[Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia (Foundation) endowment

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Fri Mar 15 01:51:04 UTC 2013

On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 5:42 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:

> Last year's financial report shows almost exactly $2.5m for "Internet
> hosting". I'm not sure quite what that covers

Only data-center usage (facilities, bandwidth, power). It does not
include capital expenditures (servers, storage, network gear, etc.;
budgeted at $1.9M in 2012-13) nor ops engineering staffing, nor of
course any software engineering staffing or the basics of an
organizational support structure (management/administration, legal,

What's a bare minimum amount? It's a hard question to answer, because
it depends on what you consider an acceptable bare minimum.

- Is it acceptable for the projects to be without legal defense?
- Is it acceptable to revert back to a single data center mode of operation?
- Is it acceptable for ops to just barely be able to keep the lights
on, with minimal effort dedicated to backups/monitoring/maintenance,
- Is it acceptable for there to be no software engineers to aid with
reviewing code contributions, and making improvements to the software?
and so on.

WMF has operated in the past without staffing and with very minimal
staffing, so clearly it's _possible_ to host a high traffic website on
an absolute shoestring. But I would argue that an endowment, to
actually be worthwhile, should aim for a significantly higher base
level of minimal annual operating expenses, more in the order of
magnitude of $10M+/year, to ensure not only bare survival, but actual
sustainability of Wikimedia's mission. The "what's the level required
for bare survival" question is, IMO, only of marginal interest,
because it is much more desirable, and should be very much possible,
to raise funds for sustaining our mission in perpetuity.


Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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