Community Wishlist Survey 2022/Larger suggestions/A banner on software-related Wikipedia articles to increase MediaWiki development and get Wishlist proposals implemented

A banner on software-related Wikipedia articles to increase MediaWiki development and get Wishlist proposals implemented

  • Problem: We're having these surveys every year but only a very small fraction gets implemented.
There's also a large backlog of code issues on phabricator, and many even very basic features haven't been implemented so far.
This is despite of the code issues not including many existing and potential proposals.
Often code issues, if implemented at all, take over 5 years from creation to implementation. There could be much more development.
  • Proposed solution: Add a banner asking developers to help with MediaWiki development.
The banner is only displayed at the top of all software-related articles (at least all software development related ones). Alternatively it could also be displayed on all pages.
  • Who would benefit: Wikipedia as a whole and all existing and potential sites using MediaWiki software.
  • More comments: It could be further improved by setting up e.g. a competition-like leaderboard of volunteer developers who helped the most on the page the banner links to. Maybe there could also be functionality to donate to teams/people who implement Wishlist proposals to fund their implementation. However, I think it would be best if the first time such a campaign is run, only volunteer development gets facilitated, especially because it may be difficult to design this in a way that's fair and well-functioning if that's possible at all (I think it could be fairly simple).

    Engineering would be required to put the banner only on software development related pages. This could be done by using categories. It would also be required for things like rankinglists and badges. The badges could be rewarded for certain tasks like closing a difficult issue or a number of issues and would get certified. Users could then use these badges on their userpages and even outside of Wikipedia. Moreover, engineering could help ensure that people can get started with the development well and quickly and that efforts are streamlined in a way that ensures contributions are constructive. Further details and additional ways could be worked out later or get added to this proposal (via edits and comments).


This proposal also got substantial support on reddit on multiple subreddits.
It seems like at the talk page Ayack Otourly Stryn and Sänger expressed discontempt with how Wishlists have been implemented so far.

Wikipedia runs on MediaWiki software as its core and most proposals here are about this software. It is this page or a similar page, that the page of the banner should link to or whose information the page should contain.

Note that many proposals are not yet code issues. For example, I have many proposals I never published so far because I'm still waiting for more important issues to get solved first (like a button on the Watchlist to see all changes since last visit per page which could save a lot of editors' time).

I also think that more of the WMF's financial resources should be dedicated to software development of the Wishlist proposals and phabricator tasks (this also got substantial support on reddit). However, this proposal here is "only" about the banner (and everything directly related to it on the landing page etc). I think that regardless of what's decided related to the use of funds and funding-mechanisms, we should strive to maximize volunteer MediaWiki-related development.

Note that visibility, feedback and being part of a campaign (roughly described), rather than an unfacilitated strive to help out by interested individuals, can substantially increase motivation. This could also be the idea behind #1lib1ref.

I don't think that such a campaign would draw substantial human resources (or time, expertise, effort) away from other important software development. In particular, away from open source software development/maintenance of important packages.

