Grants:APG/Funds Dissemination Committee/Nominations/Q&A/2014

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The Question and Answer portion of the FDC nominations process has now closed. Thank you for your participation! We hope that you, as a member of the community, will continue to engage in the process.

Contents

Background[edit]

As part of the 2014 self-nomination process to fill four vacancies on the FDC, this is the community question and answer page. Candidates who have self-nominated are asked to review and answer questions that are posed to them individually and as a whole group. The FDC staff kindly asks that these questions from community members are on-topic and relevant to the FDC nominations process. They should be focused on the skills and experiences needed by FDC candidates. Many thanks for your participation!

June 1–30, 2014: Public question and answer from community members to candidates

Questions to all candidates[edit]

Application form[edit]

To the second-language speakers, thank you very much for writing in English – I think we're all more interested in clear and logical thinking than the niceties of one particular language! In the interests of accessibility, may I suggest that all responses be short and tight: try to get your key points across at the opening, then unpack them with just enough detail that Wikimedians who are knowledgeable in this area will see that you know what you're talking about.

My single question below is to allow you to display your technical insights into grantmaking. I'm looking for a fresh, individual component in each candidate's response, even if some of you may agree with much of what the others have already written.

The question. So, let's assume that we might try to improve the structure of the application form (and any official written advice for applicants) by doing two things that may at first seem to be contradictory:

(a) minimising affiliates' task of writing their application; and

(b) maximising the ease with which the FDC and staff can judge applications.

In this dual undertaking, briefly, which parts of the application form would you reduce in length, or even eliminate; and for which parts would you require more detail? To put it another way: can you provide some pointers as to how to redesign the form to expose the relative strengths and weaknesses of each proposal with a minimum of application text?

Tony (talk) 14:13, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Milos Rancic[edit]

I am not quite introduced into the workflow of the FDC, but I was thinking previous days that a [computer] application could be created for FDC (and grantees), which would include various ways of tracking grantees applications in a bit more formal way, so both sides would be able to know what to expect. It could also allow chapters to start working on applications early (for example, some of the programs for the year 2016 could be known by the chapters and they could start preparing it now, with feedback given by FDC at the time out of peak involvement). It would also contribute to the transparency of the process.

I also think that FDC should take active approach in discussion with grantees. Some chapters don't need any help. However, smaller chapters need to be nurtured for few years for sure. That assume active participation of the FDC members and staff in building their applications. I think that it is very unproductive that grantees are building their expectations without timely feedback by FDC. Narrowing the whole process on acceptance/rejection is quite bureaucratic.

We are here for the common goal and the main purpose of FDC is to give grants (to recommend to the Board, of course), not to create good background for its own decisions. So, instead of the approach "why something can't be done", I am much more interested into the approach "how something can be done". --Millosh (talk) 15:50, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Mike Peel[edit]

Thanks Tony for your difficult question. :-) Keeping my answers brief, I'd suggest:

  • Minimise the background information part. Most of this shouldn't change between applications, so could be done on a separate page, and anything that does change should be flagged as it will be interesting (e.g. membership trends over years, rather than snapshots of membership numbers each year);
  • Decrease the qualitative information part. Encourage wikilinking to background and additional information that already exists rather than writing it again afresh;
  • Increase the quantitative information part. We currently ask for financial information on each entity that is somewhat disjointed (try figuring out the link between tables 7, 8 and 9 in the applications forms, and then turning that into an overall understanding of the numbers for the organisation - it's often rather unclear how to do this!); this could be made a lot simpler by asking for a single wikitable / spreadsheet export that might ask for a bit more information but would clearly link all of the information together.
  • Focus on SMART goals, and express them clearly in the application, either overall rather than by each program that the organisation is running, or consistently across all of the programs (potentially through the same table/spreadsheet from my previous point).
  • Support better translation of the application and reporting documents. I'd like to see organisations budgeting for any translation work they need that their volunteers can't do for whatever reason. Language shouldn't be a barrier here, although it is important that the process takes place in a 'universal' language to maximise its accessibility.

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:35, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Thuvack[edit]

Well, this is a tricky one. My answer however is simple... I would change Nothing on the application forms for the FDC process. My view is that Annual plans should be well thought of in advance by the applying entity before submitting a proposal. In view of the amounts of money usually being requested, it follows that the level of detail should be deeper than that of a normal project grant. So too the level of responsibility. If the application is though-rough then the reporting becomes much easier to do. At the end of the day its the accountability that is paramount.--Thuvack (talk) 12:01, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

On the whole, I think the form is pretty good. I think it might be an idea to develop a chart format for the SWOT analysis; not only would it be easier to read, but I think it would help the applicants to be more focused in their assessments. I personally find one of the more important parts of the document to be the applicant's reflections on past activities, and I would encourage applicants to include an assessment of all of the major projects/goals that they included in their previous year's plan. (I would also suggest that these sections be aggregated separately for educational purposes throughout the movement − we often learn more from failures than successes − but that isn't strictly an FDC role.) Risker (talk) 04:11, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Sunkissedguy[edit]

Thank you for this question. I think the application form itself is concise and captures all the necessary information for the FDC to come up with a fair and balanced decision.

If I would be given a chance to update the application form, I would like the "Upcoming year's annual plan: strengths, opportunities and threats" to be in a table instead of writing it in a paragraph. This not only reduces the reading time for the FDC and staff, it also helps the grantee to collect his thoughts properly and focus on a per line item topic. This portion of the application form may appear uninteresting because of the way it is usually written but the SWAT analysis helps you identify the factors that can make or break a a project, program and even an organization.

I would also like to include a self assessment rating to quantify the risks. This way, the grantees can brainstorm and collectively identify, analyze and rate their risks. They can do this offline and just put the highest risks (top 5 or 10)in the application form. We can use a 5 point scale (5 being the highest rating) to quantify these risks based on its likelihood from happening and its impact to a project, program or the whole organization. At the same time, put the "mitigation measure" and the "risk rating after mitigation" as part of the table. I placed a rough example below. (note that this is just an example)

Name of the Risk Description Likelihood Impact Mitigation Likelihood (after mitigation) Impact (after mitigation)
FX Rate Risk Sudden fluctuation/depreciation of local currency vs. USD leading to weaker purchasing capacity for the applicant 5 5 negotiate with vendors and come up with a mutual agreement 3 5
Staff or Board transition voluntary or involuntary separation of a staff/board from the organization 4 3 perform turn over sessions with departing staff/board and ensure proper delegation of his/her tasks during transition 3 2

Changing the way this portion of the application is being presented makes a difference and it will make it easier for both the FDC and the grant applicants.--Sunkissedguy (talk) 03:41, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for your question Tony. My opinion on the current shape of the application form is that a larger portion of it focuses on things that are not directly concerned with the annual plan. For instance, the whole sections "community engagement" and "reflection on past programs and activities", albeit being important for examining the credibility of the applicant, should be relocated to the discussion page as default questions since they are more relevant for the process of evaluation rather than the description of the annual plan. It is also apparent that most of the questions included in these sections match with the thoughts that are usually posted on the discussion page from the people committed to evaluating that specific request. On the other hand, there seems to be a lack of questions demanding information about the way that the measures of success address specific strategic priorities, as well as the underlying perspectives of each programme and the potential future benefits coming from it. Finally, a simple way to shorten the overall length of the application and thereby make it easier for evaluating might be to limit the extent of the text in words for some questions, as applicants often do not abstract many unnecessary details from their descriptions and sometimes even forget to mention important things.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 12:32, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven[edit]

Thanks Tony for the interest you as a Signpost reporter have in these nominations. The FDC recommends to the board on amounts to be disseminated to affiliates based on forms submitted. I'm not aware the FDC is directly involved in the design of the form or the design of the process. Nonetheless, the FDC performs a critical role in disseminating funds collected by the Wikimedia Foundation to affiliates with which the Wikimedia Foundation has established long term mutual support relationship agreements. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 18:43, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Lodewijk Gelauff[edit]

Thanks for your questions. I have neither been an FDC applicant, nor reviewed FDC applications in any formal capacity at this point. Therefore, I would like to postpone my suggestions for improvement - although you can be confident that at some point in the future I would give them (I can't stop myself giving constructive criticism). However, I can give you some general directions on my thoughts.

I get the impression from multiple FDC-applying affiliates that the work load for preparing and filling out the form is high to the extent that it has become a significant part of single employees' jobs to simply report to the WMF. I would like to see where we can blend WMF-procedures with procedures the organizations have to go through anyway for national-legal reasons (i.e. annual report to their members). I will also monitor bureaucracy creep - committees reviewing stuff often have the tendency to ask for a little more information every time, trying to reach better decisions. Every little bit of additional information is perhaps reasonable to ask for on itself, but put together it becomes a lot.

I have gotten signals that while the FDC indicated that they would like to communicate on pre-final applications to help draft effective proposals, the applicants do not feel this is actually the case. If selected, I would try to evaluate this communication (and review what evaluations have happened already on the topic).

I may make suggestions with regards to the time table (although I don't think this is up to the FDC?) and how well this fits into the regular budgeting process of the applicants. And finally, I would of course try hard to listen to input from the applicants and FDC staff - they know best what parts cost them relatively the most effort.

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

Thanks Tony for your question. The tension between how much we ask the affiliates and how much the FDC can process properly is an issue that has always been present since the creation of the FDC, and has been discussed several times, for example, in the FDC Advisory Committee. This is especially important considering that the number of affiliates requesting funds will probably grow in the coming years, while the FDC membership will remain constant. We must avoid a possible burn out of the FDC members or reach a situation in which applications are not reviewed with the consideration they require.

On the grantees side, I know that the application process is often considered very complex and exhausting; but honestly, I think the process currently is not an excessive burden, considering the amount of involved money. If an affiliate is not able to submit a complete and valid application to the FDC (which is easier than several other grants programs for NGOs), I don’t think it will be able to handle amounts exceeding 100,000 dollars.

However, I do think that the application form can be more focused, allowing the FDC to have a better view of each affiliate and grantees to express and reflect better their intentions and their ability to impact. Currently, I think the form is bit too oriented to specific programs, especially considering funds are granted as “general funds” (which is the main difference with the PEG, for example). In my opinion, we should encourage more general questions, showing for example how decisions are made in the affiliates, which are the priorities of the institution or how you plan to measure impact. I don’t think it is needed to specify in great detail every program, considering they often change (in some cases, it can take up to 15 months between the application and the implementation of the program). For example, more than the specific measures of success, at the application form we should know how these indicators will be defined once the program is run; all specifications, including final indicators and details of the programs, should be included and evaluated in the several progress reports made by the affiliates.

One of the proposals I’ve heard several times talking with members of our community is to ask the affiliates if they could fund only one program, what it should be. It's a simple question, but it can help a lot; we will quickly see if the chapter is well oriented, if its priorities are aligned with the movement, etc. --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 13:49, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

Thank you for the question Tony. I think the form is mostly well focused on the matters it is trying to essence, and most of the questions are pointing at valid issues that needs addressing. That being said:

  • I would increase the amount of focus on metrics, mostly for returning grantees and reduce (a bit) the focus on long description of actions/intentions. For instance: The question: What are the programs or activities that did not work for your organization in the past? What did you learn from those experiences? What changes were made after learning from these experiences? invites a paragraph about stuff that didn't work, but it doesn't focus on metrics that might explain this unsuccessful program or activity. It is great to ask the question in a manner that let the grantee express there experience, but on the other hand requesting for metrics would make the question better.
  • I would like the form be friendly for the grantee, but not sacrifice important details needed. Since we are talking about large amount of money it is necessary to ask all the needed questions to verify donors money goes to programs the support our mission. This means taking the questions that exist now, and verify they all align with this crucial prerequisite.
  • I would like the form to be translated into every language a grantee might need (even paid) so people who don't speak fluent English can write it in there native language and then a translator will translate it into English. Matanya (talk) 13:20, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Netha Hussain[edit]

I think the application form in its present version is concise and well-focused on priority areas. However, I'd like to make a few subtle changes to the existing form, if I am permitted to do so :

  • Some details about the background history of the organization may be made more brief by re-formatting the structure into a chart so that the details can be figured out in the first glance.
  • I will add a fresh question asking the entity to report the details regarding obtaining funds from organizations other than Wikimedia affiliates, if any.
  • The report may be kept open for translation to the local language(s) of the geographical region where the entity is located. This would enable the community members to engage more productively with comments and suggestions.
  • Considering that the application form is being filled up by full time staff members who are not usually active Wikimedia editors, the interface should be made more user friendly. The questions in the form may be asked in a step-by-step format using dialog boxes, with an option to save the responses at any time and resume later. Once the application is complete, the wiki code should get generated automatically, and the form should be marked as 'Complete'.
  • The questions about what worked and what did not work may be re-formatted as learning patterns. Only the link of the patterns may be shared in the application form to help the applicants to be precise and unambigous on the form. --Netha Hussain (talk) 14:43, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann[edit]

Making real improvements to the application form requires a thorough understanding of how the various processes are actually implemented in practice and how the artefacts are being used within the various social contexts they are embedded in. As I haven’t gained any insider experience of the process, I will abstain from making any concrete proposals here. On a more general note, I believe that formal requirements of the application process should reflect real needs in terms of the objectives of the FDC process (alignment with strategic goals, accountability, organizational learning) and that forms and other formal requirements should undergo regular review taking into account the perspectives of the various stakeholders involved in the process. This regular review is also an instrument that should prevent bureaucratic creep from eventually undermining the very objectives of the FDC process.

