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Latest comment: 9 years ago by Tony1 in topic Additional rationale from WMF


I have participated in Ada Camp D.C and Ada Camp Portland. My attendance at Ada Camp, Portland was supported by the Wikimedia TPS grant. Participating in Ada Camps helped me to build contacts and learn best practices for volunteering with Wikimedia. Ada Camp helped me to build contacts within Wikimedia and outside which were crucial for beginning a couple of Wikimedia initiatives I am now a part of. I have reported the outcomes of Ada Camp here, here and here. I have committed to the Ada Initiative that I will help them in spreading the word about Ada Camp Bangalore among Wikimedians in India, which will hopefully encourage many women Wikimedians to attend. I hope that many Indian women will benefit from Ada Camp as much as I did. Netha Hussain (talk) 16:58, 17 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

Evaluation by the GAC[edit]

GAC members who support this request[edit]

GAC members who oppose this request[edit]

  1. Strong oppose. No interest in paying plane tickets and food for a project with low strategic/community links. See also my last comment in case of overfunding MADe (talk) 17:14, 13 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

GAC members who abstain from voting/comment[edit]

GAC comments[edit]

I suppose that I'll go first; what percentage of the event content will be directly Wikimedia-related? I guess the thing I'm a bit concerned about here is that while involving women more heavily in technology is an absolutely laudable and worthwhile goal and one that I personally support, I'm not sure that increasing female participation in, say, "fan/remix culture" falls under the remit of the Wikimedia movement or this grant programme. Craig Franklin (talk) 12:37, 17 July 2014 (UTC).Reply

Good question! As I write this 48 hours after opening applications, 32% (10/31) of the applications to attend AdaCamp Berlin are from Wikimedians. We also have 5 travel scholarships that will be awarded by Wikimedia UK to attend AdaCamp Berlin, which is 10% of the expected attendees. For AdaCamp Bangalore, 73% (22/30) of the applications are from Wikimedians. We expected high Wikimedian participation at these events for several reasons: (a) AdaCamp Berlin is hosted at WMF DE, (b) WM UK scholarships, (c) the two people from India who attended previous AdaCamps are both Wikimedians, (d) most of the Ada Initiative's open tech/culture contacts in these two areas are Wikimedians. Overall, I project approximately 50% Wikimedians across both AdaCamps. Since the content is proposed by the attendees based on their personal interests, we expect a great deal of Wikimedia-related content. Valerie Aurora (talk) 00:16, 25 July 2014 (UTC)Reply
Hi Valerie, thanks for the update. I do not regard it as problematic as such if a WM-funded conference strays into related topic areas, so long as the movement gets value for money in terms of the portion that is in scope. Craig Franklin (talk) 08:54, 30 July 2014 (UTC)Reply
I agree. Although I support the general idea, I am bit worry about the proposed "program" which is very vague. "A series of short talks on a wide range of topics given by participants to the group as a whole." So, what this conference is going to be about? Are there any studies about problems that Women have with participation in Wikimedia projects? I mean this may end up in discussion about everything and nothing. I guess the real problems that Women have with participation in Wikimedia projects, should be rather recognized before the conference, by making some serious statistical studies.. Polimerek (talk) 20:56, 20 July 2014 (UTC)Reply
I understand that the unconference format can make me people uncertain about the value of a conference in advance. The interesting thing about unconferences is that since the sessions are decided at the conference itself, they are usually exactly what people are interested in at the time. Our post-conference surveys are overwhelmingly positive about the unconference format, saying that AdaCamp sessions are more relevant and interesting than those at other conferences they attend. The AdaCamp Portland report includes event reports by at least two Wikimedians describing what they got out of the event.Valerie Aurora (talk) 00:29, 25 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

Comments from Kiril Simeonovski[edit]

Thanks for the submission. I think the initiative is worth supporting because of the benefits it gives to our movement but I still think that some things could be cleared up. My questions are the following:

  1. You explain the measures of success that will be used with no real numbers at all. Could you please work out on amending them to set numerical thresholds on what should be attained in order to make it success? I see that you mention a total number of 50 attendees on different places in your application, so it shouldn't be a big problem to quantify them properly.
  2. What are the other parties that are expected to cover the expenses?
  3. Where do you expect the people who will be granted the scholarships to come from? Do you intend to grant them only to people from Germany and India or to consider other countries as well? The amount of $500 seems to be relatively low given that includes travel expenses and accommodation.
  4. Can you reveal more information about the conference programme and the facilitators (Link to the official page, if possible, would be appreciated.)? How many Wikimedians will facilitate the sessions and to what extent the Wikimedia movement will be presented?

