[Toolserver-l] Next level of stabilization

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Sat Feb 28 19:31:18 UTC 2009

Lately, I've tried to make some large improvements, primarily in 
the Swedish language Wikipedia. Sometimes this has succeeded, 
sometimes it has failed or been delayed. Some of the delays have 
been due to failing server functionality, either at WMF or on the 
toolserver. We're victims to our own success. Provisional hacks 
tend to get so successful, that people start to rely on them.

I really want to get better geo tagging going in the Swedish 
Wikipedia. To this end, WikiMiniAtlas was activated some weeks 
ago. The activation went just fine. But the underlying database is 
not up to date. This is because Stefan Kühn is rewriting the 
script that extracts geo coordinates from the database dumps, and 
he has many other things to do. I don't blame him. He's doing a 
very good work, when he finds some time for it. But even if he had 
a solution ready, current database dumps might not be available.

Suppose database dumps were ready and WikiMiniAtlas was up to 
date, and I would have some idea for a contest among Swedish 
wikipedians to add more coordinates to articles with prizes being 
awarded to the top ten contributors. That's the kind of project 
for which I could apply for money. That money could cover some 
costs for the toolserver or for the ticket for somebody to go to 
the developer meeting. It would have many good side effects.

Of course, the WikiMiniAtlas is just one example of a very 
successful toolserver project that could generate such benefits.

Another example: Apparently the Dutch Wikipedia community has some 
tool (?) to facilitate image uploading, that we might want to 
adapt to Swedish.  But that's not running on the toolserver today, 
so we would also have to find somewhere to host it.  This can of 
course be solved, but what would the best solution be?

My question: when we see such opportunities, how can we make 
better use of them?  The toolserver team has a list of "stable" 
services which are (at least) more stable than the rest. But how 
can we invest in making them even better and more stable, so other 
projects can build upon them?

One idea that I had was to transfer such projects to the central 
Wikimedia servers, and make them a part of the WMF infrastructure.  
This would hopefully make the services more stable, and free up 
resources for more experimentation on the toolserver. Lately, I've 
become more skeptic about that plan, since they seem to have more 
work than they can really handle.

Another idea is to set up a separate toolserver for Scandinavia.  
I heard some rumours that Wikimedia Norge (Norway) has resources 
to do this. But perhaps it is wiser to invest in the existing one?

I'm very happy that the new hardware has arrived and is being 
installed. It's unfortunate that it took so long for this to 
happen. How can we make resource planning work smoother in the 
future? There are millions of users who expect us to perform 
better, and I think they will send money if we ask them.

What are we short of? Money? Then say so. People? What kind?

So, who is the idiot that writes this message? I'm user:LA2 and my 
full name is Lars Aronsson. I'm a C/UNIX programmer from Sweden. 
Back in 1992 I started to scan old Scandinavian books under the 
name Project Runeberg, http://runeberg.org/ and after having 
started to scan encyclopedias (not just poetry and novels), 
finding Wikipedia was a perfect match. I've scanned two minor 
encyclopedias for the German and English Wikisource. I've also 
been an active contributor to OpenStreetMap since 2005. I happened 
to visit Berlin in 2004 when Wikimedia Deutschland was formed. In 
October 2007 I helped to create Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden) and has 
been a board member since. In 2008 we organized Wikipedia Academy 
in Sweden. That's not the only idea we have copied from the German 
chapter. We're now in talks with libraries and archives to see if 
we can have some major content exchanges. I've been to Wikimania 
in Frankfurt (2005) and Alexandria (2008).

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

  Wikimedia Sverige - stöd fri kunskap - http://wikimedia.se/

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