Tech/Ambassadors/Role

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Hello! Thank you for wanting to help. This page lists some ways that you can help improve communication for the wikis you are active in (your communities). We try to make it easier for less-technical editors and readers to learn about, and talk about, technical changes. This page tries to help anyone from the smallest communities to the largest, become a good tech ambassador for your communities.

Which skills are needed?[edit]

You don't need to be a developer, or a script maintainer to become an ambassador: we are looking for curious, communicative users who know how to use the wikis a bit.

Basically people:

  • who know where to leave messages and special announcement to the communities they are used to work with,
  • who understand enough of English (for instance, be able to understand the current page) to communicate with others.

No worries about grammar or misspellings when communicating with others: most people you are going to interact with are not native English speakers!

List yourself[edit]

Add your name to Tech/Ambassadors/List. This list is used to find active technical editors at each wiki, and to check where we do not yet have coverage.

Watchlist your communities' Village Pump(s) or Technical Help Desk[edit]

  • You keep track of the various pages where your communities regularly discusses technical challenges.
    • You can do that using your watchlist or RSS.
    • Those places are where people tend to report changes they are not aware of. Not everyone reads Tech News or notice announcement for new features.
  • When you can, you help solve issues, help to report bugs, or ask for outside help when you cannot. (See more on that, below)
  • You try to stay aware of the technical problems that members of your communities most often have, and you think about how to improve things.
    • E.g. If you notice that a problem regularly re-occurs, then perhaps you help improve local documentation, or perhaps you research the MediaWiki defaults to see if the problem exists elsewhere so that it can potentially be improved for many communities.

Subscribe to Tech News[edit]

Tech/News is a newsletter that is delivered weekly to over 700 pages across hundreds of wikis. It contains items of technical interest to the whole movement.

  • You should read through the newsletter every week, and think about which users in your communities might be affected by any particular change.
    • E.g. If you see an item about CSS in templates, and you know there are a few editors in your communities who often help to write/fix CSS and templates, then you could let them know, and perhaps translate the main highlights of the feature's documentation page into your language for their benefit.
  • You can help write Tech News each week. You can add new entries, or asking for clarifications on new inputs.

Subscribe to the wikitech-ambassadors mailing list[edit]

wikitech-ambassadors@ is a mailing list for all of us.

  • You should use an email address that you check regularly.
  • The list usually only receives about 20 emails per month, and they mostly consist of recurring reminders and announcements. However, it will sometimes include a high-urgency announcement or question about a change that might affect your communities, e.g. a change to Language Converter that was occurring the next day.[1]
  • There are over 800 subscribers, many of whom only want the high-urgency information, so this is not a good location for long discussions. However it is a good place to post pointers to relevant discussions, in order to get wider input from a diverse and semi-technical group.

Learn your way around Phabricator[edit]

Phabricator is used by Wikimedia for project management, software bug reporting, and feature requests in the MediaWiki software and its extensions. It contains many thousands of individual "tasks". It will be one of the main places that you go to search for answers, or share what you have to say.

Report bugs and feature-requests in Phabricator[edit]

  • Use the search, before writing a new task. There are many existing tasks, and some of them just need more use-cases explained, details clarified, or reproduction steps added, so that developers and managers can better understand them. You can edit an existing task description to make it clearer, or add a comment.
  • Help the people in your communities to file clearly-written tasks in Phabricator. See mw:How to report a bug for detailed tips, but always remember the top 4 points:
    1. Be precise
    2. Be clear: explain how to reproduce the problem, step by step, so others can reproduce the bug, or understand the request.
    3. Include only one problem per task.
    4. Include any relevant links and examples: Examples and specific links always help the developers and managers to understand something more clearly! Include links to things such as: a few recent examples of a problem; previous onwiki discussions; any existing feature documentation; or a comparison from another wiki.
  • Demonstrate good practices in communication, such as civility and clarity. Be patient when there is confusion or disagreement. Provide examples, links, and other contextual information whenever possible.
  • Help the developers to understand the concerns / bugs / feature-requests that your communities have. Sometimes a task just needs to be translated into English, but often it is helpful if you add some additional information, such as more examples of a problem, or more use-cases for a requested new feature.

Join the Phabricator tag for #tech-ambassadors[edit]

phab:tag/tech-ambassadors is used to flag changes that require tech ambassadors' attention and/or action, when a mere email to the mailing list won't do. It is an experimental tag has only been used a few times so far.

  • Please click "Watch project" at phab:project/members/3302/. Then you will get notifications/emails for various actions that happen to each task that use this #tag. You can configure which actions, in your preferences. See the documentation at Phabricator/Help#Notifications for more details and suggestions.
  • The #tag currently works like this:
    1. When a suitable task exists, a Community Relations Specialist will add the tag #tech-ambassadors to it so that it appears on the workboard.
    2. The task is then moved to the suitable column to flag why it needs tech ambassadors' attention and/or action. A comment will also be added at the bottom of said task with specific instructions, of course (for example, "this needs to be posted on the village pump of all the wikiprojects in Spanish").
    3. When the work is completed, the task gets moved to the "Archive" column, and that's it.

Subscribe to the Tech Showcase newsletter[edit]

Newsletter:Tech Showcase is an experimental newsletter that aims to share news about interesting software plans, prototypes, and releases.

  • So far, each edition has been a single link pointing to a new tool, or a new request for feedback. The entries are usually not of sufficiently wide-interest to be in Tech News, but they might be of interest to you or someone you know!
  • Please share your suggestions on the newsletter's talkpage, for items to include in it, and for ways to improve the newsletter itself as it (and the software behind it) slowly grows.

Ask for help when you need it[edit]

  • Ask each other questions whenever you are unsure. It may help to clarify something for others too. We are all constantly learning!
  • Use the search, before asking.
    • If you answer someone else's question using a search, then perhaps tell them which keywords / locations you searched. Help each other learn!
  • See Tech/Ambassadors#communicate for a list of good places to ask questions.

Help your communities to participate in giving regular feedback[edit]

There are frequently requests for feedback, on some piece of software that is currently in a planning or development stage. The more feedback we can get from diverse wikis, the better.

  • You can give feedback yourself.
  • You can pass along the request to specific people in your communities who might be able to help, and at relevant project talkpages.
    • E.g. If you know a few editors who specialize in a task (e.g. welcoming and assisting newcomers) and you see a request for feedback about new software about that area, then help those expert editors to understand how they can help by telling them on their usertalkpages.

Constructive feedback is deeply appreciated[edit]

  • Tell us when your communities are happy! The developers (staff and volunteer) often only hear about the bug-reports or complaints for things they work on. If you see a positive and/or a particularly constructive comment, pass it along at the talkpage of the feature or developer. :-)