Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Highlights

Major news and information from the Wikimedia Foundation (RSS feed).

Expanding local history with The Wikipedia Library

Find out more about The Wikipedia Library!

If you are an editor on the English Wikipedia, you might have noticed the recent uptick in announcements for accounts offered by The Wikipedia Library! The Wikipedia Library gives active, experienced Wikipedia editors free access to a wide range of paywalled databases – reliable sources that are vital for their work (see also: “The Wikipedia Library Strives for Open Access“). We have been having a lot of success meeting the goals of our Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. Established partnerships, like that with JSTOR, are expanding, getting Wikipedia editors more access to high quality research materials! Moreover, because of those successes, we are having many fruitful discussions with organizations large and small that are interested in helping Wikipedians create public knowledge and link Wikipedia in to the larger network of scholarly source materials.

We surveyed Wikipedia users interested in the Wikipedia Library about which sources would be best for us to get access to, and one from that list, British Newspaper Archive, has been a very active recent success. It started with 50 accounts and has since expanded to 100 because of the enthusiasm in the initial sign-up period. An archive of high-quality scans of newspapers from the collection of the British Library, it provides a great source of reference materials for Wikipedia articles about 18th, 19th, and early 20th century Britain and its global interests. Even though the accounts have only been available for a couple of weeks, Wikipedians have been successfully using them to create new and expand old articles about historical topics, both about local history and topics of national British interest. These range from articles about geographical features (Swithland Reservoir) to sports (1884 FA Cup Final and Jack Kid Berg), coal mines (Pendleton Colliery) to politicians (Sewallis Shirley).

User:Sitush’s experience

As part of our partnership with the British Newspaper Archive, they have offered us an opportunity to talk about improving Wikipedia on their blog, highlighting the success of the account donation. More importantly though, it enables us to communicate to their social media audience – researchers investigating historical topics through old newspapers – how Wikipedians motivated by similar interests are able to use that research to provide knowledge to our vast audience. Here is what one of our Wikipedia editors who got access through this partnership, User:Sitush, shared on their blog about his new account:

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Wiki Loves Pride 2014 and Adding Diversity to Wikipedia

Logo for the proposed user group Wikimedia LGBT

Since Wikipedia’s gender gap first came to light in late 2010, Wikipedians have taken the issue to heart, developing projects with a focus on inclusivity in content, editorship and the learning environments relevant to new editors. 

Wiki Loves Pride started from conversations among Wikipedians editing LGBT topics in a variety of fields, including history, popular culture, politics and medicine, and supporters of Wikimedia LGBT - a proposed user group which promotes the development of LGBT-related content on Wikimedia projects in all languages and encourages LGBT organizations to adopt the values of free culture and open access. The group has slowly been building momentum for the past few years, but had not yet executed a major outreach initiative. Wiki Loves Pride helped kickstart the group’s efforts to gather international supporters and expand its language coverage.

Pride Edit-a-Thons and Photo Campaigns Held Internationally

We decided to run a campaign in June (LGBT Pride Month in the United States), culminating with a multi-city edit-a-thon on June 21. We first committed to hosting events in New York City and Portland, Oregon (our cities of residence), hoping others would follow. We also gave individuals the option to contribute remotely, either by improving articles online or by uploading images related to LGBT culture and history. This was of particular importance for users who live in regions of the world less tolerant of LGBT communities, or where it may be dangerous to organize LGBT meetups.

San Francisco Pride (2014)

In addition to New York City and Portland, offline events were held in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., with online activities in Houston, Seattle, Seoul, South Africa, Vancouver, Vienna and Warsaw. Events will be held in Bangalore and New Delhi later this month as part of the Centre for Internet and Society’s (CIS) Access to Knowledge (A2K) program. Other Wikimedia chapters have expressed interest in hosting LGBT edit-a-thons in the future.

Campaign Results

The campaign’s “Results” page lists 90 LGBT-related articles which were created on English Wikipedia and links to more than 750 images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Also listed are new categories, templates and article drafts, along with “Did you know” (DYK) hooks that appeared on the Main Page and policy proposals which may be of interest to the global LGBT community.

