[Foundation-l] Report to the Board August 2009

Sue Gardner sgardner at wikimedia.org
Thu Oct 15 02:02:06 UTC 2009

Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

Covering: August 2009
Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

* Engagement of recruiters to fill new positions and vacancies: Chief
Development Officer, vacant Board “expertise” seat, and Chief
Technical Officer
* Wikimania 2009: scholarships finalization, staff attendance and
presentation preparations, preparations for board meeting
* Soft-launch of the Strategic Planning Project

* Strategic Development Process
* Communications Campaign Kick-off
* Finalization of Office Move details
* Meetings with donor prospects



In August 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation sites held steady as the
fifth most-popular web property in the world with 307 million global
unique visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix.


The fifth annual Wikimedia conference, Wikimania 2009, took place in
Buenos Aires, Argentina from August 26 to 28. The conference hosted
more than 500 Wikimedians and supporters from around the world. Talks
and workshops gave attendees new insights into the Wikimedia projects,
other free knowledge efforts, and the challenges and opportunities
facing the movement.

Wikimania 2009 was attended by 57 Wikimedians on scholarships funded
by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, Wikimedia Germany, the Open
Society Institute and the Wikimedia Foundation. The dollar value of
those scholarships totalled approximately USD 100,000. This
represented huge growth from Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria, which a
total of nine people attended via scholarships, funded by OSI and
totalling USD 10,000. More on the scholarships process later in this

Twenty Wikimedia Foundation staff traveled to Buenos Aires to
participate at Wikimania. Staff who attended were: Brion Vibber, Cary
Bass, Erik Moeller, Erik Zachte, Eugene Eric Kim, Frank Schulenburg,
James Owen, Jay Walsh, Jennifer Riggs, Kul Takanao Wadhwa, Mark
Bersgma, Naoko Komura, Nimish Gautam, Philippe Beaudette, Rand
Montoya, Rob Halsell, Sara Crouse, Sue Gardner, Tim Starling and
Tomasz Finc. Staff participated in the conference as workers (e.g.,
supporting the Board meeting and press conference), as panelists,
workshop leaders and speakers, and as participants. At the close of
the conference, Sue gave a keynote talk on the Wikimedia Foundation:
The Year in Review and The Year Ahead. In it, she focused on some of
the challenges facing Wikimedia, including flagging participation
trends and a need for more openness and friendliness to new people,
and pointed to the strategy project as a way for all Wikimedians to
participate in charting our course for the next five years.

The following presentations were given by Foundation staff members
(see links for videos and, in most cases, slides):

The Year in Review and the Year Ahead - Sue Gardner

NIH Wikipedia Academy 2009 - Frank Schulenburg and Jay Walsh:

Wikimedia Technical Infrastructure - Rob Halsell

Scaling Up the Wikimedia Movement - Erik Moeller

What can Wikimedia learn from the Red Cross? - Jennifer Riggs

Wikimedia in Numbers - Erik Zachte

Collaborative Video on Wikipedia - Michael Dale

Wikipedia Usability Initiative - Naoko Komura

Documenting best practices in public outreach - Frank Schulenburg

The Wikimedia tech community organized a separate "codeathon" running
in parallel to the main event. See the summary provided by Brion
Vibber here:

Related blog post by Domas:

Note the generally excellent video coverage of Wikimania 2009, thanks
to the local team, who received some help from the Wikimedia tech
community to get the videos to Commons. Additional videos can be found


The Wikimedia Foundation expresses its heartfelt appreciation to the
local planning team, and everyone else who helped make Wikimania 2009
such a successful and enjoyable event.


In August, the Strategic Planning Project soft-launched with a Call
For Proposals asking Wikimedians to develop and share proposals aimed
at helping the movement better achieve its goals. Since then, over 350
proposals were submitted on the strategy wiki, all of which have been
categorized and many of which have been actively discussed and
revised. Eugene, Philippe and three members of the Bridgespan Group
attended Wikimania, where they participated in the conference, made
several presentations to the Board of Trustees, supported Jimmy in
development of his keynote talk, staged a strategy lunch with
Wikimedians, and interviewed Advisory Board members and other key
stakeholders such as donors and researchers. Following Wikimania, the
number of registered users and edits on the strategy wiki skyrocketed,
and the wiki has seen significantly increased activity.

See the list of proposals here:

The Bridgespan Group released an early summary of its fact base
research, here: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fact_base

It includes data and analysis in the following areas:

* Data and analysis of Wikimedia project participants: by segment,
past growth trends, future growth trends, drivers of participation,
attracting new participants and retaining existing ones.

* Data and analysis of Wikimedia project readers: who is currently
using Wikimedia and why; barriers that exist in accessing Wikimedia
projects and understanding why people who have access to Wikimedia
projects choose not to use them

* Regional and language version data and analysis covering East Asia,
South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa,
Southeast Asia and Europe.

