Grants talk:PEG/Consumer Reports/Wikipedian in Residence

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More background info[edit]

  • Could you provide more background for the project? You mention "Consumer Reports initiative relating to health" - what it is exactly and how it relates to Wikipedia? How Wikipedia is about to benefit from this cooperation? Is there any relevant page on Wikipedia describing the project(Wikiproject maybe?)
  • I am a bit worry about licence politics of Consumer Reports. The webpage is in general "hard-copyrighted" - "Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission." and their "written permission" allows only for non-commercial use [1] [2]. Do WMF has any "written permission" which allows for content exchange between Wikipedia and Consumer Reports? CC-BY-SA licence seems not to fit with their "NC" policy, and Wikimedia projects do not accept "NC" licences...

Polimerek (talk) 11:49, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Hi Polimerek, thank you for the questions.
(1) The core of the residency is built around this project: [3] The overall project is independent of Wikipedia; its purpose is to convene experts and non-experts to evaluate scientific information and deliberate the best ways to present it on the web. It will engage medical experts and others, to evaluate the value of medical procedures that are heavily prescribed. It is an exploration of the conflicts of interest within the medical field, and their impact on the information available to the general public. (This page, on one of the objectives of the funding organization for the broader project, may also be informative: [4]) The project will engage a number (currently nine, perhaps more) of medical associations, whose members (doctors and researchers) are exploring the value of medical procedures. The value and credibility of the project will hinge on its transparency: is the interpretation of relevant science accurate, fair, neutral? Properly disclosed? Wikipedians have important expertise and experience to share in this area.
The Wikipedian in Residence will work to connect the staff of Consumer Reports and the partner medical associations with Wikipedians, facilitating learning in both directions, and surfacing opportunities to add factual information to Wikipedia articles. This will involve the use of WikiProjects, but the Resident's opinions on how to go about that (what projects to engage) will be needed before we know exactly what WikiProject(s). The central purpose of the residency is to explore the interface between experts and Wikipedians in providing neutral, peer reviewed, encyclopedic information to the public.
Let me reiterate, though: the present funding request is not for the core of this project, but to fund the portion (25%) that would explore deeper opportunities for a future Wikipedian in Residence in other departments of the organization.
(2) Your observations are insightful. Unlike some partnerships (like the U.S. National Archives residency [5]), this project's central purpose is not to distribute content that is already in the pubic domain, or to liberate content from copyright; instead, it is to explore more general opportunities for collaboration with an organization that shares important values with Wikipedia. [6] Anyone adding content to Wikipedia will be licensing that content under the appropriate free license, of course; but there is a great deal of Consumer Reports content that will not be part of this project, and which will remain under copyright. However, there is an opportunity to explore is whether there is a willingness to release some content under a compatible free license. This is one of the reasons for the present grant: to support ongoing discussions with various departments of Consumer Reports, exploring the future use of free licenses. (Also, please note that even when relicensing content is the central purpose of a Residency, it can be a complex issue, requiring focused work to explore a variety of concerns; this case study from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is informative.)
The "no commercial use" policy is a complex and interesting issue, which I have discussed with them in some detail. This policy dates back many years, long before the GFL etc. It is more about the Consumer Reports trademark than copyright: Consumer Reports protects the integrity of its product reviews, in part, by deterring companies from advertising the Consumer Reports rating of its products. The term "no commercial use" actually has a different meaning within Consumer Reports than it does for us: it is not primarily about copyright licenses. It is a complex issue, and one worthy of further exploration.
-Pete F (talk) 17:46, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the submission. In the application you seem to elaborate something with potential, but some essentials are not clear to me at all. Could you please inform us better about the initiatives that Consumer Reports have? Is it possible to participate in other initiatives or it's already agreed for the one related to health only? Additionally, how this relates to our Wikipedian in Residence model inside GLAM and what do you see as the most important perspective for further development of this model? Best regards.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 18:08, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks Kiril, I will do my best! I may have erred in the grant application, by trying to give an overly simple presentation to something that is, admittedly, complex. So let me try to address that here. (I should note, I prefer to add detail here on the discussion page rather than on the grant application itself, simply because the project has not yet been publicly announced. If there is something specific that you feel is important to add to the application page, let me know, and I will try to accommodate.)
