What is the problem or opportunity?
Wikimedia Foundation staff invest time and resources into preparing twice yearly MediaWiki releases for third parties and are often hampered in rapidly evolving the MediaWiki codebase by being tied to those releases.
What does the future look like if this is achieved?
If responsibility for delivering MediaWiki third party releases were transitioned to an organization whose primary responsibility is serving third-party users, releases would become more predictable and would better satisfy the release consumers. Releases could be delivered in the form that best meets the users’ needs. Wikimedia Foundation time and resources dedicated to preparing the releases would be freed up. A more productive channel of communication would be created between core MediaWiki developers at the Wikimedia Foundation and the third party MediaWiki community.
What happens if we do nothing?
The Wikimedia Foundation would continue to invest time and resources into delivering third party MediaWiki releases. These releases will not evolve to better meet the consumers’ needs. Opportunity will be lost to tailor the deprecation policy to better accommodate rapid evolution of the code base.
Identify the value(s) this problem/opportunity provides.
The timing of MediaWiki releases is currently unpredictable. There are few dedicated Wikimedia Foundation resources for producing the third party MediaWiki releases. Staff participate in the release process largely as a side effort, not an integral part of their assigned role. Thus, releases are generated as time permits.
Some core code changes must currently be done phased in over time. Per the Stable Interface Policy deprecation process, certain changes may not be made immediately but must go through a deprecation process tied to releases. Delays in MediaWiki releases push the timeline of deprecation back. This proposal would allow core MediaWiki developers to move more aggressively in some areas of the MediaWiki core codebase as more active involvement from the third party MediaWiki community and extension developers serving that community would provide feedback on critical changes, reducing unnecessary delays.
Third party users of MediaWiki would like a more predictable release schedule:
- WMDE (to base releases of Wikibase on MediaWIki third party releases)
- Extension developers and developers of MediaWiki-focused administration tools (to better plan compatibility releases)
- Administrators of MediaWiki sites (to better predict and resource their upgrade schedules)
The MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Group is willing to take on the responsibility to prepare the releases as part of its mission to support the MediaWiki third party community. From mediawiki.org / mwstake.org, the MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Group is “a MediaWiki user group consisting of MediaWiki developers, system administrators, users, consultants, and hosting providers who cooperate in order to improve the software and advocate the needs of MediaWiki users outside the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) and its projects.” It was recognized by the Affiliations Committee on November 11, 2014 and incorporated in 2020 (charter / bylaws / board). It was founded by @MarkAHershberger and @Mglaser, who at the time were contracted by the Wikimedia Foundation to deliver the third party MediaWiki releases, so they have a track record of providing quality MediaWiki releases on a predictable schedule. The MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Group hosts monthly membership meetings and, with incorporation and the commencement of collecting dues from members, planning initiatives to benefit third party MediaWiki community. It also maintains a repository pointing to third-party MediaWiki extensions and skins that are indexed by codesearch.
Why are you bringing this decision to the Technical Forum?
There are a lot of details involved in making a MediaWiki release. Care has been taken to identify the key activities and pain points, but it is important to make sure that we have identified all of the relevant stakeholders and any subtle details that need to be considered.