[Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF (cleaner version)

Steven Zhang cro0016 at gmail.com
Sun Oct 21 23:57:26 UTC 2012

In my opinion, the value of fellowships in my opinion is huge, and I feel that ceasing to support projects like the Teahouse would be a real shame. That said, I do feel there are other ways that individual editors could get the support they need to work on critical projects. As long as this remains in some capacity, then I think that could work too.


Steve Zhang

Sent from my iPhone

On 22/10/2012, at 10:25 AM, Jacob Orlowitz <wikiocaasi at yahoo.com> wrote:

> A letter in support of the Community Fellowship program from past,
> current, and prospective Fellows,
> The WMF has expanded profoundly over the past decade, and especially
> in the last few years.  Recently initiatives to streamline and focus
> the WMF have been undertaken; while these efforts are worthy in spirit
> and necessary at some level, one useful if not vital program has been
> caught in that process:  The Community Fellowship program.  We would
> like to express our strong support of this valuable and important
> program.
> The Fellowship program is first and foremost a community-based
> program.  It selects editors to work on projects -- those which are
> novel and have yet to be tried, those that have been tried but have
> not been rigorously developed or tested, and those otherwise that need
> financial, technical and institutional backing to succeed.  It
> represents a direct line of support from the WMF to
> community-organized, community-driven, and community-maintained
> projects.
> We strongly believe that the Fellowship program is a great way to jump
> start many projects cheaply, efficiently, and with low-risk.  Most
> importantly, because Fellowship projects are community-organized,
> there is high potential for their broad community support.
> We recognize that the Wikimedia Foundation’s allocation of funding
> must reflect the priorities of the Foundation’s annual and strategic
> plans, and we understand that the future of the Fellowship program is
> at risk under the justification that it does not fit within those
> plans.
> The Fellowship program of course has a cost, but it is one we believe
> is well justified by its impact.  The following reasons explain why we
> think the program is a worthwhile asset to the WMF and one that will
> ultimately help it succeed in its strategic goals:
> 1) The program has a track record of producing successful projects,
> with promising upcoming efforts that would be interrupted by a loss of
> funding.  Most recently a new-editor community called the Teahouse was
> developed directly through the Fellowship program.  The Teahouse, as
> well as other projects have targeted goals which often match up with
> those identified by the Foundation as urgent, such as new editor
> engagement and editor retention.  Other projects besides the Teahouse
> have worked on improving our dispute resolution processes, our small
> language wiki development, improving the usability of help
> documentation, and facilitating cross-wiki translation efforts.
> GLAM/Wikipedian-in-Residence positions were pioneered under the
> Fellowship program as were studies in long term editor trends through
> Wikimedia Summer of Research.  (See the full list of past projects).
> These projects are of great value and exist in areas that the
> community had or has not made sufficient advances in on its own.
> In the works are projects to create a sense of community around the
> sorely lacking female demographic, to build a game which would ease
> new editors through the maze of skills needed to be effective, a
> Wikipedia Library initiative which would outfit our most experienced
> editors with access to high quality resources through a single sign-on
> portal, and a Badges experiment to employ a proven approach to
> recognizing, motivating, and rewarding the efforts of our users.
> Without the Community Fellowship program, those efforts may stall or
> collapse.
> 2) The Fellowship program's core strength is as a laboratory of agile,
> community-driven creativity and innovation.  The program has nurtured
> projects that require more investment and organization than the
> community alone can support, but that innovate in areas of importance
> to both the community and the Foundation.  The Fellowship program has
> the asset of targeted flexibility and cost-effective implementation.
> Fellowship projects require few if any development resources,
> substantially reducing their burden on the Foundation.  Through its
> varied portfolio of projects the Fellowship program can address any
> number of key goals, and do so in a lightweight but meaningful way.
> 3) The Fellowship program is committed to demonstrating results and
> making data-driven recommendations that help meet Foundation targets.
> Fellowship research projects have set and maintained a high standard
> for reporting results and making actionable recommendations.  The
> Teahouse pilot reports and metrics reports, the dispute resolution
> survey results, and the template A/B testing projects are excellent
> examples of this commitment to transparency and accountability.  The
> Foundation has benefitted from these data: results from fellowship
> projects have been featured at Wikimania.  Deputy Director Eric
> Moeller’s presentation on supporting Wikiprojects drew extensively on
