Embed Wikimedia 0.2.0

09:08, Friday, 18 2019 October UTC

I’ve released another beta version of Embed Wikimedia, with support for three blocks for the WordPress block-editor (Commons, Wikipedia, and Wikidata). There’s still work to be done on their interfaces, but before tackling that I want to sort out support for captions from Structured Data on Commons. There’s a few other bugs too (and I’m sure I’ll write more before I’m done).

The annoying thing about blocks, I’m finding, is that I still write a fair bit with the Android WordPress editor, and so still do old-fashioned embeds where they’re just a bare URL on its own line. I feel like the blocks get away from that simplicity (although, internally, so far they’re exactly the same functionality).

Introducing Phatality

10:08, Thursday, 17 2019 October UTC


This past week marks the release of a little tool that I've been working on for a while. In fact, it's something I've wanted to build for more than a year. But before I tell you about the solution, I need to describe the problem that I set out to solve.


Production errors are tracked with the tag Wikimedia-production-error. As a member of the Release-Engineering-Team, I've spent a significant amount of time copying details from Kibana log entries and pasting into the Production Error Report form here in Phabricator. There are several of us who do this on a regular basis, including most of my team and several others as well. I don't know precisely how much time is spent on error reporting but at least a handful of people are going through this process several times each week.

This is what lead to the idea for rPHAT Phatality: I recognized immediately that if I could streamline the process and save even a few seconds each time, the aggregate time savings could really add up quickly.


So after considering a few ways in which the process could be automated or otherwise streamlined, I finally focused on what seemed like the most practical: build a Kibana plugin that will format the log details and send them over to Phabricator, eliminating the tedious series of copy/paste operations.

Phatality has a couple of other tricks up it's sleeve but the essence of it is just that: capture all of the pertinent details from a single log message in Kibana and send it to Phabricator all at once with the click of a button in Kibana.

Phatality screenshot showing the submit and search buttons

Clicking the [Submit] button, as seen in the above screenshot, will take you to the phabricator Production Error form with all of the details pre-filled and ready to submit:


Now that Phatality is deployed to production and a few of us have had a chance to use it to submit error reports, I can say that I definitely think it was a worthwhile effort. The Kibana plugin wasn't terribly difficult to write, and thanks to @fgiunchedi's help, the deployment went fairly smoothly. Phatality definitely streamlines the reporting process, saving several clicks each time and ensuring accuracy in the details that get sent to Phabricator. In a future version of the tool I plan to add more features such as duplicate detection to help avoid duplicate submissions.

If you use Wikimedia's Kibana to report errors in Phabricator then I encourage you to look for the Phatality tab in the log details section and save some clicks!

What other repetitive tasks are ripe for automation? I'd love to hear suggestions and ideas in the comments.

Widening Wikidata’s impact

18:55, Wednesday, 16 2019 October UTC
Wikidata Program Manager Will Kent

In the summer of 2019, Wiki Education started a new course under the umbrella of the Scholars & Scientists Program all about Wikidata. Similar to our Wikipedia offerings in that program, our Wikidata course trains subject matter experts on Wikidata fundamentals and encourages them to contribute to Wikidata in a structured online synchronous six-week course. We ran two courses from July to August 2019. We also ran a one-off, day-long Wikidata workshop in New York City in July 2019 to test out an in-person model of this curriculum.

We just published an in-depth report that walks through how we built this course. In it, we include planning details, notes on curriculum development, our revenue model, as well as an analysis of our participants’ contributions to Wikidata. We explore some ways we could improve the program in the future and welcome any additional feedback you may have.

A total of 38 people participated in these courses and workshop. Although the majority of the participants came from libraries, we also trained participants from a company, museums, and Wikimedia-Switzerland. Participants created over 200 new items, made over 3,000 edits, and added over 300 descriptions to items. We also had one participant merge over 400 items. This demonstrates the impact that bringing subject specialists to Wikidata can have. Linked data requires knowledge of data modeling, understanding relationships, and being open to using queries and data visualization to understand impact. This group of information professionals showed how their expertise can benefit Wikidata in six short weeks. Some contributions we are particular proud of include:

We had a participant create a new property: Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America ID, which is now in use with almost 100 items. We had another start an engaging discussion about how to express the concept of “exoneration” on Wikidata. These kinds of conversations could have a lasting impact on their respective disciplines on Wikidata. This level of engagement on Wikidata demonstrates a level of understanding not only how Wikidata works, but also what the community could benefit from. Ontological development of Wikidata impacts query quality, data quality, and the overall usefulness of Wikidata to its users. Having participants contribute at this level of engagement is a noteworthy achievement.

This is why we think this course is so meaningful to improving Wikidata items, properties, and values. Our report makes it clear that we would not have been able to develop a course like this if it weren’t for the support of the Wikidata community. We believe detailed evaluation reports like this are an important part of growing the Wikimedia movement. We hope that our commitment to documenting our planning, processes, and results will benefit others in the Wikimedia movement.

Thanks to Wikidata Expert Ian Ramjohn, Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald, and Outreach & Communications Associate Cassidy Villeneuve for their input on the report. I will also be attending Wikidata Con 2019 in Berlin as well as Wiki Conference North America later this fall and would love to talk more about this program.

Click here to read our evaluation report. For more information about our current Wikidata courses, visit data.wikiedu.org.

We are pleased to announce a new $1 million gift to the Wikimedia Endowment from Amazon to support greater access to information for everyone. This is Amazon’s second gift to the Wikimedia Endowment, a permanent fund dedicated to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects.

When Wikipedia was created in 2001, we made a commitment to grow the quantity and quality of knowledge available worldwide, evolve to meet new demands, and secure our place as a worldwide forum for free knowledge. Many companies use our open content to make their work better and drive their financial goals. We encourage consistent, commensurate support from these organizations to help sustain WIkipedia for the long term.

“We are grateful to Amazon for its continued collaboration and support in ensuring access to information and free and open knowledge, for today and tomorrow’s generations,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.

Since the launch of the Endowment in January 2016, the campaign has raised over $42 million from generous individuals, foundations, and corporations. Amazon’s support provides additional momentum to the Wikimedia Endowment campaign and to our belief that free knowledge must be safeguarded and available to anyone, anywhere. Through its enduring support, Amazon is helping us come closer to ensuring that Wikipedia and free knowledge remain available without restriction for generations to come.

“This gift signals Amazon’s commitment to ensuring Wikipedia will continue to thrive for years to come,” said Lisa Seitz Gruwell, Wikimedia’s Chief Advancement Officer. “We’re thrilled to see Amazon continue to invest in the long-term vision where every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”

To learn more about how you can support the Wikimedia Endowment, please visit www.wikimediaendowment.org or email endowment@wikimedia.org.

Kaitlin Thaney, Endowment Director
Wikimedia Foundation

Tech News issue #42, 2019 (October 14, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 14 2019 October UTC
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weeklyOSM 481

10:14, Sunday, 13 2019 October UTC


lead picture

An eulogy for Mapquest 1 | © Mapquest © Mapbox – Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors


  • Richard Fairhust points out, on the talk mailing list, that most EuroVelo routes are very out-of-date.
  • Toy libraries have been mapped in a very limited way on OSM for several years. Now a proposal to formalise the usage has been made. In the discussion on the tagging list a plea is made to ensure that libraries with facilities for children with disabilities are appropriately tagged.
  • Carlos Brys described the work of the local community following the government of Paraguay’s decision to create 10 new national routes and redefine the existing road network.
  • Where rendering is not (yet) prepared for extensive micromapping, here natural=cliff, it will lead to conflicts (automatic translation).
  • The author of the app GPSLogger, an open-source Android GPS tracker, blogged about his mapping activities during a holiday at Marmari on the Greek island Evia.
  • The voting for traffic_calming=dynamic_bump, intended for the new type of dynamic traffic calming, whose impact depends on the driver’s speed, has started.
  • The question about “structural separation” of roads and their representation as single separated ways in OSM led to a fierce discussion in the forum (de), in a changeset comment (de) and an error note (de). As at time of writing , the discussion, which resurfaces regularly (de), has not led to agreement or other consequences but spilled over to the tagging mailing list.


  • On talk-at the user PPete drew attention (automatic translation) to a changeset in which relation polygons of districts and municipalities in Tyrol and Voralberg were extended with the additional terms “municipality” and “district”. This led to a partly heated discussion and shows that there is currently no consensus. It also showed that the problems are dealt with differently in each country.
  • Habr.com/ru interviewed (automatic translation) Natalya Kozlovskaya. She explains how she came to OSM, suggests why so few women in Russia are active in OSM and tells, at the end, a funny story about the difference between mapping in winter and summer. 😉


  • Russ Phillips asked for the opinion of the local community on the possibility of an import of UK postcode data. As the data in question represent just a mathematically calculated centrepoint for each postcode, he received a lot of opposition.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

  • The minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Working Group on 12 September 2019 have been published. The topics were the Attribution Guideline, a guideline for machine learning with OSM data and a data leak from the iD editor that passes user data to Facebook.
  • The OSM Foundation Scholarship program for 2019 supported 22 scholars from around the world to travel and participate in the State of the Map 2019 in Heidelberg. You can read the Write-Ups about their experiences at this conference and view videos of presentations by some of them.


  • Christoph Hanser invites mappers to the first “Trufithon” (Trufi Hackathon), a mapathon to collect data for and work on the Trufi app, an app for public transport and informal traffic for Cochabamba, Bolivia.
  • If you ever wondered who is who at weekly/hebdo/semanal/semanario/… Betaslb published two photos taken at SotM2019 with the weeklyOSM editors.
  • The 36C3 or 36th Chaos Communication Congress (automatic translation) will take place from 27 to 30 December 2019 in Leipzig, Germany. A space at the Open Infrastructur Orbit is offered to OSM, so volunteers to represent OSM there for the 11th year in a row are welcome. Join the thread (de) in the German forum if you are interested.
  • The FOSSGIS, besides being the meeting for open geodata and software, is Germany’s main local OSM event. It will take place from 11 to 14 March 2020 and has started the Call for Papers (automatic translation).

Humanitarian OSM

  • Felix Delattre informs us about the development progress of the new HOT Tasking Manager and lays out the current roll-out plan.
  • MapSwipe, a mobile app used since 2015 in the humanitarian area for identification of settled places, has introduced two new functions as HOT and MissingMaps have reported. Volunteers can indicate where buildings are inaccurate or of low-quality and a rework in OSM is required following changes on the ground .
  • The USA independent media NPR featured an article from the freelance journalist Joanne Lu about the critical role of OpenStreetMap for the Hurricane Dorian response in Bahamas. The journalist also presented the vision of the Missing Maps Project to support OpenStreetMap before disasters arise. She was pleased to have rapidly mapped buildings and expected experienced contributors to come later and make corrections.


  • [1] Greg Sterling has written a eulogy for Mapquest, which still exists but nobody knows, and what a competitor’s search engine has to do with the decline. Some enterprises can take the correct use of (C) as an example of good behaviour.


  • The Scandinavian gaming website IGN Nordic provides some insight about the upcoming augmented reality game Minecraft Earth. The map in the game is based on OpenStreetMap. Minecraft’s creative director recommends that players join OSM for editing, something that people with Pokémon GO in mind may hear with mixed feelings. The Guardian featured Minecraft Earth in article titled “Minecraft Earth is coming – it will change the way you see your town” and included three sections about OSM.
  • Syna, the network subsidiary of Süwag Energie AG, is providing a new (automatic translation) fault portal through which citizens and municipalities can report faults in street lighting. Until now, the online fault report was just a form. The portal (de) is based on the GIS of Syna; OpenStreetMap is used as background map.


  • MapTiler reports that Vector tiles from #OpenStreetMap in Rijksdriehoekstelsel coordinate system using the latest @OpenLayers v6 are ready to use.


  • With the release of 15390 JOSM has reached stable version 19.09. The new version makes layer handling easier by displaying the layer number, hence, allowing toggling between layers using shortcuts. The new version also includes a lot more medium and minor enhancements.
  • After approximately one year, the open-source relational database management system PostgreSQL has been upgraded to version 12. The new features include: improved performance, particularly of partitioned tables and index rebuilding, additional new functions, such as the SQL / JSONPATH-functions, optimisations of specific queries, and many more.

