This paper (first reference) is the result of a class project I was part of
almost two years ago for CSCI 5417 Information Retrieval Systems. It builds
on a class project I did in CSCI 5832 Natural Language Processing and which
I presented at Wikimania '07. The project was very late as we didn't send
the final paper in until the day before new years. This technical report was
never really announced that I recall so I thought it would be interesting to
look briefly at the results. The goal of this paper was to break articles
down into surface features and latent features and then use those to study
the rating system being used, predict article quality and rank results in a
search engine. We used the [[random forests]] classifier which allowed us to
analyze the contribution of each feature to performance by looking directly
at the weights that were assigned. While the surface analysis was performed
on the whole english wikipedia, the latent analysis was performed on the
simple english wikipedia (it is more expensive to compute). = Surface
features = * Readability measures are the single best predictor of quality
that I have found, as defined by the Wikipedia Editorial Team (WET). The
[[Automated Readability Index]], [[Gunning Fog Index]] and [[Flesch-Kincaid
Grade Level]] were the strongest predictors, followed by length of article
html, number of paragraphs, [[Flesh Reading Ease]], [[Smog Grading]], number
of internal links, [[Laesbarhedsindex Readability Formula]], number of words
and number of references. Weakly predictive were number of to be's, number
of sentences, [[Coleman-Liau Index]], number of templates, PageRank, number
of external links, number of relative links. Not predictive (overall - see
the end of section 2 for the per-rating score breakdown): Number of h2 or
h3's, number of conjunctions, number of images*, average word length, number
of h4's, number of prepositions, number of pronouns, number of interlanguage
links, average syllables per word, number of nominalizations, article age
(based on page id), proportion of questions, average sentence length. :*
Number of images was actually by far the single strongest predictor of any
class, but only for Featured articles. Because it was so good at picking out
featured articles and somewhat good at picking out A and G articles the
classifier was confused in so many cases that the overall contribution of
this feature to classification performance is zero. :* Number of external
links is strongly predictive of Featured articles. :* The B class is highly
distinctive. It has a strong "signature," with high predictive value
assigned to many features. The Featured class is also very distinctive. F, B
and S (Stop/Stub) contain the most information.
:* A is the least distinct class, not being very different from F or G. =
Latent features = The algorithm used for latent analysis, which is an
analysis of the occurence of words in every document with respect to the
link structure of the encyclopedia ("concepts"), is [[Latent Dirichlet
Allocation]]. This part of the analysis was done by CS PhD student Praful
Mangalath. An example of what can be done with the result of this analysis
is that you provide a word (a search query) such as "hippie". You can then
look at the weight of every article for the word hippie. You can pick the
article with the largest weight, and then look at its link network. You can
pick out the articles that this article links to and/or which link to this
article that are also weighted strongly for the word hippie, while also
contributing maximally to this articles "hippieness". We tried this query in
our system (LDA), Google (site:en.wikipedia.org hippie), and the Simple
English Wikipedia's Lucene search engine. The breakdown of articles occuring
in the top ten search results for this word for those engines is: * LDA
only: [[Acid rock]], [[Aldeburgh Festival]], [[Anne Murray]], [[Carl
Radle]], [[Harry Nilsson]], [[Jack Kerouac]], [[Phil Spector]], [[Plastic
Ono Band]], [[Rock and Roll]], [[Salvador Allende]], [[Smothers brothers]],
[[Stanley Kubrick]]. * Google only: [[Glam Rock]], [[South Park]]. * Simple
only: [[African Americans]], [[Charles Manson]], [[Counterculture]], [[Drug
use]], [[Flower Power]], [[Nuclear weapons]], [[Phish]], [[Sexual
liberation]], [[Summer of Love]] * LDA & Google & Simple: [[Hippie]],
[[Human Be-in]], [[Students for a democratic society]], [[Woodstock
festival]] * LDA & Google: [[Psychedelic Pop]] * Google & Simple: [[Lysergic
acid diethylamide]], [[Summer of Love]] ( See the paper for the articles
produced for the keywords philosophy and economics ) = Discussion /
Conclusion = * The results of the latent analysis are totally up to your
perception. But what is interesting is that the LDA features predict the WET
ratings of quality just as well as the surface level features. Both feature
sets (surface and latent) both pull out all almost of the information that
the rating system bears. * The rating system devised by the WET is not
distinctive. You can best tell the difference between, grouped together,
Featured, A and Good articles vs B articles. Featured, A and Good articles
are also quite distinctive (Figure 1). Note that in this study we didn't
look at Start's and Stubs, but in earlier paper we did. :* This is
interesting when compared to this recent entry on the YouTube blog. "Five
Stars Dominate Ratings"
I think a sane, well researched (with actual subjects) rating system
well within the purview of the Usability Initiative. Helping people find and
create good content is what Wikipedia is all about. Having a solid rating
system allows you to reorganized the user interface, the Wikipedia
namespace, and the main namespace around good content and bad content as
needed. If you don't have a solid, information bearing rating system you
don't know what good content really is (really bad content is easy to spot).
