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I am back from wiki and Wikipedia meetings WikiSym 2010 and Wikimania 2010 in Gdansk (Danzig). Premeeting issues with registration and accommodation gave some indications of problems in the organization: Unsure of the state of the accommodation ??? a dorm ??? I took sleeping bag and sleeping pad with me and considered bringing a tent. When I came it mostly went great and smoothly. Especially Wikimania was one of the best meetings I have participated in. Other Wikimania participants were also generally happy, although there was a few notes, e.g., a few missed double-sided badges. :-)

The academic symposium WikiSym was scheduled before the community meeting Wikimania. One notable part of WikiSym that I like is the Open-space meetings, which is sort of a “structured coffee break” and citing Wikipedia it is where “individuals participate without prior groupings or agendas, and that they accept the agendas and groupings that arise from the meeting process, with only minimal restrictions on scope.” The Open Spaces I participated in were about “wiki and programming” as well as two meetings on data and structured data in wikis. The latter topic being a continous challenge in wiki-research. There are a few notes for the wiki and programming session on a page on the WikiSym wiki. The issues were larger than I initially thought. Other wiki engines than MediaWiki already have programming capabilities, but “programming and wikis” is a topic that still could need some more research and development.

Among other WikiSym presentations I heard Andrew West‘s demonstration of his STiki multilingual anti-vandalism system, that acts as a supplement to bots such as ClueBot. The system is a client server model where machine learning is used to find patterns in vandalism edits with automated labels from rollbacks and the predications are based on revision metadata. Wikipedians can download an associated Java client and go on to fight vandalims.

Another presentation was from Daniel Kinzler about his WikiPics a crosslingual image search engine. The Woogle4MediaWiki presentation showed an extension to MediaWiki that would combine search results with wiki pages. Another demo showed GravPad ??? a realtime collaborative editor.

I had a poster about a fielded wiki, a sort of online spreadsheet with revision control that combine wiki-style easy entry with numerical computation and visualization, and which I apply in personality genetics. The PDF of the poster is available.

The third day of WikiSym was overlapping with Wikimania, which I think diluted WikiSym somewhat. I skipped WikiSym class and joined Wikimania for most of the day like quite a number of other WikiSym participants. The only thing I heard that day at WikiSym was Andrew Lih‘s keynote on Wikipedia. One thing I remember from the talk was the statistics on how many people press save after they have pressed the edit button on a wiki page. The ratio is quite low, and the explanation is that potential editors get scared away by the nerdish wiki markup. Wikia with WYSIWYG editor gets a better ratio (if I remember Andrew’s statistics correctly).

WikiSym is supposed to be about wikis in general (the WikiSym Web site runs with the Tiki Wiki engine). WikiSym 2010 had a quite strong focus on the MediaWiki engine and Wikipedia, ??? for good and for worse.


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