[Wikimedia Announcements] Wikimedia Foundation Report, September 2010
erik at wikimedia.org
Tue Nov 9 18:58:16 UTC 2010
Formatted and editable version here:
== Highlights ==
* Videos of Wikimedians released:
* Article feedback pilot launches:
* Public Policy Initiative coursework begins:
== Data and Trends ==
:The monthly report card for September 2010 can be found at:
:Global unique visitors:
:398 million (+6.6% compared with previous month / +22.1% compared
with previous year)
:13.7 billion (+5.4% compared with previous month / +20.2% compared
with previous year)
:Active Wikipedia Editors (>=5 edits/month):
:82,503 active editors (-3.3% compared with previous month / -5.6%
compared with previous year)
:New Editors (editors who completed their first 10 edits in a given month):
:15,805 new editors (-10.5% compared with previous month / -17.4%
compared with previous year)
== Financials ==
:Operating revenue for September: $156K vs plan of $233K
:Operating expenses for September: $1.1MM vs plan of $1.6MM
:Operating revenue year-to-date: $440K vs plan of $631K
:Operating expenses year-to-date: $3.2MM vs plan of $4.5MM
The MTD and YTD underages are primarily in unrestricted gifts. For
both MTD and YTD, more than half of the underspending continues to be
in capex and internet hosting primarily due to amounts being budgeted
evenly over the year thus not reflecting the ramp up in costs once the
Virginia data center is built out and operational. Other underages
included personnel (salary, wages and benefits) for several open
positions and staff development costs, partially offset by recruiting
expenses, and underages in outside contract services, mainly offset by
overage in grants and awards and much smaller overages in legal
expenses, facilities and travel.
Cash as of end of October (latest available) was $11.9MM.
== Technology ==
In September, the Engineering Programs Office started publishing a
monthly public update of all projects we are working on. The
September report can be viewed at:
The most recent report can be found here:
Notable in September, the Wikimedia Foundation published its roadmap
for the development of the "Pending Changes" feature, following
community discussion and trial of the technology. Pending Changes is
used on the English Wikipedia to moderate edits by new users on
selected pages. See the roadmap:
Also notable is the work done on CentralNotice in support of improving
banners for the Fundraiser. This work will be useful for any and all
banners needed in future on any Wikimedia Foundation site, including
better Geo-Location to target geographically relevant banners, and
much streamlined banner creatiion.
Another interesting bit of work in September was a new feature,
Article Feedback, which was rolled out as a pilot as part of the
Public Policy Initiative. We're watching this feature very closely to
see if it gives us plausibly accurate measures of the quality of a
given article based on reader feedback. The intention was to be
somewhat more sophisticated than a single "how many stars" popularity
measure. The team that worked on this pilot worked very quickly in
what we hope will be a more normal mode for initial features
development (to pilot stage), and are to be commended for getting to
an acceptable level of implementation on time.
What we learn from this pilot will feed into another iteration of the
feature in coming months, and possibly wider deployment. FAQs
regarding the feature can be found here:
Work by both staff and community members has continued on deploying
Selenium, a software testing framework which will serve all MediaWiki
development, and should prove beneficial to Wikimedia for a long time
Interviews and Hires for this past month: promoted: Mark Bersgma to
Operations Engineering Program Manager, hired employee: Carrie Smith,
Assistant to the Office of the CTO, conducted interviews for Director
of Technical Operations.
Conversations: Final meetings with Co-Location providers and key
meeting with potential hardware donor for Virginia Data Center,
Meetings with Research Firm about project to look at future Mobile
trends in the developing world.
== Community ==
Preparations for the fundraiser continued with short weekly tests. We
tested many different banners suggested by community members.
Unfortunately, no banner was found that beat last year's best: "Please
read: a personal appeal from Jimmy Wales". But it was found that
graphical versions of that banner performed almost twice as well as
text-only banners. More than $50,000 in revenue was raised in our
short hour-long tests in September. Several temporary staff were hired
to support the fundraiser, including Wikimedians living in India,
Egypt, and a few cities in the US. Several of these employees were
discovered through the "open call" posted on the site in July.
In September, we received 884 donations totaling $56,713.
