Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
Covering: September 2009
Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
MILESTONES FROM SEPTEMBER
1. Recruitment begins for Chief Technical Officer and Chief
2. 2009 Fundraiser planning begins
3. Strategy project launches Call For Participation
4. Usability team expanded
5. Bookshelf project for public outreach resources launched
KEY PRIORITIES FOR OCTOBER
1. Begin interviewing Chief Technical Officer candidates
2. Planning for 2009 Fundraiser continues (launches November)
3. Strategy Project task forces kick off
4. Semi-annual All Staff Meeting October 21-23
5. Office moves to 149 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco
REPORT FOR SEPTEMBER
KEY PROGRAM METRICS
Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:
326 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+19.8% (1 year ago) / +6% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics
+11.7% (1 year ago) / +5.1% (1 month ago)
Active number of editors (5+ edits/month):
+2.3% (1 year ago) / -2.5% (one month ago)
Source: September 2009 Report Card <http://stats.wikimedia.org/reportcard/RC_2009_09_detailed.html
KEY FINANCIAL METRICS
Operating revenue year to date: USD 1.1MM vs. plan of USD 1.1MM
Operating expenses year to date: USD 1.6MM vs plan of USD 2.6MM.
Unrestricted cash on hand as of October 22 was USD 6.0MM.
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS
September marked the formal launch of the strategy planning process.
In mid-September, a Call for Participation from Jimmy Wales and
Michael Snow appeared at the top of all Wikimedia sites, encouraging
people to volunteer to participate in strategy development task
forces, which will be responsible for digging deeper into the key
questions facing Wikimedia. The key questions include how to grow
readership and participation in geographies where Wikimedia projects
are under-performing (e.g., China, India, the Arabic-speaking
countries); how to make Wikimedia project material available to the
five billion people who don't yet have access to the internet; how to
convert readers into participants and improve the diversity and
general health of the Wikimedia movement, and how to enable Wikimedia,
as a social and political movement, to best shape and influence public
perception and public policy, internationally.
The Call for Participation resulted in almost 3,000 applications from
a wide variety of people, including active project participants and
readers from many projects and languages. A selection committee
carefully reviewed all applications, and in October will begin to
populate the task forces with the applicants who seem most
appropriate. Almost 30% of applicants committed to volunteering over
10 hours a week, indicating a strong desire to help and engage in this
Meanwhile, in September, overall engagement on the strategy wiki
continued to grow. The strategy wiki now contains almost 6,000 pages
of content in more than 50 languages. Over 600 people have contributed
to the wiki.
Also in September, the Bridgespan Group continued to add data and
analysis to the strategy wiki in support of the task forces, and also
conducted a number of in-depth interviews with Wikimedia Foundation
Board members, Advisory Board members, staff, other supporters and
experts. Thus far, interviewees have included Board members Ting Chen,
Samuel Klein and Jimmy Wales, Advisory Board members Angela Beesley
Starling, Ward Cunningham, Clay Shirky, Achal Prabhala, Florence
Nibart-Devouard, Teemu Leinonen, Benjamin Mako Hill, Roger McNamee,
Melissa Hagemann, Mitch Kapor, Neeru Khosla, Wayne Mackintosh and
Ethan Zuckerman. Other interviews were conducted with Ed Chi,
researcher at Palo Alto Research Center, Eric Goldman, Santa Clara
University law professor and researcher, Rima Kupryte, from eIFL
(Electronic Information for Libraries), Andrew Lih, author of The
Wikipedia Revolution, Mike Linksvayer, Vice President of Creative
Commons, Misiek Piskorski, Harvard Business School professor and
researcher, Jennifer Riggs, former Chief Program Officer for the
Wikimedia Foundation, Joseph Reagle, researcher into open source
communities, Matt Thompson, Online Community Manager at the Knight
Foundation and Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United
States. The following staff have also been interviewed: Mike Godwin,
General Counsel, Véronique Kessler, Chief Financial and Operating
Officer, Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving, Frank Schulenburg,
Head of Public Outreach, Brion Vibber, Chief Technical Officer, Tim
Starling, software developer, Kul Wadhwa, Head of Business
Development, Jay Walsh, Head of Communications, Erik Zachte, Data
Analyst, and Sue Gardner, Executive Director. All interview notes can
be found here: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Interviews
TECHNOLOGY - CORE
In September, Brion Vibber announced he will be leaving the Wikimedia
Foundation in October to take a role as open-microblogging developer
with StatusNet. Brion has agreed to stay with the Wikimedia Foundation
one day per week until the end of 2009, and he will continue to be
involved with Wikimedia as a volunteer developer in future. He will
also help to recruit his successor.
