Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Wikimania 2008 wrap-up notes

Wikimania 2008 was a blast. Here are just a few more bits of information that didn’t have a place in other posts.

Wikimania logoImage via Wikipedia

Cool projects

PediaPress is a project that allows you to turn Wikipedia pages into actual books. They have an open-source MediaWiki extension, so you can run this on your own wiki. The coolest thing is that they’re going to be integrated into official Wikipedia wiki’s, so the whole world will be able to get their paper Wikipedia quickly and cheaply. Kudos go to Heiko and Johannes for getting this far with it.

UniWiki is a set of usability extensions for MediaWiki, developed by Unicef. They’re using wiki’s in 3rd world countries to help spread knowledge and to allow collaboration between schools from all over the world. They’ve done some impressive testing and improvement, so these extensions are something you should consider for your MediaWiki. The only problem right now is that they’re actually very hard to find. I’ll try to get a better idea how to get this working and post a follow-up blog post on this subject.

Wikia Search data dumps. While we’ve all tried the Wikia search, it’s not so well known fact that they have database dumps of everything. This should make some interesting research possible. Incidentally, this is exactly what Franklin st. statement proposes.

OLPC in Europe. There were some rumors that this Christmas they’re going to repeat funding drive that they had last year in USA. It’s not going to be limited only to USA, so we’ll be able to get them on this side of the pond.

FLOSS Manuals is a project that’s creating Free Manuals for Free Software. The idea is to create communities around different software projects that then work together to write really great manuals. Some of them are also available as printed versions.

Kaltura – Open Source video editing platform. Idea here is to be able to edit a video, just like a wiki. They have their own Flash player and can fully attach to MediaWiki pages.


General impressions

Overall it was a great conference. For some reason I’ve felt a bit of disconnect with local attendees but that is probably my own fault. Conference organizers did an incredibly good job with the whole organization. The only wish I would have for the next time is to make sure there is water available at the venue. It was a bit strange to only have some coffee and tea available, but it was easy enough to find a near street-corner vendor with water. 


What I learned about future of Wikipedia and Wikimedia foundation

I learned that they are working very hard. But it’s a really young organization that’s only starting to grow. So for now it seems that their goals for next year is to just make the whole operations as stable as possible that will allow them for further growth and bigger projects.

Having better search, WYSIWYG editor, better uploads and more projects is on their TODO list, but to be able to achieve that they have to make sure their infrastructure (both technical and real-world) is working well enough. I can fully respect that.

There was also some buzz on finally getting tagged revisions in. This will allow to create non-vandalized snapshots of pages through time (or at least that is my envisioning of usage).


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Angela Beesley – Beyond encylopedias – The rest of the library [Wikimania 2008 notes]

Nature’s SunshineImage by Capture Queen ™ via Flickr

Wikipedia, 10million articles and lots of articles. Isn’t that enough, so why would we need other wiki’s?


Wikipedia is not a lot of heap of things – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:NOT


So what do you do with these things?


Wikimedia has educational goal. There is another company Wikia, that runs these specialized wiki’s.


Variation of popularity within Wikia


 -> 5000 very active users per month in gaming but only 183 in books

< 10,000 monthly pageviews in health, compared to 11.3 million for WoWWiki alone.


Health wikis

Zh-tw.med.wikia.com is the most visited health wiki at Wikia bus has < 600 pages

Locked down editing is common

 – E.g. – Elsevier’s “Wiser wiki” asks for verification of physician qualitifactions


Wikipedia is far more detailed and complete than the largest specialist health wikis. So health is not really working on separe wiki’s. One of the reasons for this could be that it’s a encyclpedia topic and encourage in Wikipedia.


Gaming content

The content is reguraly delted from Wikipedia. Doesn’t fit the “textbook” model. It’s often seen as trivial or non-important.


Wikibooks also has policy it’s not for for video game strategy guides.


Topics deemed “unenycyclopedic” can thrive on their own. The 3 top gaming wikis have more articles then all the health wiki’s combined.