Smallbones[edit]

Tony, I thought this was a very difficult question until I read all the ideas above. It seems that just about everybody is in basic agreement - keep it simple- so all we need is a simple implementation. So I've given a basic example how it might be done at User:Smallbones/draft form.

  • It is divided into 2 parts
    • A basic information page which has information that doesn't change very often, e.g. "mission" and "founding date". There is room for other information that can be updated throughout the year as is most convenient for the organization, e.g. "recent examples of successful programs". Very little information on this page has to wait until just before the application is made. A quick review before sending in the application should cover most of it.
    • A simple spreadsheet in a pretty standard format. In the example I show, only 15 numbers need to be entered to create the proposed application. Different organizations would need to select different spending sub-categories (the yellow lines), but that should be easy enough.
  • These two pages have about 90% of the information requested in the current application form, and I suggest further simplification and information reduction based on feedback from chapters.
  • All comments appreciated at the talk page there

It was mentioned at the FDC Advisory Group that applicants who have had experience applying for other grants consider our process to not be very difficult. That likely is true, but we will have many applicants who do not have much experience applying for grants. Also, that information from experienced applicants may well reflect more on the practices of other granting organization rather than on us :-) By keeping our process fast and lean, we may well be able to set a standard of excellence for other internet organizations who give grants. Smallbones (talk) 18:56, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

MikyM[edit]

Thank you for the question, Tony. Last year, I was on the other side of FDC as an applicant, and I had direct insight to the way this entire system works. I noticed that during this year, there have been some changes on the application itself and that some questions are different. I have to say that I'm mostly satisfied with the current application form and the manner in which whole FDC process works. In addition to what is in the application itself, FDC receives a great deal of information and support from FDC staff. Given that this is an internal communication between them, I'm not sure what kind of information is given, but I would like to have an insight into their financial history (I know that we have financial reports, but sometimes they are incomprehensible) and the way those chapters have been working in the past year or two.

Rsrikanth05[edit]

Simple answer from me. The form doesn't have obvious flaws. What we can try is a Self Assessment system of sorts which would make things far easier. This works in the real world in other fields, why not in the FDC then? An annual plan, or calendar of events can also be added, but these can be made optional based on the applicants record.


Abhijith Jayanthi[edit]

The application form at present is concise and captures all the necessary inputs needed for a broad evaluation. While seeking financial history is important, I would recommend having an additional information section for the applicant to propose a structured audit/monitoring mechanism in-line with the practices in their country. Dissemination will be a successful practice, only if the end-use is rightly monitored and documented. Few of the chapters have engagements with local Non-Profits for regulatory reasons, and this will need careful scrutiny, considering end-fund use should be monitored as per the applicant's monitoring commitments laid out.


Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

This is a really tricky question Tony and a really good one, both in terms of improving the life of FDC\Staff AND applicants.

Firstly, I sympathize with the ideas of Mike Peel like with a reduction of the self-description, however we all know that these data need to be gathered and the only way to reduce it is to move them to a more standardized, obligatory annual/quarter report.

Secondly, an obvious missing point are metrics showing if the previous strategic goals have been completed (e.g. if "Turkish Wikipedia" aimed for 15% growth last year it should show the results this year and possibly comment). And I do not agree with a notion of moving sone parts out as they are a part of evaluation not of a plan - the evaluation remains a core of FDC so unless stronger auditing with a seperate form is started (which I would recommend) it needs to stay somewhere.

Thirdly, I think that the SWOT part should include information how precisely the particular points are being addressed (e.g. this programme aims to improve the weakness X or "we feel that we do not have capacity to act here at the moment"). The risk analysis proposed by Sunkissedguy is a nice classic and could be encouraged but I am not sure if it should be obligatory. If I were to increase the reporting burden, I would ask for more hard data e.g. regarding expenses.

However, these are only initial thoughts and I am sure that discussions between FDC members, staff and applicants e.g. on Wikimania would be highly beneficial.

Bull in the china shop[edit]

In Switzerland we experienced first signs of unpleasant behavior against "wikipedia as an organization" because of money and money distribution, for two reasons:

  • people want to approach "wikipedia" to get their pet project funded, and contact the local wikimedia CH first. the rules are strict and there is little autonomy to act local and think global. so the answer is often no.
  • people want to apply for funding at a local body, and do not get the funding because "wikipedia" got it. the statement is: why does wikipedia need to use traditional funding channels, if it has its website.

Some persons then perceive Wikipedia as bull in the china shop, and do hesitate to volunteer. Often these persons are opinion leaders. Finding volunteers in richer countries is quite a challenge, and putting stress on factors which reduce the willingness to volunteer seems contradictory. The FDC recommendations read recently "please find funding elsewhere" - which - instead of relaxing the above perceivements, do increase them. should the wikipedia movement be perceived in many countries just as one of the thousands organizations quarreling for government and whoevers foundation money? how do you feel about it? --ThurnerRupert (talk) 01:19, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Milos Rancic[edit]

My position is that Wikimedia movement should do its best to help projects aligned with our own goals, as well as to potentially integrate those people into the Wikimedia movement itself.

That said, I am always "on the side" of the grantees with the aim to align their projects to our goals. I am currently leading Microgrants 2014 project of Wikimedia Serbia and WMRS Board members could witness how persistent I am while convincing them to give grant to every project which has sense.

I am deeply against strict rules, as well as against strict interpretation of the current rules. However, we have some basic rules, which can't be run down. For example, all projects have to give free content, as well as just in very specific situations we could avoid insisting on usage of free software (however, software products have to be free software).

It should be kept in mind that a lot of decisions and activity lies on the local organization itself. Many people with good ideas come for support without clear idea how things should be done to be acceptable to a Wikimedia organization to fund them. In such cases, that local organization should work with grantees to align their projects into the Wikimedia goals.

No matter of being selected into the FDC, I'd like to get the list of the projects which WMCH rejected, along with the reason why they have been rejected. I am sure that WMCH could have approved at least a part of those projects. --Millosh (talk) 17:36, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Thuvack[edit]

In general I feel that as a movement we need to balance our expenditure in order to continue being independent and sustainable. As such the Annual plan funding will remain one of the larger expenditures we have. This however doesnt mean that we should not encourage applicants to look for external funds to supplement the funds they would be receiving for their annual planning. In fact this should be encouraged and supported. As for being a bull in a china shop, I am not sure this would be the case in many parts of the world, especially the developing countries. --Thuvack (talk) 12:01, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Sunkissedguy[edit]

I believe that rules are there to act as guiding principles to any organization and to keep the organization in order. Although rules are considered controls placed to prevent undesirable instances from happening, I also believe that rules must not be absolute, because there will always be exceptional cases where some rules doesn't apply. These are the instances when you must use your principles and act in good faith. I am not familiar with the rules and processes of WMCH and I cannot speak on behalf of their members and their board, but I believe that whoever made the decisions regarding their funding proposals had objective reasons to do so. I guess the key here is how the decision was communicated, whoever made the decision must disclose the reasons for the rejection and the applicant can always challenge it.--Sunkissedguy (talk) 02:55, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Lodewijk Gelauff[edit]

Let's be honest: as a movement, we're indeed in a very luxurious position where it comes to money. Our major bottle neck is not money, it is volunteer resources. Our focus as a movement should first and foremost be on enabling our volunteers.

Related to your question, I will be direct: I disagree. I have advocated for years that affiliates find alternative resources to diversify their financial basis. It is unhealthy for independent associations to be dependent from a single source of income in the long run. Especially when that whole income depends on a single decision, every year. Even if you have unlimited trust in the FDC process (which I don't have - it's a committee made up by people) this is a tricky approach to reaching an annual budget. I would recommend the same if an organization were dependent on a different single source of income (for example only direct donations or only sponsorships for conferences).

However, I also recognize that situations are different in different countries. In some countries it is very realistic that a large amount of the income is from external grant requests (Scandinavia typically does well in this regards, Indonesia was very successful in this), tax benefits (Poland, Italy) or recurring donations outside the FDC mandate (UK - although it could be argued too this should be within the FDC mandate). I applaud chapters that have been able to actually diversify their income.

Because countries can be so different, and because we're dealing with independent associations, I would find it unreasonable from the FDC or board to demand from the applicants that they diversify. FDC can advise, but this is the prerogative of the ultimate authority within the applicant's structure: their General Assembly.

If this is perceived as unpleasant, and if people outside the movement consider this to be even rude (because we could make so much money from ads!) then this is a communication problem. It does not mean we should not give sound advice to our affiliates.

Smallbones[edit]

Chapters should be encouraged to get outside funding and they are not strictly limited to WMF goals in spending that money. They should stick to more general free culture movement goals, however. The German chapter handles this pretty well, perhaps you can ask them for advice on this.

But if the problem is that only vaguely related organizations come to you and say "You can get money but we can't, therefore you must support us," I'd say "no, thanks" as diplomatically as possible. It sounds like they want you to buy their friendship. The movement does not need expensive fair weather friends.

Mike Peel[edit]

I'm not sure I understand the thrust of your question here, but to hopefully answer some parts of it:

  • The difficulty that we as a movement has right now really is in terms of volunteer and organisational capacity, not in terms of money. I really hope that chapters increase their capacity (particularly their volunteer capacity) to get their work done thoroughly and properly; the way to do this is by developing their volunteers and community, and making sure they have the best people in place to support them. I also hope that more chapters can be "payment processors" again so that they get direct access to local donors, and can turn them into people that also give time rather than just money.
  • Relying on one fundraising mechanism only, though, is generally not good. Diversifying funding mechanisms makes sense, particularly if there are low barriers to entry to other funding streams. Also, getting funding isn't just about the money - it's also about learning how to explain why what you're doing is important, and building partnerships with funding organisations as well as the other organisations that they fund. This can lead to unexpected benefits and outcomes that can be very beneficial for the movement, particularly "in-kind donations" (gifts of time or resources).

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:11, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven[edit]

Your question relates to payment processing which has been declared taboo until the year 2015. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 20:15, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

I think there are two mixed questions here. I’ll try to respond them separately.

Regarding the relationship of the community with the chapters to pursue their projects, I think it is important to encourage the role of the Wikimedia affiliates as promoters of the volunteers’ ideas, helping them to develop those ideas and turn them into valuable programs to achieve our goals as a movement. I have seen several micro-grants programs launched by chapters and I think they are interesting spaces to bring funds for volunteer who do not necessarily have the knowledge or ability to participate in the Foundation’s grant-making processes. However, the promotion of volunteers’ ideas must also go tied with support to turn them into serious projects, with clear objectives and executed efficiently and effectively. I have seen many cases of great ideas that eventually fade, sadly because volunteers are not able -for various reasons- to meet those criteria. Chapters should prevent this from happening, supporting volunteers to meet these requirements and build capacity -training them in reporting, just to give an example-, but must also ensure that projects are carried out correctly. Many volunteers may feel this as annoying or unnecessary; chapters must learn how to approach volunteers in a good and supportive way, but I think it is something that can’t be ignored to do if we want a movement that actually uses correctly our donors’ support.

On the issue of financing, I agree with you that the recommendation to seek alternative financing disrupts the work of chapters and ultimately works against the very idea behind the APG. That is why the Advisory Committee included a specific section about this issue in its final recommendations. We all know that chapters should focus on making their programmatic work. Find alternative ways of financing is something that should be promoted, of course (diversify funding sources is relevant to any organization); however, finding these funds should never deviate the affiliates from their main goals. If financing options emerge as chapters do their job, they are welcome, but resources provided by the FDC shouldn’t be spent to get new funds (for example, hiring new staff or making the existing spend significant time on it). --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 03:23, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

I think the main thing a chapter should do is build the local community in terms of volunteer capacity and creative work towards increasing participation and encouraging new and existing users to do things that align with the mission. I'd prefer if chapters and other grantees would never have to deal with fundraising, bad sadly this is hard to reach. I do understand the local community members would like to get funding from there local chapter or group, and in some cases, it is a good way of spending the money, but mostly I think a chapter or group should route the money into programs and not as a pipe from the FDC to local users.

Apart from this, having multiple sources of funding is always a good thing, and any organization strives to reach. Chapters that wish to spend some time in getting funds from local Gov or other free content/open education should definitely do so, and if they choose to spend that amount of money in local user group, I think it is a good way of escaping the problems you have described. I know those resources spent to get the extra funding can be time consuming, but at times it is worth it. On the other hand, it is important to me to clarify, I think that FDC money shouldn't be used for such activities. Matanya (talk) 13:42, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

I'm not certain of exactly the circumstances that are being discussed here, so this may not be entirely on target.

