IT Development/Progress meetings/Minutes 18 Feb 2013

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Apologies and Introductions[edit | edit source]


  • Roger Bamkin (RB)
  • Katherine Bavage (KB)
  • Harry Burt (HB)
  • Emmanuel Engelhart (EE)
  • Gordon Joly (GJ)
  • Mike Peel (MP)
  • Doug Taylor (DT)
  • Katie Chan (KC)


  • Tom Morton (TM)

Unable to attend:

  • Charles Mattews (CM)

Welcomes and introductions were made

Remit of the Technology Committee[edit | edit source]

DT noted the context that Wikimedia U.K. was still in the process of taking up full responsibility for its operations in terms of technical capacity, where MP had formerly acted as systems administrator.

What it is[edit | edit source]

KB drew attention to the draft remit drawn up by MP in 2012 and invited members of the committee to consider expanding and editing this. GJ queried whether the Technology Committee could be thought of as a Steering Committee - MP noted this was a helpful way to think of it.

What is is not[edit | edit source]

MP noted that it would not be expected to make operational decisions or carry out operational work. KB clarified that as staff contact for WMUK development work she convened monthly progress meetings with the charity's two contracted developers, TM and EE. The minutes are recorded on wiki, and the meetings were designed to be to draw together priorities and resolve any ongoing obstacles, rather than consider the strategic direction or broader application of development work.

How it fits into governance structure[edit | edit source]

RB queried whether the Technical Committee would we make decisions, or recommendations to the Board of Trustees. MP noted that the balance between decisions or recommendations would be dependent on whether the issue was of an operational or strategic nature - for example the question of the hosting of the UK will be both, as it had wider ramifications, and so had been discussed by the Board. A good guide was the process by which the conference committee looked at rival bids for Wiki Conference 2013 and then proposed Lincoln for board approval - it was designed to allow the Board sign-off on recommendations which had been considered in depth at committee level.

DT noted that to some extent the role of the committee would develop alongside changes happening in the organisation as a whole.

Membership[edit | edit source]

It was noted that there was no proposal that attendees needed to be a member of Wikimedia U.K., although further down the line this may change depending on whether a more formal delegation of powers is put in place. MP - Ideally regular attendees should be encouraged to be members.

There was some discussion about maintaining a commitment to transparency without compromising an operational need to keep certain details confidential, particularly anything with reference to network and systems security. KB noted that it was very unlikely that this situation would present difficulties, as most detailed technical matters would not be within the remit of the committees discussion, and should, for example, the committee think it advisable to review security arrangements and discuss recommendations for changes, some prudent redaction or in camera discussion could be applied.

Suggestions for external representatives[edit | edit source]

MP noted that it would be possible to invite members from the Open Street Map community or from the Mozilla Foundation. RB noted that it may be better to do this when the committee was considering issues relevant to the interests of external groups; HB noted agreement.

HB queried whether the committee would seek to recruit specific people in the movement. KB noted that Tom Morton had been invited and encouraged suggestions - it was noted that Rich Farnborough had been noted as a possible interested party.

Generally there was consensus that external representatives would be invited on an 'as and when required' basis - i.e. if funding of Toolserver work was being considered then this might draw in some representatives on an temp basis. All members of the committee were responsible for identifying and contacting individuals they were aware of who may express an interest in topics on forthcoming agendas, and KB would ensure the work of the committee and future dates was publicised appropriately to increase general awareness.

RB queried whether there were plans to organise an open hack day. HB agreed organising another hackathon would be good. MP also agreed, but it was up to interested members of the community to express interest. DT noted that staff were available to help support the organisation of such events

KC joined the meeting at this point.

Working to support the GLAM and Education committees[edit | edit source]

It was noted that to a lesser extent this could apply to Conference Committee, a potential Grants Committee and Governance Committee. KB clarified that she had highlighted the the cross over between how Tech will work with the GLAM and Education committees particularly because there was an expectation that development work would support this type of outreach work - such as the Virtual Learning Environment, Toolserver and QRpedia.

It was noted that the difference was that GLAM/Education committees would be expected to consider the application and promotion of a given technology in their particular contexts, while the Tech Committee would look at potential other applications, and issues in relation to implementation or maintenance of given software.

Schedule of meetings[edit | edit source]

MP noted that in person board meetings were every 12 weeks - so having Technology Committee meetings in advance of these to feedback into relevant board decisions would be ideal.

