IRC office hours/Office hours 2014-02-12

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#wikimedia-office: Language Engineering monthly office hour[edit]

Meeting started by arrbee at 17:00:20 UTC. The full logs are available at

Meeting summary[edit]

Meeting ended at 18:03:39 UTC.

Action items[edit]

  • (none)

People present (lines said)[edit]

  • arrbee (80)
  • aharoni (59)
  • alolita (29)
  • dcrossland (11)
  • Xelgen (10)
  • Pavanaja (9)
  • brion (7)
  • Nikerabbit (6)
  • matanya (6)
  • Niharika (4)
  • wm-labs-meetbot (3)
  • ugh (2)
  • alantz (1)
  • pginer (1)
  • Steinsplitter (1)
  • kart_ (1)


Time: 17:00-18:00 UTC
Channel: #wikimedia-office
Timestamps are in UTC.

17:00:20 <arrbee> #startmeeting Language Engineering monthly office hour
17:00:20 <wm-labs-meetbot> Meeting started Wed Feb 12 17:00:20 2014 UTC and is due to finish in 60 minutes. The chair is arrbee. Information about MeetBot at
17:00:20 <wm-labs-meetbot> Useful Commands: #action #agreed #help #info #idea #link #topic #startvote.
17:00:20 <wm-labs-meetbot> The meeting name has been set to 'language_engineering_monthly_office_hour'
17:00:42 <arrbee> Hello, Welcome to the monthly office hour of the Wikimedia Language Engineering team.
17:01:10 <arrbee> My name is Runa and I am the Outreach and QA coordinator for the team.
17:01:56 <Niharika> Hi arrbee. :)
17:02:06 <arrbee> My team mates joining in for this session today are: aharoni kart_ Nikerabbit santhosh_
17:02:19 <pginer> Hi, I also joined from SF
17:02:20 <arrbee> Hey Niharika :)
17:02:35 <arrbee> pginer: Hey there.. good morning
17:02:45 * brion waves hi at language team
17:02:57 <arrbee> Our last office hour was held on January 8, 2014. The logs are at:
17:03:06 <arrbee> #link
17:03:24 <arrbee> Hello brion
17:03:39 <arrbee> IMPORTANT: As the topic of the channel suggests, the chat today will be logged and publicly posted.
17:03:57 <arrbee> A quick introduction first
17:04:29 <arrbee> We are the Language Engineering team of the Wikimedia Foundation
17:04:45 <arrbee> Our mission is to build language features and tools to support our wiki communities across the world.
17:05:06 <aharoni> oh hi brion
17:05:15 <arrbee> Currently Wikimedia projects are available in close to 300 languages
17:05:23 <aharoni> hello YuviPanda , Pavanaja , Niharika
17:05:38 <Pavanaja> Hello aharoni
17:05:42 <arrbee> We also release an extension bundle every month that can be used by all MediaWiki installations to make them multi-lingual
17:05:43 <Niharika> Hi aharoni!
17:06:04 <arrbee> We call it the MediaWiki Language Extension Bundle (MLEB) and you can read more about it at:
17:06:16 <arrbee> #link
17:06:45 <arrbee> Today we want to focus our discussions around the recent events related to the Universal Language Selector (ULS)
17:07:37 <arrbee> But we are quite flexible about the discussions
17:07:50 <arrbee> #topic Universal Language Selector - deactivation and changes
17:08:23 <arrbee> As some of you may already know, ULS is the unified language configuration tool developed and deployed on all Wikimedia wikis last year
17:09:18 <arrbee> It provides users the benefit of configuring all language settings with a uniform user experience
17:09:53 <arrbee> After deployment in June 2013, we were notified by ops that ULS webfonts may be adding some extra payload to the wiki pages
17:11:07 <arrbee> Delivery of fonts was needed on several wikis for reasons ranging from basic text display to mixed character text on the same page
17:11:29 <arrbee> But sometimes it slowed down the loading of pages
17:12:01 <arrbee> Webfonts are an important feature for some languages for which fonts are not widely available or well supported
