Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Fabrice Florin

Help Test Media Viewer

Media Viewer lets you browse larger images on Wikimedia sites.

We invite you to try out Media Viewer, a new tool for browsing multimedia content, which is now in beta on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites.

Today, viewing images on our sites can be a frustrating experience for casual users: when you click on a thumbnail in an article, you are taken to a separate page where the image is shown in medium size and surrounded with a lot of text information that can be confusing to readers.

Media Viewer aims to improve this viewing experience by showing images in larger size, as an overlay on the current page. To reduce visual clutter, all information is shown below the image, and can be expanded at a click of a button.

This new tool is being developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s multimedia team and we now invite you to try out in beta version. We plan to gradually release this tool in coming months, starting with a few pilot tests, followed by wider deployments in the next quarter.

How it works

With Media Viewer, you can click on any image thumbnail to see it in large size, without visual clutter. You can see the file name and author credits at the bottom of the screen, and view more information in an expandable panel below the image.

You can also expand the image to full screen, for a more immersive experience, or browse through all images in an article or gallery by clicking on the next and previous arrows. The ‘Use this file’ tool will make it easier to share images with your community, add them to articles or download them for your own purposes, with full attribution to contributors.

User response so far suggests that Media Viewer provides a richer multimedia experience, right where users expect it. They tell us they can see the images more clearly, without having to jump to separate pages, and that the interface is more intuitive, offering easy access to images and metadata.

How you can help

Can you help us test Media Viewer in coming weeks? It’s already included in our “Beta Features” program, so you can try it out right away. Now that we’re planning to enable it more widely, your help is even more crucial to uncover issues and bugs we haven’t caught before.

You can test this tool on any Wikimedia site; for example, you can try it out on this test page. To enable Media Viewer, you first need to log in and click on the small ‘Beta’ link next to ‘Preferences’ in your personal menu; then check the box next to ‘Media Viewer’ and click ‘Save’; you will now be able to click on any thumbnail image to see it in the Media Viewer on that site . Before you start, be sure to read these testing tips.

Try out Media Viewer and let us know what you think on this discussion page. If you find any technical bugs, please report them on Bugzilla.

Over 12,000 beta testers have now enabled Media Viewer across wikis around the world. Here is an overview of the feedback they have kindly given us to help improve this tool. Many of their suggestions are now being implemented, as part of our current release plan.

Next steps

The next version of Media Viewer will support video, audio and other file formats.

We are now working on beta version v0.2 of Media Viewer, with a focus on a better user interface, faster image load, more file info and attributions, still images only, as well as improved ‘Use this file’ tools (e.g. share, embed, download). We aim to release this version gradually out of beta, starting with limited tests on a few pilot sites in coming weeks. Based on test results, we plan a wider release of Media Viewer v0.2 next quarter.

The next version v0.3 of Media Viewer will focus on supporting more file formats (e.g. slides, video, audio), as well as zooming on large images and adding plug-ins for developers. For a preview of what we’re considering, check our Media Viewer v0.3 goals and mockups.

In future releases, we also hope to provide a few tools to help users take action on the media they are viewing: for example, a user might want to thank the person who uploaded a file, or report issues about that file. To see how we propose to expand Media Viewer in coming years, check out this multimedia vision for 2016.

Technology

If you are a developer, you can learn more about the technology behind Media Viewer on these two extension pages: MultimediaViewer (the front-end code that delivers the main user experience) and CommonsMetadata (the back-end code that delivers the file info to the viewer). In coming weeks, we hope to add a variety of hooks, accessible via the usual mw.hook interface, to allow more customization of behavior in the MultimediaViewer extension through gadgets and other extensions.

For more information about this tool, visit its project overview page; you can also learn more about other multimedia projects we’re working at the Multimedia project hub.

Thanks

Multimedia Team members: Gilles, Mark, Fabrice, Gergo, and Aaron (left to right)

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the folks who made this project possible, including Gilles Dubuc, Pau Giner, Aaron Arcos, Keegan Peterzell, Brian Wolff, Jared Zimmerman, May Galloway, Bryan Davis, Brion Vibber, Rob Lanphier, Erik Moeller, Howie Fung and Tomasz Finc, to name but a few.

We’re also grateful to all the community members who helped create this feature, through a series of roundtable discussions held by video conference, in person and over IRC. If you would like to participate in future discussions, we invite you to join our multimedia mailing list.

We look forward to more collaborations with you in coming weeks. Your feedback is invaluable for improving Media Viewer, and providing a better experience to our users!

Best regards,

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager
Mark Holmquist, Software Engineer
Gergő Tisza, Software Engineer
on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Multimedia Team

RfC: Should we support MP4 video on our sites?

