MediaWiki developers have begun plans to implement a variety of changes to improve the handling of images on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects. These include the addition of a new image server, along with some changes to the MediaWiki software in order to improve performance.
Due to increasing loads, the image server has become progressively more sluggish over time. A new dedicated server has been ordered and will hopefully improve response times for images and other media files. In the meantime, uploads from the Wikimedia Commons have temporarily been moved to a separate machine to reduce the load.
Wikimedia Chief Technical Officer Brion Vibber indicated on the wikitech-l mailing list that he would start working on some software changes that should also help the situation. One element proposed was to put different revisions of the same file at different underlying URLs, to facilitate caching. This would not affect the way file names work for normal use by editors; image description pages are distinct from the URL of the file itself. However, it would help by preventing situations in which readers see the cached version of a vandalized image even after the vandalism has already been reverted.
The proposal received a generally positive reception. Tim Starling suggested that this might be a good opportunity to add an archive of deleted images. Doing so could reduce complaints about image deletion by allowing mistakes to be rectified easily; image deletion is one of the few actions administrators can perform that is not reversible. Vibber also posted some of the technical details regarding his proposed changes, which would become part of MediaWiki version 1.6.