On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 12:41, Mike Peel <michael.peel(a)wikimedia.org.uk> wrote:
A hackathon in the uk would be great. My main worry
with it would be having enough developers turn up at it, though. There are a lot of German
mediawiki developers, which means that the events in Berlin are always successful, but
there are a lot fewer devs in the uk. So I suspect the main focus of at least the first
hackathon would be introducing people to the code - which then needs a cadre of current
developers to lead, teach and assist as they make their first commits.
I'd love to hear thoughts from others about this - particularly from any devs on this
I'm not a MediaWiki developer, but I have helped to organise three
BarCamp events. These are overnight events done for very little money
in partnership with a variety of companies or universities.
We run overnight events in central London with three hundred
developers and other interested people for a fraction of the cost of a
similar commercial event. How? Well, we organise them in kind of a
wiki way. Early BarCamps used to simply be people putting up "hey,
we've got this space for the weekend, we need food, wifi etc., stick
down on the wiki what you can provide".
I'd be very interested in having some kind of Wikimedia/free culture
hack day, perhaps at a university over a weekend. There are a variety
of sponsors we could approach to do this.
I wouldn't worry too much about the existing Wikimedia developers:
they have events to go to. But getting more people involved from
outside the Wiki[p|m]edia community is something we should do: there
are plenty of developers I know who have great good will towards
projects like Wikipedia and probably would be interested in getting
involved, building hacks and so on.
A hack day type event usually takes this form:
09:00 - 10:00 Breakfast
10:00 - 10:30 Welcome / Intro
10:30 - 12:30 Intro sessions: ideas, technical stuff etc.
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch and START HACKING
08:00 - 10:00 Breakfast
13:00 Lunch, stop hacking
14:00 present things people have built, then give out prizes.
Who might be able to run such an event? At BarCamp, we've hosted them
at The Guardian (near Kings Cross), IBM (South Bank) and City
University (near Angel station). A number of hack days have been run
at The Guardian, and I helped run WarbleCamp there (a Twitter hack
day). We've also had events at eBay/PayPal (Richmond) and Google (near
For Wikimedia UK/WMF, it could be seen as a form of developer
evangelism - see http://developer-evangelism.com/
It might draw more people into working on stuff for toolserver,
helping run bots, fixing long-standing issues (maybe some awesome
image recognition person will turn up and write bots to go tag stuff
on Commons), or maybe we'll just get cool ideas out of it. Either way,
people will probably go home from it with a better feeling about
Wikipedia, and next time they think "I should build a mashup", it may
be that they decide to hack on MediaWiki or Wikimedia API stuff rather
than Twitter or Facebook.
When I started writing this e-mail, I tweeted asking if anyone would
be interested in having a Wikimedia hack day in London. I've already
had two positive responses from BarCamp/hack day regulars and Kevin
Prince, one of the co-organisers of BarCamp London and a number of
hack days, has retweeted it.
If there is interest in doing this kind of thing, we could do it in a
very lightweight and cost-effective way by following the sort of model
used by BarCamps, hack days and HackCamps.