Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Archive for August, 2011

Never too late: Taking measures to promote Armenian Wikipedia

(This is the eighth installment in a series of updates from the WikiHistories summer research fellows, who will be studying the virtual community history of different Wikipedia editing communities.)

Almost 15.000 articles since 2003 and just a few dozen active contributors: how to change the situation?

Well, looks like 2011 can be a year of change for Վիքիփեդիա- the Armenian Wikipedia, as the community, supporting organizations and even the state have started taking Wikipedia seriously.

Armenian Wikipedians and volunteers translating Wikipedia guidelines at the hackathon, April 2011

For the first time on April 3 of this year, a 1-day Wikipedia hackathon was organized for Wikipedians and their friends to come together in one place and translate Wikipedia policies and guidelines. About 50 people gathered and 17 guidelines were translated during the day. Even though many of those 50 people did not edit another article afterwards, it was an important step for the development of the Վիքիփեդիա: this in fact was the first event organized by a few interested parties such as educational – humanitarian foundations, software developing firms, IT NGOs and of course, the Wikimedia community.

It all started after Richard Stallman’s visit to Armenia. The Web2.0 activist shared his enthusiasm about open, interactive and collaborative online platforms and suggested, “Why not have another look at Wikipedia?”.

Armine, who works for the educational NGO “Instigate” says that Stallman’s enthusiasm was contagious and, soon after his visit, she and her colleagues registered on Wikipedia, tried and loved it. They thought this was something particularly useful for kids and students and they announced the start of the “Wikipedia: School and University- Armenia” project that now unifies 6 organizations and groups, including the Wikipedia community.

Apart from the hackathon, the initiators of the project visited a few schools: not all of the school headmasters greeted them with enthusiasm, but some were really open to innovations. However, it was Spring, the end of the school year, and both teachers and pupils were too busy to try something new.

15-year-old Mariam is the head of the student council at the Anania Shirakatsi National Lycee.  She is eager to take the first steps as soon as the schools open in September. She has asked some of the active Wikipedians to teach the students the basics of editing and the main principles of the Armenian Wiki community. She says that every student in the Lycee writes over 10 essays during the school year that can be suitable for the online encyclopedia. Besides, she thinks that Wiki platform can be a good place for developing and editing the articles in collaboration with classmates and teachers.

“What can be more attractive for children than the feeling that their work will be available and useful for millions of people. This will also make them more responsible and motivated”,- says Armine. She believes that the sense of collaboration is ideal for classrooms and hopes that more schools will adopt the tool.

The idea has been proposed to the Ministry of Education as well. The reaction was positive, but so far it hasn’t gone any further.

Separate from the School and University project, another Wikipedian - SusikMkr (Susanna Mkrtchyan), has started a process for establishing a Wikimedia Chapter in Armenia. “The community will not grow without a proper organization”, she says.

Susanna works at the Science Management Department of the National Science Academy Computing Institute of Armenia. Discovering Armenian Wikipedia, she was astonished to find the right tool for promoting science and knowledge but disappointed with the current situation. She registered as a Wikipedia contributor last December. Since then she has been reading the policies and studying the experience of other countries trying to find ways for developing Wikipedia. In August she took part in the WikiMania 2011 conference in Haifa and gave a presentation about the situation in Armenia, with suggestions on how to change it. Now she says she is in touch with the Wikimedia Foundation and has their full support to realize  her plan, i. e. to  increase the number of contributors and articles, and establish a  chapter for coordinating the job.

Armenian Wiki community discussing the measures of Wikipedia promotion in Armenia

 This Saturday she invited the active Wikipedians for a talk and discussion of her ideas. She says she already has the support of the Science Academy: they will provide a room and most likely some computers for the workshop and training. Also, the Academy is happy to help with the content.

“We have lots of great minds, scientists who are retired and do not know how to keep themselves busy. We also have high rates of unemployment in the country, so there are a lot of people who have the knowledge but don’t know how to share it. They do not know about Wikipedia. We need to inform and train people”, Susanna insists.

She is also up for more practical approaches: schools should incorporate Wikipedia in the curriculum, universities should take responsibility for enriching the encyclopedia with X number of articles per month, including policy translations. Also, there might be competitions for Wikipedia articles to encourage children to start contributing.

