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

James Owen jowen at wikimedia.org
Thu Jan 28 19:43:39 UTC 2010

Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

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

1. Work begins on Multimedia Usability Project
2. Strategic Planning Task Forces Launch
3. Office move to 149 New Montgomery Street
4. Technology Staff and All Staff Meetings

1. (Ongoing) Chief Development Officer and Chief Technical Officer  
2. Kickoff of 2009 Annual Giving Campaign
3. Launch of Public Outreach Resources "Bookshelf" Project
4. Multimedia Workshop in Paris
5. First Board of Trustees meeting in new office


Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:
345 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+24.3% (1 year ago) / +5.7% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:
11.6 billion
+8.8% (1 year ago) / +1.9% (1 month ago)

Active number of editors (5+ edits/month):
+1.9% (1 year ago) / +3.4% (1 month ago)

Source: October 2009 Report Card


Operating revenue year to date: USD 2.4MM vs. plan of USD 1.7MM [1]
Operating expenses year to date: USD 2.2MM vs. plan of USD 3.5 million  
Unrestricted cash on hand as of November 11: USD 5.4MM

[1] Unanticipated early grant funding
[2] Delays in some large purchases


With the preliminary exploration and research phase wrapped up, the  
Strategic Planning team spent October transitioning into a deep dive  
exploration of critical, strategic questions.

In September, more than 3,000 people from inside and outside of the  
Wikimedia movement applied to participate in Wikimedia's strategic  
planning project. In October, the Task Force selection committee  
reviewed all 3,000 applications, and put together 14 task forces, each  
comprised of between four and eight members. Each of the Task Forces  
is exploring a specific topic, with the goal of eventually making two  
to four thoughtful recommendations aimed at the following areas:  
increasing reach and participation in China, India, and Arabic- 
speaking countries; stimulating development of smaller “local  
language” Wikipedias; increasing Wikimedia project readership among  
the five billion people who don't currently have internet access;  
improving quality; expanding into other content areas; increasing  
participation, particularly from high-potential under-represented  
groups; fostering a healthy, productive editing community; determining  
what organizational structures are required to support the Wikimedia  
movement and how they should intersect; ensuring financial  
sustainability; identifying the partnerships that are most critical to  
advancing Wikimedia's mission; identifying the ideal technology  
infrastructure, and ways to increase usability and foster technical  
innovation; and developing recommendations for strategically  
supporting high-priority advocacy.

The task forces are expected to finalize their recommendations by  
January 12. Meanwhile, all discussions are happening publicly on the  
strategy wiki, and everyone is invited to participate. The strategy  
wiki increased from 600 editors in September to 780 in October:


Other important strategy URLs:



Hiring has begun for the Code Maintenance Engineer position on the  
core engineering team, responsible for reviewing, integrating and  
deploying code, and advancing the overall MediaWiki development  

LiquidThreads, a complete overhaul of MediaWiki's discussion  
functionality, has been made available through a dedicated Wikimedia  
Labs site. The big picture here is that traditional wiki discussion  
require complex and atypical user interaction that make them difficult  
for new users to understand, and their lack of internal structure  
makes it harder to search or display them systematically.

Thanks to hard work by contract developer Andrew Garrett based on the  
initial code from David McCabe, LiquidThreads is now maturing to a  
point to become useful for specific discussion spaces in the Wikimedia  


Wikimedia set up a part-time contract with Siebrand Mazeland to  
support the further growth and development of translatewiki.net, a  
third party project used for the localization of MediaWiki and other  
open source projects. Thanks to translatewiki.net and its large  
community of volunteers, MediaWiki is one of the most actively  
localized software packages available:


Tomasz Finc made XML snapshots of Wikipedia data available through  
Amazon.com's Public Data Sets service, which will make it easier for  
researchers and community members to perform computationally expensive  


Some of the fruits of Michael Dale's labor on improving Wikimedia's  
rich media support can now be tested. This work is sponsored by  
Kaltura. The new features include easier search and embedding of media  
files, a new video player, and reliable uploading and transcoding of  
videos through the Firefogg extension for Mozilla Firefox:


The language support of the new mobile gateway (m.wikipedia.org) has  
dramatically increased, in large part thanks to the translatewiki.net  
community, and thanks to volunteer Derk-Jan Hartman, additional  
devices are now supported:


Former Wikimedia Foundation CTO Brion Vibber attended the SVG Open  
conference and gave a presentation on the use of the open vector  
graphics format in Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. Brion also learned  
about recent development in supporting SVG through Flash, and  
discussed the possibility of using this as a fallback mechanism in  
Wikimedia's projects.



