Grants talk:APG/FDC portal/Annual report on the Funds Dissemination Committee process 2012-2013

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Just a note for anyone who wants to comment here. Although this report is published under my name and I am responsible for its contents, creating it was of course a collaborative effort. There is input here from multiple stakeholders, which was provided directly for the report at Katy and Anasuya's request, or was collected via surveys, meetings and other mechanisms during the first year of FDC operations. The report was primarily designed and written by the FDC staff, although of course I reviewed and helped shape it, and the "ED reflections" section was written by me. Questions or comments here will not be responded to solely by me -- presumably anyone who's involved with the FDC process will feel free to answer questions and respond to feedback. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 00:43, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Great Work![edit]

Thanks so much for this report. I highly appreciate the work that you guys do for the foundation and congratulations are in order. Just a quick question, How many countries applied from Africa and what was the status of their application for the year 2012-2013?

Regards Isaac Kosgei (talk)

Hi Isaac Kosgei, no entities in Africa submitted proposals to the FDC this past year. However, in the Wikimedia Project and Event grant program, you can see in the last fiscal year (2012-2013), seven grant requests were submitted by organizations and individuals in Africa, and 5 grant requests were funded.
Not funded:
For this current fiscal year (2013-2014), so far, 3 grants have been submitted, and two have been funded:
Thanks for your interest in the Wikimedia Grants programs! KLove (WMF) (talk) 18:10, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Aren't graphs supposed to have legends? "2012-2013 Round 1 allocations requested and funded" and "2012-2013 Round 2 allocations requested and funded". Don't tell which colours are which applications.-- 11:34, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi there, Thanks for taking a close look at the graphs! These two graphs were titled FDC Round x requests and allocations by entity, 2012-13. It was meant to be simple to give you a sense of the size and range of grants requested by round and track the requests by entity/applicant alongside their actual allocation (each color represents one entity). You can see each entity's request in more detail by round (round 1 requests and round 2 requests). Let me know if you have further questions. KLove (WMF) (talk) 19:02, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]



Thanks a lot for writing and publishing this annual report.

How about enabling translation on it?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this idea,

Jean-Fred (talk) 20:04, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Jean-Fred! I see there has been a translation request added to this report. :) Thanks! KLove (WMF) (talk) 23:19, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I enabled translation; sorry, meant to update here... Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:19, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Excellent, thanks Katy and Asaf. :-) Jean-Fred (talk) 06:34, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I went ahead and tweaked the translation setup, but this would need more work to get rid of the bloating wiki markup in the translation process. I am not sure I’m comfortable in editing and adding crazy i18n markup all over this page, though, so I’ll leave it at that for the time being. Jean-Fred (talk) 07:10, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am translating into French (50% so far). Could the images be uploaded in a format SVG? It would be easier for translating them. (poke Jwild and KLove). Thanks a lot! ~ Seb35 [^_^] 11:01, 14 December 2013 (UTC) (If I understand correctly, the pokes should give an alert in the Echo bar.)Reply[reply]

Poke thingy worked (yay echo!). Thanks a lot for the helping in translating. I will have to go back and find the original source for those files, and then figure out a way to save them as SVG. I can't remember if I created them in google docs, or a presentation software ... what is your desired timing of this? I should be able to do it by the end of the week, if that works for you... Jwild (talk) 16:42, 16 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yep, worked for me too! (The notification, that is). That's great news to hear you're working on the translation. And thanks to [[User:Jwild|Jwild] for making the changes to the images as requested. I assume Seb35 you are talking exclusively about the image files with the graphs? Cheers, KLove (WMF) (talk) 17:37, 16 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, it’s only the graphs; I saw from Commons in the 7 graphs that you were both authors, so that’s why I poked you; this request is not urgent, the translation are not finished, it will probably by the end of the year for the French.
About the methodology for saving, it’s not that easy. For LibreOffice I found and successfully tested [1] (but it’s a pain); for Google Docs I found and successfully tested [2] with Firefox (but it’s also a pain). Depending of your document type, let me say if you need help. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 10:17, 17 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would like to response to some of the points you raised[edit]

Hi Sue,

Thanks for this great and detailed report. Although that I thinks it was worth to publish it a month before this current FDC round, I understand that you didn't want your comments to influence the chapter's proposals.

