Grants talk:APG/FDC recommendations/2016-2017 round 2

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Responses to recommendations[edit]

The Funds Dissemination Committee invites comments from community members, movement organizations (including those discussed in these recommendations), and other interested parties. The FDC is aware of discussions taking place on non-public forums such as the Wikipedia Weekly Facebook group, and invites those participating in those conversations to also share their observations, questions, and concerns here on this talk page, if possible. While individual committee members may well respond to some of these discussion points from their own perspective, it does make it difficult to maintain the level of transparency and the value of shared information and knowledge when the discussions are fragmented. To date, the feedback I have heard about that has been held on non-public forums has all been reasonable and considered, and in many cases a proper response to those questions and concerns would be of value not just to the person who raised the issue, but to other Wikimedians. Risker (talk) 23:55, 16 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

ok - would you care to strike this sentence? "The FDC believes that these direct intervention activities pose a significant risk to the wellbeing of the Wikimedia movement as well as being a poor use of staff and financial resources." it is inflammatory. Slowking4 (talk) 13:20, 17 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

New Readers Programme[edit]

Just looking at the New Readers programme, in particular New Readers/Updates and New Readers/RACI, I'm finding it difficult to square those pages with the FDC's comments that they are a "significant risk to the Wikimedia movement". While I appreciate the WMF has sometimes had problems with this kind of initiative in the past, it does look like this programme has a good amount of engagement with Wikimedia communities in a number of the key countries, as well as conducting reader/potential reader research through a range of means. Did the FDC look at this? If so, does it have other information that has led to its concerns? Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:28, 17 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Hi Chris,
In this reply I’m referring specifically to the section of the FDC recommendations called Working with communities which is in response to the section of the WMF Annual Plan called Cross departmental programs: New readers. While I am a member of the FDC and was involved in the deliberation/writing of this text (and therefore stand by it), my comments/clarifications here represent my own viewpoint and emphasis - not that of other individuals in the committee. Therefore, I will refer to “I/me” not “we/us” in this response to emphasis that fact.
As part of the Committee, I have criticised the "new readers” program, not for its existence or its potential value to the movement per se, but for - as I see it - an incorrect prioritisationof a fixed-budget for this kind of activity over other kinds of activities in the WMF’s annual plan. It's hard for me to justify investing in a new direct intervention campaign for increased awareness of our projects, when other areas of the annual plan - areas that will be disproportionately focused on supporting those exact same regions - report under-capacity or small funding change.

Notably, this includes the grants program area (which states "Without additional resourcing - specifically another Grants Administrator and junior Program Officer - we will have to significantly reduce the number of grants funded overall. This will likely result in closing 1 or 2 of our grant programs.”) and the Emerging Commmunities program (which states that it will be "Building on the pilot's demonstrated impact, and modestly scaling up the budget”).
By contrast it is literally Objective 1, of Segment 1, of Program 1, of the entire WMF Annual Plan, to run “Coordinated marketing efforts (campaigns) with launch events in target countries/markets…” - Mexico, Nigeria, and India, with a budget of $263,000 USD. I should note that by comparison, in the same round of FDC deliberations a grant of $180,000 USD was approved (100% of the grant requested) for programs by an affiliate (the CIS) for India.
Moreover, the WMF has a history of not being successful in ‘direct-intervention’ program work - notably in developing regions such as the Brazil/India/MENA programs of former years - it is this risk of causing damage to the community and local-capacity (despite all the best will in the world) that is meant by the phrase "significant risk to the Wikimedia movement”. I see a risk to the local community if the WMF readership-awareness campaign is very successful - which could overwhelm the capacity of that community to react and ‘kill them with kindness’. These potential ‘significant risks' could have been written more clearly in our text, I apologise. I also apologise for not being more personally aware of how directly the New Readers program has been trying to work with those local affiliates (e.g. with the Nigeria user group) beforehand; and I also acknowledge that ‘more readers’ in a local language could equally be a positive thing for the small editing community’s capacity.

I am not "anti-readers", as some people think these recommendations are saying. My emphasis is on saying the prioritisation of a fixed budget should be going to the things the WMF is particularly good at, and which are best done from central coordination - research, grants, WP0 program, offline delivery mechanisms, capacity building. I should also acknowledge that I did not make full (or full enough) attention to Program 1, Segment 2, objective 2 which states a desire to link with Community resources and Rapid Grants processes. Nevertheless, I believe that the degree of seriousness that the New Readers team places on working with local communities in practice is not at all represented in the detail of the actual documents submitted to the FDC.
In short, It strikes me a reverse to prioritise several hundred thousand $ to a marketing campaign for India, Nigeria, México - when we are simultaneously not prioritising the capacity/grants teams that are planning to focus on those same communities. Highly related to this point, but separate to the new readers program, up to $850,000 is allocated for a Wikimedia brand audit (before even the Strategy program is concluded) and the Advancement department is also planning several 'partnerships for reach' campaigns in developing regions - budget unspecified.

Finally, as a post-script, the FDC members have had a productive conference-call with the Partnerships and Global Reach team today to talk through these recommendations, and misunderstanding of them, in both directions :-) I hope this response helps elucidate this section of the FDC report, from my perspective at least, for you.
Wittylama (talk) 14:57, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
i kind of agree. however, it is unclear to me that there is a shortage of funding, but rather a shortage of attention, and communication. everyone would rather start a new initiative, than interact with all the old initiatives. but it has always been thus, there is no risk there, just that we should expect the usual results. setting the standard of better cross-functional team communication with the community would be a good thing. the FDC should consider how it's feedback might encourage better behavior from the grantees. a real program risk assessment would be interesting; apparently we have markedly different views about risk.Slowking4 (talk) 21:07, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
@The Land: From my perspective (not the FDC's perspective as a whole), I have to say that I hadn't seen those particular pages until you linked to them here, but they don't really change my mind on this program. It's good to see that there is more consultation going on than I thought was the case, however I'm not convinced that just consulting is sufficient - you can easily consult with people and then ignore what they say, for example. If this kind of program is going to work, then it needs to be led/steered by local community members (in RACI terms, there needs to be local community involvement in the 'Responsible' column), and they need to have a veto vote if they feel that it's not working out correctly. Where existing affiliates exist, then they should be able to participate at that level too (note that there's no mention of CIS or any local user groups on the update or RACI page!) Without that level of involvement, then I would be very surprised if serious problems did not occur with these programs over the next few years. (Note: this is excluding research, which is always a good idea - it's more the 'on-the-ground' work that I'm seriously worried about). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 07:15, 20 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Mike Peel, Wittylama, Slowking4, and The Land. I'm the program manager for New Readers and I really appreciate this feedback and opportunity to clarify our approach. Karen posted an update (on behalf of the team) below, but I wanted to respond here specifically as well. To be clear, it's critical to us to be working closely with community members in the regions we are working. So far, our work has been about finding barriers and defining some pilot efforts to address them in partnership with local communities. We have no intention of pushing projects or approaches through that the local communities don't agree with - if they are against something we are doing, we will stop and work with them to see if there's something else that makes sense for them and their context to address the barriers we've identified through research (and if there's disagreement about those barriers or concerns about potential impact, we can revisit that, too).

