Being a Wikimedia intern

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 1:22 AM in , , ,
Am almost at the end of my four months long journey with Wikimedia Foundation that began on the 2nd of January when I started my OPW internship under this organization. The summary of all my work, done in these 4 months can either be found on my earlier blogs. The links to all the documentation done during my work phase are here:

[1]Documentation against getting the 'Cite' option on your MediaWiki
[2]Documenting noteworthy local templates

I have had edited Wikipedia pages, translated content from English to Bengali Wikipedia, had contributed to Mozilla in several ways but never had done any prominent work in Open Source till before OPW. For me, OPW was the perfect platform where I got to upgrade myself from being a FOSS enthusiast to a FOSS contributor. 
We worked from different parts of the globe, but still worked together. I was here in India, my mentor in Israel and all the other Wikimedians who came to my help when I got stuck, I don't even know which place of the world were they helping me from. This awesome networking was something that impressed me most throughout these four months. The mailing list etiquette and IRC rules were known to me, but their implementation happened most in the last few months. 

My project was one that dealt with the fact that each Wikipedia has its own CSS styles, JS gadgets, and templates. It's most a good thing, because it gives each language community the freedom to customize and innovate. But there's also a problem: these things may be useful in other languages, too, and it's hard to port them. Most MediaWiki developers are aware of the customization in the language they speak - mostly English, and to a lesser extent German, Dutch, Russian and French. And they aren't even aware of the useful developments in other languages. And they may not be aware that a customization that works in their language is not available in other languages. I was to help Amir (my mentor) in achieving this goal of documenting some local templates so that irrespective of language, MediaWiki platform remained the same. I began my work with documentation, but soon when my mentor realized that my JavaScript knowledge was kind of stronger than he had expected, he wanted me to move from documentation to coding. Now, instead of simply stating which codes needed to be changed to change some feature, we moved to making the appropriate changes in the code. Though I started with coding, the documentation work was never forgotten. My mentor made sure that I documented each step during the process of making those changes. 

Its such an awesome feeling when we get to see our work taking live forms and our changes being used by innumerable users on any Wikipedia platform. Whenever I go to Bengali Wikipedia now and see that the Edit toolbar has the 'Cite' option working properly, I feel so good and so much encouraged to keep making such contributions to FOSS.

During the tenure of my internship, I also got an opportunity to work with Sumana and help her in the preparation of the Wikimedia engineering report for the month of February. That was another great learning. How these reports are generated, how the stats are obtained and all was fun to explore. I did struggle a bit at places and even the output was not a very impressive one, but the learning from it was really great.
The entire course of these four months were filled with learning, moments of success, moments of failure, getting to know people, getting a chance of working with people, getting to know the community structure of Wikimedia and how it works and so much more. Though the official tenure of my internship is at its end, I will never ever wanna miss a single opportunity of getting a chance to work with Wikimedia Foundation again :)


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