[Foundation-l] September Report to the Board of Trustees

James Owen jowen at wikimedia.org
Thu Jan 28 19:41:13 UTC 2010

Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

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

1. Recruitment begins for Chief Technical Officer and Chief  
Development Officer
2. 2009 Fundraiser planning begins
3. Strategy project launches Call For Participation
4. Usability team expanded
5. Bookshelf project for public outreach resources launched

1. Begin interviewing Chief Technical Officer candidates
2. Planning for 2009 Fundraiser continues (launches November)
3. Strategy Project task forces kick off
4. Semi-annual All Staff Meeting October 21-23
5. Office moves to 149 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco


Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:
326 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+19.8% (1 year ago) / +6% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:
11.4 billion
+11.7% (1 year ago) / +5.1% (1 month ago)

Active number of editors (5+ edits/month):
+2.3% (1 year ago) / -2.5% (one month ago)
Source: September 2009 Report Card <http://stats.wikimedia.org/reportcard/RC_2009_09_detailed.html 


Operating revenue year to date: USD 1.1MM vs. plan of USD 1.1MM
Operating expenses year to date: USD 1.6MM vs plan of USD 2.6MM.
Unrestricted cash on hand as of October 22 was USD 6.0MM.


September marked the formal launch of the strategy planning process.  
In mid-September, a Call for Participation from Jimmy Wales and  
Michael Snow appeared at the top of all Wikimedia sites, encouraging  
people to volunteer to participate in strategy development task  
forces, which will be responsible for digging deeper into the key  
questions facing Wikimedia. The key questions include how to grow  
readership and participation in geographies where Wikimedia projects  
are under-performing (e.g., China, India, the Arabic-speaking  
countries); how to make Wikimedia project material available to the  
five billion people who don't yet have access to the internet; how to  
convert readers into participants and improve the diversity and  
general health of the Wikimedia movement, and how to enable Wikimedia,  
as a social and political movement, to best shape and influence public  
perception and public policy, internationally.

The Call for Participation resulted in almost 3,000 applications from  
a wide variety of people, including active project participants and  
readers from many projects and languages. A selection committee  
carefully reviewed all applications, and in October will begin to  
populate the task forces with the applicants who seem most  
appropriate. Almost 30% of applicants committed to volunteering over  
10 hours a week, indicating a strong desire to help and engage in this  

Meanwhile, in September, overall engagement on the strategy wiki  
continued to grow. The strategy wiki now contains almost 6,000 pages  
of content in more than 50 languages. Over 600 people have contributed  
to the wiki.

Also in September, the Bridgespan Group continued to add data and  
analysis to the strategy wiki in support of the task forces, and also  
conducted a number of in-depth interviews with Wikimedia Foundation  
Board members, Advisory Board members, staff, other supporters and  
experts. Thus far, interviewees have included Board members Ting Chen,  
Samuel Klein and Jimmy Wales, Advisory Board members Angela Beesley  
Starling, Ward Cunningham, Clay Shirky, Achal Prabhala, Florence  
Nibart-Devouard, Teemu Leinonen, Benjamin Mako Hill, Roger McNamee,  
Melissa Hagemann, Mitch Kapor, Neeru Khosla, Wayne Mackintosh and  
Ethan Zuckerman. Other interviews were conducted with Ed Chi,  
researcher at Palo Alto Research Center, Eric Goldman, Santa Clara  
University law professor and researcher, Rima Kupryte, from eIFL  
(Electronic Information for Libraries), Andrew Lih, author of The  
Wikipedia Revolution, Mike Linksvayer, Vice President of Creative  
Commons, Misiek Piskorski, Harvard Business School professor and  
researcher, Jennifer Riggs, former Chief Program Officer for the  
Wikimedia Foundation, Joseph Reagle, researcher into open source  
communities, Matt Thompson, Online Community Manager at the Knight  
Foundation and Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United  
States. The following staff have also been interviewed: Mike Godwin,  
General Counsel, Véronique Kessler, Chief Financial and Operating  
Officer, Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving, Frank Schulenburg,  
Head of Public Outreach, Brion Vibber, Chief Technical Officer, Tim  
Starling, software developer, Kul Wadhwa, Head of Business  
Development, Jay Walsh, Head of Communications, Erik Zachte, Data  
Analyst, and Sue Gardner, Executive Director. All interview notes can  
be found here: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Interviews


In September, Brion Vibber announced he will be leaving the Wikimedia  
Foundation in October to take a role as open-microblogging developer  
with StatusNet. Brion has agreed to stay with the Wikimedia Foundation  
one day per week until the end of 2009, and he will continue to be  
involved with Wikimedia as a volunteer developer in future. He will  
also help to recruit his successor.

