, to knocking her Wikipedia assignment out of the park – North Carolina Central University Master of Information Science student Felecia Casey-Hicks went above and beyond her task of creating one new article for Wikipedia by publishing three brand new biographies featuring diverse notable figures in STEM.

Felecia Casey-Hicks with laptop showing the Madison Maxey Wikipedia article
Felecia Casey-Hicks with the Madison Maxey Wikipedia article. Image courtesy Felecia Casey-Hicks.

“As a Black woman in a male-dominated career, I know how disheartening it can be to be overlooked, or even disrespected, because of race, gender, social status, or other characteristics that are not considered mainstream,” said Casey-Hicks, a media professional with over 35 years of experience. “I think it’s important to recognize innovation and for people to see someone to whom they can relate, doing something they didn’t know was possible.”

The Wikipedia assignment brought Casey-Hicks together with classmates Janae Moore and Tanya Davis during her first semester of graduate school to create the Wikipedia article for Madison Maxey, an African American engineer, entrepreneur, and designer known for her work with electronic textiles and other advanced materials. 

“Contributing a biography of a diverse person in STEM, like Madison Maxey, to Wikipedia is a significant step towards addressing the underrepresentation of women and people of color on the platform,” said Moore, who also began graduate studies this spring. “As a STEM major and a black woman, I find it empowering to see individuals like Maxey recognized for their contributions, as it validates the importance of diversity in these fields and provides role models for future generations, including myself. This representation not only celebrates the achievements of underrepresented groups but also inspires others to pursue their passions in STEM, knowing that they, too, can make a significant impact.”

The trio divided the development of the article into sections, worked together to find reliable sources, and met often to ensure their collective progress toward finalizing and publishing the article on Wikipedia. 

Janae Moore
Janae Moore. Image courtesy Janae Moore.

The assignment enabled the students to develop and refine a wide range of skills, including research, critical thinking, and practical communications, explained Moore. Casey-Hicks echoed Moore’s reflection, also emphasizing the necessity of maintaining a neutral tone while writing for Wikipedia – a skill easily transferred to her career in visual media. 

For the entire group, the experience of filling in representation gaps on Wikipedia left a “profound impact” on the classmates, noted Moore.

“Contributing to the site and advocating for more diversity and inclusion was a deeply fulfilling experience for me, one that I am proud to have been a part of,” said Moore. “As a widely accessible platform, [Wikipedia] provides accurate and comprehensive information about individuals, helping to raise awareness of their achievements and influence. By offering a collaborative space for continuous updates, Wikipedia ensures that its coverage remains relevant and reflects the evolving narratives of these figures over time.”

Casey-Hicks, amazed by the process and initially concerned about potential scrutiny from Wikipedia editors, didn’t just stop with her group’s effort to create the new article for Madison Maxey. As an individual editor, she went on to develop new articles for Cordell Reed, an African American mechanical engineer and energy executive, and Arnold Stancell, an African American chemical engineer and scholar.

“The work [on the assignment] and experience were history-making and valuable,” explained Casey-Hicks. “It’s important to educate people about those who are doing extraordinary things to benefit society.” 

Led by course instructor Siobahn Grady, PhD, Casey-Hicks’ and Moore’s work on Wikipedia is part of a larger Wiki Education initiative sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, which encourages the creation of new biographies of diverse people in STEM on Wikipedia.

Interested in incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into your course? Visit to learn more about the free assignment templates and resources that Wiki Education offers to instructors in the United States and Canada.

Originally published 8 May 2024 by Lucia Medina WMAR and TCappelletto WMF

During the month of March, as part of International Women’s Day, the Halt! Women Making History  campaign took place in Wikimedia projects in Spanish and Portuguese. The goal of this initiative was to reduce the gender gap seen in Wikimedia projects, to provide visibility to women who have fought and continue to fight for human rights.

De Puyatika – CC BY-SA 4.0

Several organizations based in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula promoted the “Halt! Women Making History” campaign in response to the lack of content about women, and their low participation in Wikimedia projects and communities. The campaign aimed to increase the quantity and quality of Wikipedia articles about women’s movements, organizations and women who made history, as well as to ensure that images are available to document these articles.

The Campaign in Numbers

To achieve these goals, all those who participated in the campaign were encouraged to edit Wikimedia projects, with new groups also being encouraged to participate in order to enrich the debate about women as historical agents and builders of social, cultural, and political processes.

In addition to editing activities in Wikimedia projects, as a way of contributing content to this ecosystem, local activities were carried out in several countries to celebrate the struggles of women in their diversity.

Some facts about the Halt! Women Making History campaign:

  • It was co-carried out by 21 organizations
  • Bilingual Spanish and Portuguese coordination and publicity
  • 404 people registered as participants on the Meta event page
  • The list of articles to be created or expanded was made available in 20 regional languages
  • More than 40 activities were carried out in 12 countries in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula
  • More than 173 articles were created in the Spanish and Portuguese Wikipedias
  • More than 808 articles were improved in the Spanish and Portuguese Wikipedias
  • More than 290 original images and over 4,400 archival images were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons 
  • More than 350 items were created and improved on Wikidata

Beyond Metrics: Lessons Learned from the Campaign

The campaign organizers considered the metrics for this edition to be very satisfactory, but, going beyond the numbers, also decided to collectively reflect on the different ways in which we carry out campaigns in Wikimedia projects, and their impacts. Below we share some of these reflections with the entire Wikimedia movement, so that the lessons learned can be passed on to other groups and to future campaigns focused on reducing the gender gap.

We realized that when promoting significant contributions towards reducing the gender gap in Wikimedia projects we must also question the logic of quantity, of abundance as a value in and of itself. Although, on the one hand, the competition held on Wikimedia Commons had a good response in terms of quantity of images, on the other hand, we saw that some other possibilities, such as the insertion of structured data, were not being fully explored. For future campaigns, we would like to promote these edits and also acknowledge the time that editors dedicate to selecting, naming, describing, categorizing, and adding items to Wikidata. To make women who make history more visible in an effective manner, these contributions are as important as the images themselves, since they facilitate the search for these files in repositories, and therefore their use in other projects.

We also found out that promoting such a large number of territorial activities that were scheduled within the scope of the campaign, more than 40 activities in 12 countries, is no easy task. The campaign page on Meta had a huge number of visits and registrations, but we know that territorial activities in each country are key to attracting new editors and ensure their continued participation. Furthermore, another impact, perhaps less visible in terms of numbers but nevertheless very relevant, that occurred within the scope of the campaign, is the strengthening of local alliances in each territory, representing the consolidation of ties between Wikimedia organizations and their communities.

This is why we believe that when it comes to reducing knowledge gaps, it is essential to keep in mind that the number of contributions is not, in and of itself, a value, and that providing support to editors in the way that they want and can contribute, will sometimes require a slower pace and greater depth in terms of processes, even if this does not generate measurable numbers that describe the impact in metrics.

Halt! Women Making History was a campaign co-carried out by: Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedistas de Bolivia, Wikimedia Colombia, Cuarto Propio en Wikipedia, Wikimedistas El Salvador, Wikimedia España, Wikimedia México, WikiAcción Perú, Wikimedistas de Uruguay, Wikimedia Venezuela, Art+Feminism, Mujeres Latinoamericanas en Wikimedia, Whose Knowledge?, Wikimedia Chile, Wikimujeres,Wiki Editoras Lx, Mais Teoria da História na Wiki, Wiki Mulheres+, Wikimedia LGBT+, Wikiesfera, Ennegreciendo Wikipedia.

