Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario
I met many Wikipedians who I had only known by their user names and the interactions on the hikes were especially interesting. The hikes made for far better interaction than the meetings at the eating table and more so than the organized talks or discussions. One of the people I met was especially important as it solved a mystery. Of the 12400 images that I had uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the greatest usage was of 10214 files on the Vietnamese Wikipedia (a language I do not know at all). The person responsible was geologist Tranh Tu who runs a bot to find useful media. Tu also impressed us with his curiosity and sharp eyes by actually spotting a rock with fossils on a well-beaten trail in the nearby Grigne mountains. The Wikipedia Library connections are useful as always. There were numerous other interesting people who might be too many to mention. I met Diego at dinner on a rainy evening and we are now researching a little-known Swiss-Italian scientist en:Thomas Tommasina. I am now researching en:Antonio Stoppani among several other Italian biographies which are either poor or lacking on the English Wikipedia. Asaf's session on Wikidata was very useful.
I conducted a workshop on SVG illustration with Inkscape for the faint-hearted and although the time was limited and the attendees limited due to a sudden rain, it was, I believe, useful to several attendees (not to mention useful for me as well). I also learnt some new tricks such as the language switch tag to make multilingual SVGs. The section on animating and adding interactivity to SVG's by Gordon Lee was also extremely useful.
I think it is also worth noting the people I did not manage to meet - the key people involved with Mediawiki and its development. While a few individuals working on peripheral features (or even core editing features like the visual editor, I missed Ask a Developer) could be found here and there, there was a lack of anyone with sufficient overview of the whole. The lack of a common interface or a product management team was something I thought was felt by many (and expressed in the form of a question for instance by Shani to a couple of developers asking whether they were interested in the outcomes of a related non-developer-community discussions held the same day) - there were discussions for instance on Commons and the problems of categories and there was no software development team interface for it attending nor was it clear who could be contacted. Of course there is Phabricator but the piecemeal discussions there do not help either the developers or the community much in some cases. It was amazing for instance that the user community who turned up for a meeting on categorization on commons was unanimously in favour of a new system of tags and tag hierarchies (and against the present system of categories - a classic example category that everyone used was "white man with brown beard looking left") and for better search capabilities on Commons. I met Carl, a German musician and Wikipedian who was unaware of the use (or lack of use) of the Score Extension and it seemed to be unfortunate that it did not support a larger subset of the Lilypond specification (apart from perhaps being abandoned by the developers). Several of us in private discussions could see merit with enhancing the watchlist - using the pageviews to examine trends and show trending articles within our watchlist seemed like an attractive idea. It seems that Wikimanias would be more useful if they had a session for interactions between developers and community with a bit of prior planning and prioritization of specific areas of enhancement/contention/discussion.
I have to wholeheartedly congratulate the organizers for choosing such an amazing venue and breaking out of the stereotypical conference in a city with everyone rushing off into the traffic after the main hours. I think slowing down everyone by making them pedestrian was just the best thing ever done during any Wikimania. It gave more opportunities for social interaction.
- New Creation: What was one useful outcome of the event for the Wikimedia movement?
- Add a link to something new that was created as a result of your participation in this event (for example, you might link to a new tool that you and your co-participants made as a result of attending this event, or to a set of articles that the participants in your workshop created at the event).
- One of many satellite discussions was on how the English language Wikipedia tended to be biased against non-Anglophone-countries. We examined the case of several Italian biographies, places and species and it was fairly evident that a lot was missing. To fix it a wee bit, I improved en:Antonio Stoppani, created en:Ermenegildo_Pini, en: Filippo Bottazzi, en:Filippo Bottazzi, en:Hercules Turati and added a bunch of media from my Italian visit (including two personal GLAM visits to the natural history museums at Milan and Genoa) to Wikimedia Commons (also began to use the Wikimedia Commons Android app - and gave its developers some feedback) - several of which are already in use. I was also able to add a few travel tips to Wikivoyage.
- I have been motivated to follow up on some ideas for India relating to librarians and getting them to support local researchers. I am hoping to find some ways to work with Indian librarians in the coming year. I already try to get lay researchers to contribute to Wikipedia by getting them to add a bit as a side-effect of their personal research quests - something I do via a Facebook group - Open Research India. I will try and bounce the idea with others during the upcoming WikiConference in India.