[Wikimedia Announcements] [Backlog] April 2010 Wikimedia Foundation report

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Tue Nov 30 05:18:07 UTC 2010


earlier this year we fell behind on the monthly reports, and
April-June were never published. For historical completeness, we're
writing up reports for these missing months. April is below. Thanks to
Steven Walling for helping with this.

So, this is for reporting enthusiasts. ;-) Please consult our most
recent reports for up-to-date information.

As always, the formatted version is on Meta:




* More than 120 chapter representatives and developers meet at the
Wikimedia Conference Berlin
* Bishakha Datta joins the Board of Trustees
* Air travel disruptions lead to stranded Wikimedians and limited Board meeting
* Wikimedia Commons becomes first production site to adopt MediaWiki's
new look and feel

==Key Metrics==
:Global unique visitors: 375 Million (+1.1% compared to previous
month, +17.1% compared to previous year)
:Page requests: 11.7 Billion (-0.1% compared to the previous month,
+7.4% compared to the previous year)

The monthly report card for April 2010 can be found at:


Please note the errata published at:


==Key Financial Metrics==

:Operating revenue year-to-date: 14.6MM vs. plan of $9.3MM.
:Total annual plan is $10.4MM.
:Operating expenses year-to-date: $7.3MM vs. plan of $7.8MM.
:Total annual plan is $9.2MM.

On the revenue side, business Development is still behind, all other
areas well over plan. YTD spending is closing gap and only 7% below

As of May 12th, unrestricted cash and cash equivalents were $13.4MM,
of this amount $10MM are in unrestricted CDs and US Treasury Bonds.

==Wikimedia Conference Berlin, 2010 and volcano aftermath ==

On April 14-16, the Wikimedia Conference Berlin brought together more
than 120 Wikimedians from over 30 countries, including representatives
of international chapter organizations, MediaWiki developers, and
Wikimedia Foundation  staff for presentations, workshops, and informal
conversations. The conference was organized by Wikimedia Germany. It
was co-sponsored by Wikimedia Germany, other Wikimedia chapters, and
the Wikimedia Foundation.

The conference was split into a chapters meeting and a developers
workshop. During the chapters meeting, each Wikimedia chapter was
given the opportunity to present its program activities as well as the
current state of the chapter in lightning talks. There were additional
deep-dive sessions and presentations focusing on issues such as
institutional partnerships, Wikimedia in developing countries, and

The developers conference consisted of informal hacking and
unconference-style workshops on a number of key issues such as user
experience, accessibility, and metadata.

The conference took place in the Zanox Campus building near the river
Spree. More information about the conference can be found at:


Many attendees, including Wikimedia Foundation staff, were affected by
the ash cloud from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
Eyjafjallajökull, which caused major air traffic disruption throughout
Europe. Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Foundation administrative
staff provided support to stranded attendees to ensure that everyone
could make their way home safely. The disruption resulted in
significant additional hotel and travel costs.

The engineering community assigned the blame for the volcano to
Icelandic developer Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason in the form of a bug
report, initially called "Developers (and WMF Staff) need way out of
Europe" and finally suggesting a new branch office in Europe:


== Bishakha Datta joins the Board; April Board meeting ==

In April, following an extensive search process, Bishakha Datta was
appointed to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. Board chair
Michael Snow wrote in his announcement:

: We have now filled that seat by appointing Bishakha Datta, a
journalist, filmmaker,  and nonprofit leader from India. (...) By way
of background, Bishakha runs a nonprofit based in Mumbai that focuses
on conveying women's perspectives in culture and the media. She  also
has been involved in other international nonprofit work, and her
knowledge of India should be a great help to us as we move forward
with  the strategic plan. In general, her experience will be a
wonderful asset  and I think she is an ideal fit for the remaining
board seat.


Several Trustees were unable to attend the April 2010 Board of
Trustees meeting in person due to the volcanic ash cloud. Trustees
unable to physically attend were connected to the meeting through
Skype and IRC. As a result the Board meeting was led by Vice-Chair
Jan-Bart de Vreede. The Board condensed agenda items to make the
meeting manageable for the remote attendees.

The two main activities conducted at the meeting were a recap of the
strategic planning project, including creation of a draft resolution,
and a restructuring of the Board commitees include clear mandates,
assignment of chairs for each commitee, and a discussion of what (if
any) needed decommissioning.

