Apparently, Thomas Wolfe was wrong, You can go home again…

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I today announce the pending return of Brion Vibber to Wikimedia Foundation Tech Department in the role of Lead Architect reporting directly to me.  Brion’s start date will be March 31st, 2011.

For those of you know don’t know, Brion was the first employee of the Wikimedia Foundation and its first Chief Technical Officer. He wrote much of the original code in MediaWiki, and as such is one of a very small number of people in the world who deeply understands the internal, technical underpinnings of our projects, such as Wikipedia. Brion has been much-honored for his past involvement with MediaWiki, including establishment of “Brion Vibber Day”, which was first celebrated in 2004.  Last year he accepted an award on behalf of the original MediaWiki team (Magnus Manske, Lee Crocker, Brion Vibber, and Tim Starling) from the USENIX organization for developing the MediaWiki project.  Brion left the Foundation in 2009 to join StatusNet, an open source startup focused on microblogging, while remaining active as a Wikimedia volunteer.

Since I joined WMF in February 2010, I have been looking for a Lead Architect to work on the future of the platform (both for our use and for the thousands of wikis that run on our engine). The biggest challenge was to find somebody who both understands and can work well with our unique culture and still think forward about what I’ve been referring to as “MediaWiki.next”.  I recently talked to Brion about the possibility of having him take a role with Wikimedia again to work on MediaWiki. I was ecstatic when he said yes.

Brion’s first project will be on the team tasked with re-writing MediaWiki’s parser, which should be both a challenging and rewarding effort, to which Brion tells me he’s looking forward (you can see why I’m so happy he’s coming back). Please join me in welcoming Brion back in the comments, or catch him on IRC.

Danese Cooper, Chief Technical Officer, Wikimedia Foundation