Did you know …

  • … of the list of OSM-related Telegram-Groups? If you notice a group is missing, feel invited to add it to the wiki.
  • … Martijn van Exel announced that there is a Machine Learning wiki page on the OSM wiki. Machine Learning (ML) is something that is often seen sceptically, for quality reasons as well as from a community building perspective. However, the increased transparency about ML activity in the OSM environment is welcome.
  • … about the Wiki pages with Overpass_turbo examples and Overpass_API examples?

OSM in the media

  • The Austrian Alpine Club compares the four map types: OpenStreetMap, Outdooractive, Topo-Maps and the Alpenvereinskarte/Alpine Club Map used on alpenvereinaktiv.com in the latest issue of Bergauf. You can find it on page 22 of the printed edition, in the version for online browsing (de) or the PDF edition (de).

Other “geo” things

  • Emina Demiri-Watson pointed to an article about the efforts of the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to employ satellite data to identify and map disease outbreaks among ash and oak trees.
  • Owen Boswarva reports that a tweet of his concerning an open-source equivalent of What3Words has been removed by Twitter at the request of W3W’s lawyers.
  • Jack Cornish, who describes himself as an Artist-Walker with the goal to walk 2019 miles (3,249 km) in 2019, including every street in London, provided an update on his recent activity.
  • A drone equipped with CrocSpotter AI algorithm has streamed a live video in which it seeks to and identifies crocodiles with 93% accuracy with a latency of under one second.
  • A new tutorial for the 3DGeo’s LiDAR simulation software HELIOS has been posted to the GIScience repository’s wiki page.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
San José Civic Hack & Map Night 2019-10-10 united states
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2019-10-10 france
Bochum Mappertreffen 2019-10-10 germany
Berlin 136. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2019-10-11 germany
Zurich 110. Zürcher Stammtisch 2019-10-11 switzerland
Grenoble Village des sciences sur le campus de l’UGA [1] 2019-10-11-2019-10-12 france
Pilsen Missing maps Hackathon Pilsen / Hackathon s Lékaři bez hranic 2019-10-11-2019-10-13 czech republic
Berlin Berlin Hack Weekend Oktober 2019 2019-10-12-2019-10-13 germany
Greater Manchester Joy Diversion 8 2019-10-12 united kingdom
Santa Fe State of the Map Argentina 2019 2019-10-12 argentina
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-10-14 france
Grenoble Rencontre mensuelle 2019-10-14 france
Taipei OSM x Wikidata #9 2019-10-14 taiwan
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2019-10-15 germany
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2019-10-15 germany
Viersen OSM Stammtisch Viersen 2019-10-15 germany
Arlon Espace public numérique d’Arlon – Formation Contribuer à OpenStreetMap 2019-10-16 belgium
Berlin Missing Maps Mapathon – Putting the Wolds’s Vulnerable People on the Map 2019-10-17 germany
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend 2019-10-19-2019-10-20 germany
Nottingham Nottingham pub meetup 2019-10-22 united kingdom
Žilina Missing Maps Mapathon Žilina #6 2019-10-22 slovakia
Arlon Espace public numérique d’Arlon – Formation Les itinéraires balisés et OpenStreetMap 2019-10-23 belgium
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2019-10-24 germany
Prizren State of the Map Southeast Europe 2019-10-25-2019-10-27 kosovo
Rapperswil 11. Micro Mapping Party Rapperswil (OpenStreetMap Mapathon) 2019-10-25 switzerland
Yosano-chō 京都!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第13回 ちりめん街道 2019-10-27 japan
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2019-10-28 germany
Düsseldorf Stammtisch 2019-10-30 germany
Dhaka State of the Map Asia 2019 2019-11-01-2019-11-02 bangladesh
Brno State of the Map CZ+SK 2019 2019-11-02-2019-11-03 czech republic
Wellington FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019 2019-11-12-2019-11-15 new zealand
Encarnación State of the Map Latam 2019 2019-11-14 paraguay
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast
Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, NunoMASAzevedo, PierZen, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, Sammyhawkrad, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred, geologist.

Introducing our newest Wikidata enthusiasts

22:17, Friday, 11 2019 October UTC

Our next round of Wikidata courses is underway!

After the successes of our first two Wikidata courses from this past summer, we were eager to dive back in and start working with a new set of linked data enthusiasts.

As a reminder, our six-week courses explore Wikidata policy, editing best practices, and offer participants an opportunity to connect with and join the Wikidata community. This course has strong representation from world-class art museums, an Irish university library, a seasoned Wikipedian, and several other experts in their respective fields. We are looking forward to seeing the impact they will make on Wikidata at their institutions. Learn more below!

  • Josh Andrews is the Website Product Manager at the Art Institute of Chicago. He is hoping to better understand Wikidata to integrate the Art Institute’s collection of 109,000+ works into Wikidata.
  • Siobhan Bowman is the Senior Library Assistant at the University College Cork. Her work at the library has led her to be interested in building a project linking Wikidata items/citations to the open access research material archived in her university’s institutional repository. She brings editing experience from both Wikipedia and Wikidata into this course.
  • Linda Fletcher is an experienced Wikipedian, having edited for the past four years. She continues to be an active editor on Wikipedia and is eager to learn about how Wikidata can better support Wikipedia.
  • Ian Gill is a Documentation Associate at SFMOMA. He brings a background of art history and museum studies, with an emphasis in collections management, registration, and database management to the program. He is looking forward to learning how to become a regular contributor to Wikidata.
  • Ryan McGrady is the Scholars and Scientists Program Manager at Wiki Education. He has years of experience as an editor and contributor on both Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. He’s taking this course to learn the inner workings of Wikidata and how he can better integrate Wikidata into his course offerings and editing.
  • Marla Misunas is the Collections Information Manager at SFMOMA. She manages the online collection and other methods of distribution. There are gaps in many records about artists; her research in this area has inspired her to learning how to mine Wikidata to enhance SFMOMA’s collection.
  • Layna White is the Director of Collections at SFMOMA. Although she is new to Wikidata, she understands the impact that linked data is having on collections and is looking forward to learning more about it.
  • Meredith Wisner is the Research and Instruction Librarian of Art and Architecture at Barnard College. She is interested in open access, Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool, and intellectual property. From this course she is looking to expanding her understanding of Wikidata to include data from Wikidata in her work. As a Wikipedian at Barnard she fields many questions about Wikidata and is eager to improve her understand of the constellation of Wikidata applications.

You can follow their work on our Dashboard.

Registration for our upcoming October/November courses is open until October 14th! Visit data.wikiedu.org for our beginner and intermediate options. 

Header image by Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

What ecologists and Wikipedians actually have in common

17:28, Friday, 11 2019 October UTC

“Hi, how are you? Do you want to learn about Wikipedia and education?”

It may be pretty simple, sure, but that’s the phrase I said over and over at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting. As it turns out, many people did want to learn more. I spoke to biogeochemists, dendrologists, and limnologists, graduate students, post-docs, and professors. I told them about our free resources that instructors use to teach and empower students how to edit Wikipedia. I explained the benefits of such a task.

Many were taken aback by this. “Wait, you want students to use Wikipedia?” or “But I’ve always told students that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source!”

Wikipedia shouldn’t be considered an academic source, we know. Just like other encyclopedias, it’s a tertiary source. But reliability on Wikipedia is a much bigger conversation than simply telling students, “Don’t trust it.” The site is built on a system of verifiability. And by teaching your students how to improve content, I’d say, you would help them become more information literate. Students can help distinguish fact from half-truths and fill in content gaps. Not only would you get to achieve your education goals outlined on the syllabus, but the whole world—no exaggeration—would get to benefit from the result.

I led a bird researcher to the very incomplete article on “gray vireo”. I found articles on genera of invasive bamboo. And I showed these experts the thousands of views these topics received each month. Oftentimes, they would find errors or omissions within the first few sentences, illustrating the need Wikipedia has for editors with diverse scientific backgrounds.

With our special emphasis on improving coverage of the sciences on Wikipedia, Wiki Education has helped teach nearly 23,000 science students how to add content to Wikipedia, resulting in 20.4 million words. However, there’s still more to be done. By attending conferences such as ESA, we get to have hundreds of conversations and interactions with scientists, bringing in new voices that will shape the way the public understands science.

To access our free assignment templates, tools, and student trainings, visit teach.wikiedu.org.

Header image by Thompsma, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In Changes and improvements to PHPUnit testing in MediaWiki, I wrote about efforts to help speed up PHPUnit code coverage generation for local development.[0] While this improves code coverage generation time for local development, it could be better.

As the Manual:PHP unit testing/Code coverage page advises, adjusting the whitelist in the PHPUnit XML configuration can speed things up dramatically. The problem is, adjusting that file is a manual process and a little cumbersome, so I usually didn't do it. And then because code coverage generation reports were slow locally[1], I ended up not running them while working on a patch. True, you will get feedback on code coverage metrics from CI, but it would be nicer if you could quickly get this information in your local environment first.

This was the motivation to add a Composer script in MediaWiki core that will help you adjust the PHPUnit coverage whitelist quickly while you're working on a patch for an extension or skin.

You can run it with composer phpunit:coverage-edit -- extensions/$EXT_NAME, e.g. composer phpunit:coverage-edit -- extensions/GrowthExperiments.

The ComposerPhpunitXmlCoverageEdit.php script copies the phpunit.xml.dist file to phpunit.xml (not version controlled), and modifies the whitelist to add directories for that extension/skin. vendor/bin/phpunit then reads phpunit.xml instead of the phpunit.xml.dist file. Tip: Make sure "Edit configurations" in your IDE (PhpStorm in my case) is using vendor/bin/phpunit and phpunit.xml, not phpunit.xml.dist, when executing the tests.

generating phpunit.xml and running code coverage in phpstorm

When you want to reset your configuration, you can rm phpunit.xml and vendor/bin/phpunit will read from phpunit.xml.dist again.

Further improvements to the script could include:

  • Reading the extension.json file to determine which directories to add to the whitelist, rather than using a hardcoded list (T235029)
  • Allow passing arbitrary directories/filenames, e.g. for working with subsections of core or of a larger extension (T235030)
  • Adding a flag for flipping the addUncoveredFilesFromWhitelist property, so that phpunit-suite-edit.py in the integration/config repo could be removed in favor of the Composer script (T235031)

Thanks to @Mainframe98 and @Krinkle for review of the patch and to @AnneT for reviewing this post. Happy hacking!

[0] One patch changed <whitelist addUncoveredFilesFromWhitelist="true"> to false to help speed up PHPUnit code coverage generation, the second patch flipped the flag back to true in CI for generating complete coverage reports.
[1] For GrowthExperiments, generating coverage reports without a customized whitelist takes ~17 seconds. With a custom whitelist, it takes ~1 second. While 17 seconds is arguably not a lot of time, the near-instant feedback with a customized whitelist means one is less likely to face interruptions to their flow or concentration while working on a patch.

What does it mean to have scientists of diverse identities represented in the largest, most-accessed encyclopedia worldwide?

It means…

  • scientists besides white men are historically recognized for their role in the advancement of STEM fields.
  • correcting the stereotype of “what a scientist looks like” (did you think man with a lab coat when I said that?).
  • road maps are made visible for youth who want to pursue STEM careers and yet often don’t see themselves represented in those fields.
  • increasing the public’s trust in scientists (a study this year has shown that putting a face to science garners more public trust).

Visibility is a powerful tool for good. So in honor of this year’s Ada Lovelace Day, we’re recognizing the ways in which our community has helped advance the visibility of women, women of color, and people of color in STEM fields by writing them into Wikipedia.

Students doing this work

Women have made valuable contributions to science and mathematics throughout the ages, but aren’t remembered in history as often or as accurately as their male colleagues. Students in Dr. Alexandra Edwards’ course at Georgia Tech wrote them back into the telling of that history this spring.

Dr. Rebecca Barnes‘ students are also chipping away at the gender disparity on Wikipedia by creating new biographies for living women scientists. They’ve created almost 90 so far and the number continues to grow each term. In a world where so many women in STEM don’t have a Wikipedia biography until they’ve been recognized in a huge way (Dr. Donna Strickland lacked one until she won the Nobel Prize), it was thrilling to see one of Dr. Barnes’ students had already created Dr. Andrea Dutton’s biography before she was named a MacArthur “Genius” grantee.

When students write biographies for underrepresented people in STEM, they affirm that diversity and inclusion in STEM matters. They’re also exposed to a variety of career paths that they could pursue.

