Wikimania, day 2

Jimmy doing the keynote thing. From Flickr, by Ariel Kanterewicz, released under the CC-BY license.

First up on Thursday was Jimmy Wales’ keynote, State of the Wiki
This was much better than the previous day’s, and better than the average Jimmy keynote from what I recall. Like many others, Jimmy was banging the strategy drum. I intend to write about it more detail in a later post. One thing neat about it, is that while I was micro-blogging about it, my workmate came online (during her evening) and I pointed her to the streaming video. She watched it with me and we commented back and forth over Gmail chat. Really cool. :)

The first regular session was a strange kind of “panel” with Andrew Lih and Erik Zachte, Interpreting Wikipedia’s Demographic Decline: Implications for an Emergent Communityvideo
It did not quite match the title (it was much more focused on the article count than contributors), but interesting nonetheless. I didn’t find Andrew’s slides online yet, but I will look out for them when they are. One nice slide had “different generations” of English Wikipedia acronyms and terms (first-gen only had IAR, NOR and NPOV – latest has stuff like “semi approved flagged revs” or something…) He also commented that “wikis are good for collaborating on articles, but for policy they just tend to creep like ivy”.

At lunch there was a strategy planning meeting, which unfortunately did not get to the point of much discussion, because there was rather a lot to explain and clarify. Nonetheless I am pondering the idea of creating some kind of general-public strategy-related event in Melbourne.

Next up was a complementary pair of academic presentations by Chitu Okoli and Benjamin Mako Hill (Advisory Board member and blogger). I recall in previous years not getting a lot from the academic track and learning to avoid it, because the presenters didn’t adapt their material for the Wikimedian audience and instead acted as if they were at any academic conference. It’s quite a different audience so I was happy that these two were not this way.

First was Chitu Okoli, From the Academy to the Wiki: Practical Applications of Scholarly Research on Wikipediavideo. He is a Canadian scholar and was talking about a project he has been funded for, to undertake a comprehensive peer review of research on Wikipedia. The four most common areas of research he had found were: reliability, semantic web, social capital theory, medical applications. Of these, I guess that “semantic web” (this probably includes NLP research?) is of the least interest to Wikipedians, since it is kind of a nice side benefit rather than a direct aim of the project. In the next month or two, he will also be posting to wiki-research-l to ask what research questions are of interest now. I was happy to see it get a plug; I wish it was more widely used. There is a bunch of Research information on meta, but it is hard to tell how up to date it is.

Next up was Mako, The State of Wikimedia Scholarship: 2008-2009video – he also helpfully already wikified his notes. There were some papers here I really have to go and hunt down, like the one modelling RFA and the one analysing how ArbCom works. There was also one about a redesign of the edit box aiming to improve accessibility for users using screen readers. And seemingly this research was never pushed back to the MediaWiki dev team which is… a giant shame!

After afternoon tea my time got sucked into discussions, and I didn’t see any sessions. But no worries, because it’s all on video. :D

For dinner I met up with about a dozen other women for a ‘Wikichix’ dinner. I spent some time talking to Beatrice about what it was like living as an expat in Buenos Aires. (Among other things, Beatrice is the author of many of the excellent Wikimania photos on Flickr.) I also found out that Aude will be coming to Sydney in October for the FOSS4G conference! That is very awesome.

I retired quite early to continue my insatiable quest for sleep (I think unexpected heat + mad conference did me in). Thus endeth day 2.

01 September, 2009 •



Pleasure meeting you in Buenos Aires, Brianna! I agree about the strategy session. It will be nice when we can start shifting away from process questions and start focusing on the strategy itself. That said, I hope the process makes sense, I appreciated your questions, and I absolutely hope you’ll host something locally!

Eugene Eric Kim · 2. September 2009, 07:11


This is odd. Everyone keeps saying the session was actually about article counts. Andrew did a few charts on article growth predictions but focussed more on attitudes towards newbees.

I had 15 sheets about views edits, editors and perception, none on article counts. I did plead strongly again article counts in my closing statement, but that was it.

And Mathias emphasized self denying prophecy, again another aspect of stats.

Actually the talks were highly improvised, with sheets flung together last moment, as two key panel members did not show up.

Erik Zachte · 2. September 2009, 18:30


@Erik, well he did discuss quite a bit about how to interpret the charts on article growth, different models and so on.

It was a good session. If it was thrown together at the last minute, it didn’t show it. :)

pfctdayelise · 2. September 2009, 22:50

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