My coffee mug

Hello world, and welcome to my corner of the web. This is where I write words about what I'm working on, and post photographs of things I've seen.

I'm a Software Engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation, and so of course my personal website is a wiki (running on MediaWiki). In my spare time I volunteer with WikiClubWest to work on Wikimedia projects, mostly around my family's genealogy and local Western Australian history (especially to do with Fremantle). I try to keep up with issues on all the things I maintain (but usually fail).

I also try to find time to work in my workshop on various woodworking projects. Recently, that's been focused on restoring a chest of drawers and building a metalworking bench.

Travel features in my life, not because I really hugely want to go elsewhere but because just do — and also because then I can do some more interesting mapping on OpenStreetMap. Sometimes I ride my bike to get there.

I'm currently reading the following: A Puritan Bohemia (Margaret Sherwood, 1896), and Arrowsmith (Anon), and Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollop), and Perth (David Whish-Wilson, 2013), and The Countryside Companion (Tom Stephenson), and The Railway Adventures (Geoff Marshall; Vicki Pipe, 2018).

To contact me, you can email me, find me on Matrix as '@samwilson:matrix.org', or the fediverse as @samwilson@wikis.world. If you want to leave a comment on this site (by creating an account), you need to know the secret code Tuart (it's not very secret, but seems to be confusing enough for most spammers).

Wikisource 20


· Wikisource · Wikimedia · anniversaries ·

20 years of Wikisource. 3,000+ years of history.

English Wikisource turns 20 today; there's going to be a (virtual) birthday party this afternoon.

I've been contributing to Wikisource since January 2008, when I started adding Joris-Karl Huysmans' The Cathedral, which I was reading as a paper-book at the time. I copy and pasted it from Project Gutenberg, and mostly wasn't really sure why I was bothering.

However, I then realised that you could add and transcribe books from scans, and I'd been reading a book that mentioned 'Golgotha' as Oxford University slang to refer to the offices of the heads of colleges, so I thought I'd add that to Wiktionary and the source citation to Wikisource. So I found Terræ-filius: or, the Secret History of the University of Oxford and added it, along with this passage:

[…]here is that famous apartment, by idle wits and buffoons nick-named Golgotha, i.e. the place of Sculls or Heads of colleges and halls, where they meet and debate upon all extraordinary affairs, which occur within the precincts of their juriſdiction

To get those scans I skived off work one morning on my way to Tuggeranong and stopped at the NLA, where I could get access to Gale's Eighteenth Century Collections Online, and I downloaded the whole work (page-by-page, if I remember correctly, because it would only give access to a single image at a time).

Since then I've added a bunch of things, and tried to proofread more than I add (not always possible, especially when building tools such as IA Upload). Not everyone understands why people would want to painstakingly transcribe text documents (I remember once being told off by my brother for wasting time on Wikisource when I should've been studying for university exams!). I think the best reason I can give is that it's about making texts available in different formats (for reading on different devices or reformatting however you want) and fully searchable and linkable (these two aspects being absolutely amazing for reference works). For languages that are less supported by the existing institutions or technologies it's also pretty great: Wikimedia projects in general are available in more languages than anything else in the world (both the content languages, and the languages that you can use for the interface elements).

Wikisource is a great project, and I hope it carries on for another twenty years (at least)!

A morning in Brisbane


· WikiCon 2023 ·

View of the Matra hotel from the other side of the road (next door to the WikiCon venue).

The first morning of pre-WikiCon has gone well, in a Wikimedian way: a slow start because I'm on WA time, and a bit of the usual sticking the camera out the hotel windows to take photos of the surrounding area (e.g. the photo at right).

And then a walk across town to the State Library, first stopping at the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying to look at their displays of early cartographic equipment (I still want to try to do some old-school mapping for OSM!), and then onwards for morning coffee at the GOMA cafe to watch the ibises and the river flowing past.

So the wiki total so far is only two photos and one Wikidata edit, but lots more are queued up.