As far as the RACI chart goes, I see it as a guide for us to know which communities to actively include in those conversations - it's a starting point. This first pass is meant to be general, and I agree with a lot of your feedback about what we should define better down the line. We posted it so that we could share our thinking in process and hear from community members, like you. As far as next steps, we'll be getting more specific about each of the projects and workflows as we go, including making some of what you're asking for more explicit (like exactly what the Consulted role means in different cases). One of my biggest takeaways from working on the first draft of this is that it's hard to define "Responsible" vs. "Consulted" in our highly collaborative world. We've put communities in the Consulted column for now so as not to burden them with tasks that take a lot of time and don't require their contextual expertise (such as project management, contracts, etc.), and instead keep them involved in decisions about strategy, creative approaches, and other things that they know the best. As we go, we may move some of the C's to R's, but we'll have to see how that evolves as these definitions get more precise. Also, because it is a first draft, we are not specific yet about the groups that we're in touch with or plan to connect with - I'd like to get there down the road. CIS and other local user groups would be in the "Local Community" definition, I've added some text to make that clearer. If there are other points that you think need clarification or aren't well thought through, let us know here or at Talk:New Readers/RACI and we'll work on figuring that out and documenting it. I'll be pulling comments from here for what should be clarified together on the talk page soon (or you can add them if you get there first :).

In terms of actual community collaborations, one example of how we're approaching this, as Liam brought up, is the Nigeria awareness campaign. It's been great being led by the 5 community members there, and we're planning on surveying them afterwards to make sure we're on track with how we're collaborating. We'll share what we learn on Meta. Specifically regarding CIS, we've been in touch with Sunil and Tanveer about a few things in the past (before we were doing the monthly updates). We haven't gotten deeply into projects in India yet, but they (along with the chapter) will certainly be a part of that work (if they're interested/available). We're committed to learning and iterating in partnership with local communities - whether that's individuals or affiliates. We'll be documenting and sharing how we're approaching that as we go. It definitely needs work in order to be easy to discover and digest.

Does that help to clarify? I'm happy to continue this conversation. However, FYI, I'm traveling for research right now so my responses may be delayed. AGomez (WMF) (talk) 03:43, 25 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]


I a little surprised no-one else has mentioned this, as I know it has been extensively commented on in other fora. So please take this question as an aggregation of those comments and concerns rather than an indication of my own views. In this round the FDC approved a bid that contained a remarkably high dollar salary for an ED post for a relatively small affiliate in a low-wage country. What was the FDC's rationale for doing so, when in other feedback relatively trivial staffing changes have been singled out for criticism? Will the FDC undertake to approve future requests to increase ED pay in other chapters to either dollar or cost-of-living equivalent parity with this post? Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:17, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Hi again Chris,
The same 'personal viewpoint' caveats apply as per my previous response above :-)
As you can well understand, there is a significant moral hazard of the FDC making recommendations directly referencing the value of an individual person's salary. We did discuss this at length during the Deliberations, as well as on the questions page of the relevant application.

To the general issue; I, and other members of the FDC have requested from the WMF in the past some kind of external/objective guide for PPP with regards to salaries (and related issues like payroll taxes) so the FDC could get some kind of gauge of 'fairness' (not just for individual salaries, but salary range within an organisation), but this is not possible for the WMF to provide for various legal, technical and practical reasons. With regards to point about a seeming inconsistency between different affiliate treatment (the 'other feedback relatively trivial staffing changes have been singled out for criticism') I believe this is peculiar to the difference between what is said in the WMF staff assessments about staff growth proposals, and what is said in the FDC recommendations. In my experience - the FDC is much less willing to engage in specific comments and small% recommended cuts to proposals regarding salary/staffing than it used to be (I've only been on the committee for 2 years though). This is particularly a result (I believe) of improved quality applications and increased stability of the organisations.

I note, that Armenia is the first Chapter in years (ever?) that has hired its first ED when it was already an APG chapter - so there is no precedent under the current WMF affiliate and grantmaking models for fair/appropriate first ED hiring practices. I am personally of the opinion that the recommendation texts should discuss FTE staffing numbers - not the salaries of those FTEs... This does perhaps have the unintended consequence that the former receive more [public] attention than the latter. I would also like to draw attention to the final paragraph of the relevant section of the FDC recommendations, which references the fact that the WM-AM plan is predicated on unlocking a variety of external funding sources: "With this proposal, Wikimedia Armenia is setting high expectations for itself in the future in terms of execution of impactful programs and raising additional funds to support them. The FDC is basing this decision in part on the expectation that Wikimedia Armenia will not request an increase in funding in future years. Future growth should be covered by funding sources other than APG."

To your question about whether the FDC would approve future requests to increase salaries from EDs: I think it's fairly obvious that no one can, or should, make such a promise on behalf of a future committee. Personally, across the various applications that come to the FDC, I am much more often worried about the possibility that some staff in some Chapters to be under paid, than the risk that others might be over paid. Wikimedia is a charity and volunteer movement - but that doesn't mean that the staff who work within it should be required to undervalue themselves. So, personally, I would be interested to read grant applications in the future that make arguments for what is a 'fair' salary should be their own country, in the context of the industry, scale, experience levels, economy etc. (not just for the ED).

And finally, to extend the question of comparison to other Chapters, the FDC is in a position of recommending grants to individual applications on their own internally consistent annual-plans, AND YET, it is also in a role (legitimately, intentionally, or not) of providing guidance on movement accountability and 'fairness' far beyond the grant applications seen in isolation. This applies not only to 'fair salary' questions, but also to things like 'what kind of reporting/detail should affiliates provide - even if they're not receiving money from WMF grants'. This dual-role makes me very uncomfortable personally because the FDC does not have this mandate formally, nor do we have an appropriate mechanism to discharge that duty. It is important that somehow this movement can self-regulate and adjust to what is 'fair', but we have never formally given the FDC this role - and nor should it necessarily remain with the FDC in the future. I am hoping that in the practical-implementation phase of the Strategy process these kinds of decisions can be made - as Schiste puts it: that we all put our cards on the table for the betterment of the movement. Wittylama (talk) 16:45, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you Liam and Mike for your answers - it's good to understand the thought processes! Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:46, 20 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I don't give my free time to have improvements to the language in the lead reverted[edit]

If you publish inconsistent date formats and inconsistent typography, plus redundant wording, you should thank a volunteer who comes along and fixes it in their free time—not revert to shabby English that makes the meaning just that more difficult to apprehend for both native and non-native readers.

I'm very unhappy about it. Don't expect any support from me from now on. Tony (talk) 12:12, 17 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

@Tony1: I understand your frustrations, but it's up to the FDC to change their own texts, just like everyone's comments on the talk page are something they should fix themselves. Pointing them out here should be fine though. Braveheart (talk) 16:25, 17 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Why post it on a wiki that "anyone can edit", then? And Risker says in her arrogant edit-summary: "Some of your edits may be included on review". Which ones? Which of my simple, surface clean-ups does she dislike? You're wasting my time, and I resent that. And you've dragged the text back to a less readable form than I made it (I changed utterly no meanings). Don't you care about improving your sloppy writing in the lead so that non-native speakers can apprehend the meaning a little more easily? Tony (talk) 02:41, 18 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I am sorry that you felt your time was wasted, Tony. There is a reason why there is only a rudimentary manual of style on Meta, and it's simply that different formats are acceptable on different projects, including dates, em-dashes and en-dashes; the FDC is an international committee with members from 8 different countries who work on dozens of Wikimedia projects. More to the point, though, FDC recommendations are consensus texts which have been reviewed and authorized by the committee as a whole. Every committee member participates in their creation, editing, and editing some more; the nine committee members spent over 100 hours cumulatively. If any member of the committee has concerns about any part of the text, including the headlining text and the text at the bottom of the page, we work it out before it is published. Despite all of this work, occasionally an error makes it through, and those are fixed when identified as soon as the correct information can be ascertained. The text is representative of those who were involved in the deliberations. Risker (talk) 04:08, 18 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
No, you're not sorry at all: quite the opposite. In my view, your reversion was an exercise of power for the sake of it. FDC power, against that of a good-faith volunteer who was trying to make you people look more professional, right at the outset (and professional, here, means optimally readable and standardised).

