Technical Wishes

1,515, people

took part in the survey on Technical Wishes in 2019.

The project “Technical Wishes” originated in 2013 from an impulse of Wikipedia volunteers with a survey by user:raymond: Where does the shoe pinch the most, what are the technical problems in Wikipedia and its sister projects? Since 2015, Wikimedia Germany has been continuing the “Technical Wishes” according to a proven principle. Wikipedians collect their requests, then a vote is taken on which problem is the most urgent. The project radiates into the international community, and improvements implemented in the German-language Wikipedia are also adopted in other Wikis. Wikimedia’s product manager for technical wishes, Lena Meintrup, explains which wish won the vote in 2019 and what it is all about.

What (has) happened with the “Technical Wishes” in 2019?

We have changed the working mode a little bit in 2019. Of course, volunteers will still be able to park and collect their requests in a parking lot of their choice. But before the survey, the problems are now bundled into topics, sorted and described in as accessible a way as possible. The idea behind this was that you first have to understand a problem before you can vote on it. We wanted to make the “Technical Wishes” more accessible to volunteers who may not have long experience and have only edited a few times. We then put these topics up for voting in the 2019 survey. Our new way of working is that we start a survey every year and then work on each topic for two years.

The team has also worked on previously selected requests, for example to make it easier to move files to Commons or to display a preview of itemizations in the article text.

What areas were up for voting?

There were 13 main topics in total. These included “Better support for geo-information”, “Protecting content more easily against vandalism”, “Reducing errors when working with documents” and “Finding what I am looking for more easily”. The winning vote was 298 for “Making it easier to work with templates”.

What are the technical hurdles with the templates?

There are many different and special templates in Wikipedia, for example there is an infobox template for pages dealing with football players and one for football clubs. Many volunteers therefore find it difficult to keep track and find the right one for their needs. There are also several different ways to use and edit templates on pages: using the Visual Editor or the Wiki Text Editor. Especially in the Visual Editor, working with templates is a challenge. And basically, the current template syntax makes it difficult to create and maintain templates. In these problem areas, we have developed solution proposals as prototypes, on which we are now seeking feedback from the community.

What suggestions are these, for example?

One suggestion was: “search filters for excellent templates” – i.e. expanding the search options for finding templates and introducing excellent templates along the lines of excellent articles, informative lists and excellent images. Then the feedback led to the realization that excellent templates were not as desirable as the possibility to create personal favorites. What positive feedback came to was the search filters. This makes templates more visible and easier to find. We are now working on this idea further.

Infographics on the work process in the Technical Wishes project: Two main topics are worked on in parallel, which are determined by the German-speaking community via a survey.
Erdinc Ciftci (WMDE), Technische Wünsche Prozess Themenschwerpunkte, CC BY-SA 4.0



Why did you start the Technical Wishes project?

When the Visual Editor was introduced a few years ago – basically a Word-like what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface – a lot of criticism was coming from the community. In order to start a constructive discussion, I set up a page called “Technical Wish List” and asked the community where to focus technical development. It didn’t take long for this to be well received. Wikimedia Deutschland then contacted me and offered me support in collecting and prioritizing the wishes.

Is it theoretically possible to implement everything that the community brings forward?

Not everything that the Wikipedians wish for can be realized. But much has already been implemented. We later presented the project to the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco, who were interested in taking it to a higher level. In the meantime, the survey on the “Technical Wishes” is also available internationally.

Which implemented projects did you find helpful?

For example, previewing itemizations in the article text, the possibility to watch a category for new articles, or the technically clean moving of files to Wikimedia Commons while keeping the version history and the user name – these were improvements that also help me a lot personally in my daily work with Wikipedia.