Grants:APG/Questions for FDC staff/2012-2013 round1

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Oh, there's a sign in edit-mode I noticed right at the finish of [FDC portal/Proposal process saying don't edit. Well, my edits don't change any meanings. Just cleaning up.

One query that needs consideration: there's 30 days and 120 days ... then in Step 8 (in the summary and at the bottom), there's "three months". Suggest this be 90 days.


Tony (talk) 13:51, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Hi Tony, copy edits are fine; we hope that anyone with substantive changes to suggest will leave them on the Comments page, so we aren't changing pages too often for applying entities. Thanks for all the work so far! And yes, the days vs. months distinction noted and changed. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 21:38, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Impact report vs annual report[edit]

Is there a difference in definition between these two, or should an annual report (e.g. see wmuk:2012 Annual Report) naturally satisfy the needs of an 'impact report'? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 05:40, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Hmm, that was meant for Talk:FDC portal/Reporting requirements, which I see is (unexpectedly) a redirect to this page. Please consider having individual talk pages for the different aspects of FDC, otherwise it may be difficult to know which page comments relate to... :-) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 05:41, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
That is my fault. :) There are so many pages here and we didn't want to lose anyone's comment or question, so I tried to lead them all to a central place. Hopefully we can link to the pertinent pages, but if the situation is untenable I can undo it. heather walls (talk) 06:42, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
That makes complete sense, and I don't think it should be viewed as being anyone's fault - but it was still rather unexpected. :-) I'd recommend watchlisting all of the FDC pages, which should let you spot both when people make changes to the pages and when they leave comments on the talk pages. Perhaps also add a hat note to talk pages pointing them towards Talk:FDC portal or similar for general discussion? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 06:47, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
Hi Mike, this is a good question. Yes, there will be a difference between the annual report and the impact report in terms of the kinds of questions asked - we'll put up the draft impact report soon, so you'll see what I mean. Since the FDC process looks at an entity's overall strategic alignment with, and ability to positively impact, broader movement goals, the impact report will look at the three levels of financial accountability, programmatic assessment and most importantly - broader movement learning. We'll do our best not to overlap with the annual report as far as possible, though the latter will be a key complementary document, of course. As I understand it right now, the form and substance of the annual report is led more by the individual entity rather than standardised across entities, and serves a slightly different, though related, purpose. In terms of watchlists, all the FDC pages are on my watchlist right now, as probably Heather's too! So I will respond, as soon as I possibly can, to comments or concerns. The past week has been somewhat hectic, as you can imagine, so my apologies that I've been lagging behind. :-) --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 18:52, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
A good annual report should include all that stuff. Don't waste the limited time of our volunteers by getting to do more paperwork. Just give some guidance on the things they should be including in annual reports. --Tango (talk) 20:40, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Tango, I don't actually agree. I think chapters/entities should have the autonomy, flexibility and creativity to make their annual reports exactly what they want and need them to be. Standardisation at that level should only come when it's sought after and agreed to by everyone (financial templates etc could be relatively standard, and that's a different issue). The impact reports for the FDC process are different; at least, I hope you think so when you see the draft (trying to have it up for comments next week). I'm looking forward to community review and comments of the draft before we finalise it, so if there is an overwhelming sense that this would be best served folded into a standardised annual report form, we can re-examine the process. We'll certainly do our best not to waste anyone's time, but this is where the real learning for the movement should be captured in ways that are easily understood across different contexts and entities. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 02:14, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I didn't say we should have standardised annual reports. I said we should give guidance on what we want to see in an annual report. I'll be interested to see your draft impact report, because I don't see how you can have a standardised impact report. Different organisations have impact in very different ways. I fear if you try and get people to fill out a standard report on their impact then either they'll have to squeeze things into boxes in ways that don't really work and the report will be useless, or they'll start changing what they do so that it fits the format of the report rather than actually having good impact.
Getting money from the FDC shouldn't involve significant extra work for applicants. If they are following good practice anyway, then their own annual plans and annual reports should double pretty well as grant applications and grant reports. For simplicity, there are certain things that it is helpful to put on a standard form so it is easy to get the key facts (eg. you shouldn't need to search through an annual plan to find out how much money they're actually asking for) but it should just be a matter of transferring the information from one document to another. I can see some benefit to having a standard form for putting the results of the metrics you mentioned in your application so it is obvious whether a project was a success under those metrics or not (actually judging the success of a project is a little more subtle than that, obviously), but "broader movement learning" doesn't sound like something that you can describe on a form... --Tango (talk) 11:24, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
This compromise between standardisation and free-form is something the Wikimedians, at their best, do extremely well. So we can probably make a good fist of that. A separate question is how we extract on construct information which is not inherent in the report, budget or request, such as the example you gave. Rich Farmbrough 23:27 20 August 2012 (GMT).
I think that some organizations may have to or choose to have impact evaluations in their reports, and in that case I don't think it would be a problem to reuse these parts. However, emphasizing impact and doing it separately usually serves well the purpose of exposing organizational effectiveness. Since we do not have a standardized general report form, it probably is LESS paperwork to allow some organizations to copy&paste a good impact report from a general report, while requesting just impact report from the ones, which have not included it in the general one. Pundit (talk) 09:16, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Template:FDC Info[edit]

