Grants:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round2/Wikimedia Foundation/Proposal form/Ongoing work areas

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Ongoing work areas of the Wikimedia Foundation

(Appendix to the WMF's 2013-2014 round 2 proposal, later republished in slightly edited form as part of the 2014-15 Annual Plan)

This is a comprehensive overview of ongoing, long-term work that Wikimedia Foundation staff and contractors are carrying out in support of the Wikimedia projects. It is complementing the descriptions of larger, one-time endeavours and key programs that are highlighted in the WMF annual plan and elsewhere.


The mission of the Engineering department is to build, improve and maintain the technical infrastructure of Wikimedia projects (software and hardware), by supporting and complementing volunteer efforts. Altogether, the MediaWiki software (with extensions) which is used on Wikimedia sites and supported by the Foundation contains over 2.6 million lines of code, representing (in the estimate of one third party service) over 700 years of human effort.[1] In 2012 and 2013, the large majority of merged commits (i.e. code contributions entering the main version) came from WMF staff and contractors, with over 20,000 commits in 2013.[2] They also participate heavily in the triaging, discussing and resolving of bug reports and feature requests, posting 38007 comments on the Wikimedia Bugzilla platform in 2013.[3]

Platform Engineering[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation's Platform Engineering team is responsible for the MediaWiki core (the central part of the software running the over 800[4] Wikimedia wikis), managing work from volunteer developers, and providing services that are used by multiple technology teams.

Code review: We enable code contributions from community and staff while protecting the quality and security of MediaWiki as it supports our projects.[edit]

Flowchart representing the development and deployment process in use by the Wikimedia Foundation as of March 2014

Any change in the code base can have unintended consequences, e.g. breaking functionality, degrading performance or introducing security holes. To ensure the quality and consistency of the MediaWiki core code and extensions used on Wikimedia wikis, a strict four-eyes principle is applied before merging new code, known as "code review". Wikimedia Foundation staff perform code review for more than 1500 commits per month[5], from contributors both within and outside the WMF. A large part of these reviews are done by members of the platform team. Each code review involves the reviewers analyzing and understanding another programmer's work, often communicating with them to resolve open issues, before taking the responsibility of approving the incorporation of this contribution into the main code base. The platform team also administers Gerrit, the code review platform itself.

Security and privacy: We work to protect Wikimedia sites against criminal attacks, and to protect and enhance the privacy of our users.[edit]

Besides reviewing single code commits for security issues, members of the platform team also perform larger security audits, handle security trainings, and (together with the Operations team) conduct forensic postmortem analysis of major security incidents and outages (11 in 2013). The team also responds to reported security issues and releases security updates to MediaWiki.

Site performance and architecture: We make Wikimedia sites faster and keep them maintainable.[edit]

This work comprises initiatives geared towards improving site responsiveness, decreasing resource consumption, and improving site maintainability. Towards this goal, the MediaWiki core team provides performance consulting services to other teams, audits their code, and makes architectural changes and improvements.

Deployment: We push new code into production to support changes to the Wikimedia sites.[edit]

The platform team organizes and oversees the weekly deployment cycle, where software changes and additions go live on Wikimedia servers.

APIs: We enable external developers to create applications that interface with Wikimedia sites.[edit]

The platform team is responsible for developing and documenting a clear set of APIs (interfaces that allow the functions of one part of the software to be used in other software) so that external developers can create applications that easily interface with MediaWiki.

Release management: We make it easier for others to reuse our software.[edit]

The platform team coordinates the organization of ongoing MediaWiki development into stable releases (about once or twice a year), interspersed by more frequent "-wmf" branches (36 in 2013[6]). The stable releases are prepared for easy reuse by third-party non-Wikimedia Foundation users with the help of an external contractor.

Test infrastructure: We provide a platform for thorough routine checks of code changes.[edit]

The team provides the infrastructure for testing MediaWiki changes and new features (used by the Quality Assurance team and others): Continuous integration (Jenkins), a testing platform to provide continuous quality control for MediaWiki, running new builds of MediaWiki through automated tests, and the Beta cluster (a functional, production-like environment in Wikimedia Labs suitable for final-stage testing of new features). The team also provides live test sites that run new code before it appears on the production sites ( and

Shell requests: We handle site configuration changes to support community requests.[edit]

The platform team is also responsible for handling several hundred[7] shell bugs per year. These are Bugzilla requests that require direct (shell) access to the servers, including community requests for configuration changes on a particular wiki (e.g. the enabling of a specific functionality or MediaWiki extension) or the creation of new wikis.

Search, authentication, etc.: We maintain and develop essential infrastructure parts for the entirety of our sites.[edit]

The team maintains and improves the search function on our sites, authentication (user login) for the tens of millions of accounts, and other infrastructure elements.

Multimedia: We provide a rich media experience and improve support for images, audio and video files to facilitate our readers' access to more free content.[edit]

The Multimedia team is responsible for features that provide a richer experience and support more media contributions on Wikipedia, Commons, and MediaWiki sites. This includes the handling of images, sound and video files, and the infrastructure to view, contribute, curate and use these files. The team believes that audio-visual media offer a unique opportunity to engage a wide range of users to participate productively in our collective work.

Here is a sense of what is being worked on: commons:Commons:Multimedia_Features/Vision_2016. The team continues to develop features to improve the viewing experience for readers, enable seamless contributions by our community, develop feedback and curation tools, and help editors add media files to articles. The team plans to upgrade current infrastructure to improve the upload pipeline, implement structured data, and better integrate multimedia across all Wikimedia projects.

As of January 2014, Multimedia's two main projects are the Media Viewer, an immersive multimedia browser; and the UploadWizard, an incremental upgrade and code refactoring of our contribution pipeline.

Quality Assurance: We carry out thorough routine checks of code changes to help ensure better rollouts for our community.[edit]

Using Wikimedia's test infrastructure, the QA team performs both manual and automated testing, and reports issues and defects that are found. The team creates and maintains browser tests—automated testing of MediaWiki within various web browsers, surfacing issues that would affect users who access the sites with that particular browser.

As of early 2014, there are about sixty to seventy browser tests in use overall at any given time, providing test coverage for specific products (VisualEditor, Flow, MobileFrontend, UniversalLanguageSelector, UploadWizard) and for MediaWiki core itself, plus some special tests for CirrusSearch and Wikidata. Each individual test exercises multiple assertions about each feature being tested, some just a few, others containing dozens of test steps. Each test is run in at least two different browsers, some in as many as eight, and each build for each feature for each browser runs automatically at least twice a day.

The team's automated browser tests exercise the master branch of code on the Beta Labs test environment and exercise the potential release branch of the code on the test2wiki test environment. This enables the exposure of issues that could affect users at the times where such issues are most visible and can most easily be addressed, before they reach the production wikis. The team reports about ten issues per month in Bugzilla, on average, as a result of the automated browser tests, representing all sorts of user-facing issues.

Engineering Community Team[edit]

Reporting and documentation: We make MediaWiki accessible to new developers, and inform Wikimedia’s volunteer community about software changes that affect their work.[edit]

The Engineering Community Team publishes the monthly Wikimedia Engineering reports, giving a comprehensive overview of ongoing work in the WMF Engineering department, and the weekly "Tech News", informing Wikimedia users and communities about software changes that affect them (which is translated by volunteers into around a dozen languages every week[8]). The team provides communications support for all groups in the WMF engineering department, e.g. when they announce new features on the Wikimedia tech blog (which published over 100 posts in 2013[9]). It also works on developing a clear documentation of MediaWiki and its extensions on, so that new staff, volunteer developers and external users have a smooth ramp-up process to becoming MediaWiki developers.

Outreach and development: We grow and nurture the MediaWiki developer community.[edit]

We participate in and organize events such as MediaWiki hackathons, mentorship programs including Google Summer of Code (GSoC), the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW), Facebook Open Academy, and the Google Code-in contest for teenage students, and help new volunteer developers find their way into MediaWiki development.

Collaboration tools: We support MediaWiki developers in working together efficiently.[edit]

The team facilitates collaboration on MediaWiki, e.g. by analyzing and designing workflows for our existing collaboration tools such as Gerrit (our platform for reviewing code changes), or exploring how we can choose the best possible tools. In particular, the team is responsible for Bug management, i.e. coordinating, triaging, and organizing the current bug reports on Bugzilla, Wikimedia's bug tracker.