I have read the FDC advisory group recommendations, and I'm not sure I entirely agree with the notion of chapters seeking out significant local funding: fundraising is very expensive, and it takes away from the core mission. I think a more important point here is the need for all movement organizations to figure out how to work with their available resources (financial and human). Each project proposed should be assessed against the organization's goals and the over-arching WMF strategies, and how it fits into the chapter's priorities; the availability resources required to carry out the project; what would not get done if this project was to proceed; whether there is support for the project within the chapter/organization; and whether the project would be better addressed in a different manner, such as a grant directly to the group seeking the local support. It's important that groups not over-extend themselves, and recognize that volunteer resources are limited, just as much as financial support is limited. Just as the WMF has to establish its spending priorities – with a significant percentage of that spending being directed to grants – so too do the "fund-receiving" entities. Risker (talk) 05:58, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann[edit]

There seems to be quite a number of presuppositions in your question; I’m not sure whether I share all of them (e.g. why should finding volunteers be harder in “richer” countries than in others?) and I’m also not quite sure to what extent the real issues in the cases you are alluding to can effectively be resolved at the level of the FDC. This said, I think that:

  • It is clear that certain funding rules apply in accordance to the movement’s strategy; therefore, I would well expect that not all the funding that is requested will be granted.
  • The chapters applying for funds through the FDC process should make the decision-making processes on their side transparent and understandable to their members. I believe that only by maintaining a high level of accountability and participation at the local level will we be able to prevent frustration among volunteers who don’t get their project included in their chapter’s programs. Also is it important that they have the feeling that they receive the necessary support from their chapter to apply for funds and to lead their projects to success, and that they are being treated fairly.
  • I would expect chapters to diversify their funding sources; it would therefore perfectly make sense to seek funding from other organizations. Here again, I think the chapters and affiliates should take their responsibility by developing a strategy and by acquiring the necessary know-how for this; this shouldn’t just be left to the individual volunteer who happens to propose a project the chapter doesn’t find worthy to promote within the FDC process for some reason or the other.

Netha Hussain[edit]

I am unsure if I have understood the question completely, but here is what I think. Please feel free to ask follow up questions if I am not answering to the point.

  • Being funded by the FDC should not stop the local entity from being autonomous as long as they stick on to the fundemental principles of the Wikimedia movement. In fact, I am for funding innovative ideas, as long as the funded entity has a clear plan and measurable goals.
  • Thanks for sharing the observation that finding volunteers is hard in rich countries. This fact should not lead us to end up funding disproportionately on movement entities based out of these countries. Instead, I would recommend that such entities find alternative sources of funding from local sources that are aligned to Wikimedia’s core principles. A local affiliate can have more impact on the donor than the WMF because they are likely to understand the cultural context much better, making them more successful in fundraising. They would also be more knowledgeable on negoitiating with opinion leaders, and in convincing them about the usefulness of volunteering. Taking all these factors into consideration, the movement entities should be granted sufficient autonomy to do what is best for the movement without compromising on Wikimedia’s core principles. --Netha Hussain (talk) 08:54, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

MikyM[edit]

I completely understand the position of WM CH because I've been in a similar situation. I think most people who donate money via Wikipedia do not actually know how the money will be spent and in which purposes. Some do not even care. They simply wish to continue using the free encyclopedia and donate the funds to provide it. No matter how much money WMF has, this is a defined and limited budget which should be distributed to several sectors, including FDC. Therefore, it is necessary to work either on increasing the FDC budget (so that everybody can get as much as they asked), or to find (local) partners. We need to see what is more realistic and enforce it. Local partnership and sponsorship can sometimes take a lot of time. On the other hand, successful local fundraising brings not only money but also a higher chance of successful partnerships with organisations that can contribute to the development of projects. It is necessary to enhance the informing of local donors about the method of financing WMF, chapters and projects.

Rsrikanth05[edit]

I think it is fair to say that Chapters or other affiliates should try and get their own funding, but getting funds may be difficult depending on the situation. The WMF should ensure that each affiliate is given what it has proven itself capable of and can prove itself capable of in terms of future activities.

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for your question Ruppert. The question is really interesting as it opens multiple issues that need to be addressed.

Firstly, we must make a clear distinction between the things that have to be done by volunteering and those that could be done by hiring paid staff. Our goal is neither to professionalise and pay people nor to promote volunteerism for every single practice. Many of the affiliated organisations have different definitions on these two things, which along with the lack of clear distinction makes confusion to the parties outside of our movement. The remedy should come from the community with approval from the Wikimedia Foundation and the affiliated organisations on the practices that we have to preserve on a volunteering basis and those that could be done by hiring paid staff.

Secondly, people would normally not be able to understand why and for what purposes we need finances unless we don't give them the important information in a more transparent way. The solution should be sought in the same direction as making the distinction between volunteerism and professionalism. We have to agree on the set of information and the channels that will be used to distribute it to our stakeholders. Having the right information is always useful when it is up to making important decisions.

Finally, the affiliated organisations have to give priority on diversifying their funding sources on the long run. I don't think that financial sustainability will be achieved if these entities depend solely on the decision made on their annual plan request submitted through the APG programme. It might be a good starting point to improve capacities and increase effectiveness on the short run, but it is necessary to use these improvements and look beyond in seeking other sources on the long run. The more external funding sources are used to support the activities within our movement, the more our values will be recognised and accepted in the ewxternal environment.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 09:49, 27 June 2014 (UTC)


Abhijith Jayanthi[edit]

I understand the question traverses through various challenges the Switzerland Chapter is experiencing/has experienced in the recent past. I see two principal buckets these challenges can be categorized into - (a) Financing/ Funding: Any local chapter is free to work on its own, draft its annual budgetary needs, seek funding from Wikimedia Foundation or otherwise. Though, securing of funds is a tricky question, it needs to be de-coupled from volunteers/on-boarding of members.

(b) Volunteer Engagement/ On-Boarding: I am of the view that Switzerland/ and any chapter in general, should also draft a structured approach for volunteer engagement/ On-Boarding of new members so that they have a structured approach for volunteer retention and encourage new members to participate. The activities planned for such purposes, should be listed as a financial head under the budgetary allocations for annual financial/funding needs.

De-coupling into two principal buckets will help tackle this complex intertwined challenge.

- Abhijith

Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

Thank you for your concern and I understand a threat of Wikimedia movement being perceived in 10 years as a second FIFA ;) but I think we can mitigate and we can act locally.

Local chapters can do a lot to push the resources down to the (trusted) volunteers and FDC can stress them to do so e.g. with carefully evaluating/reworking/auditing their expense structure. Good pracices can be also recommended and in your situation microgrants seem to be a perfect option. Here I would promote my home Polish Wikigranty formula, which was initiated in 2006 (afair 1st in Wikimedia movement) and happily thriving ever since, increasing its budget year-to-year. In WMPL micrograntmaking is fully delegated to a volunteering committee and Wikimedians are encouraged to submit their projects; up to ca. $500 can be accepted for really various things from books and tickets to audio recordings of children stories in public domain.

I think that financing such programmes, run by decision-making volunteers, is not only a hug simplification for the Boards or staff, but also a good incentive and message to local communities and well-spent money on initiatives taken by Wikimedians. Moreover, non-article-writing activities attract new, different people to Wikimedia.

In terms of funds collection I fully agree with Lodewijk - with a side note: "please find funding elsewhere" can be a polite way of saying "we don't think it is a really good idea", however still accepting the judgement of local communities (someone elects and acts as these Board members who should know their local circumstances better).

Ethical commitment to fund free use and open source projects[edit]

In the light of a recent decision to support Wikimedia funding non-free media upload projects, and the apparently conflicting shared default objective of providing "educational content under a free content license", do the nominees feel that it is ethical to spend donated monies for free knowledge on non-free projects, or are they individually prepared to make a commitment to reject plans from organizations that include funding for closed source and non-free (or "fair use")[1] projects? -- (talk) 11:10, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Thuvack[edit]

I have not had a chance to read all the links to the incident and decision you are referring to so I may come back here again should I feel the need, however I will base my answer on principle. I generally believe that funds should be used first and fore most for activities that advance the goals of the movement. Our movement is anchored on open source, copy left and free use principles. Thus I would not prioritize any funding which would be contrary to the fore going. Very extenuating circumstances and overwhelmingly convincing justification for doing the contrary to our principles, would be required to change my conviction in this regard.--Thuvack (talk) 12:18, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Milos Rancic[edit]

Wikimedia's commitment to free content and free software is non-negotiable. No Wikimedia entity should support the content not possible to be shared under the conditions different than what's approximately described inside of GFDL or CC-BY-SA licenses (or less requiring, like CC-BY is).

There is, however, significant field of the utilitarian zone. I am more in favor of the Debian's approach, than of FSF's one. If there are good reasons to keep the content licensed under more restrictive licenses (CC-BY-ND is an example here) or there is no free alternative, I think we should have pragmatic approach. However, that's the minefield, which requires a lot of careful studying of the consequences of particular decisions.

That said, I don't think that the decisions like this one are in the scope of FDC. That's the question for the community and the Board. --Millosh (talk) 00:38, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Sunkissedguy[edit]

WMF must continue to push for free knowledge. It is the core mission of this organization. However, I think that there are exceptional instances where we need to tolerate some of the non-free content at a bare minimum to be able to accomplish our mission such as the use of non-free content to illustrate a logo. As quoted in WMF's licensing policy: "The licensing policy of the Wikimedia Foundation expects all content hosted on Wikimedia projects to be free content; however, there are exceptions. The policy allows projects (with the exception of Wikimedia Commons) to adopt an exemption doctrine policy allowing the use of non-free content.their use should be minimal and confined (with limited exceptions) to illustrating historically significant events, to include identifying protected works such as logos, or to complement (within narrow limits) articles about copyrighted contemporary works. Non-free content should not be used when a freely licensed file that serves the same purpose can reasonably be expected to be uploaded, as is the case for almost all portraits of living people. Non-free content should be replaced by free content should such emerge."--Sunkissedguy (talk) 03:40, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

I think perhaps the bigger issue here is what appears to me to be a chapter claiming credit for something it had nothing to do with. The Wikimedia projects remain largely dependent on the self-directed efforts of its volunteers to expand and improve their content. I would expect to see some evidence that a chapter has some sort of direct role in this (e.g., successful recruitment of new editors who continue to contribute at a certain level for X months after an edit-a-thon, providing equipment or other resources to scan/photograph/research contributions, active sponsorship of an on-wiki competition, etc.) in order for a chapter to include any particular contributions in its evidence of achieving goals. This is particularly important for projects where there is a multiplicity of active chapters and/or affiliates (there are half a dozen chapters/affiliates associated primarily with English Wikipedia, for example).

Having said all that, I would find it acceptable for chapters to support activities that fall within the acceptable parameters of the particular Wikimedia project; that is, if a project accepts more restrictively licensed material under certain circumstances, then it is reasonable for a chapter to support the creation and/or uploading of that material provided it is done within the policy of the specific project. Risker (talk) 03:50, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Lodewijk Gelauff[edit]

First of all, I feel that I should point out that if you disagree with what Wikimedia UK is doing, the proper venue to discuss that is at its General Assembly (especially as I seem to recall you're a member) and not by trying to influence the body reviewing their grant applications. This is also not the place to fight out personal vendetta's (which it starts to feel like given the tone of your questions).

Secondly, as this considers a fairly small portion of their annual budget, I would find rejecting their application over it - even if it would fall somewhat outside the scope - disproportional and overreacting. I refuse as a matter of principle to make any firm commitments of this kind ("reject all proposals that include XYZ") but would review the proposals on its merits and consider the arguments provided.

Now the core of your question: while I am certainly no big fan of fair use in general, I'm a bit on the fence on whether it would be good for Wikimedia organizations to actively make fair use pictures available to communities that make use of them. The question to be answered for me would be whether it helps to disseminate free knowledge. Maybe a few fair use pictures can leverage the use of the free articles (that is the argument used to include them in the first place). If Wikimedia projects allow them to be hosted, I would find it somewhat hypocrite to disallow supporting such efforts at all. So I guess it all depends on the context of the application.

Smallbones[edit]

My only goal is to build the encyclopedias and other WMF projects and to freely distribute them. A commitment to free use and open source projects is very important and supports that goal. I'd only say that if minor mistakes are made in good faith and can't be fully corrected, it's best to move on and try to do it better next time.

Mike Peel[edit]

Wikimedia movement funding should be spent on freely licensed projects. However, sadly, sometimes exceptions need to be made to that, as most of the world doesn't work the same way we do. For example, suitable accountancy software often isn't available under a free license, making it necessary for organisations to buy closed-source software. When it comes to content, though, I think the focus should be firmly on ensuring that it is freely-licensed. I personally hold that using content under "fair use" is counterproductive - Wikimedia is now a big enough player that it could persuade the copyright holders of at least some of the fair use material used on the projects to release it under a free license instead if there wasn't this exception. However, the role of the FDC isn't to say "don't do this specific thing" - it's to assess the organisation's overall capacity and ability, and to trust the organisation to make sensible decisions that make sense in its specific context, although it can make general comments about best practice. So I wouldn't seek zero-funding of an organisation's application based on this (unless it was entirely focused on non-free content), but it would be something that might make me concerned about the organisation's ability to appropriately fulfill the movement's objectives and would consequentially have an impact on the level of funding for the organisation that I'd be comfortable recommending. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:34, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

Even though we should always aim release more content under free licenses, I think that is usually not a simple definition. There are several definitions of “free content”: free in every jurisdiction, free in most jurisdiction, including non-commercial use, etc, etc. So it is difficult to say what is and what is not a non-free project. There are projects where a chapter can help an institution to publish content with free licenses not compatible with Wikimedia Commons as a first step to promote the use of CC licenses that can be improved in the future. There are cases where an affiliate can digitize content in the public domain in their country, but it would not be accepted in Commons (like what happens in several countries affected by URAA). Other projects can make local uploads to certain editions of Wikipedia under fair use or other EDP. Certain chapters are even representatives of Creative Commons in their country and could openly promote NC or ND licenses, that some people dislike because of their restrictions (although one might question whether such activities should be financed under the FDC or not).

