My experience in Wikimedia Hackathon 2022

Ramaiah M

3 min read

Hi everyone, hope you all are doing good. I would like to share my experience in Wikimedia Hackathon 2022 and that is the reason for writing this blog. I know many of you are not aware of Wikimedia, so let me give a short crisp intro to it.

Wikimedia is a global movement whose mission is to bring thousands of free educational resources to the world. Wikimedia is the Parent Foundation with many child movements & projects, and one of them is the well-known Wikipedia.

Every year for a decade, Wikimedia has been conducting Hackathons, specifically on the third week of every May. Wikimedia Hackathon is open to anyone interested in finding out more about the technical aspects of the Wikimedia projects, working on specific tools, features, & projects, and also socializing with other attendees.

This year, Wikimedia has permitted only 8 Global Foss Movements (Free and Open Source Software) and only 2 in India. One in Hyderabad and the another one in Villupuram. I am really happy to mention that I was a part of the hackathon. Even before participating in these hackathons, I had already contributed to localization and had written some pages on Wikipedia regarding content development.

Now let me talk a little about VGLUG (Villupuram GNU/Linux Users Group- Villupuram GLUG), a non-profitable organization & a social movement that was started in 2013, as an Impression of the worldwide Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement. This organization aims to provide free knowledge about software & implementations to everyone from all corners of the world.

VGLUG is one of the very active FOSS communities in Tamilnadu. It has been spreading FOSS for the past 10 years and I am one of its active volunteers for the past four years.

The event that I attended is a joint venture by Wikimedia and VGLUG. The event started on Friday evening May 21st and May 22nd, 2022. We made all the arrangements for the event. Along with many fun events, a few Technical Knowledge Sharing sessions and Tech Talks happened among all the participants. We also had a movie night where we watched the movie “Modern Times“.

The second day is Hackathon Day!

The event was initiated by Wikipedia’s earliest contributor Mr. Loganathan, we call him Mr. Info Farmer who explained the importance and the need for programmers in the Wikipedia movement. He also talked about the possibilities of tools, and gadgets and how they can help the Wikipedia community.

Mr. Info Farmer is also one of the earliest Tamil Wikipedia contributors from 2008. He is from a non-technical background and helps Wikipedia in technical aspects such as writing content for the Tamil Wikipedia pages. He has also developed many tools for Wikipedia for a better user experience.

One of the organizers explored how to use the Mediawiki and how to use the API sandbox to generate the required REST API calls for us easily. He also explained the Overview of technical areas and projects in the Wikimedia ecosystem.

We had Mr. Srinivasan share the Wikipedia Community’s wishlist, which had the list of tools and technical assistance the Wikipedia community is asking for. Then, he shared the sample code repo for MediaWiki API demos.

Mr. Srinivasan is a Senior System Architect at Saama.com. He is also one of the earliest Tamil Wikipedia contributors and one of the FOSS Activists. He is well known for his FOSS activities such as Firefox contribution, and Wikipedia contributions. Also, he is one of the founders of the Kaniyam Foundation.

A total of 30 people attended the event including me. Four teams, Two for Python and Two for Javascript participated with experienced programmers and beginners in the hackathon. I was a Javascript Team member with all my co-mates. We have picked up the projects to work on from the discussions and requirements given by the info-farmer. And then we started to code.

We, the Javascript Team started working on the SpotWikiEdit feature (it is a quick edit feature inside Wikipedia). Spelling errors can be fixed quickly using this feature without the need to navigate to the actual page to perform the edits. We had a very informative and fun coding session.

The team-building activity after lunch helped us to be active even after heavy food. We had good fun.

In the evening, we had Mr. Praveen Kumar, Manager of Corporate Security at Cognizant Technology Solution explained the Cybersecurity trends and the importance of Cybersecurity, the Impact Of Cyber Crime, Cyber kill chain activities, etc. He also detailed to us about Phishing, Ransomware & Exploit, and Vulnerability Scanning Techniques.

After all the Knowledge sharing sessions on the second day, we all sat and enjoyed a Tamil movie together. The discussions we had after the movie are so touching. And that is how the second day of the Hackathon ended.

The next day,

Sunday was even more power-packed. We learned and coded as a Team. The way we split the tasks, and the way we taught each other were fabulous. The team spirit was all around the air!

Again in the afternoon, Mr. Srinivasan gave us a talk on various Wikipedia projects, commons, Wikidata, how tech people can contribute to Wikipedia, and how their contributions can save thousands of hours of editors.

After a couple of hours of coding, we had many internal demo sessions. After that, we showcased the Tool we built for the problem statement given during the International Showcase Time to the jury.

Here are all the tools with the source code that we presented in front of the jury.

And that is how the last day of the Hackathon ended. We really learned a lot from the sessions as always. Hope this blog would have conveyed the experience of the Hackathon.

People interested in Wikimedia are always welcome to join the community and contribute!

Happy Coding!

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