Upstream collaboration: We contribute back to free software projects whose work we are building on.[edit]

We facilitate collaboration with free software projects that WMF uses in its own engineering work (such as OpenStack, Gerrit, HipHop, Cirrus search), e.g. by filing upstream bugs: error reports and feature requests that help them improve. We also work to facilitate reuse of our own software beyond MediaWiki releases (e.g. for Parsoid and VisualEditor).

Technical Operations[edit]

The Operations team is responsible for the technical infrastructure of Wikimedia sites: this includes the data centers, servers and network.

Connectivity: We bring the world's fifth most visited web property online.[edit]

The Operations team is tasked with connecting Wikimedia sites to the rest of the Internet. We work on planning and building Wikimedia's presence in new data centers, handling contracts with data center operators, negotiating preferred bandwidth rates and peering contracts with connectivity providers and networking infrastructure vendors.

Server infrastructure: We manage about 900 servers to support the Wikimedia sites.[edit]

As of early 2014, Wikimedia sites have been running on about 900 servers.[10] The Operations team continuously works on procuring servers, racking them (physically installing them in the data center), installing their software, replacing broken infrastructure parts, and maintaining the Puppet configuration system that enables us to handle these servers efficiently. We also build and maintain a monitoring infrastructure to help us spot and resolve problems early. In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Operations team achieved 99.98 percent up-time for our readers with a fraction of the staff of any other top web property (up-time for editors was 99.88 percent).[11]

Organizational support: We provide operations assistance to other teams at WMF.[edit]

Operations engineers work closely with nearly every other team at the WMF, assisting with the design and roll-out of things like fundraising technology, new encyclopedia features, and expansion to new reader platforms. In the RT system, where the Operations team tracks its day-to-day tasks (with participation by some volunteers), including external requests and server changes, 1967 tickets were resolved during 2013.[12]

Wikimedia Labs: We provide a space for experimentation and tool hosting to the community.[edit]

Wikimedia Labs helps volunteers get involved in Wikimedia operations and software development. In December 2013, the tools project in Labs hosted 531 tools managed by 435 users, ranging from simple database queries to elaborate editing adjuncts using the OAuth infrastructure.[13]

Data dumps: We make sure others can fully reuse the community's freely licensed work.[edit]

As stated in the Foundation's Guiding Principles, "we support the right of third parties to make and maintain licensing-compliant copies and forks of Wikimedia content and Wikimedia-developed code, regardless of motivation or purpose ... by making available copies of Wikimedia content in bulk, and avoiding critical dependencies on proprietary code or services for maintaining a largely functionally equivalent fork." The WMF publishes data dumps of Wikipedia and all Wikimedia projects on a regular basis. Dumps of the largest project are produced monthly and of other projects about twice a month. A set of dumps for all the projects is nearly 2 terabytes compressed.

Product: We represent the needs of our users, readers and contributors, in building features that make the Wikimedia sites better.[edit]

Our team of product managers oversees and coordinates the Foundation's major software initiatives to modernize and enrich Wikimedia sites. As of early 2014, these initiatives include: Flow, VisualEditor, Growth, Language Engineering, Mobile, Multimedia, and specific projects in Platform. Product managers work with engineers and designers to build the vision and overall strategy for new products; establish timelines, goals, and performance metrics; and lead the launches of new products within the Wikimedia community. They work with:

  • Software engineers and user experience designers on their respective product teams to design and build products;
  • Data analysts to help measure the usage and effectiveness of the features developed;
  • Other staff throughout the Foundation, including the Community Advocacy team to facilitate roll-out of new products in many diverse language communities, and with the Communications team to develop blog posts and other messaging; and
  • A wide array of experienced community members, engaging in discussions with the volunteer community to surface issues, get feedback, and inform product development

Features Engineering: We develop new features for our users.[edit]

The Features Engineering team is responsible for developing new features for MediaWiki.

Core Features: We build tools for editor engagement.[edit]

The Core Features team handles the software development of major products that improve the experience of editors across Wikipedia, such as the Flow discussion system, or Echo (Notifications). The work of Core Features helps retain contributors to Wikipedia by providing modern, friendly tools for collaborative work.

Growth: Attracting new contributors.[edit]

The purpose of the Growth team is to find ways to acquire, activate, and retain new Wikipedia editors. It focuses on implementing software improvments particularly for new or inexperienced contributors who have just joined Wikipedia. This includes an onboarding process for new Wikipedians, page drafts, interactive guided tours, account creation user experience improvements, post-edit confirmation messages, and editor campaigns support.

Upkeep: Making sure the software we write lives on and stays useful for our community.[edit]

Even while we're pushing forward with new things, everyone on the features team is sharing in the responsibility to make sure that all the existing features keep working. One example among many others is moving PDF rendering servers (that allow readers to do things like collecting Wikipedia articles into PDF "books" for offline reading) from the old data center in Tampa to the new one in Virginia, and upgrading the rendering software.

Thinking forward: We proactively work on improvements beyond our job description.[edit]

We all have pet projects that we know we want to get done. When the circumstances allow it, we'll work on these for the betterment of the site and our lives. As of early 2014, such projects include a new storage system (Rashomon, for improved performance and easier internal handling of all versions of a wiki page), a new HTML/RDF templating language, offline content rendering (mathoid), and online content playback of the free video formats used on Wikimedia sites even on devices that have so far not supported them (ojv.js).


The Wikimedia Mobile Engineering department is responsible for enabling, growing, and evolving the use of mobile technologies on Wikimedia projects. We do this through a diverse set of teams and projects focusing on mobile web, iOS and Android apps, and Wikipedia Zero.

Mobile Web: We empower readers and editors to access and develop our content on any Internet enabled device.[edit]

The mobile web team's mission is to create high-quality, intuitive features that empower a global community of readers and editors to access and develop the sum of all human knowledge on any Internet enabled device. The team focuses on:

  • Building a stable mobile technical infrastructure for use by all engineering teams at the WMF using MobileFrontend. MobileFrontend is the piece of MediaWiki that controls reflow of HTML & CSS to make our web pages mobile appropriate. It has been developed internally and is slowly becoming part of core MediaWiki.
  • Building out the mobile web experience for both handsets and tablets. The team has worked on bringing the reading and (since 2013) editing experience to handsets and is prepping for extending these to tablets in 2014.
  • Creating article editing, image uploading, and various other contribution flows for mobile users. Through projects like VisualEditor, Flow, mobile watchlists, Nearby, Notifications, etc., the team is building new functionality and gaining parity with the desktop version where appropriate.
  • Evolving our mobile API for third party consumers. Both the official Wikipedia App and numerous other third party apps consume this lightweight API.
  • Retooling legacy editing and contributory workflows to be simpler and easier for new users to understand. The team actively rethinks such areas to see how users can add additional content without having to worry about complicated legacy workflows and device limitations (example: Lead Photo Upload).
  • Evolving Wikipedia design to be responsive and mobile-first. Through features like Nearby, the mobile web team is scaling their designs not just for mobile but also larger screens.

Mobile Apps: We build custom mobile apps that enable our power users to both read and contribute content.[edit]

The mobile app team focuses on building custom Android and iOS applications. The team's work involves:

  • Building and maintaining native iOS and Android applications for Wikipedia and Commons, making sure they work on a wide variety of devices.
  • The evolution of internal APIs to support decoupled applications. For example, in 2013-14 the team added a new API to allow for account creation.
  • Working with designers and data analysts on the most thoroughly redesigned version of the collaborative user experience on Wikimedia sites. This includes research (e.g. user interviews or quantitative analysis of how app features are used), design mockups and beta tests of new features, and processing and implementing community feedback.
  • Close partnership with the Mobile Web team in the evolution of Mobile within the WMF, setting the direction for the future. The team strives to rethink how people interact with content through features like a revised table of contents, image upload, and text editing.

