Grants talk:IdeaLab/Reimagining WMF grants

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Reimagining WMF grants

Idea Discussion

This space is for discussion about the proposed changes to WMF grants programs. We also invite suggestions for other concrete ways WMF can improve grants structures and better support Wikimedia communities. Responses in any language are welcome.

Discussion resources:

The following WMF employee is active on this page:


Based on your own experience with grants, what do you like about this new structure?[edit]

  • Merging IEG with PEG (similar ways of measuring impact), addition of simpler micro grant and "light APG" options — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • A good step in eliminating the confusion between IEG and PEG. Event micro funds with a clear (and small) funding limit. Tying simplicity of applying/reporting to funding amount and type. -Thepwnco (talk) 23:50, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Change can be a good thing. At the English Wikiversity, we received an announcement with the title: "How can we improve Wikimedia grants to support you better?" Based on my experience with applying for grants, the new structure is a rearrangement of the old structure. By this I mean the new structure has already been prepared and now we are here to like it. The real question is still there "How can we improve Wikimedia grants to support you better?" but the opportunity to do so has already been taken away. The real change comes in understanding that grants for original research whether successful or unsuccessful or somewhere in between let people know that the wikimedia movement can include them. Grants for OR are risky. But, the granting of such research greatly endorses and spreads the wikimedia movement by being there. Every funding agency faces the same problem: how granting funding for original research project ORP1 will increase the reputation of the funding agency. NSF worries about what Congress will think. WMF worries about what donators will think. --Marshallsumter (talk) 22:56, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • The new process separates out the more complex grants seeking restricted annual grants from the less complicated project and event type grants. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 19:37, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
  • J'apprécie le souhait de simplicité et le maintient des micros finanancement. Lionel Scheepmans Contact 20:53, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
  • We appreciate the reduction of reporting requirements (every semester compared to every quarter). It makes it less heavy for staff members who can dedicate more time in supporting volunteers' action. We also appreciate the fact that volunteers take part in the overall process. It is also still great to know that there is an opportunity to ask for an additional grant (a PEG for example) even if you're on an APG. It gives flexibility to seize opportunities based on volunteers' motivation -- Anne-Laure WMFr (talk) 15:18, 4 September 2015 (UTC) on behalf of Wikimédia France
    Anne-Laure, it's important to note that project grants are only available orgs receiving full process APGs by invitation, and that this would only be considered in special circumstances. This isn't a change from the way we currently do things. For example, we currently allow organizations receiving APGs to get grants to organize movement-wide conferences and this will continue. We also allow organizations receiving APGs to get project grants to do legislative work in cases where we can't fund that through APG. In cases where a new opportunity came up, organizations receiving general support would need to adjust their own budgets to support those opportunities rather than request additional project funding. We do want to make sure there is more flexibility for those receiving simpler process APGs, since those grants are restricted, and we're thinking through how to best do that (through project grants or through an easy way to request additional funding as part of the simpler process APG). Cheers, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 19:11, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • The new Project Grants system seems good, and an improvement on the previous system. Key things from my perspective are:
    • having enough slack in the grants team to have the time to develop relationships with the grantees & understand their projects.
    • not making the writing up process too onerous or rigid. For software especially, consider how documentation is treated in agile, e.g.
Thanks for all your work! EdSaperia (talk) 17:19, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks for putting this together and for all the work that has gone into this proposal and process as well as the hangout last week. ;) In general, we think that the WMF grants processes are exemplary. They have developed very well over the previous years and we really value all the time and effort the committee and staff members put into these processes. We have experienced a lot of support, high responsiveness and fruitful exchange in the course of the previous years and are thankful for the trustful collaboration. :) More comments below and on the Visioning page. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 21:12, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Based on your own experience with grants, what are your concerns with this new structure?[edit]

  • Distinctions are unclear as always, I don't see what this is supposed to improve. Why are growth funds for "a project that has demonstrated significant impact with seed funding"? What about a project that has already been run and has grown, without WMF funding: would that be ineligible just because WMF didn't previously fund it? --Nemo 05:25, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
    @Nemo bis: Thanks for bringing that example to our attention. We agree that projects that have already shown demonstrable growth and impact should be eligible for Growth funds, regardless of whether they have received Seed funding already. I’ve revised the language around this accordingly in the proposal. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 17:56, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • A number of concerns:
    • Overly complicated system. 7 types of grants instead of 4 is not a simplification.
    • Unclear classification: the distinction between projects and events is even less obvious than distinction between PEG and IEG
    • Creation of very wide event grants project, covering everything from a travel scholarship for organising a workshop in a neighbouring town to organising Wikimedia Conference
    • Applications for projects are quarterly but not rolling. This means that one might have to apply 3 or 4 months in advance in order to get funds on time. This is probably the main reason why IEG did not become popular, and Inspire campaign did not have a positive impact on PEG grants (too many applications in January took too long to review)
    • Unclear committee structure: we need essentially three GACs and one FDC instead of one GAC and one FDC. Getting new active GAC members is already a challenge, and I wonder how we can get three times more members.
    • Finally, I do not see how Processes are too complicated and rigid issue is addressed: seems like processes will become even more complicated, as instead of simplification we seem to get even more bureaucracy by creating of new committees, new application and reporting forms etc. — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • My main concern is that it isn't solving the issues we have with the current system, but instead is creating new and more issues that frustrate grant requesters. Romaine (talk) 02:54, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Based on my experience with grants from DoE and DoD, WMF still is having trouble facing its fears. We received a solicitation headed by "How can we improve Wikimedia grants to support you better?" and the improvements are a rearrangement. Please feel free to ask before you rearrange. Wikiversity conducts original research. Some of it is considered high risk. Not because it will fail, but because it challenges traditional perceptions that appear to be either wrong or misguided. Entrenched dogmatists say "No!" to funding because they want things to remain their way, not because they want to learn about reality. There are ways to mitigate or modulate high risk. Try asking next time. --Marshallsumter (talk) 23:06, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I understand that these process changes reflect the way that Grants has evolved to working with grants now, like giving first time IEG grantee a smaller amount of money to start the project and then renewing if it is progressing. While this makes good sense, I have concerns that the criteria for Seed funds and Growth funds are artificial and limiting, and it would be better to have project specific seed money and time frames for individual projects instead of these standard ones. Standardizing the amount and time frame seems problematic with the wide range of projects that are handled in many areas of the world. Instead, I would set the expectation that new ideas or less experienced individuals and teams will get seed money tailored to their project. Also, the amount of the grant may not always be the best way to determine if a project should be eligible for a micro grant or seed grant. So, there needs to be screening criteria to move the grant to seed funding if the project is more complicated and would benefit from review by a committee or framework that better evaluates and helps with project management. While there are benefits to moving more grant requests from rolling to quarterly, I'm concerned about managing the work concentrated around set dates. Additionally, there needs to be a way to have crisp communication between committees, grantees, and WMF staff bout all the various projects and events done by a group or organization, especially if they are receiving a restricted annual plan grant and also project and event grants. Ideally, all of the plans and grant requests from one person, group, or organization would be linked together to make if easier to understand their status. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 20:57, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Cette nouvelle stucture n'apporte aucune solution à deux problèmes fondamentaux liés à la gestion de l'argent donner à la fondation.
  1. La gestion de l'agent reste centralisée par institution unique située dans un seul pays alors que les dons proviennent de nombreux pays. Cette centralisation entraine toute une séries de dérives profitables aux personnes proches de cette association, soit d'un point de vue linguistique, soit d'un point de vue culturel, soit encore d'un point de vue relationnel et géographique.
  2. Une bourse refusée à une personne de bonne foi et pleine de bonnes intentions peut suscité découragement voir un arrêt ou une diminution au niveau de sa contribution au sein des projets. (voir à ce sujet cette conversation sans réponse) Lionel Scheepmans Contact 20:53, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

I think Lionel in his own way has a valid point. WMF should consider wether itś not an idea to set up continental offices like USCAN, Lat-Am or Ibercoop, SE-Asia and AUSNZ, Blacksea area, Afika, EU. with a certain financial independance to fund certain project for that region. --DerekvG (talk) 17:23, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

  • I think at first sight this threefold segmentation sounds very straightforward, but if you read further and then see the inner segmentation, it is getting more complicated. I know that this is very challenging, but it might make sense to reduce this segmentation and choose a more general approach. At WMDE, we have recently streamlined our support into one program for volunteer projects. The guidelines, structures and programs are developed and updated with and by volunteers and jointly reviewed at at in-person meetings every six months. These offline efforts are connected over time through continuous on-wiki participation formats. Guidelines, project development tools, related discussions, as well as a list of recently supported projects are documented at de:WP:FÖ (see our progress report for more information on how we handle our own grants programs). --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 20:50, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
    Interesting ideas, Nicole. Are you suggesting here that we don't segment the grant types at all and have the same committee review all grant applications? Would there be a single application form for all grants? Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 21:54, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
    Hi Winifred. Thanks for your quick response. I am not sure if this exactly would be a feasible solution, and I know that you have already put a lot of thinking into the new model. I mainly wanted to provide a different perspective and insights to another approach. One of the ideas that had been suggested when I collected the input over at WMDE was a segmentation into Wikimedia volunteer project grants and movement organization grants. I am happy to gather further input on this specific thought and share it with you in the coming days. Cheers, --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 22:17, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
    Sounds interesting. Yes, we also put some thought into whether it would make sense to have separate grant types for individual volunteers and organizations but for the most part we thought that wasn't the most important distinction for most types of grants. Thanks for sharing your perspectives! Any more thoughts you can share in the next few days are appreciated :) Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 22:50, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Based on your own experience with grants, how would you improve this idea for reimagining grants?[edit]

