Announcing the Enterprise MediaWiki Consortium

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Announcing the Enterprise MediaWiki Consortium

Yaron Koren-2
Hi everyone,

As Semantic MediaWiki users form a major subset of the "Enterprise
MediaWiki" community (and even more so if you add in Cargo users), I
thought it was important to have a special announcement on this mailing
list.

I have formed the Enterprise MediaWiki Consortium (EMC). [1] It is an
organization intended to pool money from companies and organizations that
make use of MediaWiki, in order to fund the development and maintenance of
"enterprise MediaWiki" software - which I define as any MediaWiki-related
software that is not funded by the Wikimedia Foundation or similar
organizations, and is not in use on the major Wikimedia sites. Which
software does get funded is entirely up to the EMC's members, but it could
include extensions, skins and bot scripts.

The EMC could also potentially fund other things like marketing documents,
tutorial videos, and conferences - again, it's up to the members.

The Enterprise MediaWiki Consortium is at heart very similar to the Linux
Foundation, and hundreds of other organizations that exist to direct money
from organizational users of open-source software to the developers of that
software. Many of these organizations also allow for individual membership,
at a lower amount (or for free), but the EMC doesn't, at the moment - you
have to pay a minimum of $2,000 a year to get in.

Speaking of membership - there is currently only member organization of the
Enterprise MediaWiki Consortium, and that is the software company Genesys.
I know this is a bit anti-climactic: the announcement of a "consortium"
with only one member. However, there are other companies I've talked to
that have expressed interest, and of course now that it has been publicly
announced, there are many more organizations that may be interested in
joining - I certainly hope so.

For the Semantic MediaWiki "family" (SMW itself, all the "Semantic"
extensions, plus the extensions often used alongside it like Page Forms,
Replace Text, etc.), I think this sort of thing cannot come soon enough.
There are, I believe, millions of dollars' worth (or more) of operations
that rely on this software; yet, for many of these extensions, there is a
very low "bus number": [2] a single unpaid developer leaving the project
could potentially throw the whole thing into chaos. So this is a way of
trying to bring some more reassurance and stability into the entire
development process.

There are two other organizations that you may be wondering how they relate
to the new Enterprise MediaWiki Foundation. The first is the Open Semantic
Data Association [3], which at the moment has as its main purpose
organizing the annual SMWCon conference. In theory it could also be funding
development of SMW and other software; that has certainly been discussed
from time to time in the past. If that were to happen, that would be great
- ideally the EMC and OSDA could coordinate on development work.

The second is the MediaWiki Stakeholders' Group. [4] This group has a wide
variety of goals - including making core MediaWiki more enterprise-friendly
- but one such goal is in fact to improve the non-WMF-sponsored extensions.
So it could be that, in the future, the two groups will set their focus on
the same extension(s). If that happens, I don't foresee any conflict - on
the contrary, I look forward to coordinating our efforts. (I should note
that, though the two groups have similar goals, they have different
approaches: one is based on funded work, the other around voluntary effort.)

By the way, since I mentioned the Semantic MediaWiki extension: I have no
idea if the EMC will ever support core SMW: the funding priorities of the
EMC are entirely up to its members, and presumably would also be done in
consultation with the developers of any relevant software.

As for my own extensions (Page Forms, etc.): if the EMC decides to fund
development of any of these, my plan is that most or all of the money will
go to others, not myself, to do the work, in order to expand the developer
base and ensure that the extensions can go on without me. I still plan to
take a supervisory role, but not to do much actual coding.

Tied in with all of this, I also plan is to start to limit the amount of
unpaid development work I do on these extensions. I think it will be a
great day for the software when the majority of programming work done on it
is paid, not done for free.

It is 2017, and the software we discuss here on a daily basis is used by
thousands of organizations, and millions of users, in some cases for
mission-critical work. This is not an academic or hobbyist project any
more, and I think it's time for the development process to "grow up" as
well. If you agree with that, and if you belong to (or run) an organization
that can afford to join, I would strongly urge you to try to get your
company/organization to join, and support the software that you use.

-Yaron

[1] http://enterprisemediawikiconsortium.org/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor
[3] http://opensemanticdata.org/
[4] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki_Stakeholders%27_Group
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