Let's talk about growth - when you grove from zero employee to even one, especially if he is a ED (and a good one) – the influence of this step on a small chapter budget could be a very big one. You are talking about the grove of the chapters, but the WMF isn't really different on this issue. Right, it's not really fair to compare the foundation to chapters in the matter of the core daily work the foundation deal with and her responsibility for the entire movement, but it worth to look on that. I didn't did a real research on that (sorry that I don't have the time or the manpower to ask them for that), but from a quick looks on the WMF reports over the years - 2004 - 56,666$, 2005- 283,487$, 2006 - $1,066,785 (376%), 2007 - 1,696,569, 2008 - 5.6M (335%), 2009 - 8.6M (152%), 2010 - 15.4% (178%), 2011 - 26M (170%), 2012 - 37$ (141%). So if according to the FDC 120% growth is the rational growth for organization, the WMF never wasn't even close to fit this growth. Now, when during her ten years existence the foundation started to focus on *HER* evaluation? When they had one staffer or 40? And let not forget - the foundation in her daily program don't deal daily with volunteers working as part of their core programs of operate from their office, something that it's different from the chapters.

I admire evaluation, I admire audit and failure reports. I think we should know what we are doing and learn from the past. But I'm also realistic, knowing that good evaluation require knowledge. Most of our volunteers are great editors, some of them even great developers, some of them even know how to run a great projects and creating amazing partnerships. Only few of them like to make reports, only few of them know how to evaluate correctly their work. And it's totally ok. You have big expectations from the chapters, and this is totally ok also. But you have also a huge doubt on their true impact. And this is not new for none of us. Even before the FDC, and even before the staff grove that you mentions on your report, you liked to show what the "community" thinks about the chapters from a surveys that we agreed that are not fair (Wikimania 2012?). So yes, we need evaluations, and we need more reports. I totally agreed. The questions is how and when. It's different to ask from an organizations with 40 staffer the same evaluation level and knowledge that you require from a chapter that just got his first staffer. Especially with chapters that their staff are doing less programs work and this been done mostly be the volunteers. Expectations and results are harder, although they are needed. When a volunteer arranging a Wikipedia Academy conference with 150 people attends without staff that involve with all the organizations, his success is probably much worth for us than a same conference been arranged by a full time staffer. And its work for the two-side. I can expect and demand higher targets from my employee, but not from a volunteer who does the same thing. So, because I cannot surly measure the volunteer's success – from now we will decide about if project is going to exist or now only if I 100% can measure him on the level of how many women editors was at the room and how many of them had laptops (not far away from a question that we been asked by the WMF of how many people with SLR cameras came to our photo tours)? Should we start chasing just after numbers?

Over the past month I personally and all my board dedicated one face-to-face meeting every week, alongside with at least 2 hours daily work on team to build together with our new ED our annual plan, budget and strategic goals. This is huge amount of time for volunteers. This huge amount of time for board that didn't has the time deal with nothing else and asking his partners and volunteers to wait due the lack of their time for others things. I will be honest – we not sure all of our targets are really realistic. We didn't measure till now most of our work because of lack of time, manpower, and knowledge. And probably some of the numeral targets we set to ourselves this year we will not achieve at all and some of them we will achieve more that we planned. But it's not because we did a good or awful job. It is also because lack of knowledge and experience the volunteers have to reach such level of evaluation – but more than that - the difficulty in the measurement we faced. I can do in one month 200 editing workshops and brings 10,000 editors to Wikipedia. But I can also reveal one month after that only five remained active editors - because the community's internal procedures make it hard for them to be accepted, because the editing interface problematic, because of limited knowledge in areas they can contribute against the areas already covered in Wikipedia and hundreds of other parameters that require a great deal of experience and learning.