Discussion

  • @Prototyperspective: how would you want the banner to know if any specific page would be a target to show said banner? For example: a list of pages, a cateogry, a wikidata category, etc? — xaosflux Talk 19:09, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
A category for example. --Prototyperspective (talk) 20:31, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
How many experienced developers would be reading the Wikipedia articles for those languages in question? Wouldn't just having a global banner be much more appropriate with a wider reach? Ed6767 (talk) 22:33, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
  • Proposals should require engineering work; this one doesn't really do so. The only somehow engineering-related part of the proposal is to identify "software-related Wikipedia articles", so the proposal could be reduced to "create software that automatically identifies software-related Wikipedia articles and provides a list of them for displaying banners"… I don't really see how this is an improvement to be made by the Tech Team. Mostly, the page you're looking for seems to be CentralNotice/Request. ToBeFree (talk) 19:09, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Yes, it's that simple that it doesn't really require any engineering work of significance, so it's really just the decision(-making / willingness) of the WMF that causes this to not get implemented. However, it still requires a minor effort of engineering, which Xaosflux asked about above: how to identify said pages. Moreover, if a rankinglist and things like that are added these would also require engineering work. --Prototyperspective (talk) 20:31, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
  • You've listed this as something for "admins and patrollers" - is this something you'd only see showing for such groups - or is this something you want to target general readers of projects? — xaosflux Talk 19:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
General readers. It was the best fit of the available categories of the Wishlist Survey. --Prototyperspective (talk) 20:31, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
  • Per User:ToBeFree, this does not require any engineering resources. It sounds like CentralNotice/Request is indeed the only place you need to go. I'm going to archive this proposal. Thanks for participating in the survey! MusikAnimal (WMF) (talk) 19:42, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Please unarchive it: see the answer above, it does require engineering work. It's also a wishlist proposal. --Prototyperspective (talk) 20:31, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
  • @Prototyperspective, this has been archived but I was originally writing a comment regarding this proposal.
    I think your proposal and Reddit post is pretty inaccurate and outdated, and ignores so many points - you mention "intransparency" in the WMF despite literally everything being logged and your only citation being an opinion on a talk page? You mention the WMF is "unwilling to facilitate volunteer developers to help with the thousands of already-existing code issues", despite the fact the WMF provides Wikitech, Wikimedia Cloud Services, technology grants, hackathons, and so much more. You also said "basically nothing could be done about it", which is a very pessimistic view. I could go on, especially with your irrelevant raising of log4j and heartbleed. You have to remember too that there is a big difference as many MediaWiki features are implemented through extensions and gadgets - these are the things that often go unmaintained and become neglected - adding a feature to MediaWiki itself isn't necessarily as simple as you'd think.
    You also seemed to ignore that moving from Gerrit to GitLab is already planned and timelined?
    I just don't feel you've done the adequate amount of research required for a proposal like this. You do raise some good and well known issues however, and there are many more valid criticisms regarding the current developer situation that could be made, but you completely missed the point here with weak rationale. It is true that development is lacking and not many people know they can and/or want to contribute to MediaWiki development and how current resources and developer support isn't advertised or promoted as much as it should be. My advice is you should go back and rework your proposal and come up with a plan for how developers from outside the Wikimedia community would feel more welcomed and have more resources available to them, then submit it through the appropriate venues, rather than the community wishlist. Ed6767 (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
    See also mediawikiwiki:Bug management/Development prioritization Ed6767 (talk) 20:16, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Provide proof of your claims (which are wrong). I removed the largely irrelevant mention of log4j etc. With this unwillingness I was referring to the blockade to add such a banner. I already knew and discussed the GitLab switch before making the post. Your points basically all misunderstood my points and aren't about the proposal. The Wishlist is a perfectly suitable place to propose this. I already read that page. I reworked the proposal to remove the log4j side note. --Prototyperspective (talk) 20:57, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
@Prototyperspective, I'm not a fan of your dismissive attitude, but sure:
> With this unwillingness I was referring to the blockade to add such a banner
This was not clear, but if you have a solid proposal all you need is consensus through the appropriate venue, the community wishlist is for engineering proposals, the infrastructure for global notices is already in place. I was also responding to some of the points made in your Reddit post.
I'm not saying I'm opposed to this, onboarding more developers from the wider public would be a great thing - however, I'm saying you need better planning and better rationale. Onboarding too many developers at once may create a massive influx that would need planning in place, not to mention the responsibilities that would be in place for security, reviewing and setting up each proposal and documenting it. Simply throwing as many developers as we can at the wall and seeing who sticks isn't the best strategy and would, in my opinion, make things even more disorganised. Ed6767 (talk) 22:13, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
I wanted to keep it short on purpose. (Other than that, it's not like I've never discussed related things before.)
