Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts by Matthew Roth

Wikimedia Foundation launches tenth-annual online fundraising campaign

The Wikimedia Foundation has kicked off its tenth-annual year-end fundraising campaign with donation banners visible at the top of Wikipedia.

Online fundraising brings in the resources needed to keep the Wikimedia projects freely available to everyone around the world in their own language, and guarantees that Wikipedia will never have to rely on advertising. Donations help the Wikimedia Foundation maintain server infrastructure, improve and simplify the software that runs our projects, support initiatives around the globe to increase the number of project contributors, and make Wikipedia accessible to billions of people who are just beginning to access the internet.

“People donate to Wikipedia because they find it useful, and they trust it because even though it’s not perfect, they know it’s written for them. We aim to tell the truth, and we can do that because of the millions of people who donate what they can each year,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “The average donor is paying for his or her own use of Wikipedia, plus the costs of hundreds of other people. The support of so many people keeps us independent and able to deliver the world’s knowledge for free. Exactly as it should be.”

The online fundraising campaign aims to raise $20 million, while the remainder of the Wikimedia Foundation’s funding will come from individuals gifts given outside the year-end campaign, and from foundation grants. The overwhelming majority of the Foundation’s funding comes from individual readers giving an average of $15.

Every year, as the number of Wikipedia readers and donors grows, the Wikimedia Foundation is able to shorten the duration of the end-of-year campaign. “We thank all our donors for their support,” said Megan Hernandez, Director of Online Fundraising at the Wikimedia Foundation. “We also want to thank the volunteers who help make our campaign a widely localized and internationalized effort.”

Hernandez noted that in the 2012-2013 fundraising cycle, more than 1,000 people translated the fundraising banners into more than 100 languages, which prompted donations from nearly every country on the planet. She expected similar volunteer support and localization throughout the 2013-14 cycle.

The 2013 year-end fundraising campaign builds on the success of previous years and will run through the end of this year, or until the target is met. To make a donation, click the banners at the top of Wikipedia, or go directly to donate.wikimedia.org.

Matthew Roth
Global Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Adding musical scores to Wikimedia

Sound and musical content have long trailed behind other subjects on Wikipedia, but that is beginning to change with a new musical scores extension for MediaWiki, the software running Wikipedia and thousands of other wikis. The Score extension was added to a MediaWiki deployment earlier this year and allows users to render musical scores as PNG images and transform them into audio and MIDI files.

Score utilizes the free music-engraving program LilyPond to produce musical notations and insert them into wiki code. This code is then passed on to a LilyPond renderer, which produces images that can be uploaded to Wikipedia articles. “This is somewhat similar to the way mathematical formulas are rendered in Wikipedia,” said Markus Glaser, a Wikimedian who helped develop the extension and gave a presentation on musical scores at Wikimania in 2012. Glaser said it made sense to use LilyPond because, in addition to being free and open source, “it’s text-based, can be easy, but possesses the complexities needed to fit the needs of advanced and professional notation.”

Over time, the hope is to expand on this extension and grow it into a viable resource, encouraging music teachers, music historians and the musicology community to use Score to share their knowledge.

“Studying music on the Internet is something that remains a bit confusing and fragmented. If you are after a musical performance, you can try and hunt one down on YouTube, Spotify or other similar sites,” said Chris Keating, Chair of Wikimedia UK and an amateur violinist, who explained how many of the necessary tools to analyze music still remain largely absent on the Internet. “If you’re after free sheet music, you will probably end up looking on IMSLP. And finally, if you want to read about something, say, music theory, you are likely to come to Wikipedia.”

After setup, users can embed simple LilyPond notation into wikitext using score tags.

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Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR

On October 21, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) issued a statement from Sue Gardner, our executive director, condemning the black hat practice of paid advocacy editing and sockpuppeting on Wikipedia. The statement followed widespread press coverage of an investigation undertaken by Wikipedia’s volunteer editor community into more than 300 sockpuppet accounts that were alleged to belong to a public relations firm. In Gardner’s statement, she noted that the “Wikimedia Foundation is closely monitoring this ongoing investigation and we are currently assessing all the options at our disposal.”

To assist in the assessment, the WMF retained Cooley LLP to review and investigate allegations that a company named Wiki-PR has been engaging in paid advocacy editing, in contravention of the Wikimedia Foundation’s website Terms of Use. While the WMF and Cooley were investigating this question, the Wikimedia community banned Wiki-PR and anyone receiving financial benefits from Wiki-PR from editing until certain conditions were met.