Partner Engineering: We work with our telecom partners to reach the next billion users.[edit]

The Partner Engineering team works closely with the Mobile Partnerships team to encourage mobile network operators in many countries to make Wikipedia available free of data charges (see also the next section). The team focuses on:

  • Evolution of the technical Wikipedia Zero product. The team manages the software that allows our partners to maintain IP ranges (addresses used by the partner's customers that allow our site to recognize them as Wikipedia Zero users), create custom messaging for their Wikipedia Zero users, and enable/disable the use of images to keep Wikipedia pages small.
  • Increasing the number of partners signed onto the program through automation and self-service portals.
  • Exploratory work with delivery of Wikipedia content on mobile devices without Internet support, through Wikipedia on SMS and USSD.
  • Support for legacy interfaces like J2ME for low-cost feature phones.
  • Close partnership with the Mobile Web and Ops teams in making the site perform optimally.
  • Coordination with telecom partners for technical implementations.

Wikipedia Zero: We develop a program that provides cellphone users in the Global South with free access to Wikipedia.[edit]

Since launching the Wikipedia Zero program in early 2012, the team has signed up six global mobile operator partners (Orange, Telenor, Saudi Telecom, Vimpelcom, Axiata and Airtel) plus three independent operators that give nearly 400 million of their subscribers throughout the Global South free access to knowledge on mobile devices. As of December 2013, services have been launched in 22 countries through 24 operators. Over the last year, readership through Wikipedia Zero has shown a steep increase. Page views through Wikipedia Zero totaled 2.7 million in November 2012 and increased to more than 41.3 million in December 2013 -- and continue to grow rapidly with new operator launches every month.

User Experience Design: We are responsible for the look and feel of Wikimedia projects.[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation User Experience Design group is responsible for the look and feel of our projects, from a functional level to the final, pixel-level, released design. The UX group works closely with existing Wikimedians as well as new users to socialize our designs and plans, and works with the Product Management group to establish product roadmaps. Since forming in 2013, the group supported design for 16 major projects as of early 2014, and many smaller features. Its work includes:

  • Triaging, creating, and collaborating with community members on Bugzilla design bugs;
  • Interacting with community developers through the public design mailing list;
  • Creating new channels for user feedback on new and existing projects; 
  • Weekly team design critiques of work-in-progress projects (covering about 5-10 projects per month as of early 2014);
  • Usability research with new and existing users;
  • Establishing guidelines for the use of typography, iconography, interaction patterns, component libraries, and voice and tone for the our sites' interface; 
  • Exploring long-term feature ideas through experimentation, research, and the Beta Features framework;
  • Interacting with community members to guide change management process of the interface to WMF projects; 
  • Informing product roadmaps through community engagement; and
  • Guiding and maintaining interaction and visual consistency across WMF projects.

Analytics: We inform decision making across the Foundation and the community.[edit]

The Analytics team empowers and supports data informed decision-making across the Foundation and the community. The team is composed of two groups: Development, and Research and Data.

Development: We build the analytics infrastructure and tools to better understand the movement's challenges.[edit]

The Development team builds the infrastructure, tools and datasets that enable the Foundation and the community to easily access, process and act on our data, in a way that is consistent with our values. It maintains the dozens of servers used to count page views and edits of the world's 5th most popular web site. Projects include the following:

  • Wikistats, which provides metrics and data visualizations for the 800+ projects across the Foundation;
  • Wikimetrics, which provides participation metrics for program leaders such as Wikimedia chapters;
  • Report Card, which sets out an easy-to-understand summary of the Foundation's key metrics;
  • Wikipedia Zero dashboards - which provides usage information for our partnerships with mobile carriers that deliver Wikipedia free of data charges in developing countries;
  • Limn - which is a general purpose dashboarding tool used across the Foundation; and
  • Logging Infrastructure - which is software to collect and aggregate readership and participation data.

Research and Data: We answer research questions relevant to the Wikimedia movement.[edit]

The Research and Data team has three main responsibilities:

  • to support the organization in making research-informed decisions;
  • to expand our understanding of the editor community and projects; and
  • to help teams evaluate the impact of new programs and features designed by the Wikimedia Foundation.

We use a variety of methods (including quantitative and qualitative strategies, exploratory analyses, controlled experimentation, and statistical modeling) to answer research questions relevant to the Wikimedia movement.

Language Engineering: We make Wikipedia and its sister projects the world's most multilingual collaborative website.[edit]

The Language Engineering team at the Wikimedia Foundation provides language software support for Wikipedia and other sister wikis. Language software comprises internationalization features as well as localization software for Wikipedia websites in hundreds of languages.

In 2013, the MediaWiki extensions that we maintain as a team saw 283 bugs filed, 609 closed and 432 fixed. In the same year, the number of non-bots git commits (for the UniversalLanguageSelector, Translate, TranslationNotification, TwnMainpage, Babel, LocalisationUpdate, and cldr extensions) was 1774, in addition to 525 commits on GitHub (for four internationalization libraries that we maintain for the widely used jQuery software, which are available for third-party jQuery reusers).

The day to day responsibilities of the WMF’s Language Engineering team are focused on the following areas:

Development of internationalization software features: We work to enable multilingual content contribution on all Wikimedia websites.[edit]

The team has developed, and maintains, internationalization software for all Wikimedia websites that delivers input tools which enable users to contribute in their own language even when their computer's keyboard does not provide full support​, and allows using webfonts to display content in languages for which there is no font installed on the user's computer. As of early 2014, there were 329 input methods available​ for 63 languages​, and 66 webfonts for 131 languages.

Our software enables users to set their language preferences for their user interface (including support for language-specific constructs regarding, for example, plurals, gender, grammar), and for the selection of webfonts and input methods to read and write in their preferred language. These preferences are available as part of the Universal Language Selector (ULS) extension for MediaWiki.

Development of localization software tools: We make it possible to provide Wikimedia sites to all users in their own language.[edit]

We provide localization software support that enables the community to translate all user interfaces and system messages for the more than 900 Wikimedia websites in 287 languages. This includes enhancements to our translation software (the Translate extension for MediaWiki) and to allied projects such as Besides helping Wikimedia project communities to be able to use the sites in their own language, the Translate extension is also increasingly used to facilitate communication across these language communities in our movement. As of early 2014, on Meta-Wiki alone, over 900 pages have been made available for translation thanks to this software feature. Examples include resolutions and election pages for the WMF board of trustees, documentation pages, posts for the Wikimedia blog, summaries of the WMF monthly reports and the weekly Tech newsletter.

Maintain internationalization and localization support: We ensure that language support is an integral part of MediaWiki development.[edit]

The team collaborates with other WMF engineering teams as well as many community members on full internationalization support for new and existing MediaWiki components, and on supporting constantly extending localization by integrating volunteer translations of interface messages.

Joining forces with others: We collaborate and innovate with other open source organizations to improve language software, fonts and input tools.[edit]

We collaborate closely with other top internationalization software contributor organizations to improve open source language tools, fonts, and input tools. Organizations that actively participate with us throughout the year and at our Language Summits and hackathons include Red Hat, Mozilla, Fedora, Debian, KDE, Google, Adobe, Microsoft Research and others. See e.g. [1]

Internationalization standards: We maintain compliance with and contribute to technical Web standards for language software.[edit]

We work to ensure MediaWiki and our sites are compliant with web internationalization standards including Unicode, CLDR, ECMA and W3C. We review proposed standards and participate in feedback processes for language standards for the Web.


The Grantmaking team (established in its current form in 2013-14) has a three-fold strategy: to build effective designs and processes for our different grants programs; to create a learning and evaluation framework for our movement, including a movement-wide platform for mentoring and sharing of good practice; and to deepen the diversity in our movement through supporting strategies in the Global South and challenging the gender gap. This is intended to establish a strong basis for a successful grantmaking process at the Foundation, ensuring that funds are disseminated in line with movement values and principles of participation and transparency, while seeking a much more definitive understanding of good outcomes and impact of these funds.

Grants: We support the growth of the global Wikimedia movement through grants and other resources.[edit]

As of 2013, WMF funds around 150 unique projects a year, supporting organizations and individuals in over 50 countries. We do this through four primary grants programs:

In addition, we oversee:

  • Wikimania Scholarships once per year ($150,000; recommended by the Wikimania Scholarships Committee); and
  • Partnership Grants, for strategic partnerships with non-Wikimedia organizations primarily in the Global South (approximately $618,000 in 2013-14 with two organizations in Brazil and India; see below).

