[Foundation-l] fundraiser suggestion

Domas Mituzas midom.lists at gmail.com
Mon Jan 3 12:34:23 UTC 2011


> happy new year to you and to everyone! :-)

Thanks for greetings, and even more thanks for such an effort in trying to address the concerns. 

> Asking a reader to make a donation is by definition a distraction from
> what they came to do. 

Well, there's a single "maybe he will consider once" distraction and there's "let's not allow to read the text" distraction. They are different. 

> The question has always been, and continues to
> be, how we want to balance this distraction away from the utility that

We have been balancing it forever. It worked, right? We did not need blinking banners for years, and now that organization is under way less stress than ever before it starts pushing boundaries way beyond what we were doing before. Thats not cool. 

> I don't see anything wrong at all with messages that signal increased
> urgency as the fundraiser draws to a close.

Well, then you did not open the site with banners that were there. 

> Nor do I see a mildly animated banner in the last 48 hours of the year (and the fundraiser)
> which reminds people about tax-deductible donations and seeks to
> energize a final push for the remaining funds towards the goal, as a
> violation of the contract between us and our readers.

Well, of course, it wasn't dancing monkeys, so adblock wasn't used or browser window was not closed immediately.
It was way more subversive, designed to distract you from what you're doing on the site again and again. I don't know how your mind works, but I prefer to concentrate. 

Now, the fact that you do not see it as problematic with regards to our service means that you are failing to think in terms of service and think only in terms of a revenue source, which is very sad.

> Indeed, the size and graphical
> visibility of the banners this year have certainly pushed my own pain
> points as to what I consider an acceptable balance.

That is a bit different from what you said above. 

> At the same time,
> I've had countless conversations in past years with people who didn't
> even notice that we were fundraising.

Those people need dancing monkeys, I guess. And full screen ads. Go ahead. 

> To a certain extent, touching
> those pain points is necessary to even register with people who have
> both the ability and desire to support us.

We can take down the site to extort more money, take this as another fundraising suggestion. Then people will notice, heck, we may even get newspaper coverage. 

> The fundraising team has continually applied judgment regarding this balance.

Their judgment was definitely lacking experience in using websites. 

> To be sure, this year's campaign has certainly pushed the envelope to
> meet its ambitious goal.

Try using a message "we have ambitious goals and need your money for them" as a message, you can measure its effectiveness. 

> Prior to this year, we didn't really have a
> good sense exactly what the ceiling of the fundraiser would be,
> because we'd never pushed it as hard was we could before we reached
> our goal. 

Fundraising team definitely didn't run out of all options. I'm sure it is possible to raise more. 

> With all that said, I've seen organizations like public broadcasters
> go down a road of increasingly aggressive fundraising, to the
> detriment of the actual experience of the product.

There is a reason we're doing this on the internet and not in traditional medias.
It is much more efficient to do comprehensive encyclopedias on internet than on radio or TV or print. 

There's a reason you're not buying out TV time to teach how to edit Wikipedia. 
You shouldn't judge anything Wikipedia does by the standards of public broadcasters, nor you should be applying their practice too much (oh wait). 

We're different generation, so let's have our own quality benchmarks. 

> So I am in favor of drawing a line as to what we
> consider acceptable and unacceptable fundraising practices. Perhaps
> that's a conversation that we can have with the Board, as an extension
> of the first set of principles articulated here:
> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Wikimedia_fundraising_principles

Though extending those principles would work nice, it is shame that "how to run a website" needs micromanagement from board level. 

> According to your own stats as processed by ErikZ, pageviews increased
> from 8.9B to 13.7B from March 2008 to November 2010. Perhaps not
> staggering relative growth as in the early years, but fairly dramatic
> in absolute terms when you consider how many millions of additional
> people served it represents.

Thats +50% over two and half years. As I told, the relative share on the internet didn't change much . 
As for dramatic increase of people served - our anons get served by cheap cache layer, our editors (and counts didn't grow much) are much more expensive to maintain :) 

> So, we are serving more users than ever 

Yup, +50% over two and half years, now check how much more fundraising we're doing :) 

> We have a greater responsibility in the world than ever.

I agree - by nuking out other reference sources out of existence, we're holding reference material ransom :-) 

> The reason to raise $16M is to meet that responsibility.
> To meet it, for example, by making sure that we have
> reliable, distributed backups of all key data;

That was part of 2008 plan. And 2009. And 2010. :-)

> that we won't disappear from the net for extended periods of time if Tampa goes down;

This may be useful, except that Tampa didn't go down too much so far. 

