[Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia (Foundation) endowment

Dariusz Jemielniak darekj at alk.edu.pl
Mon Mar 18 09:46:18 UTC 2013

On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 10:39 AM, Fae <faewik at gmail.com> wrote:

> The "sum of human knowledge" is not about internet technology of the
>  moment, or limited to the next 5 years.

Absolutely! And this is a great vision. But adjusting strategy to this
vision requires understanding current technologies. Thus, it is impossible
to create anything meaningful strategically that far into the future.

> If the WMF and the leading figures in our movement cannot produce a
> vision or even a highest possible level strategy for 100 years, then
> the case for having a billion dollar endowment looks exceedingly weak
> and probably idle dreaming.

I agree with you that a compelling vision is a different story - and you've
just quoted it above.

> There is no sensible case for an endowment
> fund that only imagines the next couple of years - that is in fact why
> we talk about reserve funds that cover that period and short term
> risks that might arise.

An endowment is a fund that basically is meant to secure the long term
existence and to support what we do now - with an assumption that we'll
adjust to the emerging technologies (a huge leap of faith, considering that
even now we're pretty bad at keeping up with the pace of new ways of doing
the web services). I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying, I only
emphasize the importance of not talking about strategic planning for 100
years. Call it a vision exercise and we're on the same page.

If I am looking to leave a million dollars in my will to benefit human
> knowledge, I would want the comfort of knowing the organization that
> will use my money will exist *long* after my death, it will not
> "repurpose" funds in unexpected ways, or waste it on an empire
> building bureaucracy that has the natural priority of paying benefits
> to careerist senior management types involved in operations.

Yup, totally agree, I think that the endowment should be clearly reserved
for keeping knowledge free, but not necessarily for management at all.


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