research-oriented toolserver?

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research-oriented toolserver?

phoebe ayers-3
Hi all,
I'm not sure exactly where to raise this, so am asking here.

A researcher I have been in touch with has proposed starting a 2nd,
research-oriented Wikimedia toolserver. He thinks his lab can pay for
the hardware and would be willing to maintain it, if they could get
help setting it up. He got this idea after a member of his research
group tried (unsuccessfully so far -- no response) to get an account
on the current toolserver; their Wikipedia-related research has been
put on hold for a few months because of the delay. (It seems like
there is a big backlog of account requests right now and only one
person working on them?)  This research group has done some
interesting Wikipedia research to date and I expect they could do more
with access to the right data.

Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the
research community, but I know very little about the technical issues
involved and/or whether this has been proposed before. Please comment,
and I can pass on replies and put the researcher in touch with the
tech team if it seems like a good idea.

-- user: "first post on wikitech" phoebe

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Bilal Abdul Kader
Greetings,
We are setting up a research server at Concordia University (Canada) that is
dedicated for Wikipedia. We would love to share the resources with anyone
interested.

In case anyone needs help setting it up, we would love to help as well.

bilal


On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 8:07 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I'm not sure exactly where to raise this, so am asking here.
>
> A researcher I have been in touch with has proposed starting a 2nd,
> research-oriented Wikimedia toolserver. He thinks his lab can pay for
> the hardware and would be willing to maintain it, if they could get
> help setting it up. He got this idea after a member of his research
> group tried (unsuccessfully so far -- no response) to get an account
> on the current toolserver; their Wikipedia-related research has been
> put on hold for a few months because of the delay. (It seems like
> there is a big backlog of account requests right now and only one
> person working on them?)  This research group has done some
> interesting Wikipedia research to date and I expect they could do more
> with access to the right data.
>
> Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the
> research community, but I know very little about the technical issues
> involved and/or whether this has been proposed before. Please comment,
> and I can pass on replies and put the researcher in touch with the
> tech team if it seems like a good idea.
>
> -- user: "first post on wikitech" phoebe
>
> --
> * I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
> <at> gmail.com *
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

John Doe-27
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
I have a toolserver account and would be willing to run some queries for
him, what kind of queries are you wanting to run

Betacommand

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 8:07 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I'm not sure exactly where to raise this, so am asking here.
>
> A researcher I have been in touch with has proposed starting a 2nd,
> research-oriented Wikimedia toolserver. He thinks his lab can pay for
> the hardware and would be willing to maintain it, if they could get
> help setting it up. He got this idea after a member of his research
> group tried (unsuccessfully so far -- no response) to get an account
> on the current toolserver; their Wikipedia-related research has been
> put on hold for a few months because of the delay. (It seems like
> there is a big backlog of account requests right now and only one
> person working on them?)  This research group has done some
> interesting Wikipedia research to date and I expect they could do more
> with access to the right data.
>
> Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the
> research community, but I know very little about the technical issues
> involved and/or whether this has been proposed before. Please comment,
> and I can pass on replies and put the researcher in touch with the
> tech team if it seems like a good idea.
>
> -- user: "first post on wikitech" phoebe
>
> --
> * I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
> <at> gmail.com *
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Andrew Garrett
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 11:07 AM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the
> research community, but I know very little about the technical issues
> involved and/or whether this has been proposed before. Please comment,
> and I can pass on replies and put the researcher in touch with the
> tech team if it seems like a good idea.

Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.

--
Andrew Garrett

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Aryeh Gregor
On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:18 PM, Andrew Garrett <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
> toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.

. . . and this fact is also apparently a major reason for the slowness
of new user review.  New roots can't be added to the toolserver until
the private data is moved off, so there are too few roots to add new
users.

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Andrew Garrett
On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 12:33 PM, Aryeh Gregor
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> . . . and this fact is also apparently a major reason for the slowness
> of new user review.  New roots can't be added to the toolserver until
> the private data is moved off, so there are too few roots to add new
> users.

The bottleneck is in approval (by Wikimedia DE's representative
Daniel), not in creating their accounts.

--
Andrew Garrett
Sent from: Sydney Nsw Australia.

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Casey Brown-3
In reply to this post by Aryeh Gregor
On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:33 PM, Aryeh Gregor
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> . . . and this fact is also apparently a major reason for the slowness
> of new user review.  New roots can't be added to the toolserver until
> the private data is moved off, so there are too few roots to add new
> users.

