For some months, Twitter have been blocking most URLs in their direct
messages (DMs), supposedly as an anti-spam measure.
Do we have someone who has a contact there, who could ask them to
whitelist Wikimedia project URLs in DMs?
On Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 10:26 AM, Pine W <wiki.pine(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm sure a Board member, Lila, or Erik will correct me if I am mistaken,
> but my understanding is that there is internal agreement at Board level
> that the Product side of the org needs some systemic changes, that Lila was
> chosen with the goal of making those changes, and that some changes are
> already happening.
There's agreement at all levels that we want to continue down the path
set by Sue back in 2012  for WMF to truly understand itself as a
technology and grantmaking organization. That path led to where we are
1) As part of the ED transition, Sue recommended (and the Board
accepted the recommendation) to seek an ED with a strong
technology/product background, and we hired Lila Tretikov as Sue's
successor who matches those requirements.
2) In November 2012, I recommended that we prepare for building out
new functions for UX and Analytics, and prepare for dedicated
leadership for Engineering and Product. Sue accepted this
recommendation. I hired Directors for UX and Analytics in 2013,
followed by Community Engagement in 2014, and finally we hired a VP
Engineering last week to complete the process.
3) To better account for the need to learn quickly and adjust course
as appropriate, we introduced quarterly reviews in December 2012 
and increasingly reduced the specificity of Annual Plan level
commitments while increasing the focus on metrics and accountability
in the reviews.
4) On the technology and product front, many improvements to process
and support infrastructure have been implemented in the last couple of
years, including but not limited to:
- Development of MediaWiki Vagrant as a standardized dev environment,
to reduce failure cases due to developer environment inconsistencies
- Improvements to continuous integration infrastructure for PHP unit
nearly enough yet) on automated tests, especially for newly developed
- Introduction and continued improvement of BetaLabs as a staging
environment for all commits, increased use of automated end-to-end
browser tests and QA testing by humans to catch bugs and regressions
prior to production rollouts
- Introduction and use of various tools for measuring the impact of
features, including EventLogging as a standard instrumentation
framework for measuring feature usage, dashboards for visualizing
usage, WikiMetrics for analyzing editor cohort behavior, Editor
Engagement Vital Signs for understanding system-wide user behavior,
analysis of pageview data using Hadoop (just rolled out), etc.
- Highly specialized automated testing frameworks for specific
projects, e.g. Parsoid round-trip testing and visual diffing (!) to
detect dirty diffs or output problems
- Introduction of design research as a discipline in the UX team
(through hiring of Abbey Ripstra as User Research Lead) and
incorporation of user studies in a much more systematic way across
- Community liaisons dedicated to key products, responding to user
feedback and helping Product Managers understand more complex
- Continued shortening of release/deployment cycles; significant
improvements to deployment tooling, rewriting our legacy "scap" tools
to increase the ability to monitor and reason about deployments;
introduction of daily "SWAT" deploys to quickly release fixes, etc.
- Introduction of various infrastructure tools that help us better
analyze/profile issues, including logstash for log analysis, increased
use of graphite for performance metrics collection and various
front-ends for visualizing those metrics
- Shift towards loosely coupled services, addressing the difficulty of
maintaining and improving our highly monolithic codebase (examples
include Parsoid, Citoid, Mathoid, and the new Content API in
- Introduction of Beta Features framework to stage features for early adopters
5) The changes Lila has pushed for since we started include:
- Greater focus on quarterly prioritization and a "rolling roadmap"
rather than a fiscal year view of the world
- Increased emphasis on understanding the needs of different user
personas at all cycles of software development, including through use
of qualitative and quantitative methods
- Reducing velocity of user-facing changes (esp. on desktop) to
increase focus on foundations (platform/process improvements) that
ultimately will enable us to move faster and more effectively
- Documenting product development methodology on-wiki and establishing
a clearer social contract (to reduce the reliance on RFCs/votes
regarding feature configurations)
- Surveying the needs of current users to more systematically balance
projects that serve future/new users vs. projects that serve the users
we have today
- Improved communication channels for community engagement to make it
easier to understand what major projects are currently in development
and how to provide feedback
This already means, effectively, that the commitments in the Annual
Plan developed during Sue's time should be taken with a big block of
salt at this point in time -- we're slowing down the deployment (not
development) of big user-facing features like Flow and VE as much as
needed to ensure that we incorporate user feedback, data and
qualitative research into the product development process
appropriately and spend sufficient time on the technical foundations
for these projects.
