September 30, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Round-table with editors from the Catalan Wikipedia

On September 5, 2014, the Language Engineering team hosted an online round-table with editors of the Catalan Wikipedia to discuss the Content Translation tool. Besides the translation editor and tools, the first release of Content Translation supported machine translation from Spanish to Catalan. This helped the editors work efficiently and explore the tool more deeply.

The initial feedback from editors was greatly encouraging. They liked the tool and were pleased by the tool’s ease of use. After a month of extensive use during which 160+ articles had been created and contributed to the Catalan Wikipedia, the team wanted to find out more about how the tool was being used on day-to-day editing workflows by the editors as well as gaps that the tool leaves unaddressed. The conversation resulted in valuable feedback from the editors, some of which has been presented below.

Screenshot of the Content Translation tool that shows the user a warning about a large amount of machine translated content in the translated article.

(Content-Translation-Warning.png, includes text from en:Tree, by Wikipedia contributors, under CC-BY-SA 3.0, and es:Árbol, by Wikipedia contributors, under CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Faster Editing: The editors unequivocally agreed that the tool provided an overall improvement in their workflow. They were able to create new articles faster and the high-quality machine translated drafts often needed very few corrections. Editor Xavi Bosch felt that he could create articles in approximately 30% of the time he originally needed before the tool was available. With the extra time gained, the editors could focus on fine-tuning the article. For instance, by adding more references.

Machine Translation: Content Translation uses Apertium as the machine translation engine. The editors expressed their satisfaction at the overall quality of translation provided by the tool. However, they suggested adding more checks that would identify articles which were largely unchanged. Presently, the user is warned when the tool detects when not much has been changed from the original translation. Pau Giner suggested exploring community best practices from the Catalan Wikipedia to create additional baselines for articles published using Content Translation.

Category Adaptation: After creating an article, the current setup on beta labs requires users to publish the article manually on the Catalan Wikipedia. This allows the editors to review the articles and prepare them for publication. The editors highlighted that categories are a major addition during these reviews and a feature to adapt categories would be a major benefit. Category adaption is a feature planned for development. The editors suggested:

  • inserting the translated equivalents of the categories in the original article, and
  • a feature to add new categories (similar to HotCat)

Article continuity through red links: At present, articles from the source language that are not present in the target language are not marked in the translated text. In wiki pages, these are marked as red links. Editors suggested that a similar indicator should be displayed in the published article. This will be especially helpful when creating closely linked articles like the ones recently created on the Catalan Wikipedia for the Fields Medal awardees.

Complementing the current tools: The Catalan Wikipedia editors also use several tools for typo correction and other aids. It was suggested to explore the possibility of integrating these tools to complement the current services provided through Content Translation. Editor B25es highlighted some long existing minor errors in the Apertium translation service that were being carried into Content Translation as well. The editors recommended extending Content Translation to learn from these known issues and provide corrections that would be beneficial.

Issues while publishing articles : On several occasions the editors had not been able to save a translated article. While some of this was due to the technical instability of the beta labs environment where the tool is currently hosted, the editors found some patterns and content where this error had been recurring. Articles with more visual content or complex templates (like football results) have often been problematic. In a few cases where the article was not saved, it was noticed that the sequence in which the paragraphs had been translated was similar. For instance in articles about Cédric Villani or Stanislav Smirnov. The development team has begun investigating these issues.

To know more, watch the recording of the conversation and read about the features of the upcoming release. If you haven’t tried the tool yet, please do so using these instructions. We would love to hear your feedback.

Runa Bhattacharjee, Outreach and QA coordinator, Language Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 30, 2014 01:46 AM

Damon Sicore joins WMF as Vice President of Engineering

Damon Sicore
“Damon Sicore Headshot” by Stephanie Hall Sicore (sicore.com), under CC-BY-2.0

We are happy to announce that Damon Sicore officially joins the Wikimedia Foundation today in the newly created role of Vice President of Engineering, reporting to the Executive Director.

Damon’s work in the new VPE role will be crucial to further developing and maintaining the technology that supports the very core of the Wikimedia movement, and ensuring the development, scale, and stability of the MediaWiki architecture.

Damon is well prepared to fill this important new position. He has the skills necessary to drive platform growth and shares our values of community participation, open source and transparency. He brings years of experience as VPE in high tech and open source companies. He spent six years at the Mozilla Corporation, where he grew a small team of 27 people to a team of more than 600 open source software engineers, technical leads, managers, and directors in developing Mozilla Firefox, the Mozilla open source platform, Firefox for Android, and Firefox OS. Most recently Damon served as VP of Engineering at Edmodo, Inc., an educational content network, and was responsible for all web, platform, and mobile engineering, security, IT operations, support, and QA efforts.

Damon joins us as part of planned growth of the Wikimedia Foundation’s product and engineering teams, first announced in November 2012. As we have grown, we have seen a need to split our technical department into separate product and engineering departments, in line with the Foundation’s increased focus on industry best practices like performance engineering, continuous delivery, A/B testing, software re-architecture, UI/UX work, and user research. Erik Moeller, who has filled the role of Vice President of both Product and Engineering since 2011, has led in the creation of this new role and was essential to the search process.

Erik will continue as Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation and take on the role of VP of Product and Strategy.

In the meantime, you’ll be able to meet Damon, and ask him questions, this Thursday at our monthly Metrics Meeting. Please join us!

Lila Tretikov
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at September 30, 2014 01:05 AM

September 25, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Quantitative versus Qualitative: More friends than enemies

As Wikimedia program leaders and evaluators work together toward more systematic measurement and evaluation strategies, we face a common challenge to obtain both systematic quantitative data and qualitative information. By doing so, we can establish successful practices in outreach programs and understand the depth and variety of Wikimedia programs across our vast Wikimedia landscape. To meet this challenge, we are working to combine efforts and knowledge for two key purposes:

  • To generalize program knowledge and design patterns of Wikimedia programs and
  • To deepen our understanding of Wikimedia programs and projects and how they impact our communities.


Program leaders should seek a balance between quantitative and qualitative information.

“Schütte & Pöppe Fabrik hauswirtschaftlicher Maschinen Hannover-Linden Rechnung 1909-01-16 Rückseite Detail IIIII” by differents, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Oftentimes, program leaders and evaluators question whether methods and measures that are quantitative are preferred over the qualitative, or whether qualitative outcomes can be given value like quantitative outcomes.

A good evaluation requires numbers and stories – one does not have meaning without the other. How those stories and numbers are collected can – and will – vary greatly, as each program leader seeks to understand their project or program story. Methods and measures for program evaluation should be designed to track how your project or program is doing, what it intends to do and how well the expected outcomes are reached. Whether those methods and measures are qualitative or quantitative will vary depending on your interests, your measurement point and your evaluation resources, but should, no matter what, be useful in telling the story of what you did and whether or not your work was a success. (Read more on the Evaluation portal.)

Most often, through triangulation of quantitative and qualitative measures, today’s social researchers define approximate measures or «proxies» for focusing on and measuring a phenomenon of interest. Through triangulated measures, qualitative and quantitative information can tell a better story of outcomes than either can alone. For instance, consider the phenomenon of volunteer editing behavior:

“edit count” “bytes added/removed”
“page views”
+ =
“article subjects” “categories” “quality” ratings

In a mixed-methods world, quantitative and qualitative tend to be two sides of the same measurement coin: related and nearly inseparable in practice.

How do numbers and qualitative attributes come together?

All quantitative measures are based on qualitative judgments; all qualitative measures can be coded and analyzed quantitatively.

As illustrated in the images below, numbers do not mean anything without assigning a description; anecdotes mean nothing without numbers.

Whether it is a question about physical count data, or about an attitude, we must create the meaning of numbers, and numbers with meaning in measurement. (Read more here on a detailed example of how to ask yourself these questions during an education program with students, leading to a combined quantitative and qualitative approach.)

Defining count data in ordinal response categories that are assigned a response numeral (1) through (7)


Assigning numbers to mean different levels of applicability of a sensed state of being which cannot be otherwise observed.


Converting qualitative to quantitative via count data using the sum of codeable observations.


Next steps for Program Leaders

Trying to choose the best measures for your Wikimedia project or program?

Check out the helpful Measures for Evaluation matrix of common outcomes by program goal. We are working to map measures and tools for it.

Last week, the Program Evaluation and Design team initiated the Foundation’s second round of voluntary programs reporting. We invite all program leaders and evaluators to participate yet again in the most epic data collection and analysis of Wikimedia programs we’ve done so far. This year we will examine more than ten different programs:

  • Editing workshops
  • On-wiki writing contests
  • Editathons
  • Wikipedia Education Program
  • Conferences
  • Wikimedian in Residence
  • GLAM content donations
  • Wiki Loves Monuments
  • Hackathons
  • Wiki Loves Earth, Wiki Takes, Wiki Expeditions, and other photo upload events

Did you lead or evaluate any of these programs during the time from September 2013 through September 2014? If so, we need your data! For the full announcement visit our portal news pages.

Reporting is voluntary, but the more people do it, the better we can represent programs. This voluntary reporting will help us understand the depth and impact of programs across different contexts. It allows us to come together and generate a bird’s eye view of programs so that we can examine further what works best to meet our shared goals for Wikimedia. Together we can grow the AWESOME in Wikimedia programs!

Jaime Anstee, Ph.D, Program Evaluation Specialist, Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 25, 2014 09:12 PM

September 24, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Greek Wikipedia user wins key hearing in defamation case

We are happy to report that a member of our community, Greek Wikipedia user and administrator Diu, has won a critical hearing in an ongoing defamation suit brought by Greek politician and academic Theodore Katsanevas.

On 29 August 2014, the Court of the First Instance of Athens denied the preliminary injunction requested by Mr. Katsanevas. The preliminary injunction would have required Diu, along with co-defendant Greek Free / Open Source Software Society (“ELLAK”), to provisionally remove statements from the Greek language Wikipedia article about Mr. Katsanevas.[1]

The Wikipedia content in dispute involves what was written in the first will[2] of the late Andreas Papandreou, former father-in-law of Mr. Katsanevas and former Prime Minister of Greece. In the will, as reported by the court, Mr. Papandreou characterized Mr. Katsanevas as a “disgrace to the Papandreou family” with aims to “politically inherit the history of struggle of Georgios Papandreou and Andreas Papandreou.”

The court declared that the content appearing in the Wikipedia article did not differ from the content of the will and that the formulation of the article did not indicate an intent to disparage the reputation or honor of Mr. Katsanevas. Additionally, the court noted that the Wikipedia article provided the full context about the statements to which Mr. Katsanevas objected, that the article did not contain any additional commentary or pejorative expressions, and that the form of words used in the article was not immoderate.

Dismissing the petition against both Diu and ELLAK, the court found that Mr. Katsanevas was “not in need of provisional judicial protection from the [Wikipedia article] in question, which, for the reasons set out above, is not illegal.”

Unfortunately, this ordeal is not yet over for Diu and ELLAK. The trial for the underlying dispute is set to begin on 21 January 2015. As this case progresses, the Wikimedia Foundation will continue to support Diu through our Legal Fees Assistance Program.

In light of this ruling, we encourage Mr. Katsanevas to withdraw this baseless lawsuit and discontinue his attempts to censor Wikipedia and its users.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel*

* We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Lambadarios law firm, particularly Chara Daouti, for their tireless defense of Diu.

  1. In his petition, Mr. Katsanevas also requested that ELLAK be fined and that Diu be held in custody for each day of refusal to comply with the preliminary injunction (if it were to be issued) as well as reimbursement of his legal costs.
  2. As the court explained, there was a second will, which had been decreed the “main” will and did not refer to Mr. Katsanevas. However, the court clarified that the existence of the second will does not revoke the first to the extent that the two wills do not contradict or cancel the other out. Because the second will did not contradict the statements about Mr. Katsanevas that appeared in the first, the existence of the second will – the court reasoned – did not revoke the statements made about Mr. Katsanevas in the first will.

by carlosmonterrey at September 24, 2014 01:43 AM

September 23, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Chilean regulator welcomes Wikipedia Zero

Since 2012, Wikipedia Zero has provided access to freely licensed educational information to mobile users in Africa and Asia, free of data charges. Its mission is to empower people in the Global South to access information and participate in the creation of knowledge, by bringing Wikipedia to the hundreds of millions of people who can’t afford mobile data charges. To ensure the program truly serves the public interest by expanding access to knowledge, it follows clear, publicly available operating principles.

Earlier this year, we began work to bring Wikipedia Zero to Latin America. We were concerned by articles that reported that a new government order in Chile would ban Wikipedia Zero in the country.[1] Together with Wikimedia Chile, we contacted the Chilean telecommunications regulator, the Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones (SUBTEL), who confirmed to us that the new order was not intended to prevent Wikipedia Zero and similar free knowledge initiatives.

Chile is a leader when it comes to internet policy — in 2010 it was the first country in the world to enact legislation to preserve the open Internet. This law empowered SUBTEL, which enacts policies aimed to reduce the digital divide and promote competition to improve the living conditions for Chileans, to safeguard the openness of the Internet.

On April 14, 2014, SUBTEL ordered mobile carriers to stop selling bundled social media apps with voice and/or data plans in Chile, following concerns raised by a Chilean advocacy group about the practice. The SUBTEL order, titled Circular No. 40, prohibited commercial offers that would waive data charges when using particular social media sites and applications, finding that these offers were inconsistent with the 2010 Telecommunications Act.

To understand whether initiatives like Wikipedia Zero would be affected, we joined efforts with Wikimedia Chile, a local movement organization that shares in the Wikimedia mission. On July 23, we sent a letter to SUBTEL[2], explaining the operating principles behind Wikipedia Zero, and requesting clarification on whether Circular No. 40 would apply.

Undersecretary Huichalaf, the head of SUBTEL, accepted our invitation to discuss the order. In our conversation, the Undersecretary indicated he sees a clear difference between initiatives like Wikipedia Zero and the practices prohibited under Circular No. 40. He said that much of the media coverage had misreported the issues at stake. He also stressed that the order, which is not a law or a regulation, was intended to ban the specific practice of bundling zero-rated social media access with voice and data plans offered at that time (early April 2014) by local operators, and was not meant to be generalized or applied to other cases. Undersecretary Huichalaf emphasized SUBTEL’s commitment to education and making knowledge available to all Chileans, in line with Chilean President Bachelet’s commitment to equal opportunity to public quality education for all Chilean youth.

Accordingly, we hope to bring Wikipedia Zero to Chile as one of the first Latin American countries to deploy the program. The Undersecretary encouraged us to begin by reaching out to mobile carriers in Chile to seek an opinion from SUBTEL on how educational services like Wikipedia Zero could be introduced into Chile, consistent with the Chilean telecommunications law. Only Chilean carriers have the legal standing to request such an opinion.

Wikipedia Zero brings free information to those who cannot afford the cost of mobile data. In many nations, people access the internet primarily through inexpensive, ubiquitous mobile phones rather than costly, uncommon computers. However, mobile data is often more expensive than voice services, creating a significant barrier for the poor to freely access information. Wikipedia Zero works with mobile carriers to waive data charges on mobile devices to allow users free access to all Wikimedia sites. So far, this program has made the knowledge freely accessible to an estimated 375 million mobile phone users in 31 countries.

According to our colleagues at Wikimedia Chile:

“A program like Wikipedia Zero would grant Chile the opportunity to access knowledge through Wikipedia in a way and at a scale that was unthinkable in the past. Mobile phones are very common throughout Chile, and this would open doors where this knowledge will be freely available to everyone instantly, with ease. This would certainly become a powerful educational channel, which would allow us, as Chileans, to increase our understanding of ourselves and our culture, and at the same time give us the chance to learn more about everything that surrounds us and to which we remain connected. A program like this could directly impact our human development and how we conceive our environment.”

We are confident the Wikipedia Zero program fits within Chile’s legal framework and is consistent with the country’s commitment to improving access to education for its citizens. We look forward to working with all Chilean mobile carriers interested in bringing free knowledge to the people of Chile through Wikipedia Zero. Carriers interested in Wikipedia Zero can contact us at wikipediazero@wikimedia.org for more information on how to get started.

Yana Welinder, Legal Counsel

Carolynne Schloeder, Director of Mobile Partnerships

  1. See e.g., Tech President, Quartz, Pando, and La Nación (in Spanish)
  2. A copy of the letter (in Spanish, with an English translation) is available on Wikimedia Commons, and reproduced below.


Carta a SUBTEL ref Wikipedia Zero.pdf

Carta a SUBTEL ref Wikipedia Zero.pdf

Carta a SUBTEL ref Wikipedia Zero.pdf

by carlosmonterrey at September 23, 2014 10:41 PM

A behind the scenes look at the Wikimedia Foundation’s emergency response system

Emergency “Blue Light” Telephone Used on College Campus: Monroe Community College

“Emergency Telephone Used on College Campus (cropped)” by David Maiolo, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

When my work phone rings in the middle of the night, I don’t ever have to wonder what it is. As one of the team of five who are in charge of addressing emails sent to the Wikimedia Foundation’s emergency address system, I sleep lightly on nights when I’m on call. Fortunately, emergencies don’t happen every night, but when they do I need to be prepared for the threat I’ll face – school bombing? Violence against another user? Threat of suicide? Maybe it’ll just be spam or vandalism and I’ll be back in bed in a few minutes, but I have faced all of the preceding and more. On the emergency team, we all have.

Threats of violence or self-harm are a sad, but luckily relatively uncommon, event on our projects. The English Wikipedia community has developed a process for handling them, as have a number of other projects. The emergency email address serves to help protect the public and users of Wikipedia, and the community advocacy team responds to these as part of our regular duties. We process threats of violence against self and others posted on WMF sites, running them through a protocol developed in consultation with the FBI. When a threat is credible and imminent according to the reporting criteria, we pass it along to federal or local authorities. This has brought us into contact with law enforcement around the world. We don’t always know how these reports resolve, which can leave us feeling very unsettled. Sometimes, though, it’s even more unsettling when we do.

The emergency system was established in 2010 by Philippe Beaudette (now Director, Community Advocacy), who had experience managing and creating processes for “Trust and Safety” issues with other companies and communities. He was joined in managing incoming issues by James Alexander and Christine Moellenberndt. In consultation with other staff and from years of experience, Philippe has worked to create a functional system that is manageable for the global scope of the Wikimedia projects.

What we’re looking for, primarily, is specificity and plausibility. “Block me, and I’ll kill you,” when authored by a vandal to an admin operating anonymously under a pseudonym, is neither. If a user in Philadelphia edits an area school article threatening to kill a teacher, it’s both. If we report on any private data, such as IP addresses behind accounts, we fill out a form that logs such instances. (We report any data that we have that may facilitate the rapid response of officials to these incidents, consistent with our privacy policy.) We follow this up by annotating the outcome to the other members of the team and filing a report, in our case management software, SugarCRM.

Many times during this process, we need to reach out for assistance. Sometimes reports come in from languages where we have no proficiency, and we need to find staff or volunteers to help us translate the threat and understand the context in which it was placed. Sometimes we need local administrators to help address the incidents on the projects, for instance blocking a user or oversighting content as appropriate under local policies.

Sometimes people misunderstand or misuse the system. While we are here to evaluate any threat of harm to self or others, we are sometimes contacted by people who are unhappy with the content of articles or with disputes they are having with other editors. As a matter of strict procedure, we do not assist with off-topic messages sent to this address; we don’t even forward them to other channels. We cannot afford the dilution of the emergency response system, and appropriate avenues for outreach for these kinds of problems are widely publicized on the projects themselves.

Over the years that I have worked for the Wikimedia Foundation, this process has continually improved. We have received training in dealing with emergencies and with decompressing afterwards, and the tools we use to handle them have been refined to make the whole process quick and efficient. But regardless of training, it remains a challenging experience. We seldom get a sense of closure. We are all aware of the possibility that no matter how quickly we respond, we may be too late. Even finding out that we were able to help can be distressing, because there was need for us to do it at all. Never mind the stress; it is a responsibility we shoulder willingly. It’s worth it for even a chance to help protect people and save lives.

Maggie Dennis, Senior Community Advocate

by carlosmonterrey at September 23, 2014 03:50 PM

September 20, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

OpenGLAM at Wikimania 2014

The is a syndicated post originally published by OpenGLAM. The original version can be found here.

GLAM activities in the last two months have been quite happening! After Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin, OpenGLAM members and other GLAM contributors met again during Wikimania London, the official annual event of the Wikimedia movement focused on what people are making with wikis and open content. There were GLAM talks, workshops, discussions and brown bag talks: in this blog I’ll go into some of the highlights, but you can find an overview of all GLAM & Free culture submissions here.

Promoting OpenGLAM – Exchange of Experiences and Best Practices

OpenGLAM Working Group members Beat Estermann and Joris Pekel conducted a workshop during which they introduced the OpenGLAM working group and the various activities that members from different countries are involved in, such as the Open Cultuur Data masterclasses in the Netherlands and the Coding Da Vinci cultural data hackathon in Germany. For Switzerland, Beat Estermann talked about the OpenGLAM Benchmark Survey that aims to gather more information of open data principles in the heritage sector around the world.

OpenGLAM presentation at Wikimania 2014 in London.

“20140809 OpenGLAM presentation” by Beat Estermann, Joris Pekel, Maarten Brinkerink and Helene Hahnunder CC-BY-SA-3.0

Best practices for the evaluation of GLAM-Wiki cooperation

A GLAM-Wiki evaluation workshop was organized by Beat Estermann, Maarten Brinkerink and Wikimedia Foundation’s Program Evaluation specialist Jaime Anstee to assess the impact of the past GLAM projects and to create a road map by placing evaluation parameters in place for institutional collaboration. From the GLAM wiki residency project at Wikimedia UK, Jonathan Cardy presented the evaluation process needed in place for Wikipedia-in-Residence programs. Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE)’s Lilli Iliev shared information about the evaluation practices WMDE has put in place in order to implement small to large scale GLAM projects in Germany. While working with various cultural institutions in Germany, they focused on qualitative aspects of the content acquired, on goal oriented programs like “GLAM on Tour,” and on mass outreach by popular media and post campaign impact measuring. Four groups were then formed to work on particular GLAM projects, how they plan to evaluate tangible output and measure return on investments.

GLAM Evaluation Workshop at Wikimania 2014 – introductory presentation.

“20140808 GLAM Evaluation Workshop intro” by EdSaperia, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

In the scope of the Wikipedia Voice Intro Project that he founded, Andy Marbett (http://pigsonthewing.org.uk) spoke about the beauty of having recordings of notable people where they not just pronounce their names in their native languages, but introduce themselves with their dates and places of birth. With BBC’s collaboration, this project has grew to an avenue on Wikipedia to enrich biography-articles. This is indeed a project that has run at absolutely zero cost and aims at making Wikimedians meet their stars and document their voices forever on the Internet. The full video of the talk is available here.

Subhashish Panigrahi, Programme Officer, Access To Knowledge, Centre for Internet and Society

by carlosmonterrey at September 20, 2014 12:09 AM

September 19, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

A Focused Approach for Maithili Wikipedia

Biplab Anand, a versatile contributor on Maithili and Nepdali Wikipedia and also the admin of the Facebook page on Maithili Wikipedia.

In June of 2014, the Wikimedia blog had an interview with Ram Prasad Joshi, a dedicated Wikipedian contributing in six languages – Nepali, Sanskrit, Hindi, Fiji Hindi, Bhojpuri and Gujarati from his unelectrified remote village in the Western hills of Nepal. A few days back, this linguist Wikipedian posted a message of appreciation on compatriot Biplab Anand’s Incubator talk page: “बिप्लवजी धन्यवाद यो विकिलाई बाहिर निकाल्ने प्रयास गर्नु पर्ने छ।” which translated states, “Biplab ji, thank you for the efforts to bring out this wiki” – referring to Biplab Anand’s dedicated approach in trying to transform Maithili Wikipedia from its current incubator status into a full-fledged Wikipedia. Apart from appreciation from several other Wikipedians, on August 17, 2014, Rajbiraj Today, a daily newspaper from Saptari, Nepal, carried a special feature highlighting the coordinated tasks accomplished by individuals such as Biplab Anand and Ganesh Paudel with a focus on the genesis of Maithili Wikipedia.

One of the strategies adopted in the effort to launch a Maithili Wikipedia has been the use of social media. Biplab Anand has created a Facebook page to spread awareness and educate the people on Maithili Wikipedia. At the time that I wrote this post, the page had garnered 116 likes. The next strategy adopted by Biplab was to post awareness messages for Maithili-knowing Wikipedians on other language Wikipedias where a substantial number of editors could also become aware of the language. As part of this strategy, a message was posted on the Hindi Wikipedia Village Pump. During Wikimania 2014, another Maithili Wikipedian, Ganesh Paudel, managed to meet MF-Warburg, the admin, bureaucrat and importer of Wikimedia Incubator and also the member of the Language Committee, to discuss ways of unleashing the potential of an independent Maithili Wikipedia (see this discussion).

Ganesh Paudel, one of the high profile contributors of the Maithili and Nepali Wikipedias.

As these developments were in progress, I interviewed both Biplab Anand and Ganesh Paudel about the path ahead via a questionnaire. Both expressed their concern over the fact that a separate Maithili Wikipedia does not exist despite the language being native to over 40 million people in both Nepal and India. As to whether a Maithili organization can possibly support the language Wikipedia the way Samskrita Bharati does for Sanskrit Wikipedia (see this blog post), it emerged that currently it is not possible to expect such a strong institutional support for the cause. However, Biplab mentioned the possibility of garnering support from Maithili Sahitya Parishad Saptari Nepal in organizing Maithili Wikipedia Outreach programs in Nepal.

Regarding the quality improvement in the current content and contributions, it was felt that most of the articles are currently stubs and need revision. Similarly, the present articles are generally focused on personalities and places. However, a page on the essential prerequisite articles has been created and it is expected that as more editors join the arena, articles on diverse topics such as medicine, history, engineering, etc will also gain momentum. The vast geographical area where Maithili is spoken has given rise to a number of distinctly identifiable but mutually intelligible dialects. Biplab suggested the use of the Kalyani Maithili Dictionary as a standard for the language. Ganesh has identified several online resources which can be particularly helpful to the editors in accomplishing their tasks such as Bataah Maithili, Vidyapati, Videha, Mithila News, Esamaad and Mithila Lok. He also suggested that the next Maithili project could be the language Wikisource to start the documentation of ancient works.

There is a spirit of achievement among the small but growing community of Maithili Wikipedians, who are currently between 50-60 in number. Biplab Anand confirmed the presence of more than 1000 articles on the Maithili Incubator Project on his Hindi Wikipedia talk page. On the other hand, Ganesh Paudel highlighted that his efforts are not ending by simply getting the Maithili Wikipedia out of the incubator as he is equally concerned about having independent Limbu, Gurung, Tamang and Awadhi Wikipedias. He also spoke about a self-confident approach as a key to success in his statement “if you want Wikipedia in your language come forth, you are the best one to contribute for the growth of your language.” An encouraging development in this context is the assurance by MF-Warburg: “I’ll be glad to approve this project when the activity criteria are met,” referring to the need for sustained editing activity by the dedicated contributors for the next few months to get Maithili Wikipedia as a live and thriving project in the coming months.

Syed Muzammiluddin, Wikipedian

by carlosmonterrey at September 19, 2014 02:00 AM

New FOSS Outreach Program internships for female technical contributors

"Ghoshal, Sucheta staff photo Sept 2013" by Sucheta Ghoshal, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 "Rachel workathome" by Rachel99, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 "Himeshi De Silva" by Akila Panditha, under PD-author "GorillaWarfare, cropped" by Ktr101, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 "Schottlender, Moriel March 2014" by Myleen Hollero, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 "RtDwd" by Rtdwivedi, under CC-BY-3.0

Former Wikimedia participants in the FOSS OPW and the GSoC

The Free and Open Source Software Outreach Program for Women offers paid internships to developers and other technical contributors working on projects together with free software organizations. The program is run by the GNOME Foundation, joined by a stellar group of free software projects. You can learn about how this program works in this cartoon. Wikimedia is a strong stakeholder of this initiative. It fits into our strategy to prioritize efforts that empower disadvantaged and underrepresented communities by overcoming barriers to participation. There is no technical reason to have women underrepresented in open source projects, yet this is the reality we still have today.

So here we are in another OPW round, ready to keep working toward the goal of breaking even. We welcome candidates! This call is open to Wikimedia volunteers (editors, developers, etc.) and also to people who would contribute for the first time in our projects. We have a list of project ideas and we are also open to hear your own proposals.

In past editions, we have seen that candidates coming through a direct recommendation have good chances of success. It is also known that many good potential candidates will be reluctant to step in, but they will if someone (like you) encourages them to apply, or to contact us with any questions. You can make a difference. If you know women with background / interest in software development or open source and full time availability between December and March, please forward them this invitation.

Success stories

Wikimedia joined the FOSS OPW program in 2012 in its fifth round, the first one open to other organizations beyond GNOME. Sucheta Goshal and Teresa Cho were among the first Wikimedia interns. Later they became contractors for the Wikimedia Foundation in the Language Engineering and the Analytics team, respectively. Rachel Thomas joined the next round in 2013 with an internship on Quality Assurance and some time later she got a job in Boston on the same field.

In the Summer-in-Northern-Hemisphere edition, we synchronize our participation in OPW and Google Summer of Code (GSoC), a successful tactical move that has brought many Wikimedian women to a predominantly masculine program. Moriel Schottlender applied simultaneously to OPW and Google Summer of Code, her internship was devoted to the development of a VisualEditor plugin, and now she is working full time as a member of that team, where her former mentors are now her colleagues. In the same round, Aarti Kumari Dwivedi completed her project Refactoring of ProofreadPage extension and a few months later she was one of the mentors in Wikimedia’s first participation in Google Code-in. Himeshi De Silva worked successfully on a Semantic MediaWiki extension, and since then she has been participating in a series of free software events in Asia, Europe, and (soon) America. Liangent and Molly White (aka GorillaWarfare) already were established community contributors, they submitted proposals about problems they knew well and suffered as volunteers, and they were able to work full time on them during a Summer, getting close to fixing them.

Introduce yourself, ask, apply

The application period starts on September 22nd and ends one month later on October 22nd. Candidates who announce their plans early and get in touch with potential mentors have higher chances of success. The application process is well documented and we are already welcoming the early birds.

The last OPW round just finished a few weeks ago. Check the profiles and the reports of the six interns that took part. Feel free to contact them. Half year ago they were in the same situation as new candidates are now. You or someone you know could be selected for the next round. “OPW, Yes you should ladies.”

Quim Gil, Engineering Community Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 19, 2014 01:59 AM

September 18, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Editors find wide range of uses for source access donated by Newspapers.com

The Wikipedia Library is continuing to build opportunities for Wikimedia editors to access reliable sources, by negotiating with publishers to get Wikipedians free access accounts to their digital databases. We like to see Wikipedians able to access resources that they could only get through academic libraries or costly out of pocket subscriptions. We are very excited by the growing number of interested partners and the strength of our volunteers in helping distribute those accounts and who are also using that momentum to scale the project to include more publishers and more editors in more languages.

Our latest partnerships kicked off in August when we opened up several more access collaborations. New to the program is Newspapers.com which donated 100 full accounts and offers a fine across-the-Atlantic complement to the July British Newspaper Archive donation (see our prior coverage ). Volunteers who gain access to newspapers are very keen to use them to develop a whole range of different historical topics both well-documented in contemporary history texts and those under-represented in scholarship. To get a sense of just how useful and flexible historical newspapers can be for our users, we asked User:We hope to share how his access to Newspapers.com helps him on Wikipedia.

Traveling through history

Since I’ve always been interested in the past and what really happened in it, I’ve tended to draw quite a bit from newspapers. For me, accessing older newspapers is like traveling back in time for facts which may have been lost in later publications.

I’ve done quite a bit of work on Wikipedia around articles, such as US TV personalities Red Skelton and Perry Como, where my main sources were older newspaper stories. These sources allow me to “get closer” to when they were happening and allows us to present somewhat different information on Wikipedia than may be found in books on the given subject. When working on Red Skelton, I found that two book sources listed his son’s birthdate incorrectly. A newspaper article on the boy’s death said he was ten days shy of his tenth birthday; checking California vital records showed that the newspaper story had his birthday correct.

Wikipedia is a wonderful environment for capturing this information and correcting it for public record: almost everyone visits Wikipedia for research and providing both the older sources alongside new sources ensures that future researchers can discover the same information I did.

Exploring an old locomotive

The postcard from the Library of Congress uploaded by We hope and setting him off to develop the William Crooks article.