The technology team worked on Flagged Revisions testing configurations
for the English Wikipedia, these configurations are now live and
receiving testing and feedback on http://
Supported by a general software update, the Technology team also
rolled out Localisation Update which will keep user interface
translations up to date with daily changes from TranslateWiki. This is
expected to accelerate localisation activity by ensuring updates are
consistent even if software upgrades are delayed.
The technology team began a decommissioning process for old servers
which are no longer under warranty and are more expensive to run than
the newer and more energy-efficient replacement servers. The
Foundation hopes to make the retired servers available to other non-
profit organizations that could use the hardware.
Tomasz Finc began working on an arrangement to make the full-text data
dumps available in Amazon's Public Data Sets for EC2 users. These will
be kept up to date over time, and will be available alongside existing
processed data sets from Freebase.
The ProofreadPage extension used by Wikisource received an update
which includes improved indexing of scanned pages.
TECHNOLOGY - USABLITY
One full-time software developer consultant, two part-time software
developer consultants, and one part-time interface design consultant
joined the Usability team in September. Adam Miller joined the
Usability team as a full-time software development consultant bringing
strong front-end web development skills. Adam was recently with the
Babarian Group as a lead web developer and led overhauling of Red
Bull1's 1000+ web properties including internationalization of the
sites. http://heyadammiller.com/ Yaron Koren, MediaWiki volunteer
developer and the creator of the Semantic Forms, joined the team as
part-time consultant. Yaron will work on a first specification for an
XML schema to describe template structures, allowing for automated
form UI generation and form-based data entry. He will also work on a
first proof-of-concept implementation of form-based data-entry for
MediaWiki based on this XML schema. http://yaronkoren.com/ Ryan Lane,
a long-time MediaWiki development volunteer, joined the team as a part-
time system administrator consultant. Ryan contributed various
MediaWiki extensions, such as LDAP authentication, smooth gallery and
others. Ryan is a full-time employee of Naval Oceanographic Office at
Stennis Space Center, but his work schedule allows him to work on the
usability project on Fridays. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Ryan_lane
Hannes Tank, the former designer intern of the usability team
rejoined the team as a part-time interface design consultant. Hannes
is a graduate student of the Muthesius Academy of Arts in Kiel,
Germany. He worked on redesign of Wikipedia as a school project in
2008. http://hannestank.de/wikipedia/english_about.html As of
September 12th, over 173,000 visitors and editors tried out the beta
and 134,000 people continued using the beta. The average beta
retention rate was roughly 77% and the retention rate for English
Wikipedia was 82%. The next step is to analyze the survey data to
identify language specific usability issues. More details about the
beta status is found at the WMF blog on this topic. http://blog.wikimedia.org/2009/09/14/usability-beta-status/
The second usability release, Babaco, was released to production on
September 30th. The major features of this release are; 1) Navigable
Table of Contents, which allows editors to jump to the start of each
section in the article, 2) Dialogues for inserting internal and
external links, and 3) Find and Replace feature. These features are
available in user preferences. More details about Babaco release can
be found in the tech blog post. http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2009/10/babaco-is-ready-for-tasting/3
Planning continued on the second usability study. The focus of the
second round study will be the evaluation of all user interface
changes made so far. The study size is eight participants in total and
the study will be conducted at a research facility in San Francisco in
early October. For the multimedia usability project funded by the Ford
Foundation, we received good numbers of applications for the product
management position and three promising candidates were interviewed.
