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Grants:IEG/WikiProject X/Renewal

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This project is requesting a 6-month renewal of the grant, to continue work in the areas described below.


There are two components to this next phase:

  1. Scaling up adoption of the new WikiProject interface on the English Wikipedia through continued outreach to WikiProjects, making it easier to "retrofit" existing projects, and adapting the WikiProject scripts into a more scalable software application;
  2. Researching the needs of contributors to Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons to create a WikiProject experience suitable for those websites;

The first component will be the primary focus of our next phase and require the full attention of our designer and software engineer. The second component will occur (roughly) concurrently, but as more of a preliminary research stage, with the goal of learning about how contributions are made to those projects and what work processes need improvement.

Technical infrastructure improvements[edit]

WikiProject X's main product—the newly designed WikiProject—has a front-end component and a back-end. The front-end is based on an intricate network of templates and Lua modules, intended to ensure a consistent presentation of content across WikiProjects. This makes it very easy to deploy similar-looking WikiProjects—if you know what you're doing. (And most people would not, since this is a brand new system we needed to design to best present WikiProject content.) Since the ability to customize is very important to the Wikimedia community, we would like to work with our current users to make the front-end system easier to use. This work would include collecting feedback from our points of contact at WikiProjects, developing easy-to-find documentation, and creating tools that make it easy to implement the WikiProject design. This work will allow WikiProjects to use the design without any assistance on our part, which is crucial for scaling.

The back-end is on a collection of Python scripts developed during the first phase of WikiProject X. These scripts were written to "get the job done," to create a proof of concept used on only a few carefully selected WikiProjects. With bugs arising (as tracked on our Phabricator board) and a code base that is focused specifically on the English Wikipedia, this will limit our ability to expand beyond the initial pilot projects and beyond English Wikipedia. With this in mind, we would like to bring in an engineer to adapt the WikiProject scripts into a stable, reliable software application that will meet the needs of WikiProjects as more of them adopt our tools.

Improvements on English Wikipedia[edit]

We have done some initial testing on small WikiProjects on English Wikipedia, and our goal is to improve adoption by expanding to more WikiProjects and recruiting more people to existing WikiProjects. We have invited several WikiProjects to participate in a Phase 2, and we await their feedback. This expanded testing will allow us to gather more feedback and develop an even better WikiProject experience for the English Wikipedia.

Expansion to more WikiProjects beyond specifically invited ones will require us to make the tools easier to use. We will prioritize the development of a DIY kit for adapting existing WikiProjects for the new tools, and for creating new WikiProjects with the tools. For improved recruitment to existing WikiProjects, we will look to refine the output of the WikiProject Directory to reduce false positives, and to integrate WikiProjects into other editorial workflows, including the Teahouse.

We intend to focus on two projects in particular. We would like to pay attention to the promising Women in Red project—our current heaviest users of the prototype—and to the Art+Feminism team, which has approached us about using our tools for next year's campaign. Women in Red, as a WikiProject with specific requirements, requires tools that were not developed during the initial phase of this project, but would highly benefit from them as they address the content gender gap. Art+Feminism, as one of the highest profile outreach campaigns of the Wikimedia movement, is a potent test case to see to what an extent an online community can support an offline event, and we would be pleased to help our fellow grantee. We have selected these two projects for highest impact, but the tools we develop for them would be useful to all WikiProjects.

What about non-English Wikipedia? We are interested in supporting Wikipedia language editions other than English; however, that will require volunteers from such language editions. We will consider looking into this as the opportunity arises.

Future expansion beyond Wikipedia[edit]

This project originally focused on the English Wikipedia, a familiar starting point. However, the highest benefit will come from expanding to other Wikimedia projects. We have selected Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons—the two multilingual Wikimedia projects—as our next points of expansion. This expansion will not come as part of this specific renewal proposal, since this next phase will instead focus on maturing our products on the English Wikipedia. In this phase, however, we will begin researching the needs identified by those respective communities.

