Wikimedia Discovery

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The Discovery Department of Wikimedia Engineering has the mission to make the wealth of knowledge and content in the Wikimedia projects easily discoverable. We have a number of projects detailed below that focus us on creating and supporting new forms of discovery.



Discovery is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the various Search features and APIs for MediaWiki. This includes the CirrusSearch extension which relies on, the search backend used at the Wikimedia Foundation to support Wikimedia projects.

Learn more about Search and the current work of the team.

Current work by this team is tracked on this Phabricator workboard.

Search Analytics Dashboard - Public dashboard to monitor and analyze the impact of our efforts.

Current Goals (FY 2016-17 Q2)[edit]

  • Enable the backend for cross-project indices on all Wikimedia projects.
  • Enrich the data stored in ElasticSearch to allow targeted improvements to result relevance. portal[edit]

Many people discover Wikipedia via (roughly 1.5-2% of our total page views). The Discovery team is looking at how to improve the user experience for these visitors. Here is an initial analysis from the Discovery team.

Learn more about the work around the portal project.

Current work by this team is tracked on this Phabricator workboard and a listing of upcoming A/B tests can be found here.

Portal Analytics Dashboard - Public dashboard to monitor and analyze the impact of our efforts.

External Search Traffic - External search engines metric that very broadly looks at where our requests are coming from.

Current Goals (FY 2016-17 Q2)[edit]


Discovery is about finding and navigating to content, and one way for users to do that is via maps. To provide better maps the team is working to make OpenStreetMap tiles available on all Wikimedia projects. The technical challenge is doing so at a scale sufficient for their widespread usage.

Learn more about the Maps project.

Work by this team is tracked on this Phabricator workboard

The team's roadmap can be viewed here; it was finalized in Nov 2016 for FY 2016/2017.

Maps Analytics Dashboard - Public dashboard to monitor and analyze the impact of our efforts.

Current Goals (FY 2016-17 Q2)[edit]

  • Increase maps and graphs usage on Wikipedia
  • Enable shareable Geoshapes and Tabular data storage on Commons

Wikidata Query Service (WDQS)[edit]

Searching structured data on Wikidata is also part of Discovery, so we are building the Wikidata query service. It provides a API through which tools can access Wikidata.

Learn more about the Wikidata query service.

Current work by this team is tracked on this Phabricator workboard

Weekly deployments of WDQS are documented on wikitech:Deployments.

WDQS Analytics Dashboard - Public dashboard to monitor and analyze the impact of our efforts.

Current Goals (FY 2016-17 Q2)[edit]

  • Wikidata Query Service will not have any dedicated goals this quarter.


The analysis group within Discovery manages the Discovery Dashboard, as well as analyzing A/B tests and other data.

Learn more about the Discovery analysis team and even more information on how they do their analysis and the impact (on Meta).

Current work by the analysis team is tracked on this Phabricator workboard

Current Goals (FY 2016-17 Q2)[edit]

  • This quarter, instead of having team-specific goals, the analysis team will be supporting the other team's goals.

FDS Plan 2016/2017


Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provide developers ways to interact with the MediaWiki software.

API:Search and discovery lists the search APIs available and in development.

API Analytics Dashboard - Public dashboard to monitor and analyze the impact of our efforts.


For general questions about the work of the Discovery department, please see the FAQ.

For any questions about the term "Knowledge Engine" please refer to this FAQ.

You can find all of our data and key performance indicators on our data portal.

The team[edit]

Below is a list of sub-teams in the Discovery Department. This list was last updated on 17th October 2016.

Each sub-team lists the names and team roles (not job titles; those are listed in the staff and contractors page, and may or may not be the same as the person's team role) of anyone who spends a not insignificant amount of time on a project; this therefore means that some names are duplicated across teams.

These lists are only intended to roughly convey who is working on what; no guarantees are made that the list is accurate to any particular level of detail. If you have questions, please contact Dan Garry.

Search: Backend[edit]

Search: Frontend[edit]

Wikipedia Portal[edit]


Wikidata Query Service[edit]


Cross-team support[edit]


See Updates below for Discovery weekly status updates

Mailing lists[edit]

Discovery - A public mailing list about Wikimedia Discovery projects. Examples of topics would include:

  • Announcements, including major upcoming initiatives, completed major releases, quarterly or annual plans, requests for feedback or input
  • Technical discussions and brainstorming regarding our work:
    • Search, Elastic, Cirrus, the Relevance Forge, and other relevant subjects
    • The portal and associated work
    • Our dashboards or related analysis
    • Note that there is a separate list for maps (below)
  • Departmental news, such as changes to team structure, significant changes to team process, changes in how we use phabricator or other tools like gerrit

Maps - Discussion and development coordinating the integration of OpenStreetMap and other free map sources into Wikimedia projects.

IRC channels[edit]


#wikimedia-interactiveconnect - for talking all Interactive Wikimedia projects - maps, graphs, etc.


Meetup groups[edit]

Conferences, gatherings, and other events[edit]

Upcoming events[edit]

Past events[edit]


Weekly Discovery status updates[edit]

See Discovery/Status updates for the archive of past Discovery updates

This is the weekly update for the week starting 2016-11-07


  • Many older search tickets that were in the backlog were resolved this week - due to work being completed previously.



Search tickets to be released in next week's train:



  • crickets while waiting for code reviews


Interactive tickets to be released in next week's train:

Interactive Ops[edit]

Events and News

  • Something goes here

Other Noteworthy Stuff

Did you know?

  • Something goes here


  • Something goes here


Meeting minutes[edit]

Wikimedia Discovery/Meetings

Quarterly reviews[edit]

Data Analysis[edit]

The data access and analysis guidelines used by the Discovery team around data sources, or by other teams around Discovery data sources, are documented on Meta.


Useful reference for who can deploy code. It's nice to know whom to bug if you need something:

Person MediaWiki








Portals Deployer
dcausse YesY
ebernhardsen YesY YesY
jan_drewniak YesY
jgirault YesY
MaxSem YesY YesY
yurik YesY YesY YesY
gehel YesY
^d YesY YesY


Discovery team supports the following code:

Repository Phabricator/Diffusion Github mirror Active?
CirrusSearch extension
Elastica extension
GeoData extension
Wikidata Query Service
Wikidata Query Service GUI
WDQS deployment
WDQS GUI deployment
Wikimedia Portals
PHP textcat
Relevance Forge
Discovery Analytics