The reversion, which damages the text in several ways, has the appearance of taking your almost ideological dislike of the English Wikipedia's styleguide to another site. It is highly inappropriate to pursue a personal idée fixe as a campaign on Meta, and to abuse my efforts in the doing.

Yet my improvements to a sloppily written lead had nothing to do with en.WP's styleguide; it had everything to do with (i) standard practice in North America, the UK, and the Commonwealth, as recommended by major styleguides such as the Chicago and Oxford; (ii) correcting inconsistencies within the text; and (iii) removing fluffy wording (which no styleguide can hope to cover). I was careful to change no substantive meanings.

Do you really think I slavishly adhere to en.WP's styleguide when writing for clients, or when editing on other sites? If so, you're badly mistaken. In particular, my improvements here were intended to be translator-friendly; I am surprised that you are happy to make it a little more difficult for second-language speakers, and that you spurn the efforts of a volunteer (who is a professional writer/editor). It begs the question of whether the FDC has the same dismissive attitudes behind closed doors to the volunteer affiliate organisations it stands over in judgment: we have no way of telling. If the page had been written in French (perhaps it should have been), I'd be just as keen to have it in professionally written French, and would have thanked a volunteer who fixed a few things in passing.

I'm sure your second-language-speaking colleagues on the FDC don't appreciate being held up as your excuse ("The text is representative of those who were involved in the deliberations"). We are indebted to their efforts in conducting business in a difficult foreign language, and are duty-bound to assist their contributions on the surface of that language. Part of my professional work is to create a level playing field for them in a competitive English-language environment—you'd assume that I am well-acquainted with that empathy. Oh, and just in case there was doubt: my writing can often be improved, too.

I am going to reinstate the improvements now. If you revert them again, I will take the matter to the executive director and trustees. Tony (talk) 02:21, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I think it's unlikely the ED and Board of Trustees care about whether your copyedits are adopted, to be honest, and even if they did care I think it's unlikely they'd be persuaded by the vaguely bullying tone of your reply to Risker. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:00, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Another crusader for bad text and the appalling treatment of volunteers' efforts. Thank you, Keating—you've just shown why you're insuitable for office. Tony (talk) 14:59, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
That kind of illustrates the problem, Tony. When someone disagrees with you, you present it as someone "crusading for BAD THINGS", or make dark hints about what other BAD THINGS they are doing. That's not a mature, respectful or helpful approach to engaging with people. Please stop it. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:07, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I get it. You're still sore at me for uncovering the scandals at your chapter, which cost you a heap of tax refunds and huge embarrassment. Don't blame the messenger. It was five years ago, so you should think about getting over it. You talk of "mature, respectful or helpful approach to engaging with people": that was the basis of my complaint in this thread, and trying to turn it back onto me is just counterproductive. You are now trying to blow it out into a protracted dispute. Is that what you want, or can we move on from this theme and discuss ways of improving the FDC and grantmaking? Tony (talk) 15:18, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
.... Genuinely, I have never thought of you playing a role in anything to do with Wikimedia UK in 2012. But if you did that I somehow missed, then many thanks - there were a number of important issues that we needed to sort out to put our house in order. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:30, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I included a sizeable quotation from your statement in the article, so I'm surprised you're unaware of it. The personal attacks from chapter people began almost immediately. Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry that this has moved off-topic. My best, Chris. Tony (talk) 15:43, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
The changes have now been reviewed and accepted by the FDC. Thank you for suggesting them. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:02, 3 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]

We deserve answers: the FDC needs a proper audit[edit]

I've been of the opinion for some time that the FDC's expensive little operation needs a good review. It's all very well for the members to be flown to San Francisco routinely, put up in hotels, fed meals, given taxi vouchers and the rest, against the alternative of scheduled video conferences to get the job done. What is the cost of these paid jaunts? What do we gain from this profligacy in the modern internet age? And three years ago statistics came out showing that Grantmaking as a whole showers itself with an extraordinarily high amount of money just to run itself, compared with the amount of funding given to needy affiliates—the organisations that actually do the work that will make the Wikimedia movement and its sites better. From memory, it was several times higher than the ratio of overhead to outgoings by similar NGO grantmaking agents. I think we deserve answers. And in a quick run through of the latest recommendations I see matters that need to be queried.

So we might pose the question of whether the FDC's decision-making is as sloppy as the writing in the lead, and whether it is as arrogantly resistant to small good-faith improvements as has been shown in the past 24 hours. Tony (talk) 02:41, 18 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

  • You will be pleased to know that Phase 2 of the movement strategy exercise (which is currently in Phase 1) includes reviews focused on movement entities, including but not limited to the Funds Dissemination Committee. I'm personally looking forward to such a review. There are good things about the committee - it is possibly the only committee of the Wikimedia Foundation that has invariably completed its responsibilities within its time frame; meeting in person and having very specific times that we meet plays a significant role, and it is more productive than trying to set up three or four consecutive days of face time across better than a dozen time zones. There are also some issues. You highlight its monetary cost and that it is a very valid point, although there is also a fairly significant human cost in the time and effort involved in reviewing 16-20 diverse proposals for major funding, most of which run the size of a small novel by the time all the links are reviewed; that's followed by everyone getting on planes and flying hours to places where most of us don't speak the language, to cities where we're lucky if we have enough "down-time" to have a decent meal before we return to our rooms to prepare for the next day's work. It's a challenge to find candidates for the committee sometimes, because for most people it means giving up almost two weeks of vacation time, and pretty much blocking off the months of October and April for other activities. Having said that, there are rewards; those come from seeing the organizations funded growing in healthy and positive ways, supporting their local editing community and receiving their community's support in return, and bringing back knowledge and skills which they freely share with other movement entities.

    As you probably know, Tony, self-nominations for FDC candidates are currently open, and candidacies are being accepted until 28 May 2017. Perhaps you will consider self-nominating; some of the best FDC members are those who come in as skeptics, because they always make the process better - questioning assumptions, bringing different experiences. On the first morning of each session, nine people walk into the room not really knowing much about the opinions of the other eight people, and at the end of the deliberations we walk out with a consensus decision - and it's never the one any one of us walked in with. It's intense, but it's possibly the most successful illustration of consensus within the Wikimedia movement. Risker (talk) 03:49, 18 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Reply: Risker, I respond to your points in the order in which you raised them:

At this stage I've chosen to ask questions and make comments here, since this page most directly concerns the most recent exercise of authority by the FDC. You're welcome to link to this thread from the review page.

