Community Insights/2018 Report/Technical Collaboration

Community Engagement Insights 2018 Report: Support & Safety
Noun project - Community Building.svg

The Technical Collaboration team, which was recently split into the new Community Relations team and Developer Advocacy, helped staff and volunteer developers build features in collaboration with Wikimedia communities. They support Foundation’s Product teams, volunteer developers, tech ambassadors, and other contributors who want to get involved in the planning, development, and deployment of Wikimedia software features. They act as liaisons between non-technical communities and developers, and they organize developer outreach programs and events, in order to create software tools and other products to be used by Wikimedia communities. They also supervise community health and metrics in Wikimedia technical spaces.

In the survey, the Technical Collaboration team would like to answer the following questions:

  1. In what ways do Wikimedia community members participate in supporting software for Wikimedia projects?
  2. In what ways do Wikimedia volunteer developers participate in supporting software for Wikimedia projects?
  3. What are the changes to awareness of Technical Collaboration programs?
  4. What are the attitudes towards health and engagement of volunteer developers in the Wikimedia projects? Are there changes?


1. In what ways do Wikimedia communities participate in supporting software for Wikimedia projects?Edit

In general, Wikimedia community members who support Wikimedia software development engage in submitting bugs, participating in online discussions and creating software related to wikimedia the most (TC15). High-activity editors (VAE) report participating more in submitting bugs and participating in software discussions, but they also highly reported testing new software. Program and affiliate organizers also seem to have similar patterns of behavior as high-activity editors editors. Low-activity editors participate to a lesser extent in submitting bugs.

A high proportion of editors reported that they don't care to give feedback to developers (TC58). From a random sample of editors, 59% of low-activity and 51% of high-activity editors reported that they don't care to "give feedback to developers". Among editors who do want to provide feedback, they say that they prefer giving feedback on wiki, rather than through other channels. Volunteer developers, program organizers and affiliate organizers mostly prefer to use Phabricator, with volunteer developers also preferring

Editors reported highly preferring Tech/News for receiving updates and news about WMF software development (TC41). For high-activity editors, Wikimedia community pages/village pumps and Wikimedia news sites like the Signpost or the Kurier were also highly selected. Wikimedia mailing lists and Wikimedia Foundation products seem to be the third group of preferred sites among high-activity editors. For low-activity editors, social networks, the Wikimedia Foundation blog and community pages were preferred after Tech/News. Differences between 2017 and 2018 CE Insights survey were checked, but no significant differences were found.

2. In what ways do Wikimedia volunteer developers participate in supporting software for Wikimedia projects?Edit

Most developers preferred contributing to Wikimedia APIs, followed by templates, gadgets, bots, and extensions (TC25). Very few developers worked on DevOps on Wikimedia Infrastructure. When removing Foundation staff and focusing only on volunteer developers, these general patterns persist.

Most developers prefer Javascript, PHP and Python as their programming language of choice (TC61). When removing Foundation employees and focusing only on volunteer developers, these patterns persist, except that PHP is more preferred by just a few people.

Developers reported preferring and Phabricator the most for receiving developer support (TC62). About half as many developers responding to this question selected IRC channels, Mailing lists, other wikis and github. When filtering out Foundation staff from this question, a few more volunteer developers preferred Phabricator over For the remaining channels, similar patterns persisted.

Volunteer developers report contributing to Wikimedia because they want to support the mission, they want to help editors, they want to support free software, they want to learn and acquire experience, and they want to improve readers' experience (TC26). Options that were selected less were because it's part of research or studies and because it's part of the respondent's job. When removing Foundation staff from this question, these response patterns persist.

2. What are the changes to awareness of Technical Collaboration programs?Edit

A large majority of responding contributors are unaware of Tech Ambassador or Tech Translator programs (TC59). 91% of contributors reporting in the survey have never heard of Tech Ambassadors and 88% never heard of the Tech Translator program. Nine percent reported that they are aware of the Tech Ambassador program and 12% reported being aware of the Tech Translator program. One percent are Tech Ambassadors and 3% are Tech Translators.

A large majority of responding contributors are unaware of the Technical Collaboration Guidance and the Code of Conduct for Technical Spaces (TC59). Just 4% of about 465 contributors are aware of both initiatives. About 20% are unsure whether they are aware, and 77% reported not being aware.

3. What are the attitudes towards engagement of the volunteer developer community in the Wikimedia projects? Are there changes?Edit

Between 2017 and 2018, we find that there has been no change in the characteristics of the Wikimedia developer community around perceptions of friendliness, respect, diversity, and welcoming (TC21). Looking at scores 4 and 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, 69% reported that the community is friendly, 68% reported the community is respectful, 47% reported that the community is diverse and 58% reported that the community is welcoming. The mean scores were 3.72 for friendly, 3.79 for respect, 3.52 for diversity and 3.62 for welcoming. Differences were not measured between the means to see which were statistically significant from the others.

71% of 111 volunteer developers are satisfied or very satisfied with the software they use in Wikimedia (TC01). 15% reported they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied and 15% reported being neither.

Developers reported being most satisfied with documentation for using Wikimedia APIs, writing bots, and writing tools/hosting them on Wikimedia labs (TC08). More developers reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with contributing to MediaWiki Core. When looking at only volunteer developers and excluding Foundation employees, these trends seem to persist.

Among 108 volunteer developers, 48% agree or strongly agree that the Foundation collaborates well with volunteer developers to build software (TC02). The mean response for 2018 was 3.31 and for 2017 it was 3.30. Since the 2017 data included both Foundation employees and volunteers, Wikimedia Foundation employees were not removed from this response in order to compare the data from last year.

Most useful resultsEdit

  • Contributors prefer giving feedback about new software features on the wikis, rather than through places like IRC or mailing lists.
  • Awareness of the Tech Ambassadors and Tech Translators appears to be low. This was expected for the new Tech/Ambassadors program and to some extent for Tech Translators, which focused specifically on technical subjects. In the future, their translation program will expand to support volunteer translations in general, and not focus on technically focused translations only. We are not certain if people are unfamiliar with the term tech translators specifically, even if they are familiar with volunteer translations in general.
  • Tech News is by far the preferred way to get news about technical changes.

Next stepsEdit


See AlsoEdit

Include links to appendix materials (SPSS output, additional graphics, etc.)