History books often focus on the white change-makers of the suffrage movement. Until last month, it was no different on Wikipedia. The article documenting the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited governments from discriminating against voters on the basis of sex, not only centered the narrative on white people, but on white men.

In order to ensure the public has access to the best representation of women’s suffrage in the United States, Wiki Education teamed up with the National Archives and Records Administration last fall. We have spent the last 8 months running courses to train researchers and archivists how to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of these topics. Experts spent months expanding articles on suffragists like Ida B. Wells and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, and events like the Woman suffrage parade of 1913.

After seeing the incredible work these new Wikipedians could accomplish, we invited top performers to come back and focus their efforts on getting the article on the Nineteenth Amendment up to a higher quality prior to the 100th anniversary of its passing. Thanks to these six women, the thousands of people reading about the Nineteenth Amendment today will find a better representation of this important moment in history.

In just four weeks, our Wiki Scholars are responsible for 68.8% of the article’s content. And it’s now close to the second highest quality rating on Wikipedia. The article reaches nearly 2,000 readers a day (not including the influx we expect on today’s anniversary). That’s an astonishing reach to achieve.

Six Wiki Scholars contributed 69% of the article’s content in the last month. Pie chart shows the size of their total edits corresponding to their Wikipedia usernames.

What changed?

Before the six Wiki Scholars began working, two of the three photos in the article featured men (like the Supreme Court justice who presided over the Leser v. Garnett case where the Nineteenth Amendment was constitutionally established). And the presentation of the facts typically focused on men as the catalysts of change.

Before March, the section about the Leser v. Garnett case read: “Oscar Leser sued to stop two women registered to vote in Baltimore, Maryland, because he believed that the Maryland Constitution limited the suffrage to men and the Maryland legislature had refused to vote to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.” The Wiki Scholars asked, why are we focusing on the men in this story instead of the women they were trying to stop from voting? These women don’t even get names? In fact, one of the women asserting her right to vote was a woman of color, which was completely erased through that limited description. After our course participants got to work, the section now reads,

Maryland citizens Mary D. Randolph, “‘a colored female citizen’ of 331 West Biddle Street,”[1] and Cecilia Street Waters, “a white woman, of 824 North Eutaw Street”,[2] applied for and were granted registration as qualified Baltimore voters on October 12, 1920. To have their names removed from the list of qualified voters, Oscar Leser and others brought suit against the two women on the sole grounds that they were women, arguing that they were not eligible to vote because the Constitution of Maryland limited suffrage to men[2] and the Maryland legislature had refused to vote to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.

Wiki Education’s Dashboard captures what content these Wiki Scholars each added to the article, seen in highlight.

The Nineteenth Amendment article now features a subsection about what it didn’t do to enfranchise women of color — a facet of suffrage history that was previously absent from the article and is often underrepresented in the telling of suffragist history in general. Even after the passing of the Amendment, states used loopholes to prohibit both men and women of color from exercising their right well into the 60s when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 made racial discrimination in voting much more difficult for states to perpetrate.

The change in the table of contents from March 4, 2019 to June 4, 2019

Our NARA Wiki Scholars courses have made strides in bringing women of color to the forefront of public history, recognizing and celebrating their integral contributions to the movement. Other Wikipedia volunteers have praised the work, especially coming from new users. They completed the project just in time for the kickoff of celebrations around the Nineteenth Amendment’s passing. Now, millions worldwide can get a better picture of the rich history of this day and its legacy.

Wiki Education staff members Will Kent and Elysia Webb with four of the Wiki Scholars, who all met weekly throughout the month to coordinate their Wikipedia work.

Header image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In short interviews with our employees we illuminate aspects and questions of our daily work with BlueSpice and our customers. Today’s topic: rights management. An interview with Florian Bäckmann, responsible for technical support at Hallo Welt! GmbH.

Florian, wikis are essentially open and transparent. Why suddenly assign rights?

That’s right. Actually, wikis build on the “wisdom of the crowd” and are virtual common property. Basically everyone participates and the contents are mostly public. With our Wiki BlueSpice, however, we serve corporate customers in the enterprise segment. In this context rights management is a key issue when it comes to run a web-platform like an enterprise-wiki.

But shouldn’t a wiki be used to break up “knowledge silos” and store company knowledge centrally?

Absolutely. But central isn’t always central. Our customers usually know where the bottlenecks and pitfalls lie when accessing a company-wide knowledge database. Between the two concepts “everyone may do everything” and “everything lies with one or a few employees” there is a large playground, which we serve with our permission manager.

Could you explain that in more detail?

Sure. On the content level individual rights are often required for departments, work groups or project teams, for example for changing articles. Another example: the management usually requires separate areas (namespaces) which are safeguarded with a privacy screen. After all, sensitive information is exchanged here. On top of that, if a corporate Wiki is public or partially public, sophisticated regulations are usually necessary to prevent misuse. And then there is the technical-functional level: Imagine every wiki user would have admin rights, being able to change central settings. Chaos would be preprogrammed. That’s why there are extended rights for appropriately qualified employees or IT administrators.

With BlueSpice 3 the assignment of rights has been revised. Why?

It turned out that the assignment of rights in BlueSpice 2 was not very intuitive and too complex for many customers. Since almost every function in the Wiki is associated with a right, at that time more than 200 individual rights could be assigned individually. With the launch of BlueSpice 3, we introduced the so-called role system. The main goal was to significantly simplify the assignment of rights. Talking of complicated: While MediaWiki uses a file on the server to assign rights, BlueSpice offers a graphic interface that allows rights to be assigned or adjusted quickly and easily by setting a few checkmarks.

Sounds good to me. But how exactly does the assignment of rights work?

The first step is to distinguish between users, groups, roles and rights. Furthermore, a basic distinction is made between anonymous wiki visitors without an account and registered wiki users with an account. First, a group already existing in the system or created by the customer himself is linked to individual Wiki users, usually employees. In other words: employees are assigned to a group.

With the help of “roles” the groups are then equipped with “rights packages”. Individual roles bundle numerous individual rights under one meaningful roof. The rights can be assigned wiki-wide or for individual namespaces (e.g. different rights for employees in different departments of the company).

Typical roles are:

  • readers: are allowed to read and comment on content
  • editors: as above, may additionally edit content
  • reviewers: as above, may additionally release content
  • administrators: as above, are allowed to make additional settings on the Wiki


bluespice mediawiki rights management rights permission
Screenshot: Overview of the rights management in BlueSpice.


OK, got it. So it’s not quite trivial to set up a rights management system, is it?

You’re right. Since the assignment of rights plays a central role in many companies, special attention should be paid to planning and configuration. Even though a Wiki is essentially an open and transparent application, many companies have legal requirements and internal policies that make access restrictions necessary. This applies to reading, but above all to changing information.


bluespice mediawiki rights management rights permission
Screenshot: Insight into the individual permissions of a “role”, in this case the editor.


How do you ensure that the rights system is set up properly?

We offer our customers the “rights management workshop”. In common we analyze and specify the individual rights-setup of the company wiki, granting group-, read- and write-rights or the right to delete pages. The results of the workshop are systematically documented in a rights matrix. After that the customer wiki is configured according to the specifications by our IT experts. After all, we want our customers to start with a wiki that exactly meets their expectations. Rights management included.

Let’s Wiki together!


More information about rights management can be found here:

Test BlueSpice pro now for 30 days free of charge and without obligation:

Visit our webinar and get to know BlueSpice:

Contact us:
Angelika Müller and Florian Müller
Telephone: +49 (0) 941 660 800
E-Mail: sales@bluespice.com

Author: David Schweiger

The post The permission manager: Rights management in BlueSpice pro appeared first on BlueSpice Blog.

Sarah Mojarad teaches a Social Media for Scientists and Engineers course at the University of Southern California where students write and improve Wikipedia articles as an assignment. Here, she shares her pedagogical motivations for doing so and the impact it has on students.

Sarah Mojarad helping to update a Wikipedia page at a specialized conference, 2016

“Chemistry is often elusive but Wikipedia helps to make chemistry topics, and all topics, more accessible. It was also helpful that in the assignment we could choose the topic of information we wanted to update. Not only did it give me more agency, making the assignment more enjoyable, but it required that I update a page that I could see myself using. It is exciting knowing that I contributed to a page that others have viewed since and that I’ve perhaps helped someone learn more about a topic that interests me, and I never even had to directly connect with this person.” – Olivia Harper Wilkins, Caltech Physical Chemistry PhD Candidate

Often overlooked in higher education STEM programs, effective communication skills are highly valued and sought after in both industry and academia. Assignments that leverage STEM expertise and translate technical knowledge to the public can improve a student’s ability to communicate science. Writing for Wikipedia serves this purpose and increases the visibility of a student’s work. The platform fosters a unique, global community of writers, editors, and readers. It’s a place where students can contribute knowledge and where their work has the potential of being seen by millions of people.

Why I Use Wikipedia

The undergraduate and graduate students that enroll in my science communication course, Social Media for Scientists and Engineers, at USC (and Caltech previously) are diverse STEM majors with differing career trajectories. Throughout the term, students learn to articulate complex concepts online to audiences outside their field of study. It’s a skill that will need to be honed regardless of whether or not the student intends to pursue a career in academia or industry. The second time my course was offered at Caltech I included a Wikipedia assignment because it required students to write for non-technical, non-peer groups. The 2016 Year of Science campaign was underway at that point, so participating in the Wikipedia event was a natural fit. I believed that Wikipedia could be a good way for STEM students to write about technical topics for non-academic audiences, and the experience could demonstrate science outreach impact. Wiki Education was an ideal partner. Instructors can design assignments on their robust platform, utilize free support, and track student progress throughout the duration of the activity. The Wiki Education Dashboard also displays useful analytics, like page views on student contributions, that help quantify the impact of work.

With the Dashboard, I can create a list of approved Wikipedia pages for students to review and self-assign. To fit the diverse student audience, I chose STEM-related articles based on the academic background of course enrollees and development status of science Wikipedia pages. Offering articles that have room for improvements and that are relevant to students’ fields of study improves the overall experience them. Students then write about what they know. Thanks to the increased visibility of Wikipedia, students feel more accountable for their work than they normally would with a traditional writing assignment.

Impactful Science Writing – CRISPR

Wikipedia is a tool that can help STEM students participate in online science communication and develop confidence with their writing. The updates on the “encyclopedia anyone can edit” keep pace with scientific advancements, and science and medical pages are often high quality and accurate. Though the platform can be intimidating to new editors, each semester I see cases where students are willing to challenge themselves and write on advanced topics. For example, biomedical engineering students in my course have self-assigned CRISPR—a well-developed, highly trafficked page. Contributing to the article about CRISPR requires more coordination and interaction with other editors on the Talk page. Because it’s watched by many editors, it’s possible for student edits to be immediately reversed. These challenges have not deterred people in my course. The CRISPR contributions from three students in Social Media for Scientists and Engineers have been viewed a combined 2,946,555 times on Wikipedia.

We often associate millions of views with viral content—not classroom assignments. However, a shift in traditional teaching and learning environments is taking place thanks to the Internet. I anticipate we’ll see more classrooms adopting Wikipedia coursework into existing curriculum. After all, why write for an audience of one when writing for millions is possible?

Returning to Wikipedia Each Academic Year

I continue to use Wikipedia in Social Media for Scientists and Engineers because it is a useful form of science outreach that generates impact. Through their collaborations with other editors, revisions of existing work, and interactions in Talk pages, students become members of digital teams working towards a common goal. When I share the page view analytics with students, I see a classroom full of proud faces. Contributing to Wikipedia is a gratifying experience, and their work helps improve an open-access resource that everyone in the world uses.

Often times, the edits don’t end because the assignment is completed. Though the grading period is over, they will continue to write on Wikipedia because it’s fulfilling. In a class of STEM students, it’s tough to spark interest and excitement for writing; however, with Wikipedia this is possible.

Interested in teaching a Wikipedia writing assignment? Use our free tools and assignment templates to best adapt it to your course. Visit teach.wikiedu.org to get started.

Header image by Smojarad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Bio image by Smojarad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped.

Why is Wikidata important to you?

17:13, Monday, 03 2019 June UTC

Why is Wikidata important to you?

You may not know it yet, but Wikidata is very important to you. For years most people were suspicious or cautious about Wikipedia being a reliable source. Now the Library of Congress tracks items in Wikidata, making it an authority whose reliability has improved significantly in recent years. Wikidata is surging in popularity and is going to occupy a similarly influential space in our lives.

Wikidata is the centralized, linked data repository for all Wikimedia projects. This means that all Wikimedia projects (Commons and Wikipedia for instance) can pull the information from the same central place. This also means that all 300+ language versions of Wikipedia can pull data from Wikidata as well. There is incredible potential for more access to information, more consistency across different languages, and the ability for any language-speaker to contribute more equitably.

Beyond the effect it is having in Wiki-verse, Wikidata is machine readable. This means that digital assistants, AI, bots, and scripts can interact with Wikidata’s structured, linked data. With one of the world’s largest databases of freely licensed (CC-0), open data, software will be able to better answer your questions, provide more context when you search, and link you to related sources in an efficient way. Additionally, this has implications for increased visibility in Google’s search results, elevating more accurate information to above the fold for countless concepts, events, and individuals.

For those in academia, consider the impact linked data has on libraries. More and more collections are being linked through authority control, structured vocabulary, and other identifiers. Wikidata (and the database software it runs on, Wikibase) are allowing institutions to connect their data like never before. The GND in Germany is a great example of how ambitious these projects can be. Other projects like the Sum of All Paintings/Crotos demonstrate how easy it is to share entire collections with anyone, anywhere. Once entire collections are in Wikidata, users can pull specific information from Wikidata using a powerful query service. Queries can reveal new insights like the location of cities with current mayors who identify as femaleurban population distribution, and customizable lists of Chemistry Nobel Prize Winners.

Building off of these examples, it becomes a logical next step to increase the representation of library collections on Wikidata. The beauty of Wikidata being open is that anyone can pull information from it to enrich a collection, improve research or help illustrate a point in a presentation with a visualization. Imagine the impact on access and visibility integrating an archive, special collections, or general collection on a Wikimedia project could have.

Interested in learning more about Wikidata? Wiki Education is facilitating online courses and in-person workshops this July that embed participants in the possibilities of Wikidata. We’re eager to train new editors and foster a passionate, inclusive community on Wikidata. Find more information and sign up today at data.wikiedu.org.

Bad credentials

10:00, Monday, 03 2019 June UTC

So there has been an issue with QuickStatements on Friday.

As users of that tool will know, you can run QuickStatements either from within your browser, or “in the background” from a Labs server. Originally, these “batch edits” were performed as QuickStatementsBot, mentioning batch and the user who submitted it in the edit summary. Later, through a pull request, QuickStatements gained the ability to run batch edits as the user who submitted the batch. This is done by storing the OAuth information of the user, and playing it back to the Wikidata API for the edits. So far so good.

However, as with many of my databases on Labs, I made the QuickStatements database open for “public reading”, that is, any Labs tool account could see its contents. Including the OAuth login credentials. Thus, since the introduction of the “batch edit as user” feature, up until last Friday, anyone with a login on Labs could, theoretically, perform edits and anyone who did submit a QuickStatements batch, by copying the OAuth credentials.

We (WMF staff and volunteers, including myself) are not aware that any such user account spoofing has taken place (security issue). If you suspect that this has happened, please contact WMF staff or myself.

Once the issue was reported, the following actions were taken

  • deactivation of the OAuth credentials of QuickStatements, so no more edits via spoofed user OAuth information could take place
  • removal of the “publicly” (Labs-internally) visible OAuth information from the database
  • deactivation of the QuickStatement bots and web interface

Once spoofed edits were no longer possible, I went ahead and moved the OAuth storage to a new database that only the QuickStatements “tool user” (the instance of the tool that is running, and myself) can see. I then got a new OAuth consumer for QuickStatements, and restarted the tool. You can now use QuickStatements as before. Your OAuth information will be secure now. Because of the new OAuth consumer for QuickStatements, you will have to log in again once.

This also means that all the OAuth information that was stored prior to Friday is no longer usable, and was deleted. This means that the batches you submitted until Friday will now fall back on the aforementioned QuickStatementsBot, and no longer edit as your user account. If it is very important to you that your edits appear under your user account, please let me know. All new batches will run edit your user accounts, as before.

My apologies for this incident. Luckily, there appears to be no actual damage done.

This is a blog in two parts – the first is some session recommendations for the CILIPS conference, and the second is a list of cool stuff about library engagement with Wikimedia….