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.

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Wikimedia Foundation offers assistance to Wikipedia editors named in U.S. defamation suit

Since posting, we have learned that Mr. Barry’s attorney has requested to withdraw their complaint without prejudice and their request has been granted by the court. Mr. Barry’s attorney has further indicated that Mr. Barry intends to file an amended complaint some unspecified time in the future.

Wikipedia’s content is not the work of one, ten, or even a thousand people. The information on Wikipedia is the combined product of contributions made by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. By volunteering their time and knowledge, these people have helped build Wikipedia into a project that provides information to millions every day.

With many different voices come many different perspectives. Resolving them requires open editorial debate and collaboration with and among the volunteer community of editors and writers. Disagreements about content are settled through this approach on a daily basis. On extremely rare occasions, editorial disputes escalate to litigation.

This past month, four users of English Wikipedia were targeted in a defamation lawsuit brought by Canadian-born musician, businessman, and philanthropist Yank Barry. In the complaint, Mr. Barry claims that the editors, along with 50 unnamed users, have acted in conspiracy to harm his reputation by posting false and damaging statements onto Wikipedia concerning many facets of his life, including his business, philanthropy, music career, and legal history.

However, the specific statements Mr. Barry apparently finds objectionable are on the article’s talk page, rather than in the article itself. The editors included in the lawsuit were named because of their involvement in discussions focused on maintaining the quality of the article, specifically addressing whether certain contentious material was well-sourced enough to be included, and whether inclusion of the material would conform with Wikipedia’s policies on biographies of living persons.

A talk page is not an article. It is not immediately available to the readers of the encyclopedia. Its purpose is not to provide information, but a forum for discussion and editorial review. If users are unable to discuss improvements to an article without fear of legal action, they will be discouraged from partaking in discussion at all. While some individuals may find questions about their past disagreeable and even uncomfortable, discussions about these topics are necessary for establishing accurate and up-to-date information. Without discussion, articles will not improve.

In our opinion, this lawsuit is an effort to try and chill free speech on the Wikimedia projects. Since Wikipedia editors do not carve out facts based on bias or promotion this lawsuit is rooted in a deep misinterpretation of the free-form truth-seeking conversations and analysis that is part of the editorial review process that establishes validity and accuracy of historical and biographical information. As such, we have offered the four named users assistance through our Defense of Contributors policy. Three of the users have accepted our offer and obtained representation through the Cooley law firm. We thank Cooley for its assistance in the vigorous representation of our users. The fourth user is being represented by the California Anti-SLAPP Project and is working closely with the Wikimedia Foundation and Cooley.

Lawsuits against Wikipedia editors are extremely rare — we do not know of of any prior cases where a user has been sued for commenting on a talk page. The Wikipedia community has established a number of dispute resolution procedures and venues to discuss content issues that are available for anyone to use. Most content disputes are resolved through these processes. We are unaware of Mr. Barry taking advantage of these processes to work directly with the editors involved in this lawsuit or the greater Wikipedia community to address these issues.

Wikipedia’s mission is to provide the world with the sum of all human information for free and we will always strongly defend its volunteer editors and their right to free speech.

Michelle Paulson, Legal Counsel

Creating Safe Spaces

This morning I read an article entitled Ride like a girl. In it, the author describes how being a cyclist in a city is like being a woman: Welcome to being vulnerable to the people around you. Welcome to being the exception, not the rule. Welcome to not being in charge. The analogy may not be a perfect fit, but reading these words made me think of a tweet I favorited several weeks ago when #YesAllWomen was trending. A user who goes by the handle @Saradujour wrote: “If you don’t understand why safe spaces are important, the world is probably one big safe space to you.” As I continue interviewing women who edit Wikipedia and as I read through the latest threads on the Gendergap mailing list, I keep asking myself, “How can a community that values transparency create safe spaces? How can we talk about Wikipedia’s gender gap without alienating dissenting voices and potential allies?”

Ride like a girl?

