Introducing a new wiki template to link communication channels

While working on my extensions I spend quite some time on mediawiki.org, looking at various MediaWiki documentation. And while being there something peaked my interest:

Extension pages have a link to their issue tracker prominently placed to the right of the page title. How’s that possible? As it turns out it’s a MediaWiki feature called page status indicators that has been there since 2014.

Inspired by this I created a new template for the OSM wiki and went ahead and added it to 30 pages. The end result looks like this:

JOSM

Germany

Develop

(I have linked these screenshots to the respective wiki pages, so you can click them to see it live.)

The tag icon refers to a tag on this forum, the group icon refers to a category on this forum. The envelope icon refers to a mailing list. #foobar denotes an IRC channel, while [m] #foobar:example.org refers to a Matrix room.

Unfortunately page status indicators aren’t displayed in MediaWiki’s mobile view. This has been requested back in 2014 but hasn’t been implemented yet.

But I still really like the new links on Desktop. I think it makes sense for wiki pages to prominently promote the official communication channels, in a consistent place (so that readers know where to look) and with a consistent iconography (so that readers can easily recognize the links once they have familiarized themselves with the icons).

tl;dr You are welcome to add the new template to more wiki pages but don’t remove existing links because the new template isn’t displayed on mobile (yet?).

Who knows I might try to tackle the 8-year-old MediaWiki feature request. Haha but yeah I am getting sidetracked again …

Cheers,
Martin

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This is a great idea. Thanks for making it!

Another link might be to tags on the Fediverse, e.g. #josm - En OSM Town | Mapstodon for OpenStreetMap

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please, do not remove link in external links section - many people will miss this new one due to banner blindness

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Linking to GitHub issues in addition to GitHub discussions would be helpful. Not every project uses discussions.

I find the distinction between open and closed platforms a bit odd, and not in line with how the osm community index sees this. Let people decide on their own which platform they want to use.

We as a community have no mission to educate our users, unlike OSMF who wants to promote open platforms and offer at least one non-proprietary alternative.

In a way, GitHub is also not an open platform, b/c you would need to register in order to participate. Also, it is proprietary and closed source.

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You’re welcome :slight_smile:

But that is just a link to one specific instance of the Fediverse, right? I am not sure if it makes sense to promote one specific instance (even if it is the instance most used by the OSM community), because I think the very point of the Fediverse is the federation. Is there some way to link a search for a tag across multiple Fediverse instances?

Right, it probably makes sense to add a parameter to link bug trackers in general.

The OSM wiki does not have to be in line with the OSM community index, which is a separate project without any particular authority on the matter. Personally I find it very odd for a community project, such as OpenStreetMap, whose very raison d’être is open data, to promote closed communication platforms on its wiki when good open alternatives exist. But I do realize that my standpoint on this might not reflect the majority opinion of the community, so it’s probably best if I write a proposal and we put it to a vote.

Note: I don’t have a problem with linking closed platforms on the OSM wiki, I just think that if there are open alternatives they should be linked more prominently.

Right, I am well aware that GitHub isn’t truly open but at least you can read the discussions without having to create an account, unlike with Discord and Slack. Twitter and Facebook do let you read some content without an account but afaik they bug you to log in if you scroll too far.

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The OSM community index currently has 119 contributors. Maybe take a moment to go through the list, and see which communities they represent.

Every time you upload a changeset in iD right on osm.org, you see this nice list of channels for your local community. The sequence in which the entries appear reflect the relative importance of those channels, and have also been defined by each community.

Right. We’re here for open data. We don’t want to tell anyone that they should use a Linux based machine, because their Windows OS is proprietary. Also, we want people to use the tools that work best for them, and use the channels where they can have the maximum impact for our open data goals.

That’s honestly very impressive!

I don’t think that you have to be a community representative to add a link to the community index, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of those contributors are community representatives.

Thanks, for bringing that to my attention, I didn’t know that iD integrates the community index, that’s pretty nifty :slight_smile:

Now this is where things get tricky. The order of those channels has certainly been defined by a member of each community but as far as I can tell all it takes to change the order is to submit a PR with some reasoning and have nobody from your local community disagree in the respective GitHub PR discussion. Just because nobody disagrees on the GitHub PR does not mean that the majority agrees.

