#mwstake and the Foundation

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by on 5 January 2016 14:40 (EST)


The meeting with MediaWiki Stakeholders and the Wikimedia Foundation that we proposed ultimately as an unconference session ended up in really positive progress.

The Stakeholders group asked for a meeting because of the frustration we felt as third party MediaWiki users that we weren't even on the Foundation's radar. Releasing the source code for software is an important part of producing open source software, but after that, some effort has to be put into making the software and the community that grows up around it sustainable.

To prepare for the meeting, we spent some time the previous weekend hashing out the things we wanted to talk about and preparing an agenda. The first bit was synthesizing the issues we experienced. We came up with the following four points:

  1. No overall guiding principles for MW core development
  2. Compatability breaks
  3. WMF does not track what is important for third party users
  4. Third-party users don't have an effective mechanism to voice concerns to the WMF

And, we proposed two solutions:

  1. The WMF should provide a vision and a dependable roadmap for core MW development.
  2. WMF should appoint a representative to actively engage with the Stakeholders group so that we can keep them aware.

There was a very lively discussion that resulted.

Brion Vibber volunteered to be the point person at the WMF for the MediaWiki Stakeholders group to interact with. We'll probably end up meeting with him. He can relay any new concerns to Wes Moran and work with us to keep the third party user issues on the Foundation's radar.

Quim Gil of the WMF also suggested using the upcoming stratgy input period to try and make sure the maintenance of MediaWiki as a issue that the WMF will focus on.

But then, the unexpected happened. Someone mentioned the idea of a MediaWiki Foundation that would take over the responsibility of maintaining MediaWiki as a piece of open source software from the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation would be able to continue to focus on its projects (the various Wikipedias, Wiktionaries, etc.) which already have their own communities – communities that tend to be broader and easier to join.

The idea of a MediaWiki Foundation has been brought up several times over the years, including an RFC. But it has always ended up as an idea that everyone nods at and agrees with, but no one does anything with.

This time, when that was pointed out, Ryan Lane pointed to several open source projects. He also said he would be willing to help work on producing a MediaWiki Foundation.

To keep the idea from dying on the vine (again), I made a point to get the names of people who would be willing to help (now recorded on the etherpad). I'm going to reach out to them to the people and try to set up an initial discussion for the next couple of weeks.

I'll be posting any developments here, of course.