The interviews for Product Manager has been concluded and the
background check has started. As for the applications to the software
development position, the screening is taking place and interviews
will be scheduled in October.
OTHER PROGRAM ACTIVITIES
Sue announced the departure of Jennifer Riggs as the Foundation's
Chief Program Officer. Sue and the Foundation's staff thanked Jennifer
for her contributions. During her term with the Foundation Jennifer
helped the Wikimedia improve in some important ways. She helped Frank,
Cary, and Jay structure their work, and she supported the staging of
the U.S. National Institute of Health's Wikipedia Academy, managed the
chapters grants process, and represented Wikimedia at the GLAM-Wiki
conference in Australia. Over the next few months, Sue will review and
refine the CPO job description, and begin recruitment.
In September, the Foundation hired Marlita Kahn as project manager for
the Bookshelf Project. Marlita comes to Wikimedia from Design Media,
where, as Senior Project Manager, she created and guided the product
design and content development for a large number of customers. Among
her projects were a product set targeted to educators and general
public for California State Capitol Museum that won the International
Web Page Award (2002), "Concepts of Biology", a high school biology
full year multimedia curriculum product and a 3D stereoscopic film
commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire using
historic imagery and original 3D animation, script and surround sound
that won the Silver and Bronze Telly Awards (2007). Prior to her work
at Design Media, Marlita worked as a Managing Director for the
Internet Archive, the non-profit digital library founded in 1996 by
internet entrepreneur and activist Brewster Kahle. She managed the
Archive from start-up and led the development of its five-year
strategic plan. Marlita is fluent in Spanish and holds a Master's
Degree in English Literature from the University of California at
With the hiring of Marlita, the Foundation launches its Bookshelf
Project which aims to create a core set of awareness/engagement/
training high-quality resources that can be used to recruit new and
diverse participation. When complete, the bookshelf is intended to
serve as a core set of instructional materials, to be translated,
adapted and used for multiple purposes by volunteers, chapters, and
educational institutions such as schools and universities.
Also in September, Frank embarked upon exploring new ways of
affiliating with the Wikimedia movement by developing the "WikiPods"
concept <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiPods>. WikiPods are groups
of Wikimedia fans and enthusiasts working together in local teams
(your campus, your town, etc) to help advocate, promote, enrich and
otherwise improve Wikipedia or other projects of the Wikimedia
Also in September, Kathrin Jansen, Volunteer Project Lead of the Best
Practices series on Meta, and her team focused on a step-by-step
instruction on how to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool, which is
available at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Best_practices_in_assigning_Wikipedia_articl…
And, Frank launched an informal speaker series aimed at providing a
space for staff to learn, talk and brainstorm together. The first
guest speaker, scheduled for early October, will be Danny Horn from
Wikia, talking about Wikia's WYSIWYG feature. Future speakers will
include Ed Chi, researcher at PARC, and Jack Herrick, founder of
Also in September, Cary Bass launched the first IRC “office hours.”
IRC office hours are weekly meetings on the Freenode IRC channel
#wikimedia-office, at a standard set time, with one "special guest"
from the Foundation staff at each meeting, aimed at providing a
opportunity for volunteers to engage casually with staff members in
real time. The first guest was Executive Director Sue Gardner,
followed by Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving.
Major coverage during September revolved around the following stories:
1. Wikimania follow up, coverage in Argentina (Early Sept)
Numerous Spanish publications, most based in Argentina, published long-
lead stories that were developed during Wikimania in Buenos Aires.
Many included interviews with Jimmy Wales and Richard Stallman.
