As long as people communicate in a language it is a living language. When
people stop using a language, it dies. This has little to do with the number
of people involved; a language spoken by 7000 people in Papua New Guinea may
be as vibrant as ever when there is little communication with an outside
world. What makes a dying language is something you only realise when you
compare census figures. When a language that is not doing well, when it
finds new champions, the language may undergo a revival. To me this is
completely legitimate as it proves that the language is not dead; there are
people that care to communicate in their language.
In the Wikimedia Foundation we are careful when introducing new languages.
There are good reasons for it. We want a project to be a success and we
insist on a good user experience so a localised user interface is a must. We
attempt to check if the language is indeed the language that is advertised.
We are looking for a small group of people that is big enough to make it
likely that we will have a community. There are several hoops to jump
through before a new language gets its own project.
What is problematic is when people look at these "other" languages and imply
that having these other languages as well is ok as long as they do not
interfere with what they consider "primary" languages. This means that these
languages should politely stay in the background and not need investments
because they prevent what is considered "primary". The problem is very much
in how this attitude is perceived. It may be that good faith should be
assumed, but given how barbed the exchanges can be and given how much the
perspectives differ it is hard if not impossible to reconcile differences
with those that are of the opinion that we should ensure that we provide the
infrastructure for all languagea that can qualify as a WMF language.
It is said that we are not in the business of supporting languages. The fact
of the matter is that we support every language that qualifies for a
Wikipedia. Effectively we support the languages the most that are read the
most. So we do a sublime job on our biggest projects. It is assumed that the
smaller projects should develop like the big projects did. The situation is
often not comparable. It is assumed that all languages are equal and are
able to make use of our MediaWiki software. Sadly this is not the case.
Sadly it takes effort and investments to get necessary glyphs in Unicode.
Sadly it means that assumptions about languages, true for the "primary"
languages, are not true for all languages. Sadly it means that business is
not as usual and as this upsets the status quo people get upset.
The Wikimedia Foundation aims to provide information to all people. The last
two years at Wikimania we have been told that we are really going to make an
effort in Africa. We have been told that our organisation is getting
organised and is at the threshold where we can request for the funding of
projects and manage these projects as well. With this promise to support
these other people and their other languages with the promise that we will
be able to work on projects and aim for some longer term goals we can reach
out to these other people and give them the opportunity and the channel to
share their knowledge with us. In this way they may become one with us.
We have to adapt and allow for change. We have to adapt and change what
prevents others to share their knowledge with us. We cannot change
everything but there is so much that we can do. Within the Wikimedia
Foundation we are a multitude. We do not all share the same ideals. That is
fine. What I ask for is that those that care for the less resourced
languages are "allowed" to actively do what is needed to support more people
to share their knowledge by enabling them to be heard, to be read.
Just FYI - as of a short while ago, we broke $100,000 in donations and
I remember, on previous donation drives, someone saying the average
was about $25/head; that's holding up fairly well now, at $25.30 or
- Andrew Gray
Playing the forwarder once again (yes, all these addresses are
subsequently added to the auto-approved sender list, but this list
still seems to have gaps in it...)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sandra Ordonez <sordonez(a)wikimedia.org>
To: Brion Vibber <brion(a)wikimedia.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 11:50:34 -0400
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Reuse of video
Have them contact me directly. They can use it, it would be great if
they contacted us first, etc.. You can also view the fundraiser press
>>> but the key thing for a TV
>>> station is can we let them reuse Jimmy's fundraising video? If we can get
>>> that on TV - even if only in Texas - then we'll do a lot better.
>> I can't see any reason not to allow it to be redistributed...
> It's more or less meant as a press release, but please check with Sandy.
> Sandy, can you clarify please?
> -- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike Godwin <mnemonic(a)gmail.com>
Date: Oct 24, 2007 8:34 PM
Subject: Fwd: More on tax deductibility
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mike Godwin <mnemonic(a)gmail.com>
Date: October 24, 2007 2:32:45 PM EDT
Subject: More on tax deductibility
From: "Sebastian Moleski" <sebmol(a)gmail.com>
On 10/24/07, Michael Bimmler <mbimmler(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Rather, what we should stress more is that tax deductibility allows
individuals to make larger contributions than they ordinarily could or
There's a good reason for us not to stress tax deductibility for
donors in nations whose laws don't provide for it (or at least not if
the donations are made to a U.S.-based charity). We would be telling
those donors they're going to get a benefit that they may not get. I
think there's a good ethical argument against doing so.