:* My Wikimania talk was all about gathering data from people about articles
and using that to train machines to automatically pick out good content. You
ask people questions along dimensions that make sense to people, and give
the machine access to other surface features (such as a statistical measure
of readability, or length) and latent features (such as can be derived from
document word occurence and encyclopedia link structure). I referenced page
262 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to give an example of the
kind of qualitative features I would ask people. It really depends on what
features end up bearing information, to be tested in "the lab". Each word is
an example dimension of quality: We have "*unity, vividness, authority,
economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance,
precision, proportion, depth and so on.*" You then use surface and latent
features to predict these values for all articles. You can also say, when a
person rates this article as high on the x scale, they also mean that it has
has this much of these surface and these latent features.
= References =
- DeHoust, C., Mangalath, P., Mingus., B. (2008). *Improving search in
Wikipedia through quality and concept discovery*. Technical Report.
- Rassbach, L., Mingus., B, Blackford, T. (2007). *Exploring the
feasibility of automatically rating online article quality*. Technical
I have asked and received permission to forward to you all this most
excellent bit of news.
The linguist list, is a most excellent resource for people interested in the
field of linguistics. As I mentioned some time ago they have had a funding
drive and in that funding drive they asked for a certain amount of money in
a given amount of days and they would then have a project on Wikipedia to
learn what needs doing to get better coverage for the field of linguistics.
What you will read in this mail that the total community of linguists are
asked to cooperate. I am really thrilled as it will also get us more
linguists interested in what we do. My hope is that a fraction will be
interested in the languages that they care for and help it become more
relevant. As a member of the "language prevention committee", I love to get
more knowledgeable people involved in our smaller projects. If it means that
we get more requests for more projects we will really feel embarrassed with
all the new projects we will have to approve because of the quality of the
Incubator content and the quality of the linguistic arguments why we should
approve yet another language :)
NB Is this not a really clever way of raising money; give us this much in
this time frame and we will then do this as a bonus...
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: LINGUIST Network <linguist(a)linguistlist.org>
Date: Jun 18, 2007 6:53 PM
Subject: 18.1831, All: Call for Participation: Wikipedia Volunteers
LINGUIST List: Vol-18-1831. Mon Jun 18 2007. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.
Subject: 18.1831, All: Call for Participation: Wikipedia Volunteers
Moderators: Anthony Aristar, Eastern Michigan U <aristar(a)linguistlist.org>
Helen Aristar-Dry, Eastern Michigan U <hdry(a)linguistlist.org>
Reviews: Laura Welcher, Rosetta Project
The LINGUIST List is funded by Eastern Michigan University,
and donations from subscribers and publishers.
Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyer(a)linguistlist.org>
To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at
From: Hannah Morales < hannah(a)linguistlist.org >
Subject: Wikipedia Volunteers
-------------------------Message 1 ----------------------------------
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 12:49:35
From: Hannah Morales < hannah(a)linguistlist.org >
Subject: Wikipedia Volunteers
As you may recall, one of our Fund Drive 2007 campaigns was called the
"Wikipedia Update Vote." We asked our viewers to consider earmarking their
donations to organize an update project on linguistics entries in the
English-language Wikipedia. You can find more background information on this
The speed with which we met our goal, thanks to the interest and generosity
our readers, was a sure sign that the linguistics community was enthusiastic
about the idea. Now that summer is upon us, and some of you may have a bit
leisure time, we are hoping that you will be able to help us get started on
Wikipedia project. The LINGUIST List's role in this project is a purely
organizational one. We will:
*Help, with your input, to identify major gaps in the Wikipedia materials or
pages that need improvement;
*Compile a list of linguistics pages that Wikipedia editors have identified
"in need of attention from an expert on the subject" or " does not cite any
references or sources," etc;
*Send out periodical calls for volunteer contributors on specific topics or
*Provide simple instructions on how to upload your entries into Wikipedia;
*Keep track of our project Wikipedians;
*Keep track of revisions and new entries;
*Work with Wikimedia Foundation to publicize the linguistics community's
We hope you are as enthusiastic about this effort as we are. Just to help us
get started looking at Wikipedia more critically, and to easily identify an
needing improvement, we suggest that you take a look at the List of
Many people are not listed there; others need to have more facts and
added. If you would like to participate in this exciting update effort,
respond by sending an email to LINGUIST Editor Hannah Morales at
hannah(a)linguistlist.org, suggesting what your role might be or which
entries you feel should be updated or added. Some linguists who saw our
on the Internet have already written us with specific suggestions, which we
share with you soon.
This update project will take major time and effort on all our parts. The
result will be a much richer internet resource of information on the breadth
depth of the field of linguistics. Our efforts should also stimulate
students to consider studying linguistics and to educate a wider public on
we do. Please consider participating.
Editor, Wikipedia Update Project
Linguistic Field(s): Not Applicable
LINGUIST List: Vol-18-1831
1 to introduce a reworked concept for Wiki-Smart Humanity ([[m:WISH]], https://w.wiki/QGD ) project page
2 to update you on the groundwork in Tatarstan and around Russia for growing local and regional public support for Wikimedia community projects, as well as discussions about funding Outreach and other local activities (since my previous report back in early April https://w.wiki/MFm )
3 to inform you of the upcoming pilot regional procurement tender initiated by one of our partners as the easiest way for them to incentivize multilingual article creation and improvement regarding important regional phenomena of Tatarstan.
Below you will find detailed description of for each point above. Comments would be greatly appreciated.
P.S. I am in an uncharted territory, so very grateful to all Russia and international colleagues that help me with listening, advice and ideas. Tatar is a non-dominant language community, though in a much better shape than many others around the world - this opens my eyes to the reality that long-term preservation of currently living human languages (over 7000) and their inherent riches of cultural knowledge would require significantly more effort, funding and attention than needed to have enWP, ruWP, trWP and all others in official state languages of UN member countries (about 50) to describe everything that's currently missing. We are talking about amounts that no fundraising will ever bring - something that can only be achieved by staying true to the powerful Wikimedia Vision and aspiring to win the hearts of our existing and potential volunteers for them to be ready and willing to help us with something much more precious than money.
Farhad Fatkullin - Фархад Фаткуллин http://sikzn.ru/ Тел.+79274158066 / skype:frhdkazan / Wikipedia:frhdkazan / Wikidata:Q34036417
1) [[m:WISH]] (https://w.wiki/QGD) is community-supported (myself so far) undertaking to collect and chart initiatives that bring us closer to Wikimedia vision:
- various initiatives that help making all forms, types and categories of knowledge equally well described in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, - as well as those that help make everyone a Wikimedian.
No individual or even a group can give equal attention and priority to everything in the world, but we can chart initiatives that help us to move towards the world where things are more equal. This started as a Meta-page for the project around regions, languages, and different topic-specific initiatives I started in Wikimedia Russia wiki, but Meta offered a great chance to bring together similar initiatives that exist elsewhere.
2) I am in Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan / Russian Federation), so that's where I start with regarding the Russia-regions' specific part of m:WISH - https://w.wiki/WDk My first priority is to make editing Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects something widely respected, so I'm working with institutional partners.
Locally I am still in touch with or contacted since last update:
* Tatarstan Presidential Administration (description https://w.wiki/WDz )
* Municipality of Kazan (description https://w.wiki/MFH / stats by Wikimedia projects https://w.wiki/JZh in Russian)
* Tatarstan Tourism board (description https://w.wiki/WDD / lists https://w.wiki/WDC )
* Tatarstan Investment Promotion Agency (description https://w.wiki/MFL / articles for creation list https://w.wiki/PSU ) and
* Tatarstan Ministry for Culture (proposal in Russian https://w.wiki/R7g)
Russia's Wikimedians helped me in reaching out to Moscow Trade and Industry Chamber Committee on cross-regional and international cooperation, as well as National Tourism Union - I spoke about Wikimedia opportunities for growing international awareness about regional realities (https://w.wiki/Qht in Russian) at their joint Online meeting on "Tourism post COVID-19" https://mostpp.ru/guilds_news/budet-li-turizm-posle-covid-eksperty-obsudili… - very much interested to see how Tatarstan project will evolve to learn and copy
3) We've advanced most with Tatarstan Investment Development Agency (TIDA)
TIDA has English-speaking staff with global exposure (came across Wikipedia before), the head of the Agency has an MBA from UK, and she happens to know and trust me with interpreting various important events for over 10 years.
* March 19 in-person meeting https://w.wiki/WEP to present the idea https://w.wiki/MFL
* Issues discussed
- developing articles for creation lists and Wikidata element creation for them first in agency specialization area, then to cover all phenomena of importance in Tatarstan
- 3+8 target languages for TIDA
- presentations, training session to staff and various stakeholders and WiR-type ongoing consulting
- ways to prepare the ground to have targeted Tatarstan Presidential or Government grants to local Wikimedia community, to avoid Wikimedian-in-Residence positions (complicated for TIDA and other agencies) and otherwise available procurement tenders (perceived low efficiency due to too much red tape and legal complexity vs. Wikipedia's strict policy compliance requirements for content)
* current Wikidata based multilingual (3+8) priority articles for creation list https://w.wiki/PSU
WHERE WE ARE:
TIDA will be announcing a pilot public procurement tender for multilingual Wikipedia content creation (at this stage Tatar, Russian, possibly allow for English) any day now. It's expected to be organized at Tatarstan public procurement entity's https://goszakupki.tatarstan.ru/eng/ (CC-BY 4.0) dedicated procurement portal http://portal-zakupok.tatar in line with Russian Federation Public Procurement Law (FZ 44). It's expected to amount for RUB 1 million (USD13900) & open to bidding for by any legal entity or private proprietor that would like to apply.
* Full text of Federal Law 44 Inofficial English translation at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Antimonopoly_Service portal - https://en.fas.gov.ru/netcat_files/File/44-FZ%20eng.pdf
HOW DID WE GET THERE:
1 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikidata_Map_November_2019_Huge.png - we need to get whole of the map bright and info available in all languages.
2 TIDA is interested to help with Tatarstan, would like to advance with small trial steps, being guided by those with experience and readiness to help them. They are capable and comfortable to organize a procurement contract first, meanwhile observing how others work on topics in the area they feel comfortable with
3 I am keeping Wikimedia Russia informed of all my contacts and progress, so during April 2 Online Meeting https://w.wiki/LsZ WMRU director Vladimir Medeyko https://w.wiki/WFi stated that our partnership or its individual experienced members should take part in TIDA-originated and other similar regional procurement procedures
4 Once TIDA got the approval to initiate procurement (approvals by Tatarstan Ministry of Finance, then Prime Minister, then President of the Republic, May 29, communicate to [wikimedia-ru] Russian-language list https://w.wiki/W7q & English-language Telegram group https://t.me/WikimediaGeneral/15582 ), I inquired with Wikimedia Russia colleagues and identified three respected editors from Russian Wikipedia (that have extensive experience with Paid editing and disclosing COI), who then agreed with my request to take part in the upcoming bidding procedure & provide a detailed response to preliminary request by TIDA:
* Anna Biryukova - https://w.wiki/WEZ
* Dmitry Erokhin - https://w.wiki/WEa
* Dmitry Rozhkov - https://w.wiki/WEb
I was unable to identify previous Wikimedia experience (and thus templates) for large scale cross-project and multilanguage declaration of Paid Editing & disclosure of possible Conflicts of Interest, as well as providing for Community Oversight of such projects, so I'm trying my best to keep the caravan moving whilst assuring everybody is informed and feels in control.
TIDA and others agreed with my request that:
1 / Project is advancing stage-by-stage (first only Russian and Tatar, possibly some English)
2 / We do things publicly, including open statements on mandatory compliance with sourcing and other Wikipedia quality standards in the tendering procedure
3 / I keep Russia & International Wikimedia Community informed at all stages
4 / When preparing tender documentation, TIDA analyses links to specific policies that I provided them with in the project description, experienced Wikipedia editors' comments and other available experience
5 / I don't take part in either preparation or the tendering process to avoid COI as both initiator and an acquaintance of various parties, and my role of impartial communicator (3),
6 / As an interested party (citizen of Kazan, Tatarstan & Russia, as well as project initiator who wants to see this experience then scale globally), I am ready and willing to consult all parties, and open to engaging at the later stages (article analysis, improvement, translation, Wikidata Elements or Commons categorization etc.)