17:12:25 <arrbee> We made several tweaks to judge the appropriate scenarios where webfont delivery can be limited
17:12:51 <arrbee> #info Unfortunately ULS was turned off abruptly on all the wikis late last month
17:13:17 <arrbee> It was not removed, but it was turned off by default and a preference was added for logged in users to enable it
17:13:39 <arrbee> This severely hampered (amongst others):
17:14:09 <arrbee> 1. non-logged-in users who could not use input methods or select fonts (including the OpenDyslexic font)
17:14:50 <arrbee> 2. users with real need for webfonts i.e. no other font works for the language/script of their wiki and they could not find the preference switch
17:15:07 <arrbee> Like users of the Javanese script
17:15:14 <arrbee> You can see a page at:
17:15:23 <arrbee> #link
17:15:48 <arrbee> 3. Content written in ancient scripts like on
17:16:10 <arrbee> Our priority was to get ULS back as early as possible
17:17:03 <arrbee> #info The current plan is to to start re-enabling ULS on the Wikimedia wikis from Thursday evening UTC
17:17:17 <Pavanaja> That is good news
17:17:17 <arrbee> But with webfonts loading disabled by default
17:17:33 <arrbee> We expect all the Wikis to have ULS by middle of next week
17:17:54 <arrbee> The immediate changes you will see are:
17:17:54 <brion> yay!
17:18:09 <arrbee> 1. A checkbox on the panel to disable/enable webfonts
17:18:17 <ugh> if you had manually opted into ULS with the preference, will it be retained for the webfont loading?
17:18:40 <aharoni> no, it's not related
17:19:02 <ugh> ok
17:19:17 <arrbee> For the Wikimedia wikis this checkbox will be disabled by default
17:19:30 <Pavanaja> As such I use system font and not webfont
17:19:48 <arrbee> 2. The preference you may have been using to enable ULS from Special:Preferences the last few weeks will be removed
17:20:10 <arrbee> 3. Also, anonymous users can use ULS again
17:20:36 <arrbee> However, this still does not solve the original problem we were trying to mitigate:
17:20:47 <Pavanaja> "anonymous users can use ULS again" --> this is great news
17:20:51 <arrbee> *making text readable for all users*
17:21:05 <arrbee> Pavanaja: yeah :)
17:21:18 <Steinsplitter> indeed :)
17:21:41 <arrbee> We have drawn up plans to find viable engineering solutions to optimize the webfont delivery feature, *without* degrading the performance
17:21:57 <arrbee> I will direct you here for the details:
17:22:05 <arrbee> #link
17:22:40 <arrbee> TL;DR: we will use event-logging to monitor the usage data in the coming weeks, analyse them and get webfonts back for the groups where it breaks usability completely
17:23:08 <arrbee> where it -> 'lack of webfonts'
17:23:22 <alolita> groups = language families
17:23:33 <arrbee> During this time we would also like to know more about any other severe impact that the current ULS setup causes
17:23:41 <arrbee> Hi alolita
17:23:50 <alolita> Hi!
17:24:04 <arrbee> Thats all. Moving over to the Q & A now
17:24:15 <arrbee> #topic Q & A and Discussion
17:24:18 <alolita> aharoni: can you talk a bit about the analysis we plan to do
17:24:57 <aharoni> it's pretty straightforward, really.
17:25:15 <Pavanaja> I believe already there is an option in ULS to optionally load webfont
17:25:19 <aharoni> mostly we want to know better who needs webfonts,
17:25:25 <aharoni> who uses them,
17:25:31 <aharoni> and how does it affect performance.
17:26:35 <aharoni> one strategy is anonymous logging of "tofu detection" - a heuristic that checks whether the user's browser show squares instead of a real font.
17:26:57 <aharoni> (there's no straightforward way to check that a font is available because of privacy concerns.)
17:27:09 <alolita> how accurate is tofu detection for various language families