Also recruited through the "open call" were September's two Community
Fellows: Victoria Doronina and Maryana Pinchuk. They are working on a
history of the Russian Wikipedia. Victoria is a long time Russian
Wikipedian and former Russian Arbcom member. Maryana is a Phd
candidate at Harvard's department of Slavic Languages and Literature.
Our first fellow, Steven Walling dug into a couple of projects, one
supporting the Board in thinking about harassment policies, and
another to support organizing around 10th anniversary events.
'''Public Policy Initiative:'''
The fall terms at US universities participating in the Public Policy
Initiative started in earnest in September. Most of the Wikipedia
Campus Ambassadors visited classes, giving students an introduction to
Wikipedia and answering their questions; several Ambassadors have also
led lab sessions or office hours, where students get a hands-on
tutorial of the first steps of becoming an editor. Many classes have
become active on Wikipedia, with students creating accounts, testing
the wiki in sandbox, choosing Online Ambassadors as mentors, and
selecting articles to work on.
Annie Lin has also been traveling throughout the eastern part of the
country, visiting most of the professors and Campus Ambassadors
participating in the fall semester as well as meeting with people
interested in coming on board for the spring semester. These
face-to-face conversations have served as effective check-ins,
allowing different parties to discuss what is working well and what
could be improved (and how).
Interest in article assessment for the Public Policy Initiative is
picking up. Amy Roth ran some preliminary data analysis which
indicates that Wikipedians are fairly consistent in their assessment
of article quality. A group of public policy expert volunteers has
started assessing articles, so there will some comparative results
soon. Also, the Article Feedback Tool is piloted on the public policy
and readers have started rating public policy articles on Wikipedia
(see  for first results)
The outreach team proposed a draft set of Wikipedia Ambassador
Principles , which we will work with the Ambassadors to refine and
hopefully officially adopt in the coming weeks. Frank, Annie and Sage
initiated the "Ambassadors Steering Committee" in mid-September, and
quickly added four Wikipedia Ambassadors to the committee. This is the
beginning of the process of turning control of the Wikipedia
Ambassadors program over to volunteers. The committee, chaired by
Campus Ambassador PJ Tabit, will be working with all the Ambassadors,
as well as the broader community, to chart the course of the Wikipedia
Ambassador Program, both in the next academic term as well as
subsequent terms after the Public Policy Initiative concludes. The
committee has been meeting weekly; meeting notes are available at .
'''Public Outreach Resources:'''
In September, we created a landing page for the bookshelf materials on
the outreach wiki. It contains all finalized materials of the
Bookshelf Project as well as other educational materials relevant to
our projects. The page can be reached through
Also in September, Pete Forsyth organized and led the "Screensprint
meeting" in San Francisco. This screencast initiative is based on the
observation that there are some pretty big challenges involved in
producing a good screencast, especially if you're on a tight budget
and/or want to use free and open source software. Consequently, the
goal of the 3-day Screensprint meeting was to create a framework of
resources for creating screencasts on the English Wikipedia, intended
to serve as a model for other language versions. During the meeting, a
group of volunteers from different countries started the WikiProject
Screencast  and created a number of brief videos that demonstrate
how to create screencasts as instructional tools for Wikipedia
'''Account Creation Research:'''
Frank Schulenburg kicked off the new Account Creation Improvement
Project  on the outreach wiki. The project aims at increasing the
number of people who create a user account and actually start editing.
It is rooted in the observation that the current process of account
creation is not welcoming, it often looks complicated, it is
overwhelming, and there is no follow-up. During its 8 month timeframe,
the project will aim at improving the overall knowledge about what
drives people who create a user account to start editing. For this
purpose, it will experiment with different methods of welcoming and
supporting new editors.
== Global Development ==
Barry Newstead visited India for introductory conversations with the
Wikimedia community in India. The community had the first ever
recorded meetups in Mumbai & Delhi. We had a meetup in Bangalore.
Barry, board member Bishakha Datta and advisory board member Achal
Prabhala met with the Wikimedia India chapter. In addition, Barry
held meetings with the Free Software Foundation, Microsoft Research,
Google, Omidyar Network, Ajay Sud (attorney), State of Karnatika's
Knowledge Commission and Indian Institute for Science & Technology.
