[Foundation-l] Fundraising season launch

SJ Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Wed Oct 11 05:28:24 UTC 2006

We need a fund drive focused on robustness and reliability.

Discussion about what new projects to promote is important, but we still 
lack medium-term and long-term plans for making the most basic maintenance 
of the projects robust and self-sustaining.  There are serious puzzles and 
issues related to technical scalability, with theoretical solutions, which 
would benefit from more attention.  And part of robustness is robustness
under budget cuts.

Two+ years ago, I proposed five goals that I hoped the foundation would 
address.  One of these was developing an infrastructure that could support 
a thousand million hits a day with 99.9% uptime, in a self-sustaining 
fashion that only required $50k/yr and 1 full-time employee for upkeep.  

We are now close to a thousand million hits a day, with improving uptime; 
but have made little progress in slowing, not to mention reversing, the 
growth of annual upkeep (yahoo's kindness last spring has not yet become
the first of many).
I firmly believe that the foundation should be focusing on reducing the 
annual cost and complexity of running core operations, and that the 
Wikimedia server cluster needs an endowment.  This becomes more true 
when people within the community start to feel Wikipedia is 'old hat' 
and a solved problem, and become fixed on attacking new problems before
wrapping up that old one.  

Basic needs which an endowment could support:

* buying the most basic infrastructure: bandwidth, machines and other
hardware (that which cannot be / has not yet been donated)
* a project to work on the scalability and reliability of the WP
infrastructure (including the capacity to accept more distributed donations
of hardware and bandwidth)
* a project to pursue bandwidth and hardware/maintenance contributions.
With proper attention, considering our support in the tech community, we
should be able to eliminate these expenses -- and safeguard their 
continued coverage for the next five or ten years. 

On 10/9/06, Anthere <Anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:

>As an individual (not board member), I would like to ask if it were
>possible that the spin around the fundraising, focuses a bit on the
>other projects, perhaps the notion of virtual library, with the
>wikicommons and wikisource. We have the recent report of the german
>digitization to show up as an example as how we could push things
>forward in realm of digital libraries.

Creating a virtual library, by improving commons and wikisource, is great.
Focusing on the smaller projects, likewise.  But to make 'pushing things 
forward' the spin/goal of a fundraiser, when our current dreams & projects 
are not yet secure, may be like putting the cart before the horse.

Brad writes:
> If we have +/- 250 servers running now
> *and we double in traffic every four months
> *and the costs per server (for round number purposes, including racks,
> power, etc.) are $4000
> *we are talking about *starting* with a $1M computer order being
> fulfilled before March 1.
> If we add to that the next 500 computers, at the same rate, we are
> talking about a batch of $2M beyond that.  /me's head spins.

These are the most important and largest expenses at the moment, and growth
will not slow over the next few years unless we collectively fail.  But
rather than worrying about whether growth will level out, we should find 
ways to dispose of them.  

On 10/10/06, Anthere <Anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I am not favorable to the concept of making a joint fundraising with
> another organisation. As for OLPC, they were already part of our last
> press release in august...

I've never heard of a 'joint fundraising' with multiple groups; neither
do I see why WM should want such a thing.  Wikipedia in particular is a 
primal force of our networked society - sustaining its success is as 
lofty a fundraising goal as could be hoped for.  This is why we have
individuals making monthly $1000 contributions, even when there is no
fund drive.  The projects do not need to primp and showcase 'new' ideas 
or initiatives.  

What they need is clear articulation of their raison d'etre [WP is good 
about this; other projects less so], a good description of what is needed 
to sustain and propagate current success, and an explanation of how funds 
will help provide what is needed.

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