A video of a cheetah, captured in slow-motion at 1200 fps. The video was released on Vimeo in MP4 format and converted to OGV format before uploading to Commons. It cannot be viewed in this format on most mobile phones and many web browsers.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s multimedia team seeks your guidance on a proposal to support the MP4 video format. This digital video standard is used widely around the world to record, edit and watch videos on mobile phones, desktop computers and home video devices. It is also known as H.264/MPEG-4 or AVC.

Supporting the MP4 format would make it much easier for our users to view and contribute video on Wikimedia projects. Video files could be offered in dual formats on our sites, so we could continue to support current open formats (WebM and Ogg Theora).

Currently, open video files cannot be viewed on many mobile devices or web browsers without extra software, making it difficult or impossible for several hundred million monthly visitors to watch videos on our sites. Video contributions are also limited by the fact that most mobile phones and camcorders record video only in MP4 format, and that transcoding software is scarce and hard to use by casual users.

However, MP4 is a patent-encumbered format, and using a proprietary format would be a departure from our current practice of only supporting open formats on our sites—even though the licenses appear to have acceptable legal terms, with only a small fee required.

We would appreciate your guidance on whether or not to support MP4 on our sites. This Request for Comments presents views both in favor of and against MP4 support, and hundreds of community members have already posted their recommendations.

What do you think? Please post your comments on this page.

All users are welcome to participate, whether you are active on Commons, Wikipedia, other Wikimedia projects—or any site that uses content from our free media repository. We also invite you to spread the word in your community about this issue.

We look forward to a constructive discussion with you and your community, so we can make a more informed decision together about this important question.

All the best,

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager, Multimedia
On behalf of the Multimedia team

Wikimedia Foundation’s Engineering and Product Group

A Multimedia Vision for 2016

How will we use multimedia on our sites in three years?

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Multimedia team was formed to provide a richer experience and support more media contributions on Wikipedia, Commons, and MediaWiki sites. We believe that audio-visual media offer a unique opportunity to engage a wide range of users to participate productively in our collective work.

To inform our plans, we’ve created a simple vision of how we might collaborate through multimedia by 2016. This hypothetical scenario was prepared with guidance from community members and is intended for discussion purposes, to help us visualize possible improvements to our user experience over the next three years.

Vision

The best way to view this vision is to watch this video:

Multimedia Vision 2016, presented by Fabrice Florin at a Wikimedia Meetup in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 2013.

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Introducing Beta Features

The Beta Features preferences page.

We’re pleased to announce Beta Features, a way you can try out new features on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites before they are released for everyone.

Beta Features lets developers roll out new software in an environment where lots of users can use these features, then give feedback to help make them better.

You can think of it as a digital laboratory – where community members can preview upcoming changes and help designers and engineers make improvements based on their suggestions. (more…)

Notifications Launch on More Wikipedias

Notifications inform you of new activity that affects you on Wikipedia and let you take quick action.

We’re happy to announce the release of the Notifications feature on dozens of Wikipedias in many languages!

Notifications inform users of new activity that affects them, such as talk page messages or mentions of their names. It was developed this year by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team.

New languages

In recent weeks, we enabled Notifications on wikis in two dozen languages, including Wikipedia in the Dutch, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese, to name but a few. In the coming weeks, we’ll be rolling out this engagement tool to many more sites, and we expect it to be enabled on most Wikimedia wikis by the end of 2013.

Community response has been very positive so far, across languages and regions. Users are responding particularly well to social features such as Mentions and Thanks (see below), which enable them to communicate more effectively than before.

For each release, we reached out to community members weeks in advance, inviting them to translate and discuss the tool with their peers. As a result, we have now formed productive relationships with volunteer groups in each project, and are very grateful for their generous support. We find this collaborative approach very effective and hope to expand on these partnerships for other product releases in the future.

New platforms

Notifications are now available on mobile devices as well. This will allow mobile users to stay up-to-date on events and activities that affect them on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

For this project, we were also glad to introduce HTML email to Wikipedia, to provide a more appealing user experience, with clear visual cues and less clutter than the plain text emails used until now.

We believe that supporting new platforms and formats like these is key to engaging millions of new users, who expect a modern notification experience across all their platforms.
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Notifications launch on the English Wikipedia

Notifications inform you of new activity that affects you on Wikipedia — and let you take quick action.

We’re happy to announce this week’s release of Notifications on the English Wikipedia.

Notifications inform users about new activity that affects them on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, such as talk page messages, page reviews or edit reverts. It also lets them take quick action to respond to these events.