Also, there's a logical fallacy here by stating that since only one third of
Americans/donors itemize we don't need to emphasize the deductibility.
That is not, however, the argument I make. The argument is that we
shouldn't emphasize deductibility for donors who won't or who may not
One problem, for example, under German law one
cannot deduct charitable contributions to foreign charities. That quite
practically means that Germans who give directly to the foundation cannot
deduct these donations on their tax return so the incentive mentioned above
doesn't exist. I would be surprised if there are not similar issues in other
countries, which we should be aware of.
This is in fact the argument I was making.
Whatever fallacies may lie in telling the truth in order to avoid
misleading potential donors, I don't believe any of them is a "logical
I would disagree on the demographics of American donors. The one single
thing that triggers itemized deductions more than anything else is home
mortgage interest. Given that we have a large proportion of students
involved in Wikipedia, and they have not usually gotten to the point of
buying a home, it would be reasonable to suggest that they are worse off
than the statistically average American.
That's a perfectly reasonable assumption. (I could make an argument
for the converse assumption.) But the point, of course, was that we
have no data at all about the demographics of donors.
Good statistical method (I was a student of statistics in my youth)
suggests that when you have no data at all you do best by beginning
with the Null Hypothesis.
A year ago, the board chose me to be the chair of the Wikimedia
Foundation. Soon after, I sent an email
where I tried to outline what I intended to focus on as a chair. This
year, the board agreed to reappoint me as their chair for the coming
year, I would like to thank them for the opportunity. The past months
were hard time, I hope we'll get more peace in the coming months.
Looking back, what I considered being last year priorities are largely
fixed now, or on the way of being fixed. New priorities are however
showing up :-)
Staff: With Sue's arrival and several people hired during the year, the
situation is currently largely under control and in a much more
satisfactory situation than it was last year (thank god !).
The next steps are the relocation (timeline: next three months) and
hiring more staff (http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings).
Some of the challenges of the coming year will be to make sure the
professionalization of the WMF does not mean the editors are less
involved. This will in particular require to welcome and gently, warmly,
educate our future staff members, so that they understand what our
projects are about. For example, this year, we were very lucky with
Sandy, who successfully worked with volunteers on communication issues
and relentlessly learned about what we care about. It will probably also
mean working on our values.
Another priority will be to build up a review procedure, to evaluate
Sue's performance, based on job description, including relationships
with the board, staff and community; project planning and
implementation; and of course management of the organization and staff.
Procedures to review of head of staff performance are important for the
long-term sustainability of any organization.
Board: I am pretty satisfied of the work accomplished this year :-)
The board partly changed with the arrival of new members (Kat and Oscar
in november; Jan-Bart in december; Frieda in june). The board was
expanded from 5 to 7 board members. We clarified the mission of our
organization. We adopted new bylaws. We completed the first 3 years
annual audit. We are now having regular, well organized meetings, proper
reporting systems. We hired Sue. We approved a budget, several policies
and guidelines. Etc...
However, we are lacking a treasurer, and our financial control over the
organization was insufficient during the past year. We improved the
situation in the past few months, but now need to push forward the
issue. So, finding a new treasurer, formulating/approving financial
policies and generally improving financial controls will be one of the
top priorities on my agenda (timeline: next 3-6 months);
I'd like as well to work more with the board to assess board performance.
Advisory board: In the past year, we populated the advisory board, held
a advisory board meeting in Taipei, and got several of these members
involved in various issues (ED search, fundraising, Wikimania 2008,
relocation, hiring etc...). Overall, I am rather satisfied of our job
with the advboard in the past year. Naturally, we can do much much
better, and I hope we'll do more in the coming year, but to be fair, we
have a lot on the table and I do not have a specific agenda for now on
Chapters: tough point. During the year, we approved guidelines for
chapter creation and recognition, as well as for limited use of our
brands. The past year was however the object of many frustrations, with
many delays for agreements to be approved. Still, there is a lot to
define in terms of relationships between WMF and wikimedia chapters, and
I intend to make that a priority of the coming months.
