Wikimania, day 3

First, some other reports:

So…Friday. Videos have not been pushed to Commons yet, but you can find the raw OGGs here.

No keynotes to start this day. I started with Wikimedia Australia’s VP Liam Wyatt on Wikimedia & Museums – why we need each other and what we can do about it. It was a kind of presentation of the outcomes of GLAM-WIKI (see also the GLAM-WIKI Recommendations on Meta).

Unfortunately I had to skip out of that early as I had agreed to moderate the panel Authorship, Licenses, and the Wiki Borg with Shun-ling Chen, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Adam Hyde. Now these are some interesting people. Adam Hyde as I mentioned above is the FLOSS Manuals founder. Melanie is a researcher at the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, and has worked with Creative Commons Netherlands and France (well actually she founded it!). Shun-ling is studying at Harvard Law School, and has worked with Creative Commons Taiwan (she was also a law clerk at WMF). So they are a terribly knowledgeable bunch who daren’t be contained in a mere 60 minute panel. It would have been more appropriate if they had 60 minutes each :) And they packed so many ideas into their prepared bits that I am afraid the audience was a bit stunned. More digestion time is required!

A shadowy panel. By mlinksva, under the CC-BY license.

From left to right: me, Damien Finol (Venezuela), Alice Wiegand (Germany), Thomas de Souza Buckup (Brazil), Enrique Chaparro (Argentina) [Manuel Schneider (Switzerland) is not pictured, as he came after this photo was taken]

Next up was my panel on Wikimedia chapters! (You may or may not be able to view the video here. is being a bit strange.) As I has been discovering, there were lots of chapter people at Wikimania. People interested in creating groups around Catalan, Ladigo (sp??), as well as people from India and Iran. Some highlights:

After the panel, whew… it was time for lunch. No, wait, I mean another meeting! Wikimania brainstorming.

Thankyou Twitter. Yes folks, season names are location-specific. Kindly use months. </rant> Anyway that is a very minor nit-pick. The discussion was interesting but not what you’d call comprehensive, and I am not sure any conclusions were collectively reached, except that Wikimania is generally kind of AWESOME.

Last up, I decided to take a punt on lonely “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” on the third floor. Although there was tough competition (I would have happily attended 3 of the other 4 streams at the time) because one session had one of my favourite words: wikiproject. That was Martin Walker’s WikiProjects: Improving Wikipedia by organising and assessing articles. I wrote about page view stats being used in article assessments in August 2008 so I was interested to see if this talk was about that kind of thing.

Now I figured out that Martin Walker was User:Walkerma. His name seemed familiar to me but I didn’t really know why. He has spoken at Wikimania before and was on Wikipedia Weekly... hmm, and also left me a nice comment once. :) Anyway as far as I can tell he pretty much runs the “Wikipedia 0.5/1.0” project and the chemistry wikiproject, as well as doing plenty of actual editing and holding down a day job to boot. So I guess he’s too busy actually doing stuff to tell the world about it most of the time. :)

So his talk was about the wikiproject assessment schemes, which you will see littered all over talk pages of articles on English Wikipedia. Articles are assessed within wikiproject on importance (which is relative to the wikiproject topic) and quality (which is more or less the same across the entire wiki). Bots collect all these stats and collate them into huge numbers of shiny tables, categories and logs.

And all these stats are conveniently provided for the “1.0” project (some kind of print form), as well as being collated back for the people actually doing the wikiproject work. People love stats, and they can be excellent motivators as well as actually incredibly useful in identifying what the most important or urgent work is (if you have many stubs, it should be more urgent to work on the topics which are deemed “more important”). And recently the page views have been incorporated into these stats somehow I believe (not sure if this is across the board?).

Now one thing I still didn’t get straight is which came first, the wikiproject assessments, or the “1.0” bot… but I guess it doesn’t matter, since it is a rousing success all round. :)

I think it’s a really excellent example of the kind of ecosystem that has been allowed to grow on top of the MediaWiki platform. Sometimes it is frustrating that we have to perform so many functions manually, but maybe that just means we don’t have the right bots written yet. ;) It’s useful, non-intrusive, easy to use, and USEFUL! Ticks every box I can think of.

Martin also had some interesting stats about how the scheme has grown, both across English Wikipedia and some other language editions. I will have to wait to see his slides to get them.

Last for the day was Frank Schulenberg with Best practice documentation – preventing to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in public outreach. Frank is the Head of Public Outreach at WMF. I know he has been working recently on ‘the Bookshelf’ I am not really sure if the Best practices documentation is part of the Bookshelf or separate, but he was talking about this, and the idea of having a FLOSS Manuals-style “booksprint” to get a bunch of it written. Booksprints are fun, and it sounds like a great way to get it out of the way… I am still a bit wary about how well they live on after the event, but I suppose it can’t be any worse than if it never gets written in the first place!

Last was Sue’s keynote, which was uneventful (NB: Wikimania sustains me for a year too!), and the traditional WMF Board Q&A session (which I was disappointed to see Matt Halprin was not at).

But then REALLY last was the closing party! In Argentinian fashion, it ran from 10pm to 4.30am, and that does include the meal. :) Very strange for an Australian to eat at 10pm. I could get used to it, mind… especially with the siesta beforehand.

It was good fun, although I did observe by about 2am that the dance floor was mostly filled with locals, and many of the foreigners were standing on the pavement still having conversations, where at least you could be heard.

Whew. Well done teams… you did an awesome job!

03 September, 2009 •



Hi, sorry I couldn’t make it to Wikimania (I had some domestic matters to see to in Europe, all dealt with now). I just wanted to reply to your comment about article assessment…

It was originally a WikiProject thing. Several projects on English Wikipedia started doing it more or less independently in early 2006 for exactly the reasons you suggest: editors needed some way of knowing which articles were most in need of their time and effort. Since then, it’s been taken on and hugely expanded by the people at Wikipedia 1.0, largely thanks to Martin’s skills of persuasion.

The system produces lots and lots of stats, but that’s not the basic idea behind it. It may sound simple, but assessing articles also means reading them, and not just those that might make it onto the Main Page! At its best, it encourages editors to take a wider view of the articles in the subject areas they’re interested in, and pick up problems at an early stage (before there’s 40k of wikitext to work through).

Physchim62 · 3. September 2009, 01:51


Hi, Brianna, what do you mean by limbo in “Thomas spoke about the limbo that Wikimedia Brazil is now in, as it decided not to form a legal body.”

Off-topic: I’ve uploaded two Ogg Theora videos I recorded during this panel (see here and here) and it’s working fine in both formats. Strangely I could not watch the video you uploaded. I used ffmpeg2theora for converting my video to Ogg Theora before uploading it. Did you upload Wikimedia Commons video to blip? I’m trying to understand what’s the source of this problem.


Tom · 3. September 2009, 02:29


Hi Briana, thanks for linking to my blog. Nice articles and content.

Walter · 3. September 2009, 04:54


@Physchim62, thanks for the background.

@Tom, oh… I didn’t realise that had already been uploaded to Commons. I was looking for the links to appear on the Schedule! I FTPed the original OGG to But if it’s on Commons now I don’t need it.

By “limbo” I mean that it seems to me that WMBR’s status, as a chapter or something else that doesn’t exist yet, is not quite settled. WMBR itself is probably not in any limbo because of this though. Does that make sense?

pfctdayelise · 3. September 2009, 12:38


Dear Brianna, yes, it makes sense. Thanks for clearing! Ale Abdo (the guy who answered for Thomas) explained what you meant, but it was even better to read your explanation.

Maybe I’ll test a upload to to see what happened. See you!

Tom · 5. September 2009, 14:03

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