Today, Cooley LLP, on behalf of the WMF, sent the cease and desist letter below to the CEO of Wiki-PR, demanding that Wiki-PR “cease and desist from further editing the Wikipedia website unless and until [they] have fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

We will continue to closely monitor this situation and provide further updates in the coming weeks.

Matthew Roth
Spokesperson, Wikimedia Foundation

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Amical Wikimedia awarded for its contribution to the Internet in Catalan

(This is an adapted translation by Quim Gil of http://www.wikimedia.cat/2013/09/28/amical-wikimedia-rep-el-premi-stic-2013/ Article by David Parreño Mont)

Arnau Duran in Catosfera conference

The Catalan association STIC.CAT (in English: Society, Technology and Knowledge) has awarded Amical Wikimedia their special prize for contributions made to the Internet. This award was announced at the 6th edition of the Premis Blogs Catalunya, in the city of Granollers.

STIC.CAT organizes an annual competition to recognize the best blogs under various categories written in Catalan. In addition to this, they offer a special prize in recognition of the contribution done by a person or an entity to the Internet. This is the most prestigious prize for online media organized in Catalonia.

These prizes were announced during the celebration of Catosfera, the conference of the Internet sector in Catalonia. In this event, Amical Wikimedia’s president, Arnau Duran, presented on a panel with Jordi Graells, coordinator of Innovation and Content for the Catalan government, about “Wikipedia and Open Data. The democratization of knowledge: everything at everyone’s reach.”

Amical Wikimedia is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Viquipèdia, sister projects, and free knowledge online and offline. Born in 2008, Amical has worked with the objective that “the sum of all human knowledge is available in Catalan, and all the knowledge about the Catalan culture is available in any language.” On 7 June, 2013 Amical Wikimedia was finally recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation as an official thematic organization, allowing us to continue working with an official status.

In 2011 Amical was awarded with the LletrA Prize for digital projects by the Open University of Catalonia and the Prudenci Bertrana Foundation. Last year we received the Pompeu Fabra Prize in the category of Communication and new technologies.

David Parreño Mont
Communication, Amical Wikimedia
Adapted translation by Quim Gil

IBM Research donates AAAI Feigenbaum Prize for Watson to the Wikimedia Foundation

Watson’s avatar

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) has chosen IBM Research’s Watson team as the recipient of the 2013 Feigenbaum Prize. Watson is recognized as one of the most impressive results of AI research in the past several years, famously winning in the quiz show Jeopardy! against former grand champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in February 2011. Watson is now being put to work in areas such as healthcare, finance and retail.

In recognition of the role Wikipedia played in the success of Watson in the Jeopardy! Challenge, the IBM team has asked AAAI to donate the award prize of $10,000 accompanying the Feigenbaum Prize to the Wikimedia Foundation. IBM Research said they were motivated to donate the prize to recognize and support the Wikimedia Foundation’s work, especially on Wikidata, which aims to become a part of providing everyone – whether human or machine – with easier access to the sum of all knowledge.

“Watson embodies a paradigm shift in artificial intelligence by applying a novel architecture to aggregate data and information from many different sources, including the full text of Wikipedia,” said Chris Welty of IBM Research.

The text and structured content of Wikipedia was analyzed using natural language processing methods. In addition, structural elements of Wikipedia – links, infoboxes, categories – were extracted and added to the massive knowledge base that Watson drew on during the game of Jeopardy! 

We’re grateful to IBM for their kind consideration and look forward to seeing what remarkable new feats the Watson team accomplishes next.

Matthew Roth
Wikimedia Foundation Global Communications Manager

Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day: Seceda cable car

A cable car on Mount Seceda, Dolomites, Italy

Wolfgang Moroder was skiing on December 11, 2011, near his hometown in the Dolomites when he took the photo above of a Seceda cable car with a lovely view of the Alps over a blanket of golden clouds. In the photo, which was chosen as the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Day for 9 July 2013, Moroder framed the cable car in the foreground as it descended back into the shadows of the valley below.

Moroder  hails from Urtijëi, in South Tyrol, Italy, a town nestled in the Val Gardena, a region famous for mountaineering, skiing, biking and hiking. Moroder said that the cable car is part of a ski area connected to the “Dolmiti Superski,” a network of interconnected resorts with 450 ski lifts and over 1200 kilometers of runs, what he described as “the greatest skiing circuit in the world.” The cable car starts around 1300 meters and ascends to the top of Mount Seceda, at 2519 meters.

“I broke through the clouds on the tram and I thought this is gonna be the best picture of my life,” Moroder said. He said he hoped those who saw the picture could feel the same wonder and awe he did at the moment he took it, when he had a clear view of “the mountains as far as Switzerland and Austria.”