> that we don't have to rely entirely on the goodwill of a talented database
> engineer from Lithuania to deal with MySQL woes.

Unfortunately, you end up having to rely on more than just databases, as all the staff is working on fundraiser. ;-)

> But Wikimedia Foundation isn't (and has never been) purely a
> techno-organization, it's a global educational media organization and
> world-wide movement for free knowledge, which critically depends on
> technology to get its work done.

Hehe, depends on perspective, being part of larger more influential organization is way more fun of course. 
Donors may see it otherwise, as they are supposed to help with urgent issues. 

> WMF has to provide and improve that technology (and recent threads about WYSIWYG and structured data show the degree of interest that people have in WMF doing a lot more)

Of course it has, yet....

> The 2010-11 budget represents an increase from 38% to
> 48% in technology spending, but it also represents significant
> investments in other programmatic work. And that's a good thing.

Not all technology spending goes into supporting our sites, quite a lot of it goes to support organization itself. 

> Yes, it's a US-centric program, but it's a start and a model,
> and to the extent that we'll invest in related activities out of core
> funds, we'll do so with an eye to internationalizing.

I'm waiting for wide scope results as that is one of things why this may end up useful :) 

> On the technology front, in the last year we:
> - deployed the first design change across Wikimedia projects in a
> very, very long time, based on the first-ever systematic usability
> studies of the Wikipedia experience. The changes deployed don't go
> nearly far enough, but they are important foundations for future work.

Well, considering what Wikipedia achieved on one volunteer's design (Gabriel Wicke is god :), I can't wait for all the usability initiative things to make things sooo much better - I saw the presentation about collapsed templates and TOC and ... (btw, I was still searching for edit button on the left side today ;-)

> - activated the mobile gateway as default for suitable smartphones,
> now serving about 4% of total pageviews;

Yet it will be rewritten in 2011, out of fundraised money, I hear. 

> - developed a completely re-vamped media uploading UI, which is
> currently in public testing on Commons;

Yet we're running on storage design back from 2003 or so, and we start doing headless chicken runs once in a while once image serving stops. :) 
OK, there's a project to fix that, I can't deny. Since 2003. :-) I can sure take lots of blame for that too, hehe. 

> - began experimentation with OpenWebAnalytics and actively supported
> its development;

Well, thats organization-internal thing, mostly. 

Do note, we have full pageview counting running on half a CPU core somewhere, yet OWA which doesn't do much is getting a full-blown database cluster to do something nobody knows what it will be able to do. 
I saw that some of last foundation data management efforts were literally shoving loads of data into textfiles and then expecting that database software will somehow be efficient on top of that, oh, that also blocked fundraiser, which caused another headless chicken run. 

> Again, that's just a selection, and it's leaving aside improvements to
> testing/QA, recent joined efforts to clear the code review backlog,
> etc.

Yep, as we push code live once a year, the backlog must be big :-) 

> All this represents growth in our ability to serve our mission; all
> this represents opportunity; and all of it was unlikely to ever happen
> with the Wikimedia of yesteryear that could barely keep the lights on.

Wikimedia/Wikipedia of yesteryear got into top10 websites doing reasonable job at being efficient and avoiding annoyances to raise funds (disregard all the jokes about downtime messages being profitable ;-) 

> We're learning and improving as we go along, but there's absolutely no
> doubt in my mind that a well-funded free knowledge movement is good
> for the planet. Nobody is interested in growing this movement at the
> expense of the utility it provides. But grow it we must, and we will.

There's lots of balance and trade-offs involved. 
I'm here to run a website that empowers lots of people. I think that we have quite some responsibilities in doing that correctly too, not just using our websites as cashcows for whatever ambitions we may have. 

> 2010 has seen the Wikimedia movement truly achieve more than it ever
> has in its history

[citation needed]. There was no 'tectonic shift' in 2010 - Wikipedia transformed from idealistic project to major public commodity years before. 

> I'm incredibly grateful that
> hundreds of thousands of people believe in the Wikimedia mission. As
> David put it, they are becoming co-conspirators in our nefarious goal
> to bring free knowledge to every single person.

Hundreds of thousands of people want to "keep the knowledge free". They have no idea what it means in our lingo.

> To a successful and prosperous 2011,

To productive and efficient 2011! :-)


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