  • Clarify your intentions. In short, you want to abolish TPS grants and add another pseudo-PEG grant type? Or TPS are not being abolished? If the point is just "we want to add another grant process in addition to the others", just say so without all those turns of words. --Nemo 05:25, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I would keep TPS separate (if it ain't broke, don't fix it), merge back projects and events (no clear distinction between those) and remove distinction between seed and growth (there is no clear need for it). Instead, I would suggest expanding micro option to both projects and events (low-budget projects need simpler review) and I would reduce number of committees and increase their influence on final decision instead — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
@Nemo bis: and @NickK: thanks for letting us know that the status of TPS isn't clear. It is good to hear you feel TPS is working well! We think so too, although I'd like to figure out how we can spread the word about it more, since there are still a pretty low number of requests. Integrating it more into conversations w/ event organizers may be one possibility. Our idea is not at all to abolish TPS, but use it as the base for growing travel grants out more systematically. In this vision, TPS would remain, but live under a more integrated umbrella w/ event grants. We can look for better ways to express this Siko (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): Thanks for your comment. If TPS works well (and it does, especially considering that Wikimania scholarships are a part of it), we should make it more visible but not merge it into something else. I do not think that it has a lot of things in common with grants for organising events, on the contrary, it has very different workflow and impact (different applicants, different goals, different measures of success). I can imagine it in two ways: either TPS keeps a separate workflow (and this means that we increase complexity and the "simplification" is a myth) or TPS requests are processed the same way as large event grants (and this mean we get a too generic system which does not take into account any particularities). To be honest, I do not think which one is better — NickK (talk) 23:50, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
  • My understanding is that new Project grants will still cover Event-type activities (grantee travel, support for hosting a workshop or series of workshops, etc). so long as they are focused on impact and a key part of experimenting with a new idea (for example Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia's workshops or conference travel to promote WikiBrain to research communities). Based on other comments on this page, however, I am not sure that this distinction is clear. -Thepwnco (talk) 00:07, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Merge Event Grants with Project Grants, the difference is too artificial and too complex. Romaine (talk) 02:51, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
@Thepwnco: your understanding matches mine. Will take a look at how to clarify further on the idea. And @Romaine:, hearing your concerns loud and clear - thank you for sharing them! We'll be looking through the 100+ survey responses as well to see how many others feel similarly and I expect this is an area we'll need to give more thought to and report back on after the consultation. The idea of having a separate track for Event Grants was really not intended to introduce an artificial separation between projects that have some in-person-event component and projects that do not, though I can see why you would interpret it this way. Both of those are still projects, from my perspective, so perhaps the labels are wrong for Projects vs Events, in this idea. Our idea of Event Grants would really be to provide much clearer support and guidance for things like WikiConferences, that don't have other activities (campaigns, larger projects, etc) associated with them. The GAC reviews lots of conference applications, and it does not seem to be working well to have them in the same queue as other projects (including WLM) right now. So we thought that creating a different setup for events would allow us to make a simpler and more tailored application, review and reporting system for people organizing these conferences, and start to streamline how we support all of the movement's different conferences. Right now we fund Wikimania 1 way, Wikimedia Conference another way, Wikiconferences a third way, etc. One of the reasons that TPS works well is that we have tailored the program so we only ask people what they really need to tell us - we know they need travel funds, and that simplifies things for everyone. In the case of conferences, we know people need lots of standard things, and we may be able to provide better support outside of a system designed to fund a super wide range of projects. Hope that makes a bit more sense? If not, let's revisit this as more perspectives come in. Thanks! Siko (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): We have indicated a problem with the setup, you describe the origin, but I think there is a very simple solution to be found. Why not just creating a conference grant type? In the setup in the proposal it is made so complicated, while it can be so simple. Romaine (talk) 22:15, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
@Romaine: yes, I've just updated "large events" to "conferences" so hopefully that's clearer now. Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 16:32, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Je vois plusieurs possibilités d'amélioration du système de bourse :
  1. Décentralisé la gestion des bourses au niveau local via les associations nationales (chapter). Ceci aurait pour avantage d'avoir une proximité linguistique, culturelle et géographique qui permettrait une meilleur évaluation et un meilleur suivit des demandes tout en facilitant les rencontres en face à face rendant le processus plus humain et moins frustrateur en cas de refus.
  2. Mettre en place un système de parrainage pour les personnes ayant des projets intéressant sans avoir la connaissance suffisante de l'anglais ou le temps nécessaire pour déposer et suivre une demande.
  3. Mettre en place un système proacrif de distribution de fond via une prospection au sein de utilisateurs les plus actifs et les plus méritant. Par exemple offre une aide financière pour différents accès à l'information à un photographe ou un rédacteur productif et talentueux ou encore payer des frais de formation ou de scolarité à des élèves ou chercheurs très actifs et productif au sein des projets. Etc.

Lionel Scheepmans Contact 20:53, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

@Lionel Scheepmans: Thanks for your suggestions here, Lionel. I agree that having support during the application process is important. We currently match grantees up with mentors to help them through different parts of the program, and we want to expand this support in this new system. We haven’t tested this out as part of the application process, but it’s an interesting idea.
We agree that local grants offer a lot of benefits, and so it is important that funding from the WMF complement grants from local organizations rather than replace them. Good community discussion across multiple languages is a big challenge, but in this reimagined grants program, requests can be written in the applicant’s native language (with the exception for Full Process APGs). We have already accepted such requests in Spanish and Arabic. If you have more ideas about how we can make grants more accessible in more languages, please let us know. Thanks! I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 09:42, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
  • We think that in general, grantmakers need to be aware of the fact that many thematically restricted projects also need funding for overhead costs. Organizations need a backbone to achieve their goals (referring to Collective Impact). Project support without the opportunity to get funding for overhead costs threatens the long-term perspective of impact driven movement organizations.
We would like to engage in conversations regarding the complementing grants programs of local organizations (mentioned for the event grants, but imho also applicable for project grants). We could either think of a joint grant program with local responsibilities (e.g. grant requests from DE community members come in through a central interface and are then reviewed and funded by WMDE) or at least better consultations and sharing of advice between the grant making bodies in each affected organization to avoid stepping on each other toes. Co-financing (mixture of e.g. WMF and WMDE) would also be an option to consider here, as are closer interlockings of the grantmaking tools like WMF's idealab and WMDE's idea portal.
What we are trying to improve is the sustainability of events in general. Would be good if you made sure in the grant process that event organizers are encouraged to embed events into long-term goals and to connect them to other events, projects and people. Create events to be the climax of engagement rather than a singular happening. :)
General funding has been very important for us in the past for our long term capacity building and differentiation of our programs and activities. Although we had the feeling that these funds are not always understood as unrestricted by the FDC and FDC staff. For larger organizations in terms of size and budget with a declining proportion of APG funds of their overall budget, a somewhat more restricted approach (apart from the suggested "simpler process for up to $100,000 for 6-12 months") might be more feasible.
Please note that I have also added several lines of comments to the Visioning page. --Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 20:04, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for these thoughtful comments, Nicole . We think the point about WMF grants complementing chapter grants for projects as well as events is a great one, and we look forward to more conversations about how we can work together. We appreciate your nuanced comments about the benefits of restricted and unrestricted funding for different organizations at different times, and your emphasis on the important of overhead costs of specific projects as well as that included in general organizational support. We also appreciate WMDE's leadership in driving more sustainable, higher impact events, and we hope we can continue to seek your thoughts as we're developing the Conference funding option. Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 21:52, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
  • It isn't clear to me whether the reimagined grants will continue to by inclusive of grant proposals to conduct research. I assume if they did, they would fall under Prroject Grants - Seed funds? It would be great to make these things explicit. Libcub (talk) 19:27, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
@Libcub: thanks for sharing these thoughts. Yes, research would still be included as a kind of project we can fund. And agreed, this should be made explicit in the redesign. Thanks for the reminder! Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:57, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
  • For what it's worth, as someone who has submitted 2 IEG proposals, 1 funded and 1 not, I did not feel the application process was onerous. On the contrary, it helped me think through my ideas. Libcub (talk) 19:45, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I am very glad to see this project goal: "building more systems to increase non-monetary support (e.g. mentorship)". I think it would be great to provide access to WMF tech staff for grantees. For example, allow grant applications to include money to buy back some time of WMF tech staff for programming. Another idea would be to have a pre-grant (micro?) grant to buy time from WMF technical staff for them to assess the viability of a technical idea, and help figure out costs for the real grant proposal. And this could go beyond technical staff. Perhaps buying an hour of an HR staffperson's time to advise on a hiring process, or someone in marketing to advise on publicity. This could also extend beyond WMF staff to include affiliate staff as relevant. I have a seen several IEG proposals that had a good idea at the core, but it was clear the grant proposer didn't really understand much about the area they were proposing to work in. I think a little help could go a long way. Libcub (talk) 19:59, 8 September 2015 (UTC)
  • (your response here)

How would this new structure provide you as a volunteer, organization, or contributor with the resources that are most important for meeting your Wikimedia-related goals? What is missing?[edit]

  • It might help me by introducing a lightweight APG process. However, it will not be helpful as I will have make applications in three different systems for my needs as a WMUA treasurer: one for project grants (like Wiki Loves Monuments), one for large event grants (like CEE Meeting) and one for lightweight annual plans, while now I use one PEG form for all of those — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • It would not provide me resources I need. And it moves from complicated situation number A to the more complicated situation number B. What is missing is a simple process. Romaine (talk) 02:53, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Ce qui me manque personnellement c'est du temps. J'aurais besoin d'un système de parrainage convivial au lieu d'un système selectif froid appliqué dans une langue autre que ma langue maternelle. Lionel Scheepmans Contact 20:53, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
  • (your response here)

How can we involve committees in reviewing the different types of grants from the Wikimedia Foundation included in this idea?[edit]

  • Probably by making them think that bigger funding decisions are not based on WMF political whims? Just a guess. --Nemo 05:20, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • By giving them more impact on funding decisions, closer to that of FDC where committee approval usually means WMF approval — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm a big fan of the working group model for committees - it's a great way to leverage the expertise/interest of committee members. Where rolling applications are proposed, additional support for committees is required (the application review period is very time-consuming but is expected in advance so at least committee members can plan and schedule accordingly). It might be good to get committees more actively involved in recruitment for other committee members - especially with regards to any future areas of experimentation like IdeaLab Campaigns, Project grant committees need individuals with specific experience/expertise related to particular strategic goals. Another suggestion is to provide training and opportunities for committee members to play a more active role in mentoring and working with grantees to get them from the right door to the right hallway. -Thepwnco (talk) 23:19, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Online Wikimedia project are decentralized by language and target why not making the same with committees ? Lionel Scheepmans Contact 20:53, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

For each grant type that you have experience with, how do the funding limits (maximum amounts available for each grant) affect the kind of work you want to do with grants?[edit]