More Flagged Revs coverage in Time + much follow up (September 28)
Coverage of Flagged Revs and Ed Chi's research into stagnating
participation on Wikimedia projects continued in September with
several Time.com stories by journalist Farhad Manjoo and others. The
stories named Wikipedia as one of the “sites we can't live without,”
and expressed concerns about growing behind-the-scenes
bureaucratization and community dysfunction. Follow-up coverage
(including an U.S. National Public Radio story and others) echoed
those same themes.
3. Polanski article causes mainstream media stir (September 30)
Media attention around director Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland
spilled into the film-maker's Wikipedia article later in September,
focusing on discussion among editors about how to best incorporate the
arrest into the Polanski article. Some inaccurate coverage suggesting
the page 'lock' is due to charges the director faces.
Other worthwhile reads:
During September, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews
with Wired.com (San Francisco, California, USA); Technology Review
(Cambridge Massachusetts, USA); San Jose Mercury News (San Jose,
California, USA); Agence France Presse (Oakland, California, USA);
Business Week (New York City, New York, USA); BBC Television (New York
City, New York, USA); Al Jazeera (New York City, New York, USA); New
Jersey Law Journal (Newark, New Jersey, USA); Queen's University
Journal (Kingston, Ontario, Canada); Time Magazine (San Francisco,
California, USA); New York Post (New York City, New York, USA); Slate
magazine (New York City, New York, USA), and the Canadian Press
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada).
During September, Jay continued working on the communications campaign
with Fenton Communications. Fenton spent much of August and early
September undertaking a research phase with staff and stakeholders,
during which they spoke with Board members, Advisory Board members,
and members of the staff, as well as Wikimedia volunteers and readers.
Through this work, the team developed a first draft of messaging
tactics that will inform both the annual giving campaign and
Wikimedia's general communications activities. Through the rest of
September, the Fenton team worked with Jay and Rand on carrying out
notes and refining concepts for presentation in October, prior to the
November fundraiser launch.
FUNDRAISING, GRANTS, & PARTNERSHIPS
The Wikimedia Foundation received 1,020 donations in September
totaling approximately USD 48,503. Year-to-date, the Foundation has
raised USD 467,369 in fundraising related revenue, 7% of the annual
goal of USD 7,500,000.
In September, recruiting firm m/Oppenheim interviewed Sue, the
fundraising team and other staff, several Board and Advisory Board
members, as well as some key donors and stakeholders, in order to
develop the job description for the new Chief Development Officer, and
create an initial list of about 30 potential candidates and
connectors. The job is expected to be posted in October, and the
position is open until filled: it will likely come to fruition in
Also in September, Development Associate Anya Shyrokova was promoted
to the new position of Stewardship Associate, handling the needs of
under-$500 donors, as well as cultivating and stewarding $500 to $10K
donors. Her former position, focused on managing Wikimedia's open
source donor database and handling donor and prospect research and
tracking, was posted on the Wikimedia Foundation website: the search
for her replacement is expected to wrap up in October.
Rand Montoya continued working towards the 2009 Annual Fundraiser,
planned to launch in November. He also launched new functionality
allowing people in the United States to donate via mobile phone, which
will be integrated into Wikipedia's mobile gateway. See http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Mobile_Giving
for more information.
Rebecca Handler traveled to New York City to meet with donors and
prospects prior to the launch of the annual campaign. During her trip,
Rebecca represented the Wikimedia Foundation at a dinner hosted by
Queen Rania and a number of other influential women. During September,
Rebecca also continued meeting with prospective donors to secure
funding for a new data center.
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
In September, the Wikimedia Foundation announced it had successfully
concluded its search for new office space, and that it would be moving
to 149 New Montgomery Street on October 16. The move was approved as
part of the 2009-10 annual plan, and in August Office Manager Daniel
Phelps had begun leading a highly collaborative staff search process.