“William Crooks at station” by National Photo Company, Restoration by Adam Cuerden, under PD-National Photo Company

Recently, I became interested in the locomotive William Crooks when I discovered the engine while uploading public domain railroad photos and postcards to Wikimedia Commons. The old engine has an interesting history: it was built in 1861, almost destroyed by a fire in 1868 and was saved from the scrapyard by the Great Northern Railway’s president, James J. Hill, around the turn of the century.

When researching the Wikipedia article, a copy of an old railroad brochure about the train helped fill in some information, and provided photos of the William Crooks in various places after it was officially retired. The brochure helped document its many tours made under its own power across the country, such as the 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse in Baltimore and the 1939 World’s Fair, but there still was not enough information to expand on the article.

That changed with access to the older newspapers available on Newspapers.com. I have been able to add much more specific information. For example, I found an article with an interview of Albion Smith, who restored the locomotive after the 1868 fire and was one of its early engineers. Mr. Smith was instrumental in saving the old engine from the scrapyard by speaking to James J. Hill about the situation. Another interview in the article was with John J. Maher, who started as a fireman on the William Crooks. Mr. Maher helped highlight the earlier wood-burning days of the locomotive. These interviews allowed me to better document the trains transformation from wood-burner to a coal-burner. I hope to further expand the article wit many of my other Newspapers.com clippings.

More than just research

Having Newspapers.com access has also made it possible to verify the copyright status of comic strip images uploaded by various users over the years. Our community on Wikipedia and sister sites like the free media repository Wikimedia Commons, want to ensure every piece of material is free from non-free copyright claims when we publish it so it can be easily reused by our readership. We carefully screen images uploaded by thousands of contributors to make sure the copyright statements are accurate. Sometimes older images are uploaded to Wikipedia under a public domain claim due to age, but were not in fact public domain, or couldn’t be easily checked for their copyright status because they had been uploaded without contextual information like dates of first publication. Having access to a larger collection of newspapers provides us with the needed information so that I can double-check the original publication status of the comics, and allows me to send those images to Wikimedia Commons to be used and enjoyed by more people.

An example of one of the comics that We hope was able to verify the license of via a clipping.

“Frecklesfriends3598″ by Copyright 1935-NEA Service-Artist-Merrill Blosser, under PD US not renewed

In other contexts, I am using Newspapers.com to explore topics such biographies of public figures like Ruth Etting, the star of the Amos ‘n’ Andy television series Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and the bandleader and composer Paul Weston. Being able to capture all of my research with clippings allows me to share them with collaborators on those articles. For example, I recently worked with fellow Wikipedian User:This is Paul to explore the life and history of murder victim Joan Robinson Hill, who was discussed in the book Blood and Money. We were really successful in expanding the article using Newspapers.com information to compile what happened after the book was published. We were also able to add some previously “lost” information to the Featured Article Jo Stafford. An interview I discovered with Jo Stafford gave her first-hand account of how her hit record “Tim-tay-shun” was recorded with Red Ingle and her use of the name Cinderella G. Stump on the label.

Having access to so many sources means a lot of clippings on any given subject. I find that when I start searching on a subject, I start clipping and clipping and clipping, because there are just so many good sources that need to be added to the Wikipedia article! This partnership has helped make public a great deal of information about many, many different subjects and I hope we will be able to continue making these discoveries through the access to older newspapers.

Alex Stinson (User:Sadads), Project Manager, The Wikipedia Library
Jake Orlowitz (User:Ocaasi), Head of The Wikipedia Library

Editors and Publishers who are interested in contacting The Wikipedia Library can email wikipedialibrary@gmail.com

by carlosmonterrey at September 18, 2014 11:41 PM

September 17, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikipedia Is Built on Transparency

This post is cross-posted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s blog. It is part of a Week of Action: A World Without Mass Surveillance held by the EFF and other organizations in September 2014 to bring attention to the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, which support the application of human rights to mass surveillance.

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower people around the world to develop freely licensed educational content and to globally disseminate that content. We believe that transparency and user notification are essential to the success of that mission. Keeping users fully informed of our activities and our dealings with government authorities gives them the necessary freedom to share openly and safely.

While new technologies have empowered free speech and access to information on the Wikimedia projects and on the Internet as a whole, they have also enabled governments and organizations to monitor speech and activity at an unprecedented scale. In our current digital environment, and especially in light of the global surveillance revelations beginning in 2013, people are understandably wary about privacy and about their personal information being accessed by unwelcome parties.

We believe that transparency is a vital solution to this climate of uncertainty. Wikipedia, the other Wikimedia projects, and the rest of the Internet cannot flourish in an ecosystem where people are hindered from speaking, reading, sharing, and creating freely. We therefore believe that we have an urgent responsibility to inform users about our dealings and about potential threats to their privacy.

In response to these concerns, we recently issued a Transparency Report that sheds light on requests for user data that we receive from governments and private parties. It shows that we only provided information in 14% of all cases over the past two years. We fight back against vague and overbroad requests, and in every case, we carefully evaluate each request and notify users when possible that their information is being asked for. In certain cases, we may fund assistance for users to fight an invalid request under our Legal Fees Assistance Program or Defense of Contributors Program. Often, we will not even have the requested data given that we purposefully collect very little non-public information and retain identifying information for only a short period of time.

Transparency is a core value of the Wikimedia movement: anyone can see how a Wikipedia article has been created, contribute to the software that runs Wikimedia projects, or learn about the Wikimedia Foundation’s activities. Where possible, we aim to do our work in public because we believe in decentralized decision-making and accountability to the people who create the Wikimedia projects, to donors, and to readers. Transparency and public oversight, however, should not end with the Wikimedia Foundation. In the same way that projects like Wikipedia rely on open practices, the public cannot thrive without transparent and publicly accountable institutions.

Generally, companies cannot be transparent with users if they are legally restrained from providing notice, such as by a gag order. The Necessary and Proportionate Principles calls on governments to protect transparency by “not interfering with service providers in their efforts to publish the procedures they apply when assessing and complying with State requests.” Companies must have the freedom to be clear and transparent with their users, so that users can trust both the websites they visit and their government.

The Necessary and Proportionate Principles provide a good framework for pushing governments to stand up for our Internet freedoms. The growing chorus of organizations releasing transparency reports, including the Wikimedia Transparency report, reminds us that organizations have a role to protect users and provide transparency when governments and abusive parties put our freedoms at risk.

Yana Welinder, Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation

Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation

* Many thanks to Joseph Jung, Wikimedia Legal Intern, for his help in preparing this post

by carlosmonterrey at September 17, 2014 07:16 PM

Global Metrics for Grants: one way of doing, reporting and learning better

We want to understand in a better way the work being done by Wikimedia communities all over the world.

“Wikimania2014 GrantmakingLearningDay 11″ by AWang (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Wikimedia movement is known for its diversity, on many levels: individuals, groups and organizations, in different contexts, are invested in achieving the same goal of free knowledge. As community members seeking and executing grants have worked with grant committee members and the WMF Grantmaking team, we have reached a point of shared understanding: we need to do better at learning from each other and doing more to demonstrate our impact.

Starting this month, the Grantmaking team is putting into effect a set of Global Metrics, that will help us all understand, appreciate and be accountable for some of the work being done by Wikimedia communities worldwide. In particular, we are seeking a shared aggregate understanding of how successful we are at expanding participation and improving content on our projects. These will have the form of a table template that will be included in the reporting form, starting on future grants, from Round 1 2014-2015.

These metrics are not meant to replace, but to complement, each grant and grantee’s individual metrics and measures of success, both qualitative and quantitative.

Why Global Metrics and how were they designed?

For the past two years, we have worked with community members to build a funding framework that supports a spectrum of needs, ideas and initiatives from across the movement, led by individuals to established organizations. This framework was also supported by a self-evaluation strategy, that allowed any community member to build their own metrics and report against their own goals.

A look back: the outcomes of the first batch of FDC grants

“Learning and Evaluation. FDC Impact 2012-14″ by Jessie Wild Sneller, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Over the past year, we have begun reviewing grant progress and impact reports[1], and amongst many insights, three stand out: people are still finding it difficult to measure their work in clear ways; the larger the grants, the less proportionate the impact seems to be (and one challenge may be reporting); and we are finding it difficult to assess the collective impact of the considerable work supported by these grants in any systematic fashion. In particular, as a movement, we are not yet skillful in offering both the stories and the numbers, that describe how our offline work positively impacts our online successes.

After two years of observing the goals and measures of various grants projects, a few core metrics came out as indicators that are commonly used by community members in different contexts. These measures, however, were not calculated consistently across projects. As a result, it was difficult to convey outwards what we are accomplishing as a movement. Global Metrics, in this sense, provide a shared set of indicators that can be used across projects, to report on results. In addition, we did our best to design metrics that can, currently, be assessed with the support of tools built and used across the movement.

After research and consultation with some grantees and grants committee members, the new Global Metrics focus on participation, content and learning processes:

  • Number of active editors involved.
  • Number of new registered users.
  • Number of individuals involved.
  • Number of new images added to Wikimedia articles/pages.
  • Number of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects.
  • Number of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects.
  • Learning question: Did your work increase the motivation of contributors and how do you know?

The main challenge these Global Metrics are trying to overcome is the limited ability observed in Wikimedia projects and programs to sum up inputs, outputs and outcomes in self-evaluation and thereby to give us all a more cogent sense of the collective impact of our work. We hope that more cohesive reporting will help us celebrate our successes as a global movement, but also point out where we are not making an appreciable difference. We recognize, however, that numbers are not enough.

Numbers do not tell the full story

We are therefore counting on community members to offer both numbers and stories, since numbers only make sense within context. Secondly and critically, global metrics are not the only measures of success we will learn from: each grantee will continue to define and assess themselves against measures of success that are critical to them. We don’t expect that grant reports should or will focus only on these seven measures. In fact, some key insights that would significantly improve the effectiveness of our work may not be easily measurable, but we know and understand their impact: for instance, volunteer motivation.

Presentation from 29 July 2014 on the 2013-14 impact reports of PEG grantees. Covers the outcomes of 36 grants that submitted reports during 2013-14, with key learnings.

“PEG Impact learning series – 2014 July” by Jwild (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Global Metrics are also limited in what they can currently measure. As they stand, they do not directly measure quality, retention, or readership. In addition, they may not offer the right metrics for all types of grants. For instance, an individual engagement grant for research on our wiki projects may not directly produce content or recruit new editors. In this case, the grantee might only be able to report the number of individuals and/or active editors involved.

As we implement these metrics, keeping in mind the potential and the limitations of Global Metrics will help us learn from what is useful and what we may continue to need to improve upon.

Room to grow, work and be successful together

As we pilot this new set of metrics in the movement, the Grantmaking team will be available to provide consultation and support to grantees. We also encourage everyone involved in reporting to reach out to us to learn more what each metric means and how to measure them. We have prepared a set of learning patterns, available on the Evaluation portal on Meta, that go through each of the Global Metrics and explain how to gather data for those. We will work with community members during the next few months to further develop these information resources and to create new ones. Please check Grants:Evaluation/News and follow @WikiEval on Twitter for updates. We also encourage all community members to comment, share concerns and ask any questions related to global metrics. Do join the conversation on the talk page and reach out to the team at eval [at] wikimedia [dot] org: come talk to us, let’s do better together!

Anasuya Sengupta, Senior Director of Grantmaking, Wikimedia Foundation

María Cruz, Community Coordinator of Program Evaluation & Design, Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 17, 2014 06:06 PM

September 16, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Emmanuel Engelhart, Inventor of Kiwix: the Offline Wikipedia Browser

This user profile is part of a series about Offline Wikipedia.

Emmanuel Engelhart’s “offline Wikipedia”, Kiwix, is entirely open source.

“Emmanuel Engelhart-49″ by VGrigas (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Kiwix running a copy of Wikipedia in German on an OLPC laptop operated by Engelhart in 2012.

“Berlin Hackathon 2012-48″ by Victorgrigas, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Wikipedia’s goal is to be the sum of human knowledge, available to anyone at any time, but when billions of people have no internet access at all, how can that goal be realized? The answer according to software developer Emmanuel Engelhart (User:Kelson) is quite simple – take Wikipedia offline.

Together with Renaud Gaudin, he invented Kiwix, an open source software which allows users to download a copy of Wikipedia in its entirety for offline reading.

Kiwix uses all of Wikipedia’s content through the Parsoid wiki parser to package articles into an open source .zim file that can be read by the special Kiwix browser. Since Kiwix was released in 2007, dozens of languages of Wikipedia have been made available as .zim files, as has other free content, such as Wikisource, Wiktionary and Wikivoyage.

After becoming a Wikipedia editor in 2004, Engelhart became interested in discussions of offline versions of Wikipedia. At the time, Engelhart was in his mid-20s and living in his small village near the town of Vendôme, a few hundred kilometers south of Paris. Learning that a 2003 proposal by Jimmy Wales to create a CD version of Wikipedia, Version 1.0, never made its initial timescale, inspired Engelhart to take action.

He argues that access to information is a basic right that the whole world should be entitled to. “Water is a common good. You understand why you have to care about water. Wikipedia is the same; it’s a common good. We have to care about Wikipedia.”

“Tools are not neutral. They have a big impact on our society and software is [becoming] always more central.” Engelhart says. “We live in an industrial and technical world…so how we make software, what are the rules around software, is really important.”

Engelhart elaborated his reasons for creating the software in an email: “The contents of Wikipedia should be available for everyone! Even without Internet access. This is why I have launched the Kiwix project. Our users are all over the world: sailors on the oceans, poor students thirsty for knowledge, globetrotters almost living in planes, world’s citizens suffering from censorship or free minded prisoners. For all these people, Kiwix provides a simple and practical solution to ponder about the world.”

Profile by Joe Sutherland, Wikimedia Foundation Communications volunteer

Interview by Victor Grigas, Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller

Do you have a story about your use of Offline Wikipedia that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Email: vgrigas(at)wikimedia.org


by carlosmonterrey at September 16, 2014 01:55 AM

September 14, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, August 2014

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png

Vol: 4 • Issue: 8 • August 2014 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

A Wikipedia-based Pantheon; new Wikipedia analysis tool suite; how AfC hamstrings newbies

With contributions by: Federico Leva, Piotr Konieczny, Maximilian Klein, and Pine

Wikipedia in all languages used to rank global historical figures of all time

A research group at MIT led by Cesar A. Hidalgo published[1] a global “Pantheon” (probably the same project already mentioned in our December 2012 issue), where Wikipedia biographies are used to identify and “score” thousands of global historical figures of all time, together with a previous compilation of persons having written sources about them. The work was also covered in several news outlets. We won’t summarise here all the details, strengths and limits of their method, which can already be found in the well-written document above.

Many if not most of the headaches encountered by the research group lie in the work needed to aggregate said scores by geographical areas. It’s easy to get the city of birth of a person from Wikipedia, but it’s hard to tell to what ancient or modern country that city corresponds, for any definition of “country”. (Compare our recent review of a related project by a different group of researchers that encountered the same difficulties: “Interactions of cultures and top people of Wikipedia from ranking of 24 language editions”.) The MIT research group has to manually curate a local database; in an ideal world, they’d just fetch from Wikidata via an API. Aggregation by geographical area, for this and other reasons, seems of lesser interest than the place-agnostic person rank.

The most interesting point is that a person is considered historically relevant when being the subject of an article on 25 or more editions of Wikipedia. This method of assessing an article’s importance is often used by editors, but only as an unscientific approximation. It’s a useful finding that it proved valuable for research as well, though with acknowledged issues. The study is also one of the rare times researchers bother to investigate Wikipedia in all languages at the same time and we hope there will be follow-ups. For instance, it could be interesting to know which people with an otherwise high “score” were not included due to the 25+ languages filter, which could then be further tweaked based on the findings. As an example of possible distortions, Wikipedia has a dozen subdomains for local languages of Italy, but having an article in 10 italic languages is not an achievement of “global” coverage more than having 1.

The group then proceeded to calculate a “historical cultural production index” for those persons, based on pageviews of the respective biographies (PV). This reviewer would rather call it a “historical figures modern popularity index”. While the recentism bias of the Internet (which Wikipedia acknowledges and tries to fight back) for selection is acknowledged, most of the recentism in this work is in ranking, because of the usage of pageviews. As WikiStats shows, 20% of requests come from a country (the US) with only 5% of the world population, or some 0.3% of the total population in history (assumed as ~108 billion). Therefore there is an error/bias of probably two orders of magnitude in the “score” for “USA” figures; perhaps three, if we add that five years of pageviews are used as sample for the whole current generation. L* is an interesting attempt to correct the “languages count” for a person (L) in the cases where visits are amassed in single languages/countries; but a similar correction would be needed for PV as well.

From the perspective of Wikipedia editors, it’s a pity that Wikipedia is the main source for such a rank, because this means that Wikipedians can’t use it to fill gaps: the distribution of topic coverage across languages is complex and far from perfect; while content translation tools will hopefully help make it more even, prioritisation is needed. It would be wonderful to have a rank of notably missing biographies per language editions of Wikipedia, especially for under-represented groups, which could then be forwarded to the local editors and featured prominently to attract contributions. This is a problem often worked on, from ancient times to recent tools, but we really lack something based on third party sources. We have good tools to identify languages where a given article is missing, but we first need a list (of lists) of persons with any identifier, be it authority record or Wikidata entry or English name or anything else that we can then map ourselves.

The customary complaint about inconsistent inclusion criteria can also be found: «being a player in a second division team in Chile is more likely to pass the notoriety criteria required by Wikipedia Editors than being a faculty at MIT», observe the MIT researchers. However, the fact that nobody has bothered to write an article on a subject doesn’t mean that the project as a whole is not interested in having that article; articles about sports people are just easier to write, the project needs and wants more volunteers for everything. Hidalgo replied that he had some examples of deletions in mind; we have not reviewed them, but it’s also possible that the articles were deleted for their state rather than for the subject itself, a difference to which “victims” of deletion often fail to pay attention to.

WikiBrain: Democratizing computation on Wikipedia

– by Maximilianklein

When analyzing any Wikipedia version, getting the underlying data can be a hard engineering task, beyond the difficulty of the research itself. Being developed by researchers from Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, WikiBrain aims to “run a single program that downloads, parses, and saves Wikipedia data on commodity hardware.” [2] Wikipedia dump-downloaders and parsers have long existed, but WikiBrain is more ambitious in that it tries to be even friendlier by introducing three main primitives: a multilingual concept network, semantic relatedness algorithms, and geospatial data integration. With those elements, the authors are hoping that Wikipedia research will become a mix-and-match affair.

Waldo Tobler’s First Law of Geography – “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things” – can be shown true for Wikipedia articles in just a few lines of code with WikiBrain.

The first primitive is the multilingual concept network. Since the release of Wikidata, the Universal Concepts that all language versions of Wikipedia represent have mostly come to be defined by the Wikidata item that each language mostly links to. “Mostly” is a key word here, because there are still some edge cases, like the English Wikipedia’s distinguishing between the concepts of “high school” and “secondary school“, while others do not. WikiBrain will give you the Wikidata graph of multilingual concepts by default, and the power to tweak this as you wish.

The next primitive is semantic relatedness (SR), which is the process of quantifying how close two articles are by their meaning. There have been literally hundreds of SR algorithms proposed over the last two decades. Some rely on Wikipedia’s links and categories directly. Others require a text corpus, for which Wikipedia can be used. Most modern SR algorithms can be built one way or another with Wikipedia. WikiBrain supplies the ability to use five state-of-the-art SR algorithms, or their ensemble method – a combination of all 5.

Already at this point an example was given of how to mix our primitives. In just a few lines of code, one could easily find which articles in all languages were closest to the English article on “jazz”, and which were also a tagged as a film in Wikidata.

The last primitive is a suite of tools that are useful for spatial computation. So extracting location data out of Wikipedia and Wikidata can become a standardized process. Incorporated are some classic solutions to the “geoweb scale problem” – that regardless of an entity’s footprint in space, it is represented by a point. That is a problem one shouldn’t have to think about, and indeed, WikiBrain will solve it for you under the covers.

To demonstrate the power of WikiBrain the authors then provide a case study wherein they replicate previous research that took “thousands of lines of code”, and do it in “just a few” using WikiBrain’s high-level syntax. The case study is cherry-picked as is it previous research of one of the listed authors on the paper – of course it’s easy to reconstruct one’s own previous research in a framework you custom-built. The case study is a empirical testing of Tobler’s first law of geography using Wikipedia articles. Essentially one compares the SR of articles versus their geographic closeness – and it’s verified they are positively linked.

Does the world need an easier, simpler, more off-the-shelf Wikipedia research tool? Yes, of course. Is WikiBrain it? Maybe or maybe not, depending on who you are. The software described in the paper is still version 0.3. There are notes explaining the upcoming features of edit history parsing, article quality ranking, and user data parsing. The project and its examples are written in Java, which is a language choice that targets a specific demographic of researchers, and alienates others. That makes WikiBrain a good tool for Java programmers who do not know how to parse off-line dumps, and have an interest in either multilingual concept alignment, semantic relatedness, and spatial relatedness. For everyone else, they will have to make do with one of the other 20+ alternative parsers and write their own glueing code. That’s OK though; frankly the idea to make one research tool to “rule them all” is too audacious and commandeering for the open-source ecosystem. Still that doesn’t mean that WikiBrain can’t find its userbase and supporters.

Newcomer productivity and pre-publication review

It’s time for another interesting paper on newcomer retention[3] from authors with a proven track record of tackling this issue. This time they focus on the Articles for Creation|Wikipedia:Articles for Creation|Articles for Creation mechanism. The authors conclude that instead of improving the success of newcomers, AfC in fact further decreases their productivity. The authors note that once AfC was fully rolled out around mid-2011, it began to be widely used – the percentage of newcomers using it went up from <5% to ~25%. At the same time, the percentage of newbie articles surviving on Wikipedia went down from ~25% to ~15%. The authors hypothesize that the AfC process is unfriendly to newcomers due to the following issues: 1) it’s too slow, and 2) it hides drafts from potential collaborators.

The authors find that the AfC review process is not subject to insurmountable delays; they conclude that “most drafts will be submitted for review quickly and that reviews will happen in a timely manner.”. In fact, two-thirds of reviews take place within a day of submission (a figure that positively surprised this reviewer, though a current AfC status report suggests a situation has worsened since: “Severe backlog: 2599 pending submissions”). In either case, the authors find that about a third or so of newcomers using the AfC system fail to understand the fact that they need to finalize the process by submitting their drafts to the review at all – a likely indication that the AfC instructions need revising, and that the AfC regulars may want to implement a system of identifying stalled drafts, which in some cases may be ready for mainspace despite having never been officially “submitted” (due to their newbie creator not knowing about this step or carrying it out properly).

However, the authors do stand by their second hypothesis: they conclude that the AfC articles suffer from not receiving collaborative help that they would get if they were mainspaced. They discuss a specific AfC, for the article Dwight K. Shellman, Jr/Dwight Shellman. This article has been tagged as potentially rescuable, and has been languishing in that state for years, hidden in the AfC namespace, together with many other similarly backlogged articles, all stuck in low-visibility limbo and prevented from receiving proper Wikipedia-style collaboration-driven improvements (or deletion discussions) as an article in the mainspace would receive.

The researchers identify a number of other factors that reduce the functionality of the AfC process. As in many other aspects of Wikipedia, negative feedback dominates. Reviewers are rarely thanked for anything, but are more likely to be criticized for passing an article deemed problematic by another editor; thus leading to the mentality that “rejecting articles is safest” (as newbies are less likely to complain about their article’s rejection than experienced editors about passing one). AfC also suffers from the same “one reviewer” problem as GA – the reviewer may not always be qualified to carry out the review, yet the newbies have little knowledge how to ask for a second opinion. The authors specifically discuss a case of reviewers not familiar with the specific notability criteria: “[despite being notable] an article about an Emmy-award winning TV show from the 1980’s was twice declined at AfC, before finally being published 15 months after the draft was started”. Presumably if this article was not submitted to a review it would never be deleted from the mainspace.

The authors are critical of the interface of the AfC process, concluding that it is too unfriendly to newbies, instruction wise: “Newcomers do not understand the review process, including how to submit articles for review and the expected timeframe for reviews” and “Newcomers cannot always find the articles they created. They may recreate drafts, so that the same content is created and reviewed multiple times. This is worsened by having multiple article creation spaces(Main, userspace, Wikipedia talk, and the recently-created Draft namespace“.

The researchers conclude that AfC works well as a filtering process for the encyclopedia, however “for helping and training newcomers [it] seems inadequate”. AfC succeeds in protecting content under the (recently established) speedy deletion criterion G13, in theory allowing newbies to keep fixing it – but many do not take this opportunity. Nor can the community deal with this, and thus the authors call for a creation of “a mechanism for editors to find interesting drafts”. That said, this reviewer wants to point out that the G13 backlog, while quite interesting (thousands of articles almost ready for main space …), is not the only backlog Wikipedia has to deal with – something the writers overlook. The G13 backlog is likely partially a result of imperfect AfC design that could be improved, but all such backlogs are also an artifact of the lack of active editors affecting Wikipedia projects on many levels.

In either case, AfC regulars should carefully examine the authors suggestions. This reviewer finds the following ideas in particular worth pursuing. 1) Determine which drafts need collaboration and make them more visible to potential editors. Here the authors suggest use of a recent academic model that should help automatically identify valuable articles, and then feeding those articles to SuggestBot. 2) Support newcomers’ first contributions – almost a dead horse at this point, but we know we are not doing enough to be friendly to newcomers. In particular, the authors note that we need to create better mechanisms for newcomers to get help on their draft, and to improve the article creation advice – especially the Article Wizard. (As a teacher who has introduced hundreds of newcomers to Wikipedia, this reviewer can attest that the current outreach to newbies on those levels is grossly inadequate.)

A final comment to the community in general: was AfC intended to help newcomers, or was it intended from the start to reduce the strain on new page patrollers by sandboxing the drafts in the first place? One of the roles of AfC is to prevent problematic articles from appearing in the mainspace, and it does seem that in this role it is succeeding quite well. English Wikipedia community has rejected the flagged revisions-like tool, but allowed implementation of it on a voluntary basis for newcomers, who in turn may not often realize that by choosing the AfC process, friendly on the surface, they are in fact slow-tracking themselves, and inviting extraordinary scrutiny. This leads to a larger question that is worth considering: we, the Wikipedia community of active editors, have declined to have our edits classified as second-tier and hidden from the public until they are reviewed, but we are fine pushing this on to the newbies. To what degree is this contributing to the general trend of Wikipedia being less and less friendly to newcomers? Is the resulting quality control worth turning away potential newbies? Would we be here if years ago our first experience with Wikipedia was through AfC?


PLOS Biology is an open-access peer-reviewed scientific journal covering all aspects of biology. Publication began on October 13, 2003.
(“PLoS Biology cover April 2009″ by PLoS, under CC-BY-2.5)

15% of PLOS Biology articles are cited on Wikipedia

A conference paper titled “An analysis of Wikipedia references across PLOS publications”[4] asked the following research questions: “1) To what extent are scholarly articles referenced in Wikipedia, and what content is particularly likely to be mentioned?” and “2) How do these Wikipedia references correlate with other article-level metrics such as downloads, social media mentions, and citations?”. To answer this, the authors analyzed which PLOS articles are referenced on Wikipedia. They found that as of March 2014, about 4% of PLOS articles were mentioned on Wikipedia, which they conclude is “similar to mentions in science blogs or the post-publication peer review service, F1000Prime“. About half of articles mentioned on Wikipedia are also mentioned on Facebook, suggesting that being cited on Wikipedia is related to being picked up by other social media. Most of Wikipedia cites come from PLOS Genetics, PLOS Biology and other biology/medicine related PLOS outlets, with PLOS One accounting for only 3% total, though there are indications this is changing over time. 15% of all articles from PLOS Biology have been cited on Wikipedia, the highest ratio among the studied journals. Unfortunately, this is very much a descriptive paper, and the authors stop short of trying to explain or predict anything. The authors also observe that “By far the most referenced PLOS article is a study on the evolution of deep-sea gastropods (Welch, 2010) with 1249 references, including 541 in the Vietnamese Wikipedia.”

“Big data and small: collaborations between ethnographers and data scientists”

Ethnography is often seen as the least quantitative branch of social science, and this[5] essay-like article’s style is a good illustration. This is, essentially, a self-reflective story of a Wikipedia research project. The author, an ethnographer, recounts her collaboration with two big data scholars in a project dealing with a large Wikipedia dataset. The results of their collaboration are presented here and have been briefly covered by our Newsletter in Issue 8/13. This article can be seen as an interesting companion to the prior, Wikipedia-focused piece, explaining how it was created, though it fails to answer questions of interest to the community, such as “why did the authors choose Wikipedia as their research ground” or about their experiences (if any) editing Wikipedia.

“Emotions under discussion: gender, status and communication in online collaboration”

Researchers investigated[6] “how emotion and dialogue differ depending on the status, gender, and the communication network of the ~12,000 editors who have written at least 100 comments on the English Wikipedia’s article talk pages.” Researchers found that male administrators tend to use an impersonal and neutral tone. Non-administrator females used more relational forms of communication. Researchers also found that “editors tend to interact with other editors having similar emotional styles (e.g., editors expressing more anger connect more with one another).” Authors of this paper will present their research at the September Wikimedia Research and Data showcase.


  1. http://pantheon.media.mit.edu/methods
  2. Sen, Shilad. “WikiBrain: Democratizing computation on Wikipedia“. OpenSym ’14 0 (0): 1–19. doi:10.1145/2641580.2641615.  Open access
  3. Jodi Schneider, Bluma S. Gelley Aaron Halfaker: Accept, decline, postpone: How newcomer productivity is reduced in English Wikipedia by pre-publication review http://jodischneider.com/pubs/opensym2014.pdf OpenSym ’14 , August 27–29, 2014, Berlin
  4. Fenner, Martin; Jennifer Lin (June 6, 2014), “An analysis of Wikipedia references across PLOS publications”, altmetrics14 workshop at WebSci, doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1048991 
  5. Ford, Heather (1 July 2014). “Big data and small: collaborations between ethnographers and data scientists“. Big Data & Society 1 (2): 2053951714544337. doi:10.1177/2053951714544337. ISSN 2053-9517. 
  6. Laniado, David; Carlos Castillo; Mayo Fuster Morell; Andreas Kaltenbrunner (2014-08-20). “Emotions under Discussion: Gender, Status and Communication in Online Collaboration”. PLoS ONE 9 (8): e104880. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104880. 

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 4 • Issue: 8 • August 2014
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email @WikiResearch on Identi.ca WikiResearch on Twitter[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by wikimediablog at September 14, 2014 12:18 AM

September 13, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Now available: Charting Diversity – Working together towards diversity in Wikipedia

The Compass of Diversity

(“Compass of diversity” by Wikimedia Deutschland, under CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Within the last couple of years, a discussion arose concerning the ratio of male to female contributors on Wikipedia. Various studies verified a significant gender gap within the group of editors. A number of countries have since started initiatives that specialize in supporting female contributors. These include events run by female Wikipedians like Netha Hussain in India and Emily Temple Wood in the U.S. These projects work towards increasing the number of women actively participating on Wikimedia projects.

In our recently published study, Charting Diversity, we identified additional instruments and field of actions that could have a positive effect on promoting gender diversity in editors. Two approaches are key: Developing an understanding and awareness on the subject of “diversity” within the community as well as nurturing and enhancing an open and a welcoming culture are highly important. As Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and others said at this year’s Wikimania, the promotion of mutual respect and a positive communication culture are essential for Wikipedia. Another field of action is our research on the connection between diversity and quality of knowledge production. There are still many unanswered questions as to how socio-demographic diversity affects the content of Wikipedia articles.

Download as a pdf file (424 KB)

“Charting Diversity” by Ilona Buchem (Beuth Univ.), Antje Ducki (Beuth Univ.), Sarah Khayati (Beuth Univ.), Julia Kloppenburg (WMDE), Nils Weichert (WMDE) , under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Charting Diversity deals with diversity and its importance to Wikipedia, documenting our current knowledge on the matter, setting out fields of action and concluding with a catalogue of measures to serve as motivation for our future work. The study incorporates the opinions and ideas of male and female Wikipedians, gathered at numerous meetings, workshops and at the 2013 Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Berlin.