17:27:24 <Xelgen> hi all! talking about performance, do we mean server load, ot page load times? not sure if I got that right
17:27:25 <aharoni> we are not doing anything about language families.
17:27:32 <aharoni> we deal with different scripts.
17:27:39 <aharoni> for most scripts it's fairly accurate.
17:28:19 <aharoni> it doesn't work for Chinese, Japanese and Korean, but we don't provide fonts for them anyway, for other reasons.
17:28:34 <alolita> thanks for that clarification amir
17:28:46 <aharoni> Xelgen: both, although we are currently focused mostly on page load times.
17:29:05 <aharoni> we had severe server load issues in the past, but these are mostly resolved.
17:29:22 <aharoni> (also, Xelgen, thanks a lot for the WikiEditor patch you submitted for improving Armenian support!)
17:30:14 <aharoni> now a little more about analytics:
17:30:34 <aharoni> we are going to check how many people actually enable webfonts,
17:30:41 <aharoni> both logged-in and anonymous users,
17:31:23 <Xelgen> (my pleasure, aharoni, have few more ideas, guess will discuss it later in #i18n)
17:31:46 <aharoni> and we are going to check more carefully how do fonts and the lack thereof influence how long do people stay on the site, click links, edit, etc.
17:31:49 <alolita> aharoni - this would be using event logging data?
17:31:51 <aharoni> these are the important parts.
17:32:08 <aharoni> alolita - yes, EventLogging, and usual click statistics.
17:32:13 <aharoni> all anonymized, of course.
17:32:18 <alolita> aharoni: thanks
17:33:04 <aharoni> [ Xelgen - if you don't see me there, do ping me on email... I sometimes forget disconnect from IRC and forget to reconnect :) ]
17:33:40 <arrbee> Quick time check. We have 25 more minutes.
17:33:47 <alolita> any questions on the ULS development plan?
17:34:53 <alolita> arrbee: can you give us an update on when the current patch is planned for deployment
17:35:26 <arrbee> The plan is to start deployment tomorrow.
17:35:48 <Pavanaja> When will be the deployment for Indic?
17:36:00 <Xelgen> Ill have few questions/thought related to webfonts in the end, if we'll have time
17:36:05 <arrbee> Pavanaja: By middle of next week all the Wikimedia wikis will have ULS
17:36:39 <arrbee> enabled with the new checkbox for webfont toggle
17:36:55 <arrbee> Nikerabbit: would you like to add anything here about the deployment plan?
17:37:25 <matanya> will the ULS download fonts?
17:37:28 <Nikerabbit> arrbee: it will happen together with the regulr mediawiki updates
17:37:36 <matanya> or they are all webfonts?
17:37:50 <dcrossland> oops i am late
17:37:56 <Nikerabbit> which means that most wikis get it next tuesday and wikipedias thursday after that
17:37:57 * dcrossland reads buffer
17:38:43 <arrbee> Nikerabbit: Thanks
17:39:13 <arrbee> Pavanaja: we plan to inform all the wikis as well before this happens
17:39:24 <dcrossland> (the OpenDyslexic font license isnt good btw; eulexia is better :)
17:39:28 <aharoni> matanya - they are webfonts. they are downloaded automatically, like images.
17:39:50 <matanya> can they be prevented? to save bandwidth and the like?
17:40:01 <alolita> dcrossland: hi! we are looking at both possibilities
17:40:04 <Pavanaja> arrbee - thanks. I wait for the announcement
17:40:09 <matanya> I mean in prefrences not in the browser
17:40:26 <alolita> for an open source font supporting dyslexia
17:40:28 <aharoni> matanya: yes,
17:40:58 <aharoni> now there will be a preference to enable/disable the downloading.
17:41:03 <aharoni> initially it will be off by default.
17:41:15 <matanya> thanks
17:41:17 <aharoni> it may change to be on by default in the future after we tweak stuff.
17:41:32 <Nikerabbit> if one is deeply concerned about bandwidth, I would recommend trying out the mobile site
