Few notes on Wikimedia hackathon 2022 at Villupuram – VGLUG

“Alright folks. It is showcase time. Show here the cool hacks you did in last 2 or days in wikimedia hackathon”.
Lucas announced this in IRC and telegram channels.

It was Sunday night 8.30 PM IST. I was returning to chennai, in a bus.
Joined the JitSi meet to see what the world has done recently.

“Good to see many new hackers. Share your screens and show the demo quickly”. Lucas asked.

There are few good experienced wikimedia hackers. They showed their tools they created.

“I hope I am reading the Asian Names correctly. Please forgive If I am wrong. Keeeerthaaanaaaa.”
Keerthana shared her screen. Her team has done a firefox plugin. If you click a word, it will show its meaning from wiktionary as a popup.

“Good idea. Good to see the browser plugin. Next, Saathissshhh Kumar.”
Sathish and team built a quick edit feature inside Wikipedia. We can fix spell errors quickly.

“Wow. Now, we can edit the pages, without going to edit page. Really Nice. Next Ethiiirajjj”
Ethiraj and team created a web application to do bulk upload of words and meanings to Wikitionary sites.

“Nice. It will save tons of human hours. Thanks. Next Viiijjayalaakshmiii”
Vijayalakshmi and team build a tool to bulk download all the images in a given category from commons.wikimedia.org portal.

“Thanks. Great tools. Keep Hacking. Is there any other team to showcase your works? ” Lucas was asking more participants.

It was happiest proud moment for me to see showcase by the team I was assisting for past two days.
For few years, I am participating Wikimedia hackathon, offline or online. It is my annual celebration to attend this event and do my contributions to wikipedia using programming.

This year, Instead of I am writing code myself in the hackathon, decided to assist others and build more tools and build a good development community in Tamilnadu.

VGLUG – Villupuram GNU/Linux Users Group is one of the very active FOSS communities in Tamilnadu. It is spreading FOSS for past 10 years. I am always happy to assist them in all possible ways.

Once Wikimedia Foundation announced the hackathon, VGLUG team decided make it a local event. Organizing a 2.5 days event is massive. It needs lot of energy and efforts. All the VGLUG members splitted the activities. Call for participants, poster design, venue, food, stay, photography, videography, public relationship, projector, speaker, mike arrangements, banner design and printing, stickers, notebooks, pen, gift buying. What not? It is like a mini marriage function. Loads and Loads of works. With a dedicated team with contributing hearts, we can move mountains. The VGLUG team arranged all the above happily.

“Hey Shrini. I have a dance program this weekend. Can you take care all 4 kids? Can you come to the show to see me and my team dancing?” This is Nithya, three days ago.

“I wont come there. It seems there is no Tamil songs on the ‘Enchanting Train’ Dance show. Why I have to pay to see the dances, if No Tamil songs?” I replied.

“OK. Then be at home and take care of kids.”

“Hey. We have a wikimedia Hackathon at Villupuram. I like to go there. But, But…”

“What but?. I can not miss my dance show. if you like, you can take them to hackathon event. Let them see what you all are doing”

“Hmmm. 2 days. 4 kids. Hackathon event. I think, I can not write a single line of code there. Let me try to assist other people at least. So that I can be there, with all the kids and enjoy seeing others writing code instead of me.”

The event was on May 21 and 22. They started on the previous day itself, with a movie screening of “Modern Times” Movie, with a discussion on it.

Myself and kids (Viyan, Iyal, Paari and their cousin Harini) went to the venue on saturday morning. It is 3 hours away from our home. Traveling with sleeping kids is new experience for me. After a long time, we all are travelling in bus, outside chennai. Kids started to enjoy the travel.

Reached the venue on saturday morning. The venue was a mini event hall on top of Balaji Bavan Hotel near Villupuram. It has good space for gathering and good rooms to stay.

Info-former, fellow wikipedian was already there. He explained the needs of programmers for the wikipedia movement. He explained on the possibilities of tools, gadgets and how they can help the wikipedia community. There are around 30 participants. All of them are very new to wikipedia and hackathon events.

I guided them to create wikipedia account. For many of them, “Forget password” link was not working. Asked them to create new account.

We splitted the teams into Two. Python Team and JavaScrpt team. Explained how bot can be built using Python and Gadgets can be built using JavaScript.

Manimaran, explored how to use the Mediawiki and how to use the API sandbox to generate the required REST API calls easily. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/API:Main_page

He explained on the Overview of technical areas and projects

I showed the Community Wishlist. The list of tools and technical assistance the wikipedia community is asking for.

Then, shared the sample code repo for mediawiki api demos.

This repo has great sample code in Python, JS, MediawikiJS and PHP to start hacking with Mediawiki.

Each team has experienced programmers and beginners. They picked up the projects to work on from the discussions and requirements given by info-farmer. They stared to code.

I felt like I have 30 heads and 60 hands by seeing this team contributing to wikipedia by programming.

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

The teams started to understand the mediawiki REST API. They logged in and edited few pages using code itself. YES. This is the very first small victory on the wiki hacking. Happy to see the progress by each team.

In the evening, we had a movie screening of “Merku Thodarchi Malai”. The discussions after the movie is so touching.

At midnight, we all went to nearby tea shop. Had Tea and snacks. Felt happy like my college exam days.

The next day was even more power packed. Teams started hacking even before I woke up. They way the splitted the tasks, the way they teach each other, will happen only on events like this. The team spirit is building here very naturally.

After noon, I gave 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 few hours of hacking, we had internal demo sessions. I requested all of them to showcase the works on the international showcase time. Thats what you have read on the first paragraphs of this blog post.

Finally, VGLUG team explained their future plans. They will be published soon. This young kids will bring great future to Villupuram district. I can see Villupuram is becoming a FOSS hub in Tamilnadu. They are into making 100 GLUGs in 100 Villages, Partnering with TamilNadu Government in the “Skill Development Project” They will do more.

Few things I learnt.

  • Bring kids to the tech events.
  • The more male bring kids to public events, the more the events/places will become kids friendly.
  • Female can do their own stuff, if male start to take care of kids.
  • Never underestimate the power of people. Really, I did not expected sugh great quick learning from rural students.
  • If we give good mentorship, anyone can become good contributors
  • Provide Sample Programs in all possible languages. People can see the code and learn quickly.
  • A small dedicated team, doing good things regularly, can bring good changes to many people’s life.

I was expecting some troubles by my kids. But for my surprise, all kids were good mostly. The bluetooth speaker I took there, helped them to be dancing and engaged.

With a good dance by kids, the event came an end.

Happily returned to home. Felt great satisfaction. Helping other to hack, bring more satisfaction. I should write a mini handbook for new hackers for wikipedia. Will make it soon. Stay tuned.

Here is all the tools with sourcecode that were showcased – https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Hackathon_2022/Showcase

If somebody is conducting a hackathon, dont miss that event. This is the only place where we can learn tons of new things in a very short time.

Some 10 years ago, few hackathons I attended, helped me to bring the real programmer inside me. Now, I am seeing myself on the faces of all these contributors from the VGLUG team.

With one line of open souce code, at a time, let us make the world better.

Thanks to Wikimedia Foundation for bringing awesome experiences to all hackers and contributors.

2 thoughts on “Few notes on Wikimedia hackathon 2022 at Villupuram – VGLUG

  1. Pingback: Frugal Science 2022 | Lecture 15: Open Source Licensing and more – Open World News

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