Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Editor engagement

Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz

Portrait of Adrianne Wadewitz at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, DC.

Each of us on the Wikipedia Education Program team is saddened today by the news of Adrianne Wadewitz’s passing. We know we share this sadness with everyone at the Wikimedia Foundation and so many in the Wikimedia and education communities. Our hearts go out to all of you, her family and friends. Today is a time for mourning and remembering.

Adrianne served as one of the first Campus Ambassadors for the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative). In this role, she consulted with professors, demonstrated Wikipedia editing and helped students collaborate with Wikipedia community members to successfully write articles. As an Educational Curriculum Advisor to the team, Adrianne blended her unique Wikipedia insight and teaching experience to help us develop Wikipedia assignments, lesson plans and our initial sample syllabus. Her work served as a base for helping university professors throughout the United States, and the world, use Wikipedia effectively in their classes.

Adrianne was also one of the very active voices in the Wikimedia community urging participation and awareness among women to tackle the project’s well-known gender gap. She was an articulate, kind, and energetic face for Wikipedia, and many know that her work helped bring new Wikipedians to the project. The Foundation produced a video exploring Adrianne’s work within the Wikipedia community in 2012.

Many in the Wikimedia community knew her from her exceptional and varied contributions, especially in the areas of gender and 18th-century British literature – in which she received a PhD last year from Indiana University, before becoming a Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. Since July of 2004, she had written 36 featured articles (the highest honor for quality on Wikipedia) and started over 100 articles – the latest being on rock climber Steph Davis.

Adrianne touched many lives as she freely shared her knowledge, expertise and passions with Wikipedia, her students, colleagues, friends and family. She will be deeply missed by all of us. Our condolences go out to her family during these very difficult times.

Rod Dunican
Director, Global Education

Wikipedia Education Program

  • See Adrianne’s user page on the English Wikipedia, her Twitter account, her home page and her blog at HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory)
  • Wikipedians have begun to share their memories and condolences about Adrianne on her user talk page.
  • The leadership of the Wiki Education Foundation, where Adrianne was a board member, have also expressed their condolences.
  • Memorial post from HASTAC Co-founder Cathy Davidson.
  • Wikinews story on the passing of Adrianne Wadewitz.

For Rexford Nkansah, Wikipedia represents the future of education for his country

Despite its growing economy, Ghana is not the first place one would associate with technology, but for 20-year-old native Rexford Nkansah, it’s second nature.

Wikipedians attending WikiAfrica’s Open Africa 2014 course in Cape Town in February of 2014. From left: Abel Asrat, Rexford Nkansah, Michael Phoya, Cyriac Gbogou, and Erina Mukuta.

“In Ghana you don’t have hobbies like skiing or going to restaurants,” he says. “So these are the little things I do to keep myself busy.” The youngest of five, Rexford is now spearheading a campaign to form a Wikimedia Chapter in Ghana. “I’m actually considered to be Ghana’s Wikimedia person,” he explains.

He first stumbled upon Wikipedia in 2006, and like many, at first did not realize what made it so special. It wasn’t until five years later that he began contributing himself. “I thought – how can anyone, anywhere on the planet put in anything just like that? So I decided to read about it, to learn the rules for editing, and that’s how it all started.”

A biography on Ashesi University founder Patrick Awuah was his first foray into writing, an article that took him six hours of non-stop work. “I took my time to write it. I sat down, researched, did everything, put it all together, added photos… I just dedicated that time to do it. I said, this guy – I need to do something to say thank you to him, for how he’s helping Ghana grow.”

Nkansah is a passionate web developer, and is keen on emphasizing the value of open source software. “Not all of us have access to credit cards, buying something online is like going a million miles to fetch something,” he says, “so when you get free software, you get happy about it. Because software that is not free… it’s hard to pay for it even if you have the money.”

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Celebrating Women’s Day, the Wiki way

Participants editing articles about women in science.

How many Indian women scientists can you name? Go on! Think about this one. Think really hard. How many can you name, now? One? Two? Three?