This residency grows out of an extensive discussion with Consumer Reports. I'll briefly recap the history between CR and Wikipedia: Craig Newmark, a member of the WMF Advisory Board, is a member of Consumer Reports' Board of Directors. He and Sue Gardner saw close alignment in the missions of the organizations, and engaged with some CR staff on several occasions over the last several years. While I was working on the WMF's Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative, we put a member of the CR staff on the project's advisory board; although there was not a really close fit with that project's goals, this did provide WMF and me an opportunity to begin exploring what a more useful partnership might look like. Ultimately, Sue reached the conclusion that a direct partnership between WMF and CR probably did not make sense, and referred her contacts to me, as an independent consultant and a Wikipedian. Starting last fall, I have met with about 20 staff members of CR to discuss possible collaborations with Wikipedians.
In those meetings, it was clear that (1) there is great interest in all those departments working with Wikipedians and Wikipedia, but that (2) mere interest is not sufficient to dedicate resources (stipends for Residents, and maybe more importantly, staff time) to a program. In the health project described above, there was sufficient buy-in to launch a project; in other departments, we are not there yet, but we expect that the presence and activity of a Wikipedian in Residence in one part of the organization will be inspiring to other departments.
There are many dimensions to be explored. A few possibilities:
  • providing independent reviews of Wikipedia content in CR staffs' areas of expertise;
  • documenting the science behind various testing procedures, in ways that can inform Wikipedia articles on general articles;
  • releasing (some of) the holdings of Consumer Reports' archives, which generally document the history of the consumers' movement in the U.S. and internationally, under a compatible free license;
  • documenting recommended practices for experts to engage with Wikipedia content that comply with Wikipedia policies and culture, and more generally, advance Wikimedia's mission
These are only a few of the ideas that emerged from our detailed discussions. The purpose of the present grant is to support the continuation of those discussions, with the hope of generating strong buy-in at the organization to fund and sponsor further Wikipedian in Residence programs in other areas of the organization.
You also asked about how this relates to models developed by GLAM Wikipedians in Residence. I have been in close contact with the GLAMwiki community, most notably by facilitating GLAMcamp DC a couple weeks ago. (See Lori's blog post here: [7]; our detailed grant report is in progress.) The projects proposed to CR were generally based on GLAM case studies; the health residency will mainly be based on the WikiProject and Edit-a-Thon models, with the Resident acting mainly as a facilitator, guiding Wikipedians and CR and medical society staff to communicate and collaborate.
What is the most important prospect for the future of the program? The GLAMwiki community is interested in effectively meeting an increasing demand for Wikipedians in Residence. I believe that by carefully focusing on the ways to serve the missions and strategic goals of two organizations (i.e., Wikipedia and another organization), we will illustrate a clear path forward that may be repurposed by other organizations; and also one that will help organizations justify allocating resources to Wikipedian in Residence positions.
-Pete F (talk) 20:05, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
So, do we have the prospect of commitment from any relevant WikiProject? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:23, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
I believe it is premature to seek commitment from a WikiProject; I would regard the Wikipedian in Residence, yet to be recruited, as a key stakeholder in determining the best way to introduce the various parties to the project and to one another.
We have, however, explored the most directly relevant WikiProjects, and believe we have a foundation for effective engagement. There are two WikiProjects, with markedly different profiles, that would likely be good fits: WikiProject Health and Fitness is probably the best fit, conceptually; though it has a list of interested participants, it is not terribly active. WikiProject Medicine is a highly active project, with 206 members and an engaging WikiProject Report in a Wikipedia Signpost from last summer.
I am highly confident that there will be opportunities to engage with these WikiProjects, but the nature of the engagement will of course depend on the interest in those communities. The activities intended to be funded by this grant, though, would probably not involve these WikiProjects; the interactive elements would generally be internal to Consumer Reports, with outward communications (blogging, writing case studies) to the Wikipedia community and the general public. -Pete F (talk) 22:06, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Can you post the info about the grant in the grant page Peter? Is quite difficult to find what we want in the ton of talk here, and the grant page don't say much. Béria Lima msg 15:29, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Beria, yes, I can see that I may have underestimated how much detail was necessary. Thank you for that feedback; I will incorporate more information as you suggest. -Pete F (talk) 23:56, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
(update) I have expanded the "Project scope…" section, I hope this is sufficient explanation. This is mostly extracted from the answers I provided above, but hopefully it is now in an easier-to-follow format. I'll keep watching in case of further questions of course. -Pete F (talk) 00:32, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

I found the Choosing Wisely project meaningful and I cross my fingers for it. But I am not sure if it (or better this grant) fits to WMF strategy. Could you be somewhat detailed, Pete? Thanks. --Packa (talk) 00:40, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Hi Packa, I'm very pleased to learn that you read into the background project and find it worthwhile, at least personally. I have expanded the section on strategic fit per your comments, I hope this helps. -Pete F (talk) 01:03, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Measures of success[edit]

Hi, Pete.