== Strategic Planning and Business Planning ==

In April, Eugene and Philippe joined the Berlin meetings, taking the
opportunity to talk to developers about core infrastructure needs, and
to meet with chapters about their role in the strategic planning
process. The Strategy task force was created to manage the broad
questions around the mechanics of writing the final strategic plan.
Draft language was moved out, and discussion of the plan began.

All departments contributed to the development of the organization's
2010-11 annual plan and five-year projections for hiring and program
activities as an outcome of the strategic planning process.

== Technology ==

=== Usability and Features ===

Wikimedia Commons was the first Wikimedia Foundation production wiki
to adopt the user experience improvements that resulted from the
Wikimedia Usability Initiative. This first deployment helped surface
additional issues both related to various browser/platform problems as
well as language-specific issues. Blog update:


The Commons tech community supported making gadget and user scripts
compatible prior to the switch, which helped tremendously. The overall
reaction was positive:


The engineering team prepared for a roll-out of the user experience
improvements to the English Wikipedia in May. As the English Wikipedia
accounts for half of our traffic, careful planning for the switch took
place. The operations team increased caching capacity. Guidelines for
localization of a revised Wikipedia logo were prepared to cascade the
new design of the new logo to 270+ languages. Communications materials
such as an FAQ and a feedback page were set-up to handle the high
volume of inquiries openly and quickly.

Preparation continued for a first usability study to assess the media
uploading interface, as well as development work on the new upload

Work continued on LiquidThreads (an enhanced Wikimedia discussion
system) bug triage and resolution, which benefited from the production
use on StrategyWiki. Other LiquidThreads improvements included support
for LQT data in the Wikimedia datatabase dump system, as well as work
on live preview.

At the Berlin meeting, the team met Maria Schiewe, an accessibility
expert and board member of Wikimedia Germany, and learned how
to make the site accessible to people with challenges with vision and
hearing. A Wikimedia Accessibility Initiative was kicked off by Maria
Schiewe, Samuel Klein, and DannyB to improve the accessibility of
Wikimedia projects, and in order to incorporate the accessibility
support into the user experience work going forward:


Engineering presentations by Trevor Parscal and Neil Kandalgaonkar can
be found at:

=== General Engineering ===

Preparation continued for a 1.16 release of MediaWiki core, including
backports and bug fixes. Varnish was tested to work as a reverse proxy
for the Selenium grid and the usability prototype wikis.


We made the Amsterdam network fully redundant with a new topology and
through the use of high availability protocols, and tested it in
practice by pulling plugs. We also performed a successful failover
test for Amsterdam to Florida. We made a wish list to support a
possible in-kind donation of equipment for the planned new Primary
Data Center.

We upgraded equipment and software in both the Tampa Data Center and
in the European Caching Center, including: 32 new Squid servers and 10
miscellaneous servers ordered, racked and installed in Haarlem, all
Florida Squids upgraded to newer Squid and Ubuntu releases,
infrastructure prepared for automatic installations of the new Ubuntu
8.10 Lucid LTS release, 10 new database servers brought online,
decommissioned servers shipped out to interested non-profits.

System Administration is testing monitoring software called WatchMouse
as an alternative to Keynote, and setting up a trial page.

Our New Dataset server is back up and receiving page hit counts.
Barring any more hardware issues we will be switching to it and
increasing the amount of data sets.  Unfortunately, we found a show
stopper bug on the existing snapshot system

WikiReader finalized its packaging and is deployed in some markets in
the US. We are about to make a final decision on a multi-partner
project for Wikipedia offline USB sticks.

We've released a new version of the Wikipedia App - Now with
GeoLocation and also lots of bugfixes and performance tweaks for
server to support rapid growth. We also drafted new policies for
supporting additional mobile partners.

We've successfully hired 2 new engineers, and have drafted and
prioritized a new set of projects for 2010-2011. There have been
ongoing system issues with PayPal that will need to be actively
debugged in May. We have a manual work-around using the Audit System,
and are processing orders but it is taking a lot of Program Staff
time.  We were forced to turn off credit card processing in mid-April
due to excessive fraudulent $1 charges. We are investigating
implementation of improved fraud detection by contractor Four
Kitchens. Transaction audit system drafted and put into place.

