On Fri, 30 Apr 2021 at 15:02, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466(a)gmail.com> wrote:
The Wikimedia Endowment page on Meta actually
states very clearly in
its lead paragraph who benefits from the Endowment. It says,
"The funds may be transferred from Tides either to the Wikimedia
Foundation or to other charitable organisations selected by the Wikimedia
Foundation to further the Wikimedia mission."
The Wikimedia Foundation alone controls how the funds are used (limited
only by whatever UPMIFA or donor-specific constraints apply).
The Wikimedia Foundation legally controlling the funds, and the endowment's
purpose being to protect the project moving forwards, are not mutually
exclusive. Legally, yes, the Wikimedia Foundation controls the funds, so
for the page to say otherwise would be misleading. Unless some other entity
can somehow direct Tides to transfer the money, then the page shouldn't say
Including the $100 million endowment, the WMF will now have investments of
around $200 million (excluding cash and cash
equivalents), for an annual
investment income of over $10 million. That is already enough to run core
services. Wikimedia posted total expenses of $3.5 million in 2007/2008, a
year after Wikipedia became a global top-ten website.
Well, it's not 2007 anymore. Just because it cost $3.5 million in 2007
doesn't mean it'd cost $3.5 million now. I don't know enough about the
current financial situation, staff, data centre expenditure, hardware, etc.
to state whether $10 million is actually enough to continue to maintain the
infrastructure required for the project. Could you share your breakdown and
The problem for me – and many other rank-and-file
volunteers – is not the
idea of an endowment as such, but fundraising messages saying "Wikipedia
really needs you this Tuesday" to donate money so Wikipedia can "stay
online", "protect its independence", etc., or "to show the volunteers
The WMF creates the impression that it struggles to keep Wikipedia up and
running; people then feel scared or guilty, think Wikipedia is struggling,
or dying, or will soon put up a paywall; and the WMF does little to
correct that mistaken impression, even when directly asked about it as in
Katherine's recent The Daily Show interview. One is left with the
uncomfortable conclusion that the WMF creates and fails to correct that
false impression because it benefits financially from it.
Indeed, as the endowment grows I would expect our fundraising messaging to
change, from talking about donations being required to maintain the
projects, to instead highlighting the new developments that donations
enable. As mentioned before, I don't know if we're there yet. I look
forward to us getting there.
(I'll ignore your nonsenscial remark about the WMF somehow profiting from
I disagree, SJ. The Meta page has a blue progress bar showing how much
money is in the Endowment. To me it is incompatible
with the idea of a wiki
– a website designed to support continuous updates – for such a progress
bar to be up to a year out of date. It's not what a reasonable reader of
that page would expect.
"People expect wikis to be updated, and information on the endowment is on
a wiki, therefore we should have monthly updates on the endowment" isn't a
very compelling argument. I don't see why the reporting cadence should go
beyond what is typically expected of endowments in the nonprofit space.
If you have a problem with that particular bar on that page on Meta for
some reason, perhaps a disclaimer about the last time it was updated could
be added. That seems like a much simpler solution than drastically
increasing the financial auditing and reporting overhead.