  1. Would you mind including a few more details about recruiting in the section "Measures of success"? Specifically, what are the attributes / skills of the WIRs you would like to attract? If the goal of your project is successful recruitment of WIRs, how will you determine if recruiting is successful / effective?
  2. In order to determine success in recruiting, do you have plans to measure or evaluate the deliverables associated with the work of these WIRs in relation to the skills you are seeking? If so, are you able to include some measures of success that relate more specifically to the project scope outlined here, and additionally to the parts of the project you would like to see funded by WMF? For example, can you elaborate on what you expect to see in terms of "blogging, reports and case studies on the Outreach Wiki or Meta, etc." and how you will define how these products contribute to the overall success of the project?

Feel free to reach out with any questions, and thanks for your responses.

Wolliff (talk) 22:54, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks Winifred, I will attend to that. I was trying to follow the model of this grant: Grants:WM DK/Wikipedian-in-Residence Scholarship in preparing this grant request. I share the views expressed by User:Palnatoke here: Grants talk:WM DK/Wikipedian-in-Residence Scholarship#Measurement of success -- which I think is also reflected in your question; in other words, that what is needed is some detail about the attributes sought in recruitment, as opposed to outcomes of the residency itself. I'll return with some more detail on that later this evening; just wanted to let you know my thinking before I dive in. Please set me straight if I'm missing anything in that assessment. -Pete F (talk) 02:43, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
More detail now included: [8] -Pete F (talk) 06:48, 1 March 2012 (UTC) And expanded my answer to more fully address the second question. -Pete F (talk) 06:58, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Pete! Wolliff (talk) 22:56, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Criteria for submission[edit]


Hi Pete :) I'm sorry I'll be a bit though on your request, even if your idea and work on this is clearly valuable.

I'm having a hard time seeing how this request does not violate at least two of Grants:Index#Key_guidelines_and_criteria:

1. Grants should not replace volunteer action to accomplish valuable work. They are intended as a supplement that supports volunteer effectiveness.


2. With some exceptions for larger more complex grants, grants should not fund staff salaries and other recurring expenses (e.g. rent).

not to mention the possible conflict of interest arising from a member of the board of directors of that organization being also a member of the WMF advisory board, whose actions directly promoted this grant request. This was not initially mentioned and, in the grant's page, remains unstated and not addressed.

Also, but this just out of curiosity, did you meet with those 20 CR staff members in the condition of a WMF independent consultant, or did you use your free time to do it?

Now, returning to the first issue raised, I'm trying understand why a Wikimedian in Residence should make so much money. Where does the value of $4.000 come from? That is not a scholarship to motivate a volunteer to dedicate his full time and commit to a long term ordeal, it is the salary of a full time employee. That alone is basis to rule out this proposal.

In addition, you told us here on the talk page that the WMF, or Sue, does not want a partnership, by which I understand an employee working at CR. I don't think it is in good standing to sneak that employee in under the disguise of the grants program - specially if the suggestion came from above, which I'm not saying is the case, but would then configure a troubling violation of transparency - not to say shady business.

As a parameter, Wikimedia Denmark is running a WiR program for half of $4.000 a month, and it seems to me that the cost of living in Denmark is higher than that in the US.

I recommend you proceed with the $3.000 alone, and if that is conditional to a WMF investment, than tone down both contributions proportionately, let's say to the value of the DK scholarship, something like $1.500 from CR and $500 from WMF a month.

Still, I have not judged the merit of the proposal, which as I said at least contains a valuable idea. I'll leave that to my GAC colleagues who seem to be doing a good job above.