This new notifications system (formerly called Echo) was developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s editor engagement team, to encourage people to participate more actively on MediaWiki sites (see earlier post). It provides a modern, unified user experience that replaces or augments existing notification systems — and gives significantly more control to users.

Here’s a quick overview of this new engagement tool.

How do notifications work?

When someone takes an action that relates to you on a Wikipedia or MediaWiki site, a red badge shows up next to your user name, with the number of unread notifications. Clicking on that badge displays a flyout listing the most recent notifications (see screenshot). You can then click on the notification of your choice to learn more and take action.

This first release features a variety of notifications:

  • Talk page messages: when a message is left on your user talk page;
  • Mentions: when your user name is mentioned on a talk page;
  • Page reviews: when a page you created is reviewed;
  • Page links: when a page you created is linked;
  • Edit reverts: when your edits are undone or rolled back;
  • Thanks: when someone thanks you for your edit (coming soon);
  • User rights: when your user rights change;
  • Welcome: when you create a new account;
  • Getting started: easy ways for new users to start editing.

These notifications were created to support the needs of both new and experienced users. For example, new users who create an account receive special Welcome and Getting started notifications to guide them in their critical first steps on Wikipedia. A special Thanks notification lets experienced users give positive feedback to new users who made constructive edits, to encourage them to contribute more. And power users will benefit from the User rights notifications (which are sent when your user rights are changed) and Mentions (sent when someone mentions your name) — two features that were found useful by active editors we consulted for this project.

To learn more about notifications, visit this FAQ page. To customize your notifications, check your preferences on the English Wikipedia. Once you’ve received your first notifications, please take this quick survey and join the discussion on this talk page.

Next steps

During the next few weeks, we plan to fix bugs and tweak Notifications based on community feedback. We are working on a few more features for our next release, such as alternative displays of talk page messages, more visually appealing HTML emails and new ways to dismiss notifications you don’t want. Over time, we would also like to develop more notifications for both new and power users. If you have any suggestions for improving this tool, please let us know :).

Once Notifications have been improved and fully tested on the English Wikipedia, we plan to make this product available in more languages on other Wikipedias and sister projects. In parallel, we will start providing tools and guidelines to allow notifications to be extended by developers.

Thanks

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank some of the people who made this product possible. They include Ryan Kaldari, Benny Situ, Luke Welling, Vibha Bamba, Oliver Keyes, Brandon Harris, Steven Walling, Matthew Flaschen, Dario Taraborelli, Howie Fung, Terry Chay and Erik Moeller, to name a few of our colleagues. We’d also like to thank all the community members who have guided our development and everyone else who pitched in to help us bring this tool to life!

We look forward to continuing these collaborations in coming months and to helping engage millions of Wikimedia users to share free knowledge more productively.

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager
Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team

Echo: A new notification system for Wikipedia

Notifications inform you of important events and invite you to take quick action.

Notifications inform you of important events and invite you to take quick action.

How can our users learn about events that affect them, so they can contribute more productively to MediaWiki sites like Wikipedia?

In this post, we’d like to introduce a new notifications system called Echo, now under development by the Wikimedia Foundation’s editor engagement team to address this question.

Echo aims to inform users of important events that relate to them, and help them take action more easily. To that end, we aim to provide a modern notifications system with a more unified user experience than what exists today on MediaWiki sites.

Here’s a quick overview of our plans for this editor engagement project.

Key features

Echo was designed to be simple and easy to use: if you have new notifications, a red badge appears next to your name, at the top right of any page. Click on that badge to see a fly-out listing your most recent notifications.

Notifications are associated with different types of events, such as “You have a message”, “Your edit was reverted” or “A page you started was reviewed”.

To see all your notifications from previous days, you can visit a personal archive page. You can also change your user preferences to control which types of events you’d like to be notified about, and/or request email notifications.

To learn more about Echo features, check out our project slides and feature requirements.

Next steps

An early beta version is now being tested on MediaWiki.org, and you can try it out here.

We plan to release a first beta version on the English Wikipedia by the end of March. For this first release, we are focusing on a limited number of notifications — most of them will benefit new users who are not yet familiar with how Wikipedia works. In addition, the release will include some internationalization support, along with the hooks necessary for adding notifications through extensions.

In future releases, we aim to provide more notifications and advanced features for experienced users, as well as develop an external API for notifications. Over time, this product is expected to replace and augment existing notification systems on MediaWiki sites, as well as provide significantly more control to both users and developers as to how their notifications are handled, read, and deleted.

