Posted by Tomasz Finc
on December 29, 2010
Open Web Analytics 1.4.0rc3 is out! You probably don’t care, do you? You should! At least we do!
Anyway, let’s start in the beginning:
As we strategized about future development of Wikimedia properties, it became abundantly clear that the measurement tools that we have are insufficient to make the decisions we need to make. This was a key recommendation from the Strategy task force. We evaluated several possible analytics frameworks as a supplement or even replacement for our homegrown system(s). After evaluating a couple of open source solutions (while keeping an open mind about the possible need to go with a proprietary solution), we decided to try out Open Web Analytics (OWA) for this year’s fundraiser, with the goal of evaluating it for broader use.
OWA is a PHP-based analytics tool which provides very sophisticated capabilities for real-time data analysis, providing many tools offered by proprietary counterparts. For us, OWA seems to hit the right balance of flexibility and scalability, with the added benefit that there was already an integration plugin for MediaWiki. Over the past few months, we’ve been working with Peter Adams, the designer of OWA, to adapt OWA for our needs and to make sure that it would work at the scale that we operate at.
Many of the features in the 1.4 release were made initially for our use, but are general-purpose features that many OWA users should be able to benefit from. We wanted to track how successful we were at getting people from banners, to letter, to donation, so Peter added a couple of features called “conversion goal tracking” and “goal funnels” which will help us figure out where people might be dropping off, but can also be used for general conversion analysis on any OWA-enabled site. We also needed to keep track of all of this on a per-banner basis, as well as knowing whether the user clicked on the banner or on the “Donate” link in the sidebar, so the “campaign tracking” feature was added.
Finally, we needed to deploy many instances of OWA, so clustered deployment was added in this release. Peter worked with Nimish Gautam here at WMF to make OWA more scalable, with Nimish becoming a committer on OWA. Peter focused on the architecture, while Nimish focused on making sure that all of the work integrated seamlessly into Wikimedia’s environment.
We believe the work we’ve done is generally applicable to anyone who wants MediaWiki analytics, and we’re eager to see how it works for others. We are also at a point where we would love help with testing this.
Posted by Moka Pantages
on December 23, 2010
Congratulations to Ukrainian Wikipedia on reaching 250,000 articles! The milestone article was officially created on Tuesday, December 21 at 8:45pm, Kyiv Time by user Anatoliy-024. Anatoily-024, a Wikipedian since 2008, has created 206 articles and made 6,000 edits to the Ukranian Wikipedia making this user the 110th most active contributor to this language Wikipedia.
Since it started in 2004, Ukranian Wikipedia has grown at a steady rate, adding 50,000 articles in just the last nine months, making it the sixteenth largest language Wikipedia. This year, the Ukrainian encyclopedia experienced a 64 percent increase in page views– 860,000 people have viewed 30 million articles in December alone.
The wonderful thing about this accomplishment is that each bit of information found on Wikipedia has been included by volunteers– everyday people committed to sharing free information with others. Although Wikipedia is available in over 270 languages, only 35 language Wikipedias have reached the 100,000 article milestone. It’s important that more people join the movement and contribute to this valuable, public resource.
We thank all the volunteers who helped Ukranian Wikipedia advance this far. We hope that others will take the time to join them!
Posted by Steven Walling
on December 15, 2010
In one month, Wikipedia will observe its 10th anniversary. On and around January 15th 2011, we will celebrate with volunteers, donors, and other supporters on six continents. From the launch of a new outreach project in Kenya to a film screening in Tel Aviv, there are currently 65 events of all kinds you can attend.
The complete list of anniversary activities can be found at ten.wikipedia.org, the public collaboration space where we’re cataloging everything the Wikipedia community is doing to commemorate our first decade. Most events are free to attend or very low cost. All are open to participation by anyone who wants to join in reflecting on our collective accomplishments and goals for the future.
The Wikimedia Foundation would like to thank those who are hosting celebrations by sending free 10th anniversary merchandise. These kits of t-shirts, stickers, and buttons are already starting to be shipped and come in a variety of colors and styles. If you’re planning something but haven’t yet listed it on the wiki and contacted us, now is the time to do so.
We’re very excited to see 65 distinct events taking place, and we hope you’ll attend one near you. But Wikipedia has always been an online community before anything else. That’s why we’re providing an opportunity for you to share your stories from Wikipedia’s first 10 years in many different forms. Please be bold, because we definitely want to hear your ideas for making the 10th anniversary one to remember.
