One of the more successful schemes to come out of the San Fransisco stable in recent years has been the Community Wishlist Survey. Last month's issue of The Signpost, Special Report 'NPP: This could be heaven or this could be hell for new users – and for the reviewers' briefly mentioned the 'Christmas' Wish List. But what is this wish list exactly? Who runs it? Who is it for, and what does it achieve?
Begun in 2015 based on a model developed by Wikimedia Deutschland's Technical Wishes team (in English), who run a wishlist survey on German Wikipedia, the international wishlist process is operated by a Wikimedia Foundation department known as Community Tech. The Wikimedia Foundation set up this team in response to Wikimedia community requests for a mechanism to request Wikimedia Foundation staff responses to software development requests from Wikimedia editors and content maintenance volunteers of Wikimedia projects, the best known of which is the English Wikipedia.
The team is headed by product managers Niharika Kohli and Joe Matazzoni, and managed by Danny Horn (aka Toughpigs) whose briefs as Director of Product Management encompass: Editing, Growth, Community Tech, Anti-Harassment Tools and the Language team. The team was created by Toby Negrin, Chief Product Officer. Negrin, who joined the WMF in 2013, took on the responsibility in November 2017 of leading the departments concerned with the development of software products. His tasks include "...cultivating a culture of excellence, engagement, and sustainability within the product engineering teams."
The Community Tech team's mission is "to work on projects that have a big impact". Community Tech is a Wikimedia Foundation department whose mission "is focused on meeting the needs of active Wikimedia editors for improved, expert-focused curation and moderation tools [...] For the purposes of this team, the "core community" will be defined as those editors who participate in the curatorial and administrative layers of the Wikimedia projects..."
The Community Wishlist Survey aims for development of the most wanted enhancements to the MediaWiki software package as used by the Wikimedia Foundation projects. Many of these developments have proven to be of benefit to editors and maintenance workers: "The team is a Wikimedia Foundation product team focused on meeting the needs of active Wikimedia contributors for improved, expert-focused curation and moderation tools."
"The creation of the Community Tech team is a direct outcome of requests from core contributors for improved support for moderation tools, bots, and the other features that help the Wikimedia projects succeed. The team works closely with contributors, volunteer developers, and the Community Engagement department."
Divided into 15 sections, the wish list also addresses the needs of Wikidata, Wikisource, and Wiktionary. In contrast to the Wikipedia policy, campaigning and canvassing for votes is expressly allowed.
The team mainly processes development tasks that can be resolved quickly and "that will have a direct benefit for the most active contributors who participate in the curatorial and administrative layers of the Wikimedia projects, as well as contributors who work on technical features for the projects such as templates, modules, gadgets, user scripts, and bots". While the team must decline requests–even if they reach the top ten–that are outside its scope, significant concerns have been voiced by the community that the team may be too small for some important requests that require in-depth programming or re-programming. Any proposals that do not meet the top-ten can always be submitted the following year. Occasionaly, the team will however address issues outside the wish list, such as the addidtional features for the AfC which were begun in May this year and are now reaching completion. Some of these enhancements, which also include the implementation of ORES and Copypatrol, may also prove to be of benefit to the patrolling of new articles by the New Page Reviewer group.
The Community Tech team includes Niharika Kohli, Joe Matazzoni (product managers), Alex Ezell (engineering manager), Moriel Schottlender (tech lead), Leon Ziemba, Sam Wilson, Max Semenik (developers) and Prateek Saxena (UX designer), some of whom have been around on Wikipedia for a long time before joining the WMF; Max Semenik and Leon Ziemba (better known to Wikipedians as MusikAnimal) are also en.Wiki admins; Leon provided invaluable help during the set up of the New Page Reviewer right. The Tech Team has experience in both software development and a growing awareness of the development requests which community Wikimedia editors are regularly expressing.