Wikimania 2009 held in Buenos Aires

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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After three days of presentations, discussion and general community interactions, the fifth annual Wikimedia conference, Wikimania, has completed, and attendeess are returning home. Wikimania 2009 — held in Buenos Aires, Argentina — was the first Wikimania held in the southern hemisphere as well as the first in a Spanish-speaking country.

Over 80 presentations, panels and workshops were held over the three day conference. Among the many topics presented were presentations on the Wikimedia Communities, how Wikimedia and related projects operate within Latin America, and the technology which relates to Wikimedia and free content. There were also panels on Wikipedia's Growing Pains, Wikimedia chapters, and Semantic MediaWiki. Many presentation offered simultaneous live audio translation into English and Spanish.

Richard Stallman presented the opening keynote titled "Before, after, and around Wikipedia". In his keynote, he discussed what he calls the four freedoms. He also addressed what he perceives to be the issues with Wikipedia, and particularly with the Spanish Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikimedia, also presented his annual report on the The State of the Wiki.

In her keynote, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Gardner addressed a number of the concerns within the Wikimedia Foundation. Among these concerns, she noted that Wikimedia sites currently underperform in Asia. According to a comScore report, approximately 16% of Internet users in Asia use Wikipedia compared with the approximately 1/3 world average.

Gardner also said to help address that issue, the Foundation has been working with the Chinese government to help open lines of communication. To assist the development of Wikimedia sites in India, representatives of the Wikimedia Foundation visited India this year to conduct media interviews assist in holding a Wikipedia academy. They also discussed was to help the development of an Indian chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Starting August 25 and continuing throughout Wikimania, the MediaWiki developers were hard at work in the basement of the Centro Cultural General San Martín at the Wikimania Codeathon. Wikimedia developer Brion Vibber presented the highlights of the Codeathon in a presentation on the third day. Among the new features and changes are support for jQuery, allowing improved AJAX support, an overhaul of the maintenance scripts, new upload features including upload via url, several image editing functions, LiquidTreads and new AJAX editing helpers. Other features now under development are new maps support, an eventual migration to a database based configuration system, as well as a new system that allows for much quicker updates for translated MediaWiki messages.


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