Wikimedia Technical Talks
Technical talks are presentations created by and for members of the Wikimedia technical community. Technical talks cover technical concepts and ideas that make it easier for others to contribute to Wikimedia projects. Formal technical talks are typically broadcast live, recorded and posted publicly for others view.
This page contains information about Wikimedia technical talks and how to view or contribute to them. You will also find links to additional information about setting up and creating technical talks.
Technical talks basics
Who can give a technical talk?
Short answer: You!
Long answer: Technical talks are open to anyone who wants to share what they know about the technology we use on Wikimedia projects.
Why give a technical talk?
Technical talks are a good way to share information with other people who are working in technical spaces on Wikimedia projects. We all benefit from each other's knowledge, and we all benefit from having different ways to learn.
When you produce a technical talk, you build your skills as a public speaker, story teller, trainer, and teacher. You become more visible to others in the community, and you contribute valuable knowledge to the Wikimedia movement.
Who watches technical talks?
Technical talks are broadcast live and archived for anyone to view in the future. Most people in your audience will be technical contributors just like you.
Technical talks formats
Wikimedia monthly technical talk
The Wikimedia Foundation currently supports a monthly technical talk with A/V support and hosting for speakers. This talk is generally 45 min in length with a live question and answer session at the end. These talks are broadcast using Google Hangouts On Air, and are immediately available on the MediaWiki Youtube channel. Viewers can ask questions on the connect IRC channel, which is reserved for the talk.
Wikimedia monthly technical talks are announced via email lists and social media. Speakers are encouraged to upload supporting material, including slideshows and videos to Wikimedia Commons following their talk.
Propose a Wikimedia monthly technical talk
An organizer will reach out to you to discuss the proposed talk and to schedule a time if the talk is appropriate for this series.
Other technical talk opportunities
The Wikimedia monthly technical talk is only one forum for sharing technical information with others. Some potential speakers may want to start with a shorter talk, or they may want to record their own talk or video to share.
Learn more about recording technical talks and video tutorials.
Tips for successful tech talks
Need some guidance to help you get started with you talk? See these tips!
2020 Technical Talks
Season 2. Episode 1: Data and Decision Science at Wikimedia
26 February 2020, 6PM UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-CRsiwYM9w
Speaker: Kate Zimmerman, Head of Product Analytics at Wikimedia
Topic Areas: Technology, data, data visualization
How do teams at the Foundation use data to inform decisions? Sarah Rodlund talks with Kate Zimmerman, Head of Product Analytics at Wikimedia, about what sorts of data her team uses and how insights from their analysis have shaped product decisions.
Kate Zimmerman holds an MS in Psychology & Behavioral Decision Research from Carnegie Mellon University and has over 15 years of experience in quantitative and experimental methods. Before joining Wikimedia, she built data teams from scratch at ModCloth and SmugMug, evolving their data capabilities from basic reports to strategic analysis, automated dashboards, and advanced modeling.
Links mentioned in talk:
Season 2. Episode 2: Understanding Wikimedia Maps and its challenges
25, March 2020, 6PM UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LH-pYdi9Ks
Speaker: Mateus Santos, Software Engineer
Topic Areas: Maps, product, Site reliability
Description: The WMF Product Infrastructure Team has been maintaining the Wikimedia Maps service for the last year and a half with help from SRE. This talk will share the challenges and work of creating a better development environment to enhance productivity, solve technical debt and keep up with platform modernization.
Season 2. Episode 3: Basic of cryptography using OpenPGP and GnuPG
22, April 2020, 6pm UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7kM2ZWZIKc
Speaker: Lars Wirzenius
Topic Areas: Technology, structured data
Description: OpenPGP is the prevalent standard for cryptography for secure software distribution and GnuPG is its prevalent open source implementation. This talk introduces things at a conceptual level: what cryptography is for, why is it useful, and the basic use of GnuPG by creating cryptographic keys, using digital signatures, and encryption. No previous experience with GnuPG or OpenPGP is needed, but all examples will be using the Linux command line.
Season 2. Episode 4: Visualizing Technical Debt
27, May 2020, 6PM UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gedV-OScuQY
Speaker: Marcella Florence, David Chan, Thalia Chan
Topic Areas: Technology, Technical Debt
Visualizing technical debt and how we can use that as a way to understand and prioritize our maintenance needs.
Season 2. Episode 5: Modern Event Platform
24, June 2020, 6PM UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tb_9gOYsWJQ
Speaker: Andrew Otto
Topic Areas: Technology
2019 Technical Talks
Episode 11: Structured data on commons
Dec 11, 2019, 6 PM UTC
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9LmFAkDnx0
Speaker: Cormac Parle, Software Engineer
Topic Areas: Technology, structured data
The talk will cover Structured Data on Commons:
- what structured is
- the structured data we store for a media file on commons
- where we store it
- how it helps with search
- the UI and the API calls we use to manipulate it
Episode 10: Wikidata, behind the curtain
November 20, 2019 7PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWqKyC7gt0s
Speaker: Amir Sarabadani, Software Engineer
Topic Areas: Technology, Wikidata
Wikidata is a complex and large-scale project. We all know how to use it and how to contribute to it but it's a little bit hard to understand how it actually works, how it scales and what parts are tricky about it. To lots of developers, it's a black box and this is not good. This talk plans to explain internals of Wikidata to other developers and explain future changes to Wikidata on its technical layer.
