September 02, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

In September, we love monuments

Chiesa dio padre misericordioso 02.jpg
Jubilee Church in Tor Tre Teste, Rome, the winning picture of the 2014 Wiki Loves Monuments contest in Italy. Photo by Federico Di Iorio, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Map of countries participating in Wiki Loves Monuments 2015. Dedicated to the public domain by its authors Cirdan, Yiyi and Effeietsanders.

The month of September is well known as the beginning of spring or fall, depending on the hemisphere. In Europe, it is also known as the month of the European Heritage Days, a joint action by 50 states who celebrate the common European cultural heritage. In the Wikimedia movement, September holds a special place as the period during which the annual Wiki Loves Monuments contest is traditionally held.

Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest photography competition in history, Wiki Loves Monuments aims to involve the general public with contributing to Wikipedia, raise awareness of the cultural heritage around them, and document it in photographs that would be free to use for anyone, for any purpose.

Organized for the first time in 2010 in the Netherlands and led by Wikimedia chapters, groups and volunteers, the contest has grown over the years to involve almost 70 countries from all over the world, including Norway and Ireland in Europe, Tunisia and Kenya in Africa, Canada and Argentina in the Americas, and Nepal and Thailand in Asia, among many others. In just 5 years, thousands of amateur and professional photographers alike uploaded over 1.2 million pictures of culturally significant buildings and structures, many of which are used to illustrate articles on Wikipedia and are viewed by millions of readers every month.

The Teatro Comunale, an opera house in Ferrara, Italy. This photo, taken by Andrea Parisi, was awarded the 3rd place on the international level of Wiki Loves Monuments 2012. Freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The 2015 Wiki Loves Monuments will include over 30 countries, among them the new starters Brazil and Latvia. It’s also the fourth time that the contest is taking place in Italy, a country renown for its eclectic and diverse architecture that includes buildings from the Ancient Greece, the Ancient Rome, the Gothic and the Renaissance. Italy is also the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites (51 as of 2014), and the cities of Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence are ranked in the top 40 city destinations in the world.

Despite its rich architecture, however, Italy does not currently enjoy the so-called freedom of panorama, which is a provision in copyright law in many states that permits taking photographs of works—such as buildings—that are permanently located in a public place. This means, in effect, that no architecture in Italy can be photographed without explicit permission from the owner of the structure. To allow Wiki Loves Monuments to take place in their country, Wikimedia Italia, the Italian chapter of the Wikimedia movement, have over the years partnered with more than 300 cities, towns, parishes, dioceses and other institutions to “free” Italian monuments so that they can be photographed for use on Wikipedia. Thanks to those efforts, Italian architecture aficionados can now take pictures of thousands of buildings in all Italian regions and provinces.

Submissions for Wiki Loves Monuments 2015 will be open throughout September. After that, pictures from all participating countries will be judged by their respective national juries, and up to ten best photographs from each country will be nominated for the international stage of the competition, whose winners are usually announced at the beginning of December.

If you are interested in participating in this year’s Wiki Loves Monuments in your country, please visit the main page of the contest on Wikimedia Commons. You can also view a gallery of last year’s international and national winners as well as an automated category listing featured pictures and quality images from last year.

For a gallery of all past Wiki Loves Monuments winners, see below.

Tomasz W. KozlowskiWikimedia community volunteer


2014: The Holy Mountains Monastery in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine. Photo by Konstantin Brizhnichenko, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0.

2013: A RhB Ge 4/4 II with a push–pull train crosses the Wiesen Viaduct between Wiesen and Filisur, Switzerland. Photo by David Gubler, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

2012: Tomb of Safdarjung in New Delhi, India. Photo by Pranav Singh, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

2011: Winter picture of Chiajna Monastery on the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania. Photo by Mihai Petre, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

2010: Vijzelstraat 31, a listed building in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Rudolphous, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 NL.

by Tomasz Kozlowski at September 02, 2015 11:34 AM

Collaborate to make #Edit2015: a Wikipedia Year-in-Review video

File:Wikipedia Edit 2014.webm

Above is #Edit2014, the first Wikipedia Year-in-Review video. You can collaborate to make #Edit2015 here. Video by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Last year, the Wikimedia Foundation published our first ever video year-in-review which covered some of the major news events of 2014 through the lens of Wikipedia. This year, we’re opening up the idea development and pre-production process of making a video for 2015 to everyone. This is an opportunity for you to help shape the narrative of the events of 2015.

Last year’s video was made largely by myself and another video editor over about 8 weeks at the end of 2014. I spent the first half of my 8 weeks researching news, comparing that to view and edit counts of Wikipedia pages, and searching for media to illustrate those events. After I had that media, it was a matter of taste to place them in a video editing timeline. When we published it, the press and the general population on the Internet reacted positively. All things considered, I think that #Edit2014 was a good start, and I’m happy with the final result—but I’d like to improve a few things for #Edit2015.

Here’s the plan

The negotiations about the Iranian nuclear deal framework has been ongoing in the international press. Photo by United States Department of State, public domain.

These images of Pluto by the New Horizons space probe made the international news. Photo by NASA, public domain.

Je suis Charlie is an example of a major global news event that was well documented with freely-licensed media. Photo by Olivier Ortelpa, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

File:CITIZENFOUR (2014) trailer.webm

Citizenfour (trailer above) won an Oscar for best documentary feature. Video by Laura Poitras, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Cecil the Lion‘s death made international news. Photo by Daughter#3, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Open Collaboration: I’m opening up the whole idea-development and pre-production process (research, scriptwriting, brainstorming, finding media, etc.) for making #Edit2015 to on-wiki collaboration. While experimental, we have #Edit2014 as a guide to show that a final product can be done; it taught me that year-in-review videos cover international news events through a brand (in this case Wikipedia) by telling each news story in about 5 seconds and then cutting to the next one. After being multiplied by around 20 stories, your video will be upwards of two minutes long when the credits, logos and titles are included. If you watch other year-in-review videos (like Google Zeitgeist Year In Search) you’ll see how each will spend 5 seconds on a topic and then jump to the next.

First drafts of #Edit2014 were half global news and half wiki-world news. I wanted to showcase as many Wikimedia tools, events and projects as possible. What I found was that since this is for a wide audience, and it’s only a few short minutes long, we only have a chance to communicate one or two new ideas (for an ordinary person who uses the internet), so we had to be very selective about what was showcased. In this case, it was a chance to talk about the edit button and Wiki Loves Monuments briefly. Then we have to get back to those global shared news events that the public may have experienced. Aspects like ‘going down the rabbit hole,’ clicking link after link, was something that ordinary people were familiar with, so this is something we used to bridge stories.

The idea-development and pre-production process does not require any fancy video equipment—just a wiki page and an internet connection. I used post-it notes on my wall to organize my ideas. I think that we—that is, the Wikimedia crowd—can be very good at story development and collaboration. I’ve been collecting imagery and ideas online, and I’d like to allow anyone to use this space as a place to collaborate on this project.

An idea I had for this year is to somehow showcase the talk pages about Wikipedia articles, to show how we arrive at consensus and a neutral-point-of-view. Finding the right article(s) and talk page quotes to use to illustrate that would be key. Last year, we showcased the edit button using the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. For that, we see closeups of ‘citation needed’ and ‘disputed-discuss’ then we cut to the different languages of that article. Imagine if you saw a tiny fraction of the behind-the scenes talk about an article like that and how it aims for objectivity?

Rules: These are some basic criteria I made to guide what content got into #Edit2014:

  • Has the event made it to the international press or wide regional press?
  • Does the event have corresponding view or edit counts?
  • Do we have freely licensed imagery for the event?
  • Was there a special circumstance about this event per Wikimedia projects?
  • Does this illustrate some aspect of Wikimedia that the public should know?
  • Is the media beautiful?
  • Does the Wikimedia Foundation legal team approve of the media?
  • Do we have some media and news from every major region of the world?

As for production and post-production – Continuity, music, audio mixing, et cetera are all things that should ideally be online and in a collaborative manner but currently there is no system in place to collaborate on those things using Wikimedia projects. I’d love to develop that system, but I don’t think that it is practical for this year. I’d also like to aim to make the video as close to 2 minutes in length as possible.

Schedule: So the logical publication date for #Edit2015 is December 15th because that’s when the press, who would republish and spread the video on social media, are still at work and this is an easy story for them to publish before they go on vacation at the end of December. Getting this in the press gets more eyeballs on the video. That means that actual video editing should be well on its way in October and November. This is my current schedule (for now):

  • Brainstorm and pre-production: now – October 1st
  • Production (assemble the footage): October 1st – November 15th
  • Post-Production (lock all the details): November 15th – December 1st
  • Distribution (captions and translations, thumbnails, text copy, uploading, and any last-minute edits): December 1st – December 15th

Internationalism: My biggest problem with #Edit2014 was that so much of it was in English. While we tried to cover as many regions and languages as possible, a non-English speaker probably had to watch it with the captions on—and then your eyes are stuck reading text on the bottom of the screen rather than viewing the interplay of images and text. I think that opening up the development and pre-production phase would flatten out the perspective quite a bit, or at least help to point out flaws and suggest other ideas. We shouldn’t have to rely on captions to make it universally understandable, and since we’ll be jumping from one story to the next in 5 seconds, we can express a story in any local language. There may also be ‘universal’ communication media like video, imagery or numbers that are associated with the text that they can understand.

Media Content: There are a few sources for freely-licensed imagery that we can use for #Edit 2015: still imagery, video imagery, Wikimedia project pages, audio, and imagery we make ourselves. I’d love if we could somehow have more audio/video content for #Edit2015. I looked for freely-licensed video and .gifs on Wikimedia Commons, Vimeo, Internet Archive and YouTube, and I know there are many more I could have used. The first few versions of #Edit2014 incorporated more video than the final cut did, but much was cut out because it was too busy or complicated to communicate an idea quickly. Sometimes a still frame of a Wikipedia article or a still photo might communicate the idea more neutrally or succinctly than portions of freely-licensed videos could.

For every still image you see in #Edit2014, there’s probably 10 more that didn’t make the final cut. It took a lot of research to find appropriate and compelling imagery.

I’m very optimistic that this will be a fruitful initiative, and I can’t wait to see all the usernames of everyone who contributes. Please share this link with your friends. Let’s collaborate and tell the story of Wikipedia and 2015 together.

Victor GrigasWikimedia Foundation Storyteller and Video Producer

by Victor Grigas at September 02, 2015 11:33 AM

Hundreds of “black hat” English Wikipedia accounts blocked following investigation

Hundreds of ‘black hat’ accounts on English Wikipedia were found to be connected during the investigation. The usernames (green) and IP addresses (yellow) have been removed from the image. Graph by James Alexander, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

After weeks of investigation, volunteer editors on English Wikipedia announced today that they blocked 381 user accounts for “black hat” editing.[1] The accounts were engaged in undisclosed paid advocacy—the practice of accepting or charging money to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, in violation of Wikimedia’s Terms of Use. The editors issued these blocks as part of their commitment to ensuring Wikipedia is an accurate, reliable, and neutral knowledge resource for everyone.

The community of volunteers who maintain and edit Wikipedia vigilantly defend the Wikimedia sites to ensure that content meets high editorial standards. Every day, volunteer editors make thousands of edits to Wikipedia: they add reliable sources, introduce new topics, expand articles, add images, cover breaking news, fix inaccuracies, and resolve conflicts of interest. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit, and its open model makes it a rich and reliable resource for the world.

Neutrality is key to ensuring Wikipedia’s quality. Although it does not happen often, undisclosed paid advocacy editing may represent a serious conflict of interest and could compromise the quality of content on Wikipedia. The practice is in conflict with a number of English Wikipedia’s policies, including neutrality and conflict of interest, and is a violation of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.

With this action, volunteer editors have taken a strong stand against undisclosed paid advocacy. In addition to blocking the 381 “sockpuppet” accounts—a term that refers to multiple accounts used in misleading or deceptive ways—the editors deleted 210 articles created by these accounts. Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations. The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.

Community opposition to undisclosed paid advocacy editing on English Wikipedia has a long history, reaching back to at least 2004 when the first conflict of interest guidelines were introduced. Since then, the English Wikipedia community has been vocal about its opposition to this practice. In October 2013, Wikipedia volunteers blocked hundreds of accounts related to the consulting firm Wiki-PR. The Wikimedia Foundation responded with a formal statement, which described undisclosed paid advocacy as “violating the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people,” and sent a cease and desist letter. The Foundation later amended its Terms of Use to clarify and strengthen its ban on the practice.

Not all paid editing is a violation of Wikipedia policies. Many museum and university employees from around the world edit by disclosing their official affiliations, and several prominent public relations firms have signed an agreement to abide by Wikipedia’s paid editing guidelines. Editing Wikipedia is completely free, and only requires compliance with the project’s editorial guidelines. If someone does have a conflict of interest or is uncomfortable editing the site directly, there are several other options to bring the subject to a volunteer’s attention.

Readers trust Wikipedia to offer accurate, neutral content, and undisclosed paid advocacy editing violates that trust. Sadly, it also deceives the subjects of articles, who may simply be unaware that they are in violation of the spirit and policies of Wikipedia. No one should ever have to pay to create or maintain a Wikipedia article. Wikimedia volunteers are vigilant, and articles created by paid advocates will be identified in due time. The Wikimedia Foundation stands with the Wikipedia community in their efforts to make reliable, accurate knowledge available for everyone.

More information about this case is available in the community announcement, and editor community discussion is ongoing.

Ed Erhart, Editorial Associate, Wikimedia Foundation
Juliet Barbara, Senior Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

[1] Wikipedia editors are referring to this case as “Orangemoody” after the first sockpuppet identified during the investigation.

This post has been updated to clarify that blackhat editing involves both accepting and charging money to promote external interests, as well as clarify our position that no one should ever have to pay to create or maintain a Wikipedia article.

by Ed Erhart and Juliet Barbara at September 02, 2015 05:00 AM

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, August 2015

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png

Vol: 5 • Issue: 8 • August 2015 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

OpenSym 2015 report; PageRank and wiki quality; news suggestions; the impact of open access

With contributions by: Morten Warncke-Wang, Brian Keegan, Piotr Konieczny, Andrew Gray, Tilman Bayer, Srijan Kumar, and Guillaume Paumier

OpenSym 2015

The Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (the conference venue is in the left center)
“Main ggate” by Robert Campbell, under CC BY-SA 3.0

OpenSym, the eleventh edition of the annual conference formerly known as WikiSym, took place on August 19 and 20 at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio of San Francisco, USA, followed by an one-day doctoral symposium. While the name change (enacted last year) reflects the event’s broadened scope towards open collaboration in general, a substantial part of the proceedings (23 papers and posters) still consisted of research featuring Wikipedia (8) and other wikis (three, two of them other Wikimedia projects: Wikidata and Wikibooks), listed in more detail below. However, it was not represented in the four keynotes, even if some of their topics did offer inspiration to those interested in Wikimedia research. For example, in the Q&A after the keynote by Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google) about machine learning, Norvig was asked where such AI techniques could help human Wikipedia editors with high “force multiplication“. He offered various ideas for applications of a “natural language processing pipeline” to Wikipedia content, such as automatically suggesting “see also” topics, potentially duplicate article topics, or “derivative” article updates (e.g. when an actor’s article is updated with an award won, the list of winners of that award should be updated too). The open space part of the schedule saw very limited usage, although it did facilitate a discussion that might lead to a revival of a Wikitrust-like service in the not too distant future (similar to the existing Wikiwho project).

As in previous years, the Wikimedia Foundation was the largest sponsor of the conference, with the event organizers’ open grant application supported by testimonials by several Wikimedians and academic researchers about the usefulness of the conference over the past decade. This time, the acceptance rate was 43%. The next edition of the conference will take place in Berlin in August 2016.

An overview of the Wikipedia/Wikimedia-related papers and posters follows, including one longer review.

  • “Wikipedia in the World of Global Gender Inequality Indices: What The Biography Gender Gap Is Measuring” (poster)[1]
  • “Peer-production system or collaborative ontology engineering effort: What is Wikidata?”[2] presented the results of an extensive classification of edits on Wikidata, touching on such topics as the division of labor (i.e. the differences in edit types) between bots and human editors. Answering the title question, the presentation concluded that Wikidata can be regarded as a peer production system now (i.e. an open collaboration, which is also more accessible for contributors than Semantic MediaWiki), but could veer into more systematic “ontology engineering” in the future.
  • “The Evolution Of Knowledge Creation Online: Wikipedia and Knowledge Processes”[3]: This poster applied evolution theory to Wikipedia’s knowledge processes, using the “Blind Variation and Selective Retention” model.
  • “Contribution, Social networking, and the Request for Adminship process in Wikipedia “[4]: This poster examined a 2006/2007 dataset of admin elections on the English Wikipedia, finding that the optimal numbers of edits and talk page interactions with users to get elected as Wikipedia admin fall into “quite narrow windows”.
  • “The Rise and Fall of an Online Project. Is Bureaucracy Killing Efficiency in Open Knowledge Production?”[5] This paper compared 37 different language Wikipedias, asking which of them “are efficient in turning the input of participants and participant contributions into knowledge products, and whether this efficiency is due to a distribution of participants among the very involved (i.e., the administrators), and the occasional contributors, to the projects’ stage in its life cycle or to other external variables.” They measured a project’s degree of bureaucracy using the numerical ratio of the number of admins vs. the number of anonymous edits and vs. the number of low activity editors. Among the findings summarized in the presentation: Big Wikipedias are less efficient (partly due to negative economies of scale), and efficient Wikipedias are significantly more administered.
  • “#Wikipedia on Twitter: Analyzing Tweets about Wikipedia”: See the review in our last issue
  • “Page Protection: Another Missing Dimension of Wikipedia Research”[6] Following up on their paper from last year’s WikiSym where they had urged researchers to “consider the redirect”[7] when studying pageview data on Wikipedia, the authors argued that page protection deserves more attention when studying editing activity – it affects e.g. research on breaking news articles, as these are often protected. They went through the non-trivial task of reconstructing every article’s protection status at a given moment in time from the protection log, resulting in a downloadable dataset, and encountered numerous inconsistencies and complications in the process (caused e.g. by the combination of deletion and protection). In general, they found that 14% of pageviews are to edit-protected articles.
  • “Collaborative OER Course Development – Remix and Reuse Approach”[8] reported on the creation of four computer science textbooks on Wikibooks for undergradaute courses in Malaysia.
  • “Public Domain Rank: Identifying Notable Individuals with the Wisdom of the Crowd”[9] “provides a novel and reproducible index of notability for all [authors of public domain works who have] Wikipedia pages, based on how often their works have been made available on sites such as Project Gutenberg (see also earlier coverage of a related paper co-authored by the author: “Ranking public domain authors using Wikipedia data“)


“Tool-Mediated Coordination of Virtual Teams”

Review by Morten Warncke-Wang

“Tool-Mediated Coordination of Virtual Teams in Complex Systems”[10] is the title of a paper at OpenSym 2015. The paper is a theory-driven examination of edits done by tools and tool-assisted contributors to WikiProjects in the English Wikipedia. In addition to studying the extent of these types of edits, the paper also discusses how they fit into larger ecosystems through the lens of commons-based peer production[supp 1] and coordination theory.[supp 2]

Identifying automated and tool-assisted edits in Wikipedia is not trivial, and the paper carefully describes the mixed-method approach required to successfully discover these types of edits. For instance, some automated edits are easy to detect because they’re done by accounts that are members of the “bot” group, while tool-assisted edits might require manual inspection and labeling. The methodology used in the paper should be useful for future research that aims to look at similar topics.

Measuring Wiki Quality with PageRank

Review by Morten Warncke-Wang and Tilman Bayer

A paper from the WETICE 2015 conference titled “Analysing Wiki Quality using Probabilistic Model Checking”[11] studies the quality of enterprise wikis running on the MediaWiki platform through a modified PageRank algorithm and probabilistic model checking. First, the paper defines a set of five properties describing quality through links between pages. A couple of examples are “temples”, articles which are disconnected from other articles (akin to orphan pages in Wikipedia), and “God” pages, articles which can be immediately reached from other pages. A stratified sample of eight wikis was selected from the WikiTeam dump, and measures extracted using the PRISM model checker. Across these eight wikis, quality varied greatly, for instance some wikis have a low proportion of unreachable pages, which is interpreted as a sign of quality.

The methodology used to measure wiki quality is interesting as it is an automated method that describes the link structure of a wiki, which can be turned into a support tool. However, the paper could have been greatly improved by discussing information quality concepts and connecting it more thoroughly to the literature, research on content quality in Wikipedia in particular. Using authority to measure information quality is not novel, in the Wikipedia-related literature we find it in Stvilia’s 2005 work on predicting Wikipedia article quality[supp 3], where authority is reflected in the “proportion of admin edits” feature, and in a 2009 paper by Dalip et al.[supp 4] PageRank is part of their set of network features, a set that is found to have little impact on predicting quality. While these two examples aim to predict content quality, whereas the reviewed paper more directly measures the quality of the link structure, it is a missed opportunity for a discussion on what encompasses information quality. This discussion of information quality and how high quality can be achieved in wiki systems is further hindered by the paper not properly defining “enterprise wiki”, leaving the reader wondering if there is at all much of an information quality difference between these and Wikimedia wikis.

The paper builds on an earlier one that the authors presented at last year’s instance of the WETICE conference, where they outlined “A Novel Methodology Based on Formal Methods for Analysis and Verification of Wikis”[12] based on Calculus of communicating systems (CCS). In that paper, they also applied their method to Wikipedia, examining the three categories “Fungi found in fairy rings“, “Computer science conferences” and “Naval battles involving Great Britain” as an experiment. Even though these only form small subsets of Wikipedia, computing time reached up to 30 minutes.

“Automated News Suggestions for Populating Wikipedia entity Pages”

A paper accepted for publication at the 2015 Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2015) by scientists from the L3S Research Center in Hannover, Germany that suggests news articles for Wikipedia articles to incorporate.[13] The paper builds on prior work that examines approaches for automatically generating new Wikipedia articles from other knowledge bases, accelerating contributions to existing articles, and determining the salience of new entities for a given text corpus. The paper overlooks some other relevant work about breaking news on Wikipedia,[supp 5] news citation practices,[supp 6] and detecting news events with plausibility checks against social media streams.[supp 7]

Methodologically, this work identifies and recommends news articles based on four features (salience, authority, novelty, and placement) while also recognizing that the relevance for news items to Wikipedia articles changes over time. The paper evaluates their approach using a corpus of 350,000 news articles linked from 73,000 entity pages. The model uses the existing news, article, and section information as ground truth and evaluates its performance by comparing its recommendations against the relations observed in Wikipedia. This research demonstrates that there is still a substantial amount of potential for using historical news archives to recommend revisions to existing Wikipedia content to make them more up-to-date. However, the authors did not release a tool to make these recommendations in practice, so there’s nothing for the community to use yet. While Wikipedia covers many high-profile events, it nevertheless has a self-focus bias towards events and entities that are culturally proximate.[supp 8] This paper shows there is substantial promise in making sure all of Wikipedia’s articles are updated to reflect the most recent knowledge.

“Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science”

Review by Andrew Gray

This paper, developed from one presented at the 9th International Conference on Web and Social Media, examined the citations used in Wikipedia and concluded that articles from open access journals were 47% more likely to be cited than articles from comparable closed-access journals.[14] In addition, it confirmed that a journal’s impact factor correlates with the likelihood of citation. The methodology is interesting and extensive, calculating the most probable ‘neighbors’ for a journal in terms of subject, and seeing if it was more or less likely to be cited than these topical neighbors. The expansion of the study to look at fifty different Wikipedias, and covering a wide range of source topics, is welcome, and opens up a number of very promising avenues for future research – why, for example, is so little scholarly research on dentistry cited on Wikipedia, compared to that for medicine? Why do some otherwise substantially-developed Wikipedias like Polish, Italian, or French cite relatively few scholarly papers?

Unfortunately, the main conclusion of the paper is quite limited. While the authors do convincingly demonstrate that articles in their set of open access journals are cited more frequently, this does not necessarily generalise to say whether open access articles in general are – which would be a substantially more interesting result. It has previously been shown that as of 2014, around half of all scientific literature published in recent years is open access in some form – that is, a reader can find a copy freely available somewhere on the internet.[supp 9] Of these, only around 15% of papers were published in the “fully” open access journals covered by the study. This means that almost half of the “closed access” citations will have been functionally open access – and as Wikipedia editors generally identify articles to cite at the article level, rather than the journal level, it makes it very difficult to draw any conclusions on the basis of access status. The authors do acknowledge this limitation – “Furthermore, free copies of high impact articles from closed access journals may often be easily found online” – but perhaps had not quite realised the scale of ‘alternative’ open access methods.

In addition, a plausible alternative explanation is not considered in the study: fully open access journals tend to be younger. Two-thirds of those listed in Scopus have begun publication since 2005, against only around a third of closed-access titles, which are more likely to have a substantial corpus of old papers. It is reasonable to assume that Wikipedia would tend towards discussing and citing more recent research (the extensively-discussed issue of “recentism“). If so, we would expect to see a significant bias in favour of these journals for reasons other than their access status.

Early warning system identifies likely vandals based on their editing behavior

Accuracy of VEWS system with ClueBot NG and STiki

Summary by Srijan Kumar, Francesca Spezzano and V.S. Subrahmanian

“VEWS: A Wikipedia Vandal Early Warning System” is a system developed by researchers at University of Maryland that predicts users on Wikipedia who are likely to be vandals before they are flagged for acts of vandalism.[15] In a paper presented at KDD 2015 this August, we analyze differences in the editing behavior of vandals and benign users. Features that distinguish between vandals and benign users are derived from metadata about consecutive edits by a user and capture time between consecutive edits (very fast vs. fast vs. slow), commonalities amongst categories of consecutively edited pages, hyperlink distance between pages, etc. These features are extended to also use the entire edit history of the user. Since the features only depend on the meta-data from an editor’s edits, VEWS can be applied to any language Wikipedia.

For their experiments, we used a dataset of about 31,000 users (representing a 50-50 split of vandals and benign users), since released on our website. All experiments were done on the English Wikipedia. The paper reports an accuracy of 87.82% with a 10-fold cross validation, as compared to a 50% baseline. Even with the user’s first edit, the accuracy of identifying the vandal is 77.4%. As seen in the figure, predictive accuracy increases with the number of edits used for classification.

Current systems such as ClueBot NG and STiki are very efficient at detecting vandalism edits in English (but not foreign languages), but detecting vandals is not their primary task. Straightforward adaptations of ClueBot NG and STiki to identify vandals yields modest performance. For instance, VEWS detects a vandal on average 2.39 edits before ClueBot NG. Interestingly, incorporating the features from ClueBot NG and STiki into VEWS slightly improves the overall accuracy, as depicted in the figure. Overall, the combination of VEWS and ClueBot NG is a fully automated vandal early warning system for English language Wikipedia, while VEWS by itself provides strong performance for identifying vandals in any language.

“DBpedia Commons: Structured Multimedia Metadata from the Wikimedia Commons”

Review by Guillaume Paumier

DBpedia Commons: Structured Multimedia Metadata from the Wikimedia Commons is the title of a paper accepted to be presented at the upcoming 14th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2015) to be held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on October 11-15, 2015.[16] In the paper, the authors describe their use of DBpedia tools to extract file and content metadata from Wikimedia Commons, and make it available in RDF format.

The authors used a dump of Wikimedia Commons’s textual content from January 2015 as the basis of their work. They took into account “Page metadata” (title, contributors) and “Content metadata” (page content including information, license and other templates, as well as categories). They chose not to include content from the Image table (“File metadata”, e.g. file dimensions, EXIF metadata, MIME type) to limit their software development efforts.

The authors expanded the existing DBpedia Information Extraction Framework (DIEF) to support special aspects of Wikimedia Commons. Four new extractors were implemented, to identify a file’s MIME type, images in a gallery, image annotations, and geolocation. The properties they extracted, using existing infobox extractors and the new ones, were mapped to properties from the DBpedia ontology.

The authors boast a total of 1.4 billion triples inferred as a result of their efforts, nearly 100,000 of which come from infobox mappings. The resulting datasets are now included in the DBpedia collection, and available through a dedicated interface for individual files (example) and SPARQL queries.

It seems like a missed opportunity to have ignored properties from the Image table. This choice caused the authors to re-implement MIME type identification by parsing file extensions themselves. Other information, like the date of creation of the file, or shutter speed for digital photographs, is also missing as a consequence of this choice. The resulting dataset is therefore not as rich as it could have been; since File metadata is stored in structured format in the MediaWiki database, it would arguably have been easier to extract than the free-form Content metadata the authors included.

It is also slightly disappointing that the authors didn’t mention the CommonsMetadata API, an existing MediaWiki interface that extracts Content metadata like licenses, authors and descriptions. It would have been valuable to compare the results they extracted with the DBpedia framework with those returned by the API.

Nonetheless, the work described in the paper is interesting in that it focuses on a lesser-known wiki than Wikipedia, and explores the structuring of metadata from a wiki whose content is already heavily soft-structured with templates. The resulting datasets and interfaces may provide valuable insights to inform the planning, modeling and development of native structured data on Commons using Wikibase, the technology that powers Wikidata.


Wikipedia in education as an acculturation process

This paper[17] looks at the benefits of using Wikipedia in the classroom, stressing, in addition to the improvement in writing skills, the importance of acquiring digital literacy skills. In other words, by learning how to edit Wikipedia students acquire skills that are useful, and perhaps essential, in today’s world, such as ability to learn about online project’s norms and values, how to deal with trolls, how to work with other in collaborative online projects, etc. The authors discuss those concepts through the acculturation theory and develop their views further through the grounded theory methodology. They portray learning as an acculturation process that occurs when two independent cultural systems (Wikipedia and academia) come into contact.

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.

  • “Depiction of cultural points of view on homosexuality using Wikipedia as a proxy”[18]
  • “The Sum of All Human Knowledge in Your Pocket: Full-Text Searchable Wikipedia on a Raspberry Pi”[19]
  • “Wikipedia Chemical Structure Explorer: substructure and similarity searching of molecules from Wikipedia” [20]


  1. Maximilian Klein: Wikipedia in the World of Global Gender Inequality Indices: What The Biography Gender Gap Is Measuring. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p404-klein.pdf / http://notconfusing.com/opensym15/
  2. Claudia Müller-Birn , Benjamin Karran, Markus Luczak-Roesch, Janette Lehmann: Peer-production system or collaborative ontology engineering effort: What is Wikidata? OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p501-mueller-birn.pdf
  3. Ruqin Ren: The Evolution Of Knowledge Creation Online: Wikipedia and Knowledge Processes. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA. http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p406-ren.pdf
  4. Romain Picot Clemente, Cecile Bothorel, Nicolas Jullien: Contribution, Social networking, and the Request for Adminship process in Wikipedia. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p405-picot-clemente.pdf
  5. Nicolas Jullien, Kevin Crowston, Felipe Ortega: The Rise and Fall of an Online Project. Is Bureaucracy Killing Efficiency in Open Knowledge Production? OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p401-jullien.pdf slides
  6. Benjamin Mako Hill, Aaron Shaw: Page Protection: Another Missing Dimension of Wikipedia Research. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA. http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p403-hill.pdf / downloadable dataset
  7. Benjamin Mako Hill, Aaron Shaw: Consider the Redirect: A Missing Dimension of Wikipedia Research. OpenSym ’14 , Aug 27-29 2014, Berlin, Germany. http://www.opensym.org/os2014/proceedings-files/p604.pdf
  8. Sheng Hung Chung, Khor Ean Teng: Collaborative OER Course Development – Remix and Reuse Approach. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA. http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/c200-chung.pdf
  9. Allen B. Riddell: Public Domain Rank: Identifying Notable Individuals with the Wisdom of the Crowd. OpenSym ’15, August 19 – 21, 2015, San Francisco, CA, USA. http://www.opensym.org/os2015/proceedings-files/p300-riddell.pdf
  10. (August 2015) “Tool-Mediated Coordination of Virtual Teams in Complex Systems“. Proceedings of OpenSym 2015. doi:10.1145/2788993.2789843. 
  11. Ruvo, Guiseppe de; Santone, Antonella (June 2015). “Analysing Wiki Quality using Probabilistic Model Checking” (PDF). Proceedings of WETICE 2015. doi:10.1109/WETICE.2015.18. 
  12. Giuseppe De Ruvo, Antonella Santone: A Novel Methodology Based on Formal Methods for Analysis and Verification of Wikis DOI:10.1109/WETICE.2014.25 http://www.deruvo.eu/preprints/W2T2014.pdf
  13. Fetahu, Besnik; Markert, Katja; Anand, Avishek (October 2015). “Automated News Suggestions for Populating Wikipedia Entity Pages” (PDF). Proceedings of CIKM 2015. doi:10.1145/2806416.2806531. 
  14. Teplitskiy, M., Lu, G., and Duede, E. (2015). “Amplifying the Impact of Open Access: Wikipedia and the Diffusion of Science”. arXiv:1506.07608. 
  15. (August 2015) “VEWS: A Wikipedia Vandal Early Warning System“. Proceedings of SIGKDD 2015. doi:10.1145/2783258.2783367. 
  16. (October 2015) “DBpedia Commons: Structured Multimedia Metadata from the Wikimedia Commons“. Proceedings of the 14th International Semantic Web Conference. 
  17. (July 2015) “Wikipedia in Education: Acculturation and learning in virtual communities”. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction. doi:10.1016/j.lcsi.2015.07.002. 
  18. Croce, Marta (2015-04-30). Depiction of cultural points of view on homosexuality using Wikipedia as a proxy. Density Design.
  19. Jimmy Lin: The Sum of All Human Knowledge in Your Pocket: Full-Text Searchable Wikipedia on a Raspberry Pi https://www.umiacs.umd.edu/~jimmylin/publications/Lin_JCDL2015.pdf Short paper, JCDL’15, June 21–25, 2015, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.
  20. (2015-03-22) “Wikipedia Chemical Structure Explorer: substructure and similarity searching of molecules from Wikipedia“. Journal of Cheminformatics 7 (1): 10. doi:10.1186/s13321-015-0061-y. ISSN 1758-2946. PMID 25815062. 


Supplementary references and notes:

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 5 • Issue: 8 • August 2015
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email WikiResearch on Twitter[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by Tilman Bayer at September 02, 2015 01:20 AM

September 01, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Funding projects and pizza with Wikimedia Foundation grants: meet Emily Temple-Wood

File:Emily Temple-Wood (2minutes27seconds).webm

Emily Temple-Wood discusses lessons learned running Wikipedia workshops. You can also view the above video on YouTube and Vimeo. Video by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Emily Temple-Wood, a Loyola University student studying molecular biology and a veteran Wikipedia editor, is a familiar face on this blog. Last time we wrote about her in 2013, she had spearheaded the WikiProject Women Scientists and continues to contribute to various projects and articles today.

Temple-Wood has been editing Wikipedia since she was 12. She is the vice president of Wikimedia D.C., despite living in Chicago. Her work goes far beyond editing and writing: It extends to running workshops and doing outreach work. For these, she made use of Wikimedia grants—a versatile method of funding for Wikipedia-related projects.