Overall, per the 2013-14 annual plan we are responsible for distributing $8 million. We give grants to individuals (6% in 2012-13), to movement organizations (89%) and to other allied groups (5%).

We solicit grant proposals, facilitate the decision-making processes to decide the grants, carry out due diligence on potential grantees, support the implementation of grants through mentoring/coaching/advice when needed, and ensure ongoing compliance with grant agreements (e.g. reporting).

This whole process is carried out through an open, transparent grants system (all applications are posted on and through the counsel and recommendations of community-comprised committees. As of December 2013, over a thousand unique Meta-wiki users contributed to grants-related processes (by submitting requests, commenting, etc.): 1093 unique users contributed two edits or more, with 1719 making one edit or more. 67 community members were involved in these committees (9 in the FDC, 28 on the GAC, 17 on the IEG Committee, 3 on the TPS committee, and 9 on the Wikimania Scholarship committee), reportedly making the Wikimedia Foundation the largest peer-review funder of its kind in the world. These committees are intentionally designed to be geographically and gender diverse, and include community members involved in different Wikimedia projects.

We are carrying out an ongoing evaluation of our grantmaking processes, including tracking metrics via internal data and surveys, and surveying innovations by other global grantmakers (such as new ways of reporting, and tools for tracking grants).

Learning and Evaluation: We facilitate evaluation and knowledge-sharing across the Wikimedia movement.[edit]

The Learning & Evaluation team for Grantmaking is focused on answering two questions:

  • How can movement programs and movement partners be best poised to achieve impact?
  • What support can we provide the movement in order to achieve impact?

We are committed to enabling data-empowered, outcomes-driven work by program leaders across the movement, Wikimedia organizations, WMF grantees and our colleagues managing grants programs. We primarily support the increased effectiveness of programs and organizations across the movement through facilitating the culture and capacity for self-assessment and shared learning. In early 2014, the teams for Program Evaluation and Design (which had focused on programmatic effectiveness) and Grantmaking Learning and Evaluation (which had focused on organizational effectiveness and grants evaluation) came together in a restructuring of the Grantmaking department. We are currently exploring the most strategic and effective way of creating a combined Learning and Evaluation framework and structure that can support our worldwide community and our grants programs.

In 2013, we started the Wikimedia movement’s first initiative to systematically evaluate the effectiveness and impact of different programmatic activities across countries. Our vision is to empower a global community of program leaders to effectively run programs that have impact at scale. Detailed reports provide individual volunteers, staff members, and funders with information about which programs deliver against their goals and which have room for improvement. Based on the results of this and future analysis, the team:

  • provides skills development for people who develop and execute programs, including capacity building around evaluation;
  • identifies and removes roadblocks that keep program leaders from achieving the maximum amount of impact;
  • develops tools that improve people's ability to plan, execute, and evaluate programs;
  • builds community among program leaders so that people can share learnings with each other; and
  • works hand-in-hand with program leaders to create toolkits and templates that help others to replicate successes.

We also work on designing and tracking good measures for organizational trajectories of growth and effectiveness with our movement partners, based on research within the Wikimedia movement and external research. We work with other teams within WMF - most closely with the Analytics team - to design and build the most useful tools for our grantees to be able to evaluate and understand the impact of their work. Such tools include Wikimetrics, which as of December 2013 had 202 unique users; dashboards; survey software; and community mapping. We facilitate learning conversations as a community (e.g., the Evaluation portal - 112 unique contributors). We experiment with tools to facilitate reflection (e.g., Learning Patterns - 28 patterns created in the first two months) and innovation (e.g., IdeaLab - 113 unique contributors, 48 ideas). We also surface movement-wide trends as they emerge through the different grants streams. Upon request, we provide inputs into community conversations around organizational design and evaluation (e.g., IberoConf, Diversity Conference, Governance session).

For more information on the work being done, see the Evaluation Portal, Program Evaluation and Design and Learning & Evaluation pages.

Diversity: We seek strategic opportunities to deepen the diversity of the Wikimedia movement.[edit]

The Grantmaking team is committed to supporting growing diversity in the movement. We are taking the lead at WMF and in the broader movement on an extensive Global South strategy. We are proactively working with high potential Wikimedia communities in the Global South, through intentional collaboration and partnership building. We seek out movement partners in our top priority regions, working closely with these partners (as of early 2014, Centre for Internet and Society in India and Ação Educativa in Brazil).

We are also committed to facilitating a broader Gender Gap strategy, within the WMF and beyond, to work towards a free knowledge project with more equal gender representation. While the Foundation itself carries out only a few initiatives directly, the WMF grantmaking team does proactively fund projects working on redressing the gender gap, and has also been facilitating some initial Gender Gap strategy conversations in the movement (for example, staff conversations with experts, or supporting the 2013 Diversity Conference).

We are proactively measuring our investments in these areas by looking at:

  • the geographic distribution of our total grants;
  • the proportion of funds that goes to redressing the gender gap; and
  • the number of participants in the Global South as a proportion of our total editing base.

Most significantly, in early 2014, the Wikipedia Education Program joined the Grantmaking team. This is one of the most successful initiatives to improve Wikipedia's article quality by teaching and encouraging new contributors to add content to the encyclopedia, and it is a critical entry-point to building diversity in the movement. In the U.S. and Canada alone, students have added the equivalent of more than 12,500 printed pages to the English Wikipedia in 2013. In the Arab World, 87 percent of the participants in the Education Program are women. As of December 2013, more than 60 countries have established education programs, and efforts are underway to create programs in an additional 40 countries.

The Foundation's Wikipedia Education Program team has helped to launch, support, or develop these volunteer activities in numerous ways: planning and research including a needs analysis and the identification of global trends; developing concepts and workflows; conducting outreach efforts; connecting Wikimedians and academics by facilitating the communication between these two communities; providing continuity; and working directly with program leaders. The team has also created support resources like brochures, online trainings, and a MediaWiki extension that can be localized and translated to help program leaders successfully execute education programs in countries around the world.


The Wikimedia Foundation Fundraising team cultivates the resources that propel our movement. Every year, we engage over 2 million people from around the world to support Wikipedia and its sister projects. In FY 2012-13, we raised altogether $48 million dollars for the movement, exceeding our annual fundraising goal.

Online Fundraising: We orchestrate global online fundraising campaigns to support our mission[edit]

The online fundraising team runs banner campaigns on WMF sites globally. We search for and craft the most compelling banner messages. This involves researching the facts most suitable to illustrate the uniqueness of our organization and movement, interviewing numerous voices from our community, and designing banners and donation pages. To that end, we use extensive A/B testing[14], running and analyzing hundreds of tests each year. We support the work of two chapters who fundraise on WMF sites, sometimes designing banners for them, and providing expert advice. In addition, we carry out lots of technical work on CentralNotice, the MediaWiki extension for displaying those banners.

In the first half of the fiscal year, we focus our efforts on English speaking countries. In the second half of the fiscal year, we run our multilingual campaigns. This involves both translating messages and tailoring them to make them relevant and effective within different cultural contexts. Our global team works in concert with volunteers to complete this work. In FY 2012-13, we organized more than 1,000 volunteers to assist with translating fundraising messages into more than 100 languages. Lastly, we resolicit past online donors through email campaigns.

Major Gifts and Foundations: We raise funds from large donors and grant making organizations to support our mission[edit]

We are responsible for raising funds from large donors and grantmaking foundations. In FY 2012-13, our team raised $8.5 million to support the global Wikipedia movement. We make presentations to large donors and write grant applications and reports. We describe the story of the movement and the Foundation's own work in a compelling, accessible way and detail the work that was done with the funds entrusted to us. Additionally, the Foundations and Major Gifts Team organizes fundraising events and manages our matching gifts program. We also organize our "offline" donors, who give via check, sending direct resolicitation mail to these donors once per year. We also manage in-kind donations, donations of stock, and legacy gifts, where donors include the Wikimedia Foundation in their wills.

Fundraising Operations: We provide global payment options and customer service to our donors and managing data[edit]

In FY 2012-13, we enabled more than 2 million donations in 82 currencies using 17 payment methods. This team negotiates the best rates with payment processing providers throughout the world. We also work on fraud prevention and issue refunds when fraud occurs. We also provide a contact point for questions, compliments, and complaints by donors. In December 2013 for example, we responded to over 15,000 emails from our donors. This team also maintains our fundraising database and insures that our donors receive timely acknowledgement and thanks. We also research and advise on new potential revenue streams, including a possible endowment strategy.