Funding limits for each grant type and option
Event Grants Micro option up to US$500
Large event Conference Support option No funding limit
Travel option No funding limit
Project Grants Seed option up to US$30K
Growth option up to US$100K
Annual Plan Grants Simpler option up to US$100K
Full option Funding limit not yet set
  • I fully support the $100K limit for simpler APG option, in most cases it is reasonable, although it might be adjusted depending on average salaries (e.g. one FTE in an expensive country like Switzerland or Norway will already consume $50K). I do not understand where limits for project grants are coming from, as there might be successful first-time projects worth over $30K (I immediately though of Grants:PEG/MrjohnCummings/UNESCO Wikimedian in Residence) — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
@NickK: thanks for this input. We did take the UNESCO grant into account when discussing this cap. His ask for 6 months from PEG did come in under 30k, all-told. So far we haven't seen an experimental first-time project that really needed more than 30k in WMF funding to learn whether the idea was successful or not. In IEG, where the 30k limit has existed for some time now, it is very rare that the committee ever recommends funding any first-time project at 30k. I am a fan of piloting at a small scale to learn what works and what doesn't, so creating low risk ways for people to try things and fail is part of how I've been thinking about this. Hope that helps provide some perspective of where this particular limit came from. Other suggestions still welcome in this regard. Siko (WMF) (talk) 21:18, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): Thanks for your answer. It is clear for me now where $30K limit is coming from (IEG is the grant programme I have the worst knowledge of, sorry). Still, the process needs to be clarified: UNESCO is a 12-month project, so what will happen at 6-month point? Given this comment by Alex, I would like to know what will be the renewal process (both providing incomplete report mid-way and having an interruption are unfortunate). Thanks — NickK (talk) 00:26, 29 August 2015 (UTC)
@NickK:, in IEG there is a quick renewal process where a decision can be made w/o much interruption to the project (we designed it to meet the needs of IEG grantees in situations pretty similar to the use-case you're speaking to), once the grantee has reported on early results. I think we can borrow from systems that are already working well there and improve them further as needed for this case, and we can keep your concerns in mind. Defining full processes and systems will be the role of the program officers and the committees, in a planning stage after this consultation on the general idea is over. Siko (WMF) (talk) 16:42, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): Thanks for the explanation. Just to clarify: does this mean that after a successful edition of Wiki Loves Monuments or Wiki Loves Earth a chapter would be automatically eligible for a grant of the same amount? On one hand, that would be a major simplification (less workload, less paperwork), on the other hand, this may cause too high requirements (if we implicitely fund not just one edition of WLM but all following editions of WLM as well) — NickK (talk) 09:59, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
@NickK: I can see that return grantees running standard programs like WLM should go through a quicker process to renew for the same project year-over-year, but I'm not sure it would be best to guarantee funding at the same level. From what we've observed so far, it doesn't look like these projects necessarily need the exact same amount of funding each year. WLM, for example, may start to generate less content over time in a particular country, and in this case we're not sure that offering the same amount of funding each year would be helpful. It might make sense instead for the community to start thinking about the next WikiLoves X that will help fill other content gaps (Wiki Loves Earth, for example), but if a project leader knew they were guaranteed WLM funds at the same amount as last year, that may discourage them to innovate in response to changing circumstances. Your point that committees may start to look at 1 project proposal as a long-term commitment and be more risk-averse in making funding recommendations for initial pilots is also something to keep an eye on. We'll need to design around these concerns as we think through renewals further, so thanks for bringing them up. Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:54, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
  • I also wonder about the $30K limit for seed funds - I think it's a good guideline for the purpose of this consultation but perhaps can be re-visited on a case-by-case depending on the proposal. I'm also wondering about having the renew option for seed funds (instead of just a seed to growth option). What would a non-growth renewal look like for a seed grant? I ask because most of the requests I've seen to date for renewals in IEG are for making a project sustainable or scaleable (i.e. what the growth fund is for). -Thepwnco (talk) 00:12, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
@Thepwnco: agree that limits on project funds could require an exception to accommodate special circumstances. And it is true that often IEG renewals do take the project partway in to a growth phase. But most of the grantees I've seen in that phase really used their renewal to strengthen and improve what they're already doing, rather than significantly expand it to the next level of growth, and so having a lightweight renewal process tied to a similar sized funding amount seems to have been working well there. The challenge with IEG that I've seen is once someone finishes their renewal and is ready to take the next step for larger growth, there really is no clear path for them. That said, we'll give some more thought to the structure of renewals vs growth. Thanks for bringing up this point. Siko (WMF) (talk) 21:18, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
  • The funding limits make the process of requesting a grant more difficult and in no way do they benefit the grant requesters. Romaine (talk) 02:56, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • As I stated in the concern section above, the project needs to be placed in the different grant programs based on the type of evaluation and support it needs rather than the dollar amount and the length of the grant. A first time grantee may need loads of support for a very small project, and a very experienced grantee may need minimal evaluation and support for project that is more expensive but not difficult for the group to execute. I have the sense that there will be too many exceptions to have these listed criteria. Instead, I would set the expectation that new grantees (teams, individuals, or organizations), experimental projects, and complex projects would get partial funding and other support in a first phase, and then be re-evaluated at intervals that make sense based on the size and scope of the project. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 21:39, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for this suggestion, Sydney Poore/FloNight. These can be hard expectations to set without creating too many complex judgement calls and a lot of back-and-forth discussion for each grant proposal (which presents problems both for scale and keeping volunteer committee members engaged), but I do take your point that using a dollar/time framework for projects in seed/growth is a general concern. Will give this some further thought. Siko (WMF) (talk) 21:18, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Additionally, I want to add that I include in my concerns about set figures the $100,000 grant and one staff as being too limiting for restricted annual plan grants. That cap could cause some organizations to needlessly splinter there grant request between an restricted annual grant and project grant which would make it more difficult for both them and the committees who are evaluating the grants. If an organization knows that it wants to do a one time project that bumps it over the $100, 000 figure, for a variety of reason, I want that project included when they are submitting the annual plan grant request and not several months later. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 21:53, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
    That's a great point, Sydney. I think it's important to clarify that we would only consider approving project grants on top of annual plan grants in cases where there's a compelling reason to do so (e.g. an organization needs to take advantage of a sudden time-sensitive opportunity). We do still think we need that flexibility, especially for smaller organizations that aren't expected to plan as exhaustively as organizations with larger budgets. I see a few solutions to the issue you've raised here:
    • If additional project grants can be requested, leave the total cap at 100,000 for project grants and the annual plan grant together. Make sure all additional project grants are linked to the annual plan grant application. (This means organizations receiving 100,000 couldn't apply for additional grants if new opportunities came up, but we could have a process for those organizations to reallocate funds within their existing budgets to shift focus as needed. We also don't think this option would be often needed by the largest organizations in this option, since our expectations for planning would be higher for those grant amounts.)
    • Instead of allowing project grants on top of annual plan grants, just make a simple way for organizations with simpler process APGs to add on additional projects (up to the 100,000 cap) when that's needed because of special circumstances. (As above, organizations at the cap could have an easy way to reallocate funds within their budgets to accommodate other opportunities.)
    Of these two solutions, I see the second one as better, as it wouldn't require review by a separate committee and program officer, and seems like a simpler option for grantees. Event grants would still be available to simpler process APG organizations just as they are to full process APG organizations now. What do you think? Does that address the issue you brought up, or do you still have other concerns about the caps on funding and staff being too restrictive? Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 22:28, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
  • (your response here)

What ideas do you have for naming these new grant types?[edit]

  • I seems to me that a good abbreviation for large events grants will be LESS (Large Events Support System). More seriously, lately I see little constructive input on any grants about large events, in many cases it either is a straightforward oppose with arguments like "go to Wikimania if you want to meet each other and discuss" or "people from Global North should cover their travel themselves", or just a lack of feedback. If even funding Wikimania will pass through this system it should involve people who know how to help improving events, not people who oppose all large events — NickK (talk) 10:07, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
    • Nick, perhaps that is because the potential impact of such events is almost always cast in such vague terms that it's meaningless. Tony (talk) 06:07, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
      @Tony1: The problem of measuring impact is well-known, but concerns all projects and not just large events. However, it is particularly bad for large events as Global Metrics are almost completely irrelevant for those, so organisers of each event have to invent their own approach. It would be great if WMF and volunteer committee members would help develop good measures of success and ways to evaluate impact — NickK (talk) 08:09, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • This question surprises me. This gives me the impression that already it is clear that the proposed system is too complicated so that a name need to be invented. That instead of a simple logic structure as grant system for what a simple and logic name can be used. Inventing names for a grant system already indicate a problem in the proposal. Romaine (talk) 03:00, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I feel that the names should not be public facing. When the names are public facing, then this is an encouragement for the community to learn the names and different types of grants, and to build volunteer infrastructure for sorting grants. This is unnecessary and brings no value to individual volunteers who learn the names to participate in a grant request.
While I like the grant types and differentiation, I think that it is an inefficient use of community volunteer time to learn about these different grants. This entire process presumes that the grant applicant will read about all of these grants then reform their proposal to fit into one of these boxes. This creates a barrier, because many people who would propose a grant will decline to do so seeing the prior research which is required.
Instead of proposing all of these types of grants, have one application space that says "propose anything for any reason". It is fine to say "You might want a grant for any of these things..." but beyond that, avoid directing people to learn the grant system. After someone writes a proposal, paid staff should apply the esoteric internal labels which this proposal is designing. The person submitting the proposal does not even need to know this is happening. Following the paid staff application of a label, the proposals then go into categories which groups of volunteers review. Volunteers can choose to review the kinds of grants they like, and not the others.
Like other commenters above, I worry that a major part of these design is a WMF staff desire to direct volunteers to categorize their grant applications. Branding in this proposal is "three types of grants", but the kinds of projects including in those three categories do not naturally go together, and the kinds of funding offers in each of these categories are not intuitive. Travel funding to attend an event, for example, is completely unlike requesting money to host an event, and the proposed common label of "event" has no value whatsoever. Let the WMF staff have an unlimited number of categories and let the staff apply those however they like, and change labels without community discussion, so long as in the end proposals are sorted for community review and some reviewing guidelines are collaboratively developed.
Designing the system to place the burden of sorting on volunteers conserves a little paid staff time at the cost of a large amount of volunteer time. I do not see this as a good value and I feel that this system is designed to align with a philosophy that volunteers should do everything and staff should do nothing. That philosophy is less reasonable considering that we have more money now and need to leverage that money to increase volunteer engagement, rather than prioritizing volunteer engagement to reduce financial costs. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:57, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: thanks for sharing this perspective. I hear the concern you and others have raised about not wanting a new design to put more burden onto volunteers, and agree that we can't do that and consider the system to be successful. I don't think that we'll be able to truly go with a "dump everything into 1 input box and staff will sort it all later" approach that you may be envisioning, but a combination of intelligent UI, tools, and staff should be able to handle much of the burden w/o making the applicant think/learn too much before they get started. I suspect part of the issue you are seeing here may be related to the fact that we're presenting a written idea for a system which isn't at all the same thing as offering a taste of the experience. It may be like the difference between trying out a piece of software, and reading a document about the software's architecture. The software itself might be easy to use if designed well, but the documentation about it's back-end will only feel user-friendly to a small subset of the truly curious :) In this case, the idea includes a lot of what I tend to think of as the "back-end" details that as you mention are probably only relevant to WMF staff workflows - ie, if you're a committee member, you probably only need to know X and find door X, and if you're an applicant, you probably only need to know Y and find door Y. Whether their project is in seed or growth is probably irrelevant to an applicant who has an idea for a project, and I'm hearing you loud and clear that we should not make people choose between 7 named things before they apply for a grant. But because we often find that a subset of volunteers in this movement do want to understand many details about any given workflow (for reasons of curiosity, trust, etc), my tendency is to include them in discussions like this. And I can see how this may create the sense for you that WMF staff is asking the community to take on a lot of extra work, while from my perspective our intention is to be as transparent and participatory as we can. All of which is a long way of saying that the plan is not to surface all options, back-end systems, and details to the end user, once we enter an implementation phase. If we had tech resources to put into the consultation from the start, another way to do it might have been to prototype an experience so that people could feel rather than think it all through...something I'll be giving some more thought to for future ideas! So, thanks to you and everyone very much again for sharing your thoughts and perspectives on this aspect. One thing this discussion is really underscoring for me is that we'll want to make sure we can bring in UX resources for some of the redesign, however we move forward. Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 21:32, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): The issue is that whatever UI you put in place, grants labelled "event" get a weird mix. Why can't we just ask a simple question: "You want to request funding for: 1) Travelling to an event (go to TPS), 2) Organising a project or an event (go to PEG), 3) Annual plan of a group or an organisation (go to APG)". That's clear and intuitive for everyone (and much more obvious than a distinction between a "project" and an "event"), and then we can design an intelligent UI / tools / a manual process / committees to sort things out in these three boxes — NickK (talk) 22:00, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
@NickK: We may end up with something like this, yeah. But before making a decision like that, I'd like to bring in the 100+ voices who gave input via the survey, to be sure we're really making things more clear and intuitive for "everyone." Lots of good input here on-wiki, but still less than 20 voices in this segment of the conversation. So, let's see where we are once we complete analysis of all inputs. Thanks! Siko (WMF) (talk) 22:14, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
  • (your response here)

Open suggestions[edit]

This is an open space for other suggestions, that don’t fit within the questions. Please make comments here about this idea. If you want to discuss the consultation itself, you can visit the consultation discussion page.