Temple-Wood’s first project and event grant was used to run a series of workshops on contributing to Wikipedia. She said a huge lesson from running these workshops was that social media advertising was integral to boosting attendance.

“When we advertised the workshops just using flyers, only three people came,” she says. “And that was my roommate and her boyfriend, mostly because I promised them that there’d be free pizza.”

But because the grant program was flexible, Temple-Wood says her first experience running workshops ended up an invaluable learning experience stemmed from a low turnout and free pizza.

“We started off with no impact, no people and a total disaster. But I ran ten workshops, or even more,” Temple-Wood says. “In the end we had a really successful smooth model [for workshops].”

Emily Temple-Wood
Temple-Wood has been an editor of Wikipedia since she was 12.Image by Emily Temple-Wood, freely licensed under CC-BY 1.0.

Indeed, her determination for project work shows through with her “baby”, WikiProject Women Scientists. This project, she says, potentially doubled coverage of women scientists on Wikipedia in a year and a half.

“We were missing 1,500 women scientists [in 2013],” she says. “What’s the next massive content gap we’re going to find because we engaged someone who wasn’t engaged before?”

Temple-Wood’s workshops also resulted in materials that can help others hosting similar projects to boost coverage on Wikipedia. “I’m kind of … inspiring people to teach others to focus and run workshops on things that matter to them,” Temple-Wood adds.

If you have an idea but are unsure of how to turn it into a successful grant proposal for the Wikimedia Foundation, turn to IdeaLab. It’s a place where you can meet, and get feedback from, veteran Wikipedians who can help you through the process of applying for a Wikimedia grant.

“We’re really into community collaboration,” adds Temple-Wood.

IdeaLab also supports those who are interested in Individual Engagement Grants, which is currently accepting proposals from now until September 29.

“The grant application can be about anything. That’s how fluid and flexible the grant programs are. So if there is something that you want to try, submit it to the IdeaLab,” Temple-Wood says.

For those who just want to start off small—perhaps to get Wikipedians together to discuss a new project idea, or to educate others on Wikipedia editing—Temple-Wood recommends the project and event grant, which she dubs the “buy-pizza-grants.”

“Really the three things you need for a successful workshop are Wikipedians, pizza and social media advertising,” she laughs.

Interested in learning more about grants? Click on the links in this article to learn more about what you can get done.

Interview by Victor Grigas, Storyteller and Video Producer, Wikimedia Foundation
Profile by Yoona Ha, Assistant Storytelling Intern, Wikimedia Foundation

by Yoona Ha at September 01, 2015 07:33 PM

August 31, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia’s new developer-friendly trademark guidelines for apps

The new guidelines encourage app innovation. Image by VS-QQ freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

At the Wikimedia Foundation, we would love to see more app development, especially in today’s environment where users are increasingly migrating to mobile and wearable devices. Therefore, we created new app guidelines that encourage developer innovation while also providing tips on how to use Wikimedia marks and content in a way that properly represents the Wikimedia community.

These new guidelines are based on our Trademark Policy, published last February after a seven month long consultation with the Wikimedia community. The guidelines provide practical examples of how to use the Wikimedia marks and Wikimedia content in apps while also supporting our mission.

For example, the guidelines make it easier for developers to understand how to use Wikimedia marks and content in the following ways:

  • Using marks in apps without requesting a license: The guidelines make clear for app developers how to use certain marks without requesting a license as long as such use advances the Wikimedia mission and abides by the Trademark Policy.
  • Clearer visual examples of fair use for apps: In our Trademark Policy consultation users expressed confusion over how to use Wikimedia marks. In response, the app guidelines provide clear examples of how to use marks in app buttons, app descriptions, and app titles.
  • Location of licenses: The Wikimedia marks and content are released under different Creative Commons licenses. The guide tells developers where to find those licenses and gives examples of how to properly apply them.
  • Plain English: Unlike typical legal documents, these guidelines use simple words, short sentences, and straightforward sentence structure to make them easy to follow. They recognize that some readers may not be native English speakers and avoid using legalese to facilitate easy translation into multiple languages. To verify the simplicity of the language, we applied various readability indices for better comprehension, like we did with the Trademark Policy.
  • User-friendly layout: Also, as with the Trademark Policy, after considering design techniques, we used visual examples, section breaks, and white-space to make the guidelines both visually appealing and easily accessible.

In a world where people are increasingly accessing knowledge through different devices, the new guidelines are intended to empower designers, developers, and the Wikimedia community to collaborate around the Wikimedia projects while maintaining legal protections. If you have any questions, please email us at trademarks@wikimedia.org.

Victoria Baranetsky, Legal Counsel
Yana Welinder, Legal Director

Many thanks to James Alexander, Community Advocate/Project Manager; Corey Floyd, Software Engineer; Manprit Brar, Legal Counsel; Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel; James Buatti, Legal Fellow; and Marshall Olin, Alex Krivit, and Arielle Friehling, Legal Interns for their incredible work on the app guidelines.  We would also like to thank the rest of the Legal Team as well as the Community Engagement and Communications Teams for their assistance and support in this effort.

by Victoria Baranetsky at August 31, 2015 11:45 PM

August 28, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia strategy consultation shows potential in mobile, rich content, and translations

Strategy consultations help us understand where we are and where we’re going. Photo by Martin Fisch, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Earlier this year, the Wikimedia Foundation led a consultation with the Wikimedia community of editors and readers, in order to inform our strategy[1] for the future. The goal of the consultation was to collect input on how we should respond to future trends that will affect the Wikimedia movement, and incorporate that insight into our emerging strategy. We are pleased to be able to make the complete results of this consultation available to all.

In this post, we’ll provide a brief overview of the consultation and findings. For more detail, please see the full results on Wikimedia Commons, or the metrics presentation at the July 2015 Metrics Meeting on Wikimedia Commons and YouTube.


The consultation consisted of a 10-day global consultation across Wikimedia projects and languages, lasting from February 23 – March 6, 2015. We introduced the consultation by acknowledging that the world is going mobile and the next billion Internet users are coming online. We translated the questions into 15 languages to reflect the international nature of the Wikimedia movement.

The consultation used two open-ended prompts to elicit broad, qualitative feedback and insights:

  1. What major trends would you identify in addition to mobile and the next billion users?
  2. Based on the future trends that you think are important, what would thriving and healthy Wikimedia projects look like?

This is the second time the Wikimedia Foundation has undertaken a collaborative strategy-setting process. However, this consultation was designed as part of a more nimble process than the previous strategic planning process conducted in 2010, in order to allow the Foundation to respond to a quickly changing world.


Nearly 1,300 editors and readers offered their thoughts on these questions across 29 languages. We found 69% were anonymous users from 86 different countries, 24% were logged-in users with established records of participation on the Wikimedia projects, and 7% were new users (all of whom registered during the consultation itself). These latter two groups came from 30 different wikis. All of the comments offered were broken down into 2,468 comments on 28 general themes.

Patterns of response during the 2015 Wikimedia strategy consultation. Graph by Wikimedia Staff, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

1.   English (887) 9.   French (17) 17. Vietnamese (3) 25. Hindi (1)
2.   Spanish (63) 10. Italian (11) 18. Bengali (2) 26. Interlingua (1)
3.   German (45) 11. Portuguese (11) 19. Hebrew (2) 27. Norwegian (1)
4.   Russian (37) 12. Japanese (10) 20. Polish (2) 28. Slovak (1)
5.   Turkish (32) 13. Dutch (5) 21. Ukrainian (2) 29. Swedish (1)
6.   Farsi (30) 14. Indonesian (4) 22. Afrikaans (1)
7.   Chinese (18) 15. Czech (3) 23. Azerbaijani (1)
8.   Arabic (17) 16. Korean (3) 24. Finnish (1)

n = 1295 respondents
Translation languages highlighted


The report’s findings were multi-faceted, reflecting the many emerging trends and experiences identified by the international participants. We analyzed each of the 28 themes for key takeaways, with interesting perspectives emerging from both anonymous and logged-in users. These complete takeaways can be found in the consultations slides on Commons.

2015 Wikimedia strategy consultation results, qualitative comment categories; n = 2,468 comments. Graph by Wikimedia Staff, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Anonymous and new users tended to focus on the look and feel of the site itself on varied devices. Their feedback focused on the site’s presence on mobile, use of multimedia, accuracy and reliability of the existing content, and integration with social media. The anonymous respondents primarily hailed from the United States, but also included significant contingents from India, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iran. Seventeen countries had more than ten people answer.

Logged-in users commented on similar topics but from a different perspective. For example, mobile-related comments were typically confined to the feasibility of editing on mobile devices, which are usually much smaller than a desktop window. They additionally commented on citation quality—the use of stronger, more reliable sources—a bureaucratic climate on some wikis, and strategic threats to the projects, in addition to giving the foundation direct feedback. Sites with more than ten respondents included the English, German, and Spanish Wikipedias, along with the Wikimedia Commons. As the IPs of logged-in users are hidden, we have no geographical data for them.

The precise findings from this study are outlined in the complete slides. All themes are being taken into account and can inform our work moving forward. Here are some highlights:[2]

  • Mobile and app: Mobile-related comments reveal an opportunity to improve our existing mobile offerings for both editors and readers and raise awareness about our native apps. Participants (mostly anonymous users) urged us to “make an app,” when one is already available for iOS and Android devices. We also saw comments that stressed the importance of mobile editing, formatting for smaller (mobile) screen sizes, article summaries for different usage patterns, and the value of “going mobile.”[3]
  • Editing and collaboration: In this category, we find requests to make editing simpler, ideas for enhancing collaboration among editors, suggestions for editing tools, and proposals to build editor rating and qualification programs. This is one of the few categories in which logged-in comments, at 56%, outnumber comments from anonymous and new users. This category provides valuable insight for improvements in editor support including Wikipedia’s visual editor and future projects in the newly created Community tech team, as well as potential new editor support initiatives.
  • Rich content: Participants requested more rich content on Wikimedia sites, suggesting more video, audio, video, and images. Most (80%) of these comments were submitted by anonymous and new users. One United States-based participant commented: “is there any major website in the world with less video?”
  • Volunteer community: We saw a particular interest in improving “community climate” in this category, with a focus on interpersonal dynamics and culture. Participants identified a need to increase diversity (in particular, gender diversity), improve processes and workflows, and address bureaucracy-related challenges. This is another category in which logged-in comments, at 54%, outnumber comments provided by anonymous and new users.
  • Wikimedia Foundation feedback: This category focused on the relationship between the Wikimedia Foundation and the volunteer community and includes suggestions of how the Foundation might change its practices and priorities to align with the volunteer community. These comments are from mostly logged-in users (88%), most of them highly experienced users with an average edit count of more than 64,000 edits. Suggestions included providing better support to editors in a variety of ways and continuing to ask for feedback from core community members.
  • Content quality (accuracy): These comments emphasized the importance of content accuracy, trustworthiness, and reliability. Comments focused on citation quality, the use of expert editors, and even restricting editing (so that “not everyone can edit”). Most (73%) of comments in this category were from anonymous and new users, signaling an opportunity to communicate to readers about the accuracy and trustworthiness of the content within Wikipedia and sister projects.
  • Education and universities: These comments reflected both a concern about the perception of Wikipedia as a (non)credible source for academic inquiry, and also recognition of the growing opportunity for Wikimedia to extend its content, brand, and global presence into online education by developing courses, curricula, and partnering with other online educational resources. Most (76%) of the comments in this category came from anonymous and new users, whereas only 24% originated from logged-in users.  
  • Translation and languages: We saw a collective interest in this category from logged in, anonymous, and new users. Key suggestions included a focus increasing translation capabilities and tool, expanding into more languages, and developing the ability to easily translate across projects. These comments validate the need for the Content Translation tool, which is now available on 224 language versions of Wikipedia as a beta feature.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this consultation. The findings of the consultation will play a key role in our work moving forward, influencing how engineering teams develop forward-looking plans and validate proposed roadmaps and projects.

Terence Gilbey
Interim Chief Operating Officer
Wikimedia Foundation

[1] Unlike in past years, we are approaching strategy not as a set of goals or objectives, but rather as a direction that will guide the decisions for the organization.
[2] These examples do not mean that these themes are more important than others. They are simply highlights for this particular blog post. We are assessing all of the themes to incorporate this feedback at all levels of our work.
[3] We realize the mention of mobile in the consultation’s framing may have impacted the prominence of this theme in the comments.

by Terence Gilbey at August 28, 2015 05:43 PM

Crowdfunding free knowledge

Class using Wikireaders in India.JPG
A class in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, using WikiReaders. 500 of those devices were distributed to schools in India, South Africa and Mexico, in part through a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Photo by Ashstar01, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Crowdfunding has been steadily growing as an alternative method to fund various projects and ventures on the Internet over the past few years. It has been used to successfully fund video games, a smartwatch, the renovation of a German schloss, a political action committee and, more humorously, the making of a potato salad. You can even crowdfund an online encyclopedia—and people have been doing so very generously over the past 14 years.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Wikimedia volunteers are increasingly embracing this way of funding their own initiatives to improve Wikipedia and its sister projects.

A female Megistocera, a genus of crane fly, photographed in Kadavoor, Kerala, India. This newly promoted quality image was taken by Jeevan Jose using gear purchased with funds from his crowdfunding campaign and was released under the CC BY-SA 4.0.

This year has seen particular activity in that regard, with three campaigns—Wikimédia France’s WikiCheese, Diego Delso’s equipment restoration and Jeevan Jose’s new photography gear fundraisers—receiving over US$13,500 in donations from the public. Following this surge, I asked some of the contributors involved in Wikimedia-related crowdfunding campaigns about the lessons they learned from them and the suggestions they might have for future crowdfunding organizers.

The most popular suggestion is to start with a feasible target. “Indiegogo have a reasonable fee if you meet your target but incur a hefty penalty if you don’t,” says Colin, one of a group of volunteers behind Jeevan Jose’s successful fundraiser that exceeded its target by over fourfold, collecting US$3,150 in total. “That really encourages you to be modest, to work out what you need rather than what is in your dreams,” he adds.

Being able to show a good track record is quite important, too. “People giving their money to non-profit projects want to see a pilot first or some track record that shows you can responsibly use their money effectively to make change in a long-term sustainable way,” says Aislinn D Grigas, organizer of the ultimately unsuccessful WikiReader distribution campaign in 2013. “Tracking success is also essential to discovering the outcome of a pilot project and determining if it is a worthy candidate for more investment.”

Colin adds that you should “make your campaign personal with photos of yourself, and to make it clear why a donation would be for a good cause and would give a good return. In our case, Jee is a very popular member of the Wikimedia Commons community, which definitely helped since many of the donations came from wiki-friends.”

Building a team of collaborators seems to be another crucial factor. “Having a team is recommended … We invited a few of Jee’s wiki-friends to help with the campaign, [and] Christian created an excellent video made from clips of Jee’s work. This really made the campaign look professional,” says Colin.

Asking for outside help is also advised by Aislinn. “One of the things I learned is to reach out to as many people and organizations as possible. Finding partners and collaborators is important and can be a great source of support and help. We didn’t initially think that a Wikimedia Foundation grant would be a match but in talking to enough people, we realized there were other sources that could supplement our crowdfunding campaign,” she finishes.

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Tomasz Kozlowski at August 28, 2015 05:43 PM

August 27, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

News on Wikipedia: Stock markets plunge, train attack thwarted, and more

Montage for News on Wikipedia August 25.jpg

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Shoreham Airshow crash

Hawker Hunter T7 'WV372 - R' (G-BXFI) (12863569924).jpg
The pilot of the Hawker Hunter, pictured in 2013, is in critical condition. Image by Alan Wilson, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.

On Saturday, August 22, a Hawker Hunter T7 jet aircraft crashed into several vehicles on the busy A27 road during a display at the Shoreham Airshow in Shoreham-by-Sea in England. The plane was performing a vertical loop but, for reasons as yet unknown, failed to complete the manoeuvre and crashed. At least 11 people died on the ground and 16 were injured. The pilot, experienced former British Airways captain Andy Hill, is in critical condition. It is the most deadly airshow accident since the 1952 Farnborough air show crash, where 31 died.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Shoreham Airshow crash

Temple of Baalshamin destroyed

Temple of Baal-Shamin, Palmyra.jpg
The temple had stood for thousands of years before being demolished. Image by Bernard Gagnon, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

The Temple of Baalshamin, an ancient temple in Palmyra which was built in the second century BCE, was destroyed by the Islamic jihadist group ISIL. The temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, and classed as “in danger” since 2013. It comes after ISIL allegedly suggested they would not destroy the site and would instead target statues deemed “polytheistic.” Reports conflict as to the actual date of the demolition.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Temple of Baalshamin

Stock markets seesaw

NASDAQ stock market display.jpg
Stock markets around the world suffered this week. Image by bfishadow, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

This week proved turbulent for the world’s stock markets, following the crash of the Chinese stock market, which began in June and intensified this week. Several factors compounded the event globally, including the Greek government-debt crisis and the collapse in oil prices. On Monday (August 24), the Dow Jones plunged 1,000 points immediately after trading opened. This was briefly offset by a
morning rally on what US media dubbed “Turnaround Tuesday”, but stocks
failed to rebound and ended more than 200 points below Monday’s
closing. Also impacted were the SENSEX in India and the FTSE in the United Kingdom, both of which suffered, and recovered from, heavy losses.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Chinese stock market crash, 2015 stock market selloff

Okanogan Complex fire rages on

Okanogan Complex Fire - USFS.jpg
The fire has been burning since August 15. Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

On Monday (August 24), the Okanogan Complex fire, a wildfire burning in Okanogan County, Washington, became the state’s largest-ever wildfire. It began as five separate fires caused by lightning strikes earlier in the month, and has now burned through more than 400 square miles of land. The fire has caused the evacuation of several towns in the county, and thus far more than 1,250 firefighters have been deployed to tackle the blaze. Irregular terrain means that the fires are proving difficult to deal with using traditional methods.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Okanogan Complex fire

French terror attack foiled

Gare du Nord, Paris 9 April 2014 004.jpg
The Thalys train, similar to that pictured, was en route from Amsterdam to Paris when the incident took place. Image by Chris Sampson, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Passengers onboard a Thalys train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday (August 21) subdued a gunman as the train passed through Oignies, France. The suspect, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, a Luger pistol and a utility knife, opened fire near the toilets at around 5:45 p.m. Several passengers were involved in tackling the gunman, two of which were off-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Thanks primarily to the passengers’ actions, nobody on board was killed and only five were injured. Seven of the passengers were awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: 2015 Thalys attack

Photo montage credits: “Hawker Hunter T7 ‘WV372 – R’ (G-BXFI) (12863569924).jpg” by Alan Wilson, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.; “Okanogan Complex Fire – USFS.jpg” by U.S. Department of Agriculture, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.; “Temple of Baal-Shamin, Palmyra.jpg” by Bernard Gagnon, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.; “NASDAQ stock market display.jpg” by bfishadow, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.; “Gare du Nord, Paris 9 April 2014 004.jpg” by Chris Sampson, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.; Collage by Andrew Sherman.

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at August 27, 2015 05:16 PM

August 26, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

As Odia Wikipedia turns 13, what happens next?

Mrutyunjaya Kar 04.JPG
Mrutyunjaya Kar, Administrator, Odia Wikipedia. Photo by Jasanpictures, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Odia Wikipedia, one of several Indian-language Wikipedia projects, celebrated thirteen years of free knowledge contribution on June 3.

Launched in 2002—just a year after the English Wikipedia was launched—Odia Wikipedia has grown to be the largest content repository in the Odia language available in Unicode on the Internet. With over 8,900 articles and about 17 active editors (also known as “uikiali”) spread across various parts of India and abroad, the project has become more than just an encyclopedia. The voluntary editor community has put its efforts into acquiring valuable content, re-licensing them under Creative Commons (CC) licenses, and building tools for acquiring more encyclopedic content from various sources.

Statistics showing monthly page view, active editors and new editors in Odia Wikipedia for February-July 2015. Photo by Subhashish Panigrahi, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The community has also engaged over 2,500 people through various outreach programs, such as the Wikipedia Education Program. For its thirteenth anniversary, the community released a character-encoding converter that promises to unlock massive amounts of content—from government portals to journals, newspapers and magazines that have their content in various legacy encoding systems other than Unicode. This has been a major roadblock in the search for and reuse of digital content in the Odia language.

During our thirteenth anniversary celebrations, the community spent a day assessing community needs, addressing issues, and identifying priority areas to focus on in the future. This was arguably the first time almost the entire community gathered in a physical space. This allowed Odia Wikipedia administrator, and the most active Odia Wikimedian, Mrutyunjaya Kar and I to design a needs assessment survey. Participating Wikimedians were asked to brainstorm various problems they face in two major areas: editing and outreach.

What challenges the Odia community is facing–an infographic based on the community survey during Odia Wikipeia 13 event. Photo by Subhashish Panigrahi, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Two-fifths of participants said that problems with the rendering of Odia characters in different operating systems, ignorance or lack of more documentation about enabling encoding for Odia, input methods and keyboard layouts, and other font- and keyboard-related issues as the major reason for low readership and contribution on Wikipedia.

More than a third instead blamed the lack of good quality content on Wikipedia and the Internet as a whole in the Odia language, in English related to Odia language, and in Odisha on the Internet. A quarter blamed other technical issues, including the lack of mobile input in Odia, for low editorship, while low interest for contributing in Odia language by native language speakers was blamed by eight percent of survey participants.

Aditya Mahar01.jpg
Aditya Mahar, Wikimedian. By Jnanaranjan sahu, released under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Aditya Mahar, the second-most active editor on the Odia Wikipedia, feels that the biggest setback for the Odia Wikipedia is a lack of interest in contributing in Odia language. He says many Odia speakers feel that Odia is not needed to acquire and share knowledge.

“Like many others, I have been very eager to learn and share more about my home state and culture,” he says. “That’s why I started to contribute to the Odia Wikipedia, to tell my people about our rich cultural heritage in my language.”

He adds that he is concerned by the way many have been alienating Odia with the excuse of learning English to connect to the rest of the world. “I want my future generation to find everything they want to learn in Odia—from the history of Odisha, our art, architecture, Odia language and people, and our cultural extravaganza,” he says.

Mrutyunjaya Kar, an administrator on the Odia Wikipedia and the most active contributor, feels that Wikipedia is like a marathon and there is a great need for fresh blood in the community. Asked if the community will ever die out, Mrutyunjaya feels that even with a small community, the Odia Wikipedia community is always going to thrive, even if, in the worst case, only one active Wikipedian remains. So, we badly need new users to pass the baton. For him, community support and bonding with the fellow editors is the most important thing to lead a community.

Mrutyunjaya adds that creating many short articles, known as “stubs”, is a necessary evil and essential for a project like the Odia Wikipedia, as they are drafted as a by-product of collaborative editing.

“It takes little longer for a small community like Odia to expand and enhance quality of stubs though,” he says. “Many-a-times, new editors learn about Wikipedia editing while creating stubs. However, all the active Wikipedians agreed during the thirteenth anniversary not to create or promote many stubs.”

Sailesh Patnaik, Odia Wikimedian
Subhashish Panigrahi, Odia Wikimedian and Programme Officer, Access To Knowledge (CIS-A2K)

by Subhashish Panigrahi and Sailesh Patnaik at August 26, 2015 12:47 AM

August 24, 2015

* Wikimedia Česká republika *

Ohlédnutí za soutěží CEE Spring

Plakát soutěže CEE Spring

Plakát soutěže CEE Spring (Autor: Aktron, CC BY-SA 4.O)

Letos na jaře se Wikimedia Česká republika připojila k dalším středo- a východoevropským organizacím Wikimedia v soutěži CEE Spring. O co šlo? O psaní článků na téma všech zemí regionu.

Soutěž měla celkem dvě kategorie: mezinárodní, kde bylo možné psát články na českou Wikipedii na jakékoliv téma, a polskou, kterou podpořil Polský institut. Pro tuto kategorii byla vybrána témata z druhé světové války v Polsku. Naši severní sousedé si totiž letos na jaře připomněli 70. výročí osvobození od fašismu.

Mezinárodní kolo soutěže mělo své vítěze, kteří obdrželi ceny během červnového setkání komunity v zahradě Na Smetance v Praze. Vítězem soutěže se stal wikipedista Horst, který přispěl největším objemem hesel. Na druhém místě pak skončil RPekařWeWeCZak. Vítězové kola „Polsko v druhé světové válce“ obdrží své ceny během několika týdnů na slavnostním setkání v budově Polského institutu. V této kategorii se jednoznačným vítězem stal uživatel Jan Charvát, který přispěl takovými skvělými články, jako je například Akce Zamość nebo Polští letci RAF.

Vítězové soutěže byli odměněni jak hmotnými cenami, tak i mezinárodním setkáním, které se tento srpen uskutečnilo v makedonské metropoli Skopje.

Statistiky polského kola soutěže

Statistiky polského kola soutěže – nejvíce rozšířené články a hlavní přispěvatelé (Autor: Aktron, CC BY-SA 4.0) .

V rámci mezinárodního kola soutěže na české Wikipedii přibylo 388 článků na téma zemí střední a východní Evropy. Některé z nich vznikly na základě seznamů doporučených hesel, které obsahovaly významné historické a kulturní postavy daných zemí. Díky tomu je tak na české Wikipedii například i článek o Naimu Frashërim nebo Kolomanu Ladislavu Berzánym. V polském kole soutěže bylo napsáno celkem 712 kB textů a řada významných i důležitých historických hesel se značně zlepšila; ať už díky vlastní iniciativě autorů hesel, nebo pomocí překladů z polského jazyka. A ještě jedna zajímavá věc, ke které dopomohla naše soutěž – do tvorby Wikipedie se zapojili noví lidé a pomohli jsme aktivizovat i zkušenější a méně aktivní členy naší komunity.

Do budoucna to vidíme jasně – soutěže budeme pořádat i nadále!

by Jan Loužek at August 24, 2015 07:55 PM

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

When cultural heritage gets a digital life

Coding da Vinci 2015 - Preisverleihung (18880680843).jpg
Coding da Vinci featured 20 different projects and added 600,000 files to the Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Thomas Nitz/Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

An additional 600,000 free files are now available for the Wikimedia Commons thanks to Coding da Vinci, a recent cultural data hackathon held at Berlin’s Jewish Museum. They range from century-old films to recordings of mechanical pianos, World War II photographs, scans of dried flowers, and other art and heritage, all sourced from German museums, archives, and libraries.

Other achievements ranged from including 65 million pieces of metadata, such as the Integrated Authority Files (GND) and inventory of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, and about 180 people came to Coding da Vinci’s 5 July award ceremony, despite heat that reached 34°C, for presentations from the competition’s 20 projects.

Still, you can find all of this information in the competition’s press report, along with the five jury prizes and “everybody’s darling” plant identification app Floradex (i.e. won the audience prize). Instead, this blog post focuses on the competition’s project that, in my personal opinion, epitomizes a very special quality of Coding da Vinci.

The Imperii-Viz project

Lehensurkunde Götz von Berlichingen Burg Hornberg.jpg
This deed (a transcription) was proof of Götz von Berlichingen‘s ownership of Hornberg Castle. Photo by Castellan/Burg Hornberg archives, public domain.

Documents similar to the deed above, a remnant from the Holy Roman Empire, are on display in museums around the world. They can be attractive to look at, but very few of us can actually read them—and among the few who can decipher the content, fewer still can understand it.

In Europe, a good number of these documents—most of them deeds of legal transactions—have survived into the present day, despite wars, fires, mold, and voracious bugs, and the sheer amount of time that has passed since they were written. Some are carefully preserved in archives, and non-medievalist historians and similar specialists rarely get to see them; their age alone makes them too precious and fragile.

Now, thanks to the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, many of these documents are now becoming accessible to a wider audience. The academy is home to the nearly 200-year-long research project “Regesta Imperii” (RI). Here, all administrative documents issued by Roman-German kings and emperors are summarized in what are known as regesta—similar in function to a book’s dust jacket—in a database. At present it contains 130,000 entries, enough that a large team of specialists from various fields was required.

One visit to RI’s website is enough to realize you have to be a specialist yourself not to get lost in the thousands of entries. Goethe once observed that you only see what you know. If you don’t know what you’re looking for because you can’t imagine what these historical documents might hold, then you won’t even be able to think of a research question. When this happens, the documents remain purely decorative: one deed quickly starts to look like a thousand others, and the visitor’s attention soon drifts away.

The dialectic takes hold

Coding da Vinci 2015 - Preisverleihung (19474485476).jpg
The Imperii-Viz team present their app at Coding da Vinci. Photo from Thomas Nitz/Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In order to reach and hold onto these non-specialists, the academy decided to conduct an experiment: what would happen if they enlisted curious hackers to play around with their database? They released the data under a free license specially for Coding da Vinci, thus making them available for use in an app for the very first time. For programmers, 130,000 data sets make for a very attractive offer, and five young IT students from Stuttgart and Leipzig took up the challenge. They called the result Imperii-Viz.

On the web-based app, the RI data sets are expanded with images from Wikimedia Commons and text on the emperors and kings from Wikipedia. When the user selects a king, a heat map appears showing the European regions where this king most frequently issued such deeds.

Dr. Andreas Kuczera, a scientific researcher at RI, is very positive about the results of the experiment:

The Imperii-Viz app is really interesting. It supports a new approach we should be taking to our database, viewing it from the perspective of big data. That’s new for us. The app isn’t just making these documents available to non-professionals; it’s also helping us researchers to formulate new questions. We definitely want to continue working with the Imperii-Viz team. The first lesson we learned is that we need to standardize the names of all the rulers so the data sets can be used in a more consistent way. We now have to implement this lesson. Discussions on topics like this with the hackers at Coding da Vinci were really valuable for us.

This assessment reflects perfectly, I believe, the dialectical quality of Coding da Vinci: the dialogue and exchange of experiences between two worlds. In an age of increasingly structured data, cultural institutions can use the technical know-how of programmers to build bridges between us and our cultural heritage—thus making our world a more versatile and richer place, and helping us anchor our present lives in history.

Coding da Vinci was organized by Wikimedia Deutschland together with its partners the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB), the Service Center for Digitization, and the Open Knowledge Foundation; several other reports from the competition are available.

Barbara Fischer
Curator for GLAM Partnerships at Wikimedia Deutschland

by Barbara Fischer at August 24, 2015 05:07 PM

August 20, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

News on Wikipedia: Explosions in China, Brazilian protests, and more

News on Wikipedia Week of Aug 17 lead image.jpg

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Bomb blasts in Bangkok

Erawan Shrine, Ratchaprasong, May 2015.jpgThe Erawan Shrine, seen here in May, was targeted. Image by Cantab12, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

A TNT bomb was detonated outside the Erawan Shrine on the busy Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok on Monday (August 17). The attack, thought to have been politically motivated, killed twenty people and injured more than 100. Most of those were tourists, though several Thai nationals are among the dead. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha called it the “worst-ever attack” in the country’s history. So far, twenty-three countries have issued travel advisories in the wake of the attack as Thai police track down the suspect who is as yet unidentified.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: 2015 Ratchaprasong bombing

Brazilians protest Dilma

Protestos de 15 de março de 2015 em São Paulo-3.jpgProtests have been ongoing in Brazil throughout 2015; here, the people of São Paulo demonstrate in March. Image by Agência Brasil, freely licensed under CC-BY 3.0 Brazil.

On August 16, protests took place around Brazil in more than 200 cities across all 26 of the country’s states. Demonstrators were again demanding the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff, whose reign has gradually become more unpopular among some sections of the public. Though turnout was smaller than similar protests earlier in the year, sources suggest around 200,000 people took part around Brazil. A July poll found that Rousseff’s approval rating had dropped to 7.7 percent, with almost two thirds of respondents wishing to see her impeachment.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 protests in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff

Massive explosions in Tianjin

Tianjin explosion scene 20150813 (20).jpgThe blasts caused extensive damage to vehicles and buildings. Image by Voice of America, in the public domain.

A series of massive explosions near the Chinese city of Tianjin last week have killed at least 114 people, including more than twelve firefighters. The cause of the blasts is not yet known, though initial reports suggest they were the result of an industrial accident at a dangerous goods containment station near the Port of Tianjin. The explosions also caused extensive damage to nearby buildings, destroying several, and were visible from space. Thousands of residents were evacuated due to the chemicals released in the blast, thought to include sodium cyanide, and most are now staying in temporary shelters.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: 2015 Tianjin explosions

Spieth and Day celebrate golfing successes

Jason Day 2011 cropped.jpgJason Day, pictured in 2011, won his first major at the 2015 PGA Championship. Image by Keith Allison, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.

Australian golfer Jason Day won his first major at the 2015 PGA Championship on Sunday, August 16. He recorded a score of –20, the lowest score in relation to par ever recorded in a major. Thanks in part to this win, he rose to number three in the Official World Golf Ranking. It was Jordan Spieth of the United States who made most headlines on the day—despite finishing three strokes behind day, Spieth still climbed to number one in the ranking, superceding Rory McIlroy, becoming the eighteenth different golfer to earn this ranking since 1986.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day

Indonesian domestic flight crashes

PKYRN.JPGThe plane involved in the incident, pictured here in 2008. Image by YSSY guy, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Trigana Air Service Flight 257, a 45-minute domestic flight from Sentani to to Oksibil in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua, crashed on Sunday, August 16, thirty minutes after takeoff. The plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew, all of whom died on impact. It is Trigana Air Service‘s deadliest crash in the airline’s 25-year history, and the third-deadliest in eight months in Indonesia. The cause of the crash is being investigated; analyst Mary Schiavo suggested that “pilots don’t have enough training in their landing sequences and they need more training and more oversight”.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Trigana Air Service Flight 257

Photo montage credits: “Jason Day 2011 cropped.jpg” by Keith Allison, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.; “Protestos de 15 de março de 2015 em São Paulo-3.jpg” by Agência Brasil, freely licensed under CC-BY 3.0 Brazil; “Tianjin_explosion_scene_20150813_(20).jpg” by Voice of America, in the public domain; “PKYRN.JPG” by YSSY guy, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.; “Erawan_Shrine,_Ratchaprasong,_May_2015.jpg” by Cantab12, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.; Collage by Andrew Sherman.

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe SutherlandCommunications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at August 20, 2015 07:11 PM

August 19, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Despite headlines, frequent edits don’t cause inaccuracy

Iceberg_IlulissatWikipedia articles on controversial scientific topics, like ‘Global warming,’ receive more edits. Contrary to recent media reports, this does not make them more inaccurate. Photo by Sir48, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit. This open, collaborative model is what makes it one of the world’s most popular sources of information. It is also what makes Wikipedia reliable and accurate, as everyone can review changes and additions to its articles. Although vandalism and inaccuracies can occur, its community of volunteer editors has established mechanisms to ensure that the vast majority of inaccurate content is addressed within minutes.

Last week, a study was published in the open-access journal PLOS One: “Content Volatility of Scientific Topics in Wikipedia: A Cautionary Tale.” The study prompted a flurry of discussion around the accuracy of scientific articles on Wikipedia. The Wikimedia community has longstanding support for academic research about Wikipedia. However, the media coverage of this particular study has drawn some questionable conclusions.