* I was informed that Russian Government Procurement Law does NOT allow setting too stringent qualifications for bidding participants, so the process will only set content qualification criteria. Keeping in mind how these can be interpreted by those without any prior Wikipedia experience (let's assume some copyrighting or PR company is willing to bid), I asked our partner to be ready that they might end up with a contractor who is unable to prepare content in line with target language Wikipedia communities' policies, practices and other expectations. TIDA seems to understand this and is willing to mitigate this possible outcome by breaking the process into stages, for necessary improvements to be done at later stages. I also calmed them down that whoever wins the bidding is better be ready to play well, as this case will most likely end up at the radar of Russia's and international Mass media, might be investigated and then forever described in Wikipedia.
* I will post the link to this on English-speaking Facebook groups and Telegram channels of Wikimedia movement
* I will inform respective Wikipedia language section's Village pumps once procurement contract details are out (Russian and Tatar for certain, possibly English).
* Meanwhile, I start hearing similar interest from Tatarstan's Tourism Board (to be continued)
-------- Пересылаемое сообщение --------
30.05.2020, 15:26, "Фархад Фаткуллин / Farhad Fatkullin" <frhd(a)yandex.com>:
Dear Richard and WREN colleagues,
I have good news to share and a request for comment - one of my counterparts in Tatarstan receiving regional department of finance approval for funding Wikipedia related services via tendering state procurement contract in line with Russian regulations.
Details below, grateful for any advice.
Farhad Fatkullin - Фархад Фаткуллин http://sikzn.ru/ Тел.+79274158066 / skype:frhdkazan / Wikipedia:frhdkazan / Wikidata:Q34036417
We will start with them by making sure that https://w.wiki/SBF list entries (plus a few more Wikidata entities to be created) are equally well developed and sourced in Tatar, Russian and English, after which the intent is to venture into other domains (images, data, etc.) and 8 more languages of initial interest to them.
I'm now thinking on how to structure all this in a way that our first engagement with the regional government entity is seen as a mutual success, as this is an important step to get backing of Tatarstan President necessary to have local GLAMs and Education entities more willing to consider cooperation with Wikimedia.
In parallel, we are discussing a WiR position for training their staff, organizing events for their local and foreign partners, and moving their investments portal to CC-BY.
I seem to be the only experienced local Wikimedian to be both active internationally and proficient in regional language (Tatar), so I am still undecided if I should concentrate on getting local partners happy or, instead of doing the raw writing and sourcing work they are ready to pay for, I better concentrate on making sure global Wikimedia community is comfortable with this activity. I understand that myself and other Wikimedia Russia members serving as eyes to assure material meets Wikipedia and wider Wikimedia principles and policies would be good, with international oversight from outside of Russia likely being an important component as well.
On top of this, I am also talking to Tourism, Youth Affairs and Culture departments, as well as Office of the President for their Tatar language related initiatives, was recently invited to join an Advisory Committee on Preservation and Development of Tatar language.
-------- Конец пересылаемого сообщения --------
Given the large reserves that the WMF carries, and the savings from
cancelling events such as Wikimania 2020, I would have thought that the WMF
was one organisation that could afford to pause its fundraising for a few
months. At least in countries where the economy is in freefall.
In a few months time lots of people will still be in a financial mess. But
the large number of people who are currently going to be worried about
their financial future will hopefully be divided into those who have kept
their jobs. or got new ones and those who were right to be worried.
Hopefully some of those who come through this financially OK will be in a
position to donate.
On Tue, 5 May 2020 at 11:25, <wikimedia-l-request(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> Send Wikimedia-l mailing list submissions to
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> than "Re: Contents of Wikimedia-l digest..."