Wikidata, as the newest Wikimedia project, provides a great opportunity for the Wikimedia movement. Wikidata already provides infrastructural services to the Wikimedia projects, including serving as a host for infobox data and interwiki links (including interwiki links for WikiProjects, letting users find WikiProjects on other projects and other languages). Its highly structured format also lends itself to the generation of automated reports used by WikiProject X to identify opportunities to work. There is also a lot of work that needs to be done to make Wikidata truly useful: identifying gaps and inconsistencies, developing standard data models, and arranging for further contributions of data. This is a collaborative process that requires effective collaboration tools.

Wikimedia Commons is an extraordinarily successful project in terms of collecting media, with over 28 million media files available to the Wikimedia projects and the world. It is also an optimal destination for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums with large collections from these partnering organizations having been donated to the Commons. However, there is no clear workflow that promotes the identification and use of these images. Meanwhile, the English Wikipedia has an extensive backlog of requested images. Connecting these two things together is much needed, and we will work with the Wikimedia Commons community to determine the best way of achieving this.


  • Product manager (James Hare): $10,000 for six months
    • Roles: Product management and strategic direction; communicating with the public and stakeholders; designing and distributing surveys; data analysis
  • Designer (Kim Schoonover): $10,000 for six months
    • Roles: Workflow analysis; usability testing; product design
  • Software Engineer (Fabian Neundorf): $10,000 for six months
    • Roles: Re-structuring existing Python scripts into a more scalable software application; developing new technical tools as needed
  • Total: $30,000


Phase 2 of WikiProject X will boost technical infrastructure for key parts of the Wikimedia movement:

  • By developing crosswiki tools, WikiProject X works to provide better integration between our projects, a priority of the Wikimedia Foundation's executive director.
  • The connection between Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons will allow for higher impact from GLAM outreach, as there will be a clearer pathway for contributions to Commons to make their way to Wikipedia.
  • As more Wikimedia affiliates and volunteers hold offline training sessions, WikiProjects offer the opportunity to connect offline participation with online support, as a well organized WikiProject can help curate resources and work lists—even automatically so.
  • Organizing volunteers on Wikidata by their interests helps improve Wikidata through coordination. Though there are already many wonderful tools that can be used for editing Wikidata, there is currently no clear way for people interested in the same subject to coordinate and set goals. Our project seeks to improve on that by developing better collaboration tools and integrating WikiProjects on Wikidata with their counterparts on other Wikimedia projects (which, incidentally, Wikidata is excellent for facilitating).
  • There is a movement to reduce the gender gap on Wikimedia projects, consistent with the Wikimedia Foundation's priorities. Volunteers are at the heart of this movement. WikiProject X found that volunteers alone cannot sustain a project longterm, but technical tools can help. WikiProject X would like to focus, in part, on providing technical infrastructure to reduce the gender gap.
  • Phase 1 and Phase 2 are focused on improving experiences for existing editors. This is because we believe that it is not enough to recruit newcomers; recruited newcomers need a place to go, and throwing them in the deep end is not an ideal user experience. In the long term, we would like to improve the newcomer experience, and we will do this by developing the best tools for editors that we can.

Measures of success[edit]

WikiProject X has two primary goals: to improve discovery of content improvement opportunities, and to improve discovery of collaborators. Our key performance indicators that measure performance toward these goals include:

  • Number of WikiProject participants, including by self-declared WikiProject members and non-members, and including the number of participants per WikiProject
  • Number of edits made to articles highlighted by WikiProjects through automated worklists and requests from participants

Specific to this phase, we have identified these goals, with accompanying measures:

