[Foundation-l] Status of 2009 Fundraiser Survey

Gregory Kohs thekohser at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 14:34:58 UTC 2009

eia says:

I'm sorry, but at least in your e-mail you mainly make a lot of
statements that I can imagine are worded in such a way that they don't
really ask for a reply, and one rethorical question. So if you want
information, I suggest you try to put your questions down a little
more constructively and maybe consider asking the right people


Part of your advice ("asking the right people directly") is sound, and
that's why I reached out on November 14 to Rand Montoya via personal
e-mail.  I received no response.  The only constructive response I've
received since August was from Jpilisuk who said, "Entering the survey in 11
languages is taking much longer than anticipated".  My reaction was that 3
or 4 languages would have covered about 98% of the possibly meaningful
respondent base, even if some donors would have to navigate the survey in
their second language.  Don't you think for this survey, it would have been
better to field it in 2009 before the fundraising began, in English, French,
Chinese, and Spanish, than to be stuck translating it into 11 languages
(that weren't even seriously discussed publicly, as I recall) and missing
the 2009 window entirely?  As the project currently stands, the whole thing
is being held up because we're waiting on translations into Arabic, Malay,
Occitan, and Taiwanese.  Plus, we're waiting for proofreading of the
translated versions in Catalan, Czech, Danish, German, Spanish, French,
Italian, Japanese, Dutch, and Polish.

These were executive decisions, I assume.  I strongly disagree with the
emphasis that was placed -- as late as August 2009 -- on conducting a
pre-fundraising campaign survey that would first be translated into 8 to 11
different languages.  I do seek a reply, and my question is not rhetorical.

What I've witnessed is a fairly major research initiative come off the
rails, I've asked when we might get it back on track, and the response has
been pure silence.  Literally, no response at all to repeated requests for
information, in multiple venues (e-mail, Meta, and Foundation-l).  And your
concern is that my request didn't sound constructive enough?

One constructive recommendation I have is this:

When asked a question, try to respond to it, even if the response is "I
don't know; but here's how you might help me at this juncture."

Lately, I have been seeing multiple examples of initiatives launched, but
then fizzled out, even after significant contribution from waves of
volunteers.  Examples?  The Greenspun illustration project.  Flagged
revisions implementation on English Wikipedia.  Release of Episode 45 on
Wikivoices.  And now this 2009 Fundraising Survey.

Future volunteers will look back on these abortive efforts and likely ask
themselves, "Do I really want to commit my time and resources to this new
Project XYZ, if previous projects seem to come undone so regularly?"

You can apologize all you want ("I'm sorry..."), effe, but where I come
from, in my two decades plus experience in business operations, it is better
to respond to questions about projects that are off-track, than to simply
clam up and fail to provide any answer at all.  Especially when the person
asking has already dedicated many hours to help further the success of said
project.  My asking is not just a voice from left field -- I have sweat
equity invested in the 2009 Fundraising Survey.  I want to be assured that
it's not abandoned.

There is a possibility that this post will be rejected by the list
moderators.  That's why I've copied others at the Wikimedia Foundation, so
that if it is rejected, they can see that the censorship of this problem is
quite possibly systemic.

Gregory Kohs

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