[Foundation-l] December 2009 Report to the Board of Trustees

James Owen jowen at wikimedia.org
Wed Mar 17 17:38:49 UTC 2010

Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

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

1.Annual Giving Campaign continues: record number of donations
2.New hires: Priyanka Dhanda, Guillaume Paumier in San Francisco
3.Meeting with Wikimania 2010 Organizers

1.Begin Interviews for Chief Development Officer
2.Wikipedia Roundtable in NYC
3.Prepare for February Board of Trustees Meeting



Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:
347 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+27% (1 year ago) / +0% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:
10.4 billion
+0% (1 year ago) / -9.2% (1 month ago)

Active number of editors (5+ edits/month):
+3.8% (1 year ago) / -0.4% (1 month ago)

Source: December 2009 Report Card


Operating revenue year to date: USD 10.5MM vs. plan of USD 7.MM [1]
Operating expenses year to date: USD 3.7MM vs. plan of USD 4.7MM
Unrestricted cash on hand as of January 28: USD 12.2MM

[1] Year to date revenue is equal to annual plan for the fiscal year


December was a whirlwind month for the strategic planning process. It
was crunch-time for the Task Forces, which picked up its activity
significantly. The average number of LiquidThreads posts per day jumped
from 25 to 30, and we picked up another 50 active contributors. More
importantly, that discussion continued to also result in synthesis, with
many new Wikimedia-pages that summarized Task Force work. Ten of the 14
Task Forces look like they will produce quality recommendations. With so
much of the energy devoted to the Task Forces, growth in overall
participants slowed. We expect to attract a slew of new participants in
January and February once the Task Force work is done.

In the meantime, the project team (including The Bridgespan Group)
devoted much of its energy to developing a snapshot of the five-year
priorities that seem to be emerging from this process. The work that
we're doing to develop that synthesis is regularly integrated into the
wiki so as to inform the community at large. By the time the synthesis
is ready to present at the February board meeting, the community should
have a good preview as to what will be said there.


Significant time of the technology team in December was spent in support
of the fundraiser, including improvements to our new credit card
processing gateway, message performance tracking, banner and landing
page development and testing, geographic targeting, real-time
statistics, and more.

On December 16, the Wikimedia Foundation hired Priyanka Dhanda as Code
Maintenance Engineer. Priyanka joins us from SourceForge Inc., where she
worked since 2002 as a software developer and also was involved in
operations, working on most pieces of the infrastructure, and
integrating third party software with the SourceForge platform
(including MediaWiki). Priyanka holds a Master’s Degree in Computer
Science from the University of Toledo, Ohio, and a Bachelor of
Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Pondicherry
Engineering College in India.

Relevant tech blog post:

Original opening:

Hampton Catlin announced a community process for developing mobile
Wikipedia homepages in new languages:


On December 15 the usability team presented the progress of the project,
how the usability beta has been received, and upcoming milestones to Liz
Allison from the Stanton Foundation. The feedback from Liz Allison was
positive and she praised the Wikipedia Usability Initiative as a “model”

A total of 442,000 users tried the usability beta by the end of
December, an increase of 50,000 users that month. A total of 350,000
users continue using the usability beta. Monthly retention rates per
language show an upward trend. Languages with relatively low retention
rate, such as German, Polish, and Japanese also started showing an
upward trend. However, the retention rate of Japanese and Korean are
still in the sixties, which requires further analysis for solutions.

The usability team continued working on the design and development work
for the next releases. The software foundation for editing is being
overhauled and subjected to extensive cross-browser testing. This will
increase precision of the new editor table of contents, and allow for
future development such as collapsing ("folding") of complex syntax to
simplify the interface for new editors.

The new dialogues for links and tables have been re-designed based on
findings from our second usability study. A tutorial has been published
to allow translators to develop language-specific icons. Language
specific icons for English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portugese
and Polish are scheduled be integrated in the upcoming release in January.

