Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Jay Walsh

Presenting our 2009-10 annual report

Today we released the 2009-10 Wikimedia Foundation annual report, the Foundation’s third annual report since 2008. This year’s report is built on our incredible vision statement, well known to just about any Wikimedian in our community: Imagine a world in which every person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. Well, we are, and this year’s report follows that vision and recounts some of the Wikimedia community’s incredible successes since mid 2009.

This year we published the report in three formats: paper/print (24 pages in all), PDF for easier on-screen reading, and in wiki format.  The wiki version is hosted on Meta-wiki, the open wiki staging ground where thousands of Wikimedians collaborate on new projects to support the Wikimedia movement. The wiki format will also allow easy translation and reuse of the report by any person wishing to tell the story of the Wikimedia community.

The images in the report are particularly beautiful, and show just a tiny fraction of the extraordinary photographs that people and institutions from around the world have given away freely on Wikimedia Commons.  The report is, of course, CC BY SA, and copying and reuse of the materials is encouraged.

Thanks to our report designers at EXBROOK, as well as our advisor David Weir for their hard work.  And thanks to the community members from all over the world who work hard to build and maintain the projects, establish new partnerships, spread the ideas and values of the Wikimedia movement, and bring the Wikimedia vision to reality.  We hope this report helps tell part of that incredible story and helps bring new supporters into the fold.

Jay Walsh, Communications

“How Wikipedia Works” hits our shelves

Thanks to our friends at No Starch Press, San Francisco-based publishers of one of the largest and most detailed guides to Wikipedia ever printed (and available under the GFDL!) the bookshelves at Wikimedia Foundation’s offices in San Francisco are over-flowing with how-to knowledge.

In January the publishers offered to provide us with a few hundred copies of “How Wikipedia Works” to give to Foundation visitors, particularly editors and contributors.  Authored by Wikimedia Foundation board member Phoebe Ayers, and long-time Wikipedians Charles Matthews and Ben Yates, the 500+ page book discusses the culture, history, technology, and impact of Wikipedia, while also providing a detailed primer for getting involved and participating among the community of editors.

Our thanks to No Starch Press for  their generous donation and their continuing support of the Wikimedia mission.

Jay Walsh, Communications

Sue Gardner joins Ada Initiative advisory board

Today the Ada Initiative announced the appointment of Sue Gardner, ED of the Wikimedia Foundation, to its first advisory board. The Ada Initiative launched just a few weeks ago, and has the aim of promoting the visibility and participation of women in open-source culture. The group, founded by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner, will undertake unique research in the field of women in open-source culture, provide consultative services to organizations and businesses, and develop training and education services.

The Initiative‘s namesake, Countess Ada Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), was considered one of the world’s first computer programmers, and was almost certainly the first woman in computer programming. She collaborated with Charles Babbage, the creator of one of the first mechanical computers, the analytical engine, writing what is generally considered the first code instructions for a computer.

From Wikipedia,

She was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron (with Anne Isabella Milbanke), but had no relationship with her father, who died when she was nine. As a young adult she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular Babbage’s work on the analytical engine. Between 1842 and 1843 she translated an article by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with a set of notes of her own. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program—that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Though Babbage’s engine was never built, Lovelace’s notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities. [1]

Wikipedia has been in the news recently following a New York Times story highlighting the lack of women participating in the project, based on researched gathered by the United Nations University Study.  Interest in the topic has brought new thinkers to the Wikimedia community, which also recently resulted in the creation of a Wikimedia gender gap mailing list, which is open to the public.

Congratulations, Sue, and good luck to everyone involved in the Ada Initiative!

Jay Walsh, Communications

[1] Ada Lovelace. (2011, February 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:03, February 24, 2011, from

Wikimedia selects Watchmouse for global monitoring services

Earlier today we announced our selection of Watchmouse website monitoring to assist both the Foundation and anyone around the world in keeping an eye on our server uptime and status.  With Watchmouse’s help, the Foundation now has a public status page, which is maintained offsite on servers independent from Wikimedia, that reports our uptime and accessibility levels from over 50 locations around the world. The service breaks out each of the primary server systems of the Foundation, because it definitely takes more than one computer to keep us up and running.

This is the first time Wikimedia has offered a publicly visible, externally hosted website monitoring service. Uptime is of course critical for reaching all of Wikimedia’s users, but also for ensuring that our wikis are open and editable to everyone, all the time.

With a rapidly growing, and global, audience of hundreds of millions of readers and contributors, Wikimedia’s properties have become an integral part of how the world accesses and shares knowledge.  This new service is particularly important as the Foundation establishes its permanent data center infrastructure, and looks beyond the US and Europe to establish more data centers (more regular updates from our engineering team can be found on the Wikimedia tech blog). Publicly sharing where downtime (and uptime, of course) is being experienced also helps us maintain our mission focus on transparency and accessibility.