The technology team worked on Flagged Revisions testing configurations  
for the English Wikipedia, these configurations are now live and  
receiving testing and feedback on http:// 

Supported by a general software update, the Technology team also  
rolled out Localisation Update which will keep user interface  
translations up to date with daily changes from TranslateWiki. This is  
expected to accelerate localisation activity by ensuring updates are  
consistent even if software upgrades are delayed.

The technology team began a decommissioning process for old servers  
which are no longer under warranty and are more expensive to run than  
the newer and more energy-efficient replacement servers. The  
Foundation hopes to make the retired servers available to other non- 
profit organizations that could use the hardware.

Tomasz Finc began working on an arrangement to make the full-text data  
dumps available in Amazon's Public Data Sets for EC2 users. These will  
be kept up to date over time, and will be available alongside existing  
processed data sets from Freebase.

The ProofreadPage extension used by Wikisource received an update  
which includes improved indexing of scanned pages.


One full-time software developer consultant, two part-time software  
developer consultants, and one part-time interface design consultant  
joined the Usability team in September. Adam Miller joined the  
Usability team as a full-time software development consultant bringing  
strong front-end web development skills. Adam was recently with the  
Babarian Group as a lead web developer and led overhauling of Red  
Bull1's 1000+ web properties including internationalization of the  
sites. http://heyadammiller.com/ Yaron Koren, MediaWiki volunteer  
developer and the creator of the Semantic Forms, joined the team as  
part-time consultant. Yaron will work on a first specification for an  
XML schema to describe template structures, allowing for automated  
form UI generation and form-based data entry. He will also work on a  
first proof-of-concept implementation of form-based data-entry for  
MediaWiki based on this XML schema. http://yaronkoren.com/ Ryan Lane,  
a long-time MediaWiki development volunteer, joined the team as a part- 
time system administrator consultant. Ryan contributed various  
MediaWiki extensions, such as LDAP authentication, smooth gallery and  
others. Ryan is a full-time employee of Naval Oceanographic Office at  
Stennis Space Center, but his work schedule allows him to work on the  
usability project on Fridays. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Ryan_lane 
  Hannes Tank, the former designer intern of the usability team  
rejoined the team as a part-time interface design consultant. Hannes  
is a graduate student of the Muthesius Academy of Arts in Kiel,  
Germany. He worked on redesign of Wikipedia as a school project in  
2008. http://hannestank.de/wikipedia/english_about.html As of  
September 12th, over 173,000 visitors and editors tried out the beta  
and 134,000 people continued using the beta. The average beta  
retention rate was roughly 77% and the retention rate for English  
Wikipedia was 82%. The next step is to analyze the survey data to  
identify language specific usability issues. More details about the  
beta status is found at the WMF blog on this topic. http://blog.wikimedia.org/2009/09/14/usability-beta-status/ 
  The second usability release, Babaco, was released to production on  
September 30th. The major features of this release are; 1) Navigable  
Table of Contents, which allows editors to jump to the start of each  
section in the article, 2) Dialogues for inserting internal and  
external links, and 3) Find and Replace feature. These features are  
available in user preferences. More details about Babaco release can  
be found in the tech blog post. http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2009/10/babaco-is-ready-for-tasting/3 
  Planning continued on the second usability study. The focus of the  
second round study will be the evaluation of all user interface  
changes made so far. The study size is eight participants in total and  
the study will be conducted at a research facility in San Francisco in  
early October. For the multimedia usability project funded by the Ford  
Foundation, we received good numbers of applications for the product  
management position and three promising candidates were interviewed.  
The interviews for Product Manager has been concluded and the  
background check has started. As for the applications to the software  
development position, the screening is taking place and interviews  
will be scheduled in October.

Sue announced the departure of Jennifer Riggs as the Foundation's  
Chief Program Officer. Sue and the Foundation's staff thanked Jennifer  
for her contributions. During her term with the Foundation Jennifer  
helped the Wikimedia improve in some important ways. She helped Frank,  
Cary, and Jay structure their work, and she supported the staging of  
the U.S. National Institute of Health's Wikipedia Academy, managed the  
chapters grants process, and represented Wikimedia at the GLAM-Wiki  
conference in Australia. Over the next few months, Sue will review and  
refine the CPO job description, and begin recruitment.

In September, the Foundation hired Marlita Kahn as project manager for  
the Bookshelf Project. Marlita comes to Wikimedia from Design Media,  
where, as Senior Project Manager, she created and guided the product  
design and content development for a large number of customers. Among  
her projects were a product set targeted to educators and general  
public for California State Capitol Museum that won the International  
Web Page Award (2002), "Concepts of Biology", a high school biology  
full year multimedia curriculum product and a 3D stereoscopic film  
commemorating the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire using  
historic imagery and original 3D animation, script and surround sound  
that won the Silver and Bronze Telly Awards (2007). Prior to her work  
at Design Media, Marlita worked as a Managing Director for the  
Internet Archive, the non-profit digital library founded in 1996 by  
internet entrepreneur and activist Brewster Kahle. She managed the  
Archive from start-up and led the development of its five-year  
strategic plan. Marlita is fluent in Spanish and holds a Master's  
Degree in English Literature from the University of California at  

With the hiring of Marlita, the Foundation launches its Bookshelf  
Project which aims to create a core set of awareness/engagement/ 
training high-quality resources that can be used to recruit new and  
diverse participation. When complete, the bookshelf is intended to  
serve as a core set of instructional materials, to be translated,  
adapted and used for multiple purposes by volunteers, chapters, and  
educational institutions such as schools and universities.

Also in September, Frank embarked upon exploring new ways of  
affiliating with the Wikimedia movement by developing the "WikiPods"  
concept <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiPods>. WikiPods are groups  
of Wikimedia fans and enthusiasts working together in local teams  
(your campus, your town, etc) to help advocate, promote, enrich and  
otherwise improve Wikipedia or other projects of the Wikimedia  

Also in September, Kathrin Jansen, Volunteer Project Lead of the Best  
Practices series on Meta, and her team focused on a step-by-step  
instruction on how to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool, which is  
available at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Best_practices_in_assigning_Wikipedia_articles_as_coursework_to_students 

And, Frank launched an informal speaker series aimed at providing a  
space for staff to learn, talk and brainstorm together. The first  
guest speaker, scheduled for early October, will be Danny Horn from  
Wikia, talking about Wikia's WYSIWYG feature. Future speakers will  
include Ed Chi, researcher at PARC, and Jack Herrick, founder of  

Also in September, Cary Bass launched the first IRC “office hours.”  
IRC office hours are weekly meetings on the Freenode IRC channel  
#wikimedia-office, at a standard set time, with one "special guest"  
from the Foundation staff at each meeting, aimed at providing a  
opportunity for volunteers to engage casually with staff members in  
real time. The first guest was Executive Director Sue Gardner,  
followed by Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving.


Major coverage during September revolved around the following stories:

1. Wikimania follow up, coverage in Argentina (Early Sept)
Numerous Spanish publications, most based in Argentina, published long- 
lead stories that were developed during Wikimania in Buenos Aires.  
Many included interviews with Jimmy Wales and Richard Stallman.

More Flagged Revs coverage in Time + much follow up (September 28)
Coverage of Flagged Revs and Ed Chi's research into stagnating  
participation on Wikimedia projects continued in September with  
several Time.com stories by journalist Farhad Manjoo and others. The  
stories named Wikipedia as one of the “sites we can't live without,”  
and expressed concerns about growing behind-the-scenes  
bureaucratization and community dysfunction. Follow-up coverage  
(including an U.S. National Public Radio story and others) echoed  
those same themes.

3. Polanski article causes mainstream media stir (September 30)
Media attention around director Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland  
spilled into the film-maker's Wikipedia article later in September,  
focusing on discussion among editors about how to best incorporate the  
arrest into the Polanski article. Some inaccurate coverage suggesting  
the page 'lock' is due to charges the director faces.

Other worthwhile reads:

During September, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews  
with Wired.com (San Francisco, California, USA); Technology Review  
(Cambridge Massachusetts, USA); San Jose Mercury News (San Jose,  
California, USA); Agence France Presse (Oakland, California, USA);  
Business Week (New York City, New York, USA); BBC Television (New York  
City, New York, USA); Al Jazeera (New York City, New York, USA); New  
Jersey Law Journal (Newark, New Jersey, USA); Queen's University  
Journal (Kingston, Ontario, Canada); Time Magazine (San Francisco,  
California, USA); New York Post (New York City, New York, USA); Slate  
magazine (New York City, New York, USA), and the Canadian Press  
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

During September, Jay continued working on the communications campaign  
with Fenton Communications. Fenton spent much of August and early  
September undertaking a research phase with staff and stakeholders,  
during which they spoke with Board members, Advisory Board members,  
and members of the staff, as well as Wikimedia volunteers and readers.  
Through this work, the team developed a first draft of messaging  
tactics that will inform both the annual giving campaign and  
Wikimedia's general communications activities. Through the rest of  
September, the Fenton team worked with Jay and Rand on carrying out  
notes and refining concepts for presentation in October, prior to the  
November fundraiser launch.