Tom Murphy VII, CC-BY-SA 3.0

On 3-4 June, in the fair city of Dundee, it’s the CILIPS Annual Conference 2019, where the great and good of the Library and Information Professionals world in Scotland will come to gather.

We are particularly excited to say that our CEO, Lucy Crompton-Reid, will be keynoting on day 1, and there’ll also be a chance to hear from two other members of the Wikimedia community earlier that day.  If you have even a passing interest in how libraries can – and should – engage with open knowledge in general and Wikimedia in particular, then don’t miss these.

So here’s our Wiki-and-friends top sessions to attend:

  • Monday, 12:25, City Suite – Leveraging libraries: Community, open access and Wikimedia – Jason Evans, National Library of Wales Wikimedian in Residence and Dr Sara Thomas, Scotland Programme Coordination, Wikimedia UK
  • Monday, 15:55, City Suite – Keynote 3 – Creating a more tolerant, informed and democratic society through open knowledge – Lucy Crompton-Reid, Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK
  • Tuesday, 11:40, City Suite – Open Access, Plan S and new models for academic publishing – Dominic Tate, University of Edinburgh
  • Tuesday, 14:15, City Suite – The joy of digital – Exploring digital making and scholarship to enable innovation in research libraries – Kirsty Lingstadt, Head of Digital Library and Deputy Director of Library & University Collections at the University of Edinburgh.

Scotland has hosted three Wikimedians in Residence within the library sector – two at the National Library of Scotland, and one at the Scottish Library and Information Council – and so we’re very happy to be able to continue our relationship with the sector through a presence at the conference.  

Here are a few of our favourite things…

Want to know more about how libraries can engage with Wikimedia?  Here’s some of our favourite library things…. We’d recommend that you bookmark these for later reading….

And finally…

We’re also excited to see the release of the Association of Research Libraries’ White Paper on Wikidata, which makes some excellent – and very practical – suggestions as to how libraries can contribute to Wikidata, and indeed, why Wikidata / Linked Open Data in general, is good for libraries in the first place.  Even if you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of linked open data, it’s valuable reading, and well explained. https://www.arl.org/resources/arl-whitepaper-on-wikidata/

If you’re at the CILIPS conference, then we hope you have a great couple of days, please do come and say hi!  If you’re not, but would like to follow along on Twitter, you can do so on #CILIPS19

Tech News issue #23, 2019 (June 3, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 03 2019 June UTC
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Other languages:
Bahasa Indonesia • ‎English • ‎dansk • ‎français • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎suomi • ‎čeština • ‎русский • ‎українська • ‎עברית • ‎العربية • ‎فارسی • ‎中文 • ‎日本語

translatewiki.net security incident

21:46, Saturday, 01 2019 June UTC

What happened?
On September 24, 2018 a series of malicious edit attempts were detected on translatewiki.net. In general, these included attempts to inject malicious javascript, threatening messages and porn.

Upon detection it was determined that while the attacker’s attempts were unsuccessful there was a vulnerability that if properly leveraged could affect users. Because of the vulnerability it was decided to temporarily disable translation updates until countermeasures could be applied.

What information was involved?
No sensitive information was disclosed.

What are we doing about it?
The security team and others at the foundation have been working with translatewiki.net to add security relevant checks into the deployment process. While we currently have appropriate countermeasures in place we will continue to partner with translatewiki.net to add more robust security processes in the future. Translation updates will go out with the train while we continue to address architectural issues uncovered during the security incident investigation.

John Bennett
Director of Security, Wikimedia Foundation

Everyday people changing the world for the better

21:54, Friday, 31 2019 May UTC

What happens when ordinary people speak up in acts of resistance? What about when other people tell those stories of protest on the world’s most visited encyclopedia?

Dr. Jennifer Chun’s course at UCLA explores Protest and Social Change in East Asia. “Protests have taken the form of historic mass mobilizations as well as everyday acts of protest that are often unnoticed and go unrecorded,” the course description reads. “This seminar explores how ordinary people engage in protest to express discontent and bring about social change.”

As part of the course last term, Dr. Chun assigned students to contribute content to Wikipedia about course-related topics. That way, students could delve deep into a topic, solidifying learnings for themselves while at the same time sharing that knowledge with the world. The 16 students in the course added more than 33,000 words to Wikipedia, creating 11 new articles and contributing to 4 existing ones. They also uploaded great images to articles through Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s sister site for media.

One student created an article about the anti-incinerator movement in China. The movement has roots in the 1990s and continues today to reform China’s waste-to-energy practices, which present environmental and health concerns. The Chinese government has continued to construct new incinerators nationwide, but protests against them persist. The Wikipedia article is more than 4,000 words of well-cited information, including the history of the movement, key issues and participants, protest strategies, and government response.

Buses overturned by protesters at the 2005 Huashui protest. Image uploaded and added to the article by Dr. Chun’s student.
Photo by Leah Temper, Daniela del Bene and Joan Martinez-Alier. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In the Huashui protest of 2005, elderly residents in and around Huashui, a town in the Zehjiang Province of China, protested a collection of 13 polluting factories in the Zhuxi Chemical Industrial Park. Despite local government attempts to suppress their efforts, they were successful in shutting down 11 of the 13 factories. If you want to read 3,000 words of well-researched background, head on over to the brand new article that another student in this course created last term.

Just as it’s often everyday people who elicit societal change, everyday people make Wikipedia the great resource that it is. It’s the generous acts of volunteers that make all of that knowledge verifiable and accessible to the public. When students become a part of an ecosystem of knowledge creators and fact-checkers, they feel like what they’re doing matters. And they learn important skills in the process.

Interested in teaching a Wikipedia writing assignment? We’ve got the assignment templates and tools you need to do it! No previous experience with Wikipedia necessary. Visit teach.wikiedu.org for info.

Header image by goljh710, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Thumbnail image by Leonardcisneros, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Production Excellence: April 2019

21:37, Friday, 31 2019 May UTC

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

  • Month in numbers.
  • Highlighted stories.
  • Current problems.

📊 Month in numbers

  • 8 documented incidents. [1]
  • 30 new Wikimedia-prod-error tasks created. [2]
  • 31 Wikimedia-prod-error tasks closed. [3]

The number of incidents in April was relatively high at 8. Both compared to this year (4 in January, 7 in February, 8 in March), and compared to last year (4 in April 2018).

To read more about these incidents, their investigations, and conclusions; check wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Incident_documentation#2019.

As of writing, there are 186 open Wikimedia-prod-error issues (up from 177 last month). [4]

*️⃣ Rehabilitation of MediaWiki-DateFormatter

Following the report of a PHP error that happened when saving edits to certain pages, Tim Starling investigated. The investigation motivated a big commit that brings this class into the modern era. I think this change serves as a good overview of what’s changed in MediaWiki over the last 10 years, and demonstrates our current best practices.

Take a look at Gerrit change 502678 / T220563.

📉 Current problems

Take a look at the workboard and look for tasks that might need your help. The workboard lists known issues, grouped by the week 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):

  • November: 2 issues left (unchanged).
  • December: 4 issues left (unchanged).
  • January: 1 issue got fixed. One last issue remaining (down from 2).
  • February: 2 issues were fixed. Another 3 issues remaining (down from 5).
  • March: 5 issues were fixed. Another 5 issues remaining (down from 10).
  • April: 14 new issues were found last month that remain unresolved.

By steward and software component, issues left from March and April:

  • Anti-Harassment / User blocking: T222170
  • CPT / Revision-backend (Save redirect pages): T220353
  • CPT / Revision-backend (Import a page): T219702
  • CPT / Revision-backend (Export pages for dumps): T220160
  • Growth / Watchlist: T220245
  • Growth / Page deletion (Restore an archived page): T219816
  • Growth / Page deletion (File pages): T222691
  • Growth / Echo (Job execution): T217079
  • Multimedia / File management (Upload mime error): T223728
  • Performance / Deferred-Updates: T221577
  • Search Platform / CirrusSearch (Job execution): T222921
  • ⚠️(Unstewarded) / Page renaming: T223175, T221763, T221595

🎉 Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who has helped by reporting, investigating, or resolving problems in Wikimedia production. Including: @aaron, @ArielGlenn, @Daimona, @dcausse, @EBernhardson, @Jdforrester-WMF, @Joe, @KartikMistry, @Ladsgroup, @Lucas_Werkmeister_WMDE, @MaxSem, @MusikAnimal, @Mvolz, @Niharika, @Nikerabbit, @Pchelolo, @pmiazga, @Reedy, @SBisson, @tstarling, and @Umherirrender.


Until next time,

– Timo Tijhof

🏴‍☠️ “One good deed is not enough to save a man.” “Though it seems enough to condemn him?” “Indeed…


[1] Incidents reports by month and year. –

[2] Tasks created. –

[3] Tasks closed. –

[4] Open tasks. –

Monthly​ ​Report,​ April 2019

15:32, Friday, 31 2019 May UTC


  • Chief Programs Officer LiAnna Davis traveled to Donostia-San Sebastian for the Wikimedia + Education Conference, hosted by the Basque Wikimedians User Group. At the conference, LiAnna connected with other education program leaders from Wikimedia organizations globally, gained insights into how others are solving their programmatic challenges, and shared our learnings.
  • We received a previously pledged $70,000 grant from one of our anonymous funders to support the Wiki Scholars courses we have been running in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration. This generous grant has allowed us to offer scholarships for the courses to people who do not have access to funds to pay for participation, allowing us to meet our equity goals and increase the diversity of expertise on Wikipedia.
  • We launched applications for our latest National Archives Wiki Scholars course. We prepared, recruited participants, and finalized an advanced course, aimed at supporting our National Archives Wiki Scholars alumni as they improve the article about the 19th Amendment on Wikipedia. We also confirmed a new Wiki Scholars course in collaboration with the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. Eleven of their member librarians will participate in a virtual course to learn how to edit Wikipedia and build it into their jobs.


LiAnna traveled to Donostia-San Sebastian for the Wikimedia + Education Conference, hosted by the Basque Wikimedians User Group. At the conference, LiAnna connected with other education program leaders from Wikimedia organizations globally, gained insights into how others are solving their programmatic challenges, and shared our learnings. LiAnna gave one presentation on our Wiki Scholars & Scientists program, and also led two workshops, one on how to scale an education program with a focus on equity and one on how to use the Program & Events Dashboard for an education program. For the latter presentation, she was joined by program leaders from Macedonia, Jordan, Serbia, and Indonesia, who shared how they use the P&E Dashboard for their education programs.

LiAnna presents at the Wikimedia + Education Conference.
Photo by Maialen Andres-Foku, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Spring 2019 in numbers, as of April 30:

  • 399 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (237, or 59%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 8,232 student editors were enrolled
  • 65% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules.
  • Students edited 6,140 articles, created 511 new entries, and added 4.43 million words.

April is one of the busiest months for the Student Program; it’s also one of the most exciting as students begin moving their work into the article main space. This means that Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal and our team of Wikipedia Experts were at the ready to help instructors and students with the myriad of issues that can arise when making work live.

Also, in April, Helaine got the chance to speak at a small gathering of instructors and librarians at Notre Dame de Namur University right here in the Bay Area. Digital literacy is paramount in the minds of educators, and Helaine discussed how the Wikipedia assignment imparts those critical skills to students.

Student work highlights:

Emily Sessa’s Principles of Systematic Biology course at University of Florida wrapped up in April, with the students making substantial, impactful changes to over twenty articles! The article Euptychiina, which is about a group of butterflies, is now much more detailed, with the student expanding the article tenfold. The article for Campos rupestres, an ecoregion in Brazil, is now beautifully illustrated with a dozen images, most of which were taken by the student themselves.

Photograph of a Yasuni caiman uploaded by a student in Emily Sessa’s Principles of Systematic Biology course
Image by Lauren Whitehurst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Drawing of the giant mesquite bug by a student in Joshua Stone’s Invertebrate Zoology course
Image by Willi726, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph of the butterfly species Euptychia westwoodi uploaded by a student in Emily Sessa’s Principles of Systematic Biology course
Image by Agrias aedon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Glass can be a very delicate thing, prone to breaking easily by actions such as clumsy hands dropping an item or an earthquake shaking glassware off the shelf. It’s also something that can be made into objects of incredible beauty and style that carry historical importance. Perhaps that’s why someone in Nathan Shank’s Comp II class at Oklahoma Christian University chose to expand the article on Bakewell Glass. While records for the company are sparse due to many of the records being destroyed by a fire or thrown out when the company closed in 1882, there are some existent records and information that can tell us about how the company was run. Launched by English businessman Benjamin Bakewell in the early 1800s, the business quickly discovered that they had to compete against foreign imports, particularly the ones featuring English glass styles. Undaunted, Bakewell and his workers continued to perfect their craft. They soon became known for being the first to make pieces of entirely cut glass and for producing the first successful glassware containing lead crystal. Bakewell would later try to patent the glass knob, which became a point of consternation with other rival glass makers in the area who had also filed patents for the same item. This company’s works became so well known and sought after that in its heyday people clamored for Bakewell Glass, including three of the country’s Presidents, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. Although the company ultimately closed after 80 years of business, their glassware is still seen as a much sought after item by glass collectors.

Despite the advances of the first wave of feminism in the United States, during the 1960s women still faced several setbacks to true equality, some of which are still present today. Some women, such as Catherine Dorris Norrell, fought against the idea that women were better off in more traditional roles; Norrell herself ran for and won her seat in the House of Representatives, representing Arkansas’s 6th district. Expanded by a student in Heather Yates’s course on Women and US Politics at the University of Central Arkansas, the article now features more information about this politician. A skilled organist and pianist, Norrell was familiar with the world of politics, as her husband William served in the Arkansas Senate during the 1930s, after which point he served Arkansas’s 6th district in the House of Representatives until his death in 1961. It was this same seat that Norrell ran for, defeating four Democratic male candidates, one of whom attacked her integrity by saying that she was doing it for financial benefit. Despite this, Norrel won with 43 percent of the vote, easily defeating her opponents. This made her one of only 20 women serving in the 87th Congress. She served in this role from April 25, 1961, until January 3, 1963, after which point her congressional district was eliminated. She chose not to run against two other incumbents for other districts, as she could not afford the expenses of another campaign. After leaving office Norrell was appointed by President Kennedy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, a role she continued until 1965, after which point she served as director of the United States Department of State Reception Center in Honolulu after being appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson. Upon reaching her retirement, Norrell worked as a church musician in Hawaii until she returned home to Monticello, Arkansas, where she died in 1981.

Whether you’re playing volleyball at the beach or trekking across the Gobi desert, sand can be found in many places. But where does sand come from? Before James Mungall’s Resources of the Earth students took to Wikipedia, its article on Sand was missing this vital information. The student detailed the processes of erosion through which wind and water turn boulders into increasingly smaller fragments. The student also added more information about the economics of sand, noting that sand is a very hot commodity in the United Arab Emirates, where it is used to construct entirely new islands. Over 835 million tons of sand have been used, some of which was imported from Australia, at an estimated cost of 26 billion dollars!

Welding usually evokes thoughts of oxyacetylene torches joining pieces of metal together, but Avraham Benatar’s class focuses on something very different – Welding of Plastics and Composites. Welding plastics requires different tools and techniques; student editors in the class created articles about three of these methods — IR welding, solvent bonding and Implant resistance welding — and substantially improved others, including hot plate welding and extrusion welding. Other student editors in the class worked or related aspects like one who expanded the expanded the filler (materials)) article from a short, three paragraph article into something much longer and more comprehensive.

Editing in hot-button areas can be difficult, because it requires students to make additions to articles that are acceptable to both sides of an issue, and a willingness to relinquish control of your additions. Students in David Harris’ Social Media and Social Movements were able to edit several of these topics successfully. One group of student editors expanded the U.S. national anthem protests (2016–present) article, adding sections discussing the NFL’s 2018 policy change and the role of social media, among others. Other students in the class contributed major expands and improvements to articles like Hashtag activism, inequality in Hollywood, Executive Order 13769 and Protests against Executive Order 13769. Despite working on controversial areas, student editors in this class were able to navigate the process successfully.

Almost all of us could do more to lower our impacts on the environment, but for one reason or another, we don’t. A student in Sarah Turner’s Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science class created an article on barriers to pro-environmental behaviour that does a really nice job of digging into the various reasons we don’t do more. Another student in the class expanded the paternal care article to discuss paternal care in non-human primates, an aspect that was entirely absent from the article. Yet another student in the class almost entirely re-wrote the stream restoration article. Last term, a student in Tagide deCarvalho’s Physiological Basis of Behavior created a short article about primate sociality. A student editor in this class took that short article and turned it into a substantial, well-referenced one.