I think this is not a simple topic, with black and white answers. There are several shades in this complex question and, in the end, it will depend on the particular project, if it is aligned or not with the strategy of our movement. --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 04:08, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

This matter specificity, is one i have a strong opinion about. We have two main goals in the movement, Quoting part of the mission: collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain. I think those two goals should go together and not one instead of the other. We can probably get more educational content if we would agree to sacrifice some freedom. I think this is the wrong path to go, in most if not all the cases, and we should insist on freedom. We can compromise on issues that are free in source country, if we must compromise, but as a rule of thumb, i think we should only support programs and activities that meet both of those goals. Of course, if a chapter or group gets other funding source to support a project the is not 100% free at the end, I personally wouldn't be very happy with it, but this is nothing to do with FDC. Matanya (talk) 13:52, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann[edit]

In my opinion, funding should go into projects and programs the main thrust of which is to promote free content. This said, I wouldn’t necessarily exclude from the outset that pragmatic compromises be made at the “fringes” if they serve the overall cause. The principles laid out in the WMF’s licensing policy (as quoted by Sunkissedguy above) make perfectly sense to me.

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for your question Fæ. My answer is "No". Despite the fact I encourage the affiliated organisations to widen the size and scope of their activities, it has to be stressed that different activities have to be matched with the appropriate funding sources. Suppose that on one side we have both the mission-aligned activities and such that fall just outside our mission and goals, while on the other side we have funds coming from our donors and from external funding sources. Assuming that our donors spare money to support our movement with the expectation that it will end in financing mission-aligned activities, then it becomes obvious these funds are earmarked and thereby the donors will have to be "honoured" that their money are used for the specified purposes. Hence, the donated funds will have to be spent for activities that obey our mission and goals only, whereas funds from other sources can be used both to support mission-aligned and other activities. To summarise, I don't oppose the practice of engaging in activities that are barely outside our main focus, but the most proper way to deal with would be to match them with funds from external sources.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 11:25, 27 June 2014 (UTC)

Rsrikanth05[edit]

Support, both financial and otherwise must be given to partners with a common interest. We should continue supporting anything that is free and open, so long as it is within the purview of open access.

Abhijith Jayanthi[edit]

As a member of FDC, we are to further the vision and mission of Wikimedia Foundation and allied chapters. If the projects are in-line with the goals of Wikimedia Foundation, they should be permitted to take-off. While at it, the question of supporting free knowledge is intrinsic to such an application. Free-use/fair-use are not necessarily two sides of the same coin, rather on a structured engagement, fair-use engagements can lead to free-use benefits. Thus, it should be looked at from a broader sense of the definition, rather to narrow down to semantics of free-use/fair-use/private.

Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

Hello Fæ, please forgive me being late on this, it is a very tricky question, not only as I am still struggling to understand the whole situation you have mentioned.

In general terms: the problem with FDC is that this is a WMF body with rules imposed by WMF. FDC needs to recognize WMF's policies, including strategy, mission and vision and act within own competences, i.e. respecting the evaluation guidelines. I think we can agree that it is hard to challenge the WMF Board and contradict the present "educatory, not necessarily free" priorities while wearing a hat of FDC member.

On the other hand, I believe that the FDC members remain a part of the community and each community member should have their say in terms of vision and mission. Being a Wikimedian since 2004 and coming from a European language version, I remember we had a very different views and dreams about Wikis when I decided to stay: the influence of the hacker culture was clearly visible and we were far closer to the FLOSS, GNU andd techie world than to the GLAM/education institutions. Personally I believe that the strategic shift towards global education should be partially reverted: I think we have gone to close to the traditional institutions losing a part of our identity and uniqeness to become a Yet Another Foundation. In the same time, some part about freedom of the content, volunteer cooperation, distributed management and Do It Yourself attitude has been hidden. The very important part.

Thus, as an FDC member I would probably have a positive attitude towards free licenses. My background from a Chapter and language version which are much more pure in terms of licences would kick in here as well. Having said that, I think your question should be asked to WMF Board candidates. Most what I can do is voicing my concerns as a Community member, leaving the FDC hat at rest. :)

Response to the FDC AG proposals in Frankfurt[edit]

This was a long document and contained many ideas, some a little contradictory it seems to me, but I wonder if there are any parts that candidates would like to comment on either in support of or opposition to.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 14:59, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

I changed the section heading to FDC AG proposals for clarity - please revert if you think that's less clear Smallbones (talk) 20:07, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Smallbones[edit]

I must first say that I was a part of the AG making the proposals, working throughout the process from setting the agenda to (almost) posting the final results. As part of the AG, I feel we should be very proud to have taken such a big topic, discussed it so thoroughly, and come up with such a comprehensive report, especially regarding the 9 main points. The appendix is just a listing of other ideas presented, so shouldn't be seen as going on too long - if it might help you, please read it, if not, you don't need to. If there is a problem with the report, I'm as much to blame as anybody.

That said, and I'm speaking as an individual now, not as part of the AG, I sympathize with JD's reading of it as being very long and sometimes contradictory. I personally would have preferred a shorter, more focused recommendation that the ED could have taken and strongly agreed or disagreed with at several points. Ultimately, which form is best - longer or more focused - is up to her since the report is written specifically for her.

Part of the length problem was caused by the size of the AG - 15 people, plus one meeting with about 6 members of the FDC. It just took a lot of time to hear everybody's opinion, and the really difficult problem of making sense of all these opinions and their various permutations, was left to last and finally left out when we ran out of time. Another possible problem was that we had to focus our limited time on coming up with an agreement given all these ideas, even if it was just an agreement to disagree. My preference would have been for a smaller group, max 10 people, and first focus on the disagreements - what needed to be thrashed out. Then go at it with hammer and tongs until time was getting short. At that point we could focus on agreements. Sounds a bit like editing on Wikipedia, doesn't it?

This all sounds very theoretical, so let me give an example even if it risks offending some folks. I think the FDC has a big problem awarding most of the funds in a very small geographic area. It certainly is not the fault of the chapters receiving the funds, and there are many historic and other reasons for the current state. But it is a fact that about 70% of the FDC funds are awarded to 4 chapters located close together on one fairly small continent. I believe that members of the movement who don't live in that area may be turned off by the entire FDC process if the funds can't be seen as being distributed more evenly. That's a threat to the entire process.

Despite the importance of this issue and me bringing it up twice, I think several folks in the AG might have thought "oh no, we don't have time for that!" and it got shunted to the side. Other committee members probably had similar experiences.

Milos Rancic[edit]

My positions toward the FDC AG recommendations could be summed into two dominant categories: (1) either I generally agree with it; (2) either I don't have position.

Yes, applications should be simplified; yes, flexibility is good; yes, we need metrics and I'd say implementation of more formal ways, which would help FDC and applicants, both; yes, diversification across the regions is good; it's useful to have less than 50% turnover each year;

I have no position in relation to the eligibility of WMF staff as members of FDC; the same is for WMF as a fundseeker.

Below are issues about which I have more precise opinion:

"Bands of funding" is an interesting idea, but a lot of things depend on the implementation itself. If it's about strict categorizing by the amount of funding request, it would be counter-productive, for sure. If it's about much more nuanced approach, it could work.

Diversification of resources is extremely important. I'd like all chapters at certain stage of development start doing that. Being locally self-sustainable is extremely important for the health of the movement.

Help in capacity building of organizations is something on which should be done, but I didn't see any systemic try till this moment. That includes WMF, as well as committees and other bodies.

I disagree with the removal of the appeals process. As someone deep into the Wikimedia structures, I don't trust to any particular body all the time. That includes FDC (that includes the bodies in which I am or I was), as well as the boards of the applicants. Having possibility to appeal is crucial in any democratically organized community. --Millosh (talk) 17:36, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven[edit]

Thanks Jon for your question. The ED of the Wikimedia Foundation has asked the Advisory Group to make recommendations to the ED about the FDC process. The AG has investigated the issue, convened a weekend in Frankfurt and has issued a report to the Board. The ED will decide on those recommendations. I'm not aware the ED of the Wikimedia Foundation has started a consultation on the FDC process outside the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group surely has used their methods to gain insight from different perspective and receive input from various sources. The Advisory Group has a broad composition. The report of the Advisory Group isn't a draft, it is a final report. So, I wait for the decision of the ED. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:05, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Thuvack[edit]

It is a well thought recommendation and I am for these. I would probably differ with one proposal, that is to increase length of FDC term. I think 2 years is long enough to matter and short enough to avoid stagnation. But all in all I am happy with the recommendations.--Thuvack (talk) 19:42, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Sunkissedguy[edit]

I agree with the recommendations of the FDC AG and I support the initiative to diversify resources in all regions specially the under-represented global south where I came from. I also agree that WMF should define the metrics as the basis of the applicants for their proposals, however, should they decide to implement such metrics, I recommend the use a "tiered approach" to avoid smaller chapters from being overwhelmed.--Sunkissedguy (talk) 03:37, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Lodewijk Gelauff[edit]

I find it hard to comment as a candidate FDC member on recommendations that have been so thoroughly discussed. Some recommendations make a lot of sense to me (simplified renewal, allowing more flexibility, capacity building and staff-eligibility for the FDC) because they decrease the burden, remove complexity or help organizations to increase their abilities.

I'm somewhat more careful when it comes to the bands of funding, global metrics and fundraiser recommendations. Not directly from a grant-perspective, but rather because I'm uncertain about their implications on the social structure in our movement. I think some of those deserve a broader discussion beyond the FDC context.

Finally I'm confused by the comments on the geographical distribution and what the Advisory Group tried to bring across. While I'm all for supporting volunteers in all corners of the world (and those outside the traditional strong areas of Wikipedia even more so), I don't see how this results in a helpful recommendation for the FDC specifically. This requires action by other grant opportunities in the movement (FDC is not a logical place to start) and by more active capacity building (already suggested elsewhere). But maybe they had something in mind I'm not reading into it.

Mike Peel[edit]

Overall, I think the AG has done a great job here, and I'd like to thank them for doing so! I have mixed opinions with their recommendations, but I am really glad to see that the different viewpoints that have led to their recommendations have also been expressed in the document. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:41, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

I was part of the Advisory Committee that wrote this document. I’m happy with the result of this meeting, which I think was very productive. Maybe the document could have been clearer, but it is really difficult to condense the ideas of 16 people, including people that are not English native speakers.

Regarding the proposals, I think one of the most important is the one regarding the guardrails. I think the idea behind them at the beginning (having a proposed band were the chapter can have secure funds in the future if they comply with all the requirements of the APG) was interpreted differently. In my opinion, the FDC has done a great job at this moment, evaluating each application separately and assessing how funds are distributed, so there is no need for the guardrails to exist now. If a chapter needs more than a 20% increase, have incredible projects and his ability to impact has been proved, I see no reason to limit the funds they will receive. The bands of funding can be a good idea if it is implemented well; it can help especially smaller organizations that are entering in the FDC process, where probably a larger increase in funds is needed to professionalize them.

On the other hand, I think sometimes a lot of problems that are in our movement are trying to be solved by the FDC, when this institution should focus only on grantmaking. The FDC shouldn’t be THE institution to solve the gender gap, improve the funding of more so-called Global South affiliates or promote inter-chapter cooperation. The FDC can help and fund projects that are aligned with those issues, of course, but it is not the ultimate way to solve them. For example, we all agree that the level of distribution of funds for developing countries is low, but it is not a problem of the FDC as a committee that there are very few affiliates from the GS with capacity to request funds to them. Institutions applying to APG should be strong enough to manage projects and administrate funds efficiently and simply we can’t force affiliates from the GS to apply just because we want to level the global distribution of funds; other institutions within our movement (especially, the WMF) can help them to build capacity so they can request funds in the future, if it is necessary, but it is not the work of the FDC right now. --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 19:28, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

I support the recommendations of AG. I especially support the sections : Grantmaking diversity across regions and Diversification of resources for Wikimedia organizations. Those two points as I mentioned earlier are critical for reaching more than just the first world, and can make a big difference in developing countries. 100$ in US or Europe are not a large amount, but in some countries it is about a month or more of income. Such an amount can really change things in terms of access to knowledge and education. Matanya (talk) 14:05, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

I agree with several points the Advisory Group has made, disagree with others, and find a few a bit difficult to put into context. I agree that planned 50% turnover each year is suboptimal; with a volunteer committee, mid-term resignations can easily take that over 50%. I also agree with the importance placed on the WMF annual plan receiving public review, and agree that there needs to be more discussion about what form that review would take. I'm not sure why one of the key recommendations relates to restricting staff of FDC-funded groups from FDC membership, since as best I can tell, this hasn't been the case to date; however, I agree with the principle. As much as I agree with the need for capacity-building, I think that this need is not restricted to FDC grantees or even to chapters and affiliates; indeed, one of our weaknesses organizationally is leadership development within our core projects. Thus, I agree with the AG that this is not really an FDC role. I do agree that it may be helpful to further standardize metrics, and that organizational readiness should be the key factor in whether groups should be seeking FDC funding or taking advantage of other WMF grant opportunities. On the other hand, I believe that the "guardrails" serve an important purpose, and would not discontinue them; they help to drive more careful planning and prioritization, they establish clear opportunities for financial growth for the grantees, and they reduce the risks of the FDC having requests that total more money than the FDC has to distribute. Risker (talk) 06:36, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann[edit]