Moroder, who is 65, was born and raised in the Dolomites and feels a strong connection to the mountain range. He spent a few years in Tuscany and one year studying at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States, before returning to the mountains of northern Italy.

In his work, he is a physician specializing in prenatal care and he has raised two daughters, one who works for an online magazine and another who works as a textile designer. Though he is an avowed amateur photographer, he noted that he regularly takes pictures during prenatal ultrasounds, so in that way, he could be considered a “professional” photographer.

In Moroder’s family, photography has long been a passion. His father was involved in nature photography and maintained a darkroom in their house, where he printed his work. His grandfather was a painter who started taking pictures later in life, documenting old farmhouses in the Val Gardena. Moroder, who has been contributing photos to Wikimedia Commons since 2007, said he likes to take pictures of buildings, especially those that are historically significant, as well as artwork, landscapes and imagery related to pregnancy and medical practices. The images he takes of historical monuments are particularly important to him, given that he is the president of the local heritage museum in Urtijëi.

When asked what motivates him to donate his images to Wikimedia Commons, he said it makes him feel connected to the world around him and to an important source of free knowledge. “I feel to be part of a great global community which likes to to share visual contributions in every way for the construction of Wikipedia.”

You can see more of Moroder’s images on his user page here.

Matthew Roth

Global Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

St. Jacob church in Urtijëi, Val Gardena, with the Sassolungo (Langkofel) and the summits of the Sella towers.

Welcoming all who would participate in WikiConference Yerevan 2013

This post is available in 4 languages: Հայերեն  • На русском языке 7% Español  • English

English

It’s that time of the year again, when some of us plan our trips to conferences, and others stay put to help organize meetings and welcome others to an upcoming conference. We, the folks at the newest Wikimedia chapter, Wikimedia Armenia, curently find ourselves in the second category. And although WikiConference Yerevan 2013 is still over 3 months away, the organizers are busy putting ideas, plans and tangible things together, so that this year’s conference in Yerevan lives up to, and improves on, the success of our inagural conference last year.

A (partial) group photo after the conclusion of WikiConference Yerevan 2012

Last September WikiConference Yerevan 2012 became the first conference dedicated to wiki-projects and free knowledge creation not only in Armenia, but the neighboring region (South Caucusus). The meeting well surpassed the ambitious expectations of the ogranizers with its success. And its afterschocks are still felt in the Armenian wiki-community, which has dramatically grown since that maiden conference, as well as the development of the culture of open content and knowledge creation in the country (take the example of the recent ammendment to the Armenian copyright law granting freedom of panorama).

And now, with the recently approved and newly registered Wikimedia Armenia chapter on May 14, Wikimedians in Armenia are afire with far-reaching plans backed by the organizational power of a registered NGO. And one of the most important plans on the list is making the annual WikiConference Yerevan a staple in the life of the free knowledge movement in Armenia.

So without more ado, we invite you to include WikiConference Yerevan in your fall schedules, and take part in this exciting tradition-to-be while it’s still in its innocent infancy.

What: WikiConference Yerevan 2013

When: October 5-6, 2013

Where: Yerevan, Armenia

What to do: Be there!

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Wikimedians help translate renowned classical music lyrics to Ukranian, throw free vocal music concert in Kiev

This post is available in 4 languages: English 7% • українська 100%Español 7% • На русском языке100%

English

Wiki-Concert on 15 May 2013. O. Dondyk and A. Bondarenko on a stage. Photo by Jbuket

There is a lengthy tradition of translating the lyrics of renowned classical music to Ukrainian. Its early beginnings may be traced to the late 19th century, and subsequently throughout the 20th century: Rylsky, Lukash, Starytska-Cherniakhivska, and Borys Ten. However, because they haven’t been published, these translations continue to remain relatively unknown. It is exactly for this reason that Wikimedia Ukraine aims to popularize their Ukrainian translations through the publication of scores, through the performance of the works themselves and through the release of the audio recordings of these. A first step in this direction was the publication of Bortniansky’s opera Le Faucon (1786) within the World Classics in Ukrainian Project, with its Ukrainian translation by Strikha (1990).

The concert on May 15th encompassed a wide range of styles and genres. Most of the works (songs of Schubert, Schumann, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Puccini and Rachmaninoff) were performed in the poetic translation by Yuri Otroshenko. The concert featured several contemporary works by Oksana Yevsiukova, based on poems by Tetiana Cherep and Marina Popova, and a work by Andriy Bondarenko, based on lyrics by L. Carroll (translated by V. Korniyenko).