I'm unconvinced of the standard arguments you put for the superiority of regular physical meetings—that the benefits of sitting in the same room outweigh the substantial costs in financial terms, and let's not forget carbon intensiveness (a matter the WMF should be taking more seriously). Yes, it is nice to meet people in a physical social setting, to sit in the same room, to establish friendships over coffee breaks and meals, and I suspect that the ensuing camaraderie with staff is beneficial too. I accept that good things can come of this.

But this model for group international decision-making carries disadvantages, too, and you yourself point out some of these: it sounds like a frightful ordeal. The dynamics of face-to-face are typically assymetrical (the usual things: sometimes one or two people dominate a discussion, the most confident voice wins, many people stay silent for much of the time, there's social game-playing, and awkward conflict-of-interest departures from the room). Force-fed face-to-face meetings over four days may be a good way to meet crunchtime deadlines, but it involves a lot of sitting-time waste, and may even silently encourage under-preparation; and let's not forget meeting fatigue, as well as up to three days' jet lag in and three days out for some people. Whether members will even be able to prepare on their laptops during a long flight is under a cloud—and for meetings in the US, there's the risk of thuggish nastiness at US airports, especially if your skin isn't lilly white or the wrong politics is showing in your passport.

Against this, it remains to explore the viability of shifting toward structured, sequenced online communications; these might include formal one-to-one round-ups with members conducted online by the chair, another member, or staff; and video and audio conferencing. If a member has suboptimal connectivity, I'd rather pay for them to travel a few times to a hired location nearby with fibre optics than go through the dramatics of these gargantuan, big-hit meetings. I note that Wikimedians often manage highly sophisticated conceptual, intellectual, linguistic, and procedural challenges online without even knowing each other's identity; the FDC's potential to function more online than it does would, of course, involve a more personal element in the discourse—it is a potential that I don't think has been sufficiently explored, and the WM movement is ideally placed to be a world leader in refining it for purpose. None of the rewards you list concerning affiliates' health and growth, and gains from returning members' knowledge, are excluded by a well-organised online system of discourse. It would require a slightly different set of self-disciplines from members, but if they know what they're up for from the start, it might actually expand the pool of the willing that you complain is rather too small. It might also make a system of rolling grant scheduling more possible; many agencies have reported that moving from big-hit yearly deadlines to rolling schedules raises the quality of applications (actually, reduces the number of applications from university researchers, too, particularly from the bottom 50% in quality); it would also reduce staff and applicant stress.

I'm not satisfied that the application texts can't be further streamlined to make it easier for both applicants and judges. It's a two-sided aim that few grant bodies realise is possible, though getting it right is an intricate challenge. Our old friends—convergence, repetition of memes, empty PR-driven pap—are very costly for applicants to write, and with care can be minimised. In my view, applications the size of "a small novel" are a sign of systemic failure. Not all stratification is helpful, but some can expose the very details that judges (and staff) need to sort the sheep from the goats, and to provide productive advice to affiliates. Repetition and PR-driven content often crowd out these high-value details and make your mission statement harder to live up to.

What we're missing is a sense of how much FDC members and staff communicate with applicants, at what stages, which modes, what they and applicants regard as really productive and not useful. I believe the very high ratio of overheads to grants needs more rigorous justification.

Risker, as you know, I supported you—probably among several others—in nominating for your first term; two emails, I recall. I was delighted that you stepped up, and that you've been willing to serve a second term. You have my confidence despite the unnecessary tension being aired above. The WMF invited me to nominate a few years ago, but I declined: I'm a white anglophone male, and there are quite enough of them in positions of responsibility and power in the movement; and I'd rather support those in leadership positions than lead, as you've seen with the Signpost. I dislike self-promotion intensely, but perhaps here I need to breach my ethical instincts by saying that I've worked on more than 800 research applications, mainly scientific, that are at a much higher level and far more competitive than what the FDC deals with. A recent highlight was a 17 million GB pound grant, ranked first among more than 600. The applicants—biochemists, medical specialists, engineers, architects, social scientists—hope it will eventually improve the lives of the disadvantaged in a few developing-economy cities. The announcement was reported in several media outlets, including the Guardian online. I make this point only to encourage people to take what I'm saying seriously, while exercising the usual skepticism we should all apply to everything we read, of course. Tony (talk) 04:27, 19 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Ignorant revert[edit]

I see that Delphine has joined those who want ignorant, poor language in the lead. If you're going to spurn community input, DON'T post it on a wiki without inserting a BIG, OBVIOUS NOTE at the top of the edit display.

Don't waste my time with your bureaucratic garbage, Delphine. I don't have a very high opinion on the FDC as a result of this.

Tony (talk) 14:18, 24 May 2017 (UTC)

Hi Tony1, as I already said on my talk page, I am sorry that you feel so annoyed and angry about this revert, and sad that you think it stems from ignorance. I recognize the value of your edits and thank you for proposing them. There are processes I am here to have respected as part of my job. A lot of donors' money is tied to these recommendations and we do not allow organizations to alter their proposals without asking first on the talk page, so this page falls under the same rules. I have taken note of your idea of putting a note on the tope of the page to ask people not to edit it, thank you for suggesting this. Best. Delphine (WMF) (talk) 21:29, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Wikimedia Foundation response to FDC's recommendations on WMF annual plan[edit]

Note: This section and sub-sections posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation. 21:32, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Dear Members of the FDC,

We would like to begin by thanking the FDC for their work evaluating the financial plans of so many organizations in our movement, including the Wikimedia Foundation. We know that this is a task that requires substantial volunteer time and effort. We believe it is an important aspect of protecting the integrity of fund distribution processes and providing valuable feedback to all participants on the responsible use of donor and movement funds. We are grateful for the level of commitment this committee demonstrates in each review.

In the sections below, we will respond to specific points and questions about our own annual plan, but we did want to acknowledge first the importance of this work and our appreciation of it.

Warm regards,

Katherine Maher
Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation


The FDC appreciates the Wikimedia Foundation providing its Annual Plan for review. Rather than providing detailed feedback on each program, the focus in this review is on common themes that apply throughout the WMF proposal.

The primary FDC recommendations are that:

  • Activities with direct WMF interventions in local communities in the New Reader program or in the work plan of the Partnerships and Global Reach team should either be removed from the annual plan or go through significant revision and community consultation.
  • The WMF should develop a set of metrics and SMART goals they will use and report on for the duration of the new strategic plan.
  • Staffing allocations across different parts of the WMF should be reviewed to ensure that impactful programs have the staffing resources they need.

Our responses will be organized by thematic area and, in the case of New Readers where work is being divided among several teams and departments, by team.

Working with communities (New Readers program team and the Partnerships and Global Reach team)[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of AVrana (WMF) and AGomez (WMF). 21:32, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Working with communities

The New Reader Program and the work plan of the Partnerships and Global Reach team have expensive activities with direct interventions in local communities that the FDC recommend should either be removed from the annual plan or go through significant revision and community consultation. The FDC believes that these direct intervention activities pose a significant risk to the wellbeing of the Wikimedia movement as well as being a poor use of staff and financial resources. The WMF has not demonstrated an ability to do this type of work well and in some cases has significantly damaged local communities as a consequence. The FDC is concerned that failures from previous attempts in this type of work will be repeated in new ways. The FDC recommends the WMF focus on critical activities where it has a track record of success, such as formative research and facilitation of local communities.