Thanks for pointing us to this document. Again, I think I should gain insider experience before making recommendations. Here all the same some thoughts and spontaneous reactions to some of the points:

  • Simplified renewal or continuing funding for FDC applicants: In my opinion, the focus should be on strengthening governance structures and learning mechanisms at the local/national level. Inasmuch as such mechanisms have been successfully established, the FDC could play a subsidiary role and some of the bureaucratic processes may be alleviated and/or their focus could change. We should also encourage long-term thinking and planning among chapters, which means providing a certain level of planning security and devolving power – provided that appropriate governance structures and learning mechanisms have been put in place at the local/national level.
  • Segmenting proposals or ‘bands of funding’: This seems to be quite a common approach in cases where committees deciding about institutional funding are dealing with quite a large number of quite heterogeneous organizations. It definitely makes sense to make the criteria transparent and to discuss the underlying mental models and their implications.
  • Flexibility in the process: I believe our goal should be to strengthen local/national governance structures and learning mechanisms. Once these mechanisms are functioning well, we can alleviate processes at the level of the FDC. So I don’t really see why the differentiation should be made by budget size.
  • Metrics and evaluation of the impact: The proposal generally makes sense to me. When evaluating partnership projects (e.g. with GLAMs) we should however also take into account the partners’ values and objectives, for it is only by achieving them as well that we will be able to forge sustainable partnerships with like-minded organizations.
  • Grant-making diversity across regions: I think it makes sense to monitor spending of movement resources per capita across world regions and/or countries. We need to understand however that sustainable spending requires organizational capacity and broad participation at the local level, and it is only through building up organizational capacity and encouraging local participation that we will help regions with less spending per capita to spend more resources in a meaningful and sustainable manner. In this sense, I believe that the recommendations go in the right direction if they are accompanied by honest efforts by various movement entities (not only FDC) to improve the organizational capacity in underrepresented regions.
  • Capacity Building of applicants: The recommendation makes sense to me. At the same time the FDC should make sure that it does not substitute for proper governance structures at the national/local level. From what I have observed so far, there is a certain risk that this may happen and that the FDC process is being instrumentalized in power games at the national/local level in a way that might empower chapter representatives at the expense of local associative structures.

MikyM[edit]

Advisory group did a great job and now WMF should give its opinion regarding the recomendation, and see which proposals can be implemented and whether it is feasible. Sometimes, multi-year funding can be good, but also a real challenge. For example, for the chapter in transition (which includes constant and frequent changes towards progress and development) an annual plans, budget and reports can be good for quick overview of the process of professionalization and tracking development. In another case, already developed professional chapters (which have less fluctuations in comparison to developing chapters), are probably more satistied by multi-year funding. It should be considered that WMF creats annual plans and budgets including annual fundraising, and that the multi-year funding of chapters would demand certain changes in WMF.

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for addressing to the work done by the Advisory Group Jon. My thoughts on the main topics are as follows:

  • Simplified renewal or continuing funding for applicants: The idea is good since it aims at reducing the time spent on evaluating the request, especially the grantee's credibility and the feasibility of projects and activities which were part of the previous annual plans and have demonstrated decent impact. However, newly included projects and activities whose feasibility has not been determined yet and whose impact has not been attested will have to remain subject to examination.
  • Segmenting proposals or ‘bands of funding’: Segmenting proposals might work in the future but currently there is a lack of information on how the segmenting will be done, what are the criteria that will be used to divide the proposals into different bands, and how it will help to make the evaluation more efficient. Please note that there are different criteria applicable for segmenting proposals and their nature is such that finding a single criterion that could segment them properly is very difficult. For instance, segmenting proposals on the grounds of the amount requested may easily fail due to the drastic differences in the scope of the proposals. In addition, the danger of more and less desirable bands may become an issue as well. Therefore, my opinion is that every proposal should be treated in a more professional way, on a case-by-case basis.
  • Flexibility in the process: This is a good idea. The existence of "guardrails" does not present a very helpful way to stir growth of our affiliated organisations. We simply cannot raise an artificial barrier for organisations that have promising long-term growth plans with clear strategic priorities. I also second the constitution of a "Grantmaking Advisory Group" and would like to propose its members to be selected from the grantmaking committees.
  • Metrics and evaluation of the impact: This is a challenging proposal that must be taken into account more seriously. I think it should be necessary to define a general set of measures that are common for every annual plan and thereupon create and adopt indicators that every applicant should use in preparing the proposal. Importantly, we will also have to define a scale with different grades for every indicator, which will have to help explain the meaning of the indicator's value. Nevertheless, it is not possible to create and adopt indicator for every single activity, so grantees will have to be given the right to introduce their own metrics based on the guidelines and directions that we could create for that purpose.
  • Grantmaking diversity across regions: As one of the strategic priorities, this is another good idea. First of all, we need to encourage more participation from organisations belonging to the Global South. Then, the diversity could be reached by relaxing the criteria and measuring the impact of these proposals in a different way. We have to agree that the difficulty of carrying out activities in the countries from the Global South is much greater, so implementing the same metrics and criteria would not realistically reflect their value. Relaxed criteria and metrics might also be introduced for some countries from the Global North since drastic differences are observable between countries from this broad region.
  • Diversification of resources for Wikimedia organizations: I've always had the opinion that the affiliated organisations have to ensure their sustainability by becoming financially independent on the long run. The dynamics and the means of diversifying the financial sources differ from case to case, implying that there are different ways the diversification can be achieved, but introducing general guidelines is helpful anyway. I think that all of the proposed guidelines are appropriate.
  • Capacity Building of applicants: Yes, the capacity building should not be the main interest of the FDC. However, its advisory role may and should influence the grantees to build and improve their capacity.
  • Eligibility for FDC membership: I strongly endorse the proposal that the staff members of the FDC-funded organisations should not be allowed to join the FDC and would like to propose the same for the paid staff of any affiliated organisation either. The inclusion of staff members of the FDC-funded organisations leads to a conflict of interest, while appointing paid staff members to serve in the FDC diverges from the notion of the committee as body representing community of volunteers. The same should apply for the Board of Trustees, the Aff Com, the GAC, and the other community-entrusted committees.
  • WMF’s involvement as a fundseeker in the FDC process: To increase transparency, the WMF's annual plan should be open for review to the global community. The opinion of the FDC in that process is helpful regardless of the impact that it would have on its approval.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 15:27, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

This is a pretty lengthy document (as the overhaul of FDC is a big topic) so let me be selective here. My most common thought while reading is a bit Hegelean. E.g.: Yes, simplified continued funding (thesis) is a nice idea but then a question of audit, evaluation and learning pops up (antithesis). My solution (a.k.a. the synthesis) would be: simplify the continued submission as the idea has been evaluated and move to the evaluation (checking if we are on track and how to improve the process).

  • Bands of funding could be simplifing - but then they could send some Affiliates into "ghettos", "death zones of strong submissions" and whatnots. *Flexibility of the process in practice could strongly contradict with repeated funding and bandwiths (esp. if the budget quotas remain the same).
  • Global metrics - they can help but every statistician knows that the numbers are not everything and explaination is often in qualitative data.
  • Grantmaking diversity in FDC would require the "Global South" chapters to grow/professionalize which means double standards or in fact strong over-representation of WMF funding directed towards them and many issues coming with it (Note: I am not saying this would be *wrong* - but it is worth a thought).
    • We will also see even more complains (our project was better but it was axed - because of the Global South and who is Global South)
  • Capacity building is good but then it is said it is not a main goal of FDC. In practice, non-main goals will not be executed due to limited resources.
  • Limit of membership turnover below 50% in practice imposes election every half year.
  • Not sure what is meant as "accept alternative forms" but non-standardized reprts can make a big headache in FDC members / staff.

Avoiding extravagant[edit]

My question to all candidates is quite straightforward: Given that most part of the money that Wikimedia runs on comes from people themselves, many a times via aggregates of small, humble contributions; To what extent are the new FDC candidates prepared to go to ensure that the funds dispensed end up with spending that is at least reasonably frugal? Do the nominees feel that concrete steps are required to ensure that funds aren't spilled or wasted, given the scale at which the grants are made in APG?

(For instance, on the proposal of CIS from India, I'm shocked to see most part of the funding going as just the salaries for select handful of this partnering agency. Despite the overall funding being lesser than several other APG applicants, the budget is quite extravagant on salaries and goes on to spend for most part on salaries. Supporting the community takes the back stage and any reasonably frugal methods of non-profits which respected the donor's good faith to a great extent seem to be long gone)

This unsigned question was added by H P Nadig

Smallbones[edit]

CIS is very different from our usual chapter and will have to be evaluated differently from them. Now the most efficient use of our time is not in reconsidering the FDC decision from last month, but we'll see in 11 months how well they perform in helping us achieve our goals.

You did, however, ask about one of my favorite topics - frugality. Money is just a tool that can help an organization reach its goals. Like any tool it can be misused. More often it is misused by applying too much of it - throwing money at a problem - than by not using enough of it. Folks who have a lot of good projects and who really want to build the encyclopedia, will carefully choose the most important projects, watch every penny, and make sure the projects succeed.

People who are most interested in their salaries, or in who has the fanciest computer, are not going to be very good at building an encyclopedia. You can also use too little money - often by choosing very safe conservative projects that don't really need much money. If you want to get a big bold project done quickly, it often helps to spend a lot of money, all the while knowing that there will be some failures among the successes.

The approach you should take depends on the goals of the organization. We may want fairly fast expansion in some areas, while still maintaining financial controls. That would indicate that faster spending may be called for, but extravagance has no place in that. The strategy that I would be more comfortable with is slower, controlled growth. Perhaps I shouldn't call it frugality, but being extremely careful with our donors' money would be a part of that strategy.

Milos Rancic[edit]

First of all, I have to say that I completely understand your sentiment. Scaling of the funds inside of particular societies is extremely important, as it would be otherwise seen as promotion of extravagant life.

At the other side, it is important to have in mind that we are here to achieve common goal and that needed resources could vary from situation to situation. For example, board members of Wikimedia organizations could come into the position to earn less money than paid staff of that organization. It's up to those board members to decide are they willing to continue to volunteer on that position or it's unacceptable to them to have employees with more money than themselves. Lowering staff salaries because of vanity is extremely bad practice. Millosh (talk) 17:37, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Thuvack[edit]

It is always going to be difficult for us as a movement to navigate the spaces between chapters and affiliates in terms of funding. Who should take precedence and what is defined as extravagant. These questions will linger on well beyond the tenure of this FDC. I promise though that under my watch, extravagance will be scrutinized and discussed and curbed as far as doing so does not jeopardize our mission goals. --Thuvack (talk) 19:48, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

When assessing any request for funding, I would be looking for evidence of "value for money", alignment with the strategic plan, sensible deliverables (i.e., not overly ambitious, but also not achievable without the funding), and the proven track record of the organization. No group should be in a position to request FDC funding without a solid history of managing grants, so that past history is a key component in assessing the request. Salaries should be appropriate to the geographic location and the prerequisite experience and skill level in order to achieve the goals of the plan; for example, is there a need for employees to be multiligual? to have specific types of experience, such as a certain level of wiki-experience, or experience in teaching? to have certain software development skills and experience? I would be looking for evidence that the staff costs for the proposal are commensurate with the reasonably expected outcome, and that the expected outcome be something that is clearly a benefit to the movement. Risker (talk) 02:24, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Lodewijk Gelauff[edit]

Every case should be judged by itself - it is hard to draw very generalized conclusions. That being said, I don't agree that spending a large part of your budget on salaries is automatically extravagant. From the top of my head, in a movement like ours it is to be expected that one or a combination of three expenses will dominate the budget: travel costs, technical equipment and salaries. While everyone agrees that technical equipment is essential, this is mostly taken care of by a small number of our movement organizations (the WMF and a few chapters that run servers for use by the community to a much smaller extent). Travel (and associated) costs are unavoidable for real-life projects that should be attended by people who live further away - if you want to avoid them, you should select a different type of volunteers (more local) or projects (digital).

But if volunteers should be supported actively (which most people seem to agree on), someone has to do that. Ideally, by volunteers - but in many countries this is not very realistic and staff is required. So the mere fact that an applicant like CIS spends a major part of its budget on salaries is not unheard of by itself. The questions to be asked should be in the direction whether the spending was effective and efficient (in the long run). Whether it helps the movement by supporting volunteers and free knowledge by removing bottle necks and bumps in the road, or discourages volunteers to help in the longer run. This is a much more complicated set of questions - that I can't answer at this point because they require much more research that I can dive into at this point. But this is what the CIS and other applicants will have to argue at their applications. I know this doesn't exactly answer your question, but I hope it gives you a good impression of what my line of thought is.

Mike Peel[edit]

Even though the numbers that the FDC deals with are very large, I'm always conscious that they are made up of donations of the order of $20. I think this is something that all of the Wikimedia organisations should bear in mind when they are spending money.

The FDC by necessity needs to trust the organisations it is funding not to be wasteful, and to self-check that they are spending their funds as effectively as they can. The FDC makes a "first order" assessment of what funds the organisation can effectively spend to efficiently support the Wikimedia movement - after that, it's up to the organisation to decide on the efficiencies for every aspect of their work. There's always a cost-benefit analysis to be done when it comes to oversight - the FDC could ask for every single detail about the organisation's spending, but that would take up a huge amount of time (and cost) for both the FDC and the entity that the movement can ill afford, and doing so would really be ineffective. I'm broadly happy with the level of oversight that the FDC currently has on behalf of the movement.

