Release Management RFP/2014/Mark y Markus LLC

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Proposal[edit]

Mark Y Markus LLC (MyM) proposes its plan to continue and build upon the progress achieved in the first year to provide the third-party MediaWiki users with superior MediaWiki release management, support, and advocacy.

In the second year, we will focus on the organisation of a MediaWiki user group. With the community's help, in less than five years this user group will become an established and trusted organisation that is able to express the interest of its stakeholders to the Wikimedia Foundation.

This organisation will be a place for the exchange of ideas, a hub for development, and a source of information for third-party users. The organisation’s goal is to foster a healthy, respectful, interactive ecosystem where third-party MediaWiki users are involved in the development of MediaWiki.

Having established ourselves as the release management team for MediaWiki, we are confident that we can act as a channel of communication between the third-parties and the Foundation to accomplish the proposed plan.

Bottlenecks/Friction Points[edit]

Releasing the source code as free software is essentially providing a best practice tool to produce, share, and further the ability to share knowledge. It is in the interest of the Foundation and MediaWiki community to enable more users to run the software with adequate support and education for their own collaborative and knowledge-sharing purposes. This will help to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the software.

Third-party MediaWiki users rely on MediaWiki software to run in various environments, using extensions that the Foundation does not use. They have a wide spectrum of use cases, experience, technological skills, and resources. This user-base, however, lacks a community-recognized communication channel to transmit and advocate its concerns and issues to the Foundation core developers in an effective manner. Nor does it receive sufficient communication about the development of the software, and it lacks a voice in it.

Currently, third-party features and development requests are collected. However, there is no cohesive effort to maintain an infrastructure that can be used to work towards these shared, but not Foundation-oriented, feature and development requests.

We will address these problems by building on our relationship with the community through our role as the MediaWiki Release Team to create a community-supported organisation. Our plans include the following:

  • Continue our work on the tarball releases.
  • Start the process of creating a prospective, unincorporated user group that will be used to galvanize the third-party community and increase the momentum, critical mass, and broader community involvement .
  • Conduct an initial founding meeting at Wikimania 2014 in London.
  • Set up a communication structure to get interested parties working together within the user group.
  • Conduct a full environmental scan to identify the characteristics of our users and active developers to find ways to engage them.
  • Work on a third-party development roadmap.
  • Implement this roadmap, provided that there are enough people committed.

This third-party user group will provide a positive impact for the entire MediaWiki community. To illustrate, we offer two examples where our involvement has resulted in a resolution or progress on an issue that is primarily of interest to non-Foundation sites.

  • In the Redirect bug and the breakage that could have resulted for sites using Semantic MediaWiki, we were able to apply a fix within one week of notification of a bug report that had lingered for months in debate as a result of unclear communication.
  • In Zürich, we organized an impromptu discussion between the SMW-interested developers and Wikimedia staff to come to a consensus on Composer use within MediaWiki. This work is still in process, but the discussion at the Hackathon was critical to the future adoption of Composer.

Our goal is to facilitate communication, cooperation, and coordination between the Foundation and the universe of third-party users. SMW was included in the above examples because they have the largest independent developer community and the Foundation does not support the SMW extensions. Our work on the above mentioned issues demonstrates our ability to work with existing interests outside the Foundation. We hope to continue our advocacy and develop similar relationships through the planned user group.

The Foundation’s support for this work is essential and important. The next phase of our work also includes ensuring that the MediaWiki community has a diverse set of benefactors to support the MediaWiki maintenance into the future. Our plans are as follows:

  • Gain the rights to the use of the MediaWiki trademark to establish creditability.
  • Incorporate the user group after securing the rights to use the MediaWiki trademark. (Upon securing the rights to the trademark, the prospective user group will be incorporated.)
  • Establish the structure and means for the community to contribute with confidence.
  • Seek support and contributions from the corporate, NPOs, and individuals through traditional fundraising, social media, and crowdfunding.

Twelve Month Recap[edit]

Through the past twelve months, we have learned a lot from our experience with the Foundation and the third-party community to improve the MediaWiki software. Upon reflection and review, we acknowledge the accomplishments and the work that is still left to do – some things were easily accomplished while others were harder than we expected.

Our initial focus and short-term goals were to optimize the release process and establish a presence within the developer community. As we turn the corner to the second year, we will increase our attention to the long-term goals of understanding and defining the user needs and creating a user group.

