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[AWMD project] Building a team of Wikimedia Volunteer Developers in Africa
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Description

Problem

We wish to build a team of Wikimedia volunteer developers from Africa:

  • There are very few developers from Africa in the Wikimedia movement as a whole. We wish to increase the numbers to fulfill the movements vision.
  • Volunteer developers to add more features on MediaWiki projects and its extensions including APIs etc.. from Africa and in addition, develop tools/projects that solve common problems within the African context to promote the movement’s activities in a technical approach.
  • Avoid waiting on a skewed group of developers to solve the many tech problems in the movement especially peculiar problems pertaining to volunteers from our terrain.
  • Lack of participation from African volunteers in tech inclined Global events in the movement such as Google Summer of Code (student and/or mentors), Google Code-In (student and/or mentors), Outreachy (formerly OPW) etc.

Who would benefit

  • First of all, this would benefit the African community in that they would be able to play around with MediaWiki and its extension (they learning how MediaWiki and development in the Foundation/movement works). Getting a developer feel of Wikimedia projects and maybe start thinking of a project to help the African community and the movement as a whole.
  • With an African team of developers, we could come up with projects that could solve common problems within our continent under the Wikimedia Foundation. These projects will go a long way to solving our common problems.
  • This will increase the level of awareness of the movement's activities in Africa and get more people involved in volunteering in the community's projects from Africa leading to an increase in the number of not only the editors but developers from Africa.
  • Getting Africans folks to participate in global programs which will benefit them and the Foundation as they will build tools to solve problems and real world tasks (enriching their career path) as developers. Programs such as Outreachy (no participant from Africa), GCI (no participant from Africa) and GSoC (only 1 participant from Africa in 2016). So we need to get more and more participants from African into these programs into the Wikimedia Foundation and hence growing developers.

Proposed solution

We are currently a team of two ready to work with very experienced minds both in and out of the movement to make this idea a realised one. We intend to recruit volunteer developers and use the opportunity to champion the cause of the movement.

The plan so far is getting the following;

  • A mailing list of volunteer developers in Africa to share ideas and topics of discussion with others to get them interested.
  • Tap into affiliates of the WMF and user groups of different movements (GDG, Python group, Linux group etc...) in each country to see if we could get some people interested in contributing to the Wikimedia Foundation. A sum of these interested persons is a reasonable number to start off with.
  • Use word of mouth in university institutions (to the science students/programming students/computer science) and see if we could get them interested in the movement's activities and to contribute (this would be done per country and stats will be shared).
  • Train prospective groups in countries and motivate their continued efforts through the mailing list.
  • Organise a once a year meeting/hackathon to enhance and showcase their works.
  • Per country, we would keep the energy active by nominating some volunteers to build developer communities in their various communities and bringing all these communities together, we would have a large community in Africa which are developer based.

Team

Related Objects

StatusAssignedTask
ResolvedQgil
OpenNone
ResolvedRobH
ResolvedFlixtey
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedFlixtey
ResolvedAklapper
ResolvedFlixtey
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedD3r1ck01
DeclinedNone
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedD3r1ck01
ResolvedD3r1ck01
Resolvedrosalieper
Resolvedrosalieper
Resolvedrosalieper
Resolvedrosalieper
OpenFlixtey
InvalidFlixtey
Resolvedsamuelguebo
Resolvedsamuelguebo

Event Timeline

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D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 24 2017, 5:43 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 24 2017, 5:52 PM
Tgr added a subscriber: Tgr.

This is a cool idea, but not in scope for the developer wishlist, which is about issues developers have that can be fixed by other developers (by changing the software). I think Developer-Advocacy are the right people to propose it to.

Qgil added a comment.Jan 25 2017, 8:56 AM

Yes, this is correct. This is a very good initiative indeed, but you as promoters can push it without having to wait for any developer wishlist survey.

