I have read the numerous comments on the fact that we should be
planning Wikimania well in advance, and I fully agree that choosing
the city for Wikimania 2008 sometime at the end of 2006 or beginning
of 2007 makes perfect sense, and we have started working on it.
Just for the record though, Wikimania 2006 was only the second
edition, and I wish people would remember that when planning 2006, we
did not even know whether it was going to happen at all. So please
keep that in perspective. There is room for improvement, and I believe
Wikimedia has done a good job in trying to keep everyting into
consideration for the next editions.
On the subject of size. I am personally not in favour of an
*international Wikimedia conference* (keywords international and
Wikimedia) that will hold more than 500 people, ever. The reason for
this were clear last year, but even clearer this year, ie. opening the
conference to 1000 people makes it, in my opinion, lose the
"Wikimedia" touch, by bringing many people in who have in the end
nothing to do with Wikimedia. Mind you, I find the interaction with
other organisations and people with different web, collaborative,
knowledge experiences very fruitful and interesting, but this year
showed a trend that I wish we did not facilitate too much. There were
many many local (as in US) people who had but a far fetched interest
in our projects, and thus did not pertain to the "Wikimedia Community"
or had no intention of ever pertaining to it.
My dream is that Wikimedia got their hands on enough money in due time
to provide scholarships to far away contributors wherever they may be
and make sure that the core attendance of the conference is filled
Basically the real question is what do we want Wikimania to be? Is it
the ultimate wiki conference? Is it the Wikimedia conference? Is it a
free knowledge or access to knowledge conference? Is it an open source
conference? Is it all of that? Some of that?
In my opinion, and in an ideal world, Wikimania would probably almost
be booked solid before registration even happens, because we have
managed to bring in all the people that count in the Wikimedia
I would hate to see Wikimania be taken away from the Wikimedians. I
would hate for it to be so big that you would not have a clue who this
or that person is, or worse, that some people would come to Wikimania
and ask "what is Wikipedia?".
I believe we have shown the world that we can put together interesting
programs and that we should use this opportunity to make sure we
provide different events, aiming at different publics. I would love to
see a Wikimedia Academic Conference, or a Wikimedia Wiki Practices
Conference. I would also love to see more regional Wikimedia
conferences, such as the Chinese and Dutch edition this year who would
bring together people who did not make it to the international
conference or who need to concentrate in a language or on specific
In short, I do not think that Wikimania would benefit from becoming a
huge thing that everyone would attend because they happened to be in
Certain recent threads have become very deep and it's hard to find the
needles among the haystacks, so I thought I'd summarize a couple things
and ask a couple questions.
There is some concern that usernames which are difficult to read due to
using a different script from the rest of the wiki (such as a Japanese
name on an English site, or a Russian name on a Thai site) can be
difficult for administrators, and other wiki contributors, to deal with.
For instance it can be hard to talk about some other user when you can't
recognize their name.
There has been some fighting over this issue because some admins on
en.wikipedia.org have taken to outright blocking of non-Latin usernames
on that site so as not to have to deal with the issue.
There is additional concern that this will become a more frequent issue
in the future, as the introduction of a unified login system will make
it easier for people to use their existing usernames they already
registered on other wikis; thus there is more concern about solving the
issue in the near future.
Several suggestions were made in previous threads on ways to make it
easier to recognize and deal with such 'foreign' usernames. In no
particular order, these include:
* Display a user ID number alongside the name
A possible example history line:
(cur) (last) 10:09, 24 December 2006
Brion VIBBER (#51 | Talk | contribs | block) (word to the wise)
This is relatively simple, and relatively culturally neutral, if not
particularly visually attractive.
The ID number could be either the local account number (this is
displayed in Special:Preferences) or, after unified login (SUL) is
introduced, a global account number which would be the same on all wikis.
An example of a site that behaves this way is slashdot.org, which
displays the user ID number next to the username in post headings.
User IDs are possible to use in a few special-page forms that deal with
accounts in part to work around the occasional 'can't figure out how to
pass this username around to people' issue. It may be logical to extend
One thing to consider is that low or high id numbers may indicate
relative age of an account, which may affect perceived prestige or
trustworthiness. This might be considered a useful heuristic, or
alternatively it might be considered anti-egalitarian to display the
number so widely.
* Display a transliteration of the name into Latin or local script
A possible example history line:
(cur) (last) 10:43, 24 December 2006
ホイップ (Hoippu | Talk | contribs)
Transliteration is tricky at the best of times. While approximations
good enough to 'get an idea what you're looking at' might not be
entirely impossible, there is some concern that they will be perceived
as culturally biased or incorrect.