  • Maybe I am a little bit early with commenting, but I find it too much US centric to see all those dollar signs on the page. The largest part of the world does not think in dollars. And exchange rates are flexible. Also I have noticed that a certain amount of money (in dollars, converted to the local currency) does not have the same material value in two countries. There are often huge differences.
  • This page says to me, let's make the grant system easier by making it more complex. Each year there are changes in the grant system that are already time consuming we have to cope with as organisers. With starting a grant request (= writing it as draft) can take months before it is ready, and the system then has changed already. Of course there should be room for changes - no wait, there should be room for improvements - but as organiser I personally do not see the improvements. And as non-US non native English organiser, getting through the maze of the grant system is for me already the worst part of requesting a grant. If I read in this page that the intention is to make it easier, while I as organiser have to wrestle with even more texts to choose from, it is certainly not easier. Such is a myth. I have read the page, as non native English speaker I get rolling eyes from this proposal as it is too complex. If this proposal is implemented, I think it will be a waste of time, without solving the actual problems, wasting my time to the grant system than actually working on improving my request.
  • And what concerns me the most is that in January WMF decided to close the grant system for three full months (besides for gendergap ideas), which is fundamentally wrong as it is not the task of the community to fullfill the goals of WMF, and now the second problem occurs: as results of the closure (in what the community had to bear the bunt) after the closure many grant requests were submitted and the grant team couldn't handle them in time, huge delays as result. And again the community bears the bunt. Lesson to be learned: if you mess with the grant system, there is a shortage of man power, and the community bears the bunt.
  • Would it be good to make improvements? I think yes. Does this look like a solution to me? No. If WMF would like to improve it should start to look from the perspectives from people who do not have English as native language, so it becomes better accessible and easier to understand for non native English speakers. The more options, the more choices, the more criteria, the more rules, etc, the more complex it becomes. Most people who request a grant do not have English as native language. Romaine (talk) 00:10, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
@Romaine: Hi Romaine, I appreciate your early feedback. Our team is still making some revisions to the proposal and related pages (like the FAQ) in preparation for 17 August, when the consultation will formally open. We also want feedback from non-native English speakers, which is why we've submitted all of these pages for translation as well in order to gather broader perspectives to improve this proposal.
That said, could you tell me a little more about what is too complex in the proposal? For instance, is there certain language we could change, is it not clear where applicants should start, or something else? In terms of actually making a grant request, we're intending to make navigating grants easier by 1) providing personal support from staff, and 2) creating a system that asks applicants some questions about their request so that they don't need to guess which grant they should apply for. If you have any further suggestions, feel free to reply back here when you're able. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 21:09, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
@I JethroBT (WMF): Maybe it is just the current presentation, but still I think that the more options are to be chosen from, the complexity is enlarged exponentially. This especially for users who do not have English as native language. It happens too often that choices in a system are not made by understanding the choices, but by crossing off the other options. As most people in the word do not have English as native language, especially those people need to be able to understand it easily. The native English speaking people have less difficulty as it is their own language.
I am not sure if I am able to describe want the complexity is. The difficulty of complexity is that is difficult to get a full understanding of what makes it so complex or difficult to understand. I am an analyst.
Maybe it helps if I annalize the current situation. If I look to the current system (Grants:Start), I have to choose between four options: Travel and Participation Support, Individual Engagement Grants, Project and Event Grants, and Annual Plan Grants. How would I currently choose the right one? By looking at what option my previous grants are in, because I would not know based on the page and I did it wrong last time I had to choose one. Looking at the page, I would first remove in the titles in the coloured boxes the words Support and 3x Grant, because they have no actual meaning that makes a different in the choice and do not help at all, but can only confuse. For me personally the first option is clear, Travel and Participation, it says it all. The last option, Annual Plan Grants, is pretty much clear. But the second and third option are to a me a mystery, Individual Engagement versus Project and Event. The word Individual suggests that if 1 person is organising something, this option should be chosen and otherwise the other one, but the description says that it also is for small teams. When is a team small, and does a team include the volunteers that support the team or not? Not clear. Also the third option says it is also for individuals. Also the word Engagement, this is a weasel word and has no actual meaning. For me "Individual Engagement" is completely empty in meaning. Also "Comprehensive" is empty. And "online impact" is what almost every project will have, as Wikipedia/etc is online. Empty title and empty description. The third option, Project and Event, is in combination with the second option empty, because if it is not travel or an annual plan, it is always a project, and when something is an event is vague. Weasel words, vague, etc, I think it would be good if this would be changed, but perhaps you already have thought so. And this is only one step of the process, and is too complicated, which I tried to describe with this paragraph. I hope this help to give an impression.
If I see on the page that there are 3 types of grants proposed, the same problem as I just described is suggested, only in a different setup, but now with more options. This means a larger complexity.
To become specific: There is no clear difference between "Project Grants" and "Event Grants". Again for me these are weasel options/descriptions. Again a mystery what to choose. And a lovely second step: I have now read it about 8 times, and I now slowly start to get the differences of the second step. But still I do not see the practical logic in it for me as organiser, the differences are to me a bit artificial. I very strong get the impression that this is the logic of the grants team, etc, but not the logic of an organiser. Also the first step is too artificial to me. And the tables make it worse.
If it is really important for the process to have grant requests fall into the right categories, I am not sure if asking questions is a solution. If I start with a grant request for something, I do not know the amount of money I need. I want to do something, and when such is defined, I will look up what such costs. It will be problematic if in the system asks questions about how much it will cost. Asking there what it will cost is the other way round. If I start a grant request, I do start it to have my project funded, not to get money at such. Also other questions can be difficult as with drafting a project, not everything is known from the beginning. And I can say that with the questions with my grants I started, this first part certainly did not go smoothly. I think if it is necessary for the process to group grants in separate sections, it would be better to have the grants team add parameters to the infobox to do so. I see much more a role for support from staff. They also have then the experience and the knowledge to do so.
And again about 500 dollar limit: in many cases the amount is not known with starting drafting a grant request, and second exchanges rates are not fixed.
"The level of simplicity of each option is based on funding amount and level of risk." -> This is not a workable design principle, there is insufficient thought about the consequences of this.
"is it not clear where applicants should start" -> Maybe I do understand this question wrong, but what comes in mind that the Grants:Start is not the easiest way to find. I fixed it today, but before Grant linked to Grants:PEG instead of Grants:Start. Also typing "Grants" in the search, I would expect to find the page Grants:Start, however I can imagine that the info on that page is needed there. But I miss a clear bar on top of the page "If you want to request a grant from WMF, see Grants:Start."
Talking about the time consuming parts of the grants process is the bureaucracy that is involved and is everywhere throughout the whole system. Of course some bureaucracy is needed, but I would suggest to make it a bit less (and not more).
"The funding amount is tied to demonstrated impact." -> This is not simplicity, but complex.
If needed I am willing to answer more questions and questions about specific parts. I am a stakeholder as organiser/funds requester, I am not really happy nor comfortable with the current grants system (which I experience as the worst part of the project), but the new described setup does not improve it but makes it worse. A lot of things are logic, while some parts are not, but also thinking about what it would have as consequences. The first sections sound promising, but when it comes up to the section of the proposed solution, I do not see actual improvements that would make it me easier. Greetings - Romaine (talk) 00:23, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I share the sentiment of all Romaine said, word by word: "let's make the grant system easier by making it more complex" seems a good summary of the current proposal. --Nemo 07:20, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
I think that is indeed the core problem if I need to summarize it in one sentence. Romaine (talk) 03:35, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • Je pense qu'il serait intéressant de réfléchir sur un système de bourse d'études attribuée à des étudiants ou chercheurs en fonction de leurs contribution aux différents projet. Ces bourses ne serait pas versée directement aux contributeurs mais sous forme de paiement de minerval pour une année académique, frais de participation à des séminaires, conférences ou formations diverse, ou encore abonnement ou entrée à des lieux d’accès à l’information tel que musé, bibliothèques, journaux, revues, etc. Lionel Scheepmans ✉ Contact 19:49, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
    Hi Lionel, you bring up some good points about supporting individual contributors, for example by helping contributors gain access to sources that are normally restricted. You might be aware of The WIkipedia Library, a decentralized project that started from an IEG and works with institutions to provide such access for free; The Wikipedia Library now supports many projects, including the French Wikipedia. It also facilitates visiting scholars for a number of participating institutions. The idea for TWL was supported through a project grant, and this might be a good model to look at for experimenting with more support to individual contributors. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 09:44, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
  • We think one should really avoid strategy changes in the middle of a campaign (which is made of course difficult by the fact that APG grantees are not all on the same round for instance), because it leads to changes in operational guidelines which are difficult to implement at once. The language is still a barrier which makes us lack efficiency and having to translate all reports is an additional step in the process which tales time. -- Anne-Laure WMFr (talk) 15:31, 4 September 2015 (UTC) on behalf of Wikimédia France
    @Anne-Laure WMFr: This seems like an important point, and I want to better understand what you mean by strategy changes in the middle of a campaign. What kinds of strategy changes are you thinking of here? Do you mean changes to the APG process itself during the course of one year? Your point around needing to translate reports and that taking more time is also a good one. Do you think there are ways we can make this easier in the APG process? Thanks for your thoughts! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 18:59, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Vision of organisational structure behind[edit]

I am missing a vision of what organisational structure is envisioned behind this grantmodelidea. I have a feeling there exist an impicit vision but is should also be made explicit in order to really evaluate the idea. I understand you see two levels clearly, a project, which is a temporary thing and no commitment long term, and a staff support for small interest groups implicating a more longterm commitment (1 FTE+office space). I am fine with these two levels and agree they represent needs that is of need of financial support. But what about after "1 FTE+office space" support to an organsation. You talk of impact, and that is relevant, but not the whole story. Working in FDC, a scenario came back in many chapters, was a need to get support for a small staff: supporting local Glam Support, education support and community support. In reality this mostly came to 3-5 FTE+office space, typically 250-450 K (that was dependent on cost level and size and geography of country supported). Why not evolve this into a standard org to be supported describing what should be expected of it also in terms of impact, and then only for requests above this demand extraordinary impact. (with more local external financing the local org could be bigger) You would then have a three level model (or four if you put in as separate support to individals not orgs) of what entities this grantmodelidea would support.Anders Wennersten (talk) 18:46, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

@Anders Wennersten: Thanks for your early feedback and suggestion for an intermediate step in the APG options, Anders. We'll begin fuller discussions on 17 August when we open up the consultation. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 00:20, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this, Anders. It sounds like you're thinking that there needs to be a standardized middle option for annual plans, with clearer guidelines for organizations in that size range. I'll be curious to hear if others are also seeing this need. We can give some thought to providing more standards/guidelines for different sizes/stages of organizations, if folks think that would be helpful. Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 01:44, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Complete newbie[edit]

Im completely new to grants. I put an idea up in the Idea Lab quite some time ago, which go no responses. I spoke to Siko in Mexico City about getting some kind of funding for Wiki Learning Tec de Monterrey and have put a proposal in Grants Grants:PEG/Leigh_Thelmadatter/Establishing_finances_of_Wiki_Learning_Tec_de_Monterrey but nothing yet here either.Thelmadatter (talk) 02:28, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

  • @Thelmadatter: You should fill in the form (essentially replacing placeholder texts with what you wanted to write) and submit it (replace DRAFT with "open" and email grants at wikimedia dot org) — NickK (talk) 10:13, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
@Thelmadatter: thanks for sharing this experience. I think it is really important to get the perspective of new applicants as well as long-time participants in these processes, so here's hoping that other newbies will share their thoughts too. NickK is right about the immediate next step for your proposal, but I also remember from talking to you at Wikimania that part of your confusion was not knowing which program you should apply to for your project, until I pointed you to PEG - this is confusing for lots of people, from what we've seen. Part of what we want to accomplish with this change here is to make the entryway easier to find for projects like yours, and the application easier to submit for first-timers. We're also bringing on a community organizer this year to facilitate discussions in IdeaLab - what I'm hoping that will do is give you a friendly face to help connect to early feedback on your ideas and facilitate develop of them into proposals. Curious to know if that helps! Please let us know if you have other ideas about how we could better support your needs. Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 20:09, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
@Siko (WMF): That's actually the problem of the new Form Wizard. If one creates a form in wikitext mode, the comment that one has to replace "DRAFT" with "open" and email grants at wikimedia dot org in order to submit the request is there, but if one uses Form Wizard the comment is not there anymore. That should be fixed in Form Wizard I think — NickK (talk) 13:50, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
@NickK: thanks for flagging this issue. We should be able to fix the Form Wizard's output so that it includes these instructions. Pinging @AWang (WMF): to look into this for the current PEG form. Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:19, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, been busy these last weeks organizing the wiki project for I Week at my school. I see were it says draft, but I dont see how to change it. Ill send another email.Thelmadatter (talk) 20:13, 4 September 2015 (UTC)

Not a simplification[edit]

This proposal does have some very positive points, like removal of IEG/PEG distinction, simpler "micro option" and "simple APG" process. However, in fact this process involves even more types of grants than before (7 instead of 4) and cannot be called a simplification.

