A couple months ago, there was a formal usability test of wikipedia;
it turned up a few problems, one of which stood out as both severe and
easy to fix.
Quote from the pdf, minus graphics --
- - - - - - - - - -
Two users who started their first-time editing with a paragraph
instead of the whole page
were not confused by the syntax. However, they were faced another
problem: The location
of the "Edit" links seemed to relate them with the paragraph above,
not the one below.
Therefore, when clicking the "Edit" link below "Geschichte", they
expected to see the
heading "Geschichte" and its contents.
This expectation was not met, instead "Weblinks" appeared in the
editor window. They
were confused, did not know what to do. Finally, both participants
deleted (!) the existing
and valid text, and started to add their own text.
- - - - - - - - - -
I have just come back from various trips which allowed me to attend,
in my capacity of member of the Chapters committee, various Wikimedia
meetings across Europe.
Here is a little report on what I saw happening here and there.
I attended the annual Wikimedia Polska meeting in Wroclaw on April
30th-May 1st. The meeting consisted of two parts. The first part was a
conference which gathered Wikipedians as well as non-wikipedians to
talk about and around Wikimedia projects. It was all in Polish, so I
can't really report on the exact content of most of the talks, but I
also had Łukasz (TOR) as a personal translator who sat by my side for
some of the talks given (and I hereby thank him).
*Tomasz Ganicz (Polimerek) did a very interesting presentation about
NPOV, original research and how those two ground principles are linked
and important for the building of Wikipedia.
*Jarosław Lipszyc presented his project of Polish wiki-textbooks
writen by schoolteachers, a project designed to make free textbooks
available in Polish schools.
*Zbigniew Braniecki (Gandalf), member of the board of Mozilla Europe
and developper in charge of internationalisation and localisation for
Flock presented Web 2.0 and how Wikipedia fits in. He explained how
Wikipedia was a precursor of Web 2.0 through its social implications,
and also how the Wikimedia projects and the Mediawiki software still
had to improve their usability and accessibility to join the social
and technical implications of Web 2.0
* Łukasz Garczewski (TOR) gave a talk about the different activities
of Wikimedia Polska.
*I gave a talk on organisational issues, stressing the importance of
local initiatives through chapters as a means of ensuring
international outreach of the Wikimedia projects.
Among other interventions I did not follow as thoroughly, Rafał
Próchniak of Creative Commons Poland gave a talk on Creative Commons
Licenses, Bogumił Cieniek (A_Bach) a talk on Templates, their use and
their technical background... May those I forgot forgive me. My Polish
I attended the annual meeting of the board of Wikimedia Deutschland on
May 6th-7th 2006. Every year, all members of the board get together
for a week-end to work on the projects of the coming year.
Among the different issues raised:
*Officialization of the "Geschäftsstelle" for Wikimedia Deutschland.
Arne Klempert, until now Vice-president of Wikimedia Deutschland, has
been hired as Executive Director of WIkimedia Deutschland to start in
October 2006. The creation of the position of Executive Director was
given a go by the Member's general assembly in February 2006 and the
position advertised brought in about 70 applications.
*Run down on the Wikipedia Academy final preparations. Frank
Schulenburg gave a summary of the Wikipedia Academy, which seems to
have hit its target, namely academics, students, teachers who are
interested in learning about Wikipedia and how they can participate.
All about the Wikipedia Academy on the official website:
*There are various projects in the air, in collaboration with partners
as diverse as schools, other non-profits and possibly companies.
*Participations in trade-shows and events in Germany were planned for
the year 2006
*The board of Wikimedia Deutschland also had a lengthy discussion
about the role (or lack of) of Wikimedia (the organisation) in the
conduct of the Wikimedia projects.
My flight to Belgrade had a stop over in Milano, which I used to have
an informal meeting with some members of the board of Wikimedia Italia
as well as with some wikipedians. Around a home-made pizza, we
discussed a few topics.