The soloists were “People’s Artists of Ukraine” Mykola Koval and Stepan Fitsych, “Honored Artists of Ukraine” Natalia Krechko, Oksana Dondyk and Oksana Yevsiukova. Andriy Bondarenko (piano), Andriy Diomin (clarinet) and Vasyl Babych (cello) were accompanists. There was much applause from the audience, and after the final “Drinking Song” from Verdi’s opera “La Traviata,” audience enthusiasm prompted the performers to repeat the song as an encore.

One of the concert’s organizers, Andriy Bondarenko, a member of Wikimedia Ukraine and the Ukrainian Composer’s Union, said that the concert was unique. “After the Kiev Opera House rejected the Ukrainian translations in the early years of independence, there was virtually no performance of classical music in our native language. Exceptions have been rare: the only opera you could hear in Ukrainian in the National Opera theatre is Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.”

In 1994, Ukrainian singer Anna Kolesnyk performed songs in the Ivan Franco theater, Kiev. Meanwhile, the results of the concert were fascinating – not only because the singers performed well, but because the audience was able to understand what they were singing about!”

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Indian WikiWomen celebrate Women’s History Month

(This is a guest post by Ms. Netha Hussein, a Wikipedia contributor from India who regularly contributes to Malayalam Wikipedia, among other projects.)

March 2013 was a busy month for women Wikimedians in India, as we conducted various events, such as edit-a-thons and workshops to celebrate the presence of women in Wikimedia projects. The women Wikimedians, members of the Wikimedia India Chapter and the Access to Knowledge Team, brainstormed about the possible events, which we wanted to conduct to encourage women to participate and to increase the quality of articles related to Indian women in Wikipedias in English and the Indian languages. We decided to conduct the workshops and meetups in various Indian cities, in addition to online edit-a-thons.

Women participants of the Wikipedia Workshop, Bangalore

Women participants of the Wikipedia Workshop, Bangalore

We created a co-ordination page on English Wikipedia and added suggestions for articles to edit. We invited participants to join the edit-a-thon by spreading the word on mailing lists, social media networks and blogs. The Times of India published a feature about the event, which attracted many newbies to participate in it. We also created separate pages for offline events taking place in parallel, and we added a summary of the events to the main page. The participants of the edit-a-thon signed up on the co-ordination page, where we also added the details and status of Women’s History Month events happening in various Indian language Wikipedias.

The inaugural event took place on International Women’s Day (March 8) at Nirmala Institute of Education, Goa. Out of 100 participants who attended the event, 90 were female. Veteran Wikimedians Rohini and Nitika conducted a basic Wikipedia editing workshop. The event also set off the two-day long online edit-a-thon in which fourteen editors participated. Among those who participated in the program were homemakers, students and professionals. Rohini took charge as the Chairperson of the special interest group (SIG) for Gendergap at the Wikimedia Chapter India on the day of the workshop (March 8). She plans to conduct more workshops for women in the future.

Organizers subsequently held a series of events at two venues in Bengaluru and one in Ernakulam. Experienced Wikimedians Pavithra and Nikita Belavate led the workshops in Bengaluru. The workshop also served as an occasion for editors living in and around Bengaluru to meet. The Ernakulam event was aimed at increasing the participation of women in Malayalam Wikipedia and was led by Wikimedian Ditty Mathew. Around 40 women participated in the three edit-a-thons. A Wikipedia Academy with 9 participants was conducted in Hyderabad. Led by Anupama Srinivas, the last of all events took place on 30 March, 2012, in Chennai.

Nikita, who led the Bangalore event, said she was filled with happiness watching the exuberance in the eyes of women participants who edited and saved their edits live on Wikipedia. “This year’s Women’s History month makes me once again believe in the power of women and honing it by empowering them, Wikiwomenising them,” said Nikita.

Participants of the Bangalore workshop organized by FSMK

Participants of the Bangalore workshop organized by FSMK

Vishnu Vardhan, the Program Director of the Access to Knowledge team, was with the WikiWomen throughout the editathon, connecting people, planning events and urging them to contribute. He encouraged his mother, wife and female cousins to contribute to Wikipedia.

“I wish more of us took the initiative of involving the women in our life to share their knowledge on Wikipedia and truly make the Wikipedias the sum of all human knowledge,” he said. Harriet, one of the key organizers of the women’s day events, believes that the Indian Wikimedia community has gained momentum in favor of bridging the gender gap because of this event. She urged the Indian community to follow this success and to increase the participation of women in the Wikimedia movement. Though she could not attend the events in person, she ensured her participation in the edit-a-thon by arranging the logistics, monitoring the coordination page and suggesting changes.