Join us

If you are a developer and would like to contribute to the purpose-driven social experiment that is Wikipedia, we invite you to help us write Echo and other editor engagement features by participating in the project as a volunteer, or perhaps even joining our team: we are looking to hire a Software Engineer to work specifically on Editor Engagement features like Echo.

If you are up to the challenge, we encourage you to apply. Be a part of a great team that’s building new tools for the editors who create the sum of all human knowledge.

In collaboration with our community, we look forward to releasing this new notification system in coming months, to help engage millions of MediaWiki users over time.

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager
Ryan Kaldari, Lead Engineer
Terry Chay, Director of Features Engineering
Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team

Article Feedback: New research and next steps

This feedback form engages readers to contribute to Wikipedia

How can we engage readers to contribute productively to Wikipedia?

Our recent work on Article Feedback v5 (AFT) provides new insights on that question. In this post, we’d like to share what we’ve learned by analyzing feedback and moderation activity — as well as give a quick update on our next steps for this project, which is being developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s editor engagement team.

Article Feedback v5 aims to increase participation on Wikipedia (a strategic goal of the Wikimedia movement): this tool asks readers to suggest improvements to articles, then invites them to sign up and become editors. Another goal of this project is to help current editors improve article quality based on reader suggestions. (Learn more about Article Feedback.)

Last summer, we deployed this new tool on 10 percent of the English Wikipedia and we have been testing it extensively to evaluate its impact on readers and editors. Here’s what we found so far.

Slides from the AFTv5 report (2012-Q4)

Key findings

These highlights of our latest research on Article feedback are based on feedback and moderation data collected from September 7 to November 7, 2012 (more details can be found in these slides):

Many readers use this feature

Readers are already posting a lot of feedback with this tool — an average of 4,100 posts per day from 2,800 daily unique readers, on just 10 percent of the English Wikipedia. At this rate, we project up to 900,000 feedback posts with comments per month once Article Feedback is deployed to 100 percent of English Wikipedia in 2013. About 98 percent of this feedback is from anonymous users who are not currently participating on Wikipedia. About 70 percent of the readers we surveyed liked this feedback tool after using it. Their responses suggest that it makes it easy for them to get involved and that they enjoy doing it.

This tool is converting readers into new editors

Article Feedback appears effective in getting new users to contribute to Wikipedia. For example, 2.7 percent of readers who post feedback go on to create a new account, after being invited to sign up. And 3 percent of these new users go on to edit articles within 24 hours from signing up. At this rate, we project several hundred thousand new registrations per year on the English Wikipedia — resulting in many new contributors, which we hope can help reverse the current editor decline.

Useful feedback is buried under a lot of noise

In our first feedback evaluation study last spring, we asked 20 Wikipedia editors to blindly assess 900 random feedback posts for usefulness. About 40 percent of the feedback was found useful by at least two evaluators. This finding is consistent with this moderation data, which shows more negative than positive evaluations by community moderators. We also found that most of the moderation takes place on high traffic articles, which attract lower quality feedback. (To get a sense of what comments look like on a recently created article, check out the feedback page for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting article.)

Most feedback never gets moderated

Editor moderation activity is very low when compared to the volume of feedback posted every day. Less than 10% of all posts for a sample of the 100 most visited articles are moderated by registered editors within a month. In fact, less than 10% of feedback posted every single day receives any kind of moderation within a month, whether by readers or registered editors. In the current version of the tool, many editors can’t easily find comments for articles they edit, an issue which could be addressed by making feedback more visible to editors on the article pages.

More results can be found in these slides, which summarize our analysis of feedback and moderation data. Live moderation data can also be viewed on this dashboard.

Next steps

Mockup of new moderation tools and filters under consideration.

Based on our these findings, we are now developing a final version of Article Feedback 5, which we plan to release in early 2013. Our goals for this release are to:

  • surface more good feedback
  • reduce the editor workload
  • improve software performance.

Here are some of the key features we are working on:

Better feedback filters

We are improving our filtering tools to automatically surface more good feedback and remove irrelevant comments. For example, the new feedback page will only feature comments that have been marked as helpful — and feedback that has not yet been moderated will be listed in a separate filter. We are also creating more abuse filters to prevent users from posting inappropriate comments.

Simpler moderation tools

To reduce the editor workload, we are simplifying the feedback moderation tools. These new tools will enable moderators to quickly sort feedback into different groups, so that editors can focus on useful suggestions for improvements, without being distracted by comments that are not usable. We also plan to make useful feedback more visible to editors, through a special link on article pages.

Improved performance

We are refactoring our code to make this tool more scalable so it can support millions of comments with better database performance. This backend engineering work has taken longer than anticipated, in order to provide a solution that can be used by other projects.