Please add Template:FDC info to the FDC portal, so that the full information about FDC (including the historical development) is available to those visiting the portal. Thanks. :-) Mike Peel (talk) 05:43, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Hi Mike, that information is important, but there are already links to the original pages and there is a lot of information on the portal already. The portal is about making a proposal, not reviewing the history. If a more obvious link is required we should add one, but I would think we don't want to distract from the already complicated task here. heather walls (talk) 06:37, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Heather, but I couldn't spot the links to the original pages on a cursory glance. Perhaps you could point them out to me? I think that a more obvious link is needed here. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 06:40, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
I've added a direct link in the primary bullet points on the portal. Let me know if something more is needed. :) heather walls (talk) 06:51, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Further comments[edit]

An urgent concern is that the application forms will provide the staff, the FDC, and ultimately the board of trustees with insufficient information to judge and prioritise the applications. A key concern is the need to judge each of the specific projects in each application against the 12 assessment criteria in the staff evaluation report—yet the report asks staff to rate the whole of an application on a single Likert scale of 1–5. Aren't individual projects to be judged against these criteria? The one-size-fits-all, for whole applications, doesn't seem to follow the board's expectation that the FDC will set high standards for activities and to prioritise the foundation's strategic priorities for these activities. It's entirely possible that an application will contain projects of widely variable quality in these terms: how will they be scrutinised in this expensive and elaborate process? How will we know? Unfortunately, by having to ask lots of questions ... here come messy wiki-bloat on the community-input pages, and lots of unnecessary emails between staff and applicants.

  • A second concern is the need to make the form (and other documents) as easy as possible for non-native comprehension.

Just a few queries:

  • Please consider numbering the tables for efficient reference by staff, applicants and the FDC.
  • What will people make of a vague question such as “How does your entity define and measure “success”?” I couldn’t begin to know how to answer this. Success in relation to what? Table 2 already asks for how the success of the plan will be judged (probably itself a complex question).
  • Does “upcoming year” mean “current financial year” or the year in which the funding applied for will be spent?
  • “Reflections on …” in the title is strange, especially for non-natives. Most of the information required is factual, not reflective. Why not get rid of these two words?
  • “Variance” in Table 1: do you expect, say “+11.5%”? This is an example of language that will result in either a lot of needless questioning of staff, or inconsistent responses from application to application, or both. There is no place for stating the date on which the financial year in the entity’s jurisdiction. How far into their financial year are we?
  • Table 2: inappropriate as a table.
  • SWOT: the last bullet omits “threats”, which has already been referred to in the previous bullet and the SWOT title.
  • Table 4: estimates of staff time? Bad message. Is it necessary to endorse fuzz at an early stage? (I can just imagine the complaint, “But you only asked for an estimate”, when it transpires that there's a serious variance.) If the funding is to relate to a budget, don't actual staff time percentages need to be stated, and if they turn out to need modification, can't it be done in the manner prescribed for other variations in budget and activities that may occur during the funded plan).
  • Political/legislative definition: as suggested before, the definition would normally come first so that the applicant is shown to have read it before ticking yes or no.

Thanks for the work thus far: it's coalesced to some extent out of the protracted and bloated FDC-development process. Interlaced responses welcome. Tony (talk) 12:47, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

[Adding this here for clarity, so as not to confuse your conversation with Tango below] Thanks, Tony, for these suggestions. My thoughts in response to some of your questions/concerns:
  • Great point about numbering/naming the tables – we've changed that, as you can see.
  • Also, good points on the SWOT section and the political/legislative definition – we've changed those as well.
  • I appreciate your points about language clarity and wording. This is definitely a tricky issue, and one I'm very conscious of, as you can imagine. We piloted the proposal form with several community members (including those whose primary language is not English) to test usability and clarity, which did result in several changes. At this stage, given these multiple iterations, I'd rather we wait to understand real substantive difficulties, as the proposal is filled out, rather than assume difficulties where none may exist.
  • Re the FDC evaluation process, it's useful to remember that the FDC proposals are *not* for project funding. They are for annual plans, i.e. a general funding process; this implies that each individual initiative of an entity is scrutinised only insofar as as it offers an understanding of the entity's strategic alignment with, and ability to positively impact, broader movement goals. Far more important are the entity's overall strategic skills and capacities that make it effective (or not), in growing the movement responsibly and well. Naturally, the FDC staff will be using the proposal and related material made available to make the assessment that will aid the FDC members in their final recommendation. However, ultimately, each entity has the autonomy to decide how the overall amount recommended by the FDC (and decided by the Board) is spent on the initiatives. If the final spending and strategies by the entity are not in line with the original plan, then it is very likely to adversely affect their potential for renewed FDC funding, unless they have very good rationale, and impact to show for the change in plans. There is recent research in the grantmaking world that demonstrates the efficacy of this model for actual strategic impact in and on movements.
Hope this helps, Anasuya. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 01:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