The quarterly prioritization alone has been, IMO, a huge improvement
that's already paying off. In the "Annual Plan" view of the world,
it's unlikely that we would have prioritized a project like HHVM the
way we did, because we were generally stuck on the priorities set for
the whole year. But it was very clear that this project would provide
huge benefits to our users, and I'm glad we were able to call it out
as _the_ top priority for Q1 and give the team the space to really
focus on getting it done (almost there now, starting to serve reader
Our draft Q2 top priorities (not yet posted on-wiki, but discussed in
the metrics meeting last week) are consistent with the above, with the
main user-facing push being on mobile web/apps and editing
performance, while the other priorities are more
platform/process-related. Once again, we're continuing to work on VE /
Flow, but focusing more on fundamentals (performance, architecture,
testing, use case analysis, etc.) than accelerating deployments.
My focus over the coming days is to flesh out the details for the Q2
priorities, and then shift to putting more effort in documenting and
refining product development methodologies and processes on-wiki. On
the engineering side, there's plenty of process/infrastructure
improvement to do as well. From my point of view, continued
improvement to test coverage and CI/testing infrastructure, developer
tools, profiling/instrumentation, staged roll-out support and
strengthening of architectural leadership are the big pieces for
coming months, but I'll let Damon speak to his focus areas as he gets
the lay of the land.
VP of Product & Strategy, Wikimedia Foundation
to increase accountability and create more opportunities for course
corrections and resourcing adjustments as necessary, Sue's asked me
and Howie Fung to set up a quarterly project evaluation process,
starting with our highest priority initiatives. These are, according
to Sue's narrowing focus recommendations which were approved by the
- Visual Editor
- Mobile (mobile contributions + Wikipedia Zero)
- Editor Engagement (also known as the E2 and E3 teams)
- Funds Dissemination Committe and expanded grant-making capacity
I'm proposing the following initial schedule:
- Editor Engagement Experiments
- Visual Editor
- Mobile (Contribs + Zero)
- Editor Engagement Features (Echo, Flow projects)
- Funds Dissemination Committee
We’ll try doing this on the same day or adjacent to the monthly
metrics meetings , since the team(s) will give a presentation on
their recent progress, which will help set some context that would
otherwise need to be covered in the quarterly review itself. This will
also create open opportunities for feedback and questions.
My goal is to do this in a manner where even though the quarterly
review meetings themselves are internal, the outcomes are captured as
meeting minutes and shared publicly, which is why I'm starting this
discussion on a public list as well. I've created a wiki page here
which we can use to discuss the concept further:
The internal review will, at minimum, include:
Team members and relevant director(s)
So for example, for Visual Editor, the review team would be the Visual
Editor / Parsoid teams, Sue, me, Howie, Terry, and a minute-taker.
I imagine the structure of the review roughly as follows, with a
duration of about 2 1/2 hours divided into 25-30 minute blocks:
- Brief team intro and recap of team's activities through the quarter,
compared with goals
- Drill into goals and targets: Did we achieve what we said we would?
- Review of challenges, blockers and successes
- Discussion of proposed changes (e.g. resourcing, targets) and other
- Buffer time, debriefing
Once again, the primary purpose of these reviews is to create improved
structures for internal accountability, escalation points in cases
where serious changes are necessary, and transparency to the world.
In addition to these priority initiatives, my recommendation would be
to conduct quarterly reviews for any activity that requires more than
a set amount of resources (people/dollars). These additional reviews
may however be conducted in a more lightweight manner and internally
to the departments. We’re slowly getting into that habit in
As we pilot this process, the format of the high priority reviews can
help inform and support reviews across the organization.
Feedback and questions are appreciated.
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
An interesting piece of corporate communication on the topic was
I've expanded the Meta-Wiki page a bit, including the following additions:
* They number in the dozens and are usually documented in the Meta-Wiki
* Their outcome is often not used for any concrete deliverable, such as
a merged change to MediaWiki core PHP code or a peer reviewed paper.
