This weekend I got an email response from Mark Hershberger which is part of the amazing story about how I got a connection to Wikipedia.
Walking in Akron
I often go for walks around Akron (my hometown, pop. 4,000); and when I do I often stop to talk to people in their front yard. Last summer, one of the people I happened to talk with yielded a rather amazing connection to Wikipedia!
I was talking to Alexis about her old Victorian House, which she maintains with purchases from the PaulB Zimmerman’s hardware store 1 and listened to how she had moved to Lancaster County from New Orleans.
I used my phone to demo my CiteIt.net App for her and her response was to make the same sort of connections I have. She said:
This would be great for journalists and Wikipedia.
Yes, I’d really like for journalists to use it, and if it succeeds beyond my wildest dreams, I’d like Wikipedia to use it.
Here’s the amazing part — she said next:
My husband works with Wikipedia! You should set up a meeting with him.
So I met with Mark, who works as a contractor packaging the Wikipedia software together into the MediaWiki distribution that anyone can install on their own server. We talked about getting some shared server hosting in the Wikipedia cloud, but it took me a while to get my web service running on Docker, which Mark is more comfortable with than the Python language the software is written in.
So I emailed Mark this month about the project with an actual proposal and he replied back that he is willing to help and he probably knows the right people to ask!
Case Study: 25 articles
The next step he identified for me is assembling a diverse list of articles that will allow us to understand all the ways that citations are used on Wikipedia.
So I started a list of about 25 articles in multiple languages that we can use as a starting point. I’ve annotated 5 of these articles already and I hope to get volunteer help annotating some of the rest.
The Long Road to Production-Quality Code
The other thing I realized is that it’s going to take a lot of work to make the CiteIt software rock-solid enough and user-friendly enough to run on Wikipedia in production, so I’m beginning the task of recruiting alpha testers to provide me with feedback.
I’ve created a list of about 25 journalists and academics I hope to contact, along with examples of their work that I can mark up as demos.
PaulB is one of the businesses the company where I work owns↩