This year Wikimedia Deutschland implemented two tools as a consequence of the study “Charting Diversity,” in collaboration with male and female Wikipedians. One of these is cMOOCs (connectivist Massive Open Online Course) – these are open online workshop-style meetings. Under the title Wiki Dialogue, all Wikipedians and Wikipedia enthusiasts have the opportunity to address problematic issues on cooperation within the community and discuss them in a structured, time-restricted and solution-oriented way. The second tool is topic-specific female multiplier networks, which we are currently setting up. Under the title Women Edit, female Wikipedians can actively take part in projects that motivate targeted participation, while also exploring the Wikipedian communication culture. The first results are the “Women in Science” edit-a-thon and the WikiWomen meetings, as well as other events.

Charting Diversity was created as part of the Wikipedia Diversity project. The project was developed in collaboration with Prof. Ilona Buchem, guest professor in digital media and diversity at the Gender and Technology Center of Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Anyone who wishes to order printed copies in English or German can write to us at bildung@wikimedia.de. The German version can be found here, while the English version is here.

We are looking forward to your questions and comments on Meta!

Happy reading!

Julia Kloppenburg (Wikimedia Deutschland)

by carlosmonterrey at September 13, 2014 09:11 AM

September 12, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

New images released are quickly put to use

The image is a pictorial illustration depicting possible scar lines after surgery for oesophageal cancer

Diagram of possible scar lines after surgery for oesophageal cancer, from Cancer Research UK and now on Commons.
(Image by Cancer Research UK, under CC-BY-SA-4.0 )

This post was written by John Byrne, Wikimedian in Residence at the Royal Society and Cancer Research UK and was first published on the Wikimedia UK blog

I’ve had two recent uploads of images released by organizations where I am Wikimedian in Residence. Neither of them are huge in quantity compared to some uploads, but I’m really pleased that an unusually large percentage of them are already used in articles. Many thanks to all the editors who put them in articles, especially Keilana for CRUK and Duncan.Hull for the Royal Society images.

The first release was by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), of 390 cancer-related diagrams, including many covering anatomy and cell biology. Many medical editors had said they were keen to have these available, and they have been quickly added to many articles, with 190 already being used, some twice, and mostly on high-traffic medical articles like breast cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer.

Wikipedia cancer articles tend to be mostly illustrated with alarming shots of tumours, or purple-stained pathology slides which convey little to non-professional readers. The new images are from the patient information pages on CRUK’s website and explain in simple terms basic aspects of the main cancers – where they arise, how they grow and spread. Some show surgical procedures that are hard to convey in prose.

The photo is a portrait of Professor Martin Hairer FRS

Professor Martin Hairer FRS, already used in 18 different language versions of Wikipedia
(“Professor Martin Hairer FRS” by Royal Society uploader, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 )

Many files have generous labelling inside the image. All the files are in svg format, allowing for easy translation of these labels into other languages, which should be especially useful over time. All use the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence. All the images of this type that CRUK have are now uploaded, but additional ones should be uploaded as they are created, and other types of image, including infographics, are in the pipeline.

We are also working to change the standard model release forms CRUK uses, so that photos and videos featuring people that are made in future will be easier to release. CRUK also has some very attractive short animations, which in some ways are more culturally neutral and so preferable for use around the world. These avoid model release issues and some should be coming soon.

The other release is by the Royal Society, the UK’s National Academy for the Sciences. I’ve now completed my term as Wikipedian in Residence there, but had got their agreement to release the official portrait photos of the new Fellows elected in 2014, with the intention to continue this in future years. Some photos of their building were also released.

By early September, only a month after uploading completed, of the 72 files uploaded 38 (53%) are now used in Wikipedia articles. The portrait of Professor Martin Hairer, who won the Fields Medal this August is used in 18 different language versions of Wikipedia, having fortuitously been uploaded just before it was announced that he had won the Fields Medal, which is often called the mathematician’s equivalent of a Nobel. Most of the biographies were started after this announcement. Other images of Fellows are used in the French, Chinese and Persian Wikipedias, as well as English.

The availability of high-quality portraits is very likely to encourage the writing of articles on those Fellows who still lack Wikipedia biographies. There are 15 of these, which is already a better (lower) figures than for recent years such as 2012, where 29 still lack biographies.

John Byrne, Wikimedian in Residence at the Royal Society and Cancer Research UK

by carlosmonterrey at September 12, 2014 12:05 AM

September 11, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

WikiProject Report: Bats, gloves and baseballs

Photo of Maury Wills, Milton Berle, Jimmy Piersall and Willie Mays in a salute to baseball on the television program The Hollywood Palace.

“Maury Wills Milton Berle Jimmy Piersall Willie Mays Hollywood Palace 1967″ by ABC Television, under public domain

Last month, the Wikipedia Signpost, the English Wikipedia’s community-written newsletter, talked with three members of WikiProject Baseball: users Go Phightins!, Wizardman and isaacl. A WikiProject is a team of contributors who aim to improve Wikipedia articles on a specific topic. Every WikiProject has a special focus area (for example, American history). In this case, the subject is baseball.

Like many Wikipedia editors, WikiProject contributors are often motivated by a great passion for a given topic. Perhaps user Go Phightins! embodies this devotion best. “Baseball is a sport that I really enjoy and is the namesake of my username, as a matter of fact, the Philadelphia Phillies are known colloquially as the Phightin Phils.” For contributors, WikiProject baseball is not just a way to contribute to baseball-related articles, it’s also a place to talk all things baseball with other liked-minded individuals, explains user issacl. “Discussions on the project talk page are generally constructive and embody a cooperative spirit, which keeps editors interested.”

A game on Chicago’s Wrigley Field, April 13, 2005

“Wrigley Field Apr 2005″ by Papushin, under PD

Every WikiProject has its own peculiarities specific to that topic. For example, WikiProject cities has to keep a constant watch for changing factors within a city like population or transportation. WikiProject Baseball is no different in its constant efforts to maintain baseball articles as up-to-date as possible – especially during the active season. “One of the most crucial aspects of the project is stat updates and vandalism watches to articles, especially on current players,” explains Go Phightins. Maintenance gets particularly busy during times of great commotion, like the trade deadline midway through the season. “There is rampant speculation within the media about baseball players and transactions between teams, so upholding the principle of WP:CRYSTAL ["Wikipedia is not a crystal ball"] by refuting speculative edits while at the same time remaining committed to being an encyclopedia anyone can edit is a time-consuming, but ultimately worthwhile task.”

Though this may all seem like a lot of work, rewards come in the form of knowing that you’ve contributed to the collective knowledge on a topic that is important to you – and occasionally your work might earn recognition as a featured article, too. Wizardman and Go Phightins! both have enjoyed having some of their articles featured. Go Phightins! explains, “Jim Thome, my one and only featured article, played Major League Baseball for 20+ years and reached featured status after more than a year of work. I thoroughly enjoyed working on his article, as he was one of my favorite players back when he was a member of the Phillies and really is a ‘good guy.’” Wizardman adds, “I’ve contributed several featured articles and good articles over my time. Greatest is tough to say, but it would be between Bob Feller, which was already a good article that I completely modified to get through to featured article status and Harmon Killebrew, which was a stub I suggested as a collaboration that eventually progressed from good to featured.”

When asked what else they wanted to share, Go Phightins! stressed the good-natured environment of WikiProject Baseball. “The editors at WikiProject Baseball are an awesome group of folks with whom to collaborate on articles, but perhaps more importantly, are dedicated to enforcing Wikipedia policy with tact and excellence in dealing with new and clueless contributors (a group of which I was once a member).” Wizardman jokingly adds, “It’s both a great and easy project to get involved in, even if you like the [rival team] you’re still welcome!” If you find yourself fond of baseball, interested in sports stats and looking for a great community to share a mutual interest, then WikiProject Baseball might be for you. User isaacl puts it simply: “With the state of baseball analysis ever-improving, competition in MLB continues to be fierce, and we are the beneficiaries—enjoy the season!”

For more info on WikiProject Baseball, read the full Signpost interview by user Seattle, or go to the WikiProject’s overview page.

Report by Carlos Monterrey, communications associate for the Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 11, 2014 07:14 PM

September 10, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wiki Loves Monuments 2014 has begun!

Calling all photographers! It’s that time of year again: Wiki Loves Monuments 2014 has begun! On Monday, September 1, for the fifth consecutive year, participants from around the world began competing in the world’s largest photography competition, which will last until the end of September. Like before, photos captured will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this coming Sunday, September 7th. The competition is driven by volunteers in an effort to document different cultural heritages online, boost participation in Wikimedia projects and – of course – illustrate Wikipedia articles.

Throughout the month, participants will upload their photos to Wikimedia Commons under a free license. These submissions will then be judged within their country to determine the best of that country. Judges of each country have until the end of the month of October to select the top 10 winning photos, where they will be submitted to an international panel for selection as the best overall. Winners are typically announced in early December. Past winning submissions have come from Switzerland (2013), India (2012), Romania (2011) and the Netherlands (2010).

Over the years, WLM has grown significantly. First started in 2010 in the Netherlands, the first competition yielded more than 12,500 pictures of Dutch monuments alone. The following year, a total of 18 countries throughout Europe participated, netting 168,208 photographs – a Guinness World Record for the largest photography competition. Last year, there were over 365,000 submissions to Wikimedia Commons, obliterating the record from the year before.

This year at least 37 countries from 5 continents are participating, with various countries making their WLM debut. Long-time participants include Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Switzerland, which will be joined for the first time by Iraq, Ireland, Lebanon, Macedonia and Pakistan.

Map of countries participating in Wiki Loves Monuments 2014.

“Despite having financial and social challenges, the Pakistani people are embracing the Internet and the growth rate of Internet users is on the rise,” says Saqib Qayyum, an active Wikimedian from Pakistan in a recent interview with Creative Commons. Saqib has high hopes for Pakistan’s first time in WLM:

“I believe once people participate in Wiki Loves Monuments Pakistan they will eventually start to contribute to Wikipedia, which is amongst the most successful products of the open and free internet. Thus, they will eventually come to learn about the concept of free culture movement. Wiki Loves Monuments Pakistan is the best, quickest and easiest way to introduce the free culture movement to the country.”

After all, he concludes, it may be challenging at times for many people to create a Wikipedia article, but “it’s pretty simple, fun and easy to take a photograph and upload it.”

The main organizer of Wiki Loves Monuments, (user:Romaine), holds similar hopes and goals as Saqib, particularly when it comes to coverage of countries from the Global South, which are inequitably represented.

“I noticed looking on Commons for photos of some new countries that these had almost no photos. Wiki Loves Monuments is changing that now and we are able to expand our visual knowledge in these countries with this contest. That is amazing.”

“Wiki Loves Monuments helps all the participating countries to have better coverage, but it is also a step in the right direction for helping those specifically lacking in coverage, especially in the Global South. Still many countries are missing in this year’s contest, as last year’s and year before that. Wiki Loves Monuments has just started, but we should already be thinking on how we can reach out to countries which have not participated before and how we can create the opportunity to get them involved,” he concludes. Whether you are participating from the Austria or Azerbaijan, Poland or Palestine, WLM is one way to help bridge the North-South Divide.

“We all need to play our part in ensuring a bright future for the open and free internet. I think the success of the movement globally depends on participation of people from not only the developed countries but also from the Global South”.

So go, get your camera and snap away. Also, stay up-to-date with the latest statistics from the competition here.

For the past winning photographs, see the list below.

Michael Guss, Communications Volunteer

2013 WLM winner. A RhB Ge 4/4 II with a push–pull train crosses the Wiesen Viaduct between Wiesen and Filisur, Switzerland (“RhB Ge 4-4 II Wiesener Viadukt” by Kabelleger, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)



2011 WLM winner. Winter picture of Chiajna Monastery (“Mănăstirea Chiajna – Giulești” by Mihai Petre, under CC-BY-SA-3.0-RO). The monastery is situated on the outskirts of Bucharest.


2010 WLM winner. Vijzelstraat 31 in Amsterdam. (“Amsterdam – Vijzelstraat 27-35 (halsgevel)” by Rudolphous, under CC-BY-SA-3.0-NL)

by carlosmonterrey at September 10, 2014 11:00 PM

September 06, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Will you join in celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wikimedia Commons?

Commons logo

Wikimedia Commons is turning 10 years old this Sunday — will you help celebrate? We’re asking everyone to join the Wikimedia community by sharing a freely licensed image with world.

Wikimedia Commons is one of the world’s largest resources of freely licensed educational media. It is the central repository of the majority of illustrations for Wikipedia, and it includes more than 22 million images of everything from the first human flight to the last of the quaggas. Historical treasures, like an 8th century Chinese star map, can be found alongside the most recent stars of the annual Eurovision song contest.

You can find the images on Commons illustrating the articles on Wikipedia, as the photographs in your newspapers, and as diagrams in your school projects. They are always freely licensed, and include the contributions of individual amateur photographers alongside donations from the collections of the world’s leading archives.

All this is possible thanks to the incredible work of the volunteer Wikimedia Commons community. Over ten years, four million registered users have uploaded the images and other media, curated licensing and attribution information, created categories, organized metadata, and removed non-educational content or images that are not freely licensed.[1] In addition to their work on-wiki, these volunteers have inspired partnerships with leading cultural institutions in order to make even more images and media available to the world.

The very first photograph uploaded to Wikimedia Commons ("Quail1.PNG " by Node, under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The very first photograph uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (“Quail1.PNG “ by Node, today under CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Wikimedia Commons officially launched on September 7th, 2004, with an informal email to a Wikimedia mailing list. The note, which pointed users to commons.wikimedia.org, expressed a vague hope that someday the project would “get[s] its own domain.” (We’re happy to say that it’s still right there!) That same day, user:Node_ue uploaded the very first photograph, a snapshot of two wild Gambel’s quail, taken while they “happen[ed] to be eating birdseed in my parents’ backyard.”

The creation of Commons had been suggested by then-volunteer Wikimedian Erik Moeller (today the deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation). His initial March 2004 proposal for a central repository for images, public domain texts, and other freely licensed documents expressed the hope that Commons could “provide the largest such repository of freely licensed material, with a quality control mechanism” — the Wikimedia community itself – “that other projects lack.”

The years since have witnessed creativity, collaborations, and even competitions — all originating from the Commons community — , evidence that its initial vision has become reality.

Over the past decade, the Commons community has greatly expanded the depth, content, and availability of photographs, historical documents, and other materials through partnerships with cultural institutions, known to Wikimedians as GLAMs (for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums). Donations from organizations such as the French National Library and the German National Archives have added priceless educational and cultural richness to Wikimedia Commons. This past summer, the U.S. National Archives, having already provided more than 100,000 images, announced its intention to upload all of its holdings to Commons.

Wikimedia Commons is also the home of the community-created Wiki Loves Monuments competition, now in its fifth year and currently inviting entries until the end of September. Wiki Loves Monuments, which asks people from around the globe to share images of their cultural heritage, including historic buildings, monuments, and other creations, has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest photo competition in the world.

We’re celebrating these and many more achievements and milestones on this 10th anniversary, and we’re asking you to celebrate with us. How can you get started? There’s a good guide here, but in general Commons is always looking for freely-licensed images that are not yet part of its collection, especially high quality images for Wikipedia articles that don’t yet have illustrations, or images of notable people, places, or historic events. If you don’t have a freely-licensed image of your own to share, you may want to consider starting a conversation with your local cultural institution about how they might contribute their collection to Commons.

By sharing appropriate images under a free license, you’re becoming a member of the Commons community of creators and curators, and ensuring the project’s strength for another decade to come.

Lila Tretikov, Executive Director

  1. In doing so, Wikimedia Commons volunteers have become well acquainted with the intricacies of international copyright law (did you know that users have researched and documented the “freedom of panorama” regulations for 147 countries on Commons?). The Commons’ community’s careful curation of images is evidenced by the extremely low number of copyright takedown requests received by the Foundation each year, as documented in our recently released transparency report.

A selection of images from Wikimedia Commons (you can also browse through the full collection of 6,389 Featured Pictures – images that the community has chosen to be highlighted as some of the finest on Commons):

"The Tetons and the Snake River" by Ansel Adams, under PD "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange, under PD "NTS Barrage Balloon" by US DOE, under PD "A butterfly feeding on the tears of a turtle in Ecuador" by amalavida.tv, under CC BY-SA 2.0 "Pāhoehoe Lava flow" by Brocken Inaglory, under CC BY-SA 3.0 "Figure of the heavenly bodies" by Bartolomeu Velho, under PD "Albert Harris - Coconut shy B" by Andrew Dunn, under CC BY-SA 2.0 "Lower Antelope Canyon 478" by Meckimac,  under CC BY-SA 3.0 "Martian Dust Devil Trails" by NASA, under PD "Biodegradable Plastic Utensils" by Agricultural Research Service, under PD "Milky Way" by Stéphane Guisard, under CC-BY-3.0 "Jakarta old football" by Jonathan McIntosh, under CC BY 2.0 "Ferenc Ilyes (HUN), Artur Siodmiak (POL)" by Steindy, under CC BY-SA 3.0 "Usain Bolt Olympics Celebration" by Richard Giles, under CC BY-SA 2.0 "Inde bondo" by Yves Picq veton.picq.fr, under CC-BY-SA-3.0 "Morgan Pressel" by Keith Allison, under CC BY-SA 2.0

by carlosmonterrey at September 06, 2014 04:38 AM

September 04, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Sixty ways to help new editors

Discussion in the Wikimania Discussion Room

Last August, Iolanda Pensa and I had the honor to facilitate a discussion at the Wikimania Discussion Room on the topic of Welcoming and retaining new users. This discussion was set up as a brainstorm session, and was one of the more rewarding experiences I had during Wikimania. In the session we focused on ideas on how we as a community can help new users become and remain involved. I hope that some of the ideas will be inspiring to you!

The round table discussion took place during Wikimania and was self-selected. Everyone was welcome to join, there was no expert panel and there was little preparation. The goal of the discussion was to come up with 30 ways to help new users on Wikimedia projects become and remain involved. We wanted ideas that did not depend on the Wikimedia Foundation or affiliate organizations, or on developers. I’m very glad to be able to say that 60 ways to help new users were shared – no doubt with some overlap, but still remarkable! At the end of the discussion we asked every participant to make a commitment for the coming month on how they would personally implement some of the 60 different methods to help new users.

Many people showed up

The ideas brought forward were all over the place. You can find the original list in the discussion notes. In this post I would like to share an abridged list, where some points are merged and clarified.

I encourage every experienced user to browse through this list and explore the different ideas. Similarly to the participants in the discussion, please commit to one of them in the coming weeks – if you want, you can do so publicly by posting a comment on this blog post. Your commitment might serve as encouragement for others to do the same!

Lodewijk Gelauff, facilitator of the Wikimania Discussion Room and volunteer at Wikimedia Netherlands

List of approaches (abridged)


  • Form tandems between experienced editors and newcomers.
  • Mentorship space/program. Contributors may be matched to new users based on similarity of interests (enwiki).


  • Send a welcome message, with a direct contact link. For example: “Hello, I’m Trizek, please contact me if you need assistance.”
  • Use Snuggle – A tool for experienced editors to welcome good faith newcomers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Snuggle
  • Join the “Teahouse” (enwiki; hewiki).
  • Find people who are willing and able to communicate in a friendly way – and new users should be channeled to them (where do I land after I created an account?)
  • It’s better to help five new users in a personalized way than to post 50 welcoming templates.
  • Organize/attend in-person meetups to help address the gap between ideal (“anyone can edit”) and reality (“it is tough”) – meetings that can be attended by new users.
  • Invite the new users to meetups – meet the contributors – put faces behind username.

Do not bite the newcomers:

  • Slow down the medium experienced users (~6 months of experience) that are overly enthusiastic and tend to ‘bite’ new users.
  • Rewrite messages into apologies (“we’re sorry if we didn’t understand what you intended; we had to revert your change”).
  • When interacting with new users, be more friendly.
  • Take “don’t bite the newbies” more seriously. Introduce (or enforce) a punishment for biting new users.
  • French Wikipedia had a message with a shark – “you have bitten a newbie” (no more biting newbies at fr.wp now, template has been deleted…)

Less is more:

  • Write shorter and clearer help and welcome messages with clear links. Help pages with 20 links are too much – a two sentence help message is better.
  • Make less use of templates in communication with new users; take more personalized action.
  • Reduce the number of rules (Ignore all rules at enwiki)

Give assignments:

  • Deliberately seeding small errors that are easy to fix. Or perhaps make them on sandbox/non article space? (Wikipedia adventure does that).
  • Organize a Wikipedia semi-regular scavenger hunt. Ask people to fulfill simple tasks, like “fix a dead link,” “fix a grammatical error” and reward them for that.
  • Provide a list of articles that new users can try to edit. (supposedly there’s an example of this on enwiki).
  • Give new users a list of assignments to do. Work queues that people can pick from, based on their interests.
  • Encourage people to play “The wikipedia adventure” (enwiki), or “the tourist bus” (cawiki).
  • More ways to contribute that are safe and have less drama – not only article creation/editing, like images, geo location, more fact checking, cleanup, checking external dead links.
  • Encourage micro editing thorough games.
  • Invite new users to advance in the stages of micro games.

Better training:

  • Produce and share a video of a new user seeing a mistake, going in and fixing it.
  • Set up some form of online training course on how to be a Wikipedia contributor.
  • Train experienced Wikipedians on how to welcome to new users.
  • Training in social manners/communication for experienced users and admins!

Better communication/documentation:

  • Reinforce that edits are live and seen by the whole world, use that as an intrinsic motivation.
  • Make visible how much training in editing someone has. Positive reinforcement for users investing – a progress bar to show how experienced they are.
  • Create a link page from which there is a an organised link tree to ALL possible instructions that the new user never finds.
  • Explain the basic principles of Wikipedia / Wikimedia projects in a friendly and understandable manner even if it is obvious to you and create instruction pages where these are explained in an understandable way.
  • Re-educate experienced users to use more friendly communication.
  • Give credit for being friendly to newbies, recognition, (gamification here?).
  • Encourage the use of discussion pages.
  • we need a much better manual and shorter summarized rule book (each rule is 8 pages long) – every rule should be a single sentence – and then put all nutshells in one page (“WP:Plain and simple” on enwiki?)
  • New editors want to create articles – and the feedback comes after weeks – speed up the process of checking new articles and giving feedback and improve the quality of the feedback.

Positive reinforcement:

  • Giving new editors recognition or a reward or a badge to show that they have learned something – a barnstar that you get for learning something – and each time you learn something the barnstar gets bigger. (example from enwiki) This may expand to include recognition of experienced users who complete education in nonviolent/civil communication or provide hospitality to new users.
  • Show after a week or month how many people saw the change and were positively affected.
  • Monthly emails showing how many people read the page you edited and used your knowledge, with a message like “the change you have made helped this amount of people.”
  • Give a “thumbs up” even for little things – Use ‘Thank you’ button right next to editor contributions.
  • Give recognition of outstanding edits (example dewiki: three level “barnstar type”).
  • Community post “achievement of the week” (enwiki).
  • Choose “contributor of the month” or “of the year” by the community.
  • More motivating messages – we are used to saying “work not good” but don’t get exercise giving out more positive messages.


  • Consider the expectations and the clash between expectations and reality – find ways to measure why new contributors leave.
  • Be sensitive to the different types of problems in different wiki’s – because every community has a different size and history, they work differently.
  • Recruit new people (events, museums, schools…)
  • Place a banner on Wikipedia with an explicit invitation to edit: if you want to edit follow this link and people are invited to meetup (But this should be displayed as part of the software, not an advertisement).
  • Do better research on why people do not edit even if they want or why they do an initial edit but do not become ongoing contributor.
  • Create a list of good ideas on meta. (Action point: share this list with the list of attendees of the discussion).
  • Introduce a “Panic button”: “here you can get help.”
  • Provide a way for new users to give feedback on how they have been treated.
  • Encourage new users to communicate with each other about their experiences.
  • Improve the (welcome/warning) templates to make them look less impersonal.
  • Provide a safe space for new users, such as a Draft namespace.
  • Make the edit button more inviting: for example, don’t show a blank page when creating a new article. Boost the confidence of new users.
  • Be humble in the front of expertise of new users who happen to be expert – recognize experts when they come around.
  • Specialist groups: specialist gathers users with expertise around a subject.

by carlosmonterrey at September 04, 2014 08:04 PM

Wikipedia in the classroom: Empowering students in the digital age

Anne in front of the Library at Diablo Valley College.

During her last year of high school, Anne Kingsley took a variety of classes at Sierra College, her local community college in Rocklin, CA. The experience greatly influenced her decision to pursue a career in teaching. “I loved the atmosphere of the community college and remember spending a lot of time printing out articles and copying books in the library,” Anne recalled. “I remember study groups with recent high school grads, returning students, veterans, single moms.”

The eclectic nature of the community college served her well in her first teaching position in 2002 at a New York organization called Friends of Island Academy (FOIA), where she helped youth in the criminal justice system gain literacy and other basic skills. At that time, the Internet was starting to become a valuable educational resource that would soon make photocopying books in the library a nostalgic pastime. Her time at FOIA was the beginning for discovering innovative ways to solve big educational problems. “Because I had to run a classroom that had very little materials and almost no budget, you had to be creative about content and curriculum design,” explained Kingsley. “This was a powerful experience to build a foundation for classroom experience as it taught me how to think outside of conventional teaching practices.”

Diablo Valley Community college.

Anne went on to teach at Northeastern University, Menlo College and Santa Clara University. While at Northeastern she pursued her doctorate and was part of a training program where the faculty encouraged curriculums that incorporated new media into the classroom. “This was the beginning of blogs and Facebook, so I remember experimenting with these kinds of shared information sources,” said Anne. At the same time Wikipedia, only a few years old at the time, was becoming an increasingly comprehensive encyclopedia. Though in its onset Wikipedia had a reputation for being discouraged by teaching professionals, it has since slowly garnered support and trust from a number of institutions. Today Anne teaches at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and finds herself once again experimenting with different teaching methods, including the use of Wikipedia.
Tired of assigning the standard research paper and disillusioned by its merits in the 21st century, Anne started to realize that technology has greatly altered the way we access information. Anne elaborates, “I kept thinking that technology has changed the place for research, so why do we keep handing in these static articles as though information doesn’t shift and change all the time. I also knew that old research papers that I had assigned my students were literally piled up in my closet, shoved into boxes, and forgotten about.”

Wikipedia in the classroom.

Simultaneously, Anne kept hearing about underrepresented histories on Wikipedia – from women’s literature to African American history. Though underrepresentation of marginalized subjects is still a concern on Wikipedia, much is being done to address it thanks to people like Anne. “Given that I was teaching at a community college, I figured, let’s see what my students could do with Wikipedia. We all use Wikipedia, so why not see if we could become producers of information rather than just consumers.”

As a Harlem Renaissance enthusiast, Anne taught a course titled “Critical thinking: Composition and Literature Reading the Harlem Renaissance.” It was during this course that she experimented with her idea of producing information in a public forum as a method of learning. Part of the course was to edit articles pertaining to the Harlem Renaissance that were not covered fully on Wikipedia. Using online publications like The Crisis Magazine — an important early 20th century publication for African American culture — the students set out on a journey to research, edit and contribute to the world’s largest encyclopedia.

Humanities Building Classroom at DVC.

Anne and her students soon became aware of the initial learning gap that many new editors face with regards to the Wikipedia syntax. Though somewhat intimidating at first, Anne agrees that editing Wikipedia was a great way to teach students how to become literate in new media language. Her students weren’t the only ones learning something new, Anne explains, “It certainly opened their (and my) eyes to what takes place behind the nicely edited entries.” Another obstacle was trying to figure out how and where to contribute. Anne recalls a student who was hoping to contribute a “religion” entry to the Harlem Renaissance page. The challenge was to figure out where it belonged and how they would go about incorporating it into an existing page in a cohesive manner. Despite a period of adjustment, Anne makes it clear that the benefits her and the students garnered greatly outnumber any difficulties they might initially have had.

From an academic perspective, the assignment captured many of the elements of research that the course aimed to teach – understanding of source material, citation, scholarly research and careful language craft. The fact that Wikipedia is a public forum motivated the students in a manner that perhaps a normal research paper wouldn’t, that is to say, it no longer was just the professor who read the work but also other editors from around the world. The project also proved to be a great collaboration process between the students and the professor. The project lent itself to broader collaboration, especially when it came to the selection process and some of the smaller nuances of contributing to Wikipedia. The project also seemed to greatly improve composition, says Anne, “They (the students) would literally groom their language sentence by sentence – as opposed to earlier experiences writing seven-page research papers where the language fell apart.” Perhaps most satisfying for the students was the sense of accomplishment in seeing their hard work in a public space. Among the new articles created were pages for Arthur P. Davis, a section for religion in the Harlem Renaissance article and a page for Georgia Douglas Johnson – formerly a stub.

Anne expresses great interest in assigning this project again to her students. “I don’t always get to select the classes I teach, but if I had the opportunity to teach the Harlem Renaissance again, I would repeat this curriculum.” When asked what she would do differently, if anything, she replied, “More time. I only gave my students four weeks to create their entries. I did not realize how many of them would choose to create full-length articles or more complex entries.” Anne is part of a growing number of teaching professionals who choose to think outside the box and embrace new mediums in an effort to not only contribute to the greater good, but also prepare their students for a 21st century academic landscape. She had a clear message to her colleagues who perhaps might not be as embracing of Wikipedia in the classroom, she says, “Think big…students have this amazing capacity to want to experiment with you and others, especially when it makes their work visible and meaningful.”

Carlos Monterrey, Communications Associate at the Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at September 04, 2014 02:39 AM

September 03, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Building a Better Wikimedia Together: Open Call for Grants Proposals

Share your idea for Individual Engagement Grants and get advice!

How do Wikimedia programs and projects start? In the beginning, there is an idea. If you want to build a better Wikimedia and want to focus on a specific issue, Individual Engagement Grants (IEG) can help you achieve this. The IEG program is staging a new open call for proposals. You can submit yours this month from September 1st to the 30th!

Your idea doesn’t have to be a massive, game-changing project (although big ideas are welcome!). It could be a new tool or gadget, an experiment in improving a community space, research on an important issue facing Wikimedia projects, or something else aimed at helping build Wikimedia community and content. Whether you need $200 or $30,000, Individual Engagement Grants can cover project development time and expenses for you and your team.

How does it work?

User I JethroBT at IdeaLab mixer in Wikimania London.

The program has a flexible schedule and reporting structure and the Grantmaking staff are there to support you through all stages of the process. We’ll even help you find project mentors!

After you submit your proposal, the grantmaking team will go through it to make sure it meets all eligibility criteria. Proposals should support the achievement of Wikimedia’s mission and strategic priorities. We are looking for experiments with high potential for learning and impact, and lots of community engagement, among other selection criteria.

IEG barnstar

Proposals are commented on and reviewed by the community from October 1 to November 3rd, and grantees are announced on December 5.

Some ideas funded in the past include a pronunciation recording tool for Wiktionary, a Medicine Translation Project, Reimagining Wikipedia Mentorship, and both community organizing initiatives and research on Wikipedia’s gender gap. Check out the list of all projects that received funding in the past IEG round for inspiration.

Test your idea and get advice

IdeaLab Hangout dates:

Do you have have a good idea, but you are worried that it isn’t developed enough for a grant? Put it into the IdeaLab, where volunteers and staff will give you advice and guidance on how to bring it to life.

During the month of September, we’ll be hosting three online Hangout sessions for real-time help on how to make your proposal better. The first one, How to Write an IEG Proposal, will take place on September 16, at 1600 UTC.

By working together we can make an impact on the future of Wikimedia projects. We are excited to see the new ways your project ideas can support the Wikimedia community! Share your proposal in September.

María CruzCommunity Coordinator of Program Evaluation & Design

by carlosmonterrey at September 03, 2014 12:34 AM

September 02, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Evaluation Portal on Meta: A Redesigned Space for Learning

Heading - Evaluation portal.png

Just over one year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation started talking about evaluating programs like Wiki Loves Monuments and the Wikipedia Education Program. The goal was to grow support for program leaders to evaluate activities and outcomes that would lead to learning and improving the effectiveness of their programs.

As we have engaged in this work, the collection of evaluation resources has grown significantly. In order to better support program leaders and the broader community in learning about evaluation, we had to reimagine our pages on meta. We are happy to introduce you to the newly redesigned evaluation portal!

Plan screenshot - Evaluation portal.png
Contact us screenshot - Evaluation portal.png
Top page - Evaluation portal.png
Evaluation at Wikimedia screenshot-Evaluation portal.png
Upcoming events screenshot - Evaluation portal.png

Improved organization

The new portal has four main sections with evaluation resources: Study, Plan, Measure and Share. Two other sections, Connect and News & Events, are spaces for networking within the evaluation community through talk pages, online and face-to-face events. We’d like to take a moment to explain these sections and how they may be useful for anyone who wants to evaluate their programs.