Comics and Wikipedia

  • Controversy led to creation of Comixpedia
  • Still many comic-related deletions
  • Growing number of independent comics wikis
  • Marvel Database has 26,000 articles.



In 2004 lots of recipes got deleted from Wikipedia. Wikipedia asks people to add recipes to Wikibooks Cookbooks, but it’s often not well received. You can’t add variations of recipes and such.


Wikipedia and social networking

People tried playing chess on Wikipedia, or do social networks. All of these things were deleted.


Wikia builds into software itself tools that allow such operations.


What is needed regarding deletion:

  • Better workflow for information initially in the wrong place
  • Easier ways to find the correct place



A bot takes articles thar are listed for non-speedy deletion

Archives them where they can be reused by other wikis, with full attribution.


What is needed

  • Links between projects:
  • Part of interface
  • Automated
  • Appealing


This also works for languages. It’s also possible to do Geo-location so Wikipedia could suggest right place.



  • Less loss of content; more availability of free content
  • Less loss of contributors
  • Less ill-feeling toward Wikipedia



Jimmy Wales – Wikia search


Search principles

  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Quality
  • Privacy


Designing a search editing process that it’s Wiki like. It’s a very different thing in a search context. It’s about links, much more granular piece of information. People really like debating and discussing things, and not add links without lots of social context.


Wikia Search it’s whitelisting pages that are community related.


When you search, you get different options next to search results. You can edit, annotate, spotlight, delete. There’s a full transparency of who changed what etc.


They’re trying “Facebook style” profile pages. 


Search roadmap

Wikia expecst it to be at least 1.5 years before we will be fully competitive

Their mission right now is to build the tools and community


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Brian McNeil, Craig Spurrier – Wikinews for Wikipedians – How News is easier then an Encyclopedia [Wikimania 2008 notes]

The current Wikinews logoImage via Wikipedia

Wikinews is:


  • Easy
  • A type of document you see every day
  • Goal of NPOV and professionalism
  • Balance through diversity
  • The option to do news briefs


Writing your first articles

First start with a synthesis article.  You gather multiple independent sources and read them, then use this to write the story in your own words. It’s important to attributes quotes and claims to relevant sources.


Wikinews allows and encourage original reporting. This is fundamentally different from the way Wikipedia works. There’s an accreditation process.


Wikinews did some interesting investigative work:


  • Wikipedia usage by U.S. Senate staff members. Discovered some fascinating facts.
  • Wikimedia fundraiser highlights webc-omic community’s frustration with Wikipedia guidelines.


Project peculiarities


  • The Weekly quiz (in german, english, spanish, italian)
  • The NPOV-freee Comments: namespace
  • Email addressees for accredited contributors


The Wikimedia foundation has legal issues with giving out press credentials. So they’re working on a new organization to solve this problem. They’re hoping to have this launched for end of summer 2008.


Wikinews also have RSS feeds. This allows you to get news “as it happens” into your feed reader. They’re expanding this with categorization, so you’ll be able to subscribe to only certain categories.


News-edition weekly, is a printed weekly project done in a newspaper style. Depending upon communities support for project should be available in a few months.


There is also large interest in audio-news briefly, done in a podcast format.

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Florence Devouard – Some thoughts on Wikimania/Wikipedia [#Wikimania 2008 notes]

Wikimedia Logo familyImage via Wikipedia

Alexandria was once a place of a very ancient library – Ancient Alexandria Library. But it burned down, which was really a shame.
In our minds, libraries are often places with lots of “dusty documents” which are not connected. But thanks to ICT we can go and build new libraries that are fully connected.
Connecting points between Alexandria Library and Wikimedia foundation:

  • We need a world where access to knowledge is an fundamental light, and access to sharing is fundamental duty. Libraries often share documents with other libraries.
  • But sharing of knowledge also fits greatly into Wikimedia projects. A wish for future project – 3D representation of knowledge.
  • Time in which Wikimedia grew. When it started it was just 5 people on shoe-string budget. 5 years now – 6 million dollars organization, staff of 18 with offices in San Francisco; 300 servers, brand new clear mission statement and lots of policies and charters.
  • Lots of great new growing projects Commons, Wikinews, etc. Incredible growth of pages and internet rankings. Wikipedia helps 700 million people.

