[Foundation-l] FlaggedRevisions status (March 2010)

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Thu Mar 4 05:44:47 UTC 2010

2010/3/1 Austin Hair <adhair at gmail.com>:
> I think it would be great if someone
> on the project could put the initial tone aside, turn the other cheek,
> and let everyone interested (and I know there are several) know what's
> going on.

Hi Austin et al.,

William has already posted extensively on this topic, so I'll keep it
simple. Since our last update in January [1], Aaron has continued to
work [2] through the list of issues [3] specific to the enwiki feature
request called "Flagged Protection". The current version of
FlaggedRevs has dependencies on MediaWiki core that haven't been
deployed yet, and the labs sites run on the same code tree, so Aaron
is now backporting the extension to work with the currently deployed
MediaWiki version, so he can pull the update to labs. Rob has also
separately re-purposed one of the servers from our main cluster, which
Aaron and Rob will set up as a separate testing environment that can
run any code, but which will need to resemble a roughly
production-equivalent system setup so that any observed behavior
matches what we will observe in a full production deployment.

William will post a more detailed update once the new code is
available for public testing. We'll need to test both the enwiki setup
and common existing configurations to ensure that we're not breaking
any pre-existing configurations, as we're not intending to fork the

Looking forward, our UX team has recently contracted Ryan Lane to
develop a new QA pipeline that supports easy spin-up of prototype
sites, as well as automated interaction testing using Selenium. [4] So
far, they've been using Linode VMs for prototype.wikimedia.org, but
their performance characteristics haven't been consistent with our

We're very thankful for Aaron's hard work on the FlaggedRevs extension
over the years; it's really almost entirely due to him that the
extension is now in active use in more than 20 wikis, with more than
1M pages patrolled in dewiki alone. That's an amazing achievement for
one young, talented engineer. And we're also grateful to William and
Howie for helping to guide the process, especially after Brion's

With that said, the concepts of FlaggedRevs pre-date even WMF itself,
and first development work began when the organization just had a tiny
number of employees. As a result, the process has involved almost
every single stakeholder in the Wikimedia movement (having an opinion,
not writing actual code), and as a product development process, been
entirely broken. We'll see it to further deployment, but of course
it's not the panacea that some people think it is; everyone means
something different when they talk about it, and there's a lot more
work to be done in the problem-space.

Through investments like the UX team, WMF is now building its capacity
for team-based product development, and ultimately, the tools we
develop to deal with quality assessment, moderation and labeling (and
IMO labeling is just as much a component of the BLP problem as edit
moderation) will need to be part of our overall product roadmap and be
tackled by the team as a whole. But, there are no shortcuts: new hires
take time to get productive, legacy projects need to be carefully
transitioned, and operations capacity (both staffing and resources)
needs to grow commensurate with new challenges. WMF is doing more than
ever before to serve its mission, but aspirations typically grow more
quickly than foundations.

All best,

[1] http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/01/flagged-revisions-your-questions-answered/
[2] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Special:Code/MediaWiki/author/aaron
[3] http://www.pivotaltracker.com/projects/46157
[4] http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Resources#Interaction_testing_automation
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

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