Wikimedia Conference 2011/Documentation/Working Groups: Toolserver Governance

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Present:

  • River (UK/DE)
  • Mike (UK) (Andrew on the original list)
  • Alessio Gudetti (Italia) (Luka on the original list)
  • Andreiy Makukha (Ukraine) (not part of the original list)
  • Marek Stelmasik (Polska) (on list)
  • Pavel Ricter (WMDE) (on list)
  • Erik Moller (WMF)
  • Daniel Kinzler (WMDE) (on list)
  • Alice (WMDE)

A year ago, WMDE approached other chapters saying that the toolserver doesn't need to just be a WMDE project (historically: due to need, money in DE and capacity). Other chapters now capable of contributing, and can be brought on board. Didn't work.

Last year: 6 months to discuss rules, financial entry fee of €5000. Dedicated mailing list created. Then nothing. List/project never took off.

WMDE: hired River to professionally manage the toolserver, and invested funds into hardware.

WMF wasn't on board last year, and isn't on the mailing list. Useful to have as part of the discussion.

WMDE now has €60k in annual budget for the toolserver.

Lots of ideas about what could be done, but no-one doing it.

Financials: should be relatively easy.

Possible explanation: trying to do something that cannot, or should not be done, as chapters. Possibly should be one single chapter?

WMUK: have £10k budgeted. Problem with participation has been time. Can transfer money for charitable activities.

WMIT: can also transfer money.

WMDE: idea of having a joint governance body is to determine how money is spent, and what the aims.

Could approach this by one chapter leading, setting out a plan, and consulting with other partners to get their input + approval.

Also legal concerns: still feel that as long as WMDE owns the hardware where Wikipedia content is available, this could lead to legal troubles.

WMF: last 18 months, had discussions about best enabling volunteers - anywhere in the world, from any project - to do amazing stuff. Toolserver is a cool project - done lots of things that support the projects. Also unusual cf. everything else - only technical operations done outside of the WMF, and doesn't need to be as perfect/reliable as the rest of the hosting. Toolserver today is not the infrastructure that will support things globally, nor would grow to do this. Hence "Wikimedia labs" - 1.5 million dollars in staffing and resources to start building this project. Long term, starting this calendar year; will start giving volunteers access to computing resources from the Foundation. Ultimately will provide functionality that is a superset of everything the toolserver does, plus more, tied in with mediawiki development as a whole. Can't see this replacing the toolserver functionality until the end of 2012. WMF won't give funds to the toolserver from now on. This project wouldn't be happening without the toolserver's trailblazing.

WMDE: Toolserver good for small projects that can be put together very quickly, without the long process of getting approved and integrated into the foundation sites.

New service: 'labs' environment that will enable speedy deployment, without code review or sign-off.

Being involved in toolserver:

  • PL: toolserver important for what's going on on the wikis. Lots of polish users have accounts on the toolserver; should also participate in running that. Hence helping with money and ideas.
  • IT: agree.
  • UA: not sure if UA users use the toolserver, but lots of bots etc. So making own toolserver. Connectivity project: resources cut, was a problem for UA wikipedia.
  • RU: think it is important.
  • UK: important, used a lot, want to support its continual existence.
  • DE: important; easy way to spend money; good PR.

(Also: topic of offsite backups. Distinct from this discussion though.)

WMF hosting: natural, and clarifies legal issue.

Probably won't affect Polish toolserver: mostly used for local access and communication issues.

Language barrier is an issue: German toolserver requires a comprehension of English.

Currently budgeted:

  • IT: €5,000, can easily be changed.
  • PL: not calculated, can easily be changed. Need to investigate how taxpayer's money can be used; strict rules on spending this money.
  • RU: 50,000USD not currently allocated; some of this could be spent on the toolserver.
  • UK: £10k +- £5k
  • DE: €60k

So overall, approx. €100k available for the toolserver this year.

  • Shopping list: River will send around the current version.
  • Running cost: power, rack space, etc. Administration cost (potentially having a second person administering).
  • Daniel: Detailed list needs to be put together.

WMF: planning are internal requirements (being worked on atm; shared with Pawel and Daniel), and preliminary budgetary planning (not yet finalised - next few months). Currently no roadmap.

End of 2011: first volunteer access.

WMDE: makes sense that they continue the running of the current toolserver. Who takes over the lead over the question of how chapters will react to the new situation from the WMF? "What could the toolserver look like in 2012?" Needs to be WMDE.

May want to offer it post-2012 for legacy maintenance.

Chapters will invest substantial amounts of money to the toolserver this year, and the coming year; will share the shopping list/budget with every chapter that wants to invest; chapters then get back to say "agree; here's money for this item". Not pursuing the idea of forming a legal body.

Accounting done by WMDE office. Question over what needs to be bought, and why, is Daniel + River.