Study. Program evaluation is an academic field, with its own language and theory that can be studied. The Study section has resources to guide new evaluators with the vocabulary, theory and strategies related to evaluation in the Wikimedia movement.

The Glossary is one of the most valuable pages that defines some of the key terms that may be used in conversations about program evaluation. Explanations for phrases like program leader or program implementation, are found here. With evaluation, it can often help to read what others have done. You go through examples about how evaluation fits within the movement in Evaluation in the Wikimedia Movement: Case studies. Step-by-step guides called Learning modules walk through resources and tools for evaluating a program. Some of the topics include writing surveys and using Wikimetrics.

Plan. Evaluating a program means to plan in advance. This section of the portal is designed to include the important steps to planning an evaluation: identifying goals, choosing targets for those goals and deciding which metrics to use for measuring those targets.

Choosing Goals and Measures provides guidance for setting outcome targets. Once you identify your goal (or goals), you might review Program Resources as a most basic guide of best practices and associated program goals and metrics. If your program is slightly different, or if you are creating a new program, the Logic Model is a great process to map your program’s or project’s vision. Explore Learning Patterns related to implementation to learn how to collect usernames, how to ask about gender, or how to advertise a program.

Measure. In order to evaluate a program you must know what and how you will measure progress toward your goals. The Measure section can help: it provides strategies for collecting and keeping track of data.

Tracking and monitoring can capture data for telling the story of a program, how the program is working and where improvements might be needed. The Reporting and Tracking Toolkit offers guidance and templates for tracking a program, from the inputs, like hours or money, to the outputs, like t how many participants and the outcomes, like the number of editors retained. Wikimetrics is a useful tool for easily measuring user contributions on Wikimedia projects. Meanwhile, surveys can measure participant’s attributes (e.g. gender, hometown), attitudes (e.g. motivation to edit), or behaviors (e.g. how many times they edit per week). The Survey Question Bank is a repository for questions searchable by program goal or the survey goal and Qualtrics, an online survey platform, is a tool program leaders may access for large-scale online surveys.

Share. A key aspect of learning and evaluation is sharing what you know. This section is the portal space where the entire community can share results of activities and evaluations related to Wikimedia programs.

Writing and sharing reports can be very helpful for learning from one another about evaluation strategies. Evaluation Reports (beta) is an initial collection of program impact reports that provides many details on the process and ways to analyze data. Program leaders can also read or post Case Studies to show the work they have done. In addition to sharing reports, it is great to share tips or solutions to problems you have found along the way. Creating or endorsing Learning Patterns are great ways to reflect and share with your peers.

Better spaces for Communication

Connect is a space for the evaluation community to talk about evaluation, metrics, programs and to meet one another.

If you are involved in planning, implementing, or evaluating Wikimedia projects and programs, add your photo to the Community section and share which programs you have been involved in. If you want to ask a question about evaluation, this is the place to post it on-wiki.

News and Events is for the Learning and Evaluation team to post upcoming events we are hosting, or hear about from community members, related to Wikimedia learning and evaluation.

We frequently host Virtual Meet-ups and training events to build our shared knowledge around programs, measurement and evaluation. Follow this page to keep up with upcoming events and learning opportunities!

Visit the Portal @ meta:Grants:Evaluation

While the sections and resources in the portal will continue to develop, we hope that the new organization will help all of us better navigate the useful content that is held there. Please visit the portal and let us know how it can help you! Also feel free to post us any feedback about the site’s organization or content.

As always, email eval@wikimedia.org if you have any questions!

Edward Galvez, Program Evaluation Associate of Learning & Evaluation

by carlosmonterrey at September 02, 2014 11:40 PM

August 28, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Venerable cultural institution partners with Wikimedia Serbia

Matica srpska building in Novi Sad

The Matica Srpska (MS) and Wikimedia Serbia (WMRS) are joining forces for an exciting new endeavor to digitalize all of the contents of at least two Serbian dictionaries over the next year, including the Serbian ornithological dictionary, and the dialects of Vojvodina dictionary. What is even more exciting for the free culture movement is this collaboration with Serbia’s oldest cultural and scientific institution, and how it came to be.

Founded in 1826, the Matica – which has become a Slavic symbol for an institution that promotes knowledge – was the nexus point for fostering the Serbian national identity and enlightenment during the days of the Ottoman and later Habsburg rule. Today, it still serves as an important center of Serbian culture, housing departments for Natural Sciences, for Performance Arts and Music, Lexicography and more. Additionally, the Matica Srpska acts as an art gallery for eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings, a library containing over 3.5 million books and a publishing house for ten periodicals and, of course, an array of Serbian dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Milos Rancic, the first president of Wikimedia Serbia, believes that this is a historical feat for Serbian culture and Wikimedia.

Logo of Wikimedia Serbia

“The significance of this cooperation for Wikimedia is that we are at the beginning of a close relationship with a national, cultural institution, whose foci include dictionaries and encyclopedias. They share our goals and want to cooperate with us.”

But how was Milos able to lay pavement on a potentially ground-breaking agreement between WMRS and MS? The answer: Micro-grants.

Back in June, WMRS received an interesting proposal for its micro-grants program. The project was about creating a photograph gallery of a single person over time. The project was later deemed unsuitable for the grant; but Milos, still intrigued by the concept of the project, decided to fund it personally.

By chance, this amateur photographer just so happened to be a top Serbian lector, an editor of the Orthography of the Serbian language and a lexicographer at the Matica Srpska. The two men proceeded to talk on a number of topics, including photography, the financial state of the MS and its desire to have more initiatives.

“I had bold ideas, of course, but I was quite skeptical about the possibility of cooperation between WMRS and Matica Srpska,” Milos admitted.

Image of Milos (left) taken at the Third regional conference of Wikimedia Serbia in Belgrade

“However, he convinced me that the president of MS is likely willing to cooperate and that we should talk about that.”

A meeting was scheduled, and a few weeks later, a delegation comprised of Mile Kis, Executive Director of WMRS, Ivana Madzarevic, WMRS program manager and Milos entered into initial talks with the Matica Srpska.

The meeting lasted two hours. Then, both parties dispersed.

Weeks went by without confirmation from MS.

It was not until July 16 that word arrived. “We got a formal letter from MS, which summarized our meeting and emphasized their commitment to accessibility of knowledge to as many people as possible.”

Milos notes that small, deliberate steps are necessary in order to achieve lasting results. “This is just the beginning, of course. We share important traits with these institutions like MS. It’s about long term goals. We want to start cooperation and develop it. They want to share their content on the Internet. With our (technological, licensing, etc.) help, they will become the institution which share their content by default, no matter if we are involved or not.”

Over the course of the next couple of years, Milos hopes to begin discussing uploading the main Serbian dictionaries too.

Milos says that one cannot overestimate the efficacy of having a grants program, no matter the size. “When you are going outside and are telling people that you are willing to support their projects, it could lead into some interesting outcomes. It is important to understand the possibilities that could be opened and catch them.”

Michael Guss, Communications volunteer at the Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at August 28, 2014 11:08 PM

August 27, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Reimagining Mentorship with the Wikipedia Cooperative

I JethroBT, Project Manager of the Co-op, at Wikimania 2014.

An editor’s initial experience when contributing to Wikipedia can be daunting: there is a ton to read and it’s easy to make mistakes right off the bat and feel pushed away when edits are reverted. My name is Jethro and a small team of editors and I are addressing these issues by building a mentorship space called the Wikipedia Cooperative, or simply the Co-op. In the Co-op, learners (i.e. editors seeking mentorship) will have the chance to describe how they want to contribute to Wikipedia and subsequently be matched with mentors who can teach them editing skills tailored to their goals.

We are working under an Individual Engagement Grant and hope to complete a pilot and analysis of our mentorship space by early next year. If successful, we hope to fully open the space and provide tools to allow similar projects to be built in other Wikipedia projects. We recently passed the second month of our grant and I wanted to share our progress with you thus far.


We recently brought Dustin York to our team as our graphic designer. York’s background designing the WMF’s Travel and Participation Support grantmaking pages and other experience such as with UNICEF will be invaluable to us. He has begun exchanging ideas in hopes that the design work will be in full swing by September. We intend to make the space friendly and inviting for both learners and mentors alike and are confident that we can create a promising look and feel.

Product/Interaction Designer Dustin York’s illustration work for the WMF’s Travel & Participation Support grants pages on Meta.

In program development, we’ve organized an editing curriculum that we hope to make available to learners as part of the mentorship. We’ve categorized these skills into three different levels of difficulty as well as by skill type (see example). We’ve also finalized a conceptual design for how learners will be matched with mentors.

Example skills planned to be made available at the Co-op.

In our research, we’ve finished designing interview protocols and questions for editors who have participated in help spaces on Wikipedia, such as the Teahouse and The Wikipedia Adventure. We have started reaching out to such editors for interviews – their feedback will help guide our upcoming design decisions.

We have narrowed down key questions we want answered which we will use to help us understand the impact of our project:

  • How well does the Co-op work?
  • What predicts how well the Co-op works for particular learners?
  • What features work best in various existing programs?
  • Why do learners seek out and continue mentorship?

We also completed background research in addition to a preliminary mentor survey to assess how and why editors participate in mentoring. We have published our key findings on our hub on the English Wikipedia.

Lastly, our team was well-represented at Wikimania 2014 in London. We met often, sought out prospective programming candidates and connected with a number of editors and Foundation staff to discuss feedback and ideas for our project.

We plan to begin our pilot in early December and are seeking out editors who are interested in mentoring a small number of learners during this pilot period. If you are interested, please let us know on our project talk page or contact me directly. We believe that mentorship is a positive and personalized way to promote good editing habits for editors in addition to engaging productively with the editing community. It is our hope that our efforts, along with those of the mentors, will create a more approachable atmosphere for users who want to contribute to Wikipedia.

This article was co-authored by Soni and IJethroBT

by carlosmonterrey at August 27, 2014 09:41 PM

August 26, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Content Translation: 100 published articles, and more to come!

On July 17, 2014, the Wikimedia Language Engineering team announced the deployment of the ContentTranslation extension in Wikimedia Labs. This first deployment was targeted primarily for translation from Spanish to Catalan. Since then, users have expressed generally positive feedback about the tool. Most of the initial discussion took place in the Village pump (Taverna) of the Catalan Wikipedia. Later, we had the opportunity to showcase the tool to a wider audience at Wikimania in London.

Initial response

In the first 2 weeks, 29 articles were created using the Content Translation tool and published in the Catalan Wikipedia. Article topics were diverse, ranging from places in Malta, to companies in Italy, a river, a monastery, a political manifesto, and a prisoner of war. As the Content Translation tool is also being used for testing by the developers and other volunteers, the full list of articles that make it to a Wikipedia is regularly updated. The Language Engineering team also started addressing some of the bugs that were encountered, such as issues with paragraph alignment and stability of the machine translation controller.

The number of articles published using Content Translation has now crossed over 100 and its usage has not been only limited to Catalan Wikipedia. Users have been creating articles in other languages like Gujarati and Malayalam, although machine translation has not been extended beyond Spanish−Catalan yet. All the pages that were published as articles had further edits for wikification, grammar correction, and in some cases meaningful enhancement. A deeper look at the edits revealed that the additional changes were first made by the same user who made the initial translation, and later by other editors or bots.

Wikimania in London

Amir Aharoni of the Wikimedia Language Engineering team introduces the Content Translation tool to the student delegation from Kazakhstan at Wikimania 2014, in London.

Amir Aharoni of the Wikimedia Language Engineering team introduces the Content Translation tool to the student delegation from Kazakhstan at Wikimania 2014, in London.

The Content Translation tool was showcased widely at Wikimania 2014, the annual conference of the Wikimedia communities. In the main conference, Santhosh Thottingal and Amir Aharoni presented about machine aided translation delivery through Content Translation. During the pre-conference hackathon, Pau Giner conducted a testing session with student volunteers from Kazakhstan, who were enthusiastic about using the tool in their local Wiki Club. Requests for fully supporting other language pairs were brought up by many users and groups like the Wikipedia Medical Translation project. Discussions were held with the Wikidata team to identify areas of collaboration on data reuse for consistent referencing across translated versions. These include categories, links etc.

The Language Engineering team members worked closely with Wikimedians to better understand requirements for languages like Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Tajik, Swedish, German and others, that can be instrumental in extending support for these languages.

Further development

The development of ContentTranslation continues. Prior to Wikimania, the Language Engineering team met to evaluate the response and effectiveness of the first release of the tool, and prepared the goals for the next release. The second release is slated for the last week of September 2014. Among the features planned are support for more languages (machine translation, dictionaries), a smarter entry point to the translation UI, and basic editor formatting. It is expected that translation support from Catalan to Spanish will be activated by the end of August 2014. Read the detailed release plan and goals to know more.

Over the next couple of months, the Language Engineering team intends to work closely with our communities to better understand how the Content Translation tool has helped the editors so far and how it can serve the the global community better with the translation aids and resources currently integrated with tool. We welcome feedback at the project talk page. Get in touch with the Language Engineering team for more information and feedback.

Amir Aharoni and Runa Bhattacharjee, Language Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

by Guillaume Paumier at August 26, 2014 02:32 PM

Wikimedia engineering report, July 2014

Major news in July include:

Note: We’re also providing a shorter and translatable version of this report.

Engineering metrics in July:

  • 164 unique committers contributed patchsets of code to MediaWiki.
  • The total number of unresolved commits went from around 1575 to about 1642.
  • About 31 shell requests were processed.


Work with us

Are you looking to work for Wikimedia? We have a lot of hiring coming up, and we really love talking to active community members about these roles.


  • Arthur Richards is now Team Practices Manager (announcement).
  • Kristen Lans joined the Team Practices Group as Scrum Master (announcement).
  • Joel Sahleen joined the Language Engineering team as Software Engineer (announcement).

Technical Operations

Dallas data center

Throughout July, the cabling work of all racked servers and other equipment was nearly completed. We’re still awaiting the installation of the first connectivity to the rest of our US network in early August before we can begin installation of servers and services.

San Francisco data center

Due to a necessary upgrade to power & cooling infrastructure in our San Francisco data center (which we call ulsfo), our racks have been migrated to a new floor within the same building on July 9. The move completed in a very smooth fashion without user impact, and the site was brought back online serving all user traffic again in less than 24 hours.

PFS enabled

Through the help of volunteer work and research, our staff enabled Perfect Forward Secrecy on our SSL infrastructure, significantly increasing the security of encrypted user traffic.

Labs metrics in July:

  • Number of projects: 173
  • Number of instances: 464
  • Amount of RAM in use (in MBs): 1,933,824
  • Amount of allocated storage (in GBs): 20,925
  • Number of virtual CPUs in use: 949
  • Number of users: 3,500

Wikimedia Labs

We’ve made several minor updates to Wikitech: we added OAuth support, fixed a few user interface issues, and purged the obsolete ‘local-*’ terminology for service groups.
OPW Intern Dinu Sandaru has set forms for structured project documentation. This should will help match new volunteers with existing projects, and will make communication with project administrators more straightforward.
Sean Pringle is in the process of updating the Tool Labs replica databases to MariaDB version 10.0. This may reduce replag, and should improve performance and reliability.
We’re setting up new storage hardware for the project dumps. This will resolve our ongoing problems with full drives and out-of-date dumps.

Features Engineering

Editor retention: Editing tools


In July, the team working on VisualEditor converged the design for mobile and desktop, made it possible to see and edit HTML comments, improved access to re-using citations, and fixed over 120 bugs and tickets.

The new design, with controls focussed at the top of each window in consistent positions, was made possible due to the significant progress made in cross-platform support in the UI library, which now provides responsively-sized windows that can work on desktop, tablet and phone with the same code. HTML comments are occasionally used on a few articles to alert editors to contentious or problematic issues without disrupting articles as they are read, so making them prominently visible avoids editors accidentally stepping over expected limits. Re-using citations is now provided with its simple dialog available in the toolbar so that it is easier for users to find.

Other improvements include an array of performance fixes targeted at helping mobile users especially, fixing a number of minor instances where VisualEditor would corrupt the page, and installing better monitoring of corruptions if they occur, and better support for right-to-left languages, displaying icons with the right orientation based on context.

The mobile version of VisualEditor, currently available for beta testers, moved towards stable release, fixing a number of bugs and editing issues and improving loading performance. Our work to support languages made some significant gains, nearing the completion of a major task to support IME users, and the work to support Internet Explorer uncovered some more issues as well as fixes. The deployed version of the code was updated five times in the regular release cycle (1.24-wmf12, 1.24-wmf13, 1.24-wmf14, 1.24-wmf15 and 1.24-wmf16).

In wider news, the team expanded its scope to cover all MediaWiki editing tools as well, as the new Editing Team (covered below).


In July, the newly re-named and re-scoped Editing Team was formed from the VisualEditor Team. We are responsible for extending and improving the editing tools used at Wikimedia – primarily VisualEditor and maintenance for WikiEditor. We exist to support new and existing editors alike; our current work is mostly on desktop, and we are working with Mobile to take responsibility for all editing across desktop, tablet and phone platforms, spanning approximately 50 different areas of MediaWiki and extensions related to editing. We will continue to report progress on VisualEditor separately.

The biggest Editing change this month was in the Cite extension (for footnotes) – this now automatically shows a references list at the end of the page if you forget to put in a <references /> tag, instead of displaying an ugly error message. The Math extension (for formulæ) was improved with more rigorous error handling and LaTeX formula checking, as part of the long-term volunteer-led work to introduce MathML-based display and editing. The TemplateData GUI editor was deployed to a further six wikis – the English, French, Italian, Russian, Finnish and Dutch Wikipedias.

A lot of work was done on libraries and infrastructure for the Editing Team and others. The OOjs UI library was extensively modified to bring in a new window management system for comprehensive combined desktop, tablet and phone support, as well as other updates to improve Internet Explorer compatibility and accessibility of controls. In the next few months the team will continue working on OOUI to support other teams’ needs and implement a consistent look-and-feel in collaboration with the Design team. The OOjs library was updated to fix a minor bug, with a new version (v1.0.11) released and pushed downstream into MediaWiki, VisualEditor and OOjs UI. The ResourceLoader framework was extended to allow skins to set the “skinStyles” property themselves, rather than rely on faux dependencies, as part of wider efforts led jointly by a volunteer and a team member to improve MediaWiki’s skin support.


In July, the Parsoid team continued with ongoing bug fixes and bi-weekly deployments.

With an eye towards supporting Parsoid-driven page views, the Parsoid team strategized on addressing Cite extension rendering differences that arise from site-messages based customizations and is considering a pure CSS-based solution for addressing the common use cases. We also finished work developing the test setup for doing mass visual diff tests between PHP parser rendering and Parsoid rendering. It was tested locally and we started preparations for deploying that on our test servers. This will go live end-July or early-August.

The GSoC 2014 LintTrap project continued to make good progress. We had productive conversations with Project WikiCheck about integrating LintTrap with WikiCheck in a couple different ways. We hope to develop this further over the coming months.

Overall, this was also a month of reduced activity with Gabriel now officially full time in the Services team and Scott focused on the PDF service deployment that went live a couple days ago. The full team is also spending a week at a off-site meeting working and spending time together in person prior to Wikimania in London.


Services and REST API

The brand new Services group (currently Matt Walker and Gabriel Wicke) started July with two main projects:

  1. PDF render service deployment
  2. Design and prototyping work on the storage service and REST API

The PDF render service is now deployed in production, and can be selected as a render backend in Special:Book. The renderer does not work perfectly on all pages yet, but the hope is that this will soon be fixed in collaboration with the other primary author of this service, C. Scott Ananian.

Prototyping work on the storage service and REST API is progressing well. The storage service now has early support for bucket creation and multiple bucket types. We decided to configure the storage service as a backend for the REST API server. This means that all requests will be sent to the REST API, which will then route them to the appropriate storage service without network overhead. This design lets us keep the storage service buckets very general by adding entry point specific logic in front-end handlers. The interface is still well-defined in terms of HTTP requests, so it remains straightforward to run the storage service as a separate process. We refined the bucket design to allow us to add features very similar to Amazon DynamoDB in a future iteration. There is also an early design for light-weight HTTP transaction support.

Matt Walker is sadly leaving the Foundation by the end of this month to follow his passion of building flying cars. This means that we currently have three positions open in the service group, which we hope to start filling soon.

Core Features


In July, the Flow team built the ability for users to subscribe to individual Flow discussions, instead of following an entire page of conversations. Subscribing to an individual thread is automatic for users who create or reply to the thread, and users can choose to subscribe (or unsubscribe) by clicking a star icon in the conversation’s header box. Users who are subscribed to a thread receive notifications about any replies or activity in that thread. To support the new subscription/notification system, the team created a new namespace, Topic, which is the new “permalink” URL for discussion threads; when a user clicks on a notification, the target link will be the Topic page, with the new messages highlighted with a color. The team is currently building a new read/unread state for Flow notifications, to help users keep track of the active discussion topics that they’re subscribed to.



In July, the Growth team completed its second round of A/B testing of signup invitations for anonymous editors on English Wikipedia, including data analysis. The team also built the first API and interface prototypes for task recommendations. This new system, first aimed at brand new editors, makes suggestions based on a user’s previous edits.


Wikimedia Apps

Following on from the successful launch to Android, the Mobile Apps team released the new native Wikipedia app to iOS on July 31. The app is the iOS counterpart to the Android app, with many of the same features such as editing, saving pages for offline reading, and browsing history. The iOS app also contains an onboarding screen that is shown the first time the app is launched, asking users to sign up, a feature which was also launched on Android this month (see below).

On Android this month we released to production accessibility and styling features which were requested by our users, such as a night mode for reading in the dark and a font size selector. We also released an onboarding screen that asks users to sign up.

Our plan for next month is to get user feedback from Wikimania, wrap up our styling fixes, and begin work on an onboarding screen the first time that someone taps edit.

Mobile web projects

This month, the team continued to focus on wrapping up the collaboration with the Editing team to bring VisualEditor to tablet users on the mobile site. We also began working to design and prototype our first new Wikidata contribution stream, which we will build and test with users on the beta site in the coming month.

Wikipedia Zero

During the last month, the team worked on software architecture features that allow for expansion of the Wikipedia Zero footprint on partner networks and that get users to content faster with support for lowered cache fragmentation on Varnish caches. Whereas the previous system supported one-size-fits-all configuration for heterogeneous partner networks, inhibiting some zero-rated access, the new system supports multiple configurations for disparate IP addresses and connection profiles per operator. Additionally, lightweight script and GIF-ified Wikipedia Zero banner support has been added and is being tested; in time this should drastically reduce Varnish cache fragmentation, making pages be served faster and reducing Varnish server load. A faster landing page was introduced for “zerodot” (zero.wikipedia.org, legacy text-only experience) landing pages when operators have multiple popular languages in their geography. Work on compression proxy traffic analysis for header enrichment conformance with the official Wikipedia Zero configurations was also performed after more diagnostic logging code was added to the system. Finally, watchlist thumbnails, although low bandwidth, were removed from the zerodot user experience, as was the higher bandwidth MediaViewer feature for zerodot; mdot will have these features, though.

In side project work, the team spent time on API continuation queries, Android IP editing notices, Amazon Kindle and other non-Google Play distribution, and Google Play reviews (now that the Android launch dust has settled, mobile apps product management will be triaging the reviews). In partnerships work, the team met with Mozilla to talk about future plans for the Firefox OS HTML5 app (e.g., repurposing the existing mobile website, but without any feature reduction) and how Wikimedia search might be further integrated into Firefox OS, and also spoke with Canonical about how Wikipedia might be better integrated into the forthcoming Ubuntu Phone OS.

Routine pre- and post-launch configuration changes were made to support operator zero-rating, with routine technical assistance provided to operators and the partner management team to help add zero-rating and address anomalies. The team also continued its search for a third Partners engineering teammate.

Wikipedia Zero (partnerships)

We served an estimated 68 million free page views in July through Wikipedia Zero. We continue to bring new partners into the program, though none launched in July. Adele Vrana met with prospective partners and local Wikimedians in Brazil. We published our operating principles to increase transparency.

Language Engineering

Language tools

CLDR extension was updated to use CLDR 25; this work was mostly done by Ryan Kaldari. The team made various internationalization fixes in core, MobileFrontend, Wikipedia Android app, Flow, VisualEditor and other features. In the Translate extension, Niklas Laxström fixed ElasticSearchTTMServer to provide translation memory suggestions longer than one word; and improved translation memory suggestions for translation units containing variables (bug 67921).

Language Engineering Communications and Outreach

We announced the initial availability of the Content translation tool with limited feature support. We are focusing on supporting Spanish to Catalan translations for this initial release. You can read a report on the feedback received since deployment.

Content translation

An initial version was released on Beta Labs; it supports machine translation between Spanish and Catalan. The machine translation API leverages open source machine translation with Apertium. The tool supports experimental template adaptation between languages. Numerous bug fixes were made based on testing and user feedback. We worked on matching the Apertium version to the cluster, and planning for the next round of development has started.

Platform Engineering

MediaWiki Core


The Beta cluster is running HHVM. The latest MediaWiki-Vagrant and Labs-vagrant use HHVM by default.

Admin tools development

Most admin tools resources are currently diverted towards SUL finalisation, which will greatly help in reducing the admin tools backlog. July saw the deployment of the global rename tool (bug 14862), and core fixes including the creation of the “viewsuppressed” userright (bug 20476).


Our deployment of CirrusSearch to larger wikis as the primary search back-end turned out to be too ambitious. After encountering performance issues, we rolled back this change. We are now addressing the root of the problem, by getting more servers (nearly doubling the cluster size) and putting together more optimizations to the portion of Cirrus that fell over (working set). If everything goes as planned, it’ll be reduced by about 80%, by reducing indexing performance in return of search performance. These optimizations will slightly change result relevance; please let us know if you notice any issues.

Auth systems

Most work was spent on SUL Finalization tasks. Phpunit and browser tests were added for CentralAuth, global rename was deployed, and lots of small fixes were made to CentralAuth to clean up user accounts in preparation for finalization.

SUL finalisation

In July, the SUL finalisation team began work on completing the necessary feature work to support the SUL finalisation.

To help users with local-only accounts that are going to be forcibly renamed due to the SUL finalisation, the team is working on a form that lets those users request a rename. These requests will be forwarded onto the stewards to handle. The SUL team is currently in consultation with the stewards about how they would like this tool to work. When this consultation is wrapped up, the team will begin design and implementation.

To help users get globally renamed without having to request renames on potentially hundreds of wikis, the team implemented and deployed GlobalRenameUser, a tool which renames users globally. As the tool is designed to work post-finalisation, it only performs renames where the current name is global, and the requested name is totally untaken (no global account and no local accounts exist with that name).

To help users who get renamed by the finalisation and, despite our best efforts to reach out to them, did not get the chance to request a rename before the finalisation, the team is working on a feature to let users log in with their old credentials. The feature will display an interstitial when they log in, informing them that they logged in with old credentials and that they need to use new ones. We are also considering a persistent banner for those users, so that they definitely know they need to use their new credentials. An early beta version of this feature is complete, and now needs design and product refinements to be completed.

To help users who get renamed by the finalisation and, as a result, have several accounts that were previously local-only turned into separate global accounts, the team is working on a tool to merge global accounts. We chose to merge accounts as it was the easiest way to satisfy the use case without causing further local-global account clashes that would cause us to have to perform a second finalisation. The tool is in its preliminary stages.

The team also globalised some accounts that were not globalised but had no clashes. These accounts were either created in this local-only form due to bugs, or are accounts from before CentralAuth was deployed where the user never globalised. As these accounts had no clashes, there were no repercussions to globalising these accounts, so we did this immediately.

At present, no date has been chosen for the finalisation. The team plans to have the necessary engineering work done by the end of the quarter (end of September 2014), and have a date chosen by then.

Next month the team plans to continue work on these features.

Security auditing and response

MediaWiki 1.23.2 was released, fixing 3 security bugs. Security reviews were made for BounceHandler and Petition extensions, and the password API was merged.

Release Engineering

Release Engineering

This month, the Release and QA Team became the Release Engineering Team, mostly reflecting the transition of this team from being made up of members of other distinct teams to that of a coherent self-contained (mostly) team. This will, hopefully, allow better coordination of “Release” and “QA” things (broadly spreaking).

A lot of progress was made on making Phabricator suitable as a task/bug tracking system for Wikimedia projects. You can see the work to be sorted and completed at this workboard.

The Beta Cluster now runs with HHVM, bringing us much closer to full HHVM deployment. In addition, the Language Team deployed the new Content translation system on the Beta Cluster with the help of the Release Engineering team.

The second round of public RFP for third-party MediaWiki release management was conducted and concluded.

We now no longer use the third-party Cloudbees service for any of our Jenkins jobs and run all jobs locally. This will enable us to better diagnose issues with our build process, especially as it pertains to our browser tests (which still mostly run on SauceLabs).

Quality Assurance

This month, the QA team finished two significant achievements: after porting all the remaining browser tests from the browsertests repository to the repositories of the extensions being tested in June, as well as porting a significant set of tests to MediaWiki core itself, we completely retired the Jenkins instance running on a third-party host in favor of running test builds from the Wikimedia Jenkins instance, and we deleted the /qa/browsertests code repository. These moves are the result of more than two years of work. In addition, we have added more functions to the API wrapper used by browser tests, improved support for testing in Vagrant virtual machines, added new Jenkins builds for extensions, and improved the function of the beta labs test environments by preventing database locks and stopping users from being logged out by accident.

Browser testing

The browser tests are now all integrated with builds on the Wikimedia Jenkins host. We added browser tests for MediaWiki core that will validate the correctness of a MediaWiki installation regardless of language, or of what extensions may or may not exist on the wiki, so that the tests may be packaged with the distribution of MediaWiki itself and used on arbitrary wikis. We saw a lot of browser test activity for Flow development, and we are preparing to support even more extensions and features in the very near future.



Media Viewer’s new ‘minimal design’.

In July, the multimedia team reviewed more feedback about Media Viewer, from three separate Requests for Comments on the English and German Wikipedias, as well as on Wikimedia Commons. Based on this community feedback, the team worked to make the tool more useful for readers, while addressing editor concerns. We are now considering a new ‘minimal design’, which would include: a much more visible link to the File: page; an even easier way to disable the tool; a caption or description right below the image; removing additional metadata below the image, directing users to the File: page instead.

As described in our improvements plan, these new features are being prototyped and will be carefully tested with target users in August, so we can validate their effectiveness before developing and deploying them in September. You can see some of our thinking in this presentation.

This month, we continued to work on the Structured Data project with the Wikidata team and many community members, to implement machine-readable data on Wikimedia Commons. We prepared to host a range on online and in-person discussions to plan this project with our communities, and aim to develop our first experiments in October, based on their recommendations. We also continued a major code refactoring for the UploadWizard, as well as fixed a number of bugs for some of our other multimedia tools.

Last but not least, we prepared seven different multimedia roundtables and presentations for Wikimania 2014, which we will report on in more depth in August. For now, you can keep up with our work by joining the multimedia mailing list.

Engineering Community Team

Bug management

At the Pywikibot bugdays, 189 reports received updates. Technically, Jan enabled invalidating the CSS cache and strict transport security, Matanya updated Bugzilla’s cipher_suite and cleaned up a template, and Daniel deleted an unused config file. Tyler and Andre added requested components to Bugzilla. Planning of an exposed “easy bug of the week” continued, summarized on a wikipage.

Phabricator migration

Phabricator’s “Legalpad” application (a tool to manage trusted users) was set up on a separate server. This instance provides WMF Single-User Login authentication.

Mukunda implemented restricting access to tasks in a certain project which can be tested on fab.wmflabs.org. As a followup, he investigated enforcing security policy also on files and attachments and replacing the IRC bots by Phab’s chatbot. Chase worked on initial migration code to import data from Bugzilla reports into Phabricator tasks (and ran into missing API code in Phabricator), investigated configuring Exim for mail, set up a data backup system for Phabricator, and upgraded the dedicated Phabricator server to Ubuntu Trusty. Quim started documenting Phabricator.

Andre helped making decisions on defining field values and how to handle certain Bugzilla fields in the import script and sent a summary email to wikitech-l about the Phabricator migration status.

Mentorship programs

All Google Summer of Code and FOSS Outreach Program for Women projects continued their development toward a successful end. For details, check the reports:

Technical communications

Chart showing historical Flesch reading ease data for Tech News, a measure of the newsletter’s readability. Higher scores indicate material that is easier to read. A score of 60–70 corresponds to content easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.