Scientists and professionals doing this work

Wikipedia’s systemic gender gap problem isn’t simply a matter of missing biographies of women – it also shows up in the way that women are “contextualized” by presenting them in relation to the men in their personal and professional lives. In our professional development courses for scientists, participants are well equipped to make these nuanced corrections to existing biographies. Take Dr. Laura Hoopes, for example. In one of our Wikipedia writing courses, she made sure the biography for Dr. Jennifer Doudna noted her scientific contributions (specifically her work around the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system) without contextualizing her accomplishments in relation to men.

Another one of our Wiki Scientists improved the biography for Marie Tharp, which previously showed an image of Tharp with a male colleague who appeared to be showing her something on a map. While it appeared that the colleague was explaining something to her, in reality that map was of her own creation. The image reflected some other much needed changes in the article, primarily the fact that it focused on her career and early life, but not much about her scientific contributions. Now it’s better.

Image 1: Marie Tharp & Bruce Heezen, copyrighted. Image 2: The new image of Marie Tharp for her Wikipedia biography, copyrighted.

When scientists participate in our Wikipedia writing courses to create and improve these biographies, they understand how others in their field should be portrayed. Some participants have noted that participating in this work is like being a “counterbalancing force” against the inequities they face in their own career. Another noted that practicing Wikipedia’s philosophy of “being bold” and changing things that aren’t correct is great practice in fighting imposter syndrome. The act of editing Wikipedia builds confidence in one’s voice, while at the same time sets the record straight that these influential women in STEM belong in our cultural lexicon.

To access our support for instructors teaching Wikipedia writing assignments, visit teach.wikiedu.org. To learn Wikipedia editing yourself in one of our virtual courses, visit learn.wikiedu.org.

Header image in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s the last week to sign up for our upcoming linked data online courses! Dive into the world of Wikidata (the centralized, linked data repository for all Wikimedia projects) to better serve your community of users and your institution’s longevity.

“Contributing to Wikidata has a ripple effect. It’s a great way for institutions to contribute our resources to a wide variety of communities and meet users where they already are. It also presents opportunities to facilitate a community’s involvement in, design of, and creation of information.” – past course participant


Why Wikidata?

  • Digital assistants Alexa and Siri rely on Wikidata to answer user questions. Read more…
  • The ARL, IFLA, and the PCC have all pledged their support of improving. Find out why…
  • Here’s what a typical course looks like. Read more…

Beginning and intermediate courses

If you’re new to linked data practices and want to understand how you can best incorporate them into your work, check out our online course for beginners. If you’re already familiar with linked data (or Wikidata) and want a project-based course that explores more specific querying/visualization tools and approaches, take our intermediate online course.

In each of these six week courses, participants meet online once a week for an hour to learn how to use and contribute to Wikidata. Both courses begin the week of October 21st and run through the week of December 2nd (with no session the week of November 11th). Registration closes October 14th!


Privacy policy updated

17:59, Tuesday, 08 2019 October UTC

We’ve just updated the Wiki Education Privacy Policy. Like the last version, this one is adapted from the freely-licensed policy of Automattic, the company that makes the open source blogging software WordPress. We’ve based it on Automattic’s policy because they have a well-earned reputation for protecting users’ rights, along with the resources to cover their legal bases.

The new policy starts from a recent edition of the Automattic policy that, unlike our previous policy from 2016, was written with the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in mind. You might also have noticed a consent banner on your first visit to the Wiki Education Dashboard within the last few weeks, highlighting how we handle private information. While we don’t store very much private information, we want to be as transparent as possible with what we do keep and why.

If you’re the type of person who finds privacy policies interesting, we’d love to get your feedback on it. Let us know what you like or don’t like about it; we’re open to making further updates in the future:


This Month in GLAM: September 2019

17:33, Tuesday, 08 2019 October UTC
  • Colombia report: The GLAM team from Wikimedia Colombia in OpenConLatAm
  • Finland report: Photographs and events
  • France report: European Heritage Days
  • Indonesia report: Image donation by Indonesian Air Force
  • Italy report: Wikimedia Italia Summer School
  • Sweden report: Open cultural heritage; More libraries in Africa on Wikidata; Global MIL Week 2019 Feature Conference; Kulturhistoria som gymnasiearbete; Wiki Loves Monuments
  • UK report: Oxford, Khalili Collections and Endangered Archives
  • USA report: Hispanic Heritage and Disability Awareness Month
  • Special story: Help the Movement Learn about Content Campaigns & Supporting newcomers in Wikidata training courses!
  • Wikidata report: Tie a knot in your handkerchief
  • WMF GLAM report: GLAM Manager Role Announced!
  • Calendar: October’s GLAM events

Writing women back into tech history

20:16, Monday, 07 2019 October UTC

Have you heard about Virginia Tucker? She was one of the first “human computers” in space engineering history. What about Katheryn Emanuel Lawson? She was one of the first female African American chemists who worked in Sandia National Laboratories. Or how about Margaret Hilda Harper? She was “one of the two physicians who described that coeliac disease in the pancreas and cystic fibrosis were ‘distinct entities’ in the 1930s.” And don’t forget Evelyn Brower Man – she was one of the leading women “in developing the first test to detect hormone levels in the thyroid gland.”

Margaret Hilda Harper. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

What do these women have in common (besides being impressive contributors to the history of science)? None of them had Wikipedia biographies until this summer when Dr. Alexandra Edwards’ students at Georgia Institute of Technology wrote them!

When Wikipedia serves as the first stop for most people wanting to learn more about history, current events, and people across time, making sure the site represents a wide array of topics and a diversity of individuals is huge.

“Research illustrates that a sense of belonging is critical to success. Yet our history books and ‘books’ like Wikipedia (the 5th most visited website in the world) reflect a very white, very male centric view on everything – including science and scientists,” says Dr. Rebecca Barnes of Colorado College, another instructor in our program who has conducted Wikipedia assignments around biographies of women in STEM.

The power of a Wikipedia writing assignment is that students have the opportunity to correct that gender imbalance and set the record straight. Women have made valuable contributions to science and mathematics throughout the ages, but aren’t remembered in history as often or as accurately as their male colleagues. Let’s change that.

This Ada Lovelace Day (coming up on October 8th!), take the pledge to join these instructors and incorporate a Wikipedia writing assignment into your next courses. We have all the resources, assignment templates, and support you need for you and your students to be successful. Just visit teach.wikiedu.org to gain access.

Header image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tech News issue #41, 2019 (October 7, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 07 2019 October UTC
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Bahasa Indonesia • ‎Deutsch • ‎English • ‎français • ‎lietuvių • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎suomi • ‎svenska • ‎čeština • ‎Ελληνικά • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎עברית • ‎العربية • ‎中文 • ‎日本語 • ‎ꯃꯤꯇꯩ ꯂꯣꯟ

Rebecca R. Richards-Kortum

02:22, Saturday, 05 2019 October UTC
A text on the Internet read: "She’s Rice’s first-ever MacArthur grant winner. But her real claim to fame? Her clever medical inventions might just save your life." It is not as if I know her even though I added to her Wikidata item in the past .

I looked her up because she approves of the NEST360° organisation on Twitter. It is an organisation committed to reducing neonatal mortality in sub-Saharan hospitals by 50 percent.

Such organisations deserve a place in Wikidata, it has members I am adding. I consider it part of my "Africa project" even though it does not have a place there yet.

Yesterday I added an item for "neonatal care" and all the papers that are already included in Wikidata  about neonatal care need to be associated with the subject. Scientists like Prof Joy Lawn are to be marked for their specialty.

How is it possible that it takes a 60 year old white male from the Netherlands to add something this basic to Wikidata. We are talking about more yearly deaths than Ebola..

The face of Wikipedia’s volunteer community is often an editor—someone who maintains, edits, and writes facts in the vast online encyclopedia. But editors aren’t the only contributors to Wikipedia, WikiCommons, and the other Wikimedia projects: there are many other volunteers who contribute by organizing events and inspiring others to join our volunteer community. Their work, though not as overtly visible, is also incredibly important and vital to the growth of our movement.

Wikimedia organizers help recruit, train, support, and organize the community, and invite new contributors and allies, like librarians, educators, and activists, to fill gaps and create content in the projects. They also facilitate thousands of projects and events each year to introduce new contributors to Wikimedia, shaping the movement that supports Wikipedia and its sister projects in innumerable ways.

As the Wikimedia Foundation focuses on our movement’s strategic direction, we anticipate needing to know more about how to support and grow this community of organizers. When the strategic direction describes needing to invite allies, partners, and a more diverse set of communities into the movement, it also implies the Wikimedia movement needs more organizers to facilitate this work and organize new contributors.

During the first half of this calendar year, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Engagement and Product departments conducted a research project, called Movement Organizers.  We worked with the consultancy Concept Hatchery to produce design research materials like personas and research findings which will help both departments better design programs, technology and support structures for the growing community of organizers. We have now published the research, and you can find it from our portal on Meta-Wiki, in both Spanish and English.

Our research recommends that the movement pay attention to three key areas when supporting organizers: the organic path to organizing, the invited path, and the energy and motivations of organizers once they arrive.

Understanding movement organizers

The Movement Organizers research project tries to understand a globally diverse community that supports the Wikimedia movement. It was important to us that the research represent a broad range of different communities from different parts of the world, while also reflecting the unique challenges that some of our communities face. Therefore we interviewed 55 organizers, half of which were remote with members of our communities around the world, and half from deep local studies in Argentina and Ghana.

Despite organizers in Argentina, Ghana, and the rest of the world experiencing very different contextual and social conditions, many things remained consistent including the journeys organizers experience joining the community, the roles organizers play, the teams that organizers build around themselves, the tools they use, and challenges they face. This allowed us to both create design research materials that are both generically useful, but also pose questions and highlight conditions that support opportunities for organizers in different contexts.  Interviews in Ghana and Argentina also highlighted how complex social and cultural conditions create very locally specific variations on these broad trends.

After developing these shared definitions, frameworks and a number of more nuanced recommendations, we highlighted three broad principles for supporting organizers:

  1. Energize the existing Wikimedia community to organize by designing catalyzing experiences that encourage people towards committed organizing.
  2. Invest in building alignment with people outside the movement to increase the participation of invited Organizers.
  3. Retain Organizers by increasing motivation and decreasing challenges.

We think that by designing with these core principles in mind, the movement can grow our community of organizers and strengthen the capacity of the movement to organize and support communities. As Concept Hatchery’s Ana Chang observed after doing the research: “the organizers we met have built so much community with so little resources. With a little intentional support, we can stabilize and empower them to truly develop strong local communities for Wikimedia.”

Do you want to learn more? We recommend reading the research (in English or Spanish), and joining the discussion on Wikimedia Space!

Building on a foundation of design research

A fictional persona from our Spanish Language version of the Movement Organizers report. Personas help staff and community members create a mental image of who they are trying to support.

The Movement Organizers research follows on what the Wikimedia Foundation learned from two previous design research projects[1]: New Editor Experiences, focused on new editors to Wikimedia projects, and New Readers, focused on readers in markets not well supported by the Wikimedia movement. Both of these projects have informed the work of teams within the Wikimedia Foundation toward better supporting and informing new Wikipedia readers and new Wikipedia editors.

“When we talk with and learn from people in their context, in such a focused way, our work is more easily organized around the needs and motivations of those people and communities,” says Abbey Ripstra, a Lead Design Researcher at the Wikimedia Foundation. “This kind of research informs our teams and departments about what people need in order to access and contribute to free knowledge, and what we might do to better fulfill, or support those needs being fulfilled.”

Though the development of the New Readers, New Editors, and Movement Organizers research was largely unrelated, Ripstra sees an overarching pattern behind them. “We started with our biggest unknown audience (new readers), and it was a natural step to focus next on new editors. Now, we’re moving on to learning more about movement organizers, which is a smaller community that makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of the larger community.”

What can you do with the research?

The Wikimedia movement’s 2030 strategy process will soon be publishing recommendations that focus our collective effort on trying to reach our movement direction. This direction is ambitious: focused on becoming a central infrastructure for free and open knowledge. To make this audacious move, we, as a movement, need to design greater pathways and support structures for the organizers we have, and invite new organizers to strengthen our movement.

Because the research is foundational research, we expect different organizations and communities to be able to leverage or respond to it differently. For example, The Wikimedia Foundation’s Community Engagement department is pairing parts of the research with the finding from previous Community Capacity Development research, to build training and help organizers to better understand their own work in light of the larger movement. We are excited that the research also provides a common framework for Product and Community Engagement to design tools to support organizers. Additionally, we hope that groups throughout the movement will use this research to design their own support programs.