The FDC doesn't approve or reject individual projects, it makes recommendations regarding the budget as a whole. The grants received through the FDC are unrestricted, which means they can be spent on anything, not just what's in the application. If an applicant deviates from their plan without a good reason, then it isn't going to look good when they come to apply for their next grant, but if there is a good reason for deviating then they can do so. So, it doesn't make much sense to assess individual projects in too much detail. The applicant's own board will do that and the FDC isn't intended to replace an applicants internal governance structure. The entire application should be considered an estimate of what the applicant will do over the next year.
You keep referencing these "12 criteria". Those are not the criteria applications will be assessed against. They are the criteria that the FDC staff will use to make their initial assessment, which will help to inform the FDC's discussions and help them prepare for the discussion. In particular, I see that assessment as being very useful for determining the FDC's agenda and for helping individual members plan their time. For example, if there is an application that the FDC staff identifies serious problems with, then the FDC can schedule plenty of time to discuss it and the members will know they need to take a very close look at that application before they start and will probably need to ask the applicant for a lot more information. If there is an application that the FDC staff thinks is near-perfect, then the FDC members will know they probably won't need to spend much time on it. If I'm on the FDC, I will assess applications on just two criteria: 1) Will this plan further our collective mission? and 2) Is the applicant capable of carrying out the plan? If the answer to both questions is "yes" and there is enough money in the pot, then I will vote in favour of the plan (if there isn't enough money in the pot, it gets more difficult). --Tango (talk) 13:53, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
Tango, as much as I appreciate independence of mind, you might consider retracting this announcement of two and only two homegrown criteria—even though they partially embrace the extensive list of criteria by which the FDC will evaluate applications, endorsed by the WMF board and set out here and elsewhere. My concern is that too much of the detail for the staff and the FDC to apply those criteria will need to be extracted after the close of applications. Forgive me if I'm being bureaucratic, but I'd be trying to minimise the shift of so much enquiry into the crowd-scene on talk pages, not to mention flurries of private emails (slightly awkward given the public commitment to openness and transparency—clothed in the word "must").

I'm well aware that "the FDC doesn't approve or reject individual projects", and that "it makes recommendations regarding the budget as a whole." That changes nothing with respect to the need to scrutinise those bundled specific projects, not to mention overall staffing arrangements and other claimed costs, in relation to the board's requirements for evaluation.

I think your statement, "If there is an application that the FDC staff thinks is near-perfect, then the FDC members will know they probably won't need to spend much time on it" is problematic. The glossy surface of applications will need to be penetrated by FDC members if the board's raison d'etre for the FDC is to be followed through: we are relying on those members to be more than stooges for the concept of arm's-length decision-making. Tony (talk) 12:28, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

I appreciate your concern, but I stand by my comment. If the WMF board have a problem with me using those criteria, then they can choose someone else. From my understanding of the discussions, those are the criteria everyone intends to be used, though. The close of applications is not the end of the process. I expect discussions with the applicants to continue well passed that point, and those discussions should happen in public as much as possible (they might end up happening in person or by telephone for efficiency, but at least a summary should be published). The FDC will certainly need to look at the individual programmes proposed, but if there is one programme that makes up a small proportion of the proposed budget and it is probably fine but is just a little vague, then I don't necessarily see that as a problem. The FDC's scrutiny needs to be proportionate. As for my statement about the agenda, you will note the word "probably". The FDC will certainly need to look at the application and, if they end up disagreeing with the FDC staff, then they need to discuss it in detail, but whenever you set an agenda you need to estimate how long each item will take and the FDC staff's initial analysis will help with that estimation. --Tango (talk) 20:53, 12 August 2012 (UTC)
If the FDC isn't continually mindful of what the board has declared in relation to the evaluation criteria, it will be a failure of process. This is a matter of both top–down and bottom–up obligations: the board is trusting the FDC to follow the board's resolutions and the framework set up for the FDC's process (the bottom–up obligation); the applicants have presumably read the evaluation criteria, and the assessment criteria on the staff report page—it would be seriously misleading not to follow them (the top–down obligation).

"if there is one programme that makes up a small proportion of the proposed budget and it is probably fine but is just a little vague, then I don't necessarily see that as a problem"—it does depend on the type of program and its claim on the overall budget, yes; but the concern is for less extreme examples. Tony (talk) 00:39, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Limitation to only 6 positions in the tables[edit]

  • Why are the tables limited to only 6 positions (lines)? I got stuck at this point while filling out the proposal as we have many more posistion for almost every table. Please increase the accepted number of positions asap as the limitation makes it impossible to fill in the proposal--Kasia Odrozek (WMDE) (talk) 09:20, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
    • Note: Tables have been increased to 20 rows. The template will be revised after this round of proposals. heather walls (talk) 19:54, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

who are you?[edit]

-) it's not a tricky question, but I haven't been able to find a page listing the members of the FDC staff!--Chandres (talk) 11:49, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
It's a good question! Thanks so much for raising this. We've added the list of FDC staff members to the Comments page, and you can see FDC staff profiles as well. [[[:wmf:User:ASengupta|Here]]] is Anasuya's page, and [[[:wmf:User:Wolliff|here]]] is Winifred's page. I'm not a WMF staff member so I don't have a staff profile page, but you can see my user page for more information about me. Meerachary TBG (talk) 16:38, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks a lot, very appreciated!!!--Chandres (talk) 17:21, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
And, of course [[[:wmf:User:Hwalls|Heather]]] is providing amazing support in terms of the design of the portal, forms, and many other elements of the FDC process. She'll be working on the FDC as well in this capacity. Meerachary TBG (talk) 01:53, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Notes and details from each table in the proposal form[edit]

There is now a section allowed-for below tables 3-10 in the proposal form template. If someone has already begun a form, they need to add the following:

| table 3 details=

to their document and add any information after the equals sign, the same goes for the rest of the tables up to 10. Text will show up below the table after Table 3 details: and so on. heather walls (talk) 00:49, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Letter of intent[edit]

This page says that the letter of intent to seek funding must be published on-wiki (presumably Meta). How do we provide other information such as "details of the governing board members, senior management and key employees"? This information contains personal information that should be be handled privately. As Asaf stated on the sample letter of intent talk page, "The identification will be handled strictly by FDC staff [...] and stored securely on limited-access storage (i.e. not accessible to other WMF staff or anyone else)." So where do we provide such information? It can't be on-wiki together with the letter of intent. --seav (talk) 01:35, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for checking on this. For this first year - since we did not use the Letter of Intent (LoI) process - the staff will be reaching out to individual entities and asking for this data via email or by snail mail. In future years too, as you note, this information will be shared privately, and not on-wiki with the LoI. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 23:24, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Is the deadline real or fake?[edit]

I notice that two chapters uploaded very incomplete forms before the deadline, and that one has continued to complete the form until yesterday.

