On 1 Mar 2016, at 5:00 PM, Erik Moeller <eloquence(a)gmail.com> wrote:
2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <chris.sherlock79(a)gmail.com>om>:
With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure
how could come to the conclusion that general
Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.
It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
That’s rather missing the point though. The plan may change, but from the very start we
have been told the plan is not the one that was proposed to the Knight Foundation.
We have been told, over and over again, that the application is for internal search. I
have quoted the relevant sections in my previous email that show that the Knight
Foundation proposal, as written, was not at any stage what was being planned for
(apparently) within the Board.
The only other option is that there were indeed plans afoot within the Board of Trustees
for an external search engine, but these got changed after the grant was submitted. In
which case, James Heilman is entirely vindicated.
This raises an interesting point though. Is this grant still active? If this grant is
still active, who is actively working on it? What is currently being done in the Discovery
team around this particular grant application?
I’m very interested to hear who is in charge of getting this grant going if that’s the
case. Have I entirely missed something (possible) or has there been no announcements about
who or what is working on the requirements of this grant? The grant was issued in
September last year, and the grant specifies that the initial $250,000 was for activities
to be run over a 6 month period, after which the Discovery team needs to show some quite
measurable results from the “discovery” stage.  In particular, the team need to
establish core usage and performance metrics to work out core usage and performance
metrics, and will need to have show test results of how well content can be found, the
results of research and user testing, an improved search engine and API for Wikipedia
searches, a public-facing dashboard of the core metrics used in product development, and a
sample prototype based on a small dataset.
So basically, 6 months means that by midway through this month, we will see all of these
deliverables. Could someone please advise us how this is proceeding? I’d imagine that we
should at least be able to see the dashboard by now, but I’m curious to find out more
about the research that’s been conducted and the results of the user testing performed.
Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including
one with a longer grant period , so this isn't a particularly bold
step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
we won't be doing anything beyond that.”
I’m in complete agreement. The Knight Foundation I’m sure feels the same way. Sadly, that
is definitely NOT the point I was making. From what I can tell, the Knight Foundation was
given an application for increasing mobile access to those on lower end, less well powered
devices. This has been a rousing success, and from what I can tell (as I can’t see the
grant application anywhere) achieved every one of the criteria that were specified by the
That’s very different than saying, however, that we will be making an Internet search
engine, building up a team within the WMF, and then pivoting the direction from what was
That is not to say that this process was managed well
-- obviously it
wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
Street any day now. 
If I hear about any weaponized Roombas in Wikimedia Australia I’ll be sure to advise
Personally, I think the idea of an open search engine is great. I think it should be
largely based on Wikimedia projects, but the whole idea has a lot of merit. The
governance, as I have said a number of times, and debacle about how various people have
been treated and the loss of trust within the wider community due to closed an opaque
processes, and abusive comments from the top of Wikimedia management, have made what
*should* be a positive and lasting project into an absolute nightmare. We’ve lost an ED
and a trusted member of the Board already, and a steady exit of very good staff.
- see page 2 and 3.