Your first step propose is to create a mailing list. The process to do that is simple, and described at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists#Create_a_new_list

If the Developer-Advocacy team can help with specific tasks, please let us know.

Qgil triaged this task as Normal priority.Jan 25 2017, 8:56 AM
Qgil added a comment.Jan 25 2017, 9:19 AM

Thinking a bit more... I believe a good next step would be to narrow a bit the geographies to look at, at least initially. "Africa" is very big and wide, and international travel within Africa can be very complex depending on several factors. It would be useful to have a list of countries (or even cities?) to target first:

  • Locations with existing Wikimedia developers. A logical place to start.
  • Locations with existing Wikimedia editor groups AND universities with Computer Science / Engineering studies. We could consider connecting the local group with a couple of volunteer developers, who could organize a first workshop and fly to the event, with the goal of recruiting the first local developers.
  • Locations with technical universities already familiar with free software, i.e. participating in Google Summer of Code or similar outreach programs. We could promote Wikimedia projects through those programs and we could also try to organize introductory workshops with local help, flying a couple of volunteer developers.

From those locations, we could highlight which ones have international airports and friendly borders, which could become candidates for a first international Wikimedia hackathon in Africa.

I hope I am not getting overexcited here, but one possibility would be:

  • Between now and June: define this plan and organize 1-2 local workshops. The best developers in these events are invited to our international hackathons, so they can connect better with the rest of the Wikimedia technical community, build their own contacts.
  • July 2017 - June 2018: we Developer Relations budget for the support of several local events in different locations, with the goal of reaching a critical mass of African developers. Again, the best ones are invited to our international events.
  • July 2018 - June 2019: second round of local events, some of them not introductory workshops anymore, but small hackathons with some international guests. The critical mass is now consolidated, we have a solid community of developers in Africa.
  • July 2019 - June 2020: if everything went well so far, third round, and first international Wikimedia hackathon organized in Africa.

I can see your eyes rolling when reading "2020". :) No problem, if your progress goes faster, then we can try to schedule all this sooner.

Zppix added a subscriber: Zppix.Jan 25 2017, 9:20 AM

Just a suggestion what if we put up a central notice banner attempting to "recruit" some volunteer Africa-living programmers/developers?

Thinking a bit more... I believe a good next step would be to narrow a bit the geographies to look at, at least initially. "Africa" is very big and wide, and international travel within Africa can be very complex depending on several factors. It would be useful to have a list of countries (or even cities?) to target first:

  • Locations with existing Wikimedia developers. A logical place to start.

This is a great Idea. We will try to locate places in Africa that have already existing Wikimedia developers and try to see how to bring all of these developers together on the mailing list that will be created.

  • Locations with existing Wikimedia editor groups AND universities with Computer Science / Engineering studies. We could consider connecting the local group with a couple of volunteer developers, who could organize a first workshop and fly to the event, with the goal of recruiting the first local developers.

Yes indeed this is another great idea. And I am sure this will be a little more available than the above idea since we are sure to get universities (which do CS/Engineering) around our areas including local groups. I already have in mind to organise a mediawiki workshop in Cameroon, specifically in Buea but for this one, we would get some students started into mediawiki and make sure they can get a local copy of mediawiki running on their PCs for dev purposes etc...

Quim, I will like to know what you think about the MediaWiki event which will take place in Buea, should we integrate it into this big idea?

  • Locations with technical universities already familiar with free software, i.e. participating in Google Summer of Code or similar outreach programs. We could promote Wikimedia projects through those programs and we could also try to organize introductory workshops with local help, flying a couple of volunteer developers.

This is another wonderful Idea because I am sure we would have lot of these universities with GSoC participants and/or outreachy participants. Again, we will curate a list of these universities and try to get in touch with them.