The instructions clearly say "The completed document must be published in English on Meta by the deadline for each round (23:59 UTC 1 October ..."; and "After the deadline, the proposal must not be further modified; any further commentary should be included on the talk page."

May I ask whether edits after the deadline will be transferred to the respective talk pages, as the instructions say? Tony (talk) 02:01, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Hiya Tony, thank you for saying out loud the question that probably loads of other people are wondering about. :-)
When we realized that several chapters who we expected to have proposals did not have them on site by the deadline, the FDC members and the FDC staff talk over what the fairest and best course of action would be for the movement. My summary of our thinking is:
1) During the initial round of proposals, we are all learning as we go. So, we plan to be somewhat more forgiving of issues with proposals during this round.
2) Some EEs turned in their proposals on time despite not having them as complete and polished as they would like them to be. To be fair, we need to take that into consideration we when examine the proposals.
3) Although FDC staff was in communication with the EE, evidently there was some confusion about the timeline, and the proposal process. We asked the chapters we were expecting to submit proposals to go ahead and do it, and note on the talk page why it was late.
4) We think that deadlines do matter and in the future we intend to not adopt processes that permit late submissions. We realize that we are sending mixed signals about it by accepting late proposals now. But doing so in this round seems like the right thing to do for the movement.
Hope that answers your question about why people submitted proposals after the deadline, and continued to edit them after the deadline. FloNight (talk) 15:05, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
(FDC staff and other FDC members weigh in if you think I've misspoken. I'm not FDC staff so this question and answer might best go somewhere else. But since you asked it here, I answered it here. FloNight (talk) 15:05, 7 October 2012 (UTC))
I think FloNight's offered an excellent summary of why we are being more flexible during this round. I will be writing a longer explanation to the community on this shortly, but I agree with her that we will be making sure that 'deadlines matter' for future rounds. As FDC staff, we will incorporate all of these learnings into future protocols that we communicate publicly at the end of Round 1. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 19:09, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Second round[edit]

What are the plans for the second round? Does the FDC know who, if anyone, plans to apply in the second round? I've gone through and totalled up the amounts being requested in a first round (although two chapters hadn't filled out the amount when I did that) and it almost exactly equals the total FDC budget for the year. Assuming there aren't inherent problems in any of the applications, the key determiner of whether everyone gets their full amount will be how much the FDC feels it should save for the second round. When we were discussing plans for the FDC, I was unconvinced that having two rounds could work, so I would like to know what the FDC intends to do make it work. --Tango (talk) 12:17, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

There is a structural flaw, it seems, in decoupling the funding rounds from the application rounds. Key questions: do we need six-monthly rounds? Is it worth the cost and disruption to get everyone to San Francisco again if hardly any funds are available (in which case probably a minimum residue should be aimed for in this Round 1). Tony (talk) 01:02, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
These are both excellent questions that I think we will be examining throughout this first year, in order to make an informed determination on process at the end of the year. To address Tango's first: yes, we are working out a fair and transparent process that will give us better data on Round 1 vs. Round 2, and for the FDC's recommendations for Round 1 vs. Round 2. I would like to wait for the FDC's inputs on this before details are shared, but rest assured, it's a priority for us as FDC staff. Tony: As I understand it, the reason that six monthly rounds were suggested were to incorporate the exigencies of different fiscal year periods, the different timelines based on project funding vs. annual plan funding, and overall, not to cause extended financial and human resource difficulties for WM entities by having only one annual deadline. I think we can only reflect back on Round 1 and Round 2 processes at the end of the fiscal year (June 2013) - after taking into account responses from everyone involved, and the wider community - and decide on what the best option is for the movement. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 19:24, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Suggestions for discussion among FDC staff and members[edit]

When the committee first assembles in San Francisco, presumably it will discuss ways of improving the process, including the form. I'd like to make a few points:

(1) We're almost at the end of the two-week community input period. It's remarkable that there has been almost no discussion or comment on the talk pages of the 12 applicants, including the foundation's bid for nearly $4.5M.

(2) The question "How does your entity define and measure "success"?" is not yielding any useful information. The foundation has produced the only substantial answer, and it had this pre-packaged anyway. WMDE tried bravely (congrats). For the chapters I see vague and pap responses such as:

  • "In general, we measure success regarding what particular contribution are we making to the promotion, diffusion and enrichment of Wikimedia projects. ... Although each project has its own quantifiable measures of success, we don't use it as a stand-alone parameter but as an input for an overall analysis of the total impact in the goals of our Association." [OK, I've got it.]
  • "[Entity name] defines success by the raise of the credibility of our chapter in and out the community ... The results are published in our annual reports. ... So [entity name] thinks to work in the future on formal metrics and to be help for that. Now, are measured: How much free contents are created or existing contents become free for example with projects like Wiki loves Monuments or GLAM partnerships. More and more, we have projects reports with what worked and what didn't and why and improvable points. Contacts from media as a [entity name] recognition: the association became a key contact from more and more medias and institutions so in a better position to promote Wikimedia projects." [Errr ... what?]
  • "Organization of political events and creation of pre-election questionnaires with focus on the free licenses and free access issues in collaboration with the community" [That's an activity, isn't it, rather than a measure of success.]
  • "At the beginning of each project, the project leader approve the success criteria with the board. These success criteria are validated during the project and evaluated at the end to see how much of the goals the project has achieved." [Fine. But not useful in this context.]
  • "Wikitionary has a nice definition of success: "The achievement of one's aim or goal." Since our goal is to promote and provide free knowledge, we consider us successful when we can have that positive impact on society." [Oh, give that chapter all they ask for.]