Did you know that there are fish called lanternfish? These small fish are bioluminescent, with light-producing organs in their tongues! A student in Randi Rotjan’s Marine Biology course created a brand-new article about a species of lanternfish, Neoscopelus macrolepidotus, where readers can go to find out more about these fish with glowing tongues. Another student in Rotjan’s class created an article about a different species of fish, Notothenia neglecta. This Antarctic-dwelling fish produces eight antifreeze proteins in its blood as a special adaptation against the cold!

This image shows a Fire Controlman 3rd Class returning from a visit, board, search, and seizure operation. Uploaded by a student in Tawnya Ravy’s UW1020 M68 class.
Image: US Navy photo by Joshua Keim, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.




This drawing depicting grain stores in Madras during February 1877 was uploaded by a student in Sarah Martin’s Introduction to International Politicsclass.
Image by Mike Davis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Scholars & Scientists Program

Eight Wiki Scientists began improving articles relevant to their fields this month through our Communicating Science on Wikipedia course. Whereas last month participants dove into Wikipedia, learning the basics and starting to make minor edits to articles, this month they have begun making substantial contributions to a range of topics. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The widely accepted standard cosmological model does not view inhomogeneities in matter distribution as sufficient to have a significant effect on our measurements of gravity. Inhomogeneous cosmology contrasts with this view, assuming that inhomogeneities do affect local gravitational forces enough to skew our view of the universe. A Wiki Scientist substantially expanded Wikipedia’s article on this concept, building out the history and nearly tripling the overall size of the article.
  • Another Wiki Scientist has been busy creating several biographies of women in science. Evelyn Roberts (1893-1991) made a number of contributions to research on glass. Susan M. Kauzlarich is Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. Sara E. Skrabalak is the James H. Rudy Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University. Prior to the efforts of this Wiki Scientist, these accomplished scientists were not represented on Wikipedia.
  • Iterations of the analysis framework used by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope‘s Large Area Telescope (LAT) are called “passes.” At launch, LAT data used the Pass 6 framework. Use of Pass 7 began in August 2011, and later moved to Pass 8, but this wasn’t reflected in the article. Now the Pass 8 upgrade and, perhaps more importantly, what kinds of upgrades that entails, is covered in the timeline thanks to a Wiki Scientist.
  • When a Wiki Scientist came across the article about the Okinawa Plate, a minor continental tectonic plate stretching between Taiwan and the Japanese island Kyushu, it was a single short paragraph with one reference which has become outdated, with some incorrect information. The Wiki Scientist started anew, replacing it with eight current references.

Visiting Scholars Program

Wikipedia Visiting Scholars are experienced Wikipedia editors who we have partnered with academic institutions. Through that partnership, the Wikipedians use high-quality academic resources to improve articles in their areas of interest.

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight is one of the most prolific Wikipedia contributors sitewide, and improves articles on notable women writers through her relationship with Northeastern University. A stand-out example this month is Ella Hamilton Durley (1852-1922), an educator, newspaper editor, journalist, and activist who worked at the Des Moines Daily News and a variety of other newspapers and magazines.

Ella Hamilton Durley
Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, is the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the earth. This process, involving precipitation, snowmelt, fog drip, plant uptake, evaporation, etc. is fairly well known. But what happens below the surface? How does water move in the deeper crust and the mantle, and why is it important? Thanks to Andrew Newell, Visiting Scholar at the Deep Carbon Observatory, Wikipedia’s article of the subject is much more comprehensive. Among other things, Andrew more than tripled the number of sources used in the article.

Gary Greenbaum, Visiting Scholar at George Mason University, took the article on astronaut David Scott to A-class. Scott (born 1932) is a retired test pilot who became the seventh person to walk on the Moon as commander of Apollo 15. The “A-class” designation isn’t used all that much these days, but like other processes like Good Article and Featured Article, it involves peer review against a set of strict criteria, and is typically considered in between those other two better-known processes in terms of quality.


In April, the Advancement Team identified several potential new funders, strengthened relationships with existing funders, had meaningful conversations with potential partners and funders, and finalized drafting our annual plan and budget for the next fiscal year.


We launched applications for our latest National Archives Wiki Scholars course. We prepared, recruited participants, and finalized an advanced course, aimed at supporting our National Archives Wiki Scholars alumni as they improve the article about the 19th Amendment on Wikipedia.

We also confirmed a new Wiki Scholars course in collaboration with the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, so 11 of their member librarians will participate in a virtual course to learn how to edit Wikipedia and build it into their jobs.

We continued preparations for our upcoming Wikidata courses and workshops. Samantha and Will attended ACRL to help support the growth of this future program.


We received a previously pledged $70,000 grant from one of our anonymous funders to support the Wiki Scholars courses we have been running in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration. This generous grant has allowed us to offer scholarships for the courses to people who do not have access to funds to pay for participation, allowing us to meet our equity goals and increase the diversity of expertise on Wikipedia. We also received an invitation to submit a proposal to the WITH Foundation for $40,000 to support Wiki Scholars courses related to healthcare access and disability. In our continued search for funding to help us develop a Wikidata program, we had a conversation with Wayne State University to identify potential new funders we could approach together. We also agreed to have a conversation with a Program Officer at the Institute for Museum and Library Services to learn how we could improve our proposal in the next round of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant Program. We also had a conversation with a specialist at the United States Department of Agriculture about funding for a competition or challenge related to Wikidata in America’s heartland. These conversations are ongoing.

In April, we also worked with Alexandria Lockett, Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College and long time supporter of Wiki Education programs, on two joint funding opportunities. We hope these discussions will grow into a grant proposal that allows for a community of instructors to strengthen their relationship to Wikipedia while deepening our pedagogical support for new instructors.

Finally, we were very pleased to welcome Angela DeBarger and Kent McGuire from the William and Flora Hewlett to our office in the Presidio. Angela is the Program Officer for our grant, and Kent is the Director of the Education Program. Most of the Wiki Education staff were able to meet and interact with Angela and Kent, either in person or virtually. We discussed our current grants, our strategy, and our progress in our programs. We also learned more about the strategy for Open Educational Resources at the Hewlett Foundation, and where Wiki Education fits in this strategy going forward.


We featured Dr. Anthony Denzer, an Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering, on our blog this month. He shared how he sells the Wikipedia writing assignment to his students and all the reasons he plans to conduct the assignment again in future terms.

We also featured some guest blogs by alumni of our NARA Wiki Scholars course. Dr. Erin Siodmak writes about what it means to claim the title of “expert” on Wikipedia and in the classroom. And Eilene Lyon walks us through a detailed account of her course experience.

And Wikipedia Expert Elysia Webb shared a personal story this month about how the participants she supports during her work day inspire her to create Wikipedia biographies for women in her free time.

Blog posts:

External media:


In April, we continued work on the two main projects that kicked off in March: a major Salesforce update, and the development of a new ticketing system. Softward Developer Wes Reid has led the Salesforce project, which is proceeding on schedule and will see major Scholars & Scientists-focused features go live in May. Wes also spearheaded the ticketing system project, which went live in early April and now has now replaced the sunsetting Desk.com system. Final refinements will continue into May, but we now have solid base in place that we can rely on without worrying about future vendor changes and third-party service — and one which we can potentially extend to work independently of email for use on the global Programs & Events Dashboard.

This month we also selected three summer interns for Google Summer of Code and Outreachy (whose selections were announced in early May). Amit Joki, a prolific Dashboard contributor since last year’s Google Summer of Code application period, has a wide-ranging project for improving the support for tracking cross-wiki projects. Ujjwal Agrawal, a Android developer who worked on the Wikimedia Commons app last summer, will be creating an Android app for the Dashboard. Khyati Soneji, who implemented a major enhancement of the Dashboard’s ‘Diff Viewer’ interface, has a project aimed at making Programs & Events Dashboard a more useful tool for the #1Lib1Ref campaign, which will improve how the Dashboard tracks citations and references.

Finance & Administration

The total expenses for April were $180,000, ($6K) below the budgeted $186,000. General and Administrative ($2K), Governance +$1K and Technology ($2K) were all very close to budget, mostly due to timing issues, Fundraising was under by ($19K) as there was a decision not to add another member to the department ($10K), reduced travel ($7K), and Indirect Costs associated with a reduction in staff ($2K). Programs was over budget by +$15K, as expected, with the decision not to reduce staff +$13K, increased travel +$7K, while under budget in Professional Service and Communication – combined ($1K) and Indirect Expenses ($4K).

Wiki Education expenses April 2019

The Year-to-date expenses are $1.74M ($260K) under budget of $2.2M. It was known that Fundraising would be under by ($177K) due to a change in plan for professional services ($148K) and deciding not to engage in a cultivation event ($10K) and ($8K)subsequent travel. Programs are under ($33K) due to a few changes in processes – Professional Services ($14K), Travel ($30K), Printing and Reproduction and software($15K), Communication ($6K) and Indirect expenses ($27K) while reporting an overage in Payroll +$55K and furniture and equipment +$4K. General and Administrative are under ($22K) due to a reduction of payroll ($17K), professional fees mostly relating to Audit and Tax prep ($8K), while over +$2K net effect of location and indirect expense allocation. The Board is entirely on budget.

Technology is under budget by ($30K) as there was a change in plans in utilizing the budgeted professional fees ($22K) and payroll ($6K) and additional rent ($8K) and instead increased Furniture and equipment – $4K and Communication +$2K.

Wiki Education expenses April 2019

Office of the ED

Current priorities:

  • Work on the first draft of our Annual Plan & Budget for next fiscal year

Even with Wiki Education being a comparatively small organization, we’ve traditionally taken pride in our ability to evaluate, learn, and plan in a very systematic way. That’s why, in April, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg spent most of his time on coordinating work on next year’s annual plan. Our annual plan documents include a report on our results and learnings of the ongoing fiscal year as well as a comprehensive outline of what the organization is planning to achieve in the year ahead. Work on the annual plan usually starts at the beginning of each calendar year, with April and May being the time of “putting everything together” and ensuring that the different departments are set up in a way that they’ll work well together during the next fiscal year. Work on the annual plan and report is done in a collaborative way across the organization so that everybody on staff has the opportunity to provide input. With Frank currently also filling the role of acting CFO, a lot of his effort in April went into ensuring that the budget for next year accurately ensures that all activities of the organization will be appropriately funded and that both budget and plan narrative reflect the strategic goals set forth in the 3-year-strategic plan approved by the board in June 2018. In order to be able to deliver the first draft of the plan and budget to the board in mid-May, the senior leadership team will come together for an in-person retreat in early May.

In the second week of April, Frank and board secretary Bob Cummings attended the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego. Now in its 10th year, the conference is an annual meeting point for companies in the educational technology sphere. During their trip to San Diego, Bob and Frank had the opportunity to get a better sense of ongoing and future trends in educational technology and they also used the summit for networking with actors in the field.

In April, Frank participated in the ASUGSV conference in San Diego

Also in April, Frank visited the Google headquarters in Mountain View and met with Richard Gringas, Vice President of Google News. Richard and Frank discussed the current trends in journalism and how Wikipedia provides factual information to the general public in the United States in the age of fake news.

In late April, Frank and Jordan Daly from SFBay Financials provided the Audit and Finance Committee members of Wiki Education’s board with a comprehensive report on quarter 3 of fiscal year 2018–19 ahead of a conference call with the full board that was held two days later.

Visitors and guests

  • We hosted Janeen Uzzell, the new COO of Wikimedia Foundation at our office on April 18. This was an informal meet up to get to know Janeen and introduce Wiki Education’s staff members to her and talk about our projects.
  • We also welcomed Angela DeBarger and Kent McGuire from the William and Flora Hewlett to our office on April 25. Angela is the Program Officer for our grant, and Kent is the Director of the Education Program. Most of the Wiki Education staff were able to meet and interact with Angela and Kent. We discussed our current grants, our strategy, and our progress in our programs. We also learned more about the strategy for Open Educational Resources at the Hewlett Foundation, and where Wiki Education fits in this strategy going forward.

Prague Hackathon improves tools for users worldwide

18:51, Thursday, 30 2019 May UTC
Our former Google Summer of Code Intern Pratyush Singhal and current Intern Ujjwal Agrawal working together at the Hackathon.

This past week, Wiki Education’s technical team attended the 2019 Wikimedia Hackathon where the Program & Events Dashboard was featured as a prominent area of focus. While there, Sage Ross & I were able to meet with Czech users, network with other developers working on Wikipedia projects, and build a number of features for both our global tool and classroom tool.

For those who haven’t heard of one before, a hackathon is an opportunity for people across the technology industry to come together and “hack” on a product or project for a set amount of time, i.e. solve known issues and make improvements. At the Wikimedia Hackathon, participants were encouraged to work on improving the new editor experience, mobile contributions to Wikimedia commons, and also features of Wiki Education’s own dashboard.

Hackathon participants focused their efforts on improving the Programs and Events Dashboard, software used by Wikimedia projects worldwide.

Our team started by meeting with Czech Dashboard users and getting feedback on our tool and how it could be improved. The Czech team had a number of great suggestions from increasing the visibility of various admin links and buttons to making public stats more readily available for other developers to use. Our team then worked on these tasks along with other fantastic volunteers such as psinghal20takidelfin, and urbanecm.

All told, our developers and volunteers were able to complete over half of the requests from Czech users in just one weekend! These improvements will help teams across the world using the Dashboard.

Since 2013, the UCSF School of Medicine has offered an elective course on editing health-related Wikipedia articles. The course is one month of full-time work, and is offered 2- 3 times each academic year. The following are reflections by Derek Smith, one student who enrolled in Dr. Amin Azzam’s March 2019 cycle of that course.

Derek Smith.
Photo by Thayermartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

I approached this class as an opportunity to improve public knowledge about a certain topic by contributing to a high impact Wikipedia article. I had already been doing some personal research into the anti-vaccine movement by joining conversations on an anti-vaccine Facebook group and reading some of the commonly cited articles circulated on anti-vaccine forums. My goal was to better understand the anti-vaccine movement and the common pieces of misinformation that are spread among this community. So it was a natural choice to select the “vaccination” Wikipedia page after seeing the article’s importance, as well as room for improvement.

Fortunately, I did not encounter any obstacles editing the page. Even though the page was not locked, there had been minimal editing traffic in the recent past and no new conversation on the talk page for some time. I also did not experience any push back after I began contributing to the page from anyone on either side of the debate. This provided a certain sense of freedom to improve the page with strong, scientific evidence without feeling the need to play political games or put out fires along the way.

I decided to focus the bulk of my efforts on creating and building out a “Safety” section on the article since there previously had been no dedicated conversation about safety. The most significant concern expressed by the anti-vaccine community is regarding safety. I actually found it quite astounding how efficiently misinformation (whether intentional or accidental) spread across Facebook groups and forums within this community. It was evident that many were quick to like/share a post, but would not verify what the post said. A common example was the claim that “vaccines do not undergo safety testing”. This is obviously a false statement, but many would see a post with this message that had a lot of likes and would decide to share that post without looking for themselves to see if there actually were/were not safety studies. From a medical/scientific perspective, this is incredibly frustrating because there is great data supporting safety and efficacy all around us that anyone can access. From a philosophical perspective, it raised interesting questions about freedom of speech. Amazon, Twitter, Pintrest, and many other companies have begun removing anti-vaccination content from users on their sites. In my opinion, these actions are just because although freedom of speech is a right, there are limitations when it comes to jeopardizing the safety of others. It’s a challenge for healthcare professionals to quell the concerns of those who are anti-vaccine because of the burden of having to disprove all the false claims while boiling down decades of research and medical innovation into something both consumable and enlightening for the public. For that reason, it’s more important than ever that healthcare professionals are able to work closely with, or have representation in, the government, the business world, and the tech world.

Over the course of the month in this class, I did have several conversations with friends and family members about Wikipedia and the page I was working on. The most common question was “how hard is it to edit a page?” Even though Wikipedia has been around for almost 20 years and is used by such a large population of the public on a regular basis, many (including myself prior to this class) still don’t understand how to support or contribute to this open source of knowledge. So in having these conversations, I talked about how easy it is to get involved in the Wikipedia community and how transparent the site is. I think the common reaction was excitement that they also have access to improve articles on subjects about which they are passionate. Other questions I was asked focused on my edits of the vaccination page, which was a great opportunity to highlight the safety of vaccines and address some of the common myths of vaccines.