It is important for the WMF to clearly coordinate work with active communities and affiliates, rather than running projects independently. Programs which have already proven highly successful with communities (e.g., Community Capacity & Development work with "emerging communities") are not being expanded, while those that are closely related to past unsuccessful work are given priority (e.g., aspects of the New Readers program). The FDC notes that the Fundraising team's efforts are showing increased co-ordination with other movement organizations, and encourages further coordination and cooperation. This work would benefit from increased integration with the activities of other WMF departments.

We would like to thank the FDC for their review of both the New Readers program and the Partnerships & Global Reach (P&GR) team annual plan drafts. The P&GR also would like to thank the FDC members that joined us for a call last week (May 19). It was great to engage with the committee and share more information about our ongoing work and future plans in this area. Overall, both teams are glad to have the chance to share more about our work and hope to dispel any confusion.

Before we address the FDC concerns, we would like to clarify that the New Readers program and the P&GR team are working to increase the reach of Wikimedia projects, which is a strategic priority for the Wikimedia Foundation and was approved in the FY2016-18 strategic plan consultation.

Understanding how New Readers program and Partnerships and Global Reach team work together[edit]

The New Readers program’s goal is to bring new readers from Africa, Middle East, Asia and LATAM to Wikimedia projects. This program is a cross-team collaboration of 5 teams in the organization (Global Reach, Design Research, Reading, Community Engagement and Communications teams. In addition to supporting the New Readers program, each of those teams has their own annual plan programs.

The mission of the Partnerships & Global Reach team (P&GR) is to increase the reach of Wikimedia projects in countries where a significant part of their population do not know or use our projects. The P&GR team contributes to the New Readers program by building partnerships that will increase awareness and readership in the New Readers priority countries.

Given the FDC recommendations are addressed to both the New Readers program and the P&GR team, we would like to provide a more detailed and group-specific responses below.

New Readers program[edit]

Close collaboration with communities[edit]

From when we first started this work in February 2016, we've believed that close collaboration with communities (especially those in the countries we're working) is critical, and we haven't taken a step without their involvement. To keep the broader community informed, as The Land posted (thanks!), the New Readers team has been publishing updates monthly at New Readers/Updates and emailing these to the New Readers mailing list. We also maintain up-to-date information on each of the focus-area pages: New Readers/Awareness, New Readers/Offline, and New Readers/Affordability, each of which are linked from the New Readers main page.

Beyond that, within quarter 4 of FY16-17 we've started to systemize how we'll be proactively consulting and informing various communities about the work that we're doing. Our first pass at this is at New Readers/RACI (again, thanks User:The Land for posting already). We'll be putting this into practice for our projects going forward, trying specific methods for collaboration and consultation per project. We want to make sure that we're working alongside communities to support their vision, without overtaxing limited volunteer time. This means that we’re meeting communities where they congregate, often on Whatsapp, Telegram, or other off-wiki channels. Here is a list I pulled together quickly of the ways that we've been consulting since the project began - we'll keep documenting and streamlining this in the next fiscal year. We’ve also included an ask in our budget next year for contract money to further support working with communities and communicating that work. Please share your thoughts about specifically how we can do better, either here or on the New Readers talk page - we're eager to keep learning.

Past Foundation efforts[edit]

In terms of the previous attempts to do this kind of work that you mention - are you’re referring specifically to the Catalyst program and the India Program Trust? I've just added a section of the New Readers/FAQ to address the ways that we think this is different. If there’s something else we should be aware of, please share more information so that we can learn.

More than that, we believe that the goal of increasing readership in these countries continues to be important to the Movement – we would like to bring the sum of all knowledge to everyone, and not just those who are already here. While there have been significant missteps in the past and damage done, that does not invalidate that goal. We approach this work humbly and iteratively, reflecting and adapting as we go, so that we can course-correct constantly along the way.

Partnerships & Global Reach team[edit]

Team's mission[edit]

Our team’s core mission is to increase awareness and readership in Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. In order to do that, we build strategic partnerships with governments, non-profits, educational institutions and private companies. The global nature and scale of these partnerships require professional expertise and focused resources, which is the primary role of our team.

Leading versus supporting: our partnerships approach[edit]

Even with the global scope of these partnerships, we always work in close coordination with the local communities to align with their goals and interests, and also to inform our strategy and approach. We don’t believe we can have an effective strategy for growing awareness and readership if we are not building it in partnership with the local communities.

Alternatively, when a partnership opportunity is related to content creation and community growth, our team’s approach is to switch from a leading role to a supportive role in the collaboration between partners and local communities. In either scenario, our commitment to engage and consult with local communities is ongoing, with frequent conversations in-person and online.

Before, during and after: working hand-in-hand with our communities[edit]

In the last two years, we have worked to increase and improve our overall communication and coordination with the communities we directly serve. We participate in the communication channels they usually use (often social media). We host regional office hours on a quarterly basis in their local language (including Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hindi). We have also increased our participation in regional and global community facing events, such as Wikimedia Conference, Wikimania, WikiArabia, Wikiconference India, among others. When attending these events, besides presenting our work, we conduct capacity and awareness building workshops.

This key change in our approach has rebuilt and strengthened the relationships between communities in emerging countries and the Wikimedia Foundation, when often times these relationships were either non-existent, or damaged by past interventions. We believe in learning from the past and applying its lessons to shape our future efforts. The fear of failure should not prevent us from moving ahead with new and creative ways to reach our goals. And most importantly, the key lesson for us is about putting the community front and center in our work.

For the last year, we have expanded our mandate to include building partnership skills and expertise within our community. In fact, many affiliates have been asking for our support in pursuing new partnerships as you can see in the "Letter to Katherine" written by the WikiIndaba participants. Along these lines, we have already been supporting the communities in Iraq and Nigeria to build their own partnerships skills. For this coming FY, we proposed to refine the Partnerships module of the Community Capacity Development program as stated in our annual plan.

We hope that this helps you to better understand the work the Partnerships and Global Reach team does and our commitment to empower our communities and support their development. We want to create a more inclusive and diverse movement, and for that, our communities are the most important partners.

We’re looking forward to your feedback and continued collaboration. Please note, User:AVrana (WMF) and User:AGomez (WMF) will both be traveling for research the next few weeks, so they may be slow to respond.)

Branding and marketing[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of Heather (WMF). 21:32, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Branding and marketing

The FDC is concerned that several parts of the WMF plan are focused on marketing and branding projects. Marketing is not a stand-alone activity and it needs to be connected with a community of volunteers that are ready and able to support a community of readers and editors. Moreover, some parts (e.g., brand review and marketing campaigns) appear to be pre-empting the movement strategy.

On marketing[edit]

We agree with the FDC that marketing is not a stand-alone activity. The marketing pilots proposed for FY17-18 are fundamentally directed by the communities they serve and integrated within strategic goals for the Wikimedia movement. This is not just at a consultative level; community groups in our proposed marketing work are involved from initial kick-off meetings, to considering the media formats needed, to collaborating on creative development and distribution. We believe this approach ensures that messaging and use-cases will align to community needs and that the produced video and creative assets can be widely reused.

