Grants talk:PEG/The Workerpedia Project/Workerpedia Start-up

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Comments[edit]

Comments by MADe[edit]

Hey, a big request. Am looking into this. MADe (talk) 17:21, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments by Manuel[edit]

  1. the main budget items are HR costs. HR costs will only covered by PEG in exceptions. Generally speaking most of the budget is only administrative costs - there is hardly anything that can be linked to the actual creation of content.
  2. I'd recommend to start smaller - not invest 72k USD in webdesign, brands etc. Set up a wiki - that cost is really small - and start working on it. If it expands than there is a proof-of-concept and a grant proposal can be posted to help with the development.
  3. it is said that "LAS-ELC provides administrative support, office space [...]" - at the same time 23k USD are moved from this project into LAS-ELC.

--Manuel Schneider (talk) 18:38, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks for the comments, Manuel.

  1. We know that it is an exception for PEG grants to fund start-up costs for projects that ultimately will need annual plan funding. However, we do feel our project is an exceptional circumstance. All parties are in place to embark on an innovative project that has the potential to break new ground for the Wikimedia movement and to bring positive social change. However, participating in the APG process would delay the possibility of receiving funding through WMF until June 2015. Also, we do think that outreach and promotion will lead directly to the creation of content, and is particularly important given the novelty of the concept to legal educators.
  2. The difficulty with start-up costs is how speculative they are. A new organization needs some flexibility to learn as it goes. Some cost projections will overshoot actual costs, while other costs will fail to be anticipated. Certainly, where costs are overestimated those funds would be held in trust and returned to WMF. Our projections may be imprecise, and we may be able to operate on a leaner budget. However, we do believe that professional looking outreach materials will increase our ability to engage this new community of contributors and that this new service can and will be a game changer for both WMF and the workers' rights community in the US.
  3. LAS-ELC occupies half a floor of a highrise building in downtown San Francisco and employs a full time staff of 34. Their expenses are significant as well as their contributions to the project. New organizations like The Workerpedia Project face high hurdles to qualifying for tax exempt status in the US without an established organization like LAS-ELC serving as fiscal sponsor. It would take over a years time and significant funding for the project to receive tax exempt status without LAS-ELC's support. LAS-ELC will provide expert legal and operational advice which will engage the efforts of LAS-ELC staff and should be compensated. LAS-ELC will process funds, keep accounts, and prepare all mandatory reporting to governmental taxing agencies. LAS-ELC will also provide office space, computer support, and administrative support. Precise projections of actual costs are difficult to calculate in this first year of the program. However, as a rough estimate we seek to fund LAS-ELC at 15% of funds received, and set asides for LAS-ELC overhead would be decreased to match any decreases in general funds received from WMF. --Sean C. Murphy (talk)19:59, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments by Polimerek[edit]

It is simply out of scope. Maybe space in Incubator would be enough to support the project. But even for incubator this project is out of scope. Starting new wiki, which has no active community of editors with 60 k USD for salary for "interim director" and 4 k USD for logo - sounds ridiculous to me to be honest. Polimerek (talk) 18:45, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks for your comments and your honesty, Polimerek. We have considered becoming an "official" Wikimedia Project, and then, if I am understanding the Incubator correctly, that might be a good place for the project. However, for many reasons, that path was rejected. We believe that organizational independence will help this project grow more quickly and respond more nimbly to the particular challenges it will face.
I'm sorry you think the project sounds ridiculous, only because that doesn't really sound like an invitation to dialog, and we would like constructive input from experienced Wikimedians. I think many people have made similar comments about Wikipedia over the years, that it sounded ridiculous, and that is encouraging, because Wikipedia is both seemingly ridiculous and successful. We expect to face a lot of similar responses from the legal community, the older generation of which is already deeply suspicious of Wikipedia. However, we believe the immediate practical appeal of the service will encourage strong adoption in the legal services community and that educators slowly will follow. Part of the reason we are so focused on promotional materials is our belief that our primary battle is in educating potential users to the benefits. We believe that, with the proper education, adoption will be widespread and rapid, but that if initial adopters do not find the population of users and the utility of the sight growing at a healthy pace that the moment may be lost and the project unsuccessful.
Perhaps the estimate for logo design is high and can be trimmed. Our goal is to present professional looking materials which will encourage participation from a population unfamiliar with the benefits of collaborative resources like Wikipedia - from a population which might even think that resources like Wikipedia are so unreliable that they are ridiculous. However, we hope to educate potential contributors to what we believe is the truth - that our ideas are not ridiculous, just very novel. The director's salary is not unreasonable for a project of this size in this location, and we really don't see how the project can succeed without one person working at a high level to coordinate efforts, generate the bulk of policy and copywriting required, and to act as a spokesperson for the project. -- Sean C. Murphy (talk) 20:43, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments by Ilario[edit]