Really?  We just got a new root (Werdna) and normally regular roots do
not handle new accounts anyway -- that job rests with the WMDE
contact, currently DaB, doesn't it?

--
Casey Brown
Cbrown1023

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Aryeh Gregor
In reply to this post by Andrew Garrett
On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:54 PM, Andrew Garrett <[hidden email]> wrote:
> The bottleneck is in approval (by Wikimedia DE's representative
> Daniel), not in creating their accounts.

Oh.  Why does a single specific person have to handle the approval of
all toolserver account requests, then?

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

K. Peachey
In reply to this post by Andrew Garrett
> Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
> toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.
My understanding is that the the toolserver(/s) are owned by the
german chapter and not by wikimedia directly so why is private data
being replicated onto them?

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Andrew Garrett
On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 3:21 PM, K. Peachey <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
>> toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.
> My understanding is that the the toolserver(/s) are owned by the
> german chapter and not by wikimedia directly so why is private data
> being replicated onto them?

Because it was chosen as the best technical solution. Is there a
specific problem with private data being on the toolserver? If so,
what?

You should be aware that toolserver roots are approved by the
foundation before becoming roots.

--
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Robert Rohde
On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:29 PM, Andrew Garrett <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 3:21 PM, K. Peachey <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
>>> toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.
>> My understanding is that the the toolserver(/s) are owned by the
>> german chapter and not by wikimedia directly so why is private data
>> being replicated onto them?
>
> Because it was chosen as the best technical solution. Is there a
> specific problem with private data being on the toolserver? If so,
> what?

I'd say the added worries about security and access approval are a
"problem" partially bundled up with that, even if they can be worked
around.

Logistically it would be nice to have a means of providing an
exclusively public data replica for purposes such as research, though
I can certainly see how that could get technically messy.

-Robert Rohde

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Daniel Kinzler
Robert Rohde schrieb:

> On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 9:29 PM, Andrew Garrett <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 3:21 PM, K. Peachey <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>> Currently all data, including private data, is replicated to the
>>>> toolserver. We could not do this with a third-party server.
>>> My understanding is that the the toolserver(/s) are owned by the
>>> german chapter and not by wikimedia directly so why is private data
>>> being replicated onto them?
>> Because it was chosen as the best technical solution. Is there a
>> specific problem with private data being on the toolserver? If so,
>> what?
>
> I'd say the added worries about security and access approval are a
> "problem" partially bundled up with that, even if they can be worked
> around.
>
> Logistically it would be nice to have a means of providing an
> exclusively public data replica for purposes such as research, though
> I can certainly see how that could get technically messy.

As far as I know, there is simply no efficient way to do this currently. MySQL's
replication can be told to omit entire tables, but not individual columns or
even rows. That would be required though. Witrh the new revision-deletion
feature, we have even more trouble.

So, toolserver roots need to be trusted and approved by the foundation. However,
account *approval* doesn't require root access. It doesn't require any access,
technically. Accoiunt *creation* of course does, but that's not much of a
problem (except currently, because of infrastructure changes due to new serves,
but that will be fixed soon).

To avoid confusion: *two* Daniels can do approval: DaB and me. We both don't
have much time, currently - DaB does it every now and then, and I don't do it at
all, admittedly - i'm caught up in organizing the dev meeting and hardware
orders besides doing my regular develoment jobs. I suppose we should streamline
the process, yes. This would be a good topic for the developer meeting, maybe.


-- daniel

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Daniel Kinzler
In reply to this post by Bilal Abdul Kader
Bilal Abdul Kader schrieb:
> Greetings,
> We are setting up a research server at Concordia University (Canada) that is
> dedicated for Wikipedia. We would love to share the resources with anyone
> interested.
>
> In case anyone needs help setting it up, we would love to help as well.
>
> bilal

There's a project for a biggish research cluster for wikipedia data awaiting
funding at the Syracuse University. I forwarded your mail to one of the people
involved. Perhaps you can join forces.

>
> On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 8:07 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Hi all,
>> I'm not sure exactly where to raise this, so am asking here.
>>
>> A researcher I have been in touch with has proposed starting a 2nd,
>> research-oriented Wikimedia toolserver. He thinks his lab can pay for
>> the hardware and would be willing to maintain it, if they could get
>> help setting it up. He got this idea after a member of his research
>> group tried (unsuccessfully so far -- no response) to get an account
>> on the current toolserver; their Wikipedia-related research has been
>> put on hold for a few months because of the delay. (It seems like
>> there is a big backlog of account requests right now and only one
>> person working on them?)  This research group has done some
>> interesting Wikipedia research to date and I expect they could do more
>> with access to the right data.