How our communities direct and use marketing[edit]

Our model for community marketing/messaging projects has been prototyped in 3 projects during FY16-17. Each began with a clear call from the Wikimedia community for promotional or explanatory media — high-production assets that could be used in digital media, events, and TV — to introduce Wikipedia to unfamiliar audiences.

In Iraq, the request came from the Iraqi Wikimedian leaders who wished to support their Wikipedia Zero partnership with a promotional video. In Nigeria and India, the needs were initially evidenced in New Readers research, as 73% of Indians and 75% of Nigerians were documented to have no familiarity with Wikipedia. These findings were then discussed at regional conferences, WikConference India and Wiki Indaba, resulting in community-coordinated calls for marketing pilots and awareness-building training.

The marketing pilots are following a 7-step process. After establishing a clear definition of challenge, each pilot begins with a survey to community groups (via Village Pumps, Social Media groups, and mailing lists) to establish how (in what words, images, etc.) and where (which media channels, which types of media) we should explain Wikipedia. Then we work with regional community leaders to establish a marketing “task force” — a 5 person set of volunteers who will review all of the creative ideas to make sure they are appropriate for the region and the community’s needs.

In India, we had more than 320 responses to our messaging survey and are about to coordinate our community marketing task force. In Nigeria, our community marketing taskforce meet together on WhatsApp and Skype to share thoughts about possible creative ideas (even actor choices) to make sure the work is right. In Iraq, we have worked closely with several community leaders to review storyboards, music, and titles. We’re very excited to continue this collaborative effort to achieve organizational goals hand in hand with the community, and aligned to regional needs.

On brand and identity work[edit]

Regarding the question about brand work pre-empting the movement strategy — we believe that at this time we have a unique opportunity to invest in the Wikimedia brands in coordination with the movement strategy. Our brands, including the trademarks, are one of the movement’s most valuable aspects after our volunteers themselves, and represent their incredible contribution to humanity through content and editorial processes. The brands reflect the trust and goodwill of hundreds of millions of users and millions of donors and contributors and have a value estimation in the billions of dollars. Despite their ability to encourage people to contribute to and utilize our projects, the Foundation has never made a significant investment in brand development and perception, and we’ve only begun to explore awareness.

The brand and identity work is intended to complement and incorporate the movement strategy status and progress. We don’t know exactly how that will play out, as movement strategy is not complete and the brand project itself has not started. Initializing the brand strategy discussion concurrently with the movement strategy process creates an opportunity to build the two together, integrating brand development into our future strategy.

The proposed brand and identity initiative intends to achieve several outcomes, in full support of the Movement Strategy. These include:

  • Brand audit: review our brand's market position, competitors, consumer perceptions, and global market variance
  • Brand architecture: review the ecosystem of brand participants, from volunteer editors, to donors, to press, to readers, to Foundation teams
  • Brand story: review overarching brand value, what must all regions share versus what can be and should be localized
  • Brand recommendations: review and determine how the brand could be improved, adjusted, repositioned to succeed through 2030
  • Brand element updates: react to findings and recommendations – how can design and messaging go to work on behalf of our brand?

We have deliberately budgeted this work as external services, as the Foundation does not have the full-time staff to support the scope of this work. We have also found through experience that external parties are often able to bring a wide range of comparative experiences, healthy perspective and remove, a user-centric process, and additional capacity and expertise.

The three primary external costs covered under this budget are:

  • Costs for contractors and agencies to redesign, a key fundraising property
  • Contractors, agencies, and/or consulting firms to facilitate several phases of a brand and identity project including: brand audit, architecture, story, recommendations and elements
  • Project management to facilitate the program

SMART goals[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of JVillagomez (WMF) 23:09, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

SMART goals

Setting clear goals is key to defining what the organization is planning to achieve, providing a baseline for evaluating the results, and adjusting the direction as needed. Although this plan lists goals, objectives and milestones, in most cases these lack targets and overall are not SMART. The FDC recommends that the WMF have a set of metrics and SMART goals they will use and report on for the duration of the new strategic plan so that year over year comparisons of progress will be possible, and to ensure that the work is continuously impactful.

We agree with the intent of clear goals and predictive metrics. We expect movement strategy will help us generate stronger predictive metrics for future Annual Plans. We also believe that how and when we use goals, objectives, and milestones to motivate successful impact is equally important, but we note that the Foundation's programs do not directly produce impact in the metrics used for other organizations. These are namely the metrics of participants, newly registered, and content pages. When it does, it is through its support of individuals, groups, and organizations that develop the activities allowing the tracking of these metrics.

In other cases, we are engaging in work that is strategic and by nature speculative. In these instances, the objectives are necessarily less measurable, as the specifics will evolve in response to proper scoping during the development of the program. This scoping will generally occur as part of Q1 efforts, following the approval of the annual plan. These more refined (SMART) objectives and milestones will be what is monitored and reported against during the upcoming year as part of our quarterly check-ins.

@Kbrown (WMF) and JVillagomez (WMF): This is unacceptable. The WMF, as the biggest movement entity, should be leading the way with defining metrics and measuring its activity to *make sure* that the money it is spending is making the most impact it can. It shouldn't just say "we'll define these later" - it should be using these to inform its planning work. It's OK to reject the defined metrics, but it's not OK to fail to replace them with something that is more relevant, either by improving the defined metrics (they were set by the WMF for the other movement entities in the first place!) and/or by defining new ones. This is not a new issue - it's been a recurring one over many years, and the WMF's impact and funding over the years hasn't been measurable and justifiable as a result - and it is something that needs to urgently be fixed. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:20, 30 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Annual planning[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of Katherine (WMF). 23:13, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Annual planning

The FDC requests that the WMF complete the entire FDC application form for its deliberations in order to have sufficient detail to understand the annual plan and budget. In addition, significantly more background information on each project, clear budget breakdowns, and annual plan narratives for each program would be useful.

Every year we confront how to balance transparency and accountability with the significant investment of staff time required to produce detailed accounting for individual staff activities. We believe that the most significant, strategic, high-impact, or new activities are those that should receive the greatest attention in annual plan reporting, rather than detailed explanations of day-to-day work that is already largely familiar to the community and Board.

Our intent with the annual plan is to give the FDC and Board enough information to understand the scope of new work and major projects. To that end, we welcome feedback on what is most helpful information about those types (new, significant, cross-departmental, strategic) of work, so that we can improve reviewer understanding or planning clarity.

@Kbrown (WMF) and Katherine (WMF): Basically what you are saying with this whole response to the FDC recommendations is that there have been misunderstandings about the WMF's plans that are fixable by providing a bit more info on each of the criticised lines. Although I don't think that is the right approach to have taken (there needs to be direct changes in the plans as a result of these recommendations), this seems like a strong indication that the WMF did not provide enough information in the first place, and that the balance was not right here. Please, look at the other movement entity annual plans, and learn from them about the right level of detail to share in an annual plan. Talk to your grants department about the expectations that are currently being set (and if they are too high at the moment, then maybe they should be revised across the movement). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:30, 30 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Board governance[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of Katherine (WMF). 21:44, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]


Last year the FDC recommended that the WMF Board undertake a governance review, given the situation it was in at the time. The FDC understands that this work will be starting soon, and looks forward to reading the results.

