User:TJones (WMF)/Notes/WikiConference North America 2018 Trip Report


October 2018 — See TJones_(WMF)/Notes for other projects. From October 18-21, 2018 I attended WikiConference North America 2018.

WikiConference North America 2018[edit]

Some highlights and thoughts:

  • I had a few nice conversations with people about search—and got to meet some new people—after introducing myself at the Hackathon as the “tell me why your search sucks” guy.
    • One of my conversations spawned a discussion on the Discovery list about Blazegraph + Elasticsearch
    • It’s clear that the Advanced Search Interface currently in Beta will be very helpful to some people; it would be educational if it showed you the query it generated, as aspiring power users would quickly learn the keywords and query patterns it generates.
  • I was interviewed for the Wikijabber podcast; I talked mostly about search and a bit about my experience working at the Wikimedia Foundation, for about 45 minutes. (That’s less than 25 minutes if you listen at double speed!)
    • Previous participants in the Wikijabber podcast include Deb and Amir—I am in illustrious company!
  • I took part in the “ask the developers” panel.
  • As a language nerd, I really appreciated that the main venue, Thompson Library, has 49 “Foundation Stones”—metal plates “featuring engravings in a wide range of writing and graphic notation systems”—with more writing systems on the main elevator doors.
    • Few are represented on Commons [1], so I encouraged some of the photographers there to take pictures!
    • There’s a PDF brochure about the Foundation stones available, and I even found a tiny, grainy video from 2010 about the Foundation Stones from the person who designed them.
  • At the Hackathon/Tech Day, I tried to work on the Chinese analysis problem of splitting high and low surrogate characters ([phab:T168427 T168427]), but I found or created a related problem in my local Vagrant instance that fortunately is not a problem in production. Once I track down whether it’s something I did or something generally wrong with Vagrant, I’ll report a bug if warranted.
  • The Culture Crawl is not really my kind of thing, but I went on a tour of the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, where we were for the day. You should check out your local library if you haven’t been there in a long time—modern libraries are keeping up with the times and they are awesome!
  • The keynote addresses were three mini-keynotes limited to 15 minutes each, which was a nice way to cover a lot of diverse topics and keep it interesting. (Slides for one of them)
  • I attended a presentation on JADE, (slides) which is a system to provide feedback on ORES judgements (and other edits). Looks interesting.
  • I attended a presentation on How to podcast (slides); I ran my own podcast for years, but there was new information here about making podcasts easier to produce and distribute.
  • I made it to most of Yuri’s presentation on Life beyond TEXT. We really can do neat stuff with charts and graphs!
  • The lightning talks were, as always, fun.
  • I attended an interesting presentation on getting linguistics students to write (or at least contribute to) articles on linguistics, which I found very interesting. Cultivating New Student Editors in the Linguistics Classroom. In addition to getting new information on-wiki for under-developed linguistics topics, it seems like a good way to recruit new editors.
  • The best part of the conference, for me, was getting to meet and talk with people I see rarely or hadn’t met before.

You can see the full conference schedule online and find the slides for many of the presentations on Commons, and see more photos and stuff at the parent category. Videos of many/most presentations should be available eventually.