(3) The question "What is the mission of your entity, and how does it support the goals of the Wikimedia movement?" was another I noticed that repeatedly drew responses that are bland and generic, or constructed to a formula that mouths just what you'd want to hear. Either way, not useful in judging the real issues and very vulnerable to spin-doctor confabulation.

  • "[Entity name] supports the Wikimedia movement’s mission of creating and spreading free knowledge throughout the world. We consider the free and open access to knowledge as an integral part of the human right of education." and "Visions and targets on different levels of complexity are being defined in a strategy process involving the ... staff, supervisory Board and of course, the community."
  • "[Entity name] shall work towards making knowledge freely accessible to all humans, especially by supporting the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. The association shall also work to spread knowledge about the these projects, promote their use, and support technology essential for them." [Wake me up when it's finished, please.]

I won't go on quoting. These responses (my points 2 and 3) are not the applicants' fault; it's the fault of the application form. We could save applicants' time and improve the digestibility of the forms by binning questions that are not framed to yield information that helps judgement. Chapter people who fill out the form must be bored to the back-teeth by having to invent nice answers (usually in a foreign language).

(4) Just a final point: in one case, I got the feeling the writing in the application was aggressively poor as a protest against having to write it in English. Got any better suggestions? Let's all learn Esperanto? Not to be rude, but English nowadays is simply a practicality. Petulance won't get us far.

Tony (talk) 10:00, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Interesting and very astute comments, Tony.
The mission statements are supposed to be almost, but not quite, identical to the WMF's as part of the recognition process of WM orgs, so in case of chapters I am not surprised that there are no surprising answers there, and have found the question a bit redundant.
As for the "how do you measure success" and "what have you innovated" questions, they seemed a bit philosophical, especially as the key initiatives required their own measures of success.
I have noted elsewhere, that the form is not always clear on whether it wants information on the whole organisation or just the part whose expenses are submitted to the FDC. One would expect that the latter would be more useful for the FDC, and also the less intrusive way into the life of independent organisations (which might not only be WM orgs in the future). –Bence (talk) 18:36, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Bence (talk) 18:36, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Since the FDC's grants are unrestricted, it's not particularly useful to distinguish between the things that will be funded by the FDC and the things that will be funded from other sources (unless those other sources are restricted). --Tango (talk) 23:12, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Frankly, I am not so sure. While the FDC money is in theory unrestricted, with the requirement to provide a detailed budget, a brakedown of staff expenses, and the expenses of select key initiatives, the money is not given out randomly, but rather with a set of very concrete expectations of what the movement will get from their money (even if the exact budget lines would shift, I don't expect huge deviations in terms of the requests and the stuff that is delivered). In this sense the FDC funds are not truly unrestricted (even if we discount the fact that they cannot be used for lobbying), and even if they were, an organization should be able to maintain two sets of unrestricted funds and know which fund any expense was paid out from, without the need for the purposes of the present exercise to provide the same detail on non-FDC plans and expenses as on the FDC ones (they would be useful as background info, but should not in any way be up for review by the FDC). --Bence (talk) 13:59, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
The WMF has said it is considering the FDC to be just like any other source of funding into their general pot. If the FDC doesn't give the full amount, the general pot is smaller and either other sources of funding will be required or things will have to be cut, but it won't necessarily be the things in the FDC application that get cut (the WMF's Q&A on its budget gives "reallocate funds from other planned activities" as one of the responses to the FDC not approving their request). I would expect chapters to take the same approach. That means the FDC money is being treated like any other unrestricted grant. Therefore, I think the FDC needs to be looking at the whole organisation budget, not just what is in the FDC application. --Tango (talk) 20:33, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
As I say, I am not exactly sure - you might be right, or might not. Not all chapters are the same as the WMF (which designed the FDC and sees it only as an exercise in transparency, not necessarily a genuine source of funds or even a final arbiter on the proposed projects), and the FDC is designed to accommodate requests from non WM entities who are eligible, who might have non-Wikimedia related projects (and who would use the FDC funds for their WM related projects, and their other funds for any other non related projects they might have).
I am not saying there is one solution to this question; merely that the FDC should discuss what it wants to be and make the proposal design conform to it. Currently, the form design (which requests detailed budgets, including a breakdown of external revenue and fleshed out project proposals) and the stated aim (give organisations an unrestricted lump sum that can be used for anything they want except lobbying and funding terrorists) are in a bit of a mismatch and if the aims stay the same, I think the form should concentrate only on information connected to the lump sum requested, not the projects not requested to be funded. --Bence (talk) 20:50, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the comments, Tony1. I agree that it would be better to have really well defined measures of success. One of the most common organizational games (often played unconsciously) is defining goals and measures in such a way, that it is difficult to show their failure. Imprecise definitions definitely may be a part of this process. I don't think any of the entities tries to avoid responsibility though, it is my honest belief that we have not clearly shown what could be paragons for this part and this calls for improvement in the future. For some goals simple measures of success may not be even possible, but I agree that we should strive for excellence also in this area. Pundit (talk) 11:59, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
    Coming up with a meaningful measure of success for an entire organisation is extremely difficult. Applicants should have SMART targets for each project (and, as Tony says, they have done better with that part of the form), but you need to be very careful setting targets for the whole organisation. You risk having applicants focus on areas that are easy to measure, rather than where they can do the most good. The movement's goal is the distribution of free knowledge. The easiest way to quantify that is with the number of Wikipedia articles. So, if you try and insist on chapters haven't organisational targets, you're probably going to end up with them setting themselves targets for the number of new Wikipedia articles they are responsible for having been created. Getting more articles is a great thing to try and do, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of other, less easily measured, goals. --Tango (talk) 23:12, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
    Further comments by Tony1. Yes. Success is usually subtle and/or multifactorial, which is the challenge for meaningful comparative judgement. Number of WP articles created is not meaningful, since anyone can run a bot to start gazillions of stubs. How substantial and how well-written and neutral and sourced are they? I'd rather not create that game—mentioned by Pundit above—for applicants to play in the first place (I'd play it too—and better—if writing a "how do you measure success" exam-answer, since the system is readily abusable; I'd also be comforted in the knowledge that vague pearly words could cover up realities in the retrospective reporting, too, since the original forward planning contract was vague.) Let's face it, these questions haven't yielded anything judgementally useful, so better to drop them.