Imagine a user group of Wikimedians who organise edit-a-thons in museums of their country, with a cost of $200 per event.

  • They want to organise one edit-a-thon. This is a micro event.
  • They want to organise two edit-a-thons. It is not an event anymore but it is a project now. They now apply for a project grant with a seed option.
  • They want to organise an edit-a-thon in three museums simultaneously. That's not a micro event anymore (they cannot do it with $500) but a large event.
  • They want to organise two edit-a-thons in three museums simultaneously. It's a project again, and as they are experienced with it it becomes a project grant with a growth option.
  • Now they want to organise monthly edit-a-thons for the entire year. That's an annual plan with a simpler option.

Essentially this group does exactly the same thing: they organise edit-a-thons. Their goal and measures of success are exactly the same. But they need to apply for five different types of grants, presumably with five different application forms, five different types of requirements and five different types of reporting, and explain their project to five different groups of people. We do not need five different types of grants for this.

One cannot drow a clear line between a project and an event, as two events will always make a project. In addition, the scope of the new "Event Grants committee" will be extra large: they will cover TPS (measuring impact of an individual attending an event), events like edit-a-thons, workshops or wikiexpeditions (measuring how projects fit their targets in terms of creating quality content or increasing reach, identical to "Project Grants committee"), local community events (measuring impact on growth of local communities) and international events (measuring impact on sharing knowledge and developing international cooperation). That's even more than current GAC (transfer of most things from PEG plus TPS), and this requires a mix of competences

In my view, it would be reasonable to regroup grants into the following options:

  • TPS: put it separately as it is not broken, it has completely separate workflow and completely distinct measures of success
  • microgrants for project and events (up to 500$? or perhaps a bit more?) with a simpler process, and mainly IEG Committee members behind
  • grants for projects and events, essentially former PEG without annual plans, a mix of IEG and GAC members behind
  • small annual plans, ex-GAC and maybe some FDC participation?
  • large annual plans with FDC.

This means most people will apply for second and third option, which should have compatible application and reporting forms to avoid additional burden with growth.

And finally: please do make rolling applications, not quarterly applications. This is probably the main reason why people applied for PEG instead of IEG: if the project is not very flexible, most people will not wait half a year or even the entire year (like this year with Imagine campaign) before getting funding. Deadlines like "apply before 31 January to get funds on 1 May" are feasible for experienced organisations, but such planning is more tricky for smaller groups — NickK (talk) 06:57, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

What the last section I agree. I would prefer a clear procedure for all grants. Like: processing can be done within a month at max. Romaine (talk) 03:35, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
I don't like the idea of waiting for a the opportunity to learn. Breaking them up into separate small grants to learn sounds like a better idea . I believe that any opportunity I can get to be educated is a good opportunity , and if I need to take a few grants to fulfill my purpose then I can go that route . WP.NICKNAME.22 (talk) 00:23, 20 August 2015 (UTC) WP.NICKNAME.22 (talk) 00:23, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Hey NickK, thanks for taking a close look at the idea. I hear your concerns about more complexity. Many of the examples you brought up could be covered by a series of simple microgrants, or for those over $500, project grants. Expectations for project grants would match the grant amount, so we’d expect more from a $10,000 grant than from a $600 grant, but seed and growth funds won’t have separate application forms or processes, and no one should need to get an annual plan grant just to do 12 edit-a-thons— that’s still a project. The events that would be funded separately from projects are essentially larger gatherings like WikiConferences, which often require travel help beyond just funds, and which tend to need some different committee support as well.
Recruiting former committee members to review the simpler process annual plans is a great suggestion for harnessing some of the talent and expertise that we already have, and matching committee tasks and competencies and making sure committee workloads are manageable are both important goals - thanks for underscoring this.
I also understand your concerns about rolling applications. Do you have some examples of the types of projects over $500 you think would be particularly negatively affected by a quarterly application cycle?
Thanks again! I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 18:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Hi I JethroBT (WMF) and thanks for your feedback.
What you are saying about the system looks like an attempt to guide through the new complex system. There was a problem on whether to apply for PEG or IEG grant, now you will get more problems: whether to apply for a project grant or for an event grant, for seed funds or for or growth funds, for a micro event or for a full event option and whether it is a project or an annual plan. If you need to explain this system, it means it is not a simplification, it's just another layer of complexity. Instead, you remove the very obviously distinct TPS system and put those applying for a bus ticket for organising workshop in the neighbouring town and those who organise Wikimedia Conference into the same system — how does it make the system simpler?
It would be excellent if expectations for a $10,000 grant and for a $600 grant would be different, but could you please be more specific about that? I know that submitting grants and reporting on them takes a lot of time, so I would welcome any steps in this direction.
Concerning "different committee support" for conferences, you already want to split committee into working groups by topics, why can't you just add conferences as one more topic and get rid of additional type of grants? By the way, AFAIK WMF has never offered travel help to event organisers other than making arrangements for WMF employees, as WMF does not have enough ressources to manage bookings even for several dozens of attendees. If WMF will really provide this help from now one this would be great.
Concerning former members, I am particularly thinking of former FDC members who can be very helpful at evaluating new "light APG" grants.
We already had an experience with a quarterly application cycle, which was the Inspire campaign, and this was not a success for PEG grantees. The main victim was Wiki Loves Earth which started on 1 May, but everyone had to submit a grant request before 31 January, exactly one quarter in advance. This resulted in double frustration: firstly, it took a lot of efforts to prepare budgets that in advance (as most countries did not have any partners yet and could not estimate their donations), secondly, it took a lot of time to review all applications as the number of applications arriving simultaneously was beyond GAC's capacity. Thus this affects both organisers of any time-sensitive projects with exact dates (from WLM that must be in September to Feminism edit-a-thons that must be on 8 March) and committee members as they get very irregular workload — NickK (talk) 22:51, 20 August 2015 (UTC)


I don't know if this is the right place to comment that, if no, sorry, and I will thank you if you move it to the right place.

I think that another problem with grants is it's translation from english to other languages. I don't know the problem in other languages but in spanish translations usually are horrible. This is a problem because if grant process is complicated in english, you have to try to do it in other language that says senseless things.

I think that Wikimedia Foundation should support professional translations of grant process to the main languages of wikis, I think that it could be a great help to a wide range of wikipedians that don't know english. WMF don't have to make translations to all the languages, volunteers could do it, but it's easy for lots of people translate to galician, catalan, asturian, portuguese, quechua, etc, from a professional translation in spanish than from english or a poor translation in spanish. Bye, --Elisardojm (talk) 08:42, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

Professional translations are usually extremely bad, at least those the WMF buys. --Nemo 12:55, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts, Elisardojm. We'd like to get better at providing multilingual support, so your suggestions are most welcome! We did have these consultation pages translated professionally into Spanish, and I'm curious to know what you think of the quality. The reason we paid for them this time is we know that volunteer translation takes time and effort, and we wanted to be able to kick-off this consultation with translation into a few major languages to ensure it wasn't just English-only. To Nemo's point, translating takes context to do well, though, and the Wikimedia movement has a LOT of complicated context for new people to understand. Professional translators do often struggle with accurate terms - we as a movement (including grantmakers!) use a lot of wiki-specifics that non Wikimedians don't understand when they first arrive. WMF uses large and reputable translation companies for the few translations we do pay for, but I sympathize with everyone that this is a difficult problem to solve. Let's keep thinking about how we can solve this together. Cheers, Siko (WMF) (talk) 21:29, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
If professional translations are bad, then they aren't professional translations, perhaps WMF should seek better professionals to do that work.
I have reviewed some parts at the translation of the consultation pages and I corrected some fixes. It don't seems a professional translation to me.
I know that the wikimedia movement has a particular vocabulary, but a translator has to seek and query about the words and context they have to translate, if don't they aren't professional translators. Anotherway, if it don't exist (I don't remember if it exists yet), I think that could be useful create a glosary to explain wikimedina terms, not only for translators, for all users too. Bye, --Elisardojm (talk) 23:54, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Restricted grants[edit]

If things didn't change for the Nth time, WMF consider restricted grants to be bad for its projects (of those with multiple employees assigned). Why does WMF think they would be good for other Wikimedia orgs? --Nemo 05:17, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Translation tags[edit]

It's not clear what you want to achieve by making this talk page translatable. Translation pages can't be edited; if you want language-code subpages of this talk page to be used for non-English discussion, you need to unmark this page. --Nemo 05:19, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

@Nemo bis: Hey Nemo. We set it up this way so that we can have a centralized discussion while also providing translated questions. Each translated page contains a section link on the right side to respond to the questions back here, so that we can keep the discussion in one place. People can respond in any language on this page. Perhaps there is a way I can make those section links on the translated more prominent (like bold formatting?) I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 06:01, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Focus on impact[edit]

The focus on impact seems to have a rather negative side effect: WMF grant supported projects focus on short term goals because these are easier to measure. Long term goals get neglected. For the WMF grants team: Do you agree with this statement? Please explain. Is this an intentional effect of the WMF grant team to focus only on short term goals? Please elaborate. In my opinion this will seriously hurt our movement in the long term. Multichill (talk) 17:15, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Hi Multichill. Can you explain more about what you mean by short-term and long-term goals for projects? I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 23:15, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
I have experienced the same as Multichill describes. I find the focus of WMF too often too strange compared to project for what funding is requested.
I am not good in giving an example, but what I think as possible example is for example Wiki Loves Monuments. Wiki Loves Monuments is a project that is organised not to have a record number of uploads, not to have # number of photos added to articles, not to have # number of photos as featured image on Commons, not to have editor retention in the month afterwards. That is not the core: the core is to get all monuments from around the world on Wikipedia and illustrate them with a photo.
The focus of every project that requests funding (PEG/IEG) from WMF is the community that wants to get something done that matters to the community, and not to fullfill the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation. Romaine (talk) 03:42, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
I JethroBT (WMF), Let's take an edit-a-thon. A short term goal is to reach a certain number of participants or the number of articles created/improved. A long term goal would be to having more active editors in a couple of years.
The success of these kind of projects at the moment is only measured against the short term goals.
Another example is Grants:PEG/WM NL/GLAM WIKI 2015#Measures of success. All impact goals are in the same year. Multichill (talk) 09:35, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
I believe that Multichill pointed out a very important issue. Generally speaking, in industry, a short term goal is the one which will produce its effects in a, say, up-to-one-year time. A medium term is something that is expected to produce something in 5 to 10 years. For a long term perspective, usually a 20~25 years time is the common parameter.
So, we currently have many short term goals, and AFAIK no long term schemes at all. In any case a grant plants a seed, but depending on the kind of seeds you plant, you can get - let's say - flowers in one year, cherries in 10 years, and wood to harvest in 20 years. Now we have a really gorgeous, magnificent, superb, garden flourishing around us, but time has come (imho) to start thinking to an orchard and, who knows when, to an oak forest. This requires a consensus in considering how to differentiate our plantations in order to keep the whole in coherence with our Vision and our Mission. And it won't be a plain discussion. But that discussion is not beyond our capabilities: we can make it, we can make it usefully and profitably, and it is not, by any means, "too much for us". Of course, we need to start it one of these days... :-) --g (talk) 12:35, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
Hi Multichill and all. Thanks for raising this question. We do think both kinds of goals are important, and agree that long-term goals can be really challenging to measure, not only because they can’t be shown in a grant report by project leaders 2 months after the work is “done,” but also because they often involve looking at qualitative rather than quantitative factors. And we, too, are still wrestling with how to demonstrate success when working with subtle but important longer-term goals around advocacy, volunteer motivation and retention, etc. There will always be a need to measure outcomes and impact for short term goals like participation and content creation as we work together to improve this lovely garden, but as the practice of short-term measurement is now becoming more routine, I too would like to see us take the next step and look at how we can better support and measure progress against longer-term goals. Some of that is well beyond the scope of this particular consultation. But as a starting point, is there something in particular you’d change in this idea to create more space for supporting long-term goals? Thanks for thinking about this important issue! Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:45, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
You are certainly right, this would be beyond the scope of this page, mainly because before that we should start discussing about what would be a desirable and acceptable direction of long term schemes, and what would not, and this is not possible here. But we can do it in another page, right now too, if you wish :-) --g (talk) 23:31, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