Episode 9: ResourceLoader tips and tricks
October 23, 2019, Time TBA 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGiDYvcroWE
Speaker: Roan Kattouw, Principle Software Engineer
Topic Areas: Technology
Learn about new ResourceLoader features introduced this year, and how you can use them to improve your code. We'll start with a quick introduction to ResourceLoader, then dive into some of the advanced features like require(), config var bundling, generated JSON files and icon modules.
Episode 8: How to compare text across multiple languages
September 25, 2019 6PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaDc_4-TNos
Speaker: Diego Saez-Trumper, Research Scientist
Topic Areas: Technology, languages
This talk will explain how cross-lingual word embeddings works, and how they can be used to measure the semantic distance between words and documents across different languages, as well of showing some use cases in our section and template alignment work.
Episode 7: Documenting Wikimedia technical projects
Sep 4, 2019, 6PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKvyk4VAPb0
Speaker: Sarah R. Rodlund
Topic Areas: Technology, technical writing, technical documentation, Toolforge, Wikimedia Cloud Services
This talk will discuss what technical writers do, and why they are critical members of our technical community. You will learn more about the skills needed to be a technical writer and how to build these skills by participating on Wikimedia and other open source projects.
The talk will also cover some ongoing initiatives to improve technical documentation for Wikimedia projects.
Episode 6: A Deployment Pipeline Overview
July 10, 2019, 4PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0FTcG7PxzI
Speaker: Alexandros Kosiaris
Topic Areas: Technology, Deployment, Mediawiki
The deployment pipeline project has been ongoing for a while, sometimes with more resources poured into it, sometimes less, but it's finally in a state that is ready to be used (it's already being used!). This tech talk is about a presentation to wider technical audiences, discussing the goals of the project, the implementation decisions and how it's meant to be used and adopted by the deployers of services (and eventually MediaWiki) in the coming months.
Episode 5: Just what is Analytics doing back there?
June 25, 2019, 6 PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD0PEDFysfM
Speaker: Dan Andreescu
Topic Area: Data flow, Analytics Infrastructure
We take care of twelve systems. Data flows through them to answer the many questions that our community and staff have about our piece of the open knowledge movement. Let's take a look at how these systems fit together to answer questions. Let's also look at an example trick we use to join big data in a distributed world.
Episode 4: Wikimedia and W3C
May 23, 2019, 3 PM UTC, 45 Mins
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pZrLwC5to4
Speaker: Evan Prodromou and Gilles Dubuc
Topic Area: Standards
The Wikimedia Foundation is now a member of the W3C, as of April. We will walk you through how you can join working groups, what to expect of W3C participation, what we hope Wikimedia staff can achieve through W3C and we will share our own experiences as W3C members.
Episode 3: Sharing global opportunities for new developers in the Wikipedia community
April 24, 2019 at 18:00 UTC, 45 Min
Join Youtube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXyeRujCrAs
Speaker: Srishti Sethi, Developer Advocate, Wikimedia Foundation
Topic Area: Developer Advocacy, onboarding new technical contributors
Wikimedia offers a plethora of opportunities for newcomers to get involved; however, as with many other free software projects, getting involved with the Wikimedia technical community can be a daunting prospect for newcomers. This talk is a gentle introduction to the Wikimedia ecosystem, and gives pointers on how to get involved as a volunteer. I will delve into the various ways newcomers can make successful contributions in areas ranging from design to documentation, from programming to testing, and much more.
Episode 2: Ouch, I have an OOUI: using OOUI without pain
- March 27 2019 at 18:00 UTC, 45 Mins
- Join Google Hangout Meet Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_CUN2o4faw
- Slides: TBA
- Speaker: Moriel Shottlender
- Topic area: OOUI
- Description: OOUI is the interface widget library we are using for UI in the Wikimedia projects. The library is meant to allow implementers to create useful interfaces that automatically answer internationalized needs that are unique to the global nature of our projects. Right-to-left support, supporting old browsers, accessibility, etc, are things that OOUI is doing in the background for you.This tech talk will present OOUI’s history, basic and advanced usage, and demonstrate how to create great interfaces without (much) pain within our wiki ecosystem.
- Links mentioned in the talk:
- Code: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:MSchottlender-WMF/oouiExamples/basicWidgets.js
- RCfilters, cf.: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Edit_Review_Improvements/New_filters_for_edit_review
- Notifications, cf.: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Echo
- Both RCFilters and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation
- Content Translation v2, cf.: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Content_translation/V2
Episode 1: The long and winding road to making Parsoid the default mediaWiki parser
- February 27 2019 at 19:00 UTC, 45 Mins
- Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQGfuLP9MqA
- Slides: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Long_And_Winding_Road_To_Making_Parsoid_The_Default_MediaWiki_Parser.pdf
- Speaker: Subbu Sastry, Principal Software Engineer
- Topic area: Parsoid, Wikitext Parsing
- This will be a talk in two parts: The first part will provide a bunch of background to make sense of the roadmap presented in part 2. The second part will have 3 components: (a) Parsoid history (b) Porting Parsoid to PHP: the whys and wherefores (c) From here to Parsoid as the default.
