Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


Coding da Vinci: Results of the first German Culture Hackathon

Mnemosyne, goddess of memory

From the Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, © public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The weather was almost as hot as it was in Hong Kong one year ago. But whereas on that occasion a time machine had to catapult the audience ten years into the future, at the event held on Sunday, July 6 at the Jewish Museum Berlin, the future had already arrived.

It was not only virtual results that were presented at the award ceremony for the culture hackathon Coding da Vinci in Berlin. Image from Marius Förster © cc-by-sa 3.0

At the final event of the programming competition Coding da Vinci, seventeen projects were presented to both a critical jury and the public audience in a packed room. Five winners emerged, three of whom used datasets from Wikimedia projects. This result signals that the predictions put forward by Dirk Franke in Hong Kong have already become a reality: that in the future more and more apps will use the content of Wikimedia projects and that the undiscerning online user will barely notice where the data actually comes from. There is a clear trend towards providing information in a multimedia-based and entertaining way. That’s the meta level, but the source of the knowledge is still clear: Wikipedia.

The aims of Coding da Vinci

The new project format used by Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) for the first time this year ended successfully. Coding da Vinci is a culture hackathon organized by WMDE in strategic partnership with the German Digital Library, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany and the Service Center Digitization Berlin. Unlike a standard hackathon, the programmers, designers and developers were given ten weeks to turn their ideas into finished apps. Most of the 16 participating cultural institutions had made their digital cultural assets publicly available and reusable under a free license especially for the programming competition. With the public award ceremony on July 6 at the Jewish Museum, we wanted to show not just these cultural institutions but also what “hackers” can do with their cultural data. We hope that this will persuade more cultural institutions to freely license their digitized collections. Already this year, 20 cultural data sets have been made available for use in Wikimedia projects.

Exciting til the very end

It was an exciting event for us four organizers, as we waited with baited breath to see what the community of programmers and developers would produce at the end. Of course, not all the projects were winners. One of the projects that did not emerge as a winner, but that I would nevertheless like to give a special mention, was Mnemosyne – an ambitious website that took the goddess of memory as its patron. We are surely all familiar with those wonderful moments of clarity as we link-hop our way through various Wikipedia pages, so who would say no to being guided through the expanse of associative thought by a polymath as they stroll through a museum?

The polymath as a way of life died out in the end of the 19th century, according to Wikipedia – a fact that the Mnemosyne project seeks to address by using a combination of random algorithms to make finding and leafing through complex archive collections a simpler and more pleasurable activity. In spite of some minor blips during the on-stage presentation, the potential of the cast concrete Mnemosyne was plain to see. Hopefully work will continue on this project and the developers will find a museum association that wants to use Mnemosyne to make their complex collections available for visitors to browse.

The five winners

After two hours of presentations and a one-hour lunch break, the winners were selected in the five categories and were awarded their prizes by the jury.

Out of Competition: The zzZwitscherwecker (chirping alarm clock) really impressed both the audience and the jury. It’s a great solution for anyone who finds it difficult to be an early bird in the morning. That’s because you can only stop the alarm if you’re able to correctly match a bird to its birdsong. You’re sure to be wide awake after such a lively brain game.


Digging for Data: How to Research Beyond Wikimetrics

The next virtual meet-up will point out research tools. Join!!

For Learning & Evaluation, Wikimetrics is a powerful tool for pulling data for wiki project user cohorts, such as edit counts, pages created and bytes added or removed. However, you may still have a variety of other questions, for instance:

How many members of WikiProject Medicine have edited a medicine-related article in the past three months?
How many new editors have played The Wikipedia Adventure?
What are the most-viewed and most-edited articles about Women Scientists?

Questions like these and many others regarding the content of Wikimedia projects and the activities of editors and readers can be answered using tools developed by Wikimedians all over the world. These gadgets, based on publicly available data, rely on databases and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). They are maintained by volunteers and staff within our movement.

On July 16, Jonathan Morgan, research strategist for the Learning and Evaluation team and wiki-research veteran, will begin a three-part series to explore some of the different routes to accessing Wikimedia data. Building off several recent workshops including the Wiki Research Hackathon and a series of Community Data Science Workshops developed at the University of Washington, in Beyond Wikimetrics, Jonathan will guide participants on how to expand their wiki-research capabilities by accessing data directly through these tools.