I wrote this blog post at a co-working space for tech startups in the Southern Indian city of Kochi. I was surrounded by science students. None of them could think of a single woman scientist from India. Pretty shameful, isn’t it? And, there was nobody to burst our sexist bubble, except, Wikipedia. This page lists 15 women scientists from India. While I am grateful for this archive, it is hardly comprehensive. 15 women scientists from a country of 1.2 billion people.

India is currently Asia’s third largest economy and it prides itself on making many ancient discoveries. Given this context, it is unbefitting for us to come up with such a tiny list. (By the way, If you know of a more detailed website on this subject, please send me the link on Twitter – which you can find at the bottom of this page). Could there be women whose contribution to science have slipped out of popular culture?

Wikipedia has organized edit-a-thons for the entire month of March to address these glaring gaps in our knowledge. The goal of these edit-a-thons is to celebrate International’s Women’s Day that fell on March 8. During this month, we would like to enhance the quantity and quality of Wikipedia articles on gender and sexuality and translate English articles into other Indic languages. Anyone can join the celebrations as editors, translators, bloggers, event managers or enthusiasts.

We encourage more South Asian women to use this opportunity- right now 9 out of 10 Wikipedians are men. There are many subjects that may be of interest or value to women that are not covered in traditional encyclopaedias because the majority of knowledge-producers are men. Let us make sure that Wikipedia is diverse and voices from all sections of  society are represented.

We have kick-started the event with weekend edit-a-thons. We will provide specific topics and links to editors to write or expand upon. This month the focus is on women parliamentarians and scientists.

So come on over, put your editing skills to use, make some new friends and last but not the least, learn more about women scientist from India!

- Diksha Madhok, Wikipedian

Indian Wikimedia community coordinates Women’s History Month

The Indian Wikimedia community is pleased to invite you to participate in Women’s History Month events, 2014. We started off with a pre-event Wikipedia workshop at Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work, in Mangalore on the 26th of February. We have planned events all through this month. They aim at creating new articles, expanding the existing stubs and translating English articles to various Indic languages.The schedule includes Wikipedia workshops, online edit-a-thons and wikiparties. You could edit articles, translate them, blog about the events or even be an enthusiast. Visit this page to learn more about getting involved.

Real-life Wikipedia workshops will be conducted in different parts of India. Two online edit-a-thons have been planned. The first one on the 8th & 9th of March focuses on women parliamentarians and the second one on the 15th & 16th will be looking to expand the work done during the last year events on women scientists from India. Participants of the Women’s History Month events in India are requested to fill up this opt in form to help the organizers evaluate the quantum and quality of the edits made. Centre for Internet and Society (Access to Knowledge) has extended their support to the Women’s History Month events in India this year.

The Indian events are being conducted as a part of the global event supported by the Wikiwomen’s Collaborative. We look forward to welcoming all participants at this year’s event.

By, Jeph Paul and Netha Hussain, Wikimedians

Wikipedia’s Art & Feminism Edit-A-Thon and the Gender Gap

the Art & Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, at the John M. Flaxman Library at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago on February 1, 2014

Lending a hand at the Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon, at Eyebeam in New York City

The Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to realize a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge represents an ongoing challenge to staff and volunteers alike. We must find ways to make information more accessible, increase the breadth of information in each language, and close gaps in editor demographics. Most importantly, we must recognize that so long as there are disparities in information, such as the representation of women and Feminism on Wikipedia, we have yet to realize our goal of truly sharing in the sum of all human knowledge.

On February 1st, 2014, the Wikipedia Community addressed Wikipedia’s gender gap by organizing the Art & Feminism Edit-a-thon, encouraging editors — female or male, novice or experienced — to contribute to pages about art, feminism, and women of all walks of life. The purpose of this event was not only to spread interest in topics needing real visibility on the encyclopedia, but also to empower women to become more involved in the community by providing a supportive framework for their contributions. With over 30 satellite Edit-a-thons running simultaneously across 4 continents and an estimated 600 attendees, this event brought us a small step closer to realizing a truly diverse user base.

