User:Deryck Chan/WMUK report
"Welcome to the veteran's club!" said James Hare as we met on the first day of the Hackathon. The tradition is that last year's organisers would try to attend Wikimania and avoid signing up for work, partly because we actually want to enjoy going to Wikimania, and partly because we want to be available when the organisers actually need us.
But as a WMUK scholarship recipient, I was obliged to volunteer and be helpful. So on the day I arrived in London, I went to the WMUK office and the Barbican, and ran a few errands as instructed. One of these chores was picking up these posters (pic) from a print-shop near the office! Someone said I must be humble to accept such menial work despite being one of last year's lead organisers, but really I was quite happy to do a mindless job and so be useful without stressing myself out.
My only signed-up volunteer duty was an afternoon at the WMUK stall. During the conference, I also dropped in to the control room once in a while to check that the volunteers are doing fine. Fortunately, all they needed was my moral support!
The greatest thing about the Wikimania hackathon is that the experts are sitting right next to you when you contribute. This year I worked on the VisualEditor translathon during the Wikimania hackathon and translated or checked all the VE interface messages into Cantonese and Traditional Chinese. Such progress was only possible because James Forrester was around to discuss the purposes of specific messages with me, and Amir Aharoni was also available to help me with interface message shortcuts.
A year ago, Wikidata was the big thing at Wikimania. We all went home, eager to contribute to this new repository of information. A year has passed and many of us now have big dreams about how to use Wikidata on other Wikimedia projects. This year's Wikimania was an apt time for us to reconvene and discuss our progress on Wikidata to keep ourselves in synergy with one another. For example, a few of us went to Wikimania with big dreams about learning to build universal infoboxes to populate small Wikipedias with statements from Wikidata, but the sobering remark is that we're thinking a year or two too far ahead. Instead, we're still at the stage of building tools to migrate information on infoboxes in big Wikipedias to statements on Wikidata.
Another important set of discussions in which I took part is the exploration of deploying Wikidata-like structured data onto Commons. This in turn ties in with the plans to reform the upload wizard. Commons has been multilingual all this time and has been gradually moving away from plain Wikitext to templated descriptions, so this is a timely discussion for every Wikimedian to get involved about the future of Wikidata, Commons, and Wikimedia-wide structured data.
Over the last year, I have only been able to edit quietly from my desk because of my work location. So it has been a great pleasure for me to hear about how the rest of Wikimedia has been doing, especially the programmes which I had been involved with such as the Education Program.
Wikimedia has become so big and diverse in recent years that big gatherings like Wikimania are crucial to help us understand what each other is doing. But some things don't change: la NCO's "cabal for dummies" presentation reminded us of the unchanging factors behind the success of a local Wikimedian group.
Wikimania is always a great opportunity for me to connect with old friends and turn online acquaintances into real-life friends, and this year is no exception. I've spent over half my time at Wikimania simply catching up with friends. In a collaborative movement, I do believe that these friendships are instrumental to our work, and I'm glad that I'm able to spend a summer week meeting with illustrious Wikimedians from around the world again.