My position is really simple. I have an experience of 20 years in software development, project management, and more recently in IT architecture and in the service management and I think that this project is simply a huge project which focused to develop and implement something without a clear picture of the objectives and of the future strategy. A lot of money to develop something that probably will not survive if not supported by money or by a community. Too big to survive, too big to have a cheap budget. Without a clear strategy of the future update, it will be quickly outdated. --Ilario (talk) 20:26, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks for your comments, Ilario. It is a large project, and because of the novelty the future is somewhat unclear. However, we don't believe that the future is so unclear the project will fail. Indeed, there is an identified need in the US workers' rights community for a service like this. Other parties are trying to develop web based solutions for sharing information among activists and with workers, or have failed with past attempts. Unfortunately past and current efforts are often regional and fragmented, and always employ top-down, locked-door systems that will be, or have been, too cumbersome and expensive to maintain. Also, none of them provide comprehensive support for non-English speaking users and none seek to engage non-English speakers in improving their services. It will take significant effort to educate this community of contributors, but ultimately it will adopt and support the resource because of its economical, user driven approach and its multilingual capability. This community is looking for a solution like this. It is a community that is mired in old-fashioned ideas about how information is shared, and how credibility is established and reliability ensured in on-line communities, but it is also a community facing compelling pressures, and because of this a community that will, if educated, shed its biases and adopt the service because of its immediate practical advantages.
I'm not sure I understand the fear of the service becoming outdated. The Wikimedia platform is already well suited to our objectives and the Wikimedia community is constantly improving it. It seems the main thing needing updating will be content and that will be accomplished by the workers' organizations already regularly generating and updating self-help materials. Similarly, Workerpedia and Wikipedia contributors will continue to update summaries of the law as it develops, and the participation of the legal community will greatly improve these articles for both services.

--Sean C. Murphy (talk) 21:33, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments from ProtoplasmaKid[edit]

Hi Sean. Thanks for your detailed submission. However, I find quite simple out of the scope of the Wikimedia Grants Program. This support and encouraging to improve the related articles about workers' organizations can be part of the Wikimedia projects contents. Regards, --ProtoplasmaKid (WM-MX) (talk) 21:59, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Hi, Protoplasmakid. Thanks for your comment. I don't agree. WMF grants offer support “for individual contributors, teams, user groups, chapters, and other organizations working on building community and growing content on Wikimedia projects and sites.” WMF grantmakers seek “opportunities for growth in under-represented demographics, smaller and newer Wikimedia projects, and communities in the global south.” We are an organization working on building community and growing content on a Wikimedia based project and site. I think if WMF had intended to only support official Wikimedia Projects like Wikipedia, Wikitionary or Wikibooks it would have capitalized the word project and not have included the word "site." We are also a smaller and newer Wikimedia project, and we very much represent an opportunity for growth in under-represented demographics. Certainly, this is outside of the scope of what WMF has traditionally funded. However, the grant request I think does adhere to Program guidelines, and I hope that WMF will see in the novelty of the request an opportunity to expand the scope of past giving and to expand both the use of the software platform as well as the public's view of the benefits of the Wikimedia movement.
Early on, we did review the possibility of creating or participating in existing wikiprojects on Wikipedia. However, the Resource Pages in Workerpedia and their ability to function as a free directory listing service for non-profit workers' rights organizations are the features that will make Workerpedia successful and those features won't work without the creation of an independent wiki with specially tailored policies and outreach efforts.
I'm glad to have your input, and hope you will remain interested in the project as we move forward. Many workers move between the US and Mexico and you may have perspectives that can help to improve the project as we deal with the transnational issues that US workers face. --Sean C. Murphy (talk) 22:31, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments by Tony1[edit]

Sean, there is much to admire in the application text, and personally I find myself strongly supportive of this response to the dangerous and self-defeating hollowing out of the US middle class (courtesy of the Republican Party since Reegan's presidency). But regrettably this proposal doesn't fit into the PEG scheme, and it's hard to see how any part of the WMF could retain its distance from politics while directly funding such a program.

