Grants talk:IdeaLab/Reimagining WMF grants/Implementation

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Please post your comments on questions here!

Comments[edit]

  • The "Rapid Grants" versus "Project Grants" - a lot of words are written but in practise looking at the project itself the only difference is below or above the $2000. This because it has not been defined what "low-risk" or "experiment" is, sure the most extreme of these are clear, but where the split is between the two is vague.
  • I read "Project Grants will be awarded quarterly (see schedule below)." - and seeing the precise dates, I do not get why this is needed or why this would improve the process. If I need to choose between a project that is prepared well but not in time or quickly set up just to make the deadline, I would go for the well prepared project. Sadly that one will not be done reading this system as it is too late. For a lot of projects it is about using the opportunity to organise a project, an opportunity that only exists for a relative short term.
  • In the past year we had the opportunity of waiting three months because WMF decided to close down the grant system for normal project grants, afterwards there was another delay of three months as they were not capable of handling all the requests at the same time. Conclusion: it was a complete failure. Again three months waiting and then again all at once is now again implemented, did they not learn from the failure last year?

Having changes is fine, but those can both be helpful for projects as non-helpful. This is a degradation of (this part of) the grants system. Romaine (talk) 20:50, 14 March 2016 (UTC)

Hi Romaine. It's useful to hear your feedback.
  • We did not clearly define rapid vs. project grants during the consultation. We are currently drafting the new pages and are providing more guidelines on what is considered low risk. Generally, these are activities that are commonly organized throughout the movement that we know are successful in building community, creating/revising/integrating content, etc. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, community meet-ups, editathons, photo walks/contests, and writing contests. But the budget threshold is definitely an important criteria. Once we publish the guidelines, please take a look at let us know if it is more clear.
  • The discussion to have more consistent submission deadlines vs. rolling has been going on for a long time with grantees and committee members. The feedback we've gotten, and what was expressed during the consultation, was that having quarterly deadlines will be a benefit to both grantees and the committee. It will set expectations for when people will have a decision on their grant, allowing them to better plan. We also feel that a better planned project is always better than a rushed one. This way, people have a few months to plan knowing what the deadlines are. For last-minute needs, rapid grants are available on a rolling basis. For a project that is over $2000, plans should not be rushed and advance planning is needed.
  • The situation during last year's Inspire Campaign was definitely not ideal, but our assessment was that it was not a complete failure as many high-quality grants were discussed and accepted. We were piloting a program while under-resourced in terms of staff. However, with the grants restructure there will be a minimum of two program officers working on the review and decision-making process each quarter. The added capacity will ensure that we meet out deadlines.
Please let us know if you have more concerns or suggestions on how the restructure can be improved. We will do a review of the changes after 6 months to see if they are meeting the community needs expressed during the consultation. Thanks, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 14:58, 18 March 2016 (UTC)
Hello Alex Wang, Thank you for replying.
  • Please keep in mind that if you have two criteria (budget under/above 2000 and low-risk versus experiment), the low risk + under 2000 and experiment + above 2000 are covered, but low risk + above 2000 and experiment under 2000 also exist. Unless you try to say that above 2000 is per definition high risk and under the 2000 low risk.
  • If I was asked if a quarterly deadline would benefit the process, I would have disagreed with that and protested heavily against that. So you refer to incomplete feedback! Only submitting grants four times a year does not improve the quality, is not really supporting projects, works demotivating as it shows that we have to fit in the system of WMF instead that WMF supplies us with a system that actually supports grantees. Also this will bring projects in trouble, because they have to adjust their well thought through plan to some crazy WMF system that makes no sense. I will give some examples. Wikipedians are not bureaucratic people and can organise a well thought through project in a relative short period of time.
  • First example: If a group of Wikipedians decide on the 15th of July to organise a local Wiki Loves Monuments contest in September and calculate an amount of $2500, they are perfectly capable of organising in this period, can deliver great quality, but WMF is frustrating the project by having a crazy schedule.
  • Second example: If a group of Wikipedians decide on the 2nd of June to organise a local Wiki Loves Monuments contest in September, and calculate an amount of $2500, they are even considered to be early for Wiki Loves Monuments, but are already too late for the grants system. WMF does not want that grantees spend money before their grant has been approved. Wiki Loves Monuments starts on the fixed date of 1 September. The results of the grants are announced on 5 September. Too late!
  • Third example: If a group of Wikipedians wants to organise a simple project (like a photo contest, $2500) that starts on 1 December, they have to submit their request on 1 July!!!!! That is 5 months before the start!!
This is a ridiculous time frame! 5 months on forehand is crazy long in comparison with the size of the project. Not doable for organisers of relatively simple projects.
  • "It will set expectations for when people will have a decision on their grant, allowing them to better plan." -> Or not plan at all because WMF makes it impossible to organise a project, as 5 months is far too long on forehand of a simple but good project.
  • "This way, people have a few months to plan knowing what the deadlines are." -> This is bogus or you haven't thought the system through. A "few months" is an understatement here and completely untrue.
  • "We also feel that a better planned project is always better than a rushed one." -> Project teams have to rush already 5 months on forehand of the actual start of their project and then those people are just lucky to be in time. Having such large time frame of 5 months, does not improve the quality of a plan as project teams have to rush to be in time. So you say you want quality and a better planned plan, in practise you choose for a rushed plan as result of a time frame that is not thought through.
  • "For last-minute needs, rapid grants are available on a rolling basis." -> If you have put the border between rapid grants and projects grants at $2000, this is not true. If a simple project costs $2200 it cannot use the rapid grants, so the rapid grants do not exist for those. In practise this is an option for some projects, for a lot other simple projects this is not an option because of the $2000 limit.
I can draw only one conclusion here: WMF is pushing APG type of planning to simple projects, while those simple projects are often not suitable for that kind of planning, shown by the ridiculous 5 month period. In this way WMF is actively frustrating simple but good projects, because they did not think their system deep enough through. If this is not changed, this will result on excluding a lot of projects using the grants system, purely because of a strange system. Secondly, this shows to me that the grants system is money driven instead of quality driven.
  • One thing that concerns me a lot with this system of project grants, is what will happen if WMF is not capable of handling a grant request in time? This can for example happen when WMF does not understand the project, like because of a lack of the local knowledge and cultural differences. I fear that while WMF is then the problem, the project will face the results of that, like resulting in the rejection of a project (because WMF has to follow an unrealistic time frame they created themselves).
  • The third point:
    • "The situation during last year's Inspire Campaign was definitely not ideal, but our assessment was that it was not a complete failure as many high-quality grants were discussed and accepted." -> You close the grants system for regular projects, that is what I am talking about. What you do in the spare time created in this way can be great, but is to me not relevant for regular project grants. You like to look to the things that went well, but I have too much the impression that the problems caused are ignored. I call it a "complete failure", because it was late announced, not possible to submit grants, plus in the three months afterwards the grants team was still not capable of handling regular grants well, in total 6 problematic months, and to me the critics at any stage are not taken seriously enough.
    • "We were piloting a program while under-resourced in terms of staff." -> Sounds to me that the plan was too rushed, as said plans should not be rushed and advance planning is needed. I can understand what caused the troubles, but that is not an excuse. I am happy you now have more capacity. However, and I have seen that happen too many times in the Wikimedia Foundation, quality is to the community more important than quantity and deadlines.
As I am aware I can be direct in communication as such is common in my region of the world, my apologies if it is experienced in a too hard way. Second, I have critics because I care about the projects and the grants system, so it works for everyone. Greetings - Romaine (talk) 11:52, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

