Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Mobile

Agile and Trello: The planning cycle

This blog series will focus on how the Wikipedia App Team uses Trello for their day to day, week to week, and sprint to sprint development cycle. In its early days, the Wikipedia App was an experimental project that needed flexibility for its evolution. The team looked at a number of tools like Bugzilla, Mingle, and Trello to wrangle our ever-growing to-do list. We found that most imposed a structure that was stifling rather than empowering, cumbersome rather than fun, and was generally overkill for what we needed.

Trello looked attractive as it took no more than a couple of minutes to see its moving parts, was available on multiple platforms, and was simple to customize. We experimented with it and quickly found that we could make it do most of what we wanted.

For those unfamiliar with Trello, it’s a list of lists at its basic level and it functions incredibly well within an Agile framework. Trello uses the concepts of boards, lists, items, and subitems. Boards contain lists which contain items which in turn contain subitems.

Here is how we use it:

Each idea starts out as a narrative or user story on our backlog board. Most of our stories are written in a “As a …, I want to …, So that …” format. This allows us to have a narrative justification for a unit of work rather than a list of technical requirements. Stories begin their life in the “In analysis” column where the product manager (who acts as the product owner) vets the idea with other stakeholders, involves the Design team, and generally incubates the story. Anyone is welcome to add a story to this column.

When the product owner feels that a story has matured enough, they place it in the “ready for prioritization” column with any required design assets. As these stories increase in number, we begin to see the next sprint forming.

Within a couple of days, the team meets and the product manager discusses the theme of the upcoming sprint. A new sprint board is created and the product manager moves the most important 3−5 stories for a deeper analysis by the whole team. The team meets and collectively refines the story cards to have a clear set of acceptance criteria under the checklist column, flags stories that need additional design, and prioritizes them in top down order.

Within a week’s time, the team meets again, but this time their goal is to estimate and do a final pass on each story card. We use a combination of Scrum for Trello and hat.jit.su to facilitate the estimation process. Once all stories have been estimated, the product manager re-prioritizes, checks against our sprint velocity, and the sprint is ready to start.

Thus at any point we have three active boards:

  • Backlog – where all stories start
  • Current Sprint – what developers are working on
  • Next Sprint – what’s coming up next

Next time we’ll see what happens from the developers’ standpoint during a sprint.

Tomasz Finc, Director of Mobile

Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone arranged a Wikipedia Contributor Day in Dhaka

Participants at the Wikipedia Contributor day organized by Wikimedia Bangladesh and Grameenphone

On Sunday and Monday, 16/17 February 2014, Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) and Grameenphone (a Telenor concern) jointly arranged a two-day long event titled ‘Wikipedia Contributor Day’ with i-Genius students.

Grameenphone/Telenor is a Wikipedia Zero partner. We organized two days of workshops on Bengali Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Grameenphone chose the participants from last year’s i-Genius students, which are selected from all over the country through a year-long program conducted by Grameenphone and the daily newspaper Prothom Alo. Usually one i-Genius is selected from every district of Bangladesh.

The goal of the workshops were to introduce Wikipedia (especially Bengali Wikipedia), and show the attendees how to edit the articles and contribute photographs to Wikimedia Commons. Most participants were new to Wikipedia, but at the same time we found several of them were already contributing to Wikipedia. It was very inspiring for us.

Munir Hasan, President of Wikimedia Bangladesh, conducted the introductory session. He said that the chapter is trying to focus on creating new editors and volunteers and this initiative will be helpful to create new Wikimedians.

I (Nurunnaby Chowdhury) and another Bengali Wikipedia sysop and Wikimedia Bangladesh EC member, Nasir Khan, conducted workshops at this two-day event with i-Genius students. Grameenphone Limited provided the event venue, at their corporate headquarters located in Dhaka city. On the event days, another sysop of Bengali Wikipedia, Nahid Sultan, was present and helped the attendees to edit and create new articles and so on.

Altogether, over 53 participants attended on the two days of the workshop. We planned for 70 participants, but some of the i-Genius students could not join due to the exam schedule. A few of the interested attendees had experimented with editing Wikipedia, and they had started asking questions to the organizers even before the event was launched!

The workshop was an all-day event with a lot of fun activities. More than 30 participants attended on the first day. After the introduction session, we divided the participants into several groups and one facilitator was assigned to each of the groups. The facilitator helped their group to create and expand a Wikipedia article by themselves. The participants moved around and made friends with each other and the organizers during the lunch break. During the afternoon session, the participants asked to clarify their doubts about editing. Organizers gave a brief introduction about the Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter, and they conducted sessions on how to add references to a Wikipedia article and how to upload pictures to Commons. On the second day, another 30 students joined this program. During the program we delivered hands-on presentations on how to edit, how to contribute, and how to donate photos to Commons. Moreover, we enriched some articles that seemed incomplete. After the successful completion of the program, all i-Genius students receive certificates and my written book about Bengali Wikipedia. This book was published at the last Ekushey Book Fair in 2013.