    If the FDC (and the WMF board) are keen to disseminate models for benchmarking, why don't they develop them—not as straightjackets, but as choices to be selected and adapted to the conditions at hand, or as specific examples that give applicants a good idea of how to control the level of detail they give us.

    Transparency and efficiency in the use of donors' funds—two of the board's explicit themes in moving to the new financial model—will not be served by vagueness in benchmarks. If you're going to allow "number of WP articles created" to be a commonly used benchmark, it will fail to satisfy anything more than a superficial tick-tick examination. People need guidelines as to what to aim for. For example, rather than just writing that the benchmark for success will be the creation of some 40 articles on 19th- and 20th-century female scientists on WP.x arising from a GLAM project (which could mostly be stubs), "We would regard the project as successful if, by mid-2014, at least at 40 articles were created, of which five are roughly of featured-article standard and another 20 are reasonably mature in terms of length and quality." Otherwise, I think mostly stubs, easy-peasy. Then at least we have more of a plan in terms of the movement's goals. Sure, details can clutter; but better to ask for nothing if leads to empty statements.

    And there's another reason to be concerned about these two questions: over time, applicants will borrow the textual formulas they see working for previous applicants, in a phenomenon I notice increasingly in competitive grant schemes—I call it persuasive convergence. It might be good in reducing the advantage a single spin-doctor has, but by blanding everything to a similar level it makes the FDC's task of judging more difficult. My solution? Prune the application form of questions that encourage rather meaningless and soon-to-be-stock-standard text, and channel applicants more narrowly down judgement-valuable routes that expose difference and uniqueness, anchored in the specific conditions of each entity and each activity.

    In summary, please consider maximising judgement value for the FDC, and minimising needless work for applicants. We need to prune, focus, and refine. Tony (talk) 03:37, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

    Well, clearly good measures of success have to be created for project goals, rather than for the whole entities. However, if the organizations plan their activities and set goals, these goals should be measurable and open to evaluation. This is particularly important when large projects are involved, since ideally in a perfect world, in my mind (and I am speaking of my own view only) they should be funded in installments, with self-evaluations and progress reports. Pundit (talk) 16:10, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Edit comments[edit]

First sentence: decision making process. In Paragraph 2 it is hyphenated. Also, Step 8: will must submit. Will or must? Respectfully, Tiyang (talk) 07:58, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

What is the so-called "Wikimedia movement"? I thought it was an encyclopaedia.[edit]

A notice at the top of an article I was reading invited me to "Discuss how more than 10 million US dollars could benefit the Wikimedia movement". I never knew I was participating in a movement. My edits are to contribute to the encyclopaedia. I clicked on an FAQ link to find out what kind of socio-political entity I might inadvertently be involved in, but after scanning through talk about donating funds to undefined, vague "entities" I lost patience and quit reading (hint: Wikipedia Help is a sprawling universe in itself, and life is short). The FAQ should define "movement" right at the beginning so interested readers can know what is going on. O'Dea (talk) 23:01, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

This is a good point. The high-level summaries should be about how our resources can best benefit the projects. With a definition of the network of communities and supporters (the movement) and a definition of the network of organized institutions (the chapters) in the lede. It's worth noting that movements, almost by definition, are not networks of formal institutions; though the latter often grow up around the former. SJ talk  08:25, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
Of course you've tried Wikimedia movement? --Nemo 10:05, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Community involvement[edit]

I was wondering what is your vision on community involvement? I think community involvement in the Netherlands can be improved. In the current situation the plans are very high-over. In this case it's hard to give feedback, because the plans are too vague. I also think that community involvement will be beter when online collaboration tools are used. In the Netherlands you can only participate in the discussion when you go to a physical location. Are there any best practices? Do you support countries in this process? I also started a discussion on the Dutch discussion platform of Wikimedia Netherlands Timboliu (talk) 06:25, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi Tim. Thanks for asking. The main online collaboration tool for discussing anything related to Wikimedia Nederland is the wiki of Wikimedia Nederland. On that chapter wiki is a list of nearly all online collaboration tools in use by Wikimedia Nederland, see information channels, including, but not limited a series of mailing lists. The 2013 plan fit the FDC proposal form, which is, high over, indeed. We've produced a plan in Dutch for the year 2013 which is very extensive, totalling 47 pages, specifying several dozen specific activities at length. It doesn't mention most of the Wikimedia project websites and does not mention wikiversity, that is true. What is true is that we've polled the members of Wikimedia Nederland through our member mailing list last summer to submit any ideas, plans, activities or projects they would have liked to be included in the plan 2013. So, what is your idea, plan, activity or project that the chapter could devote resource to, what is exactly what you need? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 21:08, 29 October 2012 (UTC)

