The Sloan and Ford Foundations have made a request for proposals with
the goal of funding a set of research projects to further our
understanding of economics, maintenance, and sustainability of digital
infrastructures (especially as they rely heavily on volunteer
You can find more details about it at
The RFP is pasted at the end of this email as well.
Jun 13 at 8:59pm In your local timezone (GMT -7)
Jun 13 at 8:59pm In your local timezone (GMT -7)
6/13 - Concepts Notes Due
7/13 - Full Proposals Invited
9/4 - Final Proposals Due
10/1 - Final Decisions
Everything in our modern society, from hospitals to banks to social
media platforms, runs on software. Nearly all of this software is
built on “digital infrastructure,” a foundation of free and public
code that is designed to solve common challenges. The benefits of
digital infrastructure are numerous: it can reduce the cost of setting
up new businesses, support data-driven discovery across research
disciplines, enable complex technologies such as smartphones to talk
to each other, and allow everyone to have access to important
innovations like encryption that would otherwise be too expensive.
Sharing code to address common challenges is in principle cheaper,
easier and more efficient. It should also be noted that our digital
infrastructure is a distinct part of, and inextricably tied to, a
larger ecosystem of open source software development.
While the collective action problems that characterize infrastructure
funding are well-explored, the economics of digital infrastructure are
less well-understood. In 2016, the Ford Foundation funded a report by
Nadia Eghbal titled “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our
Digital Infrastructure” that described how the development and
maintenance of digital infrastructure often falls to communities of
volunteers who take it upon themselves to maintain this infrastructure
in their own free time and for little or no money. Unsurprisingly,
this leads to significant risks to the open internet and the ability
to develop new, innovative research and businesses within it.
The Sloan and Ford Foundations would like to fund a set of research
projects to further study these dynamics, with an eye toward better
understanding the economics, maintenance and sustainability of digital
infrastructure. Among the questions that could be addressed by such
What makes an open source project “critical digital infrastructure”?
How should we measure and prioritize support for digital
infrastructure projects? How do organizations know what digital
infrastructure they rely on and how do they assess the sustainability
risks in these projects?
What is the role that private companies should play in maintaining a
stable ecosystem of open source technology? What are the tradeoffs
involved between private sector, government, and/or volunteer
maintenance of digital infrastructure? What parallels are there to the
maintenance and support of other public goods, and what can we learn
from those parallels?
How could we better sustain the open source community? What is the
relationship between money and sustainability for digital
infrastructure projects? In which situations does money help or hurt?
What defines a maintainer of a digital infrastructure project? What
incentives do they have to maintain a project and how are more
contributions incentivized? Are certain skills or expertise expertise
missing or weak in the open source community, such as management
experience, and how might they be strengthened?
What are barriers to diversity and inclusion in the public interest
infrastructure space? What are the barriers to entry to this community
and how might we break them down? And how does open source software
contribute to or counter efforts to build a more equitable society?
What are the critical security weak points in our digital
infrastructure? How do we mitigate those weak points?
These questions are intended as prompts and ideas - concept notes do
not need to answer these questions specifically and respondents are
welcome to pose their own questions. We also open to broader
interpretations of "digital infrastructure" and are happy to field
questions about whether work is in scope prior to submitting a concept
We seek to support proposals addressing a range of issues and a range
of different scopes. As part of your concept we will ask you to
provide a rough sense of the size of your project according to three
cost tiers. Please note that the cost tier does not indicate a length
of time: proposals may cover any time range, regardless of cost. We
expect most projects will fall into a 6 to 24 month time range, but
this is not a hard requirement.
Small: Under $50k
Medium: $50k - $125k
Large: over $125k
Full Proposals & Decisions
Concept notes will be accepted until 11:59pm on June 13th, though we
encourage early submissions. A panel of advisors will review
submissions and provide their input to Ford Foundation and Sloan
Foundation. Full proposals will be invited by July 13th. Final
determinations on proposal invitations will be made by Ford Foundation
and Sloan Foundation. Final proposals will be due by September 14th
and final funding decisions will be made by October 1st.
Who is eligible?