There were many interesting and engaging queries from a few of the participants who had already edited articles on Wikipedia. It was nice to discover that some of the participants wanted to connect with the local Wikimedia community. Several participants and the organizers wrote to thank us for conducting the workshop. The event was a success in that it introduced the audience to various ways of getting involved with the Wikimedia movement, thereby changing the perception that the only way to get involved is by writing articles online.

Nurunnaby Chowdhury & Nasir Khan, Wikimedians

Language Engineering Events – Language Summit, Fall 2013

The Wikimedia Language Engineering team, along with Red Hat, organised the Fall edition of the Open Source Language Summit in Pune, India on November 18 and 19, 2013.

Members from the Language Engineering, Mobile, VisualEditor, and Design teams of the Wikimedia Foundation joined participants from Red Hat, Google, Adobe, Microsoft Research, Indic language projects, Open Source Projects (Fedora, Debian) and Wikipedians from various Indian languages. Google Summer of Code interns for Wikimedia Language projects were also present. The 2-day event was organised as work-sessions, focussed on fonts, input tools, content translation and language support on desktop, web and mobile platforms.

Participants at the Open Source Language Summit, Pune India

The Fontbook project, started during the Language Summit earlier this year, was marked to be extended to 8 more Indian languages. The project aims to create a technical specification for Indic fonts based upon the Open Type v 1.6 specifications. Pravin Satpute and Sneha Kore of Red Hat presented their work for the next version of the Lohit font-family based upon the same specification, using Harfbuzz-ng. It is expected that this effort will complement the expected accomplishment of the Fontbook project.

The other font sessions included a walkthrough of the Autonym font created by Santhosh Thottingal, a Q&A session by Behdad Esfahbod about the state of Indic font rendering through Harfbuzz-ng, and a session to package webfonts for Debian and Fedora for native support. Learn more about the font sessions.

Improving the input tools for multilingual input on the VisualEditor was extensively discussed. David Chan walked through the event logger system built for capturing IME input events, which is being used as an automated IME testing framework available at http://tinyurl.com/imelog to build a library of similar events across IMEs, OSs and languages.

Santhosh Thottingal stepped through several tough use cases of handling multilingual input, to support the VisualEditor’s inherent need to provide non-native support for handling language content blocks within the contentEditable surface. Wikipedians from various Indic languages also provided their inputs. On-screen keyboards, mobile input methods like LiteratIM and predictive typing methods like ibus-typing-booster (available for Fedora) were also discussed. Read more about the input method sessions.

The Language Coverage Matrix Dashboard that displays language support status for all languages in Wikimedia projects was showcased. The Fedora Internationalization team, who currently provides resources for fewer languages than the Wikimedia projects, will identify the gap using the LCMD data and assess the resources that can be leveraged for enhancing the support on Desktops. Dr. Kalika Bali from Microsoft Research Labs presented on leveraging content translation platforms for Indian languages and highlighted that for Indic languages MT could be improved significantly by using web-scale content like Wikipedia.

Learn more about the sessions, accomplishments and next steps for these projects from the Event Report.

Runa Bhattacharjee, Outreach and QA coordinator, Language Engineering, Wikimedia Foundation

Developing Distributedly, Part 2: Best Practices for Staying in Sync

Staying in sync on a globally distributed team spread across timezones takes a lot more than using the right tools!

In part 1, we discussed the various tools the distributed mobile web engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation uses to stay synchronized. While the tools are critical to our success, it takes a lot more to ensure that we can successfully work together despite the geographic distances between us. Our development procedures and team norms are the glue that holds it all together.

As with the tools we discussed previously, the practices and norms I’ll discuss below are by no means unique to—or only useful for—distributed teams.

Rituals

When you can’t just walk across the office or poke your head over the cubicle wall to sync up with a teammate, regular, structured moments for real-time, intra-team communication become critical. The mobile web team is a scrum-inspired agile team. As such, we use regular stand-ups, planning meetings, showcases and retrospectives to have some real-time, focused conversation with one another. Because we hold these meetings at a regular cadence and consider them critical touch points for the entire team, we think of them as rituals rather than regular meetings.

The WMF Mobile Apps engineering team holding a stand-up meeting with remote participation.

