The Italian-speaking technical community gathers for the first time in Catania in April 2024

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The Italian community is pretty lively on Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, and regularly organizes meetups as well as the yearly conference itWikiCon. However, they had very few occasions to bring together Italian-speaking volunteers involved in technical aspects of the Wikimedia projects.

Auregann, CC-BY SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

The Wikimedia Hackathon taking place in Tallinn in May 2024, and the possibility to organise local satellite events, gave us the perfect opportunity to bring together people involved in developing code, maintaining tools, and contributing to Wikidata. Auregann and Ferdi2005 organized the first Italian-speaking Wikimedia Hackathon in Catania, in April 2024, just a few weeks ahead of the international one. The event, taking place on the sunny island of Sicily and funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Italia and Wikimedia CH, gathered 16 participants coming from from Italy and Switzerland.

The primary goal of the event was to create a space to exchange knowledge and skills among the technical community. Each participant brought their own area of expertise to the table and shared it with the others: knowledge of programming languages like Javascript and Python, experience with creating and running bots on Italian Wikipedia, interest in Wikidata and Wikifunctions, etc. During a series of spontaneous workshops, the participants took the opportunity to discover new tools and projects, and broadened their scope of contribution to the Wikimedia movement.

M7, CC-BY SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

Hosting an event in Sicily, a region of Italy that is currently lacking of a structured group of Wikimedians and connections with the local institutions, was also an opportunity to draw the attention of the editors from the island: we ran a communication campaign to identify Wikipedia editors from Sicily and to invite them to join the event. In fact, for several of the hackathon participants, it was their very first Wikimedia meetup. One participant from Sicily wrote to us after the event: “Thank you! Getting to know you all made me feel part of a community for real”.

We also wanted to use the event as an occasion to create connections with the local free software community. The Linux User Group of Catania was involved and several of their members joined the introduction to Wikidata organized at the Informatics department of the University of Catania, which was the occasion for them to learn more about the Wikimedia projects and how they could contribute. Thanks to the Italian Linux Society, who supported and publicized the event among their members, the hackathon in Catania has been a place to bring together the two communities with similar values and goals.

Tommasopaiano, CC-BY SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

Following the structure of the Wikimedia Hackathon, in a smaller scale, we offered the participants to present the projects they would like to work on during the opening session, to ask for help or specific skills if needed, and to create the workshops program together. While most of the weekend revolved around attending workshops, several participants worked together on fixing some issues on Italian Wikipedia and improving technical features. Here are a few examples:

  • Technical evaluation of the state of Codex and it integrability into wikicode 
  • Fix the Italian Wikipedia template {{Titolo errato}} on mobile
  • Improve the bots “zona sismica” and “gradi giorno” to make them use Wikidata’s data
  • Fix an issue related to the anchor links on the gadget pages on Italian Wikipedia

The event was hosted in the coworking and events space Isola Catania, an innovation and social hub located in a historical building in the city center of Catania, which was the perfect place for technical Wikimedians to gather and work while exploring and mapping the surroundings.

Just like all the other events in the Wikimedia movement, the hackathon in Catania was a great moment for people who mostly interact online to get to know each other, share a moment of conviviality and create common memories together over good food, discovering new places and endless discussions over a sweet piece of Sicilian pastry.

Tommasopaiano, CC-BY SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

Looking forward, we hope that this event has been the starting point of an active technical community solving problems and building features for the Italian-speaking projects. We created a dedicated channel for people to join, we populated the Phabricator board Tool-itwiki, and improved some documentation pages. In the future, we hope to establish a yearly hackathon satellite event in Italy, to keep the community engaged and growing.

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