This session documentation was approved by one of the speakers.
Diverse users are at the core of our movement. Developing software for users who have different technical requirements, levels of technical knowledge, and interest in software development is both challenging and inspiring. This shapes the way we work, communicate and collaborate with each other. With the Technical Wishes Project, we have created an open and collaborative process to address the requirements of various users. The basic building blocks are surveys among the existing active editors - first on German Wikipedia, and later also internationally on Meta. In this talk, we want to share experiences and gained knowledge from the Technical Wishes Project, and introduce our collaborative approach to address the technical needs of a diverse community. We will distill the lessons learned, so you can also apply them to your own projects in other fields.
Listening (Presentation and Q&A, 60 min)
Shared experience and ideas on community centered software development and technical collaboration in our diverse movement
Birgit Müller, Community Communications Manager, Software Development Department/Wikimedia Deutschland
Danny Horn, Product Manager, Community Tech Team/Wikimedia Foundation
Ryan Kaldari, Engineering Manager, Community Tech Team/Wikimedia Foundation
Danny Horn, Ryan Kaldari (both from the Wikimedia Foundation), Birgit Müller, Leszek Manicki (both from Wikimedia Deutschland) opened the session. They made clear that the session was not specifically for software-developers, but for everyone interested in the user-centred approach of WMDE and WMF. The first part of the session was mainly about presenting the idea and implementation of the “Technical Wishes Project” that was originally initiated and prototyped by the WMDE team and the German-speaking communities.
The key elements of the approach are:
Collection and discussion of technical requests by the community
Priorization/voting by the community and estimation/priorization by the WMDE/WMF teams (what is feasable, what not, what can be adressed when and how)
Continuous support by the WMDE/WMF teams (estimation, communication, coordination, development)
Close collaboration, transparent development and communication process
(The slides of the session are self-explanatory. So no description of the presentation here).
After the presentation, the stage was opened for questions from the audience. Some participants expressed their positive surprise and satisfaction about the project. It was mentioned that also other WMF teams should work with a similar approach. Ryan and Danny outlined that their team is consulted more and more often by other WMF teams. Erica Litrenta mentioned that WMF’s Technical Collaboration team is going to work on a technical collaboration guideline for product teams in the next US fiscal year (starting July 2016).
Another question was about how to best reach more people getting involved in the Wishlist project, how to get more participation in prioritizing technical wishes. Birgit answered that she has made really good experience with her workshop approach (“Tech on Tour”), as in real life meetings you can get much better what you want. The WMDE team is planning to organize user-specific workshops in addition to the survey approach to identify the technical needs of specific users.
One participant suggested that every community could have “a wish for free”, because smaller communities had also specific (technical) wishes and shouldn’t be ignored. The presenters agreed that it was important to involve smaller communities too, but highlighted that the current process was only a prototype and was still to be improved.
In the end, the presenters mentioned again that they were documenting all steps and said there were doing things “as fast as possible”.