Guillaume Paumier collaborated with authors of the Education newsletter to set it up for multilingual delivery, using a script similar to the one used for Tech News. He also wrote a detailed how-to to accompany the script for people who want to send a multilingual message across wikis. In preparation for the Wikimania session about Tech News, he updated the readability and subscribers metrics. He also continued to provide ongoing communications support for the engineering staff, and to prepare and distribute Tech News every week.

Volunteer coordination and outreach

We focused on the preparation of the Wikimania Hackathon, encouraging all registered participants to propose topics and sign up to interesting sessions. We also organized a Q&A session with potential organizers of the Wikimedia Hackathon 2015. We organized two Tech Talks: Hadoop and Beyond. An overview of Analytics infrastructure and HHVM in production: what that means for Wikimedia developers. More activities hosted in July can be found at Project:Calendar/2014/07.

Architecture and Requests for comment process

Developers finished the security architecture guidelines, and discussed several requests for comment in online architecture meetings:


In July, Quim Gil sorted the tasks necessary for the first hub prototype into a Phabricator board, and Sumana Harihareswara determined which three APIs she would document first.



Wikimetrics can now generate vital sign metrics for every project daily. Rolling Monthly Active Editor metric has been implemented; the reports are in JSON format, in a logical path hosted on a file server and downloadable. The team also worked on backfilling data for the daily reports on Newly Registered and Rolling Active Editor, and numerous optimizations to backfill the data quickly.

Data Processing

New nodes were added to the cluster this month and all machines were upgraded to run CDH5. The team decided not to preserve any data on the cluster during the upgrade and started fresh. The team hosted a Tech Talk on our Hadoop installation (see video and slides). Duplicate monitoring has also been implemented in Hadoop to monitor the incoming Varnish logs.

Editor Engagement Vital Signs

The culmination of our efforts this month can be visualized in a prototype built for Wikimania. This was made possible thanks to many back-end enhancements (optimizations) to Wikimetrics, along with research and selection of the optimal technologies to implement the stack to display a dashboard.


EventLogging monitoring is now in graphite, and we can see which schemas cause spikes in traffic (example).

Research and Data

This month, we completed the documentation for the Active Editor Model, a set of metrics for observing sub-population trends and setting product team goals. We also engaged in further work on the new pageviews definition. An interim solution for Limited-duration Unique Client Identifiers (LUCIDs) was also developed and passed to the Analytics Engineering team for review.

We analyzed trends in mobile readership and contributions, with a particular focus on the tablet switchover and the release of the native Android app. We found that in the first half of 2014, mobile surpassed desktop in the rate at which new registered users become first-time editors and first-time active editors in many major projects, including the English Wikipedia. An update on mobile trends will be presented at the upcoming Monthly Metrics meeting on July 31.

Development of a standardised toolkit for geolocation, user agent parsing and accessing pageviews data was completed.

We supported the multimedia team in developing a research study to objectively measure the preference of Wikipedia editor and readers.

We hosted the July research showcase with a presentation by Aaron Halfaker of 4 Python libraries for data analysis, and a guest talk by Center for Civic Media’s Nathan Matias on the use of open data to increase the diversity of collaboratively created content.

We prepared 8 presentations that we will be giving or co-presenting next week at Wikimania in London. We also organized the next WikiResearch hackathon that will be jointly hosted in London (UK) (during the pre-conference Wikimania Hackathon) and in Philadelphia (USA) on August 6-7, 2014.

We filled the fundraising research analyst position: the new member of the Research & Data team will join us in September and we’ll post an announcement on the lists shortly before his start date.

Lastly, we gave presentations on current research at the Wikimedia Foundation at the Institute for Scientific Interchange (Turin) and at the DesignDensity lab (Milan).


Screenshot of the first Project Gutenberg ZIM file

The Kiwix project is funded and executed by Wikimedia CH.

We have pre-release binaries of the next 0.9 (final) release. Except for OSX everything seems to work file as far. The support of RaspberryPi was finally merged to the kiwix-plug master branch; this offers new perspectives because the price to create a Kiwix-Plug has dropped to around USD 100. We also started an engineering collaboration with ebook reader manufacturer Bookeen (in the scope of the Malebooks project) to be able offer an offline version of Wikipedia on e-ink devices.
We participated in the Google Serve Day at Google Zurich. The goal was to meet Google engineers during one day and have them work on open source projects. The result was a dozen of fixed bugs and implemented features, mostly on Kiwix for Android, but also in Kiwix for desktop and MediaWiki.
Four developers had a one-week hackathon in Lyon, France to develop an offline version of the Gutenberg library. We’re currently polishing the code and plan a release soon; our partners and sponsors plan the first deployments in Africa in Autumn.
Last but not least, a proof-of-concept of a Kiwix iOS app was made, so we might release a first app before the end of the year.


The Wikidata project is funded and executed by Wikimedia Deutschland.

The biggest improvement around Wikidata in July is the release of the entity suggester. It makes it a lot easier to see what kind of information is missing on an item. Helen and Anjali, Wikidata’s Outreach Program for Women interns, continued improving user documentation and outreach around Wikidata as well as worked on a new design for the main page. Guided Tours were published, helping newcomers find their way around the site. The developers further worked on supporting badges (like “featured article”), redirects between items, the monolingual text datatype (to be able to express things like the motto of a country) as well as the first implementation steps for the new user interface design. Additionally the first JSON dumps were published.


The engineering management team continues to update the Deployments page weekly, providing up-to-date information on the upcoming deployments to Wikimedia sites, as well as the annual goals, listing ongoing and future Wikimedia engineering efforts.

This article was written collaboratively by Wikimedia engineers and managers. See revision history and associated status pages. A wiki version is also available.

by Guillaume Paumier at August 26, 2014 10:10 AM

August 25, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Chinese Wikipedia Online Magazine: A Community Gateway

Front Page of The Wikipedian

Chinese Wikipedian Wilson Ye created an online magazine called The Wikipedian in December 2012, in partnership with Addis Wang and Eric Song. This project began as part of the Chinese Social Media Program as another way to connect the local community with the wider international community. Today it has over 500 subscribers on Chinese Wikipedia and is a new tool for spreading the idea of the Wikimedia movement to Chinese readers.

When Addis and Wilson first thought about creating an online magazine, they faced some challenges. Since 2005, many Chinese Wikipedians tried different ways to publish online magazines, but no one succeeded. These past failures brought up tough questions for the team regarding content and target audience. Instead of worrying, Wilson decided to make an experimental issue, which consisted of community news, abstracts of four Wikipedia articles and a featured picture. With a beautiful design by Eric, the first issue of the magazine received a lot of encouragement and advice.

After around six months of iterating on the magazine (which was originally published in simplified Chinese), The Wikipedian team published their first traditional Chinese version to promote news of the international community and interesting content contributed by community members to the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau communities. In a 2013 Wikimania special edition, the team invited the editors from Hong Kong and Taiwan to talk about their experiences at Wikimania. This was the first time The Wikipedian broke the geographical barrier to connect Chinese-speaking communities across countries.

Social media plays an important role in promoting the magazine. An account on weibo.com, funded by an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation, has become an incubator of new projects. With over 10,000 active followers, this social media account brings in a lot of attention to The Wikipedian and offers an easy way for its readers to provide feedback. One year later, now that The Wikipedian is itself an influencer, the magazine has in turn started to bring new followers to the social media account. This expands the diversity of followers and helps generate more influence in the Chinese-speaking world.

A Chinese proverb says: do not look at the sky from the bottom of a well, going outside is the only way to understand what the world you live in looks like. The Wikipedian would like to be one of the ways for Chinese Wikipedians to see and touch the broader international community.

Addis Wang, Coordinator of Wikimedia User Group China

by carlosmonterrey at August 25, 2014 05:45 PM

Grants, Programs and Learning: This year at Wikimania London

Grants, Programs & Learning booth in the Community Village.

Those present at this year’s Wikimania may have witnessed a different presence on behalf of the Grantmaking team. The department, formed by Grants, Learning & Evaluation and Education teams, was present in the global conference that brings together Wikimedia project programs, movement leaders and volunteers to learn from and connect with one another at the five day event. Whether at our booth in the Community Village or in the many presentations and workshops, the conversations we shared with community members from all over the world were very enriching.

We heard from more and more people interested in gathering data and working toward understanding, at a deeper level, what works and why. In this way, we are all working together towards building sustainable growth for the movement’s projects and programs; work that not only will involve new editors, but partnerships with other institutions that can help create free knowledge.

The need for sustainable growth

Learning Day notes on Logic Model.

Before the conference, we hosted a small Learning Day for leaders in our grants program to share experiences and insights, from applying evaluation to various projects – projects that might help the movement grow. Jake Orlowitz shared his game The Wikipedia Adventure, an experimental project aimed at onboarding new editors. Sandra Rientjes, the executive director from Wikimedia Nederlands (WMNL), presented her chapter’s long-term approach to programs. Wikimedia UK’s Daria Cybulska shared the Wikimedians in Residence Review to show how they have used evaluation to redesign and improve an existing program. To explore diversity, Amanda Menking talked about her experience in her research project on women and Wikipedia.

These four presentations demonstrated the wide range of experiments being conducted by the grants community. Continuing to measure and discuss evaluation can help us all discover projects that have impact and to understand if and how they can be replicated in different contexts.

The day came to a close with a lively Idea Lab Mixer and Learning Day Poster Session happy hour. This was an opportunity for grantees to showcase their work and insight gained in the past year and ignite conversations around creating new ideas to make Wikimedia even more awesome.

The need to learn from each other

Jake Orlowitz during his lightning talk.

For the first time, all the representatives from our grantmaking committees got together for training and impact discussions. The pre-conference sessions also hosted a special day to welcome new FDC members and discuss Participatory Grantmaking. Guest speaker Matthew Hart shared with the group his research on how this practice takes place and what benefits it has on donors, communities and movements. What does it mean to give a Wikimedia grant and work together in a project? Under the light of the recent Impact Reviews developed by Learning & Evaluation team, that focused on Annual Plan Grants and Projects and Event Grants, three main priorities were highlighted with regards on working towards the movement’s goals: expanding reach, generating more participation and improving quality.

The Wikimedia movement is known for its capacity to innovate and learn from peers. We are now at a point when we need to standardize learning processes and generate resources that guarantee this knowledge exchange. As we continue working on program resources, we will also start working more closely with grantees on their project evaluation plans, hopefully reducing the time invested in this task and increasing impact.

The need for better tools and resources!

Wikimania was a great place to share new tools, resources and strategies around shared programs. Some highlights include:

  • Category Induced: Allows you to know how many categories were created from a collection category.
  • Easy FDC report: a tool that lets you gather the number of uploaders, files uploaded and highlighted files from a specific category and make it format-ready for FDC reports.
  • Unused files: Allows user to see which files on any given category have not yet been used.
  • Wikimetrics new features: this tool now lets you know which users from your cohort are newly registered and also includes the new metric ‘Rolling active editor.’ Find out more on on this presentation!
  • Quarry: Allows you to run SQL queries against Wikipedia and other databases from your browser. Stay tuned for more documentation on this tool on the Evaluation portal on Meta!

For tool-driven program leaders, the new tools directory will come in handy to find these and other resources to measure online impact!

As we continue to work on the challenges that surfaced during conversations at Wikimania, we hope to continue the dialogue online with program leaders and grantees all over the world. We are working to connect talented people and good ideas across the movement, so we call out to movement leaders: stay connected, reach out and ask!

María CruzCommunity Coordinator of Program Evaluation & Design

by carlosmonterrey at August 25, 2014 05:30 PM

Remembering Jorge Royan

The is a syndicated post originally published by Wikimedia Argentina. The original Spanish version can be found here.

Wikimedia Argentina is saddened by the passing of our great friend and collaborator, the Argentinian architect and photographer Jorge Royan. Jorge was a winner of the National color photo Ranking by AFA and gold medal recipient from the International Federation of Photography (FIAP). Jorge also held various exhibits in local and international events. He was nominated by Agfa International as “professional of the month.”

As well as being a judge for Wiki Loves Monuments Argentina, Jorge donated hundreds of beautiful photos to Wikimedia Commons so that, in his own words, they won’t stay lost in his computer when he’s no longer around and serve a greater purpose other than just as a curiosity to his grandchildren. We hope that his wishes have been granted. Below you will find a small selection of Jorge’s work.

Thank you so much Jorge!

“A camera is like a bird that should be frozen in flight. To decide from where the bird looks into space (and with what eyes) is our job. Sometimes at ground level, others hang from a chandelier from four meters up. To obtain the wings is our responsibility.”

-Jorge Royan

Wedding photography, The Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic


A skater in the Vondelpark. Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Multi-neck guitar, Paris, France


Jama Masjid the main mosque in Delhi, India


Via delle Oche, Italy


Violin repair shop, Salzburg, Austria


Ford Motor Company vintage Ford, Havana, Cuba


Maori rowing ceremonial choreography, New Zealand

We are currently looking to incorporate a photo of Jorge into this blog. If you have access to a freely licensed photo of Jorge, please contact us. Thank You.

by carlosmonterrey at August 25, 2014 05:28 PM

Wikimedia Foundation releases its first transparency report

We are happy to announce the release of the Wikimedia Foundation’s first transparency report. Transparency is a tenet of the Wikimedia movement.  Anyone can see how a Wikipedia article is created and how it evolves, and anyone can contribute to the software that runs the Wikimedia projects. The transparency report we share today is in furtherance of our commitment to such openness.

Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization, receives requests from governments, individuals, and organizations to disclose information about our users or to change content on the Wikimedia projects. This transparency report is the amalgamation of two years of data — it details the number of requests we received, where these requests came from, and how we responded to them.

Among the wealth of information furnished in the report, we provide details about:

  • Content alteration and takedown requests. Of the 304 general content removal requests, zero (0) were granted. The Wikimedia Foundation is deeply committed to supporting an open and neutral space, where the users themselves decide what belongs on the Wikimedia projects.
  • Copyright takedown requests. Credit for the notably low number of these requests goes to our community of users, many of whom are creators and copyright holders themselves, and who work hard to ensure that our projects adhere to copyright laws. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides for a legal notice and takedown process, and we do adhere to that law.  When we do receive the infrequent DMCA notice, however, we thoroughly evaluate it and only remove infringing content if the request is valid.
  • Requests for user data. We do all we can to protect our users’ rights and privacy. Only 14.3% of requests for user data were granted because many requests were found to be illegal or not up to our standards. And often, we did not have any information to give. As part of our commitment to user privacy, Wikimedia collects little nonpublic user information, and retains that information for a short amount of time.

We invite you to learn more about our efforts to protect user privacy and the integrity of the Wikimedia projects at transparency.wikimedia.org.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel*

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

* This transparency report would not have been possible without the help and dedication of many individuals, including: Rubina Kwon, Roshni Patel, James Alexander, Eric Holmes, Dashiell Renaud, Lukas Mezger, Patrick Earley, Matthew Collins, and Megumi Yukie. Special thanks goes to Moiz Syed and Prateek Saxena for dreaming up the incredible design of the report and making it a reality.

by carlosmonterrey at August 25, 2014 05:27 PM

August 20, 2014


Zásada pro chování wikisprávců: Komunikovat a být otevřený

Danny B. je zasloužilý, zkušený a technicky nesmírně zdatný wikipedista. Využívat jeho služby by mělo být radostí pro každý wikiprojekt. Bohužel, mít ho jako správce je problém ve chvíli, když se najde v komunitě někdo, kdo se s ním neshodne. Danny B. totiž někdy využívá své znalosti a svá práva k vytvoření toho, co se jemu líbí, k ostatním požadavkům se někdy nehlásí, ignoruje je a jindy je

by Okino (noreply@blogger.com) at August 20, 2014 11:32 PM

Užitečnost, odbornost, Wikiverzita : 2. díl : Sebevzdělávání

Snad může někomu přijít divné, že má vůbec smysl psát o sebevzdělávání na Wikiverzitě, když jsem minule tak zdůrazňoval, aby Wikiverzita přinášela odbornost a druhými využitelný obsah. Vždyť kdo se sebevzdělává, dělá to proto, že není odborník, a dělá to sám pro sebe. Ve skutečnosti je na tyto dva požadavky – na odbornost a na tvorbu pro druhé – třeba myslet i zde, a právě pro ten paradox ještě

by Okino (noreply@blogger.com) at August 20, 2014 11:12 PM

Užitečnost, odbornost, Wikiverzita : 3. díl : Výzkum

Výzkum je zvláštností Wikiverzity. Ne-li všechny, pak naprostá většina ostatních projektů Wikimedia se originálnímu výzkumu (terminologií Wikipedie vlastnímu výzkumu) brání. Pro Wikiverzitu by ale měl být přirozenou součástí. Jak by ale měl vypadat? Než začnu, dovolte mi prosím uvést, že tento text nepíšu jako pojednání o vědecké metodě, ale jako zcela nesoustavný text z povšechně dostupných

by Okino (noreply@blogger.com) at August 20, 2014 11:12 PM

August 15, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Introducing the new blog: a place for movement news

Today we’re excited to announce the relaunch of the Wikimedia blog, with a new design and new features intended to make it easier for people to participate in sharing knowledge about the Wikimedia movement. We also hope this relaunch serves as a very public reminder: today is always the day you can–and should!–contribute a blog post.

The Wikimedia Foundation blog was started in 2008 as a place for staff of the WMF to share their work. Early blog posts often focused on the work of the Engineering team, including updates about the MediaWiki platform. News from the technology team remains a significant portion of the content shared on the blog today, but it has been joined by a riotous mix of content from every corner of the Wikimedia world.

Over the past six years, the blog has evolved and taken on a character closer to the movement of which it is a part. In April 2012, only 5 percent of blog posts were from authors who were not employed by the Wikimedia Foundation. Today community-authored posts often make up more than half of the total posts in a given month. The blog has become a platform for the movement, with more contributors, more languages, and increasingly diverse subjects and geographies. The volume of posts has grown tremendously: we frequently publish two or more posts a day. We long ago stopped referring to it as the Foundation blog — instead, it is a blog for the entire Wikimedia movement.

Today’s relaunch is designed to reflect some of these changes. We’ve dropped the word Foundation from the blog’s logo: visually, it is now the Wikimedia blog. The design changes offer more space to highlight stories and updates from across the movement, as well as different types of content. (For example, the big, beautiful images from initiatives like Wiki Loves Monument and Wiki Loves Earth will be right at home here.) Blog posts that attract lots of comments and discussion will be automatically featured on the homepage, making it easier to see what people are talking about. Posts in languages other than English will be easier to find and read, offering more opportunities to engage with other language communities.

Some other notable updates include:

  • Direct comment publishing with no moderator delay, thanks to a custom privacy-friendly captcha solution.
  • A responsive design that works better on varying screen sizes: Catch up with the movement as you commute.
  • The code for the theme will be released on Github: We’re looking forward to your pull request for bug fixes.
  • Easier and faster updates thanks to dedicated tech support.
  • An admin tool for simple transfer of licensing information for images from Wikimedia Commons, to easily and correctly attribute the work of community members.
  • Enabling multi-author bylines, reflecting the collaborative production process of many posts (such as this one)

With all these changes, it’s still a work in progress. In the year since we embarked on a redesign process (implemented by Exygy, a San Francisco software firm) we have continued to learn about how the community uses the blog; there are additional tweaks we may add to the look and feel in the future. We’re still working on how to best categorize posts in a way that works for longtime community members, as well as people new to the movement. In the spirit of Cunningham’s Law, we thought we’d start with Movement, Technology, Events, and Foundation as the main navigation categories, and learn from the feedback about how they work for readers. You will probably find other features you’d like to nominate for continued evolution. Please do. (And point out any bugs in the comments… we’re still finding some.)

In planning this relaunch, we had extensive conversations with members of the WMF Operations and Engineering teams about whether we should continue to host the blog on our servers, or move to a third-party host. We reconfirmed that the mission of the Operations team is to operate one the world’s most popular websites. Rather than staff up to support the blog, we jointly concluded that it made sense to work with a third-party host, Automattic, that has particular expertise in this area and understands our needs and values, including a commitment to free software.[1] They have been a strong partner, working to meet our privacy standards, disabling some of their standard analytics tools and clarifying how they handle certain information. They have also altered their WordPress VIP Terms of Service to accommodate Creative Commons licenses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s taken the care and attention of many people to seamlessly move so much movement history from one platform to another, besides the work of the current Communications team (mainly Heather Walls, who designed the blog’s new theme, and Tilman Bayer, who lead the rollout process with Automattic and Exygy). We’d like to thank the many members of the community who have been–and no doubt will be–providing suggestions and bug reports for the blog platform (with a special thanks to Jeremy Baron). A very big thanks to former WMF Communications team member Matthew Roth, who spearheaded this process and led the redesign work in 2013; to Terry Chay, who provided invaluable technical advice on the process; to the WMF Legal, UX and Operations teams, in particular Luis Villa and Rob Halsell; and to the teams at Exygy (in particular Justin Carboneau and Zach Berke) and at Automattic.

A final reminder: Like the Wikimedia projects, the blog is created by you. You can draft posts directly on Meta, and the Communications team will work with you to edit and publish, according to a transparent editorial process: it’s now common for posts to be created in full view of anyone who is inclined to read or participate. This blog is a platform for the movement, and we’re here to help you share your message with the world.

The WMF Communications Team
Katherine, Tilman, Carlos, and Heather

  1.  Because one WMF Board member happens to be an executive at Automattic, the contract was reviewed with regard to the Foundation’s
    Conflict of Interest policy and approved by the Board in absence of this Board member.

Old vs. New:

Old Wikimedia blog, July 31, 2014 crop2.png New Wikimedia blog, July 31, 2014.png


2014-08-01: Edited to add a footnote explaining how the WMF COI policy was handled for the contract with Automattic.
2014-08-14: Edited to add more information about who on the current WMF Communications team had worked on which part of the project.

by carlosmonterrey at August 15, 2014 06:26 AM

August 14, 2014

Okinovo Okýnko

Wikipedie: otevřenost a zodpovědnost

Nedávná myšlenka vyslovená spoluzakladatelem Wikipedie Jimbem Walesem v diskusi na Wikiverzitě:„Be careful about valuing 'openness' above quality and the achievement of serious goals. Take a look at how badly trolls can upset and ruin a culture. I absolutely support openness - in a framework of quality and thoughtfulness.“Čili česky:„Buďte opatrní, když dáváte větší hodnotu otevřenosti nad

by Okino (noreply@blogger.com) at August 14, 2014 12:15 AM

August 12, 2014


Užitečnost, odbornost, Wikiverzita : 1. díl : Vzdělávání

Už je to skoro rok, co jsem dostal jako redaktor bulletinu Wikimedium k publikování materiál o tom, že na Wikiverzitě začali uklízet, aby se zvýšila její úroveň. Právě kvalita materiálů na Wikiverzitě je často terčem kritiky od přispěvatelů z jiných projektů Wikimedia, a to jak v případě anglické Wikiverzity, tak i české. Od té doby, co jsem ten materiál do Wikimedia převzal a bulletin ho tedy

by Okino (noreply@blogger.com) at August 12, 2014 12:01 AM

August 08, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, July 2014

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png

Vol: 4 • Issue: 7 • July 2014 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

Shifting values in the paid content debate; cross-language vandalism detection; translations from 53 Wiktionaries

With contributions by: Piotr Konieczny, Maximilian Klein, Heather Ford, and Han-Teng Liao

Understanding shifting values underlying the paid content debate on the English Wikipedia

See related Signpost content: “Extensive network of clandestine paid advocacy exposed“, “With paid advocacy in its sights, the Wikimedia Foundation amends their terms of use
Reviewed by Heather Ford

Kim Osman has performed a fascinating study[1] on the three 2013 failed proposals to ban paid advocacy editing in the English language Wikipedia. Using a Constructivist Grounded Theory approach, Osman analyzed 573 posts from the three main votes on paid editing conducted in the community in November, 2013. She found that editors who opposed the ban felt that existing policies of neutrality and notability in WP already covered issues raised by paid advocacy editing, and that a fair and accurate encyclopedia article could be achieved by addressing the quality of the edits, not the people contributing the content. She also found that a significant challenge to any future policy is that the community ‘is still not clear about what constitutes paid editing’.

Osman uses these results to argue that there has been a transition in the values of the English language Wikipedia editorial community from seeing commercial involvement as direct opposition to Wikipedia’s core values (something repeated at the institutional level by the Wikimedia Foundation and Jimmy Wales who see a bright line between paid and unpaid editing) to an acceptance of paid professions and a resignation to their presence.

Osman argues that the romantic view of Wikipedia as a system somehow apart from the commercial market that characterized earlier depictions (such as those by Yochai Benkler) has been diluted in recent years and that sustainability in the current environment is linked to a platform’s ability to integrate content across multiple places and spaces on the web. Osman also argues that these shifts reflect wider changes in assumptions about commerciality in digital media and that the boundaries between commercial and non-profit in the context of peer production are sometimes fuzzy, overlapping and not clearly defined.

Osman’s close analysis of 573 posts is a valuable contribution to the ongoing policy debate about the role of paid editing in Wikipedia and will hopefully be used to inform future debates.

“Pivot-based multilingual dictionary building using Wiktionary”

Reviewed by Maximilian Klein (talk)

Straight edges represent translation pairs extracted directly from the Wiktionaries. The pair guildbreaslawas found via triangulating.

To build multilingual dictionaries to and from every language is combinatorially a lot of work. If one uses triangulation–if A means B, and B means C, then A means C (see figure)–then a lot of the work can be done by machine. A large closed-source effort did this in 2009[supp 1], but a new paper by Ács[2] defends “while our methods are inferior in data size, the dictionaries are available on our website”[supp 2]. Their approach used the translation tables from 53 Wiktionaries, to make 19 million inferred translations more than the 4 million already occurring in Wiktionary. The researchers steered clear of several classical problems like polysemy, one word having multiple meanings, by using a machine learning classifier. The features used in the classifier were based on the graph-theoretic attributes of each possible word pair. For instance, if two or more languages can be an intermediate “pivot” language for translation, that turned out to be a good indicator of a valid match. In order to test the precision of these translations, manual spot checking was done and found a precision of 47.9% for newly found word-pairs versus 88.4% for random translations coming out of Wiktionary. As for recall, which tested the coverage of a collection of 3,500 common words, 83.7% of words were accounted for by automatic triangulation in the top 40 languages. That means that right now if we were to try and make a 40-language pocket phrasebook to travel around most of the world just using Wiktionary, about 85% of the time there would be a translation, and it would be between 50-85% correct.

This performance would likely need to increase before any results could be operationalized and contributed back into Wiktionary. However, given the fact that the code used to parse and compare 43 different Wiktionaries was also released on GitHub[supp 3], that goal is a possibility. It’s yet another testament to the open ecosystem to see a Wikimedia project along with Open Researcher efforts make a resource to rival a closed standard. While Ács’ research isn’t the holy grail of translation between arbitrary languages, it cleverly mixes established theory and open data, and then contributes it back to the community.

“Cross Language Learning from Bots and Users to detect Vandalism on Wikipedia”

Reviewed by Han-Teng Liao (talk)

A new study[3] by Tran and Christen is the latest example of academic research on vandalism detection which has been developed over the years[supp 4] in the context of the PAN workshop[supp 5], where researchers develop both corpus data and tools to uncover plagiarism, authorship, and the misuse of social media/software. This work should be of interests to both researchers and Wikipedians because of (a) the need to detect vandalism and (b) the interesting question whether such vandalism-fighting data and tools are transferable or portable from one language version to another. Both the vandalism-fighting corpus and tools have both practical and theoretical implications for understanding the cross-lingual transfer in knowledge and bots.

In 2010 and 2011, Wikipedia vandalism detection competitions were included by the PAN as workshops. It started with Martin Potthast’s work on building the free-of-charge PAN Wikipedia vandalism corpus, PAN-WVC-10 for research, which compiled 32452 edits based on 28468 Wikipedia articles, among which 2391 vandalism instances were identified by human coders recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk[supp 6]. In 2011, a larger crowdsourced corpus of 30,000+ Wikipedia edits is released in three languages: English, German, and Spanish[supp 7], with 65 features to capture vandalism.

Based on even larger datasets of over 500 million revisions across five languages (en:English, de:German, es:Spanish, fr:French, and ru:Russian), Tran & Christen’s latest work adds to the efforts by applying several supervised machine learning algorithms from the Scikit-learn toolkit[supp 8], including Decision Tree (DT), Random Forest (RF), Gradient Tree Boosting (GTB), Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) and Nearest Neighbour (NN).

What Tran & Christen confirm from their findings is that “distinguishing the vandalism identified by bots and users show statistically significant differences in recognizing vandalism identified by users across languages, but there are no differences in recognizing the vandalism identified by bots” (p.13) This demonstrates human beings can recognize a much wider spectrum of vandalism than bots, but still bots are shown to be trainable to be more sophisticated to capture more and more nonobvious cases of vandalism.

Tran & Christen try to further make the case for the benefits of cross language learning of vandalism. They argue that the detection models are generalizable, based on the positive results of transferring the machine-learned capacity from English to other smaller Wikipedia languages. While they are optimistic, they acknowledge such generalization has at best been proven among some of the languages they studied (these languages are all Roman-alphabet-based languages except for Russian), and the poor performance of the Russian language model. Thus, Tran & Christen rightly point out the need for research on non-English and especially non-European language versions. They also recognize that many word based features are no longer useful for some languages such as Mandarin Chinese, because of tokenization and other language-specific issues.

Tran & Christen call for next research projects to include languages such as Arabic and Mandarin Chinese to complete the United Nations working set of languages. It will be interesting to see how such research projects can be executed and how the greater Wikipedia research and editor community can help and/or use such research efforts.

Readers’ interests differ from editors’ preferences

Reviewed by Piotrus.

A conference paper titled “Reader Preferences and Behavior on Wikipedia”[4] deals with the under-studied population of Wikipedia readers. The paper provides a useful literature review on the few studies about reading preference of that group. The researchers used publicly available page view data, and more interestingly, were able to obtain browsing data (such as time spend by a reader on a given page). Since such data is unfortunately not collected by Wikipedia, the researchers obtained this data through volunteers using a Yahoo! toolbar. The authors used Wikipedia:Assessment classes to gauge article’s quality.

The paper offers valuable findings, including important insights to the Wikipedia community, namely that “the most read articles do not necessarily correspond to those frequently edited, suggesting some degree of non-alignment between user reading preferences and author editing preference”. This is not a finding that should come as much surprise, considering for example the high percentage of quality military history articles produced by the WikiProject Military History, one of the most active if not the most active wikiproject in existence – and of how little importance this topic is to the general population. Statistics on topics popularity and quality of corresponding articles can be seen in Table 1, page 3 of the article. Figure 1 on page 4 is also of interest, presenting a matrix of articles grouped by popularity and length. For example, the authors identify the area of “technology” as the 4th most popular, but the quality of its articles lags behind many other fields, placing it around the 9th place. It would be a worthwhile exercise for the Wikipedia community to identify popular articles that are in need of more attention (through revitalizing tools like Wikipedia:Popular pages, perhaps using code that makes WikiProject popular pages listing work?) and direct more attention towards what our readers want to read about (rather than what we want to write about). Finally, the authors also identify different reading patterns, and suggest how those can be used to analyze article’s popularity in more detail.

Overall, this article seems like a very valuable piece of research for the Wikipedia community and the WMF, and it underscores why we should reconsider collecting more data on our readers’ behavior. In order to serve our readers as best as we can, more information on their browsing habits on Wikipedia could help to produce more valuable research like this project.

Wikipedia from the perspective of PR and marketing

Reviewed by Piotrus.