MetaPost sandbox

Monday, 20 May 2024 04:30 UTC

While working with MetaPost for typeface design(Nupuram, Malini), I frequently felt the need for a quick and easy way to test code snippets. This mirrors the functionality of popular online sandboxes like CodeSandbox or JSBin, which many developers are already familiar with. These platforms provide a web-based environment where you can edit code, see the output instantly, and avoid the hassle of setting up a complete application or environment. Inspired by this concept, I’ve been developing a MetaPost sandbox, and I’m excited to share it with you in this blog post.

Tech News issue #21, 2024 (May 20, 2024)

Monday, 20 May 2024 00:00 UTC
previous 2024, week 21 (Monday 20 May 2024) next

Tech News: 2024-21

weeklyOSM 721

Sunday, 19 May 2024 10:32 UTC


lead picture

Women participating in OpenStreetMap, a survey. Image by Ohene123 [1]


  • Salim has set up a new challenge on MapRoulette called ‘Portugal – Fix Spiky Buildings’, which aims to correct inaccurately mapped buildings identified on OpenStreetMap, some of which may be correct but many of which are likely errors.
  • The proposal to set the tag shop=tortilla is in the voting phase until Sunday 26 May.

Mapping campaigns

  • Tushar V recounted his experience of participating in an OpenStreetMap mapping party for the first time.


  • [1] Benedicta Banful Ohene-Amadi has provided an update on a survey on women’s participation in OpenStreetMap, revealing different perspectives on the issue from women and men, and highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing different viewpoints in mapping activities.
  • Nikita Ushakov explained the basics of OpenStreetMap editing using MapComplete, EveryDoor, and Vespucci.


  • Włodzimierz Bartczak tooted that the State of the Map Europe 2024 event programme is now available and hints that more details will be coming soon. It’s also the final call for proposals for presentations and workshops, inviting those with solutions based on OpenStreetMap data or discussions about the project’s history to participate (open until Friday 31 May).
  • FOSSGIS will host the 22nd OpenStreetMap Community Meeting this October in Essen, Germany.
  • State of the Map Europe 2024 is fully embracing Mastodon for communication, with a monitored account run by @etua_en and @Cristoffs. They encourage anyone with questions about the conference to tag them with @sotmeu for support.
  • The call for venues to host the State of the Map 2025 is now open until Sunday 21 July.


  • Alexandre Marques explained how to create interactive online maps using uMap, an open source tool that integrates OpenStreetMap layers, allowing users to add markers, lines, and polygons, import geospatial data, manage layers, and share maps through downloadable formats or embedded iframes on websites.
  • Séverin Ménard was invited to lead a workshop on river mapping in OpenStreetMap, using documentation published on the UN Maps Learning Hub. The workshop was organised by an oceanographer and president of the IVIDES, Dr Raquel Dezidério Souto, who provided more details in her diary. The video is available.

OSM research

  • The United States Census Bureau has developed a socioeconomic profile of the commuters affected by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, in Baltimore, based on OSM data and OSRM.


  • Daniel J. H. explored in detail the evolution and mechanics of OpenStreetMap’s vector tiles, highlighting their advantages over raster maps, detailing the Mapbox vector tile specification, and discussing challenges such as data redundancy across tiles.
  • Tino Dietel has created Freifunk Karte, a map that lists free wifi locations provided by the Freifunk movement.
  • Kamil Monicz detailed the ongoing preparations for the first development release of their OpenStreetMap NextGen project, including improvements to the elements sidebar, a preliminary implementation of the API 0.7, and general code cleanup.
  • The IVIDES has created a dynamic web map, using uMap, to support the actions being taken to combat the effects of the flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul that resulted in a significant humanitarian crisis. Official data on the hydrology of the affected region is available in the map documentation . Specifically, the polygons of flood areas were generalised from data from the National Institute for Space Research, which is also available from the ‘Flooding in Brazil’ activation on Disaster Charter. This initiative was blogged in Dr Raquel Dezidério Souto’s diary.

OSM in action

  • Reddit user AtmosphericBeats has created a 1:1 scale map of Baltimore in Minecraft, using OpenStreetMap data to accurately represent real building heights, street networks, pavements, parks, and more. This detailed model allows users to explore Baltimore in a virtual environment that mirrors the real city.
  • eMerzh tooted about an enjoyable cycling experience he had with his kids, highlighting a useful OpenStreetMap sign for cycling routes and appreciating its good attribution. Smveerman mentioned that you can order a free paper copy of this map from the Walloon government on their official site. Pieter Vander Vennet pointed out that allows users to participate in creating their own maps.
  • The KF Map provides a detailed digital map of Indonesia’s infrastructure, with a particular focus on Jakarta. It includes data on various property types, facilities, and key infrastructure elements such as toll roads, airports and seaports, facilitating comprehensive urban and regional planning and analysis.


  • Foxy found that the administrative boundary information in Overture Maps, which includes data from OpenStreetMap, is currently licensed under ODbL. Previously, this data was sourced from Esri and TomTom and was licensed under the CDLA Permissive 2.0 licence.


  • Marcus Jaschen announced several updates to the website, an OpenStreetMap-based bicycle routing app derived from brouter-web. These updates include a migration of the web server from Nginx to Caddy, a migration of the server to an ARM64-based architecture, and a migration of the operating system to Ubuntu 24.04.
  • Beakerboy has developed a 3D renderer web application allowing users to visualise an individual building object from OpenStreetMap.


  • Andrii Holovin has proposed a solution to the impasse in transitioning the Switch2OSM project to a new platform. He suggested preserving the current version on Jekyll as a historical artefact and starting anew by transferring the materials to MkDocs, a step he took over a year ago.


  • Garmin has released a new CycleMap and TopoActive map update, version 2024.10, for compatible wearable and handheld GPS devices. It improves navigation with updated map data while maintaining the same memory footprint. In case you didn’t know, these maps are based on OpenStreetMap data.
  • Bryan Housel announced the release of Rapid v2.3 for OpenStreetMap, introducing features such as Esri Wayback imagery for historical views, map rotation, MapRoulette integration for task management, and GeoScribbles for field notes.

OSM in the media

  • The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, a local newspaper in the Hokuriku region of Japan, reported the completion of a highway repair project using an OpenStreetMap road route illustration. The highway had previously been damaged in 30 locations by the Noto Peninsula earthquake.

Other “geo” things

  • Heise Online reported on several projects that aim to detect GNSS signal disruption globally: Flightradar24 GPS Jamming Map and GPSJAM.
  • Researchers are developing a high-resolution, impact-based flood forecasting, and early warning system that will provide near-real-time flood forecasts with uncertainties to improve disaster preparedness and response.
  • Google Maps has launched a live tracking feature for TransJakarta buses, much to the delight of many Jakarta citizens. Through its Google Transit Partner initiative, Google is open to collaborations with any public transportation agency that is interested in providing real-time updates to Google Maps.
  • Amir Shoam, in TechSpot, explained the history of MapQuest, a web-based navigation service that was popular around 1999 and in 2010 became the first large online mapping service to embrace OSM.