In mid-September, the Foundation formally selected 149 New Montgomery
Street as its new location, and Daniel spent the remainder of the
month finalizing lease terms, overseeing construction, and planning
towards the move. Daniel also announced in September that, although
the Wikimedia Foundation had originally tried to keep its initial San
Francisco address private in order to protect the staff from stalkers
and gawkers, it had since rethought that practice. Going forward, the
Wikimedia Foundation will openly publish its physical location.
Bill Gong and Veronique Kessler spent much of their month working with
the external audit firm KPMG to review the Foundation's financial
records and statements in preparation for their public release. The
fieldwork portion of the audit was completed in September, and the
final audit report is expected to be released in November.
At the request of the Audit Committee and with the support of other
staff, Veronique began development of an analysis of key risks facing
the Wikimedia projects, including in the areas of financial and
organizational sustainability, technology, reputation, community, and
the external environment. The preliminary draft suggests that the most
significant and/or likeliest risks facing Wikimedia include stagnation
of participation in the Wikimedia projects, a lack of technical
innovation, failure of the Wikimedia movement to develop sustainable
and essential organizational structures to support its work, a lack of
participation in developing countries, editorial scandal damaging
Wikipedia's reputation, competitor sites eroding our readership, a
plateauing of donations, and risk of a fundamental shift to our legal
context (e.g., transformative change to the U.S. Communications
Decency Act). Once the 2008-09 audited financial statements are
approved by the Audit Committee, Veronique will present to it the most
important risks facing us, and the Wikimedia Foundation's current
mitigation strategy for each one.
In September, the Wikimedia Foundation won a Uniform Domain-Name
Dispute-Resolution Policy (URDP) claim, winning the rights to two
domains based on variant spellings of Wikipedia. Mike Godwin also
initiated responses to two defamation lawsuits brought against
Wikipedia in the United States, and investigated possible responses to
a court order imposed on the Foundation in Germany. Additionally, Mike
offered assistance to Wikimedia Italia in their legal dispute by
offering to provide evidence to an Italian court that Wikimedia Italia
is not a division or agent of the Wikimedia Foundation.
It is my pleasure to announce that the usability team has a new member. Neil Kandalgaonkar joined the team as a software developer for the Ford multi-media usability project. Neil brings in the breadth of experience in software engineering from major social networking web sites such as Flickr and Upcoming.org. Neil oversaw improving payment system and
performance of FlickrMail interface at Flickr, integrated Upcoming.org into Yahoo properties and helped expand the team. Prior to Yahoo!, Neil was with Google and his main responsibility was to enable Google Checkout system for non-US markets. Neil holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Concordia University, in Montreal, Canada.
Neil will work closely with Guillaume Paumier, who manages the product side of the project, and also Michael Dale who have been developing a ton of multi-media support software and tools already.
I just posted the work in progress of the multi-media usability project for those who are curious about the development of the multi-media usability project.
Please join me welcoming, Neil.
Wikimedia Usability Initiative
Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
Here's some very anecdotal data from people involved in CrisisCamps around
the country about which collaborative tools they'd found useful over the
past couple of weeks.
Wikis: used second-most, after phones; reviewed most positively.
Subject: [CrisisCamp Coordinators] Quick recap on comms tools so far Date:
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 08:05:19 -0800 From: Jeremy Johnstone
"Negative" = voted 1 or 2 for the tool
"Positive" = voted 3 or 4 for the tool
Twitter -- Neg: 11% / Pos: 47%
Mailing Lists -- Neg: 12% / Pos: 62%
Google Groups -- Neg: 14% / Pos: 63%
Atrium -- Neg: 34% / Pos: 22%
IRC -- Neg: 26% / Pos: 52%
Wiki -- Neg: 13% / Pos: 71%
Google Wave -- Neg: 50% / Pos: 16%
Phone -- Neg: 17-26% / Pos: 48-69%
Skype -- Neg: 10% / Pos: 58%
Will send out more detailed stats later, but wanted to get those numbers
into the hands of decision makers asap.