The FDC is a great success, but also let's not forget what you mention on your report – that the consultancy fees was US$294,186 (more than half of an average chapter budget according to your report), not including the amount of time and staff that was spent on this process from the WMF side – making this process a really expensive one. I don't mean to say that's not ok or that it was waste of money, not at all. I only meant to point that even a large organization like the WMF, with many experts and more than 100 staff need outside support sometime. Support that costs a lot of money, and require a big knowledge and time. Can you honestly say the WMF till today give 100% of the support the chapter's needs in order to reach for the great stage you dream of when the money is 100% used in effective ways and when we know exactly how to run programs and deal with volunteers? Or maybe *each* one of the chapters also need to spend quarter million dollar of donors money to hire kind of Bridgespan for each strategic step that that faced with? --Itzike (talk) 19:35, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Itzik,
thanks for your analysis and your thoughtful mail. I'd like to echo it!
I also had some discussions with my peers in several countries about this report. Comments were made on the time of publication and the aggressiveness towards chapters, the volunteers who worked their "as*** off" to get their FDC proposal properly done and the FDC itself which is described to be part of some mafia-like conspirancy. "slap in the face of the volunteers", "pure hatred against chapters" were named.
I don't want to go into any more details, I'd like to have this conversation to be constructive and polite.
A remark I want to make, to add to Itzik's thoughts:
There were several times when the definition of "community" - concerning the "Wikimedia Movement" - was discussed. If WMF and WMF staff are part of the movement or the community.
WMF people - and I am sure this included Sue especially - always fought for an inclusive approach of the term community, including WMF people which are hard working for the support and advancement of our community.
In the report it is criticised, that people from chapter take away the seats from the community on the FDC, making sure that the chapters receive more funding. Lobbying at its best!
Apart from the fact that these people have neen elected by the community, did anyone ever question that comment?
In a country with a working chapter it is an obvious fact that the majority of *active* volunteers will in one way or another work with the chapter. Because this is exactly why they exist in the first place:
Because volunteers themselves made them to happen, in order to support themselves with a legal framework, some local infrastructure to help them to achieve more than they could as individuals. Still almost all of the chapters have active volunteers as their board members. Being part of a chapter doesn't mean that one isn't part of the community anymore and that is true also for most of the people holding positions in a chapter. They should be even more thanked, doing two jobs - their volunteer project work and holding a position in a chapter - at once.
--Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 13:44, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I fully agree with that. I think that there is no point in comparing "non-chapter-related" members or programs with chapter's work and organisation.
I also found quite paradoxical the following statement : "In the first year, the WMF submitted part of its annual plan and budget as its proposal to the FDC for US$4.5 million. WMF submitted a proposal for its current fiscal year, so the plan and budget were considered while that plan was already being implemented. When the proposal was funded, implementation of that plan had been ongoing for six months. While it was considered a success to include the WMF in the process as a way to increase community voice and transparency in the reviewing of WMF's annual plan and budget, reviewing a partial plan was ultimately not deemed viable by the FDC or the WMF." So that was good, but we can't continue it... It also does not specify which part of the budget these 4.5 million were, neither if and how it was decided to fully give up this submission.
This makes the chapter budgets something that must be won over every year whereas the remaining (and biggest part of the movement money) de facto makes what was once called the "core" budget of the WMF. Chapters may appreciate to be secured alike... Astirmays (talk) 07:31, 5 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Translation template is degrading the formatting again[edit]

Could someone fix the bullets in Sue's report, fourth para ("exceeded my expectations")?

And could either the template be fixed so it doesn't do this, or editors be shown how to make bullets work, and how to edit them, in the presence of the template? I've noticed this problem before on Meta, and asked the template author about it, without response. Tony (talk) 12:09, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

PS It's wherever </translate><translate> appears between the paras that this stuff-up occurs. I'm removing them now until someone can work out how not to damage the text with this process. Tony (talk) 12:15, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixed It was my mistake − you beat me fixing by an inch, thanks.
(I think having </translate><translate> is supposed to not break list as HTML list…)
(in my defense, it seems the documentation is wrong on this point).
Jean-Fred (talk) 12:25, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Jean-Fred, many many thanks: it's defeated me on previous occasions. I'll come back and examine what you did in detail, tomorrow. Tony (talk) 16:08, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, both! Cheers, KLove (WMF) (talk) 18:16, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A few more thoughts[edit]

Thank you Sue, Anasuya and everyone involved for the very thorough report (and as well to the FDC and FDC advisory group for their time in setting this up and making it work). I wanted to add some of my own reflections on the process, some of which I shared with individuals at Wikimania, but I have been meaning to write down for some time. (These are of course personal reflections, not a formal view of Wikimedia UK).