This is huge improvement. The structure/grant categories are clear. Absolutely agree that low-cost, "rapid" grants shouldn't be tied up in a huge application process that requires lengthy evaluation. Jsm0925 (talk)

Hi Jsm0925. Thanks for the positive feedback. We hope the restructure will help make the grantmaking process more clear and easy!

travel support[edit]

Hi! I am a little bit confused: will we have one joint department for travel support or will we have two of them? Now I see this and this. The information on the page doesn't give particular explanation, too. rubin16 (talk) 16:51, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

@Rubin16: Pinging KHarold (WMF) and AWang (WMF) to clarify the distinction here. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 12:50, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
Hi rubin16. We will have a new grants program called Conference & Travel Support. Under that program there is (1) Travel & Participation Support (TPS) and (2) Conference Support. TPS will remain largely unchanged from it's current format and process. The Conference Support program will support large conferences in the movement. For example, large national Wikiconferences, regional conferences (CEE Meeting, WikiIndaba, Iberoconf, etc.), and thematic conferences (GLAM Wiki, Wikisource conference, etc.). Having a grants program dedicated to conferences will allow WMF staff to provide more hand-on support to conference organizers around program planning, surveying, scholarships, etc.. The Conference Support Program launches August 2nd and the pages on Meta are currently under construction. KHarold (WMF) will manage both of these programs so you can reach out to her with more questions. Thanks. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 18:20, 14 July 2016 (UTC)