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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

The dream that died: Erik Möller and the WMF’s decade-long struggle for the perfect discussion system

 

By Scott Martin. Scott began editing the English Wikipedia in November 2002, and became an administrator in September 2007. He was so disgusted with its management at the time of writing this piece that he resigned his administrator status to take an indefinite break from editing.

 

 

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The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has, in the last few years, embarked upon a number of major engineering projects intended to modernize aspects of its increasingly dated user interface, with the aim of attracting new participants to the ailing encyclopedia project. Referred to internally by the WMF as “Editor Engagement”, these have so far included VisualEditor, a “what you see is what you get” text editor, and Media Viewer. Both were foisted upon a largely unwilling audience of volunteer editors in an extremely unfinished and bug-laden state, leading to large amounts of discord and the generation of any amount of bad will towards the WMF’s “rock star” developers. The latest addition to the WMF’s hall of software fame is Flow, which looks to replace the complex — yet, to most editors of the WMF’s projects, familiar — method for editors to discuss changes in Wikipedia articles. The WMF plans to supersede the old, familiar method, “wiki text” editing of “talk pages”, with a threaded discussion system more akin to that seen in web forums, or the comments section on blogs and news sites. This decision has been no stranger to controversy, attracting much opprobrium from established editors who both see the existing system as good enough to get things done, and have no confidence in the WMF’s programmers after the disastrous experiences of earlier “flagship” projects.

Flow, however, is not the first time that the WMF has embarked on this particular road. For that, we

…continue reading The dream that died: Erik Möller and the WMF’s decade-long struggle for the perfect discussion system

Wikimedia Foundation’s new VP of Engineering introduces himself

By Stanistani, with additional reporting from Nathalie Collida

Recently Wikipedia’s parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, selected a new VP of Engineering, Texas University Computer Science graduate Damon Sicore. This may well mark a watershed in the WMF’s recruiting practices for its software team, given that until recently, a commitment to spending large amounts of time on Wikipedia was often deemed a more important qualification than actual professional training and experience. Some of the high-profile software hires at the WMF were not sourced from the considerable talent pool in the Bay Area, but from much farther afield. James Forrester, the product manager for the troubled VisualEditor, is a British Politics graduate and former civil servant who has been editing Wikipedia since 2002. Oliver Keyes, another British import, has a degree in Law but is employed as a “research analyst” for the WMF, with a special focus on Flow, a discussion system with severe teething problems. Another long-term Wikipedian, Ukraine-born Maryana Pynchuk, holds various degrees in Eastern European languages and literature. Yet, at the WMF, she earns her keep as a product manager for mobile web communications.

Damon Sicore, on the other hand, is not only local and without a prior history of editing Wikipedia, he also has impressive credentials, including six years as Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla, the corporation most famous for its Firefox web browser. But in spite of his wealth of professional experience, he got off to an awkward start by quoting Che Guevara, the controversial Argentinian/Cuban guerrilla leader, as an inspiration for Damon’s Call to Action. Okay, we all have different heroes.

A few days later, Mr. Sicore held what were whimsically described as ‘office hours’ using the ancient Internet Relay Chat (IRC) system.

If you comb through the logons, logoffs, dropped connections, miscues and other

…continue reading Wikimedia Foundation’s new VP of Engineering introduces himself

Wikipedia – keeping it free.
Just pay us our salaries.

By Andreas Kolbe

The other day, I was fortunate enough to be treated to a fundraising banner on Wikipedia:

DEAR WIKIPEDIA READERS: To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We survive on donations averaging about £10. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this right now gave the price of buying a programmer a coffee, our fundraiser would be over within an hour. We’re a small non-profit with costs of a top 5 website: servers, staff and programs. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. A temple for the mind where we can all go to think and learn. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year. Thank you.

UK fundraising bannerI don’t seem to have been the only one being shown the banner, judging by a rash of breathless posts on Twitter where people are proudly announcing:

I have just donated to #Wikipedia. Help keep it free! #keepitfree

Donations link added, of course.

There’s just one problem here: the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) – the non-profit that runs Wikipedia and other crowdsourced projects such as Wikimedia Commons and Wiktionary – is wealthy enough today to keep Wikipedia “online and ad-free” for about a decade.

So why does it want even more of your money?

1,000% growth in revenue

Under Sue Gardner’s leadership (2007–2014), the Wikimedia Foundation’s revenue skyrocketed, based on fundraising banners designed to solicit small donations from a very large number of Wikipedia readers.

Wikimedia_Foundation_financial_development_2003-2013

The Wikimedia Foundation does extensive

…continue reading Wikipedia – keeping it free.
Just pay us our salaries.