The first event to kick off the celebrations will actually be on December 19th, at a Wikipedia party and fundraiser in London. We’ll be keeping you updated here on the events as we get closer to the anniversary, so keep an eye out for more news soon.
Community Dept. fellow
Posted by Erik Moeller
on December 9, 2010
Anyone who’s been watching the news will have heard about Wikileaks by now. Wikipedia shares the generic “wiki-” prefix in its name, but there’s no relation. Occasionally even major news sources like the BBC get this wrong, which can lead to serious confusion, even when it’s quickly fixed.
If anyone has a claim to the word “wiki”, it would be the Hawaiian people. In the Hawaiian language, wiki means “quick”. The words “wiki wiki” on a shuttle bus in Honolulu inspired software engineer Ward Cunningham to name a revolutionary piece of software – the “WikiWikiWeb” – in 1995. This software allowed people to instantly edit web pages, collaboratively.
Wikipedia was created six years later, based on the same principles. By that time, the word “wiki” was used already by a ton of different wiki software implementations. Today, you can go to the “WikiMatrix” website to compare them all. They have names like Wikidot, TWiki, or Wikispaces. Moreover, there are many, many content websites that use “wiki” in their names. Among them are Wikihow, Wikitravel, WikiAnswers, and Wikia.
Most of these projects are completely unrelated to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which was founded by Jimmy Wales in 2003. The Wikimedia Foundation operates a number of other free knowledge projects: Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, Wikinews, and Wikiversity. It also organizes and supports development of the MediaWiki open source software.
The names of Wikimedia’s projects are trademarked. The word “wiki” isn’t: anyone can use it. Wikileaks and most other projects with “wiki” in their name have no relationship with us. If you see news organizations making this error, please email them or post a comment pointing to this blog post.
Posted by Erik Moeller
on December 9, 2010
There are more than 1.9 million animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. In May 2007, some of the world’s leading scientists announced the development of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) to document them all. Inspired by biologist E. O. Wilson’s TED Wish and supported by more than $25 million in funding, the project aggregates and makes accessible information about species ranging from 19th century journals to modern online databases.
See the page about Solanum lycopersicum
, the garden tomato, as an example. Much of the information comes from Solanaceae Source, a specialized source of names lists, species descriptions, specimen collections and publication lists for the genus Solanum. The Biodiversity Heritage Library provides historical public domain texts about the species from various published journals. Many other specialized and general resources contribute to the overall species page.
A Wikipedia article included in an Encyclopedia of Life species page. The yellow background indicates that no curator has reviewed the content yet. Click the image to enlarge.
You’ll also find a “Wikipedia” entry in the table of contents. It reveals a copy of the Wikipedia article about tomatoes. As of this writing, the article text has a yellow background.
This means that an Encyclopedia of Life curator has not yet reviewed the content for inclusion in EOL. An EOL species page can have one or more curators who select and validate information added to EOL pages. Wikipedia articles, where they exist, are included by default.
Once the article has been validated by a curator, the yellow background is removed. The information for curators and curation standards pages on EOL give some additional background on the curation process, which applies to all content objects in EOL. Specific guidelines have been written for curation of content from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. We’re particularly pleased that EOL encourages its curators to improve Wikipedia directly if errors or omissions are found.
So far, more than 200 Wikipedia articles have been reviewed through this process. Reviewers classify the information as follows:
- ‘trusted’ – reviewed by curator and not deemed to contain substantially incorrect information
- ‘untrusted’ – reviewed by curator and deemed to include incorrect or unverifiable information
- ‘inappropriate’ – reviewed by curator and deemed to not be eligible for inclusion in EOL for other reasons (e.g. too short to add value)
EOL makes the entirety of all review information (who reviewed what when, with what outcome) available through an Atom feed. This means that Wikipedians, and others, can use this information easily in the development of new applications.
The book creator tool makes it possible to order a printed and bound book from any Wikipedia article selection. A custom cover can be chosen. Nautilus photograph by Lee Berger, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. (Click to enlarge.)
