What Tech News is
Tech News is a newsletter documenting technical changes to the Wikimedia sites that affect Wikimedia editors. It is not a general Wikimedia newsletter, nor a technical newsletter for anything related to wikis.
It is "technical" in a fairly strict sense: Almost everything the Wikimedia movement does is related to technology one way or another. There's a cost for every item in Tech News. The longer the newsletter, the more likely people are to stop reading it because the information is overwhelming. The longer the newsletter, the more difficult it is for the translators to find time to translate it every week. The point of Tech News is to have a central source of information where Wikimedians can find technical updates that are important for their work.
What is typically not included
- Changes only relevant for one language or one wiki, where it's not a first example of something that will be available for other wikis as well. There are easier ways of getting that information out than putting it in a movement-wide newsletter translated to a fair number of languages. Exceptions to this are Wikidata and Commons because other wikis depend on them.
- Non-technical changes. Very little that happens in the Wikimedia world is more than one step removed from being technical. We are a collection of websites. However, this also means that once we stop defining technical change as something that is technical in itself, rather than something that can lead to technical change, we lose much of the definition that separates Tech News from being a general Wikimedia newsletter. Examples could be news about WMF team strategies or statistics about our sites, as opposed to a new technical feature Wikimedians can use to get statistics.
- Fancy things related to the Wikimedia sphere that don't really affect reading, editing or developing. A good example would be Listen to Wikipedia, to the sound of which more than one issue of Tech News has been written.
- Small changes with very little effect on Wikimedians, for example very minor changes to the UI or minor updates of existing products that will only affect a small number of editors.
- Backend change. If users won't notice and it doesn't affect their user scripts, we typically don't include it.
- Short disruptions, like a wiki being down for a short period of time. Only very long and global outages are reported with an explanation of why.
Otherwise, be bold and add your information! We will discuss it with you if needed.
Adding to Tech News
There are a few ways to add information to Tech News. If you are familiar with the item you want to add, please include simple explanation in one to three sentences that explains what is changing and how it affects Wikimedia contributors, written for non-technical readers.
An ideal item consists of
- 1–3 sentences summarizing the key point(s).
- What should editors learn about or do?
- Use short sentences and simple/common words. Try to avoid technical jargon.
- 1–2 links for where people can read more.
- Ideally link to a translatable wikipage. If that isn't available, then link to a Phabricator task (perhaps with a screenshot at the top of the Description) or an announcement-email.
- Perhaps link to an example, or directly to the Special:Page in question, if the change is already visible.
- The first link should be the most important one; however translations may require reordering.
How to add an item
There are options!
- The easiest way is to just add the item to the next issue yourself. Don't worry about getting it perfect. We'll edit it for simplicity and translatability.
- If you think something should be included but don't know how to explain it, you can just add a new bullet point with the link and someone else will take a look at it. Like this:
- You can also add the
#user-noticetag to any Phabricator task.
- If you can, please also add a comment there, roughly explaining what changes your item causes (the goal of what editors need to learn/do), and when/what week it needs to be announced
- If you want to do something else, maybe write a longer explanation, you can ask us on Talk:Tech/News, which the Tech News writers watch.
- You can also contact the person writing the issue directly. This is not recommended if you want to be sure the item goes into the next issue, unless you are very sure who to contact that particular week. It is usually handled by Quiddity, but he is occasionally traveling/sick/etc and might not be handling some issues. In that case either Johan or Trizek take care of it.
Occasionally, a non-urgent update might be moved to next week's edition, especially if the current newsletter is already very long, to spare the readers and translators. Even if it's eventually not included, every suggestion is helpful, as the writers and editors depend on them to be able to write the newsletter at all. Never be afraid to add anything because it might not be included. It's still appreciated.
When to add something
The optimal times to add something to Tech News are:
- When the change is happening, add it the week before so that it is in the newsletter that is delivered on the Monday the week your change goes live on the wikis.
- When you start a new project: If you work on a software team working on a big change, you can include this when you have a project page, the work is starting and there is plenty of room for feedback and use cases.
- If you're introducing a breaking change and people need to update scripts, bots or other tools, you should include this at least a month or two before things stop working.
Translating Tech News
Tech News is translated every week, typically 15–20 languages. The latest issue is found at Tech/News/Latest. It's finalized on Friday evenings (UTC) and sent out on Monday evening (UTC). The best way to keep track of when there's a new issue to translate is to sign up on the translators mailing list. Anyone is welcome to help out.
When is the work done?
The issue is written and edited on Thursdays. Preferably, as much as possible of what's going into next issue should already have been linked in the draft, tagged with user-notice in Phabricator or otherwise have reached the Tech News writers by Wednesday evening so there's time to, if necessary, talk to the developers and simplify the language. It is marked for translation and the translators are notified Thursday (late afternoon UTC/morning Pacific time).
It's finalized and frozen on Fridays. Late additions are added during the Friday (UTC). Do not plan to include things on Fridays. The translators are told it is safe to translate Friday late afternoon UTC/Friday morning Pacific time. All new items after this should go into the next week's draft. We depend on the translators to be able to reach out to editors who don't speak English. Please don't add to their burden by adding work after they're supposed to be done.
It's sent out on Mondays. Translations added after it's sent out via MassMessage are very welcome and will be available on Meta, but will not be distributed to other wikis.
It's appreciated if material has been added by Wednesday evening for next Monday issue. How to add information on Tech News is detailed in the manual.
- To be included when the first notice is sent out to translators, please add it to the draft, tag it with
user-noticein Phabricator or contact the Tech News writers (usually Quiddity) by Thursday 14:00 UTC.[note 1] Later items will be included if seen before the notice to the translators has been sent out, but it can't be guaranteed.
- To add a late addition, please add it to the draft, tag it with
user-noticein Phabricator or contact the Tech News writers (usually Quiddity) by Friday 14:00 UTC.[note 1] If possible, try to have added the material earlier. Later items will be included if seen before the notice to the translators has been sent out, but it can't be guaranteed. The issue is frozen when the draft template has been removed from it.
- To be sure to have your translation included for off-Meta distribution, please have it done by Monday 15:00 UTC.[note 1] Translations added an hour or two later than so will be included most weeks, but it can't be guaranteed.