According to the study, articles on politically controversial scientific articles on English Wikipedia tend to receive higher edit rates and larger edits than scientific articles considered to be politically uncontroversial. The authors cite three topics they identified as politically controversial—acid rain, global warming, and evolution—and four they identified as politically uncontroversial: heliocentrism, general relativity, continental drift, and the standard model in physics.*

It didn’t surprise us to learn that articles considered to be controversial are frequently edited. The nature of controversy, after all, is that it generates discussion and public attention. For example, while the properties of water (H2O) have been well established, the causes of the Arctic sea ice decline are the subject of ongoing scientific inquiry and political debate.

Unfortunately, the study also jumped to conclusions about what this means for Wikipedia’s reliability, overstating findings and inferring facts not in evidence. Much of the press about the study has repeated the assertion that controversial articles are also more likely to be inaccurate, despite a lack of strong supporting evidence: the study only references a handful of anecdotal examples of inaccuracies. Instead, the study simply seems to confirm that the articles chosen as controversial are, in fact, controversial and thus frequently edited. One of the authors has since responded that they intended no claim about a relationship between higher edit rates and lower accuracy.

In fact, several prior studies have found the opposite to be true, demonstrating that more edits are correlated with higher quality articles. For example, a 2007 study published in the peer-reviewed journal First Monday found “a strong correlation between number of edits, number of distinct editors, and article quality in Wikipedia.” Similarly, in 2013 researchers observed that the number of contributions to high-quality articles is about one order of magnitude higher than that of low-quality articles, according to the book Confidentiality and Integrity in Crowdsourcing Systems.

In addition, the study covered a very small sample size, using just seven of the 35 million articles available across Wikipedia’s many languages.

Wikipedia’s community of volunteer editors take the commitment to accuracy very seriously. Many of them have personal academic or data science interests. In fact, a robust discussion critiquing the methodology of this study has taken place publicly on Wikipedia.

The aim of Wikipedia is to make the sum of all knowledge available to every person in the world. External research and observation are critical to helping Wikipedia grow and improve. But in true Wikipedian spirit, we believe any research should be assessed and reported with rigor and care. It is the same approach Wikipedia editors use to keep building Wikipedia as a reliable, accurate, and neutral resource for all.

*We’ll note that we found the inclusion of heliocentrism in the category of politically uncontroversial amusing. Hundreds of years later, we hope Galileo would appreciate the nod.

Katherine Maher, Chief Communications Officer, Wikimedia Foundation
Juliet BarbaraSenior Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

by Katherine Maher and Juliet Barbara at August 19, 2015 09:35 PM

How Wikipedia responds to breaking news

Msc 2008-Saturday, 09.00 - 11.00 Uhr-Moerk001 Sa.jpgWikipedia is capable of covering news like any news agency. Photo by Kai Mörk, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0 (Germany).

For almost fifteen years, the scope of topics that Wikipedia covers has grown steadily. Now, the free online encyclopedia covers everything from music, film and video games to geography, history, and the sciences. It also contains articles on topics trending in the news, updated by tens of thousands of volunteer editors as swiftly as the news breaks.

To investigate aspects of this phenomenon, such as the speed with which breaking news is covered on Wikipedia, the verifiability of information added over time, and the distribution of edits among Wikipedia’s editors, I selected an article for further analysis in the form of a dissertation.[1]

Comparing page views and daily edit counts for the article, highlight key elements in the story’s development. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The article selected was “Shooting of Michael Brown“, which covered the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by police officer Darren Wilson. The incident attracted much press attention fuelled by local protest in the suburb of St. Louis. I observed the article’s history until January 12, 2015.

The resulting data was split into two “peaks” in the development of this story: the initial media scramble after protests began in mid-August, and the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson for the teenager’s death in late November.[2] Each “peak” represented 500 individual “revisions” of the article in question. The use of peaks in this case allowed for cross-case analysis—that is, a direct comparison between two case studies.

Speed of editing

607 Journalists - editing speeds both peaks.pngGraphing the speed of editing across both peaks of development. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Notably, pageviews and edit rates didn’t line up as one might expect. Instead, there was a great flurry of edits a few days after the article was created, presumably as the editing community learned of the article’s existence or heard about the event. The speed of editing was incredibly fast during this initial period of rioting and press attention, though these speeds were highly inconsistent. The mean editing rate across this period was 18.57 edits per hour, more than eleven times the overall average for the article.

Media coverage, however, seems to have a much more acute impact on pageviews: upon Darren Wilson’s indictment decision in November, almost half a million people visited the article in just one day. A somewhat surprising observation was that this second peak resulted in much slower rates of editing. The mean for this period was just 7.21 edits per hour, which was two and a half times slower than in the first. It is also very inconsistent, mirroring the first peak—editing speeds varied widely throughout both peaks and were largely unpredictable.

In terms of text added to the article, the first peak—which was observed over a much shorter period of time—saw an average of 501.02 bytes of text added per hour, some 3.6 times quicker than the rate of the second peak. By then, however, the article was much longer and the causation can likely be that there wasn’t much left to add by that point.

Use of sources

To judge the article’s accuracy is a very difficult task, which would by its very nature be subjective and require an in-depth knowledge of what happened in Ferguson that afternoon. To this end, I instead looked at the verifiability of the article—specifically, the volume of sources per kilobyte of text, referred to for this study as the article’s “reference density”.

607 Journalists - reference densities per peak.png“Reference densities” over each peak. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Ten samples were taken systematically for this research from each peak, and their references tallied. This was used in conjunction with the page’s size in kilobytes to find the reference density.

In both peaks, the reference density steadily increased over time. It was significantly higher overall in the earlier peak, when the article was shorter and rapidly-changing information required more verification. This rise in reference density over time likely indicates Wikipedia editors’ desire to ensure information added is not removed as unverifiable.

The majority of sources used in the article were from publications which focus on print media. This is more obvious in the second peak than the first, where local newspaper The St. Louis Post-Dispatch became much more common among the article’s sources.

607 Journalists - locations of sources.pngOrigins of sources used within the article per peak. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Relatedly, it was discovered that a high volume of the sources were from media based in the state of Missouri, obviously local to the shooting location itself. The proportion falling into this category actually increased by the second peak, from just over 18 percent to just over a fifth of all sources. Other local sources which were regularly used in the article included the St. Louis American and broadcasters KTVI and KMOV.

It was the state of New York which provided the majority of sources, however; this seems to indicate that editors tend towards big-name, reputable sources such as the New York Times and USA Today, which both placed highly on ranking lists. Notably, the state of Georgia was almost exclusively represented by national broadcaster CNN, yet still made up around 10 percent of all sources used.

Range of contributors

Finally, the editing patterns of users were examined to judge the distribution of edits among a number of groups. To do this, users were placed into categories based on their rates of editing—which, for the purposes of this study, was defined as their mean edits per day. Categories were selected to divide editors as evenly as possible for the analysis, and six bots were excluded to prevent the skewing of results.

Edits/day Category Count % Count of which status % Status
40+ Power users 27 4.49% 20 74.07%
10–40 Highly active users 73 12.15% 38 52.05%
5–10 Very active users 67 11.15% 26 38.81%
1–5 Active users 105 17.47% 19 18.10%
0.1–1 Casual users 92 15.31% 4 4.35%
0.01–0.1 Infrequent users 62 10.32% 0 0%
<0.01 Very infrequent users 13 2.16% 0 0%
IPs Anonymous users 162 26.96% 0 0%
Total/average 601 100% 107 17.80%

Clearly, the majority of users in the highly active and power users brackets hold some kind of status, whether that be the “rollback” tool given out by administrators, or elected roles such as administrator or bureaucrat. This at least implies that more daily edits can translate roughly into experience or trust on the project.

Looking at data added per category, highly active users have been responsible for the vast majority of the total content added to the article—over half of the total. However, breaking it down into mean content added per edit for each category provided some intriguing results.

607 Journalists - content added per edit per experience category.pngMean content added per edit, in bytes, per experience category. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

While the highly active users take this crown too, it is a much closer race. Perhaps unintuitively, “casual” editors—those with fewer than one edit per day, but more than 0.1—added an average of 95.81 bytes per edit, and the category directly below that added 93.70 bytes per edit. This suggests that article editing is not just done by the heavily-active users on Wikipedia, but by a wide range of users with vastly different editing styles and experience.

Edits to the article were most commonly made by a very small group of users. Indeed, 58 percent of edits made to the article were by the top ten contributors, while over half of contributors made just one edit. Text added to the article followed the same pattern, though more pronounced: the same top ten contributed more than two-thirds of the content article content. This lends weight to theories that Wikipedia articles tend to be worked on by a core “team”, while other individual editors contribute with more minor edits and vandalism reversion.

Overall, the study shows that Wikipedia works on breaking news much like a traditional newsroom—verifiability is held in high regard, and a “core group” of editors tend to contribute a vast majority of the content. Editing rates, however, do not match up as obviously with peaks of media activity, which is worth investigating in future more qualitatively.

If you’re interested in reading the full thesis, it’s available from my website. For more academic research into Wikipedia, consider subscribing to the monthly Wikimedia Research newsletter.

Joe Sutherland, Wikimedia Foundation communications intern


    1. Others have done research into this area; their work, methods and outcomes heavily influenced this study. In particular, Brian Keegan‘s work was instrumental in guiding the direction for this research. His 2013 study into breaking news, co-authored with Darren Gergle and Noshir Contractor, covers a far wider range than this thesis did.
    2. The first peak depicted is the 500 edits made between 09:38 UTC on 16 August 2014 and 17:54 UTC on 18 August 2014 (a period of 2 days, 8 hours and 16 minutes); the second is between 00:57 UTC on 23 November 2014 and 22:36 UTC on 01 December 2014 (a period of 8 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes).


by Joe Sutherland at August 19, 2015 07:29 PM

August 18, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Content Translation updates from Wikimania 2015

Wikimania Translathon 20150718 162444.jpg

Content Translation session at Wikimania 2015. Photo by Amire80, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikimania 2015, the 11th edition of the annual gathering of Wikimedians from around the world, was recently held in Mexico City. The Wikimedia Foundation’s (WMF) Language Engineering team participated in the Hackathon and Wikimania sessions, hosting several talks and two translation workshops. The primary focus was the Content Translation project—interacting with users, understanding their issues, and raising awareness about this new article creation tool.

During the Hackathon and Wikimania, the Language Engineering team members met with Content Translation users. New users were introduced to the tool and they generally provided encouraging initial feedback. Deeper discussion revealed several issues, some of which were quickly investigated and resolved. The ‘translathon’ sessions on day two and three of Wikimania were well attended and some attendees created their first articles using Content Translation. On the first day, 21 new articles were created in just an hour by 16 participants. While several issues surfaced, the participants provided suggestions that would be helpful to better support article translation. The second translathon was conducted in Spanish and aimed at Central and South American languages. The main conference sessions were not recorded, but you can view the presentation slides.

Upcoming plans

The Language Engineering team follows a three month development cycle that allows us to plan and showcase the outcome alongside the larger departmental and organizational goals. The results from work done between April to June 2015 can be seen in the Quarterly Review presentation. Highlights included making Content Translation available as a beta-feature on all Wikipedias, making it easily accessible for users, and better representation of analytics.

Until end of September 2015, we plan to do the following:

  • Resolving blocking problems identified by the community to begin initial preparations in making Content Translation eventually usable as a non-beta tool.
  • The initiative to engage translators continues with newer ways to connect with users and to help them return and translate more articles.
  • The translated content being generated through Content Translation is an important asset for ongoing development in machine translation systems. Support for parallel corpora from Content Translation would be our contribution in this endeavour.
  • Extending support for mobile users is a key focus area for the Wikimedia Foundation. As part of the greater initiative, we will begin an initial exploration of how Content Translation can support this effort.


Interactions and testing sessions

More articles are being published each day with Content Translation. Photo by Pau Giner, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

In addition to our usual channels for communication, like the Content Translation talk page and Phabricator, we plan to host another online interaction session shortly. The last session was held in June 2015 simultaneously on Google Hangout and IRC. While we plan to follow a similar format this time, we are open to feedback on what can work best for our participants.

In addition, our UX interaction designer Pau Giner is hosting testing sessions over the next few weeks. Please sign up if you would like to participate in these sessions and provide inputs about the future features of Content Translations.

A round-up of activities from the Language team is available in our monthly report. For Content Translation, we now have a weekly newsletter of the new features and bug fixes.

Runa Bhattacharjee
Language Engineering (Editing)
Wikimedia Foundation

by Runa Bhattacharjee at August 18, 2015 04:54 PM

August 14, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

When countries disappear

Sigiriya frescoes.jpg

The Anuradhapura Kingdom, a former state in Sri Lanka (c. 377 BCE–1017), left several paintings and frescoes behind. This one, from Sigiriya, is the oldest and best preserved from that period. Photograph by Chamal N, public domain.

History shows that there is a long list of countries that have simply ceased to exist, but there is no one way to go about it. The Russian Empire dissolved in violence in 1917, and its successor state (the Soviet Union) gave way to present-day Russia in the 1990s. The modern-day split of Czechoslovakia was peaceful, while nearby Yugoslavia broke apart during a civil war into several new countries. The Republic of Texas was willfully annexed by the United States. The Republic of Vietnam was taken over by its northern counterpart; similarly, the Songhai Empire was briefly annexed by Morocco, and the Anuradhapura Kingdom of Sri Lanka was overtaken by armies from India.

The Songhai Empire once covered much of west Africa; it included Timbuktu, seen here. Engraving from Le Tour du Monde, public domain.

To cover this diverse set of geographical entities, the English Wikipedia has formed WikiProject Former countries. The project was created in 2004 and currently boasts 42 active editors; aside from the countries listed above, it includes several states that were critically important in world history, including Assyria, Sumer, the Mongol Empire, and Nazi Germany.

44 of the project’s articles have attained “featured” status, as determined by a peer review from editor colleagues. These include the encyclopedia’s coverage of the Byzantine and British Empires, both sprawling and continent-spanning, along with an entire series on the Brazilian monarchy of the nineteenth century—including the first and second emperors, and the latter’s wife, first son, second son. Another 77 articles are rated as “good.”

Last month, the Signpost, the English Wikipedia’s community-written news journal, interviewed two members of the former countries project about their background and goals for the future.

OwenBlacker noted that his grade school experiences with history as a topic were less than stellar, something that put him off for many years “until I discovered my uncle’s copy of The Times Atlas of World History and realised that learning more about history meant there were even more maps to look at—always a guilty pleasure. That helped me realise it wasn’t history I disliked, just the parts I [had been taught]. Since then I have read (and looked at maps) of history in great quantity.”

OwenBlacker and his fellow project member, MirkoS18, differed greatly in their choices of favorite topics. Owen chose pre-Napoleonic Europe, a topic in which wrote the good article Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy—a small, strangely shaped voting Imperial abbey of the Holy Roman Empire. Mirko—who hails from Croatia—focused on Yugoslavia. He noted that this was a very different choice from much of the project, as it occurred only recently, and he believes that “there is almost no one who would be emotionally distant and neutral. … [their objectives] are glorification or vilification.”

The project’s largest need is in article writing. Owen noted that their coverage of the Global South was sorely lacking and showed on articles like the Songhai Empire, “one of the largest empires in Islamic and African history,” but currently has a low article quality rating.

Ed ErhartEditorial intern

by Ed Erhart at August 14, 2015 11:11 PM

Sharing a million photographs

Dodo detail from Atlas de Zoologie.jpg
One millionth image—the head of a Dodo. Illustration from “Atlas de Zoologie” (1844) by Paul Gervais. Originally scanned by the Natural History Museum, London, public domain

Over the past three years, my volunteer time has been devoted to releasing free cultural and historical imagery on the Wikimedia Commons. My part-time hobby—relying on a cheap netbook and an old but trusty Macmini home desktop—has reached 1,000,000 diverse and high quality images for public reuse, carrying with it a massive long term educational impact. The milestone makes this a good moment to highlight a handful of interesting projects and gives an insight into the experience of being a Wikimedia Commons batch uploader, pointing to the methods used to help anyone interested in having a go.

Watercolour painting, India 1825. Painting by Los Angeles County Museum of Art, public domain.

Los Angeles County Museum of Public Art

The LACMA upload of 25,000 high resolution photographs of museum artwork was started in July 2013, and 500 volunteers have contributed to the categorization and reuse of images. The upload relied on a custom Python program to take information from the LACMA website and create the image page text, with some catalogue entries having several useful photographs of the same museum object. Most of the programming time was spent debugging how to get Japanese and Chinese characters used in the museum’s descriptions to display correctly on Commons. Anyone using Python to take data from international websites is going to face the challenge of changing formats between different web standards and languages.

As this was my first serious attempt to use Python scripts to release a large number of images, it took about three months of experimenting and testing before I felt safe enough to do a final run; I was helped by the “beta” version of Commons, which is a safe “non-production” space where your uploads and changes will not harm other projects.

A current experiment reusing these uploaded images, attempts to test the public impact of posting the collection to this Flickr group (using Flickr’s free programming interface). The experiment checks which images are most popular, or reused, compared to those hosted on Wikimedia Commons, and whether this form of sharing results in viewers following the links back to Commons. It is hoped to demonstrate the value of co-releasing Wikimedia Commons media with good quality metadata on Flickr and/or other free channels hosting image, audio and video.

A kiss celebrating “marriage equality decision day”, 26 June 2015. Photo by Elvert Barnes, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

LGBT Free Media Collective

The idea of the LGBT Free Media Collective was to encourage more uploads of LGBT-related free media of historic and cultural interest, as LGBT culture is under-represented on Wikimedia Commons; there are few archives of photographs with expired copyright that are relevant. The volunteer network and its IRC channel, which started in this 2012 event, was a precursor to formalizing the Wikimedia LGBT+ official user group and supporting the series of highly successful Wiki Loves Pride events around the world—an annual event that continues today.

Uploads included several thousand photographs from a large number of Flickr accounts, ensuring excellent global coverage of the LGBT Pride movement’s impact. Methods have included using the simple Flickr2commons tool through to custom uploads relying on the Flickr API.

If you have taken photographs of LGBT+ cultural events, this gives an easy way of sharing them and getting better public reuse than just keeping your best photographs on Flickr or Facebook.

Saint Mark, 1495. Photo by Wellcome Images, freely licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Medical history scans from Wellcome Images

At the end of 2014, 100,000 high resolution images from the Wellcome Library—an institution devoted to the history of medicine—were released on Wikimedia Commons after several meetings and discussions I had with the library over a period of two years. The library changed from defaulting to a non-commercial copyright restriction to allowing full free use for all of its scanned historic medical images. The in-person meetings had another benefit as well: when it came time to mass upload the images, they were kind enough to provide me with a hard disk with over 300 GB of files to avoid file-by-file manual downloads (along with their website’s bot-resisting formatting). For an upload of this size, it is possible for the Wikimedia Foundation to upload files directly. In this particular case, a disk was lost in the mail, so to avoid any other mishaps, I used my home broadband connection and netbook. They took around two months (eight weeks) to upload.

You can read more about this project in my blog post from last January. More recently, Wikimedia UK gave the Wellcome Library a “Wiki
partnership of 2015” award, partially in recognition of the importance
of this project.

Waterless toilets, Valley View University, Ghana. Photo by Wolfgang Berger, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)

This upload is still ongoing: it runs a couple of times a year on request as more photographs are published on SuSanA’s Flickr account. Over 10,000 photographs have been released on Wikimedia Commons, with over 200 volunteers helping to categorize them. This partnership is a good example of how Wikimedia volunteers can work to the benefit of unrelated organizations, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), charities etc. at zero-cost, increase the educational value of Wikimedia Commons, and help illustrate health related Wikipedia articles. SuSanA is a loose network or alliance of organizations active in the field of sustainable sanitation. The photographs are for example showing how to build low-cost hygienic and sustainable toilet facilities in developing countries, ensuring that some of the poorest people in the world are safer from disease, have access to unpolluted water and recycle their excreta to create more fertile soil for farming.

You can find the source code for free reuse here on github.

Golden Gate Bridge, 1984. Photo by Library of Congress, public domain.

Historic American Buildings Survey

The largest single upload project happened when I was exploring different high-quality photograph collections in the Library of Congress archives.

The HABS archive is maintained by the U.S. National Parks Service, being a continuous set of survey records and photographs spanning over a hundred years for buildings and sites of historic interest in America. 300,000 photographs were uploaded, along with their map coordinates, with significant testing going into ensuring suitable categories were added for the different sites, along with most of the information carried over from the Library of Congress catalogues. Fortunately there is a consistent system of site numbering (the National Register of Historic Places) and this reduces confusion for how best to name or structure categories.

The GLAMwiki toolset was newly available to perform the huge number of image file uploads, so this became a flagship example of how large uploads could use the tool. Most of the “real work” is structuring the metadata that goes to create the image text pages, but not having to pass all the images through my home broadband is a great improvement!

The images have been useful and popular, especially due to the cross-over with Wiki Loves Monuments, so that new photographs can be compared with archive shots from decades earlier. An amazing 1,400 Commons volunteers have supported the project with categorization and improvements.


Getting to a million educational images—which is 4% of all of the files on Wikimedia Commons—has been a personal marathon. I have been busy creating new tools, learning how to write in Python, navigating the Wikimedia Commons API and improving project guidelines. Still, this is a hugely rewarding hobby; you could have the chance to become part of an open knowledge community, the experience of working with major educational and cultural institutions, and seeing your volunteer time have direct outcomes to improve educational resources world-wide. For these selfish reasons, I hope this is just my first million!

If these case studies have whetted your appetite for contributing to Wikimedia Commons, there is a set of helpful links here. When you are ready to try uploading larger collections of files, please first read the guide to batch uploading to avoid frequent pitfalls!

/ Ashley Van Haeften
Wikimedia Commons volunteer

Editor’s note: this post was updated after publication due to community comments.

by Ashley Van Haeften (Fæ) at August 14, 2015 06:20 AM

August 13, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia Highlights, July 2015

Wikimedia highlights, July 2015 lead image.jpg

Here are the highlights from the Wikimedia blog in July 2015.

Konkani Wikipedia goes live

File:Darshan Kandolkar talks about Konkani Wikipedia.webm

Wikimedian Darshan Kandolkar shares his experience of contributing to Konkani Wikipedia. Video in Konkani. Video by Wikimedia India, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Goan Konkani Wikipedia went live on June 18 after being in the Incubator for around nine years. The project went through many challenges, but the hard work of the editor community, mostly from the Indian state of Goa, paid off in bringing the project out of incubation.

I have a dream to start a project for the freedom fighters of Goa and involve a diverse set of people, from students to journalists and columnists. I also want to build partnership with educational institutions so we could engage with the students for a longer run and the existing Konkani community could mentor them.

Darshon Kandolkar.

“Becoming involved in making the changes you want to see”: Leigh Thelmadatter

Leigh Thelmadatter-7697.jpg
Leigh Thelmadatter, photographed for the 2012 Wikimedia Foundation fundraising campaign. Photo by Karen Sayre for the Wikimedia Foundation, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

A university teacher and Wikipedia volunteer, Leigh Thelmadatter has helped write articles on topics ranging from Mexican food and drinks to biographies and churches. Today, she works with students to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of Mexico and its culture, and travels across the country in search of information worth sharing.

I think that Wikimedia and similar movements offer at least the idea that we can make more information available more easily to more people.

Leigh Thelmadatter.

Wikidata, coming soon to a menu near you

Wikidata tastydata.svg
The logotype for the Wikidata Menu Challenge. Logo by Offnfopt, freely licensed under CC0 1.0

At Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), we like food, traveling, and open data. So we started thinking: What can we could do to make life a bit easier for the frequent flyer? With help from Wikidata, members decided to host a menu challenge for restaurants, around the world, to expand their menus with key information. Participants used Wikidata to provide labels, translations, and images.

Wikidata is a collection of structured data that can be edited by computers and people alike. A main focus is of course Wikipedia, but the possibilities are unlimited, which was what we wanted to show with this project.

Wikimedians urge the EU to protect freedom of panorama

Images of the London Eye can be shared online under freedom of panorama rights. Photo by Kham Tran, feely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Recently, the European Parliament amended recommendations that places restrictions across all European Union member states. The Wikimedia community has mobilized in response.

Update (July 13): On July 9, the European Parliament voted on the Reda Report. The paragraph addressing the Freedom of Panorama was ultimately deleted from the report. This means that for now, nothing has changed: countries that had Freedom of Panorama rights under their domestic laws still have them. Countries that lacked Freedom of Panorama rights under their domestic laws still do not have them.

ACLU files amended complaint on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation

Albert V Bryan Federal District Courthouse - Alexandria Va.jpg
Blind Justice stands with scales aloft over the Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. Photo by Tim Evanson, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

On March 10th, the Wikimedia Foundation joined a lawsuit against the NSA over its upstream surveillance program. A hearing is scheduled for late September on the government’s recently filed motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Get the latest Wikipedia updates easily with IFTTT

IFTTT Logo.svg
If This Then That, or IFTTT, introduces new tools to make connecting with Wikipedia’s public data simpler than ever. Logo by IFTTT, public domain.

Wikipedia’s new Channel on IFTTT makes it easier than ever to share free knowledge. Recipes include:

  • Picture of the day: An alert with the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day
  • Article of the day: An interesting article from Wikipedia, chosen daily from among Wikipedia’s best articles
  • Word of the day: The definition of the Wiktionary word of the day
  • New edits to a Wikipedia article: New edits on any Wikipedia page (similar to your watchlist on Wikipedia)
  • New edits from a specific user: New contributions from a specific Wikipedia user
  • New edit with a hashtag in the edit summary: Watch for a hashtag in the edit summary (try a hashtag for your next #editathon!)
  • Article updated in a category: New edits to any Wikipedia page in a category
  • Articles added to a category: Each time an article is added to a category

Andrew ShermanDigital Communications InternWikimedia Foundation

Photo Montage Credits:“Darshan Kandolkar talks about Konkani Wikipedia.webm” by Wikimedia India, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.; “File:Leigh Thelmadatter-7697.jpg” by Karen Sayre for the Wikimedia Foundation, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; “London-Eye-2009.JPG” by Kham Tran, feely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.; “IFTTT Logo.svg” by IFTTT, public domain; “File:Albert_V_Bryan_Federal_District_Courthouse_-_Alexandria_Va.jpg” by Tim Evanson, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.; Collage by Andrew Sherman.

Information For versions in other languages, please check the wiki version of this report, or add your own translation there!

by Andrew Sherman at August 13, 2015 10:27 PM

The Hunt for Tirpitz

Bundesarchiv DVM 10 Bild-23-63-40, Schlachtschiff "Tirpitz", Stapellauf.jpg
The German battleship Tirpitz shortly before being launched into the sea. Upon entering service in 1940, it was one of the largest and most modern battleships in the world. Photo from the German Federal Archives, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

During World War II, the German battleship Tirpitz was a major threat to Allied convoys travelling across the North Atlantic and Arctic Sea to the Soviet Union. Tirpitz was one of the largest and most modern battleships afloat, and the massive effort which was required to find and sink its sister ship Bismarck in May 1941 convinced the Allies that it needed to be destroyed. This proved very difficult, however, as from 1942 Tirpitz was stationed in well-protected bases in Norwegian fjords.


The location of Kaafjord in northern Norway; Sweden is to the south. Map by NordNordWest, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

During 1942 and 1944, the British repeatedly attempted to attack Tirpitz at its bases. Several raids by land-based bombers flying from the UK were unsuccessful, and an attempt to attack hits with manned torpedoes failed at the last moment due to technical problems. The task of attacking Tirpitz became even harder once it was moved to Kaafjord in the remote far north of Norway, but in September 1943 a raid conducted by British midget submarines (Operation Source) inflicted heavy damage. However, it survived this attack, and the British decided that the next-best option was to attack it with the Fleet Air Arm, using aircraft flying from aircraft carriers.

This led to a series of operations between April and August 1944, of which only the first—Operation Tungsten—inflicted any significant damage. Mascot was much less successful, and involved a somewhat farcical attack in which the British pilots attempted to drop bombs on the ship by aiming at flashes from Tirpitz‘s guns through a thick German-laid smokescreen. Goodwood involved four separate raids over a week in August, but once again ended in failure due to smokescreens over the battleship during each of the attacks. Despite the lack of results, each of these attacks was a major battle involving thousands of personnel on both sides.


Over the last two years I’ve developed three featured-class articles about these unsuccessful attacks, but how did an Australian end up writing about little-known events which took place in the far north of Norway 70 years ago and involved very few Australians?

Ironically, my main inspiration for writing about this topic came from a museum located even further away from Norway—when visiting the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, I was surprised to learn that New Zealanders made up a large proportion of the FAA’s aircrew during World War II (about 17% of the airmen involved in Operation Tungsten were from the country). The museum’s dramatic diorama depicting British Fairey Barracuda aircraft dive-bombing Tirpitz in a fjord interested me as well; I’d written articles on other little-known carrier aircraft attacks on important naval bases (like the Attack on Yokosuka) and World War II in Norway (Black Friday [1945] and Action of 28 January 1945), and recently reviewed a book about the British attacks on Tirpitz.

When combined, this looked like a topic I’d want to work on, and my initial research confirmed this. The series of British raids were major efforts which involved the bulk of the Home Fleet (the Royal Navy’s main combat force, stationed in the UK) and exposed the airmen to extreme danger from the hostile Norwegian climate and formidable German defences. Moreover, despite the British forces being considerably more powerful than the German units stationed at Kaafjord, they were unable to do much damage due to the limitations of the fleet’s aircraft, bad weather, and some ingenuous German tactics.

Deeper research turned up more fascinating facts—for instance, the US Navy transferred an aircraft carrier from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean to allow Operation Tungsten to go ahead, and one of the Royal Navy’s carriers was so worn out it was withdrawn from service and retired halfway through Operation Goodwood!

My kingdom for a (comprehensive) source!

A sailor aboard HMS FURIOUS chalks a message on a bomb slung beneath an aircraft due to take part in the attack on the TIRPITZ in Alten Fjord, Norway, 3 April 1944. A22640.jpg
Royal Navy crewman Bob Cotcher used chalk to write a message on a 1,600 pound (730 kg) bomb earmarked for Tirpitz. Photo from the Imperial War Museum, public domain.

My main challenge in writing these articles was the absence of a single source which covers all of the attacks in detail. While there are several histories which cover all the Allied attacks on Tirpitz, the amount of information they provide on each of the operations varies considerably. For instance, Mark Bishop’s recent book Target Tirpitz only goes into detail on Operation Tungsten and skims over the other attacks, and John Sweetman’s Tirpitz: Hunting the Beast is very useful for Operations Tungsten and (to a lesser extent) Goodwood, but only briefly mentions Operation Mascot. Stephen Roskill’s venerable official history of the Royal Navy in World War II also provided a useful overview of the attacks and the strategy which guided them, but was weak on the details of the individual operations.

As a result, developing these articles to FA standard was only possible by consulting many specialised sources. I’m fortunate to live in a city boasting several libraries with excellent military history collections, and I trawled their shelves on weekends. This really paid off—for instance, the Operation Mascot article probably couldn’t have come together without V.E. Tarrant’s rather obscure The Last Year of the Kriegsmarine, which provided the only detailed account of this attack I could find. Similarly, specialised works on battleships, naval aviation, and the naval war in the Arctic allowed me to fill in important details. Given the importance of these obscure works, I suspect that there are only a smallish number cities in the world—and possibly no other city in Australia—where it might have been possible for an amateur historian like me to develop articles on this topic without resorting to inter-library loans and/or expensive purchases.

Something that surprised me was the value of the British official history British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, which was published during the 1980s and 1990s, in developing the articles. By assessing British wartime intelligence reports against what actually occurred, this work provided an important reality check at several points, and was particularly valuable when using sources which pre-dated the disclosure of the Allied success in breaking the German codes in the late 1970s. As a bonus, its authors had a good eye for interesting snippets about the military operations against Tirpitz which allowed me to inject some extra “colour” into the articles. This experience illustrated the value of reading widely around the topic, and I’d strongly recommend consulting this work when writing articles on World War II in Europe.

Despite these positive experiences, I wasn’t able to fill in some significant details in the articles. Most importantly, no source went into detail on the German experiences of the operations, with the available coverage generally being focused on Tirpitz and its crew. As a result, I couldn’t pin down the strength of the German anti-aircraft and air force units deployed to protect Tirpitz, or the casualties they sustained—which appear to have been heavy in several of the attacks. Second, while this part of Norway is sparsely populated, it would also have been good to have described the experiences of local civilians. Finally, while various unreliable or semi-reliable sources discussed commemorations of the raids, it was very difficult to source material on them to featured article standard.

Writing the articles, and some reflections

Commonwealth War Graves section Tromsø cemetery 2013.jpg
Part of the cost of war: one of Manxruler’s photos of the Commonwealth War Graves section of Tromsø’s main cemetery, where several of the Allied airmen who were killed in the raids on Tirpitz are buried. Photo by Manxruler, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

File:1944-11-22 RAF Sinks Tirpitz.ogv

A Universal Newsreel in 1944 led with the sinking of Tirpitz, which after the failures of Tungsten, Mascot, and Goodwind was eventually accomplished by the Royal Air Force. Video by Universal Newsreel, public domain.

I developed the three articles in their chronological order, starting by improving the already-existent Operation Tungsten article and ending by creating and developing an article on Operation Goodwood. This worked well, as I was able to re-use text and references in each successive article. I also adjusted the level of detail on the background and aftermath of the operations as appropriate—Operation Tungsten has detailed coverage of the background to these attacks, Operation Mascot discusses the several abortive raids which followed Tungsten in in April and May 1944, and Operation Goodwood goes into greater detail on the successful attacks by land-based Royal Air Force bombers which followed the Royal Navy’s failure to seriously damage Tirpitz. To improve readers’ ability to navigate this topic, I also created a List of Allied attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz article which provides a summary of the various operations.

The process of submitting each of the articles to Good Article, A-class and featured reviews also helped guide their development. The feedback from reviewers highlighted areas I needed to pay close attention to which were common to all articles, such as the need to ensure that the terminology used was suitable for readers who don’t have prior knowledge of the broad topic areas the articles cover. I also found that I could revisit the older articles as I went along and found new sources or useful facts I’d missed, with the happy result that the Tungsten and Mascot articles are—hopefully—in better shape than when they passed their featured article nominations!

I’d also like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Manxruler, a Norwegian local and Wikipedia editor, who took photos of the graves of Allied airmen at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Tromsø and added some additional details to the text. This illustrated the power of Wikipedia to connect interested editors in different parts of the world to work towards a common cause.

Overall, I’d recommend the experience of writing a string of articles on related topics, and now understand why some editors tend to use this as their main editing style. It’s an efficient way to produce high-quality articles, and provides a great opportunity to write about a topic in detail. While I was worried about getting bored with the topic or burnt out, the small number of articles, fairly self-contained nature of the individual battles and the sheer novelty of the topic (aircraft carriers attacking a battleship in a fjord!) kept me interested, and I was pleased with the positive response from reviewers, which suggests that other editors also found the topic worthwhile.