The stand-ups in particular are excellent for synchronization. Unlike traditional Scrum, we do not hold stand-up meetings every single day; rather, we do ours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We use this time to let everyone know what we’ve been working on, make commitments about what we will be working on, alert the team if there’s anything blocking us from getting our work done and quickly triage any bugs that have been reported since we last met. While we can always look in Mingle (our project management tool, see part 1) to see who is working on what and when, these brief meetings make it easier to raise issues and communicate about where further collaboration between teammates may be valuable.

Often, conversations about blockers and problem areas start during the stand-up and continue between the interested parties after the meeting has concluded. The meeting is kept short, time-boxed at 15 minutes, so there is little overhead; the meeting stays focused and we communicate just enough to keep us all moving forward.

The other rituals provide a great way for us to stay in the loop, bond with one another and allow the team tremendous influence over the product and our process. While their primary purposes are not about day-to-day synchronization like the stand ups, the other rituals are essential for reinforcing our self-organizing team. Particularly since we are distributed, these rituals are sacred, as they are the primary moments when we all know we can work together in real time.

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Open letter for free access to Wikipedia on mobile in South Africa

This post is available in 8 languages: English Afrikaans العربية •  Español German • Français עברית • Nederlands • Português • русский • isiXhosa

English

In November 2012, the students of Sinenjongo High School penned an open letter on Facebook, encouraging cellphone carriers to waive data charges for accessing Wikipedia so they can do their homework. In May 2013, filmmaker Charlene Music and I asked them to read their open letter on camera. Below is the video of their letter:

The cost of data is a major obstacle to accessing the free knowledge on Wikipedia for hundreds of millions of people. These students want their cellphone carriers to sign up to Wikipedia Zero, a partnership program organized by the Wikimedia Foundation to enable mobile access to Wikipedia – free of data charges – in developing countries.

We will be sharing the longer documentary about the class as soon as it’s ready. While we are still editing the longer documentary, we’re looking for:

1.) A few skilled volunteers who can help to translate captions to accompany the video above and the longer documentary. There are currently eleven official languages in South Africa alone. We need volunteers to create captions for all those languages, and as many other languages as possible.

2.) A motion graphics or digital artist who could help us design and animate a few titles, maps and statistics for the documentary. If you are interested, feel free to email me: vgrigas at wikimedia.org or get in touch with me on my talk page User:Vgrigas.

3.) If you agree with these students, please share the video above.

Victor Grigas
Visual Storyteller, Wikimedia Foundation

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Telenor Wikipedia Zero partnership will provide free access to Wikipedia on mobile in Myanmar

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas at celebration.

As we announced today, the Wikimedia Foundation and Telenor have expanded our Wikipedia Zero partnership established in early 2012 to now include Myanmar. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was in Oslo today and celebrated the agreement with Telenor’s President and CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas.

On 27 June 2013, Telenor was named one of two successful applicants for a telecommunications license in Myanmar. With new mobile competition the country will see better network service, internet-capable phones and lower prices to drive mobile internet usage.

This is a big deal because Myanmar currently has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in the world of less than 10 percent – only North Korea and Eritrea have lower rates. The Myanmar government’s stated objective is to increase mobile penetration to 80 percent in the next three years (overall internet penetration is estimated at roughly one percent). Another 40 million people will get mobile service, and many of them will be introduced to the internet for the first time.

With the extension of the partnership, Telenor Myanmar’s future mobile subscribers will be able to access the vast knowledge base in Wikipedia free of data charges. And they will be able to freely contribute their voices to Wikipedia. Today some people in Myanmar use Wikipedia, primarily in English, but usage is not widespread. The local Wikimedia community is working to grow the Burmese language version to reach a wider audience.

Removing barriers to access Wikipedia for people in Myanmar is a major step toward our goal of making the sum of all human knowledge available to everyone. We’re excited to see the benefits of this new partnership unfold.

Carolynne Schloeder
Director of Mobile Programs, Wikimedia Foundation

 

Airtel Wikipedia Zero partnership to pilot Wikipedia via text

Today Airtel and the Wikimedia Foundation announced a partnership to launch Wikipedia Zero, an initiative to provide free access to Wikipedia on mobile phones. This partnership with Airtel will help provide Wikipedia access to 70 million new users in sub-saharan Africa, starting in Kenya.

One exciting aspect of this partnership is that we are reaching a group of people we’ve never been able to reach before: mobile phone customers who don’t have internet access.

Throughout most of the developing world, data-enabled smartphones are the exception, not the rule. That means billions of people currently cannot see Wikipedia on their phones. Which phones? Low-cost basic phones (usually called feature phones or candy-bar phones). Phones like this:

So the challenge is, how do we reach the billions of people in the world who aren’t on the internet?

With text messaging. Even phones like these can send and receive text messages.

So for the first time, we are testing a service to allow access to Wikipedia articles via text message. It can work with any phone, even the most basic feature phone. You don’t even need an application.

