Manual:$wgPingback

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Site customization: $wgPingback
If true, MediaWiki will report back data about its installation from time to time to aid developers
Introduced in version: 1.28.0 (Gerrit change 296699; git #f181cde)
Removed in version: still in use
Allowed values: boolean
Default value: false
Other settings: Alphabetical | By function

System information reported[edit]

Other reported data is in the Privacy of Data section.

Name Description Example Rationale
database Configured database type "mysql", "sqlite" To understand the usage and popularity of different database types.
MediaWiki MediaWiki version "1.27.1" To see the usage of different MediaWiki versions, and when people update to newer versions.
PHP PHP version "5.6.0", "7.0.9" To see the usage of different PHP versions, and if we want to raise the minimum requirement, what the impact would be.
OS Operating system and release "Linux $version", "Windows $version" To see how MediaWiki is used on different operating systems, and the versions of those operating systems
arch Identifying 32-bit or 64-bit "32", "64" TODO FIXME
machine Machine hardware "x86_64" TODO FIXME
webServer Web server software "Apache/2.4.10 (Debian)" TODO FIXME
memory_limit php memory limit 220M TODO FIXME

Implementation[edit]

The time and data sent is logged to the debug log when it is enabled. The data points are implemented in the includes/Pingback.php file.

Overall Privacy Considerations[edit]

Beware! The current edit of this page should not be considered an authoritative source about how the pingback feature works in MediaWiki. For 4 months after the implementation of the pingback feature into the master branch, and over 1 month after it's wide release, this page maintained a incomplete list of system data points and falsely claimed the feature only sent anonymous data. MediaWiki has had a consistent track record over the years of changes being made to the software without updating the MediaWiki manual to reflect those changes.

MediaWiki's privacy policy appears to cover data collected via the pingback feature.

In discussion of this feature, there have been requests for more data points and there is no specific policy on how new proposed data points will be evaluated.

MediaWiki installer and documentation asks users to subscribe to the MediaWiki announce mailing list, but changes to it's privacy policy which affect this feature are likely to be published only to WikimediaAnnounce-L, since this data is a small fraction of the overall data that Wikimedia collects, and it's privacy policy states changes will be published "via a notification on WikimediaAnnounce-L or a similar mailing list."

Privacy of Data[edit]

Installations are identified by a string that is generated when the pingback feature is first used and remains the same unless manually removed (it is stored in the updatelogManual:updatelog table table under the PingBack key). The string is completely random, it does not include any information about the installation. In the EventLogging data it is stored in the wiki column.

The public ip of the machine is reported to Wikimedia because the method of transmission is an http post request to https://www.mediawiki.org. This data is not part of the EventLogging database schema, but it is within Wikimedia's privacy policy to store this information and it is typical to use it for system administration of the collection server and for screening out invalid data.

MediaWiki sends the data shortly after the first page load when the setting is enabled. This can be used to infer personal information about the MediaWiki user as different populations are highly correlated with use of computers at different times and dates.

The documentation says the data is sent "periodically" and "from time to time", but in computer terms that implies an extremely wide range. It would be useful for someone to figure out and document just how often that is because if it is frequent enough, it would constitute uptime data.

Access to data[edit]

Currently the data is stored in Wikimedia's EventLogging database. Users with a signed NDA with the WMF can access the data via analytics machines. It is planned to make aggregated data publicly available (see phab:T152222).

See also[edit]