Hacker osmosis: Ideas abound at the European Hackathon in Zurich

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  •  ‎русский

In English

Group photo of the attendees at the 2014 Wikimedia Hackathon in Zurich (Lila Tretikov can be seen in the middle of the front row, in pink)

After an exciting first encounter with the San Francisco-based WMF staff at the May Metrics Meeting where I was introduced as the incoming ED, I had the opportunity this past weekend to meet even more dedicated staff and community members, and learn a little more about what the WMF life is like for our nearly 30% of WMF product and engineering staff that work remotely. On Saturday and Sunday, the 10th and 11th, I was in Zurich at the annual European Wikimedia hackathon, organized by Wikimedia CH, the Swiss chapter and our very capable hosts.

It was an amazing experience. As I was flying back I kept thinking about how much energy and motivation I took away from meeting everyone: the talent, technical ability, and drive to make this world a better place. The international nature of the community was really on display, too: people came from 30 different countries, meeting face to face after long stretches of only communicating online.

At the same time, I was invigorated by the challenging and unexpected: just a few hours after my arrival, I was peppered by tough, candid questions and feedback about what mattered the most to the more than 150 people in attendance from the WMF and community. I am really glad I had the chance to take that on — it was a direct and unfiltered way to learn about the way people understand the opportunities we face: reimagining our products, improving our community health, innovating in technology.

I was truly impressed by the technical chops I saw on display, and the ability of the gathered developers, engineers, sysadmins, and geeks to jump-start and run with projects. Some of the projects underway were the very embodiment of the Wikimedia movement: expanding the way we capture, structure, and share knowledge, and how we recognize and encourage contributions and participation in all projects. I was particularly excited about some of the innovations that focused on serving a universal audience, regardless of the user’s language or location, to ensure that they benefit every Wikimedia user in the world.

Thank you so much to Wikimedia CH (Manuel Schneider, Muriel Staub, Charles Andres, and Ilario Valdelli), and everyone else who helped put together such a great event! Everything was wonderfully organized, allowing us to really focus on playing with ideas. I can’t wait to come back across the Atlantic in a few months’ time for Wikimania in London, and the chance to meet so many more of you.

Even with such a deep dive this past week, I know that there is so much more to learn, and so much of our global community to hear from. My trip to Zurich was just the first step — so I’m excited to announce that next Wednesday, May 21st, I’ll be holding IRC office hours from 4:30 – 5:30pm Pacific Time (23:30 – 0:30 UTC) in the #wikimedia-office channel on freenode. Please see here for details on how to join! (Of course, you can also always reach me on my talk page on Meta.)

Lila Tretikov

Incoming Executive Director


In Russian

Среди хакеров: Изобилие идей на Европейском дне хакера (European Hackathon) в Цюрихе

Групповое фото участников Дня хакера Викимедиа (2014 Wikimedia Hackathon) в Цюрихе (Лялю Третьякову можно увидеть в центре переднего ряда, в розовом).

Вслед за первым захватывающим знакомством с сотрудниками Викимедиа в Сан-Франциско, случившемся на майской встрече по вопросам показателей деятельности, где я была представлена как новый исполнительный директор, в конце прошлой недели у меня появилась возможность познакомиться с другими преданными своему делу сотрудниками и участниками сообщества и узнать ещё немного о жизни той значительной (около 30%) части сотрудников Фонда Викимедиа, занятых продуктами и инженерно-техническими вопросами и работающих удалённо. (more…)

Tech wizards behind Wikipedia meet in Zürich for hackathon

The Zürich hackathon is an opportunity for developers to collaborate more closely, and also to socialize with comrades whom they otherwise mostly interact with online.

More than 150 developers, engineers, sysadmins, and technology enthusiasts have gathered in Zürich this week-end for the annual European Wikimedia hackathon, organized by Wikimedia CH, the local Wikimedia chapter.

Coming from more than 30 countries, their goal is to fix software bugs, share knowledge about new and existing technologies, add new features, and generally to improve the technical infrastructure and tools on which Wikipedia and its sister sites rely.

The Wikimedia technical community is largely disseminated across the globe; Events like the Zürich hackathon are opportunities for developers to collaborate more closely, and also to socialize with comrades whom they otherwise mostly interact with online.

One of the main topics of interest during this event is MediaWiki-Vagrant, a portable MediaWiki development environment that makes it easy to learn about, modify, and improve MediaWiki’s code. In Zürich, developers are teaching each other how to use this tool, as well as automating it further.