More generally, transliterations would not be unique, and so don't
necessarily serve as well for passing around in links or typing into forms.
* Use easily-changable 'nicknames' more extensively
Possibly combined with a default transliteration mode, this could allow
people using a common primary username to choose a more 'friendly' nick
to be displayed and used more widely in the user interface than the
current nickname option for talk page signatures.
In some ways the simplest implementation of this might be to provide a
way to link accounts, so the software can visibly verify that they
belong to the same person, which brings us to:
* Multiple linked usernames
This is for instance how IRC works; on Freenode my usernames "brion",
"brion_away", "brion_work" etc are linked together so that I have the
same password, and when I'm logged in as "brion_work" anyone can check
and confirm that I really am "brion", not just some random guy who says
he is the same brion.
The upcoming single user login (SUL) system is designed to provide this
linked-account guarantee for *the same name* on *different wikis*, but
there can be some benefit to also demonstrating a linkage between
One example that would be useful is when someone wants to change their
username just because they didn't like their old one very much. Right
now they either just make a new account, which doesn't demonstrate the
linkage provably, or they have to ask a "bureaucrat" to perform an
administrative account rename for them.
There would I think be some benefit to simply allowing people to create
a new name for their account, and have the system say to anyone who
needs to verify it that "yes this is the same user".
In the context of "foreign" usernames, this would make it easy for
people who are active on some other wiki to choose an additional name to
work under which is more friendly to local readers.
Possible concerns include a general unease with the idea that people
might then be _forced_ to choose another name (for instance if their
regular name gets banned on sight), or annoyance with people who might
register many linked names and switch among them at whim, for instance
to fit a mood. :)
Anyway, that's just a few thoughts based on the possible remedies I've
seen mentioned previously and a couple others I haven't.
Please try to keep the flames off this thread.
Nothing is decided for certain yet, and I hope we can all work together
and have a conversation like reasonable ladies and gentlemen.
-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)
Lots of people are yelling and shouting that the current vision and policy
of the foundation is totally wrong. I would like to invite all these people
and others to think about alternatives. We won't get rid of these ugly
things (everybody agrees upon that, i guess) in the sitenotice without any
serious alternatives. I already asked this in the Dutch Village Pump, I hope
you will bring the question back to all your communities, to the places
where is discussed about the sitenotice. I have myself troubles to come up
with serious alternatives, so I hope you guys have one. And when you have
one, then you can ideed start a discussion about which solution is better. I
look forward to your ideas, and please keep the discussion about how bad the
current solution is for other threads.
Lodewijk / Eia
The quiestest two days for Wikimedia were the 24th and 25th, straddling
week 51 and 52 on the graph. A lull in request rate has continued
throughout the week. We're still seeing significantly more traffic now
than we were in the middle of the year, but I have to wonder if it might
not have been better, in hindsight, to move the fundraising drive back a
couple of weeks.
-- Tim Starling
There is much going on today. The community is split about the actions the
Foundation took. Let me clarify something about Virgin Unite:
Virgin Unite is a charity organisation of one of the largest multi-nationals
in the world. If I can think about one company that will really do everything
to own Wikipedia, it's Virgin. Their €250.000 is nothing compared to that.
Virgin Unite is just a PR-department. Almost every multi-national has these
kind off charity organisations. What if the Gates Foundation will offer these
kind of money? A lot of us will see that it is just a PR-stunt from
Microsoft. That's why Virgin Unite is just pure advertisement for Virgin.
It also creates a precedent to the future. The road to daily advertisement has
been opened by a weak Foundation. Yes we need the money, but there are other
ways. Rather no money than sell the basis principles of Wikipedia/-media to
whoever has the money.
Meanwhile the Foundation has tear apart a lot of local communities. Partly
this could be avoided by informing the communities, at least a few days in
advance. Every community had a local mailinglist, a sysop list and a village
Anyhow; a lot of people are angry. A lot of people are talking about forks. A
lot of people, including a lot off the hardcore contributors, are leaving the
project. Only because of these unintelligent actions from the Foundation,
backed by a lot of misinformed people and people who don't understand or
don't want to understand the rules of free content.
These actions will have very negative consequences and I'm ashamed about that.
Especially on the day the Dutch and Flemish media are reporting about the
quarter of million articles on the Dutch language Wikipedia. This evening the
Dutch Wikipedia will peak with a lot of new visitors and new users. They will
see the advertisement and gone is the neutrality of the project. Thank you
Foundation; for selling us out!
