IT Development/Technology committee meetings/Minutes 1 April 2014

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These minutes were approved at the Tech Com meeting on 17 June 2014.

Apologies and introductions


  • Michael Maggs (MM)
  • Mike Peel (MP)
  • Joseph Seddon (JS)
  • Doug Taylor (DT)
In office
  • Harry Burt (HB) (Chair)
  • Carol Campbell (CC)
  • Richard Nevell (RN) (minutes)


Roger Bamkin, Jonathan Cardy, Emmanuel Engelhart, Charles Matthews, and Tom Morton sent their apologies.

Meeting began at 15.03

Agenda discussion

CC wanted a decision on Dr Bjoern Hassler's proposal at this meeting.

Minutes from previous meeting

There were no objections to minutes of previous meetings


(Not discussed?)

OTRS currently redirects to the Wikimedia Foundation's OTRS installation. It has been suggested to redirect this to WMUK's installation to have all addresses in one place. JS made the point that volunteers should be able to access the info@ address as is the current status quo. HB agreed. DT made the point that setting up the queue on the WMUK installation would mean two logins for OTRS volunteers, putting a barrier against volunteer participation. RN said that at the moment staff are dealing with most requests.

MP joined at 15.10

JS made the point that if the info@ queue is being used to contact donors it may be more secure to use WMUK's OTRS installation. There was a general consensus to move emails in-house.

DECISION: Redirect info@ to WMUK's OTRS installation

Spam bot

HB stated that the chances of false positives are very unlikely based on the central WMF black list. Emmanuel Engelhart blocked account creation by APIs however MM feels this has not stemmed the flow of spam accounts. The current blacklist and blocks have been ineffective. HB advocated implementing the WMF rangeblocks. MM agreed. HB said the blocks could be implemented in the next few days. DT was concerned it risks preventing legitimate users from using the UK wiki and that spam is a fact of life of the internet. JS felt that as these were addresses assessed by the WMF as being sources of spam that the risk was low.

ACTION: HB to implement the WMF rangeblock list

Capacity of servers

This is an ongoing issue. Between the last meeting and this, Tom Morton has taken steps to increase our server capacity. (How?)

Mailing list

Two issues to consider: should it be open and should the archives be open? MP asked why the list should be closed? Weighing up the sides, HB said that the two issues against being an open list is that security issues might be discussed and that it might inhibit discussion. On the other hand, being open would lower barriers to participation. MM noted his surprise at the list being closed and felt that as a matter of principle it should be open. DT gave some history on the list: as it originated as an internal list it began as closed and the status quo is a hang over of its previous internal nature.

DECISION: The list should be open

Discussion moved onto the subject of opening the archives. RN suggested as a middle ground that a new and public list could be opened and the current list retired. It was agreed that while it would be preferable to have the archives of the old list open, the time required to ensure there were no sensitive emails contained therein meant it would be less time-consuming to establish a new list.

DECISION: A new list will be created

ACTION: RN to file bug

ACTION: RN to update list and invite people to subscribe to the new list and leave the old one

Project manager

JS updated the committee on the progress of the job advertisement. Only one application was filed, so we are now going to agencies and looking at candidates they have suggested. Intention is to hold interviews in late April or early May. JS made the point that finding someone with an open-source background willing to take the job part time is tricky so we may end up with someone from a different background. CC asked whether salary was proving a barrier; JS replied that it does not appear to have been the case as we have been getting good quality candidates through the agencies. CC asked whether the agency fee will come out of the amount budgeted for the salary or whether it will be an additional cost. JS said the spend would be on top of the salary. JS thanked Katherine for her efforts in searching for someone to fill the post. DT asked whether we have made allowances for training in case a good candidate does not have experience in an area such as Bugzilla or CiviCRM which would prove useful in the post, JS made the point that there is a staff training budget which may be of use.

Piwik usability

Users have found that has been difficult to navigate. HB read Roger Bamkin's statement on the mailing list that it is important to provide institutions with an easy to use means of assessing how their QRcodes are being used. As multiple QRcodes may be used by multiple institutions, DT suggested including a unique identifier into the url to differentiate between different users of a code. HB and RN supported the notion of including a unique identifier.

On the mailing list Roger proposed a meeting for interested parties to learn more about QRpedia, but was unsure whether the Tech Committee was the best to facilitate this discussion. JS suggested consulting with Jonathan Cardy in his GLAM role. MM felt that piwik is not user friendly enough to be presented to GLAM institutions. MP suggested this might be appropriate for a tech workshop. HB made the point that as piwik is open source we may be able to customise it.

ACTION: HB open bug about skinning or adapting piwik pages to be easier to use

Tech workshop

Discussion briefly touched on the proposed workshop. Work is ongoing with MP as lead. Tentatively scheduled for after Wikimania given the respective workloads of MP and the WMUK staff. MP invited input on the talk page of the proposal.

Logging in

HB suggested standardising within WMUK's web services rather than tying in with the WMF system as the progress of that system is out of our hands. HB suggested continuing with looking into using OpenID rather than Ldap. Emmanuel has noted in emails that OpenID would be preferable. The WMF ultimately wants to use OpenID connect, however it is still at the drafting stage.

DECISION: OpenID will be implemented


Charles Matthews informed the committee by email that he has been introduced to the WMSE representative and discussions are at an early stage.

ACTION: RN include on agenda of next meeting

Zurich hackathon

WMUK offered scholarships. Two scholarships have been allocated. HB asked whether we wanted to offer more scholarships.

KC joined at 16.18

KC was asked for her input. She informed the committee that applications came through the organising body. We were offering two to three scholarships. Happy with the quality of applicants; more would have been preferable.

MP left at 16.26

Wikimania 2014

Turned into a standing item.

Dr Bjeorn Hassler's proposal

Proposal for WMUK to provide £3,000 to support development of Mediawiki for open educational resources. DT made the point that open educational resources are within the remit of the charity's mission. MM was concerned with the fact that reporting is optional and the current project lead will be departing the project soon. HB and CC were broadly in support of the project. Pending safeguards being put in place this may be a project WMUK can support. More information is needed before support can be given.

ACTION: CC to talk to Jon Davies about the project

Possible forthcoming projects

MM made the point that the Tech Com should consider topics such as accessibility and measuring improvements and quality of Wikimedia projects. He felt at this stage it was very much conceptual, however if the committee were to undertake such a project it would be a significant undertaking and might require additional funds. The Foundation's Individual Engagement Grants offers a route for providing additional funds. MM wanted a high-level discussion about whether this is the kind of thing we should be supporting, and whether more firm proposals should be put for the committee at the next meeting. DT was of the opinion that a lot of work has been done on accessibility, and we might be better off approaching the education community rather than the tech community to improve accessibility.

DECISION: Accessibility, Metrics and Mapping to be discussed at the May meeting; CC, MM, and JS working on the respective proposals to bring to the committee.

ACTION: CC to send an email to the list about accessibility.

ACTION: JS to email Tom Morris about OpenStreetMap with a look to improving relations with Wikimedia

Date of next meeting and chairing

DT volunteered to chair the next meeting.

DECISION: DT to chair May's meeting

ACTION: DT to poll the committee on different dates for the meeting


HB to email the list with small items

Meeting closed at 17.00