* Data and analysis about Wikimedia project content: what is the
content landscape in which it operates, sources of content by type and
category, relevant trends in content and content sourcing (e.g.,
digital textbooks), current penetration by category, sources of
existing content, initiatives currently underway or planned, options
for expanding content scope, potential partnerships and alliances
(content institutions, educational institutions, libraries, online
encyclopedias), resource requirements and funding availability,
benefits and/or risks

* Data and analysis about Wikimedia project quality: what is the
quality landscape in which Wikimedia operates, quality criteria (e.g.
accurate, credible, complete, neutral), audience/stakeholder
expectations (including online context), changes/trends over time,
Wikimedia's perceived versus actual quality, key challenges (e.g.,
translations), comparisons to relevant benchmarks. What quality
control/assurance initiatives are already in place, or are being
tested by Wikimedia and the community, what approaches to quality
control/assurance could Wikimedia consider to improve actual and
perceived quality, what is the potential impact of these quality
control/assurance approaches, and where are the most salient
intersections between content and quality.

In September, the strategy project team will launch a formal Call for
Participation to engage a broader audience.


In August, Brion Vibber, Chief Technical Officer since 2005 and first
employee of the Wikimedia Foundation, announced his decision to shift
his focus towards software architecture, creating a vacancy in the
Chief Technical Officer role, which will be re-defined into a senior
management role. A new CTO is hoped to be placed before the end of the
year, and the Wikimedia Foundation will be supported by the Walker
Talent Group on a pro-bono basis in the search process.

A mobile wrapper application for the iPhone was launched and made
available for free through the iTunes store. We're focusing most of
our attention on the browser-based mobile gateway, but this is an
additional method to provide quick access to Wikipedia.

Initial test sites were set up for the proposed FlaggedRevs English
Wikipedia configuration, and for the ReaderFeedback extension which
allows rating scores to be assigned to pages by readers. The
ReaderFeedback tool was also deployed on the newly created Strategic
Planning wiki to support the systematic assessment of community

The Wikimedia Foundation continues to support the CiviCRM development
community, not only through funding and project-managing open source
development work critical to Wikimedia's own fundraising needs, but
also by helping to put together local meetups and by sharing
experiences with other non-profits. In August, another CiviCRM meetup
took place, with space provided by Wikia: http://civicrm.org/node/611


In January, the Wikimedia Foundation received a grant of $100,000 from
Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox web browser, to improve
the technological foundations of open video standards for the web. The
grant was passed through to contractors doing this development work,
with minimal administrative overhead. In the course of the grant,
contractor Timothy Terriberry developed a much improved Theora
encoder. These improvements made Theora more competitive with
proprietary codecs.

Contractor Viktor Gal maintained the liboggplay library making
performance, stability and security enhancements necessary for using
the library in the Firefox browser. Contractor Conrad Parker worked on
security, and seeking performance enhancements to the base Ogg
libraries. These developments contributed to the successful launch of
Firefox 3.5 that included Og Theora video support via the HTML5


The first usability release, Acai, was made available through user
preferences on July 1st. A set of enhancements was deployed to Acai
and it was enabled as the beta release from “Try Beta” link on the top
of every Wikimedia page on August 6th. Enhancements were; 1) proper
right-to-left language support, 2) integration of special characters
in the toolbar, and 3) warning message for unsaved edits. As of August
31st, over 100,000 people tried out the beta and 75% people continued
using the beta. Lifehacker and Mashable bloggers picked up the beta
and wrote positive reviews. The Mashable blog post was tweeted 191
http://lifehacker.com/5332258/try-out-wikipedias-new-look-in-beta Lifehacker
http://mashable.com/2009/08/07/wikipedia-redesign/ Mashable

Design refinement and development work for the next release, Babaco,
made good progress, and the prototypes of new features, navigable
table of contents and dialogues for links and tables are staged on the
usability prototype environment.

Calls for proposals for the second round usability study started.
Twelve usability study firms were contacted for proposals. Five
usability study firms responded and submitted their proposals. Among
all the proposals submitted, Bolt Peters, the usability study firm
which conducted the first usability study, was the most compelling in
terms of quality and price.

The quarterly report for the period from April to June was compiled
and submitted to the Stanton Foundation. The report included the
achieved milestones, perceived project issues, changes from initial
proposal, project spending, and reallocation of budget. The total
expenditure for the second quarter of the project, from April 1st to
June 30th, was $131,719 out of the allocated budget of $176,266, or
74% of the budgeted figure. The under-spending is primarily a result
of the open software development position.

Also in August, the Ford multimedia usability project began recruiting
a Product Manager and Software Developer. Job openings were posted on
the Wikimedia Foundation's job board and various major job boards such
as LinkedIn, Craigslist, etc. We reached out to active community
members at Wikimania to recruit volunteers.

Wikimédia France offered to fund a multimedia workshop to brainstorm
ideas for improving Wikimedia Commons from a technical and program
perspective. Coordination of the programs and the invitation list was
coordinated with the French Chapter. The workshop is scheduled early
November in Paris, France.

Initial discussion of the usability study for the multimedia usability
project has started and a few usability firms were reached out for
ideas and quotes.


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