I'm not going to comment about specific applicants here.

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:57, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven[edit]

To execute programs organizations hire staff to execute programs, so indeed, funding ends up being spend mostly on salaries, that is true. The FDC will have to assess if programs proposed by applicants are aligned with movement wide strategic goals and help us with our mission. The CIS and WMIN relationship is sensitive and will be carefully monitored. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 20:11, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

The reason why chapters started to request funds is because some work needed for projects to succeed needed resources volunteers can’t provide. And one of the most needed was human resources: professionals needed to do the work a volunteer can’t provide (contact entities, do bureaucratic staff, report progress, etc.) So, I don’t see a problem that chapters spend a lot of their funds in staff… but that staff must be justified. There shouldn’t be a request for staff just to look bigger or totally replace volunteers, which I think is our most valuable asset as a movement. So, the problem for the FDC is to assess correctly if that request of funds for staff makes sense considering the work each chapter proposes for next year. I don’t know how the current application can be improved so the FDC can assess better this, because I think the most important input for this assessment is the past record of the grantee and that usually comes from the periodical progress reports evaluated by the WMF staff. Maybe we should increase the support for the WMF staff so they can review better so they can provide more insights to the FDC before it takes a decision.

Regarding frugality, it is difficult also to assess this only with the information provided by the chapter, considering it depends a lot on the country. A salary in India can be excessive but maybe it is even low in Switzerland. A photo camera might cost three times in Argentina than in Hong Kong. For this, we should encourage diversification in the FDC (so we have people that understand the overall differences in costs in the world) and participation from the community; probably within our volunteers we can get more informed opinions regarding the costs proposed by the chapters. --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 19:52, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

The amount of money given by the FDC shouldn't matter at all when coming to talk about donors money. When dealing with donors money caution and respect should be the feelings one should have. It is matter of trust more than anything else. When a donor gives wikimedia money he actually says: Hey, I support the mission, here is my humble appreciation. Please use this money in good faith. When one breaches this trust, it actually breaks the foundation of what we are trying to do, and be it 1 cent or million dollars, it doesn't matter. I think since are chapters are supposes to have the spending and expenses public, it shouldn't be too hard to see such a failure. I would like if WMF would review those reports on a quarterly or so basis, but it is a thing volunteers can do as well. Matanya (talk) 14:17, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Beat Estermann[edit]

Again, I think we need to strengthen local structures of accountability, as this helps to account for the large heterogeneity of local situations. In the short run, we should ensure that the spending behavior in a given country makes sense to the people in this country. In the longer run, we should also strive for more spending equity across countries, but this shouldn’t come at the price of perceived overspending and extravagance in low-income countries.

MikyM[edit]

In order to answer this question more accurately, it is necessary to consider every grant as individual, instead of as a group. Chapters generally prefer to pay only for the work that can not be done by volunteers. Therefore, there is a situation where some budgets consist of a large percentage of money which is spent on salaries. If we paid complete work done by volunteers or displayed it as an in-kind donation expressed in monetary funds, we would get a completely different budget breakdown with less percentage designated for salaries. Certainly, it is necessary to work on monitoring and evaluation to make sure in which way the money is being spent and to know whether that spending is justified or not.

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for the interesting questions. If we assume that the time of evaluating the request, the point in time of its approval, and the time of executing the grant correspond to the time before the action, the point in time of overtaking the action, and the time after the action, respectively, then there are two types of controls that can be used to protect against risks: (1) preventive, and (2) corrective controls.

Preventive controls are those that aim to reduce the probability of negative outcome before overtaking the action, i.e. at the time of evaluating the grant request. In fact, preventive controls cover the activities carried out during the process of evaluating the request and thus they include examination of grantee's credibility, feasibility study, cost-benefit analysis, etc. However, every single request is specific with regards to grantee's credibility, the structure of the annual plan, and the financial implications, which requires performing a more thorough analysis by introducing additional preventive controls. In my opinion, the examination of grantee's credibility reflects the most the need of introducing additional preventive controls. The more successful annual plans accomplished by the grantee along with less turbulence in its working history, the more credibility we would have when examining the grant request submitted from that specific entity. So, in order to increase screening efficiency, the FDC members will have to be acquainted by the Affiliations Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Wikimedia Foundation, the grantees themselves, or any other stakeholder with all relevant information about the grantee from the past few years. The case with the Centre for the Internet and Society (CIS) is an unusual type of request submitted to the APG programme as it circumvents some of the eligibility criteria on the grounds of a resolution approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2013. Since the Wikimedia Foundation and the Centre for the Internet and Society (CIS) have already extended mutual cooperation which ended with a resolution from the Board of Trustees, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Board of Trustees are likely to have the necessary information about the entity and should be used as a source to enhance the screening activities of the FDC when evaluating the request. Other cases should be treated in a similar way.

Corrective controls, unlike the preventive, aim to reduce the probability of negative outcome after overtaking the action, i.e. at the time of executing the grant. In general, corrective controls include those activities that report about the financing, the progress, and the impact of the programme. The reporting requirements that we currently have address the aforementioned points, although there is enough room for improvements. I think that grantees will have to be committed to preparing progress reports on a monthly and impact reports on a quarterly basis. Grantees have multiple projects with numerous activities on a daily basis, so requiring reports on quarterly basis makes it much harder to watch the logical continuation of their activities. In other words, the quarterly progress reports give insight on the activities that were done but are not sufficient to document the progress of those activities. Similarly, the annual impact reports inform about the impact that the programme have in general but is simply insufficient to reveal information about the impact of specific projects. In addition, such changes will also increase transparency and broaden the learning base for the smaller chapters and affiliated organisations as well as the global community as whole. To support my suggestion, it is worth mentioning that the chapters and affiliated organisations usually prepare monthly reports, which indicates that there won't be any problems in preparing the reports and even creates an opportunity of integrating them and thus increase their quality.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 13:08, 30 June 2014 (UTC)


Abhijith Jayanthi[edit]

I strongly support a stringent audit process/mechanism which should be made part of the application process, so that the applicant chapter shall state the prescribed monitoring/audit procedures in line with the local practices. Fund Dissemination without necessary and apt checks and balances in terms of end-use will only lead to futile efforts. I strongly encourage applicants to put a formal monitoring schematic as part of their applications.

Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

Thanks for your concern. To be honest, money should be spent wisely regardless of its source but I do understand your sentiment: visualization of a poor donor might help in curbing someone's expenses and elevate scrutiny. On the other hand, the money is an asset to spend (altough wisely). As written above, I don't feel that salary expenses are bad per se. You can make huge misspendings simply by buying tickets, hotels, meals, unnecessary equipment, training, office etc. No item is 100% bulletproof.

Salaries can be really good: when providing services not obtainable with volunteers, burning out your volunteer base or the ones that would be actually more expensive withvolunteers (I remember a GAC submitted project requesting for means to bring volunteering people on site when buying a service on site would be far cheaper and IMO simplier&better). Then there is always the second side of the equation: estimation of benefits of particular expenses. In every situation you need to find your pros and cons and run your internal calculation. I know great projects consisting mostly of staff costs.

In terms of the CIS example you brought: I have not been involved here and my knowledge is highly limited. However, I think these numbers indeed look worring - maybe not even in terms of general staff costs (which seem to be high relatively to the goals) but simply in general cost vs. planned goals. Having said that, FDC members are in far better position to judge how they forecast results of this submission, how much they are willing to spend and what could be done.

Board-appointed vs. community-elected[edit]

I note with some concern that the ongoing FDC nomination process appears to fit into the current trend of excluding the Wikimedia community from the decision-making process. While, as community members, we are allowed to post questions to the candidates, we have no real say in who actually gets elected to the FDC (in this round); this is, unfortunately, also the case with the majority of the seats on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (currently seven out of ten members of the Board are not community-elected).

With six out of eleven FDC members appointed by the Board of Trustees (a majority), it is clear that the FDC—just as the Board of Trustees itself—does not hold too much of a community mandate to decide how to allocate the funds that are collected in support of the work of the community. The context given for the creation of the FDC states:

The sole purpose of the FDC would be to make recommendations to the WMF Board of Trustees for funding activities and initiatives in support of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

Additionally, the mortal-friendly summary of the FDC framework states:

The goal of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) is to help make decisions about how to effectively allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy.

I ask the candidates to please describe their understanding of the role of the FDC and its ability to assess fund-seeking applications against the mission, vision and strategy of the Wikimedia movement given that its composition obviously excludes the point of view of the single most significant, diverse and numerous movement stakeholder — the worldwide Wikimedia community.

My second request is for the candidates to specify whether they believe that the community should be more involved in the selection process of the FDC, for instance whether they think that the community should be able to choose all FDC members in direct elections, similar to those held last year? Or should the Board of Trustees — with the majority of members not elected by the community — still be able to appoint six out of the eleven FDC members, ie. do they support the status quo? Thanks in advance for your time, odder (talk) 11:53, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Mike Peel[edit]

Hi Odder. I think you've got your numbers wrong here. The full FDC is 9 members, not 11. The first 7 FDC members were all WMF board-appointed; 2 more joined by community election last year. The nominations this year are for 4 WMF board-appointed members; next year the elections will be for 5 members. So although for the next year the FDC will continue to be made up of 7 WMF board-appointed members and 2 community-elected members, that changes next year to 4 WMF board-appointed and 5 community-elected members, i.e. a majority of community-elected members, which I think is a much better balance.

I think it's important that the FDC has appointed members to ensure that it has all of the necessary expertise on the committee to make the best decisions it can. I don't think that the current approach of having appointed and elected members in separate years is the optimal solution - I think it would be better to hold elections for 2-3 positions each year and then to use the appointed positions to fill skill gaps after the election results are known. Hopefully that's something that can be considered in the future.

I view the role of the FDC as ensuring that donors' money is well-spent in a way that best furthers the mission and vision of the Wikimedia movement, which it does by bringing an independent and global viewpoint to the applicant's annual plan, and then entrusting the organisations with unrestricted movement funds and the expectation that they will figure out how best to spend the money according to their overall plan and its objectives. To be honest, I don't think that the Wikimedia movement has a proper strategy at the moment that all parties have bought into - the current strategy is more the WMF's strategy and goals than it is the movement's as a whole, and I'd really like the Wikimedia movement to put together a strategy for the next 5 years that all parties in the movement buy into.

I am worried about community involvement with the FDC's work - there have been some great questions asked, and comments made, by the community on applications to the FDC. However, there hasn't been nearly enough questions and comments - most of the community isn't taking advantage of the opportunity to do this, which is rather concerning. I'm more worried about this aspect of community involvement than any other aspect. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:33, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Matanya[edit]

Hello Odder, I would like to answer the question with a higher overview than your question, so i can explain my view better. I won't reply to the numbers you have provided as Mike already pointed that out above.

I separate the roles inside the movement into two main roles: roles that require some expertise, and those which don't. To become an admin on a project, all you need is the willingness to obey to community principles, a good personality and common sense, the technical side of stuff is mostly easy. To become a steward you need just a bit more of the said characteristic, and a lot of time. On the other hand becoming a developer is different: You need to have some coding skills, being a nice guy isn't enough. So if i continue with my little analogy here, we do elect admins and stewards by the wider community, but we don't give merge rights to people based on elections.

The financial side is similar, When you deal with money, especially donors money, some skill set is needed. I would love to see the FDC Built from a community based majority, that will point at the needed strategy and goals, aided by appointed members to fulfil missing skills and knowledge in the FDC. That being said, I do think a balanced committee is crucial, and community voice must be heard. Matanya (talk) 21:58, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

I have, perhaps, a slightly different perspective on the value of community elections for this position. As the lead member of the Election Committee last year, I felt that adding the FDC and FDC Ombud elections to the Board of Trustees elections had a negative effect on overall participation. It is difficult to quantify exactly how negative it was; technical limitations of SecurePoll prevented us from running two separate elections (one for Board roles and one for FDC roles), so they all had to be on a single "ballot". In order to get people to read the whole ballot, we put the FDC roles at the top. We had 2343 people log in to vote, and then 534 of them (23%) did not vote at all, and we also had the lowest voter numbers ever (1809 completed votes) for a Board-related election. One needs to keep in mind that the overwhelming percentage of the worldwide Wikimedia community is not affected (or particularly interested) in any way by the recommendations of the FDC, except in the sense that a good number of them likely wonder why chapters and affiliates as a group receive such generous financial support (roughly 8-10% of the WMF budget). Sue Gardner noted, in her annual report on the FDC process that the "FDC process [is] dominated by chapters perspectives"; that is, its membership is not representative of the community as a whole, with few non-affiliated members or candidates. Even in this Board-appointed round, a significant majority of candidates are members of one or more grant-receiving entities.

The FDC is a subcommittee reporting to the Board of Trustees, just as the Audit Committee and the Ombudsman Committee are; a certain level of expertise is needed for these roles, although the type of expertise varies. I'd suggest that actually having half (or almost half) of the FDC selected by the small portion of the community that takes an interest is possibly excessive, and that the Board should give some consideration to designating a minimum number of non-affiliated members and establishing one or two seats as specific "expertise" seats outside of the influence of the community. Candidates for these expertise seats should include individuals with extensive grants analysis and/or programmatic review experience, and the candidates may well come from outside of the WMF community.

