Wanted to see if there is interest in hold MediaWiki Workshops for third-party wiki system administrators, similar to WikiProject Extensions's MediaWiki Workshops. If so, what topics would be most helpful? Perhaps collaborating with Project:WikiProject Extensions on the MW.org documentation workshop?
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First, many many thanks for setting this up. User documentation is very important, and while the Mediawiki documentation is significantly better than other projects, I think it would definitely benefit from some work.
At first I thought that workshops for 3rd party admins would be a terrific idea and rushed to sign up. However, when I think about what workshops I'd like to see, I can't actually think of any. I think that 3rd party admins probably rely more heavily on the documentation.
One idea that worked well in the nonprofit I work with is the idea of a weekly drop in chat, like office hours. Because it is weekly, it's quite easy to remember. Newbies could bring questions - I think that this could potentially be quite valuable, though it may be challenging to recruit anchors/moderators. I know that I have my hands full.
I think, though, that simply supporting the help desk may in the end be more effective.
Resource loader is listed as a possible topic for an WP:Extensions Workshop. I know that as an admin wanting to tune my site and speed up page loads, I find the loader to be completely opaque.
Another idea, perhaps better than my last one would be the idea of combining a Workshop with a "documentation sprint." I'm thinking of something where wiki project members get together via IRC for about an hour and fifteen minutes. For the first half, an expert presents and it is more like a workshop. For the second half, the expert either helps out or chills in IRC while the WP members work on documentation. Initial drafts could be worked on in Etherpad ( http://etherpad.wikimedia.org/ ), which I've found incredibly useful for collaboration.
For the wiki I'm affiliated with, I think a lot about what motivates people to contribute. I find that unless you are in love with/proud of your mastery of the subject matter (and no one is in love with software documentation), editing a wiki can be quite lonely. You effectively don't even get credit for your work, which diminishes incentives to contribute. Hence, at the TMS Wiki, I often build up the social aspect, which I think is a core factor in the success of the aforementioned drop-in chats. Among Admins, collegial networking (i.e. finding people who will read your email if you get stuck and need help) and exchange of information may be a key factor which "gives the project legs" (which is what it's all about).
Welcome to the two WikiProjects! :) They're both very new - so any ideas are very welcome. You're already off to a good start with both of these ideas. I think a regularly held session for sysadmins makes a lot of sense, especially for folks in sectors like nonprofits with similar routine meetings.
Maybe once every two (or whatever works) there is a more in-depth "program" followed by the usual Q&A session, then a documentation sprint. Although maybe that would be cramming too much into one session. Then again, if it wasn't done at every session, the others would probably make up for the lack of Q&A, etc.
I think the "workshop" term can be loosely applied (or changed altogether) to encompass all of these in IRC-centered meet ups. As I was reading your messages I was thinking about how helpful it would be to have a session (both information and documentation building) on building a more social wiki environment. I'm already thinking of ways to borrow the regular "wikicoding" sessions on a rotation of topics once we "officially" launch our next big wiki in February(ish).