So I am not sure how representative the community index ordering of community channels within a given country is of the majority opinion of the OpenStreetMap contributors within that country. But I am also well aware that we unfortunately don’t have any good way to conduct representative opinion polls. If I would make a proposal on whether or not the OSM wiki should promote open platforms, it would probably have to be announced in every community channel in order to be somewhat representative.

I agree that software freedoms are a separate issue.

I agree that people should use the tools that work best for them. And I would argue that this is also a very good reason to avoid closed platforms, because they do not let their users use the tools they want. E.g. Discord does not allow 3rd party clients and has banned people for using them.

And I do believe that open communication platforms have the maximum impact for our open data goals. E.g. open platforms can be indexed by search engines which helps other people discover our communities and our project.

And if community disagrees they will submit counterproposal (similarly to editing on wiki where also added this channels based on own judgment and in case of people having different idea they can edit it).

Honestly, that’s the only place where someone can view the local community’s communication channels within OpenStreetMap, besides google searching for those. I don’t remember if iD’s tutorial shows the Community Index aswell, but in general it’s pretty odd for a (new) player to see this list only after uploading the changes.

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Yes, that’s true. It’d be great if there were a cross-federation tag index! I’m not sure such a thing exists (because it’d have to index the whole fediverse and that doesn’t happen anywhere I think). Linking to the OSM one might be the least worst option (and it would still list posts from all over the fediverse, so long as they’ve been retrieved by that instance).

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When does that instance retrieve posts from another instance?

Whenever someone on that instance follows someone else on another instance (or interacts with posts in other ways). For example, posts tagged with ‘survey’ are from various places: #survey - En OSM Town | Mapstodon for OpenStreetMap

Of course, there’s no control of these tags, so it’s only things like ‘josm’ etc. that would be suitable, I think (e.g. ‘survey’ above is often not about OSM surveying).

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Ok I have made a bunch of changes to my template you all should like :slight_smile:

  1. I added support for Slack, Discord and Facebook. For example:

United States

Poland

  1. I added an issue tracker parameter. For example:

  1. The template now automatically adds Links to hashtag searches for Twitter and en.osm.town but since these links often lead nowhere they are hidden by default. You can enable them by editing your user-specific Common.css page on the wiki, as described in the template documentation. I requested the wiki admins to create MediaWiki gadgets for this so that editing the Common.css is no longer necessary and you can just check a checkbox like “Display en.osm.org hashtag links” in your user preferences to show them. When enabled they look like:

Cheers,
Martin

2 Likes

Lovely work, congrats!

I’ve already added for Brazil, but three things stood out for me:

1 - I would simplify the display, making it simpler, switching the entire link for the name only of the platform. For example, communities:br → Communities, talk-br → Mailing List and so on, just like you did with Telegram and Discord. This would also made pages standardized.
2 - IRC link automatically adds matrix section. I don’t use IRC or matrix, so I’m not sure the interoperability between them (I believe they work together) but does it make sense to have this double information?
3 - and as said already before, I would respect the order of the info. In Brazil for example, Discord is way more used than Mailing List.

Anyway, great work again!

2 Likes

Maybe @bhousel can help to understand if there is a way for the wiki to consume existing channels documentation over Community Index repository, so you don’t have to duplicate and maintain another list of channels that may get out of sync when communities update the index.

I don’t know much about how Mediawiki works. I guess they can check with the osm-community-index project wiki to see whether consuming the data files (either directly from GitHub, or pull releases from a CDN) might work.

iD and RapiD currently consume the latest released data files from the CDN. I set it up this way because it lets the code specify a semantic version range that is known to be compatible.

Users can also view the community index on a map at https://openstreetmap.community.

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It would be possible to write bot that fetches NSI data and edits wiki pages.

thanks :slight_smile:

I have simplified communities:… to just forum. I am hestitant to simplify the labels for tags, mailing lists, IRC channels and Matrix rooms because these can be useful e.g. at the Proposal page you can immediately see which mailing list and which forum tag is used for proposals:

Proposal

Yes the template automatically adds Matrix links because IRC channels on the OFTC network are automatically bridged to Matrix. However both links are necessary because both protocols require different links (clicking an irc:// link tries to open the link with IRC … so linking Matrix rooms requires a separate link).

I agree that this would be nice but unfortunately that’s a MediaWiki limitation: ⚓ T197516 pairs() doesn't preserve the order of parameters passed to the module

It might also make sense to forward changes on the wiki to the community index since the wiki is easier to edit than GitHub … but I am currently too occupied with other tasks :sweat_smile: