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Proposal:Collaborative Google Wave-based Wikipedia editing

From Strategic Planning

see also: Proposal:Etherpad-based editing

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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


When Google's Wave protocol was announced in 2009, many online entities noted its similarity to[1][2][3], or implications of using it alongside[4][5][6] Wikipedia.

Real-time collaborative editing of Wikipedia would be a boon to both new, veteran and casual editors alike.

Editing a page on Wikipedia when someone else is can make things difficult. So is catching editors in the act. Both of these issues could be dealt with if Wikipedia had editing in real-time and cooperative editing so everyone could edit a page at the same time.

The Wave Federation protocol[1] enables anyone to set up a Wave server that hosts its own waves entirely independently of Google. The Wikimedia foundation should consider migrating articles to Waves, and – depending on the long-term success of Wave – having Wave eventually replace MediaWiki as the editing platform.


I propose that the Wikimedia foundation (1) works alongside Google to oversee creation of or (2) uses its official position to push for the creation of a Wave protocol bot that:

  1. Populates a wave with the full text of a Wikipedia article (WYSIWYG-editable + easy image upload?)
  2. Allows wave participants to edit the article's text together
  3. Commits these changes periodically, or when noted by a participant
  4. Occasionally checks for new edits from outside of the wave, and updates it accordingly

Additionally, a portal for users who would like to collaboratively edit Wikipedia articles would be created (on relevant languages' Wikipedias), in order to facilitate the mentoring of new users and to share article-editing styles and tips.

I propose that this feature be implemented on every page of Wikipedia. The editing of a page however would only be visible to people who are on the editing page. You would also be able to hide unedited sections so anyone looking at a page mid-edit would not notice.

  • Set up a Wikimedia Wave server.
  • Convert all articles with all their history to Waves.
  • Remove all editing features from MediaWiki and turn it into a mere navigation tool to navigate the set of waves that are articles.


The collaboration of Wikipedia has, up to this point, been largely asynchronous. Allowing for real-time collaborative editing would encourage constructive mentoring and teamwork on Wikipedia articles.

I am lucky enough to be a developer on Google Wave and so have seen something like this first hand and have seen it work.

This is one possible way of implementing the more abstract proposal, Improve software, keep up with the times.

Key Questions

  • How much work towards this is already done, or is planned to be done?
    • Tom Maaswinkel has publicly noted[7] that he is working on a mediawiki bot for Wave.
    • Tom Maaswinkel established a Google Code project called mediawikiwave
    • Micke Nordin created a MediaWiki extension for embedding Waves
  • How would the process of using the bot work? How would one (1) find someone to collaborate with, (2) join a wave with the bot and collaborators, (3) chat with collaborators during edits and (4) have their edits be properly attributed?
  • How could this bot be designed to decrease the barrier of entry to Wikipedia editing?
  • Would it make more sense to have this bot be integrated on the wikipedia server-side, or as a bot acting inside of the existing Wave architecture, pulling in Wikipedia articles and pushing out changes made in-session?
  • Would this be applicable to other Mediawiki installations?
  • Would it be wanted by the majority?

Potential Costs

  • High end: hiring a developer or using current developer resources to develop this bot
  • Low end: Mentor a student for a Google Summer of Code project, or hope that someone in either the Google Wave or Mediawiki communities runs with this idea
  • Development of Technology
  • Higher server costs?


  1. http://twitter.com/ATVStyle/statuses/1968588649
  2. http://ultimategerardm.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-wave.html
  3. http://www.volacci.com/google-wave-evolves-social-media
  4. http://code.google.com/p/wikifier-wave-bot/
  5. http://osdir.com/ml/google-wave-api/2009-07/msg00261.html
  6. http://millosh.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/google-wave-and-wikimedia-projects/
  7. http://osdir.com/ml/google-wave-api/2009-07/msg00289.html

Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Collaborative Google Wave-based Wikipedia editing.

Want to work on this proposal?

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