I agree that the process has been a success in its first year. As Chair of one of the organisations that didn't get what it asked for in the initial funding round, I felt that the FDC (and the staff supporting with it) had engaged seriously with our bid; that the decision the FDC came to was reasonable; and that their feedback to us included some valuable points for us to learn from. And the same seemed to be true of the other decisions that were being made.

I would also say that I have been impressed by the work of the Grantmaking and Learning & Evaluation teams in collaborating across the movement to create dialogue about effectiveness, measurements, and the FDC's expectations - something I noticed particularly at Wikimania but I know has been going on in other places as well. This has created much more of a sense of one movement working together and learning together. I look forward to more of this in future. I think this is a positive effect of the WMF's "narrowed focus" of the last year.

To offer my perspective on some of the issues raised for the future, I would make a few points.

  1. It's clearly true that there are more professional entities across the movement which are asking for funds. I agree that Chapters (and any other entities) bidding for funds should have clear goals aligned with our collective mission and good measures of success. I would also observe (broadly as Itzik has done above) that this is a challenging, iterative process that is really only just beginning. The way I see it is that the capacity to plan and measure is a capacity that needs to be built among volunteers (particularly current or prospective Boards), just like the capacity to train new editors, build partnerships with museums, present to an audience about what a CC-BY-SA license really means, and the like.
  2. I welcome the idea of supporting more individuals directly. From what I can see, the "chapter model" is viable where there is not only a strong group of volunteers committed to making it happen, but also where there is a good tradition of civil society and an appropriate legal and institutional framework. I suspect, as a result, there are quite large parts of the world where a Chapter either can't or shouldn't be formed. In these areas a different model of engagement is definitely worthwhile (though I suspect there will be plenty of other challenges to deal with if civil society and good legal frameworks are absent). (In passing, I might as well note that the Foundation offering individual grants to people in nations where there are Chapters isn't a bad idea, though there will certainly be times when information needs to be shared to avoid several people chasing the same opportunities and I am not sure we have achieved that yet).
  3. My main concern about the possible path that the Foundation and the FDC system might take in future is this. There is in any volunteer committee (particularly a new or fast-changing one) a risk of inconsistency. It takes time for expectations to be communicated and for people to adjust their behaviour as a result. I know the FDC and the Grantmaking team do a lot of communicating but it remains a concern for the future that we will have a situation where entities think they know what they are aiming at when they start planning something, but find expectations have changed by the time they submit their bid. I've likened this to throwing a basketball across a wall where you rely on someone to tell you where the hoop is and how close your throws are, but by the time they tell you, someone's moved the hoop. I don't see that as a current problem, but I think it is something we need to bear in mind as this process develops.

Kind regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 12:24, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some inconsistencies[edit]

In have read the comments of the ED and honestly I see some inconsistencies, but also an evident not neutral point of view. I will try to summarize.

  • Disproportionate resources and influence of Wikimedia organizations: It's correct (including also WMF) but the way to finance projects requires several constraints and an individual or a small organization cannot apply without a big workload. The rules to access to FDC are really high and I think that it's not the case to dispute why the majority of applicants are chapters, may it be because they can have an organization able to work several months around an annual plan, a budget and several reports? The inconsistency is connected with the high level required to submit a proposal which generates this disproportion.
  • FDC process dominated by chapters perspectives: This year they have been voted by the communities, I think that this may be considered as bad comment about the results of the community vote and it may sound inappropriate. I think that there were no barriers for candidature, so this is the result of the community and it has to be accepted as is. Probably the volunteers have not so much time to dedicate to the evaluation of budgets, they can offer small time, even if important skills, and would not be involved in a difficult process.
  • Growing institutionalization of the movement: Personally I have seen in the last year a huge increasing of bureaucracy due to the high level of control and governance. Governance is good but governance requires also high costs to produce reports, to inform and to control, so volunteers cannot dedicate a lot of time and the chapters (or other applicants for funding) are required to hire a staff in order to be complaint with these requests. Personally I thought that it was clear that the high level of governance requires paid staff... What is unclear to me is that the WMF staff is increased in the last years more than that of the chapters. What looks strange to me is that in one hand there is an increasing level of strict requirements, but in the other hand there is the request that this increasing workload has to be done by volunteers. It looks like an utopia.
  • High costs and unclear results: I think that in this case some numbers may help. The sentence "there is currently not much evidence suggesting this spending is significantly helping us to achieve the Wikimedia mission" has to be supported by clearer statistics.

Where is the inconsistency? It's in the limited vision that would give to the chapters any responsibility. The chapters can apply for FDC because they can create an organization able to apply for FDC. In case the focus will be more in individual or in small groups, it means that the staff of WMF will increase in order to support the individuals, to control them, to analyze their proposals and so on.

Where is the inconsistency? The inconsistency is in an ED who cannot have bad comment in the WMF organization, because they may be bad comments about what he/she did. It seems natural to me that the ED will defend what has been done in the organization he/she manages or organizes, for this reason these comments may sound inconsistent. More neutral point of view may be appropriated.

This is not a bad comment or a conflictual comment, if I was in her shoes, I would do the same because I would demonstrate that I did a good job and my strategy was correct. So I can understand the reflections, I would not understand if there were different. --Ilario (talk) 17:06, 4 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Ilario.
Sue is in the somewhat unusual position of being on her way out. Even if she weren't, I think we should be appreciative that someone expressed candid views on what they saw and shared these reflections publicly in a report. Everyone will disagree with parts of what was written, of course. But we need to find a way to evaluate the concerns and decide what to do next. For example, in terms of chapter performance, we must recognize that baby and teenage chapters will take time to develop into adult chapters. However, even through the growing pains, we need to be vigilant in how donor resources are spent and strive to be as transparent and as honest as possible.
I think part of the common "assume good faith" wiki mantra is believing Sue when she says the reflections are her own (and reiterates it at the top of the talk page). All of us carry our biases and we all must be mindful of that, but I think we can trust that these views are hers and I hope that we can figure out a way to evaluate the concerns and decide what to do next. --MZMcBride (talk) 16:15, 13 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quick comment from Sue[edit]

Thanks to everyone who has commented here, and thanks to Katy for answering people's questions. I just wanted to note: some folks are using this page to express their own positions and perceptions, which in some aspects are consistent with my views, and in some cases not. I am completely comfortable with that -- I don't expect everyone to agree with every position I take, and I think that additional information/context/experiences are helpful for all of us. I do also want to say: if anything I wrote was unclear or confusing, please tell me here and I'll try to clarify it. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 01:37, 5 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wanted to add another small comment. I was thinking about this talkpage over the weekend -- about how some people I think are tending to interpret my comments as adversarial, or are imagining that I am trying to build some kind of argument for something. I understand why people might feel that way, so I want to be super-explicit that's not what I'm doing.
I've been involved with the Wikimedia movement for six years, during which time I've spent thousands of hours thinking about we can structure and organize ourselves to best achieve the mission. I love Wikimedia and I want it to flourish. If you found yourself feeling attacked or undermined by what I wrote, can I suggest that you maybe try reading it again through that lens?
As I see it: We're a young movement. We're trying a bunch of different things, in an emergent space where the answers aren't obvious. We have a fairly large number of country-specific organizations, many of them at the cusp of beginning to quickly grow their spending and their paid staff. The choices we make today will have serious implications for the Wikimedia movement for ten, twenty, fifty years. I think in that context it makes sense for us to pause and reflect. I'd urge you not to get bogged down in defensiveness, but instead to join me in honestly reflecting on where we're at and what makes sense for us. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 00:31, 8 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proper movement reporting[edit]

The movements income is well above 50 Mio USD a year. To take 5 Mio of it and then launch a discussion that 4 Mio "is spend on chapters" is something we do not need imo. To further progress i think we should learn to have a proper movement reporting. We need to learn that the Wikimedia movement is something which cannot exist outside of this worlds legal systems. If we like it or not, the world is organized in countries with independent legal systems. We need to learn that the Wikimedia movement is exceptional as it reaches a high percentage of persons in all these countries, and there is (nearly) no other NGO which can be compared to it. People donating money do live in such countries, and their legal systems influence how the money can be used, and if such a legal system supports our movement via tax reductions or giving other benefits like special licensing on information being produced in country financed universities or bodies. At the end of the day it is also clear that a single person pays money, and a single person receives this money. We can of course not track the money flow in all cases to the person. We need e.g. network connections which we then consider "ouside of our sphere of influence" - and we do not care to whom and why a network service provider spends the money we pay. What does this mean for a proper reporting? Personally i'd like to see, movement wide, not for the WMF:

  • spending per country
  • spending per type: volunteer content contributor, volunteer software contributor, admin (like ED), legal, operators, infrastructure (like internet connection), staff cost directly supporting voluntary content contributor, staff cost directly supporting voluntary software contribution.

