tl;dr: We've been collectively whining about templates for long enough. Who
wants to help with fixing them?
In the recent discussions/debacles about technical and stylistic advances,
a recurring theme is that the use of some templates causes major headaches,
and a commonly heard complaint from the developers and designers is that
their products exhibit problems and shortcoming because of that. Anecdotal
evidence I've lately encountered includes:
* The mobile skin obfuscates talk page access because the templates
commonly found on talk pages makes them render horribly.
* The mobile skin special-cases some templates (notably issue templates and
infoboxes) because they would render horribly.
* Media-viewer has a tough time doing to correct thing with attribution and
license information because parsing template-madness is hard.
* VE development has spent a large amount of time around templates, and
it's still one of its weakest suits. Template substitution is still a
problem, as well as templates that produce wikitext that in itself doesn't
map cleanly to HTML tokens.
* Scribunto has been developed specifically because writing and maintaining
templates with more complicated logic is horrible, both from a
writers/maintainers perspective as well as from a performance perspective
All this together is sufficient to assert we have a template problem. The
main editing community has a problem with how templates are and must be
used, the readers have a problem with display issues on mobile as well as
style inconsistencies, the technical editing community has a problem with
writing and maintaining templates, and the development community has a
problem with the difficulty in correctly parsing and interpreting templates
and there contents.
It would be great if this problem were tackled; it would be even greater if
the WMF could work together with the community to identify the pain points,
and jointly take steps to tackle them. Templates are currently
extraordinarily powerful, and most if not all of this power is finding use
in the projects, possibly in ways nobody ever foresaw. As we all know from
Uncle Ben, with great power comes great responsibility, and it's about time
we all took our share of that responsibility, tough up, and fix it.
We should keep in mind that current use is paramount, and any fixing of
templates that breaks the wiki is frankly unacceptable, which probably
means we can't go from insane to sane overnight, even if we could define
sane and insane with regards to templates overnight. At the same time we
shouldn't shy away from fixes that would break some exotic use of
templates, if as part of the process of making things better, before
implementation, we can fix those templates.
I hope we can, for the coming period, accomplish the following:
* Catalog the problems with templates. Make a comprehensive list that
enumerates the problems with templates we have now, categories the problems
(right now I'm roughly thinking in style, wikitext parsing rules and
generated HTML, creation and writing issues (let's hope there is little of
this one left after Scribunto), and usability by editors).
* Note which quirks that lead to technical difficulties are used in the
wild as features rather than bugs.
* Brain storm possible (partial) solutions.
* Find candidates that have high bang-for-buck possible solutions without
impeding future improvements much.
* Refine those solutions so we know quite exactly what it will fix, what it
won't fix, and what it would possibly break.
* Define sane fallback procedures for when things break; this should mainly
come from the editing communities, but could probably use some guidance of
what is possible/easy/logical/feasible from a technical POV from the
* Fix templates.
Personally, I'm all talk and no action, so to get this of the ground we
would need a lot of help. First, we need to know if I'm on to something, or
if this is just the raving of a lunatic (please tell me if it is!). If the
idea is sound, we need to set up the infrastructure. We probably need a
Meta page set up to organise things and set up initial reconnaissance. We
need a lot of grunt work categorising issues and problems from all
perspectives: reader (this is difficult, but many groups that don't
directly represent the readers care deeply about their needs, so that's
something), template users, template maintainers, and template
infrastructure maintainers (developers). For that we need to reach out to
those different communities; this email is posted to wikimedia-l only
(because I couldn't think of a better one, but I acknowledge this doesn't
fit like a glove), but there are bound to be other interested parties out
there who want to help that this email isn't reaching.
What do you all think? Should we make this happen?
For our second round of Individual Engagement Grant applications in 2014,
we have a great crop of ideas. Wikimedians have dropped by to offer
feedback, support, or expertise to some of the proposals, but many
proposals have not been reviewed by community members.
If there is an open proposal that interests you, that you have concerns
about, or that involves an area where you have experience or expertise,
please drop by the proposal page to share your views. This will help the
proposers better hone their strategies, and will assist the IEG Committee
in evaluating some of these fresh new ideas to improve Wikimedia projects.
Working with an IEG proposal may even inspire you to serve as a project
advisor, or to propose one of your own for the next cycle! Comments are
requested until October 20th.
IEG Grant Proposals
This is happening in #wikimedia-office on the freenode network in about
*Philippe Beaudette * \\ Director, Community Advocacy \\ Wikimedia
T: 1-415-839-6885 x6643 | philippe(a)wikimedia.org | : @Philippewiki
On arrival I was asked to describe a few leadership principles and
practices I live out. In my response I included a statement about courage,
honesty, and integrity . These principles are not effective without
applying them. To succeed, one must transfer these leadership principles,
to a vast number of people, enabling them to be more successful.
I’ve found the best method to teach others is to demonstrate .
Effective leaders demonstrate correct behavior and they demonstrate
leadership by acting with courage, honesty, and integrity. This is what I
expect from myself and from those around me who share our mission. Here’s
a quote from Ernesto 'Che’ Guevara, a person who's ability to lead is
'One of the great educational techniques is example. Therefore, the chiefs
must constantly offer the example of a pure and devoted life. Promotion of
the soldier should be based on valor, capacity, and a spirit of sacrifice;
whoever does not have these qualities in high degree ought not to have
responsible assignments, since he will cause unfortunate accidents at any
moment.' —Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare (1960) p. 90 .