Wikipedia’s gender gap has been widely publicized and documented both on and off Wiki (and on this blog since 1 February 2011). One of the reasons I was drawn to working on the gender gap as a research project was that, despite the generation of a great deal of conversation, there seem to be very few solutions. It is, what Rittel and Webber would call, a “wicked problem.” Even in the midst of the ongoing work of volunteers who spearhead and contribute to endeavors like WikiProject Women scientists, WikiWomen’s History Month, WikiProject Women’s sport and Meetup/ArtandFeminism (to name only a few), the gender gap is a wicked problem a lot of community members–even those dedicated to the topic–seem tired of discussing.

The Women and Wikipedia IEG project is designed to collect and then provide the Wikimedia community with aggregate qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to assess existing efforts to address the gender gap. This data may also be used to guide the design of future interventions or technology enhancements that seek to address the gap. The data may include but not be limited to:

Wikimedia Highlights, May 2014

Information For versions in other languages, please check the wiki version of this report, or add your own translation there!

Wikimedia Foundation highlights

Demo video for “ZoomProof”, a tool that will facilitate proofreading work on the Armenian Wikisource – one of the 12 new IEG projects

12 new individual engagement grants

The Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grants (IEG) support projects from individuals or small teams to organize, build, create, research or facilitate something that enhances the work of Wikimedia’s volunteers. The 12 winning grants from the first round of 2014 were announced on May 30.

Test of a message inviting anonymous editors to create an account, displayed after they have made an edit (presentation slide)

Inviting anonymous editors to join the Wikipedia community

On the English, German, French, and Italian Wikipedias, the Foundation’s Growth team conducted two experiments to test user interface changes for encouraging anonymous editors to create an account and join the community of registered users. In the first test, a recommendation to create an account was shown when the user clicks “edit”, and in the second test, the invitation was displayed after the user saved an edit. Preliminary data strongly suggested a positive effect on new registrations.

Overview over the FDC proposals from round 2 (presentation slides)

Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) recommendations announced

In May, the nine-member Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met for its face-to-face deliberations and published its recommendations to the WMF Board of Trustees on proposals from four organizations (three chapters and the Foundation) on how to spend Wikimedia donation money. The Board will make its decision on these recommendations by 1 July. The Advisory Group to the FDC also met in Frankfurt for their final meeting, to provide the Executive Director of the WMF with a recommendation on whether or not the FDC process (begun in 2012) should continue, and if so, what modifications should be made. They unanimously agreed to recommend to continue the process.

Data and Trends

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Wikimedia Foundation Report, May 2014

Information You are more than welcome to edit the wiki version of this report for the purposes of usefulness, presentation, etc., and to add translations of the “Highlights” excerpts.

Data and Trends

Global unique visitors for April:

465 million (-6.00% compared with March; -9.92% compared with the previous year)
(comScore data for all Wikimedia Foundation projects; comScore will release May data later in June)

Page requests for May:

20.654 billion (-0.2% compared with April; -1.6% compared with the previous year)
(Server log data, all Wikimedia Foundation content projects including mobile access, but excluding Wikidata and the Wikipedia main portal page.)

Active Registered Editors for April 2014 (>= 5 mainspace edits/month, excluding bots):

75,364 (-2.25% compared with March / -7.25% compared with the previous year)
(Database data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects.
Note: These numbers were recently adjusted to correct a bug involving IPV6 addresses.)

Report Card (integrating various statistical data and trends about WMF projects):

http://reportcard.wmflabs.org/

(Definitions)

Financials

Wikimedia Foundation YTD Revenue and Expenses vs Plan as of April 30, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation YTD Expenses by Functions as of April 30, 2014

(Financial information is only available through April 2014 at the time of this report.)

All financial information presented is for the Month-To-Date and Year-To-Date April 30, 2014.

