Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wikimania Hackathon 2017 - Learn, teach, hack!

So, we're back from Wikimania and certainly I got a bit late in writing the hackathon blog post. But, here I am writing about one of the best Hackathons I ever attended. I hope you'll like the post. Happy reading!

This year's Wikimania at Montréal, Canada had one of the best Hackathons ever. With such a beautiful and open space at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal hotel, the hackathon was full of positive vibes already. This year, we had so much to do at the hackathon. We had,

  • Sessions: to provide an overview of the technologies that powers the technical areas of Wikimedia
  • Skillshare: to teach the newcomers the relevant skills to contribute to Wikimedia tech
  • Sprint: which focuses on special areas like improving documentation, translation, design etc.
  • Featured projects: to engage newcomers with projects [1]

With all the aforementioned things, the key element of the hackathon was "THE MENTORING PROGRAM". Keep reading to know more about this.

Hackathon - For whom?

One of the best things about Wikimania Hackathon is that it welcomes people from every background, whether technical or non-technical. This year's hackathon had developers, testers, mentors, newcomers and volunteers with each person playing more than one role.


Wikimania Hackathon is a juice that is always worth the squeeze. Have some glimpse of it below:

  • We have projects for every developer - whether Android, iOS, PHP, Machine Learning etc.
  • Work on existing projects, report new bugs, solve existing bugs etc.
  • Scrum kinda task workboard
  • Hackathon sessions
    • Overview of Wikimedia technology
    • Improving MediaWiki - What to do at MediaWiki when you're new
    • Sessions on ORES, Extension:Translate, TemplateData, Parser Hooks etc.

The Mentoring Program

The coolest thing about Wikipedians is their power of free knowledge. They are the true believer of free knowledge and they know that knowledge only grows if it is shared. To keep this legacy alive, this year at Wikimania we had The Mentoring Program. This program was dedicated especially for newcomers where mentors were matched with newcomers to help them start with projects. The mentor sessions were scheduled on 9th and 10th August. The first session included an overview of technologies used by Wikimedia. It was lead by Srishti Sethi and Quim Gill followed by Aaron and Rachel. In the Thursday session, the newcomers were introduced to projects. The mentors were there to help them at every step. Overall, the mentoring program proved to be a huge success.[2]

One of the newcomers I met, told me his experience with MediaWiki for the first time. He mentioned,

"I never knew learning MediaWiki was this easy. With great mentors around the side, now I can contribute to the technical stuff in addition to the editing stuff. All thanks to hackathon organizers for this amazing mentor session."

I met the recent GSoC Intern who was working on the Wiki Ed Dashboard. It was her first Wikimania. When I asked her, how does it feel to be here in the midst of free knowledge enthusiasts, she said,

"It's like magic. Seeing so many people contributing to free knowledge movement is amazing."

And when I asked her, if she would like to stay associated with the community after her internship ends, she mentioned,

"Indeed! I would love to volunteer for Wikimedia and learn more about MediaWiki. You will definitely see me around IRC and Phabricator even after my internship."

With two days of learning, teaching and hacking, we had the hackathon showcase, with contributors showcasing their work they did in the 2 days. The hackathon was then officially concluded with the group picture.

If you ever plan to come to Wikimania Hackathon, if you are familiar with the MediaWiki code, do come and work on your existing project or task. Present it during the showcase. People will appreciate your contributions and keep you motivated. If you're newcomer but MediaWiki excites you in any way, don't think, just come. There will be people guiding you and matching you with the projects to help you get started.

At last, but not the least, I would like to thank Wikimedia Foundation for the Wikimania scholarship. It was indeed a very enjoyable, fruitful, and knowledgeable experience at Montreal.




  1. Great write-up! Thank you for sharing your learnings and experiences from the hackathon, good read :)