Upcoming Events

Where What Online When Country
Salt Lake City OSM Utah Monthly Map Night 2024-05-17 flag
Bayonne Rencontre Groupe local Pays Basque – Sud Landes 2024-05-17 flag
Gambir Monthly Mapping Talks 2024-05-17 flag
Gandhi Nagar Tehsil 8th OSM Delhi Mapping Party – Day 1 2024-05-18 flag
Durham Mapping around University of New Hampshire 2024-05-19 flag
Kalkaji Tehsil 8th OSM Delhi Mapping Party – Day 2 2024-05-19 flag
England OSM UK Online Chat 2024-05-20 flag
Lyon Réunion du groupe local de Lyon 2024-05-21 flag
Bonn 175. OSM-Stammtisch Bonn 2024-05-21 flag
UN Mappers training – Validating OSM data – session #10 2024-05-22
iD Community Chat 2024-05-22
Zürich Missing Maps Zürich Mai Mapathon 2024-05-22 flag
Rio de Janeiro 💻 Oficina de mapeamento de feições importantes na redução de riscos de desastres (RRD) – YouthMappers UFRJ 2024-05-24 flag
OSMF Engineering Working Group meeting 2024-05-24
San Jose South Bay Map Night 2024-05-29 flag
Gent OpenStreetMap-meetup + MapComplete birthday party 2024-05-28 flag
Düsseldorf Düsseldorfer OpenStreetMap-Treffen (online) 2024-05-29 flag
[Online] OpenStreetMap Foundation board of Directors – public videomeeting 2024-05-30
Potsdam Missing Maps Mapathon Potsdam 2024-05-30 flag
Saarbrücken Stammtisch OSM Saarland gemeinsam mit OpenSaar e. V. 2024-05-31 flag
City of Vincent Social Mapping Sunday: Hyde Park II 2024-06-02 flag
臺北市 OpenStreetMap x Wikidata Taipei #65 2024-06-03 flag

If you like to see your event here, please put it into the OSM calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM.

This weeklyOSM was produced by MatthiasMatthias, SeverinGeo, Strubbl, TheSwavu, barefootstache, conradoos, mcliquid, miurahr, rtnf.
We welcome link suggestions for the next issue via this form and look forward to your contributions.

Unearthing African history on Wikipedia

Friday, 17 May 2024 16:30 UTC

Africa is the birthplace of our species, and the place human civilization began, but outside of Egypt and the Nile Valley, how much do you know about ancient archaeological sites anywhere on the African continent? 

Over the past decade, Kate Grillo’s classes have worked to fix that problem, at least on Wikipedia. Initially at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and now at the University of Florida, Dr. Grillo’s classes, supported by Wiki Education’s Student Program, have added almost 200,000 words to Wikipedia’s coverage of African archaeology. Student editors in the latest iteration of her class, Introduction to African Archaeology, created four new articles about archaeological sites – Takarkori in Libya, al-Khiday in Sudan, the Jarigole pillar site in Kenya, and Old Oyo in Nigeria. In addition to creating these new articles, the class also made improvements to another 20 articles.

Takarkori is an archaeological site in southern Libya, near the border with Algeria. Evidence of human habitation dates back over 10,000 years to a period when this area, now deep in the Sahara, was much wetter and supported lakes, wetlands, and flowing streams. 

The article provides readers with a sense of the depth of history of the site and manages to meet a reader’s need for background information without delving too deeply into tangential topics. 

A good Wikipedia article needs to strike a careful balance between providing the reader with enough information to keep reading without adding so much background that it ends up duplicating information that should be in a separate article dedicated to the topic. When writing in an underdeveloped area of Wikipedia like this one, getting that balance right can sometimes be a challenge.

Al-Khiday is a group of five sites on the western bank of the Nile in Sudan that were discovered in 2004. The best-studied of these sites, al-Khiday 2, was occupied at least four separate times between the pre-Mesolithic and the Late Meroitic (a time period that relates to the city of Meroë, the capital of the Kingdom of Kush).

This article provides a glimpse at life in the Upper Nile Valley at various points in time over the course of thousands of years. It also lifts the curtain as to how archaeologists learn about life in ancient times through clues like charring in food remains, starch grain sizes, and the imprints of bacteria on prostate stones. 

Jarigole pillar site, a communal burial site in northern Kenya, and Old Oyo in Nigeria, the capital city of the Oyo Empire which was abandoned in 1835 after Fulani attacks, round out the set of articles created by student editors in this iteration of Dr. Grillo’s class. Together, these articles help fill gaps in an area of Wikipedia where significant absences abound.

Popular – and sometimes scholarly – knowledge is shaped by the information that’s available. Wikipedia’s existence has put an incredible amount of information at the fingertips of anyone with an internet connection (and a decent command of English or one of the other major language Wikipedias). But the information on Wikipedia tends to reflect the biases in popular content. By adding specific scholarly content in an area that’s less visible in the public imagining of the ancient world, student editors like those in Dr. Grillo’s classes can help chip away at systemic issues in the representation of human knowledge. 

Just by doing a class assignment, they can start to change the world.

Interested in learning more about teaching with Wikipedia and getting started in your own class? Visit or reach out with questions at

Hero image by Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Nick Sheppard, Open Research Advisor at Leeds University and winner of Wikimedian of the Year Award 2023, and Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at the Khalili Collections and Wikimedian of the Year in 2016, have teamed up with to create a primer for researchers on how and why to use Wikimedia projects as platforms for their work.

The new document is one of many Open Research primers published by the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) – a consortium that promotes best practice in research. The UKRN site hosts advice on open and reproducible research across all subjects; all freely available and openly licensed. The primer was reviewed by Daniel Mietchen (Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure, FIZ Karlsruhe) who is a contributor to multiple Wikimedia projects as well as a scientific researcher.

It may surprise people how much content on Wikipedia and its sister projects is drawn directly from scholarly publications. If you read about peat in any of eight languages, you see a global map of peat distribution from a research database at the University of Leeds. It’s one of many images that have come from open-access research. If you read about ant species, some of the text has been repurposed from research papers.

A peatmap of the world.
File:PEATMAP.jpg by Xu, Jiren and Morris, Paul J. and Liu, Junguo and Holden, Joseph

Concentrating mainly on Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikidata, the new document describes how sharing open-access research helps to open up the process of research while reaching a public audience much larger than the typical readers of a research paper. Individual charts and diagrams can be shared on Wikimedia Commons, along with the code and data tables used to create them. Text from suitable research papers can be reused in Wikipedia articles. Large databases can build mutual links with Wikidata, using it as a hub to connect with other sources of information about a topic.

There are many reasons to make the process of research as open and transparent as possible, including rigour, reproducibility, and public trust. As part of the UKRN’s work promoting transparency, its readers now have concrete suggestions of how the Wikimedia projects help this goal.

“I think this will prompt researchers in many fields to consider how their work can be visible on the most popular reference websites,” says Poulter. “And maybe give helpful next steps to those who have thought about it but are still apprehensive.” Neil Jacobs from UKRN said “We hope that this primer will encourage more researchers to work with Wikimedia in conducting research that is rigorous and transparent. It sits alongside others on data sharing, open software / code, community engagement in research, open hardware and many more.”

Wikimedia projects are community-driven and mainly work “bottom-up” with individual scholars and experts. There is also a place for working “top-down”: shaping the advice that respected organisations give to their communities. This work with UKRN is one example of work that Wikimedia UK and its community are doing with organisations in the scientific, scholarly, cultural, and volunteering sectors.