The veteran-Wikipedians, however, are a bit sceptical about these plans. Being guards of Wikipedia traditions and rules, they strongly believe in “good faith”, “openness”, voluntarism” of Wikipedia. If there is any chance that anyone will be paid or forced to contribute to Wikipedia, the community will resist.

Susanna promises not to break the rules and to discuss every step with the community and the Foundation, but one thing is clear for her: she needs to do something about the situation. For her Wikipedia is not just a tool but a philosophy that can be used in all spheres of cultural, social and academic life. 10 years after the creation of Wikipedia, Armenians want to give it another try and really make use of it.

Lusine Grigoryan

MSc Digital Anthropology (UCL), journalist

Three weeks left in the Wikipedia Participation Challenge

There are still three weeks left in the Wikipedia Participation Challenge (see prior blog post)!  So far, the competition has exceeded our expectations.  As of this morning, 78 teams (167 total individuals) from across the world have participated in the competition, with a total of 735 entries submitted. Half of these teams have beat the benchmark we set at the beginning of the competition, which is a testament to the quality of the teams and their submissions.   We can’t wait to see what great algorithms the participants are developing.

There’s still time to jump in before the competition closes on September 20, 2011, so if you haven’t done so, download the data and start crunching.  And those who want to cheer from the sidelines may follow the competition on Kaggle’s leaderboard.

Howie Fung
Senior Product Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Diederik van Liere
Research Consultant, Wikimedia Foundation

Report for Editor Survey, April 2011

Blog readers and the wider Wiki community alike have waited patiently for both the final report and raw data from the editor survey conducted in April. We have good news: it’s finally here.

This post links to the landing page for the final report on Meta, which is available on meta wiki itself and as a downloadable PDF. In addition, raw, anonymized data in a CSV format is available on data dumps for download and further analysis.  We have also provided a codebook and documentation to aid in analysis.

The report covers the following research areas:

  • Editing Activities: What drives editors to edit Wikipedia? What are the different types of editing activities? How do the editors assess the different tools available to them?
  • Demographics: What is the educational background of editors? What is the gender and age distribution of editors? What are the differences and similarities among different groups of editors?
  • Women editors: What are the experiences of women editors? Do women editors have different experiences compared to male editors? Can women editors be segmented into different groups?
  • Editing community: What kinds of interactions do editors have with each other? What kinds of interactions are conducive to editing and what are deterrents to future editing?
  • Location and Language:Where do editors live? How many language Wikipedias do editors edit? Which language Wikipedia gets the maximum attention?
  • Technology and Networking: What kinds of technological devices do editors own or have access to? What devices do they use for editing and reading Wikipedia? Do editors use social media tools? How?
  • Foundation, chapters and board: What is the assessment of the foundation, its chapters, and the Wikimedia movement? Do editors participate in board elections?
We are really excited about sharing the raw data from the survey and urge the community and other researchers to conduct further analysis using the data files. Our report is a first cut at analysis, and we are hopeful that other researchers will conduct more analysis to answer some of the following questions: how does geography impact contributions? Are there differences based on tenure? What can be done to attract more editors to Wikipedia?

Such insights take time to develop, but we can assure you the results are worth the wait.

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

(This is the tenth in series of blog posts where we previously shared insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey.)

The Taj to the Tuk-Tuk. Language in the Indian Wikiworld.

(This is the seventh installment in a series of updates from the WikiHistories summer research fellows, who will be studying the virtual community history of different Wikipedia editing communities.)

Lets just cut to the chase. Yes, the Taj Mahal is every bit as amazing as it’s supposed to be. It’s huge, it changes colors with the rays of the sun and its intricate carvings truly are breathtaking. It is worth putting up with the hassle of Agra’s touts and what may be the worst weather on the entire planet. Really, even in winter it’s pushing 90•, though at least without the sticky humidity that makes the air feel like a sponge the rest of the year. All the misery, though, doesn’t make a bit of difference when you’re in front of the gardens, surrounded by Indians dressed in their finest, everyone gasping as the Taj comes into view.

Clearly, this building is a source of pride for both humanity and the people who live in the nation in which it was built. As I wandered the grounds I was exposed to one of the most unexpected bits of local custom I would find throughout my trip. Foreigners at the Taj Mahal, who pay about 37 times more than Indians to see the site (not an exaggeration), are part of the local attraction. I was approached by dozens of people, some of whom simply handed me their children without warning, so they could take pictures. This would continue to happen at all the major historical sites, but nowhere was it more prevalent than at the Taj. I’d come halfway around the world to see their history, and that, apparently, needed to be documented.