"it is not the task of the community to fullfill the goals of WMF"[edit]

Maybe the staff should read this sentence made by Romaine very carefully. I don't think, there is much more to say. The whole system has run out of control. We have the problem, the persons with the money did not understand, that it is not their money. It is our money, the money that's made by the Community. The whole system of grants is at first presented like a gift that is made to us and at second it is created in a way completely diffeent to our projects. The WMF really thinks, they can work with us as it were normal economy. This thinking in moey and in "what do we (the WMF) get back for our (the WMF's) money is so far away from our real way the project works, that every talk about partial changes is not needed. The system must be changed. The local communities knows the best, what they need. So these Communities need to get the money. And they all should get the money they want (= need). We have much more than enough and we don't need the WMF sitting on OUR money! If I read again, that for example the chapters don't get their requested money I will get mad. Every, EVERY!!! chapter should have the opporttunity to become as big as Wikimedia Deutschland! And THEN they can help their communities the best way. And only because the Americans are unable to create a chapter, this best system should running. Not the "the WMF imitate the american chapter" system! Marcus Cyron (talk) 20:18, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Your approach is unfortunately too German-centric: the case of Wikimedia Deutschland is unique as Germany has multi-million donations and multi-million spendings. This does not work in most other countries, and that's why WMF should be there to redistribute funds according to the needs of respective communities. What is in fact wrong is the way to redistribute funds, as this distribution effectively has to match the needs of respective communities and not just the goals of WMF — NickK (talk) 21:43, 19 August 2015 (UTC)
It is German-centric to say, all chapter should have the opportunity to develop in the way WMDE has? Do you think, other chapers/ountries are not that powerfull, creative and so on? Marcus Cyron (talk) 10:09, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
That's not the question of opportunities, that's the question of resources. You say that we don't need the WMF sitting on OUR money: that's completely true for Germany as WMDE's budget is smaller than the amount of donations from Germany, it might be also true for several large countries including United States, but that will not be true for most other countries. Thus we actually need WMF for redistribution of these donations, otherwise hardly any Global South country will be able to develop in the way WMDE has, they will be simply unable to get the corresponding amount of local donations (Africa generates $82K a year, South America gives $180K a year — just about a weekly budget of WMDE). Thus we need WMF to be there, but we need to develop appropriate ways to measure needs of those communities — NickK (talk) 10:58, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
I agree with the title of this section, and I also agree with the perspective described: it is money that's made by the Community, as they have created the contents of the various wikis. I think that we indeed should move to that perspective.
At the same time we should also be careful with how money is distributed. In essence WMF fullfills the role of guarding the money, which is at such good as we should not spoil it.
In some communities it is indeed true that the community knows best, but at the same time there are communities with big issues. So a general statement that the community knows best is not true. Also I think we should avoid a situation that requesting funding becomes a popularity contest of the project or of the requester(s), and that is something that is a risk in multiple communities.
I think WMF thinks too much (even if it is unconsciousness) that they can serve the whole world, like they serve the US. Then I can only say that without the local chapters, the Wikimedia movement had not been as successful as they are now. Local chapters enable local Wikimedians to activities, because the local chapter is close by and understands the local situation. Therefore I would strongly recommend to have more physical places (offices) where Wikimedians can come together, work together, and are supported by more staff that support Wikimedians in performing their projects. The value of a chapter with an office, that can takes a call and can promote locally Wikipedia/Wikimedia, is strongly underestimated.
Seeing the conflicts in the past years in the perspectives between for example WMF and the European perspective on certain subjects, it would be better for WMF to have more local offices, at least one on each inhabited continent to have a better understanding of the local situation. (Like in India (for Asia), in Egypt (for the Arabic world and Africa), in Belgium (as here is the de facto European capital), and...) Romaine (talk) 04:05, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
There is no evidence that renting offices and hiring staff not attached to specific projects in situ all over the world would have the slightest positive effect on improving WMF sites for readers—and in particular on addressing the fundamental crises faced by the movement: editor retention/recruitment; gender gap; global-south-related issues; and fixing legacy software. It seems to be an anti-internet argument. Tony (talk) 08:58, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Maybe you then should start investigate this more. This seems more a lack of investigation, than a lack of situations where staff structurally helped to improve wikis. The simple fact that I know multiple projects that without staff have not been done or weren't possible, while with them having resulted in growth in knowledge added to wikis. So if you haven't seen the slightest positive effect, you haven't done your homework properly.
Having internet does not mean that this can replace all human interactions, that is bogus. Thinking that anything can be solved on a distance via the internet is an illusion.
Of course you can claim that staff and office do not address some issues, but in the past decade there have not been local offices and the "crisis" issues we do currently have. What is missing is local contact with contributors on site to see what causes editor retention to fail, or the gendergap to exist, etc, it all starts with being locally present. Being on the work floor where it actually matters. Then it is possible to identify the source of symptoms like editor retention to fail, or the gendergap to exist, and then actually can be done to the source of the problems. Now currently they are only saying that something should be done about editor retention and the gendergap, and without going to the source of these issues, it is purely symptom treatment. Romaine (talk) 23:39, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Donors give their money to "Wikipedia".
We all know this, and we all know that donors usually know nothing about Chapters, perhaps they sometimes know a few tips about WMF, it is quite certain, instead, that donors are NEVER rewarding any particular user of any particular project with their money. So, please let's keep ourselves in a truly humble state of mind, bearing in mind that anyone who deals with donors' money needs to remember - every moment he keeps it in his hands - that this is the money donors sent to keep Wikipedia alive and kicking, on a planetary scale. This, I believe, is the common factor orientating and steering the choice of the average donor. I would expect therefore that our attitude about these matters should follow the sense of responsibility that all this requires. This said, the Wikimedia Community is ONE. Local Communities play their role in contributing to the whole, but the whole is a COMMON UNIQUE Community, in which we all work TOGETHER for the same goals and objectives from wherever we are in the Planet. In this system that we ourselves createad all together, there is no space at all for eventual hypothesis of different weight of the single local Chapters based on the fact that they happen to work in richer rather than in poorer Countries: the mere fact that a Chapter in a rich Western Country can collect more money than a badly arranged Chapter in a poorer Country makes no difference in the importance of anyone here. Maybe, instead, that donors' money coming from poor Countries should perhaps be considered more precious for us, because it is more difficult and arduous to collect money where there are severe problems.
Donors' money is sent to the Free Knowledge, the one which has no flags. Please take a moment to reconsider eventual localist "prides", because we didn't need anyone new to propose here things that already existed before Wikipedia. The COMMON UNIQUE PROJECT.
I know that no one here meant to be unkind, and I apologise it was me perhaps to be little gentle towards others, but I felt it was necessary to underline that there are arguments which can lead to dangerous misunderstandings... --g (talk) 13:17, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree that whether a community project fulfills WMF's own goals should not be a factor in deciding on funds allocation. --Nemo 07:50, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
    So, what are the goals of the community? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:34, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
    Each community can tell, when asking for funds. --Nemo 09:02, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
    Mike, the point is that while WMF and communities have same long-term goal they often have different short-term goal. In case of Inspire, WMF decided that their short-term goal is to increase number of female editors. However, if, say, Czech community decides that their short-term goal is to increase number of senior editors and not that of female editors, they should get funding for this anyway even if it does not match WMF's short-term goal — NickK (talk) 08:16, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
    NickK, the issue was the capacity of the WMF staff to organize and execute a campaign to address the gender gap and also administer the regular PEG or IEG. So, non-time sensitive PEG requests were evaluated at a later time. No organization was forced to change their project to address the gender gap, although there might have been some put on hold if they were not time sensitive. It is always regrettable that everyone's needs can not be addressed simultaneously, but the record number of Idea submitted and turned into project proposals through the Inspire campaign indicates that the focus on the gender gap campaign was the correct priority, and allocating human resources of the WMF staff to the Inspire Campaign was a smart decision. Additionally, the WMF staff did not initiate the Inspire Campaign in a vacuum, but with the encouragement and support of community members from all around the world. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 23:38, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
    The bad point about Inspire was not the gender gap campaign itself (which was a great idea). The problem is that it was actually organised not in a vacuum. It is great that this campaign inspired many new people and organisations to apply for WMF grants, but it was also a problem for many other people and organisations who intended to apply for grants to fund something else (especially for those who were already waiting for 6 months to apply for IEG and will have to wait another 6 months). We need to find a way to balance interests of both sides, and I do not think that Inspire campaign was particularly good at it — NickK (talk) 10:39, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
    Re Campaign setup: Future campaigns will feed into regular project grant cycles, meaning that although we do intend to proactively source ideas around particular topics again in the future, we plan to do so while also providing support for other topics on a regular cycle. So although I hear your concerns, I don't believe this particular Inspire issue is something we need to debate much further here. The way we had to resource that pilot was a 1-time situation that involved making a difficult choice. Although it is worth noting that staff worked overtime to process many PEG requests during that period which simply couldn't wait, we do understand the challenges that came up for some community members, and we don't intend to repeat that particular experiment in that particular way going forward. Siko (WMF) (talk) 19:38, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
    Ok, good to know. I have also noticed that this was a challenge not just for grantees but for WMF staff as well, so I am happy that this was a one-time situation — NickK (talk) 00:29, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

What Community ? Whose money ?[edit]