Merchandise shop: We enable our readers and editors to show their support for the movement in real life[edit]

The Wikimedia shop is the online store which offers affordable high quality merchandise to the project volunteers and the general public to reward contributors and spread the Wikimedia and project brands around the world. Our team manages the online store, including marketing, product development and order fulfillment and shipping.

Legal and Community Advocacy[edit]


The legal department of the Wikimedia Foundation provides counsel for our global Wikimedia websites and projects, and provides legal expertise in community support (which may include assistance in the protection and defense of the community and its values), copyright law, political advocacy, freedom of speech, privacy law, policy development, trademark and brand protection, open source and free licensing, contract law, and governance counsel for the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The Legal Department's mandate:

We aggressively steward globally the values of our mission and our community of writers, editors, photographers, and other contributors by building and overseeing good governance where appropriate; by protecting and defending those key values when challenged; and by facilitating initiatives designed to support and grow our community and their various projects, including Wikipedia and its sister Wikimedia websites.

Protection, defense, and litigation: We fight aggressively to protect our movement values.[edit]

The legal team pushes back successfully against unreasonable demands by governments and private parties (roughly 150 such demands in FY 2012-13) to alter or censor truthful and legal content, sometimes with public consequences to those who choose not to play fair.[15] In all 150 cases handled in FY 2012-2013, we succeeded in pushing back against informal demands to remove or alter Wikimedia content.

We also successfully defend against illegitimate copyright takedown demands -- most of which never evolve into formal DMCA takedown notices. In FY 2012-13, WMF was required to remove content due to receipt of 15 legally-valid DMCA takedown notices. However, in the same FY, the legal team successfully fought against compliance in 16 cases where we did not believe that the DMCA takedown notice was legally valid.[16]

The legal team works to resist the unreasonable scope of government subpoenas requesting information, and provides guidance and counsel for targeted users on how to quash subpoenas or push back on unreasonable government demands for information. In FY 2012-13, the legal team successfully fought back against all of the 15 informal requests for user data from private parties and 6 government requests for user data that it received.[16]

At times, when others transgress our values of free speech and license, we need to resort to litigation, where we typically have 5-10 significant cases pending worldwide, and are successful in the vast majority of them.[17] The legal team oversees all global litigation for the Wikimedia Foundation with a global network of outside counsel who are considered to be leading in their field, and in appropriate cases, we help fund legal defense for our community members when they are threatened.[18][19]

Community support: We provide daily support to our community and its work.[edit]

Every day, the legal team reviews referrals from community members. In 2013, we received about 85 questions through the Open-source Ticket Request System (OTRS), the system that our volunteers use to handle most emails from our readers and public.

We are often contacted by organizations in our movement, such as chapters or community governance groups, to explain best practices and provide other support as appropriate.

We host a forum on Meta-wiki, called Wikilegal, where one can find preliminary background research on numerous, and often sophisticated, legal topics, and where the community may engage in discussions on such issues.

Political advocacy: We ensure our views are known to politicians who threaten our values.[edit]

As a legal department, we oversee the Foundation's engagement on policy issues. The department helped respond cross-functionally to the community request for a 2012 blackout to protest the poorly-conceived Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).

We participate in the advocacy advisors list, following or providing input on governmental initiatives worldwide, or initiating discussions about them. We oversee the implementation of the Policy and Political Association Guideline on a variety of political or policy initiatives, such as our responses to the 2013 surveillance disclosures. We are also members of the Digital Due Process Coalition. Our team members have experience doing policy work at the EFF and various advocacy groups.

We ensure that our activities are consistent with laws limiting the role of U.S. nonprofit companies in politics and policy.

Privacy: We help build privacy protocols to protect the rights of our community.[edit]

Privacy is a core value for our movement. We advise daily on privacy issues and help identify and maintain protocols to assist in the proper governance of user and donor data. In 2014, we plan to launch our new privacy policy, developed together with the technology department and in consultation with the community, alongside other related policies,[20] that minimize the collection of data and ensure transparency of its use.

One of our team members researches digital privacy issues as a Junior Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Center for Internet & Society. She frequently publishes and presents on privacy and Internet law issues. Her privacy work has been selected as one of the top policy papers in 2013 to be distributed to members of the U.S. Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communication Commission.

Policies: We steward policies to support good practices with active and unprecedented community collaboration.[edit]

In 2011, we spearheaded a 3 ½ month collaboration with the community on the drafting and approval of our terms of use - generating a discussion with over 4500 lines of text that resolved more than 120 issues.[21] We have since carried out other types of collaboration with respect to many other policies and guidelines.[22] As mentioned above, in 2013-14 we sought and received strong and extended community involvement in the drafting of a new privacy policy and related documents, with discussions that lasted almost eight months and reached approximately 195,000 words.[23][24] Also in 2013-14, we conducted a seven-month long consultation with our community to develop a new trademark policy, which received almost 550 comments and saw over 340 changes to the policy draft. The resulting new policy, approved by the Board in February 2014, is unconventional in how it provides expansive use of the Wikimedia marks while maintaining legal protection.[25][26]

Trademarks: We build and defend our trademark portfolio to promote and protect the brand that our community built.[edit]

Our trademarks identify the Wikimedia projects and the work of our community. Protecting these trademarks is a core reason for the creation of the Foundation. We have built and now maintain a global trademark portfolio for our large repertoire of marks and continue to register new brands, such as Wikidata and Wikivoyage.

With inquiries ranging from movie studios to community meetups, we were averaging (as of 2012) about 200+ requests to use our trademark each year, many of which require written legal trademark licenses.[27] We expect that number to decrease with our new, more open trademark policy introduced in 2014, which allows greater community use of our marks when supporting the Wikimedia mission.

We aggressively retrieve our domain names from cybersquatters through proactive measures, including lawsuits, arbitration, and other mechanisms.[28] With the support of MarkMonitor, we survey the web for infringing domain names and misuse of Wikimedia marks while writing cease-and-desist letters, resulting in the takedown of infringing domains and uses.

Open source and free licences: We advocate for the open source and free license community.[edit]

When appropriate, we work closely with Creative Commons on legal issues involving free licenses that arise in our community. We publish in support of open source and free licensing, and retain close ties to like-minded organizations.[29] The team is writing about solutions to reconcile the tension between trademark law and the values of collaborative communities -- work that they presented at the 2014 Works-In-Progress Intellectual Property conference.

Members of the legal team serve in leadership roles outside of WMF related to the promotion of open source software and licenses. As of 2014, our Deputy General Counsel serves as a director to the Open Source Initiative, chairs that group’s license review committee, and also serves on the Open Definition’s Advisory Council.

Fundraising: We support our global fundraising strategy to ensure revenue for the Wikimedia mission.[edit]

We provide daily advice on our fundraising activities, such as approval of banner and fundraising text. We research and ensure compliance with 30+ global fundraising laws as well as maintain our charity registrations in 40+ states and elsewhere. We also drafted and negotiated revised fundraising agreements with chapter organizations and have overseen those agreements since their signing.

Contracts: We negotiate and approve hundreds of contracts every year that promote our mission.[edit]

We negotiate, review, and approve more than 260 contracts per year as of 2013 (while seeing a significant increase in numbers year over year).

Received almost daily from all departments, these agreements vary vastly in complexity. They can relate, for example, to technology and data centers, events, maintenance, global mobile projects, fundraising, leases, service needs, international consultants, and surveys.

Our work is often seen internationally through Wikipedia Zero partnerships, where we play a critical role in finalizing complex agreements that allow for distribution of Wikipedia content to parts of the world that otherwise would not have access.

Daily legal guidance: We provide ongoing advice to ensure the legality of our operations.[edit]

The legal department is called upon daily to provide legal advice worldwide on the many projects and issues tackled by the Wikimedia Foundation, including, for example, editor retention initiatives, creation of new sites like Wikidata and Wikivoyage, intellectual property questions (moral rights, copyright, personality rights, DMCA takedown notices), technology law issues, and internal policies. With three members of our legal team having programming experience themselves, we also regularly provide advice on technical issues, including open source licensing, user interface design questions, mobile device regulations, patents, and a wide variety of other ways in which software code can interact with legal code.

