[Foundation-l] Putting the Foundation back in WMF

SJ Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Thu Nov 22 01:58:56 UTC 2007


On Fri, 16 Nov 2007, Lars Aronsson wrote:

> there, as a reserve for future meager years?  If the interest rate
> is 4% then a fund which is 25 times bigger than the budget can
> support it in whole for ever.  But even a smaller fund might be a
> good help.  Should donors be given the option of giving to the
> current budget or giving to the fund?  Has this been discussed?

This does come up from time to time.  It is tremendously important. 
Being able to choose to give to a limited fund or trust for core 
sustenance would be a great thing.

I would fundraise aggressively for a trust to support core Wikipedia 
sustenance for the next century.  [ditto for a supporting trust for 
public.resource.org -- Carl Malamud, call your office.]

As it stands, I am anxious that we don't talk every season about reserves 
and contingencies.  When I had limited input into budg discussions in 2004 
and 2005, I cared primarily that reserves were always budgeted for and 
that they increased over time.  I have no idea whether this has continued...
back then we were targeting a reserve to cover 3 months of operating 
expenses, as a bare minimum.  It hadn't yet reached that mark by the
time quarterly budget details stopped being transparent.

Having a proper trust set up would be far better.  But this takes work
to cleanly define its scope and structure.

Two related tangents :

  * we as a community should be able to bring down the cost of core 
maintenance each year, through innovations in technology and the good will 
of dozens of global partners; making our collective work as robust as 
possible to bankruptcy, war, greed, and other human quirks.  Focusing on
what that core costs may help highlight good work in this area.

  * true robustness requires maintaining and caring about reliable full and 
incremental dumps.  image and full-history en dumps are hard to come by 
these days... and these immediate issues receive much less air time than 
discussions of new R&D (which are more exciting as news; there's nothing 
very exciting about spectacular uptime and trouble-free maintenance).


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