From those locations, we could highlight which ones have international airports and friendly borders, which could become candidates for a first international Wikimedia hackathon in Africa.
I hope I am not getting overexcited here, but one possibility would be:

  • Between now and June: define this plan and organize 1-2 local workshops. The best developers in these events are invited to our international hackathons, so they can connect better with the rest of the Wikimedia technical community, build their own contacts.
  • July 2017 - June 2018: we Developer Relations budget for the support of several local events in different locations, with the goal of reaching a critical mass of African developers. Again, the best ones are invited to our international events.
  • July 2018 - June 2019: second round of local events, some of them not introductory workshops anymore, but small hackathons with some international guests. The critical mass is now consolidated, we have a solid community of developers in Africa.
  • July 2019 - June 2020: if everything went well so far, third round, and first international Wikimedia hackathon organized in Africa.

The above possibility sounds good to me. We could work it that and see the possible outcomes. Thanks for the ideas Quim. Lets see if others are interested in using this ideas as a next step but as for me, I am already liking it :)

I can see your eyes rolling when reading "2020". :) No problem, if your progress goes faster, then we can try to schedule all this sooner.

Am glad for the comments and suggestions on here. I think we are moving forward with the request for the mailing list, the group will be called African Wikimedia Developers. FInd the ticket for the mailing list here - https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T156248

We will discuss some plans and strategies to build on all the comments and suggestions on here by tomorrow and start a meta page for the idea. The idea of @Zppix to create a central notice banner is quite useful and will be necessary to have a landing page on meta for description on how to join and further instructions.

We will come back soon with some new plans soon....

I think it would be also excellent to work hard on targeting volunteer developers from Africa to attend the 2018 Wikimania in South Africa.
Maybe we can try to work with the Wikimania scholarship team on this.

I think 1:1 mentorship and onboarding in person at such a large and interesting event would allow us to help them find the areas of our projects that they are interested in and in turn help with retention.

Just as an offer, if anyone is organizing any developer events in Africa to attract, support, and / or onboard local volunteer developers I am happy to help with the plan, program, logistics, communications, or whatever I can do from afar. :)

@Rfarrand, this is already a project we are working on developing. Also, there will lots of workshops, events around this in order for us to get developers all over Africa. Events will be done in different countries around Africa so that we could get a strong team of developers around the Wikimedia Foundation's projects.

Yes, we could try to work with the scholarship team. The Wikimedia UG Cameroon is hosting a MediaWiki event which is upcoming, you can checkout this: T149893. This event is centered around this idea and will bring in volunteers.

A mailing list has already been created, you can subscribe here: african-wikimedia-developers@lists.wikimedia.org for updates. You are very much welcomed :)

@Flixtey and I will put up a plan soon. Stay tuned. :)

Great to hear! Sounds like you have lots of good ideas. :)

Maybe you are already considering this as well, but it might be interesting to think about doing a pre-Wikimania or post-Wikimania smaller event somewhere reasonably close to Wikimania but in a different country (one easy flight away). It is likely that we could convince some of our WMF developers who will already be in South Africa to join, mentor, and give presentations.

Great to hear! Sounds like you have lots of good ideas. :)

Its not me :) Its @Flixtey and I :)

Maybe you are already considering this as well, but it might be interesting to think about doing a pre-Wikimania or post-Wikimania smaller event somewhere reasonably close to Wikimania but in a different country (one easy flight away). It is likely that we could convince some of our WMF developers who will already be in South Africa to join, mentor, and give presentations.

When you say close to Wikimedia, do you mean that of 2018? Also, in a different country, we could try to do that. And yes its a great Idea to do a pre or post Wikimania event. I think the idea is interesting. @Flixtey, what do you say about this?

When you say close to Wikimedia, do you mean that of 2018?

Yup. :)
This is certainly not a guarantee we would need to convince WMF budget owners to support this, however its possible. :)

Yup. :)
This is certainly not a guarantee we would need to convince WMF budget owners to support this, however its possible. :)

Ok I understand. I and @Flixtey will talk about this and get back to you for updates. Does that sound good?