Thanks for joining us as mission supporters, Watchmouse!

Jay Walsh, Communications

WikiProject Medicine urges medical community to edit

Earlier today the esteemed Journal of Medical Internet Research published a viewpoint paper authored by a collaborative writing group of medical doctors, scientists, and students who are part of WikiProject Medicine, titled “Wikipedia as a key tool for global public health promotion.” The paper (available in its entirety on the Journal site, and posted under a CC license) reviews a range of recent studies examining the quality and breadth of medical information on Wikipedia, concludes that the material is broad and accurate, and further urges medical professionals around the world to join the project and contribute their information to the sum of all knowledge. There are more than 20,000 medical-related articles in Wikipedia, and a further 6,000 drug-related articles.

The authors are all active in the WikiProject Medicine, one of hundreds of collaboration projects on Wikipedia focussed on specific topic areas.  Wikipedians work together  in WikiProjects to identify under-represented topic areas, list articles needing quality improvement, and recognize each others’ considerable achievements in the topic space. WikiProject Medicine was founded in 2004 by Dr. Jacob F. de Wolff, and now includes more than 200 active editors from a range of backgrounds, including nurses, researchers, physicians, and laypeople.

The paper urges physicians and medical professionals to find ways to incorporate contributions to Wikipedia into their work, suggesting ideas for scholarly incentives or possibly issuing continuing medical education credits. To get involved, visit WikiProject Medicine.  You may also want to check out some introductory how-to-edit guides posted by the Wikimedia outreach team.

The authors and Wikipedians contributing to the viewpoint project:

  • James M. Heilman, MD, CCFP(EM), is an emergency physician at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Moose Jaw Union Hospital, Moose Jaw, Canada. He is also associated with the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada.
  • Eckhard Kemmann, MD, FACOG, is a retired faculty member at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UMDNJ-Robert Wood, Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States.
  • Michael Bonert, MD, MASc, is an anatomical pathology resident at the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • Anwesh Chatterjee, MRCP, is a respiratory medicine specialty registrar at the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Poole General Hospital, Poole, United Kingdom.
  • Brent Ragar, MD, is an attending physician at the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
  • Graham M. Beards, DSc, is a specialist biomedical and clinical scientist in microbiology at Walsall Manor Hospital, Walsall, United Kingdom.
  • David J. Iberri is a medical student at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont, United States.
  • Matthew Harvey, BMed, is an anatomical pathology registrar at the Anatomical Pathology Department, Pathology Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. He is also an associate lecturer at the Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
  • Brendan Thomas, MD, is a dermatology resident at the department of Dermatology, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
  • Wouter Stomp, MD, is a PhD candidate at the Department of Radiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
  • Michael F. Martone is a medical student at Rush University Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
  • Daniel J. Lodge, MD, is a resident at the Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • Andrea Vondracek, PhD, is a post-doctoral researcher at the department of Immunology, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, United States.
  • Jacob F. de Wolff, MRCP, is an emergency physician at the Department of Acute Medicine, West Middlesex University Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
  • Casimir Liber, MBBS, FRANZCP, is a psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry, Bankstown Health Service, Sydney, Australia, and a conjoint lecturer at the School of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
  • Samir C. Grover, MD, FRCPC, is an assistant professor of medicine at the Division of Gastroenterology, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  • Tim J. Vickers, MSc, PhD, is a staff scientist at the Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States.
  • Bertalan Meskó, MD, is a PhD candidate at the Medical School and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary.
  • Dr. Michaël R. Laurent is a specialty registrar in internal medicine at the Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

We’re deeply appreciative of the pioneering work that these editors are carrying out on Wikipedia, alongside their ongoing professional careers.  Wikipedians from all walks of life, and from around the world, are collaborating to further expand the quality and breadth of Wikipedia’s freely available and reusable medical information – furthering the Wikimedia mission of spreading free knowledge around the world.  Thank you!

Jay Walsh, Communications

A gift of visualization on Wikipedia’s birthday

Earlier today the Washington D.C. based creative agency JESS3 posted the video above, and an informative web case study, – a follow-up to another recent case study they did on another big idea, the Internet. JESS3 (also donors to the Wikimedia Foundation) folks Leslie Bradshaw and Becca Colbaugh on the inspiration for the work:

In a collaborative effort to capture a historic moment in time for Wikipedia, we announced this morning “The State of Wikipedia,” a digital short aimed at teaching the layperson Wikipedia’s initial concept and consequent evolution into becoming one of the most visited web sites across the globe.

