Grants talk:PEG/WM US-DC/Projects 2014

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Hello, WMDC!

Thank you for your grant proposal. I think we all agree that editathons/hackathon/other-a-thons are a proven and wanted activity for a chapter. Small grants is a proven concept as well (I think it was my chapter which started this mechanism :) ) and I would like to express my full support.

Your goals look ambitious and encouraging. My key concern is: in Measures of success you write: Number of events, numbers of volunteers and volunteer-hours, number of institutional partners, number of articles created or improved, number of digitized documents, number of completed technical projects. - however, you did not provide a handy checklist there. :)
We read further about 2 scan-a-thons, 3 hack-a-thons (for 2 projects) and 10? edit-a-thons (including 8 with partnering institutions - ambitious goals!) - I let myself to add a summaried checklist there - please verify me. What is more, some additional numbers like a number of participants (total or Wikimedians/GLAM/tech people) you are expecting per event or a number of new items/images/etc. could be benefitial to monitor your success and check if e.g. the budget for food is appropriate (not too big, not too little).

Having written it, it can be a very productive year for your Chapter. Wishing you luck, aegis maelstrom δ 13:47, 17 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for the feedback. Personally, I wouldn't consider the number of events held, etc., to be measures of success, so much as they are the means by which we may (or may not) be successful in our goals. However, the checklist is fine if it helps with reviewing the proposal
Regarding the edit-a-thons, we're actually looking at holding around 13. Here's the math on that: we are looking to hold events with eight institutions, of which the Smithsonian is one, and we want to hold six with the Smithsonian. Seven non-Smithsonian edit-a-thons + six Smithsonian edit-a-thons = 13 total. That said, we're budgeting for ten since sometimes all of the event needs are covered by in-kind donations.
As for attendance figures, it's an interesting question because only recently have we begun collecting reliable attendance information (before, we relied on estimates). We are interested in measuring aggregate volunteer rates because our goal is to build a volunteer base, and counting the same person twice because he or she attended two events is counterproductive. For per-event cost accounting, we are starting with the $420/event mean price, with the understanding that some events will cost more and some will cost less. F/B orders for an event will depend on the number of RSVPs. If we ultimately save money on edit-a-thons, we can use the money on more edit-a-thons and more program activities for Wikimedia DC generally.
We have set targets for edit-a-thons because we have enough experience with them that we have a good sense of what a good number to short for is. The other program areas are relatively "experimental" for us, so it would be less reasonable to expect a specific outcome without the benefit of experience. That said, we will be measuring the things we do, so by next year we should be able to set more specific outcome targets.
harej (talk) 20:07, 17 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your prompt clarification! I do agree, things like events held are mere operational goals at best (better of worse suiting depending on the planning quality) and we too often fixate on them - but still many people find them useful to check how good we are in implementing plans :) and what obstacles were found.
Regarding the number of participants: not only it is valuable to evaluate costs (btw, do we have any "best practices in catering" etc. in the movement? :) ), but also it is telling something about your outreach, retaining the existing volunteer base etc. Basing on the trust principle I will not perform a cost control (I won't be able to audit it anyway :) and your number looks legit); however, if you are trying to observe numbers and their dynamics this is IMVHO important and more than fine. As a side note: being a chapter person myself, I am simply interested how your GLAM events look like and I need to remember to read your reports. :)
Once again good luck, aegis maelstrom δ 00:40, 18 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Post Scriptum: I have noticed that you have mentioned Cato Institute as one of the partnering organizations. Being an economist myself I recognize a very strong ideological stance of this org, which is set to promote highly controversial yet supported by U.S. establishment "very-rich-friendly" messages ("trickle-down economy", global warming denialism etc.). My belief is that assistance of such organizations will be always limited to obtaining the sources (like the Congress archives - but for me these can be even Ayn Rand's archives) and not giving them a stronger influence on the analytical part of the articles. I hope you understand and share my concern. Best, aegis maelstrom δ 08:24, 24 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for inquiring. The partnership with Cato concerns articles on legislation proposed in the United States Congress; see w:Wikipedia:WikiProject United States Federal Government Legislative Data. The project is oriented around using information provided by Congress itself as well as reliable third-party sources, so that information about Congress' activities can be read about on Wikipedia. Early on in the project I read and provided feedback on the Wikipedia articles that were written. I found them to be neutral and unobjectionable, and I trust that their efforts to date have been beneficial for the encyclopedia. harej (talk) 03:39, 25 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
* Understood, aegis maelstrom, and I share your concerns. I'm on the Wiki DC board and I pay attention and I think it's going well. I attended two wiki events (edit-a-thons basically) at the Cato Institute in the past year. We improved online free content and connected with new people. As far as I could tell there was not much ideological discussion, or discussion of trickle-down, tax cuts, global warming denialism, or other ideological topics. Our main host did not point attention in those directions. One subject of interest there was getting standard information online about the costs associated various pieces of legislation, which is sometimes gigantic. It was an entirely appropriate free-knowledge mission with neutral content. Another subject was to discuss how to appropriately store and track information on legislation. Good standards there would benefit the public, and things have not always moved along there as fast as they should. Cato tried to move it ahead.
Empirically: I don't think I heard any complaint by attendees or our ideologically-diverse chapter members that we went off track trying this partnership. This is important to watch and a criterion to apply is that when somebody objects, we hear it and note it and try to respond.
I think our chapter can be brave along the dimensions you mention and experiment broadly. Consider some constraints simultaneously:
(1) Most if not all partners have some interest other than broadly free knowledge. GLAM institution staff may want to show their collections, cite and wikilink to their own Web site, demonstrate relevance to the public, and draw attendance and donors. Academics may want to express their own views and findings and to cite themselves and to incorporate the points of view and terminology of their own fields into public discourse. Historical societies have focused and sometimes narrow interests on what was important and must be remembered. Partners have ideological predispositions and non-random funding sources. Partners are like that.
(2) They want more than just to provide sources. We invite them to participate in our system and and we need to be trust them at the keyboard. If we do not team up with them, they may do it anyway, using other sites or technical standards or evidentiary standards, and that's not for the best either.
(3) We are in Washington DC. We must be attentive to the institutions which are actually here and want to be partners and what they can bring to a partnership.
(4) Many of these partners receive government funding directly which is fine. We can improve free knowledge and neutrality by making sure to hear those who do not, and those who want to reduce it. The various players have legitimate and diverse motivations.
(5) We are obliged generally to identify our partners in public permanently.
(6) We are obliged to look after the fact at what happened. We will probably want to cease or rethink partnerships which generate conflict and complaints, or produce poor content, or systematically non-neutral content.
(7) We are obliged to watch for evidence of going off-mission. Our chapter's mission is clear and so far we haven't lost track of it.
==> Our chapter can experiment broadly and courageously and adapt to evidence. We are resolved to be careful along the lines you mention. -- econterms (talk) 08:38, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Evaluation by the GAC[edit]

