Below are reflections on workshops organized in 2022 and plans for 2023:
77 attendees from 23 language communities participated online in 11 monthly technical workshops on bots and scripts development – writing bots with Pywikibot framework, best practices for maintaining bots and tools, installing popular bots such as InternetArchive, interacting with Wikidata via Pywikibot, etc. About 1/3rd of these attendees participated in multiple workshops. And, out of the 23 language communities, 11 were smaller language wikis with less than 50,000 articles and fewer than ten admins, precisely the target audience the project envisions reaching.
Besides online workshops, Small wiki toolkits participated in a brainstorming session in Indic Wikimania Hackathon, an in-person event in Bangalore, India, where 25 attendees discussed technical challenges they encounter on the wikis and their preferred learning formats. With one of the focus areas being developing resources on technical topics, the initiative worked with an Outreachy intern Alexandra Shagzhina to create short informational videos to demonstrate how to use popular tools - promoted as well via the Celtic Knot conference. There were also needs surfaced to improve Pywikibot’s existing documentation Phab:T308063 which were further assessed here Phab:T312992.Participants who attended at least five workshops received a certification of acknowledgment to demonstrate their professional skills via online platforms. Others were awarded a thank-you badge via talk pages that they can use to help spread awareness about the project and motivate others in the community to participate in the learning workshops. Mentors who led workshops will receive swag for their contributions via the Wikimedia tech swag program.
1. Overall, the workshop series was appreciated by individuals from various communities.
Through a survey and feedback session, participants shared that the workshops & related content were valuable for their learning & development and for their community members. They reported gaining specific skills such as SPARQL, Pywikibot and Python programming.
2. Some participants reported that the content was too technical and the learning curve was significantly high
One participant requested a follow-up call with a mentor post-workshop to help them install the Pywikibot framework on their machine. Another suggested developing a low-code approach to extending or customizing the framework to aid novice programmers. Even though these workshops were for beginners, these examples demonstrated that participants needed additional support and perhaps weren’t even the right audience for the content.
3. Participants shared a wide range of technical topics they would like to learn
- Learning about useful tools (for editors, administrators, etc.), creating and deploying them, etc.
- Learning about useful scripts & gadgets, best practices for developing them, etc., for example, creating automated messages to welcome people visiting a language wiki for the first time.
- Importing and editing templates, also Lua templates
- Knowledge of HTML & CSS
- Learning about Pywikibot, developing and maintaining bots, etc.
- Wikimedia APIs
4. Participants shared various learning formats they prefer
- Live sessions - 37%
- Pre-recorded sessions - 12.5%
- On-wiki documentation - 25%
- Other: in-person sessions & on-wiki docs with screencasts as pre-reading material for live sessions.
5. Participants made suggestions to improve workshop logistics
Participants made several suggestions through the workshop series, mainly around offering workshops in multiple languages, in Asia Pacific-friendly timezones, recording and uploading videos on Wikimedia Commons, promoting the workshops more widely, using a FOSS tool for the meetings, etc.
Recommendations for 2023
1. Develop learning content and activities for different audiences
- An advanced participant is already familiar with Wikimedia’s technical ecosystem and has sufficient skills to learn to develop tools. Conduct a repeated version of the workshop series on bots and scripts for these participants. It can be made clear that this series is for participants with advanced-level skills only. One topic to be integrated with the series is Wikimedia APIs, as it is in demand and goes with the overall theme. Before kicking off the series, transfer any knowledge from videos and slides from the previous workshops on bots and scripts into wiki pages. Recruit technical writers via Outreachy to accomplish this project. This would help in two ways - act as the reading material for the next cohort, and tangible material is ready to be translated into several local languages.
- An intermediate participant is more interested in using rather than developing tools. They may or may not be already familiar with Wikimedia’s technology ecosystem. Technical Engagement could find partners in other teams in WMF, WMDE, or the community who could offer workshops or resources to teach how to use high-impact tools (bots, gadgets, templates, etc.) that are Commons or Wikidata-related.
- A beginner participant is unfamiliar with Wikimedia's technical ecosystem and may or may not have a technical background. Based on participants' feedback, university students might fit this bucket. Develop a toolkit in collaboration with communities (e.g., Wikimedia Tunisia User Group) that provides an overview of various language wikis, how they operate, and on-wiki contribution areas to get involved. Other communities should be able to adapt this quickly and, when it is ready, promote it through various in-person events and initiatives (Hackathons, Wikimanias, etc.)
2. Improve overall workshop logistics
Based on learnings from 2022, explore the following areas to make improvements on the logistics side:
- Ensure all videos get uploaded to Wikimedia Commons in a format that makes it easier for a learner to follow. Explore how to get the video transcribed and uploaded with subtitles so it can be translated into several local languages.
- Explore which FOSS tools might replace Google Meet for workshops.
- Organize the workshop in Asia-pacific friendly timezones.
Q3 & Q4 2023
- Develop two on-wiki tutorials using previous years' slides and videos on the following technical topics. These will serve as examples and templates for the future iterations. Phab:T327282 🔄
- Recruit translators to translate these materials into several local languages.
- The Developer Advocacy team develop the remaining five on-wiki tutorials. Or promote a project via Outreachy to develop them using previous years' slides and videos on the remaining topics (using tutorials developed in the previous quarter as a reference):
- [Stretch] Develop a toolkit for beginner-level participants in collaboration with communities. Wikimedia Tunisia User Group might be interested in co-developing it. One idea here could also be to promote it as an Outreachy project.
- Continue to mentor Outreachy interns and support them in developing on-wiki tutorials.
- Kick off the workshop series, starting in March, for advanced participants on developing bots using Pywikibot. Use the material developed in previous quarters as a teaching resource.
- Komla and Srishti to run the first three workshops and/or recruit others to be workshop mentors.
- [Stretch] Explore the idea of running workshops on using tools in collaboration with communities for intermediate participants.