Wikimedia Labs, the project that is supposed to replace the Toolserver in 2013.
On November 24, a general assembly of Wikimedia Germany (WMDE) voted on the fate of the Wikimedia Toolserver, a central external piece of technical infrastructure supporting the editing communities with volunteer-developed scripts and webpages of various kinds that are assisting in performing mostly menial tasks.
The chapter set up the Toolserver in the Netherlands in 2005, and has funded its general budget, which has grown to €100k (US$130k), with some financial and technical assistance from the WMF and some financial assistance from European chapters ever since. However, in 2011 the foundation decided to create WikiLabs (also known as Wikimedia Labs) to perform various tasks, including an approximation of the Toolserver's functionality by mid-2013; as part of the plan, the foundation will wind down financial support for what would become at least partially redundant infrastructure.
After WMDE published its annual plan for the upcoming financial year, saying it will not continue to fund the Toolserver after a transitional period, a debate on the potential of WikiLabs to replace the older structure got traction. DaB, the long-serving "root" volunteer of the Toolserver, said he would resign by the end of the year unless sufficient funding is provided to handle the growing demands on the system. The chapter's management delivered what he saw as insufficient assurances and responded by publishing a proposal to the WMDE general assembly to guarantee future funding.
While the German Wikipedia community set up a survey to make its reliance on the Toolserver transparent to voters at the general assembly, the WMDE board, led by DerHexer, responded by outlining a significant amendment to DaB's proposal.
On November 24, the assembly voted and decided to go along with the changes to DaB's proposal. By this decision, it replaced the assurance to fund the Toolserver until a later general assembly can make a final decision based on the facts concerning what will by then be the established WikiLabs project during a six-month transitional period. During this time-window, WMDE seeks a binding statement by WMF until when and how the foundation's project is going to replace Toolserver functions. If the demand is not met, the chapter will work out a big-picture governance model to run its infrastructure beyond 2013. The text sponsored by DerHexer also replaced a concrete commitment—to both invest in five new servers and guarantee one full-time staffer—with relatively vague wording, saying that the chapter aims to ensure a "(nearly) trouble-free functionality for the Toolserver", but without specific financial or personnel commitments. Out of the chapter's 2400 members, who are largely not active on WMF projects, 24 supported the amended proposal and six voted against the changes (informal protocol).
Merlissimo, who administers several bots on the Toolserver, told the Signpost that his list of significant reasons why WikiLabs cannot replace the functionality of WMDE's infrastructure remains unaffected by the vote. Summing up his views the day after, DaB stated on the mailing list that he was "disappointed", emphazising that DerHexer's changes to his proposal are leaving open significant risks of ambiguity. He said he will announce next Sunday whether he will step down by year's end.
Annual fundraiser update: On November 26, the WMF fundraising department outlined changes to the annual fundraiser. The foundation has decided to separate the main English-language campaigns in key fundraising countries (AU, CA, NZ, UK, US) from a later campaign in other parts of the world to be held in April 2013. The foundation anticipates that this arrangement will reduce the overall campaign days per country.
Arbitration Committee leaks: An arbitrator has leaked private emails from the arbcom-l mailing list to a third party, leading to a motion to remove her access to advanced permissions and the arbitration mailing lists. This is not the first time emails from the Arbitration Committee's mailing lists have been leaked: emails from arbcom-l were leaked in 2009 and on Wikipedia Review in 2011 (Signpost coverage).
Four new administrators: Monty845 (RfA), a lawyer from New York and a Wikipedian since 2007; Bgwhite (RfA), who has more than 200,000 edits to his name since joining the community in 2005; Basalisk (RfA), a doctor and a Wikipedian since 2005; and Sergecross73 (RfA), who has accumulated over 16,000 edits since 2008, have all been granted administrator user-rights after successfully passing the Requests for adminship process.
The total number of new administrators in this week alone dwarfs the number promoted in September and October, which saw only one promoted, and the total this month (five) marks the second-most administrators promoted in one month since May 2011. Still, the number of active administrators has continued to fall since the Signpostreported on the subject in June of this year—it is currently at 662, down from a peak of 1,021 in mid-2008 and 705 in June.
Semanticpedia: Wikimedia France has announced it has signed an agreement with the French government to cooperate on the set-up of Semanticpedia, a project designed to enhance the proportion of French Wikipedia articles extractable by DBpedia by 20–30%.
Wikinews request for closure fails: On November 19, a proposal to close down the English Wikinews was defeated.
Wikimedia Australia elections: On November 25, acrimonious board elections for Wikimedia Australia ended as John Vandenberg successfully faced down a challenge for the presidency by his former deputy, Laura Hale. A list of newly elected board members and a table of former members is at the chapter's wiki.
Wikimedia Chapters Association place of registration settled: Eight months after a number of Wikimedia chapters embarked on a collective effort to coordinate their work more effectively, their representatives settled by vote where to register the sought after organization: Geneva in Switzerland. The resolution emphasizes that the decision does not predetermine where the WCA might set up an office in the future.
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