Governance: We build governance models to ensure community and donor trust.[edit]

Our movement includes a network of organizations (including the Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups) that requires the building of solid governance models. Movement governance is about valuing those who support our mission. Without good governance, donor dollars are wasted, misspent, or simply stolen, and the community’s work is squandered. The legal department is vigilant, along with these other organizations, in ensuring that our governance values and standards are upheld.[30]

We engage with the community to draft, review, and set best governance standards, such as our Guidelines on dealing with potential conflicts of interest. We oversee the conflict of interest processes and protocols for senior WMF staff and the Board. When circumstances require it, we will work globally with ethics consultants and manage ethics inquiries.

WMF Board of Trustees: We support our Board in their strategic decision-making and leadership.[edit]

Our General Counsel serves as the Secretary of the WMF Board of Trustees, supporting the Board’s operations.

We ensure that Board processes are consistent with non-profit corporate law. In 2013, we helped the Board draft a new handbook, totaling about 50 pages, which the Board published as a guide for its operations and as a publicly-accessible best practice for the community.[31]

We help draft resolutions to ensure proper governance.[32] We attend Board meetings, provide training on fiduciary duties (i.e. responsibilities of trustees), help prepare agendas, and draft minutes for the Board’s approval. We also help propose updates to the bylaws to reflect legal requirements and best practices.

Movement roles: We help support movement roles and its mission.[edit]

We draft and negotiate agreements for recognized chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups. We advise on movement organization issues, such as their use of Wikimedia trademarks. We assist in reviewing and updating the charters of the Affiliations Committee and the Funds Dissemination Committee, and often advise on procedural issues. We have developed best-in-class agreements to manage the various types of grants falling under the Funds Dissemination Committee (Annual Plan Grants) and the WMF Project & Event Grants Program.

Our home team: We support our WMF employees and contractors to help create a great workplace.[edit]

In close coordination with our Human Resources department, we assist with employee and contractor agreements. For example, we review employee guidelines, write or review work policies, and help protect our people against outside harassment.

Community Advocacy[edit]

Community Advocacy serves the Wikimedia Foundation and our community of readers, writers, editors, photographers, and other contributors by providing support on Foundation initiatives with a focus on community consultations, governance, and training. We do this by ensuring proper communication with multilingual communities and Wikimedian leaders, building feedback mechanisms to hear the community voice on these projects, and ensuring constructive and supportive dialogues with our various communities in different geographies.

Change management: We support communities in the rollout of major site changes.[edit]

We support the rollouts of major Foundation initiatives - such as software changes or site policy updates - by ensuring proper communication with multilingual communities and leading Wikimedians, building feedback mechanisms to hear the community voice on these projects, and ensuring constructive and supportive dialogues with our various communities in different geographies, speaking different languages. In 2013, several major projects were supported, among them the VisualEditor beta launch, an overall of our OTRS email system, a renewal of our privacy policy (with nearly 174,000 words of community discussion), and an update of our trademark policy (52,036 words).

Direct community support: We step in to facilitate interactions among volunteers, WMF and the public.[edit]

The Community Advocacy team supports volunteers in our community in the day-to-day governance of the Wikimedia sites through approximately 15 workflows:

  • OTRS support. Community Advocacy (CA) provides significant support to the OTRS volunteer response team, which handles more than 48,000 substantive emails from the public yearly (as per 2013). The team takes responsibility for approximately 10 inquiries or escalations a week (which can take between 20 minutes and 20 hours to resolve). Examples include requests to respond to users unsatisfied with the past responses or requests to address genuine problems that OTRS is not equipped to handle. They also provide an entry point for OTRS volunteers who wish to access WMF staff in the performance on their tasks.
  • Child pornography reports. When reported to the WMF, and pursuant to our internal written procedures, the CA team manages child pornography reports and follows up with law enforcement. With close cooperation from the Legal team, the CA team works within a defined set of steps to determine whether images should be reported to the US National Center for Missing/Exploited Children (as is often required by law) and uses our internally built tool to manage that report. In 2013, CA determined that 14 alerts required reporting to the National Center for Missing/Exploited Children.
  • Emergency@Wikimedia. CA provides support to the community in the surprisingly frequent event that a user threatens online to harm themselves or someone else. Between July 2013 and March 2014, the team evaluated and reported 19 reports to law enforcement as potentially viable. CA supports an infrastructure for handling international threats in multiple languages.
  • DMCA takedown and notification requirements. For the last three years, the team has worked in close cooperation with the Legal team to process and remove content that was added to our sites in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Despite millions of contributions to our projects, we have been forced to comply with takedown orders only about 15 times a year. When Legal is not able to fight credibly a takedown notice, CA steps in to execute that takedown quickly while protecting the rights of those involved. They notify the contributor and the community, delete the file, file a report with the Chilling Effects database, and serve as a contact for the community. In FY13-14, the team developed a specialized tool, cutting the processing time for each takedown by about 75%.
  • Supporting Jimmy. The CA team responds to 35+ requests from Jimmy Wales a year (as of early 2014) to put people in contact with appropriate Foundation staff members, to respond to particular community members, and to generally provide requested advice and feedback.
  • Supporting the Executive Director. When the ED is contacted by a member of the public with a concern about an article, an editor, or a policy, she often forwards that correspondence to CA for action. CA either responds to it, or has a volunteer do so. CA will track and follow-up as appropriate. As of early 2014, CA received about 35+ such correspondences a year.
  • Liaison to the Election Committee. The CA team serves as the WMF contact and support to the Election Committee, which manages the bi-annual elections to the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Funds Dissemination Committee. CA ensures that the systems are in place (both socially and technically) to support the committee in this work, and take a leading role in crafting the election and ensuring turnout.
  • Liaison to the arbitration committees. CA serves as the liaison to the arbitration committees on the Wikimedia projects. These are community-elected committees that frequently serve as the final appeal on user conduct or project content. CA's greatest interactions are with the ArbCom for the English Wikipedia, which probably averages two hours per week (and sometimes much more).
  • Liaison to the stewards, checkusers, oversighters and other global functionaries. Various community groups serve different roles in project governance: CA's job is to liaise with them and act as the staff voice to ensure they are properly supported. Such assistance, for example, may consist of advocacy for a new technical tool or staff resources to address a legal challenge. In this way, the team serves to support the (i) stewards - i.e. cross-wiki, globally elected trusted members of the volunteer community who oversee the wikis; (ii) the checkusers - i.e. trusted users with access to a specialized tool for identifying IP addresses behind a username to help combat abuse; (iii) oversighters - i.e. users with the ability to remove content from the view of the public and administrators; and (iv) other global functionaries.
  • Staff sponsor for Ombudsman Commission. CA acts as the staff sponsor and liaison for the Ombudsman Commission, a role delegated by the Board to oversee privacy issues. The team runs an annual Ombudsman selection process, calling for candidates from the community and evaluating them. The selected ones serve on a committee that represents the diversity of the movement, as in gender, geographic location, and language. The team serves as a first point of entry for the Commission when they need to speak with staff members in the course of their work as guardians of the privacy policy's implementation.
  • Answers@Wikimedia. CA manages the mailbox, which is an entry point for users and the general public with questions for the WMF. Some frequently asked questions are archived to our website for future use. The team handled about 1400 emails in 2013 with about 850 requiring responses.
  • Responding to the postal mail. CA evaluates and responds to or redirects postal mail sent to the Wikimedia Foundation by readers, community members, and others. Working jointly with legal or other teams, CA evaluates what, if any, response is required and coordinates that response. This process happens for about 150 pieces of mail per year.
  • Advanced privileges and user rights: The CA team manages requests for advanced user rights required for a staff member's work. This includes working with the staff member and their supervisors to find the right level of access and liaising with the stewards in our community to assign those rights. CA also works with the community to answer questions about a staff member's use of their account or to remove unneeded rights when, for example, an employee leaves the Wikimedia Foundation. They also randomly audit the use of these rights. This amounts to around 35 requests a year as of early 2014.
  • Mailing list product ownership. CA acts as the non-technical product owner of the mailing list system. This includes overseeing the creation of lists by authorized community members (and helping as needed) and responding to any request requiring use of the master password. As of early 2014, there are about 50 requests per year in relation to this workflow.
  • Onboarding new staff. CA has experimented through the years with multiple methods for onboarding staff and introducing them to the Wikimedia community. As of early 2014, this onboarding is primarily done through video presentations and occasional one-to-one training sessions.
  • Search warrant and subpoena compliance. Our Legal team aggressively defends against search warrants and subpoenas requesting information about our users. However, when a credible challenge is not possible under the law, CA assists in responding to these warrants and subpoenas. Under the direction of the legal team, they seek to notify the subject of the warrant or subpoena when possible, provide guidance when appropriate to challenge the order, gather technical information from the projects while using specialized tools, log the release of this information and assure that evidence is preserved as appropriate.
  • Contact management database. CA uses the open-source product SugarCRM as a case management tool for our team and Legal (as well as others). They conduct user audits, and assure that technically-privileged information remains separated and accessible only by those who should have access. As of early 2014, the system houses almost 8000 contacts and several thousand case histories.
  • Internal-l mailing list and Internal-wiki. Internal-l is a list used to communicate with key volunteers in chapters. Historically, it occupied a larger role in governance than it does today. CA assists with the moderation of this list, including adding and subtracting members as each chapter updates their governing board. There are approximately 75 requests per year related to these lists.