I was also very pleased that Operation Tungsten appeared on Wikipedia’s front page to mark the 70th anniversary of the raid on 3 April 2014, which went a long way to making the whole project worthwhile.

Nick Dowling (Nick-D)
English Wikipedia editor

This post was originally published in the Bugle, the monthly newsletter of the English Wikipedia’s Military history WikiProject. It was edited and expanded for publication on the Wikimedia Blog.

Barracudas flying over a fjord shortly before attacking the battleship Tirpitz during Operation Tunsten IWM A22631.jpg
British Barracuda aircraft flying over a fjord shortly before attacking Tirpitz during Operation Tungsten on 3 April 1944. Photo by Royal Navy official photographer, public domain.

by Nick Dowling at August 13, 2015 03:13 AM

August 12, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

News on Wikipedia: Google reshuffles into Alphabet, Japan remembers, and more

News on Wikipedia lead image for the week of August 10.png

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Google to reorganise

Googleplex-Patio-Aug-2014.JPGGoogle’s announcement came as a shock to the tech industry. Image by Jijithecat, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

California-based Google announced plans to reorganise their operations under a new umbrella organization, Alphabet Inc., on August 10. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will serve as CEO and President, respectively, of Alphabet, while Sundar Pichai is set to become CEO of Google. Some of the new organization’s subsidiaries will include Google Inc, Calico, Google Ventures, Google Capital, Google X and Nest Labs. Alphabet will continue to trade using Google’s ticker symbols. The announcement was greeted with surprise in the tech press.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Alphabet Inc., Google

Japan remembers

HiroshimaPeaceBell7129.jpgThe Bell of Peace in Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, serves as a reminder of the incident. Image by Fg2, in the public domain.

Japan this week commemorated the atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago on August 6 and August 9. The bombings, arguably the most infamous incidents in the Pacific War, took place following Japan’s refusal to agree to Allied demands for unconditional surrender following the surrender of Nazi Germany two months previous. The bombings marked the only two occassions where nuclear weapons have been used against human targets, and killed at least 190,000 people in the two cities. There is still debate on whether the bombings were ethically justified.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

New Suez Canal opens

USS America (CV-66) in the Suez canal 1981.jpgThe Suez Canal has been a vital naval passageway for almost 150 years; here, a US aircraft carrier navigates the canal in 1981. Image by W. M. Welch of the U.S. Navy, in the public domain.

An expansion to the Suez Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, was opened on August 6. The extension, dubbed the New Suez Canal, adds a new “lane” for ships to pass each other in opposite directions, something not previously possible due to the narrow nature of the canal. The development should cut ships’ waiting times from 11 hours to 3 hours, and almost double the daily capacity of the canal. Six new tunnels are planned for underneath the canal to connect the Sinai peninsula to the rest of Egypt. The budget of 60 billion Egyptian pounds ($8.4 billion) was funded largely by citizens’ public subscription.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: New Suez Canal

Typhoon Soudelor makes landfall

Taipei after Typhoon Soudelor 2015 13.jpgTyphoon Soudelor ripped trees from the ground as it passed over Taiwan. Image by FramaKa, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Typhoon Soudelor made landfall over Hualien, Taiwan on August 7 as a Category 3-equivalent typhoon. Around 4.85 million households lost power at the storm’s peak, and eight people are now known to have died in the country. The storm spread to eastern China the next day, resulting in the heaviest rains in over a century in parts of the country. 21 people are known to have died, and several are still missing. Altogether, some $1.38 billion worth of damage was caused by the typhoon, which has since degraded to a tropical depression as it passes over China.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Typhoon Soudelor (2015)

North Korea moves clocks back

The statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang (april 2012).jpgNorth Korea argues the move is a step away from imperialism. Image by J.A. de Roo, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

North Korea announced on August 5 that the country will move clocks back half an hour to “Pyongyang Time” at midnight on Saturday, August 15. The Korean peninsula originally made use of UTC+0830, but upon annexation by the Empire of Japan in 1910, they moved to UTC+0900 to match Japan Standard Time. North Korea say the move back thirty minutes is a step away from “imperialism” imposed upon the country by Japan. The intended date of change, August 15, is known as Jogukhaebangui nal (“Fatherland Liberation Day”) in North Korea, celebrating independence from Japan.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Pyongyang Time

Photo montage credits: “Googleplex-Patio-Aug-2014.JPG” by Jijithecat, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0; “File:Taipei after Typhoon Soudelor 2015 13.jpg” by FramaKa, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.; “The statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang (april 2012).jpg” by J.A. de Roo, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.; Image by W. M. Welch of the U.S. Navy, in the public domain; “HiroshimaPeaceBell7129.jpg” by Fg2, in the public domain; Collage by JSutherland (WMF)

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe SutherlandCommunications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at August 12, 2015 09:36 PM

August 11, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

My father’s railroad photographs now benefit the world, free of charge

Plymouth, MI C&O Jul 1977 10-31.jpg
Michael Barera’s father and grandfather were both prolific railroad photographers, and now their imagery is accessible to the world. Here, the Chessie Steam Special with ex-Reading Railroad #2101 pauses at Plymouth, Michigan (July 1977). Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Once when I was young, growing up in the 1990s, my father pulled his collection of railroad slides out from the basement, set up his projector, and shared a glimpse into American railway history with our family. I was too young to remember the slides distinctly, but I do remember being really impressed by them.

Many years later, a sequence of seemingly unrelated events would lead me back to these slides and a vision for digitizing them. In 2013, while I was the Wikipedian in Residence at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, I met Edward Vielmetti for a conference panel on the relationship between wikis and libraries. Before the panel, he introduced me to ArborWiki, a LocalWiki for all things related to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Then, while I was attending an ArborWiki meetup in 2014, I met David Erdody, who runs an analog-to-digital media conversion service called A2Digital. After learning that he had the equipment and expertise necessary to digitize slides, I immediately thought back to my father’s collection and the possibility of digitizing it.

An Ann Arbor Railroad Steam Special in Ann Arbor, Michigan (circa 1950). Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The slides themselves were taken both by my father (David) and his father (my grandfather, Lawrence). Most were created in the Midwestern United States, especially Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, chiefly during the 1960s and 1970s (although one photograph of an Ann Arbor Railroad Steam Special dates back to circa 1950). Their featured subjects are largely passenger trains, and due to their dates of creation they document both the last decade of private passenger rail service in the United States and the early years of Amtrak.

According to my father, the majority of the photographs were taken by my grandfather, who was an avid amateur photographer; however, both my father and my grandfather would often go railfanning together, making it impossible to discern who took each individual photograph in most cases. For this reason, all of the digitized photographs credit “Lawrence and David Barera” as the photographer. However, because my father is my grandfather’s legal heir, he controlled all of the copyrights to the entire collection, including for those photographs taken by his father.

I eventually decided to have the slides digitized as a Father’s Day gift for my Dad, after which I agreed to terms with Erdody and handed off all of the slides to him. Initially, I thought about this project as simply a way to make the slides conveniently accessible to my father, and after receiving the digital surrogates from Erdody I began uploading them to Flickr for this purpose in May 2014. While doing this, I realized that there was tremendous potential for the further sharing of these digitized photographs, so I asked my father if he would be willing to release them under a Creative Commons license so I could also upload them to Wikimedia Commons. He graciously agreed to this proposal and released them freely under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, which is conveniently supported by Flickr.

Chicago South Shore and South Bend interurban #102 street running in South Bend, Indiana (August 1962). Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

My father’s motivation for freely licensing these images was rooted in the fact that his slides had been underused prior to their digitization; in his own words, they had been “tucked away with other family artifacts” and only ever brought out of storage “every dozen years or so”. Further explaining his rationale, he noted that “I was proud of the quality of most of the photos, and thought there was no better way to honor the work of my father than to make his photos available for public use.”

In less than a year since they were uploaded, my father’s donation of 146 original images (now 151 total files, including retouched derivatives) to Wikimedia Commons has certainly benefited the Wikimedia community, as over 10% have already been added to Wikipedia articles (chiefly but not exclusively on English Wikipedia). Interestingly but not surprisingly, my father’s decision to freely license these images has also benefited him directly in the form of both subject identification and color correction, largely thanks to Wikimedians Mackensen and MagentaGreen, respectively. By voluntarily releasing his collection of railroad slides into the commons, my father has benefited from the volunteered efforts of other users while also enriching the content of both Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia.

An Amtrak RTG Turboliner at Ann Arbor, Michigan (May 1975). Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In light of my experience with this digitization project, I believe that motivations for freely licensing older analog personal photographs are very similar to those for contemporary digital photographs, including the motivations that catalyzed my own personal photographic contributions to Wikimedia Commons back in the mid to late 2000s. The economics of their creation appear to be essentially the same, necessitating only a camera and the desire and ability to take photographs, often as a hobby; I believe that this makes the amateur analog photographer’s decision to freely release his or her images very similar to the equivalent decision made by contemporary amateur digital photographers.

The major challenge, however, is the cost and equipment required to digitize these images before they can be uploaded or freely licensed. While the cost is not insignificant, it was not prohibitive in my case—$0.50 per slide, which made it a feasible and affordable gift idea.

From my personal experience I would certainly recommend A2Digital, although according to Erdody it is a “strictly local service”; while he told me that he would be willing to “receive materials by mail from anywhere”, he also described the idea of mailing slides or similar analog materials back and forth for digitization as “very risky” (emphasis in the original). As a protective measure, he recommends that his customers deliver their materials to him by hand, which is precisely what I did. While this worked perfectly well for me as an Ann Arbor resident, it simply will not suffice for the rest of the world.

The Santa Fe‘s Grand Canyon Limited at Joliet, Illinois (August 1963). Photo by Lawrence and David Barera, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Due to the fragility of the medium in question, successfully digitizing slides nonetheless requires, as Erdody terms it, “a grassroots solution”. Asking your local library or historical society about how they digitize slides or negatives is probably the best place to start. Although not terribly common, according to Erdody, some libraries do provide lists of their digitization vendors; an example is the state-run Library of Michigan in Lansing, which maintains this webpage on the subject.

Perhaps the easiest way to locate such a service, however, is to simply search the Internet for “slide digitization” and the name of your city, town, or the nearest metropolitan area. However you find a slide digitizer, I’d highly recommend that you explore the possibility of digitizing any slides you may have of potential interest to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

In terms of the final results in my case, I think that my father said it best: “I know my Dad would be pleased and proud to know that his work was finally being enjoyed and appreciated by railfans (and others) all over the world.”

Michael Barera
English Wikipedia editor

This blog post was originally published in the Signpost, a news journal about the English Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community. It was lightly edited and several images removed for publication on the Wikimedia Blog.

by Michael Barera at August 11, 2015 11:06 PM

Wikipedia is better equipped to deal with systemic bias than traditional publishers

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Atmosphere and Environment XII (1970). Sculpture by Louise Nevelson. Photo by Smallbones, public domain.

In 2010, the artists Ditte Ejlerskov and EvaMarie Lindahl contacted Taschen, a book publisher, to point out that out of 97 volumes published in the Basic Art series, only five included women: Tamara de Lempicka, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jeanne-Claude (who shares a volume and a Wikipedia article with her collaborator and husband Christo).

Taschen asked the pair about which artists they had omitted and should include in the series. That particular artists would be omitted through oversight or happenstance is reasonable, but that one of the world’s leading publishers of art books is completely unaware of their major omissions is startling, as any art aficionado could instantly produce at least a short list of omissions.

Ejlerskov and Lindahl produced a list of 100. This list was the basis for their exhibition last year at the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden called About: The Blank Pages. They assembled the 97 Basic Art books on two bookshelves, accompanied by covers they had created for each of the women on their list, covering books of blank pages.

The Swan (No. 16) (1915). Painting by Hilma af Klint, public domain.

The Basic Art series is not the canon. Canonicity or artistic excellence is certainly one criterion for inclusion, but artists are also clearly included on the basis of popularity, artistic influence, or representation of a particular historical moment, so one cannot argue that particular women were excluded from the list because their work is not as good as male artists included in the series.

Even the most fervent adherents of Basic Art subjects Norman Rockwell or Keith Haring will not attempt to claim that they belong in the same rank as Michelangelo. One can quibble about many of the names on Ejlerskov and Lindahl’s list (or ones omitted from the list, such as Remedios Varo, Tracey Emin, Kara Walker, or Sarah Goodridge), but one cannot seriously argue that artists like Mary Cassatt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judy Chicago, and Cindy Sherman do not far outstrip some in the Basic Art series like Friedensreich Hundertwasser or Franz Stuck or the preposterous Fernando Botero in terms of artistic merit, influence, historical importance, and popularity.

Like the Basic Art series, Wikipedia serves an introductory audience, and in this particular area, Wikipedia succeeds where Taschen has failed. Of the 100 names on the list, which I’ve linked in my userspace, only two artists were omitted from the English Wikipedia when I wrote this editorial: the Canadian artist Helen Frances Gregor appears to be absent from Wikipedia entirely, and Russian painter Nadia Khodasevich Leger is mentioned a few times in passing as the wife of Fernand Léger, but not as an artist in her own right.

Wikipedia has many issues with systemic and gender bias, but we also have the ability to address those biases in a way that a traditional publisher like Taschen cannot; we can question and argue about those omissions while Taschen cannot recognize its own errors. We can form projects like Art + Feminism and WikiProject Women artists to systematically address these issues and improve our own coverage, while Taschen requires publicity before it can even begin to do so.

It is another testament to the ability of Wikipedia to respond to omissions like these that even before this editorial was published, an enterprising editor created articles on the missing artists—articles that I expect will be featured on Wikipedia’s Did You Know within a week.

Robert Fernandez (Gamaliel)
Signpost editor-in-chief
English Wikipedia editor

This blog post was originally published in the Signpost, a news journal about the English Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community. It was edited and several images removed for publication on the Wikimedia Blog. The views expressed may not reflect any official opinions of the Wikimedia Foundation.

by Robert Fernandez at August 11, 2015 02:42 PM

Wikimedia Foundation Quarterly Report, April–June 2015

Image by Wikimedia Foundation, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s report for last quarter gives an overview of how we fared on 118 goals by 35 different teams, alongside some key overall metrics.
Download the PDF version (2 MB) or read it as a wiki page.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s quarterly report for the fourth quarter of the 2014/15 fiscal year (April-June) has been published as a PDF on Wikimedia Commmons, was presented in our monthly Metrics and Activities meeting yesterday and is now also available as a wiki page.

PDF by Wikimedia Foundation, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

This is the third report since we switched from a monthly cycle, to align with our quarterly goal setting process. The report’s purpose is to help our movement and supporters understand how we spend our time, and what we accomplish. We are continuing to optimize the report’s format and the organization’s quarterly review process that the report is based on, to bring you better information at a lower overhead for the teams that take out time from their work to tell you how they have been doing.

This issue includes some new pieces of information, e.g. the approximate size of each team (in FTE, on average during this quarter), and for each objective, the number of team members who were involved with a significant amount of their time. The overall metrics scorecard now contains new, more reliable uptime numbers for both readers and contributors.

As before, we are including an overview slide summarizing successes and misses across all teams, broken down by department. In a mature 90 day goal setting process, the “sweet spot” is for about 75% of goals to be a success. Organizations that are meeting 100% of their goals are not typically setting aggressive goals. In this quarter, 87 of the 118 objectives were met (74%).

The report’s format is still evolving (as is the quarterly goals review process), and we welcome feedback here in the comments or on Meta-wiki.

Terence Gilbey, Chief Operating Officer, Wikimedia Foundation
Tilman Bayer, Senior Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation

by Tilman Bayer and Terence Gilbey at August 11, 2015 02:41 PM

August 09, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Using Wikipedia to preserve indigenous languages of Colombia

Encuentro de Activistas Digitales de Lenguas Indígenas - Colombia 2015 - 3.JPG
The group of the participants. Photo by Diego F. Gómez, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The User Group Wikimedistas de Colombia gathered this past June in Bogotá, Colombia, to begin discussions on the ways Wikipedia can be used to document and share endangered indigenous languages in the country. Indigenous language speakers came from all over Colombia to share their experiences, knowledge, and resources to help.

Colombia is a multicultural country where at least 65 indigenous languages are still spoken, besides two creoles (palenquero and raizal) and romaní. The problem we face is that indigenous languages are only considered official languages in their respective territories of the country. If an indigenous speaker wants to pursue education outside of their native region, they more often than not have to head into the cities, where Spanish will be the official language. Furthermore, media, internet technologies, and most other forms of communication take place in Spanish, meaning native indigenous language speakers use their native tongue less and less. In fact, some indigenous groups have only a select few native language speakers remaining.

With the issue only growing, gatherings of indigenous language speakers have become quite common in Colombia as a way to find solutions to keeping these languages alive. The Wikimedistas de Colombia, however, brought something new into the conversation. This marks the first indigenous language gathering in which digital activism and new technological tools are being introduced as a way to preserve these languages.

Recognized as an official user group in June 2014, the Wikimedistas de Colombia, banded together with 15 digital activists of indigenous languages and a chapter member from Wikimedia Venezuela to participate in a talk and workshop over the course of two days. The chapter member from Venezuela served to bridge the gap between the countries, serving as a native speaker of Wayuu (a language shared between Colombian and Venezuela) and one of the editors at the Wayuu Wikipedia Incubator. The event was organized by several institutions dedicated to improving digital resources and preserving Latin American culture, including Global Voices, the Caro and Cuervo Institute, Muysccubun, and Hivos.

The first talk was led by me, Sahaquiel9102, and introduced Wikipedia, the movement, and the current work done by Wikipedians in the area. I also proposed a few ideas on how to use Wikipedia’s structure and capacity to curate, share, and preserve knowledge in indigenous languages.

All attendees were also asked to contribute to the talk and a workshop during the two-day meeting. Participants brainstormed a few potential impacts Wikipedia could have on the indigenous languages of Colombia, including the use of the site as a way to help younger generations of indigenous language speakers access articles and media in their own languages. This would help bridge the gap between indigenous languages and education, where Spanish dominates the classroom as the spoken language.

Left to right: Frank Ballesteros (Baiji) and Juan Sebastian Quintero (Sahaquiel9102) from Wikimedistas de Colombia, and Leonardi Fernández (Leonfd1992) from Wikimedia Venezuela. Photo by Sahaquiel9102, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

During the workshop, attendees were encouraged to begin thinking about ways to put this idea into action, the Incubator being the principal solution offered. (The Incubator is where potential Wikimedia project wikis can be developed, arranged, and tested before being launched). A demonstration featured two projects that have now been developed in the Incubator: The Wayuu and the Nasa Yuwe Wikipedias. The workshop aimed to give a basic tutorial on how to edit Wikipedia using the wiki-code and the Visual Editor, upload photos and media to Commons, and illustrated how the use of open licensing helps to keep knowledge free for everybody to use.

Digital activists and Wikimedians alike were encouraged to continue adding to the Wayuu and the Nasa Yuwe incubator projects and keep brainstorming more ideas for future collaboration. Another meeting is planned for next year to keep these conversations going.

Wikimedistas de Colombia plans to be a part of the next meeting, and we look forward to building new relationships with other individuals who might be interested in using Wikipedia to preserve languages and cultural heritage of Colombia.

Here is the list of participants:

Name Place Language
Abel Antonio Santos Arara, Leticia Ticuna
Aurelio Mavisoy Chindoy Sibundoy, Putumayo Kamëntsá
Deiver Edisson Canticus Guanga Nulpe Medio, Ricaurte, Nariño Awa
Duvan Calambas Almendra Cajibio, Kurak Chak, Cauca Namtrik
Ever Kuiru Naforo Puerto Milán, La Chorrera, Amazonas Mɨnɨka
Hilda Tandioy Chindoy Sibundoy, Putumayo Kamëntsá
Ignacio Manuel Epinayu Pushaina Uribia, La Guajira Wayuunaiki
Jhon Alexander Delgado Santiago, Putumayo Inga
José Adán Pame Díaz Tumbichucue, Inza, Cauca Nasa Yuwe
Juan Ernesto Perdomo Campo Pitayó, Cauca Nasa Yuwe
Karmen Ramírez Boscán Wayuunaiki
Laura Tattiana Areizas Serna La Chorrera, Amazonas Mɨnɨka
Leonardi Fernández Zulia, Venezuela Wayuunaiki
Remedios Uriana Maicao, Guajira Wayuunaiki
Yeraldin Cristina Domico Tamanis Ciudad Bolívar, Hermeregildo, Chakiama Emberá-Chamí

Juan Sebastian Quintero Santacruz (User:Sahaquiel9102)Wikimedistas de Colombia

by Juan Sebastian Quintero Santacruz at August 09, 2015 11:38 AM

August 06, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

News on Wikipedia: Beijing wins Winter Olympics, MH370 wreckage recovered, and more

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Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Beijing lands 2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing National Aquatics Center, used in the Summer Olympics in 2008, will host the curling. Photo by Charlie Fong, in the public domain.

Beijing, the capital of China, was announced as the winning bidder for the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday (July 31). Six bids were initially made, but only two made it to the final decision; the Beijing bid narrowly beat out a rival bid from Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. Norway’s capital, Oslo, pulled out in October as politicians refused to negotitate with the International Olympic Committee. As Beijing is not susceptible to snow during winter, outdoor snow events are slated to be held in Zhangjiakou, to the north of the city.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2022 Winter Olympics

Barack Obama announces Clean Power Plan

Barack Obama by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Obama’s announcement comes a year after the plan was first proposed. Photo by Gage Skidmore, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

United States president Barack Obama unveiled his government’s Clean Power Plan on Monday (August 3). The plan contains a number of policies aimed at combating anthropogenic climate change, such as a one-third reduction in carbon dioxide emissions within fifteen years. Obama called the plan “the single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change”. The Guardian reports that hundreds of American businesses have backed the plan.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Clean Power Plan, Barack Obama

Parts found on island “from missing plane”

ReU StDenis NorthView.jpg
The parts were discovered on the coast of Réunion, a small overseas department of France. Photo by Bbb at Wikivoyage shared, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Wreckage was recovered on Wednesday (July 29) from Saint-André, in the north-west of the French overseas department of Réunion, east of the island of Madagascar. It is now confirmed to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared sixteen months ago enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace of the plane has ever been recovered, and authories are hopeful that the newly-discovered wreckage could provide some insight as to the plane’s last moments.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Zimbabwe seeks Cecil’s killer

Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206).jpg
Cecil the lion, pictured at Hwange National Park in 2010. Photo by Daughter#3, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.

Zimbabwean authorities on Friday (July 31) requested the extradition of Walter Palmer, the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion. The lion was shot with a crossbow and killed over the course of two days last month at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Palmer, who reportedly paid up to $50,000 for access to Cecil, insists he was assured by local hunters that the hunt was legal. Officials, however, are now seeking his extradition, claiming he “had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe”.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Cecil (lion)

Taliban “spiritual leader” confirmed dead

Taliban‘s supreme commander, Mohammed Omar, was confirmed to have died in 2013 on Thursday (July 30) following earlier reports of his death in the media. Though initially dismissive of the claims, the Taliban eventually confirmed Omar had died in Pakistan two years ago. Very little is known about Omar, something that comedian John Oliver lampooned on his weekly show on HBO. Only two images of the man are thought to exist and neither are verified, and his date of birth varies by over a decade, depending on the source. Akhter Mansour, Omar’s deputy, has reportedly taken his place as leader.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Mohammed Omar, Akhter Mansour

Traffic spikes

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Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

The most visited page this week is fairly newly created—that of Cecil the lion. His story’s coverage in the online press attracted more than 55,000 pageviews on July 31 following Zimbabwe’s request to extradite Palmer. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 peaked at 51,000 pageviews, as news broke of plane wreckage being discovered on Réunion.

Beijing’s successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics drew a peak of around 38,000 pageviews to the event’s article on Wikipedia. Upon news breaking about the death of Mohammed Omar, the article on the secretive former leader of the Taliban reached a peak of 31,000 pageviews.

Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan didn’t have an article on Wikipedia before its unveiling on August 3, and has since attracted a peak of just 273 pageviews—those wanting to know more about Obama’s plan instead arrived at his biography. While already a popular article, it exceeded 31,000 pageviews on August 4.

Photo montage credits: “Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206).jpg” by Daughter#3, CC-BY-SA 2.0; “Barack Obama by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg” by Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “ReU StDenis NorthView.jpg” by Bbb at Wikivoyage shared, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “国家游泳中心夜景.jpg” by Charlie Fong, in the public domain. Collage by Joe Sutherland

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe SutherlandCommunications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at August 06, 2015 07:54 PM

2015 Wikipedians of the Year unveiled in Mexico

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Jimmy’s announcement is tradition at Wikimania. Photo by MadriCR, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

It is a Wikimania tradition that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces his “Wikipedian of the Year” during his closing keynote at Wikimania, the annual gathering of Wikimedia editors from around the world, and his speech at this year’s Wikimanía was no exception.

Susanna Mkrtchyan, board member of Wikimedia Armenia, was the first named honoree of the evening. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

He did, however, depart from this tradition in one respect: instead of specifically naming a Wikimedian of the Year, Wales instead named them in pectore. This was a reference to the term used initially by the Catholic Church to denote an appointment made “in the heart” without announcing the appointee’s name, because doing would likely cause harm to or reprisals against the appointee.

Wales’ larger closing speech covered freedom of expression issues, a major aspect of this year’s conference, including censorship of Wikipedia within China and how this was impacted by the Foundation’s recent decision to move all Wikimedia sites to HTTPS.

He also spoke of an editor in Venezuela, exiled by his country for publishing photos of anti-government protests to Wikimedia Commons. He had his passport revoked, and was thus stranded outside the country with little knowledge of his legal standing and refugee status. Wales’ Wikipedian of the Year, though secret, likely reflects the risks undertaken by his Venezuelan exemplar. Jimmy said he hopes to “one day be able to share this person’s story”.

Beyond his in pectore Wikipedian, Wales provided several honorable mentions.

Susanna Mkrtchyan, board member of Wikimedia Armenia, was the first honoree named. An “innovative, collaborative, and collegial” Wikipedian, Susanna has been heavily involved with off-wiki activities in Armenia. She was behind the very successful “One Armenian – One Article” campaign, as well as WikiCamp—an intensive youth camp focused on training new editors in Wikipedia and Wiktionary editing through hands-on means.

Satdeep Gill is among the top five contributors to the Punjabi Wikipedia. Number one is his father, whom Satdeep introduced to Wikipedia. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Second was Satdeep Gill, an Indian Wikipedian who is highly prolific on the Punjabi Wikipedia. He has spent much time encouraging youth and students at his university campus to edit the Punjabi Wikipedia. His efforts, Jimmy said, had directly and indirectly propelled the Punjabi Wikipedia to become the fastest-growing Indic-language Wikipedia this past year.

Satdeep, a “collaborative, inspiring, and tireless” Wikipedian, recently finished the #100wikidays challenge on his home wiki, improving articles on topics ranging from “Judith Butler“, through “Popeye the sailor man” and “stream of consciousness“, to, fittingly, “Teotihuacan“.

Joe SutherlandCommunications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at August 06, 2015 04:36 PM

La mujer que nunca conociste: the first Iberocoop contest on women biographies

Segunda Editatona.jpg
Editatona organized by Wikimedia Mexico. Photo by Wotancito, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Clelia Luro was an Argentine journalist, writer, social activist and supporter of liberation theology who spent her life advocating for the reform of the civil status of Catholic priests. This would enable them to choose between celibacy and marriage, as Catholic ministers are not allowed to marry or have children.

Her story, and those of almost 400 other women, have been written on Wikipedia thanks to the largest international Wikimedia contest based on female biographies.

La mujer que nunca conociste (“The woman you never knew”) was run by Wikimedia Iberocoop—a broad collection of Spanish-, Portuguese-, and Italian-speaking Wikimedia affiliates—during the months of March and April 2015, alongside other initiatives like workshops and edit-a-thons held locally by chapters and user groups. Many people worked to organize the contest, including volunteers and staff from seven different chapters, user groups and working groups across Ibero-America and Europe.

Editatón - Género y brecha digital 3.jpg
Group photo from the edit-a-thon on the gender gap run by Wikimedia Argentina. Photo by Giselle Bordoy, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

We identified three main aspects which made the contest successful:

  1. The contest was suggested for some time in the Iberocoop circle, but the concept really took off during Iberoconf 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference saw a substantial increase in the number of female participants compared to the previous year. There, we had the chance to get to know each other, share our visions, and set the ground rules for the contest. In-person meetings can have a major impact on developing projects and exploring new ideas.
  2. Working amongst people with similar cultural and social backgrounds has made communication easier and smoother. While the countries in Iberocoop are far from identical, we do have a shared sense of welcoming and caring. We started with five organizers, and ended up with almost twenty. New participants’ ideas have been listened to, and their work greatly appreciated. A caring and friendly atmosphere is essential for a good initiative.
  3. After lengthy discussion, we decided not to apply for a grant to cover our costs. As this was our first experience organizing such a big initiative, we preferred to have sole control over the execution of the project. This has proven to be very effective, since we have been able to manage the unexpected with ease, without the pressure of having fixed outcomes to achieve. Having this flexibility is very useful in preventing volunteers from burning out and suffering from stress.

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Editatón and workshop organized by Wikimedia Bolivia. Photo by CALEIDOSCOPIC, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Our efforts and commitment led to amazing results. The contest saw the creation of 389 new articles; had 43 participants, of which 17 were women (38%); and a total of 13.7 megabytes of text content was added. But these numbers are not the most important thing—what we’re really proud of is how we achieved them, and how we set a baseline for new initiatives and projects. We are already discussing how we can improve our work and organize a bigger and better contest next year. If you studied some Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, it’s time to start practicing again and think about which articles you might write!

AtropineWikimedia Italia

by Atropine at August 06, 2015 12:20 AM

August 05, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia Foundation hosts lively panel on copyright

Digitize text manually with a book scanner. Photo by Oona Räisänen, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the Wikimedia Foundation hosted an engaging panel discussion on Copyright in the Age of Mass Digitization. The event, which attracted over 110 attendees from diverse professional backgrounds and perspectives, explored the legal challenges posed by mass digitization and possible ways forward.

Speakers included Pamela Samuelson, professor at Berkeley Law School and UC Berkeley’s School of Information; Joseph Gratz, a partner at Durie Tangri who represented Google in the Google Books cases; Lila Bailey, a copyright attorney whose clients include the Internet Archive; and Melvin Gibbs, a jazz musician and President of the Content Creators Coalition, an artists’ rights advocacy group. Wikimedia General Counsel Geoff Brigham introduced the event, and Wikimedia Legal Director Yana Welinder—who oversees the Foundation’s copyright and public policy strategy—moderated the discussion.

Each year, the WMF’s summer legal interns put together an event open to the public on topics related to law, technology, and free knowledge. This year’s panel was an especially timely event: in June 2015, the U.S. Copyright Office released its report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, and the Office is currently soliciting public comment through October 9, 2015.

The topic of copyright reform is also one of particular relevance to the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission of sharing knowledge across the globe. Overprotective copyright regimes rob the public of access to knowledge and culture, and the legal ambiguity surrounding issues like freedom of panorama and orphan works disfavors free sharing and innovation.

Wikimedia projects could also be affected by regulation of digitization—the conversion of analog information, like objects, images, or sounds, into a digital, web-usable format. Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons represent two examples of digitization projects that are the product of decentralized collaboration. These kinds of projects should be considered when crafting policy in an age of mass digitization, in addition to initiatives undertaken by larger institutional players, to ensure that free knowledge can continue to flourish.

According to the Copyright Office, mass digitization involves reproduction on a scale that renders it impossible to negotiate individual permissions. The Copyright Office report proposed an extended collective licensing (ECL) mechanism for authorizing projects on terms set forth by the parties under government supervision.

The panelists generally agreed that the Copyright Office’s proposed ECL pilot program was problematic and did not sufficiently account for differences among mass digitization projects, but disagreed about the value of mass digitization generally. While musician Melvin Gibbs felt strongly that artists should retain autonomy over their work rather than be subject to any “opt-out” system of permissions, other panelists believed mass digitization initiatives offered an important channel for historical societies, libraries, and archives to make cultural heritage more widely available for others to access, curate, and build upon.

Lila Bailey was especially concerned about access for end-users, asserting that “the Internet is the most democratizing force that we have” and that the anxiety over revenue distribution was misguided since “there just isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the library rainbow.” Pamela Samuelson discussed the role that fair use can and ought to play for certain mass digitization initiatives and articulated the perspective of many authors especially academics who want their work to be more widely available. Joseph Gratz framed the issue in terms of the search for an economic model that allows creators to be compensated but also gets books into people’s hands or onto people’s screens, including when the author cannot be identified. A recording of the event is available here.

Following the panel discussion, attendees, who hailed from technology companies, major law firms, non-profits, libraries, archives, and artists’ groups, enjoyed a reception sponsored by Durie Tangri.

The WMF’s legal internship program

Wikimedia’s legal internship program, launched four years ago, has nurtured dozens of law students and recent graduates interested in intellectual property, privacy, and other cyberlaw issues. The Foundation recruits legal interns for the spring, summer, and fall. All law students and recent graduates are welcome to apply.

Alexandra Perloff-GilesWikimedia Foundation Legal Intern*

* Thanks to my fellow summer legal interns who were essential to organizing this event: Christine Bannan, Arielle Friehling, Jason Gerson, and Alex Krivit.

by Alexandra Perloff-Giles at August 05, 2015 05:34 PM

August 03, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

My life as an autistic Wikipedian

Person in a landscape. Photo by Guillaume Paumier freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

This blog post is taken from Guillaume’s personal blog, and used both with permission and under the terms of the Creative Commons license CC-BY 4.0.

Two years ago, I discovered that I was on the autism spectrum. As I learned more about myself and the way my brain worked, I started to look at past experiences through the lens of this newly-found aspect. In this essay, I share some of what I’ve learned along the way about my successes, my failures, and many things that confused me in the past, notably in my experiences in the Wikimedia movement.

This essay was the basis of the talk of the same name that I gave at the Wikimania 2015 conference. It is not an exact transcript. It is still a draft, which I’m publishing now in the interest of timeliness; I will continue to refine it over the next few weeks; you can help edit it. A French version is also available.

kindergarten. Photo by Guillaume Paumier freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

This is a picture of me taken when I was 4, in nursery school, the French equivalent of Kindergarten.

I don’t have many memories about that time, but my parents remember that, while I wasn’t usually enthused about going to school during the week, I would often ask to go on Saturdays, because most of the other kids weren’t there.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like them; it was because the school was much quieter than during weekdays, and I had all the toys to myself. I didn’t have to interact with other children, or share the pencils, or the room. I could do whatever I wanted without worrying about the other kids.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it would take me nearly 30 years to look back at this story and understand how it made complete sense.


I’m now 32 years old, and a lot has changed. Two years ago, after some difficulties at work, my partner decided to share his suspicions that I might be on the autism spectrum. I knew little about it at the time, but it was a hypothesis that seemed to explain a lot, and seemed worth exploring.