> Why would anybody want to buy it if it is possible to download it for
download is impractical, it takes too long.
Often you want it offline, when no internet-connection is available.
Or you want to have a fixed version, not overwritten by updates.
Or you want to have it in case it stops and goes offline and is maybe no
The German version is being sold in Germany, but not the larger English
wikireader doesn't say whether the data is just plain text or somehow
in their format.
(I couldn't find it)
I don't need pictures, just plain wikipedia-text.
Best with the discussion-pages and all that.
Suitable for keyword-searches, maybe even from program or batch-file
Possibly of interest to Wikimedians: the U.S. Office of Science and
Technology Policy is requesting public comment on making federally
funded scientific research open access. The deadline is Jan. 7.
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Charles W. Bailey, Jr." <cwbailey(a)digital-scholarship.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:50:30 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: [STS-L] OSTP Request for Comment on Open Access to Federally
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is requesting
input regarding enhanced access to federally funded science
and technology research results, including the possibility
of open access to them. Comments can be e-mailed to
publicaccess(a)ostp.gov. The deadline for comments is January
Here's an excerpt from the announcement
Input is welcome on any aspect of expanding public access to
peer reviewed publications arising from federal research.
Questions that individuals may wish to address include, but
are not limited to, the following (please respond to
1. How do authors, primary and secondary publishers,
libraries, universities, and the federal government
contribute to the development and dissemination of peer
reviewed papers arising from federal funds now, and how
might this change under a public access policy?
2. What characteristics of a public access policy would best
accommodate the needs and interests of authors, primary and
secondary publishers, libraries, universities, the federal
government, users of scientific literature, and the public?
3. Who are the users of peer-reviewed publications arising
from federal research? How do they access and use these
papers now, and how might they if these papers were more
accessible? Would others use these papers if they were more
accessible, and for what purpose?
4. How best could federal agencies enhance public access to
the peer-reviewed papers that arise from their research
funds? What measures could agencies use to gauge whether
there is increased return on federal investment gained by
5. What features does a public access policy need to have to
6. What version of the paper should be made public under a
public access policy (e.g., the author's peer reviewed
manuscript or the final published version)? What are the
relative advantages and disadvantages to different versions
of a scientific paper?
7. At what point in time should peer-reviewed papers be made
public via a public access policy relative to the date a
publisher releases the final version? Are there empirical
data to support an optimal length of time? Should the delay
period be the same or vary for levels of access (e.g., final
peer reviewed manuscript or final published article, access
under fair use versus alternative license), for federal
agencies and scientific disciplines?
8. How should peer-reviewed papers arising from federal
investment be made publicly available? In what format should
the data be submitted in order to make it easy to search,
find, and retrieve and to make it easy for others to link to
it? Are there existing digital standards for archiving and
interoperability to maximize public benefit? How are these
anticipated to change?
9. Access demands not only availability, but also meaningful
usability. How can the federal government make its
collections of peer- reviewed papers more useful to the
American public? By what metrics (e.g., number of articles
or visitors) should the Federal government measure success
of its public access collections? What are the best examples
of usability in the private sector (both domestic and
international)? And, what makes them exceptional? Should
those who access papers be given the opportunity to comment
or provide feedback?
In "The Obama Administration Wants OA for Federally-Funded
Research" (http://bit.ly/8fZ6Yh), Peter Suber says:
"This is big. We already have important momentum in Congress
for FRPAA. The question here is about separate action from
the White House. What OA policies should President Obama
direct funding agencies to adopt? This is the first major
opening to supplement legislative action with executive
action to advance public access to publicly-funded research.
It's also the first explicit sign that President Obama
supports the OA policy at the NIH and wants something
similar at other federal agencies."
In "Please Comment on Mandate Proposal by President Obama's
Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)"
(http://bit.ly/8OQUEF), Stevan Harnad provides his answers
to the OSTP's questions.
Charles W. Bailey, Jr.
Publisher, Digital Scholarship