Show me the wikipedia community ? there is no such thing, the community is an illusion, just as "users with special rights" (the dictatorship of the bullies with the extra buttons) are not chosen or appointed by "the community". Some have a sense of community obligation but far too many are driven by ego, status and personal power.
If I take the statistics and look at the community and then look at the participation of community members in the community affairs, i get single digit percentages as a result, as a matter of fact everything is done by the powers that be to keep as many community members as possible and as far away as possible from community affairs by hiding them on backwater pages, under inpenetrable jargon, behind random conditions, and behind a defensive layer of verbal abuse, and fake and manipulated elections.
The community doesn't raise the money, not even the work of the on-wiki contributor raises the money ... so itś not their money.
Both the claim of "Community" and the "Communityś money" are false based on a "weasel" word as Romaine put it ... "Community" there is no such thing as a community so please wake up to reality .--DerekvG (talk) 17:58, 5 September 2015 (UTC) Iḿ sorry if I offended anyone who still adheres to this illusion of "community". I might be a cynic but my intentionas are about a viable WIKI project.
It's a miracle that wiki grew and survived until now, on what is basically an anarchy or chaos model, that doesn't mean its viable for the future. The wiki projects are outgrowing fast the egalitarian and democratic prinicples it was based on, and they are being subjugated by gangs of virtual on-line bullies. If we want to continue to be a democracy where every contributor has the same value, where expertise can contribute without being challenged on the basis of "the faith of the ignorant", where contributing knowledge is paramount, we wil need to establish a "constitution", a "Magna Carta" for Wiki...
The illness of the wiki projects are its cabal and that Wiki cabal is not WMF or the chapters, whoever thinks so errs... the cabal are the users with special rights, and that cabal is subjugating the rest of the wiki community into intellectual slavery. Engrave certain rules in granite slates and hangém in the WMF headquarters, if we want to continue in a friendly environement we will have to say wat is a friendely environement and how itś policed and enforeced. If we want to continue using moderators, stewarts, burocrats and arbcoms etc..., we need established rules of due process, right to a defence, rules of proof and presumption of innocense and most of all independant decision takers, and we need to loose the jargon like NPOV , NE, WP:whatever etc... Many do of these people a good job and deliver honest work, unfortunately too many don't. The days of hiding behind a childish alias, or an anonimous IP adress, are over,either you work under your real identity or you don't. If yo want to be user with special rights and moderate, you should be "known off-wiki" by a ceratin number of people, identiofy disclose you qualifications as a moderator, get certified before you become a moderator... that is teh way forward. next the community will have to devise a working participatory structure tah allows every wiki volunteer to partcipate in teh on-line wiki decision making process and not some opt-in mechanisme that discourages everybody excpet for a few masochists that will face the bullying...
Wiki is not free, running it costs money wether you like that or not, WMF and the chapters have run the infrastructure on which all wiki-projects run, they have concienciously kept away from the content. If the "commnunity" wants to participate in runnign that part of teh show... it wil have to invent participatory mechanisms, the chapters, usergroups and affiliates are one way but those who want to particiapte will necessarily have to get involved and organsie themselves off-line or off-wiki.--DerekvG (talk) 17:28, 6 September 2015 (UTC)

Derek, the relevance to grantmaking redesign is unclear. Tony (talk) 08:46, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Overdose paperwork to have staff[edit]

Also a problem is that for chapters with staff the amount of time it takes to do the paperwork is crazy. Staff are great to support local volunteers in organising projects and in covering costs of travel and such, but the requirements WMF has implemented for those chapters is so large that it takes a crazy amount of staff time to cope with the WMF requirements. Of course reporting is needed and money should not be spoiled, but the amount of time it takes to fullfill the requirements of WMF is spoiling money as well. Time that staff could have spent instead to supporting volunteers and projects. Romaine (talk) 04:12, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Which brings us to the question of why we should be spending signficant amounts of money on staff. Tony (talk) 06:08, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
Staff take heavy work out of the hands of volunteers who often only have time for such in the evenings and weekends. Staff make it possible for volunteers to do more in the movement, the quality of the work improves and continuity is arranged. Continuity is a highly underestimated factor needed for the success of the Wikimedia movement, which otherwise causes a spoiling of time, energy and resources. Romaine (talk) 11:08, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
It is OK to spend money in staff. We need to do this. There are work to don no volunteer wants to do. But this work has to be done or we will step on our place and never will walk foreward. We need staff, that volunteers the volunteers. But we don't need staff to have staff. Fo a CEO it is importand to have a lot of staff - so the more money you can request for your own. The more staff, the more "responsibility", the more money. This system we have actually is the problem. The WMF tries to do everything - even if thei are not competent for it. This have to get changed. The movement lives the best in smaler groupings. We don't need a giant center, we need the local centers. And there we ofcpurse also need staff. Sometimes paid, sometimes volunteers. Depends on what we need there. Marcus Cyron (talk) 00:56, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
You are so right - and it is so funny. To fulfill the wishes of the WMF, smaler chapters need to hire a person more, who only does this. And then the WMF comes and says "but it is not OK to spending so much money for the staff". Not only "funny" because of the strangeness in itself, it's also always funny if we think about the big and it seems often useless WMF staff... Marcus Cyron (talk) 00:48, 31 August 2015 (UTC)
I don't see good arguments for hiring systemic full-time longer-term staff—and as you appear to point out, they bring with them a spiralling of add-on costs. I do see good arguments put occasionally at PEG and IEG for the hiring of project-specific staff. Tony (talk) 08:49, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

@Romaine: What specific requirements for orgs getting funding staff would you like to see reduced or eliminated? Thanks! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 16:20, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

@Tony1: I agree project-specific staff or all-volunteer models can be very useful in some cases. We do also see lots of good arguments for some local organizations having WMF funding for long term staff, and I think it's relevant to point to some benefits we see since we are including two options that include funding for staff in this new structure. Here are a few cases where we see funding for long term staff can have important benefits:

  1. Long term staff can sometimes provide consistency needed for long term projects that are led by volunteers and can result in significant impact, (e.g. GLAM partnerships, advocacy, making local grants) that volunteers in some communities aren't able to provide. Organizations with staff are often well-placed to do some of this longer term work that requires cultivation at different stages over a longer period of time, or requires some basic overhead to get done.
  2. Staff can sometimes bring expertise to the movement that is critical for addressing some of the issues you've pointed to elsewhere on this page. This can sometimes be relevant only to a specific project, but is sometimes also relevant to an organization's long term, high level strategy around important issues like diversity and community health. (For example, we've seen staff at chapters drive forward progress on gender-gap-related work.)
  3. There are some cases where staff can have a multiplying effect on the work of volunteers by facilitating volunteer-led efforts or providing volunteers with things they need to do more or better work. As with long term partnership work, this can often require building and maintaining relationships over time, consistent availability, and specific expertise in working with volunteers that is sometimes difficult to get outside of paying somebody to do this work.

I don't think this means that funding an organization's staff will automatically result in more impact in every case, and I agree that it's a significant (and longer term) investment for the movement that should be carefully considered. But I do think there are cases where long term staff for local organizations can be high value (and also high enough value to justify the overhead associated with maintaining staff), and it's important to recognize that alongside valuing other models that rely on project-specific staff or volunteers alone. What do you think about some of these benefits I've brought up here, Tony? Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 17:04, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

"What is your solution?"[edit]

Does not really look like a solution but like the description of the problem to be solved. Imagine a clinic with three doctors inside. You enter reception and they direct you to the door of the doctor you need to see.

If each doctor has his own door directly accesible from outside some people will knock at the wrong door. Thus the challenge will not only be a kind welcome, but also a helpful redirection which is not mentioned. Kipala (talk) 07:38, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Hi Kipala, you make a good point. Reducing confusion around where to go for funding is important to everyone involved here. To help ensure that applicants avoid knocking on the wrong door, we are planning on providing 1) a wizard-like series of questions about an applicant’s proposal that will direct them to the right place, and 2) more direct and personal WMF support. Do you have any other suggestions about how we can direct folks to the right place? Thanks, I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 21:41, 20 August 2015 (UTC)
I was also wondering about this, and considering whether a more visual way of presenting the different the 3 types of grants (but 7 options) would make the whole process a lot easier to understand. I like the idea of a wizard and a portal redesign. -Thepwnco (talk) 23:34, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
Kipala has explained very well how we see the grant process from the outside. Thelmadatter is no novice to Wikimedia and has had trouble just to fill the forms properly, and she's an intelligent person. That has to mean something. I work for a company that provides thousands of different products. When we talk to a costumer we don't say Hey! There you have the very many possibilities, make up your mind. It isn't feasible. So an employee listens to their needs, asks if in doubt, makes suggestions if necessary, and helps costumers to fill in the forms!
WMF doesn't have tens of thousands of employees. But the number of APG applications is just in the low docens. And some most numerous grants, like those related to travel expenses are quite standard (I want N euros to go to XWZ to do QRT). By internally processing in a different way the standard requests from the unique ones (WMDE is completely different from WMAR and both are different from a group in Africa trying to organize edit-a-thons) the work can be done faster, providing more help to those that require it. B25es (talk) 10:38, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

"Small grants"[edit]

  • "Micro funds for organizing community events or other small projects under $500."
  • "Seed Funds: Experiment with new ideas. Up to 6 months and $30,000"

The minimum wage is US$ 350 per month in Uruguay, US$ 100 in Mexico and US$ 60 in India. --NaBUru38 (talk) 23:42, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

Yes, small grants will go much farther in these countries. Also, we don't expect every request to hit the upper funding limit for each option. Project grant costs should be reasonable in a local context. Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 18:48, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Volunteer disappointment and losing engagement in case of grant refused.[edit]

A grand application can be some time a source of disappoint and a lose of engagement for volunteers. I've already felt my self this sensation 3 times.

The first time was my first wikimania scholarship application. I was so desapointed to receive a refu after giving so many times in benefit of Wikimedia project than I was thinking to stop my contribution. Fortunatly, I finaly received a grand from the chapter CH Wimedia and every thing was forgoten.

The secund time was after a grand application was refused.

The tird time was when the PEG/WM BE/Budget 2015 H1 wasn't acepted in his first form.

Each time, I felt the same discouragement.

In the tird time, I've rote a message to AWang on this place Grants_talk:PEG/WM_BE/Budget_2015_H1#.40_AWang, and never received reply. Maybe this message can receive more attention to this context of Reimagining WMF grants discution. Here is the message :

Like you are Project and Event Grants Program Officer for Wikimedia, I have to say you somethings :
Some time I think that's maybe offering possibility to wikimedians to request grant is a risk to loose wikimedian or decrease their wikimedian activity when the grant are not accepted. Last year I've leave a submission to Wikimedia foundation to receive a grant to go to wikimania. When I've receive a negative reply without explicit explanation, I was very disappointed and I've starting thinking about not spending so many time on wikimedia project which don't recognize my value − a value completely subjective that's clear because I have no idea about my wikimedia engagement in comparison with all other volunteers. In the end I finally receive a grant from Wikimedia CH which permit to assist to wikimania London, and my reaction started to be completely opposite. I didn't receive so much money, but I was feeling with a debt to Wikimedia. After wikimania, I've made a big an analytic report where other people just right few lines.
Other example : I traveled in India during the end of last year and I've spend many time to share my knowledge about wikip(m)edia. It was a complete private initiative and I did it without thinking about asking money. I didn't know even the existence of grant from the foundation which can be applicable for this type of activity. But some body talked to me that's possible. Now I've edit grant page for my next individual initiative. And suddenly, something stupid starting in my mine. A simple question. What's I will do if the grant is not accepted ? Continue the project like I've already planed or spend less time ans start to be a "lazy wikimedian". Will I spend time on the beach rather than in front of my computer, or dancing and drinking with people during the carnival rather than taking pictures and movies, carrying my bulky camera on its stand ? That's a stupid question because if I didn't ask for a grant, I will probably do everything like I did before in India. Just for fun an for the pleasure to share my time an talent with the rest of the world in a pure gift economy logic. But now, with the deception that can be created by a refuse of my grant, why not trying to get money if my video report is good enough putting it in copyright license ? Waw... A human be like me can be so fragile, so unstable.
But I really love the gift economy. That's probably for me one of the best option to go out the actual economical and spiritual human crisis. So with my experiences shared just before I would like to bing the question about : Is the grant process leaded like Wikimedia foundation do right now, not working against the gift economy which keeps alive all the global Wikimedia project ?
I believe yes. And I believe this for the same reason than election work against democracy.
Election process like grant process don't distribute equality through human be. Both are elitist process giving money and power to the cleverest people, creating by the way jalousie, competition and trouble between human be.
Also, when people make donation to wikipedia they give money without condition. So why Wikimedia distribute a part of this money with conditions ? Why only to people who are able to edit a grant submission in English ? Why spending so much time energy on (at least) uncomfortable discuss, the money than people gived without saying one word ?
That's for me a very important questions that maybe request a debate on our comunity and why not a round table during nest wikimania. What is your opinion ? Where can we, if you or other member want, continue this debate ? Lionel Scheepmans Contact 22:37, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Maybe this time will I received from someone a reaction about this thinking. A nice day for every one, Lionel Scheepmans Contact 16:02, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Lionel, my reaction is that people give money out of trust that it will be spent on maintaining and improving Wikipedia. It's my impression after years of contact with WMF grantmaking that there's little evidence of impact from offline programmatic funding that justifies that trust. If there is, please: let's have it spelled out. Tony (talk) 09:04, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Lionel, we're sorry you had such a bad experience with your grants and that your experience was demotivating. Communicating a decision not to fund a volunteer's project is not easy, but we can't fund every grant request. We want to make sure that the amount of funding is tied to demonstrated impact. There are indeed conditions attached to money received from donors and how it can be spent, and funds are not unlimited. We value many of the concerns you have brought up here, including finding ways to make grants less English-language-centric and less dependent on how well you are able to fill out a form. We agree that being able to speak English well and fill out a form are not the best indicators of who should get a grant in many cases. We also think this is a difficult problem to overcome, and we don't see any obvious solutions yet. Finally, if there are specific ways we can improve communication about requests that aren't funded so that this experience is less demotivating to applicants, this is something we are eager to improve. Thanks again for your ideas. Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 17:49, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Thanks to Winifred and Tony> for replies. For sure dealing with grant should be difficult. And for me writing this message on Meta-Wiki right now means than my experience wasn't yet so frustrating to stop to be involved in Wikimedia project Face-smile.svg. Lionel Scheepmans Contact French native speaker désolé pour la dysorthographie 09:17, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
P.-S. About impact of offline wikimedia activities (related to Tony> message). If Wikimedia consider online activity more effective in term of impact on Wikimedia project that's certainly because it's easier to see the relation between online action and online impact. But for me offline activities are also very important to contribute to the good reputation of project and demystify false believes about the global project even if the relation with online impact is not so easy to observe. Offline activities I'm sure have a crucial influence on donations.