This pride made me curious. What gems of information would I find in the Hindi Wikipedia’s entry on the Taj Mahal that weren’t present in the English Wikipedia entry? It was exciting to think that with this tool at my disposal I would learn something special, something to get me on the inside. When I excitedly looked up the entry I found … a translation of the English page. Bummer.


Surely the monsoon, a season so tied to the Indian collective consciousness it’s not just a season, it’s the inspiration for festivals and literature, has a page that explains all this, adding poetry and national identity to a scientifically leaning article. Negative. The page appears to be an early translation of the English page.

But perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place. Just because I, as a visitor, find these places and things to be fascinating and what I think define India, doesn’t mean that the local population feels the same. It makes sense that even though the monsoon affects India for months that a well written and lengthy article in English, that predates the Hindi Wikipedia page, would be translated rather than written from scratch. Many of the pages are, and several of the Indian Wikipedians I spoke with thought this was just fine. Marathi Wikipedian Mandar Kulkarni, whom I met with in Pune, envisions a Wikiworld in which articles are written in any language and translated to the others. Logistically, not so realistic, but in the true spirit of an open Internet in which one can write about his local community in his local language and share that information with anyone on earth in their local language.

I asked Kulkarni whether this translating of pages leaves out the Indian perspective on English and other non Indic languages pages, but he assured me that because so many Indians edit English Wikipedia, the Western viewpoint isn’t the only one being represented, a sentiment echoed by English Wikipedia editors Pradeep Mohandas and Pranav Curumsey.

For Indic language editors, writing in their local language is a way to keep that language alive and add to the long literary tradition while English language editors are more focused on the globalized world of knowledge. For many, whose local language is another Indic language, Hindi becomes a language of “us” or India, with the local language that of “me.” It’s the language that ties the country together, but not the one that necessarily does the same for neighbors. Further, the definition of “Hindi” is rather complex. Colloquial Hindi, used conversationally, has subtle variations dependent on the location from which the user hails. This can include loanwords from other Indic languages that would be used in one region but not another, or pronunciation. For me the Central India, New Delhi Hindi sounds the most familiar while the pronunciation used in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra make my ears work a little harder. Wikipedia doesn’t suffer too much from these differences, first, because it’s written so the pronunciation differences don’t come info play and second, because it’s written in Modern Standard Hindi, a Sanskritized Hindi that differs from that one would use when, say, picking up a tuk-tuk on the street.

It sounds confusing, but it’s really not any different from the regional dialects and different forms of English that exist throughout the English-speaking world. The difference though, is that many students aren’t literate in Hindi at the levels they are in their local language and English. They’re fluent, but Hindi education doesn’t continue throughout school with the rigor English education does. For this reason, many editors have worked on Hindi Wikipedia as a means of practicing a language they can speak effortlessly.

But that doesn’t mean the tuk-tuk driver, or his son or daughter is left out completely. Modern Standard Hindi doesn’t always mean lengthy literary prose. Sometimes a page is just a little stub, where translation of an English page is an option but where something more local and unique can be understood by those without a high level of education and, if they choose, can be added to.


Patricia Sauthoff

Masters Candidate

South Asian History

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Filter preventing abusive edits comes to all wikis

The AbuseFilter extension for MediaWiki, which helps prevent vandalism on wikis, will be globally enabled on all Wikimedia projects later today.

AbuseFilter was developed by Andrew Garrett with support from the Wikimedia Foundation; it was first enabled on the English Wikipedia in March 2009.

Since then, many local wiki communities have asked individually for AbuseFilter to be turned on on their wiki. As of July 2011, AbuseFilter was already enabled on 66 wikis, out of the 843 wikis the Wikimedia Foundation hosts.

It recently appeared it would just be simpler to enable AbuseFilter by default on all wikis, rather than doing it on request.

When enabled, AbuseFilter comes with no built-in default filters, so no immediate change will be visible on wikis where it is enabled.

Contrary to other anti-vandalism tools, AbuseFilter works by analyzing edits before they’re saved, rather than trying to identify (and revert) them after the fact.