Dating back to a study done in 2010 which found the Wikipedia community was comprised of only 13% women, the Foundation has worked with chapter and user groups to provide outreach to women. These Edit-a-thons offer a partial solution to one of the barriers to new editors: it’s intimidating to edit an article if you don’t really know Wikipedian policies, practices, syntax, etiquette, and topical needs. Experienced community members can model and teach best practices as well as support new editors. Some of the satellite Edit-a-thons, like the one hosted by Wikimedia NYC, saw around 150 attendees and therefore approached this learning experience by hosting hourly training sessions, while other, smaller events took advantage of the intimate setting to give participants one-on-one support.

Sharon Cogdill works with a recent University of Minnesota graduate during the Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota

One such iteration of the Art & Feminism Edit-a-thon was hosted in the library at St. Cloud State University by librarian Rachel Wexelbaum, with a total of 10 participants, 9 of whom were women. Under the guidance of Rachel and Professor Sharon Cogdill, the group discussed the various imbalances on Wikipedia, including the gender imbalance. Sharon, sensing the wavering interest in the room and worried that the newcomers present felt left out by the “they” who edit Wikipedia, moved the Edit-a-thon into action by helping everyone create their very own Wikipedia usernames; “they” began to look more like “we.”

Creating an account doesn’t suddenly endow a new user with confidence, to which Sharon can attest from experience (full disclosure: Sharon is my aunt). A professor of Victorian literature and Digital Humanities, she first became an active editor in 2011 when she made a small edit to an article about The Emerald Isle, a 19th century comic opera. Her edit contained a small error, and the owner of the article contacted her on her talk page and explained which Wikipedia policies made the original better. Reflecting on their working relationship, Sharon says, “I have a great mentor, Ssilvers, who has really encouraged me, often by suggesting a Wikipedia page to read on policies or help on some other topic he thinks I’m ready for.”

During the Edit-A-Thon, Sharon published her very first new article on Arthur Collins, which Ssilvers “pushed me to get out there 2 years before I finally did.” The article is about a man, because in Sharon’s words, “this event gave me the environment I needed to let go of it, and besides, women writing about men isn’t not feminist.”

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A Multimedia Vision for 2016

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

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

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

Vision

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

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

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New draft feature provides a gentler start for Wikipedia articles

For most of Wikipedia’s history, we encouraged editors to create new encyclopedia articles by publishing immediately. Just find a page that doesn’t exist, type in content, and after you hit save, it’s shared with the world. This helped Wikipedia grow to the millions of articles it has now, but the project has matured in many ways, and we need additional tools for creating great new encyclopedia articles.

Starting on the English-language Wikipedia, all users (registered or anonymous) now have the option to start drafts before publishing. A draft simply has “Draft:” before the title of the page you’re creating, like this example. Drafts are not visible to readers using Wikipedia’s default search nor in external search engines such as Google, though you may find them using the advanced search options.

Why we need drafts on Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s goal is to be the most comprehensive and reliable reference work in your language, so you might ask why we would encourage people to not publish their articles immediately so readers can enjoy them.

In small Wikipedias like Swahili or Estonian, you’d be right — we’ll probably encourage all authors to skip writing drafts. However, in larger Wikipedias where quality standards are very high, thousands of new articles are deleted (sometimes within just minutes) because they don’t meet essential requirements for what makes a good Wikipedia article.

Our most recent data indicates about 80% of the articles started by brand new users are deleted, when examining Wikipedias in English, Spanish, French, and Russian. By creating a draft, authors will have more time and space to gradually work on a new topic, and can get constructive feedback from other editors. In fact, even advanced Wikipedia editors sometimes use sub-pages of their user profile (sometimes called “sandboxes”) as an unofficial draft space.

We should note that we don’t want drafts to prevent editors from following their curent process for article creation. Wikipedia articles are all works in progress, even after publication, and this fact won’t change any time soon. We’re simply adding another option for people that want the time and space that drafts affords.