Yes, the Board has agreed to a plan to undertake a governance review, and we expect that the review will be initiated in the first half of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The FDC and community can expect a more extensive briefing prior to the governance review kick-off.

Interesting, thanks. Nemo 17:35, 4 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Staffing allocations[edit]

Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of Katherine (WMF). 21:44, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Staffing allocations

Staffing allocation across the different parts of the WMF does not appear to be commensurate with impact. In particular, Community Engagement seems to be understaffed relative to the impact it can, and does, make. It is not clear whether staffing changes are being consistently assessed across the different departments.

We agree that there are questions about whether departments are adequately staffed; however this is a separate question from the distribution of staffing. In developing this plan, department leads met several times to discuss our immediate needs and priorities to ensure that distribution made the most sense with gaps and strategic goals. In this plan, Community Engagement has been allocated additional staff capacity for our high-priority programs, including Structured Data, Community Health, and Movement Strategy. These do not show as new headcount in the plan, as these were added in the last several quarters or are being hired now. We expect future allocation of staff to be heavily influenced by directions developed as a result of the current Movement Strategy.


Note: This section posted by Kbrown (WMF) on behalf of Katherine (WMF). 23:39, 24 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]


The FDC would like to single out the cross-departmental "Anti-harassment program" for particular praise. Harassment in Wikimedia projects is a well known but poorly understood issue. Addressing this - both culturally and technically - is a key priority set by the WMF Board and the FDC wishes to lend its weight to supporting this prioritisation. The FDC wishes to thank the Community Tech, Research and especially the Support & Safety teams for their work in this area. Not only is tackling the complex issues of online harassment important for the health of the Wikimedia movement, but also for online communities in general. Just as Wikimedia is seen as a beacon for free-culture and fact-based civil discourse, the Wikimedia Foundation is now in a position to become a leader in responding to this critical issue of online harassment.

Without diminishing the good work of the other WMF teams, the FDC would also like to particularly praise those involved in "Privacy, Security, and Data Management" activities, the "Structured Data" project, the "Community Wishlist" and those working on the new "Movement Strategy". Respectively: while other major websites suffered from highly visible security breaches, leaks and outages over the last year, the Wikimedia Foundation has not - thanks to its good security planning and prevention measures, and prudent data centre management and software maintenance. The Structured Data project is important not only for how it will integrate two powerful projects so that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, but also for creating a best-practice model obtaining restricted-grant funding. The work with the Community Wishlist is particularly noteworthy, as it directly and responsively addresses the technical improvements that the community itself thinks are most important. And finally, the FDC acknowledges the work done to deliver a new Movement Strategy that is simultaneously widely consultative yet targeted, bold yet inclusive.

Thank you for your note of appreciation. As you have pointed out, we are continuing our focus on programs intended to have significant impact on the longevity of the movement — community health, structured data, privacy, and an overarching strategy to guide us into the future. And we too are pleased with the success in areas like the Community Wishlist, and look forward to new ways of working closely with Wikimedia communities and addressing their needs across the world.

We’d like to add our own appreciation for the work that teams and individuals across the Foundation have put into building these plans for the next year. And we are excited for the work that is already underway and informing the evolution of these efforts, including movement strategy. We’ve seen so many people go above and beyond in this past year, particularly where new plans emerged or grew in unexpected ways.

The Wikimedia Foundation is part of the movement, and as staff we get to see each other’s passion and commitment every day. We are excited by the increased impact we have while working together across our communities. In the area of movement strategy, people have been adding hours to support and collaborate on these outcomes that are important to us — to create the best future possible, to build a strong and enduring trust with collaborators and readers, and to actively work to bring in voices who aren’t yet part of the movement.

Wikimédia France's response to FDC's recommendation on WMFr's proposal[edit]

This answer was elaborated by the Board of Wikimédia France, Nathalie Martin (ED) and Cyrille Bertin (deputy ED). It reflects our common position about the FDC's evaluation of our funding proposal. Just like the Wikimedia Foundation above, we will respond to some specific points and concerns in the forthcoming sections.

On behalf of Wikimédia France,

EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Secretary of the Board

Commensurability of results with funding[edit]

Wikimédia France has not achieved results commensurate with the amount of funding received, as identified in the past two Fund Dissemination Committee recommendations.

— Fund Dissemination Committee recommendation

Wikimédia France duly notes the Fund Dissemination Committee’s critics on this point, despite the fact that we reach our objectives every year. In that case, we ask the Fund Dissemination Committee to define, for every affiliate, the SMART objectives they deem commensurate with the funding requested.

We also want to point out that the Wikimedia Foundation only proposes impact metrics that count participants or bytes, and thus that the Fund Dissemination Committee seems to evaluate programs only against these rather short-sighted metrics. As does the Wikimedia Foundation, we underline the fact that not all our programs have a direct, measurable influence on content or contributors. In fact, only one of our three main programs can be assessed in a more or less relevant way by the proposed metrics. Does the lack of indicators of Wikimédia France’s impact on contributor communities or social environment mean this impact is null?

The first consequence of such drastically reduced funding would be abandoning actions whose impact is not measurable by the Fund Dissemination Committee’s global metrics. Wikimédia France would have to cancel any funded participation, be it of volunteers, staff or Board members, not only to domestic or international events like the upcoming Wikimania in Montreal or hackathons and conventions, but also to fairs and salons even though they are a useful way for Wikimédia France to promote and publicise the movement.

Wikimédia France also reckons the cost of measuring impact must be appropriate. We absolutely agree with the Fund Dissemination Committee in saying the distributed funds must have an impact: we refuse to siphon an excessive amount of these funds into paid work of collecting indicators or producing tools for measuring impact. Though, we held these year several workshops with social impacts experts from other for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in France. Sadly, none of these produced any operable, appropriate metric beside media mentions, and left us disappointed. We therefore invite the Fund Dissemination Committee to evaluate and take into account the cost of reporting in their recommendations, and the Wikimedia Foundation to provide a wider range of metrics to capture all of the programs’ impact.

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]

Difficulty to track progress, inadequate grantee defined metrics[edit]

Wikimédia France has integrated and reorganized their progress from the current year through the lens of this upcoming year's grant metrics, making it difficult to track and understand current progress against their objectives.

— Staff assessment

Press mentions are irrelevant as a metric. Previous metrics were more appropriate.

— FDC recommendation

Press mentions have been reported since our first grand request and have not warranted any comment so far: we are surprised they suddenly cause an uproar.

Partner satisfaction and number of files supported by Wikimédia France, reported these past two years, are not applicable to the entirety of our programs and have not been included in the grantee defined metrics. We acknowledge the Fund Dissemination Committee’s demand and will reuse the satisfaction questionnaires.

We still measure volunteer work in our structure because it is an accounting requirement. We will reintegrate this indicator in our reporting by program.

We also acknowledge the Fund Dissemination Committee’s demand to use the same indicators for the whole process, from the grant request to the final impact report. The implementation of ‘3 shared + 2 grantee defined metrics’ at the start of this year without redefining our objectives was an oversight and misrepresents our results for 2016-2017. We do however ask the Fund Dissemination Committee to clarify their expectations regarding metrics for each round. Our half-year impact report already made use of the ‘3+2’ metrics and this inconsistency was not pointed out by the Fund Dissemination Committee program officer.