Filters, or “rules”, can be added to AbuseFilter to identify certain kinds of edits matching a pattern. Actions can be taken for these edits, like tagging the edit, preventing the user from saving the page, or even automatically blocking the user. The AbuseFilter documentation provides the format in which filters must be written.

A screenshot of the list of AbuseFilter rules on the English Wikipedia

AbuseFilter catches abusive edits matching defined patterns.

Because AbuseFilter has been in use on the English Wikipedia for more than two years, more details about how AbuseFilter works are available in their documentation; Instructions on how to create a filter are also available.

It is possible to export filters from a wiki, and to import them into another one.

AbuseFilter is an extremely powerful tool, with the potential of preventing edits, blocking users, and making a whole wiki unusable. Therefore, it must be used with extreme caution; filters should only be created and edited by administrators who understand their purpose and syntax.

AbuseFilter can also be used to identify edits that are not abusive, for tracking purposes. Tags can be automatically added to edits matching a certain pattern, thus giving editors and patrollers a heads-up about certain edits (see examples).

Because such tags can also be used to identify legit edits, AbuseFilter is sometimes referred to as “Edit filter”.

AbuseFilter offers the possibility for certain filters to be private, to prevent long-time abusers from knowing how their edits are being identified.

We hope this tool will prove useful to our community of editors and patrollers.

Guillaume Paumier
Technical communications manager

New Media Order in Turkey

(This is the sixth installment in a series of updates from the WikiHistories summer research fellows, who will be studying the virtual community history of different Wikipedia editing communities.)

During my trip in Turkey, I’ve met with many interesting Vikipedians who truly believe in the importance of their contribution to Vikipedi and enjoy the many hours they spend in front of their computers editing the encyclopedia. It has been a highly remarkable experience to meet so many users with a highly successful educational background and with great ambition for their futures. Most Vikipedians are in different stages of their high school and college educations and see Vikipedi as an important part of their academic growth, as well as a significant part of their social life. This was one of the reasons why many of them repeatedly expressed interest in organizing regular meetings. But, they are also interested in organizing international meetings such as Wikimania.

This year, Vikipedians worked really hard for their Wikimania 2012 campaign. But they were not able to find a sponsor for the event and as a result did not have a chance to organize a comprehensive campaign. Although Vikipedi lost the opportunity to host the conference for the next year, there is new hope for Wikimania 2013. Another event that really excites the community is an upcoming conference on new media in Istanbul, New Media Order, where Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has been invited to be a keynote speaker along with Julian Assange, the co-founder of In addition to an immense synergy that these two prominent free-information advocates might bring, the conference also has a great potential to be an important venue to talk about Internet freedom in Turkey.

Thousands of Turks gathered in some 40 cities and towns around the country on Sunday, May 15th, to join marches organized against Internet censorship

This issue has recently garnered a great deal of attention in the context of the imminent threat of the recently proposed Internet ban by the Turkish government, aimed at controlling access to “harmful content.” Last May, thousands of people protested the Internet ban proposal on the streets of major cities across the country by pointing out that the filtering system is compulsory, based on a very arbitrary criteria and too comprehensive. However, there has not been any significant progress in talks with the agency that would be in charge of the application of this new blanket filtering mechanism by 22 August, 2011.

In the light of these recent debates, the New Media Order conference might serve as a platform for a serious discussion by including a larger group of people who have stakes in the free access to information on the Internet. During my interactions with the members of the Vikipedi community I have noticed a great sensibility about the prospects of these restrictions. However, in order to be able to participate in these kinds of vital debates, Vikipedi users think that a Wikimedia Turkey office would be highly useful, which seems to be the next big step for the community.

“We don’t think they would ever filter contents of Vikipedi, but who knows, maybe we would be the first to go, because Vikipedi has already seen many threats, and in some occasions we even had to delete revision histories” said one Vikipedi user, who prefers to remain anonymous. However, these possibilities most of the time translate themselves into a concerted awareness of Vikipedi’s responsibility that further energizes the community,  bringing more hope for saving free information in Turkey.

Ayhan Aytes

PhD Candidate

Communication and Cognitive Science

University of California San Diego

Kiwix localisation is supported at

Offline use of Wikimedia content is a strategic goal for the Wikimedia Foundation. Kiwix is an offline app that allows user to read content without an internet connection, and it can now be localized into many languages on

There are many instances where people do not have an Internet connection available, or where it is cheaper to work offline, notably in the “Global south”.