Perfect and no rush, we have lots and lots of time. :)

Ijon added a subscriber: Ijon.Feb 11 2017, 1:04 AM

I'm glad to see this initiative. I agree with @Qgil and @Rfarrand re next steps.

One additional suggested focus: I think the Mediawiki API is neat, and should be fairly easy to use as a first topic when recruiting volunteers from existing technical communities (like programming user groups). With a few demos, including the API sandbox, it would probably work well to offer an "Introduction to the Mediawiki (Wikipedia etc.) API" talk/workshop to such groups.

To do that, make sure you are comfortable with the Mediawiki API in at least one or two popular languages (I love Ruby, myself), review some existing API presentation materials on Commons, and create a presentation of your own, matching your style and rhythm. Then, draw up a list of active(!) programmer user groups or meetups in west Africa (start local) and see if there's interest in your presentation/workshop. WMF may be able to support some travel expenses, via a grant.

D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 15 2017, 6:38 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 15 2017, 6:42 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 15 2017, 6:50 PM

Just a suggestion what if we put up a central notice banner attempting to "recruit" some volunteer Africa-living programmers/developers?

Ops I missed this brilliant idea. Sorry about that @Zppix, this is an amazing Idea and we have considered it in the project plan. Thanks so much for the suggestion :)

D3r1ck01 claimed this task.Jun 4 2017, 11:42 AM

Assigning this task to myself and Cc assigning to @Flixtey. Its ON :)

1st country for this training is Ghana on the 23rd - 24th June. Stay tuned.

Qgil added a comment.Jun 13 2017, 9:17 AM

In order to "build a team", one important step is to ask participants in developer events to leave their email address so we can reach out to them with new activities, online or otherwise.

Please coordinate with @Rfarrand on the best way to organize this, since she is doing this for the events we organize. Thank you!

In order to "build a team", one important step is to ask participants in developer events to leave their email address so we can reach out to them with new activities, online or otherwise.
Please coordinate with @Rfarrand on the best way to organize this, since she is doing this for the events we organize. Thank you!

Okay @Qgil. We will work on this with @Rfarrand and get all the emails. Indeed its a very important approach in building a team and to follow up with developers after the event.

In order to "build a team", one important step is to ask participants in developer events to leave their email address so we can reach out to them with new activities, online or otherwise.
Please coordinate with @Rfarrand on the best way to organize this, since she is doing this for the events we organize. Thank you!

This is currently being discussed with @Rfarrand and will be fully implemented in subsequent events.

D3r1ck01 removed D3r1ck01 as the assignee of this task.Aug 3 2017, 7:26 PM

As it's too big (to assign to myself) and sub-tasks will be assigned respectively (instead). @Flixtey can bare this with me.

Qgil moved this task from To triage to Team radar on the Developer-Advocacy board.Aug 7 2017, 9:52 AM
Elitre added a subscriber: Elitre.Aug 30 2017, 9:01 AM
BamLifa updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 3 2018, 1:13 PM
BamLifa added a subscriber: BamLifa.
D3r1ck01 renamed this task from Building a team of Wikimedia volunteer developers in Africa to [AWMD project] Building a team of Wikimedia Volunteer Developers in Africa.Jan 20 2018, 12:54 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 16 2018, 6:49 PM
Elitre removed a subscriber: Elitre.
Flixtey raised the priority of this task from Normal to High.EditedJul 14 2018, 10:37 AM

Hey @Aklapper we need urgent assistance to approve new accounts created on phabricator for an event today. We will appreciate if someone could approve to afford the participants a chance to explore the platform.

@Flixtey: Sorry, I was most offline. In the future, please ask in a place where more people could see this request, like #wikimedia-tech and #wikimedia-releng on Freenode IRC. Thanks!

Qgil removed a subscriber: Qgil.Aug 3 2018, 3:14 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)Sep 5 2018, 9:30 PM
D3r1ck01 updated the task description. (Show Details)