Announcement: Egyptian-Arabic Wikipedia was approved as latest new Wikipedia language.

Wikimania is not just about the project, and technology. It’s really about people.

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Nick Black – Common Enterprise: Building a Business on Free Data [reboot10 notes]

Mr. ZIP promoted the use of ZIP codes for the USPS during the 1960s and 1970s.

Image via Wikipedia

Nick Black, Common Enterprise: Building a Business on Free Data, is involved with OpenStreet made and his company Cloudmade, that is trying to figure out if it’s possible to build business on top of it.

He starts with a point – nothing is free. Most free data has a cost, there are costs associated. Even though I write article for Wikipedia for free, I probably value this time more then the money I could get for it. There also some architectural costs, bandwidth, hardware etc.

Example: OpenStreet map server network card broke, even though it costs only 20 pounds, it costs about 5 hours of someone’s time.

Different free models:

Most projects distribution are free.

it’s also possible to get free at point of collection or creation, like Wikipedia.

There is also lots of data, collection is paid by tax payers, and then it’s given into Public domain, like US ZIP codes.


  • Free to reuse
  • Free to re-mix
  • Free to re-sell
  • Free to alter and transform

Example: taking oranges, and making orange juice at a convenient time for me, creates a great value for me and this way massively increases the amount I can make in the process.

Example: Choosing Zimbra vs. Exchange. Zimbra – 3.5 pound/month, Exchange 4.0 pound/month. Even though Zimbra is free, there is a lot of added value, and licensing at the end of the day represents only 0.5 pound/month in costs.

When the data is free, delivery becomes everything. P2P (Bit-torrent etc.) are examples of how the value changes. It’s not anymore about the money for the CD, but is it worth to me to click and download and listen to it.

Free data as valuable as an alternative hedge against proprietary data. It serves as a way to prevent vendor-lock in because I have commons alternative so I can either help myself or go to some other provider.

Examples of companies that got bit by that are Yahoo and Google maps that have problems in relation to their map providers.

When you are building a business that is available as a data in the commons, it gives you a great advantages.

But, there’s a more interesting answer to this question:

Data alone is not that useful, it needs to be augmented to add value.

Data itself is not really useful, but when it’s combined with software and communities, it gets really powerful. In addition, you want to create a circle that feeds itself and gets better and better with time.

Some comments on distributing free data

Once I distribute something I can’t stop it being redistributed. And we don’t want to stop you, since it’s a fundamental part of data redistribution. You have to make sure that data redistribution is an integral part of your business.

Creative-Commons is your friend. Links are currency on the Internet. Using linking back as an Attribution requirement and this at the end of the day drives back traffic, SEO, etc.

Can I pay people to collect free data?

The reason this is significant, it takes a long time to build communities.

Coase’s Penguin (Yochai Benkler)

Commons-based Peer production:

  • Non-monetary motivation (people have fun, and instead of obsessing over why, lets give them more ways to have fun doing this stuff)
  • Discrete multisize peices (it should be low cost integration, it’s got to be easy to do)
  • Low cost integration

Communities give you so much more.


Aggregate and Organize (Geo-Commons)

Create a Market place (A Flickr market place; Weogeo – ebay for data)

Suppose all maps are free:

  • Value can be created by end product
  • Customize
  • Personalize

.. at the end of the day it’s all about the communities: they greatly enhance the value of data. Need needs to be loved.

If you want to use the community, you have to respect the community. Remember the CDDB? Bits of freedom was taken from the community, until it broke apart. No matter how big you get, the community that built it can turn back and destroy it if you don’t treat them kindly back.

Free data is fine, but communities make it way better.

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