Participants are discussing and coding on a variety of topics ranging from maps to development environments, to Wikidata, and many more.

Another topic of interest is Flow, the new discussion system poised to replace the antiquated “talk pages” where editors discuss how to improve Wikipedia articles and other pages. Flow brings a more modern and user-friendly experience, as well as many features that users have now come to expect of online discussion tools.

Maps are also attracting a lot of participants, who want to join forces and combine efforts to offer a unified user experience across various tools that display maps. Examples include maps embedded in Wikipedia articles, Wikivoyage travel guides, and mobile apps that combine maps with text to show location-aware content.

These are just a few of the pieces of technology that participants are excitedly discussing and coding on, along with Wikidata, improvements to the development toolchain, VisualEditor, automated code testing, and many more.

The hackathon is now in its second day and will continue until tomorrow. You can follow some of the sessions remotely by watching them live or recorded. You can also interact with participants on the #wmhack channel on Freenode IRC, or on Twitter using the #wmhack hashtag.

Guillaume Paumier, Technical communications manager

A word on Facebook’s Open Academy Hackathon

Students working hard on Open Source projects at the Facebook headquarters during the Open Academy hackaton event.

More than 250 students, faculty and mentors met on February 6—9 for the launch event of the Facebook Open Academy program, allowing students from 25 participating universities worldwide to gain academic credit for participating in Open Source development as part of their computer science curricula. The event organized by Facebook at their Palo Alto headquarters allowed the student teams to meet their mentors from the Open Source development groups and sit down for two-and-a-half days of intensive coding and socialization, providing the students with an immersive introduction to the world of distributed development.

I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in that program as a mentor on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation (alongside colleagues and volunteers leading five Wikimedia-related projects). I returned impressed and invigorated by the energy and dedication of the students. The program is often the first taste of “real world” interaction with a development team that those students will get, and I am glad to note that the experience seemed to be an universally positive one.

For most students, the launch event is just the beginning: their work with the teams they have joined will continue throughout their academic session, and the benefits will last even longer as they make contacts in the Open Source world and gain invaluable experience with the sometimes daunting process of contributing to small and large development efforts.

Events like this are a great way to stimulate the Open Source ecosystem. We look forward to joining Facebook again in their future editions of the Open Academy program.

— Marc-André Pelletier, Operations Enginneer, Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimedia Israel Winter Hackathon 2013

Wikimedia Israel Winter Hackathon TLV – 2013

Over sixty volunteer programmers gathered in “Campus Tel Aviv” on December 26 to learn the software behind Wikipedia, fixing its bugs and making nifty tools with it. This was the second event of its kind organized by the Wikimedia Israel chapter, following the success of the first Israeli Hackathon last May. The event was Lead by Wikimedia Israel’s volunteers Oren Bochman and Amir Aharoni.

The people who came were programmers with experience in different software fields: performance tweakers, web server and frontend programmers, mobile developers, semantic web gurus and others fields who wanted to learn something new.

One surprise was the range of ages. A very young group of young robotics hackers from the GreenBlitz group from Hakfar Hayarok youth village who came, all dressed in matching t-shirts. At the end of the day they demoed their work: a gadget that analyzes a photograph and shows the Wikipedia article about the place where it was taken.

Several other teams showed similar projects that used Wikipedia’s API for coordinates and map. Such projects included a Google maps layer that shows locations without a photo in Wikipedia, a gadget that shows Wikipedia articles in an area ranked by popularity and others.


Volunteers and staffers teach, learn, create at Amsterdam hackathon

149 participants from 31 countries came to Amsterdam in late May to teach each other and improve Wikimedia technology.

developers near the sticky-note wall

Developers work near sticky-notes representing topics and ideas at the Amsterdam hackathon in May 2013.

Technologists taught and attended sessions on how to write and run a bot, use the new Lua templating language, how to move from Toolserver to the new Wikimedia Labs, design, Wikidata, security, and the basics of Git and Gerrit. Check out the workshops page for slides, tutorials, and other reference material; videorecordings of sessions are due for uploading to Wikimedia Commons soon.

Wikimedia Netherlands, Wikimedia Germany, and the Wikimedia Foundation subsidized travel and accommodation for dozens of participants, enabling the highest participation in this event’s history. As one subsidized participant wrote, “One of the wonderful things about the Wikipedia world is the support given to the volunteers from the different chapters and the parent Wikimedia Foundation to promote community growth and building awesome stuff that the whole world can use….It’s such surprises that makes one love contributing to open source.” Organizers also put together a social events program that included a boat cruise of Amsterdam’s canals.

