[Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

Виктория mstislavl1 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 12:01:57 UTC 2012

This proposal reminds me of "management buyout", which Wikipedia defines as
"form of acquisition where a company's existing managers acquire a large
part or all of the company from either the parent company or from the
private owners".

There always been ambiguity to the roles of WMF - does it have right to
interfere with Community decisions, especially highly controversial ones?
In what form it should communicate with highly dispersed, varied community.
I cannot say that I completely agreed with "5 year plan", but at least it
have given a clear directions and even (some, not all) achievable goals:
attraction of new editors, including women, helping the Global South to
access free knowledge.  Of course, not all initiatives were working, but at
least the was movement in the right direction.

I understand that it wasn't easy for the WMF employees, but we all hope
that working for a non-profit organisation is not just a day, 9 to 5 job
(which are disappearing fast anyway). And now the management found how to
end all this - curtail awkward, highly demanding activities on the ground
in less civilised world and concentrate on relatively easy, structured
work, which can be done in sunny San Francisco - engineering and "grant

I cannot say anything against engineering, this is a cornerstone, although
I cannot see how management, Legal etc. engagement with "people on the
ground" have interfered with programmers work and how "refocusing" will
help to create Visual Editor. My worry is about "grant making", forgive
me, I am not a native speaker, so I can just guess that this means "grant

When the chapters started appearing, I thought  they will be local WMF,
which will build bridges between WMF and local communities. This is not
what happened. I don't want to go into details as to why, but Fir WMF had
already withdrawn support for the Chapter fundraising through the banner,
and now if I understand correctly the Chapters re supposed to fend for
themselves completely - they want to do it anyway, but this is a different

So WMF will collect the money and then will distribute it by the means
unknown.  As a former member of the Grant Committee I can say that the
current process is not very efficient and there is no alternative proposed.
 And  if WMF focus on distributing grants instead of helping directly, it
will become incredibly difficult for people with no experience in a highly
specific task of grant-writing (=community members) to get their
initiatives off the ground, and the money will go to third parties.  During
the "restructuring time" WMF will stop supporting really working things
such as Wikimania, leaving it to fend for itself, just like chapters.

I wonder at what point European Chapters, lead by highly efficient German ,
will realise that they don't need WMF, buy servers and fork.

I can only hope that the Board will not agree with this proposal and WMF
will find some other way to reduce work-related stress.


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