The amount of internet traffic that goes through Wikipedia and the number of people that can be reached with its content is astounding. Between the traffic by patients and providers, the amount of information, and the implications Wikipedia articles have on evolving research, there are few places better than Wikipedia to get involved.

Wiki Education provides free tools and systems of support to higher education instructors of all disciplines who want to teach Wikipedia writing assignments. See teach.wikiedu.org to access those tools today! 

Let’s talk about The North Face defacing Wikipedia

19:04, Wednesday, 29 2019 May UTC

Yesterday, we were disappointed to learn that The North Face, an outdoor recreation product company, and Leo Burnett Tailor Made, an ad agency retained by The North Face, unethically manipulated Wikipedia. They have risked your trust in our mission for a short-lived marketing stunt.

In a video about the campaign, Leo Burnett and The North Face boasted that they “did what no one has done before … we switched the Wikipedia photos for ours” and “[paid] absolutely nothing just by collaborating with Wikipedia.”

The video was later published by AdAge, which said that the agency’s “biggest obstacle” was in manipulating the site “without attracting attention [from] Wikipedia moderators.”

Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation did not collaborate on this stunt, as The North Face falsely claims. In fact, what they did was akin to defacing public property, which is a surprising direction from The North Face. Their stated mission, “unchanged since 1966,” is to “support the preservation of the outdoors”—a public good held in trust for all of us.

As the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation’s vision is a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We also work for the preservation of a public good.

For more than 18 years, Wikipedia volunteers have been writing, perfecting, sourcing, and referencing more than 50 million articles that anyone can access for free on the internet. Every day they fight to protect what you read from bias and misinformation—that is how they have earned your trust.

When The North Face exploits the trust you have in Wikipedia to sell you more clothes, you should be angry. Adding content that is solely for commercial promotion goes directly against the policies, purpose and mission of Wikipedia to provide neutral, fact-based knowledge to the world.

Following the stunt, volunteers removed The North Face’s images (or cropped out the company’s logo) from all of the Wikipedia articles they were added to, and are actively discussing and evaluating the affected articles to ensure they meet Wikipedia’s standards of neutrality and reliable sourcing. We invite companies to learn the established best practices of properly engaging on Wikipedia and support the public good.

Editor’s note: The image at the top of this post features Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park in Catalonia, Spain, and was taken by David Iliff, a volunteer Wikimedia editor. It was removed from Wikipedia by The North Face last month as part of its marketing stunt.

Ontem, ficamos desapontados ao saber que The North Face, uma empresa de produtos para recreação ao ar livre, e a Leo Burnett Tailor Made, uma agência de publicidade contratada pela The North Face, manipularam de forma não ética a Wikipédia. Eles colocaram em risco sua confiança em nossa missão para um golpe de marketing de curta duração.

Num vídeo sobre a campanha, Leo Burnett e The North Face se gabaram de que “fizeram o que ninguém fez antes… trocamos as fotos da Wikipédia pelas nossas”, “pagando absolutamente nada, apenas colaborando com a Wikipédia”.

O vídeo foi publicado mais tarde pela AdAge, que disse que o “maior obstáculo” da agência foi manipular o site “sem atrair a atenção dos moderadores da Wikipédia”.

A Wikipédia e a Fundação Wikimedia não participaram desse golpe, como a The North Face alegou falsamente. Na verdade, o que a empresa e a agência fizeram foi como estragar propriedade pública, o que é uma ação surpreendente para The North Face. Sua missão declarada, “inalterada desde 1966”, é “apoiar a preservação do ar livre” – um bem público mantido em confiança para todos nós.

Como a organização sem fins lucrativos que opera a Wikipédia, a Fundação Wikimedia tem como visão um mundo no qual cada ser humano pode compartilhar livremente a soma de todo o conhecimento. Também trabalhamos pela preservação de um bem público.

Por mais de 18 anos, os voluntários da Wikipédia têm escrito, aperfeiçoado, fundamentado e referenciado mais de 50 milhões de artigos que todo mundo pode acessar de graça na internet. Todos os dias eles lutam para proteger de viés e desinformação o que você lê —é assim que ganharam sua confiança.

Quando The North Face explora a confiança que você tem na Wikipédia para lhe vender mais roupas, você deveria ficar com raiva. Adicionar conteúdo apenas para a promoção comercial vai diretamente contra as políticas, o propósito e a missão da Wikipédia de fornecer para o mundo conhecimento neutro e baseado em fatos.

Voluntários removeram as imagens de The North Face (ou cortaram o logotipo da empresa) de todos os artigos da Wikipédia nas quais haviam sido inseridas e estão ativamente discutindo e avaliando os artigos afetados para garantir que eles atendam aos padrões de neutralidade e confiabilidade da Wikipédia. Convidamos as empresas a aprenderem as melhores práticas estabelecidas para se engajarem corretamente com a Wikipédia e apoiarem o bem público.

Nota do editor: A imagem no topo deste texto apresenta o Parque Nacional Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, na Catalunha, Espanha, e foi tirada por David Iliff, um editor voluntário dos projetos Wikimedia. Foi removida da Wikipédia por The North Face no mês passado como parte de seu golpe de marketing.

Wikipedia is built and edited by the collaborative efforts of volunteers around the world. When it came time to improve the editing features on Wikipedia’s iOS app, we here on the Wikimedia Foundation’s iOS team wanted to ensure that our design process reflected that and the values of our organization, including our design principles.

To accomplish this, we utilized a variety of different open design techniques, including conversations with community members and usability testing, generative research, comparative analysis, and design reviews.

Here’s more about what we did and what we learned from our experiences. We hope that you will also be able to learn from what we did here and apply it to your own product design process.

• • •


Collaborating with the community

At the Wikimedia Hackathon in May 2018, we performed in-person testing of the old iOS editing interface with Wikimedia volunteer editors, the power users who do or could use the feature every day. This helped us understand which parts of the editing workflow they felt could be most improved and what features it would be helpful to introduce into the app. We also participated in an open brainstorming session with the Foundation’s mobile web team, where attendees discussed common use cases and pain points in mobile contribution.

What we learned:

We created a list of requested features and used these findings to gain a better understanding of common use cases for editing on mobile, specifically within the iOS app.

Some of the results were surprising to us. One preconception we held was that users would want or expect to see a MediaWiki-style visual editor within the app. (The visual editor, styled as “VisualEditor,” is a rich-text editing option on most Wikimedia sites.) However, this session showed us that this group of users, who were often fixing small typos or mistakes while on the run, actually desired syntax highlighting for the older “wikitext” editor (similar to an HTML editor).

Overall view of the contribution taxonomy.

Utilizing generative research

Last year, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Abbey Ripstra and James Forrester created a contribution workflow taxonomy. This work, built off the New Editors research project, resulted in an inventory of 88 workflows and 500 steps used for contributing to the English, Czech, Korean, French and Hindi Wikipedias. These were ranked by most commonly utilized workflows and sorted by potential ease of use on mobile.

What we learned:

From this taxonomy and conversations with the researchers, we were able to identify a set of suggested workflows to bring to the iOS app, including expanding an article, copy-editing or re-writing, adding media from Wikimedia Commons, and tagging a page.

The old editing interface on the Wikipedia iOS app. Text from "Red panda" on the English Wikipedia.

Audit of current features and a comparative analysis

There are five different wikitext and visual editors available on Wikimedia projects for desktop and mobile. We studied them to gain a better understanding of which formatting options and syntax input shortcuts were included in current editors and how these options were grouped, and we were able to compile a list of nearly 50 syntax tags from across all the editors.

We then looked outside Wikipedia for input and inspiration in code editors, markdown note taking apps, and document editors to explore how apps in similar feature spaces were making formatting and writing content on a mobile phone easier or more intuitive for their users. This sort of comparative or competitive analysis is helpful for quickly identifying potentially beneficial design patterns. It entailed looking through the workflows and interfaces of around a dozen apps, while noting down their strengths and weaknesses.

What we learned:

These reviews helped the iOS app team to come up with a list of core UI elements and suggested features that we needed to make sure were included in our work on the Wikipedia iOS editor. Specifically, the comparative analysis helped us to make the decision to utilize a toolbar for presenting formatting options, rather than designing a special keyboard for inputting common syntax elements.

The audit of the current editing interfaces laid the groundwork for the information architecture of the header, toolbar, and submenus, including what elements should be grouped together and what contextual menus should be included.

The new editing Interface on the Wikipedia iOS app. Text from "Brooklyn Bridge Park" on the English Wikipedia.

Design, review, implementation, and iteration

After compiling all the information gathered during research and analysis, our findings were shared across the Wikimedia Foundation’s design and iOS app teams and used to facilitate conversations and plan workboards.

Once an initial set of features was established, we began to build out user flows for the core set of features in Sketch. These early flows mapped out actions that users would take and the system’s response. The goal was to get a better understanding of what screens, error states and messaging would be needed in order to successfully guide users through feature flows.

After developing and reviewing flows for each of the core features, we worked on high-fidelity mocks in the vector graphics editor Sketch, which were then used as internal discussion tools or turned into click-through prototypes. On the iOS team, we tend to begin with high-fidelity mocks instead of wireframes, as many of our UI patterns are either standard iOS components or reused from elsewhere in the app for the sake of consistency and ease of implementation.

Throughout this process, work was reviewed both by the Wikimedia design team and the iOS app team during weekly reviews and sync meetings. Once the mocks and flows had successfully completed rounds of review, engineers on the iOS team began to implement the designs. Before releasing these new features publically, a beta version of the app was published for internal and external testing of features.

The beta version of the app was used for usability testing, both with new and existing users. Due to the number of new features that were to be included in the first editing release, we opted to perform two different types of unmoderated usability testing.

We ran a 15-minute test was published on UserTesting.com, in order to test with new users who had no previous experience editing Wikipedia. The goal of this test was to ensure that new users could find their way through the new editing interface and complete common, core tasks.

To test with experienced users, employees of the Wikimedia Foundation who were iOS users completed a similar set of tasks to the UserTesting.com participants, using their iOS devices and the screen recording feature built into iOS 11 and above. This test helped us to uncover bugs that the iOS team and quality assurance had not previously identified and also helped us to learn more about what additional features experienced users were interested in.

Once identified bugs and usability problems were resolved, the iOS team was able to release a new version of the app to the public and begin our continued work on expanding the editing features available within the app.

What’s next?

The iOS team will continue to focus on the needs of the contributors that make Wikipedia. In upcoming releases we’ll make it easier to insert images from Wikimedia Commons, get feedback on your contributions with streamlined user talk pages, and generally work to make the work flows for participating in Wikipedia on the go far more delightful.

As we work through additional user needs and stories, the open design methods highlighted here will be a core part of our work.

How you can help

The Wikimedia Foundation’s iOS team is always looking for ways to make the app better, and we warmly welcome input and feedback from our users. You can contact us via IRC or by emailing us. The public version of the app—with the new wikitext editor!—is available for download from the app store. If you’re interested in testing out the latest features, you can sign up to become a beta tester within the app.

Additionally, as an open source project, we’re always happy to see volunteer contributions. If you are an iOS developer, you can learn about how to get involved on the Wikimedia mobile engineering contribution page.

Carolyn Li-Madeo, User Experience Designer, Audiences Design
Wikimedia Foundation

For ten years now, TenneT TSO has been relying on a BlueSpice MediaWiki from Hallo Welt! GmbH. From a reference book for the network operator’s construction and operating guidelines, the wiki since then has developed into a company-wide encyclopedia with currently around 11,000 articles.

Michael Nawratil can’t suppress a smile as he recalls the time before 2009. “For our construction and operating guidelines, we had a technical manual based on a large number of individual files created with MS Word. Based on that, an external service provider developed a web application which we fed it into our intranet.” This often took a long time. Sometimes you had to turn several loops before the conversion to HTML worked. With every change the same procedure was necessary again, he says.

TenneT TSO – Power grid for 25 million people

Michael Nawratil is responsible for data management in the area of asset strategy at TenneT TSO GmbH. He was there when employees suggested looking for a new system to simplify and accelerate the process described above. The solution: BlueSpice pro, the enterprise version of MediaWiki, developed by Hallo Welt!

TenneT TSO GmbH is a German subsidiary of the Dutch electricity grid operator TenneT. In Germany, the company operates an extra-high voltage grid with a total length of around 12,500 kilometres. The Bayreuth-based company thus indirectly supplies around 25 million people with electrical energy.

Order creation via PDF book function

The development, operation and maintenance of this extensive network infrastructure require certain guidelines, which are now managed in BlueSpice, our corporate wiki. “If a project manager is to carry out a modification measure like the expansion or the construction of a new network node – he will find the relevant technical specifications in our wiki,” explains Nawratil.  Just like answers to recurring questions like “which system design is used for the station type defined in the technical concept at this location, which requirements apply to the equipment to be procured, which design principles are to be taken into account in the planning of the operating building, how are lightning protection/earthing systems to be installed, etc.”

But the functional scope extends beyond that: via the book function of transpedia – as the TenneT Wiki is called – the relevant parts for the individual trades can be extracted (via PDF export) and handed over to the service providers as an attachment when the order is placed. This is a custom function that has been developed during an 18-month-project together with Hallo Welt! The same applies to the TenneT TSO service groups, which, for example, carry out on-site inspections of the plants and support external service providers. They, too, can quickly extract guidelines and requirements tailored to the respective activity from transpedia and make them available as a PDF brochure.


wiki mediawiki bluespice tennet technical documentation
Screenshot from the manual “building & deployment”.

Updates available immediately

Ten years after the introduction of transpedia, TenneT TSO’s expectations of the new system have been fully met. Nawratil: “In the past, changes to the manual, including conversion to HTML, could take three to four months. Now, in principle, any employee can enter changes in our wiki and they are immediately available, provided they have been approved by a responsible technical editor.” In addition to the immense acceleration, the complete costs for the external service provider have also been eliminated.

An occasional pitfall is merely the editor for creating articles. Many employees are used to working with MS Word – with other functions and possibilities. “But when the understanding for the wiki-editor has matured, it works without any problems.”

Flat hierarchies for 3,500 users 

Currently, around 3,500 users – employees of the German TenneT TSO, but also of the Dutch parent company – have access to transpedia’s approximately 11,000 articles, written in German and English.
“We register about 70 to 80 active users per day. In addition to its main function as a technical manual for construction and operating guidelines, transpedia is increasingly developing into a company-wide lexicon with definitions of terms, company information and tips and tricks.

In principle, Tennet TSO relies on flat hierarchies in its transpedia. “Anyone can edit any article,” says Nawratil, who admits that he was initially sceptical. However, this strategy has proved its worth. “Everything about the version history is completely transparent and comprehensible. For protected areas however, such as the fixed set of rules of the construction and operating guidelines, review mechanisms by technical editors were implemented.

helwin, tennet, bluespice
Plattform HelWin alpha & HelWin beta • Source: www.tennet.eu

From external trainings to own multipliers

Depending on requirements and requests by the individual departments there were several training courses from Hallo Welt! in the initial phase of the introduction. Target audience: administrators and technical editors on the one hand, for the broad field of consuming users on the other hand.
“Meanwhile, however, we mainly rely on our own multipliers in the company who pass on their knowledge,” says Nawratil, who himself conducts employee training courses at regular intervals. Only the BlueSpice user manual is continuously supervised by Hallo Welt!.

Currently the update to BlueSpice 3 is pending. “We have also discussed whether we should extend the release procedure a little and introduce a four-eyes principle. However, Nawratil says that this is still under discussion. The beauty of the system is its adaptability. “You don’t have to take anything as it is, but you can adapt it to your individual needs. In that respect the cooperation with Hallo Welt! is uncomplicated and smooth.” (sa – 05/2019)


More about technical documentation with BlueSpice:


TenneT TSO on YouTube:


TenneT TSO GmbH
Bernecker Straße 70
95448 Bayreuth

Phone: + 49 (0) 921 – 507 40-0
Fax: +49 (0) 921 – 507 40-4095
E-Mail: info@tennet.eu
Website: www.tennet.eu


Your contact partner on the subject of success stories with Hallo Welt! GmbH:

David Schweiger
Telephone: +49 (0)941 660 800


Interested in BlueSpice pro? For a 30 day trial click here:

The post From the technical manual to the corporate dictionary appeared first on BlueSpice Blog.

Tech News issue #22, 2019 (May 27, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 27 2019 May UTC
TriangleArrow-Left.svgprevious 2019, week 22 (Monday 27 May 2019) nextTriangleArrow-Right.svg
Other languages:
Bahasa Indonesia • ‎English • ‎dansk • ‎español • ‎français • ‎polski • ‎português do Brasil • ‎suomi • ‎svenska • ‎čeština • ‎русский • ‎српски / srpski • ‎українська • ‎עברית • ‎العربية • ‎فارسی • ‎中文 • ‎日本語
At the "Wetenschap 2030 / Evolutie of revolutie" conference in The Hague it was all about excellence. Confusion set in when the question was raised: what is excellence.

