Wikimedia Engineering/Report/2012/October/summary

This content is prepared for inclusion in the October 2012 Wikimedia Foundation report. It is a shorter and simpler version of the full Wikimedia engineering report for October 2012 for less technically savvy readers.


VisualEditor, the upcoming rich-text interface aiming to make it easier to edit wiki pages, didn't see many visible changes in October, but was heavily restructured behind the scenes. This "refactoring" made the code more modular, and easier to change and extend, even for developers who are not familiar with the entirety of the VisualEditor's code.

As for Parsoid, the parsing program that translates plain wikitext into HTML annotated for easy editing, and vice-versa, it was heavily tested in October. The team focused on testing the JavaScript prototype parser on 100,000 randomly-selected articles from the English Wikipedia. They compared the articles' original wikitext to the one obtained after a "round-trip" (the operation consisting of converting wikitext to annotated HTML, and back to wikitext).

For a little over 75% of these articles, this resulted in exactly the same wikitext, as intended. For another 18%, there were some minor differences without consequence. Finally, just under 7% of articles contained errors that change the produced HTML structure. The team is now focusing on these remaining issues, in preparation for the December release.

Editor engagement[edit]

Version 5 of Article feedback, a quality assessment tool also aiming to engage readers and encourage them to contribute, is still being tested on 10% of articles on the English Wikipedia. A few additional features and improvements were developed and deployed to the site in October, mostly related to abuse prevention and moderation. After a few final upcoming improvements, this tool is expected to be expanded to all articles on the English Wikipedia by the end of 2012, and to other Wikimedia sites in 2013.

Additional features and improvements were also developed for the Page Curation tool (an interface for experienced contributors to review and improve newly created pages), based on the feedback provided by users. A dashboard of metrics was created to better assess the impact of this tool.

The MicroDesign team (focusing on small design issues) mostly worked behind the scenes in October. They began working on a new tool called "Agora" to make it easier to build and deploy future improvements, and started to improve the templates that are displayed when the "edit" window is opened.

The Editor engagement experiments (E3) team deployed a post-edit confirmation message to 16 Wikipedia sites. They also tested a redesigned account creation page and developed an event logging tool to help measure the success of future experiments. The E3 team is looking to hire new developers to join their ranks.


In October, the Mobile team unveiled a redesign of the mobile site, with particular emphasis on navigation and readability, for example through new typography.

Wikipedia Zero (a collaboration with mobile carriers to enable free mobile access to Wikipedia) expanded to include a new partnership with Saudi Telecom Company (STC), reaching about 25 millions of customers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. The Wikipedia Zero program aims to increase readership in countries where the internet is primarily accessed from mobile devices; initial numbers indicate that the initiative is indeed growing Wikipedia readership in Africa and Asia.

The Mobile team also started to decommission the Wiki Loves Monuments mobile application, as the contest ended in October. Last, a native Wikipedia application was released for use with Microsoft's newest operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Language engineering[edit]

The Language engineering team, whose work aims to reduce barriers to participation for contributors using languages other than English (especially those using a non-Roman alphabet), continued to improve their Universal language selector, and the interface for translating site-wide notices.

They also developed a JavaScript library (a bundle of code reusable by other developers) offering an interface to enter characters not available on a user's keyboard, and discussed with the VisualEditor team to ensure proper language support in the upcoming editing interface. Last, they shared their experience in designing (and testing) tools and features for a multilingual audience.