> Fellowship project findings, and E3’s template testing presentation
> was based substantially on Fellowship research.  Fellowship research
> has been a frequent feature on the Wikimedia blog, and has generated
> good press for the Foundation.
> 4) The Fellowship program been instrumental to our understanding of
> the editor decline, and how to stop it.  Fellowship projects have
> yielded many valuable & actionable insights into the editor decline:
> such as the negative impact of the gradual increase in newcomer
> warnings and newcomer reverts, and the recent decline in participation
> in community processes by newer groups of editors.  Fellowship
> research has also refuted several prominent decline theories, such as
> the theory that the quality of new editors has decreased over time, or
> that the workload of vandal fighters has increased.  In short,
> Fellowship research allows Wikimedia to prioritize promising work and
> make decisions about which decline theories to address based on actual
> data, rather than anecdotes, accepted wisdom, or intuition.
> 5) The Fellowship program builds good will between the WMF and the
> community by spotlighting and bootstrapping community-driven
> initiatives.  Fellowships are devised by community members, endorsed
> by community members, implemented with community involvement--and the
> community reaps the benefits of those initiatives.  The Foundation
> gets to play the vital role of supporting projects that otherwise may
> have floundered, sat idle, or been ignored completely.  The community
> appreciates this and recognizes the Foundation’s pivotal part in
> making these projects happen.  Also, not continuing the program would
> mean not just removing funding from the recipients of Fellowships and
> their projects, but also losing the community infrastructure and
> networks that have been developed as a result.  The Foundation is the
> keystone to continuing this progress.
> 6) The Fellowship program gives the Wikimedia Foundation one of the
> only channels to directly fund individual editors.  And not just any
> editors but some of the most active, engaged, driven, and enthusiastic
> editors Wikipedia has.  Funding those editors directly enables them to
> devote a degree of focus and commitment to Wikipedia that they might
> not otherwise be able to balance while meeting other constraints in
> their lives.  The Foundation has become a recipient of a great amount
> of donations, but much of that financial support is unavailable to
> individual editors.  There is not yet a grant-making process which
> doesn't run through Chapters.  The Fellowship program is one lifeline
> to those editors, and it is a good one.
> 7) The Fellowship program provides a pipeline of trusted and
> knowledgeable editors to contribute to the Foundation's efforts.  Many
> of those editors would be ideal candidates for positions within the
> Foundation, and the Fellowship program is a great way to identify,
> enlist, and onboard those individuals.  Maryana Pinchuck and Steven
> Walling were Fellows, as were Liam Wyatt, Lennart Guldbrandsson,
> Stuart Geiger, Diederik van Liere, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Melanie
> Kill, Aaron Halfaker, Achal Prabhala, Jonathan Morgan, and James
> Alexander.  While being a training ground for future Foundation
> staffers, advisors, or researchers is not the stated purpose of the
> Fellowship program, it is nonetheless a positive side-effect.
> 8) The Fellowship program partners with and complements other WMF
> initiatives.  The fellowship program enhances programs such as Editor
> Engagement Experiments by experimenting with community features rather
> than just interface features.  Creating new spaces for new editors to
> find help and build community, identifying pain-points in existing
> community processes by surveying editors, and organizing cross-wiki
> translation efforts are excellent ways of improving the editor
> experience on Wikipedia.  Fellowship projects have also benefitted
> existing WMF initiatives by providing necessary services: for
> instance, the Teahouse has served the needs of students enrolled in
> Global Education programs that do not have access to Classroom
> Ambassadors.  The impact of the Fellowship program scales and exceeds
> the scope of the individual projects to numerous other forums and
> facets of the community.
> For these reasons, we urge the Wikimedia Foundation to reevaluate the
> worth of the Community Fellowship program and to continue it in its
> original or a similar capacity.   The Fellowship program is an
> impactful, flexible laboratory of creativity which connects the
> Foundation and the community's best and most passionate editors.
> Having it has been a huge gain, and losing it would be a significant
> loss.
> Sincerely,
> * Anya Shyrokova User:Anyashy, prospective Fellow
> * Jake Orlowitz User:Ocaasi, prospective Fellow
> * Jon Harald Søby User:Jon Harald Søby, former Community Fellow
> * Jonathan Morgan User:Jtmorgan, former Research Fellow
> * Liam Wyatt  User:Wittylama, former Cultural Partnerships Fellow
> * R.  Stuart Geiger  User:Staeiou, former Wikimedia Research Fellow
> * Peter Coombe User:The wub, Community Fellow
> * Steven Zhang User:Steven Zhang, Community Fellow
> * Tanvir Rahman User:Tanvir Rahman, Community Fellow
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