Revenue 49,194,784
Expenses:
 Engineering Group 13,800,658
 Fundraising Group 3,209,299
 Grantmaking Group 1,472,907
 Programs Group 1,493,168
 Grants 4,066,472
 Governance Group 725,565
 Legal/Community Advocacy/Communications Group 3,256,914
 Finance/HR/Admin Group 5,484,592
Total Expenses 33,509,575
Total surplus (15,685,209)
in US dollars
  • Revenue for the month of April is $8.24MM versus plan of $1.71MM, approximately $6.53MM or 383% over plan.
  • Year-to-date revenue is $49.19MM versus plan of $46.76MM, approximately $2.43MM or 5% over plan.
  • Expenses for the month of April is $3.19MM versus plan of $4.69MM, approximately $1.50MM or 32% under plan, primarily due to lower personnel expenses, capital expenses, internet hosting, FDC grants, and payment processing fees partially offset by higher legal fees, outside contract services, and travel expenses related to community convening events.
  • Year-to-date expenses is $33.51MM versus plan of $41.06MM, approximately $7.55MM or 18% under plan, primarily due to lower personnel expenses, capital expenses, internet hosting, legal fees, payment processing fees, staff development expenses, grants and travel expenses partially offset by higher outside contract services.
  • Cash and Investments – $55.6MM as of April 30, 2014.

Demo video for “ZoomProof”, a tool that will facilitate proofreading work on the Armenian Wikisource – one of the 12 new IEG projects

Highlights

12 new individual engagement grants

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Ram Prasad Joshi: Writing Wikipedia from the western hills of Nepal

Ram Prasad Joshi

Ram Prasad Joshi doesn’t have a computer. His village may be beautiful but there is no electricity. It’s a three-hour walk to the nearest road. In spite of all this, Joshi has accumulated more than 6,000 edits to the Nepali Wikipedia using nothing more than a feature phone.

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Devotees paying homage to the Thama Mai Temple (replica of Badimalika, Bajura) in Dailekh

“On Wikipedia I write about geography, history and culture of my surroundings,” he said. “I am a Hindu so I write about the Hindu religion and Hindu culture. I edit and write new articles on the Sanskrit, Hindi, Fijian, Bhojpuri and Gujrati Wikipedias, as well as in Nepali. I can introduce my village, my locality and my culture to the world.”

An image shot by Ram Prasad Joshi on his feature phone: Stone script of Damupal near Kartikhamba in Dailekh established by King Prithivi Malla B.S. 1038 (981 A.D.). It is claimed to be the first stone script in the Nepali Language.

In addition to his writing, Joshi has contributed almost a hundred photographs to Wikimedia Commons. He took part in Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 and his images of archaeological monuments in his area won him the prize for best mobile contributor.

Due to its remote geography, his contributions may be the only representation his village will get online. “No newspapers, no magazines, nothing arrives here,” he explains. “In my village there are many people who have never seen a television. Now the mobile phone emerged, villagers watch videos on mobile, but no-one owns a television.”

For Joshi, his initial introduction to editing began on a somber note four years ago. While living and working in Haridwar, a small city in northeast India, his mother became seriously ill and passed away. “According to Hindu culture, all children should perform the rituals; they have to sit isolated for thirteen days in mourning,” he explained. “I was grieved greatly by her loss. My eyes still become wet when I remember her death. Parents are regarded as the almighty and holy in my culture.”

“I had to find ways to divert my thoughts from the memories of mom. As a way to vent my grief, I began to surf mobile internet more which helped me a lot. I explored the Nepali Wikipedia. I also saw the edit button in each article and the sub heading too. I then learned that I could edit these encyclopedia entries. When I remember my mom, I open Wikipedia and read or edit,” he added.

Fortunately, Joshi might no longer be alone in his editing endeavors; soon others will be able to benefit just as he did. Wikipedia Zero’s partnership with Nepali GSM mobile operator Ncell has given more people the opportunity to learn what Wikipedia is and how they can contribute to Wikimedia projects. “I have conveyed to my family and my villagers about Wikipedia,” said Joshi. “But for most people the Internet is out of reach, so it is a vague topic for them. After Ncell announced [their partnership with] Wikipedia Zero, some have given concern to it. Earlier when I started talking about Wikipedia they treated me as if I had gone mad.”

“Ncell broadcast advertisements for Wikipedia Zero through local radio. Many people now understand that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of knowledge.”