Guillaume Paumier, the Product Manager for the Ford Multimedia Usability
Initiative, finalized his relocation to San Francisco after obtaining a
United States work visa. He arrived San Francisco from Toulouse, France,
early December. Guillaume joined the usability team in the San Francisco
office on December 11.

Test were prepared for the the multimedia search and insertion tool
developed by Michael Dale, the "Add Media Wizard". The tool enables
users to find related multimedia files from Wikimedia Commons and other
media repositories and allows users to edit names of the file and
caption, and crop the image.

During December, Frank Schulenburg and Pete Forsyth continued reaching
out to U.S. Universities as part of a pilot project to improve the
quality of Wikipedia articles in a particular subject area. They started
to evaluate and document the outcome and presented their preliminary
findings to a potential funder. Based on feedback from faculty members,
they created documents that explain the process of working
collaboratively on Wikipedia (e.g. Evolution of an article). They
established and began executing a basic framework for sustaining the
relationships established at various universities.

Marlita and Frank participated in a kick-off meeting with the Bookshelf
Project vendors and conducted a Production Survey among the chapters in
order to get a better picture about the chapters' experiences with print
production. The Bookshelf writer conducted a series of interviews with
community members from various language Wikipedias to inform the content
design and writing. The development schedule was expanded and vetted. We
worked with Common Craft on the video script about NPOV and Verifiability.

Cary wrapped up the task force on biographies of living people on Meta,
and worked with User: Keegan on a reboot. Cary continued to work with
contractors to develop proposal for Compassionate Communications course
for English Wikipedia functionaries and OTRS agents. He also organized
and taught a workshop for new staff members to orient them to the
community and wiki-markup, and inducted the Wikimania 2011 Jury.


December was a busy month for the entire organization and especially
Communications, with energy focused on supporting the creative direction
and publicity around the Annual Giving Campaign. Considerable energy was
invested in the final steps of the 08/09 Annual Report, working with
outside designers on digital prep and pre-press for a renewed look for
the report.

There were no major press announcements in December.

Major coverage during December

1. United Kingdom Blackmail case (December 2)
Mostly European media tackled a UK story about a senior judge's decision
to seek the name of a Wikipedia editor from the Wikimedia Foundation.
Most stories focussed on the precedent of the decision - the first time
a judge ordered revelation of information from Wikipedia - rather than
the specific details of the case. The Foundation wasn't widely quoted,
and most coverage was neutral about the decision.

2. Continued coverage of Wall Street Journal editor decline story (early
Mostly blog spill-over through December highlighting the Ortega research
from the November WSJ story. Of note were blogs that cited the recent
Foundation post on the topic and provided a more sober perspective on
the data and the urgent claims.

3. Wikimedia shatters fundraising record (mid to late December)
Although this year's annual fundraising campaign garnered less media
attention overall than last year, news of the ultimate fundraising goal
achievement broke through readwriteweb before the end of 2009. Less
coverage of the milestone overall, even though more funds were generated
in a shorter period of time. Light reporting overall during the
Christmas/NY break makes coverage difficult at year-end.

Other worthwhile reads:

Blog posts through December, 2009

Media interviews and interaction through December, 2009

Communications campaign update, December 2009
Communications campaign consultants Fenton/SeaChange were most active
during December/November - focussing on support to the community giving
team, monitoring metrics and performance, and providing counsel to
foundation staff. Fenton also assisted with a draft of the end of
fundraiser press release and began work on placement of stories in high
profile publications, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy (pitch

Fenton worked with the communications team to finalize a list of five
major items/goals to tackle during Q1/Q2 of 2010 - items focussed on
helping the Foundation simplify and improve our basic story-telling
tactics, with an aim to better fundraising, public outreach, and
strategic communications and relationship building.

During December, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews
with Anniston Star (Anniston, Alaska, USA); Inc Magazine (New York, New
York, USA); Wall Street Journal (New York, New York, USA); CBC Radio
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada); Financial Times (London, United Kingdom);
St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida, USA).


The Wikimedia Foundation received 185,958 donations in December,
totaling approximately USD $6,513,743. Year-to-date, the Foundation has
raised USD 8,305,921 in individual donations, 11% above its annual goal
of USD 7,500,000. Including revenue from restricted and unrestricted
gifts the Wikimedia Foundation has raised USD 9,855,921, 6% above the
goal of USD 9,297,000.

December was the most successful month ever for the Wikimedia
Foundation's fundraising team. With the support and direction of Rand
Montoya, the community giving team and countless volunteers, the
campaign finished ten days ahead of schedule on January 5, thanks in
large part to the overwhelming generosity of our amazing donors. Over
230,000 people around the world showed their support for the projects
and mission of the Wikimedia community. Rand attributes the success of
the fundraiser to a solid communications campaign, the implementation of
new payment methods for donations and the unprecedented amount of
volunteer support.

Once again the users of our projects responded positively to the
personal appeal by Jimmy Wales. His letter was widely read and
distributed on the Internet. On its first full day of activation, the
appeal letter raised USD 430,000. This record-breaking day for Wikimedia
fundraising was the Foundation's biggest single day in donations, with
the help of over 13,000 supporters. Other communications highlights
included the “I couldn’t ignore that banner at the top of the site
anymore…I use Wikipedia far too often to ignore the need!” and the “My
amount is little, but my support is sincere” site notices created from
donor quotes and selected with help fromour partners at Fenton

As a transparent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation shares data
about which messages resonate with donors with the public. Tracking data
was available in real-time, and additional reports can be found here:

During January the fundraising team will continue to wrap up the
fundraiser. As we compile the donations, we will gain a better idea of
what new trends have emerged and will begin to refine the process and
ideas for next year's campaign.

On December 3, Wikimedia had an open house event at its new San
Francisco office. Wikimedia friends and supporters joined a reception
with music (thanks to Pandora's Tom Conrad), donated wine, and Wikipedia
displays and posters.


With the support of the Strategic Plan's Financial Sustainability task
force, Veronique Kessler completed a draft recommendation for the
strategy team and Board of Trustees. Veronique also began working on the
Foundations 2008-2009 990 Tax Form which Veronique hopes to have
completed and reviewed by the audit team at KPMG by mid February.

Daniel Phelps and Veronique identified a set of benchmarks related to
workplace flexibility and non-salary compensation/benefits. These
benchmarks will be reviewed by the Foundation's employee Compensation
Committee which is slated to begin its work reviewing the Foundation's
benefits and compensation in early January. The employee Compensation
Committee will make recommendations to the Foundation's management team
to determine ways the Foundation can structure compensation/benefits to
strengthen the organization's ability to recruit and retain skilled
employees. Over the past several months, Daniel and Veronique have also
been researching 403b retirement savings benefits to be implemented in
March or April of 2010.

The hiring process for the Office IT Manager position continued through


In December, the Legal Department began pursuing registration of Russian
(Cyrillic) trademarks for Wikipedia. The Foundation succeeded in getting
the case brought against Wikimedia by Gary Null in New York dismissed.
Mike Godwin attended a Wikimedia-Google-co-sponsored event for
Washington policymakers. The Foundation was sued by a fringe Republican
candidate in Illinois, USA – Mike expects the case to re resolved
quickly in the Foundation's favor. Mike investigated and initiated
action against a trademark infringer, WikiMobiPedia.org.


The Wikimedia Foundation facilitated meetings with Marcin Cieslak and
Grzegorz Lucjan from the Wikimania 2010 planning team. These meetings
focused on conference finances/sponsorships, public/community outreach,
scholarships, programs, venue logistics, press/media, and other areas
where Foundation staff can provide support and guidance to the local
team. The management and operational aspects of Wikimania are under the
control and development of the local planning team, with the support and
collaboration of the Wikimedia Foundation.

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