Jimmy Wales asks for more developers at FOSDEM

As the opening speaker at the FOSDEM 2005 conference in Brussels, Jimmy Wales appealed to the development community for support on the technical side of running Wikipedia, and coverage of his remarks was published in several places last week.

Wales' appearance at the conference came 26 February, but reports of his remarks took a few days to trickle into English-language media. On ZDNet's UK site last Tuesday, Ingrid Marson's article on the speech, "Wikipedia needs help to keep growing", focused on the need for people to help handle Wikipedia's continuing growth in traffic. While the necessary hardware is easy to provide, Wales said, the worry is that a lack of developers to manage the increasingly complex server structure will restrict the development of the project.

Of particular concern is making sure the encyclopaedia will be resistant to the ever-growing problems presented by spambots. "It's very important that Wikipedia doesn't become the next Usenet", said Wales. The article noted that people interested in helping with development tasks should sign up for the wikitech mailing list or join the MediaWiki IRC channel.

Spymac reprinted an abbreviated version of the article, "Wikipedia needs public's help", on its website Thursday. Several bloggers who attended the conference also commented on Wales' address, with generally favorable impressions.

Interview signals future directions

In a pre-conference interview, Wales commented further on some of the issues developers are dealing with, along with answering general questions about the project. As part of these issues, he talked about efforts to produce reviewed or stable versions of Wikipedia content, including print and optical disc formats.

Wales promised that an article rating system would be implemented soon, although this would be for information-gathering purposes only prior to developing a more formal review process. An article rating feature designed by developer Magnus Manske is currently being tested and may be incorporated into a future MediaWiki software upgrade.

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