International community advocacy: We help bridge the language gap to non-English speaking communities.[edit]

The Community Advocacy team is tackling the language barrier that exists between WMF and non-English speaking project communities, with a small, multilingual team of international community advocates. We build and maintain contact with leading Wikimedians around the globe to better understand the perspectives of their communities, and to get their advice on WMF initiatives as they develop. For example, in 2013 our first international advocate was hired in Germany, who has also developed broad contacts with the Spanish language wikis and chapters, including with Iberocoop. As of early 2014, we also maintain close relationships with the Portuguese and Indic language encyclopedias. Nearly 200 new contacts were added to our contact management system in support of this initiative through 2013.


The Communications teams leads the Foundation's efforts to openly and effectively share information - about the movement, the Wikimedia projects and the Foundation's work itself - with a global audience of volunteers, readers, users and other stakeholders.

Answering media requests: We support the credibility of our community and projects by fielding the questions of international journalists.[edit]

As the operator of the world's fifth most visited website, supporting a collaborative project that is unique in history and continues to amaze and puzzle the public, the Foundation receives a great deal of media requests (handling more than 350 direct media contacts in 2013). Communications works to increase the credibility of our projects by collaborating with a global network of reporters on stories in the world's most-respected media outlets. We anticipate complex public and media relations issues within the Wikimedia movement, and support WMF spokespeople and our global network of communicators in terms of messages and communications strategy.

Proactive media outreach: We bring the Wikimedia story to journalists.[edit]

We work closely with every part of the Foundation to develop communications plans, products, messages and briefs to launch new products; to channel other news and changes to the public; and to support a thriving global conversation about the Wikimedia movement. We extend our services and support to volunteers and organizations in our movement to promote and communicate around new initiatives. Besides promoting major news in the form of press releases (18 in 2013) that are sent out to a subscriber base of more than 2,000 journalists, we also ran 11 major targeted media outreach efforts in 2013. Sometimes this involved very targeted outreach (e.g. on the topic of black hat editing in 2013), at times more large-scale outreach to our 2000+ email list around topics of general interest (e.g. Wiki Loves Monuments) and in some cases doing outreach to trade press (e.g. profiles of our leadership team). In 2013, more than 370 calls were placed in the course of the 11 pro-active outreach efforts.

Wikimedia blog: We operate the largest hub for news from the Wikimedia movement.[edit]

We run, which has evolved into a hub communicating the stories and narratives of the wider Wikimedia movement, beyond the activities of the WMF, to thousands of readers. Besides news from the Foundation, we are regularly publishing updates from volunteer Wikimedians and Wikimedia chapters, as well as profiles of Wikimedia project contributors, Wikimedia Commons photographers, MediaWiki developers and more. In 2013, the WMF blog team wrote or edited around 400 blog posts, about a quarter of them multilingual. Most posts are prepared in a transparent, public editorial process on Meta-wiki.

Social media: We make the Wikimedia voice heard by millions of followers on social media sites.[edit]

We operate the official accounts for Wikimedia and Wikipedia on social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. With more than a million followers combined, these social media sites have become essential for promoting news and activities from the Wikimedia Foundation and the wider movement. For example, during January 2014, the social media team posted 89 tweets or retweets on the @wikipedia Twitter feed. These are drafted and reviewed in an open, transparent process (carried out on a public mailing list and a Meta-wiki page) that invites community participation.

Monthly and annual reporting: We keep WMF transparent and accountable by publishing regular, comprehensive updates on our work.[edit]

We edit and publish the monthly Wikimedia Foundation reports, which are a basic instrument of transparency and accountability for the Foundation. Together with the monthly engineering reports, they enable our community and the public to stay up to date on the ongoing work of the Foundation's 200 or so employees and contractors, and provide updates on core financial data and usage stats. We provide a separate version optimized for translation, the Wikimedia Highlights, which combine an excerpt from the Foundation's report with news from the entire movement. Volunteers translate or partially translate it into more than 10 languages each month (often, it is the only source of news about WMF and the global movement for a particular language community in their own language). We also prepare the Foundation's annual reports, which tell the story of each past year to the public, in particular our supporters.

Communications design: We create and sustain open and collaborative visual identity and design solutions for the movement.[edit]

Communication design provides design development to any Foundation department outside of Tech to assist with building, explaining and evaluating projects, organizing online information, creating assets, holding brand identity, and developing and supporting discussions and relationships in the community surrounding projects and Wikimedia design issues. Responsibilities include:

  • Research, design, building, and upkeep of on-wiki department projects on wiki, including community involvement (roughly 15-20 projects per year, with continuous upkeep)
  • Posters, postcards, other print-ready materials for any department (roughly 10-15 per year)
  • Presentation assistance, slides and other media
  • Special design projects that include sourcing vendors and asset creation (roughly 15-20 per year)
  • Holding (with Legal) trademark and brand identity

Human Resources[edit]

The Human Resources department develops organizational culture and leadership, and is responsible for personnel administration, in service of the ongoing maturation of the Wikimedia Foundation. Foundation employees and contractors experience being supported in doing mission-critical work within a healthy work environment. Our focus areas include employee and contractor relations, organizational and employee development, compensation and benefits, payroll, recruiting, and compliance.

Infrastructure: We manage human resource processes that allow our employees to support our community and the Wikimedia projects.[edit]

We oversee typical HR procedures that range from hiring practices, the processing of vacation and sick time requests and exemptions, immigration needs, the hiring of domestic and internal contractors, changes in titles and reporting relationships, and the administration of payroll and benefits plans.

  • Payroll: Making sure US employees are paid accurately twice a month, including all payments, deductions, and taxes according to regulations of various US states. On average, we make 260 payments per month.
  • Contractor payment processing: Making sure project work and international staff get paid timely & accurately (on the average 324 payments per month via oDesk as of December 2013).
  • Benefits administration: We choose the benefits providers and maintain the plans that offer Foundation staff the best comprehensive personal care we can get for themselves and their families. As of early 2014, we administer 12 different insurance policies, 4 pre-tax benefits plans, 3 health/wellness programs, and 10+ time-off programs.
  • Performance evaluation: We design and manage the staff performance evaluation protocol and structure.
  • Immigration: We support bringing in employees who come from other countries to live and work in the United States. As of early 2014, we maintain 21 H-1B visas, 4 TN statuses and one J-1 visa, and support 14 ongoing green card applications.
  • Compensation: We determine the overall Foundation salary structure and benchmark with external entities.
  • Policies: We design HR policies and practices.
  • Organizational structure: We are the stewards of the structuring of the Foundation's workforce into departments, teams and reporting lines.

Recruiting: We find and hire new staff and contractors who will support well our community and Wikimedia projects.[edit]

We handle the nuts and bolts of recruiting - from job publication, to sourcing, to managing candidates through each step of the candidate pipeline.