Find the primer on UKRN.

The post New guidance for researchers on Wikimedia and open research appeared first on WMUK.

ProWiki Turns Two 🥳

Thursday, 16 May 2024 00:00 UTC

Discover the improvements to MediaWiki hosting over the last two years.

In 2021, we set out to transform MediaWiki hosting into a modern, user-centric experience. Our goal was for you to be able to create a new wiki in a minute and try it out for free. We launched a premium hosting service with no ads, superb usability, many features, and excellent support.

We named our new solution ProWiki and launched it in May 2022. We have come a long way in those short two years, hosting many wikis and continuously improving ProWiki. Let’s look at some highlights!

Admin Panel

Customize your wiki via our MediaWiki admin panel.

Effortlessly configure settings, customize themes, activate extensions, and manage user permissions. Sidestep PHP configuration by using our user-friendly interface for seamless wiki customization.

Dashboard of the MediaWiki admin panel

We added over 100 new settings to the Admin Panel and recently redesigned it from the group up to make it even more intuitive. Learn more.

Single Sign-On

We're thrilled to announce that ProWiki now supports Single Sign-On (SSO), enabling you to authenticate seamlessly using various identity providers such as Google, Microsoft, Okta and Slack. You can also authenticate via Generic OpenID Connect or authentication services like Auth0.

A list of SSO identity providers including GitLab, Google, Microsoft, and Slack

SSO streamlines your workflow by reducing the need to manage multiple passwords and enhances security. Additionally, with our new OAuth Server support, you can use your wiki as an identity provider, allowing login to other applications with your ProWiki accounts.

As a cherry on top, we recently improved support for Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Administrators can now mandate 2FA, enhancing the security of your wiki.

2FA configuration that forces users to set up 2FA


Get started quickly with Wikibase via ProWiki. You configure Wikibase via the admin panel and enable various Wikibase extensions. Our most recent additions include Wikibase Client and a configuration UI for formatter URLs.

Wikibase dashboard showing statistics and configuration options

Create your own Wikibase today.

Slash Commands

Improve your editing productivity with Slash Commands, our new Visual Editor plugin.

“Slash commands” are an intuitive way to add content to your wiki pages. You are probably already familiar with slash commands from tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Notion.

Adding a table to a wiki page via Slash Commands in the MediaWiki Visual Editor

Slash Commands for MediaWiki are available exclusively on ProWiki and our other MediaWiki hosting options. They are part of our ongoing efforts to make MediaWiki as user-friendly as it can be.

Learn more about Slash Commands.

100 MediaWiki Extensions

We are continuously making additional MediaWiki extensions available on ProWiki. Over the last two years, we have added over 50 extensions.

Some of the extensions we added recently are ApprovedRevs for approval workflows, External Data for integration with external systems, Wikibase Client for access to Wikibase data, Moderation for vandalism protection, and Import Users.

Puzzle pieces around a sunflower

To ensure your wiki remains secure and performant, we only make high-quality and sustainable extensions available on ProWiki. Even so, there are many options to choose from. Find out our picks for the best MediaWiki extensions.

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More To Come

We have many exciting features in the pipeline. Stay tuned for more improvements to ProWiki.

We are working on artificial intelligence in MediaWiki, radically improved usability, knowledge management integrations, and more.

If you have feature requests or feedback, please let us know. We are always looking for ways to provide more value.

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With 100 users, SharePoint Business Standard, Confluence Premium and Notion Team all cost roughly 1000 EUR per month. For their higher tier plans, you pay roughly a quarter of a million EUR per year. With ProWiki, you pay 119 EUR per month for our Premium plan and 279 EUR for the Ultra plan.

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Wikimedia Hackathon 2024 recap

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 00:00 UTC

Jessica Hernandez challenges the norms of traditional Western scholarship in her work as an environmental scientist, author, and activist. Hernandez, who is Maya Ch’orti and Binnizá-Zapotec, brings her lived experience as an Indigenous scholar into her research, building a bridge between activism and academia.

Like many notable women of color in STEM, Hernandez’s work was missing on Wikipedia – until just two months ago, when four undergraduates living across the country from Hernandez came together to add her story.

“Jessica Hernandez is an Indigenous scientist who gets very little exposure and advocates for communities and groups that are also underrepresented,” said Dayanara Mendez, a first-year English student at Lone Star College-Kingwood, a community college in Houston, Texas. “To get the chance to write an article about a woman of color in STEM, especially since I’m Hispanic and I always love the chance to learn more about other Latinos, made this a great opportunity.”

Classmates Natalie Ramirez, Alexandria Ravina, and McKenna Sealy joined Mendez to create the new Wikipedia article for Hernandez, working collaboratively to outline sections, find high quality sources for citations, and review each other’s research and writing. For Sealy, the Wikipedia assignment was a chance to share an inspiring and important perspective.

Professor Brian Shmaefsky's spring 2024 class, Lone Star College-Kingwood
Professor Brian Shmaefsky’s spring 2024 class. From left, standing: Alexandra Ravina, McKenna Sealy, Natalie Ramirez, Dayanara Mendez. Image courtesy Brian Shmaefsky.

“Jessica Hernandez has a lot to offer our world from her Indigenous perspective and research as an environmental scientist, activist, author, and researcher,” said Sealy. “She’s learned a lot through her family heritage about the environment, and that, combined with her formal education, can be very powerful in helping us to better understand the world around us and how to take care of it.”

Sealy noted the power of Wikipedia in shaping awareness and understanding of notable figures like Hernandez, emphasizing its accessibility.

“Because of Wikipedia, no one needs a database that costs money to learn more about people making a great impact on the world,” Sealy explained. “The assignment helped me realize that we can all contribute to big and important things even if we feel small and don’t think we can have an impact.”

At first, Mendez dreaded the research for the project, but once she began, quickly changed her mind.

“When I actually started, I found that it was pretty fun,” Mendez shared. “It was kind of challenging and I’m grateful for it because it was something new. It helped kill the boredom that I normally get from writing the same kind of essay consistently.” 

While she was a little nervous for the Wikipedia page to go live for the world’s eyes, Mendez received positive feedback from friends and would look forward to another Wikipedia assignment in the future.

Sealy agreed, noting the feeling of accomplishment when they finalized and published the article.

“This was a great assignment compared to a traditional assignment because rather than turning in a paper no one will ever see again, I’m actually making a difference and my work will be seen,” said Sealy.

Guided by course instructor Dr. Brian Shmaefsky, the group’s Wikipedia assignment is part of a larger Wiki Education initiative sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, which encourages the creation of new biographies of diverse people in STEM on Wikipedia.

Interested in incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into your course? Visit to learn more about the free assignment templates and resources that Wiki Education offers to instructors in the United States and Canada.

Explore other related stories:


Bringing our mission to life through animation

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 08:36 UTC

As an organisation deeply committed to the principles of open knowledge and free information, Wikimedia UK has always sought innovative ways to engage with our community and promote our cause. Today, we’re thrilled to announce a new chapter in our outreach efforts: the launch of our new animations, designed to illuminate our work and bring about a greater understanding of our mission.

Since November 2023, we have been collaborating with a fantastic animation studio called Ritzy Animation who have helped us to bring our ideas to life, using images from Wiki Commons, which they’ve beautifully animated. 

