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Activity overhead

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

The SORP definitions (and even PQASSO) can be twisted around by able politicians in several unhelpful ways, as can almost every accounting standard. With Wikimedia chapters in mind, a clear definition could be based on defining the highest "value" coming from end charitable outcomes of open knowledge projects with the necessary activities directly contributing to those outcomes. Everything else must be of less value (being secondary or tertiary activities) and should be managed to be as lean and minimal as reasonably possible within the framework of national legislative requirements or necessary reporting to ensure high quality transparency. Benchmarking would be essential to assess those necessary but less valued activities.

So, we can break down activities by outcome value rather than forming an arbitrary and possibly destructive definition of bureaucracy:

  • Highest value – activities, coordination and communication that directly delivers open knowledge goals such as preserving open knowledge, improving user guides for how-to share knowledge, providing access to open knowledge, or curating open knowledge.
    Examples: Delivering an editathon, developing tools for end-users like cat-a-lot, video transcoding, or citation tools.
  • Medium value – coordination of volunteer proposals or expense payments, running conferences for Wikimedians to share best practices, paying for research into better methods of access to open knowledge.
    Examples: WIR programmes with editathons, WMF individual grants, Eduwiki/GLAMwiki conferences, Chapter or WMF employees who support programmes to deliver open knowledge outcomes.
  • Lowest value – necessary bureaucracy or internal facing activities with indirect outcomes for open knowledge.
    Examples: WMF or Chapter employees and their offices (rent, facilities) who manage the bureaucracy such as annual accounts, budget management annual funding proposals, general fund-raising management, HR management of employees, payments to lawyers, accountants, consultants for activities that are not directly contributing to more open knowledge assets, board meetings, Wikimania.

These definitions avoid endless ruddy pointless debate about whether "administration" includes paying for a volunteer's train ticket or not. Obviously, putting Wikimania as lowest value is controversial, however any contribution towards open knowledge could be done far more directly and much of the expense of running it comes down to flying so many people around the world and hiring an expensive location, during which very little is delivered for open knowledge even though this may stimulate people to agree future productive projects.