We are not soldiers, but we are revolutionaries. And as revolutionaries
supporting the Wikimedia mission we must consistently demonstrate the
behaviors that maximize our ability to build the software required to
fulfill our mission. This is important because our users and contributors
are watching us as leaders. They are watching our demonstration. And if
we are to support them we must treat them with respect. If we don't, they
Che's policy when asking for help from their community was to always be
courteous, considerate, and just. He emphasized that food, supplies, and
help from the community should be exchanged for fair compensation.
Always. He continues:
'The conduct of the guerrilla fighter will be subject to judgment whenever
he approaches a house to ask for something. The inhabitants will draw
favorable or unfavorable conclusions about the guerrilla band according to
the manner in which any service or food or other necessity is solicited and
the methods used to get what is wanted. The explanation by the chief
should be detailed about these problems, emphasizing their importance; he
should also teach by example.'
Call to action: Let's renew our commitment to treat everyone with respect
and dignity. Let's lead by example by choosing our words carefully with
only positive intentions. Open source requires a healthy community, and
respectful interactions are a sign of a healthy community. I pledge to
treat everyone with respect and use respectful and inclusive language.
Please join me.
While I'm normally on IRC all the time, this last week has been special as
I'm migrating machines and devices. Beginning this week I will have a
client on 24-7; however, I will be online for a dedicated IRC Office Hour
on Oct 9, 1-2pm PDT. I would love to hear your thoughts here or in IRC.
All my best,
VPE, Wikimedia Foundation
Hello fellow library enthusiasts!
Our August-September edition of Books & Bytes is full of news:
*TWL is now a Wikimedia Foundation program, moving on from its grant status
under IEG to a full-time contract
*Our *four* new partnerships, including a huge *De Gruyter* donation and a
pilot program with industry leader *Elsevier*
* Lots of updates about our new TWL coordinators, news from Wikimania,
details on a redesigned account distribution platform in the works,
upcoming Wiki Loves Libraries events, and our Fall 2014 conference calendar
* Special Spotlight: "Traveling Through History" - A passionate editor
talks about his experiences using TWL resource Newspapers.com
* Bytes in Brief: Short clips about libraries, open access, and digital
humanities from around the web
You can read it all at:
Jake Orlowitz (Ocaasi)
The Wikipedia Library
Hello Everyone, warm greetings to you all. This is Divyanshi Kathuria
and I am currently pursuing BTech 2nd Year in Computer Science
Engineering. I wish to join this community for OPW Round 9. I want to
work on 'Wikimedia Identities Editor' for OPW Round 9. Please help me
in getting started with this project. And what are the microtasks I
need to perform?
I have a basic knowlwdge of C++, Python, HTML, CSS and Django. I
worked on a Django based project in my six weeks internship. My
preferred web stack is :
Operating System: Linux(Ubuntu)
Web server: Apache
Programming Language: Python
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am delighted to announce that Jake Orlowitz (User:Ocaasi, User:Ocaasi (WMF))
is joining the Grantmaking department at WMF to lead The Wikipedia Library
(TWL), an online resource for Wikipedians to get free access to
In the last year, TWL has helped nearly 2000 unique users access 3000
accounts of sources like JSTOR, Elsevier, De Gruyter, and Oxford University
Press, and is now experimenting with community-run branches in Arabic,
German and other languages.
Jake will be a full-time contractor with part-time support from Alex Stinson
(User:Sadads, User:Astinson (WMF)) for an initial period of six months.
They are both working with an amazing volunteer team of Wikipedians guided
by Head of Volunteer Coordination (User:Nikkimaria). We're particularly
looking forward to seeing how TWL can expand its global (non-English) work,
and what it can teach us about the best ways to support some of our top
contributors, and improve content on our projects.
Many of you know Jake well, but for those who don't: Jake (Ocaasi) is a
long time Wikipedian, with two Individual Engagement Grants from us, and he
has been on the IEG grants committee for the past two years. Jake works
remotely from Philadelphia but is frequently in the Bay Area, especially
during long and dark East Coast winters. Alex has been involved for many
years with both Education and GLAM outreach. He resides in Kansas where he
works on Digital Humanities at Kansas State.
You can catch up on all of TWL's new happenings in the latest edition of
the Books and Bytes newsletter. We're excited to bring The Wikipedia
Library on board and look forward to its growth and evolution!
Jake Orlowitz (User:Ocaasi) started editing in 2007 as an ip. Early on he
worked on articles about religious groups, political movements,
and alternative health. Around 2010 he shifted focus from editing
to helping new users, working in the irc-help channel and developing the Plain
and Simple guide for New Editors  and its COI counterpart . In 2012
Jake began developing projects through the Individual Engagement Grants
department at WMF. He built The Wikipedia Adventure, a playful
interactive game to onboard new editors. He also began establishing and
expanding donation partnerships in The Wikipedia Library to provide free
research access to top article contributors. He helps out as a board member
of Wiki Project Med Foundation  and gives talks about Wikipedia's role
in education. Jake grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and studied
political theory at Wesleyan, before starting a tutoring company in
Colorado. He currently splits his time between coasts, working
full-time on Wikipedia
projects. His contract with WMF will focus on expanding the number and
global reach of Wikipedia Library partnerships.
Alex Stinson (User:Sadads) is a 9-year editor with over 80,000 contributions,
actively involved in different forms of outreach. He
is currently a project manager with the The Wikipedia Library, a long time
volunteer with The Wikipedia Education Program, and supporter of GLAM-Wiki
outreach. Alex has a Masters degree in English Literature from Kansas State
University with research focused on cultural studies and the digital
humanities. He works as a digital humanist at K-State, where he helps
develop projects and create partnerships with educators and cultural
*Anasuya SenguptaSenior Director of GrantmakingWikimedia Foundation*
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
Support Wikimedia <https://donate.wikimedia.org/>
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