An article[5] in “Business Horizons”, written in a very friendly prose (not a common finding among academic works), looks at Wikipedia (as well as some other forms of collaborative, Web 2.0 media) from the business perspective of a public relations/marketing studies. Of particular interest to the Wikipedia community is the authors goal of presenting “the three bases of getting your entry into Wikipedia, as well as a set of guidelines that help manage the potential Wikipedia crisis that might happen one day.” The authors correctly recognize that Wikipedia has policies that must be adhered to by any contributors, though a weakness of the paper is that while it discusses Wikipedia concepts such as neutrality, notability, verifiability, and conflict of interest, it does not link to them. The paper provides a set of practical advice on how to get one’s business entry on Wikipedia, or how to improve it. While the paper does not suggest anything outright unethical, it is frank to the point of raising some eyebrows. While nobody can disagree with advice such as “as a rule of thumb, try to remain as objective and neutral as possible” and “when in doubt, check with others on the talk page to determine whether proposed changes are appropriate”, given the lack of consensus among Wikipedia’s community on how to deal with for-profit and PR editors, other advice such as “maximize mentions in other Wikipedia entries” (i.e. gaming WP:RED), “be associated with serious contributors…leverage the reputation of an employee who is already a highly active contributor… [befriend Wikipedians in real life]“, “When correcting negative information is not possible, try counterbalancing it by adding more positive elements about your firm, as long as the facts are interesting and verifiable”, “…you might edit the negative section by replacing numerals (99) with words (ninety-nine), since this is also less likely to be read. Add pictures to draw focus away from the negative content” might be seen as more controversial, falling into the gaming the system gray area. The “Third, get help from friends and family” section in particular seems to fall foul of meatpuppetry.

In the end, this is an article worth reading in detail by all interested in the PR/COI topics, though for better or worse, the fact that it is closed access will likely reduce its impact significantly. On an ending note, one of the two article’s co-authors has a page on Wikipedia at Andreas Kaplan, which was restored by a newbie editor in 2012, two years after it’s deletion, has been maintained by throw-away SPAs, and this reviewer cannot help but notice that it still seems to fail Wikipedia:Notability (academics)

“No praise without effort: experimental evidence on how rewards affect Wikipedia’s contributor community”

Reviewed by Piotrus.

In 2012, the authors of this paper[6] have given out over a hundred barnstars to the top 1% most active Wikipedians, and concluded that such awards improve editors productivity. This time they repeated this experiment while broadening their sample size to the top 10% most active editors. After excluding administrators and recently inactive editors, they handed out 300 barnstars “with a generic positive text that expressed community appreciation for their contributions”, divided between the 91st–95th, 96th–99th, and 100th percentiles of the most active editors (this corresponds to an average of 282, 62 and 22 edits per month) and then tracked the activity of those editors, as well as of the corresponding control sample which did not receive any award. The experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that less active contributors will be responsive to rewards, similar to the most highly-active contributors from the prior research.

The authors found, however, that rewarding less productive editors did not stimulate higher subsequent productivity. They note that while the top 1% group responded to an award with an increase in productivity (measured at a rather high 60% increase), less productive subjects did not change their behavior significantly. The researchers also noted that while some of the top 1% editors received an additional award from other Wikipedians, not a single subject from the less active group was a recipient of another award.

The researchers conclude that “this supports the notion that peer production’s incentive structure is broadly meritocratic; we did not observe contributors receiving praise or recognition without having first demonstrated significant and substantial effort.” While this will come as little surprise to the Wikipedia community, their other observation – that outside the top 1% of editors, awards such as barnstars have little meaningful impact – is more interesting.

Further, the authors found that while rewarding the most active editors tends to increase their retention ratio, it may counter-intuitively decrease the retention ratio of the less active editors. The authors propose the following explanation: “Premature recognition of their work may convey a different meaning to these contributors; instead of signaling recognition and status in the eyes of the community, these individuals may perceive being rewarded as a signal that their contributions are sufficient, for the time being, or come to expect being rewarded for their contributions.” They suggest that this could be better understood through future research. For the community in general, it raises an interesting question: how should we recognize less active editors, to make sure that thanking them will not be taken as “you did enough, now you can leave”?


Wikipedia assignments improve students’ research skills

It is refreshing to see a continuing and growing stream of academic works endorsing various aspects of teaching with Wikipedia paradigm. A study[7] of eleven students “enrolled in a semester-long academic literacy course in a preparatory program for study at an Australian university… showed an educationally statistical improvement in the students’ research skills, while qualitative comments revealed that despite some technical difficulties in using the Wikipedia site, many students valued the opportunity to write for a ‘real’ audience and not just for a lecturer.”

A split in the growing field of Chinese-language Wikipedia research

A blog post[8] by Han-Teng Liao (廖漢騰) presents an interesting exploratory overview of a Chinese language research on Wikipedia. The findings suggest that Chinese-language scholars and academic publication outlets are increasingly doing research in the field of Wikipedia studies; however there’s “a divide between mainland Chinese academic sources/search results on one hand, and Hong Kong/Taiwanese ones on the other.” The reason for this seems to be primarily technical, as scholars from different regions seem to publish in different outlets, which in turn are not indexed in the academic search engines preferred by those from other region.

Other recent publications

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

  • “Uneven Openness: Barriers to MENA [Middle East/North Africa] Representation on Wikipedia”[9] (blog post)
  • ” Detecting epidemics using Wikipedia article views: A demonstration of feasibility with language as location proxy”[10]
  • “The Reasons of People Continue Editing Wikipedia Content – Task Value Confirmation Perspective”[11]
  • “Circling the Infinite Loop, One Edit at a Time: Seriality in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedic Urge”[12]
  • “Identifying Duplicate and Contradictory Information in Wikipedia”[13]
  • “The impact of elite vs. non-elite contributor groups in online social production communities: The case of Wikipedia”[14]
  • “What do we Think an Encyclopaedia is?”[15] From the abstract: “Based on survey and interview research carried out with publishers, librarians and higher education students, [this article] demonstrates that certain physical features and qualities are associated with the encyclopaedia and continue to be valued by them. Having identified these qualities, the article then explores whether they apply to three incidences of electronic encyclopaedias, Britannica Online, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Wikipedia.”
  • “Crowdsourcing Knowledge Interdiscursive Flows from Wikipedia into Scholarly Research”[16]. From the abstract: “using a dataset collected from the Scopus research database, which is processed with a combination of bibliometric techniques and qualitative analysis [this article finds] that there has been a significant increase in the use of Wikipedia as a reference within all areas of science and scholarship. Wikipedia is used to a larger extent within areas like Computer Science, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities, than in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Psychology.”
  • “How Readers Shape the Content of an Encyclopedia: A Case Study Comparing the German Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885-1890) with Wikipedia (2002-2013)”[17]


  1. Osman, Kim (2014-06-17). “The Free Encyclopaedia that Anyone can Edit: The Shifting Values of Wikipedia Editors“. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6: 593–607. doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146593. ISSN 2000-1525. 
  2. Ács, Judit (May 26–31, 2014). Pivot-based multilingual dictionary building using Wiktionary.
  3. Tran, Khoi-Nguyen; P. Christen (2014). “Cross Language Learning from Bots and Users to detect Vandalism on Wikipedia”. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering Early Access Online. doi:10.1109/TKDE.2014.2339844. ISSN 1041-4347. 
  4. Janette Lehmann, Claudia Müller-Birn, David Laniado, Mounia Lalmas, Andreas Kaltenbrunner: Reader Preferences and Behavior on Wikipedia. HT’14, September 1–4, 2014, Santiago, Chile. http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~mounia/Papers/wiki.pdf
  5. Kaplan, Andreas; Michael Haenlein. “Collaborative projects (social media application): About Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia“. Business Horizons. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.004. ISSN 0007-6813.  Closed access
  6. Restivo, Michael; Arnout van de Rijt. “No praise without effort: experimental evidence on how rewards affect Wikipedia’s contributor community“. Information, Communication & Society: 1-12. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2014.888459. ISSN 1369-118X. 
  7. Miller, Julia (2014-06-13). “Building academic literacy and research skills by contributing to Wikipedia: A case study at an Australian university“. Journal of Academic Language and Learning 8 (2): A72-A86. ISSN 1835-5196. 
  8. Liao, Han-Teng (2014-06-20). Chinese-language literature about Wikipedia: a meta-analysis of academic search engine result pages.
  9. Graham, Mark; Bernie Hogan (2014-04-29). “Uneven Openness: Barriers to MENA Representation on Wikipedia”. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2430912. 
  10. Generous, Nicholas; Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle, Reid Priedhorsky (2014-05-14). “Detecting epidemics using Wikipedia article views: A demonstration of feasibility with language as location proxy“. arXiv:1405.3612 [physics]. 
  11. Lai, Cheng-Yu; Heng-Li Yang. “The Reasons of People Continue Editing Wikipedia Content – Task Value Confirmation Perspective“. Behaviour & Information Technology (ja): 1-47. doi:10.1080/0144929X.2014.929744. ISSN 0144-929X. 
  12. Salor, E.: Circling the Infinite Loop, One Edit at a Time: Seriality in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedic Urge. In Allen, R. and van den Berg, T. (eds.) Serialization in Popular Culture. London: Routledge p.170 ff.
  13. Weissman, Sarah; Samet Ayhan, Joshua Bradley, Jimmy Lin (2014-06-04). “Identifying Duplicate and Contradictory Information in Wikipedia“. arXiv:1406.1143 [cs]. 
  14. Mihai Grigore, Bernadetta Tarigan, Juliana Sutanto and Chris Dellarocas: “The impact of elite vs. non-elite contributor groups in online social production communities: The case of Wikipedia”. SCECR 2014 PDF
  15. Schopflin, Katharine (2014-06-17). “What do we Think an Encyclopaedia is?“. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6: 483-503. doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146483. ISSN 2000-1525. 
  16. Lindgren, Simon (2014-06-17). “Crowdsourcing Knowledge Interdiscursive Flows from Wikipedia into Scholarly Research“. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6: 609-627. doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146609. ISSN 2000-1525. 
  17. Spree, Ulrike (2014-06-17). “How Readers Shape the Content of an Encyclopedia: A Case Study Comparing the German Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885-1890) with Wikipedia (2002-2013)“. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 6: 569-591. doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146569. ISSN 2000-1525. 

Supplementary references and notes:
  1. Mausam and Soderland, Stephen and Etzioni, Oren and Weld, Daniel S. and Skinner, Michael and Bilmes, Jeff (2009). “Compiling a Massive, Multilingual Dictionary via Probabilistic Inference“. 
  2. Hungarian Front Page.
  3. wiki2dict github.
  4. For example, in 2013 only two languages are studied [1] in contrast to the five languages reported in this 2014 journal article.
  5. http://pan.webis.de/
  6. See[2]
  7. See [3]
  8. Scikit-learn is an open source project in Python for machine-learning

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 4 • Issue: 7 • July 2014
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email @WikiResearch on Identi.ca WikiResearch on Twitter[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by wikimediablog at August 08, 2014 09:59 PM

Two shades of Wikipedia in Punjabi

Punjabi Wikipedian Satdeep Gill (left) discussing a general Wikipedia editing aspect with Shyamal Lakshminarayan and Shubha

In June of 2014, the Wikimedia blog reported the end of a month-long Umepedia Challenge which aimed to create Wikipedia articles on the Swedish city of Umeå in as many languages as possible. If somebody were to take a wild guess, they could make the assumption that the contributing winner would hail from Europe since the contest pertains to a European city. But surprisingly, the winner is Satdeep Gill, a contributor for Punjabi Wikipedia. He proudly claimed in his Facebook post: “I won the Umepedia Challenge by creating all the articles in Punjabi and a few of them in Hindi and Urdu.” This is the zeal and enthusiasm of Punjabi Wikipedia admin Satdeep. His efforts to advance and maintain the Punjabi Wikipedia are equally shared by co-admin Vigyani as seen in the latter’s inquiries and application of the editing norms of other Indian language Wikipedias on Punjabi Wikipedia. One of Vigyani’s recent initiatives is a query regarding translating and transliterating foreign words on the Hindi Wikipedia Village Pump.

Intrigued by the keenness of the two sysops and the increase in the number of contributors on Punjabi Wikipedia, I decided to get more information from Punjabi Wikipedians by way of a 20-point questionnaire. I got responses from five leading Punjabi Wikipedians. A common factor I noticed from the responses is that they all were introduced to Punjabi Wikipedia out of curiosity when they noticed the interwiki link provided by Wikidata on the left-hand side of the screen of many English articles. A motivating factor of these editors was reflected in the words of Babandeep Singh: “Seeing how the wiki was lagging with respect to the quantity and quality of articles, I decided to contribute as much as I could.” It was also revealed in the survey that Patiala has the highest number of active editors, with at least three known contributors hailing from the city. The main facilitating factors in attracting and retaining new editors here has been the satisfactory language interface and the editing tools. Although the size of the current Punjabi Wikipedia Community is relatively small, according to Parveer Singh Grewal, the atmosphere here is good and there is very little room for conflict.

Punjabi Wikipedian Charan Gill (right) along with Niraj Suryavanshi

According to Charan Gill, while Punjabi Wikipedia has a number of stubs that don’t go beyond a one-line description, many are in the process of being reworked into full-length articles. The respondents generally felt that a neutral point of view is being observed. With regards to the future growth of Punjabi Wikipedia, Vigyani points out: “I recently created many articles using AWB and data lists in form of CSV files on topics of geography and politics. Articles related to politics were already being done on Hindi Wikipedia. I borrowed their data. I then created my own data sheets for geography articles, which were also provided by Hindi Wikipedia. This kind of collaboration can be done across all the other language projects, especially among Indian languages. A huge number of stub/start class articles can be created by recording the data in excel sheets and using bot or AWB. A large part of data is numeric and rest text. By easily translating those text portions, data lists for each local language can be created, resulting in a huge number of articles on important topics.” On the other hand, Satdeep Gill plans to promote Wikipedia in government schools of Punjab. According to him, even a single editor from one school will make a huge difference to the Punjabi Wikipedia. It was also acknowledged that Punjabi Wiktionary and Wikibooks are short of contributors. These projects can reach a commendable level contributions only after enlisting more users from Punjabi Wikimedia into these projects.

It is widely known that Punjabi is written in Gurmukhi script in India while a Persian-style Shahmukhi script is used in Pakistan. Most Punjabi people of these countries speak the same language but are aware of only one predominantly used script in their country. Even in the midst of of this divide, there are a few Wikipedians who contribute to Wikipedia in both the scripts. One such contributor is Abbas Dhothar from Pakistan. Even when he is active on the Shahmukhi script version of Punjabi Wikipedia, called “Western Punjabi Wikipedia,” he contributes to a cultural integration of Punjabi Wikipedians by creating and expanding articles on notable personalities such as Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He has listed links to the website of the Indian Punjabi weekly newspaper Ajit and the global Punjabi unity website Sanjha Punjab on his Western Punjabi Wikipedia userpage. Abbas also created 20 articles on the Gurmukhi version of Punjabi Wikipedia besides editing several articles written by Indian users. In some ways, he seems to echo the statement of Shahmukhi-knowing Satdeep Gill: “I was even thinking one day we could unite both the Wikipedias into one.”

During my humble efforts to reach out to Western Punjabi Wikipedians, I was lucky to get a response from Khalid Mahmood, the lone admin of the Western Punjabi Wikipedia. As a professor of English, Khalid realized the immense difficulties faced by the students in learning English and favours dissemination of knowledge in native languages such as Punjabi. According to him, while there are only 7-8 active and dedicated contributors on Western Punjabi Wikipedia, the qualitative content generation of native language contributions has resulted in 23,000-27,000 clicks everyday, making it the most referred website in the language. For the last six years, the commencement and advancement of Western Punjabi Wikipedia remained a passion for Khalid. He considers the invitation and travel scholarship to Wikimania 2012 in Washigton DC and Wikimania 2014 in London as rewards for his dedicated efforts in starting Western Punjabi Wikipedia, Western Punjabi Wiktionary and Western Punjabi Wikiquote, which is likely to soon come out of incubation as a full-fledged Wikimedia project. Khalid wants to see Western Punjabi Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, a cultural centre for Punjabi people and a matter of pride for them. He wishes a friendly collaboration from the Indian Punjabi Wikipedians. While both Punjabi and Western Punjabi Wikipedias are witnessing growth and expansion, I consider it as a welcome gesture that the Punjabi Wikipedians across both India and Pakistan believe in the need for cooperation and collaboration and are even ready to work in a cordial and mutually beneficial manner on the Wikipedia sphere.

I would like to thank all Punjabi Wikipedians from both India and Pakistan for the valuable input used in this survey.

Syed Muzammiluddin, Wikipedian.

by carlosmonterrey at August 08, 2014 09:19 PM

August 07, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

New “open” licenses aren’t so open

Open access image from the Public Library of Science.

Wikimedians have long been excited by the growth of the Open Access scholarship movement. Open Access scholarship has made vast amounts of images, video, and data available to the entire world, and in the process enriched Wikimedia projects as well. For example, over 2,000 images from the open access Public Library of Science are used in Wikipedia articles, including the adorable Brookesia micra to the right.

Unfortunately, some participants in scholarly publishing would like to water down “open access”, so that they get credit for being “open” while continuing to charge the public for access to knowledge. Today, we join fifty-five other open access groups in protesting the latest such attempt – publication of new “open” licenses that aren’t actually open.

These new licenses were written by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM). STM’s new “open access” licenses fail to meet the basic standards set out by the Freedom Definition and the Open Knowledge Definition. For example, they restrict commercial use, and in some cases even “competing” uses. They also restrict text and data mining, activities that should be permitted to ensure that researchers can grow and expand human knowledge.

The licenses also damage interoperability. Beyond being incompatible with reuse in Creative Commons-licensed works, two of the licenses are designed to be added on to other licenses, causing even more confusion. While the title says that they “add” rights, and the body speaks of “enabling” researchers, that is only true if the addendums are added to restrictive licenses that prohibit derivatives. If the addendums are combined with open licenses like Creative Commons Share-Alike licenses, the result would be a reduction of rights. Because these licenses and addendums are not compatible with our licensing policies, materials licensed under them cannot be uploaded to Wikimedia.

We join the Public Library of Science, Open Knowledge, and many other groups in urging STM to withdraw these licenses. We also urge publishers and authors who are considering these licenses to instead grow the knowledge commons by using standard, interoperable, open licenses like Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike and Creative Commons Zero.

Luis Villa, Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at August 07, 2014 07:57 PM

August 06, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Free Knowledge Should Be for Everyone: Sign Your Name for Free Access to Wikipedia on Mobile Phones

Today we are pleased to announce that the Wikimedia Foundation is launching a petition for free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones, accompanied by the short documentary film, Knowledge for Everyone.

In November 2012, a group of high schoolers from Joe Slovo Park township in South Africa wrote and posted an open letter on Facebook, requesting that mobile carriers in South Africa grant free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones so that they could use Wikipedia’s articles to support their schoolwork and contribute to their education. The class had read about Wikipedia Zero; a Wikimedia Foundation program that works with mobile carriers to waive data charges that normally come with accessing Wikipedia on mobile phones. We first heard about the efforts of the class in February of 2013; soon after, I went with filmmaker Charlene Music to Cape Town, to hear the students’ story in person, and capture their request on camera.

In October 2013, we published a video of the students reading the open letter that they had written. On February 14, 2014, one of the mobile carriers mentioned in the letter, MTN South Africa, responded with their own video announcing that they would grant free access to Wikipedia in South Africa to MTN users via the Opera Mini browser. What a Valentine’s day present! Everyone was excited by MTN South Africa’s decision.

Many people talk about the consequences of the global digital divide, or the gap between the quality and availability of digital access in the global north versus the global south. (Vint Cerf recently addressed the issue on The Colbert Report.) However, there are few examples of stories that humanize this gap. It’s often hard to show the direct impact of knowledge on an individual or a community, and big numbers and statistics lose the personal truth of the story. Knowledge for Everyone is a chance for the world to see what free access to Wikipedia can mean, through the experience of the students of Sinenjongo High School.

The petition that we’re publishing along with the documentary is a way for you to do something about helping make the world’s free knowledge available for everyone. When you sign this petition, you can tell us what free access to Wikipedia could mean to you or your community. This way, when the Wikimedia Foundation talks with mobile carriers all around the world, we can share your message. They’ll be able to hear, in your words, why access to free knowledge is a powerful tool.

Documentaries take a long time to produce. Since we first visited Sinenjongo, a lot has happened:

A few other notes about how this all came together:

  • We produced four different cuts of the film above (cut two, cut three, cut four) in order to A/B test them and the messaging on the petition for effectiveness in getting signatures. We haven’t tested them yet so we don’t know which cut works the best. After we finish our tests, we plan to translate the petition into languages other than English.
  • When you sign the petition, we don’t share any of your private information with anyone, but we may message you later for your support in fundraising or other efforts in the future. I’m personally going to be reviewing your messages as they come in to sort and share them for their maximum effectiveness in messaging. We will be sharing this petition with our donors. We are also providing links to the documentary on YouTube.com and Wikimedia Commons on the petition page to allow playback and distribution on as many types of devices as possible.
  • This film was directed by Charlene Music, and the musical score was produced by Andrew Jordan. The score is available as a free CC-by-SA 3.0 download here. I think they both did a fantastic job.
  • The extension of the Mediawiki software which is used for this petition is available here. I’m curious to see what this is used for in the future.

Sinenjongo High School 2013 12A class graduation

Finally, it’s my sad duty to inform those reading that one of the students featured in the documentary, Ntsika Kellem, died in an auto accident on a dark road just a few months after graduating from Sinenjongo High School. He was only 19 years old and he was studying computer science at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. We have dedicated the documentary to him in honor of his memory. He loved to play chess, and started the Xhosa language Wikipedia article about chess. Portions of this documentary in its unfinished form were played at his memorial which was attended by around 450 people.

The names of people who contributed to making this happen are numerous to mention here. My thanks to everyone involved in taking this campaign to where it is now. I want to live in a world in which every single person on the planet has equal access to the sum of all knowledge, and if you do too, please sign our petition and let mobile carriers know why they should work with us.

Victor Grigas

Storyteller and Video Producer

Wikimedia Foundation

P.S. — Many of the Sinenjongo students have gone onto college since graduating, and their needs now extend beyond free access to knowledge. If you would like to assist the students in the film above in a more direct way, I have set up — in my personal capacity — a crowdfunding campaign to buy laptops for these students. They have all learned the basics of editing Wikipedia via browsers, and many are eager to contribute.

by wikimediablog at August 06, 2014 09:49 AM

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

We’re fortunate that millions of people all over the world support the work of the Wikimedia Foundation through donations. It has always been important to the Foundation to make sure donating is as simple and inclusive as possible. Currently, we accept 13 different payment methods enabling donations from nearly every country in the world, and today, we’re adding one more: bitcoin.

For those unfamiliar with bitcoin, it’s a relatively new digital currency, currently being accepted by a growing number of institutions and merchants throughout the world. Members of our community have asked the Foundation to start accepting bitcoin. These requests, coupled with recent guidance from the US Internal Revenue Service, encouraged the Foundation to once again review our capacity to accept bitcoin.

During this review, we identified a new way to work around past technical challenges, as well as to minimize the legal risks of accepting bitcoin. Through our work with Coinbase, a bitcoin wallet and payment processor, we’re able to immediately convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars, requiring minimal technical implementation on our end. Since we now also have guidance on how to account for bitcoin, there is a clear understanding of how to legally manage it.

If you are interested in donating bitcoin to the Wikimedia Foundation, you can now do so on our Ways to Give page. Thank you again to all our friends and supporters. Your support enables us to realize the Wikimedia vision – a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Lisa Gruwell
Chief Revenue Officer, Wikimedia Foundation

2014-07-30: Edited to clarify implementation details

by wikimediablog at August 06, 2014 09:48 AM

European court decision punches holes in free knowledge

A recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision is undermining the world’s ability to freely access accurate and verifiable records about individuals and events. The impact on Wikipedia is direct and critical.

In Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, the ECJ ordered Google to remove links to a 1998 newspaper announcement of a real estate auction connected to a Spanish citizen’s debt.[1] That decision represents a crude implementation of the “right to be forgotten”—the idea that people may demand to have truthful information about themselves selectively removed from the published public record, or at least made more difficult to find.

In doing so, the European court abandoned its responsibility to protect one of the most important and universal rights: the right to seek, receive, and impart information.

As a consequence, accurate search results are vanishing in Europe with no public explanation, no real proof, no judicial review, and no appeals process. The result is an internet riddled with memory holes—places where inconvenient information simply disappears.

As of today the Wikimedia Foundation has received multiple notices of intent to remove certain Wikipedia content from European search results. To date, the notices would affect more than 50 links directing readers to Wikipedia sites.

The decision does not mandate that search engines disclose link censorship. We appreciate that some companies share our commitment to transparency and are providing public notice. This disclosure is essential for understanding the ruling’s negative impacts on all available knowledge.

The WMF will stand by its commitment to build the sum of all human knowledge through the protection of all of its sources. We will be posting notices for each indefinite removal of Wikipedia search results.

Lila TretikovExecutive Director, Wikimedia Foundation

[1] The decision is here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:62012CJ0131.

by carlosmonterrey at August 06, 2014 09:30 AM

Wikipedia pages censored in European search results

Last week, the Wikimedia Foundation began receiving notices that certain links to Wikipedia content would no longer appear in search results served to people in Europe. This is the result of a recent court decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, that granted individuals the ability to request that search engines “de-index” content about them under the so-called “right to be forgotten” doctrine.[1]

Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement. The Wikimedia Foundation has made a statement opposing the scope of the judgment and its implications for free knowledge.

As of July 18, Google has received more than 91,000 removal requests involving more than 328,000 links; of these, more than 50% of the URLs processed have been removed. More than fifty of these links were to content on Wikipedia.

We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation. Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy. Since search engines are not required to provide affected sites with notice, other search engines may have removed additional links from their results without our knowledge. This lack of transparent policies and procedures is only one of the many flaws in the European decision.

As part of our commitment to transparency and our opposition to censorship, WMF has created a dedicated page where we will be posting notices about attempts to remove links to Wikimedia under this authority. The Wikimedia projects provide informational, educational, and historic value to the world. Their content should not be hidden from Internet users seeking truthful and relevant information.

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel

[1] The decision is here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:62012CJ0131.


by carlosmonterrey at August 06, 2014 09:27 AM

August 01, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikipedia Zero and Net Neutrality: Protecting the Internet as a Public Space

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment. - Wikimedia Foundation Vision Statement

In November 2012, a group of students at Sinenjongo High School in Joe Slovo Park, a poor South African township, launched a petition to South African cell phone providers to provide access to Wikipedia free of charge. The students used Wikipedia for homework and research, but the data charges were almost prohibitive. In February 2014, MTN South Africa responded, making Wikipedia free for their subscribers. This was done under the umbrella of a Wikimedia Foundation program known as Wikipedia Zero.

Wikipedia Zero launched in 2012 to bring free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones. Today, Wikipedia Zero is available to an estimated 350 million people in 29 countries; it serves more than 65 million pageviews for free, every month.

Mobile phones now connect nearly everyone in the world, and mobile access to Wikipedia is a two-way street. In Nepal, one dedicated editor has contributed more than 6,000 edits from a simple feature phone. For the first time in human history, our vision of empowering every person on the planet to share in the sum of all knowledge is within reach. Yet, like the Sinenjongo High School students, many people still cannot afford the mobile data charges for accessing the Internet. According to the ITU [PDF], as many as four billion people still do not use the Internet.

As the world has become more connected, citizens and policymakers have become more concerned with protecting the Internet as a public space. One of these policy issues that people around the world are grappling with is net neutrality, the principle of ensuring a consistent quality of service on networks.

The Wikimedia Foundation believes that the principle of net neutrality is critical to the future of the open Internet. In order for information to be available to all, Internet Service Providers must not create different classes of service for different types of content to serve their commercial interests. This is consistent with the principles upon which the Internet was founded: equal delivery of data, regardless of source.

In the context of these discussions, people sometimes raise the question of how net neutrality policies should address with the practice of waiving charges for specific sites and services, known as zero-rating. Advocates for an open and free Internet have raised important questions about how sponsored access to certain services affects innovation by favoring incumbents with the ability to pay for preferential access to users.

Net neutrality serves all Internet users – rich as poor – by providing equal access to diverse content online. We support net neutrality, and believe it is crucial for a healthy, free, and open Internet.

Wikipedia Zero is not a commercial program. Our public operating principles include:

  • No exchange of payment. The Wikimedia Foundation does not pay carriers to zero-rate access to the Wikimedia sites and does not receive payments from carriers through Wikipedia Zero.
  • Wikipedia Zero cannot be sold as part of a bundle. Access to the Wikimedia sites through Wikipedia Zero cannot be sold through limited service bundles.
  • No exclusive rights. We try to partner with as many carriers as possible to maximize the number of users that can benefit from the initiative.
  • Open to collaborating with other public interest sites. Our main goal is to promote free access to knowledge and we want to help other similar services interested in doing the same.

These principles are designed to balance the social impact of the program with Wikimedia’s other values, including our commitment to net neutrality. We will continue working with the Wikimedia community and with net neutrality advocates to evolve the program’s design, with the goal to make it possible to replicate these principles for other public interest projects in a manner fully consistent with net neutrality policy objectives.

We believe that as the world comes online, ensuring free access to important resources like Wikipedia is a social justice issue, as illustrated by the petition by South African students. We believe that free access to public interest resources can be provided in a manner that keeps the playing field level and avoids net neutrality issues. The Internet has tremendous potential to bring education and services to people for free. Beyond Wikipedia, this includes potentially life-saving access to health and emergency services or disaster relief.

Policymakers can design laws that uphold and affirm net neutrality without damaging the Internet’s ability to spread the free information it was designed to share. In the United States, the FCC’s previous Open Internet Rules, for example, simply focused on prohibiting blocking and unreasonable discrimination against content providers. Similarly, the recently adopted Marco Civil bill in Brazil does not prohibit free Internet connection as long as ISPs do not monitor, filter, or block content.

We believe that policymakers should make global communications policies that serve the public interest. It is not in the interests of the public to have an Internet with slow and fast lanes where few commercial players dominate our information society. And it is absolutely in the interests of the public to use the Internet to provide free access to education, knowledge, medical information, or other public services. We believe that these goals are entirely consistent, and we hope Wikipedia Zero can serve as a model for how to balance these interests carefully.

Indeed, we invite every mobile operator on the planet to join the cause of free sharing in the sum of human knowledge, and we invite other public interest sites and services to work with us. Email us at wikipediazero@wikimedia.org. We also encourage you to sign our petition in support of the program, inspired by the students of  Sinenjongo High School.

Erik MoellerDeputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

by carlosmonterrey at August 01, 2014 10:26 PM

Doctors and Translators Are Working Together to Bridge Wikipedia’s Medical Language Gap

This is a syndicated post from Global Voices. The original post can be found here

Subhashish Panigrahi is a volunteer contributor for Wikipedia and has worked in the past as a community and program support consultant for Wikimedia Foundation.

Internet users from around the world often turn to Wikipedia to answer questions of all kinds. The information offered there includes medical subjects, especially important in parts of the world where access to medical professionals may be limited.

However, much of this information has not yet been vetted by the community as “good article” or “featured article,” and is available only in the most oft-spoken languages.

A group of experienced Wikipedia editors and medical professionals are trying to change that with the Medicine Translation Project, an effort to improve health care-related topics in English Wikipedia and translate them into other languages, including Hindi, Chinese, Persian, Tagalog, Indonesian and Macedonian.

Recently, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grant (IEG), a microgrant supporting work on Wikipedia-related activities, granted 10,000 US dollars to the Medicine Translation Project Community Organizing project, which aims to enhance communication and coordination among the team.

Medical student and Wikipedian User:CFCF along with two advisors, Dr. James Heilman (User:Doc James) and Jake Orlowitz (User:Ocaasi) lead the group. We spoke to founder CFCF over email.

Rising Voices (RV): How did the project get started? What inspired it and how did you identify the needs it would fulfill?

Medical translation by CFCF (CC BY-SA 3.0)

CFCF: [...] The project itself started off in 2011 when Dr. James Heilman and a number of translators from Translators Without Borders: Enrique Cavalitto and Ildiko Santana teamed up in an effort to translate medical articles. Since then, the project has exploded into a larger translation forum with hundreds of translators translating articles into almost a hundred different languages.  [...]

For Wikimedia projects with a large pool of editors, we have been taking help from editors to assess what is needed, and what should be translated. On smaller projects we have simply set the goal to get anything on World Health Organization (WHO)’s list of essential medicines, as well as anything about neglected tropical diseases, also from a list by the WHO. As for these articles the project is still in an early phase, but we want to cover basically anything that might be relevant to readers, from cancer to emergency medicine.

CFCF: [...] The problem is that there are so many layers of complications in the translation process. After an article has been written and been subject to review to ensure its quality, the article needs to be prepared and proofed for translation, after which translators need to be found.  [...] Many of our translators are medical professionals and have in-depth knowledge in their native languages. On the top of it, they dedicate plenty of time on the content creation and translation. This helps to get good quality translations.

