MediaWiki groups and why you might want to start snuggling newbie editors
MediaWiki groups get underway
The Indian city of Ahmedabad is on course to host one of the first local MediaWiki groups.
MediaWiki users (including Wikimedians) can now organise themselves into groups, receiving recognition and support-in-kind from the Wikimedia Foundation. The project, backed by new Wikimedia technical contributor coordinator Quim Gil, has seen five proposals lodged in its first week of operation.
Of those five, one (a local group centring on the Indian city of Ahmedabad) was proposed by a non-staff member and has easily surpassed the three signatures that will bring it into being. Of the other four, a second local group—this one based in San Francisco—has also met the participation threshold. The three proposed "thematic" groups (features testing, browser testing and marketing), proposed by staff, are struggling a little more, though all three will probably surpass the three signature barrier.
The idea of MediaWiki groups mimics that of Wikimedia User Groups, of which there are six. Gil wrote: "This is not about devs alone, but about people interested in all MediaWiki aspects, like testing fresh software, translating strings, participating in the UX design of a feature, helping triaging forgotten bug reports or enhancement requests".
What is: Snuggle?
In the first of a series exploring some of the newer and less well-known tools (editing aids) available to Wikimedia, the Signpost this week caught up with Aaron Halfaker (User:EpochFail), research analyst at the Foundation, about the tool he's been working on in his spare time, Snuggle.
The English Wikipedia is a big project and there's a lot of work to do. One of the ways that our community has managed to make that work more manageable is through the use of third-party software tools built by community members. For example, robots like ClueBot NG and users of tools like Huggle have made damage control manageable and have therefore become an indispensable component of Wikipedia's success. However, like most projects in this community, tool development is best when it is collaborative. Without users and feedback, these tools would have never have been so successful.
The Snuggle user-interface with relevant components called out; a key is available
I built Snuggle in response to recent research (some of which is my own) that shows a decline in newcomer retention in Wikipedia is the result of an increasing negative environment for desirable newcomers and that Wikipedia's current socialization systems don't work because mentors can't find newcomers when those newcomers most need help. Snuggle is designed to help experienced Wikipedians quickly and efficiently identify desirable newcomers who are editing in good faith and help them dodge Wikipedia's sharper corners.
Snuggle has two major components: a server-side component that uses Special:RecentChanges to build statistics of new editors' activities; and a browser-based web application that allows Wikipedians to filter, sort and visualize these newcomers' activities. Using recent change data, Snuggle maintains a list of ~6000 newly registered user accounts and a summary of their first 30 days of editing activity. Users can then browse this list of users and sort them into two categories:
- "good-faith": These newcomers are at least trying to contribute productively;
- "bad-faith": These are the vandals, spammers and other undesirable editors.
Editors looking to operate in a mentorship role can use the good-faith list to find newcomers who are struggling and need help or to send out invitations to the Teahouse. If there's demand for it, I can also add functionality to report the bad-faith users to WP:AIV.
Aaron reports that the system is currently in its early development phase. "I need your help to prioritize new features and to make sure the system is actually usable." He points potential testers to the current version, an IRC demo and feedback session (#wikimedia-office, 4 January at 1700 UTC/11AM CST), his talk page, and a newsletter. Interested developers can also submit bugs, features and pull requests to the public repository.
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation, The Editor Trends Study. http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study
- ^ Bongwon Suh, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, and Peter Pirolli. 2009. [The singularity is not near: slowing growth of Wikipedia]. WikiSym '09. ACM, doi:10.1145/1641309.1641322
- ^ Halfaker, A., Geiger, R. S., Morgan, J., & Riedl, J. (in-press). The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia's reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline. American Behavioral Scientist.
- ^ Halfaker, A., Kids these days: The quality of new Wikipedia editors over time, Wikimedia Blog. March 27, 2012.
- ^ David R. Musicant, Yuqing Ren, James A. Johnson, and John Riedl. 2011. Mentoring in Wikipedia: a clash of cultures. WikiSym '11 173-182. doi:10.1145/2038558.2038586. Note that Musicant et al., 2011 was written before Teahouse
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.
- Deployment slows for Christmas break: The impending onset of Christmas and its associated public holidays in many of the countries where Wikimedia developers are based has begun to push schedules back as the Foundation tries to avoid breaking wikis without having the time to fix them (wikitech-l mailing list). The phenomenon, which has long been part of the software development orthodoxy, will see two weeks become three for two consecutive MediaWiki deployment cycles (wmf7 and wmf8) and will delay the deployment of Wikidata to the Hungarian Wikipedia until "mid-January".
- FLOSS Outreach Program for Women interns announced: Wikimedia's participation in the FLOSS Outreach Program for Women took a step forward this week with the names of the six interns selected to participate (Wikimedia blog). During a competitive process, 25 women who showed interest eventually became six; they will perform MediaWiki-related tasks full-time during January, February and March in return for a stipend similar to that offered by the Google Summer of Code programme. "We have no doubt they can all become top contributors and have future opportunities" wrote Wikimedia technical contributor coordinator Quim Gil, announcing the names.
- This page, served by MariaDB (possibly): One of the main database servers for the English Wikipedia is now running MariaDB as its database management system (wikitech-l thread). Although the practical implication of the switch from one branch of popular DMS MySQL (mysqlatfacebook) to another (MariaDB) should be minimal—initially at least—it is seen as an important endorsement for the open-source project, which seeks to protect the MySQL codebase from any potential restrictions that might be imposed by trademark owner Oracle.
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