> Today's Topics:
> 1. Annoying ads (John Erling Blad)
> 2. Re: Annoying ads (Benjamin Ikuta)
> 3. Re: Annoying ads (Robert Fernandez)
> 4. Re: Annoying ads (Pierre-Yves Beaudouin)
> 5. Re: Annoying ads (Nick Wilson (Quiddity))
> 6. Re: Annoying ads (Samuel Klein)
> 7. Re: Annoying ads (Paulo Santos Perneta)
> 8. Re: Annoying ads (Paulo Santos Perneta)
> Message: 1
> Date: Mon, 4 May 2020 16:55:50 +0200
> From: John Erling Blad <jeblad(a)gmail.com>
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Annoying ads
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> Often I surf Wikipedia without being logged in, and so I did right now. I
> got the usual banners, but this time they popped up repeatedly in several
> locations. This quickly gets extremely annoying, and I find it unwise.
> Create one banner, and stick with that. Several banners are simply way over
> the top.
I am writing to share some good news! After two years of brainstorming and
planning, our instructional website in Arabic is out! This is yet another
step for Wikimedia Israel in developing instructional tools.
We’re thrilled to introduce Wiki Warsha ويكي ورشة <http://wikiwarsha.org/>!
Wikiwarsha.org <http://wikiwarsha.org/> is a multimedia instructional
website designed to introduce Wikipedia to Arabic readers, to invite new
editors to write and edit content on Arabic Wikipedia, to assist teachers
in school activities, and instructors in editing workshops.
Warsha is the Arabic word for ‘workshop’, the website includes short
instructional films, texts and images and is divided into 13 informative
and instructional lessons:
Wikipedia homepage structure
About Wikipedia articles
Sign in to a registered account
Create a userpage
Create a new article
Edit an article
Formatting the article
Request edits approval on Arabic Wikipedia
Adding internal and external links
In addition to those lessons, the website contains informative sections
about copyright issues, FAQs, good article criteria, and talk pages, all in
order to facilitate understanding how Wikipedia communities function.
For further details and info:
Bekriah Mawasi [[user: bks-WMIL]]
I would like to share with you some updates on Wikimedia Foundation Board
governance, concerning board composition, annual planning, and more.
The past few weeks and months have been difficult for many of us as
COVID-19 changes our schedules and lives, but we are being really true to
the vision of “the world in which every single human being can freely share
in the sum of all knowledge”—on the whole the visits to Wikimedia projects
have increased by more than 30% over the past month. It is impressive that
the volunteer communities continue to produce the information that informs
everyone through graphs and data seen by millions and careful synthesis of
the medical and administrative facts. Wikimedia volunteers’ work is present
in top stories on the novel coronavirus. We volunteers do this despite the
need to tend to home chores, take care of kids and the elderly, probably
feeling depressed or fearing for our jobs, economy, health and the lives of
relatives and friends all over the world.
In these circumstances, it may seem odd to be hearing about board
governance updates, but those are still important, for the long-term
thriving of our movement. I joined the Board because I wanted to explore
ways of improving understanding between the Foundation and the communities,
and to help the trustees provide what was needed to our communities. No
Board will ever do this perfectly, and I know, as do we all, that there
have been occasions in the long years of the movement on which the Board
had not supported the Foundation and communities in the ways we all hoped
and needed. We as Board members want to play our part in building a
Wikimedia that will sustain our mission far into the future. Please forgive
the length of this message—it is a lot of things to share in one letter.
== Designing a better Board for Wikimedia ==
One of the most significant initiatives the Board worked on collectively
over the last year was to run an official Board governance review. In large
part this review was a response to direct requests for clarification from
the community over several years. I will explain a few of the
recommendations that came from this review, and the changes we are making
based on these recommendations.
In early 2019, the Foundation Board Chair and Executive Director
commissioned Board Veritas (named Taylor Strategic Partnerships at the
time) to review how the Board might more effectively support the goals of
the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia movement. Board Veritas was
chosen because of their expertise in the governance of U.S. nonprofits with
global operations and internationally diverse boards, as well as their
background in developing strategic comparisons with other not-for-profit
The resulting recommendations  centered on increasing the Board’s
effectiveness in fulfilling its governance responsibilities, including
improving the process for selecting Board members; developing greater
clarity around Board roles, responsibilities and accountabilities; better
leveraging the talents and skills of trustees in service to the
Foundation’s mission and strategic goals; improving trust and interactions
between the Board, the ED/CEO, and staff; and strengthening strategy and
The Board began taking steps to respond to the recommendations right away,
at a special meeting in July 2019 . At that meeting, we lengthened the
terms of Board officer and committee chair positions from one year to three
years, and we tasked the Board Governance Committee with the preparation of
proposals for how to implement additional changes.