Moderator on the Dutch language Wikipedia since oct 2003
In addition to Jeroens post, I agree with him that a borderline seems to
have been crossed. We never mentioned the name of any other company on the
top of any page. I regret this form of advertisement, but wont cancel my
contribution, like many others. The borderline between sponsorship and
advertisement is razorthin, especially with virgin unite, which is viewed by
some as an advertisement agency for the company.
1) Did the foundation decide themselves to reward virgin unite with this
banner, or was this a (politely worded request) from virgin unite?
2) Have there been any donations by other companies of the same order of
3) If so, wouldnt it be fair if we offer these other companies a banner for
a day, on our own initiative? I also think of yahoo and kennisnet, who are
supporting us heavily with servers and bandwidth.
4) The example of virgin unite will invite other charities and companies to
also barter for a banner - or more. Did the foundation board write up for
themselves any guidelines how far they want to go in the matter of
sponsoring and advertisement (remember that sponsoring is just a form of
5) Could the board please communicate all decisions which are sensitive
among the wikipedians, timely to all relevent mailinglists?
6) Has there ever been an open call to all wikipedians to provide
suggestions to the foundationboard of ways to receive money?
First of all, I want to say that I agree with most everything Erik has
written so far, and can't really add to his eloquent explanations. Nevertheless,
as someone who was involved from the beginning in these discussions, I want to
raise a few points here.
1. The Wikimedia Foundation has grown beyond anyone's wildest expectations
in terms of traffic, hits, articles, and projects. We are a top ten website.
2. We are doing this on a shoestring budget, with minimal staff and minimal
3. We are able to do this because of dedicated volunteers, like everyone
writing on this list.
4. The Foundation, which hosts all these projects does not want to be
gobbled up by some big corporation, like Youtube was, like Myspace was, or like any
other successful website was. We want to maintain our independence.
5. Independence comes at a cost. We have to buy servers, and we have to find
the right people to manage all of the other things involved with running a
6. Considering our growth, the base of volunteers does not scale. All the
good will in the world does not mean that people can take off exams or their
jobs or their families to work 24/7 to keep this thing running.
7. We are already paying a steep cost. While it doesn't appear in the audit,
the fact that we do not have advertising is costing us. This is unrealized
income at a minimum of $60k a day and probably much more. In other words it is
many millions a year. Yet, the Board and the community have chosen to avoid
ads so that we can maintain our independence.
So where do we get the money to keep this thing afloat?
8. Donations from devoted users. We are grateful for each and every
donation, and each and every donation is valuable, whether it is $1 or $100.
9. Unfortunately, however, given our size, this is not enough. Read the
financial statements, follow the projections about growth. Compare our budget to
the budgets of other comparably-sized websites, or even to websites smaller
10. There are people out there who want to help us. Some have selfish
motives, no doubt, and others have purely altruistic motives. Deal with it. Such is
11. When the selfish overwhelms the altruistic, we can say no. The Board has
said no--to some very big potential sponsors.
12. When people do help us on our terms, it is only right that we express
our gratitude to them. We thank them. The site notice is a means of thanking
13. From this perspective, this whole debate is about what is "too much
gratitude." That is, in my opinion, unfortunate.
A final statement--
14. To the editors and other contributors--Wikipedia and all the other
projects do NOT exist so that a bunch of bored people have some place to play in
their leisure time. They exist to spread free knowledge and free culture. Our
target audience is not the editor per se, but the user-without-a-user-name who
comes to rely on our projects for information, whether its a student, a
traveller, or someone with an obscure interest and a passion for learning. As
editors and contributors we are serving them, and not being served. That is why
we keep all the sites going, no matter how costly it is. And let's be
grateful to the groups and organizations that help us meet these costs.
Tomorrow the Virgin Unite will not longer be present as a sitenotice. Today
jeroen and others complained about that sitenotice. In his words the
community would have been split. The current fundraiser raises today an
additional several 100k US dollar, so that is gain one. Concerning the Dutch
Wikipedia, today over 250 persons registered a username. So the Dutch
Wikipedia today gains that many new users and maybe loose temporarily (I
doubt definitely) one or two well known users.
Somebody else mentioned the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's in the
press they would like to raise the level of primary and secondary education
in the US. Wikiversity and or Wikibooks might be helpful in raising the
level of education there and elsewhere. Suppose the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation would like to grant some money to WMF on the condition that it
would be for specific projects, e.g. Wikibooks or Wikiversity, would that
raise any objections by anyone?
In short, I believe Brad Patrick and his team are doing a perfect job to
keep the WMF and the websites up and running.