  • Back-end infrastructure
    • Core
      • Re-engineered backend that works reliably (less than one script failure per week)
      • Wikimedia project-agnostic architecture
      • Implementation of error logging
      • Implementation of tracking mechanisms that can measure work done via on-wiki tools
    • Stretch
      • Interactive worklists rendered on-wiki through a JavaScript client to a service on Tool Labs, eliminating the need to store lists within the revision table
      • Implementation of "to-do list" functionality where tasks are tracked on-wiki, can be marked as "done," etc.
  • Front-end interface
    • Core
      • System for creating and registering standardized modules that can be deployed on demand on a WikiProject using WPX UI
      • Deployment of DIY tools for implementing WPX UI
      • User-friendly documentation of WPX UI template/module stack for end users
      • Comprehensive documentation of WPX UI template/module stack for technical audiences
    • Stretch
      • Development of portable WPX UI kit that can be readily deployed to other wikis
      • Adoption of system to facilitate volunteer translation
  • English Wikipedia
    • Core
      • Use of WPX UI design and tools on at least 20 WikiProjects, including specifically to coordinate the Art+Feminism campaign
      • Creation or improvement of at least 100 articles through tools
      • Support the development of reports and worklists based on arbitrary lists of pages (as opposed to current system which is tied heavily into WikiProject categorization)
      • Fully automated article development workflows on the Women in Red project
    • Stretch
      • Integration of Content Translation extension into worklists
      • Implementation of reference recommendation system tied into Wikipedia Library and/or other discovery services
  • Wikidata
    • Core
      • Identification of needs of Wikidata community
    • Stretch
      • Development of a proof of concept for a WikiProject on Wikidata
  • Wikimedia Commons
    • Core
      • Identification of needs of Wikimedia Commons community
    • Stretch
      • Implementation of image identification / structured data system for media holdings on Wikimedia Commons
      • Development of a proof of concept for a WikiProject on Wikimedia Commons

Community discussion[edit]



Do you think this project should be continued for another 6 months? Please add your name and comments here. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • WikiProjects were one of the reasons I stuck around in my early days (2008-9), and also have a lot of potential, but have been dependent for too long on a couple of maintaining personalities. I would love to see tools that actively brought people together to work through these topical projects more: WIkiProject X has set a great precedent for this kind of work. Sadads (talk) 11:54, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
  • Better tools sounds like a great idea to me. Popcorndude (talk) 13:52, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm very impressed with the work WikiProject X has done with its current round of funding. They are focused and delivered the outcomes they were striving for. The new project template is simple, elegant, and effective. I look forward to seeing what they can do with more time, resources, and funding. Heartily endorsed. - PKM (talk) 18:27, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
  • With a sadly declining base of active editors across all projects, WikiProjects are needed to facilitate better communication and corporation to make up for these loses. WikiProject X has shown remarkable progress in making these projects more welcoming and, simultaneously, streamlined; they deserve the grant to continue the (much needed) improvement to the current system. Kharkiv07 (T) 12:47, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
  • Support Support We think that the important work that WikiProject X is doing will improve new user experience and retention, and help to foster a sense of community and purpose amongst new editors. On behalf of my collaborators in Art+Feminism, Failedprojects (talk) 03:33, 29 October 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: As one of the main contributors to WikiProject Women in Red, probably the most significant environment in which Project X has been tested continuously on a large scale over the past five months, I think emphasis should be given to improvements in navigability. I would also call for improvements allowing users to correct or overrule features of the project which have not functioned according to specifications over weeks or months. The project implementers should also ensure improved communications with users, especially when key features continue to cause problems. Work on listing red links of women's biographies from WikiData (which has been promised but is not yet operational) should be pursued. Improvements to the Metrics function, put forward as a top priority, should be given special attention. I have unfortunately not been able to identify these considerations in the extension proposal and hope matters will be resolved by more detailed explanations. If so, I would be happy to endorse continuation of the project.--Ipigott (talk) 14:40, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
  • Support Support Very impressed with the easy way I could join the Women in Red project. The technical drag of Wikipedia is often an impediment to people helping, especially when discussions and activity on the subject's articles are not easily viewable. It should be as easy to join a WikiProject as it is to join a facebook group. Great work so far and definitely a step in the right direction in removing the technical crap that hinders us helping each other. Sillyfolkboy (talk) 22:51, 1 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Support Support - please continue to support this effort. It makes editing more cooperative and enjoyable. It has helped the Women's health project grow and become more relevant. Thank you,   Bfpage |leave a message  23:43, 11 November 2015 (UTC)