17:42:10 <aharoni> [and by the way, we are very-very carefully experimenting with webfonts on mobile, but it's all in the lab. not enabled anywhere yet.]
17:42:41 <dcrossland> alolita: opendyslexic's license is not legal imho, ianal :)
17:43:11 <dcrossland> aharoni: you said "there's no straightforward way to check that a font is available because of privacy concerns."
17:43:20 <dcrossland> aharoni: could you say more about this?
17:43:21 <alolita> matanya: we are considering enabling webfonts by default initially only for languages where the reader is completely blocked e.g. divehi
17:43:31 <alolita> dcrossland: yes we know
17:43:45 <matanya> thanks alolita
17:43:47 <alolita> dcrossland: our legal team is aware of the issues and we're working with them
17:44:00 <dcrossland> aharoni: the google web font loader js uses a div measuring technique to detect the loading of a web font, this could be used to check its existing availability too (if it does't already)
17:44:17 <dcrossland> alolita: eulexia is legit :)
17:44:43 <alolita> dcrossland: :-)
17:44:44 <aharoni> dcrossland: web standards - JavaScript, HTML, CSS - don't have a function to see whether a font is present.
17:44:46 <dcrossland> alolita: but some skeptic-minded googlers complained to me about the poor science behind these designs, so i didnt publish them yet
17:45:00 <aharoni> our tofu detection technique is similar to what you said about Google.
17:45:26 <dcrossland> aharoni: okay. did you see ?
17:45:46 <alolita> dcrossland: we are working with the harfbuzz team on font tofu detection
17:46:21 <alolita> dcrossland: as well as in touch with the google webfonts performance team
17:47:46 <aharoni> hi alantz
17:48:45 <aharoni> any more questions about fonts?
17:49:05 <aharoni> cuz I have a little experiment to announce :)
17:49:52 <aharoni> earlier today we re-configured VisualEditor support in translatewiki, so now all the different VisualEditor modules appear as one convenient component.
17:50:09 <aharoni> it's a small configuration change, but it should make it easier to translate VisualEditor.
17:51:11 <aharoni> you can find it here:
17:51:12 <arrbee> Timecheck again: 10 mintues more
17:51:26 <aharoni> check if your language is fully translated, and complete it
17:51:28 <arrbee> s/minutes*
17:51:31 <aharoni> just 238 strings, not that much :)
17:51:42 <kart_> aharoni: thanks :)
17:52:44 <aharoni> (i call it an "experiment" because the internal structure is new-ish, but it all looks the same to the translators.)
17:53:22 <alolita> dcrossland: i think we missed introductions but i would like you to meet arrbee - our language engineering team's community outreach guru and aharoni - our team's RTL expert, and software engineer
17:54:07 <dcrossland> alolita: i am in toronto with behdad now ;)
17:54:11 <arrbee> Hi dcrossland :)
17:54:17 <aharoni> oh say hi to Behdad.
17:54:20 <arrbee> Thanks for dropping by
17:54:23 <alolita> dcrossland - awesome!!! say hi to Behdad!
17:54:52 <arrbee> We have 5 more minutes and I would like to start wrapping up now
17:54:53 <aharoni> YuviPanda , Pavanaja , Xelgen , Niharika - check the statistics of your languages in VisualEditor translation:
17:54:54 <aharoni>
17:55:01 <aharoni> it's a pretty important extensions :)
17:55:12 <aharoni> s/extensions/extension/
17:55:15 <alolita> aharoni: pretty cool
17:56:05 <brion> nice
17:56:07 <alolita> this dashboard is very useful
17:56:16 <Niharika> 65%. Nice.
17:56:27 <Nikerabbit> thanks to brion we will soon have wikipedia ios mobile app for translation in
17:56:39 <alolita> go brion!
17:56:42 <brion> \o/
17:56:43 <aharoni> Niharika: it would be mega-awesome if you could bring it 100%!
17:56:45 <arrbee> yay!
17:56:54 <brion> and we'll set up the new android one too if we haven't already