The annual plan is what I linked to because it does not show exactly where the money goes. I mean I could be wrong but so far I can only find very large composite expenses for whole areas of expenses like Programmatic (and some other users have expressed similar concerns). Basically, the only main reason for why I didn't link to it directly but a Talk page is because it obviously gives the reader another impression.
The technology-related efforts are great and all and I wasn't saying there was nothing going on there at all, I mean one would reasonably expect there to be efforts. I was referring to the banner only and related facilitation of volunteer development like larger, more visible hackathons, rankinglists, badges, outreach, and so on. I just don't think the banner is an "only" – it would be the starting point of larger things, basically a requirement to get the development capacities and do whatever else you'd like to do to improve the Wikipedia software (including facilitating more development).
> but if you have a solid proposal all you need is consensus through the appropriate venue, the community wishlist is for engineering proposals, the infrastructure for global notices is already in place
This proposal is appropriate here in three ways: it fits the description "community wish/proposal" and "platform improvement", it's about Community Wishlists in a meta way, and engineering is required to make it work. The infrastructure for global notices already being in place makes it even easier to implement, making it more strange that it hasn't been done before. But that's not all the engineering that would go into this, especially depending on how well it's implemented (the better the more engineering would go into it...even though the survey isn't called "Community's Engineering Wishlist").
The linked reddit post was not meant to be a major point, it was just to show that externally there is considerable support for doing so – reddit is not the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community so it has not a significance as large as you may have thought I'm suggesting it to be.
> Onboarding too many developers at once may create a massive influx that would need planning in place, not to mention the responsibilities that would be in place for security, reviewing and setting up each proposal and documenting it.
See? These things would require engineering. However, it would be about implementing proposals, not about creating more proposals. Maybe I should also add more details about that (including streamlining and onboarding) beyond badges which would also require engineering.
Having such a large wall of text under "Discussion" is a problem though so maybe it should be wrapped in a collapsed template one can expand.
--Prototyperspective (talk) 00:20, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
It seems that as I've critiqued your idea you've clarified and developed your idea, but in a contradictory way - and what I said is more than engineering, but would require policy, funding and planning. These are some great ideas to increase onboarding, and I think having a much larger hackathon event that is publicly advertised to an audience wider than the general community is a brilliant idea that should be developed, but there needs to be much more in depth planning as for a project as large as MediaWiki, it's not trivial. Not to mention some of your comments disregarding the WMFs software engineering team [1][2][3] and arguing with people on Phabricator seem, in my opinion, quite disrespectful towards their continued hard work, especially as a developer I have worked on and benefitted from their work and support, along with many others.
Ignoring that we're swerving vastly off topic, I still don't think this is appropriate for the wishlist:
  • Overlaps with another team: see mediawikiwiki:Developer Advocacy (you may want to open a phab ticket with a more developed suggestion there for their consideration)
  • You still haven't proven that this needs engineering work (i.e. development of a new tool/tech/etc.) - the tech exists, policy page and program development is different and would require further discussion at a more appropriate venue
  • This isn't just one problem that needs solving, but rather something that should be developed into deeper proposals in a different venue - this is not what the community wishlist is for
Of course, it goes without saying that the quickest way to get what you want in FOSS is to aim to fix things yourself so that you can also contribute and help the community, and it may also help with giving your perspective for developing future proposals. Ed6767 (talk) 02:04, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
You said it didn't require engineering work. I certainly don't oppose related efforts of "policy, funding" (and planning) which you think are required for this.
I'm very grateful for the developers. I was saying there should be more development. And not even once were my concerns addressed in my arguments there even though I repeated them about 10 times, trying to make them ever clearer than before. I always remained respectful, not sure why you're suggesting I wasn't. Other than that, I think there ought to be certain humility when using donated money.
I don't think that "we're swerving vastly off topic" – you've done that by causing a large a wall of text beneath this proposal that's largely not about the proposal at all.
It's not about FOSS but about Wikipedia/Wikimedia and it's a very due platform improvement proposal which does require engineering (lots of it if you do it very well). --Prototyperspective (talk) 11:24, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

Voting

  •   Support TheInternetGnome (talk) 08:45, 30 January 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support JPxG (talk) 01:07, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support Vukky (talk) 08:22, 2 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support However it gets done, I agree Wikipedia could use more volunteer developers Ph03n1x77 (talk) 07:03, 5 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support Thingofme (talk) 13:11, 5 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support - Darwin Ahoy! 14:55, 5 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support --Ciao • Bestoernesto 19:08, 6 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support Sounds like a great idea to pique the interest of students, casual coders, and full-time SEs with free time. I'm very much in favor of anything that can be done to encourage open source contributions. paul2520 (talk) 17:11, 8 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support Gaurav (talk) 02:55, 11 February 2022 (UTC)
  •   Support If this will be shown instead of donation banners, YES. Valerio Bozzolan (talk) 16:39, 11 February 2022 (UTC)