Thanks.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 07:55, 21 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for the questions! I have updated the page to set specific goals. I'm not sure why you asked the question about which parties are covering the other expenses because the section "Additional sources of revenue that may fund part of this project, and amounts funded" is fairly detailed on that subject, but the short version is our corporate sponsors and the Ada Initiative's general fund. The scholarships are intended for people within a few hundred miles and are not intended to cover 100% of attendee's expenses for 100% of the grantees. We reviewed the travel scholarship amounts with local people and organizations and they thought they were reasonable. We used the same scholarship amounts for national travel grants for previous AdaCamps. The conference programme and facilitators are not provided because, as an unconference, they will be determined by the attendees who are selected through our competitive invitation process. We estimate based on current applications that Wikimedians will make up around 50% of the attendees. Since the attendees determine the sessions, we expect that a great deal of the content will be relevant to the Wikimedians present. You can read our reports from previous AdaCamps to get a sense of how well this works, and our post-conference surveys indicate that AdaCamp attendees find the content more relevant and interesting than at most conferences.
Thanks for the extensive answer. I was not sure as to how these parties are involved and whether they cover the expenses directly or just contribute to Ada Initiative's general fund.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 13:27, 25 July 2014 (UTC)Reply
I see, thanks for clarifying! Most sponsorship money is paid into our general fund, whereupon we use it to pay conference expenses. A few donors each year pay directly for conference receptions or travel scholarships. We have not yet raised enough money in sponsorships, direct or indirect, to cover the cost of any AdaCamp. This year we will be funding the shortfall from our general fund, as described in the main application.Valerie Aurora (talk) 03:49, 30 July 2014 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for clearing it up!--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 12:26, 31 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

Comments MADe[edit]

I went through the grant request, but have some difficulties understanding it.

  1. Is it correct that you ask for funding for travel scholarships for 10 people ($5k) and catering for everybody (6,5k$)?
  2. Why do you approach the WMF to fund this part of the total budget (130k$ in total)? How do these relate to our mission statement or our goal?
  3. The grant mentions If that is the case, we would spend the remaining funds on one or more of the following -> this is a no go for me. We can support the budget but we need to know what we are supporting. Surely the WMF does not want to spend it on International travel grants (2k$) or Travel and lodging for the organizers (7k$)
  4. The project is supported by Wikimedia DE, however, as from this grant I do not see their support (eg. community members involved in this specific project).

I currently have too much doubts and questions to vote in favour of this grant request. MADe (talk) 13:49, 3 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for your questions!

  1. Yes, we are asking for funding for travel scholarships for 10 people ($5,000) and catering for 50 people for two days (lunch and two snacks) at each of two AdaCamps ($6,480).
  2. We ask for funding for AdaCamp from a variety of sources. These costs are predictable and set costs that are specifically for the two AdaCamps that will serve the most Wikimedians (as described above).
  3. We would accept any grant conditions you wish to put in place, including using funds only for specific, Foundation-approved purposes. We would also ensure the return of any unused funds.
  4. Wikimedia DE is providing the venue and venue-logistical support free of charge. The Wikimedia DE department Education and Knowledge is also providing all beverages for attendees over the two-day conference. Our main contact for venue logistics is Daniela Gentner and in the department of Education and Knowledge, Julia Kloppenburg.
3. I have a problem with the possibility parts of the budget could be used on International travel grants (2k$) or Travel and lodging for the organizers (7k$). This seems like a loophole, making it possible to use our money for different means, including misuse of funds (eg. personal travel)MADe (talk) 17:17, 13 August 2014 (UTC)Reply
It's legitimate to be concerned about these proposed expenses, MADe, but let's assume good faith and avoid hypothesizing about "misuse of funds". Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 18:18, 13 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

WMF comments[edit]

Thank you for this grant request and your engagement with the discussion so far.

  • In terms of the participants, we are happy to support local participants from the EU (for Berlin) and South Asia (for Bangalore). Please note we would not support international travel.
  • Do you have an update on the % of Wikipedians registered for the two camps?

Thanks, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 03:27, 2 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

Alex, support for local travel scholarships would be very much appreciated! We are in the final stages of reviewing applications for both Berlin and Bangalore and in the next week expect to begin inviting successful applicants to register. We can provide you with an update of the percentages of Wikimedians accepted and invited -- as well as those registered -- on August 15th.

Tony1 questions and comments[edit]

I've contributed to public coverage of the gender gap in the WM movement over the past few years, including the Royal Society event in London, so prima facie this project is very attractive to me; but unfortunately I can't support it yet. I want this to succeed, though, and believe it can with more detail and planning. Grantmaking staff can be skype-phoned, emailed, etc, and would be very willing to give advice and feedback if you wish.

Aside: the form doesn't ask you to state where the funding for your organisation normally comes from, or where it's based physically.