I apologize for the delay, perhaps you can send me some detaqils in private, and
I'll look at it. DaB doesn't have much time lately, and we had some major
changes in infrastructure to take care of, that caused some delays.

>> Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the
>> research community, but I know very little about the technical issues
>> involved and/or whether this has been proposed before. Please comment,
>> and I can pass on replies and put the researcher in touch with the
>> tech team if it seems like a good idea.

If it makes sense to run a separate cluster largely depends on what kind of data
you need access too, and in what time frame. If you workj mustly on secondaty
data like link tables, and you need the data in near-real time, use
toolserver.org. That's what it's there for, and it's unlikely you can set up
anything that could get the same data with low latency.

However, if you work mostly on full text, toolserver.org is not so useful anyway
- there's no direct access to full page text there anyway, not to search
indexes. Having a dedicated cluster for research on textual content, perhaps
providing content in various pre-processed forms, would be a very good idea.
This is what the project I mentioned above aims at, and I'll be happy to support
this effort officially, as Wikimedia Germany's tech guy.


-- daniel

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

River Tarnell-5
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

phoebe ayers:
> Personally, I think a dedicated toolserver is a great idea for the research
> community, but I know very little about the technical issues involved and/or
> whether this has been proposed before. Please comment, and I can pass on
> replies and put the researcher in touch with the tech team if it seems like a
> good idea.

i don't understand what "research-oriented" toolserver means.  what will the
research-toolserver provide that the current toolserver doesn't provide?

is the only issue the time it takes for accounts to be created?  this is a
WM-DE issue; the more people who complain to WM-DE about this, the more likely
it is to be resolved.  (so far, i've had zero communications from WM-DE about
how the only people able to approve accounts are so busy with other things
nowadays.  on the other hand, i didn't ask them about it either; i suppose they
don't bother monitoring the toolserver most of the time.)

we recently conducted a survey of toolserver users, and account approval (not
creation) was generally felt to be quite slow.  once i produce a report from
the results of that survey, we might be able to get WM-DE to do something about
it.

most of the issues with the current toolserver come down to money.  we don't
have enough money to afford redundant databases, so any failure is a major
problem and creates inconvenience for users.  we don't have enough money for a
paid admin, so it often takes a long time for things to get done.  we don't
have enough money to upgrade hardware when we need it, so things are often slow
until the money is available.  i think the only non-money issue is that the
Wikimedia Foundation won't allow us to add any more admins until they do some
internal reorganisation of their databases, which we've been waiting for for
several months now.  

the more separate toolservers we have, the less efficiently the money is spent.
sure, every chapter and university could have their own toolserver, but i don't
see how that's a better situation than these people contributing to a single
toolserver in order to fix the problems that prevent people from using it.
i've lost count of how often i've heard "the toolserver sucks; let's start our
own".  what i don't understand is why no one says "the toolserver sucks; how
can we make it better?".  (there _has_ been some interest from other chapters
recently about how to improve the toolserver; however, most chapters don't have
a lot of money to spend.  a single additional database servers for the
toolserver would cost at least EUR8'000.)

in the past, we had a lot of problems getting WM-DE to do anything for the
toolserver (it seemed everyone there was busy with something else), but that's
been better recently, so i think we're making some progress.

        - river.
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

River Tarnell-5
In reply to this post by Aryeh Gregor
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Aryeh Gregor:
> Oh.  Why does a single specific person have to handle the approval of
> all toolserver account requests, then?

because accounts have to be approved by WM-DE, and WM-DE has designated this
person to approve accounts on their behalf.

        - river.
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
Thanks for the responses, all.

Daniel and Bilal: the notes about the possible servers at Syracuse and
Concordia are very interesting; it sounds like the researchers
interested in such things should team up.

Daniel: I am not sure what type of data is needed -- this is not my
project (I'm only the messenger!) but I'll pass along your message and
send you private details (and encourage the researcher to reply
himself).

River: Well, you say that part of the issue with the toolserver is
money and time... and this person that I've been talking to is
offering to throw money and time at the problem. So, what can they
constructively do?

