The recent interest in grants is super!, as is the
enthusiasm to apply
for our first grant as soon as possible. Moreover, the requirements for serious
grants tend to be good metrics for the successful and organized completion of
subprojects, so the effort required to fill out these applications is
I am excited for the near future.
That said, please let us not use this particular grant to get our feet
wet. It would
require multiple heroic efforts to submit an application in time, and
this grant isn't
designed for projects at our stage of development. We need to pace
the long haul, not burn out our grant enthusiasts in the first sprint.
I hesitated to comment when I first read of this proposal. A number of
the strong supporters of this are also among the Wikimedians that I most
respect, so I was not about to dump ice-water on their vision. Sj is
right in his criticism, and for the best of reasons.
I fear that this quest for $500,000 is based more on wishful imaginings
than on any kind of coherent plan. I don't think that it is very
productive when an organisation begins to adapt its approaches simply
for the sake of obtaining a grant. The idea should come first;
afterwards we can ask for grants that further those ideas. We've only
begun to think of topics like budgets and financial management. Mav's
proposal that we follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
is a perfectly sound one, but I don't know how many of us are that
familiar with even the most rudimentary accounting principles. What
internal audit procedures do we have in place?
The application asks about resumés and expertise and credentials, etc.
Some of us may have very fine resumés, but that's not what the wiki is
about. The lack of credentials is not an impediment to editing; we have
had excellent efforts from 12-year-olds who deserve the same respect as
PhD's. That point needs to be sold to grant reviewers who have gotten to
where they are through traditional hierarchical means. The idea of an
encyclopedia that anybody can edit at any time is completely
counterintuitive to a system of thinking that has been developing since
the time of Aristotle. It also butts heads with prevailing ideas of
intellectual property, and other proprietary interests in the
development of electronic media. Who among us has given throrough
thought to this?
The 1.0 project is a more achievable venture at this stage, but after a
flurry of discussion a few months ago it ended up on the back burner.
The conversation at the time lapsed into a lot of unproductive fears
over what should or should not be included. It certainly failed to
consider that a faulty 1.0 would preferably be followed by an improved
2.0. A coherent plan to deal with this could lead to funding
opportunities. The sales that such a project might generate could also
become the basis for dependable funding of routine administration.