Heading to WikiCon 2023

Perth Airport

· WikiCon 2023 ·

I'm trying to figure (yet again) out how "self-contained" a website should be. MediaWiki by default is fairly opinionated about this, and wants all data and attachments to be stored within itself — with the notable exception of InstantCommons, which makes it possible to show files from Wikimedia Commons; other than that there's no text, images, or other files that get loaded from any external place. For a long time I thought that this was a good approach, avoiding issues with other resources going offline etc., but then a few years ago switched to almost the opposite: that it's better for a site to pull in lots of stuff from everywhere, and to have various parts of it use different services. That way, if anything fails the whole thing doesn't go away.

This morning I'm en route to Brisbane for WikiCon 2023, the 2nd such national gathering we've had for the Australian Wikimedia community. Although 3rd really, because last year's ESEAP conference in Sydney was pretty much also our national thing.



This is a draft.


$dom = new DOMDocument();
$dom->loadXML('<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<svg xmlns:svg="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg"><text><svg:tspan>T</svg:tspan></text></svg>');
$text = $dom->getElementsByTagName('text')[0];
$switch = $dom->createElementNS('http://www.w3.org/2000/svg', 'switch');
$text->parentNode->insertBefore($switch, $text);
echo $dom->saveXML($dom->getElementsByTagName('switch')[0]);

Bug #81468 Inconsistent default namespace inheritance https://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=81468

T316741 Allow svg namespace prefixes other than 'svg'


Git tag/version fetching times out

Version numbers for MediaWiki extensions


· Wikimedia · MediaWiki · versioning · SemVer ·

The WikiEditor extension got a new release in June this year, version 0.5.4.

But it didn't really, because we don't treat version numbers of extensions as significant; they're really only actually used when another extension needs to declare a dependency (which I'm assuming is what happened this time). Some extensions don't ever get a version number (e.g. Cite).

This new release was only a point release because we don't follow Semantic Versioning (although the number does have to be valid for Composer), so it's just important to increase the number, it doesn't matter what to or by how much. The previous release was in April 2020, version 0.5.3. The changes between those two versions are considerable (including the Realtime Preview feature that my team worked on!). So there would be an argument to be made that the version number increase should've been more — but this isn't SemVer, as I say. And if it were, it's still a pre-1.0 release so really we'd have only gone to 0.6.0.

Anyway, all I'm getting at is that I think WikiEditor, that lovely toolbar (and more!) that has been helping us edit wikitext for more than 13 years, should at some point be given a nice round 1.0 release number. Even if it doesn't mean anything. :-)

Blogging platforms


· blogging · websites ·

Reaching 8,888 posts, and a bit of a retrospective, (Rubenerd, Monday 13 November 2023):

I do feel as though my current blogging system is limiting in same ways. I’d love to do more random link-style posts, and be able to post from places other than a laptop. Static-site generation simplifies so much, but I yearn for a database I can query and batch-process. Who knows, by the time 18,888 roles by I’ll have this blogging gig all figured out.

I'm glad to have read this today, because I keep thinking of shifting my blog to a static site. It's mainly the file-management stuff that I don't like about that idea (photos, basically), because they'll have to be hosted elsewhere. Also, not being able to easily post from a phone is sort of annoying; I know I said that I liked the idea of delayed posting, but as it turns out all it means is that I don't post at all.

Maybe MediaWiki isn't such a bad way to do it!



Next Wednesday morning (my time) it'll will have been 1.7 billion seconds since the Unix epoch. It'll be Tue, 14 Nov 2023 22:13:20 +0000.

Not sure I'll mark the occasion, but I'll be getting ready to head to the WMAU WikiCon in Brisbane. Or sleeping, hopefully.

Oh yeah, and today is Rememberance Day, but I've not marked that in any way either. I did notice that the poppies that grow on the middle footpath bit of Martha Street (between East and West) have stopped flowering, whereas I seem to remember in previous years they were still there.

Little Dove, the little server


The beer after which I named my new server (I mean, not this exact glass, it doesn't have a name):