  • Job publication: We make sure that talented people know when we have open positions through posting jobs in high-traffic places, using social media, and attending and organizing recruiting events.
  • Sourcing: Our recruiters actively source candidates from other organizations who may be great fits for roles that we need.
  • Candidate handling: We work to create a responsive recruiting experience for prospective employees. On the average, each month we have around 10 active requisition numbers for new employees. To fill these, each month on average, we are screening around 750 resumes and scheduling around 130 candidate interviews, resulting in around 5 new hires each month, for which we provide onboarding and setup. Conversely, we ensure graceful and secure departures of employees who leave WMF (for the first seven months of the 2013/14 fiscal year, the turnover rate was 9.8%, which is well within the usual rates for our area).
  • Contractor management: We partner with the rest of the organization to bring onboard people with specialized skills for specific projects. On the average, we support the hiring of about 8 new contractors or temporary employees each month, and the renewal of more than 15 such contracts. As of February 2014, there were 102 contractors, 52 of them based outside of the US, in 23 different countries.

Leadership & culture: We develop leaders capable of handling the complexity of our operating environment, and maintain an organization in which people thrive.[edit]

  • Training: We increase the level of skills and capabilities of staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, and also ensure completion of government-required trainings (like sexual harassment prevention).
  • Onboarding and offboarding: We manage the Foundation’s onboarding program for new employees, and also support organizational transition out of the Foundation, including exit interviews.
  • Leadership development: We run the WikiLead program (for directors and other WMF management) and other initiatives, such as a coaching program and retreats of the Wikimedia Foundation Board as well as the C-level executive team to support the development of leadership in an incredibly complex environment.
  • Issues management: We deal with crucial personnel issues, especially where challenging interpersonal dynamics happen at the team level in the organization.
  • Events: We host events that bring people throughout the Wikimedia Foundation together. These events include the annual 2-day AllHands meeting, the annual holiday party, and various forms of informal group support. For example, we support the “incubator group” - employees who want to make the workplace better - and the “aliens group” - US-based employees who are foreign nationals.
  • Internal change management: We support key organizational shifts, such as departmental restructurings, leadership transitions, and changes in strategy that significantly impact staff.

Finance and Administration: We are responsible for the Foundation's money, and provide the infrastructure for staff work.[edit]

The Finance and Administration department is responsible both for the timely and professional overview of all financial processing as well as for the physical space and technological/infrastructure needs of Foundation staff.

Core financial responsibilities: We process financial transactions, and report them, to ensure transparency with our community.[edit]

The core responsibility of the Finance team is to accurately and timely process the Foundation's financial transactions, and financial reporting, which is essential for the organization's strategic decision making. The top outcome is the successful completion of the annual audit (where the team supports the Board's Audit Committee) and the publication of the Foundation's 990 form, as required by law. The team also coordinates the work on the Foundation’s Annual Plan. Financial processing involves settling accounts with hundreds of the Wikimedia Foundation’s service providers and contractors. In the 12-month period from December 2012 to November 2013, approximately 2,500 payments were processed for accounts payable and grants. On the income side, millions of small transfers from every part of the world were processed as part of the Foundation’s continuous fundraising activity (in cooperation with the Fundraising department).

Supplemental financial services: We handle the Foundation's financial strategies, and provide financial expertise for our grantmaking activities.[edit]

Finance is also responsible for managing the Foundation's cash balance of approximately $55.34 million as of December 31, 2013. We research and choose investment strategies, and undertake risk management strategies (like developing our insurance portfolio) to protect the Wikimedia Foundation, its Board members, its employees, and its assets, including the web sites. Finance supports the Foundation's grantmaking work, for example, ensuring compliance with US federal, state and international law. Finance carries out site visits to grantee organizations, conducts detailed financial reviews, like those for FDC applications, and provides expert advice to the Grantmaking staff.

Office IT and Administration: We provide the physical and IT infrastructure that our staff needs to serve our community and the Wikimedia sites.[edit]

The Office IT team handles the IT infrastructure in the San Francisco office (such as desk PCs, internal servers, networking infrastructure, videoconferencing equipment). The Administration team provides the support staff for each team as well as physical infrastructure that the rest of the organization needs for their work, such as planning and managing the office space. We provide travel support to employees, Board members, and others working for WMF: in 2013, we issued 815 flight tickets and booked 1931 hotel nights.


  1. ,
  3. RT# 6701 Bugzilla data on WMF staff activity in 2013 (login required)
  6. MediaWiki 1.21-wmf7−12, 1.22-wmf1−22 and 1.23-wmf1−8.
  7. This number is tracked in the monthly engineering reports
  10. Number of hosts reported by the Ganglia monitoring tool. The actual number is slightly higher as this doesn't include offline and spare servers.
  11. Wikimedia Foundation 2011/12 Annual Report
  12. RT stats: ResolvedAnnually (login required)
  15. See e.g.: Kim Willsher, French secret service accused of censorship over Wikipedia page, The Guardian, 7 Apr 2013, (see also Statement from Michelle Paulson); Adi Kamdar, CDA 230 Success Cases: Wikipedia, Deeplinks Blog (Electronic Frontier Foundation, ed.), July 26, 2013,
  16. a b Wikimedia Foundation Transparency Report for FY 2012-13 (draft, to be released in 2014)
  17. Examples of successful litigation include cases in Germany, Italy, and the U.S. See Michelle Paulson, Two German courts rule in favor of free knowledge movement, Wikimedia blog, December 4, 2012; Michelle Paulson, In a legal victory for Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation wins lawsuit brought by former Berlusconi advisor, Wikimedia blog, June 26, 2013; Geoff Brigham, A victory for Wikivoyage and free knowledge, Wikimedia blog, February 15, 2013.
  18. Defense of Contributors Policy and Legal Fees Assistance Program; see Geoff Brigham, The Wikimedia Foundation Legal Fees Assistance Program, Wikimedia blog, August 31, 2012.
  19. Michelle Paulson, Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia user subject to defamation lawsuit in Greece, Wikimedia blog, February 14, 2014
  20. Privacy Policy, Access to Nonpublic Information Policy, Requests for User Information Procedures and Guidelines, Data Retention Guidelines, and a Transparency Report.
  21. Geoff Brigham: Terms of use, Wikimedia blog, December 31, 2011
  22. Apart from the examples described here, these include the Legal fees assistance program, the Guidelines on potential conflicts of interest, and the Policy and political association guideline.
  23. Michelle Paulson, A Proposal for Wikimedia’s New Privacy Policy and Data Retention Guidelines. Wikimedia blog, February 14, 2014
  24. Michelle Paulson, Developing through Collaboration: A New Access to Nonpublic Information Policy. Wikimedia blog, February 14, 2014
  25. Yana Welinder, Announcing Wikimedia’s New Community-Centered Trademark Policy, Wikimedia blog, January 19, 2014
  26. Yana Welinder, Launching an Unconventional Trademark Policy for Open Collaboration, Wikimedia blog, February 12, 2014
  27. Michelle Paulson, Licensing at the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia blog, November 2, 2012
  28. For example, the Wikimedia Foundation successfully filed complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organization to transfer domains from cybersquatters. See, e.g., WIPO Case No. D2011-0106 and WIPO Case No. D2011-1592, or: Foundation secures cybersquatting domain, Wikipedia Signpost, February 22, 2010, News in brief, Wikipedia Signpost, August 8, 2011
  29. Yana Welinder and Stephen LaPorte, Wikipedia Shows the Value of a Vibrant Public Domain, EFF Deeplinks blog, January 14, 2014; Dario Taraborelli, Geoff Brigham, and Kat Walsh, Wikimedia Foundation endorses mandates for free access to publicly funded research, Wikimedia blog, May 25, 2012; Geoff Brigham, Stephen LaPorte, The power of free knowledge, Wikimedia blog, March 29, 2012; Geoff Brigham, Fighting for the Public Domain, Wikimedia blog, June 22, 2011.
  30. Geoff Brigham, The recent UK report and movement governance, Mar. 19, 2013.
  31. Alice Wiegand,WMF Board publicly rolls out its updated governance handbook, Wikimedia blog, December 26, 2013
  32. In 2012 and 2013, such resolutions included the revised Board Governance Committee Charter, the Guidelines on potential conflicts of interest, the Transition committee, and the Audit Committee Charter.