Once these features have been developed, we plan to test them on 10 percent of the English Wikipedia, then release them to 100 percent in the first quarter of 2013. We expect more projects to deploy Article Feedback after this full release. For example, the German Wikipedia has already started a pilot to evaluate this tool on their site, and a similar pilot is under discussion on the French Wikipedia. For now, we invite you to try out Article Feedback for yourself on this sample article.

We would like to thank all the Wikipedians who have helped us design and develop Article Feedback this year. We look forward to deploying it widely early next year, to encourage more participation from readers. We hope this engagement tool can help sign up new contributors, to revert the editor decline and provide new ways for users to improve Wikipedia together.

Happy holidays!

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager
Dario Taraborelli, Senior Research Analyst
Oliver Keyes, Community Liaison
Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team

Page Curation launches on English Wikipedia

Every day, thousands of new pages are created on Wikipedia, requiring hundreds of volunteer editors to check them for quality — a process called “New Page Patrol.” To help these patrollers do their important work, we are pleased to announce the launch of Page Curation, a new suite of tools for reviewing articles on Wikipedia.

Current page patrol tools like Special:NewPages and Twinkle can be hard to use quickly and accurately, and have led to frustration for some users. Page Curation aims to improve that page patrol experience by making it faster and easier to review new pages, using two integrated tools:

  • the New Pages Feed
  • the Curation Toolbar

The New Pages Feed lets you quickly see what new pages have just been created on Wikipedia. Helpful information is provided for each new page, including possible issues and whether or not the page has been reviewed. The feed can be sorted by date, or filtered by a variety of criteria, so you can easily find articles to review by type, or even by user name.

The Curation Toolbar appears at the right edge of any article selected by patrollers in the New Pages Feed. It allows them to review articles, tag them, and nominate them for deletion — all in one place and with a simple user interface. This toolbar, which is only available to auto-confirmed editors, also includes other useful curation tools. For example, you can quickly see information about the article and its history without ever leaving the page, send personal messages to help page creators improve their articles, or jump to the next page on the list.

Page Curation was created in close collaboration with community editors, and was developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team from March to September 2012. A ‘release version’ was deployed on the English Wikipedia on September 20, 2012, and we plan to make it available to other projects in coming weeks.

If you are an experienced editor, please give Page Curation a try. A number of patrollers have already started using Page Curation, and we hope that more curators will adopt this new toolkit over time. To get started, watch this video tour or take the tutorial. For more info, check the help page, and report any issues on the talk page or to our Community Liaison, Oliver Keyes. We are also holding IRC office hours on Tuesday, September 25 at 19:00 UTC, and Wednesday, September 26 at 23:00 UTC, during which we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

We designed Page Curation to offer a better experience, by making it easier for curators to review new pages and by providing more feedback to creators so they can improve Wikipedia together. We hope you’ll find this new tool useful. Enjoy!

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager, Editor Engagement Team

Article feedback v5 starts wider deployment on Wikipedia

I am happy to announce that Wikimedia’s editor engagement team has started a wider deployment of Article Feedback version 5 on the English Wikipedia.

This new version of Article Feedback provides a new way for readers to contribute productively on Wikipedia. It engages them to make suggestions about articles they are reading — and invites editors to improve these articles based on this feedback. Our research also suggests that this new tool can help readers become editors over time.

We are currently testing this new tool on 3% of the English Wikipedia, and plan to gradually increase its reach to 10% by the end of July 2012. After final testing and debugging in the coming weeks, we expect to release this new version on all English Wikipedia articles in early fall — then to other projects in the following months. (Note that we will then retire the earlier Article Feedback version 4, which was based solely on user ratings, without comments.)

Based on our research, we now project a significant amount of feedback when the tool is fully deployed on the English Wikipedia. As a result, we believe that this new tool can enable a new form of participation for Wikipedia readers, most of whom do not currently edit the encyclopedia.

Here’s how you can learn more about Article Feedback v5:

We invite you to try out Article Feedback now, on one of these pages:

New feedback form, shown at the bottom of some Wikipedia articles.

 

Please let us know what you think of this new tool. We welcome your questions and suggestions in the comments below — or on the Article Feedback Talk page.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Wikipedia community members who helped create Article feedback. Over the past nine months, we worked closely with many experienced editors to design features that serve the needs of readers and editors alike. This deployment is an important milestone for us all, and we look forward to more collaborations on future editor engagement projects.

We hope you find this new feature useful. We can’t wait to see it used more widely on Wikipedia!

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager

Wikimedia Foundation’s Editor Engagement Team

 

P.S.: If you plan to attend Wikimania 2012 this week, we invite you to join this talk on Article Feedback.