How two Wikimedians spent their time at the Montreal Hackathon

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Photo by Martin Kraft, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Tell me about your experiences at the Montreal Hackathon, and how you prepared in advance to attend.

Johanna Mayr: My preparations for the hackathon were quite technical: as I changed the operating system on my laptop, I had to install some programs like git and git-review and I also downloaded Mediawiki.
Because I already attended the Hackathon in Vienna, I more or less knew what I had to do and with the help of some pages at I came quite far. At the Hackathon itself, I only had to install Mediawiki with the help of Moriel. (I couldn’t prepare that at home, because I don’t know much about databases and the Installation guide required too much knowledge).
It was nice to already know some people which also were in Vienna, so I already knew who to ask if I had a problem. As Moriel (who was my mentor in Vienna) was also there, we could work on some of the bugs that I started fixing in Vienna. The meeting where all the mentors explained what they could provide to newcomers was also quite useful, because I got an overview about some other projects. Also my roommate (Ciell) told me what she was working on and so I also got an overview there.
Fotios Tsalampounis: The hackathon was a wonderful and unique experience. Everyone was very friendly and willing to chat not only about their projects but about pretty much anything. Most of all it was really fun!
I prepared by looking in advance into the bugs, suggested improvements and new features of the Commons Android app on Github and choosing a few of them, so at the beginning of the hackathon I would already have an idea of what I could work on.

What did you work on while you were there?

Johanna Mayr: After the installation of Mediawiki, I worked on the bug from Vienna again (Phabricator: T5234). It’s about getting notifications if someone edits a subpage of your user-talk-page. You do get a notification if someone edits your user-talk-page, but you don’t get any if someone edits the subpage of your user-talk-page.
So I fixed that (before the hackathon), but then we discovered that you don’t get any notifications if the person who edits does not leave their signature there, so I also changed that. I didn’t work on that continually, because at some point I had some questions and had to wait for Moriel, who was busy elsewhere, so I was forced to take a break on that. Then I helped at the documentation-table with the documentation of Wikidata: I went through the homepage and the tutorial (as I am a beginner) and told them what was clear to me and what wasn’t.
On Thursday, I finally solved the task from Vienna. On Friday, I found another simple task to work on where I also learned something about php (phabricator: T169834). I went to the gentle introduction on Wikidata and visited the BAnQ.
On Saturday, I attended some sessions and found another bug to work on (phabricator: T3876): It’s about creating a notification when someone else edits your userpage. I think it is unusual that someone else would edit a user-page of another user but if someone does that you should get a notification. I worked on that on saturday and sunday.
Patch-sets for the three phabricator-tasks are also uploaded to gerrit (my username is JoHammer) and are still waiting for review.
Fotios Tsalampounis: I worked on a bug/new feature on the Commons Android app. If the user took a picture from inside the app in order to upload it to Commons, and the upload failed or was cancelled by the user, the image would be lost. Following the suggested approach discussed on Github, I added a setting allowing the user to select whether the pictures taken from inside the app would be saved in the device’s storage or not and wrote the code for saving the image if the setting is enabled. This way, if the setting is enabled and the upload fails the user can try uploading the same image again from the device’s storage. I also volunteered at the hackathon helpdesk and the main conference registration desk.

What did you learn while you were there?

Johanna Mayr: Plenty. Some technical stuff (something about databases and php), how to add labels to open street maps, how to edit wikidata and a lot about wikipedia and its sister projects. And I also got to know a lot of people.
Fotios Tsalampounis: Code-wise I took a deeper look into FileProviders but most importantly I learned what I got a first sense of at the Wikimedia Hackathon in Vienna. That everyone is happy to help in any way possible, passionate to talk about and share their project and make your hackathon as awesome as possible. I also learned that there a Commons Conference in the works and people are getting excited about that.

What have you taken with you since returning home?

Johanna Mayr: I don’t really know what to answer on that question, but I would like to continue working on the bugs (or other bugs). I also plan to get more involved in the projects of Wikimedia Austria.
Fotios Tsalampounis: I met a lot of new interesting people, I got even more excited about contributing, felt the community spirit and got a lot of great tips and ideas for the Gender Gap/edithon/hackathon event we are organizing in Thessaloniki called WikiFemHack. More specifically during the main conference I talked with Anna Torres, an organizer of the WikiWomenCamp 2017 and got some great ideas about WikiFemHack. When I returned home I contacted her asking if she would be interested in hosting a talk over video-conference during WikiFemHack about WikiWomenCamp 2017 and she gladly accepted. I also sent an email to Isla Haddow-Flood and Florence Devouard from Wiki Loves Women about having them host a talk over video-conference about Wiki Loves Women, since I found their talk at Wikimania great, and they also were very happy to do so.

What would you change or improve the next time around?

Johanna Mayr: I now have the problem, that my patch-sets are still waiting for review. I would like to occasionally work on these tasks until they get merged and I also don’t need to work on them right now, but I still think that reviewing could be faster so that if I feel like working on them, I could do that. Maybe it would be better to just finish a task completely during the hackathon (so that you don’t have to work on the tasks after the hackathon), but then you would need someone who immediately reviews your patch-sets and for me that was not the case. I also feel that if I want someone to review my patch-sets, then I have to tell them that personally, otherwise nothing won’t happen. I think that someone should feel responsible for looking after the patch-sets of newcomers, because if their patch-sets will just be forgotten, it doesn’t make much sense to invite newcomers to a hackathon.
Fotios Tsalampounis: I can’t think of anything that needs improvement.

Anything you’d like to add?

Johanna Mayr: I really enjoyed the hackathon and felt like I learned a lot.
Fotios Tsalampounis: I’d like to thank everyone that helped make my first Wikimania awesome and gave me advice on how to stay active in the movement and most of all the organizers that did an excellent job and everything run smoothly.
Interview by Melody Kramer, Senior Audience Development Manager, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

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