Wikimedia Developer Summit 2018 (San Francisco)

3 minute read


The Wikimedia Developer Summit is a meeting every year of software developer in the context of Wikimedia.

As in previous years, the meeting took place in San Francisco. However, it was aimed to have a smaller group of people attending, therefore a position statement was necessary, that would summarize the own priorities.

My position statement contained the following:

Languages in the world of Wikimedia

One of the central topics of Wikimedia’s world is languages. Currently, we cover around 290 languages in most projects, more or less well covered. In theory, all information in Wikipedia can be replicated and connected, so that different culture’s knowledge is interlinked and accessible no matter which language you speak. In reality however, this can be tricky. The authors of [1] show, that even English Wikipedia’s content is in big parts not represented in other languages, even in other big Wikipedias. And the other way around: The content in underserved languages is often not covered in English Wikipedia. A possible solution is translation by the community as done with the content translation tool. Nevertheless, that means translation of all language articles into all other languages, which is an effort that’s never ending and especially for small language communities barely feasible. And it’s not only all about Wikipedia- the other Wikimedia projects will need a similar effort! Another approach for a better coverage of languages in Wikipedia is the ArticlePlaceholder. Using Wikidata’s inherently multi- and cross-lingual structure, AP displays data in a readable format on Wikipedias, in their language. However, even Wikipedia has a lack of support for languages as we were able to show in [2]. The question is therefore, how can we get more multilingual data into Wikidata, using the tools and resources we already have, and eventually how to reuse Wikidata’s data on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in order to support under-resourced language communities and enable them to access information in their language easier. Accessible content in a language will eventually also mean they are encouraged to contribute to the knowledge. Currently, we investigate machine learning tools in order to support the display of data and the gathering of new multilingual labels for information in Wikidata. It can be assumed, that over the coming years, language accessibility will be one of the key topics for Wikimedia and its projects and it is therefore important to already invest in the topic and enable an exchange about it.

[1] Hecht, B., & Gergle, D. (2010, April). The tower of Babel meets web 2.0: user-generated content and its applications in a multilingual context. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 291-300). ACM.


Overall, it was great to see what is currently of interest in the technical community of Wikimedia.

Espacially the topic of translating content seemed to make quite a buzz, and better language coverage is widely discussed, which is very promising.