*Wikimedia Italia has had various offers from sponsors, especially on
the technical side, and needs to find out whether they are viable or
not, reviewing them with the technical committee.
*Wikimedia Italia has been working in partnership with the
"Politecnico di Torino" to develop an offline reader to put the
Italian Wikipedia on a DVD. The reader is in working state and works
with a browser, the technology being based on the html static
Wikipedia. The project is released under a BSD licence, and Wikimedia
Italia is looking for a publisher who could be interested in producing
*I realized something, ie. how boring it can be for people who are not
involved in Wikipedia to hear us all speaking about Wikipedia. Sitting
here, listening to very particular problems involving users or
articles I had no clue about, I had a thought for all our
companions/friends/parents who have to put up with this Wiki thing all
the time. I just want to take this opportunity to tell them I
==Wikimedia Србије и Црне Горе (Serbia and Montenegro)==
I was in Belgrade for two days, assisting a Free culture, free
software and free knowledge festival, originated by Wikimedia Serbia
and Montenegro and joined by other Free-movement organisation. Talks
and presentations included:
*Free art display - some real weird stuff, and some very nice art, I
particularly liked the illustration of 'an axe in honey", a Serbian
saying which displayed a major sized axe in a major sized pot of honey
*Free music and concerts
*Free software, open source distributions were presenting their products.
*Free knowledge (I gave a small talk about Wikimedia)
Many organisations joined this event which was in part driven by the
chapter, among which an organisation about free wireless internet, a
The festival was hosted by the Cultural Center DOB, a state funded
organisation, which is very interested in working with Wikimedia on a
longer time basis, their goal being to try and develop communities
around different topics, whether software, culture, knowledge etc.
Again, the presentations were in the local language, which gave me
little possibility of understanding them.
However, I had long talks about the Serbian Wikipedia, and very
interesting ones, as this Wikipedia is much smaller than those the
other existing chapters are tied to by language. Their problems and
solutions are both the same and very different, which is food for
thought how Wikipedias can help each other (or not).
All in all, these meetings were rich and interesting, and comfort me
in the idea that local representaiton is definitely the future of
Wikimedia. It is very important that we keep in touch with the
initiatives that originate around the Wikimedia projects locally in
order to ensure the maximum outreach, in as many countries as
I also hereby want to thank all my hosts, who were just perfect. :-)
Take a look at this application I created - its called MindMap (at
least for now). What it does is connect concepts (nodes) together and you
can right-click on nodes for Wikipedia entries. There's a lot of work to be
done but I'm interested to look into possibilities. (Beware you need .NET
2.0 - I haven't tried it with Mono)
There was a proposal to overhaul wikipedia's front-page design, and
wikimedia's corporate design, by holding a contest:
But designers are mostly opposed to contests, and pro designers don't
usually compete in them (contests also pose problems for organizations
on the recieving end) -- see Talk,
So it looks like we have an offer from a visible designer to help us
find pro-bono firms and designers who'd be willing to do the site for
free (just not on spec). We should put out a call for portfolios.
Cheers (and sorry about the telegraphic style; I'm a bit tired)
> Michael Snow wrote:
>> Delirium wrote:
>>> Patrick, Brad wrote:
>>>> Don't assume anything. If you are speaking as a person interested in
>>>> Wikipedia, great. I'm sure you have good things to say about
>>>> in Thailand. Good for you. All I am saying is that you do *not* have
>>>> the authority to speak on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation,
>>> I'm not sure if you're new here or what, but this isn't how we do
>>> things at the Wikimedia Foundation. We discuss politely, if
>>> sometimes heatedly, on the mailing list, not brusquely and
>>> Waerth asked if the Foundation had confidence in him to discuss with
>>> this organization; not if he legally has the authority to enter into
>>> commitments on behalf of the foundation, which is quite a different
>>> matter. In short, his question did not call for a legal opinion,
>>> and offering one unsolicited was unhelpful, misrepresenting the
>>> matter, and impolite.
