Wikimedia Foundation Chief of Community Engagement to leave the Foundation

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let you know that Val D’Costa, Chief Community Engagement Officer, is leaving the Wikimedia Foundation. I also want to share some changes we’re making around how the Foundation organizes staff in the Community Engagement department.

Val joined us last January, bringing nearly three decades of experience launching and growing international initiatives in emerging markets. With the Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy as a guide, Val and her team drafted an ambitious new vision for the work of Community Engagement—focused on decentralization of power and resources, safe and welcoming spaces, equitable collaboration, increased language and cultural fluency, dedicated programs for groups such as women and young people, and expansive partnerships in service of free knowledge.

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An interview with Muhammad Ameen Akbar from Urdu Wikipedia

From railroads to religion, Pakistani Wikipedia editor Muhammad Ameen Akbar works tirelessly to expand the capacity and content on Urdu Wikipedia.

Earlier this year Muhammad Ameen Akbar agreed to answer a series of question about his work in the Wikimedia movement. In the interview Muhammad talks about his motivations, accomplishments, and goals as a volunteer contributor.

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Wikimedia Foundation welcomes Amanda Keton as General Counsel

Amanda Keton Tides Advocacy
Sarah Deragon
CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of Amanda Keton as General Counsel. Amanda brings more than a decade of legal, nonprofit management, and compliance experience to the role. She will join the organization on 7 October.

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Wikipedia’s JavaScript initialisation on a budget

This week saw the conclusion of a project that I’ve been shepherding on and off since September of last year. The goal was for the initialisation of our asynchronous JavaScript pipeline (at the time, 36 kilobytes in size) to fit within a budget of 28 KB – the size of two 14 KB bursts of Internet packets.

In total, the year-long effort is saving 4.3 Terabytes a day of data bandwidth for our users’ page views.

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How the Wikimedia Foundation is making efforts to go green

Frodig_gårdsmiljø_i_Gamla_stan_-_Stockholm_-_October_2015_-_Holmstad_-_B.JPG
Norsk bokmål: Frodig gårdsmiljø i Gamla stan – Stockholm.
English: Green city environment.
Frodig gårdsmiljø i Gamla stan – Stockholm – October 2015 – Holmstad – B.JPG () by Øyvind Holmstad, CC-BY-SA-4.0.

We at the Wikimedia Foundation strive to ensure that our work and mission support a sustainable world.

Today, we are releasing a sustainability assessment that chronicles the total carbon footprint of the Foundation’s work and commits us to reducing our emissions.

This plan, over two years in the making, will commit us to becoming more environmentally sustainable and conscious of our environmental impact while we work to make free knowledge available to every human being. You can read the full document on Wikimedia Commons, which holds much of the media used on Wikipedia, and find a short summary of the report below.

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Wikimedia Foundation welcomes Grant Ingersoll as Chief Technology Officer

Grant Ingersoll Lucidworks CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of Grant Ingersoll as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Grant brings two decades of experience in open source software development and natural language processing engineering to the Foundation. He will join the Foundation on 23 September.

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This Month in GLAM – August 2019

This Month in GLAM – Volume IX, Issue VIII, August 2019

Read this edition in full • Single-page

To assist with preparing the newsletter, please visit the newsroom. Past editions may be viewed here.


Update on Wikimedia site and system outages

Hello everyone,

By now you are likely aware that the Wikimedia sites suffered from a relatively significant botnet driven DDOS attack on September 6th, taking them offline in several countries throughout the day. This primarily affected Wikipedia access in Europe and the Middle East. We posted a short update of the event on our website.[1]

I would like to thank everyone who stepped up to support the restoration of our projects,  including the fast reporting of community members throughout the world and our security and engineering teams who worked long hours to address many complex issues surrounding the attack and our response—the Site Reliability Engineering team in particular. 

The Wikimedia Foundation leadership team is proud to work with such talented and dedicated staff and supporters.

Yours,

Heather

[1] https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2019/09/07/malicious-attack-on-wikipedia-what-we-know-and-what-were-doing/

“Today, Wikipedia was hit with a malicious attack that has taken it offline in several countries for intermittent periods. The attack is ongoing and our Site Reliability Engineering team is working hard to stop it and restore access to the site.

As one of the world’s most popular sites, Wikipedia sometimes attracts “bad faith” actors. Along with the rest of the web, we operate in an increasingly sophisticated and complex environment where threats are continuously evolving. Because of this, the Wikimedia communities and Wikimedia Foundation have created dedicated systems and staff to regularly monitor and address risks. If a problem occurs, we learn, we improve, and we prepare to be better for next time.

