[WikiEN-l] Foundation audit
gwern0 at gmail.com
gwern0 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 11 01:17:40 UTC 2008
So, the audit was released a little while ago (if you missed it, the important thing is at <http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Image:Wikimedia_2007_fs.pdf>). I'm a little surprised at the general silence here - did I just miss the threads or something?
Anyway, I read through it carefully and found it of great interest. A number of points stuck out at me in particular:
# Isn't it interesting how much Google stock was donated? On top of what I hear were previous donations? Some of the Googlers must like us.
# Wow, that's quite a bit to spend on salaries. And I think the amount is only going to go way up, what with Erik Moeller abruptly going from non-paid to paid status, and all the other hires. It strikes me as odd to see employee expenses rising past equipment and hosting costs, but I suppose that just marks me as being a product of the old days where the mission of the Foundation was seen as keeping the servers running (and not whatever else the Foundation does these days).
# WOW, that's a lot to be spending on travel! I do hope I am not the only one who thinks that spending $264,361 (as compared with $140,605 in the previous year) is excessive. Firstly, I am concerned by the almost doubling in travel expenditure: I don't see any particular reason for that. Yes, I am sure Jimbo and others did an awful lot of traveling to promote Wikia and its search engine - but that obviously wouldn't be on the Foundation's dime. Yes, no doubt expenses increased with the decline of the dollar, increase in jetfuel costs and so on - but I can't see that. I have to question what good all this traveling does the community. It's eating up an impressive amount of resources (a substantial fraction of what we spend on important stuff like keeping the servers running), and strikes me as 'fat'. If people really want WMF people to give a lecture or something, what's wrong with having them pay the fare? If WMF people need to meet, what's wrong with videoconferencing? Why should donations from strapped college students and so on be going to this.
:#It may just be my overreaction, but the next time I hear the WMF is hurting for funds, I am probably not going to donate; it clearly has money to spare.
# Heh, talk about understatement:
"A substantial number of volunteers make significant
contributions of their time in the furtherance of the
Organization's projects. The value of this contributed time is
not reflected in the accompanying financial statements, since
it is not susceptible to objective measurement. Certain
contributed services requiring specialized skills are recorded
as support and expenses at fair value when determinable, or
otherwise at values indicated by the donor."
# I must be misunderstanding something, but does this really mean what it seems to me on the face of it:
"Note C - Contingencies
In the normal course of business, the Organization receives
various threats of litigation on a regular basis. In the
opinion of management, the outcome of the pending
lawsuits will not materially affect present operations or the
financial stability of the Organization."
That the reason current lawsuits don't matter is because there is nothing put aside for them? Seems kind of reckless.
# As usual, relationships with Wikia are concerningly close and ambiguous:
"The Organization shares hosting and bandwidth costs with
Wikia, Inc., a for-profit company founded by the same
founder as Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Included in accounts
receivable at June 30, 2007 is $6,000 due from Wikia, Inc.
for these costs. The Organization received some donated
office space from Wikia Inc. during the year ended June 30,
2006 valued at $6,000. No donation of the office space
occurred in 2007.
Through June 30, 2007, two members of the Organization's
board of directors also serve as employees, officers, or
directors of Wikia, Inc."
They share staff, WP favors Wikia in well-known ways, and so on - and people are surprised when the public perception is that WP is the non-profit branch of Wikia, or vice versa? I'm also troubled by the sharing of costs bit - why is Wikia using WMF resources (presumably why they are paying WMF) and isn't it awfully convenient how the two amounts cancel out? Small potatoes, but still.
Yeah, so those were my thoughts on the audit. Anyone else?
primers shell mania LHR anarchy JANET ssa RFI Internet Z-200
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