There are four animations in total, providing an overview of us as an organisation and our three strategic themes. We have also created Welsh language versions, to support our projects and programmes across Wales.

Introduction to Wikimedia UK. Image attributions.

Why animation?

In a world inundated with information, we recognise the importance of finding creative ways to communicate our message effectively. As a result, we have identified a need for a more dynamic and accessible approach to engage with diverse audiences. Animation offers a unique medium to communicate new, and at times complex, concepts into digestible and visually appealing narratives, making our work more relatable and engaging to everyone.

Knowledge equity. Image attributions.

What do our animations cover?

Our animations cover both Wikimedia UK’s mission and objectives, offering insights into the wide-ranging impact of our work. From highlighting the significance and impact of open knowledge, to showcasing our three strategic themes of knowledge equity, information literacy and climate & environment, each episode offers a glimpse into our work and our mission.

Through captivating storytelling, and vibrant visuals, our aim is to demystify the concept of open knowledge and inspire viewers to become active participants in the creation and dissemination of knowledge through Wikimedia- these animations serve as an invitation to join us on our mission to empower individuals and communities through knowledge sharing.

Information literacy. Image attributions.

What we hope to achieve

At Wikimedia UK, our ultimate goal is to help build a world where every person has access to the sum of all human knowledge. With these animations, we hope to reach new audiences, ignite curiosity, and spark meaningful conversations about the importance of open knowledge in today’s society. 

By showcasing the breadth and depth of our work, we aim to raise awareness about the Wikimedia movement and the vital role it plays in promoting access to knowledge for all. We also hope to inspire individuals to actively contribute to Wikimedia projects, whether through editing articles, participating in community discussions, or supporting our initiatives in other ways.

Climate and environment. Image attributions.

Join us on our animated journey!

We hope that these animations help to convey to you what working with Wikimedia can do for you, your organisation or your community. Whether you’re a seasoned editor or someone new to our movement, there’s a place for you in the world of Wikimedia. Together, let’s harness the power of open knowledge to build a brighter, more informed future for generations to come.

The post Bringing our mission to life through animation appeared first on WMUK.

Wikimedia Hackathon Tallinn 2024

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 00:00 UTC

This year's Wikimedia Hackathon was held in early May in Tallinn, Estonia. Like last year, it was a great opportunity to both see people I work with regularly, including people in my own team that I had not seen in person before, and to work with and help people that I have had very limited interactions with before. Image by Olari Pilnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. I presented a session about Puppet (slides), the configuration management tool used on Wikimedia infrastructure (and some other projects I've been involved on) which I think went quite well.

Wikimedia Europe has signed an open letter, penned by the Wikimedia Foundaiton, that calls on UN Member States to protect Wikipedia and other public interest projects in the forthcoming Global Digital Compact.

The Global Digital Compact initiative is a unique and pivotal opportunity to shape our digital world in a manner that advances the public interest and supports sustainable development for everyone, everywhere. 

UN Member States have the chance to embrace a positive vision for the internet’s future that supports and empowers diverse communities everywhere to build and operate free and open knowledge projects. The Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, provide the world with the largest free and open, multilingual, intercultural, universally accessible repository of educational materials ever created. The volunteer-run Wikimedia projects have formed a community-led ecosystem that champions information integrity. They serve as digital public infrastructure for openly licensed, neutral, encyclopedic content in over 300 languages.

Wikipedia’s experience of over two decades has taught us that the internet needs to be open, global, interoperable, and inclusive in order to serve all of humanity. To that end, three essential commitments should be included in the text of the Global Digital Compact:

  1. Protect and empower communities to govern online public interest projects.  Free knowledge projects such as Wikipedia should not be rare. UN Member States should—through regulation, public policy, funding, and other resources—support a world where diverse online communities can build and govern their own public interest projects, designing them to be equitable and contributing to a healthier online information ecosystem. 
  2. Promote and protect digital public goods by supporting a robust digital commons from which everyone, everywhere can benefit. Digital public goods such as Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects aim to make multilingual and intercultural information freely accessible to everyone. A thriving public domain that enables the sharing of free and openly licensed content for everyone to use and reuse is key to advancing many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  3. Build and deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to support and empower, not replace, people who create content and make decisions in the public interest. AI and machine learning tools should support, and not replace, the work of humans. They should be designed and deployed in a manner consistent with international human rights standards, ensuring clear and consistent attribution. Such tools should also ensure participation and control by affected communities through transparent, accountable, and open processes.

Tech News issue #20, 2024 (May 13, 2024)

Monday, 13 May 2024 00:00 UTC
previous 2024, week 20 (Monday 13 May 2024) next

Tech News: 2024-20

weeklyOSM 720

Sunday, 12 May 2024 10:50 UTC


lead picture

Sustainable Map [1] | © sustainable.zottelig | map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Mapping campaigns

  • contrapunctus has suggested hosting a mapping party to coincide with DebConf24, which will be held from 28 July to 4 August at Pukyong National University, Busan, South Korea. Hwang Dongha said that attracting the local OSM community, Debian user groups, and Ubuntu user groups to the mapping party would be an easy way to get people together, and would also create an opportunity to promote OSM in South Korea.


  • In response to the recent OSM vandalism controversy, caused by some players of Niantic’s Pokemon GO, Ilya Zverev has written a short essay titled ‘Не вина Niantic‘ (It’s not Niantic’s fault), justifying Niantic’s move to join Overture Maps rather than the OpenStreetMap Foundation.
  • Jiří Eischmann, a Red Hat desktop engineering manager among other things, made the following recommendation on Mastodon: ‘If you’re exploring OpenStreetMap like me and [you find] is too heavy for you, try OSMapp…’, a statement that triggered a few comments.
  • … elsewhere, Jiří Eischmann also commented on OsmAnd and mapycz. David Heidelberg, a Czech Linux developer, suspects that Jiří has fallen in love with OSM.
  • Julien Coupey shared his favorite OSM note of the moment (or possibly the year) : ‘Note 4097195 : The former sex shop has become a “evangelical protestant church”. I’m announcing I’m not touching that’.
  • Maurizio Napolitano presented a webinar entitled ‘OpenStreetMap: A collaborative Ecosystem Serving Society and Business’. The webinar discussed the role of OSM in enhancing innovation in the public and private sectors.
  • Kamil Monicz has published his OpenStreetMap NextGen Development Diary #5.5. At the end of May, OpenStreetMap-NG will include the necessary functionality to run on a testing server, as well as to invite new contributors into the project.
  • The UN Mapper of the month for May is Modo Levo Engelbert Steve, a geomatics student from Cameroon.
  • Brian Sperlongano has conducted a statistical analysis of the distribution of the populations of places in OpenStreetMap.


  • Pieter Vander Vennet announced that he will be holding an OpenStreetMap workshop for beginners in Ghent, Belgium on Thursday 16 May.


  • As a special guest, Dr Raquel Dezidério Souto gave a workshop on the creation of web maps with uMap and OSM data for a class at the Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. This was part of the PACES course coordinated by Professor Michael McCall. She described her expeience in her diary and shared the link to the recorded video for those who want to create a map like this.
  • The Trufi Association drew attention to its free ‘Public Transport‘ online courses.

