Wikimedia Labs: natural replacement or unfair competition?
Last week, the Signpost reported on a feeling at the Amsterdam hackathon that Toolserver developers were coming round to the idea of migrating to Wikimedia Labs (for full context on the migration and why it's happening, see previous Signpost coverage). This week, the theme was picked up by Toolserver volunteer admin and advocate DaB. in a dramatic email to the toolserver-l mailing list where he outlined his reasons for his losing hope in the continuity of the Toolserver as an independent project beyond the Labs switchover date:
Reason 4 are you, the tool-authors. The participation in [a recent survey of tool developers] was pitiful low and the majority of these few who voted, voted to leave the Toolserver as soon as possible or this year – a trend that was already visible on the mailing-list before. So I conclude that the most of you don’t care and those who care will leave this year. ... With very few exceptions none of you helped to protect the Toolserver against ToolLabs; all you were interested in was that ToolLabs provides the same environment so your tools can continue to run there. And it is really a joke to compare the empty new database-servers of ToolLabs with our old and heavily-loaded servers for performance. Let’s see how fast they are [when they have many tools running in parallel]. ... Let’s hope that the WMF does not decide to "re-focus" again too soon. Let’s hope that the WMF does not disable tools just because there are a little slow. Let’s hope that the WMF does not restrict the database-tables even more.
DaB. also cited the introduction of a second paid root who could take over his duties, as well as the lack of commitment to the Toolserver (both spiritual and financial) German chapter Wikimedia Deutschland had demonstrated over the last six months. In short, he said he was upset that tool developers cared about the Toolserver-Labs debate only in terms of functionality and not of ideology, that they "think that the Toolserver is dead, that it is not worth the fight, that WMF has already won. You were the last group I had that supported me with the Toolserver. I had already lost the WMDE’s CEO, the general member meeting and also WMDE’s board. Losing you made it pointless to continue the struggle [but] I can not resent you [for wanting] to move to a place that has a future, may be faster and maybe better administrated".
DaB.'s instinct is probably not far from the truth. Giving a flavour of moderate opinion, Carl (CBM) suggested why he did not share DaB.'s inclination to defend the Toolserver's integrity:
As one person wrote on the survey, "I didn't want to [move to Wikimedia Labs] but, from what I gathered, the Toolserver was going to die no matter what." That sums up my feelings relatively well.
At the more extreme end of the spectrum, while most thanked DaB. for his work as a volunteer, tool developer Tim Landscheidt was more critical:
JFC, what a bunch of self-pitying bullshit. ... You have been gone as a system administrator for a long time. On April 30, you said on IRC: "I have a working cluster with commons+wikipedia here :-)", while actual Toolserver users had been complaining about replication
lag and almost daily LDAP outages for months. ... You neither fixed the simple issues nor planned ahead .. [and you] actively blocked any offer of help. ... Everybody has the right to leave, but don't try to put the blame on others.
The only WMF response so far comes from Marc-Andre Pelletier (User:Coren) who is contracting with the WMF to assist with Tool Labs and the Toolserver migration:
I am saddened that you felt that the Foundation was an enemy to protect against when we are plainly working towards the same ends. That we are in a position to support the developer community with more resources should be cause to celebrate, not bemoan. The Toolserver deserves a retirement with honors, not a bitter parting.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for several weeks. This week's In brief includes material that originally appeared in Tech News, a Foundation-assisted attempt to create weekly tech briefings.
Wikimedia wikis switch to single-week deploy schedule: The latest version of MediaWiki (1.22wmf5) was added to non-Wikipedia wikis on May 29. It will be enabled on the English Wikipedia on June 3, and on all other Wikipedias on June 5. 1.22wmf5 marks the start of a faster deployment schedule for Wikimedia wikis; indeed, the software behind the sites will now be updated every week, starting on June 6. Although not expected to make too visible a difference, the change completes the project started last March to eliminate single deploys containing dozens of major changes, all of which could introduce major bugs (wikitech-l mailing list).
Wikimedia celebrates year of IPv6 support: Wikimedia wikis ticked off a year of IP version 6 support this week. Although few wikis have high proportions of IPv6 editors, this is unlikely to remain the case for languages such as Romanian, given that the biggest Romanian ISP has become one of the first to roll out IPv6 to a majority of subscribers.
Busy fortnight for WMF smaller projects: Away from the big projects deployments (Visual Editor, Lua, and so on), it has been a busy week for the Foundation's other teams, including Editor Engagement Experiments (E3) and Language:
The Thanks feature was added to the English Wikipedia; users can now thank others for individual edits.
The new interface for account creation and log-in is now the default on 30 wikis, including the English Wikipedia, Commons, Meta, and Wikidata. The feature will be added to all wikis on or after June 5. Users can temporarily use the old look by adding ?useNew=0 to the web address.
The PostEdit feature has now been integrated in MediaWiki proper, and will become active across all wikis (bug 48726).
Notifications bug fixed: Opening your talk page now marks notifications as read, for wikis using the Notifications feature (bug #47912). In addition, all autoconfirmed users can now reset transcoding of video files – previously only administrators could do this (gerrit changeset #57286) – and videos will now play in modal, enlarged windows for most users on most wikis.