Welly well, that's my "contribution", sorry :P

--Solstag (talk) 03:15, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Hi Solstag,
I appreciate your taking a close look at this proposal. It is of course your duty to be tough on such proposals, so you have nothing to be sorry about! I disagree with your conclusions, and will explain why, but I of course take them in the constructive spirit in which they are offered. I proposed this grant in the belief that it would be a good use of donor funds in service to the Wikimedia strategic goals, and I hope to persuade you that is the case. I will do my best to address your contributions point-by-point:
  1. (on replacing volunteer activities) I do not see a conflict here. I am certain that if there were a volunteer seeking to carry out these activities, that Consumer Reports would certainly jump at the chance to take advantage of the opportunity. But based on my experience and research, I do not believe such a volunteer exists. There have of course been volunteer Wikipedians in Residence in GLAM institutions in the past, and may be in the future; but the clear consensus in the U.S. GLAMwiki community is that demand for Wikipedians in Residence in the GLAM community is outstripping the availability of Wikipedians interested and able to play the role. This was one of the central premises of the GLAMcamp DC event recently funded in by this grants program, and I believe also of the U.S. Cultural Partnerships position recently established. Please note, while I believe it will be necessary for Wikipedian in Residence positions (in many cases) to be funded going forward, I am not proposing that the Wikimedia Foundation fund them in an ongoing capacity; I have proposed this specific grant because I believe it offers an opportunity to build a bridge to a model where the cost is borne by an outside entity. (As a side note, please also consider that one of the most central aspects of the residency is to promote and support volunteer engagement; this project, overall, is very much about volunteers.)
  2. (on funding salaries) I cannot say with authority how WMF or this program defines "salary," but if it is relevant these positions are temporary. And while there certainly exist salaries lower than the amount proposed, even the $4000/month figure is low when considering the narrow set of skills and abilities we are seeking. Wikipedian in Residence positions vary widely, and I do not know anything more about the Danish program than what is listed in the grant proposal; but I have followed the Wikipedian in Residence model closely, both by communicating regularly with those in the GLAMwiki world and through my own research, and I stand by my belief that this amount is reasonable. One thing I would point is that the residency recently posted at the British Library was funded at a similar level.
(conflict of interest) I must admit I am rather baffled by this point. What is the conflict you see, and why would it constitute a problem? There is certainly nothing to hide here; if you feel that I should state something more explicitly on the grant page about the relationships between the organizations, I can't see any reason why it would be a problem; just let me know what you'd like me to add, and I'll do so.
(why this amount) For this project, which aims to break new ground in the kind of collaboration possible between Wikipedia and a more traditional organization, a rare collection of strong skills (now outlined in more detail on the grant page) will be required. It is my understanding that recent recruitments for Wikipedians in Residence have drawn few applicants; and in this case, the skills required may make it desirable to recruit someone who does not live in the area. Even with much research, though, determining a rate comes down to a judgment call; it is as much an art as it is a science. We cannot know for certain how much is required until we post the position; but for this project to be a success, it is necessary to have someone begin in April, so a decision must be made. The best answer I can give you is this: I have made it a point to learn as much as possible about the Wikipedian in Residence model, even to the point of volunteering to plan and facilitate a three-day workshop; I have worked hard to understand the needs of Consumer Reports; and in my judgment, I do not feel confident that an amount less than $4000/month will attract the right candidates. I concede that I may be wrong, but I believe that I am right.
(my employment status) I have been compensated as a consultant for my work with Consumer Reports, and expect that to continue as I pursue projects in parallel and in collaboration with the Wikipedian in Residence.
(on appearances of this grant) It seems to me it is quite common for WMF to fund activities through the grants program that it is not willing to support with its own staff or more direct engagement. Although I believe I have a good understanding of this area, there are people here better qualified to address this point, so I will leave it at that. As for the history, although I have been in close contact with Sue about various aspects of this project, I have not spoken with her about it in any depth, and if I mentioned this grant proposal to her (I honestly don't remember) it was not more than in passing. Certainly, the general idea of a collaborative project came from above, but I don't believe that taints it in any way. Because of the open application process, where this entire proposal and discussion page are available for anyone to search and find on the Internet, I disagree that anyone would find it sneaky; but it's possible I'm missing something of course.
I hope this is useful. Please let me know if there is more you'd like me to address. -Pete F (talk) 07:58, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Update: I have reviewed the more recent discussion about the Danish Wikipedian in Residence program. Two points:
  • As I speculated above, this is a very different job description than the one currently proposed. The Danish position will involve working with staff who have already committed to spending staff time working with Wikipedia; the present proposal is to support the development of that kind of opportunity.
  • I had not anticipated that this might be a concern, but since I see it has been the subject of some controversy with the other position, let me state clearly: I have no intention of applying to fill this position myself. The present grant request would not be used to pay me. Furthermore, it will truly be an open recruitment; I do not have a specific person in mind for the position, and my role in the recruitment and decision will be only as an advisor, not a decision-maker. I can imagine that there might have been a perceived conflict of interest in this area, and I regret not stating this more clearly earlier on. -Pete F (talk) 19:27, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