Sure, the subject had come up before a few times, but it was always as a joke, an exaggeration of my behavior. I never thought I fitted that label. One problem is that autism is usually represented in a very uniform manner in popular culture. Movies like Rain Man feature autistic savants who, although they have extraordinary abilities, live in a completely different world, and sometimes aren’t verbal. The autism spectrum is much more diverse than those stereotypical examples.

After I started researching the topic, and reading books on autism or autobiographies by autistic people, I realized how much of it applied to me.

It took a bit longer (and a few tests) to get a confirmation from experts, and when it came, many people still had doubts. The question that came up the most often was “But how was this never detected before?” Autism is generally noticed at a much younger age, and it seemed that for most of my life, I had managed to disguise myself as “neurotypical”, meaning someone whose brain works similarly to most people.

The current prevailing hypothesis to explain this, based on an IQ test taken as part of the evaluation process, is that I am privileged to have higher-than-average intellectual capacities, which have allowed me to partly compensate for the different wiring of my brain. One way to illustrate this is to use a computer analogy: in a way, my CPU runs at a higher frequency, which has allowed me to emulate with software the hardware that I’m missing. What this also means is that it can be exhausting to run this software all the time, so sometimes I need to be by myself.

As you can imagine, realizing at 31 that you are on the autism spectrum changes your perception dramatically; everything suddenly starts to make sense. I’ve learned a lot over the past two years, and this increased metacognition has allowed me to look at past events through a new lens.

In this essay, I want to share with you some of what I’ve learned, and share my current understanding of how my brain works, notably through my experience as a Wikimedian.

One caveat I want to start with is that autism is a spectrum. There’s a popular saying among online autistic communities that says: “You’ve met an autist, you’ve met one autist.” Just keep this in mind: What I’m presenting here is based on my personal experience, and isn’t going to apply equally to all autistic people.

Taipei Wm2007 Guillaume.jpg

Taipei Wm2007Guillaume.jpg“, by Cary Bass, under CC-By-SA 3.0 Unported, from Wikimedia Commons.

The picture above was taken during Wikimania 2007 in Taipei. I was exploring the city with Cary Bass (User:Bastique) and a few other people. Looking back at this picture now, there are a few things I notice today:

  • I’m wearing simple clothes, because I have absolutely no sense of fashion, and those are “safe” colors.
  • I’m carrying two bags (a backpack and a photo bag), because I always want to be prepared for almost anything, so I carry a lot of stuff around.
  • I’m sitting down to change a lens on my camera, because it’s a more stable position to avoid dropping and breaking expensive gear. I’ve learned that this habit of using very stable positions is actually a mitigating strategy that I developed over the years without realizing it, to compensate for problems with balance and motor coordination.


A good analogy to help understand what it’s like to be autistic in a neurotypical society is to look at Mr. Spock, in the Star Trek Original Series. The son of a Vulcan father and a human mother, Spock is technically half-human, but it is his Vulcan side that shows the most in its interactions with the crew of the Enterprise.

Leonard Nimoy William Shatner Star Trek 1968.JPG

Spock and Kirk. “Leonard Nimoy William Shatner Star Trek 1968“, by NBC Television, in the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.

Some of the funniest moments of the show are his arguments with the irascible Dr. McCoy, who calls him an “unfeeling automaton” and “the most cold-blooded man [he’s] ever known”. To which Spock responds: “Why, thank you, Doctor.” 1

As a Vulcan, Spock’s life is ruled by logic. Although he does feel emotions, they are deeply repressed. His speech pattern is very detached, almost clinical. Because of his logical and utilitarian perspective, Spock often appears dismissive, cold-hearted, or just plain rude to his fellow shipmates.

In many ways, Spock’s traits are similar to autism, and many autistic people identify with him. For example, in her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin, a renown autistic scientist and author, recounts how she related to Spock from a young age:

Many people with autism are fans of the television show Star Trek. […] I strongly identified with the logical Mr. Spock, since I completely related to his way of thinking.I vividly remember one old episode because it portrayed a conflict between logic and emotion in a manner I could understand. A monster was attempting to smash the shuttle craft with rocks. A crew member had been killed. Logical Mr. Spock wanted to take off and escape before the monster wrecked the craft. The other crew members refused to leave until they had retrieved the body of the dead crew member. […]

I agreed with Spock, but I learned that emotions will often overpower logical thinking, even if these decisions prove hazardous.2

In this example, and in many others, Spock’s perception filter prevents him from understanding human decisions mainly driven by emotion. Those actions appear foolish or nonsensical, because Spock interprets them through his own lens of logic. He lacks the cultural background, social norms and unspoken assumptions unconsciously shared by humans.

The reverse is also true: Whenever humans are puzzled or annoyed by Spock, it is because they expect him to behave like a human; they are often confronted to a harsher truth than they would like. Humans interpret Spock’s behavior through their own emotional perception filter. They often misunderstand his motives, assume malice and superimpose intents that change the meaning of his original words and actions.


You’re probably familiar with the conceptual models of communication In many of those models, communication is represented as the transmission of a message between a sender and a receiver.

In a basic communication model, the sender formulates the message, and transmits it to the receiver, who interprets it. The receiver also provides some feedback.

An oral discussion involves a lot more signals from nonverbal communication, like tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

If you apply this model to an oral conversation, you quickly see all the opportunities for miscommunication: From what the sender means, to what they actually say, to what the receiver hears, to what they understand, information can change radically, especially when you consider nonverbal communication. It’s like a 2-person variation of the telephone game. In the words of psychologist Tony Attwood:

Every day people make intuitive guesses regarding what someone may be thinking or feeling. Most of the time we are right but the system is not faultless. We are not perfect mind readers. Social interactions would be so much easier if typical people said exactly what they mean with no assumptions or ambiguity. 3

If this is the case for neurotypical people, meaning people with a “typical” brain, imagine how challenging it can be for autists like me. A great analogy is given in the movie The Imitation Game, inspired by the life of Alan Turing, who is portrayed in the film as being on the autism spectrum.

Historical accuracy aside, one of my favorite moments in the movie is when a young Alan is talking to his friend Christopher about coded messages. Christopher explains cryptography as “messages that anyone can see, but no one knows what they mean, unless you have the key.”

A very puzzled Alan replies:

How is that different from talking? […] When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you’re expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do.

Autistic people are characterized by many different traits, but one of the most prevalent is social blindness: We have trouble reading the emotions of others. We lack the “Theory of mind” used by neurotypical people to attribute mental states (like beliefs and intents) to others. We often take things literally because we’re missing the subtext: it’s difficult for us to read between the lines.

Liane Holliday Willey, an autistic author and speaker, once summarized it this way:

You wouldn’t need a Theory of Mind if everyone spoke their mind. 4

How are you?

Many languages have a common phrase to ask someone how they’re doing, whether it’s the French Comment ça va ?, the English How are you? or the German Wie geht’s?

When I first moved to the US, every time someone asked me “How are you?”, I would pause to consider the question. Now, I’ve learned that it’s a greeting, not an actual question, and I’ve mostly automated the response to the expected “Great, how are you?”. It only takes a few milliseconds to switch to that path and short-circuit the question-answering process. But if people deviate from that usual greeting, then that mental shortcut doesn’t work any more.

A few weeks ago, someone in the Wikimedia Foundation office asked me “How is your world?”, and I froze for a few seconds. In order to answer that question, my brain was reviewing everything that was happening in “my world” (and “my world” is big!), before I realized that I just needed to say “Great! Thanks!”.

Small talk” by Randall Munroe, under CC-BY-NC 2.5, from xkcd.com.

Privilege and pointed ears

This is only one of the challenges faced by autistic people, and I would now like to talk about neurotypical privilege. I’m a cis white male, and I was raised in a loving middle-class family in an industrialized country. By many standards, I’m very privileged. But, despite my superpowers, being autistic in a predominantly neurotypical society does bring its lot of challenges.

The most common consequence I’ve noticed in my experience, and in accounts from other autistic people, is a feeling of profound isolation. The lack of Theory of mind and the constant risk of miscommunication make it difficult to build relationships. It’s not anyone’s fault in particular; it’s due to a general lack of awareness.

Wikimania 2014 welcome reception 02.jpg

Wikimania 2014 welcome reception. “Wikimania 2014 welcome reception 02“, by Chris McKenna, under CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, from Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine that you’re talking to me face to face. You don’t really know me, but I seem nice so you start making small talk. I’m not saying much, and you need to carry the discussion over those awkward silences. When I do speak, it’s in a very monotone manner, like I don’t really care. You try harder, and ask me questions, but I hesitate, I struggle to maintain eye contact, and I keep looking away, as if I’m making stuff up as I go.

Now this is what’s happening from my perspective: I’m talking to someone I don’t really know well, but you seem nice. I don’t know what to talk about, so I keep quiet at first. Silences aren’t a problem: I’m just happy to be in your company. I don’t have very strong feelings about what we’re talking about, so I’m speaking very calmly. You’re asking me questions, and of course it takes a while to think about the correct answer. All this “eye contact” thing that I learned in school is taking a lot of mental resources that would be better used to compute the answer to your question, so I sometimes need to look away to better focus.

This illustrates one of many situations in which each person’s perception filter caused a complete disconnect between how the situation was perceived on each side.

There are also many professional hurdles associated with being on the autism spectrum, and autists are more affected by unemployment than neurotypicals5. I’m privileged in that I’ve been able to find an environment in which I’m able to work, but many autists aren’t so lucky. It’s been well documented that people in higher-up positions aren’t necessarily the best performers, but often people with the best social skills.

With that in mind, imagine what the career opportunities (or lack thereof) can be for someone who is a terrible liar, who has a lot of interest in doing great work, but less interest in taking credit for it, who doesn’t understand office politics, who not only makes social missteps and angers their colleagues, but doesn’t even know about it, someone who’s unable to make small talk around the office. Imagine that person, and what kind of a career they can have even if they’re very good at their job.

Casual relationships with colleagues and acquaintances are usually superficial; the stakes of the water cooler discussions are low, so people are more inclined to forgive missteps. However, friendship is another matter, and for most of my life, I have hardly had any friends, unless you use Facebook’s definition of the term. Awkwardness is generally tolerated, but rarely sought after. It’s not “cool”.

Most of those issues arise because you don’t have a way of knowing that the person in front of you is different. At least Spock had his pointed ears to signal that he wasn’t human. His acceptance by the crew of the Enterprise was in large part due to the relationships he was able to develop with his shipmates. Those relationships would arguably not have been possible if they had not known how he was different.

Computer-mediated communication

Let me go back to that conceptual model of face-to-face communication. Now imagine how this model changes if you’re communicating online, by email, on wiki, or on IRC. All those communication channels, that Wikimedians are all too familiar with, are based on text, and most of them are asynchronous. For many neurotypicals, these are frustrating modes of communication, because they’re losing most of their usual nonverbal signals like tone, facial expressions, and body language.

communication_model1-760x435 (1)
In online discussions, most of the nonverbal communication disappears, leaving only words. This can frustrate neurotypicals, but is much closer to the native communication model of autistic people.

However, this model of computer-mediated communication is much closer to the communication model of autists like me. There is no nonverbal communication to decrypt; less interaction and social anxiety; and usually, no unfamiliar environment either. There are much fewer signals, and those that remain are just words; their meaning still varies, but it’s much more codified and reliable than nonverbal signals.

What there is online, instead, is plenty of time, time that we can use to collect our thoughts and formulate a carefully crafted answer. Whereas voice is synchronous and mostly irreversible, text can be edited, crafted, deleted, reworded, or rewritten until it’s exactly what we want it to be; then we can send it. This is true of asynchronous channels like email and wikis, but it also extends to semi-synchronous tools like instant messaging or IRC.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, though. For example, autists like me are still very much clueless about politics and reading between the lines. We tend to be radically honest, which doesn’t fly very well, whether online or offline. Autists are also more susceptible to trolling, and may not always realize that the way people act online isn’t the same as the way they act in the physical world. The internet medium tends to desensitize people, and autists might emulate behavior that isn’t actually acceptable, regardless of the venue.

Autism in the Wikimedia community

Of course, one major example of wide-scale online communication is the Wikimedia movement. And at first glance, Wikimedia sites, and Wikipedia in particular, offer a platform where one can meticulously compile facts about their favorite obsession, or methodically fix the same grammatical error over and over, all of that with limited human interaction; if this sounds like a great place for autists (and a perfect honey trap) well, it is to some extent.

Wikipedians with autism.png

The “Wikipedians with autism” category on the English Wikipedia.

For example, my first edit ten years ago was to fix a spelling error. My second edit was to fix a conjugation error. My third edit was to fix both a spelling and a conjugation error. That’s how my journey as a Wikipedian started ten years ago.

Wikipedians are obsessed with citations, references, and verifiability; fact is king, and interpretation is taboo. As long as you stay in the main namespace, that is. As soon as you step out of article pages and venture into talk pages and village pumps, those high standards don’t apply any more. There are plenty of unsourced, exaggerated and biased statements in Wikipedia discussions.

That’s in addition to the problems I mentioned earlier. As an autist, it can be hard to let go of arguments about things or people you care about. It’s often said that autistic people lack empathy, which basically makes us look like cold-hearted robots. However, there is a distinction between being able to read the feelings of other people, and feeling compassion for other people.

Neurotypical people have mirror neurons that make you feel what the person in front of you is feeling; autistic people have a lot fewer of those, which means they need to scrutinize your signals and try to understand what you’re feeling. But they’re still people with feelings.

If you’re interested in learning more about autism in the Wikimedia community, there’s a great essay on the English Wikipedia, which I highly recommend. One thing it does really well is avoiding the pathologization of autism, and instead insisting on neurodiversity, meaning autism as a difference, not a disease.


Steve Silberman, who wrote a book on the history of autism, presented it this way:

One way to understand neurodiversity is to think in terms of human operating systems: Just because a PC is not running Windows doesn’t mean that it’s broken.

By autistic standards, the normal human brain is easily distractible, obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail. 6

ISS-42 Samantha Cristoforetti Leonard Nimoy tribute.jpg

ISS-42 Samantha Cristoforetti Leonard Nimoy tribute“, by NASA, in the Public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.

But still, neurodiversity has a cost. Sometimes, you’ll be offended; sometimes, you’ll be frustrated; and sometimes, you’ll think “Wow, I would never have thought of that in a million years”.
As I mentioned earlier, I believe Spock was only able to build those relationships over time because people were aware of his difference, and learned to understand and embrace it. Spock also learned a lot from humans along the way.
My goal here was to raise awareness of this difference that exists in our community, and encourage us to discuss our differences more openly, and to improve our understanding of each other.
There is a lot I didn’t get into in this essay, and I might expand on specific points later. In the meantime, I’m available if you’re interested in continuing this discussion, and you should feel free to reach out to me, whether in person or online.
Live long and prosper. \\///

Guillaume Paumier, Senior Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation


  1. from Court Martial (Star Trek: The Original Series)
  2. Temple Grandin. Thinking in Pictures. p.152.
  3. Tony Attwood. The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. p.126.
  4. Liane Holliday Willey, in The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. Tony Attwood, p.126
  5. Maanvi Singh. Young Adults With Autism More Likely To Be Unemployed, Isolated. NPR.
  6. Steve Silberman. The forgotten history of autism. TED 2015.

by Guillaume Paumier at August 03, 2015 10:09 PM

Wikimedia Research Newsletter, July 2015

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Wikimedia Research Newsletter Logo.png

Vol: 5 • Issue: 7 • July 2015 [contribute] [archives] Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed

Wikipedia as an example of collective intelligence; #Wikipedia and Twitter

With contributions by: Piotr Konieczny, Tilman Bayer, and Kim Osman

Wikipedia as an example of collective intelligence

An article[1] in Social Science Computer Review presents an argument that Wikipedia is an example of collective intelligence. It is primarily a theoretical piece, but the author is well-informed about Wikipedia’s everyday workings, illustrating the theory with his knowledge of Wikipedia. The article heavily relies on Pierre Lévy‘s notion of “humanistic collective intelligence”. The author argues that Wikipedia displays some key characteristics of a collective intelligence process, such as software optimized for stigmergy (a mechanism of indirect coordination between agents or actions, such as the existence of edit history, talk pages, etc.); distributed cognition (such as existence of bots, and division of tasks between various tools and individuals, facilitating their actions), and possibly, through it is not possible to prove beyond any doubt, emergence (a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties). The author concludes that Wikipedia thus exemplifies a special kind of collective intelligence, the aforementioned humanistic collective intelligence proposed by Lévy.

#Wikipedia and Twitter

review by Kim Osman

This study from OpenSym ’15[2] analysed 2.5 million tweets, collected over a five-month period on Twitter, that linked to Wikipedia pages. The authors found tweets referencing Wikipedia in both English and Japanese linked to pages from their respective language versions of Wikipedia nearly all the time (97 and 94 percent respectively). However in other languages, tweets often linked to a different language version of Wikipedia – roughly one fifth of the time. Interestingly, tweets in Indonesian referenced another language version more than half the time (linking to English Wikipedia in half the tweets) and of the links to English Wikipedia the authors found that 75% of linked articles did not have an equivalent Indonesian version. There was a long tail distribution of articles among the analysed tweets, with the authors noting certain “events” (like the Gamergate controversy) generating multiple tweets. Of the Top 20 Twitter users in the dataset, 19 were bots, with the most prolific tweeter being Wikipedia Stub Bot (@wpstubs). The authors do note that in their study there is not enough evidence to support the relationship between “how actively edited a certain article is and its popularity on Twitter.” This study does however raise interesting questions about the platform relationship between Wikipedia and Twitter and the role of bots in creating and maintaining this association. The authors note future research could consider the role of events in popularising Wikipedia articles on Twitter along with further examining motivations for inter-language linking on Twitter.


“As of early 2015, the typical edit [on the English Wikipedia] is made by an account that is over 5 years old.”

How old is the account making an average edit?

Among other charts recently created by User:Dragons flight to visualize statistical data about the English Wikipedia community, this one shows that “the long-term trend is for the active community to gain about 6 months in average age for every year of time that passes in real life.”

Simplifying sentences by finding their equivalent on Simple Wikipedia

A preprint[3] by researchers at the University of Washington describes a method to automatically align sentences on the English Wikipedia and the Simple English Wikipedia about the same facts. Besides a hand-annotated dataset of corresponding (and non-corresponding) sentence pairs used to test and adjust the algorithm, their approach uses a “novel similarity metric” between of pairs of words which is based on synonym information from Wiktionary, resulting in a weighted graph called “WikNet” that consists of “roughly 177k nodes and 1.15M undirected edges. As expected, our Wiktionary based similarity metric has a higher coverage of 71.8% than WordNet, which has a word coverage of 58.7% in our annotated dataset”. These datasets are available online. The following pair of sentences are presented as an example for good match found by the resulting method:
“The castle was later incorporated into the construction of Ashtown Lodge which was to serve as the official residence of the Under Secretary from 1782″ (Ashtown Castle) vs.
“After the building was made bigger and improved, it was used as the house for the Under Secretary of Ireland from 1782.” (Ashtown Castle)

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.

  • “The Virtues of Moderation”[4] presents “a novel taxonomy of moderation in online communities”, including a case study of Wikipedia (p.88).
  • “Studying the Wikipedia Hyperlink Graph for Relatedness and Disambiguation”[5] From the abstract: “We show that using the full graph is more effective than just direct links by a large margin, that non-reciprocal links harm performance, and that there is no benefit from categories and infoboxes …”
  • “Wikidata through the Eyes of DBpedia[6] From the introduction: “All DBpedia data is extracted from Wikipedia and Wikipedia authors thus unconciously also curate the DBpedia knowledge base. Wikidata on the other hand has its own data curation interface … While DBpedia covers a very large share of Wikipedia at the expense of partially reduced quality, Wikidata covers a significantly smaller share, but due to the manual curation with higher quality and provenance information.”
  • “WikiMirs: A Mathematical Information Retrieval System for Wikipedia”[7]
  • Content Translation: Computer-assisted translation tool for Wikipedia”[8]
  • “Peer-production system or collaborative ontology development effort: what is Wikidata?[9] (to be presented at the OpenSym 2015 conference in August)
  • “Big data and Wikipedia research: social science knowledge across disciplinary divides”[10]
  • “Comparing language development in Wikipedia in terms of page views per Internet users”[11] See also Wiki-research-l mailing list discussion
  • “Understanding Graph Structure of Wikipedia for Query Expansion”[12]
  • “Turning Introductory Comparative Politics and Elections Courses into Social Science Research Communities Using Wikipedia: Improving Both Teaching and Research”[13]
  • “Utilizing the Wikidata System to Improve the Quality of Medical Content in Wikipedia in Diverse Languages: A Pilot Study”[14]
  • “Is it Possible to Enhance our Expert Knowledge from Wikipedia?”[15] From the English-language abstract: “In September 2013 two different questionnaires about medical issues were given to medical students, resident physicians and one medical specialist. The questioning was about diseases/symptoms, examinations/classifications and conservative therapy/surgery of the department of orthopaedics and traumatology. … The survey has proven the up-to-dateness of Wikipedia articles and their listing on the first or second position on Google. Wikipedia contains a lot of bibliographical references, high-quality images and video material. Almost half (42,5 %) of all evaluated articles are appropriate for use in medical exams and in the daily clinical work.”
  • “Predicting elections from online information flows: towards theoretically informed models”[16] From the conclusions: “We have shown good evidence that an ‘uncertainty effect’ drives much Wikipedia traffic: newer parties which attracted a lot of swing voters received disproportionately high levels of Wikipedia traffic. By contrast, there was no evidence of a ‘media effect’: there was little correlation between news media mentions and overall Wikipedia traffic patterns. Indeed, the news media and Wikipedia appeared biased towards different things: with news favouring incumbent parties, whilst Wikipedia favoured new ones.” (See also coverage of an earlier preprint by the same authors: “Attempt to use Wikipedia pageviews to predict election results in Iran, Germany and the UK“)


  1. Livingstone, Randall M. (2015-06-26). “Models for Understanding Collective Intelligence on Wikipedia” (in en). Social Science Computer Review: 0894439315591136. doi:10.1177/0894439315591136. ISSN 0894-4393.  Closed access
  2. (2015) “#Wikipedia on Twitter: Analyzing Tweets about Wikipedia“. OpenSym ’15. doi:10.1145/2788993.2789845. 
  3. William Hwang, Hannaneh Hajishirzi, Mari Ostendorf, and Wei Wu: Aligning Sentences from Standard Wikipedia to Simple Wikipedia. NAACL-HLT, 2015. PDF
  4. James Grimmelmann. “The Virtues of Moderation.
    Yale Journal of Law and Technology. 17.42 (2015) http://yjolt.org/virtues-moderation
  5. (2015-03-05) “Studying the Wikipedia Hyperlink Graph for Relatedness and Disambiguation“. arXiv:1503.01655 [cs]. 
  6. Ali Ismayilov, Dimitris Kontokostas, Sören Auer, Jens Lehmann, Sebastian Hellmann. “Wikidata through the Eyes of DBpedia”. http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.04180
  7. Hu, Xuan; Gao, Liangcai; Lin, Xiaoyan; Tang, Zhi; Lin, Xiaofan; Baker, Josef B. (2013). “WikiMirs: A Mathematical Information Retrieval System for Wikipedia”. Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. JCDL ’13. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 11-20. DOI:10.1145/2467696.2467699. ISBN 978-1-4503-2077-1. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2467696.2467699.  Closed access
  8. (2015-06-05) “Content Translation: Computer-assisted translation tool for Wikipedia articles“. 
  9. (2015-05-24) “Peer-production system or collaborative ontology development effort: what is Wikidata?“.  OpenSym 2015
  10. (2015-02-24) “Big data and Wikipedia research: social science knowledge across disciplinary divides“. Information, Communication & Society 0 (0): 1-18. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1008538. ISSN 1369-118X. 
  11. Liao, Han-Teng (2015-03-15). Comparing language development in Wikipedia in terms of page views per Internet users. Blog of Han-teng Liao, Oxford Internet Institute.
  12. (2015-05-06) “Understanding Graph Structure of Wikipedia for Query Expansion“. arXiv:1505.01306 [cs]. doi:10.1145/2764947.2764953. 
  13. (April 2015) “Turning Introductory Comparative Politics and Elections Courses into Social Science Research Communities Using Wikipedia: Improving Both Teaching and Research“. PS: Political Science & Politics 48 (02): 378-384. doi:10.1017/S1049096514002157. ISSN 1537-5935.  Closed access / Author’s copy
  14. (2015-05-05) “Utilizing the Wikidata System to Improve the Quality of Medical Content in Wikipedia in Diverse Languages: A Pilot Study“. Journal of Medical Internet Research 17 (5): 110. doi:10.2196/jmir.4163. ISSN 1438-8871. 
  15. (2015) “Is it Possible to Enhance our Expert Knowledge from Wikipedia?”. Zeitschrift Für Orthopädie Und Unfallchirurgie 153 (2): 171-176. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1396207. ISSN 1864-6743. PMID 25874396.  Closed access (German, with English abstract)
  16. (2015-05-05) “Predicting elections from online information flows: towards theoretically informed models“. 

Wikimedia Research Newsletter
Vol: 5 • Issue: 7 • July 2015
This newletter is brought to you by the Wikimedia Research Committee and The Signpost
Subscribe: Syndicate the Wikimedia Research Newsletter feed Email WikiResearch on Twitter[archives] [signpost edition] [contribute] [research index]

by Tilman Bayer at August 03, 2015 06:21 PM

July 31, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia encourages collaboration online and off

Finno-ugric wikiseminar 2014 02.jpg
Ivo Kruusamägi, one of the community leaders in charge of the program, speaks in Berlin. Photo by Ralf Roletschek, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia was established to encourage students to contribute to the world of free knowledge on the Internet by editing Wikipedia and bringing experienced editors of the online encyclopedia to work on the ground helping newcomers. The journey was not an easy nor a short one for them. Leaders were able to take the challenge, support their initiative, and learn from their past lessons.

The program initiators had a clear and well-organized plan about what was needed and what would happen from the first day. Kaarel Vaidla, the Executive Director of the Estonian Chapter, Wikimedia Eesti (WM EE), shares some of the secrets behind the beginning of Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia. “There were some university educators who liked Wikipedia and wanted to engage their students in editing it as part of their class work,” he says. “We had several active editors on Wikipedia whose first language is Estonian, who were interested in doing outreach work for Wikipedia too. Those are the two solid bases on which you can build a successful education program: an active Wikipedia community and a group of interested educators.”

Program leaders made several changes later to conform with new circumstances and challenges they meet. “A lot hasn’t worked out as planned and it has been more important to constantly monitor the activities and look for parts that could be changed for better,” Ivo Kruusamägi added.

Teele Vaalma, Estonian project leader with secondary schools, saying the opening words in the local Wiki Loves Monuments award ceremony in 2012. Photo by Amadvr, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The community leaders who led the program were Ivo Kruusamägi and Teele Vaalma. They are still at the helm of the program. Ivo and Teele are administrators on the Estonian Wikipedia and are very active on other Wikimedia projects as well. When working with newbies in Wikimedia programs, close mentorship from them helps students to settle into Wikipedia and reduces the conflict between new users and other community leads.

Even though Estonian program leaders are not giving any special attention to increasing gender diversity on Wikipedia, it is thought that around half of the student editors are female. Kruusamägi considers writing encyclopedia articles a totally gender neutral activity: “As half of the students are female, then having some specific strategy to bring in more of them just doesn’t seem necessary,” he says. On the other hand, Kaarel argues: “A smarter strategy to encourage women to edit should be considered, by calling women to edit in their capacity as valuable persons who have the knowledge and the potential to add free knowledge to Wikipedia, they will be more open to participating, rather than asking them to participate because Wikipedia needs female editors.”

The Estonian chapter was not yet established when the first steps towards the education initiative were started, and some articles were created in 2009. Continuous activity started a year later. At the University of Tartu, more than 170 students participated in the initiative in the course “Computer Hardware II”, itself inspired by an IT-article competition held the same spring. Sulev Iva, an administrator on the Võro Wikipedia who teaches South-Estonian languages in Tartu, had already been giving article writing exercises since 2007.

Work with secondary schools started directly after the founding of the chapter in the second half of 2010 with the “Wikipedia in schools” project. This involved giving lectures and conducting surveys about Wikipedia. Lately, the Estonian government, represented by the Ministry of Education and Research, joined these efforts, offering support for the program to integrate it into high schools. Now, an e-course for secondary school students is being assembled.

Kruusamägi, a founder of the local chapter, has mentioned that the education program wasn’t thought through at all when establishing Wikimedia Eesti. He was more hoping it to be useful when organizing different activities, such as the IT-article competition, but he soon saw that those weren’t bringing in as many people as he had hoped. “I focused on the educational part as I saw this to be more stable, cheaper and easier to scale,” he says. “Students have to do their work and it makes the results far more predictable.”

It just so happened that, right after the formation of the chapter, the first project took him to visit eight schools around Estonia as an outreach activity. “But as I see this online encyclopedia as an educational project anyway, then it was probably inevitable that the educational activities started piling up.”

The education program is growing the Estonian Wikipedia community. It attracts more than 300 student editors annually, mostly from the University of Tartu, but also some from the University of Tallinn in the capital. Articles written by these students have around 8,000 characters of text on average, and so far there are roughly 2,000 of them. Exact byte count over all of their articles has never been officially measured, but it is thought to be around 24 million.

On different occasions, WM EE leaders meet Wikimedia community members from around the globe. Interestingly, the Estonians seem to prefer to talk about the lessons they learned from their less-than-successful experiences, rather than simply listing their accomplishments. For example, at the Wikimedia Conference 2014, WM EE board member Eva Lepik and executive director Kaarel Vaidla presented a session about their activity and spoke about what they considered “mistakes”, which they warned others not to repeat!

The situation was a bit different at the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2014, where Kaarel chose to classify their education program work as “the good, the bad and the neutral“. Still, things might be changing; at the recent Wikimania conference, Kruusamägi gave a talk about their university project and, given the plans presented there, it seems likely that we’ll soon have more reasons to talk about what is happening in the tiny Nordic country.

It is, sometimes, a challenge for online communities to be as successful when they work on the ground as well as online. The Wikipedia Education Program in Estonia is an example of how these two different communities can connect and grow together.

Samir ElsharbatyCommunications InternWikipedia Education Program

by Samir El-Sharbaty at July 31, 2015 09:11 PM

Get help editing Wikipedia with the new “Co-op” mentorship program

CO-OP Logo 2.png
Logo idea for the en.wiki project, the Co-op. Created by graphic designer Soujanyaa Boruah. Logo by Soujanyaa Boruah, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Screenshot of the landing page for the Co-op mentorship space on English Wikipedia. Screenshot by I JethroBT, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

What if there was a gathering place on Wikipedia for newer editors to find a mentor? What if we could match these editors to mentors based on their needs and goals? And what if we could do more to help editors beyond pointing them to documentation? This was the motivation behind developing a recently piloted mentorship space called the Co-op on the English Wikipedia.

Funded by an Individual Engagement Grant, myself and our team assessed the current state of help spaces on the English Wikipedia and created the Co-op, a mentorship space informed by our research. For instance, we noted that newer editors are often familiar with some guidelines and policies, but are unsure of how they are implemented in practice. Consequently, we ensured that editors using the Co-op could be matched with mentors to focus on conventions and best practices in editing that are not always easily found in documentation.

Another common theme was that newer editors seeking help were initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of help pages and felt lost. In building the Co-op, we created a system to design mentorships based on concrete topics or problems, rather than leaving them too broad or unfocused.

Using the Co-op is simple: editors are matched with mentors on based on how they wish to contribute, which they specify within a profile. These matching criteria include writing, image help, and technical work (such as syntax), among other topic areas. Editors can provide more specific details about why they are seeking mentorship within their profile as well. A bot then searches and matches the editor to a mentor who has volunteered to teach in that area. The two editors are pinged using the notifications system and informed about the match, where mentorship can then begin. Editors can change their profiles at anytime based on their needs and goals. Mentors can award Co-op barnstars to editors who have achieved their goals during mentorship:

All images by Boruah, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Our final report details the outcomes of our background research in evaluating help spaces on the English Wikipedia in addition to the development and results of the Co-op pilot itself. The pilot was a one-month long experiment that brought in 49 participants to use the Co-op, and was supported by our team in addition to 25 mentors. Here are some key findings on the impact of mentorship through the Co-op:

The Co-op has the personal touch that helped me swim in a sea of information; I am very grateful.

— Co-op pilot participant, IEG Final Report

  • Mentored editors were more productive than compared to editors who were not mentored. During the pilot, mentored editors made 7 times as many edits (35 vs. 4.5 in median edits). They also edited more articles during the pilot (10 vs. 3 on average).
  • 68% of mentored editors remained active in April 2015, the month after the end of pilot, whereas only 22% of non-mentored editors remained active.
  • Editors using the Co-op waited far less time for mentorship to begin (12 hours) compared to the only other mentorship space on en.wiki, Adopt-a-user (4 days).
  • Despite being geared toward newer editors, the Co-op was utilized by more experienced editors who reported having positive and constructive experiences through mentorship.

Based on our findings, the Co-op appears to facilitate positive and productive experiences for editors. As such, we have reopened the Co-op for general use. Our team feels that the broader editing community can begin to take charge of the Co-op to promote its maintenance and growth. There are certainly areas where our mentorship space can be improved, some of which can be found on our phabricator task board. In order for the Co-op to succeed, we also need mentors who are willing to engage with and help teach newer editors. Mentors need not be good at everything on Wikipedia, and can choose to teach only in the areas they are comfortable. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, we invite you to sign up today.

We feel that the Co-op’s model of mentorship shows promise for providing a positive experience for newer editors. Whether you are looking for a mentor, or want to be a mentor, we invite you to check out and participate in the Co-op!

I JethroBT
Co-op Project Manager

by ijethrobot at July 31, 2015 07:30 PM

News on Wikipedia: New exoplanet discovered, Tour de France concludes, and more

New on Wikipedia lead image for the week of July 27th.jpg

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Kepler-452b unearthed

Kepler-452b artist concept.jpg
An artist’s impression of the newly-discovered planet. Image by NASA, in the public domain.

On Wednesday (July 23), NASA announced the discovery of Kepler-452b, an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting Kepler-452. The discovery, made by the Kepler space telescope, is 1,400 light-years from our solar system—so at the speed of the New Horizons probe (37,000 mph/60,000 km/h), it would take 26 million years to reach. It is the sixth-most Earth-like exoplanet known to date, and the first potentially rocky (that is, not gaseous) superplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of its sun.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Kepler-452b

Controversy over Burundi election

Pierre Nkurunziza 2014 press conference (cropped).jpg
Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term as President of Burundi in an election some claim was illegitimate. Image by the US Department of State, in the public domain.