How does Wikipedia via text work? A search is started in the same way people already use their phone to check their balance or add airtime. To search for a Wikipedia article through the Airtel partnership, a subscriber simply dials *515# on their phone, and they’ll get a text message inviting them to search Wikipedia. The subscriber enters a topic (like ‘Cheetah’) in the same manner they would send a text message.
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Speaking about free knowledge and the law at Yale ISP

Yale Law School Library

Yesterday, I presented an Ideas Lunch talk hosted by the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (Yale ISP). The Yale ISP was formed in 1997 to study how law and society are affected by new technologies and the Internet. The project is “guided by the values of democracy, development, and civil liberties.” I spoke about my work at the Wikimedia Foundation to promote the free knowledge movement to a group of students, faculty, and fellows at Yale ISP.

The talk focused on some of the unique challenges that our legal team faces in protecting the decentralized Wikimedia projects. In my work managing the Wikimedia trademark portfolio, I constantly think about creative solutions to reconcile the requirements of trademark law with the open and collaborative nature of our movement. We are currently developing a trademark policy together with our community through a series of community consultations. The purpose of the trademark policy is to allow community members to easily use the Wikimedia marks to promote our mission while protecting the marks from abuse by others. This is no easy feat as trademark policies are usually written to broadly restrict use of marks. Attorneys typically only consider the input of a few key staff when formulating policies of this sort. In stark contrast, we are collaborating with many different community members in an open process to develop a policy that is intended to serve the needs of the entire community. We also write the policy to be particularly user-friendly, applying readability indices to make sure that we avoid legalese and express ourselves clearly. This weekend, we also held two workshops at Stanford Institute of Design and the Embassy Network with legal design researchers to think about how we can better visualize the policy to make it more intuitive.[1]

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Umniah first to launch Wikipedia Zero in Jordan

This post is available in 2 languages: العربية 7% • English 100%

In English

“Wikipedia Zero – Umniah” by Pshegubj, under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported, from Wikimedia Commons

Umniah is the latest mobile operator to join the Wikipedia Zero free knowledge movement, and our first partner to launch in Jordan. Now Umniah’s 2.7 million mobile subscribers can access Wikipedia in Arabic and English free of data charges.

Nart Abdullah, Senior Value Added Services Officer at Umniah, came to us after hearing about Wikipedia Zero in the news. Umniah has a history of initiatives to reduce the digital gap, and Wikipedia Zero is in line with their values of community and inclusivity. According to CEO Ihab Hinnawi, Umniah is happy to provide free access to Wikipedia as “an important gateway to helping educate members of society, specifically ones facing financial burdens.” (Press release)

I recently joined the Wikimedia Foundation as Director of Mobile Programs, and Umniah is the first mobile operator I helped launch. I’m impressed with the way the Umniah team has embraced the program. They did a teaser campaign on their Facebook page asking general trivia questions leading up to the Wikipedia Zero announcement. That simple campaign captures the essence of Wikipedia opening a world of knowledge at your fingertips. And they even made a video about the partnership.

I’m also impressed with the Wikipedia Zero team and honored to be a part of it. We have a small and very talented group of people who work hard on implementations and infrastructure. We’re scaling our efforts to meet the growing commitments from mobile operators. So far we’ve rolled out in 19 countries, and we have agreements with carriers to serve over half a billion people.

Thanks again to Umniah, and welcome to the free knowledge movement. We’re glad you’re here (and I’m really glad to be here, too).

Carolynne Schloeder
Director of Mobile Programs, Wikimedia Foundation

 

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Humanizing Wikipedia editing with mobile experiments

The Barack Obama article was started by an anonymous user in 2004. It has 6256 distinct authors. The Article on the Syrian civil war was edited 305 times in the last 30 days.

Many readers do not see the living breathing community that’s constantly working to create, edit, and update articles on Wikipedia. At the Wikimedia Foundation, the Design team has been conceptualizing methods for doing a better job of showcasing how editors create this knowledge. We want people with no prior edits to feel that contributing to Wikipedia is something anyone with the right intent can do.

When we talk about humanizing articles we want to:

  • Create awareness about editors and their interests on Wikipedia
  • Promote connections within the community using shared interests

This isn’t just creating a ‘show and tell’ social layer. We want to see the site’s design to encourage interactions that benefit and improve the project. For instance: If I discovered an editor who helps newbies or works on graphic design articles, I could seek his help in the future. In this way I’m constructing a relationship with other editors that facilitates content development.

Where are the opportunities for adding these elements that show people, their work, discussions and the process of evolution? Currently we see a last modified link at the bottom of the page. The link is buried at the bottom and takes you to another page that doesn’t do the best job of showing how the article evolved. It looks something like this:

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