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A community test event: mojibake and meaning

UPDATE 28 January the official announcement on the WMF blog.

The Wikimedia Foundation is developing new editing software for Wikipedia.  For the first time in history we intend to have a native rich text WYSIWYG editor for the Mediawiki engine that does not require users to know wiki markup syntax in order to create and edit articles on Wikipedia. 

Right now the Foundation needs help testing this editor, and we invite you to participate.

We have a suite of automated tests for the editor that is capable of checking the contents of existing articles, loading them into VisualEditor, saving the article, and checking that no information has been lost in the round-trip saving operation.  We are confident that the editor is robust enough to load and save any given content on the English Wikipedia. 

What is not clear is whether VisualEditor is robust enough to preserve information after that information has been altered:  additions, changes, deletions, other manipulations of the content of Wikipedia pages may or may not cause unintentional alterations to the contents of pages upon saving.  We just don't know. 

Of particular interest is manipulation involving non-Latin characters.  Various language scripts and other aspects of the greater Unicode character set should be handled correctly by the VisualEditor, and we want to find out if that is true. 

This sort of testing of course is best done by real human beings.  Ultimately this is a test not only that VisualEditor preserves altered text correctly, but that VisualEditor preserves *meaning* correctly.

This testing should be of interest not only to those who will eventually want to edit Wikipedia in their native language, but also to those interested in accessibility, internationalization and localization, maintainability and scalability as well. 

For the week starting 28 January 2013, the Foundation is providing extraordinary support for people testing non-Latin character handling in VisualEditor.  We will be available on IRC, on mail lists, on social media, etc. fielding questions and facilitating discussion of the behavior of VisualEditor handling of non-Latin characters.  It would be a fine thing if you could help us test VisualEditor.

We have created a test plan for the VisualEditor test event.

We plan to have more community test events in the future every month for Wikimedia Foundation development projects.  Coming up are sessions for "Echo", our new notification system for editors of Wikipedia, improvements to our Article Feedback system for critiquing Wikipedia articles, and more.  If you are interested in doing exploratory testing for Wikipedia, we encourage you to join our new Features Testing Group, the central repository for information about these ongoing testing exercises.