This page explains how to get started as a developer who wants to contribute to Wikimedia technical projects.
Wikimedia's technical community always welcomes new contributors!
Become part of a global community, and help make access to free knowledge easier for everyone!
How to start contributing
The following steps are a general outline of how to get started contributing:
- Learn the basics of how Wikimedia open source software projects work.
- Read the Communication guidelines.
- Set up accounts: Create a developer account. Depending on the type of contribution you want to make, you may also need to set up accounts in Phabricator, and set up Git and Gerrit.
- Choose and solve a task (write and test your code).
- Submit your code changes for review.
The rest of this guide provides additional details about the process.
Basics of how Wikimedia software projects work
Wikimedia has software projects in many different areas.
The maintainers of each software project choose the infrastructure they prefer. In general, most software projects have:
- a code review tool where proposed code changes ("patches") get discussed and improved. Examples are Wikimedia Git/Gerrit, GitHub, or GitLab. After your proposed patch is approved and merged into the code repository, your code changes become available to everybody.
- general places for discussion of the software project and for help and support. Those places can be mailing lists, IRC chat channels, wiki pages, or other places. The exact places depend on each project.
At any point, if you run into problems or need help, please ask. To ask good questions in the right places, follow the "communication tips".
Overview of technical areas
For an overview of Wikimedia technology and examples of the major areas where developers can contribute, visit Introduction to the Wikimedia Technical Ecosystem.
Contributing to software in MediaWiki
Are you a user of a MediaWiki wiki looking to add a feature or fix a bug in one? Please see How to become a MediaWiki hacker to learn how to find and contribute to the software project part of MediaWiki you are looking for.
Choose a software project
The following projects offer resources, mentorship, and are looking for new developers to contribute to them. Choose one of the following projects and follow the project's documentation to set up your development environment, choose a task to work on, solve the task, and submit your code changes for review. You are free to contribute to these projects or any others you are interested in related to Wikimedia. Most can be found by searching for them on Phabricator or online.
An offline reader for people without internet access
- Skills required: Java/Kotlin (Android), Swift (iOS), Qt (desktop), NodeJS (mediawiki offliner), C++
- Get in touch: Mailing list / Slack here
- Get the source code: GitHub
- Read the general documentation and the README.md file of the corresponding project
- Check the recommended tasks to work on: Android, iOS, JS, mwoffliner on GitHub
- Mentor(s): Matthieu Gauthier, Emmanuel Engelhart, Stephane Coillet-Matillon
A web application that supports Wikipedia education assignments, provides data and course management for instructors and students
A Python library and collection of scripts that automate work on MediaWiki sites.
Scribe provides Wikidata based keyboards for second language learners. Features include translation, verb conjugation and noun-gender annotation. This project is very open to those who want to learn the needed languages and how to work with Wikidata!
- Skills required: Swift for iOS; Kotlin for Android; Python and/or Wikidata Query Service for Wikidata queries and formatting
- Get in touch: GitHub or email
- Get the source code: GitHub
- Read the contribution guidelines: iOS or Android
- Check the recommended tasks: iOS or Android
- Mentor(s): Andrew McAllister
Lingua Libre SignIt web-browser extension translates selected written word via an elegant pop up so you learn sign language while reading online. You can add a signed video using Lingualibre.org by selecting a signed language, then video recording yourself while signing.
Are you a maintainer and want your project to be included in the list of software projects above? Find out more and join!
Outreach programs and single tasks
In addition to the recommended software projects above, there are more ways to choose a project or task to work on:
However, mentors may not be available for these tasks, and your proposed patches may not receive fast reviews.
Follow these tips to communicate effectively and get help from community members.
Use Phabricator tasks effectively
When you plan to work on a Phabricator task:
- No need to ask for permission: You can work on unassigned tasks without asking someone to assign them to you. There is no authority who assigns tasks or who needs to be asked first.
- If a task already has a recent patch in Gerrit, choose a different task to work on instead.
- If an existing patch in Gerrit has not been merged and has not seen any changes for a long time, you could improve that existing patch, based on the feedback in Gerrit and in the task.
- Do your research: When you consider working on a task, do research before you start coding. Look at the code, try to understand what it is supposed to do, read related documentation, and try to find the places where you need to make code changes.
- In a Phabricator task, use the project tags in the side bar to find the code repository for the task.
- If you have no idea at all how to fix the bug, consider finding an easier one first.
- You do not need to announce your plans before you start working on a task, but you should communicate that you are working on the task.
- When you start work, set yourself as task assignee by clicking Edit Task… in Phabricator, and set your Phabricator username in the Assigned To field. This communicates to others that you are working on it, so they don't duplicate work.
- When your plans or interests change: If you are no longer working on a task, remove yourself as the assignee of the task. This tells others that they can work on the task, and they won't expect you to still work on it.
- Follow Phabricator etiquette.
- In Phabricator tasks, discuss only specific questions about the topic of that task. Don't use Phabricator to ask general questions, like how to set up a development environment or how to fix problems with Gerrit.
Compose good questions
- Be specific and provide context: Instead of simply asking "Can you give me more info?", "Please guide me", or "Please tell me how to start", include the following information in your question:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What have you already tried? Copy and paste your commands and their output (if not too long) instead of paraphrasing in your own words.
- What have you found out already during your research? Include links to code, documentation, or other resources you already consulted.
- Use specific titles and subject lines in your communication. "Proposal draft" or "Need help" is not specific.
- Keep conversations readable: When you reply in Zulip, in Phabricator tasks, or on mailing lists, only quote sections of previous comments that are relevant to your response. If you quote a complete previous comment, it makes threads hard to read.
Follow communication policies and best practices
Before you send or post your question:
- Read and follow the code of conduct for Wikimedia technical spaces.
- Use Pau-iông-sìng gí-giân: Instead of using terms that assume a gender identity (like "guys", "madam", or "sir") use the name of the person instead.
Ask in the right place
- Ask in public: Do not send private messages if your conversation topic is not secret.
Private messages don't help others.
- Ask and discuss in the best place:
- In Phabricator tasks, discuss only specific questions about the topic of that task.
- Ask general technical questions, like how to set up a development environment or how to fix problems with Gerrit, in the places listed on Communication.
- If you take part in an outreach program, then Zulip is for discussing questions about the outreach programs themselves.
After you post your question:
- Do not ask people for code review in a separate message. People receive Gerrit and Phabricator notifications and will respond when they can.
- When seeking input and comments, especially during weekends and holidays, you may need to wait until business hours resume. On chat channels like IRC: if nobody answers, try again at a different time; don't just give up!
- If you don't get an answer even after waiting and being patient, consider if other Communication channels might be a better place to ask your question.
- Introduction to the Wikimedia Technical Ecosystem provides an overview of Wikimedia tech, focused on the major areas where developers can contribute.
- How to contribute lists many more ways to contribute, including areas like documentation, testing, and more.
- How to become a MediaWiki hacker: For developers who want to work on MediaWiki core or MediaWiki extensions.
- Developer hub: More resources for established Wikimedia developers.
- To ask your questions and to join general discussions, check the places listed on Communication.
- Wikimedia tutorials: An index of tutorials that feature various languages, APIs, and frameworks in the Wikimedia technology stack.
- Supporting newcomers at hackathons