The research also prompts a number of questions about growing the movement to meet the strategic direction: by focusing on the organizers who have already joined our movement, we weren’t able to do deep research into the organizers who have not been invited to the movement, or have yet to have an opportunity to join the WIkimedia community.

If you are interested in learning more about the research, have questions, or would like help integrating the research into your own planning or design processes, please let us know on the Wikimedia Discuss Space or on Meta!

Alex Stinson, Senior Strategist, Community Programs, Community Engagement
Lauren Miranda, Project Manager, Community Engagement

[1] Design research is a practice based on observing, listening to, and learning from people in the contexts in which they live and work. Solutions to problems and addressing opportunities are more successful if they are designed around the goals and needs, challenges and accomplishments of the people being designed for.

Earlier this week Google commemorated psychiatrist and substance abuse researcher Dr Herbert Kleber with a Google Doodle by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and provided a rather sobering example of how technology reinforces systemic bias and structural inequality, and also how we can address it. 

Kleber is certainly worth celebrating, a quick glance at his Wikipedia page shows that he revolutionised approaches to theorising, researching and treating drug addiction, by rejecting punitive and moralistic approaches and focusing on scientific research into the causes and treatments of addiction.  Kleber’s Wikipedia page also records that he co-founded the Substance Abuse Division at Columbia University, with his wife Dr Marian Fischman.  Fishman was already a respected psychologist researching narcotics and addiction when she met and married Kleber in 1987 and they founded the Substance Abuse Center five years later in 1992.  However when Google published their doodle on 1st October, to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of Kleber’s election to the National Academy of Medicine, Fischman had no Wikipedia page of her own.  Indeed she didn’t even warrant a red link. I flagged this up on twitter to the fabulous Wiki Women In Red project, which aims to address Wikipedia’s gender gap by creating new biographical articles for women, and turning red links blue, and I’m delighted to say that Fischman had her own Wikipedia entry by the end of the day.  It’s still just a stub and could do with a lot more work, but at least it’s there and it’s a starting point. 

There are many more prominent women scholars, thinkers, researchers and scientists who are all too often relegated to the role of “wife” and who lack their own Wikipedia entries. If you’d like to help write entries for some of these women, the University of Edinburgh is running a Women in Engineering Wikipedia editathon as part of its Ada Lovelace Day events on Tuesday 8th October so why not come along and help us to record the achievements of some notable women.  You can find out more information and sign up for the Ada Lovelace Day events and editathon here: https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/ada-lovelace-day/ 

And who knows, maybe one day Marian Fischman will be celebrated by her own Google Doodle too. 

Dr Herbert Kleber Google Doodle by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of Amanda Keton as General Counsel. Amanda brings more than a decade of legal, nonprofit management, and compliance experience to the role. She will join the organization on 7 October.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by around 1.5 billion unique devices every month. The Wikimedia Foundation is driven by its vision of building a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

“Advocacy is a crucial part of our work in advancing free knowledge,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Now more than ever, we must recognize the urgency in fighting for policies and protections to make knowledge more open. Amanda’s extensive experience in advocacy and public policy, and her passion for fighting for equity and social change, make her an excellent fit to lead the advocacy work for our movement.”

As General Counsel, Amanda will work closely with the executive team to develop and build the organization in service of the future of our projects. She will advise the Executive Director on legal and policy matters and serve as Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. Amanda will direct the Foundation’s defensive litigation and public policy agenda around the world, while supporting and cultivating a diverse team of experts and leaders across the Legal department.

“I’m thrilled to join the Wikimedia movement and help bolster the work of its dedicated community,” Amanda said. “Increasing access to knowledge, defending our community and users, curbing surveillance and censorship, facilitating open policy discussions, and advocating for privacy are among the defining issues of our time. Wikimedia is poised to play a leading role in shaping them in collaboration with people everywhere who are driving forward our goal of free knowledge for all.”

Prior to joining Wikimedia, Amanda was General Counsel of Tides Network, a national public foundation deploying donor-advised grants and investments to build a world of shared prosperity and social justice. While in that role, she worked with the Wikimedia Foundation to establish the Wikimedia Endowment, a source of funding to support the Wikimedia projects and mission in perpetuity. She also served as Head of Tides Foundation and People Operations as well as CEO of Tides Advocacy, the policy affiliate in the Tides family of organizations.

Before her work at Tides, Amanda worked for Ernst & Young providing nonprofit organizations with consulting, advisory, and compliance services.

Amanda serves on the Network for Good Board, which supports companies and organizations to target, retain, and engage donors through a variety of services. She previously co-chaired the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center during a period when they tripled their affordable nonprofit rental space and co-located service providers to help the Center’s program participants thrive in San Francisco. She also formerly served on the Board of Directors for the ACLU of Northern California and Equal Rights Advocates.

Amanda completed a Master of Arts in Education while teaching middle school and wrote her thesis on why culturally and linguistically diverse students opt out of gifted and talented programs. Amanda is a member of the California State Bar and graduated with a Master of Laws in Taxation cum laude and Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. She is based in San Diego.

Production Excellence: August 2019

04:27, Thursday, 03 2019 October UTC

How’d we do in our strive for operational excellence in August? Read on to find out!

📊 Month in numbers
  • 3 documented incidents. [1]
  • 42 new Wikimedia-prod-error reports. [2]
  • 31 Wikimedia-prod-error reports closed. [3]
  • 210 currently open Wikimedia-prod-error reports in total. [4]

The number of recorded incidents in August, at three, was below average for the year so far. However, in previous years (2017-2018), August also has 2-3 incidents. – Explore this data.

To read more about these incidents, their investigations, and pending actionables; check Incident documentation § 2019.

*️⃣ When you have eliminated the impossible...

Reports from Logstash indicated that some user requests were aborted by a fatal PHP error from the MessageCache class. The user would be shown a generic system error page. The affected requests didn’t seem to have anything obvious in common, however. This made it difficult to diagnose.

MessageCache is responsible for fetching interface messages, such as the localised word “Edit” on the edit button. It calls a “load()” function and then tries to access the loaded information. However, sometimes the load function would claimed to have finished its work, but yet the information was not there.

When the load function initialises all the messages for a particular language, it keeps track of this, so as to not do the same a second time. From any one angle I could look at this code, no obvious mistakes stood out. A deeper investigation revealed that two unrelated changes (more than a year apart), each broke 1 assumption that was safe to break. But, put together, and this seemingly impossible problem emerges. Check out T208897#5373846 for the details of the investigation.

📉 Outstanding reports

Take a look at the workboard and look for tasks that might need your help. The workboard lists error reports, grouped by the month in which they were first observed.


Or help someone that’s already started with their patch:
Open prod-error tasks with a Patch-For-Review

Breakdown of recent months (past two weeks not included):

  • January: 1 report left (unchanged). ⚠️
  • February: 2 reports left (unchanged). ⚠️
  • March: 4 reports left (unchanged). ⚠️
  • April: 2 reports got fixed! (8 of 14 reports left). ❇️
  • May: 4 of 10 reports left (unchanged).
  • June: 1 report got fixed! (8 of 11 reports left). ❇️
  • July: 2 reports got fixed (17 of 18 reports left).
  • August: 14 new reports remain unsolved.
  • September: 11 new reports remain unsolved.

🎉 Thanks!

Thank you to @aaron, @Catrope, @Daimona, @dbarratt, @Jdforrester-WMF, @kostajh, @pmiazga, @Tarrow, @zeljkofilipin, and everyone else who helped by reporting, investigating, or resolving problems in Wikimedia production. Thanks!

Until next time,

– Timo Tijhof

🎭“I think you should call it Seb's because no one will come to a place called Chicken on a Stick.


[1] Incidents. – wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:PrefixIndex?prefix=Incident…

[2] Tasks created. – phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query…

[3] Tasks closed. – phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query…

[4] Open tasks. – phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/query…

Bringing the history of Arab cinema to Wikipedia

17:39, Tuesday, 01 2019 October UTC

Since its creation, film has long since been used to transmit stories, ideas, imagery, and feelings. An ethnologist or sociologist would also identify it as a cultural artifact, as film is ideal for both reflecting a given culture as well as impacting it. For some, film provides a rare chance to evade the censorship and control of their country, for others it is a way to make a statement on a topic near and dear to their heart. As such, it’s no surprise that Dr. Pamela Krayenbuhl’s students at the Northwestern University in Qatar chose to focus on the History of Film.

The cinema of the Middle East has no one form, structure, or style, as it encompasses films from all of the countries and cultures in the Arab world. In its inception, Arab cinema was mostly an imitation of Western cinema, however it has and continues to constantly change and evolve with the times. According to scholars such as Amal Elgamal, Egypt is especially a pioneer as it was able to create a sustained film industry at a time when other parts of the Arab world had only been able to sporadically produce feature-length films due to limited financing. Elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, film production was scarce until the late 1960s and early 1970s when filmmakers began to received funding and financial assistance from state organizations. This was during the post-independence and is when most Arab cinema took root. Most films produced at that time were funded by the state and contained a nationalistic dimension. These films helped to advance certain social causes such as independence and other social, economic, and political agendas.

Students in the class also took the time to create an article on the cinema of Qatar noting that it’s a relatively young industry that evolved as part of the country’s plans to develop different local sectors with the aim of accumulating international recognition and status. Many major steps were taken to implement a long-term plan to develop the infrastructure as well as give opportunities to local talents to have a platform that establishes their presence within the film industry with the support of the Doha Film Institute, and their various grants, workshops, and festivals.

Students and educators have a wealth of knowledge that’s surpassed only by their passion to learn and teach, two things that are incredibly well suited to the task of Wikipedia editing as an educational assignment. If you’re interested in taking part, visit teach.wikiedu.org to gain access to free tools, online trainings, and printed materials.

Header image in public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects form the largest collaborative collection of free knowledge – written in roughly 300 languages, and built by and for the world. At the Wikimedia Foundation, the U.S.-based nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia, we strive to reflect the communities we currently work with, and those we hope to work with in the future. With this in mind, diversity and inclusion are core to our mission. In order to build a diverse and inclusive environment, we prioritize impact rather than intention, contributions rather than culture fit, and equity rather than equality.

To help us understand our progress, we’re releasing our 2019 U.S. staff diversity data, as well as information about the gender diversity of professionals we work with outside of the United States. When we shared the Foundation’s workforce diversity data in August 2018 for the first time, we set a goal to focus our programs and initiatives on three values: consistency, transparency, and objectivity. We sought to do this in all parts of the employee lifecycle, including recruitment, onboarding, development, compensation, and promotions. We considered these three values to be a guiding light for the last fiscal year, which ran from July 2018 to June 2019.

With this annual report, our goal is to be transparent in our hiring and staffing efforts, objective in reflecting on our current and future initiatives, and consistent in our communication to our staff and broader community of people we work with about our efforts in diversity and inclusion.

Diversity data for U.S. staff[1]

The Wikimedia Foundation has grown significantly in the last fiscal year. In analyzing the data from fiscal year 2018–19 and comparing it to the data from the previous fiscal year, it’s clear that we are making strides in our hiring practices, but it’s also clear that we have more work to do.

Over the course of the 2018–19 fiscal year, 53% of new hires in the U.S. were women and 30% of new hires were Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Native American. Overall, our representation of women in the U.S. increased from 45% to 47%. Moreover, 41% of new hires in the U.S. for technical roles within the Foundation were women, 18% of which were women of color. We continue to have a higher representation of women than men in management and leadership roles, which is unique in comparison with other major technology organizations but is fairly consistent with nonprofit organizations.

While these numbers are representative of consistent progress, we also take note of the work that is ahead of us. The latest data shows that overall only 13% of Foundation employees in the United States are Asian, 8% are Hispanic/Latino, 7% are Black/African-American, 0.4% are Native American/Alaskan Natives, and 5% are multi-racial. Overall, these numbers show an increase in people of color based in the United States as compared to last year’s diversity report, but we still have significant room to improve.




Diversity data for global Wikimedia professionals

While the Wikimedia Foundation is headquartered in the U.S., our mission is global. As we continue to expand the number of people we work with based outside of the U.S., it is important that we continue to measure our progress in diversity in Wikimedia professionals globally.

The graph below covers our last four fiscal years, and illustrates a steady increase in the representation of women worldwide. These advancing numbers are an encouraging sign of progress, but there is still much work to be done in bringing more women into the organization and supporting their advancement. We’re unable to share global race and ethnicity information as collecting such information is not permitted in many countries.

