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Tech Talk: The History of MediaWiki & Wikimedia Tech
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Idea from the hackathon:
Convince someone like @brion or @mark or @tstarling to create a written history of Wikimedia Tech and Mediawiki. What happened when, who did what, how did big decisions get made. Then we could do a tech talk on the same topic.

Is this something that any of you are interested in doing? People seemed really excited about it and it would also serve as a good onboarding tool for newcomers to get oriented.

Does something like this already exist somewhere? Is there anyone else who should be involved in this? Or is this a terrible idea that nobody will work on.

Event Timeline

Rfarrand created this task.Apr 11 2016, 6:55 PM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptApr 11 2016, 6:55 PM
Rfarrand triaged this task as Medium priority.Apr 11 2016, 6:55 PM
Qgil added a subscriber: Johan.Apr 12 2016, 12:12 PM

fwiw @Johan was thinking of creating a timeline of Wikimedia software products.

brion added a comment.Apr 13 2016, 9:22 PM

That sounds fun. :)

yay! @brion is this something you realistically have time to work on or even just help @Johan with the initial timeline?

Are you going to be at Wikimania? This is also potentially a topic to present at the hackathon... We are going to have a reasonably large number of newcomers and tech-curious people. @Quiddity and I are trying to come up with content and activities for them.

Are there any existing wikis that try to document some of this?

Does something like this already exist somewhere?

and also (which is a subset of - see thumbnail image there, which is created by )

Rfarrand lowered the priority of this task from Medium to Low.Apr 14 2016, 6:58 PM
Qgil added a comment.Apr 25 2016, 7:18 AM

fwiw @Johan was thinking of creating a timeline of Wikimedia software products.

T133510: First draft of timeline of WMF technical development

Rfarrand lowered the priority of this task from Low to Lowest.Apr 25 2016, 8:27 PM
Rfarrand removed Rfarrand as the assignee of this task.Jun 28 2016, 3:19 PM
Qgil added a comment.Sep 28 2016, 8:28 PM

I know the proposal sounds cool and sweet, but... doing this well takes significant effort (more informative and documentary than a fireside chat collecting anecdotes). I am not sure it is worth the bet, considering how busy or absent are the protagonists of those days.

Qgil added a comment.Jan 20 2017, 8:05 AM

The agenda of the next Metrics Meeting (scheduled for January 26) contains this item:

Reconstructing MediaWiki history - 7 minutes.

That's all I know. This is going to be recorded. There is a chance that we will have a 7 minute intro that we can use in the future as a stand-alone video?

@bcampbell is there any way to get a video only of the 7 min section so we can have a stand-alone video to point people to?


Yes, I can do this, no problem.

There are a lots of gems in the mailing list archives, too.

@Platonides: any interest in trying to dig them up? :)

Sorry to disappoint, that 7 minute section will be just about reconstructing historical data. Though I promise to make that interesting. While I'm here, +1 to a nice short video about mediawiki history. Victor can add some magic, it could be amazing :)

bd808 added a subscriber: bd808.Jan 26 2017, 3:59 AM
Qgil closed this task as Declined.Sep 12 2017, 9:47 AM

It's been a while since this task was created. If someone wants to do this Tech Talk we only have to reopen it.

I think this talk would be REALLY interesting and good to have a verbal history somewhere.
Maybe @MelodyKramer could help? Like send a list of history related questions to some of our dinosaurs (meant very respectfully) and we can put it all together and then find someone who like public speaking to present the results?
Not sure any one person will actually take the time to go write down / research / remember everything themselves?

Qgil added a comment.Sep 12 2017, 8:02 PM

It's just that making a good talk covering a history period of +15 years in 30-50 minutes in an informative and entertaining way might require as much preparation. If having a session with a couple of veterans answering questions and remembering anecdotes is enough, then this could maybe organized in conjunction to an event that those speakers attend, something with sofas and a relaxed atmosphere.

What I want to say is, doing this right or even interesting might be more complex than it looks like.

Also, maybe the first questions we should ask ourselves: why this session and what is its target? What do we want to achieve with it?

I believe I created this task just after the Wikimedia Hackathon 2016 in Israel. I think a group of us had a discussion about fewer and fewer people remaining who have the entire picture and how tragic it would be if this information was ever lost or no one remained who was around for (mostly) everything.

The intention is to preserve our history and also inspire/inform people who were not around in the beginning.
IMO people feel more ownership for things when they know all of the historical details. Also, I am personally just really into understanding the history of things to help ensure that same mistakes are not made again and for the entertainment of it.

Yes its complex, still worth pursuing... Also might be interesting to see what other efforts have been made in the area? Maybe someone else has already started this? @Legoktm & @Quiddity have already dug up some past efforts in this area above. Maybe all it would take is someone who could help identify what is missing to review those links and combine them with a few fillers into one location / pretty talk.

@daniel am I correct in remember that you were interested in being involved with this as well?

Milimetric added a comment.EditedSep 12 2017, 9:18 PM

"why this session and what is its target? What do we want to achieve with it?"

As a young software developer, I would scour the internet for "battle stories" on sites I admired because I knew they served a lot of traffic, dealt with complex problems, etc. Hearing people from eBay, Meebo, youTube, and more give an honest account of how they dealt with certain challenges was very valuable to me. At the time I had all these concepts of performance, scalability, architecture floating around in my head, but hearing how people dealt with them solidified everything and helped shape my ongoing learning. So this kind of talk should not be underestimated, because unlike eBay, Meebo, youTube, at the end of it we can say something like "oh, and btw, if that was interesting to you, click on this link and that link and start pushing code to *any* of our repositories, today".

I agree it would be hard to do well, but I think it would be very valuable. @Rfarrand if you want to assign this to me, I might give it a shot for the next Wikimania if I can dig myself out of the hole of other work I have to do by then :)

@Milimetric Yay! Sure! :)
Please let me know how I can assist. :)

Milimetric reopened this task as Open.Sep 12 2017, 9:22 PM
Jdforrester-WMF added a subscriber: Jdforrester-WMF.

If nothing else, this would be Documentation.

Qgil removed a subscriber: Qgil.Sep 24 2018, 2:02 PM

@srodlund & @Bmueller hello!
Just pinging this very old but very cool task so that it can get on your radar.

This would / could be a very very interesting tech talk that many people have expressed interest in over the years and would be excellent to do if we could get the right people. :)

@Rfarrand oh wow, yes, great idea! thanks for the ping, we'll think about it :-)

Milimetric removed Milimetric as the assignee of this task.Sat, May 30, 12:08 PM

unlicking this cookie, but generally interested in helping if I can