Of course, there is a lot more to do, such as to work to develop and
start implementing a long-term plan. I expect this will happen little by
little, as the organization builds up. But I nevertheless wanted to
point out to a few of my priorities.
A few days ago, I gave a talk at the Elearning conference of Lisbon.
After my talk, someone came to me and told me I just got it all wrong,
and the only thing I should have explained to the audience was that
Wikipedia was the tool which would bring peace on Earth.
Indeed, that point was discussed the previous day at dinner, and it was
argued that beyond knowledge, Wikipedia was a fabulous tool to get
people to realize that we are all different, but that differences are
precious. A tool helping all of us to learn basic skills such as
listening to others, tolerance, consensus-seeking, negotiation,
mediation, and even conflict resolution. We also learn that we might
scream at each other one day, but still work together the next day
because we believe in the same goal.
At the same time, I felt I could not say publicly that Wikipedia was one
of the tools to bring peace on Earth because I also know working on our
projects (not only Wikipedia) is somehow becoming increasingly
difficult. We are more numerous, more protective to our
featured-content, less welcoming to our newbies (for technical or social
How many experts have been driven away by the agressivity of some of our
members ? How many new editors just were discouraged by the difficulty
of editing a table or a template ? How many newbies were blocked because
they just did not understood quickly enough how to use a talk page ?
Also, during the year, several cases of online or offline harassment of
contributors were reported. Harassement which came as a result of their
contributions to our projects.
For all what is worth, I would like to offer my moral support to
newbies, contributors and administrators who experienced harassment, or
simply lack of respect for the work they provided, or poor welcoming
experiences. And I would like to urge all contributors and
administrators individually, and projects generally, to condemn or at
least not facilitate harassment, to adopt a warm and friendly attitude
toward other participants, to think of and implement social and
technical changes which would give users a more pleasant experience.
And when anger flares (which happens to nearly all of us), to remember
that apologies can do wonders.
We all want the same in the end.
For foundation-l: forwarding from the Italian mailing list
Edoardo Marascalchi ha scritto:
> Da donation.wikimedia.org non mi funziona il pagamento con paypal.
> mi rimanda ad una pagina di errore (oltre al fatto chenon si capisce
> come loggarsi pernon apparire anonimi)..
Translation: "The link to PayPal from donate.wikimedia.org is not
working, it redirects to an error page. Furthermore, it's not clear how
to log on in order not to be listed as anonymous donors)"
I tested it myself and it gives the same error message.
The donation reporting bot in #wikimedia-donations reported a rather
disturbing donation a few minutes ago: [00:42] <Donations> jason birring
LEGALIZE MARIJUANA ($0) . Perhaps we should set a minimum donation?
In writing the Foundation's resolution on licensing policy and enwiki's
non-free content criteria (i.e. it's "exemption doctrine policy"), there
appears to be a little problem. Both were designed around handling images,
but written in a way that could be (mis?)understood as also applying to
non-free text (i.e. quotes).
We are assuming that it was not the Foundation's intention to require that
all quotes be labeled in a "machine-readable format so that it can be easily
identified by users of the site as well as re-users", or to generically
stomp out the practice of quoting others whenever possible.
For the moment, I am just looking to confirm our assumption that the
Foundation isn't planning to persecute the simple act of quoting others. At
some point, it might be nice to also clarify the licensing policy language.
In the mean time, enwiki needs to work on resolving the ambiguities in our
non-free content policies. (Since, for example, we don't want prohibit
people from using quotes in discussions appearing on talk pages.) Obviously
there need to be some limits (i.e. don't quote entire book chapters), but
defining acceptable and unacceptable uses of third party text should allow
for a different set of considerations than currently applied to images.
If this all sounds dumb, I'm rather inclined to agree, but there is a
legitimate complaint that our restrictions on "non-free content" ought to be
able to handle (or contain appropriate exemptions for) the normal ways that
we use other people's text in writing our articles.
PS. The enwiki discussion is at