Participants are still listing what they accomplished or learned during the event, but here’s a sample:

  • The Wikimaps project aims to present historical maps on Wikimedia sites, and to work together with OpenStreetMap Historic “to find a common way to model historical geodata” (more details). Maps aficionados discussed the project and made plans in Amsterdam. One volunteer, Arun Ganesh, wrote a prototype wiki atlas: an interactive SVG file that comes with automatic labelling (details).
  • Moritz Schubotz, a volunteer, worked on improving search and math functionality in MediaWiki.
  • The Foundation testing and quality assurance team improved test coverage and the test environment, and taught other participants how to do QA for Wikimedia.
  • Pau Giner, a designer at the Foundation, wrote code to use an SVG for the collapsible section arrow in MediaWiki’s Vector skin. This will make the image less fuzzy-looking.
  • two technologists at Amsterdam hackathon

    A WMF staffer holds a microphone to amplify a volunteer’s voice during the closing demo session at the Amsterdam hackathon.

    User:Ruud Koot wrote a Wikivoyage listing editor that will make it easier to improve the specific parts of a travel suggestion without having to load the whole page.

  • Several volunteers worked on the account creation tool and process for English Wikipedia, to help the ACC team deal with prospective editors who have not been able to create an account via the web interface. The improved tool (code) streamlines the workflow, helping volunteers do their work faster.
  • A group of staffers and volunteers interested in statistical data improved the User Metrics API‘s reliability and security. Another wrote a proof-of-concept MediaWiki extension enabling editors to embed Limn graphs in wiki pages via wikitext.

So far, 90 participants have submitted the post-event survey and results are largely positive, with (of course) several suggestions for improvements in the future. For instance, next year, organizers should help trainers prepare more, and help participants with common interests find and work with each other more easily.  We don’t yet know where or when next year’s developer meeting will be, but it’ll happen; subscribe to the low-traffic wikitech-announce mailing list to hear when it’s settled.

You may also wish to read the Wikipedia Signpost report on the event.

Thanks are due to staffers at the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Netherlands, and Wikimedia Germany who made the event possible, and to volunteers who ran the event, especially lead Maarten Dammers.  And thanks to all the participants who gave up their weekend to make our sites better.

Sumana Harihareswara
Engineering Community Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Language Engineering Development Updates and Events

In the recently concluded development sprint, the Wikimedia Language Engineering team fixed critical bugs for the Universal Language Selector, participated in several events around the world and also announced the release of the latest version of the MediaWiki Language Extension Bundle.

MediaWiki Language Extension Bundle and Updates to ULS

As the date for the first phase of deployment of Universal Language Selector (ULS) draws close, the team has been fixing critical bugs and testing the fixes. These included bugs related to the behavior of the ULS activation ‘cog’ icon. Significant design changes were also made on the input settings panel. Additionally, ULS has been hidden for users who do not use JavaScript on their browsers.

These updates are also part of the latest version of MediaWiki Language Extension Bundle (MLEB). Besides ULS, miscellaneous maintenance bugs were fixed for the Translate extension editor. This further improves the stability of the Translation Editor – TUX. CLDR has been updated to version 23.1.

Amsterdam and Tel-Aviv Hackathons and Community Programs

Members of the Language Engineering team participated and also helped in organizing hackathons at Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. At the hackathon in Amsterdam, organized by Wikimedia Nederland, team members interacted with their peers. Besides attending the workshops, they also submitted and merged patches for various internationalization extensions. A session for automated browser testing with the Wikimedia QA team was particularly well-received in view of the upcoming ULS deployment.

At the hackathon organized by Wikimedia Israel, Amir Aharoni led the event and brought together more than thirty local participants to explore various aspects of contributing to MediaWiki projects. The full report of the accomplishments from the event has been documented by him.

Alolita Sharma presented a talk about Internationalization in Wikimedia projects at IMUG. The entire video of the talk and presentation slides are available online.

Google Summer of Code

The Language Engineering team also welcomed the 4 students who will be participating in Wikimedia’s Internationalization projects for this year’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC). They will be contributing to the jQuery.ime project, Language Coverage dashboard, mobile app for Translate and right-to-left support on VisualEditor.

Coming up

Preparations for deployment of ULS and extending support to the GSoC candidates during the community bonding period are important focus areas during the next 2 weeks.