We had a range of press interviews during the week
(http://wikimedia.in/wiki/In_the_news) and have begun to develop key
messages about Wikimedia's work in Inda. Barry also met with an
initial group of candidates for the National Program Director for
WMF worked with several chapters on the legalities of our fundraising
relationship. WMF hired Jane Peebles as counsel and we have hired
counsel to support conversations with chapters in the United Kingdom,
the Netherlands, France, Italy and Switzerland.
WMF and Wikimedia Germany came to an agreement on a new arrangement to
support our fundraising relationship. Wikimedia Germany began work on
a new subsidiary to support the relationship.
Kul Wadhwa traveled to Germany, France, Greece and Japan to build
relationships to support global work in mobile and offline. He met
with our partner Orange, and also attended two technology conferences
where Mobile was a major topic of discussion. A key takeaway is that
data services are of growing importance for mobile providers in the
developing world, despite their immaturity. The challenge for mobile
users is that data plans may be expensive and for Wikimedia, we need
to figure out how to make access to Wikimedia affordable (ideally
We had a visit from members of the Wikimania Haifa team as part of
their planning work. We also had a visit from Bruno Souza from
Brazil. Bruno is a leading innovator within the Java Users Groups
within Brazil and he provided us with helpful advice on Brazil.
== Communications ==
The communications team released four videos that highlight the global
volunteers of Wikipedia (
). These videos feature Wikimedians from around the world. The footage
was captured during Wikimania in Poland. Direct links:
The purpose of these videos is to serve as an instrument for public
outreach, helping us to invite more people to contribute to our
projects. Beyond online use, they will be used by the Wikimedia
Foundation and Wikimedia chapters at conferences, in meetings, and at
other opportunities. Along with other public outreach resources, the
videos (and subtitled versions thereof) can also be found through the
Public Outreach Bookshelf: http://bookshelf.wikimedia.org/
The communications team also supported the development of the
strategic plan synthesis that was shared with the Wikimedia Board of
Trustees in advance of their meeting in October.
During September Foundation staff and spokespeople were in contact
with the following media outlets - note a particular concentration of
interviews in India during high profile visits: New York Times, NPR,
CEO Middle East magazine (Dubai), SEmana magazine (Colombia), Heise
(Berlin), SiliconFlorist.com (Portland, Oregon), Ars Technica,
Software Design Magazine (Tokyo), and Pagina 12 from Buenos Aires.
Interviews and coverage from India included Financial Express, Times
of India, Silicon India, DNA India, Business Standard (Mumbai), Daily
Bhaskar, Indian Express Buzz, and The Hindu.
:For a complete listing of media contact through September:
:High profile media coverage through September:
:"Wikipedia reveals mousetrap finale"
:"Wikimedia opening offices in India"
:"Wikipedia in the classroom" (coverage related to the Public Policy Initiative)
:Other worthwhile reads:
:Blog posts through September, 2010:
:For lots of detailed coverage and news summaries, see the
community-edited Wikipedia Signpost editions for September 2010:
== Human Resources ==
In September the Wikimedia Foundation added four permanent hires (Cyn
Skyberg - Chief Talent and Culture Officer; Melanie Brown - Office
Assistant; Dana Isokawa - Assistant to the Office of the Executive and
Deputy Directors; and Carrie Smith - Assistant to the CTO) and one
fellowship recipient (Steven Walling).
The HR/Culture department spent some time this month planning and
preparing for the All Staff meeting in the last week of October. The
meeting was planned for Half Moon Bay, CA, and was a joint project
with the Admin department in terms of operations and logistics. We
met with the facilitator we ultimately ended up using for the All
Staff, and built a potential agenda and outline for the meeting. The
team also met with Phoebe Ayers, current board member, about
potentially doing the opening talk for the meeting, which she
evetually agreed to do.
Additionally, HR/Culture spent time reconciling the hiring plan and
creating processes for tracking, managing and planning for staffing
changes and development over time. In her new role, Cyn spent several
hours getting to know the existing processes and walking through
current procedures for hiring and onboarding. She and Daniel created a
framework for future development of the department and began a goal
setting exercise for the department for the month of October.