Question about donors, donations and allocations[edit]

Regarding FDC portal/2012/FDC members [1] the question was posed at Talk:FDC portal/2012/FDC members#Question about donors, donations and allocations:

Hi, could someone please clarify where the bulk of the $10 million to be distributed comes from? Presumably it's mostly from donors in the United States. How many donors really donate/d from Poland or India or Bangladesh? If so, why is there only one board member from the USA who will help make decisions about the allocations? The national origins of the board members should at least roughly reflect where the largest proportions of donations to this fund are coming from. Thank you. IZAK (talk) 07:11, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Can you also tell us how money is distributed over the projects (wikipedia, wikibooks, wikiversity, etc.). Or does a country decide about this? Or is it best practice to not spend money on different projects? Timboliu (talk) 07:20, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
A large proportion of the movement's spending doesn't specifically relate to any one project. What money is spent on a specific project is allocated in the same way all good charities allocate their funds - to where they can do the most good. --Tango (talk) 11:37, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
The FDC is not designed to represent donors. It is designed to do the best job it can to further the movement's goals. Since the movement's goals are global, it makes sense to have a geographically diverse membership so the FDC will have a good understanding of how money can be best spent around the world. --Tango (talk) 11:35, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
Tango, thank you for your reaction. In your reaction you say: "funds are allocated where they can do the most good". But who decides what projects/ initiatives do the most good? And when a group of people decides this, I think we, as a community, should be able to give feedback and make suggestions. Does the FDC provide best practices? Tim, Timboliu (talk) 13:38, 17 October 2012 (UTC).
The point of the FDC is that they decide, and the community absolutely can give feedback and make suggestions. That's what these pages are for. --Tango (talk) 18:20, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Hi Tango:

  1. When you say: "The FDC is not designed to represent donors. It is designed to do the best job it can to further the movement's goals" -- it makes it sound like the donors are somehow or other disconnected from the movement's goals which is a totally false assumption, because on the contrary:
  2. number one, donors are almost certainly appreciative and active editors and users themselves, and
  3. number two, donors know full well the importance of WP's goals and indeed that is why they are making the donations in the first place!
  4. Then when you further make the even more absurd assertion that: "Since the movement's goals are global, it makes sense to have a geographically diverse membership so the FDC will have a good understanding of how money can be best spent around the world" -- you make it sound that U.S. donors who give the majority of the donations and get tax deductions for doing so in the USA because WP is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation registered with the United States' IRS -- that they are not aware of the global reach and impact of WP, which is nonsense because, again, they are putting their donations where their beliefs are and it is precisely because they know the global power of WP that they are giving it their philanthropic support.
  5. You must be joking when you claim that the "FDC will have a good understanding of how money can be best spent around the world" by having "a geographically diverse membership" -- as if handing over the decision/s to people who have hardly give a red cent and let them guide what to do with TEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS -- is not only weak minded it is outrageous.
  6. Is WP like the UN now that takes money from the USA and then allows bankrupt and penniless people decide how they should get the money? #Could you imagine a doctor or lawyer running a practice like this, letting the patients and clients decide where the medicine should be allocated and what the correct legal strategy should be? Think it over. Thanks, IZAK (talk) 08:22, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
    I know they'll get in the way of your fascinating diatribe, but perhaps you would like some facts? The majority of donations do not come from the US. In the last fundraiser, 45.6% of the total amount donated to the WMF and chapters came from the US (see the report here). That is by far the largest amount from a single country (second place is Germany, with 17.2%), but it is not a majority. I will also point out that your last point is very confused - a doctor letting patients decide how to allocate the medicine is analogous to what you are proposing (letting donors decide where to spend the money) not what we are doing, which is trying to find the people best able to make good decisions and letting them make the decisions. So, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the Wikimedia movement is, in fact, not a giant conspiracy to exploit Americans, as fun as that would be. --Tango (talk) 18:18, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Proposals are hard to follow[edit]

I was planning on giving feedback on the various proposals, but other than WMUK's (which I was already familiar with) I haven't done that. The reason for that is that they are very hard to follow. The template requires information to be presented in a very random way. For example, why are what you are planning to do and how much you plan on spending on it in two different sections, requiring me to keep scrolling up and down to work out which budget items relate to which planned activities? And having everything in tables means it is all squashed up and very difficult to read. I lack the time or motivation to decipher the plans in the current format, so I will not be commenting on them. --Tango (talk) 18:02, 20 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm sure the community will be interested if you wish to comment on the talk page of the Signpost's upcoming coverage of the staff assessments. My purely personal take, having sifted through the data, is that criteria A and J might well be dropped from subsequent criteria, since they're overshadowed in judgemental significance by B and K, respectively. I'll be interested to hear others' opinions on these two instances of potential redundancy. The simpler and shorter the better? Tony (talk) 10:21, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Hi Tango, sorry to hear that you found it hard to go through - we did ask entities who were likely to apply, to do a usability test, but there's a lot more to learn around this, and we'll be asking for feedback over the next few weeks and months to get this right (or as right as we can, till it's wrong!). :-) We'll also be looking at what works in terms of the staff assessment proposal, as Tony suggests, for instance, though we should be careful not to rush to making substantive changes when what might well be needed are clarifications in language. Thank you both for your feedback. --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 20:44, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Responsibility for the staff assessment[edit]