Having these numbers will, at least imo, give us a better base to judge the success. And it will give us ideas on how to further progress organization wise. --ThurnerRupert (talk) 09:18, 6 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No sound process for establishing spending priorities[edit]

Here are some thoughts on the effectiveness of chapter spending and the use of donations (in part copied from here). I appreciate your expression of concerns, Sue. They match my own.

One thing I have been missing in chapter work is any kind of analysis as to which content areas of Wikimedia projects are objectively in need of improvement, along with targeted spending plans geared to address those areas.

Wikimedia Foundation financial development 2003–2013      Support and Revenue      Expenses      Net assets at year-end Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Financial Statements

To my mind, such an analysis would look at things like the following:

  • Readers' information needs, as measured for example by page views for various topic areas, as well as external criteria (bearing in mind that no page views can occur if the content hasn't been created yet),
  • How much improvement potential there is in existing topic areas (e.g. assessment of the current quality level by an independent subject matter expert),
  • How central the topic area is to the Foundation's educational mission (educational core areas vs. niche content, fan cruft, curiosities etc.).

Instead, I see little evidence of a customer (i.e. reader) focus in chapters' spending decisions. My impression is that spending often happens along the following lines: 1. We have money to spend. 2. What could we do with that money? Is there a GLAM organisation (even if it's just a local or regional museum) that would host a Wikipedian in Residence if we were to finance the position? Do we have someone in our membership who would like to do a job like that? Is there someone who might be interested in hosting or running an awareness workshop somewhere? Can anyone think of a gap in our coverage that could be filled if we throw a bit of money at it (for example, buying photo equipment for Wikipedians whom we can then send out to take photos of politicians, photos at pop concerts, etc., as recently done in Germany, for a budget of €100,000)?

As far as I can see, the main question asked is whether the planned activity would fundamentally be in line with the Foundation's mission. But I see little effort invested in quantifying cost-benefit ratios, or prioritisation based on metrics such as number of readers reached, importance of the information to readers' lives, etc. Yet donors are assured in your thank-you message that their funds will be used "well".

When I read your statements that you are "not sure that the additional value created by movement entities such as chapters justifies the financial cost" and "there is currently not much evidence suggesting this spending is significantly helping us to achieve the Wikimedia mission: I believe we're spending a lot of money, more than is warranted by the results we've been seeing", this seems like a timely recognition that funds may in fact not be used well, but quite haphazardly.

Spending ought to be far more metric-based, and grounded in a rational and traceable analysis of priorities. For example, donors' money could be used to finance Wikipedians in Residence in universities, professional associations, academic bodies, government-funded agencies providing information and advice on legal, medical or social issues etc., with a view to having highly qualified subject matter experts –

  • assess the current quality level of information on offer in key content areas,
  • identify improvement priorities,
  • create, edit and monitor Wikipedia articles in their area of expertise, as identified and proven subject matter experts with a known Wikimedia partner affiliation (though still generally subject to the same editing rules as any other real-life expert editing Wikipedia).

In my view, if we are spending millions and millions of donated dollars (bearing in mind that revenue and spending has increased about tenfold over the past five years – see graphic), then this is the sort of expert input we need in order to live up to the promise that donors' money will be spent "well".

I floated similar ideas at the German Kurier talk page. One Wikipedian responded by saying, in part, that Wikimedia organisations have no interest in expert evaluation of Wikipedia content, especially if this were to focus on shortcomings, as this would draw too much public attention to projects' failings. (He named German Wikipedia articles on legal topics as an example; in his view, they would need to be almost completely re-written in order to be fit for purpose.)