What this also means is they they seldom have any knowledge of Wiki markup or Wikipedia. Someone else who knows the language in question has to go through links, templates etc. and fix them, proofread the translated content so it is up to scratch and readable.

RV: How is the process of translation going?

CFCF: [...] The problem is that there are so many layers of complications in the translation process. After an article has been written and been subject to review to ensure its quality, the article needs to be prepared and proofed for translation, after which translators need to be found.  [...] Many of our translators are medical professionals and have in-depth knowledge in their native languages. On the top of it, they dedicate plenty of time on the content creation and translation. This helps to get good quality translations. What this also means is they they seldom have any knowledge of Wiki markup or Wikipedia. Someone else who knows the language in question has to go through links, templates etc. and fix them, proofread the translated content so it is up to scratch and readable.

RV: How do you address this?

A flow diagram illustrating the article flow process of the WP:MED journal collaboration and translation project. Flow of Article Creation by James Heilman, MD (CC BY-SA 3.0)

CFCF: To fix all this, it is best to have a local Wikipedian who can integrate the text. Most of the work has already been done. But, getting these things right is very crucial, especially on Wikipedias with vast content, where there already is a lot of content to link in.

I think the resistance we met early in the project’s life was not against translation of content. But, because we did not spend enough time getting the translated articles up to shape before sending them live on the target Wikipedia.

What we saw on the Polish Wikipedia was that much of the issues were down to how they used different templates, and after I commissioned a bot to fix this, the articles started going live very quickly. After this, more and more editors became interested in helping out [...]

RV: Are you in conversation with the Wikipedia Zero team — a mobile data project focused on Wikipedia access in the developing world — about popularising this with their partners in the developing nations? 

CFCF: Currently we are not in touch with the Wikipedia Zero team specifically, even though our works target the same communities. The difference between us and them is that we target developed countries as well as countries where there barely is any mobile connectivity at all, such as Burma where I do not know if we will be seeing Wikipedia Zero in the foreseeable future [...]

RV: What are your plans to engage with the larger Wikimedia communities that are multilingual and totally diverse? 

CFCF: We aim to get high quality content in as many languages as we can. It is difficult to translate such deeply technical content, so we are really looking for professional translators, or individuals with some form of medical background so that information loss and corruption of content in translation is minimal.We recruit translators either off-wiki, or on the medical WikiProjects. We are still looking for translators who feel they are comfortable with such topics, and we especially need them in smaller languages. We are also searching them at Babylon on Meta Wiki.

WikiProject Med Foundation was the first attempt to get a truly global organization of medical Wikipedia editors. Most medical professionals are fluent in English, and we really try to engage in discussion in other languages when we can, so I think there is a real benefit in creating a global community for medical editors.

We are not large enough yet that we have all the relevant people on English Wikipedia, and we will probably never be because there are always specialists in other countries with very specific knowledge that we can leverage. That makes international collaboration really great.

As for the local language integrators, the idea is to have editors who are willing help out and be an intermediary between that community and our translator community. We have a page where all our finished translations are added. An integrator would patrol that page on a regular basis, inform the respective language Wikipedia that the new translation is ready. The language Wikipedia’s reader community share feedback on the translation quality and suggest for improvement. For us, it is really easy to just add articles without going through them thoroughly. But, that would not work at all. For things to work, we need someone who both knows Wiki markup and the target language so that the integration can go smoothly.

To stay up to date, follow the project’s grant page.

by wikimediablog at August 01, 2014 04:20 PM

Victory for Free and Neutral Knowledge

“Victory” statue at Union Square in San Francisco

This week, the Wikimedia Foundation successfully obtained orders preventing four websites advertising a service of paid editing of articles on Wikipedia from abusing the “Wikipedia” trademark. Undisclosed paid editing has been a hot topic in our movement for the last few years, prompting much community discussion.[1] Over time, we had watched as a cottage industry started to develop around the issue, offering services to individuals or companies that sought positive–but not always neutral point of view (NPOV)–review of their profiles, products, and services. The issue had become public enough that, earlier this year, the Huffington Post published a blog post by a ‘public relations professional’ referring to Wikipedia as “a powerful marketing tool,” and describing how to employ a third party editor in order to hide one’s affiliations and avoid scrutiny by the Wikimedia community.

Undisclosed advocacy editing is against the values that underpin the Wikimedia projects. In 2013, Sue Gardner, then-Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, published a statement clarifying that ‘paid advocacy editing’–a term used on English Wikipedia to describe edits that are paid to promote a specific viewpoint–is a “black hat” practice. In the period after this statement the Wikimedia Foundation embarked on a two-month long community consultation on undisclosed paid editing, and an update to the Foundation’s Terms of Use. The consultation resulted in 320,000 words of discussion in various languages, with 6.3 million views of the proposal. The discussion was supportive of the change, and in June of this year, the Foundation amended our Terms of Use to strengthen the prohibition against concealing paid editing on all Wikimedia projects. According to the amendment, if you are paid to edit, you must disclose your paid editing to the community.

Last year, the Wikimedia Foundation discovered a series of websites with a nearly identical layout, all using “Wikipedia” in their titles and domain names: wikipediapagecreators.com (archived), getawikipedia.com (archived), getonwikipedia.com (archived), and onwikipedia.com. Each of these related sites were part of the industry that had begun to develop around paid advocacy editing. The sites offered to create pages on Wikipedia, starting at $799 per article, to “enhance [the] overall business reputation” of their clients. The websites exploited marks that represent Wikipedia, such as the “puzzle globe” and the “W” icon.

This exploitation allowed the Foundation to enforce the Wikimedia trademarks, counteracting the sites’ business practices. We contacted the owner of these websites and asked that they cease using the “Wikipedia” trademark to promote their businesses. After months without change to the websites, and no response to our messages, we filed UDRP complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The complaints explained that the registrant of the domain names was violating Wikimedia’s trademark rights.

In two administrative panel decisions, WIPO found that the domain names in question were confusingly similar to the “Wikipedia” trademark, that the registrant had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names, and that the registrant was using the domain names in bad faith. The panels ordered that all the disputed domain names be transferred to the Wikimedia Foundation. You can read a summary of the decisions here and here.

These decisions are a victory for the integrity of the name “Wikipedia”, which symbolizes the reputation and goodwill created by the hard work of thousands of independent editors and content providers. The Wikimedia Foundation registered “Wikipedia” as a trademark in order to ensure its use is consistent with our mission. Trademark protection allows us to prevent abuse of the “Wikipedia” marks by those trying to take advantage of the value the community has imbued in those iconic representations.

Yana Welinder
Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation*

*Many thanks to Doug Isenberg at GigaLaw Firm who represented the Wikimedia Foundation in the UDRP proceedings. Special thanks also goes to Wikimedia Legal Interns Jorge Vargas and Chuck Roslof, who assisted with this blog post and this matter.

  1.  For example, see Requests for Comments from 2009 and 2013.


by wikimediablog at August 01, 2014 08:11 AM

July 31, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Official Wikipedia app revamped and now available on iOS and Android

A screenshot of the iOS app.

We’re pleased to announce that, following the successful launch of the revamped Android app in June, today we’ve released the revamped Wikipedia iOS app. Our new official apps are now live on both iOS and Android!

Quick access to information is important for our mobile users, and we want to give people the fastest way to access Wikipedia while on the go. A lot of the improvements are under the hood — the app was written from the ground up in native code, with speed in mind. We’ve paid attention to important details such as how quickly the app starts, how fast pages and images load, and how quickly search results are returned. The result is a snappy experience getting Wikipedia readers to the content they’re looking for faster than ever before.

We’ve also redesigned the app. The new app has a clean, distraction-free reading experience placing Wikipedia content at the center. Whether looking up a specific fact or looking to spend a day learning about a new topic, the search and table of contents features allow users to get to the information quickly and intuitively. For those who love diving into Wikipedia, we have features such as recent history, so readers can always return to previously read articles, as well as an offline reading feature to access Wikipedia even without an internet connection.

Finally, we’ve added the ability to edit Wikipedia through the app! Now Wikipedia articles can be improved on the go.  When people are visiting a new city, information about the local cuisine or updates to the descriptions of cool landmarks can be quickly added.

And as always, Wikipedia is free of charge and free of ads.

What features are included?

  • Speed – Our new native app allows users to browse and edit Wikipedia faster than ever before on mobile devices.
  • Editing – You can edit Wikipedia on the app! Logged in or logged out, we thank everyone for their contributions to the sum of human knowledge.
  • Recent pages – We provide readers with a reading history, tap as many links as you like without ever getting lost.
  • Saved pages – Save select pages for offline reading and browse them on a plane trip, on the road, or anywhere without an Internet connection.
  • Language support – The app allows seamless transition to reading Wikipedia written in another language.
  • Wikipedia Zero – We’ve partnered with mobile network operators around the world to provide Wikipedia free of data charges to users in many developing and emerging economies.

This first release is just the beginning! We’re still working hard on creating new features to make the app the best Wikipedia reading and editing experience out there. Give the app a spin and let us know what you think by emailing us at mobile-android-wikipedia@wikimedia.org and mobile-ios-wikipedia@wikimedia.org.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Dan Garry

Associate Product Manager, Mobile Apps

Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 10:45 PM

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

We’re fortunate that millions of people all over the world support the work of the Wikimedia Foundation through donations. It has always been important to the Foundation to make sure donating is as simple and inclusive as possible. Currently, we accept 13 different payment methods enabling donations from nearly every country in the world, and today, we’re adding one more: bitcoin.

For those unfamiliar with bitcoin, it’s a relatively new digital currency, currently being accepted by a growing number of institutions and merchants throughout the world. Members of our community have asked the Foundation to start accepting bitcoin. These requests, coupled with recent guidance from the US Internal Revenue Service, encouraged the Foundation to once again review our capacity to accept bitcoin.

During this review, we identified a new way to work around past technical challenges, as well as to minimize the legal risks of accepting bitcoin. Through our work with Coinbase, a bitcoin wallet and payment processor, we’re able to immediately convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars, requiring minimal technical implementation on our end. Since we now also have guidance on how to account for bitcoin, there is a clear understanding of how to legally manage it.

If you are interested in donating bitcoin to the Wikimedia Foundation, you can now do so on our Ways to Give page. Thank you again to all our friends and supporters. Your support enables us to realize the Wikimedia vision – a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

Lisa Gruwell
Chief Revenue Officer, Wikimedia Foundation

2014-07-30: Edited to clarify implementation details

by Lisa Gruwell at July 31, 2014 08:57 PM

Official Wikipedia app revamped and now available on iOS and Android

A screenshot of the iOS app.

We’re pleased to announce that, following the successful launch of the revamped Android app in June, today we’ve released the revamped Wikipedia iOS app. Our new official apps are now live on both iOS and Android!

Quick access to information is important for our mobile users, and we want to give people the fastest way to access Wikipedia while on the go. A lot of the improvements are under the hood — the app was written from the ground up in native code, with speed in mind. We’ve paid attention to important details such as how quickly the app starts, how fast pages and images load, and how quickly search results are returned. The result is a snappy experience getting Wikipedia readers to the content they’re looking for faster than ever before.

We’ve also redesigned the app. The new app has a clean, distraction-free reading experience placing Wikipedia content at the center. Whether looking up a specific fact or looking to spend a day learning about a new topic, the search and table of contents features allow users to get to the information quickly and intuitively. For those who love diving into Wikipedia, we have features such as recent history, so readers can always return to previously read articles, as well as an offline reading feature to access Wikipedia even without an internet connection.

Finally, we’ve added the ability to edit Wikipedia through the app! Now Wikipedia articles can be improved on the go.  When people are visiting a new city, information about the local cuisine or updates to the descriptions of cool landmarks can be quickly added.

And as always, Wikipedia is free of charge and free of ads.

What features are included?

  • Speed – Our new native app allows users to browse and edit Wikipedia faster than ever before on mobile devices.
  • Editing – You can edit Wikipedia on the app! Logged in or logged out, we thank everyone for their contributions to the sum of human knowledge.
  • Recent pages – We provide readers with a reading history, tap as many links as you like without ever getting lost.
  • Saved pages – Save select pages for offline reading and browse them on a plane trip, on the road, or anywhere without an Internet connection.
  • Language support – The app allows seamless transition to reading Wikipedia written in another language.
  • Wikipedia Zero – We’ve partnered with mobile network operators around the world to provide Wikipedia free of data charges to users in many developing and emerging economies.

This first release is just the beginning! We’re still working hard on creating new features to make the app the best Wikipedia reading and editing experience out there. Give the app a spin and let us know what you think by emailing us at mobile-android-wikipedia@wikimedia.org and mobile-ios-wikipedia@wikimedia.org.

Thank you, and enjoy!

Dan Garry

Associate Product Manager, Mobile Apps

Wikimedia Foundation

by Dan Garry at July 31, 2014 08:56 PM

The First ever Creative Commons event in Telugu: Ten Telugu Books Re-released Under CC

Event flyer, User:రహ్మానుద్దీన్, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Telugu is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India (Bhārat Gaṇarājya) and is the official language of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Union Territory district of Yanam. In India alone Telugu is spoken by 100 million people and is estimated to have 180 million speakers around the world. The government of India declared Telugu a Classical language in 2008.

Telugu Wikipedia has been in existence for more than 10 years and has 57,000 articles. Telugu Wikisource is one of the sister projects that has more than 9,400 pages. Several Telugu books are being typed and proofread using Proofread extension. Since Telugu is one of the complex Indic scripts, computing in Telugu came much later. Many books that were published (or are being published) are not in Unicode. Telugu Wikisource has now emerged as the largest searchable online book repository in Telugu. Telugu Wikisourcerers, despite being a small community, did a great job of digitizing many prominent Telugu literary works. Attempts have been made to convince contemporary writers to re-release their books in CC-BY-SA 3.0 license. Such an effort was made a year ago by bringing in a translation of the Quran in Telugu. Recently, 10 Telugu books by a single author were re-released under the Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA 3.0) on June 22, 2014 at The Golden Threshold, an off-campus annex of the University of HyderabadCIS-A2K played an instrumental role in getting this content donated. This is one of the first instances in an Indian languages where a single author re-released such a large collection of books under the CC license. These books are being uploaded on Telugu Wikisource using Unicode converters.

Audience at the event.

Telugu Wikimedians in collaboration with CIS-A2K came together to celebrate this first Creative Commons event in Telugu. The event was attended by about 100 people from various walks of life. The patron of Indu Gnaana Vedika, Sri Sri Sri Prabodhananda Yogeeswarulu, presided over as chief guest and N Rahamthulla, long time Wikipedian and senior bureaucrat was the guest of honor. Prabodhananda emphasized the importance of the availability of knowledge in ones native tongue and how knowledge should not be confined to books alone. Telugu Wikisource, he said, would not only ensure a wider audience for the books, but also enable the language to survive in the digital era. A video interview of the guest of honor, Rahamthulla was played, where he spoke about the creation of new technical terms in ones native language and how Telugu is being used as an administrative language in his office.

One participant sought clarification on Creative Commons licensing and Wikisource at the event.

Rahamthulla also shared his experience using Telugu in the office and suggested that the Government should enact measures to support wider use of Telugu in official correspondence. This was followed by Veeven’s talk on “End-User’s perspective of free licenses,” where he spoke about the importance of open content, free software and free licenses. Speaking about the importance of creative commons licenses in the context of Indian languages on Internet, Vishnu Vardhan pointed to the enormous amount of content available in Indian languages which is increasingly inaccessible as most of it is published under copyright and in non-Unicode formats. He noted that many authors writing in Indian languages are keen on their work reaching as many people as possible and are not interested in making profits. In fact, many of the writers who publish their works incur losses, but they are nonetheless passionate about publishing their works despite the losses. However, these writers choose copyright as a default and do not realize that they are curtailing the wider circulation of their books. Awareness about Creative Commons in Indian languages is very essential. Vishnu Vardhan went onto state how CIS-A2K is leaving no stone unturned when bringing awareness on this topic.

Wikipedians and Wikisourcerers were presented physical copies of the books that are released under CC.

There was a vibrant discussion regarding Creative Commons during the open session. Participants wanted to know the difference between copyright and Creative Commons. Some asked why there is a need to re-release content under CC license if the books could be made available on a website. Some were worried if they release it under CC license they will be deprived from publishing their books as anyone can now use them. All these apprehensions were answered by long-time Telugu Wikimedian Veeven and the Program Director of CIS-A2K, T. Vishnu Vardhan. A Wikisource demonstration by Rahmanuddin Shaik was shown followed by Q&A session.

The event inspired some of the participants to come forward and donate their books under the CC license. We may soon expect another 50 books to enrich Telugu Wikisource after being released under appropriate CC license.

by Rahmanuddin Shaik and Veeven

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 06:30 PM

Wikimedians in Residence: a journey of discovery

GLAM-WIKI 2013 attendees

A bit of background

In April of 2014 I found myself digging deep into analytics in search of possible improvements and insight into what we do as a chapter. What brought me there? One of our most renowned programs, Wikimedians in Residence. A Wikimedian in Residence (WIR) is a person who, as a Wikimedia contributor, accepts a placement within an institution to facilitate open knowledge in a close working relationship between the Wikimedia movement and the institution. They work to facilitate content improvements on Wikimedia projects, but more importantly serve as ambassadors for open knowledge within the host organization.

Wikimedia UK has been involved with WiR in the UK with varying degrees of support and supervision. Since the creation of the chapter, we always felt that the program was worth running, seeing it as one of the key ways we can engage with external organizations. However, I never knew for sure, if that was just a feeling. Toward the end of 2013 we decided to explore these notions.

Why and how to evaluate

As I focused on my questions about program impact, I embarked on a review process of the program, which eventually included: a questionnaire for all the key parties, online surveys, meetings, group discussions, the analysis of existing materials (e.g. residents’ reports) and creation of a review document.

In January of this year I planned to survey the Residents and host institutions about their views on the program. Since I wasn’t sure what to ask, I reached out to the Program Evaluation and Design team for help.

Their stringent approach was worth it. We boiled down the issues around what I actually wanted to find out from the survey. Doing that before creating the questions was a revelation to me. The questionnaire went much deeper than I had originally anticipated. This meant that when we worked on creating the survey questions, every point was there for a specific reason and in a sensible order. With their help, I developed three surveys: for residents, residency hosts  and another for community member input.

I was impressed with the amount of feedback that was shared. The Residents were clearly committed to the project and keen on telling me what could make the program more successful. At the same time I ran interviews with the host institutions. By that stage I was deeply entrenched in the review process. Discovering more about the program increased my appetite for a deeper analysis. This culminated in an April brainstorming meeting aimed at completing an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) of our Wikipedian in Residence program.

With the data collection completed, I then examined all the reports and case studies produced by the residents and summarized them in terms of the impact made to Wikimedia projects. (Click here to read Overview of the residencies.)

Lessons learned

After running the program for a long time, one may assume they know everything about it. I was surprised to hear from many Residents that it often took them a couple of months to fully understand what their role within the host organization was. I had assumed that they would have connected with one another to share the resources they created without my help, but this was not the case.

Before doing this research, I did not appreciate how important it is to have a ‘team’ within the institution working with the residents. Having a line manager and/or senior staff support seemed to be one of the main reasons some residencies were more successful than others.

With the data pulled from the report, the program evaluation and design team helped in the elaboration of an infograph (see below). This resource seeks to showcase the numbers behind the program. How do the efforts of the wikimedians in residence impact the Wikimedia projects? Overall, Wikimedia UK invested only 30% of the total cost to fund in-house residents over the course of their term. Each residency is singular, with variations from one to the next, however they also have many points in common. Take a look and follow the colors to single out residencies. The graphics are not exact but an approximation, due to gaps in reporting. If you would like to add more data to these graphics, please email eval@wikimedia.org.

Looking Ahead: An improved WiR program

The aim of the review was to assess the program, focusing on the feedback of successful models for the residencies and analyzing key obstacles to greater success. Six months later, with some volunteer support, I finished a review report. (Click here to read the summary). What I appreciated most about this project was how I was able to analyze an existing program and see how it could run better, rather than stopping it and trying something completely new. Innovation is usually expected to arise from brand new initiatives, but I found it motivating and useful to find novelty looking deep into WiR.

The areas for improvement we have identified are:

  • Duration of residencies – residencies should be longer to ensure impact (e.g. 9-12 months for larger organizations)
  • Project goals – should be clearer for each residency to improve assessing impact. They should be reflected on the job description. Better reporting should follow.
  • Sharing of information – set up a forum for the sharing of advice, information and best practice between institutions and between residents.
  • Supporting the program – additional capacity is needed for supporting the residents and the program. This will be considered in the future.


  • Watch the video of the Survey Strategies virtual meet-up, where I share reflections and commentary on the process and what I learnt from the survey process on a recorded hangout:

Daria Cybulska, Wikimedia UK

Wikimedians in Residence – Report May 2014

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 06:23 PM

Africa’s first Regional Conference gathers Wikimedians in Johannesburg

Wiki Indaba 2014

Group photo

Conference memorabilia

This past June, Wikimedia South Africa hosted more than 35 Wikimedians in Johannesburg for the first ever Wiki Indaba Regional Conference. All four regions of Africa were represented by at least one country, with West Africa having the lion’s share. For three days we talked about the challenges and possible solutions for initiating Wikipedia editing communities in the continent, in an effort to fulfill our vision of sharing the sum of all human knowledge with the world.

We left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose and a united goal to create Wikipedia editing communities in our respective countries through clear communication channels and co-operation plans, even though we were well reminded that we don’t have a magic wand to accomplish this overnight.

The first day was spent listening to delegates recounting community efforts in their home countries, the unique challenges they face as well as their future plans. We learned how group dynamics and diversity helped Tunisia acquire their status as a newly recognized African user group. From Egypt we heard about how universities are responding to Wikipedia. From Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon we learned of local efforts from WiR at the Africa Centre and how they are linking up with local academic and art institutions to expose the public to Wikipedia. We learned of grass root efforts in Ghana and Nigeria where they’ve actively reached out to schools and the general public. We heard how difficult it is to arrange events without the approval of local authorities. From Cameroon we learned how Wiki Loves Monuments improved acceptance of Wikipedia. From Ethiopia we learned about the dangers faced by bloggers and how Wikipedia is often mistaken for Wikileaks. We learned how some Wikipedians have actually been incarcerated for blogging. Representatives from Malawi and Tanzania discussed how Wikipedians are fusing their entrepreneurial skills with open knowledge. From Kenya we learned of efforts to regroup and pursue chapter status. We learned of the efforts of university students to build a community in Botswana. Namibia highlighted its renewed effort to experiment on oral citations as a way to create acceptance of local and indigenous knowledge through Wikipedia. We explored the efforts made in South Africa, which still is the only chapter in the continent. At the end of the day, we reviewed statistics of African language Wikipedias and gathered as many insights as possible. The day was completed with a presentation on the Wikimedia Foundation’s global south strategy and how it is poised to assist communities throughout the continent.

After a refreshing social event in the heart of Johannesburg, we were back for day 2 and onto business. Delegates got a chance to interact with the Wikimedia Foundation Grants team (Anasuya and Asaf) and ask them questions regarding available funding opportunities to enable them to run outreach events in their countries. Many misconceptions were dispelled and delegates gained confidence in planning future projects with the assurance that funding and support will be available when they need them. The Wikipedia Zero presentation (by Adele) was awe-inspiring and instilled a sense of excitement when delegates learned about recent developments in their own countries. A deeper understanding of the technology and its potential impact in the continent was shared with delegates. The afternoon session was divided into two tracks running concurrently, where insights on exceptional local projects in education and copyright issues were discussed. We listened on how mission-aligned thematic organizations can complement local community efforts in increasing Wikipedia’s reach and understanding. The day was capped by a social event hosted by Creative Commons ZA, where a movie on copyright highlighted issues brought to light by entities like The Pirate Bay and the European lawsuit against their peer-to-peer online content sharing.

WMF Grants Team

The third and final day of the conference saw exhausted delegates wrap up with local success stories such as Omaheke, Namibia’s outreach and research sandbox. Wikipedia Primary Education, Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt, The Siyavula Open Education portal in South Africa as well as Mesh Sayada, a free community network for open data and free culture in Tunisia were all showcased. An evaluation of Wiki Loves Monuments successes in South Africa was discussed. The session culminated with the announcement from the project Wiki Loves Africa, which will be a photographic competition modeled after the Wiki Loves Monuments concept.

At the close of the conference, delegates were requested to write down personal pledges on how they plan to continue and increase their efforts to build editing communities in their countries. These were documented and will be sent back to delegates to remind them of their personal pledges. Delegates also deliberated on the best ways to stay connected as a group through discussions on Meta-wiki, in social networks as well as the creation of an African mailing list.

Wikipedia Zero Presentation

As captured by the program director in his closing statements, there are no expectations that this conference will magically result in super active editing communities in Africa, however there is now hope that an organized group of dedicated volunteers will work together to spark the much needed Wikipedia editing communities in the continent – one step at a time.

(Watch videos from the conference participants on Youtube here. Complete conference documentation is available on Meta-wiki and more pictures of the conference can be seen on Commons. Many thanks to our wonderful hosts at Wikimedia South Africa in Johannesburg for a well-organized event and to all participants for sharing their knowledge and experiences at this conference. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming months).

Dumisani Ndubane, Project lead, Wikimedia ZA

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 06:20 PM

A look back at Wikimania 2013

File:Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong.webm

This is a short documentary about Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong. You can also view it on YouTube.com here and Vimeo.com here. A version without burned-in English language subtitles is available on Wikimedia Commons here.

Wikimania is the annual global gathering of Wikimedians. To me, it feels like the United Nations moved to Github. It feels like the future of civilization. You get to meet people who have become empowered by human-computer symbiosis. Like any convention or meetup, Wikimania is also an ode to serendipity – there’s no accurate way to predict or measure what the dynamics or the outcomes of it will be.

Interviewing at Wikimania in 2013

Last year, I went to Wikimania in Hong Kong to shoot a documentary about the annual convention (film above). A little background – in 2012, my team and I interviewed as many people on camera as we could at Wikimania in Washington D.C., because Wikimania is where you can find the highest diversity and concentration of Wikimedians in the same place at the same time, anywhere in the world. I’d say that maybe half of the people we talked to we hadn’t known before Wikimania. For that project, I decided to remove the convention from the story and focus exclusively on Wikimedians themselves and their personal testimonies. So, when I went to Wikimania in Hong Kong in 2013, I set out to do the opposite and shoot a short documentary that makes the convention itself the main character of the movie. I had a question in my head – if all these people can collaborate online, then why do they need to collaborate face-to-face? I wanted to make something that suggests an answer to that question that would also let you feel like you are an attendee at the conference.

The film above is just under thirty minutes long. I wanted to talk about topics like language and culture, copyright, Wikipedia in education, Wikipedia offline, the Visual Editor, Wikimedia Grants, Wikipedia Zero, demonstrate what a hackathon is, and basically show things that I thought were important to talk about; things you should know that you can learn from being at Wikimania. I couldn’t talk about everything of course, and I had to cut some stuff out. One interview that stands out to me that didn’t make the cut was a conversation with Christoph Zimmermann about the Public Domain Project in Switzerland. Their goal is to make an encyclopedia of music that exists in the public domain. They accept any turntable records that are old enough to be in the public domain in Switzerland and scan the records with a super expensive laser turntable and archive that recording on their wiki for public use.

My thanks to everyone who let me interview them for this film.

Wikimania 2014 in London is just around the corner. It will be the tenth Wikimania. If you’ve never attended Wikimania, and have the opportunity to, you should. It’s always exciting. I’ll be there this August looking for fresh faces to talk to. You can sign up for Wikimania here, and if you have ideas for things to do you can post them here. And if you can’t make it to Wikimania 2014, you can watch the movie above and get a sense of what Wikimania is all about.

Victor Grigas
Storyteller and Video Producer, Wikimedia Foundation

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 06:18 PM

Expanding local history with The Wikipedia Library

Find out more about The Wikipedia Library!

If you are an editor on the English Wikipedia, you might have noticed the recent uptick in announcements for accounts offered by The Wikipedia Library! The Wikipedia Library gives active, experienced Wikipedia editors free access to a wide range of paywalled databases – reliable sources that are vital for their work (see also: “The Wikipedia Library Strives for Open Access“). We have been having a lot of success meeting the goals of our Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Established partnerships, like that with JSTOR, are expanding, getting Wikipedia editors more access to high quality research materials! Moreover, because of those successes, we are having many fruitful discussions with organizations large and small that are interested in helping Wikipedians create public knowledge and link Wikipedia in to the larger network of scholarly source materials.

We surveyed Wikipedia users interested in the Wikipedia Library about which sources would be best for us to get access to, and one from that list, British Newspaper Archive, has been a very active recent success. It started with 50 accounts and has since expanded to 100 because of the enthusiasm in the initial sign-up period. An archive of high-quality scans of newspapers from the collection of the British Library, it provides a great source of reference materials for Wikipedia articles about 18th, 19th, and early 20th century Britain and its global interests. Even though the accounts have only been available for a couple of weeks, Wikipedians have been successfully using them to create new and expand old articles about historical topics, both about local history and topics of national British interest. These range from articles about geographical features (Swithland Reservoir) to sports (1884 FA Cup Final and Jack Kid Berg), coal mines (Pendleton Colliery) to politicians (Sewallis Shirley).

User:Sitush’s experience

As part of our partnership with the British Newspaper Archive, they have offered us an opportunity to talk about improving Wikipedia on their blog, highlighting the success of the account donation. More importantly though, it enables us to communicate to their social media audience – researchers investigating historical topics through old newspapers – how Wikipedians motivated by similar interests are able to use that research to provide knowledge to our vast audience. Here is what one of our Wikipedia editors who got access through this partnership, User:Sitush, shared on their blog about his new account:

I have a degree from Cambridge in History, and Wikipedia has always been a way for me to explore my interest in Indian and local history. When I got BNA access through the Wikipedia Library, I saw it as an opportunity to explore a local history mystery raised by several people who had been apprentices with the engineering firm of Sir James Farmer Norton & Co Ltd at Adelphi Ironworks in Salford. They often speak with some pride and affection of their time there and of the products that the company manufactured. Those products were sold worldwide, many are still being used and resold now, and some were truly innovative, such as a fast printing press.
None of these people, however, could really tell me anything about Sir James Farmer (the Norton bit of the name came later, when another family became involved in the business). They only knew that he was once mayor of Salford. Although the company did produce a celebratory booklet for an anniversary, there really doesn’t seem to have been much effort made by way of tipping the hat to the man who started it all. Yet, because of the impact on my friends and our community, I suspected him to be one of the more notable of the many self-made – often world-changing – engineering men who inhabited Manchester, Salford and the surrounding areas in the 19th century. He needed a Wikipedia article!
Wikipedia’s model for article development supports the “from little acorns …” approach. So, if I could start an article about Farmer then perhaps at some time in the future someone might find more information and add to it. But Wikipedia also has limitations, meaning that I couldn’t use primary source material available at a couple of archives and, really, there wasn’t much else that I could find without some extensive trawling through microfilms. Inaccessible verifiable information usually means no article – it is meant to be an encyclopaedia, after all, and thus there needs to be some type of public and reliably documented conversation to show that it is of interest to the public (we on Wikipedia call this public interest “notability”).
Enter the BNA! Forget spending days, probably weeks, twiddling at a film reader. I could could get access to the most important information about Farmer with one simple search. In the space of a couple of hours, most of which was spent being pleasantly distracted by other news articles surrounding the ones about Farmer, I’d gathered enough material to justify an article, to plant that acorn. The man is now recognised on a major educational project that gets millions of viewers and, although it’s not the best thing I’ve ever written for Wikipedia, the hat has been tipped. Hopefully, given time, much more can be said about him and his company.

User:Sitush’s new article based on research done with the British Newspaper Archive is titled “James Farmer (knight)” and can be found on English Wikipedia.

Get Wikipedia Library access!

We would love to see more Wikipedians like Sitush get access to these resources that publishers are donating. If you are interested in getting access to the British Newspaper Archive for improving Wikipedia, sign up at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:BNA . If you would like access to one of our other resources or want to suggest a publisher to reach out to, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:TWL/Journals . We hope to continue harnessing the resources of libraries and publishers to strengthen the reference materials on Wikipedia!