OSM research

  • A study published in Geo-spatial Information Science analysed how the provision of OpenAerialMap images is associated with changes in the underlying editing patterns of OSM features.


  • [1] MapAmore reviewedSustainable Map‘, an OpenStreetMap-based web map that focuses on environmental sustainability themes.

OSM in action

  • Tykayn used MarineTraffic, a website displaying global marine traffic using OpenStreetMap data, to ponder how many people are currently at sea.

Open Data

  • As part of their migration process to Overture Maps, Meta has decided to discontinue the Daylight Map Distribution, a dataset derived from OpenStreetMap data, first released in March 2020. The last release is scheduled for November 2024.
  • Shizuoka Prefecture is known as an innovative region of Japan. In an article on the prefecture’s website they explained the ‘VIRTUAL SHIZUOKA concept’ (an open point cloud database available under CC BY 4.0). This enables Shizuoka Prefecture to be captured and experienced virtually.


  • Ilya Zverev has released Every Door version 5.0. Now, you can try the freehand line drawing mode to sketch streams, culverts, walls, fences, cycleways, power lines, footways, paths, roads, and tracks by using the fourth mode for notes.
  • TrickyFoxy has developed a Tampermonkey script to add some functionality to the OpenStreetMap website.
  • Jeyseni recommended using OsmAnd as it is reliable enough to be used as an offline map application in Japan.

OSM in the media

  • Jomo noted that Germany’s most prominent TV news show, the Tagesschau (Review of the Day), is using OpenStreetMap and Maptiler to render maps in their brand design.
  • Tama Plaza News, a local news site covering the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan, recommended OpenStreetMap as a site for looking up street names.

Other “geo” things

  • Grant Slater is annoyed with Wikipedia, which rejected his attempt at creating a new article for a large dam, as it was not deemed notable enough.
  • OpenCage explained the annotation feature in its geocoding API. This feature serves to provide various additional information about a location.
  • OpenCage shared a news story about the local residents protesting as a result of the policy of the North Yorkshire council that is forcibly removing apostrophes from the local addressing system, allegedly due to the computer security risk they may pose.
  • Rakushouke, a keen Pokémon GO trainer, embarked on a short trip to Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, located near Kyoto. With the help of OpenStreetMap, they successfully tracked down Wiglett (ウミディグダ/Umidigda in Japanese) and documented their findings in a photo blog .

Upcoming Events

Where What Online When Country
Localidad Chapinero GeoBeer Mayo 2024 2024-05-11 flag
SotM Asia 2024 monthly meeting 2024-05-11
Webinaire sur la campagne d’adhésion à OSMF 2024-05-11
Mainz OpenStreetMap-Stammtisch Mainz 2024-05-11 flag
Bengaluru OSM Bengaluru Mapping Party 2024-05-12 flag
København OSMmapperCPH 2024-05-12 flag
Zürich 163. OSM-Stammtisch Zürich 2024-05-13 flag
Grenoble Réunion groupe local Grenoble : Panoramax – L’alternative libre pour photo-cartographier les territoires 2024-05-13 flag
Grenoble Atelier du groupe local OpenStreetMap 2024-05-13 flag
San Jose South Bay Map Night 2024-05-15 flag
UN Mappers training – Validating OSM data – session #9 2024-05-15
Karlsruhe Stammtisch Karlsruhe 2024-05-15 flag
Zagreb State of the Map Croatia 2024 2024-05-16 – 2024-05-17 flag
[Online] Map-py Wednesday 2024-05-16
Salt Lake City OSM Utah Monthly Map Night 2024-05-17 flag
Hannover OSM-Stammtisch Hannover 2024-05-16 flag
Gent OpenStreetMap workshop for beginners 2024-05-16 flag
Durham Mapping around University of New Hampshire 2024-05-19 flag
England OSM UK Online Chat 2024-05-20 flag
Lyon Réunion du groupe local de Lyon 2024-05-21 flag
Bonn 175. OSM-Stammtisch Bonn 2024-05-21 flag
UN Mappers training – Validating OSM data – session #10 2024-05-22
iD Community Chat 2024-05-22
Zürich Missing Maps Zürich Mai Mapathon 2024-05-22 flag
Rio de Janeiro 💻 Oficina de mapeamento de feições importantes na redução de riscos de desastres (RRD) – YouthMappers UFRJ 2024-05-24 flag
OSMF Engineering Working Group meeting 2024-05-24

If you like to see your event here, please put it into the OSM calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM.

This weeklyOSM was produced by SeverinGeo, Strubbl, TheSwavu, TrickyFoxy, YoViajo, adiatmad, barefootstache, derFred, euroPathfinder, miurahr, rtnf.
We welcome link suggestions for the next issue via this form and look forward to your contributions.

This Month in GLAM: April 2024

Saturday, 11 May 2024 06:46 UTC

Take a guess – what content gap in the Wikipedia articles on Lysol, the Great Depression in the United States, and the Black Panther Party is now filled, thanks to the work of Utah State University student editors? The answer might surprise you! You can now learn about the role of contraception in each subject’s histories.

These student editors may have channeled their research on birth control into unexpected areas of Wikipedia, but they weren’t the only students in Chris Babits’ History of Sexuality class who focused on adding information related to contraception to the online encyclopedia. Classmates also enhanced related pages including the Cornstock laws and Family planning in the United States. And until one Utah student jumped in, the Views on birth control in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page was missing arguably the most relevant view: the church’s current stance on contraception. 

Just as real-world events can lead to spikes in readership of related Wikipedia articles, student editors can be motivated to work on topics that experience a peaked level of public interest, wanting to add information to the in-demand area of knowledge.

Babits’ students’ decision to explore the topic of contraception may have been influenced by the real-world interest in the information following a milestone decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 24, 2022 the Supreme Court officially ruled to reverse Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists. The decision undoubtedly drew attention to Wikipedia’s abortion article, which noted a significant jump in page views the following day, as well as to Wikipedia’s article on birth control, which nearly quadrupled in daily readership by June 25. 

Screenshot of chart depicting page views of the birth control article on Wikipedia June 20 - June 26, 2022
Screenshot of chart depicting page views of the Wikipedia article on birth control June 20 – June 26, 2022 (click to view)

So it should come as no surprise that Babits’ class, who’s collective edits on Wikipedia articles have been viewed nearly one million times, isn’t the only recent class in our Wikipedia Student Program to address knowledge gaps related to contraception. 

In fall 2023, three of Caroline Smith’s students at The George Washington University collaborated to create a new article on emergency contraceptives on college campuses, exploring the history, accessibility, and legislation of access at colleges and universities across the country. Their article explores the first time morning-after pills were sold in vending machines on a college campus at The Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, the spread of the concept to other institutions, and the related legislation.

This spring term, four of Smith’s students also worked together to create another new Wikipedia article to share the history of Julie, a healthcare company that markets a non-prescription emergency contraceptive pill. Julie launched their product in September 2022 in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade with a mission of removing stigmas around emergency contraception and increasing access for marginalized communities.

By filling in missing information for topics of public interest and need, student editors like Babits’ and Smiths’ can make tremendous impact through the Wikipedia assignment. Interested in learning more and getting started in your own class? Visit or reach out with questions at

The Wikimedia Endowment is delighted to welcome Mayree Clark as a new member of its Endowment Board. Mayree, a finance expert, will bring her extensive governance expertise to the Wikimedia Endowment, a nonprofit charitable organization providing a permanent safekeeping fund to support the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity.