- Parsoid started in 2012 as a project to support Visual Editing and since then has gone on to support a number of products (Flow, Content Translation, Kiwix, and Android app). Given that (a) Parsoid's annotated HTML output enables clients to infer things about wikitext without having to parse wikitext, (b) the PHP parser cannot support Visual Editor and other products, and (c) we cannot continue to have two parsers, it is inevitable that Parsoid will be the default parser for MediaWiki. This has been known since at least 2015 but while we are nearer to that goalpost, we are still not quite there yet.
- In this talk, we'll talk about what else needs to be completed, and what the porting of Parsoid to PHP means for this goal.
Older tech talks
- 31 October 2017 - Selenium tests in Node.js, by Željko Filipin (Selenium/Node.js/Write, T173488)
- 9 February 2017 - A Gentle Introduction to Wikidata for Absolute Beginners (including non-techies!)
- 15 November 2016 - Using Kibana4 to read logs at Wikimedia - Bryan Davis
- 31 May 2016 - Integrating user behavior to design better products
- 18 April 2016 - UX Prototype Labs: Understanding Wikipedia Readers
- 22 March 2016 - Reflections on WMF: Community Dynamics
- 18 March 2016 - New readership data. Some things we've been learning recently about how Wikipedia is read (video, slides)
- 29 February 2016 - Automated citations in Wikipedia: Citoid and the technology behind it (YouTube)
- 8 February 2016 - Tech Law Training: Privacy, Security, Licensing, & Beyond (private event)
- 8 February 2016 - A Hands-on Estimation Exercise
- 14 January 2016 - Creating Useful Dashboards with Grafana(abstract)
- 15 December 2015 - The creation of Histography, from concept to design
- 9 December 2015 - Secure Coding For MediaWiki Developers
- 3 November 2015 - The making of a MediaWiki skin(abstract)
- 2 November 2015 - Nothing Left but Always Right: The Twisted Road to RTL Support (YouTube, slides)
- 23 October, 2015 - Introduction to Free and Open Source Licensing at Wikimedia - Stephen LaPorte
- 20 August, 2015 - ELK: Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana at Wikimedia (WebM format on Commons, also on YouTube) - Bryan Davis (slides)
- 18 August, 2015 - Let's talk about web performance - Peter Hedenskog
- 15 June, 2015 - Kanban: An alternative to Scrum? - Kevin Smith (slides)
- 14 May, 2015 - Graphs! Visualize maps and data graphs live on Wikipedia - Yuri Astrakhan and Dan Andreescu
- 14 April, 2015 - The state of Team Health across Wikimedia Engineering - Kristen Lans
- 4 March, 2015 - Hack - An Evolution of PHP - Josh Watzman from Facebook
- 6 January, 2015 - A developer's-eye view of API client libraries - Frances Hocutt
- 11 December, 2014 - Phabricator for Wikimedia Projects - Quim Gil and Andre Klapper
- 25 November, 2014 - MediaWiki-Vagrant What is New With MediaWiki Vagrant with Bryan Davis and Dan Duvall (slides, video)
- 03 November, 2014 - Language Engineering: Content Translation Tool - Joel Sahleen
- 22 October, 2014 - Design Research in Product Development - Abbey Ripstra
- 06 October, 2014 - The Dashboarding Problem - Dan Andreescu and Nuria Ruiz
- 24 September, 2014 - The Very Basics of Phabricator - Andre Klapper
- 29 July, 2014 - HHVM in production: what that means for Wikimedia developers - Paul Tarjan
- 15 July, 2014 - Hadoop and Beyond. An overview of Analytics infrastructure - Andrew Otto
- 11 June, 2014 - How, What, Why of WikiFont - May Galloway and Monte Hurd
- 15 May, 2014 - Elasticsearch - Nik Everett
- 15 April, 2014 - A preliminary look at Parsoid internals - Subramanya Sastry and Gabriel Wicke
Nominations/Ideas for future tech talks
- The work Analytics engineering are doing and how we could help
- An understanding of Flow, where it's at and where it's going
- <someone> on the new visual design for MediaWiki/mediawiki.ui or whatever that library is called these days.
- QA (Zeljiko? Chris?) about browser testing
- Daniel Kinzler on core refactoring of Title and other classes.
- Pau Giner on dos and don'ts in user testing
- Niklas Laxström on conversing with robots that know Wikipedia (part of his Phd research)
- Antoine Musso on Jenkins - status: emailed Antoine/Antoine on paternity leave. hold.
- Moriel Schottlender on right-to-left support (adapting her blog post into a talk)
- Wikidata - Lydia/Community member - open to all
- Tony Tomasz -
- Webinar on Zotero translator coding
- Aaron Halfaker on machine learning support for wiki-workflows.
- C. Scott Ananian on using Parsoid output to implement bots/scrapers/offline readers