Two big Dutch science funding organisations invited young scientist to consider scientific practice in 2030. It was a great gathering, more than half of the public were women, one prominent speaker told them she had two children and we were reminded that a more diverse team is a more successful team as shown in a recent paper.

One of the introductions set the tone. In science itself there is no room for all of us. It would take exponential funding, funding that is not available. In a few panels the subject of the daily practice was discussed and indeed, it is cut throat. Many people do not share expertise, results; there is no common good, everything to win in a rat race to move up the ladder towards tenure. Some say these practices are on the way out, others indicate that it depends on the field you research.

And then there is this guy from Europe who says, only excellence will get you funding from the EU..

What helps; scientists that may indicate what their primary concern is to be, what they want to be evaluated on; education, research.. Counter intuitively, such focused reviews have the effect that results outside the track benefit as well. In this way it is the university itself who finds excellence and improves its processes.

Another perspective on excellence; what value does research offer. Not to the scholars, nor the universities but to the ones bearing the burden of the costs and expect results. Are these results truly the best that can be achieved, does it reflect cooperation, are the numbers reproducible and the papers readable. For Europe to fund; the proposal must have merit.

My take away message; all those scientists that do not collaborate, back stab and think it acceptable because that is the way it is done, they do not deserve my taxeuro going forward towards 2030. The good news; thanks to Open Science and everything related change is underway but we are not there yet. Important: it does not follow that getting funding is a sign of quality, there is too little money to go around for all proposals with merit.

weeklyOSM 461

11:27, Saturday, 25 2019 May UTC



Can you escape from the traffic in a city? 1 | © Hans Hack map data © OpenStreetMap



  • For several weeks now the desirable contributions in the OSM user blogs have sunk under a deluge of spam. There are people who are calling for countermeasures, such as forced moderation for all new user accounts. alexkemp, who has been involved with forum spam for some time, suspects that the current wave of spam is just the beginning.
  • OSM Foundation Japan had a meetup (ja) between board members and local mappers to build a better community. Many proposals for improvements were made holding mapping parties and the promotion of OSM.
  • Ilya Zverev in his blog “SHTOSM” ponders (automatic translation) why anyone in the 21st century would need paper maps.


  • As Laura Mugeha has tweeted, SotM Africa, which will take place on 22-24 November 2019 in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast, needs more workshop proposals.
  • So far only one of talks for the State of the Map US has been submitted by a woman. The organisers are determined to change that, though the target of more than 50 percent of all talks to be submitted by women appears challenging.


  • Heidelberg University’s GIScience Research Group has used the example of health-related amenities to explore the development of OSM data over time. The results provide deep insight into mapping patterns such as the saturation of an area with a given tag, spin-offs in the form of tag diversification such as amenity=hospital -> amenity=clinic and the erratically increasing usage of the tag as usually seen when a country gets into the scope of the humanitarian sector.


  • Can you escape from traffic in a city? Hans Hack has created (de) a map for Berlin showing the places which are farthest away from a road.
  • The public Swiss geoportal, which has recently introduced an OSM-based vector tile test map with customisable map style, has updated its map with the Mapbox rendering engine. Jeff Konnen from Luxembourg announced that geoportail.lu will “copy” this. Gonza from Argentina reports in a tweet that mapa.ign.gob.ar has also integrated OSM into its base map.
  • Greenpeace has created a map of air quality in Russian cities. It uses OpenStreetMap as a basemap.

Open Data

  • …Almost a year ago Tolyatti city administration (Russia) made its official GIS-portal “EMGIS” open to everybody. The portal is now under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. Moreover, the OSM community received permission (automatic translation) to use the portal.


  • OSGeoLive 13.0 has reached Alpha status and the developers are looking for volunteer testers. OSGeoLive is a Linux Live distribution, which is equipped with current Open Source GIS programs.
  • Peermaps wants to become a distributed, offline-friendly alternative to commercial map providers such as Google Maps. It plans to use peer-to-peer network techniques to share the hosting of files. The project has received funding to build an initial prototype which will display a regularly updated OSM-based map.
  • Russian OSMers Alexander Pankratov and Alexander Istomin have developed a JOSM map style “Building_Levels_Labels” for highlighting objects without specified “floors” attributes. The map style has been translated into English.

Did you know …

  • … Pascal’s blog post #100? Pascal’s tools are an integral part of the OSM ecosystem.
  • … the Russian company NextGIS developed an interactive map showing the dynamics of the political borders of Russia and its predecessors. Also they share insights about how this map was created.
  • … how to tag shops offering vegan, halal, kosher or gluten-free products? The keys diet:vegan, diet:halal, diet:kosher, diet:gluten_free and several more can be added to mark them.
  • Long-serving OSMers may still remember how the Maxheight map started in 2012. In its current form, the map not only shows worldwide missing maxheight= tags, but also provides overlays for other truck-related tags. The documentation on the Wiki describes the various ways you can help improve the map.

Other “geo” things

  • In the Strike Tracker project, Amnesty International used satellite imagery and crowdsourcing to analyse air strikes on the Iraqi city of Raqqa. More than 3000 volunteers collected the data; an analysis website including an OSM map summarises the results.
  • Mapillary’s #CompleteTheMap is back. The challenge kicks off in June—read more in the Mapillary blog.
  • Microsoft follows Niantic, who has published the augmented reality games Ingress and Pokémon GO, and announced an AR version of Minecraft, called Minecraft Earth. The announcement had extensive press coverage, for instance in Wired and CNN. The game is expected to use Microsoft’s Azure Spatial Anchors , which is Azure’s cloud system combined with OpenStreetMap data, rather than GPS for positioning. It remains to be seen what impact the game will have on OSM.
  • Garmin launched a device with an OSM-based topo map pre-installed. The Garmin Overlander comes with a proprietary road navigation and topographic OSM map and costs €699. OSM as a map source is only mentioned in the German press release (de) (automatic translation).

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2019-05-23 germany
Montrouge Rencontre mensuelle de Montrouge et alentours 2019-05-23 france
Vienna 62. Wiener Stammtisch 2019-05-23 österreich
Greater Vancouver area Metrotown mappy Hour 2019-05-24 canada
Strasbourg Rencontre périodique de Strasbourg 2019-05-25 france
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2019-05-27 germany
Rome Incontro mensile 2019-05-27 italy
Salt Lake City SLC Map Night 2019-05-28 united states
Mannheim Mannheimer Mapathons 2019-05-28 germany
Zurich Missing Maps Mapathon Zurich 2019-05-29 switzerland
Saarbrücken Mapathon OpenSaar/Ärzte ohne Grenzen/EuYoutH_OSM/Libre_Graphics_Meeting_2019 2019-05-29 germany
Montpellier Réunion mensuelle 2019-05-29 france
Düsseldorf Stammtisch 2019-05-29 germany
Bratislava Missing Maps mapathon Bratislava #6 at Faculty of Civil Engineering Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava in Bratislava 2019-05-30 slovakia
Joué-lès-Tours Stand OSM sur la fête du vélo 2019-06-01 france
Taipei OSM x Wikidata #5 2019-06-03 taiwan
Toronto Toronto Mappy Hour 2019-06-03 canada
London Missing Maps Mapathon 2019-06-04 united kingdom
Essen Mappertreffen 2019-06-05 germany
Toulouse Rencontre mensuelle 2019-06-05 france
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2019-06-05 germany
Bochum Mappertreffen 2019-06-06 germany
Mannheim Mannheimer Mapathons 2019-06-06 germany
Nantes Réunion mensuelle 2019-06-06 france
Dresden Stammtisch Dresden 2019-06-06 germany
Reutti Stammtisch Ulmer Alb 2019-06-06 germany
Dortmund Mappertreffen 2019-06-07 germany
Biella Incontro mensile 2019-06-08 italia
Rennes Réunion mensuelle 2019-06-10 france
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-06-10 france
Lyon Rencontre mensuelle pour tous 2019-06-11 france
Salt Lake City SLC Mappy Hour 2019-06-11 united states
Zurich OSM Stammtisch Zurich 2019-06-11 switzerland
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-06-11 france
Hamburg Hamburger Mappertreffen 2019-06-11 germany
Leoben Stammtisch Obersteiermark 2019-06-13 austria
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2019-06-13 germany
Montpellier State of the Map France 2019 2019-06-14-2019-06-16 france
Angra do Heroísmo Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-06-24-2019-06-29 portugal
Minneapolis State of the Map US 2019 2019-09-06-2019-09-08 united states
Edinburgh FOSS4GUK 2019 2019-09-18-2019-09-21 united kingdom
Heidelberg Erasmus+ EuYoutH_OSM Meeting 2019-09-18-2019-09-23 germany
Heidelberg HOT Summit 2019 2019-09-19-2019-09-20 germany
Heidelberg State of the Map 2019 (international conference) 2019-09-21-2019-09-23 germany
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast

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, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, Silka123, SunCobalt, TheSwavu, derFred, jinalfoflia, keithonearth.

Happy Africa Day!

To celebrate this, I am happy to make a little announcement: It is now possible to write in all the Wikipedias of all the languages of Africa, with all the special letters that are difficult to find on common keyboards. You can do it on any computer, without buying any new equipment, installing any software, or changing operating system preferences. Please see the full list of languages and instructions.

This release completes a pet project that I began a year ago: to make it easy to write in all the languages of Africa in which there is a Wikipedia or an active Wikipedia Incubator.

Most of these languages are written in the Latin alphabet, but with addition of many special letters such as Ŋ, Ɛ, Ɣ, and Ɔ, or letters with accents such as Ũ or Ẹ̀. These letters are hard to type on common keyboards, and in my meetings with African people who would write in Wikipedia in their language this is very often brought up as a barrier to writing confidently.

Some of these languages have keyboard layouts that are built into modern operating systems, but my experience showed me that to enable them one has to dig deep in the operating system preferences, which is difficult for many people, and even after enabling the right thing in the preferences, some keyboards are still wrong and hard to use. I hope that this will be built into future operating system releases in a more convenient way, just as it is for languages such as French or Russian, but in the mean time I provide this shortcut.

The new software released this week to all Wikimedia sites and to translatewiki.net makes it possible to type these special characters without installing any software or pressing any combining keys such as Ctrl or Alt. In most cases you simply need to press the tilde character (~) followed by the letter that is similar to the one you want to type. For example:

  • Ɓ is written using ~B
  • Ɛ is written using ~E
  • Ɔ is written using ~O
    … and so on.

Some of these languages are written in their own unique writing systems. N’Ko and Vai keyboards were made by myself, mostly based on ideas from freely licensed keyboard layouts by Keyman. (A keyboard for the Amharic language, also written with its own script, has had keyboards made by User:Elfalem for a while. I am mentioning it here for completeness.)

This release addresses only laptop and desktop computers. On mobile phones and tablets most of these languages can be typed using apps such as Gboard (also in iPhone), SwiftKey (also on iPhone), or African Keyboard. If you aren’t doing this already, try these apps on your phone, and start exchanging messages with your friends and family in your language, and writing in Wikipedia in your language on your phone! If you are having difficulties doing this, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help.

The technology used to make this is the MediaWiki ULS extension and the jquery.ime package.

I would like to thank all the people who helped:

  • Mahuton Possoupe (Benin), with whom I made the first of these keyboards, for the Fon language, at the Barcelona Hackathon.
  • Kartik Mistry, Santhosh Thottingal (India), Niklas Laxström (Finland), and Petar Petkovich (Serbia), who reviewed the numerous code patches that I made for this project.

This is quite a big release or code. While I made quite a lot of effort to test everything, code may always have bugs: missing languages, wrong or missing letters, mistakes in documentation, and so on. I’ll be happy to hear any feedback and to fix the bugs.

And now it’s all up to you! I hope that these keyboard layouts make it easier for all of you, African Wikimedians, to write in your languages, to write and translate articles, and share more knowledge!

Again, happy Africa day!

The full list of languages for which there is now a keyboard in ULS and jquery.ime:

  • Afrikaans
  • Akan
  • Amharic
  • Bambara
  • Berber
  • Dagbani
  • Dinka
  • Ewe
  • Fula
  • Fon
  • Ga
  • Hausa
  • Igbo
  • Kabiye
  • Kabyle
  • Kikuyu
  • Luganda
  • Lingala
  • Malagasy
  • N’Ko
  • Sango
  • Sotho
  • Northern Sotho
  • Koyraboro Senni Songhay
  • Tigrinya
  • Vai
  • Venda
  • Wolof
  • Yoruba
Conway Hall library – image by Jwslubbock CC BY-SA 4.0

Last weekend Conway Hall in central London hosted a Wikipedia editathon to improve pages on Wikipedia about 19th century pamphleteers and the subjects they wrotr about. Hundreds of Victorian-era pamphlets have been digitised and placed on CC0 licenses by Conway Hall library, and these are now being uploaded to Commons at the Category:Conway Hall digital collections.

These pamphlets are still being added, and if you want to help us improve Wikipedia by embedding them in relevant Wikipedia pages, you should also check out the GLAM/Conway Hall page for links to articles and subject areas on Wikipedia that need improving. Many of the pamphleteers who authored the publications have Wikipedia pages, and the pamphlets themselves often show the late 19th century thinking around subjects like religion, secularism, politics and society.

Conway Hall hosts lots of interesting events and talks on politics, music and history, all with a progressive, forwardthinking attitude to improving society. We are very grateful that the library has decided to publish its collection of digitised pamphlets on CC licenses so that they can be used on Wikipedia, and this will hopefully lead to a much wider audience for their collection.

There are lots of interesting pamphlets in the Conway Hall collection, exploring 19th century attitudes to railway nationalisation, Siam (Thailand), secularism, socialism and many other topics. There is still a list of articles in the GLAM page listed above that could be created on particular pamphleteers, and there are articles on pamphleteers like Gustav Zerffi, Charles Voysey and Annie Besant. which could have their newly uploaded pamphlets inserted into the articles from Commons.

We hope to do further editathons with Conway Hall library in future, and Alicia Chilcott from the library says that “we are planning to produce a special issue of our Ethical Record journal, focusing on the project and the various workshops that we have run as a part of it”.

We hope that the pamphlets will continue to be embedded in relevant articles on Wikipedia so they can help readers understand the progress of late 19th century thought on social and religious issues. If you improve an article with a document from Conway Hall’s collection, why not get in touch and tell us about it?

Shocking tales from ornithology

07:19, Friday, 24 2019 May UTC
Manipulative people have always made use of the dynamics of ingroups and outgroups to create diversions from bigger issues. The situation is made worse when misguided philosophies are peddled by governments that put economics ahead of ecology. The pursuit of easily gamed targets such as GDP is preferrable to ecological amelioration since money is a man-made and controllable entity. Nationalism, pride, other forms of chauvinism, the creation of enemies and the magnification of war threats are all effective tools in the arsenal of Machiavelli for use in misdirecting the masses when things go wrong. One might imagine that the educated, especially scientists, would be smart enough not to fall into these traps, but cases from history dampen hopes for such optimism.

There is a very interesting book in German by Eugeniusz Nowak called "Wissenschaftler in turbulenten Zeiten" (or scientists in turbulent times) that deals with the lives of ornithologists, conservationists and other naturalists during the Second World War. Preceded by a series of recollections published in various journals, the book was published in 2010 but I became aware of it only recently while translating some biographies into the English Wikipedia. I have not yet actually seen the book (it has about five pages on Salim Ali as well) and have had to go by secondary quotations in other content. Nowak was a student of Erwin Stresemann (with whom the first chapter deals with) and he writes about several European (but mostly German, Polish and Russian) ornithologists and their lives during the turbulent 1930s and 40s. Although Europe is pretty far from India, there are ripples that reached afar. Incidentally, Nowak's ornithological research includes studies on the expansion in range of the collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto) which the Germans called the Türkentaube, literally the "Turkish dove", a name with a baggage of cultural prejudices.

Nowak's first paper of "recollections" notes that: [he] presents the facts not as accusations or indictments, but rather as a stimulus to the younger generation of scientists to consider the issues, in particular to think “What would I have done if I had lived there or at that time?” - a thought to keep as you read on.

