Wikimedia Hackathon 2019 (Prague, Czechia)

3 minute read


The Wikimedia hackathon is an event to bring together the technical community, that works on the MediaWiki code and technical projects around Wikipedia, Wikidata, WikiSource, and all the other Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia hackathon 2019 took place in Prague. It has been my fourth time at the hackathon, and it is still one of my favorite events of the Wikimedia events and certainly my favorite hackathon ever. As someone that was there for the first time said: “It is not a typical hackathon, it is more about the people.”

Me at the hackathon, proudly holding my poster

This year’s hackathon for me was focused on the Scribe project; in advance, we prepared a poster to present the project and exchange with people there and their impression on it. The plan was to get people excited and conduct a series of qualitative interviews to understand how Wikipedia editors currently use references in their articles. Getting their perspectives was very fascinating and gave us a broader understanding of how different language communities interact with references. We are still conducting those interviews, the sign-up sheet can be found here. Now, we are interviewing people remotely to get a broad representation of Wikipedia editors, new and experienced, from a variety of languages and backgrounds.

Scribe Poster

Further, we created a survey that was aiming at editors, that was more specific to Scribe to gather the first feedback on the project. This survey is still open, too.

So, my participation in the hackathon was mainly planned for research work and administration work. Besides the interviews, we created a Scribe phabricator board to track tasks, that is still a bit empty- feel free to contribute also in the task tracking!

However, as every good hackathon, plans change. In my case, I met the amazing Ondřej Merkun and Joe Reeve, that didn’t shy away from implementing a whole prototype of Scribe. With the help of the people around us, we created a prototype that not only works on Czech Wikipedia, but also follows design standards and nicely integrates into the visual editor of Wikipedia. Ondřej worked on the frontend, integration in the visual editor, and adding my visions of colorful buttons and sideboards with references. Joe created the backend and generally gave technical advice, to us and everyone around. Not only was it amazing working with them, it was really fun to spend time together and I am looking forward to see them at the next hackathon.

Hackathon Team Best hackathon team, me, Joe, Ondřej and the Scribe poster

I can’t express my excitement about our prototype enough in words, therefore I can only recommend watching the video we created for the hackathon showcase (with the sound environment of the hackathon).

Video of the prototype, recoded at the hackathon

Presenting the prototype Presenting the prototype at the hackathon with Joe, Ondřej and the Scribe poster (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The code can be found here:

The userscript that is used on Wikipedia:

As this is a hackathon project, we can’t guarantee it will work flawlessly. But it is an amazing start for what we will build over the next year and gives a nice sneak-peak of where Scribe is going.

Related, but not quite the same, we created this video for the project, to give an overview of all of Scribe’s features and an explanation of the prototype. (It has a bit the looks and feels of a 90s online advertisement, but I’m just rolling with that now.)

Video introducting Scribe

Hackathon Team Thank you so much! Looking forward to collaborations in the future!