Advancing an inclusive culture

Within the Foundation, we value seeking out the voices that are not currently represented, inviting differing perspectives, and celebrating what makes each of us unique. We’ve undertaken several efforts to advance a culture of inclusion and understand how we can continue to improve:

  • During the 2018–19 fiscal year, we achieved a key goal of revitalizing our employee resource groups (ERGs), with five active groups and counting. These spaces provide employees with leadership opportunities, time to connect with their peers, and a space to build community, both internally and externally. In the coming year, we will be sharing guidelines on how to create ERGs that we hope will inspire staff to create even more spaces for community and connection.
  • We also kicked off our internal Diversity & Inclusion Speaker Series. This program holds space for our staff to connect with experts and collaborators in various areas of diversity and inclusion work, whether it be in the workplace, academia, or through lived experience. The program has become a space for honest and raw conversations about social justice, equity, and belonging and we look forward to continuing with more opportunities for learning and connection.
  • Finally, we began working with Paradigm, a diversity and inclusion strategy firm. They conducted a full assessment of our employee lifecycle by analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, facilitating focus groups, evaluating our policies, and collaborating with us to create recommendations that will work for our environment. We are confident that their recommendations will enhance our culture of inclusion and enable us to more effectively embed diversity and inclusion throughout our processes and policies.


The strategy as we move forward

The Wikimedia Foundation has grown in recent years in order to better support the growing free knowledge movement. In alignment with the direction of the Foundation and a strategy that looks forward to the year 2030, our focus internally is with service and equity. To carry this out, our diversity and inclusion strategy over the coming months includes: the implementation of the recommendations from Paradigm, the creation of new partnerships with organizations that uphold models of equitable service to support shared learning, the continuation of our Diversity & Inclusion Speaker Series, and bringing on a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director. More broadly, we will be focusing on what equity and service means to us as an organization and how these themes can serve as a framework for our culture, including how we recruit new talent and make decisions across the organization.

While we still have work to do, our hope is that this report serves as an indication of where we are and where we’re going on this journey. When we began reporting our diversity and inclusion data last year, we recognized that this was just the beginning. We are always learning new terms, developing new techniques, and finding better ways to make our staff feel celebrated. Change doesn’t occur overnight, but we are dedicated to co-creating a thriving movement that incorporates diversity of thought, respect for all, and a framework where service, equity and liberation take the front seat.

Aubrey Williams, Diversity and Inclusion Program Associate, Talent and Culture
Wikimedia Foundation


[1] The diversity data for U.S. Foundation staff is from June 2019 and based on similar data that would be reported in the United States EEO-1 report and includes job category, gender, and race/ethnicity. When evaluating gender in this survey, the data is binary and does not accurately account for individuals who identify along a non-binary spectrum. The EEO-1 survey requires we provide information about Foundation employees based in the United States in each calendar year and does not reflect those we work with through third parties, whether based in the United States or in other countries. Categories are provided by the government, and self-reported by employees. It is important to note that United States law differs from that of many other countries in terms of personal information that must be reported, based in large part on the culture and history behind the laws that require seeking such information about U.S. employees. In contrast to the United States, many other countries prohibit obtaining or reporting information about race/ethnicity. We believe, however, that the United States data is still useful in helping us assess progress relating to overall organizational diversity.

When you watch a game, you want to know the score. When you have a favourite author, you want to know all his/her publications and when you hear about a place you want to know where it is. Easy.

Such data may be included in a repository like Wikidata and, in essence the data is still simple. You still want to know the score, the publications or the location, the question is how do you get the data in a format that makes sense.

People are really good at understanding data when it is in an agreeable format.. These are three format for the same data; a scientist in Wikidata. This is how Wikidata presents its data and imho the data is really hard to understand. This is the same data in Reasonator, it is a general purpose tool that shows data and its relations. It can be used for all kinds of data, it is my goto tool to get to grips with data related to one item. Finally Scholia presents data formatted in a way that makes sense for this scientist.

Given how awful the default presentation of Wikidata is, it is obvious why everyone teaching the use of Wikidata focuses on querying the data and therefore people seek/work on the results provided in what is their default tool. I typically focus on particular subjects, today it was Dr Shima Taheri, I added a reference, some publications and genders for her co-authors. To do this I am triggered by the presentation of the data in the tools I use.

The holy grail for Wikidata is the use of its data in Wikipedia info boxes. However, people are taught to query data and that approach does not align well with the data items you find in info boxes. So when the purpose of Wikidata is in Wikipedia info boxes, presentation needs to become a priority.

Monthly​ ​Report,​ August 2019

17:40, Monday, 30 2019 September UTC


  • Our longest-running Scholars & Scientists partnership has been with the National Archives and Records Administration. We just wrapped up the last two of the six  Scholars & Scientists courses we offered with NARA’s partnership. 
  • We created seven training modules that explore different aspects of Wikidata, including Evaluating Data on Wikidata, Adding to Wikidata, and how to Query Wikidata.
  • We confirmed an upcoming collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Several UMass Lowell faculty will join a Wiki Scholars course this fall to add and expand biographies of women to Wikipedia. After this 10-week intensive training about how Wikipedia works, participating faculty will design Wikipedia assignments for their students, joining Wiki Education’s Student Program in the following semesters.


Academics, other subject-matter experts, academic associations, universities, and Wikimedians from multiple parts of the world understand the value of bringing the most knowledgeable people to these public goods. That was one of the lessons Scholars & Scientists Program Manager Ryan McGrady learned when presenting about the program at Wikimania in Stockholm this month. Wikidata Program Manager Will Kent also presented — virtually — at Wikimania about how our program has engaged librarians to edit Wikidata. Outside of Ryan’s own session, he attended several other sessions focused on engaging experts. How to do so is a question Wikipedia has wrestled with since its inception in 2001, and we continue to believe the Scholars & Scientists model is a fantastic model to achieve that goal, demonstrated by some of the article improvements detailed below.

Ryan also joined program leaders globally who use the Program & Events Dashboard, an open version of our Dashboard software for others in the Wikimedia movement. The group presented about how they use the Dashboard and what features it offers program leaders.

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Fall 2019 in numbers, as of August 31:

  • 297 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (172, or 58%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 2,624 student editors were enrolled
  • 68% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules.
  • Students edited 44 articles, created 1 new entry, and added 24,300 words and 350 references.

The Fall 2019 term has begun for the majority of our courses, and students are beginning to learn that they’ll be doing something a bit different this fall. Despite the fact that Wikipedia is an integral part of the student experience today, few have ever contributed to the site or even realized they could do so. As the next few months unfold, they’ll realize that not only can they contribute, but that they can make a meaningful and lasting contribution.

As Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal was busy preparing for the Fall term, Wikipedia Experts were closing out our Summer courses. Though the summer is relatively quiet for us, around 700 students from 43 courses contributed 520,000 words to Wikipedia. While a fraction of what takes place during the Fall and Spring terms, we’re nonetheless extremely proud of this cohort of students and instructors.

Courses are continuing to roll in at a steady pace for Fall 2019, and we’re excited to see the great work that this group of students will do.

Student work highlights:

If you’ve spent time around the deli department at your local grocery store, you have likely seen pancetta for sale. A salumi made of pork belly meat that is salt cured, pancetta can be served as a cold cut or served as part of a dish. The production process takes a relatively long time, as the meat must brine for 10–14 days in a low temperature and high humidity environment and after further preparation, undergoes enzymatic reactions facilitated by exposure to a warm environment of 22-24℃ for 24 to 36 hours. It is simultaneously exposed to cold smokes for desirable colors and flavors and to prevent moulding. In the final portion of the process the smoked pork is held at 12-14℃ and 72-75% relative humidity for 3–4 weeks for drying. The resulting pancetta retains approximately 70% of its original weight. This August a University of British Columbia student in Judy Chan’s Exploring Our Food added more than 13,000 characters to the article, adding content on this food item that wasn’t there before, creating a more thorough article for readers.

Swimming through the water, what could it be? Is it a bass? An alligator? No, it’s a gar, an ancient holosteian order of ray-finned fish! A common addition to state aquariums and Animal Crossing games, there are seven different species of gar in two genera. The largest of these species is the alligator gar, so named because it was often mistaken as an alligator by locals. Adults can measure up to 10 feet long and weigh more than 300 pounds. Sadly, overfishing has made the gar extinct in some states. If you’re in Florida, you may mistake two different species of gar for one another; the spotted and Florida gar have a similar appearance. Other gar include the shortnose and longnose gar, which differ in more ways than nose length! They differ in not only their lifespans for male and female gars, but also length. Like its nose, the shortnose gar is far smaller than the longnose, which can reach up to 6 feet and 8 inches in length. Thanks to a student in Nicole Rosevear’s writing class at Clackamas Community College, the gar article now has this valuable information in it.

Continuing on the trend of expanded articles, the article on the Bodo cranium was expanded by several UC Berkeley students in Marianne Brasil and Catherine Taylor’s Human Biological Variation class this August. Discovered in the 70s, the Bodo cranium is a fossil of an extinct type of hominin species and was discovered along with Acheulean tools and animal fossils. Only a few of the tools were discovered near the skeleton, which was found in pieces during several surveys conducted by the Rift Valley Research Mission. The cranium has cuts that show the earliest evidence of removal of flesh immediately after the death of an individual using a stone tool and are believed to have been purposely done for either cannibalism purposes or polishing mortuary practices. Some researchers have also speculated that the de-fleshing was done in order to remove the mandible. The odd shape of the cranium has led to debates over its taxonomy and its exact location in the human evolutionary tree is still uncertain despite appearing to represent a lineage between Homo erectus and anatomically modern humans.

Menstruation is a natural part of life where individual experiences the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue (known as menses) from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The first period, or menarche, typically occurs between 12 and 15 years of age but can occur in females as young as 8 years old. There are many cultural, societal, and religious traditions and taboos, as some religions believe menstruating women to be impure and the discussion of menstruation is seen as a taboo subject in some countries. This can make it difficult for them to receive a thorough and proper education, particularly if they come from a disadvantaged group and/or a lower or middle income country that also lacks easy access to resources such as birth control and menstrual products. Due to the aforementioned taboos and traditions it’s hard for some to discuss the topic of menstruation but not so for UCSF students in Dorie Apollonio’s Foundations II class, as they were more than ready to tackle this topic on Wikipedia.

During this summer several students in multiple different courses chose to create new articles. One of these students was in Emily Ginier’s Improving Medical Communication Through Wikipedia class at the University of Michigan Medical School, who chose to create an article on Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD). This term describes a dysphonia caused by increased muscle tension of the muscles surrounding the voice box: the laryngeal and paralaryngeal muscles and is a unifying diagnosis for a previously poorly categorized disease process. This voice disorder typically occurs during middle age and its symptoms present as vocal changes such as a hoarse or breathy voice. Wikipedia’s readers now have more detailed information about the disorder.

Scholars & Scientists Program

This was a busy month for Wiki Scholars and Wiki Scientists contributing to public knowledge on Wikipedia and Wikidata. We wrapped up five courses altogether, with some excellent results.


August was a busy month for our new Wikidata program. Our two Wikidata courses that began in July wrapped up. In six short weeks, 23 participants made a big impact on Wikidata, editing more than 2,500 items. Coming from libraries, museum libraries, Wikimedia, and a research company, these participants brought a wide range of skills, needs, and questions to these courses. Each course was six weeks long, meeting an hour a week. One course was designed for participants who may be new to linked data while the other was more project-based, designed for participants with some familiarity with linked data.

We created seven training modules that explore different aspects of Wikidata, including Evaluating Data on Wikidata, Adding to Wikidata, and how to Query Wikidata. Our once a week meetings created an opportunity or participants to ask questions, clarify concepts, and test tools and processes. Each week built off the previous week to ensure that participants would be able to learn Wikidata policy and best editing practices before beginning to edit Wikidata. We did not assume any prior experience with Wikimedia projects so we were sure to spend time contextualizing the Wikidata community, explaining how to best work with others on this project.

Items like Archives de l’État de Neuchâtel (Q2860433) and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (Q50745528) demonstrate the grasp participants have on a wide range of properties and their usage on Wikidata. Having experts apply their skills to modeling these items will make them appear more accurately in queries. Improving the data quality of items on Wikidata will allow future editors to use the well-modeled items as templates and will allow for better representation on Wikidata.