A shocker from this period is a paper by Dr Günther Niethammer on the birds of Auschwitz (Birkenau). This paper (read it online here) was published when Niethammer was posted to the security at the main gate of the concentration camp. You might be forgiven if you thought he was just a victim of the war. Niethammer was a proud nationalist and volunteered to join the Nazi forces in 1937 leaving his position as a curator at the Museum Koenig at Bonn.
The contrast provided by Niethammer who looked at the birds on one side
while ignoring inhumanity on the other provided
novelist Arno Surminski with a title for his 2008 novel -
Die Vogelwelt von Auschwitz
- ie. the birdlife of Auschwitz.

G. Niethammer
Niethammer studied birds around Auschwitz and also shot ducks in numbers for himself and to supply the commandant of the camp Rudolf Höss (if the name does not mean anything please do go to the linked article / or search for the name online).  Upon the death of Niethammer, an obituary (open access PDF here) was published in the Ibis of 1975 - a tribute with little mention of the war years or the fact that he rose to the rank of Obersturmführer. The Bonn museum journal had a special tribute issue noting the works and influence of Niethammer. Among the many tributes is one by Hans Kumerloeve (starts here online). A subspecies of the common jay was named as Garrulus glandarius hansguentheri by Hungarian ornithologist Andreas Keve in 1967 after the first names of Kumerloeve and Niethammer. Fortunately for the poor jay, this name is a junior synonym of  G. g. anatoliae described by Seebohm in 1883.

Meanwhile inside Auschwitz, the Polish artist Wladyslaw Siwek was making sketches of everyday life  in the camp. After the war he became a zoological artist of repute. Unfortunately there is very little that is readily accessible to English readers on the internet (beyond the Wikipedia entry).
Siwek, artist who documented life at Auschwitz
before working as a wildlife artist.
Hans Kumerloeve
Now for Niethammer's friend Dr Kumerloeve who also worked in the Museum Koenig at Bonn. His name was originally spelt Kummerlöwe and was, like Niethammer, a doctoral student of Johannes Meisenheimer. Kummerloeve and Niethammer made journeys on a small motorcyle to study the birds of Turkey. Kummerlöwe's political activities started earlier than Niethammer, joining the NSDAP (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei = The National Socialist German Workers' Party)  in 1925 and starting the first student union of the party in 1933. Kummerlöwe soon became a member of the Ahnenerbe, a think tank meant to provide "scientific" support to the party-ideas on race and history. In 1939 he wrote an anthropological study on "Polish prisoners of war". At the museum in Dresden that he headed, he thought up ideas to promote politics and he published them in 1939 and 1940. After the war, it is thought that he went to all the European libraries that held copies of this journal (Anyone interested in hunting it should look for copies of Abhandlungen und Berichte aus den Staatlichen Museen für Tierkunde und Völkerkunde in Dresden 20:1-15.) and purged them of his article. According to Nowak, he even managed to get his hands (and scissors) on copies held in Moscow and Leningrad!  

The Dresden museum was also home to the German ornithologist Adolf Bernhard Meyer (1840–1911). In 1858, he translated the works of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace into German and introduced evolutionary theory to a whole generation of German scientists. Among Meyer's amazing works is a series of avian osteological works which uses photography and depicts birds in nearly-life-like positions (wonder how it was done!) - a less artistic precursor to Katrina van Grouw's 2012 book The Unfeathered Bird. Meyer's skeleton images can be found here. In 1904 Meyer was eased out of the Dresden museum because of rising anti-semitism. Meyer does not find a place in Nowak's book.

Nowak's book includes entries on the following scientists: (I keep this here partly for my reference as I intend to improve Wikipedia entries on several of them as and when time and resources permit. Would be amazing if others could pitch in!).
In the first of his "recollection papers" (his 1998 article) Nowak writes about the reason for writing them - noticing that the obituary for Prof. Ernst Schäfer  was a whitewash that carefully avoided any mention of his wartime activities. And this brings us to India. In a recent article in Indian Birds, Sylke Frahnert and coauthors have written about the bird collections from Sikkim in the Berlin natural history museum. In their article there is a brief statement that "The  collection  in  Berlin  has  remained  almost  unknown due  to  the  political  circumstances  of  the  expedition". This might be a bit cryptic for many but the best read on the topic is Himmler's Crusade: The true story of the 1939 Nazi expedition into Tibet (2009) by Christopher Hale. Hale writes about Himmler: 
He revered the ancient cultures of India and the East, or at least his own weird vision of them.
These were not private enthusiasms, and they were certainly not harmless. Cranky pseudoscience nourished Himmler’s own murderous convictions about race and inspired ways of convincing others...
Himmler regarded himself not as the fantasist he was but as a patron of science. He believed that most conventional wisdom was bogus and that his power gave him a unique opportunity to promulgate new thinking. He founded the Ahnenerbe specifically to advance the study of the Aryan (or Nordic or Indo-German) race and its origins
From there Hale goes on to examine the motivations of Schäfer and his team. He looks at how much of the science was politically driven. Swastika signs dominate some of the photos from the expedition - as if it provided for a natural tie with Buddhism in Tibet. It seems that Himmler gave Schäfer the opportunity to rise within the political hierarchy. The team that went to Sikkim included Bruno Beger. Beger was a physical anthropologist but with less than innocent motivations although that would be much harder to ascribe to the team's other pursuits like botany and ornithology. One of the results from the expedition was a film made by the entomologist of the group, Ernst Krause - Geheimnis Tibet - or secret Tibet - a copy of this 1 hour and 40 minute film is on YouTube. At around 26 minutes, you can see Bruno Beger creating face casts - first as a negative in Plaster of Paris from which a positive copy was made using resin. Hale talks about how one of the Tibetans put into a cast with just straws to breathe from went into an epileptic seizure from the claustrophobia and fear induced. The real horror however is revealed when Hale quotes a May 1943 letter from an SS officer to Beger - ‘What exactly is happening with the Jewish heads? They are lying around and taking up valuable space . . . In my opinion, the most reasonable course of action is to send them to Strasbourg . . .’ Apparently Beger had to select some prisoners from Auschwitz who appeared to have Asiatic features. Hale shows that Beger knew the fate of his selection - they were gassed for research conducted by Beger and August Hirt.
SS-Sturmbannführer Schäfer at the head of the table in Lhasa

In all, Hale makes a clear case that the Schäfer mission had quite a bit of political activity underneath. We find that Sven Hedin (Schäfer was a big fan of him in his youth. Hedin was a Nazi sympathizer who funded and supported the mission) was in contact with fellow Nazi supporter Erica Schneider-Filchner and her father Wilhelm Filchner in India, both of whom were interned later at Satara, while Bruno Beger made contact with Subhash Chandra Bose more than once. [Two of the pictures from the Bundesarchiv show a certain Bhattacharya - who appears to be a chemist working on snake venom at the Calcutta snake park - one wonders if he is Abhinash Bhattacharya.]

My review of Nowak's book must be uniquely flawed as  I have never managed to access it beyond some online snippets and English reviews.  The war had impacts on the entire region and Nowak's coverage is limited and there were many other interesting characters including the Russian ornithologist Malchevsky  who survived German bullets thanks to a fat bird observation notebook in his pocket! In the 1950's Trofim Lysenko, the crank scientist who controlled science in the USSR sought Malchevsky's help in proving his own pet theories - one of which was the ideas that cuckoos were the result of feeding hairy caterpillars to young warblers!

Issues arising from race and perceptions are of course not restricted to this period or region, one of the less glorious stories of the Smithsonian Institution concerns the honorary curator Robert Wilson Shufeldt (1850 – 1934) who in the infamous Audubon affair made his personal troubles with his second wife, a grand-daughter of Audubon, into one of race. He also wrote such books as America's Greatest Problem: The Negro (1915) in which we learn of the ideas of other scientists of the period like Edward Drinker Cope! Like many other obituaries, Shufeldt's is a classic whitewash.  

Even as recently as 2015, the University of Salzburg withdrew an honorary doctorate that they had given to the Nobel prize winning Konrad Lorenz for his support of the political setup and racial beliefs. It should not be that hard for scientists to figure out whether they are on the wrong side of history even if they are funded by the state. Perhaps salaried scientists in India would do well to look at the legal contracts they sign with their employers, especially the state, more carefully. The current rules make government employees less free than ordinary citizens but will the educated speak out or do they prefer shackling themselves. 

  • Mixing natural history with war sometimes led to tragedy for the participants as well. In the case of Dr Manfred Oberdörffer who used his cover as an expert on leprosy to visit the borders of Afghanistan with entomologist Fred Hermann Brandt (1908–1994), an exchange of gunfire with British forces killed him although Brandt lived on to tell the tale.
  • Apparently Himmler's entanglement with ornithology also led him to dream up "Storchbein Propaganda" - a plan to send pamphlets to the Boers in South Africa via migrating storks! The German ornithologist Ernst Schüz quietly (and safely) pointed out the inefficiency of it purely on the statistics of recoveries!

At the Wikimedia Foundation, we believe that free access to knowledge and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights. We believe that when people have good information, they can make better decisions. Free access to information creates economic opportunity and empowers people to build sustainable livelihoods. Knowledge makes our societies more informed, more connected, and more equitable.

Over the past two years, we have seen governments censor Wikipedia, including in Turkey and most recently in China, denying these rights to millions of people around the world.

Today, we proceed to the European Court of Human Rights, an international court which hears cases of human rights violations within the Council of Europe, to ask the Court to lift the more than two-year block of Wikipedia in Turkey. We are taking this action as part of our continued commitment to knowledge and freedom of expression as fundamental rights for every person.

This is not a step we have taken lightly; we are doing so only after continued and exhaustive attempts to lift the block through legal action in the Turkish courts, good faith conversations with the Turkish authorities, and campaigns to raise awareness of the block and its impact on Turkey and the rest of the world.

Despite these efforts, Wikipedia continues to be blocked in Turkey after more than two years.

This news was announced in a press call with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director Katherine Maher, Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales, and the Foundation’s Legal Director Stephen LaPorte.

“We believe that information—knowledge—makes the world better. That when we ask questions, get the facts, and are able to understand all perspectives on an issue, it allows us to build the foundation for a more just and tolerant society,” said Katherine Maher. “Wikipedia is a global resource that everyone can be actively part of shaping. It is through this collective process of writing and rewriting, and debate that Wikipedia becomes more useful, more comprehensive, and more representative. It is also through this process that we, a global society, establish a more comprehensive consensus on how we see the world.”

In our application to the Strasbourg Court, we argue that the blanket ban of Wikipedia violates fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention. Moreover, these freedoms have been denied to the more than 80 million people of Turkey who have been impacted most directly by the block, and to the rest of the world, which has lost the nation’s rich perspectives in contributing, debating, and adding to Wikipedia’s more than 50 million articles.

Over the past two years, the Wikimedia Foundation has done all that it possibly can to lift the block of Wikipedia in Turkey. The order blocking Wikipedia referred to only two articles, which have continued to be open for improvement by anyone and edited by volunteers around the world despite the block. It is unclear what, if any, concerns remain. The block continues despite numerous good faith discussions with Turkish authorities to understand their views, including through an open letter to the Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime, and Communication, to discuss Wikipedia’s open editing model, values, and strong opposition to impermissible censorship of any kind.

Immediately following the block, we filed our case in the domestic courts, requesting that Wikipedia be unblocked on the grounds that such a block violated the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The lower courts have upheld the block, and there has been no response from Turkey’s highest court in the two years since we appealed the lower court’s decision. Consequently, we believe that this step is necessary.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is the international court created by the European Convention on Human Rights to ensure the enforcement and implementation of the human rights provisions set out in the Convention. Turkey is a long-standing party to the Convention, and the fundamental rights provided by the Convention are guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution, which makes the interference with human rights in this case all the more devastating. Moreover, internet blocks and censorship are a growing concern for Council of Europe states, making this case all the more pressing for consideration by the court.

Today, Wikipedia is one of the most widely-accessed sources of knowledge in the world. It is read 6,000 times every second, and our articles are edited, improved, and debated daily by a community of more than 250,000 volunteers from across the globe. More than 85 percent of those articles are in languages other than English, which includes the Turkish Wikipedia’s more than 300,000 articles, written by Turkish-speaking volunteers for Turkish-speaking people. These volunteers make good-faith efforts to cover all sides of a given topic, even controversial ones, to ensure people can understand topics fully and transparently.

Wikipedia is better, richer, and more reflective of the world when more people can engage with, improve, and edit its content. When one nation is denied access to the global conversation on Wikipedia, the entire world is poorer.

The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to upholding knowledge as a fundamental human right, to be enjoyed and protected for everyone, for our millions of users around the world. We announce our decision to file our application in the European Court of Human Rights today as a reflection of that commitment.

The Wikimedia Foundation is represented by Can Yeginsu, who leads a team of barristers practicing from 4 New Square Chambers in London, and Gonenc Gurkaynak at ELIG Gurkaynak Attorneys-at-Law in Istanbul.

Wikimedia Vakfı olarak bilgiye özgür erişimin ve ifade özgürlüğünün temel insan hakları olduğuna inanıyoruz. İnsanların iyi bilgiye sahip olduklarında daha iyi kararlar alabileceklerine inanıyoruz. Bilgiye özgür erişim ekonomik fırsatlar yaratıyor ve insanların sürdürülebilir geçim kaynakları oluşturmalarını sağlıyor. Bilgi, toplumlarımızın daha bilinçli, daha bağlantılı ve daha adil olmasını sağlıyor.

Geçtiğimiz iki yıl boyunca, Türkiye ve en son Çin de dahil olmak üzere, hükümetlerin Vikipedi’ye sansür uygulayarak dünya çapında milyonlarca insanı bu haklarından mahrum bıraktıklarını gördük.

Bugün, Türkiye’de iki yılı aşkın süredir devam eden Vikipedi erişim engelinin kaldırılmasını talep etmek için uluslararası bir mahkeme olan ve Avrupa Konseyi‘ndeki insan hakları ihlalleri davalarına bakan Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi‘ne başvuru yoluna gidiyoruz. Bu başvuruyu her insan için temel haklar olan bilgi ve ifade özgürlüğüne bağlılığımızın bir parçası olarak yapmaktayız.

Bu hafife aldığımız bir adım değil. Aksine bu adımı, engeli kaldırmaya yönelik Türk mahkemelerindeki devamlı ve geniş kapsamlı girişimlerimiz, Türk makamlarıyla yapılan iyi niyet görüşmeleri ve erişim engeline ve engelin hem Türkiye hem de dünyanın geri kalanına etkisi üzerinde farkındalık yaratmaya yönelik düzenlenen kampanyalarımız sonrasında atıyoruz.

Bu çabalara rağmen, Vikipedi iki yılı aşkın bir süredir Türkiye’de erişime engelli kalmaya devam etmekte.

• • •

Bu haber, Wikimedia Vakfı’nın başkanı Katherine Maher, Wikipedia’nın kurucusu Jimmy Wales ve Vakfı’n Hukuk Direktörü Stephen LaPorte tarafından bir basın toplantısıyla kamuoyuna duyuruldu. Katherine Maher, “Bilginin – enfarmasyonun- dünyayı daha iyi hale getirdiğine inanıyoruz. Soru sorduğumuzda, gerçekleri öğrenebilmemiz ve bir konudaki tüm bakış açılarını anlayabilmemiz, daha adil ve hoşgörülü bir toplum için temel oluşturmamıza olanak sağlıyor.” dedi ve ekledi, ”Vikipedi, herkesin aktif olarak şekillendirebildiği küresel bir kaynak. Vikipedi’yi daha kullanışlı, daha kapsamlı ve daha temsil eder bir hale getiren bu ortaklaşa yazım, yeniden yazım ve münazara süreci. Bu süreç, aynı zamanda, küresel bir toplum olarak dünyayı nasıl gördüğümüz konusunda daha kapsamlı bir fikir birliği sağlamamızı mümkün kılıyor.”

Strazburg Mahkemesi’ne başvurumuzda, Vikipedi’nin tamamen erişime engellenmesinin Avrupa Sözleşmesi Madde 10 ile güvence altına alınan ifade özgürlüğü hakkı da dahil olmak üzere temel özgürlükleri ihlal ettiğini savunuyoruz. Dahası, bu özgürlükler, erişim engelinden en doğrudan etkilenen 80 milyondan fazla Türk vatandaşı ve bu ulusun 50 milyondan fazla Vikipedi maddesine katkıda bulunma, münazara ve eklemeler yapmadaki zengin bakış açılarını kaybeden dünyanın geri kalanına inkar edilmektedir.