My specific comments in part relate to some of the comments made above.

  1. Project goal: I'm concerned about the dilutionary factor in the breadth of AdaCamp's aims, which might have longer-term networking and osmotic benefits, but not those that are possible to measure, and that most donors to the WMF would be comfortable with. I do like your criteria for selecting invitees. The two-country strategy is good, as is the benefits of association with Wikimedia Germany (but even those excellent people were unable to organise the 2014 WM Conference in ways that could deliver solid benefits to our readers—lessons for future conference-giving strategies, I believe; and your list of advisors is impressive, but still doesn't necessarily make for solid outcomes).
  2. Measures of success: I guess it's ≥100 and ≥40%. The post-event quality assurance survey: could I suggest a Lickert scale rather than binary yes/no questions; and do make the questions searching (not "Did you increase your netowrk of women in open tech/culture", but "If you increased your network of women in open tech/culture, how many are you likely to have online contact with over the next 12 months". I suggest making the survey as short as possible, and try to get a maximal sample; please see our relevant "learning pattern", with links to other possibly helpful pages under "See also". (Any suggestions for improvement, please write them on the talkpages.) "Production of publicly available documentation licensed CC BY-SA or similar" is very weak as a measure of success, because it's so vague.
  3. Activities: I'm very nervous about what you said above about the "unconference" approach to ad-hoc design on the spot according to what people "want" at the conference. It goes against everything I know about conferences, including that the more preparation by both presenters/facilitators and attendees, the more that will be achieved. Conferences should not be the opening of discussion, but the culmination of online discussion over several weeks or months. This kills it for me.

    For example: "Participants define the breadth and scope of the barriers to success they encounter in open source technology and culture". Yep, but can't you survey/discuss beforehand, come up with some themes/approaches for people to knock down or modify or enhance at the conference? This is too loosely conceived at the moment. "What are the existing solutions to problems?"—there are no magic bullets, and we have a gender crisis on our hands; not much progress will be made by brainstorming at the conference itself.

    "What are other/more ideas to solve problems?: Participants identify ways they can remove or overcome barriers or fill gaps in resources and solutions that will allow them to succeed in open source technology and culture." Same problem. You need solid debating points already, before the conference. All the better if they irritate or enthuse people—then you might get things progressing.

    "Topic-focused dinner groups in the local community."—well maybe, but I suspect they won't make any progress if people have been debating and thinking hard in the actual sessions; I'd be inclined to admit this and just make it dinner groups in the local community.

  4. Budget: Catering for Bangalore is half that of Berlin; I'm surprised the cost-structure isn't more like a quarter, actually. There seems to be no different in travel and accommodation costs for the two locations, which is puzzling. (And how far afield do you expect to be drawing people to these centres?)
  5. 40 volunteer hours at each event: this will be drawn from WM affiliates? Editing communities?
  6. Benefits: AdaCamp attendees will produce or improve several documents during the conference, all publicly available and licensed CC BY-SA." Could we have some examples, and how they'll impact on our readers? "Creation of a welcoming and supportive environment for women"—ok, better than nothing; but we need thousands more women to join the WM movement. Thousands.
Running scores against PEG criteria and strategic priorities.

This scoring table is work in progress. I'd like to know later whether you think it's useful, and soon if you think any of the scores are unfair at this juncture. The general idea is that both scores and certainties should change (hopefully upwards!) as the application and talkpage develop.


  • 1 = very weak or no alignment
  • 3 = weak alignment
  • 5 = passable alignment; room for significant improvement
  • 7 = reasonably good alignment
  • 10 = excellent alignment
Criterion Running score Certainty level of scoring Notes
(a) High-quality content: Potential for increase at WMF sites (e.g. Spanish Wikipedia, Commons). 2 Medium–high I just don't see any strategy that will get through to our readers; some WMF site-related themes, propositions, discussion points, and possible strategies might convince me. What would you like to achieve for our readers? (Then work backwards from that.)
(b) High-level participation: Potential for increase at WMF sites. 4 Medium Again, I'd like to see some anchors in the planning for getting participants (non-WM participants, too, please!) to become regular contributors. And, of course, ways for them to go back and engage with target groups of women in their local communities (how, and which groups, might be a solid discussion point before the conference, and then during).
(c) Volunteers: Their availability, readiness, and skill-base for implementing the activities. Are the scale and scope of the activities commensurate with this? 5 Medium–high A few details would be reassuring.
(d) Measures of success: Are they realistic and actually measurable in context? 5 High Some are ok, some are too vague.
(e) Budget: Matches scale and scope? Strategic justification for labour and materials? Responsible growth/investment? 5 Medium It would be good to know the larger budgetary context (briefly, what are you other, non-WMF allocations). India–Germany cost disparities.
(f) Sustainability of impact and increase in reach (new partnerships, public awareness of WMF sites). Would the work keep on giving? 5 High This could be worked through in a little more detail. Are there local women's groups that could be targeted after the conference? How would you do this, and what impact would it produce?
(g) Community engagement/support (could include promotion of diversity in the WM movement). 3 High I'm assessing participants' ability to engage with other women (and male supporters of the cause) in their local communities, strengthened by strategies worked through/confirmed at the conference. Some details would raise this score a lot.

