OpenSearch and IE 8

For some time, MediaWiki has provided an OpenSearch interface to allow supporting browsers to list your favorite wiki as a search provider right in your browser’s built-in search bar.

Firefox since version 2.0 supports type-ahead search suggestions as well, making it easier to reach the page you’re looking for without typing the whole thing:

Internet Explorer introduced basic OpenSearch support in IE 7, letting you add Wikipedia as a search provider, but still didn’t include the handy type-ahead search suggestions.

IE 8 beta 2 has finally added support for the search suggestions, including an extended format which allows including text extracts and images with the results. We’ve added support for this in the OpenSearchXml extension, now enabled on Wikipedia and all the Wikimedia sites:

You won’t have to change anything on your wiki to support search suggestions on IE 8, but with the extension you’ll get a little extra bling. ;) The description text and image extraction is still a little experimental, but does a pretty good job, and we plan to bring these capabilities into the core software where they can be used in other search and site map interfaces.

query.php is dead, long live api.php!

As promised, I’ve disabled the old BotQuery interface, ancestor to MediaWiki’s current machine-readable query API.

It served many for a couple of fine years, but just wasn’t being actively maintained any more, leading to bitrot and general difficulties patching things when security issues came up.

Any remaining users of the old interface should be updated to use the current API, which is pretty similar for most cases and shouldn’t be very hard.

In happier news, I’ve enabled the write features for the API generally (they’ve been on on for a while) so let’s see how they roll. :D

Watchlist, contribs lag

We had some lag on English Wikipedia’s [[Wikipedia:Special:Contributions|Special:Contributions]] and [[Wikipedia:Special:Watchlist|Special:Watchlist]] for a few hours today; the new database server handling that crashed for a bit and, though it came back up, its replication configuration was slightly corrupted. Domas was able to quickly fix that once we were alerted, and it should be caught up soon (currently running less than an hour behind).

Currently our replication lag detection only seems to work properly when replication is running — looks like we need some work on cases where replication is off entirely!

[Your code here]

It’s tech hiring season again at Wikimedia!

We’re looking for at least some people to be here at our San Francisco office, but remote development and system administration is also available (especially making sure we’ve got stronger timezone coverage for our sysadmins).

So all you out there who’ve been toiling in secret on your wikis and websites o’ doom, but always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to work for Wikipedia — send yourself in to jobs at

But please, don’t let this be you:

When you’re applying for a job — any job — remember that your cover letter is a thousand times more important than your CV. We’ve got a stack of papers with the same keywords and degrees listed out… We need to know why you are interesting!

Be interested in the company you’re applying to and whatever it is they do.

We’re a heck of a lot more likely to hire someone who tells us that we’re cool — not only do we like being complimented (hey, we’re only human!) but we know that your interest in what we do will translate into your doing a more awesome job for us.

Don’t just tell us you’re looking for a software development job — so is everybody else! Tell us how you’re totally psyched to work at Wikimedia, ’cause you’ve been using Wikipedia for years, or you maintained a wiki at your old job, or you wrote a wiki package in LISP for fun.

What’s going to grab a potential employer isn’t a list of buzzwords, but some personality and a connection to the work. We want to see that you’re going to like working here and we’re going to like working with you.

A couple easy ones for you

Any volunteers want to spend a few minutes patching? :)