Individuals, Organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) and Academic
Institutions are eligible.
If accepted, when would my grant start?
The grant start date would be sometime between October 1st and
December 31st, 2018.
If accepted, will my grant come from Sloan or Ford?
It depends - it may come from either, or both. We will work with
finalists to determine the best mechanism for each research grant.
Are there restrictions on publication of research?
We expect all output to be made available to the public under an
acceptable creative commons license (or similar). If this presents any
challenges, we can discuss details if your project is invited to
submit a full proposal.
When you say digital infrastructure, do you also mean [insert term here]?
We encourage a broad definition of digital infrastructure and
recognize that this work goes by many terms: open source, open
standards, critical infrastructure, and so on.
The next Research Showcase will be live-streamed this Tuesday, May 8,
2018 at 11:30 AM (PDT), 18:30 (UTC). (Please note this meeting is on
Tuesday this month).
YouTube stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7cHxlGgEt4
As usual, you can join the conversation on IRC at #wikimedia-research. And,
you can watch our past research showcases here.
Case studies in the appropriation of ORESBy *Aaron Halfaker*ORES is an
open, transparent, and auditable machine prediction platform for
Wikipedians to help them do their work. It's currently used in 33 different
Wikimedia projects to measure the quality of content, detect vandalism,
recommend changes to articles, and to identify good faith newcomers. The
primary way that Wikipedians use ORES' predictions is through the tools
and web-based tools make up a complex ecosystem of Wikipedian processes --
encoded into software. In this presentation, Aaron will walk through a
three key tools that Wikipedians have developed that make use of ORES, and
he'll discuss how these novel process support technologies and the
discussions around them have prompted Wikipedians to reflect on their work
Exploring Wikimedia Donation PatternsBy *Gary Hsieh*Every year, Wikimedia
Foundation relies on fundraising campaigns to help maintain the services it
provides to millions of people worldwide. However, despite a large number
of individuals who donate through these campaigns, these donors represent
only a small percentage of Wikimedia users. In this work, we seek to
advance our understanding of donors and their donation behaviors. Our
findings offer insights to improve fundraising campaigns and to limit the
burden of these campaigns on Wikipedia visitors.
Sarah R. Rodlund
Senior Project Coordinator-Product & Technology, Wikimedia Foundation
I would like to share my deepest gratitude for everyone who responded to
the Wikimedia Communities and Contributors Survey. The survey has already
closed for this year. The quality of the results has improved because more
people responded. We heard from over 200 people who work in volunteer
developer spaces like Phabricator, IRC, Mediawiki, mailing lists, and many
others, which is a solid increase from last year.
We are working on analyzing the data already and hope to have something
published on meta in a couple months. Be sure to watch Community Engagement
for when we publish the reports. We will also message those individuals who
signed up on the thank you page or sent us an email to receive updates
about the report. Feel free to reach out to me directly at egalvez[at]
wikimedia.org or at my talk page on meta
Thank you again to everyone for sharing your opinions with us!
Evaluation Strategist, Surveys
Learning & Evaluation
****apologies for cross-posting***Colleagues,We, the DARIAH Community
Engagement Working Group <https://dariahre.hypotheses.org/>, are interested
in investigating the scholarly practices of different research communities
within the Arts and Humanities, and those that might use humanities-based
resources, methods or tools. As part of this investigative research, we are
keen to reach out to as many researchers as possible in the Arts and
Humanities, particularly to those who might not have previously engaged
with the DARIAH research infrastructure. We would therefore be very
grateful if you could fill out our short survey to give us an insight into
your research practices, particularly in relation to (digital) resources,
tools, and research infrastructures. The survey should take no more than 10
mins to complete.Any personal information we collect on this survey will be
held securely, and will not be disclosed to any third parties. The
information you provide in this survey will inform our ongoing work. At the
end of the survey, you will have the option to be included on a mailing
list to find out more about the DARIAH community and how it could help you
in your research.You can access the survey
<https://goo.gl/forms/b0JD249STqP0zVfJ3> Many thanks in advance for your
participation!Eliza, Vicky and XanderCommunity Engagement Working