I hope this is helpful as interim feedback against the basic criteria.

Tony (talk) 07:54, 10 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

Request approved[edit]

Thank you and the GAC for your discussion of this grant request. We acknowledge the GAC's concerns around the direct impact on Wikimedia projects as well as the unconference format. Ada Camp (and the Ada Initiative) targets an audience much broader than just the Wikimedia community. While we would generally like to fund events dedicated to Women Wikimedians, those events are unfortunately few and far between. In the absence of other funding opportunities, we are happy to fund Ada Camp. While we are cautious of the impact of unconferences, we recognize that the Ada Camp organizers have a history of practice and do bring debating points and a degree of planned content to these events (as experienced by WMF staff in past workshops).

Please note that we are not approving any international travel. We are are fine with funding regional travel scholarships (EU for Berlin and Southeast Asia for Bangalore). We also agree with Tony that the survey should be short, with a high sample size.

We look forward to supporting more women in the movement! Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 17:42, 15 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

Additional rationale from WMF[edit]

At the request of the GAC and other community members, we are providing additional rationale for why we have decided to fund this proposal.

As stated above, it would have been better to fund an event exclusively aimed at supporting women in Wikimedia. However, such an event is not available for us to support, at the moment. What was on the table was a proposed event by a group with good credentials in organizing training events for women, with decent familiarity with our movement and with the specific challenges for women on the Wikimedia projects, where a significant proportion (almost 50%, at last count) of the participants are going to be active Wikimedians. Our choice was between funding _that_ or funding nothing.

Given that addressing the gender gap is one of WMF's stated goals, and that this event is one of the more credible tools we have found so far to address that (in that it is endorsed by some experienced women Wikimedians, such as Netha Hussein (see her endorsement), Sumana Harihareswara, the late Cindamuse, Sarah Stierch, and others), as well as the fact we are only asked to fund part of the event, we decided it is in the movement's interest to support this event.

Regarding the "unconference" format: we have already stated we share the concerns raised by some of you about the impact of that format, in particular in events that are not entirely local or low-budget, and it is still our position that we much prefer a planned agenda to an unplanned one. However, we are reasonably confident there would be an effective agenda in this event, based on previous events (for instance, the DC AdaCamp agenda), and on the fact the Ada Initiative organizers are not mere participants in these events, but are bringing deliberate content to teach and planned exercises to run and discuss (e.g. the ubiquitous "imposter syndrome"). I.e. it's not a "pure" unconference anyway.

A number of comments were not responded to by the grantee at the time we made the decision, but we considered the substance of them adequately addressed in the preceding conversation.

Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 21:33, 22 August 2014 (UTC)Reply

Thank you Alex. I don't consider it acceptable for the applicants simply not to respond to reviewer comments—it's as though grantmaking staff are acting on behalf of the applicants, and/or have decided to wave through the request before it's even posted here. The situation is clouded by the fact that many people on the AdaCamp advisory committee are currently or formerly connected with the WMF, including Sue Gardner. The potential conflict of interest here needed to be handled very carefully. It does make me wonder what the role of reviewers is in cases like this. Tony (talk) 03:41, 23 August 2014 (UTC)Reply
I agree concerns need to be addressed. In our judgment, they were (to our satisfaction, that is), even if not every question had an explicit response beneath it, as there was some overlap. That said, we will make it more explicit from now on, and point applicants (as we have done in the past) to concerns we still do not consider addressed.
The presence of several current and former WMF personnel on the Ada Initiative's advisory board does indeed raise a possible conflict of interest. The fact of the association was duly disclosed by the applicants in the very first revision of the request. It has been reviewed according to WMF's policy, and it was determined (by WMF Legal counsel) there is not a priori issue with granting funds to Ada Initiative, provided the employees on the AI board are not involved. It was indeed the case that absolutely none of the employees (past and present) associated with AI were involved in this grant, not even by casual mention, and certainly had no communication with Grantmaking staff at all, nor any influence on this decision. Thus actual conflict of interest did not occur here. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 05:47, 23 August 2014 (UTC)Reply
OK, thanks for your explanation, Asaf. Tony (talk) 10:42, 23 August 2014 (UTC)Reply