Some quantitative conclusions demonstrate that there was significant enthusiasm around editing Wikidata. These 23 participants created 228 items, edited more than 2,500 items, and made more than 9,200 individual edits. You can follow this link to see more detailed statistics about these two courses. These results far exceed the requirement of editing five to seven items per person. We are also pleased to share that every single course participant edited Wikidata. Qualitatively, we had an approved property proposal for the Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America, P7128, an interesting discussion on post-conviction relief on Project Chat, as well as some newly-created queries (this one for labels exist in one language but not another). This level of engagement reflected well on the course participants but also underscored our thoughts that interest in Wikidata is at a tipping point and this is an exciting time to bring in new editors. Lastly, at least seven of the twenty-three participants have edited Wikidata since the end of the courses.

As we transition from summer to fall, we are excited to be offering more Wikidata courses starting in September and October.


Our longest-running Scholars & Scientists partnership has been with the National Archives and Records Administration. We first teamed up with them last fall to train academics, archivists, librarians, and independent researchers to improve Wikipedia articles about women’s suffrage in the United States. NARA was planning an exhibit, Rightfully Hers, which celebrates the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. They knew that when members of the public would visit the exhibit, anyone who wanted to learn more would likely turn to Wikipedia, so they understood the value of a focused program to target those articles. We began with a plan to run four courses. Interest was great enough and the impact high enough that we would up running six, the last two of which wrapped up this month. Here are just a few of the highlights from among the entries Scholars developed this month:

  • Nora Houston (1883-1942), painter, women’s right advocate, and suffragist from Virginia.
Nora Houston
Nora Houston
Dorothy Dix
  • Annie Heloise Abel (1873-1947), historian and suffragist who was among the earliest professional historians to study Native Americans.
  • Orra Henderson Moore Gray Langhorne (1841-1904), writer, reformer, and suffragist in Virginia.
  • Mary Johnston (1870-1936), novelist and suffragist from Virginia who was a popular author, including novels that served as the basis for three silent films.
  • Grace Wilbur Trout (1864-1955), suffragist who was president of two prominent Illinois suffrage organizations.
Grace Wilbur Trout
Grace Wilbur Trout

Another article created by a NARA Wiki Scholar was featured in the Did You Know section of Wikipedia’s Main Page this month with the following hook: “[Did You Know] … that when Virginia suffragist Anna Whitehead Bodeker was not allowed to cast a ballot in the 1871 municipal election in Richmond, she put a note in the ballot box claiming her right to vote?”

We also finished our first course with the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. Participants made improvements to a wide range of topics, including Florence Knoll, classical reception studies, Black Girl Magic, Maxine Greene, Great Lakes Theater, Vivian Yeiser Laramore, and Milicent Patrick.

One of the two courses we are running in connection with the Society of Family Planning finished this month, with some excellent improvements to Wikipedia. The second course still has a few weeks left, but has been active in making contributions to articles related to abortion and contraception. Here are some of the highlights:

  • A Scholar expanded the article on unintended pregnancy, refining the definition of the term, improving statistical information, improving referencing, and adding content about factors associated with unintended pregnancy, among other improvements.
  • Another Scholar expanded osmotic dilator, including taking two pictures and uploading them, as the article previously lacked any illustrations.
  • The article on reproductive coercion is now greatly improved after Scholar rewrote the lead and other parts of the article, adding for example information on prevalence.
  • Multiple Scholars worked to improve or add several sections of the article on dilation and evacuation.
  • A Scholar improved the doula article, writing more than half of the current high-impact entry that gets nearly a thousand pageviews every day. Whereas it previously only referenced doulas regarding childbirth, the new summary paragraphs reflect that doulas are involved in other processes, however, including miscarriage, abortion, and end-of-life care.
  • The article for vaginal bleeding also saw impressive growth, with a Scholar adding more than 2,500 words. They are now also responsible for half of this article, which is considered “top importance” in Wikipedia articles related to women’s health. The section on vaginal bleeding in premenopausal women is dramatically expanded, with detailed and specific information conditions that can cause vaginal bleeding.


Visiting Scholars Program

The Long Island Tercentenary half dollar was a commemorative coin struck in 1936 celebrating the 300th anniversary of the first European settlement on Long Island. Unfortunately, the coins were not struck until months after the tercentenary celebrations. This month George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum successfully brought the article up to Featured Article, a designation reserved for only the best articles on Wikipedia by quality.

Long Island Tercentenary half dollar reverse
Long Island Tercentenary half dollar

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, continued adding biographies of women to Wikipedia, including:

  • Margaret Hunt Brisbane (1858-1925) was a poet from Mississippi who wrote for national magazines and New Orleans newspapers.
  • Another poet, Adelaide George Bennett (1848-1911) of New England, is known for her poems describing Native American life and the Red Pipestone Quarry.
Margaret Hunt Brisbane



In August, we confirmed an upcoming collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Several UMass Lowell faculty will join a Wiki Scholars course this fall to add and expand biographies of women to Wikipedia. After this 10-week intensive training about how Wikipedia works, participating faculty will design Wikipedia assignments for their students, joining Wiki Education’s Student Program in the following semesters. We’re excited to work with departments at UMass Lowell on the three major components: 1) faculty learning how to edit Wikipedia together; 2) student participation in Wikipedia; and 3) expanding public knowledge of notable women.

We spent the month recruiting participants for a Wiki Scientists course in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences. Most accepted applicants are early career scientists and graduate students looking to add Wikipedia-editing to their science communication toolkit.

Finally, we worked with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) to recruit outstanding early career scientists eager to edit Wikipedia’s science policy articles. NSPN sponsored 15 seats for their members, and we received applications from more than 30 graduate students and faculty. We are excited about early scientists’ enthusiasm to join the Wikipedia community and rebuild the public’s trust in science.


In August, we received our second grant payment of $166,667 from the Wikimedia Foundation. We also received a matching payment of $166,667 from the Stanton Foundation, in addition to $726 in individual contributions. These grants and donations support our Student Program and are so critical to our success. We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from these excellent partners and from other supporters in the community.

We had several conversations with potential funders in August, including a visit to our office from the President of the WITH Foundation, Ryan Easterly. Mr. Easterly and Chief Programs Officer LiAnna Davis discussed our programs in detail, as part of the WITH Foundation’s proposal review process. We expect to hear in late September whether we will be awarded a $40K grant from the WITH Foundation to improve information on Wikipedia related to healthcare and disability issues.

Chief Advancement Officer TJ Bliss and Chief Technology Officer Sage Ross had productive conversations with a Program Officer at the Michelson 20MM Foundation and resulting in an invitation to submit a full proposal to the SPARK Grant competition. This $25K proposal, if funded, will support improvements to our Dashboard.

TJ had a good conversation with our Program Officer at the Moore Foundation and provided a report on the success of our Communicating Science efforts over the past year. He specifically requested renewal of our current grant before the end of 2019. The outlook for this renewal is positive. TJ also spoke with a hedge fund manager who is interested in funding work related to K-12 education. He developed and submitted a concept note to this potential funder, as well as to a contact at Red Hat, describing our proposed efforts to develop a professional development offering for teachers focused on using Wikipedia to teach information literacy to K-12 students.

In addition to these conversations, TJ traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to attend the 2019 Wikimania Conference. He presented about Wiki Education’s extensive partnership work as an example to other organizations and had conversations with funders and other leaders in the Wiki movement. While in Sweden, TJ finalized negotiations with the Smithsonian Institute to collaborate on a project to improve the representation of women in science on Wikipedia.


Student Program

August was a busy month for our blog!

Quite a few students who have completed Wikipedia assignments shared their experiences. Sienna Stevens wrote, “I cannot stress enough how much I learned from this project. I truly believe it gave me a chance to push myself, my writing, and my research skills.” Hilary Wilson told us that the assignment inspired confidence and motivation. And Philip Marr shared why he thinks the Wikipedia stigma is undeserved.

Past and current instructors in our Student Program also lended their voices to our blog this month. Dr. Kathleen Sheppard took us through her biggest take-aways from last term. Janice Airhart speaks to how effective a Wikipedia assignment was for her freshman composition students. And Dr. Carolyn Cunningham shared what it was like for her media students to join the “Wikipedia ecosystem.”

It’s invaluable to hear from instructors and students, and it’s encouraging that they gain such personal (and professional) fulfillment from making Wikipedia a better resource for everyone. We’re proud to support them and be part of the effort!

In general, instructors are increasingly drawn to the ways the Wikipedia assignment challenges students, hones 21st century skills, and inspires passion. And there are quite a few peer-reviewed journal articles that confirm the value of the assignment. We published a blog this month about how academia is changing its mind about Wikipedia, which was widely circulated in our community.

Scholars & Scientists

Participants in our Scholars & Scientists courses also took to our blog to highlight their experience becoming Wikipedians. Valerie Catrow wrote about imposter syndrome: “the parts of my life that made me feel not qualified to participate are exactly what make me a good fit for this huge public service project.” And we featured the work of Colleen Denny, MD, an OB/GYN and Wiki Education-trained Wiki Scientist who improved the accuracy of an article about a medical procedure she performs on a weekly basis, one which receives 500 page views every day.

Blog posts:

External media:


In August we wrapped up our three summer internship projects, shipping some very exciting new features along with the beta launch of an experimental Android app for the Dashboard. The headline feature for Khyati Soneji’s project is that “The Dashboard now counts references!“, and in August Khyati also added integration with the powerful category-based PetScan tool so that contributions can be tracked within just the specified content area — useful for thematic edit-a-thons and content drives, especially. Amit Joki completed his project to improve multi-wiki support, adding a stretch goal that has been a frequent request from edit-a-thon organizers: you can now exclude specific articles from tracking, so that if a stray unrelated edit ends up alongside the articles you care about — a bit of idle vandalism reversion, perhaps — it’s easy to clean up the stats. Ujjwal Agrawal’s Android app is up and running, and we’re gathering feedback from the beta release before distributing it more widely.

We also deployed a batch of improvements to how and where the Dashboard points students to complete Wikipedia exercises and draft their articles. New templates provide dedicated sandbox pages and a preloaded outline for the “evaluate an article” exercise and for building a bibliography, and students working in groups will all be directed to the same shared sandbox page to draft their article together. Meanwhile, design and development work picked up for bigger changes to the student user experience, which we’re aiming to complete and release just before the Spring 2020 classes begin.

Finance & Administration

Overall expenses in August were $177K, ($8K) less than the budgeted plan of $185K. Programs were under by ($10K) due to a wage correction ($3K) and Indirect Expense allocation ($7K). General and Administration were under by ($4K) due to a combination of items including an increase in travel +$3K, under in Meetings ($3K), Professional Services ($4K), and an uptick in Shared expenses +$8K. Fundraising was over +$1K relating to Travel for a conference. And Governance was under by ($1K) relating to payroll adjustments.

Wiki Education Expenses for August 2019

The Year-to-date expenses are $341K ($33K) under budget of $374K. Fundraising, is right on target. The Board is under by ($1K) relating to a payroll adjustment. General and Administration is under by ($4K) due to Operational Expenses($8K), Payroll Adjustments ($2K) with an uptick in shared expenses +$14K. Programs are under by ($28K) due to Travel ($9K), Communications ($4K) and Payroll Adjustment ($1K).

Wiki Education Expenses, YTD August 2019

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • Improving the coordination of work between the Advancement and the Programs department
    • Mapping of Wiki Education’s services
    • Financial reporting and projections

August is traditionally the month of Wikimania, the annual Wikimedia conference. This year, the event was held in Stockholm, Sweden, and Frank attended the conference together with Ryan and TJ. The conference was centered around the theme “Stronger Together: Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals” and attracted about 900 attendees from all parts of the Wikimedia universe. Among the 200 different presentations, workshops, and panel discussions were 5 organized by Wiki Education staff. TJ participated in a panel that discussed the question “Why should we care about UNESCO’s SDGs and how can this framework help Wikimedians transform Education?” and presented about the topic “Lessons learned from five years of partner building at Wiki Education”. Ryan held a presentation about Wiki Education’s new Scholars & Scientists Program. Will joined a panel discussion about “Integrating Wikidata into Education” remotely. Upon invitation by the track’s organizers, Frank gave the keynote of this year’s quality track, titled “How to measure a giant squid and other thoughts about Wikipedia’s quality”. However, one of the most important aspects of Wikimania is the interaction with other Wikimedians and all three staff members had many opportunities to do so.

