> Does it allow us to (a) know when a wiki has upgraded / changed
> something (mediawiki, php, db, os, etc.)?

The pingback is sent on the first page load after maintenance/update.php is
run if a pingback has not yet been sent for the current MediaWiki version.
So, the pingback will only be sent once per MediaWiki version, even if
other values, such as the PHP version, have changed.

> (b) know when a wiki has been decommissioned, i.e. does the wiki install
> send pingbacks regularly that lets us track a wiki as being alive vs.
being
> decommissioned?

A pingback is not sent when a wiki is decommissioned, and there is no
regular heartbeat pingback to let us know if a given wiki is still being
used.

Both of these facts do definitely limit the fidelity of the data. There
will always be some underreporting of the data, since the choice not to
enable pingback will remain. But it would be good to ensure that the data
is as accurate as possible for those sites that do opt in while still
preserving anonymity.

I would be interested in gathering feedback on how to improve the fidelity
of pingback data. Should we increase the frequency of pingbacks to be able
to determine if a wiki is no longer active? Is there any other interesting
data that can and should be gathered without impinging upon the privacy of
the sites?

Another tool used to gather data is wikiapiary [0], which is an opt-in site
that uses bots to regularly scan registered wikis. It is limited by the
fact that it only operates on wikis that have been registered, but it can
determine if a site is no longer active. It also gathers a good deal more
data than pingback, including installed extensions and their versions.
Wikiapiary currently tracks over 20,000 sites.

One additional note on the default for the pingback functionality. As
described in [1], pingback is controlled by the value of the configuration
variable $wgPingback. The default value of $wgPingback in MediaWiki core is
set in includes/DefaultSettings.php to false: pingback is disabled. In
order to enable pingback, that value needs to be overridden in the
MediaWiki configuration to set it to true - usually in LocalSettings.php.
The command line installer does not currently offer an option to enable
pingback. LocalSettings.php would have to be manually edited to do so. The
web installer does provide a checkbox to select whether or not pingback
will be enabled. This checkbox is initially checked and would need to be
unchecked to prevent pingback from being enabled.

[0] https://wikiapiary.com
[1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:$wgPingback

Cindy

______________________________
Cindy Cicalese
Product Manager, MediaWiki Platform
Wikimedia Foundation

On Sat, Mar 10, 2018 at 12:24 PM, Subramanya Sastry <ssas...@wikimedia.org>
wrote:

> This is pretty nifty! Thanks for putting together this dashboard for the
> data.
>
> I had a question about the pingback mechanism itself. Does it allow us to
> (a) know when a wiki has upgraded / changed something (mediawiki, php, db,
> os, etc.)? (b) know when a wiki has been decommissioned, i.e. does the wiki
> install send pingbacks regularly that lets us track a wiki as being alive
> vs. being decommissioned?
>
> I couldn't tell with a quick scan of https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki
> /Manual:$wgPingback or Ori's original announcement, hence the question.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Subbu.
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