GAC Members who read the grant request without comments[edit]

GAC Members who approve this grant request[edit]

  1. Good Luck! aegis maelstrom δ 14:09, 17 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. --Ilario (talk) 13:09, 23 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. Impressive plans. -- Roel (talk) 08:45, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. Great request.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 16:35, 29 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. Lots of planned events, success! MADe (talk) 17:23, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  6. I see a few problems in the grant, but they're all easily surmountable. I think it's a reasonable budget for a chapter of WMDC's size, and support funding the proposal. Kevin (talk) 23:10, 4 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  7. --MikyM (talk) 19:26, 9 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

GAC Members who oppose this grant request[edit]

GAC Members who abstain from voting/comment[edit]

More attention to 'reach'[edit]

Just a comment on this proposal. I think we all support the WMF's strategic goals. My special concern is "outreach" aspect to smaller languages. As such, it would advise the organisers to keep this in consideration when planning the events. As an example, there's an extensive Ethiopean community in DC, hence a specially themed "Ethiopia" event would really "bang it". MADe (talk) 17:13, 6 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Noted. Wiki DC's VP, Djembayz, is active in supporting Native American languages. We'll look to report specifics.-- econterms (talk) 16:37, 11 January 2014 (UTC) (Wiki DC treasurer)Reply[reply]
Yes, an Ethiopia event is a great suggestion. I discuss Wikipedia regularly with local speakers of smaller languages in DC, including Amharic, and I'd be happy to share my experiences by telephone or Skype with others. There is much more to say than can fit in a talk page comment.
Our chapter has laid the groundwork to connect with local cultural institutions and international organizations that hold resources in smaller languages, and it is pretty common for individuals attending our events to have an interest in the non-English Wikipedias.
On the community side, I'm finding that representatives of small language communities would prefer dealing with people who have the time and resources to commit to an ongoing work relationship, who are personally engaged with the community, and who are responsive to community leadership and needs.
My recommendation would be that when the Foundation is ready to move forward on small language outreach, DC is the optimal US location to base an outreach or GLAM position.
I would support amending our proposal to include funding for a small language community outreach position based in DC, if the Foundation is ready to move forward at this time. (If the preferred focus is specific language communities, you may wish to consider a different location. We can give you some input regarding potential community partners if desired.) Djembayz (talk) 21:15, 12 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMF comment on small-language outreach idea[edit]