I think it would be important to clearly state who took the responsibility of the staff assessment, said in other word, is it the result of one, two or three FDC staff work? It changes the way we can discuss it.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 17:05, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Charles, and thank you for the question. The Staff proposal assessments were composed collaboratively by FDC Staff (Anasuya, Meera, and me), although each of us took responsibility for posting and signing 4 of the assessments. Does that provide enough clarity to continue the discussion? Regards, Wolliff (talk) 19:27, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Do we assume that each score is the mean of each of yours? It's good to know, because when a score is really different from what we think, I would say that the score of one people against one entity is likely to be the wrong, whereas when it's the result of a consensus between three staff, it means that the entity is either wrong, either miss to give all the pertinent information to the staff. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 08:26, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Charles, I'm unsure that the mechanics matter at such a fine-grained level. What does matter is the score they've arrived at as a group of professionals, and their feedback. Although I have a few quibbles, I thank the three staff members for the job they've done. Believe me, it's hard work, that kind of judgemental task. Tony (talk) 10:11, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
Hi, Tony, I'm not sure to understand the meaning of your message, as a non native english I find it hurtful. I spend hours to fill this proposal in a professional way, but on my free time, I think it give me the right to have more insight about the evaluation process. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 14:45, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I was referring to the professional capacities of the staff, not of applicants, or to the quality of applications. What do you mean? Tony (talk) 13:43, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

While I disagree sharply with a few points in the staff assessment of WMAU, and requested some evidence for one strange item, I thank the staff for the assessment. It is a difficult task. John Vandenberg (talk) 04:45, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Improving the way to comment the Staff assessment[edit]

I think it would be easier to modify the template for the staff assessment to add a column for "entity's answer". For the moment if we use a free text approach to answer in the talk page, it will be really hard to follow, and really hard for the FDC committee to see the big picture. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 21:47, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for the suggestion, Charles. We will not be changing the form of the assessments for this round since they have already been published, but we will consider that comment when revising future versions of this form. In the mean time, I hope we may manage to continue the discussion as best we can on the discussion page. Regards, Wolliff (talk) 19:29, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
No problem for us, do you plan to amend the assessment if the result of the discussion worth it?, or you prefer to let it as is, and inform the FDC committee to follow the talk page. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 08:28, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
If I may second-guess the answer, no, the staff assessments should stand as a permanent record of their input to the FDC process. The FDC itself may choose to modify, or not to modify, the assessments as they see fit, but this will be reflected only in their recommendations to the board. The board in turn, is a third decision-making level, but its input will be reflected in the final decision, rather than retrospectively fiddling with the FDC's written recommendations. Tony (talk) 10:16, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
This is the first time that the FDC process run, we have to learn, and from now we all learned a lot. for example the proposal is lacking important question for their work (otherwise they should not have to ask the same thing to all) and lot of proponent fail to really understand what the staff was waiting as information. I think that in the case of a wrong evaluation point because the staff haven't receive the good information, it's fair that they have the opportunities to correct themselves and in this type of case, the FDC should not have to look in the labyrinth of the talk pages to learn that something is wrong. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 14:50, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
The staff proposal assessments will always be a reflection of information available at the time, and therefore should stand as a record to the input given to the FDC at the time. You are right, of course, that we are learning through this process about the additional data points we missed out on, so the proposal form and content are likely to change to reflect these, and that, in turn, will improve the next round of staff proposal assessments. In terms of the process for Round 1, however, please be assured that staff provided the FDC with all the additional information that was being made available on the talk pages (and the FDC members keenly followed the talk pages themselves). --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 20:49, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Chapter responses to assessments[edit]

I note that in some cases the Chapters have been responding to the assessment in the associated discussion page. Are these discussion pages intended to be a place for community discussion about the assessment? Or are they intended as a place for only the Chapter representatives to discuss the assessment with the FDC? With the community consultation phase for the proposals now passed, I'm not sure if this process is intended to be internal or not. - Bilby (talk) 14:30, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm second-guessing the answer—that transparency and community involvement are still important factors at this stage. In principle, there seems no to be no disadvantage in allowing community comment on the same page. Entities do have the option of emailing the staff if they feel privacy is important, but—without my going back to check the original text—I think the general intention is to minimise closed exchanges. Tony (talk) 09:53, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. My previous attempt to send an emailed proved unsuccessful, as I didn't get a response. I had hoped for a clarification about the process, but I'll probably take your advice and either just post a reply or try email once more. - Bilby (talk) 10:42, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
My personal view (not related to chairing the FDC) is similar to Tony's: the transparency of review is an important quality. Of course, sometimes the chapters may not want to discuss the details of their current situation, but that's fine, too. Pundit (talk) 16:21, 4 November 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Tony and Pundit, that this is intended to be as open a process as possible. The community review period is bounded so that it gives entities and the FDC time to reflect on the discussions before the FDC deliberates, and makes clear the set of information that the FDC used, though it does not mean to limit those discussions. The key difference is that entities are expected to respond to the community's questions during the period of review as they feel appropriate; it's up to individual entities to respond once the review period is over. In addition, I'm sorry, Bilby, that you didn't get a response to your email - please mail in the future - we'll do our best to respond as promptly as possible. It's been a busy time for us, as you can imagine! --ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 21:05, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

Talk:FDC portal/Comments[edit]

Note that I've removed the redirect from that page to here as my question is about that specific page and is something that doesn't fall within staff responsibilities. --Nemo 10:03, 12 November 2012 (UTC)