HB noted that most emergency decision making *should* managed by staff, with some exception in a particuarly difficult/pressured situations; as such six meetings a year should be frequent enough. DT noted that staff had recourse to a devolved budget head precisely so they could make decisions and respond to anything urgent. KB clarified difference between say, urgent, time sensetive and requiring opinion, noting that where a decision was time sensitive but also sensitive in terms of community concerns, an emergency one item meeting could be convened. MP noted it would always be possible to canvass feedback on wikimediauk-l in between meetings

KB asked if there was interest in holding an in-person meeting, possibly to coincide with a board meeting. DT noted that even if only some members were present, other attendees could dial-in remotely. KC asked how often in-person meetings might be; KB noted probably a couple of times a year at most.

ACTION: KB come up with suggested dates for the remainder of the year/doodle poll, including an in-person meeting at Wiki Conference 2013

Topics for discussing in 2013[edit | edit source]

QRpedia[edit | edit source]

RB suggested the discussion be further broken down into three areas.

How to move the installation of the QRpedia software[edit | edit source]

DT feedback on the proposed process. This would be to create a parallel installation to the existing one on Terence Eden's (TE) server. The name servers for the domains would be moved to point to one location from the next, hence why EE has set up two locations on the WMUK web server which effectively replicate and Once the functionality of the new parallel installation is good, we can then rewrite the software to reflect the same process as is currently set up on TE's server. Then move the DNS , resulting in a seamless transfer.

HB observed this was a slower process that minimised downtime or outage as a result of errors, as opposed to a quick process with bug fixes after. RB noted that it had been a matter of pride that the existing installation had worked well since inception and it would be a shame to have a day of broken re-directions, causing a possible loss of confidence from users.

MP noted important to get the transfer underway, and a part of this would be getting people invovled in bug testing. Contacting known key users about the changeover as a matter of courtesy would be best practice.

EE noted that this was a obviously an important project for the Charity to deliver now legal agreement had been reached on transfer. The current parallel installation of QRpedia was hosted on the community server, but given the high profile nature of the project it may be better to host it separately. Testing can take place in a few hours.

ACTION: EE to consult TM about advisability of moving to a separate server for the QRpedia hosting, to ensure confidence in performance.
ACTION: TM to advise KB how long establishing on a separate hosting may take in terms of other work priorities
ACTION: KB to log the transfer of the QRpedia blog as an RT ticket
  1. log the transfer of the QRpedia blog as an RT ticket
  2. forward testing email to RB, TE and Andy Mabbett (AM) to look for bugs
  3. work on assumption that the DNS can switch to a debugged WMUK installation on 4th March 2013
  4. work with RB to identity key existing users
  5. contact known existing users, and forward emails to wikimediauk-l and cultural partners mailing lists, to inform of change when date known, and before transfer

There was some discussion of the idea place to list existing users - it was felt Outreach was not ideal because it didn't have high user traffic, and the UK Wiki was less good for attracting an international audience.

DECIDED: That the list of existing user should primarily be held on Meta
ACTION: KB to create list on WMUK Wiki
ACTION: DT would mirror WMUK Wiki page onto Meta
ACTION: KC would modify page for translation.

RB noted that there was an exisiting QRpedia project page on wikipedia ( However, it was felt that this should continue to be used to coordinate the use of the software, rather than as a place to log existing users (although appropriate cross-linking should be in place)

How to gather together new/exciting ideas for using the software[edit | edit source]

RB invited committee members to consider how to develop a process of people giving us ideas and crafting the process by which the software develops - which would invite the widest possible participation in an international community. It was noted that a page documenting existing users on meta would help. DT noted that inviting community members to discussion on-wiki would be helpful by emailing the mailing lists, and possibly reaching out to contacts to WMDE and other chapters.

KB queried whether it would be possible to consider wider reach - appealing for ideas from members of the public. HB noted that if the intent was to contact existing users of the software to alert them to the DNS changeover, then this could be doubled up to ask if they wanted to suggest further ideas, linked to a suggestions page. MP noted that having a page with ideas would stop duplication or different organisations 'reinventing the wheel'

In the longer term there would be other possibilities, such as organising a competition for ideas for new applications, or putting QRpedia codes in new contexts.

ACTION: KB to undertake following after DNS changeover:
  • chat to Stevie Benton (SB) about ideas for promoting engagement.
  • set up a page inviting discussion about new applications or contexts for use

It was noted that RB may have some final points that needed to be clarified with respect of the agreement with the Chapter before proceeding on this point.

