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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2005, Frankfurt, Germany.




Editing notes:

  • Should we change bio to "former" CRO?
  • Still only an abstract

The future of MediaWiki[edit]

About the author(s): Erik Moeller is the Chief Research Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is a journalist and open source advocate, whose first book, Die heimliche Medienrevolution - Wie Weblogs, Wikis und freie Software die Welt verändern, was published last year.

Abstract: Wikipedia is barely 5 years old. In this short time, it has become the largest encyclopedia in history and led to the creation of an international non-profit organization that operates 7 other major projects.

How can we repeat the success story of Wikipedia with each of these projects? What new projects might be worth taking on? And how can we guarantee that Wikipedia itself will become ever more factual and accessible?

This presentation gives a summary and evaluation of technical and project ideas that have been proposed within the Wikimedia community. It tries to make reasonable recommendations for technological changes to the MediaWiki software that may benefit the individual projects of the Foundation, and takes an optimistic outlook on the future of Wikimedia as a whole.

Possible technological changes will be judged according to a standard test:

  • Is it feasible? Is the change implementable at all within a reasonable timeframe and as part of the MediaWiki framework?
  • Is it scalable? Can it be implemented in such a way that it can be put into use on one of the largest websites on the planet?
  • Is it generic? Is the change specific to one project, or will it benefit at least several of them?
  • Does it reduce usability? There is a risk of feature creep and increasing complexity. Any new feature should not heighten the barrier to entry for new editors.

Examples for changes: peer review on Wikipedia, translation interfacefor Wikisource, story submission screen for Wikinews, new upload screen for Wikimedia Commons, better book module integration for Wikibooks.

Examples for new projects: Wikidata, Wikiversity, Wikimaps.

"Phase IV" is chosen as a title for this presentation as an allusion to the current codename of the MediaWiki software, "phase 3", and to the fact that Wikipedia is in its fourth year. It also implies an increased parallelism between MediaWiki development and Wikimedia's project needs.