On 11th March : The Report

Wikipedia at Avenir took place on 11th of March at Netaji Subhash Engineering College, Kolkata.

The event was basically a 4 hours Wikipedia Event – 1 hour of an Edit-a-thon with Kolkata based Wikipedians, followed by 3 hours of MediaWiki coding session on Wikipedia Gadgets and UserSrcipts. 
We had a  form that people filled up with a few simple questions — and picked out 21 from the 40 that signed up. But I met up with most of the people that had registered a couple of times before, informally. We discussed about JavaScript, Wikipedia, Wikimedia, MediaWiki, Free Software and OpenSource, as I personally like people to know why the would like to contribute to FOSS. And the fact that they would actually be contributing, its not always just about knowing a technology and doing a project. Yuvi and I met up with 15 of the people who had registered, two days before the actual event for an informal discussion – We talked about, why at all, we would have this event. This was quite useful. 

Event started with Indranil Das Gupta – giving a brief introduction of the whole idea of the event, and beyond. We were ready for the edit-a-thon already. Rangan Datta, along with Jayanta Nath conducted a nice session of editing. We created the Article ‘Laskar Memorial, Kolkata,’ together on English Wikipedia! This was important – not only because we need more Wikipedia Editors, but also we need developers for Wikipedia, who would understand the problem users face. So, I feel, an experience of editing is also much needed for a developer who is going to code for Wikipedia.
Editing Infobox on the page we were creating – Laskar Memorial, Kolkata”

 Yuvi, Harsh and I got started with MediaWiki coding session, after a break of 15 minutes. It was a plan, (after the last day’s meetup) that Yuvi would start with the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript , as people were not much familiar with it. Almost two hours were spent on making them learn the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, with people being quizzed on CSS Selectors (and doing very well!). We then started off explaining how to customize the look and feel of Wikipedia with stylesheets, and how to share your customizations with other people. We then spent some time drilling on Javascript basics, and how to learn more about javascript – pointing out the wonderful (and free) Eloquent Javascript interactive textbook. Some people expressed interest in having a deeper dive into Javascript / CSS, and we planned to meet again the next day for a more intense tutorial.

We, the people

The next day, about 8 of us met in the labs again at 11:00 AM and had an intense Javascript session lasting until 06:00 PM. People learnt Javascript basics, practiced using jsfiddle.net and then made small customizations to their wiki experience by writing scripts. A fair number of the students had gone from not knowing any HTML at all to being able to write Javascript in the space of two days, which I think is a pretty good achievement!

Everyone subscribed to the mediawiki-india mailing list before leaving, to make it easier to get in touch / get help with Javascript / CSS.

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