We condemn these sorts of attacks. They’re not just about taking Wikipedia offline. Takedown attacks threaten everyone’s fundamental rights to freely access and share information. We in the Wikimedia movement and Foundation are committed to protecting these rights for everyone.

Right now, we’re continuing to work to restore access wherever you might be reading Wikipedia in the world. We’ll keep you posted.”

Originally posted by Heather Walls to Wikimedia-l on 7 September, 2019.


Wikisource For A Social Justice:Story of Gujarati Wikimedians Helping the Visually Impaired

Gujarati Wikimedians have been working on the Audio Book project on Wikisource to help the visually impaired people. An Interview with the lead contributor Mr Modern Bhatt by Abhinav Srivastava with inputs from Sushant Savla. 

Gujurati Wikisource logo – image by Dsvyas CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported 

Q.1) It is always said Indians love Wikisource, but, Audio Books? That isn’t a routine. How did the idea come up?

I am a regular visitor to a blind school in Bhavnagar which also happens to be my hometown. I help students with English and Mathematics and quite often on request by students, I used to narrate stories to them. It was then that the school director, who is also blind himself, proposed an idea of having pre-recorded books. 

The audio recording then started and there is no looking back. 

Q.2) Is there a specific thematic area where you work upon say a specific Gujarati author? 

If I have to name just one, then it has to be Jhaverchand Meghani. Ever since my childhood till today, have fondness and admire his contribution to the Gujarati literature. He wrote on the history of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat from where I belong. He travelled from one village to another discovering facts and evidences. 

Q.3 ) The Open Knowledge Movement is for a better society, however, its end-merit remain incidental. Your initiative directly helps the visually imparied. What motivates you?

Obviously those students from the blind school however it is also encouraging to know that normal people like you and me busy in daily routine for bread and butter are also the beneficiary. Audio books saves time. 

Q.4) Did peers from your community also join you in the initiative? Tell us how they read this? What kind of conversations happen around Audio Books?

I am humbled with the support I receive from my fellow Gujarati Wikimedians like User:sushant_savla and others. We have an active Whatsapp Group where we regularly debate and discuss Audio books project. To share a more precise and latest update, we are sampling voice for Women authors and also selected few, to name,  Bharti Chavda.

Q5.) Unheard and unfound, there are a lot of challenges, efforts and struggle that go in with passionate Wikimedians? Tell us something in brief.

I was working on a book, ‘Saurashtra ma Rasdar’ which has 28 Chapters and roughly 350 pages. While working on that book, I was a victim of sore throat and had to consult a doctor. The doctor gave me a few medicines and I recovered my voice. 

That’s all. Otherwise, as they say in Gujarati, I have been in, ‘Majama’.

[laughs]……[laughs]

Q6.) Back in your mind, you would have done the maths on number of books which you wish to complete. There would a rational maths to say the number of books that are practically possible but there would also be a dream number. Tell us about that dream number and more. 

I would like to answer this differently. The Audio Books Projects still happens to be very new and we are learning and gaining experience everyday. Not quoting any number but having as many number of books is the aim. I retire from my job this July 2019  and would devote much more time to the project and make the maximum possible.

Q7.) India has Wikisource active in so many languages? Any message for them on Audio books?

Gujarati Wikimedians have the highest regard for each and every Indian language , they show the diverse Indian culture. We all are always there to assist to the best of our potential.  A learning to share would be, struggle in finding volunteers. That’s an important area that needs to be contemplated. 

Q8.) Gujarati language has a very close connection with Kutchi language. Kutchi does not have a Wikimedia project and remain in incubation. Do you believe something like Audio books could provide a stimulus in their growth?

Well, that needs to be seen but Yes there is a possibility. I can say there are a lot of material for Kutchi language to be worked on Wikisource. Necessary we find a group committed volunteers to take it up. Also, I would like to mention, Blind people association have shown support to host activities in the Kutch area of Gujarat.   

Q9.) Tell us something more, do you also edit on other Wikimedia Projects ? Briefly share your experience. 

At the moment, I devote all my time and energy to Wikisource. However, someday maybe definitely. All Wikimedia Projects are public goods for welfare. 

Q10.) Tell us something about your personal life? Where do you belong? What do you do in your personal life etc?

I stay in Bhavnagar, city of Gujarat and I am a banker with The Bank of India. India is a developing world and there are so many unbanked. My professional life deals with developing saving habits and promoting financial inclusion for a better India. 

Originally published by Wikimedia India on 25 June, 2019.