* Sometimes changes which are known to be potentially harmful, and would
never (or hardly) pass standard code review, are deployed as
"experiments" to bypass tougher public scrutiny. (This is also valid of
fundraising banners, whose poor translations since 2011 are often
actively damaging to the public opinion and understanding of Wikimedia
MZMcBride, 31/10/2014 04:13:
> Of course the stark reality is that A/B testing on users (typically
> readers, not editors) during the annual Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser
> has been a major component of the Wikimedia Foundation's growth.
In part that's a myth. The income has been increased simply by making
the banners larger, brighter, naughtier and alarming (we're in danger,
bla bla). Sometimes they take more space than is left to the article;
sometimes they can't be dismissed.
Weeks go by, and the previous conversation was throughly derailed, so out
of a profound interest in ensuring a high-value event, I am bringing this
up again: we *need to make progress* with planning the
whatever we may end up calling it.
In the interest of moving on to focus on more substantive issues, and in
light of there being only a single bid submitted so far, may I
that it be accepted* and that we devote the rest of the time until the
spring to ensuring the lessons of the previous years be heeded in
preparatory work* by the program team and the affiliates?
 or whatever we may choose to rename it. The previous thread was
successfully killed by the digression into the event's name. Let's try to
keep this one on track, and discuss the name ELSEWHERE, shall we?
 yes, not all the hundreds of people on this mailing list. But this is
still the channel that reaches the greatest number of Wikimedia affiliates.
Wikimedia Foundation <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
We have the honour of inviting you to the celebration of the official
constitution of Wikimedia Belgium asbl/vzw.
Wikimedia Belgium asbl/vzw has been recognised by the worldwide Wikimedia
Foundation as an official chapter, that supports the quest for and promotes
a universal and freely accessible source of free information.
The celebration will take place in the drawing rooms of the president of
the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 12 on
Wednesday 19th of November 2014 at 15 p.m.
Please confirm your presence by e-mail via wmbe(a)wikimedia.org
We hope to meet you there.
On behalf of the board of Wikimedia Belgium,
PS: The entrance to the drawing rooms of the president is for visitors at
the rear of the building at the Rue de Louvain/Leuvenseweg.
Foundation of Wikimedia Belgium:
Become a member:
Our website: http://www.wikimedia.be
At the Zurich Hackathon, I met with a couple of folks from WM-CH who
were interested in talking about ways that chapters can get involved
in engineering/product development, similar to WM-DE's work on
My recommendation to them was to consider working on GLAM-related
tooling. This includes helping improve some of the reporting tools
currently running in Labs (primarily developed by the illustrious and
wonderful Magnus Manske in his spare time), but also meeting other
requirements identified by the GLAM community  and potentially
helping with the development of more complex MediaWiki-integrated
tools like the GLAMWiki-Toolset.
There's work that only WMF is well positioned to do (like feeding all
media view data into Hadoop and providing generalized reports and
APIs), but a lot of work in the aforementioned categories could be
done by any chapter and could easily be scaled up from 1 to 2 to 3
FTEs and beyond as warranted. That's because a lot of the tools are
separate from MediaWiki, so code review and integration requirements
are lower, and it's easier for technically proficient folks to help.
In short, I think this could provide a nice on-ramp for a chapter or
chapters to support the work of volunteers in the cultural sector with
appropriate technology. This availability of appropriate technology is
clearly increasingly a distinguishing factor for Wikimedia relative to
more commercial offerings in its appeal to the cultural sector.
At the same time, WMF itself doesn't currently prioritize work with
the cultural sector very highly, which I think is appropriate given
all the other problems we have to solve. So if this kind of work has
to compete for attention with much more basic improvements to say the
uploading pipeline or the editing tools, it's going to lose. Therefore
I think having a "cultural tooling" team or teams in the larger
movement would be appropriate.
I've not heard back from WM-CH yet on this, but I also don't think
it's an exclusive suggestion, so wanted to put the idea in people's
heads in case other organizations in the movement want to help with
it. I do want WMF to solve the larger infrastructure problems, but the
more specialized tooling is likely _not_ going to be high on our
agenda anytime soon.
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation