Announcing Levitation: Wikipedia into Git

Update: Check out the Levitation Wiki.

The last three days I have worked like crazy on a new project, and I’m happy to release its first usable version to the public now. The software is called Levitation and its purpose is to convert a MediaWiki database XML dump into a Git repository — including the complete history.

Why would I want to do that? Because of two reasons. First, Git simply rocks, and I wanted to see whether it can be done.

Second, and more important: There is currently a nerd uprising against the German Wikipedia and the exclusionist attitude that’s prevalent there. Quite a lot of people are talking about the possibility of forking. People like me. People from the CCC. That is, people who actually have the knowledge and resources to do it.

Since maintaining a fork using the current MediaWiki software is pretty hard to do, this is an experiment whether a distributed approach would be better. A system like Git makes it trivial to merge changes made in other forks into your own one (and vice versa). For example, it would be no problem for a single person to maintain a fork of the whole Wikipedia and keep it up-to-date, while having additional articles that would probably get deleted in the “upstream” Wikipedia.

If this system succeeds, we might be seeing not one, but 5 to 20 different “flavors” of Wikipedia soon, each with its own focus. Not every flavor will be useful to more than a handful of people, but the best ones will succeed. And if one starts to misbehave, the others can easily take its place.

Who knows, maybe there will even be some kind of WikiHub where people can maintain their own modifiactions to the mainstream Wikipedia, without requiring the massive amounts of servers the current, centralistic Wikipedia has.

Erstellt: 6. 11. 2009, 15:10:19 (CET)
Geändert: 29. 11. 2009, 14:51:40 (CET)
Tags: English software FLOSS Levitation Wikipedia MediaWiki Git convert