I responded that at the end of the day we simply have to have the courage of our professed convictions and remind ourselves that the movement's publicised vision, mission and values are focused on providing free, high-quality information to the public. If there is money available to fund improvement efforts, a key priority should be the involvement of subject matter experts in evaluating and raising the quality of content. I would welcome efforts being made in that direction. Andreas JN466 04:56, 7 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It could be something like a conventional wisdom to state that money should be spent in key content areas, but I think it would be rather inadequate as a predominant rule. I mean if some anonymous editors better some articles on maths from their home without showing up in any Wikimedia institutions and neither asking for any money, wheras some other ones ask for some meagre financial support and spend it honestly to take photos of politicians, or on sports competitions, I don't see that it should be turned round even if maths would be considered as more educational than sports.
While a great part of the wikimedian action is based on volunteers, you can't drive them on metrics based priorities just as you could with employees. You may check and adjust the financial support they would ask for (if they do), but the institutions role could be evenly seen as to facilitate their actions and initiatives rather than define exactly what they must be before that they even show up !
And as you quote again the "I am not sure that the additional value created by movement entities such as chapters justifies the financial cost" I find it disappointing to point out like this the 10 % of the wikimedia movement's money that does support the volunteers initiatives, right after this budget was submitted to such a harsh proceeding. Sure my words may be tearful and excessive but I do think that chapters should be let supporting their initiatives with a reasonable share of financial support and reasonable checks of their action. If the "narrowing focus" policy and the "money belongs to the movement" motto was once drew up to shorten the chapter's role, they should come out with counter-arguments such as the fact that the community, the editors, the readers and the "movement's money" altogether come from the countries they work in ! Astirmays (talk) 21:47, 7 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I may have gone a bit too far. As much as I can see from my limited viewpoint, this report as other clues, also reflect a huge progress and professionalism in way the WMF - and the Wikimedia movement is ran, which certainly was to be acquired and was no easy feat. Astirmays (talk) 06:16, 8 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is another idea: Why not run a few focus groups with donors and ask them what sort of thing they would like to see their money spent on? Once there are a few ideas on the table, include these options on the donation forms for people to tick, and spend accordingly. Andreas JN466 20:25, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I would be outraged, if only I wasn't completely unsurprised, by a sentence like «my concern increased rather than decreasing following the 2013 FDC member elections, which resulted in the two open FDC seats being filled by chapters Board members». The number of voters in WMF elections decrease by 50 %, and all you are able to do is to say that those who voted are wrong? Congratulations! Very democratic! A great way to encourage more participation! As a reminder, you have not been elected by the community, and you should only respect those who are, instead of filling your mouth with beautiful words about how the editors should be valued and then saying their voice and decisions are horrible and concerning. --Nemo 18:11, 9 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Board votes are notoriously tricky because they involve the question of "who is the Wikimedia community?" of course. I'm not sure you're being entirely fair to Sue. She's expressing an opinion about how she sees the process working and where her concerns are. There is literally nobody who's going to agree with everything she says besides Sue herself (if she hasn't already changed her mind since writing all of this ;-), so I'm not sure picking out parts we all happen to disagree with is helpful. Overall, I think the remarks were candid and revealing and informative. I'm glad this has been reported and we can discuss and learn and figure out how to best move forward.
Individual issues such as a 50% decrease in voters (why was that?) or how many and which types of Board seats should exist should be discussed elsewhere around Meta-Wiki. :-) --MZMcBride (talk) 16:03, 13 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, I have no idea how your reply relates to my statement. --Nemo 19:32, 13 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It relates to your statement by undermining it. Tony (talk) 01:40, 14 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Response to the "reflections of the WMF ED"[edit]

In a nutshell: I protest against the fact that only the WMF (one of the fund-seeking entity) has a POV in this report; I bring my own responses to the points raised by the WMF ED; and I gently protest about the too "high standards" which render the FDC process very heavy and difficult to follow for the volunteers (and impossible for non-English-speakers).

(please keep in mind I’m not an English-native speaker; if the choice of the words is badly done, please say me.)

I read quickly this report in English about one month ago (one of the numerous reports the movement is doing, it takes time to read all things which happen in the movement) and now I am translating it. By translating it, it appears me that the "Reflections by the WMF ED" are clearly a POV from one of the fund-seeking entity. Being heavily involved in a chapter, I have the feeling the four "concerns" say in background "we want more funds for we, WMF, and less for you, chapters" and in this sense is sort of a conflict of interest from the WMF (perhaps I’m wrong, but I have the feeling of it anyway).

Given the FDC process is meant to be community-inclined, I would like to respond to these concerns.