In the proposal I read this sentence : ". (Small community projects up to $500 can be funded through the microfunds option explained in the Event grants section.) "
the meere fact that this is written under the heading project grants speaks for itself : microfunds do not belong in the event grant section but in the project grants. What you might want to do is a "light version" and a full version of projects.. light projects could have smaller admin overhead and quicker evaluation (this remark was also made by other GAC members at the berlin meeting) Event are lerge scale events like conferences. --DerekvG (talk) 16:52, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Hi, DerekvG. I added that sentence to the project grant type since people already brought up that this point was confusing a few times, so apologies if that just made it even more confusing. I don't think that whether we put this option under projects or events will affect applicant experience much in the end, since the same microfunds option will be available to anyone doing a small project or anyone doing a small event. In other words, if you say "The cost of my idea is under $500", as an applicant you will be routed to the microfunds option in either case. Since this point has been brought up a few times here on the discussion page, it's definitely something we'll need to think through more, to make sure it won't end up being confusing to applicants.
For microfunds, overhead and evaluation will be minimal, as you suggest. Are you suggesting we need another light option for projects, other than microfunds? Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 18:46, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Grant reimagining[edit]

Hiya. Now, this might not be the right way to frame my opinion but here it goes. At some point when Asaf was in charge of these things, I might have mentioned that it would be easier for community members to get a loan approved from a bank before getting reimbursement from a wmf grant. That wasn't a criticism of the foundation or any staff member, just the way things were set up back then - between the researching, filing, questioning, approving, reporting and disbursement part of the process, this seemed more and more like a bank loan application with more steps and more questions - in fact, a bank loan assessment would still be private and less scrutinized. As such, I'm pretty sure the grants budget had more and more surplus during the time, since less people knew about it, lesser applied because of the daunting process and then there were instructions on top about focus areas to approve then the disbursement process etc..

I say all that because I know WMF got a few things right over that time. The grants got separated and more people were brought on board - but now it seems like another set of issues, mostly because there are different types of grants, different areas, researching and navigating through all these types of grants and seeing the last approved grants - it's not an easy task for someone new to navigate. In a nutshell, This stuff has to be organized better. A long long time ago I thought of applying for a travel grant for another wikipedian, I looked through all the pages and thought it would be easier to refer them to a staff member off-wiki - this was a big problem considering how long I've been around meta, if it's hard for me than new people are gonna have a much harder time.

I would suggest setting up a few checkpoints for the team to ask themselves when they redesign this -

  • Internal benchmark - Is this process easier than any other commercial fund disbursement process? - I know the purpose there are completely different but the paperwork, budgeting and assessment part have a lot of similarities. Are we making our process easier than say a bank? Would a wikipedian have a better option going through this grant request somewhere else?
  • Use of time and resource - how much time and resource would a user have to commit to get a grant filed and approved? As low as possible, ideally.
  • Guidebook - We need to distill through a lot of policies, practices and research material. Is there a single source of all that a person needs to file his grant? A guidebook, and there should only be one, should have absolutely everything a user would need for the entire process with links to approved grants, Q&A, FAQ, Goals etc..
  • Improved filing process - The process of going from just an idea to a full grant is a long one. Half the time users don't know what to do with an idea, or if they can get a grant to support it or what kind of grant they should seek.
  • Promoting, advertising - I really believe we don't promote our grants well enough internally. I'm sure a large majority of enwp don't even know about the grants, then there are so many other languages and projects. Commons can use so much more grant support - photowalks, meetup, equipment and so on. Commons is different to some extent than enwp because there are already so many existing projects - they just need to know there is official support available for them. enwp is different because how would grants translate to article support?
  • Travel grants and physical meetup - these types of grants really really need to be separated from the whole process and should require much less turnaround time than actual larger grants. If the requested budget is under a threshold (say $1500 for travel) grants should be differed to a much simpler and a quicker response process. The report and paperwork, I assume would be easier since the tickets and accommodation have a streamlined reporting process. I also wonder if instead of disbursing users, wmf can make the travel arrangements itself? I mean booking flights and hotel for a meetup done directly instead of the long way around? (might be liability concerns though......)
  • Multilingual option - I don't know if it exists but we should make it easier to file or translate grants in other languages? I'm not sure if this is done already. There's a lot of multilingual people on staff and translators here who can help out with the process, just need to connect the right people. Make some sort of a list of translators available.

The filing process should be more streamlined - I don't know if we can make this process automated but it should be navigable just by answering questions - for example, 2-3 choices on an empty page, one would be click here if you have an idea for en.wp or commons, then click here if your budget is under x, then click here if you only want travel grant and so on. Just by answering these questions, a user should have a pre-filled template at his disposal with links to where to file for what. Also, worth considering is something like a grant wizard to fill out an automated template that throws out a pre-filled application. I also hope you guys already have a go-to contact for grant application? Someone on staff who can more or less guide people through the process, off-wiki and on-wiki, this person should be as accommodating as possible, if need be, they should be able to file the application on someone's behalf.

I hope this helps, I haven't kept up to date with any grant development so some of my points might be redundant or moot altogether. None the less, I came here to give opinions and chew gum and I'm out of gum. ;) Kind Regards. Theo10011 (talk) 19:58, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

P.S. Hiya Siko and Winifred! It's been a long while, Congrats on the promotion. :) I like this community consultation and reimagining process. Keep up the good work ladies. Theo10011 (talk) 19:58, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Theo10011, it's nice to hear from you. These are helpful thoughts. We do hope the new idea will improve a few of the points you've brought up, namely:
  • We envision a Wizard like you describe, that would use simple questions to guide you to the right form for your grant.
  • We want to simplify application and reporting processes according to the amount of funding and level of risk of each grant, so that applicants and grantees need to spend less time to get smaller amounts of funding. We are planning very simple and lightweight processes for both travel grants and grants under US$500. We've been quietly improving the travel grants process over the last few years, and we think we've got a system that's working pretty well right now. We plan to make it even easier and simpler through the restructure.
Here are some points you brought up that we haven't quite solved but have also been thinking about.
  • Languages. There's no easy solution. I like your idea of better coordination on the volunteer translator side. I think part of what we want to do is understand what translations need to be prioritized and why, and then make the right connections to volunteers who want to help. We've had some success in reaching out to volunteer translators for past work on the portals, but we can improve this. Some of the upcoming pilots we may implement as part of the restructure could be good test cases for improvements in working together with translators. I hope we can call on you for ideas :)
  • I like the idea of having more guidance available during the application process. It's something we offer now, but people don't take us up on it very often, so I think we need to improve the way that we offer it. Lately, we've been emphasizing getting a lot more support to people for actually doing their grants, but hands on support during the application process is also an important idea. I wonder if volunteers would also be interested in helping staff fill that gap. This could be one way to help that idea scale.
  • Great point about promoting grants more broadly. I agree with you that this is important and we haven't been successful at this yet. I think once we get the new structure right, this is the next important step, but it's worth thinking about now.

Thanks again for engaging! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 22:12, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Microfunding take 2[edit]

Hello @Winifred, all.

As I have already mentioned it on some meetings and in the survey, I believe you should take a look at the Wikimedia Polska microgrants pattern (actually, I think it is one of the things WMPL introduced to the Movement).

I heard that WMF has an issue with microfundings, as it is time consuming, burdening for the staff and the amounts disseminated could be bigger (IIRC WMPL itself had not that much smaller disseminated total amount that the whole WMF). Polish Wikigranty (Wikigrants) is a microgrant disseminating programme run by volunteers, formed in a committee of five elected by the WMPL Board for a year term and distributing their annual budget under the imposed rules. The committee is fully independent, its decisions can be overwritten by the Board, e.g. when the applicant complaints, but AFAIR it never happened and the Board has confidence in their Wikigrants Commission. The participants submit their application and if accepted they pay by themselves, send the bills and make a project (meeting the declared targets) so they are reimbursed.

Neither the staff nor the Board do not review application - the only part where they are involved is processing the payments (recognizing bills and transferring money - Treasurer/accounting staff. The programme is used to pay for resource books, travel expenses to take photos and similar. There are two paths for micromicrogrants: simplified for the comm (applications up to 250 PLN) and regular (250-1500 PLN, ca 400 USD nowadays). The comm can ask the Board to increase their budget as they see a big amount of good applications. The comm (esp. its head) watch for finishing the projects - otherwise the people will not get their reimbursement. All the workflow is described nicely on Wikimedia Polska wiki, including the reimbursement policy, archives, current projects with their status and the budget with the current money spent/left! I found it useful and maybe it could be used for WMF flows as well? :)

Now the Wikigranty programme runs its 11th edition and we remain satisfied with the outcomes. Perhaps these learnings (empowering the micro/small grant comm), keep it Meta: transparent AND structured, wikiwiki approach - the comm needs to make decisions fast) could help. Of course, there is a much much smaller learning as a movement part, especially comparing to PEG, but these are microgrants for mosetly standard expenses. Bigger, more interesting things are evaluated by the Board.

If we have time and there is such a need, maybe we should describe it precisely as some learning pattern or a workflow.

Greetings from the grants sessions in WMCEE2015, aegis maelstrom δ 09:25, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Aegis Maelstrom, thanks for sharing this! I think a learning pattern about this would be an amazing contribution. Based on the feedback we've received through the consultation so far, we will be thinking a lot about microgrants in the coming year :) Thanks for sharing these experiences! Cheers, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 21:53, 15 September 2015 (UTC)