We will have more to share in the near future when the Board will be
engaging broadly on the outcomes, but the first big planned change is
expanding the number of seats on the Board, from 10 to 16. This includes
increasing the current number of seats sourced from the wider Wikimedia
community (including affiliates) by three, for a total of eight
community-sourced seats. The majority of the Board and I feel that this
overall growth is necessary for us to increase our capacity to meet the
governance needs of the Foundation—and better reflect the growing and
diverse communities we serve with the increased number of voices from
== Community-selected Board seats ==
The voting process to select nominees for three Community-selected Board
seats was intended to open candidate submissions soon. In normal
circumstances this selection process occurs every three years and would run
this month. However, we feel that the widespread global impact from the
ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting strain on resources make it
unwise and unreasonable to continue the voting process on its planned
The selection process requires extensive effort from community members (to
read proposals, ask questions, be engaged and informed, and of course
vote); candidates (to write statements and engage with community
questions); the Elections Committee (to run the process, including
responding to questions and engaging across languages); Foundation staff
(to support the Elections Committee in running the process and coordinating
the work across all stakeholders); and the Board (to make high-level
decisions and follow the process, also across languages). Given the public
health crisis and the many extraordinary demands on every person’s time and
attention, we believe we can not expect or require the level of sustained
effort and engagement needed to hold a successful trustee selection.
We do not want to delay the trustee selection process any longer than we
have to, and we will continue to evaluate whether it is appropriate to
proceed based on the best information available to us. It takes time to
plan and run the selection, so once the postponed process can resume we
will still need to work out the best timing for it. It does not currently
seem likely that the process will resume before August 2020, but we are
committed to completing it before the end of June 2021.
In order to ensure sustained community representation on the Board, we are
extending the terms of the three community-selected trustees currently
occupying those seats (María, Dariusz, and James) for up to a year until we
are all ready to run the postponed process. I would like to thank them for
their service to our communities and dedication to our shared mission.
Note: The selection process is mandated by the Bylaws to happen every three
years according to a schedule and process set by the Board of Trustees. The
process last occurred in 2017, so if we determine that it is best to
postpone the process past 2020, this will require a modification of the
Bylaws. The necessary modification of the Bylaws will be part of
forthcoming recommendations as we learn more about when we can all dedicate
the necessary time to the selection process.
== Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan timeline ==
The Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan would normally be completed in April
and posted for your feedback in May. This year, the Board has provisionally
approved an extended and revised timeline for annual planning in order for
us to remain sensitive to global economic conditions and revenue
We are also adjusting the timelines and expectations for our affiliates
during this time. Our affiliates and user groups hold a lot of in-person
events and are transitioning some of their work online and having to
postpone or cancel some events entirely. We are all having to rethink the
next year and recognize that the adjustment is going to take time. This
pandemic is a changing situation and will affect parts of the globe
differently over time. We need to remain flexible during this time of
There will be future updates on annual plan progress from the Foundation,
but we wanted to let you know as soon as we could that the usual timelines
== Board meeting minutes & resolutions ==
Some of you have asked for minutes and resolutions from our recent
meetings, as we are behind in publishing these notes. I apologize that we
fell behind in this; once we were behind, it became harder to catch up, and
we have only now been able to read and approve them all. The minutes were
posted and you will find them on the Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki
. I shall update on this thread when they are all up.
Voting online to approve the minutes is not always possible, so we are
approving them during our meetings. The timeline of the expected publishing
of the minutes was too ambitious, and this would need to change. Amanda
Keton, our General Counsel and Secretary of the Board, will see to adopting
the practices needed and having support in place to help us review more
== To recap ==
* In early 2019, the Foundation Board Chair and Executive Director hired
Board Veritas to conduct a Board Governance Review, and we are sharing the
resulting recommendations .
* We are planning to expand the number of seats on the Board, from 10 to
16. This includes increasing the current number of seats sourced from the
wider Wikimedia community (including affiliates) by three, for a total of
eight community-sourced seats. This change will require changing the
Bylaws, especially regarding the selection pathway for the additional
seats. We plan to present the Board’s vision and hold a community
discussion as part of the process for the Bylaws change.