It seems to me that we are far from having "cracked" the general problem of outreach, and specifically of outreach that results in new editors, even for the English Wikipedia. I would therefore discourage Wikimedia District of Columbia from embarking on small-language outreach programs without significant evidence of demand from said language communities, and at least one volunteer already active in the Wikipedia for that language as a native speaker. The existence of an Ethiopean diaspora in DC does not itself promise particular receptivity to the idea of volunteering time to create an encyclopedia in Amharic. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 07:17, 22 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your comment, Asaf. While I would consider small-language outreach to be consistent with our strategic priority to "cultivate diversity of participation and content," I would also agree that we are not presently in a position to move forward with such initiatives because of the very problem you highlight. Much of our current small-language outreach has been on a very small scale—person-to-person—and it will probably remain that way for some time. I would like to see us address small languages in the long term but I agree with sticking to English for now. harej (talk) 07:33, 22 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requested change to budget[edit]

Part 1:

Consistent with our submitted grant application for a Workshop Facilitator Training, I request the following changes to our budget:

  • Edit-a-thons:
    • Current budget: $4,200
    • New budget: $1,200
    • Transferred to WFT grant: $3,000
  • Scan-a-thons:
    • Current budget: $1,000
    • New budget: $0
    • Transferred to WFT grant: $1,000
  • Total transferred: $4,000

We have been extraordinarily successful in hosting edit-a-thons, being able to host many of them for either no cost or for less than the budgeted $420 per event. We held only one scan-a-thon this year, but for no cost, and we were able to exceed our annual target for uploaded documents during that event. We are anticipating these budget surpluses, and transferring them to another project lets us put this resource to better use.

We approve these changes to the budget and reallocating $4,000 from this grant to the Workshop Facilitator Training grant. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 19:43, 15 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Part 2:

We are expecting to have only two hack-a-thons this year instead of three. We have so far held one for about the budgeted $1,000. However, we would like to spend the remaining hack-a-thon budget on just one hack-a-thon. This extra funding would be used to bring in a "Wikidata expert" from San Francisco to help facilitate the hack-a-thon and provide a special Wikidata Training to our local community.

We request this because our first hack-a-thon, the Open Government WikiHack, focused on technical solutions to bridge the gap between open data repositories and Wikidata. However, the novelty of the Wikidata project meant few people in the room actually understood it. Further, those who responded to our post-event survey indicated that more technical assistance would have allowed them to be more productive during the event. We are interested therefore in bringing in someone who could teach us more about how Wikidata works and who can provide hands-on assistance. We have a specific person in mind who has volunteered to help.

Thank you.

harej (talk) 05:09, 31 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is the budget for bringing in this assistant facilitator:
  • Flight: $413 (based on price quote for SFO ↔ DCA for $375 plus 10% buffer)
  • Hotel: $312 (based on $104/night quote for hotel in Arlington, VA)
  • Per Diem: $140 (based on 75% of GSA rates for breakfast/dinner/incidentals; lunch is provided during the event; amounts further reduced for arrival/departure days)
  • Transit Subsidy: $12 (based on $2.90/trip quote from Crystal City to Archives)
  • Total: $877
Please let me know if you have any questions. harej (talk) 19:15, 22 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Alternatively, we could fly the person out on Sunday evening for $468 ($425 + 10% buffer), meaning one less night of hotel and one less day of per diem, bringing the total amount to $798. harej (talk) 19:21, 22 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is approved with two nights hotel. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 21:04, 22 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Historical note[edit]

The grant was received, the projects conducted, reports submitted to the WMF, and accepted by the WMF. I can provide further info if anyone needs it. econterms (talk) 00:08, 25 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]