In last week’s Burundian presidential election, held last Tuesday (July 21), Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term as the President of Burundi. The election was unusual in that all but one of Nkurunziza’s opponents withdrew from the ballot following the announcement that he would be nominated by his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy. US President Barack Obama, speaking to the African Union in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (July 28), criticised Nkurunziza’s refusal to step down following the end of his term.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Burundian presidential election, 2015

Froome claims Tour de France

Tour de France 2015, groep gele trui (20036329866) (cropped).jpg
Chris Froome won his second Tour de France this week. Image by Filip Bossuyt, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

British cyclist Chris Froome won this year’s Tour de France on Sunday (July 26). He wore the yellow jersey, which signifies the race leader, from Stage 7 (July 10) onwards, and successfully defended his overall lead all the way through Stage 21 on July 26. He also won the mountains classification. The young rider classification went to the Colombian rider Nairo Quintana, who finished second overall; the points classification and “green jersey” was won by Slovak Peter Sagan. Movistar Team won the team classification.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Tour de France, Chris Froome

American dentist kills Zimbabwe’s “Cecil”

There are a number of lions at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Image by Flickr user Laura (cardamom), freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Zimbabwean officials say a dentist from Bloomington, Minnesota, killed an iconic lion in Zimbabwe‘s Hwange National Park this month. The lion, named “Cecil“, was a star attraction at the game reserve, and his death sparked a backlash against its apparent hunter. Cecil was lured outside the park and wounded with a crossbow before being shot, beheaded, and skinned two days later. It is thought that the hunter paid around $50,000 in bribes to be able to access Cecil.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Hwange National Park, Cecil (lion)

Windows 10 launches

Satya Nadella.jpg
Windows 10 is the first new operating system released under CEO Satya Nadella. Image by Leweb Photos, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

American computing giant Microsoft‘s newest operating system, Windows 10, officially launched to the public on Wednesday (July 29). It is the first operating system released under the reign of company CEO Satya Nadella, and aims to unify Microsoft’s operating systems already in use on its Windows Phone and Xbox One devices. It follows their previous flagship operating system, Windows 8, and will be available on both desktop and mobile under the same name.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Windows 10

Photo montage credits: “Lion-hwange.jpg” by Flickr user Laura (cardamom), CC-BY 2.0; “Pierre Nkurunziza 2014 press conference (cropped).jpg” by the US Department of State, in the public domain; “Tour de France 2015, groep gele trui (20036329866) (cropped).jpg” by Filip Bossuyt, CC-BY 2.0; “Kepler-452b artist concept.jpg” by NASA, in the public domain; “Satya_Nadella.jpg” by Leweb Photos, CC-BY 2.0; Collage by Andrew Sherman

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 31, 2015 06:44 PM

100 years after its release, watch the first Alice in Wonderland film for free

Alice in Wonderland (1915) by American Film Manufacturing Company. Movie by W.W. Young, public domain.

It has been 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland first reached the minds of millions of readers around the world, starting a global fascination with an adventurous little girl in a strange land. The novel was first written in 1865 by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under his pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The classic tale tells us about a girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures. Fifty years later, the first Alice in Wonderland film was released in January 1915.

From its introduction in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the metaphor “down the rabbit hole” references an entry into the unknown, an analogous experience of many Wikipedia readers. The structure and design of Wikipedia embodies the joy of falling down the (knowledge) rabbit hole, hopping from one Wikipedia article to the next, discovering previously unknown subjects.

The full silent film exists in the public domain and is available to watch for free on Wikimedia Commons. Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham - 15 - At this the whole pack rose up into the air and came flying down upon her.jpg
Illustration of Alice and the playing cards. Illustration by Obakeneko, public domain

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

Andrew Sherman, Digital Communications Intern, Wikimedia Foundation
Michael Guss, Research Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation

by Andrew Sherman and Michael Guss at July 31, 2015 03:53 PM

July 30, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Bangladesh celebrates as Bangla Wikipedia turns 10

10th year anniversary of Bengali Wikipedia.jpg
Jimmy Wales with the Wikipedians and guests at the Gala Event. Photo by Sukanta Das, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The tenth anniversary of the Bangla Wikipedia was marked by Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) with a series of events across the country. Through the first ever nationwide event, over the course of seven months, we endeavored to engage and train as many volunteers and Wikipedians as possible to organize events and increase outreach in every division of Bangladesh.

Jimmy Wales attended the Gala Event in February 2015 to mark the anniversary. The State Minister for ICT Divisions, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, attended the 10th Anniversary Conference as the chief guest, where over 300 old and new Wikipedians from Bangladesh and India took part.

Bangla Wikipedia was launched in January 2004, and the site now boasts more than 36,000 articles edited by over 100 active Wikipedians. The 10th anniversary programs were originally scheduled for 2014, but a national parliamentary election and subsequent political instability meant events were postponed to the first half of 2015.

Our strategic priorities included increasing the Bangla Wikipedia’s reach in the country, as well as training existing and new Wikipedians to make quality contributions. We hosted and kindled several initiatives and events, including Wikipedia workshops, rewards for the best Wikipedians, a photography contest, photowalks, school programs, a gala event, and a tenth anniversary conference. Telecommunication service provider Grameenphone provided financial and logistic support to organize the divisional workshops and a tenth anniversary press-conference. The rest of the events were organized by WMBD with funds from the Wikimedia Foundation.

The best contributor among the new Wikipedians receives an award from guests, including Jimmy Wales, at the Gala Event. Photo by Shabab Mustafa, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The seven month-long tenth anniversary celebration included a wide variety of events:

  • The celebration began with a press conference held in November 2014, which was attended by many of the prominent news sources in Bangladesh. The newsmen were briefed about the event outline, the growth of the Bangla Wikipedia over the past decade, and our goals for the events.
  • The “Bangla Wikipedia Photography Contest” began on September 1, 2014 and lasted until December 31. The theme of the contest was landscape and heritage of Bangladesh. Participants were asked to upload photos onto Wikimedia Commons, and more than 4,600 were submitted.
  • The first of the seven divisional workshops was held on November 29, 2014 in Chittagong. Grameenphone sponsored seven workshops, which were held in all seven divisions of Bangladesh. Separate from these, a number of Wikipedia workshops were organized by WMBD in partnership with universities in Dhaka and Rajshahi. The workshops provided hands-on training to the participants on contributing and editing Bangla Wikipedia, and were attended by university students and new Wikipedians. The best three participants of each workshops, based on their contributions (over a time period of two months) to Bangla Wikipedia, were then invited to the Gala Event.
  • The Gala Event was held in February 2015 in Dhaka with Jimmy Wales in attendance as the chief guest. The event was attended by around 300 invited participants, including Wikimedians, other guests from different universities, and from the government. A panel discussion was held with Jimmy Wales, Munir Hasan (President of WMBD), representatives from Telecom operators partnered with Wikipedia Zero, and education activists. They discussed ways for fostering free availability of knowledge and information through Wikimedia projects in Bangladesh.
  • Eight photowalks were held in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Rangpur, aiming to engage and encourage photographers to contribute photos to Wikimedia Commons. A second goal was to collect photographs of architectural, historical, and archaeological sites in Bangladesh. An average of ten to fifteen photographers attended each photowalk, which covered Old Dhaka, the National Botanical Garden, Chittagong University, Puthia Temple Complex, and Sylhet city.

Bangla Wikipedia Workshop at Chittagong Independent University. Photo by Nahid Sultan, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Best WIkipedian award and photography contest winners, organizers and guests at the 10th anniversary conference. Photo by Kanon Ahammad, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

  • The main program in the series was the Bangla Wikipedia 10th Anniversary Conference, held on May 30, 2015 at Daffodil International University. The conference acted as the biggest gathering of Bangla Wikipedia contributors from both Bangladesh and India. There were a number of workshops and sessions at the program, including Collaboration between the Bangladeshi and Indian Bengali Wikipedians and Increasing women contributors in the growth of Bangla Wikipedia, with many concentrating on creating quality articles and contributing to Wikimedia Commons. There were over 320 participants, and the best Bangladeshi contributors over the last decade were recognized alongside the best three photographers of the photography contest. Eminent writer and journalist Anisul Hoque inspired the attendance by describing how useful Wikipedia is to him. The conference received substantial press coverage.
  • The Wikipedia School Programs were designed more to encourage students to effectively use Wikipedia for their benefit than to contribute to it. It was held on June 16, 2015 at Shaheed Police Smrity School & College in Dhaka; about 80 students from 9th to 12th grade were present, including five teachers. Students were provided with leaflets that contained brief instructions about using and contributing to the Bangla Wikipedia. It was the first time in the country that a Wikipedia-related event was held in a school.

Instead of holding one program to mark the anniversary, this series of events allowed us to conduct extensive outreach programs across Bangladesh that increased reach and included hands-on training for Wikipedians. One of our key purposes in organizing this series of events was to involve the new volunteers with the old ones and enhance organizing capacity through volunteer engagement.

This also provided advantage in terms of organizational effectiveness, as local volunteers in cities where no Wikipedia related activities had ever been held could organize programs by themselves—of the many Bangla Wikipedia events held in the past, almost all were in Dhaka and Chittagong. A few Wikipedians hailed from other areas of the country.

Our events covered all seven divisional cities, thus paving the way for growing Wikipedia communities in those areas of the country. It is imperative for Wikimedia affiliates to involve people from different places and backgrounds to disseminate the Wikimedia movement in a wider context, and to increase editor diversity in the Wikimedia community.

Tanweer MorshedExecutive Committee MemberWikimedia Bangladesh

by Tanweer Morshed at July 30, 2015 06:05 PM

Tec de Monterrey students complete two major video projects


Creating content and gaining experience with Wikipedia. Video by Daniel Ulacia and others, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Students from Tec de Monterrey in Mexico have been working through the Wiki Learning User Group/Education Program with video projects related to Wikipedia, both to create tutorial videos in Spanish and to create a brief documentary about what students have been doing on Wikipedia at the institution. The activities have opened doors not only to new ways to get involved in Wikimedia, but have also allowed students from both the high school and university divisions to collaborate. These experiences has proven quite valuable for all the participants involved.

In January 2015, students began Creando contenido, experiencias de aprender con Wikipedia (Creating content: learning experiences with Wikipedia), a project to create a brief film documentary of Wikipedia activities done at the institution and what their effects have been. The impetus for the project was a meeting between documentary filmmaker and Tec de Monterrey professor Daniel Ulacia and Wiki Learning coordinator Leigh Thelmadatter. Daniel had attended one of the general Wikipedia workshops for professors but was more interested in having his media arts students directly use the skills they learn in class, rather to write or translate articles about them. Brainstorming led to the idea of documenting student activities on video, with the aim of premiering it at Wikimania 2015. The video will also be used to present Wikipedia and ideas for activities in classes and other campus activities not only at the Mexico City campus, but also throughout the 32-campus system in Mexico.

Three high school media arts students began the project: Lourdes Daniela Tapia Gallegos, Jesús Alejandro Lee Lau, and Luis Francisco Peñaloza Ramírez during the Spring (Jan–May) 2015 semester. During this time, they conducted interviews (such as one with Anna Koval of the Wikipedia Education Program), and filmed activities related to the Tec de Monterrey’s first editathon, Experiencias Retadoras from 4-6 March 2015. They also did the initial editing of the final project, all under the supervision of Daniel Ulacia.

File:Como subir multimedia a Wikimedia Commons.webm

How to upload files to Wikimedia Commons. Video by AnaBelinda1992 and others, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

However, while the main structure of the video had taken shape, it was not possible to complete the project by the end of the semester. We solved this with a Wiki Learning program that allows university students to earn community service hours (required by Mexican law) working with Wikipedia. This attracted some students from the school’s Digital Arts and Animation department (LAD, acronym in Spanish), who had done some very simple animation projects. Naomi Iwadare was one of these, and was asked to assemble a group of fellow students to work on this project during the summer session: Ana Belinda Guerrero, Ana Cecilia Escamilla,Juan Erostique, Ingrid Hernandez, Alfredo Ponce and narrator Francisco Velasco. These students took over, polished the work, redid some parts, and created an overall narration to tie the filmed segments together. The video is a very brief overview of the work that students have done, with emphasis on innovative projects such as photography, creating subtitles, animations, maps up to and including the creation of the video itself.

In addition to creating this ambitious project, the same group of university students worked to create a short tutorial in Spanish about uploading files into Commons, titled Cómo subir archivos a Wikipedia Commons (How to upload files to Wikimedia Commons). Working with Commons has been an important aspect of Wiki Learning activities and will continue to be. This video was created as a tool not only to support growth of this kind of work with more professors on more campuses, but also to support the upcoming major Wiki event in September 2015, a Wiki expedition covering several boroughs of Mexico City. More about the making of this video can be seen in the Education bulletin article. It should be mentioned that this was a student-led project, with Daniel Ulacia and Leigh Thelmadatter acting mostly as advisers.

Reflections on the experience of creating these videos have been quite positive. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it provides experience working with a real-world or authentic project, one that will have an effect on the world outside the physical campus. Ana Ceclia and Ingrid noted that it offered an opportunity to “give back “ to Wikipedia, a source they have long relied upon for basic information. Luis Francisco and Lourdes noted that that it the idea of showing what Tec de Monterrey is doing through a project that has “global impact.” Luis Francisco also noted that the project was “more dynamic as we worked with the teacher… he taught us not only to edit and film but also other things… tips that he knows.” Lourdes added that in class “…the teacher teaches in an abstract, but here we put it into practice.”

The university students have all talked about how working together functioned well in part because they were all friends beforehand, but working together on such challenging projects made them like family. They tackled problems that arose, negotiating solutions both among themselves and with Daniel, working to integrate their ideas with those of the high school students that worked before. Ingrid stated that “By the end of the “Creando contenido” project, we were all really tired, but so proud of what we accomplished.”

Participants in the project after its premiere at Wikimania 2015. Photo by AlejandroLinaresGarcia, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The participants in these projects and their roles are:

  • Daniel Ulacia – director of the Creando contenido, experiencias de aprender con Wikipedia project
  • Naomi Iwadare– group leader for both projects
  • Lourdes Daniela Tapia Gallegos – filming, narration and editing
  • Jesús Alejandro Lee Lau – filming, narration and editing
  • Luis Francisco Peñaloza Ramírez –filming, narration and editing
  • Alfredo Ponce – animation, filming and editing
  • Ingrid Hernández Hernández –video and sound editing and narration
  • Ana Cecila Escamilla – animation, editing and filming
  • Ana Belina Guerrero –animation, editing and narration
  • Juan Erostique – animation, filming and editing
  • Francisco Velasco – narration

Leigh Thelmadatter
Wiki Learning
Tec de Monterrey

by Leigh Thelmadatter at July 30, 2015 06:02 PM

Wikidata, coming soon to a menu near you

Wikidata tastydata.svg
The logotype for the Wikidata Menu Challenge. Logo by Offnfopt, freely licensed under CC0 1.0

Knowing what you put into your mouth is something a lot of people are interested in, especially if you are a vegan, have a food allergy, avoid some ingredients for religious reasons, or if you are just a bit picky. However, when traveling it is often tricky to know what you are ordering.

The statistic before, during and after the Menu Challenge. Graph by John Andersson (WMSE), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

At Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), we like food, traveling, and most certainly like open data, so we started contemplating what we could do to make life a bit easier for the frequent flyer. What we ended up with was “Restaurants and Wikidata 2015,” where we hoped to show what open data can bring to all kinds of different sectors. We were able to make it all happen thanks to Vinnova‘s investment in the Nordic Open Data Week.

A couple of months ago we initiated a cooperation with the food fair Smaka på Stockholm (“Taste of Stockholm”) and from them we received 30 menus from participating restaurants in advance. From these menus we identified roughly 300 different food related terms and during three weeks in May we hosted the Wikidata Menu Challenge where volunteers from all over the world were invited to translate ingredients, cooking methods and dishes and pair them with appropriate images and sound recordings of native speakers pronouncing the words.

Our awesome marquee at Smaka på Stockholm. Photo by Jan Ainali, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

All this was done in the open and was accessible from the start through Wikidata.org. Wikidata is a collection of structured data that can be edited by computers and people alike. The knowledgebase is easy for computers to understand and therefore the information can easily be included in various products. A main focus is of course Wikipedia, but the possibilities are unlimited, which was what we wanted to show with this project. All these translations and all the media were then automatically pulled from Wikidata and repackaged into nice multilingual menus.

Overall 183 people edited the 300 items on Wikidata and added a whooping 4,700 translations, as well as 102 images and 1,140 recordings of pronunciations. In total there were 9,057 edits, which can be compared with 493 edits the month before. A full 1 832 120 bytes were added during the Challenge. Since the items had also been worked on prior to the Challenge a total of 19,274 translations in 349 languages existed by the time we started showing the menus at the food fair. Additionally 284 of the 300 items had images and almost all had audio recordings in at least one language.

The QR codes at the restaurants are placed. Photo by Arild Vågen, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

In parallel with the challenge we also worked on developing the design of the menus, based on the initial design by User:Denny, and make it possible to display both images and sound on them. Thanks to great volunteer support we could work on the layout and customize the menus. Thursday, June 4, we opened up our tent at Smaka på Stockholm. We would stand there for four days and had loaded up with lots of brochures, posters, pens, stickers and more. On the tents of participating restaurants we had set up QR codes that linked to their translated menus.

Samsung had been kind enough to lend us a bunch of Tab 4 tablets on which we could demonstrate the menus to visitors and allow them to try them out for themselves. During the four days, thousands of people passed by our tent. That someone would stand at the food fair and talk about Wikipedia and Wikidata was not what the visitors expected and their surprise made a lot of people stop and ask us what was going on. The fact that we were not expected was in itself an ice breaker. Thanks to this we could also reach groups that we usually don’t reach. Overall we had more than 220 conversations about open data and the Wikimedia projects, and how to contribute to these. A result we are very pleased with! The reception was very good and there were lots of questions. People were impressed with the menus and there were a few that knew restaurant owners that they thought would love to implement this. Others noticed that some words were not translated in thier language and wondered how they could help to complete them. Some people stopped and talked with us for close to half an hour. The chapter got a handful of new members and we even had a couple of developers who came past and wanted to start volunteering on similar projects. As all the material is open data, free-content or free software the menus can now be used by any other restaurant owners who want to make their menus more easily understandable for tourists and others.

Take a look and see if they would be a good addition to your business! With the help of open data we can make traveling even more easy and enjoyable together.

John Andersson
Project Manager
Wikimedia Sverige

by John Andersson at July 30, 2015 06:01 PM

July 29, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

“One small step…”

Forty-six years ago this week, the Apollo 11 mission took three men into outer space. Two of them, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were the first humans to set foot on the surface of the Moon. It was a great achievement in human history, marked by Armstrong’s memorable phrase “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The photographs of that mission remain among the most recognizable in recent history.

Of the photograph of Aldrin taken by Armstrong on the lunar surface taken, Aldrin tweeted this week: “I have 3 words to describe why this photo Neil took of me is so iconic: Location, location, location.” The final photograph is not as famous. It is a photo uploaded by a Wikimedian taken by his grandfather of his mother as a young girl during this historic moment, a great example of how ordinary Wikimedians can contribute to documenting their world and its history.

Apollo 11 Launch2.jpg
Earth, Moon and Lunar Module, AS11-44-6643.jpg
5927 NASA.jpg
Aldrin Apollo 11.jpg
Apollo 11 bootprint 2.jpg
Land on the Moon 7 21 1969-repair.jpg

Robert Fernandez
Signpost editor-in-chief
English Wikipedia editor

This blog post was originally published in the Signpost, a news journal about the English Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community. It was slightly edited for publication on the Wikimedia Blog.

All photos are in the public domain: the first five are from NASA, and the final image is by Jack Weir.

by Robert Fernandez at July 29, 2015 04:41 AM

News on Wikipedia: New Horizons and Iran agreement

See story for photo credits.

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

New Horizons

Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg
The new images of Pluto taken by New Horizons are helping scientists learn about the dwarf planet. Image by NASA, in the public domain.

NASA‘s New Horizons probe became the first space probe to visit Pluto on Tuesday (July 14). The probe took several photographs of the dwarf planet, as well as its moon Charon, as it flew past. The probe came within 7,750 miles (12,472 km) of the surface of Pluto, the closest a probe has ever been to the planet, and its findings should allow researchers a clearer understanding of the planet’s makeup and geographic features.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: New Horizons, Pluto

Iran nuclear deal reached

Negotiations about Iranian Nuclear Program - the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Other Officials of the P5+1 and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iran and EU in Lausanne.jpg
The agreement had been under debate for years by the involved parties, and finally signed in Vienna. Image by United States Department of State, in the public domain.

The P5+1 countries—a group made up of the UN Security Council‘s five permanent members, namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany—reached an agreement with Iran on Tuesday (July 14) surrounding the country’s nuclear weapons. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed in Vienna following years of negotiation, and sees Iran cut down on various aspects of its nuclear capabilities in exchange for santion relief.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Nuclear program of Iran

Jules Bianchi dies

Jules Bianchi 2012-3.JPGBianchi, pictured here in 2012, was the subject of hundreds of tributes from his fellow professionals. Image by Henry Mineur, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Formula One driver Jules Bianchi died on Friday (July 17) following an incident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Bianchi had been in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Nice, France, since the incident in October, in which he lost control of his car in wet conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle. He is the first Formula One driver to be killed as a result of an accident during a race event since Ayrton Senna’s death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Jules Bianchi

US–Cuba relations restored

President Obama Meets with President Castro.png
Relations between the countries had been all but destroyed by the Cold War. Image by the United States Government, in the public domain.

The United States and Cuba, who severed ties in 1962 during the Cold War, officially reopened diplomatic relations on Monday (July 20). The so-called “Cuban Thaw” began in December last year, as Barack Obama and Rubén Castro announced plans to rebuild their nations’ relationship following months of secret talks, apparently also involving Pope Francis.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Cuban Thaw, Cuba–United States relations

Suicide blast on Turkish border

The targeted victims were gathered for a press statement on the rebuilding of Kobanî, seen here. Photo by VOA, in the public domain.

A bombing in the Turkish district of Suruç, Şanlıurfa Province—on the border with Syria—on Monday (July 20) killed 32 people and injured 104. The bombing targeted members of the youth wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, the Socialist Youth Associations Federation. They were listening to a press statement on the rebuilding of Kobanî, a Syrian city around ten kilometers from Suruç that had been under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces. The latter group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Suruç bombing, Syrian–Turkish border incidents during the Syrian civil war

Traffic spikes

Page view data for News on Wikipedia- July 14–21.png
Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Clearly, NASA‘s flyby of former planet Pluto with its New Horizons probe was the most popular article in this week’s roundup, likely helped by the dwarf planet’s appearance on the homepage of the English Wikipedia to commemorate the event. It attracted almost 220,000 page views on July 14 as the probe passed by.

Jules Bianchi‘s tragic and untimely passing led to many looking him up on Wikipedia, with nearly 105,000 people visiting his biography on July 18 as the news broke. The other three stories, in fact, were not nearly as accessed as his biography was; the article on the “plan of action” on Iran’s nuclear weapons was read by around 18,000 upon its signing last week.

The last two articles also hover around the 18,000 page view spike mark, and are both new creations as of this week. Both the terrorist bombings in Suruç and the newly coined “Cuban Thaw” spiked on July 21.

Photo montage credits: “Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg” by NASA, in the public domain; “Jules Bianchi 2012-3.JPG” by Henry Mineur, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “KobanéVOA1.JPG” by VOA, in the public domain; “Negotiations about Iranian Nuclear Program – the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Other Officials of the P5+1 and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Iran and EU in Lausanne.jpg.jpg” by United States Department of State, in the public domain; “President Obama Meets with President Castro.png” by the United States Government, in the public domain. Collage by Andrew Sherman

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 29, 2015 03:19 AM

Wikipedia Picks: a ‘bad-boy’ bishop and expensive tulips

Welcome to our second installment of ‘Wikipedia Picks,’ a new content experiment for the Wikimedia blog. This feature invites one Wikipedia community member to curate a list of five articles, images, or other content that they find interesting or important.

This week’s guest host is Victoria Short (Ealdgyth), who has written 60 featured articles on the English Wikipedia, in whole or as part of a team. Since Victoria started editing in 2007, she’s made over 86,000 edits; her favored topics range widely from horses to medieval bishops. In real life, she lives in the United States, where she owns five horses. For this week’s Wikipedia Picks, she selected five articles, two of which she personally worked on. As always with Wikipedia Picks, the choices and comments are the editor’s, and are not endorsed by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The ‘bad-boy’ bishop

Saint Louis Psalter 17 recto.jpg
This Life of Christ illuminated psalter was meant for reading. Despite its appearance, this is parchment. Artwork by unknown, currently held by Leiden University, public domain.

Geoffrey (archbishop of York): I’ve been accused of writing about “bad-boy bishops” before, and this is the epitome of a bad-boy bishop. He had the Angevin temper, an absolute inability to let any sort of controversy go, and the amazing ability to be involved in six or seven fights at once. Often embroiled in difficulties with his half-siblings, Geoffrey’s main virtue was his loyalty to their father. I’ve always been fascinated by Geoffrey, who displayed most of the virtues and most of the vices of his famous father. All in all—you have to agree with Douie that he was a “formidable bastard” … in more than one respect.

The slave trader and swindler

Engraving of Monroe Edwards from the frontispiece of Life and Adventures of the Accomplished Forger and Swindler, Colonel Monroe Edwards.jpg
Edwards was a modern-day Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me If You Can fame), albeit much less successful. Engraving by unknown, public domain.

Monroe Edwards: I came to this subject in a very roundabout way. My interest in Thoroughbred horse history led me to write George Wilkes, who was an early American sports journalist and racing writer (among other things). While doing some research on him, I was pointed to the American National Biography article on Edwards—who was just fascinating to my “bad boy” interests. A slave trader, forger, and swindler, all in one! And I’d actually been to the part of Texas he had his plantation on, which made it more interesting. This is the sort of article I think Wikipedia does best – bringing some obscure part of history back into the limelight.

The man who could fake Vermeers

Das letzte Abendmahl von Han van Meegeren (1939).jpg
Using the style of Vermeer, Meegeren painted The Last Supper I in 1939. Photo by Nationaal Archief NL, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

Han van Meegeren: A different type of forger, I read about this guy when I was very young and it may be one reason why I’ve always been fascinated by tales of swindlers and forgers. A man who swindled Hermann Goring, a Nazi politician, and managed to pull the wool over the eyes of many art critics and historians. And after his death, his forgeries became collectible themselves. Definitely a different type of art, for sure.

How much money would you pay for a tulip bulb?

A source for our knowledge of the tulip mania; note the exorbitant 3,000–4,200 florin price. Republished from Verzameling Van Een Meenigte Tulipaanen (1637), public domain.

Tulip mania: This is an excellent article on the classic “investment swindle” of all time which is actually as much a story of intellectual swindling – as it now appears that the classic account of the hysteria was itself very limited and had no where near the scope originally argued for it. An intellectual simplification up there with “medieval people thought the world was flat”.

Female genital mutilation

Campaign road sign against female genital mutilation (cropped) 2.jpg
A Ugandan campaign against female genital mutilation, 2004. Photo by Amnon Shavit, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.

Female genital mutilation: Turning from frauds, swindles, and forgeries… the last article I remain fascinated with details a controversial practice that is very much real. As a woman, I cannot imagine what constraints of social mores lead women to do this to their own female relatives. A great article on a scarily prevalent practice that horrifies the reader.

Victoria Short (Ealdgyth)
English Wikipedia editor

This story is part of an ongoing content experiment to produce more interesting stories for you, the reader of the Wikimedia blog. Please leave comments below on how we can improve this proposed feature.

by Victoria Short at July 29, 2015 01:24 AM

July 27, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

It’s all due to hockey: Kunal Mehta’s journey from casual editor to programming mentor

Shark head.jpg
San Jose Sharks’ pre-game entrance before the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16, 2007. Kunal’s first edits to Wikipedia were made to the article about the 2006–07 San Jose Sharks season a month later. Picture by Eliot a.k.a. pointnshoot, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

For Wikimedia Foundation software engineer Kunal Mehta, it’s all due to hockey. “I discovered Wikipedia through Google, and started using it directly for looking up various sports statistics and other general knowledge. I soon discovered that they weren’t always up-to-date and started updating them myself after the hockey games I watched.”

A native of San Jose, California and an avid Sharks fan, Kunal—also known by his nickname Legoktm—credits his Wikipedia beginnings with a thirst for hockey knowledge. “When I first started editing Wikipedia in 2007, I was really into hockey, so I mainly edited hockey-related articles. Eventually, I found my way to the meta side to the project, discovered AWB, and got my first bot approved. I soon found out about pywikibot, and tried writing a custom bot to automatically write articles about hockey players—except I didn’t know Python.”

A self-described free and open knowledge enthusiast, Kunal wasn’t about to give up. He learned programming in Python from the Python Programming book on Wikibooks and started running bots to perform tedious and mundane edits to improve Wikipedia. However, it wasn’t until late 2012 that Kunal got truly involved with MediaWiki, the software that’s powering Wikipedia. “I got frustrated that AbuseFilter bugs that I had reported weren’t being fixed and tried to fix them myself. I say ‘tried,’ because my first patch had a syntax error in it and partially broke the AbuseFilter for 30 minutes after being deployed.”

MassMessage, written by Kunal, provides a simple interface to sending notices, newsletters and other publications to a mass audience. It is currently used to deliver Wikipedia Signpost. VisualEditor newsletter, Tech News, and others. Screenshot by MZMcBride, public domain.

Over the years, Kunal changed his role from a bot operator to an active developer, helping to rewrite pywikibot to its current version, as well as creating and maintaining several MediaWiki extensions. “I’m still partial to MassMessage, which was the first major MediaWiki project I worked on”, he says. “At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into until Siebrand Mazeland talked with me during the 2013 Wikimania in Hong Kong and explained the things I’d need to do—and find other people to help me with—to get it deployed.” After a summer’s worth of work, the extension was enabled on Wikipedia, and is currently being used to deliver important community-wide notices, newsletters, and other publications, including the English Wikipedia’s Signpost and Tech News.

Looking back at that time, Kunal says: “Seeing my name on Special:Version—a page that lists people who wrote MediaWiki and its extensions—next to some awesome people that I looked up to was an amazing feeling. MassMessage is still my favorite because it got me deeply involved into development, and I had to work with different parts of MediaWiki to put it together. When people have questions, I can often point them to a code sample in MassMessage to show how we worked around or fixed something.”

In addition to his daily work at the Wikimedia Foundation, Kunal has been giving back to the community by coaching new MediaWiki developers. In 2014, he mentored two Google Summer of Code projects which allowed email bouncing in MediaWiki and improved target list handling in MassMessage, and is currently co-mentoring a tool called crosswatch that aims to create a much-requested watchlist for multiple Wikimedia projects in one page. “We could really use some testing from editors,” Kunal says, inviting people to report suggestions and problems with the new tool.

As we neared the end of our interview, I asked Kunal about the good and the bad in MediaWiki. True to his own admission of “not being a good writer,” he provides me with a bulleted list of things that are “concerning”: a growing gap between editors and developers, the popular misconception about MediaWiki being “the thing that powers Wikipedia” instead of “the free and open source software that also powers Wikipedia,” and the sad fate of useful features that reach beta stage but end up being abandoned.

On the “awesome” side, Kunal lists the continued work on improving MediaWiki’s architecture and the much-awaited VisualEditor, which provides a WYSIWYM (“what you see is what you mean”) interface to editing Wikipedia.

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Tomasz Kozlowski at July 27, 2015 09:29 PM

July 21, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

“Becoming involved in making the changes you want to see”: Leigh Thelmadatter

Leigh Thelmadatter photographed for the 2012 Wikimedia Foundation fundraising campaign. Photo by Karen Sayre for the Wikimedia Foundation, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

“I think that Wikimedia and similar movements offer at least the idea that we can make more information available more easily to more people,” says Leigh Thelmadatter. For an education professional like her, these are certainly not words without meaning.

“In Mexico, the issue isn’t really so much money, as the country is not all that poor. The issue is promoting the value of becoming actively involved in making the changes you want to see happen,” Leigh continues. “It’s one thing to say that the world should see Mexico as more than just beaches and the Mexico-US border, but quite another to work to make that information available yourself rather than thinking that ‘authorities’ should do this.”

A Wikipedia contributor since 2007, Leigh is a Regional Ambassador for the Wikipedia Education Program in Mexico and an English as a Foreign Language professor at the Tec de Monterrey, one of the biggest multi-campus universities in Latin America. She is also a contributor to this blog and a coordinator at Tec de Monterrey Wiki Learning, an officially recognized Wikimedia user group operating at the university.

Picture of a street car selling bolillos in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, used in the article about Mexican breads written by Leigh. Taken by Leigh’s husband Alejandro Linares García, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Small ceramic figures for sale at the Tianguis de Domingo de Ramos in Uruapan, Mexico. Photo by Alejandro Linares García, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Leigh’s beginnings with Wikipedia are directly related to her life of a self-professed vagabond. Born in New York, she has also lived in New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Arizona, abroad in Germany, and finally moved to Mexico in 2003. “After a few years here in Central Mexico, I found I needed to improve my Spanish and get a better understanding of what was around me,” she recalls. “I put these two things together and started reading in Spanish about the towns I experienced—as the best and often only information is available in this language—and writing Wikipedia articles in English.” Thinking back to her first days as a Wikipedian, she says, humbly, “In 2007, the coverage of Mexico on the English Wikipedia was atrocious. Today, I like to think it is a bit less so.”

Once Leigh got started, she continued to edit both from personal and professional motivations. “Personally, I like the idea that I can do something not too many people can do: write about Mexico in English and about topics that most [people from outside of the country] don’t think about exploring. I know these articles are read, and hopefully they help people get a fuller understanding of Mexico and its culture.”

As for the professional level, Leigh says that working with Wikipedia gives her a kind of niche. “Tec de Monterrey has 32 campuses around the country, and I am known as ‘the Wikipedia teacher’ at least at the Mexico City area campuses and at the main campus in Monterrey. Collaboration with the Tec allows me to experiment with activities I could not do on my own, for example animation and video, and to work with entities such as the Festival Internacional Cervantino and the Tec’s library at the Mexico City campus where we organized a mega-edit-a-thon last March.”

During her almost 8 years as a Wikipedian, Leigh has written over 750 articles on the English Wikipedia, mostly about topics in Mexico. She even admits to having persuaded her husband, Alejandro, to contribute to Wikipedia, too; together they travel the country in search of subjects to cover on Wikipedia. “Most of our weekend and vacation trips are now wiki-expeditions. Alejandro takes pictures and I take notes and write articles later. Our last expedition was to Uruapan, Michoacán, to see the city and its annual Domingo de Ramos handicraft fair.”

Leigh’s work on Wikipedia is far from finished. “I’m generally not keen on talking about future plans in detail; I guess I’m just a little superstitious. I will say, however, that there is some promise in our current video projects, and in collaborations with local governments for students and any Wikimedians who want to work with us. In September, we will organize a wiki-expedition for about 70 participants, likely covering the Mexico City boroughs of Xochimilco and Tlalpan.” She also hopes to increase online support from the Spanish Wikipedia community, calling her fellow Wikimedians to action, particularly for those who’d like to mentor students during their work on Wikipedia. “A few have already started doing this, and I’m really thankful to Jarould in particular for his support.”

Speaking about the future of the Wikimedia movement, Leigh says: “I believe that much of Wikimedia’s future, especially the writing and maintenance of Wikipedia articles, will lie with the Wikipedia Education Program and GLAM collaborations. There is simply no way to get collaboration with the people who have the kinds of knowledge and skills that we need without these programs. We will need to find a way to provide credit, similar to that of having research published, and maybe for specialized articles, we’ll need to have some protection for a particular version—similar to what James Heilman did with the dengue fever article that was published in the Open Medicine journal in October 2014.”