All: Like I said, I am unclear on the technical issues involved, but
as for why a separate "research toolserver" might be useful... :
I see a difference in the type of information a researcher might want
to pull (public data, large sets of related page information,
full-text mining, ??) and the types of tools that the current
toolserver mainly supports (editcount tools, catscan, etc). I also see
a difference in how the two groups might be authenticated -- there's a
difference between being a trusted Wikipedian or trusted Wikimedia
developer and being a trusted technically-competent researcher (for
instance, I recognized the affiliation of the person who was trying to
apply, because I've read their research papers; but if you were going
on wikimedia status alone, they don't have any).

-- Phoebe

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

River Tarnell-5
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
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phoebe ayers:
> River: Well, you say that part of the issue with the toolserver is money and
> time... and this person that I've been talking to is offering to throw money
> and time at the problem. So, what can they constructively do?
 
i think this is being discussed privately now...

> I see a difference in the type of information a researcher might want to pull
> (public data, large sets of related page information, full-text mining, ??)
> and the types of tools that the current toolserver mainly supports (editcount
> tools, catscan, etc).

so, what is missing from the current toolserver that prevents researchers from
working with large data sets?

> I also see a difference in how the two groups might be authenticated --
> there's a difference between being a trusted Wikipedian or trusted Wikimedia
> developer and being a trusted technically-competent researcher

i don't see why access to the toolserver would be restricted to Wikipedia
editors.  in fact, i'd be happier giving access to a recognised academic expert
than some random guy on Wikipedia.

        - river.
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Andrea Forte
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
I've been trying to do some work mining the full en dump with revision
history and was involved in getting together the Syracuse grant
proposal. To give you an idea, for me personally, the incentive for a
new resource is a need for a server (perhaps a cluster) to support
full-text queries at a reasonable speed. People at various research
institutions duplicate this effort over and over.

Andrea



On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Thanks for the responses, all.
>
> Daniel and Bilal: the notes about the possible servers at Syracuse and
> Concordia are very interesting; it sounds like the researchers
> interested in such things should team up.
>
> Daniel: I am not sure what type of data is needed -- this is not my
> project (I'm only the messenger!) but I'll pass along your message and
> send you private details (and encourage the researcher to reply
> himself).
>
> River: Well, you say that part of the issue with the toolserver is
> money and time... and this person that I've been talking to is
> offering to throw money and time at the problem. So, what can they
> constructively do?
>
> All: Like I said, I am unclear on the technical issues involved, but
> as for why a separate "research toolserver" might be useful... :
> I see a difference in the type of information a researcher might want
> to pull (public data, large sets of related page information,
> full-text mining, ??) and the types of tools that the current
> toolserver mainly supports (editcount tools, catscan, etc). I also see
> a difference in how the two groups might be authenticated -- there's a
> difference between being a trusted Wikipedian or trusted Wikimedia
> developer and being a trusted technically-competent researcher (for
> instance, I recognized the affiliation of the person who was trying to
> apply, because I've read their research papers; but if you were going
> on wikimedia status alone, they don't have any).
>
> -- Phoebe
>
> --
> * I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
> <at> gmail.com *
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>

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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

River Tarnell-5
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
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Andrea Forte:
> To give you an idea, for me personally, the incentive for a new resource is a
> need for a server (perhaps a cluster) to support full-text queries at a
> reasonable speed.

then why not help us do this on the existing toolserver, so everyone can have
access to it, instead of duplicating it yet again somewhere else?

there are many toolserver users who would like direct access to text, and the
ability to search it.

        - river.
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Re: research-oriented toolserver?

Robert Rohde
In reply to this post by River Tarnell-5
On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM, River Tarnell
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
> Hash: SHA1
>
> phoebe ayers:
>> River: Well, you say that part of the issue with the toolserver is money and
>> time... and this person that I've been talking to is offering to throw money
>> and time at the problem. So, what can they constructively do?
>
> i think this is being discussed privately now...

If other research groups are interested in contributing to this, who
should they be talking to?

<snip>

> i don't see why access to the toolserver would be restricted to Wikipedia
> editors.  in fact, i'd be happier giving access to a recognised academic expert
> than some random guy on Wikipedia.

The converse of this is that some recognized experts would probably
prefer to administer their own server/cluster rather than relying on
some random guy with Wikimedia DE (or wherever) to get things done.

-Robert Rohde

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