What’s next

This is a very early version of drafts on Wikipedia, and frankly it’s missing a great deal of functionality. In the future, we’ll be adding features to drafts that will make them more useful. We’re exploring different design concepts to make it easy to request and provide help during the draft process, better support the publication of drafts as articles (and moving them back to draft state if they need more work), and encourage collaboration between editors.

design comp

Design concepts for Search and editing of Drafts

If you’d like to help us in this effort, please sign up for a usability testing session. In these sessions, we’ll show you prototypes of new features and get your feedback. No prior experience with Wikipedia editing is required!

Pau Giner, User Experience Designer
Steven Walling, Product Manager

Help design Wikipedia’s next-generation discussion system

Roundtable-Discussions-June-2013-45.jpg

Discussions are the backbone of all Wikimedia projects. Whether it’s finding a reliable source, settling on spelling and punctuation conventions, or picking an article to feature on the main page, our community of volunteer editors makes countless decisions each day simply by talking to each other. However, the way that editors communicate today – using freeform wiki pages – is confusing and difficult for new users to grasp. Flow is the Wikimedia Foundation’s project planned to create discussion and collaboration software that improves the experience for all our users, letting them focus on creating and improving content instead of mastering the talk page form.

When comments and discussion first appeared on the Internet, they brought the promise of brilliant minds discussing the issues of the day in a thoughtful, courteous fashion. Instead, what we got was a lot of: “FIRST POST!” “Jake sucks,” “Kylla rulez”, and “aliens caused climate change!!!” The Internet world dealt with this problem in various ways: by locking down poster permissions, paying staff to moderate content, or even turning comments off entirely.

Wikipedia and its sister projects face some different challenges – while the content of the encyclopedia grows in size and quality through peer-to-peer discussion and collaboration, the fact that anyone can participate in this process is still not obvious to most people who use Wikipedia as a resource. We know that a small, homogeneous contributor pool leads to gaps in knowledge and biased content, as well as overworked and frustrated editors. There are countless potential contributors who could pitch in to help, but who are dissuaded from participating in content discussions because of intimidating software. But, like other online discussion spaces, we also need to balance openness with tools to keep discussions productive and healthy.

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Notifications Launch on More Wikipedias

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

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

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

New languages

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

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

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

New platforms

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

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

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

Screenshot showing new notifications icon in corner

After many weeks of beta testing, the mobile development team is happy to announce this week’s release of notifications on the mobile site. Logged in users can now receive notifications on the mobile versions of Wikimedia sites just like they can on the desktop sites. This will allow mobile users to stay up-to-date on events and activities that affect them on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

Currently supported notifications include:

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

To try out notifications on mobile, log in to one of the mobile websites, such as en.m.wikipedia.org, and look for the icon in the top right corner of your screen (see screenshot). If you have new notifications, a red badge will be displayed on the icon. Clicking on the icon will take you to the notifications archive page. We are currently working on a new overlay interface for notifications on mobile that will allow you to read your new notifications without leaving the page you are on. Expect to the see the new interface rolled out some time in the next few weeks.

Screenshot showing notifications

The release of notifications on mobile is part of a gradual process of bringing feature parity to the mobile websites. We want both readers and editors to feel comfortable using the mobile sites and able to accomplish most, if not all, of the same tasks they typically perform on the desktop sites. In the future, expect to see better support for talk pages, page history, and diff views, as well as further improvements to our editing and uploading interfaces on mobile. As always, we welcome your feedback and comments. Tell us what you think on Twitter @WikimediaMobile or on IRC in the #wikimedia-mobile channel.

Note that mobile notifications currently only work on sites that have the Echo extension enabled (en.wikipedia, fr.wikipedia, hu.wikipedia, pl.wikipedia, pt.wikipedia, sv.wikipedia, and Meta-wiki). Echo should be deployed to all language Wikipedias in the near future.

Ryan Kaldari
Software Engineer