Wikimania 2023

Published by Taavi Väänänen on August 28, 2023.

I've returned from (very hot and humid) Singapore where Wikimania was held this year. The primary reason I was there on-site was the Wikimedian of the Year stuff (I was awarded the tech award last year), but the rest of the conference was great too.

Past Technical Contributors of the Year at Wikimania 2023

Jay and I on-stage for the awards ceremony. Image by Zack McCune, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Unlike the main Wikimedia Hackathon (which I attended too this year), Wikimania is primarly not a technical event. This resulted in several unexpected situations where I had to explain what Cloud Services is and I actually do,1 and also gave me a much better understanding about all of the other background work going on to improve the wikis. We also had a panel about how we run WMCS collaboratively.

Wikimedian of the Year ceremony

The award ceremony was definitely the highlight of my trip. The stage was much larger than I expected, thankfully you couldn't really see the size of the audience from up there. Everything went mostly well, except that there was some confusion on which microphone(s) to use and I almost tripped on the stairs when walking up.

Congrats to this year's winners! The surprise was mostly ruined for me, thanks to a calendar invite that leaked the winners a few days earlier than planned. At least the rehearsal schedule kept changing so you still had a mystery (whether you were in the right place at the right time or not) to be excited about. And then there was the challenge of not being suspicious when leaving the hackathon table to go to a rehearsal without revealing the other, not-yet-announced winner at the same table.

It was quite funny to see people editing the Wikipedia article about the award live during the ceremony. (I believe this was shown on Depths of Wikipedia too, it was me who showed it to Annie. And on the same subject, the "Depths of Wikimania" spin-off at the closing ceremony was great!)

And yes, my name was mispronounced a few times. I'm kind of used to that by now.


As expected I spent a large portition of my time during the conference somewhere around the hackathon room. I didn't have any plans on what I wanted to do beforehand (as those never end up matching reality), and instead planned to just show up and find something to do after talking to people. This ended up working nicely, and my primary project during the hackathon was to pick up my work from some months ago on improving the OATHAuth extension by making it possible to have multiple different two-factor devices.

I did some fixes to make it possible to run the already-existing migration script2 in Wikimedia production, and after those were reviewed and merged I changed the first wikis to WRITE_BOTH mode. I'm expecting to continue work on this even after I return back home. It even got included in the very cute Wikimania illustration as did all other projects shown during the hackathon showcase.

In addition I helped several people with several other projects and reviewed some patches. I'm also taking credit for the slide layout used on the hackathon showcase which ensured that each project had at least one slide (to avoid confusion) and that all projects used differently colored slides than projects before and after it.

Unfortunately my impression was that there weren't that many people at the hackathon who were completely new to the technical scene; I did meet a bunch of people that weren't in Athens but most of those still seemed like people who were already involved in one way or another. Although there were some folks who were mostly active on user scripts and other on-wiki activities, and I hope I managed to convince some of those folks to try working on MediaWiki itself too. In my view getting existing (power) users involved is one of the best ways to recruit new long-term contributors and maintainers.3

I also used the opportunity to have a chat with with Selena Deckelmann (the WMF's current CPTO). I'm not going to go into detail here, but I'm quite excited about some of the plans we talked about.


Travelling there and back was very smooth:

I'm pretty sure this was the closest I've ever been to a Wikimedia data center. We didn't get a tour of it, but at least logged-out page views were incredibly fast.

I continued the trend of getting other people to do COI editing for me, this time with a Commons category.

Thank you to the Wikimedia Foundation for providing me a scholarship to attend this year, especially for the no-application-required process as a last year's Wikimedian of the Year winner.

Wikimania will be in Kraków next year. I believe I won't be able to attend due to IRL stuff going on at the same time, but there should be more Wikimanias after that :-P. And there are Wikimedia Hackathons and other conferences of course.

Now I need a next event/trip to be excited about as I currently have nothing planned. FOSDEM in February of next year maybe? It should even be possible to travel there by land, which would be nice considering how much I've flown over the last half a year or so.

  1. A good reminder about living in a bubble if you only hang out in the technical channels, I guess. ↩︎

  2. Which was already included included in a MediaWiki release before being run on Wikimedia production. Oops. ↩︎

  3. Currently [[New Developers]] and related pages seem to mostly focus on completely new contributors that don't have an idea what they want to work on, so I might need to do some marketing for my view at some point. ↩︎

  4. Although a speedtest became suspiciously slower several orders of magnitude slower after enabling a VPN. ↩︎

This article is tagged as: wikimedia

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