To be successful, it might require a significant narrowing of the scope and budget, so that the application is for activities that directly benefit the Foundation's education program, for example. We are a self-interested organisation, given that donors give money so we can pursue our stated priorities.

In short, it's all about Workerpedia; but it should mostly be about Wikimedia.

The grantmaking staff might well give you ideas for lateral thinking about how a smaller bid could be framed. It's worth asking them. Tony (talk) 04:48, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks for the positive comments, Tony.
I realize I have made the mistake of not making clear in this proposal Workerpedia's non-political nature. The service is intended to educate about existing rights and resources, not to advocate for reform, and policy will disallow the service to be used for fundraising or advocacy.
I also think Workerpedia's mission hews closely to Wikimedia's mission to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally." Workerpedia's mission is to empower people to develop material that educates about workers' rights. It's focus is currently on US workers and the growing non-English speaking and transnational communities that work in the US. The model could be applied globally, but providing this service for workers outside of the US is simply beyond the organization's collective expertise. In that way anyway, this project could be seen as being very much about Wikimedia.
We're seeing a moment, here in the US anyway, where government and social services are catching on to the power of collaborative models of information sharing. As new players join the open knowledge movement, working within the Wikimedia movement just makes sense. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, and the power of growing scope and participation within the movement benefits all players as shared information begins to aggregate in a homogenous system where we can all improve and re-purpose each other's contributions across sites fluidly because of a common model and common software platform. At heart Wikimedia is always serving a multiplicity of purposes: Wikimedia's purpose of empowering others to develop educational content, and the purposes of those empowered to develop educational materials. While those working to develop Workerpedia may have a soft spot for workers, that doesn't allow for a softening of the truth. The site will seek to develop consensus as to what rights workers have and what resources are available based on verifiable sources. It will not exclude contributions based on political point of view, and will encourage dissenting and unpopular opinions. --Sean C. Murphy (talk) 17:57, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments from Alleycat80[edit]

Hey, not to repeat what all of my peers said, I would just raise the point that asking for such a sum without any other supporters for funding, seems non-sustainable. By non sustainable I mean that - A) next year you would probably need budget => this year's budget, or you would have to close up shop; or B) you would have to use some of your teams' time to raise additional funds. This seems non efficient at best, and alarming - - your proposal would be much stronger and thus more acceptable with 2-3 other sources of funding Alleycat80 (talk) 14:45, 19 August 2014 (UTC).

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks for the feedback! --Sean C. Murphy (talk) 20:05, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments from WMF[edit]

Sean C. Murphy - Thank you for your proposal and your active engagement with the discussion. While we support the idea of Workerpedia, it is outside the scope of Wikimedia Foundation grants funding, as many GAC members have pointed out. You have obviously read our funding guidelines closely and we apologize for any confusion or mis-leading language. We fund volunteer projects that create or improve content on the Wikimedia projects. Funding for staff is only considered as an avenue to support an active volunteer community. While Workerpedia is in line with Wikimedia's general mission of empowering people and developing educational content under a free licsense, it is not closely aligned with impact on Wikimedia projects.

It is a great idea for this type of information to be collected on a wiki and we recommend seeking support from organizations dedicated to labor rights. One of our GAC members has offered to connect you with folks at Kol-Zchut, a similar endeavour in Israel, for ideas on growing the project. Please let us know if you'd like us to connect you. Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 21:40, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Response from Sean[edit]

Thanks, Alex! I'm glad you agree with us that this is a great use of the Wikimedia platform, and thank you for pointing us to the Kol-Zchut site. We would definitely like an introduction. Sorry for misunderstanding the scope of WMF grants and submitting such a lengthy proposal. I know GAC members and WMF staff must be very busy, and I appreciate all of the feedback. --Sean C. Murphy (talk) 20:20, 21 August 2014 (UTC)