==Other Program Activities==

In April a final grant proposal was submitted to the Stanton
Foundation for the Public Policy Initiative, a proposed large-scale
project to improve Wikipedia articles in partnership with university
courses. This was in concert with work on budgeting, strategic
planning, and communications planning for both the Public Policy
Initiative and the "Bookshelf" public outreach resource development
project, as well as on-boarding the new Bookshelf Project Manager.

As part of the Bookshelf project, a video by Common Craft was
published on Wikimedia Commons as a tutorial of the Verifiability and
Neutral Point of View policies and practices within the community, and
a framework for localization of the video was created. The video can
be found at:


Through early/mid-April the Foundation experienced a relatively quiet
media exposure. With Larry Sanger's public allegations about materials
on Wikimedia Commons, coverage began to rise up around the story,
ultimately leading to mainstream coverage of the story after Fox News
published Sanger's comments and further repeated a number of false
claims on its site. Much of late April was spent working internally
and externally on this issue.

Communications efforts were also focused on preparations for the user
experience roll-out and outreach with Wikimedia's chapters at the
conference in Berlin.

An announcement regarding Bishakha Datta was released:
''Indian Journalist and filmmaker Bishakha Datta joins Wikimedia
Foundation Board of Trustees'' (April 5, 2010)


Media organizations the communications department interfaced with this
month include: Heise Online (Germany), V3.co.uk (London, UK), ABC
Nightly News (New York, NY), NewTeeVee.com (San Francisco, CA), Wired
News (London, UK), San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA).

===Fundraising and Grants===
The Community Gifts team spent the month of April budgeting for the
coming year and setting up CiviCRM for effective management of middle
and major donor relationships. The benefactors page was also updated,
with old listings being asked to renew their gifts or be archived to
another page. In response to this appeal 25% of gifts were renewed. At
the end of April the team planned their trip to Bristol for the
Fundraising Summit and attended CiviCon where they presented
Wikimedia's use of CiviCRM.

April was a busy month for major donor programs. Jimmy and Rebecca
spent three days in New York meeting with donors, and logistics for
the Harnisch Foundation NYC event were established (to be held in
October). Major gift activities also focussed on streamlining our
communication with all donors, major and otherwise.

===Business Development===
In late April a partnership with Facebook was announced which enabled
the large scale inclusion of Wikipedia articles by the new Community
Pages on the site. This arrangement allowed for wider distribution of
free content from Wikipedia.

Foundation-l mailing list announcement by Kul Wadhwa:

===Finance & Administration===
Form 990 was filed with the IRS and posted (with FAQs) to Wikimedia
Foundation website. Negotiations continued for the 6th floor lease. A
rough draft of 2010-11 financial plan was completed. An agreement was
signed with Altour travel agency to replace Egencia in order to
improve flexibility in travel.

Form 990:

Mike Godwin developed settlement plans with the Wikimedia Foundation
French lawyers over a defamation case in France. The settlement mainly
involved meeting to allow the plaintiffs to express their grievances,
and did not involve a monetary settlement.

Godwin worked with Outeach Officer Pete Forsyth to negotiate free
licenses with academic authors who want to submit materials to
Wikimedia projects. In collaboration with Rob Halsell of Operations
and outside counsel, Wikimedia worked on the transfer of domain names
we've won through trademark enforcement. Legal also aided Wikimedia
Germany in responding to press queries about outcomes in a German
legal case.

==Wikimedia at Museums and the Web conference ==
On Tuesday, 13 April 2010 over 50 leaders from the global museum
sector were invited to meet with 11 Wikimedians for a day-long
workshop in Denver, Colorado, to discuss collaboration between the two
communities.  Wikimedia staff and community representation included
Liam Wyatt, Mathias Schindler, Guillaume Paumier, Erik Moeller, Kat
Walsh, Samuel Klein, Adrianne Wadewitz, Maarten Dammers, and Richard


* Aradhana Datta Ravindra, temporary Project Manager for the Bookshelf
Project, was hired.
* Philippe Beaudette was promoted to Head of Reader Relations.
* Howie Fung was hired full time as a Senior Product Manager.

Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

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