Wikimedia’s OTRS email response system gets an upgrade

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

Categories: Technology

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5 Comments on Wikimedia’s OTRS email response system gets an upgrade

Powers 2 years

An exchange of goods is not inherent to the concept of “customer”. You are receiving a service from Wikipedia, thus you are a customer.

As for the quality of service, the survey linked at the top of the post would indicate you are in a distinct minority.

Nicolas B. 2 years

I thought Wikipedia was free — free as in free beer. Anyway, I am not a customer of Wikipedia, I never pay when I use Wikipedia — it is even the opposite.

Regarding receiving a response, what you say does not match the reality. I have written several times to Wikimedia, and the replies I received were from people wanting to close the ticket, not to solve the problem. At one time, I got a response saying frankly that, in essence, “we are volunteers and we don’t know anything”. With Wikipedia / Wikimedia, I am used to this kind of no-answer. But, if I were a paying customer, I would not accept such no-answers.

If Wikipedia had customers, Wikipedia would have some quality of service — which is not the case.

Philippe Beaudette 2 years

Nicolas – Every person who writes us an email is our “customer” – they deserve a response. For instance, members of the public who have a Biography about them on our websites, etc.

Nicolas B. 2 years

Since when Wikimedia has customer service ? Since when Wikimedia has customers ?

Maggie Dennis 2 years

There is a major omission in this blog post. :) To the extent that I put the pieces into place, I was completing a puzzle largely put together by Philippe himself.

So, thank you, Philippe, for making this very welcome upgrade possible!

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