A few days after Wikimania, Frank participated in the quarterly meeting of the board’s finance and audit committees. Frank and Jordan (SFBay Financials) provided the attending board members with a year-end report for fiscal year 2018–19 and also walked the board through some new accounting rules for non-profits. With Wiki Education’s audit being scheduled earlier this year, Jordan provided the committee members with an update on the timeline and next steps.

In order to further improve the coordination of work between the Advancement and the Programs department, Frank, LiAnna, and TJ formed the new “Services Steering Group”. This new group will meet every other week and discuss everything related to the different services our organization offers (e.g. services for academics, services for students, etc.) One of the first exercises the group engaged in was a mapping exercise intended to provide better clarity on which services Wiki Education will offer to its different target audiences over the course of the next two years. As next steps the steering group will work on prioritizing the development of new services and create a “services roadmap” in order to create better alignment among staff.

Also in August, Frank met with Tilman Bayer (former Senior Analyst) and Katy Love (former Director of Community Resources) who recently left the Wikimedia Foundation, in order to catch up and to explore potential opportunities for future collaboration.


  • Katy Love, former Director of Community Resources at the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Ryan Easterly, WITH Foundation
  • Naniette Coleman, University of California, Berkeley and students

In August, Naniette Coleman, Doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley, made what has now turned into her annual pilgrimage to Wiki Education’s office. Naniette has been working with students to improve Wikipedia since 2016, and we’re always delighted to hear about what her students are up to. This summer, two of her students highlighted their work on translating Wikipedia articles and the challenges therein and their attempts to build a database of scholarship related to issues surrounding privacy.

Student Program instructor Naniette Coleman visits Wiki Education with her students

* * *

Wikipedia's JavaScript initialisation on a budget

14:15, Monday, 30 2019 September UTC

This week saw the conclusion of a project that I've been shepherding on and off since September of last year. The goal was for the initialisation of our asynchronous JavaScript pipeline (at the time, 36 kilobytes in size) to fit within a budget of 28 KB – the size of two 14 KB bursts of Internet packets.

In total, the year-long effort is saving 4.3 Terabytes a day of data bandwidth for our users' page views.

The above graph shows the transfer size over time. Sizes are after compression (i.e. the net bandwidth cost as perceived from a browser).

How we did it

The startup manifest is a difficult payload to optimise. The vast majority of its code isn't functional logic that can be optimised by traditional means. Rather, it is almost entirely made of pure data. The data is auto-generated by ResourceLoader and represents the registry of module bundles. (ResourceLoader is the delivery system Wikipedia uses for its JavaScript, CSS, interface text.)

This registry contains the metadata for all front-end features deployed on Wikipedia. It enumerates their name, currently deployed version, and their dependency relationships to other such bundles of loadable code.

I started by identifying code that was never used in practice (T202154). This included picking up unfinished or forgotten software deprecations, and removing unused compatibility code for browsers that no longer passed our Grade A feature-test. I also wrote a document about Page load performance. This document serves as reference material, enabling developers to understand the impact of various types of changes on one or more stages of the page load process.

Fewer modules

Next was collaborating with the engineering teams here at Wikimedia Foundation and at Wikimedia Deutschland, to identify features that were using more modules than is necessary. For example, by bundling together parts of the same feature that are generally always downloaded together. Thus leading to fewer entry points to have metadata for in the ResourceLoader registry.

Some highlights:

  • WMF Editing team: The WikiEditor extension now has 11 fewer modules. Another 31 modules were removed in UploadWizard. Thanks Ed Sanders, Bartosz Dziewoński, and James Forrester.
  • WMF Language team: Combined 24 modules of the ContentTranslation software. Thanks Santhosh Thottingal.
  • WMF Reading Web: Combined 25 modules in MobileFrontend. Thanks Stephen Niedzielski, and Jon Robson.
  • WMDE Community Wishlist Team: Removed 20 modules from the RevisionSlider and TwoColConflict features. Thanks Amir Sarabadani.

Last but not least, there was the Wikidata client for Wikipedia. This was an epic journey of its own (T203696). This feature started out with a whopping 248 distinct modules registered on Wikipedia page views. The magnificent efforts of Amir removed over 200 modules, bringing it down to 42 today.

The bar chart above shows small improvements throughout the year, all moving us closer to the goal. Two major drops stand out in particular. One is around two-thirds of the way, in the first week of August. This is when the aforementioned Wikidata improvement was deployed. The second drop is toward the end of the chart and happened this week – more about that below.

Less metadata

This week's improvement was achieved by two holistic changes that organised the data in a smarter way overall.

First – The EventLogging extension previously shipped its schema metadata as part the startup manifest. Roan Kattouw (Growth Team) refactored this mechanism to instead bundle the schema metadata together with the JavaScript code of the EventLogging client. This means the startup footprint of EventLogging was reduced by over 90%. That's 2KB less metadata in the critical path! It also means that going forward, the startup cost for EventLogging no longer grows with each new event instrumentation. This clever bundling is powered by ResourceLoader's new Package files feature. This feature was expedited in February 2019 in part because of its potential to reduce the number of modules in our registry. Package Files make it super easy to combine generated data with JavaScript code in a single module bundle.

Second – We shrunk the average size for each entry in the registry overall (T229245). The startup manifest contains two pieces of data for each module: Its name, and its version ID. This version ID previously required 7 bytes of data. After thinking through the Birthday mathematics problem in context of ResourceLoader, we decided that the probability spectrum for our version IDs can be safely reduced from 78 billion down to "only" 60 million. For more details see the code comments, but in summary it means we're saving 2 bytes for each of the 1100 modules still in the registry. Thus reducing the payload by another 2-3 KB.

Below is a close-up for the last few days (this is from synthetic monitoring, plotting the raw/uncompressed size):

The change was detected in ResourceLoader's synthetic monitoring. The above is captured from the Startup manifest size dashboard on our public Grafana instance, showing a 2.8KB decrease in the uncompressed data stream.

With this week's deployment, we've completed the goal of shrinking the startup manifest to under 28 KB. This cross-departmental and cross-organisational project reduced the startup manifest by 9 KB overall (net bandwidth, after compression); From 36.2 kilobytes one year ago, down to 27.2 KB today.

We have around 363,000 page views a minute in total on Wikipedia and sister projects. That's 21.8M an hour, or 523 million every day (User pageview stats). This week's deployment saves around 1.4 Terabytes a day. In total, the year-long effort is saving 4.3 Terabytes a day of bandwidth on our users' page views.

What's next

It's great to celebrate that Wikipedia's startup payload now neatly fits into the target budget of 28 KB – chosen as the lowest multiple of 14KB we can fit within subsequent bursts of Internet packets to a web browser.

The challenge going forward will be to keep us there. Over the past year I've kept a very close eye (spreadsheet) on the startup manifest — to verify our progress, and to identify potential regressions. I've since automated this laborious process through a public Grafana dashboard.

We still have many more opportunities on that dashboard to improve bundling of our features, and (for Performance Team) to make it even easier to implement such bundling. I hope these on-going improvements will come in handy whilst we work on finding room in our performance budget for upcoming features.

– Timo Tijhof

Further reading:

weeklyOSM 479

05:44, Monday, 30 2019 September UTC


lead picture

SotM 2019 in Heidelberg, Germany 1 | Photo © Thomersch CCBYSA2

SotM 2019

  • The latest international State of the Map conference came to a close in Heidelberg, a city in Southwest Germany. A tweet shares a group picture of around 600 participants who came from all over the world.
  • Some weeklyOSM editors met (automatic translation) at SotM 2019, in Heidelberg, Germany. It was great to finally see the faces behind the nicknames.
  • OpenStreetMap, a silent and useful digital revolution” a press release about the SotM, HOT and OSM in general by GIScienceHD, Heidelberg.
  • The Maptiler company has published a blog post where they highlight the most important things, from their point of view, about SotM 2019.
  • The “Chaos Computer Club” (CCC) published all the videos they recorded at SotM 2019.
  • The State of the Map conference recently concluded in Heidelberg, Germany, and two participants of the scholars program share their experience: Polyglot from Belgium and Anditabinas from the Philippines.


  • Warin announced the start of voting for horse mounting blocks. The format of voting is different from usual. Not only can one vote for or against the proposal, but also there is a choice to vote for the key name (i.e. man_made, leisure, horse, bridleway, animal or amenity) as well.
  • The Bing Maps team contributed building footprint datasets for Uganda and Tanzania to OpenStreetMap.
  • The proposal for campsite properties, which aimed to allow enhanced mapping of camping areas, failed to achieve the necessary support.
  • The tag cash_withdrawal=*, intended to tag the possibility of withdrawing cash in a shop or amenity, has been unanimously accepted. The only vote against came after the end of the voting period.
  • The Christian Martinus community has included the subway in Vienna as part of a pilgrimage route, which led to some discussion (automatic translation) and double checks after the route relation was entered in OSM.


  • The winners of the OSM Awards 2019 have been announced. We join in the congratulations and say thank you to all nominees, whether winners or not.The winners were:
    • Core systems: Andy Allan
    • Innovation: Adrien Pavie
    • Influential Writing: Steve Friedl, Guillaume Rischard
    • Mapper of the Year: Alan Mustard
    • Community Building: Nathalie Sidibé
    • Team: Data Working Group
    • Ulf Miller: Victor Shcherb
  • Marco Minghini and Francesco Frasinelli, of the European Research Centre, have published a paper with the title OpenStreetMap history for intrinsic quality assessment: Is OSM up-to-date?
  • OpenStreetMap Foundation Colombia created a game methodology (automatic translation) to teach different people the use of OSM in different contexts. The main idea is to solve the challenge of bringing new technologies to places where people have low levels of technological adoption.
  • Jennings Anderson provided a compilation of data visualisations showing the impact of individual mappers on the development of OSM.


  • CycleStreets has been looking at TfL’s (Transport for London) massive new cycling dataset, and proposed 11 new tags which would allow useful attributes, which are not currently supported, to be represented in OSM. Comments on the proposals are welcomed. All the new tags are compatible with existing OSM data and generally enhance existing information to improve routing.


  • Maptime in Boston has announced their next event is on 2 October 2019. Maptime in Boston will be hosted in Facebook’s Boston office.
  • The 19th “Schemotechnica” will be held (automatic translation) in Moscow (Russia) on 10 October. It’s a mini-conference on OSM and open GIS. Do not forget to register! (ru) (automatic translation)

Humanitarian OSM

  • HOT is looking for a new director of technology.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) conducted a measles vaccination campaign in Chad using only hand drawn maps until Missing Maps volunteers helped create digital maps.
  • Yer Çizenler started a mapping campaign for the Denizli Earthquake.
  • Third Sector, a UK-based publication for the voluntary and not-for-profit sector, published an article titled How charities can benefit from the power of micro-volunteering about OpenStreetMap and other citizen science projects and how organisations can make use of it.
  • HOT announced improvements to MapCampaigner, a tool for managing and monitoring field data collection. The plan is to “…progress [the] tracking and quality monitoring tool to [become] an end-to-end mapping campaign management platform”.
  • Aimée Sama of the OSM community in Togo has created a project to map urban heat islands. An urban heat island is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than the surrounding rural areas due to human activity. The temperature difference is usually greater at night than during the day, and is more noticeable when the wind is weak. The project aims to map trees and green spaces to help reduce this problem.


  • Applications are invited for the 2020 YouthMappers Research Fellowship and will be accepted until 1 November 2019. Students who apply must be associated with a YouthMappers chapter in good standing.


  • Sven Geggus has updated the Opencampingmap. Amongst other features you can now find amenity=power_supply on campsites.
  • Joseph Eisenberg wrote a blog post about the update of OSM’s map style Carto to version v4.23.0. The new version restores labels on specific nodes such as leisure=sports_centre, fixed a bug that duplicated the parking icon, brightened aerodrome rendering and much more.
  • We’d like to point to wambachers OSM software watchlist, which lists the current version of software with relevance in the OSM universe. You can also follow #OSMSoftwareWatchlist on Twitter to get information on which software has received an update.

Did you know …

  • … of all the new aerial imagery that is available for OSM in Croatia? The Croatian State Geodetic Administration changed (automatic translation) their Geoportal terms of use to allow derivative works, so the aerial imagery and topographic maps can now be used for OSM. In addition, the cities of Knin (automatic translation) and Zagreb (automatic translation) have granted the use of their aerial imagery from 2007 and 2012 for use in OSM. Zagreb also provides (automatic translation) imagery with a resolution of 20 cm. Data has been processed and is served as a TMS layer on the OSM Croatia server.