Geçtiğimiz iki yıl boyunca Wikimedia Vakfı Türkiye’deki Vikipedi erişim engelinin kaldırılması için elinden gelen her şeyi yaptı. Vikipedi’yi erişime engelleyen karar, engele rağmen herkes tarafından geliştirilmeye ve gönüllüler tarafından düzenlenebilmeye açık olan, iki maddeye atıfta bulunmakla yetindi. Endişelerin kaynağının – eğer varsa – ne olduğu henüz belli değil. Söz konusu erişim engeli, Türk makamlarının bakış açısını daha iyi anlamak amacıyla yapılan sayısız iyi niyet görüşmesine rağmen, ki buna Ulaştırma, Denizcilik ve Haberleşme Bakanı’na hitaben yazılmış, Vikipedi’nin açık düzenleme modelini, değerlerini ve her türlü yasak sansüre karşı güçlü muhalefetini konu edinen açık mektup da dahil olmak üzere, devam etmekte.

Erişim engelinin akabinde, Vikipedi’nin erişime açılmasını talep ettiğimiz davamızı böyle bir engelin ifade ve basın özgürlüğü hakkını ihlal ettiği gerekçesiyle yerel mahkemede açtık. İlk derece mahkemesi erişim engelini onayladı ve ilk derece mahkemesinin kararına itiraz etmemizden bu yana iki yıl geçmesine rağmen Türkiye’nin en üst mahkemesinden herhangi bir cevap gelmedi. Netice olarak, bu adımın gerekli olduğuna inanıyoruz.

Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi (AİHM), sözleşmede belirtilen insan hakları hükümlerinin uygulanmasını ve yürürlüğe konulmasını sağlamak amacıyla Avrupa İnsan Hakları Sözleşmesi tarafından oluşturulan uluslararası bir mahkeme. Türkiye uzun süredir sözleşmenin tarafı ve insan haklarına yapılan müdahaleyi bu durumda daha da üzücü kılan şey, sözleşme tarafından öngörülen temel hakların Türk Anayasası tarafından güvence altına alınmış olması. Ayrıca, internet erişim engellerinin ve sansürün Avrupa Konseyi üyesi ülkeler için giderek artan bir endişe kaynağı oluşu, mahkemenin dosyayı incelemeye almasını daha da önemli hale getirmekte.

Vikipedi, bugün dünyadaki en yaygın erişilen bilgi kaynaklarından birisi. O saniyede 6 bin kez okunuyor ve maddelerimiz dünya genelinde 250 binden fazla gönüllüden oluşan bir topluluk tarafından günlük olarak düzenleniyor, geliştiriliyor ve münazara ediliyor. Bu maddelerin yüzde 85’inden fazlası İngilizce dışındaki dillerde yazılı; ki buna Türkçe konuşan gönüllüler tarafından Türkçe konuşan insanlar için yazılmış 300 bin madde de dahil. Bu gönüllüler, iyiniyetli çabalarıyla belirli bir konunun tüm yönlerini, tartışmalı olanları dahi, aktararak tamamen ve şeffaf bir şekilde anlaşılmasını sağlamaya çalışıyor.

Vikipedi, daha fazla insan onu kullandıkça, geliştirdikçe ve içeriğini düzenledikçe daha iyi, daha zengin ve dünyayı daha iyi yansıtır hale geliyor. Bir ulus Vikipedi’deki küresel sohbete erişime engellendiğinde, bütün dünya fakirleşiyor.

Wikimedia Vakfı, temel bir insan hakkı olarak bilginin, herkes ve dünya genelindeki milyonlarca kullanıcımız tarafından kullanımının korunmasını savunmayı taahhüt ediyor. Bugün, bu bağlılığın bir parçası olarak, Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi’ne başvuruda bulunma kararımızı ilan ediyoruz.

Wikimedia, Londra’daki 4 New Square Chambers’dan Can Yeğinsu ve İstanbul’daki ELİG Gürkaynak Avukatlık Ortaklığı’ndan Gönenç Gürkaynak tarafından temsil edilmektedir.

In short interviews with our employees we illuminate aspects and questions of our daily work with BlueSpice and our customers. In this article, we will focus on the topic of customizing. An interview with Sabine Gürtler, Team Lead Service & Support at Hallo Welt! GmbH.

Sabine, tell me: What does customizing mean in the context of our product?

In our case, customizings are adaptations to our BlueSpice wiki software that go beyond the product standard.

So the customer has the possibility to “rebuild” BlueSpice according to his wishes?

Exactly. But it’s not the customer himself who does this, it’s us. Specific customer wishes are always the starting point for a customizing project. It doesn’t matter whether our customer uses a MediaWiki or BlueSpice – the enterprise version of MediaWiki. Our developers implement adaptations for both systems on customer request.

What exactly can be adapted within the scope of the customizing project?

Quite a lot. For example, it is possible to intervene in the standard workflow of BlueSpice. This concerns, for example, the modification of rules with regard to the release or comment options of an article. Beyond that, some customers request an individual interface design. While minor adjustments to the corporate design guidelines of the customer are usually covered by our “branding package”, sometimes we have to go a step further. A good example to underline that example would be the implementation of two different user interfaces for wiki admins and wiki users.

Another customer runs a public medical wiki and wants to deliver his wiki in the “look and feel” of a website. No problem for us. Yet another one wants an individual wiki homepage with the “portal look” of an intranet to provide employees with special information and encourage them to use the company wiki.

Sounds exciting. Is there more to it?

Absolutely. Some customers, for example, wish to adapt or extend existing wiki functions. In this context we are currently implementing special upload notifications, a PDF export of various wiki page types and a push-and-merge function where content is transferred from one wiki to another – including an automated check for redundant content.

When it comes to customizing, one should not forget the development of technical interfaces to existing IT systems, like the connection of the wiki search engine to the customers’ intranet.

Furthermore data migration or synchronization routines can be adapted. A great example is a customer who requested that Microsoft Word files stored on his internal drive be automatically imported into his company wiki. This is realized with technical solutions like “CronJobs”. You see, almost everything is feasible.

Almost everything? Are there any exclusion criteria?

Yes, there are. Since we avoid so-called “core hacks”, the prerequisite for customizing is a corresponding interface (hook / API) in MediaWiki, the core software of BlueSpice. We do not interfere with the MediaWiki code, because otherwise problems would arise during update and maintenance of the system. This would have negative effects on the stability, system security and sustainability of the system. However, we always try to find a solution via workarounds for critical adjustment requests. It is important that the cost-benefit ratio fits. Of course, we advise our customers beforehand whether an adaptation makes sense from our point of view or not.

And how do customizings affect the standard product?

Normally, customizings are realized with customer-specific extensions. However, customizations that are useful for all BlueSpice customers are transferred to the standard product. Recently, this has involved, for example, usability optimizations, improvements in statistical evaluations or a simplification of the image insertion routine in the visual editor. In case of adaptations that involve a deep intervention in the programming code, we also check whether standardization makes sense. Either way, the decision whether an adaptation becomes a standard lies with us, the Hallo Welt! Ltd.

O.K. But what’s the benefit for the customer if his adaptation becomes a  product standard?

That’s a good question. The customer of course benefits. On the one hand there is the maintenance effort, which doesn’t apply as soon as the customization is transferred to our standard software. Thus the customers’ investment in “his” customization pays for itself in the long term. If an adaptation similar to that desired by the customer is already on our agenda, we also contribute to the implementation costs. This significantly reduces the customers’ financial input. Plus, by incorporating the adaptation into the standard product, we ensure that the function is continuously optimized and further developed. Good for the customer, good for us.

Last but not least: How does a customization process work?

In a few words: After the customer has articulated a wish, our technical team checks the effort. Then we write an offer or submit an alternative suggestion. In case of larger adaptations we work out specification book, which is the foundation for technical implementations.

At the end of the day, one thing is particularly important to us: a customer who gets exactly the BlueSpice wiki he needs for his day-to-day work in his company.

Let’s Wiki together!


More information about our migration services can be found here:

Test BlueSpice pro now for 30 days free of charge and without obligation:

Visit our webinar and get to know BlueSpice:

Contact us:
Angelika Müller and Florian Müller
Telephone: +49 (0) 941 660 800
E-Mail: sales@bluespice.com

Author: David Schweiger

The post Customizing: How we adapt BlueSpice and MediaWiki to our customers’ wishes. appeared first on BlueSpice Blog.

Tool creation added to toolsadmin.wikimedia.org

23:11, Tuesday, 21 2019 May UTC

Toolsadmin.wikimedia.org is a management interface for Toolforge users. On 2017-08-24, a new major update to the application was deployed which added support for creating new tool accounts and managing metadata associated with all tool accounts.

Under the older Wikitech based tool creation process, a tool maintainer sees this interface:

wikitech screenshot

As @yuvipanda noted in T128158, this interface is rather confusing. What is a "service group?" I thought I just clicked a link that said "Create a new Tool." What are the constrains of this name and where will it be used?

With the new process on toolsadmin, the initial form includes more explanation and collects additional data:

toolsadmin screenshot

The form labels are more consistent. Some explanation is given for how the tool's name will be used and a link is provided to additional documentation on wikitech. More information is also collected that will be used to help others understand the purpose of the tool. This information is displayed on the tool's public description page in toolsadmin:

toolinfo example

After a tool has been created, additional information can also be supplied. This information is a superset of the data needed for the toolinfo.json standard used by Hay's Directory. All tools documented using toolsadmin are automatically published to Hay's Directory. Some of this information can also be edited collaboratively by others. A tool can also have multiple toolinfo.json entries to support tools where a suite of functionality is published under a single tool account.

The Striker project tracks bugs and feature ideas for toolsadmin. The application is written in Python3 using the Django framework. Like all Wikimedia software projects, Striker is FLOSS software and community contributions are welcome. See the project's page on wikitech for more information about contributing to the project.

Gerrit now automatically adds reviewers

21:57, Tuesday, 21 2019 May UTC

Finding reviewers for a change is often a challenge, especially for a newcomer or folks proposing changes to projects they are not familiar with. Since January 16th, 2019, Gerrit automatically adds reviewers on your behalf based on who last changed the code you are affecting.

Antoine "@hashar" Musso exposes what lead us to enable that feature and how to configure it to fit your project. He will offers tip as to how to seek more reviewers based on years of experience.

When uploading a new patch, reviewers should be added automatically, that is the subject of the task T91190 opened almost four years ago (March 2015). I declined the task since we already have the Reviewer bot (see section below), @Tgr found a plugin for Gerrit which analyzes the code history with git blame and uses that to determine potential reviewers for a change. It took us a while to add that particular Gerrit plugin and the first version we installed was not compatible with our Gerrit version. The plugin was upgraded yesterday (Jan 16th) and is working fine (T101131).

Let's have a look at the functionality the plugin provides, and how it can be configured per repository. I will then offer a refresher of how one can search for reviewers based on git history.

Reviewers by blame plugin

The Gerrit plugin looks at affected code using git blame, it extracts the top three past authors which are then added as reviewers to the change on your behalf. Added reviewers will thus receive a notification showing you have asked them for code review.

The configuration is done on a per project basis and inherits from the parent project. Without any tweaks, your project inherits the configuration from All-Projects. If you are a project owner, you can adjust the configuration. As an example the configuration for operations/mediawiki-config which shows inherited values and an exception to not process a file named InitialiseSettings.php:

The three settings are described in the documentation for the plugin:

The maximum number of reviewers that should be added to a change by this plugin.
By default 3.

Ignore files where the filename matches the given regular expression when computing the reviewers. If empty or not set, no files are ignored.
By default not set.

Ignore commits where the subject of the commit messages matches the given regular expression. If empty or not set, no commits are ignored.
By default not set.

By making past authors aware of a change to code they previously altered, I believe you will get more reviews and hopefully get your changes approved faster.

Previously we had other methods to add reviewers, one opt-in based and the others being cumbersome manual steps. They should be used to compliment the Gerrit reviewers by blame plugin, and I am giving an overview of each of them in the following sections.

Gerrit watchlist

The original system from Gerrit lets you watch projects, similar to a user watch list on MediaWiki. In Gerrit preferences, one can get notified for new changes, patchsets, comments... Simply indicate a repository, optionally a search query and you will receive email notifications for matching events.

The attached image is my watched projects configuration, I thus receive notifications for any changes made to the integration/config config as well as for changes in mediawiki/core which affect either composer.json or one of the Wikimedia deployment branches for that repo.

One drawback is that we can not watch a whole hierarchy of projects such as mediawiki and all its descendants, which would be helpful to watch our deployment branch. It is still useful when you are the primary maintainer of a repository since you can keep track of all activity for the repository.

Reviewer bot

The reviewer bot has been written by Merlijn van Deen (@valhallasw), it is similar to the Gerrit watched projects feature with some major benefits:

  • watcher is added as a reviewer, the author thus knows you were notified
  • it supports watching a hierarchy of projects (eg: mediawiki/*)
  • the file/branch filtering might be easier to gasp compared to Gerrit search queries
  • the watchers are stored at a central place which is public to anyone, making it easy to add others as reviewers.

One registers reviewers on a single wiki page: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Git/Reviewers.

Each repository filter is a wikitext section (eg: === mediawiki/core ===) followed by a wikitext template and a file filter using using python fnmatch. Some examples:

Listen to any changes that touch i18n:

== Listen to repository groups ==
=== * ===
* {{Gerrit-reviewer|JohnDoe|file_regexp=<nowiki>i18n</nowiki>}}

Listen to MediaWiki core search related code:

=== mediawiki/core ===
* {{Gerrit-reviewer|JaneDoe|file_regexp=<nowiki>^includes/search/</nowiki>

The system works great, given maintainers remember to register on the page and that the files are not moved around. The bot is not that well known though and most repositories do not have any reviewers listed.

Inspecting git history

A source of reviewers is the git history, one can easily retrieve a list of past authors which should be good candidates to review code. I typically use git shortlog --summary --no-merges for that (--no-merges filters out merge commit crafted by Gerrit when a change is submitted). Example for MediaWiki Job queue system:

$ git shortlog --no-merges --summary --since "one year ago" includes/jobqueue/|sort -n|tail -n4
     3 Petr Pchelko
     4 Brad Jorsch
     4 Umherirrender
    16 Aaron Schulz

Which gives me four candidates that acted on that directory over a year.

Past reviewers from git notes

When a patch is merged, Gerrit records in git trace votes and the canonical URL of the change. They are available in git notes under /refs/notes/review, once notes are fetched, they can be show in git show or git log by passing --show-notes=review, for each commit, after the commit messages, the notes get displayed and show votes among other metadata:

$ git fetch refs/notes/review:refs/notes/review
$ git log --no-merges --show-notes=review -n1
commit e1d2c92ac69b6537866c742d8e9006f98d0e82e8
Author: Gergő Tisza <tgr.huwiki@gmail.com>
Date:   Wed Jan 16 18:14:52 2019 -0800

    Fix error reporting in MovePage
    Bug: T210739
    Change-Id: I8f6c9647ee949b33fd4daeae6aed6b94bb1988aa

Notes (review):
    Code-Review+2: Jforrester <jforrester@wikimedia.org>
    Verified+2: jenkins-bot
    Submitted-by: jenkins-bot
    Submitted-at: Thu, 17 Jan 2019 05:02:23 +0000
    Reviewed-on: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/484825
    Project: mediawiki/core
    Branch: refs/heads/master

And I can then get the list of authors that previously voted Code-Review +2 for a given path. Using the previous example of includes/jobqueue/ over a year, the list is slightly different:

$ git log --show-notes=review --since "1 year ago" includes/jobqueue/|grep 'Code-Review+2:'|sort|uniq -c|sort -n|tail -n5
      2     Code-Review+2: Umherirrender <umherirrender_de.wp@web.de>
      3     Code-Review+2: Jforrester <jforrester@wikimedia.org>
      3     Code-Review+2: Mobrovac <mobrovac@wikimedia.org>
      9     Code-Review+2: Aaron Schulz <aschulz@wikimedia.org>
     18     Code-Review+2: Krinkle <krinklemail@gmail.com>

User Krinkle has approved a lot of patches, even if he doesn't show in the list of authors obtained by the previous mean (inspecting git history).


The Gerrit reviewers by blame plugin acts automatically which offers a good chance your newly uploaded patch will get reviewers added out of the box. For finer tweaking one should register as a reviewer on https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Git/Reviewers which benefits everyone. The last course of action is meant to compliment the git log history.

For any remarks, support, concerns, reach out on IRC freenode channel #wikimedia-releng or fill a task in Phabricator.

Thank you @thcipriani for the proof reading and english fixes.