Leigh’s reports on the work of the Tec de Monterrey Wiki Learning can be read on this blog.

Leigh’s husband Alejandro’s story was part of the 2012 Wikimedia Foundraising campaign.

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Wikimedia community volunteer

by Tomasz Kozlowski at July 21, 2015 09:48 PM

* Wikimedia Česká republika *

V Mexiku právě skončila Wikimanie 2015

Uvítací bannerV mexickém hlavním městě se v uplynulém týdnu uskutečnilo již jedenácté celosvětové setkání editorů Wikipedie, sesterských projektů Wikimedia a dalších souvisejících projektů, jako například OpenStreetMap. Tzv. „Wikimania“ probíhala v prostorách hotelu Hilton ve čtvrti Reforma.

Během prvních dvou dní se uskutečnila předkonference Hackaton, na které zazněly jak přednášky z technické oblasti, tak i setkání programátorů, kteří rozděleni dle zájmů ve skupinkách konzultovali své nápady a vylepšovali dosavadní projekty. Druhá z předkonferencí byla zaměřena na vzdělávání a projekty podobné českému Studenti píší Wikipedii. Třetí akcí byl WikiCON pořádaný Wikimedia Německo, kde se u kulatých stolů řešily nejpalčivější otázky poboček, jako je získávání financí, formáty setkávání či právní otázky.

Samotná konference byla zahájena ceremoniálem v sobotu ráno, při kterém promluvila výkonná ředitelka Wikimedia Foundation Lila Tretikov či starosta Ciudad de México Miguel Ángel Mancera. Další prezentace se věnovaly nejlepším projektům uplynulého roku, kde byl například zmiňován arménský wikikemp, při kterém se více než 300 studentů naučilo pracovat s Wikipedií. V dalších přednáškách se mluvilo o práci právního týmu Nadace, který pomáhá uživatelům, kteří se dostanou kvůli editování wikiprojektů do problémů. Nechyběla ani odlehčující prezentace o perličkách nasbíraných při kontrolování článků.

Odpolední hodiny byly věnovány setkáním uživatelů se stejnými zájmy; zájemci se tak mohli například zapojit do diskuze mezi učiteli-wikipedisty či se seznámit s plány tzv. CEE skupiny, která zahrnuje středo- a východoevropské pobočky – tedy i tu naši. Hlavním tématem CEE setkání bylo plánování zářijové konference, která se uskuteční nedaleko estonského města Tartu.

Z externích mluvčích přednášel o internetových vizích Luis von Ahn, zakladatel projektu Duolingo. Závěrečnou řeč konference vedl spoluzakladatel Wikipedie Jimmy Wales, který osobně vyzvedl zásluhy wikipedistů – z našeho regionu se jednalo o Susann Mkrtchyan z Arménie, která je jednou z nejvýraznějších postav místního wikihnutí.

Příští, dvanáctý ročník Wikimanie se bude konat již koncem června 2016 v italském městečku Esino Lario.

Podrobnější informace můžete nalézt v reportu na Wikipedii.

by Honza Groh at July 21, 2015 09:40 PM

July 20, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Victory in Italy: court rules in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation

Daughter of Niobe
Daughter of Niobe statue in the Uffizi gallery. Photo by Petar Milošević, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Today, we are happy to announce that the court of Rome has ruled in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation. MOIGE (Movimento Italiano Genitori, which translates as the Italian Parents Movement) is a self-described Italian social promotion organization for the protection of children. The group filed a lawsuit in Rome against the Wikimedia Foundation in March of 2011, aiming to have statements concerning its views on sensitive or controversial social topics removed from its Italian Wikipedia page.

MOIGE charged defamation because they claimed to have removed the information from their website a few years prior and no longer wished to be associated with those views. They argued that MOIGE had the “right to be forgotten” and that the content should be deleted because it damaged their image, name, and reputation. MOIGE sought €200,000 plus legal fees, removal of allegedly defamatory content, and publication of the sought-after judgment against the Wikimedia Foundation on the MOIGE Wikipedia article and Italian national newspapers.

The Wikimedia Foundation responded by explaining the Foundation’s role as a hosting provider, why the challenged statements about MOIGE were not defamatory, how MOIGE should have attempted to amend the statements, and why the “right to be forgotten” was inapplicable in this case.

After a four-year proceeding, the court of Rome ruled in favor of the Wikimedia Foundation.[1] The judgment (translated from the original Italian) confirmed the Foundation’s role as hosting provider, its neutrality in relation to the content created by its users, and the Foundation’s lack of liability for such content. The court recognized that the proper method for amending Wikipedia pages is to follow the procedure available on the website, not by asking the hosting provider to make requested changes.

The opinion stated: “it is clear that the hosting provider is in a neutral position with respect to the content of the information drafted by its users … And such neutrality of the hosting provider does not disappear just because the [Wikimedia Foundation], when informed of potentially illicit content of some of the material uploaded … may intervene to remove it.”

According to the court, Wikimedia Foundation, as hosting provider “provides a service which is based on the freedom of its users to draft the pages of the encyclopaedia: such freedom… is counterbalanced by the possibility for every user to amend or remove any content”.

The court recognized the effectiveness of Wikipedia’s model, noting “the page of the encyclopaedia dedicated to the MOIGE … has been modified many times since the start of the proceedings until today, … and this provides evidence of the described functioning of the encyclopaedia (which follows the so-called ‘wiki’ model) and of the suitability of the system developed by the [Wikimedia Foundation] to ‘self-correct’ pages through the amendments made by users.”

Wikipedia belongs to you, the global community who created it and continues to make it flourish. Wikipedia’s neutrality depends on the ability to stay uninfluenced by attempts to circumvent community policies and procedures through lawsuits. This ruling is a victory for all Wikipedians and for freedom of speech on the Internet.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Director*
Geoff Brigham, General Counsel

*We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the attorneys at Hogan Lovells in Italy, particularly Marco Berliri, Marta Staccioli, and Massimiliano Masnada, for their exemplary legal representation and dedication to the Wikimedia movement. Special thanks to Christine Bannan, WMF legal intern, for her assistance on this blog post.


    1. This decision is binding and enforceable, but MOIGE has the opportunity to appeal the case within six months from the publication of the judgment.


by Michelle Paulson and Geoff Brigham at July 20, 2015 10:33 PM

July 18, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Konkani Wikipedia goes live after nine years of incubation

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Wikimedian Darshan Kandolkar shares his experience of contributing to Konkani Wikipedia. Video in Konkani. Video by Wikimedia India, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The Goan Konkani Wikipedia (available at gom.wikipedia.org) has gone live after spending nine long years in incubation.

An Indo-Aryan language, of the Indo-European family of languages, Konkani is the official language of Goa. It is a minority language in other Indian states, such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, northern Kerala, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. It is spoken by about 7.4 million people.

Konkani can be written in five different scripts: Devanagari—officially used by the Government of Goa—as well as Latin (locally known as Romi Konkani), Kannada, Malayalam, and Persian. Of these, the Goan Antruz dialect of the language, in the Devanagari script, is considered standard by the Indian constitution.

Women editors of Konkani Wikipedia celebrating after a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in Goa University, Goa, India. Photo by Subhashish Panigrahi, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Konkani Wikipedia has many heroes, as we see them. Melissa Simoes and Darshan Kandolkar are two of the many long-term contributors who joined during the Konkani Wikipedia @ Goa University program and are still active even after the program formally concluded. Darshan is an assistant professor at the Government College Pernem in Goa. His professor at Goa University, Dr. Madhavi Sardesai—who passed away last year—played a vital role in inspiring him to go for higher studies in Konkani. Darshan realized that there is a lot to be written in Konkani when he was introduced to Wikipedia, and after that, he became dedicated to contributing to the project.

“I would like to bring more students as contributors to our Konkani Wikipedia,” Darshan says. “My aim is to start with my students at Government College Pernem. Being an alumnus of Goa University, I also want my juniors there to join our community and enrich Konkani Wikipedia.”

“I have a dream to start a project for the freedom fighters of Goa and involve a diverse set of people, from students to journalists and columnists. I also want to build partnership with educational institutions so we could engage with the students for a longer run and the existing Konkani community could mentor them,” he continues.

“Being a new Wikipedia project, Konkani Wikipedia needs more quality measures and the articles have to grow to good quality articles with more images and templates, I want to take it to the level of English Wikipedia with both quantitative and qualitative growth in articles!”

The Konkani Wikimedia community has been using social media actively to promote the Konkani Wikipedia project, and to celebrate the successes of its contributors. After Melissa became the top contributor to the project, her fellow editor Luis Gomes congratulated her. That brought Melissa into the spotlight, gaining the attention of editors from the global Wikimedia community. The community is continuing a tradition to rewarding the most prolific contributor of each month as the “Wikipedian of the Month”.

Melissa was introduced to the Wikipedia program at her university where the target for each participating student was to write one article each about a village in Goa. “I wrote my article just for the sake of the marks, but never bothered to think about why I am writing it. After the program was over, I became inactive on Wikipedia.

“After some time, I met Father [Luis Gomes] in parish and then Darshan and Father inspired me to resume editing. Then, it became an addiction and I never stopped even for a day. I would come back from work and sit in front of my computer.

“Now, I am a teacher, and my fellow teachers are mostly women. I would like to introduce the Goan Konkani Wikipedia to them so they could also contribute to Wikipedia,” Melissa says.

Frederick Noronha is a Wikimedian from Goa, India and has been active in many Wikimedia projects. He has been an early advocate for proposing the Konkani Wikipedia. Photo by Humanist Joyson Prabhu, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

As Konkani Wikipedia went live, long term Wikimedian Fredrick Noronha, an early advocate of Konkani Wikipedia, said, “It is a wonderful feeling to see the Goan Konkani Wikipedia live. I would like to congratulate all who have been involved in some or the other way with the making of Konkani Wikipedia live from the days of its inception and incubation.

“I am not a great contributor or even a language expert. I come from a content background and found my interest in Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Creative Commons long ago. But this helped me to associate myself in some way with the Konkani Wikipedia incubator. I am happy that CIS-A2K chipped in to help build a community and help it grow in collaboration with the Goa University.

“Students of the Konkani department in the university are the real heroes to take this effort forward by filling the Wikipedia incubator with more editing activity to which the institutional backing acted as catalyst,” he added.

Fredrick feels there are major challenges that the community now has to start taking measures for: “The macrolanguage is written in multiple scripts. Out of five of the scripts three—Devanagari, Romi/Latin and Kannada—are actively used in printing and publication currently. People using all the scripts should be equally participating in a movement like Wikipedia to take their languages to other native speakers using Wikipedia as a digital tool.

“The second challenge is with the contributors. Goa, being home to majority of the Konkani language speakers, has English education from the primary level. This means many have a great level of technical ability. The technical contributor community here would be of great use to Konkani Wikipedia if tapped,” he adds.

“The technical contributors are eager to contribute but have not been approached in a manner that would interest them. Similarly the Konkani authors who are helping propagate the language to masses have sadly no or very little clue about Wikipedia’s existence in Konkani. This disparity is stopping a massive flow of local encyclopedic content to the Konkani Wikipedia. Unless we tap into the technological and the linguistic groups it will be only a tip of the iceberg.”

Fredrick explains that the the current Konkani Wikipedia community is primarily made up of students of Goa University. “This is both good and bad,” he says. “Having young and enthusiastic students as Wikipedia editors is helping the project to leap forward, which might not have happened if the faculty were targeted instead. There is, however, a great need for diversification.

“The approach to bring in authors in the 60–70 years age group will vary from the approach to bring in, for example, technical people. Our outreach strategies should ultimately fulfill both the literary and technological contributors, so that their work can help us to both grow content and to solve the problem of the multiple scripts, respectively,” Fredrick adds.

The Konkani Wikipedia community is organizing a public seminar on July 18 at Goa University to celebrate the launch of the Konkani Wikipedia and to pay tribute to Dr. Madhavi Sardesai, who always dreamed of the Konkani Wikipedia getting out of incubation.

Subhashish PanigrahiWikimedian and Programme OfficerCentre for Internet and Society-Access To Knowledge (CIS-A2K)

by Subhashish Panigrahi at July 18, 2015 02:29 PM

Collective Impact for the Wikimedia Movement

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The Collective Impact session proved popular with attendees. Photo by Jason Krüger (WMDE), freely licensed under CC BY 4.0.

The Wikimedia movement can certainly be credited with developing innovative online methods of collaboration that have had an enormous impact and revolutionized how knowledge is created, accessed and shared. Now, to leverage human and financial resources in the quest for free and open knowledge, volunteers and organizations of our movement are increasingly engaging in partnerships with external groups and entities.

We can’t expect these partners, from multiple public and private backgrounds, to share all of our values, goals and methods. But what does this mean for how we work together with them?

To find answers, it’s helpful to look at the evidence base that exists on impactful partnerships. This is gathered by thousands of organizations, consultants and social scientists, and summarized under our broad framework known as Collective Impact.

At the recent Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, an impulse presentation on the Collective Impact framework created a great deal of discussion and enthusiasm.

Collective Impact is not a method, model, set of recipe, or a toolkit. Instead, it is a theoretical framework that allows for evidence on what makes multi-stakeholder coalitions successful, in terms of achieving change, to be gathered and documented.

The overarching idea is that complex social issues, those central to Wikimedia’s mission of unlocking the sum of all human knowledge, will not be resolved by one-off approaches or single players. It will instead require sophisticated initiatives, engaging partners from the many stakeholders in the issue. At Wikimedia Deutschland (Germany), for example, we are working with a very diverse set of partners including our many volunteers to the federal education department, local and state government entities, foundations, large corporations, small IT start-ups, NGOs, universities, research institutes, and schools.

The Collective Impact evidence base, collected and shared by the consulting firm FSG since 2009, is organized by the five characteristics that partnerships with proven impact all seem to have in common: A common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.

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Wikimedia Conference 2015 was held in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Habib M’henni, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0

Today, a growing body of Collective Impact learning resources and case studies is available on the Internet, so each of us can quickly become familiar with the approach. Together we can try to find, from the Wikimedia movement’s perspective, what we can learn and apply in regional and local partnerships. Which tools are most useful and helpful in building coalitions to promote open knowledge? What does the approach mean for those international collaborations many of us are interested in? What can Collective Impact teach us in terms of the meaningful engagement of volunteers and communities? What are some things we can contribute to the Collective Impact evidence base from a movement perspective?

Last but not least, what if we applied the Collective Impact approach to the whole movement? This question certainly provoked some interesting discussion at the Wikimedia Conference. We realized that the questions raised by the Chapters Dialogue were largely aligned with the five characteristics:

  • What do we as a movement want to achieve? Do we run a website, or foster free knowledge? Why are we doing the things we do, and what for?
  • How do we define impact when exploring new territory? And how do we measure success?
  • What is the role of the Wikimedia Foundation? And of the chapters?
  • How do we want to communicate with each other? How can we build the necessary empathy and learn from each other? How can we overcome the old narrative and perceptions?
  • Where does the money come from, and where should it go? Should money be the limiting factor when striving for Free Knowledge?
  • What movement framework is best suited to fulfill the Wikimedia mission?

The Collective Impact lens does indeed provide a framework for movement discussions. The movement’s impact and metrics are the most obvious hot issues that have been under discussion recently.

The last two Chapters Dialogue questions address money and governance, and are not as easily covered by the five Collective Impact characteristics. Rather, they are related to the Backbone and Mutually Reinforcing Activities characteristics. Here, Wikimedia organizations could enhance the Collective Impact knowledge base by adding the learnings of our global movement with democratic, participatory values and the reality of its power and funding structures.

So what’s next? For building local and regional partnerships with external entries, Wikimedia organizations could immediately start applying collective impact wisdom by determining what is the vision, values and strategies that your organization shares with its current and potential partners. Then, find out how your strengths and assets complement each other, and how these assets create something bigger than the sum of their parts.

Take time to develop, celebrate and strengthen partnerships before blindly diving into projects. Agree on the why, and then the how. Write it down. Develop a theory of change, together. Write it down… and once you start on joint initiatives, make sure the functions that form the collaboration’s backbone are appropriately funded and staffed.

Finally, communicate, not just within your initiatives, but with the movement as well. Let’s use existing movement channels, such as learning patterns, blogs, and metawiki, to start exchanging learnings, tools, and ideas. WMDE is looking forward to the journey!

For more on the Collective Impact framework, see Collective Impact Articles in the SSI Review and the Collective Impact Forum’s blog.

Nikki Zeuner
Wikimedia Deutschland

by Nikki Zeuner at July 18, 2015 02:20 PM

July 17, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Wikimedia Foundation releases third transparency report

This report demonstrates the Foundation’s continuing commitment to openness and transparency. Photo by Robert Emperley, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce the release of our latest transparency report. Transparency is one of Wikimedia’s core values, and we are committed to communicating clear and accurate information about Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to our user community.

In August 2014, we published our first transparency report, which detailed the number of requests we received to disclose user data or alter or remove content from the Wikimedia projects between July 2012 and June 2014. We updated the report in April 2015 with new data, real-life examples of the types of requests we receive, and additional categories such as “voluntary disclosures” and “right to be forgotten” requests.  We are happy to continue this tradition with our latest update, covering January to June 2015. During this time, we received 234 alteration or takedown requests and 23 user data requests, none of which we granted.

In summary, the report tracks five key data points:

Content alteration and takedown requests. None of the 234 general content removal requests we received during this time period were granted. Nine of the content alteration or takedown requests we received came from government entities. In general, we receive relatively few content removal requests because members of the Wikimedia community work hard to address any concerns relating to content accuracy and compliance with project policies. When we do receive takedown or alteration requests, we push back to ensure that Wikimedia platforms remain open, neutral, and uncensored, so that the community can decide what content belongs on Wikimedia projects.

Copyright takedown requests. During this period, Wikimedia received 21 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests and granted only three (14.3%) of those requests. Wikimedia users play a critical role in monitoring content to ensure copyright compliance; as a result, we receive very few DMCA requests compared to other technology companies. All DMCA requests that we do receive are thoroughly evaluated to determine whether the request is valid, whether the content is in fact infringing, and whether any legal exceptions (such as fair use) may apply.

Right to be forgotten. Wikimedia received four requests for content removal based on the “right to be forgotten,” and did not grant any of those requests. For more on the right to be Forgotten, we invite you to read our statement opposing the scope of the relevant European Court opinion and its implications for free knowledge.

Requests for user data. Wikimedia is strongly committed to protecting user privacy. None of the 23 user data requests we received (including informal government and non-government requests, one criminal subpoena, and one court order) resulted in the disclosure of nonpublic user information. Each request we receive is carefully reviewed to ensure that it is legal and complies with our stringent standards. Even if a particular request is valid, we often do not have any information to provide; we collect little nonpublic user information, and retain that information for a very short time.

Voluntary disclosure. On rare occasions, the Wikimedia Foundation becomes aware of concerning information on the projects, such as suicide or bomb threats. Consistent with our privacy policy, in these cases, we may voluntarily provide information to the proper authorities in order to resolve the issue and ensure safety. Between January and June 2015, we made 14 such disclosures.

This report also features story highlights from this period and provides answers to many frequently asked questions. We invite you to consult the full report to learn more about our efforts to protect user privacy and maintain the integrity of the Wikimedia projects at http://transparency.wikimedia.org.

Aeryn Palmer, Legal Fellow*
Jim Buatti, Legal Fellow

* This transparency report would not have been possible without the help of many individuals, including Moiz Syed, Michelle Paulson, Geoff Brigham, Prateek Saxena, Dhvanil Patel, Lexie Perloff-Giles, Jacob Rogers, James Alexander, Christine Bannan, Arielle Friehling, Alex Krivit, and the entire Communications Team.

by Aeryn Palmer and Jim Buatti at July 17, 2015 04:25 PM

Content Translation, used in over 10,000 articles, now available on Wikipedias in all languages

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Upcoming feature – mockup of article suggestion on the Content Translation dashboard. Screenshot by Pau Giner, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The month of June 2015 was a rather busy one for the Content Translation project. The tool was enabled in 148 more Wikipedias, including Konkani (gom) and Northern Luri (lrc)—the two newest Wikipedias. Earlier this month, it was activated on the largest Wikipedia, the English language, as well. Content Translation is now available on Wikipedias in all languages as a beta-feature for logged-in users. Besides its wider availability, several improvements were made including a new dashboard, notifications for users and additional features for link handling.

Content Translation is an article creation tool created by the WMF’s Language Engineering team that allows users to write a new Wikipedia article by translating it from an existing article on the same topic in another language. Development of the tool began in early 2014 and it has been available as a beta-feature for logged-in users since January 2015. Since then, over 2,500 translators have used Content Translation to create more than 10,000 new articles.


Animation – Link operations on Content Translation. Screenshot by Santhosh.thottingal, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

An important improvement made to the Content Translation interface now allows editors to better handle links. Users can now view links missing in the translated article, add new links, and mark red links. This is particularly helpful when users choose to translate the text manually or are unable to use the link adaptation feature currently, like in right-to-left language wikis. Very soon, users will also be able to add external links. You can view a short animation to know more about the link feature.

A new addition is Echo-based notifications. Currently, users are notified of translation milestones, like their 1st, 10th and 100th translation. In the next few months more notifications will be added to allow better interaction through the tool. In addition, the Content Translation dashboard was updated by the volunteers Jarrett Munton, Michael Googley, and Kyle Wendland, all students of Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, USA, who worked with the team.

Articles published using Content Translation during the month of June 2015. Screenshot by Pau Giner, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The past month was also one of the busiest for editors. Nearly 3,000 new articles were created using the tool, and more tore than 1300 new translators tried the tool. The Catalan Wikipedia now has more than 1,500 articles created with our translation tool; the Spanish and French Wikipedias have crossed the 1000 article rubicon. Key metrics are now better represented on the redesigned Special:ContentTranslationStats page, a page available on all Wikipedias.

Please see the Language team’s monthly report for more details.

Coming up

As the tool reaches more users, there has been a significant increase in the amount of feedback received. This has helped the development team identify special use cases and focus areas. In recent days, several bugs have been reported related to publishing failures; these are now being investigated and resolved.

For the upcoming three months, several feature enhancements and bug fixes are planned. An important feature addition will be the ability to create a task list—a list of articles to translate from within the user’s dashboard. Secondly, users will be shown suggestions about articles they could translate. This option is currently being evaluated by the Research team as part of a larger experiment.

Wikimania 2015

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WMF Language Engineering team – Istanbul, May 2015. Photo by KartikMistry, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Earlier in June, the Language Engineering team hosted an online interaction session with Content Translation users, and we will also be at Wikimania next week. We will be presenting several talks and hosting two workshops specially for Content Translation:

You can let us know your suggestions, complaints and other feedback on the project talk page. If you are attending Wikimania, please join us!

Runa BhattacharjeeLanguage EngineeringWikimedia Foundation

by Runa Bhattacharjee at July 17, 2015 04:24 PM

July 16, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

The Klexikon: a new wiki encyclopedia for children

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Michael Schulte and Ziko van Dijk. Photo by Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Wikipedia is the world’s largest encyclopedia, but it can sometimes be too complex for children. To remedy this, the Wikimedia affiliate organization in Germany is supporting the Klexikon—a wiki encyclopedia with articles aimed at children aged six to twelve. With a name stemming from the German words for children (Kinder) and encyclopedia (Lexikon), the Klexikon was founded by Michael Schulte, a radio journalist, and Ziko van Dijk, a Wikipedia editor.

The Klexikon and Wikipedia have the same favorite dish. Photo by Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

While they’ve talked to people who think that writing for children should be easier than writing for adults, they’ve found that often, the opposite is true. So while the Klexikon is based on the Wikipedia model, it differs in several ways: Klexikon articles are much shorter than comperable Wikipedia articles, and Klexikon authors must familiarize themselves with the topic and typical writing styles to properly contextualize topics for a young audience. Van Dijk told us that “these children need quality texts like anyone else,” but that “writing encyclopedic texts for a special target group is nearly an art form. We have found that many people experience it as a real challenge, including us.”

Several other factors come into play as well; for example, the Klexikon is much more selective about what they try to cover. “It is great that Wikipedia has articles about all of the German Members of Parliament or historical railways of Bavaria,” said van Dijk. “There is no need to repeat that effort, so we are much more exclusionist.”

They have also simplified editing as much as possible by stripping out the HTML-like markup language called wikitext that underpins Wikipedias, including reference footnotes. The Klexikon’s civility guidelines are strictly enforced, and no unregistered editing is allowed.

At the university of Dortmund, with Michael Beißwenger (second from the right) and students of German studies, June 2015. We had a presentation and a workshop to find out how we can cooperate in future. Ziko van Dijk, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Schulte and van Dijk opened the Klexikon to editing starting in December 2014, and it now boasts about 750 articles, with about 100 new ones being written each month. While “that does not sound like much,” says van Dijk, “these articles meet minimum requirements” and are not stubs of two to three sentences.

Van Dijk will be presenting about the Klexikon at Wikimania 2015 in Mexico; the original concept report’s English translation is on Commons, and basic information about the Klexikon in English can be found on his personal blog.

Ed ErhartEditorial InternWikimedia Foundation

by Ed Erhart at July 16, 2015 02:48 PM

July 15, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

News on Wikipedia: possible bailout for Greece and a prison escape in Mexico

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Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Greece and Eurogroup agree bailout

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Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, must now persuade his government to accept the new terms. Image by kremlin.ru, freely licensed under CC-BY 3.0.

On Monday (July 13), Greece agreed to hold talks on a third bailout deal with their creditors, following last week’s national referendum which rejected proposed plans. The agreement, which was the result of a long and drawn-out negotiation process which concluded in the early hours of the morning, may secure Greece a 86 billion euro bailout over three years should Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government agree to the plans. Syriza’s coalition partners, the Independent Greeks, are opposed to the new plans. Tsipras has until Wednesday to gain the support of his government on the new terms.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Greek government-debt crisis, Third Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece, Greek withdrawal from the eurozone

Wimbledon concludes

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Serena Williams, pictured at the US Open, claimed her sixth Wimbledon title with her win this week. Photo by Edwin Martinez, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Tennis’ most famous tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, ended this week; Serena Williams, the top-ranked woman in the world, defeated 20th-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in the final. It was Williams’ sixth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam title. In the men’s competition, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, likewise the top seed, defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer in four sets. This prevented Federer from securing his eighth title, and landed Djokovic, the defending champion, his third.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: 2015 Wimbledon Championships

“El Chapo” escapes custody

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Joaquín Guzmán Loera is seen here in 1992. Photo by Fabrizio León Diez, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 4.0.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, head of the Sinaloa Cartel and widely nicknamed “El Chapo”, broke out of Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 on Saturday (July 11). He did so through a tunnel dug through his shower area, connected to a construction site almost a mile from the prison. His tunnel was equipped with artificial light, air conditioning, and a modified motorcycle. His escape triggered a manhunt in the area, which has since spread to various other federal entities and Mexico City International Airport. Several prison staff were detained for questioning or fired in relation to the escape.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Joaquín Guzmán Loera

Confederate flag lowered after 54 years

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The flag had flown on or near the South Carolina State House since 1962. Image by HaloMasterMind, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

The US state of South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from near its State House on Friday (July 10) following votes in favor in both the South Carolina Senate and the House of Representatives. It comes following an attack on a church in the city of Charleston, in which nine people were killed by a white supremacist. Governor Nikki Haley had called for the flag’s removal on June 22, four days after the shooting; she said: “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer.” The flag will eventually be put on display at a museum elsewhere in the state.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Modern display of the Confederate flag, Charleston church shooting

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata dies

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Iwata had been president of the company for almost thirteen years. Photo by GDC, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Satoru Iwata, the President of Japan-based video game company Nintendo, died on Saturday (July 11) from a bile duct growth at the age of 55. Iwata had been forced to miss 2014’s E3 conference due to ill health, but had had surgery and said he was “progressing well”. Iwata joined HAL Laboratory as a game developer in the 1980s, joined Nintendo as a director in 2000, and succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi to become the fourth President of the company in 2002. He oversaw many of Nintendo’s recent console releases, such as the Wii, the Nintendo DS and the Gamecube.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Satoru Iwata

Research stats

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Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Image by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

El Chapo’s” prison break in Mexico proved a popular story in the media, and helped to attract a peak of over 150,000 readers to his Wikipedia article two days after the escape (July 13). It was the second most-viewed of the five articles, with the next most-popular read being that of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships. The tennis contest never could achieve the peak it experienced upon the tournament’s start, though it leaped up to over 27,000 page views on Sunday (July 12).

The Greek government-debt crisis article attracted 43,000 page views at its peak last week, but declined all week as talks dragged on. Its stats were still reasonably high despite the steady decrease. Modern display of the Confederate flag, where South Carolina’s decision to remove the battle flag from in front of its State House was documented, attracted 11,000 views as it was removed on Thursday (July 9).

News of Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata’s death on Monday (July 13) led hundreds of thousands of people to read about him on Wikipedia; the article received 471,000 hits as news of his passing broke.

Photo montage credits: “Satoru Iwata – Game Developers Conference 2011 – Day 3 (3).jpg” by GDC, CC-BY 2.0; “Serena Williams (9630783949).jpg” by Edwin Martinez, CC-BY 2.0; “El chapo Guzmán.jpg” by Fabrizio León Diez, CC-by-SA 4.0; “South Carolina State House.JPG” by HaloMasterMind, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “Alexis Tsipras in Moscow 4.jpg” by kremlin.ru, CC-BY 3.0; Collage by Andrew sherman

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland
Communications Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 15, 2015 07:38 PM

Get the latest Wikipedia updates easily with IFTTT

If This Then That, or IFTTT, introduces new tools to make connecting with Wikipedia’s public data simpler than ever. Photo by IFTTT.

Wikipedia now has a Channel on IFTTT, so you can get Wikipedia updates delivered by email, Tumblr, Twitter, and many other new ways. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a tool that connects sites and services over the web. Users can “Trigger” specific actions when an event occurs on Wikipedia—for example, posting to Facebook or sending yourself a push notification. This puts the power of automating an email digest or Twitter bot in the hands of anyone—no programming experience required.

The Wikipedia Channel on IFTTT introduces powerful new tools to stay up to date on public Wikipedia activity. You can monitor updates to articles in a category, broadcast your own contributions, get notified of the picture of the day, and much more.

A few examples of the Triggers available in the Wikipedia Channel on IFTTT:

Picture of the day: An alert with the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day
Article of the day: An interesting article from Wikipedia, chosen daily from among Wikipedia’s best articles
Word of the day: The definition of the Wiktionary word of the day
New edits to a Wikipedia article: New edits on any Wikipedia page (similar to your watchlist on Wikipedia)
New edits from a specific user: New contributions from a specific Wikipedia user
New edit with a hashtag in the edit summary: Watch for a hashtag in the edit summary (try a hashtag for your next #editathon!)
Article updated in a category: New edits to any Wikipedia page in a category
Articles added to a category: Each time an article is added to a category

All of the Channels will use the English Wikipedia by default, but other languages are also available if you specify a two-character language code.

Here are a few of my favorite Recipes so far:

  • Update your phone background with the picture of the day (hat tip to Luis Villa for this idea)unnamed
  • Announce your Wikipedia edits on Twitterunnamed (4)
  • A tumblr log for edits with a hashtag for your editathonunnamed (1)
  • Add the featured Wikipedia article of the day to your reading listunnamed (3)
  • Create a running log of newly-created articles needing some loveunnamed (2)

There are many other ways you can stay updated on Wikipedia activity using IFTTT—let me know if you build anything awesome!

To get started with IFTTT, sign up at IFTTT.com, then start mixing and matching different Triggers and actions on the Create a Recipe page. You can find more examples of awesome recipes over on IFTTT’s blog, and learn about the technical aspects of the new Channel over on Hatnote.

Stephen LaPorteWikimedia Foundation

Although I work for the Wikimedia Foundation, I worked on this project in my volunteer time using only public resources, like Wikimedia Labs and the Wikipedia API. Many thanks to Ori, Dario, the great folks at IFTTT, and many others who helped out!

by Stephen LaPorte at July 15, 2015 04:02 PM

July 14, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Five new positions placing Wikipedians as Visiting Scholars

McMaster University - Edwards Hall.jpg
McMaster University is one of the five libraries joining the program. Photo by Mathew Ingram, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Wikipedia Library is pleased to announce five new Wikipedia Visiting Scholars positions with US and Canadian universities and research organizations as part of an program expansion.

Visiting Scholars are remote, unpaid Wikipedia editors who become affiliated with top research libraries. They receive full access to the partner library’s e-resources to expand topics of institutional interest which also need development on Wikipedia. This marks the second successful round of institutions participating in the program.

These new positions will be coordinated and managed by the Wikipedia Library’s movement partner, the Wiki Education Foundation (Wiki Ed). Wiki Ed will process applications, connect to schools, and drive the growth of the program in the North American region. They are in an excellent position to help expand Visiting Scholars because of their extensive existing connections to universities and desire to support Wikipedia’s best content creators.

We invite Wikipedia editors who specialize in content creation, and would like access to a full research library, to apply for these new unpaid, remote affiliate positions at the following research libraries:

  • McMaster University is a public university in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The library’s holdings in their Division of Research Collections and Archives contain many valuable and unique resources, with emphases in areas such as peace and war (with a particular emphasis on the Holocaust and resistance), Bertrand Russell, Canadian literature and popular culture.
  • DePaul University is a private university in Chicago, Illinois. The library is looking for Wikipedians who can focus on Chicago history, Catholic social justice studies, and/or Vincentian Studies (including French history during the Napoleonic Era).
  • The Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The Warren M. Robbins Library of the National Museum of African Art is looking for a Wikipedian in Residence that can focus on modern African art and artists.
  • The University of Pittsburgh (PITT) is a state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This Visiting Scholar position will work with PITT’s Archives Service Center, Special Collections and Center for American Music to focus on: Pittsburgh and Pennsylvanian history including urban renewal in Pittsburgh, childhood in the industrial era of Pittsburgh, music composers of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh theater or significant literary figures from Pittsburgh; Colonial American history; historic American songs; or philosophy of science.
  • The University of Washington (UW), commonly referred to as Washington or, informally, UDub, is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. This Visiting Scholar position will work with UW’s Special Collections and focus on labor and the working classes in the Pacific Northwest, all aspects of Pacific Northwest history and literature, and Pacific Northwest architecture.

Full application information is available at the Wiki Education Foundation signup page.

Wiki Ed also invites editors to apply for a Visiting Scholar placement pool. The pool will help grow the Visiting Scholar program by creating a list of willing and interested candidates to offer to new partner libraries. With the interests and needs of pre-qualified Wikipedians in hand, Wiki Ed can work to find libraries that match your interests.

Access to research libraries as part of one of these visiting scholar positions creates considerable opportunities for Wikipedia editors. It allows them access to services and tools, including multiple paywalled databases, integrated search and discovery tools, research collections and recommendations from specialist librarians, and expert consultation. In return, editors can begin a conversation with the library, which creates opportunities for greater understanding and communication between these universities and the wider Wikipedia community.