One comment about "salary" in the guidelines -- the intent is to make clear that regular Wikimedia grants, as distinct from qualifying annual operating grants, should not be used to fund salaried long-term positions, i.e. permanent staff in chapters or other organizations. I should amend the description to better express that. Thank you, Ale, for pointing this out.
For the purpose of this proposal, though, like the WMDK one, the proposed contribution toward the prospective WIR's compensation is not to be considered a salary. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 19:45, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Pete and Asaf, for hepling clarify my understanding of this request.
To contextualize my thought and concern over those two rules in particular, I strongly hold the opinion that we only lack outreach volunteers because of the current ill conceived and unimaginative way wikimedia mobilizes for that today (i.e. chapters - not implying chapters should not exist or perform other functions), so in most places the reality, as you observe, is that we are stuck with this situation.
However, I am not opposed to funding labor, as in my understanding even hardware infrastructure is, in itself, labor - mostly of people in Asia who can't freely access Wikipedia. So, since Asaf now tells me that grants can support labor as long as it is not intended to be permanent, I no longer see a conflict with those rules. And the lack of volunteers would, as you suggest, justify the value of the salary. Still, I'll propose a twist detailed below.
My worry about conflicts of interest was very much based on the idea that this was trying to push into the Grants program something that did not belong to it. In that case, the participation of high ranking officials of both organizations has a different meaning. Since I was mistaken, I don't think there is anything to worry about.
Finally, the twist I would propose, which I'll phrase as a question, is: why isn't this - and perhaps every other WiR - a proposal for a community fellowhship? It just makes so much more sense to me. This is not a natural grant request, it doesn't even read like one. This is clearly a fellowship request by all means, and if we have a specific system for those, we should use it. If we don't like it, we should at least try to use it so we fail and register our demand for improvements before we appeal to an alternate system.
Some of the reasons that I think this is better suited as a fellowship:
  • It perfectly fits the description
  • You have no candidate for it and the fellowship process already keeps a list of potential candidates
  • You do not specify how the candidate is to be selected, which again is solved by the fellowship process
So, I think it would be a good idea to consider this possibility. :)
Have a nice week!
--Solstag (talk) 06:25, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
Ah, I understand your initial concerns better now, thank you for explaining.
It had not occurred to me to propose this as a fellowship, and now that I think about it, there are two reasons it didn't seem like a fit (which may be entirely wrong):
  • I had thought of fellowships as something that only the fellow him/herself would apply for, as opposed to a position designed by an organization to be filled at a later time; and
  • The idea of using a fellowship to fund part of a position seems unusual. (The person selected would be a Wikipedian in Residence for CR; would he/she also be a Wikimedia Fellow at the same time? Maybe it could work, but it seems strange.)
Anyway, I will keep this in mind and ask around in case of similar future projects; as for the present request, I will leave it as is unless I get a clear signal that the Fellowship program is a better fit, and that there is still time to have a new application reviewed in a timely fashion (which seems highly unlikely at this point). And as we approach the recruitment stage, I will be sure to check in with Siko to see if she knows of good candidates. I very much appreciate the suggestion and the explanation! -Pete F (talk) 14:17, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedians in Residence have been, and should remain, primarily funded by the hosting institution. This grant request seeks to essentially subsidize Consumer Reports' hiring of a WiR, but CR are still to pay the bulk of the WiR's stipend. From the Foundation's perspective, WiRs are not appropriate as Wikimedia Fellows. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 22:29, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm interesting! Doesn't that contradict the examples of previous funding that me and Peter used to discuss his proposal? I mean, I agree with that policy, but it seems WMF has been the primary funder of WiR programs in the past. I may be wrong, didn't read so carefully. Anyway, has it always been the case that WMF funding was always a small one-shot complement to resident's salary? Or is this new policy?
Also, regarding the fellowship program, I was considering how this would benefit from being some sort of partial fellowship, just by going through the same process of finding and matching a candidate to the job. However, if such decisions are to be left on the company's side, we should make it policy to not give compensation for WiR to the same partner more than once. This should be a one-shot, break-the-ice incentive program, not a permanent subsidizing of other non-profit's employees. --Solstag (talk) 23:07, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
No, the WMF has not been funding WiR programs before, generally. The one precedent was the WMDK request that you and Pete discussed, but it is not the preferred model. In general WiRs provide a great benefit to the host institution, and should therefore be funded by that institution.
You are possibly conflating the WiR funding with Liam Wyatt's "GLAM Fellowship" in the fiscal year 2010-2011. But Liam's WiR tenure at the British Museum predates the GLAM fellowship, and the one-year fellowship was not about being a WiR, but about outreach to GLAM institutions and helping local GLAM initiatives begin.
I completely agree with you that this should be a one-off grant rather than any kind of permanent or recurring contribution to Consumer Report's operating budget. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:20, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks again! This is all quite clear now, and I'm really glad the grant got approved! Congrats Pete :D --Solstag (talk) 05:30, 15 March 2012 (UTC)