A couple of weeks ago I attended the Wikimania 2019 conference in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the general and global conference for the Wikimedia movement, in which people interested in free knowledge gather together for a few days. The event happens annually, and this was my first time attending such conference. Wikimania 2019 main program ran for 3 days, but we had 2 pre-conference days in which a hackathon was held.
The venue was an amazing building in the Stockholm University, Aula Magna.
The hackathon reunited technical contributors, such as developers, which are interested in a variety of technical challenges in the wiki movement. You can find in the hackathon people interested in wiki edits automation, research, anti harassment tools and also infrastructure engineering and architecture, among other things.
My full time job is at the Wikimedia Cloud Services team. We provide platforms and services for wikimedia movement collaborators who want to perform technical tasks and contributions. Some examples of what we provide:
- a public cloud service based on Openstack, AKA IaaS. We call this CloudVPS.
- a PaaS product, based on Kubernetes and GridEngine. We call this Toolforge.
- direct access to wiki databases in both SQL and XML format.
- several other software products, like Quarry, PAWS, etc.
These services are widely used in the wiki community. About 40% of total edits to wiki projects come from software running in our platform. Some coworkers and myself attended the hackathon to provide support related to these tools and services, and to introduce them to new contributors.
We had session/talk called Introduction to Wikimedia Cloud Services the first day of the hackathon, and folks showed genuine interests in the things we offer. Some stuff I did during the hackathon included creating lots of Toolforge accounts, fixing issues in Cloud VPS projects, talks with many people about related technical topics, etc.
Once the hackathon ended, the main program conference started. I was amazed to see how vibrant the wiki movement is. Seeing people from all over the world sharing such a great mission and goals was really inspiring and I truly felt grateful for being part of it. The conference is joined by many wiki enthusiasts, editors and other volunteers from many organizations and local wiki chapters. For the record, the amount of paid staff from the Wikimedia Foundation is limited.
Honestly, until I attended this conference I was not aware of the scope and size of the movement and the variety of topics and approaches that involve free knowledge, the ultimate goal, which is not a far-fetched mission: we are in good track despite the many challenges :-)
After the conference, we had another week in Stockholm for a Tehcnical Engagement team offsite.