  1. ressources: I find quite obvious the fact that different organisations request different amounts given their context (history of the entity, internal politics of the entity, relative cost of life between the countries) and I don’t see the point in making this an issue. If the point is about "the chapters" as it seems, see the second point.
  2. dominated by chapter perspectives: this is a problem more general to the decision-making process: how to engage people in the politics it affect them? and it’s a very difficult problem (chapters and WMF often encounter this problem in their respective communities). Elsewhere in the report, it is said that the public review received only a few participants, so perhaps a solution would be to lower the requirements of the participation in the process (it’s in English (and a long job for translators if any); it’s very time-consuming for the readers, and one month is short for: reading, creating its own opinion – particularly if one don’t know the country/context –, writing it, and engaging in the discussion) instead of saying that the only participants are those who are seeking funds (they are obviously interested in, and btw the WMF is in the same position) and who have the knowledge about what is and should be done to promote the Wikimedia projects and plan the longer term – obviously it would be better to see more editors in the FDC process, but the editing activity is different of the long-term activities of the entities (promotion of the projects, planning, technical development, etc.).
  3. institutionalisation: I partly aggree with this point (avoid administrative entities), but ironically the FDC process itself participates in this institutionalisation (staff time is required to write a [good] FDC proposal). In the same time I don’t have problems with entities which leave the programmatic work to the volunteers and hire administrative staff aimed at supporting volunteers (planning, accounting, fund-seeking, presence during the working time, and continuity of the activities). I find the question of "administrative entities" should instead be viewed as "at the end, do the entity has an important programmatic work?": if no, it’s an administrative entity which should improve its efficiency (which is different than "all money is used in administrative tasks").
  4. high costs and unclear results: by letting aside the amounts discussed in the first point, this is mainly the question of the metrics/statistics about the impact. In this field, I find it should be acknowledged that the impact itself of a program is different than the observed impact: the second is reduced to the metrics you have at your disposal. In other words, a program could have a great impact, but if you have bad metrics you cannot prove it. Personnally I don’t like a lot statistics/metrics because one could have a tendency to base future decisions only on these statistics, particularly if one don’t know the context of the program (e.g. the culture of the country). But I aggree carefully-chosen statistics/metrics could bring interesting and thoughful perspectives, so the mouvement should think about this problem in itself to improve the current situation (and make the results as easy as possible to be reused for the movement entities), but before we as a movement have these thoughful metrics we should rely on the best metrics we have, by acknowledging they are only indicators.
    For example in WMFR we still receive contacts from GLAM institutions who attended the GLAM colloquium of 2010; or the fact that almost nobody now comes in our stands by saying first "Wikipedia is not trustworthy anyway" (now they ask "how it works, this-thing-which-shouldn’t-work?"); or the fact that in our last stand in the national education exposition the teachers went by saying "I’ve made my students edit Wikipedia, do you have advices and best practices?" (we had two booklets, one for secondary schools we made ourselves, adapted from one of WMAR, and one for high schools adapted from the WMF booklet) compared with the same exposition two years ago where teachers said "Wikipedia is not trustworthy, I will never encourage my students to go there". In my opinion, these facts, although very qualitative, have as much importance as the quantitative ones.

In addition of these points, I would like to bring two comments:

  1. I would like to gently protest about the expression (and derivates) "to achieve the mission and be respectful of our donors": I don’t want to diminish the importance of the money given by the donors, but we all in the movement try to make our best not to misuse the money (at least I hope, else no money should be given after repeated misusages), and in parallel the more controls there is the more resources it costs (be it in money/staff time, or in volunteer time), and my desire is to view the movement be cooler/less stressed with the "mission" and not put in place more controls it is needed, else volunteers will no more participate in heavy processes and consequently the movement will get more staffed (imho it’s already the case).
  2. To terminate, I would like to highlight the fact that the Foundation work is quite different than the chapters/thorgs/user groups work (by letting aside the core engineering activity, i.e. keep the Wikimedia projects online): the Foundation has an important goal as global organisation and should receive enough money to globally improve the projects, but on the other side the chapters/thorgs/user groups have a goal of supporting local communities, which is less global :-] but nonetheless important to make the society better understand the Wikimedia projects. So both are important, and that’s really the FDC’s job of giving some resources to each entity.

~ Seb35 [^_^] 16:12, 25 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]