We look forward to see what the next 10 years hold for Wikipedia and how it will continue to help add contours, diversity and permanency to information the world over.

They were supported by long-time Wikipedian William Beutler, and the voice you might recognize is none other than the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. The video is CC-BY-SA (it can be downloaded from Vimeo – Commons link as soon as we have it), which means anyone around the world can use, re-use, and share this great work that tells the story of our project and our movement.

A big thanks to JESS3 for taking the considerable time to put this story together. We think it will make a big difference in helping people talk about our big projects and the complex world of the Wikimedia movement. A great Wikipedia 10 birthday gift!

Jay Walsh, Communications

Wikipedia 10 hits the headlines

Today we’ve seen a wide range of media outlets around the world cover the news about Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary.  Some stories recount the history of the project from its humble beginnings, and others collect the viewpoints of big thinkers on the topic of web and technology.  The Foundation’s Executive Director also published an op-ed piece in the Guardian that looks into the project and its pioneer beginnings. It’s wonderful to see so many media outlets, blogs, and great institutions probe deeply into the stories of Wikipedia, and start to ask big questions about Wikipedia’s considerable impact on society and the internet.

Wikipedia 10 celebrators around the world are documenting the coverage on, a wiki specially created for the occasion. Some of the highlights of the day:

The Times of India out of Bangalore discusses Wikipedia’s push for more local language content.

The Atlantic from New York prepared a wide-ranging package of content about the anniversary, including insights from Wikimedia advisory board members Craig Newmark, Jay Rosen, Clay Shirky, and Ethan Zuckerman.

Read Write Web asks readers what Wikipedia will look like in ten years.

The Washington Post featured a lengthy piece on the history and future of Wikipedia, including an interview with Jimmy Wales.

Italy’s La Repubblica covered the occasion, and made a visit to the Foundation’s San Francisco offices earlier this week.

Wired UK and the US Wired are in the midst of ‘Wikipedia week‘ and have included some great Wikipedia lists.

The Guardian‘s feature op-ed by Wikimedia ED Sue Gardner ran earlier today.

We’ll update the media coverage page over the next week as more global coverage emerges, and as we cross the threshold of the big anniversary.

Jay Walsh

Indonesian volunteer Siska Doviana recounts her wiki beginnings

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

Wikipedia hard-cover editions now available

This week our friends over at Pediapress announced that custom-printable books containing Wikipedia articles are now also being offered in attractive hard cover, bound editions – and in color. Previously customers could order softcover editions of books containing a customizable list of Wikipedia articles in any configuration. The new hardcover editions even contain a silk bookmark and stitched bindings.

The Pediapress MediaWiki extension on Wikipedia allows users to collect any number of articles or categories into a single PDF file or OpenOffice text file, which can then be downloaded for off-line viewing or local printing, or through Pediapress’ on-demand printing technologies the document can be turned into a bound book and shipped right to you. To start creating a book, look for the Create a book link under Print/Export on the lefthand Wikipedia menu. Some incredibly unique and inspired Wikipedia books have been created since Pediapress kicked off.

Now is your chance to get your very favorite lists of Wikipedia articles bound in a bookshelf-friendly format. Offline versions of Wikipedia are an important part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to spread free knowledge to everyone on the planet, so we’re happy to see the options and quality of this format expand.

Jay Walsh, Head of Communications

Four videos of Wikipedia’s volunteers

Earlier this week we announced the first of four videos featuring Wikipedia’s volunteer editors, Wikipedia: Username. Today we released the fourth and final video in the series, Wikipedia: Great feeling.

All four of the videos have now been posted – both on the Wikimedia Commons and also on YouTube. The videos are all available under CC-BY-SA. For the YouTube version, consider opting into YouTube’s HTML5 beta, to support the open web. We strongly believe in the importance of open video formats for an open web, and most modern browsers can now play either the open WebM or OGV format.  The videos on Wikimedia Commons will automatically playback with an open-source HTML5 player in Firefox.

The full list of videos now available:

Wikipedia: Username (OGV|YouTube)

Wikipedia: Nice people (OGV|YouTube)

Wikipedia: Edit button (OGV|YouTube)

Wikipedia: Great feeling (OGV|YouTube)

The videos will also be available for download in HD versions on Vimeo.

Lots of people have reposted the videos on facebook (via the Wikipedia fan page), Twitter, and  Please watch and share the stories of Wikipedia editors.

We hope you’ll agree that the values, passion, energy and authenticity of Wikimedia’s volunteer community come through in full force. Wikimedia is a very special community, and we hope that we’ll be able to inspire many more to join it.

Thanks for watching, and thanks for sharing!

Jay Walsh, Communications