We have maintained a six month cycle for major releases, introduced regular monthly point releases, increased efforts to reach out to the third-party users to communicate how changes in MediaWiki will affect them, and educate extension developers on the new features in MediaWiki. With two main releases per year cycle being the standard for the community, we plan to continue the predictable releases, outreach, and education by:

  • Improving the pre-release phase to resolve bugs and do all the backports before a release.
  • Coordinating the releases with MW core developers and extension developers.
  • Increasing our efforts to detect third-party bugs to communicate to MW core developers.
  • Refining the distribution format.

Provided below are the short and long term goals identified as completed work, ongoing work, and work not yet started.

Completed work:

  • Two major releases per year with the releases of MW1.22 and 1.23 (LTS) and monthly maintenance and security releases.
  • Continuous integration with the tarball production and testing is now a job in Jenkins.

Ongoing work:

  • Improve the test environment – There are automated tarball tests. The installer still needs automated testing. Not all the databases supported by MediaWiki are currently tested.
  • Packaging – We were involved the discussion about this, but we need to continue working with the Foundation's platform developers.
  • Work with extension developers – We had sessions in two SMW conferences, Wikimania and the Zurich Hackaton about these issues.
  • Relationship building – We are communicating with Open Source organisations such as the Mozilla team, and the Debian packagers; significant third-party wikis such as WikiApiary; enterprises such as ConocoPhillips, Microsoft, and Mitre.
  • Fundraising – Work with vendors such as Microsoft to get funding to improve support for their products such as the Web Platform Installer package.
  • Improve the tarball – Including SimpleAntiSpam and extension documentation in the installer.
  • Improve long-term extension management – Work with WikiApiary and a GSoC mentee to start a QA and user-rating process for extensions.
  • Organisational – Initial research on organisational developments.

Work not yet started: Crowd-fundraising (e.g. KickStarter) to support implementation of new skinning system. Crowd-funding will begin once we clear the use of the "MediaWiki" trademark.

Budget[edit]

Our regular billing rate is ~$125/hr. We will extend our discounted rate of $65/hr to the Foundation.

We estimate spending 42 hours a week, with 20 hours allotted to the technical work of making regular tarball releases and 22 hours for organising work to establish the user group. We estimate that additional costs related to organising will be $16,500.

We ask that the Foundation continue to pay for the technical work and additional costs and contribute to one half of the $68,640 cost to organise, for a total of $113,220. We will seek the remaining $34,320 of the organising costs from other sources through fundraising. This plan is flexible and allows for reduction of costs for reduction of services.

Technical Hrs/wk $US
Coordination internally and with WMF 4 12,480
Release 6 18,720
Advocate third-party interests 4 12,480
New formats of distribution 6 18,720
Total Technical 20 62,400
Cost of organising user group
Build up and maintain a user group 4 12,480
Understand and build up an ecosystem 8 24,960
Work towards a developer community 4 12,480
Finance and Fundraising 6 18,720
Total Organising 22 68,640
Additional costs 16,500
Grand Total 147,540
Money from other sources 34,320
Total requested from Foundation 113,220

Request for Community Feedback[edit]

We would like to use this opportunity to request feedback:

  • What do you think about the monthly release cycle?
  • Are the announcements descriptive enough?
  • What further information would you like to see?
  • How do you think we can improve MediaWiki for third-party needs?
  • Would you like to be part of the user group?

About MyM, Mark, and Markus[edit]

Mark Y Markus (MyM) LLC is a partnership between NicheWork LLC and Hallo Welt! Medienwerkstatt GmbH, established in July 2013 and incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania.

MyM is the current MediaWiki Release Team operating under the direction of Mark A. Hershberger (NicheWork) and Markus Glaser (Hallo Welt!). The team provides a stable basis for the MediaWiki release management through a dynamic combination of complementary experiences focused around MediaWiki development. They have an established reputation as trusted professionals and collaborators who advocate for third-party users of MediaWiki.

MyM is currently mentoring Aditya Chaturvedi, a student at Indian Institute of Information Technology Allahabad in Allahabad, India as part of a mentorship program between Google Summer of Code 2014 and the Wikimedia Foundation. With Mark as the lead mentor and Markus as second, they guide Aditya in his endeavor to build a catalogue for MediaWiki extensions that integrates a user rating system to put on MediaWiki.org to help users identify and assess which extension fits a particular need.

