Response to Danny -
Our grant process, which is still in its infancy,
should respond to that. Our purpose is not to bolster some virtual playground, where
people can play around with their favorite topics.
Of course, this is totally in character with what funders are looking for. No one wants
to give money so that some random group of people can get together on the Internet. They
want to see bang for their buck (pardon the Americanism). They want to see that their
money is invested wisely in creating something. Any grant we receive will want to see some
outcome. They have a right to demand a product that is created as a result of their
funding. If not, they will not give funding.
Of course, grants are a great thing, but should we not be sure, before
accepting the grant, that this is a project we wish to proceed with?
Perhaps we need to have some agreed-upon outcomes, as far as applying
for grants go.
At this point, perhaps I should clarify regarding a
misconception in an earlier post. The NEH grant was not dropped because people opposed it.
We simply weren't ready for it this time around. I hope that next time we will be.
No, you're right. It was dropped because people thought we weren't
ready for it. There was no reason to outright oppose that one. Same
We are now in the process of requesting substantial
grant moneys. It is no exaggeration to say that the sums are of the six and seven digit
kind. That kind of money will empower us to do quite a lot. However, it also commits us to
doing what we promise.
Which is why we should be all the more sure that we're the community
agrees to moving in this direction.
I myself am opposed to open discussion of this
process. While this may sound un-wikilike, it is obvious to me that the discussion leading
up to grant proposals will be done in a casual, informal style. Things may be said that we
do not want the potential grant-givers to hear. If it is open to the kind of public debate
that is typical of Wikipedia, we are seriously endangering our chances of receiving those
I can understand the rationale behind this. Mav poses some good
solutions below, which would help things. However, if entirely new
projects are going to be started with no prior discussion, because
there was no consultation, don't be surprised when people like me
bitch about it.
I also believe that grants should be coordinated.
Grants involve making promises (that we can stick to). The grant process is not
panhandling. Uncoordinated grant applications could mean that six or seven people approach
a certain group (let's say UNESCO), asking for different things and making different
promises. It certainly impinges on our credibility, especially when some of those same
groups may well be coming to us at the same time (and yes, we have been approached by some
major charitable organizations). At the same time, we do not want to be seen as being in a
position of turning down grants and perhaps burning bridges with organizations in whose
good graces we will want to be, if only at a later date.
Not disputing this one - of course we need this.
Back to Wikijunior. An organization approached us. It
is a relationship we would like to foster. The objectives of their request clearly meet
our own goal of creating and disseminating knowledge. In fact, it is a wikibook (or series
of wikibooks) for a younger audience. I don't know when that idea was ever rejected,
and the fact is that people have shown quite a bit of enthusiasm for the idea. Obviously,
it needs some working out still. It is not a fork, just as Wiktionary or Anglo-Saxon are
not forks. It will be the same people working on the same material. I also believe that it
will benefit our other projects as well, both in terms of information offered and
dissemination. If anything, I would hope that people welcome the idea of developing
educational materials for younger children, whether they plan to work on them or not.
A WikiReader is not a fork, just as the Cryptology WikiReader is not a
fork. However, that (appears to be) not all that is being proposed. A
kiddipedia, in the same wiki editable form as Wikipedia, is most
definitely a fork. And that's why I have some problem with waking up
one morning and finding a message on goings-on "hey guys, we've
decided to start a new project which, up until now, had either not
been discussed or had been roundly voted down". This will be our third
English language encyclopedia, after en and simple. While I'm not
*necessarily* opposed, I'd still question if we really need this.