Hello, we are writing to all active developers to survey views on
development and how these might interact with a rewards system that
has been proposed. There has been a discussion about this athttp://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Developer_payment
. It would be really
helpful if you could find time to answer the questions at the end of
Some people believe that Wikimedia could benefit from having certain
MediaWiki features developed or developed more quickly that they
However, some of these features might not be coded because we do not
have internal resources to take care of them ourselves. Others do not
exist because no one is doing them, possibly due to low motivation,
being overworked by other tasks, or because no one is aware the
features are requested.
For these reasons, it has been suggested that we create a system
would influence development activity in certain directions. In short,
that the Wikimedia Foundation offers bounties for certain development
In order to take such a decision, we need to determine whether the
solution is potentially a good one, or not (both *technically* and
*socially*). We also wish to explore alternative solutions to increasing
performance and individual satisfaction.
Whilst recognizing that there is nothing wrong or amoral to wish to be
paid or rewarded for volunteer activity, we do not wish to alienate
people who are strongly opposed to the idea, nor donors who gave money
with another dream in mind. As with any system relying on voluntary
activity, use of money as an item of exchange for work is
controversial. What we would like to understand better is how
controversial it is, both for editors and for developers. This poll is
meant to help us understand better what developers' opinions are on
A number of questions are included below, but please feel free to not
answer any that you not wish to respond to, particularly if you feel
they are too personal or not relevant to you. Add comments if you
wish, but try to keep them short and clear :-). Any complex proposals
should be added to Meta or sent to wikitech-l.
Please send your answers to anthere9ATyahoo.com
Note : The reason we are distributing this questionnaire privately rather
than publicly is for the simple reason that some people are
uncomfortable talking about money issues in public. Also, some might
prefer not to enter into public controversies.
All replies will be kept confidential. If any statistics are released,
they will only be aggregate ones, and no comments will be quoted if
the author of them could be identified.
Are you, or have you been in the past, involved in development of
MediaWiki or maintenance of the Wikimedia servers?
If so, can you briefly indicate which specific activities you have
done (maintenance of servers, performance improvement, development of
features, debug, interface, "hotline" etc)
Which tasks, if any, really ought to be done, but currently are not?
Are there any tasks that you would like to get involved with but have
not yet done so?
If so, what is preventing becoming more involved with those tasks?
Is there anyone that you would like to be more involved with certain
tasks? If so, which tasks?
Did you find it easy to join the development team? Did you receive
appropriate guidance to allow you to start helping? Do you feel it is
easy now for newcomers to get involved?
If not, what do you think would help new developers to "get in"?
Was there anything in particular that you found helped you to join in?
Are you proud of what you are currently doing?
Do you feel your work is undervalued or under-recognized?
If you are now less involved with the development team than you were
previously, what made you decrease your contribution there?
What is the best reward for your good work, or what way would you prefer to be
Do you think any of the following could help? Thinking only of
technical considerations, please rate the following on this five point
scale from A to B.
A. Yes, I am convinced that could help a lot. I strongly support
B. Yes, it might help eventually. I slightly support this
C. I don't know if this will help. I neither support nor oppose this
D. No, I think it will not be helpful. I am slightly opposed to this
E. I am strongly opposed to this option, whether helpful or not
1. Having paid staff (permanent, full or part time, for example a
sysadmin). (Ie, paying someone for rather loosely defined activity)
2. A system of bounties or similar. For example, a one off contract
for a specific task, such as the development of a feature.
3. An award system : nomination of a "developer of the month" (for a special thank you
time) with an explanation of why. This could be advertised on IRC with
a paypal link on the fundraising page.
4. Another award system. For example, once a year, between one and three
developers could receive an award of the "best developer of the year",
possibly with a price of hardware or of money, and thank you notes
5. A "get to know me more" system : A special "know more about our developers" page, where each developer may explain how he contributed to the project, add a paypal
link, webpage link etc. This could be prominently linked to from the fundraising page.
6. Professional training to some of the developers if the Wikimedia Foundation could secure free or reduced price training.
7. Make our third global press releases oriented toward development issues, in order to attract new contributors for software and hardware issues. Focus on tech news site for promotion.
8. A meet-up for developers to work together occasionally (in Germany perhaps, with round of beers paid by the foundation :-))
9. A big clean
up of the development pages on Meta, and clearer paths
to help new developers to "jump in".
10. Nomination of "organiser(s)" whose role would be to clean up the
list of tasks to do, clarify priorities, go around asking who could do
that, attract volunteers etc...
11. Please add your own ideas below.
Would you be interested to make a living directly or undirectly from Wikip?dia ?
If the Board were to hire staff, what type of staff do you think would be most helpful?
Do you think staff should be hired internally or externally? (ie, someone already volunteering, or someone who is not a participant)
If the Foundation were hiring, would you consider applying for a
How would you summarize your view on the proposed bounty system?
Strongly support / support/ neutral/ opposed/ strongly opposed/ undecided.
If opposed, please briefly indicate why.
If the Board decided to use a bounty system, would you try to get involved to get some of the bounties?
Do you feel your motivation level would be increased or decreased through the use of a bounty system?
If you are opposed to a bounty system, would its implementation cause you to decrease your level of contribution?
Please cite three tasks that you feel would be well suited to a bounty system.
Given that we would roughly evaluate the number of hours for a task, how much do you think should be given for a bounty (ie, amount of money per hour)? Alternatively, how much would you suggest the Foundation should offer for the tasks you mentioned just above?
What do you think would be the largest benefit of implementing a bounty system?
What do you think would be the largest harm caused by a bounty system?
Do you have your own pay pal account?
Would you be interested in having a little bio about you and your achievement on WMF site ?
Would you be interested in having a link on the site whereby users could donate money to you via this account?
Would you be interested in receiving professional training?
If developers were to be awarded special prizes by the Board, would you prefer to receive money or hardware?
Are there any ways of improving organization that you feel you can commit yourself to right now? For example, cleaning up pages, writing documentation, coaching newbies, writing technical press releases, improving the bug tracking system, setting up a "tech news" reporting page, playing the pom pom girl?
We thank you for your time and attention, and hope you will agree to participate to this survey. As board members and representants of all wikipedians, it is important to Angela and I that we take decisions which will be at the same time beneficial to the project, beneficial for WMF, consistent with our shared values and agreeable to the community.
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