Alex Stinson (User:Sadads), Project Manager, The Wikipedia Library

2014-07-23: Edited to add a link to britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

by wikimediablog at July 31, 2014 08:58 AM

Victory for Free and Neutral Knowledge

“Victory” statue at Union Square in San Francisco

This week, the Wikimedia Foundation successfully obtained orders preventing four websites advertising a service of paid editing of articles on Wikipedia from abusing the “Wikipedia” trademark. Undisclosed paid editing has been a hot topic in our movement for the last few years, prompting much community discussion.[1] Over time, we had watched as a cottage industry started to develop around the issue, offering services to individuals or companies that sought positive–but not always neutral point of view (NPOV)–review of their profiles, products, and services. The issue had become public enough that, earlier this year, the Huffington Post published a blog post by a ‘public relations professional’ referring to Wikipedia as “a powerful marketing tool,” and describing how to employ a third party editor in order to hide one’s affiliations and avoid scrutiny by the Wikimedia community.

Undisclosed advocacy editing is against the values that underpin the Wikimedia projects. In 2013, Sue Gardner, then-Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, published a statement clarifying that ‘paid advocacy editing’–a term used on English Wikipedia to describe edits that are paid to promote a specific viewpoint–is a “black hat” practice. In the period after this statement the Wikimedia Foundation embarked on a two-month long community consultation on undisclosed paid editing, and an update to the Foundation’s Terms of Use. The consultation resulted in 320,000 words of discussion in various languages, with 6.3 million views of the proposal. The discussion was supportive of the change, and in June of this year, the Foundation amended our Terms of Use to strengthen the prohibition against concealing paid editing on all Wikimedia projects. According to the amendment, if you are paid to edit, you must disclose your paid editing to the community.

Last year, the Wikimedia Foundation discovered a series of websites with a nearly identical layout, all using “Wikipedia” in their titles and domain names: wikipediapagecreators.com (archived), getawikipedia.com (archived), getonwikipedia.com (archived), and onwikipedia.com. Each of these related sites were part of the industry that had begun to develop around paid advocacy editing. The sites offered to create pages on Wikipedia, starting at $799 per article, to “enhance [the] overall business reputation” of their clients. The websites exploited marks that represent Wikipedia, such as the “puzzle globe” and the “W” icon.

This exploitation allowed the Foundation to enforce the Wikimedia trademarks, counteracting the sites’ business practices. We contacted the owner of these websites and asked that they cease using the “Wikipedia” trademark to promote their businesses. After months without change to the websites, and no response to our messages, we filed UDRP complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The complaints explained that the registrant of the domain names was violating Wikimedia’s trademark rights.

In two administrative panel decisions, WIPO found that the domain names in question were confusingly similar to the “Wikipedia” trademark, that the registrant had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names, and that the registrant was using the domain names in bad faith. The panels ordered that all the disputed domain names be transferred to the Wikimedia Foundation. You can read a summary of the decisions here and here.

These decisions are a victory for the integrity of the name “Wikipedia”, which symbolizes the reputation and goodwill created by the hard work of thousands of independent editors and content providers. The Wikimedia Foundation registered “Wikipedia” as a trademark in order to ensure its use is consistent with our mission. Trademark protection allows us to prevent abuse of the “Wikipedia” marks by those trying to take advantage of the value the community has imbued in those iconic representations.

Yana Welinder
Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation*

*Many thanks to Doug Isenberg at GigaLaw Firm who represented the Wikimedia Foundation in the UDRP proceedings. Special thanks also goes to Wikimedia Legal Interns Jorge Vargas and Chuck Roslof, who assisted with this blog post and this matter.

  1.  For example, see Requests for Comments from 2009 and 2013.


by Yana Welinder at July 31, 2014 08:00 AM

July 26, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Victory in Italy: Court rules Wikipedia “a service based on the freedom of the users”

This post is available in 2 languages:
English Italiano


Update: We received notification on 23 July 2014 that the same court has rejected the Angeluccis’ claims against Wikimedia Italia and has awarded the chapter €17,000 in expenses. The court further ruled that Wikimedia Italia has no corporate relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation, nor does it own or manage the Wikimedia sites. We congratulate Wikimedia Italia on this well-earned victory.

Last week, the Wikimedia community obtained a resounding victory in Italian court. For more than four years, the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Italia [1] had been involved in a lawsuit initiated by Italian politician Antonio Angelucci and his son, Giampaolo. The Angeluccis were seeking €20,000,000 from the Wikimedia Foundation over allegedly defamatory statements appearing on two Italian-language Wikipedia pages.

The Roman Civil Tribunal handed down its ruling [in Italian] on 9 July, 2014 with respect to the Wikimedia Foundation, dismissing the lawsuit and declaring that the Foundation is not legally responsible for content that users freely upload onto the Wikimedia projects. The victory, however, runs deeper than the case at hand. The judgment is the first full consideration of Wikimedia’s standing in Italy,[2] and the ruling itself paves the way for more robust free speech protections on the Internet under Italian law.

The Angeluccis argued that the Wikipedia pages for Antonio Angelucci and for the Italian-language newspaper Il Riformista contained false statements that supposedly harmed their reputations according to their claims. Generally, the European Union’s E-Commerce Directive limits the liability of hosting providers for content that users upload; however, the Angeluccis asserted that Wikimedia Foundation’s activities were more akin to a content provider and that no exemption of liability according to the Directive would apply or at least Wikipedia should be deemed as an “online journal” and thus the Foundation should be liable under the stricter standards that apply to the Italian press.

The Italian court rejected this argument, stating that while the Directive does not directly apply to the Wikimedia Foundation as a non-EU-based organization, the basic principles of the Directive apply. In compliance with such principles, Wikimedia must be recognized to be a hosting provider, as opposed to a content provider, and thus it can be liable for user generated content only if it gets explicit notice of illicit information by the competent authority and fails to remove it.

The court stated that Wikipedia “offers a service which is based on the freedom of the users to draft the various pages of the encyclopedia; it is such freedom that excludes any [obligation to guarantee the absence of offensive content on its sites] and which finds its balance in the possibility for anybody to modify contents and ask for their removal.” The court went on to state that the Foundation was very clear in its disclaimers about its neutral role in the creation and maintenance of content, further noting that anyone, even the Angeluccis themselves, could have modified the articles in question.

Lively discussions and even disagreements about content are a natural outgrowth of creating the world’s largest free encyclopedia. However, the vast majority of these editorial debates can be and are resolved every day through processes established and run by dedicated members of the Wikimedia community. We strongly encourage those who have concerns about content on the Wikimedia projects to explore these community procedures rather than resorting to litigation.

Attempts to impose liability upon neutral hosting platforms — our modern day public forums — threaten the very existence of those platforms, and stifle innovation and free speech along the way. When the need arises, the Wikimedia Foundation will not hesitate to defend the world’s largest repository of human knowledge against those who challenge the Wikimedia community’s right to speak, create, and share freely.[3]

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel

Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

The Wikimedia Foundation would like to express its immense appreciation towards the incredibly talented attorneys at Hogan Lovells, who represented the Foundation in this matter, particularly Marco Berliri, Marta Staccioli, and Massimiliano Masnada. Special thanks also goes to Joseph Jung (Legal Intern), who assisted with this blog post.

Note: While this decision represents important progress towards protecting hosting providers like the Wikimedia Foundation, it is equally important to remember that every individual is legally responsible for his or her actions both online and off. For your own protection, you should exercise caution and avoid contributing any content to the Wikimedia projects that may result in criminal or civil liability under the laws of the United States or any country that may claim jurisdiction over you. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Legal Policies.


  1. While the court has handed down the judgment with respect to the Wikimedia Foundation, it has not yet done so with respect to Wikimedia Italia. We expect a ruling to be handed down shortly.
  2. In a special proceeding, an Italian court previously declared that Wikimedia is a mere hosting provider that it is not liable for user-generated content. An account of the earlier victory can be found at: https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/26/wikimedia-foundation-legal-victory-italy/.
  3. The Wikimedia Foundation has successfully defended against similar lawsuits in the past. You can read more about some of our previous victories here: https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/26/wikimedia-foundation-legal-victory-italy/, https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/12/02/legal-victory-german-court-wikimedia-foundation/, and https://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/12/04/two-german-courts-rule-in-favor-of-free-knowledge-movement/.


Vittoria in Italia: il tribunale dichiara Wikipedia “un servizio basato sulla libertà degli utenti”

La scorsa settimana, la comunità di Wikimedia ha ottenuto dal tribunale italiano una vittoria fragorosa. Per oltre quattro anni, Wikimedia Foundation e Wikimedia Italia[1] sono state coinvolte in una causa avviata dal politico italiano Antonio Angelucci e suo figlio, Giampaolo. Gli Angelucci chiedevano a Wikimedia Foundation €20.000.000 per affermazioni presumibilmente diffamatorie, che comparivano su due pagine in lingua italiana di Wikipedia.

Il 9 luglio 2014 il Tribunale Civile di Roma ha emesso la sua sentenza in relazione a Wikimedia Foundation, archiviando il caso dichiarando che la Fondazione non è legalmente responsabile per i contenuti che gli utenti caricano liberamente sui progetti Wikimedia. Ad ogni modo, la vittoria, ha delle ripercussioni più profonde del caso in questione. La sentenza costituisce il primo e completo riconoscimento della posizione di Wikimedia in Italia [2]e la sentenza stessa ha spianato la strada a una maggiore tutela della libera comunicazione su Internet nell’ordinamento giuridico italiano. Gli Angelucci sostenevano che le pagine di Wikipedia su Antonio Angelucci e il giornale italiano Il Riformista, contenevano affermazioni false e che presumibilmente, in base alle loro pretese, danneggiavano la loro reputazione. In generale, la Direttiva sull’e-Commerce dell’Unione europea limita la responsabilità dei provider di hosting sui contenuti che gli utenti caricano; ma gli Angelucci asserivano che le attività di Wikimedia Foundation erano più affini a un provider di contenuti e che non erano esonerati da responsabilità come la Direttiva disponeva o perlomeno Wikipedia avrebbe dovuto ritenersi come un “giornale online” e quindi la Fondazione doveva essere soggetta ai rigidi standard applicati alla stampa italiana.

Il tribunale italiano ha respinto tale argomentazione, affermando che, sebbene la Direttiva non si applichi direttamente a Wikimedia Foundation, non essendo un’organizzazione con sede in Europa, si applicano i principi fondamentali della Direttiva. In conformità a tali principi, Wikimedia deve essere riconosciuta come un provider di hosting, in contrapposizione a un provider di contenuti, e può essere responsabile dei contenuti generati dagli utenti solo se riceve una nota esplicita di informazioni illecite da parte dell’autorità competente e quindi non li rimuove.

Il tribunale ha dichiarato che Wikipedia “offre un servizio basato sulla libertà degli utenti di redigere le varie pagine dell’enciclopedia; è questa libertà che esclude qualsiasi [obbligo di garantire l'assenza di contenuti offensivi dei suoi siti] e che trova il suo equilibrio nella possibilità che chiunque può modificarne i contenuti e

chiederne la rimozione”. Il tribunale ha continuato dichiarando che la Fondazione era molto chiara nelle sue dichiarazioni di non responsabilità sul proprio ruolo neutrale nella creazione e gestione dei contenuti, da notare inoltre che chiunque, anche gli Angelucci stessi, potevano modificare gli articoli in questione.

La creazione della più grande enciclopedia libera del mondo è il risultato naturale di discussioni animate e addirittura di disaccordi sui contenuti. Comunque, la maggioranza di tali discussioni editoriali può essere e viene risolta ogni giorno, tramite processi stabiliti e gestiti da membri dedicati della comunità di Wikimedia. Consigliamo vivamente coloro che sono in disaccordo con i contenuti dei progetti Wikimedia, di esaminare le procedure della comunità, anzichè ricorrere a una controversia legale.

I tentativi di imporre la responsabilità a piattaforme di hosting neutrali — i forum dei nostri giorni — minacciano l’esistenza stessa di queste piattaforme, e nel percorso soffocano l’innovazione e la libera comunicazione. In caso di necessità, Wikimedia Foundation non esita a difendere la raccolta più grande al mondo della conoscenza umana, contro coloro che sfidano il diritto della comunità di Wikimedia di comunicare, di creare e di condividere liberamente.[3]

Michelle Paulson, Consulente legale

Geoff Brigham, Responsabile area legale

Wikimedia Foundation esprime la sua immensa gratitudine verso i procuratori di incredibile talento presso Hogan Lovells, che hanno rappresentato la Fondazione in questa questione, in particolare Marco Berliri, Marta Staccioli e Massimiliano Masnada. Un ringraziamento speciale va anche a Joseph Jung (Interno legale), che ha fornito assistenza per questo post del blog.

Nota: Sebbene questa decisione rappresenti un progresso importante verso la protezione dei provider di hosting come Wikimedia Foundation, è parimenti importante ricordare che ogni singolo individuo è legalmente responsabile delle proprie azioni sia online che offline. L’utente, per la sua protezione, dovrebbe prestare attenzione ed evitare di contribuire con contenuti, nei progetti Wikimedia, che possano risultare in responsabilità penale o civile sotto la legge degli Stati Uniti o qualsiasi altro Paese che potrebbe reclamare la giurisdizione nei suoi confronti. Per ulteriori informazioni, consulta i nostri Termini di utilizzo e Politiche legali.


  1. Sebbene il tribunale abbia emesso il giudizio nei confronti di Wikimedia Foundation, non l’ha ancora fatto per Wikimedia Italia. Ci aspettiamo a breve che venga emessa una sentenza.
  2. Precedentemente, in un procedimento speciale, un tribunale italiano aveva dichiarato che Wikimedia è un semplice provider di hosting, non responsabile dei contenuti generati dagli utenti.Si può trovare un resoconto della precedente vittoria alla pagina: https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/26/wikimedia-foundation-legal-victory-italy/.
  3. In passato Wikimedia Foundation si è difesa con successo contro cause simili. Alcune delle nostre precedenti vittorie si possono leggere qui: https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/26/wikimedia-foundation-legal-victory-italy/, https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/12/02/legal-victory-german-court-wikimedia-foundation/, e https://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/12/04/two-german-courts- rule-in-favor-of-free-knowledge-movement/.

by Michelle Paulson at July 26, 2014 05:17 PM

July 24, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Recovering the shared history editing Wikipedia in Argentina, Mexico and Spain

This post is available in 3 languages:
English  •  Spanish Catalan


The Spanish Republican Exile forced thousands of Spanish citizens to leave their country after the Spanish Civil War and the aftermath of persecutions by the Francisco Franco dictatorship. Nearly 220,000 supporters of the Second Republic left Spain to other countries like Argentina and Mexico.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

To mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Sinaia vessel to the Mexican port of Veracruz, the Wikimedia chapters in Argentina, Spain and Mexico ran ​​the First Spanish Republican Exile Edit-a-thon of Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource on historical facts, biographies and testimonials related to these events.

The coordination of this event was conducted by the Iberocoop initiative. The event in Mexico City was held at the Space X of Cultural Center of Spain in Mexico. This edit-a-thon was curated by Guiomar López Acevedo, historian of the Spanish Ateneo of Mexico, who contributed sources and reviews for the activity. At the opening, Macarena Pérez, staff of the Cultural Center of Spain, said that the Spanish exile is a prolific theme and many more working sessions will be needed to retrieve all available evidence.

At around 2 pm local time in Mexico, Santiago Navarro Sanz, member of the board of Wikimedia Spain, joined in a videoconference from Vila-real and saluted the participants and noted that he was happy that a hard episode in Spanish history is a positive reason to gather Wikipedians in three countries and contribute to the growth of information on Wikimedia projects.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

The event in Mexico produced articles about the Administrative Committee of the Funds for the Relief of Spanish Republican as well as a letter for Wikisource from former President Lazaro Cardenas, who facilitated the coming of thousands to Mexico. Other articles created related to the House of Spain in Mexico, a harbor for Spanish researchers and intellectuals that helped them continue their work, and which eventually became one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country: El Colegio de Mexico. Other articles included the Ermita Building, a famous building in Mexico City that few know was initially created to accommodate Spanish exiles, including some very relevant individuals like the poet Rafael Alberti.

At the end of the event, Macarena Pérez introduced the Atlas of Exile project, a collaborative map that shows where the Spanish exiles located after leaving Spain.

In the case of Argentina, the event was held inside the Casal de Catalunya, where Wikipedians and members of Wikimedia Argentina met for the First Spanish Republican Edit-a-thon.

From the beginning, the attendees could see that the Edit-a-thon would be an event with particular characteristics: several founders of the Children of Spanish Civil War in Argentina Civil Association attended, people who keep alive the memory of the events that took place a long time ago. Their testimonies about how their experiences translated to key political movements in the twentieth century were deeply emotional.

The great amount of evidence, the building of a generational story that can only be told by their protagonists and the gathering of many pictures and historical documents demanded recorded audio and video material in addition to the digitization of documents, including interviews. This material will be the basis for an audiovisual documentary about the Spanish exile in Argentina and the experiences of children of war. The material is being collected in a special category for that purpose in Wikimedia Commons.

Iván Martínez, Wikimedia México president, Nicolás Miranda, Wikimedia Argentina head of communications, and Santiago Navarro Sanz, Wikimedia Spain vicepresident.


Recuperando la historia compartida editando en Argentina, México y España

El exilio republicano español forzó a miles de españoles y españolas a abandonar su país luego de la Guerra Civil Española y el posterior periodo de persecución durante la posguerra por la dictadura de Francisco Franco. Cerca de 220 mil personas simpatizantes de la Segunda República abandonaron España hacia otros países como Argentina y México, quienes lo acogieron de distinta manera.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

Con motivo del 75 aniversario del arribo del buque Sinaia al puerto mexicano de Veracruz, los capítulos Wikimedia de Argentina, España y México, realizaron el Primer Editatón del Exilio Republicano Español, en el que se editó Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons y Wikisource sobre hechos históricos, personajes y testimonios de este proceso.

La coordinación de este evento, realizado bajo la iniciativa Iberocoop, implicó que el trabajo se realizara en horarios distintos el pasado 16 de junio. Desde temprana hora, editores desde territorio español escribieron artículos en español y catalán, como el del escritor y militante socialista Marcial Badia Colomer o el del periodista Isaac Abeytúa.

El evento en la Ciudad de México se realizó en el Espacio X del Centro Cultural de España en México. El evento reunió a la comunidad de editores de Wikimedia México y motivó la presencia de familiares de exiliados españoles. Este editatón contó con el apoyo de la Lic. Guiomar Acevedo López, del Ateneo Español de México, quién aportó fuentes y opiniones para el mejor desarrollo de la actividad. Al inicio de la actividad Macarena Pérez, del Centro Cultural de España, destacó que el exilio español es un tema prolífico y del que se necesitarán muchas más sesiones de trabajo para recuperar todos los testimonios a su alrededor.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

Cerca de las dos de la tarde, hora local de México, Santiago Navarro Sanz, miembro de la mesa directiva de Wikimedia España, en videconferencia desde Vila-real, saludó a los presentes y se dijo contento de que un hecho difícil para la historia española sea una razón positiva para reunir a wikipedistas en tres países y crecer la memoria sobre este hecho en los proyectos Wikimedia. En la actividad en México se editaron artículos como el de la Comisión Administradora de los Fondos para el Auxilio de los Republicanos Españoles o las cartas en Wikisource del entonces presidente Lázaro Cárdenas, quien gestionó el refugio de miles desde España en territorio mexicano. Otros artículos creados fueron la Casa de España en México, en donde fueron acogidos investigadores e intelectuales españoles para que continuaran su labor y que a la postre se convertiría en una de las instituciones académicas más prestigiadas del país: El Colegio de México; o bien, el Edificio Ermita, un afamado edificio de la capital mexicana del que pocos saben que su razón de ser inicialmente fue acoger exiliados españoles, algunos muy relevantes como Rafael Alberti.

Al final del evento Macarena Pérez presentó el proyecto Atlas de Exilio, un proyecto en el que de forma colaborativa se elabora un mapa en el que se sitúa dónde se establecieron los españoles exiliados tras la Guerra Civil; proceso que es posible hoy al no existir una persecución en su contra.

En el caso de Argentina, el evento se realizó dentro del edificio Casal de Catalunya, donde miembros de la comunidad de wikipedistas y de Wikimedia Argentina se reunieron en el Editatón del Exilio Español en Argentina junto a sobrevivientes de la experiencia del desarraigo en la posguerra.

Desde el comienzo, los asistentes pudieron comprobar que el Editatón del Exilio Español iba a ser un evento con características particulares: acudieron al Casal a varios miembros fundadores de la Asociación Civil Niños de la Guerra Civil Española de Argentina, personas que recuerdan y mantienen vivo el significado de los hechos de los que fueron víctimas hace tanto tiempo. Pausadamente y de a uno, sus testimonios acerca de la experiencia del exilio siendo muy pequeños y de cómo sus vivencias personales explican movimientos políticos clave en el siglo XX resultaron muy emotivas. Que el evento resultara tan impactante disparó en los presentes gran cantidad de preguntas que expandieron la temática y enriquecieron los relatos.

Por otro lado, el editatón tuvo una modalidad diferente a la usual, en la que se mejoran, expanden y crean artículos nuevos con el material que se esté tratando en ese momento. En este caso, se consideró que la riqueza de los testimonios, la construcción de un relato generacional que sólo puede ser contado por sus protagonistas y el recopilación de gran cantidad de imágenes y documentos históricos demandó un registro de audio y video -además de la digitalización de los documentos- que incluye entrevistas y que será la base para una recopilación documental audiovisual sobre el exilio español en Argentina y las experiencias de los niños de la guerra. Este material está siendo recopilado en una categoría especial a ese fin en Wikimedia Commons.

Iván Martínez, Wikimedia México president, Nicolás Miranda, Wikimedia Argentina head of communications, and Santiago Navarro Sanz, Wikimedia Spain vicepresident.


Attendants at the edit-a-thon

L’exili republicà espanyol va forçar a milers d’espanyols i espanyoles a abandonar el seu país després de la Guerra Civil Espanyola i el període de persecució a la postguerra, durant la dictadura de Francisco Franco. Vora 220 mil persones simpatitzants de la Segona República van abandonar Espanya cap a altres països com ara Argentina o Mèxic, que els van acollir de distinta manera. Amb motiu del 75 aniversari de l’arribada del buc Sinaia al port mexicà de Veracruz, els capítols Wikimedia Argentina, Espanya i Mèxic, van realitzar el primer editató de l’Exili Republicà Espanyol, en el qual es va editar la Viquipèdia, Wikimedia Commons i Viquitexts sobre fets històrics, personatges i testimonis d’aquest procés.

La coordinació d’aquesta activitat, realitzat sota la iniciativa Iberocoop, va implicar que el treball es realitzara en horaris diferents el passat 16 de juny. Des de bon prompte, editors des de territori espanyol van escriure articles en castellà i català, com el de l’escriptor i militant socialista Marcial Badia Colomer o el del periodista Isaac Abeytúa. L’activitat a la Ciutat de Mèxic es va dur a terme a l’Espai X del Centre Cultural d’Espanya a Mèxic. L’acte va reunir a la comunitat d’editors de Wikimedia Mèxic i va motivar la presència de familiars d’exiliats espanyols. Aquest editató va comptar amb el suport de la Llic. Guiomar Acevedo López, de l’Ateneu Espanyol de Mèxic, qui va aportar fonts i la seua opinió per a millorar el desenvolupament de l’activitat. A l’inici de l’activitat, Macarena Pérez, del Centre Cultural d’Espanya, va destacar que l’exili espanyol és un tema prolífic i del que faran falta moltes més sessions de treball per a recuperar tots els testimonis al seu voltant.

Attendants at the edit-a-thon

Al voltant de les dues de la vesprada, hora local de Mèxic, Santiago Navarro Sanz, membre de la junta directiva de Wikimedia Espanya, en videoconferència des de Vila-real, va saludar als presents i es va manifestar content de que un fet difícil per a la història espanyola siga una raó positiva per a reunir a viquipedistes en tres països i fer créixer la memòria sobre aquest fet en els projectes Wikimedia. En l’activitat a Mèxic es van editar articles con el de la Comissió Administradora dels Fons per a l’Auxili dels republicans espanyols o les cartes a Viquitexts del aleshores president Lázaro Cárdenas, qui va gestionar el refugi de milers des d’Espanya en territori mexicà. Altres articles creats varen ser la Casa d’Espanya a Mèxic, on varen ser acollits investigadors i intel·lectuals espanyols per a que continuaren la seua tasca i que a la fi es va convertir en una de les institucions acadèmiques més prestigioses del país: el Col·legi de Mèxic; o bé, l’edifici Ermita, un afamat edifici de la capital mexicana del qual pocs saben que el seu origen va ser inicialment acollir exiliats espanyols, alguns dels quals molt rellevants com Rafael Alberti.

Al final de l’acte, Macarena Pérez va presentar el projecte Atles de l’Exili, un mapa col·laboratiu on es mostra on es van establir els exiliats espanyols després de la Guerra Civil; procés que és possible avui en dia ja que no existeix una persecució contra ells.

En el cas de l’Argentina, l’acte es va dur a terme a l’edifici del Casal de Catalunya, on membres de la comunitat de viquipedistes i de Wikimedia Argentina es van reunir en l’Editató de l’Exili Espanyol a l’Argentina junt a supervivents de l’experiència del desarrelament durant la postguerra.

Des del començament, els assistents van poder comprovar que l’Editató de l’Exili espanyol anava a ser un esdeveniment amb característiques particulars: es va rebre al Casal a diversos membres fundadors de l’Associació Civil Niños de la Guerra Civil Española d’Argentina, persones que recorden i mantenen viu el significat dels fets dels que van ser víctimes fa tant de temps. De forma pausada i d’un en un, els seus testimonis a voltants de l’experiència de l’exili, quan eren molt menuts, i de com les seues vivències personals expliquen moviments polítics clau al segle XX van resultar molt emotives. Que l’esdeveniment resultara tant impactant va disparar entre els presents gran quantitat de preguntes que van expandir la temàtica i van enriquir els relats.

Per una altra banda, l’editató va tindre una modalitat diferent a la usual, en la que es milloren, amplien i creen articles nous amb el material que s’està tractant en eixe moment. En aquest cas, es va considerar que la riquesa dels testimonis, la construcció d’un relat generacional que tan sols pot ser contat pels seus protagonistes i l’eixida a la llum de gran quantitat d’imatges i documents històrics va demandar un registre d’àudio i vídeo -a més de la digitalització dels documents- que inclou entrevistes i que serà la base per a una recopilació documental audiovisual sobre l’exili espanyol en Argentina i les experiències dels xiquets de la guerra. Aquest material està sent recopilat en una categoria especial per a aquesta finalitat a Wikimedia Commons.

Iván Martínez, Wikimedia México president, Nicolás Miranda, Wikimedia Argentina head of communications, and Santiago Navarro Sanz, Wikimedia Spain vicepresident.

by Carlos Monterrey at July 24, 2014 09:10 PM

July 18, 2014

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wiki Loves Pride 2014 and Adding Diversity to Wikipedia

Logo for the proposed user group Wikimedia LGBT

Since Wikipedia’s gender gap first came to light in late 2010, Wikipedians have taken the issue to heart, developing projects with a focus on inclusivity in content, editorship and the learning environments relevant to new editors. 

Wiki Loves Pride started from conversations among Wikipedians editing LGBT topics in a variety of fields, including history, popular culture, politics and medicine, and supporters of Wikimedia LGBT - a proposed user group which promotes the development of LGBT-related content on Wikimedia projects in all languages and encourages LGBT organizations to adopt the values of free culture and open access. The group has slowly been building momentum for the past few years, but had not yet executed a major outreach initiative. Wiki Loves Pride helped kickstart the group’s efforts to gather international supporters and expand its language coverage.

Pride Edit-a-Thons and Photo Campaigns Held Internationally

We decided to run a campaign in June (LGBT Pride Month in the United States), culminating with a multi-city edit-a-thon on June 21. We first committed to hosting events in New York City and Portland, Oregon (our cities of residence), hoping others would follow. We also gave individuals the option to contribute remotely, either by improving articles online or by uploading images related to LGBT culture and history. This was of particular importance for users who live in regions of the world less tolerant of LGBT communities, or where it may be dangerous to organize LGBT meetups.

San Francisco Pride (2014)

In addition to New York City and Portland, offline events were held in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., with online activities in Houston, Seattle, Seoul, South Africa, Vancouver, Vienna and Warsaw. Events will be held in Bangalore and New Delhi later this month as part of the Centre for Internet and Society’s (CIS) Access to Knowledge (A2K) program. Other Wikimedia chapters have expressed interest in hosting LGBT edit-a-thons in the future.

Campaign Results

The campaign’s “Results” page lists 90 LGBT-related articles which were created on English Wikipedia and links to more than 750 images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Also listed are new categories, templates and article drafts, along with “Did you know” (DYK) hooks that appeared on the Main Page and policy proposals which may be of interest to the global LGBT community.

Pride parade in Portland, Oregon in 2014

The campaign also attracted participation from Wikimedia projects other than Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons hosted an LGBT photo challenge, which received more than 50 entries and an LGBT task force was created at Wikidata. So far the group, which also seeks to improve LGBT-related content, has gathered 10 supporters and has adopted a rainbow-colored variation of the Wikidata logo as its symbol.

Continuing Efforts

Our hope is that the campaign will continue to grow and evolve, galvanizing participation in more locations and in different languages. Wiki Loves Pride organizers will continue to provide logistical support to those interested in hosting events and collaborating with cultural institutions.

Contiguous with the events of Wiki Loves Pride, Wikimedia LGBT has an open application to achieve user group status from the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee and looks forward to expanding its members and efforts on all fronts.

Jason Moore, Wikipedian

Dorothy Howard, Wikipedian

by Dorothy Howard at July 18, 2014 08:50 PM

Wikimedia Foundation offers assistance to Wikipedia editors named in U.S. defamation suit

Since posting, we have learned that Mr. Barry’s attorney has requested to withdraw their complaint without prejudice and their request has been granted by the court. Mr. Barry’s attorney has further indicated that Mr. Barry intends to file an amended complaint some unspecified time in the future.

Wikipedia’s content is not the work of one, ten, or even a thousand people. The information on Wikipedia is the combined product of contributions made by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. By volunteering their time and knowledge, these people have helped build Wikipedia into a project that provides information to millions every day.

With many different voices come many different perspectives. Resolving them requires open editorial debate and collaboration with and among the volunteer community of editors and writers. Disagreements about content are settled through this approach on a daily basis. On extremely rare occasions, editorial disputes escalate to litigation.

This past month, four users of English Wikipedia were targeted in a defamation lawsuit brought by Canadian-born musician, businessman, and philanthropist Yank Barry. In the complaint, Mr. Barry claims that the editors, along with 50 unnamed users, have acted in conspiracy to harm his reputation by posting false and damaging statements onto Wikipedia concerning many facets of his life, including his business, philanthropy, music career, and legal history.

However, the specific statements Mr. Barry apparently finds objectionable are on the article’s talk page, rather than in the article itself. The editors included in the lawsuit were named because of their involvement in discussions focused on maintaining the quality of the article, specifically addressing whether certain contentious material was well-sourced enough to be included, and whether inclusion of the material would conform with Wikipedia’s policies on biographies of living persons.

A talk page is not an article. It is not immediately available to the readers of the encyclopedia. Its purpose is not to provide information, but a forum for discussion and editorial review. If users are unable to discuss improvements to an article without fear of legal action, they will be discouraged from partaking in discussion at all. While some individuals may find questions about their past disagreeable and even uncomfortable, discussions about these topics are necessary for establishing accurate and up-to-date information. Without discussion, articles will not improve.

In our opinion, this lawsuit is an effort to try and chill free speech on the Wikimedia projects. Since Wikipedia editors do not carve out facts based on bias or promotion this lawsuit is rooted in a deep misinterpretation of the free-form truth-seeking conversations and analysis that is part of the editorial review process that establishes validity and accuracy of historical and biographical information. As such, we have offered the four named users assistance through our Defense of Contributors policy. Three of the users have accepted our offer and obtained representation through the Cooley law firm. We thank Cooley for its assistance in the vigorous representation of our users. The fourth user is being represented by the California Anti-SLAPP Project and is working closely with the Wikimedia Foundation and Cooley.

Lawsuits against Wikipedia editors are extremely rare — we do not know of of any prior cases where a user has been sued for commenting on a talk page. The Wikipedia community has established a number of dispute resolution procedures and venues to discuss content issues that are available for anyone to use. Most content disputes are resolved through these processes. We are unaware of Mr. Barry taking advantage of these processes to work directly with the editors involved in this lawsuit or the greater Wikipedia community to address these issues.

Wikipedia’s mission is to provide the world with the sum of all human information for free and we will always strongly defend its volunteer editors and their right to free speech.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel

by Michelle Paulson at July 18, 2014 12:21 AM