The Wikimedia Foundation received 1,020 donations in September  
totaling approximately USD 48,503. Year-to-date, the Foundation has  
raised USD 467,369 in fundraising related revenue, 7% of the annual  
goal of USD 7,500,000.

In September, recruiting firm m/Oppenheim interviewed Sue, the  
fundraising team and other staff, several Board and Advisory Board  
members, as well as some key donors and stakeholders, in order to  
develop the job description for the new Chief Development Officer, and  
create an initial list of about 30 potential candidates and  
connectors. The job is expected to be posted in October, and the  
position is open until filled: it will likely come to fruition in  
December 2009.

Also in September, Development Associate Anya Shyrokova was promoted  
to the new position of Stewardship Associate, handling the needs of  
under-$500 donors, as well as cultivating and stewarding $500 to $10K  
donors. Her former position, focused on managing Wikimedia's open  
source donor database and handling donor and prospect research and  
tracking, was posted on the Wikimedia Foundation website: the search  
for her replacement is expected to wrap up in October.

Rand Montoya continued working towards the 2009 Annual Fundraiser,  
planned to launch in November. He also launched new functionality  
allowing people in the United States to donate via mobile phone, which  
will be integrated into Wikipedia's mobile gateway. See http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Mobile_Giving 
  for more information.

Rebecca Handler traveled to New York City to meet with donors and  
prospects prior to the launch of the annual campaign. During her trip,  
Rebecca represented the Wikimedia Foundation at a dinner hosted by  
Queen Rania and a number of other influential women. During September,  
Rebecca also continued meeting with prospective donors to secure  
funding for a new data center.


In September, the Wikimedia Foundation announced it had successfully  
concluded its search for new office space, and that it would be moving  
to 149 New Montgomery Street on October 16. The move was approved as  
part of the 2009-10 annual plan, and in August Office Manager Daniel  
Phelps had begun leading a highly collaborative staff search process.  
In mid-September, the Foundation formally selected 149 New Montgomery  
Street as its new location, and Daniel spent the remainder of the  
month finalizing lease terms, overseeing construction, and planning  
towards the move. Daniel also announced in September that, although  
the Wikimedia Foundation had originally tried to keep its initial San  
Francisco address private in order to protect the staff from stalkers  
and gawkers, it had since rethought that practice. Going forward, the  
Wikimedia Foundation will openly publish its physical location.

Bill Gong and Veronique Kessler spent much of their month working with  
the external audit firm KPMG to review the Foundation's financial  
records and statements in preparation for their public release. The  
fieldwork portion of the audit was completed in September, and the  
final audit report is expected to be released in November.

At the request of the Audit Committee and with the support of other  
staff, Veronique began development of an analysis of key risks facing  
the Wikimedia projects, including in the areas of financial and  
organizational sustainability, technology, reputation, community, and  
the external environment. The preliminary draft suggests that the most  
significant and/or likeliest risks facing Wikimedia include stagnation  
of participation in the Wikimedia projects, a lack of technical  
innovation, failure of the Wikimedia movement to develop sustainable  
and essential organizational structures to support its work, a lack of  
participation in developing countries, editorial scandal damaging  
Wikipedia's reputation, competitor sites eroding our readership, a  
plateauing of donations, and risk of a fundamental shift to our legal  
context (e.g., transformative change to the U.S. Communications  
Decency Act). Once the 2008-09 audited financial statements are  
approved by the Audit Committee, Veronique will present to it the most  
important risks facing us, and the Wikimedia Foundation's current  
mitigation strategy for each one.


In September, the Wikimedia Foundation won a Uniform Domain-Name  
Dispute-Resolution Policy (URDP) claim, winning the rights to two  
domains based on variant spellings of Wikipedia. Mike Godwin also  
initiated responses to two defamation lawsuits brought against  
Wikipedia in the United States, and investigated possible responses to  
a court order imposed on the Foundation in Germany. Additionally, Mike  
offered assistance to Wikimedia Italia in their legal dispute by  
offering to provide evidence to an Italian court that Wikimedia Italia  
is not a division or agent of the Wikimedia Foundation.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list