Barely a week after Wikimedia’s volunteer-driven email response team helped Wikipedia score number one in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index’s “Internet and Social Media,” survey, the software being used to make this happen got its first upgrade in four years. This happened thanks in large part to a generous donation of time and service by Martin Edenhofer’s consulting firm Znuny GmbH.

Emails to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation’s ten other free knowledge projects are processed by free software called the Open-Ticket Request System or “OTRS.” OTRS was developed in 2001 by Martin Edenhofer and has been used by the Wikimedia Foundation since volunteers began responding to emails in 2004. Until this week, the email response team used an OTRS system that had not been upgraded since 2009, running version 2.4. The sheer volume of emails Wikimedia has received  (nearly a million emails are stored from the last 9 years!) made the feasibility of an upgrade seem to be an impossible task.

Commenting on a bug that had been filed in 2010 to request a software upgrade, Martin Edenhofer himself offered his OTRS consulting company to assist with the huge task of the upgrade as a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation. Fast forward to a little over a year later and all the pieces were put in to place by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Maggie Dennis. Znuny’s Marcel Fratczak and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Jeff Green then spent several long days upgrading Wikimedia’s OTRS system to the latest version (3.2.9) and migrated the database to a new server.

Thanks to this great upgrade to the tool we use for responding to emails from the general public, the Wikimedia volunteers who process emails tirelessly behind the scenes have the ability to work much more efficiently and effectively to make sure that the high quality of personal customer service continues.

Philippe Beaudette
Director, Community Advocacy, Wikimedia Foundation