Ncell’s partnership is ideal for those looking to access and contribute to Wikipedia from a mobile phone, in the same way Joshi has for so long.
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Odia language gets a new Unicode font converter

Screenshot mock-up of Akruti Sarala – Unicode Odia converter

It’s been over a decade since Unicode standard was made available for Odia script. Odia is a language spoken by roughly 33 million people in Eastern India, and is one of the many official languages of India. Since its release, it has been challenging to get more content on Unicode, the reason being many who are used to other non-Unicode standards are not willing to make the move to Unicode. This created the need for a simple converter that could convert text once typed in various non-Unicode fonts to Unicode. This could enrich Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects by converting previously typed content and making it more widely available on the internet. The Odia language recently got such a converter, making it possible to convert two of the most popular fonts among media professionals (AkrutiOriSarala99 and AkrutiOriSarala) into Unicode.

All of the non-Latin scripts came under one umbrella after the rollout of Unicode. Since then, many Unicode compliant fonts have been designed and the open source community has put forth effort to produce good quality fonts. Though contribution to Unicode compliant portals like Wikipedia increased, the publication and printing industries in India were still stuck with the pre-existing ASCII and ISCII standards (Indian font encoding standard based on ASCII). Modified ASCII fonts that were used as typesets for newspapers, books, magazines and other printed documents still exist in these industries. This created a massive amount of content that is not searchable or reproducible because it is not Unicode compliant. The difference in Unicode font is the existence of separate glyphs for the Indic script characters along with the Latin glyphs that are actually replaced by the Indic characters. So, when someone does not have a particular ASCII standard font installed, the typed text looks absurd (see Mojibake), however text typed using one Unicode font could be read using another Unicode font in a different operating system. Most of the ASCII fonts that are used for typing Indic languages are proprietary and many individuals/organizations even use pirated software and fonts. Having massive amounts of content available in multiple standards and little content in Unicode created a large gap for many languages including Odia. Until all of this content gets converted to Unicode to make it searchable, sharable and reusable, then the knowledge base created will remain inaccessible. Some of the Indic languages fortunately have more and more contributors creating Unicode content. There is a need to work on technological development to convert non-Unicode content to Unicode and open it up for people to use.

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Israel’s Ministry of Education & Wikimedia Israel Agree On New, Unique Initiative

Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Itzik Edri, Chair of the Wikimedia Israel Board and Michal Lester, Executive Director of Wikimedia Israel

An agreement was met in a meeting between Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Itzik Edri, Chair of the Wikimedia Israel Board and Michal Lester, Executive Director of Wikimedia Israel, regarding a shared cooperation with Wikimedia Israel in the framework of the ministry’s school curricula in the coming years. Through the planned cooperation, history, geography and science teachers will receive special professional training to instruct students on how to contribute to new or incomplete Wikipedia articles for which information is lacking or inadequate.

Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

The Education Ministry will also examine the possibility of integrating Wikipedia writing assignments in the teaching of research and community involvement. They will also consider having students who speak additional languages (primarily English and Russian) write Wikipedia articles about Israel in those particular languages.

Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron said, “It is important to us that the education system in Israel leads in innovation and cooperating with Wikipedia is a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and enable students in Israel to do things that make a difference from which others can also benefit.”

Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees said, “Israel is today among the leading countries in the integration of Wikipedia in the education system and academia. I hope our joint work model will also serve as an example to other education systems around the world.”

In the framework of cooperation that is already in place between Wikimedia Israel and the Ministry of education, several pilot projects are being conducted. The projects involve teacher training in good Wikipedia usage, article composition, Wikipedia article writing by gifted high school students and the teaching of proper Wikipedia usage to elementary schoolchildren. It is worth mentioning that through cooperation with academics in a variety of universities and colleges throughout Israel, hundreds of articles are written each year by students in courses. Thus students write Wikipedia articles as part of their degrees, sometimes even in lieu of exams or final papers. The Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University recently conducted a special 2-credit course on the subject of Wikipedia and medicine.

Survey results published last week as part of Wikipedia Academy 2014 Israel revealed that 84% of the Israeli public relies heavily on Wikipedia and 74% say that it provides all the information they need. Over one third of the population expressed interest in learning to write for Wikipedia.

Itzik Edri, Chair of Wikimedia Israel Board