Mayree Clark is a former director of the Stanford University Endowment. She brings a diverse background in investment banking, equity research, and investment management to the Wikimedia Endowment Board. Mayree spent over 20 years at Morgan Stanley, where she held various leadership roles, including deputy to the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of finance company MSCI. After leaving Morgan Stanley, Mayree joined the investment management industry and later founded Eachwin Capital, an investment management firm. She has served on the boards of Ally Financial, Taubman, and Deutsche Bank AG, contributing her expertise in risk management, governance, and corporate turnaround. Mayree is also involved in multiple philanthropic organizations and holds degrees from the University of Southern California and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She has been a dedicated donor to the Wikimedia Foundation since 2007.

“Mayree’s dedication to the Wikimedia Endowment is palpable. She enriches our Board, as her financial expertise guides us forward, enhancing our collective mission of knowledge building, equity, and dissemination,” said President of the Wikimedia Endowment, Lisa Seitz-Gruwell.

With Mayree’s addition, the Endowment Board now has eleven members who all serve as volunteers; Board members are appointed for three years and may serve up to three terms.

Mayree’s appointment follows the recent release of the Wikimedia Foundation’s digital-first, interactive Annual Report and Endowment Report, spotlighting Wikimedia’s achievements and the vital role of donors. Emphasizing the theme “Knowledge is Human,” the reports honor the diverse individuals, including volunteers, staff, and donors, who contribute to the mission of making free, reliable knowledge accessible to everyone, everywhere.

“I am thrilled with the opportunity to play an active part in supporting this precious community and all that it brings to the world,” said Mayree Clark.

About the Wikimedia Endowment

Launched in 2016, the Wikimedia Endowment is a nonprofit charitable organization providing a permanent safekeeping fund to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. It aims to create a solid financial foundation for the future of the Wikimedia projects. As of December 31st, 2023, the Wikimedia Endowment was valued at $130 million USD. Endowment Board members are selected based on active involvement in philanthropic endeavors, prior nonprofit board experience, fundraising and investment expertise, and a strong commitment to the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission. They serve as volunteers. The Wikimedia Endowment is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 charity (Tax ID: 87-3024488).

The post The Wikimedia Endowment welcomes Mayree Clark as its newest Board member  appeared first on Wikimedia Foundation.

MediaWiki edit summary XSS write-up

Wednesday, 8 May 2024 19:59 UTC

 Back in January, I discovered a stored XSS vulnerability in core MediaWiki (T355538; CVE-2024-34507). Essentially by setting a specific edit summary when editing a page, you could run javascript (And take over the account of anyone viewing the edit summary, for example on the history page or recentchanges)

MediaWiki core is generally pretty good when it comes to security. There are many sketchy extensions, and sometimes there are issues where an admin might be able to run javascript, but by and large unauthenticated XSS vulns are fairly rare. I think the last one was CVE-2021-44858 from back in 2021. The next one before that was CVE-2017-8815 in 2017, which only applied to wikis configured to have a site language of certain languages (e.g. Serbian and Chinese). At least, those were the ones I found when looking through the list. Hopefully I didn't miss any. In any case, finding XSS triggerable by an unprivleged attacker in MediaWiki core is pretty hard.

So what is the bug? The proof of concept looks like this - Create an edit with the following edit summary:

[[Special:RecentChanges#%1b0000000|link1]] [[PageThatExists#/autofocus/onfocus=alert("xss\n"+document.domain)//|link2]]

This feels a bit random at first glance. How does it work?

The edit summary parser

Whenever you edit a page on MediaWiki, there is a box for your edit summary. This is essentially MediaWiki's version of a commit message.

Very little formatting is allowed in this summary. A major exception is links. You can link to other pages by enclosing the link in [[ and ]].

So this explains a little bit about the proof-of-concept - it involves 2 links. But why 2? It doesn't work with just 1. What is with the weird link targets? They are clearly abnormal, but they also don't look like typical XSS. There are no < or >, there aren't even any unclosed quotes.

Lets take a deeper look at how MediaWiki applies formatting to these edit summaries. The code where all this happens is includes/CommentFormatter/CommentParser.php.

The first thing we might notice is the following line in CommentParser::preprocessInternal: "// \x1b needs to be stripped because it is used for link markers"

In the proof of concept, the first part is [[Special:RecentChanges#%1b0000000|link1]], where %1b appears. This is a good hint that it has something to do with link markers, whatever those are.

Link markers

But what are link markers?

When MediaWiki makes a link, it needs to know whether the page being linked to exists or not, since missing pages use a red colour. The most natural way of doing this is, when encountering a link, to check in the DB whether or not the page exists.

However, there is a problem. When rendering a long page with a lot of links, we have to do a lot of DB lookups. The lookups are simple, but still on a separate (albeit nearby server). Each page to lookup involves a local network request to fetch the page status. While that is happening, MW just sits and waits. This is all very fast, but even still it adds up a little bit if you have say 500 links on a page.

The solution to this problem was to batch the queries. Instead of immediately looking up the page, MW would put a small link marker in the page at that point and carry on. Once it is finished, it would look up all the links all at once, and then do another pass to replace all the link markers.

So this is what a link marker is, just a little marker to tell MW to come back to this spot later after it figured out if all the links exist. The format of this marker is \x1B<number> (So \x1B0000000 for the first one, \x1B0000001 for the second, and so on). \x1B is the ASCII escape character.

Back to the PoC

This explains the first part of the proof of concept: [[Special:RecentChanges#%1b0000000|link1]] - the link target is a link marker. The code has a line:

                                // Fix up urlencoded title texts (copied from Parser::replaceInternalLinks)
                                if ( strpos( $match[1], '%' ) !== false ) {
                                        $match[1] = strtr(
                                                rawurldecode( $match[1] ),
                                                [ '<' => '&lt;', '>' => '&gt;' ]

Which normalizes titles using percent encoding to use the real characters. Thus the %1B gets replaced with an actual 0x1B byte sequence. The code did try and strip 0x1B characters earlier, but at that point, it was still just %1b and did not match the check.

We now have a link with a link marker inside of it. An important note here is that Special:RecentChanges is not a normal page. It is a special page. MediaWiki knows it exists without having to consult the database, so it does not get the link marker treatment. This is important because we cannot use it as a fake link marker if it gets replaced by a real link marker.

At this stage after inserting link markers, the proof of concept becomes the following string:

<a href="/w/index.php/Special:RecentChanges#\x1B000000" title="Special:RecentChanges">link1</a> \x1B0000000

A link with a link marker inside it!

The second link

The \x1B0000000 is a stand in for [[PageThatExists#/autofocus/onfocus=alert("xss\n"+document.domain)//|link2]].

The replacement at the end is a normal replacement, and everything is fine. However there are now two replacements - there is also the replacement inside the link: href="/w/index.php/Special:RecentChanges#\x1B000000"

This is the fake link marker that we contrived to get inserted. Unlike the normal link markers, this is inside an attribute. The replacement text assumes it is being inserted as normal HTML, not as an attribute. Since it is a full link that also has quotes inside it, the two layers of quotes will interfere with each other.

