Technology underpins all of Wikimedia's operations, from the network infrastructure that balances traffic loads to the editing interface used to contribute to articles.
While Wikimedia's current network infrastructure effectively balances traffic loads today, there are concerns regarding Wikimedia's ability to scale to support additional users and the bandwidth and caching needs of video and other media formats. The current editing interface (MediaWiki) is commonly criticized for its lack of easy-to-use tools for editing and contributing. In addition, Wikimedia does not seamlessly operate across platforms (e.g., no editing on mobile). There appears to be consensus that that a lack of developers has led to Wikimedia falling behind the innovation curve. Additionally, Wikimedia's current technological infrastructure does not enable the community to get a clear understanding of who is looking at what content, making it difficult to understand where we are and think strategically about the future.
The goal of this task force is to identify the ideal technology infrastructure for Wikimedia going forward, to identify opportunities to increase the usability of Wikimedia projects, to identify processes that encourage innovation within the projects and to develop better reporting and monitoring mechanisms.
The task force should develop answers to these questions to help guide their work:
- What are the potential impacts on infrastructure (i.e. bandwidth, caching, redundancy, servers) as Wikimedia grows to 1 billion monthly users?
- What are the impacts of increased usage (from additional media formats, from access via multiple platforms, and so on) on the network and Wikimedia's infrastructure?
- What should Wikimedia's technology infrastructure and supporting management/maintenance operations be to ensure the infrastructure can grow to meet demands?
- What are the areas for improvement in usability with respect to reading and contribution (editing) of Wikimedia projects? This may include multiple platforms (e.g., mobile).
- Are the processes and structures Wikimedia currently has to identify, develop, test, and roll-out new tools and innovations sufficient? If not, what can be done to improve them?
- How should Wikimedia encourage software development and innovation within the developer community?
- Strategic priorities:
- What strategic priority/ies should be set to ensure Wikimedia's infrastructure can grow to serve 1 billion people from across the world?
- What strategic opportunity/ies for investment would significantly improve Wikimedia's usability in the near term?
- What strategic opportunity/ies for investment would significantly improve Wikimedia's ability to identify and develop new innovations with faster time to roll-out?
- What strategic priority/ies should be set to ensure Wikimedia has the necessary information about how people are using Wikimedia projects to inform future strategic planning?
- Who is needed to support this strategy (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, individual volunteers, external partners), and what do they need to do?
See Optimize Wikimedia's operations#Technology_infrastructure for background.
One benchmark is the ratio of developers to users. The Wikimedia Foundation currently employs 14 technical people (not all of whom are developers). At 400 million readers/month (as of February 2010), that's about 1 developer per 30 million users. Accounting for open source developers probably doesn't change that ratio by an order of magnitude.
For comparison, Facebook employs one developer per 1 million users. Flickr employs one developer per 2.5 million users.