Golden Gate Bridge seen from the Presidio in San Francisco 42

This is yet another post about what everyone does in Platform Engineering, this time focusing on the Technical Liaison; Developer Relations (TL;DR) group.

The TL;DR group is responsible for development community relations, ensuring a healthy relationship between the Wikimedia Foundation and our volunteer development community. This team is responsible for removing obstacles to effective volunteer participation, communicating about what we’re up to now, and patrolling for new opportunities for volunteers to get involved and new volunteers to involve.

While everyone in Engineering is responsible for those things to some extent, this team helps fortify our commitment to this. And, just like they prodded me into the last two posts, they’ve prodded me to make this post. Once again, the reason for posting this is twofold: 1) because it’s generally good that everyone knows what it is that the WMF invests in, and 2) because we’re hiring, and we (still) want to get the word out.

Sumana Harihareswara is our Volunteer Development Coordinator, and is responsible for highlighting opportunities and Wikimedia movement priorities to current volunteers, ensuring volunteers have what they need to be effective, and for recruiting new volunteers. For example, she helps ensure patches in Bugzilla get reviewed, and manages the process for people getting access to our version control repository.

She’s also responsible for outreach at conferences, hackathons, and other face-to-face meetups. And she’s responsible for managing our participation in volunteer recruitment programs such as Google Summer of Code and OpenHatch. She also unofficially serves as staff extrovert (when Brandon is taking a break), and makes sure that our meetings don’t suck by being a great meeting facilitator. Sumana has recently stepped up as a lead for the the TL;DR group.

Guillaume Paumier is our Technical Communications Manager, who is responsible for making sure everyone (not just developers) knows what’s going on with our engineering efforts. He publishes our monthly engineering reports, and documents and organizes the information about our major projects, extracting the information out of the staff members as needed.

The largest recent example of his work is the MediaWiki architecture document, which will be the first comprehensive overview and history of the MediaWiki codebase. Also check out the team and project pages he’s designed and regularly updates, such as the Wikimedia Features Engineering hub. Though not an official part of his job, Guillaume is also a talented photographer, and is responsible for taking many of the pictures on the staff and contractors page.

Mark Hershberger is Bugmeister, which means keeping up with priority setting of issues in Bugzilla, and making sure important reports get the attention they need. He also helps organize our code review efforts, and helps keep the momentum going on releases and deployments by making sure that anything blocking a release or deployment gets the attention it deserves.

You can see his work on the triage planning page, the “what’s keeping us from releasing the new version?” page, and the “annoying little bugs” page. While not strictly necessary for the job, Mark also occasionally just fixes the bugs himself.

And now, for the “we’re hiring” part. We are currently hiring for a Quality Assurance Lead. That may not seem like a “technical liaison” task, but this is not a typical quality assurance role. The QA Lead will need to build a community of volunteer testers, contract testers, and probably other more novel approaches to ensure that we can ship quality software without directly hiring everyone that will be testing.

The community-building and communication parts of this job are enormously important to this role. We’re looking for people who are perhaps a bit more gregarious than the typical heads-down test engineer, who are capable of being an evangelist for software quality, and can get others excited about working shoulder-to-shoulder with them.

If you’re interested in this role, please apply! If you’ve already applied, and are wondering why you haven’t heard from us after a couple weeks or so, please apply again, perhaps this time with a cover letter explaining why you want to specifically want to work at Wikimedia Foundation, and what parts of your background are relevant to a role here. This isn’t a standard QA Lead role, so we really want to know things like your aptitude for participating in open source projects, and/or your public communication skills (blogging, speaking at conferences, etc.)

If you aren’t interested in working at Wikimedia Foundation, I hope you at least found this article informative, and that you’ll help us find people who are interested. Thanks!

Rob Lanphier
Director of Platform Engineering