Wikitravel:Technical infrastructure policy
This article describes the goals and processes of Wikitravel's technology infrastructure development and maintenance, including software development, graphic design, and system administration.
The technology infrastucture for Wikitravel includes the Web and database servers that run wikitravel.org; the databases that hold Wikitravel content; Wikitravel software, including MediaWiki; and graphic design and page layout.
The technology infrastructure should support Wikitravel's goals; to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable worldwide travel guide. The strategy for getting to this goal, implicit in our use of wiki, is to get contributions from a large number of Internet users and organize them into a useful whole. Some targets that come out of this strategy:
- Increase the number of people who read Wikitravel articles
- Increase the number of readers who "convert" to editors
- Retain contributors
- Make contributors more productive
- Provide maintenance and monitoring tools to retain the high quality of guides
These goals are best met by a Wiki Web application that is pleasant to read and to navigate; delivers important information in an intuitive way; is easy to use for new and experienced contributors; has good tools for maintenance and monitoring; and runs quickly and reliably. Our hardware, software and design should support this application.
There are other goals for the technology infrastructure. Internet Brands, Inc., the company that hosts and supports the Wikitravel site, has business goals. The programmers, sysadmins and designers want to learn new technologies, practice techniques, and do cool and interesting work. None of the goals can be met if the principal goal – meeting the needs of readers and contributors -- is not met. In other words, we're all in this together.
 Platform upgrades
Typically hardware issues aren't visible to Wikitravel readers and contributors except in that they make the site run faster (or slower!). Hardware decisions will be made by Internet Brands system administrators without community discussion. Platform upgrade decisions (Unix, Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc.) will also typically be made by sysadmins at IB. We'll try to give 2-3 days notice at Wikitravel Shared:Travellers' pub for any upgrades that will require downtime on the Web site or any locking of the database. Smooth operations of Wikitravel software will be a priority.
Wikitravellers seem to be pretty happy with MediaWiki and we intend to keep using it for the foreseeable future. We'll try to keep up-to-date with new MediaWiki versions. New versions will be rolled out on Wikitravel soon after they're released. Typically there will be a delay as the new software is tested for compatibility with local customizations.
Upstream MediaWiki developers may add new features, remove existing features, change default values, or make formerly optional features mandatory. We'll try to maintain continuity for Wikitravel users where possible, and customize the code if some upstream features are really unusable for Wikitravellers.
We'll try to give 2-3 days notice at Wikitravel Shared:Travellers' pub for any upgrades that will require downtime on the Web site or any locking of the database.
Where it makes sense, we'll contribute software changes to the upstream MediaWiki software.
Bugs and feature requests for upstream MediaWiki can be found at http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/ .
 Local customizations
Ideas for work that's going to be done for Wikitravel comes from several sources:
- Bug reports
- Feature requests
- Other on-site discussions (talk pages, travellers' pub)
- Product planning at Internet Brands
- Upstream MediaWiki changes and other MediaWiki software
- External factors like service outages, vandalism attacks, etc.
Ideas for new projects from the first 4 sources will be catalogued under the shared:Technical requests page, and will be open for discussion. Although there are equivalent pages on en: and other language versions, we expect go-betweens and other concerned Wikitravellers to copy requests and bugs from the other language versions to shared:.
Ideas, comments, suggestions from Wikitravellers before or after implementation of projects is encouraged; it's the best way for Wikitravellers to get the software they need to make Wikitravel great. Typically, prioritized bug fixes and feature requests will be implemented unless there's overwhelming opposition to the idea. It's best to find a solution that works for everyone.
Some bug fixes will be tested off-line and committed directly to the live servers. This will typically be for making existing systems work as advertised. Some features will be tested off-line and committed directly to the live servers; these will typically be for new tools (like docents, breadcrumb menus, or related pages) that the community can choose to use or not.
When a feature or bug fix impacts the usability of the site, we'll put up a version of the new interface for community review at http://wikitravel.org/review/ . Typically this will be a read-only copy of the English Wikitravel site, unless experimenting with the changes requires editing and/or another language version of Wikitravel.
Most technical changes will be documented on the Bug Report or Feature Request pages. Some high-profile changes will be documented in the Wikitravel logbook.
Emergencies -- service outages, hardware failures, spam- or vandal-bot attacks -- will be dealt with ASAP. Please contact Internet Brands at Wikitravel Shared:Internet_Brands.