>> This criticism is totally misplaced. Note that Brad addressed whether
>> Waerth could *speak* on behalf of the Foundation, responding directly
>> to Waerth's question. The issue is not limited to whether Waerth is
>> authorized to act as an agent of the Foundation to enter into
>> Lawyers are not restricted to giving legal opinions and nothing else,
>> sometimes they need to represent their clients in communicating with
>> third parties, as Brad did here. Brad's intervention was helpful
>> (because it got across his client's position), misrepresented
>> nothing, and if it wasn't as polite as suits your tastes, it's
>> because more polite ways of communicating this hadn't yet gotten the
>> message across.
> It *did* misrepresent the matter, and does not appear to have
> accurately represented his client's position either, as the more
> helpful and accurate reply by Anthere (an *actual* board member) was
> quite different from Brad's.
> -- Unhelpful reply (Brad): "You do *not* have the authority to speak
> on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.".
> -- Helpful reply (Anthere): "I think that is fine you go and contact
> these people. I'll be happy if something gets out of it. ... As long
> as you do not make believe others that you are allowed to make
> decisions in the name of the Foundation, that's fine. Just make that
> So the actual position of at least one board member seems to be,
> contrary to what you claim, that the issue *is* limited to whether
> Waerth is authorized to act as an agent of the Foundation (he isn't,
> and doesn't believe himself to be), but that it's perfectly fine if he
> contacts third parties for collaboration with Wikimedia as long as he
> doesn't represent himself as being an agent of the Foundation. Which
> seems a lot more sensible and helpful as a reply to me.
I suppose it's convenient for you to overlook another part of Anthere's
reply: "in truth Walter, board members should not themselves speak *in
the name* of the Foundation." In the end, I see no particular
contradiction between Anthere's statement and Brad's. If they want to
play good-cop/bad-cop, that's their business, but Brad did not
misrepresent anything. He was seeing to it that the Foundation's
previously communicated position was clear, just the sort of thing an
attorney should be doing for a client.
Do we have lawyers now to represent the board in its communication with
the edittors as Michael Snow claims? Are we just "third parties" the
plebs? Who if they want to speak to the gods need to consult their
lawyers first? I was always under the impression the lawyers were for
outside communcation, with non-wikimedians. If this has changed then
please say so.
Tim Starling wrote:
> Patrick, Brad wrote:
>> I'm the lawyer for the Foundation. I represent Wikimedia Foundation,
>> Inc. I answer to the Board.
>> You are *not* authorized to speak for the Foundation.
> Lawyer or ex-lawyer? I heard a rumour that your term had ended.
Brad is still part of the Wikimedia Foundation's legal team. However, he
has obligations to paying clients and cannot afford to devote all of his
time to pro bono work for Wikimedia. That seems to have been garbled
into the notion that he's gone altogether, which is not the case.
In this situation, he was simply reiterating a position on behalf of his
client, one that had already been communicated privately to Waerth. I
trust he will graciously receive Waerth's apology and we need not air
this matter further. If the prospects for collaboration with this
organization in Thailand seem promising, hopefully Waerth can get them
in touch with the Special Projects committee to work out the details.
Hello! - my name is Nicholas Barry. I am "willing to take responsibility" for this project, but I don't feel that this description/proposal is ready to go on the actual Proposals for new projects page (so it's on the Talk page). I'm new at the project proposals game, so I would really appreciate help, advice, or constructive criticism. Actually, even hateful, unconstructive criticism could help let me know where I go wrong (ha ha).
WikiActivism is a project for past and present social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, Animal Rights movement, and the blooming Immigrant Rights movement. The meat and potatoes of the project will be a page for each separate movement. The majority of pages (great in number, though less important than the main page for each movement) will list evidence used by or against each movement, organizations associated with each movement, and other such items. (Most links on each page will probably go to Wikipedia for explanation of various terms and issues.)
