Proposal:Etherpad-based editing

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

This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Ensure that the underlying project infrastructure is secure, stable, and sufficient to guarantee the permanence of the projects and support ongoing growth.
  5. Encourage Innovation.


When Etherpad was released as open source code, many people started hosting their own etherpad servers... Real-time collaborative editing of Wikipedia (as also proposed under Proposal:Collaborative Google Wave-based editing) 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 Etherpad protocol enables anyone to set up an Etherpad server that hosts its own pads entirely independently. The Wikimedia foundation should consider hosting an etherpad server dedicated to acting as a collaboration host for editors, and having the default edit window (or the editor on using a popular gadget option) pipe edits through Etherpad's APIs.


see above

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

Proposed: 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[nother] Wikimedia Etherpad server.
  • Convert all article edits as they happen to Etherpads, tracking both sporadic revisions as per mediawiki norm and continuous revisions as per Etherpad norm; flattening the Etherpad revisions over time (and using 'saves' as explicit MW revision saves)
  • Deprecate traditional editing features from MediaWiki.
  • Provide watch posts for the articles which are being edited alive. You can enjoy tracking the writing of the editor and you can jump in to correct misspellings.


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.

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?
  • 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?


Community Discussion

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

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. SJ+ 14:48, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
  2. S.W.
  3. Ryuch 07:59, 3 March 2011 (UTC)