Other “geo” things

  • Alasdair Rae tweeted a link to his slides from his presentation at FOSS4GUK: From map projections to geogifs to mapping – My journey through open source GIS.
  • If you love old maps you may want to join the “Royal Society for the Preservation of Boring Grid Squares“. Tim Waters points out this interesting organisation, which is committed to saving “boring” grid squares in the Landranger map series of the Ordnance Survey. Harry Wood noted that the organisation has important work to do in Scotland as OSM mappers are filling in the blanks leaving precious few boring tiles.
  • “streetfightmag.com” lists five privacy focused map apps with a brief description of each in a short article.
  • An article has been published (translation) on “moment.at” that shows a world map of CO2 emissions per capita for each country. The article also looks at “CO2 emission outsourcing”, e.g. where the goods are bought in Austria, but the CO2 emissions are assigned to the producing country, China.
  • The Irish Times explains why Ireland needs better land cover information. Ireland is one of the few remaining countries in Europe which do not have detailed land cover information. The only available dataset, some parts of which have also found their way into OSM, is the EU’s Corine (Co-ordinated Information on the Environment) dataset, which is not very detailed – it does not include areas smaller than 25 hectares.
  • The Federal Ministry of Transport in Germany opened (translation) a road for testing autonomous vehicles. These vehicles will share the road with regular traffic in the 3.6 kilometres between the Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz.
  • The publication Geospatial World features an article about BGT, a public registry of geospatial data that serves as a national digital topographic map for the Netherlands. The building of such a registry has required the coordination of institutions working at many different levels.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Nagoya 第2回まちマップ道場-伊勢湾台風被災地を訪ねる- 2019-09-28 japan
Strasbourg Rencontre périodique de Strasbourg 2019-09-28 france
Kameoka 京都!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第12回 穴太寺(あなおじ) 2019-09-29 japan
Mainz Stammtisch 2019-09-30 germany
Rome Incontro mensile 2019-09-30 italy
London London Missing Maps Mapathon 2019-10-01 united kingdom
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2019-10-02 germany
Brno State of the Map CZ+SK 2019 2019-10-02-2019-10-03 czech republic
Bochum Mappertreffen 2019-10-03 germany
Montrouge Rencontre mensuelle des contributeurs de Montrouge et alentours 2019-10-03 france
Fujisawa 湘南マッピングパーティ 2019-10-05 japan
Kinshasa Rencontre OSM Kinshasa 2019-10-05 democratic republic of the congo
Ballaghadereen Map Ballaghadereen 2019-10-05 ireland
Budapest OSM Hungary Meetup reboot 2019-10-07 hungary
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2019-10-08 france
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2019-10-08 germany
Salt Lake City SLC Mappy Hour 2019-10-08 united states
Hamburg Hamburger Mappertreffen 2019-10-08 germany
Cologne Köln Stammtisch 2019-10-09 germany
Arlon Espace public numérique d’Arlon – Formation Consulter OpenStreetMap 2019-10-09 belgium
San José Civic Hack & Map Night 2019-10-10 united states
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2019-10-10 france
Berlin 136. Berlin-Brandenburg Stammtisch 2019-10-11 germany
Berlin Berlin Hack Weekend Oktober 2019 2019-10-12-2019-10-13 germany
Greater Manchester Joy Diversion 8 2019-10-12 united kingdom
Santa Fe State of the Map Argentina 2019 2019-10-12 argentina
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-10-14 france
Taipei OSM x Wikidata #9 2019-10-14 taiwan
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2019-10-15 germany
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2019-10-15 germany
Arlon Espace public numérique d’Arlon – Formation Contribuer à OpenStreetMap 2019-10-16 belgium
Berlin Missing Maps Mapathon – Putting the Wolds’s Vulnerable People on the Map 2019-10-17 germany
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe Hack Weekend 2019-10-19-2019-10-20 germany
Prizren State of the Map Southeast Europe 2019-10-25-2019-10-27 kosovo
Dhaka State of the Map Asia 2019 2019-11-01-2019-11-02 bangladesh
Wellington FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019 2019-11-12-2019-11-15 new zealand
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast
Cape Town State of the Map 2020 2020-07-03-2020-07-05 south africa

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

This weeklyOSM was produced by Elizabete, Kleper, Nakaner, NunoMASAzevedo, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, SeverinGeo, SomeoneElse, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, YoViajo, derFred, doktorpixel14, geologist, anonymus.

Tech News issue #40, 2019 (September 30, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 30 2019 September UTC
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On Wednesday, the MacArthur ‘Genius’ grants were announced for 2019. The Wikipedian part of my brain, the part that I can’t turn off anymore, immediately wanted to update the Wikipedia article for the Fellowship with the most recent awardees, linking to the biographies that already existed and highlighting which still needed to be created. I already planned on reaching out to the Women in Red community for help writing about any women who didn’t have biographies yet, as women are severely underrepresented on English Wikipedia.

In linking to articles that already existed, the name Andrea Dutton caught my eye. As she’s a paleoclimatologist studying the effects of climate warming on ancient sea levels. I was thrilled to see she was being recognized for her important work through this grant. So many women scientists don’t have a Wikipedia biography, and won’t have a biography until they’ve been recognized in a big way (like Dr. Donna Strickland). But sometimes, it’s just that no one has taken the time to write it yet. It’s a problem that’s often indicative of larger structural disparities facing women in STEM (i.e. that their accomplishments aren’t covered in the media to the extent as their male peers). In the face of Wikipedia’s gender gap, there’s so much work to be done!

But in Dr. Dutton‘s case, that work was already done. There was her Wikipedia biography already well-developed! I just had a feeling about the author based on how much work Wiki Education does supporting the creation of biographies of women scientists, so I decided to click through the edit history and see who wrote the biography and when. As it turned out, it was created by one of Dr. Rebecca Barnes’ students at Colorado College who I helped support this spring in our Student Program. That student wrote the biography from scratch as an assignment just months ago. I thought the name sounded familiar!

Dr. Barnes has been guiding her students at Colorado College in Wikipedia writing assignments since Fall 2018. Each term, a new batch of students writes biographies for women in STEM. So far, they’ve written more than 70 into existence.

The existence of Dr. Dutton’s Wikipedia biography (and the biographies of women scientists in general) is not only important for recognizing her contributions to her field. The act of recognizing also has an effect on the students who are participating in that visibility work. And having them write Wikipedia biographies for women in STEM not only demonstrates to them that diversity and inclusion belongs in STEM, it asserts that to the world. It’s important for women in science to be visible to future generations, inspiring women to pursue scientific careers and providing possible roadmaps for doing so.

So go on over to Wikipedia to read all about Dr. Dutton’s fascinating work. You’ll see that the page has been updated to include her latest achievement. You can thank Dr. Barnes’ student for that. Even though their course ended in May, they came back to make the change! And as for the five women who won the MacArthur Fellowship but didn’t have a biography yet? All five are written now.

Further reading: Thanks to these Washington University students, the winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were already represented on Wikipedia when they won.

Interested in incorporating a Wikipedia writing assignment into a future course? We provide support and free resources to instructors teaching all disciplines! Visit teach.wikiedu.org for more information.

Header image by John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0 via MacArthur Foundation.

Assigning Wikipedia as a classroom assignment is a difficult proposition. The idea of integrating the encyclopedia into a curriculum has been stigmatized for many years, and it can be complicated to ensure that students’ work fits into Wikipedia’s extensive policies and guidelines.

Over the last decade, however, a brave cadre of professors and teachers have been out to change that. And earlier this year, one of those educators contacted Wikimedia Israel (WMIL), an independent affiliate, with the idea of bringing a Wikipedia assignment in their course.

The educator was Dr. Daniela Shabar-Shapira, from the Tel-Aviv University School of Social Work, and the course was Women and Gender in Social Work—a Feminist Perspective. The topic matter of the course gave us some pause, as established Wikipedia editors can view such courses as being agenda-driven, thereby violating Wikipedia’s founding principle of neutral point of view.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, WMIL’s academic coordinator met with Dr. Shabar-Shapira and Moran Abouloff-Pick, her teaching assistant, to learn more about the course’s characteristics and explore how a Wikipedia assignment could be integrated. The course they are teaching is part of a retraining program for a master’s degree in social work. Students in this program come from different academic backgrounds—mostly social studies or behavioral studies—and hold at least a bachelor’s degree. The three-year program also includes guided training in the field, i.e., the students work at an organization and learn the practical aspects of the trade.

This specific course focuses on the principles of treatment and intervention from a feminist perspective. It covers, among other things, topics related to the history and different waves of the feminist movement and theory, development and crystallization of feminine identity, psychological theories of women and gender, intersection of marginal positions, and more. The Wikipedia assignment was to write about a topic covered in the course and relating to their practical field work.

WMIL’s academic coordinator met with the students and gave an introduction to Wikipedia and its writing guidelines. One point of emphasis was that content about feminism need not appear under a heading of a “feminist perspective.” It suffices that those undercovered topics, aspects, or studies be added with reliable sources and described using neutral language.

To ensure that the topics written as assignments are suitable for Wikipedia, students had to submit their suggested topic and a list of sources (references) to WMIL’s academic coordinator. The coordinator reviewed the notability of the suggested topics and the reliability of the sources. In some cases the suggested topic was risky as an article on its own.

For example, the topic “insidious trauma” is a well-known term coined by psychologist Maria Root. However, as there is no article about this topic in any other Wikipedia, the recommendation was to write about the topic within the scope of an article about Maria Root (which did not exist in Hebrew).

In other cases, WMIL’s coordinator identified existing articles which the suggested topics could expand on, or made recommendations on specific areas of focus. For example, a student planning to write about “homelessness among LGBT youth in Israel” eventually expanded the article about homelessness, adding information about homelessness among youth, in general, and also among LGBT youth.

The students’ work was checked for its content by the course instructors, and following their approval, it was uploaded as a draft (known as a “sandbox” in Wikipedia’s parlance). The academic coordinator then reviewed the drafts and corrected any content or style issues.

• • •

This pilot project, though small in scale, was a resounding success. All eight articles or expansions were accepted without discussion. In total, 138,000 bytes were added. The instructors and the students reported enormous satisfaction from making their work accessible through Wikipedia, thereby making important information that was lacking, freely available to the public. Moreover, they viewed the assignment as a particularly fitting task that, like the profession they are learning, combines the academic with the practical.

WMIL’s conclusion from this pilot is that it is possible to write about sensitive or potentially controversial issues in the framework of an academic Wikipedia assignment, providing that the process is structured, guided and supervised well. More specific insights are:

  • Instructors and students must be acquainted with Wikipedia’s neutral point of view and reliable sources policies.
  • The topics for the assignment must be curated by an experienced Wikimedia editor
  • Having at least one teaching assistant, depending on the size of the course, is crucial for the coordination and supervision of the assignment. Given the workload of most university lecturers, it is unlikely that a university lecturer would be able to give students the required support to complete such a task.
  • It is imperative to create clear instructions and guidelines for the students. These describe the assignment and what is expected of them, provide clarity about the process milestones, and lay down the deadlines for each phase.
  • To minimize conflicts with other Wikipedia editors, it is advisable that students do not edit directly in the article space, but rather in the sandbox. Moving the content to the article space should only be done after it has been reviewed by a Wikimedia editor.

Dr. Keren Shatzman, Senior Coordinator, Academia & Projects
Wikimedia Israel

The lowest hanging fruit in #DBpedia

07:54, Thursday, 26 2019 September UTC
What I hate with a vengeange is make work. DBpedia as a project retrieves information from all the Wikipedias, wrangles it into shape and publishes it. In one scenario they have unanimous support from one or more Wikipedias agreeing on the same fact and, they all may have their own references.

We should import such agreeable data without further ado. An additional manual step to import to Wikidata is not smart because manual operations introduce new errors. Arguably when there is no unanimous support manual intervention may improve the quality but given the quantity of the data involved, it means that a lot of data will not become available. THAT in and of itself has a negative impact on the quality of available data as well.

So what to do.. Harvest all the data that is of an acceptable quality, that is the data DBpedia accepts for its own purposes. Enable an interface where people verify the data where their project is challenged.

When we truly aim to engage people, we enable them to target the data they want to work on. I will happily work on scientists but do not expect me to work on "sucker stars". More than likely there will be people who care about soccer stars but not about "crazy professors".

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