Alex Stinson
The Wikipedia Library

by Alex Stinson at July 14, 2015 04:03 PM

Wikimedians urge the EU to protect freedom of panorama

Images of the London Eye can be shared online under freedom of panorama rights. Photo by Kham Tran, CC BY-SA 3.0

Update (July 13): On July 9, the European Parliament voted on the Reda Report. The paragraph addressing the Freedom of Panorama was ultimately deleted from the report. This means that for now, nothing has changed: countries that had Freedom of Panorama rights under their domestic laws still have them. Countries that lacked Freedom of Panorama rights under their domestic laws still do not have them.

We are pleased that the amendment limiting Freedom of Panorama to non-commercial uses was rejected, and that over 540,000 people signed a petition calling for the right to be extended without restriction throughout the EU. We also congratulate Wikimedians for taking a strong stand for free knowledge. We are certain that they will continue to support this important issue, and we hope that Freedom of Panorama rights will be expanded in every country.

The ability to freely share information of all kinds, from text to images, is core to Wikimedia’s mission of making all knowledge available to everyone. Recently, the Wikimedia community has mobilized in response to a European Parliament recommendation on freedom of panorama—the right to freely take and publish images of works in public places, like buildings, permanent works of art, and landmarks. A recent amendment to the recommendation now under consideration threatens to place restrictions on this right across all European Union member states.

Currently, some EU member states provide freedom of panorama rights; others do not. This inconsistency between different national law makes it difficult for the volunteer photographers and editors who build the Wikimedia projects to share knowledge online. Users on Wikimedia Commons have put together a 218 kilobyte guide, complete with 63 references, that explains the laws as they apply to each country. For example, based on this guide, the English Wikipedia does not freely use photographs of the original Atomium, located in Belgium, and instead illustrates the article with photographs of this model of the Atomium from Austria.

In January, Julia Reda, a German member of the European Parliament, prepared a report known as the “Reda Report” for the parliamentary committee that recommended extending the freedom of panorama throughout the EU. Her recommendation was subsequently amended to limit the right to non-commercial uses. As a result, the version of freedom of panorama now under consideration is not compatible with Wikimedia’s goal to broadly share knowledge. If this amendment became law, it would be more difficult for users to freely share photos of public spaces. It would be a step backwards in revamping the EU’s copyright rules for the digital age.

The Reda Report is important because it will guide the European Commission’s review of copyright law. On July 9, a vote will determine whether or not the final version of this report will take a position on freedom of panorama and what that position will be.

In response, there have been a number of discussions in the Wikimedia community about this report and the significance of freedom of panorama for the Wikimedia projects. Wikimedians across Europe are voicing their right to freely share images online. Editors on the German Wikipedia, for example, published an open letter urging the European Parliament to support full freedom of panorama.

As laws are updated, it is clear that some long-used legal terms are not well-suited to the Internet. “Commercial” and “non-commercial” in particular is an ambiguous and difficult distinction, and can be defined in a variety of ways depending upon the context. There is no bright-line rule. “Non-commercial” does not mean “not for profit”, and vice-versa. For example, sharing something on social media sites can be considered commercial re-use, if those sites require as much in their policies. Wikimedians support the essential freedoms to use, share, and remix content as broadly as possible, uninhibited by the opaque limitations imposed by a “non-commercial” restriction.

The Wikimedia community shares images of public buildings, art, and landmarks online to illustrate Wikipedia articles, enliven the travel guides on Wikivoyage, and share their country’s heritage with the world through Wiki Loves Monuments. Through pictures, they are free to save a visual record of our public spaces for others around the world to enjoy.

Sharing images of public spaces freely and internationally is crucial to the future of the Wikimedia projects and other online educational platforms. Such rights should be expanded, and we are happy to see Wikimedians voicing their support for this cause.

Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation
Aeryn Palmer, Legal Fellow, Wikimedia Foundation

by Stephen LaPorte and Aeryn Palmer at July 14, 2015 04:02 PM

July 13, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

The Chinese Wikipedia’s Dong Yuan Ling wants you to contribute articles

Gentoo Penguins, West Falkland. Photo by Ben Tubby, freely licensed under CC BY 2.0

An online edit-a-thon called “Dong Yuan Ling” (Chinese: 动员令/動員令, literally “Mobilization Order”) is an annual summer tradition on the Chinese Wikipedia. This year’s event—the thirteenth ever hosted—began on 4 July 2015. Over the next two months, editors on Chinese Wikipedia will be encouraged to join and improve articles on topics ranging from Math, Earth Science, Physics, Music, Electronic Science/Engineering, Computer Science, and European History & Geography. Articles in many other languages are also promoted.

Dong Yuan Ling’s major goal is to improve the quality and quantity of certain topics in the Chinese Wikipedia; it stimulates Wikipedians to contribute high quality content on Wikipedia, and attract more students to edit Wikipedia while they are on their summer vacation.

Dong Yuan Ling was initially created by User:真實事求是, a Malaysian Chinese Wikipedian, and the first contest ran from 15 July and 1 August, 2006. He also led the second, third and fourth iterations. Since the seventh Dong Yuan Ling in 2009, it has ran in every summer (Northern Hemisphere). In the third Dong Yuan Ling, 真實事求是 introduced a new scoring system, where participants were rewarded with one point for every article created or improved. Bonus points were awarded for selected articles, such as DYK (did you know?), good article, and feature articles. This system has been amended every year to help promote these high-quality articles. In last year’s contest, the ratio of articles submitted between featured and all was 6%, held against the same ratio from the Chinese Wikipedia of only 0.07%. We also see an effect on did you know? as well: the daily average number of DYK articles in April 2014, or before this contest began, was 6.7; in August, it was 10.8.

The Dong Yuan Ling can also motivate new users by the score system and honor title. My own experience is a great example: I became a Wikipedian in October 2009 but only had a few edits until I found the Dong Yuan Ling in the summer of 2009, and I signed up. The score-system changed my editing-strategy to improve every single article I wrote as much as I could.

Of possible greater importance, I started to talk, discuss and collaborate with other Wikipedians during that Dong Yuan Ling. Apple Pie is one of Wikipedians that impressed me; he gave advice when I translated articles on US cities and a lot of help since I didn’t fully understand how to edit Wikipedia. User:苏州宇文宙武—a history-loving student majoring in Arabic and one of the earliest Chinese Wikipedians—encouraged me when I felt tired. I made a lot of friends and learned many ideas about Wikipedia, and my Wikipedia “addiction” began.

Dong Yuan Ling is coordinated by several users called “hosts.” Some are relatively new; Alex is another new-voted host in 2015. He joined Wikipedia in December 2011 and started actively editing in mid-2012. This opportunity is his first experience in leading a Chinese Wikipedia program, and he hopes that hosting Dong Yuan Ling will help improve the weakness of Chinese Wikipedia in some professional fields.

Last year’s Dong Yuan Ling, 80 editors created or improved 759 articles in 65 days. The Chinese Wikipedia community gradually focused on diversity, so that “female scientists” became one of the topics that year. Although only 23 female scientists articles were created, with three good articles, the attempt was the first to consider the gender unbalance of the Wikipedia community. Unfortunately, that effort was not carried over this year, causing consternation from the organizers: Walter, another Chinese Wikipedia, said that “We were supposed to attract more female editors to join our movement, but few people paid attention.”

You are welcomed to join this year’s Dong Yuan Ling now.

Addis Wang, Wikimedia User Group China

by Addis Wang at July 13, 2015 06:07 PM

July 10, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

Raising awareness of endangered species, one Wikipedia page at a time: Christian Cariño

File:Christian Cariño (no subtitles).webm

Christian Cariño is excited to be going to Wikimanía 2015. Video by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Also view on YouTube.com and Vimeo.com. A version with burned-in Spanish subtitles is available here.

For Christian Cariño, a biologist interested in the conservation of endangered species, it was a natural fit to edit Wikipedia.

Like many other volunteers, Cariño started editing and writing Wikipedia articles two years ago; the notion of improving and building articles on endangered species was first an itch, then an obsession, she said.

She grew her personal project into an institution-backed opportunity that aims to improve Wikipedia articles on endangered species like the Ajolote.

Cariño is a part of CONABIO, and has partnered with various institutions like the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), University of Guadalajara (UDG) and the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) to improve awareness of endangered species through Wikipedia page edits. “They are able to give us the bank of photos and information [needed] for these species,” Cariño said.

Her love affair with Wikipedia as a tool to increase awareness of her conservation efforts started the moment she learned how to use Wikipedia during a Trans-la-thon session in Mexico City.

Cariño (center) at a meetup with CONABIO. Photo by Christian Cariño, CC BY-SA 3.0.

“I was in love with movement from that day—I felt that I can give something to this,” she said. “[CONABIO] has a lot of information that a lot of times nobody knows nothing about, like the endemic Mexican species “Haoloto,” and those that even I don’t know about.”

But why choose Wikipedia as a tool to increase awareness of endangered species, rather than a scientific journal? According to Cariño, “At first researchers were thinking, ‘Well, I always have to send my information to a magazine,’ and then they have wait a couple of months sometimes for that information to be public,” she said.

Using Wikipedia, Cariño has been able to see instantaneous results.

The Wikimedia movement has definitely grown on Cariño, who is a conference organizer for this year’s Wikimania in Mexico City.

She told us she was “thrilled” to work on planning this year’s Wikimania and hopes that the event will be “a safe, happy experience” that also offers great opportunities for research.

And what makes this effort even better for Cariño, is that anyone who is passionate about the project can start an initiative like hers.

“At first you may meet some people who do not believe in the movement, but after you finish talking about [it] with them they are curious—like ‘Oh wow, I want to do the same thing as you are doing!’ ” she said.

Profile by Yoona Ha, WMF Assistant Storyteller Intern
Interview by Victor Grigas, WMF Storyteller

by Yoona Ha and Victor Grigas at July 10, 2015 08:22 PM

Wikimedia Highlights, June 2015

Wikimedia Highlights June 2015.jpg
“Geoffrey Bilder.jpg” by Helpameout, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.; “Wreck of the U.S.M. steam ship “Arctic” (one-third-size).png” by James E. Buttersworth, Public domain.; “Green_Keys.jpg” by Hugh D’Andrade, from Electronic Frontier Foundation, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0.; “The Alamo at Night, San Antonio, Texas (2014-12-12 23.00.05 by Nan Palmero).jpg” by Nan Palmero, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0; “Print Wikipedia by Michael Mandiberg, NYC June 18, 2015-34.jpg” by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 Collage by Andrew Sherman

Here are the highlights from the Wikimedia blog in June 2015.

These Texans are on a quest to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their state’s revolution

The Alamo at Night, San Antonio, Texas (2014-12-12 23.00.05 by Nan Palmero).jpg
The Alamo became a symbol for all Texans after most or all of its defenders were killed by the Mexican army. Photo by Nan Palmero, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0.

Students in the United States and Mexico often learn about the history of the 1835/36 Texas Revolution. Two Wikipedia editors, Karanacs and Maile66, took it upon themselves to improve the encyclopedia’s coverage of this history.

Over a three-month span, Karanacs and Maile66 worked together to develop the new article. Their plan of attack included scrapping the existing piece, all 5,243 words of it, and doing heavy in-depth research. Karanacs estimated that she spent over 300 hours reading academic literature, writing the article, and negotiating Wikipedia’s peer-review process.

Securing access to Wikimedia sites with HTTPS

Green Keys.jpg
To ensure that Wikipedia users can share in the world’s knowledge more securely, the Wikimedia Foundation is implementing HTTPS, to encrypt all traffic on Wikimedia sites. Image by Hugh D’Andrade, from Electronic Frontier Foundation, freely licensed under CC BY 3.0.

To be truly free, access to knowledge must be secure and uncensored. The Wikimedia Foundation believes that you should be able to use Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites without sacrificing privacy or safety. In June, it implemented HTTPS to encrypt all Wikimedia traffic.

The HTTPS protocol creates an encrypted connection between your computer and Wikimedia sites to ensure the security and integrity of data you transmit. Encryption makes it more difficult for governments and other third parties to monitor your traffic. It also makes it harder for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to censor access to specific Wikipedia articles and other information.

7,473 volumes at 700 pages each: meet Print Wikipedia

File:Print Wikipedia (no subtitles).webm

An interview with Michael Mandiberg, the artist behind Print Wikipedia. You can also view the above video on YouTube and Vimeo. Video by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

After six years of work, a lot of debugging, and more than a little help from his friends, Michael Mandiberg has created Print Wikipedia. It’s a new artwork in which custom software transforms the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia into 7,473 volumes, and uploads them for print-on-demand.

It is important to note that Mandiberg has not printed out all of the books for the art exhibit, nor does he plan to. He has currently printed only a small percentage of them, which are helpful for visualizing the size of Wikipedia. It isn’t necessary to print them all out; our imaginations can complete what is missing.

Record featured article author recommends five Wikipedia articles

Wreck of the U.S.M. steam ship "Arctic" (one-third-size).png
One of User:Wehwalt’s five picks: The SS Arctic was an early Titanic-like disaster. Painting by James E. Buttersworth, Public domain.

‘Wikipedia Picks’ is a new content experiment for the Wikimedia blog. This weekly feature invites one member of the Wikipedia community to curate a list of five articles, images, or other content that they find interesting or important, in collaboration with our blog editors.

This article’s guest host was Gary Greenbaum (Wehwalt), who has written 127 featured articles on the English Wikipedia, in whole or as part of a team—more than anyone else on the site. Over the past ten years, he has made nearly 100,000 edits. He selected five featured articles, three of which he personally worked on.

How English Wikipedia covered Caitlyn Jenner’s transition


Caitlyn Jenner, a famed US Olympic athlete and reality television star, completed her transition on June 1 and revealed it with a cover shoot in Vanity Fair. Wikipedia responded to this news in less than 30 minutes.

The news of Caitlyn Jenner’s feature article in Vanity Fair quickly went viral around the Internet. But it brought conflict on how to address her. The conservative US magazine National Review asked “who won Bruce Jenner’s Olympic medals?”, and questioned how individuals should write about a new gender identity set against Jenner’s extensive history in a gendered sport.

English Wikipedia editors, however, had little conflict, in large part because of guidelines written during Chelsea Manning‘s transition in 2013. After thousands of bytes of text, a subsection of Wikipedia’s Manual of Style called “Identity” was edited to read, as of 1 June 2015:

An exception … is made for terms relating to gender identity. In such cases, Wikipedia favors self-designation, even when usage by reliable sources indicates otherwise. Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example “man/woman”, “waiter/waitress”, “chairman/chairwoman”) that reflect that person’s latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person’s life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise.

Preserving Wikipedia citations for the future: Geoffrey Bilder

Geoffrey Bilder
Geoffrey Bilder is working to prevent the death of hyperlinks, also known as “link rot”. Photo by Helpameout, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

While hyperlinks have made the experience of reading printed text easier, they do have one major disadvantage: “link rot”—the demise of hyperlinks that no longer point to their original resource.

Geoffrey Bilder has spent 15 years in the scholarly communication industry and has used Wikipedia since the early 2000s. “What we are starting to realize is that a lot of the citation tools in Wikipedia have not been updated for a long time,” he says. “Since then we’ve been working on trying to get real-time feed of DOI citations from the all the different language Wikipedias.”

Andrew ShermanDigital Communications InternWikimedia Foundation

Information For versions in other languages, please check the wiki version of this report, or add your own translation there!

by Andrew Sherman at July 10, 2015 06:17 PM

News on Wikipedia: Reddit controversy and the Women’s World Cup final

See story for photo credits.

Here are some of the global news stories covered on Wikipedia this week:

Greeks head to the polls

"No" posters in Athens.jpg
Despite being a snap referendum, both sides saw loud support. Image by Alehins, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.

Voters in Greece set out to vote in a referendum on Sunday (July 5) to choose whether or not to accept terms on a new bailout deal offered by the European Union. While opinion polling in the buildup suggested a close race, the “No” option did much better than many expected: 61.3 percent of voters elected to reject the bailout terms, which means Greece is now much more likely to leave the Eurozone altogether. Despite the result, finance minister Yanis Varoufakis stood down as finance minister in the wake of the referendum.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: Greek bailout referendum, 2015, Greek withdrawal from the eurozone

Chile and the United States emerge triumphant

Carli Lloyd pointing.jpgCarli Lloyd scored a thirteen-minute hat trick during the Women’s World Cup final. Photo by Noah Salzman, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

In association football, two tournaments concluded this week. In women’s football, the United States national team won the 2015 Women’s World Cup, soundly defeating Japan in the final 5–2. Carli Lloyd, who plays for Houston Dash, scored a hat trick within just thirteen minutes for the USA, who went into half time four goals ahead. In South America, meanwhile, Chile claimed the 2015 Copa América, defeating Argentina in a penalty shootout to claim the first tournament win in their country’s footballing history. Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez converted the winning penalty following a goalless draw.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: 2015 Women’s World Cup, 2015 Copa América

Boko Haram attacks kill dozens in Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari - Chatham House.jpgBoko Haram are proving a big challenge for new Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. Photo by Chatham House, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Jihadist group Boko Haram stepped up their terrorism operations in Nigeria this week, despite the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with a series of bomb attacks in the country killing dozens of people. Several attacks on mosques and homes in the village of Kukawa, in the north-east of the country, killed almost a hundred people on Wednesday and Thursday (July 1 and 2). Another attack, a bombing at a mosque and retaurant in the central city of Jos, killed at least 44 people on Sunday night (July 5). 250 people are estimated to have died in attacks by the group in just over a week.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Boko Haram

Reddit subforums locked in protest

Reddit users locked down several popular subforums. Image by Antonio Zugaldia, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0.

Several prominent subforums on popular website Reddit were temporarily locked this week following the departure of Victoria “chooter” Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent, and according to the Washington Post, a “much-needed bridge between the corporate side of Reddit and its users.” Taylor was responsible for organising “ask me anything” sessions, where individuals and celebrities are asked questions by members of the website. Alexis Ohanian, the site’s executive chairman, and Ellen Pao, interim CEO, have apologized for the site’s handling of the situation; most of the subforums involved are now again open to the public.

Learn more in these related Wikipedia articles: reddit, Ellen Pao

Saudi Prince pledges wealth to charity

HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.jpg
Al-Waleed bin Talal is already well-known for his philanthropic endeavours in Saudi Arabia. Photo by Kingdom Holding Company, freely licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Al-Waleed bin Talal is a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family and, according to Bloomberg, the 21st-richest man in the world. He announced this week his plans to donate his wealth—an estimated US$32 billion—to charities in order to help build “better world of tolerance, acceptance, equality and opportunity for all”. He has given no date for his eventual donation, but suggests he will spread his wealth around the globe to used in disaster relief and the building of houses and schools.

Learn more in the related Wikipedia article: Al-Waleed bin Talal

Traffic bumps and spikes

Page view data for ITN, 7 July 2015.png
Wikipedia pageview statistics show the various spikes in activity on these articles. Photo by Joe Sutherland, freely licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

It is clear looking at the data that 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup had by far the largest peak in page views; the article surpassed 130,000 on Monday (July 6) as the tournament concluded in a different timezone. The other sporting story, the 2015 Copa América, also did well, with just over 67,000 at its peak.

Reddit‘s blackout attracted almost 30,000 people to the website’s Wikipedia article on Friday (July 3), and it remained popular throughout the week. Likewise, the Greek bailout referendum article peaked at over 27,000 on Sunday, the day of the vote, but was steady in its buildup.

Al-Waleed bin Talal‘s biography exceeded 22,000 visitors on Thursday (July 2) as he announced his intentions, while Boko Haram‘s view counts remained consistent all week.

Photo montage credits: “”No” posters in Athens.jpg” by Alehins, CC-BY-SA 2.0; “HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.jpg” by Kingdom Holding Company, CC-BY-SA 3.0; “Muhammadu Buhari – Chatham House.jpg” by Chatham House, CC-BY 2.0; “Restoring sanity – Reddit.jpg” by Antonio Zugaldia, freely licensed under CC-BY 2.0; “Carli Lloyd pointing.jpg” by Noah Salzman, CC-BY-SA 4.0.

To see how other news events are covered on the English Wikipedia, check out the ‘In the news’ section on its main page.

Joe Sutherland Communications InternWikimedia Foundation

by Joe Sutherland at July 10, 2015 02:52 AM

July 09, 2015

- Wikimedia Foundation - (anglicky)

These Texans are on a quest to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their state’s revolution

The Alamo at Night, San Antonio, Texas (2014-12-12 23.00.05 by Nan Palmero).jpg
The Alamo became a symbol for all Texans after most or all of its defenders were killed by the Mexican army. Photo by Nan Palmero, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0.

Students in the United States and Mexico are often required to learn about the history of the Texas Revolution, the outcome of which foreshadowed a much larger war and the loss of a significant portion of Mexico’s territory in what is today the American Southwest. The tales of individual actions and the Battle of the Alamo—the symbolically pivotal event in the conflict—have persevered in the nearly 180 years since the conflict.

For those less familiar with this narrative, a hurriedly assembled rebel army was able to separate themselves from Mexico in large part due to the crucial Battle of San Jacinto, when they captured the President of Mexico. They used this advantage to force an end to the war.

Wikipedia editor Karanacs grew up in Texas and is therefore well-acquainted with this tradition. “During a family vacation to see the Alamo Mission in San Antonio when I was 10, we watched the film Alamo: The Price of Freedom,” she says. “For the first time, I understood the impact that war had on ordinary people. I cried for a little boy who lost his father in a battle fought 150 years before I was born.” Two decades later, this interest manifested itself on Wikipedia. Like many editors of the world’s largest encyclopedia, she was browsing the site’s articles and found that they were of relatively poor quality—and that the traditional narrative she’d learned was not necessarily accurate.

Sam Houston by Mathew Brady.jpg
Sam Houston was a general in the revolution and, later, the president of the fledgling republic. Photo by Mathew Brady, public domain.

The real descent down the rabbit hole, however, began when a group of volunteer editors called for collaborators to rewrite the article on Texas A&M University, Karanacs’ alma mater. She joined them “even though I had no idea what they were talking about.” It wasn’t long before this snowball grew larger: she was soon “in love with Wikipedia—the research, the writing, the teamwork, the satisfaction of knowing that something I helped create would help assuage someone else’s curiosity, and hopefully dispelling some of their misunderstandings of the topic.”

Between 2006 and 2010, Karanacs wrote 23 featured articles, the highest article rating on the site and only reached after a rigorous peer review process. She branched out from Texas history at times with articles like Irish Thoroughbred, Nora Roberts’ first romance novel, or Gumbo, a Louisianan soup. Still, the grand majority focused on her home state, such as the French colonization of Texas, and its revolution against Mexico, like the Grass Fight or the Battle of the Alamo. She was “most fascinated by the human elements,” she says, “and the people on both sides who made decisions that cumulatively led to the place I live.”

Still, the challenges proved daunting. The host of editors who enticed her to join Wikipedia in 2006 had dwindled by 2011 to just her. When combined with the amount of work required and three young children at home, Karanacs made the difficult decision to quit the site. “My Wikipedia time turned into ‘chase-the-toddler’ time,” she said.

More than three years went by before Karanacs was tempted back to the site by an email from fellow native Texan editor Maile66, who started editing Texas-related articles in 2006. She alerted Karanacs to an enticing offer: the History Channel‘s then-upcoming Texas Rising wanted the article on the Texas Revolution to run on the English Wikipedia’s main page on the day of the show’s premiere. In return, the channel would point viewers and interested fans to the page for more information.

The Battle of San Jacinto (1895).jpg
The last major battle of the revolution was fought near San Jacinto. Painting by Henry Arthur McArdle, public domain.

Karanacs’ reaction was two-fold: she was intrigued by the opportunity, which offered outside interest and a long deadline, but cautious. Readers of Wikipedia may not be aware of the struggle of writing wide-scope articles; many editors are quick to espouse that articles on a war, for instance, are more difficult to write than articles on the individual battles and skirmishes that occurred during that war. Karanacs told me that her research for these battle articles would require reading three to four books on the general topic—the war, in our running example—and anywhere from five to twenty articles on the battle itself. The actual writing could take anywhere from twenty to forty hours and could be done alone.

A big picture article, on the other hand, requires a great deal more effort and people. “I have been researching the Texas Revolution off and on for seven years,” Karanacs said. “There have been literally thousands of books written on that topic, and I likely spent more than eighty hours just identifying appropriate sources to consult.” The actual reading of these sources took a good deal longer—and most didn’t make it into the article. Karanacs believes that covering these works was important, if only to “establish scholarly consensus and ensure that I wasn’t missing any of the more focused angles scholars delved into.”

And there were a lot of them. Karanacs recalls that many of the books she could acquire were written by American and Mexican scholars, as one would expect, but there was also one written by a German (albeit translated into English) and one by a Scottish researcher. Her local librarians were an invaluable resource, as they were able to point out monographs that she missed and put in dozens of inter-library loan requests, as was the relatively new Wikipedia Library, which helps connect editors to outline journal and reference databases that Wikipedia editors can cite. Karanacs called the latter a “tremendous resource”—”I am blown away by how much easier it is now to do some of the research.”

Karanacs also undertook a physical journey to several of the areas where significant events occurred. “It made it all just a little more real,” she told me. “Both sides fought for something they believed was important, and it was important to me to present each of their perspectives fairly and with respect.”

Santa Anna—the commander of the Mexican forces—surrenders. Painting by William Henry Huddle, in the public domain.

Over a three-month span, Karanacs and Maile66 worked together to develop the Texas Revolution article itself. Their plan of attack included scrapping the entire existing article, all 5,243 words of it, and starting anew. This allowed them to not worry about where existing content had come from and instead concentrate on including facts and views from the principal sources on the topic. They had to decide how much weight each view should receive, similar to when an academic historian evaluates a topic’s place in historiography. This differs from primary source research in that it evaluates historical narratives that have emerged from the event. Using the Texas Revolution as an example, historians once portrayed the Texans as white, from the US, and universally in support of the rebellion. Contributions from Tejanos (native-born Texans of Spanish or Mexican heritage) were overlooked. Time often plays a significant role in historiography, and this is no different: here, the revolution’s traditional narrative, upheld by many of the television and film productions of the last fifty years, has since been been superseded with the recognition that a good percentage of Texans actually supported the Mexican government, not the rebel side, and that Tejanos featured in many significant roles.

National narratives came into play as well. Supporters of the revolution portrayed themselves as fighting for a just cause against an oppressive overlord, while Mexicans, after the Mexican–American War of 1845, thought that the region was stolen from them by the United States. After their initial assessments, Karanacs and Maile identified areas that required more research and each returned to the library.

When satisfied the article was comprehensive and balanced, Karanacs and Maile nominated Texas Revolution for featured status. Having already received comments from three editors, ten more editors commented during the review period. “It really did take a village,” Karanacs told me, and estimated that she personally spent an estimated three hundred hours on the article, underlining just how difficult it can be to write these sorts of big-picture articles. Finally, Texas Revolution became a featured article on April 18—more than a month before the deadline requested by the History Channel.

The History Channel’s historians suggested only minor changes in the article’s wording; overall, they were very pleased with the article, which has now doubled in size to over 10,000 words. It ran on Wikipedia’s main page on May 25, and about 54,000 people read the article over a four-day period—and possibly thanks to the popularity of Texas Rising, more than a thousand people per day viewed it for nearly all of the first half of June.

For Karanacs’ part, she told me that “I am extremely proud of this project. First, that we created one of the best short(ish) yet still comprehensive overviews of this topic that exists anywhere on the web, in my opinion. Second, that we brought an article that is on a broader topic—an entire war, rather than a single battle—to featured status. Third, that real paid historians thought we did a good job, and fourth, that we achieved this through a collaboration, rather than as individual editors.” When asked why they are so important in the greater context of North American history, she replied:

“In the nineteenth century, the Texas Revolution fit neatly into the United States philosophy of manifest destiny. According to that narrative, Americans went to what was then Mexico to show a poor, backwards group of people a better way to live. Of course, they chose to break free of their shackles and embrace freedom—interpreted as annexation to the US. Texian independence and subsequent annexation to the United States directly led to the Mexican-American War and Mexico’s loss of half of its territory to the United States. In Mexico, focus was placed more on the Mexican-American War, and the Texas Revolution, when discussed, was often framed as American intervention in Mexican affairs.

“The Texas Revolution is also a very compelling story of a small group of underdogs defeating a quasi-established power. Logically, the Texians should not have won that war, yet they did. Even the Texian defeats were romanticized; from almost the moment that the Alamo fell to the Mexican Army, the battle was compared to the Greek Battle of Thermopylae. A small group of men deliberately turned down the chance to retreat, knowing they faced annihilation, in order to defend their homeland against a larger invading force. Historians have shown that this narrative is inaccurate, but the general public does not accept that new interpretation.”

Perhaps most importantly, Karanacs’ interest in Wikipedia is now rekindled—and it’s for the “same reasons” from her the first time around: “pride in a job well done, the joy of teamwork, and pure nerdiness.” Maile has already started a new collaboration with Karanacs with the Battle of San Jacinto, although the former is taking the lead role this time. They hope to have all thirteen Texas Revolution-related articles at featured status by next year.

Karanacs and Maile wish to thank the many editors who helped them get this article featured, including—but not limited to—Mike Christie, Dank, P.S. Burton, and Iridescent.

Ed Erhart
Editorial Intern
Wikimedia Foundation

Karanacs as drawn by one of her young children. Photo from Karanacs, freely licensed under CC-by-SA 4.0.

by Ed Erhart at July 09, 2015 05:38 PM

Plan your next Wikimedia writing contest with the Evaluation Report and Toolkit

Left-handed writing with wristwatch.jpg
The competition is like a celebration, a festival, because all of the sudden there are a lot of new pages about the topic. Photo by Alejandro Escamilla, freely licensed under CC0 1.0.

On July 9, 2004, the winner of the first Wikipedia writing contest was awarded a bottle of champagne. During this “Essay Contest” on the Dutch Wikipedia, participants were challenged to write the best article on any topic; a three member jury chose a winning article. Since then, writing contests have sprouted throughout the Wikimedia projects, with participants from all over the world creating and improving articles in many languages. Here are just a few examples of successful contests:

  • The 2014 Producer Prize contest on Arabic Wikipedia had participants set personal goals to create 1,802 articles in 6 months
  • The 2013 Iberoamerican Women contest on Spanish Wikipedia worked to increase information about Iberoamerican women, working on 915 articles in 6 months
  • The 2013 WikiBio contest on Ukraine Wikipedia asked participants to work in groups and create 47 quality articles in biology in one month

Many communities have adopted this online event with different goals and different successes, so we asked three basic questions about how we can help this natural growth:

  1. How can we capture and share the knowledge about writing contests?
  2. What are best practices for contests so they can be more easily replicated and repeated with success?
  3. How can we better understand their impacts on the community or on wiki projects?

In the spirit of these questions, the Learning and Evaluation team at Wikimedia Foundation worked with 17 community members to capture data about 39 writing contests. We also reached out to interview a variety of program leaders that had hosted successful contests. Today we are happy to announce the publication of a new writing contest evaluation report and the launch of a program toolkit.

The Writing Contest Evaluation Report

Report and Toolkit info chart. Image by María Cruz, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Writing Contest Report shares data with the aim of growing community knowledge about contests. Even with a small sample, the report provides a descriptive analysis that program leaders can use for planning contests. The average contest had 4 participants, 64,712 characters added, and 25 articles created or improved per week. As a tool for growing community, writing contests appear to have high retention rates compared to some measures of editor retention. Using our standard user metric, about 18% of new users and 83% of existing users made at least one edit three months after the start date of the contests. Also, contest designs seem to vary widely. Some of the elements that influence the design include contest length, proportion of new users, and goals for editing articles.

Average Contest
(per week)
4 participants 64,712 characters/bytes added 25 articles
created or improved
All 39 Contests 745 participants 23 million characters 15,000 articles

Writing Contest Report Video cover.png
Report snapshot video, by Edward Galvez, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Our report is a great resource for planning future writing contests. The range of data on inputs, outputs and outcomes can tell you what is generally a high or low number for each measure. All of the data that went into the report is included in tables in the appendix. Find contests similar to your area to help plan your own writing competition. If you never organized an event like this on wiki, and would like to learn what to expect from a contest, this is the place to start. Likewise, if you have been organizing writing competitions for a while, you can learn more about how this program develops in other contexts, and connect to program leaders who coordinate them.

Our report is a great resource for planning future writing contests. The range of data on inputs, outputs and outcomes can tell you what is generally a high or low number for each measure. All of the data that went into the report is included in tables in the appendix. Find contests similar to your area to help plan your own writing competition. If you never organized an event like this on wiki, and would like to learn what to expect from a contest, this is the place to start. Likewise, if you have been organizing writing competitions for a while, you can learn more about how this program develops in other contexts, and connect to program leaders who coordinate them.

More data and more measures are key to developing a deeper understanding about writing contests and their outcomes. We encourage program leaders to continue using tools and resources to capture data about their programs.

The Writing Contest Program Toolkit

The writing contest toolkit is the second in a series of program guides on how to implement more effective Wikimedia programs. It connects data from the program reports and experience from 9 contest coordinators to highlight key success strategies. Interviews with contest coordinators revealed fascinating information about how communities use contests to identify and work toward shared goals as well as strategies they use to engage new users and reinforce community values around collaboration and trust.

The newest toolkit includes a few design improvements: quick-start contest planning templates featured on the start page, a question forum, and gallery of contest experts, among others. As this is the only space across the wikis for people interested in writing contests to connect with each other, these additions seemed useful.

We have identified 5 different contest types:

  • Short term, specific topics
  • High edit volume
  • Content gap
  • Long term, general topic or action
  • Cross-wiki or regional contests

Users who are new to writing contests can now find templates to plan according to the goals they want to achieve. Also included are bots and tools to help execute the contest, information on jury composition, and scoring systems, among other aspects of planning and running a contest.

This toolkit complements the evaluation report offering a practical guide, focused on implementation. Both products work together to advance movement-wide understanding of writing contests, their design, and their impact. Program leaders have a key role to play in this enterprise as we work to build out the toolkit through shared experiences, success and challenges.

Join the conversation!

As we adapt our product designs to best serve community members’ needs, we continue to reach out to program leaders for peer-review and input on usability, among other aspects. We want to thank all the wikimedians who have already engaged and wish to encourage more to do so.

There are many ways in which you get involved. With so much data in our hands, there are many possibilities!

  • Let us know what would be of interest on the report’s talk page.
  • Connect with program leaders on the toolkit and make this a real learning space for; ask questions and find help from experienced wikimedians in the Forum.
  • Share your knowledge directly through learning patterns or adding guidance and helpful links directly to the toolkit.
  • Finally, pass the toolkit on to other writing contest enthusiasts across the wikis.

Happy editing!

María Cruz, Learning and Evaluation Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation
Edward Galvez, Program Evaluation Associate, Wikimedia Foundation
Kacie Harold, Learning and Evaluation Analyst, Wikimedia Foundation

by María Cruz, Edward Galvez and Kacie Harold at July 09, 2015 01:09 PM