Once the replacements happen we get the following mangled HTML for our proof of concept:

<a href="/w/index.php/Special:RecentChanges#<a href="/w/index.php/Test#/autofocus/onfocus=alert(&quot;xss\n&quot;+document.domain)//" title="Test">link2</a>" title="Special:RecentChanges">link1</a> <a href="/w/index.php/Test#/autofocus/onfocus=alert(&quot;xss\n&quot;+document.domain)//" title="Test">link2</a>

This obviously looks wrong, but its a bit unclear how browsers interpret it. A little known fact about HTML - /'s can separate attributes so long as no equal signs have been encountered yet. After the browser hits the second " mark, it thinks the href attribute is closed and that the remaing is some additional attributes. The browser essentially parses the above html as if it was:

<a href="/w/index.php/Special:RecentChanges#<a href=" w="" index.php="" Test#="" autofocus onfocus="alert(&quot;xss\n&quot;+document.domain)//&quot;" title="Test">link2</a>" title="Special:RecentChanges"&gt;link1</a> <a href="/w/index.php/Test#/autofocus/onfocus=alert(&quot;xss\n&quot;+document.domain)//" title="Test">link2</a>

In other words, an <a> tag, that has an attribute named autofocus and an onfocus event handler. On page load, the link is automatically focused, which triggers the javascript in the onfocus attribute to run, allowing the attacker to do what they want.

Take aways

I think the major take aways is that running Regexes over partially parsed HTML is always scary. We've had similar issues in the past, for example T110143.

The general pattern we've used to fix this and similar issues, is make sure the replacement token has special characters that would be mangled if it appeared in an unexpected context. Concretely, we added " and ' to the token, which would get escaped if placed in an attribute, and thus no longer matching and no longer being replaced.

More generally though, I think this is a good example of why even a minimal CSP policy would be helpful.

CSP is a complex standard, that can do a lot of things and has a lot of pieces. One of the things it can do, is disable "unsafe-inline" javascript. This means javascript from attributes (like onfocus) and javascript URLs. Usually this also includes inline <script> tags without a nonce, but that part is optional. A key point here, is this also generally means you cannot execute javascript via .innerHTML anymore, which is a fairly common vector for XSS via javascript.

Normally disabling unsafe-inline would be part of a broader effort to secure javascript, however its possible to take things a step at a time. This vulnerability would have been stopped just by disabling event attributes. A surprising portion of MediaWiki & extension XSS vulns [Excluding boring - an admin can change something in an unsafe way issues] involve just html attributes (or javascript: urls), which is a web feature that nobody really needs for legit reasons and is generally considered bad practise in normal usage. Even the most minimal CSP policy might really help MediaWiki's overall security posture against XSS vulns.

For more info about the vulnerability, please see the original report at

Ramblings on iron and steel

Wednesday, 8 May 2024 08:02 UTC

In the last few weeks I have stumbled on various little bits during Wikipedia edits that I thought were worthy of airing! One of them was a re-realization of the boon and the curse of iron and steel. It starts with something I heard a few years ago by economist Sashi Sivramkrishna and others who were following the trail of Buchanan Hamilton in Mysore (listen to the talk here) and they were apparently impressed by the impact of iron production particularly on the destruction of forests in southern India. And last week I found a Wikipedia entry that someone from Parangipettai had written as a draft and which had been left languishing. I went and ensured that it got moved from a draft version to a mainspace entry - it was on the Porto Novo Iron Works, one of the first large-scale iron smelting enterprises in India. The venture, started by a J.M. Heath, did not last long, one of the big factors being the lack of coal for smelting, and he had to make do with charcoal. In a few years, he ran out of charcoal, after depleting the forests of several districts nearby, and the factory had to move to the west coast near Calicut (Beypore). The first director general of forests Dietrich Brandis also noted the role of iron smelting in deforestation. 

Now to Josiah Heath, who is a real character and it is quite a surprise to see that the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography does not even have an entry for him, and there appears to be no available photograph of him (at least online). Heath sent out skins of various animals to the Zoological Society of London and there is a species of bat named after him. More interestingly it seem the fishing cat was described based on a specimen that he sent from India - which it would appear from all likelihood to have come from the Parangipettai region - more likely Pichavaram (wonder if the species still exists there). He also collected a specimen of a Eurasian Griffon Vulture from the same region. Heath apparently was impressed by traditional ukku (better known as Wootz steel) steel-making near Salem where he was initially posted and he seems to have discovered an important factor which he patented. It involved the use of carbon and manganese and he made money initially by distributing packets of his mixture - and later made the mistake of giving its composition. The steel makers of Sheffield, England quickly started using his technique and decided not to pay him any royalty - and he died in poverty. Of course today we could ask whether he actually stole the idea from traditional Indian blacksmiths and whether it could have been patented at all in the first place or of the numerous other injustices involved in all of this. 

Herr Meves
In another Wikipedia-related iron-connection, I found a little-known ornithologist who now has a Wikipedia entry (Wilhelm Meves). Meves was a German pharmacist turned ornithologist - and he decided to treat the brown feathers of lammergeiers with hydrochloric acid and tested them for iron and found that the colour was largely due to iron oxide. He found that this coating was on the outer surface and that the inside of the feathers was largely iron free. He suggested that the birds were bathing in iron-rich waters. Meves worked in Stockholm and mostly wrote in German but some of his findings made their way into the Ibis in English - thanks to John Wolley. And it seems both T.C. Jerdon and A.O. Hume were careful readers of Meves' works. Jerdon was aware of the bleating sound of snipes being produced by air-flow induced vibrations of the outermost tail feather. And Hume even repeated Meves' chemical analysis on his lammergeier specimens from Shimla and confirmed the presence of iron. Hume however noted that neither he nor any of his "intelligent native sportsmen" had ever seen a lammergeier bathe in water and suggested that the red staining may be derived from the blood of dead animals. Hume's original text (emphasis mine):

In the Ibis for 1862, it is mentioned that Herr Meves had, by a simple chemical test, ascertained the red colouring in this bird’s feathers, as also the rustiness observable at times in the feathers of the common Crane, (Grus Cinerea) to be due to a superficial deposit of oxide of iron ; as also, that the colouring matter on the eggs, arose from the same cause. Herr Meves suggested, that the stain on the feathers might be owing to the birds bathing in water containing iron in solution; but my belief is, that the Lammergeyer is a very dirty bird, (it swarms with vermin to such a degree, that cats and the like will seldom touch it when dead,) and never washes! I have been watching this bird, off and on, for the last twenty years, and I have never yet seen it bathe ; nor have I ever yet met with any one, amongst the numerous intelligent native sportsmen whom I have had to do with in the Himalayahs, who has witnessed such an operation. Certainly iron does enter into the composition of the colouring matter of the feathers, (I have tested it myself) as also into the red colouring on Neophron’s and kite’s eggs, but my idea is, that in both cases the iron is derived from the blood, and not from any ferruginous streams. Many birds, notably the grey goose and the common teal, very often have the feathers of the lower parts strongly tinged with rusty, and here too an oxide of iron enters into the composition of the colouring matter. How it gets there, is a question well worthy of investigation.

Anyway, it seems that India's large iron-deposits have a habit of lying in regions rich in biodiversity and ethnic diversity often on ancient tribal lands. It is little wonder that the steel industry barons are involved in disempowering tribal peoples or paying governments to water down environmental laws. I was truly surprised by the amount of work from around the world on related topics.

Someday I ought to visit Parangipettai and Pichavaram!