The events had good participation from men as well. Among the 14 participants who signed up on English Wikipedia, 5 were men. In Malayalam Wikipedia, 18 out of the 26 participants who signed up for the online edit-a-thon were men. Dileep Unnikrishan, a male participant of the edit-a-thon, and a fan of Wikipedia, participated in the Ernakulam event because he was curious to find out how Wikipedia works. With women participants, he edited three articles and found it exciting to “be a part of the movement that has brought about a knowledge revolution in the world. The best thing I noticed about Wiki is that it has a peer-to-peer way of organization, which makes it warm and welcoming to newbies like me,” said Dileep.

The Indian WikiWomen are planning to conduct similar events in the future to increase the participation of women in Wikipedia and its sister projects. We are hopeful we will bridge the gender gap in the Indian Wikimedia community by conducting outreach programs, increasing awareness about free knowledge programs among women and conducting action-oriented events targeting women.

Netha Hussain

Catalan Wikipedia hits the 400,000 articles milestone during 35-hour edit-a-thon

This post is available in 2 languages: català  • English

English

The GLAM movement in Catalonia has been very active the past few years. Edit-a-thons and workshops have taken place in all kinds of institutions, but the one that was held this April in Fundació Miró in Barcelona (Catalonia), co-organized by Amical Viquipèdia, was really special: the edit-a-thon lasted for 35 consecutive hours, split in three session. Moreover, during the first hours of the edit-a-thon, Catalan Wikipedia reached 400.000 articles – a magical coincidence that made the event even more special.

35 consecutive hours editing Wikipedia? It IS possible!

Fundació Miró’s Espai 13 is celebrating the 35th anniversary since its creation. Fundació Miró had already collaborated with Wikipedia back in 2011, when they hosted an edit-a-thon about the Catalan artist Joan Miró. But this time Amical Viquipèdia and Fundació Miró agreed to make a huge celebration to commemorate the event: 35 consecutive hours editing Wikipedia.

First session of the Miró Editathon

First session of the Miró Editathon

During that time, around fifty Art and Philosophy university students from all over the country, and around fifteen volunteer Wikipedians, gathered in the workplace to start or expand articles on 300 artists who have exhibited at Espai 13, Fundació Miró’s space dedicated to promoting young artists’ work.

To start the event, we held a press conference at 12am on Friday, April 12th, 2013. The first shift of participants was already prepared to start working on the 300 proposed articles about the Espai 13 artists – and some of those artists were present at the event too, so the students were able to take freely licensed pictures of them and post them to Wikimedia Commons. The 26 Art and Philosphy students who participated in the first turn, plus the 5 volunteer Wikipedians who were there to help them, stayed until 10pm – that is, 10 hours. The second turn comprised a similar number of participants. They worked admirably during the whole night without rest until 10am next day, when the third shift took over and stayed until the end of the edit-a-thon eleven hours later, finishing at 9pm on April 13th, 2013.

The students and the volunteer Wikipedians didn’t just write on Wikipedia – there were parallel activities scheduled in order to get out, relax the mind and get ready for more work on articles. In addition to lunch and dinner at the magnificient gardens of the museum, those activities included a guided visit to the museum at midnight, conferences by Wikipedians, a couple of performances from two of the artists that were being written about, and two yoga sessions –one of them being held at 6am in the morning at Fundació Miró’s balcony, when Barcelona was waking up and the sight was breathtaking.

Catalan Wikipedia reaches 400.000 articles

Nonetheless, the edit-a-thon at Fundació Miró was not the only celebration of the day. As luck would have it, the 400,000th article in Catalan Wikipedia was written during the event. Catalan language is the 75th most spoken language in the world with 11,5 millions speakers, yet Catalan Wikipedia occupies the 15th place by number of articles. Catalan-speaking territories are situated in Spain, France, and Italy, whose languages make a strong influence to its speakers, specially Spanish – most of Catalan speakers are bilingual, knowing Spanish as well.

At 5.23pm, in the middle of a conference about “Open knowledge and the cultural institutions,” a participant announced the good news and we opened champagne bottles in the presence of Barcelona TV, who covered the news live. Catalan National TV also joined the event at midnight and the next day broadcasted a two-minute video about the the event being the longest edit-a-thon ever and the 400.000 articles milestone.

Arnau Duran (User:Arnaugir), member of Amical Viquipèdia
Note: for more information about the edit-a-thon see this page (in Catalan).

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