How is this different than the existing pages on Wikipedia?
It will be more in-depth than the Wikipedia articles. This will include:
Evidence and statistics cited for or against movements
Organizations associated with movements
Detailed mapping of the inter-relations between movements
A deeper consideration of the issues of the movement
There will be sections devoted to the ongoing activity of each movement (almost like melding Wikipedia with Wikinews for these movements).
Each movement will have a page or pages describing practical actions that potential movement members or supporters can take to further the movement
Issues, Concerns, Objections and Questions:
Many of the concepts and ideas on the pages have explanations on Wikipedia, and would be unnecessary (and maybe against copyright) to copy over content from the 'pedia to this project. Is it considered bad form for many of the links on a particular project to actually lead off to other projects? Or is that considered necessary? I notice that Wikibooks has a lot of that, so I guess it's okay.
It is possible that this project will not fall under the WikiMedia Foundation charter, which is to spread information. This project is meant to spread information, but is also meant to have practical information on how to contribute to various movements. Is that okay? Please opine.
- Nicholas Barry
Although this list is about the organisational part of the Wikimedia project I
think it's right notifying you about a new technology (in fact it's
technically nothing advanced but it just rocks IMHO :) that changes and
improves heavily the communication between a central repository like
Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia projects that use it.
CommonsTicker is a tool witten by Duesentrieb for collecting critical events
regarding media files on Commons and posts them to the wikis using the
respective file. Given the Wikimedia Commons <-> Wikipedia problems
highlighted on a recent flame war on this very list I don't overestimate it
if I call it *THE solution* to these communication and quality problems. You
can find its project page at:
This technology *works right now* and has already started in the German
language Wikipedia at:
This page sums up automatically all changes to Commons that are relevant to
de.wikipedia and only those. So people can concentrate on the information
that is improtant to them and don't need to filter and sort the large amount
of maintenance information in Commons for themselves. And of course
CommonsTicker is translateable and customizable in a large range by local
So please spread the word and read
in order to get as well a CommonsTicker for your Wikimedia wiki you are
working at. This is crucial to the sucess of Wikimedia Commons becoming a
true rival to Getty Images and the improvement of multimedia inside Wikipedia
which deserves heavy improvement compared to other encyclopedias. The quality
of illustration and multimedia is the only larger negative point of Wikipedia
in all Wikipedia vs. traditional encyclopedias comparisons.
May be there no lack of interproject communication anylonger.
Arnomane - Wikimedia Commons
When there is a vote for "yet another" wikipedia, it is necessary to
have a code that identifies the new database. As Wikipedias are
written in a language, we use a code that identifies that language.
Typically people say we use the ISO-639 codes for that. This would
imply that a code used has a relation to the language that is being
used and, it should also imply that a wikipedia is indeed in a
particular language as recognised by the code.
The way the Wikipedia are is a matter of history and the continued
abuse of codes makes for often heated political discussions about
languages, it only make things more complicated.When you are
interested in reading more details on this subject, you can read what
I wrote on my blog.
In many projects we use "Babel" templates to indicate the language
proficiency of people. Particularly in Wiktionary and in WiktionaryZ,
we have to be precise when we indicate a language. It means that when
we are to indicate that a word is in a specific language, it has to be
THAT language and not another language.
I propose for WiktionaryZ and for the Babel proficiency to exclusively
use the ISO-639-3 codes. When there are not enough codes in ISO-639-3
we will have to use codes that are clearly not ISO-639-3. These codes
may indicate orthographies, dialects and different scripts and even
languages that have not yet been considered to be a language.
The use of well defined codes will allow us to have our data used
reliably and to define our content better. This will enable people to
use our data and make WiktionaryZ a success
Where possible we will try to connect the codes used by Wikipedia to
ISO-639-3 codes. This will not be possible for several languages like
Albanian; the als code has been squatted by what ISO-639 considers a