During October, usage of the usability beta interface has doubled,  
with roughly 300,000 users trying the beta, and 235,000 of them  
sticking with it. The retention rate is highest in English (between 83  
and 95%), with retention lagging in German (70%) and Japanese (60%).  
Beta survey analysis has started revealing the causes for low  
retention rate for certain language wikis. The full beta analysis is  
close to be completed and will be publicly available in November. The  
English Wikinews project voted to adopt the new interface early:


The usability team conducted its second round of user tests in early  
October. The testing was conducted by Bolt Peters and featured eight  
participants in San Francisco, California. The goal was to evaluate  
whether the Beta program has successfully reduced barriers to  
participation. The study confirmed the positive impact of some of our  
changes, while also highlighting remaining user experience issues,  
particularly around complex mark-up and edit preview. A full report on  
the usability study by Parul Vora including the videos of the study is  
available at the Usability, Experience, and Progress Study page in the  
usability wiki: http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Usability,_Experience,_and_Progress_Study 
  To better support the usability work with data, we deployed the  
first use of click-tracking on the edit toolbar, which will tell us  
which buttons in the UI are being clicked, and which aren't: http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2009/10/click-tracking-on-edit-toolbar-deployed/ 
  In October, Guillaume Paumier joined the usability team as Product  
Manager of the Ford multimedia usability initiative, aimed at making  
it easier to upload files to Wikimedia Commons. Guillaume has been an  
active Wikimedia contributor since 2005, and served as a board member  
of the French chapter from 2007 to 2009. He also coordinated the all- 
chapters meeting in Berlin for the German chapter last April.  
Guillaume has a master's degree in nanotechnology from Institut  
national des Sciences appliquées and a PhD in microsystems for life  
sciences from Université Paul Sabatier, both in Toulouse, France.  
Guillaume will be working remotely as a consultant until his visa to  
work in the United States is approved. In his first weeks on the job,  
Guillaume conducted a user survey of Commons contributors. The goal  
was to collect basic data about how and why people use Commons. The  
survey was available from all Wikimedia websites for logged-in users,  
in twenty languages, and received over 25,000 responses. Its findings:  
Even among users who have accounts in Wikimedia projects, Wikimedia  
Commons is not very well known. 25% of respondents say they are not  
familiar with Commons, and only 37% participate in it. Those who  
participate say their purpose is to illustrate Wikipedia articles, or  
articles on other Wikimedia projects. Only 50% of participants had  
uploaded more than 10 media files to Commons. A detailed analysis of  
the survey is underway: http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Multimedia:Initial_survey

In October, Pete Forsyth joined the Wikimedia Foundation as  
Wikimedia's first Public Outreach Officer. Pete will support Frank  
Schulenburg, the Head of Public Outreach, in all the Foundation's  
public outreach activities, including development of educational  
outreach materials (Bookshelf Project), development of outreach- 
related grant proposals and the communication of volunteer-led  
outreach activities to a global audience. Pete's first priority will  
be to help Frank develop a proposal for a grant aimed at working with  
universities and other educational institutions, with the goal of  
improving article quality.