It would be my intention, as an FDC member, to pay particular attention to community comments on the grant applications made by eligible entities. This is where the community has the potential to really affect decisions, and I would strongly encourage community members to comment on the substance (or lack of substance!) of the information provided by FDC-funded affiliates. Risker (talk) 00:10, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

Osmar Valdebenito[edit]

As Mike Peel clarified before, it is wrong that the Board appoints the majority of the seats. In fact, one of the most important ideas in the FDC Advisory Committee was to have a majority of seats elected by the community in the mid-term and encourage community participation in the evaluation of the affiliate applications. However, I would like to emphasize why it is important to maintain some seats elected by the Board. This is a very specialized committee, where it is important to have some background on grantmaking, economics and/or management and also to maintain diversity within the committee. If all the seats are elected by community votes, there is a possibility that all seats are awarded to people not prepared for the FDC and only from the larger communities from Europe and the US. In fact, it was one of the reasons why in the FDC AG we recommended elections every two years and not all years; in elections with fewer seats available is more probable that the larger communities have better results and marginalize the smaller ones.

On the other hand, I’m worried that we may be experiencing some participation fatigue within the community. Even though the FDC has a lot of open spaces for the community, there is very small participation in the applications review, with the exception of the WMF “proposal” a few months ago. Opening more elections and making them more frequent can exhaust the voters and even generate a counterproductive effect. There are already some signs of it: we had a 33% decrease in the number of votes in the 2013 Board election, compared with the 2011 election. Of the 1,809 valid votes in the 2013 election, only 1,000 expressed an opinion for the most voted candidate. At the end, increasing the number of elections can decrease the number of participants, especially those that don’t understand what FDC, chapters and WMF do; instead of empowering the whole community, we will be empowering just those volunteers already active on organizational discussions. --Osmar Valdebenito, B1mbo (talk) 02:16, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Smallbones[edit]

Of course there should be community elected folks on the FDC, but I think a majority is sufficient. Geographic, gender, language, and cultural diversity is also very important, especially as the movement is trying to increase participation in the global south. Handing all the committee memberships to the dominant Western culture, as could happen in a pure election system, would be exactly the wrong strategy. The board appointed seats, so far, have avoided that problem.

Technical expertise is certainly needed and the board is best positioned to evaluate that expertise, as well deciding what expertise is lacking in the committee at the time.

I do have some difficulties with some of the current governance systems within the movement. Election turnout is usually abysmal. It seems like a very small highly motivated group can dominate some parts of the system. Your question might be considered as part of an overall review of governance systems within the movement.

My nightmare of how a pure election system might work looks something like the US House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee (aka Gucci Gulch). US congressmen run on how much money they can deliver to their constituents. Then as part of the committee they are susceptible to large campaign contributions. Their special requests are buried deep into the budget to avoid public scrutiny, but are always taken care of first. Yes, that is just a nightmare, but I wouldn't want the FDC to develop into anything close to that. It shows that even in a highly democratic system that the institutional setup can be hugely important.

Beat Estermann[edit]

Hi Odder, as you noted, "the goal of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) is to help make decisions about how to effectively allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy". Therefore, the most effective way to allow participation from the community would in my view be to ensure wide participation in the movement's stratety-making process. As some of the other candidates have already noted, adding more possibilities for community participation may be counterproductive if this results in shrinking numbers of people actually participating in the decision-making process.

Under the present framework, a small majority of the FDC members are elected by the community, and most - if not all - board-appointed FDC members represent certain perspectives from within our movement/community. Under these circumstances I don't really understand why you reach the conclusion that "its [the FDC's] composition obviously excludes the point of view of the single most significant, diverse and numerous movement stakeholder — the worldwide Wikimedia community." I think the opposite is the case.

I also believe that the composition of the FDC should be balanced with regard to various aspects: origin, competencies/expertise, role within the movement, gender, etc. and its members should be committed to doing a fair and equitable job. I don't really see how a community election-only approach would perform better in achieving this than the present approach.

This said, I share the opinion of some of my fellow-candidates that the FDC should be open with regard to community participation in the review of funding applications. --Beat Estermann (talk) 07:45, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Netha Hussain[edit]

Hi Odder! Before answering this question, let me throw light to the fact that the appointment of members to FDC during this round is happening under exceptional circumstances. The WMF is witnessing a major change of positions at the office of the Executive Director. The current ED is due to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on whether and how to move forward with the FDC process in the coming months. However, the FDC process has to continue anyway, and the full FDC should be put in place before the next grantmaking round starts. This would be the only round where there are 7 nominated members, and the community election process will happen during next round. Even in this round, I do not think that the selection process is against the interests of the Wikimedia community because of two reasons:

  • Most of the candidates who self-nominated here are active Wikimedians coming from a wide variety of backgrounds. They are well acquainted to the community because of their long history of involvement with Wikimedia.
  • I trust the Board of Trustees in that they are well aware of the interests of the community, and that they will not nominate a member who has a bad standing in the community. Further, the Q&A process helps the Board of Trustees to learn the community vibes, and choose members based on the answers provided by each candidate. The Board will also conduct interviews with a subset of self-nominated candidates to gauge their interest in the FDC and to make sure that they will work with the best interests of the community in mind.

As other candidates have noted in previous answers, the role of nominated members is important in that they can bring in a variety of perspectives and expertise from the diverse backgrounds they belong to. The nominated members should fill the lacunae in areas where the expertise of the existing FDC is deficient in.

That said, I would have loved to see more interaction from the community on this page. Perhaps placing a banner on several Wikiprojects requesting community members to contribute to the public Q&A would help. We often witness lengthy discussions happening on seemingly trivial issues on Wikipedia, but there seems to be a general lack of interest in discussing about more concerning issues (fund dissemination, for instance) which has a greater role in deciding the future of our movement. One of the priority goals of the FDC should be to find out means to invite more feedback and perspectives from the community, especially from the vocal minorities such as the global south. --Netha Hussain (talk) 17:23, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for your questions odder. My personal view on the FDC is that it represents an advisory body constituted with the aim of presenting opinions and delivering advices to the Board of Trustees about the dissemination of donors' funds into larger portions for a relatively longer period of time. Its primary goal is to make sure that the donors' funds will end up in supporting mission-aligned activities due to be accomplished in a specified period of time and thereby meet their expectations. The scope and the main responsibilities of the committee make it closer to the other committees dealing with grants rather than any other body within our movement. Essentially, the FDC along with the other grants committees builds up an advisory group which mediates between the donors and the affiliated organisations in order to come up with rational opinions over the funds dissemination. Moreover, the committee has virtually the same role as the GAC or the IEG committee, but is organised more formally and given much higher priority due to the different structure and purpose of the requested grants. The latter implies that it could be used as a nice standard for future harmonisation of the organisational structure and the work done by the other similar bodies.

The involvement of the community in the electoral process in its current shape is a moot point. Before explaining my view on it, I'd like to bring out two very important points: (1) the nature of the community involvement, and (2) the profile of FDC members. To be honest, our global community is involved in the electoral process even if the final decision falls on the members of the Board of Trustees, the the Board members of the affiliated organisations, or any other community-entrusted body. The members of these committees serve with the main aim of representing the community, so every decision they make formally presents the opinion of the community. Thus, the involvement of the Wikimedia community becomes obvious in either case, albeit done directly through open election or indirectly through selection from the Board of Trustees. The specification of members' profile has particular significance as it implies on some features such like the gender, age, nationality, or expertise, which are important for appointing competent members and achieving the desired diversity. But the election of FDC members upon such specification can be done only through selection from a community-entrusted body because the presumption that people from different parts of the world would entirely avoid canvassing and stay focused on the specified profile is not realistic. As a result, my opinion is that the FDC members should be rather selected from the Board of Trustees than elected in an open election, whereupon the fact that the selection is done by people appointed from the community is sufficient to indicate on involvement by the community.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 09:41, 30 June 2014 (UTC)


Abhijith Jayanthi[edit]

Hi Odder! I sense, you seek to present a view that community elected candidates shall truly represent the community. While at it, FDC is an advisory committee and it is important to include voices from beyond the community to get a 360 Deg. view. I feel the FDC nomination procedures are truly transparent and has no parity against the community members to nominate themselves. Further, the Q&A process helps the community to scrutiny the candidatures, and also presents the Board of Trustees with an opportunity to learn the community vibes, and choose members based on the answers provided by each candidate. The Board will also conduct interviews with a subset of self-nominated candidates to gauge their interest in the FDC and to make sure that they will work with the best interests of the community.

My comments are restricted to the FDC Member Nominations Procedures and I am not commenting on other committees.

Aegis Maelstrom[edit]

Hello Odder, sorry for making you wait. I wouldn't be so harsh in terms of the FDC elections: after all the candidates and appointed members are Wikimedia Community members, keeping their opinions and backgrounds after their appointment. Moreover, one can have long disputes whether general elections are better or worse than other recruitment processes. Finally, WMF should have a lot of to say if they would like to appoint a decvision-making body...

...and here comes the crux. FDC, as GAC, is an advisory body only. In my opinion, these bodies should evolve to be increasingly empowered and independent, with growing budgets remaining solely in their decisions - even if they are to evaluate the submissions in terms of their coherence with WMF's strategic plan, mission etc. It is good that FDC reviews WMF's activity and budget already and I think this process could be enhanced (this year some key budget points in WMF's submission were very general, I've already commented on it). If the FDC process holds a capped budget, I think it should be stronger communicated (we cannot give you 100% Wikimedia Turkmenistan, because other chapters had nice submissions too and our budget is limited), possibly with some possibility of increasing the budget by WMF's Board.

As a side note, as the FDC is to respect WMF's mission and vision statement and strategic plans strictly, I would love to see them more consulted with the general community, including the evaluated Chapters, in the future. As a long-term Wikimedian I remember different visions of Wikimedia Movement and such step could satisfy your request for more community.

Questions to specific candidates[edit]

Smallbones[edit]

  • Question for User:Smallbones -- whilst you make mention of your experiences in Russia as a positive experience in terms of your suitability for a position on the FDC, did you have any negative experiences in Russia which has in-turn impeded your judgement on Wikimedia projects, and which also may impede your suitability for an FDC position? Russavia (talk) 19:59, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
    • The short answer is that Moscow is one of the great cities of the world and living and teaching in Moscow for 7 years during the 1990s was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Living in Moscow is a lot like living in New York with a better subway system.
I was teaching finance to the best students in the world. For 4 years our institute was located in the main building of Moscow State University (MGU) (but it was not actually a part of MGU), and my students came from the best faculties there: MechMat, FizFak, etc. as well as from FizTek and other institutes. As a teacher, I'll just never be able to replicate that experience.
The times were quite interesting of course, and I must say easier on me than on most Russians - I could always leave. As an example, during the 1998 financial crisis, I got to see a bank run. That's quite an important learning experience for a finance teacher, but I could afford to wait the 4 months before I got my $1,000 back from Sberbank, whereas many Russians couldn't really wait that long.
In the American community in Moscow I had a fairly high profile. I wrote a weekly column in the Moscow Times, was well-known to foreign businesses through the American Chamber of Commerce, and helped found the Moscow AmCham International MBA Case Competition.
The main problem in Moscow, then and now, is the government. Believe it or not, the Russian political class is several times worse than the American political class, and the government works many times less effectively and honestly. Another problem turned out to be the gutter press in Moscow. They make money printing kompromat or "compromising materials" - or more plainly, blackmail. I'm sure if Russavia wishes to search for the kompromat printed about me he can find it. And my only response will be: it's 100% false, made up totally from someone's imagination. Smallbones (talk) 19:05, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Risker[edit]

BLP[edit]

  • Question for User:Risker -- such a position requires someone with utmost integrity, honesty and humility. So with this in mind, I would like to ask you a question in relation to the debacle surrounding Fae's Arbcom case which lead to his banning on English Wikipedia and which created a real BLP issue. Is there anything surrounding that case which you now regret doing? This goes down to the core of being able to read what is in front of you and being able to apply that to situations which will affect either editors or how the "movement" operates. Russavia (talk) 13:31, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
    • First off, Russavia, I do not believe that humility is a personal characteristic that is particularly of value in members of a committee that is responsible for recommending allocation of significant amounts of donor money; it is not of benefit to anyone that the FDC be populated by deferential and meek supplicants. I expect that the broader community expects FDC members to have the courage to ask difficult questions, to identify weaknesses and concerns as well as strengths in applications, and to support the decision of the committee as a whole.