For information about the Language Engineering team and our projects, please write me at runa at wikimedia dot org or find team members on our IRC channel #mediawiki-i18n on Freenode.

Runa Bhattacharjee, Outreach and QA coordinator, Language Engineering

First Wikimedia hackathon in Tel Aviv, Israel

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עברית 7%English 100%


On Thursday, 23 May, just one day before the big Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam, Wikimedia Israel held its first hackathon in Tel-Aviv.

Hackathon TLV 2013 - (31).jpg

Israel has a thriving software industry, as well as a healthy Wikipedia editing community. Despite this, there are relatively few software developers in Israel who work on Wikimedia-related projects, so the primary purpose of this event was to show new people who are skilled in programming and web design how they can contribute their talents to our free knowledge projects.

Wikimedia Israel already organized a hackathon as part of the Wikimania 2011 conference, which was held in Haifa, but this was the first time that such an event was produced in Israel independently of other events.

Google Israel kindly gave us the venue – the hacking space in their Tel-Aviv Campus building, which is perfect for such events: cozy, simple, with comfortable tables, a lot of power strips and good wifi. About thirty people showed up for the event. Their skills were varied and quite surprising. There were not just PHP and JavaScript developers – these languages being the most important in MediaWiki – but also experts in DevOps, integration testing, Python scripting, data visualizations and design.

Hackathon TLV 2013 - (64).jpg

In the best hackathon style, the event focused less on talks and more on code, but I was very happy to host one guest talk by Mushon Zer-Aviv, a developer of the freely licensed Alef font, designed as a modern Hebrew and Latin typeface for the web.

So, most importantly, what did the event accomplish? Among other things: fixes for two MediaWiki bugs, both made by new developers; improved automatic tests for JavaScript components; a prototype for a script that enriches Wikipedia with data from Open Knesset, a database of information about the Israeli parliament based on open-source technology; and a new template in Lua, also made by a developer who is completely new to the language. I had the feeling that most of the participants became genuinely interested in joining the community of MediaWiki developers.

I want to use this opportunity to give my very sincere thanks to the people who helped me organize the event: Chen Davidi, Itzik Edri and Dorit Shafir-Diamant, who were instrumental in organizing the event’s logistics; Michal from Google Israel for providing the venue; and also to Yair Talmor, Chezi Reshef, Yael Meron, Elad Alfassa, Oren Held, Moshe Nachmias and Yair Podemasky, who very kindly volunteered to help with setting up the venue, handled the registration and cleaned up at the end of the day.

The event was very satisfying, and we hope to have another one soon!

Amir E. Aharoni, Wikimedia Israel

Join the Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam on May 24–26, 2013

This post is available in 3 languages: English NederlandsDeutsch

This post was originally published in German on Wikimedia Deutschland’s blog by Nicole Ebber; it was translated by Denise Jansen.


Wikimedia_Hackathon_-_Amsterdam_2013.svgWikimedia Nederland is going to be host to Wikimedia Hackathon Amsterdam, the international Wikimedia developers conference, on May 24–26, 2013. The Netherlands Chapter invites MediaWiki developers, coders, hackers and other technically-inclined Wikimedians to spend a week-end in Amsterdam.* The event is open to everyone who is involved in areas such as tools, gadgets, bots, bugs, extensions or templates — regardless of how long they have been active.

Proposals for workshops, presentations and sessions are currently being gathered on the event page.

Focal points will be, among others:

With more than 40 staff members of the Wikimedia Foundation taking part, as well Wikimedia Deutschland staff involved in Wikidata, RENDER and the Toolserver, the Amsterdam Hackathon will provide a great opportunity for exchange and cooperation among organisations and communities.

If you are interested in the Toolserver, or its future alternative Tool Labs, you will get the chance in Amsterdam to meet the entire team that is currently involved in the development of Tool Labs and the imminent migration.

This team will offer a Tool Labs introduction workshop and will be ‘approachable’ in the Hacking area. If you want to try out Tool Labs in Amsterdam, it’ll help if you set up an account beforehand.

Registration for the Amsterdam Hackathon is open until April 20; participation is free. As in previous years, there is a scholarship programme for participants who need support to cover the costs of travel and stay. This scholarship programme is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland.

* In previous years the Hackathon was hosted by Wikimedia Deutschland. Wikimedia Nederland is thrilled to be able to host the event this year and is cooperating with Wikimedia Deutschland in the preparations. (more…)