17:56:58 <Xelgen> <aharoni>, thanks that's indeed more handy
17:56:59 <aharoni> it should take you less than an hour, and I'm available for help.
17:57:00 <brion> that one's simpler though, known file formats :D
17:57:09 <Niharika> aharoni: I´ll try to!
17:57:15 <Nikerabbit> known, horrible file formats
17:57:25 <brion> :)
17:57:26 <aharoni> translating our apps is also something that I'm enormously proud of.
17:57:47 <aharoni> our really, really, really awesome volunteer translators make the Wikimedia apps the most translated mobile apps on the planet.
17:57:59 <alantz> hello aharoni
17:58:01 <Xelgen> and what are plans for languages where there are fonts available, but default font displayed to majority of visitors, is so bad, people try to read in different languages?
17:58:04 <alolita> aharoni: can you share details about where to find the android translate app
17:58:06 <aharoni> so i'm really excited about getting the new versions up for translation.
17:58:32 <aharoni> the new Android app is not available yet, but the internal technology should be ready, and it should be available Some Time Very Soon.
17:58:37 <aharoni> maybe Nikerabbit has more details.
17:58:43 <alolita> Xelgen: do you mean where no fonts are available
17:58:45 <Xelgen> that's the case with Armenian. And i'm not sure many visitors, understand why they dont' feel comfortable reading it, to go the preferences and adjust font settings
17:58:57 <Nikerabbit> aharoni: STVS sounds accurate
17:59:14 <aharoni> Xelgen: Yes, it's a known problem.
17:59:15 <Xelgen> noep, I mean fonts are available, but they are small, serif style fonts, and look ugly on screen/put strain on eyes
17:59:31 <aharoni> I actually didn't know it about Armenian,
17:59:39 <aharoni> but we do have something like this with Malayalam.
17:59:49 <Xelgen> I know community of Armenian Wikimedia projects would like to have good font embedded and enabled by default for all visitors
18:00:05 <aharoni> what I'm thinking about is to have a kind of a switch that forces a webfont even if a user does have it,
18:00:21 <alolita> Xelgen: if there are other fonts that are available which we can make available via webfonts - we can help you file a bug to track the request
18:00:33 <aharoni> but this is only a thought for the future, it will be based on analytics that I mentioned earlier and feedback from the community.
18:00:37 <Pavanaja> When will ULS be integrated with VE?
18:00:50 <arrbee> #info A quick announcement: We are preparing to participate in Google Summer of Code 2014 and are now listing out projects we would like to put up.
18:00:50 <alolita> and make these available for Armenian
18:01:40 <Xelgen> that was part of the question, can we expect average visitor, to understand that the problem he has comes from fonts? I'm afraid only small fraction of visitos who want a better font, would try to mess with settings
18:01:46 <arrbee> Pavanaja: We don't have a timeline yet.
18:01:57 <arrbee> Ok.. we have run out of time on this channel
18:02:06 <alolita> Pavanaja: ime support is already being integrated - please refer to the phased support plan
18:02:09 <alolita> for VE
18:02:27 <arrbee> I will have to direct conversations to #mediawiki-i18n
18:02:47 <aharoni> Xelgen: ping me in that other channel :)
18:02:51 <arrbee> :)
18:02:52 <alolita> arrbee: that works - thanks
18:03:00 <Xelgen> thanks :) I'll move to #i18n in 5 mins
18:03:02 <arrbee> Thanks everyone for coming today.
18:03:13 <arrbee> #info Our next office hour would be on 12 March 2014
18:03:22 <Pavanaja> Bye
18:03:24 <arrbee> Our mailing list is and IRC channel is #mediawiki-i18n
18:03:33 <arrbee> Thanks everyone
18:03:39 <arrbee> #endmeeting

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