      I have reviewed the facts of the matter to which you allude. The events took place during the course of Wikimania 2012, which several members of the Arbitration Committee, as well as the subject of the arbcom case, were attending. As a member of the committee, I shared information with the rest of the committee that was relevant to a matter before it; I did so in a non-public channel and informed my colleagues that the information had not been verified independently, that I believed further investigation was required, and I proposed a process by which we might undertake that further investigation taking advantage of the unusual opportunity of an in-person discussion. However, before any further investigation could take place, other members of the committee elected to make the information public on their own without consensus from the remainder of the committee. I believe that this was a very unfortunate decision on their part; while I take full responsibility for my own actions during the time I was on the Arbitration Committee, I am aware that on multiple occasions individual arbitrators acting on their own have inflamed situations unnecessarily, sometimes to the detriment of individual editors as well as the committee as a whole. I do not believe that the FDC operates in the same way as the English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee. As a member of the FDC, I would expect that any information I provide to my colleagues would only be made public after a consensus decision to do so; and I would respect the confidentiality of discussions within the committee. I do not see a scope for any member of the FDC to act alone in any matters that fall within the committee's mandate, with the possible exception of asking carefully considered questions of the applicants on the applicable talk page. Risker (talk) 15:47, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

  • Question for User:Risker -- I lived to regret your action and that of the WMF employee involved, very much indeed. It is a pity that after all this time to consider you actions, you appear to regret nothing. I shall never regain my public reputation, nor even two years later do I feel I will ever be anything more than a dirty joke amongst our Wikimedia community no matter how much I do to improve the content of our projects. I do not have a statement from you or the Committee as to what you said in secret to them, and I have no idea who decided to make a public statement that I had "suborned" an employee, potentially a serious crime under UK law and US law. I never had the opportunity to respond to whatever secret testimony was made, and I had always presumed it was you that made these claims to the Committee, nor have you refuted it. Could you explain why you believe it fits the Wikimedia community shared values of openness and transparency, or fits with the wider public understanding of personal ethical behaviour, that I still do not have copies of whatever secret testimony and correspondence you had with the committee in 2012 with regard any claims about subverting, suborning or whatever words you used to make claims about my intentions, and my private undocumented meeting with a WMF employee who at that time I considered a friend? -- (talk) 18:41, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

I'll request that Risker *not* answer that question and this space be limited to questions that are relevant to the FDC. Anybody who has shown any leadership in the Wikimedia Movement, which includes all of the candidates, will likely be subject to such harangues. If anybody wishes to dig up old gripes, I'll suggest that they send them directly to the board via e-mail and copy the person they are accusing. Fae's gripe about being banned by ArbCom and Russavia's complaints about being community banned on en:Wikipedia for uploading kompromat to Commons, have no place here. Smallbones (talk) 19:32, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

I would like to remind all readers and the board, that Smallbones is not running this process. As a candidate, his comments here lobbying against open questions are highly inappropriate, better suited to his regular "opinion pieces" on Jimmy Wales' talk page. I believe it is up to the candidates to demonstrate their own judgement when answering questions. By the way, you can find a definition of Kompromat at its Wikipedia article, it seems to be cryptic Russian political jargon. Thanks -- (talk) 22:45, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
As the person responsible for the process, , I'd request you to keep your comments and questions on-topic. If you have questions for Risker that are about the FDC and her interest in being on the committee, I'm sure she would be happy to respond to those. thanks, ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 14:26, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I had thought the parallel as to how Risker will act with regard to FDC secret correspondence or subjective evidence, and their ethical stance with regard to openness and transparency for the Wikimedia community, particularly when making unsourced and potentially damaging assertions about named living people, was in my statement. I'll re-write a more explicit question shortly, to avoid any possible misinterpretation, by any reader. -- (talk) 14:40, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Fæ, if you wish to write a question about openness and transparency, do so as a general question to all candidates, as it is an issue that is equally applicable to all candidates. I will not be responding to your original question. Risker (talk) 15:47, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
That is what I was thinking of doing, as my understanding of the FDC is that it needs to run on the highest possible ethical standards of public transparency and integrity. If for ethical reasons you wish to copy me your correspondence mentioned above, which I believe was the root cause of significant damage to my reputation and as a consequence the wider movement, please do so using my "faewik" address, this may help put these concerns finally to rest. Thanks -- (talk) 15:54, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I deleted just about all of my Arbcom correspondence at the end of my term. Risker (talk) 15:59, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
With regard to the FDC, if there are serious assertions about living people, I have every confidence that the records would be retained for legal reasons and could be produced if there were an investigation or an allegation of misconduct (in the UK the statutory period was for up to 12 years). I'll think about tying this in to my general question, certainly the above incident makes a useful illustration of why it is important for the individual. -- (talk) 16:07, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
Erm, no. It is not useful for a former arbitrator to retain duplicates of emails that are properly available in the Arbcom archives. Your complaint is with the 2012 Arbitration Committee, of which I was one member, and you should take it up with the committee at the appropriate venue, which is not this page. Risker (talk) 16:38, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
I was talking about the FDC ("With regard to the FDC"), not the English Wikipedia, and about legal requirements that may apply to committee archives rather than how you manage your personal emails. I shall consider how to write the question to avoid more misinterpretation, but it appears quite a difficult thing to do. -- (talk) 18:00, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Community review[edit]

(A) About this section, you said above «I also agree with the importance placed on the WMF annual plan receiving public review». (B) However you said on wikimedia-l [2]: «I think this is a horrible idea», «it shouldn't be being done at all because the request is outside of the FDC's scope», «poor judgment on everyone's part»; and even «The amount of feedback [...] is significantly reduced from what happened [previously]».

  1. How do you reconcile (A) with (B)? Do you still think that the WMF annual plan must not be submitted to the FDC for public review?
  2. Can you clarify how any amount of feedback can be less than the 0 comments received last year on the draft plan? Did you mean that the talk has received a greatly-negative number of comments?
  3. Why did you previously (2012) also oppose having a community review of the annual plan on Talk:Wikimedia budget, community review in which your only comment (as of 2012–2014) was a complaint about the review itself?
  4. Do you think an observer would conclude that you oppose any community review of the WMF annual plan whenever you have a chance to? Can this have contributed to your non-selection as FDC ombud and then to your falling some 20-30 % short of the required confidence level to be elected steward? (Full disclosure: I was one of the 80+ non-supporting users.)

Thanks for the time, Nemo 12:54, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

  • Well, this is an interesting series of questions, Nemo. What I said was that I did not believe it to be within the scope of the FDC to review any proposals that do not include a funding request; and that, having failed to decline to review this request, it was not appropriate to delegate their review of the WMF annual plan to WMDE, one of the entities that seeks funds from the FDC and also receives direct funding from the WMF for other projects. I believed then, and continue to believe, that it created a perceived conflict of interest in several areas. The WMF was not asking for funding; therefore, the FDC should have redirected the request as being out of scope. Let's look at a full email here in the same thread (27 Apr 17:01 2014) [3]:

Quite bluntly, the WMF shouldn't be asking the FDC to review a plan that

does not include a request for funds: it is outside of the FDC mandate, which is to recommend the disbursement of a specific funding envelope using specific criteria. I would have hoped that the FDC would have the courage to say "no, sorry, this is outside our scope", but I understand that it's hard to step away from such a juicy-looking opportunity.

However, having accepted the validity of the "proposal", the FDC does not have the authority to delegate its role. If it is unable to carry out the task effectively within its own group and structure, it should either be refusing the task, or it should be reporting to the Board of Trustees that it is unable to carry out the requested tasks with respect to the WMF. It should not be contracting with one of its own supplicants to review the proposal of another, particularly when there are obvious conflicts of interest involved. The lack of recognition of that conflict of interest on the part of the FDC is a very serious matter, and raises doubts about the impartiality of the FDC as a whole. It's all well and good for your members to step out of the room while discussing certain applications, but with 4 of 9 FDC members being directly affiliated with supplicant groups, your standards for avoidance of conflict of interest need to be significantly stronger. There was good reason for concern that the FDC is becoming a self-dealing group without this delegation of responsibility.

And later, also in the same thread (27 Apr 19:49 2014):

There's no money involved in this proposal, in case you haven't noticed.

Your job isn't programmatic review, and you should have rejected the request. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all, and tell the WMF to go to the community as a whole, or recommend to the Board that a completely independent party do the programmatic review. The amount of feedback that is coming in for WMF proposals under the FDC is significantly reduced from what happened when they went to the community.

  • In summary, I believe that the WMF annual plan should be reviewed. I do not believe that any entity's plan that does not include an FDC funding request should be reviewed by the FDC. I have proposed that there be a community review of the WMF annual plan or, alternately, that there be a completely independent programmatic review. I believe that community review of the WMF annual plan is worthwhile, and I also believe that there should be consideration given to having an independent programmatic review.
  • In 2012, I attempted unsuccessfully to create a specific page on Meta for the review of the 2012-13 proposed annual plan. At that time, the Wikimedia budget page was (a) fully protected and (b) for all intents an historical page as it had not been updated since 2009, nor had the talk page been used for several years. It was you who decided to redirect the page I created. I remain firm in my belief that each individual year's annual plan/budget warrants its own page and discussion space. It is fine for you to disagree with me about where and how the discussion of the annual plan should take place, but it is not okay to suggest that I did not want the discussion to occur. Indeed, at the top of the page, you transcribed comments by Wikimedians – including me – that were made to the wikimedia-L mailing list. I did comment on the proposal. I note also that, on the same page, there's a fair amount of commentary for the 2013-14 budget year, and that was over and above the comments provided by the FDC on the funding request that was made by the WMF for that year. I read the 2013-14 proposal, didn't have many significant concerns about it (and those that I had were covered by others already), and so didn't post my own opinions.
  • At the time the FDC was created, I received at least a dozen requests to put myself forward as a candidate for the committee, from all walks of Wikimedia life. I knew I was not in a position to make the necessary commitment at that time (I was still a member of the Enwiki Arbitration Committee then), but as an indication of my support for the development of the FDC, I agreed to stand for the ombud position. During my candidacy for that position, I was repeatedly asked to reconsider a candidacy for the FDC itself; there seemed to be some notion that the ombud position was a "less important" one, and that I was somehow overqualified for it. Given that feedback, I wasn't really expecting to be appointed to the ombud position. I respect that the Board made a different decision, and was perfectly fine with it. As to the steward candidacy, I believe based on the comments attached to votes, that my lack of cross-wiki vandal fighting was the primary reason for my unsuccessful candidacy; while I don't agree that that particular metric is really indicative of much to do with stewardship, I respect that it's what the voting community is looking for. Risker (talk) 01:59, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

User:Abhijithsince1986[edit]

as we have so few persons from india who edit it was really interesting to read that you "edit" and are "active". but this says 80 lifetime edits? looking at your user page you have quite a number of roles which might easily occupy 3 persons i understand you have no time to spend 15 minutes a week to edit wikipedia. but if you do not have these 15 minutes a week, how would could you imagine having time for the FDC? --ThurnerRupert (talk) 01:56, 18 June 2014 (UTC)


Thank you for the questionThurnerRupert. I understand the statistics and the numbers you have presented, while I am of the view that a Wikipedian is not necessarily a person who only edits or if s/he spends lot of time on wikipedia but also collaborates/uses wikipedia. I would implore readers/editors/others to seek quality over quantity. And, I wish to do my research and present valid edits -- in short, number of edits will not fully capture someone's engagement with Wikipedia. Regarding the availability of time,I take your remark of my other engagements as a compliment, I am happy that you learnt about my engagements, but while at it, I wish to point out that, I fulfil my commitments to the best of my ability and that you will see limited to no complaints regarding my time availability spread across different engagements. I hope this aspect of my engagement matrix is also appreciated.

There are two principal reasons why I believe my candidature will be of value for FDC: (1) Fund Dissemination is principally pseudo-fiduciary responsibility and with formal training in accounting and auditing practices, I trust my candidature will help in evaluating various proposals and also in the monitoring process after fund disbursement. I have interacted with Board Members of Wikimedia Chapters in India and Switzerland, over the course of my engagement with Wikimedia so far and I trust I have insights regarding end-use of funds and other mechanisms which need to be carefully reviewed while evaluating applications.

(2) I am particularly interested to initiate necessary audit practices/procedures for every accepted proposal and wish to contribute in building a robust process of monitoring (post-evaluation) and I understand my candidature will add value in not only evaluation of proposals but also in structuring the grant/fund disbursements.

- Abhijith

User:Netha_Hussain[edit]

Netha, while it is delightful to see you on this list, it seems quite evident that you have not made some essential disclosures w.r.t your affiliation with CIS which is seeking funds through FDC from India and also with WMIN which was granted funds through FDC. As far as I know, you have received payments from both of them and might do so in the future as well? (Correct me if I'm wrong). Cheers, --H P Nadig (talk) 23:29, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for the question. Disclosure of COI is not necessary at this stage of application, but I think it is better to give tell them right away. I am a member of Wikimedia India Chapter since 2012 and I plan to continue my membership even if I become a member of the FDC. Here are the details about the microgrants I received (individually or as a part of the team) from the Wikimedia India Chapter :

I have conducted numerous workshops and outreach sessions for Wikimedia India, but all of them were in my capacity as a volunteer. If I am selected as a member of the FDC, I will refrain from receiving all forms of funding from Wikimedia India both individually and as a team. However, I will continue to closely work with them in my capacity as a volunteer. At the FDC, I shall recuse from involving in any proposal that has WM-IN as a party.

I have worked closely with the CIS-A2K program since its inception as a volunteer. The team of volunteers including me has received grants from the CIS-A2K program in 2012 and 2013 to conduct WikiSangamotsavam, the annual conference of Malayalam Wikimedians. Med-GLAM, the stand-alone project of CIS-A2K is my brainchild, and I will work with the CIS as a Wikimedian-in-residence for my medical college. My service shall be purely voluntary, and I shall not receive any payment from the CIS-A2K for doing this project. Because of my association with them, I shall recuse from participating in any FDC deliberations that involves the CIS.
Hope this answer sufficiently explains my COI with the WM-IN and CIS-A2K. Please let me know if you have any further clarifications! --Netha Hussain (talk) 08:03, 21 June 2014 (UTC)