Report of Maartens visit to Wikimania 2015. This report is in English so more people can read it. I finished this report in September 2015 and it also contains some updates of things that happened after Wikimania.
My visit to Wikimania started early. I flew to Mexico City on the Thursday the week for the conference. This left me with plenty of time to meet up with people and to visit things in and around Mexico city. Some of the visited highlights were Templo Mayor, National Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Castle and of course Teotihuacán. It was really nice to be rested and ready for the main conference.
One of the recurring topics was the monuments database and ErfgoedBot mainly in use for Wiki Loves Monuments. I've developed most of the code (especially the backend code) and I maintained it for the last couple of years. Last year I organized Wiki Loves Monuments (2012) I was able to get some more people on board to help out, but after that it slowly died down. I asked around for someone else becoming the lead maintainer, but I didn't find anyone. The underlying library (pywikibot compat) was going to break and I didn't feel like investing time so I pulled the plug (mailing list). Quite a few people approached me about this before and during Wikimania. I explained them the situation and what needs to be done: Someone else needs to step up as lead maintainer and organize things. Other people (including me) will help out. I am not going to take the lead in this. The positive part is that the bot and the database are appreciated by a lot of people and other people are willing to help out. The negative part is that unfortunately nobody stepped up as lead maintainer during Wikimania. I sure hoped after Wikimania someone would do that because otherwise Wiki Loves Monuments will have a problem this year. During Wikimania Jean-Frédéric worked on the code and just before the end of August he stepped up as lead maintainer. All the important tasks were up and running just before the start of Wiki Loves Monuments 2015.
Wikimania traditionally starts with two days of pre-conference. One of the main pre-conference events is the hackathon. I only went to the hackathon, I didn't attend any other pre-conference session. Last years hackathon in London didn't work out that well. Too many people not focused on development spread out over different rooms watered down the event. That was certainly not the case at this hackathon. The developers had a nice big room with big round tables to work on and several rooms to go to for sessions. I helped several people with Pywikibot and explained how ErfgoedBot works. I only attended one session, the WMF Engineering Management Q&A. The WMF is a state of organizational flux right now. Was nice to hear what kind of plans they have. I was quite happy to see that others picked up the Organize a (annual?) toollabs survey proposal.
I used most of my time on the hackathon for implementing NoclaimsBot. Wikidata has almost 15 million items. Of these 15 million well over 3 million items don't have any statements at all. The bot tries to reduce this number my adding the first statement(s) based on template usage on Wikipedia. I already had a lot of code and ran based on the Dutch and the English Wikipedia. Now it's set up in a way it can easily scale to any language. I plan to complete this in the next months so it can run as a service on Wikidata. This combined with the other (AI based) bots people are working on should hopefully reduce the number of items without claims a lot.
On the last day of the (main) conference we had the hackathon showcase. That was really inspiring.
The hackathon was very well organized and for chapter people several pre-conference events seem to been organized, but I was under the impression that for quite a big group of people, the editors, there wasn't really anything organized.
Sum of all paintings
The sum of all paintings is a project I started in 2014. The goal of the project is to get an item on Wikidata for every notable painting. During my stay in Mexico I talked with a lot of people about this project to explain and to get the interested. I also gave a presentation about the project. The room was huge so it looked very empty, but I think quite a few people showed up. I shared my slides and my slides with notes right after the presentation. These slides seem to have been shared quite a lot! After my own session, Sanna Hirvonen was up. She works for the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma which is part of the Finnish National Gallery. After her session we started talking and after Wikimania I uploaded their complete collection of paintings to Wikidata. I talked with quite a few people from other chapters involved in GLAM work and I hope to see more people join in.
Wikidata is getting bigger and bigger. Wikimania 2015 had a string of Wikidata related sessions. For a lot of people the new features aren't coming fast enough. After Wikimania arbitrary access (the ability to access information in an item from any page) and unit (painting width is 50 cm) got deployed so that should make a lot of people happy. Also non-technical challenges came up: Healthy community, how to fight vandalism, including Wikidata data in Wikipedia, etc. A common pattern here is that we have a very enthusiastic person who barges in somewhere upsetting the local community. The local community pushes back a lot being way more conservative than it actually is. In the end it becomes a lot harder to get something done. In my opinion we should take it easy, do small tests, improve on it and slowly introduce things. This way the local communities can help steer it in the right direction and they won't feel ambushed.
Unlike a couple of years ago when we just started doing GLAM projects, this year GLAM was an integral part of Wikimania and even a separate track. Progress differs from country to country, but I wonder where we are on the hype cycle now. GLAM is cool so everyone tries to be GLAM and all outreach seems to be grouped under "GLAM". We had some nice presentations, but some of them gave be the idea that we're not really growing that much anymore. We don't seem to be learning from each others mistakes and make them ourselves too. We don't seem to have a global strategy what we want to achieve with these GLAM projects. I think this is hindering our effectiveness.
Of course I went to many more interesting and less interesting sessions. It was nice to see familiar faces again and to meet new people. Having everyone in or close to one venue was really nice. I'm happy I went and I plan to go again next year.