A proof-of-concept for expert reviews
Magnus Manske is a biochemist and programmer at the Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom. He is also a long-time Wikimedia volunteer, and wrote the first version of the PHP software used by Wikipedia, which later became MediaWiki. As a scientist, Magnus has advocated for the scientific community to use and improve Wikipedia, most recently as co-author of the paper Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia.
I informed Magnus about the new EOL review information, and suggested that we might want to explore using this information to generated printed books or PDF collections of reviewed articles. The software for exporting Wikipedia articles into books already exists, so it was just a matter of putting two and two together.
So, Magnus used the available data feed to create an automated tool that creates a list of all EOL-reviewed article versions in a form that can be used by Wikipedia’s book tool.
This makes it possible to download a PDF file or order a printed book that only contains EOL-reviewed versions of Wikipedia species articles.
To try it out, visit the page for Magnus’ example book. Click “Download PDF” to generate the (very large) PDF file that contains all the species articles, or “order printed book” to preview or order a printed book from PediaPress (which, as of this month, also offers books in color and hardcover format). If you want to remix or play with the book further, you can click “Open book creator”.
We’re very pleased with this first proof-of-concept, and are grateful to the Encyclopedia of Life team for engaging its community in the curation of Wikipedia articles. Both parties benefit: The Encyclopedia of Life enriches its species pages using the often well-developed Wikipedia content. Wikipedia benefits because EOL’s trusted reviewers add their stamp of approval to Wikipedia articles, which helps Wikipedia readers and editors alike. Where EOL reviewers do not approve, they are encouraged to edit the Wikipedia article.
I asked Bob Corrigan, EOL Product Manager and Acting Deputy Director, to give his take on this project. He writes: “This is definitely a win-win partnership. EOL is focused on providing very deep, structured access to trusted biodiversity information from our network of content partners and curators, and vetted Wikipedia articles can be a terrific gateway to this information. We see a closer relationship with Wikimedia as an important way to expand access to global knowledge about life on Earth.”
Hardcover book made from curated Wikipedia articles. Photo credit: Guillaume Paumier; Nautilus photograph by Lee Berger. Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
Example page from the book. Photo credit: Guillaume Paumier; Nautilus photograph by Lee Berger. Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
A replicable model
Magnus’ implementation was already created with an eye to future extensibility. If you’re inclined to take a closer technical look, check out Magnus’ “Sifter-Books” script which generates the book data, and can potentially support multiple partner institutions/organizations providing article reviews. As of the time of this writing, Magnus has already added two additional groups who review Wikipedia articles, Rfam and Pfam, databases of RNA and protein families.
Moreover, Magnus has written a small proof-of–concept script which makes the existence of reviews visible on Wikipedia itself. You need to create a user account on the English Wikipedia and follow the installation instructions to use the script. Once installed, a “Reviews” tab will indicate available article reviews.
We look forward to exploring similar partnerships with subject-matter experts in institutions (like universities and libraries), scientific associations, and specialized knowledge communities. If you’re interested in this model, drop me a note (erik at wikimedia dot org).
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Representative of Wikimedia in the Encyclopedia of Life Institutional Council
Posted by Rob Lanphier
on December 6, 2010
Welcome to the December monthly report from WMF Engineering! As always, we’re reporting on what we’ve been working on and what’s coming up. In November, our more visible work involved launching the Fundraiser and the Upload Wizard on commons. Behind the scenes, we worked on the next iteration of Article Feedback, continued to improve our infrastructure (e.g. monitoring, media storage, backups, analytics infrastructure, credit card handling) and continued to chip away at our code review backlog. We continue to hire at a rapid pace, looking to fill many different roles. More below….
Posted by Jay Walsh
on December 1, 2010
Wikimedia Indonesia co-founder, Wikipedia editor, and all-around high energy volunteer Siska Doviana recently paid a visit to the San Francisco headquarters of the Wikimedia Foundation. She was able to reach out to many staff members and discuss collaborations and initiatives, including the chapter’s recent writing competition, Free Your Knowledge 2010.
While she was in California, Siska also took to the time write a recap of how she began her relationship with Wikimedia and the Indonesian Wikipedia (on fellow Wikimedian GerardM‘s blog), and what ultimately led to the formation of the country’s official Wikimedia chapter: Wikimedia Indonesia.
We’re looking forward to more visits from international chapter representatives and volunteers over the coming months and through 2011.
Thanks for coming the long way to visit, Siska. Safe travels!
Jay Walsh, Communications