Data from Wikimedia projects can be exported to the openZIM format, and then read offline on Kiwix, the only openZIM client.

Several projects with local developers invested a considerable amount of time creating their own offline app for their language, their script or for special requirements like formatting for books.

With the localization of Kiwix on, it is now much more of an option to work on such features in Kiwix. Customizations like including fonts with a package or having specific formatting for a book or a source remain possible.

We hope our community will help localize Kiwix in the 270+ languages we currently support with Wikimedia projects. Please start translating the interface and let us know how it goes.


Gerard Meijssen
Internationalization / Localization outreach consultant

2011 Fundraiser Engineering Is Underway!

Engineering efforts for the 2011 annual Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser are underway. This year’s efforts kicked off at the end of May and will be ongoing through the 2011 fundraiser.

This article is the first in a series of posts that we will make following the completion of our development sprints. We will provide an overview of what happened during the sprint, discuss some of the challenges faced, and highlight our achievements.

This year, the fundraiser engineering team is following agile methodology that came out of an ‘inception’ process facilitated by ThoughtWorks.

During the process, we defined and prioritized the high-level requirements for this year’s engineering efforts, identified pain points in our development process, and strategized solutions to enable the team to quickly respond to the constantly changing needs of the fundraiser at a sustainable pace.

We came up with clearly defined roles and lines of communication for everyone involved in the development process, having daily time-boxed stand-up meetings, two-week long development sprints, and a flexible yet well-defined format for creating user stories and acceptance criteria.

We also resolved to implement unit tests for all new software we develop and generally strive for good code hygiene in an effort to build more resilient and reusable software.

After exploring a myriad of open- and closed-source agile-oriented project management tools to help us coordinate our work, we settled on Mingle. While we would much prefer to use an open-source solution, we settled on this proprietary tool as it much more closely meets our needs than any of the others we explored.

You can log in to Mingle to view our backlog, sprint histories, and sprint progress with:

  • Username: guest
  • Password: guest

The team this year is comprised of:

Sprint 4 wrap up

We just completed our fourth development sprint. Our efforts during this sprint were somewhat hampered by vacation and travel for Wikimania. During this sprint, we:

  • Began adding an API for the ContributionTracking extension, which will allow us to seamlessly forward donors to PayPal
  • Added filtering mechanisms for campaign and banner logs in CentralNotice, to allow for more easily tracking changes to campaigns and banners.

You can view sprint 4 in Mingle (log in with guest/guest) and read our notes from the retrospective.

Sprint 5 kick off

We are currently exploring the possibility of adding new payment providers for processing donations (in addition to our current providers, PayPal and PayflowPro), in order to increase the currencies available for donations as well as potentially open up new donation methods (e.g. bank transfer).

Adding a new payment provider to the current architecture is a significant engineering challenge, requiring some serious refactoring of the DonationInterface extension, and we are eager to get started. So, we have decided to make sprint 5 a one-week sprint to try and wrap up the unfinished tasks from sprint 4 so that we can kick off engineering efforts to accommodate additional payment providers as soon as possible.

You can view sprint 5 in Mingle (log in with guest/guest).

Upcoming deployments

Pending code review, we will be deploying the following later this week:

  • Fixes to CentralNotice that allow banner dismissal by banner category
  • CentralNotice enhancements which allow for logging banner settings changes as well as filtering logs by time, user, campaign, and banner

Get involved

If you are interested in getting involved, visit us on IRC in #wikimedia-fundraising.

Arthur Richards
Fundraiser tech lead

Wikimedia engineering July 2011 report

Major news in July include:

  • Ongoing data replication from our primary Florida data center to our new Virginia data center;
  • The deployment of the Article Feedback feature to all articles on the English Wikipedia, and the deployment of MoodBar;
  • The successful implementation of a MySQL-based parser cache on Wikimedia wikis;
  • Mid-term evaluation of our Summer of Code projects.


Calling mobile testers for round two

Thanks to everyone for participating in our first round of mobile gateway testing.

This time around we’d like you to have our new mobile gateway for your default experience.

Follow this link on your mobile phone to opt in: and send us feedback.