Frank attended the Wikipedia Academy on October 14 and 15, in Bergen,  
Norway: the first-ever Norwegian Wikipedia Academy. This was the third  
Wikipedia Academy of 2009. There have already been successful  
Academies this year in Tel Aviv, Israel and Bethesda, United States.  
There will be one more Academy this year, in Stockholm, Sweden, in  

Also in October, Frank launched the new outreach wiki (http://outreach.wikimedia.org 
). This wiki aims at serving as a knowledge collective and  
collaboration space, to be used by both the outreach team and  
Wikimedia editors who are interested in supporting outreach. The wiki  
currently hosts the planning and design documents for the Bookshelf  
Project and the “best practices documentation” project. Its audience  
is not new contributors: its purpose is to be a home for documentation  
and discussion of outreach activities aimed at bringing in new  

In October, Marlita Kahn, who runs the Bookshelf project, completed  
the project's strategic development plan, design document, wiki  
content, draft project schedule, and volunteer recruitment strategy.  
She also began the hiring process for the project's writer and visual  
designer. Because there are obvious linkages and interdependencies  
between the bookshelf and usability projects, Marlita also began  
coordination meetings with the usability team.

Cary Bass attended the WikiSym conference in Orlando, Florida, where  
he met with researchers . He also met with Wikimedian and longtime  
Wikimania planner Phoebe Ayers to discuss the bidding process for  
Wikimania 2011. Cary also staged IRC office hours with Mike Godwin and  
Kul Wadhwa, initiated the fundraising translations for the fundraiser  
and assisted and advised the English Wikipedia arbitration committee  
on several user-related matters.


In October, Moka Pantages was hired as the Foundation's first  
Communications Officer. Moka most recently worked with the Seoul  
Broadcasting Services (one of the top 4 radio/TV broadcasters in South  
Korea) in program and community development. She holds a Masters of  
Art Degree from Yonsei University. Previously, Moka held positions at  
PR firms Porter Novelli and Ruder Finn, and the Black Leadership  
Council. She also did an internship with the United States Senate.

Throughout October, the communications department worked in  
conjunction with the fundraising team and with Fenton Communications,  
to create marketing materials for the Annual Giving Campaign,  
including development of messaging and collateral (fundraising appeal  
letter, banner copy, usability study and improvements to main donation  
landing page). The team also worked with Fenton Communications to  
develop a draft social media and public relations strategy, and QA/FAQ  
for the campaign, as well as a plan to carry 'credibility' focused  
initiatives through 2010, including updated plans for a WMF video,  
story-telling publication, and speaking/media initiatives.

Major coverage during October revolved around the following stories:

1. OpenMoko's WikiReader takes center stage (late October)
Tech and IT media around the world responded to OpenMoko's release of  
the handheld WikiReader device through October. Most coverage  
applauded the idea of a WikiReader-type device; some criticized  
aspects of its interface, and its lack of live realtime access to  


2. Google tweaks Custom Search for Wikipedia (October 26)
In late October Google announced improvements to Google Custom Search,  
including better customized search functions for Wikipedia. The new  
search function was developed with deep community feedback and  
support, using Wikipedia's open-API to provide improved results.


Also in October, the Huffington Post named Wikimedia Foundation  
Executive Director Sue Gardner one of its ten media “game changers” of  
2009. “Drawing on the Wikimedia Foundation's mission of bringing free  
knowledge to everybody, executive director Gardner is overseeing a  
strategic plan to broaden access to Wikipedia’s vast storehouse of  
information. Her battle plan: making Wikipedia easier to use and  
available to more people worldwide,” says the Huffington Post.  
Huffington Post readers will now vote for their top game changer out  
of the ten nominees, and the winner will be announced in November.

Other worthwhile reads:


Blog posts through Oct, 2009:


Media activity through Oct, 2009:


During October, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews  
with the Bali Times (Bali, Indonesia); Washington Post (Washington,  
DC, USA); Huffington Post (New York, New York, USA); Associated Press  
(Philadelphia, PA, USA).


In October, the Wikimedia Foundation publicly posted its Chief  
Development Officer position. The Wikimedia Foundation is seeking an  
innovative development professional with a strong understanding of  
internet and traditional fundraising methods, to grow and diversify  
fundraising capacity. The search is being conducted by m/Oppenheim  
Associates: inquiries, nominations and résumés may be directed in  
confidence to: Lisa Grossman at lisag(at)moppenheim.com.

The Wikimedia Foundation received 1,044 donations in October, totaling  
approximately USD $54,642. Year-to-date, the Foundation has raised USD  
521,93 in donations, 7% of its annual goal of USD 7,500,000. This puts  
it slightly ahead of plan. In October, the Foundation also raised USD  
1,050,000 of restricted and unrestricted grants, bringing the total  
fundraising related revenue for the year to USD 2,067,905, 29% of the  
USD 9,297,000 goal.

Included in that total is a grant of USD 550,000 from the Stanton  
Foundation, to support the “bookshelf” project, hardware purchases,  
and initiatives designed to improve quality. This is the third major  
grant for Wikimedia from the Stanton Foundation: we are very grateful  
for its support.

In October, Rand Montoya continued to prepare for the 2009 Annual  
Campaign. (See Communications notes above.) In addition, Rand soft- 
launched the mobile giving campaign (http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Mobile_Giving 
) with a link on our mobile application encouraging people to text  
WIKI to 25383 to give $10 to Wikipedia via their mobile phone. With no  
real attempts to publicize it, this new feature is currently  
generating about $150 a day. Testing was underway on Wikimedia's new  
credit card processing gateway, which is expected to increaes  
donations from users unfamiliar with PayPal.

In October, Development Associate Anya Shyrokova was promoted to  
Stewardship Associate. In her new role, she will be manage and  
cultivate $500 to $10,000 donors. To replace her, Megan Hernandez has  
been hired as Development Associate. Megan recently graduated from the  
University of California San Diego with a degree in Human Development  
and a minor in Spanish Literature. She comes to Wikimedia with work  
experiences from the American Cancer Society and Mundo De Ninos  
Children's Shelter in Peru.

Rebecca Handler secured an unrestricted donation of USD 25,000 from  
the Harnisch Foundation, and worked on fundraising for the new data  


Kul Wadhwa oversaw the first product launches of Wikipedia in Orange  
in France, Spain and Poland, and the launch of Wikimedia on mobile in  
France. Kul is now assessing multiple initiatives and/or proposals for  
projects in Africa.

Kul and Tomasz Finc worked with memory device maker Kingston  
Technologies and offline reader developers Wikipock to create a new  
low-cost offline USB Wikipedia reader device. With the assistance of  
staff in the technology department Kul gathered and assessed technical  
and user feedback, discussed issues with community developers and  
assessed previous community initiatives in the offline reader space.  
Kul also created a cross-department working group, which is working  
with outside parties to develop an improved version that they hope  
will be ready for a retail test product launch by the first quarter of  


On October 15, the Wikimedia Foundation officially moved into its new  
office located at 149 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA.  
Special thanks went to Daniel Phelps for organizing and managing the  
move, and to Steve Kent, Rob Halsell, and Fred Vassard for ensuring  
the office server and other equipment were fully functional in the new  


Twice a year, the Wikimedia Foundation brings all staff to San  
Francisco for its semi-annual all-staff meeting. The second 2009  
meeting took place in October. At it, staff received coaching in  
giving and receiving feedback constructively, from facilitators from  
the Center for Creative Leadership, a global non-profit organization  
offering leadership training. The CCL facilitators also carried out  
exercises (the FIRO-B and change style indicator) aimed at helping  
staff better understand and better communicate with each other. Also,  
the technical team met for two days prior to the all-staff meeting,  
discussing operations planning, the software development roadmap, code  
deployment and review, and other issues.


Sara Crouse represented Wikimedia at a conference hosted by Lettera27  
(which supports WikiAfrica) at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio,  
Italy. The conference's focus was on reach and dissemination of  
knowledge - particularly on mobile platforms - in African countries.  
In attendance were representatives from NGOs in Africa, scholars and  
researchers, and innovators in the field of mobile technology. The  
relationships developed at this conference will help advance potential  
future partnerships in the region, and are proving to be valuable to  
the Strategic Planning process.

Sue Gardner attended the Sloan Foundation's 75th Anniversary event in  
New York City. The Sloan Foundation is Wikimedia's largest benefactor  
and an early supporter. Economists, luminaries, and foundation  
representatives participated in the event. Wikimedia is featured in a  
documentary and book about the Sloan Foundation, which were released  
for the occasion.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list