Further conversation for the month included the potential for an HRM
system, which we are just starting to investigate. OrangeHRM
(http://www.orangehrm.com/), is a serious candidate.
:Total Employee Count:
:Plan: 65, Actual: 59
:Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end: 27
Real-time feed for HR updates: http://identi.ca/wikimediaatwork or
== Finance and Administration ==
General updates from Finance and Administration:
* Draft audited financial statements were completed in September (and
approved by Audit Committee in October).
* Upgraded broadband internet services to improve speed and capacity.
* Upgraded phone and voicemail systems to improve capacity and functionality.
* Drafted an initial floor plan for the 6th floor office space.
The audit committee requested that the finance department prepare some
information about chapters, financial controls and movement-wide
transparency. This was prompted by a desire to ensure appropriate
controls are in place to manage donations flowing into and throughout
the Wikimedia movement. In response to this request, the finance
department spent much of September pulling together basic information
about Wikimedia chapters (e.g., legal status, current fundraising
practices, current state of reporting), including an assessment of
potential risks associated with current roles-and-responsibilities
between chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation.
== Office of the Executive Director ==
Executive Director Sue Gardner spoke at the New York chapter's
at the end of August, held at the Tisch School of Arts at New York
Later in September, Sue returned to New York with Erik, Zack and Sara,
to present an update to the Sloan Foundation as we enter the final
year of Sloan's three-year three-million-dollar grant to the Wikimedia
In May, the board had asked Sue to commission a study of what, if
anything, should be done about controversial content on the Wikimedia
projects. During September, consultants Robert Harris and Dory
Carr-Harris continued their work, reviewing applicable research ,
and consulting with community members and external experts. In the
final report, which can be read here,
Robert and Dory recommend 1) that no changes be made to the way in
which text-based controversial material is handled in the Wikimedia
projects. They also 2) make a number of recommendations for action
that falls within the bailiwick of the Wikimedia community:
recommending that Wikimedia consider development of a Wikijunior
project and that Commons admins consider how to tighten up some
policies and their application, including elevating the 'principle of
least surprise' to the level of official policy. And, 3) they
recommend that the Wikimedia Foundation develop a feature to allow
Wikimedia project users to opt into a system that would allow them to
easily hide classes of images from their own view.
The controversial content study will be presented to the board at its
meeting in San Francisco, in October.
 This included examination of cultural attitudes, regulation and/or
filtering practices in over 70 countries including: Australia, Brazil,
Canada, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel,
Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia,
Singapore, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the
United Kingdom and the United States.
Throughout September, the Wikimedia Foundation continued the process
of distilling the material on the strategy wiki into a high-level
document to be shared with Wikimedia partners and supporters. To that
end, Sue proposed to the board, and received approval for, five
high-level targets for the Wikimedia movement, to be achieved by 2015.
Also in September, our external writer developed several further
drafts of the strategy document (including the targets), which were
reviewed and refined by various parties including senior staff and
board members. The near-final text of the strategy document will be
presented to the board at its meeting in San Francisco in October.
With new board member Phoebe Ayers, Sue went to the the Quaker Center
in Ben Lomond, California, attending a workshop called Business Among
Friends: Clerking as a Spiritual Discipline, to explore methods of
business decision-making used in the Quaker community. See Sue's blog:
==September 2010 Visitors to the San Francisco Office==
* Clay Shirky (Wikimedia Foundation- Advisory Board)
* Kate Filbert (Screen Sprint)
* Quiddity (Screen Sprint)
* Another Believer (Screen Sprint)
* Peregrine Fisher (Screen Sprint)
* John Broughton (Screen Sprint)
* Orangemike (Screen Sprint)
* Laura Hale (Screen Sprint)
* HJ Mitchell (Screen Sprint)
* Dave Cummings
* Mark Gibson
* Daniel Scarpelli
* Xochi Birch
* Itzik Edri (Wikimedia Israel)
* James Forrester
* Austin Hair
* Timothy Garton Ash
* David Munir Nabti
* Yasuda Yutaka
* Rose Shuman
* Special Agents from the San Francisco FBI Field Office,
Cybersecurity Division (invited brown bag presentation)
* Harel Cain (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
* Deror Avi (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
* Shay Yakir (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
* Amir Aharoni (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
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