Proceedings of Wikitech-l

MediaWiki nominated for prize, new database dumps available

This week on Wikitech-l, time was a regular problem, new dumps were created, the use of meta templates was questioned, encrypted editing was brought up, CVS access was again requested and denied, a German proposal for article standardization was made, MediaWiki got nominated for an award, private user data was asked for, and a number of features were requested.

Time—and its unwillingness to follow the usual "flowing forward only" paradigm—was an issue on more than one occasion. The date on a number of servers was set incorrectly for some time to the year 2025, which caused some minor problems. There was also an issue of edit histories flowing in the wrong direction on some articles.

Database dumps

New database dumps are available at as of last Monday, 16 May. This had previously been a sticking point. The lack of new dumps had prevented new stats runs for some time. Erik Zachte has since posted statistics based on this dump for Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects.

The new dumps are no longer available in split files. This may cause problems for some users, who have trouble downloading multi-gigabyte files. It was suggested that the dumps be bittorrented, but it may not be very beneficial and could not completely replace the normal download. There were other discussions on the process used to import the Wikipedia into a MediaWiki installation on a user's computer.

Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason requested that the user_id, user_name and user_options fields be included in the dumps. This may raise a privacy issue for users, because it would then be possible for anyone to see the full user preferences of anyone else. It isn't as compromising as giving the hashed password, but it's not necessary information, either.

Free software trophy

MediaWiki is one of the three nominees for the Trophées du Libre competition in the PHP Special Prize category. The competition, now in its second edition, is a trophy for free software projects sponsored by Nexen Services. Submitted by developer Brion Vibber, MediaWiki was selected as a finalist by a jury that included the creator of PHP.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for 26 May in Soissons, France. Ryo and notafish will be attending on behalf of the project.

Other notes

The issue of meta-templates came up, with David Gerard asking if they should continue to be supported. Meta-templates are templates that are used to standardize the format of other templates, with the other templates being included in pages. Potentially they can increase the overhead on the servers. Wikimedia CFO Daniel Mayer noted that templates within templates are needed as part of the donation forms, however.

Lee Daniel Crocker announced his first draft of a semantic model for wiki syntax, a possible preliminary step toward an improved syntax standard (see archived story).

A user asked about the feasibility of encrypted Wikipedia editing, for user protection from their government or other nefarious agents. Also the feasibility of warning someone that they're editing by IP after they have registered a username was brought up.

Alexander Sigachov twice requested CVS access to update the Russian language files, with no response. It is supposed to be easy to get that access, but that access has been very difficult to get of late. Another developer requested the access and was denied a few weeks ago. Like the Wikipedia:Administrator mantra of "this should be no big deal", it appears to have become a big deal. CVS is the method through which alterations to the source code of MediaWiki are added to the official source code.

A German user suggested making a framework to standardize the articles on a single topic across all languages using a different kind of meta template, which all articles on that topic would then be required to follow. Exception was taken to this concept, due to the differences of format between different languages, and the un-wiki-ness of requiring a new article to have a very specific format.

New features desired in MediaWiki:

Further reading


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There's no need to publish errata on a correctable medium. Online newspapers publish edititions and remove factually incorrect information permanently. That is also what we should do. You can make a note that a previous version of the report contained errors which have been corrected, if you like. -- Tim Starling 03:31, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost#Is this a wiki or a newspaper?Ben Brockert (42) UE News 03:40, May 30, 2005 (UTC)


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