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]

Increasing reliance on APG[edit]

FDC recommendationWikimédia France's proposal has become even more reliant on requests for increasing the Fund Dissemination Committee allocation compared to 2015-16, despite only a small increase in Wikimédia France's overall budget. This is despite the Fund Dissemination Committee recommendation in 2015-16 that they increase their efforts to secure other funding sources.

— FDC recommendation

Wikimédia France has been alerting the Wikimedia Foundation for years about the negative impact of its fundraising campaign on Wikimédia France's ability to raise funds of its own, yet neither the Wikimedia Foundation nor the Fund Dissemination Committee acknowledge that their objectives are in opposition. While the Fund Dissemination Committee requires us to be less reliant on its funding, the Wikimedia Foundation prevents us from complying by competing for donors and luring them in with the prospect of tax concessions that are not applicable to donations outside of France. Therefore, we demand once again that the Wikimedia Foundation either steps out of France for its fundraising or give their best efforts to help Wikimédia France raise funds.

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]

  • I think this part touches the most significant pain point. Despite years of strong demands on Talk:Fundraising and elsewhere, the Wikimedia Foundation is still unable to measure or even qualitatively assess the cost/harm (negative externalities) of its fundraising campaigns on the local Wikimedia projects, let alone the corresponding communities, affiliates and initiatives. I'm not sure whether WMFR's assessment or demands are correct, but what's sad is that no counterargument exists. Much like oil companies in the 1960s, we're pumping and burning more and more oil, and congratulating ourselves for the increased energy output at the end of the line, while forgetting to take the future into any consideration. Nemo 17:45, 4 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Concerns about governance issues[edit]

There are also important concerns about the governance of Wikimédia France […] which is nearly half of the 9 elected positions. It is difficult to understand how a volunteer board can be "operating normally" when 44% of the elected board members have left

— FDC recommendation

We have to object that 10 (instead of 9) of the 12 seats were filled before the resignations.

Wikimédia France is a robust organisation with an executive direction who manages day-to-day operations: these resignations from the board have no direct impact on its operational capability. The board of trustees has a strategic role and its peak activity is ahead of the grant request to the Fund Dissemination Committee. Since the departures happened after the grant request was finalised, their impact on Wikimédia France’s strategic vision is not critical. The timing on establishing the movement’s strategy gives our association time enough to rebuild a larger Board at the next general assembly and by cooptation (two persons already joined the Board).

Among the four persons who have left, two were at the start of their first term and had not yet taken on important responsibilities. The executive committee (president, treasurer and secretary) has been stable for several months and remains unchanged.

Two new Board members were appointed (after discussions that started just after last general assembly), bringing the Board back to eight persons till our next general assembly. International announcement is to come very soon now.

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]

  • If possible, I find this rebuttal even more concerning than the original analysis of the FDC. Wikimedia France does not seem to recognize that having 4 out of 9 board members resign is a major political problem, especially given that the board has supervisory duties. No General Meeting of the members seems to have been called to address the situation and respond to criticism of the members.
I would be less concerned about operational capacity, but rather about the fact that almost half the board members found the situation so dire, that they could only see resignation as a reasonable exit. On top of this, there seems to be an uproar among committee members and regional groups that reinforce this worrying signal (for example Rhone-Alpes). Effeietsanders (talk) 22:29, 16 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]
At Wikimedia France, each working thematic group has two leaders, called referent. One is the voluntary leader (who is a member of the association) and the other is a staff member. The full list of working groups and their referents maybe found here. There are also local groups, which generally covers geographical regions. Each local group has a referent as well, who is the official contact point of the group.
On the 08th of June, Pyb resigned from his mandates of referent of groups Photos (thematic group) and Ile de France (local group - Paris area).
On the 09th of June, Sylvain M. resigned from his mandate of referent for the group WLM (thematic group).
On the 12th of June, Mathis B resigned from his mandate of referent for the group "Bordeaux" (local group)
On the 15th of June, Lyokoi resigned from his mandate of referent for the group "Lyon" (local group) and the local group decided its independence with regards to Wikimedia France ([1])
On the 20th of June, Litlok resigned from his mandates of referent for the groups Education and Research and University (thematic groups) (Twitter announcement)
On the 23rd of June, Vigneron resigned from his mandates of referent for the groups Communication (thematic group) and Rennes (local group) [2]
On the 1st of July, Psychoslave resigned from his mandates of referent for the local group Alsace. [3]
(Overview added by Anthere and Litlok)

Concerns about staffing model[edit]

The Fund Dissemination Committee is also concerned about the recently-revised staffing model of Wikimédia France, where all 9 staff report to a deputy executive director, and the only position reporting to the executive director is the deputy.

— FDC recommendation

First off, it seems to us the Fund Dissemination Committee is overstepping its bounds when it makes the funding of an affiliate contingent on its evaluation of their organisational structure. Indeed, operational organisation of the staff is the employer’s exclusive prerogative. By interfering on this issue the Fund Dissemination Committee puts the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimédia France at a substantial risk of being recognised as co-employers by the French justice.

Anyway, the organizational chart mostly displays hierarchical accountability. Most of our staff actually operates on every program. As we pointed out in our submission, the deputy ED will take on day-to-day office operation to allow our ED to focus on our “promotion & protection of Wikimedia projects” program.

Secondly, we want to again point out that only one of the six employees mentioned by the Fund Dissemination Committee actually resigned. Two left at the end of their fixed-term contract (French service civil) and three left voluntarily (mutually agreed severance) to pursue other projects or advance their careers: employees are not leaving en masse because of abuse or harmful treatment. An audit of our human resources management was carried out by an outside firm in 2015 and they reported we treat our employees well. Furthermore, we have had no health related absences among the staff (either long or short) except one employee’s maternity leave.

Finally, the Fund Dissemination Committee voices concerns regarding the salaries of affiliates’ employees and is worried about excessive turnover. It is therefore paradoxical that the Fund Dissemination Committee is willing to fund only 50% of our payroll for next year and in doing so to hinge the continued employment of our staff and the very survival of Wikimédia France upon a successful future fundraiser. Yet, as we mentioned earlier, the Wikimedia Foundation is eroding year after year our ability to call upon public generosity by using questionable methods and undermining the movement’s image among French donors.

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]

  • That's helpful context. For further context: given a 67% overall turnover, could you sketch how large the overall turnover was in previous years, and whether the board saw any reason to conduct (confidential) exit interviews and/or repeat the external audit from 2015? While I agree that it's a bit detailed for the FDC to comment on this level - the concerns expressed on other topics may warrant to look a bit further than usual. Effeietsanders (talk) 22:38, 16 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Recommendation of a governance review[edit]

Given these concerns, the Funds Dissemination Committee recommends that Wikimédia France undergo a governance review that includes review of board member orientation and retention processes; board and organizational policies including removal of board members and management of conflicts of interest; and the appropriateness of the staffing model.

— FDC recommendation

Wikimédia France has adopted several years ago a board handbook which is a close adaptation of the Wikimedia Foundation's. Wikimédia France also adopted a COI policy in 2015 that required the resignation of several board members, up until 2017. Are we to understand that this policy is too severe, given the concerns it raises about Wikimédia France's governance?

(Statement by WMFR - through EdouardHue (talk) 21:28, 1 June 2017 (UTC))[reply]