ACTION: RB to liaise with Saad Choudry/WMUK Board as appropriate and confirm any terms that need to be taken into consideration before KB to proceed with promoting wider engagement/generation of ideas.

Consideration of new ideas for implementation[edit | edit source]

It was agreed that this would return as an item for discussion at the next meeting of the Technolgy Committee, following an open process seeking ideas from within the community.

ACTION: KB to add this item to agenda of next Technology Committee meeting.

MP noted in addition that WMUK would need to draft and approve a blanket privacy policy - a draft was currently on the UK Wiki.

ACTION: All members were invited to edit this with a view to seeking board approval.

MP noted in addition there was a need to fix current reliance of the QRpedia setup on google to create the codes, so we need to rewrite the code to remove this element.

ACTION: KB add to RT as a bug to be fixed after DNS migration

Virtual Learning Environment[edit | edit source]

KB noted that CM had hoped to attend but had uninstalled Skype on his laptop and therefore was not present. She would liaise with him to keep him updated after the meeting.

DT gave background on the process that had delivered the VLE to its current position. CM had historically made a proposal to set up a piece of software which would facilitate online training, allowing trainees to pursue their training at home, in their own time. What had emerged is essentially a moodle product used commonly in the HE and FE sectors. The software allows a user to log in, register for courses, complete online courses and be assessed for feedback. Using this as a platform has the advantage of having of being familiar to those who have used it in these contexts. However, the software does not allow the collaborative writing of content, has no version record, and has quite strict permissions.

CM has been working to develop a wiki-moodle hybrid by developing content on-wiki first, on open licence which would allow attibution, then delivering the content via a Moodle VLE. Now there is a moodle implementation with 80+ modules which are aimed at 'teach yourself to edit wikipedia'. In front of that sits a wiki, an interface with content. This has been hosted on the site server of the developer who was working in partnership with CM - the desire is to now move onto Wikimedia U.K.'s own servers to allow us to host and manage our customer facing environment.

KB queried how ready the VLE was for delivery? DT noted that Stevie Benton (SB) had been involved in redeveloping the presentation of the written content to be optimally accessable/attractive, and trying to accommodate different learning styles and broaden the impact to include videos, screen shots etc. There is a desire to design a personalised skin for the site. The aim it to pilot an initial clutch of modules (2/3 v high spec modules) with a long-term goal of the community collaborating to develop and expand further. RB - To some extent some of these concerns will remain presentational around content - but the implementation of the VLE will achieve stability and remain fairly low-maintenance.

RB queried why WMUK was delivering this rather than WMF or other chapters? DT noted that WMUK has had the freedom to deliver this project on this scale. MP noted this is an expansion of outreach work, so it's a good fulfillment of Chapter role. HB noted that WMF have 'guided tours' but that these aren't the same as the guided structure of the modules proposed for learning how to edit, including assessment. DT noted in addition that when delivered the VLE content and coding could be released under free lience for other chapters and the movement to benefit from.

ACTION: KB to put on agenda for developer progress meeting at end of February, and to report back to next Technical Committee how moved on.
ACTION: KB to keep as a standing item on Technology Committee agenda until further notice.

Wikimedia UK planet[edit | edit source]

MP noted he had highlighted on the Tech mailing list the possibility of looking into the creating of a Chapter specific 'planet'. HB noted that the Wikimedia 'planets' were essentially blog aggregators - collating and republishing posts from different blogs in one place. The current english language blogs planet took entries from such a diverse ranges of sources that it could run to being disparate, and so a WMUK specific one could be good.

EE noted that if there was the content it should be easy and potentially successful. HB noted that the software had just been reissued, so it should be easy to copy/paste the list and then prune down to blogs relevant in terms of WMUK chapter life. MP queried whether specific blog posts from certain cultural partners could be added? EE noted that the software wasn't really adapted for streams for single posts. MP clarified if expecting to have several posts from one institution, which would be feasible. RB noted not the remit of Tech Committee to decide if there should be a UK only planet - but to consider development of such a facility if demand their from the community. Include Welsh language blogs would be an interesting consideration.

ACTION: - KB to post the suggestion and a Yes/No Doodle Poll to the Community mailing list and report feedback to the next Technology Committee meeting.

Mediawiki extension development (e.g. calendar)[edit | edit source]

AOB[edit | edit source]

Amsterdam Hackathon[edit | edit source]

Date of next meeting[edit | edit source]