* We are postponing the trustee selection process by up to a year because
of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by up to a year, the resulting strain on
resources, and the added burden to our communities. And we shall be
modifying the Bylaws to allow for this revised timeline in the selection
process, if needed.
* We are approving an extended timeline for the Wikimedia Foundation Annual
* And we are posting the remaining backlog of trustee meeting minutes and
resolutions. After they are all up, I shall update on this thread.
As these are a lot of topics to talk about, please post your
thoughts/comments on the talk page of my message on Meta:
. It would be easier to have a structured discussion there, rather than
dozens of emails in this thread. Depending on interest and our shared
situation we might hold a video “town hall” to discuss more details of some
of these plans with you all.
Also we are currently working on an update to our 2016 statement on
community culture in order to reinforce our commitment to safety on our
projects. We look forward to sharing it with you in May.
Please take care of yourselves.
antanana / Nataliia Tymkiv
NOTICE: You may have received this message outside of your normal working
hours/days, as I usually can work more as a volunteer during weekend. You
should not feel obligated to answer it during your days off. Thank you in
Pete Forsyth wrote a new essay on the ambiguities of the NonCommercial
("non-commercial use only") provision in Creative Commons licenses,
which I wanted to share in case it's helpful for folks making the case
against using NC to cultural institutions or others (or in the
occasionally resurgent debate to permit NC within Wikimedia):
It argues that NC is so ambiguous in its defining restriction that it
almost defeats the point of attaching a CC license at all. I feel this
complements the longer (dated!) essay at
(A translatable version of this announcement can be found on Meta )
It is my honor to introduce Abstract Wikipedia , a new project that has
been unanimously approved by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
Abstract Wikipedia proposes a new way to generate baseline encyclopedic
content in a multilingual fashion, allowing more contributors and more
readers to share more knowledge in more languages. It is an approach that
aims to make cross-lingual cooperation easier on our projects, increase the
sustainability of our movement through expanding access to participation,
improve the user experience for readers of all languages, and innovate in
free knowledge by connecting some of the strengths of our movement to
create something new.
This is our first new project in over seven years. Abstract Wikipedia was
submitted as a project proposal by Denny Vrandečić in May of 2020  after
years of preparation and research, leading to a detailed plan and lively
discussions in the Wikimedia communities. We know that the energy and the
creativity of the community often runs up against language barriers, and
information that is available in one language may not make it to other
language Wikipedias. Abstract Wikipedia intends to look and feel like a
Wikipedia, but build on the powerful, language-independent conceptual
models of Wikidata, with the goal of letting volunteers create and maintain
Wikipedia articles across our polyglot Wikimedia world.
The project will allow volunteers to assemble the fundamentals of an
article using words and entities from Wikidata. Because Wikidata uses
conceptual models that are meant to be universal across languages, it
should be possible to use and extend these building blocks of knowledge to
create models for articles that also have universal value. Using code,
volunteers will be able to translate these abstract “articles” into their
own languages. If successful, this could eventually allow everyone to read
about any topic in Wikidata in their own language.
As you can imagine, this work will require a lot of software development,
and a lot of cooperation among Wikimedians. In order to make this effort
possible, Denny will join the Foundation as a staff member in July and lead
this initiative. You may know Denny as the creator of Wikidata, a long-time
community member, a former staff member at Wikimedia Deutschland, and a
former Trustee at the Wikimedia Foundation. We are very excited that
Denny will bring his skills and expertise to work on this project alongside
the Foundation’s product, technology, and community liaison teams.
It is important to acknowledge that this is an experimental project and
that every Wikipedia community has different needs. This project may offer
some communities great advantages. Other communities may engage less. Every
language Wikipedia community will be free to choose and moderate whether or
how they would use content from this project.
We are excited that this new wiki-project has the possibility to advance
knowledge equity through increased access to knowledge. It also invites us
to consider and engage with critical questions about how and by whom
knowledge is constructed. We look forward to working in cooperation with
the communities to think through these important questions.
There is much to do as we begin designing a plan for Abstract Wikipedia in
close collaboration with our communities. I encourage you to get involved
by going to the project page and joining the new mailing list. We
recognize that Abstract Wikipedia is ambitious, but we also recognize its
potential. We invite you all to join us on a new, unexplored path.
Wikipedia/June 2020 announcement
Katherine Maher (she/her)
Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
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