More information about Mark Hershberger and Markus Glaser can be found in last year's proposal.

Endorsements[edit]

  • I've had the opportunity to get to know Mark through WikiApiary and also the mentioned GSOC project. I really like the perspective that Mark and Markus bring to MediaWiki, treating it as a standalone project that is used extensively throughout the wikiverse. We need someone to do the work outlined here to make sure that MediaWiki stays this way, and doesn't become an internal system used only by WMF. 🐝 thingles (talk) 02:53, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I met markus at the SMWCon - as part of the Semantic MediaWiki community, I appreciate these efforts of improving the sitiation of third-party MediaWiki users. Krabina (talk) 13:08, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I believe that Mark and Markus have proven that they can successfully deal with the stakeholders not just involved with the release management itself but far beyond. They simply care about MediaWiki in many ways with a very good attitude. Comprehensible as well as transparent structures and procedures have been established for the release management and new ideas and ways have been developed and started relating to it. I would like to see them continue their work since they are up for the job and have put a lot of thought into their proposal. --[[kgh]] (talk) 15:30, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I know Mark through my work on an enterprise wiki. I help maintain 3 or 4 MediaWiki installations and content, and value the recent rigour Mark has brought to release cycles. It feels more and more like a software project with its own timeline, documentation, user community, and future path. Using awesome open source software is a big step for enterprise IT people, but I feel more and more confident pointing to MediaWiki as a real option for them (and for me, as I'm far from being the sysadmin wizard I know Mark is). Things like the LTS concept, the improved packaging, Git, the documentation, the reliability, and so on — all fantastic work. Things I and my clients will value continued work on: even more awesome extension management, easier skinning, and good relationships with other enterprise users. Kwinkunks (talk) 19:11, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I had the good fortune to meet Mark at SMWCon. As an extension developer and as a designer and maintainer of several enterprise wikifarms, I definitely see the need for this work. Mark recently provided the assistance that I needed to get a patch merged into MediaWiki core, which can be a difficult and lengthy process. His help was key in moving this forward in a timely fashion. This is a very important proposal for those of us using MediaWiki in an enterprise setting, and I hope to see this proposal move forward. Cindy.cicalese (talk) 19:58, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I was very happy with the work that Mark did for WikiTranslate.org. I don't think that we would be able to achieve what we did without his help. He is deeply professional and pays great attention to detail. We need people like this working with the Wikimedia Foundation. We need user group like the one mentioned in this proposal so independent wikis like us can have more support and could begin to flourish. Natkabrown (talk) 22:20, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Friendly, helpful, professional. Do I need to say more? ;) --Nikerabbit (talk) 19:00, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I Highly recommended to extend the contract with the current Release Management contractors Mark and Markus. They have been fantastic helps in bringing the MediaWiki release procedures to a higher plane and I cannot think of any team more qualified to keep improving the way MediaWiki is being made available to third party users. siebrand (talk) 09:29, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Mark and Markus are one of the people who can really bring MediaWiki closer to people and organizations. They know about the needs of the community more than anyone else and have huge experience. Katkov Yury (talk) 09:47, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I believe Mark and Markus are doing great job Vedmaka 16:44, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I have been following the releases and I think Markus and Mark are doing a great job in professionalizing and branding mediawiki as a colaboration hub with non-wmf stakeholders. Besides I lately got the chance to meet Markus at the Zürich Hackathon which gives me even more strong arguments to endorse their continuity as release managers.--Micru (talk) 08:28, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
  • A reliable and sustainable MediaWiki release management is much more than a technical service for non-WMF MediaWiki users: it is a vital investment into the global open source community around MediaWiki. This community draws users and developers to MediaWiki, popularises wikis and open source, and explores new extensions that are too experimental yet to be introduced to Wikipedia. Moreover, developers from that community have been known to find their ways into WMF development labs in the past. It should be clear that WMF must have a strong interest to further support this valuable ecosystem, and it is very fortunate that two such capable and dedicated people are available for the job. I fully recommend to fund the next round of this project. --Markus Krötzsch (talk) 20:09, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I have interacted with Mark on MediaWiki bugzilla and I find him a responsive and responsible person, with a professional attitude. I believe he is an asset to MW development and I strongly recommend supporting this proposal. Huji (talk) 15:37, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Feedback[edit]

(Please use the talk page.)