The Corfu Projector

20:19, Tuesday, 21 2019 May UTC

I recently spent a week on Corfu. I was amazed by the history, the culture, the traditions, and, of course, the food. I was, however, appalled by the low coverage of Corfu localities on Wikidata. While I might be biased, living in the UK where every postbox is a historic monument, a dozen or so items for Corfu’s capital still seemed a bit thin. So I thought a bit about how to change this. Not just for Corfu, but in general for a geographic entity. I know I can’t do this all by myself, even for “just” Corfu, but I can make it easier and more appealing for anyone who might have an interest in helping out.

An important first step is to get an idea of what items there are. For a locality, this can be done in two ways: by coordinates, or by administrative unit. Ideally, relevant items should have both, which makes a neat first to-do-list (items with coordinates but without administrative unit, and vice versa). Missing images are also a low-hanging fruit, to use the forbidden management term. But there are more items that relate to a locality, besides geographical objects. People are born, live, work, and die there. A region has typical, local food, dresses, traditions, and events. Works are written about it, paintings are painted, and songs are sung. Plants and animals can be specific to the place. The list goes on.

All this does not sound like just a list of buildings; it sounds like its own project. A WikiProject. And so I wrote a tool specifically to support WikiProjects on Wikidata that deal with a locality. I created a new one for Corfu, and added some configuration data as a sub-page. Based on that data, the Projector tool can generate a map and a series of lists with items related to the project (Corfu example).

The map shows all items with coordinates (duh), either via the “administrative unit” property tree, or via coordinates within pre-defined areas. You can draw new areas on the map, and then copy the area definition into the configuration page. Items without an administrative unit will have a thick border, and items without an image will be red.

There are also lists of items, including the locations from the map (plus the ones in the administrative unit, but without coordinates), people related to these locations, creative works (books, paintings etc.), and “things” (food, organizations, events, you name it). All of this is generated on page load via SPARQL. The lists can be filtered (e.g. only items without image), and the items in the list can be opened in other tools, including WD-FIST to find images, Terminator to find missing labels, Recent Changes within these items over the last week, PetScan (all items or just the filtered ones), and Tablernacle. And, of course, WikiShootMe for the entire region. I probably forgot a few tools, suggestions are (as always) welcome.

Adopting this should be straightforward for other WikiProjects; just copy my Corfu example configuration (without the areas), adapt the “root regions”, and it should work (using “X” for “WikiProject X”). I am looking forward to grow this tool in functionality, and maybe to other, not location-based projects.

Opening Online Learning with OER

10:50, Tuesday, 21 2019 May UTC

This is the transcript of a talk I gave last week at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s Post Graduate Tutors Away Day at the University of Edinburgh.  Slides are available here: Opening Online Learning with OER

Before I go on to talk about open education and OER, I want you to think about Ra’ana Hussein’s inspiring video where she articulates so clearly why participating in the MSc in Paediatric Emergency Medicine has been so empowering for her. 

Ra’ana said that the course helps her to be better at her work, and that she gains knowledge and learning that she can implement practically. It’s enabled her to meet people from diverse backgrounds, and connect with a global community of peers that she can share her practice with.  She finds online learning convenient, and tailored to her needs and she benefits from having immediate access to support, which helps her to balance her work and study commitments.

I’d like you to try and hold Ra’ana’s words in your mind while we go on and take a look at open education, OER and what it’s got to do with why we’re here today.

What is open education?

Open education is many things to many people.

  • A practice?
  • A philosophy?
  • A movement?
  • A human right?
  • A licensing issue?
  • A buzz word?
  • A way to save money?

Capetown Declaration

The principles of the open education were outlined in the 2008 Cape Town Declaration, one of the first initiatives to lay the foundations of the “emerging open education movement”.  The Declaration advocates that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, and redistribute educational resources without constraint, in order to nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.  The Cape Town Declaration is still an influential document and it was updated last year on its 10th anniversary as Capetown +10, and I can highly recommend having a look at this if you want a broad overview of the principles of open education.

Aspects of Open Education

Although there’s no one hard and fast definition of open education, one description of the open education movement that I particularly like is from the not for profit organization OER Commons…

“The worldwide OER movement is rooted in the human right to access high-quality education. The Open Education Movement is not just about cost savings and easy access to openly licensed content; it’s about participation and co-creation.”

Open education is highly contextual and encompasses many different things. These are just some of the aspects of open education

  • Open online courses
  • Open pedagogy
  • Open practice
  • Open assessment practices
  • Open textbooks
  • Open licensing
  • Open data
  • MOOCs
  • Open Access scholarly works
  • Open educational resources (OER)


Though Open Education can encompass many different things, open educational resources, or OER, are central to any understanding of this domain.

UNESCO define open educational resources as

“teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”

UNESCO Policy Instruments

And the reason I’ve chosen this definition is that UNESCO is one of a number of international agencies that actively supports the global adoption of open educational resources.  In 2012 UNESCO released the Paris OER Declaration which encourages governments and authorities to open license educational materials produced with public funds, in order to realize substantial benefits for their citizens and maximize the impact of investment.   And in 2017 UNESCO brought together 111 member states for the 2nd OER World Congress in Slovenia, the main output of which was the UNESCO Ljubljana OER Action Plan.  Central to the OER Action plan is the acknowledgement of the role that OER can play in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 and support quality education that is equitable, inclusive, open and participatory.

In his summing up at the end of the congress UNESCO Assistant Director for Education Qian Tang said

“to meet the education challenges, we can’t use the traditional way. In remote and developing areas, particularly for girls and women, OER are a crucial, crucial means to reach SDGs. OER are the key.”

The Action Plan acknowledges that open education and OER provide a strategic opportunity to improve knowledge sharing, capacity building and universal access to quality learning and teaching resources. And, when coupled with collaborative learning, and supported by sound pedagogical practice, OER has the transformative potential to increase access to education, opening up opportunities to create and share an array of educational resources to accommodate greater diversity of educator and learner needs.

Open Education at the University of Edinburgh

Now all this may sound very aspirational and possibly a touch idealistic, but here at the University of Edinburgh we believe that open education and OER are strongly in line with our institutional mission to deliver impact for society, discover, develop and share knowledge, and make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to the Scotland, the UK and the world.

Support for Sustainable Development Goals

It’s also worth noting that the University already has a commitment to Sustainable development goals through the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability and the university and college sectors’ Sustainable Development Accord.  And the new principal has recently re-stated the University’s commitment to meeting this goals.

OER Vision

The University has a vision for OER which has three strands, building on our excellent education and research collections, traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment and the university’s civic mission.  These are:

  • For the common good – encompassing every day teaching and learning materials.
  • Edinburgh at its best – high quality resources produced by a range of projects and initiatives.
  • Edinburgh’s Treasures – content from our world class cultural heritage collections.

OER Policy

This vision is backed up by an OER Policy, approved by our Learning and Teaching Committee, which encourages staff and students to use, create and publish OERs to enhance the quality of the student experience.  This OER Policy is itself CC licensed and is adapted from an OER Policy that has already been adopted by a number of other institutions in the UK.  The fact that this policy was approved by the Learning and Teaching Committee, rather than by the Knowledge Strategy Committee is significant because it places open education and OER squarely in the domain of teaching and learning, which of course is the domain we’re focusing on here today.  The University’s vision for OER is very much the brain child of Melissa Highton, Assisstant Principal Online Learning and Director of Learning and Teaching Web Services.  However it’s also notable that EUSA the student union were instrumental in encouraging the University to adopt an OER policy, and we continue to see student engagement and co-creation as being fundamental aspects of open education.  

OER Service

But of course policy is nothing without support, so we also have an OER Service that provides staff and students with advice and guidance on creating and using OER and engaging with open education.  We run a wide range of digital skills workshops for staff and students focused on copyright, open licencing, OER and playful engagement.  And we provide a one stop shop where you can access open educational resources produced by staff and students across the university, including some from this college.   As well as working closely with our students, the OER Service also hosts Open Content Creation student interns every summer.  And if you’d like to talk to me about the advice and guidance the OER Service provides…

Near Future Teaching

Openness is also at the heart of the Near Future Teaching project undertaken over the last two years by a team from the Centre for Research in Digital Education, led by Sian Bayne (Assistant Principal Digital Education).  This project co-created a values based vision for the future of digital education at the University with input from more than 400 staff and students. The project report, published last month, sets out a vision and aims for a near future teaching that is community focused, post digital, data fluent, assessment oriented, playful and experimental, and boundary challenging.  And one of the ways these goals can be achieved is  through increasing openness.  So for example the report calls for boundary challenging digital education that is lifelong, open and transdisciplinary, and the actions required to achieve these objectives are all centered on committing to openness.

So that’s the big picture vision, but what I want to do now is just take a few minutes to look at what’s actually happening in practice, and to highlight some of the innovative open education initiatives that are already going on across the university.

Building Community

Open education is a great way to build community and if you cast your mind back to Ra’ana you’ll remember that she appreciated being part of a connected global community of peers. 

One great way to build community is through academic blogging, and just last year the University set up a new centrally supported Academic Blogging Service. The service provides staff and students with a range of different blogging platforms to support professional development and learning, teaching and research activities.  The service includes existing platforms such as Learn, Moodle, and Pebblepad and a new centrally supported WordPress service, blogs.ed.ac.uk.  To complement the service, we provide digital skills resources and workshops, including one on Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile, we’ve recently launched a seminar series featuring talks from academic blog users around the University, and we’ve been running a mini-series on the Teaching Matters blog.  And I’d like to draw your attention to the most recent blog post in that series from Bethany Easton from the School of Health in Social Science, about The Nursing Blog which was set up in 2014 as a community blog where staff and students from across the Nursing Studies Subject area can share their achievements, research, and work.   And another great example of community blogging is Stories from Vet School which features blogs posts written by current undergraduate veterinary medicine students.  And if you look carefully you’ll see that one thing both these blogs have in common is that they both carry a Creative Commons open licence, which means that the posts themselves are open educational resources that can be reused by other teachers and learners. It’s easy to see how this format could be adopted for use with online postgraduate students as a great way to connect them with their peers and build that all important sense of community so critical for distance learners.

Diversifying the Curriculum

OER can also make a significant contribution to diversifying and decolonizing the curriculum. 

LGBT+ Healthcare 101 was a collaborative project run by EDE and the Usher Institute worked with undergraduate students, to develop a suite of resources covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual health. Although knowledge of LGBT health and of the sensitivities needed to treat LGBT patients are valuable skills for qualifying doctors, these issues are not well-covered in the Medical curricula.  Using materials from the commons, this project sought to address the lack of teaching on LGBT health through OER.  The project remixed and repurposed resources originally created by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, and then contributed these resources back to the commons as Creative Commons licensed OER.  New open resources including digital stories recorded from patient interviews and resources for Secondary School children of all ages were also created and released as OER.

More recently the OER Service has released a series of resources on Openness, Equality and Inclusion which includes materials from a workshop we ran with EUSA VP of Education, Diva Mukherji, on Decolonising and Diversifing the curriculum with Open Educational Resources.  And again it’s not difficult to see how important diversifying the curriculum is when you’re creating educational resources and learning experiences for global students from a wide range of different cultural contexts.

Access to Resources

Creating and using open educational resources is also an important way to ensure longevity of access to course materials, and this can benefit staff, students, and the university itself.    It’s very common to think of OER as primarily being of benefit to those outwith the institution, however open licenses also help to ensure that we can continue to use and reuse the resources that we ourselves have created.  I’m sure you’ll all have come projects that created great content only for those resources to become inaccessible once the project ends or great teaching and learning materials belonging to a colleague who has subsequently retired or moved on, and nobody quite knows if they can still be used or not. Unless teaching and learning resources carry a clear and unambiguous open licence, it is difficult to know whether and in what context they can be reused.  This is a phenomenon that my colleague Melissa Highton has referred to as copyright debt.  If you don’t get the licensing right first time round it will cost you to fix it further down the line, and the cost and reputational risk to the university could be significant if copyright is breached.   And this is one of the best strategic reasons for investing in open educational resources at the institutional level. We need to ensure that we have the right use, adapt, and reuse, the educational resources we have invested in.  We already have some really innovative open educational resources from the College highlighted on the OER Service website and if you want to learn more about how to use and create re-useable open content without fear of breaching copyright, the OER Service runs a number of digital skills workshops covering this and we have lots of materials available online too.

In the context of online distance learning, using open licensed resources means that students can continue to access and use these resources after they have graduated.  And this is an issue that is becoming increasingly pressing as there have been a number of critical press reports recently about postgraduate students who have lost access to resources after the taught component of their courses has finished but before they have submitted all their course work.

MOOCs and the Open Media Bank

Continued access to educational resources can be particularly problematic when it comes to MOOCs.  Educational content often gets locked into commercial MOOC platforms, regardless of whether or not it is openly licensed, and some platforms are now time limiting access to content. Clearly this is not helpful for students and, given how costly high quality online teaching and learning resources are to produce, it also represents a poor return on investment for the University.  So one of the ways that we’re addressing this here at the University is by ensuring that all the content we have produced for our MOOCs is also freely available to download under open licence from the Open Media Bank channel on Media Hopper Create.  We now have over 500 MOOC videos which are available to re-use under Creative Commons licence, including “Mental Health: A Global Priority” from the School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, and “Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People” from the School of Health in Social Science.

Wikipedia in the Classroom

Another way we can create open knowledge and embed open education in the curriculum is by engaging with the world’s biggest open educational resource, Wikipedia.  Here at the University we have our very own Wikipedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew, based in Learning, Teaching and Web Services. Ewan works to embed open knowledge in the curriculum, through skills training sessions, editathons, Wikipedia in the classroom initiatives and Wikidata projects, in order to increase the quantity and quality of open knowledge and enhance digital and information literacy skills for both staff and students.   And one of the ways that Ewan does this is by working with academic colleagues to develop Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments. Creating Wikipedia entries enables students to demonstrate the relevance of their field of study and share their scholarship in a real-world context and at the same time, contribute to the global pool of open knowledge.

To date, 11 course programmes across the University have developed Wikipedia assignments, some of which are now in their second or third iteration. And I know that Ewan is working with colleagues to explore the creation of new Wikipedia assignments for the MScs in Global and Public Health. 

Reproductive Biomedicine have been successfully running Wikipedia assignments as part of their Reproductive Biology Honours course since 2015.  As part of her assignment in 2016, honours student Aine Kavanagh created a new Wikipedia article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer.   This article, including over sixty references and open-licensed diagrams created by Áine herself, has now been viewed over 64,000 times since it was published in September 2016, it’s hard to imagine many other student assignments having this kind of impact.  Not only has Aine contributed valuable health information to the global Open Knowledge community, she has also created a resource that other students and global health experts can add to and improve over time.  Creating resources that will live on on the open web, and that make a real contribution to global open knowledge, has proved to be a powerful motivator for the students taking part in these assignments.  

OER Creation Assignments

In addition to the Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments, there are also other examples of open assessment practices from around the University, including assessed blogging assignments and OER creation assignments. So for example, these resources on Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Pets were created by Silke Salavati for an assignment as part of the Digital Education module for the Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) in Academic Practice.  And OER creation assignments also form an integral part of the Digital Futures for Learning course which is part of the MSc in Digital Education.  Commenting on this OER creation assignment in a recent blog post, Jen Ross who runs this course said

“Experiencing first-hand what it means to engage in open educational practice gives student an appetite to learn and think more.  The creation of OERs provides a platform for students to share their learning. In this way, these assignments can have ongoing, tangible value for students and for the people who encounter their work.”


These are just some of the ways that open education and OER is already being embedded and supported across the University and I hope this will give you some ideas as to how open approaches can benefit your online courses ad modules here in the College.  And if you think back to Ra’ana and all the reasons that she appreciated being a student on the MSc in Paediatric Emergency Medicine; ease of access to resources and support, the practical application of knowledge, the ability to share her practice with her peers, being part of a diverse and connected global community, these are all aspects that can be enhanced further by engaging with OER and open education.

 I want to finish with a quote from one of our Open Content Curation student interns, and I make no apology for using this quote almost every time I talk about open education and OER.  This is former undergraduate Physics student Martin Tasker talking about the value of open education

“Open education has played such an integral part of my life so far, and has given me access to knowledge that would otherwise have been totally inaccessible to me. It has genuinely changed my life, and likely the lives of many others. This freedom of knowledge can allow us to tear down the barriers that hold people back from getting a world class education – be those barriers class, gender or race. Open education is the future, and I am both proud of my university for embracing it, and glad that I can contribute even in a small way. Because every resource we release could be a life changed. And that makes it all worth it.”

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